NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/09/30
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Three exciting opportunities for teachers, a new poll on evolution and climate change, and the winners of NCSE's bumper sticker contest.
ATTENTION, TEACHERS! Three exciting opportunities for teachers for the month of October, in the form of two webcast symposia on human evolution and a chance to have a visit from the Darwin Day Roadshow! First, Bones, Stones, and Genes: The Origin of Modern Humans -- the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Holiday Lectures on Science for 2011 -- will be webcast on October 6 and 7, 2011. The lectures will address such questions as: Where and when did humans arise? What distinguishes us from other species? Did our distant ancestors look and behave like us? Featured are NCSE Supporter Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley, speaking on "Human evolution and the nature of science"; Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania speaking on "Genetics of human origins and adaptation"; John Shea of Stony Brook University speaking on "Stone tools and the evolution of human behavior"; and White again on "Hominid paleobiology." To view the webcast, register on-line with HHMI. Second, Changing Humans in a Changing Environment -- a symposium on evolution sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center at the National Association of Biology Teachers professional development conference in Anaheim -- will be webcast on October 14, 2011. Featured are Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution speaking on "Evolution in an era of dramatic climate change"; Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University speaking on "What can chimpanzees tell us about human evolution?"; Susan Antón of New York University speaking on "Becoming human in a changing world: the early evolution of Homo"; and John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, speaking on "New discoveries from ancient genomes." To view the webcast, visit NESCent's website. Third, the Darwin Day Roadshow is returning! The Roadshow is a project of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, in which NESCent staff shares their enthusiasm for evolutionary science with students, teachers, and the general public on the occasion of Charles Darwin's birthday, February 12. In 2011, the Roadshow visited nineteen schools across the country. As NESCent's Craig McClain wrote at Miller-McCune (May 15, 2011), "for all of us the Darwin Day Road Show was a gratifying adventure that no one will forget. From the landscapes with their silos, combines, center pivot crop circles, high school gymnasiums, to the indelible interactions we had along the way, we absorbed it all." And applications to host the Roadshow in 2012 are now being accepted -- act soon, though; the application deadline is October 31, 2011. For information on Bones, Stones, and Genes, visit: http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/ For information on Changing Humans in a Changing Environment, visit: http://www.nescent.org/media/NABTSymposium2011.php For information on the Darwin Day Roadshow, visit: http://roadshow.nescent.org/ http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/scientists-take-charles-darwin-on-the-road-31211/ A NEW POLL ON EVOLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE A new poll asked respondents about their views on evolution and climate change, what they regard the scientific consensus on those topics to be, and whether it matters to them whether candidates for president share their views. The poll was designed and conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service. On the topic of evolution, 57% of respondents said that "Humans and other living things have evolved over time" came closest to their view, while 38% preferred "Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since creation," 1% volunteered different responses, and 4% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. (In a 2009 poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 61% of respondents from the general public preferred "Humans and other living things have evolved over time." The discrepancy between the results may be due in part to a difference in the wording of the alternative: where the PRRI/RNS poll refers to "creation," the Pew Research Center poll refers to the less overtly religious "the beginning of time." ) The distribution of opinion among political positions and religious affiliations in the PRRI/RNS poll was broadly consistent with that reported in previous polls and surveys. PRRI noted, "More than 6-in-10 political independents (61%) and Democrats (64%) affirm a belief in evolution, compared to 45% of Republicans and 43% of Americans who identify with the Tea Party," adding, "Nearly two-thirds (66%) of white mainline Protestants, 61% of Catholics, and 77% of the unaffiliated believe humans and other living things evolved over time, compared to only about one-third (32%) of white evangelicals. African American Protestants are evenly divided on the question, with 47% affirming a belief in evolution and 46% affirming a belief in creationism." Among those who accepted evolution, 53% preferred "Humans and other things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection," 38% preferred "A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today," 3% volunteered different responses, and 6% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Of those who rejected evolution, 50% agreed with "humans and other living things were created within the last 10,000 years," 39% disagreed, and 12% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. PRRI noted, "White evangelical Protestants (33%) and Americans who identify with the Tea Party (31%) were significantly more likely" to agree with the 10,000-year option. On climate change, 69% of respondents said that they believe that "there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades," with 26% saying that they did not believe it, 2% volunteering that there is some or mixed evidence, and 3% saying that they didn't know or refusing to answer the question. Among those who believed that there is evidence (whether solid or mixed), 64% said that "[c]limate change is caused mostly by human activity such as burning fossil fuels" came closest to their view, while 32% preferred "[c]limate change is caused mostly by natural patterns in the earth's environment" instead, and 4% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Asked "do scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time, are scientists divided, or do scientists generally disagree that humans evolved over time," 51% of respondents said that scientists agree, 26% said that scientists were divided, 15% said that scientists disagreed, and 9% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Similarly, asked "do scientists generally agree that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity, are scientists divided, or do scientists generally disagree that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity," 40% of respondents said that scientists agree, 37% said that scientists were divided, 15% said that scientists disagreed, and 8% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Asked whether, and if so how, a presidential candidate's rejection of evolution would affect the likelihood that they would vote for him or her, 13% of respondents said that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who "[d]oes not believe in evolution," 32% said that they would be less likely, 53% said that it would not make a difference, and 2% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Similarly, 9% of respondents said that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who "[d]oes not believe climate change is caused by human activity," 36% said that they would be less likely, 54% said that it would not make a difference, and 2% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. According to PRRI, ?Results of the survey were based on bilingual (Spanish and English) random digit dial telephone interviews conducted between September 14, 2011 and September 18, 2011, by professional interviewers ? The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.0 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence." For the PRRI/RNS poll (PDF), visit: http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/September-PRRI-RNS-Topline-Results-Questionnaire-and-Survey-Methodology-.pdf For the Pew Research Center poll (PDF), visit: http://people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/528.pdf For a press release about the PRRI/RNS poll, visit: http://publicreligion.org/newsroom/2011/09/news-release-climate-change-evolution-2012/ THE WINNERS OF NCSE'S BUMPER STICKER CONTEST We asked you to submit your ideas for a new NCSE bumper sticker, to speak loud, speak proud, for evolution -- and by golly you did. NCSE headquarters was flooded with almost 550 entries from almost 150 people, including sixty entries from a single indefatigable sloganeer. After days of statistical analysis and rigorous peer-review, we are pleased to congratulate the winners -- David Cone, Tom Griffiths, Michael Keller, Tania Lombrozo, Jerry Newton, Bill Pogson, S. Michael Smith, Drew Weller, and a few who preferred not to be identified -- who received such fabulous prizes as a Charles Darwin bobblehead from Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Zoology, a DVD of Greta Schiller's documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven, and NCSE's famous "my ancestors" t-shirt, suitable for all occasions. Thanks to all who participated in the contest. And where are the slogans? For that, you'll have to wait for the new stickers to be designed and advertised! So keep your eyes on http://ncse.com. For information on the fabulous prizes, visit: http://www.zoology.siu.edu/darwinbobblehead.html http://www.nodinos.com/ http://ncse.com/ncsestore 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