In 1994, NCSE established two special awards: the "Huxley Award" for contributions to evolution education was named after Thomas H. Huxley, who advocated public education as ardently as he supported the theory of evolution; the "Friend of Darwin" award honors NCSE members for outstanding effort to support NCSE and its goals. NCSE's Board of Directors recognized four "Friends of Darwin" in 1998: Barbara Forrest (see RNCSE 17:6), Jere Lipps, Betty McCollister, and Richard Trott.
Jere Lipps, Professor of Integrative Biology and past Director of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley, is always on the alert for ways to improve the public understanding of science. Under his direction the Museum he directs grew not only as a leading research institution, but as a leader in outreach to science teachers and the public. For example, in 1991, when the Blackhawk Quarry site was donated to the Museum, Lipps helped create a "community project" in which people from the San Francisco Bay Area could participate in the excavation of specimens. The Museum regularly conducts teacher workshops and lecture series for the surrounding community, and has created a World Wide Web site that is a fine resource for teaching about evolution.
Lipps also works hard to assure that the media accurately present science, especially evolution. Among his many activities in this area, he works with the Council for Media Integrity to encourage accountability among both news and entertainment broadcasters, and serves on the Paleontological Society's panel of consultants who make themselves available to provide reporters with background information on paleontology.
Betty McCollister was actively defending evolution education even before the founding of NCSE. Long-time members will recall that NCSE was founded as an umbrella organization by autonomous "Committees of Correspondence" working to oppose antievolution legislation in a number of states. McCollister was a member of the Iowa Committee of Correspondence, serving as President in 1988. At that time she was in the midst of a 3 year effort to collect and edit position statements by educational, scientific, and religious organizations supporting evolution education; thanks to her, a major accomplishment of NCSE's first year was the publication of the first edition of Voices for Evolution.
No task has been too grand or too tedious for Betty, who has participated in countless panel discussions of evolution and evolution-creation controversies, and written on the topic for a variety of publications including USA Weekend and her regular column in the Des Moines Register. In her years as a contributing editor of NCSE Reports, Creation/Evolution, and Reports of NCSE, she has spent hundreds of hours of painstaking proof-reading, and offered countless thoughtful suggestions, conscientiously representing the viewpoint of non-technical readers.
Richard Trott is one of those VIPs who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the show goes on. While he has contributed articles to NCSE publications and the Talk.Origins FAQ (http://www.talkorigins.org), he has never hesitated to share informally information he has gained from his research in creationist literature and his attendance at creationist lectures. Like Betty McCollister, Trott has devoted countless hours to proofreading NCSE Reports and Creation/Evolution, the predecessors of Reports of NCSE. (When you heard him exclaim, "Bring on the intravenous coffee!" you knew another issue would appear soon.) A computer scientist, Rich has also helped bring the defense of evolution to cyberspace, taking an active role in organizing the information collected at the Talk.Origins FAQ.
Still an undergraduate at Rutgers University when he joined NCSE, Trott recently moved to California and had hardly arrived when he visited NCSE's office looking for ways to help. He has donated hardware, software, and programming expertise so that we could add Macintosh computers to our office equipment, adding to our flexibility and improving our ability to work with graphic designers and printers on producing Reports of NCSE and other printed materials.
As NCSE Executive Director Eugenie C Scott has said, "NCSE depends heavily on its members for so much of the important work we do that the hard work and imagination contributed by Friends of Darwin are indispensable. This award is just a small part of our thanks."
There are scientific theories, and there are "other theories". Scientific theories are explanatory principles that have been tested and confirmed. Each scientific theory is a structure of ideas, confirmed by preponderant evidence.... [It] explains a body of observations and thus explains some aspect of nature.In the Science Probe books: the writers do not acknowledge any modern interpretation of the fossil record or any genealogical connections among the organisms of different periods. One could easily gain the impression that each period's "characteristic collection of life forms" originated de novo. You may find interesting the reviews on The Textbook League's Web site.
The "other theories" are Bible stories. The expression "other theories" is one of the [euphemisms] that creationists employ when they try to promote the teaching of biblical myths in science classes. They use it in lines like these: "If students learn about the evolution theory, they have to learn about other theories too," or "If schools don't teach other theories about the universe, they shouldn't teach any theories at all."
...Addison-Wesley Biology [is] a book that Addison-Wesley sells for use in high schools. In both the original version (1994) and the later version (1996), evolutionary biology is introduced in chapter 13. And in both versions, the material at the end of chapter 13 includes this "portfolio" exercise:There are opponents to the scientific theory of evolution. Conduct library research on the various beliefs and on the evidence for other theories about the origin of life.For sheer frugality, that's hard to beat. In a single short item, doubtless based on some creationist handout, the Addison-Wesley writers have done 3 of the creationists' favorite routines. They have conflated theories with mere "beliefs", as if those were equivalent. They have promoted one of the creationists' baffle-phrases - "other theories". And in keeping with the creationists' established practice, they have falsely equated "evolution" with "the origin of life".
"This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants, animals and humans.
"No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.
"The word "evolution" may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (White moths, for example, may "evolve" into gray moths.) This process is microevolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing to another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macroevolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things."
There are no evolutionary transitions fossilized anywhere, although billions of fossils are there still preserved in the rocks.What first made me suspicious about this was the past tense of the sentence ("had appeared") which Morris quoted. Second, I knew that the implication Morris was gleaning from the quote simply wasn't true, and given my understanding that Robert Carroll is a competent paleontologist, I suspected something might be wrong. So I went to look up the context. The text selected by Morris for quotation is indicated in italics.
"One of the outstanding problems in large-scale evolution has been the origin of major taxa, such as the tetrapods, birds, and whales, that had appeared too suddenly, without any obvious answers, over a comparatively short period of time."
Professor Carroll, an eminent Canadian paleontologist, is well aware of such highly publicized fossils as Archaeopteryx (the alleged half-reptile, half-bird) and the so-called walking whale, but he still has to acknowledge that birds and whales arose suddenly without obvious ancestors(Morris 1999: b).
Is macroevolution conceptually different than microevolution? The main driving forces are the same as at the species level: population growth, genetic variation, and behavioral plasticity. At both time scales, external factors of the biological and physical environment control the rate, scope, and direction of change.So not only does the very next sentence in the paragraph contradict Morris's implication but a few sentences later Carroll specifically refers to the existence of intermediate forms and explicitly states that the evolution of higher taxa did not occur at a different rate than that of groups at lower taxonomic levels. Even if one were to disagree with Carroll about the facts of the matter it is clear from the context that Carroll is saying the very opposite of what Morris implied he was saying.
One of the outstanding problems in large-scale evolution has been the origin of major taxa, such as the tetrapods, birds, and whales, that had appeared to rise suddenly, without any obvious answers, over a comparatively short period of time. Increased knowledge of the fossil record has greatly increased our understanding of these and other transitions, and show that they do not necessarily require processes that differ from those known to occur at much lower taxonomic levels. To Simpson and others of his generation, higher categories were recognized by a combination of factors: morphological and adaptive distinction, a significant number of included taxa, and appreciable longevity. From examples considered in this text, it can be seen that adaptive change, morphological change, and radiation can be decoupled in that each may occur at a different time. We now see that the overall rate of evolution is not greatly faster during the origin of a group than it is within the ancestral or the descendant lineages, and with the discovery of intermediate forms, we see that they are not necessarily any more poorly represented in the fossil record than single lineages might be at other stages of evolution (Carroll 19997: 391).
Despite the enormous gap in anatomy, physiology, and way of life between modern birds and the other long-recognized vertebrate classes, the fossil record provided singularly informative evidence of the origin of birds long before we understood the ancestry of tetrapods, amniotes, or mammals. Historically, the question of the origin of birds has concentrated on a single genus, Archaeopteryx from the Upper Jurassic, which appears as an almost ideal intermediate between "reptiles" (specifically dinosaurs) and birds....until recently little was known of either the ancestry of Archaeopteryx or of animals intermediate between this genus and essentially modern birds of the later Mesozoic. Within the past twenty years, a host of new discoveries have begun to fill both these gaps, outlining the accumulative evolution of avian characters over a period that spans approximately 40 million years, from the obligatory terrestrial dinosaurs to an essentially modern avian anatomy(Carroll 1997: 306-7)And what about whales, which Morris also takes great pains to emphasize as a problem Carroll must admit to?
The transition between mesonychids and primitive but obligatorily aquatic whales is represented by a sequence of intermediate animals from the upper portion of the lower Eocene and the lower half of the middle Eocene of Pakistan, continuing into the later middle and upper Eocene of Egypt and southeastern United States (Fig. 12.20). This sequence extends over a period of 10-12 million years, beginning with riverine sediments, including primarily fossils of terrestrial mammals, through shallow coastal marine, to deep neritic deposits at the edge of the continental shelf. Several genera are recognized, showing the progressive reduction in the size of the appendicular skeleton, freeing the tail for aquatic locomotion, and a succession of modifications in the structure of the middle ear (Carroll 1997: 330).Morris concludes his article saying, "most everything they [evolutionists] say...seems potentially something that can be used against them" (Morris 1999:c). Well, I suppose if one is willing to rip a scientist's words completely out of context and twist them to imply the exact opposite of their original intent, then Morris might be correct.