Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1982 v28 No 5
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 28, NUMBER 5, OCTOBER, 1982
Emanuel D. Rudolph, Editor
The Plant Science Bulletin is published six times a year, February, April, June, August, October, and December, at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Subscriptions $10.00/yr. Change of address should be sent to Editor. Second class postage paid at Columbus, OH.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CREATIONISM: A CALL TO ARMS
CREATIONISM: A CALL TO ARMS
Harlan P. Banks
Creationism suffered a reversal in Arkansas. Judge Overton, in a landmark decision (Science 19 Feb. 1982), overturned a state law that required creationism be given equal time in the schools when evolution was taught. The judge's decision is not binding in other Federal District Courts but it is certain to be heeded widely. For example, the New York State Commissioner of Education waited for the decision before declaring that creationism need NOT be given equal time in New York schools. The creationist ploy of requesting equal time -- "fair play" – is based on the assumption that there is a science of creationism and that, as such, it is the alternative to the evolutionary explanation of life on earth. The trial convinced judge Overton that "creation science" is simply a cover for a religious belief, hence something to be barred constitutionally from the schools. One witness for the state's defense even introduced the possibility that life originated outside our planet and was simply introduced on earth from outer space. This line of reasoning clearly negated the argument that there are just two explanations for life and that they alone deserved equal time.
In spite of the support the Arkansas trial gave to evolution, creationist pressure continues unabated at the 1evel of school boards, individual teachers, and publishers of textbooks who delete, or tone down, the content of evolution in their books. This is no time for complacency on the part of any scientist. The New York Times for Sunday Aug. 25 reports a Gallup poll in which 44 percent of the respondents believe that "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." Almost 25 percent of those respondents were college graduates. The sample was taken from some 300 areas in the country. There's more to the poll but this single figure ought to cause more University people to react to the problem. One recent reaction is that of John A. Moore in BioScience July-August 1982. His is a clear, concise exposition of the distinction between science and non-science creationism together with a plea for better teaching of what science is and what it can do.
Many creationist arguments are directed at evolution and the supposed gaps between major groups, gaps that make the theory untenable in their eyes. But evolution is really only the whipping boy. Creationist arguments range from astrophysics to radiometric dating. Their arguments are anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-freedom of thought. I find one technique, effective with lay groups from junior high students to adults, is to discuss my own research in easily understandable terms, reveal some data, construct an hypothesis from those data, and then encourage them to suggest ways in which they could negate or falsify the hypothesis. This leads to questions about replacing a falsified hypothesis, how hypotheses becomes theories and theories laws. Having teased the audience into operating like scientists, a few words on the unchanging dogmas of
"creation science" convince many of the basic difference between the two approaches. Of course those who are firm creationists remain unchanged. Our objective must be to reinforce those who are willing to accept science but who can be swayed by the distortions propagated by creationists.
Botanists, no less than other scientists, can join the fray, inform themselves of the arguments being used, and be prepared to talk to lay groups, give heart to school boards and teachers, and even modify their own teaching so as to further the understanding of the methodology of science rather than presenting facts and truths to be followed slavishly. A word of caution is in order. Talks are one thing, public debates with creationists are quite another. Creationists are thoroughly prepared for encounters and can tear an unprepared scientist to shreds, as you may have witnessed on TV. But there is an increasing number of individuals who have debated the leading creationists, Duane Gish and Henry Morris, before 1arge public audiences and won acceptance (see K. Miller, 1982, Creation/Evolution, vol.7: 1-13). Preparation for such a debate must be lengthy. Some sources of the now-abundant, pertinent literature are listed below. First, here are brief sketches of three new, significant books, one journal and one supportive organization, and then a short list of additional sources.
Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality? by Norman D. Newell, Columbia Univ, Press 1982. 199 p. $19.95.
This book is essential for any intelligent student, teacher, or lay person interested in the controversy. It is written by an eminent highly respected paleontologist who is justly concerned by the antiscience activity of creationists. The book is a deeply interesting presentation of the evidence for modern geological, paleontological, and evolutionary thought. It is logical, clear, and dispassionate. The historical development of ideas reveals that many originated before evolution was propounded and in the minds of persons who were traditionally religious. It is clear that espousal of evolution has no bearing on one's personal religious convictions. The controversy is kept in the fore-front by brief quotations from a creationist and from an evolutionist at the start of each chapter. Many of the commonest creationist arguments are effectively laid to rest by the force of geological and paleontological evidence, for example the impossibility of explaining all of geology on the basis of a single Noachian Flood, as creationists maintain. Here are the data that can be used to counter creationist arguments on a broad front. I urge they be used and that the book be enjoyed.
The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism. By Niles Elldredge. Pocket Books, N.Y. 157 p. $2.95.
The attraction of this book is that its author is a paleonotologist who has been misquoted by creationists to support their arguments. As a proponent of punctuated equilibria, he is treated by creationists as one who wants to overthrow evolution. His admission that some gaps in the fossil record are difficult to fill is enough for them to classify him as a foe of evolution. Herein one finds the distinction between evolution and the theories advanced to explain it, theories that in true scientific fashion are subject to revision as new evidence appears. Elldredge discusses many creationist interpretations and offers their more logical explanation in scientific terms. The book is less easy to read than Newell's. The author's occasional sharp-tongued, sarcastic remarks may obscure his meaning for some who are unacquainted with the subject matter. Nevertheless The Monkey Business is an important item in the arsenal of an evolutionist.
Evolution vs. Creation. By Frank Awbrey and William Thwaites. $5.00. Aztec Lecture Notes. San Diego State U., San Diego, CA 92182.
I have not yet seen this new book, but I have read articles by the authors. They have three times conducted semester-long courses in which half the class time was given to creationists who presented the creationist model as if it were a legitimate scientific hypothesis. The authors presented the evolution model. The creationists finally gave up on the course and this book gives the authors' conclusions about the creationist story.
Creation/Evolution. Frederick Edwards, Ed., A quarterly journal. $8.00 per year. Order from: Creation/Evolution, P.O. Box 5, Amherst Branch, Buffalo, NY 14226.
This highly useful, ca.50 p. per issue, journal is devoted to short articles dealing with specific topics such as the supposed human prints alongside dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River bed in Texas. It should also be recommended highly to high school teachers who are more directly in the line of fire of creationists.
Committees of Correspondence (C/C's). For information write: Committees of Correspondence, c/o Creation/Evolution, 953 8th Ave., Suite 209, San Diego, CA 92101.
At least 42 states now have a C/C, an informal group of persons interested in com- batting creationism on the local level. They need all the help they can get.
At the head of the list of other sources must be placed the address of the Institute for Creation Research because it is important to know what the opposition is doing and saying. You can secure a complimentary subscription to their monthly newsletter, Acts and Facts, and a lengthy list of other publications. The address: Institute for Creation Research, 2100 Greenfield Drive, P.O. Box 2666, El Cajon, CA 92021.
A few other good sources together with a reference to one or more articles in some of them are:
Science '81: e.g. Dec. 1981.
The American Biology Teacher: e.g. 43(5): 1981. The journal has now added an insert, Scientific Integrity, that tells of current developments.
The Science Teacher: e.g. April 1981, p. 29.
Natural History: e.g. 90:4-10. 1981.
BOTANICAL SOCIETY NEWS
New Corresponding Members Elected:
Thanks to Those Who Took the Opportunity:
The responses were discussed at the annual meeting of the Council in August. All responses pertaining to the American Journal of Botany were made available to the ad hoc committee on Journal operations. Some of the suggestions you made have already been acted upon; others soon will be. Aside from the Journal, other areas of concern included: (1) the need for more effective systems of collecting and publicizing information on employment opportunities; (2) a more active public relations effort to "sell" professional botany; and (3) a need to pay more attention to what we are about philosophically.
Interestingly, of the minority who mentioned dues at all, most felt them to be too low to adequately support the Society. We ask all of you to give this more thought. Would you be willing to pay more so that your Society could have stronger programs promoting professional botany?
We expect to send another letter to the membership during the winter. Look for it! Your Society needs your support and involvement. We will await your responses.
1983 Annual Meeting in North Dakota:
Developmental and Structural Sections Merge:
Extra Copies of Abstracts of Papers at Meetings:
Help Needed to Expand Positions Available Listings:
International Association for Plant Tissue Culture:
The officers for the IAPTC for the next four years (1983-1986) will be Chairman, Dr. C. E. Green in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota, Secretary, Dr. J. M. Widholm in the Department of Agronomy at the University of Illinois, and National Correspondent, Dr. Roberta H. Smith in the Department of Plant Sciences at Texas A&M University. In 1986 the 6th International Congress will be at the University of Minnesota.
The 1982 Jesse M. Greenman Award:
Lawrence Memorial Award:
Nominations for the 1983 Award are now being entertained. Major professors are urged to submit letters in behalf of outstanding doctoral students who have achieved official candidacy for their degrees, will be conducting dissertation research in relevant fields, and whose work would benefit significantly from the travel enabled by the Award. The Committee will consider nominations only -- no direct applications will be entertained. Letters of nomination and supporting materials should be addressed to: Dr. R. W. Kiger, Hunt Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; the deadline for their receipt is 1 May 1983.
Resolution of Canadian Botanists:
Fellowships for Women:
Radcliffe College is one of the four largest centers in the country awarded postdoctoral fellowships, and the only one primarily for women. It provides talented women with the time, space, and encouragement to shape and strengthen their professional lives and to make significant contributions to their fields. There are non-tenured faculty fellowships, and postdoctoral science scholars fellowship programs. Further information can be obtained from: The Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, 10 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 495-8212.
NATO Postdoctoral Fellowships:
Fulbright Visiting Lecturer Program:
AIBS Resolution on Science and Politics:
"Resolved, that the American Institute of Biological Sciences asserts firmly its conviction that scientific judgment should be free of political bias and that judgments by scientific review panels as to the scientific merits of proposed research be protected from political considerations. Accordingly, selection of members of such review panels should be based solely on the scientific competence of such members to serve, not in any way on their political views or party affiliation. Furthermore, the AIBS acknowledges the propriety of there being judgments made about research priorities or directions of research, and that political institutions exist, in part, to effect such judgments. AIBS cannot agree that the two kinds of (criteria -- scientific merit and political desirability -- should be merged, confused, or abused.
Rare and Endangered Native Plant Exchange:
Ridgway Center Opens at Missouri Botanical Garden:
Friends of the Farlow Formed:
Send subscriptions to or ask for information from: Van Shipp, 141 Emerson Dr., Versailles, KY 40383.
Assistant Professor of Horticulture at University of British Columbia:
Executive Director of Arboretum:
Postdoctoral at Louisiana State University:
Postdoctoral at Washington State University:
Postdoctoral at University of Kentucky:
NSF Graduate Fellowships:
MEETINGS AND COURSES
Agricultural Science Symposium:
Peter H. Raven AIBS President-Elect:
BSA Merit Awards to Erickson, Evert, Jensen, and Salisbury:
contributions to botanical science were the following:
Ray F. Evert, University of Wisconsin, Madison "for furthering understanding of ontogeny, structure and seasonal development of phloem; for analyses of leaf structure relative to solute transport and for coauthorship of a population general botany text, ";
William A. Jensen, University of California, Berkeley "for basic contributions in plant cytology, histochemistry and embryology: for preparation of three widely used botanical texts and for loyal service to the Botanical Society, "; and
Frank B. Salisbury, Utah State University "for contributions to understanding flower initiation, growth of alpine plants, and plant responses to ultraviolet light and gravity; for authorship of texts on plant physiology, general botany and plant form and function, and for service to the Botanica1 Society. "
Alston Award to Schilling:
Cookson Award to Zavada:
Cooley Award to Lane:
Darbaker Prize to Haselkorn:
Gleason Award to Cronquist:
Physiological Section Award to Schwab:
Pteridological Section Award to Cohen:
Mercer Award to Louda:
Stebbins Receives Honorary Degree:
Steere Receives Honorary Degree:
Schofield is Kansas Editor:
RECENT BOTANICAL BOOKS
Gopal, B., R. E. Turner, R. G. Wetzel, and D. Whigham, eds. Wetlands: Ecology and Management. International Scientific Publications, C-70 A. L. Sethi Nagar, Jaipur 302 004, India, 1982. 514 p. $30.00 for vol. 1; $12.00 for vol. 2 (a volume of the International J. of Ecol. and Environ. Management). (The proceedings of the First International Wetlands Conference held in Delhi in 1980 can be obtained from International Scientific Publications. )
Gregor, Hans-Joachim. Die jungtertiären Floren Süddeutschlands; Paläokarpologie, Phytostratigraphie, Paläoökologie, Paläoklimatologie. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Rüdigerstr. 14, D-7000 Stuttgart 30, West Germany, 1982. 287 p., illus. ISBN 3-432-92501-8. DM 49.00. (A south German Lower Miocene to Lower Pliocene fossil flora based on numerous fruits and seeds as well as leaves.)
Mitchell, Richard S. and Charles J. Sheviak. Rare Plants of New York State. New York State Museum Bulletin no. 445, 1981. Available from Gift and Exchange Department, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230. viii + 96 p., illus. $8.00 paper. (After a well written introduction which explains the problems and terms used for endangered species, 54 rare species are described and illustrated with information about habitat and distribution. Appendices list probable extirpated species, those recommended for protection, and those now protected in New York State.)
Rosowski, J. R. and B. C. Parker, eds. Selected Papers in Phycology II. Phycological Society of America, Book Division, P.O. Box 368, Lawrence, KS 66044, 1982. 866 p. $49.50 plus $3.35 domestic or $4.45 foreign for postage. (An entirely new, updated volume, extending and expanding the tradition of the well known volume I, is a very comprehensive reference on algae.)
Stuckey, R. L. and K. J. Reese, eds. The Prairie Peninsula - In the Shadow of Transeau: Proceedings of the Sixth North American Prairie Conference, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 12-17 August 1978. Ohio Biological Survey, 484 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, 1981. x + 278 p., illus., ISBN 0-86727-090-X. $12.50 + $2.50 postage, paper. (In addition to many contributed papers on prairie floristics and ecology, there is a 82 page invited paper section that treats the history of Transeau's Prairie Peninsula concepts, remembrances of other early contributors to prairie understanding, and important background information on the eastern prairies including an 11 page bibliography of Ohio prairie literature.)