NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2012/09/07
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear friends of NCSE, A sign of progress in South Korea. NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott receives the Richard Dawkins award from the Atheist Alliance of America. NCSE's Mark McCaffrey and Joshua Rosenau argue that science literacy still matters. And reservations are now available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon.
PROGRESS IN SOUTH KOREA? A panel overseeing revisions to science textbooks in South Korea "reaffirmed that the theory of evolution is an essential part of modern science that all students must learn in school," according to a report in Nature (September 6, 2012). The panel was convened after it was announced that, owing to pressure from a creationist organization, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology instructed publishers to exclude discussions of the evolution of the horse and of Archaeopteryx -- favorite targets of creationists, including the "intelligent design" movement -- without consulting any biologists for their advice. Nature reported that on September 5, 2012, the panel concluded that Archaeopteryx should still be included but conceded that "the textbooks' explanation of the evolution of the horse was too simplistic and should be revised or replaced with a different example, such as the evolution of whales." Duckhwan Lee, the leader of the panel, told Nature that he hopes that the panel's work will improve the public's understanding of evolution, adding, "We welcome any petition in the future ... if it is regarding flaws in the evolution parts of science textbooks. But we do not want to waste our time if it has any religious implication." For the report in Nature, visit: http://www.nature.com/news/science-wins-over-creationism-in-south-korea-1.11377 And for NCSE's previous coverage of international events, visit: http://ncse.com/news/international NCSE'S SCOTT RECEIVES DAWKINS AWARD NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott received the Atheist Alliance of America's Richard Dawkins Award at the group's annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, on September 1, 2012. Unable to attend the ceremony in person, the namesake of the award began his video introduction by saying, "Eugenie Scott is one of my very favorite people, although we have our civilized disagreements, as I shall tell," and adding, "it's impossible to meet Genie without loving her, whether you agree with her or not." Scott began her acceptance speech by joking, "I now possess awards in the names of both Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins. This demonstrates that I can get along with everyone. Regardless of my historic amiability, however, I do not anticipate ever being presented with the Ken Ham award, if such exists." Scott concluded by saying, "it is with much feeling that I accept this award with Richard's name on it. It is meaningful to me and in some ways brings full circle a respect I have had for his influence on science and its significance to us as human beings. Not only in influencing my own understanding and teaching of evolutionary biology, but in my more recent career as director of NCSE, in trying to spread more broadly the understanding of evolution as a science, and to encourage people to think about it, regardless of the philosophical or religious system they embrace. ... I can't hold a candle to Richard when it comes to increasing scientific knowledge -- but I am honored to be considered, with him, to be a strong advocate of increasing the public understanding of that knowledge, and I join him in that important task." For Dawkins's video introduction, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgwaR7ExVdg For information about the Atheist Alliance of America, visit: http://atheistallianceamerica.org/ NCSE'S MCCAFFREY AND ROSENAU IN NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE "Science literacy still matters" -- a letter by NCSE's Mark McCaffrey and Joshua Rosenau -- was published in the journal Nature Climate Change (2012; 2:636). Responding to mischaracterizations in the media of a recent study finding that science literacy is negatively correlated with concern about climate change, they noted that the study in question failed to examine people's understanding of climate science in particular, and thus cannot be regarded as evidence that climate literacy efforts are fruitless. Different researchers have found a correlation between understanding of climate science in particular and concern about climate change, they added. McCaffrey and Rosenau observed, "in US schools, climate change is often skipped entirely and, if taught, is presented briefly or as a political controversy. ... Most students rely on their schools for climate change science and -- with rare exceptions -- they are not getting what they need." They concluded, "strategic framing, including minimizing doom and gloom by integrating science with solutions, is vital, especially in educational settings. But dismissing literacy as unimportant or irrelevant is wrong. Although literacy alone can't solve the climate problem, it provides society with the tools and shared basis for understanding the science and solutions before us." For McCaffrey and Rosenau's letter (subscription required), visit: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n9/full/nclimate1644.html And for NCSE's resources on climate education, visit: http://ncse.com/climate NCSE AND THE GRAND CANYON 2013 Explore the Grand Canyon with NCSE! Reservations are now available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured in the documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven. From July 15 to 23, 2013, NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott and Steve Newton. Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of the Grand Canyon (maybe not entirely seriously) and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the short videos filmed during the 2011 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube site. The cost of the excursion is $2530; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot. Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now. For further information about the excursion, visit: http://ncse.com/about/excursions/gcfaq For information about No Dinosaurs in Heaven, visit: http://www.nodinos.com/ For NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd And for contact information for NCSE, visit: http://ncse.com/contact 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