NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/04/15
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, One in six Americans would ban books discussing evolution from school libraries, according to a new poll. Florida Today editorially denounces the antievolution bill in Florida. Plus additions to NCSE's YouTube Channel and to Voices for Evolution.
POLLING SCHOOL LIBRARY BANS ON EVOLUTION Sixteen percent of respondents to a recent poll agreed that books that discuss evolution should be banned from school libraries. According to a press release issued on April 12, 2011, by Harris Interactive, agreement was more prevalent among respondents over 65 (26%), with only a high school education or less (22%), and with a conservative political philosophy (25%). The level of support for banning books that discuss evolution, however, was less than the level of support for banning the Torah or Talmud, the Koran, and books that include vampires, with references to drugs or alcohol, that include witchcraft or sorcery, with references to sex, with references to violence, and with explicit language. Only the Bible fared better, with only 11% of respondents agreeing that it should be banned from school libraries. Harris Interactive explains that the poll "was conducted online within the United States between March 7 to 14, 2011 among 2,379 adults (aged 18 and over)," adding, "The data have been 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, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated." For the Harris Interactive poll, visit: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/mid/1508/articleId/754/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/Default.aspx And for NCSE's collection of material on polls and surveys, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys OPPOSITION TO FLORIDA'S ANTIEVOLUTION BILL CONTINUES Florida Today took a strong editorial stand against Florida's Senate Bill 1854, which would, if enacted, amend a section of Florida law to require "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" in the state's public schools. In its April 13, 2011, editorial, Florida Today noticed the continuities of the antievolution campaigns over the years, writing, "It's almost pitiful, that this is what the deniers of evolution are reduced to. In this country, lawmakers have mandated teaching only the Biblical story of creation. The courts killed it. Then it was creationism. Dead. Intelligent design. Dead. So now it's a 'critical analysis.'" The editorial concluded, "The injection of religion into a scientific theory -- which obviously is what SB 1854 seeks to foster -- has no place in the public school classroom. Period." In opposing SB 1854, Florida Today joined the Orlando Sentinel, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida Citizens for Science, and the Florida Academy of Sciences, which warned, "SB 1854, in effect, leaves the door open for the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines. The proposed bill would be damaging to the quality of science education of Florida's children and the scientific literacy of our citizens." The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12 -- which its sponsor, Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), chairs -- and to the Senate Budget Committee. Since the bill is presently on the calendar of neither committee, and April 26, 2011, is the last day for regularly scheduled committee meetings, it seems likely that it will die in committee. For the editorial in Florida Today, visit: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/CD/20110413/OPINION01/104130301/0/capitolnews/Our-Opinion-Evolution-Again- For NCSE's report on previous opposition to SB 1854, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2011/03/reactions-to-antievolution-bill-florida-006551 For the text of SB 1854, visit: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/1854/BillText/Filed/HTML And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: http://ncse.com/news/florida WHAT'S NEW ON NCSE'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL NCSE is pleased to announce the addition of a further batch of videos to NCSE's YouTube channel. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott describes "The evolution of creationism" at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 2009; "Creationist tactics in misrepresenting the science of evolution" at the Geological Society of America meeting in 2010; "Evolution and science teaching" at Gene Connection in San Mateo, California, in 2010; and "Tell it to the judge(s): Evolution 101" at the Ohio Judicial Conference in 2010. From NCSE's staff, Joshua Rosenau explains "Why we need Dobzhansky's maxim more than ever" at the 2009 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and explores "Leap of faith: Intelligent design's trajectory after Dover" with the Kol Hadash Northern California Community for Humanistic Judaism in 2011; Steven Newton traces "The evolution of creationism" for the Contra Costa County Freethinkers and Atheists in 2011 and asks "Why teach evolution?" at the National Science Teachers Association conference in 2011; and Glenn Branch reviews "The history and prospects of creationism" for the Sacramento Area Skeptics in 2011. And from NCSE's board of directors and Supporters, Barbara Forrest presents "Back to the future: Or, what can we learn from Louisiana's 2008 Science Education Act" at the Sacramento Darwin Day event in 2011. From 1991, there's a minidocumentary on "How scientists know about punctuated equilibria" featuring NCSE Supporters Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge. And from the 2011 "Friend of Darwin" award dinner, there's a minidocumentary about the life and work of the guest of honor, Niles Eldredge. Tune in and enjoy! For NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd MORE MUSEUMS ADD THEIR VOICE FOR EVOLUTION The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with statements from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Saint Louis Science Center, and the Utah Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's statement reads, "Evolutionary theory provides a logical framework for making sense of the great diversity of organisms on earth -- for understanding both differences and similarities among them," and adds, "there is no scientific controversy about the fact that evolution occurs." With respect to human evolution, all of the evidence gathered from scientific investigation "supports the idea that humans have emerged by a process of change over time, and that humans are related to all other lifeforms." In its statement, the Saint Louis Science Center explains, "The Saint Louis Science Center considers science literacy a cornerstone of both personal and national success in the 21st century. Our mission to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning supports this value. ... In keeping with this, the Saint Louis Science Center presents evolution as a central, unifying concept in biology. Our exhibits and programs will reflect new scientific discoveries as they emerge and shape our understanding of biological diversity." And the Utah Museum of Natural History's statement reads, "we accept the theory of evolution, which [is] the unifying concept of all biological sciences. While there remains ongoing lively debate about the processes of evolutionary change -- that is, how evolution occurs -- the overwhelming majority of biologists fully endorse the idea that all organisms on earth share a common ancestry and that life's unfolding has encompassed billions of years of time. Like gravity, evolution is one of the cornerstones of modern science, and it represents one of the key themes of our institutional mission." All three of these statements are now reproduced, by permission, on NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution. For the statements, visit: http://www.mnh.si.edu/press_office/statements/evolution.htm http://gallery.slsc-enews.org/GeneralInfo/MediaRoom/DarwinMediaRoom.aspx http://umnh.utah.edu/mission And for Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- 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 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership