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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

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.


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: 

And for NCSE's collection of material on polls and surveys, visit: 


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: 

For NCSE's report on previous opposition to SB 1854, visit: 

For the text of SB 1854, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: 


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: 


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

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: 

And for Voices for Evolution, 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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