NTS LogoSkeptical News for 16 December 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christian organizations sue California State University system


Editorial: Sacramento Bee Dec. 15 / 05

It is one thing for private Christian high schools to offer courses that, as one textbook says, "put the Word of God first and science second." That is their right, and it is part of the mosaic of educational opportunities that students and their parents have in the United States. It is quite another thing, however, for those schools to demand that the University of California and California State University systems accept those courses toward admission.

That is exactly what Calvary Chapel Christian School in Riverside County is doing. It and the Association of Christian Schools International are suing to force the state university system to accept credits from religious classes as science. The lawsuit claims the university is "dictating and censoring the viewpoints that may and may not be taught" in private schools and that students are "discriminated against if they choose certain courses because of their religious perspective." That is nonsense.

The university does insist, as it should, that courses that "expressly prioritize religion over science" cannot count toward a student's science requirement. The university is reasonable and within its rights in doing so.

But the university is not stopping the school from teaching or students from studying anything. Nor is it denying the students entry to college. Students who haven't taken approved science courses can show they've mastered the material by taking SAT Subject Tests.

Incidentally, UC has approved 43 of Calvary Chapel's courses, including science courses. The few rejected courses are based on textbooks such as "Biology for Christian Schools" by Bob Jones University Press and "Biology: God's Living Creation" by A Beka Books from Pensacola Christian College.

The introduction to "Biology for Christian Schools" openly acknowledges the book's primary religious mission: "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second." The book claims the earth was created between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago and concludes, "Rather than being disproved by science, the Scriptural concept of a young earth is actually verified by science."

In a section on the biblical locust plague in Egypt, the book concludes, "If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them."

A Beka Books is equally open about its agenda. It says that its textbook writers "look at the subject from God's point of view." On sourcing: "The most original source is always the Word of God, the only foundation for true scholarship in any area of human endeavor." The publisher describes "Biology: God's Living Creation" as "Thoroughly Christian in perspective and tone. Truly nonevolutionary in philosophy, spirit and sequence of study."

A course based on these textbooks is about revealed religion and faith. No credible public university could possibly accept it as a science course.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero told attorneys for both sides he would look at the written briefs and make a ruling within 90 days. Whatever this judge decides, California's university systems have to fight this one to the finish.

Private religious schools have a First Amendment right to offer whatever courses they wish. But they don't have a right to demand that California's public university system accept courses about revealed religion and faith as science courses.

Taxpayers to foot bill for official's trip to church-school event


By Scott Rothschild (Contact)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Topeka — State Board of Education member John Bacon has charged taxpayers for his expenses to attend a church-school sponsored event that featured leaders of the movement to make the Bible the foundation of public life.

The conference brought together leading Christian activists, including David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders; Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Assn., and the American Family Radio network; Ken Ham, leader of Answers in Genesis; and Ron Carlson, a minister and anti-evolution speaker.

"I would encourage any member of the state board, or any public official, to get informed about these issues," Bacon said.

Bacon said he gained valuable information at the conference held Nov. 11-12 in McPherson and thought being reimbursed by the state was justified.

The expense request included his board salary for two days, per diem for two days and mileage to and from Olathe. The final report hasn't been tabulated yet, but it is expected to cost about $500.

Bacon, a Republican from Olathe, is one of the six-member majority on the board that approved public school science standards that open up evolution to criticism and were sought by proponents of intelligent design.

He also has spoken in favor of vouchers for private schools, expansion of charter schools, and requiring a permission slip for students to take sex education classes — all hotly contested issues now before the board.

David Case, the administrator of Elyria Christian School, the event sponsor, described the conference as a way to assert that the Bible was integral in the founding of the United States and that modern-day society tries to hide that fact.

"The greatest force in our society today is secularism," Case said. "There is a blatant attempt to remove anything spiritual or religious from the public sphere, and that is not honest in terms of our culture."

He said about 1,200 people attended the conference.

Bacon said he went to the conference because he was familiar with Barton's work, and wanted to hear information on creationism and evolution, both topics that have been before the board.

He said the conference featured Christian organizations that he thought represented "most of our population."

Barton has gained national attention for his views that the founders of the United States were evangelical Christians and that the separation of church and state was a myth.

The other speakers say that evolution is wrong and that the Bible contains the true story about the origins of life.

Case said he found nothing wrong with a public official charging taxpayers to attend the conference because it provided information on issues in the public realm, such as evolution.

He said there was no evidence of common ancestors of different species.

"Scientists are ignoring the factual record. Why can't we include in science class any explanation that there would be God or a higher power, even if the scientific evidence supports it?" he asked.

When state education board members travel it is usually to conferences and seminars dealing with public school issues.

Board member Connie Morris made headlines earlier this year for staying at a $339 per night Miami resort for six nights at a conference on magnet schools. After a public furor over the expenses, she reimbursed the state $2,890 of the approximately $3,900 in total expenses from the trip.

At that time, the board rejected any changes to its travel policies.

Debate heats up over creationism in classrooms


10:36 PM CST on Thursday, December 15, 2005 By Dave Fehling / 11 News

HOUSTON -- Texas public schools aren't supposed to teach it. But are some students in science classes hearing a lesson in religion?

Intelligent design is the theory that evolution alone can't explain how we came to be -- that a higher force must have helped design us.

Creationism in the classroom is a nationwide controversy that may be coming soon to a school near you.

"I'm always fearful," said HISD science teacher Debbie Cobb.

When asked if she could be fired for talking about those things, Cobb responded, "Yes, yes I do think I could be fired."

Debbie Cobb is a science teacher at an HISD high school just north of downtown.

She said she could get fired if she teaches science the way she would like to.

"Here we are over in Iraq, fighting to export, what, democracy? So that we can talk about whatever we need to talk about. And in the classroom we're not allowed to bring up intelligent design?"

Intelligent design is the theory that evolution alone can't explain how we came to be -- that a higher force must have helped design us.

It's a hot issue here and elsewhere.

In Kansas last month, the state board of education voted to teach doubts about evolution.

But at the same time, in a town in Pennsylvania voters ousted local school board members who tried to do the same thing there.

What about Texas?

Officially the state's science curriculum for public schools does not recognize intelligent design, only the theory of evolution, which leaves science teachers like Debbie Cobb in a tough spot.

"Our kids can come in believing in intelligent design and I can't even mention it," Cobb said.

So how does she handle it?

"I'm very careful how I put things," she said. "I don't say, 'alright guys, God created the universe.' I don't say that because I'm teaching science. I personally believe that. What's that got to do with what I'm teaching?"

Several other teachers and education consultants who spoke with 11 News said intelligent design is already being taught by any number of Texas public school teachers, despite the official state curriculum. And some believe that curriculum itself could soon be challenged.

"I think you'll see a lot of these candidates talking about the issue," said Kathy Miller.

Kathy Miller with the liberal watchdog group Texas Freedom Network said Christian conservatives are using intelligent design to get religion into public schools.

"So they've turned to more political bodies like school boards and the state boards, state board of education of education here in Texas, to push intelligent design, which is truly creationism in a lab coat."

Miller points to a state school board member from the Woodlands, defeated last year after conservative groups said she wasn't a supporter of intelligent design.

Another Woodlands resident replaced her, Barbara Cargill, who said students should be allowed to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.

State lawmaker Scott Hochberg, a democrat from Houston, serves on the House Public Education Committee.

"And you don't think intelligent design belongs in those science courses?" 11 News' Dave Fehling asked Hochberg.

"Intelligent design is faith," he responded. "Faith is very important, but faith isn't part of science. And we really need to emphasize the science and the learning of science."

Cobb said, "Kids are interested in the big questions."

"They want to know who we got here?" Fehling asked.

"Yes they do," she said.

But it's the adults who disagree over how best to explain it.

Appeals Panel Criticizes Evolution Ruling



A federal district judge had ordered the removal of stickers in a Georgia county's science textbooks that called evolution a theory.
By Ellen Barry
Times Staff Writer

December 16, 2005

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court panel appeared sharply critical Thursday of a ruling this year that ordered the removal of stickers in science textbooks stating, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact."

Judge Ed Carnes of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the lower court judge had misstated facts in his ruling, overstating the influence religious protests had on the school board's actions. He also said the words on the sticker are "technically accurate," and that the Cobb County school board was justified in singling out the theory of evolution for comment.

"From nonlife to life is the greatest gap in scientific theory," Carnes said. "There is less evidence supporting it than there is for other theories. It sounds to me like evolution is more vulnerable and deserves more critical thinking" than other subjects.

The three-judge appellate panel heard oral arguments in the case Thursday and may not release its decision for several weeks. But attorney Michael Manely, who argued against the stickers at trial last year, said the judges' questions suggested they might seek to overturn U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper's original ruling.

"I'm certainly more worried than I was when I walked in this morning," Manely said.

The sticker debate played out in Cobb County, an area north of Atlanta where science teachers used to rip pages out of textbooks rather than discuss evolution. When the school board adopted a new biology textbook that addressed Charles Darwin's theory in detail, some conservative Christian parents protested.

As a compromise, the school board decided in March 2002 to apply a sticker to the inside cover of every textbook. It read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

A group of parents, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the school district, charging that the sticker endorsed religious beliefs.

In a 44-page decision released in January, Cooper agreed. He acknowledged that the disclaimers had a secular purpose, and avoided religious reference. But, he continued, "the sticker communicates to those who oppose evolution for religious reasons that they are favored members of the political community, while the sticker sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders."

On Thursday, Linwood Gunn, an attorney for the school board, argued that the stickers were part of a larger effort by school officials to enhance the teaching of evolution, which had been "a long-standing problem" in Cobb County.

"The whole genesis of the stickers is because people were upset by an improvement the school made," he said.

In his questioning, Carnes alleged several significant errors of fact in Cooper's decision. He said Cooper suggested that a petition had influenced the sticker policy when, in fact, the petition was dated six months after the plan was in place.

He went on to chastise Jeffrey Bramlett, who was arguing for the ACLU, for duplicating the fact in his brief, telling him to "justify to me that that's not misrepresenting the facts."

Following the oral arguments, Gunn said he was pleased with the judges' line of questioning. They were "struggling to see why there's a constitutional problem with an accurate sticker," he said. Gunn's satisfaction was echoed by John West, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle group that supports the concept of intelligent design. Proponents of intelligent design contend organisms are too complex to have developed by chance.

"They found pretty serious sloppiness on the part of the judge and on the part of the ACLU," West said of the appellate panel. "Finally, we have a group of federal judges who are being properly skeptical of what we regard as overreaching claims."

Gerry Weber, an attorney for the ACLU, said the plaintiffs' central argument — that the stickers communicated the influence of a religious group — did not rely on the petition. Before it printed the stickers, he said, the school board had received numerous e-mails and letters from parents carrying the message, "Preserve our faith."

A disclaimer about evolution was included in textbooks "to favor a particular faith," Weber said. "The key focus is what a reasonable observer will perceive from the stickers."

In order to overturn a district court ruling, appellate judges must show that the lower court relied on facts that were "clearly erroneous," said Michael Broyde, director of the law and religion program at Emory University's law school. Broyde said that Cooper "wrote a very crafty opinion" that relied heavily on fact-finding — probably in anticipation of the appeals process.

A wit on the Supreme Court once put it this way, he said: "District court facts are like mud. They stick to you."

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 16 Dec 05 Washington, DC

On Tuesday, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal, by Staff Reporter Anna Wilde Mathews, dealt with publication of ghost-written papers in major medical journals. The papers bear the names of academic researchers, who presumably agree with the articles. The intent, however, is not to disseminate knowledge, but to promote the products of the company that paid to have it written. We expel students who turn in ghost-written papers. WN has reported before on unhealthy ties of NIH scientists to drug companies, http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN04/wn070904.html . Something like it seems to be going on with academic scientists.

Yesterday, a federal appeals court panel seemed to some observers to be critical of the ruling requiring removal of a sticker from biology texts http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn011405.html. It read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." The sticker was not factually inaccurate. The attorney who argued the case against the stickers at last years trial remarked admitted that, "I'm more worried than I was when I walked in this morning."

Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be.

Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org

Law Professor Crosses Evolution Battle Lines


Greg Land Fulton County Daily Report 12-15-2005

The fight over how public schools should teach the theory of evolution is usually expected to fall along familiar battle lines.

Thus, at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today, lawyers for the liberal American Civil Liberties Union will argue that school board members from conservative Cobb County violated the Constitution when they ordered that stickers questioning evolution's validity be placed in high school biology books.

But this case defies simple labels for Georgia State University law professor L. Lynn Hogue, who has led the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation, worked for the disbarment of President Clinton and proposed a Georgia law that would allow the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings.

Hogue signed on to an amicus brief filed on behalf of Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education, which supports the ACLU side of the case.

"I'm sympathetic with their cause," said Hogue, who also has pushed for gay marriage bans, fought Atlanta's domestic partnership ordinance and battled the University of Georgia's affirmative action program.

"From my perspective as a conservative, I think science education is important," he added. "And I'm not religiously sympathetic to anti-evolutionists, who I think are lunatics."

Hogue is equally candid on his view of intelligent design, which suggests that organisms developed over time in accordance with the design of an intelligent agent. He called the theory "bull----."

"Evolution is a theory pieced together over time, not a self-enclosed theory that is its own end, which is what creationism is," Hogue said.

At issue in the 11th Circuit case are the stickers, which the Cobb school board placed in textbooks as a reaction to complaints from parents who wanted religious theories taught at the schools.

The stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

In January, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper found that the stickers violated the Constitution's ban on government establishment of religion.

Encouraging the teaching of evolution as theory rather than as fact, Cooper wrote, fit into a strategy "to dilute evolution instruction employed by anti-evolutionists with religious motivations."

Cooper added that, by singling out evolution as a theory that should be considered carefully, the sticker "misleads students" regarding the significance of evolution "for the benefit of religious alternatives."

"By denigrating evolution," Cooper wrote, the School Board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the Sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories." Selman v. Cobb County School District, 390 F. Supp 2d 1286. (The 11th Circuit case is No. 05-10341-1.)

Hogue's brief, which he said was primarily written by co-author Catherine J. Ross of The George Washington University Law School, asserted that the sticker, if reinserted into Cobb science texts, "would have a deleterious effect on science education in general and education in the biological sciences in particular" and will "deprive Cobb County students of the adequate public education guaranteed them by the Georgia Constitution."

The sticker, said the brief, "distorts science education and violates its integrity" and also threatens to cause economic damage, because "Georgia students will not be able to compete in an increasingly biotech-oriented global marketplace if they do not receive a quality science education."


Hogue's former group, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, has not taken a public position on the case.

Executive Director Shannon L. Goessling, who succeeded Hogue in September 2004, spoke highly of her predecessor but is in favor of returning the stickers to the textbooks.

"It appears that, on a daily basis, we're bombarded with attacks on Christian expression," she said.

She said Hogue's brief "suggests that critical thinking and faith are somehow mutually exclusive."

"There are students at every Cobb County school who are taught, at home and at church, to believe in creationism," said Goessling. "That doesn't mean that they all fail science by definition."

Goessling said this is a case in which reasonable minds can disagree.

"This is not a separation-of-church-and-state case," she said. "This is a case allowing competing theories to be taught. ... The sticker is a simple declaratory statement that does not favor or disfavor evolution as a scientific theory."

Goessling's analysis reflects many of the pro-sticker arguments in the case, including the one filed by Cobb County and an amicus brief on behalf of the states of Texas and Alabama, both of which have disclaimers in science textbooks.

Marietta attorney Ernest Linwood Gunn IV, representing Cobb County, wrote in his brief, "The Court's focus should be, first and foremost, on the neutral language of the Sticker itself, together with the extensive evolutionary curriculum to which it is attached.

"The issue is not whether the Sticker has educational merit, whether it is well-written, or whether one can imagine persons offended by its meaning. The issue is whether the Sticker endorses religion. Both on its face, and in its specific content, this Sticker does not," wrote Gunn, who did not return a call for comment.

American Association for the Advancement of Science on Evolution


AAAS has played a prominent role in responding to efforts in Kansas and elsewhere to weaken or compromise the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms. Here are some background materials on the controversy and links to AAAS resources on evolution.

[The editor is a member of the AAAS.]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christian students sue university system


Publisher: Associated Press By: Associated Press First published: December 13, 2005

Students from a Christian high school in Moreno Valley are suing to force the state university system to accept credits from religious-themed classes. The six students from Calvary Chapel Christian School about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles claim the University of California system violated their rights to free speech, religion and association and equal protection.

They cited UC's decision to dismiss as "too narrow" high-school classes such as "Christianity's Influence on American History" while approving courses from other schools such as "Ethnic Experience in Literature."

"This is a case in which a university system is unfairly denying college credit ... because of the viewpoints expressed through the teaching of certain courses," said Robert H. Tyler, co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

UC administrators decided not to recognize the course work after examining the curriculum between October 2004 and July 2005.

"The problem is that they don't teach the subject matter, (such as) biology," said Christopher M. Patti, a lawyer in the office of the UC general counsel in Oakland.

Universities and religious high schools throughout the country are watching the suit because it could affect admission standards nationwide.

"The stakes are very high here because other colleges and universities across the nation look to the University of California system for guidance and trends," said Steven Roy Goodman, a Washington, D.C.-based educational consultant.

No UC campus has turned down a Calvary student for a lack of acceptable credits.

Calvary offers UC-approved courses in core subjects such as history and literature, but the students argue they are being illegally prevented from taking the courses with a Christian perspective.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero canceled a hearing scheduled for Monday in Los Angeles and said he would decide the issue based on briefs filed by the two sides.

Was Iraq Behind the Oklahoma City Bombing?


Tuesday, April 19, 2005 By John Gibson

On Tuesday's show you heard FOX News' Rita Cosby talking about the quite shocking claims made by a group of victims' families that Iraq was at the bottom of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.

This has come up before: A reporter named Jayna Davis has a book out about it.

The whole thing stinks of Iraq. Ramzi Yousef (search), an Iraqi agent that was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and his associates were allegedly talking to Terry Nichols (search) in 1994 about how to build a fertilizer bomb.

So now the question: So if there is all this evidence, why has the U.S. government ignored it?

Well, for one thing, I submit George W. Bush didn't ignore it after September 11, 2001. He realized then that Iraq was behind a lot of the attacks on the U.S. and it was time for it to stop.

But before September 11th, he did ignore it and so did the Clinton administration. The lawyer who is suing told Rita he didn't think the previous administration was willing to go to war over the Murrah Building bombing.

OK. But why keep it secret now?

The answer is Tim McVeigh (search) and the U.S. government were each doing their part to hide the real players. Government prosecutors said there was no "John Doe No. 2" even though dozens of people saw him. McVeigh insisted all the way to the grave that he acted alone, when everybody including his lawyer knew he was lying.

If McVeigh were just the grunt — mixing the chemicals, driving the truck, setting the timer, and running off — guilty though he might be, if the bombing was a plot by a foreign government, his lawyer would have had a chance at the sentencing hearing to argue that others were more responsible and McVeigh should not be executed.

The fear that the McVeigh execution might have been an error — and a mistaken execution — could put the federal death penalty itself in jeopardy. The fear of losing the federal death penalty could explain why the U.S. government does not appear to be anxious to act on evidence it has that Iraq may have been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing.

That's My Word.

Watch John Gibson weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on "The Big Story" and send your comments to: myword@foxnews.com

Federal Court to Weigh Evolution Disclaimer


Dec. 14, 2005, 11:48AM

By DOUG GROSS Associated Press Writer © 2005 The Associated Press

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court is set to consider whether stickers on text books calling evolution a theory, not fact, were unconstitutional.

In January, schools in Cobb County in suburban Atlanta were forced to peel off the disclaimers when a federal judge said they were an endorsement of religion. The ruling was appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments on Thursday.

Advocates on both sides say the appeals court's decision will go a long way toward shaping a debate between science and religion that has cropped up in various forms around the country.

"If it's unconstitutional to tell students to study evolution with an open mind, then what's not unconstitutional?" said John West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that supports intelligent design, the belief that the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power. "The judge is basically trying to make it unconstitutional for anyone to have a divergent view, and we think that has a chilling effect on free speech."

Opponents of the sticker campaign see it as a backdoor attempt to introduce the biblical story of creation into the public schools _ something the U.S. Supreme Court disallowed in a 1987 case from Louisiana.

"The anti-evolution forces have been searching for a new strategy that would accomplish the same end," said Kenneth Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University and co-author of the science book that was stickered. "That purpose is, if not to get evolution out of the schools altogether, then at least undermine it as much as possible in the minds of students."

The disclaimers were placed in the books in 2002 by school officials in Cobb County, a suburb of about 650,000 people. The stickers were printed up after more than 2,000 parents complained that science texts presented evolution as a fact, with no mention of other theories.

The stickers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

The school board called the stickers "a reasonable and evenhanded guide to science instruction" that encourages students to be critical thinkers.

Some parents, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, sued, claiming the stickers violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that the sticker "conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling others they are political insiders."

In Pennsylvania, a federal judge has yet to decide whether the Dover Area School District can require ninth-grade biology students to learn about intelligent design. A few days after the trial ended earlier this fall, Dover voters ousted eight of the nine school board members who adopted the policy.

The same week, state education officials in Kansas adopted new classroom science standards that call the theory of evolution into question.

In 2004, Georgia's school superintendent proposed a statewide science curriculum that dropped the word "evolution" in favor of "changes over time." That plan was soon scrapped amid protests from teachers.

Sorry folks, but the senator is wrong


Published: December 14, 2005 02:33 pm

DAVID McNEELY The Edmond Sun

I hadn't planned to write about intelligent design this week, but I feel compelled by St. Sen. Mike Mazzei's recent opining in Sunday's Edmond Sun. The senator headed his article, "Students have a right to hear ID theory." He went on to characterize the notion labeled "intelligent design" that came out of the conservative think-tank in Seattle called Discovery Institute as "an alternative scientific theory." The notion makes the claim that nature is so complex that it must have been designed in its present form by an intelligence, an argument first put forth by a minister named Paley in the 19th century. The idea, according to its proponents, applies not just to the universe, but to everything in it, including biological entities, and is offered as an alternative explanation for biological diversity to the theory of evolution.

Intelligent design arose out of the discomfort of religious conservatives with repeated court findings that Biblical creationism including so-called scientific creationism cannot be taught in the public schools. Since it is religious in origin it violates the constitution's establishment clause. However, the most recent case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Edwards vs. Aguillard (1987), was taken by the religious fundamentalists as an opening, since the opinion recognized that the public schools may teach legitimate theories, including alternatives to currently accepted theory. That opinion does not say that religious ideas may be taught if they are called theories, but that's what the intelligent design promoters are trying to do. But intelligent design isn't a theory. Let me explain why, and also why the senator is wrong in his other arguments as well. I'll also explain how the concept can be legally discussed in the public schools.

The claim that intelligent design is a theory corrupts the meaning of theory. As a practicing scientist, I know a theory to be a body of knowledge that explains a natural phenomenon. A theory contains factual information, hypotheses and models. These collectively explain an observation. A well-known, though poorly understood example, is the theory of relativity, which explains the observed structure and function of the known universe. Another theory is Newtonian mechanics, which explains why the moon doesn't fall on the earth, and why some heavenly objects do. It also makes it possible for an engineer to calculate how much steel is needed in a bridge, or how much fuel an airplane will require to make a given trip. Day in and day out, at the university where I teach, I help students to understand cell theory, which explains how cells work. Notice, by the way, that the theory and the object it explains (cell theory and the cell) have the same name.

All the examples I used in the previous paragraph have something that intelligent design lacks. That is, they are legitimate attempts to understand how a phenomenon observed in nature works. Beyond that, they make predictions, rather precise ones, about particular points in nature. The big bang became a theory and was accepted when it predicted that a particular kind of radiation would be found in the universe, and indeed, that was found to be true. The theory of plate tectonics was accepted as an explanation for the structure and behavior of the earth's crust when it predicted particular measurements, which worked out. So now we understand earthquakes. Not being able to say exactly when the next one will occur is beside the point.

Despite the claims that intelligent design is a theory, it has made no predictions. But evolution has made all sorts of predictions, including that we would find the transitional fossils that link whales to the hippopotamus, that pesticide resistance would become common in crop pests and that transitional fossils between wolves and dogs would be found around late stone age village sites in the Middle East.

Like Newton, the renaissance physicist who developed the original theory of gravity, when he failed to explain certain orbital behaviors but instead said that some things are beyond our understanding and must be left to God, those who promote intelligent design as an alternative to evolution are making the claim that we are unable to understand, and therefore, we must give up. Well, maybe that applies to some of us.

Mazzei asks several questions that creationists have used in the past to confuse the public about the nature of science and the nature of explanations. One of his questions is "how the natural conditions on the Earth could be so perfectly suited to supporting human life." Well, data from geology tell us that human life is a fairly recent phenomenon on earth, say less than 2 million years old, while the earth itself is some 4.6 billion years old. During much of that time, it was not at all well suited to human life, and all the best evidence is that it will not always be so in the future. Humans cannot breathe poisonous gases, for example, nor can they survive temperatures such as existed over much of the earth during some (not all) of the ice ages. The earth's current climate fits us, mostly because we evolved under its influence.

If we want Oklahoma school children to be the best educated around we will not go down this road. Any law ultimately will be found unconstitutional, Oklahoma can ill afford to spend the money to carry on a court battle, and Oklahoma's children will suffer by being taught false science.

Now, can intelligent design be brought up, examined, discussed in public schools, under the law? Is it constitutional for teachers to raise it? Sure. Science teachers can mention it, as I do in the college classes I teach, where I point out the public and political interest in it, and the attempts to force its teaching. But they must, if they are to maintain academic integrity, also do as I do, and point out the fallacy of the claim that it is science, and explain why it would be professional irresponsibility on their part to teach that it is a theory offering a legitimate scientific explanation for the diversity of life.

Other teachers, in social science, philosophy, literature, government can also bring up intelligent design, discuss and analyze the social phenomenon, or the writing supporting it as logical argument. In fact, a University of Kansas philosophy professor recently proposed to do just that in a new course.

I was asked today if we could suppress the examination of other ideas through a constitutional argument. I was hard pressed to think of anything other than religion that fit the model, and it is not suppression of religion that keeps intelligent design out of the science classroom. It is that we cannot under the constitution promote religion, and that science teachers can only teach and advocate science.

In fact, the question as to whether God exists is commonly used in science classes as an example of the sort of question that science cannot investigate, because of course, the question has no definitive answer in the natural world.

State school board says old biology teaching guidelines will remain in useBy BILL ROBINSONStaff WriterThe South Carolina school board has stymied an effort to allow teaching creationism in public schools.


Posted on Wed, Dec. 14, 2005

The board's vote today to use current high school biology standards won't stop the drive to teach more than evolution in public schools.

The Education Oversight Committee, which in an unprecedented move Monday did not endorse new high school biology teaching guidelines because of the evolution vs. creationism debate, will convene a panel of experts to advise on writing new standards.

By a one-vote margin, the oversight committee had decided Monday it could not endorse some specific language that addresses how to teach evolution. The committee, which is charged with tracking school reform, said all other standards that cover science instruction for students in kindergarten through grade 12 are appropriate.

To avoid confusion, state superintendent Inez Tenenbaum and her staff suggested that the state board approve the bulk of the 100-page document of new standards for all grades, but set aside all proposed changes in high school biology standards until a consensus about teaching the origins of life can be reached.

That won't occur until at least February, when the oversight committee is expected to take up the issue at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The oversight committee, which has veto power over the standards written by the education department, said other sections addressing biology standards were satisfactory. The state Department of Education's lawyers and top instructional policymakers, however, recommended that none of them should be followed until the wording about teaching evolution can be resolved.

The state board voted 10-to-5 to support the education department staff recommendation. Opposed were: Kristin Maguire of Clemson, Phillip Shoopman of Greer, Terrye Seckinger of Isle of Palms, Ron Wilson of Easley and Kristi Woodall of Union.

Reach Robinson at (803) 771-8482 or brobinson@thestate.com.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Alabama Bible Course Bill's Mandated Textbook Sparks Criticism


By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker December 12, 2005

(AgapePress) - Several voices are raising objections to a bill in the Alabama legislature, HB 58, which would require local school districts choosing to offer a Bible literacy elective in grades 9 through 12 to use a new, untested textbook that many critics view as controversial.

The bill sponsored by Alabama House Majority Leader Ken Guin and House Speaker Seth Hammett would allow schools to offer a course based on the book The Bible and Its Influence, which is published by the Virginia-based Bible Literacy Project (BLP). However, Dr. Dennis Cuddy, who has taught in public schools at the university level and served as a senior associate with the U.S. Department of Education, believes the book contains blatant errors and misleading information.

"For example," Cuddy notes, "one of the passages says most Christians and Jews do not read Genesis as a literal account of God's creation of the world. Then it goes on to ask students to look up some 'other' examples of ancient literature and mythology of the origins of the world. So a student looking at that could get the impression that Genesis is a myth."

The former Education Department official has concerns not only about the textbook, but also about the group that published it and points out that about one half of the Bible Literacy Project's advisory board subscribe to the communitarian idea of balancing individual rights against the interests of society. In fact, he notes, some BLP members have signed a communitarian platform that refers to gun rights advocates as "individual gunslingers" and calls for domestic disarmament.

"It strikes me that if you have half of your members of an advisory board as communitarians that that's really not by accident," Cuddy observes. "If you had a book of religious people and just put your finger down at random, you probably wouldn't wind up with half the people you picked as communitarians; so maybe there's some larger agenda at work here."

A Legal Perspective on the Bible Course Bill A number of law and policy experts are also raising concerns about HB 58. Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) president Brad Dacus asserts that the Bible Literacy Project "presents questionable views and assumptions, which will likely not withstand critical academic or public scrutiny." And Steve Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, says the proposed legislation that seeks to mandate the use of the relatively new and untried textbook in Alabama high schools "usurps the authority of the State Board of Education, which is vested with exclusive authority to review and approve textbooks for use in the public schools" across the state.

Crampton feels the citizens of Alabama would have been better served had HB 58 simply encouraged the offering of an elective course on the Bible without trying to require the use of any specific curriculum. "This bill, if passed into law, would invite a legal challenge based on its plain violation of existing law," he contends.

The AFA Law Center spokesman has offered to assist in drafting a revised bill that would eliminate the legal defects in the current bill. "While we enthusiastically endorse the teaching of the Bible as part of a well-rounded education, this bill goes too far by attempting to force local school districts to use only one, untested textbook," he offers.

Crampton serves on the board of directors for the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), an organization that offers an established Bible curriculum that is already being used in several Alabama schools. The NCBCPS course, which Crampton and PJI's Dacus both recommend, is called "The Bible in History and Literature." It is currently offered in 317 school districts in 37 different states across the U.S. and enjoys widespread support.

© 2005 AgapePress

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Chemtrails Are Over Las Vegas


Las Vegas Tribune August 19, 20005

Marcus K. Dalton Tribune Media Group

Part 1

Editor's Note: Las Vegas residents are increasingly noticing the appearance of chemical trails overhead. They appear EVERY weekend without fail, the only exception being the two weeks after September 11, 2001. Such "chemtrails" are substantially different in appearance to the normal condensation trails left by jet airliners. The difference is that while condensation trails are composed of water vapor that dissipates rapidly, "chemtrails" linger much longer and spread out over time to eventually cover the sky with a thin haze. This week the Las Vegas Tribune begins a two-part article to examine the undeniable and mysterious phenomena of Chemtrails Over Las Vegas.

Last year a concerned reader wrote to the Idaho Observer: "Driving across Idaho and Nevada we saw normal condensation trails in the skies above north Idaho and we were habitually looking up as we drove toward Las Vegas. We had noticed that the sparsely populated areas in Nevada had brilliantly clear blue skies and that the occasional airplane left vapor trails that dissipated normally. But as soon as we neared Las Vegas, in the skies directly above the city, we watched what appeared to be a military C-135 Transports spraying something over the populated areas. When the planes were no longer directly over Las Vegas, they continued flying leaving a vapor trail that dissipated normally."

It has been reported that the "chemtrails" contain ethylene dibromide -- a substance that has been an additive to gasoline and airplane fuels as well as a banned pesticide. Ethylene dibromide has been linked to kidney and liver damage and is an immunosuppressive and a lung irritant.

William Thomas, who has researched chemtrails since their appearance in the latter 90s, has noted stunted plant growth in once-healthy gardens and wilderness areas in Santa Fe and Aspen. Similar plant problems are commonly associated with chemtrails in other regions of the U.S.

A brief history of the chemtrail phenomenon can be traced to a Washington state man who told award-winning investigative reporter William Thomas that he'd become ill on New Year's Day 1999 after watching several jets make strange lines in the sky. Within six months, Thomas, writing primarily for the Environmental News Service, has detailed 1000s of eyewitness reports of chemtrails from 40 states.

"Mainstream newspapers have gone out of their way to dismiss these eyewitness accounts," Thomas told the New Mexican newspaper in June 1999, "It's easier to sell UFOs to major media than a phenomena as close in many cities as the nearest window."

Especially disturbing for residents of heavily chemtrailed communities like Las Vegas is a "chemtrail sickness" associated with heavy spray days leaving many stricken people complaining of the "flu" and acute allergic reactions months after the flu season has ended. Upper and lower respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments remain unusually high in many spray areas, along with debilitating fatigue - and something even more worrying.

What's going on?

Thomas is convinced that we are under "deliberate biological attack" by agents known only to top military and government officials responsible for permitting continuing over-flights by unmarked spray aircraft.

Government officials deny that anything unusual is taking place, yet increasing numbers of concerned observers are seeing 727-like aircraft painted "all-white with a black stripe up the middle of fuselage" laying long and often cries-crossing chemtrail patterns over Southern Nevada and elsewhere. None of the planes carry identifying markings.

Pat Edgar has been watching the jets spraying over eastern Oklahoma since a sunny day in October, 1997 when as many as 30 contrails gradually occluded the sky. "They look like they're playing tic-tac-toe up there," he says. "You know darn well it's not passenger planes." Edgar says he has watched "cob-webbing stuff coming down" from the zigzagging jets flying "all day long, line after line, back-and-forth, like furrows in a farm field." Edgar adds "There is a lot of Lupus in the area now. A lot of women have come down with it."

One source, who spoke to the Tribune under condition of anonymity, working as a civilian archeologist on government land throughout Nevada, began to notice "all white unmarked aircraft" preparing for take-off at Nellis AFB and at the Mancamp Complex near Tonapah in the late-90s. "It was these unmarked planes that were constantly laying down the criss-crossing X patterns of lingering chemical-spray trails over Southern Nevada." When the archeologist asked the military escort who accompanied the civilian research team into 'sensitive' areas around Nellis, about the planes, the reply received was, "You didn't see anything."

Another Las Vegas resident, Sandy Range, grew up within an outdoors field and stream-type family and has been watching the weather and the skies all her life. Holding a degree from Syracuse University, Range moved to Las Vegas in 1989. "I first began to notice the chemtrails in late '96 - 14 criss-crossed miles-long vapor trails that didn't evaporate like the norm. I began to see them weekly, then daily," Range states matter-of-factly.

One early morning in '99 Range was returing from Henderson when a low-flying craft dropped a trail right overhead along Boulder Highway. "It covered my car with a sticky web-like coating and I saved a specimen in a jar. Microscopic fiber-like filaments," Range reports.

Government denials, as usual.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio authored the Space Preservation Act of 2001, which sought a "permanent ban against weapons in space," specifically banning "chemtrails" as weapons. But in a subsequent version of the bill, the "chemtrails" language disappeared entirely. The missing words suggest an eyes-wide-open denial, which says as much about the cover-up as it does about the spraying that's plainly visible in the sky.

In a front-page story entitled "Conspiracy theorists look up," the Akron Beacon Journal noted that Kucinich's bill "had been rewrittenand the references to chemtrails and the other types of weapons were quietly eliminated." The Beacon Journal article, linking chemtrails to conspiracies, resulted from massive local pressure. Michel Massullo of Akron provided that newspaper with rolls of photos of plane trails and a sworn affidavit attesting to extensive aerial activity over that city.

The U.S. Air Force Website refutes the "Chemtrail Hoax" as having been around since 1996, "accusing the Air Force of being involved in spraying the U.S. population" with mysterious substances: "Several authors cite an Air University research paper titled 'Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025' that suggests the Air Force is conducting weather modification experiments. The purpose of that paper was part of a thesis to outline a strategy for the use of a future weather modification system to achieve military objectives and it does not reflect current military policy, practice, or capability. The Air Force is not conducting any weather modification experiments or programs and has no plans to do so in the future. The 'chemtrail' hoax has been investigated and refuted by many established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, and major media publications."

Explaining the government's position, Lieutenant Colonel Michael K. Gibson of the U.S. Air Force wrote U.S. Representative Mark Green in August 2000 and stated, "The term 'chemtrail' is a hoax that began circulating approximately three years ago which asserts the government is involved in a joint federal program of covert spraying of the public."

But many intelligent researchers call Gibson's communique a classic non-denial denial: Gibson is denying that the Air Force is secretly spraying U.S. citizens. The reality is the U.S. Space Command and other government agencies are involved in ongoing experiments for military and environmental purposes that involve aerial spraying, and the microfibers and other sprayed chemicals inevitably fall to earth, putting the public at risk.

Before you believe Gibson's and the government's "denial," do an Internet search for the following terms: "Joint Vision for 2020" and "Weather is a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025", a whitepaper by MIT's Bernard Eastlund and H-bomb father Edward Teller. Before he died in 2003, Teller was director emeritus of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where plans for nuclear, biological and directed energy weapons are crafted. In 1997, Teller publicly outlined his proposal to use aircraft to scatter through the stratosphere millions of tons of electrically-conductive metallic materials, ostensibly to reduce global warming.

Two scientists working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base confirmed to the Ohio newspaper, Columbus Alive, that they were involved in aerial spraying experiments. One involved aluminum oxide spraying related to global warming and the other involved barium stearate and had to do with high-tech military communications.

And even in the face of government denials, environmental laboratories have begun to identify an extremely toxic component of the spray drifting over cities and countryside. Several independent sources claim that samples of fallout from the lingering smoke trails and have been independently tested and found to contain ethylene dibromide (EDB).

In 1998, a US Air Force public affairs officer told residents of Las Vegas that their sudden upsurge of respiratory ailments could have come from "routine" fuel-dumping by military aircraft reducing weight for landing.

An extremely hazardous pesticide, EDB was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1983. But in 1991, the composition of jet fuel used by commercial and military jet aircraft in the U.S. was changed from JP4 to somewhat less flammable JP8. A Department of Defense source says the move "has saved some lives" in air crashes. Ethylene dibromide is a key component of JP8.

The 1991 Chemical Hazards of the Workplace warns that repeated exposure to low levels of ethylene dibromide results in "general weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains, coughing and shortness of breath, upper respiratory tract irritation" and respiratory failure caused by swelling of the lymph glands in the lungs. "Deterioration of the heart, liver and kidneys, and hemorrhages in the respiratory tract," can also result from prolonged contact with JP8.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's hazardous materials list: "Ethylene dibromide is a carcinogen and must be handled with extreme caution." A seven-page summary of this pesticide's extreme toxicity notes that EDB may also damage the reproductive system. According to the EPA, "Exposure can irritate the lungs, repeated exposure may cause bronchitis, development of cough, and shortness of breath. It will damage the liver and kidneys".

Mark Witten, a respiratory physiologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson where an official US Air Force study on JP8 was carried out, told Scientist in March, 1998 that crew chiefs "seem to have more colds, more bronchitis, more chronic coughs than the people not exposed to jet fuel."

EDB is 6.5-times heavier than air. Unlike normal condensation trails, the thick white streamers being sprayed from downward-pointing tail-booms over at least 39 states does not dissipate, but spreads into an overcast that refracts a purple color in sunlight and appears suddenly as an oily film in puddles and ponds.

Hundreds of photographs and videotapes made by ground observers show pairs or larger formations of aircraft spreading a white mist that thickens and drifts toward the ground. Thousands of eye-witnesses - including police officers, pilots, military and public health personnel - have provided detailed accounts of aerial spraying in characteristic "X"s and east-to-west grid patterns, followed by occluded skies - and acute auto-immune reactions and respiratory infections throughout affected regions.

Severe headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, joint pain and a dry hacking cough "that never leaves" are being reported by countless Americans jamming hospital Emergency Rooms from coast to coast. While December and January are traditionally bad months for asthma sufferers, patients, doctors and nurses across the U.S. report hospital wards filled to overflowing with bronchitis, pneumonia and acute asthma admissions at up to twice-normal winter rates.

"We're getting sprayed real heavily with the chemtrails," a Las Vegas resident told the Tribune. " On some days it's just total saturation."

As over-filled Pennsylvania hospitals were forced to divert respiratory emergencies to other facilities with bed space, a south-central Pennsylvania resident, Deborah Kammerer, looked out her window and watched aircraft "flying and dispersing over the city. It was supposed to be a clear sunny day. It became more overcast as the day progressed. I observed how the white trails widened out and settled down creating a haze over everything."

Where is the mainstream media's reporting of this mass phenomenon? Indications of a concerted cover-up came in February 2003, when a retired Southern Baptist preacher named Everett Burton finally succeeded in reaching C-span. After voicing his opinion on the Clinton impeachment trial, this former minister told Americans to get a copy of the Constitution and read it to realize what they have lost. Rev. Burton then advised viewers not to take his word for what was happening in the US, "just look up in the skies as the planes regularly spray contrails across the skies, spraying people and making them ill." At that point, Rev. Burton was cut off. The screen flipped from C-span to the Tennessee state seal, remained silent for several minutes.

Part 2 http://www.lasvegastribune.com/20050826/headline3.html

Las Vegas residents are increasingly noticing the appearance of long-lingering chemical trails overhead. They appear virtually every weekend and on most weekdays, the only exception being the two weeks after September 11, 2001. Such "chemtrails" are substantially different in appearance to the normal 'condensation' trails left by jet airliners. The difference is that while condensation trails are composed largely of water vapor that dissipates rapidly, "chemtrails" linger much longer and spread out over time to eventually cover the sky with a thin haze.

It has been reported that the "chemtrails" contain ethylene dibromide -- a substance that has been an additive to gasoline and airplane fuels as well as a banned pesticide. Ethylene dibromide has been linked to kidney and liver damage and is an immunosuppressive and a lung irritant.

Especially disturbing for residents of heavily chemtrailed communities like Las Vegas is a "chemtrail sickness" associated with heavy spray days leaving many stricken people complaining of the "flu" and acute allergic reactions months after the flu season has ended. Upper and lower respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments remain unusually high in many spray areas, along with debilitating fatigue.

The U.S. Air Force Website refutes the "Chemtrail Hoax" as having been around since 1996: "... accusing the Air Force of being involved in spraying the U.S. population" with mysterious substances... "The 'chemtrail' hoax has been investigated and refuted by many established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, and major media publications," claims the Air Force.

But contrary to the Air Force website denial, scientists working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base confirmed to the Ohio newspaper, Columbus Alive, that they were involved in aerial spraying experiments. One involved aluminum oxide spraying related to global warming and the other involved barium stearate and had to do with high-tech military communications.

And even in the face of government denials, environmental laboratories have begun to identify an extremely toxic component of the spray drifting over cities and countryside. Several independent sources claim that samples of fallout from the lingering smoke trails and have been independently tested and found to contain ethylene dibromide (EDB).

In 1998, a US Air Force public affairs officer told residents of Las Vegas that their sudden upsurge of respiratory ailments could have come from "routine" fuel-dumping by military aircraft reducing weight for landing.

An extremely hazardous pesticide, EDB was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1983. But in 1991, the composition of jet fuel used by commercial and military jet aircraft in the U.S. was changed from JP4 to somewhat less flammable JP8. Ethylene dibromide is a key component of JP8.

According to Las Vegas resident and sky-watcher, Sandy Range, "The trails turn on and off like old-time sky-writers and crop dusters... they are a controlled spray typically ended with precision as the trails reach the edge of the populated areas."

One early morning in '99 Range was returning from Henderson when a low-flying craft dropped a trail right overhead along Boulder Highway. "It covered my car with a sticky web-like coating and I saved a specimen in a jar. Microscopic fiber-like filaments," Range reports.

Tommy Farmer, a former engineering technician with Raytheon Missile Systems, has been tracking patterns of jet chemtrails phenomena for more than a year. Farmer has "positively identified" two of the aircraft most often involved in the aerial spraying incidents as a Boeing KC-135 and Boeing KC-10. Both big jets are used by the U.S. Air Force for air-to-air refueling.

Confirming reports from eyewitnesses across the United States, Farmer reports that most chemtrail producing aircraft are painted either solid white or solid black with no other identifying markings visible.

Farmer has collected samples of what he calls "angel hair" sprayed by the mystery aircraft. Farmer says that globular filaments resembling ordinary spider webs, "usually fall in clumps or wads ranging from pencil eraser size to the size of a balled up fist."

Winds often whip the cobweb-like material into filaments as long as 50 feet and that the sticky substance "melts in your hands" and "adheres to whatever it touches."

After repeatedly observing aircraft spraying "in front of and into cloud systems," Farmer is "fairly certain the chemtrail phenomena is one part of a military weather modification and weapons system."

"The huge Xs being traced by formations of tanker jets in the sky can be tracked by satellite and coordinated with electro-magnetic beams to heat the upper atmosphere - changing its temperature and density and enhancing weather effects, theorizes Farmer referring to the government's 'HAARP' project.

Enviromental journalist, William Thomas, is convinced that chemtrails are a "deliberate biological attack" by agents known only to top military and government officials responsible for permitting continuing over-flights by unmarked spray aircraft.

High Altitude Auroral Research Project Based in Gakon, Alaska, the unclassified joint U.S. Air Force and Navy project known as the High Altitude Auroral Research Project (HAARP) has for the past several years been using phased array antennas to steer powerful beams of tightly-focused radio waves to stimulate, heat and steer sections of the upper atmosphere.

Awarded in 1985 to MIT physicist Bernard Eastlund, HAARP's commercial patent claims that directed energy beams of more than one-billion watts can be used for "altering the upper atmosphere wind patterns using plumes of atmospheric particles as a lens or focusing device" to disturb weather thousands of miles away.

Speaking to William Thomas and Environment News Service, a Lycos subsidiary, Eastlund admitted, "I had looked at using this intense beam, which can be angled, to do some experiments in terms of guiding the jetstream, moving it from one spot to another. I presume it is possible, which might lend credence to these other things."

In the U.S. Air Force research study, "Weather as a Force Multiplier" issued in August, 1996, seven U.S. military officers outlined how HAARP and aerial cloud-seeding from tankers could allow U.S. aerospace forces to "own the weather" by the year 2025. Among the desired objectives were "Storm Enhancement," "Storm Modification" and "Drought Inducement."

"In the United States, weather-modification will likely become a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications," the report goes on to say.

Within 30 years, the Air Force foresees using Weather Force Support Elements with "the necessary sensor and communication capabilities to observe, detect, and act on weather-modification requirements to support U.S. military objectives" by using airborne cloud generation and seeding techniques, the 1996 Air Force report says.

But on its HAARP website, the U.S. Navy says, "The HAARP facility will not affect the weather. Transmitted energy in the frequency ranges that will be used by HAARP is subject to negligible absorption in either the troposphere or the stratosphere - the two levels of the atmosphere that produce the earth's weather. Electromagnetic interactions only occur in the near-vacuum of the rarefied region above about 70 km known as the ionosphere."

Still, according to the Air Force's 1996 report, other routine weather-modification missions will deploy "cirrus shields" formed by the chemtrails of high-flying aircraft "to deny enemy visual and infrared surveillance."

Once fully developed the HAARP facility will consist of 180 antennas on a total land area of about 33 acres will produce

approximately 3.6 million watts of radio frequency power, the HAARP website states. The Air Force says HAARP transmitters have been designed to operate "very linearly so that they will not produce radio interference to other users of the radio spectrum."

Farmer guesses that besides its obvious tactical military applications, aerial-seeding of contrail-clouds aligned in HAARP's characteristic grid-patterns could be part of a secret U.S. government initiative to address the global weather crisis brought about by atmospheric warming.

Dr. Len Horowitz, "Conspiracy Theorist"

You're sick. Your nose is stuffy, your body aches, you're sweaty, and you don't have enough energy to get out of bed. It's not the flu - it's a conspiracy. At least, that's what Dr. Len Horowitz says.

Over the past 10 years, Horowitz has become America's most controversial medical authority. A university-trained medical researcher, Horowitz, 48, charges that elements of the United States government are conspiring with major pharmaceutical companies to make large segments of the population sick. More than that, he charges that these same conspirators created the AIDS epidemic to kill Blacks, Hispanics and gays. And if that's not enough, Horowitz argues that Adolph Hitler created the New World Order to fulfill his twisted dream of world domination.

Horowitz has made these claims in a series of books, videos, public appearances and radio talk shows. Today, Horowitz is best known as one of the most vocal opponents of government-mandated vaccines. He believes that vaccine manufacturers have purposely contaminated their products with a wide range of exotic viruses, including funguses developed by the United States military. He believes contaminated vaccines were intentionally used to create the AIDS epidemic.

Despite his 'wild' claims, Horowitz has a serious academic background. After he received a doctorate in dentistry from Tufts University, he was awarded a fellowship to do behavioral research at the University of Rochester. Horowitz later earned a Master of Public Health degree in behavioral science from Harvard University and a Masters degree in health education from Beacon College. He has also served on the faculties of Tufts University, Harvard University, and Leslie College's Institute for the Arts and Human Development. His published research reports have appeared in a diverse array of scientific, professional, and lay periodicals ranging from "American Health" and "Wellness Management" magazines to the "Journal of Patient Education and Counseling," the "Journal of AIDS Patient Care" and the "British Dental Journal."

Horowitz has traveled the country for years, speaking at both his own seminars and at survivalist-oriented Preparedness Expos, where he has appeared before large, enthusiastic crowds. A dynamic public speaker, Horowitz has presented his conspiracy theories to hundreds of thousands of people over the past decade, personally selling his books and tapes before and after his presentations. He has also appeared on numerous talk radio shows, including the nationally broadcast, locally produced "Art Bell Show".

Speaking to Jim Redden of The Konformist last year, Horowitz pulled no punches on the subject of chemtrails: "I believe the chemtrails are responsible for a chemical intoxication of the public, which would then cause a general immune suppression, low grade to high grade, depending on exposure. An immune dysfunction, which would then allow people to become susceptible to opportunistic infections."

Asked if he believes that high-flying planes are, in fact, spraying something on the population, Horowitz responds: "There's no question that it's real. I first began to investigate chemtrails when some were sprayed over my home in Northern Idaho. I took pictures of them, and then contacted the Environmental Protection Agency of the state. When I contacted their directors, they were clueless and referred me to the Air Force. They then got me in touch with Centers for Disease Control Toxicology, and after about a week I received a letter from one of their chief toxicologists saying, indeed there was some amount of ethylene dibromide in the jet fuel."

Ethylene dibromide is a known human chemical carcinogen that was removed from unleaded gasoline because of its cancer-causing effects. Now suddenly it has appeared in the jet fuel that apparently high-altitude military aircraft are emitting.

But why would a known carcinogen be added to jet fuel after being removed from automotive fuel?

According to the Horowitz conspiracy theory, when you examine who owns the fuel, who are the fuel company directors, you enter into the realm of the Rockefeller family and the royal families - Standard Oil and British Petroleum. And what are their other agendas?

"Suddenly now you see their documents, showing that they have historically funded eugenics, racial hygiene, genocide, depopulation, family planning, maternal and child health - where they make and deliver vaccines - and contaminated blood supplies. These are the 'banksters', the same people who run the blood banking as well as the money banking industries," says Horowitz.

The Rockefellers monopolized American medicine in the 1920s. They, along with I.G. Farben, Germany's leading industrial organization, held the monopoly on the world's chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Extensive documentation by Dr. Len Horowitz in the Journal Of Degenerative Diseases link several giant pharmaceutical corporations, the US, Canadian and British military, and powerful families in the US and Britain with 70 years of research and clandestine testing of increasingly sophisticated and "stealthy" bioweapons capable of reducing populations.

While there is as yet no link between these ongoing, documented programs of population reduction and the chemtrails phenomenon, it is striking that spreading outbreaks of flu-like respiratory infections have been traced by Horowitz and others to deliberate and/or accidental releases into North American bloodstreams through vaccines as well as public exposures to industry and military produced carcinogens, like EDB

"These 'weaponized' agents target the elderly and other immune-compromised victims whose deaths go largely unremarked," Horowitz explains.

"The U.S. government has a long history of denying inexcusable covert operations. These are the people who told you about the joys of nuclear radiation, that Agent Orange could defoliate a tropical jungle overnight but was harmless to humans. This is the same government that secretly experimented on its citizens with everything from syphilis to LSD, concludes Horowitz.

The Pentagon would now have the public believe that the mass sightings of chemtrails over Las Vegas and much of North America are collective hallucinations, even though the boys at the government's Lawrence Livermore experimental lab admit that they've discussed massive aerial spraying and run computer simulations on the effects of weather modification for military and peacetime purposes.

Commenting under condition of anonymity a Tribune confidential source speculates: "Whatever this material is, it cannot be good for us. Moreover, it represents another example of Americans taking their liberty and well being for granted. It may be that weather agencies, NASA and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration know enough to keep their mouths shut."

"The overall scope and agenda behind chemtrails - Operation Clover Leaf, Operation Red Sky, Operation Rain Dance - the code names for these ops - intertwines several overall objectives deemed imperative by the real power in DC, which is the National Security Administration. It should be noted that most of the intel groups that are involved in domestic control are, in varying degrees, in-the-loop on this business and are actively working with the Office of Naval Intelligence and the NSA in seeing this program succeed," concludes the source.

The chemtrails in the skies above Las Vegas are a most troublesome enigma.

Winds of change in Kansas?


By Lakshmi Chaudhry December 12, 2005

As a Lawrence Journal-World article notes, Kansas is moving rapidly to implement some of the most radical elements of the rightwing agenda: "Constitutional ban on gay marriage: done; science standards critical of evolution: done; investigating abortion clinics: done; obstacles to sex education: in the works; politically untouchable ultra-conservative congressmen: ongoing."

But is a backlash in the works? The piece also points to an open rebellion brewing among moderate Republicans, which is working to the advantage of Democrats:

A group called the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority announced last week it would get involved in fund-raising and campaigning to counter what it called "radical groups" that are involved in Republican Party politics in Kansas.

Those groups named by KTRM included the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity. Both are anti-tax groups linked to the state's top Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who is one of the most socially conservative lawmakers in the country and has indicated he may run for president, and Wichita-based Koch Industries, which funds numerous conservative and libertarian think tanks and whose owners have been longtime movers and shakers in Kansas politics. ...

Ryan Wright, the executive director of the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, said the party had strayed so far from its roots that a venerated Kansan, former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, would have trouble winning a GOP primary today. ...

Meanwhile, another group has formed to reclaim, as it says, the core of mainstream Kansas values. The nonpartisan Kansas Alliance for Education, headed by lifelong Republican Don Hineman, is dedicated to unseating the 6-4 majority on the state school board. [Lawrence Journal-World]

Of course, then there's the point Tom Frank made in his response to my question about "over-reaching" in an interview right after the elections:

LC: In terms of opportunity for that kind of strategy, is there a danger that the Bush administration will move so far to the right - thanks to the evangelicals - as to provoke a backlash of their own?

FRANK: Will they go too far and turn the public against them? Only if we are ready with a message that's ready to make that happen. ...

So, of course, they're overreaching. They're frightening people. And if they get their way on Roe vs. Wade, it will make them extremely unpopular. But we have to be standing by. We have to be ready to kick their ass. And, I'm ready. Hey, I'm ready to go. Wind me up and turn me loose. (laughs)

But the Democrats have to be ready too.


Lakshmi Chaudhry is a senior editor at In These Times, and the former senior editor of AlterNet. You can write to her at lakshmi@alternet.org.

Conspiracy theory could be on right wavelength

Bad Science

Ben Goldacre Saturday December 10, 2005 The Guardian

The reason that I am so fabulously wealthy (girls) is, of course, that I am paid by the government and the pharmaceutical industry to rubbish alternative therapies and MMR conspiracy theorists, and so maintain what you humanities graduates like to call "the hegemony".

After last week's excellent "magnetic wine improver" debunking I seem to be deluged with Bad Science projects being lined up for publication in academic journals. King among them all is On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study by Ali Rahimi et al, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

You will all doubtless be familiar with the use of radio signals by the government to monitor your thoughts and control your behaviour. Aluminium helmets and hat-linings have been recommended in the conspiracy theory community for many years as a protective measure against this government interference. However, although theoretically plausible, until now the foil hat had, surprisingly, never been experimentally validated.

Rahimi et al have healed this gap using a network analyser and a directional antenna to calculate the ability of each of three aluminum helmet designs to reduce the strength of the radio signals entering the brains of a sample group of four individuals.

The receiver antenna was placed at various places on the cranium of each experimental subject: over the frontal, occipital and parietal lobes. Measurements were taken, once with the helmet off, and once with the helmet on. As per best practice, the foil helmets were constructed with the double layering technique described elsewhere in the literature. The network analyser then plotted the amount by which the signal was attenuated - or reduced - by the foil hats, across a wide range of frequencies.

Their results are more startling than anyone could possibly have predicted. Although the helmets did reduce the strength of the signal by around 10dB across most of the spectrum, there was an unexpected second finding: the helmets did in fact amplify signals, in certain very specific frequency ranges, by a huge 30dB at 2.6GHz, and by 20dB around 1.5GHz.

What are those frequencies used for? I'll tell you. The 1.5GHz range coincides almost perfectly with frequencies allocated to the US government, between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. "According to the FCC," explain the authors, "these bands are supposedly reserved for 'radio location' (ie, GPS), and other communications with satellites."

And what about the other frequency that's amplified into your brain? "The 2.6 Ghz band coincides with mobile phone technology. Though not affiliated by government, these bands are at the hands of multinational corporations."

To the authors of the paper, the meaning of all this is very clear. "Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities," they conclude. "We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason."

To me, it's a lot simpler than that. This paper is itself a transparent attempt by the government to prevent us from taking simple and effective protective measures. Keep wearing the helmets. Unless, of course, what the alternative therapy conspiracy theorists say about me is true.

· Full references available at www.badscience.net Please send your bad science to bad.science@guardian.co.uk


South Carolina Biology Standards in Limbo


2005-12-13 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

By Bill Robinson, The State, Columbia, S.C.

Dec. 13--A proponent of teaching various theories of human origin, which include creationism, gained support Monday from the state's public school reform oversight panel.

At the urging of Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, the Education Oversight Committee voted 8-7 to strike from high school biology standards wording that tied schools to teaching only evolution.

Fair wants schools to go beyond Darwinism, and oversight panel members said they would draft new rules before February to address his concerns.

"What I'm trying to encourage is critical analysis of a controversial subject in the classroom," Fair said.

What happens next is unclear.

"This is unprecedented," said Dale Stuckey, the state Department of Education chief lawyer. "It's my interpretation of the law that (EOC members) have no authority to change the standards."

The state Department of Education writes standards all teachers must follow in designing their daily lessons. The oversight panel signs off on what the agency and the state school board approve.

Monday's decision came after a tense, 75-minute debate in which state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, a Democrat, charged Fair with trying to derail revisions in the teaching standards that emerged after months of study and debate. She said those standards are widely supported in teaching and science circles.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pro: Intelligent Design makes the most sense


December 11, 2005

By Robert Hays
Special to The Clarion-Ledger

For several years now, a continuing debate has been Creationism vs. Evolutionism. Even though evolutionists won't usually admit it, the difference between the two is simply a difference between two theories of origins. Each side looks at the same evidence, but because of differing presuppositions, each one comes up with differing conclusions. It's as simple as that.

A recent addition to the debate is the idea of Intelligent Design. This idea simply says that the universe and everything within it is far too complex for any of it to have happened by accident; therefore, it must have the hand of some intelligent designer behind it.

So this represents a change of philosophical gears in the debate. It is really debate about whether the designer exists or not and how involved in creation he is if he does. Since the existence of a designer — or its non-existence — cannot be proven empirically, the question each person must answer becomes, "Which side makes more sense?"

I believe the Intelligent Design side does. One of the many reasons is the issue of irreducible complexity. This sophisticated sounding, yet very simple, idea says that there are certain things which cannot exist and function unless they have all their parts; therefore, for them to exist and function while their essential parts develop is an impossibility.

The well-used illustration is the mousetrap. A mousetrap consists of several parts, all of which are essential to its proper working. If all you've got is a board and spring, it doesn't catch mice. If you only have a trigger and a whapper, it still doesn't work. You have to have all parts put together in a certain way for it to work. If evolution were true, then there would have been the biological equivalent of a half-put-together mousetrap catching mice while it evolved into something more efficient.

The simplest form of life is the amoeba. It is perfectly suited to what it does. It has no eye, but it can gravitate toward light. It has no feet, but it can move as it wishes. It has no reproductive system, but it reproduces far more efficiently than species which require two sexes to do so.

Evolutionists say everything got started as simple, one-celled animals like amoebas, and became more sophisticated over the millennia as they developed into other organisms. The answer of Intelligent Design is that in order for the amoeba to evolve into something other than what it originally was, it would have to develop some things which were not natural to it as an amoeba, but which would prove to be essential to whatever it was that it was evolving into.

The problem for the evolutionist is that until these systems were developed fully, they could not be functional. And if they were not functional, then it is reasonable to ask, "Then how or why were they developing at all?" Who needed them? Why bother? Or, the most basic question of all, "Why evolution?"

See why I say that the idea of an intelligent designer makes more sense? Without it, all we are left with is the implausible notion that things can live and thrive while their essential parts are only partially developed, and while developing into something else, and all by chance. This is science?

Robert Hays of Pearl received his bachelor's degree in biology from Belhaven College and has degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a Presbyterian (PCA) pastor. E-mail: bandssdad@bellsouth.net.

Minister offers proof of intelligent design


December 10, 2005


In recent weeks there has been a series of articles in The Mountain Press asserting that evolution is a matter of science, intelligent design is a matter of faith." With that in mind, I offer the following positive proofs of intelligent design.

First, there is the irreducible complexity of life. From the most basic cell, all the way up to fully functional homo sapiens and life on planet earth, there is a degree of complexity that could only be achieved through intelligent design. Biologists have explored the minutia of the cell and discovered that without each of its parts, a cell won't function properly. In order to thrive, cells must be fully formed. That doesn't happen slowly (as through natural selection). In human beings, there are many examples of similarly complex systems that cannot be explained by Darwinism. Life on earth is also a complicated dance between orbiting stars and planets, all carefully choreographed by an intelligent Choreographer.

Another convincing proof is the fact that there are similarities between species, which would be expected if they were all designed by the same Designer. If evolution is the great unifying principle in biology, why don't we see the evolution of species today? (The sort of massive change that would be necessary for Darwinism to be true. Imagine. Mammals becoming whales, reptiles becoming birds, etc.) In the absence of such evidence, the proof is strong that one intelligent designer is responsible for whatever similarities exist in nature.

Third, I find it more than a little convincing that nearly all scientists agree that there had to be a specific point in time when there was a beginning. This is not only consistent with intelligent design, it also agrees with the Bible.

Fourth, fossilized remains appear in the fossil record suddenly, and fully formed. There is no incontrovertible evidence of transitional forms. Even the ape-like creatures discovered in bone fragments in Africa and elsewhere appear to have been fully formed species with no conclusive proof that they were becoming human.

Fifth, recent discoveries in genetics have shown that there was an "Adam" (the first man). This is consistent with my position.

Sixth, intelligent design is generally consistent with the greatest book ever written. It approaches creationism, which this writer wholeheartedly believes. Does that exclude me from the debate on intelligent design? I hope not, because there are significant problems inherent in Darwinism. While this may not convince anybody to switch sides, it should cause us to question Darwin's theory of evolution and the now common practice of excluding any theory that doesn't agree with Darwinism from public schools.

There is one final reason why I cannot agree with Darwin's theory that I will share on Christmas Eve in our candlelight service. In my view, this is the one truth that brings all these others together. It is the greatly unifying principle, not only in biology, but in all of life.

Stevan McClure

Smoky Mountain Christian Church

©The Mountain Press 2005

Students join debate on intelligent design


Posted on Sun, Dec. 11, 2005


Chicago Tribune

ITHACA, N.Y. - Dappled with autumn leaves, the manicured lawns of an Ivy League campus in upstate New York may seem far from the cornfields of Kansas or the rural towns of central Pennsylvania, but it represents the newest of these battlefields in the growing culture war over the teaching of evolution.

The national spotlight recently has focused on school boards, in Kansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, grappling with often contentious calls for the inclusion of intelligent design, a concept critical of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, in science curricula. But a significant new front in this cultural conflict is opening in the halls of American higher education, spearheaded by science students skeptical of evolution and intrigued by intelligent design.

One of them is Hannah Maxson. A math and chemistry major at Cornell University, she founded an Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Club here this fall.

"In my opinion, both intelligent design and Darwinian evolution are science. Both have philosophical implications. Intelligent design implies the universe is somewhat directed. Darwinian evolution implies a naturalistic worldview," said Maxson, 21.

Darwin's evolutionary theory, hailed as the cornerstone of modern biology by nearly all scientists, holds that life on Earth, including humans, shares common ancestry and developed through natural selection and random mutation. In scientific terms, a theory is not a wild guess, but an overarching explanation pulling together known facts rigorously tested over time.

Intelligent design, or ID, posits there are complexities of life, yet unexplained by evolution, that best are attributed to an unnamed and unseen intelligent designer. Opponents, including every major U.S. scientific organization, deride it as Neo-Creo, or a high-tech version of creationism, the biblical account of creation in Genesis.

Cornell's IDEA Club is one of about 25 such campus organizations around the country.

All clubs operate under the auspices of the IDEA Center, founded in 2001 as a non-profit educational organization whose goal is "to promote intelligent design theory purely on its scientific merits," according to the organization's mission statement. The center provides clubs with organizational help, books, videos and primarily non-financial support, according to Casey Luskin, co-founder of the center and the first campus IDEA Club begun in 1999 at the University of California San Diego.

He said the center, which has a budget of less than $10,000, remains separate from and receives no funding from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based think tank that has been a leading advocate of intelligent design.

However, several institute fellows are on the center's advisory board, including such prominent ID advocates as William Dembski and Michael Behe, and Luskin recently became the program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

"We've done a lot with very little. I attribute that to the fact there are so many students out there who want to talk about this issue but are not given the opportunity in their classes," Luskin said.

"As this issue has bubbled up into the national consciousness over the last 10 years, it makes sense that it would have a presence on college campuses," said David Masci, a senior research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C.

He pointed to a March Gallup Youth Survey of teens ages 13 to 18. It showed that 38 percent believe "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years" and 43 percent agreed that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process." Only 18 percent said humans developed over millions of years without divine guidance.

Such numbers are nothing new for Will Provine, the C.A. Alexander professor of biological sciences in Cornell's department of ecology and evolutionary biology. In his annual course on evolution for non-biology majors, Provine hands out questionnaires asking students' views on evolution. Since he began the course in 1986, the number of students saying they believed humans came about due to divine direction - whether through creationism, intelligent design or simply God's guidance - has fallen below 70 percent on only two occasions, Provine said.

"I'm really thrilled to have everyone in the course, whether you're a creationist or not," said Provine, who cheerfully identifies himself as an atheist. "If they are deeply religious, I don't try to change their minds. I just encourage them to sort it out."

Where he differs from most in the evolutionary biology community, he said, is he welcomes all views and ridicules none.

That kind of tolerance is too rare, said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va. "I think many of the scientific organizations have felt they had to demonize ID in order to win the argument. I think by ruling out ID in science journals and science discussions, they've given the impression that they're not willing to listen and really engage the other side."

Cornell student Maxson said it was such derision and lack of knowledge about intelligent design that led her to found her IDEA club, which quickly registered about 60 members. "I was surprised at how much interest there was," said the junior from California.

She also was surprised at how much controversy ID is generating on campus.

On Oct. 21, about two weeks before Kansas redefined state science standards to include the supernatural and while a Pennsylvania federal court heard a landmark case concerning the constitutionality of teaching ID in public schools, Cornell's acting president devoted his entire state of the university address to an impassioned attack on intelligent design.

Calling it an urgent matter "of great significance to Cornell and to the country as a whole," Hunter Rawlings said, "The issue in question is the challenge to science posed by religiously based opposition to evolution, described, in its current form, as intelligent design." And, he said bluntly, "ID is a religious belief masquerading as a secular idea."

Shocked by Rawlings' speech, Maxson shot back with a news release posted on the IDEA Club's Web site. She criticized Rawlings for his "blatant disregard for the facts concerning intelligent design" and for "blasting the emerging intelligent design theory as unscientific and religious in an unscrupulous, unknowledgeable manner."

Sitting over lunch in Cornell's wood-paneled Ivy Room restaurant on a recent rainy afternoon, the slight, soft-spoken Maxson said, "I expected it would be controversial in that some people would be down on it, but not controversial to the extent you'd have the president of the university making a major speech on it."

But Rawlings is hardly the only academic leader to affirm evolution and oppose ID in recent weeks. In September, Robert Hemenway, chancellor of the University of Kansas, sent a letter to faculty and students in which he said, "The attack on evolution continues across America and compels me to again state the obvious: The University of Kansas is a major public research university. ... As an academic, scientific community we must affirm scientific principles."

In October, Timothy White, president of the University of Idaho, sent out a similar letter to students and faculty saying, "I write to articulate the University of Idaho's position with respect to evolution: This is the only curriculum that is appropriate to be taught in our bio-physical sciences."

Emphasizing that he has a "very high respect for people of faith," Cornell's Rawlings said during a recent interview that his speech drew a strong positive response from scientists as well as other university presidents.

"I think, perhaps, more academics will get involved in this debate and I think they should. (Earlier) they didn't want to dignify intelligent design and, secondly, they didn't think they had to. They didn't take this seriously as a movement. But it is now gaining a place in many public schools and that means we'll be dealing with the results for years to come," said Rawlings, noting he welcomed the dialogue with Cornell's IDEA Club.

"These IDEA clubs are going to face a lot of opposition on college campuses, I would predict," said Haynes of the First Amendment Center, who is an expert on religious liberty and educational organizations. "It's a very interesting idea, so to speak, because it's students saying, `Let's have the debate. If we can't have the debate in the classroom, then we'll do it ourselves.'"

Warning Label on Darwin Sows Division in Suburbia


Parents in Cobb County, Ga., Clash Over Sticker in Textbooks

By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 11, 2005; A03

MARIETTA, Ga. -- The evolution controversy in this comfortable Atlanta suburb began with one boy's fascination with dinosaurs.

"He was really into 'Jurassic Park,' " his mother recalled. The trouble was, "we kept reading over and over that 'millions and millions of years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth,' " Marjorie Rogers continued. "And that's where I said, 'Hmm -- wait a second.' "

Like others who adhere to a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, Rogers, a lawyer, believes that Earth is several thousand years old, while most scientists, basing their estimates on the radioactive decay of rock samples, say the planet is billions of years old.

Rogers soon began a quest to challenge what she sees as educators' blind faith in evolution. It evoked a groundswell of support from other residents of this affluent suburb of high-tech office parks and shopping malls, and it pushed the county school board to put warning labels on biology textbooks saying that evolution "is a theory, not a fact."

The measure effectively made Cobb a battleground in the national debate on evolution because the textbook stickers, in turn, prompted a lawsuit in federal court from other parents who see the labels as an unwelcome intrusion of religious thought into public life.

But as both sides prepare to restate their arguments before a federal appeals court this week, many others in Cobb County are having a different reaction: Not again.

The fast-growing suburb of about 650,000 people northwest of Atlanta -- in many ways similar to Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia -- has long shown a remarkable flair for high-profile social controversy.

While other municipalities flirted with banning guns, leaders in Kennesaw, a city in northern Cobb, passed a law requiring heads of household to own a firearm and ammunition. In the '90s, county commissioners approved a resolution frowning on the "lifestyles advocated by the gay community" -- which caused protests and led organizers of the 1996 Summer Olympics to move an event out of the county. Cobb has been to federal court over a Ten Commandments display at the county courthouse and is being sued over the number of invocations at county commission meetings that mention Jesus.

While elsewhere these sorts of social controversies often play out as a clash between urban and rural cultures, what interests political scientists and other onlookers is that the debates in Cobb County pit suburbanites against suburbanites.

The protagonists in the stickers case are typical. Rogers is a BMW-driving graduate of the University of Georgia who plays tennis twice a week and says her life is wrapped around caring for her two sons. Jeffrey Selman, the lead plaintiff in the case to remove the stickers, is a tech worker who belonged to the same tennis group and lives with his wife and son in a Colonial-style subdivision that backs up to a lake. Both moved to Cobb County from elsewhere: Rogers is a self-described "Navy brat," and Selman is Bronx-born.

Neither had been involved in local politics before.

"Marjorie believes and follows blindly," Selman says over a meal at his favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant. "I question. It's part of my culture. . . . My mother says, 'You got too much principle.' I say, 'Whose fault is that?' "

While in many metropolitan areas inner urban neighborhoods are reliably more liberal and rural areas reliably more conservative, fast-growing suburban or exurban places, with their promise of large numbers of votes and unformed affiliations, have become a coveted demographic for politicians on both sides.

In the 2004 presidential election, 97 of the 100 fastest-growing counties voted for George W. Bush. On the other hand, slightly older suburbs, such as Fairfax County, voted Democratic for the first time since 1964.

Exactly what shapes the political character of a suburb is a matter of debate.

In Cobb, County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sam Olens said the controversies over social issues do not reflect typical values held there, but he said that for household logistics, the county "tilts conservative."

"A lot of us moved here because of the low taxes, low crime and great education," he said. "We're all sick and tired of paying too much in taxes."

Robert E. Lang, who studies growth and demographics at Virginia Tech, says that people generally select a place to live based on practical reasons -- proximity to work, prices, size and so on. But politically, there appears to be a little bit of "self-selection going on," he said. "People like to move to places where they know the people will think like they do."

Cobb is solidly Republican -- 62 percent of voters cast ballots for Bush in 2004 -- but there is enough political diversity to create strong and sometimes unexpected conflicts.

After the anti-gay resolution was passed, the board chairman's daughter held a news conference to say she is a lesbian -- and to denounce the measure. And the current county chairman, Olens, who is in the position of having to defend the commission prayers for invoking Jesus, is Jewish.

He defended the prayers by saying that leaders from all the local houses of worship are invited to offer the invocation.

"My preference would be a nonsectarian prayer," he said. "But it's not my place to tell a minister how he should lead us in prayer."

While Cobb County is home to Kennesaw State University, a major facility for Lockheed Martin Corp. and numerous high-tech businesses, a substantial number of residents appear to have profound doubts about the scientific establishment's embrace of evolution, which the National Academy of Sciences describes as "the central unifying concept of biology."

Wes McCoy, a teacher at North Cobb High School who has surveyed classes for a doctoral dissertation on teaching evolution, estimates that a third of students there are uncomfortable with the subject.

"I'm sure they're told by their parents, 'Go ahead and listen to the lessons, but you don't have to believe them,' " said McCoy, who holds workshops for teachers on how to present evolution. "Some teachers aren't comfortable with it themselves."

When Cobb County turned to selecting new biology textbooks in late 2001, that widespread unease developed into parent anger that spurred the school board to action.

Sparked by her son's interest in dinosaurs, Rogers read several books casting doubt on evolution science, including "Icons of Evolution" by Jonathan Wells and "Darwin on Trial" by Phillip E. Johnson. Once she saw the textbooks under consideration, she was appalled.

"Humans are fundamentally not exceptional because we came from the same evolutionary source as every other species," she read from one during an interview.

"That offends me," she said. "That has no business being in a science textbook. That's religion."

She points to another passage, in "Biology: Concepts & Connections," that she says is irreverent. The passage suggests that had human knees and spines been "designed" for our bipedal posture, rather than borrowed from four-legged ancestors, they probably would "be less subject to sprains, spasms and other common injuries."

Finding fault with the design of humans exasperates her.

"That's slamming God," she said.

Her disappointment with the texts led her to launch a petition drive among friends and church groups that netted 2,300 signatures. After a contentious meeting, the school board voted to affix the stickers to several textbooks, warning: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Board members described it as a way of accommodating the divergent views in the community -- to "safeguard" the feelings of the students -- while continuing to teach evolution.

But after hearing Selman's case, presented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper in January ordered the stickers removed.

An "informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion," he wrote. The sticker "sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders."

The school board has appealed, and arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit are scheduled for Thursday.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Parents insist their `Indigo children' can see the future


Posted on Mon, Dec. 05, 2005


The Orange County Register

LA HABRA, Calif. - It was a typical kids' birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Pizza, games and noise.

But when Carolyn Kaufman was getting her daughter, Ariel Carreno, ready to go, Ariel had an unusual request.

"Mom, we need to take an orange," Ariel said.

"Why?" Carolyn asked.

Carolyn explained that this was a pizza party, and that an orange would probably be out of place.

But when Ariel insisted, Carolyn grabbed an orange and took it to the party. For Carolyn's family, what seems odd isn't odd at all.

Kaufman believes Ariel can see the future.

So Ariel carried her orange into Chuck E. Cheese. The party went just as planned. The kids ate pizza. The kids played games. The parents endured the noise.

Then, the birthday girl asked for the strangest thing.

An orange.

It's moments like this that has Kaufman convinced. She's a mom - like so many other parents - who believes her children are different than other kids.

Carolyn Kaufman believes she is the mother of three "Indigo children."

Indigo advocates believe that many children born after 1975 possess an Indigo-color aura around them and unique almost supernatural traits. To the rest of the world, these kids may appear to be unruly and their parents may have gone overboard in the coddling of their children. Indigo kids bristle at authority and have little patience. Their advocates say they act like royalty and have no guilt. Simple acts, like waiting in lines, drive them crazy. Their parents are sure they can see the future and talk to angels.

In January, the documentary "The Indigo Evolution" will premiere around the world, coinciding with the World Indigo weekend beginning Jan. 27.

The phenomenon has spawned dozens of Web sites and two independent films.

"(Ariel) is very psychic," said Kaufman, who counsels parents on how to raise Indigo children, like her own: Ariel, Tomy Carreno, 4, and Rueshaun Ghaemie, 10.

Kaufman offered another example. One day, Ariel found out that a family friend had died. Without knowing the cause of death, Ariel speculated that the friend's blood was sick. As it turns out, the friend had died of complications from lupus and problems related to her blood.

Skeptics say some parents want so badly for their kids to be special that they may mischaracterize their children's behavior.

"You have to be careful about this stuff," says Dr. Robert Butterworth, a child psychologist in Los Angeles.

"Don't create some cosmic chip on their shoulders. It sounds very cute, but there could be other problems that these kids need help with, like hyperactivity.

"It's OK if you think your kids have special talents, but don't ... think your kid is the next Dali Lama of Orange County. That's gonna create problems."

Kaufman grew up among a hodgepodge of faiths and beliefs. Her mother was a nun who left the convent to marry her father, who is Jewish. She developed cancer at 23 and lupus a year later.

Traditional medicine didn't have an answer for her illness, she says.

"I started asking what is this (illness) all about?" she said. She read a book called "You Can Heal Your Life" and devoted her time to learning about positive energy and natural healing.

About eight years ago she learned about Indigo children after reading a book on the subject, while caring for Rueshaun, who was 2 at the time. She attended and worked at psychic fairs, co-owned an alternative healing center, eventually opening her parental counseling service for parents of Indigo children.

She charges anywhere from $15 for a meditation class to up to $400 for Rainbow Touch workshops that explore healing and energy among other things.

"I don't want people to see me as an airy fairy. I go to PTA, we go to movies."

Kaufman isn't alone in her beliefs.

Retired psychotherapist Doreen Virtue describes Indigos as "little Joan of Arcs."

"They are highly sensitive individuals," said the Laguna Beach, Calif., resident. "These kids have a temper, but the temper seems geared toward philosophical and existential issues. Everyone I interview says (Indigo children) are angry at the state of the world."

Virtue wrote "The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children" and is an associate producer of a movie about Indigo kids.

Indigo kids like Ariel and Tomy also have a lot of energy, said Kaufman.

After fights with his sister over what to watch on TV, Tomy has broken five VCRs in the family home using only his energy force, Kaufman said.

In some families, kids might get grounded for breaking expensive electronics. Not in Kaufman's house.

Energy like Tomy's can make teachers pull their hair out and parents throw up their hands, seeking perhaps, a medical alternative, Kaufman says.

That's where she comes in.

Kaufman teaches parents techniques like visualization or having kids blow air - all the bad negative things - into a balloon and release them into the air.

"They want to put labels on them - ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)," she says. "One day people will say ADHD is a big gift."

She understands some people find her claims dubious. She shirks it off.

"We are all intuitive. We all have energy," she says.

Intelligent Design opponents willing to debate


New spring seminar to explore reasoning behind opposition

By Marcos Rivera, Virginia Arrigucci and Emily Schaefer / Daily Staff Writers

As the debate continues over whether to present Intelligent Design into the classroom as a science, opponents say they are open to discussing the controversial topic next semester.

A new seminar, led by Hector Avalos, Jim Colbert and Michael Clough titled "The Nature of Science: 'Why the Overwhelming Consensus of Science is that Intelligent Design is not Good Science,'" will be held to explore why the majority of scientists are coming out in such strong opposition to introducing Intelligent Design as a science.

The seminar will explore the history of biological evolution and recent developments in Intelligent Design, and according to its course description, "address why biological evolution is considered to be better science and why Intelligent Design is not."

Intelligent Design suggests that life and its components are so inexplicably complex that it would be impossible for them to develop without supernatural influence.

The initial idea dates back to arguments made by Socrates and Plato, with the term first introduced more than 100 years ago, according to the Discovery Institute Web site, but the debate has recently resurfaced.

Earlier this semester, a petition written by Avalos, associate professor of religious studies, Colbert, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, and Clough, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, stating they and approximately 130 other faculty and staff oppose "all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor."

Similar statements were issued at the University of Northern Iowa and at the University of Iowa. A total of around 400 professors have signed the three petitions.

Meanwhile, he said, other professors nationwide have backed the movement, including the American Association of University Professors.

Avalos said to take the debate even further, he has invited Robert Hazen, the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University and a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Geophysical Laboratory, to speak at an open forum on Feb. 2.

One professor who has already brought the discussion into the classroom.

Tom Ingebritsen, associate professor of genetics has been teaching the "God and Science" seminar since 2000.

Ingebritsen said he thinks it is important for students to be aware of his personal Christian beliefs and is up front with them from the beginning.

He described his own Christian beliefs as conservative, and said he is intrigued by the tension between natural history and Genesis 1. He added that he is still "quite comfortable with there not having to be an explanation."

"The bottom line is that you cannot use science to prove or disprove the existence of God," he said.

Despite his personal views, he said he makes "every effort to be impartial," and welcomes critical evaluation from students.

The seminar's impartiality came under fire in 2003, when Ingebritsen brought his proposal for re-approval to the Honors curriculum committee, a process which occurs each time.

Ricardo Salvador, interim director for the agronomy department, said the textbook being used at the time was a "religious text that did not allow for differing interpretations."

Salvador said the issue was "resolved when the instructor agreed to change the textbook." The current text is "Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution."

William Gallus, associate professor in the department of geological and atmospheric sciences, said he feels the controversy could be avoided if teachers simply made clear what particular rules were used to define science and explained that only naturalistic explanations would be addressed, thereby excluding supernatural aspects.

"Although I personally believe it is wrong to prohibit mention of ID in the science classroom, I believe the most appropriate way to discuss it is while discussing the role of one's philosophy of science, since ID may not be testable in the ways that other scientific theories are," Gallus said.

John Anderson, assistant to the president, said President Gregory Geoffroy's position on the issue has always been that it should be debated in an open and civil discussion, as it is being done now.

"The president is fully supportive of the debate," Anderson said.

"We want to let the people and faculty involved decide on their own what role Intelligent Design will play in the curriculum."

Avalos said he is not in favor of completely dismissing the theory, but thinks it should be introduced in the philosophy or religious studies departments rather than as a science.

One person who will not be attending the discussion forums is Guillermo Gonzalez, author of "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery," assistant professor of physics and astronomy and main proponent of introducing Intelligent Design.

Gonzales argues the theory is not based on religion.

"I don't intend to participate in an kind of forum presented by the opposing side," Gonzalez said.

Silencing Science


by Guest Columnist December 12, 2005 02:50 PM EST

by Julia A. Seymour

Maybe Monty Python was right, that nobody expects a Spanish Inquisition, but that's exactly what scientists and scholars are getting if they become in any way associated with the highly controversial theory of intelligent design. The punishment for such heresy can be mockery, intimidation or academic death through firing or suspension.

Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomy professor at Iowa State University found this out after his book, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, was published. His book pointed out the uniqueness of the earth's location as a paradise for scientific exploration and how the fine-tuned laws of physics seem to line up logically with an intelligent agent. Gonzalez spoke about his experience Wednesday, December 7th at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. at a forum hosted by the Discovery Institute on the growing trend of mistreating scientists who become involved with intelligent design theory.

Many scientists lauded his work, including David Hughes of the Royal Astronomical Society, Harvard astrophysicist Owen Gingerich and others. But a number of people in the scientific and academic community branded him a heretic and began attacking Gonzalez, not to his face in open debate on the issues, but in vicious emails and in petitions seeking to have him rejected in his upcoming tenure review process. All because he examined the data and concluded that the universe appears to have been designed.

"What did I do (to deserve this)? I had never even taught the (intelligent design) argument in class," said Gonzales of the treatment he received by colleagues in his university and other Iowa schools.

Gonzales said that he was accused by a colleague of "plotting to establish a theocracy."

Bryan Leonard, a high school biology teacher in Ohio, is a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University. In 2004, Ohio implemented a teach-the-controversy approach to evolution in their public schools, and Leonard chose to make the effects of the program the topic for his dissertation. Just days before Leonard was to complete his oral exam, the last step to obtaining his doctorate, three professors "filed an ideologically-motivated complaint" against him and OSU released details of the complaint to the news media smearing Leonard's name before any investigation was completed.

According to the Discovery Institute there are many more examples of persecuted scientists and professors like Gonzales and Leonard. Dr. Nancy Bryson taught chemistry at a state university in Mississippi until she lost her job for lecturing a group of honors students about scientific criticisms of Darwinism. Roger DeHart was a high school teacher in Washington State who tried to supplement his science materials with information from mainstream science publications that pointed out flaws in Darwinian thought. He was removed from the position and an offer from a nearby school district was rescinded when they learned of the controversy.

Smithsonian scientist Dr. Richard Sternberg has his own story of persecution. Sternberg was the editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a scholarly journal. He received a submission by Stephen Meyer which argued that the Cambrian explosion is best explained by intelligent design, which he sent out for peer review, edited and published. Colleagues of Sternberg immediately began attacking him by circulating nasty emails, denying him access to the building and even his own office and creating a hostile work environment to force him out, according to the report by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Sternberg planned to speak on the panel at the Discovery Institute's forum, but a family member's illness prevented him from attending.

Jay W. Richards, Gonzales' co-author and former employee of Discovery Institute, who now works for the Acton Institute was the moderator of the discussion.

At the beginning of the talk, Richards took time to define intelligent design theory. "ID makes two claims. One, Activities of intelligent agents often leave evidence of their influence. Two, Evidence for design is present in the natural world. It does not rest on religion," Richards explained but he admitted that there are definite theological and philosophical implications.

Critics of intelligent design claim that the theory is not scientific, it is creationism in disguise, that there is no debate or controversy over the "facts of evolution."

One questioner pointed out that people claiming intelligent design is not scientific define science as only pursuing materialistic explanations, to which Richards agreed.

The Discovery Institute, a public policy center that defends teaching-the-controversy approaches and defends all students' and teachers' right to share their viewpoint, contends that intelligent design is not creationism. "Unlike biblically-based creationism, ID stands only on scientific evidence, observation and analysis." The institute also has a list of over 400 scientists who signed statements of "Dissent from Darwinism." These scientists come from dozens of different sciences and teach at schools like MIT, Rutgers, Ohio State and Princeton among others. Even though these 400 are almost certainly in the minority, there is clearly controversy over the "facts" of evolution.

Richards also expressed his shock over the many accounts of scientists' and professors' reputations being maligned and those being punished through suspension or firing because, in his view, the academic community is supposed to discuss controversial issues and foster thought and open debate.

When asked why so many in the scientific community are adamantly opposed to theories critical of Darwinism, Jay Richards said, "People have some personal motivations. If you are a hardcore materialist, Darwin provides a way to explain things that appear to be designed. The metaphysical weight Darwinism provides and people want to hold on to that."

"There are always philosophical and metaphysical implications and origin questions bring them up. I think we should admit them and engage in honest debate on the evidence," said Richards.

Gonzales wants to see the end of academic censorship and mistreatment of intelligent-design supporters. "If I am denied tenure because of my book, that is a form of censorship. If the university says it (Intelligent Design Theory) cannot be mentioned, that is censorship," said Gonzalez.

"We're just pleading for free discourse," said Richards, "science progresses through the free exchange of ideas."

Gonzales said he would not want to teach intelligent design unless his entire department decided it was acceptable, and he thinks students really want to understand the issue. "I've found that students are interested in the topic and don't know where to turn for information. I want us to come to terms and provide these students with both sides so they can make up their own minds," said Gonzales.

Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.

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