NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/06/10
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, The creationist propaganda movie Expelled is on the auction block. The Christian Science Monitor discusses the attempt to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law. And NCSE offers a preview of Darwin's Lost World.
EXPELLED ON THE BLOCK? Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed -- the 2008 creationist propaganda movie fronted by Ben Stein -- is scheduled to be auctioned, lock, stock, and barrel, pursuant to the bankruptcy proceeding of Premise Media Holdings LP. According to a document filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, on May 31, 2011, the trustee of the bankruptcy estate is seeking to auction "[t]hat certain feature-length motion picture ('Picture') 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' and all collateral, allied, ancillary, subsidiary and merchandising rights therein and thereto, and all properties and things of value pertaining thereto." The auction is scheduled to take place on-line from June 23 to June 28, 2011. The high bidder will become the owner of the movie that The New York Times (2008 Apr 18) described as "[o]ne of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time ... a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry ... an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike" and that was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its "profound dishonesty" and condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for its "outrageous" misuse of the Holocaust to "tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution." (NCSE's Expelled Exposed provides a collection of reviews, commentary, and resources documenting the extensive problems with Expelled.) Caveat emptor! For the document from the bankruptcy court (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/webfm_send/1608 For the review in The New York Times, visit: http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/movies/18expe.html For the statements from the AAAS and the ADL, visit: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2008/0418expelled.shtml http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm And for Expelled Exposed, visit: http://www.expelledexposed.com/ IN THE WAKE OF THE REPEAL EFFORT The attempt to repeal Louisiana's antievolution law was discussed by the Christian Science Monitor (June 2, 2011), which explained, "The Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows teaching contrary to science on the grounds it promotes critical thinking, is increasingly serving as an inspiration to religious conservatives in other states." Antievolution bills were introduced in Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas so far in 2011, all dying except in Tennessee, where a bill was passed by the House of Representatives; its counterpart is on hold in the Senate until 2012. Meanwhile, Louisiana's Senate Bill 70, which would have repealed the state's antievolution law, was shelved on a 5-1 vote by the Senate Education Committee on May 26, 2011, despite the wide support for it from the scientific and educational communities -- including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, and forty-three Nobel laureate scientists. Harold Kroto, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, was quoted as comparing a vote against the repeal to "requiring Louisiana school texts to include the claim that the Sun goes round the Earth." Thus the law -- Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008 -- remains on the books. The bill ostensibly promotes "critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." It also allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner" if so permitted by their local school boards. Critics of the antievolution law worry that it promises to "embolden those who may feel tempted to voluntarily introduce theories that conflict with scientific teachings," the Monitor reported, quoting NCSE's Joshua Rosenau as explaining, "For a teacher who wants to teach creationism, it doesn’t stop them from doing it." While defenders of the law claimed that there is no evidence that teachers are doing so, Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Coalition for Science responded, "it might go on for years before we ever found out. It would take a very gutsy kid who was alert enough to go home and tell mom and dad." There is evidence that Louisiana's antievolution law emboldened creationists in Livingston Parish. As NCSE previously reported, in July 2010, the director of curriculum told the Livingston Parish School Board that the law allowed the presentation of creationism in science classes. The response was enthusiastic, with members of the board asking "Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" and saying, "Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get into into the classroom" and subsequently declaiming, "We don't want litigation, but why not take a stand for Jesus and risk litigation." For the story in the Christian Science Monitor, visit: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2011/0602/Teaching-creationism-Louisiana-law-that-skirts-US-ban-survives-challenge And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana A VISIT TO DARWIN'S LOST WORLD NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Martin Brasier's Darwin’s Lost World: The Hidden History of Animal Life (Oxford University Press, 2009). The preview consists of the preface -- in which Brasier explains, "Some 150 years ago, in 1859, Charles Darwin was greatly puzzled by a seeming absence of animal fossils in rocks older than the Cambrian period. He drew attention to a veritable Lost World that was later found to have spanned more than eighty per cent of Earth history. This book tells the story of his lost world, and of the quest to rescue its hidden history from the fossil record" -- as well as the first chapter, "In Search of Lost Worlds." The Quarterly Review of Biology praised Darwin's Lost World as "a scientific adventure that will entertain and inform general readers and has the potential to inspire the next generation of young researchers," and Roy E. Plotnick, reviewing the book for RNCSE, wrote, "Reading Brasier's book will introduce readers to many of the key localities and discoveries, as well as provide glimpses of many of the major investigators, of Ediacaran and early Cambrian life. ... I readily recommend this book as an entertaining introduction to a major field in studying the history of life. It will give you invaluable information for the next time you get asked to explain how evolution explains the Cambrian 'explosion'." For the preview (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/Excerpt--lostworld.pdf For information about the book from its publisher, visit: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/GeneralScience/?view=usa&ci=9780199548972 And for Plotnick's review in RNCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/30/4/review-darwins-lost-world 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/join