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NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/09/30

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Three exciting opportunities for teachers, a new poll on evolution and
climate change, and the winners of NCSE's bumper sticker contest.

ATTENTION, TEACHERS!

Three exciting opportunities for teachers for the month of October, in
the form of two webcast symposia on human evolution and a chance to
have a visit from the Darwin Day Roadshow!

First, Bones, Stones, and Genes: The Origin of Modern Humans -- the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Holiday Lectures on Science for 2011
-- will be webcast on October 6 and 7, 2011. The lectures will address
such questions as: Where and when did humans arise? What distinguishes
us from other species? Did our distant ancestors look and behave like
us? Featured are NCSE Supporter Tim White of the University of
California, Berkeley, speaking on "Human evolution and the nature of
science"; Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania speaking on
"Genetics of human origins and adaptation"; John Shea of Stony Brook
University speaking on "Stone tools and the evolution of human
behavior"; and White again on "Hominid paleobiology." To view the
webcast, register on-line with HHMI.

Second, Changing Humans in a Changing Environment -- a symposium on
evolution sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences
and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center at the National
Association of Biology Teachers professional development conference in
Anaheim -- will be webcast on October 14, 2011. Featured are Rick
Potts of the Smithsonian Institution speaking on "Evolution in an era
of dramatic climate change"; Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University
speaking on "What can chimpanzees tell us about human evolution?";
Susan Antón of New York University speaking on "Becoming human in a
changing world: the early evolution of Homo"; and John Hawks of the
University of Wisconsin, Madison, speaking on "New discoveries from
ancient genomes." To view the webcast, visit NESCent's website.

Third, the Darwin Day Roadshow is returning! The Roadshow is a project
of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, in which NESCent staff
shares their enthusiasm for evolutionary science with students,
teachers, and the general public on the occasion of Charles Darwin's
birthday, February 12. In 2011, the Roadshow visited nineteen schools
across the country. As NESCent's Craig McClain wrote at Miller-McCune
(May 15, 2011), "for all of us the Darwin Day Road Show was a
gratifying adventure that no one will forget. From the landscapes with
their silos, combines, center pivot crop circles, high school
gymnasiums, to the indelible interactions we had along the way, we
absorbed it all." And applications to host the Roadshow in 2012 are
now being accepted -- act soon, though; the application deadline is
October 31, 2011.

For information on Bones, Stones, and Genes, visit:
http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/ 

For information on Changing Humans in a Changing Environment, visit:
http://www.nescent.org/media/NABTSymposium2011.php 

For information on the Darwin Day Roadshow, visit:
http://roadshow.nescent.org/ 
http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/scientists-take-charles-darwin-on-the-road-31211/ 

A NEW POLL ON EVOLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

A new poll asked respondents about their views on evolution and
climate change, what they regard the scientific consensus on those
topics to be, and whether it matters to them whether candidates for
president share their views. The poll was designed and conducted by
the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the
Religion News Service.

On the topic of evolution, 57% of respondents said that "Humans and
other living things have evolved over time" came closest to their
view, while 38% preferred "Humans and other living things have existed
in their present form since creation," 1% volunteered different
responses, and 4% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the
question. (In a 2009 poll from the Pew Research Center for the People
& the Press, 61% of respondents from the general public preferred
"Humans and other living things have evolved over time." The
discrepancy between the results may be due in part to a difference in
the wording of the alternative: where the PRRI/RNS poll refers to
"creation," the Pew Research Center poll refers to the less overtly
religious "the beginning of time." )

The distribution of opinion among political positions and religious
affiliations in the PRRI/RNS poll was broadly consistent with that
reported in previous polls and surveys. PRRI noted, "More than 6-in-10
political independents (61%) and Democrats (64%) affirm a belief in
evolution, compared to 45% of Republicans and 43% of Americans who
identify with the Tea Party," adding, "Nearly two-thirds (66%) of
white mainline Protestants, 61% of Catholics, and 77% of the
unaffiliated believe humans and other living things evolved over time,
compared to only about one-third (32%) of white evangelicals. African
American Protestants are evenly divided on the question, with 47%
affirming a belief in evolution and 46% affirming a belief in
creationism."

Among those who accepted evolution, 53% preferred "Humans and other
things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural
selection," 38% preferred "A supreme being guided the evolution of
living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the
form it exists today," 3% volunteered different responses, and 6% said
that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. Of those who
rejected evolution, 50% agreed with "humans and other living things
were created within the last 10,000 years," 39% disagreed, and 12%
said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. PRRI
noted, "White evangelical Protestants (33%) and Americans who identify
with the Tea Party (31%) were significantly more likely" to agree with
the 10,000-year option.

On climate change, 69% of respondents said that they believe that
"there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has
been getting warmer over the past few decades," with 26% saying that
they did not believe it, 2% volunteering that there is some or mixed
evidence, and 3% saying that they didn't know or refusing to answer
the question. Among those who believed that there is evidence (whether
solid or mixed), 64% said that "[c]limate change is caused mostly by
human activity such as burning fossil fuels" came closest to their
view, while 32% preferred "[c]limate change is caused mostly by
natural patterns in the earth's environment" instead, and 4% said that
they didn't know or refused to answer the question.

Asked "do scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time,
are scientists divided, or do scientists generally disagree that
humans evolved over time," 51% of respondents said that scientists
agree, 26% said that scientists were divided, 15% said that scientists
disagreed, and 9% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the
question. Similarly, asked "do scientists generally agree that the
earth is getting warmer because of human activity, are scientists
divided, or do scientists generally disagree that the earth is getting
warmer because of human activity," 40% of respondents said that
scientists agree, 37% said that scientists were divided, 15% said that
scientists disagreed, and 8% said that they didn't know or refused to
answer the question.

Asked whether, and if so how, a presidential candidate's rejection of
evolution would affect the likelihood that they would vote for him or
her, 13% of respondents said that they would be more likely to vote
for a candidate who "[d]oes not believe in evolution," 32% said that
they would be less likely, 53% said that it would not make a
difference, and 2% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the
question. Similarly, 9% of respondents said that they would be more
likely to vote for a candidate who "[d]oes not believe climate change
is caused by human activity," 36% said that they would be less likely,
54% said that it would not make a difference, and 2% said that they
didn't know or refused to answer the question.

According to PRRI, ?Results of the survey were based on bilingual
(Spanish and English) random digit dial telephone interviews conducted
between September 14, 2011 and September 18, 2011, by professional
interviewers ? The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.0
percentage points at the 95% level of confidence."

For the PRRI/RNS poll (PDF), visit:
http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/September-PRRI-RNS-Topline-Results-Questionnaire-and-Survey-Methodology-.pdf 

For the Pew Research Center poll (PDF), visit:
http://people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/528.pdf 

For a press release about the PRRI/RNS poll, visit:
http://publicreligion.org/newsroom/2011/09/news-release-climate-change-evolution-2012/ 

THE WINNERS OF NCSE'S BUMPER STICKER CONTEST

We asked you to submit your ideas for a new NCSE bumper sticker, to
speak loud, speak proud, for evolution -- and by golly you did.

NCSE headquarters was flooded with almost 550 entries from almost 150
people, including sixty entries from a single indefatigable sloganeer.
After days of statistical analysis and rigorous peer-review, we are
pleased to congratulate the winners -- David Cone, Tom Griffiths,
Michael Keller, Tania Lombrozo, Jerry Newton, Bill Pogson, S. Michael
Smith, Drew Weller, and a few who preferred not to be identified --
who received such fabulous prizes as a Charles Darwin bobblehead from
Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Zoology, a DVD
of Greta Schiller's documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven, and NCSE's
famous "my ancestors" t-shirt, suitable for all occasions. Thanks to
all who participated in the contest.

And where are the slogans? For that, you'll have to wait for the new
stickers to be designed and advertised! So keep your eyes on
http://ncse.com. 

For information on the fabulous prizes, visit:
http://www.zoology.siu.edu/darwinbobblehead.html 
http://www.nodinos.com/ 
http://ncse.com/ncsestore 

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
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

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http://reports.ncse.com 

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