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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/07/07

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new survey of public opinion on climate change is out. Plus a new
issue of Reports of the NCSE is available on-line, Turkey's removal of
evolution from the national curriculum may elicit a legal challenge,
and Florida's new antiscience law continues to attract attention.


Seven in ten Americans think that global warming is happening, and
almost three in five think that, if it is happening, it is mostly
owing to human activity, but only about one in eight know that nearly
all climate scientists agree that global warming is happening as a
result of human activity. Those were among the key findings of Climate
Change in the American Mind: May 2017.

Presented with a definition of global warming as "the idea that the
world's average temperature has been increasing over the past 150
years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world's
climate may change as a result" and asked whether they thought that
global warming is happening, 70% of respondents said yes, 13% said no,
and 16% indicated that they didn't know.

Asked about the cause of global warming, on the assumption that it is
happening, 58% of respondents said that it is caused mostly by human
activities, 30% said that it is caused mostly by natural changes in
the environment, 6% opted for "neither because global warming isn't
happening," and 6% volunteered that it was a mix of human activities
and natural causes.

Asked to indicate "what percentage of climate scientists think that
human-caused global warming is happening," only 13% selected a value
between 91% and 100% -- the correct range, as repeated independent
studies have demonstrated. The mean of the values selected by the
respondents was 67%; the median was 73%.

In a question used only since 2016, respondents were presented with
"Schools should teach our children about the causes, consequences, and
potential solutions to global warming": 78% agreed strongly (39%) or
somewhat (39%), while only 10% somewhat disagreed and only 11%
strongly disagreed.

The study was conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change
Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate
Change Communication. The surveys were administered in a web-based
environment from May 18 to June 6, 2017, using an on-line research
panel of 1266 American adults.

According to the report, the sample "includes a representative
cross-section of American adults -- irrespective of whether they have
Internet access, use only a cell phone, etc. Key demographic variables
were weighted, post survey, to match US Census Bureau norms." The
margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3% at the 95% confidence

For Climate Change in the American Mind (PDF), visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of polls and surveys on climate change, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the
National Center for Science Education is now available on-line. The
issue -- volume 37, number 3 -- is the seventh issue in the
newsletter's new, streamlined, and full-color format.

Featured are Jon Perry's guide to debating evolution on the Internet;
Randy Moore's discussion of a creationist museum in Broken Bow,
Nebraska; Brandie Freeman's reaction to the Heartland Institute's
climate denial propaganda campaign; Emily Schoerning's update on
NCSE's Science Booster Club program; and Matthew R. Kaser's review of
Nick Lane's The Vital Question.

The entire issue is freely available in PDF form from Members of NCSE will be receiving a printed 
copy in the mail shortly. (Not a member? Join today!)

For RNCSE 37:3 (PDF), visit: 

For information about joining NCSE, visit: 


The decision to remove evolution from Turkey's national curriculum is
going to be challenged in court, according to the Hurriyet Daily News
(July 2, 2017).

As NCSE previously reported, a revision of the national curriculum, in
which a unit entitled "The Origin of Life and Evolution" was replaced
with a unit entitled "Living Beings and the Environment," was recently
approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A representative of the
Education Ministry was quoted by the Hurriyet Daily News (June 22,
2017) as describing evolution and the origin of life as both too
difficult for ninth-grade students and as "controversial."

In response, Mehmet Balik, the chair of the Union of Education and
Science Workers, said, "Excluding the theory of evolution from the
curriculum ... destroys the principle of secularism and the scientific
principles of education. We will open a lawsuit against these
regulations and take these implementations to court." Feray Aytekin
Aydogan, the head of the Union of Education Workers, added, "There can
be no scientific education without talking about this lesson. Despite
every kind of ban, we will continue to lecture on evolution."

Kerem Cankoçak, a physicist at Istanbul Technical University, told
Voice of America (July 3, 2017), "In the high schools evolution was
already taught very badly, it was already being increasingly taught as
hypothesis rather than a theory, if it was mentioned at all. ... So
the complete removal of evolution was expected. Already I see many
students who don't know or refuse to accept it. But this latest change
is part of a wider plan, natural sciences, philosophy, social sciences
all cut back in the new curriculum."

The teaching of evolution has been periodically contentious in Turkey,
owing in part to the efforts of Islamic fundamentalist groups and

For the two stories from the Hurriyet Daily News, visit: 

For the story from the Voice of America, visit: 

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


Florida's new law making it easier for creationists and climate change
deniers to harass their local school districts continues to be in the

The law, as NCSE previously reported, allows any county resident --
not just parents as previously -- to challenge instructional materials
used in the public schools, and requires the school districts to
establish a formal process to hear such complaints, including
appointing an "unbiased and qualified hearing officer" not "an
employee or agent of the school district."

A columnist in the Palm Beach Post (June 29, 2017) described the
consequence: "every whackadoodle with an ideological ax to grind will
get the chance -- at taxpayer expense -- to attack the school
curriculum, and educators will have to defend modern scholarship. ...
[A] can of worms that's bound to make public education more

NCSE's Glenn Branch told the Washington Post (July 1, 2017) that
supporters of the enacted bill were clear that they sought to
challenge the teaching of evolution and climate change, alluding to
"the candor with which the backers of the bill have been saying,
'Yeah, we're going to go after evolution, we're going to go after
climate change.'"

The Post also quoted Florida Citizens for Science's Brandon Haught as
urging concerned Floridians to monitor local challenges to the
integrity of science education.

For the new law (PDF), visit: 

For the column in the Palm Beach Post and the article in the
Washington Post, visit: 

For Brandon Haught's blog post quoted by the Washington Post, visit: 

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


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Glenn Branch pondering a continuing misuse of a 1925 geology textbook: 

For NCSE's blog, 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.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

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