And so it begins: a petition to Mike Pence to ban the teaching of evolution

December 17, 2016 • 1:45 pm

I swear that the ignorance of Americans sometimes astounds me, not that I think we’re all ignorant. But I have to question the rationality of people who started the petition below (click on screenshot to go to petition, but for god’s sake don’t sign it!). Lots of biologists and scientists were sent this link by a creationist whom I’ll leave unnamed to protect the benighted.


I won’t reproduce the whole thing, but you can get its tenor from the first two paragraphs:

To Mike Pence, Vice-President of the United States of America:

We the undersigned note that, when you were a member of the U.S House of Representatives, you spoke out on the subject of science education and for presenting students with all available information. Recently, we have seen the passage of academic freedom bills in Louisiana and Tennessee which have allowed for critical evaluation in the classroom and improved educational standards. However, whilst an important development, they were only enacted owing to the need to protect students from indoctrination. We object to the teaching of the very controversial theory of evolution as part of the K-12 science curriculum which we regard to be unnecessary and unhelpful.

It is obvious to us that Evolutionism-Darwinism is an anti-Christian atheistic dogma masquerading as science. According to renown philosopher of science, Professor Michael Ruse, himself an ardent evolutionist, there is no doubt that the theory of evolution represents a philosophical worldview: “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity.”

The usual blather follows: evolution denies a creator and thus is an atheistic “religion,” we’ve changed our minds on some scientific issues, therefore evolutionists are fallible (Christianity, of course, never changes), etc. etc. And there’s this old claim:

Of course, it is absolutely necessary to teach observable limited biological change, generally termed “microevolution” or “adaptation”, such as the acquisition of antibiotic resistance in bacteria through loss-of-function mutations. However, this can be effectively taught as part of a course on ecology without reference to the wider theory and the distraction of its flawed historical narrative of origins which includes telling students that humans are walking sarcopterygian fish!

Well, the petition isn’t going to go anywhere, or so I hope, but when Trump appoints another conservative justice to the Supreme Court, that will make a 5-4 majority, one that could overturn the existing federal ruling banning the teaching of creationism and its subspecies in public schools as a violation of the First Amendment.

There are only three signatures on the petition to date, and here they are:


I tried adding another humorous one like the above, but for some reason (LOL) they apparently aren’t accepting signatures. You might want to try one.

h/t: Joseph

112 thoughts on “And so it begins: a petition to Mike Pence to ban the teaching of evolution

  1. I’m sure it’s Poe; consider the final sentence:

    “Those schools that don’t comply with it should be completely denied federal funding and aid by the Department of Education, just as it is proposed that cities that provide sanctuary to illegal aliens ought to be denied assistance. We hope that you will act upon this very urgent matter and uphold truth and the American way of life we hold so dear.”

    And the spoof signatures and comments. Although *not knowing* it wss Poe when I “signed” it; hence my adopted name there

    1. The definition of “Poe” is that you can’t tell if it is real or spoof. That final sentence doesn’t convince me that it is a spoof.

      1. It’s an obvious spoof. The bit about sarcopterygian fish? With an exclamation point as if it were obvious that a “sarcopterygian” ancestry is particularly silly? Come on.

        And there are more give-aways. The necessity of teaching adaptation? The exhortation to Pence based on his congressional votes?

        1. That’s fine. Mostly I’m just being pedantic. We should call it a spoof if we think it is a spoof. A Poe is when you can’t tell.

          “An obvious Poe” is a contradiction in terms.

          1. GBJames is correct as to the original meaning of “Poe’s Law,” but usage of “Poe” has evolved to mean someone perpetrating a parody, as you have used it.

        2. Yeah, I took “sarcopterygian fish” as a sly allusion either to Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish or to the pedigerous Darwinian parody of the Christian fish symbol.

    2. I think the petition is an effort at getting fools to self identify.

      The use of “whilst” makes me suspect the author is not even American.

      1. I thought the very same thing the instant I came upon, whilst. The author was either British or was taught British English.

      2. Ditto on the “whilst.” I’m not convinced it’s a spoof.

        Speaking of dumb, did anyone see Trump’s tweet today about the “unpresidented” actions taken by the Chinese towards the U.S. Drone??

          1. That’s OK. It’s an American Drone. The rule is capitalize proper names and words demonstrating exceptionalism.

          1. All the best words at fourth grade level, according to those who know how to measure these things.

  2. Yesterday The Guardian published a pro-intelligent design article.

    Unless the Left are prepared to stand up and say some things are well-evidenced and some things are not we have nothing to fight back with.

  3. US high school education is gradually slipping down the international PISA rankings. It’s already one of the worst in the OECD. This person is clearly aiming to drag it down even further.

    I suspect a Poe.

      1. Oh, it absolutely can – just imagine the level of science education in the most Bible-obsessed schools somewhere in Louisiana or Alabama and extrapolate it to the rest of the country.

      2. Can U.S. anti-intellectualism get much worse? (Re: “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” by Richard Hofstadter and “The Age of American Unreason” by Susan Jacoby)

        1. I can see that. The parents, unconstrained by bureaucracy, have only one to a few children whose feet they have to hold to the pedagogical fire. The classroom teacher has 20-30 for whom s/he has “in loco parentis” responsibility imposed by the state. I know this from over ten years of full-time K-12 substitute teaching.

          It absolutely wears me out to have to frequently, joltingly, shift from teaching to “parenting” mode in dealing with willful misbehavior/”oppositional defiance” from juvenile human primates. It’s happened enough that I’ve avoided becoming a “regular” teacher (though from my experience I figure I’m “qualified,” in the same sense that Abe Lincoln was qualified in an apprenticeship way). I subjectively perceive that to be the reason approx. 50% of newly-minted teachers leave the profession by the five-year point.

          Omniscient Trumpian/Romneyesque MBA/JD private tyranny types need to labor in the pedagogical vineyards and show us how it’s done – in a setting where saying, “You’re fired!” is not an option (except perhaps in PRIVATE schools, eh?).

      1. Then got an automatic reply, which, in context is hilarious:

        “Hey there!

        Thanks for signing a petition at Your signature is valuable and makes a real difference. Please encourage others to sign the petition and make it a success…”

  4. The shit just keeps piling up with no end in sight. It’s been hard to keep my emotions in check this holiday season surrounded by dumb-ass family members. Must stay calm. Must stay calm.

    1. I hope that a year from now you will report back to us how your family members feel. Will they be in a state of denial as to what a disaster Trump had been (which I fully expect to be the case) or will they acknowledge they had been duped?

      1. It really will be interesting what the world will be like in a year…I also expect disaster…even weekly scandals. He’s already got the black cloud of Putin over him. I wonder how many Trump voters already feel they got duped. There MUST be some, right? For many it’s pretty much a cult at this point though.

        1. At this point I doubt many of them feel duped. They’re still in that bubble where the worst imaginable thing, President Hillary Clinton, plays big in the echo chamber. There convinced Putin couldn’t possibly have played a role in the election because Clinton got a majority of the popular votes. (An actual meme I encountered on FB the other day.)

    2. An exercise I find helpful after being confronted and verbally assaulted by, in particular Mr Mark R, family members with their so – coveted loathsome ideas and, now, post – this Election result, as well:

      i) Write down, now, everything you believe in and find of honor cuz

      ii) one year from now, you may not believe in these things anymore or,

      iii) more likely, you will be somehow forced to state that you do not believe in such things any longer.

      That scripting / dictational exercise of My Self’s specific stuffs, throughout the next seemingly have – to – get – together meetings with such of these people and their inanities or outright bigotries, helps to keep me defined and centered .or., as importantly, able and willing to actually leave those people’s presences behind me.

      If I perceive that the need calls for that finality. NO more to be forced onto The Defensive, no more having to justify or stick around to try to defend my thinking or my activist endeavors, I shall, now, just up and leave those people.

      Noooo longer trying with them
      (or with some several others).


      1. Thanks for the sound advice Blue, I appreciate it. I think I will write down what I honor and see what the future holds.

        1. I am profoundly lucky not to have right wing extremists to deal with in my family. Best of luck to those of you who have to deal with the madness so close to home.

    1. Michael Rodabota-Shaw just signed with an email server of and this comment:

      “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

      So why stop now?”

  5. This petition is a mere taste of what the Trump administration will wrought. In all areas of public concern, Trump has stocked his incoming administration with incompetents, the unqualified, far right wingers who want to destroy the social safety net and let business run amok, pro-Putin people in the State Department, and religious extremists. The latest example of the latter is David Friedman, a fanatical right-wing Jew, who has been appointed ambassador to Israel.

    It is interesting that the petition is addressed to Pence, not Trump. I don’t think Trump cares in the least what is taught in the schools. But Pence does. He may very well get the administration to support creationist efforts because Trump will be too busy complaining about the bad reviews his restaurants get. Prior to the election, people such as myself feared that Trump could wreck every American institution and jeopardize the democratic system. It appears that our fears underestimated the coming calamity. I still wonder how his loyal dupes will feel in a year.

        1. It’s good to know that we pedants are not alone. Over at Jesus & Mo some time ago we formed a Pedants Of The World Association (POTWA) so that we could issue a “Potwa” (like a Fatwa) to any transgressors.

      1. I can hardly wait to see what wreck Trump wreaks.

        Re: (IIRC) Carlin’s “welcome to the freak show. In America you have a front row seat.”

      2. I’m sure Historian is well aware of the appropriate tense. My bet is that he started off intending to word his sentence one way, then modified it in process w/o remembering to change the tense. I do that sort of thing all the time, esp. when speaking. (sigh)

  6. I scanned all the way down to the end of the post and was then able to post my name and email address: Ibee An Ignoramous We’ll see how long it stays on the site before an administrator removes it.

    1. Ah, so they don’t do any validation on the email addresses. And there I was going and setting up a fake address for Emir Mustafa Laff.
      “” doesn’t seem a very credible source of petitions if they don’t even do email validation (e.g. does DNS have an MX record for in . Very sloppy.

        1. Not that I’d ever considered trying to find an American petition-site, but I now know one that I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.

  7. Just about all nations or states or empires come and they go. They rise and fall over a period of time, sometimes quickly and some very slow. When you are participating in the fall of one it seems much quicker than reality because you do not recognize the fall right away. This one probably began in the 70s and has picked up speed since. The election of 2016 only confirms the fall of this one and who can predict what the bottom will look like or how fast it will arrive. Not looking forward to it, much.

    1. It started January 20, 1969 with Nixon, accelerated under Reagan, then again under Dubya Bush and now enters hyperspeed under the consummate-liar-in-chief-elect.

      1. Yes. I would not argue the exact start time, some might go as far back as right after WWII when the country decided it was necessary to have and maintain the giant military and defense and think we could afford this even when the enemies were mostly mythical. Why we decided spending huge sums into eternity on this around the world military apparatus while providing zero health care or much safety net or education and on and on.

        Who did we think 40 or 50 million poor people with limited education would vote for and think like? Where were they going to work to make a living? We sit in our education facilities of higher learning and are surprised when things go south, literally and physically.

    2. When you are participating in the fall of one it seems much quicker than reality because you do not recognize the fall right away.

      Call it 45 years? That would about encompass from Eric Blair (“George Orwell”) becoming a servant of the Empire to street warfare in Ulster as one of the first colonisations starts to peel away. A stack, not a pipeline, obviously.

      1. I don’t mean to sound too pessimistic for Diane or Historical, although I follow it some, but the sudden arrival of this Republican era and the political desperation of it all has created a focus that is concentrated on Trump. Instead is should be on a longer period of decline in this country that has created this condition
        and made it possible for this current outcome. Just like the global climate change we are in, it has specific causes that grew over time and accelerated more recently.

        Our problems that got us where we are now have been moving along in this direction for years and the removal of Trump and family in a few years would not cure it. I think, even if Hilary had won, the direction is still set and would continue, although at a slower rate for a time. So, at this moment, Trump seems like the main problem but he is just a symptom of a much larger one.

        1. I suppose it’s possible, as some hardcore Bernie supporters have suggested, that a Trump presidency will “heighten the contradictions” to the point of spurring the necessary correctives to the long slide you describe.

          1. One thing Trump’s pal Putin is really good at is making elections come out the way he wants: you’ve seen how the first round turned out, now they get the masterclass.
            Remember this as you watch (as I expect all citizens will be required to) President Eric Trump ascend to the golden Presidential Throne in 2021, 2026, 2030 . . . oh yes how many Congressional seats do the Republicans need to force through Constitutional amendments?


          2. Interesting but I don’t think the Republicans need any constitutional Amendments to help in the destruction. If anything a few good amendments would help to stop it but that isn’t going to happen either. Besides, the people as a whole are responsible for the condition, not just the crazy party.

  8. I don’t see one serious signature so far.

    If it’s not a poe I’m thinking the owners will be shutting it down real soon now.

    Beel Zebub
    United States

    Mustaffa Laff
    United Kingdom

    Ibee An Ignoramous
    United States

    United States

    Dick Hertz
    United States

    Ipee Freahly
    United States

    Heywood Jablowme
    United States

    Yura Dummy

    Will Fully Ignorant
    United States

    Jack Arse
    United States

    Mister Poopy Butthole
    United States

    Thickas Chit
    United Kingdom

    Chimp Hansen

    Ima Doofus
    United States

    Ima B Stupid
    United States

      1. It’s signed by Robert Byers, well known creationist “debater” (e.g. on The Panda’s Thumb). Also lots of comments by the chap from England (yikes!) who likes posting quotes from half a century ago saying that we haven’t found X yet, ergo evolution disproved.

  9. Some great quote mining as well (which of course does not disqualify it as a poe):

    Two researchers, Monteiro and Podlaha, admit that,“the genetic origin of new and complex traits is probably still one of the most pertinent and fundamental unanswered questions in evolution today.”

    This is from:

    Wings, Horns, and Butterfly Eyespots: How Do Complex Traits Evolve?
    Antónia Monteiro , Ondrej Podlaha
    Published: February 24, 2009

    The authors discuss the question “How Do Functional New Complex Networks Evolve” and I’m pretty sure they are not recanting the tenets of evolutionary biology in their article.

    Harvard professor, Peter Park, goes even further to proclaim that,“it’s become very clear that DNA sequences are just a building block. They don’t explain higher-order complexity.”

    This is from Wired “EARLY REPORTS FROM THE ‘DARK MATTER’ OF THE GENOME” and the author goes on to say:

    All this represented not a failure, but a dawning realization of just how extraordinarily complicated each genome is. As the process of learning builds on the Human Genome Project’s early steps, researchers are taking fine-grained looks at each genome’s full DNA and chemical components, then trying to understand how all these work together at different scales, from molecules to cells to whole organisms.

  10. How Exciting! Several people have signed including:

    Master Bates
    United States, Maple Grove
    Dec 17, 2016
    Make America Stupid Again

    Shirley U Jest
    United States, Napa
    Dec 17, 2016
    We must preserve ignorance.

    United States, Berkeley
    Dec 17, 2016
    I came before Eve; I’m just a pathetic hominin, and even I support this petition.

    1. Master Bates is a character in ‘Oliver Twist’. one of Fagin’s boys
      “’Wipes,’ replied Master Bates; at the same time producing four pocket-handkerchiefs.”
      who knows what he needed the wipes for?

  11. And more signatures:

    Queasy PZ Myers
    Canada, Kitchener
    Dec 17, 2016
    This is a great idea! Evilushun is just a pinko commie conspiracy!!!one1!!

  12. Obvious Poe.

    In that case how does it say *anything* about Trump or what he will do? Some people OD on confirmation bias.

      1. If it is a joke then it is not from a Trump supporter, so it tells us nothing about Trump or his supporters. It tells us about Trumppence *mockers*. Jibbers.

  13. There’s an interesting story behind the Joseph Hannon signature. A few years ago a poster by the name of atheistoclast started posting and trolling various atheist messageboards (eg Talk Rational). Eventually he claimed the be an Irish Iranian from Manchester called Joseph Hannon Bozorgmehr.

    His style was to post on evolution and also holocaust denial. His evolution stuff was about loss of function mutations and protein evolution. He would post lots of his interactions via email with evolutionary biologists. Eventually he started posting drafts of papers that he wrote, eventually escalating into submissions to journals, some of which were accepted. Here’s some of them:

    It was one of the most remarkable trolls of all time. It was never totally clear to me how much if it was an extremely elaborate practical joke and how much was serious. Anyway I suspect it’s one and the same person.

  14. Teach theory of evolution but don’t be afraid to discuss pros and cons of various ideas that may come up in discussion.

  15. I, too, stand with my fellow anti-science brethren and fight against the heathens in the name of our lard in savior, Jesus Crepes

    R. Ectum, esq.

    1. “Even today, more than fifty years after its first edition, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions remains the first port of call to learn about the history, philosophy or sociology of science.”

      – That may be true, but that’s seriously lamentable, since the book’s so wrong-headed in any number of ways.

      (In the strongest reading, its main thesis is self-contradictory.)

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