A couple of weeks ago, I posted two ridiculous quotes that are found in the Bob Jones textbook that's involved in the California Creationism lawsuit. I'm still wading through these texts and Behe's report explaining why it's really a very good book for high school students to use to learn biology. It's a slow process, and a painful one, but I've found another couple of outstanding quotes to share with you.
This time, I'm including three different types of quote. There are a couple where the authors say things have absolutely nothing to do with science of any kind (and are totally out to lunch even by the standards of a lot of religious people I know). There's one where the book takes a brief detour into right-wingnuttery. I've also got one quote that I'm including as a special treat for those of you who might still want to claim that the book's fine if you just overlook the insane religious stuff - an example of a case where the authors manage to mangle a very basic concept from genetics.
We'll start with the insane, and move from there to the political, then conclude with the merely wrong.
On page 162 we find this:
Some babies die very soon after birth as a result of genetic disorders. It appears that God designed into the genetic mechanism of humans (and most organisms) a genetic screen that eliminates many greatly deformed individuals, preventing major genetic disorders from continuing.
The authors do not explain why God sometimes does this near birth, and at other times (as in cystic fibrosis) over a period of many painful years.
On page 201, "Thought Question" 3 reads:
Compile a list of modern beliefs, practices, or activities that reflect the philosophy of evolution rather than a biblical philosophy.
The answer is found in the Teacher's Edition:
(1) Communism denies the existence of God. (2) Advances in technology will solve all of man's physical and social problems. (3) The ecumenical movement endorses humanism as the world religion. (4) Environmental control is overemphasized, and man's God-given command to exercise dominion is deemphasized.
Moving from the indoctrination in extremist religious beliefs to the political wingnuttery, we find this on page 615:
The level of carbon dioxide (CO2) is normally kept in check by green plants, which utilize it for photosynthesis. The combustion of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum also releases large amounts of CO2, which is known to be increasing in the atmosphere. The earth's temperature is kept warm enough to encourage abundant life as a result of the insulating effect of a layer of CO2 and other gasses. These gases allow sunlight to pass through but also trap the radiation that bounces off the earth, keeping it from returning to space. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Some scientists have analyzed long-term climate data and have noted a slight increase in the earth's temperature over the past century. While the data is far from conclusive, some blame CO2 and other "greenhouse gasses" for the increase. They blame this perceived global warming on car engines, electric power plants, and other major sources of CO2 emissions.
On the same page of the Teacher's Edition, the authors note:
An increase in CO2 has been positively linked to great increases in plant productivity (since it is one of the possible limiting factors for photosynthesis). We may be limiting our ability to produce higher levels of food by limiting the artificial creation of CO2.
To be clear, then, the authors point out that the levels of carbon dioxide are increasing, and claim that limiting the increase might be bad because carbon dioxide is a potential limiting resource for plants. Anyone with the critical thinking skills of a turnip can spot the small issue with that (if it's an actual limiting factor, the levels wouldn't be increasing). Unfortunately, "turnip" seems to be the best description of the level of critical thinking encouraged in the Christian madrassas that use these books.
We've covered the religious fanaticism and the wingnuttery. It's time to move on to the merely wrong. On page 141, we find this:
Not all genetic traits are exhibited as purely dominant or recessive. Many alleles express what is termed incomplete dominance. Incomplete dominance occurs when two or more alleles are expressed, resulting in a phenotype that is intermediate, or a blending, of the two traits. Flower color in snapdragons and other common garden flowers demonstrates this condition. When homozygous red and homozygous white snapdragons are crossed, all of the heterozygous offspring are pink.
Why? In snapdragons neither red nor white is completely dominant; therefore, in a heterozygous flower both alleles express themselves, resulting in a pink color. ..
In incomplete dominance, only one allele is expressed. The pink color of a snapdragon is not the result of one allele making a red color and one allele making a white color. It's the result of one allele that makes a red color, but in different amounts depending on how many copies of the allele are present. If there are two copies, a lot of red is made and the plant looks red. If there's one copy, then not as much red is produced, and the plant looks pink. The confusion that results from this flawed explanation would not be terribly bad, were it not for the fact that the book goes on to compound the error on the next page, when they discuss codominance:
Codominance occurs when two alleles for a gene are both expressed in a heterozygous offspring. This may sound the same as incomplete dominance, but there is a distinct difference. In incomplete dominance, there is a blending of the characteristics in the heterozygous offspring - red + white = pink. In codominance, both alleles are expressed with no blending. For example, hair color in many mammals is a codominant characteristic. If a horse that is homozygous for red hair is crossed with one homozygous for white, a color pattern termed roan - white hairs intermingled with red hairs - is produced...
To begin with, had they defined "incomplete dominance" correctly, it would not sound the same as the definition for codominance. They compound the confusion by bringing "blending" into the picture. It's possible for codominance to result in intermediate appearances. It also makes it harder for them to explain why the A and B blood groups are codominant instead of incompletely dominant, when they cover that a couple of pages down the line.
That concludes our lineup for the moment. Comment to your hearts' content.