Wednesday, March 2, 2016

#1610: John Ferrer, Lori McKeeman et al.

Ok, so these are not exactly leaders of the anti-science movements, but they are worth a mention nonetheless, as representatives of what is probably a rather large number of teachers, administrators and suchlike who make their own local efforts to save souls from science, truth and reason and deliver them to fervent religious fundamentalism. John Ferrer and Lori McKeeman are two among a group of people (the rest are unnamed or named only by pseudonym) who spent 10 days in Seattle at the Discovery Institute’s summer seminar learning about intelligent design in 2013.

Of course, according to the Discovery Institute intelligent design is science, not religion, but funnily enough that doesn’t seem to have registered with the participants (and was certainly not a motivation for attending). Ferrer, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion “sees himself as an evangelist for the redemption of universities,” and believes Christians (i.e. Taliban-fundie Christians) need to work hard be the best students in the classroom to enter top-notch grad programs and places of influence in politics, business, and academia. And once they are professors or college presidents, they have the power to change what is taught to the country’s future leaders. Not unlike the seven mountains ideology, in fact. So for Ferrer, intelligent design has everything to do with the political advancement of fundamentalist religion.

Lori McKeeman, on the other hand, is a, uh, “science” teacher at The Potter’s School, an online fundamentalist school targeted at homeschoolers and missionary and military families. According to herself, she coaches students through experiments such extracting DNA from peas and fruit, and then uses science to demonstrate the accuracy of the Bible; for instance hyssop, a cleansing agent mentioned in the Bible, does in fact contain thymol, which is an antiseptic actually used in mouthwash. Impressive.

Diagnosis: Yes, these kind of people are actually in a position of power of children in the US. And, true to the tenets of the intelligent design creationist movement, they are determined to win the battle over science by outreach and politics and avoiding doing any science whatsoever.

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