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Free preview of DARWIN: A GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY

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  • HumanCarol
    Dear Friends of NCSE, A preview of a graphic biography of Darwin. Antiscience legislation in Arizona and in Indiana. And a reminder about Darwin Day. A PREVIEW
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2013
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      Dear Friends of NCSE,

      A preview of a graphic biography of Darwin. Antiscience legislation in
      Arizona and in Indiana. And a reminder about Darwin Day.

      A PREVIEW OF DARWIN: A GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY

      NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Eugene Byrne and Simon
      Gurr's Darwin: A Graphic Biography (Smithsonian Books, 2013). The
      preview consists of pp. 60-75, in which Darwin, returned from his
      five-year voyage around the world in the Beagle, debates whether to
      marry, studies baboons and monkeys in the London Zoo, marries his
      cousin Emma Wedgwood and moves to Downe in Kent, and studies barnacles
      and pigeons. The excerpt concludes, "But now Darwin was ready to write
      a book about the subject that he had been thinking about for all this
      time -- the way that nature, unassisted by man, creates a new species.
      In other words, NATURAL SELECTION. But then disaster threatened."

      The publisher writes, "Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring
      expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles
      Darwin. ... Darwin's life presented in this form is an inspirational
      tale for kids of all ages. They'll be sure to identify with a curious
      young Darwin finding his way on youthful adventures in the fields near
      his house. The ups, downs, and near-misses of Darwin's youth are
      portrayed honestly and without foreshadowing of his later fame. This
      is a key point for younger readers: that Darwin wasn't somehow
      predestined to greatness. He was curious, patient, and meticulous. He
      persevered -- a great lesson about what science is all about."

      For the preview of Darwin: A Graphic Biography (PDF), visit:
      http://ncse.com/book-excerpt

      For information about the book from its publisher, visit:
      http://www.randomhouse.com/book/215394/darwin-by-eugene-byrne

      ANTISCIENCE LEGISLATION IN ARIZONA

      A new antiscience bill was introduced in the Arizona Senate. A typical
      instance of the "academic freedom" strategy for undermining the
      teaching of evolution and climate change, Senate Bill 1213 would, if
      enacted, call on state and local education administrators to endeavor
      to "create an environment in schools that encourages students to
      explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop
      critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully
      to differences of opinion about controversial issues" and to "assist
      teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as
      it addresses scientific controversies."

      The targets of the bill are explicitly listed in a section that
      presents as legislative findings that "1. An important purpose of
      science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and
      to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to become
      intelligent, productive and scientifically informed citizens. 2. The
      teaching of some scientific subjects, including biological evolution,
      the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning, can
      cause controversy. 3. Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations
      concerning how they should present information on such topics."

      Somewhat redundantly, SB 1213 provides both that "teachers shall be
      allowed to help pupils understand, analyze, critique and review in an
      objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of
      existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught" and
      that state and local education administrators "shall not prohibit any
      teacher in this state" from doing so. The bill also insists that it
      "protects only the teaching of scientific information and does not
      promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination
      for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs or
      promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

      The prime sponsors of SB 1213 are Judy Burges (R-District 22) and
      Chester Crandell (R-District 6), with Rick Murphy (R-District 21),
      Steve Pierce (R-District 1), Don Shooter (R-District 13), and Steve
      Yarbrough (R-District 17) as cosponsors. The bill is the first
      antiscience bill introduced in Arizona in at least the past decade;
      the last statewide controversy over the teaching of evolution was
      evidently in 2004, when the Arizona state board of education was
      lobbied, in the end unsuccessfully, to include a directive for
      teachers to discuss "intelligent design" in the state science
      education standards.

      For the text of Arizona's Senate Bill 1213 as introduced, visit:
      http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/51leg/1r/bills/sb1213p.htm&Session_ID=110

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

      A STEALTH ANTISCIENCE BILL IN INDIANA

      House Bill 1283, introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives on
      January 23, 2013, and referred to the House Committee on Education, is
      the seventh antiscience bill of 2013. Although evolution is not
      specifically mentioned in the bill, the previous legislation
      introduced by its sponsor, Jeff Thompson (R-District 28), and the
      similarity of its language to the language of previous antievolution
      bills together make it amply clear that the teaching of evolution in
      the state's public schools is a main target.

      HB 1283 begins by asserting as legislative findings that "(1) an
      important purpose of education is to inform students about evidence
      and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to
      become intelligent, productive, and informed citizens; (2) some
      subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health,
      have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics; and
      (3) some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how the
      teachers should present information and evidence on these topics."

      HB 1283 requires state and local education officials to "endeavor to
      create an environment within accredited schools that encourages
      students to explore questions, learn about evidence, develop critical
      thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to
      different conclusions and theories concerning" such topics, and also
      requires them not to prohibit teachers from "helping students to
      understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the
      strengths and weaknesses of existing conclusions and theories being
      presented in a course being taught by the teacher."

      HB 1283 further provides, "A teacher shall be allowed to help students
      understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the
      strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented
      in a course being taught by the teacher." And, attempting to immunize
      the bill from accusations of its permitting unconstitutional activity
      in the classroom, it insists that it "may not be construed to promote:
      (1) any religious or nonreligious doctrine; (2) discrimination for or
      against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs; or (3)
      discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion."

      In 2012, the bill's author Jeff Thompson was the House sponsor of
      Dennis Kruse's Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 would
      have allowed local school districts to teach creation science, but the
      Senate, before passing it, amended the bill to allow local school
      districts to teach various theories of the origin of life, which "must
      include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is
      not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and
      Scientology." SB 89 as amended eventually died in the House.

      Also in 2012, Thompson was the author of House Bill 1140, which would
      have required teachers to discuss "commonly held competing views" on
      topics "that cannot be verified by scientific empirical evidence."
      Although evolution was not specifically mentioned in the bill, its
      coauthor Cindy Noe (R-District 87) cohosted a controversial dinner at
      the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis in 2009, according to the
      Fort Wayne Reader (August 23, 2010): the Expo's organizer claimed that
      Noe was a supporter of his organization. In any case, HB 1140 seems to
      have died in committee.

      HB 1283 is the only antiscience bill in Indiana in 2013. As NCSE
      previously reported, state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14)
      disclosed in November 2012 that he intended to introduce a bill that
      would encourage teachers to misrepresent evolution as scientifically
      controversial. He subsequently changed his plan, saying that he would
      introduce a bill that would allow students to challenge teachers to
      provide evidence to support any claims the students found suspect.
      Apparently, however, no such bill has been introduced, and deadlines
      for filing Senate bills and for Senate bills to be assigned to
      committee have passed.

      For the text of Indiana's House Bill 1283 as introduced, visit:
      http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2013/IN/IN1283.1.html

      For the story in the Fort Wayne Reader, visit:
      http://www.fortwaynereader.com/story.php?uid=1727

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

      DARWIN DAY APPROACHES

      It's time to dust off your Darwin costume again: less than two weeks
      remain before Darwin Day 2013! Colleges and universities, schools,
      libraries, museums, churches, civic groups, and just plain folks
      across the country -- and the world -- are preparing to celebrate
      Darwin Day, on or around February 12, in honor of the life and work of
      Charles Darwin. These events provide a marvelous opportunity not only
      to celebrate Darwin's birthday but also to engage in public outreach
      about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education --
      which is especially needed with assaults on evolution education
      underway in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and
      Oklahoma. NCSE encourages its members and friends to attend,
      participate in, and even organize Darwin Day events in their own
      communities. To find a local event, check the websites of local
      universities and museums and the registry of Darwin Day events
      maintained by the Darwin Day Celebration website. (And don't forget to
      register your own event with the Darwin Day Celebration website!)

      And with Darwin Day comes the return of Evolution Weekend! Hundreds of
      congregations all over the country and around the world are taking
      part in Evolution Weekend, February 8-10, 2013, by presenting sermons
      and discussion groups on the compatibility of faith and science.
      Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, writes, "Evolution
      Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the
      relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to
      elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic -- to
      move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that
      religious people from many faiths and locations understand that
      evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.
      Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, Evolution Weekend makes it
      clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and
      science are creating a false dichotomy." At last count, 578
      congregations across the country (and in twelve foreign countries)
      were scheduled to hold Evolution Weekend events.

      For the Darwin Day registry, visit:
      http://darwinday.org/events/
      http://darwinday.org/wp-login.php?action=register

      For information about Evolution Weekend, visit:
      http://www.evolutionweekend.org/

      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
      http://ncse.com

      Read Reports of the NCSE on-line:
      http://reports.ncse.com

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