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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/09/11

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The antievolution lawsuit in West Virginia is over. Plus a new issue
of Reports of the NCSE, a milestone for NCSE's Facebook page, and sad
news of the death of Eric Davidson.


A federal lawsuit contending that teaching evolution in West
Virginia's public schools is unconstitutional is over. In a decision
in Smith v. Jefferson County School Board et al., issued by the United
States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on
August 25, 2015, the defendants' motions to dismiss the case were
granted. The complaint was dismissed with prejudice, so the plaintiff
is not able to file the claim again.

In his original complaint, Kenneth Smith, representing himself,
alleged that the defendants "fostered the propagation of religious
faith" in the state's public schools by "denying the Plaintiff's
accurate scientific mathematical system of genetic variations that
proves evolution is a religion" and asked for the court to "declare
the policy of evolution, as to be violating of the United States
Constitutional Amendments [sic]."

The defendants -- the Jefferson County School Board; Michael
Martirano, the West Virginia state superintendent of schools; Francis
Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; Arne
Duncan, the Secretary of Education; and the Department of Education
itself -- argued that Smith failed to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted, and the federal defendants argued moreover that
Smith lacked standing to sue them.

In granting the defendants' motions to dismiss the case, the court
noted that Smith is in effect asking "the Court to mandate that public
schools in Jefferson County teach the Plaintiff's theories of science
and religion, which, to put it mildly, are antagonistic to the theory
of evolution," adding, "This court cannot order the West Virginia
Defendants to instruct students in a manner that would violate the

In 2007, Smith sued the Jefferson County School Board for failing to
teach his views; in 2010, he sued the NIH and the state of West
Virginia for endorsing evolution as a type of "ideology scientific
religious belief"; in 2011, he sued the Postmaster General, the NIH,
and the Department of Education, alleging that he suffered unlawful
employment discrimination after expressing his views about evolution.
All of these cases were dismissed.

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the
National Center for Science Educationis now available on-line. The
issue -- volume 35, number 5 -- contains Anila Asghar, Sarah Bean,
Wendi O’Neill, and Brian Alters's "Biological Evolution in Canadian
Science Curricula," Michael Buratovich's "Leaving the Fold: Darwin's
Doubt and the Evolution of Protein Folds," and Antoine Bret's "Yes, We
Were There."  And Randy Moore discusses Frank Robinson, in whose
drugstore the idea of the Scopes trial was hatched.

Plus a host of reviews of books on climate change: Yoram Bauman
reviews Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman's Climate Shock, Jonathan
Cole reviews Dana Nuccitelli's Climatology versus Pseudoscience,
Cynthia Howell reviews Antoine Bret's The Energy-Climate Continuum,
Scott Mandia reviews Robert Henson's The Thinking Person's Guide to
Climate Change, Mark McCaffrey reviews Stephen M. Gardiner's A Perfect
Moral Storm and Dale Jamieson's Reason in a Dark Time, and Steven
Newton reviews Doug MacDougall's Frozen Earth.

All of these articles, features, and reviews are freely available in
PDF form from Members of NCSE will shortly be 
receiving in the mail the print supplement to Reports 35:5, which, in
addition to summaries of the on-line material, contains news from the
membership, a regular column in which NCSE staffers offer personal
reports on what they've been doing to defend the teaching of
evolution, a regular column interviewing NCSE's favorite people, and
more besides. (Not a member? Join today!)

For the table of contents for RNCSE 35:5, visit: 

For information about joining NCSE, visit: 

FACEBOOK: N > 120,000

A milestone: there are now over 120,000 fans of NCSE's Facebook page.
Why not join them, by visiting the page and becoming a fan by clicking
on the "Like" box by NCSE's name? You'll receive the latest NCSE news
delivered straight to your Facebook Home page, as well as updates on
evolution-related and climate-related topics. Or if you prefer your
news in 140-character chunks, follow NCSE on Twitter. And while you're
surfing the web, why not visit NCSE's YouTube channel, with hundreds
of videos for your watching pleasure? It's the best place on the web
to view talks by NCSE's staff.

For NCSE's Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel, visit: 


The eminent developmental biologist Eric Davidson died on September 1,
2015, at the age of 78, according to a September 2, 2015, notice from
Caltech. Davidson was famous for his work on the role of gene
regulation in evolution, helping to launch the idea of gene regulatory
networks, which control the development of organisms from embryos to
adults, and for leading the drive to sequence the genome of the purple
sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), a significant model
organism in developmental biology. His books included Gene Activity in
Early Development (1968, second edition 1976, third edition 1986), The
Regulatory Genome: Gene Regulatory Networks In Development and
Evolution (2006), and, with Isabelle S. Peter, Genomic Control
Process: Development and Evolution (2015).

Sadly, Davidson's pioneering work was routinely mischaracterized by
creationists. In 2012, he told Jerry Coyne, "I admire your willingness
to take on creationists in public; I find their views so antediluvian
that I can only ignore them." Thirteen years earlier, however, he was
not able to do so. He attended a 1999 conference in China, on "The
Origins of Animal Body Plans and Their Fossil Records," which, unknown
to the scientists in attendance, was organized in part in order to
promote "intelligent design" creationism. According to Barbara Forrest
and Paul R. Gross'sCreationism's Trojan Horse (2004), "Eric Davidson
dissected [Jonathan] Wells's and [Paul] Nelson's presentations during
the sessions, identifying their errors"; Nigel C. Hughes, who was in
attendance, referred to the "egregious errors" of Wells, Nelson, and
Michael Denton, which were "candidly dispatched by Eric Davidson."
After a misleading report about the conference appeared in the Boston
Globe, quoting Davidson as saying, "Neo-Darwinism is dead," Davidson
and the paleontologist David J. Bottjer wrote to the newspaper to
protest that the report was "strewn with fabrication and fabricated
comments and [was] written by a biblical creationist posing as a
science writer who has nothing more than an axe to grind." The Globe
declined to print their letter, which was later published in Reports
of the National Center for Science Education.

Davidson was born on April 13, 1937, in New York City. As a teenager,
he conducted research at the Marine Biological Laboratory, publishing
his first paper at the age of 16. He earned his B.A. in biology at the
University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and his Ph.D. at Rockefeller
University in 1963. He stayed at Rockefeller University as a research
associate and then an assistant professor until 1971, when he moved to
the California Institute of Technology, where he spent the rest of his
career, as the Norman Chandler Professor of Cell Biology from 1981
onward. He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences
and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, and he received the Society for Developmental Biology's
Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

For the obituary notice from Caltech, visit: 


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

* Stephanie Keep appreciating informal science education at her local aquarium: 

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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