TX SBOE science hearings 1/21/2009 (with audio)

Audio files of the Texas Bd. of Ed. hearings on science standards, Jan. 21, 2009 can be played or downloaded from this post. Live blogging from the event was done by

Here are the audio files:

  • First hour (corresponds with Part I of the TFN blog)
  • Second hour (corresponds with Part II of the TFN blog before a 10-min break at 10:30)
  • Third hour (corresponds with Part II of the TFN blog after 10:30, through the 11:30 entry in Part III of the TFN blog)
  • Fourth hour This one runs about twenty minutes past one hour. McLeroy tried to cut it off as scheduled. A comical scuffle (I’ll write more later) made it look like the creationist “strengths and weaknesses” (Don’t you dare call us “creationists”) members would each get to add one more of their specially hand-picked testifiers. Whatever support they might have gotten from the other additional testifiers was blown away by the final one to speak, who apparently had missed the memo. I can’t do justice to his statement, but will just give the hint that he offered to share the list of 94 “evidences” against evolution. The first 25 minutes of this part are blogged in Part III of the TFN blog, which was interrupted at that point until after the lunch break.

The Board adjourned for lunch at 2:10. They resumed half an hour later with what should have been routine business electing officers and deciding committee assignments. They passed rules for allocating committee assignments, then polled members for their first & second preference for committee memberships. McLeroy then left the room with his fellow executive officers, and returned with a list of committee assignments that ignored the rules they had just decided on, as well as the members’ preferences. The effect was to keep members with seniority who were there before the creationist majority from getting their preferred places on the Instruction Committee (which deals with issues like this). When challenged, McLeroy was very authoritarian in declaring “This is how it will be.” The meeting got very acrimonious. It might affect how much some possibly wavering members on the TEKS might be inclined to go along with McLeroy for the sake of comity.

The squabbling also caused the microphone to be cut in and out, so I don’t have clean starts on some of the following segments, but I don’t think anything of substance is missing. (There was another eruption later when McLeroy said some members would have to miss this hearing to attend a conflicting committee meeting. He backed off on that one, costing only about ten minutes that time, but again causing a slight break in the recording.) Here are the files for the session after lunch:

Later I will post shorter segments, and smaller-sized files, like I did for the November 19 hearings.

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  1. Posted January 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the recordings, Tony.

    When I was listening live, I was shocked by how rudely McLeroy interrupted Dr. Hillis at the end of his remarks. It seemed to me that Dr. Hillis’s criticism of the Board’s reliance on out-of-state “experts” was certainly valid. How did this qualify as a breach of decorum?

    Was there something that happened earlier in the day that could explain why McLeroy took such offense to this criticism?

  2. Posted January 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink


    I’ll post more on this later. It will probably have to wait for the weekend, since I need to start responding to other obligations that have been neglected so I could do this.

    To respond briefly now — there’s not the sort of specific thing you’re asking about, but Hillis’ point seriously impeaches McLeroy’s whole process (see for example, http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/11/28/tx-six-experts-scandal/ and http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/mcleroy-vs-truth/ [compare his flare-up toward Wendee with this time toward Hillis]).

    What’s really amazing is the way Meyer came back with the line that for Hillis to take that stance was to make an argument from authority, which shows that Evolution Theory is in crisis, because a secure theory would be arguing from evidence, rather than from authority (!) — see the last file with Meyer.

  3. Tim Harris
    Posted January 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Who is the guy after about 25 minutes into Full Board Part A who talks about some supposed meeting of scientists where they meet together and talk about how to ‘shake students faith’? He says that he has a keen interest in science yet he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between a fact and a theory. The fact is there is no ‘evidence against evolution’, scientists have refuted it time and time again. The stuff that people are putting up now is the same stuff the fundamentalists were putting up in the 1950s, and it has all been shown to be based on misunderstandings, flawed interpretations, or outright falsehoods.

  4. Tim Harris
    Posted January 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I just realised that he also perpetuates the old microevolution-but-not-macroevolution canard. This is despite the fact that macroevolution, i.e. the origin of new species, has been observed.

  5. Posted January 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    This is great, Tony. Thanks for providing the audio files and the textual info.

  6. Posted January 26, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Tony, would you mind sending me MP3 files for the Thursday January 22nd meeting? You would not believe the things some members of the SBOE said. I need to parse out a few examples for reporters. Thanks for your help! (I can only get my hands on the streaming MP3 — I need random access to the file.)

  7. Posted January 26, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Tony, for your hard work. You are really helping the crew here in Texas who have organized to fight the Creationists on the SBOE. I myself don’t know how to take that audio stream and turn it into mp3 files, but I think the process is complicated. I have posted several important files at my blog at http://www.chron.com/commons/readerblogs/evosphere.html.

    Question asked: “I was shocked by how rudely McLeroy interrupted Dr. Hillis at the end of his remarks. It seemed to me that Dr. Hillis’s criticism of the Board’s reliance on out-of-state “experts” was certainly valid. How did this qualify as a breach of decorum?”

    Testifiers are supposed to address the chair at all times. They are not allowed to address another testifier or speak ill of any one, so McLeroy was correct in stopping Hillis. Stephen Meyer did this, too, when he called something Hillis said about the Cambrian Explosion (I think it was the increase in oxygen concentration in the water and atmosphere at the beginning of the Cambrian as an explanation for the rapid increase in diversity; Hillis wasn’t explicit, but the higher oxygen content allows invertebrates to secrete calcium carbonate to build hard exoskeletons, and that new adaptation really increased the number of niches available and diversity soared) a “half-baked idea.” He later apologized because that was a rude remark, but it was still entertaining to see one of America’s foremost pseudoscientists, who doesn’t have the slightest knowledge of what he’s talking about, criticize a statement of one of America’s foremost evolutionary scientists, member of the NAS, MacArthur Fellow, endowed professor, etc. The contrast was amusing, especially when Meyer complained of the Hillis using “arguments from authority” and then proceed to do exactly the same thing, except that Meyer has no scientific authority. He just speaks confidently as if he does. He is a true con artist.

  8. Posted January 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink


    Just based on my memory, I don’t agree about Hillis being out of order. I believe what he was saying when McLeroy lashed back at him was that he (Hillis) was astonished that instead of taking advantage of the expertise available at UT, they brought in who they did. That should not have come from Hillis, but I think it is a valid point if it came from anybody else.

    I think the quickness & vehemence of McL’s response (this time, & to Wendee H in Nov) might also have something to do with not wanting something like the ELAR hearings to break out again. There were a number of veiled references to that in November.

10 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Tony’s Curricublog with coverage and links to the audio feeds from Wednesday’s hearings …- see comments with the story about rudeness to scientists, from the SBOE [...]

  2. [...] offers a balanced but ultimately less detailed overview. And if you wish more, current detail, Tony’s curricublog has audio files of the [...]

  3. [...] Tony’s curricublog Tony Whitson’s blog on curriculum-related matters « TX SBOE science hearings 1/21/2009 (with audio) [...]

  4. [...] On November 19, SBOE chairman McLeroy said he read Ken Miller’s Only a Theory, but “I’m not convinced.” Wednesday, McLeroy asked Hillis about the origin of genetic information. After Hillis answered, McLeroy again said, “I’m not convinced” (playable/downloadable audio file here). [...]

  5. [...] Tony’s Curricublog, with links to the audio from the hearings and meetings Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Texas Ed Commissioner responds to biologistsThe BCS Nightmare to End All Nightmares: Texas Wins Big TonightIn Texas, a Line in the Curriculum Revives Evolution Debate – NYTimes.comMany High School Biology Teachers Still Teach Creationism [...]

  6. [...] Click here for audio files of the complete hearings on January 21. This entry was written by Tony Whitson and posted on January 26, 2009 at 12:15 pm and filed under Discourses, Education, Evolution, Intelligent Design, James Anthony Whitson, Religion, Science, Texas, blog, creationism. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Discourses (lexicon) [...]

  7. [...] Click here for audio of the January 21 hearings. [...]

  8. [...] around the 34 minute mark of Wetherington’s testimony, the following discussion happened between Leo (L) and Wetherington (W): L: Let’s say at the [...]

  9. [...] A response to the Discovery Institute’s criticism of Wetherington’s expert testimony Posted on April 21, 2009 by bort901 In a recent post over at the Discovery Institute’s blog, Evolution News and Views,David Klinghoffer writes about the expert testimony of Ronald Wetherington. Ronald Wetherington is an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University.  In his post, Klinghoeffer claims that Wetherington was “sloppy with his facts.”  Unfortunately, I can’t find a transcript of Wetherington’s testimony, but a recording can be found here. [...]

  10. [...] Click here for audio of the January 21 hearings [...]

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