Visiting KCFS

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Hi all. I’m on a quick trip back to the states, after having recently been in China with Dr. Steve Case visiting my relatives at the Panda Reserve. Today I was invited to a meeting of Kansas Citizens for Science (KCFS) by my friend Jack Krebs, newly elected president of KCFS. Of course things are hopping in Kansas – the state standards which Jack and Steve worked on received an F from the Fordham Foundation because the state school board inserted a bunch of creationist stuff in them, the much awaited Dover decision may have bearing on the potential legal situation in Kansas, elections for the state Board of Education in August may determine whether the creationists stay in power, and so on.

Of course it wouldn’t be my place to comment on any of the day’s deliberations, but I thought I would share with you all a little bit of the flavor and ambience of a KCFS meeting.

First, some KCFS Board members regularly meet for lunch before their meeting at the Blind Tiger Brewery in south Topeka. I was warmly welcomed, and enjoyed the spirited company. Some of these folks have been working together since 1999, so there is lots of good spirits and informed conversation.

Here is picture of me looking over the menu – but alas, again no bamboo. (They do have good beer, though – brewed right on the premises.)

I met many KCFS members – here is newly elected Vice President Phil Baringer. Phil is a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Kansas.

I was especially glad to meet Gordon Elliot. Gordon has been a KCFS Board member for years, as well as a member of numerous internet forums. Here’s a picture of Gordon and me.

Jack told me that a reporter recently asked him about the history of KCFS, and whether there were similar organizations in other states. KCFS was formed in 1999, and was the first Citizens for Science group with that name (although our friends in New Mexico had an earlier similar organization.) Now there are about fifteen such groups.

Of course it’s too bad we even have to have such groups, as most have been formed in response to various creationist attacks on science and science education. But given that political reality, it’s great to see college professors, high school educators, businesspeople and other citizens working together. KCFS’s mission, I was told, is to “promote a better understanding of what science is, and does, by advocating for science education, educating the public about the nature and value of science, and serving as an information resource.” I was pleased to get to see some of the KCFS folks at work today trying to fulfill their mission.

9 Comments

well that’s a first

Blind Tiger on 37th in Topeka?

100% correct, they do have great beer. The IPA and Red something-or-other get my votes.

Is it just me that automatically thinks “KFC” whenever I see the acronym “KCFS”?

Not just you. I can go for some grease right now.

What beer is pleasant to you more?

What beer is pleasant to you more?

Nik Wrote:

What beer is pleasant to you more?

Bamboo beer

Professor Steve Steve wrote

Jack told me that a reporter recently asked him about the history of KCFS, and whether there were similar organizations in other states. KCFS was formed in 1999, and was the first Citizens for Science group with that name (although our friends in New Mexico had an earlier similar organization.) Now there are about fifteen such groups.

I’m sure it was just an oversight on Professor SS’s part, but let us not forget the Committees of Correspondence on Evolution Education first formed in the early 1980s by Stanley Weinberg in Iowa. While the CCs ultimately foundered for a number of reasons, the Ohio CC was my entre’ into this issue in the late 1980s. Mike Zimmerman, organizer of Clergy Letter Project, was also a member of the Ohio Committee of Correspondence in those days, as was Catherine Callaghan, a now-retired Ohio State University linguist who is still active in Ohio Citizens for Science and still speaking before boards of education. (I had the privilege of taking Catherine to breakfast before an all-day Ohio SBOE meeting a couple of years ago.)

Weinberg’s insights were prescient:

The other, and more important, component for the anti-creation campaign was a political protest at the local level. Weinberg found that creationists used simple technique familiar to all successful lobbyists, such as circulating literature, sending letters, attending school board meetings and buttonholing key people. His experiences in grassroots politics convinced him that the creationists’ success was ultimately based on such local lobbying. “Whenever creationists appear before a legislative committed, or a local Board of Education, or a textbook-adoption committee, if two or three evolutionary biologists also appear, the creationists would not carry the day as they now so often do,” he argued.

Weinberg’s advice is still good, though “two or three evolutionary biologists” are no longer sufficient in the face of the Discovery Institute’s employment of a Beltway PR firm, Creative Response Concepts:

Creative Response Concepts specializes in getting media coverage for our clients. We work for some of the world’s largest corporations, industry groups, non-profit organizations, and legislative initiatives.

Now we need bunches of informed citizens at those board meetings and buttonholing politicians, and it is our task – the scientists and informed lay people – to help those citizens do it.

RBH

RBH wrote: “…we need bunches of informed citizens at those board meetings and buttonholing politicians, and it is our task — the scientists and informed lay people — to help those citizens do it.”

And then keep at it until we’ve left our mark on the genes of humanity: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8483

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This page contains a single entry by Prof. Steve Steve published on December 18, 2005 8:26 PM.

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