National Center for Science Education

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The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[1] The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization whose stated mission is to educate the press and the public on the scientific and educational aspects of controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution and climate change, and to provide information and resources to schools, parents, and other citizens working to keep those topics in public school science education. It claims 4,500 members that include scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens of varied religious and political affiliations.[2][3] The center opposes the teaching of religious views in science classes in America's public schools through initiatives such as Project Steve, and is regarded as the United States' leading anti-creationist organization.[4]

History[edit]

In 1980 Stanley L. Weinberg, a veteran high-school teacher in Iowa, began to organize statewide Committees of Correspondence "committed to the defense of education in evolutionary theory," modelled upon the committees of correspondence in pre-Revolutionary America. Their purpose was to keep interested parties informed about creationist endeavours and to share ideas for responses, allowing a political response at a local level. This grew into volunteer networks in most states, with the Creation/Evolution Newsletter interconnecting them,[5] which was incorporated as the NCSE in 1983.[6] In 1987, author and lecturer Eugenie Scott, who holds a PhD in Physical Anthropology, became its executive director.[7] The Board of Directors and official supporters, as explained by NCSE, "reflects our scientific roots."[this quote needs a citation]

In the 1990s, based upon its monitoring of creationist efforts, it issued warnings of high levels of official anti-evolutionism and a "sharp surge upwards" in creationist attacks on evolution, including attempts to downgrade evolution from "fact" to "theory" (see evolution as theory and fact) or present the "evidence against evolution" (see objections to evolution).[8]

The organization's supporters include Bruce Alberts, former President of the National Academy of Sciences; Donald Johanson, discoverer of the "Lucy" fossil; and evolutionary biologist Francisco J. Ayala. Also the late paleontologist and writer Stephen Jay Gould was a long-time supporter. As of 2012, the group has 4500 members who are "scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious and political affiliations."[9]

In November 2013 Ann Reid succeeded Eugenie C. Scott as executive director. Eugenie C. Scott served as executive director for 23 years, 1986 to 2013.[10]

Activities and programs[edit]

The NCSE acts as a central information and resource clearinghouse, and helps to coordinate the activities of people fighting creationists. It maintains up-to-date listings of current events and information regarding creationist endeavours and evolution education.[11] Historian of science Michael Shermer describes its website as being one of "the two best resources on the Internet on the evolution/creation topic" (the other being TalkOrigins Archive).[12] Consequently, the NCSE also opposes intelligent design and other "alternatives" to evolution because they are misleading euphemisms for creationism.[13]

NCSE "is religiously neutral, though it cooperates nationally and locally with religious organizations, as well as scientific and educational organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the National Science Teachers Association." Its willingness to engage positively with, and avoid taking sides against, religiously minded supporters of evolution has been noted by historian of creationism Ronald L. Numbers and atheist author Richard Dawkins.[14][15]

The NCSE offers a variety of lecturers, including biologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, for topics relating to evolution, science, and education.[16] Also it hosts activities including trips and conferences.[17] It publishes Reports of the National Center for Science Education bimonthly, containing book reviews and news.[18] Additionally, it publishes books, such as a compilation of scientific analyses of creationist books.[19]

In 2003, the NCSE gained international attention with Project Steve.[20]

In 2005 the NCSE assisted the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the most prominent case testing the constitutionality of intelligent design in public school science classes, and put their extensive library of creationist materials at the plaintiffs' disposal. Nick Matzke, the NCSE's Public Information Project Director at the time, served as liaison to the legal team, and was responsible for uncovering the substitution of "intelligent design" for "creationism" within drafts of Of Pandas and People, which became a devastating part of the testimony of Barbara Forrest (also an NCSE Director),[21] and was cited extensively in Judge John E. Jones III's decision.[22]

In April 2008, the NCSE launched "Expelled Exposed," a website critical of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed starring Ben Stein.[23] The website received press attention and a large amount of traffic.[24]

In 2012, the NCSE announced they would be engaged in efforts to keep climate change education, and global warming issues, safe from threats from special interests.[25]

Media[edit]

Scott appeared on Uncommon Knowledge, as NCSE spokesperson, twice in 2001 debating intelligent design creationist William A. Dembski.[26][27] Then in 2004, NCSE was represented by Scott on Penn and Teller's Showtime television show Bullshit! on the episode "Creationism".[28] Scott offered scientific views about the creationist and intelligent design movements. She noted, "it would be unfair to tell students that there is a serious dispute going on among scientists whether evolution took place. There's not." She further noted that "a lot of the time the creationists... they'll search through scientific journals and try to pull out something they think demonstrates evolution doesn't work and there is a kind of interesting rationale behind it. Their theology is such that if one thing is wrong with the Bible you have to throw it all out so that's why Genesis has to be interpreted literally. They look at science the same way. If one little piece of the evolutionary puzzle doesn't fit the whole thing has to go." Scott then explained "that's not the way science is done."

In November 2007 Scott discussed the NCSE's exploration of intelligent design on the NOVA documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, which documented Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.[29]

Staff and supporters[edit]

Directors[edit]

Officers[edit]

  • President: Brian Alters, Chapman University
  • Vice President/Treasurer: Bernard Winograd
  • Secretary: Robert M. West — Informal Learning Experiences, Inc.

Staff[edit]

  • Executive Director: Ann Reid
  • Deputy Director: Glenn Branch
  • Director of Operations: Rae Holzman
  • Director of Communications: Robert Luhn
  • Programs and Policy Director:
    • Joshua Rosenau
    • Steven Newton
    • Mark McCaffrey
    • Minda Berbeco
  • Director, Religious Community Outreach: Peter M. J. Hess
  • Education Project Director: Eric Meikle
  • Archivist: Charles Hargrove

Supporters[edit]

[† = deceased]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "AAAS Affiliates". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "About NCSE". January 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about NCSE". January 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  4. ^ The Panda's Black Box, Nathaniel C. Comfort, Daniel J. Kevles, p6
  5. ^ Numbers(2006) p353
  6. ^ History of NCSE, National Center for Science Education
  7. ^ Tom McIver in Isis, quoted in Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, National Center for Science Education
  8. ^ Numbers(2006) p2
  9. ^ "About the National Center for Science Education". National Center for Science Education. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  10. ^ "NCSE's new executive director". National Center for Science Education. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  11. ^ Evolution and Creationism, Christian C. Young, Mark A. Largent, 2007
  12. ^ Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown, Michael Shermer, 2004
  13. ^ "Facing Challenges to Evolution Education". National Center for Science Education. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  14. ^ Numbers(2006) p354
  15. ^ The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, pp66-67
  16. ^ "Staff". National Center for Science Education. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  17. ^ "NCSE Events". National Center for Science Education. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  18. ^ "Reports of the National Center for Science Education". National Center for Science Education. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  19. ^ "NCSE Books". National Center for Science Education. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  20. ^ Project Steve, National Center for Science Education, Last updated October 25, 2008, retrieved November 4, 2008.
  21. ^ Deception by Design, Lenny Flank, Lenny Flank, Jr., 2007
  22. ^ Wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p32
  23. ^ "Expelled flunks the test". National Center for Science Education. April 15, 2008. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  24. ^ "Expelled exposed". National Center for Science Education. April 18, 2008. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ "Darwin Under The Microscope: Questioning Darwinism". Uncommon Knowledge. December 7, 2001. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  27. ^ "In Whose Image? Evolution and Spirituality". Uncommon Knowledge. December 7, 2001. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  28. ^ "Creationism". Bullshit!. 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  29. ^ "Judgment Day in the news". National Center for Science Education. November 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]