NCSE webinar: Citizen response to attacks on science education

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The National Center for Science Education has just announced a webinar on what to do when science comes under attack. Details below the fold.

Please register for NCSE training: “Citizen response to attacks on science education” on Nov 25, 2013 3:00 PM PST at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/re[…]819433635073

What can citizens like you do to respond when science education comes under attack? How can you and other concerned citizens organize to fight back? What can you do to prevent attacks on science education in your community?

Based on the National Center for Science Education’s decades of experience, this workshop will build the skills you’ll need to ensure that evolution and climate change education are safe in your schools. When a parent calls wondering why her child was sent home with a creationist pamphlet, or a teacher needs to respond to pressure from parents or administrators to drop lessons on climate change, or when state legislators threaten to write science denial into state laws, NCSE relies on local voices and local experience to fight back. Throughout this training, we’ll work through such specific case studies to illustrate the skills and resources science education defenders need.

This first webinar training in a monthly series will survey the skills and resources which concerned citizens need in responding to attacks on science education. Topics will include how to build a network of like-minded people before and during a crisis, how to respond to an attack on science education, how to prevent a crisis from emerging in the first place, and how to prepare for a crisis and make the eventual reaction more effective. The webinar is intended for anyone from experienced activists to relative novices.

Session leader Josh Rosenau has been Programs and Policy Director at NCSE for six years, working with parents and teachers to resolve anti-evolution attacks and defuse conflicts over climate change education. Before joining NCSE, he was a graduate student in biology in Kansas and was drawn into the battles over evolution in the state’s science standards. At NCSE he trains scientists to speak about evolution to potentially hostile audiences, testifies before state board of education meetings, and helps local networks of citizens plan their responses to statewide legislation and and local conflicts.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

– Josh Rosenau

Programs and Policy Director

National Center for Science Education, Inc.

420 40th Street, Suite 2

Oakland, CA 94609-2509

Phone: (510) 601-7203 x307

Fax: (510) 601-7204

Toll-free: 1-800-290-6006

[Enable javascript to see this email address.]

http://ncse.com

22 Comments

Why are these types of things always at times I can’t attend?

How is the NCSE adjusting to the fact that the ID perps have dropped the claim that they have a scientific theory to teach in the public schools from the Discovery Institute’s education policy statement?

I haven’t heard anything about it, and I only looked up the policy statement after the thread about the Discovery Institute’s Summer boot camp where quotes more open about equating ID with creationism and plain and simple statements against teaching ID were presented to the rubes.

The policy probably changed back in Feb, but there was no announcement about it that I have heard of.

http://www.discovery.org/a/3164

I wrote about it over at Talk Origins a couple of months ago.

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/tal[…]LS3yPcug9t8J

More problems with the Texas BOE.

The good news is it appears some more moderate Republicans are joining Democrats to combat the Creationists. Don’t know if they’re enough though.

It’s time the publishers stood up to the Texas loonies. If they want their children to be taught nonsense in place of science we might not be able to stop them. But why should the rest of the rational people be forced to put up with nonsense just because Texas chooses the dark ages?

If they claim there are technical errors in the textbook, make them prove it. Including stuff they don’t like or don’t want to be true doesn’t count.

This does seem to be somewhat on topic, but perhaps it deserves its own thread.

This does seem to be somewhat on topic, but perhaps it deserves its own thread.

The sad thing is, it IS off-topic. There was a time in years past when there would have been continuous coverage of the TBOE battle right here on Pandas Thumb. Instead we get photography contests (!) and inside-baseball notices of personnel changes at NCSE. I miss the PT of the Dover era (and Kansas, and Ohio…). What the hell happened?

Remember: Creationists never sleep.

It’s time the publishers stood up to the Texas loonies

last I checked, they had. It was in the news a couple weeks back that all the major textbook publishers publicly refused to add any kind of watered down version of evolution or any kind of creationism to their science textbooks.

Red Right Hand, I think your comment is a little churlish given that (i) nobody is paid to contribute to Panda’s Thumb, (ii) the change of the head of the NCSE is hardly an Inside-Baseball level of trivia given that NCSE and Eugenie Scott have been major figures in the anti-creationist movement, (iii) those photo contests are not just pretty pictures (in fact some of them are pretty darn ugly), they’re relevant to evolution, and (iv) the front page of PT currently sports major updates on the Ohio/Freshwater story, news of the Dmanisi fossil, the story of the Creation Museum acquiring real dinosaur fossils, and a critique of the DI’s self-referential defence of Medved. I’m not really sure what you’re complaining about.

I’m not really sure what you’re complaining about.

there was a time when much more interesting discussion happened here on a near daily basis, but most of those presenters have their own forums now.

PT is indeed a much smaller world than it once was.

but hey, for the last 6 years I really mostly come here for freshwater updates (best on the web!) and to laugh at Floyd on occasion.

The Texas BOE just approved most of the biology textbooks for use in the curriculum except Miller and Levine’s Biology. Apparently they think there’s a list of 20 “issues” that need to be “corrected” by the publisher before it can be accepted, but I haven’t been able to find a list of what those are. NYT’s coverage mentions a fight over whether evolution is “a fact or a theory.”

Thanks ksplawn, I intend to read the Times story later tonight. The AP mentioned the textbook from Pearson Education and I thought that was Ken Miller’s book, but wasn’t sure.

Chris, I agree my comment may have been a bit churlish, but it’s borne of frustration, not animosity. I’m no troll. (Well, not here anyway – trolling Birther sites has been my chief source of amusement the last several years. See what you’ve reduced me to, PT?)

I’ve wanted to comment on this for the past several years. I agree that in the past year or so, the quantity of posts has improved, and I don’t have any problem with their quality. The difficulty lies with the posts that aren’t here, but should be.

When I saw the AP story link on the front page (the front page, mind you!) of Talking Points Memo, I came over here – not to get more info (those days are long gone!) – but to alert other PT readers to the latest news on this issue. I pretty much knew from sad experience that there wouldn’t be anything new here. But coming over, I had a thought: Wouldn’t it be ironic if I posted my comment, and had it sent to the bottom-less pit of the Bathroom Wall? I didn’t really think that would happen, and it hasn’t. But it is necessarily off-topic, as there is no coverage of the Texas textbook selection battle here on the Thumb.

Does everyone realize how significant that absence is? I’d argue that’s equivalent to a political blog spending all last year somehow neglecting to mention the presidential election! Anyone who’s followed the Evolution/Creationism battle for any length of time knows that textbook selection in (primarily) two states – California and Texas – is one of the battlefield “pivots” on this issue. Publishers are loathe to publish two different science textbooks – one with science and one without :) – and these two states’ leverage on the market is so large that the outcome of the battle can shape K12 science education nationwide for a generation. If the great Panda’s Thumb of old could post notices, analysis, updates, commentaries on a textbook sticker controvery in Cobb County Georgia or science curricula in Kansas (and thank the FSM for it!), then why the disinterest on this and a whole slew of others that go unmentioned?

There’s the Freshwater issue of course, and Richard’s done a fantastic job on it. So there is that.

Let me also say this: I’m not the best writer, and I have a natural sarcastic streak. Without an arsenal of emoticons a lot of what I say must come across as harsh or insulting – “churlish” as Chris said. I hate that comes across that way. This is a lament, not an attack. I appreciate the hard work that goes into what’s here. And the writing is fine; the quality – for what’s here – I don’t think anyone has a problem with. This is necessarily a part-time labor, and I don’t know how anyone blogs. If I had to wake up every day knowing I had a blog to update I’d stress-out in a month. I just can’t see how people do it.

So is it a question of time or energy? Is it not possible to bring new blood on board who have an interest in these issues? Work’em till they burn out then kick ‘em down the stairs, that sort of thing?

It just seems to me PT has been in awful decline for years and I just don’t understand the cause.

At any rate, there it is. Flame away.

From ksplawn’s first link, to the Dallas Morning News:

Social conservatives complained that some of the books approved Thursday gave uncritical treatment of Darwin’s explanations for how humans and other living things evolved on Earth. They said the books will not teach students about the many flaws in Darwin’s theory, in violation of curriculum standards that were adopted by the education board four years ago. Among those who criticized the board’s vote on Thursday was the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which has promoted the idea of “Intelligent Design” rather than evolution to explain life on Earth.

Science education groups, on the other hand, gave most of the books high marks, particularly their coverage of evolution.

@Red Right Hand:

I have been noticing a decline in the quality of criticism of anti-evolution activism everywhere, not just here, over the last decade or so. Don’t get me wrong, the technical stuff is excellent, and Richard B. Hoppe’s detailed coverage of the Freshwater case was almost superhuman. But I evaluate it all on how well will it reach fence-sitters, and that’s where I find the steady decline, everywhere. Comparing many polls over the years, it frustrates me to see that horribly misleading “~45% think that humans were created in their present form in the last 10,000 years” result cited 99+% of the time. To his credit, Josh Rosenau had an excellent post recently, noting that hard-line young-earthers are only a tiny fraction of that, but such articles are extremely rare. The stereotype that the public is roughly half “Darwinist” and half YEC is as false as any of the mutually contradictory creationisms.

While it’s interesting that apparently fewer people think that the earth is young than think that the sun revolves around it, that’s not good news by any means. As much as 70% have vague problems with evolution - mainly because common, misleading sound bites have replaced what little they learned in biology class - or at least think it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in taxpayer-funded science class.

Most of that ~70% are what I call “fence sitters” for lack of a better word. They could be on our side, but have unwittingly fallen for misinformation peddled by anti-evolution activists, with the (mostly?) unwitting help of the media. Most of those people are religious, so attacking religion is counterproductive. In the late 90s when I started following the debate I too had briefly fallen for “teach the controversy,” even though I had accepted evolution for 30 years prior. Eugenie Scott’s “defuse the religion issue” comment was one of those things that made me realize that I had been looking at it all the wrong way. I had been criticizing religion and beliefs, when I should have been criticizing the practice of misrepresenting science.

I understand, and reluctantly accept, that the religion issue is needed to win court cases, but I see two battles - one to control the “supply” of anti-evolution propaganda, and one to control the “demand.” Unfortunately ~99% of the effort outside the courts is spent on the former, and less than ever is focused on the latter, where we are losing miserably. For the latter better science literacy is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient. People need to also understand what lengths anti-evolution activists - a tiny fraction of the public, not to be confused with committed evolution-deniers (or “creationists” whatever that means) go to mislead. These activists can reasonably be suspected of not even personally believing what they peddle.

For more information the Texas issue, I will make a shameless plug for the Curmudgeon, who has been following it, and shares my “I told you so” on this issue, despite occasional (healthy, I hope) disagreements on how to deprive anti-evolution activists of snake oil sales.

Moderate Republicans? I thought they went extinct years ago!

Red Right Hand said:

More problems with the Texas BOE.

The good news is it appears some more moderate Republicans are joining Democrats to combat the Creationists. Don’t know if they’re enough though.

Matt G said:

Moderate Republicans? I thought they went extinct years ago!

No, their testicles have just shrunk to tiny little raisins at the mere thought of being “primaried” by the TP.

Moderate Republicans? I thought they went extinct years ago!

I hear you. :) They still exist on this issue, but it probably takes a bit more courage to speak out these days; not because of this issue per se, but because any deviation form an ideological norm may get them labeled as RINOs and purged for heresy.

I have a feeling it would be harder to put together a bipartisan ‘Dover CARES’ today than it was eight years ago.

Good points Frank. Agree about the Curmudgeon, great site.

This curmudgeon says that moderate Republicans still exist; they are currently known as Democrats.

For what it’s worth, Thomas Ratliff, Republican Vice Chair of Texas BoE, has always opposed the anti-evolution activists on the board.

I for one don’t like the word “moderate” because it has different meanings, all with a connotation of being “wishy-washy.” Social Cons - which almost all anti-evolution activists are - tend to be economic “moderates,” while Fiscal Cons (I’m sort of one) tend to be Social “moderates.” The Tea Party (I’m not a fan) appears to be an attempt at a “big tent” much like the one that tries to unite YECs and OECs, and those Biblical literalists with non-literalists who are merely “pseudoskeptics”.

Sometimes I wish that the media - left and right - would just stay out of this issue. The NY Times online article had a picture of someone holding a sign that read “The Bible is not a Science Book.” What is that supposed to prove besides adding more fuel to the theism/atheism debate? Even prominent anti-evolution activist Michael Behe is on record with 100% agreement on that. The link from an above comment also shows a sign that reads “Keep Church and State Separate.”

Sensationalism only obscures the key issue, which is that a textbook endorsed by all major science organizations has been blatantly misrepresented for the sole purpose of misleading students about evolution and the nature of science. That was clearly demonstrated for the previous reviewers, and is what we must be prepared for in the next round. In this case, and in any case not already in a courtroom, there’s no need whatever to bring up the religion issue, or call the activist reviewers “creationists,” even if they are by some definitions.

Frank J said:

Sometimes I wish that the media - left and right - would just stay out of this issue. The NY Times online article had a picture of someone holding a sign that read “The Bible is not a Science Book.” What is that supposed to prove besides adding more fuel to the theism/atheism debate? Even prominent anti-evolution activist Michael Behe is on record with 100% agreement on that. The link from an above comment also shows a sign that reads “Keep Church and State Separate.”

Sensationalism only obscures the key issue, which is that a textbook endorsed by all major science organizations has been blatantly misrepresented for the sole purpose of misleading students about evolution and the nature of science. That was clearly demonstrated for the previous reviewers, and is what we must be prepared for in the next round. In this case, and in any case not already in a courtroom, there’s no need whatever to bring up the religion issue, or call the activist reviewers “creationists,” even if they are by some definitions.

“Creationist” is a word that was invented by creationists to describe themselves. If they want a new label they’ll have to tell me what they want. They call me all sorts of inappropriate and inaccurate names. I call them what they’ve asked to be called - “creationists” and “ID proponents”. I do note the relationship between ID and the creationism that it emerged out of; that’s fair. But “creationist” isn’t some insulting term we invented, it’s what they call themselves and ask to be called. It’s what the creationists who comment here call themselves.

There is no-one anywhere who is ever going to say “I would have supported teaching evolution, but you offended me by pointing out that the Bible isn’t a science book, so now I support teaching evolution denial”. If there were, such a person would be too irrational to rely upon anyway, and it would be a waste of time to try to keep them happy. But the truth is, anyone who goes around pretending that they were “about to” support teaching accurate science, but were offended by a picture of a sign in the NY Times and thus changed their mind, is simply playing games. This is a weird game that supporters of that agenda play. I’ve noticed this. They often claim that they “would have” supported something rational, but they were offended and had to go back to supporting authoritarian, unreasonable positions. Well, guess what. Those people will always find an excuse to be “offended”. I assume that this game reflects either cognitive dissonance, or a ruse to draw opponents into excessively trying to “compromise”, or both.

I strongly believe in a persuasive rather than antagonistic approach, but part of a successful persuasive approach is recognizing those who can’t be persuaded. They’ll always have some list of impossible conditions that they claim you can persuade them by meeting. But all you do by trying, is make yourself look weak and unsure to the people who can be persuaded. Any applicability of this statement to social and political situations other than the one we are directly discussing is intentional, by the way.

harold said:

“Creationist” is a word that was invented by creationists to describe themselves. If they want a new label they’ll have to tell me what they want. They call me all sorts of inappropriate and inaccurate names. I call them what they’ve asked to be called - “creationists” and “ID proponents”. I do note the relationship between ID and the creationism that it emerged out of; that’s fair. But “creationist” isn’t some insulting term we invented, it’s what they call themselves and ask to be called. It’s what the creationists who comment here call themselves.

There is no-one anywhere who is ever going to say “I would have supported teaching evolution, but you offended me by pointing out that the Bible isn’t a science book, so now I support teaching evolution denial”. If there were, such a person would be too irrational to rely upon anyway, and it would be a waste of time to try to keep them happy. But the truth is, anyone who goes around pretending that they were “about to” support teaching accurate science, but were offended by a picture of a sign in the NY Times and thus changed their mind, is simply playing games. This is a weird game that supporters of that agenda play. I’ve noticed this. They often claim that they “would have” supported something rational, but they were offended and had to go back to supporting authoritarian, unreasonable positions. Well, guess what. Those people will always find an excuse to be “offended”. I assume that this game reflects either cognitive dissonance, or a ruse to draw opponents into excessively trying to “compromise”, or both.

I strongly believe in a persuasive rather than antagonistic approach, but part of a successful persuasive approach is recognizing those who can’t be persuaded. They’ll always have some list of impossible conditions that they claim you can persuade them by meeting. But all you do by trying, is make yourself look weak and unsure to the people who can be persuaded. Any applicability of this statement to social and political situations other than the one we are directly discussing is intentional, by the way.

Repeated for emphasis and truth and awesomeness.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on November 21, 2013 7:02 PM.

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