NTS LogoSkeptical News for 6 February 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Friday, February 06, 2004

Researching Alternative Medicines


POSTED: 11:35 AM EST February 5, 2004
UPDATED: 11:47 AM EST February 5, 2004

Millions of people are spending billions of dollars every year on complementary and alternative medicine.

Massage therapy, acupuncture and herbal supplements are some of popular forms of complementary and alternative treatments and the 100 million Americans who are turning to these treatments are spending nearly $30 billion to do so.

But right now, many alternative therapies that claim to work have never been tested or proved. Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, wants to put these practices through the best testing available so the public can then reap the benefits of those products and procedures that pass the tests.

Complementary and alternative medicine has a lot of controversy surrounding it that includes whether it should be studied at all and how it should be studied. In the context of thinking about how to do research, the question is, 'what constitutes ethical research in complementary medicine?'"

Congress has appropriated $117 million toward alternative medicine research this year. A special report written by Straus was recently published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association." The report addresses the importance of studying complementary and alternative treatments and how to make sure that the research is ethical.

"It's our responsibility to be creative as we are in conventional medicine and to constantly use the very most stringent scientific tools that can be brought to bear on any single question," Straus said. "If we ignore the complementary and alternative practices, we do so at the risk of denying ourselves good therapies and even better therapies in the future."

Copyright 2004 by WSOCTV.com. All rights reserved.

Ancient practice of dowsing still attracts true believers


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

By Rebekah Scott, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bill Martin doesn't look like your typical witch.

He's a fourth-generation well digger, a ball cap-wearing, churchgoing 72-year-old who's still active in the family firm.

But he's a practical man, and he uses all the tools available to him -- including one natural and ancient water-finding method some say reaches back to Moses.

Martin is, depending on where you were raised, a "water witch," a "peacher," a "dowser" or a "diviner." Using only a forked tree twig or a couple of metal rods grasped in his callused hands, the Penn Township, Westmoreland County, man detects water flowing deep underground. For 40 years, he's found unmarked graves, unmapped gas and power lines, and forgotten mines this way.

He fails sometimes, he admits -- but not often enough to quit. And his tools cost him nothing. "The Lord provides," he says. "I'll use a stick for a while, and when it dries out, I'll throw it away and cut me another one."

Municipal water systems are displacing well diggers, and competition is keen among those who remain. Few dowsers or drillers will discuss just how many wells they do in a year.

And there are plenty of nonbelievers -- scientists and skeptics who say dowsing is self-deceptive bunkum. James "The Amazing" Randi, a Florida magician who made his fortune exposing mystical frauds, says, "The bottom line is that [dowsers] all fail when properly and fairly tested. There are no exceptions. Even after they have clearly and definitely failed, they always continue to believe in their powers."

Ray Nock, a driller whose family's been digging wells in Ross and throughout the North Hills area since 1900, disagrees.

"You mention this to a geologist, and he'll turn up his nose at you," Nock says. "But I use it plenty -- almost every time -- and come up smelling like a rose."

Even Martin, though, says the stories can be a bit extreme.

"There's plenty of people can witch wells. Some of them make all kinds of claims, like they can tell how deep it is, whether it's good to drink or not, how many gallons of flow there is. I just use it to locate streams and pipes. Even then, I can't be sure."

Dowsing came to this country with the earliest settlers and was carried over prairies to the dry places of the far west. Water witches still do their thing in India, England, Japan, Germany and South America.

Here in the United States, gas line crews, surveyors, grave diggers, and even military engineers still often "turn to the twigs" first to locate all kinds of buried utility lines, streams, tanks, or excavations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hired dowsers, and the Corps' chief has said he would hire a dowser under some circumstances. In 1967, the 1st and 3rd U.S. Marine Divisions in Vietnam used divining rods to locate hidden Viet Cong tunnels.

Many utility service trucks keep a pair of L-shaped rods or a forked stick stowed in the back. In England, a set of rods comes standard in every Water Board -- British for water department -- truck.

Dowsing studies done mostly in Germany and Sweden in the past 30 years credit arcane forces that often involve complicated interactions among the mind, body and nature. These phenomena have names like "neutron radiation," "biogravitation," "ley lines," "earth rays," or "the ideomotor effect."

Some Christian sects forbid dowsing because they assume the power simply comes from dark forces.

Nock believes in something much simpler and more familiar. "I think it works on static electricity," he said. "You're a charge, the water's a charge, and the cherry sapling completes the circuit."

Martin says he doesn't know why it works. To him, the proof is "in the doing of it."

"It looks real simple, and it is," said Martin, grasping the arms of a Y-shaped wild cherry twig in his hands, the single stem pointing skyward.

"Just get your thumbs out, stick out your arms out in front of you, and start walking."

He moves fast across the yard through the wintry gray sleet.

"I don't get sensations. I can just talk to you, or think about anything at all. Nothing mystical about it," he says, heading toward a tall tree, a drainage ditch, a storage shed. Halfway down the yard, the little twig twitches and turns, pointing to his chest. He slows his steps. The twig turns and points straight down.

"Water," he says. "We got three good streams running beneath us through the property, and where they join, that's where I dug my own well. But this isn't fair. I know this yard. You do it."

And so tries a visitor, who within seven strides feels the twig tug ground-ward. She feels around in the snow with her boot-toes. It's a capped-off well head.

She can't know it's down there. There's no sign of excavation, no discolored grass, no way to tell.

Martin just grins.

"You can either do it, or you can't. Don't know why," he says.

Lots of people can feel the twig or rods move in their hands, but that doesn't always mean water, says John Petrisek, proprietor of Rural Water Systems, a well-digging concern in Bentleyville, Washington County.

"I've seen it done, and I've known how for 35 years, and I don't use it. I've seen too many dry holes drilled using that method," he says. "Customers like to see it done, but I'm not a firm believer. It's fading away, as the old-timers die off. It's dying off. There are better, more scientific ways to find a good place to drill."

Martin, however, stands by his way and his record.

"I've witched and drilled wells in seven states and two countries," he says. "They have water. That's my proof."

(Rebekah Scott can be reached at rscott@post-gazette.com or 724-836-2655)

Copyright ©1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc.

The scientific method


'It's hard to imagine how thoughts could be transferred from one person to another. That doesn't mean that it cannot occur'

By Lewis Wolpert

04 February 2004

Many people have coincidences that they interpret as telepathy, such as knowing which friend is on the phone. Belief in such paranormal phenomena is very widely held. At a recent debate I had with the biologist Rupert Sheldrake, he presented many studies which claimed to support telepathy.

Some of these were based on subjects choosing the colour of a card held up by someone in another room, or knowing which of four friends were telephoning them. I know virtually nothing about telepathy, so what was my opposition based upon?

Foremost is the absence of reliable evidence on telepathy published in any of the conventional scientific journals. This, is of course, blamed on the supposed hostility of the scientific community to telepathy. But quite to the contrary, scientists would be wildly excited to investigate such a fascinating and surprising phenomenon if it existed. The real problem is that it fits all too well with what is known as pathological science.

It was a distinguished chemist, Irving Langmuir, who some 50 years ago coined the term. He was focusing on a number of phenomena, such as telepathy, which had startled the world of science during his career, but which had subsequently faded from view. Pathological science is characterised by having very small effects near the limits of detectability; the magnitude of the effect seems independent of the cause; there is usually a fantastic theory; and criticisms are met with ad hoc excuses. Telepathy fits some of these criteria. For example, attempts to reproduce the card-reading test failed. In addition it is hard to imagine how thoughts could be transferred from one person to another, for no known mechanism can at present be imagined. But that does not mean it cannot occur, as the history of science shows.

Consider Alfred Wegener in the Twenties, who put forward the idea that the continents of Africa and South America had once been joined together, but over millions of years had drifted apart. There was tremendous hostility to these ideas and it was only in the Sixties that new evidence, based on measurements on the earth's magnetic field, gave his ideas strong support.

Rather different is the case of the great physicist Lord Kelvin at the end of the 19th century. He would not accept the suggestion that the age of the earth could be of the order of millions of years. His opposition was based on the data relating to the cooling of the earth, but it was only later that it became clear that radioactivity heated the earth, and so made his calculations wrong.

Isaac Newton was also faced with criticism similar to that currently made about the paranormal. When he put forward his theory of gravity, that all bodies attracted each other with a force proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the distance between them, it was, according to the great Leibniz, a return to occult qualities. Others said it was inexplicable by the current knowledge of mechanics.

To this Newton replied that, yes, it seemed to him a great absurdity that one body could act on another at a distance through a vacuum without the mediation of something else. But, and this is crucial, the evidence was overwhelming and he admitted that he had been unable to deduce the reason for these properties and said, "I do not feign hypotheses." Evidence is all.

One of the problems with telepathy is that it is hard to see what there is to investigate. The phenomena are so trivial. Is it really surprising that one sometimes knows who is on the phone? What would be impressive is the transfer of a telephone number by telepathy. If telepathy existed, the effects could be dramatic; just consider the benefits to bridge partners or friends in an exam. At present there is nothing for scientists to investigate other than why people have such beliefs.

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine at University College, London.

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Schools Chief's Viewpoint Evolves


By Ellen Barry, Times Staff Writer

ATLANTA — Georgia's superintendent of schools said Thursday that she would restore the word "evolution" to the public schools' proposed science curriculum.

Kathy Cox said she originally believed that including the word in the new teaching plan would be more controversial than eliminating it. But "I am here to tell you," she said in a statement, "that I misjudged the situation, and I want to apologize for that.

"I want you to know today that I will recommend … that the word 'evolution' be put back in the curriculum."

When Cox announced the teaching plan in mid-January, it included most of the subject matter recommended by a respected national science organization — but panels of educators had edited out the word "evolution," along with the majority of the related subject matter. The superintendent's proposal would not have prevented the teaching of the theory; it would have just required much less of it. It also would not have prevented teachers from using the word "evolution" if they chose to.

Still, the proposal, first publicized last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, caused an uproar among parents, educators and scientists in Georgia.

On the day the article appeared, Cox held a news conference defending the decision — in which she called evolution "a buzzword" that could cause Georgians to reject the entire curriculum plan. She said students should be introduced to alternative theories, such as "intelligent design," which holds that the development of Earth's species could not have been random.

Former President Carter then released a statement saying he was embarrassed by the attempt to "censor and distort the education of Georgia's students" and warning that Cox was making Georgia the butt of "nationwide ridicule."

Eleven thousand people signed an online petition protesting the change; some said they would leave the state or remove their children from public schools.

Opponents of teaching evolution in public schools had their own complaints, saying the word change didn't alter the material being taught, only masked it.

Gov. Sonny Perdue also questioned the curriculum proposal, telling the Journal-Constitution, "If you're going to teach evolution, you've got to call it evolution." He also called for a "balance" between evolution and other theories about the origins of life.

David Bechler, chairman of the biology department at Valdosta State University, said Thursday that the decision to keep the word pleased him but that the state still needed to restore the passages on evolution to the curriculum.

He said he doubted the controversy would hurt Georgia's ability to attract scientists and highly educated workers.

"I would assume that most people don't find Georgia to be some backwater," he said. "But they're probably very intrigued with the politics that have taken place in this state."

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Interview: Galileo and the keys to truth


By David F. Dawes

THE PLIGHT of 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei has long fascinated Owen Gingerich. Senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Gingerich is a leading authority on 16th-century cosmologist Nicholas Copernicus, who first proposed the theory that the solar system is heliocentric -- i.e. that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. The fact that Galileo came into conflict with Roman Catholic authorities for advocating Copernicus' theory has frequently been cited by critics as proof that religion and science are incompatible.

Gingerich will present two related lectures in British Columbia next week: 'Dare a Scientist Believe in Design?' February 11 at the University of BC in Vancouver; and 'Galileo: Hero or Heretic,' February 12 at Trinity Western University in Langley (Contact: www.csca.ca).

CC.com asked Gingerich to outline some key aspects of Galileo's life, and to expound upon related scientific matters. CanadianChristianity.com: What were Galileo's chief accomplishments ?

Owen Gingerich: Galileo used the newly invented telescope to make a series of key astronomical discoveries: the craters on the moon, the satellites of Jupiter, and sunspots. He also formulated some of the basic rules of motion, for example, the way a projectile travels in a parabolic path, also the fact that heavy bodies fall at the same speed as lighter ones, and he demonstrated that period of a pendulum depends only on its length. His Dialogue of the Two Chief World Systems did not include much new science, but it made it intellectually respectable to believe in a sun-centered cosmology.

CC.com: Was Galileo a devout Christian ?

OG: Very much so, and it was his strategy to persuade the Catholic hierarchy to leave open the option of a heliocentric system lest they end up betting on a losing horse, so to say.

CC.com: What were the key reasons why Galileo came into conflict with the religious establishment?

OG: To defend a system in which the earth is moving and the sun at rest Galileo had to come to terms with certain scriptural passages, such as Psalm 104, which said that God had laid the foundations of the earth that they not be moved forever. Galileo said that the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go, and that people should not expect the scriptures to be used as a scientific textbook. Because the Catholic theologians in Rome were fighting what they called the Protestant heresy, they wanted to keep a unified front and did not want an amateur theologican telling them how to interpret scripture. Galileo got in trouble not so much for his Copernican beliefs as for a turf battle about who had the keys to truth.

CC.com: What were the specific charges leveled at Galileo by the Roman Catholic church, and how was he punished?

OG: Galileo had been ordered not to hold or teach the Copernican system. He thought that nevertheless he had permission from Pope Urban VIII to write about the heliocentric astronomy, but the Pope felt betrayed when Galileo wrote a popular book in the common language -- Italian rather than Latin -- and Galileo was placed under house arrest for disobeying orders.

CC.com: Do you think the church of Galileo's time had any real appreciation of science?

OG: While there were a number of Jesuits who were very competent astronomers, in general the churchmen had little appreciation of the way science was moving.

CC.com: Some have speculated that the church's treatment of Galileo was not as severe as had been supposed. What is your view of this claim?

OG: By the standards of the day Galileo was treated with kid gloves; but from our modern vantage point, the punishment seems very harsh.

CC.com: What should Galileo's story tell us about science and faith?

OG: The idea that the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go, is something very much worth while keeping in mind today.

CC.com: As you know, there are several different views of evolutionary theory among Christians. What is your view?

OG: I am sometimes given a book entitled Life: How Did it Get Here -- by Creation or by Evolution? I always tell the donor that I think the choice is wrong. The choice should be 'By Intention or by Accident'? I would say that purposeful creation could be accomplished by the method of evolution.

CC.com: What is your view of the Intelligent Design movement?

OG: You might ask, "Why is the teakettle boiling?" -- and one answer might involve the heat going in, the increasing speed of the water molecules, and the fact that some [molecules] will leave from the surface of the liquid. Another answer might be: "Because I want a cup of tea." The intelligent design people are, in effect, giving the second kind of answer -- whereas evolution gives the first kind of answer. The intelligent design answers don't address the mechanisms, and don't give answers to the many subsidiary questions that evolutionary theory clarifies.

CC.com: How does your own faith affect your view of science?

OG: My faith reminds me that science is a powerful way to explore God's creation -- but that science does not give us the whole picture of reality.

Darby school policy triggers candidate debate


Associated Press

HELENA - A dispute over whether a new school policy in Darby promotes the teaching of creationism in the classroom spilled over into the political arena Thursday.

John Fuller, a Kalispell teacher and Republican candidate for state superintendent of public instruction, said Democratic incumbent Linda McCulloch went too far in threatening Darby with loss of state accreditation for adopting the policy Monday night.

He also attacked McCulloch for asserting the "objective origins" policy for the school district's science classes is a directive for religious teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution.

"Given the reverence of local control of schools in Montana, if Darby wishes to investigate such a curriculum, shouldn't they be permitted to do so without the self-righteous threats of the superintendent?" Fuller said in written statement. McCulloch fired back, saying she never threatened anyone with loss of accreditation. "That's just something in Mr. Fuller's head," she said.

"Montanans expect their superintendent to speak out on education issues."

Earlier this week, McCulloch said the policy adopted by a divided Darby School Board embraces concepts that are thinly veiled efforts to promote the teaching of creationism in public school classrooms. Similar efforts have occurred in other states and are familiar to education officials across the country, she said. "Mr. Fuller is fooling himself if he thinks 'objective origins' and 'intelligent design,' or whatever you want to call them, is anything more than an attempt to put religion in our classrooms," she said Thursday.

Critics have said the Darby policy is based on the theory that natural evolution cannot explain the diverse life on Earth, so it must be the product of some "intelligent designer."

A leading advocate of the Darby policy has denied it is meant to bring creationism to the classroom, but rather is intended merely to encourage students to question science with science.

Fuller said that McCulloch has wrongly presumed to know the motives of those behind the new policy and that she is "more concerned about erecting a wall around secularism than encouraging students to explore, wonder, analyze and speculate."

McCulloch said Fuller apparently doesn't understand that, as state superintendent, she must uphold the Montana Constitution that demands religion be kept out of the classrooms.

The Darby policy threatens to violate that mandate and to affect the quality of education students receive, she said. "This action in Darby does nothing to further a quality education in Darby."

In response to Fuller questioning whether McCulloch's disdain for religion in public school means she believes the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, McCulloch replied, "That's just silly."

"I have no intention of doing anything like that," she said. "When candidates make statements like this, it's politics at its very, very worst."

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press

Copyright © The Billings Gazette

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Intelligent design bill in House


Two Northlanders co-sponsor legislation reminiscent of the Kansas creation science debate.

Reps. Annie Reinhart, R-Liberty, and Susan Phillips, R-Kansas City-North, signed on to House bill 911. The bill requires teaching "biological intelligent design" in science classes.

"The origin of life on earth is inferred to be the result of intelligence-directed design and construction," according to the theory advanced in the bill. "There are no plausible mechanisms or present-day experiments to prove the naturalistic origin of the first independent living organisms."

Phillips said the evolution theory is just that, a theory, and intelligent design deserves equal time in classrooms.

"More scientists are saying that they cannot prove the theory of evolution and that there must be an origin. They're saying that the evidence points to some kind of intelligent design," Phillips said on Friday. "It really doesn't have to be a religious view. It just means we cannot determine where the first DNA in a cell came from. If you threw Scrabble cubes in the air, the chances of them forming a word would be pretty unlikely when they fell, and the chances of those words forming a sequence into a sentence would be even more unlikely, but that's what we're really asking people to believe."

Intelligent design does not state God, per se, created the universe, only that some form of intelligence may have done so - such as an alien life form. "Do they have scientific evidence for that?" she asked.

Two Northland Democrats, Phil Willoughby and Dan Bishop, disagreed with the need for the measure while attending the Broomfield for Congress kick-off party Jan. 29.

Bishop said constituents have e-mailed him in opposition to the bill. "I'm inclined to oppose it," Bishop said. "I want to keep an open mind, but I have a sense that it is a lot like the debate they had over in Kansas about creationism," he said.

Phillips said she is not familiar with the details of the Kansas debate, but that she thought the argument there focused on "creationism" by God as opposed to intelligent design by an unnamed creative power.

Various religious groups support teaching "intelligent design," including Mark Hartwig, whose articles appear on the Focus on the Family Web site that operates under the direction of the Rev. James Dobson. Hartwig writes that Christians in recent years have been treated as weak-minded for not embracing certain scientific theories, then quotes a Baptist university professor as saying, '"I see a lot of promising signs that the intellectual vitality is shifting back to the Christians.' ...

"One area where the signs seem particularly promising is the controversial area of biological origins. For decades, Darwin's theory of evolution has reigned supreme. But that reign is being threatened by a growing band of scientists and other scholars who are promoting a view called 'intelligent design.' Although this view has met with vigorous opposition, it is gaining significant ground - and attracting the respectful attention of some of the world's finest thinkers." Phillips said children should be allowed to debate intelligent design alongside evolution.

"Why not give them other possibilities and let them form their own opinions?" she asked.

Willoughby, who is also a minister and an attorney, has been a leader in the House in the area of developing legislation that respects the rights of the church and of individual beliefs. One such measure, now law, requires church leaders to file police reports when child abuse is suspected. Another Willoughby bill, which received tacit approval from the ACLU, would have provided a minute of silence each day at school, but conservative Christian lobbyists killed the bill for not specifically requiring that the minute be used for prayer. Willoughby said he could not support the intelligent design bill.

"I see it as nothing more than a backdoor attempt to teach right-wing theology to our school children rather than science," he said.

Bishop said he would be surprised if the bill received a full debate on the House floor. He said Republicans running for statewide office might be uncomfortable having to answer questions about the bill.

"I would think if it came through (the House) it would be in one of our omnibus education bills. But I don't know anything about the leadership or embarrassment," Phillips said.

The bill has not been set for a hearing.

©Sun-News of the Northland 2004

Dr. Weil's University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine Hosts Nutrition, Health Conference March 11-13


Thu Feb 5 12:21:40 2004 Pacific Time

TUCSON, Ariz., Feb. 5 (AScribe Newswire) -- The Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona today released the following advisory.



PLACE: Hilton El Conquistador, 10000 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, Ariz.

REGISTRATION: Arizona Health Sciences Center Office of Continuing Medical Education, 520-626-7832 or 800-777-7552 (ask for CME Office)

COURSE DIRECTORS: Andrew Weil, MD, University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine; Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Rosenthal Center.

PUBLIC FORUM: Nutrition and Health: Food, Politics and Society, Andrew Weil, MD, UA Program in Integrative Medicine, and Eric Schlosser, author, Fast Food Nation, Saturday, March 13, 2-5:30 p.m. More information will be provided as event nears.

NOTE: For a detailed schedule of speakers and events, please see: http://www.integrativemedicine.arizona.edu


Nutrition and Health: Food, Politics and Society will bring together leaders in scientific research in nutrition and health, clinicians skilled in nutritional medicine, experts on food production and distribution, renowned nutrition-minded chefs and well-known authors who have written about the social and political aspects of diet and health.

Physicians and other health professionals often find they lack sufficient training in nutrition and need to learn the latest scientific findings on diet and health. Specifically, they are interested in how specific foods and patterns of eating increase or decrease risks of specific diseases. In response, the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine and Columbia University will co-host this three-day course, which will provide an overview and practical summary of the latest information on nutrition and health. The UA Program in Integrative Medicine is directed by integrative medicine pioneer Andrew Weil, MD, who also is one of the course directors.

The course will provide critical information for health care professionals, who are faced with questions about food and nutrition in their clinical practices.

Sessions will include state-of-the-science discussions, cooking demonstrations, dialogue about food and society and practical recommendations for clinical care.

The conference is designed for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, registered dietitians, certified clinical nutritionists, naturopaths, chiropractors and other professionals who make nutritional recommendations as part of their clinical practice.

The course is sponsored by the UA College of Medicine, Program in Integrative Medicine, and The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in conjunction with the UA College of Nursing and the UA College of Pharmacy. The conference is supported by generous donations from Spectrum Organics, Douglas Laboratories, Earthbound Farms, Nordic Naturals, and Whole Foods Market.

AScribe Newswire distributes news from nonprofit and public sector organizations. We provide direct, immediate access to mainstream national media for 600 colleges, universities, medical centers, public-policy groups and other leading nonprofit organizations.

AScribe transmits news releases directly to newsroom computer systems and desktops of major media organizations via a supremely trusted channel - The Associated Press. We also feed news to major news retrieval database services, online publications and to developers of web sites and Intranets.

And AScribe does it at a cost all organizations, large and small, can afford, a fraction of what corporate newswires charge. Click here to see how we do it

AScribe Newswire / www.ascribe.org / 510-653-9400

Healthcast: Alternative Medicine



POSTED: 4:43 PM EST February 5, 2004

The following Healthcast report by Channel 4 Action News medical editor Marilyn Brooks first aired Feb. 5, 2004, on Action News at 5 p.m.

Millions of people are spending billions of dollars a year on alternative medicines, many of which have never been tested or proven to work.

Dr. Stephen Straus, director, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health: "Should it be studied at all, and how it should be studied? In the context of thinking about how to do research, the question is, 'What constitutes ethical research in complementary medicine?'"

Straus and his colleagues have just written a special report addressing those very questions.

Straus: "It's our responsibility to be creative as we are in conventional medicine to constantly use the very most stringent scientific tools that can be brought to bear on any single question."

The money is there. Congress appropriated $117 million for alternative medicine research this year.

The question is how to put unconventional procedures through conventional testing.

Straus: "I would doubt that two chiropractors do their spinal manipulation exactly the same. Of course, that is true in psychotherapy and surgical techniques."

Finding study volunteers may also be an issue.

Straus: "There are invidividuals who will not want to participate in a study with herbal medicine. They will want to get cancer chemotherapy."

Many alternative therapies claim to work, but there is no proof. Straus wants to put these practices through the best testing available, so the public can reap the benefits of those that pass.

Straus says that if clinical medicine ignores complementary and alternative practices, they risk denying patients potentially good therapies in the future.

Copyright 2004 by ThePittsburghChannel.

Georgia school chief drops 'evolution' proposal


Thursday, February 5, 2004 Posted: 1:19 PM EST (1819 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia's school superintendent Thursday dropped plans to remove the word "evolution" from the state's high school science curriculum.

"I will recommend to the teacher teams that the word 'evolution' be put back in the curriculum," Kathy Cox said in a statement.

Cox said she originally wanted to replace "evolution" with the phrase "biological changes over time" to avoid controversy.

"Instead, a greater controversy ensued," she said.

The proposal drew widespread criticism. Former President Carter said it exposed the state to nationwide ridicule.

The proposed change was included in more than 800 pages of draft revisions to the curriculum posted last month on the Department of Education's Web site. The changes are scheduled to go before the state Board of Education for a vote in May.

"It was the right thing to do," said Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, who had said he thought Cox should drop the proposed change. "As public officials, we don't have the luxury of thinking out loud; I believe that's what she was doing."

House Education Committee Chairman Bob Holmes, a Democrat from Atlanta, said Cox had little choice considering the widespread criticism the plan received.

"I'm glad she was responsive to the outcry, both by scientists and other political leaders who felt this was something completely unneccessary," Holmes said.

Some religious conservatives applauded Cox's proposal as a step toward teaching creationism in schools, while others said it changed little, since the concept of evolution would still be taught.

Cox, a Republican elected in 2002, repeatedly referred to evolution as a negative buzzword and said the ban was proposed, in part, to alleviate pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas where parents object to its teaching.

Under her proposal, the concept of evolution would have still been taught, but the word would not be used in the classroom. The proposal would not have required schools to buy new textbooks omitting the word evolution and would not have prevented teachers from using the word in class.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Teach, but don't speak


A Times Editorial
Published February 4, 2004

In 1925 teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating a Tennessee state law banning the teaching of evolution. Now, 75 years after what became known as "The Monkey Trial," Georgia's top education official wants to remove the word evolution from its statewide biology curriculum.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said schools won't be barred from teaching evolution. They just can't use the word evolution, which she called "a buzzword that causes a lot of negative reaction."

Cox apparently believes the sensitivities of religious fundamentalists should come ahead of educating students. A biology curriculum that banishes the E-word, or tries to discredit the theory of evolution, fails to provide the overarching theory of how life began, a thorough understanding of adaptation, natural selection, and genetics, and how the diversity of life on the planet came to be. It would be like trying to teach physics by steering clear of gravity.

The state copied much of its proposed biology curriculum from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an excellent source of such material. But wherever the standards discussed the origin of living things, the state deleted much of it. Cox told reporters that the reason was not so much "religion vs. science," but "how do we ensure that our kids are getting a quality science education." Cox said because science is changeable, all legitimate theories should be explored, including possibly "intelligent design" - the newest twist on creationism that says the universe and life were designed with the hand of a higher power.

Fundamentalists have tried all sorts of formulations of creationism to sidle past church-state strictures, so far unsuccessfully. In 1982, the state of Louisiana passed a law requiring schools to teach "creation science" alongside evolution. The law was later set aside by the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of Georgia's most famous native sons, former President Jimmy Carter, is among those who have spoken out against Cox's proposal. "There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology and astronomy," Carter told the Associated Press. "There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat earth in order to defend our religious faith."

The State Board of Education has until May to reconsider.

[Last modified February 4, 2004, 01:31:46]

© Copyright 2002-2004 St. Petersburg Times

Darby schools OK 'objective origins' policy


By MICHAEL MOORE, The Missoulian
And JENNY JOHNSON, Ravalli Republic

DARBY – Against the advice of the principals and teachers it employs and the attorney who represents it, the school board here voted 3-2 Monday night to approve an "objective origins" policy that will change the way science is taught. The policy, proposed by a Darby minister whose children do not yet attend the schools, "encourages" Darby science teachers to teach criticisms of prevailing scientific theory, but the only theory identified by the policy is evolutionary theory.

Split vote

Voting for the policy were board members Doug Banks, Elisabeth Bender and board chairwoman Gina Schallenberger. Voting against were Mary Lovejoy and Bob Wetzsteon.

"This is not a good policy to adopt," Lovejoy said. "We need to go to the state before we consider this."

Wetzsteon, the other nay vote, said he didn't understand how the board can go against the recommendation of the school board's attorney. Banks said "objective origins" is just a way to teach both sides of the evolution "debate." "To consider that a theory can't be challenged is bad science, he said. I think that what we're doing here is setting the tone for where Darby is heading."

Although the board has neither a plan in place for such instruction, nor plans for teacher training, Banks said the fact that the district has no curriculum in place is unimportant. Policy leads, he said, and curriculum will follow.

The policy is based on a push to teach intelligent design – a biological origins theory that assumes there is a designer of the biological world. Critics argue that the theory is speculation not accepted in the scientific community and a guise to introduce Biblical creationism in a public school setting.

Science teachers from Darby and Corvallis voiced concerns about changing the science curriculum, saying that teachers are sensitive to the social aspects of evolution and that evolution is the standard accepted in state and federal accreditation standards.

Darby's policy doesn't specifically include language requiring intelligent design to be a part of science class, but instructs teachers to challenge the theory of evolution. Teachers are "encouraged to help students assess evidence for and against theories, to analyze the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories, including the theory of evolution."

Legal advice

Elizabeth Kaleva, the board's attorney through her position as the attorney for the Montana School Boards Association, had previously urged the board to come up with a proposed curriculum for "objective origins" and submit it to the state for approval. Kaleva had also warned the board that it would likely be sued over such a policy by groups or individuals that believe that "objective origins" is a catch phrase for putting religion into science class.

Wetzsteon repeatedly asked the majority why they were disregarding Kaleva's advice, but he got no answer.

Banks, Bender and Schallenberger all stressed that "objective origins" has no religious purpose in school, and that intent will be a key feature should the board be sued. Federal courts have repeatedly struck down religious-based efforts to bring Christian "creation science" into the mainstream of American science instruction.

"Creation is definitely not something that we need in the school," Bender said.

Wetzsteon said the board was making a mistake by moving ahead with a vague policy that gives no guidance for what and how teachers will teach. Where will the school find a textbook to match its policy? he asked. And, he said, how would it be paid for?

"Right now there's nothing in place," Wetzsteon said.

The debate over "objective origins" has sharply divided the town, and that division was once again evident Monday night as the board took additional testimony about the policy proposal. The policy has already been the topic of at least four meetings, and nearly 100 people offered their thoughts in meetings last week and Monday night.

Religious connections

And despite what the board said about the policy having no religious purpose, it was clear again Monday that many in Darby wish that it did. A handful of speakers talked about how they'd had prayer in schools growing up, and several more talked about Jesus. They also decried Darwinism as a secular religion.

Once again, the religious proponents were countered by the advocates of current science instruction, which included a boisterous group of Darby High students.

Zach Honey, a student, had done an unscientific poll of his fellow students, and he told the board the "vast majority" doesn't want the new policy.

"We are choosing," Honey said. "And we don't want it."

They got it anyway, over additional objections from principals Loyd Rennaker and Doug Mann.

Going it alone

Rennaker is principal of the junior and senior high schools, and he urged the board to work with the state to develop a curriculum that will fit state standards for public instruction. Critics have said the school may be jeopardizing its funding by enacting the new science proposal.

"Why Darby? Why Darby?" Rennaker asked. "Let the state decide this."

Intelligent design theory is not part of the state defined basic instructional program, while evolution is. Adopting the policy means trustees will have to change the district's curriculum to support it.

Darby parent and minister Curtis Brickley proposed the policy change and caught the attention of many community members with a multi-media presentation supporting intelligent design. He argued the theory is based in science and is not an attempt to teach creationism.

The U.S. Supreme Court has emphatically ruled against the teaching of creationism in public schools and evolution has been the benchmark of science curriculum since the 1925 Scopes trial.

Unanswered questions

Mann, principal of the elementary school and curriculum coordinator for the district, said the board would be putting the "cart before the horse" by approving the policy with no plans for implementing it. Mann had a series of questions for the board, none of which was answered. What teaching materials would be used and are they credible?

What are the costs, in both time and money?

What "origins" will be acceptable?

The majority appeared far from having those answers Monday night, but Schallenberger, Bender and Banks said the process is just beginning. "There's work to be done," Schallenberger said.

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or 370-3330, or at mmoore@missoulian.com. Reporter Jenny Johnson can be reached at 363-3300 or jjohnson@ravallirepublic.com.
Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Read more stories on education and culture
Copyright © 2000-2004 Missoulian and Lee Enterprises.

State education chief: Darby school policy not science


Associated Press

HELENA - The man behind a new school policy in Darby that encourages teaching criticism of the theory of evolution insists the policy arises from science, and is not a push to teach creationism in public classrooms.

But the state's education chief sees it differently.

"That isn't science," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch. "That's exactly what it's all about is teaching creationism. It doesn't matter what you call it. Creationism is not a recognized science."

She said Tuesday that the Darby School District runs the risk of violating the Montana Constitution and jeopardizing funding if it adopts a policy and curriculum that introduce creationism into science classes.

But Curtis Brickley, a Darby resident pushing the policy change, said that teaching creation as an alternative to evolution is not his goal. Rather, he said the policy endorsed 3-2 by the Darby School Board on Monday merely encourages "critical analysis of evolution."

Even those who believe the world evolved naturally have some scientific disagreements, Brickley said, and he wants teachers and students in Darby free to explore those issues.

"Just because you disagree with evolution doesn't mean you favor creationism," he added.

Besides, Brickley said, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that creation cannot be taught in public schools. He declined to say whether he would support adding to the policy a prohibition on teaching creationism.

The "objective origins science" policy, still subject to a final vote by the Darby trustees, says teachers "are encouraged to help students assess evidence for and against theories, to analyze scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories, including the theory of evolution, by giving examples of scientific innovation or discovery challenging commonly held perceptions."

Critics say that is a lengthy mandate to teach the theory of creation. They say "objective origins" is synonymous with the theory of "intelligent design," which states that evolution cannot explain the diverse life on Earth, so it must be the product of some intelligent designer.

That's the conviction of Mary Lovejoy, a board member who voted against the policy. "I believe in the constitution and there's a reason why there's separation of church and state," she said. "Faith needs to be taught in the church or the home."

It's a religious issue, not a matter of science as Brickley contends, Lovejoy said, expressing concern that inserting creation into the school will drive students and teachers out of Darby. Bob Wetzsteon, another trustee against the policy, said he doesn't believe that a curriculum acceptable to the state can be devised to implement the policy.

"There's no way that that it could meet standards," he said. "If somebody can come up with a way to teach this, that's fine. If there's a curriculum presented that will pass muster, I'm all for it. But if there was such a thing, wouldn't you think it already would have been presented?"

The three board members supporting the policy change - Gina Schallenberger, Doug Banks and Elizabeth Bender - could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

McCulloch said the Montana Constitution states: "No sectarian tenets shall be advocated in any public educational institution in the state." Yet that is what the Darby policy promotes in the science curriculum, she said.

"The policy that's been adopted is deviating from good science instruction" and that could dilute the classes at Darby to the point students would not receive the quality education guaranteed by the constitution, McCulloch said.

Brickley maintains he just wants students exposed to scientific evidence, not religious belief, that casts doubts on evolution.

"People want to censor that criticism and teach only evidence that supports an evolution theory," he said. "You should be able to teach the science against it. Science is about the search for truth. You're supposed to question."

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises

FORUM Evolution and Georgia's schools


Should evolution be taught in Georgia schools? Tell us what you think.

Please keep your posts to 300 words or less. Comments longer than that run the risk of not being posted. Thanks.


In his Equal Time column ("Proposed standards give science teachers leeway"), Randy Singer states that the proprosed changes to the education curriculum puts "trust in local science teachers." But the real - and I believe intentional - effect of adopting the new policy would be intimidation of those same teachers. Maybe he meant to say that, once properly intimidated, most science teachers could be trusted not to teach evolution.

The life sciences hold great promise in this increasingly competitive world, let's hope our teachers are allowed to send our children into that world prepared to compete.

Rex A Mayne, Alpharetta

Since it has been a while for Randy Singer's high school science class, let us visit his statement about unbiased analysis of competing theories. Evolution has no competing 'theory'. I emphasize the word 'theory' for a reason. Creationism and intelligent design are not scientific theories. A scientific theory can be tested. An idea, especially one based on literal interpretation of the bible cannot be tested. Creationism and ID can only be accepted or rejected on the merits of argument alone rather than experimentation.

I would be interested in whether or not Mr. Singer or those who think like him have ever gone to a doctor. If so, did they describe an illness? Did the doctor prescribe medication? Did the medication make them healthy again? The irony is doctors and those who research disease and drug therapies are trained in basic Mendelian-Darwinian evolution. Why? Because evolution occurs in all prokaryotic, eukaryo tic and viral life forms whether micro or macro. Understanding evolution is how we defeated killer disease's of the past and are presently working on HIV, SARS, Ebola and others. Would they really prefer someone pray over that petri dish and hope a miracle occurs? Or how about that old religious standby that the sick are actually demon possessed? Would the creationists with their bias against homosexuals and HIV have come up with a coherent treatment plan?

Please leave science alone. The scientists themselves will know a competing theory when they see one. They don't need the fundamentalists trying to tell them about science.

David Robinson, Atlanta

This discussion in the AJC is most interesting, and promising as a controversial subject touching on our origins and deepest-held beliefs. Randy Singer's EQUAL TIME column in today's newspaper is, to me, the more rational of the paper's two editorial commentaries on the subject. Science deals with what is known as well as current theories about our world. Evolution, with its limitations on what is truly known and what might be projected, is a theory. To argue otherwise seems unscientific to me, as suggested by Singer's column. I would like to see more biologists, especially those independent of public employment or peer pressure, weigh in on this with learned, scientific arguments in place of lock-step adherance to secular fears of a Christian plot and hysterical cries that faith may replace science as a standard in Georgia classrooms. Faith has already replaced science in those classrooms...unswerving, uncritical, unscientific faith in a theory called Evolution. This might be the ultimate "stupidity" and "idiotic explanation". (AJC editorial words in quotes)

By the way, as you will probably learn if you keep this subject open in the paper, many scientists are Christians, perhaps even most. But a lot of us don't add our voices to the public debate as we might, viewing faith to be private commitment to a supremely intelligent designer, God. We should go public to provide scientific balance.

Waverly Graham, Alpharetta

In Jay Bookman's Monday column he indicated that Ms. Cox would also like to delete reference to earth's long history. Does that mean that we should delete reference to carbon dating, since it obviously is an invalid scientific tool ? Should we delete reference to anything pertaining to geology? what about the dinosaurs? should we delete any mention of them? Certainly we should delete any information pertaining to viruses and how they evolve. Actually, I think not. I think the only thing that needs to be deleted is Ms. Cox. The only thing scarier than her proposal is the fact that she is the top education official. Watch out Georgia kids, your future is lookin' so bright you are gonna' have to wear shades!!

Geoff Knafou, Buford

Dear Christian Friends,

I am quite disturbed that the majority of Christians do not rise up and take a stand if we truly believe that "God created the Heaven and the Earth"!

We so often are called the silent majority which has merit in so may issues because we fail to speak out.

The atheistic, humanistic evolutionists are not teaching this as a theory which it is but are teaching it as absolute fact. When our State School Superintendent wants to change the terminology and also allow for Creationism to be considered for balance, the evolutionists rise up in arms. What are they afraid of? They are really afraid if our children are exposed to the truth of God's Word and Creationism is considered along side the theory of evolution that the real truth will break through and win the battle for the minds of our children. For the evolutionists to refuse consideration of an alternative makes very obvious their desperation and their fear.

Why don't all of us who are Christian and believe the truth of God's Word bombard the news media and newspapers with letters and emails demanding balance in education exposing our children to the total evidence and picture allowing Creationism to be presented along side the evolution theory?

Lewis Stover, Jr., Lawrenceville

Walter West is wrong -- he does indeed force me to pray. Whenever anyone urges that science be devalued, that the objective search for truth be abandoned, the first thing I do is pray for deliverance from ignorance.

We Christians yearn for truth and accuracy. In biology, God's creation manifests evolution, as Christians like Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Francis Collins (head of the Human Genome Project) discovered.

I regret Georgia wishes to teach something other than that.

-- Ed Darrell, Dallas, Texas

All this uproar over the term evolution brings to mind a certain class during my own high school days.

The subject was biology and the teacher was one of my favorites. She was intelligent and enthusiastic. She was also a professed Christian which was evident in her attitude of kindness and tolerance.

This particular day a student asked her how she felt about evolution since she was both a Christian and a scientist. We ended up spending the entire class discussion the subject.

It was her opinion that biology and the bible simply do not contradict each other. The theory of evolution she told us states that life on earth started out in very simple forms and gradually over time got more and more complex. Compare this to the book of genesis. First there was a void, the god created day and night, then land and air, then plants, then animals and finally ending with man, the most complex creature of all.

I found this statement the most sensible I had ever heard on the subject and i still feel that way. God is responsible for all life; science was his gift to us so that we could understand his creation and how it works.

Case closed.

-- Tonya M Cox, Lawrenceville

I've got one question for all you Darwinists?

Why are you say afraid of opening up your precious sacred cow to a critical examination in the science classroom?

You know why, you just wan't admit it.

Your theory, and the supposed supporting evidence, has so many holes it is impossible to defend when the dogmatic orthodoxy which protects it is removed.

You say I'm wrong? Prove it! Let's have an open, honest, critical examination of evolution in the science classrooms. Keep creation and ID out of it - just ALL the evidence, both for and against evolution, and let the students come to informed, scientific conclusions on their on. You pick your evidence for it, I'll pick my evidence against it, and we'll see who wins the day. I'll use YOUR own words, YOUR own publications, YOUR own scientific journals to beat you. And I'll do it without ever mentioning the word "creation", "ID", "religion", or any other of the buzzwords you are so afraid of. Strictly scientific dissent and disagreements in the words of EVOLUTIONIST themselves!

But you'll never allow this to happen will you? You have way to much to loose. You'd rather indoctrinate my children instead of educate them.

Shame on all of you.

-- Larry Taylor, Marietta

Public schools have an obligation to teach evolution since it is such a crucial part of a thorough education in science. Public school education does not need to be compromised to accommodate the many and varied religious beliefs about the origin of life held by Georgia families. Therefore, the curriculum should stick to real science and leave religious indoctrination to privately funded religious schools and worship centers. There is an adage I often quote that says, 'Minds are like parachutes, they must be open to work.' If Superintendent Cox does not open hers, the public school system of Georgia will soon crash under her leadership.

-- Timothy Brown, Dublin, GA

Kathy Cox lost my trust completely. She is not qualified as the top educator in Georgia. We need to recall her.

-- Jing Shu, Roswell, GA

yes - and it is embarrassing that the question was ever raised.

-- Pat Dusenbury, Atlanta

Anyone up for school vouchers? This is simply another in a long line of reasons why school vouchers are a GOOD IDEA. Bureaucrats are not educators, nor are they a parent to my child. Give me the option to work with the educator of MY CHOICE to teach MY CHILDREN the theory I believe in and the theory I want to teach my children. Give others the same choice.

The status quo in education simply does not work for our children in this day and age. The only beneficiaries of the current status quo are poor teachers and the NEA who protects them. Ms. Cox I challenge you to push for real change that will make a real difference in the lives and futures of our children. Support school vouchers.

-- Kent Michael Klink, Hiram

When principles of evolution are taught, students should know that they are indeed learning about evolution. However, if true academic freedom is to be acheived, teachers who understand all sides of the issue,regardless of their stance, should be free to unfold these issues in the classroom. For example, the origin of life is a historical question, not a scientific one. That question can never be answered by science, as successful inorganic-matter-to-life experiments merely show that it can happen under those circumstances - not what actually happened. Since the origin of life can never be shown unequivocably by science, it should be taken out of the currliculum based on the scientists' own standard since "it is not science." Teaching students to think on this level in all areas will only make them stronger intellectually.

-- Kristy Nickles, Winder, GA

What about the raelian theory? How about the theory that we are all really Martians? The fact is that the theory of intelligent design is no more than an idea. It has no factual support. There is no evidence backing up this theory. The theory of evolution is well supported by the fossil record. But I guess those 300 million year old dinosaur bones are just figments of our collective imagination.

-- Joe Thompson, Alpharetta, Ga.

Evolution is no more a debatable theory than the "theory" that the earth orbits the sun. But perhaps we should be giving equal time in physics class to the theories of the flat earth society? It is an incontestable fact, confirmed in many diffferent fields of science and not in dispute for over a century, that life on earth has evolved over time. Even creationists don't argue this point. What remains to be explained is the process driving evolution - why do species evolve? - and the resultant diversity and complexity of life that we observe. Until Darwin's insight, this was a genuine puzzle, but his theory of Natural Selection solved the riddle. Random mutation of the gene pool combined with non-random selection (survival of the fittest) explains life on earth. The theory of natural selection is a very well tested theory that is, like any robust and useful theory, the subject of ongoing research. The Intelligent Design theory is an alternative non-scientific explanation pushed by creationists to explain the complexity of life. Non-scientific because Intelligent Design is neither testable nor falsifiable and so has no place in the science classroom. As to the laughable idea that scientists are peddling dogma and suppressing other legitimate views, this is simply a misunderstanding of how science works. Scientific knowledge is the opposite of dogma - it always open to scrutiny and refutation.

-- Ian Flitcroft, Griffin

What ever happened to Creationism? Evolution is NOT the only way to describe the development and diversity of life. Read the Bible. That is how animals, insects, plants, and everything else arrived on this earth. If it is to do with science it should be testable...well then, it is a test of faith.

-- Taylor Reed, Atlanta

Contrary to popular belief we "religious zealots" are not as ignorant as many have suggested. We attended the same science classes, took the same tests and understand the scientific method as well as all the other would be scientists. Lost in this discussion is the type of evolution at issue.

Almost every person, religious or not, will agree with "microevolution" simply by the obvious changes that we see in each successive generation, but to expect us to believe that all life began in the bottom of some pond or bog billions of years ago is presposterous. The scientific method requires that "Observation" of what has been asserted must take place. Many scientists have tried, but have yet to "Observe" where one species has evolved into another species. I find it amazing that no credible proof has been discovered to support this theory, but this must explain why it remains simply a theory.

People say that "creationism" or "intelligent design" is faith more than science, but I say it takes more faith to believe the evolutionists' assertion of the origin of life. If you want to "Observe" my proof of the origin of life go out at evening and watch the sunset or just stare at your children while they sleep and then tell me all this is just a result of some cosmic occurrence that took place billions of years ago or a result of some pond scum crawling on to the shore and "evolving" over time.

Please don't try to make a monkey out of me!

-- Reece McAlister, McDonough, Ga

Years ago when I attended the University of North Carolina, I was required to take Evolution for a whole semester as part of my degree in zoology. This senior level course required me to use and assimilate all the knowledge I had gained in concepts such as genetics, comparative anatomy, biochemistry, geography, climate change and mathmatics. This was one of the most difficult courses I had taken in my program and I struggled to get a C, the lowest grade of my academic career. My high school (in a rural part of the south) did not teach evolution as part of the biology curriculum and barely touched on anything we didn't need to dissect. Many of my fellow students in college (most of them from the north) had been exposed to the subject of evolution in high school and were familiar with the concepts upon entering the UNC Evolution class. I was at a definite disadvantage. Medical and Graduate schools don't like Cs.

-- Seaborn Farlow, Atlanta, Georgia

There are a lot of things frightening in this whole debate. First and foremost are the actions and statements of our elected officials like Supt. Cox and Gov. Perdue who are capitulating to the far-right, flat earth crowd at the expense of Georgia's children. Second is the statement that members of the extreme right are making, including church leaders, to the effect that one cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian. What a ridiculous and ignorant statement to make in the 21st century! These people are showing their ignorance of scientific principle. Evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive.

-- Thomas Bartley, Dalton, GA

Mr. Singer says reaction to Cox's proposal is overblown, like "she had proposed overthrowing the government." What Cox has done is at that level. It is malignant educational malpractice as she is proposing the educational serfdom of Georgia?s children.

He asks what is wrong with replacing "mandatory statewide indoctrination with a trust in local science teachers." The low level of Georgia?s secondary education is partly due to the inadequate science education of many science teachers. The problem with what the local science teacher will teach, evolution or a narrow religious belief, is not trusting most science teachers to teach Evolution, but that some will impose religion. What Cox does, and Mr. Singer advocates, is to give misguided bigots the right to impose their beliefs on all children.

Evolution is not indoctrination; it is a basic building block in many scientific disciplines. Secondary schools are not research institutions where competing theories are fought over by little professors, but rather are where students get the basics. Secondary students must get a background in standard scientific terminology if they are to succeed in college. Once in college students will be exposed to criticisms of various aspects of evolutionary theory and to alternative evolutionary theories. The Head Biology Advisor at the University of Georgia has said if Cox?s proposal is approved, he would recommend the University refuse to honor Advanced Placement biology credit from Georgia high schools.

'Intelligent design theory' is indoctrination based on belief. If 'Intelligent design theory' or any of the other creationism buzzwords had any validity they would be viable in the scientific world. But they are NOT scientific theories, as they are not based on factual observation, but rather on hope. Cox and Singer are promoting the type of hope that results in a student losing their HOPE.

-- Johnnie Sutherland, Athens, Georgia

First Cobb County and now this. I wonder, do you have any idea what kind of picture this is painting to outsiders of Georgia? Teaching wrong answers as right answers is not the image any state needs. Nor is it some kind of legally mandated 'right' to knowingly mislead children in the credible guise of a science classroom.

As an active advocate for science, and a volunteer science educator, I've spent a good deal of my free time cleaning up the mess Creationism produces in the minds of the nation's young people.

Most disturbing to those of us who are closely involved with this issue are the glaring lies told by some Young Earth Creationist Evangelists, and the dishonest tactics employed by the advocates of Intelligent Design.

EG: The opponents of evolution, and the anti-science, fundamentalist, political coalition(s) in general, would have us believe that there really is an alternative scientific explanation for biodiversity on this planet. Yet when asked, time and time again, they're unable to state the scientific theory of Creationism/Intelligent Design, and they cannot name a single testable prediction from it.

This isn't about science at all folks. Don't kid yourselves.The underlaying motives of the more extreme elements of the religious right is to basically turn the US into a Christian version of the Taliban. Creationism is merely one vector in that campaign.

You can learn more about the Evolution VS Creationism issue at http://groups.msn.com/EvolutionVCreation

-- Steven 'Drew' Lang, Cape Canaveral, FL

Some very learned and respected men had some words to say which are still very relevant:

John Adams wrote, in a letter to John Taylor, "The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning... And since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collusion with dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."

Thomas Jefferson stated, ""They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live."

And Ethan Allen, in "Reason the Only Oracle of Man", stated, ""In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue."

-- Carlton Wyatt, Douglasville, GA

Kathy Cox said it was healthy to have the debate concerning evolution for Cobb County. Once Cobb County said they were still going to teach evolution it was obvious that she would not be satisfied.

For years I've heard about the theory of creationism and intelligent design. As a scientist, how do we test these theories? What do we need to do out in the field to test these two theories? If I tell you that all the UFOs that have been reported over the years have actually been bring the different animals and plants to this plant over the millions of years, would that qualify as a theory and are they the intelligent creatures we are searching for? It's a theory that can be tested but is it worthy to be taught in the schools? I don't think so. How do you explain the geologic record? Did the fossils just come and go. Was God bored with one and decided to replace it with another? All I hear is buzz words when it comes to creationism and intelligent design.

-- Ronald J Wallace, Roswell, GA

Local teachers have leeway?

Local teachers DO NOT have leeway on what material will be covered on the Georgia High School Graduation Test, which is what Ms. Cox's standards will measure.

Is one really serious to think that with all the material that must be covered in other standards that teachers will voluntarily teach something that students won't care about because it won't be on "The Test"? Evolution is the basis of study in biological heredity and learned about in about every other state. How will those who never had study in that concept ever be able to compete for jobs?

Want to teach another conceptual theory? Fine by me, but don't dilute the principle theory by discarding it's chief precepts in favor of advancing the inferior theory.

I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.

-- John E. Beasley, Warner Robins, GA

A false claim: 'The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently claimed that "most scientists deride intelligent design," it is hard to ignore the Georgia Scientists for Academic Freedom, a distinguished group of scientists (including a Nobel Prize nominee) who weighed in on the Cobb County evolution debate. How can they be a distinguished group of scientists by making false claims like being a Nobel Prize nominee unless it is fifty years old?

According to Nobel Prize web site states ?

Q. Has X been nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Prize? Where do I find a list of Nobel Prize nominees?

A. According to the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation, nominators must not make public the names of the nominees nor inform nominees privately of the proposals. Even invitations to propose names are confidential. Proposals received for the award of a prize, and investigations and opinions concerning the award of a prize may not be divulged. The names of the nominees are classified as confidential information for at least fifty years.

-- Daniel Bacon, Rising Fawn

Evolution should be taught in school, however not the evolution you are probably thinking of. Microevolution, should be taught, examples of this are birds changing colors due to predators, man getting bigger over the centuries, probably due to diet and medical advancements. This type of evolution does exist. However, macroevolution, or where one species changes into another has neve been proven in science. Not only has man evolving from apes never been proven, no animal evolving from any other species has ever been proved. The closest science ever came was archaeopteryz, believed by some scientists for a time. However, this link between reptiles and birds proved to be false, as the birdlike features proved to be birdlike not reptilian. So lets stop teaching our innocent children thoeries that are 170 years old. Let's stick to facts, the one that sticks out in my mind, is that no matter how far back you go in time. The earth, sun, universe and even life itself had to start at some point. Since physically things can't appear out of thin air, a creator must exist.

-- Randy Hayes, Acworth, Ga

There is no alternative scientific theory to evolution. There are thousands of religious alternatives. So, we are free to believe and have whatever faith we choose to follow. That is the wisdom of our religious freedoms guaranteed by our constitution.

However, if you are doing science, you have to get it right or you flunk science. And if you are an aspiring young scientist in a Georgia public school, to get your science right you must be exposed to and learn the same science that will be required when you get to college.

If some students have a religious objection to current science, then provide an alternate class or maybe not even require them to take any science at all. But please don?t shortchange the students who choose science as their life?s work.

We need all the science excellence we can get.

-- Robert Sieling, Roswell, GA

Randy Singer is right. The scientific method should be used. It was. Evolution won. Everything else lost.

-- John Bastarache, Atlanta

Evolution is the core concept underlying biology-why species occur in certain regions, why they have certain characteristics, why variation exists in nature, why some species thrive while others go extinct. Ignoring evolution in the K-12 curriculum will weaken students' preparation for advanced training in biology at the college level. "Special creation" or "Intelligent Design" are not scientific theories but beliefs of a particular religious sect. In other words, they are not testable, repeatable, and based purely on faith. In contrast, evolution by natural selection is testable, repeatable, and based on observations, in other words, science. Religion and science are compatible but should not be viewed as interchangeable, particularly in the science classroom. Christian beliefs about creation are appropriate in a comparative World Religions class, but not in a biology or science class.

-- John Pascarella, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Biology), Valdosta, GA

Scientific standards for the classroom should be determined by scientists, not by politicians. There is currently NO alternative scientific theory to explain the development and diversity of life other than the evolutionary theory. So-called "creation science" is not a science and is not regarded as a legitimate theory by the scientific community. Sure, there are a few fringe scientists who advocate it, but none have done anything to show that it is a legitimate area of inquiry. When they do and the scientific community accepts it as a possible theory for how life came about then it can be taught in science classrooms. Until then, however, it's just another flat earth theory that flies in the face of the facts.

-- Peter Higgins, Atlanta

I agree with the many scientists who have commented that this debate, and the comments made by both Governer Perdue and Commissioner Cox reflect an embarrassing ignorance of the definition of scientific theory.

In order for something to be considered scientific theory, it must be subject to the scientific process. This, essentially, means that it MUST be testable.

What does that mean? It means that first, a null hypothesis and a research hypothesis must be formed. The null hypothesis is one that usually purports a neutral stance, such as in the case of drug testing, "The drug causes no change in physical response.".

The research hypothesis is the one that is of interest, such as "The drug has a positive/negative effect on the physical response.". This hypothesis is usually based upon a body of knowledge or observances.

Once the hypothesis is formed, it can be tested. Then data is collected and the appropriate statistical test is applied. Based upon the results of the test and mitigating circumstances, a conclusion about the null hypothesis is formed. We either say, "The data support the null hypothesis and it appears the drug has no effect." Or the data support the research hypothesis and we say, "The data appears to reject the null hypothesis in favor of the research hypothesis, that the drug has a positive/negative effect."

Then other scientists, who may or may not agree with the conclusion, based upon many factors, such as how the data were collected, or how the hypothesis was set up, or the study was designed, will investigate the hypothesis further.

This is the scientific process, and it is how scientific theory is formed. Anything else is a different type of theory. A philosophical theory, a religious theory, a social theory (all of which can be scientific theories if subjected to the scientific process).

So, intelligent design is not a scientific theory. It should not be placed in a science curriculum. Evolution, however, IS a scientific theory, albeit an ambivalent one (which is how many are when the body of data is huge) and belongs in the science curriculum. However, any other scientific theories that concern the formation of the universe should also be presented, dissenting or otherwise.

As far as intelligent design in school curriculums is concerned, I have always thought ignoring religious studies, as a social science, was a large missing link in our public education. I see no reason why Comparative Religion could not be included, in which all the major (even minor) religions of this world are presented in a historical and civic manner. Not only would our children benefit by understanding the beliefs and social values of other religions (thereby cutting down on prejudices and hate), but they would be exposed to all the different religious ideas of how the world began. This promotes free-thinking and cretaive thought processes. However, the dangers here lie in some teachers pushing some religious ideas instead of presenting them objectively, just as some push evolution.

-- Jennifer Favaloro-Sabatier, Lutcher, LA but I live in Lawrenceville

I would love to have an open mind here.

However, your choice of authors for the "Equal Time" rebuttal doesn't exactly inspire confidence that this ill-advised curriculum change isn't religously motivated.

Why couldn't you find and educator or scientist to give us an "Equal Time" rebuttal with some objective facts sans subjective opinions, instead of the Executive Vice President of the North American Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to twist this around into some sort of secular state indoctrination.

I want my children taught science in school. I have yet to see any credible scientific evidence that supports creationism, intelligent design, or whatever they want to call it.

-- Rob Williams, Marietta

If Evolution is not taught in Georgia public schools, then how do I explain to my daughter (who is a focus student at a Gwinnett elementary school) the existence of the Lower Life Forms and Mental Dwarfs who obviously dominate the Georgia Department of Education?

-- steve craigg, Albuquerque, New Mexico


-- bubba butt, atlanta

The answer to the question "Should evolution be taught in Georgia schools?" is Yes.

Design theory is not science. It is faith based relgion attempting to pose as science. It is an imposter. Destroy it.

-- Jeffrey Quillinan, Barstow

Just little cartoon...I think the message is clear.

A Georgia high school student asks a new student who just moved to GA from California and now attends his high school: "Do you believe in biological changes over time?"

The transfered CA student bewildered replys, "what do you mean to say, whether people age or not?

The GA student says, "NO! Do you believe in the scientific theory of biological changes over time? Ya know Darwin's theory?

The CA student ponders the question for a moment and stutters out: "are you asking me whether I believe in E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N?"

The Ga student replies, "NO, not evolution, biological changes over time. Do you believe in it? What in the heck is evolution?!! Are you some sort of moron? I just wanted to have an intellectual conversation about the theory of biolgical changes over time and the theory of God created the world.

-- Catherine McGarity, Decatur, GA

Does the state of Georgia know something about public education the rest of the country does not? Considering Georgia ranks 48th I don't think so.

Given that, why would the Georgia DOE attempt such a foolish venture in replacing the word 'evolution' with some nebulous phrase? There is only one reason - politics. As a card carrying Republican, superintendent Cathy Cox apparently feels she must kowtow to the Christian religious right who obviously cannot reconcile evolution with the old Testament. I'm sure privately Ms. Cox finds total disdain with her own proposal since she was once a highly praised educator. She can redeem herself by telling the social conservatives to take a hike. Evolution is the underpinning of modern biology and its here to say. If the religious nuts can't handle it, then let them send their kids to a private school where they can brainwash them.

-- John Petz, Alpharetta

The idea that Georgia's science classes should be open to "competing theories" is code language for opening the door to the teaching of creationism in our public schools. Literalist interpretations of Genesis miss the enduring value of Christianity as a religious tradition, debasing religion into mere superstition. Christianity's value does not rest on Genesis's reputation as an up-to-date biology, astronomy and paleontology handbook. The still-pertinent subject of Genesis is awe at the largeness, mystery and (hopefully) obtainable goodness of creation, which is a subject to be explored in one's church, faith community and in the depths of private contemplation.

-- Dan Corrie, Atlanta

Thank you Kathy Cox and Gov. Perdue for giving me yet another reason to seek private school education for my child. How sad that a state ranking 49th out of 50 in its schools seem intent on reaching the bottom.

-- Mike Gunter, Dunwoody, GA

Boy, these evolutionists are a touchy lot! Just what are they afraid of-- that if competing theories of origin are discussed in the biology classroom some smart students will figure out that the "emperor" is naked?

-- Bob Swygert, Stockbridge

If creationism is required to be taught in public schools, then evolution should be required to be taught in church. Fair is fair.

-- Carlton Wyatt, Douglasville, GA

I don't understand what she is trying to accomplish by changing "evolution" to "biological changes over time". What does that accomplish? What is the cost of all new books, teaching aids, literature, etc.? What is the purpose of the change? I see absolutely no point in changing anything. To move away from universally accepted teachings also means moving away from the world as a whole. We're already 50th and don't think we should try to dig down any further . . . do you?

-- Monica Jones, Dallas, GA

Opponents of teaching evolution say "it's just a theory". Even as he supports teaching evolution, Governor Perdue says it should be taught as an "academic theory". (AJC 2/1/04) Yet on the same front page I read about how Asian flu viruses mutate and move between apparently related species - the chicken and the human. Yes, evolution is a theory; a theory that guides life and death decisions in preventing epidemics.

Evolution is a theory in the same way that a trial jury forms a theory and weighs the evidence. The jury of science has decided that beyond a reasonable doubt evolution is the explanation for the diversity of life on earth. There are no alternative scientific theories. The arguments behind continuing political interference in science education are simply dishonest.

It's important to emphasize that Superintendent Cox' proposed changes are not merely to remove the word "evolution" but to remove the requirement for teaching the principles of evolution. (See the AJC 1/31/04 http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0104/31evolution.html)

Children in school need this knowledge so they can understand and make decisions about the world they live in. The principles of biology should not be taught in the context of a sophomoric philosophy debate. They must be taught as the accumulated wisdom of science.

-- Rick Thomas, Atlanta

what else is there ????

-- jim hunt, stone mountain ga

Ms. Cox seems to have forgotten that Georgia already ranks minus 50 out of a possible minus 51 in education. Just how low does she think she is capable of bringing our quality of education? I'm already worried that my kids won't be able to get into better colleges because Georgia standards are so pathetic.

A friend once told me that if his girlfriend was a snake, she'd be a "cotton-headed rattle mouth." Starting to sound familiar... Again.

-- Gary H. Webster, Stone Mountain

I think that evolution should be an elective subject, to be chosen if one is interested in learning more about it, but not a manditory subject for all to graduate. Don't force your opinion on others that have different ideals than you. We don't force you to Pray, don't force us to listen to something we don't want to hear. Have a Blessed day.

-- Walter West, Stockbridge, Ga.

Lost in the debate about evolution in the standards is the fact that the state also appears to want to forget about the importance of sexual reproduction in the animal kingdom and its role in disease transmission. Moreover, it clearly supports the idea that people need not take responsibility for their actions when GA omits the section stating, "Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems. " Why would we want young people to be unaware of the impacts of human activities on the environment?

-- Matthew Grober, Atlanta GA

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," once wrote Theodosius Dobzhansky, pioneer evolutionary geneticist and devout Orthodox Christian. As long as we want students to graduate from Georgia's high schools with sense, evolution not only needs to be taught but be the central theme in biology classes. Watering down science curriculum to appease the ignorant, will only perpetuate ignorance and conflict the mission of public education. If you desire a truly world-class curriculum in Georgia, please consider the following online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/gasci04/.

-- Reed A. Cartwright, Athens, GA


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 672 February 2, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon
ELEMENT 115 HAS BEEN DISCOVERED at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia. JINR physicists and their longtime collaborators from Lawrence Livermore National Lab in the US produced 4 atoms of the new superheavy element by striking a target of americium-243 atoms with a beam of calcium-48 ions. The beam energy used, 248 MeV, was chosen to produce just the right energy conditions for making the amalgamated nucleus but not causing it to break up, at least not right away. The long lifetime observed for element 115 suggests that physicists might be getting closer to the "island of stability," the presumed region on the chart of possible nuclear isotopes for which certain combinations of protons and neutrons (collectively known as nucleons, the regular constituents of all nuclei) are much more stable than some of the other heavy nuclei made artificially at accelerators. In general, nature doesn't produce elements heavier than uranium (element 92) and scientists must resort to colliding smaller nuclei to build up heavyweight elements. In previous experiments conducted by the same team at Dubna, evidence has been recorded for elements 114 and 116. One sequential decay event corresponding to element 118 was also seen. (Claims for a separate discovery of element 118 by a group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in the US were later withdrawn.) In the new experiment, using the same approach, a beam of calcium-48 atoms (atomic number, or Z, equal to 20) was plowed into a target of americium-243 atoms (Z=95). By bringing together element 95 with element 20, four atoms of element 115 were created The nuclei of these precious atoms apparently lived for 90 msec. They expired in the following way: by decaying first to element 113 by the emission of an alpha particle (a nuclear morsel consisting of two protons and two neutrons); thence to element 111 by alpha emission again; and then by three more alpha decay steps to element 105 ("Dubnium") which, after the delay of a whole day (almost an eternity in nuclear physics) from the time of the original interaction, finally fissioned. Besides being a very difficult physics experiment to carry out, this work represents a great feat of nuclear chemistry, since it entailed sifting 4 atoms out of trillions of candidates. In other words, the gas-filled separator, employing chemistry, proved to be just as important as the accelerator.

In the past decade or so even-Z superheavy nuclei---112, 114, 116, 118---were sought at Dubna chiefly because of the facility's intense beams of Ca-48 and the ready availability of even-Z actinide targets. By the way, this experiment also marks the discovery of a second element, 113, which had not been seen before either. (Oganessian et al., Physical Review C, upcoming article; contact Yuri Oganessian at JINR, oganessian@flnr.jinr.ru, 011-7-09621-62151; Ken Moody at Livermore, 925-423-4585, moody3@llnl.gov, or Mark Stoyer, mastoyer@llnl.gov, cell phone 301-661-1169; background article by Oganessian in Scientific American, Jan 2000.)

CARBON NANOTUBE GEL, the first example of a liquid crystalline material consisting of single-walled nanotubes, has been made by physicists at the University of Pennsylvania. Basically the gel is a mass of half-micron long nanotubes, aligned like little logs along a single direction, in a polymer matrix. The gel exhibits hallmark properties of a nematic liquid crystal (in which rod shaped molecules are aligned) including optical anisotropy (birefringence) and topological defects. The gel's anisotropic characteristics and its sensitivity to changes in solvent quality might make it a candidate for novel applications. It could be useful, for example, as an osmotic or an electrical actuator in which changes in electrical field or salt concentration produce volume and shape changes. The gel was made by coating the nanotubes with surfactant chemicals and mixing in polymers which form a cross-linking network among the tubes. Next the volume was compressed. The resultant densities of isolated single-wall nanotubes are higher than can be produced in simple aqueous suspensions. (Islam et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming article; contact Arjun.G. Yodh, yodh@physics.upenn.edu, 215-898-6354, Mohammad Islam, islam@physics.upenn.edu, or Tom Lubensky, tom@physics.upenn.edu.)

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. It is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP. Physics News Update appears approximately once a week.

Georgia on our minds

Georgia is in the process of revising its 1997 "Quality Control Curriculum" (QCC) science education standards. The previous standards received a grade of F on Dr. Lawrence Lerner's 2000 evaluation of science education standards produced for the Fordham Foundation: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=42 The earlier standards used the word "evolution," but according to Lerner, "not in a way that encourages clarification of its role in the life sciences."

The proposed Gerogia science standards ("Georgia Performance Standards -- Draft") are derived from the American Association for the Advancement of Science publication Benchmarks for Science Literacy and from the Council on Basic Education Standards for Excellence in Education (SEE). Both of these documents include evolution as a critical scientific concept that must be taught. The Benchmarks specifically caution against picking and choosing among their recommendations. Although the Georgia Standards Draft reproduces long segments from the Benchmarks and SEE, there is systematic deletion of evolution. This includes biological evolution, as well as geological evolution, including statements about the age of the Earth. In some places, the Georgia Standards Draft also deletes human reproduction from the Benchmarks or SEE.

The state Superintendent of Education, Kathy Cox, calls evolution a "buzzword," and claims that removing it will make teaching easier for teachers. She wishes to replace the word "evolution" with "biological changes over time." Supt. Cox is on record as stating her support for teaching creationism through local option, and apparently believes that creationism is a "competing theory" (Dana Tofig, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 1, 2003). Supt. Cox has told reporters that the new standards would allow students to be taught, in the reporter's words, "all legitimate theories," and specifically mentioned Intelligent Design (ID) (Mary MacDonald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 30, 2004): http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0104/30evolution.html

The Science standards, when accepted, will be used to determine questions on the high school exit exam, the CRCT. After a period for public comment, the State Board of Education will vote on the standards in May. Strong support for the inclusion of the word "evolution" has been shown by former Georgia governor and ex-President Jimmy Carter: http://www.11alive.com/help/search/search_article.aspx?storyid=42289 an on-line statement signed by thousands of scientists, teachers, and other citizens: http://www.petitiononline.com/gasci04/petition.html and by the University of Georgia Academy Advisory Committee, according to which, "In order to properly prepare scientifically literate citizens/students, it is necessary for schools to teach biological evolution": http://www.gaacademy.org/BORAdvisoryCommitteeonEvolution.html

Additionally, in March 2003, the Georgia Academy of Science endorsed the AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory: http://www.gaacademy.org/GASonIntelligentDesign.html NCSE is pleased to add its endorsement to Voices for Evolution.

NCSE Analysis

A major concern for keeping the word evolution in the standards is to ensure that the topic will be tested on the CRCT; if evolution is not in the science standards, it will not be tested on the CRCT. If it is not tested on the CRCT, it will very likely not be taught, because teachers are under great pressure to teach to the test. Concepts related to evolution, such as natural selection, adaptation, and genetics, may well be taught, but not in the context of evolution. The word "evolution" must be used for sound science education.

Contrary to Supt. Cox's contention, removal of the word "evolution" does not make it easier for teachers. It makes it less likely that evolution will be taught. Teachers use state science standards as a shield against pressure from parents or administrators to avoid the topic of evolution.

Supt. Cox's perception that the Draft will allow instruction in ID is very disturbing. ID proposes that some complex structures require an "intelligent agent" (God) for their creation; it is a sectarian religious view that should not be advocated in the public school classroom. Contrary to claims, ID "theory" is not being used by scientists to explain the natural world. On the contrary, the largest scientific society in the world, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the author of the Benchmarks document used by Georgia in revising its standards) has called ID "inappropriate" as "subject matter for science education": http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml

Lerner's data showed 10 states that did not use the e-word in their science standards: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Since that time, Alabama, Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia have revised their standards and included the word "evolution." In dropping the word "evolution" from its revised standards, Georgia has regressed.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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