BCSE mentioned in the NCSE-News update (02/11/2006)

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BCSE mentioned in the NCSE-News update (02/11/2006)

Postby Anonymous » Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:15 am

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A summary of recent creationism/evolution controversies around the world,
while in Kansas, evolution education is still a factor in electoral
campaigns. And kudos for Eugenie C. Scott from the American
Anthropological Association.

CREATIONIST NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Although the United States remains the bastion of creationism, the rest of
the world is not invulnerable. Creationism is a worldwide phenomenon, in
which antievolutionary materials produced by the centers of creationism in
the United States are exported overseas, either wholesale or with
modifications to suit the local milieu; often there is reimportation, as
creationists overseas become major players in their own right and are then
welcomed by the legions of creationists in the United States. (The
young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis is a case in point:
based in Florence, Kentucky, its chief executive officer is the Australian
Ken Ham.) Perhaps owing to the spate of media coverage of recent defeats
for creationism in the United States -- the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover
in December 2005, the Ohio state board of education's removal of the
"critical analysis of education" lesson plan in February 2006, and the
primary election results for the Kansas state board of education in August
2006 -- stories about evolution education and attempts to compromise it
have been in the news around the world.

In Canada, the Quebec Ministry of Education is launching a crackdown on
unlicensed evangelical schools, following a complaint from Pierre Daoust,
director-general of the Commission Scolaire au Coeur-des-Vallees in Thurso,
Quebec, about the failure of such schools to follow the provincial
curriculum. Daoust told the National Post (October 24, 2006), "these
evangelical schools teach their own courses on creationism and sexuality
that don't follow the Quebec curriculum." There are at least thirty
unlicensed religious schools in the province; according to the National
Post, "[t]he Quebec government has known about unaccredited religion-based
schools for years, but has tolerated them for fear of offending the
denominations sponsoring them." Education minister Jean-Marc Fournier told
the Toronto Globe and Mail (October 26, 2006), "Schools that have a permit
must of course follow the curriculum, which includes the teaching of
Darwin's theory of evolution." In neighboring Ontario, the National Post
reported, independent schools are not required to teach either evolution or
sex education.

For the story in the National Post, visit:
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news ... 6fa&k=4546

For the story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, visit:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ ... ional/home

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair downplayed the threat of
creationism in British public education, telling New Scientist (November 1,
2006), "I've visited one of the schools in question and as far as I'm aware
they are teaching the curriculum in a normal way. If I notice creationism
become the mainstream of the education system in this country then that's
the time to start worrying." Blair was referring to schools such as those
run by the Emmanuel Schools Foundation in a public/private partnership
program, which have been in the headlines since 2002 for teaching
creationism alongside evolution. Unmentioned were a recent propaganda
blitz by a new creationist organization styling itself Truth in Science
(see the story in The Times Education Supplement [September 29, 2006]), the
chilly response from the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and
the activities of anticreationist organizations such as the British Centre
for Science Education. Not to be missed is a recent detailed discussion in
the Financial Times (October 14, 2006) of the prospects of creationism in
the United Kingdom.

For New Scientist's interview with Tony Blair, visit:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... -full.html

For the story in The Times Education Supplement, visit:
http://www.tes.co.uk/2289180

For the Secretary of State for Education and Skills's response, visit:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 1021001582

For the British Centre for Science Education, visit:
http://www.bcseweb.org.uk

And for the article in the Financial Times, visit:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/aa7dcb90-5b20-1 ... e2340.html

In Germany, the vice president of the Association of German Biologists,
Ulrich Kutschera of the University of Kassel, is expressing concern about
creationism after recent comments from the education minister of the state
of Hesse, Karin Wolff. In October, Deutsche Welle (November 2, 2006)
reports, "Wolff said she believed biblical creation theory should be taught
in biology class as a theory, like the theory of evolution." Kutschera, a
leading German evolutionary biologist, retorted, "Ms. Wolff should catch up
on things and read a science book," adding, "On the one hand there are
creationist myths, and on the other hand, there is evolutionary
biology." A previous report in Deutsche Welle (December 21, 2005)
discussed the attempted inroads of the "intelligent design" movement in
Germany; although a German educational spokesperson insisted, "Evolution is
taught in biology class in all German schools ... There are no endeavors to
change this, nor will there be in the foreseeable future," Kutschera
warned, "More emphasis is necessary on biology in German schools in order
to counteract the lack of knowledge about evolution."

For the articles in Deutsche Welle, visit:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,214 ... 54,00.html
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,214 ... 44,00.html

In Poland, the journal Nature (October 25, 2006) reports, Mirosaw
Orzechowski, Poland's deputy education minister, told a newspaper, "The
theory of evolution is a lie ... It is an error we have legalized as a
common truth." Orzechowski belongs to the League of Polish Families (LPR),
which Nature describes as "the ultra-right-wing coalition partner in the
conservative Polish government." Although the minister for education,
Roman Giertych, also a member of the LPR, is reportedly sympathetic to
creationism, the Associated Press reported (October 26, 2006) him as
saying, "As long as most scientists in our country say that evolution is
the right theory, it will be taught in Poland's schools," and as describing
Orzechowski's outburst as his private opinion. In the meantime, the
minister of science, Micha Seweryski, stated, "the opinion of a minority
will not change teaching in schools." The Polish scientific community
expressed its support of evolution education in open letters condemning
Orzechowski; Maciej Zylicz, a signatory, told Nature, "However, the point
that really requires further discussion is not evolution, but how a
minister can say such stupid things."

For the article in Nature (subscription required), visit:
http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061023/ ... 3890c.html

For the Associated Press article (via the International Herald-Tribune), visit:
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/ ... lution.php

In Kenya, the National Museums are under pressure by fundamentalist
churches to de-emphasize their famous collection of hominid fossils, which
include the most complete skeleton yet found of Homo erectus ("Turkana
Boy"), unearthed by Richard Leakey's team in 1984. Bishop Bonifes Adoyo,
chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, which claims to represents
churches of 35 denominations with 9 million members, told the Telegraph
(August 12, 2006), "Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes, and we
have grave concerns that the museum wants to enhance the prominence of
something presented as fact which is just one theory." Leakey responded,
"The National Museums of Kenya should be extremely strong in presenting a
very forceful case for the evolutionary theory of the origins of mankind,"
adding, "it must be forthright in defending its right to be at the
forefront of this branch of science." The Nairobi Museum Galleries are
presently closed for renovation; Wired News (September 18, 2006) reports
that the museums plan "to prominently house the [hominid] collection as
'scientific evidence' of evolution when it re-opens in 2007, a
representative said."

For the story in the Telegraph, visit:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... akey12.xml

For the Wired News story, visit:
http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,717 ... _culture_3

Finally, in his contribution to a special issue of Nature (November 1,
2006) focusing on science in the Islamic world, Ehsan Masood writes, "In
the late nineteenth century, Darwin's On the Origin of Species had a
favourable reception in Muslim countries. But that is history, as books,
pamphlets and films on creationism are now more popular in Muslim
countries, and pro-evolution scientists are afraid to speak out." Because
much of the creationist material circulating in the Islamic world is
adapted from fundamentalist Christian sources in the United States, NCSE's
Nick Matzke observed, "I find it peculiar that Muslims are adopting a
doctrine from US groups that regularly bash Islam in a fairly vicious
way." Nature's website links to a debate between Matzke and Islamic
"intelligent design" proponent Mustafa Aykol on a Muslim on-line forum --
"a first for all concerned," Masood quipped. (Also of possible interest
are two 1999 articles on creationism in Turkey published in Reports of the
NCSE: Umit Sayin and Aykut Kence's "Islamic Scientific Creationism: A New
Challenge in Turkey" and Taner Edis's "Cloning Creationism in Turkey.")

For Masood's article in Nature, visit:
http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061030/ ... 4022a.html

For the Matzke/Aykol debate, visit:
http://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue ... tID=QYL0zb

For the articles in Reports of the NCSE, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/newsletter.asp?curiss=15

And why not subscribe to Reports? Visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/membership.asp

EVOLUTION EDUCATION STILL A FACTOR IN KANSAS ELECTIONS

As the November 7, 2006, general election approaches, evolution education
continues to be a factor in campaigns across Kansas, even though the
results of the August primary election practically guarantee a reversal of
the state board of education's November 2005 decision to adopt a set of
state science standards that was rewritten, under the guidance of local
"intelligent design" activists, to impugn the scientific standing of
evolution. In the primary election, Sally Cauble, a supporter of evolution
education, defeated antievolution incumbent Connie Morris for the
Republican nomination in District 5, and Jana Shaver, a supporter of
evolution education, defeated antievolution candidate Brad Patzer,
son-in-law of antievolution incumbent Iris Van Meter, for the Republican
nomination in District 9. Since Cauble and Shaver's Democratic opponents,
Tim Cruz and Kent Runyan, also support evolution education, supporters of
evolution education are expected to have a 6-4 majority on the board, no
matter who prevails in the November election.

As a columnist in the Kansas City Star (August 21, 2006), observed,
however, "There's still time for voters to make the board's new moderate
majority stronger still. Board members Ken Willard of Hutchinson and John
Bacon of Olathe survived their GOP primaries." Willard, a Republican
representing District 7, is facing a challenge from Democrat Jack Wempe;
Bacon, a Republican representing District 3, is facing a challenge from
Democrat Don Weiss. Both Willard and Bacon were avid supporters of the
antievolution version of the standards, a decision that continues to
attract comment. For example, the Kansas City Star (October 28, 2006),
endorsing Weiss and Wempe, described Willard and Bacon as having excited
"national ridicule for voting to criticize the theory of evolution in state
science standards," while the Johnson County Sun (October 12, 2006),
endorsing Weiss, castigated Bacon and his allies for their "antics on
evolution instruction," which were "an embarrassment for Kansas around the
world."

Evolution education is also emerging as relevant to the gubernatorial
race. Incumbent governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, is promising to
press for a constitutional amendment to change the state board of education
to a purely advisory body, citing in particular the controversy over the
place of evolution in the state science standards. Suggesing that the
controversy frustrates the state's attempts to attract the bioscience
industry, she told the Topeka Capital-Journal (October 11, 2006), "It
doesn't give a whole lot of confidence in coming to Kansas." Her
Republican opponent, Jim Barnett, reportedly supported the board's adoption
of the antievolution version of the standards, commenting, "In a free
society, it should be perfectly acceptable to question what is taught and
to allow for differences of opinion." The Wichita Eagle's blog (October
21, 2006), subsequently reported Barnett as saying "I believe in
evolution," and affirming that he has no problem reconciling evolution with
his religious faith.

For the column in the Kansas City Star, visit:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit ... 321363.htm

For the Kansas City Star's endorsements, visit:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit ... 868219.htm

For the Johnson County Sun's endorsement, visit:
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 5728&rfi=6

For the story in the Topeka Capital-Journal, visit:
http://www.cjonline.com/stories/101106/ ... lius.shtml

For the story on the Wichita Eagle's blog, visit:
http://blogs.kansas.com/weblog/2006/10/ ... belie.html

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kansas, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=KS

SCOTT HONORED WITH ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE MEDIA AWARD

NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott received the 2006 Anthropology
in the Media Award, in recognition of "the successful communication of
anthropology to the general public through the media," from the American
Anthropological Association. According to the announcement in the October
2006 issue of the AAA's newletter Anthropology News:

***

While responding to creationist claims she sticks to the evidence for
evolution without resorting to rhetorical flourish. At the same time, she
maintains a profound respect for religious views of the world, and that
anti-evolutionism must be understood within a cultural framework. As a
tireless and articulate defender of evolution in science curricula, a task
that is often thankless and frustrating, Scott has done anthropology a
tremendous service.

***

The American Anthropological Association is the primary professional
society of anthropologists in the United States and the world's largest
professional organization of individuals interested in anthropology. A
physical anthropologist by training, Scott is a long-time member.

For the AAA's website, visit:
http://www.aaanet.org/

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Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:
http://www.ncseweb.org
where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and
threats to it.

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
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism
http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
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