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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/08/14

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

Sad news of the death of the computer scientist John Holland. And a
reminder that NCSE is available if you need a speaker.


The computer scientist John Holland died on August 9, 2015, at the age
of 86, according to a memorial notice from the Santa Fe Institute
(August 10, 2015). Holland, in the words of the memorial notice, was
"a pioneer in the study of complex adaptive systems and the leading
figure in what became known as genetic algorithms." His books included
Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems (1975), Hidden Order: How
Adaptation Builds Complexity (1995), Emergence: From Chaos to Order
(1998), Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive
Systems (2012), and Complexity: A Very Short Introduction (2014).

Holland's work was inspired by the work of the evolutionary biologist
R. A. Fisher. According to Kevin Kelly's Out of Control (2009), he
regarded Fisher's The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930) as
opening "a new world of human knowledge by subjugating nature's most
potent force -- evolution -- with humankind's most potent tool --
mathematics," and accordingly "began the job of trying to code
evolution into a machine." The interaction between evolution and
computation in Holland's work was bidirectional. In the Santa Fe
institute's memorial notice, David Krakauer, the president of the
institute, commented that Holland was "unique in that he took ideas
from evolutionary biology in order to transform search and
optimization in computer science, and then he took what he discovered
in computer science and allowed us to rethink evolutionary dynamics."
In a 2007 Q&A session with NOVA, Holland noted that complex behavior
emerges naturally from genetic algorithms that model evolution,
adding, "Such concrete illustrations of emergence give little comfort
to those advocating intelligent design."

Holland was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on February 2, 1929. He
attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received
his B.S. in physics in 1950, and the University of Michigan, where he
received his M.A. in mathematics in 1954 and his Ph.D. in
communication sciences in 1959. At the University of Michigan, he was
a professor of computer science and engineering from 1967 onward and a
professor of psychology from 1988 onward. He was also a professor and
member of the executive committee of the board of trustees at the
Santa Fe Institute. His honors included a MacArthur "genius"
fellowship in 1992.

For the memorial notice from the Santa Fe Institute, visit: 

For the 2007 Q&A session with NOVA, visit: 


As the only national organization that is wholly dedicated to
defending the teaching of evolution and climate change in the public
schools, NCSE is the perfect place to find someone to speak to your
organization or university about issues relevant to evolution and
climate education and attacks on either or both. Available speakers
include NCSE's executive director Ann Reid, Minda Berbeco, Glenn
Branch, Stephanie Keep, Joshua Rosenau, Steven Newton, and Emily
Schoerning, as well as NCSE's founding executive director Eugenie C.
Scott and four (past or present) members of our board of directors,
Barbara Forrest, Kevin Padian, Andrew J. Petto, and Benjamin D.
Santer. So if you need a speaker, please feel free to visit the
speaker information page on the NCSE website or get in touch with the
NCSE office. If nobody from NCSE is available or suitable, we'll try
to find you someone who is!

For the speaker information page, visit: 

For NCSE's contact information, visit: 


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

* Stephanie Keep praising a cartoon phylogeny of vertebrate evolution: 

* NCSE intern Nikita Daryanani describing the latest research on polar bears: 

* Glenn Branch nitpicking the history of science details of a historical novel: 

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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