“Experts That Are Just”

In an 1820 letter Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.”

I believe that. The Texas Board of Education may well believe that too, but the word education is a glittering generality open to many interpretations. Jefferson’s definition and that of the Texas Board of Education are probably quite different. Jefferson believed in reason and science. Texas?

For one answer, there’s Scientific American’s 60 Second Science podcast newsletter of 15 March 2010: “Texas Messes with History.”

That Texas wants to teach creationism is old news. That they have now dropped Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, from their list of influential revolutionaries is new.

Listening to the sixty second podcast was worth it because of the line by Don McLeroy, a member of the Texas Board of Education (an Orwellian use?). McLeroy says, “Somebody’s gotta stand up to experts that are just . . . . I think, I don’t know why they’re doing it, they’re wonderful people.”

“Experts who are just.” McLeroy probably didn’t even know what he said.


P.S. I’ve added textbook selection and the Jefferson Bible to my list of blog topics.


3 Responses to ““Experts That Are Just””

  1. The_Conservative_Lie Says:

    Texas home of GW, execution of the retarted and history according to McLeroy.
    This is even more infuriating when you understand that because of the size of the Texas public school system, these books will, without a doubt, end up in schools in other states.
    Sometimes I just want to move to Costa Rica… LOL.

    • uncommonscolds Says:


      Sorry to take so long to post your comment. I just found it in my spam folder.


  2. Jesse Says:

    1705 A paper by Robert Hooke is formally published posthumously. Its contents had originally been part of an earlier presentation to the Royal Society of London. This paper provided an argument against prevailing wisdom and advocated the idea that fossils were the remains of actual once-living organisms. Still, it was not enough to change the general consensus of his contemporaries in the scientific community. [2]
    In the second edition of an earlier book (published in 1677), Robert Plot concludes that fossils (which he referred to as “lapides sui generis”) were not the remains of once-living organisms, but were stones made to look like organisms by some unknown force of nature instituted by God to decorate the inner parts of the earth the way flowers beautify its surface.[2]

    1728 A catalogue of the large fossil collection belonging to Gresham College professor John Woodward is published posthumously. This catalogue contains fragments of dinosaur bone that may have belonged to a megalosaur. Because these specimens have been preserved in Cambridge’s Sedgwick Museum, they are the oldest identifiably dinosaur fossil discovery whose location is still known.[2]

    1755 Joshua Platt, a dealer in curiosities, discovers three large dinosaurian vertebrae at Stonesfield. He sends them off for examination to a Quaker botanist, merchant, and friend of Benjamin Franklin named Peter Collinson. Sadly, Collinson never gives them Platt’s desired examination, and the fate and specific identity of the fossils remain unknown.[2]

    1758 Joshua Platt, a curiosity dealer, continued prospecting for fossils in Stonesfield. He met with success, finding an incomplete Megalosaurus thigh bone, which he noted and illustrated. This bone was included in the 1773 catalogue of his large personal fossil collection.[2]

    1763 The end of a Megalosaurus thighbone, previously misinterpreted by Robert Plot to be the remains of an elephant brought to Britain by the Romans, is subject to further confusion when Richard Brookes publishes a paper naiming it Scrotum humanum. Although he meant this name metaphorically to describe the bone’s appearance, this idea is taken seriously by French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Robinet, who believed that nature formed fossils in mimicry of portions of the human anatomy- such as the scrotum.

    1776 The french Abbe Dicquemare discovers and briefly describes (without illustrating) large bones discovered in the Normandy Coast’s Vaches Noires Cliffs. Paleontologist Philippe Taquet has suggested that these bones were probably dinosaurian.[2]

    1787 A fossil bone recovered from Cretaceous strata at Woodbury, New Jersey is discussed by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia

    1808 The famed Georges Cuvier publishes illustrations of vertebrae discovered near Honfleur. He mistakenly describes them as crocodillian

    1806 William Clark notices an exposed fossil rib in an area later known as the Hell Creek Formation on the south bank of the Yellowstone River. Although he mistakenly believed the rib belonged to a huge fish

    1820 Dinosaur bones are discovered in Connecticut’s red sandstones. The bones are so small that they were originally believed to be human remains

    1822 According to an oft-repeated story, while her husband is treating a patient, Mary Ann Mantell amuses herself by rummaging through a pile of stone rubble and discovers the first fossil of what would later be named Iguanodon. This tooth intrigues her husband, who ascertains the quarry they were excavated from and returns there to successfully discover more fossils belonging to the species. However, some have questioned the authenticity of this story.[3]
    In May, Mantell publishes a book called The Fossils of the South Downs wherein he briefly describes his findings of the fossils belonging to a large reptile, which he would later name Iguanodon.[3]
    Adam Sedgwick noted a recent discovery by William Buckland in the Sandown Bay of the Isle of Wight. These large bones were misinterpreted by Buckland as belonging to a Cetacean

    1841 On June 30, Sir Richard Owen presents his findings regarding some enormous bones that the Reverend William Buckland had acquired at an earlier date. He names the new genus to which these bones belong “Cetiosaurus.” This event marks the first scientific description of a sauropod.[2]
    Owen presents his treatise on British fossil reptiles to the British Association in August. This treatise marks the creation of a taxon called “Dinosauria.”[2]

    The funny part is Jefferson was probably a “creationist” and he died 7/4/1826.

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