Emergency! (not OK in Oklahoma)

First out-of-the-gate in what will be this year’s rash of “Academic Freedom” [i.e., anti-Bio-science] bills is S.B. 320, Oklahoma’s self-styled “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” introduced to address the “Emergency” now threatening that state:

SECTION 3.  It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

(The entirety of Section 2 reads, “This act shall become effective July 1, 2009.” They’ll leave it to the judges to reconcile this, and then castigate them for “legislating from the bench,” I suppose.)

There’s a lot of mischief here; but it’s a short bill, so there’s no need for synopsis — just click here and read it for yourself (note: I downloaded it today from http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/2009-10bills/SB/sb320_int.rtf ( rtf document for word processors); but that’s not working right now, so I’ve converted to the pdf that’s linked here).

I see the heart of it in Section 1.C.:

Such educational authorities in this state shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught. [emphasis added]

A couple comments:

  1. A scientific controversy is a controversy within the science. A controversy in the general public over whether or not to accept (or to “believe”) the science in question is not itself a “scientific controversy.”
  2. As has been explained ad nauseam in Texas, the language of “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” is language that makes no scientific sense.

For a long time, I resisted making “Texas” a blog category here. I’ve learned better, so I’m starting the Oklahoma category now.

For more, see the post on Creationists’ new legistlative maneuvering: state “Academic Freedom” acts,  and the Category archives for Intellectual and Academic Freedom.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 8, 2009 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    My guess is that the “emergency” part of the bill is going to kill it. Legislators who know that these bills are nonsense are sometimes terrified to oppose them, for fear of angering a segment of the population. But the emergency clause makes it genuinely laughable.


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