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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

News-in-brief: Lecture today on teaching evolution in public schools

Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, will be giving a talk on evolution in public schools today in Haring Hall. The talk, titled “Defending the Teaching of Evolution in Public Schools: After Kitzmiller — What?” will take place in 2205 Haring Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

The talk was organized by the UC Davis Science Policy Journal Club after legislation challenging the teaching of evolution was proposed this year in several states, including Tennessee, Indiana and New Hampshire.

Colin Cunliff, a physics graduate student and member of the Science Policy Journal Club, says that the controversy keeps arising because opponents of evolution don’t need to win court cases.

“They keep losing court cases like Kitzmiller v. Dover, but that doesn’t matter,” Cunliff said. “All they have to do is generate enough controversy that high school biology teachers are intimidated into watering down their instruction on evolution, or avoiding it all together.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) found that 97 percent of its members agreed that humans evolved over time. However, a recent report by the National Science Foundation found that only 47 percent of Americans think that humans developed from earlier species of animals, and only 61 percent think that scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time.

The case of Kitzmiller v. Dover occurred in 2005, when 11 parents of students in the Dover Area School District of Pennsylvania sued the school district for advocating intelligent design as equally viable as evolution. The court decided that intelligent design is not science.

“[After Kitzmiller v. Dover], we’re really entering a third phase, involving proposals to disparage and belittle evolution while remaining silent about any supposed alternative,” Branch said.

The talk is free and open to the public.

— AMY STEWART

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