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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/08/24

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A pair of interviews with Eugenie C. Scott on science denial. Renewed
concern about the public funding of private schools that teach
creationism in Louisiana. And a glimpse of Global Weirdness.


NCSE's executive director was recently interviewed twice about science
denial in on-line venues.

Speaking to Liza Gross for KQED's Quest series (August 21, 2012),
Scott discussed the similarities between those who reject vaccines and
those who reject evolution and climate change. In all of these cases
of science anomalies, she explained, there is a tendency to construe
anomalies as disproving accepted scientific views, motivated by
religious or political ideologies or -- as with vaccination -- concern
for their children. Noting that only a few are diehard science
denialists, Scott commented, "I think we shouldn?t abandon the people
who are in that one segment of society who are bound and determined
not to accept vaccinations but we should really focus our attention
more on keeping people from slipping down into that category.
Certainly, that?s what we?ve done with evolution and that?s what we
are likely to be doing with climate change as well."

Speaking to Paul Fidalgo for the Committee for Scientific Inquiry
(August 22, 2012), Scott addressed the continuities and changes in the
antievolution movement. "I am not surprised we're still dealing with
attacks on evolution: It is a topic that generates a great deal of
emotion, and that can prevent people from listening to the scientific
evidence," she commented, but added, "this is not your grandfather's
creationism." Tennessee's new antiscience law, which encourages
teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific
weaknesses" of topics such as evolution and climate change, is a case
in point, she explained. The law presents these "as if they were
topics that were of questionable validity in science. They may be
controversial to the general public, but they certainly are not
controversial among scientists."

Recent video interviews of NCSE staff are available at the Recent
Interviews playlist on NCSE's YouTube channel.

For the KQED interview, visit: 

For the CSI interview, visit: 

And for NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: 


The Baton Rouge Advocate (August 16, 2012) editorially excoriated
Louisiana's controversial new voucher program for its funding of
schools that "not only teach creationist nonsense, but are proud of
it." As NCSE previously reported, the voucher program uses public
school funds to pay for tuition and certain fees at private schools
for students who attend low-performing public schools and whose family
income is below 250% of the federal poverty level. But as Zack Kopplin
told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its July
2012 meeting, at least 19 of the 119 schools slated to benefit from
the program apparently teach creationism instead of or along with

As a result, as Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at
Southeastern Louisiana University, a founder of the Louisiana
Coalition for Science, and a member of NCSE's board of directors, told
the Advocate, "What [students] are going to be getting financed with
public money is phony science. They're going to be getting religion
instead of science." Alluding to a textbook published by Accelerated
Christian Education, the editorial noted, "Among the dubious
assertions of creationist pseudo-science is that evolution is called
into question by sightings of the Loch Ness monster, a 'dinosaur'
living in the modern age -- according to those who believe in the Loch
Ness myth."

Quoting the state superintendent of schools, John White, as saying "If
students are failing the test, we're going to intervene, and the test
measures evolution," the editorial retorted, "The state has no
intention, apparently, of launching any serious investigation of the
Loch Ness monster in school curriculums. Instead, it will pay and pay,
for years, and -- if students do poorly on science tests at some
future date -- the state Department of Education might raise the
question of why mythology is part of a school?s curriculum," adding,
"A more-effective way would be for the department to open its eyes to
this kind of educational malpractice before children?s futures are

The voucher program is presently under legal challenge from the
Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of
Teachers along with a number of local school boards. But the issue of
the state's funding the teaching of creationism is not part of the
challenge. Rather, as the New Orleans Times-Picayune (July 10, 2012)
explained, "Two key issues are at play in the voucher suit: whether
providing private schools with money from the Minimum Foundation
Program violates the [Louisiana state] constitution by redirecting
those funds from public schools, and whether a last-minute vote
setting the new MFP formula in place received enough support in the
state House to carry the force of law."

For the editorial in the Baton Rouge Advocate, visit: 

For the story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Climate Central's Global
Weirdness (Pantheon, 2012). The preview consists of the introduction
to the book, which explains that it is intended "to lay out the
current state of knowledge about climate change, with explanations of
the underlying science given in clear and simple language," and
chapter 4, "Dinosaurs Didn't Drive Gas-Guzzlers or Use
Air-Conditioning," which reviews the natural influences on climate,
concluding, "However, the fact that something can happen naturally
doesn't mean it's always natural."

Global Weirdness was written by Emily Elert and Michael D. Lemonick,
but produced collectively by scientists and journalists at Climate
Central, a nonprofit, nonpartisan science and journalism organization
that conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the
public of key findings. The reviewer for Booklist wrote, in a starred
review of Global Weirdness, "Without talking down to readers, the
authors do a masterful job of clarifying all aspects of a complicating
and alarming topic, making it that much more difficult from
global-warming denialists to keep their heads in the sand."

For the preview of Global Weirdness (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 

For information on Climate Central, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


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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