SC Education Committee Votes to Weaken Evolution

Remember Mike Fair, the South Carolina state senator who tried to prevent the mammoth from being named the state fossil unless it had Biblical language in the proclamation? Well he’s back and still trying anything he can to undermine the validity of evolution as taught in schools.

South Carolina’s current standards require that students “demonstrate an understanding of biological evolution and the diversity of life,” including exemplifying “scientific evidence in the fields of anatomy, embryology, biochemistry, and paleontology that underlies the theory of biological evolution” and summarizing “ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” Even this was too much for State Senator Mike Fair (R), a member of the Oversight Committee and joint panel, who proposed that the state should teach “Darwinian natural selection” as a theory rather than a fact. His initial proposal would have required teachers to “teach the controversy” about evolution and forced students to construct arguments both in support and against it.

Fair and the five other members of the joint education panel embraced compromise language Tuesday to teach South Carolina students that “scientific conclusions are tested by experiment and observation, and evolution, as with any aspect of science, is continually open to and subject to experimental and observational testing,” and require that they “understand assumptions scientists make in situations where direct evidence is limited and understand that all theories may change as new scientific information is obtained.”

Fair praised these new rules on Tuesday, telling WBTW he hoped they would “stimulate even more in-depth questions, which then will beg for some critical thinking to come up with some opinions, and some inferences made by the students.”

If this is really all about open inquiry, why is evolution being singled out? Of course theories may change as new evidence is discovered, but that’s true of the germ theory of disease, gravity and every other scientific theory we teach in schools. But he only demands that this be taught about theories he disagrees with. I think that pretty much gives up the game.

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  • alanb

    This sounds like the Cobb County textbook case. When Ken Miller was asked what he thought about having a sticker attached to his biology textbook, he said that he would be in favor of it as long as the same sticker were put on all science books. His proposed wording:

    This textbook has material on science. Science is built around theories which are strongly supported by factual evidence. Everything in science should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

  • abb3w

    If they weren’t pointing specifically at evolution as an example, and also spent some time on the details of that revision process, maybe; in particular, on how much new evidence you need to pile up to overturn the extant theory.

    But I ain’t holding my breath.

  • ianeymeaney

    “Arguments both in support and against it.”

    For: everything scientists have learned in the past 150 years

    Against: Gawd and a bunch of ridiculous flat-earther fairy tales that make no sense whatsoever

    I think I know which way I would go on this subject.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Where are the party whips when you need them? In many political systems the whip keeps the ratbags under control, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the USA.

  • It appears, at least to me, that evolution has already been seriously weakened in SC–state lege being one of the better exemplars.


    The “ratbags” are RUNNING the lege.

  • Ichthyic

    who proposed that the state should teach “Darwinian natural selection” as a theory rather than a fact.

    good thing that is how evolution is taught then, as a scientific theory.

    oh wait, that’s right, Mr Moron doesn’t actually know what the definition of a scientific theory is.

  • drken

    I was a student at the U of South Carolina back in the late ’80s. Mike Fair was on the board of governors and spent a fair (see what I did there?) amount of time obsessing over our sex lives. Got to give him credit, he’s been able to rise from a mere local nuisance to a national embarrassment. In the future, I’m sure we can count on him to give us more entertainment from the Palmetto State .