Republican Rick Brattin Wants To Ruin Science Education in Missouri January 12, 2012

Republican Rick Brattin Wants To Ruin Science Education in Missouri

Rick Brattin, a Republican state representative in Missouri, has sponsored a bill (HB 1227) that would require “equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design.”

What would that entail?

Course textbooks contain approximately an equal number of pages of relevant material teaching each viewpoint. Textbook materials include text, pictures, illustrations, graphs, tables, questions, discussion items, student exercises, teacher support material and other material supplied with the textbook, with freedom allowed the textbook publishers to arrange, substitute, or size material to provide an approximately equal teaching of each viewpoint for a specific textbook…

In the absence of course textbooks which provide equal treatment, written interim material may provide alternate viewpoints, with interim textbook material developed pursuant to subsection 6 of this section as a recommended source

So I guess Brattin wants to break out a Bible since there’s no credible scientific literature that opposes the idea of evolution…?

There’s a bright side, though. The bill includes some Pastafarian Bait:

If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught

Oh, good. Because I have a huge list of Creation Myths and I can’t wait for them all to get equal time in the classroom thanks to the Guy Who Has No Science Background.

Brattin’s own Facebook posting just reinforces the idea that he has has no idea what he’s talking about:

Seriously, everyone. Stop being obsurd. The 90% of Americans who know the least about science should totally be in charge of controlling the curriculum for everyone else. That’s how science works!

For what it’s worth, this bill has a long way to go before being enacted (or even discussed on the House floor), but the fact that a politician would even introduce it suggests that voters in Missouri elected a man who cares more about promoting his faith than making sure students in Missouri are well-educated.

Nearly identical bills to this one (HB 911 and HB 1722) were introduced in 2004, but the National Center for Science Education points out that “both bills died when the legislative session ended.”

***Edit***: Jon Voisey has a detailed explanation and thorough takedown of the bill.

(Thanks to Shane for the link)

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  • There’s no way , just based from what Missouri wants, that a textbook company will change its content. Textbook companies cater to CA and TX because they have the largest school age populations. If one of them were to want it, then they would make it happen.

  • Is there any way to educate creationists on matters of evolution in particular and science in general? 

  • Anonymous

    There is a great dissection of the bill here:

    Read it and you’ll realize that the guy is a clueless moron who doesn’t know what he’s talking about

  • Wow!  You’re quick, Hemant.  Thanks for getting this out there!

  • Well, he’s already sunk if this gets to a court case. His 90%  number isn’t the fraction that believes in intelligent design. It looks like he’s using the fraction that answers yes to belief in God, although I’m not sure which Gallup poll he is talking about. 

  • Anonymous

    The scary thing is that I wouldn’t be surprised the least if it were really 90%. I think the actual number is closer to 60%, which is still ridiculous

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m soooo tired of lawmakers who don’t have a clue continually wasting our time.  The Discovery Institute is responsible for wasting untold resources with their “teach the controversy” crap.

    I’d like to see him amend the bill with a requirement that they actually teach how things happened, with evidence.

  • “Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught”So after the schools teach the thousands of creation myths, when will they have time to teach anything else?  Also, does the bill allow for the teaching of science in churches?  Fair is fair, after all.

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t we go into churches and demand equal representation of alternative points of view?

  • The 2008 religious identification survey gives around 76% identifying as Christian, but that number has been steadily dropping for years, and that number is actually higher than some other 2008 surveys gave. So it seems safe to me to estimate that around 60-65% probably now self-identify as Christian. But there are a lot who don’t self-identify but still believe in God. Those nones are what matter. The percentage of the US that is of other religions, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu etc. is around 2% and so just doesn’t matter for these sorts of rough estimates. The ARIS numbers for the belief in God questions are complicated. Around 70% of Americans believe in a personal God (which means that some Christians don’t believe in a personal God. This may be similar to how their are some Jewish Atheists. I’m not sure.)EDIT: THE FOLLOWING IS WRONG: But there are other variants, and if you count all the variants of different types of God-belief the ARIS gets slightly over 80% for some form of belief in God. So closer to 90% than 60%. But when rounding to the nearest 10% it looks like Brattin is wrong.

    EDIT: I miscounted. It does come out to around 90% on the ARIS survey for belief in God. So Brattin is correct.

  • A Republican who can’t spell?  Colour me shocked!  Hey!  Mr. Congressman!  It’s spelled ‘absurd’ not ‘obsurd’.  Now I understand why they keep cutting education funding: They want everyone else to look and sound as stupid as they do!

    And can we stop saying “belief in evolution”?  I don’t have to believe in science because it’s based on actual evidence, not a 2000+ year-old book of boogeyman stories.

  • Anonymous

    I was referring the real figure of ID belief

    Though the god belief number is embarrassing too for such a highly developed country

  • Oh. Yes, that makes more sense in context. I agree with you that’s probably a reasonable estimate for the ID belief although I don’t offhand have a survey that specifically asks about that. 

  • Anonymous

    Oh boy. He just cited this site as proof for his position:

    What the hell is this? 1997? My fucking eyes!

  • Amanda

    Rick Brattin’s latest comment on facebook:  ” Seperation of church and
    state is always the Darwinian’s way to silence objectivity in the
    classroom. It takes just as much if not more faith to believe we evolved
    (by chance)from nothing into ultra complex beings as it does being
    created from a higher power…”

    Right… “faith”… I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Lance Finney

    I wonder if he’ll regret that statement in a deposition or trial.

  • Rich Wilson

    If he weren’t an elected official, I’d be screaming POE! at this point.  That page is mind blowing.

  • Anonymous

    It also again betrays his complete ignorance of evolution. First off evolution doesn’t concern itself with the origins of life. Second, evolution by natural selection is anything but random. Mutations may be random, but their effects are governed by outside forces

  • “Course textbooks contain approximately an equal number of pages of relevant material teaching each viewpoint.”

    So for the evolution pages, they’ll have loads of evidence: fossils, DNA comparisons, the tree of life, phylogeny, the various methods by which selection pressures shape a species and how it gives rise to new species… and then they’ll have a page that begins with “…but I don’t understand any of that, therefore it’s not true”.

    … they’re gonna have to make a whole lot of stuff up to fill the approximate equal pages, is all I’m sayin’!

  • So Rick Brattin thinks that the validity of scientific knowledge should be determined the same way that the winner of American Idol was determined, and the same way that he got his job, by popular vote. Well, I can understand his faith in that process. If he tried for a job where he had to show actual evidence for being qualified, he might have a much tougher time.

    Let’s see if scientific truth by general election could be useful:

    Truth Bill AB 12: Do the formaldehyde, benzine, chlorine, perchlorate, and dichlorophenoxyacetate that leak out of the state’s several chemical plants cause cancer?
    (Financial impact: If the bill passes, potential loss of hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in state funds from lawsuits, medical expenses, loss of jobs by the closure of plants, loss of state revenue from hundreds of people who die of cancer.  If the bill is defeated, zero costs.) Choose one:
    Yes____  No____

    Truth Bill SB 191: Will the large asteroid discovered last March strike the Earth?
    (Financial impact: If the bill passes, cost of at least 20 billion dollars to attempt to deflect the asteroid, and/or loss of state revenues from extinction of humanity and most plant and animal species.  If the bill is defeated, zero costs.)  Choose one:
    Yes____  No____

    Hey, truth-by-vote is a great idea! We can simply vote on what is or is not coming down on top of us. We save a lot of money and lives too!

  • It amazes me that people still try this stuff.  I’m in Kansas, and most of you have probably heard about the stage board of education passing ‘creationist’ trash, then all of the supporting board members being voted-out, and the rule being repealed.  Even in *Kansas* people knew better.  And most of this state consists of right-wing Christians.

    I can’t find it now, but in the last day or so saw a *wonderful* argument for teaching evolution and creationism, with the amount of space given to each being proportional to the evidence for each.  It worked-out in a lovely manner.  Roughly one word allowed for creationism.  Or maybe it was done in terms of class time, and was some fraction of a second ….

  • TheEndGame

    Are you fucking stupid a church is a house of God.  They teach theroies that can’t be proven. Adaptation by natural selection can, but there is no way to prove that we and every other living thing can from primordial ooze, they can’t even test it. You cock smoking aethist are so hell bent on being complete antireligion that when anyone says anything related to God, you are up at arms. We are in the Goddamn United States of America and everyone has a right to voice there beliefs if they chose; so get the stick out of your ass and just be passive about what you are.

  • Sara

    Voicing beliefs is fine. Teaching myths in a science class goes beyond that. Should we teach that it is also possible that fairies exist? No? Because there’s no reason to think that they do, even if a whole lot of books disagree. People are still welcome to believe in fairies themselves.

  • Chrissy Jones


  • Anonymous

    The post that Stev84 was talking about above has now been removed…of course this is after about 35 comments had been made discussing how horribly stupid and unscientific the site was.

  • Anonymous

    yeah he was touting this a “scientific” explanation in support of ID. I know I was going to take a SS of that post last night but I don’t recall if I ever ended up doing it. Will have to check whether I have the save at home tonight.

  • Anonymous

    Awww, now I’m hurt and sad 🙁

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t even matter what that article says. The fact that the web design is a crime against humanity is enough to dismiss it out of hand

  • Rich Wilson

    I happen to have it open in a browser window from last night, so luckily I saw this first and took some screenshots, if anyone wants them.

  • “… everyone has a right to voice there beliefs if they chose; so get the
    stick out of your ass and just be passive about what you are.”

    Anybody here besides me see what’s facepalm-worthy about this statement? That’s like telling an anti-war protester “People DIED for Freedom of Speech, so STFU!”


  • When I first saw this story, I thought it was about Indiana, where we have the same bill looming in our “The Best Legislature Money Can Buy”. So who’s responsible? Is the Discovery Institute sending this out, with a nice, fat check paper-clipped to it?
    These people aren’t smart enough to come up with this on their own. Now, the stupid bill that would levy a $25 fine for mangling “The Star Spangled Banner”, yes, that kind of stupid shit is home-grown. Religious bills and “Right-to-Work”(for less) bills come from Think Tanks.

  • Tygea42

    Or more likely, they want to have the space that evolution has to present its evidence cut down as to make it appear to not be a well supported theory.  More than one way to make the sections have similar page counts.

  • Rich Wilson

    Well if it’s a page count, then I hope those new blank pages aren’t glossy.  It’s harder to doodle on glossy paper.

  • Rich Wilson

    His own site looks better (except for some of the image repeats on a larger monitor are pretty amateurish) and the rollover menu with the missing rollover images.  I wonder what family/church member made it for him.

  • Tom

    It’s hard to imagine a more naive method of evaluating the information content of a text, let alone the validity of that information, than by counting its pages.  But I suppose it was the best this guy could come up with without having to, you know, actually read them.

  • Anthony Dvorak

    In addition to this bill, there is another relevant one co-sponsored by this guy: 

    This one is a lot more subtle, but it’s pretty clear what they’re trying to accomplish by essentially providing legal encouragement for teaching “biological and chemical evolution” as “controversial issues”.As a resident of Missouri, here’s hoping that they both fail.

  • Rich Wilson

    controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution

    This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and this section shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion. Scientific information includes physical evidence and logical inferences based upon evidence.

    He actually thinks there is a controversy surrounding evolution.   I wish it were as simple as giving him some free biology lessons.  But unfortunately he needs a lesson in the Dunning-Kruger effect first.

  • Nathan

    I’m from Missouri and I was pretty sad to see this being proposed. I thought this crap was over with. I doubt it will make it anywhere, but I don’t want morons like that making laws in my state. I just wish some of these idiots were in my district so I could vote them out.

  • Old Fogey

    Curiously, just in the news today, in England regulations have just been presented by the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) to prevent the teaching of Creationism etc as science in state financed schools.

    This has passed almost without notice.

  • Mutantcaveman

    my wife just got banned from this guys facebook page.  shows what happens when you post actual survey results that he misrepresents, and then ask him for his sources. 

  • TGAP Dad

    I just read Brattin’s bio. He appears to have a literacy problem as well. (I know – how rare in the bible belt…) He – or his staffer – don’t know the difference between “waiver” and “waver.” I can’t help but think there’s a connection between illiteracy and bible-thumpin’.

  • Barry Swedlow

    I think if intelligent design should be taught in a classroom about how we came about then we need to give equal time to ALL of the intelligent design mmodels including but not limited to God, Vishnu, Shiva, odin, Zeus etc.  they all have an intelligent designer in all of their stories why do we only get to hear the God one?  Atheists are really NO different than people tha choose a religion, we just choos one more god not to believe in than you.

  • Marco Conti

    The site is not only a design crime against humanity, but most of the articles are the sort of nonsense you find in new age and conspiracy sites. Angels, speaking with the dead, 911 conspiracies. A site to behold.

  • Marco Conti

    It may be 90% for belief in god, but not belief in ID or creation. The catholic church has been OK with Evolution for quite some time even if they believe that the whole process was initiated by their god. Other christian denominations also are OK with evolution. So claiming that belief in god = belief in ID is false and by a pretty big margin.

  • Rich Wilson
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