NCSE Past Events

Discussing Tough Topics with Tact

Featuring: 
Brad Hoge
Time: 
11:00pm
Date: 
June 10, 2018
Location: 

Mountain View Masonic Lodge
890 Church Street
Mountain View CA 94041

It is hard to ignore the changes in our world, despite the best attempts of our leaders to sweep it under the rug. Join us for Discussing Tough Topics with Tact. Brad Hoge from the National Center for Science Education will explore ways to talk to family and friends about climate change and evolution.

A talk for Sunday Assembly Silicon Valley; admission is free and open to the public.

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Eugenie C. Scott

How Are Evolution and Climate Change Being Taught (or Not) in Schools?

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott
Time: 
4:00pm
Date: 
April 18, 2018
Location: 

1 West Auditorium, Wilson Hall
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Kirk Road and Pine Street
Batavia IL 60510

A talk for the Fermilab colloquium series. Free and open to the public.

Both evolution and climate change are “controversial issues” in education, but are not controversial in the world of science. Nonetheless, every year in the United States, state legislatures contemplate bills restricting the teaching of evolution, climate change and other allegedly “controversial subjects.” Known generically as “Academic Freedom Acts,” these proposed bills direct teachers to “critically analyze” (i.e., criticize) or to present the “full range of scientific views” (i.e., include creation science and climate change skepticism) of these scientific fields. In his analysis of data collected over decades by the National Center for Science Education, Matzke traced the origin of these “Academic Freedom Acts” in his “Evolution of Antievolution Policies” in Science, showing that these bills are the current manifestations of the creationism and evolution controversy that has dogged American science education for over 100 years. As documented by surveys carried out by the NCSE and others, such legislation has a chilling effect on the willingness of teachers to present these topics in the classroom, and both evolution and climate change are under-taught or avoided at the pre-college level.

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Ben Santer

Fingerprinting the Climate System

Featuring: 
Ben Santer
Time: 
7:30pm
Date: 
March 29, 2018
Location: 

Bankhead Theater
2400 First Street
Livermore CA 94550

Fingerprint research seeks to improve understanding of the nature and causes of climate change. The basic strategy is to search for model-predicted patterns of climate change (“fingerprints”) in observed climate records. Such studies exploit the fact that different factors affecting climate have different characteristic signatures. These unique attributes are clearer in detailed patterns of climate change than in global-mean climate information. Fingerprinting is a powerful tool for separating human and natural climate-change signals. Results from fingerprint research provide scientific support for findings of a “discernible human influence” on global climate.

Twenty-one years ago, at the time of publication of the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, most fingerprint studies relied on surface temperature. Critics of this work argued that a human-caused fingerprint should be identifiable in many different aspects of the climate system, and not in surface thermometer records alone. Climate scientists responded to this justifiable criticism by moving beyond early “temperature only” fingerprint studies, interrogating modeled and observed changes in rainfall, water vapor, river runoff, snowpack depth, atmospheric circulation, salinity, and many other climate variables. The message of this body of work is that human-caused fingerprints are ubiquitous in the climate system.

Santer’s talk looks back at over two decades of efforts to fingerprint the climate system, and will attempt to tell the story of how the scientific community identified a human-caused warming signal.

Ben Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) [and a member of NCSE's board of directors]. His research focuses on such topics as climate model evaluation, the use of statistical methods in climate science, and identification of natural and anthropogenic “fingerprints” in observed climate records. Santer’s early research on the climatic effects of combined changes in greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols contributed to the historic “discernible human influence” conclusion of the 1995 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His recent work has attempted to identify anthropogenic fingerprints in a number of different climate variables, such as tropopause height, atmospheric water vapor, the temperature of the stratosphere and troposphere, ocean heat content, and ocean surface temperatures in hurricane formation regions.

A talk in the Rae Dorough Speaker Series; tickets start at $32.

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Eugenie C. Scott

What Would Darwin Say to Today's Creationists?

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott
Time: 
12:30pm
Date: 
February 25, 2018
Location: 

Berkeley Community Media
2239 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley CA 94704

A talk for David Seaborg's Darwin Day event.

Many elements of the modern American creationist movement would be familiar to Darwin, especially the argument from design, which of course was very well known (and well-regarded) by educated people of his time. Young-earth creationism, on the other hand, would be puzzling to him; Bishop Ussher’s 4004 BC age of the Earth was not considered mainstream Christian theology in the late 19th century, though certainly the view had its adherents among some clergy. Darwin might have heard of the “scriptural geologists” who promoted a young-Earth view during the 19th century, but like other scientists of his time, he would have ignored them. The current creationist strategy of disclaiming evolution as weak science would have seemed more familiar to him, given the criticisms of evolution he encountered during his own time.

In addition to Scott's talk:

  • David Seaborg, evolutionary biologist, President of the World Rainforest Fund (worldrainforest.org), and organizer of Darwin Day for the last ten years, will again impersonate Charles Darwin, speaking on “The Principles of Evolutionary Theory Today.” His talk will explain how new species are created; how evolution undergoes major transitions, such as fish evolving into amphibians; predators and prey; competition between species; how species work together in symbiosis; and human threats to evolution and biodiversity.
  • Steve Garan, researcher on life extension and Chief Technology Officer at Trans Time Laboratories, will speak on how low-temperature biology can extend the human lifespan and uses of cryobiology in medicine. His talk is titled “Prospects of Increased Lifespan Through Low-temperature Biology.”
  • Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, award-winning leader on controlling and reducing nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war, will speak on “The Urgent Need for Confronting the Growing Threat of Nuclear War.”
  • Live reptiles, fossils, and a real Nobel Prize will be there for people to observe, touch, hold, and be photographed with. No one will be forced to touch or hold any animal they do not want to.
  • There will be opportunity for socializing, which is always a fun highlight of this event. Last year’s Darwin Day created a feeling of happiness, fellowship, and camaraderie that was exceptional, and we hope we can create that at this Darwin Day with your help.

Admission is $25.00 in advance for adults; $30.00 at the door the day of the event; $12.50 in advance for children aged 12 and under; $15.00 at the door the day of the event. Reception with speakers and food and drink from 4:45 to 6:00 PM for those who purchase tickets for it: $199.00 in advance for reception for adults; $225.00 at the door the day of the event; $99.00 in advance for reception for children; $125.00 at the door the day of the event. Pay via Paypal to http://paypal.me/darwinday or by check to David M. Seaborg, 1888 Pomar Way, Walnut Creek CA 94598-1424.

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Emily Schoerning

Talking about Evolution with Creationists: Practical Skills and Stories

Featuring: 
Emily Schoerning
Time: 
4:00pm
Eastern Time
Date: 
February 23, 2018
Location: 

Hall of Human Origins
National Museum of Natural History
10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington DC 20560

Come hear our informal discussion about the state of evolution education across our country, hear stories from the field, and learn skills to help you start positive conversations about evolution. Free and open to the public.

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Understanding Public Opinion Polling on Evolution

Featuring: 
Glenn Branch
Time: 
12:00pm
Date: 
February 18, 2018
Location: 

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
1413 NE 45th Street
Seattle WA 98105
 

What do the results of the Gallup poll really say about public opinion on creationism and evolution? In his minitalk for Darwin Day at the Burke, the National Center for Science Education’s Glenn Branch will explain that, on the one hand, the conceptual geography of the creationism/evolution controversy is more complicated than Gallup’s question acknowledges and, on the other hand, the public’s engagement with the controversy is less intensive than Gallup’s question presupposes.

Seattle Atheists logo

Part of Darwin Day at the Burke. Meet scientists, educators, and game designers. Celebrate the genius of Charles Darwin and the wonder of evolution. Snacks, crafts, activities for kids, and professional speakers for grownups, including Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education. Tickets give you access to the Burke Museum, 10–5, which is hosting its own crafts and activities. Sponsored by Seattle Atheists, an educational nonprofit.

For more information: 

There's space for only 100 people, so obtain a free ticket at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3319663.

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Eugenie C. Scott

What Would Darwin Say to Today's Creationists?

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott
Time: 
8:30am
Date: 
February 10, 2018
Location: 

Rebstock Hall #309
Washington University Danforth Campus
St. Louis MO 63130

A talk for Washington University in St. Louis's Darwin Day celebration.

Many elements of the modern American creationist movement would be familiar to Darwin, especially the argument from design, which of course was very well known (and well-regarded) by educated people of his time. Young-earth creationism, on the other hand, would be puzzling to him; Bishop Ussher’s 4004 BC age of the Earth was not considered mainstream Christian theology in the late 19th century, though certainly the view had its adherents among some clergy. Darwin might have heard of the “scriptural geologists” who promoted a young-Earth view during the 19th century, but like other scientists of his time, he would have ignored them. The current creationist strategy of disclaiming evolution as weak science would have seemed more familiar to him, given the criticisms of evolution he encountered during his own time.

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Kevin Padian

Myths of Mass Extinctions

Featuring: 
Kevin Padian
Time: 
7:30pm
Date: 
November 9, 2017
Location: 

La Peña Cultural Center 
3105 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley CA 94709

Everyone talks about mass extinctions. But what are they, really? Can anyone even define them? Let’s see.

Kevin Padian is Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Curator of Paleontology at the University of California Museum of Paleontology, and a past president of NCSE's board of directors.

A talk for Bay Area Skeptics; admission is free and open to the public.

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Eugenie C. Scott

Why Do People Reject Good Science?

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott
Time: 
2:00pm
Date: 
October 28, 2017
Location: 

Excalibur Hotel & Resort
3850 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas NV 89109

A talk for CSICON, the national scientific skepticism meeting.

Scientists are often puzzled when members of the public reject what we consider to be well-founded explanations. They can’t understand why the presentation of scientific data and theory doesn’t suffice to convince others of the validity of “controversial” topics like evolution and climate change. Recent research highlights the importance of ideology in shaping what scientific conclusions are considered reliable and acceptable. This research is quite relevant to the evolution wars, the antivaccination movement, the public’s opposition to climate change, and to other questions of the rejection of empirical evidence.

CSICON 2017 logo

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Eugenie C. Scott

Race, Science, and Society

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott
Time: 
4:30pm
Date: 
October 21, 2017
Location: 

Holiday Inn Orlando International Airport
5750 T.G. Lee Blvd
Orlando FL 32822

A talk for FREEFLO 2017, the annual conference of the Florida Humanist association.

The concept of race in biology or anthropology refers to groups of populations in a geographic region that share some characteristics. As such, races, as open genetic systems, are neither permanent, stable, pure, nor are they discrete units. The concept of race to most Americans, however, includes most of this list, and thus has no scientific foundation. Yet socially, race is extraordinarily important in American society, and misunderstanding biology and genetics can have serious consequences for our society. How should we approach this subject to both reflect science as well as our social needs?

FREEFLO logo

For more information: 
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