NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2012/04/27
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Michael E. Mann receives the Oeschger Medal from the EGU and NCSE's Scott receives the Lasker Award from the AAPA. And the repeal effort fails in Louisiana by a close margin.
MANN HONORED BY EGU NCSE is delighted to congratulate Michael E. Mann on receiving the European Geoscience Union's Hans Oeschger Medal for 2012, in honor of "his significant contributions to understanding decadal-centennial scale climate change over the last two millennia and for pioneering techniques to synthesize patterns and northern hemispheric time series of past climate using proxy data reconstructions." The citation explains, "Mann deserves the award on the basis of his important contributions to the understanding of climate change over the last two millennia but also for pioneering statistical techniques for isolating climate signals in noisy data," adding, "Mann?s climate reconstruction of the last 1000 years is popularly known as the 'Hockey Stick' and gave tremendous impetus to the study of historical climate change, even though some questions remains about the magnitude of these past changes. By doing so, he had to face escalating political and personal attacks. ... Mann exemplifies the courage that Oeschger hoped scientists should have, another reason for him to deserve the Oeschger Medal." A member of NCSE, Mann is Professor of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University and the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (Columbia University Press, 2012). For information about the medal from the EGU, visit: http://www.egu.eu/awards-medals/award/hans-oeschger/2012/michael-mann.html For information about The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, visit: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15254-9/the-hockey-stick-and-the-climate-wars NCSE'S SCOTT HONORED BY AAPA NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was presented with the Gabriel W. Lasker Service Award by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists at the organization's 81st annual meeting, held April 11 through April 14, 2012, in Portland, Oregon. The award, named after the late Gabriel W. Lasker, was established in 2005 to recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated a history of excellence in service to the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, its members, and/or the field of physical anthropology. Scott served the AAPA in a number of capacities, including as its president from 2001 to 2003. But NCSE's Eric Meikle, speaking at the presentation ceremony, observed that her "greatest significance for physical anthropology, and all of evolutionary biology, has been her role as executive director of the National Center for Science Education since 1986. Over the last quarter of a century, she has become the leading national figure defending the teaching of evolution in public schools and opposing attempts to insert any form of creationism into science classes." "It is no coincidence that so many of NCSE's strongest supporters have been physical anthropologists," Meikle continued. "After all, it is the horror and revulsion provoked by the specter of human evolution which is at the root of all religiously-based opposition to evolution generally. Physical anthropologists are in the front lines of this struggle and are generally more conscious of its serious nature than many other biological scientists." He concluded, "Genie has made dealing with this opposition her day job so that you don't have to. This is our thanks to her." For the AAPA's website, visit: http://physanth.org/ REPEAL EFFORT FAILS IN LOUISIANA Louisiana's Senate Bill 374 was rejected on a 2-1 vote in the Senate Committee on Education on April 19, 2012, according to the Alexandria Town Talk (April 19, 2012). Three senators were absent and the chair abstained. The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science to be taught in the state's public schools. The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education administrators to help to promote "critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning"; these four topics were described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation. It also allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner" if so permitted by their local school boards. Since 2008, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the law's provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary materials, but have also reportedly invoked the law to support proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes -- Livingston and Tangipahoa -- and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks proposed for adoption by the state. Meanwhile, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology urged Louisianans to repeal the law in 2008, and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology decided to hold its conferences elsewhere while the law remains on the books. At the hearing, Zack Kopplin, a first-year student at Rice University who launched the repeal effort while a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, told the committee that the law was hurting Louisiana's reputation. Kevin Carman, the dean of Louisiana State University's Department of Science, confirmed it, saying that two scientists he was trying to recruit to the university cited the law as their reason not to accept and one scientist already at LSU departed because of worries about the quality of his children's science education. "Teaching pseudo-science drives scientists away," Carman said. In a press release, Kopplin expressed optimism about the future of the repeal effort, noting that the identical Senate Bill 70, introduced by Peterson in 2011, was tabled by the Senate Education Committee on a 5-1 vote. Kopplin also observed that the support of the scientific community for the repeal effort continues to grow: "The repeal effort has the unprecedented support of 78 Nobel laureate scientists -- 40% of all living Nobel laureate scientists in physics, chemistry, or physiology or medicine." A list of the Nobelists endorsing the effort is available at Kopplin's repealcreationism website. Also endorsing the repeal effort were the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. For the text of Louisiana's Senate Bill 374 (PDF), visit: http://legis.la.gov/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=779058 For the article in the Alexandria Town Talk, visit: http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20120420/NEWS01/204200317 For the list of endorsers of the repeal effort, visit: http://www.repealcreationism.com/endorsements/ And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: http://ncse.com/news/louisiana 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 and climate education and threats to them. -- 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