Thursday, April 21, 2011

Math Skepticism Delayed is Math Skepticism Denied in Tennessee

A bill that could have opened the door for Math Skepticism in the Tennessee classroom is on hold until next year. The so-called "monkey bill," Senate Bill 893, would require state and local education authorities to inject some much-needed skepticism in the teaching of science.

Instead of merely learning one side of controversial theories such as evolution, abiogenesis, and climate change that have been subject to decades of experimental testing, evidence gathering, and peer review, students in the Nashville State would also have to learn competing theories such as Young-Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Hollow-Earth Expansion. Presumably, this would also apply to competing theories of mathematics, allowing teachers to also inject some much-needed skepticism into controversial theories such as multiplication, geometry, and algebra.

Unsurprisingly, math and science promoters such as the National Center for Science Indoctrination and the ACLU are hailing this as a victory. "It's taken eighty-six years," said Hedy "Hedley" Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, "but perhaps at last the Tennessee legislature is learning the lesson of the Scopes trial."

This lesson, I presume, is that in order to win, the bill's proponents need to bring in a populist firebrand lawyer from the North portrayed by Fredric March.