A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how Creationist Eric Hovind had managed to obtain access to Troup County Comprehensive High School, where he gave a presentation promoting Creationism (even though he explicitly avoided saying that word or any religious term association with it) to a debate class. He claimed it was all about teaching “critical thinking” when, in reality, Creationism is all about accepting nonsense and avoiding evidence to the contrary.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Elizabeth Cavell sent a letter to the district last week wanting to know how this could have happened:
Creation Today’s website, www.creationtoday.org, explains that Eric Hovind has been engaged in “full-time ministry” since graduating college in 1999, and that he “lead[s] an apologetics ministry in the war against evolution and humanism.” Nothing in Hovind’s background indicates any expertise or experience in teaching “critical thinking” skills or any other topic relevant to secular education.
… it would have taken only a cursory glance at Creation Today’s website to verify its evangelical religious agenda. It is difficult for us to understand how this presentation could have been approved. Your community undoubtedly includes many people who have professional experience, training, and/or degrees and would be delighted, usually at no cost to the District, to discuss “critical thinking” with students interested in debate, and whose presence would not violate clear constitutional dictates.
There’s a bit of an update. The principal is now simultaneously saying that he doesn’t know exactly what Hovind spoke about in the classroom… but he *totally* knows it had nothing to do with religion (even though Creationism stems from religious belief):
THS Principal Chip Medders said in a phone interview, “no faith-based questions, no beliefs or opinions or anything of that nature” was discussed with students by creationist lecturer Eric Hovind…
Medders elaborated that Hovind’s presentation fit into the class’s curriculum and doubled down on extending the invitation to Hovind.
“This was a debate class,” he said. “This was a good pick for what the class was talking about.”
Medders on Tuesday said not all of the presentation was shown to students, but said he wasn’t sure which slides had been omitted.
“Less than half of the actual presentation was shown,” Medders said. “I cannot speak to how many of the slides (were omitted), but we only have 52-minute classes, so he probably spoke for 40 minutes or less.”
So he knows not everything was shown… but he doesn’t know which parts made it into the classroom. It’s all irrelevant, anyway, since the entire presentation is full of Creationist talking points.
Just because you introduce a few gaps in there doesn’t mean you get to dismiss the entire thing. (Ring a bell?)
LaGrange Daily News reporter Tyler H. Jones actually contacted a local geologist to look at the presentation… and then hilarity ensued:
Tim Chowns, a professor of geology at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton who has more than 30 years’ experience in public and private geology research and education, reviewed Hovind’s presentation for the Daily News. He concluded that Hovind may have been the perfect person to speak about “confirmation bias,” but for all the wrong reasons.
One slide in Hovind’s presentation, the 42nd of 116, claims that the existence of a complete column of the layers of the Earth does not exist, and that “perspective” is impossible.
“Mr. Hovind is quoting out of context,” Chowns said in an email to the Daily News. “A geologic column does exist and can be proved without resort to fossils. From an examination of the rocks on the Colorado Plateau, successive layers spanning Cambrian and Tertiary ages can be seen and dated by superposition.”
Simply put, Chowns said Hovind’s assertions are wrong and without basis in the observable world.
It also means Hovind’s presentation wasn’t really about “critical thinking,” as he said it was, but rather about pushing a particular point of view that the vast majority of expert scientists will tell you is pure nonsense.
All the principal needs to do is apologize, admit he made a mistake by inviting Hovind at the recommendation of a local pastor, admit he either didn’t review Hovind’s presentation thoroughly or didn’t think it was problematic, and explain the steps he’ll take to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Instead, Principal Medders is playing a game of denial, pretending that he had everything under control and ignoring the very real problem with what he did.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)