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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/05/22

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is honored by Scientific American, while
NCSE's Joshua Rosenau reports on the mess in Texas for Seed.
Meanwhile, the antievolution bills in Alabama and Missouri are dead.
And congratulations are due to three members of NCSE honored by the
American Institute for Biological Sciences.


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott is among the Scientific
American 10 for 2009, described by the magazine in its June 2009 issue
as "researchers, politicians, business executives and philanthropists
who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that
the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to
humanity." The citation reads, in part:


Thomas Henry Huxley was the 19th-century biologist known as "Darwin's
bulldog" for his defense of the great scientist's ideas. The 21st
century has a counterpart in the woman who describes herself as
"Darwin's golden retriever." Eugenie Scott has emerged as one of the
most prominent advocates for keeping evolution an integral part of the
curriculum in public schools in her role as head of the nonprofit
National Center for Science Education (NCSE). ... With the ever
changing semantics of antievolutionists, Darwin's golden retriever
will have plenty more chances to act as a loyal defender of teaching
evolution in the schools.


Besides Scott, the Scientific American 10 for 2009 are Todd Brady of
Intel, Shai Agassi of Better Place, Wafaa El-Sadr of Harlem Hospital
Center, Robert J. Linhardt of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bill
Gates and Michael Bloomberg, Bryan Willson of Colorado State
University, Kristian Olson of the Center for Integration of Medicine
and Innovative Technology, Andras Nagy of Mount Sinai Hospital in
Toronto, and President Barack Obama.

For information about the award, visit:


Writing in Seed, NCSE's Joshua Rosenau explains what the new Texas
state science standards mean for science education nationwide.
Rosenau, who attended (and blogged from) both the January and the
March meetings of the Texas state board of education, writes, "Despite
our efforts, after a total of 24 hours of testimony in three separate
hearings, pro-evolution moderates brokered a compromise with the
board's seven creationists. Heeding McLeroy's cry that 'someone's got
to stand up to experts!,' the board approved standards that promote
creationism's mantra of 'sudden appearance' of new species, echo
creationist beliefs that the complexity of the cell cannot be
scientifically explained, and mandate that students study 'different
views on the existence of global warming.'"

In the wake of the adoption of the flawed standards in Texas, Rosenau
explains, "Textbook publishers are already preparing for hearings in
2011, which will judge whether rewritten textbooks fit the new
standards. Textbook author and biologist [and NCSE Supporter] Ken
Miller and publisher Rene LeBel both say they'll abide by the letter,
but not the spirit, of the standards; for instance, by fulfilling the
requirement to cover 'all sides of scientific evidence' without
including creationist pseudoscience. Miller, a vocal defender of
evolution education, insists that 'biology textbook authors will all
stand together on evolution,' refusing to include creationist attacks
or to drop good science."

But it isn't only the authors and publishers of textbooks that are
preparing to defend the integrity of science education, and it isn't
only in Texas -- as Rosenau relates, "The NCSE recently worked with a
family and local professors to give a student in Washington the
courage to denounce his teacher's creationist lectures. He won not
only the school's support but also a college scholarship from the
ACLU." The lesson to be learned from the experience of those fighting
for the integrity of science education, whether in Texas, Washington,
or wherever it is under assault, Rosenau concludes: "It doesn't take
an expert to stand up for science. Whether the battle is large or
small, success depends on these types of broad coalitions."

For Rosenau's article in Seed, visit:


When the Alabama legislative session ended on May 15, 2009, House Bill
300, the so-called Academic Freedom Act, died in committee. If
enacted, HB 300 would have purportedly protected "the right of
teachers identified by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v.
Aguillard to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific
theories" and "the right of students to hold a position on views
[sic]." Previous similar antievolution bills in Alabama -- HB 923 in
2008; HB 106 and SB 45 in 2006; HB 352, SB 240, and HB 716 in 2005; HB
391 and SB 336 in 2004 -- failed to win passage. In 2004, a cosponsor
of SB 336 told the Montgomery Advertiser (February 18, 2004), "This
bill will level the playing field because it allows a teacher to bring
forward the biblical creation story of humankind."

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Alabama, visit:


When the Missouri legislative session ended on May 15, 2009, House
Bill 656 died, without ever having been assigned to a committee. If
enacted, HB 656 would have required state and local education
administrators to permit teachers to "to help students understand,
analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific
strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and
chemical evolution." Otherwise a typical instance of the current spate
of antievolution "academic freedom" bills, HB 656 was interestingly
expansive about what it was not intended to do: "this section shall
not be construed to promote philosophical naturalism or biblical
theology, promote natural cause or intelligent cause, promote
undirected change or purposeful design, promote atheistic or theistic
belief, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of
religious beliefs or ideas, or promote discrimination for or against
religion or nonreligion. Scientific information includes physical
evidence and logical inferences based upon evidence."

The chief sponsor of HB 656 was Robert Wayne Cooper (R-District 155),
joined by Mike Sutherland (R-District 99), Ed Emery (R-District 126),
Therese Sander (R-District 22), Brian Nieves (R-District 98), and
Stanley Cox (R-District 118). Cooper was the sponsor of numerous
failed antievolution bills in the past. In 2008, he introduced the
similar HB 2554. In 2006, he introduced HB 1266, which if enacted
would have required that "If a theory or hypothesis of biological
origins is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis
shall be taught in a substantive amount." In 2004, he introduced two
bills, HB 911 and HB 1722, that called for equal time for "intelligent
design" in Missouri's public schools. HB 911 moreover contained
idiosyncratic definitions of various scientific and philosophical
terms as well as the draconian provision, "Willful neglect of any
elementary or secondary school superintendent, principal, or teacher
to observe and carry out the requirements of this section shall be
cause for termination of his or her contract."

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Missouri, visit:


Among those honored in 2009 by the American Institute for Biological
Sciences for their outstanding contributions to the biological
sciences were three members of NCSE. In a joint statement quoted in a
May 15, 2009, press release, AIBS President May Berenbaum and
Executive Director Richard O'Grady said, "AIBS is pleased to honor
such exceptional and dedicated individuals. Though they are from
diverse backgrounds, they have all made significant positive
contributions to the field of biology." They received their awards
in a special ceremony at the AIBS annual meeting, "Sustainable
Agriculture: Greening the Global Food Supply," in Arlington, Virginia,
on May 18, 2009.

Joe Felsenstein, Professor of Genome Sciences and Biology at the
University of Washington, received the Distinguished Scientist
Award. Robert T. Pennock, Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State
University, received the Outstanding Service Award; AIBS cited his
book Tower of Babel (MIT Press, 1999) as well as his testimony in
Kitzmiller v. Dover. And NCSE Supporter Bruce Alberts, Professor of
Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San
Francisco, editor-in-chief of the journal Science, and past president
of the National Academy of Sciences, received the AIBS Education
Award. Congratulations to all three!

For the press release from AIBS, visit:

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- 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 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition!

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

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