NTS LogoSkeptical News for 4 August 2007

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Evolution education update: August 3, 2007

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology denounces Answers in Genesis's creation "museum" for its scientific inaccuracy. Norma Gabler, who fought against evolution in Texas textbooks for years, is dead. And only a week remains in NCSE's logo contest!

PALEONTOLOGISTS DENOUNCE CREATION "MUSEUM"

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology expressed its concern about the misrepresentation of science in Answers in Genesis's creation "museum" in a press release issued on July 17, 2007. "The Creation Museum's fossil exhibitions, though artistically impressive, include a vast number of scientific errors, large and small," the SVP explained. "These errors range from implying that the Earth's sedimentary rocks were deposited by a single biblical Flood, to claiming that humans and dinosaurs lived alongside one another, to denouncing the reality of transitional fossils."

Kevin Padian, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and president of NCSE's board of directors, said, with reference to Answers in Genesis's president, "Ken Ham is not recognized as a scientist or educator among experts in the fields of geology and paleontology, and his views on the interpretation of Biblical texts are extremist. Visitors to his 'museum' may arrive knowing little about these sciences, but they will leave misled and intellectually deceived." Kristi Curry Rogers of the Science Museum of Minnesota added, "the Creation Museum is using the disguise of science museums and centers without including an iota of science inside."

Catherine Badgley, a professor at the University of Michigan and president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, further lamented the misinformation presented at AiG's museum, commenting, "according to the Creation Museum, the history of life is short, sin-ridden, and laden with moralizing imperatives. In contrast, the real fossil record shows that this long history is brimming with discoveries of new kinds of animals, plants, and environments, inviting people to use their unusual minds to question, to reason, and to wonder at life's remarkable variety."

Founded in 1940, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is the leading North American scientific and educational organization concerned with vertebrate paleontology. According to its position statement on evolution education, "Evolution is fundamental to the teaching of good biology and geology, and the vertebrate fossil record is an excellent set of examples of the patterns and processes of evolution through time. ... The record of vertebrate evolution is exciting, inspirational, instructive, and enjoyable, and it is our view that everyone should have the opportunity and the privilege to understand it as paleontologists do."

For the SVP's press release, visit:
http://www.vertpaleo.org/news/permalinks/2007/07/17/PRESS-RELEASE---SVP-on-the-Creation-Museum

For the SVP's statement on evolution education, visit:
http://www.vertpaleo.org/education/index.cfm

For NCSE's previous coverage of the creation "museum," visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=KY

NORMA GABLER DIES

Norma Gabler, the conservative textbook activist, died on July 22, 2007, at the age of 84, in Phoenix, Arizona. Born Norma Elizabeth Rhodes in Garrett, Texas, on June 16, 1923, she married Mel Gabler (1915-2004) in 1942. The couple was known for their critiques of textbooks used in Texas's public schools. They began to scrutinize textbooks for hints of "secular humanism" in 1961, after finding errors in one of their son's textbooks. The Gablers formally incorporated the nonprofit Educational Research Analysts in 1973, which presently describes itself as "an original contribution to the Christian conservative intellectual renaissance." Norma Gabler was the public face of ERA -- the obituary in The New York Times (August 1, 2007) noted, "Mrs. Gabler, always with a smile and careful, precise diction, usually testified at textbook hearings rather than her shyer husband, Mel" -- although the current president of ERA told the Times, "Mr. Gabler wore the pants in that family, and Mrs. Gabler wanted it that way."

Evolution, of course, was among ERA's targets. The Times obituary quoted a 1982 article in Creation/Evolution by Steven Schafersman describing the Gablers as "the most effective textbook censors in the country." In 1969, the Gablers convinced the Texas Board of Education to remove the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study textbooks from the list of textbooks approved by the state, and in 1974, the Texas Education Policy Act adopted their suggestion that biology texts prominently display a description of evolution as theory rather than fact. Thanks both to changes in the Texan political landscape and opposition from groups such as the Texas Council for Science Education, ERA's influence waned somewhat in the 1980s. Yet Norma Gabler herself was on hand during the latest round of biology textbook adoptions in 2003, and the organization is expected to be similarly active during the next round, presently not expected to begin until 2009 at the earliest.

For the obituary in The New York Times, visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/education/01gabler.html

For the Creation/Evolution article, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/8966_issue_10_volume_3_number_4__3_20_2003.asp#Censorship%20of%20Evolution%20in%20Texas

DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE NCSE LOGO CONTEST

Get cracking! Only a week remains to submit your entry in the NCSE logo contest.

NCSE's board of directors is considering a replacement or re-imagining of our logo. Currently, our logo is an abstract symbol (see the header on our website for an example). We are inviting our membership and other interested individuals to submit designs for a new logo for the board's consideration.

Perhaps the new logo will be a reworking of the original logo; perhaps it will be a brand-new image. It could contain NCSE's full name National Center for Science Education, our initials NCSE, our slogan Defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools, or some combination thereof. Preferably, a new logo would convey NCSE's mission to the world: supporting the teaching of evolution. On the other hand, nonrepresentational logos (such as that of the AAAS -- or Coca-Cola, for all of that) can be striking and memorable.

Be careful using motifs that are misleading, even if suggestive, about evolution and related areas of science. For example, the hackneyed image of marching hominids is scientifically misleading -- evolution is a branching process! Try to avoid images that are overused, like dinosaurs; skeletons in general evoke the image of death as much as or more than evolution, and are thus unsuitable.

If you would like to submit a logo design, e-mail your design to logo@ncseweb.org by August 10. You are welcome to submit more than one design.

Guidelines:

Don't use copyrighted or trademarked material in your logo! All material must be original.

Submit the logo in true vector art (EPS or Adobe Illustrator) for scaling purposes.

The logo should look good in both color and black-and-white.

All submissions become the property of NCSE. Submissions may be modified and altered to fit NCSE's needs at its sole discretion. NCSE reserves the right not to accept any submission.

Contest void where prohibited by law.

The lucky -- and obviously talented -- winner will get not only public recognition and our praise and gratitude, but also five gift subscriptions to Reports of the NCSE, or an extension of his or her subscription for five years. We'll even throw in a coveted NCSE "Creationism/Evolution Grand Canyon Raft Trip" t-shirt, normally available only to raft trip participants.

Let a thousand flowers bloom!

For the logo contest announcement on-line, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/ZZ/883_new_ncse_logo_contest_7_10_2007.asp

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

again in the body of an e-mail to majordomo@ncseweb2.org.

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

Sincerely,

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

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

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

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
http://www.ncseweb.org/membership.asp

European Darwinists Attempt to Criminalize Intelligent Design as a "Threat to Human Rights"

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/08/european_darwinists_attempt_to.html

A hallmark of tyranny is when leaders believe they are so correct that they have the right to criminalize dissent. The Council of Europe claims to be a leading "human rights" body in Europe, but last June its "Committee on Culture, Science and Education" issued a report ("Committee Report") proposing a ban on intelligent design (ID) in science classrooms, suggesting ID may pose a "threat to human rights." Uncommon Descent has covered this issue in detail, and ARN recently reported that the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an ID-friendly legal group affiliated with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), has written a Memo ("ECLJ Memo") exposing the Committee Report's hypocrisy.

The ECLJ Memo observes that the Council of Europe's own Parliamentary Assembly has stated, "History has proven that violations of academic freedom . . . have always resulted in intellectual relapse, and consequently in social and economic stagnation," and that the European Court of Human Rights has held that "pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness" are requirements for democratic society. The Council of Europe's "Committee on Culture, Science and Education" apparently eschews these values when it comes to ID. Indeed, the Committee Report treats Darwinian evolution like a religious dogma, where "doubt" must be prevented through thought-control: The Committee Report asserts "there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth" and thus ID must be "combated" because "[i]t is necessary to avoid doubt entering individuals minds" regarding evolution. The Council of Europe claims to "to protect human rights [and] pluralist democracy," yet the ECLJ Memo makes a powerful argument that it is the Committee Report that threatens the values of free society:

The Committee on Culture, Science and Education presented the working document, "Report on the Dangers of Creationism in Education" ("Report"), on 8 June 2007, including 19 articles of a Draft Resolution ("Resolution"). The aim of the Report is to forego scientific discussion between the theories of evolution and creationism, or intelligent design, to impede the educational formation of children by restricting classroom exploration of ideas, and effectively infringe on the rights of free exercise of expression, religion, and education. … Respect for pluralism and diversity are hallmarks of a democratic society. … The Report does not respect the freedom of expression of teachers, researchers, and students, as manifest in academic freedom, because it seeks to eradicate an alternative to the Darwinian model of the origin of life, thereby elevating the theory of evolution to scientific dogma.

(ECLJ, "Memorandum on Council of Europe Legislation, Draft Resolution Regarding Report on "The Dangers of Creationism in Education")

The ECLJ's memo is worth reading because it exposes the hypocrisy of the authors of the Committee Report and rightly concludes that "the [Council of Europe's] Parliamentary Assembly should reject the Resolution as incompatible with the goals and ideals of the Council of Europe." Thankfully, Reuters reported that the Council of Europe tabled a scheduled vote on the Committee Report. Perhaps there are still true guardians of human rights and opponents of tyranny within the Council of Europe.

Posted by Casey Luskin on August 1, 2007 12:14 AM | Permalink

Holistic health: finding the root of what ails you

http://www.couleenews.com/articles/2007/08/01/features/03holistic%20health.txt

By ADAM BISSEN | Staff writer

When Julie Diermeir's 8-year-old son Drew was diagnosed with asthma last year, she worried that its treatment would follow him for a lifetime.

He was prescribed a daily medication while still a second-grader at Eagle Bluff Elementary School in Onalaska. Doctors said he would need to carry an emergency inhaler for the rest of his life.

Although she compliments the treatment Drew receives at the Franciscan Skemp Medical Center, Julie decided to look at other options.

"There has to be some other way than just drugs," Julie said. "The traditional Western medicine (doesn't) subscribe to necessarily solving the problem. They subscribe to covering the problem, and I just didn't want my 8-year-old son to be on steroids."

So Julie turned to Dr. Bee Lo, a certified naturopathic medical doctor with a practice in Onalaska. As an adherent to holistic medicine — sometimes dubbed "natural" or "alternative" medicine — Lo says that he aims to cure the cause of an illness, not just treat its symptoms.

In Drew's case, this means eliminating the boy's allergies to pollen and dander and dust through a technique known as Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, a field of holistic medicine with roots in acupressure, applied kinesiology and traditional Chinese medicine.

Since beginning the treatments in January, Julie said she's noticed a change in her son's health. "His allergies are just gone," she said.

NAET is just one practice that falls under the umbrella term of holistic health. Others would include acupuncture, tai chi, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, Reiki, toning, aromatherapy and yoga.

Defined briefly, holistic medicine is a philosophy that views a person's physical, mental and spiritual health as interconnected and considers that relationship when promoting wellness.

Although holistic medicine has roots in Eastern culture, it has taken hold in the United States within the past three decades. The practice is most prevalent in urban areas and along the West and East coasts, but it has recently spread into the Coulee Region. Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp medical centers now offer holistic health treatments in addition to private practitioners.

In many ways holistic treatments cannot be tested in the same manner as evidence-based Western medicine, leading some health professionals — and many other Americans — to dismiss some alternative medical techniques as quackery.

According to Lo, this amounts to a "brainwash" campaign by the American Medical Association and other Western medical organizations that prioritize standardized medical practices, prescription drugs and lifelong treatments. Today most health insurance policies will cover hospital stays and medications but not holistic treatments.

"Natural medicine has always existed. It's just that we are small," said Lo, who runs the Natural Health Center in Onalaska. "We have our own followers. We see people that seek us. We don't advertise huge and try what the medical system is doing."

Dr. Nedira Haik, an integrative medical specialist with Franciscan Skemp's year-old Center for Health and Healing in Onalaska, might disagree with some of Lo's characterizations.

Western and Eastern medicine can work in tandem, Haik said. As a doctor of integrative medicine, she looks at a patient's "mind and spirit" when trying to treat health problems and may recommend nutritional, lifestyle or environmental changes in lieu of prescriptions. She can also schedule patients with Franciscan Skemp's staff acupuncturist or massage therapists or direct them to supplements that are sold in the clinic's pharmacy.

"I cannot say that (Western and holistic medicine are) fundamentally different, because a lot of what defines integrative medicine is a very similar definition for really good primary or general care where you're looking at the whole person," Haik said.

Prior to opening in September of 2006, Franciscan Skemp spent nearly a decade developing plans for the Center for Health and Healing. In the same timeframe, Western scientists were conducting experiments that seemed to prove the effectiveness of many holistic treatments. For example, many scientists now agree that localized pricks of an acupuncture needle will release specific chemicals like serotonin, dopamine or epinephrine that help heal the body.

Fusheng "Frank" Lan, an Onalaska resident, spent almost five years studying acupuncture while a medical student in China. There, Western medicine is taught and practiced hand-in-hand with traditional Chinese medicine — known as TCM, a field with a 4,000-year history.

TCM is based on the theory that the workings of the human body are interrelated and interact with the outside environment. Acupuncture, for example, works on the theory that energy, sometimes called "chi," flows through the human body and can be knocked out of balance by sickness. Through years of observation, pressure points were identified as having a direct correlation to other parts of the body.

The most unique aspect of TCM, Lan said, is how its treatment is personalized to the patient. A traditional doctor examines a patient's full body and considers all symptoms before developing a treatment aimed at curing the source of an illness or pain.

"There (are) some things, really, that this alternative medicine can do, and it can do it better than Western (medicine)," said Lan, who works as a cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., but runs an acupuncture and acupressure practice out of his home.

"Here people are more impatient. We want to get rid of (symptoms) immediately after taking the medicine but don't think a pain killer has some side effects, and probably you can get something else like damage to the kidney or liver."

For the past seven years, Herbal Healings has offered a variety of holistic health practices — aromatherapy, massage, body wraps, herbal teas and other natural treatments — from its store in downtown La Crosse.

Owner Victoria Potaracke said her business "is doing quite well" and has customers from all over the area who come to the store after growing tired of their doctors or prescription medicines. She said her customers range from stroke victims to cancer patients to students who need help concentrating on schoolwork. Most pay for their goods and services out-of-pocket since holistic treatments are rarely covered by insurance.

"With Western medicine it's either surgery or drugs or they can't help you at all," Potaracke said. "I wish there was more of an open flow between alternative health care and Western medicine (because) if there was more of an open door some doctors would be very open to it."

Although Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center does not have a department devoted exclusively to holistic health, some of its physicians practice mind/body healing techniques.

Dr. Gene Kolaczkowski, a psychotherapist with Gundersen Lutheran, uses a peripheral bio-feedback machine to get patients to control their own symptoms. Based on similar properties as a mood ring, the biofeedback machine measures a patient's fingertip temperature, muscle tension and breath rate to display measures of internal health on a computer screen. Kolaczkowski would then teach a patient breathing exercises and calming techniques to lower their own internal stress.

While he combines bio-feedback work with traditional Western medicine, Kolaczkowski said the mental exercises allow patients to control anxiety, headaches, digestive problems and other ailments. Ultimately, Kolaczkowski said he expects holistic treatments to be a common element in most Americans' health regimens.

"I think there's so much in the news about the amount of medicine that we take as a society, and parents of young children are especially concerned about that," Kolaczkowski said. "So if there's anything that might be beneficial other than taking a pill or taking medicine, I think a lot of parents are going to want to pursue that."

Fisher misleading readers on evolution

http://www.timberjay.com/current.php?article=3572

Saturday, August 04, 2001907 Volume 18, Issue 31

By Letter to the editor from Ed Borowiec- Angora, Minn.

Once again, John Fisher's response to a piece in The Timberjay about ferns manages to distort, misrepresent, and crassly manipulate what is known and generally accepted regarding the evolution of flora (as well as fauna). Fisher seriously distorts what the vast majority of biologists, zoologists, and botanists accept as the verifiability and validity of the fossil record. First, as Mr. Fisher and other creationists should well know, the fossil record is incomplete—and in fact, it may never be complete. As such, the fossil record is neither conclusive nor vital, in and of itself. Despite the extinction of many intermediate species, fossils reveal enough accurate information regarding nature's evolutionary processes, even without the benefit of molecular and morphological supporting data.

Second, according to Professor Richard Dawkins of the University of Oxford, one of the world's preeminent paleo-zoologists, "Fossils are a bonus. A welcome bonus, to be sure, but not an essential one. It is worth remembering this when creationists go on (as they tediously do) about 'gaps' in the fossil record. The fossil record could be one big gap and the evidence for evolution would be overwhelmingly strong. At the same time, if we had only fossils and no other evidence, the fact of evolution would again be overwhelmingly supported. As things stand, we are blessed with both."

The other evidentiary aspect Dawkins cites is the comparative study of modern organisms in terms of how their genetic sequences are distributed among species and how these species are distributed among continents and islands. With the use of molecular (DNA) evidence, scientists can now separate any species of a life form from any other species by using a technique called a "molecular clock." (Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale, p. 13 and p. 324.)

Third, to ascribe a gap in the fossil record as evidence of "special creation" is ludicrous. Special creation is essentially junk science, since it cannot produce and never has produced hard evidence for any assertion it makes. It merely states that if no other evidence can be found for the existence of this animal or that plant, then we must account for it through special creation. What sheer nonsense! No self-respecting scientist would ever arrive at such a conclusion based on no evidence whatsoever.

Notwithstanding his other misrepresentations and omissions, Mr. Fisher's chief transgression is his penchant for distorting quotations, relying on half-truths or untruths and his failure to check his material before submitting it for publication.

In the last paragraph of his letter, Mr. Fisher quoted the British botanist Edred John Henry Corner of the University of Cambridge in the following manner: " . . . to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favor of special creation." But Mr. Fisher, to his everlasting discredit, quoted only part of Professor Corner's sentence, and in doing so, distorted its essential message and meaning.

Here is the full quotation:

"The theory of evolution is not merely the theory of the origin of species, but the only explanation of the fact that organisms can be classified into this hierarchy of natural affinity. Much evidence can be adduced in favor of the theory of evolution—from biology, bio-geography and paleontology, but I still think that, to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favour of special creation. If, however, another explanation could be found for this hierarchy of classification, it would be the knell of the theory of evolution. Can you imagine how an orchid, a duckweed, and palm have come from the same ancestry, and have we evidence for this assumption? The evolutionist must be prepared with an answer, but I think that most would break down before an inquisition."

(Professor Corner continues in his next paragraph:)

"Textbooks hoodwink. A series of more and more complicated plants is introduced—the alga, the fungus, the bryophyte, and so on, and examples are added eclectically in support of one or another theory—and that is held to be a presentation of evolution. If the world of plants consisted only of these few textbook types of standard botany, the idea of evolution might never have dawned, and the backgrounds of these textbooks are the temperate countries which, at best, are poor places to study world vegetation. The point, of course, is that there are thousands and thousands of living plants, predominantly tropical, which have never entered general botany, yet they are the bricks with which the taxonomist has built his temple of evolution, and where else have we to worship?" E. J. H. Corner, from 'Evolution,' p. 97 in "Contemporary Botanical Thought, Anna M. Macleod and L.S. Cobley (editors), Oliver and Boyd, for the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, 1961.)

Where would we worship, indeed? Professor Corner, as we now see, argues very vociferously against special creation and for evolution. In the demanding world of science, there is nowhere else to go.

Finally, all of this information is readily available on the internet and in standard scientific textbooks and anthologies. If Mr. Fisher has no computer to check his facts and assertions, I would be more than happy to have him use my three-year old iMac G5 or my eight-year old Mac G4 powerbook—both of which have evolved over the decades from the simple but efficient Apple, the Apple II and IIe, and especially the early 80's Mac OS system.


Friday, August 03, 2007

A Mathematician's View of Evolution

http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/sewell/articles/mathint.html

Granville Sewell
Mathematics Dept.
University of Texas El Paso

The Mathematical Intelligencer 22, no. 4 (2000), pp5-7
Copyright held by Springer Verlag, NY, LLC

In 1996, Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe published a book entitled "Darwin's Black Box" [Free Press], whose central theme is that every living cell is loaded with features and biochemical processes which are "irreducibly complex"--that is, they require the existence of numerous complex components, each essential for function. Thus, these features and processes cannot be explained by gradual Darwinian improvements, because until all the components are in place, these assemblages are completely useless, and thus provide no selective advantage. Behe spends over 100 pages describing some of these irreducibly complex biochemical systems in detail, then summarizes the results of an exhaustive search of the biochemical literature for Darwinian explanations. He concludes that while biochemistry texts often pay lip-service to the idea that natural selection of random mutations can explain everything in the cell, such claims are pure "bluster", because "there is no publication in the scientific literature that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred."

When Dr. Behe was at the University of Texas El Paso in May of 1997 to give an invited talk, I told him that I thought he would find more support for his ideas in mathematics, physics and computer science departments than in his own field. I know a good many mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists who, like me, are appalled that Darwin's explanation for the development of life is so widely accepted in the life sciences. Few of them ever speak out or write on this issue, however--perhaps because they feel the question is simply out of their domain. However, I believe there are two central arguments against Darwinism, and both seem to be most readily appreciated by those in the more mathematical sciences.

The cornerstone of Darwinism is the idea that major (complex) improvements can be built up through many minor improvements; that the new organs and new systems of organs which gave rise to new orders, classes and phyla developed gradually, through many very minor improvements. We should first note that the fossil record does not support this idea, for example, Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson ["The History of Life," in Volume I of "Evolution after Darwin," University of Chicago Press, 1960] writes:

"It is a feature of the known fossil record that most taxa appear abruptly. They are not, as a rule, led up to by a sequence of almost imperceptibly changing forerunners such as Darwin believed should be usual in evolution...This phenomenon becomes more universal and more intense as the hierarchy of categories is ascended. Gaps among known species are sporadic and often small. Gaps among known orders, classes and phyla are systematic and almost always large. These peculiarities of the record pose one of the most important theoretical problems in the whole history of life: Is the sudden appearance of higher categories a phenomenon of evolution or of the record only, due to sampling bias and other inadequacies?"

An April, 1982, Life Magazine article (excerpted from Francis Hitching's book, "The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong") contains the following report:

"When you look for links between major groups of animals, they simply aren't there...'Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life', writes David M. Raup, a curator of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, 'what geologists of Darwin's time and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the fossil sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence, then abruptly disappear.' These are not negligible gaps. They are periods, in all the major evolutionary transitions, when immense physiological changes had to take place."

Even among biologists, the idea that new organs, and thus higher categories, could develop gradually through tiny improvements has often been challenged. How could the "survival of the fittest" guide the development of new organs through their initial useless stages, during which they obviously present no selective advantage? (This is often referred to as the "problem of novelties".) Or guide the development of entire new systems, such as nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems, which would require the simultaneous development of several new interdependent organs, none of which is useful, or provides any selective advantage, by itself? French biologist Jean Rostand, for example, wrote ["A Biologist's View," Wm. Heinemann Ltd. 1956]:

"It does not seem strictly impossible that mutations should have introduced into the animal kingdom the differences which exist between one species and the next...hence it is very tempting to lay also at their door the differences between classes, families and orders, and, in short, the whole of evolution. But it is obvious that such an extrapolation involves the gratuitous attribution to the mutations of the past of a magnitude and power of innovation much greater than is shown by those of today."

Behe's book is primarily a challenge to this cornerstone of Darwinism at the microscopic level. Although we may not be familiar with the complex biochemical systems discussed in this book, I believe mathematicians are well qualified to appreciate the general ideas involved. And although an analogy is only an analogy, perhaps the best way to understand Behe's argument is by comparing the development of the genetic code of life with the development of a computer program. Suppose an engineer attempts to design a structural analysis computer program, writing it in a machine language that is totally unknown to him. He simply types out random characters at his keyboard, and periodically runs tests on the program to recognize and select out chance improvements when they occur. The improvements are permanently incorporated into the program while the other changes are discarded. If our engineer continues this process of random changes and testing for a long enough time, could he eventually develop a sophisticated structural analysis program? (Of course, when intelligent humans decide what constitutes an "improvement", this is really artificial selection, so the analogy is far too generous.)

If a billion engineers were to type at the rate of one random character per second, there is virtually no chance that any one of them would, given the 4.5 billion year age of the Earth to work on it, accidentally duplicate a given 20-character improvement. Thus our engineer cannot count on making any major improvements through chance alone. But could he not perhaps make progress through the accumulation of very small improvements? The Darwinist would presumably say, yes, but to anyone who has had minimal programming experience this idea is equally implausible. Major improvements to a computer program often require the addition or modification of hundreds of interdependent lines, no one of which makes any sense, or results in any improvement, when added by itself. Even the smallest improvements usually require adding several new lines. It is conceivable that a programmer unable to look ahead more than 5 or 6 characters at a time might be able to make some very slight improvements to a computer program, but it is inconceivable that he could design anything sophisticated without the ability to plan far ahead and to guide his changes toward that plan.

If archeologists of some future society were to unearth the many versions of my PDE solver, PDE2D , which I have produced over the last 20 years, they would certainly note a steady increase in complexity over time, and they would see many obvious similarities between each new version and the previous one. In the beginning it was only able to solve a single linear, steady-state, 2D equation in a polygonal region. Since then, PDE2D has developed many new abilities: it now solves nonlinear problems, time-dependent and eigenvalue problems, systems of simultaneous equations, and it now handles general curved 2D regions. Over the years, many new types of graphical output capabilities have evolved, and in 1991 it developed an interactive preprocessor, and more recently PDE2D has adapted to 3D and 1D problems. An archeologist attempting to explain the evolution of this computer program in terms of many tiny improvements might be puzzled to find that each of these major advances (new classes or phyla??) appeared suddenly in new versions; for example, the ability to solve 3D problems first appeared in version 4.0. Less major improvements (new families or orders??) appeared suddenly in new subversions, for example, the ability to solve 3D problems with periodic boundary conditions first appeared in version 5.6. In fact, the record of PDE2D's development would be similar to the fossil record, with large gaps where major new features appeared, and smaller gaps where minor ones appeared. That is because the multitude of intermediate programs between versions or subversions which the archeologist might expect to find never existed, because-- for example--none of the changes I made for edition 4.0 made any sense, or provided PDE2D any advantage whatever in solving 3D problems (or anything else) until hundreds of lines had been added.

Whether at the microscopic or macroscopic level, major, complex, evolutionary advances, involving new features (as opposed to minor, quantitative changes such as an increase in the length of the giraffe's neck1, or the darkening of the wings of a moth, which clearly could occur gradually) also involve the addition of many interrelated and interdependent pieces. These complex advances, like those made to computer programs, are not always "irreducibly complex"--sometimes there are intermediate useful stages. But just as major improvements to a computer program cannot be made 5 or 6 characters at a time, certainly no major evolutionary advance is reducible to a chain of tiny improvements, each small enough to be bridged by a single random mutation.

The other point is very simple, but also seems to be appreciated only by more mathematically-oriented people. It is that to attribute the development of life on Earth to natural selection is to assign to it--and to it alone, of all known natural "forces"--the ability to violate the second law of thermodynamics and to cause order to arise from disorder. It is often argued that since the Earth is not a closed system--it receives energy from the Sun, for example-- the second law is not applicable in this case. It is true that order can increase locally, if the local increase is compensated by a decrease elsewhere, ie, an open system can be taken to a less probable state by importing order from outside. For example, we could transport a truckload of encyclopedias and computers to the moon, thereby increasing the order on the moon, without violating the second law. But the second law of thermodynamics--at least the underlying principle behind this law--simply says that natural forces do not cause extremely improbable things to happen2, and it is absurd to argue that because the Earth receives energy from the Sun, this principle was not violated here when the original rearrangement of atoms into encyclopedias and computers occurred.

The biologist studies the details of natural history, and when he looks at the similarities between two species of butterflies, he is understandably reluctant to attribute the small differences to the supernatural. But the mathematician or physicist is likely to take the broader view. I imagine visiting the Earth when it was young and returning now to find highways with automobiles on them, airports with jet airplanes, and tall buildings full of complicated equipment, such as televisions, telephones and computers. Then I imagine the construction of a gigantic computer model which starts with the initial conditions on Earth 4 billion years ago and tries to simulate the effects that the four known forces of physics (the gravitational, electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces) would have on every atom and every subatomic particle on our planet (perhaps using random number generators to model quantum uncertainties!). If we ran such a simulation out to the present day, would it predict that the basic forces of Nature would reorganize the basic particles of Nature into libraries full of encyclopedias, science texts and novels, nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers with supersonic jets parked on deck, and computers connected to laser printers, CRTs and keyboards? If we graphically displayed the positions of the atoms at the end of the simulation, would we find that cars and trucks had formed, or that supercomputers had arisen? Certainly we would not, and I do not believe that adding sunlight to the model would help much. Clearly something extremely improbable has happened here on our planet, with the origin and development of life, and especially with the development of human consciousness and creativity.

footnotes

1 Ironically, W.E.Loennig's article "The Evolution of the Long-necked Giraffe," has since convinced me that even this feature could not, and did not, arise gradually.

2 An unfortunate choice of words, for which I was severely chastised. I should have said, the underlying principle behind the second law is that natural forces do not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view. See "A Second Look at the Second Law," for a more thorough treatment of this point.

Granville Sewell completed his PhD at Purdue University. He has subsequently been employed by (in chronological order) Universidad Simon Bolivar (Caracas), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University, IMSL (Houston), The University of Texas Center for High Performance Computing (Austin), and the University of Texas El Paso; he spent Fall 1999 at Universidad Nacional de Tucuman in Argentina on a Fulbright grant. He has written three books on numerical analysis.

How Evolution Will be Taught Someday

http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/sewell/articles/future.html

Granville Sewell
Professor, Mathematics Dept.
University of Texas El Paso

A 1980 New York Times News Service article, reporting on a meeting at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History of "nearly all the leading evolutionists in paleontology, population genetics, taxonomy and related fields", begins:

Biology's understanding of how evolution works, which has long postulated a gradual process of Darwinian natural selection acting on genetic mutations, is undergoing its broadest and deepest revolution in nearly 50 years. At the heart of the revolution is something that might seem a paradox. Recent discoveries have only strengthened Darwin's epochal conclusion that all forms of life evolved from a common ancestor... At the same time, however, many studies suggest that the origin of species was not the way Darwin suggested... At issue during the Chicago meeting was macroevolution, a term that is itself a matter of debate but which generally refers to the evolution of major differences, such as those separating species or larger classifications... Darwin knew he was on shaky ground in extending natural selection to account for differences between major groups of organisms.

These excerpts summarize nicely the main issues, which are really quite simple, in today's dispute between evolution and Intelligent Design (ID). On the one hand, there are many things about the development of life on Earth which suggest natural (unintelligent) causes: the long periods involved, the similarities between species, the many evolutionary dead ends, and so on. On the other hand, Darwin's attempt to explain the origins of all the magnificent species in the living world in terms of the struggle for survival (easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science, in my opinion) is rapidly losing support in the scientific community, as the true dimensions of the complexity of life are revealed by scientific research, especially at the microscopic level. The majority still give lip-service to Darwinism, but only because all alternative natural explanations are even less plausible.

This "paradox", as the New York Times article calls it, has resulted in numerous attempts at compromise. Many people feel silly attributing the origin of each species directly to God, yet realize that to assume natural causes without any idea as to what those causes might be, and then to use this to argue that we no longer need God to explain our existence, is circular reasoning of the worst sort. Thus we hear people talking about "theistic evolution" and other things which are basically attempts to convey both the ideas of natural and intelligent causes--contradictory terms, but terms which reflect the underlying paradox.

I summarized the evidence against Darwinism in a 2000 Mathematical Intelligencer article "A Mathematician's View of Evolution," and in another article, "A Second Look ..." linked from that one, which includes the rest of the New York Times article. Some top-rate scientists now conclude that only intelligent causes can explain the incredible complexity of life. For example, biologist and genetic mutations expert Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig of the Max Planck Institute for Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, has written a very detailed, thoroughly researched, article "The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe" which shows that nearly everything about the popular Darwinian story of how the giraffe got its long neck (including the idea that it happened gradually) is either false or unsubstantiated, and concludes, in Part II:

...the scientific data that are available to date on the question of the origin of the giraffe make a gradual development through mutations and natural selection so extremely improbable that in any other area of life such improbability would force us to look for a feasible alternative. Yet biologists committed to a materialistic world view will simply not consider an alternative. For them, even the most stringent objections against the synthetic evolutionary theory are nothing but open problems that will be solved entirely within the boundaries of their theory. This is still true even when the trend is clearly running against them, that is, when the problems for the theory become greater and greater with new scientific data. This essential unfalsifiability, by the way, places today's evolutionary theory outside of science...

Dr. Loennig argues that Intelligent Design is the only possible explanation for the evolution of the modern-day giraffe from its short-necked, okapi-like ancestors. I am convinced that Dr. Loennig is exactly right, but he is ahead of his time. Will we ever see the the day when Intelligent Design is taught as a scientific explanation for the origin of species in high school and university biology classrooms? Will we ever hear biology teachers tell their students that one day a few million years ago a giraffe was born to okapi-like parents, the product of a mutation which was designed by an unseen intelligent being? Perhaps, but probably not in my lifetime.

A much more likely result of this paradox is that in the not-too-distant future, biology texts will refer to evolution as an amazing, mysterious "natural" process, which scientists do not now understand, but hope to understand some day. Natural selection may then be mentioned only as a historical footnote, as a very simplistic early attempt to explain the workings of this natural process.

But for most ID proponents, this will be a quite satisfactory outcome, certainly a huge improvement over the current sad state of affairs, where Darwin's natural selection is the only scientific theory around which enjoys widespread legal protection from scientific criticism in the classroom. The Discovery Institute, which actively promotes ID as a scientific theory, does not (contrary to common belief) support the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classrooms, they only hope that biology instructors will be allowed to "teach the scientific controversy" over Darwinism.

Perhaps after a few generations in which biology texts point optimistically toward future discoveries which may uncover the mechanism of evolution, eventually some will begin to recognize the obvious, that there is no possible explanation without design. Until then, I will be happy with texts which simply acknowledge that the idea that the survival of the fittest can turn bacteria into giraffes, and cause human consciousness to arise out of inanimate matter, is doubted by some scientists.

400-mln-year old fossil bridges gap between fin-to-limb evolution

http://www.dailyindia.com/show/162357.php/400-mln-year-old-fossil-bridges-gap-between-fin-to-limb-evolution

From our ANI Correspondent

Washington, Aug 2: Palaeontologists have found a 400 million-year-old coelacanth fossil fin, which they say, fills the shrinking evolutionary gap between fins and limbs.

University of Chicago scientists, who have described the finding in a paper in the July/August 2007 issue of Evolution and Development, say the fossil pattern is similar to the branching arrangement still embedded in the fins of paddlefishes, sturgeons and sharks.

"This ends intense debate about the primitive pattern for lobed fins, which involves the ancestry of all limbs, including our own," said author Michael Coates, Ph.D., associate professor of organismal biology and anatomy at Chicago.

"To understand the developmental evolution of the limbs of tetrapods [four-limbed vertebrates], we shouldn't be looking at the fins of our nearest living fish relatives-lungfishes and coelacanths-because they're far too specialized," he said.

"Part of the reason why this is an interesting discovery is that people think of coelacanths animals as archetypal living fossils. But it's a common misconception. If you look deep in the fossil record to the first members of that group, they are really different and very diverse," added Matt Friedman, evolutionary biology graduate student at Chicago and lead author of the paper.

Until now, many biologists have looked at lungfish as a primitive model of the evolution of tetrapods.

But, according to Friedman, both lungfish and coelacanth - the two living groups of close fish relatives of tetrapods - acquired many of the same specializations independently of one another.

"They give this perception that maybe those are general characters, but we can show with fossils like this one that they've actually developed specializations in tandem," Friedman said.

"With this fossil, we have a conservative pattern in a close relative of tetrapods that is actually conserved in other fish groups outside of this immediate group. Not only does this fossil bridge the gap between primitive ray-finned fish and limbed animals like Tiktaalik roseae, the new data forces scientists to reassess the characteristics of the coelacanths," he said.

Copyright Dailyindia.com/ANI

Princess no longer guaranteeing a date with the angels

http://people.monstersandcritics.com/royalwatch/features/article_1338033.php/Princess_no_longer_guaranteeing_a_date_with_the_angels

By Thomas Borchert Aug 2, 2007, 13:41 GMT

Oslo - Amid heavy criticism and allegations of fraud and unscrupulous business practices, Norwegian Princess Martha Louise has stopped promising her clients a personal encounter with angels.

Astarte Education, the alternative school launched by the princess, claims on its website that it teaches students how to 'get in touch with their own truths' through 'readings, healing, crystals and hands-on treatment.'

However, the Engleskole (Angel School) as it has popularly become known, has now withdrawn its 'warranty' for the supernatural encounter from its course programme for paying clients, Oslo media reported on Thursday.

The website now says that the daughter of King Harald V, 70, intends to 'try and establish contact with angels' with her clients.

Over the last couple of days, Martha Louise, 35, has been showered with criticism about her business practices.

She has charged 24,000 kronor (4,000 dollars) for weekend courses that claimed in their outline: 'During this course you will make contact with angels and learn how to perform heavenly miracles in your life.'

Her commercial self-promotion as reader of fairy tales and other employments as cultural envoy has so far been shrugged off by Norway's general public, who seem to take her with a pinch of salt.

But when the princess, who is married to writer Ari Behn, 34, began to promise supernatural encounters for cash, many were outraged.

'If the princess bags 24,000 kronor for teaching people to talk to angels, it's simply a sham,' the daily Finansavisen wrote in an editiorial which put Princess Martha Louise on a par with fortune tellers, quack doctors and other fraudsters.

Consumer watchdogs, meanwhile, were confident that court cases over failed 'direct contacts' to angels could be successful, while the Protestant State Church, headed by King Harald, said loud and clear that the princess, who obviously believed in angels and other occult creatures, should leave the Church.

So far, Martha Louise has not taken up the Church on its demand.

Instead the princess has taken two weeks' sick leave, while the court in Oslo has remained mum over her heavenly activities.

Due to her business activities, the princess has not been claiming her apanage as a member of the royal family for several years. But she is still holding on to her royal title.

Her sister-in-law Princess Mette-Marit, 33, however, has testified to Martha Louise's healing touch.

'There are many that have warm and good hands, but she almost has a little sun in hers,' Mette-Marit is quoted as saying in an official 2001 biography of Martha Louise by Erik Fosnes Hansen, the Dagbladet reported.

Martha Louise, her sister-in-law claims in the biography, had helped her overcome her fear of flying as well as urinary tract pains.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Alternative Medicine: Homeopathy and children

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/health/325966_altmed02.html

Does your child have allergies, eczema, ear aches, digestive issues, or problems with attention, sleep or eating? Homeopathy can be a safe and effective treatment for these conditions.

What is homeopathic medicine? It is a holistic medicine that recognizes that mental and emotional symptoms coexist with physical symptoms. It can effectively alleviate childhood anxieties, fears, tantrums, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder without side effects. Additionally, it can help children become more resistant to colds and flu.

How does it work? Homeopathy turns on the "self heal" switch. Chinese medicine calls it the "chi." Naturopathic medicine calls it the "vis." Homeopathy calls it the "vital force." They all describe the energy inhabiting the human body that when stimulated moves the human system toward greater health.

Homeopathic medicines are individually selected based on the unique symptoms and presentation of the child. They are derived from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms and are understood in the following way: A medicine that can cause symptoms in a healthy child can eliminate similar symptoms in a sick child.

Homeopathy addresses a body's inherited weakness. For example, the triad of allergies, asthma and eczema runs in families. Strengthening children's body constitution means they will be less likely to express these familial diseases later in life.

Why consider this? Children respond remarkably well to homeopathic treatment. Contact a licensed naturopathic physician or a professional homeopath for an appointment.

-- Nancy Mercer, N.D., naturopathic physician specializing in homeopathy and an adjunct faculty member, Bastyr University

Bastyr is a non-profit, private university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. The university's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, is the Northwest's largest natural medicine clinic. Go to bastyr.edu or bastyrcenter.org.

Deepak Chopra to speak on the soul of leadership

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/8/2/nation/18463093&sec=nation

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Deepak Chopra, one of the world's most inspiring speakers, is coming to town.

Renowned for linking Western and Indian ayurvedic medicine, Chopra will be here on Sept 18 to speak on a conference themed "The Soul of Leadership".

The event is based on an executive programme he presents at America's celebrated Kellogg School of Management, where Chopra had addressed various political and corporate leaders.

In his video clips, the famed medical doctor explained the need to go deeper into the root causes of poverty, ecological destruction, war and terrorism – by changing old habits of insecurity, greed, prejudice, racism and prejudice.

"We are moving from the industrial age, where the world was a physical machine, to the Information Age, a knowledge-based, and hopefully wisdom-based, society.

Time magazine heralds Chopra as one of the Top 100 icons of the century and credits him as the "poet-prophet of alternative medicine".

He has written 50 books including Ageless Body, Timeless Mind; Peace is the Way and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, and has lectured at Harvard's Medical School, and its Business and Divinity schools.

Trained as a Western physician and endocrinologist, he popularised modern medicine's link with ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine.

The conference, to be held at Palace of Golden Horses, is being organised by Malem, a Mauritius-based tertiary education provider and Venture Concepts and Management of Singapore.

Islamic creationist group launches glitzy, global blitz

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0803/p01s10-woeu.html

A household name in Turkey, the 'Foundation for Scientific Research' is now distributing its books – published in 59 languages including Chinese and Swahili – to 80 countries.

By Yigal Schleifer | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

On a recent afternoon inside Istanbul's busiest subway station, a young man beckoned commuters into a subterranean "fossil exhibit" full of skulls and insects dating back millions of years.

But this was no mainstream scientific display. One colorful poster advertised the "myth" of the evolution of the horse. Another, displaying a flying pterodactyl, denounced the evolution of birds as "fake."

The display is one of many traveling shows put on by the Foundation for Scientific Research, an Islamic creationist group that has become a household name in Turkey. Now, the groups says it is distributing its books – published in 59 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Swahili, and Polish – to 80 countries.

"Turkey is now the headquarters of creationism in the Islamic World. This is no longer only Turkey's problem, it is now the problem of the whole civilized world," says Haluk Ertan, a professor of molecular biology at Istanbul University. He's one of a handful of Turkish scientists who have been working to counter creationism's spread in the country.

Emboldened by its success at home over the past decade, the foundation, known by its Turkish acronym BAV (for Bilim Arastirma Vakfi), is now aggressively trying to export its unique brand of Islamic creationism well beyond the borders of Turkey to the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States.

In the past year, BAV has blanketed several European countries and the US with its glossy "Atlas of Creation," a lavish 768-page tome weighing more than 13 pounds, sending it to scientists, professors, journalists, and schoolteachers.

One member of the organization estimates that it distributed well over 20,000 copies of the "Atlas," which, like all of the group's books, is written under the name of Harun Yahya. Amazon.com hosts a virtual bookstore that sells "Atlas" ($99) and other Yahya books, and booksellers across Europe have it on their shelves.

"Every Islamic bookshop I know of stocks Harun Yahya's material. It is so glossily produced. It is very attractive and very colorful and outclasses everything else," says Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim British Council, speaking by phone from London.

"It is having an effect. Even among Muslim medical students there are a number now who are speaking out against Darwin."

In France, the Harun Yahya book offensive led the government to issue a warning for schools to be on the look out for the "Atlas" before it makes it into their classrooms. Meanwhile, the increasing European activity of the BAV, as well as of Christian creationist groups, recently prompted a committee of the Council of Europe – a 47-nation group that acts as a kind of continental watchdog – to issue a report strongly warning about its dangers to education.

"Today, creationists of all faiths are trying to get their ideas accepted in Europe. As a result, we have seen several initiatives from these various movements on the Eurasian continent in the last few years, with schools apparently the main target," the report, released in June, said.

Blames Darwinism for terrorism

In real life, Harun Yahya is a 51-year-old former interior-design student named Adnan Oktar. Since founding the BAV in 1990, Mr. Oktar has been responsible for ushering more than 250 books into print, though many observers agree he serves more as the chief overseer of a group of writers rather than as a solo author. The series includes titles such as "The Dark Spell of Darwinism" and "Why Darwinism is Incompatible with the Koran."

Oktar's brand of creationism is not only religious, but also political and even messianic, seeing most of the world's ills – terrorism and fascism among them – as stemming from Darwin's theory of evolution.

"Hitler, Mao, and Lenin were Darwinists. At the root of wild capitalism is also Darwinism. I think if we no longer believe in Darwinism, people will no longer be conditioned to believe in those things," the normally reclusive Oktar said during a recent press conference, held aboard a hired yacht cruising Istanbul's Bosphorus strait.

"Folks, there is no such thing as what you call evolution. If there was, it would be in the Holy Bible or the Koran," added Oktar, dressed in an ivory-white raw silk suit and wearing gold cufflinks and a matching gold belt buckle with Arabic inscriptions on them.

"The sweet dream of the Darwinists and the world is to ban my books," Oktar said, sipping glass after glass of sour cherry juice. "What I'm saying is true. They cannot disprove it."

Unlike fundamentalist Christian creationists, Oktar does not claim the earth was created only a few thousand years ago. Instead, he argues that fossils show that creatures from millions of years ago looked just like the creatures of today, thus disproving evolution.

Harmonizing modernity, Islam

While giving creationism a scientific veneer, "Scientifically speaking, the whole Harun Yahya corpus is a bunch of nonsense, but it is unfortunately very popular," says Taner Edis, a Turkish physicist who teaches at Truman State University in Missouri.

Professor Edis says the success of the Harun Yahya books, at least in the Islamic world, can be attributed to a need for harmonizing modern life with traditional Islamic beliefs.

"Something has to reconcile these two things and it becomes very attractive when someone comes out with a well-packaged message, that they can have both – be fully modern and at the same have science … affirm most of their very deeply held religious and ethical perceptions," says Edis, whose "An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam" was published by Prometheus Books this spring.

"That's a pretty attractive package and that's mostly what the Harun Yahya material provides," he says.

In Turkey, Oktar and his books certainly appear to be having an impact. When Science magazine conducted a survey of 34 countries last August, Turkey had the second-lowest acceptance rate of the theory of evolution (the United States had the lowest).

Creationist curriculum since '85

Creationism has actually been a part of the Turkish science curriculum since 1985, when it was added by government order, and many scientists now fear that it will soon be too hard to uproot.

"The general state of science education is very bad in the sense that evolution and creationism are taught together, and they can't be taught together. If they are, no scientific thinking can be established in these students," says Aykut Kence, a professor of biology at Ankara's Middle East Technical University.

"We are going to fall behind the modern countries in terms of development, economy, culture. Everything."

Business booming at controversial Creationism museum

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2007-08-02-Kentucky-creation-museum_N.htm

PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) — The controversy surrounding the opening of a northern Kentucky museum that teaches the biblical story of creation hasn't hurt it at the box office.

The Creation Museum hosted its 100,000th visitor by late July, less than two months after it opened, putting the museum on pace to easily exceed the 250,000 visitors organizers were hoping to get in the first year, The Enquirer reported.

Evolution is derided at museum, which is packed with high-tech exhibits designed by an acclaimed theme-park artist, animatronic dinosaurs and a huge wooden ark. In this Old Testament version of history, dinosaurs appeared on the same day God created other land animals.

The museum also contains fossils, hung in large glass cases in a room visitors spill into after taking a tour of Old Testament history. Museum officials said most fossils were created by the massive flood detailed in the book of Genesis.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Crystals on Meteorite Reveal Clues to Early Solar System Evolution

http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/532104/

A University of Toronto-led study has uncovered tiny zircon crystals in a meteorite originating from Vesta (a large asteroid between Mars and Jupiter) shedding light on the formation of planetesimals, small astronomical objects that form the basis of planets.

Newswise — A University of Toronto-led study has uncovered tiny zircon crystals in a meteorite originating from Vesta (a large asteroid between Mars and Jupiter) shedding light on the formation of planetesimals, small astronomical objects that form the basis of planets.

To date, studying zircons in eucrites – meteorites formed by volcanic activity – has been difficult due to impact- induced fracturing and their small size, typically less than five microns. Most eucrites are formed within the asteroid belt that orbits Mars and Jupiter, a heap of astronomical debris from the earliest epoch of the solar system. In a study published in the recent issue of Science, researchers collected samples from eucrites found in Antarctica believed to have originated from Vesta. The researchers used new technology to reveal that asteroid's boiling rock turned solid and crystallized within less than 10 million years of solar system formation.

"Until now we have not been able to determine this time frame unambiguously," says lead author Professor Gopalan Srinivasan of U of T's Department of Geology. "By pinpointing the timeframe we're able to add one more piece to the geological and historical map of our solar system."

Scientists believe that at some point Vesta was quickly heated and then melted into a metallic and silicate core, a similar process that happened on the Earth. The energy for this process was released from the radioactive decay that was present in abundance in the early solar system. What has been unclear is when this process occurred. Equipped with the ion microprobe at the Swedish National Museum, Srinivasan and colleagues from four institutions set to analyze the zircons in the eucrites, which formed when a radioactive element – hafnium-182 – was still alive. Radioactive hafnium-182 decays to another element – tungsten-182 – with a nearly 9 million year half-life span. By studying zircons for their 182 tungsten abundance, the researchers were able to determine the crystallization ages of eucrites occurred within that timeframe.

"Zircons on Earth and in space have basically the same characteristics," Srinivasan says. "They occur when boiling rock crystallizes and turns into solid form primary crystallization products or they could be secondary products caused by heating from impacts. We know Vesta became inactive within first 10 million years of solar system formation which is nearly 4.5 billion years ago. This provides a snapshot of the early solar system and clues to the early evolution of Earth's mantle and core."

© 2007 Newswise.

"Is Darwin Kosher?" Discovery Institute Hosts Orthodox Jew who says "No!"

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/07/discovery_institute_hosts_orth.html

A few months ago Nick Matzke of the NCSE was on a podcast giving the usual NCSE line that opposition to evolution is a fundamentally "Protestant" Christian phenomenon. Matzke stated, "I'm not sure if the evolution issue will go away until Biblical inerrancy declines in popularity," and he expressed his hope that, "maybe in a few hundred years people will get over it." Mr. Matzke should have attended a recent lecture, "Is Darwinism Kosher?," given at Discovery Institute by Jonathan Rosenblum, an Orthodox Jewish scholar and popular columnist of The Jerusalem Post. Mr. Rosenblum stated that he is comfortable with the literal meaning of Genesis being a "mystery" or an "analogy," yet he rejects Neo-Darwinism. Speaking at Discovery Institute to a crowd that included many Orthodox Jews, Rosenblum explained that in his view, the literal meaning of the Torah may be reinterpreted, but its moral lessons and the theological truths are constant. Rosenblum explained that Orthodox Judaism has no objections to the claim that life undergoes change. But he repeatedly asked, "What's the mechanism of that change?" According to Rosenblum, Neo-Darwinism, with its random mutations and lack of any goal, "cannot be reconciled" with the theological teachings of the Torah. Rosenblum was adamant that Orthodox Judaism in its reading of the Bible is not driven by a simple literal approach, but he maintained that Neo-Darwinian evolution stretches the theological truths of the Torah beyond their intended meaning.

Rosenblum clearly grasped the scientific issues. His article last year in the Jewish Observer challenged Darwin on the grounds of a lack of transitional fossils and the inability of natural selection to produce complex systems. Instead, Rosenblum, who himself is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Chicago, gave a lucid explanation of how Neo-Darwinism survives:

First step: Exclude all non-natural causes as a priori inadmissible. Second step: If Darwinian Evolution were true, it would explain observed taxonomic similarities between different living things. Third step: Since no alternative explanation exists to explain those phenomena, Darwinism must be true. … Fourth step: Since Darwinism is true, all explanations based on non-natural causes are vanquished. Note how that which was a priori excluded at the outset is now deemed to have been somehow disproved.

(Jonathan Rosenblum, "The Myth of Scientific Objectivity," Jewish Observer (May, 2006).)

Earlier this year, in the Jerusalem Post Rosenblum critiqued sociobiology, because he believes its implications are "not only silly but dangerous":

[Under sociobiology a] newborn baby has less claim to life than a contented house cat, according to Singer. And the scope of those whom this son of Auschwitz survivors would see subject to euthanasia is wide - not only Downs syndrome babies, but even those with hemophilia, if their death would result in the parents producing a more perfect baby.

(Jonathan Rosenblum, "Think Again: Sociobiology isn't science," Jerusalem Post (January 11, 2006).)

Like his writings, Rosenblum's lecture at Discovery Institute showed that there are influential thinkers in the Orthodox Jewish community that give thoughtful scientific and logical reasons to question Darwin. Indeed, during his lecture Rosenblum observed that from the time of Aristotle until the 20th century, the "consensus" among intellectuals was that the universe was eternal. We now know that the consensus was flat wrong. Who knows where Neo-Darwinism will be in another 2000 years.

Regardless, Rosenblum showed that the case against Darwinism is not based on Biblical literalism of any faith, but rather involves much common sense and thoughtful reflection. This being the case, it seems that Mr. Matzke and the NCSE will be dealing with public opposition to evolution for a long time.

Posted by Casey Luskin on July 31, 2007 1:27 PM | Permalink


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Philip Kitcher on Point of Inquiry

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/ZZ/424_philip_kitcher_on_point_of_inq_7_17_2007.asp

Philosopher Philip Kitcher appeared on the Center for Inquiry's podcast Point of Inquiry for July 13, 2007, discussing his latest book, Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith (Oxford University Press, 2006) with host D. J. Grothe. Discussing Living with Darwin in BioScience, NCSE's Glenn Branch wrote, "Kitcher discusses the evidence for, and the creationist resistance to, deep time, common ancestry, and natural selection, in vivid and fluent prose, and always with accuracy and insight. Recognizing the historical respectability and the current bankruptcy of intelligent design, he describes it as 'dead science' -- although, in light of its shambling tenacity, 'zombie science' is perhaps a preferable label. Kitcher concludes by offering a historically detailed and sociologically acute diagnosis of creationism as a reaction to what is understood -- and not unreasonably so, he suggests -- as the vanguard of the Enlightenment's critique of supernaturalist and providentialist forms of religion." A Supporter of NCSE, Kitcher is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. An eminent philosopher, he is the author of many books, including the classic critique of young-earth creationism, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism (MIT Press, 1982).

Broadcaster defends editing out evolution

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2007/07/broadcaster_defends_editing_ou.php

Monday 30 July 2007

Religious TV station EO on Monday defended its editing of wildlife documentaries to remove references to evolution.

Director Henk Hagoort told Trouw that editing was normal in bought-in programmes. 'That also happens in drama series if, for example, there is a lot of swearing'.

On Saturday it emerged that the BBC documentary Life of Mammals by David Attenborough had been edited, and one entire programme scrapped because of its focus on evolution. The EO is an evangelical broadcaster which takes the creation of the world in seven days as one of its standpoints.

'If people do not accept our position on creationism they do not have to watch,' Hagoort said.

Hagoort said the decision not to buy the one episode which focused on evolution had been discussed with the BBC.

Business booming at Creation Museum

http://www.mercurynews.com/travel/ci_6500252

The Associated Press

Article Launched: 07/30/2007 10:58:25 AM PDT

PETERSBURG, Ky.—The controversy surrounding the opening of a northern Kentucky museum that teaches the biblical story of creation hasn't hurt it at the box office.

The Creation Museum hosted its 100,000th visitor by late July, less than two months after it opened, putting the museum on pace to easily exceed the 250,000 visitors organizers were hoping to get in the first year, The Enquirer reported.

Evolution is derided at museum, which is packed with high-tech exhibits designed by an acclaimed theme-park artist, animatronic dinosaurs and a huge wooden ark. In this Old Testament version of history, dinosaurs appeared on the same day God created other land animals.

The museum also contains fossils, hung in large glass cases in a room visitors spill into after taking a tour of Old Testament history. Museum officials said most fossils were created by the massive flood detailed in the book of Genesis.

The History Of Acupuncture Is Extensive And Magnificent

http://www.bestsyndication.com/?q=073007_acupunture-pain-relief-accupunture-treatments.htm

Submitted by is_Staff on July 30, 2007 - 10:11am. Health

The ancient medicinal practice of acupuncture has only relatively recently experienced boom in popularity. Yet it is popularity in the Chinese world statues back as far as 5000 years.

In the ancient land of China its use has never dwindled not even over five millennia. Its exact roots however are curtained by the years of time and in many cases it is a story on the history.

Recent discoveries in the field of archaeology have thankfully opened the window of time to an extent and we now understand that both Korea and Japan practised acupuncture. From the very beginning, he influenced of the acupuncturists began to spread from it is humble birth into a global phenomena.

We are grateful today for ancient literature especially at literature that reveals something of the history of acupuncture. Much of this literature will describe the techniques of acupuncture. Different names are used in different languages but they all described the techniques with great similarities.

The earliest record of Acupuncture is the 4,700 year old Huang Di Nei Jing, or the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. This is also very likely to be the oldest medical course book in the world. Apparently, Shen Nung, the father of Chinese Medicine, may have transcribed it from even earlier theories. Shen Nung recognized theories about circulation, pulse, and the heart over 4,000 years earlier than European medicine even had any concept of them.

The history of acupuncture demonstrates that throughout time acupuncture has faced to wall of scepticism. Yet acupuncture has still growing in popularity and the techniques used in this art represents some of the most important and influential advances in medicine and medical techniques for many, many years.

Obviously, the history of acupuncture shows us that the skill and practice of this alternative medicine at greater acceptance in the Far East in such cases as China and Japan. These people were more convinced than of people in the West. It is only recent that was the techniques have become widely accepted in these United States of America and Europe. Today in these countries it is very easy to find some practitioner of other historical art of Chinese acupuncture.

The History Of Acupuncture extends into Modernity

Progress of modern medical science was partly to blame for the loss of faith in alternative medicine is generally. This also hit the progress of acupuncture in the West. Scepticism is hardly surprising when you consider what acupuncture is. Who would expect that the system of inserting sharp needles into the skin would bring about the healing of the body? It does seem strange! Yet today acupuncture stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most advanced, modern and scientific techniques in medicine.

If you need to find acupuncturists today it is just so simple. Just opened the local directory, finger through the business pages and take up the phone. Within minutes you'll be talking to somebody who may be able to offer you a real alternative to suffering and pain. Booking fee appointment is no problem and you could be on your way to real conflict and relief, even if modern medicine has failed you.

The history of acupuncture is the history of the success of tradition over scepticism.

By: Peter Wellington

Peter Wellington writes for www.acupunctureaid.com, a website providing a comprehensive archive of free information and guides on the ancient art of Chinese Acupuncture.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Top 10 Complementary Medical Treatments From Mayo Clinic

http://www.thebulletin.us/site/news.cfm?newsid=18599372&BRD=2737&PAG=461&dept_id=576361&rfi=6

By: Herb Denenberg, The Bulletin

07/18/2007

There are two great neglected areas in the treatment and prevention of disease: lifestyle changes and so-called complementary medicine. Lifestyle changes involve using diet, exercise, stress control and the like to treat and prevent disease. Unfortunately, too many doctors are too busy prescribing drugs and surgeries when lifestyle changes might be even more effective and safer.

The other neglected area is sometimes called alternative medicine, but now the preferred term is complementary medicine: treatments used in addition to conventional medicine such as acupuncture and spinal manipulation. It is intended to complement conventional medicine rather than being an alternative.

As most of the health care delivery system is on the medication/surgery merry-go-round, some doctors neglect or ignore altogether lifestyle treatment and complementary medicine. The neglect is so great that it is difficult to get good information, especially on complementary medicine.

One of the leaders in the use of complementary medicine is the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, universally considered to be at the top of medical rankings.

I've written about a book Mayo published on the subject and was delighted to find an article (Bottom Line Health, August 2007) in which the director of research at the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program of Mayo, Dr. Amit Sood, sets out the top complementary treatments and their supporting research.

Mayo uses four criteria in recommending complementary medicine treatments.

1. Safety. If the treatment is safe, it will sometimes be recommended even lacking ideal evidence of effectiveness on the theory that it won't hurt to try - it might help and it won't hurt.

2. Standardization. Dietary supplements is an area of virtually no regulation and no product standardization. You often can't be sure if you are getting what is on the label. To be on the safe side, Mayo recommends working with a knowledgeable doctor in using these supplements.

3. A need that conventional medicine can't meet. Consider the options when treating stress. You can use a long list of medications, many with serious side effects and some with hazardous ones. So it makes sense to consider options such as meditation, massage and yoga to escape the side effects of medicine. It should be noted that almost any treatment could pose danger in the hands of an unqualified practitioner.

4. Does it help patients and others as well? Mayo notes that treatments such as music therapy and meditation help not only patients but all the people with whom they interact. In my view, you could say that about all the therapies. If you improve a patient's health, then you're probably improving his relationships with everyone he has contact with.

Here are Mayo's top 10:

1. Acupuncture. Most people have probably seen acupuncture in action, with thin needles being inserted into what are thought to be "strategic, energy-balancing points of the body." Acupuncture is an ancient art practiced by the Chinese, one that now has a significant foothold in the U.S.

According to Mayo, "acupuncture can prevent and treat nausea and vomiting and help relieve many types of pain, including that from osteoarthritis, low back pain, neck pain, headaches and postsurgical pain." Patients are ordinarily given one or two treatments a week, up to a total of 12 treatments.

The most important evidence involved a German study of 3,000 patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis. It found that those receiving acupuncture had more pain relief than those who did not.

2. Guided imagery. Also called visualization, this treatment involves imagining a soothing environment, such as a beautiful warm beach or blue and sunny skies. According to Mayo, guided imagery "helps reduce anxiety in patients who become claustrophobic during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, who are having outpatient surgery without general anesthesia or who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, such as cancer."

A study at the University of Akron found that women receiving radiation therapy who listened to guided imagery tapes once a day were more comfortable and less anxious compared to those who did not.

3. Hypnosis. The patient can be put into a state of deep relaxation or focused attention by a hypnotherapist or an instructional audio (self-hypnosis). Then verbal suggestions are made to relieve anxiety, pain, tension headaches and insomnia.

The doctors at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City looked at 20 studies. In 80 percent of the cases, patients who were hypnotized had less pain, used less pain medication and recovered faster.

4. Massage. Massage of the skin, muscles and tendons with fingertips, hands and fists has been used to treat lower back pain and improve postsurgical healing.

Studies conducted at the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute found that massage can relieve back pain and strengthen the immune system in women treated for breast cancer. It does so by increasing levels of disease fighting cells.

5. Meditation. Meditation focuses on breathing and on a word such as "peace," "love" or "life." The word, repeated with each breath, is called the mantra. Mayo has used meditation to treat anxiety and high blood pressure and to help people quit smoking without medication.

An analysis of 20 studies found that meditation helped patients cope with epilepsy, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal symptoms, autoimmune disease and anxiety during cancer treatment.

6. Music therapy. This has become one of the most popular forms of complementary therapy. For some reason, this is the first time Mayo suggests you can use one of these therapies "on your own." I would think most could be used on your own, just as easily and just as obviously. Take guided imagery and meditation as two examples.

At Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, a study found that patients recovering from heart surgery who received music therapy experienced less anxiety and pain.

7. Spinal manipulation. This therapy is usually associated with chiropractors, but it is also practiced by osteopaths and physical therapists. Mayo writes, "Spinal manipulation is an accepted medical practice for low back pain, but the evidence supporting its use for other medical problems has been somewhat conflicting."

The UCLA School of Public Health did a study that found chiropractic care as effective as medical care, including painkilling drugs, in relieving discomfort.

8. Spirituality. This treatment is given a broad definition that includes prayer, faith in a higher being, deep appreciation of nature or art or even participation in a secular community.

In 16 studies of religious intervention (praying and attending religious services), researchers in Virginia found that "spirituality can decrease the length of hospital stays and fever in patients with severe infections ... increase immune function ... help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms ... reduce anxiety ... and improve outcomes in people with heart disease."

9. Tai chi. This is a gentle exercise that is derived from Chinese martial arts. It involves a series of postures and movements performed slowly and gracefully. It is recommended to improve balance in older people to prevent their falling.

A study conducted in the Netherlands found those who practiced tai chi had 50 percent fewer falls and fewer injury-causing falls than those who did not.

10. Yoga. This involves stretching and breathing exercises derived from India. It is said to help body and mind. It is especially effective for stress relief, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, anxiety and depression.

A study out of New Delhi, India, found that 98 people with heart disease and diabetes who practiced yoga breathing techniques and postures had significant improvement in total cholesterol and blood sugar.

I found it remarkable that not a single food or dietary supplement made the top ten list of Mayo. Perhaps they involve matters too mundane for the doctors, who have always had an allergy to recommending good diet, good nutrition and related therapy. For starters, Mayo might have included some of the spices and herbs useful in treating and preventing disease such as cinnamon (lowers blood sugar in type 2 diabetes) and fennel seed (relieves GI cramping). These healing herbs and spices will be the subject of a future column.

Herb Denenberg, a former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner and professor at the Wharton School, is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the National?Academy of Arts and Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at advocate@thebulletin.us.

©The Evening Bulletin 2007

Scientists study the evolution of walking

http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation/story/194099.html

Posted on Tue, Jul. 17, 2007 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON | Why did humans evolve to walk upright?

Perhaps because it's just plain easier.

Make that "energetically less costly," in science-speak, and you have the conclusion of researchers who are proposing a likely reason for our gait.

Bipedalism — walking on two feet — is a defining characteristic of being human, and scientists have debated for years how it came about.

In the latest attempt to find an explanation, researchers trained five chimpanzees to walk on a treadmill while wearing masks that allowed measurement of their oxygen consumption. The chimps were measured both while walking upright and while moving on their legs and knuckles.

That measurement of the energy needed to move around was compared with similar tests on humans, and the results were published in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Humans walking on two legs used only one-quarter of the energy that chimpanzees used while knuckle-walking on four limbs. And the chimps, on average, use as much energy using two legs as they did when they used all four limbs.

However, there was variability among chimpanzees in how much energy they used.

"That was pretty exciting, because when you talk about how evolution works, variation is the bottom line. Without variation, there is no evolution," said David Raichlen, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Sapient v. Geller

http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/sapient_v_geller/

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is fighting back against Uri Geller -- the "paranormalist" famous for seemingly bending spoons with his mind -- on behalf of a YouTube critic who was silenced by Geller's baseless copyright claims.

EFF's client, Brian Sapient, belongs to a group called the "Rational Response Squad," which is dedicated to debunking what it calls irrational beliefs. As part of their mission, Sapient and others post videos to YouTube that they say demonstrate this irrationality. One of the videos that Sapient uploaded came from a NOVA program called "Secrets of the Psychics," which challenges the performance techniques of Geller.

Despite the fact that only eight seconds of the over thirteen-minute video contain footage allegedly under copyright owned by Geller's corporation Explorogist Ltd. -- a classic fair use of the material for criticism purposes -- Geller filed a takedown demand with YouTube under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That violates the DMCA requirement that copyright holders only send takedown notices for infringing content. Because of Geller's unlawful DMCA notice, Sapient's YouTube account was suspended, and his videos were not available for over two weeks.

On May 8, 2007, EFF filed suit on behalf of Sapient, asking for damages due to Geller's violation of the DMCA, a declaratory judgment that the NOVA video does not infringe Geller's copyrights, and that Geller be restrained from bringing any further legal action against Sapient in connection to the clip.

As Sapient was challenging Geller's meritless claims, Explorologist filed a separate lawsuit against Sapient in Pennsylvania. The suit includes more bogus charges, with many of them based on the assertion that Explorologist has the copyright to eight seconds of the introductory footage in the NOVA video. On June 12, 2007, EFF filed a motion to dismiss this frivolous lawsuit.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Colloidal Silver Cold Medicine Can Turn You Blue

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/324202/colloidal_silver_cold_medicine_can.html

By JulieAnn
Published Jul 23, 2007

According to a report from the Harvard Health letter, the cold medicine you take may actually be turning you blue. Colloidal silver has been marketed "as a cold medicine, decongestant, all-around germ fighter, and a kind of cure-all." In the August issue of the news letter, it is reported that taking colloidal silver orally doesn't have any benefits. As a matter of fact, there could be serious side effects as well as some odd ones.

Cross referencing this subject with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) finds that colloidal silver has been used for centuries. Silver is still used today in many medicines for treating conditions such as burns or conjuctivitis. In recent years most medical remedies that once depended on silver now use other drugs.

NCCAM reports that colloidal silver is made by suspending tiny particles of silver in a liquid. There are other agents added to produce the products marketed.

The Harvard Health letter states that brain and nerve damage is rare when the patient is exposed to silver. It does list "kidney damage, stomach distress, and headaches" as a side effect of exposure to colloidal silver. NCCAM reports that over-exposure to silver in the body can even lead to seizures, fatigue and skin irritations.

The letter reports that the most prevelant problem reported with exposure to silver is argyria. This is a condition that occurs when silver has accumulated in the body. This build up will begin to turn the skin a bluish gray. The report states it like this, "Once silver is deposited, there's no way to get it out, so the discoloration may be permanent."

The Harvard Health letter reports that if used properly, for short time periods, the patient will most likely not turn blue. Yet the letter cites an incident about a 59 year old man who treated himself with colloidal silver at the onset of a cold. He was rushed to the hospital because it was thought that he was not getting enough oxygen due to the blue color of his skin.

As with any prescriptions or homeopathic medications, always use with doctor's approval. Never take more than the recommended dose of any medications.

Source:PR Newswire; Dietery Supplement Can Turn the Skin Permantently Blue

Scientists map elephant evolution

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6913934.stm

Scientists say they have calculated the date at which the African and the Asian elephant went their separate ways.

The two elephant species diverged from a common ancestor some 7.6 million years ago, experts working in the US, Germany and Switzerland say.

They came to their conclusion after comparing a genetic analysis of the two species with material derived from the extinct woolly mammoth and mastodon.

The African elephant is much bigger than its Asian counterpart.

It is known for its large, floppy ears, and both sexes have great ivory tusks - unlike the Asian species, in which typically only the males have large external tusks.

Tooth extract

The now extinct mastodon was very similar in appearance to the woolly mammoth - with lots of hair and big tusks.

Genetically, however, it was very different and is only a distant relative of the elephants.

Its genetic profile had not previously been mapped, but now thanks to the analysis of material extracted from a fossilised tooth found on the banks of an Alaskan river, scientists have the first genetic portrait of the creature.

By comparing the mastodon's genetic make-up with existing genome sequences for modern elephants and the woolly mammoth, they have built up a family tree for the elephants.

The tree has the African elephant diverging from both the Asian elephant and the mammoth about 7.6 million years ago.

Then, at 6.7 million years ago, the Asian elephant and the mammoth also go their separate ways.

Human comparison

"The cool thing about the mastodon is that we know pretty exactly from the fossil record when it diverged from the elephant and the mammoth," said Dr Michael Hofreiter of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and one of the lead researchers.

"So using that time point and the genetic data, we could date when the African elephant, Asian elephant and mammoth diverged from each other," Dr Hofreiter explained.

"That took place in Africa in the same place where humans, chimps and gorillas diverged."

The fact that it is now judged that the elephants went their separate ways in the same place and at about the same time we humans diverged from our ape brethren may of course be a coincidence.

Or, as Dr Hofreiter suggests, there may be a common environmental or climatic event which set both elephants and humans on their eventual evolutionary course.

Are Alternative Cancer Treatments A Scam?

http://pr-gb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3347&Itemid=33

Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Years ago, alternative cancer treatment options were never mentioned. We would only trust our doctors to help us with this serious disease. Now it seems to be a topic of conversation at every turn. Patients are seeking alternative cancer treatments at just about every stage of their disease, from initial diagnosis to late stage illness. How much do you know? Read this article and get educated.

Alternative cancer treatments are now becoming more popular as people realize it is a viable alternative to traditional medical treatments. A lot of cancer patients now take the time to investigate alternative medicines to supplement their traditional cancer treatments.

Sometimes, due to the spreading of the cancer, conventional cancer treatments may not be an option. Alternative treatments provide the last ray of hope to a recovery. For those in advanced stages of cancer it does not make sense to accept the fact that conventional treatments will no longer work, when alternative treatments are still available.

In fact, many cancer survivors who had no hope with conventional medicines, claim that their situations improved after using alternative medicines.

A point to dwell on: The problem with many doctors is that they tend to find what they consider to be the best treatment and use it on everyone.

Many alterative treatments operate in certain ways. Many are based on the belief that a strong and healthy body is less vulnerable to cancer and more able to fight off and kill cancer. They insist that problems in the immune system or imbalances in the body cause cancers to thrive. Some believe free radical damage in the body occurs because of poor lifestyle habits and bad diet choices. Stress also contributes to this imbalance.

Alternative medicine is usually HOLISTIC in approach. What Holistic means is that the entire body is treated, not just the affected area. Many treatments aim to treat the individual on a number of different levels, including physical, mental, spiritual and emotional.

Alternative medicine techniques try to reduce or eliminate the underlying problem that allowed the cancer to develop by activating the body's own inherent healing process so that the body can heal itself. Of all the Alternative medicine techniques used, Essiac is still the first choice alternative medicine for cancer care and it is still considered to be one of the best alternative medicine therapies.

How the alternative methods work is to strengthen the body and reduce the reaction to the side effects that occur for conventional treatments. Other approaches, because of their gentle noninvasive nature, may in some cases be preferred over more orthodox treatments.

Unfortunately, cancer is a condition many people suffer from in their lives. If you think that you may need to pursue an alternative cancer treatment, you can always research the effectiveness of the alternative treatments available to you.

Jim Wilson gives you more free information at Alternative Cancer Treatment In Austin Tx. Search other helpful articles at- Alternative Cancer Treatment In Austin Tx Articles. Click here http://www.alternativetreatmentcancer.com

Article Source: 1ArticleWorld.com

Bible, not evolution to stand time's test

http://ldnews.com/letters/ci_6468663

Editor:
Lebanon Daily News

We're currently into the third generation of institutional teaching of Darwinian evolution, and with the passing of time, this damaging deception is finding itself to be flimsy, incomplete, flawed and headed for bankruptcy.

Former skeptic and New York Times best-selling journalist/author, Lee Strobel, points out in his monumental work, "The Case for Faith," the compelling evidence for Intelligent Design. Strobel has interviewed dozens of the world's brilliant scientists and chronicles them with a high degree of stimulus.

One such scientist, Michael Behe of Lehigh University, states that a single cell in the human body contains more information than in all 30 volumes of the "Encyclopedia Brittannica." The possibility of linking a scant 100 amino acids by chance to create just one protein molecule is the equivalent of a blindfolded man locating one marked grain of sand in the vast Sahara desert, not once, but three times.

On the pragmatic side, godless evolution is undermining, particularly to young people. If there is no God, then morality does not exist. Without the Almighty, we're products of slime lost in a meaningless universe. Without God, there is no right or wrong imposed on our conscience. With no accountability, the seeds of evolution have sprouted into the contaminated fruit of hopelessness, suicide, crime, free sex, the decline of all moral values and ultimately spiritual death.

The Darwinian cult will run its course, but the Bible has and will stand the test of time. "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God shall stand forever," (Isaiah 40:3).

Homer Snavely

Cleona

9/11 SKEPTICS' LUNATIC FRINGE

http://www.nypost.com/seven/07162007/news/columnists/9_11_skeptics_lunatic_fringe_columnists_andrea_peyser.htm

TARGETS VICTIM'S WIDOW INSULT

July 16, 2007 -- THIS time, they've gone too far. A group of 9/11 conspiracy theorists - whackos who deny that jumbo jets brought down the World Trade Center - is on the attack. But their latest target isn't the government, which they claim destroyed the buildings with explosives.

They're using a vicious Internet assault to pick on an elderly widow.

"They're dirty sons of bastards! They are not real men," feisty Ellen Mariani, 69, told me. Ellen lost her husband aboard United 175 on Sept. 11, 2001.

"They have no respect for women, no respect for the dead and no respect for little children who now have been orphaned."

Ellen is the subject of a blistering battering on the Web site of an outfit that calls itself "9/11 Researchers." While conspiracy theories are nothing new - Rosie O'Donnell gave voice on "The View" to the belief the government was involved - these bozos blast fellow conspiracy groups for not going far enough.

On their Web site, Ellen's current, private home address is listed for every whack job to see. There also is "evidence" that her husband helped plan the attacks.

How could a retired, 58-year-old deliveryman help plan the destruction of the Twin Towers? The proof, presented as a kind of "gotcha!" smoking gun, is strikingly shallow.

Linked to the Web site is a copy of a deed transferring her husband's real property to Ellen. He took it out on July 26, 2001, 47 days before the trade center was destroyed.

As further "proof" that Louis Mariani - who went by his middle name, Neil - was involved, the Web site posts the lease transferring management rights of the World Trade Center to Larry Silverstein. The lease was taken out two days before Louis Mariani put his property in Ellen's name. Aha!

Confused? So am I.

The Web site is the work of a Rick Siegel, who hawks DVDs that purport to prove the trade center's destruction was an inside job. He is partners with Nico Haupt, who is known for sending blistering e-mail rants to trade-center survivors.

My attempts to reach both men were fruitless.

The odd thing is that the loonies are picking on Ellen. She has been outspoken in insisting that the government knows more about the attacks than it is admitting. But a source familiar with the groups says they tend to target people who fall short of their extreme anti-Semitic, anti-everything views.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Neil, Ellen's husband of 13 years, boarded United 175 from Boston, bound for the wedding of Ellen's daughter. Ellen was flying separately because she had booked her flight months before, and it was full.

She's refused to take a dime from the fund that compensates victims.

"Could you go to sleep at night, knowing you took money for your husband's death?" she asks.

"Try to eat alone. Try to watch programs you both liked on TV without feeling guilty. Try to go to sleep at night while you don't have your honey with you. This is the hell I go through every day.

"I don't need evil people attacking me."

It's gone far enough.

andrea.peyser@nypost.com

Reworking the Cambrian explosion

http://www.geotimes.org/june04/NN_Cambrianexpl.html

Trilobite diversification during the Cambrian is thought to exemplify the explosion of animals and plants 530 to 525 million years ago. New research suggests, however, that the trilobites diversified much earlier, thus calling into question the theory and possible dates of a biological big bang — and changing the way the world may have looked at the time.

New research suggests that the biological diversification called the Cambrian explosion may have occurred more slowly than previously thought. Trilobites seem to have diversified before the onset of the Cambrian, with the breakup of a supercontinent called Pannotia. Image courtesy of Joe Meert and Bruce Lieberman.

The so-called Cambrian explosion may have occurred 50 to 60 million years earlier than previously thought, and was likely more of a "slow burn" than an explosion, says Joe Meert, a geologist at the University of Florida. In the May issue of the Journal of the Geological Society of London, Meert and Bruce Lieberman report that the trilobites originated on one margin of a supercontinent and diversified most likely as a result of tectonic movement — the breakup of a supercontinent called Pannotia, which occurred much earlier than previously believed. "I hope our findings will stir things up — get more people interested in testing ideas about the nature of the Cambrian explosion," says Lieberman, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas.

"This paper implies that trilobites had a long cryptic record probably as small forms without a biomineralized skeleton," well before the early Cambrian and before the period from which hardened fossils have been found, says Derek Briggs, a geologist at Yale University. That evidence, he says, is consistent with some estimates for the origin of different animal groups. Even without direct fossil evidence, those studies have indicated that organisms may have begun to diversify in the Precambrian. However, the latest study is the first to argue that the breakup of Pannotia may have played a fundamental role in precipitating the Cambrian explosion, Lieberman says.

Scientists have developed at least three leading models of how and when Pannotia broke up, forming four new continents. Meert and Lieberman's research indicates that the continents most likely did not move exceedingly quickly, as one of the models suggests. Instead, the continents most likely moved at a slightly faster rate (4 to 6 inches per year) than they do today (2 to 3 inches per year).

"Our goal was to understand the paleogeography of the latest Neoproterozoic and early Cambrian time using the evolutionary history of trilobites," says Meert, who specializes in paleomagnetism. However, paleomagnetic data can be interpreted in different ways, he says, and trilobites "gave us an independent test for the paleogeographies" of this time period.

Although the researchers say they have eliminated one of the three models of Earth's continents and continental move in the late Precambrian and early Cambrian, they hope their research will lead to further testing of the other two models. "The solution to resolving the debate is, as ever," Briggs says, "more data."

Megan Sever

Rapid evolution in early trilobites fueled by high variation

http://www.geotimes.org/july07/article.html?id=WebExtra072707.html

Trilobites were even more ubiquitous on the Cambrian seafloor than they are now in museum gift shops. Their abundance in the fossil record — partly a function of their hard, easily preserved exoskeletons — bore witness to the Cambrian Explosion, Earth's most dramatic boom of multi-celled animal life, says paleobiologist Mark Webster of the University of Chicago. Now a new study is teasing another great story out of the ancient creatures.

Webster compiled morphological data for nearly 1,000 of the 17,000 different species of trilobites, a class of marine arthropods that died out by 250 million years ago, from 49 previously published sources. By tracking different morphological features — the number of body segments, for example — Webster found that trilobite species exhibited more variation during the Cambrian than in later periods, he reported in Science July 27. "Once you go beyond the Cambrian, the diversity of forms within any one species drops off," he says.

Early and Middle Cambrian trilobite species, especially, exhibited greater morphological variations than their descendants. This high within-species variation provided more raw material upon which natural selection could operate, Webster says, potentially accounting for the high rates of evolution in Cambrian trilobites. Such findings may have implications for our understanding of the nature of evolutionary processes, he says.

Why the early trilobites were so morphologically diverse is a whole different mystery. The variation could be caused primarily by genetics, or ecology, or both, according to Gene Hunt, a paleobiologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who wrote an accompanying comment in Science.

In the Early and Middle Cambrian, trilobites likely faced relatively low pressure to conform, as fewer species were fighting for resources, Webster says. "Organisms perhaps did not have to be as specialized to beat out competitors and avoid predators," he says. "They got away with being more variable, in the evolutionary sense." However, as the number and types of organisms on Earth rose with time, trilobites found that they couldn't make do with such variation any longer. "Strong evolutionary pressures resulted in the fine-tuning of trilobite morphology" by the late Cambrian through the Permian, Webster says.

Webster says that this study provides empirical support for a rather obscure hypothesis developed in the late 19th century known as "Rosa's Rule." The hypothesis postulated that the level of variation within species should decline through time, which might in turn lead to a decrease in evolutionary rate. As high within-species variation might have played a major role in the dramatic Cambrian diversification of trilobites, this leads to the possibility that the extent of within-species variation might be a general predictor of evolutionary diversification rates, he adds.

"I think it is valid to say that reduced levels of competition eventually lead to higher within-species variability," says Bruce Lieberman, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. "When competition is less severe," he says, "a much greater range of individuals within a species can survive because fewer are selected against." However, he says, it is a very different matter to invoke those same processes of competition, variation and evolution to explain patterns between different species, such as why one group might have produced more species over millions of years than another group. "Most evidence gathered suggests that greater variation within species does not lead to higher rates of speciation, but rather typically leads to lower rates of speciation, and I do not think this study … will tip that balance," Lieberman says.

That genetic variation is necessary for evolution is "uncontroversial," Hunt wrote, "but scientists have long wondered if abundant variation might play a more active role in facilitating or channeling evolutionary change." That is a question that cannot yet be answered.

This research does support the idea that the link between morphological variation and evolutionary change was especially strong in the Early Cambrian, Hunt said. Furthermore, he wrote, the study "implies that evolutionary processes in the distant past may have acted different, or in a different balance than in more recent periods of time."

Indeed, the study supports that within-species variation and evolution were rampant in the immediate aftermath of the Cambrian explosion, but not again to that extent, Lieberman says. "My suspicion is that there is something unique about the Cambrian period, probably related to greater flexibility in the developmental systems of organisms, as Stephen Jay Gould and others posited," he says. "For this reason, and given that this pattern of more variation is likely to largely be a Cambrian phenomenon, I think that it is unlikely that this result has much significance for evolution in general, and for dinosaur or human evolution in particular."

Still, Webster's study is the first to test this hypothesis on such a large scale, though it certainly will not be not the last. Further study is needed to determine whether the findings are unique to trilobites or this time interval, Webster says.

Ari Hartmann Geotimes contributing writer

Links:
"Reworking the Cambrian Explosion," Geotimes, June 2004

Healing Colors DVD…Can it be the Solution to Electromagnetic Pollution?

http://www.prlog.org/10025480-healing-colors-dvd-can-it-be-the-solution-to-electromagnetic-pollution.html

Alternative Two has devised a way to protect the human bio-field from electromagnetic pollution through its color therapy video – Healing Colors DVD.

Source: Alternative Two Inc. Jul 27, 2007

Lyndhurst, NJ July 27, 2007 – There is a new player on the alternative medicine playing field, and if customer reactions are any indication, Alternative Two will soon be a major contender. Alternative Two has devised a way to protect the human bio-field from electromagnetic pollution through its color therapy video – Healing Colors DVD.

If you're like the typical person living in modern society, there is not a time during your typical day when you are not exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Scientists estimate that your daily exposure to EMF radiation is 100 million times higher than it was in your grandparents' time. What consequence does this type of invisible presence have on your ability to function? Research shows that these fields have a significant disruptive effect on your natural energy levels. They magnify your body's "flight or fight" responses and significantly reduce your ability to cope effectively. Long-term exposure to EMF has been linked to heart disease, cancer, brain tumors and other diseases. What can you do? There's just no escaping exposure, oftentimes at dangerous levels, to EMF.

Alternative Two claims that by watching Healing Colors DVD you can protect yourself from the detrimental effects of EMF. Each Healing Colors DVD contains harmonic energy frequencies. When the disc is played, these frequencies transfer from the TV screen to the viewer through the air and become embedded in the person's bio-field. In the Healing Colors DVD, Alternative Two has combined the principals of energy medicine with the ancient healing art of color therapy. Color therapy is used to introduce these frequencies to the body through the chakras – its energy centers.

According to the DVD creator, Dwight Vega, Healing Colors strengthens the human bio-field and alleviates the discord in one's body by reducing the effects of EMF. Customers that have watched Healing Colors DVD claim they felt stronger, more energetic, more balanced and less stressed.

Boy Can Have Alternative Medicine Instead Of Chemotherapy, Quebec

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/78119.php

Article Date: 28 Jul 2007 - 0:00 PDT

The Child Protection Agency, Quebec, Canada, is not going to compel Anael L'Esperance-Nascimento, a 3-year-old boy, who has cancerous cells in the brain and spinal cord, to receive chemotherapy after his parents said they would prefer he had alternative medicine.

Anael was diagnosed in October, 2007. He had an operation, which his mother says probably saved his life. After initial chemo treatment at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario his parents have opted for an alternative treatment that includes raw vegetables. It is a diet based on one designed by the Hippocrates Health Institute, Florida, USA. The Institute says the diet promotes oxygenation of blood which is triggered by enzymes present in raw vegetables.

Arthur Schafer, University of Manitoba, told CTV's Canada AM that the province did not intervene because the child's condition is not currently life threatening. If medical experts had told the courts it was a medical emergency their response would have been different.

According to the boy's mother, his condition has improved since he started the alternative treatment. She stressed that she would seek chemotherapy again if her child's condition got worse.

Anael's parents were concerned that chemotherapy would cause years of negative side effects. In an interview with CBC News, Anael's mother, Marie-Élise L'Espérance, said that chemotherapy stays in the body for several years. She compared chemo to a nuclear bomb in the body, saying it damages many things, not just cancer. She added that medical experts could not guarantee that the chemo would succeed.

For the moment the parents are happy to allow doctors to monitor the boy's tumors.

Health professionals at the hospital say that chemotherapy is the best treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading. A spokesman for the hospital said they will not press health authorities to force the boy to receive chemotherapy treatment.

The Hippocrates Health Institute

According to the Institute's web site, Ann Wigmore founded a concept based on Hippocrates' "Let Food Be Our Medicine." Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas, M.S. created an institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The institute taught individuals how to retrieve the power in their inner resources to transform their quality of life. The ideas laid down at this institute in Boston are the foundations of what the Hippocrates Health Institute, West Palm Beach, Florida, is all about.

Wigmore was born in Lithuania and came to the USA as a child. Her mother was the village doctor. Wigmore observed how she treated World War I soldiers with herbs. During the 1950s she developed colon cancer and used her grandmother's techniques to cure herself. With the help of scientists, she developed effective therapies.

The Institute is run by Brian and Anna Maria Clement, Ph.D. L.N.C.

www.hippocratesinst.com

Written by: Christian Nordqvist Copyright: Medical News Today

Pope Benedict admits evidence for evolution

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22136550-2,00.html?from=mostpop

By Philip Pullella in Loranzago di Cadore, Italy

July 26, 2007 07:49am

POPE Benedict has said there is substantial scientific proof of the theory of evolution.

The Pope, speaking as he was concluding his holiday in northern Italy, also said the human race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence.

In a talk with 400 priests, the Pope spoke of the current debate raging in some countries, particularly the US and his native Germany, between creationism and evolution.

"They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other," the Pope said.

"This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favour of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such."

But he said evolution did not answer all the questions and could not exclude a role by God.

"Above all it does not answer the great philosophical question 'where does everything come from?'"

His comments appear to be an endorsement of the doctrine of intelligent design.

Climate change

Benedict is wrapping up a three-week private holiday in the majestic mountains of northern Italy where residents are alarmed by the prospect of climate change that can alter their way of life.

A full transcript of the two-hour event was issued yesterday.

"We all see that today man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his Earth," he said.

"We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us," said the Pope, who has been spending his time reading and walking in the scenic landscape bordering Austria.

World religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change.

The Pope, leader of some 1.1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, said: "We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive."

"This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment.

"Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive," he said.