25 April 2005

Geese and Ganders

As anyone who reads this blawg with any regularity (all three of you) by now knows, one of the "argumentation methods" of which I am fond is applying the sauce for the goose to the gander, and seeing where that gets us. That is, I try to espouse intellectual honesty: Unless one can make a true, persuasive, principled distinction, the attacks on one's opponents should also be applied to one's own position. If one's own position can survive that attack, then perhaps we can move on.

One of the common rhetorical strategies for creationists is to claim that all they want is to teach "alternatives" to evolution. Leaving aside that there really aren't any—at least in the context of current scientific knowledge—the purported justification is that there is "controversy" over the validity of evolution. In reality, any such controversy is really between stronger and weaker visions of evolution, and particular flavors thereof, at least among individuals who apply the scientific method; but what's a little untruth in the service of political rhetoric and theocracy?

Fine, then. Let's assume for the moment that we should be teaching "alternatives" not just in biology, but across the curriculum. That might lead to…

  • A detailed discussion of the First Thirty Years' War (1618–48) and its relationship to the First Amendment, and just why that necessarily implies a pretty strong wall between church and state;
  • Marxist, Freudian, poststructuralist, deconstructionist, and reader-response instruction in ninth-grade English;
  • A detailed examination of Alfred Dreyfuss, followed by explicit comparison to Martin Luther King, Jr. (among others);
  • Replacement of some of the more-boring "Lost Generation" material in eleventh-grade English with Henry Miller, who was after all both a contemporary and acquaintance of those authors;
  • An examination of anarchist thought in the "American Government" class, and I don't mean just the bomb-throwing variety;
  • Actually reading Ghandi, Locke, Malcolm X, Malthus, Milton (and I mean Paradise Regained or Samson Agonistes), and Orwell instead of reading about others reading Ghandi, Locke, Malcolm X, Malthus, Milton, and Orwell.

Gee, I don't think they'd be too happy about importing these other "alternatives" and "controversies" into the curriculum. Does that mean, then, that perhaps the importation of "alternatives" into the science curriculum is a thinly disguised attempt to suppress a doctrine "dangerous" to one view of society, and not an attempt to educate?