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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/10/01

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new survey includes questions about Darwin and the Scopes trial.
Plus a free excerpt from Stones & Bones, and NCSE's Steven Newton
discusses the economic importance of science education with USA Today.


A new survey on American knowledge about religion included two
questions relevant to evolution education. The survey, conducted by
the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, "covered a
wide range of topics, including the beliefs and practices of major
religious traditions as well as the role of religion in American
history and public life" in order to "provide a baseline measurement
of how much Americans know about religion today."

The media's coverage of the survey understandably focused on the
general lack of knowledge about religion that it revealed, with The
New York Times (September 28, 2010) reporting, "On average, people who
took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many
flubbed even questions about their own faith." But the questionnaire
also asked nine general knowledge questions, including one about
Darwin and one about the Scopes trial.

Respondents were asked, "Which of these people developed the theory of
evolution by natural selection?" and offered the choice of Charles
Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Clarence Darrow. Seventy-one percent of
respondents selected the correct answer of Darwin, 6% selected Freud,
3% selected Darrow, and 20% said that they didn't know. (In a 2009
survey conducted by the British Council, 84% of American respondents
said that they had heard of Darwin.)

Respondents were also asked, "And which of these court trials focused
on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?" and offered
the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs.
Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct
answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education,
3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn't

The Pew Research Center's report describes the survey as "a nationwide
poll conducted from May 19 through June 6, 2010, among 3,412 Americans
age 18 and older, on landlines and cell phones, in English and
Spanish. Jews, Mormons and atheists/agnostics were oversampled to
allow analysis of these relatively small groups." The margin of
sampling error for the total sample of 3412 respondents was +/- 2.5%.

For the Pew Research Center's report on the survey (PDF), visit: 

For the story in The New York Times, visit: 

For NCSE's story about the British Council's survey, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Char Matejovsky's Stones &
Bones (Polebridge Press, 2007), with illustrations by Robaire Ream.
Aimed at children 4-8, Stones & Bones is a charming introduction to
evolution, with catchy verses like "Evolution's the solution / to the
data that we find / when we study bones and fossils / and we keep an
open mind" and with beautiful and whimsical full-color and full-page
drawings. (The book is packaged with a CD of the Stones & Bones Song
and a bonus recording of The Song of the Meadowlark, for those who
like to sing, as well as read, along.) NCSE's executive director
Eugenie C. Scott writes, "Stones & Bones will delight the
picture-book set with its rhythmic verse and gorgeous, intricate
pictures. Readers (and the read-to) also are likely to learn the real
science of evolution, a definite plus."

For the excerpt from Stones & Bones (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book, visit: 


NCSE's Steven Newton was quoted in a USA Today story (September 24,
2010) about a new report on the economic importance of science
education. The report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited,
lamented that "in spite of sometimes heroic efforts and occasional
very bright spots, our overall public school system -- or more
accurately 14,000 systems -- has shown little sign of improvement,
particularly in mathematics and science." Newton commented, "The
current economic crisis makes the link between education and
employment very clear."

In remarks on the newspaper's Science Fair blog (September 24, 2010),
Newton wrote, "The NCSE welcomes this report, and we hope that the
call for improving education -- particularly in science, math, and
technology fields -- is heard by many." He added, "Cuts to education
are almost always short-sighted; there is a direct link between
education and the economy. Educated citizens earn more, and pay more
taxes. When states save money by not fixing roads, more drivers get
flat tires. But when states try to save money by short-changing public
education, they rob kids of their futures and they rob America of its
economic growth."

For the story in USA Today, visit: 

For Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited, visit: 

For Newton's remarks on the Science Fair blog, 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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