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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/09/16

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, a preview of Richard
Conniff's The Species Seekers, and a landmark for NCSE's YouTube


The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new
journal promoting the accurate understanding and comprehensive
teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now
published. The theme for the issue (volume 4, number 3) is Material
Cultural Evolution, edited by Anna Prentis. Articles include "Get Rad!
The Evolution of the Skateboard Deck"; "Patterns of Evolution in
Iranian Tribal Textiles"; "Exploring Mouse Trap History" (which will
be of particular interest to anyone familiar with the use of the mouse
trap in the "intelligent design" literature); "Convergent Evolutionary
Paths in Biological and Technological Networks"; "Natural Selection
and Material Culture"; and "History Written in Stone: Evolutionary
Analysis of Stone Tools in Archeology." Plus there are various
articles on the teaching of evolution, book reviews, and commentaries.

Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Banning Evolution,"
NCSE's Eric Meikle discusses the history of statutory bans on teaching
evolution, devoting attention to a 1929 article in Popular Science
describing how educators in Arkansas and Tennessee were planning to
cope with the ban. Despite the eventual demise of such bans, he
writes, "Unfortunately, there are still teachers who seem to have
imposed a ban on themselves: Berkman and others (2008) report that 2%
of high school biology teachers responding to their survey omit the
topic of evolution altogether, with as many as 17% omitting the topic
of human evolution altogether. ... We may not have advanced as far
from the days of banning evolution as we would like to believe."

For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: 

For Meikle's article (subscription required), visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Richard Conniff's The
Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth
(W. W. Norton, 2011). The preview consists of chapter 11 -- "'Am I Not
a Man and a Brother?'" -- in which Conniff discusses "the anxiety
inspired by simultaneously encountering other primate species and
other human races for the first time" in the age of discovery. He
explains, "people in Europe had lived largely apart from apes and
monkeys, as well as other human groups, for a period extending roughly
from the migration out of Africa 50,000 years ago and the extinction
of Neanderthals 30,000 years ago to the start of the age of discovery
not quite 700 years ago. It was long enough to develop a considerable
sense of separateness from the rest of nature, as well as a splendidly
puffed-up notion of their own special place in the world."

The publisher describes The Species Seekers as "The story of bold
adventurers who risked death to discover strange life forms in the
farthest corners of planet Earth," adding, "At the start, everyone
accepted that the Earth had been created for our benefit. We weren't
sure where vegetable ended and animal began, we couldn't classify
species, and we didn't understand the causes of disease. But all that
changed as the species seekers introduced us to the pantheon of life
on Earth -- and our place within it." And Carl Zimmer writes, "Modern
biology and medicine would not be what they are today if not for the
death-defying naturalists who set out to travel the world and find new
species. In The Species Seekers, Richard Conniff creates a marvelous
rogues' gallery of these brave, sometimes reckless heroes of taxonomy,
full of surprising tales of gorillas, platypuses, and disease-laden

For the preview of The Species Seekers, visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 


Over the Labor Day weekend, NCSE's YouTube channel achieved a
landmark: its millionth view. Debuting in February 2009, NCSE's
Youtube channel now contains over 220 videos, including presentations
by and interviews of members of NCSE's staff, testimony before the
Texas state board of education, footage from NCSE's regular trip down
the Grand Canyon, the videos specially commissioned for Expelled
Exposed, excerpts from news programs, and even the odd debate. And the
videos are clearly appreciated: "Thanks for taking the time to upload
all these fantastic videos," commented one viewer. "It renews my faith
in humanity watching the work you folks do." Over ten thousand people
currently subscribe to the channel.

Recent additions to NCSE's YouTube channel include NCSE's Steven
Newton's 2011 presentation "Teaching evolution in a climate of science
denial" (in three parts), footage from the Texas state board of
education's hearing on supplementary material for science classes
(including testimony from NCSE's Joshua Rosenau, Texas Citizens for
Science's Steven Schafersman, and the Texas Freedom Network's Kathy
Miller), NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott and Alan Gishlick discussing flood
geology in the Grand Canyon in 2011, and Eugenie C. Scott speaking on
"Creationism, Evolution, Education -- and Politics" to the Greater
Phoenix Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
in 2011. Tune in and enjoy!

For NCSE's YouTube channel, 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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