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NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2012/04/27

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Michael E. Mann receives the Oeschger Medal from the EGU and NCSE's
Scott receives the Lasker Award from the AAPA. And the repeal effort
fails in Louisiana by a close margin.

MANN HONORED BY EGU

NCSE is delighted to congratulate Michael E. Mann on receiving the
European Geoscience Union's Hans Oeschger Medal for 2012, in honor of
"his significant contributions to understanding decadal-centennial
scale climate change over the last two millennia and for pioneering
techniques to synthesize patterns and northern hemispheric time series
of past climate using proxy data reconstructions." The citation
explains, "Mann deserves the award on the basis of his important
contributions to the understanding of climate change over the last two
millennia but also for pioneering statistical techniques for isolating
climate signals in noisy data," adding, "Mann?s climate reconstruction
of the last 1000 years is popularly known as the 'Hockey Stick' and
gave tremendous impetus to the study of historical climate change,
even though some questions remains about the magnitude of these past
changes. By doing so, he had to face escalating political and personal
attacks. ... Mann exemplifies the courage that Oeschger hoped
scientists should have, another reason for him to deserve the Oeschger
Medal." A member of NCSE, Mann is Professor of Meteorology at the
Pennsylvania State University and the author of The Hockey Stick and
the Climate Wars (Columbia University Press, 2012).

For information about the medal from the EGU, visit:
http://www.egu.eu/awards-medals/award/hans-oeschger/2012/michael-mann.html 

For information about The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, visit:
http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15254-9/the-hockey-stick-and-the-climate-wars 

NCSE'S SCOTT HONORED BY AAPA

NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was presented with the
Gabriel W. Lasker Service Award by the American Association of
Physical Anthropologists at the organization's 81st annual meeting,
held April 11 through April 14, 2012, in Portland, Oregon. The award,
named after the late Gabriel W. Lasker, was established in 2005 to
recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated a history of
excellence in service to the American Association of Physical
Anthropologists, its members, and/or the field of physical
anthropology.

Scott served the AAPA in a number of capacities, including as its
president from 2001 to 2003. But NCSE's Eric Meikle, speaking at the
presentation ceremony, observed that her "greatest significance for
physical anthropology, and all of evolutionary biology, has been her
role as executive director of the National Center for Science
Education since 1986. Over the last quarter of a century, she has
become the leading national figure defending the teaching of evolution
in public schools and opposing attempts to insert any form of
creationism into science classes."

"It is no coincidence that so many of NCSE's strongest supporters have
been physical anthropologists," Meikle continued. "After all, it is
the horror and revulsion provoked by the specter of human evolution
which is at the root of all religiously-based opposition to evolution
generally. Physical anthropologists are in the front lines of this
struggle and are generally more conscious of its serious nature than
many other biological scientists." He concluded, "Genie has made
dealing with this opposition her day job so that you don't have to.
This is our thanks to her."

For the AAPA's website, visit:
http://physanth.org/ 

REPEAL EFFORT FAILS IN LOUISIANA

Louisiana's Senate Bill 374 was rejected on a 2-1 vote in the Senate
Committee on Education on April 19, 2012, according to the Alexandria
Town Talk (April 19, 2012). Three senators were absent and the chair
abstained. The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District
5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1,
which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act,
passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for
scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science
to be taught in the state's public schools.

The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education
administrators to help to promote "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"; these four topics were
described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation.
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.

Since 2008, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the
law's provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary
materials, but have also reportedly invoked the law to support
proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes -- Livingston
and Tangipahoa -- and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology
textbooks proposed for adoption by the state. Meanwhile, the Society
of Vertebrate Paleontology urged Louisianans to repeal the law in
2008, and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology decided
to hold its conferences elsewhere while the law remains on the books.

At the hearing, Zack Kopplin, a first-year student at Rice University
who launched the repeal effort while a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet
High School, told the committee that the law was hurting Louisiana's
reputation. Kevin Carman, the dean of Louisiana State University's
Department of Science, confirmed it, saying that two scientists he was
trying to recruit to the university cited the law as their reason not
to accept and one scientist already at LSU departed because of worries
about the quality of his children's science education. "Teaching
pseudo-science drives scientists away," Carman said.

In a press release, Kopplin expressed optimism about the future of the
repeal effort, noting that the identical Senate Bill 70, introduced by
Peterson in 2011, was tabled by the Senate Education Committee on a
5-1 vote. Kopplin also observed that the support of the scientific
community for the repeal effort continues to grow: "The repeal effort
has the unprecedented support of 78 Nobel laureate scientists -- 40%
of all living Nobel laureate scientists in physics, chemistry, or
physiology or medicine." A list of the Nobelists endorsing the effort
is available at Kopplin's repealcreationism website.

Also endorsing the repeal effort were the National Association of
Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the
Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological
Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of
Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the
American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New
Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate.

For the text of Louisiana's Senate Bill 374 (PDF), visit:
http://legis.la.gov/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=779058 

For the article in the Alexandria Town Talk, visit:
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20120420/NEWS01/204200317 

For the list of endorsers of the repeal effort, visit:
http://www.repealcreationism.com/endorsements/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/louisiana 

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 and climate education and threats to them.

-- 
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
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

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