NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/01/02
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, The journal Nature provides a new resource summarizing fifteen lines of evidence for evolution by natural selection. Meanwhile, Expelled makes a brief and inglorious appearance in newspapers again, and the Geological Society of Australia reaffirms its stance against creationism.
EVOLUTIONARY GEMS FROM NATURE "15 Evolutionary Gems" is a new resource summarizing fifteen lines of evidence for evolution by natural selection, provided by the journal Nature. The editors explain, "About a year ago, an Editorial in these pages urged scientists and their institutions to 'spread the word' and highlight reasons why scientists can treat evolution by natural selection as, in effect, an established fact ... This week we are following our own prescription. In a year in which Darwin is being celebrated amid uncertainty and hostility about his ideas among citizens, being aware of the cumulatively incontrovertible evidence for those ideas is all the more important. We trust that this document will help." The fifteen evolutionary gems, as Nature describes them, are in three categories: gems from the fossil record (land-living ancestors of whales, from water to land, the origin of feathers, the evolutionary history of teeth, and the origin of the vertebrate skeleton), gems from habitats (natural selection in speciation, natural selection in lizards, a case of co-evolution, differential dispersal in wild birds, selective survival in wild guppies, and evolutionary history matters), and gems from molecular processes (Darwin's Galapagos finches, microevolution meets macroevolution, toxin resistance in snakes and clams, and variation versus stability). References and links to relevant resources are provided. For "15 Evolutionary Gems" (PDF), visit: http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/evolutiongems.pdf For the editorial introduction, visit: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7225/full/457008b.html GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FOR EXPELLED As 2008 drew to a close, the good news for the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was that their creationist propaganda movie was getting a bit of press again. The bad news is that it was in the lists of the worst movies of 2008. The Onion's A.V. Club (December 16, 2008), was quickest out of the gate, commenting, "There are terrible movies, and then there are terrible movies that cause harm to society by feeding into its ignorance. Nathan Frankowski's odious anti-evolution documentary belongs in the latter category. ... Few moments in cinema in 2008 were as shameless and disgusting as the Expelled sequence where Stein solemnly visits a Nazi death camp and unsubtly links 'survival of the fittest' theory to the Holocaust." John Serba of the Grand Rapids Press (December 26, 2008) wrote, "Ben Stein hosts this pro-Intelligent Design documentary that forgets to include a compelling argument for this viewpoint, and instead chooses to equate Darwinism and its legions of rational scientist followers with Nazis and the Holocaust. Facts rooted in reality are at a premium in this insidious, crassly manipulative dreck." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel (December 26, 2008) commented, "Ben Stein's documentary was a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they're losing the 'intelligent design' debate because of academic 'prejudice.'" Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger (December 27, 2008) described Expelled as lifting "its nonsensical knowledge of early man from an Alley Oop comic and its sense of honest inquiry from a snake-handling preacher." In the LA City Beat (December 30, 2008), Andy Klein wrote, "Stein's 'intelligent design' documentary has all the red flags -- inadequate or misleading identification of interviewees, aggressively manipulative editing, extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, and extreme leaps of logic ... particularly suggesting guilt by association, even to the point of laying blame for the Holocaust on Darwin." And Ken Hanke of the Ashville, North Carolina, Mountain Xpress (December 31, 2008) said that Expelled was "as corrupt a piece of work as you'll ever encounter." Expelled fared no better north of the border. Jay Stone of the Canwest News Service (December 26, 2008) described Expelled as "a masterwork of intellectual dishonesty." And Richard Crouse of Canada AM (December 30, 2008) commented, "Wrapping his thesis in good old American jingoistic rhetoric -- remember this guy used to write speeches for Nixon -- Stein repeatedly compares Darwinist scientists to communists by the suggestion that the only way they can get funding for research is to be good Darwinist 'comrades' and even makes the outrageous connection between Darwin's theory and Nazism." Crouse added, "Perhaps it isn't just a coincidence that the host's initials are B.S." For the various lists and articles, visit: http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/there_appears_to_be_an_event/2 http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/grpress/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-1/1230300922187990.xm\ l&coll=6 http://www.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment/orl-toptenmovies08dec26,0,5012155.story http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/index.ssf/2008/12/worst_films_0f_2008_ten_films.html http://www.lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/the_bottom_08/7903/ http://www.mountainx.com/movies/articles/123108cranky_hanke_and_justin_southers_best_and_worst\ _picks_for_2008 http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20081230/crouse_2008_list_081230 http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/story.html?id=608915a7-383c-4afa-b97b-1036f1db2afb For NCSE's Expelled Exposed website, visit: http://www.expelledexposed.com/ AUSTRALIAN GEOLOGISTS STILL OPPOSE CREATIONISM The Geological Society of Australia recently updated its policy statement on science education and creationism. A previous version of the statement (reprinted in the third edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution) from 1995 read, in part, "The Geological Society of Australia considers that notions such as Fundamental Creationism, including so called 'Flood Geology', which disregard scientific evidence such as that based on repeatable observations in the natural world and the geological record, are not science and cannot be taught as science ... The Society states unequivocally that the dogmatic teaching of notions such as Creationism within a science curriculum stifles the development of critical thinking patterns in the developing mind and seriously compromises the best interests of objective public education. ... the Society dissociates itself from Creationist statements made by any member." The 2008 update differs from the 1995 version only in specifying that the statement applies to "intelligent design" and in bearing the endorsements of all of the presidents of the society from 1994 onward. Established in 1952, the Geological Society of Australia is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote, advance and support the earth sciences in Australia. For the GSA's statement (PDF), visit: http://gsa.org.au/pdfdocuments/management/POL_intel%20design_2008.pdf For information about Voices for Evolution, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/media/voices 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. With best wishes for the new year, 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