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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The one year anniversary!

I just noticed that the blog is 1 year old today, so happy birthday to it!  Other famous events on March 19 are : 1997- Supreme court hears Internet indecency arguments, 1987-Jim Bakker resigns after a sex scandal with Jessica Hahn, and in 1915-Pluto photographed for the first time.  Yes there are a lot of other events, but most of them are sports stats, and I really didn't feel like listing all of them.  I'll admit that the posts haven't been coming out on a regular basis, which I hope to fix in the near future, and I still plan on writing about "The Family".  Due to work, home life, the blog has on occasion taken a back seat.   Don't worry, much like Jesus, I am always thinking of the faithful, and watching.  So you, put the brownie back, you said you were saving it for tomorrow, and you in the shed, that's not what that's used for.  You're going to hurt someone.

I know I've covered a handful of different topics, and tried several different formats.  It seems that the ones covering religion and the cryptids are the most popular.  As I've said, I don't want this to be a strictly atheist blog.  If the religious right (Reich?) attempts to put themselves into the ring concerning science or public policies, then damn right I'll fight.  I still want to cover some of the other things that cause people to either directly or indirectly cause harm to themselves and others, such as conspiracy theories and false medical claims.  If you have a topic that you would live to have me cover, let me know.  No topic is taboo, and no research is too strenuous.  In the near future, I hope to cover The Discovery Institute, which has been causing a lot of headaches lately, especially for the NCSE.  I may also do a post on Ken Hamm and his Answers in Genesis group.  I hope that my writing style has improved, and that more people are finding it at least tolerable, if not enjoyable.  I also hope to continue this for another year.  Sometimes the topics I want to cover come at me like a Gish Gallop, and it's difficult to pick one that I'll have the time to dig into and see whats going on.  Other times, they are so few and far between, finding one is like finding a homeopath that admits it's all placebo.  So stick with me, and let's hope the next revolution around the sun is even better.

Until next time, be good, be skeptical, and be home in time for dinner.

The Skeptical Okie

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Death of Oklahoma H.B. 1674

After a valiant attempt to grow and thrive, I must report on the passing of Oklahoma House Bill 1674, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom bill.  H.B. 1674 was allowed to expire before a final reading of the bill was performed.  News of its passing came to me on FaceBook from the NCSE.  I know this may come as a shock to some, but I believe it was for the best.  At least it has gone to a better place.  Namely the wastebasket of a file clerk in the Capitol.  I am happy that this atrocity of legislation never saw the light of day, but in all seriousness, how did it ever pass the Education Committee vote?  Like I stated in the previous post, the language is identical to bills put forward in other states, and is the same rhetoric used by the Discovery Institute.  How much influence do these people have with state politicians that these types of bills seem to be submitted every year?  There have already been 7 of these in 2013, and it's only March.  The skeptical community, and anyone that gives a damn about the future of the education of our children, is going to have to be diligent whenever these "education" bills are authored and put to a vote.  They also seem to go forward pretty quickly, so we have to move fast when they occur.  This was just a quick note about the status of the bill, so I will go ahead and sign off and hopefully sleep well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Update on HB 1674, Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act

O.K. folks, I was browsing the internet to see what I could learn about the anti-science education legislation bills that are currently floating around in the Oklahoma State House.  H.B. 1674 is apparently still alive, after being passed 9-8 on Feb. 9, 2013.  

The reps that voted Nay are Cannaday, Cox, Dewitt, McDaniel (J), Condit, Denney, McDaniel (C), and Virgin (no snickering) These fine folks need to be commended what they did, even though it seems to go against almost everything the rest of their peers are attempting.  

The reps that voted Yea are Blackwell (the author of the bill), Casey, Coody, Kern (of course, as well as being the co-author) Nelson, Nollan, Roberts (D), Smalley, and Thomsen.  These folks need to talk to a biologist, anthropologist, zoologist, or anyone else involved in one of the hard sciences to determine if there is any evidence that Intelligent Design (I.D.) actually has any basis in fact.  

I did notice that on the Nay side, while Cannaday, McDaniel (J) and (C), Condit, and Virgin are of the Democrat Party, the rest are actually Republicans and every single one that voted yea are Republican.

I also noticed that on the State of Oklahoma website, they list the effective date as "emergency"  Really????  WTF people.  It would appear that they are going to try and rush this bill through the House as quickly as they can and institute it immediately.  Similar bills have only passed in 2 states, Tennessee and Louisiana.  In Tennessee, even though it has passed, they advised school districts not to apply it, due to an uncertainty about the legality of the bill. The people trying to push "Intelligent Design" as a legitimate science, and not connected to religion are pointing out that there have been no lawsuits filed, so everything is fine and dandy, never mentioning that no district is enforcing it!!!  This info came from the OESE website, which is  They are the Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.    Another excellent group is the NCSE.  They are the National Center for Science Education.  They do a lot of fine work helping combat anti-science education legislation and discrimination across the country.  I suggest everyone that reads this blog and lives in the state of Oklahoma contact them and find out what they can do to help prevent an atrocity such as this from occurring.  If you don't know exactly who to contact, you can go here to find out who they are.  The members of the Common Education council are found here , so contact them as well. I know I am going to contact not only my state Representative, but also the members of the Common Education Council and inform them that allowing the students to use unfounded religious beliefs as a basis for scientific proof will undermine everything our science teachers have been trying to accomplish.  Bills such as these will leave the future generations woefully unprepared for college and employment, which in turn will effect our overall economy by making it less desirable for technology and science businesses to come and set up production or research centers.

I know that the bill does not specifically use the terms "Creation" or "Intelligent Design", and due to copyright protection, I really can't copy the whole bill and post it here for you to view.  I can, however, put up a link to the bill, which is here  If the link doesn't work, let me know, and I will attempt to fix it.  In the bill, one of the key phrases that clues people in that this is essentially a I.D. bill is "addresses scientific controversies".  This is the language that I.D. and creationism proponents have begun to use to slide these items past the casual reader.  It is a rather underhanded approach, but it may prove to be effective.  

Sorry there were no attempts at witty banter at the start, but as the Common Education Council puts it, the effective date for action on this issue is Emergency, and we need to act now.  Contact everyone you can, but remember to be respectful and polite.  If we come across as crass or rude, this will hurt us in the long run.  They will use poor attitudes as proof that without religion in the schools, everything will go to hell.  (I had to squeeze in one bad joke.)

For more information, you can leave a comment.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Science education and Oklahoma legislative failure.

Hey everyone, The Skeptical Okie here.  It's been fairly calm at the Skeptic headquarters, just busy.  First thing I've got to say is congratulations to the lawmakers that voted against Senate Bill 758.  For those that don't know, the was our most recent in Oklahoma to allow teachers to "teach the controversy" when it comes to topics such as evolution and climate change, or as the bills author, Gus Blackwell, puts it, allows students and teachers to question and explore the strengths and weaknesses of scientific controversies such as cloning, climate change, evolution, and the origin of life.  This bill would have diluted science education in the state to the same efficacy as homeopathy.  The problem is that a similar bill, House Bill 1674 is still live.  It is authored by Josh Brecheen, and appears to co-authored by guess who.  Yep Sally Kern. The  passage of bills like these would completely undermine science education in the state and severely hurt not just the state, but it would also hamper our children when they go to college.  They would enter a college biology classroom, and expect to be able to dispute any mention of evolution, and not be penalized for it.  Bills that "allow" people to disregard proven scientific principles in favor of a faith based approach to the way the world works will also slow scientific innovations as these students enter the work force.                                                                                  The authors of these bills have gotten creative in recent years and are careful to avoid any mention of creationism, which is a common tactic among the creationism proponents.  The National Center for Science Education fights these issues in every state, but they can't do it alone.  I'm urging every reader of this blog that resides in the state of Oklahoma to contact their state rep. and senator and tell them that these bills are damaging to the future of not only the state, but to the children as well.  They would also make us a laughing stock to the rest of the country, and if this trend continues to the other states, the entire world.  The creationist sect tries to pass these every couple of years, and so far, they haven't passed, yet.  They are getting sneakier with their wording, and they seem to get more support every time they put one of these mockeries forward for a vote.  It almost seems that education is just a political game for some of these folks, regardless of the actual long term effects they'll have.  "Education Bills" such as these should never even reach they floor.  They should be laughed at and mocked until they curl up and die.
    If the creationists could actually provide real, demonstrable evidence for their side of the "argument", then this might be a topic of discussion.  So far, every attempt to either prove their points or disprove what they feel are controversial topics have failed.  And their little battle cries of "teach the controversy" and  "there's no consensus" just goes to show that they haven't really looked into it.  They are simply buying into what their preacher, pastor, padre, or elder is telling them.  The controversies are primarily in their own heads.  For the most part, the scientific community agrees on evolution, climate change, the origin of life, and other subjects.  Their might be minor disagreements concerning the exact mechanisms, or a small details, but all in all, they are in agreement, ergo, a consensus.
    I know that this was a relatively short post, but we need to act soon to prevent this measure from passing. I am also getting so frustrated reading what these, and I'll be nice, people are trying to do to the education system in the state.  We are already ranked  42 in the country for science education.  Consider this a call to arms.  We need to fight for the future of the state, scientific literacy, and more importantly, the children.I am going to go ahead an wind this one up before I become less coherent than usual and really go off on a rant.  I hope to talk to everyone soon. Until next time, Be Goo, Be Well, and Be Skeptical.

The Skeptical Okie