NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/05/06
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Support for the effort to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law is mounting. Plus: new poll data from Britain; the NAGT adds its voice for evolution; and a preview of The Darwinian Tourist. And seats are still available for NCSE's next trip down the Grand Canyon!
SUPPORT FOR LOUISIANA REPEAL EFFORT Support for the effort to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law is mounting. The American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Society for the Study of Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists have all endorsed Louisiana's Senate Bill 70, which if enacted would repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17.285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008. All of these statements are posted at the Louisiana Coalition for Science's website. Additionally, the Repeal Creationism website -- run by Zack Kopplin, the Baton Rouge high school student who is spearheading the repeal effort -- now lists the endorsement of a number of prominent scientists and educators: Francisco Ayala, Niles Eldredge, Susan Epperson (the plaintiff in the 1968 Supreme Court case Epperson v. Arkansas, which established the unconstitutionality of bans on teaching evolution), Paul R. Gross, Lawrence S. Lerner, Kenneth R. Miller, Neil Shubin, John Sulston (the forty-third Nobel laureate to support the repeal effort), and Tim White. Also endorsing the repeal effort is the Clergy Letter Project, representing more than 14,000 religious leaders who acknowledge the scientific importance of evolution. As Barbara Forrest -- a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, a cofounder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, and a member of NCSE's board of directors -- wrote in her op-ed for Houma Today (April 26, 2011), "There are compelling reasons for repeal. First, the LSEA permits public school science teachers to use creationist materials under the guide of 'critical thinking.' ... Second, neither science teachers nor scientists requested this law. ... Third, Louisiana lost a national convention because of the LSEA. ... Other organizations may do the same. ... Fourth, ... school board members have discussed using the LSEA to teach creationism. ... School boards are being tempted to risk lawsuits when teachers face layoffs because of budget cuts!" For the statements of support, visit: http://lasciencecoalition.org/2011/05/04/letters-and-statements-of-support-repeal-la-sci-ed-act/ http://www.repealcreationism.com/ For Forrest's op-ed, visit: http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20110426/LETTERS/110429670/1031/opinion POLLING EVOLUTION IN BRITAIN Two questions in Public Attitudes to Science 2011, a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI in association with the British Science Association for the United Kingdom's Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, are relevant to the creationism/evolution controversy. The topline report details that, presented with "Human beings have evolved from other animals," 67% of respondents agreed and 17% disagreed, with 12% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 3% saying that they didn't know; presented with "God created the earth and all life in it," 39% of respondents agreed and 37% disagreed, with 21% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 3% saying that they didn't know. The survey was conducted among 2103 British adults aged 16 or older, in face-to-face in-home interviews from October 11 to December 19, 2010; the data were weighted to reflect the population profile of the United Kingdom. For the topline report from Ipsos MORI, visit: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/ipsos-mori-pas-2011-topline.pdf For further information on the survey, visit: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2764/Public-Attitudes-to-Science-2011.aspx GEOSCIENCE TEACHERS ADD THEIR VOICE FOR EVOLUTION The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with a statement from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, issued in 2006. In its statement, the NAGT recognizes that "the scientific theory of evolution is a foundational concept of science, and therefore must also be a cornerstone of science education," observes that "[s]cientists often disagree about explanations of how evolution works, the importance of specific evolutionary processes, or the patterns that are observed, but all agree that evolution has occurred and is occurring now," and insists that "invoking non-naturalistic or supernatural events or beings, often guised as 'creation science,' 'scientific creationism,' or 'intelligent design theory,' are not scientific in character, do not conform to the scientific usage of the word theory, and should not be part of valid science curricula." The NAGT's statement is now reproduced, by permission, on NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution. For the NAGT's statement, visit: http://nagt.org/nagt/policy/ps-evolution.html For Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices A PREVIEW OF THE DARWINIAN TOURIST NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Christopher Wills's The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes (Oxford University Press, 2010). The excerpt, chapter 1, takes a dive in Indonesia's Lembeh Strait as the chance to introduce the concept of common descent. Wills writes, "Surely no two organisms could be more dissimilar than the ingenious and graceful water-breathing cuttlefish and its clumsy air-gulping human observer. But in fact, even though present-day cuttlefish are expert shape-shifters and we are not, we had a common ancestor. And, at the time of that common ancestor, a far more astonishing shape-shift took place, one that had enormous evolutionary consequences." The publisher writes, "In The Darwinian Tourist, biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures -- exciting in their own right -- that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in. ... With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. ... The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world's astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present-day." For the preview (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/Excerpt--Darwinian.pdf For information on The Darwinian Tourist, visit: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/LifeSciences/EvolutionaryBiology/?view=usa&ci=9780199584383 NCSE AND THE GRAND CANYON 2011 Explore the Grand Canyon with Scott, Newton, and Gish! Seats are still available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured in The New York Times (October 6, 2005). From June 30 to July 8, 2011, NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott, NCSE's Steven Newton, and paleontologist Alan ("Gish") Gishlick. Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of the Grand Canyon (maybe not entirely seriously) and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the short videos filmed during the 2009 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube site. The cost of the excursion is $2545; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot. Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now. For information about the trip, visit: http://ncse.com/about/excursions/gcfaq For NCSE's report on the story in The New York Times, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2005/10/seeing-creation-evolution-grand-canyon-00771 For NCSE's YouTube site, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/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 x305 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.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