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!
WEBCAST: THE WORLD BEFORE DARWIN 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: http://darwinlecture1.eventbrite.com/ For information about the hosts, visit: http://www.readingodyssey.com/ http://www.darwin150.com/ THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH 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: http://ncseweb.org/rncse/29/review-greatest-show-earth To buy The Greatest Show on Earth from Amazon.com (and benefit NCSE in the process), visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/1416594787/nationalcenter02/002-9119745-6094654 For subscription information, visit: http://ncseweb.org/membership NICK MATZKE, QUOTE HUNTER 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: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/content/view/164/30/ For Matzke's post at The Panda's Thumb blog, visit: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2009/09/survival-of-the-1.html For the details of the spurious Darwin quotations, visit: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/content/view/157/1/ NCSE IS TWITTERING 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: http://twitter.com/ncse Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncseweb.org -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, 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 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncseweb.org Eugenie C. 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