Tag Archives: Evolution

The Evolution of Intelligent Design

By Paul DesOrmeaux

This article appeared originally in the December 2008 Skeptical Briefs newsletter and is used by permission of the Skeptical Inquirer.

Following is a concise, authoritative, and warped timeline that more or less accurately presents the history and “facts” behind the development of creationism, creation science, Intelligent Design, and more importantly, scientific illiteracy. For an alternative, but parallel, perspective of the “other theory,” purchase the 27th Edition of Darwin’s final publication, “The Human Evolution Colouring Book.”

Days 1 through 6 In the beginning, God creates night and day, firmaments, heaven, fruit trees, poison ivy, seeds, marijuana, every living creature–including a male and female, beasts, fowl, creepy-crawly things, and killer bees–the concept of multiplication, and then, unfortunately, pulls a groin muscle. Continue reading The Evolution of Intelligent Design

November 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

“A Virtual Tour of the Creation Museum: Cheaper Than the Real Thing and Far More Educational”

Speaker: Jason Wiles, Ph.D.

Business meeting at 6:30
Program at 7:00

Jason Wiles riding a dinosaur

Jason Wiles riding a dinosaur at the Creation Museum

Our November meeting will be at a familiar location, the Betts Branch Library in the Valley, but on a different day than usual, Monday.

Betts Branch Library
Meeting Room
4862 S. Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13205

View Google Map and Get Directions to Betts

The Program

This presentation casts a skeptical eye toward the “science” taught at the Creation Museum, a 27-million-dollar (and counting) attraction located on the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati, OH, metropolitan area. You will see dinosaurs living peacefully alongside humans and hear how “Creation Scientists” explain that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old. Of course, science tells us that the Earth is around 4-and-a-half billion years old and that dinosaurs were extinct long before humans evolved, but then, little, if any, of what the Creation Museum teaches is supported by science.

About the speaker

Jason R. Wiles grew up in Arkansas, a southern state in the heart of the Bible Belt with a storied history of controversy around the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dr. Wiles grew up in a creationist family and earned his first degree in biology at a private religious university where evolution was largely absent from the curriculum. He went on to earn master’s degrees in both biology and geosciences, both heavy on evolutionary evidence and theory. After having taught biology and other sciences at a number of colleges, universities, and institutions of secondary education for several years, he recognized that a great many students had similar misconceptions and related difficulties in learning about biology that were rooted in misunderstanding of evolution, whether or not these barriers were based on religious beliefs.

Given his own personal experience, and given the centrality of evolution to a deep understanding of the life and Earth sciences, Wiles was motivated to learn more about the teaching and learning of evolution. He eventually earned a Ph.D. at McGill University focusing on evolution education, and for the past four years has served as Research Manager of the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership between McGill and Harvard University. He joined the faculty in the Biology Department at Syracuse University in 2008 and enjoys a secondary appointment in the SU Department of Science Teaching.

Related articles of interest by Jason Wiles

The missing link: Scientist discovers that evolution is missing from Arkansas classrooms
The Huckster’s Artful Dodging on Evolution
A threat to geoscience education: creationist anti-evolution activity in Canada

Paul DesOrmeaux, skeptical satirist

Neighboring skeptic, founder of the Rochesterville Skeptics Club (Rochester, NY), and skeptical satirist Paul DesOrmeaux has a humorous article in the November/December Skeptical Inquirer titled “More Cool Careers for Dummies: Ghost Hunter,” which is a follow up to an earlier March/April SI Forum article titled “Cool Careers for Dummies: Psychic Detective.” Along with articles in the Skeptical Briefs and Openly Skeptical (Skeptics Canada) newsletters, Paul is a regular contributor to BASIS (The Bay Area Skeptics’ newsletter).

As the movement’s best-known humorist, he has lampooned a variety of pseudoscience topics, such as cosmetic acupuncture, “The Secret,” Scientology, horoscopes, chiropractic (his most controversial piece), and many others. His goal is to introduce skepticism to a broader audience by combining reason and science with humor and satire. So, if you know anyone considering a career in chasing disembodied spirits for fun and profit, have them check out the newest SI issue.

No Skeptics in the Pub in November

We don’t have a Skeptics in the Pub event planned for November. However, if someone wants to volunteer to organize it, let us know, and we’ll put the information here.

CNY Skeptics booth at Westcott Street Fair

Lisa Goodlin and David Harding at the CNY Skeptics booth at the 2008 Westcott Street Fair

Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

The middle school science classroom is often students’ first contact with a scientific presentation on evolution. This is an expanded version of the author’s article “Evolution and Middle-Level Education: Observations and Recommendations” that was published in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of NCSE Reports. Note that this article is based primarily on the author’s experience rather than academic research. A list of selected resources follows.

Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

By Vince Sperrazza

August 2008

The 12 year old hand goes up at the first mention of the word evolution, “Is it true we came from monkeys?” It’s the first day of school, and I mention evolution in a list of topics for the year ahead in my 7th grade life science classes.

That’s the nature of middle school students. Impulsive, inquisitive, focused on their peers, yet they can still be excited about learning. As their brains try to catch up with their fast growing bodies, they are “hormones with feet,” as one adolescent psychologist characterized them many years ago. Continue reading Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

October 2008

CNYS group photo

Skeptics in the Pub

October 14, 2008 at 7:30 PM
Al’s Whiskey Bar
321 S Clinton St
Syracuse, NY 13202


Come hang out with us at the next Skeptics in the Pub. We can’t wait to see old friends and meet new ones. We’re changing the time because our Skeptics in the Pub super organizer, Jess, has a class and can’t make it any earlier than 7:30.

Speaker Meeting

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“First Contact: Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students”

Speaker: Vince Sperrazza

Close View, Shell Imprint Fossil by cobalt123 on Flickr

Close View, Shell Imprint Fossil by cobalt123 on Flickr

Business meeting at 6:30
Program at 7:00

Our October meeting will be at a new location. We are moving our meetings around this year to see if we can find a place with the right mix of accessibility, parking, and general ambiance for our needs.

DeWitt Community Library
Buckland Meeting Room
3649 Erie Blvd E
Shoppingtown Mall
DeWitt, NY 13214


The middle school science classroom is often students’ first contact with a scientific presentation on evolution. Veteran middle school teacher Vince Sperrazza will share experiences, recommendations, and resources designed to help educators and prospective educators give students a stimulating, positive introduction to the science of evolution.

The presentation and discussion will include answers to these questions:
What are middle school students like?
What does the NY State Curriculum say about evolution?
How is evolution integrated as the unifying theory of biology in a middle level science classroom?
What successful strategies are useful in introducing the concept of evolution to 12 year olds?

Vince Sperrazza taught middle level science, including evolution, at the Mount Markham Central School District, located in Herkimer County, for 33 years before retiring in June 2006. During his years in the classroom, Vince mentored many student teachers. He authored the article “Evolution and Middle Level Education: Observations and Recommendations” which appeared in the January-April 2005 issue of the journal Reports of the National Center for Science Education. The National Center for Science Education is a “not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education.”

Expelled Review

By David Harding

Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is certainly the most dishonest movie I have ever seen, portraying Intelligent Design supporters as political martyrs to Big Science, academia as the equivalent to the USSR, and doing everything it can to link Charles Darwin and evolution directly to the Holocaust. It truly is despicable and intellectually insipid in a way I thought not possible until now. Continue reading Expelled Review