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.
NCSE'S NEWTON ON CREEPING CREATIONISM "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: http://www.earthmagazine.org/earth/article/456-7db-6-a THE LATEST ISSUE OF EVOLUTION: EDUCATION AND OUTREACH 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: http://www.springerlink.com/content/120878/ For Branch and Meikle's interview with Feder (subscription required), visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/71pm52485380026j/ STEVEN G. GEY DIES 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: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/CD/20110610/BREAKINGNEWS/110610007/Logtime-nFSU-law-professor-Steven-Gey-dies For "Is It Science Yet?" (PDF), visit: http://lawreview.wustl.edu/inprint/83-1/p%201%20Brauer%20Forrest%20Gey%20book%20pages.pdf TENNESSEE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION 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: http://www.tennacadofsci.org/ For Voices for Evolution, visit: http://ncse.com/voices THE RAP GUIDE TO EVOLUTION IN NEW YORK CITY 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 Brinkman. 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 www.RapGuidetoEvolution.com, 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: http://rapguidetoevolution.com/ 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 x305 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/join