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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/08/06

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new survey reveals what Australians think about evolution. Plus:
sneak peeks of three reviews forthcoming in Reports of the NCSE, the
latest from Livingston Parish, and the return of Florida Citizens for
Science's Stick Science contest.


A national survey reveals that one in ten Australians do not believe
in evolution -- and three in ten think that humans lived at the same
time as dinosaurs. The survey, conducted by Auspoll for the Federation
of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies and the
Australian Academy of Science, was intended to assess the level of
science literacy in Australia.

Asked "[d]o you think that evolution is occurring?" 71% of the
respondents preferred "Yes, I think evolution is currently occurring,"
8% preferred, "No, I do not think evolution is currently occurring,"
and 10% preferred "No, I do not believe in evolution at all"; 11% were
not sure. Men, people aged 18-24 years, and people with higher levels
of education were more likely to select the yes response.

Also among the questions was "Is the following statement true or
false? The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs." Of
the respondents, 70% deemed the statement false, 30% true, and none
were unsure. People aged 45-64 years and people with less education
were the most likely to think that humans lived during the time of the

Jenny Graves of the Australian Academy of Science told The Age (August
1, 2010), "None of us are all that surprised because we have been
aware for a few years that Australia is losing ground in science and
maths but it's a real wake-up call that ... we have a very sizeable
number of people who really don't understand some of the absolute
basics of our lives."

The survey was conducted on-line July 20-22, 2010. According to the
report, "Respondents were drawn from a professional social and market
research panel. The overall sample size was 1515, segmented and
weighted to be nationally representative of Australia's population by
gender, age and residential location." The accuracy of the results is
+/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level.

For the article in The Age, visit: 

For the report of the survey (PDF), visit: 

For NCSE's collection of information on polls and surveys, visit: 


To help you plan your summer reading, NCSE is pleased to offer a
preview of three reviews forthcoming in Reports of the NCSE. Explore
the roots of the creationism/evolution controversy in classical
antiquity, enjoy a compelling poetic treatment of Darwinian themes, or
just peruse a collection of recent articles on creationism by leading

First, James G. Lennox reviews David Sedley's Creationism and Its
Critics in Antiquity (University of California Press, 2007). "Sedley's
is a controversial book that reaches well beyond the world of
classical scholarship. It is a study of defenders and critics of the
idea that the cosmos, the orderly world around us, is the product of a
divine, extra-natural designer," Lennox explains. "I urge everyone
concerned about the revival of 'intelligent design' to read this
compelling story of its origins in Ancient Greece."

Second, Cleo Fellers Kocol reviews Philip Appleman's book of poetry,
Darwin's Ark (Indiana University Press, 2009; originally published in
1984). "All of the poems delineate, describe, or elaborate on Darwin's
theory. The connections between us and them, humanity and the 'lesser'
animals, slide effortlessly into place, and the very earth we stand on
oozes into our consciousness as we read these poems. Appleman blends
the past with the present in an elegant fashion," Kocol writes.

Third, Glenn Sanford reviews The Panda's Black Box: Opening up the
Intelligent Design Controversy (The Johns Hopkins University Press,
2007), a collection of articles edited by Nathaniel C. Comfort. The
book is "an accessible reader that quickly and deftly surveys the
current evolution-['intelligent design'] debates from a range of
philosophical and historical angles," Sanford concludes, adding, "It
provides a useful synopsis of considerable scholarship on the issues

If you like what you see, why not subscribe to Reports of the NCSE
today? The next issue (volume 30, number 4) features Phil Senter
discussing how creationists think about vestigiality as well as
reviews of a host of books on paleontology, and the latest dispatches
from the front lines of the evolution wars. Don't miss out --
subscribe (or renew) now!

For the reviews, visit: 

For information about subscribing and renewing, visit: 


Creationism won't be taught in the public schools of Livingston
Parish, Louisiana -- at least not yet. The Baton Rouge Advocate
(August 1, 2010) reports that "The Livingston Parish School Board
won't try to include the teaching of creationism in this year's
curriculum, but has asked the School Board staff to look at the issue
for possible future action." At a July meeting, inspired by the
Louisiana Science Education Act, the board formed a committee to
explore the possibilities of incorporating creationism in the parish's
science classes. The committee is not expected to report its findings
in time for the board to take any action for the 2010-2011 school
year; the board's president Keith Martin explained, "We have decided
not to try to hurry up and rush something in for this year."

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Louisiana, told the Advocate that the decision to teach
creationism would be not only doomed to failure but expensive. "If
they were to do it, they could anticipate that any litigation would
result in them not only losing, but having to pay enormous legal
fees," she said. "They would be wasting a huge amount of taxpayer
money on a battle they can't win." The board's attorney confirmed that
it would be unconstitutional for the schools to teach creationism.
Meanwhile, board member David Tate, who broached the possibility of
teaching creationism at the previous board meeting, commented, "We
don't want litigation, but why not take a stand for Jesus and risk

For the story in the Baton Rouge Advocate, visit: 

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


Stick Science -- the science cartoon contest sponsored by Florida
Citizens for Science, a grassroots organization defending and
promoting the integrity of science education in Florida -- is back! At
the FCFS blog (August 1, 2010), Brandon Haught explains, "The basic
concept here is to draw a cartoon that educates the public about
misconceptions the average person has about science." And lack of
artistic ability isn't a problem: "all entries must be drawn using
stick figures. This is about creative ideas, not artistic ability."

Entries are due (by e-mail or post) by August 31, 2010. Prizes include
various books and t-shirts, and even a telescope kit. Judges are
NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, Carl Zimmer, the author of
The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution, Jorge Cham, the writer
and artist of the Piled Higher and Deeper on-line comic strip, and Jay
Hosler, the author and illustrator of The Sandwalk Adventures and
Optical Allusions. Full details of the contest are available on FCFS's

For the announcement on FCFS's blog, visit: 

For information about Stick Science, 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.


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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