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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/11/25

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Sad news of Lynn Margulis's death. And the contents of Evolution:
Education and Outreach are freely available on-line through the end of
the year.


The eminent biologist Lynn Margulis died on November 22, 2011, at the
age of 73, according to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Born Lynn Alexander in Chicago on March 5, 1938, she enrolled in the
University of Chicago at the age of fourteen. She received her A.B. in
liberal arts from the University of Chicago in 1957, a joint master's
degree in zoology and genetics from the University of Wisconsin in
1960, and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California,
Berkeley, in 1963. After a stint as a post-doctoral researcher at
Brandeis University, she spent twenty-two years in the Department of
Biology at Boston University before moving to the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst, where she was Distinguished University
Professor. Among her honors and awards were membership in the National
Academy of Sciences, the William Procter Prize for Scientific
Achievement from Sigma Xi, the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean
Society, and the National Medal of Science. A prolific writer (often
in collaboration with her son Dorion Sagan), her books include Origin
of Eukaryotic Cells (Yale University Press 1970), Origins of Sex (Yale
University Press, 1986), Microcosmos (HarperCollins, 1987), Slanted
Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution (Springer, 1997),
Symbiotic Planet (Basic Books, 1998), and Acquiring Genomes (Basic
Books, 2002).

Margulis was perhaps most celebrated for her advocacy of the
endosymbiotic theory of the origin of organelles, starting with her
paper "On the origin of mitosing cells," published in the Journal of
Theoretical Biology in 1967. The endosymbiotic theory is now generally
accepted for mitochondria and chloroplasts, if not for all of the
organelles that Margulis thought. She was also known for her advocacy
of the Gaia hypothesis and symbiogenesis, the idea that speciation is
driven largely by symbiosis. Her proclivity for such unconventional
evolutionary mechanisms allowed her to be steadily misrepresented by
antievolutionists hoping to convince the public that evolution is a
theory in crisis. But Margulis firmly rejected creationism, writing,
for example, "Anthropocentric writers with a proclivity for the
miraculous and a commitment to divine intervention tend to attribute
historical appearances like eyes, wings, and speech to 'irreducible
complexity' (as, for example, Michael Behe does in his book, Darwin's
Black Box) or 'ingenious design' (in the tradition of William Paley
who used the functional organs of animals as proof for the existence
of God). Here we feel no need for supernatural hypotheses. Rather, we
insist that today, more than ever, it is the growing scientific
understanding of how new traits appear, ones even as complex as the
vertebrate eye, that has triumphed" (Acquiring Genomes, p. 202). She
was a Supporter of NCSE.

For the obituary from the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, visit: 


Evolution: Education and Outreach -- the new journal aspiring to
promote accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of
evolutionary theory for a wide audience -- will be freely available
through December 31, 2011, thanks to the generosity of its publisher,
Springer. Edited by Niles Eldredge (who received NCSE's Friend of
Darwin award in 2011) and Greg Eldredge, Evolution: Education and
Outreach quickly became a hub for thoughtful discussion of evolution
education, with a host of scientific articles, curriculum and
education articles, editorials, viewpoint articles, and reviews of
books and other media. And now you can access it all -- for the rest
of the year.

NCSE is amply represented, of course: NCSE's regular column,
Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education; Louise S. Mead and Anton
Mates's "Why Science Standards are Important to a Strong Science
Curriculum and How States Measure Up"; Mick Wycoff's interview of
NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott; Steven Newton's review of
Ralph O'Connor's The Earth on Show; and the special issue, edited by
Glenn Branch, of the journal commemorating Eugenie C. Scott's
sixty-fifth birthday, including essays by Brian Alters, Barbara
Forrest, Robert M. Hazen, Lawrence M. Krauss, Kenneth R. Miller, Kevin
Padian, and Robert T. Pennock.

For the contents of Evolution: Education and Outreach, 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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