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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/04/17

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A revival of the repeal effort in Louisiana. Plus reaction to the new
science standards in West Virginia and a new contribution from NCSE to
Evolution: Education and Outreach.


Senate Bill 74, dubbed the "Intelligent Outcomes Wanted Act," would,
if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which
implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and
enacted in 2008. Governor Bobby Jindal told NBC News in 2013 that the
LSEA permits the teaching of creationism, including "intelligent
design." The bill to repeal the LSEA was introduced by Karen Carter
Peterson (D-District 5), who sponsored the similar SB 70 in 2011, SB
374 in 2012, SB 26 in 2013, and SB 175 in 2014. Those four bills were
all eventually shelved by the Senate Committee on Education. SB 74 was
prefiled in the Louisiana Senate on March 31, 2015, and subsequently
referred to the Senate Committee on Education.

The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education
administrators to help to promote "critical thinking skills, logical
analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories
being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of
life, global warming, and human cloning"; these four topics were
described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation.
It also allows teachers to use "supplemental textbooks and other
instructional materials to help students understand, analyze,
critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner" if so
permitted by their local school boards. A sponsor of the bill told the
Hammond Daily Star (April 6, 2008) that the bill was aimed at
promoting the discussion of "scientific data related to creationism."

Since 2008, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the
law's provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary
materials but have also reportedly invoked the law to support
proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes -- Livingston
and Tangipahoa -- and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology
textbooks proposed for adoption by the state. Meanwhile, the Society
of Vertebrate Paleontology urged Louisianans to repeal the law in
2008, and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology decided
to hold its conferences elsewhere while the law remains on the books
(relenting only in the case of New Orleans after the Orleans Parish
School Board prohibited the teaching of creationism in its science

Endorsers of the repeal effort include a group of seventy-eight Nobel
laureates in the sciences (representing nearly 40% of living Nobel
laureates in the sciences), the National Association of Biology
Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the
Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological
Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of
Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the
American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New
Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate.

For Louisiana's Senate Bill 74 as introduced (PDF), visit: 

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


"Some groups that denounced now-rejected changes to West Virginia’s
upcoming K-12 science standards regarding global warming are
disappointed in new modifications but view them as less harmful than
the previous version," according to the Charleston Gazette (April 11,

As NCSE previously reported, in December 2014, the West Virginia board
of education adopted a new set of science standards, based on the Next
Generation Science Standards, but quietly revised by the board before
their adoption in December 2014 to downplay the scientific consensus
on the role of human activity in recent climate change.

After outcry from scientific, educational, and environmental groups
within and outside the state, including from NCSE, the board decided
to revert to the original version of the standards. On April 9, 2015,
however, the board again revised sections of the standards dealing
with climate change before voting to adopt them.

NCSE's Glenn Branch told the Gazette that the new standards still
represent progress, noting that they are "certainly an improvement"
over the standards adopted in December 2014 as well as the state's
previous science standards. "Hopefully, they're now out of the hands
of politicians who want to meddle with them," Branch commented.

Libby Strong, the president of the West Virginia Science Teachers
Association, agreed, telling the Gazette that although the new changes
are disappointing, they are not as problematic as the previous
changes. A further delay would be unfortunate, she added: "The
teachers deserve the new standards and the new materials."

The discussion of the new standards reached the pages of The New York
Times (April 11, 2015). NCSE's Josh Rosenau told the newspaper that
the new changes were acceptable, since they do not introduce false
information about climate change, but added, "I can't quite motivate
myself to shout 'Victory!' from the rooftops."

For the story in the Charleston Gazette, visit: 

For the story in The New York Times, visit: 

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


"Wading into the Undeniable," by NCSE's Stephanie Keep, Ann Reid, and
Glenn Branch, was just published in Evolution: Education and Outreach.
The essay criticizes Nicholas Wade's proposal, in his review for The
Wall Street Journal of Bill Nye's book Undeniable (2014), to defuse
controversies over the teaching of evolution by finessing the
definition of "theory". "On inspection," Keep, Reid, and Branch
charge, "Wade's proposal misidentifies the focus of the creationist
objection to evolution, distorts the nature of science, and involves a
blatant equivocation."

Founded in 2008, Evolution: Education and Outreach seeks to promote
the accurate understanding and comprehensive teaching of evolutionary
theory for a wide audience. Starting with its first issue, NCSE
regularly contributed a column under the rubric "Overcoming Obstacles
to Evolution Education." In 2013, the journal became completely open
access, and NCSE is now continuing to contribute "Overcoming Obstacles
to Evolution Education" columns under the new system. The first five
volumes of Evolution: Education and Outreach are now freely available
as well.

For "Wading into the Undeniable" (PDF), visit: 

For the content of the journal from volume 6 (2013) onward, visit: 

For the content of the journal from volume 1 (2008) to volume 5 (2012), visit: 


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

* Glenn Branch researching the history of a threefold distinction: 

* Stephanie Keep pondering the revival of "Brontosaurus": 

* Glenn Branch contemplating Darwin's career as a vampire slayer: 

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

Check out NCSE's new blog, Science League of America: 

Read Reports of the NCSE on-line: 

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