NTS LogoSkeptical News for 21 April 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Thursday, April 21, 2005

H. B. McLain


Solo Motorcycle Officer
Dallas Police Department

"Unfortunately all their accusations that it was my microphone that was stuck open and the shots were heard on it were printed in the newspapers, and it'll be that way from now on. They'll never be convinced otherwise, regardless of what I say…"

Born in the piney woods of East Texas in Nacogdoches County, H. B. McLain moved to Dallas in 1942, attended high school for six weeks, then joined the Merchant Marines during the Second World War. After joining the Dallas Police Department in 1953, he worked in the Patrol and Burglary and Theft Divisions until he became a solo motorcycle officer in November 1955. McLain was one of the escort officers in the motorcade on November 22, 1963.

It was a hazy morning as we went out to Love Field to wait for the President to come in. When we arrived, we parked our motorcycles on the outside of the fenced area until he arrived. Then, as the motorcade began, we met it at the gate and came on out.

The escort route had been picked out for him by the Tactical Group. Normally we had done our own scheduling, but they took it upon themselves this time. It was rather unusual because they had people working in positions they didn't normally work. We usually rode side by side with the senior man riding on the left and the junior man on the right. In this case, they had it reversed.

My assignment was to ride alongside the procession mostly behind the President's car and the press buses five or six cars behind the President on the left side. There was nothing extra special about the escort as we had done many of them. It was routine.

Our job was to keep the pedestrians back out of the way so they didn't get run over. We'd just ride alongside, and if anybody was too close, we'd tell them to move back. If that didn't work, we might bump them.

There were a lot of people along the motorcade route, especially in the downtown area from Akard to Houston Streets. When I made the turn onto Houston on the left side, we had caught up with the cars in front of us, and I had stopped right by the side of the entrance to the old jail, which is about midway between Main and Elm Streets on Houston. I heard one very clear shot. Evidently I must have felt like it was coming from straight ahead because at that instant I was looking down, and when I heard the shot, threw my head up and it appeared that about 5,000 pigeons flew out from behind that building (the Texas School Book Depository) straight ahead. In fact, I thought to myself, "Somebody's shooting at the pigeons!" But I could see the limousine off to my left on Elm and saw Mrs. Kennedy crawling on the back of the car. I had a good idea that somebody had been shot at but didn't know which one.

About that time the chief came on the radio and said, "Get to Parkland Hospital!" and the race was on.

As I sped through Dealey Plaza, the only thing I noticed was Hargis with his motorcycle laid down crawling on his hands and knees across the grassy knoll. I didn't have any idea what he was doing. You think maybe he might have fallen or that he lost his footing when he stepped off and slipped on the grass.

In any case, I caught up with and got in front of the limousine on Stemmons somewhere around Continental. The ride was wild! You know in your mind that you're going way too fast, but if you slow down or fall, the cars behind are going to run over you. But you don't think about those things, though, at the time; it's all instinct.

We had to slow down when we got off Stemmons at Industrial. Along Industrial there was a railroad track which was located on a small incline some twenty to thirty feet before we were to hit Harry Hines Boulevard. Chaney, myself and another officer went airborne up the incline, hit the ground, and made the sharp left onto Hines.

When we arrived at the hospital, I parked my motorcycle and came back to the limousine about fifteen feet away. As the hospital orderlies approached to take him out of the car, Mrs. Kennedy was still laying over him, covering his head, and wouldn't get up. So I took it upon myself, reached over and caught her by the shoulder, pulled her and said, "Come on, let them take him out." Somebody threw a coat over him just as she raised up, and they took him out on the right side of the car. She then stepped out on the left, stunned, and walked with me in a daze into the emergency room.

I figured at the time that the wound was fatal. Part of the skull was laying on the floorboard. Blood and brain material was splattered all over as if a ripe watermelon had been dropped. It was a pretty gory scene.

As I left the emergency room and was walking down the hall, one of the Secret Service agents told an FBI agent to get out of the building. "I'm with the FBI," and he started to ask him something. "I want you to get out of here!"

"But I'm with the FBI," he said.

"I don't give a goddamn who you're with! Get out of here!" The Secret Service agent then grabbed him by the nape of the neck, carried him to the door, and told the officer on the door, "Don't let this man back in here!" As a result, the FBI agent became belligerent. He seemed to think that because he was with the FBI that he could butt in and do whatever he wanted. Other than that and with everybody moaning and crying, the general scene at the hospital was under control. Later the motorcycle officers were then assigned to City Hall to control the turmoil there while Oswald was in custody. All I did was to stand in front of Homicide's door and keep people out. The following days, Saturday and Sunday, all of the solo motorcycle officers were off duty.

We tried to put most of this behind us as much as possible until it all came up again in 1977 when the House Select Committee on Assassinations began re-investigating all of this. The best I can figure is that the people doing it didn't know what the hell they were doing. They were jumping to conclusions. They sent one investigator down here to talk with us, and he began telling us what had happened and how it happened. We said, "To hell with you; we ain't telling you anything!" So he left and the next thing we knew the acoustics stuff was coming out.

The police department recorded on tape all radio transmissions on the two channels operating that day. We used Channel 2 for special assignments such as the motorcade and Channel 1 for regular assignments. We were all tuned in to Channel 2. At the time of the assassination, a mike on one of the motorcycles was stuck in the on position on Channel 1. Somehow the investigators concluded that one of our mikes was stuck, even though we weren't on that channel, and therefore the sound and number of shots would be recorded on the tape.

I talked to them several times to pinpoint where I was sitting, where the mike was on my motorcycle, and which way I was headed. I was surprised that I was being accused of being the one with the stuck mike because if mine was stuck, I couldn't have heard any of the other stuff that was going on.

To operate the radio, you had to press the button to talk on it. As a result, you couldn't hear anything and most of the others couldn't hear anything either other than what you were saying. Once you let off the button the channel was open again. But you wouldn't necessarily know if your mike was stuck open until you began to notice that you were hearing nothing on the radio. You could still transmit but you couldn't hear anything.

Eventually I was called to Washington. When I got up there in the late afternoon, they whisked me over to the hotel and asked me a bunch of questions. They told me what they were going to do, what they were going to ask, and what they were trying to prove. Something was said about the tapes and they said, "No, you don't need to hear the tapes."

The questions they asked couldn't be answered with a yes or no answer. They worded the questions so that the answers I gave fit their way of thinking because they were trying to reopen the investigation. The questions were hypothetical like: "Could this have happened?" or "Is it possible?" The only way I could answer was, "It's possible. Anything's possible." But I don't think I answered them with a yes or no. In fact, I really didn't know at the time what they were getting at.

When I got back from Washington, J. C. Bowles, who was the chief dispatcher and who had studied the tapes, called me and asked if I'd heard the tapes. When I told him no, he said, "Can you come by my office when you get off work?" So I went by there and was told to take two tapes into the other room. He set up a cassette recorder and told me, "Play this one; listen to it; then play this other one and listen to it." When I came out, he asked, "Is that your mike that's stuck?" and I replied that it wasn't. "Why?"

I told him, "It's a three-wheeler that's stuck."

You can tell very clearly the difference between the sound of a solo motorcycle that we rode and a three-wheel motorcycle; it's like daylight and dark. The solo engine has kind of a thump to it: CHUKE.. CHUKE.. CHUKE.., while the three-wheeler has more of a thrashing sound.. AAANG.. AAANG.. AAANG! You could hear this all on the tapes, but the people in Washington didn't listen. They were trying to tell us what it was.

While in Washington, they commenced to ask all kinds of questions: "Well, did you hear Curry say this, or did you hear that?"

'Yeah, I heard it!" I said.

"Well, how can you hear it if your mike's stuck?"

"My mike ain't stuck," I responded. If they'd have let me listen to the tapes before I went up there, I could have told them right quick that it wasn't my motorcycle but that it was a three-wheeler. In fact, that three-wheeler was three miles away at the Trade Mart, thus they didn't hear any shots on the tapes and their theory was not valid.

The noise they heard was the radio popping. Those old radios popped all the time. Sometimes it sounded like a gun going off. But their investigator didn't listen to any of that; he didn't listen to the motors running.

Basically I didn't think they were honest with the whole situation. They sent some guy down here to investigate something, and he didn't know what the hell he was doing. You don't start investigating by telling people how it happened; you ask them how it happened. We tried to tell him but he said, "No, it happened this way!"

So we told him, "To hell with you! We ain't telling you anything!"

Unfortunately all their accusations that it was my microphone that was stuck open and the shots were heard on it were printed in the newspapers, and it'll be that way from now on. They'll never be convinced otherwise, regardless of what I say. "Well, sure that's the first thing he's going to say; he's going to deny it." To hell with them!

Bowles, who is now the sheriff of Dallas County, and I have met several times and talked about it. On the tapes, some investigators have made a big deal out of a sound that they claim is a church bell. It wasn't anything but a loose manhole cover in the street. One day when I'd left his office and was walking across the street, just as I stepped up on the curb on the other side of the street, I heard a BONG… BONG sound. I turned around and noticed a pickup truck making a left turn onto Jackson Street. The front wheel ran over the manhole cover, then the back wheel. It was loose: BONG… BONG! So I went back to Bowles and told him what I'd heard, and he said, "That sounds logical." After a period of time, we figured out where the motorcycle with the stuck mike was and who was on it because the tapes indicate the rider whistled. We only knew one officer who whistled all the time that rode motorcycles. After doing some checking, we found that he was assigned to the Trade Mart at that time, three miles from Dealey Plaza. Also you could hear the sheriff's car radio on the tapes. There was only one sheriff's car radio, and it was also assigned to the Trade Mart, so the stuck mike couldn't have been anywhere else. So, if the investigator from Washington would have listened to us, the whole matter would have been cleared up without all the controversy.

As a result of adverse experiences like that, most of the motorcycle officers don't want to get involved any further in the subject. I don't dwell on it; I just let it go and keep going. It's similar to someone in your family dying: you grieve for a while, then eventually you get to where it gets a little further back in time. It's always still there, but you don't think about it near as much as you do the first two or three years.

Officer McLain, after 27 years, retired from the police department in 1980. The following year, after J. C. Bowles was elected sheriff, McLain then joined the sheriff's department and eventually was promoted to sergeant in the Warrant's Division. H. B. McLain retired from the sheriff's department in 1996.

U to offer a complementary and alternative medicine program


The concentration is a result of the increased popularity in the alternative field.

By Naomi Scott

Starting in fall, the University's School of Public Health will offer a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine. The concentration is a result of the increased popularity of alternative medicine and complementary therapies in the United States today, said Pam Schreiner, an epidemiology professor, who proposed the concentration.

"Americans are one of the biggest self-medicating populations in the world," she said. "Alternative and complementary medicine has just blossomed in the past decade."

Students who choose the concentration can take classes in acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, epidemiology and maternal health, among others, Schreiner said.

"It's very much focused on your interests," she said. "There's a broad array of talent over there at the Center for Spirituality and Healing."

Karen Lawson, the center's director of integrated clinical services, said those in the public-health field can benefit from other health-care philosophies.

"We really see integrated medicine as a future direction for health care in general," she said.

Public-health professionals work with large populations and look at health care and threats to health care from a community standpoint.

People who study public health will become makers of public policy, in addition to researchers and teachers, Lawson said. Therefore, they will see broader options when making decisions, she said.

Schreiner said the United States as a whole is also open to different health-care perspectives. People are becoming increasingly invested in their own health and are open to trying different remedies, she said.

Doug Korus, a University employee who also takes classes through the center as part of the Inter-College Program, said incorporating various medicinal techniques into education is a good idea.

"The medical field is broken and one-dimensional, and the mind is a powerful tool for healing," he said.

Amy Giannobile, a University graduate student, said she thinks it is good that schools are including medicinal practices that have been around for thousands of years in their curriculums.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Amateur video purportedly shows 'huge' Bigfoot


Canadian Press
Apr. 19, 2005 10:31 AM

NORWAY HOUSE, Man. - Is Bigfoot walking the bush around a remote community in northern Manitoba?

Residents have been flocking to Georgina Henry's house to watch two minutes and 49 seconds of video shot by her son, Bobby Clarke, on the banks of the Nelson River shortly after dawn Saturday morning.

"It's pictures of Bigfoot," she said. "It's black and it's big. Oh god, it's huge - seven or eight feet high," Henry said. "We can see him walking, and then turning to look at him (Clarke). advertisement

Clarke said he was on duty at his job as a car ferry operator when he saw a "big, black figure" on the opposite bank, about 250 to 300 metres away. He grabbed his camcorder, which he said he always has with him.

"It was just massive, standing tall. I'm freaked out," Clarke said Monday in an interview from the ferry at an uninhabited bush area 40 kilometres from Norway House.

He said he's been nervous ever since, especially when he takes the ferry to that side of the river.

He said the creature walked upright on two legs back into the bush, barely 200 metres away from the ferry dock.

The bush comes right up to the dock, he said.

Clarke's wife, Winnie, agreed he was shaken by the experience.

"Elders say it's a blessing, it's a spiritual sign if people see it," she said.

She said she has been hearing from people who had seen Bigfoot themselves, but lacked evidence.

"Now that he's got this video, there's a lot of trappers and fishers out there, they've seen the tracks over the years."

Several people have been talking about taking a boat over to look for tracks, but Clarke said he wasn't very anxious to join them.

Image of Virgin Mary said to be on underpass


Jennifer Lebovich
Chicago Tribune
Apr. 19, 2005 06:05 PM

CHICAGO - Obdulia Delgado turned toward the on ramp of the Kennedy Expressway when she saw something in the middle of traffic that made her stop.

She saw the image of the Virgin Mary in a large yellow and white stain on the concrete wall at the Fullerton Avenue entrance last week.

"I was so stunned I couldn't move. People were honking," said Delgado, 31. "It was a dream. I don't even know how I got home." advertisement

By Monday morning, dozens had gathered to see what they believe is the image of the Blessed Mother beneath the underpass. Groups of people filtered past the site all day, some lighting candles and leaving flowers, others praying the rosary. Most snapped pictures with digital cameras and cell phones, saying the image became clearer in pictures.

To some who saw it, the image appeared as a white outline of the Holy Mother's face wearing a shadowy cloak. To others, it looked like an ivory pawn from a game of chess.

As believers came to the spot throughout the morning, police put up temporary barricades to prevent people from driving and parking in the area.

Delgado said she had been praying to the Virgin Mary to help her pass a final in culinary school when she saw the image.

"There are many people here who believe in her. She's here for a reason," she said. "For me, it's not a watermark, it's the Virgin Mary."

It is not unusual for people to claim to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary or Jesus in unusual places.

In November 2004, a piece of popcorn shaped like the Virgin Mary was auctioned on eBay. A Canadian woman also said she saw the Blessed Mother and baby Jesus on a Lay's Smokey Bacon Chip. Thousands of Greek Orthodox flocked to Athens in 2001 to see a "bleeding" Virgin Mary statue.

For now in Chicago, the image will be allowed to stay on the wall, surrounded by less identifiable water stains and paint marks.

"We're treating this just like we treat any type of roadside memorial," Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said. "We have no plans to clean this site."

Apparitions of Mary hold different meanings for believers, but people may draw connections to current events, like the death of Pope John Paul II, said Cristina Traina, an associate professor of religion at Northwestern University.

"Most often, the people who see the image interpret it as a sign of affirmation of an event of behavior or a condemnation of an event or behavior," she said. "What is miraculous is that a natural event like a stain from leaking water and a supernatural event like seeing Mary converge."

Michael Grzesik, who leads people on religious pilgrimages, said that when he first looked at it, he saw nothing unusual.

"I was looking at it and thought it might be an oil spill. But as I got closer it resembles Our Lady," he said. "It really struck me ... I think Our Lady is always with us, and this is another sign she is with us."

Grzesik compared the image under the expressway to an apparition of the Virgin Mary that appeared more than a century ago in a grotto in Lourdes, France.

"This is like Our Lady appearing in Chicago in a grotto under the Kennedy," he said.

But he was also light-hearted about the image: "There's a little graffiti around that says 'Go Cubs,' so it looks like Our Lady is rooting for the Cubs."

The Archdiocese of Chicago has not received any requests to authenticate the image, spokesman Jim Dwyer said.

"These things don't happen every day," Dwyer said. "Sometimes people ask us to look into it. Most of the time they don't. (The meaning) depends on the individual who sees it. To them, it's real. To them, it reaffirms their faith."

Victor Robles, 36, who stopped to get a closer look, remained skeptical.

"I see just a concrete wall and an image that could happen anywhere," he said. "It makes me feel good that there are people with faith ... If that image helps more people feel closer to God than maybe that is a good sign."

Irene Munoz, 30, walked past the crowd before deciding to see what everyone was looking at.

"It's very emotional," she said. "It's very real. I never believed anyone who saw these things. But I believe now."

As word of the image spread, a teacher from Holy Trinity High School sent students to look.

"If you look, you see her face popping out and the veil and her hands," said 17-year-old Luis Flores. "That's the image that's portrayed in the Bible. Many miracles have happened, but this is one that just appeared."

Some of those who gathered felt the appearance of the image had special significance as the papal conclave meets in Rome.

"It's amazing it's the same day they're picking a pope," said Juan Soria, who rushed to the site with his family. He saw the image as "a message from above. It's a cry for peace and hope to get rid of tyranny in the world."

D.C. starts hearing debate of evolution


By Jon Ward

Creationists and Darwinians converged on the District yesterday to continue a debate that is shaping how science is taught in public schools.

Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, says scientists are abandoning the Charles Darwin theory of evolution to back scientific evidence that shows a "complexity" in human cells that is best explained by a designer, or God.

"There are almost 400 scientists who have signed a statement of dissent from Darwinism," said Mr. Meyer, who discussed the intelligent design theory before about 100 people at the Heritage Foundation. "In public schools, we want students to know about that."

He also will debate the theory today at the National Press Club.

Taner Edis, an assistant physics professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., calls the theory a "close cousin" of creationism and said today's debate is "scientifically meaningless."

"That's just going to be a performance," said Mr. Edis, who last year co-wrote the book "Why Intelligent Design Fails."

He also said the growing interest in the theory is "hardly unexpected."

"Intelligent design is a very well-connected movement," Mr. Edis said. "Lately they seem to have the feeling that — politically speaking — their time has come. I don't think anybody is surprised that they are making a move for it."

Mr. Meyer disagrees, saying the theory is an intellectual movement that started 20 years ago, but has now been "framed politically in the context of the 2004 presidential election."

"The people in the schools and universities are getting more interest in the work we're doing, which makes it a more political issue, then the media pays attention," he said.

He disputed the view the intelligent design theory is purely political or religious.

"This isn't a science-versus-religion issue," Mr. Meyer said. "This is a science-versus-science issue. We want the public and students to know that this is an argument between two competing interpretations of the scientific evidence. We don't drool and slobber and have bad white shoes. There is a stereotype of all that. And part of the reason we're here is to dispel all that."

The theory has been debated by school boards across the country, including the one in Cobb County, Ga., that ordered stickers placed inside science text books that stated: "Evolution is a theory, not a fact."

In January, a federal judge ordered the stickers removed. But in Kansas, the state board of education is being urged to implement similar stickers.

In Dover, Pa., the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the school board for including in the biology curriculum a statement that evolution is a theory.

In Charles County, Md., the school board has discussed eliminating science textbooks biased toward Darwinistic evolution.

Mr. Meyer said the Center for Science and Culture is not pressing for the theory to be taught in the public schools.

"We want Darwinism to be taught, and we want the criticisms of it to also be taught," he said.

Subcommittee finalizes plans for evolution hearings


Posted on Wed, Apr. 20, 2005


Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - A State Board of Education subcommittee agreed Tuesday night to the procedure for six days of hearings concerning proposed revisions to the state science standards, despite objections from an attorney who said the hearings would interject theology into science classrooms.

A three-member board subcommittee will hold hearings May 5-7 and May 12-14 that have been billed as an examination of evidence for and against evolution. But all three members are part of the board's conservative majority and receptive to intelligent design advocates' efforts.

Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing a majority of the 26-member panel who wrote the science standards, said at Tuesday's meeting that the hearings would waste state money that should be spent on educating children.

"I can't imagine anybody taking a penny for this process," said Irigonegaray, who is representing his clients for free.

The group agreed Tuesday that on the first three days of the hearings, supporters of intelligent design and opponents of evolution will make presentations on their point of view. Time will be reserved for questions from opposition, attorneys and board members. The last three days will be reserved evolution supporters, if any attend the hearings.

On Tuesday, Irigonegaray took exception to comments made by board member Connie Morris of St. Francis, who suggested he provide a list of his potential witnesses in advance of the hearings.

"Then we could have a definite agenda that we could be working on and praying over," Morris said.

Irigonegaray responded, "Religion has nothing to do with this."

Irigonegaray said he planned to defend the majority report on the science standards, but declined to say who he would have testify, if anyone.

"There is a boycott. It is not wise to debate this issue," he said.

The board expects to consider in June changing the state's science testing standards, which currently describe evolution as a key concept for students to learn before graduating from high school. Advocates of intelligent design want students exposed to more criticism of evolution.

"In my mind, this is one of the most important issues facing education in the entire country," said John Calvert, a leading Kansas advocate for intelligent design who will be presenting and questioning witnesses during the hearings.

Evolution says species change in response to environmental and genetic factors over many generations. Intelligent design holds there is evidence of an intelligent design behind the origin of the universe, the formation of the Earth and biological change.

Critics see intelligent design as a form of creationism. Many of those critics, including the Kansas Citizens for Science, have called for a boycott of the hearings. Harry McDonald, leader of the group, said rebuttal comments would be made outside of the hearings at the end of each day of the testimony from intelligent design witnesses.

The Kansas board isn't considering any proposals to add intelligent design or creationism to state standards, but some scientists worry that exposing students to criticism of evolution is a first step.

In 1999, the debate earned Kansas international ridicule when the board voted to lessen the emphasis on teaching evolution in science classrooms. That decision was reversed following the 2000 election when a moderate majority won control of the 10-member board.

On the Net:

State Board of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us

Evolution education update: Scott to appear on Hardball, a third antievolution bill in AL, and Scott in California Wild

A special Wednesday evolution education update, prompted by the news that NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott is scheduled to appear on Hardball tomorrow. Also: a third antievolution bill appears in the Alabama legislature, and the latest issue of California Wild features a piece by Scott.


On April 21, 2005, NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott is scheduled to appear on MSNBC's Hardball show, hosted by Chris Matthews, to discuss the debate over evolution education, especially in Kansas. Also scheduled to appear is the Reverend Terry Fox, a Southern Baptist minister in Wichita, Kansas. Fox's views were discussed in a recent article in the Washington Post: "To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance."

To find an MSNBC station in your area, visit: http://www.msnbc.com/modules/tvnews/cablelookup/content.asp

To read the Washington Post article, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32444-2005Mar13.html


A third antievolution bill was introduced in the Alabama State Legislature late in the 2005 legislative session. On April 5, 2005, Representative Scott Beason (R-St. Clair, Shelby) introduced House Bill 716. The bill, dubbed the "Academic Freedom Act," is virtually identical to a previous pair of antievolution bills (HB 352 and SB 240) introduced in February 2005. HB 716 is the eleventh antievolution bill to be promoted in a state legislature in 2005. Like many recent antievolution bills, it uses the so-called Santorum language stripped from the No Child Left Behind Act, singles out evolution as "controversial," and calls for protecting the right of teachers to present "scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories." After its introduction, HB 716 was referred to the Education Committee, and a public hearing on the bill was scheduled for April 20.

For the text of HB 716 as introduced, visit: http://alisdb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2005rs/bills/hb716.htm

For NCSE's previous reports on events in Alabama, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=AL


The spring 2005 issue of California Wild features "In my backyard: Creationists in California," by NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott. Beginning by alluding to the evolution warning labels in Cobb County, Georgia, she comments, "Many Californians chalked up this example of the persistent creationism/evolution controversy to the fact that it happened in, well, Georgia. They were no doubt thinking, I'm glad this problem is not in my backyard." But, as she proceeds to explain, creationism is alive and well in the Golden State, home to the Institute for Creation Research as well as any number of influential creationists, from young-earth proponents like Henry M. Morris to intelligent-design advocates like Phillip Johnson. And controversies over evolution education at the local level are not uncommon: Scott devotes a portion of her article to reviewing the situation in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville in detail. Concluding, she writes, "Although California is on the cutting edge of scientific research, proponents of teaching creationism in the public schools are nonetheless banging on the doors. ... California is not immune to creationism and antievolutionism -- it is in our backyard." California Wild is published by the California Academy of Sciences, of which Scott is a Fellow.

To read "In my backyard: Creationists in California," visit: http://www.calacademy.org/calwild/2005spring/stories/creationism.html

For NCSE's previous reports on events in California, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=CA

Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.


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

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

Physics News Update 728

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 728 April 20, 2005 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein
AN OCEAN OF QUARKS. Nuclear physicists have now demonstrated that the material essence of the universe at a time mere microseconds after the big bang consists of a ubiquitous quark-gluon liquid. This huge insight comes from an experiment carried out over the past five years at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the giant crusher of nuclei located at Brookhaven National Lab, where scientists have created a toy version of the cosmos amid high-energy collisions. RHIC is of course not a telescope pointed at the sky but an underground accelerator on Long Island; it is, nevertheless, in effect, a precision cosmology instrument for viewing a very early portion of the universe, a wild era long before the time of the first atoms (which formed about 400,000 years after the big bang), before the first compound nuclei such as helium (about a minute after the big bang), before even the time when protons are thought to have formed into stable entities (ten microseconds).

In our later, cooler epoch quarks conventionally occur in groups of two or three. These groupings, called mesons and baryons, respectively, are held together by particles called gluons---which act as agents for the strong nuclear force. Baryons (such as protons and neutrons), collectively called hadrons, are the normal building blocks of any nucleus. Could hadrons be melted or smashed into their component quarks through violent means? Could a nucleus be made to rupture and spill its innards into a common swarm of unconfined quarks and gluons? This is what RHIC set out to show.

Let's look at what happened. In the RHIC accelerator itself two beams of gold ions, atoms stripped of all their electrons, are clashed at several interaction zones around the ring-shaped facility. Every nucleus is a bundle of 197 protons and neutrons, each of which shoots along with an energy of up to 100 GeV. Therefore, when the two gold projectiles meet in a head-on "central collision" event, the total collision energy is 40 TeV (40 trillion electron volts). Of this, typically 25 TeV serves as a stock of surplus energy---call it a fireball---out of which new particles can be created. Indeed in many gold-gold smashups as many as 10,000 new particles are born of that fireball. Hubble-quality pictures of this blast of particles (http://www.bnl.gov/RHIC/full_en_images.htm), shows the aftermath of the fireball, but not the fireball itself.

The outward streaming particles provide all the forensic evidence for determining the properties of the fireball. To harvest this debris, the RHIC detectors must be agile and very fast. The recreation of the frenzied quark era is ephemeral, lasting only a few times 10^-24 seconds. The size of the fireball is about 5 femtometers, its density about 100 times that of an ordinary nucleus, and its temperature about 2 trillion degrees Kelvin or (in energy units) 175 MeV. RHIC was built to create that fireball. But was it the much-anticipated quark-gluon plasma? The data unexpectedly showed that the fireball looked nothing like a gas. For one thing, potent jets of mesons and protons expected to be squirting out of the fireball, were being suppressed.

Now, for the first time since starting nuclear collisions at RHIC in the year 2000 and with plenty of data in hand, all four detector groups operating at the lab have converged on a consensus opinion. They believe that the fireball is a liquid of strongly interacting quarks and gluons rather than a gas of weakly interacting quarks and gluons. The RHIC findings were reported at this week's April meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) in Tampa, Florida in a talk delivered by Gary Westfall (Michigan State) and at a press conference attended by several RHIC scientists.

Brookhaven physicist Samuel Aronson said that having established the quark-gluon-liquid nature of the pre-protonic universe, RHIC expected to plumb the liquid's properties, such as its heat capacity and its reaction to shock waves. The liquid is dense but seems to flow with very little viscosity. It flows so freely that it approximates an ideal, or perfect, fluid, the kind governed by the standard laws of hydrodynamics. At least in its flow properties the quark liquid is therefore a classical liquid and should not be confused with a superfluid, whose flow properties (including zero viscosity) are dictated by quantum mechanics.

One of the reasons for RHIC's previous hesitancy in delivering a definitive pronouncement was concern over the issue of whether the observed nuclear liquid was composed of truly deconfined quarks and gluons or of quarks confined within hadrons, or maybe even a mixture of quarks and hadrons. According to William Zajc (Columbia Univ. and spokesperson for the PHENIX detector group at RHIC), the patterns of particles flying out of the fireball, including preliminary data on heavier, charm-quark-containing particles such as D mesons, support the quark liquid picture.

To summarize, the main stories here are (1) that based on the evidence of the RHIC data, the universe in the microsecond era would seem to consist of a novel liquid of quarks and gluons; (2) that RHIC has reproduced small fragments of this early phase of the universe for detailed study; and (3) that these results are vouched for by all four RHIC groups. If there had been delays in making an announcement of the results or if the exact nomenclature for the novel nuclear matter had been left unsettled, the RHIC physicists at the press conference seemed more interested in pursuing their new kind of experimental science---a sort of fluid-dynamical cosmology.

(All four groups are also concurrently publishing "white paper" summaries of their work in the journal Nuclear Physics A. Preprints are available as follows: BRAHMS,
http://arxiv.org/abs/nucl-ex/0410020 ; PHENIX,
http://arxiv.org/abs/nucl-ex/0410003 ; PHOBOS,
http://arxiv.org/abs/nucl-ex/0410022 ; and STAR,

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Evolution Debate



Teaching evolution will be back in the spotlight again this evening.

A three-member State Board of Education subcommittee is scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m. in Topeka to finish its preparations for public hearings in May. Those six days of hearings are supposed to examine scientific evidence for and against evolution.

The entire board plans to consider changes to the state's science standards, which describe evolution as a key concept for students to learn.

Critics of the standards say students don't hear enough criticism of evolution. But defenders say the standards are under attack by people who want to sneak creationism into the classroom.

A coalition of groups supporting the current standards has set a 6 p.m. news conference.

Creationism vs. Evolution vs. Contradictionism: The Secret Untold Story


By James Boyne (a humorous satire)


Creationism: About 6,000 years ago God created the universe. He did Earth in 7 days---first he did the basic frame; then the water; then the dirt; then the air; then the trees and plants (the landscaping); then the animals, fishies and birdies; and then the guy and the girl. Adam and Eve, He named them. God rested on the 7th day. He was pooped out----totally exhausted.

Note: At first the Earth was flat but things kept falling off the edge. In about the 1400's or so God reshaped Earth and made it into a round ball. Galileo was the first man to discover that the Earth had been changed from flat to round.

By making the Earth round it meant that mankind could no longer get into outer space by jumping off the edge of the Earth; we would have to develop a Space Shuttle which proved to be much less efficient and much more costly than just jumping off the edge of Earth. The round Earth also meant that mankind could now travel around in circles and never really get anywhere. Christopher Columbus was the first man to try out the new circle shaped Earth but Columbus bumped into a place called North America because God stuck a new Hemisphere called the "New World" right in the middle of the ocean between Europe and India.

Ferdinand Magellan was the fist person to circumnavigate the globe. When Magellan finished his journey he said, "Holy Shit, it's a circle" He quickly wrote down something called "Pie-R-Squared" and the number 3.14. He discovered Geometry, and eventually the letter "F" for "Failing Grade" was developed for all those who studied Geometry. It was all part of God's master plan.

God gave Adam a pee pee to make him a man. Adam got lonely, for obvious reasons; and started to fall into a deep depression. Adam wanted to watch too much TV, but there was no TV to be found since it hadn't been invented yet. Zoloft, Paxil and Prozax were not available back then either, not even from Canada. Adam couldn't even engage in gay sex since there were no other men around. As a matter of fact, sex was not even an option since Adam was the only living person on earth.

God told Adam to go to his doctor and ask him if possibly Zoloft or Viagra "was right for him". Adam explained to God that their was no doctors on Earth yet since he, Adam, was the only living person. God thundered back, "Oh yeah, I forgot".

God decided that there should be doctors so He created the "Hippocratic Oath" but then He remembered that there was no one named Hippocrates so He waited until the year 300 BC and He created Hippocrates, the first doctor. Dr. Hippocrates took his own oath and opened up an office. He did research and developed the co-pay, the deductible, the limitation and exclusion, and the dreaded appeal process for denied claims. His practice thrived. Everyone wanted to take the Hippocratic Oath that basically said, "Do No Harm".

God liked the "Do No Harm" slogan so He developed Hell where He could have people sent to be eternally tortured with red-hot coals, white hot lava, and hot pokers and pitchforks. He created the Devil (who was 1000 times worse than Adolph Hitler) to carry out His work. The Devil was red and had a long tail and pointed hears. He ran a tight ship. No one escaped.

God sent nearly everyone to Hell, mostly on trumped up charges or false allegations made by members of the right wing, conservative, Republican Christian coalition. God also sent them to Hell since He really didn't like snitches or tattletales either. Most of the people allowed in Heaven were actually atheists or agnostics who had no axe to grind and went about their daily business as non-believers. Atheists had a lot more time on their hands since they didn't have to pray.

In the year Zero, between 1 B.C and 1 A.D. Jesus was born in on a pile of hay, in a barn to a Virgin named Mary and an older man named Saint Joseph whose motto was "I had nothing to do with it".

When Jesus was killed he created the Pope so He would have someone that could sit at a window and wave to the crowds in a place called the Vatican. Right before Jesus was killed He said to a guy named Peter, "Peter, you are a Rock, and upon this Rock I build my Church". This was wise thinking on the part of Jesus because if He had said, "Peter, you are a Vegetable, and upon this Vegetable I build my Church" or "Peter, you are a Animal and upon this Animal I build My Church", it wouldn't have sounded the same or had the same nice ring to it. Jesus was good at advertising and public relations----even though his message fell on deaf ears with Pontius Pilate and the Jews who cried for his crucifixion.

Henry Ford was eventually responsible for the development of the Pope-mobile; a bullet proof, glass enclosed golf cart that was mass-produced in a quantity of one. Henry Ford created this assembly line, mass production type of manufacturing so that America (in the future) could transfer all its manufacturing base to a place called China where there were one billion descendants of Adam, but with slanted eyes.

Anything could get you into Hell----impure thoughts where you might be thinking about the genitalia of the opposite sex or something as simple as not eating fish sticks on Friday and gobbling down a hamburger by mistake.

Adam was allowed to touch and hold his pee pee if he had to urinate but for no other reason, if you know what I mean.

One of God's first rules was "Adam, you should not have impure thoughts". Adam actually didn't have any thoughts whatsoever since he didn't know who he was, where he was, what he was there for, what he was suppose to do or not do, and didn't even know that he was on a place called Earth or that he was the first. God just plunked him down in the Garden of Eden with no money, no weapons, no drivers license, no passport, no clothes, and no instructions. Adam had no mother and no father; no brothers and no sisters; no grandparents; no nothing. He sure as hell didn't have time for "impure thoughts". But things were about to change.

God took a rib from Adam. He ripped it right out of Adams chest; no anesthesia or nothing. God put the rib in some water with some Miracle Grow or something and he created Eve. This means that God Himself cloned Eve from Adam's rib. God also liked to do "stem cell research" in His spare time. And to Eve, He gave a wee wee to make her a woman. He made them to be about 30 years old according to the most recently available photographs of them of which there are numerous reprints in most Christian schools.

According to the photos, Adam and Eve were white Caucasians. Therefore, no one really knows how all the blacks, Hispanics, olive skinned Mediterranean types, American Indians, Eskimos, and other non-whites got that way. It might have been too much sunshine with no sunscreen available, or maybe it was their diet.

In 6000 years Hispanics, Chinese, Latinos (who were named after the Latin language called Latin), American Indians (who are not from India) and especially Blacks (who are named after the Crayola crayon called Black) have made "tremendous strides" according to white, Caucasian TV commentators. Look at Michael Jackson. He has turned White before our very eyes. (This is why Michael Jackson wanted an all-white jury for his child molestation trial.

And Oprah Winfrey's facial features have evolved through the process of 20 years of evolution to resemble those of a Caucasian. This in itself proves the existence of the theory of evolution.

The pee pee, in combination with the wee wee worked out good (or well, depending on the proper use of English). Adam could now be a man; and Eve was given the right to be a woman, if she behaved and didn't get out of hand, or start to have hot flashes and freak out once a month.

God created the menstrual cycle for Eve. He gave her cramps. He gave her headaches. Hot flashes. It was a mess. And sometimes Eve could be a real bitch. Adam could never understand it.

The menstrual cycle was one of God's master achievements. The only way Eve could get rid of her damn menstrual cycle was to let Adam and his pee pee come in direct contact with her wee wee which resulted in her menstrual cycle shutting down for 9 months. However, the alternative of giving birth was hardly a welcome trade off.

The menstrual cycle was one of God's crowning glories of mis-design----a true engineering disaster. God originally designed a 28 day, monthly menstrual cycle. However, He designed months with 30 days in them and some months even had 31. God developed a little poetic jingle so women could remember when their period was coming. It went like this----"30 days hath September, April, June and November; all the rest hath 31, except for February to which we 28 days assign, until leap year gives it 29". This is how women keep track.

This screwed everything up since after a few years of 28 day menstrual cycles plus with Christmas, Easter, Washington's Birthday, Lincoln's Birthday, Lent, the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, National Cheese Day, and God's poetic jingle----not a woman alive could tell when her bad time of month was going to start. Switching back and forth from Daylight Savings Time to Eastern Standard Time didn't help either. And of course, having sex and getting pregnant would put the entire system into "shutdown mode" which would then have to be re-started nine months later. It's like trying to shut down and re-start a nuclear power plant.

A woman getting pre-menstrual cramps, hot flashes and headaches is like a nuclear meltdown. You don't want to be anywhere near it. This is why God created the Blessed Virgin Mary---so she wouldn't have to be tortured with this experience. The Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus without even having had sex. It was nice, clean, simple, tidy and-----virginal. This is what the State of Virginia is named after as well as 100% Virgin Olive Oil. Also, when you hear about a "virgin forest" it is a forest that hasn't had sex yet. Virgin wool comes from sheep that don't have sex.

My mother's and father's name are Virginia and Virgil. They've never had sex. And my father always told me, "Son, when you get married look for a Virgin". I am still looking, and can't find one. God created Virgins which proves Creationism. However, Virgins don't last long, which proves Evolution. It's a contradiction, which proves Contradictionism.

God's design of the menstrual cycle is responsible for more lost human productivity, lost wages, lost work, and spontaneous outbursts of rage and violence than any other of God's mistakes. It does accomplish one very important thing----it keeps men "in check". It is the one thing that makes a man "back off"-----a woman who can flip out for no reason. God was going to give Man a menstrual cycle also but when He drew up the plans, at the last minute, being that this was the time of Creationism, he decided to give Adam some testicles instead. God can do anything He wants. He's God. So God just said, "Let there be a menstrual cycle" and it just happened. And then He said, "Let there be testicles" and it just happened. This is Creationism at its most basic. All Christians should be taught this.

Note: The human spine was God's second biggest design failure. Some say that the real reason that God has not come back to Earth is because He would have a multi-trillion dollar, class action lawsuit slapped against Him for the almost criminally incompetent design of the human spine. Anyone who has taken Electricity 101 knows that you don't snake a million little electrical wires (with no color codes) through a liquid medium where they come in contact with each other and with sharp objects like bones. I mean, what was God thinking ! The human body has millions of Building Code Violations inherent in it. None have been prosecuted----because He is God. Oh well, let's get back to Adam and Eve.

Anyway, they lived near a big apple tree and a snake came by that was really the Devil but he spoke good English. Most snakes spoke good English back 6000 years ago. The snake spoke to Eve and said, "Eat the apple if you want to be happy". The Devil was some kind of local fresh fruit salesman so Eve did not suspect that this was a trick to see if she could be lured into the mortal sin of eating an apple. She had always been told to eat lots of fruits and vegetables all her life (ever since she was Created at the age of 30), and to eat a balanced diet so she just did not know the snake was the Devil in disguise.. She thought it was just some ordinary snake giving her a hard time about not eating apples.

Eve tried to resist but how can you NOT eat an apple when a snake speaks real good English and tells you not to eat the apple. It's like telling a woman to NOT eat the chocolates on St. Valentines Day. Adam just stood around looking suspicious. So Eve went and took a bite out of the nice red apple.

At that point God got really mad because this was all just a "set up" to see if Eve, the one with the wee wee, could resist the commands of the Devil who was disguised as an English speaking snake. So God yelled out from up in Heaven, "Eve, you have sinned, you ate the freakin' apple".

Adam said, "Holy Shit, Eve, look what you've done now. Christ, our goose is cooked". God made Adam an accomplice of Eve's and He cast them out of the Garden of Eden which was a pretty nice garden back in those days (which is where the term "garden apartments comes from).

From there it was all down hill for the two of them. All of a sudden they had to start wearing clothes and stuff. Eve had two sons named Cain and Able (they didn't have last names because they were the first people on Earth and God didn't give them a birth certificate or anything; not even a Social Security number).

Eve never had any baby girls with wee wee's; just the two boys with the pee pee things. Figure that one out?

Cain got in a big fight with Able one day and Cain killed Able which enabled Jeffrey Archer, a British novelist, to write a best selling book and call it Cain and Able. I read the book. It was one of my favorite and it had nothing to do with Adam and Eve; just a story of two brothers.

Oh yeah, by this time Adam had been laid off from his job as "first human being on Earth, CEO"; God revoked his pension and cancelled his health care insurance (and they didn't have COBRA back in those days). He eventually got injured real bad when Eve clobbered him in a domestic dispute involving the two boys (Eve had a third boy named Seth) who were older now and still hadn't moved out of the house but were allegedly on drugs, using up what little money Adam had saved when he was employed as "first human being on Earth, CEO".

Eventually, it is believed Adam and Eve got divorced. No one really knows how we evolved since that time since Evolution doesn't exist, only Creationism, and God wasn't in the business of creating one person after another, after another, after another, after another. It's tiring. So God gave us two choices: we could use the wee wee and the pee pee to reproduce if we didn't mind dealing with the whole menstrual cycle mess; or we could clone each other and keep it nice and clean and simple.

As humans we failed to discover cloning for thousands of years and so stuck with the old fashion routine of actual physical contact between pee pee and wee wee. This made things difficult for women and men to get along because men like to go off to war and liberate other civilizations by annihilating them and exterminating whole groups of people so they could be free. Women on the other hand like to stay home and pluck at their eyebrows, put make up on with names such as "Tempt Me" and "Tease Me" and try on lots of shoes to see if they could master the art of walking with a limp in excruciating foot pain. Times were tough 6000 years ago.

About 6,000 years later Jesus Christ was born. Jesus didn't have a father because his mother was a Virgin. The neighborhood decided to call her the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one could hardly believe it, so they started to make statues of Mary with little water plates on them so birds could come down and get a drink of water on the Mary statutes. Most of the Blessed Virgin Mary statutes are in the front yards of Italians living mainly on Long Island, New York today. No one knows why?

Since Jesus didn't have a father he was technically a "bastard". This sounds bad. So one of the Three Kings that had been stalking Mary and Joseph for nine months who followed a star in the sky and found them at the instant the birth was taking place said, "this is a bastard, Holy Jesus Christ Almighty". So the name stuck. He was called either Holy Jesus or Jesus Christ or Christ Almighty. To this day, 6000 years later, most people when something astonishingly wrong happens they say, "Holy Jesus, or Jesus Christ, or Christ Almighty". Or sometimes they will revert to the more primitive phrase and just say, "bastard" !

Oh yeah, Mary married a much older guy named Saint Joseph. He became a saint because he was old and Mary was pretty good looking and young. If you were a 60 year old guy and could hook up with a 17 year old girl, what would you do? And Saint Joseph never had sex with Mary, even though she got pregnant (or so the story goes). Saint Joseph was quiet. He never said much. No one knows where he worked. But one night he and Mary took off on a donkey to make a thousand mile trip through the desert. It was considered normal behavior back in those days. There was no "slow speed car chase" to head off Saint Joseph before he reached the Sinai/Egypt border.

Everyone just said, "Oh, there goes the older man with the pregnant teenage girl; off on a nice 1000 mile vacation on a donkey. Isn't that nice" The Blessed Virgin Mary tried to cover it all up because she knew she would be stoned to death if her folks ever found out she was pregnant. Rumors had it that Joe didn't even really do it. It was some teenager next door who was the real father of Jesus, but the teenage boy took off like a "bat out of Hell" when Mary told him she had missed her period because he knew that his family would probably bludgeon him to death, which was quite acceptable as a form of mild punishment about 2000 years ago in the good old days.

Basically, Jesus, Mary and Joseph stayed out of sight for about 32 years until the day when Jesus started to appear again doing miracles like feeding 10,000 people at the Sermon on the Mount with only one fish and one loaf of bread. He also raised a boy name Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was his only success. He tried raising about 30,000 dead boys from the dead but Lazarus was the only one that worked out well so it was called a miracle.

Jesus's right hand man was a guy name Peter the Rock. After Jesus was crucified Peter got on a horse (or walked) to Rome and announced to the Roman Empire that then controlled all of civilization that he, Peter, was going to take over Rome and that he wanted about 100 acres of prime land in order to build a Vatican filled with ornate buildings that no one knows who built but were filled with gold. The Roman Empire said, "Sure, OK, if its OK with God and Jesus its OK with us." Peter declared himself the first Pope. He called himself, Pope #1. He sent out a lot of direct mail and the money just started rolling in.

Most of the Popes since then have spent a lot of time and money killing most of the inhabitants of the earth that were not Christians. Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors and other European Colonists had to kill about 12 million American Natives in order to bring the word of Christ to them. It was exhausting but it paid off because the Western World became Christian.

Most of the Native American Indians that survived were put on large parcels of land called Indian Reservations. Yes, this was land reserved for Indians. This was done so they couldn't mingle with the white Christians. The Indians prospered by growing and harvesting tumbleweeds and prickerbushes and enjoying living in their teepees in the middle of nowhere. Living with sand storms in the middle of the dust bowl agreed with them. They were Indians.

Hundreds of millions of humans were killed trying to get them to believe that Jesus Christ was God. After a few centuries most of the remaining inhabitants of civilization gave in and said, "OK. He's God". So the plan worked. The Catholic Church and Christians learned that killing was a good and efficient method of proving that Jesus was God.

Much work still has to be done. Creationism has to be proven to the ignorant masses. The Ten Commandments have to be accepted by all remaining living human beings. Christian prayers in schools must be mandatory in order to properly teach hatred, intolerance, non acceptance, narrow mindedness, and morality and family values. The sanctity of life can only be assured if all those who disagree are eliminated and denied the sanctity of life.

A lot of Christians became disillusioned and broke off from the Church. They were called Protestants and they are destined to go to Hell because they don't believe in the one true Church and the authority of the Pope. The Pope is the only person in the world who can not make a mistake. He is infallible. If you refuse to believe that, you go to Hell. Sorry, no exceptions. You can't just say that the Pope is just a kind old man. That's not good enough. When the Pope speaks, it is God speaking. God created the Pope.

The Pope just died. He was a great man. He accomplished many things for mankind in the last 25 years. He became the best waver the world has ever known. No one could wave to a crowd better than the Pope. Millions came from all over the world to see the Pope wave. The Pope also mastered being a passenger in his Popemobile. Often he would combine he two; riding in the Popemobile and waving. It gave people great hope. The Pope waved goodbye to 5 million people in Africa last year because he forbade them to use condoms when having sex and they died of AIDS. The Pope gave them hope as they died and as he waved goodbye to them. They had not sinned and they would be guaranteed eternal bliss in Heaven. Getting AIDS in Africa is God's way of saying "Thank You" for not using a condom. Bless You.

Without birth control the population of the planet Earth is suppose to reach 9 billion from its present 5 billion, by the year 2020. This is good. The more people the merrier. Its not good to be alone. You might be tempted to have impure thoughts. And with 9 billion people we can really have some dandy wars. There are no plans on ending the menstrual cycle. Some things will stay the same.

People like Rev. (money grubber, dangerous educator) Jerry Fallwel, Rev (prostitute solicitor) Jimmy Swaggart, Rev. (ex-con, scam artist) Jim Bakker, Rev. (phoney faith healer) Benny Hinn, Rev. (presidential advisor to more than four dishonest American Presidents) Billy Graham, Rev. (ex-alcoholic) Billy Graham, Jr., Rev. (murderer of 900 gullible people) Jim Jones, and Rev. (God Almighty, to think he was running for Preseident) TV Evangelist phoney, Pat Robertson-----will, through no fault of their own all be going to Hell. God is not fooled by them.

The Pope makes Saints. To become a Saint you have to submit an application but it takes about a hundred years to get approved and you have to prove you performed a miracle, not just a card trick, but a real miracle. If you become a Saint people will pray to you and ask you for favors, just like lobbyists do to President Bush and to Congressmen and Senators. It's the same type of system except that Saints usually don't grant you your request. If you pay a Senator enough money he will grant you your request.

The present (now departed) Pope was Pope John II. His main function was to wave at crowds from a window. Every 20 years he would write a pamphlet called an Encyclical that states that "nothing in the world should change". The people usually hail it as a masterpiece of progressive religious legislation. When famous people come to Rome they get to meet with the Pope and get their picture taken with him. Some of them kiss his ring. He blesses them. And off they go. The rest of the millions upon millions of people that travel from all over the world to see God's main spokesperson get a wave. Sometimes he ventures out in his Popemobile That is a special mini-van with bullet proof windows so no one can kill him.

If you don't do what God and the Pope says than you get to go to Hell. All Protestants automatically go to Hell according to the Pope and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Jews killed Jesus even though Jesus Himself was a Jew, so Jews are goners. Muslims are some kind of aberration. In eleven years of Catholic education I never even knew what a Muslim was. They were Arabs, in robes, that rode on camels in the desert for no apparent reason. All citizens of Africa will go to Hell because they are Pagans.

Hell is a busy place. God may be loving, but He has a very quick temper. One curse word, one impure, lustful thought, one unrepressed sexual urge in an unmarried state, one lingering doubt about Jesus------all these things can land you in Hell and probably will.

I certainly don't want to alarm you but Hell is probably your destiny. It's hot there. Picture the worst hot flash you have ever had and multiply it by 1000. Everyone you hate is there. Picture a party where all the people that you detest, despise and hate the most are all crammed into one big auditorium, with no ventilation, and everyone is yelling and screaming and sweating----and you are right in the middle. There are no chairs. No doors or windows. No food, no water and no cell phones. And all the toilets are backed up. And you are stuck there for life. That's Hell.

All the praying and all the church-going and all the last minute remorse is not going to save you. Changing your life is not going to save you. Begging for forgiveness is not going to save you. God is all wrathful. God is all just. And God is out to get you. You can run, but you can't hide. HE knows you did it. And don't try to tell him you didn't. He keeps detailed records on your life. You can't BS Him. He has the evidence. You can't get away.

The only people in Heaven are the Saints, so good luck. Most of the Popes are in Heaven too and that is where they continue to wave to all the people in Hell. Its rewarding. The Catholic Church is the richest single entity on the face of the earth. It is richer than the U.S Federal Government. No one knows who actually collects all the money, how it gets to Rome, or what the money is spent on. Much of it has been spent on legal defenses for priests from Boston for preying upon (not praying upon) young boys. Once the Pope apologized for 5000 priests that molested young innocent boys. That was a nice gesture because 5000 pedophiles is a lot of pedophiles.

Of course, the whole story about Creationism and Evolution got out of hand, which is where we are today. There are more than 12 different versions of the Bible all claiming to be the one true version. There are more than 25 versions of the 10 Commandments all claiming to be the one and only true version of the 10 Commandments. This is good because it gives one a lot of choices. Of course, the wrong choice will get you straight into Hell.

Can you believe all this happened in 6000 years. The Great Pyramids were built only 5000 years ago. It's all so incredible. It's all proof that there is a God. HE's probably monitoring your emails right now.

And that's where the story ends of how God created the world. It's called Creationism.

Most people who believe in Creationism suffer from cretinism and are called Cretins. It is a form of Christianity. It is in the Webster's New World Dictionary.

Here's another one: Once upon a time there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She lived in the woods in a cabin with her Grandmother. In a nearby cabin lived some bears that ate porridge everyday. A papa bear, momma bear, and 3 baby bears. No wait. It was a big bad wolf that lived nearby; and the wolf was hiding behind a tree dressed as Goldilocks grandmother. That's it. And the big, bad wolf actually tied the little, old grandmother up, taped her mouth shut and shoved her in the closet. Then he took the grandmothers dress, put her stockings on, and an old wig he found on the dresser. Then the wolf hopped in bed and hid under the covers. Goldilocks came in and the big, bad wolf said, "Hi, Goldilocks, I'm your grandmother"; to which Goldilocks replied, "Yeah, and I'm the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now, get the f---- out of the bed and get the hell out of my house." The wolf was a cross dresser; and a damned good one because Goldilocks almost thought the wolf was really her grandmother at first and......................…………………………….they lived happily ever after.

Matthew: Psalm IV: Verse 24 from the Book of Creationism.
Luke: Psalm VXI: Verse 63 from the Book of Ludicrous.

Footnote: In the Bible, the word used for the pee pee was originally "the doodle" however, through the centuries "doodle" came to represent a word of vulgarity, hence, "doodle" is never, ever allowed---not in any version of the Bible and not even on TV during prime time hours.

Conclusion: Evolution can be proven because in the year 2000 we have electrical sockets and plugs called "the male plug" and "the female socket". These two items which can be purchased in any local Ace Hardware Store, evolved from Adam and Eve themselves. It is direct proof that the wee wee and the pee pee that God Himself designed and created at the time of Creationism eventually evolved through the process of Evolution into the modern day electrical apparatus. Also, when the male electrical plug is inserted into the female electrical socket a completed electrical circuit is completed resulting in the "birth" of an electrical current. So, the next time you are at Home Depot ask the clerk "can you tell me where I would find the pee pee and the wee wee" and they will know exactly what you are talking about. So help me God !

James Boyne dboyne@aol.com James Boyne is a regular contributor of opednews.com and his many article can be read on this web site. This article is copyright by James Boyne, originally published in OpEdNews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media if this entire credit paragraph is attached.

Campbell: Darwin himself argued for critical evaluation


By John Angus Campbell
April 19, 2005

Bio info: John Angus Campbell is a professor and director of the graduate program in the department of communication at the University of Memphis. Stephen C. Meyer is director and senior fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.

In February a Shelby County school board member suggested placing a sticker on high school biology textbooks urging students to consider "all theories" of origins "with an open mind." This proposal is a symptom of a growing national controversy about how best to teach Darwinian evolution in public school science classrooms.

For example, a suburban Atlanta school district in Cobb County, Ga., proposed a similar textbook sticker warning students that evolution is a "theory, not a fact." That proposal was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, but is being appealed. More recently, the ACLU has sued the Dover, Pa., school district for requiring ninth-grade students to listen to a prepared statement telling them about the theory of "intelligent design" as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.

Our national debate about how to teach evolution has exposed a tension between two competing principles, each indispensable to our way of life: Our commitment to scientific investigation and our commitment to democracy.

Science is not democratic. Discoveries about nature are not made by consulting public opinion. Nor are they confirmed by popular vote -- even within the scientific community.

Equally important, however, is our commitment to the democratic principle that encourages parents and other citizens to participate in the education of our children and to question what -- and how well -- our future citizens are being taught.

Is there a way to reconcile these competing principles in science education? If so, how? Specifically, how should we teach an important scientific theory -- namely, Darwinian evolution -- that divides our culture philosophically, religiously and even scientifically? Is there a way forward that avoids court battles on the one hand, and alienating parents and students on the other?

We think there is a constructive way to advance science education that also gives students and parents from a diversity of perspectives a stake in the biology curriculum.

We propose that teachers should present Darwin's theory of evolution as Charles Darwin himself did: as a credible but contestable argument. Rather than teaching Darwin's theory as an incontrovertible "truth," teachers should present the main arguments for Darwinism and encourage students to evaluate them critically -- as they would any other theory, whether new or long established.

There are several good reasons for teaching science and Darwinian evolution this way.

First, teaching science as argument helps students understand the nature of science. Contrary to the "technicians in white coats" stereotype of science, in which it is assumed facts generate scientific theories in an almost automatic way, scientists typically deliberate -- and argue -- about how best to interpret evidence.

As the Italian philosopher of science Marcello Pera has shown, scientific understanding advances as competing teams of researchers offer alternative explanations for experimental results. Students who learn the arguments for and against a given theory, or for and against two or more competing theories, are learning not only what science teaches but also how scientists reason. In learning about Copernicus, which of us did not also learn about the stationary-Earth views of Ptolemy and Aristotle? Why not extend the principle we call "teaching the controversies" (teaching science as argument) to all scientific theories?

Second, teaching science as an argument helps prepare students to be informed citizens. Today's science education must prepare future citizens to decide many issues requiring scientific knowledge -- from personal health care issues to public health care policy, stem cell research, end-of-life questions, environmental policy and decisions about government funding of scientific research. Teaching scientific ideas and theories -- Darwin's included -- openly and critically not only helps teachers prepare their students for possible careers in science, but also helps prepare citizens to make informed decisions vital to their health, to public health and to the very future of science.

To his great credit, Darwin included in "The Origin of Species" every objection he could think of. When evolution is taught as Darwin himself presented it -- as a theory resting on a large and diverse body of facts, but one from which thoughtful people (and scientists) can nevertheless dissent -- fewer parents will object to their children learning about it.

Further, when training in argument is recognized as the center of science education, and science education is seen as an extension of the civic education vital to a democratic and pluralistic culture, we will be able to turn the heat of our longstanding cultural debate over evolution into needed educational light.

The opening sentence of the final chapter of Darwin's "Origin" should guide school board members and educators as they shape science education policy and curriculum: "This whole volume is one long argument..."

John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer are editors of "Darwinism, Design and Public Education" (Michigan State University Press, 2003).

Consider intelligent design


By Bryan Payne

Temple News - Opinion
Issue: 4/19/05

Early in the 20th century, John Scopes was put on trial for teaching Darwin's theory of natural selection in public schools. The main source of controversy in Darwin's theory was that man naturally evolved from a primate rather than being created by God.

Now, in the early 21st century, the controversy surrounding evolution has been stirred up again, this time in the form of a new bill being presented to the Pennsylvania Legislature as they negotiate the budget over the course of the next two months.

The bill, if passed, would make it legal for schools to require a lesson in evolution that includes a theory called intelligent design.

Proponents of intelligent design argue that the workings of the universe are far too intricate to be the result of evolution. They argue that some force must have set everything in motion, and the debate here stems from who or what exactly is this "force." Critics of the theory regard it as being too similar to Christian dogma.

"I don't know what else to call it besides creationism," said Michael Zimmerman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh when he spoke to The Seattle Times. But is that truly the case? Creationism explicitly states that God is in fact the creator of the universe, while intelligent design simply makes a case that something more powerful than chance plays a role in mankind's construction.

In fact, some people do not even want to discuss the religious aspects of intelligent design. Rather, they wish only to argue that there are some occurrences that Darwin's theory cannot accommodate.

People like State Rep. Thomas C. Creighton (R., Lancaster) said they wish to broaden the scope of evolution theory to include points of view other than Darwin's theory of natural selection.

On one hand this is a sound argument. How can children be truly educated if they are deprived of all the possible theories of a given concept? Shouldn't they be allowed to make up their own minds as to which theory they believe is right? In fact, one could dispute that an attempt to ban intelligent design is no different than the attempt to ban Darwin's theory.

On the other hand, if we do open the door to intelligent design we risk opening the floodgates that could potentially wash over the separation of church and state that has been a staple in modern American life. If the line is crossed, then who knows where it will be redrawn?

People in other parts of the country have argued this point, and opponents of intelligent design are concerned that it is merely an attempt to let Christianity work its way into the government.

Eugenie Scott, the director for the National Center for Science Education, sees the efforts of the Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes teaching the controversy between natural selection and intelligent design, as a public relations tool in an effort to hide the theological implications behind intelligent design.

"There's no controversy about whether living things have common ancestors," Scott explains.

If that truly is the case, then the motives of those who want to present Darwin's theory as debated among scientists must be questioned. Plus, in the case of the Discovery Institute, one of its biggest benefactors is The Fieldstead Charitable Trust, a foundation run by Christian conservatives.

Is it likely that the Pennsylvania bill for intelligent design will be passed? Probably not.

Right now there are just too many questions about the true intentions of those who advocate intelligent design, and people are not going to be willing to risk losing the separation between church and state.

In the Dover Area School District, this sentiment is evident. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district for requiring ninth graders to be taught the intelligent design theory.

Perhaps one day we will be able to figure out a way to teach various theories of evolution without imposing theological views, because it really is important for children to be taught with a wide point of view. But with our country's tendency to create conflict based on religion, it is difficult to say if that day will ever come.

Bryan Payne can be reached at bpayne@temple.edu.

WSU names intelligent design foe to new professorship


Posted on Tue, Apr. 19, 2005

Niall Shanks, the author of a book opposing the concept of intelligent design, has been appointed to a new history and philosophy of science professorship at Wichita State University.

Shanks, author of "God, The Devil and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory," will be the first professor in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hired with a faculty of distinction gift. He will start in the fall.

Shanks is a professor at East Tennessee State University and is a native of Chester, England. His research focuses on biomedical and biological science issues. He holds a doctorate in philosophy of science from the University of Alberta.

WSU alumnus Curtis D. Gridley donated the money to the university to establish the professorship position.

The faculty of distinction program was created by the Legislature. Gifts must be at least $350,000 and the state supplements a gift annually with the interest it earns on the same amount of the original gift.

-Katherine Leal Unmuth

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Stuart: Maggie Fox)


The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox

Nancy Rubin Stuart


2005, Harcourt; 416p.
conjuring:history, fraud, psi:history

Maggie Fox, and her sisters, were good enough at toe snapping (and the equivalent of ventriloquism, making people think the noises were coming from elsewhere) that they harnessed the snaps to spooky effect. They convinced first their mother and then much of the American public that the raps were simply the manner of telegraph that dead people use to contact those of us left behind here. It seems preposterous that the spirits, with all the resources of The World Beyond, would have to resort to such a system of communication, and indeed, after the Fox sisters got started, they and their imitators were able to show how spirits helped in such useful feats as tipping tables, writing in trances, producing yucky ectoplasm, or many other peculiar manifestations. Stuart's book, the first full biography of Maggie Fox, is an important history of the founding of spiritualism. Her descendants, like John Edward and James Van Praagh, are still making money by contacting the dead, and it is useful to be reminded how the origin of spiritualism, fired by the hopes of bereaved families, was founded upon fraud. (Stuart tries for balance, and maintains, even against the evidence presented here, that the questions of authenticity among spiritualists remain "just beyond our grasp.") The book also is a reflection on women in nineteenth century America, as Maggie and her sisters had acquaintances who were in the women's suffrage movement; they themselves, however, used their fame as spiritualists to at least partially break out of the role of dependency and docility. For the most part, Maggie was trapped by her family into playing the role of fraud, which is sad enough, and she changed the history of humbuggery, which is sadder still.

[ Reviewed by Rob Hardy, robhardy@earthlink.net ]

Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Monday, April 18, 2005

Don't co-opt 'intelligent design'


By Earl Eager Albert

Article Published: Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 7:26:28 AM PST

ABSOLUTES? In discussing evolution versus creation, is there no middle ground? If one listens to the proponents of either "theory,' no. Each considers the other definite, deep-end material. But lately a term has crept into our political jargon: "intelligent design.' Do we finally have a reasonable compromise for those of us who can't quite fathom all this stuff around us appearing quite by accident and yet aren't comfortable lining up with those who say that certain prehistoric critters never existed despite considerable evidence to the contrary?

Sadly, though, it seems that "intelligent design' has morphed into just another euphemism for creation theory. If so, we middle-grounders are without a voice. Is that because the task of converting a lot of experts with gobs of scientific evidence supporting accidental evolution is simply too daunting?

Allow me to try.

First of all, let me confess my own biases. Though I firmly believe in a divine creator, I have a real problem buying into the notion that Methuselah's life spanned one-sixth of history. Therefore, I tend toward acceptance of evolution and natural selection. But an organism doesn't simply detect an environmental change and decide to adapt. Natural selection is a negative force. It takes generations of trial and error.

Someone once figured on a computer how the human eye could have developed in only half a million years. I have no doubt that the data was valid. But that doesn't explain why. Think of the eyes: The lenses, corneas, irises and nerves coming together and just happening to connect via a nerves to the brain to produce a visible image.

I, being "deaf as a rock,' am more fascinated by the ear: That collection of membranes and tiny bones that appear nowhere else in the body and which can collect vibrations through a perfectly formed receptacle and funnel it to the ol' noggin to be converted to that which can be perceived audibly is, in and of itself, miraculous. Imagine all that stuff falling into place in perfect symmetry totally by accident, and, again by accident, accomplishing what it does.

One would think that a few of those constituents might have occasionally ended up somewhere else as a vestigial organ harmless but useless were there no architect with forethought of design involved.

Consider the pregnant mammal, the equipment that defines it, and the product of that equipment's efforts: Blood converted to nutritious material, produced only when a being who requires that nutrition is in the offing, dispensed through a delivery system perfectly fitted for the receptacle with which that expected being will be equipped. Think about it: What came first, the milk or the kid? And all by happenstance?

Speaking of delivery systems, I've always been fascinated by poisonous reptiles. Here, again, we have the perfect conduit: A reservoir connected to a hollow vessel ideal for injecting a toxic substance into the bloodstream of prey or a threatening enemy. How did "accident' know about toxins and bloodstreams? Couldn't some beings have evolved with substances other than poisons? Their presence would be useless to the owner, but have no evolutionary reason to be shoved aside by a "more fit' entity.

A creature with similar nasty- stuff-spewing ability is the spider, another "accidental' miracle. In what order did the ability to spin a web, the knowledge that such a device could catch what the spider was perfectly developed to consume, and the fact that such prey was nutritious to the spider, evolve?

How about the miracle of sexual reproduction itself? Single cells somehow morph into complicated organisms, which then produce single cells that come together to replicate themselves and come equipped with all sorts of pleasant incentives to do so. This has occurred along many different evolutionary lines: Plants and animals in air or water environments.

I am not doubting science or scientists. Such practitioners deal in clearing up things that are quite difficult to perceive or understand. While evolution from nothing to DNA to living being to human life is indeed a theory, evolution itself is a fact. It can be observed in action in such entities as viral critters and insects as they adapt to environmental hazards within a few generations.

It has been said that many of those charged with studying these phenomena actually do believe in some sort of "outside influence.' The other sector the dinosaur doubters is entirely another kettle of protoplasm. They have hijacked the term "intelligent design' and placed it where it can be scoffed at by the "accidental miracle' crowd.

I speaking for those of us who employ simple observation and common sense want it back.

Earl Eager Albert is a freelance writer who lives in Temple City.

Unsure? Take a trip to the Galapagos


Last Updated: April 16, 2005

Behold the giant Galapagos tortoise! It weighs several hundred pounds, lives God-only-knows how long and on the day a couple of weeks ago when I was on the Galapagos Islands, could not be beholden at all.

The tortoise we wanted to see, Lonesome George (so called because he is apparently the last of his sub-species) was in hiding.

That's appropriate because almost half of America cannot see them for what they are: the home office of evolution. This is where Charles Darwin got his bright idea.

The archipelago is where birds and reptiles have evolved in almost total isolation; species that exist there can be found nowhere else. Darwin, visiting the Galapagos in 1835, was stunned by what he saw and evolved a theory to explain it all: natural selection.

It is odd to amble around the Galapagos and see the handiwork of evolution and yet, at the same time, bear in mind that many Americans do not accept evolution at all.

It is belittled as a "theory," which is a misunderstanding of the scientific term. Even in some places where it is grudgingly accepted, it is supposed to share the curriculum with creationism, as if it is an alternative theory.

It is, of course, just a fancy term for the creation according to Genesis, a matter of religious belief and not scientific theory or fact. Each can have its place, but not in the science curriculum.

The ongoing fight over evolution is an odd and sad one. There is nothing about Darwinian theory that cannot be ascribed to God - Darwin himself referred to "the Creator" in his "The Origin of Species."

Back when I was studying evolution, my teacher began the semester by saying, behold the world of God or behold something else: It is entirely up to you.

Yet 19 states are considering proposals that would require schools to question evolution, which is nothing less than proposals to inject religion into curriculum.

But why stop there? Why not introduce such skepticism into astronomy and have the sun revolve around the Earth or have the Earth stand still?

These are questions that Clarence Darrow put to William Jennings Bryan at the so-called Scopes "monkey trial" in 1925. Amazingly, they still linger.

They do so not just because, as Darwin himself conceded, there are holes in the theory of evolution, but because of an evolving political weakness in which intellectual honesty counts for less and less.

Thus, you have political leaders from President Bush on down refusing to say whether they put any stock in evolution or believe that it is an affront and assault on religion.

Back in 1999, Bush was asked whether he was "a creationist" and he responded by not responding: "I believe children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started."

In other words, it's all the same: evolution, creationism and maybe something else from another religious tradition.

The current assault on evolution is an assault not merely on science, but on thinking and truth and skepticism. Proponents of creationism demand that you stop thinking and instead accept religious dogma.

Darwin wrote of his theory: "There is a grandeur in this view of life."

The line is quoted by Ian McEwan in his new novel, "Saturday." He has his protagonist repeat the phrase and mull it into a virtual religious doctrine.

"What better creation myth?" he thinks. "An unimaginable sweep of time," he goes on, his mind hurrying through eons of change, until more recent times when human beings appear with "morality, love, art, cities - and the unprecedented bonus of this story happening to be demonstrably true."

Behold it.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for The Washington Post. His e-mail address is cohenr@washpost.com

The separation of fact and faith


Call it intelligent design, but it's nothing more than religious creationism

Last Updated: April 16, 2005

The School Board in the small Wisconsin town of Grantsburg voted last fall to permit the teaching of creationism and intelligent design theory in public school science classes.

Apparently stung by the ensuing national controversy, the board has shifted course, requiring instead that students be able to "explain the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory" but expressly stating that creationism and intelligent design are not required teaching.

At first glance, the board's final position appears reasonable. On closer inspection, it's apparent that the board intends to discredit the science of evolution.

In effect, the Grantsburg board was following a course advocated by the national leaders of the faith-based intelligent design movement: Create the appearance of a scientific controversy about evolution and then teach the alternatives under the guise of objectivity and critical thinking.

There is, however, no real controversy. Evolution is not just an educated guess.

Backed by nearly 150 years of research, fossil and other evidence spanning tens of millions of years, evolution is accepted by all but a few scientists worldwide as an accurate account of how the world has come to be as we know it.

Perhaps it is fitting that we in the United States are having this debate again.

This year marks the centennial of Albert Einstein's "miracle year," in which the physicist penned papers on light, time and energy that changed our understanding of the universe.

The year 2005 also marks the 80th anniversary of the Scopes "monkey trial," a historic drama in which Tennessee officials tried to enforce a ban on teaching evolution in schools.

These anniversaries remind us of how much our understanding of the universe and of life on Earth have evolved in a mere 100 years.

Still, the persistence of the debate in Wisconsin - and in Dover, Pa., Georgia's Cobb County and, most immediately, in the state of Kansas - is deeply troubling, both for what it says about public attitudes toward science and for the very real consequences those attitudes might have for our children.

People on both sides of the controversy have contributed to the impasse. As scientists, we have, at times, been insensitive - unwilling to hear and respect the thoughts of critics.

But it is impossible to ignore the fundamental mistrust of science and the willingness to suppress it that comes from some quarters of the religious community. Both extremes are distracting us from our common goal of preparing the next generation for a future of great challenge and hope.

As we search for common ground, it is important to remember that science is not by definition opposed to religion and our work is not intended to impose science and its values on religion.

Science is as broad and diverse as our country itself, and among the millions of people working in science-related professions, many are guided by their faith.

Einstein himself was profoundly spiritual, with beliefs that paralleled the God-in-nature deism of founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

Where evolutionary science and the philosophy of intelligent design part ways is over the questions of how and why evolution has progressed as it has.

Intelligent design theory holds that an enlightened designer is responsible for the unfolding of life and the emergence of humanity. While individual scientists may agree or disagree, science as a discipline takes no position.

It is a central tenet of science that any theory must be testable and grounded in evidence, not belief. Intelligent design cannot be tested or proved, and therefore it falls fully short of the criteria to be called "science."

Proponents of intelligent design say there are gaps in the science of evolution, but that proves nothing. Yes, there are some gaps; that is the nature of all human knowledge.

When they lack solid evidence, scientists might initially rely on intuition to build a plausible and testable hypothesis and then systematically subject the hypothesis to testing and further experimentation.

And it is true that evolutionary scientists at times have suggested conclusions based on limited evidence. But then, when a new fossil or other new evidence is discovered, the conclusion is confirmed or disproved, in which case refined theories emerge.

Even now, fascinating questions remain unanswered, and scientists of integrity and passion are at work in many fields to answer those questions so that the story of life can be told in greater detail.

Intelligent design has gone through no process like that.

And so, until there is verifiable evidence to support the theory, it remains a matter of faith. As such, it can be discussed in churches and temples and religious schools, even in public schools during classes that deal with government, philosophy, literature or current events.

But just as matters of religious faith are not the province of science, faith should not be imposed in the science classroom.

I'm heartened that many scientists and science teachers - and nearly 200 Wisconsin religious leaders - have signed letters of protest against the Grantsburg School Board policy.

At the same time, we should be discouraged by news reports that schools in other small Wisconsin towns are teaching creationism and related theories openly and without fanfare.

What troubles me most is the certainty that right now in these Wisconsin schools, there are children endowed with potential to do good work in the fields of science.

But if they are confused about the nature of science, or if the science they learn is distorted by an overlay of non-scientific values, then they may never reach their full potential.

In this age of global scientific and technological progress, we don't want our children to be stragglers. That would be a tragedy not just for the children, but for all of us.

Alan I. Leshner is the chief executive officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal, "Science."

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on April 17, 2005.

Taxpayers to pay tab for debates


By Scott Rothschild, Journal-World

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Topeka — What may turn into a cheerleading session for intelligent design won't come cheap.

Conservative members who hold a majority on the State Board of Education have scheduled several days of hearings next month on whether state science standards should include criticism of evolution.

And taxpayers will be paying to bring from across the country to Kansas speakers who plan to criticize evolution. Pro-evolution scientists are boycotting the event.

"It's a raid on the state treasury," said State Board of Education Member Bill Wagnon, "I think it's outrageous."

About two dozen witnesses have signed up to speak in support of providing criticism of evolution in Kansas public schools.

John Calvert, of Lake Quivira, a nationally known proponent of intelligent design, said the final number of people who will speak at the hearings hasn't been determined. The expenses will be paid by the Kansas Department of Education.

But Calvert said the witnesses' expenses would be "nominal" and their testimony would be worth it to help resolve what he said was one of the most important issues in public education.

He said Wagnon, whose district includes Douglas County, was criticizing the expense because he opposed having the hearings. "He's a card-carrying member of the opposition," Calvert said.

Evolution says species change in response to environmental and genetic factors over the course of many generations. Intelligent design holds that there's evidence of an intelligent design behind the origin of the universe, rather than random selection.

Pro-evolution scientists have decided to boycott the hearings, saying that intelligent design is dressed up creationism and has no business in the classroom.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, based in Washington, D.C., declined an invitation to participate in the forum.

"The concept of evolution is well-supported by extensive evidence and accepted by virtually every scientist," Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the group said in a letter. "Moreover, we see no purpose in debating interpretations of Genesis and 'intelligent design,' which are a matter of faith, not facts," he said.

Calvert said pro-evolution scientists were "shooting themselves in the foot" by not participating. "They are trying to intimidate members of the science community by subverting the information process," he said.

At this point, the hearings are scheduled for May 5-7 and May 12-14 in Topeka.

The hearings will focus on disagreements in draft science standards. A 26-member standards committee presented its curriculum standards to the board, and eight members have presented a minority report that wants criticism of evolution.

Final details on the process for conducting the hearings will be hammered out at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday when the education board subcommittee of conservative board members will meet at the State Department of Education. Calvert will attend the meeting, and Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, who has agreed to represent the majority view of the science standards committee, has been invited to attend.

A misleading message in a bottle


Stephen Pritchard
Sunday April 17, 2005
The Observer

Newspapers employ several devices to persuade you to read a story, headlines and photographs being the most obvious. In recent years, an increasing number of boxes have appeared within stories, attracting your attention by presenting the main points of an article or offering fresh themes on the same subject. They require tight editing to get their points across, and therein can lie the quicksands of error and misunderstanding. One appeared in our news pages last month. A detailed piece on a drug rehabilitation programme run by the controversial Church of Scientology was accompanied by a panel headed 'Other Ways to Beat Addiction', which devoted single paragraphs to describing four schemes. One, on acupuncture, was the subject of a correction in For the Record two weeks ago, but it was the summing up of the 12 Steps programme devised by Alcoholics Anonymous that drew the strongest criticism.

Here's the offending paragraph: 'Chiefly used by recovering alcoholics, 12 Steps encourages addicts to admit they are powerless without alcohol and that their lives have become unmanageable. Through a mixture of prayer and meditation, addicts improve their contact with God to gain the strength to break free of their addiction.'

A reader who had passed successfully through 12 Steps wrote to take issue with us. 'I was perturbed that this incorrect summary of the programme made such heavy play on God that it could discourage some practising alcoholics who may have a well-grounded aversion to God. Also, AA is open to all, not just believers. AA is a spiritual programme based on the values of love, tolerance and fellowship. It is not a religious organisation, nor is it a cult. The steps themselves could be summarised as "Get honest. Trust God [or a higher power]. Clean house. Help others".'

That 'higher power' can be whatever the alcoholic chooses. What matters is that it is a power outside the individual alcoholic, because addiction is a disease of the self, and the ego must be deflated.

The second error was a more subtle one. Alcoholics do not improve their contact with a higher power 'to gain the strength to break free of their addiction'.

'This is a gross misreading and betrays a reprehensible lack of knowledge about the subject of alcoholism,' wrote the reader. 'This seems to imply that our addiction is a weakness of will. Addiction is a disease and is accepted as such by the medical fraternity. We are not addicts because of our fecklessness, nor is it because we have not taken a grip of ourselves. If strength of will could have conquered my addiction, I would have been clean and sober a long time ago. What we have to do, paradoxically, is "surrender to win". We admit and accept our alcoholism and become willing to practise the steps.'

Far from being 'powerless without alcohol', alcoholics are 'powerless over alcohol', and Step 1 requires them to admit their powerlessness.

When practising the programme, alcoholics have to be honest, open-minded and willing. The other steps involve taking a 'fearless, searching moral inventory' of themselves - their resentments, fears and conduct towards others. Then they must draw up a list of people they have hurt and make amends and, finally, pass on what they have learnt to other alcoholics.

'The change that is wrought by attending AA meetings and practising the steps is an internal change, an inside job,' wrote our reader. 'It is not a question of merely putting down the bottle. The alcohol is in the bottle; the alcoholism is inside me.'

Write to Stephen Pritchard, Readers' Editor, The Observer, 3-7 Herbal Hill, London EC1R 3EJ, tel 020 7713 4656 or email reader@observer.co.uk

Intelligent design can't be dismissed from a scientific perspective


Last Updated: April 16, 2005

The defense of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has now fallen into the hands of biologists who believe in suppressing criticism when possible and ignoring it when not.

It is not a strategy calculated to induce confidence in the scientific method.

A paper published recently in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington concluded that the events taking place during the Cambrian era could best be understood in terms of an intelligent design - hardly a position unknown in the history of Western science. The paper was, of course, peer-reviewed by three prominent evolutionary biologists.

Wise men attend to the publication of every one of the society's papers, but in this case, the editors were given to understand that they had done a bad thing. Their indecent capitulation followed at once.

Publication of the paper, they confessed, was a mistake. And peer review? The heck with it.

"If scientists do not oppose anti-evolutionism," remarked Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Council for Science Education, "it will reach more people with the mistaken idea that evolution is scientifically weak."

Scott's understanding of "opposition" had nothing to do with reasoned discussion. It had nothing to do with reason at all. Discussing the issue was out of the question.

Her advice to her colleagues was considerably more to the point: "Avoid debates." Everyone had better shut up.

But in this country, at least, no one is ever going to shut up, the more so since the case against Darwin's theory retains an almost lunatic vitality.

Look: The suggestion that Darwin's theory of evolution is like theories in the serious sciences - for example, quantum electrodynamics - is grotesque. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to 13 unyielding decimal places. Darwin's theory makes no tight quantitative predictions all.

Look: Field studies attempting to measure natural selection inevitably report weak to non-existent selection effects.

Look: Darwin's theory is open at one end since there is no plausible account for the origins of life.

Look: The astonishing and irreducible complexity of various cellular structures has not yet successfully been described, let alone explained.

Look: A great many species enter the fossil record trailing no obvious ancestors and depart for Valhalla leaving no obvious descendents.

Look: Where attempts to replicate Darwinian evolution on the computer have been successful, they have not used classical Darwinian principles. Where they have used such principles, they have not been successful.

Look: Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing.

Look: The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is, at bottom, only one living system. But how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives, differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?

But look again: If the differences between organisms are scientifically more interesting than their genomic similarities, of what use is Darwin's theory since its otherwise mysterious operations take place by genetic variations?

These are hardly trivial questions. Each suggests a dozen others. These are hardly circumstances that do much to support the view that there are "no valid criticisms of Darwin's theory," as so many recent editorials have suggested.

Serious biologists quite understand all this. They rather regard Darwin's theory as an elderly uncle invited to a family dinner. The old boy has no hair, he has no teeth, he is hard of hearing and he often drools. Addressing even senior members at table as "sonny," he is inordinately eager to tell the same story over and over again.

But he's family. What can you do?

David Berlinski received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.

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