NTS LogoSkeptical News for 28 October 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, October 28, 2005

Evolution education update: MSTA denounces antievolution legislation; NAS and NSTA deny permission to Kansas; Discovery and Thomas More squabble at AEI event; Kitzmiller coverage continues

The Michigan Science Teachers Association denounce a recent antievolution bill; the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association deny permission for their material to be used in the antievolution version of the Kansas science standards; and the Discovery Institute and the Thomas More Law Center squabble in public. And a reminder about sources of information -- and misinformation -- about the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover, which continues to attract journalistic attention across the country and around the word.

MSTA DENOUNCES ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION

The Michigan Science Teachers Association issued a statement denouncing House Bill 5251 in the Michigan legislature, which if enacted would require the state board of education to revise the state science standards to ensure that students will be able to "(a) use the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories including, but not limited to, the theories of global warming and evolution [and] (b) Use relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and to formulate arguments for or against those theories."

In its statement, the MSTA notes that, because the Michigan state science standards "already require students to 'use scientific knowledge to make decisions about real-world problems' and to be 'able to make informed judgments on statements and debates claiming to have a scientific basis,'" there is apparently "no valid reason for legislative intervention that would modify the existing standards as developed and adopted by the MDOE working in collaboration with Michigan's professional science education community."

Additionally, noting that "global warming and evolution are the only two theories selected for mandatory 'critical evaluation' in HB 5251," the MSTA statement observes that the proposed revision "may suggest to students and the public that these theories are somehow less robust or less scientific than are other scientific theories that were not selected for mandatory evaluation ... in clear contrast to the preponderance of scientific evidence supporting both of these theories and would represent a dishonest and unprofessional approach to the sciences and science education in Michigan."

For the complete statement, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/4027_statements_from_educational_o_9_12_2005.asp

For the MSTA website, visit:
http://www.msta-mich.org/

For NCSE's previous coverage of HB 5251, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/MI/410_antievolution_legislation_in_m_10_4_2005.asp

NAS AND NSTA DENY PERMISSION TO KANSAS

Anticipating the Kansas state board of education's expected decision to adopt a set of science standards in which the scientific status of evolution is systematically deprecated, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association have rejected the state department of education's request to use material from the NAS's National Science Education Standards and the NSTA's Pathways to Science Standards in the Kansas Science Education Standards.

In a joint statement dated October 27, 2005, the NAS and the NSTA wrote, "While there is much in the Kansas Science Education Standards that is outstanding and could serve as a model for other states, our primary concern is that the draft KSES inappropriately singles out evolution as a controversial theory despite the strength of the scientific evidence supporting evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth and its acceptance by an overwhelming majority of scientists."

The statement also noted, "[M]any of the statements made in the KSES related to the nature of science and evolution also violate the document's mission and vision. Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science endorsed the NAS's and the NSTA's decision in a press release issued on October 27, 2005. Alan Leshner said, "We need to protect the integrity of science education if we expect the young people of Kansas to be fully productive members of an increasingly competitive world economy that is driven by science and technology ... We cannot allow young people to be denied an appropriate science education simply on ideological grounds."

A story from the Associated Press (October 27, 2005) explains that "The two groups' positions mean department attorneys must scrutinize any standards the board approves to make sure they do not lift language from the national groups' material" and reports that board chair Steve Abrams (who favors the current draft of the standards) was unsure whether adoption of the standards would be delayed by the refusal to grant permission. The board is expected to discuss the standards at its next meeting, November 8 and 9, 2005.

A later story in the Washington Post (October 28, 2005) noted that the refusal to allow copyrighted material to be used in the Kansas science standards is a reprise of 1999, when the NAS, the NSTA, and the AAAS refused to allow their material to be used in a similarly flawed set of standards. (No material from the AAAS is included in the current draft.) The executive director of the NSTA, Gerald F. Wheeler, told the Post, "Science is not a dance card or jukebox where you can choose the songs you want."

Also, a story from The New York Times (October 28, 2005) added that material from the NAS's and the NSTA's publications appears throughout the draft standards; Steve Case, the chair of the original writing committee, commented, "In some cases it's just a phrase, but in some cases it's extensive ... You try to keep the idea but change the wording around; the writing becomes horrifically bad." Sue Gamble, a member of the board who opposes the current draft of the standards, said of the NAS and the NSTA's decision, "I think it will make a difference next year in the election."

For the joint statement from the NAS and the NSTA, visit:
http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/20051027.html
http://www.nsta.org/pressroom&news_story_ID=51175

For the AAAS's press release endorsing the joint statement, visit:
http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2005/1027kansas.shtml

For coverage from the Associated Press, The New York Times, and the Washington Post, visit:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/13011305.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/27/AR2005102701999.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/science/sciencespecial2/28kansas.html

DISCOVERY AND THOMAS MORE SQUABBLE AT AEI EVENT

Representatives of the Discovery Institute (the de facto institutional headquarters of "intelligent design") and the Thomas More Law Center (the law firm representing the defense in Kitzmiller v. Dover) squabbled in public at a day-long event -- "Science Wars: Should Schools Teach Intelligent Design?" -- sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC. The squabble was provoked by a question from moderator Jon Entine to panelist Mark Ryland about the Discovery Institute's role in Kitzmiller v. Dover. Ryland answered (in part), "The Discovery Institute never set out to have a school board, schools, get into this issue. We've never encouraged people to do it, we've never promoted it," and noted that the Discovery Institute advised the Dover Area School Board not to adopt the particular policy at issue.

In response, Thompson quoted a Discovery Institute publication as saying, "school boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution -- and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design." He added, "you had Discovery Institute people actually encouraging the teaching of intelligent design in public school systems." Thompson also noted that the withdrawal of three expert witnesses for the defense associated with the Discovery Institute was a problem for his legal team: "And I think what was victimized by this strategy was the Dover school board, because we could not present the expert testimony we thought we could present."

Although Kenneth R. Miller, who was a panelist in a different session of the conference, described the exchange as "the most fascinating discussion I've heard all day," the rest of the conference was interesting, too: panelists included the Discovery Institute's Paul Nelson and Brown University's Kenneth R. Miller (a Supporter of NCSE), Father George Coyne of the Vatican Observatory and Michael Novak of AEI, John Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network and Southeastern Louisiana University's Barbara Forrest (a member of NCSE's board of directors), Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University, and Steven Gey of Florida State University, Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center, and the Discovery Institute's Mark Ryland. A great deal of information about the conference is available on AEI's website.

For a rough transcript of the exchange between Ryland and Thompson, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/US/98_discovery_institute_and_thomas_10_23_2005.asp

For AEI's page for the conference, visit:
http://www.aei.org/events/eventID.1169,filter.all/event_detail.asp

KITZMILLER COVERAGE CONTINUES

The trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools, began in a federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on September 26, 2005. The media is out in force, so much so that a summary of the extensive coverage is practically impossible. Instead, please browse through the following resources, all of which are replete with links, summaries, and information -- or misinformation: caveat lector.

For official information about the trial from the court itself, visit:
http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller.htm

For information about the case from NCSE, including audio reports from NCSE staff and trial transcripts, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/kitzmiller

For information about the case from the ACLU and Americans United, visit:
http://www.aclu.org/evolution
http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_evolution

For coverage in the local press, visit:
http://www.ydr.com/news/doverbiology/
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/

For extensive blog coverage of the trial, visit The Panda's Thumb, the York Daily Record's Mike Argento, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and (with its own distinctive perspective) "Evolution News & Views," hosted by the Discovery Institute:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/09/waterloo_in_dov.html
http://www.yorkblog.com/archives/argentos_front_stoop/index.html
http://aclupa.blogspot.com/
http://www.evolutionnews.org/

REMINDER

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subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

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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.

Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

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

Evolution battle flares in Kansas schools

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/13017293.htm

Posted on Fri, Oct. 28, 2005

Organizations refuse to allow state to use science materials they developed

By RICK WEISS

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — In a new escalation of the nation's culture war over the teaching of evolution, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association said Thursday they will not allow Kansas to use key science education materials developed by the two organizations.

The refusal came after the groups reviewed the latest draft of the state Department of Education's new science education standards and concluded that they overemphasize uncertainties about the theory of evolution and fail to make clear that supernatural phenomena have no place in science.

The new draft of the Kansas education standards, subject to an up-or-down vote by the state school board in November, "inappropriately singles out evolution as a controversial theory despite the strength of the scientific evidence supporting evolution as an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth and its acceptance by an overwhelming majority of scientists," the science groups said.

Kathy Toelkes, a spokeswoman for the Kansas school board, said the board was reviewing the draft standards, but not with the goal of changing the contested sections. Rather, she said, the goal is to paraphrase the parts taken from the two national organizations so that the copyright issues become moot.

The standoff is a reprise of events in 1999 when the Academy, the science teachers group, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science withheld copyright permission for materials that Kansas sought to incorporate into science education standards it developed that year. At the time, the board had a majority who espoused creationism or intelligent design, beliefs that hold, respectively, that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and that complex life could not have arisen without help from a superintelligent being.

The Kansas standards were revised to accommodate scientists' complaints after anti-evolutionists lost their majority on the state board in 2000, but the balance of power recently reversed again.

John West of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the major force behind the intelligent design movement, decried the science organizations' latest moves.

"This is clearly an effort to censor the discussion of scientific criticism of Darwinian theory by intimidation and threat," he said.

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the Arlington-based science teachers' association, which represents 55,000 science teachers and others, disagreed.

"Science is not a dance card or jukebox where you can choose the songs you want," Wheeler said. "It's about what is the best explanation for the observations and the data we have. It's about the facts."

Intelligent design loser in moot court

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051028/NEWS21/510280359/-1/NEWS

Article published Friday, October 28, 2005

Real judges hear a mock case at UT

By IGNAZIO MESSINA BLADE STAFF WRITER

In a mock courtroom case that revolved around the concept of intelligent design, a fictitious junior high school teacher likely would have lost his bid to teach the controversial theory.

The University of Toledo college of law yesterday held its annual Charles W. Fornoff Competition, in which law students engage in appellate arguments before three actual judges.

The case, which is similar to actual court cases, including one federal trial being held in Pennsylvania, involved an eighth-grade teacher who taught intelligent design despite a school district policy prohibiting the concept.

"In the regard of intelligent design, we may change the name of God to an intelligent being," said second-year law student George Thomas, who argued for the fictitious school district. "Certainpeople could not believe in that concept."

WHAT THEY ARE

• Intelligent design is a concept that the complexity of living things is evidence for the existence of an intelligent being or cosmic designer. The concept asserts that the features of living things and the universe exhibit characteristics resulting from an intelligent design, not an unguided process such as natural selection.

• Evolution is a concept that embodies the belief that animals and plants developed by a process of gradual and continuous change from previously existing forms. The theory says groups of organisms change with the passage of time, mainly as a result of natural selection, so descendants differ physiologically from their ancestors.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds, of Detroit; U.S. District Court Judge James Carr, of Toledo, and Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals Judge William Skow, also of Toledo, said Mr. Thomas and his co-counsel Holly LeClair were the better orators and proclaimed them the winners.

But Judge Carr stressed that their decision was not an indication on how they would rule if an actual case involving intelligent design or creationism versus evolution came before any of them.

"This is an issue that could come before any of us," he said.

The proceeding captivated several hundred students who were split on the issue.

"I don't think intelligent design should be taught," said first-year law student Rebecca Dupuis. "It is endorsing certain religious perspectives"

Her classmate, Hank Schaefer, is on the other side of the argument.

"By refusing to allow [intelligent design], you are endorsing other religions," Mr. Schaefer said. "If you prohibit all religious ideas, then you are establishing atheism as the national religion"

Creationism teaches that God created life on Earth as written in the Bible's Book of Genesis. Intelligent design proposes that an unspecified intelligent entity was responsible for creating life on Earth. The designer could be God, but it also could have been space aliens, according to the theory.

The challenge to Darwin's theory of evolution was hotly debated in Ohio. The Ohio Board of Education in December, 2002 adopted language that, for the first time, said local school districts can critically analyze evolution. Parents have sued schools over the concept. Eight Pennsylvania families are suing to have intelligent design removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum.

The issue occasionally comes before local school boards.

In February, Spencer Genson, 13, a seventh grader at Leverette Junior High School, presented the Toledo Board of Education with a petition to ban the teaching of evolution in the district's seventh-grade curriculum.

Patricia Petryk, a science teacher at East Toledo's Waite High School, said creationism and intelligent design is explained to students.

"If they bring it up, we do explain to them both sides," Mrs. Petryk said. "As far as I know, there is no teacher that judges the kid if they believe in evolution or not. … Evolution is still a theory, and no teacher says it is a law."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:
imessina@theblade.com
or 419-724-6171.

A place for intelligent design

http://www.villanovan.com/media/paper581/news/2005/10/28/Opinion/A.Place.For.Intelligent.Design-1036717.shtml

The Villanovan - Opinion Issue: 10/28/05

By Oscar Abello

A CBS News poll conducted this October found that 51 percent of adults nationwide believe that God created humans in their present form, 30 percent believe humans evolved with the guidance of God, 15 percent believe humans evolved without God's guidance, and 4 percent are unsure.

Writing this column in a college newspaper, I ask what I assume to be a highly educated audience: Do those numbers shock any of you? How about this number: 55 percent of adults take the Bible to be literally true, from Genesis to Revelations.

It's a well-known fact that America is close to, if not the most religious of the industrialized nations. As advanced as we are, how have we maintained such a strong attachment to an archaic tradition as creationism? It's disturbing to note that more than half our country has failed to learn or been denied the opportunity to learn more about the Bible and about the faith they wished they had. Even more disturbing is the method by which we have attempted to modernize creationism: "intelligent design."

By intelligent design, what is being proposed is that this world, and especially humans, are so beautiful and complicated that natural forces could not have possibly sculpted such a beautiful world and such a complicated species as humanity. The only thing, says intelligent design, that could be behind all of this is some sort of creative force. Note the word: creative.

Proponents of intelligent design insist that we need to teach this philosophy to children in our classrooms, trumpeting it as simply "another way of thinking," and that our children should be exposed to diverse and even opposing ways of thinking, in order to give them an open mind.

Here's the thing about our classrooms: as part of this government, they can't be used to establish religion. Intelligent design is a religious maxim, not a scientific theory.

If it were a theory, we could teach it, but intelligent design isn't science because you can't perform an experiment to empirically prove it wrong or right.

Religious maxims can be perfectly valid and valuable ways of thinking, and if you know me personally, you know that I am of the inclination to accept some religious maxims. Regardless of my personal opinion of their importance, they don't belong in the classroom, and let me tell you why:

Advocates of intelligent design might call themselves people of faith, but amen I tell you, the faith they speak of is false. If you think we need to tell children that God makes them, if you think we need to plant the seeds of faith in our children, then you need to open your hearts and minds to a dignified image of God.

Those of us whose faith is true understand that if God is real, then everyone at some point will come to know his truth, because God has already planted that seed in each of us, and in order to cultivate that seed, you don't water it with words in a classroom, you water it by living out God's message in your daily life.

Reducing God to an answer on a test is a shameful cheapening of divine truth. Those of us who study God know that the more we study Him and His truth, the more questions we find, not answers. Questions lead the way to God; answers only limit us and our experience of the divine.

All of this is under the assumption that God indeed makes us, and if you're afraid to discuss that question, advocate or antagonist, then your faith or your science is lacking of something.

Science does require faith - the faith to step forward and challenge what is believed to be true. Faith does require science - the hit-or-miss scientific method to continually experiment with what may be wrong and what may be right. These are only small and generalized examples of why science and faith need each other - but we have to be careful to maintain the distinction between the two, because only one belongs in the classroom: science.

You can't teach faith. You have to live it.

Intelligent design advocate denies religious agenda

http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=uri:2005-10-27T223429Z_01_KRA781228_RTRUKOC_0_US-LIFE-EVOLUTION.xml&pageNumber=1&summit=

Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:34 PM ET

By Jon Hurdle

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A leading critic of teaching evolution in a Pennsylvania school district denied on Thursday he wanted students to learn about biblical accounts of the origins of life.

William Buckingham, who headed the curriculum committee of Dover Area School Board, told federal court he had not meant to cite creationism as an alternative to evolution when interviewed by local TV in 2004.

"I was like a deer in the headlights of a car," Buckingham said. "That was the first time I had ever been interviewed, and I misspoke."

The court was shown a video of the interview in which Buckingham said students should be taught evolution as well as alternatives such as creationism, based on biblical teachings.

The court is hearing arguments in the fourth week of a trial in which a group of parents is suing the school district for its decision to include "intelligent design" in biology classes.

Intelligent design holds that some aspects of nature are so complex they must have been the work of an intelligent creator, rather than the result of natural selection as argued by Charles Darwin in his 1859 theory of evolution.

Proponents contend intelligent design is not a religious concept and has scientific underpinnings.

The parents, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, say the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state because intelligent design is a religious concept and so may not be taught in public schools.

The case is the first legal challenge to the teaching of intelligent design and is being watched in at least 30 states where Christian conservatives are planning similar initiatives.

The school board's policy, adopted in October of 2004, requires students be read a four-paragraph statement saying there are gaps in the theory of evolution. Teachers have refused to read the statement, which has so far been read by administrators.

Buckingham, a retired prison supervisor, admitted to the court he had attacked evolution and argued for students to be taught Christianity at various times before the school board adopted its policy.

He acknowledged telling a reporter in June of 2004 "this country was not founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such."

But he denied a report in a local newspaper, the York Daily Record, that he had complained in a school board meeting that "liberals and black robes are taking away the rights of Christians."

Buckingham acknowledged he had collected about $850 from members of his church to pay for about 60 copies of "Of Pandas And People," a textbook provided to students who wanted to learn more about intelligent design.

Stephen Harvey, an attorney for the parents, accused Buckingham of trying to hide the source of the money to avoid accusations the books were religiously motivated.

Harvey also accused Buckingham of telling the court a different story about the source of the money from the account he had provided in a deposition in January. "Mr. Buckingham, you lied to me in deposition, isn't that true," Harvey said.

Buckingham also said he was concerned that students were being taught that "men descended from monkeys."

He acknowledged having disparaged the separation of church and state as "mythical" and having referred to the biology curriculum as laced with Darwinism.

The trial, which began September 26, is expected to end on November 4. The school district is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a group of Christian litigators based in Michigan that told Buckingham about the textbook, "Of Pandas And People."

© Reuters 2005.

Kosky rules intelligent design a faith

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/kosky-rules-intelligent-design-a-faith/2005/10/28/1130400365346.html

Victoria's government schools will treat intelligent design as a religious faith, not science, Education Minister Lynne Kosky has ruled.

In her first statement on the subject, Ms Kosky reaffirmed the principle that government schools were secular and did not promote any religion.

She said the two areas in which religion could be discussed were optional religious education lessons and VCE studies comparing religions.

"In line with the above principles, schools can decide whether to offer intelligent design as part of religious instruction," Ms Kosky said. "Parents will be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from the lesson." Intelligent design argues that gaps in Darwin's theory of evolution point to an "intelligent designer" of life.

Supporters of the theory, which include US President George Bush argue that the theory is scientific. Critics call it creationism in another guise.

Last week a coalition representing 70,000 Australian scientists and teachers likened it to the flat-earth theory.

SHANE GREEN

Kosky rules intelligent design a faith

Email Print Normal font Large font October 29, 2005

Advertisement AdvertisementVictoria's government schools will treat intelligent design as a religious faith, not science, Education Minister Lynne Kosky has ruled.

In her first statement on the subject, Ms Kosky reaffirmed the principle that government schools were secular and did not promote any religion.

She said the two areas in which religion could be discussed were optional religious education lessons and VCE studies comparing religions.

"In line with the above principles, schools can decide whether to offer intelligent design as part of religious instruction," Ms Kosky said. "Parents will be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from the lesson." Intelligent design argues that gaps in Darwin's theory of evolution point to an "intelligent designer" of life.

Supporters of the theory, which include US President George Bush argue that the theory is scientific. Critics call it creationism in another guise.

Last week a coalition representing 70,000 Australian scientists and teachers likened it to the flat-earth theory.

SHANE GREEN

Intelligent Design, Creationism Seen as 'Totally Separate' Says Superintendent

http://www.christianpost.com/article/society/1936/section/superintendent.testifies.intelligent.design.creationism.as.totally.separate/1.htm

Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005 Posted: 6:03:07PM EST

A superintendent who worked together with the local school board to add mention of intelligent design theory to the science curriculum in 2004 said that he did not view design and creationism as being related, in testimony he gave last week in federal court.

The case of "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District," which began Sept. 26, revolves around a curriculum change in a Pennsylvania school district that requires biology teachers to read a statement before a ninth grade biology class which states that evolution theory is "not a fact" and contains inexplicable "gaps." In addition, intelligent design is mentioned as one alternative theory of how life came to be, while students are directed to a textbook on the topic.

"I did not see intelligent design as creationism. I saw them totally separate," said Superintendent Richard Nilsen during testimony last Friday according to the Associated Press. "Creationism references Genesis. ... Intelligent design does not reference a biblical context at all."

The theory of intelligent design holds that some aspects of nature are so complex that they point to the work of an unidentified intelligent designer. Opponents say that the theory is creationism disguised as science.

Nilsen was the second defense witness following expert testimony from Michael Behe, a biochemistry professor and-well known proponent of intelligent design who holds that design is a scientific theory based on observable facts and evidence.

During testimony last Thursday, Nilsen said that he came to the conclusion that it was legal to use the term "intelligent design" in the classroom and also endorse a design text book after consulting with the school district solicitor.

He approved despite concerns by some teachers that they would be held liable for mentioning design and the book. Nilsen believed that if anyone would be held liable, it would not be them because the statement was a school board directive.

Early on in the case – which is slated to end by early November – scientists, professors, teachers, and administrators from on the parent's side were the first to testify, alleging that not only was intelligent design theory religious, but that the board members involved in making the decision were also motivated by religion.

Those who testified said that board members had discussed introducing creationism into the curriculum. The two most mentioned board members were Alan Bonsell, who witnesses say expressed a wish to see evolution and creationism being taught equally at school retreats in 2002 and 2003, and board member William Buckingham, who allegedly referred to the crucifixion of Jesus during one board meeting regarding curriculum changes.

Nilsen testified that he could not remember Bonsell discussing creationism because he was more preoccupied with other matters but did acknowledge that he had taken notes which put the word "creationism" next to "topics of interest" for Bonsell.

In addition, the superintendent said that he had received two DVDs about intelligent design from Buckingham but that he had given them to his assistant superintendent who was in charge of the school curriculum.

Francis Helguero francis@christianpost.com

Science groups balk at Kansas proposal

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/13015173.htm

Posted on Fri, Oct. 28, 2005

JOHN HANNA

Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - Two national groups say the state can't use their copyrighted material in proposed science standards that critics contend promote creationism.

The National Academy of Sciences and National Science Teachers Association called the proposed standards misleading and objected to language - sought by intelligent-design advocates - suggesting some evolutionary theory isn't solid.

"To say that evolution is sort of on the ropes is unfair to the students of Kansas," said Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the teachers' association.

The State Board of Education is set to vote Nov. 8 on whether to adopt the new standards, which must be updated periodically under Kansas law. Current standards treat evolution as a well-established theory that is crucial to understanding science.

Six of the board's 10 members have shown support for the proposed standards, saying they want to give students a more balanced view of evolution.

The standards are used to develop student achievement tests but don't mandate how science is taught.

It was not immediately clear whether the 107-page proposed standards use direct language from any of the groups' copyrighted material. If the revised standards are adopted, state officials would have to review them for copyright violations.

Phillip Johnson, a retired law professor who sometimes is called the father of the intelligent-design movement, called the groups' decision, announced Wednesday, "panicky and hysterical."

"We're not out to damage science," he told a student group at Washburn University on Thursday. "We're out to make science more interesting. We think we're friends of science - true science."

Intelligent design says some natural features are best explained as having an intelligent cause because they're well-ordered and complex. Its advocates also attack evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes could have created the building blocks of life, that all life has a common origin and that apes and man have a common ancestor.

Detractors contend intelligent design is repackaged creationism, which the Supreme Court has banned from classrooms as promoting a narrow religious view.

ON THE NET

National academy: http://www.nasonline.org

Teachers' group: http://www.nsta.org

Board of Education: http://www.ksde.org/commiss/board.html

Interview Contradicts Testimony In Creationism Case

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7000759112

October 28, 2005 3:39 p.m. EST

Andrea Moore - All Headline News Staff Reporter

Harrisburg, PA (AHN) - A former Pennsylvania school board member who denied saying creationism should be taught alongside evolution in high school biology classes has changed his story after being confronted in court with TV news footage.

William Buckingham explained that he "misspoke" during the TV interview.

The revelation comes in the fifth week of court testimony in a lawsuit filed by eight families who are challenging the Dover Area School District's policy requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design in Biology classes.

Critics of intelligent design say it is a clever repackaging of the biblical story of creation and thus violates the constitutional separation of state and church.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Purdue brings 80-year-old debate to Loeb

http://www.purdueexponent.org/index.php/module/Issue/action/Article/article_id/1533

By Craig Davison Features Editor

The clash of science and God in public schools has fought in U.S. courts for 80 years.

John Scopes was found guilty in 1925 by a Tennessee jury of teaching evolution in his class, violating an act passed by the Tennessee General Assembly earlier that year.

Evolution is no longer the theory being taken to court, but the issue largely remains the same as court cases arise about a metaphysical creation theory alternative to evolution.

In Dover, Penn., there is an on-going class-action law suit because the school board mandated science teachers to read a four-paragraph statement on intelligent design as an alternative to the Darwinian evolutionary view of the world.

Intelligent design is the theory stating life on Earth is the result of an unidentified intelligent designer and that Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection cannot completely explain the origin of life or the appearance of highly complex life forms.

The debate is going to continue at Purdue tonight and Friday night, as Convocations presents "The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial," a recreation of the Scopes trial. Tonight's show is at 7:30 p.m. in Loeb Playhouse and 8 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are $34 for the public and $24 for Purdue students. They can be bought at campus box offices or by calling 494-3933.

"The thing that makes this so interesting is that this trial happened in 1925 and we're still having these trials now," said Howard Weiss, professor and department head of psychological sciences. Weiss, along with professor of psychological sciences John Capaldi and associate professor of anthropology Andrew Buckser, will be presenting a discussion panel to College of Liberal Arts honors students before tonight's performance. The panel will discuss the debate of evolution and intelligent design.

Weiss said it is not appropriate to propose intelligent design as an alternate scientific theory. He said intelligent design is not a science theory by any standard of science. There is no testable hypothesis.

"If we teach in our classes what is poor science or non-science, we are burdening generations of students to come with a handicap," he said. "We have to recognize science and mathematics are the engines of progress in our society."

He said that proponents of intelligent design defend their position by pointing out flaws in evolution, but this argument is based upon misreading or ignoring facts.

Weiss said claims that there are no intermediate species between modern and primitive life are false. He said there are fossil examples from intermediate species that were found at the point in the geological time scale evolution said it would. He also said theories about evolution's inability to create irreducibly complex features ? parts of life so complex that if one part were removed, the organism could not function ? can be proved by evolution's gradual changes.

Weiss said the argument for intelligent design is an argument from analogy. Everywhere there are complex machines built by a designer, he said, pointing to the lamp and computer at his desk. The argument from analogy assumes that the world, something infinitely more complex than anything humans could make, is also the product of a designer.

But he asserts this argument has two discrepancies. The world is complex, but has flaws, such as the eye's blind spot, and if the argument of the intelligent designer is accepted, the designer must also have flaws. However, this argument is sometimes countered by recognizing flaws but stating we cannot know the intentions of the designer.

Weiss said this argument takes the nature of the discussion away from science and adds a metaphysical figure.

A local pastor said the discussion must include God. The Rev. Bill Mickler, senior pastor at the Victory Christian Center in Lafayette, said that the center supports creationism as God intended it to be and as God described it in the Bible.

Mickler said that he does not like the term intelligent design because all of mankind was created by God and he does not want to "water down" that sentiment with an idea more abstract.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, said Mickler, we are given revelations of things God Himself wants us to know.

"The natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God for their foolishness to Him, nor can He know them," said Mickler, who remembers his public school in his youth that taught him creationism from textbooks.

"In my spirit, I know the Holy Spirit has confirmed to me that God has created mankind," he said in a phone interview. "So any intellectual discussion, to me, is a waste of time, if a person is not wanting to hear from the Holy Spirit."

Mickler said that he thinks creationism could be taught in all classes in school, but should certainly be taught in science classes.

"If God is the author of science, and it cannot be disproved that he is the author of science, then how can it be wrong to teach creationism in science class?"

And while some, like Mickler, believe intelligent design or creationism should be taught in school, and the trial in Dover has made the issue more public, none of the science classes at West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School teach intelligent design or creationism.

Linda Anderson, a biology teacher for 19 years, said that this is because both of the ideas are based on religious belief.

"Science and religion are two distinctly different ways of learning about life," said Anderson in an e-mail. "In science, we do not base our conclusions or answers to question on belief ? only on evidence."

She said that science is to gain knowledge of the natural world because the natural world can be observed. To her, beliefs are religion, which cannot be tested scientifically.

"Creationism is based on chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis and is a religious belief. Both of these ideas may or may not be true. It is not for science to say, since they are religious beliefs based on religious faith."

Former school board member `misspoke' in advocating creationism

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/103-10272005-561269.html

By MARTHA RAFFAELE The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A former school board member who denied advocating that creationism be taught alongside evolution in high-school biology classes changed his story Thursday after lawyers in a federal courtroom played a TV news clip that recorded him making such a comment.

William Buckingham explained the discrepancy by saying that he "misspoke."

Buckingham's testimony came in the fifth week of testimony in a lawsuit filed by eight families who are challenging the Dover Area School District's policy that students hear a statement about intelligent design in biology classes. Critics say intelligent design is a repackaging of the biblical view of creation and thus violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Buckingham, who led the board's curriculum committee when it approved the policy a year ago, confirmed Thursday that he said during a June 2004 board meeting that the biology textbook is "laced with Darwinism." The clip that was shown later in the day came from an interview that he gave to a news crew from WPMT-TV in York later in the month.

"It's OK to teach Darwin," he said in the interview, "but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism."

Asked to explain by a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Buckingham said he felt "ambushed" by the camera crew as he walked across a parking lot to his car and that he had been consciously trying to avoid mentioning creationism.

"I had it in my mind to make sure not to talk about creationism. I had it on my mind. I was like a deer in the headlights. I misspoke," he told U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who is presiding over the non-jury trial.

Earlier in Thursday's court session, Buckingham claimed that he had been misquoted in stories from two newspapers that reported his advocating the teaching of creationism to counterbalance the material on evolution.

"It's just another instance when we would say intelligent design and they would print creationism," he said.

When Stephen Harvey, the plaintiffs' lawyer, noted the similarity of the newspaper reports to what he told the TV crew, Buckingham replied, "That doesn't mean it's accurate."

Buckingham moved to North Carolina in July and resigned from the board, citing health problems.

The statement that the Dover teachers are required to read before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution says Darwin's theory is not a fact and has inexplicable gaps. It refers students to a textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.

Intelligent design supporters argue that natural selection, an element of evolutionary theory, cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms.

The trial began Sept. 26 and could last through early November.

The plaintiffs are represented by a team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The school district is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that says its mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians.

On the Net:

Dover Area School District: http://www.dover.k12.pa.us

National Center for Science Education: http://www.ncseweb.org

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

Judge won't accept proponents' reports

http://www.pennlive.com/news/patriotnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1130404842201760.xml&coll=1

Thursday, October 27, 2005
BY BILL SULON
Of The Patriot-News

A federal judge has rejected an attempt to inject the reports of two leading proponents of intelligent design into the trial on the Dover Area School District's disputed science curriculum policy.

U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III this week barred the submission of reports by Stephen C. Meyer and William Dembski, philosophers and authors affiliated with the Discovery Institute, a leader in the intelligent-design movement that is at the center of the trial.

School-district policy requires that a four-paragraph statement on intelligent design be read to ninth-grade students at the start of a science unit on evolution. The statement says evolution is not a fact and refers to intelligent design as an alternative.

Intelligent-design proponents say that aspects of the universe and life are so complex that they must be the result of an intelligent designer. Opponents, including 11 Dover parents who sued the district, say that intelligent design is religious and that teaching it in schools violates the First Amendment.

The trial resumes today.

Meyer and Dembski had been expected to testify during the trial, but backed out last summer after a rift over how to handle legal representation developed between the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the Thomas More Law Center, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based firm representing the school district.

The Discovery Institute last week asked Jones to accept Meyer's written analysis of a report written by Dembski. In rejecting the request, Jones said it was fundamentally unfair to accept Meyer's brief.

"We will not countenance what is clearly a 'back door' attempt to insert expert testimony into the record free of the crucible of trial and cross-examination," Jones wrote.

"Over the course of this trial we have provided both parties with every opportunity to present their expert witnesses, and accordingly the parties have engaged in thorough cross-examination of the opposing experts," he wrote.

Former Dover school board member William Buckingham and two reporters from the York Daily Record and York Dispatch are scheduled to testify today. The reporters are expected to affirm the accuracy of articles they wrote last summer in which Buckingham made religious references leading up to the district's adoption of the policy on intelligent design.

The Discovery Institute and the Thomas More Law Center are at odds over how the concept is being addressed in the Dover trial.

Harvard Medical School News Tips: Book Rebuts Intelligent Design; Gore Speaks on Environment; Climate Change Study Findings Teleconference

http://newswire.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20051027.075022&time=10%2025%20PDT&year=2005&public=0

Thu Oct 27 10:24:59 2005 Pacific Time

BOSTON, Oct. 27 (AScribe Newswire) -- Harvard Medical School today released the following news tips. For more information or media assistance, please contact Leah Gourley or John Lacey, 617-432-0442, public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu.

NEW BOOK EXPLAINS HOW EVOLUTION REALLY WORKS, REBUTS INTELLIGENT DESIGN

In a new book, "The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma," Harvard Medical School's Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart, of the University of California-Berkeley address a key problem in evolutionary theory that has puzzled scientists from Darwin on and which is now under intense scrutiny by proponents of intelligent design: where do the big jumps come from in evolution? Kirschner, HMS professor and chair of the Dept. of Systems Biology, and Gerhart show that newly discovered molecular properties of organisms facilitate evolution.

The origin of novelty, the development of new arrangements of interlocking parts that some call "irreducibly complex," can only be understood in the light of the last 20 years of research in cell biology and development.

We now know that the "parts" that make up a living organism are very unlike the rigid parts designed for machines. Instead, they can flexibly connect and re-connect, using the same pieces over and over to make new functions. For example, one might think that a mutation that makes the neck of a giraffe longer would have to be accompanied by several other mutations, one that expands the length of the muscles of the neck, another that makes the blood vessels longer, and so on. But instead, the muscles grow to fit the length of the bone and the blood vessels grow until all the muscles have a sufficient supply of oxygen. Apparently very complex adaptations can therefore be achieved with few, simple mutations.

Today, it is understood for the first time that all animals use the same set of core processes to develop into adult forms. Applying this knowledge to evolution, the authors show that novel traits emerge from the ways the organism is constructed: its complex mechanisms for adapting to the environment, its modular construction, and its internal circuitry that can be re-specified and reconnected.

ABOUT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL (http://hms.harvard.edu/): Harvard Medical School has more than 6,000 full-time faculty working in eight academic departments based at the School's Boston quadrangle or in one of 47 academic departments at 18 Harvard teaching hospitals and research institutes. Those Harvard hospitals and research institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, the CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Forsyth Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and VA Boston Healthcare System.

Media Contact: Leah Gourley or John Lacey, 617-432-0442, public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Intelligent design's plea for help

http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/91282/

MIKE ARGENTO Tuesday, October 25, 2005

HARRISBURG — Monday saw the return of the Big Tent.

At least, this time, it was referred to as a Big Tent and not the Big Ten, which has nothing to do with this, but does permit mention that, at this point in time, the Penn State football team is in first place in the Big Ten, a development that is of much more importance to a lot of people around here than what's going on during Day Whatever of the Dover Panda Trial. (Sorry, I lost track.)

So it's Big Tent, which may or may not be a disparaging term, depending on who's using it or what they mean, if it's actually referring to a tent and not, say, a large gazebo or, perhaps, one of those screened-in jobs you put in the yard for your kid's birthday party.

The witness in question, the only witness of the day, one Steve William Fuller, a philosopher, historian and sociologist of science from England, was referring to evolutionary theory as a Big Tent, offering shelter to a variety of biological disciplines and ideas and other science stuff.

In that way, the Big Tent is not a bad thing.

Under cross-examination, Fuller said intelligent design also provided a Big Tent.

It's a very different tent. An article by an adherent of intelligent design titled "Life In The Big Tent" claimed intelligent design provided a Big Tent for young-Earth creationists, old-Earth creationists, special creationists and all other variety of creationists, from biblical literalists to guys who think we descended from space aliens.

Fuller objected. "That's not the intelligent design I'm talking about."

It wasn't really clear exactly which intelligent design he was talking about.

Is it a "fig leaf" for creationism, devised to get around the Supreme Court prohibition on teaching creationism in public schools? Is it science under the established definition of science, or under a definition that includes astrology? Or is it something else?

He said it's something else, I think, but never really got around to saying exactly what it is.

On the positive side, he seemed very energetic about whatever it is. He was more animated than the Cartoon Network and talked really fast. As he announced the first break of the court session, federal Judge John E. Jones III pointed to Fuller and suggested to the school board attorney, Pat Gillen, "Water or decaf."

I would have made a different suggestion.

NyQuil.

A whole bottle.

The bottom line of Fuller's testimony is that intelligent design as a science is not accepted because the rest of the scientists won't let it in their little club. It's as if the real scientists are the cool kids, smoking out behind the administration building at recess, and intelligent design is the geeky kid who isn't allowed to join them because he just isn't cool enough.

What Fuller was suggesting, I think, is that science won't let intelligent design in merely because it doesn't meet the requirements of a scientific theory, as far as science is concerned.

In fact, he said to call intelligent design a scientific theory, you had to change the definition of a scientific theory. The last defense witness who did that said his definition of a scientific theory included astrology. (I don't mean to disparage astrology, which has proven to be scarily accurate since that witness uttered those words.)

Fuller said intelligent design is, essentially, a half-baked idea, pretty much something the intelligent design guys have whipped up without doing much in the way of producing evidence.

And that's why it should be taught to ninth-graders in Dover.

You know, I can come up with a lot of half-baked ideas that no one in their right mind would want to teach to kids in Dover. Let's see. How about this? Cows think in Spanish. Discuss.

Anyway, Fuller said intelligent design "needed to be mainstreamed," which I guess is a polite way of saying that in its current embryological state, it rides the short bus of science. (I apologize for that comment. But if you think that was bad, I could have come up with worse.)

And in another bit of testimony, he said intelligent design needed "affirmative action."

Which raises the question: Why drag the brothers into it? Mike Argento, whose column appears Mondays and Thursdays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints, can be reached at 771-2046 or at mike@ydr.com. Read more Argento columns at ydr.com/mike.

IN COURT MONDAY

http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/91264/

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Trial schedule grows

What? Eleven people whose children attend or plan to attend Dover schools sued the Dover Area School District and the school board, claiming the board's decision to make intelligent design part of the science curriculum violates the separation of church and state.

The district says it wanted to give fair time to an alternative to evolution theory. Evolution is widely accepted as the unifying concept of biology. Intelligent design says evolution can't explain the complexity of life and that an unnamed designer must have been at work.

The judge: Judge John E. Jones III will issue his decision at a time of his choosing after the trial.

Days added: Jones added Friday and Oct. 31 to the trial schedule and aims to wrap up by Nov. 4. Trial dates are Thursday, Friday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 through 4.

Why it matters: The case is the most significant court challenge to evolution since 1987, and it's the first time a court has been asked to rule whether intelligent design can be taught in public school science class. Experts say the case's outcome could influence how science is defined and taught in schools across the country. The lead defense lawyer said he wants to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Quote of the day

"We'll have to see if it pans out scientifically." — Steve Fuller, professor of sociology at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, about intelligent design.

Request dismissed

The judge granted a plaintiffs' motion to strike an amicus brief filed by the Discovery Institute in support of the concept of intelligent design.

In the brief, the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute urged the judge to rule that teaching the concept is not unconstitutional.

The brief asserted that there are several secular reasons for teaching intelligent design, such as telling students about theories of biological origins and improving critical thinking skills.

But plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the brief was an attempt to get in the expert testimony of two Discovery fellows, William Dembski and Stephen Meyer, without subjecting them to cross examination.

What's next?

Former Dover Area School Board member Bill Buckingham is expected to testify Thursday.

Kansas Museum Opens Evolution Exhibit

http://www.newsday.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-evolution-exhibit,0,6993353.story

By JOHN MILBURN Associated Press Writer

October 25, 2005, 10:27 PM EDT

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Upstairs from the Natural Selections gift shop is what directors of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas believe will be the latest word in an ongoing ruckus over evolution.

The "Explore Evolution" exhibit is part of a six-university program to educate the public about evolution and its role in explaining the natural world. The exhibit opens to the public Nov. 1, with the money coming from a $2.8 million National Science Foundation grant.

Although planning for the project has taken four years, it is debuting as evolution's place in science classrooms is being debated in Kansas, a federal trial in Pennsylvania and even at the White House.

Leonard Krishtalka, director of the university's biodiversity institute, described evolution Tuesday as the "single-most unifying concept" in evolutionary biology. The exhibit demonstrates that evolutionary concepts are woven into numerous scientific disciplines.

"It's not a textbook on evolution," Krishtalka said, during a museum preview for reporters. "This exhibit isn't designed to convert anyone."

The exhibit fills a display gallery in Dyche Hall on the Lawrence campus. Hanging across the entry for the exhibit is a giant mosasaur, a lizard that lived in the inland sea that covered Kansas 65 million to 90 million years ago.

Seven stations describe scientists' research around the globe and the importance of evolution in understanding the mutation of diseases, such as HIV, and the relationship between humans and chimpanzees.

Exhibits also are planned for or have opened at the universities of Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Minnesota Science Museum in Minneapolis.

Krishtalka said all visitors are welcome, though he expects that some, including advocates of intelligent design, will come looking to debate evolution. Intelligent design -- a concept Krishtalka calls "creationism in a cheap tuxedo" -- says some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause.

"If there are any debates, I'm sure they will be done informally," he said, adding he expects intelligent design advocates to leave literature at the exhibit criticizing evolution.

Earlier this month, John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, called the exhibit "in-your-face evangelism," designed to promote evolution as a creed.

Krishtalka said he had no trouble with a discussion of evolution among educators but added that science seeks natural explanations for the history and development of the universe. He said religion seeks to give humans a sense of purpose in that universe.

"One is science; one is not," he said.

Next month, the State Board of Education is expected to adopt revised science standards reflecting skepticism of evolutionary theory. Its conservative majority contends it's promoting a balanced view of evolution.

But Krishtalka said the conservatives are wrong to let their religious and political leanings interfere with good science for the second time in six years.

In 1999, a conservative-led board removed most references to evolution from the state's science standards -- a decision reversed two years later.

"Much of science has many unanswered questions. But that's no reason to throw up your hands and say some supernatural force must be at work," he said.

A poll in August suggested a majority of Americans believe creationism should be taught with evolution in schools. Krishtalka said such views show that science has failed to properly educate students.

President Bush has endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution. But in Pennsylvania, a trial is underway in a federal lawsuit filed by parents against a school district that required teachers to read a brief statement referring students to an intelligent-design textbook for information about "gaps" in evolutionary theory.

Kansas Board of Education Chairman Steve Abrams, said he's not worried about whether the exhibit will be slanted and is not sure it will influence the debate.

"I think anytime that you can combine history and a little bit of education, I think it's a great opportunity," said Abrams, an Arkansas City veterinarian. "I've been to exhibits like that many times in the past. I've enjoyed them."

On the Net:

University of Kansas Natural History Museum: http://www.nhm.ku.edu

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

Creationism insults my intelligence and my faith

http://www.delmarvanow.com/deweybeach/stories/20051026/2215989.html

By Joyce Mullins

Like gnats around a fruit bowl, I think the religious right is trying to annoy us into submission.

If it's not restoring prayer in public schools or making sure the words "under God" stay in the Pledge of Allegiance, it's defying the Constitution and the Supreme Court with their insistence on dumbing down science in our schools.

The newest weapon in their arsenal is a demand that public schools teach what they call Intelligent Design (or I.D.) as an alternative to Charles Darwin's scientific theory of natural selection.

The latest skirmish is taking place in a federal court in Pennsylvania where 11 parents have brought a lawsuit against the Dover, Pa., school board to stop it from pushing the teaching of I.D. by the district's science teachers.

I'm sure many readers did the same double-take I did when they first saw a report mentioning "the Dover school board" before realizing Dover, Del., does not have a Dover School Board.

It's Dover, Pa., and not all that far from Delaware -- about 7 miles from York, Pa. It's close enough to give us a heads-up.

I have two arguments with the religious right about this assault on education. One is based on science and the other on faith.

The I.D. argument is, despite its proponents' protests to the contrary, just another Creationist theory. They do this "wink" and "nod" thing pretending they don't really mean God when they say Designer and they've dressed it up in pseudo-scientific talk, but it's the old 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial fodder all over again.

The premise of I.D. is that the creation of the world and human life is just too complex therefore there must have been a master designer. A favorite argument is that the odds against DNA coming together by chance are mathematically too miniscule to be considered.

I think University of Hawaii professor of physics Victor J. Stenger got it right when he countered, saying DNA did not do this "purely by chance," and that chance is only half the story because it occurs by "a combination of chance and the laws of physics."

Reading that I thought, well, the religious right must think we will overlook the fact that even chance is a layman's term for mathematical probability theory.

Then I found an argument by John Allen Paulos, the Temple University mathematics professor who has written a book with which I am actually familiar -- "Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences."

He said "...rarity by itself shouldn't necessarily be evidence of anything" and I just laughed out loud.

Richard Dawkins, another scientist, does an even better job shooting down their silly DNA argument saying, "By invoking a supernatural designer is to explain precisely nothing for it leaves unexplained the origin of the designer. You have to say something like 'God was always there,' and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well say 'DNA was always there,' or 'Life was always there," and be done with it."

My main fight with these people is more personal.

They insult my faith when they presume they have the right to interpret what span of time God meant by "a day" or any other thing in the beautiful Creation story of Genesis.

They presume to teach their religion as science to my grandchildren and my community in our schools. What arrogance!

Joyce Mullins has worked for newspapers in Delaware for more than 30 years. Send feedback to jmullins03@comcast.net.
Originally published Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Middle-Age People More Likely To Use Alternative Medicine

http://www.wfmynews2.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=50828

Middle-age people are more likely than younger or older adults to use complementary and alternative medicine.

Winston-Salem, NC - Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine did the study.

"Midlife adults entered adulthood at a time of more widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the population and when public health policy was shifting attention toward individual responsibility for health and health promotion," said Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD, and his colleagues, writing in the October issue of the Journal of Aging and Health.

"Current use of CAM among adults was likely shaped by the relative availability of CAM and prevailing public health policies in place when adults began making their own health-related decisions."

But the researchers added that the middle-age adults are more likely than either young adults or older adults to use CAM for prevention rather than for treatment of specific conditions.

"This study provides the first estimates of notable age-related differences in whether CAM is used to treat an existing health condition or for illness prevention and health promotion," he said.

Grzywacz, assistant professor of family and community medicine, said the researchers got their results from data for 31,044 people who participated in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. The survey is a national sample of Americans that has been conducted annually since 1957 by the National Center of Health Statistics, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey included questions on 20 types of complementary and alternative medicine, which Grzywacz and his colleagues grouped into four categories:

·Alternative medical systems, such as acupuncture, homeopathy and naturopathy.

·Biologically based therapies, such as chelation therapy, folk medicine, herb use, special diets, or megavitamins.

·Manipulative and body-based methods, such as chiropractic or massage.

·Mind-body interventions such as relaxation techniques (meditation), movement therapies (yoga) and healing rituals.

In each case, the survey asked participants whether they used it for treatment, for prevention, for both, or not at all.

"Some types of complementary and alternative medicine, such as alternative medicine systems, are used primarily for treating existing conditions," Grzywacz said. "Others, such as mind-body interventions are used primarily for illness prevention and health promotion."

But the biologically based therapies are used almost equally for treatment and prevention.

The study, which was paid for with a grant from the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, also looked at differences by race and ethnicity. The data showed that use of the biologically based therapies, such as folk medicine and herb use, rose steadily by age group among Hispanics until old age, while use by whites and blacks peaked in middle age.

Among the other members of the large School of Medicine research group were Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, professor of family and community medicine, and Ronny A. Bell, PhD, associate professor, Wei Lang, PhD, assistant professor, and Sara A. Quandt, PhD, professor, all of the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Rosemary Plybon , Web Producer
created: 10/26/2005 10:17:54 AM
Last updated: 10/26/2005 10:42:27 AM

Intelligent design theory invades forum among board of education candidates

http://news.newstimeslive.com/story.php?id=75983&category=Local

By Fred Lucas THE NEWS-TIMES

BROOKFIELD — The national debate over intelligent design, an alternative to the theory of evolution in explaining how the universe formed, came to town Monday.

The occasion was a candidates' forum in the Brookfield High School library for anyone running for election next month. It was sponsored by the Brookfield League of Women Voters.

While candidates for the board of education did not claim to have the answers about how life began, most have an idea what they want students to be taught.

Candidate Belinda Samuel thinks intelligent design should be considered for the science curriculum.

"It would foster a lot of creative thinking from students," Samuel said. "Darwin's theory was first met with being banned. Some are greeting intelligent design the same way."

Samuel and other candidates did not volunteer their opinion on the matter, but responded to a question from the audience.

The theory shouldn't be banned from schools, but it should be taught in a philosophy or in a comparative religion class, said Robert Marconi, a candidate for one of the three four-year positions open on the board.

"Leave science in the science class and philosophy in the philosophy class," Marconi said. "You can believe God created the universe and still believe it took millions and billions of years to evolve to the way it is now."

Intelligent design is based on the belief that DNA molecules and the Earth's structure are too complex to have simply evolved with time. While it does not argue biblical creationism, the theory says an intelligent designer had to be involved. That is contrary to the theory of evolution advanced by Charles Darwin in 1859.

The Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania began teaching about intelligent design last year, which prompted a lawsuit from 11 parents claiming a violation of the Constitutional prohibition against an establishment of a state religion. The case is being heard in federal court.

In Brookfield this year, four candidates are competing for three seats on the board that have a four-year term. They are Marconi, Wayne D'Orio, Rob Gianazza and Daria Rockholz. Belinda Samuel and Richard Groski are running for the one open two-year term.

Gianazza said the theory should be a part of a science class, if it is taught at all. "It wouldn't work in a theological class," he said. "It's a point of view about how did cells . . . become human beings?"

Gianazza said since intelligent design is not part of the current curriculum, considerable community input would be needed for the board to consider it in the future.

D'Orio, now serving a two-year term and chairman of the board's curriculum subcommittee, said, "Certainly I would look at the scientific evidence behind intelligent design. I wouldn't overlook any scientific argument, but I haven't heard one yet."

Groski, who was not at the forum Monday, left a written statement in advance saying he opposes teaching intelligent design in the absence of scientific support.

Rockholz also rejects teaching it in science classrooms.

"I would not give it equal treatment to evolution," she said. "I would see it as a theory to be taught in philosophy classes."

Board candidates for the three open four-year terms are:

Robert Marconi (D).

Wayne D'Orio (D).

Rob Gianazza (R).

Daria Rockholz (R).

Competing for the open two-year term:

Richard Groski (D).

Belinda Samuel (R).

Board members not up for election this year: Jerry Friedrich, Matt Grimes and Ron Jaffe

Provine Talks on Intelligent Design Debate

http://www.cornellsun.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/10/26/435f266296320

Defends theory of evolution
October 26, 2005
by Brian Kaviar Sun Staff Writer

William Provine, the C.A. Alexander Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, gave a lecture entitled "Evolution and Intelligent Design" at Alpha Delta Phi fraternity last night.

The lecture came on the heels of Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III's condemnation of the push to teach intelligent design in public schools during the his State of the University Address. Provine played video clips of debates between himself and Phillip E. Johnson, a former U.C.—Berkley American law professor. Johnson is considered by many to be the father of intelligent design, the theory that many, if not all, natural realities are too complicated to have developed by chance and instead explain them as designed by an intelligent force.

As noted in a Sun article earlier this week and as mentioned in Rawlings' University address, Provine said surveys of his own students over the years show a range of 50 to 70 percent believe in a "purpose driven," rather than mechanistic, evolution.

"When I asked him about humans and chimpanzees — 'Do they share a common ancestor?' — he immediately offered up the theory that genetic similarity offers no guide for relations," Provine said. "He said it doesn't make any differences if chimpanzees have 99 percent of the same genome."

According to Provine, Johnson affirmed that his belief that God gave humans an immortal soul and free will comes into his reasoning about whether humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor.

"But he also said I.D. has nothing to do with religion," Provine said.

He described this assertion as either "naive, dishonest, or possessing judgement of how to get their way in government and the schools of this nation."

Similarly, he categorized Johnson as a "theocrat," but noted that Johnson would likely deny such a claim.

Provine said he welcomes intelligent design debates brought on by inquiring students in his own classes and in classes throughout the country, but said "you can't teach I.D. in the public schools, because it's illegal to teach religion in the schools. Unless they all get changed the way Phillip Johnson wants to have them changed. Then we can do that. Then we go back to the way it was when I was a kid in school."

"I don't actually have any problem about talking about moral behavior in any class," Provine said. "I think it's a great thing for people to do, and I don't think we do enough of it at Cornell." "Is [intelligent design] taking over our schools? No, it's not," Provine said.

Provine also described intelligent design as an "utterly boring" theory, one that offers the "same answer for every irreducible mechanism."

Provine said he once asked Prof. Michael Behe, biological sciences, Lehigh University, a major proponent of intelligent design, why he was not "bored to tears" by the theory, to which he paused for a while before answering, "I don't find it that boring at all."

Despite serious academic disagreement, Provine mentioned his personal affection for Johnson and appreciation of diverse and lively debate throughout the lecture. Provine described an incident during a debate with Johnson at Ithaca College, where an audience member rushed the stage and accosted Provine, apparently in response to the professor's disbelief of the existence of free will.

According to Provine, Johnson acted quickly to stop the attacker. Provine also shared his reservations over what he categorized as Johnson's negative views on same-sex marriage and Islam.

Thomas Chandy '03 said he was amazed by Provine's "openness to other theories and thoughts, and interest in discussing and debating those other theories and thoughts," but felt that one does not have to reject religous miracles to believe in evolution, as Provine does.

Ryan Weggler '06 said he was "dumfounded by creationists and how they throw God into the mix at all. Whether or not you believe in God or have your specific religion, you can't refute evolutionary biology."

The lecture was part of their Faculty Speaker Series open to the entire Cornell community. Previous speakers in the series include National Book Award recipient A.R. Ammons, Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer, and the late Carl Sagan, the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and director of the Cornell Laboratory for Planetary Studies.

Darwin descendant covers intelligent design trial

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/13001647.htm

Posted on Wed, Oct. 26, 2005

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Charles Darwin's great-great-grandson has been a fixture at a landmark federal trial over whether "intelligent design" can be mentioned as an alternative to evolution in public school biology classes.

Freelance writer Matthew Chapman is one of 75 people from the United States and other countries covering the trial. He is writing about it for Harper's magazine and working on a documentary for the BBC.

The Dover Area School Board is defending its decision a year ago to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution, saying Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps."

"I'm appalled by the lack of respect for the evidence," Chapman said. "Darwin spent 23 years compiling evidence he gathered to present his theory."

Intelligent design supporters argue that natural selection cannot fully explain the origin or emergence of highly complex life forms and that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force.

Chapman, 55, previously traveled to Dayton, Tenn., the site of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, and he published "The Trial of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir," in 2001. He said he was stunned to find the debate continuing 80 years after the Scopes trial.

"Evolution is such a nonissue everywhere else in the world," he said.

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com


Monday, October 24, 2005

Poll: Majority Reject Evolution

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/22/opinion/polls/main965223.shtml

NEW YORK, Oct. 23, 2005

(CBS) Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved.

These views are similar to what they were in November 2004 shortly after the presidential election.

VIEWS ON EVOLUTION/CREATIONISM

Now
God created humans in present form 51%
Humans evolved, God guided the process 30% Humans evolved, God did not guide process 15%

Nov. 2004
God created humans in present form 55%
Humans evolved, God guided the process 27%
Humans evolved, God did not guide process 13%

This question on the origin of human beings, asked both this month and in November 2004, offered the public three alternatives: 1. Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process; 2. Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but God guided this process; or 3. God created human beings in their present form.

The results were not much different between the answers to that question and those given when a specific timeline was included in the final alternative: God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

Americans most likely to believe in only evolution are liberals (36 percent), those who rarely or never attend religious services (25 percent), and those with a college degree or higher (24 percent).

White evangelicals (77 percent), weekly churchgoers (74 percent) and conservatives (64 percent), are mostly likely to say God created humans in their present form.

Still, most Americans think it is possible to believe in both God and evolution. Sixty-seven percent say this is possible, while 29 percent disagree. Most demographic groups say it is possible to believe in both God and evolution, but just over half of white evangelical Christians say it is not possible.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BELIEVE IN BOTH GOD AND EVOLUTION?

Yes 67%
No 29%

Opinions on this question are tied to one's views on the origin of human beings. Those who believe in evolution, whether guided by God or not, overwhelmingly think it is possible to believe in both God and evolution – 90 percent say this. However, people who believe God created humans in their present form are more divided: 48 percent think it possible to believe in both God and evolution, but the same number disagrees.

POSSIBLE TO BELIEVE IN BOTH GOD AND EVOLUTION?

Believe in evolution
Yes 90%
No 8%

Believe God created humans
Yes 48%
No 48%

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here .

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 808 adults, interviewed by telephone October 3-5, 2005. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points.

Millions of Americans try acupuncture

http://www.spectatornews.com/media/paper218/news/2005/10/24/Health/Millions.Of.Americans.Try.Acupuncture-1031293.shtml?page=2

Practice used for relieving illnesses including migraines, fatigue

By Adrian Northrup
Published: Monday, October 24, 2005

Although he never has tried acupuncture, UW-Eau Claire junior James Schultz said he would if he had the chance.

"I think it would be something different to try," he said.

Freshman Allison Olson said she has more mixed feelings about it.

"I think that acupuncture is kind of creepy," she said. "The fact that you stick needles in yourself to feel better is kind of ironic."

Schultz and Olson are in the majority in that they don't know much about the practice. Acupuncture practitioners said few students receive the alternative practice, but that it can relieve a wide variety of ailments.

Doctors also are apprehensive about acupuncture. According to the American Medical Association, only 1 percent of American doctors would suggest acupuncture as an alternative medicine.

Although there are multiple acupuncture clinics in the Eau Claire area, neither Schultz nor Olson said they knew where any of the clinics are.

"I have no clue where to go to get it done," Schultz said.

Barbara Wheeler is certified in both acupuncture and massage therapy by the state of Wisconsin and is one of two acupuncturists at Marshfield Clinic at Oakwood Center, 3501 Golf Road.

She said she sees acupuncture patients ranging from young teens to adults in their 90s.

"Acupuncture is appropriate from the teen years on," Wheeler said.

Diane Omtvedt, another acupuncturist in the Eau Claire area, is both a certified acupuncturist and a nurse practitioner. She owns the Root and Branch Acupuncture Center, 202 Eau Claire St., and also works at the the university's Student Health Service.

Omtvedt and Wheeler said they see one to two students every week.

"The majority of students aren't aware of acupuncture," Omtvedt said. "Some have never heard of it."

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web site, citing a 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million people in the United States have tried acupuncture, and 2.1 million people have tried acupuncture in the last year.

Olson said one of her relatives gets acupuncture, and it seems to really work for her.

"She said that she felt better than she had in years," Olson said.

Although he doesn't know a lot about it, Schultz said he's not sure he believes there are actual health benefits.

"I believe that physically, it does not help that much," he said, "but mentally, it helps them feel better overall."

However, Omtvedt said, there are physical, mental and emotional benefits to acupuncture. Some of the benefits include relaxation, diminished pain of various types, calmness and relief of upset stomachs.

"Acupuncture clears obstruction," she said.

Wheeler said her patients come in for a variety of reasons, including chronic pain, nausea, migraine headaches, arthritis, fatigue, and sinus problems.

She said although they rarely occur, fatigue and small bruising may be side effects of acupuncture. Omtvedt said improper use of needles also is a risk, but it happens rarely.

The first step in acupuncture is an assessment and a health history, Wheeler said. The acupuncturist then makes a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis, which determines the pattern of illness or discomfort.

"When we know the TCM diagnosis, we can determine appropriate acupuncture treatment," she said.

The diagnosis determines the way the person is positioned and where the needles are inserted, Wheeler said. Patients generally are reclined or lying on their stomach or back. Once the treatment is decided, the site is cleaned with alcohol.

Needles generally are inserted in hands, feet, lower legs and on either side of the spine in the back, she said. The needles used are 34-gauge, or about the width of a hair. They can be inserted horizontally, perpendicularly or at an angle, she said. The needles are inserted anywhere from a superficial depth up to three inches deep.

Most of the time, patients do not feel any pain and blood is not drawn from the skin, Wheeler said. If there is discomfort, it generally disappears after the needle is in place.

"Many times people don't feel the effect of the needle being inserted," she said, "but they may feel the affect of the needle, which is called daQi."

The patient rests for 15 to 20 minutes after the needles are in place, Wheeler said. The needles then are removed.

"Needles are removed in different ways, based on the diagnosis," she said.

Omtvedt said acupuncture treatments usually consist of three or more sessions, with one session a week.

"Acupuncture is a gentle modality," she said. "It's coaxing your body to change."

'Intelligent design' supporters gather

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1103AP_Czech_Intelligent_Design.html

Monday, October 24, 2005 · Last updated 11:28 a.m. PT

By ONDREJ HEJMA ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Hundreds of supporters of "intelligent design" theory gathered in Prague in the first such conference in eastern Europe, but Czech scholars boycotted the event insisting it had no scientific credence.

About 700 scientists from Africa, Europe and the United States attended Saturday's "Darwin and Design" conference to press their contention that evolution cannot fully explain the origins of life or the emergence of highly complex species.

"It is a step beyond Darwin," said Carole Thaxton of Atlanta, a biologist who lived with her husband, Charles, in Prague in the 1990s and was one of the organizers of the event.

"The point is to show that there in fact is intelligence in the universe," she said. The participants, who included experts in mathematics, molecular biology and biochemistry, "are all people who independently came to the same conclusion," she said.

Among the panelists was Stephen C. Meyer, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that represents many scholars who support intelligent design.

He said intelligent design was "based upon scientific evidence and discoveries in fields such as biochemistry, molecular biology, paleontology and astrophysics."

Many leading Czech thinkers, however, boycotted the conference, insisting the theory - which is being debated in the United States - is scientifically groundless.

Intelligent design holds that life is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying a higher power must have had a hand. Critics contend it is repackaged creationism and improper to include in modern scientific education.

Vaclav Paces, chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences, called the conference "useless."

"The fact that we cannot yet explain the origin of life on Earth does not mean that there is (a) God who created it," Paces was quoted as telling the Czech news agency CTK.

Now That's A Petition

http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/2005/10/24/now_thats_a_petition.php

October 24, 2005 Posted by Carl Zimmer

You may have heard about a petition that was being signed by scientists earlier this month against the teaching of intelligent design. The inspiration came from another petition drafted by the Discovery Institute opposing evolution. It garnered 400 signatures of scientists in four years. R. Joe Brandon, an archaeologist, decided to see how many signatures he could get from scientists in just four days by spreading the word from his web site.

The answer: 7,733.

"During my short, four-day experiment, I recieved about 20 times as many signatures at a rate 690,000% higher than what the Discovery Institute can claim," Brandon said in a statement.

Given the many scientific societies that have vouched to the importance of evolution, this result was no big surprise. But a fresh illustration never hurts.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bigfoot Conference in Texas Draws Hundreds

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051016/ap_on_re_us/bigfoot_conference

By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
Sun Oct 16, 4:31 AM ET

JEFFERSON, Texas - Next to a lifelike replica of a giant ape head, the believers milled around tables Saturday covered with casts of large footprints, books about nature's mysteries and T-shirts proclaiming "Bigfoot: Often Imitated, Never Invalidated."

While they can have a sense of humor about it, the search for the legendary Sasquatch is no joke for many of the nearly 400 people who came here to discuss the latest sightings and tracking techniques at the Texas Bigfoot Conference.

"It's not a matter of believing, like faith, when you believe in something you can't see," said Daryl G. Colyer, a Lorena businessman who has investigated hundreds of reported Bigfoot sightings in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

"It's a flesh-and-blood animal that just has not been discovered yet. And I think we're getting closer and closer and closer," Colyer said.

Outlandish theories about the origin of Bigfoot abound, including that it might be an extraterrestrial. Many believe that a towering, ape-like creature descended from a prehistoric 9- to 10-foot-tall gorilla called a Gigantopithecus, and that it now inhabits North American forests.

Hoaxes have been a large part of the making of the Bigfoot legend. California construction company owner Ray L. Wallace donned 16-inch wooden feet to create tracks in mud in 1958, and it led to a front-page story in a local paper that coined the term "Bigfoot."

But there have been more than 2,550 seemingly credible Bigfoot sightings reported in North America the past century, according to Christopher L. Murphy's 2004 book "Meet the Sasquatch."

Murphy believes thousands more witnesses are too afraid of ridicule to come forward.

"You see one of these things and it changes your whole perception of reality," said Craig Woolheater, the office manager of a Dallas company who co-founded the Texas Bigfoot Research Center in 1999, five years after he said he saw a hairy creature walking along a remote Louisiana road.

Colyer and others estimate that about 2,000 are in North America today, reclusive nocturnal animals living in thickly wooded areas with waterways, eating meat and plants and making nests out of trees and brush.

Pictures and film footage are often disputed, such as the 1967 footage of a creature walking near a California creek. Most evidence centers on hundreds of casts of footprints collected since the 1950s.

Jimmy Chilcutt, a retired fingerprint analysis expert for the Conroe Police Department, said many of the hundreds of prints he examined belonged to a primate, but not a human, ape, gorilla or chimpanzee.

Like Chilcutt, other well-respected professionals have come forward to say such evidence should not be dismissed.

"To me it's still an open question, but here's some evidence that warrants some serious consideration, so give it a chance," said Jeff Meldrum, associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University who has studied more than 150 casts of footprints. "This is not a paranormal question; it's a biological question."

On the Net:

Texas Bigfoot Research Center: http://www.texasbigfoot.com

Alien abduction claims explained

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2005/09.22/11-alien.html

Sleep paralysis, false memories involved
By William J. Cromie
Harvard News Office

Many of the people who believe they have been abducted by aliens are bombarding Susan Clancy with hate e-mails and phone calls. The Harvard researcher, who has spent five years listening to the stories of some 50 abductees, has described her (and their) experiences in a new book to be published in October.

Clancy, 36, likes most of these people. "They are definitely not crazy," she says. But they do have "a tendency to fantasize and to hold unusual beliefs and ideas. They believe not only in alien abductions, but also in things like UFOs, ESP, astrology, tarot, channeling, auras, and crystal therapy. They also have in common a rash of disturbing experiences for which they are seeking an explanation. For them, alien abduction is the best fit."

As you might guess, the people behind all that hate mail and the phone calls don't buy that. They were there, she wasn't, they insist.

In her book, "Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens," to be published by the Harvard University Press, Clancy describes a typical reaction. "Can you believe the nerve of that girl (Clancy)," one abductee says. "She comes to me, like, 'Oh, I believe you've been abducted! Let me interview you to learn more.... Oh, what really happened [she says] is sleep paralysis.' Riiight! How the - - does she know? Did it happen to her? There was something in the room that night! I was spinning. I blacked out ... it was terrifying.... I wasn't sleeping. I was taken. I was violated, ripped apart - literally, figuratively, metaphorically, whatever you want to call it. Does she know what that's like?"

Paralyzing dreams

Abduction stories are strikingly similar. Victims wake up and find themselves paralyzed, unable to move or cry out for help. They see flashing lights and hear buzzing sounds. Electric sensations zing through their bodies, which may rise up in levitation. Aliens with wrap-around eyes, gray or green skin, lacking hair or noses, approach. The abductee's heart pounds violently. There's lots of probing in the alien ship. Instruments are inserted in their noses, navels, or other orifices. It's painful. Sometimes sexual intercourse occurs.

Then it's over, after seconds or minutes. The intruders vanish. Victims are back in their own beds and can move again.

Clancy, Richard McNally, a professor of psychology at Harvard, and other researchers tie such horrifying happenings to sleep paralysis, a condition where the usual separation between sleep and wakefulness gets out of synchronization.

When you dream, you are paralyzed. It's a natural adaptation to prevent people from lashing out, jumping out of bed, walking into doors or windows, and otherwise injuring themselves. But it's possible to wake up while still paralyzed.

"We can find ourselves hallucinating sights, sounds, and bodily sensations," Clancy says. "They seem real but they're actually the product of our imagination." One researcher describes it as "dreaming with your eyes wide open."

Bizarre effects aside, sleep paralysis is as normal as hiccups. It's not a sign of mental illness. About 25 percent of people around the world have experienced it, and about 5 percent get the whole show of sight, sound, tactile hallucinations, and abduction.

Some of these people become completely absorbed by what happened and seek an explanation of it. That can lead them into a grab bag of different techniques well known to those with a rich fantasy life and a distaste for scientific explanations.

Such techniques include hypnosis, guided imagery, regression, and relaxation therapies. "These all work in roughly the same way," Clancy comments. "The therapist lulls the abductee into a suggestive state, in which normal reality constraints are relaxed, and then asks the person to vividly image things that might have happened." Or might not have happened.

Hypnosis, she says, "is a bad way to refresh your memories. Not only that, it renders you susceptible to creating memories of things that never happened, things that were suggested to you or that you just imagined. If you (or your therapist) have pre-existing beliefs or expectations, you're liable to recall experiences that fit with these beliefs, rather than events that actually happened."

False memories

Clancy knows all about false memories; they got her into studying abductees in the first place. When she arrived at Harvard to work on a Ph.D. in 1996, she was fascinated by the political, legal, and social impacts of people who suddenly recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. Using standard laboratory tests, she found that women who reported recovering such memories were more likely to remember things that never happened than women who always remembered such abuse.

That result, however, does not prove whether or not the woman with recovered memories had actually been sexually abused. Clancy then got the idea that she could get a better scientific grip on false memories by studying people who recovered memories of events that could not, in her mind, have possibly happened, i.e., being abducted by aliens.

"Boy, was I naďve," she says in retrospect. "You can't disprove alien abductions. All you can do is show that evidence is insufficient to justify the belief, and try to understand why people have those beliefs."

On the way to doing this, she, McNally, and their colleagues made some tantalizing discoveries. Measurements of sweating, heart rate, and brain waves showed that those claiming to be abductees show the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome as combat veterans. The researchers did not, however, conclude that the abductees had experienced combat-type trauma. Rather, they believe, it is the emotional significance of a memory, whether it is true or not, that causes sweaty hands and rapid heartbeats.

Earlier this year, Clancy and McNally reported on another study that found those who recalled childhood sexual abuse or abduction by aliens experience higher rates of sleep paralysis than those who do not make such claims. Strikingly, the first group also scored high on underlying traits of fantasy proneness, paranormal interests and experiences, and inability to relate socially to others.

Add to this mixture a recurring interest in aliens expressed in books, in movies, and on television, as well as true discoveries of more than 150 planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. Overwhelmed by this hurricane of sleep paralysis, false memories, and fantasy, some people seek explanations and succor in ghosts, reincarnations, and multiple personalities. Others find that alien abductions provide answers and peace of mind, says Clancy.

"It probably doesn't matter much to the abductees whether they are right or wrong," she comments. "They simply feel better because of what they believe."

Clancy is finished with space abduction studies. She now works in Central America, teaching, continuing research on trauma and memories, and writing a book on recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. You can bet that book will bring another high wave of hate mail.

Seer defies own death prediction

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4361222.stm

By Faisal Mohammed Ali BBC News, Bhopal

Villagers said Punjilal's predictions usually came true - his family was hoping this one might be wrong.

Punjilal, a 75-year-old resident of a village in India's Madhya Pradesh state had said he would die between 1500 and 1700 local time on Thursday.

Journalists, doctors and TV channels joined thousands of curious locals outside the temple he was sitting in.

But the time came and passed and the fortune teller survived. He now says he will live until he is 90.

Hanuman

Thousands of locals had came laden on bullocks, on motorbikes, even in hired cars to get a glimpse of the fortune teller in the dusty village of Sabra, 15km (nine miles) from the main town of the district, Betul.

Punjilal had stopped talking to people for about a week and for the whole of Thursday sat in a small temple of the monkey god Hanuman chanting religious passages from holy books.

He had told villagers and people close to him about a month ago that he would die on 20 October because his horoscope said so.

His father, also a fortune teller, had apparently died in a similar manner.

Punjilal is known for predictions, particularly about where a well can be dug to find a good level or quality of water.

KB Rawat, a bank employee in Betul who had been camping near Punjilal's house for several days, said: "The predictions made by Punjilal have proved to be true in most cases. I have faith in him. Let's see what happens now."

Journalists converged on the site. One said it was their reality TV.

Some of the crowd had an eye for business - vendors sold sweetmeats, toys and religious books.

Prayers

Thursday started with a local priest offering Punjilal prasad (fruits and sweets that had earlier been offered to gods) and said this would save him from death.

His prediction proved truer than Punjilal's, although the seer himself had told people there was a 25% chance he would not die.

Punjilal, who has four daughters and one son, is helping his grandson learn the profession.

His son, Anirudh, said he was happy his father was alive.

"My grandfather, Kishanlal, also predicted his death and died at the said hour in the year 1975. So we were worried. My grandfather passed all the art of fortune telling to my father."

Punjilal's wife, Jayawanti Bai, says she had prayed for her husband to live longer.

Oddly, Thursday happened to be Karva Chauth, when wives fast and pray for their husband's long life.

Two local doctors kept a constant check and were happy to report his vital organs kept working normally and his pulse was good.

After his escape, Punjilal was taken to the Balajipuram temple, 23km from his village, to offer prayers.

He says he will live till he is 90.

Professor to offer scientific evidence for 'intelligent design' theory, God

http://www.idsnews.com/subsite/story.php?id=31951&adid=campus

By Carrie Ritchie | Indiana Daily Student | Thursday, October 20, 2005

Almost a month after Eugenie Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education, gave a speech supporting evolution and refuting "intelligent design," Walter Bradley, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M, will give a speech titled, "Is there scientific evidence for an intelligent creator of the universe?" at 8 p.m. tonight in Alumni Hall.

"The basic thesis of this talk is that a lot of what we've learned about nature in the last half of the 20th century does not seem to be explainable in terms of the laws of nature," Bradley said.

He also said his speech will provide evidence that there is rational reason to believe in God.

Regardless of the fact that Bradley does plan to present such evidence, and that two Christian organizations -- Campus Crusade for Christ and the Graduate Intervarsity Fellowship (GradIV) -- are co-sponsoring the event, his speech will be "non-biased," said Dave Fladung, staff member of the Campus Crusade for Christ. Fladung said Bradley will simply present information and let his listeners use the evidence to form their own opinions. He will also give listeners the opportunity to ask him any questions they might have.

Bradley has spoke about intelligent design at several universities, including Harvard and Princeton, and this will be his third time speaking at IU.

Fladung said he is expecting a large turnout, especially after Scott's speech.

"There's definitely interest in it," he said. "More people are interested in creation and where they came from."

Steven Bradley, Bradley's son and a member of GradIV, said his father uses actual principles of anthropology and thermodynamics to validate intelligent design, which is the belief that even the simplest life forms on Earth are too complex to develop spontaneously without some type of creator.

Steven Bradley stressed that this issue is something that involves everyone, not just biologists or Christians. He said intelligent design has received attention from around the world lately, most notably from the Dalai Lama, who discussed some aspects of it in his new book, "The Universe in a Single Atom."

"It's not just a science versus Christian fundamentalist issue," Steven Bradley said. "(Scott's speech) made it seem very one-sided ... that evolution is proven, and there's nothing to discuss. I think students should be given the opportunity to look at the evidence and decide for themselves."

Sophomore Ty Childers, a member of Campus Crusade for Christ, is anticipating the opportunity to do just that.

"I'm looking forward to hearing another perspective and seeing how science backs up my faith," he said.

Childers hopes other students will attend and share their opinions and questions as well.

"As students, we have a lot of questions that we think about all the time," he said. "By going and listening to him, you might get a different viewpoint and be encouraged to dig deeper and question why we're here and if there's really more to this life than what it seems."

-- Staff writer Audrie Garrison contributed to this story.

An Example of Intelligent Design's Idea of Peer Review

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/12364

Thursday, October 20, 2005 Posted by Steve Verdon at 16:26

You just can't make up stuff like this. Under cross examination in regards to the peer review of his book, Darwin's Black Box Behe claimed that the peer review was more rigorous since there were more than twice as many reviewers who read the book carefully. One such reviewer was Dr. Atchison, a biochemistry professor at University of Pennsylvania.

So what did, Atchison have to say about Behe's book and his review of it?

Behe sent his completed manuscript to The Free Press publishers for consideration. The editor was not certain that this manuscript was a good risk for publication. There were clearly theological issues at hand, and he was under the impression that these issues would be poorly received by the scientific community. If the tenets of Darwinian evolution were completely accepted by science, who would be interested in buying the book?

The editor shared his concerns with his wife. His wife was a student in my class. She advised her husband to give me a call. So, unaware of all this, I received a phone call from the publisher in New York. We spent approximately 10 minutes on the phone. After hearing a description of the work, I suggested that the editor should seriously consider publishing the manuscript. I told him that the origin of life issue [which has nothing to do with evolution, -jml] was still up in the air. It sounded like this Behe fellow might have some good ideas, although I could not be certain since I had never seen the manuscript. We hung up and I never thought about it again. At least until two years later.

In November 1998, I finally met Michael Behe when he visited Penn for a Faculty Outreach talk. He told me that yes, indeed, it was his book that the publisher called me about. In fact, he said my comments were the deciding factor in convincing the publisher to go ahead with the book. (Source)

So let me see if I got this straight. The idea of rigorous peer review that is twice that of the normal peer review process is a ten minute conversation with the publisher about how important the book might be and never seeing a manuscript and that's it. Count me really, really, super duper impressed. (Whoops, there I go again, snarking my way past Behe.)

Via Stranger Fruit.


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