NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/12/31
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE,
The latest twist for the proposal to build a creationist theme park.
Plus a free preview of Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth and
honors from Science for the Understanding Evolution website.
INROADS FOR THE ARK PARK?
The developers proposing to build a creationist theme park in northern
Kentucky are now asking the state to improve a highway interchange to
accommodate the park's expected visitors, according to the Louisville
Courier-Journal (December 23, 2010). A spokesperson for the state
Transportation Cabinet commented, "At this point, no commitments have
been made." Although it is not yet known how much the proposed
improvements would cost, the spokesperson noted that the state spent
$45 million on road improvements to accommodate traffic at the
Kentucky Speedway in northern Kentucky, which opened in 2000.
The news prompted a further editorial from the Louisville
Courier-Journal (December 29, 2010), which previously (in, for
example, its December 2, 2010, editorial) expressed serious concern
about the state's entanglement with the park. The new editorial
complained, "Ark Encounter, the creationism theme park proposed for
Northern Kentucky, looms as a more expensive proposition than state
officials first suggested," citing both the request to the
Transportation Cabinet and the prospect that "sooner or later someone
is likely to want help building hotels, restaurants and service
stations for park visitors."
The editorial also alluded to two ongoing controversies involving the
park. First, the developers have applied for development incentives
that would allow Ark Encounter to recoup 25 percent of its development
costs by retaining the sales tax generated by the project. The
estimated budget is 150 million dollars, so the incentives would
amount to 37.5 million dollars over ten years. "[Governor] Beshear
argued that the state would not be out any money if the park failed,"
the editorial reported, adding parenthetically, "Actually, the state
would be out taxes the park could collect before it went under, but
Second, there is the question whether the park would be able to
discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring if it receives the
state incentives. Answers in Genesis already requires its employees to
endorse its statement of faith. Governor Beshear told the Louisville
Courier-Journal (December 9, 2010), "We’re going to require that
anybody that we deal with is going to obey all of the laws on hiring
and not discriminate on hiring." The editorial commented, "In other
words, if a gay Muslim with an advanced degree in evolutionary biology
wants a top job at the park, he'll be welcomed by the creationists
with open arms. Right?"
For the 12/23/2010 story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit:
For the 12/29/2010 editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit:
And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kentucky, visit:
EVOLUTION: THE STORY OF LIFE ON EARTH
NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Evolution: The Story of
Life on Earth (Hill and Wang, 2011), a graphic introduction to
evolution written by Jay Hosler and illustrated by Kevin Cannon and
Zander Cannon. In the book, the intrepid scientist Bloort 183 is
explaining the evolution of life on a strange alien planet -- the
earth -- to King Floorsh 727 and his heir Prince Floorsh 418, and in
the excerpt, they explore the topic of extinction. "Extinction,"
Bloort 183 explains, "is when a species completely dies out, and I'm
afraid it is very much a fact of life. And death. Literally. ... Mass
extinctions involve the deaths of enormous numbers of species all over
the planet." The treatment is humorous rather than somber, however:
facing the end-Permian extinction, one trilobite protests, "Stop the
world, I'm getting off," while its companion wonders, "Can we do
that?" Hosler is the entomologist-cum-cartoonist who wrote and
illustrated The Sandwalk Adventures (Active Synapse, 2003); Kevin
Cannon and Zander Cannon illustrated Mark Schultz's The Stuff of Life
(Hill and Wang, 2009), in which Bloort 183 explained genetics.
Publishers Weekly's reviewer writes, "readers should find at the end
of their journey through Bloort's Holographic Museum that they've
learned a tremendous amount about earth's evolution, and have had more
than their fair share of amusement in doing so."
For the preview (PDF), visit:
For information about the book, visit:
CONGRATULATIONS TO UNDERSTANDING EVOLUTION!
NCSE is delighted to congratulate the Understanding Evolution website,
which, with its companion website Understanding Science, received a
Science Prize for Online Resources in Education award for 2010. Twelve
SPORE prizes are awarded annually "to encourage innovation and
excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of
high-quality on-line resources by students, teachers, and the public."
Understanding Evolution, a collaborative project of the University of
California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science
Education that provides information about evolution, launched in 2004.
Originally aimed primarily at teachers, in 2005 it was broadened to
appeal to the general public as well. Understanding Science, a project
of the UCMP that provides information about the nature of science,
launched in 2009.
In their essay "Science 101: Building the Foundations for Real
Understanding," published in the December 24, 2010, issue of Science,
Anastasia Thanukos, Judith G. Scotchmoor, Roy Caldwell, and David R.
Lindberg describe the motivations, development, and successes of the
two websites. Understanding Evolution, they report, "now averages more
than a million page accesses per month during the academic year."
For information about the SPORE prizes, visit:
For Thanukos, Scotchmoor, Caldwell, and Lindberg's essay, visit:
For Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science, visit:
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.
With best wishes for the new year,
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
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