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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/09/04

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A good time for back-to-school reading, with a new issue of Evolution:
Education and Outreach as well as sneak peeks at four reviews from
forthcoming issues of Reports of the NCSE, all now available on-line.


The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new
journal aspiring to promote accurate understanding and comprehensive
teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now
available on-line. The issue, edited by Kristin Jenkins, Education and
Outreach Program Specialist at the National Evolution Synthesis
Center, focuses on teaching evolution. As Greg Eldredge and Niles
Eldredge explain in their editorial, "Teaching can be a difficult
proposition under the best of circumstances, and teaching evolution
can present its own challenges but can also bring its own very special
rewards. The following pages contain articles that explore many
aspects of evolution education, including how state education
standards impact science in the classroom, how evolution is taught
around the world, how people’s education and backgrounds affect their
understanding of and ability to teach and learn about evolution, and
how methods of teaching evolution impact student success and
understanding of evolutionary theory from elementary school to
college." There is also a handful of reviews, including a review of
Juergen Haffer's Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and
Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005 (Springer-Verlag 2007) and a review of
Keith Thomson's The Young Charles Darwin (Yale University Press,

Also included is NCSE's Louise S. Mead and Anton Mates's "Why Science
Standards are Important to a Strong Science Curriculum and How States
Measure Up," which surveys the treatment of evolution in the science
education standards of all fifty states. "The treatment of biological
evolution in state science standards has improved dramatically over
the last ten years," Mead and Mates report, but the news is not all
rosy: eleven states receive grades of D or F for their presentation of
evolution in their standards, and the "treatment of human evolution is
abysmal," with only seven states providing a comprehensive treatment.
In NCSE's regular column for Evolution: Education and Outreach,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott
commented, "On the basis of Mead and Mates’s results, there is reason
to be pleased by the progress over the last ten years in the inclusion
of evolution in state science education standards. That the treatment
of evolution is inadequate in almost one in five states still suggests
that there is considerable room for improvement, but we should be
optimistic that teachers, scientists, and others who care about
science education will continue -- as science standards continue to be
periodically revised -- to work for the appropriate inclusion of
evolution in state science education standards."

For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: 

For Mead and Mates's article, visit: 

For Scott's column, visit: 


On August 29, 1831, Darwin received a letter broaching the idea of his
sailing on the Beagle. After his father reluctantly decided to allow
him to go and after Captain FitzRoy overcame his qualms about the
troubling shape of the young naturalist's nose, Darwin embarked on a
voyage around the world -- and the rest is history. To celebrate the
anniversary, NCSE is offering advance on-line publication of a handful
of reviews on recent books about Darwin.

* Keith Thomson reviews Ralph Colp Jr.'s Darwin's Illness (University
of Florida Press, 2008), commenting, "the story of Darwin's health is
like a mystery novel from which the last chapter has been deleted ...
this is a really valuable book. Everyone seeking to understand Darwin
should read it and choose among the rival explanations of what brought
him so low while he was achieving such greatness."

* John Waller reviews Adrian Desmond and John Moore's Darwin's Sacred
Cause (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), concluding, "another splendid
book from Desmond and Moore, the product of vast learning and deep
sympathy, conveyed with often lyrical prose. If there are difficulties
with the claims they make, they have at least provided, as Darwin said
of his fledgling theory in 1837, a 'theory by which to work.'"

* Leo F. Laporte reviews Keith Thomson's The Young Charles Darwin
(Yale University Press, 2009), commenting, "Thomson carefully and
economically dispels the apparent paradox of 'an ordinary boy, rather
below the common standard of intellect' becoming the young genius in
his thirties formulating the outlines of his revolutionary theory."

* And Sander Gliboff reviews Benjamin Wiker's The Darwin Myth,
concluding, "the book’s claims are unsurprising, since they are mostly
Discovery Institute talking points that date back to the mid-1990s and
have been rebutted many times since then. The biographical
interpretations may be original, though. They also verge on fantasy,
so I recommend this book to Harry Potter fans, in case they want to
see how a real-life Rita Skeeter operates."

These reviews will all appear in forthcoming issues of Reports of the
NCSE. So if you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today?
Reviews such as these, detailed reports on antievolution activity
across the nation around the world, original scientific articles and
critiques of creationism -- what's not to like? Don't miss out --
subscribe now!

For these forthcoming reviews, visit: 

For subscription information, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- 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

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition! 

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

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