One of the most publicized debates over teaching evolution in 2005 was the improvement of science standards in Kansas by the state’s board of education (SBOE). (See some of our coverage of the Kansas standards debate here, here, and here.)
Thanks to Darwin only lobby groups like Kansas Citizens For Science there has bee a flood of misinformation about the standards in the media. It ws so bad that last year the SBOE published a statement of rationale explaining their decision. This did little to stop the mistaken claim that Kansas had forced intelligent design into the classroom.
Now the group that helped to revise the standards, Kansas Science Standards 2005, has published a clear and concise brochure answering the most common questions about the standards. You can download it here.
There are many good parts to this FAQ. One section in particular addresses Kansas’ definition of science. When the SBOE had hearings last year CSC senior fellow Dr. Jonathan Wells testified about the definition of science and Discovery issued a comprehensive study of all 50 states definitions of science, the conclusion of which was: The definition of science proposed in Kansas is fully consistent with definitions used by all other states in the U.S. By contrast, the definition of science currently used in the Kansas standards and defended by the Majority is idiosyncratic and out of step with current educational practice.
Q: How does the 2005 definition of science differ from the 2001 definition?
A: The 2005 definition replaces a novel definition of science not found in other state standards or the national standards with a traditional and objective definition. The 2005 traditional definition states: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.” [The definition continues for two more paragraphs that increase, rather than decrease the scientific rigor of this concept.]
Q: Does the 2005 definition redefine science?
A: No. It is a traditional definition that is consistent with other state science standards and the National Science Standards, is rigorously objective and focused on empiricism, derives from the Ohio Academy of Science definition, and is consistent with the definition embraced by the Supreme Court.
Q: Doesn’t the new definition imply that Kansas will now seek supernatural causes?
A: No. By describing science as an open-ended search for more adequate or reliable explanations of the natural world using empirical methods, it implies nothing about the supernatural.
Be sure to download this brochure and share it with your friends to counteract the misinformation about the standards.