Bad Astronomy

Texas: Doomed

Via the DefCon blog comes that news that Texas governor Rick Perry has appointed a creationist to head the Texas State Board of Education.

I’ll give you a moment to clean off your screen. Yes, you read that right.

At first I thought, “No, not even a politician in Texas could possibly do something that dumb, that contrary to reality, that horrifying to their kids. DefCon Blog must have gotten it wrong!”

And then I did a few searches. DefCon Blog got it right. According to the Dallas Morning News:


Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller … noted that in 2003, Dr. McLeroy was one of four board members who voted against proposed high school biology textbooks because he felt their coverage of evolution was “too dogmatic” and did not include possible flaws in Charles Darwin’s theory of how life on Earth evolved from lower forms.


That is straight out of the creationist tactics notebook. In case you’re not sure, the article goes on to quote McLeroy:

“It is wrong to teach opinion as fact,” he said.

Pssst! Someone needs to tell him it’s also unconstitutional to teach religion as science.

Here is an Op-Ed talking about McLeroy’s appointment as Board chair:

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn’t comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn’t factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation’s largest Baptist college.


In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory.

Here is a letter McLeroy sent out to his fellow State Board of Education members:

My Personal Confession

Given all the time in the world, I don’t think I could make a spider out of a rock. However, most of the books we are considering adopting, claim that Nothing made a spider out of a rock.


I don’t think I share a common ancestor with a tree. However, most of the books we are considering adopting, claim as a fact that we all share a common ancestor with a tree.

Brilliant! This guy doesn’t understand the most basic principles of biology, and he’s going to chair the State Board of Education. And hey, if he doesn’t understand something, why should it be taught at all?


Here is Don McLeroy’s own website, from the Favorite Quotations section:

The belief seems to be spreading that intellectuals are no wiser as mentors, or worthier as exemplars, than the witch doctors or priests of old. I share that scepticism.


Think that one through for a moment, folks. The new head of the Texas State Board of Education is an anti-intellectual. Note: he didn’t say this himself, he is quoting someone else; but it’s clearly a quotation he agrees with.

You can rail all you want and complain that I write too much about anti-science in the form of religious fundamentalism, but you would be wrong. I can’t write about this enough. It’s a disease, a virus, and now the brains of millions of schoolchildren in Texas are at risk. Worse, Texas (along with California) has an unusually large influence on what textbooks get used in the rest of the country, because they are such a large market for the publishers. If this antiscience, anti-intellectual, anti-reality man gets to help choose what textbooks go in Texas, then you parents out there who are reading this in New Hampshire, in Wyoming, in Oregon, in Virginia – your own kids are at risk here too.

Fighting this stuff is important.


And I leave you with this thought, unless we do something about it…

Science in Texas: