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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/05/15

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The latest on Alabama's new antiscience bill. And a preview of The
Third Horseman.

UPDATE FROM ALABAMA

"Teachers and students could soon find themselves free to debate the
strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools
across Alabama if a bill introduced to the House this month becomes
law," reported the Anniston Star (May 7, 2015), referring to House
Bill 592.

As NCSE previously reported, the bill identifies "biological
evolution, the chemical orgins of life, and human cloning" as topics
likely to "cause debate and disputation," and in effect would allow
teachers to present whatever they pleased about such topics -- while
preventing educational authorities from intervening.

NCSE's Josh Rosenau told the Star, "Evolution is recognized as the
foundation of modern biology. To single it out as if it's
scientifically controversial is misleading and encourages teachers to
skip out on this concept that students need if they want to be doctors
or even patients in the 21st century."

Rosenau also observed that, with no credible evidence that Alabama
teachers are prevented from teaching science effectively,  the bill
seemed to be "a solution in search of a problem." Similarly, he told
al.com (May 7, 2015) that the bill would make it harder for teachers
and administrators "to stand up for the standards and what they know
the best science to be."

The bill's lead sponsor, Mack Butler (R-District 30), told the Star,
"There is animosity to anything Christian. ... I'm just trying to
bring back a little balance." Raw Story (May 7, 2015) noted that
Butler explained on his Facebook page that his bill would "encourage
debate if a student has a problem learning he came from a monkey
rather than an intelligent design!"

Susan Watson, the executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, told
al.com, "This is a thinly-veiled attempt to open the door to religious
fanatics who don't believe in evolution, climate change or other
scientifically-based teaching in our schools." She added, "It also
opens Alabama to costly litigation that it just cannot afford."

Subsequently, al.com (May 8, 2015) editorialized, "The point is, what
is the point of this bill?  ... Can we just give Butler an "I love
God" badge and let that be it? ... Let's focus on the real problems
facing our state, rather than meddling in the classroom, where I'm
sure there's been no groundswell from teachers complaining that they
aren't free to discredit evolution."

Similarly, a columnist for the Montgomery Advertiser (May 8, 2015)
argued, "The goal of Butler's bill ... was to make it OK for some
two-bit religious zealot posing as a biology teacher to fill kids'
heads with debunked and ridiculous ideas. That's bad enough, but
what's worse is that this bill, should it pass, will open the door to
giving religious ideas the same standing in a classroom as scientific
theory."

HB 592 is still in the House Education Policy Committee. Joining
Butler as sponsors are Will Ainsworth (R-District 27), Mike Ball
(R-District 10), Allen Farley (R-District 15), Matt Fridy (R-District
73), Mac McCutcheon (R-District 25), Becky Nordgren (R-District 29),
Kerry Rich (R-District 26), Rich Wingo (R-District 62), and Randy Wood
(R-District 36).

For Alabama's House Bill 592 (PDF), visit:
http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2015RS/PrintFiles/HB592-int.pdf 

For the stories in the Anniston Star, al.com, and Raw Story, visit:
http://www.annistonstar.com/news/lawmaker-says-bill-would-open-debate-on-science-of-evolution/article_de49bc20-f50b-11e4-9ca0-c7b78560df12.html 
http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/05/anti-evolution_legislation_int.html 
http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/alabama-lawmaker-my-bill-protects-kids-from-learning-they-came-from-a-monkey/ 

For the editorials in al.com and the Montgomery Advertiser, visit:
http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/give_rep_butler_an_i_love_god.html 
http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/opinion/columnists/josh-moon/2015/05/08/biology-classes-stick-evolution/26989223/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Alabama, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/alabama 

A PREVIEW OF THE THIRD HORSEMAN

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of William Rosen's The Third
Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century
(Viking, 2014). The preview consists of chapter 1, "The Fury of the
Northmen," which traces the career of the Vikings from their beginning
to the Battle of Hastings. Rosen argues, "The great achievements of
the Viking Age were almost entirely enabled by the impersonal workings
of climate."

The reviewer for Nature writes, "A kink in Europe's climate during the
fourteenth century indirectly triggered a seven-year cataclysm that
left six million dead, William Rosen reveals in this rich interweaving
of agronomy, meteorology, economics and history. ... Rosen deftly
delineates the backstory and the perfect storm of heavy rains, hard
winters, livestock epidemics, and war leading to the catastrophe."

For the preview of The Third Horseman (PDF), visit:
http://ncse.com/book-excerpt 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit:
http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/311068/the-third-horseman-by-william-rosen/9780670025893 

WHAT'S NEW FROM THE SCIENCE LEAGUE OF AMERICA

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

* Ann Reid criticizing Freeman Dyson's recent pronouncements on climate change:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/misconception-monday-freeman-dyson-offers-up-smorgasbord-0016353 

* Glenn Branch discussing the anthem composed for Darwin's funeral:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/darwin-s-funeral-anthem-0016329 

* Minda Berbeco relating how a teacher adopted a data-driven approach
to teaching climate science:
http://ncse.com/blog/2015/05/parent-trap-redux-0016354 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit:
http://ncse.com/blog 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website --
http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.

--
Sincerely,

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
800-290-6006
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

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http://ncse.com/blog 

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