Senate Ed. chair says science standards should describe evolution and man-caused climate change as options

06/27/2013 11:17 AM

Republican Sen. Mike Wilson, the Senate’s education chairman, said Kentucky’s proposed science standards shouldn’t require children to be taught that man-made actions are the primary cause of climate change or that evolution is settled science.

“They also say because it’s not observable, it’s not provable,” Wilson said (4:15 of the interview). “In science, you deal with observation, repeatable, measurable scientific method to prove something scientifically. You cannot prove history scientifically.”

Similarly, Wilson said he doesn’t believe there’s enough evidence to teach students that human activities are the primary cause of rising air and water temperatures and changing weather patterns.

“It has not been around long enough to be settled science … There are many other scientists who believe that we are in these climate cycles, rather than man being the primary one who’s causing global warming,” Wilson said (at 0:45 of the interview).

However, a study of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed articles regarding climate change showed that 97 percent of the 4,000 reports that assigned a cause to global warming pointed to human’s influence as the driving factor, as The Guardian reported last month.

“I’m not saying, ‘Do not teach climate change’ or ‘Do not teach global warming’ and, ‘Do not teach that these things emit CO2 into the air,’” Wilson said (1:45 of the video.) “There are a lot of things that are out there … that our students ought to be able to examine all of the evidence and let them make the decisions for themselves. If we’re talking about critical thinking, let them examine the pro side and the con side.”

As Wilson noted to start the interview, those standards will be up for public comment in July.

Wilson first stirred public conversation about the science standards with a May 23 letter to the Louisville Courier-Journal in which he wrote:

… “The standards focus on changes in gene pools, genetic mutations and effects of the environment on changes within species. The controversy arises with the statement that “Students can evaluate evidence of the conditions that may result in new species and understand the role of genetic variation in natural selection.” This is supposition and implies that one species may evolve into a different species. There is no factual evidence that this has ever occurred and to suppose that it happens is counter to the beliefs of many Kentuckians.”

Robert Blevins, president of the nonprofit coalition Kentuckians for Science Education, responded the following week with another letter to the Courier-Journal firing back at Wilson.

“These concerns are misplaced. Those topics are central to our students’ ability to understand modern biology, medicine and agriculture, and to take part in modern scientific discussions. They are so essential, and so scientifically uncontroversial, that both topics were identified by the National Research Council as core themes that ought to be at the center of state science standards.”


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