Mercer Still Attacking Science and Teachers

How in the world did we miss this? Seems that in August, Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, had some interesting things to say about science and social studies curriculum standards on a Tea Party radio program. Speaking on the San Antonio Tea Party’s Boiling Point radio show, Mercer offered much of the usual commentary we’ve come to expect from the state board’s far-right members. But some of what he said was more revealing than he probably intended.

For example, Mercer claims during the radio interview that one of his particularly goofy arguments against evolutionary science in 2009 was just a joke. But as he continues, it sounds like he really does believe that the absence of “dog-cats” and “cat-rats” makes the case against evolution:

“If your theory’s right, all these species would get together and form a new species, then where is the cat-dog or the rat-cat, whatever it be. They don’t come together. Cats go with cats, and dogs go with dogs.”

Mercer also exposes what he and other creationists on the board were trying to do when they revised the science curriculum standards two years ago. In fact, they were doing what we have said all along — just looking for ways to get creationist (read: nonscience) arguments into classroom discussions of evolutionary science by pretending there’s really a “debate” over the issue among scientists:

“We cannot teach openly creation and ‘intelligent design,’ but where we draw the line is that we allow kids to ask honest questions in class. And that’s the strength of it right there because sometimes in debate it isn’t you really don’t have to prove your point, but if you can just prove another point.”

Mercer repeated (over and over) his misleading contention that supporters of teaching evolutionary science don’t want students asking questions. That’s nonsense, of course. Asking questions is one way students learn. What science supporters were saying two years ago (and since) is that 15-year-old kids simply don’t have the knowledge to critique with any real authority the overwhelming scientific evidence behind evolution, the foundation of the biological sciences. But now we really know what Mercer and other creationists mean when they say “ask questions” — they mean parroting unsupported arguments that scientists debunked long ago.

Other comments from Mercer once again reveal his contempt for teachers. In discussing the state board’s deeply controversial revision of social studies curriculum standards last year, he smears educators and scholars involved in that process as “America bashers and America haters.” And he claims that he and his far-right colleagues on the board were simply trying to “educate” schoolchildren:

“Conservatives believe  in a thing called education. The far left believes in a thing called political indoctrination. And that’s the big difference. We want our kids educated, not indoctrinated.”

That  might make a good soundbite, Ken, but here’s what the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute wrote this year about the political hash you and other board members made of the social studies standards:

“Texas’s heavily politicized 2010 revisions to its social studies curriculum have attracted massive national attention. Indeed, both in public hearings and press interviews, the leaders of the State Board of Education made no secret of their evangelical Christian-right agenda, promising to inculcate biblical principles, patriotic values, and American exceptionalism. And politics do figure heavily in the resulting TEKS. . . .

Complex historical issues are obscured with blatant politicizing throughout the document. Biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented. The complicated but undeniable history of separation between church and state is flatly dismissed. From the earliest grades, students are pressed to uncritically celebrate the ‘free enterprise system and its benefits.’ ‘Minimal government intrusion’ is hailed as key to the early nineteenth-century commercial boom—ignoring the critical role of the state and federal governments in internal improvements and economic expansion.”

You can listen to all of Mercer’s radio interview here. All of the Fordham Institute’s devastating critique of the social studies standards is here. We figure Mercer probably hasn’t read it. He’s too busy trying to justify the damage he and his board colleagues have done to the education of Texas schoolchildren.

This article was posted in these categories: creationism, evolution, Ken Mercer, science. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a Comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


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27 Comments

  1. Mind King
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Although State Board of Education members are normally elected to a four-year term of office, all seats will be up for election in November 2012 due to redistricting. Time to un-elect him… He has a degree in Biology, but does not believe in evolution? Science is NOT about selectively choosing which information fits your interpretation of the World, and then imposing that viewpoint on others…

  2. Mind King
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Pig and Elephant DNA just don’t match… Impressive how much members of the “School Board” know about genetics. I’m sure that if they went to college, they could have learned that evolution can be observed in a test tube, and in a 50 year ongoing experiment on Silver Foxes in Russia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox
    So, why deny evolution that is a proven repeatable scientific fact in spite of direct evidence across the entire spectrum of living organisms; Because some want to indoctrinate young minds with religious interpretations of how flat the World is, or how the Sun revolves around the Earth, or other beliefs defined by imagination and not fact…

  3. Charles
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    My point is that we would be better off if we could rid ourselves of certain jeans—and maybe a few shirt pockets. Of course, it could be argued that these often very unhelpful and destructive jeans have an adaptive advantage or else they would not exist. For example, the Lamericus Davidson aggression is not very helpful on a Saturday night in a civilized town, but they are great when when the space aliens attack.

  4. Wen
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It seems clear to me that had Mr. Mercer had a course in science that dealt with evolution to the degree it should have, he would understand the word ‘species’ and hence understand how ridiculous his attempt to mix disparate animals is. Charles: The refinement of hominids from the branch point with chimpanzees began several hundreds of thousands of years before early homo sapiens started getting the idea of a god and that there was a savior of some of you. We still share many genes with chimpanzees, but of course also with other species.

  5. Doc Bill
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I would be delighted for Mercer to watch, and understand, this video, but, alas, Mercer’s mental capability, vocabulary, attention span and every other metric is far too low for that to happen.

    AronRa’s video on doggies is just as good, too. Worth going to his YouTube channel for a surf.

  6. JamesBreck
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    There is a common talking point that runs through the public statments of not only Mercer but board member Barbara Cowgirl, as well as former board members Don McLeroid and Cynthia Dumbar. And that is “if you’re not in lock step with our agenda then you’re a liberal.” This despite the fact in survey after survey, including one conducted just 6 weeks ago, the vast majority of Americans believe the government should stay out of the religion business. The latest number is 91%. If the SBOE-cons actually believe their own propaganda then they are seriously in need of stepping away from the crack pipe.

    Heck even dear old Pat Robertson, who is so out of it he still talks to Reagan on the phone twice a day, says it’s time for the GOP to jettison the extremist agenda.

  7. Heywood Jabuzov
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    This guy is his own best argument against evolution…he shouldn’t be able to be this dumb and still survive.

  8. Charles
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Lemaricus Davidson

    From Wikipedia:

    According to news reports, Christian and Newsom had gone on a date at a local restaurant on Saturday, January 6, 2007, but did not return home. During their night out, the couple were hijacked, bound and blindfolded by three males, and “taken back to Lemaricus Devall ‘Slim’ Davidson’s rented house on Chipman Street.”[6]

    Christian’s parents found her abandoned Toyota 4-Runner two blocks away from the Chipman Street house the following Monday with the help of her mobile phone provider. An envelope recovered from the vehicle yielded fingerprint evidence that led police to Lemaricus Davidson and 2316 Chipman Street. When police went to the address on Tuesday, January 9, they found the home unoccupied and Christian’s body in a trash can in the kitchen.

    According to the testimony of the Knox County Acting Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan at the subsequent trial of Eric Boyd, Newsom was repeatedly sodomized with an object and then blindfolded, gagged, arms and feet bound and his head covered. Barefoot, he was either led or dragged outside the house to a set of nearby railroad tracks. He was shot in the back of the head, the neck, and the back, and his body then set on fire.

    Channon’s death came only after hours of sexual torture, medical examiner Mileusnic-Polchan testified. Channon suffered horrific injuries to her vagina, anus and mouth. She was not only raped but savaged with “an object,” possibly a broken chair leg, the doctor testified. She was beaten in the head. Some type of chemical was poured down her throat, and her body, including her bleeding and battered genital area, likely scrubbed with the same solution – all while Channon was alive, the forensic expert said. She was then “hog-tied,” with curtains and strips of bedding, her face covered tightly with a small trash bag and her body stashed inside five large trash bags before being placed inside a large trash can and covered with sheets. Channon died slowly, suffocating, the medical examiner said.[7]

  9. Charles
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Jesus came to save us from the chimpanzee common ancestor still left within us all. All of us have it to some varying degrees. The problem is that many people have a whole lot more of it, and some people have so much that they are defined by it. Michele Bachmann might be a good examples of the more than average. Lemaricus Davidson would be a good example on the upper end of the spectrum.

    Whoever we are, Christian, atheist, Jewish, Buddhist—the goal is to kill the chimp that still remains and proceed on to something better. That’s my view.

  10. AuntBec
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    @canonical if your point was that all of the Tea Party folks are idiots, then you were right on point.

  11. webmaster@canonical.com
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Well, you have to fight idiots like Obama and Pelosi with idiots. They don’t understand anything else.

  12. Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, said that until the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel, homicide bombing would never stop. (She said suicide, but homicide bombers is what they are.)

    IF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY LOVED THEIR COUNTRY MORE THAN THEY LOVED THEIR PARTY, WE COULD GET THIS COUNTRY MOVING FORWARD AGAIN.

    El Sapo asked: How could evolution produce a moron like Mercer!! Easy. Along with EVOLUTION there is DEVOLUTION, he’s on his way back to the trees as are all Luddites, you know, just like Tearepublicants.

    I’m actively attempting to keep my anger in check before it turns into all out RAGE.

    millsapian87 said, intelligently: As someone once observed, if you want to know what the Republicans are up to, see what they’re accusing the Democrats of doing. This is some world-class psychological projection right here.

    Whenever I see Paul Rand spouting his hatred of the left I want to tear his throat out with my teeth (if I had any ) He and the rest of his Klan are so out of touch with what this country is going through that they think that people are just complaining for the sake of complaining. When I hear Republicans say that we progressives do not love America, the world-class psychological projection kicks in. I love this country; I’m a third generation American yet, ONLY because I am a Jew, I was told that I ought to be deported; that was last week! I was told because as a Jew I could not possibly love this country, I loved Israel, not the U.S.

    I asked the individual where he thought that American citizens who had never committed a crime, who was a veteran of our military should be deported to. “Not Israel, they stole Arab land.” I asked if it wouldn’t be better if they just too all Jews should be rounded up and put into concentration camps and then be killed.” He thought for a second and then said, “Yeah, that would work.” I told him that he was a Republican, he said, “Of course I am.”

    THAT is the kind of hatred that is coming out of the Republican Party; they are spouting hatred for those of us on the left because we aren’t THEM. Eric Cantor, Boehner, McConnell and many more are spouting lie after lie after lie and some people are buying their lies hook, line and sinker. They’re blaming President Obama for his “failed economic planning” while simultaneously refusing to pass anything the president proposes. THEY are the ones who are making this recession deeper and last longer.

    Republicans hate the American People–the people who stupidly sent them to Washington; I wonder if they’re still proud of what they did. Note that I did not insult them the way they are insulting us; I did not say they hate America, they just look down on the people who gave them the power to do nothing.

    What is it going to take to bring sanity back to Washington? Is it too late? How can we, the people pull off a Mulligan?

    IMHO, unseat EVERY REPUBLICAN and replace them all with all Democratic Congress. The Republicans are lying when they say that the Democrats spend, spend, spend. Umm…wasn’t there a Republican at the helm of this country for 8 years…HIS ADMINISTRATION SPENT MORE THAN ANY OTHER PRESIDENT’S ADMINISTRATION FROM GEORGE WASHINGTON TO BILL CLINTON COMBINED!

    In order to get this country rolling again YOU AND I are going to have to work to get the truth out to the voters. Many Republicans have jumped the ship and are now independents. We need to mobilize them to vote to get the do-nothings out and progressives in.

    I’m disabled, and I have a speech impairment, but I will be on the phones for most of next year doing what I can to get the TRUTH out to the new independents. That is if I’m not deported before I can accomplish my goals.

  13. tombradysbaby
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Our species will be so much better off once we evolve past this religious crap.

  14. SA
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    God help the children that suffer at the hands of idiots like Mercer — and shame on us that he has a job anywhere near a school!

  15. Ben
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    “a bitch certificate”?

    Made me laugh.

  16. Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Steve, I checked the whole page an there is not a single statement painting the whole Tea Party movement as close minded and ignorant, just this one guy with who appeared on a Tea Party program. There is no one using a broad brush – who are you talking to??

    Well, no one using a broad brush until now. You see, it is actually fair to paint the whole Tea Party as ignorant because you all follow imbeciles like this. It would be like saying it is not fair to paint the people of the Westboro Baptist Church as crazy ignorant folk. That seems to be the point of the church to begin with.

    For the Tea Party, it is fair to use broad strokes because one of the following applies:

    1) they look at a country that is living way over budget and says we cannot raise taxes on the richest people of the country. Somehow, “job creators” and “people hoarding money” are equivalent, or should be treated as such from a policy perspective.

    2) The whole world is not sustainable and the US rests precariously atop a global pyramid scheme that will someday need to shift to sustainable living or collapse under its own weight. Yet many deny climate change and ignore the fact we will run out of oil soon, with other fossil fuels running out eventually too. Developing a responsible renewable-energy policy is a solution to both problems, but is considered too hippie or something.

    3) They associate with a group that makes talking points of the above without believe one of those points.

    I could add more, about it being the party of birthers and against universal health care (even “Obamacare” which will end up helping them or someone they care about) – it is a party proud to distort facts and ignore obvious evidence (a bitch certificate), and one that somehow feels being guaranteed access to health care is unamerican despite being the standard in other industrialized nations.

    So there you go, someone is now using a broad brush to paint all tea parties as ignorant! Your welcome!

  17. Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    @Steve I agree 100% with that sentiment.

    Except when it comes to the TeaParty.

    Cause … seriously…. cmon now.

  18. Steve
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    This just proves that any group will contain closed-minded, ignorant folk. That is all. To paint the whole Tea Party movement with a broad brush is equally ignorant.

  19. Posted October 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    My 7 year old wanted to know what I was laughing at and when he came over, calmly described to me why we couldn’t have cat-rats and dog-cats. 7 YEARS OLD. I think we need to give Mercer’s job to a 7 year old, I’m sure we could find one to do it better! :)

  20. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe someone like this walks the earth. I weep for our children’s future if this man is in some sort of position of power on a state school board.

  21. Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Quick! Somebody get this man a platypus before his herp gets any more derp.
    The platypus genome sequence has both reptilian and mammalian elements, as well as two genes found previously only in birds, amphibians, and fish.

  22. Ogre 1
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Sorry El Sapo, Darwin’s theories only work in a NATURAL environment wherein the strong survive and the weak die off. Today, in a world full of “Do Not Use This Hair Dryer In The Shower” warning labels, we have made the idiot a protected species, thus exempting him/her/it from the natural law.

  23. millsapian87
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    “Conservatives believe in a thing called education. The far left believes in a thing called political indoctrination. And that’s the big difference. We want our kids educated, not indoctrinated.”

    As someone once observed, if you want to know what the Republicans are up to, see what they’re accusing the Democrats of doing. This is some world-class psychological projection right here.

  24. El Sapo
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    How could evolution produce a moron like this!! You’d think that the Law of Darwinism would’ve weeded cretins like him out of the gene pool long ago!!

  25. Andrew
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    This ignorant man is an imbecile and deserves every ounce of ridicule that comes his way. I pity his constituents.

  26. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    He has proven that there is a man-slug animal

  27. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Liger?
    Mule?

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