FW: FWD. [ncse-news] Evolution education update: Cobb County appeals; Forrest and Branch in Academe; two good columns
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From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@...]
Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2005 8:09 AM
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Subject: FWD. [ncse-news] Evolution education update: Cobb County
appeals; Forrest and Branch in Academe; two good columns
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Date: Friday, January 21, 2005 9:14 AM -0800
From: Glenn Branch <branch@...>
Subject: [ncse-news] Evolution education update: Cobb County appeals;
and Branch in Academe; two good columns
Dear Friends of NCSE,
The Cobb County Board of Education decides to appeal the Selman verdict;
Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch take on the Wedge in the pages of
and The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times feature excellent
on evolution education.
COBB COUNTY APPEALS
On January 17, 2005, the Cobb County School Board voted 5-2 to appeal
ruling in Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al., which
ordered the removal of evolution disclaimers from the school district's
textbooks. Announcing the decision, Kathie Johnstone, chair of the
described Judge Clarence Cooper's ruling as an "unnecessary judicial
intrusion into local control of schools."
In his ruling, issued on January 13, Judge Cooper applied the so-called
Lemon test to conclude that the disclaimer violated the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment. Although he was satisfied that the Cobb
County School Board's purpose in requiring the sticlaimer was not
exclusively to promote religion, he wrote that "an informed, reasonable
observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement
religion," citing its description of evolution as "a theory, not a fact"
the decisive phrase.
The ruling was greeted with applause from Georgia's scientific and
education communities. "Obviously, this is quite a victory for good
education," Benjamin Z. Freed, an anthropology professor at Emory
University in Atlanta and chairman of Georgia Citizens for Integrity in
Science Education, told CNN. And George Stickel, who supervises Cobb's
school science curriculum, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "To
really understand biology, [students] need to understood what evolution
The state's newspapers were also pleased with the ruling. The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution wrote in an editorial, "What Cooper's actually done
safeguard religious freedom by halting the campaign by creationists to
convert public school classrooms into indoctrination chambers," while
Marietta Daily Journal suggested, "the Cobb school board would do well
leave the teaching of science to the science teachers and the teaching
religion-based scientific theories to those in the pulpit."
After a closed three-hour session with its lawyers, however, the Cobb
County Board of Education decided to appeal the ruling as well as to ask
for a stay of Cooper's order to remove the disclaimer. Johnstone said
the appeal would present "no additional cost to the district or Cobb
taxpayers"; the board's legal counsel has agreed to pursue the case at
additional charge to the district. The appeal will go before the
US District Court of Appeals.
The decision to appeal the ruling was condemned in a later editorial in
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which commented that "The appeal
either a sop to the creationists who insisted on the disclaimers in the
first place, or, even more troubling, an endorsement by school board
members of teaching religious creed under the guise of science."
For CNN's story on the board's vote, visit:
For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial condemning the board's
decision (registration required), visit:
For Judge Cooper's decision (a 2.5M PDF file), visit the ACLU's web
FORREST AND BRANCH IN ACADEME
"Wedging creationism into the academy," by Barbara Forrest and Glenn
Branch, appears in the January-February 2005 issue of Academe, the
bimonthly magazine of the American Association of University Professors.
their article, Forrest and Branch discuss the attempts of the
design" movement to use academia as a base. In light of the scientific
sterility of "intelligent design," they argue, "the Wedge needs another
to persuade education policy makers that intelligent design is
respectable": by exploiting the academic credentials and affiliations of
its proponents and supporters for all they are worth. Reviewing such
tactics as holding pseudoacademic "intelligent design" conferences on
campuses and recruiting professors to sign antievolution statements,
Forrest and Branch conclude that supporters of "intelligent design" in
academia "exploit their academic standing to promote the concept as
intellectually respectable while shirking the task of producing a
scientifically compelling case for it." Forrest is professor of
at Southeastern Louisiana University, author (with Paul R. Gross) of
Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford
University Press, 2004), and a member of the NCSE board of directors;
Branch is the deputy director of NCSE.
To read "Wedging creationism into the academy," visit:
TWO GOOD COLUMNS
Two excellent opinion columns about evolution education appeared on
19, 2005, on opposite sides of the country.
In the Los Angeles Times, Patt Morrison's "A Museum That Lies Far, Far
the Path of Science" (registration required) begins with a description
her visit to the Institute for Creation Research's museum in Santee,
California, on the outskirts of San Diego. "I'd just seen 'proof' that
Earth is no older than about 10,000 years, that man and dinosaurs
before a flood that not only created the Grand Canyon but put the final
score at humans (Noah and kin) 1, dinosaurs 0," she quips. "I needed
someone to deliver a couple 'quick, snap out of it, girl' taps with a
of Scientific American." But she notes soberly that the real threat to
science education these days is from "intelligent design": "If IDers can
put their argument on an equal footing with science, they figure they'll
skip nimbly around the Constitution's church-state wall without having
wear themselves out trying to knock it down." Toward the end of her
Morrison quotes Jack Krebs, a member of NCSE and the vice president of
Kansas Citizens for Science: "Watch out," he says, "it could be in
anybody's backyard tomorrow. You could be next." Morrison is a regular
columnist for the Times.
In The New York Times, Susan Jacoby's "Caught Between Church and State"
(registration required) argues that "the elected anti-evolutionists on
local and state school boards today are the heirs of eight decades of
fundamentalist campaigning against Darwinism through back-door pressure
textbook publishers and school officials." Reviewing the history of
antievolutionism since the Scopes trial in 1925, Jacoby correctly
that "[p]erhaps the most insidious effect of the campaign against
has been avoidance of the subject by teachers, who, whatever their
convictions, want to forestall trouble with fundamentalist parents." As
loyal NCSE members will realize, however, her conclusion -- "Only now,
the religious right is no longer satisfied with avoidance but is
that schools add anti-Darwinist intelligent design to the curriculum,
defenders of evolution fighting back" -- is overstated: NCSE and its
members have been fighting back for two decades! Susan Jacoby is
of the Center for Inquiry-Metro New York, and the author of
History of American Secularism (Metropolitan Books, 2004).
To read "A Museum That Lies Far, Far Off the Path of Science"
To read "Caught Between Church and State" (registration required),
Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site:
where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and
threats to it.
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available:
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Please see the Ohio Citizens for Science's web page at:
"The hypothesis we accept ought to explain phenomena which we have
observed. But they ought to do more than this: our hypotheses ought to
foretell phenomena which have not yet been observed.'
-- William Whewell (1794-1866) English mathematician, philosopher
"Taken over the centuries, scientific ideas have exerted a force on our
civilization fully as great as the more tangible practical applications
of scientific research."
-- I. Bernard Cohen (1914- ) U. S. historian of science
"There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of
a new idea."
-- Percy Williams Bridgman (1882-1961) U. S. physicist, Nobel Prize,
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
-- Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
Steven A. Edinger, Physiology Lab Instructor
064 Irvine Hall
Department of Biological Sciences
Ohio University Office: (740) 593-9484
Athens, Ohio 45701-2979 Fax: (740) 593-0300