email - March 2006

The ICSU and the AAAS

Chris wrote:

I just found out about this organization and thought I would pass along this info. The ICSU is an umbrella group of 133 national academies of science and international science unions. You may already know about it but if not, it might be worth checking into (what is their stance on evolution, ID etc.? is it part of membership?)

The ICSU

Since we had never heard of it before, we checked into it. We found their web site (http://www.icsu.org/index.php) and read some of their documents. They have a 68 page Strategic Plan 2006-2011 written December 21, 2005, titled “Strengthening International Science for the Benefit of Society—A Strategic Plan for the International Council for Science 2006-2011” . It said,

Founded in 1931, the International Council for Science (ICSU; the name was changed from the International Council of Scientific Unions in 1998, but the acronym has been maintained) is a non-governmental organization representing a global membership that includes both National Scientific Bodies (104 Members, January 2006) and International Scientific Unions (29 Members, January 2006). Through this international network, ICSU plans and coordinates interdisciplinary research to address major issues of relevance to both science and society. To this end, a number of Interdisciplinary Bodies have been established to address major interdisciplinary and international activities relevant to the mandate of ICSU. In addition, the Council actively advocates for freedom in the conduct of science, promotes equitable access to scientific data and information, and facilitates science education and capacity building. 1 [emphasis supplied]

So, we electronically searched all 68 pages of this document to see what it said about evolution. “Evolution” was only mentioned these three times.

ICSU is one of the oldest international non-governmental organizations in the world. It arose out of the evolution of two earlier bodies known as the International Association of Academies (1899-1914) and the International Research Council (1919-1931).

In order to implement the strategy outlined in this document, including the development of several major new initiatives, ICSU must build on its major strength, the National and Scientific Union Members. There will need to be a continuing evolution in ICSU’s structures and mechanisms and additional funding must be secured.

However, in order to fully implement the ambitious strategy laid out in this document, there will need to be a continuing evolution of the ICSU Secretariat and some additional skills will be required. 2

Isn’t this remarkable? Biological evolution is supposedly the most important concept in science, but teaching evolution wasn’t even mentioned in their 68-page strategic plan.

So, we checked their 30-page “Identification of Key Emerging Issues in Science and Society: an International Perspective on National Foresight Studies” dated September 15, 2004. If evolution is so important, one would expect it to be a Key Emerging Issue. Certainly evolution would be included in this list of 17 goals. It wasn’t. The word “evolution” appeared only in this footnote: “For a more detailed description of the nature of Foresight and of its evolution, see ...” Again, it has nothing to do with biological evolution because Foresight is the name of their strategic planning exercises.

Scientific areas that have been identified in a large number of Foresight exercises include the genetic modification (GM) of food or crops, new/renewable clean energy sources, human genetics and functional genomics, “other biotechnology” (e.g. production of antibiotics or enzymes using micro-organisms, and “gene machines” to make new proteins), telecare, biodiversity, water recycling, and water-use saving/efficiency technologies. 3

There were many other documents on their web page. We didn't read them all. But it appeared from the titles that it would be unlikely they would contain anything about Darwinian evolution.

The ICSU is pursing real science. They aren’t pushing a religious/political agenda.

The AAAS

In stark contrast to the email we received from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) just as this newsletter was going to press.

From: "AAAS Member Services" <aaas-response@eloop.goldlasso.com>
Reply-To: "AAAS Member Services" <aaas-response@eloop.goldlasso.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 10:50:00 -0500
Subject: Evolution: Join AAAS on the Front Line
Message-ID: <22372795@eloop.goldlasso.com>

Dear Colleague,

AAAS has become a leading voice in defending the integrity of science education as the evolution controversy continues, nearly 150 years after Charles Darwin introduced his theory. You can join us on the front line, helping to keep science pure, not politicized, and to support tomorrow's scientists who are in today's classrooms.

Reinforcing Those Who Teach Science
============================================

AAAS is providing educators with practical resources to meet the challenge of teaching evolution. For example, at a successful special event for local teachers during our Annual Meeting in February, we distributed a packet titled Evolution on the Front Line: An Abbreviated Guide to Teaching Evolution. Project 2061, our long-term science education reform initiative, prepared the materials, which included the educational benchmarks for evolution knowledge at specific grade levels and other valuable teaching tools.

You can access the guide, speaker presentations, and the AAAS opening video shown at this event at http://eloop.goldlasso.com/redir.php?s=4587&u=597812&f=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aaas.org%2Fprograms%2Fcenters%2Fpe%2Fevoline%2Findex.shtml.

We urge you to forward these links to educators you know.

A limited supply of the AAAS opening video DVD is available for members on a first-come, first-served basis. Send your request to webmaster@aaas.org.

Speaking Out in the Public Forum
============================================

AAAS has responded to mounting attacks on evolution, including attempts to insert intelligent design into science curricula, with a series of op-ed commentaries, letters, and high profile interviews. We have adopted a "local strategy" through which we intervene, whenever we can, at the local level where the real action usually is. From Kansas to Pennsylvania to Georgia and, most recently, South Carolina, we have defended evolution as one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science. We are being heard, but there constantly are new audiences to reach. We encourage you to add your voices, as scientists and educators defending the integrity of science and science education in our places of worship, schools, and community organizations. Visit our website for in-depth resources and news reports for the press and the public: http://eloop.goldlasso.com/redir.php?s=4587&u=597812&f=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aaas.org%2Fnews%2Fpress_room%2Fevolution%2F.

Join AAAS as a member at http://eloop.goldlasso.com/redir.php?s=4587&u=597812&f=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpromo.aaas.org%2Fjoin. Meet us on the front line as we work to keep only science in the science classroom and faith in the religion, philosophy, or literature classes, while encouraging both to work together in the community with the shared goal of benefiting humanity.

With your support, AAAS can increase its impact on the science education community. Consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Fund for Excellence. For more information, go to http://eloop.goldlasso.com/redir.php?s=4587&u=597812&f=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aaas.org%2Fmakeagift.shtml.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS

The email is all about their political efforts to force evolution into the classroom. Clearly, they are a money-grubbing political action committee whose primary mission is to force evolution to be taught uncritically in the public schools.

On the other hand, ICSU doesn’t think teaching evolution is worth mentioning in their strategic goals. Teaching evolution didn’t make their list of Key Emerging Issues. ICSU thinks science should be used to solve the world’s problems by finding ways to improve crops, obtain clean drinking water, fight diseases, and use technology to solve problems.

The AAAS says the United States is falling behind the rest of the world in science. They think the solution is to waste valuable science classroom time teaching fanciful myths about how dinosaurs evolved into birds. They want to divert time and money from legitimate science programs to study evolution. Is it any wonder why the U.S. is falling behind?

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Footnotes:

1 http://www.icsu.org/Gestion/img/ICSU_DOC_DOWNLOAD/863_DD_FILE_ICSU_Strategic_Plan.pdf
2 ibid.
3 http://www.icsu.org/Gestion/img/ICSU_DOC_DOWNLOAD/22_DD_FILE_SPRU0702-Report.pdf