Support for Evolution Education Comes from a Surprising Source

Even though the Indiana Creationism Bill has been effectively killed (for now), there’s still a anti-evolution bill pending in New Hampshire.

Thankfully, someone testified against it in front of the House Education Committee yesterday:

“It would be a blow to our educational system, which is already in a bad state,” he said. “If evolution was not presented in the scientific sense, but rather the colloquial, people would be denied modern scientific information,” which would be disastrous for society, he said. “I fear that students not educated in scientific methodology would end up with less skilled jobs which would potentially cause them to overuse credit cards and go into debt and in a worst case scenario, live a life of poverty.”

Those are some powerful words… and they came from a 10-year-old.

Jackson Hinkle risked missing his class Valentine’s Day party yesterday to testify against a bill that he says would push a troubled educational system further into disrepair.

Jackson, 10, is passionate about science, particularly the study of evolution.

Jackson’s mother, Gillian, said the boy was insistent on speaking out against the bill. She didn’t have to push him into it at all, she said.

“This is who he is,” she said. “He’s very passionate; he goes deep into subjects.”

Jackson was planning the trip to testify in Concord all the way back in January. He stuck with it, even when he found out it meant he would miss the annual Valentine’s Day party at school, Gillian Hinkle said.

At least there was one level-headed person in the room. Let’s hope his testimony helps kill this bill, too.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Severalspeciesof

    Well, to be honest one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other (Less skilled jobs means overuse of credit), but at 10 years of age it’s a good start., and that’s a damn sight better thinking than many of our politicians…

  • gski

    Unfortunately those that would have us return to the 9th century will not understand nor except what he said and will feel comfortable dismissing it as the ramblings of a deceived child.

  • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

    When not burdened by indoctrination, superstition and bias children have a remarkable gift for clarity.

  • Mrschili

    It horrifies me that a TEN YEAR OLD is making more sense than our legislature.  I’ve about had it with those clowns, and can’t WAIT until November (‘it’s not just an election, it’s a restraining order’)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

      Looking at the New Hampshire constitution, it seems his age only bars him from being elected to the Senate; even if he can’t vote for himself, it looks like he could run for the House. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s not in the same district, so he can’t run a direct challenge to the incumbent [bleep] who’s behind the bill.

      Probably better if he finishes school first, anyway.

  • Larry Wangemann

    I am disappointed at the hypocrisy we free thinkers show when we applaud the children that take our side of an argument but get disgusted when the opposite side “uses” a child for their side.  We can’t have it both ways can we?  
    Let’s leave the children out of these things until they can reason FULLY on their own, shall we?

    • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

      Sounds like Jackson was motivated to do what he did all on his own. I know I wouldn’t stop my child from following an interest and taking some action on something they were passionate about.

      • Larry Wangemann

        It always SOUNDS like the child is speaking their mind, but don’t we know at that age (unless very gifted) they are mostly mimicking what the parents teach them?  Why is a child overly influenced on the religious side and totally independent on our side?  That doesn’t sit right with me.

        • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

          Sounds like you need to check out:

          http://www.lifebeforethedinosaurs.com/

        • Gunstargreen

           I feel the same as Larry. When children on the other side do this we cry that they’ve been indoctrinated.

          I detest the tactic of getting children involved in this kind of argument. It’s seems like you’re just doing it to add emotional appeal to your argument and feels dishonest to me.

          • Drakk

             I’m wondering what our threshold for “child” is – after all, Jessica Ahlquist is still a minor, and I am seeing nothing but unanimous praise for her actions.

            As far as I’m concerned, if it really is completely due to the child’s own thoughts, and not from pressure by family, there isn’t a problem in having them publicly speak out against things they disagree with.

        • ThoughtfullGuest

          As a parent, if my child came to me and asked to speak at a hearing like this I would encourage them. It means they care about something enough to be active about it, and are learning a constructive way to deal with problems or issues they disagree with. I think there is a difference between supporting a child’s efforts to make change in the world (and I say this for both side of the debate) and forcing them to go to protests and say what I want to say or hold signs I made them hold. 

          It is the difference between using a child as a prop and supporting them in their own endeavors. I can see that the two may look the same from an outside perspective, but if this is an honest choice the 10 year old made, then this experience may teach him a lot.

    • Daniel Schealler

      I call bullshit.

      Children are people too. They’re just as entitled to form, hold, and espouse an opinion as any adult.

      The way you assume that children cannot reason FULLY is extremely condescending. Who do you think you are to tell a child that they’re incapable of reasoning – fully or not? That’s only forgivable as an attempt at reverse psychology, and even then it’s still dubious.

      Children may be inexperienced, but they are not stupid. To the contrary, they can be alarmingly clever. They’re easily capable of learning how to reason and form justified opinions of their own.

      The trick is that it takes time and effort to quire these skills, so they have to be inclined to acquire it before they can pick them up. Note that this is true of adults as well.

      Since time is a factor, children are at a slight disadvantage that they haven’t had as much of that as an adult yet. But they also have an advantage over adults, which is that kids can pick up new skills and knowledge really freakin’ fast once they’re inclined to do so.

      So it’s simply incorrect to just assume that children cannot reason FULLY. And it’s discriminatory to use this incorrect view to dismiss them from the public sphere without a sound and relevant justification for doing so.

      The problem isn’t with children forming then representing opinions.

      The problem is with children being indoctrinated into an ideology. I agree that this is wrong, regardless of whether I’m personally committed to the ideology in question or not.

      The question is: Does the quoted paragraph from Jason above indicate that he has been indoctrinated into their position, or is the language, structure and delivery indicative of someone who has formed their own reasoned opinion on the subject?

      It’s a very small sample size, so we can’t be too confident – but I think that on the balance of what little we have, Jason reads like someone who has learned to reason clearly at a young age and has applied it those skills very well to the subject matter at hand.

      He is therefore entitled to his opinion and should be respected as an equal, not trivially condescended to as if he were an incapable non-person.

      I’ll go even further. If a child learns to reason and form opinions and then genuinely decides for themselves to pursue a religious ideology, then the same standard should apply. I would disagree with such a child, and I might dismiss their views if their arguments are poor. But I wouldn’t dismiss such a child’s views simply because they are a child. That wouldn’t be fair.

      You’ll notice here that my position is contingent on the available evidence. If it emerges down the track that Jason has been indoctrinated then I’ll update my position to fit that evidence.

      • Larry Wangemann

        Children are not “…people too. They’re just as entitled to form, hold, and espouse an opinion as any adult.” Certainly not legally.
        Should they be allowed to vote if they can grasp the nuances of politics as well as adults? And don’t forget this post was about politics. It’s a political hot topic this creation vs. evolution debate.
        If you think all children’s opinions are valid in these kinds of area perhaps my response wasn’t directed toward you. It was directed toward the kind of freethinkers who look at pro religious children speaking out in public with scorn toward the parent. Most of us do, but then we accept the children speaking out in public saying the things we believe.
        Perhaps you accept all children speaking in public on controversial subjects, in which case you wouldn’t be a hypocrit.
        Hypocrisy was my point, not the validity of children to form valid opinions as much.

        • Daniel Schealler

          If you can’t be bothered reading my whole argument, then why bother replying at all?

          Children are not “…people too. They’re just as entitled to form, hold, and espouse an opinion as any adult.” Certainly not legally. 

          I wasn’t speaking in terms of legality.

          That said, citation needed. Can you cite me case law or legislation that restricts freedom of conscience or expression for children?

          Should they be allowed to vote if they can grasp the nuances of politics as well as adults?

          I dismiss that as a red herring.

          Being entitled to form, hold, and espouse an opinion is not the same as the right to vote.

          They’re related, but not equivalent.

          And don’t forget this post was about politics. It’s a political hot topic this creation vs. evolution debate.

          I fail to see how that changes anything about my argument. Dismissed as irrelevant.

          If you think all children’s opinions are valid in these kinds of area perhaps my response wasn’t directed toward you.

          Misrepresentation. It is incorrect to characterize my view as that all children’s opinions are valid.


          clearly allow in my argument for children who have been indoctrinated, whose opinions are not valid.

          I   clearly  state in my argument that the validity of a child’s opinion is directly linked to the quality of the reasoning that supports that opinion. This is also true for adults. Arguments should be evaluated on the merit of the argument itself, not on the age of the argue-er.

          My position here is so clear that for you to misrepresent me as saying otherwise suggests that you did not read my entire argument before replying.

          It was directed toward the kind of freethinkers who look at pro religious children speaking out in public with scorn toward the parent.  Most of us do, but then we accept the children speaking out in public saying the things we believe.

          I am such a free thinker.

          You’ll note that I clearly state in my previous post that I am opposed to the indoctrination of children even when I agree with the ideology.

          The point I am making is that, based on current evidence, it does not appear that Jason has been indoctrinated.

          Combined with the misrepresentation of my position above, this is damning evidence that you did not read y entire argument before replying.

          Perhaps you accept all children speaking in public on controversial subjects, in which case you wouldn’t be a hypocrit. 
          Hypocrisy was my point, not the validity of children to form valid opinions as much.

          Already dealt with this above. My position is not that all children speaking in public are to be taken seriously.

          My position is that whether or not we take an argument seriously depends on the quality of the argument, not the age of the speaker.

          So we should not assume that children are incapable of forming and presenting sound arguments in support of their views.

    • Dan

      Larry, Science is on much better grounds than Bronze Age myths, so your comparison is inane. If you really can’t tell the difference between a child spouting hateful religious dogma and a child supporting good science education than I feel sorry for you.

    • Ndonnan

      this is exactlly what i was thinking,when a mother manipulates her son to hand out john 3.16 valentine cards its rightly condemed,but who really belives a 10yo came up with this rubbish on his own,wake up america

      • Daniel Schealler

        I think a 10 year old is capable of producing such arguments.

        I do not think the arguments presented by Jackson in the underlying article are rubbish. To the contrary. They were simply phrased, and all the more cogent because of it.

        For what it’s worth, I’m not an American either – I’m a Kiwi.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    10? Sounds like a new Queen Silver has come onto the scene.

  • Anonymous

    I live in NH and had a representative of Granite State Skeptics read a letter into the record (along with a number of other letters).  Discovery Institute was there (of course), obviously they aren’t spending a whole lot of time on any kind of actual research and have decided their time is better spent lobbying ignorant lawmakers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Is this really the kid’s decision of his parents? Well I’m guessing the kid’s, because the slippery slope argument he makes about poor scientific method education leading to credit card debt and poverty is pretty immature and childish. He gets points for using the word colloquial though. Dumb me had to look that word up.

  • Gillian Hinkle

    HI I’m Gillian Hinkle. Larry Meredith has it right. Jack wrote everything himself. He is an unusual child and no his IQ does not fall within two standard deviations on the bell curve. Jack read a Darwin biography in 3rd grade and later that summer Origin of Species.  I get crap from people all the time thinking I must be pushing him to do this stuff. In reality my views are much more moderate than my sons. For a real laugh and to prove that I didn’t coach him here is what he wrote in his first draft that I suggested he leave out. 

    Now I will state how these scenarios might play out. In the case of the
    mass bankruptcy let’s make an example. Say that this bill is passed and
    there is a teenager named Joe. He goes to a local school and in biology
    class and surprise! The school day has been lengthened by an hour
    because of biology class. This causes Joe to skip school for a total of
    six days out of the now above 200 day school year. Because the days that
    he missed it caused him to lose vital information which caused him to
    lose his chance to go to college so he got a minimum wage which didn’t
    pay all the expenses that were required so he started getting loans that
    he couldn’t pay back which sent him into bankruptcy. Thousands of
    similar scenarios could occur causing a financial meltdown because not
    enough people would be paying taxes required to keep the government
    running. And the taxes would only increase because new religions are
    constantly founded and people on archeological expeditions will often
    find rudiments of old religions. And because taxes weren’t being paid
    education wouldn’t get proper funding making the education system even
    worse.    


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