Year 3, Month 4, Day 20: He That Troubleth His Own House…

This is entirely expected — but it still sucks:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today allowed a controversial bill allowing teachers to discuss the “weaknesses” of evolution and other scientific theories to become law without his signature.

It is the first time Haslam, a Republican, has refused to sign a bill passed by the GOP-led General Assembly.

The legislation has been derided by critics nationwide as a modern-day “monkey bill,” a reference to a 1920s Tennessee law that outlawed the teaching of evolution and spurred the arrest and trial of Dayton, Tenn., teacher John Scopes in the infamous 1925 “Monkey Trial.”

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact,” Haslam said in a statement. “I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers.

“However,” Haslam added, “I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.”

I wish they’d never been allowed to rejoin the Union. Sent April 11:

Although he’s allowing HB 368/SB 893 to become law without his signature, Governor Haslam cannot avoid soiling his fingers on a dirty piece of legislation. The bill’s language is entirely disingenuous. It is absolutely obvious that this is an attempt to undermine a genuine and robust scientific consensus under the guise of “discussing the weaknesses” in scientific opinion on evolution and climate change.

Will Tennessee’s teachers really explore the relationship between feedback and forcing in climate models — or will they promulgate attractive and convenient pseudo-facts (“carbon dioxide is our friend!”) offered by well-funded denialist groups? Will they explore the relationship between punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism in our understanding of evolution — or will they offer attractive and convenient pseudo-facts from well-funded creationist groups?

When the world’s climate is perilously close to spinning entirely out of equilibrium, we can no longer afford the luxury of substituting ignorance for knowledge under the guise of “teaching the controversy.” This will not end well — for Tennessee, for America, or for the world.

Warren Senders

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