NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/11/26
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A powerful op-ed on the importance of evolution in biological and biomedical education. A plethora of new videos on NCSE's YouTube channel, and a chance for Working Assets/Credo Mobile customers to support NCSE. And calls for Louisiana to approve biology textbooks despite the objections of creationists.
"BIOLOGY SIMPLY MEANS EVOLUTION" A recent op-ed in The Scientist insists on the importance of evolution in biological and biomedical education. In his essay, published in the November 2010 issue of the magazine, Leonid Moroz observes, "[e]volutionary principles integrate all the concepts underlying cell biology, genomics, and medicine." Thus, he writes, "[e]volutionary theory, speciation, principles of biological classification, and biodiversity must be part of the required curricula not only for biologists but for medical students as well." The op-ed concludes, "As Peter Medawar eloquently put it, 'The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.' The sooner evolution and biodiversity are inherent and required parts of every biomedical student’s curriculum, the greater progress we can expect from a new generation of scientists in the clinic and the laboratory. Whether we like it or not, biology simply means evolution." Moroz is a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville and the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. For Moroz's column, visit: http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/11/1/36/1/ THE LATEST ON NCSE'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL NCSE is pleased to announce the addition of a further batch of videos featuring NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott to NCSE's YouTube channel. From 2010, there's "Why the Fuss about Darwin and Evolution?" and "Creationism, Evolution, Law, Education, and Politics". From 2006, there's "Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction," delivered at the Loomis Chaffee School. And from 2010, there's "Is There a Need for a Climate NCSE?" -- a short interview of Scott by Flock of Dodos's Randy Olson. There are also videos of three panel discussions in which Scott participated: "McLean v. Arkansas 20 Years Later" (in four parts); a 2001 panel with Francisco Ayala, Stephen Jay Gould, Harold Morowitz, Ronald L. Numbers, and Scott; "The Vigil after Dover" (in three parts), a 2006 panel with John F. Haught, Robert T. Pennock, Michael Ruse, Scott, Joseph Travis, and Steven Gey; and Scott's presentation to "Science and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation?" -- a 2010 panel at the Council for Secular Humanism conference. That's not all. Barbara Forrest, a member of NCSE's board of directors, speaks on "Back to the Future: The Louisiana Science Education Act" from 2010 and on "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse" from 2007. There's also footage of NCSE's booth at the Science Expo of the USA Science & Engineering Festival on the National Mall in Washington DC from 2010 -- watch NCSE's Robert Luhn, Steven Newton, and Joshua Rosenau helping attendees to navigate the tree of life and to explore the concept of common ancestry! Additionally, there are three blasts from the past: "The Case of the Texas Footprints," with John R. Cole, Laurie Godfrey, Ronnie Hastings, Lee Mansfield, and Steven Schafersman, from 1983; "Dos and Dont's Debating Creationists" (in four parts), with Fred Edwords, Jack Friedman, Ronnie Hastings, Frank Lovell, Kenneth R. Miller, Wayne Moyer, Scott, and Michael Zimmerman, from 1988; and a presentation for children on "Genes Genes Genes!" with Alan Spector and Judith Spector, featuring an interview with Scott, from 1997. Tune in and enjoy! For NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd NCSE AND WORKING ASSETS/CREDO MOBILE There's still time to vote for NCSE, if you're a Working Assets/Credo Mobile customer. NCSE is slated to be a 2010 beneficiary of Working Assets/Credo Mobile, the telephone company established "to give people an easy way to make a difference in the world, just by doing the things they do every day. Each time our members use one of our services -- CREDO Mobile, CREDO Long Distance and the Working Assets credit card -- we automatically send a donation to nonprofit groups working for peace, human rights and the environment." Every year, the donation pool is allocated among the groups supported by Working Assets in proportion to the customers' votes. The more votes NCSE gets, the more money we get! If you're already a Working Assets/Credo Mobile customer, you can still vote on-line in the 2010 distribution. NCSE is currently receiving 1.3% of the pool -- please help to increase that percentage! For the ballot, visit: http://www.workingassets.com/Voting/Default.aspx For information on Working Assets/Credo Mobile, visit: http://act.credoaction.com/voting/login.html CALLS TO ADOPT BIOLOGY TEXTBOOKS IN LOUISIANA In the wake of a recommendation to approve new high school biology textbooks despite the ongoing complaints about their presentation of evolution, columnists and editorialists in Louisiana are both rejoicing and calling on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to heed the recommendation. As NCSE previously reported, the board's Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council voted 8-4 to recommend the textbooks on November 12, 2010; the board is expected to make its decision on the textbooks during its December 7-9, 2010, meeting. Writing in the New Orleans Times-Picayune (November 17, 2010), columnist James Gill commented, "It no longer makes sense to suggest the creationists are making a laughing stock out of Louisiana. ... the crusade against science and reason suffered a rare defeat. Biology textbooks in public schools will not be required to serve up evolution with a dollop of religion." He added, "This is a historic moment. When the loonies on a state committee are outnumbered two to one, the future has never looked so bright." Gill warned, however, that "[t]he final decision rests with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, where the Louisiana Family Forum and other creationist stalwarts have always found a sympathetic ear," recalling the incident in 2009 when BESE overruled the recommendation of the state's department of education and in effect allowed the LFF to dictate the procedures concerning complaints about creationist supplementary materials used in public school science classes under the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act. In its November 18, 2010, editorial, the Baton Rouge Advocate strongly criticized the Louisiana Science Education Act, which was invoked by critics of the textbooks. "What is the spirit of the 'Science Education Act' in reality?" the editorial asked rhetorically. "It is to challenge evolution, not simply protect intellectual freedom of teachers who want to 'question' evolution's 'weaknesses.' Forgive the overuse of quotation marks, but every assertion of creationists in this debate is so fraudulent that the quote marks are necessary." The editorial continued, "Any reputable science text should teach evolution, as that is one of the fundamentals of biological science. The fraud behind the 'Science Education Act' is that it was called a measure narrowly designed to deal with a specific problem. Rather, it is part of an anti-intellectual crusade that can serve only to hobble the education of Louisiana's children, and will have the effect of bringing ridicule on this state," and concluded by calling upon BESE to stand firm "against this campaign of ignorance." For Gill's column, visit: http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2010/11/science_rules_textbook_decisio.html For the Advocate's editorial, visit: http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/109093689.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana 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