Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
By Paul Nussbaum
Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted on Mon, May. 30, 2005
Can God and evolution coexist?
For many evangelical Christians, the debate over teaching evolution in public schools touches a vital spiritual nerve. Some see evolution as a path to perdition, while others see it as a crowning example of God's handiwork.
A legal battle in Dover, Pa., over the teaching of evolution and "intelligent design" has focused new attention on the issue, as have recent proposals in Kansas to change how evolution is taught there.
For David Wilcox, a biology professor at Eastern University, an evangelical college in St. Davids, the challenge is to teach students that it's possible to embrace evolution "without intellectual schizophrenia."
"Frequently, they've been taught that evolution is another way of saying atheism, and they just shut it out," said Wilcox, author of God and Evolution: A Faith-Based Understanding. "They say, 'Why do I have to learn this stuff - don't you know that God hates science?' "
"We have to make them wake up and smell the coffee. God doesn't hate science - he invented it. We try to get them to see that evolution happened and it's not so scary... that evolution is the way God did it."
"Evolutionary theists" such as Wilcox are part of a broader effort by the scientific establishment to defend evolution against advocates of creationism, "intelligent design," and other concepts that challenge all or parts of the theory of natural selection.
Evangelical Christians, sometimes portrayed as monolithic in their opposition to evolution, are as divided as much of the rest of the nation.
"No topic in the world of science and Christianity has created the intensity of discussion and disharmony with evangelicals as the source of biological diversity," says the American Scientific Affiliation, an organization of scientists who are Christians. "Today's spirited discussion often pits Christian vs. Christian and scientist vs. scientist."
The nation's leading science organizations and the vast majority of scientists accept the theory of evolution as the explanation for the origin of all living things, but Americans in general are much less convinced.
Offered three explanations for the origin of humans in a CBS News/New York Times poll six months ago, 13 percent of respondents said they believed "we evolved from less-advanced life-forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process." Twenty-seven percent believed "we evolved from less-advanced life-forms over millions of years, but God guided this process." And 55 percent believed "God created us in our present form." The poll, which questioned 885 people, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Evangelicals who are "young Earth" fundamentalists dismiss evolution and subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, believing Earth is less than 10,000 years old. They often see the teaching of evolution as undermining Christianity and paving the way to immorality.
"What you believe about where you came from directly affects your worldview," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a fundamental creationist organization that is building a 50,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. "If you can use man's ideas to reinterpret the book of Genesis, then why not use man's ideas to reinterpret morality?"
One of the newest wrinkles in a debate that has percolated ever since Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859 is "intelligent design." That is the concept at the heart of the battle in Dover, 25 miles south of Harrisburg.
Eleven parents have filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Dover school board from requiring biology teachers to present "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution. The parents say intelligent design is a religious argument and teaching it violates a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against teaching creationism as science.
Intelligent design holds that natural selection cannot explain all of the complex developments observed in nature and that an unspecified intelligent designer must be involved. Its adherents say it is a scientific, not a religious, concept based on scientific observations, although they acknowledge its theological implications.
Michael Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem and the author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, is an intelligent-design proponent and is scheduled to be one of the expert witnesses for the Dover school board when the case goes to trial in the fall.
He says religion is "clearly why [intelligent design] evokes such emotion... . People think it will support their religious views. It's not just another issue of science. If it were, no one would care."
Christian supporters of evolution say intelligent design, while rejecting "young Earth" beliefs, seems to require periodic intervention by the designer.
Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University, is a Catholic and an ardent proponent of evolution and opponent of intelligent design. The author of Finding Darwin's God, he is to be an expert witness for the parents in the Dover case.
"I think there is a God, and he is the creator of the universe," Miller said. "But the God of the intelligent-design movement is way too small... . In their view, he designed everything in the world and yet he repeatedly intervenes and violates the laws of his own creation.
"Their God is like a kid who is not a very good mechanic and has to keep lifting the hood and tinkering with the engine."
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as in most states, school districts are required to teach evolution as part of the science curriculum.
In Pennsylvania, "school districts may inform students of the existence of particular religious viewpoints when the information in conveyed for a secular and educational purpose and is presented objectively," according to Bethany Yenner, an Education Department spokeswoman. "Under no circumstance may an educator or a school district offer opinions on religious viewpoints."
In New Jersey, students "could look at how a variety of religions view a scientific theory," noted Jon Zlock, an Education Department spokesman. "Obviously, more than one religious viewpoint should be explored. It should be done objectively. One religious point of view should not be stressed above others."
Many evangelical Protestants, like many Catholics and other Christians, argue that faith and science complement each other and need not collide over evolution.
The scientific establishment is stepping up its efforts to present evolution as something apart from, not a threat to, religion.
"It's not science vs. religion - that misses the point entirely," said Jay Labov, senior adviser for education and communication for the National Academy of Sciences. "Science cannot begin to look into the supernatural. That's beyond the realm of science."
The president of the National Academy, Bruce Alberts, sent a letter in March to all members of the academy, urging them "to confront the increasing challenges to the teaching of evolution in public schools; your help may be needed in your state soon."
The academy has gathered the signatures of more than 4,000 Christian clergy, including evangelicals, supporting evolution as "a foundational scientific truth." The clergy, in the letter, "ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth."
But more collisions between the two seem certain.
"If you think there are issues with school boards now, there are going to be a lot more," said Ham, of Answers in Genesis. "Wait till we get the museum finished - you haven't seen anything yet."
Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tom Barrett (05/30/05)
Would you be surprised to know that millions of scientists around the world do not blindly accept Darwin's THEORY of evolution? Would it shock you to know that many of these professors and researchers are not religious, but they embrace the theory of Intelligent Design, which holds that our intricate universe could not have come about by chance? Would it blow you away to find that Albert Einstein was one of them?
It is well documented that these famous scientists strongly disagreed on this important question. It is also well known that they, along with all credible scientists throughout history, strongly believed that all theories should be heard, all should be tested, and none should be ridiculed. This is the only way that science itself can be credible.
Yet many politically active scientists today are desperately maneuvering to censor any mention of the theory of Intelligent Design in our schools, textbooks and media. Their accomplices in this blatant censorship are liberal politicians, atheists, most of the media and the national teacher's union (the Nation Education Association or NEA).
Darwin's theory is just that - a theory. It has never been proven, and cannot be proven. But the censors mentioned above want Darwin's THEORY taught as FACT, and they want no other theories even mentioned.
Einstein is just one of millions of prominent scientists over the years that have supported the theory of Intelligent Design, but he is perhaps the best known. In an article in "Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium," (see LINK below) Einstein said, "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
In the last paragraph of his essay, "The World as I See It," Einstein wrote, "I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence - as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature." While Einstein referred to the Designer as "Reason" rather than "God," his writings make it very clear that he believed that an intelligent Designer crafted our universe and all that is within it.
On the other hand, Darwin postulated that all life somehow crawled out of primordial ooze and miraculously became differentiated as mammals, reptiles, fish, fowl and so on. It seems that such a far-fetched theory would require much more faith than simply believing that God did what He said He did inGenesis: He created everything according to His plan.
On page 293 of his book, "The Origin of the Species," Darwin stated that his THEORY would ultimately be proven by the fossil record. This has never happened. If the theory were true, at least some of the millions of fossils discovered by scientists would have provided a "missing link", a fossil that was clearly part one species as well as part another. Although there have been several attempts over the years to fake evidence to prove Darwin's theory, the "missing link" has never been found.
Scientists in China have discovered ancient bacteria that cast doubt on Darwin's theory, and have published papers stating this. One of them, Jian Yuan Chan, said, "In China, we can criticize Darwin, but we cannot criticize the government. In the US you can criticize the government, but you cannot criticize Darwin."
The issue of Intelligent Design came to national attention recently because of an ongoing debate in Dover, Pennsylvania. (See LINK, "What's the Big Secret?" below.) The school board in Dover announced a year ago that high-school biology teachers would inform their students that other theories existed besides evolution. A New York Times article states, "A statement is read to biology students asserting that Darwin's theory 'is not a fact,' urging them 'to keep an open mind' and pointing them to the seminal book on intelligent design, 'Of Pandas and People.' Students are allowed to leave class when it is read."
Of course Dover liberals are incensed. They want to hide from the children the fact that other valid theories are accepted by large portions of the scientific community. They are not satisfied that students are allowed to leave class during the short statement. They want the discussion to be held (if at all) in humanities classes. Of course this would send a clear signal to students that the theory is unscientific; otherwise, why would it not be discussed in science classes?
It should be noted that many proponents of Intelligent Design are not religious; they are simply intellectually honest scientists who see the flaws in evolutionary theory. Without calling the Designer "God", they recognize that the complex organisms that populate our universe could not have resulted from anything other than systematic design by an intelligent being. Unfortunately, these scientists are hounded by their evolutionist peers, often losing their jobs because of their beliefs.
Scientists who would censor or intimidate others with differing theories are not worthy of the title "Scientist." A Wall Street Journal Editorial (see LINK below) recently exposed the decades-long persecution of scientists who support the theory of Intelligent Design (ID). It used as an example a scientist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Richard Steinberg. Steinberg, who holds two PhD's in biology, was the editor of a Museum publication that printed an article on ID which had been reviewed by scientific peers prior to publication. He was demoted and a concerted effort is underway to ruin his career.
Steinberg's immediate supervisor was asked by top Museum officials, "Is he religious?", as if being religious was something of which he should be ashamed. "Is he a right-wing conservative?" One's political beliefs should not be an issue in the scientific community. But since the great majority of faculty members at US universities are far-left liberals, it is always an issue. The Editorial concludes, "Darwinism.is an essential ingredient in secularism, that aggressive, quasi-religious faith without a deity. The Sternberg case seems, in many ways, an instance of one religion persecuting a rival, demanding loyalty from anyone who enters one of its churches - like the National Museum of Natural History."
The Journal Editor got it right. Darwinism stems from dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism. Communism/socialism is a religion that demands blind faith and obedience. Darwinism is an offshoot of that false religion. It, too, demands blind faith, and its disciples persecute anyone who believes differently.
Our children deserve better than being brainwashed by their schools into believing a false religion is based on fact. They deserve to be told that evolution is nothing more than a theory that has never been proven, and allowed to consider alternatives to that theory.
What's the Big Secret?
Wall Street Journal Editorial Exposes Witch Hunt in Scientific Community
Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center
Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution
A Finely-Tuned Universe: What Are the Odds?
The World As I See It- An Essay by Albert Einstein
Newsweek: Intelligent Design, "A NEW Idea"! Or is it?
Science, Philosophy and Religion, a Symposium
Tom Barrett has been an ordained minister for 30 years. He has written for local and national publications for most of his life, and has authored several non-fiction books. He has been interviewed on many TV and radio programs, and speaks at seminars nationwide. Tom is the editor and publisher of Conservative Truth, an email newsletter read by over fifty thousand weekly which focuses on moral and political issues from a Biblical viewpoint.
30/05/2005 - 07:58:51
Actress Brooke Shields has lambasted former pal Tom Cruise for criticising her "misguided" use of drugs to combat her post-natal depression.
Cruise - who claims to have helped people fight drug addictions through his controversial Scientology religion - recently criticised the Suddenly Susan star for becoming dependant on Paxil, following the birth of her daughter Rowan.
But Shields is disgusted by the Top Gun star's "dangerous" comments and took a swipe at his Scientology beliefs, by saying she wouldn't take advice from someone who devotes his life to creatures from outer space.
She fumes: "His comments are dangerous. He should stick to saving the world from aliens.
Shields is currently weaning herself off her medication so she and husband Chris Henchy can have another child.
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© Thomas Crosbie Media, 2005.
To pioneer coverage for alternative medicine next month
BY KERRY MCCATTY email@example.com
Sunday, May 29, 2005
ITS name has been synonymous with health insurance for decades, but on Thursday Blue Cross of Jamaica, which, in the next four months, will be putting on the market series of life insurance products, hinted that it might move more fully into life insurance.
Vice president for marketing and customer service David Garel, said the company, which wants to "increase its presence in the marketplace", was "tiptoeing" in that direction. "We don't want to say too much too soon," he said at the product launch.
Richard Powell and Professor Errol Morrison enjoy a hearty joke at the launch of the Blue Cross of Jamaica's new group life product Thursday. Powell is to be replaced by Morrison as president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross in July. The vacancy was created when Powell took up an offer to run Victoria Mutual Building Society, replacing Karl Wright, who is retiring.
The indication follows new and aggressive movements by other companies to corner the health insurance market, where up to now Blue Cross remains dominant.
The near 50-year-old company, itself an aggressive player, has branded several of its products for interest groups, with policies that are priced at different income streams.
The 2001 Insurance Act, however, changed Blue Cross' classification from a general insurance company to a life insurance company. But the company had still not become wholesale life insurers.
On Thursday, however, Garel said Blue Cross intended to "make full use of the licence."
He was speaking at the launch of the company's first life insurance product - Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) - held at the Hilton Kingston hotel.
Under AD&D, an optional item to be bought with the existing Group Life Insurance Plan, an employee, or his family, is compensated in the event of death or if he loses a limb and becomes disabled.
However, while it is optional, because of its alignment with the Group Life Product, AD&D cannot be bought by itself.
According to Garel, employers buying Group Life for their workers, will have to decide if they want it based on need and cost.
A supervisor at Blue Cross' Kingston headquarters, Moira Peddlar, said that cost will be determined based on the number of employees in a particular group as well as the risk factors of some jobs.
Employees will be compensated from 100 per cent to one per cent of the principal sum based on loss of life, loss of limbs or loss of ears, among other factors.
But AD&D will not be available to people who are self-employed, for instance, as Group Life is only for employee groups of five or more persons.
Additionally, no accelerated death benefit is included in AD&D, in case an employee is suffering from a terminal illness. Garel said, however, that Blue Cross was considering offering such a product.
Meanwhile, Professor Errol Morrison, who takes over from Richard Powell as Blue Cross' president and chief executive in July, said, in less than a month, the company would start providing coverage for the use of alternative medicine.
"Blue Cross will be paying for specific services in alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy," said Morrison, adding that Blue Cross would be the first Jamaican insurance company to provide such a service. "Our competition won't even know what hit them," he said.
Citing studies that indicate that the use of alternative medicine is rising, he said patients were unwisely mixing alternative cures with other evidence-based medicine- those which have traditionally been proven to treat particular ailments.
A registered physician will have to certify the patient's need for alternative medicine and Blue Cross will, upon the recommendation of that doctor, pay for the services of the alternative medicine provider. Morrison added that diet counselling and psychological care will also be covered based on the same process.
He said, however, that bush medicine, one of the most widely-used forms of alternative medicine in Jamaica, would not be covered anytime soon, as there is not enough evidence that it works.
"Alternative medicine is new. Let us not put our heads in the sand, let us work with it," Morrison said.
WASHINGTON, DC, May. 29 (UPI) -- An anti-evolution group has announced plans to screen a documentary at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
The Discovery Institute, a Seattle group that supports the "intelligent design" creationist theory, said on its Web site the group and museum operators "are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception" June 23 for the movie, "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe," the New York Times reported Sunday.
However, museum spokesman Randall Kremer said the event should not be taken as support for the views expressed in the film.
"It is incorrect for anyone to infer that we are somehow endorsing the video or the content of the video," he said. He said the museum allows organizations and corporations to use its Baird Auditorium in return for contributions. The Discovery Institute has given $16,000 to the museum.
The documentary, based on a 2004 book by Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State University, and Jay W. Richards, a vice president of the Discovery Institute, argues an intelligent being created the Earth and universe.
Copyright 2005 United Press International
By Mustafa Akyol Published 05/26/2005
"All truth passes through three stages," Arthur Schopenhauer declared. "First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
As a proponent of the Intelligent Design (ID) theory, nowadays I am witnessing the first two stages simultaneously. And most recently I owe this to, among many others, Mr. Robert McHenry, who waged a powerful attack on ID and ID theorists in his recent TCS piece, Intelligent Decline.
Although the attack was adroit -- and enjoyable to read -- its arguments are not convincing. The scientists and thinkers who defend ID have fielded and effectively countered similar critiques many times over the past years. But since their responses have not infrequently fallen on deaf ears, let me re-explain them briefly.
Before commencing, however, perhaps I should say that I acknowledge and respect the intention of Mr. McHenry. His concern seems to be with keeping science separate from religion, and that is fully justified -- mixing the two has resulted in pretty unpleasant episodes in history. Yet we, the "IDers" as they call us, are not trying to merge faith into science. What we are trying to do is actually rescue science from a monopoly of a secular faith called materialism, whose application to biology is called Darwinism.
In a nutshell, Intelligent Design is the theory that argues life on Earth is the product of natural laws, chance and intelligence. Darwinism, on the other hand, accepts only the first two causes, because, according to materialist philosophy, intelligence does not exist unless it evolves over time from mindless matter.
The materialist creation story, i.e., Darwinism, could have been true, and if that were the case, we all would have to come to terms with it. Yet whether that story is true or not is a legitimate question to ask. To find a scientific answer, we have to examine the scientific evidence. And when we do so, we find serious flaws in Darwinism, and, moreover, we detect intelligence in the origin of life on Earth.
Many critics of ID wrongly assume that we infer that intelligence from the Bible or the Koran, but in fact we infer it solely from nature. As Mount Rushmore compels an observer to conclude that an intelligent cause was at work there, the "specified complexity" of life points to an intelligent designer.
The identity or purpose of that designer can't be inferred from the evidence. That's why ID theory is silent on this subject, although we ID proponents might have personal opinions based on our philosophical or religious convictions. And that's why Mr. McHenry misses the point when he argues that we "have trained [ourselves] not to be too specific about the Designer" and we "carefully avoid" speaking about God for political purposes. The fact is that we just don't mix science and religion.
Yet Mr. McHenry is not receptive to inferring design from nature at all, and his objection stems from an argument from neophilia. "Philosophically this is old ground," he says and adds a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the work of the 19th century natural theologian William Paley.
Yes, Paley was also arguing for design, but what of it? Non-design is "old ground," too. It dates back to Ancient Greece. As theologian Benjamin Wiker unveils in his book, Moral Darwinism, the first theory of an un-designed and evolving world was developed by Epicurus, the founder hedonism. And his point of reference was not scientific evidence; he simply wanted to get rid of the idea of the divine, which he found disturbing. Epicurus' ideas about nature were later developed by Lucretius and much later by the modern forerunners of Darwin.
Another argument by Mr. McHenry against ID is that it is not "testable." Well, neither is Darwinism. Both theories talk about phenomena many millions, or even billions, of years old and never yet to have been observed occurring. That's why they constitute a specific area of science called "origin science." Also included in this realm is the Big Bang theory, which explains the origin of the universe. We definitely can't observe, test and repeat the Big Bang. We just infer it from the evidence. The same holds for ID, too.
Mr. McHenry also criticizes the reasoning we use to infer design in nature. He finds it intangible and asks, "Has the ID party discovered a scale by which this question [of complexity] can be answered?" The answer is "yes," of course! This is exactly what philosopher and mathematician William A. Dembski addresses in his theoretical work The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities. It is a challenging but must read for all critics and would-be critics of ID.
Yet instead of addressing such cutting edge ID literature, Mr. McHenry refers to an "old ground" idea: the argument from imperfection. Why do we have unpleasant phenomena on Earth, he asks, such as tsunami, death, disease, killer asteroids, etc. Well, to argue that life is designed does not mean that the world is perfect. The Designer might have wished to create imperfections. As Dembski notes, "Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design." Moreover, the handiwork of the Designer might have been devolved due to the effects of natural laws and chance. (Oh yes, they cause devolution, not much of an evolution. See thermodynamics.)
Thus, the designer-should-have-done-better argument does not refute ID. But it does something else: It shows that it is the critics of ID, not its proponents, who bring philosophy and theology into a scientific controversy. The nature, ability and intention of the Designer are issues relating to philosophy and theology -- not science -- and just look who is bringing them to the science table.
Another problem in Mr. McHenry's piece is that he attaches to us some arguments that we don't make. We don't say, for example, "We don't know this yet; therefore, it is unknowable." As biochemist Mike Behe, the leading theorist of ID, repeatedly emphasizes, ID is not based on what we do not know. Rather, it is based on what we have learned in the recent decades.
Actually it is members of the Darwinian camp who employ arguments from ignorance: "We don't know how this evolved, but it must have been somehow" is the kind of answer they give to many complex questions such as the origin of life, biochemical systems, genetic code or the animal phyla. What we find curious is why they ardently presume that every unsolved puzzle will definitely be solved through a materialistic explanation. The only reason is "an a priori commitment to materialism," as the arch-Darwinist Richard Lewontin famously acknowledged a few years ago.
Once we replace the commitment to materialism with the commitment to objectivity, ID will be a very plausible explanation for biological origins.
Plausible for whom? one might ask. For the already converted? The Hallelujah choir and the mosque crowd? I don't think so. And one notable figure who would agree is the ex-arch-atheist Anthony Flew. After several decades of fierce resistance against Design, the famous British philosopher recently came to the third stage that Schopenhauer describes: He considered Design as self-evident.
Perhaps, just perhaps, one day Mr. McHenry can come to the same conclusion, too. The only thing needed is to follow the evidence where it leads. That is what we "IDers" do.
And this path, indeed, does not "decline" us and soak us into mud to turn into "mud man," as Mr. McHenry depicts us. But it does bring down upon us a lot of such ad hominem attacks. This is bearable because we know that Civilization -- including the Western one -- advances through people who stand for truth in the wake of fierce intimidation and opposition.
That very ferocity, in fact, displays nothing but the dogmatism of ID-haters. I hope Mr. McHenry will reconsider and decline to decline to such a poverty-stricken level of the intellect.
Mustafa Akyol is a Muslim writer from Turkey. He has spoken about Intelligent Design in several universities in the UK and US and has recently testified to the Kansas State Education board.
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A headmaster of a Protestant school has agreed to stay at home for a few days after causing a stir by his insistence his teachers adhere to the Christian theory of Creationism. Peter Boon of Augustinus College in the northern city of Groningen said in an interview with newspaper "Dagblad van het Noorden" earlier this week he could not tolerate one of his teachers telling a class he was a supporter of the Theory of Evolution.
News agency ANP reported that many of the teachers in the school disagree with this and believe that the Theory of Evolution can go hand-in-hand with the Christian view on how life — and humans in particular — has developed.
During a staff meeting, some teachers indicated to Boon they felt offended and as if they were not been taken seriously. As a result of the meeting, Boon he will create a "cooling off period" by staying away from the school until Tuesday. Monday is a holiday in the Netherlands. Boon issued a statement on Thursday in which he indicated he regretted his remarks to the paper because the subtleties of his argument had been lost. He said that a teacher cannot simply state to his or her class that man descended from an ape. "People have to explain how evolution theory relates to Christian belief," Boon said. Boon said he had the utmost confidence he could continue discussions with his staff about the question. "As a school, you continually ask yourself questions. I am convinced we shall find the road to wisdom," he added. Apart from his job as head of Augustinus College, Boon is an active member of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrat party (CDA). Boon is a former alderman of Ten Boer municipality and vice-chairman of the provincial board of the CDA.
"The Theory of Evolution is incomplete"
"Faith or evolution? Minister Van der Hoeven wants debate. 'There is so much we don't know yet'."
Dutch paper "De Volkskrant" - 21 may 2005
Interview by Michael Persson and Ben van Raaij
The debate on the theory of evolution has flared up again. In the American state of Kansas hearings are taking place on Intelligent Design (ID), the notion that life is the product of an intelligent designer. In the Netherlands there is debate on Islam and evolution and on the curriculum in christian schools. Time for a talk with minister Van der Hoeven, who recently commented favorably on ID in her weblog - which resulted in her having to answer questions on the subject in Parliament.
The minister wants to make one thing clear in advance: "I don't intend to intervene in the secondary education curriculum. But I can't avoid the conclusion that religious viewpoints often elicit a negative reaction. Now that scientific investigations expand the boundaries of our knowledge again and again, I feel that new knowledge and new and different viewpoints should be treated with respect. I disapprove of people totally condemning each other's points of view".
- We take it that you are referring to the conflict between faith and evolution?
"Life is billions of years old, and it is clear to see that evolution has occurred. But we also have to acknowledge the fact that the Theory of Evolution is not yet complete, and that new discoveries are still being made. Should I take an official position on this in my capacity as a member of government? No, but one should have an open ear and eye for different points of view. I consider it important that scientists can debate this without immediately assuming an 'I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong'-attitude".
- How are you going to handle this?
She gets out a writing-book with her own notes. "I have considered this. How do you handle this in such a multi-religious and multi-scientific society? In any case, what I intend to do is to host a hearing on this topic in my department. I intend to invite people like Piet Borst [M.D.] and [the biologist] Ronald Plasterk, but also Cees Dekker [nanotechnologist and ID-supporter http://www.mb.tn.tudelft.nl/user/dekker/index.html ] and representatives of various religions. I am strongly in favour of people becoming acquainted with one anothers' ideas".
- You are creating the impression that there is in fact a debate - one which isn't running smoothly.
"An example. Ten years ago there was a certain amount of commotion about questions in the high school Biology final exams in which it was implied that the Theory of Evolution was the only theory we have on the history of the origins and development of life. The answer, then, was: we don't have all the answers yet. That debate is rearing its head again now. As a member of the government you shouldn't close your eyes to that. You shouldn't take a specific position, but you should know what the issues are, bring people together. Especially now that there is the risk of extreme positions being taken up".
- But, by doing so, aren't you in fact encouraging such extremist positions? In Islamic schools, for example?
"They do in fact strongly support the idea that evolution doesn't exist. At the same time, schools with a non-denominational background say: the theory of evolution that we have today is what it's all about. Now look, of course that's never going to lead to an inter-cultural dialog. That debate must be given its place in science".
- But does that debate belong in Biology class, or in Comparative Religion class?
"We prefer for young people to become acquainted with different views. That is laid down in our education standards. It is part of your development to adulthood that you get to hear ideas from different vantage points: he believes such-and-such, or: this is the scientific state-of-the-art".
- But faith and science are separate domains, aren't they?
"Well, if I listen to Cees Dekker ..."
- Dekker publishes in Nature on his quest in search of biological building blocks, but never on ID.
"And yet, he is willing to accept that there is more than just these self-developing building blocks. He is searching for ... a pattern. We are all searching for patterns. That is the major challenge at this moment. In the history of science there have often been moments that we thought that we knew pretty much all there was to know. Now we realize that we don't know everything yet, not by a long way".
- And you believe that science could conceivably come round to the creation concept of ID?
"You never know where that quest wil end. There's no predicting that".
- Scientists prefer to keep faith and science well apart.
"I regret that. Science is compartmentalized. But the forte of science is acknowledging other people's science as such, even if it's not your field of expertise. If there are different views on evolution, we should place them side by side. That is the level on which I want to conduct this debate".
- Back to the theory of Evolution in secondary education.
"Our education standards call for young people to be presented with a wide range of viewpoints. They are supposed to become acquainted with each other's culture and religion. That applies to schools of every denomination, public [i.e. non-denominational] schools included. How exactly they implement that is for them to decide. I am not laying down the law on that".
- In the United States attempts are being made to establish ID firmly as an integral part of the education system.
"You won't hear me say that I want my views to be established as part of the educational system, and that I should want the theory of evolution removed - absolutely not. But I do feel that you can, and should, trigger young people's curiosity".
- Even in Universities?
"I know that right now there is a debate going on with Muslim students who say: I don't believe evolution at all. Universities should engage in that debate. Religious feelings are very deep-seated. You need to make allowance for that, everyone's entitled to that".
Original Source - (registration needed)
(source - Dutch NOS TeleText-TV saterday 21 may 2005 http://teletekst.nos.nl/tekst/100-01.html )
Europe, The Netherlands - HILVERSUM The CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal)-party has no feeling at all for the idea of party-member Minister Van der Hoeven to organise a nation-wide-debat about the evolution-theory and the mankind-creation-thought. The Minister has feelings for a tendency which suspects a conscience / aware design behind mankind-creation. She wants to let scientists and religious-believers to go in debate with each other at her ministry. CDA and the political-rightwing-party VVD are in the opinion that such a debate should not be initiated by the Minister. Biologist Plasterk (**) does not want to know anything of sych a meeting. He finds that Van der Hoeven with this plan shows that she can not seperate Church and State.
[ ** Note - Ronald HA Plasterk - Netherlands Cancer Institute Division of Molecular Biology ]
Minister Maria van der Hoeven
(1) Quote - " I am convinced that we are on earth with a mission from God"
(source Dutch EO interview - http://www.eo.nl/portals/themes/article.jsp?portal=5254965&article=4138955&theme=5278024 )
(2) Curriculum Vitae -
Minister Maria van der Hoeven wants to start an academic discussion about evolution and the idea that there is a 'designer' responsible for life on earth. The results of such a discussion might be added to school curricula. In an interview in de Volkskrant of last Saturday minister Van der Hoeven confirmed this idea, which she wrote about on her own weblog last March. According to the minister "you have to admit that the theory of evolution is incomplete," and that "new things" are discovered all the time. On her weblog she referred to the ideas of the American movement of Intelligent Design, a movement from the 90's that suspects a creator is responsible for life on earth.
The minister wants to organize a discussion next fall with scientists and supporters of creationism and intelligent design. According to Van der Hoeven this discussion can be used to make connections between science and religion. The minister thinks it's "too bad" that scientists want to keep science and religion separated. Her remarks don't violate the separation between religion and government, says the minister.
The Second Chamber of Parliament rejects the minister's plan. According to coalition partners VVD and CDA the government should not play any role in a debate about science and religion. Representative J. de Vries (CDA): "That debate has to happen within the scientific community itself." E. Balemans thinks this idea is linked with an unwanted "conversative-religious movement in the United States". "Politics should stay far away from science," says M. Hamer (PvdA). U. Lambrechts (D66) says the remarks of the minister "set us back five steps", "Six years ago we decided that schools must teach their students the evolution of evolution. The minister's remarks at least seem to suggest that ID is a theory that as equally supported as the theory of evolution."
Europe, The Netherlands - 23 May 2005
Teacher telling their class that man descended from an ape are dangerous, apparently
" A headmaster of a Protestant school has agreed to stay at home for a few days after causing a stir by his insistence his teachers adhere to the Christian theory of Creationism. "Peter Boon of Augustinus College in the northern city of Groningen [Netherlands] said in an interview with newspaper "Dagblad van het Noorden" earlier this week he could not tolerate one of his teachers telling a class he was a supporter of the Theory of Evolution."
"We do not want to return to the 50' "
Dutch Newspaper 'Algemeen Dagblad' - 23-05-2005
The Second Chamber of parliament (equivalent to the House of Commons or House of Representatives) doesn't want a debate about the theory of evolution, like the one Minister of Education Van der Hoeven (of the Christian Democratic Party CDA) wants. "The political parties aren't interested in a Minister that set us back to the 50's", says representative Balemans (of the Liberal Party VVD).
Van der Hoeven is charmed by the idea that there is a 'intended design' for life on Earth. This so-called Intelligent-Design philosophy is controversial in the scientific community, because it tacitly assumes the biblical account of creation. The generally accepted theory of evolution of Darwin has no place for such supernatural explanations.
Last satuday, Van der Hoeven said in an interview with de Volkskrant that the theory of evolution is 'not complete'. She added that she doesn't believe in coincidence. The CDA-politica wants to start a dialogue between scientists and supporters of creationism and intelligent design.
The VVD (Liberals), D66 (Democrats), PvdA (Social Democrats), LPF (Populists) en also Van der Hoeven's own CDA (Christian Democrats) don't agree with her. "This will set us back five steps", fears representative Lambrechts (of the Democratic Party D66). "Six years ago we decided that schools must teach their students the evolution of evolution. We want to keep it this way."
According to representative De Vries (of the Christian Democratic Party CDA) such a debate is not necessary, "because there is no taboo." He says she can discuss it as much as she wants on own her own department. Representative Kraneveldt (of the Populist Party LPF) thinks that the separation between religion and government is in danger if Van der Hoeven thinks it's her task to make the "ID-idea" heard in schools.
Van der Hoeven wanted to invite professor of Genetics R. Plasterk to the debate. He criticizes the ideas of the politician, because according to Plasterk, her ideas don't agree with the separation of religion and government. Plasterk thinks her statement that she doesn't believe in coincidence is "a bit strange".
Orginal Source - (registration needed)
27 May 2005
Europe, The Netherlands, AMSTERDAM — Dutch MPs are moving to scrap the teaching of Creationism in high school biology lessons. Presently, it is compulsory to teach the theory God created the universe alongside the Theory of Evolution to biology students at VWO pre-university high schools and HAVO senior general secondary schools. The lessons about the creation are posed as an alternative opinion to teachings on the theory of evolution and abiogenesis or 'spontaneous generation'. Education specialists with the Liberal VVD, Labour PvdA, green-left GroenLinks and Socialist SP believe that creationist theory should only be taught in religious classes or social studies, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Friday.
The Dutch Institute for Biology (NIBI) — which most biology teachers are members of — also wants to scrap the creationist theory from biology lessons. Director Leen van den Oever said it costs precious lesson time. The issue entered public discourse after Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven was quoted on 21 May saying she wanted to organise a debate about evolution and creation because the theory of evolution was "incomplete". Van der Hoeven stressed in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday that the various theories about creation should remain part of biology lessons.
(source - Dutch NOS TeleText-TV 27 may 2005 http://teletekst.nos.nl/tekst/100-01.html)
THE NETHERLANDS-THE HAGUE Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende of the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal-party) is okay if there is to be a general debate between science and religion. The Parliament agrees on this, according to him. 'Many scientists are busy with the problem of values in science', he said. Balkenende said that for him the evolution-theory is not the issue of discussion and he emphasised that there is no plan to change teaching lessons in schools. Last week Minister Van de Hoeven said she wanted to organise a debate about the evolution-theory and the 'creation-thought'. She pointed out that the evolutiontheory does not answer all questions.
Dutch Source -
Global Correlations in Random Data
The Global Consciousness Project, also called the EGG Project, is an international and multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists and others. This website introduces methods and technology and empirical results in one section, and presents interpretations and applications in another. We have been collecting data from a global network of random event generators since August, 1998. The network has grown to about 65 host sites around the world running custom software that reads the output of physical random number generators and records a 200-bit trial sum once every second, continuously over months and years. The data are transmitted over the internet to a server in Princeton, NJ, USA, where they are archived for later analysis.
The purpose of this project is to examine subtle correlations that appear to to reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. The scientific work is careful, but it is at the margins of our understanding. We believe our view may be enriched by a creative and poetic perspective. Here we present various aspects of the project, including some insight into its scientific and philosophical implications.
SEE SOURCE - at which it is possible TO TEST YOUR OWN HYPOHESIS
Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 May-Jun;9(3 Suppl):A13-30. Bioenergy definitions and research guidelines.
Hintz KJ, Yount GL, Kadar I, Schwartz G, Hammerschlag R, Lin S.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., USA.
A model for the functional and observable interrelation among the various components in a physical bioenergy system is presented. The analogy is made between electric circuits and electromagnetic interactions, and contact and noncontact bioenergy transfer. It is postulated that there exists some form of bioenergy that has the capacity to do work and that this energy behaves in a manner similar to electricity in that the physical concepts of electromotive force, current, and impedance have their equivalents in bioenergy. It is further postulated that these analogous components are related by an equivalent to Ohm's and other physical laws of electricity. This is extended to a conjecture that bioenergy healing is the transfer of information from a practitioner to a healee. Research guidelines for bioenergy measurements are presented, including basic measurement practices for electrical and electromagnetic systems through direct measurements and the use of indirect measurement experiments for detecting these or other forms of bioenergy transfer. The research guidelines are divided into 2 sections: those involving direct measurement of the physical electrical properties of a practitioner, in particular the difficulties associated with electrical measurements of extremely low-level signals outside of a Faraday shield or electromagnetic measurements outside of a radio frequency anechoic chamber; and those for conducting experiments in which the effects of bioenergy are being investigated on the healee or other target system without direct measurements of the means for bioenergy transfer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12776462&query_hl=1
"In fact, it has been argued that several CAM practices, eg, distant healing, appear to act in a manner described as nonlocal, nontemporal, and nonmediated, and thus do not conform to commonly accepted definitions of energy...In the present paper, however, discussion is limited to that portion of the spectrum of bioenergy practices that do appear to follow conventional scientific concepts."
"Let's begin by postulating that the practitioner possesses bioenergy, namely the capacity to do work, and in particular, the capacity to utilize that energy to transfer power to a recipient either by direct contact or through radiation, and that the mechanism is electrical in nature."
"Biomotive Force (BMF): A force generated by a biological system that acts on living or nonliving systems...Because the force must act on an entity, we assume that the entity is electrons, and hence we have a biocurrent defined as follows: Biocurrent: The flow of electrons caused by a Biomotive force."
Biocircuits: "...the ability to transfer bioenergy from the recipient depends both on the internal impedance of the practitioner and the internal impedance of the recipient...it is assumed that there exists a bioenergy equivalent to Kirchoff's EMF (electromotive force) law, which states that the sum of the EMFs, or in this case BMFs, around a closed loop is zero...the maximum transfer of biopower from the practitioner to the recipient would occur when there is a match between the 2 impedances. That is, the practitioner has the correct intention and biochemical makeup for the recipient's intention and biochemical makeup."
Mechanisms of Bioenergy Coupling to Biological Systems: "Brief consideration will also be given to the possibility that water and small bioactive molecules serve as potential receivers and carriers of bioenergy signals."
"...'electromagnetic response elements' have been identified on promoter regions of DNA that regulate expression of several proteins in cultured cells."
"That low-frequency EM fields affect biological processes by interacting with moving electrons is the basis of a proposed 'moving charge interaction' model. In this model, for example, EM field-DNA interactions are described as occurring through acceleration of electrons moving within the helical chains."
"The triple helical collagen fibers, for their part, are proposed to function as liquid crystals and semiconductors providing proton conduction pathways for rapid communication throughout the body."
Biofields: "When healing, the practitioner does not have any more energy than normal but rather focuses his internal energy or focuses an external source of energy to a specific purpose."
"...the electromagnetic impedance of free space is known, and the practitioner must match to this to maximize the transfer of power. Receiving antennas are already available that match to this free space impedance and hence should be able to receive this radiated bioenergy."
"...so can the recipient increase his reception of this energy by focusing his attention (intention) and posture to receive the energy with the minimal mismatch of impedance."
Bioinformation and Modulation: "It would seem that healing is more likely to occur due to a practitioner's conducted or radiated energy rearranging the relationship among the various biological subsystems in the recipient. This could properly be considered as a reduction in the entropy or uncertainty in the motion or behavior of the L-energy in the recipient...Because of this, the healing process is more likely one of transferring information from the practitioner to the recipient." ["L-energy" = life energy]
"This leads to the conjecture that there are at least 3 elements of the healing process. The first is the physical transfer of energy, either through direct contact or bioenergy-related fields at a distance. The second is the ability of the practitioner to transmit his bioenergy at an appropriate carrier frequency (frequency of the electromagnetic radiation which 'carries' the modulation or signal) and the recipient to 'tune' to this frequency, and the third, the ability of the practitioner to appropriately modulate his BMF or carrier frequency and the recipient to decode this modulation."
"An example of the importance of information content has been shown by the well-documented effects of learning enhancement associated with listening to Mozart's Piano Sonata in D Major, K 448. Apparently this composition has unique features that stimulate neurons and thereby enhance learning."
Concerning making measurements in the face of background electric and magnetic fields from equipment, etc.: "However, it is not clear that this ambient radiation may not be the carrier of the information between a practitioner and a receiver and that the practitioner may simply modulate this already existing energy rather than radiate his own energy."
Range of Frequency Measurement: "An initial approach to determining which frequencies to investigate can be based on applying known electromagnetic antenna theory to estimate the effectiveness of matching the physical size and shape of the human body and its appendages to the free-space impedance just as one would do with any antenna."
Ionizing Radiation: "Recent research suggests that emotional and intentional states of humans may modulate the degree of self-radiation of high frequency x-rays as well as the degree of self-absorption and/or scattering of gamma-rays."
Optimal Target Systems: "...stressing the cell cultures by minimizing the growth signals available to the cells might render them more sensitive to a biofield influence. Pilot data...support this notion. The apparent responsiveness of the tumor cells in .1% serum to external qigong treatment was not seen in samples grown in 1% growth serum exposed to simultaneous treatment..."
Only the first author is at George Mason University; the others are at various other institutions, with Lin being in the Samueli Center.
For information on the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine, University of California, Irving, see:
For a skeptical look at the "Mozart effect," see:
Thomas J. Wheeler, Ph.D. email@example.com
Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
University of Louisville School of Medicine
Alternative medicine reading and handouts:
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: May 28, 2005
Fossils at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History have been used to prove the theory of evolution. Next month the museum will play host to a film intended to undercut evolution.
Forum: Human Origins
The Discovery Institute, a group in Seattle that supports an alternative theory, "intelligent design," is announcing on its Web site that it and the director of the museum "are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception" on June 23 for the movie, "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe."
The film is a documentary based on a 2004 book by Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State University, and Jay W. Richards, a vice president of the Discovery Institute, that makes the case for the hand of a creator in the design of Earth and the universe.
News of the Discovery Institute's announcement appeared on a blog maintained by Denyse O'Leary, a proponent of the intelligent design theory, who called it "a stunning development." But a museum spokesman, Randall Kremer, said the event should not be taken as support for the views expressed in the film. "It is incorrect for anyone to infer that we are somehow endorsing the video or the content of the video," he said.
The museum, he said, offers its Baird Auditorium to many organizations and corporations in return for contributions - in the case of the Discovery Institute, $16,000.
When the language of the Discovery Institute's Web site was read to him, with its suggestion of support, Mr. Kremer said, "We'll have to look into that."
He added, "We're happy to receive this contribution from the Discovery Institute to further our scientific research."
The president of the Discovery Institute, Bruce Chapman, said his organization approached the museum through its public relations company and the museum staff asked to see the film. "They said that they liked it very much - and not only would they have the event at the museum, but they said they would co-sponsor it," he recalled. "That was their suggestion. Of course we're delighted."
Mr. Kremer said he heard about the event only on Thursday. He added that staff members viewed the film before approving the event to make sure that it complied with the museum's policy, which states that "events of a religious or partisan political nature" are not permitted, along with personal events such as weddings, or fund-raisers, raffles and cash bars. It also states that "all events at the National Museum of Natural History are co-sponsored by the museum."
Evolution has become a major battleground in the culture wars, with bitter debates in legislatures and school boards, national parks and museums. Although Charles Darwin's theory is widely viewed as having been proved by fossil records and modern biological phenomena, it is challenged by those who say that it is flawed and that alternatives need to be taught.
When asked whether the announcement on the Discovery Institute's Web site meant to imply that the museum supports the film and the event, Mr. Chapman replied:
"We are not implying in any sense that they endorsed the content, but they are co-sponsoring it, and we are delighted. We're not claiming anything more than that. They certainly didn't say, 'We're really warming up to intelligent design, and therefore we're going to sponsor this.' "
May 28, 2005
A SELF-INTERESTED New Englander might hope that the Kansas Board of Education comes out decisively against teaching evolution. That would put at least one state at a disadvantage as it competes for biotech business. But the anti-evolution movement, advocating the pseudo-scientific notion called ''intelligent design," is making inroads as far east as Pennsylvania. Only if the concept is rejected will Americans show they are committed to the growth of scientific knowledge.
The Kansas school board, an elected body, held hearings this month to discuss revisions in the standards for public education. A majority is sympathetic to the idea that the standards should deemphasize evolution and give equal weight to intelligent design, which holds that complex structures of life were created by divine intelligence rather than natural processes.
Every high school student needs a thorough knowledge of evolution. It is the overarching concept of the biological sciences. A change would encourage students to equate untested beliefs with rigorously tested science.
Scientists in the coalition that supports evolution boycotted the hearings in the belief that their presence would imply that intelligent design deserves equal consideration. They're right that the board was stacked against them, but abstention by itself is an empty strategy. The intelligent design forces are as persistent as they are wrong. They gained control of the board in 1999, tried to rewrite the standards, and lost their majority in the next election. A convincing rout in the next election would ensure that scientific instruction is safe.
Last year, the Kansas Legislature approved a $500 million initiative to attract biotechnology companies into the state. Kansas will be less appealing to these companies if it becomes a haven for antiscientific dogmatism. Scientists would do well to join forces with business leaders to prevent that occurrence.
Evolutionary theory guides the development of flu vaccines, which change every year to cope with evolving viruses. Evolutionary theory helps to track HIV infections. Computer scientists have applied evolutionary theory to software programming. Intelligent design can make no such claims. A public education campaign ought to inform Kansans about the value of solid, time-tested science.
The school board in Dover, Pa., has mandated that intelligent design be taught to ninth-graders. A New York legislator has filed a bill to impose it on that state's public schools. The theory is itself spreading like an evolving virus. New Kansas standards are expected by the fall. Half the 10-member board will be up for reelection in 2006. Those who favor intelligent design ought to be swept from office by an informed electorate.
© 2005 The New York Times Company
Posted on Sat, May. 28, 2005
My wife recently battled breast cancer and the doctors have her on tamoxifen to help prevent any recurrence. She's taking the medicine but lately she has been exploring a host of what I consider to be offbeat therapies that one of her friends (also a cancer survivor) recommended. All of this alternative health stuff seems a little strange for a traditionalist like me. Maybe I'm just too old fashioned, but I was wondering if you know of any place I can turn to learn more.
Don't be too quick to dismiss alternative medicines, some of which have been practiced for thousands of years in many cultures. In fact, it's estimated that in the United States today, between 36 percent and 62 percent of adults are using some form of complementary or alternative medicine.
Alternative health: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a varied assortment of medical practices and products that are not considered conventional medicine. In other words, they don't teach this stuff in medical schools. Some are strictly alternative, which means they are practiced in place of conventional medicine, but others are complementary, meaning they are practiced in addition to traditional therapies and treatments.
The list of complementary and alternative medicines is long, and includes things like acupuncture, chiropractic care, hypnosis, massage, herbs and vitamins, and yoga, just to name a few. It also includes such techniques as biofeedback and energy healing. Even prayer is considered a form of alternative and complementary medicine.
Learn more: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the federal government's lead agency on scientific research of CAM. NCCAM supports research to determine if CAM therapies work, whether they are effective and who might benefit most from the use of specific therapies. To learn more about CAM, start by talking with your own doctor.
Here are three other resources to assist you:
• NCCAM Clearinghouse: They answer questions about CAM, distribute free publications and provide information on selecting complementary or alternative providers. Visit www.nccam.nih.gov, or call (888) 644-6226.
• National Library of Medicine: The world's largest medical library offers information, resources and results to scientific studies on CAM . Visit www.nlm.nih.gov or call (888) 346-3656.
• National Pain Foundation: Provides information on traditional and complementary therapies for managing pain. Visit www.painconnection.org.
Things to know:
• Safety: As with any type of medical, complementary or alternative treatment, always remember to talk to your doctor first. Sometimes mixing natural CAM products with existing medications can have a negative effect. The Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition offers great information on dietary supplements at www.cfsan.fda.gov or (888) 723-3366.
• Insurance: Find out if your therapy will be covered by insurance. In most cases, complementary and alternative practices are not covered by insurance or Medicare.
• Locate: To locate a CAM practitioner ask your health care provider(s) or contact your nearby hospital or medical school and see if they have a list of area CAM practitioners or could make a referral. Some regional medical centers may have CAM centers or practitioners on staff. Licensing: Ask if your practitioner has a license to practice. Licensing and regulatory laws for CAM practices are becoming more common to help ensure competent and quality services.
Send senior questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.
NCSE IN THE WASHINGTON POST
NCSE was featured prominently in Peter Slevin's "Teachers, Scientists Vow to Fight Challenge to Evolution," published in the May 5, 2005, issue of the Washington Post. The article begins with a review of the situation in Kansas, where the state board of education is conducting a contentious series of hearings on the place of evolution in the state science standards. The grassroots group Kansas Citizens for Science successfully called for a scientific boycott of the hearings, and Slevin suggests that its success is indicative of a "tactical shift" for defenders of evolution education: "Teachers and trade groups around the country are working to build e-mail lists, lobby lawmakers and educate the public about the perceived perils of intelligent design. Lawyers are examining prospects for court challenges. Evolution's defenders would love to repeat the success of nuclear physicist Marshall Berman, who led a counterattack after winning a seat on the New Mexico education board."
Slevins cites Project Steve -- NCSE's lighthearted assembly of scientists named Steve, Stephanie, etc. who accept evolution -- as one of the innovative tactics used to demonstrate how few scientists doubt evolution, and then devotes a paragraph to describe NCSE and its activities: "The NCSE was created to fight the dilution of evolutionary theory. With an annual budget of about $700,000, the California-based operation serves as a clearinghouse for worried teachers and citizen groups. Its Web site is stocked with news bulletins and teaching guides. Executive director Eugenie C. Scott rides the circuit, debating intelligent design proponents and giving speeches in what has become a growth industry." Scott was also quoted as saying (to an audience at the recent National Science Teachers Association convention in Dallas): "We know a phenomenal amount about evolution ... The science in creationism is terrible."
"The science organizations concede that the anti-evolution forces have a catchier message," Slevins continues: "'Teach the controversy' and 'Evolution is a theory, not a fact,' resonate with many Americans." But, as Steven B. Case, the head of the Kansas standards writing committee, told the Post, "There isn't a scientific debate and there's nothing for the kids to weigh. They say there's a controversy. We say there's not. So they say, 'See, we told you there's a controversy.' You get into these ridiculous rhetorical games." Such games are played around the country, and even at the federal level (with the so-called Santorum language, stripped from the No Child Left Behind Act but regularly cited by antievolutionists nevertheless). In Kansas, of course, the state board of education, with its 6-4 antievolutionist majority, is making up the rules as it goes along: expect a special evolution education update with a summary of the hearings and the media coverage from NCSE next week.
To read Slevin's article, visit:
To read about Project Steve (now with 564 Steves!), visit:
THREE BILLS DIE IN ALABAMA
May 3, 2005, was the final day for proposed legislation to pass in either the House or the Senate and still have a chance of passing in the other chamber of the Alabama legislature. Among the dozens of bills that died were HB 352, HB 716, and SB 240. Virtually identical, these bills purported to protect the right of teachers "to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories" and the right of students to "hold positions regarding scientific views." In language reminiscent of the Santorum language removed from the No Child Left Behind Act, they specified that "[t]he rights and privileges contained in this act apply when topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological or chemical origins." Two similar bills died at the end of the 2004 legislative session.
In a post on the Panda's Thumb web log, Bob Collins of Alabama Citizens for Science wrote, "We were better organized this year, and it worked!! Thanks to everyone who called, wrote, faxed, talked to their legislators and/or testified. We made a difference!!!!" The next challenge ahead in Alabama, Collins adds, is the state textbook adoption process: "This summer and fall, the Alabama State Board of Education will pick science textbooks for our schoolchildren. They will also decide whether to continue use of the embarrassing 'Evolution Disclaimer' pasted in the front of every elementary, middle and high school textbook that mentions anything that happened over 6,000 years ago."
To read Collins's post at the Panda's Thumb, visit:
For Alabama Citizens for Science, visit:
COBB COUNTY STICKERS MUST GO
When Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that the evolution disclaimers in the Cobb County School District's textbooks were unconstitutional, he also ordered the stickers to be removed. Because of the time needed, he subsequently allowed the removal to be scheduled for the summer of 2005. Nevertheless, the Cobb County School District asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the order, pending its decision on the district's appeal of Selman v. Cobb County. On May 3, 2005, a three-judge panel denied the Cobb County School District's request.
Speaking to the Marietta Daily Journal (May 5, 2005), Michael Manely, who, along with the ACLU, represented the plaintiffs at trial, commented, "It's the first serious nail in the coffin from the Court of Appeals. They are expressing their preliminary thoughts on the subject. This is like a preview of what is certain to come. It tells the board that this corpse is beginning to smell really bad." It is possible for the board to appeal the panel's decision to the full 11th Circuit, but the attorney representing the board did not respond to the Daily Journal's request for comment.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Selman is ready to help to remove the stickers, which invidiously describe evolution as "a theory, not a fact," from approximately 34,000 biology textbooks. "I'm going to offer to help take out the stickers," he told the Daily Journal. "I bet I can get a whole bunch of people to help them," Selman said. "God bless the judges. They can see right through this sham." Oral arguments in the appeal of Selman v. Cobb County are expected to commence this summer, with a possible decision in the fall.
For a brief Associated Press story in the Columbus, Georgia,
For NCSE's previous coverage of Selman v. Cobb County, visit:
Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc
5/22/2005 12:04:33 AM
Knight Ridder News
TOPEKA, Kan. Eighty years after the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, the battle between those who support the validity of biological evolution and those who oppose it rages on in Kansas and in more than a dozen other states around the country.
The controversy may appear to be simply about the teaching of science in the classroom. But it represents a far more complex, widespread clash of politics, religion, science and culture that transcends the borders of conservative, so-called red states and their more liberal blue counterparts.
"This controversy is going to happen everywhere. It's going to happen in all 50 states. This controversy is not going away," said Jeff Tamblyn, 52, an owner of Merriam, Kan.-based Origin Films, which is making a feature film about the current fight over whether to introduce a more critical approach to evolution in Kansas' school science standards.
So far in 2005, the issue of evolution has sparked at least 21 instances of controversy on the local and/or state level in at least 18 states, according to the National Center for Science Education, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit organization that defends the teaching of evolution in public schools. Although such controversies regularly have occurred over the years, some attribute the recent wave to the success of conservatives in 2004 elections.
At the national level, one attempt to diminish the prominence of evolution in public school curricula and introduce alternative views came in the form of a proposed amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act. Sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the amendment suggested that evolution is in question among scientists and recommended that a "full range of scientific views" be taught. But it was cut from the bill.
Seeking to explain the passion that the issue often ignites, Tamblyn said, "Partly, it's the mixture of religion and politics. If that doesn't get you going, what does?"
Indeed, the theory of evolution, which some opponents say is consonant with atheism because it provides no role for the divine, has been provoking controversy since 1859, when Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection."
And, if the contentious nature of the Kansas State Board of Education's recent public hearings here on evolution are any indication, the issue remains as explosive today as it was in Tennessee 80 years ago.
In the summer of 1925, Clarence Darrow entered a Dayton, Tenn., courtroom to defend biology teacher John Scopes against charges of teaching Darwin's theory of evolution, after it had been banned by the state. The highly publicized trial was the basis of the 1955 Broadway play "Inherit the Wind" and the 1960 film of the same title.
Then, as now, the controversy over evolution revolved around two Darwinian theories that contradict the biblical version of creation: Darwin's assertion that all life, including humans and monkeys, descended from common ancestors and that it is all the result of natural selection and random mutation. While fundamentalists may recoil from these concepts, many religious authorities, including those in the Roman Catholic Church, hold that belief in God and evolution don't conflict.
As there was in 1999, when Kansas de-emphasized evolution in its school science standards a move reversed by a more moderate board in 2001 there has been snickering by critics over the state's "backwardness" and head-shaking over the idea that the validity of evolution, one of the foundations of modern science, is in question.
This has prompted many references to the famous question posed in an 1896 editorial by William Allen White, editor of Kansas' Emporia Gazette. Listing examples of what he deplored as the backwardness of the state, he wrote: "What's the matter with Kansas?"
But, if Kansas is "backward," it's not alone.
Year to date, at least 13 states have entertained legislation requiring a more critical approach to evolution in the classroom and/or allowing discussion of alternative explanations of the origins of humans, including the supernatural.
The most recent addition is New York, a true "blue" state, where an Assembly bill was introduced on May 3 requiring schools to teach both evolution and intelligent design.
Intelligent design, which some critics consider an attempt to get around the Supreme Court's ban on teaching overtly religious creationism, credits an unnamed intelligence or designer for aspects of nature's complexity yet unexplained by science.
Whether any of this proposed legislation concerning evolution passes, it is evident that many Americans share the thinking behind it, according to poll after poll, including a recent Tribune/WGN-TV poll.
Partly in response to concerns expressed by such conservative Christian groups as the Illinois Family Institute, the Illinois State Board of Education eliminated the term "evolution" from its science standards in 1997 and substituted the phrase "change over time." However, the word "evolution" does appear in the board's "Science Performance Descriptors," a list of grade-specific material over which students must demonstrate mastery.
The Tribune/WGN-TV poll of 1,200 Illinois registered voters, conducted May 5-10, found that 58 percent favor teaching Darwin's theory but 57 percent also are open to teaching views opposed to it. In fact, 57 percent said they believe that both evolution and creationism should be included in school curricula. The poll by Mount Prospect, Ill.-based Market Shares Corp. has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
And 58 percent of Illinois voters polled said they believe teaching creationism doesn't violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
But, in 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to the contrary in Edwards v. Aguillard. The court held that to teach creationism, or so-called "creation science" in public schools implies a state endorsement of a religious view and thus violates the First Amendment's prohibition on government establishment of religion.
Nonetheless, the views on evolution expressed by Illinois voters mirror those of Americans overall, according to earlier polls by Gallup and others.
According to a November national Gallup poll, "only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence." The rest said they didn't know.
A CBS News poll taken the same month found that two-thirds of all Americans want creationism taught with evolution. It also indicated that 55 percent of all Americans believe God created humans in their present form and only 13 percent think that humans evolved without divine guidance.
Kansans will learn this summer whether schoolchildren will study evolution alone, or in conjunction with criticism of Darwin's theory. Schools are not bound to teach by standards set by the board. However, teachers, already sometimes nervous about teaching evolution, know that board-recommended material may appear on state science assessment tests, said Steven Case, assistant director of the Center for Science Education at the University of Kansas and chairman of the state's Science Standards Writing Committee.
The majority of that committee recommended retaining current standards regarding evolution, while eight members disagreed and presented their own "minority report," advocating not only a curriculum more critical of evolution, but a redefinition of science that goes beyond explanations rooted in nature.
Should the board approve the more critical approach, as is considered likely given its conservative majority, it would open the door to alternative explanations for life on Earth that go beyond natural causes, including intelligent design.
This infuriates many scientists, the majority of whom solidly support Darwin's theory and deny there is any scientific controversy surrounding it. They point out that in science, a "theory" is not merely a guess but a tested concept based on long-term observation and evidence. The National Academy of Sciences, along with the rest of the national scientific community, refused to send witnesses to the Kansas hearings, claiming that the event was rigged against mainstream science and that their participation would confer the kind of scientific credibility which intelligent design seeks.
However, the reasoning behind their position may have seemed confusing, and even condescending, to some Kansans. Past arguments over evolution often have been cast as a culture clash between the Darwinist scientific elite and ordinary, less-educated citizens. This conflict was neatly summed up by the headline at the top of a press release issued at the close of the hearings by the Discovery Institute: "Darwinists Snub Kansas, Refuse to Answer Questions about Scientific Problems with Evolutionary Theory." The Seattle-based Discovery Institute advocates criticism of Darwin's theory and supports scholarship on intelligent design.
To represent mainstream science at the hearings, the state recruited Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, a self-declared supporter of Darwin's theory, who cross-examined the nearly two dozen witnesses appearing on behalf of those advocating revisions. His counterpart was John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Kansas-based Intelligent Design Network, a non-profit organization promoting intelligent design.
In September, what promises to be a test case on intelligent design will come to trial in Pennsylvania, where Dover-area schools last fall decided to require that students be made aware of intelligent design and of criticism of Darwin's theory. Parents have filed a suit against the school board, arguing intelligent design is not science but creationism in disguise.
Proponents of intelligent design assert that there is a scientific rationale to their criticism of evolution. One who testified at the Kansas public hearings is Jonathan Wells. A molecular biologist, Wells also is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.
"We can infer from evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than unguided natural processes. Among the latter would be random mutation and natural selection. They're factors, but not sufficient to give a full account," said Wells, in a phone interview.
"I think Darwinism is pseudoscience," he said.
Supporters of the theory of evolution say the same thing about intelligent design.
"Despite how they want to redefine it, science itself appeals only to natural explanations. It doesn't say there are no other explanations," said Harry McDonald, a retired biology teacher and president of Kansas Citizens for Science, a pro-evolution group formed during the fight over standards in 1999.
The Kansas Board of Education will take a preliminary vote in June and a final vote later this summer on revisions to the science standards. But given the 6-4 advantage of conservatives on the board, few believe the outcome is in doubt although any revisions can be reversed if the composition of the board changes, as happened in 2001.
"I fear that there will be a lack of logic, that emotion is going to rule and, as a result, our science standards will be severely compromised," said Irigonegaray, slumping into a seat in Topeka's Memorial Hall after delivering a 108-minute argument on behalf of mainstream science on May 12, the last day of public hearings.
He paused, then added, "I warn America to be on the lookout for this problem because it's a national phenomenon, not just a Kansas problem."
ALTERNATIVE THEORIES TO EVOLUTION
Since Charles Darwin published the theory of biological evolution in 1859, his assertions that humans share common ancestry with all life on the planet and that they evolved to their present form through natural selection and mutation have clashed with the beliefs of those who adhere to the Bible's story that God created the world and Adam and Eve in his image.
Opponents of evolution have their own vocabulary list. Among the key terms are:
CREATIONISM Advanced by religious conservatives in response to Darwin's theory, creationism holds that God alone created the world and all life in it as it is today. "Young Earth" creationists take the Bible's Book of Genesis literally and believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. "Old Earth" creationists do not take Genesis literally but dispute evolution. "Creation science" claims scientific evidence for the biblical version of creation.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN Considered a successor to creationism, intelligent design became popular in the early 1990s after the U.S. Supreme Court banned the teaching of creationism in public schools in 1987. Framed in scientific language but devoid of biblical or theistic references, intelligent design posits that there are "weaknesses" in Darwin's theory and suggests that an unnamed intelligence must have designed complex aspects of nature still unexplained by science.
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Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/22/2005 8:00:00 AM, section B , page 1
By JOSEPH MALDONADO
For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Sunday, May 22, 2005
"The social implications of Darwinism have been disastrous," said Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. "Nazi Germany used Darwin to justify a master race based on the idea that it's survival of the strongest." Thompson's perception that teaching evolution is socially destructive is just one of the reasons why he volunteered to defend the Dover Area School District's school board and administration against a lawsuit brought against them last December, he said.
Eleven parents sued the district, saying a statement issued by the district to ninth-grade biology students that intended to teach students that there were gaps and problems with Darwinian evolution, was unconstitutional.
The problem, they said, was that the statement also included the mention of "intelligent design theory."
Intelligent design suggests that life is too complex to have evolved on its own through the process of natural selection, which Darwin conceived. Intelligent design suggests that all living organisms were designed by a supernatural being or entity.
Critics say the "designer" in intelligent design is God in disguise. And while many of the plaintiffs have said they have nothing against God, they do have a problem with religion being taught in a secular classroom funded with taxpayer money that comes from people of all faiths or no faith at all.
A decision made by Dover's board Oct. 18 authorized a curriculum change that makes specific mention of intelligent design.
Repeatedly since October, board members such as Alan Bonsell, William Buckingham and Sheila Harkins have said intelligent design is legitimate science and has nothing at all to do with God. But if that is true, opponents of the curriculum change ask, then why has Thompson volunteered to defend the board?
Thomas More's Web site states the group is "dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life."
The reason Thompson said he took on the case is because Christians, including himself, support intelligent design.
"And because Christians support it, the ACLU wants it out of the classroom," Thompson said. "(Thomas More) is like the anti-ACLU."
Evolution, which is the current state standard for biological science in Pennsylvania, has positive implications for atheists in America, Thompson said. "But anything that has a positive implication for Christians is not OK," he added. "That's discrimination."
When the case comes to trial in mid- to late September, Thompson said, intelligent design's links to creationism won't matter because his experts will prove that intelligent design is good science.
"We have credible scientists on both sides of the issue who will say that the one-minute statement does a good service for students," Thompson said. "The statement has already been read once and the roof didn't cave in."
But Vic Walczak, ACLU attorney for the plaintiffs, said Thompson's got nothing.
"Nothing gets my fires burning faster than the way the ACLU is associated with liberal causes," he said. "We are defenders of constitutional freedoms for people of all religions, including Christians."
He cited cases last year in which the ACLU supported an Amish fight for horse and buggy rights in Cambria County, a black church near Pittsburgh that had zoning problems with a local government, and a woman in Beaver County who needed counseling but insisted that it be Christian counseling.
"Thompson said we interfere with the rights of people to worship," Walczak said. "But the truth is Thomas More, and others like them, are trying to impose their religious views, symbols and prayers on everyone."
Thompson said that while schools are not allowed to teach origins of life, biblical or otherwise, intelligent design will lead students to wonder where life comes from.
Members of Dover's school board have said the "designer" could be anything, including an alien.
"But for many, the answer will be God," Thompson said. "And it's that connection that certain people have problems with."
People such as Walczak.
"Once you strip away all the rhetoric you are not left with science," he said. "You are left with something that closely resembles creationism. And that does not belong in any science classroom."
This is the second in my series of posts on papers in "energy medicine."
J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Feb;9(1):25-38.
Gas discharge visualization evaluation of ultramolecular doses of homeopathic medicines under blinded, controlled conditions.
Bell IR, Lewis DA 2nd, Brooks AJ, Lewis SE, Schwartz GE.
Program in Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
85724-5153, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVES: To determine the feasibility of using a computerized biophysical method, gas discharge visualization (GDV), to differentiate ultramolecular doses of homeopathic remedies from solvent controls and from each other. DESIGN: Blinded, randomized assessment of four split samples each of 30c potencies of three homeopathic remedies from different kingdoms, for example, Natrum muriaticum (mineral), Pulsatilla (plant), and Lachesis (animal), dissolved in a 20% alcohol-water solvent versus two different control solutions (that is, solvent with untreated lactose/sucrose pellets and unsuccussed solvent alone). PROCEDURES: GDV measurements, involving application of a brief electrical impulse at four different voltage levels, were performed over 10 successive images on each of 10 drops from each bottle (total 400 images per test solution per voltage). The dependent variables were the quantified image characteristics of the liquid drops (form coefficient, area, and brightness) from the resultant burst of electron-ion emission and optical radiation in the visual and ultraviolet ranges. RESULTS: The procedure generated measurable images at the two highest voltage levels. At 17 kV, the remedies exhibited overall lower image parameter values compared with solvents (significant for Pulsatilla and Lachesis), as well as differences from solvents in fluctuations over repeated images (exposures to the same voltage). At 24 kV, other patterns emerged, with individual remedies showing higher or lower image parameters compared with other remedies and the solvent controls. CONCLUSIONS: GDV technology may provide an electromagnetic probe into the properties of homeopathic remedies as distinguished from solvent controls. However, the present findings also highlight the need for additional research to evaluate factors that may affect reproducibility of results.
PMID: 12676033 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
"Recently, Korotkov and Kovotkin (2001) and others in Russia have developed a computerized image processing technique as an objective biophysical method to measure replicable evidence of internal status and/or subtle energies in living organisms and various liquids, including homeopathic remedies (Jerman et al., 1999). The technique, termed gas discharge visualization (GDV), is a means of characterizing the nonlinear gas discharge image formation around objects subjected to a brief, strong electromagnetic field. GDV reportedly measures phenomena similar to those of Kirlian photography, but offers quantitative advantages over the more limited and variable qualitative assessment possible with the original Kirlian technique."
"Briefly, the equipment sends a standardized brief high-voltage, high-frequency electrical impulse to a drop of liquid to generate a two-dimensional gas discharge image whose characteristics reveal information about the properties of the test solution."
"The primary GDV image parameters analyzed for this study included: form coefficient (fractality), mean image area, and image brightness. Form coefficient assesses the fractality of the outer contour of the image..."
From the Discussion section: "A number of contemporary homeopathic investigators have proposed that the original presence of the source molecules from a remedy seeds the formation of some type of water clusters (e.g., clathrates, cage-like structures of solvent around solute molecules [Bellavite and Signorini, 2002] or zwitterions [Anick, 1999]. These hypothesized water clusters, not the original source molecules, then carry the relevant information through successive dilutions and succussions. Consistent with the possibility of water cluster formation from serial dilution and shaking, Lo (Lo, 1996; Lo et al., 1996) has reported the ability to form stable crystalline water clusters at room temperature, seeded into unique structures by original source materials such as sodium chloride or monosodium phosphate, using a proprietary method that others have not as yet replicated independently. The order could arise, alternatively, as has been postulated [references] from coherent electromagnetic fields organized within the solvent."
"Some researchers have also expressed concern that the succussion process per se releases artifacts such as ions from glass tubes or free radicals during the original preparation of the remedies. The placebo pellets dissolved in the present solvent control bottles were not prepared by spraying, successed, remedy-free solvent on them. Thus, an appropriate additional control condition for future studies should be solutions in which placebo pellets that had been originally treated with succussed, remedy-free solvent and then dried."
"In the present study, all data acquisition and cleaning were completed before the blind was broken. However, given the need for the most stringent methodological rigor in homeopathic studies, researchers should perform even the final statistical analyses blindly, using only bottle numbers, before breaking the codes to identify their contents in future GDV investigations."
"Perhaps GDV might be able to differentiate not between different remedies, but simply various potencies (e.g., indicative of the amount of subtle energy available in a 200 c as opposed to a 30 c or a 6 c potency)."
Acknowledgements: "Supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants K24 AT00057-02, R21 AT00315-02, P20 AT00774-01, and P50 AT00008-03."
In the second and third of my excerpts from the Discussion section, it sounds like the authors admit that there are important controls that they should have done, but did not do. Perhaps these points were raised by reviewers, but nevertheless the editors allowed the work to be published without these controls.
For some of James Randi's commentary on Gary Schwartz, see:
For a critique of Kirlian photography, see:
For a discussion of S.-Y. Lo's work on water clusters, see "One that
got away: the strange saga of 'IE-Structured Water," which can be found
near the end of this article:
Thomas J. Wheeler, Ph.D. email@example.com
Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
University of Louisville School of Medicine
Alternative medicine reading and handouts:
Sir: Johann Hari is absolutely right to insist that the frequent blurring between scientific ideas and faith-based ideas is potentially harmful ('New Age drivel and superstition posing as science', 25 May). However, he needs to develop his argument a little further, particularly when it comes to alternative medicine.
Not all 'alternative' techniques are the same: some " for example acupuncture " have far more science behind them than others. Many alternative treatments are based not on faith, but on anecdotal evidence that they are effective. In many cases, such evidence does not (yet) amount to a fully satisfactory scientific basis for treatment, which brings us to the question of why techniques so widely relied on by people with a solid western scientific education attract so little science.
The problem is funding. Science requires research " usually long- winded, painstaking research " and this costs money. Unfortunately, most alternative medicines do not provide the main funders of research, the pharmaceutical giants, with a potential revenue stream, so the science simply doesn't happen, regardless of how effective or otherwise the techniques in question appear to be. The effect of this, over decades, has been a wholly unhealthy narrowing of 'conventional' medicine to focus on drug-related 'cures', largely to the exclusion of other approaches to treating disease.
Hari describes alternative medicine as worthless and unscientific. Far better to see the better alternative treatments as reasonable scientific hypotheses desperately in need of some proper research funding.
FOREST ROW, EAST SUSSEX
Source: Independent, The; London (UK)
Reviewed by Liesl Schillinger The New York Times
FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2005
Bronchitis can be stopped in its tracks with a pack of Zithromax, but flu has to be endured. Or does it? Throughout the flu season, a homeopathic medicine with the mystical Latin name of Oscillococcinum flies off pharmacy shelves - $20 million worth sold in 1996 alone. Its active ingredient is anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum. For English speakers, that's "extract of the liver and heart of the wild duck," made into a kind of bouillon, filtered and freeze-dried, rehydrated, diluted and absorbed into tiny sugar pellets. Only one bird is needed to make a full year's global supply of these duck pills, which means there is about as much anas barbariae in a ton of this nostrum as there is Noilly Prat in an extra-dry martini. Why might this work?
As Natalie Robins explains in "Copeland's Cure," her social history of the 150-year battle between conventional and alternative medicine in the United States, the guiding principles of homeopathy are that "like cures like" and that small doses are better than big ones. These ideas are not bogus; after all, the vaccine for smallpox is made from a smidgen of the milder menace, cowpox. But why would a wisp of duck steam help a human?
All that matters, the homeopath Michael Carlston says in the book, is that the patient get better. Ask someone who isn't a homeopath, and you'll get a different opinion. The Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann derided the notion that an undetectable molecule could have a therapeutic result as "garbage physics"; other partisans of traditional medicine dismiss homeopathy as "a masquerade fakery" and a "pseudoscience."
The two camps have been feuding since the get-go - there was even a historic fistfight on the campus at Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1867. When the American Institute of Homeopathy was founded, in 1844, it was this country's first national medical organization. Three years later, rival doctors created the American Medical Association and denounced homeopathy as a delusion practiced by unsavory foreign speculators "who infest the land."
Robins concentrates on the origins of homeopathy, showing how a monomaniacal Midwestern doctor named Royal Copeland helped legitimize and popularize it. Robins paints Copeland as a hero in his own mind; a well-meaning blowhard who promulgated his homeopathic vision over a long career that ultimately landed him in the U.S. Senate, where he earned the nickname General Exodus because congressmen fled in droves during his harangues.
As an 11-year-old boy in Dexter, Michigan, in 1879, Copeland watched his grandmother save his father from a fatal fever by boiling ears of corn, packing them in linen, tucking them around him and sweating out the illness. The method - using heat to cure a fever - was homeopathic: like cures like. Copeland never forgot the lesson.
In 1908, Copeland moved to New York City, where he became head of the New York Homeopathic Medical College, and in 1918, he was appointed city health commissioner, just as the catastrophic Spanish influenza epidemic swept the country. As a preventive health measure, he advised New Yorkers to drink hot lemonade, and he put germ-blocking guards on his office phones. A shameless self-promoter, he had sincere convictions, and his dedication was instrumental in strengthening the pure food and drug laws shortly before his death in 1938.
That same year, with quaint derision, the AMA declared homeopathy "dead as a last year's bird nest." Which of us today, separated by a century from the folkloric, agricultural America that Copeland grew up in, knew that a bird's nest even had a life span?
Medical certainties, Robins shows, can't be separated from the people who hold them, or the times in which they live. And for all the advances of science, and for all the hopes of ailing humans today, who put their trust in echinacea or pine needles, the role of doctors, whether conventional or alternative, will never be entirely separate from the role of faith healer - at least not until somebody finds a cure for the flu that actually works.
Liesl Schillinger, an arts editor at The New Yorker, is a regular contributor to the Book Review.
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