NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2008/12/12
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Judge Jones, who presided over Kitzmiller v. Dover, is interviewed in PLoS Genetics. The fourth issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach is now available. And Roger Ebert offers his opinion about Expelled.
JUDGE JONES IN PLOS GENETICS Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, was interviewed by Jane Gitschier for PLoS Genetics. After recounting his legal career and sketching the legal history of the creationism/evolution controversy, Jones talked about the trial itself. Describing the expert testimony he heard, Jones commented, "I will always remember Ken Miller's testimony in the sense that he did A-Z evolution. And then got into intelligent design. And having laid the foundation with the description of evolution, got into why intelligent design doesn't work as science, to the point where it is predominantly a religious concept." He added, "But Ken Miller went into the immune system, the blood clotting cascade, and the bacterial flagellum -- all three are held out by intelligent design proponents as irreducibly complex, and in effect, having no precursors. He [Miller] knocked that down, I thought, quite effectively -- so comprehensively and so well. By the time Miller was done testifying, over the span of a couple of days, the defendants were really already in the hole." The expert witnesses for the defense were less impressive to Jones: "Another remarkable moment on the science side was Michael Behe, who was the lead witness for the defendants, and a very amiable fellow, as was Ken Miller, but unlike Miller, in my view, Professor Behe did not distinguish himself. He did not hold up well on cross-examination." And the school board witnesses for the defense, whom Jones lambasted in his decision, he described as "dreadful witnesses ... hence the description 'breathtaking inanity' and 'mendacity.' In my view, they clearly lied under oath. They made a very poor account of themselves. They could not explain why they did what they did. They really didn't even know what intelligent design was. It was quite clear to me that they viewed intelligent design as a method to get creationism into the public school classroom. They were unfortunate and troublesome witnesses. Simply remarkable, in that sense." Noting that the plaintiffs and defendants both asked for a ruling on the question of whether "intelligent design" constitutes science, Jones said, "if you're going to measure the effect of a particular policy, in this case juxtaposing intelligent design with evolution, on the intended recipients, you have to delve into what the policy is about. What was it about? It was about intelligent design. And to try to determine the effect on the recipients you have to determine what does that concept or phrase stand for? Hence, we got into a search and examination of what exactly does ID say, what is its basis, what are its scientific bona fides or lack thereof. That opens the door for a determination of whether ID is in fact science. And that is what that part of the opinion was. ... I wrote about whether ID, as presented to me, in that courtroom from September to November of 2005, was science, and I said it was not. That it was the progeny, the successor to creationism and creation science. That it was dressed-up creationism." Looking forward, Jones expressed uncertainty about the long-term effect of the Kitzmiller decision, commenting, "This is speculation on my part -- I don't think that the concept of ID itself has a lot of vitality going forward. The Dover trial discredited that thing that is ID. To the extent that I follow it -- I'm curious about it, but it doesn't go any further than that -- the likely tack going forward is something like teach the controversy, talk about the alleged flaws and gaps in the theory of evolution and go to that place first." He noted that creationists in both Texas and Louisiana seem to be taking such a tack. And, he noted, there is no prospect of the creationism/evolution controversy subsiding any time soon: "They gave me the last word in 'Judgment Day' [a NOVA program on the trial] and I said this is not something that will be settled in my time or even in my grandchildren's lifetimes. It's an enduring, quintessentially American, dispute." For the interview, visit: http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000297 For information about Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover For the decisionin the case (PDF), visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/webfm_send/73 For NCSE's coverage of events in Texas and Louisiana, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/news/texas http://www.ncseweb.org/news/louisiana For information about Judgment Day, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/ THE FOURTH ISSUE OF EVOLUTION: EDUCATION AND OUTREACH The fourth issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new journal aspiring to promote accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now available on-line. The theme of the issue is the evolution of the eye. Featured, accordingly, are original scientific articles "A Genetic Perspective on Eye Evolution: Gene Sharing, Convergence and Parallelism," "Charting Evolutions Trajectory: Using Molluscan Eye Diversity to Understand Parallel and Convergent Evolution," "Early Evolution of the Vertebrate Eye -- Fossil Evidence," "Evolution of Insect Eyes: Tales of Ancient Heritage, Deconstruction, Reconstruction, Remodeling, and Recycling," "Exceptional Variation on a Common Theme: The Evolution of Crustacean Compound Eyes," "Opening the 'Black Box': The Genetic and Biochemical Basis of Eye Evolution," "Suboptimal Optics: Vision Problems as Scars of Evolutionary History," "The Causes and Consequences of Color Vision," "The Evolution of Complex Organs," "The Evolution of Extraordinary Eyes: The Cases of Flatfishes and Stalk-eyed Flies," and "The Origin of the Vertebrate Eye." And there are resources for teachers and reviews of books, too, including -- consistently with the issue's theme -- a discussion of teaching about evolution with the example of blind cave fish and a review of Jay Hosler's comic Optical Allusions. Also included is the fourth installment of NCSE's regular column for Evolution: Education and Outreach, Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In their article "Misconceptions About the Evolution of Complexity," Andrew J. Petto (a member of NCSE's board of directors) and NCSE's Louise S. Mead take the vertebrate eye as their example, since "the complexity of vertebrate eyes is a common antievolution argument." In the abstract, they summarize, "Despite data and theory from comparative anatomy, embryology, molecular biology, genomics, and evolutionary developmental biology, antievolutionists continue to present the eye as an example of a structure too complex to have evolved. They stress what we have yet to explain about the development and evolution of eyes and present incomplete information as evidence that evolution is a 'theory in crisis.' An examination of the evidence, however, particularly evidence that has accumulated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, refutes antievolutionists' claims. The distribution of eyes in extant organisms, combined with what we now know about the control of eye development across diverse groups of organisms, provides significant evidence for the evolution of all major components of the eye, from molecular to morphological, and provides an excellent test of predictions based on common ancestry." For the contents of the issue, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/120878/ For Petto and Mead's article, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/a7v3307m37236637/fulltext.html ROGER EBERT ON EXPELLED The popular film critic Roger Ebert reviewed the creationist propaganda movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in a December 3, 2008, post entitled "Win Ben Stein's mind" on his blog on the Chicago Sun-Times website -- and he pulled no punches. "The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics," he wrote. "This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion," he added. "And there is worse, much worse," Ebert continued, taking especial offense at Expelled's claim that the acceptance of evolution resulted in the Holocaust -- "It fills me with contempt." Previously, the Anti-Defamation League said that the movie's claim "is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry." Expelled's lead, Ben Stein, responded, "It's none of their f---ing business," according to Peter McKnight, writing in the Vancouver Sun (June 21, 2008). For a thorough critique of Expelled, including a collection of links to reviews of the movie, visit NCSE's Expelled Exposed website. Additionally, the next issue of Reports of the NCSE (volume 28, numbers 5-6) is a special issue devoted to debunking Expelled, containing reports on its reception, a summary of the ways in which organizations with a stake in the creationism/evolution controversy reacted, a summary of the various controversies over its use of copyrighted material, and a detailed explanation of its unsuitability for the classroom. For Ebert's blog post, visit: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/win_ben_steins_mind.html For the ADL's statement, visit: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm For Peter McKnight's column, visit: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=f022096b-6832-4ec1-929d-92e8bc337364 For Expelled Exposed, visit: http://www.expelledexposed.com For subscription information for Reports of the NCSE, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/membership ERRATUM Although Kevin Padian discussed evolution and religion with Alan Jones, the dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, on November 22, 2008, the link provided in the December 5, 2008, evolution education update was to a video of a previous discussion between the two, filmed on November 4, 2007. The later discussion was not filmed. For the video of Padian's talk with Jones, visit: http://fora.tv/2007/11/04/Kevin_Padian_Investigating_Evolution REMINDER If you wish to unsubscribe to these evolution education updates, please send: unsubscribe ncse-news firstname.lastname@example.org in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com. If you wish to subscribe, please send: subscribe ncse-news firstname.lastname@example.org again in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://www.ncseweb.org/membership