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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/04/24

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The fifth attempt to repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education
Act fails. Plus Glenn Branch reviews a book on science and religion
for eSkeptic, Zack Kopplin reveals evidence about the bad effects of
the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, and Emily Schoerning
joins the NCSE staff.


Louisiana's Senate Bill 74 was deferred on a 4-3 vote in the Louisiana
Senate Education Committee on April 22, 2015, which effectively kills
the bill in committee. The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson
(D-District 5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes
17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education
Act, passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for
scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science
to be taught in the state's public schools. SB 74 was the fifth bill
of its kind, following SB 175 in 2014, SB 26 in 2013, SB 374 in 2012,
and SB 70 in 2011.

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. Speaking to NBC News on April
12, 2013, Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal (R), who signed the bill
into law over the protests of the state's scientific and educational
communities, acknowledged (at around 9:00) that the law allows
teachers to "teach our kids about creationism."

Testifying in favor of the bill were Zack Kopplin, who has been
campaigning for the repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act
since 2010, when he was a senior in high school. Kopplin told the
committee about recently uncovered evidence of the effects of the law,
which he also presented in a column published in Slate (April 21,
2015). Also testifying in favor of the bill were Scott Lane and his
son C. C. Lane, who, as NCSE previously reported, were forced to sue
the Sabine Parish School Board in 2014 over a teacher's advocacy of
creationism, which included a description of evolution as "a 'stupid'
theory that 'stupid people made up because they don't want to believe
in God.'"

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

For Kopplin's article in Slate, visit: 

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


NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch reviewed Amir D. Aczel's Why
Science Does Not Disprove God (William Morrow, 2014) for eSkeptic
(April 22, 2015). He was unenthusiastic about the book, particularly
on account of its treatment of evolution, although he allowed, "Aczel
writes clearly and fluently, and the text is occasionally enlivened by
his engaging reports of his interviews with sympathetic contemporary
scientists." But, Branch concluded, "the value of his book overall is
vitiated by not only his sloppiness with the historical, scientific,
and philosophical material but also his uncharitable treatment of his
opponents. ... Anyone seeking a judicious critique of the New
Atheism's claims about religion and science will be disappointed by
Aczel's book." The review was also published in Skeptic 20:1.

For Branch's review of Why Science Does Not Disprove God, visit: 


Writing in Slate (April 21, 2015), Zack Kopplin reports, "I have
evidence that religion, not science, is what's being taught
systematically in some Louisiana school systems. I have obtained
emails from creationist teachers and school administrators, as well as
a letter signed by more than 20 current and former Louisiana science
teachers in Ouachita Parish in which they say they challenge evolution
in the classroom without legal 'tension or fear' because of
pro-creationism policies."

In his article, Kopplin explains that he recently obtained material
from various Louisiana school districts via public records requests.
The result suggests that the Louisiana Science Education Act is widely
regarded in the state as affording license for teachers to present
scientifically unwarranted critiques of evolution. NCSE's Josh Rosenau
was quoted as commenting, "Getting teachers to use attacks on
evolution as a proxy for advocating creationism has a long history,
especially in Louisiana."

Kopplin, who has been campaigning for the repeal of the Louisiana
Science Education Act since 2010, when he was a senior in high school,
concluded by noting the relevance of his findings to the repeal
effort. He noted, "The Senate Education Committee will consider a new
bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act on Wednesday"
(i.e., April 22, 2015; the bill in question is Senate Bill 74, dubbed
the "Intelligent Outcomes Wanted Act"), adding, "I look forward to the
legislators doing their part."

For Kopplin's article in Slate, visit: 

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


NCSE is pleased to announce that Emily Schoerning has joined the NCSE
staff as Director of Community Organizing and Research. Schoerning
earned her Ph.D. in microbiology at Arizona State University and then,
as a post-doctoral research scholar at the University of Iowa, turned
her attention to science education research. In Iowa, she established
partnerships to support and improve science education in rural
communities. At NCSE, she will be building on that work by
spearheading a new initiative that aims to help local communities form
and nurture coalitions to support and improve science education.

At the same time, NCSE bids farewell to Mark McCaffrey, who joined
NCSE as a Programs and Policy Director in 2012 to launch its climate
change education initiative. McCaffrey's unique combination of
expertise in pedagogy, climate science, and energy literacy was
invaluable in providing NCSE with the intellectual firepower to launch
the initiative, and his extensive network of collaborators helped to
raise awareness of NCSE's entry onto the climate change education
scene. While at NCSE, he wrote Climate Smart & Energy Wise (Corwin
2014), a guide for educators. All of us at NCSE wish him the best in
his new endeavors.

For information about NCSE staff and available speakers, visit: 


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

* Amanda Glaze discussing acceptance and rejection of evolution in the
Heart of Dixie: 

* Stephanie Keep pondering a cartoon about the survival of the sneakiest: 

* Josh Rosenau reflecting on The Sixth Extinction's Pulitzer Prize: 

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: 

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