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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

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.


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: 

For the 12/29/2009 story in the Los Angeles Times, visit: 

For the 8/29/2011 story in the Los Angeles Times, visit: 

For the CSC Foundation's statement (PDF), visit: 

For the story in ScienceInsider, visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: 


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: 

For "The Children's Crusade for Creationism" as reprinted in RNCSE, 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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