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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/02/27

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

The thousandth signatory to NCSE's Project Steve arrived -- just in time
for the Darwin anniversary celebrations! Plus NCSE is making a sample
chapter from the second edition of Eugenie C. Scott's acclaimed Evolution
vs. Creationism available. And a journal is calling for papers for a
special issue on the teaching of evolution in a university setting.


With the addition of Steve #1000 on September 5, 2008, NCSE's Project Steve
attained the kilosteve mark. A tongue-in-cheek parody of the long-standing
creationist tradition of amassing lists of "scientists who doubt evolution"
or "scientists who dissent from Darwinism," Project Steve mocks such lists
by restricting its signatories to scientists whose first name is
Steve. (Cognates are also accepted, such as Stephanie, Esteban, Istvan,
Stefano, or even Tapani -- the Finnish equivalent.) About 1% of the United
States population possesses such a first name, so each signatory represents
about 100 potential signatories. ("Steve" was selected in honor of the
late Stephen Jay Gould, a Supporter of NCSE and a dauntless defender of
evolution education.)

Steve #1000 was announced at the Improbable Research press conference and
crowned at the Improbable Research show, both held on February 13, 2008, as
part of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott and Steve Mirsky,
long-time writer, columnist, and podcaster for Scientific American
presented a commemorative plaque to -- of all people -- Steven P. Darwin, a
professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the herbarium
at Tulane University. In a February 14, 2009, press release, Darwin
commented, "This is the first time that being a Darwin - or a Steve - has
paid off!" Videos of the press conference and the award ceremony, and a
Scientific American podcast, are available on-line.

The fact that Steve #1000 hails from Louisiana is particularly ironic,
since the state recently enacted a law that threatens to open the door for
creationism and scientifically unwarranted critiques of evolution to be
taught in public school science classes. When a policy implementing the
law was drafted, a provision that prohibited the use of materials that
teach creationism in the public schools was deleted. Recently, the Society
of Integrative and Comparative Biology announced that, due to the
antievolution law, it would not hold its 2011 conference in New Orleans; a
spokesperson for the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors
Bureau told the weekly New Orleans City Business (February 23, 2009) that
the city would lose about $2.7 million as a result of SICB's decision.

Although the idea of Project Steve is frivolous, the statement is
serious. It reads, "Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying
principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is
overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common
ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and
processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution
occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its
occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically
irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to
'intelligent design,' to be introduced into the science curricula of our
nation's public schools."

Highlights from the history of Project Steve include the original press
release, Glenn Branch and Skip Evans's description of the project for
Geotimes, the announcement that Steven W. Hawking was Steve #300, the
announcement (on St. Stephen's Day!) of Steve #400, and the announcements
of Steves #600, #700, #800, and #900. And, of course, Project Steve proved
to be scientifically fruitful in its own right. "The Morphology of Steve,"
by Eugenie C. Scott, Glenn Branch, Nick Matzke, and several hundred Steves,
appeared in the prestigious Annals of Improbable Research; the paper
provided "the first scientific analysis of the sex, geographic location,
and body size of scientists named Steve."

Currently, there are 1046 signatories to Project Steve, including 100% of
eligible Nobel laureates (Steven Weinberg and Steven Chu), 100% of eligible
members of President Obama's Cabinet (Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy),
at least ten members of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors of
widely used textbooks such as Molecular Biology of the Gene,
Psychology: An Evolutionary Approach, and Introduction to Organic
Geochemistry, and the authors of popular science books such as A Brief
History of Time, Why We Age, and Darwin's Ghost. When last surveyed in
February 2006, 54% of the signatories work in the biological sciences
proper; 61% work in related fields in the life sciences.

Additionally, Project Steve appeared in Steven Pinker's recent book, The
Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Viking,
2007). Pinker, himself a single-digit Steve, described it as "the most
formidable weapon in the fight against neo-creationism today," adding,
"Part satire, part memorial to Stephen Jay Gould, the project maintains a
Steve-O-Meter (now pointing past 800) and has spun off a T-shirt, a song, a
mascot (Professor Steve Steve, a panda puppet), and a paper in the
respected scientific journal Annals of Improbable Research called 'The
Morphology of Steve' (based on the T-shirt sizes ordered by the signatories)."

For the 2009 press release, visit:

For the videos and podcast, visit:

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:

For the story in New Orleans City Business, visit:

For the 2003 press release, visit:

For Branch and Evans's report in Geotimes, visit:

And for "The Morphology of Steve" (PDF), visit:


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott's book Evolution vs. Creationism
is now available in a second edition, updated to include the seminal case
Kitzmiller v. Dover -- in which a federal court found that it was
unconstitutional to teach "intelligent design" creationism in the public
schools -- as well as a new chapter on public opinion and media coverage
and a new foreword by Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over the
Kitzmiller trial.

The first edition of the book was praised by reviewers in The New York
Times Book Review, Science Education, Choice (which named it a 2005
Outstanding Academic Title), the Journal of the History of Biology, Science
Books & Films, Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith, Theology and
Science, the Toronto Globe & Mail, and even the Institute for Creation
Research's Back to Genesis.

Want to see for yourself? Now's your chance. For a limited time, we've
posted a sample chapter -- chapter 1, on "Science: Truth without
Certainty" from the book. It's yours to download, read, print out, and
share with others. See for yourself why the reviewer for NSTA Recommends
concluded, "Evolution vs. Creationism would be an excellent resource for
any science teacher, especially those who teach biology or the nature of

For the sample chapter (PDF), visit:

For further information about Evolution vs. Creationism, visit:


The Journal of Effective Teaching, a peer-reviewed electronic journal
devoted to the discussion of teaching excellence in colleges and
universities, is calling for papers for a special issue on the teaching of
evolution in a university setting. Topics may include Darwinism in the
history and philosophy of science, politics, and religion; evolution and
the nature of science; barriers in the understanding of evolution;
strategies for teaching controversial issues related to evolution and/or
Darwinism; educational research in the teaching of evolution; challenging
preconceptions in the classroom, and engaging students who have strong
religious views in scientific investigations as part of a liberal arts
degree. Articles will be accepted until May 1, 2009.

For the call for papers (PDF), visit:

For information about the Journal of Effective Teaching, visit:


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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:

where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and
threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism

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