- Peter Burns
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution
|Dossiers | Home | Incidents | Literature | Projects | Public BB | Topics|
|Donate | NCSE | PT | TD | TOA | Public BB Archive | PvM's Blog|
There are currently 1 user and 10 guests online.
Line Numbered Transcripts Index - P934-954
Submitted by Peter Burns on Wed, 2009-03-18 15:43.
1 What are your responsibilities, Doctor Mayer, and
2 activities as the director of BSCS?
3 A Well, the executive director is responsible for
4 everything. But basically, my job is to implement the
5 mission of the organization and to insure that it is well
7 It is to insure that we retain contact with both the
8 educational and scientific communities, maintain frequent
9 contact with schools, school boards, state boards of
10 education and to have liaison with publishers, producers
11 of educational materials.
12 Q Have you consulted with educators or school
13 districts or school institutions in this country and
15 A Yes, sir. As I say, in California, Florida, South
16 Dakota, a variety of places.
17 Q Doctor Mayer, do you have any association with the
18 National Association of Biology Teachers?
19 A Yes, sir. I've been a member of that organization
20 for a number of years. I was president-elect, president
21 and past president. I'm an honorary member of that
22 organization, and I'm chairman of the NAST committee for
23 education in evolutionary biology.
24 Q How would you describe your area of expertise?
25 A Well, my doctorate was in the fields of systematics
1 A (Continuing) and morphology, which are two fields
2 basic to evolutionary biology. So my research work was
3 done in an evolutionary field.
4 I've had a number of specialties, but most recently have
5 concentrated on education, and particularly, evolutionary
7 Q Have you testified as an expert before in any court?
8 A Yes, sir.
9 Q In what regard?
10 A I was a consultant and witness at the California
11 Segraves trial earlier this year. I consulted with the
12 Lemmon School Board and was part of a trial in Lemmon,
13 South Dakota, concerning creationism.
14 Q Was that the focus of your testimony?
15 A The focus of the testimony was primarily what
16 constituted adequate biological education and how a
17 teacher would normally present the discipline of biology.
18 MR. CEARLEY: Your Honor, I offer Doctor Mayer as an
19 expert witness in biology and biology education.
20 THE COURT: Okay. That will be accepted.
21 MR. CEARLEY: (Continuing)
22 Q When did you first hear the term "creation science"?
23 A The term "creation science" is relatively new. I
24 believe I ran across it about 1965, There was a period
25 where there was no strong anti-evolution sentiment nor any
1 A (Continuing) organization exclusively devoted to
2 this activity. And it been primarily in response to new
3 text book subject matter, particularly the use of the word
4 "evolution", that has allowed this group to reform and
5 resurrect itself.
6 Q Does your role with the Biological Sciences
7 Curriculum Study bring you into contact with the creation
8 science movement, if I can use that term, or with creation
10 A Yes, it does. From its inception in 1960, BSCS knew
11 that the inclusion of evolutionary material in textbooks
12 would essentially be a red flag to a segment of the
13 fundamentalist community.
14 However, as one of the board members stated at the time,
15 `A hundred years without Darwin are enough', and we did
16 have the temerity to reintroduce the term "evolution" and
17 a discussion of evolution into text.
18 Q What, if you can describe briefly, Doctor Mayer, is
19 the purpose or what are the goals of the Biological
20 Sciences Curriculum Study?
21 A Most simply stated, the goal is the improvement of
22 biological education at all levels. When the BSCS began,
23 we concentrated on the tenth grade level simply because
24 that was the academic level at which most students in the
25 United States contacted biology for the first time as a
1 A (Continuing) discrete discipline. And it was felt
2 that that is where our initial impact should have been.
3 Since that time, we have prepared materials from
4 kindergarten through college and into adult education.
5 We've used every conceivable type of medium to get the
6 message across, games, models, films, even television
8 We have defined educational goals of the organization as
9 serving a broad population of students from the educable
10 mentally handicapped to what is now called the gifted and
11 talented student.
12 And, lastly, we have recognized the transdiciplinary
13 ramifications of the subject of biology so that materials
14 now incorporate a much broader definition than biology
15 formerly occupied.
16 Q Does BSCS stress any particular areas of biology?
17 A Well, it stresses, first of all, a basic concept of
18 biology. The problem has been that if Content gets
19 very far behind, so that we wanted, first of all, to be at
20 cutting edge, acquaint students with what was happening in
21 the mid-twentieth century. And, secondly, there was no
22 agreement on the best way to do this.
23 A textbook, for example, is kind of a carrier current
24 for information. And depending on the noise to signal
25 ratio, you get a better or less good reception. So that
we decided, as we could not agree on one single way to
1 A (Continuing) write a textbook, we would write
2 three. Now, three was completely arbitrary, based
3 primarily on the availability of time and money. We could
4 have written thirty, but we concentrated on three. We
5 produced three basic books.
6 First, one that came to be known as the green
7 version." These were color coded, simply not to clue
8 anybody to their content , so that we could see if people
9 actually had a real preference not prejudiced by a title.
10 The green version was an ecological approach. It
11 approached biology in terms of the organism and its
13 The blue version was a molecular approach. It
14 approached biology from the standpoint basically of
16 The yellow version was what you might call a
17 developmental and cellular approach, a more classic
18 approach to biology.
19 The initial idea was that we would try these three out,
20 and one would swim and the others would sink. We found,
21 however, that these books are now in fourth and fifth
22 editions, and there is a market for a wide variety of
23 approaches to biology. And it seems reasonable to us that
24 others would write additional texts based on different
25 approaches to the subject and still find a market.
1 Q Doctor Mayer, does BSCS produce text materials or
2 textbooks and teaching materials in other areas of science?
3 A We have produced materials in a variety of areas,
4 particularly as science impacts in the social sciences.
5 For example, land use is a module that applies scientific
6 data to the management of land.
7 Energy is another module that takes the problems of our
8 energy shortages, their biological relationships, and,
9 indeed, their global relationships.
10 So we have a variety of works that extend beyond what
11 you might call the traditional boundaries of biology.
12 Q Will you tell the Court how BSCS came into existence?
13 A About 1957-58, the National Academy of Sciences'
14 national research council investigated the status of
15 science education, particularly in American high school,
16 and found it woefully wanting, and decided that this, in a
17 technological age, was unacceptable.
18 About the same time, the first Russian sputnik went up,
19 which gave cry to the fact that American science education
20 was obviously falling behind because the Russians had
21 beaten us.
22 At that time, the National Science Foundation made
23 grants to a number of organizations with the specific
24 injunction to research and prepare materials that would
25 replace those currently in use in secondary school science
1 A (Continuing) courses, primarily.
2 And this was done. The initial grant was made to the
3 American Institute of Biological Sciences in 1958. In the
4 early Sixties, around 1962, this grant was transferred to
5 the University of Colorado. And in the early Seventies,
6 BSCS became a private nonprofit 50IC3 corporation to
7 manage things that the university was not willing to have
8 on campus.
9 Q Initially, how did BSCS go about producing these
10 three textbooks that you testified to?
11 A Well, as science is what scientists do, the first
12 thing we did was assemble a cadre of distinguished
13 biological scientists from throughout the United States.
14 There were roughly thirty-five of these.
15 We also felt that, despite the fact that scientists knew
16 science, they didn't know education very well. So we
17 figured one way of ameliorating that situation was to pair
18 a scientist with a teacher. So we brought an equal number
19 of teachers. In short, we had seventy people, scientist
20 and teacher in pairs. The scientist to know the science;
21 the teacher to tell that person whether the material
22 produced was teachable or not. There's no point in
23 producing materials that people can't understand that are
24 above the grade level.
25 Prior to that time, there had been a number of meetings
1 A (Continuing) to outline the course of work, what
2 was to be done, what the content was to be. We had a
3 curriculum content committee that outlined the three works.
4 Teams met in Boulder, Colorado, in the summer of 1960
5 and produced a series of three paperback books that I've
7 These books were then tried out with a hundred or so
8 teachers and several thousand students in 1960-61, in the
9 school year. And there were meetings around the country,
10 people came together to decide whether this was working,
11 did it reach the students, was it valuable.
12 And on the basis of extensive feedback from teachers and
13 students, the materials were returned to the BSCS and
14 rewritten by a much larger team. This time we had a
15 hundred and fifteen teachers and educators, and much
16 larger field tests with over a thousand teachers and a
17 couple hundred thousand students who, again, tested the
18 materials, which were found to be acceptable, new,
19 exciting on both the part of the teacher and the student.
20 And on the basis of that, we had originally decided to
21 make simple models that other people could copy, but
22 because we had gone so far and the interest now was so
23 great in preserving the content of the initial three,
24 contracts were let with private publishers to produce
25 these books. And they came out with commercial editions
1 A (Continuing) in 1963.
2 Q And you've been marketing those textbooks or other
3 derivatives from them ever since?
4 A Yes, we have.
5 Q Are you familiar, Doctor Mayer, with how other
6 publishers develop their text materials for teaching
8 A Yes, sir. Over the years I've worked with
9 practically every major publisher of textbooks in the
10 United States.
11 Q Will you tell the Court how that is done?
12 A It depends on the publisher. Publishing is a quite
13 competitive industry, and in a way publishing is like the
14 movie industry or like television. When something
15 succeeds, other people produce duplicates, produce clones
16 of this material. The BSCS material cloned very well, and
17 we were very happy to have it do so.
18 And I was involved with a number of publishers. They
19 normally pick an author team, decide on the framework of a
20 course, prepare a manuscript, collect illustrations. The
21 publisher looks at his input from the marketing
22 standpoint, and a new work comes out.
23 This usually is a process taking two, three, sometimes
24 four years, depending on the publisher.
25 On the other hand, there are a group of what we call
1 A (Continuing) "managed textbooks." Regardless of
2 whose name is on the book, the book is produced in-house
3 within a publishing establishment. And the authors in
4 that case are kind of a facade.
5 The publisher feels that his or her group of individuals
6 knows the marketplace better than teachers, and,
7 therefore, would be in a better position to produce a
8 marketable, if not a really contributory text.
9 Q How do the participants in these decisions determine
10 the actual content of these textbooks?
11 A Well, as I said, science is what scientists do. And
12 you look at where science is at a given point. For
13 example, the textbooks prior to 1960 were very strongly
14 rooted in the fields of morphology and systematics. That
15 is, they asked students to list orders of insects, name
16 the parts of flowers, a tremendous burden of rote memory.
17 A student was found, for example, to memorize more new
18 words in a biology course then if he were enrolled in a
19 foreign language, so that you were trying to teach the
20 student science, but in essence, you were trying to teach
21 it in a foreign language.
22 So we wanted to make sure that the level of vocabulary
23 was down to the point where the student would get ideas
24 and concepts and major principles because of the details
25 of the things that one forgets.
1 Q I take it, then, that part of your focus was to
2 establish some kind of cohesive theme in your text
4 A Yes. We ended up developing what we called
5 "themes." There were ten of these. They ran throughout
6 the works. They were pervasive. They were threads
7 throughout the texts holding the material together. You
8 see, you need some kind of an organizer, otherwise it's
9 just like going through a filing cabinet and looking at
10 random cards that aren't even alphabetized. There needs
11 to be some order to things.
12 And you try to order a textbook in the logical and
13 reasonable way, So that we would have a theme such as the
14 interaction of organism and environment, the inter-
15 dependence of structure and function, genetics,
16 homeostasis, which is kind of a physiological bounce, and
17 of course, evolution. These were all major themes for our
19 Q Are there others that you've developed over the
21 A Yes, sir. Themes, you mean?
22 Q Yes, sir.
23 A Yes, sir.
24 Q How do you go about determining, in your experience,
25 what the current state of the discipline is?
1 A Well, you look, first of all, at the discipline.
2 For example, were I writing a book today, I would advise
3 somebody to write it around the field of genetics. This
4 is where the cutting edge of biology is at this particular
6 You read daily in your newspapers about genetic
7 engineering, about people getting patents on new life
8 forms, about all of the problems I mentioned cloning a
9 while ago. It got so popular there was even a cloning
10 hoax, if you recall.
11 And I think the time is right for someone to come out
12 with a textbook with a genetics theme because this, in
13 essence, is where biology is going, where the research is
14 becoming most rapid.
15 I think I would advise people now to look at the state
16 of health. Health is a problem in this country. And I
17 certainly would advise them to look very closely at the
18 content of the discipline in terms of treating science as
19 a process because recent studies have shown that America
20 is a race of scientific illiterates. We have bits and
21 pieces of disorganized information.
22 But as far as understanding the process of science goes,
23 we do very badly.
24 Q How do you select, Doctor Mayer, from among all of
25 the various bits of information that are available to go
1 Q (Continuing) into a textbook?
2 A This is really the critical issue in education, the
3 selection you make, because you do make a selection.
4 There is an infinity of information, and you have a very
5 finite time.
6 First of all, you have a finite time, and secondly, you
7 have a finite book. If we attempted to cover everything,
8 the child would have a cart on which he carried back and
9 forth something like an Encyclopaedia Britannica, and we
10 wouldn't be sure we'd covered it then.
11 So you do make a selection. You are going to have a
12 four, five, maybe six hundred page textbook. You are
13 limited by pages. You are going to have somewhere around,
14 on a good year with everything going well, you are going
15 to have roughly a hundred and fifty days of instruction,
16 and that is an upper limit. You are far more likely to
17 have a hundred and thirty, a hundred and twenty, a much
18 lesser amount with various other school activities.
19 So the first thing you have to recognize is that you are
20 dealing with whatever it is as a finite container for
21 information. Therefore, you ask yourself the question,
22 `Out of all of the things that we could occupy the
23 students' time with, which will be the more valuable?'
24 And those are the things you try to tease out to give the
1 A (Continuing)
2 For example, we found that having students dissect
3 earthworms and crayfish and learn long lists of names,
4 really is a nonproductive activity. First of all, it's
5 rather dull, and secondly, it has no application.
6 So we would look at materials that were a little more
7 meaningful, little more conceptually oriented, little less
8 heavy on the vocabulary, and try to get them to think in
9 terms of, let's say, heredity, or how the blood circulates
10 through the body, what's the mechanism and why, or
11 nutrition, or any one of these other topics which could be
12 personally valuable to the student.
13 Q How do people in your business, Doctor Mayer, take
14 into consideration such things as grade level and ability
15 and that kind of thing?
16 A Well, we have to study a lot of school systems
17 First of all, we know, anyone who has had children know,
18 that people operate at different levels as they get
19 older. So it's quite obvious you are not going to prepare
20 materials for the first, second or third grades at the
21 same level you are going to prepare them at the tenth,
22 eleventh and twelfth.
23 If we really recognize that education is a cumulative
24 process, and in theory, at each grade level, the student
25 knows a little more than when he or she started, you are
1 A (Continuing) able to carry them a little further
2 each time.
3 To simply keep the student spiraling around a single
4 content point for eight to twelve years is simply
5 ridiculous, so that you try to raise the level of the
6 student. You try to build on the vocabulary. You try to
7 build on the ideas so that materials for the sixth or
8 seventh grade aren't similar to the materials for the
9 twelfth grade.
10 And also, there is a sequential way in which things are
11 happening. Several of the witnesses pointed out that if
12 the tenth grade students take biology, at the eleventh
13 grade they normally take chemistry. And at the twelfth
14 grade, they normally take physics.
15 Well, this means that if biology comes before chemistry
16 and you want to have students do anything chemical, you've
17 got to introduce some chemistry at that level so that they
18 can get started. You don't try to teach them all of
19 chemistry; just enough to understand the biological
20 activities that are going to follow.
21 So not only are you writing for a reading level and
22 maturity level, but you are also writing for what you
23 might call a cumulation of knowledge over the years so
24 that the student isn't bored by the redundancy of his
1 Q Do the terms "scope" and "sequence" in combination
2 have any particular meaning to you?
3 A Yes. To any teachers throughout the United States,
4 most publishers provide something Sometimes it's called
5 a scope and sequence chart. It comes in a number of forms.
6 But in simplest essence, it plots out a school year and
7 shows the teacher, devote so many days to this, so many
8 days to that, in this order. And if time is running
9 short, perhaps omit this and skip on to something else.
10 In other words, it's kind of a roadmap for teaching
11 during the year. You calculate the number of teaching
12 days you are going to have, look at your scope and
13 sequence chart, and figure out what in that number of days
14 that's on that chart can be taken in reasonable and
15 logical progression and still give the students the best
16 possible education within the classroom days allocated.
17 Q I take it from what you said, Doctor Mayer, that
18 BSCS texts in biology, anyway, generally follow some sort
19 of organization that's tied together with major organizing
20 themes, is that correct?
21 A Yes, indeed. There is a pattern. You kind of plot
22 out the course of study before you get down to writing the
23 book so you know where things will be and, as I say, it is
24 a cumulative kind of thing.
25 For example, in order to understand evolution, a student
1 A (Continuing) must know something about genetics.
2 It becomes meaningless unless you know something about
3 genetics. So obviously the genetics chapters will be
4 ahead of the evolution chapters when you seriously begin
5 to talk about the mechanism of evolution.
6 Now, that doesn't mean that early in the book you
7 haven't shown children various types of organisms and
8 arranged them in some kind of a hierarchical fashion.
9 Some people might regard that as evolutionary, but it
10 requires no special genetic information to understand that.
11 Q Do most other major publishers in the area of
12 biology, that is, publishers of biology text books, use
13 the same kind of organizational structure?
14 A Yes. It's fairly standard throughout the industry,
15 some kind of scope and sequence chart.
16 Q what effect, Doctor Mayer, does the structure of the
17 textbook in a course such as biology or in any science
18 course have on defining the content of that course in a
19 classroom situation?
20 A It's a tremendously important effect. As a matter
21 of fact, one of the witnesses today testified to the
22 importance of the textbook as being a curriculum
24 This is kind of a chicken and egg proposition. If you
25 have a curriculum that has been working well, you try to
1 A (Continuing) find a text that matches that. If you
2 think it's time for a change and you wish to go in a
3 different direction, different emphases, you may look at a
4 wide variety of textbooks, select the one that most is
5 congruent with your own patterns and school desires and
6 select that.
7 But ultimately, in those situations the textbook becomes
8 the curriculum. What is in the textbook is what is
9 taught. With relatively few exceptions, teachers tend to
10 stay with the text, and what is more, stay with it chapter
11 one, two, three, four, seriatim throughout the year,
12 sometimes never getting to the latter chapters due to
13 simply running out of time.
14 But the textbook is an extremely important curriculum
15 determinate, even in those schools and districts where
16 they may have curriculum guides. We heard the topic of
17 curriculum guide brought up today.
18 And here you have a situation where a district or
19 sometimes individual schools, sometimes an entire state,
20 as the state of New York with its region syllabus,
21 prepares an outline of content. But this is not divorced
22 from existing materials. One doesn't develop a content
23 outline for which are no materials.
24 And you would find that many of these curriculum guides
25 are simply manufactured by getting a large number of
1 A (Continuing) textbooks and going through the tables
2 of contents and putting them together in one way or
3 another to make a curriculum guide.
4 This isn't bad. It isn't dishonest. It just emphasizes
5 the very tight interplay between text and teaching.
6 Q Can I assume from your testimony, Doctor Mayer, that
7 you are familiar with the biology textbooks that are in
8 use in most of the public school in the United States?
9 A I try to keep up with all books. I want to see, you
10 might say, what the competition is doing, so I do that.
11 Q Approximately what percentage of American public
12 schools or textbook sales in the biology area go to BSCS?
13 A This is very difficult information to come by
14 because publishers are very jealous of their sales
15 figures. But it's been conservatively estimated by
16 outside sources that fifty percent of American school
17 youngsters use BSCS materials directly, and a hundred
18 percent use them indirectly because of the modeling that's
19 taken off from the original BSCS book.
20 So one needs only to look at the books prior to 1960 and
21 the books subsequent to 1960 to see the influence BSCS has
23 For example, prior to 1960, the most single popular
24 selling text in America never used the word "evolution-"
25 It wasn't in the index, it wasn't anywhere. And when we
1 A (Continuing) came along and we introduced the word,
2 so did they. The word is now in these books.
3 So there has been some progress, some change.
4 Q Is there a lot of overlap between textbooks
5 published by different publishers in your business?
6 A Yes. If you excuse the expression, there is no way
7 to have a separate creation of biology each time a new
8 book is written, so that actually what you find is about
9 ninety percent of the content in textbooks is common.
10 All textbooks, for example, cover the cell. All text-
11 books cover the process of mitosis. All textbooks provide
12 animal surveys and so on, so that there are a lot of
13 commonalty to texts.
14 And maybe about ten percent of the content is different,
15 either through deliberate selection or through
16 differential emphasis.
17 Q Doctor Mayer, you identified evolution as one of the
18 ten major themes, I think, that BSCS has incorporated in
19 its books. Why did that come about?
20 A Well, evolution is simply the only theory that makes
21 biology comprehensible. Evolution to a biologist is what
22 the atomic theory is to a chemist or physicist; it ties
23 the discipline together. It makes it make sense. It's
24 the way which facts can be organized, things can be
25 arranged in hierarchies and biology understood. There's
1 A (Continuing) simply no way you could have a student
2 understand a given organism if there were no relationships
3 between organisms.
4 in other words, if there weren't the possibility of
5 transferring information learned, let's say, on a fish to
6 information applicable to a reptile or to a mammal or even
7 to humans themselves. We see this everywhere, the
8 ubiquity of this concept.
9 Manning and Best could do their work on insulin on dogs
10 because of the relationship of dogs to humans as in that
11 group called mammals. There was a transferable bit of
12 information because of similarities of structure and
14 Similarly, you would find hybridization of wheat, for
15 example, operates on the basis of the fact that there are
16 principles that are applicable to plant fertilization and
17 plant development and plant genetics.
18 Q Do you have
19 THE COURT: Mr. Cearley, we're obviously not going
20 to finish this evening, so why don't we go ahead and
21 recess until 9:00 o'clock in the morning.
22 (Thereupon, Court was in
23 recess at 4:55 p.m.)
Antievolutionists Say the Darndest Things
Antievolutionists often express outrage over alleged incivility from those who oppose their efforts to evade the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But they have no difficulty in dishing out the abuse themselves. Here is a sample from the Invidious Comparisons thread that documents egregious behavior on the part of the religious antievolution advocates.
IDC advocate Phillip E. Johnson:
Gould’s uncomfortable situation reminds me of the self-created predicament of Mikhail Gorbachev in the last years of the Soviet Empire. Gorbachev recognized that something had gone wrong with the Communist system, but thought that the system itself could be preserved if it was reformed. His democratic friends warned him that the Marxist fundamentalists would inevitably turn against him, but he was unwilling to endanger his position in the ruling elite by following his own logic to its necessary conclusion. Gould, like Gorbachev, deserves immense credit for bringing glasnost to a closed society of dogmatists. And, like Gorbachev, he lives on as a sad reminder of what happens to those who lack the nerve to make a clean break with a dying theory.Link