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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/11/19

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Morris Goodman, a pioneer in molecular systematics, is dead. A
cross-complaint in a lawsuit over the cancellation of the screening of
a creationist film, and a possible sign of progress in Louisiana's
textbook approval process. Plus NCSE's Facebook page breaks the
10,000-fan mark.

MORRIS GOODMAN DIES

The distinguished evolutionary biologist Morris Goodman died on
November 14, 2010, at the age of 85, according to the Wayne State
University School of Medicine. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on
January 12, 1925, Goodman attended the University of Wisconsin,
Madison, before enlisting in the United States Army Air Forces in
1943. Returning to Wisconsin, he earned his bachelor's, master's, and
doctoral degrees in zoology. After a series of postdoctoral
appointments, in 1958 he took a position at Wayne State University,
where he remained for fifty-two years. In the late 1950s, he became
interested in evolution, and swiftly became a pioneer in molecular
systematics, especially as applied to primates. Describing a 1975
paper using hemoglobin sequence data, he commented, "I think we were
the first to get hard evidence of Darwinian evolution." His honors
included election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the
National Academy of Sciences and the Charles R. Darwin Award for
Lifetime Achievement from the American Association of Physical
Anthropologists.

Goodman's scientific prominence, as well as his controversial proposal
that chimpanzees and bonobos be reclassified from the genus Pan to the
genus Homo, resulted in his frequently serving as a target of
creationists. A long-time member of NCSE, Goodman seldom bothered to
rebut creationism publicly, although in his article on "Reconstructing
human evolution from proteins" for The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human
Evolution (edited by Steve Jones, Robert Martin, and David Pilbeam;
Cambridge University Press 1992), he pointedly wrote, "If the biblical
account of creation were true, then independent features of
morphology, proteins and DNA sequences would not be expected to be
congruent with each other. Chaotic patterns, with different proteins
and different DNA sequences failing to indicate any consistent set of
species relationships, would contradict the theory of evolution.
However, such patterns do not exist: the molecular phylogeny of
primates and of all vertebrates is remarkably similar to the picture
that emerges from morphology" (p. 307).

For the obituary from Wayne State University School of Medicine, visit:
http://prognosis.med.wayne.edu/article/morris-goodman-distinguished-professor-and-groundbreaking-researcher-dies 

For a 2004 interview of Goodman, visit:
http://authors.library.caltech.edu/5456/1/hrst.mit.edu/hrs/evolution/public/goodman.html 

COUNTERSUIT IN AFA V. CSC

A lawsuit over the canceled screening of a creationist film took a
twist recently with the filing of a cross-complaint that charges the
plaintiff with breach of contract, violation of the covenant of good
faith and fair dealing, and fraud.

In 2009, the American Freedom Alliance, a Los Angeles-based
organization that describes itself as "a movement of concerned
Americans advancing the values and ideals of Western civilization,"
arranged to screen Darwin's Dilemma -- characterized by the Los
Angeles Times (December 29, 2009) as "a feature-length documentary
that criticizes Darwin and promotes intelligent design" -- at the
California Science Center. Helping to promote the event was the
Discovery Institute, which issued a press release touting the
screening. However, the terms of the rental contract provide that all
promotional materials for events at the CSC have to be submitted for
approval before they are disseminated; the screening was accordingly
canceled. The AFA filed suit, arguing that it is unfair to hold it
responsible for the actions of a third party, contending that the
contract issue was a "false pretext" for cancellation of the
screening, and claiming that "a broad network of Darwin advocates"
conspired with the CSC to cancel the screening.

The cross-complaint was filed by the California Science Center
Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that provides support for
the CSC (itself a department of the state of California) and a
defendant in the case; the CSCF operates the Event Service Department,
through which private groups such as the AFA are able to arrange to
hold private events at the CSC. The cross-complaint charges (pp. 5-6),
"AFA and the Discovery Institute consistently communicated and
collaborated on the Event up to, and even after, its cancellation. ...
AFA was cognizant that its publicity efforts might impact[] its
alleged contractual relationship with the Foundation. ... [The
Discovery Institute's Robert Crowther] noted in his email to the AFA:
'Once we let the jinni [sic] out of the bottle it's likely all hell
will break loose.' ... And in a later email, [the AFA's] Avi Davis
admits that the Discovery Institute warned AFA that a cancellation
might happen due to the Discovery Institute's publicity" (emphasis and
"[sic]" in the original).

The CSCF's cross-complaint listed three causes of action. First, that
the AFA "materially breached the alleged contract" (p. 7) by issuing
publicity, both in coordination with the Discovery Institute and on
its own, about the screening without seeking the approval of the CSCF,
as required by the contract. Second, that the AFA's conduct in doing
so violated "the covenant of good faith and fair dealing" (p. 7) even
if it was not a material violation of the contract. Third, that
because "AFA entered into the alleged agreement with the Foundation
and agreed to seek pre-approval of any publicity materials, all the
while coordinating with the Discovery Institute to promote the Event
and never intending on planning to obtain such pre-approval and
fulfill its obligations of the alleged contract" (p. 10), the AFA
committed actual fraud. The CSCF is asking the court for compensatory
and punitive damages. A jury trial is currently scheduled to begin on
June 13, 2011.

Important documents from the case, American Freedom Alliance v.
California Science Center, California Science Center Foundation,
Jeffrey Rudolph, et al., are available on NCSE's website.

For the story in the Los Angeles Times, visit:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-science-center29-2009dec29,0,6400745.story 

For the CSCF's cross-complaint (PDF), visit:
http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1452 

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit:
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/american-freedom-alliance-v-california-science-center-et-al 

PROGRESS IN LOUISIANA?

New high school biology textbooks were recommended for approval in
Louisiana, reports the Associated Press (November 12, 2010), despite
the ongoing complaints of creationists objecting to their treatment of
evolution. As NCSE previously reported, a decision on the textbooks,
expected initially in October 2010, was deferred by the state Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education, which sought a recommendation from
its Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council. On November 12, 2010, the
council voted 8-4 to recommend the textbooks; the board is expected to
issue its final decision during its December 7-9, 2010, meeting.

Before the council's meeting, in a November 12, 2010, editorial, the
Baton Rouge Advocate called on the council not to compromise the
treatment of evolution in the textbooks. "The committee members have a
duty to reject intrusion of pseudo-science, such as creationism or its
offshoot 'intelligent design,' into science classrooms," the editorial
argued. "It's one thing to be different culturally, as Louisiana is in
so many ways. But the facts of science and biology do not change. For
Louisiana to be different in the direction of ignorance would be a
humiliation in the eyes of the nation and the world."

According to the Associated Press, "Most of those who testified before
the council supported the books and objected to any inclusion of
disclaimers about the theory of evolution or of provisions about
intelligent design, which has been barred by federal courts from being
taught as an alternative to evolution." Kevin Carman, the dean of the
Louisiana State University's College of Science, said that
"intelligent design" "simply is not science," adding, "We need our
textbooks to be focused on what is scientifically accurate and not
religion." High school senior Zachary Kopplin warned of the threat to
Louisiana's national reputation.

Commenting on the council's vote, Barbara Forrest, a professor of
philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and cofounder of the
Louisiana Coalition for Science, wrote, "Past experience -- which has
been utterly and entirely consistent since the introduction and
passage of the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) in 2008 --
suggested that this meeting would be just another railroad job." Two
of the members of the council, after all, were Senator Ben W. Nevers
(D-District 12) and Representative Frank A. Hoffman (R-District 15) --
the chief sponsors of the LSEA in the Louisiana Senate and House of
Representatives in 2008.

Both Nevers and Hoffman voted against recommending the textbooks, with
Nevers reportedly expressing concern about the cost of the textbooks
and the length of the seven-year contract with the textbook companies
-- concerns that were not apparently expressed for any textbooks under
consideration by the state except for the high school biology
textbooks. Nevertheless, Forrest's expectations were happily
confounded: she began her report by quipping, "something happened
today in Louisiana that is about as common here as snowflakes at
Christmas: the voice of reason prevailed at a meeting of public
officials."

For the Associated Press story (via the New Orleans Times-Picayune), visit:
http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2010/11/new_high_school_biology_books.html 

For the Baton Rouge Advocate's editorial, visit:
http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/107375348.html 

For Forrest's report at the Louisiana Coalition for Science, visit:
http://lasciencecoalition.org/2010/11/13/hell-froze-over-in-louisiana/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/louisiana 

NCSE ON FACEBOOK: N > 10,000

A milestone: there are now over 10,000 fans of NCSE's Facebook page.
Why not join them, by visiting the page and becoming a fan by clicking
on the "Like" box by NCSE's name? You'll receive the latest NCSE news
delivered straight to your Facebook Home page, as well as updates on
new evolution-related scientific discoveries. Or if you prefer your
news in 140-character chunks, follow NCSE on Twitter. And while you're
surfing the web, why not visit NCSE's YouTube channel, one of the
sixty most popular non-profit YouTube channels? It's the best place on
the web to view talks by NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott!

For NCSE's Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel, visit:
http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse 
http://twitter.com/ncse 
http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd 

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
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

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