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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. It is the United States' leading anti-creationist organization, and defends the teaching of evolutionary biology and opposes the teaching of religious views in science classes in America's public schools. They are also coordinating Project Steve.
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, which was incorporated as the NCSE in 1983. In 1987, author and lecturer Eugenie Scott, who holds a PhD in Physical Anthropology, became its executive director. The Board of Directors and official supporters, as explained by NCSE, "reflects our scientific roots."
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).
The organization's supporters include Bruce Alberts, 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 2008, the group has over 4000 members who are "scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious affiliations."
Activities and programs
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. 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). Consequently, the NCSE also opposes intelligent design and other "alternatives" to evolution because they are misleading euphemisms for creationism.
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 prominent historian of creationism Ronald L. Numbers and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins.
The NCSE offers a variety of lecturers, including biologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, for topics relating to evolution, science, and education. Also it hosts activities including trips and conferences. It publishes Reports of the National Center for Science Education bimonthly, containing book reviews and news. Additionally, it publishes books, such as a compilation of scientific analyses of creationist books.
In 2003, the NCSE gained international attention with Project Steve.
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),, and was cited extensively in Judge John E. Jones III's decision.
In April 2008, the NCSE launched "Expelled Exposed," a website critical of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed starring Ben Stein. The website received press attention and a large amount of traffic.
Scott appeared on Uncommon Knowledge, as NCSE spokesperson, twice in 2001 debating intelligent design creationist William A. Dembski. Then in 2004, NCSE was represented by Scott on Penn and Teller's Showtime television show Bullshit! on the episode "Creationism.". 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 Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, which documented Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
Staff and supporters
- Brian Alters — McGill University
- John R. Cole — science writer
- Barbara Forrest — Southeastern Louisiana University
- Martha J. Heil — American Institute of Physics
- Duane E. Jeffery — Brigham Young University
- Michael McIlwrath — Uff. Legale Nuove Pignone
- Andrew J. Petto — University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- Frank J. Sonleitner — University of Oklahoma, Norman
- Lorne Trottier — co-founder of Matrox
- President: Kevin Padian — University of California, Berkeley
- President-Elect: Elizabeth K. Stage — Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley
- Past President: Jack B. Friedman — Nassau Community College
- Secretary-Treasurer: Robert M. West — Informal Learning Experiences, Inc.
- Executive Director: Eugenie C. Scott
- Deputy Director: Glenn Branch
- Director of Operations: Philip T. Spieth
- Director of Communications: Robert Luhn
- Public Information Project Directors:
- Susan Spath
- Joshua Rosenau
- Steven Newton
- Anton Mates
- Faith Project Director: Peter M. J. Hess
- Education Project Director: Louise S. Mead
- Outreach Coordinator: Eric Meikle
- Archivist: Charles Hargrove
- Bruce Alberts — National Academy of Science
- Francisco J. Ayala — University of California, Irvine
- Frederick Borsch — Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
- Stephen G. Brush — University of Maryland
- Sean B. Carroll — University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Johnnetta B. Cole — Bennett College
- Joel Cracraft — American Museum of Natural History
- Brent Dalrymple — Oregon State University
- James E. Darnell, Jr. — Rockefeller University
- Richard E. Dickerson — University of California, Los Angeles
- Robert H. Dott, Jr. — University of Wisconsin, Madison
- James D. Ebert† — Chesapeake Institute of Johns Hopkins University
- Niles Eldredge — American Museum of Natural History
- Milton Fingerman — Tulane University
- Douglas J. Futuyma — University of Michigan
- Alfred G. Gilman — University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Laurie Godfrey — University of Massachusetts
- Stephen Jay Gould† — Harvard University
- Donald Hornig — Harvard University
- Norman H. Horowitz† — California Institute of Technology
- Clark Howell† — University of California, Berkeley
- Duane E. Jeffery — Brigham Young University
- Donald Johanson — Institute for Human Origins
- Patricia Kelley — University of North Carolina, Wilmington
- Philip Kitcher — Columbia University
- Richard C. Lewontin — Harvard University
- Paul MacCready† — Aerovironment, Inc.
- Lynn Margulis, University of Massachusetts
- Malcolm McKenna† — American Museum of Natural History
- Keith B. Miller — Kansas State University
- Kenneth R. Miller — Brown University
- John A. Moore† — University of California, Riverside
- David Morrison — NASA Ames
- Dorothy Nelkin† — New York University
- Bill Nye — TV Scientist
- William S. Pollitzer† — University of North Carolina
- Robert L. Park — University of Maryland
- Joseph E. Rall† — National Institutes of Health
- James Randi — James Randi Educational Foundation
- Michael Ruse — Florida State University
- James W. Skehan, S.J. — Weston Observatory
- Elliott Sober — University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Frank Sonleitner — University of Oklahoma
- Richard Stucky — Denver Museum of Nature & Science
- Neil deGrasse Tyson — American Museum of Natural History
- Marvalee Wake — University of California, Berkeley
- Mary Jane West-Eberhard — Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
- Tim D. White — University of California, Berkeley
- [† = deceased]
- ^ The Panda's Black Box, Nathaniel C. Comfort, Daniel J. Kevles, p6
- ^ Numbers(2006) p353
- ^ History of NCSE, National Center for Science Education
- ^ Tom McIver in Isis, quoted in Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, National Center for Science Education
- ^ Numbers(2006) p2
- ^ "About the National Center for Science Education". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://www.ncse.com/about. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- ^ Evolution and Creationism, Christian C. Young, Mark A. Largent, 2007
- ^ Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown, Michael Shermer, 2004
- ^ "Facing Challenges to Evolution Education". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://ncse.com/taking-action/facing-challenges-to-evolution-education. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- ^ Numbers(2006) p354
- ^ The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, pp66-67
- ^ "Staff". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://www.ncse.com/about/staff. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- ^ "NCSE Events". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://ncse.com/ncse-events. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- ^ "Reports of the National Center for Science Education". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://www.ncse.com/media/rncse. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- ^ "NCSE Books". National Center for Science Education. 2008. http://ncse.com/store/ncse-books. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- ^ Project Steve, National Center for Science Education, Last updated October 25, 2008, retrieved November 4, 2008.
- ^ Deception by Design, Lenny Flank, Lenny Flank, Jr., 2007
- ^ Wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, p32
- ^ "Expelled flunks the test". National Center for Science Education. April 15, 2008. http://ncse.com/news/2008/04/expelled-flunks-test-002310. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- ^ "Expelled exposed". National Center for Science Education. April 18, 2008. http://ncse.com/news/2008/04/expelled-exposed-002306. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- ^ "Darwin Under The Microscope: Questioning Darwinism". Uncommon Knowledge. December 7, 2001. http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uk/3004521.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- ^ "In Whose Image? Evolution and Spirituality". Uncommon Knowledge. December 7, 2001. http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uk/3004591.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- ^ "Creationism". Bullshit!. 2004. http://www.sho.com/site/ptbs/previous_episodes.do?episodeid=s1/c. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- ^ "Judgment Day in the news". National Center for Science Education. November 15, 2007. http://ncse.com/news/2007/11/judgment-day-news-001251. Retrieved 2008-05-17.