News of the WeekScientific Literacy

NSF Board Draws Flak for Dropping Evolution From Indicators

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Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 150-151
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5975.150

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In surveys of scientific literacy, Americans are less likely than people in the rest of the world to believe that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang. But the 2010 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators, the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) biennial compilation of the state of global science, omits any mention of those two hot-button issues in its chapter on public attitudes toward science and technology. A section describing the survey results and related issues was edited out of the massive volume by the National Science Board, NSF's oversight body and the official publisher of Indicators. Board members say the answers don't properly reflect what Americans know about science and, thus, are misleading. But the authors of the survey disagree, and those struggling to keep evolution in the classroom say the omission could hurt their efforts.