NTS LogoSkeptical News for 17 October 2007

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Parents use religion to avoid vaccines By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press Writer

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071017/ap_on_re_us/vaccine_skeptics

Wed Oct 17, 6:19 PM ET

BOSTON - Sabrina Rahim doesn't practice any particular faith, but she had no problem signing a letter declaring that because of her deeply held religious beliefs, her 4-year-old son should be exempt from the vaccinations required to enter preschool.

She is among a small but growing number of parents around the country who are claiming religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children when the real reason may be skepticism of the shots or concern they can cause other illnesses. Some of these parents say they are being forced to lie because of the way the vaccination laws are written in their states.

"It's misleading," Rahim admitted, but she said she fears that earlier vaccinations may be to blame for her son's autism. "I find it very troubling, but for my son's safety, I feel this is the only option we have."

An Associated Press examination of states' vaccination records and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many states are seeing increases in the rate of religious exemptions claimed for kindergartners.

"Do I think that religious exemptions have become the default? Absolutely," said Dr. Paul Offit, head of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and one of the harshest critics of the anti-vaccine movement. He said the resistance to vaccines is "an irrational, fear-based decision."

The number of exemptions is extremely small in percentage terms and represents just a few thousand of the 3.7 million children entering kindergarten in 2005, the most recent figure available.

But public health officials say it takes only a few people to cause an outbreak that can put large numbers of lives at risk.

"When you choose not to get a vaccine, you're not just making a choice for yourself, you're making a choice for the person sitting next to you," said Dr. Lance Rodewald, director of the CDC's Immunization Services Division.

All states have some requirement that youngsters be immunized against such childhood diseases as measles, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Twenty-eight states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only. Twenty other states, among them California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio, also allow parents to cite personal or philosophical reasons. Mississippi and West Virginia allow exemptions for medical reasons only.

From 2003 to 2007, religious exemptions for kindergartners increased, in some cases doubled or tripled, in 20 of the 28 states that allow only medical or religious exemptions, the AP found. Religious exemptions decreased in three of these states — Nebraska, Wyoming, South Carolina — and were unchanged in five others.

The rate of exemption requests is also increasing.

For example, in Massachusetts, the rate of those seeking exemptions has more than doubled in the past decade — from 0.24 percent, or 210, in 1996 to 0.60 percent, or 474, in 2006.

In Florida, 1,249 children claimed religious exemptions in 2006, almost double the 661 who did so just four years earlier. That was an increase of 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the student population. Georgia, New Hampshire and Alabama saw their rates double in the past four years.

The numbers from the various states cannot be added up with accuracy. Some states used a sampling of students to gauge levels of vaccinations. Others surveyed all or nearly all students.

Fifteen of the 20 states that allow both religious and philosophical exemptions have seen increases in both, according to the AP's findings.

While some parents — Christian Scientists and certain fundamentalists, for example — have genuine religious objections to medicine, it is clear that others are simply distrustful of shots.

Some parents say they are not convinced vaccinations help. Others fear the vaccinations themselves may make their children sick and even cause autism.

Even though government-funded studies have found no link between vaccines and autism, loosely organized groups of parents and even popular cultural figures such as radio host Don Imus have voiced concerns. Most of the furor on Internet message boards and Web sites has been about a mercury-based preservative once used in vaccines that some believe contributes to neurological disorders.

Unvaccinated children can spread diseases to others who have not gotten their shots or those for whom vaccinations provided less-than-complete protection.

In 1991, a religious group in Philadelphia that chose not to immunize its children touched off an outbreak of measles that claimed at least eight lives and sickened more than 700 people, mostly children.

And in 2005, an Indiana girl who had not been immunized picked up the measles virus at an orphanage in Romania and unknowingly brought it back to a church group. Within a month, the number of people infected had grown to 31 in what health officials said was the nation's worst outbreak of the disease in a decade.

Rachel Magni, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother in Newton, Mass., said she is afraid vaccines could harm her children and "overwhelm their bodies." Even though she attends a Protestant church that allows vaccinations, Magni pursued a religious exemption so her 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, who have never been vaccinated, could attend preschool.

"I felt that the risk of the vaccine was worse than the risk of the actual disease," she said.

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, one of the leading vaccine skeptic groups, said she discourages parents from pursuing religious exemptions unless they are genuine. Instead, Fisher said, parents should work to change the laws in their states.

"We counsel that if you do not live in a state that has a philosophical exemption, you still have to obey the law," she said.

Even so, Fisher said, she empathizes with parents tempted to claim the religious exemption: "If a parent has a child who has had a deterioration after vaccination and the doctor says that's just a coincidence, you have to keep vaccinating this child, what is the parent left with?"

Offit said he knows of no state that enforces any penalty for parents who falsely claim a religious exemption.

"I think that wouldn't be worth it because that's just such an emotional issue for people. Our country was founded on the notion of religious freedom," he said.

In 2002, four Arkansas families challenged the state's policy allowing religious exemptions only if a parent could prove membership in a recognized religion prohibiting vaccination. The court struck down the policy and the state began allowing both religious and philosophical exemptions.

Religious and medical exemptions, which had been climbing, plummeted, while the number of philosophical exemptions spiked.

In the first year alone, more parents applied for philosophical exemptions than religious and medical exemptions combined. From 2001 to 2004, the total number of students seeking exemptions in Arkansas more than doubled, from 529 to 1,145.

Dr. Janet Levitan, a pediatrician in Brookline, Mass., said she counsels patients who worry that vaccines could harm their children to pursue a religious exemption if that is their only option.

"I tell them if you don't want to vaccinate for philosophical reasons and the state doesn't allow that, then say it's for religious reasons," she said. "It says you have to state that vaccination conflicts with your religious belief. It doesn't say you have to actually have that religious belief. So just state it."


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sweden to tighten faith schools rules

http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1405535

Oct 16, 2007 1:01 PM

The Swedish government said it would tighten rules governing independent faith schools to make sure religious views such as creationism were not taught in class.

Sweden's centre-right coalition government said in a statement it had agreed to clarify regulations to remove any leeway for religious views to influence the curriculum.

"This is naturally brought about by the fact that different viewpoints are being discussed, for instance about the creation of the world - one based on science and one on religious views," Education Minister Jan Bjorklund told a news conference.

"Teaching in school must have a scientific basis."

The Council of Europe this month voted to urge European schools to strongly oppose teaching creationism and intelligent design in science classes, saying attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted in religious extremism.

Creationism argues God made the world in six days as set out in the Bible while proponents of intelligent design say some life forms are too complex to have evolved without the aid of a higher intelligence.

While most schools in Sweden are run by municipalities, a minority are run by various religious groups.

Bjorklund said the government, of which the Christian Democrats are a junior member, would restructure supervision of Sweden's schools and double funding for inspections to about 300 million Swedish crowns (NZ$61.1 million).

It would also propose to parliament that it enable authorities to swiftly issue fines or, in especially serious cases, close schools that failed to adhere to the new rules.

Williams questions Dawkins' critical thinking about religion

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5925

By staff writers 16 Oct 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has said that Richard Dawkins and other apostles of anti-religious sentiment are oversimplifying complex issues and often missing the point. His comments came in a weekend lecture on 'misunderstanding religion' at the University of Swansea.

Dr Williams, who comes from the city and is himself a former Archbishop of Wales, was in part examining the claims of prominent and outspoken atheists like Professor Dawkins, author of recent best-seller The God Delusion and journalist Christopher Hitchens, who has written God Is Not Great.

Though some media, religious and secularist outlets have described the archbishop's comments as "hitting out", "an assault" and "a fierce attack" on Dawkins, an observer told Ekklesia that "his remarks were actually delivered in a friendly and humorous way – though with his usual incisive logic and courteous intelligence."

Dr Williams stressed that his intention was not to defend religion but to uphold the principles of serious intellectual discussion. The archbishop said that proper thought about religion, as in any field of enquiry, was marked by self-criticism.

When asked by a member of the audience "whose fault is Dawkins?", Dr Williams replied that religious believers themselves were partly to blame, adding that in the past the understanding of God had often been reduced "to the kind of target Dawkins and others too easily fire at".

The lecture, entitled 'How To Misunderstand Religion', opened a series of theological addresses at Swansea organised by the university chaplain, the Rev Nigel John. It was Dr Williams' first visit there since he became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Williams said that while Richard Dawkins was undoubtedly a "lively and attractive writer" his actual arguments in The God Delusion failed to engage with where a lot of religious people actually were and with the deepest intellectual accounts of the relationship between faith and reason.

He added that many Christians would not recognise their religion as it was described by some critics. "When believers pick up Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, we may feel as we turn the pages: 'This is not it. Whatever the religion being attacked here, it's not actually what I believe in'."

He rejected Professor Dawkins's claim that cultural ideas are conveyed in a similar way to genetic transmission through "memes", confessing: "I find this philosophically crass and undeveloped at best, simply contradictory and empty at worst."

Dr Williams said that to see religion as nothing more than an evolutionary survival strategy was mistakenly to impose arguments about biological formation into another sphere.

"Our culture is one that deeply praises science, so we assume because someone is a good scientist, they must be a good philosopher," he commented, adding wryly that in the case of Dawkins "my inner jury is out on that."

Professor Dawkins has also been strongly criticised by scholars who are sceptics or non-believers themsleves, including literary theorist Professor Terry Eagleton, and philosopher of science Professor Michael Ruse.

Dawkins and his fellow protagonists met recently in a conference organised by Atheist Alliance International, demanding that religion must be "destroyed" by science, claiming that any form of religious belief was irrational, and suggesting that moderate or liberal religion was only a watered down version of extremism.

Last year Professor Ruse, who has been active in seeking to combat the growth of fundamentalist-backed creationism in schools, said that Dawkins and his allies were "a disaster" for the struggle against ID and creationism and sometimes made him "embarrassed to be an atheist".

In a February 2006 letter to Professor Daniel C. Dennett, Ruse declared: "[N]either of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas… it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims…"

Professor Dawkins has defended his lack of theological understanding by asserting that there is nothing worth considering in theology.

Speaking before the Swansea lecture, a Lambeth Palace spokesperson said: "Religion is in the news a lot these days and plenty of people are making quite a business of attacking it. But do they understand what religion really is? The Archbishop is looking at some of the most common mistakes made by contemporary critics."

See also - Why Christians should take Richard Dawkins Seriously (Richard Skinner); Oxford theology professor punctures Dawkins' blind certainty; Dawkins anti-religion school crusade is met with scepticism; Less heat and more light needed on religion and extremism; We need a more intelligent religion debate (Theo Hobson); Secularist leader accuses religious liberals of aiding fanatics; and from Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow: Resisting the polarising mindset, Why we need to rid ourselves of the 'god of the slots', Three ways to make sense of one God ; and two Ekklesia reports: Facing up to fundamentalism and What difference does God make today?


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Evolution education update: October 12, 2007

"Creationism battles for the hearts and minds of America's teachers," says Liza Lentini, writing in Discover magazine, while Paul R. Gross, writing in The New Criterion, is anything but impressed with "intelligent design" proponent Michael Behe's latest book. And the hilarious documentary Flock of Dodos is now available on home DVD.

CREATIONISM/EVOLUTION IN DISCOVER

In the October 2007 issue of Discover magazine, Liza Lentini examines the creationism/evolution controversy, with a focus on teachers. She begins in Kansas, with a pair of teachers at private Christian schools who use textbooks that "present the universe as the direct creation of God and refute the man-made idea of evolution" and think that "The term 'evolution' is misused. ... Conservative scientists don't use that word." A third teacher, Karen Heins, teaches in the Kansas public schools, where she faced frequent attempts to compromise the integrity of science education: "At her last teaching job, 'at a real small town,' a particularly influential minister was encouraging teachers to 'spread the Word' among their young ones in any way they could. Karen was teaching science then and found the atmosphere to be too insufferable to describe."

Reviewing the controversy over evolution in the Kansas state science standards and the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover, Lentini suggests, "The crux of the issue lies in the distinction between intelligent design and creationism, and whether or not there's a difference between the two," and quotes NCSE deputy director Glenn Branch's explanation of the strategic vagueness of the latest incarnation of creationism: "First, by not taking a stand on issues that divide creationists, the intelligent design movement hopes to maintain a big tent under which creationists of all stripes are welcome to shelter. Second, by not identifying the designer as God, the intelligent design movement sought to immunize the position from constitutional scrutiny: The idea was to purge creationism of its overt religiosity, so that intelligent design could succeed where creation science failed."

Later in the article, theology professor William Dinges of the Catholic University of America offers his characterization of "intelligent design" as "a backdoor antievolution initiative, an attempt to turn science on itself and, paradoxically, reject its hegemonic influence. It's an affirmation of the efficacy of biblical literalism, an attempt to make Genesis scientifically respectable, the latest twist in the (pseudo)saga of 'science vs. religion.'" Noting that young-earth creationist organizations like the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis frequently promote "intelligent design" material, NCSE's Glenn Branch commented, "their thinking, presumably, was that getting intelligent design in the public schools would at least accomplish a lot of what they wanted, if not all."

Exemplifying the big tent strategy was a pair of teachers in Gull Lake, Michigan, who were using Of Pandas and People and other creationist material in their science classes; when their school board instructed them to desist (Kalamazoo Gazette, June 14, 2005), the Thomas More Law Center, which represented the unsuccessful defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover, threatened to sue, although no suit was ever filed. Richard Ramsey, the superintendent of the Gull Lake school district, told Lentini, "we haven't thought about ["intelligent design"] in a while ... not a topic we'd like to revisit, to tell you the truth." She reports, "As a result of the controversy, Ramsey's team conducted a statewide survey of Michigan public schools' science programs and found not one that thought ["intelligent design"] was beneficial in a science class."

Back in Kansas, Harry McDonald (a past president of Kansas Citizens for Science, a grassroots organization that defends the teaching of evolution in the state) diagnoses the current assault on evolution education as symptomatic of a larger problem: "Information is considered 'valid' only if it agrees with our preconceived notion of reality. Science is considered a tool to help convince people to adopt a certain political opinion. If the scientific consensus disagrees with that opinion, political appointees rewrite the reports, and dissenters are left off of science advisory boards." For the creationists, too, there's a larger problem in the background: Lentini's article ends in a flurry of quotations illustrating that their objections to evolution are at bottom not to the science but to its supposed consequences for faith and morals.

For Liza Lentini's story in Discover, visit:
http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/one-universe-under

For the website of Kansas Citizens for Science, visit:
http://www.kcfs.org/

GROSS DRUBS BEHE IN THE NEW CRITERION

Reviewing Michael Behe's latest book, The Edge of Evolution (Free Press, 2007), in the October 2007 issue of The New Criterion, the biologist Paul R. Gross is anything but impressed. After observing that Behe's argument from irreducible complexity in Darwin's Black Box (Free Press, 1996) was quickly recognized to fail, he comments, "In response, Behe and the ["intelligent design"] movement shifted ground, first redefining I.C. in an effort to meet the flood of negation, finally (in effect) by scanting it in favor of more general claims. The Edge of Evolution is Behe's heroic effort to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat." Gross adds, "The clear goal is to justify his original claim that the purposeful complexity of life cannot be a product of 'random mutation,' that there must be intelligent design, and (en passant) that I.D. is the great scientific discovery of our age."

Noting that Behe's arguments have already taken a pounding (in review after review after review), Gross identifies two kinds of scientific flaws: "errors of the model itself and in the associated calculations, and ... ignoring important conflicting material in the primary literature." He gives three examples: Behe's misunderstanding of a report on the frequency of spontaneous resistence to a drug in the malaria parasite; his unwarranted assumption that mutations in the relevant gene would have to be simultaneous; and his neglect of the experimental and theoretical literature on protein evolution -- "the book's grand argument ignores the known, frequent appearance, by Darwinian pathways, of protein-protein interactions in small populations. There is a vast experimental and theoretical literature on protein evolution."

Paul R. Gross is University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, at the University of Virginia, and holds honorary degrees from the Medical College of Ohio and Brown University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With Norman Levitt, he authored Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); with Nick Matzke, he wrote "Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy" for Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools; and with Barbara Forrest, he authored Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press, 2004; reissued in paperback with a new chapter on Kitzmiller v. Dover, 2007).

For Gross's review in The New Criterion (PDF), visit:
http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/Gross_Behe_Review_10.2007.pdf

For NCSE's previous coverage of reviews of Behe's book, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/US/291_behe39s_latest_scrutinized_6_12_2007.asp
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/US/686_miller_drubs_behe_in_emnatur_6_27_2007.asp
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/US/687_dawkins_reviews_behe_in_emth_7_2_2007.asp

FLOCK OF DODOS NOW ON HOME DVD

Randy Olson's Flock of Dodos, the hilarious documentary that examines both sides of the controversy over the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools, is now available on home DVD. In addition to the film itself, which as Variety quipped is "intelligently designed for popular appeal," the DVD contains eighty-four minutes of extra features, including:

* Experts on the creationism/evolution controversy, including NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott and NCSE Supporters Sean B. Carroll and Michael Ruse, answering questions such as, Why is this controversy so uniquely American? Isn't it only fair to "teach the controversy"? and What is "irreducible complexity"?;

* A selection of material that Randy Olson chose not to include in the documentary as too embarrassing to the proponents of "intelligent design" -- including, at the very end, footage of Michael Behe explaining, "My kids don't go to public schools; what do I care?";

* A discussion of the use of humor in Flock of Dodos, including unused clips of a mock debate between "the world's most obsfuscating intelligent designer, Dr. Edward Sheehee, and the world's angriest evolutionist, Dr. Jonathan Girr";

* A discussion of the lively discussions that have frequently been organized to accompany screenings of the film across the country, with footage from and Olson's commentary on a number of them.

The home DVD version of Flock of Dodos -- which New Scientist called "a film that will appeal to the average person on either side ... without condescension, poking lighthearted fun at everyone" and which NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott praises as "a powerful defense of evolution that needs to be seen by every teacher of science" -- is available from its distributor Docurama and from Amazon.com.

For the Flock of Dodos website, visit:
http://www.flockofdodos.com

To order the DVD from Docurama, visit:
http://www.docurama.com/productdetail.html?productid=NV-NVG-9916

To order the DVD from Amazon.com (purchases benefit NCSE), visit:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/B000PATZKQ/nationalcenter02

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


Friday, October 12, 2007

Creationism/evolution in Discover

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/US/978_creationismevolution_in_emd_10_12_2007.asp

In the October 2007 issue of Discover magazine, Liza Lentini examines the creationism/evolution controversy, with a focus on teachers. She begins in Kansas, with a pair of teachers at private Christian schools who use textbooks that "present the universe as the direct creation of God and refute the man-made idea of evolution" and think that "The term 'evolution' is misused. ... Conservative scientists don't use that word." A third teacher, Karen Heins, teaches in the Kansas public schools, where she faced frequent attempts to compromise the integrity of science education: "At her last teaching job, 'at a real small town,' a particularly influential minister was encouraging teachers to 'spread the Word' among their young ones in any way they could. Karen was teaching science then and found the atmosphere to be too insufferable to describe."

Reviewing the controversy over evolution in the Kansas state science standards and the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover, Lentini suggests, "The crux of the issue lies in the distinction between intelligent design and creationism, and whether or not there's a difference between the two," and quotes NCSE deputy director Glenn Branch's explanation of the strategic vagueness of the latest incarnation of creationism: "First, by not taking a stand on issues that divide creationists, the intelligent design movement hopes to maintain a big tent under which creationists of all stripes are welcome to shelter. Second, by not identifying the designer as God, the intelligent design movement sought to immunize the position from constitutional scrutiny: The idea was to purge creationism of its overt religiosity, so that intelligent design could succeed where creation science failed."

Later in the article, theology professor William Dinges of the Catholic University of America offers his characterization of "intelligent design" as "a backdoor antievolution initiative, an attempt to turn science on itself and, paradoxically, reject its hegemonic influence. It's an affirmation of the efficacy of biblical literalism, an attempt to make Genesis scientifically respectable, the latest twist in the (pseudo)saga of 'science vs. religion.'" Noting that young-earth creationist organizations like the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis frequently promote "intelligent design" material, NCSE's Glenn Branch commented, "their thinking, presumably, was that getting intelligent design in the public schools would at least accomplish a lot of what they wanted, if not all."

Exemplifying the big tent strategy was a pair of teachers in Gull Lake, Michigan, who were using Of Pandas and People and other creationist material in their science classes; when their school board instructed them to desist (Kalamazoo Gazette, June 14, 2005), the Thomas More Law Center, which represented the unsuccessful defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover, threatened to sue, although no suit was ever filed. Richard Ramsey, the superintendent of the Gull Lake school district, told Lentini, "we haven't thought about ["intelligent design"] in a while ... not a topic we'd like to revisit, to tell you the truth." She reports, "As a result of the controversy, Ramsey's team conducted a statewide survey of Michigan public schools' science programs and found not one that thought ["intelligent design"] was beneficial in a science class."

Back in Kansas, Harry McDonald (a past president of Kansas Citizens for Science, a grassroots organization that defends the teaching of evolution in the state) diagnoses the current assault on evolution education as symptomatic of a larger problem: "Information is considered 'valid' only if it agrees with our preconceived notion of reality. Science is considered a tool to help convince people to adopt a certain political opinion. If the scientific consensus disagrees with that opinion, political appointees rewrite the reports, and dissenters are left off of science advisory boards." For the creationists, too, there's a larger problem in the background: Lentini's article ends in a flurry of quotations illustrating that their objections to evolution are at bottom not to the science but to its supposed consequences for faith and morals.

October 12, 2007

U.S. marshals seize supplements promoted as cures

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071012/hl_nm/fda_supplements_dc

Fri Oct 12, 3:36 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. marshals seized $71,000 worth of goods from a Florida company that illegally marketed supplements to treat serious conditions such as diabetes, anemia and high blood pressure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.

It said FulLife Natural Options, Inc., of Boca Raton, Florida, was marketing Charantea Ampalaya Capsules and Charantea Ampalaya Tea as an unapproved drug.

"These claims are evident in the products' labeling, including promotional literature and FulLife's Internet Web site," the FDA said in a statement.

"Despite FDA's warnings, the firm failed to bring its marketing into compliance with the law. During subsequent inspections, FDA inspectors found that the offending claims were still being made."

It said marshals also raided Charron Nutrition of Tallahassee, Florida, last August, which was promoting its Glucobetic, Neuro-betic, Ocu-Comp, Atri-Oxi, Super-Flex, MSM-1000, and Atri-E-400 capsules as treatments for diabetes, arthritis and other serious health conditions.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Meet the Materialists, part 1: Eugenie Scott, "Evolution Evangelist"

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/10/meet_the_materialists_part_1_e.html

Modern Darwinists like Richard Dawkins notwithstanding, there is nothing new in the effort to offer completely materialistic explanations of human beings and human culture. For more than two millennia various thinkers have been trying to reduce human beings to mere meat in motion. Many of these thinkers figure prominently in my new book Darwin Day in America, and over the next several weeks, I will be describing some of them here.

I start today with Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, and self-proclaimed "evolution evangelist."

When talking to the mainstream media, Scott goes to great lengths to argue that Darwin's theory is perfectly compatible with religion and to distance herself from the fervor of anti-religious zealots like Richard Dawkins. Indeed, Scott's group has gone so far as to develop a curriculum to promote evolution in churches and has even helped design a tax-funded website that attempts to persuade teachers that Darwin's theory is good theology!

Since most Americans believe in God, these efforts undoubtedly represent clever public relations on Scott's part. Whether they represent more than that is questionable. Like most leading evolutionists, Scott herself is certainly not personally sympathetic to religion. A few days ago, for example, she was a featured speaker at the "Crystal Clear Atheism" conference sponsored by the Atheist Alliance International. There she shared the podium with such atheist attack-dogs as Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

Scott's PR campaign to smooth over the tensions between faith and Darwinism has drawn the ire of some fellow evolutionists. Biologist Massimo Pigliucci, for example, has accused Scott of being "intellectually dishonest" on the religion issue because she seems to argue publicly that modern science has no problem with a belief in "a personal god [who] intervenes in every day events." In Pigliucci's view, this is precisely the sort of religious belief that Darwin's theory does refute, and he suggests that Scott is being less than candid in her public comments by not saying so. According to Pigliucci, Scott herself indicates that she is a philosophical naturalist who does not believe in God, but she says she embraces that position for "personal" rather than scientific reasons. Relying in part on personal correspondence with Scott, Pigliucci found Scott's explanation wanting because the "personal reasons" identified by Scott turned out to be "her deep understanding of science and of evolution in particular."

But one doesn't need to rely on private correspondence to ascertain Scott's real views on religion and evolution. In 2003 she signed a public document called the Humanist Manifesto III, which celebrates "the inevitability and finality of death" and proclaims that "humans are... the result of unguided evolutionary change." By specifically citing "unguided evolutionary change" as part of its case for "a progressive philosophy of life… without supernaturalism," this manifesto clearly suggests that evolution properly understood contradicts belief in a personal God. Did Scott fail to understand this document when she signed it along with such anti-religious zealots as Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer? Do I really need to answer that question?

None of this is to deny that there are theistic evolutionists who sincerely believe that evolution and faith are compatible. Perhaps the most prominent of these theistic evolutionists is Roman Catholic biologist Ken Miller at Brown University, author of the book Finding Darwin's God. For an examination of whether Miller's arguments for the compatibility of Darwinism and faith are any more convincing than Scott's, you can read chapter 10 of Darwin Day in America.

To order Darwin Day in America click here. To find out more information about the book (and watch the trailer), visit the book's website .

Posted by John West on October 9, 2007 3:01 PM | Permalink

Evangelical Theologian Disputes Creationism's Alleged 'Threat' to Human Rights

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071010/29644_Evangelical_Theologian_Disputes_Creationism's_Alleged_'Threat'_to_Human_Rights.htm

Europe's Resolution on Creationism Indicative of Secularized Society, Says Prominent U.S. Theologian

By Lawrence Jones Christian Post Reporter

Wed, Oct. 10 2007 08:34 AM ET

A resolution adopted by Europe's top human rights body last week declaring creationism as a potential ''threat to human rights'' is evidence of a secularized culture, said one of America's pre-eminent evangelical theologians.

A man pauses to study old Bible manuscripts during a tour of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., Thursday, May 24, 2007. On Oct. 4, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted 48 to 25 in support of the resolution entitled "The dangers of creationism in education," in which the parliamentary body urged its governments to "firmly oppose" the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline.

The document stated that creationism is promoted by "forms of religious extremism" and criticized advocates of creationism for seeking to "to impose religious dogma" at the expense of children's education.

"For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life," stated the report. "Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe."

After reading the report's attacks on creationism, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posted a response in his personal Web site on Monday, stating that the resolution is indicative of an increasingly secularizing society.

"When the official human rights institution of Europe has to explain that 'some people' believe that the divine creation of the universe 'gives a meaning to life,' this can only mean that Europe (at least as represented by the Council of Europe) has forgotten even its Christian memory," wrote Mohler, who often appears on "Larry King Live" and other popular news shows representing the Christian voice.

The report, which had been reworked since it was first introduced a few months ago, also charged creationists with denying the scientific validity of the theory of evolution.

"They accuse scientists of not providing enough evidence to establish the theory of evolution as scientifically valid. On the contrary, they defend their own statements as scientific. None of this stands up to objective analysis," the text argued. "The theory of evolution has nothing to do with divine revelation but is built on facts.

"The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights," added the report.

But even evolutionary scientists wouldn't agree that evolution is based on facts, Mohler pointed out, adding that the claim would make most evolutionary scientists blush.

Furthermore, the Baptist leader challenged the report to provide evidence of its claim that some advocates of creationism "are out to replace democracy by theocracy."

"The group claims that such knowledge 'has been exposed on several occasions' but fails to mention even one such occasion," stated Mohler.

While the resolution describes creationism as "an almost exclusively American phenomenon" but that some of its tenets were "tending to find their way into Europe," Mohler noted a greater shift at work.

"The Council of Europe's resolution is clear evidence of the fact that a secularized society desperately needs naturalistic evolution as the metaphysical foundation of its worldview," he stated.

"Any threat to evolution is seen as a threat to democracy and human rights — and democracy and human rights are understood in an entirely secular framework as well."

The vote on the resolution is nonbinding but will provide direction to the assembly as it urges its 47 member states to consider its views.

English Schools Risk Failure in Science Teaching

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/10/english_schools_risk_failure_i.html

A professor at London's Institute of Education, Michael Reiss, suggests that teachers respond vigorously to the apparently growing "creationist" tendencies of their students. He attributes some of the alarming trend to the influence of Muslim students in the UK.

The mistake here is in thinking that you can defend Darwinian theory by attacking "creationism" and by broad-brush associating intelligent design with the image of creationism. That approach will merely create a wall between teachers and students, however, and most teachers won't want to take part in that.

I agree that students should learn about Darwin's theory, and I see the difficulty that many teachers are reluctant to get into the subject because of the growing controversy. But the way to persuade them—and their students—is not to attack creationism, but to let students know more about Darwin's theory, including the scientific evidence for and against it. That is the purpose of the textbook, Explore Evolution. It doesn't get into possible implications of the theory or its alternatives. It is honest about the science on both sides.

Students and their parents will have their own ideas about the implications of the subject, whether theism, theistic evolution or atheism. The teacher can respond that they are welcome to such views, but that they are not the subject of the course.

The Darwinists, I am afraid, however, would rather have teachers teach nothing about evolution than teach the scientific evidence for and against Darwin's theory. Their agenda going in is ideological.

Posted by Bruce Chapman on October 11, 2007 12:04 AM | Permalink


Monday, October 08, 2007

Experts call for creationism in the classroom

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2184632,00.html

Anthea Lipsett Friday October 5, 2007

EducationGuardian.co.uk

Growing numbers of pupils believe in creationism, and science teachers should be prepared to cover the topic in their classes, education experts said today.

Creationism - the belief that life came into existence thousands of years ago as described in the Bible or the Qur'an, rather than millions of years ago, which scientists believe - is on the rise in the UK.

This makes the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution a problem in some schools.

But academics from the Institute of Education in London and Valdosta State University in the US say the theory of evolution should be taught as a significant part of science lessons, with room to discuss creationism.

Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the institute, and Leslie Jones, science educator at Valdosta's biology department, have written a new book aimed at helping science teachers enter the evolution and creationism debate.

Teaching about Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism aims to help science teachers who want their students to understand the scientific position on the origins of the universe, while taking seriously and respectfully the concerns of those who do not accept evolution.

Professor Reiss, who has a PhD in evolutionary biology and is also a Church of England priest, said teachers could not ignore the fact that growing numbers of Muslim and Christian children in the UK now held creationist beliefs.

"The days have long gone when science teachers could ignore creationism when teaching about origins," he said. "While it is unlikely that they will help students who have a conflict between science and their religious beliefs to resolve the conflict, good science teaching can help them to manage it - and to learn more science.

"By not dismissing their beliefs, we can ensure that these students learn what evolutionary theory really says, and give everyone the understanding to respect the views of others."

Creationism in schools has become an increasingly controversial topic in the US, where some academics are deeply concerned about the theories American schoolchildren are taught.

The national science academies of 67 countries issued a joint statement last year warning that scientific evidence about the origins of life was being "concealed, denied or confused".

And yesterday, the Council of Europe (CoE) urged governments to "firmly oppose" the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline.

Members of the CoE's Parliamentary Assembly voted yesterday 48 to 25 against giving creationism the same status in education as the theory of evolution.

"If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights," they said. "The prime target of present-day creationists, most of whom are Christian or Muslim, is education. Creationists are bent on ensuring that their ideas are included in the school science syllabus. Creationism cannot, however, lay claim to being a scientific discipline."

Anne Brasseur, a former education minister from Luxembourg, who authored a CoE report on creationism, said: "It is not a matter of opposing belief and science, but it is necessary to prevent belief from opposing science."

The parliamentarians said there was "a real risk of a serious confusion" being introduced into children's minds between belief and science.

They added: "The theory of evolution has nothing to do with divine revelation but is built on facts. Intelligent design, presented in a more subtle way, seeks to portray its approach as scientific, and therein lies the danger."

They said creationism was affecting "quite a few" CoE member states, including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said creationism should not be taught in science lessons.

"Guidance for schools and teachers, published today, makes it clear that creationism and intelligent design are not recognised scientific theories, and therefore must not be taught as fact in science classes," he said.

"When questions about creationism and intelligent design come up in science lessons, it may provide the opportunity to explain or explore what makes a scientific theory. There is a real difference between teaching something and discussing something.

"It is important that young people learn about the world around them, and are aware of different beliefs. There is scope for discussions around different beliefs in RE, history and citizenship classes."

Call to cover creationism

http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jNQBl2qxKyT65IJp-72uxGtLC5tg

Science teachers must respect the growing numbers of pupils who hold "creationist" beliefs and should be prepared to cover the topic in class, experts said.

The theory of evolution should be taught as a significant part of science lessons but there should be room to discuss creationism, they said.

The call came in a new book edited by Michael Reiss, from the University of London's Institute of Education, and Leslie Jones, from Valdosta State University, in the United States.

Creationism includes a belief that all life-forms have always existed in their present form, and that the world was formed 6,000-10,000 years ago, rather than 4,600 million years ago as most scientists believe.

This can make the teaching of the globally accepted scientific theory of evolution a problem in some schools.

Professor Reiss, who has a PhD in evolutionary biology and is also an Anglican priest, said teachers could not ignore the fact that growing numbers of Muslim and Christian children in the UK now hold creationist beliefs.

"More and more people don't have any religious faith but the ones that do are becoming - quite often - more fundamentalist," he said.

"Fifty years ago there were very small numbers of fundamentalist Christians. Now a much higher proportion are fundamentalists."

He said science teachers must treat pupils who have creationist beliefs with respect. "What I am saying is teach evolution as a really good part of science but be open to the fact that in most classes there are increasingly likely to be some children who come from families that cannot accept that - and don't denigrate those pupils and their beliefs. The days have long gone when science teachers could ignore creationism when teaching about origins."

The book - Teaching about Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism - aims to help science teachers tackle the issue.

'Expelled' Producers Deny Deceiving Scientists to Appear in Film

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071008/29618_'Expelled'_Producers_Deny_Deceiving_Scientists_to_Appear_in_Film.htm

By Katherine T. Phan
Christian Post Reporter

Mon, Oct. 08 2007 10:53 AM ET

Producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the film on Intelligent Design and Darwinism, have rejected claims made by some Darwinist scientists alleging they were tricked into being interviewed for the film.

The charges made by scientists who appeared in the film as proponents of Darwinian evolution entered the public spotlight when the New York Times published an article last month entitled "Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life's Origin."

In the Sept. 27 article, three scientists — Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion; Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education; and P.Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris — told the Times that they felt deceived by producers of Expelled.

Premise Media Corporation, the makers of the film featuring television personality Ben Stein, responded Thursday to accusations, denying any wrongdoing.

"There is some serious mistreatment and downright reprehensible behavior going on here," said Executive Producer Walt Ruloff, "but I can assure you it's not coming from us.

"We're just the ones exposing it."

In Expelled, Stein – best known for his role in Visine eye drops commercials – highlights the long-standing controversial debate between supporters of Darwinism, which suggests the universe was created by chance, and Intelligent Design, which argues that the creation of life and the universe are results of an intelligent "designer."

Through interviews with both Intelligent Design and Darwinian Evolution proponents, the movie is said to expose "the intimidation, persecution and career destruction that takes place when any scientist dares dissent from the view that all life on earth is the mere result of random mutation and natural selection," according to producers.

"When our audience sees the stories of the real victims of scientific malpractice they're going to be outraged," said Ruloff.

Dawkins, who has earned the label "Darwin's Rottweiler" from the media, protested that makers of the movie did not inform him that they were representing "a creationist front," in an e-mail written to the Times.

He also shared similar complaints with fellow atheist Meyers over the film's title change from Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion to of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Both Dawkins and Meyers claim that changing the film's title amounted to deception.

Mark Mathis, one of the film's producers, countered their allegations and said that they were a "bunch of hypocrites."

According to the makers of the film, even Dawkins admitted that the title of his anti-religion documentary (Root of all Evil?) was chosen as a replacement for the original title late in the process. They maintain that movie's title was changed on the advice of marketing experts.

Furthermore, Expelled producers pointed out that Dawkins is involved in a documentary that attacks Intelligent Design theory. It is the makers of A War on Science who are deceptive, according to Expelled producers, since they approached Discovery Institute as objective filmmakers and then portrayed the organization as religiously-motivated and anti-scientific.

Mathis, who set up the interviews for Expelled, said the scientists who were interviewed were well-informed beforehand.

"I went over all of the questions with these folks before the interviews and I e-mailed the questions to many of them days in advance," said Mathis. "The lady [and gentlemen] doth protest too much, methinks."

Expelled producers have asserted that film will portray the scientists interviewed in a way that is consistent with their actual viewpoints or other public statements.

Despite the issues he has with the film, Meyers says he and other scientists who felt miscast will not seek a lawsuit.

"[N]ot even in my private conversations with Dawkins and Eugenie Scott about this movie has anyone even brought up the possibility of suing or somehow interfering with the release," wrote Meyers on his blog.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is scheduled for release in February 2008.

On the Web: More information on Expelled and the online trailer at www.expelledthemovie.com.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Clinton Says She Would Shield Science From Politics

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/us/politics/05clinton.html

By PATRICK HEALY and CORNELIA DEAN
Published: October 5, 2007

In a stinging critique of Bush administration science policy, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said yesterday that if she were elected president she would require agency directors to show they were protecting science research from "political pressure" and that she would lift federal limits on stem cell research.

Mrs. Clinton, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, also committed herself to a space-based climate research project to combat global warming and pledged to spend $50 billion on fighting climate change and finding energy alternatives to foreign oil.

In a speech laying out her campaign's science agenda, Mrs. Clinton spoke of the need for a "robust" program of human exploration of space.

But in a telephone interview afterward, she said that in the short term she would subordinate Bush administration proposals for human exploration of the Moon and Mars to restoring cuts in aeronautics research and space-based studies of climate change and other earth science issues.

Travel to the Moon or Mars "excites people," she said, "but I am more focused on nearer-term goals I think are achievable."

Her remarks yesterday, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, amounted to a spirited attack on President Bush for waging what she called a "war on science" that has allowed political appointees to shape and in some cases distort science-based federal reports.

Mrs. Clinton said she would restore the office of White House science adviser to the higher status it held in the administrations of her husband and President Bush's father. And she said she would encourage Congress to revive its Office of Technology Assessment, an advisory group that was shut down in 1995 after Republicans in Congress withdrew its financing.

In the telephone interview after the speech, Mrs. Clinton also tacitly criticized opponents of evolution. Some of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates have said flatly that they do not believe in evolution, while other Republican contenders have said they support teaching evolution, intelligent design and creationist ideas.

"I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying," Mrs. Clinton said in the interview. "I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason."

"I am grateful that I have the ability to look at dinosaur bones and draw my own conclusions," she added, saying, too, that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is evidence that "evolution is going on as we speak."

The Clinton attack on White House science policy is not especially new; Mrs. Clinton has used the phrase "war on science" frequently on the campaign trail, and it has reliably drawn applause from Democratic audiences. She has also indicated before that she would reverse the financing restriction on stem cell research and, more broadly, would stand against politicizing science.

But in her speech and the telephone interview, she sought to lay out her agenda in what one adviser called "a contest of ideas" with her Democratic rivals, who have been increasingly delivering more policy speeches in hopes of winning voters with big ideas that counter nearly seven years of Bush administration policy.

"When science is politicized, it is worse than wrong," she said in the interview. "It is dangerous — dangerous for our democracy."

Moreover, she said, "it is holding us back economically," as other countries move forward in research in areas like stem cells and alternative energy, "creating high-wage jobs."

The Bush White House has been dogged by complaints from scientists in and out of government, including some of its own appointees, that it has ignored, contorted or suppressed work by government scientists if they contradict administration views, particularly in areas like climate.

Others complain that the administration has made science policy decisions on grounds that are not scientific. In particular, critics cite the president's decision, in August 2001, to limit federal financing for research involving human embryonic stem cells to cell lines already in use at the time.

The research is thought to have great potential in developing treatments for a range of diseases, but opponents of abortion rights object to it, because the cells are produced through the destruction of human embryos.

"We have to be steered by values and morals," Mrs. Clinton said yesterday, and she pointed to guidelines drawn up by the National Institutes of Health during her husband's administration as a kind of "ethical framework" through which such work could advance.

For example, she said, the use of embryonic stem cells to create tissue whose DNA is identical to that of an ailing person, a process called therapeutic cloning, "is within the ethical framework."

Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, chided Mrs. Clinton for saying that she would take politics out of science, contending that her record is replete with political manipulations.

"Hillary Clinton says she will bring integrity to science, but on the campaign trail she manipulates basic mathematics in her attempts to explain how she will pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending," Mr. Diaz said. He also noted that Mr. Bush had made federal money available for stem cell research.

Evolution education update: October 5, 2007

The Council of Europe approves a resolution opposing the teaching of creationism as science, while the largest association in the United States devoted solely to social studies education issues a statement opposing the teaching of creationism as science in social studies classes. And NCSE is pleased to congratulate Carl Zimmer for winning a prestigious award from the National Academies.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE APPROVES RESOLUTION AGAINST CREATIONSIM

On October 4, 2007, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly approved a resolution urging its member governments to oppose the teaching of creationism as science. The resolution, entitled "The dangers of creationism in education," states, "Today creationist ideas are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states," observing, "The prime target of present-day creationists, most of whom are Christian or Muslim, is education. Creationists are bent on ensuring that their ideas are included in the school science syllabus. Creationism cannot, however, lay claim to being a scientific discipline." Included is "intelligent design," which is described as "the latest, more refined version of creationism" and "presented in a more subtle way."

The resolution recognizes the importance of evolutionary theory in the modern world -- "Denying it could have serious consequences for the development of our societies. Advances in medical research with the aim of effectively combating infectious diseases such as AIDS are impossible if every principle of evolution is denied. One cannot be fully aware of the risks involved in the significant decline in biodiversity and climate change if the mechanisms of evolution are not understood" -- and accordingly concludes, "The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies. For that reason it must occupy a central position in the curriculum, and especially in the science syllabus, as long as, like any other theory, it is able to stand up to thorough scientific scrutiny."

Acknowledging the religious roots of creationism, the resolution begins by emphasizing, "The aim of this report is not to question or to fight a belief ... The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science," and notes that religious leaders (including Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II) have not endorsed creationism. But, the resolution continues, "The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements ... The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that some advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy."

The resolution ends by calling on the member states of the Council of Europe "to defend and promote scientific knowledge; strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history, its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge; to make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities of the contemporary world; to firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution and in general resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion; to promote the teaching of evolution as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculum" (internal numbering omitted).

The Council of Europe, as a Reuters story (October 4, 2007) on the adoption of the resolution explains, "oversees human rights standards in member states and enforces decisions of the European Court of Human Rights." The story adds, "The resolution, which passed 48 votes to 25 with 3 abstentions, is not binding on the Council's 47 member states but reflects widespread opposition among politicians to teaching creationism in science class." A press release about the resolution, a report containing both the draft resolution and a memorandum providing a lengthy background discussion and explanation of its provisions, a list of the votes on the resolution, and a video (in French) of a press conference about it, are available on the Council of Europe's website.

For the text of the resolution, visit:
http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/ERES1580.htm

For the Reuters story, visit:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUKL0417855220071004

For the press release, report, voting list, and video of the press conference, visit:
http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Press/StopPressView.asp?ID=1965
http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc07/EDOC11375.htm
http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Votes/DBVotesResults_EN.asp?VoteID=664&DocRef=11375&SessionID=221
http://coenews.coe.int/vod/071004_w05_w.wmv

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events around the world, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=XX

NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE SOCIAL STUDIES ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION

National Council for the Social Studies, the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education, adopted a statement on "intelligent design" in May 2007, which will appear in the forthcoming third edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution, a collection of statements in defense of evolution education from scientific, educational, civil liberties, and religious organizations.

After reviewing the legal background of efforts to teach creationism in the public schools, the NCSS statement specifically addresses proposals to teach creationism in social studies classes rather than science classes, observing:

***

Social studies may, at first glance, seem to be a better fit for this approach to teaching intelligent design, but the same constitutional issues arise whether religious beliefs are taught in science or in the social studies curriculum. While the social studies classroom is the proper forum for the discussion of controversial issues, educators should be wary of being used to promote a religious belief in the public schools. This unintended outcome can be the result of teaching students that a scientific controversy exists between intelligent design and the theory of evolution when, in fact, no such controversy exists.

***

It emphasizes that "teaching religious beliefs as the equivalent of scientific theory is not consistent with the social studies nor is it allowed under the First Amendment. Evolution is a scientific theory subject to testing by the scientific method."

The NCSS statement acknowledges, however, that "there are a number of ways in which social studies teachers might introduce the issues surrounding intelligent design in their curriculum," giving examples of constitutional, historical, sociological, anthropological, and public issues perspectives. None of them convey the misleading impression that there is a scientific controversy over evolution.

For the NCSS statement, visit:
http://www.socialstudies.org/positions/intelligentdesign

For NCSE's Voices for Evolution, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=2

CONGRATULATIONS TO CARL ZIMMER

NCSE congratulates Carl Zimmer for winning the 2007 Communications Award for his science journalism in the newspapers/magazines/internet category from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. A press release issued on October 1, 2007, praised "his diverse and consistently interesting coverage of evolution and unexpected biology," citing in particular:

***

"Highly Evolved and Exquisitely Thirsty," "Silent Struggle: A New Theory of Pregnancy," "This Can't be Love," and "Devious Butterflies, Full-Throated Frogs, and Other Liars," published in the New York Times; "A Fin is a Limb is a Wing," published in National Geographic; and The Loom, a science blog hosted by Seed Magazine.

***

Zimmer, along with the winners in the book and television/radio categories, will be honored during a ceremony on November 14, 2007, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California; the award brings with it a $20,000 prize. Zimmer is the author of a number of popular books about biology, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (Harper Perennial, 2006), the companion volume to PBS's Evolution series; he also received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award for 2005.

For the National Academies' press release, visit:
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10012007b

For Zimmer's blog The Loom, visit:
http://scienceblogs.com/loom/

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

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 5 Oct 07 Washington, DC

SPUTNIK AT 50: ITS INFERNAL BEEPING DROVE US NUTS.

A month later, Sputnik II was taking radiation measurements. Our embarrassment was compounded by the Vanguard debacle 2 months later. But just 4 months after Sputnik I, Explorer I detected the Van Allen radiation belts - the first major discovery of what lay beyond the ionosphere. The U.S. had taken the lead in the scientific exploration of space, and has never relinquished it. Forget the dogs and chimpanzees and astronauts - the herd shot 'round the world - they have made no contribution at all to life here on Earth. It is our space machines that expand our knowledge of the universe and enrich our lives. We urgently need more space machines to tell us what's happening to Earth.

POLITICAL SCIENCE: SCIENCE HELD HOSTAGE TO POLITICS.

How did Sputnik II miss the Van Allen belts, you might wonder? The data recorder on board wasn't working. Scientists wanted to delay launch to make repairs. Khrushchev refused - he was headed to an important international conference and wanted to announce another success. Thus, at the dawn of the Space Age, science was already held hostage to politics. Yesterday at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, Hillary Clinton spoke on "Reclaiming our Commitment to Science and Innovation." Her strongest words came after the speech in an interview with the NY Times. She called for protection of research from "political pressure," including restoration of cuts in space-based climate research.

MALICIOUS: AUTHOR OF FRAUDULENT PAPER SUES CRITIC.

We've been reporting on the Columbia prayer study for six years http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN07/wn022307.html. It claimed that the prayers of total strangers halfway around the world doubled the success of in Vitro fertilization. As problems showed up, one author, the Ob/Gyn Dept Chair at Columbia Univ. said he had nothing to do with the work, a breech of scientific ethics. Another, a business-man/fertility-doctor who operates fertility clinics in Korea and California, was charged with plagiarism in Korea in a separate case. A third author, a parapsychologist and lawyer, went to federal prison for an unrelated swindling conviction. Meanwhile, Bruce Flamm, clinical professor of Ob/Gyn at U.C. Irvine, who uncovered much of this, thought the J. of Reproductive Medicine should pull the paper, and Columbia should disavow it - neither happened. So Flamm kept up the pressure. The result? Kwang Y. Cha, the fertility-clinic operator, is suing Flamm for defamation. The infamous paper, meanwhile, can still be found at the Journal site http://www.reproductivemedicine.com/Features/2001/2001Sep.htm.

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

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

Council of Europe firmly opposes creationism in school

http://uk.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUKL0417855220071004

Thu Oct 4, 2007 7:06pm BST

By Gilbert Reilhac

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Europe's main human rights body voted on Thursday to urge schools across the continent to firmly oppose the teaching of creationist and "intelligent design" views in their science classes.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly approved a resolution saying attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted "in forms of religious extremism" and amounted to a dangerous assault on science and human rights.

The text said European schools should "resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion." It said the "intelligent design" view defended by some United States conservatives was an updated version of creationism.

Creationism says God made the world in six days as depicted in the Bible. Intelligent design argues some life forms are too complex to have evolved according to Charles Darwin's theory and needed an unnamed higher intelligence to develop as they have.

Anne Brasseur, an Assembly member from Luxembourg who updated an earlier draft resolution, said the report showed how creationists -- most recently a shadowy Turkish Muslim writer Harun Yahya -- were trying to infiltrate European schools.

"The purpose of this report is to warn against the attempt to pass off a belief -- creationism -- as a science and to teach the theses of this belief in science classes," she said. "Its purpose is not to fight any belief."

The vote was due in June but was postponed because some members felt the original text amounted to an attack on religious belief. A few changes were made to spell out that it was not directed against religion.

The Council, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, oversees human rights standards in member states and enforces decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

The resolution, which passed 48 votes to 25 with 3 abstentions, is not binding on the Council's 47 member states but reflects widespread opposition among politicians to teaching creationism in science class.

Some conservatives in the United States, both religious and secular, have long opposed the teaching of evolution in public schools but U.S. courts have regularly barred them from teaching what they describe as religious views of creation.

Pressure to teach creationism is weaker in Europe, but has been mounting. An Assembly committee took up the issue because Harun Yahya has been sending his lavish Islamic creationist book "Atlas of Creation" to schools in several countries.

Supporters of intelligent design want it taught in science class alongside evolution. A U.S. court ruled this out in a landmark decision in 2005, dismissing it as "neo-creationism."

Two cheers for Canon Kenyon on CreationismComment

http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/letters/display.var.1742053.0.0.php

I welcome Canon Kenyon Wright's recognition (Letters, October 6), contrary to much current opinion, that the existence of an intelligent mind behind all things is both an ancient and an intuitive idea. I also share his commitment to an education system which presents the real case for a Creator. However, I have reservations about his confident comments on the separation of scientific and religious truth.

First, the modern expression of "intelligent design" is actually a highly credible scientific position and not, as he puts it, "synonymous with Creationist fallacies". Intelligent design is not derived from religious authority or sacred texts, but from the application of design theory to natural and living systems. It points, for example, to the highly specific design of living systems and to the existence of real information, in the form of a genetic language, within DNA.

It is most peculiar that in all other areas of human experience the need for prior intelligence to generate design and information is recognised, but that the same notion is unacceptable when applied to nature. Intelligent design ought to be treated as serious science, whatever its philosophical implications might be.

Secondly, it is essentially a scientific position to retain substantial scepticism about the ability of evolutionary theory to explain the "how" and "when" of the development of living things. It is quite a jump from the observed ability of living things to adapt to their environments to providing a secure explanation about how they were assembled in the first place.

This is especially the case at the molecular level, where the sophistication of biochemical systems is truly awesome. A major extrapolation from the evidence is required to conclude that natural selection, acting on random mutations, can generate this level of complexity.

What are sometimes euphemistically dismissed as difficulties in the molecular mechanisms for evolution appear to me more like gaping holes. And it is salutary to remember that, despite the hand-waving, there is also no credible scientific theory about how life emerged in the first place.

In my view, the Neo-Darwinist position in these areas is ultimately sustained on the basis of ideological naturalism - the claim that, despite the obvious difficulties, there cannot be any other explanation but a materialistic one. That, of course, is philosophy, not science, and clearly not a sound basis on which to develop religious insights.

We should be careful about stereotyping the "so-called Creationists" and dismissing them as idiots. While some Creationist positions are undoubtedly controversial, there is a spectrum of informed opinion about how to interpret biblical texts and how these can inform and enrich the scientific debate about origins.

What strikes me as very strange, indeed, is the tendency these days to subject those who hold the view that the universe had a beginning and was, therefore, created, to public derision.

I would have thought, at the very least, that Creation is the most obvious and sensible of the explanations for the origin of things.

Dr Alastair Noble, 4 Lynn Drive, Eaglesham.

© All rights reserved.

Alternative Herbal Medicine Is A Great Solution

http://pr-gb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27862&Itemid=9

Posted by EditorsChoice
Sunday, 07 October 2007

Our world is basically corrupted with sickness and disease. Yeah, you heard me right. Just take a look around. Pop on the local news and you will surely see something regarding a virus or disease. There's just no escaping this issue. If you're human, it's all around you. Of course every single one of us want to prevent ourselves from getting anything.

This is why professionals encourage certain lifestyles and practices. It's prudent to stay on top of these issues at all times. Now, what about the afflictions you do acquire? Take the common cold or flu for instance. What do you do to get rid of these sicknesses quickly? Are you all for modern-day science or do you prefer an alternative herbal medicine? You may want to delve deeper before making any assumptions.

Can you name an alternative herbal medicine that works well for you? I know I can. You see, I tend to get sore in the forearm area. This is due to excessive typing. Clearly this could lead to horrific problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, I refuse to let such a thing happen.

Now, I could use an oral medicine such as Ibuprofen to deal with the soreness. Sure, it may help a little. But, I want something that is going to treat and heal my forearms. This is when I began searching for an alternative herbal medicine. Eventually I stumbled across a German alternative herbal medicine. It is called skin cream.

I immediately loved the fact that it's all natural. Furthermore, it has been proven to heal joints and tendons. I knew it would be ideal for my aches and pains. After just one use, I was amazed at how well this alternative herbal medicine worked. I would think such a topical cream would make a fortune. These days I apply skin cream to my forearms each night before bed, and when I wake up each morning, they're restored. It's phenomenal stuff.

So, do you have a good reason why someone might choose an alternative herbal medicine over one that science has produces? Hey, I can. We are becoming more and more hip to the dangers of these man-made concoctions. It's difficult not to notice all the backlash. I certainly don't want my liver destroyed by some new-age medicine. Why not check out the contemporary alternative herbal medicine available these days instead.

Medicine

Other traditional systems of medicine, particularly Asian traditions, use many herbs in synergistic mixtures or blends. We are just beginning to understand the complexities of herbal medicine, with its multiplicity of active chemicals in a single herb, and the interaction of a mixture of herbs found in traditional therapies.

In order to effectively research whether herbal medicine is effective or even safe, we need to detect all the active chemicals that exist in a medicinal plant, but also evaluate their effects on humans individually and together.

Herbal growers, manufacturers, researchers, medical clinicians, funding agencies are all part of the panoply of actors involved in the making of safe and effective herbal medicine. As demand for alternative medicine has grown, so have the harvesting and collection pressures for numerous ecologies that produce the medicinal plants of interest.

Ultimately, together we will influence not only the quality of herbal medicine available to us in stores, but also whether we will maintain the diversity of plant life necessary to sustain a diversity of cultures and alternative methods for maintaining good health.

Conclusion

Herbal medicine is the oldest form of health care known to mankind. Herbal medicine products are dietary supplements that people take to improve their health. Herbal medicine is the oldest form of health care known to mankind. Herbal medicine probably presents a greater risk of adverse effects and interactions than any other complementary therapy.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/alternative-herbal-medicine-is-a-great-solution-225890.html

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Europe keen on adopting Ayurveda

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Europe_keen_on_adopting_Ayurveda/articleshow/2420736.cms

1 Oct, 2007, 2134 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Europe seems to be keen to adopt Ayurveda as an alternative system of medicine and remove obstacles in its wider reach across the continent.

At a first ever international conference on Ayurveda in Europe a set of recommendations were adopted for promoting the ancient Indian system of medicine in the continent.

Over 30 experts from India and several European Member states participated in the conference held on Saturday in Budapest, Hungary.

The conference was inaugurated by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Panabaka Lakshmi and Hungarian Health Secretary Rapi Katalin.

The main objective of the conference was to bring all the stakeholders of Ayurveda on a common platform in order to create greater awareness, identify obstacles in its wider reach ans discuss measures required for its further promotion in Europe.

The University of Debrecen in Eastern Hungary also agreed in principle to incorporate Ayurveda in their teaching curriculum.

India is actively promoting greater international interest in accessing complementary and alternative medicine systems, according a statement issued by the Indian embassy in Hungary.

Christian campaigners force new guidelines over creationism

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=484907&in_page_id=1770

By DANIEL BATES

Last updated at 08:04am on 1st October 2007

Ministers have been forced to issue guidelines on how to teach Creationism in science classes after pressure from Christian campaigners.

Teachers are allowed to answer questions on the subject but must make clear it has 'no underpinning scientific principles', new government advice states.

The move is in response to a campaign by Christian group 'Truth in Science' which last summer sent every school DVDs promoting intelligent design (ID), a Creationism offshoot, in a bid to get it taught.

It is also intended to avoid the situation in the United States where teachers under pressure from the religious Right have forced science teachers to begin lessons in ID.

Creationism, the Biblical theory that The Earth was created by God in six days, has been controversial in recent years.

Three City Academies run by Christian car dealer Sir Peter Vardy have been criticised for featuring Creationist theories in lessons.

Pupils taking Biology GCSE with exam board OCR this year became the first students in mainstream education to answer questions on the theory in a science exam.

This prompted The Royal Society to issue an open letter stating Creationism had no place in schools and that pupils should be clear science backs the theory of evolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has in the past said he is not comfortable with it being taught to pupils.

The new guidance says teachers should respond 'positively and educationally' to questions about Creationism and be 'respectful of students' views, religious or otherwise'.

But it also makes clear makes clear such beliefs are not valid scientific theories and not 'scientifically testable'.

Teachers should instill in pupils aged five to 14 the outlines of evolutionary theory and focus on the 'nature and evidence for evolution' at GCSE and A-level.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: "The guidelines were issued in response to materials distributed last year on teaching Creationism in schools by religious groups.

"It is the first time there has been guidance on this matter."

Tom afraid of aliens

http://www2.skynews.com.au/showbiz/article.aspx?id=192759

Updated: 11:38, Tuesday October 2, 2007

Wild rumours are circulating Los Angeles that crazy Hollywood actor Tom Cruise is planning to build a bunker to keep him and his family safe.

Reports suggest the Mission Impossible star fears that galactic ruler Xenu, the God figure in his Scientology religion, is planning a revenge attack against Earth.

He is having a reinforced bunker built to protect wife Katie Holmes and daughter Suri and his adopted children with Nicole Kidman, Isabella and Connor.

'Tom is planning to build a US$10 million bunker under his Telluride estate,' says the source.

Cruise first joined the Church of Scientology while married to his first wife, Mimi Rogers.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Which doctor, or witch doctor?

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411509220&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 29, 2007

Hundreds of programs for non-physicians around the country and high-priced ads from charlatans promising "cures" for a variety of diseases have given non-conventional medicine a bad name. Totally unsupervised "alternative" therapists who "graduate" from these courses and swindlers whose mere touch is claimed to make serious disease evaporate tempt desperate patients.

Many practitioners use the term "alternative medicine," as if the vast compendium of medical knowledge accumulated over centuries, especially the evidence-based medicine of the past few decades, can be equated with unproven treatments. However, there are herbs that can help patients as much or even more than some pills. And tai chi can reduce falling in the elderly, shiatsu can relax patients with hypertension, and acupuncture can relieve lower back pain. Some complementary medicine treatments can even help cancer patients.

Dr. Opher Caspi, director of the year-old Integrative Medicine Unit at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, says it observes strict rules when dealing with patients.

"Therapies must be proven safe. They must not interfere with treatments that patients are already taking. And they must have a profile of efficacy," says Caspi, who not only is an internal medicine specialist but also has a Ph.D. in psychology. "Our treatments are offered as packages by physicians who seriously studied complementary medicine, and not as independent therapies." Everything is assessed according to this measure. "Homeopathy is very popular here and in the US, but we don't use it on cancer patients, as it hasn't been proven effective against cancer."

Shark cartilage, a complementary cancer therapy offered in the US, has no effect on extending the lives of cancer patients, according to a rigorous study recently presented to the American Society for Clinical Oncology. However, some preliminary studies have provided encouraging evidence that ginseng and flaxseed might have some benefit.

CASPI, A graduate of The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School who spent years studying internal medicine at the Hadassah University Medical Center, knows what is going on in complementary medicine abroad, as he spent a year in China learning traditional Chinese medicine and then six years studying integrative medicine (which integrates conventional and complementary medicine) at the University of Arizona - regarded as the world's leading center in this field. Since 2001, he has been a member of the research team based in Beijing that is examining the efficacy of acupuncture as part of a package for treating children with cerebral palsy. He also coordinates a course in integrative medicine at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Medical Faculty. He is one of about 100 physicians who are members of the Society for Integrated Medicine in the IMA.

The Rabin Medical Center unit, located in the Davidoff Center on its Beilinson Campus, is the only integrative medicine facility of its kind in Israel, says Caspi. "The tragedy of complementary medicine is that some think it is an alternative; there is a danger of people going to charlatans and forgoing conventional treatment.

IN FEBRUARY 2005, Caspi was appointed by Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli to coordinate a committee to prepare legislation on supervision of complementary medicine therapies. The 19-member body is chaired by Dr. Yitzhak Zeides, director-general of Sheba Medical Center. Caspi says he is well aware that in 1992, the report of the Public Commission on Complementary Medicine - which was headed by retired Supreme Court justice Menachem Elon and deliberated for three years - was thrown into the dustbin after the majority of members recommended that unconventional medical techniques such as homeopathy, iridology, aromatherapy, shiatsu, reflexology, acupuncture and naturotherapy should not be outlawed if they don't cause harm. The minority on the commission, however, urged strict standards and licensing. They argued that the "drastic" proposals of the majority, based on the British model, were "not suited" to the Israeli reality of general disregard for many laws, and would create "complete lack of control. The charlatans will have a field day and the innocent public will be thrown to the wolves."

The IMA lobbied against implementation of the Elon Commission's recommendations,, and nothing came of it - except, perhaps, a market in which anything was allowed de facto.

"We know our committee is not the first. We are hearing representatives of the IMA as well as complementary medicine practitioners. There is no advance commitment from the ministry to accept our recommendations; either they will implemented, or they will be forgotten. There is a chance that it will not lead to anything, but we hope it will," Caspi says.

Today, the health funds offer members who take out supplementary health insurance policies the opportunity to consult with complementary medical therapists for a reduced fee, and there are hospitals such as Hadassah, Shaare Zedek and Assaf Harofe Medical Centers, for example, that have integrative medicine units. "But ours is comprehensive, and we treat cancer patients all day."

Under one roof, the Beilinson center concentrates oncologists, hematologists and other experts in a wide variety of cancers along with doctors who have studied complementary medicine.

"We have a repository of knowledge that helps both patients and staff. We have a constant dialogue, at the level of the individual patient, on what could help. We think how to work together and find proven therapies when there is no other solution. For example, when cancer patients suffer from tiredness, weakness or neuropathy due to toxic chemotherapy," explains Caspi. "There are patients who cannot undergo conventional treatments because they suffer from depression or anxiety. Our center deals with all stages of cancer. A psychologist is available at no cost, thanks to a donation from the Israel Cancer Association and a job slot funded by the Health Ministry; this service includes medical hypnosis, directed imagery, meditation workshops and preparation for surgery."

Conventional doctors who denigrate complementary medicine claim that patients benefit merely from the "placebo effect" - they think it will help, so it relieves their symptoms.

"There can be a beneficial effect from a placebo; I know that well, as I have a doctorate in psychology. Research shows that some complementary medicine therapies go beyond the placebo effect and have an actual therapeutic benefit. With some of them, we know how they work, and with others, we don't."

Certain herbs, such as the Chinese plant astragulus, have been found to help fight lung cancer along with chemotherapy better than chemotherapy alone. The combination can improve the quality of life and survival rates, says Caspi. "We can help patients whose blood counts are too low for them to be accepted for chemotherapy. So complementary therapy may increase their chance for survival and even indirectly lead to a cure." Supplements such as GLA can boost the anti-cancer effect of Herceptin, taken by breast cancer patients. Ginseng can be effective against fatigue.

CASPI WARNS patients with serious illness who buy supplements at health food stores to be very careful. Only a few products are checked by the government, he states, as food supplements are approved by the Health Ministry only if they don't cause harm, but are not required to prove efficacy and cannot make therapeutic claims.

"Today, almost all quality control is voluntary. There are private importers who care enough and do it, but there are others who do not. Israel is too small a market for there to be local labs testing products. When you go into a health food store, you can get dizzy."

He met recently with the ministry's chief pharmacist, Batya Haran, about requiring supervision of certain non-medical products shown to have therapeutic effects.

"She is in favor, but for this she needs funding."

Caspi and his staff are careful to find out whether cancer patients take food supplements like vitamins, homeopathic solutions and other non-medications. "In many other centers, patients don't tell their doctors what they are taking on the side. But these can also interfere with cancer treatments. It's a two-edged sword. Cancer patients getting radiotherapy mustn't take antioxidant vitamins because these can hurt the efficacy of radiation. We always ask."

The basket of health services does not include complementary medical treatments, but because of its direct connection to Clalit (the country's largest health fund), Caspi's center has agreements for subsidized care to members of its supplementary health insurance plans. But it accepts patients from everywhere, and charges are kept low. For example, the charge for an acupuncture treatment is "rock bottom for an academic institution, at just NIS 150," Caspi says. There are also numerous haredim and Arabs, who generally have lower incomes, among their patients.

The Rabin Medical Center's integrative medicine unit is planning to establish a special place for women's health that would bring together conventional and complementary medicine. He says such treatments can help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), for example. The idea at Rabin is eventually to incorporate integrative medicine for all kinds of problems, from infertility to heart disease and diabetes.

Caspi expects that the Rabin center's success at integrating conventional and complementary medicine will lead to the establishment of similar units in other hospitals. He also hopes for a consumer movement - even a national institution - that will educate the public on how to be healthy. "It's important for there to be pluralism in medicine, but it is a tragedy that there is no informed consumerism to help patients get help. There are campaigns to encourage road safety. Why is there no campaign for wise use of health treatment?" Caspi asks.

"Paternalistic doctors are behind us. With the Internet. everybody turns into a mini-doctor. But while having information is good, much of it is misleading. It's do-it-yourself medicine. But my experience is that what pushes cancer patients to go for complementary therapy is pragmatism, not that they seek holistic therapy. They have needs, and in many cases, we know how to help them."

Tax funds for all religious schools?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1001/p09s02-coop.html

In Canada, voters consider whether they would fund a madrassah or class on creationism

By Rondi Adamson
from the October 1, 2007 edition

Toronto - As election issues go, few would seem less sexy than the issue of school funding. Yet in the Canadian province of Ontario, where an election will be held Oct. 10, the issue of public funding for religious schools, or "faith-based funding," is the hot topic.

Few would say it out loud, but many worry about what would be taught in some Muslim or Christian schools – anti-Semitism? Creationism?

The debates over how to accommodate Canada's binational origins go back to the British North America Act, which entailed the creation of Canada in 1867. As a nod to the English and French Canada of the day, the decision was made to fund two school boards – Protestant and Catholic – up until what was then the end of "common" schools (usually the eighth grade).

The Protestant board has since morphed into the public system, and the Catholic board, while remaining Catholic, has also changed, sharing much curriculum with the public system. In the 1980s, then-premier of Ontario Bill Davis extended public funding of Ontario's Catholic schools to the end of high school. The policy has since been criticized as "discriminatory" by the UN Human Rights Committee.

Canada is no longer merely Catholic and Protestant, of course. And while some Canadian provinces have chosen to publicly fund, in varying degrees, other religious schools, Ontario – now made up of virtually every religious and ethnic group the world has to offer – remains true to the 1867 dictates. And Ontario's Muslims, Jews, Evangelicals – and other groups – are asking, "What about us?"

They have a champion in Ontario's Conservative Party leader John Tory, who has made government funding faith-based schools part of his platform. But he probably didn't count on it becoming – as it has – the focus of his campaign, and he may well regret it come election day. About 3 in 5 Ontarians oppose the measure, according to an Ipsos Reid poll taken this month.

For Mr. Tory, school funding is a way to distinguish himself from his main opponent, Liberal Party leader and Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty. Apart from school funding, the two men are not far apart politically. Mr. McGuinty, recognizing which way the wind is blowing, has grabbed hold of the issue and pushed it front and center, presenting himself as a defender of Canadian traditions.

The only plus for Tory is that the funding issue may help him in vote-rich Toronto, traditionally a Liberal strong-hold. Canada's most populous city is home to a large number of immigrants, many of whom support extending school funding. And therein lies the unspoken worry. Polite, diversity-loving Ontarians may be loath to admit it, but people are concerned about what would be taught in Muslim schools. Would they be funding madrassahs? Subsidizing Holocaust denial? And what about fundamentalist Christian schools? Would they be supporting the teaching of creationism as science?

Supporters of faith-based funding say that since Ontario's publicly funded schools are required to incorporate much of Ontario's public school curriculum, problems of extremism won't arise. The Ministry of Education will keep an eye on things. But expecting government funding to be the cure-all for problems concerning integration is painfully naive. With faith-based funding, every religion that has a school will have a pressure group behind it. The latter is a highly unpalatable scenario. Imagine how far it might go: Why not Wiccan schools? Rosicrucian schools?

With the inherent inequity in the existing model, the appropriate response would be to remove funding from the Catholic schools and amalgamate the school boards. If funding one faith is wrong, then funding many is wrong multiplied. If people want religious educations for their kids, they can pay for private religious schools. Many secular Ontarians, tired of what they view as a left-leaning, politically correct public school system, already pay out of their own pockets to provide an alternative for their children.

But as the saying goes, good luck with that. One hundred and forty years of history and a guarantee in the Constitution are hard walls to come up against. Not to mention that the Catholic School Board is responsible for 30 percent of Ontario's students. Few politicians would have the spine necessary to even suggest scrapping the current system. Intellectually, it makes no sense to me that in 2007, the government should fund one religion. But for the time being, the lesser of two flawed options is to keep the status quo.

• Rondi Adamson is a Canadian writer.

Creationism can be a topic in class

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/01/nbible101.xml

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor Last Updated: 2:16am BST 01/10/2007

Teachers have been given permission to discuss the controversial theory of creationism in science lessons.

Teachers will be expected to contrast creationism with Darwin's theory of evolution

Pupils should be able to ask questions about the theory provided teachers emphasise it has "no underpinning scientific principles", new Government guidance says.

If the subject is raised teachers will be expected to contrast the strict Biblical belief that the Earth was created by God in six days between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Teachers are told to respond "positively and educationally" to such questions and be "respectful of students' views, religious or otherwise".

But the document – drawn up to clarify the rules after Christian academics challenged the teaching of Darwinism in GCSE biology – makes it clear that such beliefs are not "scientifically testable" and are not valid scientific theories.

It is hoped the guidance will help avoid the situation in the United States where some schools – under pressure from the religious Right – have compelled science teachers to introduce lessons in intelligent design, a creationist off-shoot.

The guidance says schools must teach the broad outlines of evolutionary theory to pupils aged five to 14, and focus clearly on the "nature of, and evidence for, evolution" at GCSE and A-level.

Questions about creationism should provide an "opportunity to explain or explore why they are not considered to be scientific theories".

Study: Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-back-pain-acupuncture,1,6228734.story

By CARLA K. JOHNSON | Associated Press Writer

6:44 PM CDT, September 25, 2007

CHICAGO - Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care, German researchers have found. Almost half the patients treated with acupuncture needles felt relief that lasted months. In contrast, only about a quarter of the patients receiving medications and other Western medical treatments felt better.

Even fake acupuncture worked better than conventional care, leading researchers to wonder whether pain relief came from the body's reactions to any thin needle pricks or, possibly, the placebo effect.

"Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain," study co-author Dr. Heinz Endres of Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany, said in an e-mail. "Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain and therefore in their quality of life."

Although the study was not designed to determine how acupuncture works, Endres said, its findings are in line with a theory that pain messages to the brain can be blocked by competing stimuli.

Positive expectations the patients held about acupuncture -- or negative expectations about conventional medicine -- also could have led to a placebo effect and explain the findings, he said.

In the largest experiment on acupuncture for back pain to date, more than 1,100 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional therapy. For the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted, but not as deeply as for the real thing. The sham acupuncture also did not insert needles in traditional acupuncture points on the body and the needles were not manually moved and rotated.

After six months, patients answered questions about pain and functional ability and their scores determined how well each of the therapies worked.

In the real acupuncture group, 47 percent of patients improved. In the sham acupuncture group, 44 percent did. In the usual care group, 27 percent got relief.

"We don't understand the mechanisms of these so-called alternative treatments, but that doesn't mean they don't work," said Dr. James Young of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, who wasn't involved in the research. Young often treats low back pain with acupuncture, combined with exercises and stretches.

Chinese medicine holds that there are hundreds of points on the body that link to invisible pathways for the body's vital energy, or qi. The theory goes that stimulating the correct points with acupuncture needles can release blocked qi.

Dr. Brian Berman, the University of Maryland's director of complementary medicine, said the real and the sham acupuncture may have worked for reasons that can be explained in Western terms: by changing the way the brain processes pain signals or by releasing natural painkillers in the body.

In the study, the conventional treatment included many methods: painkillers, injections, physical therapy, massage, heat therapy or other treatments. Like the acupuncture patients, the patients getting usual care received about 10 sessions of 30 minutes each.

The study, appearing in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, used a broad definition for low back pain, but ruled out people with back pain caused by spinal fractures, tumors, scoliosis and pregnancy.

Funding came from German health insurance companies, and the findings already have led to more coverage in Germany of acupuncture.

In the United States, some health plans cover acupuncture for some conditions, but may require pre-approval, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. An acupuncture session can cost $45 to $100, Young said.

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 21 Sep 07 Washington, DC

EARMARKS: NEW AGE INSTITUTE TAPS INTO DEFENSE DOLLARS.

The House defense-spending bill earmarks $2M for the nonprofit Samueli Institute to research alternative medicine, yoga and "bioenergy" http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn071505.html. A Bloomberg.com story by Brian Faler says the institute was started by Henry Samueli, Chairman of Broadcom Corp., and his wife, Susan. The earmark was inserted by Peter Visclosky (D-IN) who has received large campaign contributions from the Samuelis. In Washington, you get what you pay for.

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

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

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 14 Sep 07 Washington, DC

WARNING! TURN OFF THE RADAR BEFORE THE OCEAN IGNITES.

All week long I've been getting URLs, for which I'm grateful, about some guy in Erie, PA who discovered a way to burn salt water. It's an AP story, but the warning signs are all there: Described as a "cancer researcher," the protagonist built an RF generator with the idea of killing cancers by heating metallic nanoparticles injected into the cancer. I guarantee that it's possible to kill cancers with RF, along with the host. Anyway, he's not exactly a cancer researcher, he's a retired TV station engineer who discovered that retirement sucks - but that's been discovered before. He then decided to see if his RF generator would desalinate water, but when he tried the water caught on fire. He needed a scientist. Instead, he found Rustum Roy, an emeritus chemistry professor at Penn State, who called it "the most remarkable discovery in water science in 100 years." That would include "polywater," which Roy fell for 40 years ago. Roy said that RF weakens chemical bonds, releasing hydrogen which burns. It's the Bush "hydrogen initiative" fallacy again http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN03/wn013103.html . Must I now lecture a chemistry professor on thermodynamics? More energy is needed to free hydrogen than you get by burning it. The story was shunned by major news outlets, except, of course, Fox News, which did point out that Rustum Roy is also "a specialist in holistic medicine and Christian sexuality."

CLIMATE CRAP: A SEQUEL BY THE "SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST."

Bjorn Lomborg's "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming" is out. Well, yes it is getting warmer he finds, but aside from polar bears, it just means more beach weather. We've got bigger problems, he says. Instead of spending all that money trying to prevent warming, let's focus on making everyone rich so they can all buy air conditioners.

CLIMATE RESEARCH: HOW WILL CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT PEOPLE?

A National Research Council Report released yesterday, says that's the big unanswered question. The report laments that, "The loss of existing and planned satellite sensors is perhaps the greatest single threat" to climate research.

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

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

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 28 Sep 07 Washington, DC

EARMARKS: SENATOR VITTER (R-LA) BATTLES DARWINISM.

Poor Larry Craig (R-ID) fumbled. Busted for foot tapping in the men's room, he first pled guilty and then denied it. But when the phone number of "moral-values" Senator David Vitter showed up in the "client" book of a D.C Madam, he knew just what to do: he immediately repented. He understood, as Craig did not, that fundamentalist Christians love a sinner who repents; the more times they sin and repent the better. As a token of repentance, Vitter earmarked $100,000 of taxpayer's money for the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote science education." That's Family-Forum talk for "get Darwin out of the schools." Ironically, Darwin's theory explains why Vitter sinned.

LIES: EVOLUTIONISTS ARE VICTIMS OF A "BAIT AND SWITCH."

A story by Cornelia Dean in yesterday's NY Times described the production of a documentary titled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Leading Darwinists were interviewed, but they had been misled about the name and purpose of the film and they're pissed. The film, set to open in February, is described as "a startling revelation that freedom of thought and inquiry have been expelled" from public educational institutions. It cites the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, author of The Privileged Planet http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn060305.html. The book is a daffy twist on the already daffy anthropic principle. To paraphrase: "If things were different than the way things are, things would not be the same." Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State for the reason anyone is denied tenure: department members didn't want him as a colleague. They made a good decision.

BALANCE: CLIMATE FEEDBACK MAY NOT BE AS BAD AS THOUGHT.

One of the global warming nightmares is that thawing permafrost might release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This positive feedback would accelerate warming. A group led by M. Turetsky of Michigan State found that new plant growth in thawing Canadian peat bogs more than offset the release of methane.

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

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