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News from the open access movement

Friday, January 04, 2008

US National Academy of Sciences defends evolution in OA book

I no longer blog individual OA books, since there are now so many.  But I'll make an exception for this exceptionally important one: 

Science, Evolution, and Creationism, by a special committee of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press, January 3, 2008.  From the blurb:

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.

In the book, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes....

One important way in which this book is not exceptional is that the full text is free online.  All monographs from the National Academies Press are published in dual OA/non-OA editions, and have been since March 1994.

Update.  Also see the National Academies' press release, January 3, 2008.  It names the 16 members of the authoring committee and makes this statement:

...Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, opponents have repeatedly tried to introduce nonscientific views into public school science classes through the teaching of various forms of creationism or intelligent design.  In 2005, a federal judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, concluded that the teaching of intelligent design is unconstitutional because it is based on religious conviction, not science (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District).  NAS and IOM strongly maintain that only scientifically based explanations and evidence for the diversity of life should be included in public school science courses.  "Teaching creationist ideas in science class confuses students about what constitutes science and what does not," the committee stated....