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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/06/17

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

NCSE's Steven Newton reports in the pages of Earth on a creationist
field trip conducted during a geological conference. A new issue of
Evolution: Education and Outreach is published, Steven G. Gey is dead,
and the Tennessee Academy of Science adds its voice for evolution. And
The Rap Guide to Evolution opens in New York City.


"Creationism creeps into mainstream geology," a report by NCSE's
Steven Newton, is the cover story of the July 2011 issue of Earth,
published by the American Geological Institute. In his article, Newton
discusses a geological field trip conducted during the annual meeting
of the Geological Society of America in 2010. He explains, "it was an
example of a new strategy from creationists to interject their ideas
into mainstream geology: They lead field trips and present posters and
talks at scientific meetings. They also avoid overtly stating anything
truly contrary to mainstream science. But when the meeting is over,
the creationist participants go home and proudly proclaim that
mainstream science has accepted their ideas."

"During the trip," Newton relates, "the leaders did not advertise
their creationist views, but rather presented their credentials in a
way that minimized their creationist affiliations," adding, "the field
trip leaders were careful not to make overt creationist references. If
the 50 or so field trip participants did not know the subtext and
weren’t familiar with the field trip leaders, it's quite possible that
they never realized that the leaders endorsed geologic interpretations
completely at odds with the scientific community." But clues -- such
as referring to Cambrian outcrops as rocks that are "called Cambrian"
and hinting at the continental extent of a "massive marine
trangression" -- were abundant "if you knew what to listen for."

Creationists love to boast about their participation in scientific
meetings, Newton observed, even when it consists only of conducting
field trips or presenting unrefereed papers and posters. But he
suggested that it would be counterproductive for societies such as the
GSA to exclude creationists from participation in their meetings,
however, arguing, "We let a thousand flowers bloom, weeds and all. The
best ideas from the meetings are further subjected to peer review in
journals, which is where theories are built; conferences are more
freeform. Geology will not suffer if creationists participate in our
meetings, but the public relations damage from the misperception that
we are systematically hostile to any view -- especially religious
views -- is real."

For Newton's article, visit: 


The latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new
journal promoting the accurate understanding and comprehensive
teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- is now
published. The theme for the issue (volume 4, number 2) is
Evolutionary Theory and its Application to New World Settlement
Studies, edited by Rolando González-José. Articles include "The
Prehistoric Colonization of the Americas: Evidence and Models";
"Following the Tracks of the First South Americans"; "The Theory of
Evolution, Other Theories, and the Process of Human Colonization of
America"; "Social Dimensions of Evolutionary Research: Discovering
Native American History in Colonial Southeastern U.S."; "Integrating
Different Biological Evidence Around Some Microevolutionary Processes:
Bottlenecks and Asian-American Arctic Gene Flow in the New World
Settlement"; and "Contradictions and Concordances in American
Colonization Models." Plus there are various articles on the teaching
of evolution, book reviews, and commentaries.

Also included is the latest installment of NCSE's regular column,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education. In "Misconceptions about
the Settlement of the Americas," NCSE's Glenn Branch and Eric Meikle
interview Kenneth L. Feder, the author of the standard textbook on the
subject, Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in
Archaeology, now in its seventh edition. "How could it not be
important to truly understand a crucial part of the human past: the
discovery and populating of two continents?" Feder asks. "In essence,
the exploration of, migration to, settlement of, and adaptation to the
many and diverse environments of the New World provides
anthropologists, historians, cultural geographers, human ecologists,
demographers, etc., with what amounts to a laboratory in which they
can study the myriad ways in which people create ways to live.
Understanding the timetable for these adaptations, the source
populations, and the environmental changes these people faced can help
to illuminate the human condition and, if we're lucky, remind us in
the present about ancient responses to the sometimes remarkably
similar challenges we face today."

For Evolution: Education and Outreach, visit: 

For Branch and Meikle's interview with Feder (subscription required), visit: 


Steven G. Gey, a nationally recognized scholar of constitutional law,
died on June 9, 2011, at the age of 55, according to Florida Today
(June 10, 2011). Born in Pensacola, Florida, on April 6, 1956, Gey
earned a B.A. in philosophy from Eckerd College in 1978 before
receiving his J.D. at Columbia University, where he was articles
editor of the Columbia Law Review, in 1982. After a brief stint at the
New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison,
he became a professor of law at Florida State University in 1985; he
became the David and Deborah Fonvielle and Donald and Janet Hinkle
Professor of Law in 1999. A specialist in religious liberties and free
speech, he compiled the casebook Religion and the State (2001, second
edition 2006), coauthored The First Amendment: Cases and Theory
(2008), and wrote dozens of articles on religious liberties, free
speech, and constitutional interpretation. In a tribute to Gey
published in the Florida State University Law Review in 2008, Erwin
Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Irvine, School
of Law, described his work on the Establishment Clause as "among the
best scholarship in the area in recent years."

While at Paul, Weiss, Gey helped to litigate Edwards v. Aguillard,
which ended in 1987 when the Supreme Court ruled that teaching
creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional. His concern
with the constitutional issues surrounding the teaching of evolution
continued, culminating in the law review article "Is It Science Yet?
Intelligent Design, Creationism, and the Constitution," coauthored
with Matthew J. Brauer and Barbara Forrest, published in the
Washington University Law Quarterly in 2005. Citing "the absence of
objective scientific support for intelligent design, evidence of
strong links between intelligent design and religious doctrine, the
use of intelligent design to limit the dissemination of scientific
theories that are perceived as contradicting religious teachings, and
the fact that the irreducible core of intelligent design theory is
what the Court has called the 'manifestly religious' concept of a God
or Supreme Being," the article concluded that "intelligent design
theory cannot survive scrutiny under the constitutional framework used
by the Court to invalidate earlier creationism mandates." A member of
NCSE's legal advisory committee, Gey received NCSE's Friend of Darwin
award in 2007.

For the obituary in Florida Today, visit: 

For "Is It Science Yet?" (PDF), visit: 


The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with a
statement from the Tennessee Academy of Science, "providing a forum
for science education and research in Tennessee since 1912."

Emphasizing that "the theory of evolution is a fundamental concept of
science, and thus must also be a cornerstone of science education,"
the statement endorses the teaching of evolution, and adds,
"non-naturalistic or supernatural explanations, often guised as
'creation science,' 'scientific creationism,' or 'intelligent design
theory,' are not scientific in nature, do not conform to the
scientific usage of 'theory,' and should not be included in
Tennessee’s science curricula."

The Tennessee Academy of Science's statement is 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 Tennessee Academy of Science's statement, visit: 

For Voices for Evolution, visit: 


If you live in or plan to visit New York City soon, consider checking
out The Rap Guide to Evolution, written and performed by Baba

A smash hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the world, The Rap
Guide to Evolution is at once provocative and scientifically accurate,
hilarious and intelligent. Brinkman performs his clever reworkings of
popular rap singles as well as his own originals to illustrate natural
selection, sexual selection, evolutionary psychology and much more. As
Edinburgh's Scotsman newspaper said, "you'll never look at a hip-hop
music video in the same way again."

The Rap Guide to Evolution will be playing at the Soho Playhouse, 15
Van Dam Street (between Varick Street and 6th Avenue), starting on
June 17. And there's a special discount for NCSE members: whether you
buy your ticket online at, by calling
212-352-3101, or at the box office, mention code NCSE611. You'll
receive a $10.50 discount from the regular $39.50 price for
performances June 17-25, and a $16.00 discount from the regular $55.00
price for performances beginning June 26.

For further information about The Rap Guide to 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 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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