Oh Texas, My Texas

Oh Texas, My Texas

You’re having surgery. As you wait in pre-op, your surgeon rushes in, says she is running really late, and would it be ok with you if she didn’t wash her hands or sterilize the instruments?

After all, germ theory is “just a theory.”

Want to jump out of an airplane without a parachute because gravity theory is “just a theory”? 

Newly elected Texas State Representative Terri Leo-Wilson recently introduced HB 1804, requiring Texas schools to present scientific theories in an “objective manner”, which means (according to Leo-Wilson’s bill):

“Clearly distinguishes the theory from fact”

“Includes evidence for both the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory.”

As if a science theory is simply an opinion, and yours is as good as mine. As if a science theory is just a hunch or a guess or worse, someone’s agenda.

When an idea reaches the status of a “theory” in science, it is something about which we are quite certain. When a hypothesis has been tested over many decades, by multiple scientists, in multiple labs world-wide, and that hypothesis continues to be supported by evidence and continues to predict where new evidence will be found, the hypothesis is accepted as a theory. 

A science theory. 

In a hierarchy of terms, theories rank above facts and laws. Science theories make sense of facts and laws. Science theories are tweaked as we learn more, but the foundations of theories do not change. We aren’t going to decide that it actually IS the alignment of the planets that causes disease, and not pathogens.

I bet Representative Leo-Wilson is not advocating for teaching the strengths and weaknesses of germ theory or gravity theory or atomic theory or cell theory.

Just go ahead and say it: Texas kids can’t learn about evolution.

A couple of decades ago, a group of creationists persuaded the Kansas state board of education to erase all references to the wealth of Cretaceous-era fossils (for which Kansas is world-famous) in the state science curriculum. A textbook company responded by deleting a chapter referencing Kansas’ geologic history. 

For a few years, Kansas schoolchildren sat in schools built on land with a geologic history that never happened, according to the curriculum. It took a while, but the Kansas decision was reversed.

Texas, do better.