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NCSE in the Washington Post


NCSE was featured prominently in Peter Slevin's article "Teachers, Scientists Vow to Fight Challenge to Evolution," published in the May 5, 2005, issue of the Washington Post. The article begins with a review of the situation in Kansas, where the state board of education is conducting a contentious series of hearings on the place of evolution in the state science standards. The grassroots group Kansas Citizens for Science successfully called for a scientific boycott of the hearings, and Slevin suggests that its success is indicative of a "tactical shift" for defenders of evolution education: "Teachers and trade groups around the country are working to build e-mail lists, lobby lawmakers and educate the public about the perceived perils of intelligent design. Lawyers are examining prospects for court challenges. Evolution's defenders would love to repeat the success of nuclear physicist Marshall Berman, who led a counterattack after winning a seat on the New Mexico education board."

Slevin cites Project Steve -- NCSE's lighthearted assembly of scientists named Steve, Stephanie, etc. who accept evolution -- as one of the innovative tactics used to demonstrate how few scientists doubt evolution, and then devotes a paragraph to describe NCSE and its activities: "The NCSE was created to fight the dilution of evolutionary theory. With an annual budget of about $700,000, the California-based operation serves as a clearinghouse for worried teachers and citizen groups. Its Web site is stocked with news bulletins and teaching guides. Executive director Eugenie C. Scott rides the circuit, debating intelligent design proponents and giving speeches in what has become a growth industry." Scott was also quoted as saying (to an audience at the recent National Science Teachers Association convention in Dallas): "We know a phenomenal amount about evolution ... The science in creationism is terrible."

"The science organizations concede that the anti-evolution forces have a catchier message," Slevin continues: "'Teach the controversy' and 'Evolution is a theory, not a fact,' resonate with many Americans." But, as Steven B. Case, the head of the Kansas standards writing committee, told the Post, "There isn't a scientific debate and there's nothing for the kids to weigh. They say there's a controversy. We say there's not. So they say, 'See, we told you there's a controversy.' You get into these ridiculous rhetorical games." Such games are played around the country, and even at the federal level (with the so-called Santorum language, stripped from the No Child Left Behind Act but regularly cited by antievolutionists nevertheless). In Kansas, of course, the state board of education, with its 6-4 antievolutionist majority, is making up the rules as it goes along: expect a special evolution education update with a summary of the hearings and the media coverage from NCSE next week.