NTS LogoSkeptical News for 19 August 2003

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

TFN Action Alert - Register to testify for Sept 10 hearing

Today, mainstream Texans and members of the Texas Freedom Network launched the STAND UP FOR SCIENCE campaign at a press conference in the lobby of the Texas Education Agency building in Austin. Over 50 business leaders, scientists, clergy members, teachers and parents came out to show their support for keeping good science standards in Biology textbooks.

We hope to mobilize as many voices as possible for the next public hearing at the State Board of Education and secure petition signatures to stand up against Biology textbook censorship. Please visit our website at www.tfn.org to download and sign the petition.

We need your testimony at the Sept 10 hearing on Biology textbooks. The deadline to register to testify is tomorrow, August 21 at 5:00 p.m. Please email Larry Thomas at the Texas Education Agency (lthomas@tea.state.tx.us) to sign up testify, or call us (512) 322-0545 get more information about testifying. Please plan to attend the hearing even if you cannot testify. Please contact heather@tfn.org if you can attend.

Below is the press release from today's press conference.


RELEASE Contact: Casey Kaplan
August 20,
2003 (512)

Austin, Texas With one day left to sign up to testify on proposed Biology textbooks, a group of citizens launched a campaign they say protects the best interests of science, religion and business.

The proposed textbooks have drawn fire nationally from an organized group that wants their creationist perspective included in the books. But today, a group of citizens announced the launch of Stand Up for Science, a grassroots campaign encouraging people to speak out against the push to undermine the study of evolution.

Over 50 Texans gathered at the William B. Travis Building, home of the Texas Education Agency, to show support for keeping good science in Biology textbooks.

"Our economy is increasingly driven by science and technology, and to undermine the study of science threatens our children's ability to compete for jobs and our state's ability to compete for business," said David Vom Lehn, a network systems engineer and former technical recruiter.

"Individual religious beliefs about the origin of life are sacred and illuminating, and they should be studied in homes and religious congregations, just as evolution is studied in science classrooms and laboratories," said Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, Chairman of the Texas Freedom Network. "The question for the State Board of Education is not religion or science, but which should be taught in science classrooms."

Dr. Bethune added, "As a Texan, a pastor and a father of two high school boys, I want the strongest possible science curriculum and textbooks available to them."

"There is no debate about evolution in college textbooks, where scientists select the best books for use," said Dr. David Hillis, Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas. "The debate is at the level of secondary school textbooks, precisely because that is where non-scientists can exert influence. These objections to the textbooks are not about science or facts; they are about pushing a political and religious agenda."

"Our kids are already falling behind the rest of the nation in science education," said Amanda Walker, a Texas certified high school Biology teacher. "To water-down our textbooks is irresponsible and reckless."

The second and final public hearing at the State Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday, September 10. The deadline to sign up to testify is Thursday, August 21.

Evolution-only teaching under fire

Texans push for inclusion of Intelligent Design in public school classrooms


Posted: August 17, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Carrie Olson
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com

Texas citizens are trying to rally support for Intelligent Design instruction in public school biology classes which, they say, currently teach evolution as fact, without any consideration of alternative views.

To that end, conservative groups in Montgomery County, Texas, are planning a forum for next month titled "The Censorship of Critical Thought in our Public Schools: Intelligent Design vs. Evolution."

"Most of [the forum's supporters] have natural science backgrounds. We want to bring back critical thinking to schools so students can learn to evaluate ideas instead of falling victim to indoctrination," Jim Jenkins, president of the local Republican Leadership Council told WND. "If we can bring back critical thinking we've done a lot to advance the cause of science."

"We are also pushing for policy change so a teacher who believes in creationism can work in the public schools without feeling threatened," he added.

Mark Cadwallader, a chemical engineer and another panel member, says public school textbooks promote evolution as a scientific fact when it remains an unproven hypothesis. He said he would be satisfied if public school biology teachers would at least include a discussion of evolutionary theory's shortcomings, reports the Magnolia Potpourri newspaper.

"Evolution is a hypothesis which should be presented with all the arguments, pro and con, as true science requires," Cadwallader told the local paper. "We want to go forward with a petition signed by members of the community to get school boards to enact a new policy requiring educators to teach the strengths and weaknesses of the evolution theory."

Cadwallader doubts the forum will cause an immediate policy change, but said he hopes the petition will demonstrate public support for balanced biology instruction and motivate school boards to act.

The petition calls for warning labels on textbooks containing statements about evolution and asks that teachers alert students to religious, non-religious or philosophical bias found in textbooks and other curriculum materials.

The Magnolia school board president said she would be willing to hear the public's concerns regarding how evolution is taught in the classroom, reported the Potpourri, but thinks it could be difficult to monitor how teachers present the issue to students.

The battle between evolutionism and creationism in the classroom is not limited to public schools.

As WorldNetDaily reported, Patrick Henry College, a Virginia-based Christian institution, was rejected for accreditation by the American Academy for Liberal Education because of its policy requiring faculty to adhere to a "biblical worldview" regarding the origin of the world. The denial is currently under review.

"I think what they are saying is that because we teach creationism we've introduced what to them is faux science into our courses," Patrick Henry College President Michael Farris told WorldNetDaily. "They ignore the fact that we teach about evolution. It's not good enough to teach about evolution; apparently we have to teach that evolution is the only way to think about things."

Jenkins and his colleagues hope to change that attitude, at least in their school district.

"We're giving away free tickets to the American Humanists and other groups who would disagree with us," Jenkins told WorldNetDaily. "About half of the forum will be Q&A where we invite the audience to get involved. We expect a lot of participation."

The forum will take place at Montgomery County College on Sept. 18 and will include discussion of four major topics: The Origins of Life, Natural Selection, The Fossil Record and DNA: The Language of Life.

Jenkins and others like him believe a little hard work and perseverance can make a big difference in the public arena, especially in the local community where their efforts have the greatest impact.

"The Christians and conservatives are just sitting on their hands, but when we fight back just a little bit we make huge gains," Jenkins said.

Carrie Olson is an editorial intern for WorldNetDaily.com.

A New Day, Some New Science


August 15, 2003

By Pete Winn, CitizenLink associate editor

Move over, Darwin. Intelligent Design has arrived, and it's time to welcome the new kid to town.

"In the future, everyone will be entitled to 15 minutes of fame." artist Andy Warhol.

Darwinism — the notion that all species of plants and animals evolved from earlier forms, and that a blind process, natural selection, determines which forms survive — has had a grip on intellectual culture for 150 years.

Now advocates of a relatively new way of thinking about the origins of life say it's long past the time for the dead Charles Darwin (and adherents of his dying theory) to realize their 15 minutes are up and welcome a new kid to town. It's called Intelligent Design (ID) — the idea that the intricacies of life are too complex to have merely happened randomly. To coin a bromide — "ID is a theory whose time has finally come."

Indeed, you can tell ID has "arrived" because, in the last couple of years, the theory has made a major splash as state and local school boards have debated whether to allow students to learn about ID and other alternatives to Darwin's theory of evolution.

You can also tell because some top academics are publishing articles in top scientific journals about it.

But perhaps the best sign that ID has "made the big time" — pro-ID videos are being shown on television. Even public television.

Since May, "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" has aired on more than a dozen major PBS affiliates. Publicly funded TV stations in Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, have shown thousands of viewers the Focus on the Family/Illustra Media video, which makes a positive case for Intelligent Design theory.

It's a milestone, according to Dr. Mark Hartwig, worldview analyst at Focus on the Family. It's almost a miracle that the film, which explores the discovery of some of the amazingly intricate complexities that are present in the cell, even made it to public TV.

"Evolution has basically been the official religion of PBS," Hartwig said. "To see them allowing 'heretics' in the 'pulpit' is a remarkable thing."

For Dr. Stephen Meyer, director and senior fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at Seattle's Discovery Institute, the TV airings are signs of a larger trend — the growing acceptance of Intelligent Design as a scientific theory at the same time serious cracks in the edifice of Darwinism are beginning to show up.

"We've been really delighted by this development, because PBS reflects the consensus in the scientific world," Meyer said. "For many, many years, it has aired mainly programs that promote a Darwinian evolutionary point of view."

Added Hartwig: "What I'm hoping is that this is a sign that the people are beginning to take what I call a 'truly liberal attitude' towards ID, and that is: 'If there's a substantive case to be made here (against evolutionism), let's air it.' "

Blowing Darwin 'Out of the Water'

The case against Darwinism — and for ID — is substantive and substantial. Hartwig and Meyer say academic philosophers and scientists are beginning to publish books with major academic publishers and articles in major scientific journals questioning some of the presuppositions of Darwinism.

"The debate about Darwinism — and the debate about Intelligent Design — is being validated at a very high level of academic discourse, and it's getting very difficult to ignore," Meyer said. "Most biologists have defended Darwinism as a 'well-supported theory,' and many of the scientists who are a part of the Intelligent Design movement are challenging that idea, and in fact many who aren't a part of the movement are critiquing various elements of Darwinian theory."

Hartwig and Meyer are reluctant to publicize the names of pro-ID scientists and the academic journals publishing their research, for fear that Darwinists may exert pressure to try to squelch the studies.

There is absolutely no doubt, however, that ID is making inroads in local and state school districts where, Hartwig maintains, it is blowing Darwinism "out of the water."

Credit belongs not only to the openness of school board members, but to the compelling messages contained in "Unlocking the Mystery of Life," and a companion video called "Icons of Evolution."

Jim Fitzgerald, president of Coldwater Media, which produced "Icons" in association with Focus on the Family, said thanks to the passage of the No Child Left Behind education reform law, every state will have an opportunity to reevaluate its science standards over the next four or five years.

"These battles are going to be ongoing for a number of years," Fitzgerald said.

Already, ID is gaining hold.

• In Ohio, a decision was made last December by a nearly unanimous vote of the Ohio Board of Education to require students to critically analyze key aspects of criticism of Darwinian theory.

"Additionally, though the state board did not mandate the teaching of Intelligent Design, many of the board members made it clear they understood that there was a local option for individual teachers to discuss with their students alternative theories to Darwinism," Meyer said.

• In the Cobb County (Ga.) school district, which encompasses greater Atlanta, the school board passed a "Teach the Controversy" proposal recognizing that there are scientists on both sides of the evolution issue, and students need to know the arguments from both the perspective that favors Darwinism and the critique of it, as well.

"Icons of Evolution," by the way, was broadcast on local commercial TV stations in Ohio before the state school board voted.

"We have also had a number of people approach their local cable companies asking them to show the video," Fitzgerald said. "One (unidentified) gentleman in Georgia got the video into 350,000 homes. And he bought radio advertising time to let people know when it was going to be shown."

The Real ID

What's the science behind ID's momentum? According to Meyer, "New discoveries in fields like palentology and molecular and cell biology are putting Darwinism under such intense pressure, it will not survive."

"In fact, we've learned a lot about biology since the Civil War — that's really how long it's been since the theory came into being," Meyer said. "I don't think much of biology fits with Darwinian theory. We're learning that life is much more complex than people imagined when Darwinian theory was first being formulated. That has created challenges to the Darwinian explanation of where we came from."

Perhaps the best way to understand the complexity argument is to consider DNA, the building block of human life, which ID adherents say could not have simply "developed" randomly.

"Bill Gates, the computer guru behind Microsoft, has compared DNA to a computer program," Meyer said, "only much more complex than anything we've ever created. We ask people to reflect about that. Bill Gates hires computer programmers to design his software. If there is, effectively, software in the cell, that is powerfully suggestive evidence that there must have been a 'programmer' — an intelligent designer of life itself."

In the end, the job is simply to boldly go where no non-Darwinist theory has ever gone before. The idea that their case is finding listeners and people willing to consider the truth about origins — whether from television, academic discussions or in public school classrooms — simply delights ID adherents.

"Darwinism still has sway in some quarters, but that won't always be the case," Hartwig said, "It's basically a new day. It may still be morning, but it's definitely a new day."

FOR MORE INFORMATION 1. The two videos "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "Icons of Evolution" are available from Focus on the Family as part of a video set, "The Evolution Set."

2. For information on Intelligent Design, please see the Discovery Institute Web site.

3. The video "Icons of Evolution" is available for placement on local cable TV systems, or local broadcast stations," free of charges — if you meet certain modest restrictions. Jim Fitzgerald, president of Coldwater Media, producer of "Icons of Evolution," said he anyone interested only needs to call (719) 488-8670 to obtain advance permission and let him know of their plans.

You can receive family news stories by email. Sign up now for this complimentary service.

Copyright © 2003 Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Evolutionist overreacts


August 18, 2003


Unfortunately, evolutionist Sean Carroll does not appear to have actually read the guest column by John G. West he so furiously attacked in his letter Wednesday. Carroll falsely accused West of citing an article by Carroll ''as purported support for his view that alternatives to contemporary evolutionary science ought to be presented in biology textbooks.''

In fact, West in his article never advocated that ''alternatives to contemporary evolutionary science . . . be presented in biology textbooks.'' Still less did he imply that Carroll's article advocated such a view. West merely urged that clear errors in textbook presentations of evolution should be corrected, and that ''students should be exposed to legitimate scientific (not religious) controversies over evolutionary theory.''

Carroll's article was cited on one point and one point only - to show that even evolutionists concede there is a legitimate scientific debate over whether microevolutionary processes can be extrapolated to explain macroevolution. Carroll acknowledged the existence of such a debate in the quote cited by West, and later in his article he even called it ''one of the longest running debates in evolutionary biology.''

It is preposterous to claim that West somehow misrepresented Carroll by simply pointing out Carroll's own admission. West's larger argument, to which Carroll does not reply, is that students ought to be able to read about such scientific debates in their textbooks.

Rather than answer West's real argument, Carroll invented a straw man to attack. In what has become a standard ploy among Darwin activists, Carroll tried to silence legitimate debate with an unfounded character attack. How ironic it is that Carroll resorted to a spurious charge of misquotation when he is the one engaging in wholesale misrepresentation.

Rob Crowther
Discovery Institute
Seattle, Wash.

Darwinism critics have viable view


August 18, 2003


In his letter to the editor Thursday, Oak H. DeBerg made the completely audacious claim that those who testified at the July 9 State Board of Education hearings on behalf of textbook accuracy in the biological sciences were pushing ''a conservative religious view . . . at the expense of good science.''

Because I am one of those who testified, I can assure you that DeBerg is making this up out of whole cloth.

In my testimony I offered the uncontroversial suggestion that textbooks that address the topic of evolution offer to their readers, the state's students, accurate portrayals of current scientific data as well as thoughtful questions that have been raised against the Darwinian paradigm by credentialed scholars whose works have been published by university press monographs and in peer-reviewed periodicals.

As I have pointed out in my latest monograph, ''Law, Darwinism & Public Education'' (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) and three recent law review articles, in Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, and San Diego Law Review, offering arguments critical of Darwinism, or even scientific alternatives to it, in a public school science classroom is not religious as long as the lesson plans rely exclusively on publicly accessible, or secular, reasons.

In fairness to DeBerg, perhaps he is suggesting that it is ''a conservative view'' for the SBOE to require that Texas schools offer scientifically accurate textbooks that include new and provocative arguments by leading scholars. But I would not say such a thing, for all decent citizens - including liberal secular ones - want to advance the cause of truth and accuracy in our school curricula and texts.

Francis J. Beckwith,
M.J.S., Ph.D.
Associate professor of
Church-state studies
Associate director,
J. M. Dawson
Institute of Church-State Studies
Baylor University

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.shtml which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

In the News

Today's Headlines - August 18, 2003

from Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Those smallpox shots millions of Americans got as children may still offer some protection, a new study suggests.

But half of all Americans have never received the vaccine, and many scientists believe protection wanes over time for those who did.

The vaccine has been assumed to offer its best protection for from three to five years.

However, according to a paper scheduled for the September edition of the journal Nature Medicine, lab tests can detect immune response in 90 percent of vaccinated people for many years, some for up to 75 years.

from The Washington Post

Nearly a decade after the launch of several international initiatives to raise awareness about the declining health of the world's coral reefs, these "rainforests of the sea" remain in a desperate struggle for survival, with most dying off in ever greater expanses and only a few reef systems showing evidence of modest recovery.

The ongoing destruction, documented by scientists in recent surveys, is largely the result of human activities, including overfishing, pollution and sediment runoff due to deforestation, the researchers say. If current trends continue, they warn, the vast majority of these valuable ecosystems -- many of which have been growing for hundreds or thousands of years -- are likely to disappear within the next few decades.

At the same time, researchers are discovering entirely new kinds of coral communities, including some that live at tremendous depths, far from the sunlight and warm waters commonly associated with coral reefs.

from Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- It almost sounds too fantastic to be true, but a growing amount of research supports the idea that DNA, the basic building block of life, could also be the basis of a staggeringly powerful new generation of computers.

If it happens, the revolution someday might be traced to the night a decade ago when University of Southern California computer scientist Leonard Adleman lay in bed reading James Watson's textbook "Molecular Biology of the Gene."

"This is amazing stuff," he said to his wife, and then a foggy notion robbed him of his sleep: Human cells and computers process and store information in much the same way.

from The San Francisco Chronicle

California forest ecologists are rigging redwood trees with networks of wireless sensors, using some of the tiniest such devices ever made to track the health of Earth's biggest living things.

Fifty "micromote" sensors, each packed with its own battery and transmitter within a weatherproof container the size of a pill bottle, now dangle like earrings from the branches of three trees growing in the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden's Mather Redwood Grove.

The sensors continuously monitor light, moisture and temperature at varying heights. The project has turned the stately grove in Strawberry Canyon, a popular setting for weddings and photo shoots, into a proving ground for a technology that experts say could revolutionize forest science.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Bigfoot, We Hardly Knew Ye
A Legend Dies?


J. Scott Wilson , Staff Writer

POSTED: 8:41 a.m. EST December 20, 2002
UPDATED: 3:23 p.m. EST July 31, 2003

Having recently finished "American Gods," Neil Gaiman's incredible tale of gods of the old world meeting the gods of the new, my mind of late has been turning around some of our own American mythos and beliefs. Except for the tribal beliefs of the American Indians, many of which go back millennia, we're simply not "old" enough to have much in the way of an entrenched pantheon.

Of course, there are regional legends -- the h'aints of the Smoky Mountains, the tales told in the Louisiana swamps and even the mythical reports of Michael Jackson appearing as a normal human being in California. But when it comes to a nationwide mythos, we just don't have many components.

And then we go and kill off one of the few we DO have. The legend of Bigfoot has captured the national imagination for decades. The furry fellow has appeared in movies, and even in a memorable (to those of us obsessed with late-night TV) two-part episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man."

Recently, however, after the death of Washington state resident Ray Wallace, the legend has taken what just might be a fatal blow.

Wallace, you see, claimed to his family to have invented the entire Bigfoot legend by having a friend carve a pair of gigantic feet, then using them to walk around and create huge tracks on the ground at his California construction company back in 1958.

As proof, his family exhibited what they say was the original set of "feet," and a smaller set used to mimic a "Lady Bigfoot."

Cliff Lebrecque, however, is a Bigfoot true believer, and he's not taking the Wallace family story lying down. He claims to have seen, and even filmed, the giant primate, and that it was not a man in a monkey suit.

Lebrecque says he's got thousands of Bigfoot artifacts, and he plans to put them on touring display next year after he retires.

Even the realms of academe contain a few true believers. Idaho State University professor Jeff Meldrum said accounts of something like Bigfoot go back to the 19th century.

Whether Wallace invented Bigfoot, or just intensified a legend that already existed, what's the harm in believing? What's more fun: a walk in the woods, or a trek through what might be the territory of a large, furry evolutionary castoff who might have designs on your carefully packed granola snacks?

I say, go out to your local patch of woods this week, between all your holiday shindigs, and look for tufts of hair, disturbed leaves, or any sort of evidence that a hairy critter with Shaq-size feet has been padding around. Believe!

Herbs for Hot Flashes: New Attention, Mixed Results

The evidence of the benefits of popular herbs for relief from symptoms of menopause has been limited and mixed.


The New York Times
August 12, 2003

Terry Heaton will not find out for at least another year whether the pills she tried for hot flashes were just blanks or really black cohosh, the much ballyhooed Native American remedy for women's ailments.

As a participant in a federally financed study at Columbia University who dutifully recorded the frequency and severity of her hot flashes over 12 months, Ms. Heaton, a 56-year-old retired airline employee, could see that her menopausal symptoms were diminishing. She was definitely sleeping better.

Yet, toward the end of the year, Ms. Heaton, a Manhattan resident, was still having mild anxiety attacks. So she wondered whether she had taken a placebo after all.

"I believe it was the black cohosh because I felt it was helping me," Ms. Heaton said. "But I don't know for sure."

Neither do experts, who are still identifying black cohosh's crucial ingredient and sorting out how the flowering herb works, not to mention trying to confirm whether it really does work significantly better than placebos.

Stunned by the string of negative studies about hormone replacement, including research released last week that emphasized the risk of heart attacks and breast cancer, millions of menopausal women are searching for safe substitutes. Their quest for relief from hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms has coincided with the first wave of results from studies begun over the last several years of popular herbs and other nonpharmaceutical treatments.

But to the dismay of enthusiasts of alternative medicines, the evidence of the benefits has been limited and mixed. As a result, experts are urging caution in using products that are just beginning to be understood, are of inconsistent quality and are sold in nontraditional ways.

"The first thing we tell women about the alternatives is that it's really important to realize that a product is not necessarily safe just because it's `natural,' " said Amy Allina, policy and program director for the National Women's Health Network in Washington. "The same questions we ask about drugs should be asked of natural remedies too. Why are you taking it? What are the risks associated with it? Are there studies proving it's effective for the purpose you're taking it?"

Last year, Dr. Adriane J. Fugh-Berman, an expert in women's health at George Washington University, and Dr. Fredi Kronenberg, a professor of physiology at Columbia, surveyed scientific studies on complementary and alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms. Most of the tests have focused on hot flashes, the most common and concrete symptom that drives women to seek relief.

Their review, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, found that in 10 clinical trials of five herbs and one herbal mixture tested for hot flashes, just black cohosh has shown a beneficial effect.

In most of the studies, the improvements for black cohosh were not drastically different than for those taking hormone replacements or placebos, the review noted. There is still no published information on the long-term safety of black cohosh because none of the completed studies lasted more than six months, their review said.

A more recent article, in the journal Menopause, cites the growing body of evidence that black cohosh is safe. But the author, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, said she did not recommend using it for longer than six months.

"Take it for six months, then re-evaluate," said Dr. Low Dog, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico.

Despite the caveats, black cohosh had $59 million in sales last year, a more than fivefold increase from 1998, according to The Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication in San Diego.

The Chinese herbs dong quai and ginseng showed no benefit for hot flashes, the survey in The Annals of Internal Medicine found. Neither did oil of evening primrose or red clover, another Indian folk remedy.

One of the most recent studies, published last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the effects of two brands of red clover on hot flashes were just slightly better than that of the placebo.

In urging a cautious approach, Dr. Fugh-Berman cited the roller coaster ride of the hormone replacement therapies that the herbs could in theory replace. Millions of women began taking replacements after studies found an association between good health and their use. It was not until vast studies like the Women's Health Initiative applied more rigorous methods that the picture began to change.

"Herbs have not come out looking very good for the treatment of menopausal symptoms so far," Dr. Fugh-Berman, an assistant clinical professor of medicine, said. "One thing the Women's Health Initiative should have taught us all is don't trust observational studies for ascertaining the benefits of anything."

Even soy, now being sold in pill form, is not the miracle cure originally believed, and it may affect the body differently as an extract than as a food, several experts said.

A staple in Asian cuisine for thousands of years, soy foods are considered a possible reason for the lower prevalence of menopausal symptoms reported by women in China, Japan and Korea.

The bean has gained popularity on American tables, and its active ingredients, a group of plant estrogens known as isoflavones, have been turned into an extract that has become the biggest-selling dietary supplement in the so-called menopause market. Sales of soy supplements have quadrupled for five years, to $102 million last year, according to The Nutrition Business Journal.

But of eight studies of soy or isoflavone supplements that lasted more than six weeks, three showed significant improvement in hot flashes, according to The Annals survey. The longest study showed no benefit for hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms at 24 weeks. Other published results showed only modest benefits.

All beans contain plant estrogens, not just soy, and eating more of them is a harmless way to try to manage menopause, several experts said. But the same presumption of safety, they added, cannot be made for extracts sold over the counter, many of which are packaged in high concentrations. "Soy foods are safe," Dr. Kronenberg said. "Soy extracts remain to be seen."

Similarly, acupuncture and deep-breathing and relaxation exercises are considered benign therapies that have shown benefits in the few studies conducted so far. But wild yam cream has proved to be useless. And although progesterone cream showed significant improvements in hot flashes in a study whose primary focus was bone density, it also caused vaginal spotting in 8 of 30 women.

Another complication in the study of alternatives is that hot flashes have been extremely responsive to placebos. They seem to improve, at least temporarily, with just about any intervention. Most therapies have a placebo response rate of 30 percent in clinical trials. The rate with hot flashes is 40 to 50 percent. Researchers have yet to figure out

why. "We don't know what causes a hot flash, to this day," said Dr. Kronenberg, who has been studying the phenomenon for 15 years.

In a series of federally financed trials at Columbia, where she is director of the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Dr. Kronenberg is studying not only black cohosh, but also flax seeds and macrobiotic diets.

Flax, a grain rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and plant estrogens, is being added to the diets of some participants to see whether it helps hot flashes, sleep problems and other menopausal symptoms. One participant, Maria Paniagua, 57, a technician for a telephone company, said she felt no changes but enjoyed losing some weight. More enthusiastic was Patt Haring, 59, a retired teacher with glowing skin who said the night sweats that had been driving her crazy improved within weeks after she started following the strict macrobiotic diet. "It was really liberating," Ms. Haring said, "to be off all those hormones and learn which foods you can eat to heal yourself."

At the University of Illinois, an expert on medicinal plants, Norman Farnsworth, said his laboratory had confirmed that black cohosh acted on the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates hormones and body temperature, a development that could support the herb's safety.

Native Americans did not historically use black cohosh for hot flashes, but rather as an aid for labor and as an antidepressant, said Dr. Low Dog, who is of Indian descent and has been practicing herbal medicine for 25 years.

"What I find interesting is that its historical use was for melancholy," Dr. Low Dog said. "And now studies clearly show it is not estrogenic, but appears to be working through the central nervous system. This would be consistent with its historical use."

Arnold Schwarzenegger Delivers Enthusiastic Statement Of Support For Chiropractic


The International Chiroopractic Association was again honored to host bodybuilding champion, world-renowned film star and friend of chiropractic, Arnold Schwarzenegger as its featured speaker at the 9th Annual Symposium on Natural Fitness held March 2-3, 2001 in Columbus, Ohio. Greeted by an enthusiastic assembly of over 200 DCs, students, and friends of chiropractic, Mr. Schwarzenegger's presentation at the Symposium included an emphatic, enthusiastic and personal statement about chiropractic. A chiropractic patient for many years, Arnold congratulated ICA on its 75th anniversary of leadership in the profession and expressed his appreciation for ICA's ongoing presence at the Arnold Classic events each year.

Mr. Schwarzenegger told the gathering:

I am so thrilled to have you again here at The Arnold Classic, and to have the International Chiropractors Association hold meetings with us here each year for so many years. I want to tell you how much you mean to us, because you bring a lot to the Arnold Classic every year, by being a part of it, and because this is a profession that is one of the most noble and wonderful professions…It is truly one of the few professions that really helps people in a straightforward way with no monkey business, like some of the other professions promise to help, but this chiropractic is the real thing.

This year, Mr. Schwarzenegger also spoke about the role chiropractic has played in his movie career, detailing how he arranged for a chiropractor to be on the set of his new movie "Collateral Damage" and how this Doctor of Chiropractic worked all-hours (more) to take care of the actors and film crew, making it possible to continue safely and productively with heavy schedules and repeated exertion throughout the stressful production schedule. Mr. Schwarzenegger commented, "Eventually, you know, your body wipes out and you start getting injuries when you are tired and you don't take care of yourself, and you all know that. And this wonderful chiropractor came to the set about three times a week helping people work with her adjustments; I would see people leaving the trailer where she had her table, saying, 'I don't feel it any more, this feels really good, I can go back to work.' "

This unique event, sponsored by the Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science of the International Chiropractors Association for the ninth consecutive year in conjunction with The Arnold Schwarzenegger Bodybuilding Classic and Fitness Expo, brought together top authorities in sports chiropractic with celebrities from the fitness world for a weekend of education, inspiration and communication. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic and Fitness Weekend features a series of the world's most prestigious annual bodybuilding, fitness and martial arts competitions and is sanctioned by the International Federation of Body Building (IFBB). The Arnold Fitness Weekend is the largest fitness event outside of the Olympics and has been held in Columbus, Ohio for over the past 25 years.

The ICA Natural Fitness Symposium focuses on the close relationship between fitness and health, and brings together the sport of bodybuilding and chiropractic science to educate all participants on the value of natural health through exercise. Through clinical presentations and lectures combined with practical demonstrations, the Symposium provides the latest information available on the development of optimum performance in sports and training on injury prevention in the context of chiropractic care. This year's event, hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, included a multitude of fitness stars including bodybuilding champion and fitness author Mr. Bill Pearl, wellness leader and physical endurance record holder, Dr. Bob Goldman, and Dr. Tom Deters, Editor of Weider publication's worldwide exercise magazine Muscle and Fitness. (more) Arnold Schwarzenegger has been an enthusiastic and outspoken chiropractic patient for many years, and highlighted the importance of chiropractic care for himself and his family. Arnold told the group:

Chiropractic is about health and fitness. This is why I'm so excited to have the chiropractors here from all over the world each year, because you represent exactly the same thing. Chiropractic is about health and fitness. Chiropractic is about natural, preventive health care. What you are doing, and I have experienced this for the last 20 years myself on my own body, means that whenever I have a problem-or even if I don't have a problem-and I go to a chiropractor, my problems are gone for a long time.

And everyone understands what we're trying to do is not just promote the sport of bodybuilding, but fitness--health and fitness, for us, is everything in a naturally healthy lifestyle. So that's why it is so great for us to work together. As you know, the Arnold Classic is getting bigger every year. The Arnold Fitness Expo grew another 50% since last year, and we have over 1500 gymnasts from around the US and the world, along with martial artists and other athletes. So it's really great with you present because what the whole weekend really means is, let's bring everyone together that represents health and fitness. We don't care if it's someone that lifts 500 tons of weights a day to keep their bodies in shape, or if someone is a gymnast, or if someone gets bodies in shape by chiropractic. This is why I'm so excited to have the chiropractors here from all over the world each year, because Chiropractic is about health and fitness. Chiropractic is about natural, preventive health care. We all believe in the idea that health and fitness are fun, that it makes you happy, it makes you feel good, your whole outlook in life is totally different when you feel strong, when you feel healthy, when you feel secure with your health and fitness. I want to thank you all for being a part of this and it's great to have all of you with us.

Chiropractic offers athletes of all sports a natural, drug-free way to achieve peak performance, prevent injury and maintain a rigorous training schedule. Chiropractic participation in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Weekend and Bodybuilding Classic highlights the positive and rapidly growing relationship between athletics, fitness and chiropractic. Plans for the gala 10th Year Anniversary Symposium with Arnold March 1-3, 2002 include increased national and international attendance. For more news about this and other ICA Fitness Council programs, visit ICA's website at www.chiropractic.org.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

More than 5,000 people visit crop circles


"Due to 5,000 people walking in the crop circles, they are looking well tramped. Sorry," reads a sign erected by Erv Willert, owner of the Hensall area farm where crop circles were discovered on July 30.

Clint Haggart

Clinton News-Record — "Due to 5,000 people walking in the crop circles, they are looking well tramped. Sorry," reads a sign erected by Erv Willert, owner of the Hensall area farm where crop circles were discovered on July 30.

According to his wife, Ansberth, Willert's estimation of 5,000 visitors is conservative, considering on Aug. 4 more than 1,000 people signed a guest book the family has left out for visitors to sign.

She added last Monday was the day the fewest people came to the formations and not all of them signed the book.

Where wheat once lay in a spiral pattern, a trodden dirt path has formed where visitors' feet have walked.

"The signature book is cool to read," Ansberth said, adding one person wrote Elvis was responsible for the crop circles and another said he knew what causes the circles but couldn't say because he works for the CIA.

Ansberth said some researchers from London, Ont., took a sample of wheat from both outside and in the circles. She said they told her the wheat seeds from inside the circle may yield as much as 300 times more than normal wheat.

So far, Ansberth said, "It's been a positive experience. We've meet people from all walks of life." She added she never would have met these people if the crop circles did not draw them to the field. Some of the people who visited the farm suggested that the crop formations are the work of hoaxers with boards tied to their feet.

Experts disagree

Matt Rock, of the Canadian Crop Circle Research Network (CCCRN), said he's been to five real crop circle formations and added the Hensall formation is genuine. "It's real. I don't think it's a hoax." Rock said the circles have been positioned almost exactly on an east/west axis and the accuracy is "pretty damned good."

The crop circle researcher said a crop circle formation found in Stewarttown, the first sighting this year, may be pointing directly to the Hensall formation.

The Hensall formation looks like two cupped hands coming together and Rock suggested it represents two countries coming together. If the formation was split in two, he added the direction of the wheat falling are flowing in opposite directions.


Using a film camera, Roger Sugden, assistant state director of Mutual UFO Network for Northern Indiana, captured a white orb floating over the Hensall formation.

Eliminating all possibilities for an explanation, Sugden, of Fort Wayne, Ind., said that the orb cannot be dust in the air because the ground and wheat was wet, there were no insects in the air, he didn't use a flash, he made sure the camera had a clean lens and the photo was taken during the day.

Sugden, an aerial photographer, said only one photo showed the white orb. He added that he prefers film to digital because film can be better analyzed.

Because the ground was soggy when he studied the formations, he said he wasn't able to do many tests. He added he couldn't take soil or plant samples back to the US and he couldn't bring his radiation testing equipment to Canada.

A global positioning system (GPS) was used to find out the longitude, latitude and elevation of the crop formation, said Sugden, adding inside the formation, elevation varied from 411 to 1,300 above sea-level, which isn't normal. Outside the crop circles all readings were at 852 feet above sea-level. One of the signs that the formation is genuine is the expulsion cavities on the wheat. He explained steam builds up in the crop when the circles are formed and it blows little holes in the swollen node, which are the weakest part of the stalk.

While investigating the circles, Sugden said he and another researcher stayed with the Willert family. "They're very nice people." He added it was nice to be able to walk across the road to get to the circles. While he doesn't know if UFOs cause the circles, Sugden said they are associated in some way.


On July 15, an unnamed man reported to the National UFO Reporting Centre that he saw a cigar-shaped UFO flying over Highway 4, north of Hensall on July 13.

The man wrote, "The object was white. It travelled from right to left across the highway approximately at the horizon, just above the tree-line."

The object was about 10 km down the road from the car, he wrote, adding, "It did not look like a plane, balloon or anything else I have ever seen in the sky. It had to be quite large."

"Someone else must have seen it," he said.

The date that the UFO was sighted intrigued Sugden. He explained that July 13, 1993 was the day that Northern Indiana had its largest UFO sighting, including reports of cigar-shaped objects. He added that there were too many witnesses to interview.

Exactly three years later, on July 13, 1996, Sugden said crop formations were found in the same field over which the UFOs were sighted.

Bank's lie detectors set to trap insurance fraudsters


Wed 13 Aug 2003

A sophisticated new system will randomly select callers to HBoS centres.


INSURANCE cheats will be subject to lie-detector tests in a pilot project being introduced by a Edinburgh bank.

City-based HBoS will launch a three-month scheme starting in September analysing phone calls to its insurance hotlines using the sophisticated technology.

And the insurance industry is sure to be watching with interest as it fights to reclaim the estimated ÂŁ1 billion which the Association of British Insurers says are made in fraudulent claims each year.

The new HBOS phone system will randomly test a selection of the calls it receives from its 1.5 million policyholders.

Using voice stress analysis techniques to detect changes in speech patterns caused by stress, the machines will be able to make an initial assessment as to whether the caller may be lying.

A special series of questions has also been devised to try and catch out fraudsters.

Mark Hemingway, spokesman for HBOS, said plans to use the voice stress system would begin on a "small-scale" trial basis on calls to its household insurance department.

He said honest policyholders had nothing to fear from the new system as it will not be used in "isolation", but only as a starting point for further investigations.

He added that it could also lead to lower premiums.

Mr Hemingway said: "The techniques of voice stress analysis have been used in the insurance trade for the last 18 months or so to combat fraud and have been shown to be successful.

"This will just be one of systems we use to help cut down on fraudulent insurance claims and it won’t be used in isolation and won’t include everyone.

"After the initial three-month trial period we’ll be able to judge whether it’s been a success or not."

Callers selected to be part of the trial will be read a short script outlining responsibilities under the Data Protection Act before they give details of their claim. And Mr Hemingway said there will be measures in place to make sure only fraudsters are trapped, rather than those who naturally find making such phone calls difficult.

He said: "The system will be used with a whole host of other ways such as the sharing of information which the insurance industry does as routine.

"Honest policyholders will have nothing to fear and combating fraud will make things better for them anyway by helping to keep premium costs down."

And, according to research carried out by Insurance Times magazine, the system, which takes about 15 minutes per claim, could be used to cut down dramatically the need for lengthy investigations into claims by insurance loss adjusters.

But rival insurers, who will be sure to watch whether the system is a success, have already cast doubts on whether the lie-detectors are reliable.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s biggest insurer, Norwich Union, said: "We have looked at voice stress systems and we don’t believe they are tested, or are effective enough."

And civil liberties groups have also expressed strong reservations about the use of the technology and are seeking assurances about how the data will be used.

Mark Littlewood, campaigns director for Liberty, said: "The first critical thing is that customers are made aware they are under this sort of surveillance. Covert surveillance is very worrying.

"I’m also not persuaded this works, and that it doesn’t discriminate against those who are just very distressed."

The new technology is just one of a series of developments which insurance companies have been looking at to try to cut down on the cost of fraud.

Last year, a computer software company announced it had developed an online lie-detector test which sifted through email and other text, looking at factors such as the tone of the messages, to try and find indications of senders telling lies.

This article:


Is Bush getting apocalyptic advice?


Aug. 13 — Is the Bush administration turning to a televangelist doomsayer for political predictions? Apocalyptic preacher Jack Van Impe is claiming that he was contacted by Condoleezza Rice's office and the White House Office of Public Liaison for an "outline" of his take on world events.

'[President Bush] will know exactly what is going to happen in the Middle East and what part he will have under the leading of the Holy Spirit of God.'

VAN IMPE is the author of such books as "Israel's Final Holocaust" and "The Great Escape: Preparing for the Rapture, the Next Event on God's Prophetic Clock."

He has predicted that the end of the world will strike somewhere between 2003 and 2012 and one reviewer has called his TV preaching show with wife Rexella "a fantastically loopy apocalyptic take on the week's news." The issue of the alleged involvement with the Bush administration came up on his Web site when someone asked Van Impe, "Do you think that President Bush, apparently a Christian man, believes and knows he is involved in prophetic events concerning the Middle East and final battle between good and evil?"

"I believe he is a wonderful man," Van Impe responded, and goes on to say, "I was contacted a few weeks ago by the Office of Public Liaison for the White House and by the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to make an outline. And I've spent hours preparing it. I will release this information to the public in September, but it's in his hands. He will know exactly what is going to happen in the Middle East and what part he will have under the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. So, it's a tremendous time to be alive."

"My investigation into it is that there's no truth to it," National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack told The Scoop, "but I'm continuing to look into it."

Letters to the editor, August 14


Times Record News

August 14, 2003

Just another theory

The article that appears in the Aug. 9 edition of the Times Record News, "Critics: Biology textbook changed," is just another attempt by atheists to control the minds of kids despite the need for intellectual honesty in their textbooks. The reason for such passion by the pro-creation side is simple: You cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian. To deny creation is to deny the very existence of God.

Evolution is just another theory, and a not very good one at that.

Not only has the intelligent design theory shot holes in evolution, the irreducibly complex theory of life has made Charles Darwin's theory of evolution intellectually untenable. The electron microscope proves there is no such thing as a simple life form. Even simple, one-celled amoebas are incredibly complex. DNA, nucleotides, genomes, ribosomes and other things that make life possible, were unknown to Darwin. Darwin's theory cannot explain how something so complexrandomly mutated into existence.

It's time for textbooks to move into the 21st century. Simply include the intelligent design theory and the irreducibly complex theory along with the theory of evolution.

We owe it to the kids.

Bruce Ferguson


Copyright 2003, Times Record News. All Rights Reserved.

Institute pushes conservative views


August 14, 2003


On July 30, you printed an opinion piece by Terry Maxwell, who discussed the Discovery Institute's attempt to force its views on creationism (disguised as ''intelligent design'') into Texas' high school biology textbooks.

John G. West, associate director of the Discovery Institute, responded Friday by saying Maxwell had misrepresented the institute by implying it was trying to get its religious views included in our biology classes. According to West, all the Discovery Institute wants is ''good'' science taught in our classrooms and in no way does it want religion inserted into science classes.

I attended the July State Board of Education hearings and I believe that Maxwell has accurately captured the essence of the debate. The Discovery Institute is an obvious front for a conservative religious view and, West's disclaimers notwithstanding, has no interest in ensuring that Texas high schoolers get a world class education.

Rather, from the testimony at the SBOE by the institute's representatives, it is quite clear that a conservative religious view was being pushed at the expense of good science. (If your readers really want to know what West's agenda is, all they need to do is look up his credentials posted on his very own Web site.)

What was sadder was the fact there was not one scientifically literate member on the SBOE and they paid blatant homage to the institute's spokespersons while, at the same time, ignoring the testimony of world class professors from various universities here in Texas who happened to support the teaching of evolution.

Oak H. DeBerg



John West complained about Terry Maxwell's discussion of the Texas textbook adoption controversy in Friday's Standard-Times.

He wrote, ''If the original peppered moth experiments had turned out to be valid, not even 'creationists' would object. The real issue is accurate science. The original peppered moth experiments have been discredited in the scientific community, and so they should not be presented uncritically as proof for Darwin's mechanism of natural selection.''

Yet scientists overwhelmingly concur that (1) colors of moths fluctuate with amounts of background pollution (dark moths are more common when high levels of pollution stains the surfaces on which they rest and light moths predominate when pollution levels are low); (2) the mechanism for this change is natural selection; and (3) the most probable cause is higher bird predation of moths contrasting against their backgrounds.

So what's going on here? Are scientists all blind to the ''original'' ''discredited'' studies? Well, not exactly.

First, note the repetition of ''original peppered moth experiments.'' West would like you to believe that all we have to go on are experiments done 50 years ago (which actually are not ''discredited'' as claimed). The conclusions listed above are based on repeated studies by scores of investigators on three continents that all point to the same conclusion: Moth color changes are an excellent, understandable example of natural selection. Textbooks present this information - and should.

Let's not get hung up on red herrings like ''original experiments'' as if that were the most important issue. The issue, to repeat, is accurate science, which the Discovery Institute is not famous for. Jonathan Wells' book ''Icons of Evolution,'' cited by West, is a particularly egregious example, as can be seen in scathing reviews it has received in Science and Nature, the world's most prestigious scientific journals, and also detailed at http://www.ncseweb.org/icons/.

Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.
Executive director
National Center for
Science Education Inc.
Oakland, Calif

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.shtml which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines - August 15, 2003

from Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A massive freshwater lake that covered much of southern Canada 8,200 years ago burst through its ice dam and flooded into the Atlantic, disrupting ocean currents and causing a climate change that chilled the Northern Hemisphere for 200 years, a study suggests.

The ancient body of water, called Lake Agassiz, was formed by ice dams that blocked drainage from the vast central plains of Canada during the fading centuries of the last ice age. The lake once was more than twice the size of the current Great Lakes and contained more than 39,000 cubic miles of water.

At its most expanded, Lake Agassiz stretched from western Manitoba, east to Quebec and south to North Dakota and Minnesota, some 135,000 square miles.

from Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Some may like it hot, but nothing likes it hotter than a weird microbe known as Strain 121. The one-celled organism, captured from a magma vent at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, can survive 266 degrees, a temperature no other known life form can tolerate.

The as-yet-unnamed microbe was able to reproduce and grow vigorously at about 250 degrees, the typical temperature used in autoclaves to sterilize medical instruments, said Derek R. Lovley, a University of Massachusetts microbiologist who was the senior author of a study appearing Friday in the journal Science.

"It has been the dogma in microbiology for 120 years that that temperature would kill any living organism," Lovley said.

But not Strain 121.

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Defiant chief justice vows to keep Ten Commandments monument

Deadline nears for federal order to remove statue

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (CNN) --The Alabama chief justice locked in a fierce battle with a federal court vowed Thursday that he would not remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state's judicial building's rotunda.

In a fiery speech given just six days before a federal deadline to remove the monument, Chief Justice Roy Moore said he would take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments, the moral foundation of our law," he said. "To do so would, in effect, be a disestablishment of the justice system of this state.

"The question is not whether I will remove the monument," Moore added. "It is not a question of whether I will disobey or obey a court order. The real question is whether or not I will deny the God that created us."

Earlier this month U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson set an August 20 deadline for the 5,300-pound monument's removal and suggested he would impose hefty daily fines against the state if Moore fails to comply with the order. Thompson said the monument's presence on public property violates the federal Constitution's ban on government promotion of religion.

Moore accused Thompson of "abuse of power," "callous disregard to the people of this state," and "threatening to drain huge amounts of public funds from the state of Alabama," because of the cost of the ongoing legal battle.

The controversy over the monument stems from a lawsuit filed in October 2001 by three organizations on behalf of three Alabama lawyers who often had business at the judicial building and said the monument offended them.

Moore had the monument moved into the building's rotunda on July 31, 2001, saying that the Ten Commandments represent the moral foundation of American law.

Last year Judge Thompson ruled in favor last year of the attorneys opposed to the monument's presence on public property.

Moore appealed the decision, but in July the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, ruled unanimously that Moore violated the constitutional separation of church and state by installing the monument.

The court's ruling compared Moore to segregationist Southern governors of the past who refused to integrate college campuses even after federal court orders to do so -- and predicted that if Moore appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court he would lose.

Moore said Thursday that he would turn to the nation's highest court. He said on Friday he will file with the U.S. Supreme Court a motion calling on Thompson to halt his "wrongful interference of state government."

Moore said he will file the motion "to preserve our rights as a state and nation to acknowledge God."

"Separation of church and state never was meant to separate God from our government. It was never meant to separate God from our law," he said.

The First Amendment's "very purpose is to allow us the freedom to worship Almighty God. That freedom is being taken from us by federal courts who misuse the First Amendment to take away our rights instead of as a shield to preserve them for us."

Moore said he will take on other state officials who stand by Thompson's decision. "Each of them has also taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States."

Moore has long been associated with the Ten Commandments. When he began his judicial career at a circuit court in Etowah County he hung a hand-carved, wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments behind the bench in his courtroom.

During his campaign for the chief justice position in November 2000, his campaign committee ran television and radio commercials and posted billboards calling him the "Ten Commandments Judge."

Find this article at:

Skeptics, believers flock to statues - gaze into Virgin Mary's Glowing eyes


Cleveland Plain Dealer | 08/14/03 | John Horton

Campbell, Ohio - The show starts at dusk, promised Tony Valvas, his eyes fixed on the Blessed Virgin Mary statue affixed to the bell tower at St. Joseph the Provider Catholic Church.

Stand at the corner of the neatly trimmed hedge next to the church's school, he instructed. Then gaze up into the statue's eyes.

Into its glowing eyes.

"There's something happening here," said Valvas, 37, who lives two blocks from the church. "I don't know what it is, and I can't explain it. But there's something happening."

Is it a miracle or a mirage?

Nobody knows for sure, but plenty of people are making a pilgrimage to the church at 633 Porter Ave. in Campbell in search of an answer.

Thousands have flocked to the town south of Youngstown since the statues on the bell tower - the Virgin Mary to the west, Jesus Christ to the east - seemingly flickered to life 10 days ago. The flow of faithful only increases as word spreads.

Small groups wander across the now-trampled grass outside the church during the day, when the glow is somewhat visible. The watchers shield their eyes from the sun as they look skyward, trying to catch a glimpse.

The throngs come at night, their parked cars clogging the streets. Many come from more than an hour away, and they stay until all hours of the night. Last night, about 1,000 crowded a courtyard outside the church, singing hymns and taking pictures of the mysterious illumination.

There's a spiritual energy present among the crowd, and many go inside the church to pray. Candles - many more than normal - provide a heavenly light inside the chapel.

"Sometimes, God uses ordinary things to speak to us," said the Rev. Mike Swierz, who oversees the 500-family church. "Maybe that's what this is all about."

Apparition reports of the Virgin Mary date to the third century, according to a Web site by the International Marion Research Institute at the University of Dayton.

Sightings have spiked in recent years, according to the institute.

In June, a report that the Virgin Mary's image graced a window at Milton Hospital south of Boston attracted more than 20,000 people on a single weekend.

"People are straining to find anything to give meaning to their lives," said the Rev. Thomas Thompson, director of the Marion Library at the University of Dayton. "That's why they reach out to these things. It's a tribute to their belief."

But few sightings qualify as miracles, and most can be explained, Thompson said. The image on the hospital window, for instance, is believed to be water marks caused by a broken window seal.

Skeptics outside St. Joseph say the glow there may be related to gold leaf put on statues in the 1970s. No investigation is planned, church officials said.

"Don't close your mind to the possibilities," Thompson said. "But don't be gullible and naive, either."

Naysayers and believers gathered at St. Joseph yesterday. Many toted binoculars to better view the glowing eyes and hearts on the statues. Others used videocameras to capture the image.

A group gasped as they watched a closeup of one tape that showed what appeared to be pupils in the eyes of both statues.

"Nobody paints eyeballs that way," said Leticia Gonzalez, 46.

Others noted what appeared to be stains underneath the statue of Jesus, speculating that it may be blood. Valvas, for one, said the stains appeared only recently.

Even a flock of birds circling overhead attracted interest as a possible secular sign.

George Mottle listened to it all shaking his head.

"If there was something here, the pope would be here right now. On his knees," said Mottle, 59, of Boardman.

"It's just the light, an illusion," echoed his father-in-law, Harry Dilisio, 82, who grew up in Campbell.

The woman next to them quickly chimed in.

"It's not an optical illusion," said Kathy Garchar, 46, of Struthers, who attends St. Joseph. "It's never done this before."

Garchar is convinced she's seeing a miracle, if only in the surge of people making the pilgrimage to her church to feed their faith.

Joanna Sims, for one, said she saw the light yesterday. The 50-year-old Youngstown woman said the piercing statue eyes touched her soul.

Sims then quickly excused herself and headed to her car. There was no time to talk, she said.

"I'm going home," Sims said. "I've got a Bible to read tonight."

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.shtml which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines – August 14, 2003

from The Washington Post

Scientists in China have, for the first time, used cloning techniques to create hybrid embryos that contain a mix of DNA from both humans and rabbits, according to a report in a scientific journal that has reignited the smoldering ethics debate over cloning research.

More than 100 of the hybrids, made by fusing human skin cells with rabbit eggs, were allowed to develop in laboratory dishes for several days before the scientists destroyed them to retrieve so-called embryonic stem cells from their interiors. Although scientists in Massachusetts had previously mixed human cells and cow eggs in a similar attempt to make hybrid embryos as a source of stem cells, those experiments were not successful.

Researchers said yesterday they were hopeful that the rabbit work would lead to a new and plentiful source of embryonic stem cells for research and, eventually, for medical use. But theologians and others decried the work as unethical.

from Newsday

BOMBAY, India -- U.S. and Indian scientists said Wednesday they have discovered a new carnivorous dinosaur species in India after finding bones in the western part of the country.

The new dinosaur species was named Rajasaurus narmadensis, or "Regal reptile from the Narmada," after the Narmada River region where the bones were found.

The dinosaurs were between 25-30 feet long, had a horn above their skulls, were relatively heavy and walked on two legs, scientists said. They preyed on long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs on the Indian subcontinent during the Cretaceous Period at the end of the dinosaur age, 65 million years ago.

from The Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Over the past half-century, an obscure Pentagon group, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been behind some of the world's most revolutionary inventions — the Internet, the global positioning system, stealth technology and the computer mouse, to name a few.

It's an impressive record of success offset only by the fact that DARPA has also come up with some of the most boneheaded ideas ever to spring from the government.

Over the years, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on a variety of projects, from telepathic spies and jungle-tromping robotic elephants to its most recent fiasco — FutureMAP, an online futures market designed to predict assassinations and bombings by encouraging investor speculation in such crimes.

from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 — Superconductors are usually thought of as materials that lose all electrical resistance when chilled to a low enough temperature. But a company in Latham, N.Y., intends to announce on Thursday plans to turn the concept on its head by using superconductors as valves on the electric-utility power grid, letting their temperature rise to choke off the flow of power.

Aided by money from the Energy Department, the company, Intermagnetics General, will build a prototype device meant to protect the power grid against energy surges. When a surge pushes the amount of current above a certain level, resistance in the superconducting material increases rapidly. As the electricity fights its way through, some energy turns into heat. That pushes the temperature above 77 Kelvin (about 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit), which also reduces the flow of power. In addition, the device would incorporate a mechanism that generates a magnetic field. Such fields destroy the superconducting nature of the materials.

The device, called a matrix fault current limiter, reacts in less than one electrical cycle on the alternating current system, meaning in less than a 60th of a second.

from The Christian Science Monitor

ARLINGTON, VA. – In the days when the Beach Boys ruled the radio and bikinis were the rave, beaches were populated by noses: big and slathered white with zinc oxide to avoid sunburn.

Today the big white noses are gone. Instead of relying on thick goo, many manufacturers now use titanium-dioxide particles so small the sunscreen looks invisible but still reflects away ultraviolet light. Chalk it up to an early use of nanotechnology, where "big" is defined as 1/1000th the width of a human hair and the possibilities look potentially limitless.

Yet even as nanotech goes commercial, environmental groups worry about its effect on health and safety. Long term, analysts say, society will have to confront a broad set of ethical and social issues as it deals with humanity's growing ability to manipulate atoms, molecules, and biology's genetic code. The real crunch may come if researchers manage to merge nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

The Great Northeast Blackout:


On November 9, 1965, the largest blackout in history occurred. The northeast power system broke up 4 seconds after the initial disturbance, and 30 million people were without electricity for as long as 13 hours. The cause of the event is obviously of some interest.


The Great Northeast Blackout of November 9, 1965 began at 5:16 p.m., near the end of an otherwise typical work day. The event started at the Ontario - New York border, near Niagara Falls. A single transmission line from the Niagara generating station tripped (opened). Within 2.5 seconds, five other transmission lines became overloaded and tripped, isolating 1,800 MW of generation at Niagara Station. After their isolation, the generators became unstable and tripped off-line. The northeast power system became unstable and separated into isolated power systems (islands) within 4 seconds. Outages and islanding occurred throughout New York, Ontario, most of New England, and parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Most islands went black within 5 minutes, due to imbalances between generation and load (generator overspeed/underspeed tripping). The massive blackout left 30 million people without electricity for as long as 13 hours.


Eight states - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont - lost power in this power failure. Although a faulty automatic relay device at a plant near Niagara Falls is blamed, there is evidence that UFOs can cause power failures in the national electricity grid systems, although this may only be a side effect rather than an intentional act. In December of the same year, the grid systems failed in New Mexico and Texas following UFO sightings in those areas.


As submitted to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics at July 29, 1968, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, Rayburn Bldg., Washington, D.C., by James E. McDonald.

"Then there are scattered instances in which substantial power distribution systems have failed at or very near the time of observation of aerial phenomena similar, broadly speaking, to one or another UFO phenomenon. I have personally checked on several such instances and am satisfied that the coincidence of UFO observation and power outage did at least occur. Whether there is a causal connection here, and in which direction it may run, remains quite uncertain. Even during the large Northeast blackout, November 9, 1965, there were many UFO observations, several of which I have personally checked. I have inquired at the Federal Power Commission to secure data that might illuminate the basic question of whether these are merely fortuitous, but the data available are inadequate to permit any definite conclusions. In other parts of the world, there have also been reports of system outages coincident with UFO sightings. Again, the evidence is quite unclear as to causal relations."

The largest wave of UFO sightings occurred in 1965. From coast to coast strange low flying objects were reported almost nightly by people of all ages and walks of life. These sketches compiled by a NICAP researcher represent a small sample of hundreds of investigated cases in which truly unknown objects were judged to have been involved. As the year progressed the number of reports rose dramatically. On the night of August 2 thousands of people in 4 midwestern states witnessed spectacular aerial displays by large formations of UFOs. That same night a multicolored disc was photographed in Tulsa Oklahoma while several persons watched it perform low altitude maneuvers. This picture was extensively analyzed, pronounced authentic, and later published by Life magazine and many newspapers.

But the year's most incredible development was yet to come. On the evening of November 9 hundreds of UFO sightings were reported throughout the northeast. In New York State luminous objects were seen hovering over 3 very significant locations.

A Niagara Falls power plant

A [Syracuse] relay station

and the heart of New York City

Within moments of the Syracuse sighting 9 northeastern states and parts of Canada experienced the largest power failure inhistory. Media accounts including those by NBC news, The Associated Press, and some local papers openly reported the UFO sightings and in a few cases suggested that they be investigated as a possible cause of the blackout. However, before this speculation could gain much momentum the Federal Power Commission announced that the problem had been caused by a broken relay in a Canadian power plant. This answer was accepted by the press and public and the UFO angle was quickly forgotten. But, the official explanation was untrue.

Major Keyhoe reports that a private investigation by the utilities industry later concluded that the relay had NOT broken, but had been tripped by a huge, unexplainable surge of power. The only major paper which attempted to follow up on a possible UFO connection with the outage was the Boston Record America. But the paper's editors told a NICAP investigator that shortly after publishing this account of the Niagara Falls sighting they had been called by an Air Force officer at the Pentagon and severely reprimanded for printing the story. In any event, the public at large remained unaware of the presence of UFOs during the great northeast blackout.


There is a high number of reliable witness reported ufos. Pilots did. Pictures were taken.

Was there any physical effect caused by a ufo? We have to conclude that to cut 30 million people off from electrical power over 8 states is a sufficient physical evidence.

Reporters, technicians, ufologists and scientists who investigated the black-out understood its true cause. But a massive concerted cover-up to discard the ufo as a cause of this physical evidence of the ufos.

Just what are the ghost planes of Chicago?

May 22

No one's quite sure, but they're spooking pilots and air traffic controllers alike. Images of airplanes that either do no exist or are very far away are popping up on radar that controls traffic at O'Hare International Airport, according to reports.

And on a few occasions, controllers at Terminal Radar Approach Control center in Elgin unnecessarily ordered pilots to make sudden, dangerous moves to avoid the false images.

"The ghosting is a complete terror for the air traffic controllers," Charles Bunting, president of the Elgin local of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Descend Immediately,"

The unnecessary orders issued suddenly by the controllers include: "immediate right turn," "immediate left turn," and "descend immediately," according to the newspaper. In addition to planes that aren't really there, controllers reported seeing airplanes from nearby airports appear much closer to O'Hare than they actually were.

Some blame dated equipment. The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into it, but they offer other possibilities. False radar images can appear when a crane or construction tower is put up, said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro.

"Over the past five weeks there have been 13 unsubstantiated reports, meaning we still need to look into them," Molinaro said.

The FAA normally would expect about eight or nine reports of ghost images during that time, he said.

Numbers Disputed

Mike Egan, vice president of the controllers union at Elgin, accused the FAA of downplaying a serious problem, calling their number "a bald-faced lie."

"Maybe 130, but not 13," Egan told the newspaper. "We had a couple of them today, as a matter of fact. They know there's a problem."

In one case, an airplane appeared on radar north of the airport at 4,000 feet. In fact, the plane was on final approach to Midway Airport, according to the newspaper. Authorities insist that passengers have not been at risk. They also say that no near collisions have occurred, according to the newspaper.

The Elgin control center handles air traffic within a 40-mile radius of O'Hare. Last year, the facility directed 1.36 million operations. Controllers in Aurora and at O'Hare also direct planes in the Chicago area.

Concerns Over FAA Plan

The radar complaints come as controllers raise concerns about the FAA's plans to speed air traffic at O'Hare using controversial spacing and landing procedures. Under the plans, the FAA could resume testing a procedure as early as next month that stacks arriving planes vertically around O'Hare's airspace. The planes would have to be at least 1,000 feet apart. Arrivals now are usually single-file.

Bunting said that while controllers support increasing the efficiency of flights in and out of O'Hare, the radar situation raises questions about the safety of the procedure. "We don't feel it's a viable time to conduct these tests when safety can be compromised because of it," he said.

Controllers also signed a letter to the FAA citing pilots' concerns about another procedure at O'Hare that allows faster takeoffs and landings on intersecting runways.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Dispensing advice on herbal aids



Clerks who sell supplements often recommend unproven treatments, research shows.

By Elena Conis
Times Staff Writer

August 11, 2003

People who sell herbs and other supplements may not be the best sources of health advice.

When asked which supplements they would recommend for a woman with breast cancer, health food store clerks in a recent study responded with a litany of supplement suggestions, most of which have not been proven effective against the disease.

Only a few warned of possible interactions with prescription drugs, and one store employee even suggested a woman stop her prescription regimen completely.

"Patients should be talking about their use of natural products with their physicians" and not relying solely on the advice they get in retail outlets, said study author Edward Mills, director of research at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

Researchers from the college visited 34 health food stores in an unnamed Canadian city, posing as customers shopping for a mother with breast cancer. Employees in 27 of the stores recommended an array of purportedly helpful products.

Employees in the other seven stores did not offer advice.

Mills said many of the recommended products were costly, and testing on them has not been conclusive. The most expensive product was a mushroom extract called MGN; at the suggested dose of 12 capsules a day, it would cost $430 a month in the United States.

Few employees warned customers about potential interactions between prescription drugs and herbal medications. More than two-thirds did not ask customers about their mothers' prescription drug use and just eight mentioned the possibility of a drug interaction.

Anything metabolized in the same part of the body as a cancer drug can affect that drug's effectiveness, said Mills. Most medications, including herbal ones, are processed by the liver, he said, so the potential for interaction is great.

An Oregon Health Sciences study published in the American Journal of Surgery in 2000 showed that 84% of breast cancer patients reported using an alternative therapy for their illness. The study also concluded that breast cancer patients were more likely than other cancer patients to turn to alternative treatments.

Products recommended by health food store employees in the current study included multivitamins and single-vitamin supplements, antioxidant formulas and mushroom extracts. The top two recommendations were herbal teas containing burdock root, slippery elm and Turkish rhubarb.

At some stores, employees gave customers accurate information or simply suggested they talk to their doctors, Mills said. But most worrisome, he noted, was one employee's advice to stop taking Tamoxifen — an anti-estrogen drug given to breast cancer patients — and the assertions by two others that the products they were selling could cure breast cancer. "None of these products have been shown to cure cancer in clinical trials," he said.

The study was published in the Aug. 6 issue of Breast Cancer Research.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. Click here for article licensing and reprint options

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times

Friday, August 15, 2003

Teaching creationism

Holland, August 1, 2003, 4:51 am


A state House bill would require that middle and high school students who study evolution also be taught creationism, the belief that God designed life on earth.

WOTV Newsroom Reporting

Heather Montei Online Editor

E-mail: newsrm41@wotv.com

Republican State Reps. Bill Van Regenmorter of Georgetown Township and Barb Vander Veen of Allendale are co-sponsors of the bill.

The legislation introduced this month says science teachers should tell their students that evolution and natural selection are "unproven theories."

Teachers would have to "explain the competing theories of evolution and natural selection based on random mutation and the theory that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator."

Van Regenmorter said that while he believes intelligent design to be fact, that is not why he is a co-sponsor on the bill.

"This provides balance. The way this bill is set up is if teachers are teaching evolution as a viable theory, than they also should teach intelligent design as a viable theory," the Ottawa County lawmaker told The Holland Sentinel for a story Thursday.

Kevin Padian, president of the National Center for Science Education and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said this type of legislation is religious in purpose and unsupported by science.

There is no established evidence for the intelligent design theory, and it should not be taught as science in schools, Padian said.

Intelligent design supporters "are trying to short circuit the process. They want to go straight to the schools," Padian said. "This is smoke and mirrors. They have the right ideals but the wrong process. Intelligent design is not a scientific concept."

The bill has been referred to the House Education Committee.

"There are scientific facts on both sides, and I think both sides need to be presented," Vander Veen said. "Our students are very intelligent, and they can make up their own minds."

The bill's co-sponsor said she does not back it out of a wish to promote a specific religion in schools.

"I have been accused of being a religious bigot, but I am not saying that we have to tell a child one way or another," she said. "What I am saying is that we have to teach both sides of the scientific facts, because if we don't, than it's censorship."

The state Board of Education in 1995 considered and then rejected a proposal to include the Bible's story of creation with discussions of evolution in Michigan science classes.

Wesclin committee will investigate teaching of 'intelligent design'


At the urging of parents Maggie Fox and Gary Trimble, Wesclin's school district will begin tomorrow (Thursday) an investigation of the efficacy of teaching to students the theory of "intelligent design."
"Intelligent design" promotes the notion that man was created by a divine being and that human characteristics were determined by his creator.
Ms. Fox first raised the question a couple of months ago, and was on the agenda again for the school board's Monday meeting, to ask how she could become involved in the discussion.
Wesclin high school principal Jay Goble said he has established a committee of teachers in relevant fields to investigate "intelligent design" and determine whether or not it ought to be part of the school's curriculum.
Committee members include Goble, high school science teachers Brian Arentsen and Steve Carter, eighth grade science teacher Gary Rieger, seventh grade science teacher Angie Woll, and junior high literature teacher Mike Dando, who also teaches mythology to students. The group's first meeting will be tomorrow (Thursday) starting at 3:15 p.m. at the high school.
Goble said he has gathered research information on "intelligent design" issues for the committee's consideration prior to the meeting from a wide range of forces representating different viewpoints on the issue.
Trimble, who is a teacher in the McLuer school district in St. Louis, offered his assistance in helping administrators and the committee in sorting through "intelligent design" issues. Trimble said he has taught "intelligent design" theory in several private religious schools. "It's a fascinating topic, and there's much information available, and I'd be happy to provide whatever input I can," said Trimble, who also noted that he is a graduate theology student.



Genesis Holds Truth
I was really troubled by your inability to state the facts fairly in your story ["Blinded by science ... fiction," Current, July 24-30]. I believe we should have creation and evolution taught in schools. Let the students reason what is right. Evolution has and will continue to have more weaknesses. Evolution is one of the biggest frauds of our time. If you are interested in the truth, look in Genesis.

Jeremy O'Rourke, Floresville


Closed Minds on State Board of Education?
Dear Chronicle:

I'm a Texas certified biology teacher, and I testified against the addition of intelligent design to Texas textbooks at the July 9 SBOE hearing. I'm shocked that board member Terri Leo, in her letter in your Aug. 1 edition, would accuse the 27 people who spoke against religion in science textbooks of "ranting." I can see no indication of the pro-evolution speakers "ranting" in the hearing transcript. Ms. Leo seems to think that adding religion-based theories to textbooks wasn't an issue at the hearing and that the 27 "ranting" evolutionists (many of whom teach at Texas schools) were delusional about the issues on July 9. But in response to the hearing, Holt-Rhinehart-Winston publishers have proposed a change in their biology textbook that would send students to resources on unscientific, religion-based theories. It seems we weren't delusional after all.

Ms. Leo shouldn't be accusing anyone of misquoting, when she misquoted David Hillis during the hearing, saying that he testified that the human genome project supports evolutionary theory. Although Dr. Hillis never mentioned the human genome project, Ms. Leo and Raymond Bohlin (an Intelligent Design advocate) discussed this at length. Probably this was not intentional misquoting on Ms. Leo's part, but rather an indication that she didn't listen to, or didn't understand, Dr. Hillis' testimony.

For a Texas SBOE member to speak so ill of the heartfelt testimony of Texas teachers, scientists, and concerned citizens, and to accuse others of misquoting without addressing her own errors, shakes my faith in our school board. I hope that in the future, Ms. Leo will listen more carefully, and will refrain from using such negative language against Texans who care about providing a strong science curriculum for our children, even if she doesn't agree with what they say.


Amanda Walker

Push for Intelligent Design From Christian Right
Dear editors:

Last week's letters by Erick Kittelson and Shawn Pendley ["Postmarks," Aug. 8] demonstrate how easily the lay public can be confused by the creation/evolution debate. Both men give reasonable-sounding objections, but both seem unclear how science works.

Evolution is only scientific "dogma" in the same way that geometry is mathematical "dogma." It works. It's the solution the best evidence supports. In science, there's nothing invalid about challenging the prevailing theory and presenting an alternative theory. However, your alternative theory, to be accepted, must do a better job of explaining the problem -- biodiversity, in this case -- than the current one. Simply pointing out shortcomings in the current theory isn't enough; yes, there'll be shortcomings, gaps in knowledge to be filled in. However, the mistake that creationists/I.D.-ers make is in thinking all they have to do is discredit evolution and, presto, their beliefs are proved by default. It isn't that easy. If evolution were overthrown tomorrow, they would still have to establish a testable theory of creation that successfully resists falsification. However, creationists prefer to discuss evolution's "scientific flaws" without presenting anything better. Behe, Wells, and Dembski have all been rebutted.

I find it arrogant and hypocritical of creationists to claim science practices "dogma" in the same way religion does, whenever prevailing theories contravene their beliefs. I've presented, for example, massive documentation supporting macroevolution (www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc) to creationists who state categorically there is none. Typically, they refuse to read it, stubbornly insisting all such evidence is a hoax and a lie. Who's being dogmatic?

It's also ironic Mr. Pendley accused science of "creatively exploiting linguistic ambiguities," then went on to dress creationism up in hifalutin terms like "process structuralism" and "design inference." A rose is a rose, sir.

Like it or not, the push for I.D. in school curricula is coming from the Christian Right, and it is part of a broader theocratic agenda. Visit www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html to read the "conspiracy" in their own words.


Martin Wagner

Blasphemous Cartoon?

How dare The Austin Chronicle publish that blasphemous cartoon by Doug Potter in the July 18 issue ["Ignorant Design at the SBOE," July 18] questioning the existence of an intelligent designer! Everyone knows that there is intelligent design. Why just look at the AIDS virus -- that was clearly intelligently designed. QED: AIDS shows that an intelligent designer exists. (Now whether or not he/she/it is benevolent is another question!)

Gary L. Bennett

Evolution issue burbles to new life in text debate


Is there a good reason to exclude creationist theory? In a word, yes.

August 14, 2003

From national to local levels, we are at one another's throats. The summer of love this ain't.

And now we learn of the resurfacing of the debate over how, and whether, science textbooks used by Texas schools should treat the theory of evolution.

The Republican-dominated Texas Board of Education has become the focal point of the long-running battle. It boils down to this: Should texts reflect what the scientific community regards as the most plausible explanation for our presence here, or should they include alternate explanations based on creationist theory?

Now before us is the decision of a publisher to submit changes to one of its biology textbooks. One change would be the inclusion of a passage recommending that students "study hypotheses for the origin of life that are alternatives" to conventional scientific explanations.

The creationist approach has a considerable following. Why not include it? Here's why: Particularly in the field of science, schools are charged with setting forth the most credible theories to account for all manner of phenomena, from quantum physics to origin of species.

Evolution remains the theory most widely accepted in the scientific community. Certainly all are entitled to believe it or reject it - but forcing teachers to preside over a kind of academic smorgasbord of theories would be bad science and worse education.

Copyright 2003, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved.



Textbook publisher Holt Rinehart & Winston is altering biology textbooks to meet the criteria of creationists who are attempting to weaken the study of evolution in high school biology classrooms.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency announced the changes proposed to textbook publishers in response to testimony offered in July at the State Board of Education hearing.

"One publisher has now bowed to the voice of a few religious extremists who would insist on teaching creationism in Biology classrooms," said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network. "Rather than stand up for keeping good science standards in textbooks, Holt Rinehart has compromised the education of Texas students."

As reported in the Current ["Blinded by science ... fiction," July 24-30], the Discovery Institute and other creationists are attempting to undermine evolutionary theory in Texas' public school textbooks. The Institute, based in Seattle, promotes the teaching of "intelligent design" - that the world could not have evolved without the guiding hand of a higher power, presumably the Judeo-Christian idea of God.

Before the first public hearing about textbooks on July 9, the Institute had submitted written comments to the State Board of Education grading the biology books. All but one received an F because the books did not address alleged "weaknesses" in evolutionary theory and offer other religious arguments for the origins of life.

However, only three proponents of creationism, including two Institute fellows, testified at the hearing, compared to the 30-plus who argued that religion and Intelligent Design should not be included in public school textbooks.

Rick Blake, a spokesman for Harcourt, which owns the Holt company, said the charges are "totally inaccurate," adding that students were to look for alternate scientific theories about evolution. "It's all scientific and not creationism. Nothing could have been further from the truth," he said.

The Discovery Institute complained that Holt's text didn't include sufficient information about a scientifically sanctioned experiment that simulated how life first formed in the earth's atmosphere. The original text asks students to describe chemical compounds used in the scientific experiment and how they related to the compounds formed on the earth millions of years ago. Students also are directed to "use the media or Internet resources to learn about the conditions on earth that scientists think existed before life formed."

The publisher changed the text to ask students to " study hypotheses for the origin of life that are alternatives" to evolution. Students are also directed to analyze evolution and an alternative hypothesis, which could include everything from Biblical versions to the Raelian belief that humans are descended from aliens.

The second public hearing on textbooks is September 10 at the State Board of Education in Austin.

Creationism in Texas schools

On September 10 there will be a hearing before the Texas Board of Education in Austin about evolution in textbooks. Apparently Dembski, Wells & Behe will "testify" about "intelligent" "?" design.

To testify contact Larry Thomas at 512-463-1594, or email him at lthomas@tea.state.tx.us by August 21 to address the board.

Contacting the North Texas Skeptics
The North Texas Skeptics
P. O. Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
214-335-9248 Skeptics Hotline (current information)

Current News  News Back Issues

What's New | Search | Newsletter | Fact Sheets
NTS Home Page
Copyright (C) 1987 - 2008 by the North Texas Skeptics.