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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/12/18

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A free preview of Carl Zimmer's The Tangled Bank is available on
NCSE's website, evolution appears in a new Harris poll, and selected
content from RNCSE 29:4 is now available on NCSE's website. And NCSE
is seeking help in translating selected resources from its website
into Spanish.


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of a chapter from Carl
Zimmer's latest book, The Tangled Bank (Roberts and Company, 2009).
The chapter, "Radiations and Extinctions," addresses biodiversity;
Zimmer writes, "In this chapter we'll examine how scientists study
biodiversity, analyzing patterns over space and time and then creating
hypotheses they can test. We'll explore how lineages of species grow,
and then how they become extinct. We may, biologists fear, be in the
early stages of a catastrophic bout of extinctions on a scale not seen
for millions of years. By understanding the past of biodiversity,
scientists can make some predictions about the future we are

The Tangled Bank was described by E. O. Wilson as "the best written
and best illustrated introduction to evolution of the Darwin
centennial decade, and also the most conversant with ongoing research.
It is excellent for students, the general public, and even other
biologists." And NCSE Supporter Kenneth R. Miller praised it as "an
extraordinary introduction to the depth and richness of evolutionary
science." Zimmer is the author of a number of popular books about
biology, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (Harper
Perennial, 2006), the companion volume to PBS's Evolution series; he
also received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award for 2005.

For the preview, visit: 

For information about The Tangled Bank, visit: 


A recent Harris poll included questions on evolution and creationism,
with unsurprising results. According to Harris's report, those
surveyed were given a list of topics -- including God, miracles,
heaven, Jesus as God or the son of God, angels, survival of the soul
after death, the resurrection of Jesus, Hell, the virgin birth, the
Devil, "Darwin's theory of evolution," ghosts, creationism, UFOs,
astrology, witches, and reincarnation -- and asked, "Please indicate
for each one if you believe in it, or not." For evolution, 45% of
respondents indicated that they believed in it, 32% indicated that
they don't believe in it, and 22% indicated that they were not sure.
For creationism, 40% of respondents indicated that they believed in
it, 30% indicated that they don't believe in it, and 30% indicated
that they were not sure.

The results varied by religion: 51% of Catholics, 32% of Protestants,
80% of Jews, and 16% of born-again Christians believed in Darwin's
theory of evolution, while 37% of Catholics, 56% of Protestants, 20%
of Jews, and 68% of born-again Christians believed in creationism.
Overall, the results were basically unchanged from 2007, when 42% of
respondents believed in evolution and 39% of respondents believed in
creationism. The poll was conducted on-line on November 2 and 11,
2009, among 2303 adults in the United States; figures were weighted to
reflect the composition of the adult population. "Because the sample
is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive
panel," the report explains, "no estimates of theorical sampling error
can be calculated."

Previous reports and analyses of polls on NCSE's website and in
Reports of the NCSE include a report on a 2002 poll of the views of
Ohio scientists with regard to "intelligent design," Otis Dudley
Duncan and Claudia Geist's "The Creationists: How Many, Who, and
Where?", Glenn Branch's "The Latest Polls on Creationism and
Evolution" (summarizing the polls of 2004), George Bishop's "Polls
Apart on Human Origins" (reprinted from Public Opinion Pros), a report
on a 2008 poll on public opinion in Canada, and a report on the
British Council's 2009 poll of public opinion in ten countries. NCSE
plans in 2010 to add a special section of its website to summarize and
collect such reports and analyses, so stay tuned!

For Harris's report (PDF), visit: 

For the cited reports and analyses, visit: 


Selected content from volume 29, number 4, of Reports of the National
Center for Science Education is now available on NCSE's website.
Featured are NCSE's Glenn Branch's interview with Mark Perakh on the
fifth anniversary of the publication of his Unintelligent Design
(Prometheus, 2004) and Lawrence S. Lerner's reflections on the future
of "intelligent design" creationism. And Arthur McCalla reviews John
Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York's Critique of
Intelligent Design, Frank Steiner reviews Fazale Rana's The Cell's
Design, and Burt Humburg reviews Lauri Lebo's The Devil in Dover.

If you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today? The next
issue (volume 29, number 6) focuses on issues in the teaching and
learning of evolution, with contributions discussing changing student
attitudes through engaged teaching techniques, using the documentary
Judgment Day to assess attitude change in students, and the importance
of public discourse by scientists in shaping attitudes about science
and evolution. Randy Moore, in his regular column on the people and
places of the creationism/evolution controversy, revisits Carl Baugh's
Creation Evidence Museum. And there are reviews, too. Don't miss out
-- subscribe now!

For the selected content from RNCSE 29:4, visit: 

For subscription information, visit: 


NCSE is seeking volunteers to assist in translating selected resources
from its website into Spanish. If you read and write both languages
fluently, are interested in helping NCSE's outreach to the
Spanish-speaking community, and are able to make a serious commitment
to the project, you are cordially invited to get in touch with NCSE's
Peter M. J. Hess at 

For the same appeal on NCSE's website, 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.

With best wishes for the holiday season,

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

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