NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/04/29
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Kenneth R. Miller is to receive the Stephen Jay Gould Prize. Supplementary biology materials submitted for approval in Texas are "laced with creationist arguments." A new poll offers insight on public opinion on evolution and creationism globally. And no fewer than forty-two Nobel-prize-winning scientists call for a repeal of Louisiana's antievolution law.
KENNETH R. MILLER TO RECEIVE GOULD AWARD NCSE congratulates Kenneth R. Miller for winning the 2011 Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. Professor of Biology and Royce Family Professor for Teaching Excellence at Brown University, Miller is a Supporter of NCSE as well as a recipient of its Friend of Darwin award. Miller will receive the Gould Prize and present a public lecture on June 18, 2011, at the Evolution 2011 conference in Norman, Oklahoma. The announcement of the award from the SSE described Miller as "an eloquent and passionate defender of evolution and the scientific method," citing his testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the 2005 case establishing the unconstitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools, as well as his widely used high school textbooks coauthored with Joseph Levine and his books Finding Darwin's God (1999) and Only a Theory (2008). The Stephen Jay Gould Prize is awarded annually by the SSE "to recognize individuals whose sustained and exemplary efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science and its importance in biology, education, and everyday life in the spirit of Stephen Jay Gould." NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was the recipient of the first Gould Prize, in 2009, followed by NCSE Supporter Sean B. Carroll in 2010. For the announcement from the SSE, visit: http://www.evolutionsociety.org/awards.asp CREATIONIST MATERIALS SUBMITTED IN TEXAS Materials "laced with creationist arguments" have been submitted for approval by the Texas state board of education, charged the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education in a joint press release issued on April 25, 2011. As the press release explains, "The Texas Education Agency has made available on its website science instructional materials -- all of them web-based -- that publishers and other vendors have proposed for high school biology classes across the state. Materials approved by the state board in July could be in Texas science classrooms for nearly a decade. An initial review by NCSE and TFN has revealed that materials from at least one vendor, ... International Databases Inc., promote anti-evolution arguments made by proponents of intelligent design/creationism." "International Databases' materials are not only laced with creationist arguments," said NCSE's Joshua Rosenau, "they are also remarkably shoddy, teeming with misspellings, typographical errors, and mistaken claims of fact." The press release cited "intelligent design"-tinged claims such as "life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes" and "students should go home with the understanding that a new paradigm of explaining life's origins is emerging from the failed attempts of naturalistic scenarios. This new way of thinking is predicated upon the hypothesis that intelligent input is necessary for life's origins." The materials describe "intelligent design" as a "legitimate scientific hypothesis" and even as "the default position," despite the consensus of the scientific community that it is not. Examples of these claims are posted at the TFN's website. "Two years ago State Board of Education members thumbed their noses at the science community and approved new curriculum standards that opened the door to creationism and junk science," said TFN President Kathy Miller. "Now they are getting exactly what they wanted -- the chance to make Texas the poster child for the creationist movement. The state board would be aiding and abetting wholesale academic fraud and dumbing down the education of millions of Texas kids if it doesn't reject these materials." All of the materials submitted for approval will be examined in June 2011 by teams of reviewers appointed by the Texas Education Agency; the Texas state board of education is scheduled to hold a public hearing and final vote on the materials in July 2011; public schools could then decide to purchase approved materials for classroom use in the 2011-2012 school year. For the press release, visit: http://www.tfn.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6509 For examples of the claims (PDF), visit: http://www.tfn.org/IDexamples And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Texas, visit: http://ncse.com/news/texas POLLING CREATIONISM AND EVOLUTION AROUND THE WORLD A new poll conducted by Ipsos for Reuters News in twenty-four countries found that 41% of respondents identified themselves as "evolutionists" and 28% as "creationists," with 31% indicating that they "simply don't know what to believe," according to a press release issued by Ipsos on April 25, 2011. Respondents were prompted with "There has been some debate recently about the origins of human beings. Please tell me which of the following is closer to your own point of view" and presented with: * Some people are referred to as 'evolutionist's' [sic] and believe that human beings were in fact created over a long period of time of evolution growing into fully formed human beings they are today from lower species such as apes; * Some people are referred to as 'creationist's' and believe that human beings were in fact created by a spiritual force such as the God they believe in and do not believe that the origin of man came from evolving from other species such as apes; and * Some people simply don't know what to believe and sometimes agree or disagree with theories and ideas put forward by both creationist's and evolutionist's. The countries were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States. The "evolutionist" view was most popular in Sweden (68%), Germany (65%), and China (64%), with the United States ranking 18th (28%), between Mexico (34%) and Russia (26%); the "creationist" view was most popular in Saudi Arabia (75%), Turkey (60%), and Indonesia (57%), with the United States ranking 6th (40%), between Brazil (47%) and Russia (34%). Consistently with previous polls, in the United States, acceptance of evolution was higher among respondents who were younger, with a higher level of household income, and with a higher level of education. Gender was not particularly important, however: the difference between male and female respondents in the United States was no more than 2%. The survey was conducted on-line between September 7 and September 23, 2010, with approximately 1000 participants per country except for Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Russia, and Turkey, for which there were approximately 500 participants per country; the results were weighted to balance demographics. For the press release, visit: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5217 And for NCSE's collection of material on polls and surveys, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys NOBELISTS ENDORSE LOUISIANA REPEAL EFFORT Forty-two Nobel-prize-winning scientists have urged the Louisiana legislature to repeal "the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008," describing it as creating "a pathway for creationism and other forms of non-scientific instruction to be taught in public school science classrooms." The statement, circulated by Zach Kopplin, the Baton Rouge high school student who is spearheading the effort to repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the LSEA, was released to the press on April 21, 2011, and is available on the Repeal Creationism website. As NCSE previously reported, Senate Bill 70, prefiled by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), in the Louisiana Senate on April 15, 2011, and provisionally referred to the Senate Committee on Education, would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1. The legislative session begins on April 25, 2011. A rally in support of SB 70 took place at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge at 11:00 a.m. on April 28, 2011, and there was also a table with information about the repeal effort in the atrium of the capitol from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the same day, according to the Facebook page for the rally. Roger Kornberg of the Stanford University School of Medicine, a signatory of the statement who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006 for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription, told the Associated Press (April 21, 2011) that the passage of the LSEA was "a tragedy for the young people of Louisiana and an embarrassment for the entire state and the nation. Shame on the legislature that enacted it, and especially on the governor who signed it into law." A spokesperson for Governor Bobby Jindal told the Associated Press that Jindal opposes any attempts to repeal the law. For the Nobelists' statement, visit: http://www.repealcreationism.com/397/41-nobel-laureates-send-a-letter-to-the-louisiana-legislature/ For information about the rally to support SB 70, visit: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=209023669116019 For the Associated Press story (via the New Orleans Times-Picayune), visit: http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/nobel-laureates-push-repeal-of-la-education/4d524f4b68b3481ea17f66e37e426c94 And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/louisiana 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 Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: http://reports.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