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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2014/11/07

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

Ohio's antiscience bill is passed by a committee. Efforts to ban
creationism from Scotland's public schools are under way. And a
preview of Niles Eldredge's Extinction and Evolution.


Ohio's House Bill 597 -- which if enacted would require students in
the state's public schools to "review, in an objective manner, the
scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories in
the [state science] standards" -- was passed on a 7-2 vote by the
House Rules and Reference committee on November 5, 2014, according to
the Cleveland Plain Dealer (November 5, 2014).

As NCSE previously reported, HB 597, aimed primarily at eliminating
Common Core, also contained a provision requiring the state's science
standards to "prohibit political or religious interpretation of
scientific facts in favor of another." A sponsor of the bill, Andy
Thompson (R-District 95), explained that local school districts would
be allowed to teach creationism along with evolution and global
warming denial alongside climate science.

The objectionable provision was removed in committee, but it was
replaced with the "strengths and weaknesses" language, familiar from
antiscience bills across the country. NCSE's deputy director Glenn
Branch commented, "If the sponsors of the bill are trying to reassure
the public that they're not trying to open the classroom door to
creationism, climate change denial, and pseudoscience of all kinds,
they're not doing a good job."

After the committee's passage of the bill, Tracy Maxwell Heard
(D-District 26), who voted against HB 597, told the Cleveland Plain
Dealer that she doubted that the bill would progress further. Although
the committee's vote was on party lines, with Republicans uniformly
supporting the bill, "[s]he said there is little support for it from
Republican leaders in the Ohio Senate and she doubts there are enough
votes for it in the House as a whole."

For information about Ohio's House Bill 597 from the legislature, visit: 

For the story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, visit: 

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


A petition calling on the Scottish government to ban creationism from
Scottish public schools is to receive a hearing in the Scottish
parliament on November 11, 2014. Filed on behalf of the Scottish
Secular Society, the petition asks the parliament "to bar the
presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation
and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established
science of evolution, common descent, and deep time," adding, "Nothing
in this request precludes the discussion of such doctrines in their
proper place, as part of the study of ideas, neither does it nor can
it infringe on individual freedom of belief."

Such a ban is in place elsewhere in the United Kingdom. In 2007, as
NCSE previously reported, the Department for Children, Schools, and
Families in England issued a statement explaining that creationism and
"intelligent design" are not legitimate scientific theories and
"therefore do not form part of the science National Curriculum
programmes of study." Subsequent actions by the government added
evolution to the national curriculum at the primary level and required
that free schools and church academies in England -- the equivalent of
charter schools in the United States -- teach evolution and not

As the Glasgow Herald (August 30, 2014) reported, the petition to
enact a similar ban in Scotland was endorsed by three Nobel laureates,
Harold Kroto, Richard Roberts, and John Sulston. Roberts commented,
"This is really an important issue. One should be teaching facts to
children, not religion." A spokesperson for the Scottish government,
however, replied, "Teachers, head teachers and professional
educationalists decide what is taught in Scotland's schools. This
longstanding tradition that politicians should not determine the
curriculum is highly valued and remains a cornerstone of Scottish

Part of the impetus for the petition was recent creationist incursions
into the Scottish classroom. In 2013, for example, as the Telegraph
(September 13, 2013) reported, it was discovered that a school
chaplain in East Kilbride distributed creationist literature calling
evolution a myth. The petitioners fear that such incidents may have
been just the tip of the iceberg. As the Reverend Michael Roberts,
writing on behalf of the British Centre for Science Education, told
the parliament, "It is almost impossible to determine the extent to
which such creationism has influenced classroom teaching."

"NCSE applauds the effort to ensure that students in Scotland can
learn science without the interference of creationists," NCSE's
executive director Ann Reid commented. "It's entirely appropriate for
the government to ensure that science and only science is taught in
the science classroom. Without official guidance from the Scottish
government, the risk is that schools will fail to present evolution to
their students altogether, or present it alongside a pseudoscientific
alternative such as 'creation science' or 'intelligent design,' or
fail to present it forthrightly -- as happens all too often in the
United States."

For the petition (PDF) and related documents, visit: 

For NCSE's coverage of the cited events in England, visit: 

For the story in the Glasgow Herald, visit: 

For the story in the Telegraph, visit: 

For Michael Roberts's comments (PDF), visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events outside the United States, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Niles Eldredge's Extinction
and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal about the History of Life (Firefly,
2014). The preview consists of the first pages of chapter 6,
"Extinction," in which Eldredge explains, "Extinction is not news to a
paleontologist. It is a fact of life ... One can't understand
evolution, really, without understanding extinction."

Extinction and Evolution was praised by Donald C. Johanson as "a
splendidly illustrated and thoughtfully constructed account of one of
the greatest ideas ever conceived by the human mind -- evolution." A
curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History and a
prolific author, Eldredge is a member of NCSE's Advisory Council and a
recipient of its Friend of Darwin award.

For the preview of Extinction and Evolution (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Ann Reid lamenting Buzz Aldrin's reported climate change denial: 

* Josh Rosenau pondering science education in the wake of the recent election: 

* Mark McCaffrey exploring the effectiveness of the Alliance for
Climate Education: 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, 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 x303
fax: 510-601-7204

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