NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/09/02
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A settlement in the lawsuit against the California Science Center, and sad news from Indiana of Steve Randak's death.
LAWSUIT AGAINST SCIENCE CENTER SETTLED A lawsuit against the California Science Center for canceling a screening of Darwin's Dilemma was settled in July 2011, the Associated Press reported (August 29, 2011), with neither side admitting wrongdoing. As NCSE previously reported, the lawsuit was filed by the American Freedom Alliance, which arranged to screen the film -- described by the Los Angeles Times (December 29, 2009) as "a feature-length documentary that criticizes Darwin and promotes intelligent design" -- at the CSC in October 2009. After the Discovery Institute issued a press release touting the event and implying that the Smithsonian Institution, with which the CSC is affiliated, was involved, the CSC canceled the screening on the grounds that the press release violated the terms of the rental contract, which provides that all promotional materials for events must be approved beforehand by the CSC. The AFA then sued in Los Angeles Superior Court on October 14, 2009, charging that the CSC's actions violated both the First Amendment and the terms of the rental contract. In what the Los Angeles Times (August 29, 2011) described as "an unusual provision," the settlement "called for Science Center officials to invite the Freedom Assn. to show the film and for the association to immediately turn them down, a statement from the center said." Additionally, the AFA is to receive $110,000 as part of the settlement, of which $100,000 will be paid by the CSC's insurer and $10,000 by the California Science Center Foundation, a separate entity. In a statement dated August 29, 2011, the CSC Foundation emphasized that the settlement was intended to "avoid the expense of further litigation." The statement added, "The cancellation was never about the content of the program, as indicated by the fact that the Foundation was willing to have the event in the first place. It was about the false and misleading press releases that the Discovery Institute and AFA issued. Unfortunately, it appears that neither the Discovery Institute nor AFA have learned their lesson," alluding to a string of triumphal press releases about the settlement. NCSE's Steven Newton, a geologist, told the Associated Press that Darwin's Dilemma is "a distortion of what real scientists think about the Cambrian Period ... The way the film does this is by showing snippets of real paleontologists next to people who have never published a paper on paleontology talking about creationism," adding that showing it in a science museum would be like showing a film about the Civil War that credited the South with victory in a history museum. Speaking to ScienceInsider (August 31, 2011), Newton said that because the settlement involved no admission of wrongdoing, the case was "without clear victors," but regretted the expense and distraction to the CSC: "It cost CSC a fair bit of money, and was time away from the core mission." ScienceInsider reported, "NCSE had urged CSC not to cancel the screening, says Newton, to avoid creating any martyrs for the ID movement. Instead, NCSE had sent e-mails to California area science professionals, encouraging them to 'show up and ask difficult questions.'" Documents from the case, AFA v. CSC et al., are available on NCSE's website. For the Associated Press story (via the Washington Post), visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/ca-science-center-pays-group-110000-over-canceled-2009-showing-of-intelligent-design-film/2011/08/29/gIQAfNaAoJ_story.html For the 12/29/2009 story in the Los Angeles Times, visit: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/29/entertainment/la-et-science-center29-2009dec29 For the 8/29/2011 story in the Los Angeles Times, visit: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/california-science-center-settles-anti-darwin-film-lawsuit.html For the CSC Foundation's statement (PDF), visit: http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/GenInfo/MediaRoom/PressReleases/CSCF-AFA-dispute-resolution-statement-8.29.11.pdf For the story in ScienceInsider, visit: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/08/california-science-center-to-pay.html?ref=ra And for NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/american-freedom-alliance-v-california-science-center-et-al STEVE RANDAK DIES Steve Randak, a biology teacher highlighted in 2001's Evolution series on PBS, died on August 23, 2011, according to the Lafayette, Indiana, Journal and Courier (August 26, 2011). Born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 26, 1945, Randak received his B.S. in biology and psychology from Wabash College in 1967, and his M.S. in biology and education in 1973. He was a biology teacher from 1967 to 2009, spending the last twenty years of his career at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana. He was active in helping his fellow teachers to teach science effectively, including through the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes, for which he was a Lead Teacher. Among the awards and honors he accrued were the Outstanding Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 1990, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in 1993, the first Evolution Education Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 2002, and an honorary Ph.D. from Wabash College in 2003. Ironically, as Randak noted in his 2001 article "The Children's Crusade for Creationism" (published originally in The American Biology Teacher and reprinted in Reports of the NCSE), it may have been his high school's emphasis on the effective teaching of evolution that provoked students to launch a campaign calling for creation science to be added to the biology curriculum -- a campaign that was documented in chapter 5 of show 7 of the Evolution series broadcast on PBS in 2001. The result was ideal, Randak explained: "At its public meeting, under the glare of local and national television lights, the school board was told politely that the curriculum would not be altered." But he worried about what might happen in districts with a less supportive administration, writing, "Children crusading for creation science or 'intelligent design' in the name of fair play is a compelling idea to an unaware public. If the tactic is used successfully in school districts less ideal than ours, it will surely meet with success -- and science education will suffer." For the obituary in the Journal and Courier, visit: http://www.jconline.com/article/20110826/OBITS/108260321/Stephen-H-Randak For "The Children's Crusade for Creationism" as reprinted in RNCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/21/1-2/childrens-crusade-creation 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