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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/09/11

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A chance to hear Everett Mendelsohn describe "The World Before Darwin"
and to read a forthcoming review of Richard Dawkins's The Greatest
Show on Earth. Meanwhile, Nick Matzke wins a prize for finding a
source of a spurious Darwin quotation. And NCSE is now twittering!


Hear the distinguished historian of science Everett Mendelsohn
describe "The World Before Darwin" on-line! From 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.
(Eastern) on September 16, 2009, Mendelsohn will deliver the inaugural
lecture of the 150th anniversary Origin of Species lecture series,
hosted by The Reading Odyssey and the Darwin Facebook project -- and
the whole lecture will be webcast live.

Sponsors of the lecture series include the National Center for Science
Education, National Geographic, Citrix Online and its HiDef
Conferencing Division, Campaign Monitor, the Harvard University of
Comparative Zoology, and the New York Academy of Sciences. Future
speakers in the series include Jonathan Weiner, the author of The Beak
of the Finch; NCSE Supporter Sean M. Carroll; and E. O. Wilson.

For information on the webcast, visit: 

For information about the hosts, visit: 


Richard Dawkins's new book The Greatest Show on Earth (Free Press,
2009) "is a positive commemoration of the triumph of a grand arching
theory that has withstood the continuous onslaught of 150 years of new
data, including the tsunami of molecular, genetic, and sequence data
from the past fifteen years," according to Douglas Theobald, whose
review now appears in the advance on-line section of NCSE's website.

"No other book currently available approaches Dawkins's comprehensive
yet accessible treatment of the extraordinarily diverse and massive
body of data that drives ineluctably to the same conclusion, the only
conclusion that makes sense of everything in biology: that all the
'endless forms' of known life share a common genetic kinship, as they
have been, and are being, evolved," writes Theobald, a professor of
biochemistry at Brandeis University.

Theobald's review will appear in a forthcoming issue of Reports of the
NCSE. So if you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today?
Reviews of books such as Dawkins's, detailed reports on antievolution
activity across the nation and around the world, original scientific
articles and critiques of creationism, discussions of how to defend
the teaching of evolution in the public schools -- what's not to like?
Don't miss out -- subscribe now!

For Theobald's review, visit: 

To buy The Greatest Show on Earth from (and benefit NCSE in
the process), visit: 

For subscription information, visit: 


Former NCSE staffer Nick Matzke found a source for a spurious Darwin
quotation -- and won a prize for it! The passage in question -- "It is
not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most
intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to
change" -- is due not to Darwin but apparently to Leon C. Megginson,
Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University at
Baton Rouge, who offered substantially similar statements, intended as
paraphrases of Darwin, in two articles published in the 1960s. The
Darwin Correspondence Project comments, "At some stage Megginson's
paraphrase of Darwin, slightly recast, was turned into an actual
quotation from Origin. That part of the story remains to be told, and
we look forward to Nick finding out more."

Discussing his search for the source of the spurious quotation at The
Panda's Thumb blog, Matzke explained, "The quote appears to start as a
paraphrase; there is no evidence that Megginson initially intended
this to be taken as an exact quote; rather, at some later stage,
someone copied down the phrase (perhaps in lecture notes, for
example), and then later assumed it was an actual quote of Darwin." He
added, "The quote has apparently evolved over time to become shorter
and pithier. I suspect that quotes that are shorter and more pithy
have an 'adaptive advantage' in collections of inspirational quotes,
motivational seminars, and similar venues which seem to be common
habitats for the quote in the business world. I hereby dub this
process 'pithification.'"

Matzke, who worked for NCSE from 2004 to 2007 and is presently a
graduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology at the
University of California, Berkeley, will receive a copy of volume 16
of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. The search for the source of
two other spurious Darwin quotations -- "In the struggle for survival,
the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they
succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment" and "In the
long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to
collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed" -- is still
continuing. And anyone who is able to find a closer and earlier match
for the "It is not the strongest of the species" quotation will still
be eligible to win a prize from the Darwin Correspondence Project.

For the Darwin Correspondence Project's announcement, visit: 

For Matzke's post at The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: 

For the details of the spurious Darwin quotations, visit: 


NCSE is twittering! The latest in the creationism/evolution
controversy, in 140-character bursts! Join now to start receiving
NCSE's tweets.

For NCSE's Twitter channel, 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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