August 31, 2006

Keeping creationism out of Ohio's science classes

Recall that the pro-IDC (intelligent design creationism) forces in Kansas received a setback in their Republican primary elections earlier this month. Now there is a chance to repeat that in Ohio.

I wrote earlier about a challenge being mounted to the attempt by Deborah Owens-Fink (one of the most pro-IDC activists in Ohio) to be re-elected to the Ohio Board of Education from Ohio District Seven. It seems as if the pro-science forces have managed to recruit a good candidate to run against her. He is Tom Sawyer, who is a former US congressman. I received the message below from Patricia Princehouse who has been tireless in her attempts at keeping religious ideas out of the science curriculum.

The worst creationist activist on Ohio's Board of Education is up for re-election (Deborah Owens Fink).

But now she has competition! And with your help, we can win!

We have recruited former congressman Tom Sawyer to run against her. His website is here.

Contributions are urgently needed for Congressman Sawyer's campaign.

(Credit cards accepted here or send check to address below.)

Fink has pledged to raise lots of money & we have no doubt that creationists across the country will pour tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign. We may not be able to match them, but Sawyer is an experienced politician who can make wise use of what he gets. We need to see he gets as much as possible.


1) Remember that almost every Ohioan that pays Ohio income tax, can take as a
TAX CREDIT (not just a deduction) up to $50 ($100 married couples filing jointly) in donations to Board of Ed candidates. So, please try to give at least the free $50 that you can get back on your taxes.

2) How much would you give if you could erase the past 4 years of damage to Ohio's public schools? $100? $1000? $5000? Please seriously consider giving more than you've ever given before. You stand poised to prevent worse damage over the next 4 years...

Fink is circulating a fund-raising letter in which she thumbs her nose at science & refers to America's National Academy of Sciences as a "group of so-called scientists."

We can protect Ohio from another 4 years of retrograde motion and put someone on the Board who can move Ohio forward toward solving real problems like school funding, literacy, and the achievement gap.

But your help is urgently needed...


Great! Please spread the word about the web site --in & out of state! (Remember, what happens in Ohio gets exported around the country, so defeating creationism in Ohio benefits the entire country) You can do even more as a volunteer (at home, on the phone, or on the street, even 1 hour of your time can make a difference, especially as we get closer to the election) To volunteer, email Steve Weeks at

For info on what Fink has done to science education in Ohio, see here.
For more info on Sawyer, see here.
For more info on other races in Ohio see the HOPE website.
For more info on races nationwide, see here.

To mail donations: Send a check made out to: Vote Tom Sawyer

and mail to:
Martin Spector, Treasurer
4040 Embassy Pkwy, Suite 500, Akron, OH 44333

I was not aware of this provision in Ohio's tax code that effectively gives you a full refund for up to $50 for contributions to campaigns like this. I have not been able to check this information myself and see what, if any, restrcitions apply and if it applies only to school board elections or other elections as well.

For more information on other School Board elections where the pro-science HOPE (Help Ohio Public Education) organization is supporting candidates, see their website.

It would be nice if Ohio voters take the lead from Kansas voters and also reject IDC-promoting candidates.

POST SCRIPT: Saying what needs to be said

Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown delivers a blistering commentary on Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush Administration. You can see it here.


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It was listed on the 2005 Ohio Tax Form - line 56 Ohio political contributions credit (limit – $50 per taxpayer). It is actually part of Ohio's Revised Code.§ 5747.29. Credit for contributions to candidates for statewide office or general assembly.A nonrefundable credit is allowed against the tax imposed by section 5747.02 of the Revised Code for contributions of money made to the campaign committee of candidates for any of the following public offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor of state, treasurer of state, attorney general, member of the state board of education, chief justice of the supreme court, justice of the supreme court, or member of the general assembly. The amount of the credit for a taxable year equals the lesser of the combined total contributions made during the taxable year by each taxpayer filing a return required to be filed under section 5747.08 of the Revised Code or the amount of fifty dollars, in the case of an individual return, or one hundred dollars, in the case of a joint return.As used in this section:(A) "Candidate" has the same meaning as in division (B)(3) of section 3517.01 of the Revised Code, but is limited to candidates for the public offices specified in this section.(B) "Contribution" has the same meaning as in division (B)(5) of section 3517.01 of the Revised Code, but is limited to contributions of money only.The taxpayer shall claim the credit in the order required under section 5747.98 of the Revised Code. The credit for a taxable year shall not exceed the tax otherwise due for that year after allowing for any other credits that precede the credit under this section in that order.


Posted by Brian Gray on August 31, 2006 08:34 AM

Thanks, Brian! What would we do without librarians?

Posted by Mano Singham on August 31, 2006 09:02 AM

Probably believe that Google had everything, as some do now.

Posted by Brian Gray on August 31, 2006 03:39 PM

Are you kidding? Obviously you are science challenged. Do you have any idea of how you arrived on this planet? Did you evolve from a monkey or cosmic dust? Trying to vote God out of science is like trying to vote the stars out of the universe...

Posted by on September 14, 2006 02:45 PM

So what, exactly, is the problem with objectively teaching science?

Newton's laws were thought to be absolutely correct. They are not.

General and Special relativity were formulated.

Quantum theory was formulated.

Both of these conflict with and are more accurate than Newton's laws. However, these two theories conflict with each other.

So please explain how an empirically untestable theory should not have some sort of objective analysis. Explain why a theory formulated before the advent of microbiology, before anything was known about DNA/RNA/etc, and when the cell was thought to be the smallest unit of life, should not be subject to an objective analysis.

Surely as such a profound scientist you should understand the advantage of critical analysis.

Of course, the earth is the center of the universe, more massive objects fall more rapidly and time is non-relative. Would that all things in life were so easy as the debate circling around teaching the controversy.

Posted by TN on September 18, 2006 12:43 PM

There is no problem with teaching science that is not already being addressed in the existing science standards. There already exist two strands that permeate the curriculum. These are Scientific Ways of Knowing (that deals with how we acquire knowledge) and the other is Scientific Inquiry (that deals with how we use scientific processes for discovery in science).

How does what you mean by "objectively teaching science" difffer from what is in those strands in the standards?

As for the earlier question of whether I evolved from a monkey or cosmic dust, we are not descendents of monkeys. Monkeys and humans share common ancestors, which is a different thing. "We are cousins of monkeys" would be a more accurate statement.

As for dust, the word "evolved" in biology usually refers to biological evolution after life began.

Posted by Mano Singham on September 18, 2006 02:35 PM