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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/08/27

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

NCSE's Steven Newton takes on the latest crop of misleading headlines.
Plus a preview of Iain McCalman's Darwin's Armada.


Writing at the Huffington Post (August 26, 2010), NCSE's Steven Newton
debunked the latest round of "Darwin was wrong" sensationalism in the
media. A recent paper in Biology Letters, Sarda Sahney, Michael
Benton, and Paul Ferry's "Links between global taxonomic diversity,
ecological diversity and the expansion of vertebrates on land," was
widely proclaimed as showing that Darwin was wrong. But Newton
commented, "These reporters really should have 1) talked to the
authors, 2) read the Biology Letters paper, and 3) familiarized
themselves with what Darwin wrote. When I talked to lead author Sarda
Sahney, of the University of Bristol, she told me unequivocally: 'We
are not in any way suggesting Darwin was wrong.'" After briefly
describing the real significance of the paper, which represents "a
refinement of the details of how evolution happens," Newton lamented
the prospect of these misleading reports fueling creationist efforts
to undermine the teaching of evolution: "Once misguided,
sensationalist headlines such as these start to spread, this poisonous
misinformation -- despite all the hard work and research of scientists
-- becomes a tool for those who reject science."

For Newton's article, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Iain McCalman's Darwin's
Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution (W. W.
Norton, 2009). The excerpt discusses Alfred Russel Wallace's voyages,
culminating with his insight about natural selection: "Whatever it was
that triggered Wallace to think about Malthus, it had given him the
key to the mechanism that drove evolution. He was not to know that
Malthus had done exactly the same for Charles Darwin in 1837-38, when
Darwin reread Principle of Population after returning from his Beagle
voyage. 'The more I thought it over,' Wallace recalled, 'the more I
became convinced that I had at length found the long-sought-for law of
nature that solved the problem of the origin of species.' He had found
the motor that explained how varieties were driven to become new
species, in competition with the parent species that had originally
produced them." According to the New York Times Book Review,
"[McCalman's] narratives are as much bildungsroman as scientific
analysis, showing how the four voyagers were steeled and transformed
by the demands of the sea and the wondrous unfamiliarity of life on
distant shores."

For the excerpt from Darwin's Armada (PDF), visit: 

For information from the publisher, 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

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