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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/12/18

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new study in Science of the evolution of antievolution, by a former
NCSE staffer. And a preview of David E. Alexander's On the Wing.


In a new paper forthcoming in Science, Nick Matzke shows that even
though creationism is getting stealthier in the wake of legal defeats
such as Kitzmiller v. Dover, techniques from modern evolutionary
biology reveal how creationist legislation is evolving. Using data
collected by NCSE and state-of-the-art phylogenetic analysis, Matzke
constructed a phylogenetic tree of seventy-five distinct antievolution
bills and policies, reconstructing their genealogical relationships
with a high degree of confidence.

"The Evolution of Antievolution Policies After Kitzmiller v. Dover"
identifies the common ancestor of the bills as a series of bills
proposed in Alabama in 2004 and 2005. It also discerns two main
lineages, the "academic freedom act" lineage and the "science
education act" lineage, which resulted when "academic freedom acts"
began to target not only evolution but also global warming and human
cloning. The latter lineage thrived, with the passage of such bills in
Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012.

Matzke stressed the importance of understanding the history of such
policies. "If enacted, these bills would require or encourage teachers
to misrepresent science -- to present creationist arguments against
evolution and climate change denier arguments against global warming
-- in the classroom. And they also prevent administrators from doing
anything about it. We already know that one in eight public high
school biology teachers present creationism as scientifically
credible; the passage of these bills would worsen the situation."

Now a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow at the Australian
National University, Matzke began his research on these antievolution
policies while a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute for
Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Previously he worked at NCSE
from 2004 to 2007, where he was the staffer who worked most closely
with the legal team for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the
2005 case that established the unconstitutionality of teaching
"intelligent design" creationism in the public schools.

For Matzke's paper in Science (PDF; subscription required), visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of information about Kitzmiller v. Dover, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of David E. Alexander's On the
Wing: Insects, Pterosaurs, Birds, Bats and the Evolution of Animal
Flight (Oxford University Press, 2015). The preview consists of
chapter 1, "Can't Tell the Players Without a Scorecard," in which
Alexander explains, "Only four animal groups have evolved the ability
to fly under power, and each of these groups evolved powered flight
only once."

The publisher writes, "With an accessible writing style grounded in
rigorous research, Alexander breaks new ground in a field that has
previously been confined to specialists. While birds have received the
majority of attention from flight researchers, Alexander pays equal
attention to all four groups of flyers -- something that no other book
on the subject has done before now."

For the preview of On the Wing (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 


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

* Josh Rosenau putting Nick Matzke's paper in perspective: 

* Glenn Branch pursuing the mysterious Dr. Traas: 

* Steven Newton discussing Randy Olson on the art of storytelling in science: 

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.

With best wishes for the holiday season,

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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