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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/10/17

[by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch]

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Antievolutionists have been appointed to a committee to review the draft
set of Texas state science standards.  More welcome is the news that Randy
Moore received the 2008 Evolution Education Award from the NABT and Eugenie
C. Scott received the Field Museum's Award of Merit.

ANTIEVOLUTIONISTS ASKED TO REVIEW DRAFT STANDARDS IN TEXAS

Three antievolutionists have been appointed to a six-member committee to
review the draft set of Texas state science standards, and defenders of the
integrity of science education in the Lone Star state are livid.  "The
committee was chosen by 12 of the 15 members of the board of education,
with each panel member receiving the support of two board members," as the
Dallas Morning News (October 16, 2008) explains.  Six members of the board
"aligned with social conservative groups" chose Stephen C. Meyer, the
director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Ralph
Seelke, a biology professor at the University of Wiconsin, Superior, and
Charles Garner, a chemistry professor at Baylor University.

Meyer, Seelke, and Garner are all signatories of the Discovery
Institute-sponsored "Dissent from Darwinism" statement.  Meyer and Seelke
are also coauthors of Explore Evolution:  The Arguments For and Against
Neo-Darwinism (Hill House, 2008), which, like Of Pandas and People, is a
supplementary textbook that is intended to instill scientifically
unwarranted doubts about evolution.  A recent review by biologist John
Timmer summarized, "But the book doesn't only promote stupidity, it demands
it.  In every way except its use of the actual term, this is a creationist
book."  Garner reportedly told the Houston Press (December 14, 2000) that
he "criticizes evolutionary theory in class."

Meyer and Seelke also testified in the 2005 "kangaroo court" hearings held
by three antievolutionist members of the Kansas state board of education,
in which a parade of antievolutionist witnesses expressed their support for
the so-called minority report version of the state science standards
(written with the aid of a local "intelligent design" organization),
complained of repression by a dogmatic evolutionary establishment, and
claimed to have detected atheism lurking "between the lines" of the
standards.  A version of the minority report was adopted in 2005, despite
criticism from the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers
Association, but the balance of power on the board changed, and supporters
of the integrity of science education quickly restored a proper treatment
of evolution to the standards.

Referring to the appointment of Meyer, Seelker, and Garner, Dan Quinn of
the Texas Freedom Network told the Austin American-Stateman (October 16,
2008), "I think these state board members have really lifted the veil on
what their real agenda is here ... It's clear they picked a few experts and
a few people with a clear conflict of interest and a political
agenda."  Similarly, in a press release issued on October 15, 2008, Texas
Citizens for Science's Steven Schafersman lamented, "It is unfortunate that
some SBOE members have such a poor regard for the education of Texas
science students that they must resort to pushing their own
anti-evolutionist and Creationist religious ideologies into the science
standards revision process."

The three remaining members of the committee -- "veteran science professors
from major Texas universities," as the Morning News observed -- are David
Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas, Austin, Gerald
Skoog, a professor of education at Texas Tech University, and Ronald
Wetherington, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist
University.  The American-Statesman noted, "a seventh panel member could be
nominated.  The panel is expected to send recommendations on the proposal
back to the board in the coming months," with a public hearing following in
November 2008 and a final decision on the standards scheduled for March 2009.

For the story in the Dallas Morning News, visit:
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/101608dntexevolutionists.4a8e2cf.html

For information about the "Dissent from Darwinism" statement, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/7306_pr87_11292001__doubting_dar_11_29_2001.asp

For information about Of Pandas and People, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=21

For John Timmer's review of Explore Evolution, visit:
http://arstechnica.com/reviews/other/discovery-textbook-review.ars

For the testimony from the "kangaroo court" hearings, visit:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo.html

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kansas, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=KS

For the Austin American-Stateman story, visit:
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/10/16/1016science.html

For the Texas Citizens for Science press release, visit:
http://www.texscience.org/releases/creationists-science-review-panel.htm

For the pro-science organizations in Texas, visit:
http://www.tfn.org
http://www.texscience.org
http://www.texasscientists.org/

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=TX

MOORE WINS EVOLUTION EDUCATION AWARD

Randy Moore is the winner of the 2008 Evolution Education Award from the
National Association of Biology Teachers, according to a press release
issued on October 14, 2008, by the American Institute of Biological
Sciences.  The award, sponsored by AIBS and the Biological Sciences
Curriculum Study, recognizes innovative classroom teaching and community
education efforts to promote the accurate understanding of biological
evolution.

"This is a great honor, especially considering the roles AIBS and BSCS have
played in defending the teaching of evolution," Moore was quoted as
saying.  He added, "Evolution is a unifying theme in biology; teaching it
as such is the best way to show students what biology is about and how they
can use evolution as a tool to understand our world.  [Evolution] is as
important an idea as there is in science -- it is a great gift to give to
students."

Moore will receive the award, which includes a plaque and a prize of $1000,
at the NABT national conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 2008.  A
long-time member of NCSE who received its Friend of Darwin award in 2004,
Moore is Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota, Twin
Cities.  His latest book, coauthored with Mark Decker, is More than Darwin:
An Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the Evolution-Creationism
Controversy (Greenwood Press, 2008).

For the AIBS press release, visit:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/aiob-ber100708.php

To buy More than Darwin from Amazon.com (and benefit NCSE), visit:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0313341559/nationalcenter02

NCSE'S SCOTT RECEIVES AWARD FROM THE FIELD MUSEUM

On October 10, 2008, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was
presented with the Field Museum's Award of Merit at a ceremony at the
museum, where she gave a talk, attended a gala dinner, and received a $7500
honorarium for NCSE.  The award is presented by the Field Museum's
Founders' Council each year to "a leading scientist who has brought issues
of cultural and environmental understanding to the forefront of public
attention."  Previous recipients include NCSE Supporter Stephen Jay Gould,
Edward O. Wilson, James Watson, Richard E. Leakey, Jane Goodall, NCSE
Supporter Lynn Margulis, Walter Alvarez, and NCSE Supporter Niles Eldredge.

For information about the Field Museum, visit:
http://www.fieldmuseum.org/

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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:

http://www.ncseweb.org

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
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

Not in Our Classrooms:  Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism
http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

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