NTS LogoSkeptical News for 9 May 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Monday, May 09, 2005

'Intelligent design' evidence good enough to stand alone


An opponent of evolution undermined his own argument by an example he gave the Kansas Board of Education on Thursday.

Eighty years to the day after Tennessee teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in Dayton, Tenn., the Kansas board began three days of hearings on new science standards requiring that the theory be challenged in the classroom.

Other states have similar movements. With the Alabama Legislature's regular session winding down, legislation died last week that would have protected teachers' jobs if they mentioned alternative theories to evolution. That measure could come up again.

These days, some religious people are pushing a theory called intelligent design, which says that life is so complex that a supernatural creator is the only explanation. It's a theory that many religious people accept but not all religious people think it's right to use public schools to promote religion. (Teachers and students ought to be free to discuss all possibilities, however.)

William S. Harris, a chemist who helped write the proposed changes in Kansas, told the state board that "you can infer design just by examining something, without knowing anything about where it came from."

The New York Times says he cited a film titled "The Gods Must Be Crazy," in which Africans marvel at a Coke bottle that turns up in the desert. "I don't know who did it, I don't know how it was done, I don't know why it was done, I don't have to know any of that to know that it was designed."

Exactly. Intelligent design is self-evident to people who are inclined to believe it.

King David put it well in Psalm 19:1: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork." The heavens don't need any evangelism help from public-school teachers.

201 1st Ave. SE
P.O. Box 2213
Decatur, Ala. 35609
(256) 353-4612

Intelligent Design Dismissed As Useless: Erlingsson


Intelligent design is neither right nor wrong, neither true nor false; it is simply useless. We cannot build on it, so it serves no purpose in science. It would be dangerous not to recognize that, says the geographer who deciphered the Atlantis legend.

For Immediate Release

MIAMI/EWORLDWIRE/May 9, 2005 --- Applying a spiritual notion such as intelligent design better known as "God" to the physical reality is useless from a scientific point of view. God belongs to our spiritual world. We must keep our physical and spiritual realities apart, or we will loose our footing in reality.

So says Dr. Ulf Erlingsson, author of "Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land" (which has now also come out in Japanese on Hara Shobo). He makes his case for the separation of science and religion on page 89 in his book, in these words:

'If you ask Christian believers what exactly "God" is, they might reply, "I don't know". Those same people might tell you that "God created the world", since many in America still believe in the creation. Now, to show you what my point is, combine those two statements and you will get: "I don't know who or what created the world". Evidently a true statement, but it hardly makes us any wiser, does it?

'This is why it is pointless to use poorly defined words in an argument or a scientific hypothesis: We cannot build on it. Since we cannot evaluate it, the argument has no value; it is neither true nor false in logical terms. [...] Statements that are neither true nor false are logically rather useless.'

Thus, says Dr. Erlingsson, to include intelligent design in the science curriculum is to waste the valuable time of our children. The question is not if it is right or wrong--it is neither--the question is if we have the luxury of wasting the science hours of our children with it, when the rest of the world is studying real science, trying hard to get ahead of us economically. That is the choice we face, says Dr. Erlingsson, and continues, "Atlantis is the tale of an empire destroyed by hubris, defeated when it believed nothing could threaten it. Let us not make that mistake."

As regards the deciphering of the Atlantis tale, Dr. Erlingsson will present a paper at the scientific conference "Atlantis 2005," on the Greek island of Milos, July 11-13.

HTML: http://newsroom.eworldwire.com/wr/050905/11982.htm
PDF: http://newsroom.eworldwire.com/pdf/050905/11982.pdf
ONLINE NEWSROOM: http://newsroom.eworldwire.com/305612.htm
LOGO: http://newsroom.eworldwire.com/305612.htm

Ulf Erlingsson
Erlingsson Sub-Aquatic Surveys
Miami, FL
PHONE. 305-884-1890
EMAIL: ulf@erlingsson.com

WEBSITES: http://erlingsson.com, http://atlantisinireland.com

KEYWORDS: Atlantis, Geography, Earth Science, geoscience, underwater exploration,

SOURCE: Erlingsson

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Reframed arguments rekindle Darwin debate


Published May 8, 2005

WASHINGTON -- At a time when America's children need to learn how to compete with India, Ireland and other countries to which we are rapidly losing jobs, some Americans would rather fuss and fret about whether man evolved from the apes.

That's what I imagine the master lawyer Clarence Darrow would be saying if he were around to re-defend Charles Darwin's theory of evolution against today's new version of creationism.

I'm sure Darrow would be amazed and amused at last week's events in Topeka, Kan. Eighty years after his famous defendant John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in Tennessee public schools, the Kansas Board of Education opened hearings in Topeka to hear new challenges to the teaching of Darwin.

School boards in at least a dozen states are grappling with this new movement, even though a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ended the forced teaching of creationism in tandem with evolution.

In keeping with the modern age of media spin, the creationists have reframed their arguments under a new-fangled banner: "intelligent design." The label sounds about as elegantly non-threatening as a Volvo ad, but beware before you buy into it.

Instead of insisting that the Bible's version of Creation be taught in schools, the ID argument merely asks that schools be required to mention that there are alternative theories to Darwinism. ID movement icons, like biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University, argue that the Earth must have been created through guided, intelligent events, since everything in the universe is just too complicated to have been created through random chance.

Since their theory only questions and does not actually state who the intelligent designer is, proponents of ID theory insist that their movement is not like the old-style creationists who cited the Bible to explain everything.

That's their story and they're sticking to it. As long as kids are taught that an intelligent design is behind Creation, you might think that the ID movement is completely, objectively and dispassionately neutral on whether school kids learn about the Creator-God of the Old Testament or some unseen, unnamed "force" like the one that empowers the Jedi knights in "Star Wars."

But it usually does not take long for ID proponents to reveal their inner urges to crack the wall of separation between church and state. "Part of our overall goal," William Harris of the Kansas-based Intelligent Design Network told the British Broadcasting Corp., "is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools."

Of course, when people talk about removing the "bias against religion" in schools or anyplace else, it almost always means that they want to impose their religious values on schools and everybody else.

But it is important to note that the scientific community does not reject religion. In fact, many scientists are quite religious. Unfortunately, the theories and evidence put forth by ID theorists have not held up under the rigor of peer review, publication in scientific journals and other standards by which the scientific establishment operates.

What, then, is the best way to deal with the teaching of ID? Most national and state science organizations boycotted the Topeka hearings in the belief that they were rigged against the teaching of evolution. But many other voices in the scientific community say that scientists need to understand the appeal of ID theory and help students sort out the questions it raises.

"For religious scientists, this may involve taking the time to talk to students about how they personally reconcile their beliefs with their research," says an editorial in the respected British journal Nature. "Secular researchers should talk to others in order to understand how faiths have come to terms with science. ... When they walk into the lecture hall, they should be prepared to talk about what science can and cannot do, and how it fits in with different religious beliefs."

Indeed, sometimes the old ways are best. When I was growing up back in the 1950s, my teachers never seemed to have much trouble reconciling science with our personal religious views. Both science and religion were ways for us to understand the universe, they said. The questions that rational science could not explain, we answered with our faith.

We also learned that governments caused trouble when they used science as an excuse to trespass on the faith--or lack of faith--of others. That was not "the American way," we learned. I hope it does not become the American way now.

E-mail: cptime@aol.com Tom Cruise: Scientology The Answer To Worlds Problems http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/entertainment/46472004.htm

May 8, 2005, 10:44:41

TOM CRUISE is on a crusade to cure all of the world's problems - and he believes the answer lies in the controversial religion Scientology.

The COLLATERAL star is desperate to clean up America's crippling drug epidemic and will happily supply sufferers with the foundations necessary to turn their failing lives around.

And he doesn't stop there - Cruise wants to tackle other problems, including low literacy rates and crime, using Scientology founder RON L HUBBARD's philosophy.

"Those are the things that I care about. I don't care what someone believes. I don't care what nationality they are. But if someone wants to get off drugs, I can help them. If someone wants to learn how to read, I can help them.

"If someone doesn't want to be a criminal anymore, I can give them tools that can better their life. You have no idea how many people want to know what Scientology is."

FDA actions may boost alternative medicine


Friday, May 6, 2005

What a pain. First the Food and Drug Administration removed the prescription pain relievers Vioxx and Bextra from the market for increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This was followed by the recent FDA warning that nonprescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (popular over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aleve, Motrin and Advil) also increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. This is most unwelcome news for the millions of Americans who suffer chronic pain.

But every cloud has a silver lining. Faced with the quandary of whether to continue to take NSAIDs and risk death from cardiovascular disease or to discontinue the drugs and live with excruciating pain could prompt some to seek other alternatives. Acupuncture has been shown by recent National Institutes of Health studies to decrease pain and increase function in osteoarthritis. Simple dietary changes, such as eliminating plants from the nightshade family, have eradicated the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia for countless people. Decreasing dietary intake of pro-inflammatory fatty acids (most of the fats and oils consumed in America) and increasing the anti-inflammatory fatty acids (from cold-water fish and some nuts and seeds) reduces pain by naturally reducing inflammation.

While these approaches are not as easy as popping a pill, they also don't have the same dangerous side effects. In fact, the only side effect these approaches have is better health. Better health -- what an unexpected silver lining to the FDA warning.

Copyright 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


Bill to Curb Drugs In Kids Passes


Published Friday, May 6, 2005

Schools wouldn't be able to deny enrollment, services or participation in activities to children that refuse to take mood-altering drugs to treat mental disorders under a bill passed unanimously Thursday by the House and sent to Gov. Jeb Bush.

Before schools refer students for psychological evaluations, parents would have to be informed that behavior problems could be the result of physical conditions. They also must be told that they might want to consult a medical doctor, they can decline the evaluation and results may become part of the student's school record.

Actresses Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston last month testified in support of the bill (HB 209), which is supported by the Church of Scientology.

Meet the 'missing link'


From the Washington Post:
Posted on Thu, May. 05, 2005

Fossils reveal a meaty plant-eating dinosaur

WASHINGTON Researchers have unearthed the fossil remains of a dinosaur "missing link" a primitive plant-eater that had recently evolved from the carnivorous raptors that also produced modern birds.

The long-tailed dinosaur, found in the badlands of east central Utah after a tip from a repentant poacher, ate plants but had the big-bellied body of a meat-eater gone to seed, a made-to-order victim for any passing marauder except for the powerful, ropy arms and the four-inch talons on the ends of its forepaws.

"They probably used the claws for self-defense," said Utah state paleontologist James Kirkland. "Or maybe they were herding animals who just hung out together and hoped the predators would eat someone else."

The discovery of Falcarius utahensis, or "sickle-maker from Utah," so named because of the claws, supports earlier research linking the plant-eating dinosaurs known as therizinosaurs to the raptors, but also opens the possibility that therizinosaurs may have originated in North America rather than Asia, as previous evidence had suggested.

The findings are being reported today in the journal Nature.

Kirkland said he became aware of Falcarius in 1999, when colleagues showed him a box of bone fragments they had bought at a fossil show in Tucson, Ariz.

The bones supposedly came from "private land," Kirkland said.

It is illegal to excavate fossils on public land without a permit.

Kirkland said he tried for years to ascertain the location of the site, and finally got directions from an acquaintance of the excavator. When Kirkland still couldn't find it, Lawrence Walker, eager to see his discovery properly recognized, admitted his role and guided him in.

Intelligent design: Debate evolves


May 8, 2005

Last update: May 7, 2005 at 7:02 PM

Editor's note: Two weeks ago, when we published a package of articles on the debate about evolution and "intelligent design," we asked readers to send us their thoughts. Here's a selection of the replies.

Belief, and blindness

It's too bad that Paul Z. Myers (Op Ex, April 24) doesn't believe in God. If he did, maybe he'd be able to see the truth. The real controversy before us is not about the origins of species or how old the universe is. It's about whether or not there is a God.

Mike Meier, Big Lake, Minn.

Balance, and baloney

It's disappointing that the Star Tribune felt the need to "balance" Paul Z. Myers' informed enthusiasm for teaching evolutionary science with the uninformed creationist drivel of Minnetonka school board member Dave Eaton.

Eaton writes that "Some evolutionists go too far when they insist that evolution should be taught completely without criticism." When has Eaton witnessed such insistence?

Eva Young, Minneapolis.

What science demands

As a high-school sophomore now studying biology, I'd be very troubled if intelligent design ended up in my science classroom. It isn't science. Scientific theories must be falsifiable: It must be possible to prove them wrong. Yet ID proponents can always claim that any evidence challenging their "hypothesis" was planted by "the designer" to deceive us. It's impossible to respond to such an assertion.

The real motivation of this movement is obvious. The Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, the primary supporter of intelligent design, is a subsidiary of the Discovery Institute -- a conservative Christian think tank.

Benjamin Segal, Minnetonka.

A theory for atheists

I am one person who believes that teaching only the theory of evolution forces many students to demote their faith to tooth-fairy status. Evolution is by nature atheistic. It requires that death be considered a natural part of life, instead of a result of The Fall as described in the Book of Genesis.

Donna Ferber, Rush City, Minn.

Where's the fight?

There is no debate. There is no clashing of two grand cosmological theories. The intelligent design crowd is simply howling in the wind -- and rightly remains unheard. ID "theory" is not an "emerging scientific challenger" to Darwin, and saying it doesn't make it so.

Don Phillips, Minneapolis.

Why not Einstein?

You don't hear much about Einstein's theory of relativity being barred in schools, or about teachers being instructed to declare that atoms are "only a theory." I can't fathom why the people who dislike evolution don't make a stink about these and other tenets of science.

Look, I'm simply a medical student. But that means I've met a lot of biologists. If anyone should know about this stuff, they should. Yet I've never met one who thought evolution had not occurred, and you'd be hard-pressed to find one yourself.

Tyson Burghardt, Toledo, Ohio.

Design, Rube Goldberg-style

Intelligent design proponents betray a misunderstanding of biology. It's true that the complexities of any organism produce wonder -- but not at the creature's seamless organization, faultless efficiency or ingenious design.

On the contrary, what's amazing is that creatures so haphazardly cobbled together can get by at all. Organisms make do with what's on hand, using the pieces of one biological machine to bootstrap their way to another -- often with results that would make Rube Goldberg proud.

Sarah Bagby, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Mass.

Nothing new

Creationism in all its permutations has been around since -- well, since the beginning of creation. The "intelligent design" concept is the latest, and it raises intriguing questions. But it isn't science, and therefore has no place in a science curriculum.

Intelligent design is nothing less than a thinly veiled attempt to insert fundamentalist religion into our public schools. We ought to examine it under a microscope.

Judith Budreau, Excelsior.

The mouths of experts

Minnesota's new science standards encourage teachers and students to explore the evidence both for and against evolution. Two well-known evolutionists would approve.

As Stanley Salthe, author of "Evolutionary Biology," wrote, "Biology students at least should have the opportunity to learn about the flaws and limits of Darwin's theory while they are learning about the theory's strongest claims."

Another evolutionist penned these words in 1859: "A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question." The book was entitled "Origin of Species"; the author was none other than Charles Darwin.

Jean Swenson, St. Paul.

A nice story, but...

Science does not study miracles, and "irreducible complexity" is just another name for miracle. The idea of teaching ID is laughable when you understand that science is taught only after 25 to 50 years of peer-reviewed research. If ID is still around in 2055, educators will consider it.

ID is great science fiction, but terrible science.

Bill Maes, Eden Prairie.

Fable, not fact

Evolution is supported by a fossil record stretching back millions of years. Intelligent design, on the other hand, is based on the unsupported assertion that the Earth must have been created by a preexisting intelligence. This second proposition is a product of faith; it is believed without regard to facts. It therefore does not belong in a school science curriculum.

The existence of God is a theory for which no scientific proof exists. And no, ancient Hebrew fables that include the story of a man made from mud, a woman made from his rib, a talking snake and a magic fruit tree are not proof.

Tom Maertens, Mankato.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Complementary Therapies for Horses


by: Karen Briggs
December 1996 Article # 769

Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Certainly a significant number of horsepeople are becoming open to the idea that "conventional" veterinary medicine might not be the only way of dealing with the complex health issues of today's equine athletes. Alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and herbal treatments, have been generating phenomenal interest in recent years, and many people believe these modalities might provide an adjunct to veterinary medicine, as well as provide help for conditions which the veterinary community has had little or no success.

One of the problems with alternative approaches to horse health is the fact that they are less regulated than veterinary medicine. While techniques such as chiropractic and acupuncture have certification courses and professional associations, there are many active practitioners in these fields who have no professional qualifications--and some of these modalities are so new (at least to the Western world) that there are no recognized governing bodies or courses available. It can be very difficult to separate the hocus pocus from what might be legitimate therapy.

In an effort to help horse owners sort through the hype, the University of Guelph's Equine Research Centre (in Guelph, Ontario, Canada) recently hosted a two-day seminar on Complementary Therapies for Horses and invited speakers who are certified practitioners and leaders in their fields to illuminate some of the important points of five different modalities.

Kelly Counsel, communications coordinator for the ERC, said she first came up with the idea of the seminar almost two years ago. "I'd noticed that there was a growing interest (in alternative medicine) in the horse industry, and I felt there was a need for reliable information. It took me a little while to sell (ERC Director) Andrew Clarke on the idea, as it's a little off the scientific beaten path! But he could also see the demand, among equine practitioners as well as horse owners.

"I spent a lot of time searching for speakers who were, first of all, practicing veterinarians, and who were both using these therapies and could knowledgeably discuss them. I think we managed to present a really good cross-section of some of the more prevalent modalities out there."

Madalyn Ward, DVM, of Austin, Texas, began the seminar on complementary therapies with an overview of the principles of holistic horse care, a school of thought which emphasizes the "wellness" of the whole horse--physical, emotional, and mental. Coming from a "traditional" veterinary education, she explained that about six years ago, she became dissatisfied with the results that her methods of treating illness and lameness were producing.

"I was looking for other options," she said. "I'd medicate and shift the symptoms around, but I was seeing a lot of chronic problems that kept coming back. I wanted to see healthy horses, and I wasn't seeing that."

This feeling prompted a major shift in her focus.

"It's not that we don't need conventional therapies," she emphasized, "but we're missing the boat, I think, by suppressing symptoms with conventional drugs. When I first came out of school, I was very high on applying everything I'd learned--all the latest therapies and diagnostics. But as I started to change my thinking, I approached my clients and asked if they would be willing to let me experiment with some alternatives. Now, I rarely use medications, and the horses are happier and are performing better. Sometimes we get to thinking too scientifically and miss what's right in front of us.

"Alternative therapies are not just a replacement for drugs," Ward said. "They're a whole different way of thinking."

One of the alternatives Ward has explored is acupuncture, a Chinese system of medicine with a history going back more than 3,000 years. Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, she finds that acupuncture techniques have many applications.

Research has demonstrated that there is a measurable effect from the stimulation of acupuncture points, which are aligned along 14 energy meridians throughout the body. The focus is on bringing all of the horse's systems into balance. Ward notes that not only does acupuncture stimulate the release of endorphins, it can also "decrease muscle spasms and increase blood cortisol levels and white blood cell populations." The real structure of an acupuncture point, Ward said, is a small, dense collection of arterioles and venules, fine nerve endings, and mast cells, which have decreased electrical resistance. She likens it to a "breaker" in an electrical system, or in some cases, a dimmer switch.

When treating horses with acupuncture, Ward said she generally sees significant improvement in one to four sessions, and noted that most horses really enjoy the process.

"It's not a quick fix," she stressed. "You must be patient to see the results. But acupuncture is a great fit along with chiropractic, and it can be safely used in conjunction with traditional medicines."

Chiropractic was the subject of Huntington, N.Y., practitioner Sue Ann Lesser, DVM, CAC, who provided some common sense analysis of back problems in the horse.

"The horse, saddle, and rider," she said, "are analogous to a stifle joint. The rider represents the femur, the saddle the patella (kneecap), and the horse the tibia. If any one of the three bones fails to move in concert with the other two, then over time, the whole joint fails to function. Bad riding, or a poorly fitting saddle, can subluxate the horse's vertebrae, which pinches nerves and creates muscle atrophy or spasm. In the long run, it can also affect organ function and overall mobility."

Contrary to conventional wisdom that the horse's spine has little or no capacity to move, Lesser said it very definitely moves both laterally and dorsally-ventrally, as is easily demonstrated by a rodeo bucking horse or Grand Prix jumper. She noted that when a horse's vertebral mobility is compromised, the result is limited limb mobility, soreness, and frequently "attitude."

Chiropractic adjustment restores mobility to the joints, allowing the horse to move more freely. To counter the argument that humans should be incapable of shifting joints in an animal as large as a horse, Lesser holds up an equine spinal process and asserts that of a horse's 250 joints, none are bigger than a human hand. So, the correct amount of force, applied with the knowledge behind it, can definitely achieve adjustment.

Some of the problems Lesser has observed in her practice includes saddles that are too far forward and pinch the shoulder muscles, saddle gullets that are too narrow and pinch the spine, and what she calls "crooked butt disease." The latter is diagnosed if, when viewed from behind, the horse appears to have one hip higher than the other. Such a horse will also typically "pop" the shoulder opposite to the higher hip on turns, and eventually, his saddle might twist and poke him in the scapula on the hip-high side. The sciatic nerve is pinched in a hip-high horse, and he will usually be restless, shifting from hind foot to hind foot to try and relieve the soreness, and might have a tendency to kick. A patch of hair on the haunch that doesn't lie down, often chalked up to "he slept on it that way," might be a symptom of a pinched nerve somewhere else, said Lesser.

Nancy Spencer, CFI, an equine kinesiology practitioner from Virginia, added some very practical information on equine flexibility and suppleness to the seminar by discussing stretching exercises owners can do with their horses. She pointed out that fitness in a performance horse is as dependent on flexibility and freedom of movement as it is on cardiovascular conditioning, and that poor flexibility is responsible for nearly 80% of soft tissue injuries that occur during activity. Passive stretching, in which the handler helps the horse stretch various muscles, can increase blood flow to muscles and both guard against injuries and serve as a valuable rehabilitative technique for horses recovering from injury or illness. While the idea of a human "stretching" a 1,000-pound horse might sound formidable, Spencer has developed techniques that are not only safe for the handler, but also easy enough for any owner to learn.

Two of the more mystical modalities covered in the Complementary Therapies seminar were homeopathy, discussed by Madalyn Ward, and Chinese herbology, presented by Cindy Lankenau, DVM, who practices in New York state. Both are based on the use of herbs and natural products as remedies, but their applications are vastly different. Lankenau emphasized the extensive knowledge needed by a practitioner in order to safely prescribe Chinese herbs. Ward described the basic homeopathic remedies as having a wide safety margin and no side effects, making them ideal for a horse owner's first-aid kit.

Homeopathy originated about 200 years ago with experimental physician Samuel Hahnemann, who theorized that "like treats like." In other words, the symptoms of a condition could be best treated with a substance that would produce those same symptoms. The active substances used in homeopathy are sometimes toxic (poison ivy and arsenic are two common remedies), but they are diluted to the point where toxic effects are impossible--in fact, they are generally diluted to the point where there is no detectable molecule of the active substance left in the solution! The more dilute the solution, the more potent the remedy; this is based on the idea that the water molecules retain a "memory" of the active substance. Despite the fact that no one has been able to prove or disprove the theory behind homeopathy, it is well accepted in many parts of the world.

"Homeopathy is 'energy medicine,' " said Ward. "It doesn't do well in the laboratory. All you can measure is anecdotal results."

Homeopathic prescriptions are based on matching individual symptoms to individual remedies. Generally, a remedy is dropped onto a small sugar globule, which can be taken orally. For horses, Ward dissolves four or five sugar pellets in a 12cc syringe of distilled or spring water and squirts it into the horse's mouth; it can be absorbed by the mucous membranes and does not need to be swallowed. Common applications of homeopathic remedies include colic, anaphylactic (allergic) responses, inflammation, and even panic responses or anxiety.

Chinese herbology, on the other hand, is a complex form of medicine that can do considerable harm in the wrong hands, and considerable good in the right ones. Cindy Lankenau reported one of the few veterinary practitioners in the United States who is well-versed in the use of these herbs, cautioned that before you can understand the applications of Chinese herbs, you must understand the Eastern philosophy behind their use--a process that can take decades.

"You must start with a mental leap," she said, "that the body has an internal energy system, and that you can manipulate it. Chinese herbology is based on balancing that Qi (energy), and not on treating individual symptoms as Western medicine tends to do."

Diagnosing a condition (or "disharmony") is an involved process of evaluation based on the Eight Principles: first, an animal must be described as more yin or more yang (although it will always have elements of both); then the disease or individual will be determined to have characteristics that are cold or hot; third, the disease must be described as internal or external; and finally, the problem will be defined as being due to an excess or deficiency.

The aim of prescribing herbs is to rebalance the system by using plants whose effects counter the pattern of disease. Generally, herbal mixtures are prescribed, for it is rare that one herb will have all the qualities required. The interaction of the herbs is also an important element of prescribing.

According to Counsel, the Equine Research Centre is currently working toward making a network of resources on alternative therapies available for veterinarians and horse owners around the world.

Intelligent design


Posted on Sat, May. 07, 2005

Theory argues for thoughtful engineering behind life

By Bill Tammeus and Alan Bavley

Knight Ridder Newspapers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A central question in the growing debate over the intelligent design movement is this:

What's religion got to do with it?

As is often the case when science and religion clash, some of the answers, though offered with certainty, are polar opposites.

"This is all about Christian theology," says Niall Shanks, author of "God, the Devil and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory."

Not so, says John Calvert, a managing director of the Kansas City-based Intelligent Design Network Inc. "What we (intelligent design advocates) are doing is taking religion out of science."

Even if the religion question isn't asked directly, it will be at the heart of coming hearings by the Kansas Board of Education, which was to begin this week debating the science curriculum.

Proponents of modern theories of evolution propose that something as microscopic as a single cell has evolved over billions of years in a completely unguided way into something as complex as, say, a human being.

Instead, supporters of intelligent design say that some things in the universe things even as tiny as that single cell are far too complex in design to be the result of time and random chance. They say such design required thoughtful engineering.

Guided process

To demonstrate this, they often refer to something called the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum, which can be seen only with an electron microscope, appears to be a long tail that helps bacteria move about.

Upon examination, it looks like a biological machine with a high-speed rotary motor made up of at least 40 interlocking components. Intelligent design backers believe these tails were present in the very earliest bacteria, billions of years ago. They also contend these tails won't work unless all parts are present at once.

They refer to the tail and its multipart motor as an example of what they call "irreducible complexity." The presence of all these parts, they conclude, means the tail couldn't have assembled by accident but must have been designed.

Such complexity suggests that from its earliest origins, life results from a guided process, these advocates say, and scientists can discover this irreducible complexity by looking for patterns in nature that aren't likely to happen by chance.

"The argument I present is based completely on physical data," says Michael Behe, a leading intelligent design proponent and a Lehigh University biochemist. "It's based on the structures of things we find in the cell and on pretty straightforward logic of how we recognize design. It's not based on any dogma."

While some advocates of intelligent design say outright that the "designer" will turn out to be the God of Christianity, the theory itself does not say who or what the designer may be.

Does this sound plausible?

Not to George Gale at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"There is no such thing as irreducible complexity," says Gale, executive director of the Philosophy of Science Association, "(Intelligent Design advocates) are saying there never is going to be a time when we could explain this. If you're a betting person, you'd never put money on that."

He gives this example: In the year 1200, no one could explain how a nail rusted, but by the late 18th century, scientists could.

"Science is like a leaky boat they're constantly rebuilding in mid-ocean," Gale says. "Scientists like it that way. Religionists don't." So just because scientists may not offer a good explanation now of something like that tail, which appears to be irreducibly complex, it doesn't mean they won't be able to as knowledge increases.

"(Intelligent design supporters) appear to be reasonable," says Gale, who teaches philosophy at UMKC, but "they sucker in the unscientific schlub who thinks there's a legitimate debate going on."

Code word for God

Gale thinks the term "intelligent designer" is a code word for God and that the intelligent design movement's refusal to acknowledge it is "ill-willed dishonesty."

"The thing that bothers me about most of these guys (is) they're Christians who don't observe the Ninth Commandment (against false witness). There's so much dishonesty."

Meanwhile, biologists say there are ways bacterial flagella could have evolved, meaning they had no need of a designer. They, too, might not be able to say exactly how just yet. But as Gale of the University of Missouri-Kansas City says, science is a work in progress, changing constantly as scientists make new discoveries.

If theorists of intelligent design are being accused of trying to sneak God into the lab, they criticize Darwinian evolutionists for trying to keep out the idea of an intelligent designer.

"Science has to be theoretical," Calvert says. "Religion is dogmatic. It's doctrinaire. And when you move from the theoretical to the doctrinaire, you're putting religion into science."

That's what Calvert and other intelligent design backers say traditional evolutionary biology has done, though they describe biology's religion as nontheistic, or without a god. And they insist that when the scientific establishment refuses to consider the possibility of intelligent design, it's following its own godless religion.

"Evolution clearly furthers an atheistic, materialistic worldview, and that's every bit as religious as Christianity and any other theistic faith," says William Dembski, a leading intelligent design advocate and Baylor University mathematician.

Calvert adds: "In origin science, we're addressing questions fundamental to religion where did we come from? So they (evolutionary biologists) say, 'OK, we're going to do that science with a (no-design) bias.'

"I think the institutions of science (such as universities, peer-review journals and scientific organizations) are wrong when they say that we have to ignore that (design) hypothesis."

The intelligent design movement, however, insists it is different from the various forms of scientific creationism and their explicitly religious pleadings. That's because most creationists look for scientific evidence that backs the Genesis creation accounts, whereas intelligent design proponents say they are unable, through their science, to answer who the intelligent designer is.

Proponents of the design theory say they're in for the long haul.

Intelligent design is "perceived as being strong enough to be dealt with by the scientific establishment," Behe says. "I'm encouraged by that. I'm very optimistic that the progress of science itself will continue to throw up more evidence pointing toward design. Things are not getting simpler, they're getting much more elegant."

Dembski says parents and school boards "are tired of being bullied. I think these issues are not going to go away. If anything, they'll be intensified."

But Gale believes intelligent design has no long-term future: "They're very good at raising questions in areas of ignorance: 'You can't explain this, therefore it's intelligent design.' You can't just put God into our gaps in knowledge."

Groans and grumblings at evolution hearing


Board member says she hasn't fully read standards

The Associated Press

Updated: 2:50 p.m. ET May 6, 2005

TOPEKA, Kan. - As a State Board of Education subcommittee heard more testimony Friday on how evolution should be taught in Kansas classrooms, one member acknowledged that she hadn't read all of an evolution-friendly draft of science standards proposed by educators.

Kathy Martin made the comment while attempting to reassure a witness who said he hadn't read the entire proposal, just parts of it. Russell Carlson, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor at the University of Georgia, said he had reviewed an alternate proposal from intelligent-design advocates.

"I've not read it word for word myself," Martin said of the other proposal, eliciting groans of disbelief from a few members of the audience.

The board expects to consider changes in June in how Kansas students are tested statewide on science. The three-member subcommittee began hearings Thursday, and will hear more testimony Saturday and again next Thursday.

"It's intellectually stimulating," said board Chairman Steve Abrams, one of the three presiding members. "It's good information."

Similar battles have occurred in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the past few years.

The Kansas board has sought to avoid comparisons of its hearings with the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn., in which teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating a law against teaching evolution. But the hearings do resemble a trial, with attorneys managing each side's case.

In 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education, with a conservative majority which included Abrams deleted most references to evolution in the science standards. The next election led to a less conservative board, which adopted the current standards describing evolution as a key concept for students to learn before graduating high school.

Last year, conservatives captured a majority again, and many scientists fear the board will adopt revisions supported by intelligent design advocates. The conservative majority includes the three subcommittee members, Abrams, Martin and Connie Morris.

Intelligent design advocates said they only want to expose students to more criticism of evolution, giving them a more balanced picture of the theory attributed to 19th-century British scientist Charles Darwin.

"The way Darwinian evolution is usually presented is that the evidence is overwhelming, and there is no controversy about it," said Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design research. "That's clearly not the case."

Intelligent design advocates question evolutionary science, which says that change in one species can lead to new species and that different species have common ancestors.

Intelligent design says some features in the natural world because they are complex and well-ordered are best explained by the actions of a powerful intelligent being.

None of the changes that intelligent-design advocates have proposed in the standards mention their ideas. But other scientists scoff at the notion that the board isn't being pushed to endorse intelligent design.

"The only things that exist in intelligent design literature are criticisms of evolution," said Keith Miller, a research assistant professor in geology at Kansas State University. "Who are the people they are bringing here to speak? Advocates of intelligent design."

Viewing the hearings as rigged against evolution, national and state science groups are boycotting, so no scientist is expected to testify against the intelligent design advocates' case. Instead, they are conducting a series of news conferences at the Statehouse.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Critics say creationism is true agenda


Evolution backers say opponents have hidden purposeThe Associated Press
Updated: 12:13 p.m. ET May 7, 2005

TOPEKA, Kan. - Witnesses trying to persuade Kansas officials to encourage more criticism of evolution in public school classrooms have made statements that some scientists say revealed creationist views.

Witnesses in a hearing of a subcommittee of the State Board of Education on how the theory should be taught have also acknowledged that they had not fully read evolution-friendly science standards proposed by educators. Nor had two of three presiding board members.

The subcommittee was in its third day of hearings Saturday, with a final day scheduled for Thursday. The entire board plans to consider changes in June to standards that determine how Kansas students are on science.

State and national science groups are boycotting the hearings, viewing them as rigged in favor of language backed by intelligent design advocates.

In turn, intelligent design advocates contend that they have been portrayed unfairly as advocating creationism. Intelligent design says some features of the natural world are so complex and well-ordered that they are best explained by an intelligent cause.

Repeatedly on Friday and Saturday, Topeka lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, representing the drafters of the evolution-friendly standards, questioned witnesses about their personal beliefs.

Witnesses said they did not believe all life had a common origin or that man evolved from earlier, ape-like creatures. Some said they accepted the widespread scientific conclusion that the Earth was about 4.5 billion years old, but two said they believed it was 5,000 to 100,000 years old.

Nancy Bryson, a biology instructor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, said having life appear from chemical molecules was "utterly impossible." Bryson came under fire for giving a public lecture in 2003 criticizing evolution and eventually lost her position as division science director at Mississippi University for Women.

"In my personal opinion, I believe there is an intelligent designer," she said.

Other scientists said such statements showed the witnesses' true motives opening up the science curriculum for religion.

"They're creationists first and scientists second," Robert Bowden, a plant pathologist at Kansas State University, said after Friday's hearing.

Evolution critics urge more open debate

Witnesses said the language backed by advocates of intelligent design would allow freer debate in the classroom.

"Teachers should be actually encouraged to discuss these issues," said Russell Carlson, a biochemist and molecular biologist at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Irigonegaray repeatedly pointed out that witnesses had not fully read the evolution-friendly proposal, which would continue the state's policy describing the theory as a key concept for students to learn.

Board member Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, elicited groans of disbelief from a few audience members when she acknowledged that she had only scanned the proposal, which is more than 100 pages long. Later, board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis, also said she had only scanned it.

Martin said during a break: "I'm not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information."

Intelligent design advocates continued calling scholars, biologists and chemists to attack evolutionary theory that all life arose from a common source and that change in species over time can lead to new species.

Battles over evolution also have occurred in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the past few years.

In 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education, with a conservative majority including Abrams deleted most references to evolution in the science standards. The next election led to a less conservative board, which adopted the current standards. In last year's elections, conservatives captured a majority again.

Irigonegaray hoped to show that intelligent design was a religious concept. He asked Carlson, "In your opinion, the intelligent designer is God, is it not?"

Carlson replied: "Well, yeah, I would agree with that."

Asked to explain the appearance of humans on Earth, witness John Sanford, an associate professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell University, said: "My explanation, humbly offered, is that we were specially created."

The board has sought to avoid comparisons between its hearings and the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn., in which teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating a state law against teaching evolution. However, both sides are represented by attorneys, even if scientists refuse to testify for evolution.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Philosopher says intelligent design theory can't be put to test


By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

Fans of creationism and "intelligent design" theory would do well to leave evolution alone until they get their own ideas in order, a noted philosopher argued Monday.

Using the same logical tool, University of Wisconsin philosophy professor Elliott Sober derailed cases claiming that God either did or didn't design what we see on Earth. The problem, he told several hundred people at the University of Montana Henry Bugbee Annual Lecture in Philosophy, was that we can't test scientific assumptions about God.

"I'm not trying to undermine faith in existence of God," Sober stated early in his lecture. Neither was he trying to mount a defense for Charles Darwin's scientific theory of evolution. Whether one believes that God created the world or not does not bear on how we interpret and predict what the world is doing, he said.

"The theory of evolution is not an atheistic doctrine," Sober said. "It's about life once it gets started. How the universe began is not a problem for biologists. It's a problem for physicists."

Sober presented two famous cases against and for God's involvement in designing the world.

In what he called "the panda's thumb," Sober recounted science writer Stephen Jay Gould's observation that the small knob of bone on a panda's wrist, which it uses to prepare bamboo for eating, is so inefficient that it argues against an "intelligent designer's" involvement.

That argument is false, Sober said, because it assumes we know what God was trying to do with the panda's thumb. Nature is full of imperfect creations as well as remarkable ones. But we have no way yet of learning God's motives, if there are any.

On the other hand, Sober went through the analogy of William Paley known as the Rock, the Watch and the Eye. It states that if you find a rock in a field, you might not assume its presence there had any intelligent design involved. But if you found a pocket watch in the same field, you would automatically presume a craftsman rather than some random chance shaped its gears and fitted its mechanism together.

Because a human eye is even more complex than a watch, Paley argued its existence implied an equally complex designer. But Sober pointed out that Paley's claim has the same problem that Gould's does. It assumes that we know what God did or didn't want to do.

"The problem is not solved by saying: 'The designer is God,' " Elliott said. "We need independent evidence. What doesn't work is simply inventing assumptions that allow us to get to the conclusions we want to have."

In an interview before the lecture, Sober said intelligent design advocates were using the issue as a "Trojan Horse" to put religious leaders in charge of public school curriculums.

He argued biology classes shouldn't be wrapped around a particular religious doctrine any more than geology classes should ignore geological evidence of planetary structure and change.

"Intelligent design theorists are trying to do something very ambitious," Sober said in the lecture. "They're trying to show intelligent design beats all possible mindless processes. That's more ambitious than any scientist will be able to do, and I don't think intelligent design theorists will be able to do it either."

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com

Darwinian Faith vs. Intelligent Faith - Part 2


April 27, 2005

Monte Kuligowski

My last column generated such a firestorm of email criticism from those who oppose creation science and intelligent design that I've decided to present the following to see if my understanding has evolved.

First, my article, "Darwinian Faith vs. Intelligent Faith," was not written as a scientific treatise; but as a layman's prose, pointing to the horrific social consequences of evolutionary theory.

Nevertheless, my beloved opponents were quick to point to my heresy of stating that Darwinism begins with the premise that either God doesn't exist or he isn't compatible with scientific inquiry. Here's how one writer put it: "Evolution, being a BIOLOGICAL theory, doesn't address the creation of the worlds. Also, it doesn't address the creation of life! Evolution only begins to take place after the creation of life, in whatever way that occurred."

(It's sort of interesting that those so strongly opposed to creation science can't help but use the word "creation" when referring to the appearance of the worlds and of life.)

The editor of the New Humanist magazine guards his words a little better: "Darwinism, if such a thing exists . . . merely point[s] to all the available evidence supporting the theories of evolution and natural selection. What happened before the existence of the first organism is not something Darwin or his followers spent much time on . . . they were looking merely at the development of organisms, not their initial creation."

So Darwin and his followers were looking merely at the development of organisms. Notice that he didn't say they were looking at one genus of species evolving into another. Evolutionists have never seen this happen and they remain unable to objectively prove their claim. They don't really know whether life first appeared instantly and completely (as microscopic life, seed bearing vegetation, male and female fish, birds, cows, bugs, man, etc.); rather than as a "single" primordial organism. No one saw the elusive "first lone organism;" but some believe the theory is true. Likewise, no one saw God create the earth and impart life; but many believe that he did. No one saw "natural selection" create an ear to hear; neither did anyone see God breathe life into Adam after he formed him from the dust of the earth.

Another authority on evolution says that, "science says nothing about God. It does not include the concept of god in any assumptions. Also, the creation of planets and the origin of life has [sic] nothing to do with the theory of evolution."

Guess what? Science says nothing about natural selection. Natural selection is nothing more than a mythological deity, possessing unsearchable creative abilities and a mysterious intellect. It took a while, but it turned a little slime blob into a breathing evolutionist.

The "enlightened" evolutionist ignores his own faith, focusing instead on the faith of others: "Intelligent Design is a religious doctrine because it makes the unsubstantiated, unverifiable claim that God guided the development or creation of life. Evolutionary theory . . . is an evidence-based theory which makes no claims . . . about god. This is why evolution belongs in a classroom, and 'intelligent design' does not."

Let's read that quote again, except this time swapping "intelligent design" and "evolution;" and "God" and "natural selection": "'Evolution' is a religious doctrine because it makes the unsubstantiated, unverifiable claim that 'natural selection' guided the development . . . of life. 'Intelligent design' is an evidence-based theory which makes no claims about 'natural selection.' This is why 'intelligent design' belongs in a classroom, and 'evolution' does not."

I think I now understand evolutionary theory a little better. It makes no assumptions about God (which makes it true science); it only begins after the non-biological evolution or creation of the planets, at the point of earthly life, and then looks to the development (observable changes "within" a species) of present organisms which leads an educated (or indoctrinated) person to the conclusion that all food producing trees and plants, animals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and man (and every other living thing) have evolved into their present state from a first organism (of which no assumptions are made) by the marvel of natural selection (of which no assumptions are made) over millions and millions of years with consecutive and consistent conditions for life (enough water, light, oxygen, food, temperature, etc. of which no assumptions are made).

In theory, the theory of evolution begins with no assumptions of God's existence. In practice, how many evolutionists are completely closed-minded to the "repulsive" thought of the God of the Bible being the creator and sustainer of all life? The theory conveniently provides a foundation (of sand) for atheists, humanists and secularists, etc., to build upon toward the creation of an illusionary world where there is no objective right or wrong nor final accountability to God.

"Well, no, that's not accurate," one might say, because even Darwin saw no conflict with believing in God and some people who ascribe to the theory do believe in God. After all, the theory makes no assumptions about God. On one hand, God is left out of the equation; on the other, one may believe in God and still be a macro-evolutionist. But oh, dear evolutionist, what kind of god does the theory support?

Would the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob need millions and millions of years to create his beloved treasure called man, made a little lower than the angels but crowned with glory and honor? Of course not. He is the God who spoke the galaxies into existence by the power of his word. He said, "Let there be light: and there was light." He speaks and it happens instantly. Whether he is creating life; parting the sea; pushing down the walls of Jericho; turning water into wine; multiplying a few loaves to feed thousands; healing lepers or raising the dead he is the all knowing, all seeing God. He is the Almighty.

Evolution is not the work of an omnipotent Creator, but an impotent fairy. Number him among the ancient Baals and Asherahs; he is a thing of human imagination, as worthless as a totem pole or bronze idol. He is as blind as the fairy tale of natural selection, groping in the dark waiting for his eyes to fully evolve. When was man created in his own image? When he existed in the form of a salmon or an ape? What was this god doing when his poor beast was evolving from monkey to Neanderthal? Did he take pleasure in his grotesque creature crawling in the mud, and then hunching around trying to walk upright? Or is the god of evolution to be pitied because of his utter inability to intervene?

At what point did man become accountable to this god? Or does he have any basis to hold men accountable? Is his only precept the law of "survival of the fittest?"

The imaginary past pain and suffering (during the eons of evolutionary process) can't be explained by the consequences of sin because protozoans and animals can't be held to moral standards. And likewise, the real pain and suffering in the world can't be attributed honestly to Adam's sin if the story of creation is just an allegorical fairy tale.

Hence, we see the problem for the (perhaps unsuspecting) religious evolutionist and the delight of the atheist: there are no definitive answers to our deepest questions (like, "why is there suffering in the world?"). When the Bible is not interpreted plainly, objective moral truth is replaced with subjective interpretation.

So I ask, is there any good reason for anyone to interpret the Bible allegorically, yielding to the doctrine of the mysteriously moving slime that needed to evolve? Of course not that involves much more faith than God requires. Instead, exercise intelligent faith trust your Creator and believe his word. If the pillars of creation and original sin are rejected, then the biblical truths which follow come crumbling down (in the mind of the unbeliever). At that point, God is not to be trusted and obeyed, but questioned.

Submitting to the rule of God is not something men naturally select. And that basic truth is not subject to evolution.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
William Cowper (1731-1800)

2005 Monte Kuligowski

Monte Kuligowski is an attorney who writes on topics of social, religious, political and legal interest. He writes for Opinion Editorials, MichNews, American Daily and Conservative Truth. His columns have been linked by Google News, Christian Headline News, Tysk News, Free Republic and others sites.


Gull Lake responds to threatened lawsuit over evolution teaching


April 29, 2005, 7:41 PM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A lawyer for Gull Lake Community Schools said Friday the district will continue with its ongoing evaluation of how to teach evolution theory regardless of a threatened lawsuit.

A Christian-oriented law center has said it may sue the district unless two middle school teachers are allowed to include an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution in their classes. The alternative theory, called "intelligent design," remains banned at the southwest Michigan school district while a committee evaluates the issue.

Intelligent design theory holds the universe is so complex it must have been created by an unspecified higher power. Critics say that is a secular version of creationism, which regards God as the creator of life. They say teaching the theory in public schools violates the separation of church and state.

The Gull Lake superintendent ordered two teachers to stop including intelligent design theory in classes this school year. He also set up a committee, including the two teachers, to make recommendations on how to proceed to the district's school board.

The committee meets again May 9, said Lisa Swem, an attorney for the school district.

"The process will continue," Swem said Friday. "Public school classrooms should not be battlegrounds for political ideology."

The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, which represents the two teachers, earlier this month said it may sue the district in federal court. Thomas More president and chief counsel Richard Thompson has said Gull Lake's ban on teaching intelligent design violates academic freedom to teach and students' right to learn about controversy over evolution theory.

Swem contested Thompson's legal claims in a letter Friday. She said the local school board has broad authority to determine curriculum.

A phone message was left late Friday afternoon seeking comment from the Thomas More Law Center.

On the Net:

Gull Lake Community Schools: http://www.gulllakecs.org/

Thomas More Law Center: http://www.thomasmore.org/

Copyright 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Evolution debate turns into debate over intelligent design


Posted on Sat, Apr. 30, 2005


Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - When Bill Harris examines a bacterium's whip-like tail, he sees a food-finding, poison-avoiding machine the likes of which man can't build. That and other observations lead him to question evolution.

"It's got function; it's got purpose," said Harris, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "In science, you follow where the evidence goes."

Harris is at the center of a contentious debate over science testing standards for Kansas schools. He and other advocates of intelligent design want to expose Kansas students to more criticism of evolution, particularly conclusions that change over time in a species can lead to a new one and that man, apes and other animals had common ancestors. Many scientists view intelligent design - which says some features of the natural world, because of their well-ordered complexity, are best explained by an intelligent cause - as creationism.

"They're trying to prove God, scientifically," said Denis Lamoureux, an assistant professor of science and religion at the University of Alberta in Canada, who also describes himself as a born-again Christian.

In June, the State Board of Education expects to consider changes to science standards, which currently describe evolution as a key concept for students to learn.

A three-member board subcommittee plans hearings May 5-7 and 12-14, and intelligent design, or "ID," advocates expect nearly two dozen witnesses to critique evolution. National and state science groups are boycotting, viewing the hearings as rigged against evolution.

Intelligent design advocates haven't proposed citing ID in the standards or including it in lessons. Yet ID is under scrutiny because scientists fear there will be an attempt to sneak it - or even creationism - into the classroom. Critics contend intelligent design is a response to court rulings against teaching creationism in public schools.

Backers of intelligent design said opponents are trying unfairly to identify ID advocates with Christians who take literally the Bible's account of a divine, six-day creation. Advocates stress that ID doesn't identify the intelligent cause of creation - or claim that science can.

"You cannot, by seeing something that's designed, know anything about the designer," Harris said. "The data doesn't take you to the God of the Bible, the Koran, or some little green man on Mars. We're not being coy."

Critics of intelligent design scoff at such arguments.

"We're not talking about little green aliens," said Jack Krebs, an Oskaloosa math teacher and former science curriculum designer affiliated with Kansas Citizens for Science. "What kind of designer has been around 4 billion years and has the power to do - literally - God knows what?"

John West, senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design research, said ID advocates aren't challenging explanations for changes within species over time. Instead, he said, the controversy is about how new species arise and whether there's a common ancestor for all life.

"From goo to you, via the zoo," Harris said. "That's the big Darwinian picture."

West pointed to the Cambrian Explosion - a sudden appearance of diverse, multicelled life during the Cambrian Period, some 500 million years ago. Where fossils for ancestors of Cambrian life should exist, he said, they are lacking.

"This is turning Darwin's theory on its head," he said.

Richard Schrock, an Emporia State University biology teacher, said the record is spotty possibly because Precambrian seas were more acidic, destroying potential fossils. With advances in genetic research, he said, "It's not causing a problem."

"They're fighting a losing battle," he said of intelligent design advocates. "The universities here, we're not going to be presenting intelligent design in our curriculums, because it has no scientific credence."

Among the 23 witnesses expected to question evolution during the hearings in May are teachers, chemists and biology, religion and philosophy professors.

Lamoureux said while such a lineup can look impressive, most intelligent design advocates aren't well-trained or work day-to-day in historical sciences such as paleontology or evolutionary biology.

"Are they bright guys? No question. Do they have good Ph.D.s from great institutions? No doubt about it," said Lamaoureux, who once planned to participate in the hearings but pulled out. "But if you're a dentist, you can't deliver babies."

West said ID critics "sling mud" instead of defending Charles Darwin's theory and their conclusions about evolution.

Schrock said scientists are frustrated because while ID advocates did not gain credibility among scientists, they were still able to create a political and social debate. He said that's because, "The level of scientific stupidity in America is terrifically high."

Lamoureux said intelligent design taps into the wonder the natural world can inspire - and into people's religious experiences.

"Rhetorically, it's unbelievably powerful," he said. "It's something most people can wrap their brains around."

On the Net:

Lamoureux's Web site: http://www.ualberta.ca/dlamoure

Kansas Citizens for Science: http://www.kcfs.org

Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org

Intelligent Design Network: http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org

New law licenses holistic naturopaths


By Emily Fancher, STAFF WRITER

KASIA HOPEWELL is a naturo-pathic doctor in San Mateo. (JOHN GREEN - Staff)

SAN MATEO When Dr. Kasia Hopewell, a Belmont native, chose to become a naturopath in the late 1990s, she thought she'd be exiled from San Mateo County. At the time, California did not license these doctors who practice a mix of alternative and conventional medicine.

But California started handing out licenses for the first time in February, and Hopewell returned from Seattle to set up shop in San Mateo with license number 12.

Under the new law, naturopaths can treat everything fromcolds and allergies to arthritis and menopausal symptoms, order lab tests, dispense homeopathic and herbal medicines and provide nutritional counseling. With additional training, they can deliver babies and, under the guidance of an medical doctor, can prescribe pharmaceuticals.

California became the thirteenth state to license naturopaths when it passed a bill in 2003, reflecting the nation's growing interest in alternative medicine. But the bill was opposed by the California Medical Association, and critics of alternative medicine question the safety and effectiveness of natural therapies.

Interest in natural medicine

Hopewell grew interested in medicine as a child in Belmont when her mother, who suffered from the most serious form of lupus, sought out both conventional and alternative medicine.

After deciding to pursue her "passion for health care," she left San Mateo County to get a four-year naturopathy degree at Bastyr University in Seattle, one of four accredited schools in the country. The first two years were spent studying anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, she said, classes that are almost identical to those at a traditional medical school. The final two years focused on a holistic approach to health.

Naturopathy stresses the body's ability to heal itself, and the interaction of mind, body and spirit, though it also uses conventional medicine and pharmaceuticals when necessary, Hopewell said.

For example, Hopewell said, if she sees a child with a chronic ear infection, she'll take a detailed history of the child's health, diet and environment and do a thorough physical exam, looking for allergies as the cause of the problem. If the cause is an allergy to cow's milk, she'll suggest an altered diet, though she said she might eventually recommend an antibiotic if she's treating a flaming infection.

"I try to find the cause, not just eradicate it," said Hopewell, who practiced in Seattle after finishing her degree.

Traditional doctors concerned

Hopewell said she likes working in conjunction with mainstream medicine and never hesitates to refer a patient when necessary to traditional specialists.

Some mainstream doctors are open to alternative medicine.

Dr. David Spiegel, director of the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, said "there's a lot that's interesting but unproven about naturopathy" but that he believes alternative medicine used with traditional medicine can be helpful. He treats mostly patients with chronic pain at his center using therapeutic massage, acupuncture and hypnosis.

Others are harsh critics of alternative therapies.

Dr. Kimball Atwoood, a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, has written a scathing critique of the standard naturopathy textbook and curriculum. His concern is shared by Dr. Wallace Sampson, a leading critic of alternative medicine who has taught a class on the subject at Stanford Medical School.

Sampson said naturopaths are "unqualified academically" and worries that licensing them legitimizes a questionable profession.

But Miles Bristow, a spokesman for the Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine with the state's Department of Consumer Affairs, said licensing protects consumers by regulating naturopaths.

Dr. Rebecca Patchin, former chair of the legislation council for the California Medical Association, said the CMA opposed the bill that licensed naturopaths, fearful that patients with serious diseases such as cancer would substitute alternative therapies for chemotherapy or other methods that might be able to cure them. Patchin, who visited Bastyr, where Hopewell trained, said it was difficult to judge the curriculum based on a day-and-a half visit.

Some of the controversy over the bill came from the perception that state Sen. John Burton sponsored it because a powerful Hollywood producer, Steven Bing, who is a generous donor to the Democratic Party, pushed for it.

Opposition also came from some in the natural health community such as Boyd Landry, executive director for the Coalition for Natural Health, who said his organization worries that licensed naturopaths will want to push out others in the field.

National trend

Nationwide, interest in alternative medicine is growing, experts says.

About 36 percent of Americans use some kind of complementary or alternative medicine, ranging from herbal extracts, hypnosis and massage therapy to biofeedback, meditation and tai chi, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NCCAM).

To fund research on these therapies, the federal government has increased NCCAM's budget to $123 million from $50 million in 1999, but that's still a drop in the bucket of the NIH's $28 billion budget.

Spiegel of Stanford said one frustration is that funding for research is insufficient.

Dr. Susan Folkman, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF, agreed. Her center has received about $10 million from NCCAM in five years to work on about eight projects, including a study on meditation-based stress reduction for HIV patients.

Regardless of research, Spiegel said, demand for these services is growing.

"Two-thirds of Californians use alternative medicine, so we're really into it," he said.

Hopewell, who estimated she's seen a dozen or so patients in two months, is still trying to get the word out about her profession but said there's demand for it and that licensing will help.

"I was able to come home to the Peninsula because of this law and offer my experience to Californians in natural medicine," Hopewell said. "I'm thrilled."

Staff writer Emily Fancher covers county government and health. She can be reached at (650) 306-2428 or efancher@sanmateocountytimes.com.

Lawyers set for hearings on evolution


Posted on Mon, May. 02, 2005

Starting this week, the State Board of Education is holding hearings to help them decide what should be in the new draft of science standards.


The Wichita Eagle

The lawyers representing both sides of this week's evolution hearings agree on one thing: Kansans should pay attention because the hearings could have a profound effect on what the state's children learn.

But don't expect John Calvert and Pedro Irigonegaray to agree on much else after the hearings begin Thursday.

Calvert, the retired corporate lawyer who runs the Intelligent Design Network in Shawnee Mission, sees these hearings as his best chance to expose weaknesses in the theory of evolution.

"The public is going to hear something they haven't heard before," Calvert said.

Irigonegaray, the Topeka trial lawyer who volunteered to defend evolution, sees these hearings as his best chance to expose the ideas behind intelligent design as theology and not science.

"This hearing is a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars...," Irigonegaray said. "Why are we paying these intelligent design believers to come in as carpetbaggers from all over the nation and other countries to tell us how our kids should be taught?"

Irigonegaray may not even use the three days of hearings, May 12-14, set aside for evolution's defense.

"I fully support and am working with the scientists that have boycotted this hearing," he said. "We will not debate evolution with them because it is not the appropriate place to do so, and this is not the way science is debated."

Irigonegaray will submit a list of his witnesses, if any, today.

The six conservative Republican members of the State Board of Education decided to hold these hearings to help them decide what should be included in the new draft of science standards that spell out what Kansas students should learn.

Three of the conservative board members -- Steve Abrams, Kathy Martin and Connie Morris -- will lead the hearings as part of the board's science subcommittee.

Abrams, of Arkansas City, said he hopes the hearings will yield useful information the board can use.

"And I hope that citizens across the state will gain a better understanding of science," said Abrams, who is the board's chairman.

The board's four moderate members object to the hearings, but were outvoted.

Carol Rupe, a moderate from Wichita, said she doesn't plan to attend the hearings and views them as a waste of time.

"They can't turn any of the board members into scientists," Rupe said, "and it's scientists that need to decide this, not laymen."

The description of evolution and definition of science are the only controversial subjects in the 107-page standards proposal drafted by a 26-person committee of teachers, professors and doctors.

Most of the standards committee recommends maintaining the expectation that students should know and understand evolution because it is the central theory of biology. But they say students don't have to believe in evolution and teachers should be considerate of students' religious beliefs.

Eight members of the standards writing committee proposed changes to encourage criticism of evolution in what has been called the "minority report."

The first three days of hearings are set aside for that minority group. Calvert will present 23 witnesses and explain why he thinks evolution is a flawed theory.

Many of the witnesses Calvert plans to call are prominent backers of intelligent design -- the inference that certain features of living things, such as DNA, are best explained by an intelligent cause because they are too complicated to have occurred naturally and because no scientific law explains them.

And most of them are affiliated with the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank in Seattle that promotes intelligent design research and encourages criticism of evolution.

Irigonegaray said he plans to ask those witnesses whether they have done any legitimate research on intelligent design and whether it has been submitted to peer-reviewed journals.

The ground rules of the hearings will allow witnesses to make their full presentations without interruption before facing two rounds of questions.

After the witness's presentation, opposing counsel will have half the length of the presentation to ask questions. Then the three board members on the subcommittee will have one-quarter of the length of the presentation to ask questions.

For example, if a witness talks for 40 minutes, the opposing lawyer will have 20 minutes to ask questions and the board members will have 10 minutes.

The state board gave each side a budget of $5,000 for the hearings to pay for witness' travel to Topeka.

Calvert has witnesses coming from as far away as Turkey and Italy and will likely use most of that. Irigonegaray doesn't plan to spend a penny of it.

The state board is in the middle of a scheduled review of state science standards, and will approve new standards as soon as July.

Because conservative Republicans control six of the 10 state board seats, some change is considered likely.

But the standards do not control what is taught because that is a local decision. The incentive to follow state standards is that the state tests are based on the standards.

When conservatives last controlled the board -- in 1999 -- they voted to de-emphasize evolution in the standards, leaving the decision of whether to teach evolution up to local school boards.

That decision earned the state ridicule nationwide and prompted voters to elect a moderate majority to the board. Moderates restored evolution to the standards in the spring of 2001.



What: State Board of Education hearings to examine evolution.

Those who testify will be asked whether the state science standards accomplish the following goal and, if not, what should be done?

Here is the goal the sub-committee plans to use: "A quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological evolution, the curriculum should help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics generate controversy and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."

When: The first three days of hearings Thursday, Friday and Saturday are reserved for critics of evolution to make their case.

The second three days, May 12-14, are reserved for mainstream scientists to defend evolution, though scientists are reluctant to participate.

The hearings are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day.

Where: This week's hearings will be held in the second-floor auditorium of Memorial Hall, 120 S.W. 10th St., Topeka.

The location of the second round of hearings has not been set.

For more information about evolution and state science standards, visit Kansas.com.

Audio recordings of the first day of the hearings will be available online later this week, and a link to that will be included at Kansas.com.

Reach Josh Funk at 268-6573 or jfunk@wichitaeagle.com.

The healing art of reiki hailed as a stress and pain reliever


Article Published: Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 8:15:16 AM MST

By La Rue Novick
Staff writer

Jo Ann Levine was so grief-stricken after her brother died years ago that her body began to shut down. She couldn't sleep or eat. Her liver stopped functioning properly. Rashes covered her body. And her hands were so swollen, she couldn't use them.

Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with the Redlands woman. Then one day, Levine stumbled across someone who said she could help.

Trained in the healing art of reiki, this gentle woman changed Levine's life. After one hourlong session where the woman softly placed her hands on different parts of Levine's body, Levine said she slept restfully for the first time in three months. And when she woke up the next morning, the swelling in her hands was gone and her rashes had disappeared.

"I was elated. For the first time I felt hopeful," said Levine, 47. "I felt like I was going to be able to get on with my life."

Not only did she get on, but she decided to help others. She mastered reiki and opened her own practice in Redlands 16 years ago.

For many, reiki has helped them find relief from athritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, stress, allergies, high blood pressure, heart conditions and chronic pain. Reiki is also purported to enhance personal awareness, promote creativity, strengthen the immune system and clear toxins. More than anything, reiki appears to help people feel a calmness they've never known.

"Reiki allows you to feel what it feels like to have total peace," Levine said.


Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) is a Japanese word that literally means spirit energy. It is based on the idea that cosmic, life-force energy surrounds us and if channeled correctly, can restore balance to the body, enabling it to heal itself on a multitude of levels.

During a reiki session, a reiki practioner (or master) acts as a conduit to this energy and gently places his or her hands over or on the client's eyes, ears and other parts of the body, usually in a specific sequence starting with the crown of the head. Reiki can be used in massage therapy or other modalities, but a reiki session involves no massage only touch.

In a quiet setting with music playing softly in the background, a reiki practitioner works his or her way along the client's fully-clothed body. Sometimes the practitioner will feel blockages of energy or stagnant energy and his or her hands will linger over those areas longer until the energy is sufficiently moving again.

"We don't diagnose. We are not responsible for the healing," reiki master and teacher Veronica Dougherty of Ontario said. "We're just responsible for holding the space of unconditional love so (clients) can heal themselves."

Each practitioner senses something different when conducting reiki. Some feel the energy as flowing water; others feel heat. And some visualize colors or images. It's an intuition that grows with training and time, Dougherty explained.


Society today is high tech, low touch, Dougherty said.

"We spend so much time with technology that it takes us away from our own humanity," she said.

Studies show babies will die if they're not held in the early days of their lives. Adults may not die, but if left alone and untouched, they could become ill.

"The bottom line is that touch is very important," Dougherty said.

She's not the only one who thinks so.

Heather Stevning, a hypnotherapist and yoga instructor in Redlands who used to perform traditional reiki, said human touch is so important that everyone should all be more comfortable doing hands-on kind of work. But she believes it doesn't have to be reiki. Reiki is just a method people can use, she said.


The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, places reiki with biofield medicine, which involves systems that use subtle energy fields in and around the body for medical purposes. Other systems include therapeutic touch (or touch therapy) and qi gong, a self-healing art that combines movement and meditation.

According to the federal government branch of alternative medicine, reiki research isn't sufficient to prove its efficacy. But it mentions on its Web site that there is impressive anecdotal evidence that reiki does work for some.

Anastasia Bogomolova, a molecular biologist and reiki practitioner in Tampa, Fla., put together a listing of available research about reiki on her Web site, www.reikimedresearch.com. "The research is not enough to convince doctors, but patients are using it (reiki) anyway," Bogomolova said.

Care Alternatives Hospice in Ontario has a number of volunteers with experience in reiki, massage, music or pet therapy who help ease the passing of those who are dying. "Reiki is a very gentle method of touch therapy. Patients respond to it very well," said Hilda McCoy, a registered nurse and corporate volunteer director for Care Alternatives Hospice, headquartered in New Jersey.

Of course, there are always the skeptics. A Time magazine columnist recently criticized a British hospital for hiring a full-time reiki practioner, saying reiki is nothing but quackery.

But those treated by reiki are offended by that assertion.

"The only thing I know is I won't deny my own experience," said Mickey Ridgway, 66, of Ontario. "It doesn't have anything to do with faith or belief. You just know what you know."

Ridgway learned of reiki at her church and felt called to it. She began taking a class taught by Dougherty at InnerWorks Wellness Center in Upland.

"When I took the first class, such a shift happened in my life. Truly," Ridgway said. "It was amazing."

Before she started reiki, she suffered excruciating arthritis in her hip and other joints. Now, she rarely has pain.

"I used to wake up every morning and wonder what little pain I was going to have to put up with that day and I just don't do that anymore," Ridgway said.

She also noticed that she became softer and more calm.

Pat Pruden, 68, of Claremont had taken a toxic medication that forced her to use an oxygen tank just to breathe. She discovered reiki, and after some sessions with Dougherty, she recovered quickly and no longer needs the oxygen.

"The biggest change," she said, "is feeling at peace and feeling healthier."

Reiki benefits the practitioners as well. They often perform reiki on themselves at home, in the car, anywhere by placing their hands on their own bodies in specific places. This not only helps them physically, mentally and spiritually, but it makes them better conduits for others.

"Life happens, but we have a tool that we own that can restore us," said reiki master Kristi Coulter, 25, of Fontana, "so that we are working from a place of wholeness."

And when they work on others, practitioners say they feel rejuvenated, enlivened and at peace.

For most reiki practitioners, reiki encompasses the healing power of love.

"It opens your heart. It's an energy of love and love heals all. There are many energetic practices out there, but reiki focuses on the energy of the heart for the highest good (for everyone involved)," Dougherty said.

Reiki practioners say everyone has an inherent healer inside them and reiki merely awakens it.

"Everyone has the gift, we've just forgotten it," said Coulter, who teaches reiki at Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga. "It's just a matter of remembering."

Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) is two Japanese words put together: rei, which means spirit; and ki, which means energy. Some interpret the definition as spiritually guided life-force energy.

Reiki's origins stem back 2,500 years to the Tibetan monks who practiced this healing form of touch for centuries before it was lost. A Japanese monk educator, Dr. Mikao Usui, went in search of ways to heal the sick. He found some answers in the ancient doctrines of life (the sutras) of the Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Usui learned the method, called it reiki, and brought it back to Japan in the late 1800s. He healed many people before passing his learning to Dr. Churgiro Hayashi, a Japanese physician. The history isn't quite clear, but either Usui or Hayashi taught reiki to a Hawaiin woman named Madame Tanaka who is credited with bringing the practice to the United States.

Usui included five ethical principles of reiki in his training: Just for today, do not worry. Just for today, do not anger. Honor your parents, teachers and elders. Earn your living honestly. Show gratitude to every living thing.

La Rue Novick



Release Date: May 2, 2005

By Lise Stevens, Contributing Writer
Health Behavior News Service

Milk thistle, a widely used alternative medicine, is not proven effective in lowering mortality in alcoholic or hepatitis B or C liver disease, according to a systematic review of current evidence.

While some studies found that liver-related mortality may be significantly reduced in patients treated with milk thistle, these findings were not duplicated in the higher quality clinical trials.

However, milk thistle was found safe to us with no serious side effects and with participants perceiving improvement in symptoms although no more than with placebo.

Dr. Andrea Rambaldi, visiting researcher at the of the Centre for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University Hospital, led a team that reviewed 13 randomized clinical trials involving 915 patients who were treated with milk thistle or its extracts.

Participants had acute or chronic alcoholic liver cirrhosis, liver fibrosis, hepatitis and/or steatosis, and viral-induced liver disease (hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C). Patients with rarer specific forms of liver disease were excluded.

All the trials compared the efficacy of milk thistle or any milk thistle constituent versus placebo or no intervention in patients with liver disease. "There is no evidence supporting or refuting milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases," the authors found.

The review appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, and 2 billion are infected with hepatitis B.

While a vaccine exists to prevent hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Although the virus can be cleared in a handful of patients, many strains are resistant to treatment. Drug therapies that focus on long-term suppression of the virus are expensive, and many patients develop a resistance. The current gold standard treatment, which combines injections of interferon and ribavirin, has serious side effects and is hard for patients to tolerate.

With lack of effective treatment for liver disease, researchers have been looking for alternative therapies that curb symptoms with minimum adverse effects on patients.

Milk thistle and its extracts have been used since the time of ancient Greece for medicinal purposes, are currently widely used in Europe for liver disease, and are readily available in the United States at alternative medicine outlets and outdoor markets.

G. Thomas Strickland, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has been studying the role of silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, in preventing complications of chronic hepatitis virus infection. Strickland says that the exact mechanism of action of silymarin is unclear.

A problem with current trials, according to Dr. Strickland, is that the dose of silymarin administered, typically 140 mg three times daily, is too low. "I would certainly double it," he says, "especially since at the current dose we're not seeing any improvement in acute viral or chronic hepatitis, and we've shown that silymarin is totally safe."

" The problem is, there is no cure for viral hepatitis except bed rest and diet, and treatments like silymarin are worth pursuing," Strickland says, calling for more research funding.

" We should consider doing randomized clinical trials with higher doses of silymarin," Dr. Rambaldi concurs.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine , a part of the National Institutes of Health, studies in laboratory animals suggest that silymarin may benefit the liver by promoting the growth of certain types of liver cells, demonstrating a protective effect, fighting oxidation (a chemical process that damages cells) and inhibiting inflammation.

In their review, Dr. Rambaldi and colleagues conclude, "Milk thistle could potentially affect alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases. Therefore, large-scale randomized clinical trials on milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases versus placebo may be needed."

Rambaldi A, Jacobs BP, Iaquinto G, Gluud C. Milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit, independent organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health care interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. Visit http://www.cochrane.org for more information.

Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or www.hbns.org.

Center for the Advancement of Health
Contact: Ira R. Allen
Vice President of Public Affairs

Concern that vaccines might cause harm most common reason why parents don't immunize


Child Health News
Published: Monday, 2-May-2005

Concern that vaccines might cause harm was the most common reason given by parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated for preventable diseases, according to an article in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The number of parents of school-age children claiming non-medical exemptions from vaccination requirements has been increasing for the last decade in a number of states, according to background information in the article. Children with exemptions are at a greater risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases and may transmit those diseases to children who are too young to yet be vaccinated, people who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons and people who fail to develop protective responses to vaccines. Further, according to the authors, these susceptible children with exemptions tend to be geographically clustered, contributing to the possibility of disease outbreaks.

Daniel A. Salmon, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues surveyed parents of exempt school children and randomly selected parents of fully vaccinated children from the same grade schools. The survey was designed to determine why parents claim non-medical exemptions and to explore differences in perceptions of vaccines and vaccine information sources between parents of exempt and fully vaccinated children. The surveys were mailed to parents in four states, Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri and Washington, which allow exemption to vaccination for non-medical reasons. The survey asked questions about parental attitudes on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the chance that vaccines might cause harm, their trust in government, public health and medical sources of information on vaccines and their confidence in alternative medicine professionals.

Sixty-nine percent of the parents of the 277 children with exemptions stated that a reason for seeking exemptions was concern that vaccines cause harm. Parents of exempt children were significantly more likely to report low perceived vaccine safety and effectiveness and a low level of trust in the government. They were likely to have a low perception of their children's susceptibility to vaccine-preventable diseases and not to regard those diseases as dangerous. Parents of exempt children were significantly less likely to report confidence in medical, public health and government sources for vaccines information and were more likely to report confidence in alternative medicine professionals than parents of vaccinated children. Most children with exemptions (75.5 percent) had received at least some vaccine, the researchers found, with vaccination for varicella (chicken pox) most often missed (53.1 percent).

"The rates of exemptions are increasing in many states; the concerns of parents with exemptions may also apply to parents who have nonetheless decided to vaccinate their children," the authors write. "To maintain the public health benefit of immunizations, continued efforts must be made to educate the public. Many of the vaccine concerns identified among parents can be addressed through discussions with health care professionals and public vaccine information campaigns."


Transcendental Meditation extends lifespan


02 May 2005

The American Journal of Cardiology reports in its May 2, 2005, issue that the Transcendental Meditation technique, a non-drug stress-reduction method, reduces death rates by 23% and extends lifespan.

The first-of-its-kind, long-term, randomized trial evaluated 202 men and women, average age 71, who had mildly elevated blood pressure. Subjects in the study participated in the Transcendental Meditation program; behavioral techniques, such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation; or health education. The study tracked subjects for up to 18 years. Vital statistics were obtained from the National Death Index.

The study found that compared to combined controls, the TM group showed:

-- 23% reduction in the rate of death from all causes

-- 30% reduction in the rate of death from cardiovascular disease

-- 49% reduction in the rate of death from cancer

Transcendental Meditation Reduces Risk Factors in Heart Disease

"Research has found the Transcendental Meditation program reduces risk factors in heart disease and other chronic disorders, such as high blood pressure, smoking, psychological stress, stress hormones, harmful cholesterol, and atherosclerosis," said Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, principal author of the study and director of the Center of Natural Medicine and Prevention.

"These reductions slow the aging process and promote the long-term reductions in death rates."

Researchers collaborated on the study from Harvard, University of Iowa, Medical College of Georgia, West Oakland Health Center, and Maharishi University of Management. The study was funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Interviews and b-roll are available.

The Center of Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, was established by an $8 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, to serve as a Specialized Center for Research and to study natural medicine in relation to cardiovascular disease in minority populations.

American Journal of Cardiology to publish study on May 2 - PDF

Contact: Steven Yellin
Maharishi University of Management, Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition

Evolution on trial as Kansas debates Adam vs Darwin


02 May 2005 12:00:40 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Carey Gillam

TOPEKA, Kan, May 2 (Reuters) - Evolution is going on trial in Kansas.

Eighty years after a famed courtroom battle in Tennessee pitted religious beliefs about the origins of life against the theories of British scientist Charles Darwin, Kansas is holding its own hearings on what school children should be taught about how life on Earth began.

The Kansas Board of Education has scheduled six days of courtroom-style hearings to begin on Thursday in the capitol Topeka. More than two dozen witnesses will give testimony and be subject to cross-examination, with the majority expected to argue against teaching evolution.

Many prominent U.S. scientific groups have denounced the debate as founded on fallacy and have promised to boycott the hearings, which opponents say are part of a larger nationwide effort by religious interests to gain control over government.

"I feel like I'm in a time warp here," said Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray who has agreed to defend evolution as valid science. "To debate evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round. It is an absurd proposition."


Irigonegaray's opponent will be attorney John Calvert, managing director of the Intelligent Design Network, a Kansas organization that argues the Earth was created through intentional design rather than random organism evolution.

The group is one of many that have been formed over the last several years to challenge the validity of evolutionary concepts and seek to open the schoolroom door to ideas that humans and other living creatures are too intricately designed to have come about randomly.

While many call themselves creationists, who believe that God was the ultimate designer of all life, they are stopping short of saying creationism should be taught in schools.

"We're not against evolution," said Calvert. "But there is a lot of evidence that suggests that life is the product of intelligence. I think it is inappropriate for the state to prejudge the question whether we are the product of design or just an occurrence."

Debates over evolution are currently being waged in more than a dozen states, including Texas where one bill would allowing for creationism to be taught alongside evolution.

Kansas has been grappling with the issue for years, garnering worldwide attention in 1999 when the state school board voted to downplay evolution in science classes.

Subsequent elections altered the membership of the school board and led to renewed backing for evolution instruction in 2001. But elections last year gave religious conservatives a 6-4 majority and the board is now finalizing new science standards, which will guide teachers about how and what to teach students.

The current proposal pushed by conservatives would not eliminate evolution entirely from instruction, nor would it require creationism be taught, but it would encourage teachers to discuss various viewpoints and eliminate core evolution claims as required curriculum.

School board member Sue Gamble, who describes herself as a moderate, said she will not attend the hearings, which she calls "a farce." She said the argument over evolution is part of a larger agenda by Christian conservatives to gradually alter the legal and social landscape in the United States.

"I think it is a desire by a minority... to establish a theocracy, both within Kansas and growing to a national level," Gamble said.


Some evolution detractors say that the belief that humans, animals and organisms evolved over long spans of time is inconsistent with Biblical teachings that life was created by God. The Bible's Old Testament says that God created life on Earth including the first humans, Adam and Eve, in six days.

Detractors also argue that evolution is invalid science because it cannot be tested or verified and say it is inappropriately being indoctrinated into education and discouraging consideration of alternatives.

But defenders say that evolution is not totally inconsistent with Biblical beliefs, and it provides a foundational concept for understanding many areas of science, including genetics and molecular biology.

The theory of evolution came to prominence in 1859 when Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," and it was the subject of a 1925 trial in Tennessee in which teacher John Thomas Scopes was accused of violating a ban against teaching evolution.

Kansas School Board chairman Steve Abrams said the hearings are less about religion than they are about seeking the best possible education for the state's children.

"If students... do not understand the weaknesses of evolutionary theory as well as the strengths, a grave injustice is being done to them," Abrams said.

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