Appalling that this would occur at an NEA meeting. Science denialism, including as it relates to evolution, deserves a place alongside of phrenology, and Creationist literature has all of the scientific validity of Der Ewige Jude.
In front of me [at the National Education Association (NEA) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2013] were hundreds of books, DVDs, and handouts spouting creationist myths and targeting evolution as falsehoods being distributed to teachers. It nearly paralyzed me to watch as teachers, attracted by the glow of free, new materials, took stacks to distribute back home. I saw thirty years of NCSE’s good work slowly wash away as each teacher took a book or DVD. What was worse was the knowledge that many, if not all of them, thought they were receiving good and legitimate science. The teachers were being fooled.
Now, I could spend the rest of this post talking about the many reasons why this is a problem. I could talk about how creationist myths misrepresent the evidence for evolution and the nature of science. I could talk about how by distributing this material, the creationists are setting teachers up for painful and expensive lawsuits, as teaching creationism in public schools has been found to be unconstitutional. Or I could simply ask if it wouldn’t be better not to waste students’ time.
But I want to talk about what NCSE is doing about this.
Simon Gregor, a London-based photographer, writes about his recent visit to Darwin's home, Down House, in Kent. Excerpt:
Most striking of all, though, was what I learned about the man himself. My impression had always been one of the intrepid explorer, circumnavigating the globe, and hopping between the inhospitable Galapagos islands with notebook in hand. In fact, whilst this is true of the first few years of his research, the vast majority of the rest of his life was spent working at home in the confines of Down House and its gardens, nursing his recurrent episodes of ill health, sending off for books and journals by post, and perhaps most importantly of all doting on the family he loved.
Alongside his famous On the Origin of Species, one of his other most influential scientific works was on the subject of earthworms, research which can’t often have drawn him much further than a few yards from his own back door. And this allowed him to spend time with his wife and children, to whom he was a loving and indulgent husband and father, often at odds with the more stringent etiquettes of his time.
It is striking how much of Darwin's scientific work was done in his own home, in part due to him being more invalided than many people realize. More than 40 diagnoses have been offered, including an inherited mitochondrial disorder Chronic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS), Crohn's disease, and--a diagnoses prominently mentioned at least once in the modern educational displays curated at Down House--Chagas Disease, tropical parasitic disease Darwin would almost certainly have acquired from a bite from the so-called "kissing bug" of the Triatominae family.
(Image: Darwin's study in Down House by Scott Isebrand; click to enlarge.)
Wonders of Life is the BBC science department's follow up to Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System, hosted by Professor Brian Cox OBE. Brian's blog related to the series is at http://wonders.posterous.com/.)
In addition to hosting the three documentary series, Brian Cox also co-hosts the BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage with comedian Robin Ince.
Photo: Brian Cox with a scorpion in the Mojave desert. Scorpions' exoskeletons contain a chemical that makes them fluorescent under the UV light ("black light"). No one knows why this.