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NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/12/11
Submitted by Peter Burns on Fri, 2009-12-11 15:25. National Center for Science Education
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A new talk by NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is now available on-line and NCSE is now using ncse.com as its primary domain name. Plus Ray Comfort is now being accused of plagiarism.
CREATIONISM: STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS Now available on NCSE's YouTube channel: Eugenie C. Scott's "Creationism: Still crazy after all these years," a presentation at the 2009 Atheist Alliance International conference in Burbank, California. Scott describes the evolving history of the antievolution movement in the United States, from attempts to balance the teaching of evolution with "creation science" or "intelligent design" to the present spate of stealth creationist tactics such as "academic freedom" and (in Texas) "all sides of scientific evidence." A question-and-answer session followed, introduced by Richard Dawkins, who commented, "I must say, it's a very good feeling to have Genie Scott and her gang on our side in this battle." NCSE thanks the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science for permission to post the video on the NCSE YouTube channel. Other presentations from the conference are available at the Dawkins Foundation's YouTube channel. For the video and NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECpV0-RBWLw http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd For information about the AAI and its conference, visit: http://www.atheistalliance.org/ For the Dawkins Foundation and its YouTube channel, visit: http://richarddawkins.net/ http://www.youtube.com/user/richarddawkinsdotnet WELCOME TO NCSE.COM NCSE is now using ncse.com -- shorter and easier to remember than ncseweb.org -- as its primary domain name. The change is already in effect on NCSE's website and e-mail. But never fear: links and e-mail to ncseweb.org will be automatically forwarded to ncse.com. NCSE is grateful to Jeff Bennett, president and chief operating officer of NameMedia, Inc., for extending a substantial discount on the ncse.com domain. Said Bennett, "We understand that you are a non-profit organization with a big mission." It's a mission that you can support by joining or renewing today -- at ncse.com. RAY COMFORT, PLAGIARIST? Did Ray Comfort plagiarize part of his "special introduction" to the Origin of Species? That's the charge of Stan Guffey, a lecturer in biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who told the Knoxville Metro Pulse (December 2, 2009), "The introduction begins with a nice, sweet little biography, then degenerates into intellectually lame, lazy distortions, selective reading of the literature, picking and choosing of facts, and misreadings of the historical record." He added that Comfort "gently moves folks into the notion that they don’t want to read what comes after the introduction. He just wants his 50 pages read, 47 of which are anti-intellectual, dishonest drivel, the first three of which are pretty good because I wrote them." The Metro Pulse observed, "A few sentences were chopped or shortened, and a paragraph on Darwin's youth was rearranged and reworded, but most of the passage appears taken directly from Guffey." Alert bloggers detected the apparent plagiarism months ago and confronted both Comfort and the publisher about it, but Guffey was never asked for permission to use his biography of Darwin. When copies of the book were distributed on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Guffey offered, "Would you like me to autograph this?" The Metro Pulse reported, "Guffey is preparing a cease-and-desist letter through an attorney to prevent further distribution of the book and is contemplating further legal action." NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott previously criticized Comfort's introduction as "a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments, teeming with misinformation about the science of evolution, populated by legions of strawmen, and exhibiting what can be charitably described as muddled thinking." Likewise, David Quammen, the author of The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (W. W. Norton, 2006), commented, "Comfort's confused polemic ... will do a severe disservice to anyone who takes it for an entryway to Darwin's great book." For further criticisms of Comfort's "special introduction" to the Origin, visit Don't Diss Darwin, created and maintained by NCSE. For the story in the Metro Pulse, visit: http://www.metropulse.com/news/2009/dec/02/ut-professor-considers-legal-action-over-use-charl/ For Don't Diss Darwin, visit: http://www.dontdissdarwin.com/ Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- 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://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership
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.
One thing that Jack Krebs and I agree with is that Pratt can be likened to an outpost under siege in a cultural war.
My wife and I just returned from a trip to Belgium. We visited Bastogne where a few brave Americans of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the German Army during the battle of the bulge. The German attack was led by a crack SS unit that took no prisoners.
What were we fighting against in Bastogne? We were fighting against a Nazi regime that used the philosophy of Naturalism to justify a eugenics program of terrifying proportions. Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena result only from the laws of chemistry and physics and that teleological or design explanations are not valid. Naturalism is not science. It is a belief system.
In the same manner, the defenders in Pratt are fighting against Naturalism, although they may not realize it. Rather than fighting against science, they are actually fighting for science. They are fighting for science that is driven by logic and critical thinking rather than by a philosophy that teaches to the exclusion of all other teachings that we are the products of only chance and necessity. They are fighting for science that is driven by the scientific method rather than science that is driven by a philosophy of Naturalism.
Rather than using logic and good science to support its assault on the brave contingent in Pratt, the KCFS is using tactics one would expect from those that besieged Bastogne: scare tactics, misinformation and no substantive discussion of the real issues.
So, we are back looking at Pratt as the bombs fall. The question is whether the Board and the Community will be supported by the rest of us as they have had the guts that General McAullife and the other brave Americans had that cold winter day in Bastogne 54 years ago. McAullife's reply was very simple when asked to surrender: "Nuts!" McAullife and the 101st were subsequently relieved by elements of Patton's Third Army. In the same way we all need to rise up and put our hands together for the Pratt Board and Pratt Citizens that have just characterized the outrageous censorship by the science establishment as "Nuts!"