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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

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 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

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: 

For Forrest's op-ed, visit: 


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: 

For further information on the survey, visit: 


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: 

For Voices for Evolution, visit: 


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

For the preview (PDF), visit: 

For information on The Darwinian Tourist, visit: 


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: 

For NCSE's report on the story in The New York Times, visit: 

For NCSE's YouTube site, 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 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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