NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2013/01/11
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, Science Friday's suit against a creationist imitator is settled, and the second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standard is now available for inspection and comment. Plus a preview of the new edition of How to Build a Habitable Planet, and NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott argues for the importance of understanding evolution, adaptation, and phenotype in Frontiers in Evolutionary and Population Genetics.
TRADEMARK SUIT AGAINST CREATIONISTS SETTLED The suit against the operators of a right-wing radio show that features a creationist segment was settled in a federal court on December 28, 2012. As NCSE previously reported, in mid-November 2012, ScienceFriday Inc., which produces the NPR show Science Friday, filed suit against Bob Enyart -- who describes himself as "America's most popular self-proclaimed right-wing religious fanatic homophobic anti-choice talk show host" -- as well as his company Bob Enyart Inc. and his cohost Fred Williams of trademark infringement and cybersquatting. ScienceFriday was particularly concerned by the title of the creationist segment: Real Science Friday. The suit was originally filed in a state court but was then transferred to a federal court in late November 2012. As the court was beginning to schedule oral hearings on ScienceFriday's request for a preliminary injunction to prevent Enyart's alleged infringement on its trademarks, however, the parties reached a settlement. On December 28, 2012, the court ordered the case to be dismissed with prejudice (so ScienceFriday cannot file suit again) but without costs. The settlement agreement was filed under seal, so its terms are not public. Significantly, however, the phrase "Real Science Friday" seems to have been scrubbed from the website for what is now called Real Science Radio. For NCSE's previous coverage of the suit, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2012/11/creationists-trademark-suit-0014635 NGSS, TAKE TWO The second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards is available on-line — and your feedback is invited. The NGSS are intended to be "rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education." The second draft will be available on-line for feedback from January 8, 2013 to January 29, 2013. After the writing team reacts to the review, a final draft is expected in the winter of 2013, with the final version of the standards released for adoption thereafter. The second public draft of the NGSS is "the result of the first public feedback, lead state and non-lead state feedback, National Science Teacher Association (NSTA), and national and local critical stakeholder feedback." Appendix B to the draft summarizes the public feedback and the response. According to the appendix, "A small number of reviewers asked that evolution not be included in the standards." The response was, "Evolution was identified in the Framework as the basis for understanding all the natural sciences. As such it was included in the NGSS." Feedback about the treatment of climate change in the standards was not mentioned. As with the National Research Council's 2011 A Framework for K-12 Science Education, on which it is based, the second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards is not reticent about evolution and climate change. In life sciences, Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity is one of four main topics at the high school level and the middle school level. Similarly, in earth and space sciences, Earth and Human Activity is one of three main topics at the high school level and the middle school level. For information on the NGSS, visit: http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards A PREVIEW OF HOW TO BUILD A HABITABLE PLANET NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker's How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind (Princeton University Press, 2012). The preview consists of chapter 20, "Mankind at the Helm: Human Civilization in a Planetary Context," in which Langmuir and Broecker write, "Because of our influence, we live in a time of profound and rapid planetary change. Human actions have modified climate and the oceans and may end in global catastrophe, not only for other species but also for our own." A thoroughly revised and generously expanded edition of the classic introduction to the origin and evolution of our planet, How to Build a Habitable Planet was praised by the reviewer for Nature Geoscience as "a completely different book, wholly updated but also more detailed and more comprehensive. Yet, it keeps the bright flavour of the old version, and remains accessible without compromising on accuracy." Charles H. Langmuir is the Higgins Professor of Geochemistry at Harvard University; Wally Broecker is the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. For the preview of How to Build a Habitable Planet (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/book-excerpt For information about the book from its publisher, visit: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9691.html EUGENIE C. SCOTT: "THIS I BELIEVE" NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott contributed a "This I believe" op-ed to Frontiers in Evolutionary and Population Genetics. "I believe that there are three genetics-related concepts that, if taught properly, would greatly improve the biological literacy of our fellow citizens," Scott wrote, selecting evolution ("the big idea of biology"), adaptation, and phenotype. In addition to the scientific importance of these concepts, Scott emphasized their civic relevance. With regard to phenotype, for example, she wrote, "Consider the recent election season, in which there were a fair number of women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates for office. How often did you encounter, explicitly or implicitly, the misguided idea that their genetically-based characteristics either qualified or disqualified them? Such incidents remind us how useful the concept of phenotype actually is." Scott concluded, "Evolution, adaptation, and phenotype. If teachers could do a better job teaching these concepts, Americans would be more biologically literate, which -- dare I hope? -- might lead to more thoughtful conclusions about what it means to be human." Her essay appeared on the journal's website on January 2, 2013. For Scott's op-ed, visit: http://www.frontiersin.org/Evolutionary_and_Population_Genetics/10.3389/fgene.2012.00303/full 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