NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/08/24
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A pair of interviews with Eugenie C. Scott on science denial. Renewed concern about the public funding of private schools that teach creationism in Louisiana. And a glimpse of Global Weirdness.
TWO INTERVIEWS WITH EUGENIE C. SCOTT NCSE's executive director was recently interviewed twice about science denial in on-line venues. Speaking to Liza Gross for KQED's Quest series (August 21, 2012), Scott discussed the similarities between those who reject vaccines and those who reject evolution and climate change. In all of these cases of science anomalies, she explained, there is a tendency to construe anomalies as disproving accepted scientific views, motivated by religious or political ideologies or -- as with vaccination -- concern for their children. Noting that only a few are diehard science denialists, Scott commented, "I think we shouldn?t abandon the people who are in that one segment of society who are bound and determined not to accept vaccinations but we should really focus our attention more on keeping people from slipping down into that category. Certainly, that?s what we?ve done with evolution and that?s what we are likely to be doing with climate change as well." Speaking to Paul Fidalgo for the Committee for Scientific Inquiry (August 22, 2012), Scott addressed the continuities and changes in the antievolution movement. "I am not surprised we're still dealing with attacks on evolution: It is a topic that generates a great deal of emotion, and that can prevent people from listening to the scientific evidence," she commented, but added, "this is not your grandfather's creationism." Tennessee's new antiscience law, which encourages teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics such as evolution and climate change, is a case in point, she explained. The law presents these "as if they were topics that were of questionable validity in science. They may be controversial to the general public, but they certainly are not controversial among scientists." Recent video interviews of NCSE staff are available at the Recent Interviews playlist on NCSE's YouTube channel. For the KQED interview, visit: http://science.kqed.org/quest/2012/08/22/in-defense-of-science-an-interview-with-ncse%E2%80%99s-eugenie-scott/ For the CSI interview, visit: http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/eugenie_scott_on_the_stealth_of_science_denialism/ And for NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd "LOUISIANA'S LOCH NESS MYTHOLOGY" The Baton Rouge Advocate (August 16, 2012) editorially excoriated Louisiana's controversial new voucher program for its funding of schools that "not only teach creationist nonsense, but are proud of it." As NCSE previously reported, the voucher program uses public school funds to pay for tuition and certain fees at private schools for students who attend low-performing public schools and whose family income is below 250% of the federal poverty level. But as Zack Kopplin told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its July 2012 meeting, at least 19 of the 119 schools slated to benefit from the program apparently teach creationism instead of or along with evolution. As a result, as Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, and a member of NCSE's board of directors, told the Advocate, "What [students] are going to be getting financed with public money is phony science. They're going to be getting religion instead of science." Alluding to a textbook published by Accelerated Christian Education, the editorial noted, "Among the dubious assertions of creationist pseudo-science is that evolution is called into question by sightings of the Loch Ness monster, a 'dinosaur' living in the modern age -- according to those who believe in the Loch Ness myth." Quoting the state superintendent of schools, John White, as saying "If students are failing the test, we're going to intervene, and the test measures evolution," the editorial retorted, "The state has no intention, apparently, of launching any serious investigation of the Loch Ness monster in school curriculums. Instead, it will pay and pay, for years, and -- if students do poorly on science tests at some future date -- the state Department of Education might raise the question of why mythology is part of a school?s curriculum," adding, "A more-effective way would be for the department to open its eyes to this kind of educational malpractice before children?s futures are endangered." The voucher program is presently under legal challenge from the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers along with a number of local school boards. But the issue of the state's funding the teaching of creationism is not part of the challenge. Rather, as the New Orleans Times-Picayune (July 10, 2012) explained, "Two key issues are at play in the voucher suit: whether providing private schools with money from the Minimum Foundation Program violates the [Louisiana state] constitution by redirecting those funds from public schools, and whether a last-minute vote setting the new MFP formula in place received enough support in the state House to carry the force of law." For the editorial in the Baton Rouge Advocate, visit: http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/3590598-123/our-views-louisianas-loch-ness For the story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, visit: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/07/judge_denies_injunction_in_vou.html And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana A GLIMPSE OF GLOBAL WEIRDNESS NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Climate Central's Global Weirdness (Pantheon, 2012). The preview consists of the introduction to the book, which explains that it is intended "to lay out the current state of knowledge about climate change, with explanations of the underlying science given in clear and simple language," and chapter 4, "Dinosaurs Didn't Drive Gas-Guzzlers or Use Air-Conditioning," which reviews the natural influences on climate, concluding, "However, the fact that something can happen naturally doesn't mean it's always natural." Global Weirdness was written by Emily Elert and Michael D. Lemonick, but produced collectively by scientists and journalists at Climate Central, a nonprofit, nonpartisan science and journalism organization that conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the public of key findings. The reviewer for Booklist wrote, in a starred review of Global Weirdness, "Without talking down to readers, the authors do a masterful job of clarifying all aspects of a complicating and alarming topic, making it that much more difficult from global-warming denialists to keep their heads in the sand." For the preview of Global Weirdness (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/book-excerpt For information about the book from its publisher, visit: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/209517/global-weirdness-by-climate-central For information on Climate Central, visit: http://www.climatecentral.org/ 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 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