Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Santorum Amendment

 
Rick Santorum is a potential candidate for President of the United States. He is currently seeking the nomination of the Republican party and so far he seems to be a leading candidate in spite of his bizarre views on many issues. The process involves things called state "primaries" which seems to be a way of generating free publicity for the two sanctioned parties.

Back in 2001, Santorum was a Senator from Pennsylvania. He was a leading proponent of Intelligent Design Creationism and he proposed an amendment to a major education bill that was being considered by the United States Senate.1 The original Santorum Amendment was described by Santorum in a brief speech ...
This is an amendment that is a sense of the Senate. It is a sense of the Senate that deals with the subject of intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of science in the classroom, in primary and secondary education. It is a sense of the Senate that does not try to dictate curriculum to anybody; quite the contrary, it says there should be freedom to discuss and air good scientific debate within the classroom. In fact, students will do better and will learn more if there is this intellectual freedom to discuss. I will read this sense of the Senate. It is simply two sentences—frankly, two rather innocuous sentences—that hopefully this Senate will embrace: "It is the sense of the Senate that—

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and
(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

It simply says there are disagreements in scientific theories out there that are continually tested.
The original amendment was drafted by Philip Johnson in consultation with other fellows of the Discovery Institute.

This amendment did not make it into law but a similar version was included in something called a "Conference Report" where it is often cited by Intelligent Design Creationists.
The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.
Taken at face value, these statements seem to provide an excellent opportunity for science teachers to explain how religion distorts science. They would provide legal justification for teachers who want to describe how religious views conflict with science and why scientific facts, such as evolution, generate so much controversy among religious Americans.

But that's not how the amendments are interpreted by most people. Here's Rick Santorum explaining in 2009 what the amendment really meant. It's clear that many Senators, including Ted Kennedy, were duped.




1. In American legislatures, it's normal that completely irrelevant material is inserted into bills.

5 comments :

  1. Santorum only appears to be a leading candidate because Iowa is such an outlier from the rest of America, both in primary rules and demographics. He'll be competitive in SC and nowhere else, merely being the last speedbump in the way of the inevitable Romney nomination.

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  2. The fact that Santorum had to wait until after Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich to get his turn should clarify where his place is.

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  3. He spent the last two years camped out in Iowa. He'll also get some votes in South Carolina and Florida. But that's about it. He doesn't lead anything. Almost no one is voting for him. He doesn't stand a chance at the nomination of any major party.

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  4. I thought the santorum 'amendment" did not make it into the final version of the bill.

    JH

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  5. Not sure Ted Kennedy was duped. Senator Kennedy was instrumental in requiring Medicare in the United States (publicly funded health care for those 65 and older and certain others) to pay for Christian Science "care." There are even various levels of such care with correspondingly different reimbursement amounts!

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