NTS LogoSkeptical News for 22 November 2007

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Not in Our Classrooms lauded in BioScience

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/ZZ/254_emnot_in_our_classroomsem_11_20_2007.asp

Randy Moore reviewed Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools for BioScience (November 2007; 57 [10]: 885-886), writing (PDF), "Not in Our Classrooms is a small, impressive book that will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the various aspects of 'intelligent design' and the evolution-creationism debate." He was especially enthusiastic about Scott's contribution ("one of the best summaries available for the history of the modern controversy") and Jay Wexler's contribution on the legal issues surrounding the evolution/creationism ("should be required reading for all teachers, school administrators, and school-board members"). Moore concluded, "Not in Our Classrooms is a powerful, accessible introduction to the many facets of intelligent design. ... If you read just one book about this subject, read this one. Then give the book to others and urge them to do the same." Moore is a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota.

Not in Our Classrooms was edited by NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott and deputy director Glenn Branch, and contains essays by them as well as by Nicholas J. Matzke (also of NCSE) and Paul R. Gross, Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters, Jay D. Wexler, and Brian Alters (a member of NCSE's board of directors). The foreword was contributed by the Reverend Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Praising the book, Bill Nye the Science Guy wrote, "If you're concerned about scientific literacy, read this book. The authors of Not in Our Classrooms are authorities on the various battles fought over the teaching of evolution -- biology's fundamental discovery." If you order your copy now from Beacon Press, you receive a 10% discount -- just enter NCSE in the discount code field. And if you want postcards advertising Not in Our Classrooms to distribute, please get in touch with the NCSE office.

November 20, 2007

J. Michael Bodi: Creationist bugaboo back again

http://www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_bodi21_11-21-07_2D7RJA8_v30.2a79ab3.html

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, November 21, 2007

J. MICHAEL BODI

WE THOUGHT that the religious view of science called "intelligent design" was dead. Suddenly resurrected, it is sparring once again with evolutionary principles. While this theological position is rallying in the classroom, we are at war with religious fanatics in nations where there is no separation of religion and state.

We should not be surprised that this concept is back. After all, polls say that up to 48 percent of Americans are skeptical about evolutionary theory. Creationists and evolutionists have been arguing since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, in 1859. And both sides are about to square off once again with the release of two new documentaries.

We watched the demise of a theological view of creation when its being taught in a public-school classroom was ruled unconstitutional. The decision made history, and the school board promoting intelligent design was voted out of power. The judge in the case, appointed by George W. Bush, became the target of death threats.

The new PBS/NOVA documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial depicts how the Dover, Pa., school board maneuvered creationism as science into the curriculum. But U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III stated that teaching intelligent design in a biology class was teaching "creationism in disguise," and therefore the school violated the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In February, Ben Stein's documentary Expelled will open in theaters nationwide. Stein confronts top scientists, educators and philosophers, claiming that they are persecuting academics who support intelligent design and so denying them their First Amendment rights. He has received significant airtime on conservative television programs, such as The O'Reilly Factor and GodTube.

Despite one's religious persuasion or lack thereof, children have a right to an education based on sound, scientific fact. Biology Prof. Kenneth Miller, of Brown University, reported to be a devout Catholic, famously defends this view. He is the author of Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.

The fundamental argument for intelligent design revolves around gaps in evolutionary theory in particular and in science in general. Basically, if the scientist says "we don't know," the advocates for intelligent design declare that God is responsible. It is obvious, they say, that the complexity of life underscores an intelligent design or "invisible hand." The logic of the argument then states that since God has a hand in science then God should be present in the science curriculum. God is science.

Many scientists and secularists are appalled at the contrivances of those who push their creationist views. But those of us who teach and lead in the schools might see this as a way for our children to think more critically about global issues.

The Economist recently noted: "Faith will unsettle politics everywhere this century; it will do so least when it is separated from the state."

Ambassador Charles Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (a state in which a religion, Islam, is supposed to run things), pointed out to us that "our ancestors left Europe to get away from the rule of church and state, and to reunite church and state now is inconsistent with our history." He added, "Anyone knowing anything about Rhode Island, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson should be very worried. It is not the doctrine of creationism per se that is a problem, it is giving it quasi-official status. This year creationism; next year it could be something else. We cannot afford to be installing any religious doctrine as something officially endorsed in our schools and by our government."

Some weeks ago Osama bin Laden preached that the American people should all convert to Islam. Bill O'Reilly preached First Amendment rights with regard to teaching creationism in the classroom. The Earth must be flat indeed.

How does this "separation of church and state" idea work? What does it really mean to our liberty? What does it mean for our students? School curricula must be focused on the world, how it works and does not work. Students should be practicing how to solve problems. And they must learn to debate the issues. But to do so, they require an education based on a solid foundation of facts.

If they learn the views discussed in these two films, they might think about how politics and religion can be understood together and separately. Further, they might comprehend how intelligent design and evolution touch upon bigger world issues, come to appreciate the value of science literacy, and perhaps understand how power, politics and religion tried unsuccessfully to usurp science.

J. Michael Bodi is an associate professor at Bridgewater State College, in the Department of Secondary Education and Professional Programs. Rita Watson collaborated with him on this column.

Utah Foots the Bill for Ailing Cops' Controversial Scientology-Based Detox Treatment

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312332,00.html

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
By Sara Bonisteel

Nov. 7: Ailing meth cops sweat it out at an Orem, Utah, clinic.

A controversial Church of Scientology treatment used on World Trade Center emergency responders is being used in Utah to "detoxify" cops who raided methamphetamine labs in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Utah Meth Cops Project is treating around a dozen former and current police officers at taxpayers' expense, using a regime devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard at a Bio-Cleansing Centers of America facility in Orem, Utah.

State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff brought the project west after seeing it used to treat emergency workers in New York who were injured working at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

More than 800 rescue and recovery workers who had complained of respiratory ailments have been treated at the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project in Manhattan, using funds raised by Scientologists including actor Tom Cruise.

The Hubbard protocol has its critics, despite anecdotal evidence from responders who said the treatment has made them feel better.

"There is no demonstrated efficacy or effectiveness for that protocol," said Raymond Harbison, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of South Florida's School of Public Health. "That is, there's no demonstration that that protocol speeds the release of substances associated with meth labs from one's body."

The Utah program — funded with an initial $50,000 grant from the state — is being run in conjunction with a $500,000 study into the causal link between chemicals in meth labs and respiratory ailments suffered by around 110 ailing meth cops in the state.

"Anecdotal stories, to me, is enough, I mean cops who say they couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to breathe now can," Shurtleff said. "That's pretty good evidence, but we want more scientific evidence, mostly to assist the study in Utah that there is a causal connection."

Dr. Gerald H. Ross, the director of the program, said the use of this treatment on meth cops is a first.

"To most people and to a lot of physicians, [it] sounds like a lot of hokum, but believe me it's not," Ross said. "There's really quite an accumulation of scientific publications that show the reduction of chemical residue in people who have this kind of therapy."

At the Orem clinic, the men take a vitamin cocktail that includes B-3 or niacin and spend 20 to 25 minutes stretching in a 160-degree sauna for a nearly four-hour period to help the body release toxins that may be stored in the body, Ross said.

The program, which has been up and running for a little over a month, is designed for about 30 days of treatment, seven days a week, but it can be modified depending on the patient, Ross said.

"The saying is out there: 'You don't see any old meth cooks' because they're all dead," said Kelly Call, 53, a retired officer with the Utah Department of Public Safety who is participating in the Utah Meth Cops Project. "They don't live; there's got to be a reason for that."

Call said that 27 days of treatment at the Utah Meth Cops Project have curbed his constant headaches, short-term memory loss, tinnitus and Barrett's esophagus, a disorder caused by acid reflux. He blames all his ailments on the meth raids.

"I started back in the mid-'80s, when we didn't even have rubber gloves," Call said. "We went into those with our teeny runners, our cutoffs and our tank tops."

Lt. Al Acosta of the Utah Department of Public Safety blames his muscle tremors, headaches, chest pains and difficulty breathing on the more than 300 labs he's raided in his nearly 20-year career.

He said one whiff of his sweat — with bouquets of ammonia or cat urine, depending on the day — is enough to tell him he's expelling those chemicals.

"Whoever the skeptical people are [should] come here and just take a whiff of the odors that we're putting off," Acosta said. "I don't think we normally smell this way."

But Harbison said it's unlikely the men are sweating out chemicals they were exposed to days, months and even years ago in the meth lab.

"You would not expect the chemicals that are associated with meth labs to stay in your body for that long of a period of time," he said.

Shurtleff said that before he brought the program to Utah, he needed assurances that the officers wouldn't be proselytized by Scientologists. The only Scientologists involved, he added, are fundraisers.

"It's a completely secular program," Ross said.

Scientology only comes up in social banter, Acosta said.

"We make jokes about Tom Cruise coming to visit us," he said.

Shurtleff shirks off any taxpayer worry about the cost of the program. He plans to appropriate an additional $140,000 to complete the treatment for 20 of the worst cases and hopes to raise private money to finance the rest of the treatments for the others.

"Hopefully it will ultimately result in worker's compensation to be authorized for these officers and their families."

Scientists track early evolution of sight to hydras

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003998277_blob07.html

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - Page updated at 02:05 AM

By Robert S. Boyd
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Scientists have traced the origin of eyes back to a transparent blob of living jelly floating in the sea about 600 million years ago.

That creature, the distant ancestor of a modern freshwater animal known as a hydra, could only distinguish light from dark.

But that was such an advantage that it was passed on from generation to generation of the hydra's cousins and their myriad descendants. It was the precursor of the wildly different, ever more complex eyes of fish, ants, flies, giraffes and people.

The hydra work was reported last month in the journal PLoS ONE by biologists David Plachetzki and Todd Oakley, of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

It helps solve one of the puzzles of Darwinian evolution, the process by which a complex organ such as an eye could arise by random genetic mutations and natural selection.

"These results are significant in advancing our understanding of the early evolution of sight in animals," said Jerry Cook, a program director at the National Science Foundation, which financed the work.

In their research, Oakley and Plachetzki discovered that a gene, opsin — after the Greek word "ops," meaning "eye" — exists in hydras but not in sponges, an even more primitive animal.

The scientists calculated that opsin genes appeared about 600 million years ago, because that's when the evolutionary branch that led to modern hydras split from the line that led to sponges.

Opsin genes direct the production of light-sensitive proteins, also called opsins, that coat the surface of a hydra, especially around the mouth. The opsin proteins would help these simple animals tell night from day and perhaps help them find food.

"Hydra probably uses its light sensitivity to find prey," Oakley said.

According to Oakley, the opsin proteins must have evolved from earlier "signaling" proteins that send chemical messages to other proteins. Signaling proteins exist in all living creatures, from single-celled bacteria to humans.

Other biologists commended Oakley's work. "It makes sense that oceangoing animals such as [the hydra's ancestors] would use light detection to orient themselves or regulate a body clock," said Sean Carroll, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Science teaching getting a face-lift

http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071107/NEWS01/71107005/1010

Originally published November 7, 2007
By TaMaryn Waters
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

For the first time in more than 10 years, Florida is revamping the way science is taught in schools — and the public can have a say about how it's done.

Another first is the possibility of evolution and creationism being an official part of those science standards.

A public forum is set for tonight. The proposed science standards are also listed on the Florida Department of Education's Web site, along with an online forum.

The state Board of Education will finalize the standards early next year. Dec. 14 is the last day the public can comment.

The current standards do not include evolution or creationism, said Debra Thomas, science-development coordinator for the Leon County school district.

Thomas said science standards will be geared toward each grade.

Shannon Lynch, assistant superintendent of curriculum instruction, said the standards will give teachers a chance teach science more in-depth instead of rushing through a check-off list of things that need to be taught by the end of the school year.

She said the district is not tiptoeing in the potential debate that could trigger strong feelings on science verses religion.

"I think teachers are very, very careful to respect students' belief," Lynch said. "Things are handled on an indivudal basis."

Contact Reporter TaMaryn Waters at (850) 599-2162 or tlwaters@tallahassee.com.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Battlefield Report From the Evolution War

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/arts/television/11dean.html

By CORNELIA DEAN
Published: November 11, 2007

WHEN Paula Apsell first heard about the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, she did not consider it a good subject for "Nova," the science series she produces for public television.

A scene from "Judgment Day," a documentary made for "Nova" on PBS.

For one thing, she said in a recent interview, she had no desire to wade into the "nasty" issue that was at the heart of the lawsuit: whether it is constitutionally acceptable for public schools to teach, as an alternative to the theory of evolution, the idea that life is too complex to have evolved without supernatural intervention, a notion called intelligent design.

"Nova" had already run an eight-part series on evolution, in 2001. And in the making of it, she recalled, she and her colleagues had felt "really assaulted" by criticism from creationists and their ideological allies, including advocates of intelligent design.

But then, she said, she started to read news accounts of the six-week trial, held in central Pennsylvania in the fall of 2005. She read the court transcripts too. She remembered that in many polls almost half of Americans said they did not accept evolution. "As someone concerned about science literacy, that concerns me — a lot," she said.

And she thought that there was plenty of drama to be found in the stories of the science teachers in Dover, Pa., who refused to obey when the school board instructed them to present intelligent design as an antidote to Darwin; the parents who sued the board; a community divided by religion and politics; and a court full of witnesses who, though they did not rival the Scopes trial protagonists William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow for rhetorical flair, offered an abundance of spectacle.

And finally there was the judge who heard the case, John E. Jones III, a Republican appointed to the federal bench by President Bush. In a blunt verdict Judge Jones condemned the school board members' position as "breathtakingly inane," cast doubt on the honesty of some of their testimony and ruled that intelligent design was a religious creed with no place in a public school science class.

It was too good to pass up, Ms. Apsell said. The result is "Judgment Day," a two-hour "Nova" segment that will have its premiere on PBS on Tuesday. With interviews and courtroom re-enactments, the film takes viewers through the trial, illuminating the theory of evolution, the flaws of intelligent design, the politics of those who back it and the course the case ran in Dover.

Though prominent intelligent design theorists and their allies speak on camera, and their testimony, like that of the scientists, is re-enacted (no cameras were allowed in court), the program as a whole recognizes that there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.

And it shows how witnesses attacked two of the central premises of intelligent design — that there are no "intermediate" fossils to show one creature morphing into another (there are) and that some body parts are too complex to have formed from the modification of other body parts (not true). But viewers also learn a more important lesson: that all science is provisional, standing only until it is overturned by better information. Intelligent design, relying as it does on an untestable supernatural entity, does not fall into that category.

Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, provides a dramatic moment when she is shown searching for creationist ideas in documents provided by the defense. She realizes that "Pandas and People," the book that advocates of intelligent design recommended as a supplementary text, had undergone a change after the United States Supreme Court ruled, in 1987, that creationism was a religious doctrine with no place in public schools. All references to "creationism" had been changed to "intelligent design."

By the time testimony in the case ended, it was clear the parents would win, said Kenneth R. Miller, a biologist at Brown University. Dr. Miller was a witness for the plaintiffs and the author of a textbook that one board member had denounced as "laced with Darwinism." He said Judge Jones came to view the defendants "like the referee at a prize fight, looking at one contender knocked out and unconscious on the canvas."

Though the film ends with the verdict and with news that the school board was ousted at the next election, no one says the case has ended the battle over the teaching of evolution.

"A thousand opinions" could not do that, the lead defense lawyer, Richard Thompson, said after Judge Jones's verdict. Mr. Thompson is president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, a firm in Michigan whose Web site says it promotes, among other things, the "religious freedom of Christians."

One indication that he is right is that "Judgment Day" is not the only new documentary on the issue. "Flock of Dodos," which views the evolution wars through the prism of a dispute in Kansas over intelligent design, is being shown on Showtime; its director, Randy Olson, is an evolutionary biologist turned filmmaker. And "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," which argues that "big science" has wrongly driven intelligent design from public school classrooms, is scheduled to be released on Darwin's birthday, in February.

Dr. Miller said the next big fight might take place in Texas, where science standards are under review. But like others filmed for "Judgment Day," he said much depended, there and elsewhere in the nation, on teachers. Professor Forrest agreed. In Dover the teachers were crucial, she said, because "they faced down the school board and said, 'We are not going to do this because it is not right.'"

Former pilots and officials call for new U.S. UFO probe

http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKN1248419720071112

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich may have been ridiculed for saying he had seen a UFO, but for some former military pilots and other observers, unidentified flying objects are no laughing matter.

An international panel of two dozen former pilots and government officials called on the U.S. government on Monday to reopen its generation-old UFO investigation as a matter of safety and security given continuing reports about flying discs, glowing spheres and other strange sightings.

"Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns ... which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters," they said in a statement released at a news conference.

The panellists from seven countries, including former senior military officers, said they had each seen a UFO or conducted an official investigation into UFO phenomena.

The subject of UFOs grabbed the spotlight in the U.S. presidential race last month when Kucinich, a member of Congress from Ohio, said during a televised debate with other Democratic candidates that he had seen one.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter are both reported to have claimed UFO sightings.

Most turn out to be misidentified aircraft, satellites or meteors. A panellist who once worked for Britain's Ministry of Defense said 5 percent of incidents cannot be explained.

But the sightings are often dismissed by authorities without proper investigations, UFO activists say.

"It's a question of who you going to believe: your lying eyes or the government?" remarked John Callahan, a former Federal Aviation Administration investigator, who said the CIA in 1987 tried to hush up the sighting of a huge lighted ball four times the size of a jumbo jet in Alaska.

The panel, organized by a group dedicated to winning credibility for the study of UFOs, urged Washington to resume UFO investigations through the U.S. Air Force or NASA.

"It would certainly, I think, take a lot of angst out of this issue," said former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, who said he was among hundreds who saw a delta-shaped craft with enormous lights silently traverse the sky near Phoenix in 1997.

The Air Force investigated 12,618 UFO reports from 1947 to 1969 in what was known as Project Blue Book. Investigators concluded that the incidents posed no threat and there was no evidence of space aliens or a super technology in operation.

"Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations," the Air Force said on its Web site.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Joanne Kenen, David Alexander, Stuart Grudgings)

© Reuters2007

Creation Museum Surpasses Year-Long Attendance Goal in Less Than 6 Months

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071105/29958_Creation_Museum_Surpasses_Year-Long_Attendance_Goal_in_Less_Than_6_Months.htm

By Lawrence Jones Christian Post Reporter

Mon, Nov. 05 2007 05:33 AM ET

A 60,000 square-foot museum that teaches about the literal six days of Creation has proven to be more popular than expected, surpassing its projected first-year attendance in less than six months since its opening.

The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. welcomed its 250,000th visitor on Friday, reported Ken Ham, founder of Answers of Genesis, the evangelical group behind the $27 million facility.

"We praise the Lord for this," said Ham in his Nov. 3 blog entry on the organization's website. "I still remember the mocking of certain people in the secular world that the Museum would fail as people would not be interested – and some in the Christian world who said it would be a white elephant!"

Officials now expect nearly 400,000 people to come to the Cincinnati-area museum by the year's end, reported The Courier-Journal. The museum averages 1,500 to 4,000 visitors per day.

Museum spokeswoman Melany Ethridge credited the positive response to the dramatic exhibits and ongoing media interest from Europe and elsewhere.

Around 10,000 people have paid for year-round access but the museum still relies partly on donations.

The facility opened on Memorial Day earlier this year amid protests and petitions.

Museum visionaries had designed the anti-evolution exhibits to reflect their belief in Young Earth creationism – a literal interpretation of Genesis that claims the world is only 6,000 years old, dinosaurs appeared on the same day God created other land animals, and geologic features such as the Grand Canyon and fossils were created in a global flood during the time of Noah.

Non-Christians and Christians alike have criticized the way museum organizers framed scientific evidence to support views attributed to the Bible.

Others have praised the museum for representing their worldview of creation.

Despite all the controversy, Ham has expressed his gratitude to both supporters and protestors for all the publicity – positive and negative.

Scientists Find Fossil of Enormous Bug

http://www.examiner.com/a-1060855~Scientists_Find_Fossil_of_Enormous_Bug.html

LONDON (Map, News) - This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on. British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.

"This is an amazing discovery," he said Tuesday.

The research found a type of sea scorpion that was almost half a yard longer than previous estimates and the largest one ever to have evolved.

The study, published online Tuesday in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, means that before this sea scorpion became extinct it was much longer than today's average man is tall.

Prof. Jeorg W. Schneider, a paleontologist at Freiberg Mining Academy in southeastern Germany, said the study provides valuable new information about "the last of the giant scorpions."

Schneider, who was not involved in the study, said these scorpions "were dominant for millions of years because they didn't have natural enemies. Eventually they were wiped out by large fish with jaws and teeth."

Braddy's partner paleontologist Markus Poschmann found the claw fossil several years ago in a quarry near Prum, Germany, that probably had once been an ancient estuary or swamp.

"I was loosening pieces of rock with a hammer and chisel when I suddenly realized there was a dark patch of organic matter on a freshly removed slab. After some cleaning I could identify this as a small part of a large claw," said Poschmann, another author of the study.

"Although I did not know if it was more complete or not, I decided to try and get it out. The pieces had to be cleaned separately, dried, and then glued back together. It was then put into a white plaster jacket to stabilize it," he said.

Eurypterids, or ancient sea scorpions, are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of today's scorpions and possibly all arachnids, a class of joint-legged, invertebrate animals, including spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks.

Braddy said the fossil was from a Jaekelopterus Rhenaniae, a kind of scorpion that lived only in Germany for about 10 million years, about 400 million years ago.

He said some geologists believe that gigantic sea scorpions evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others suspect they evolved in an "arms race" alongside their likely prey, fish that had armor on their outer bodies.

Braddy said the sea scorpions also were cannibals that fought and ate one other, so it helped to be as big as they could be.

"The competition between this scorpion and its prey was probably like a nuclear standoff, an effort to have the biggest weapon," he said. "Hundreds of millions of years ago, these sea scorpions had the upper hand over vertebrates - backboned animals like ourselves."

That competition ended long ago.

But the next time you swat a fly, or squish a spider at home, Braddy said, try to "think about the insects that lived long ago. You wouldn't want to swat one of those."

On the Net: http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press

'Miracle machine' scams desperately ill

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-112007-fraud,1,3659745.story

By Michael J. Berens and Christine Wilmsen | Seattle Times

10:59 AM CST, November 20, 2007

Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Post Comment Text size: In the late 1980s, an out-of-work math instructor in Colorado built an electronic device he claimed could diagnose and destroy disease -- everything from allergies to cancer -- by firing radio frequencies into the body.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical devices, ordered William Nelson to quit selling his machine and making false claims. Nelson refused, and he was indicted on felony fraud charges. He fled the country, never to return.

That should have been the unremarkable end of another peddler of medical miracles.

Today, Nelson, 56, orchestrates one of America's boldest health-care frauds from a century-old building in Budapest, Hungary. Protected by barred gates, surveillance cameras and guards, he rakes in tens of millions of dollars selling a machine used to exploit the vulnerable and desperately ill.

This device is called the EPFX. In the U.S. alone, Nelson has sold more than 10,000 of them.

Nelson built his business by recruiting a sales force of physicians, chiropractors, nurses and thousands of unlicensed providers, from homemakers to retirees, drawn by the promise of easy money.

Nelson is just one profiteer, with one device.

A Seattle Times investigation has uncovered a global network of manufacturers who sell unproven devices, and practitioners who prey on unsuspecting patients.

Capitalizing on weak government oversight, they have used these devices -- some illegal, others potentially dangerous -- to drain patients' bank accounts, misdiagnose diseases, and divert critically ill people from life-saving care.

These victims are casualties in the growing field called "energy medicine" -- alternative therapies based on the belief that the body has energy fields that can be manipulated to improve health. Energy devices range from handheld machines the size of television remotes to behemoth machines that weigh hundreds of pounds, with costs ranging from $1,200 to $55,000.

Many manufacturers and operators do follow FDA rules and disclose that treatments are unproven. But The Seattle Times' investigation, based on government records and more than 200 interviews, found thousands who skirt the law. Among its findings:

--FDA officials do not know how many energy-medicine devices exist, where they are used and even whether they are safe. Ten years ago, Congress reduced medical-device oversight. Ever since, most energy-device manufacturers who register with the FDA submit little more than basic contact information.

--Federal and state regulators failed to warn the public about a dangerous energy device, the PAP-IMI, which is linked to patient injuries and death. Nor did they confiscate all of the devices, which pulse the body with strong electromagnetic waves. They had been smuggled into the country as seed germinators. The PAP-IMI remains in use today in at least five states.

--Many energy-medicine operators dupe the public by posing as highly trained health-care professionals through the use of deceptive credentials and unaccredited degrees. Some of the largest and seemingly independent credentialing organizations are in fact controlled by two men who run competing mail-order operations.

FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley said the agency is looking into the EPFX, based on The Seattle Times' findings.

Medical charlatans have used energy devices in this country for more than a century.

In the past decade, the machines exploded into the mainstream, fueled by the Internet, which quickly and cheaply reached prospective buyers and patients.

Today, dozens of energy-device manufacturers present flashy Web sites with video testimonials and fake science.

"The message itself has stayed the same for centuries: 'This is the cure that I discovered and it's backed with testimonials from lots of people snatched from the grave by using it,'" said James Whorton, professor of medical history at the University of Washington's School of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health says research in the area of energy medicine may hold promise, but so far none of the devices, or their treatments, has been scientifically validated.

"Undoubtedly, there's a lot of quackery," Whorton said. "They will tell you what you want to hear. The average person isn't educated or trained to be able to evaluate these therapies critically."

In a clinic in Tulsa, Okla., JoAnn Burggraf, 58, sat in an oversized armchair as she was hooked up to an EPFX.

Clinic owner Sigrid Myers, who was trained on the device in Seattle, wrapped black straps containing electrodes around Burggraf's forehead, wrists and ankles. The straps were connected to the shoe-box-sized EPFX, which plugged into a desktop computer.

Myers used the EPFX to scan and analyze Burggraf's body. Burggraf watched as the monitor displayed bright-colored graphics representing parts of her body that Myers said were unhealthy.

Then, Myers recounted, she set the EPFX to "zap mode" and transmitted imperceptible, low-level frequencies through the electrodes and into Burggraf's body.

She and her husband, Jerry Burggraf, owned a successful cleaning and restoration company in Tulsa. He developed leukemia and underwent chemotherapy. In 2004, he began EPFX treatments, hoping to stop the disease.

He died in March 2005 at age 59.

Her husband endured painful side effects from the chemotherapy. After that, she distrusted doctors. She started EPFX sessions, at $60 an hour, seeking relief from pain in her joints and legs.

"I begged her to go to the hospital," her son, Bryan Burggraf, 37, said. "Mom told me this device would make her well."

But her pain grew worse, becoming so intense that she frequently blacked out. In October 2005, Bryan finally convinced his mother that she needed to go to a hospital immediately. She was so weak and sick, with inflamed, open sores on her legs, that she eventually had to be transported by helicopter.

She died within hours of admission. Tests showed that her body had been devastated by undiagnosed leukemia.

Her son said doctors speculated that his parents were exposed to now-banned solvents used in their restoration business.

"I'm outraged that this fraudulent device is still out there," Burggraf said. "If my mom had gone to the hospital earlier there may have been hope. If nothing else, she would not have died in incredible pain."

Myers, a massage therapist, has no formal medical training or college degree. But on the wall of her home clinic were half a dozen framed certificates that bestowed her with health-care titles and credentials such as "naturopathic doctor."

"We're not supposed to say it, legally, but it can zap away disease," she told a reporter who visited the clinic. Asked why the EPFX did not cure JoAnn Burggraf, Myers tearfully explained: "I had just a few days of training. I really didn't know what I was doing."

Now she says she's more experienced.

Myers continues to treat patients in her home office with a newer EPFX. She persuaded an elderly patient to buy the machine for her, which cost $12,000. In exchange, Myers said, she didn't charge the woman for EPFX sessions to treat her heart disease.

That patient died, too.

Last year, at an international EPFX conference in Budapest, William Nelson bounded to a stage in front of a cheering crowd of several hundred -- operators of the machine or those hoping to buy one. They rose to their feet and applauded.

He explained how he had used the EPFX to cure cancer and AIDS.

"It helps that I'm a genius," he told them.

But nothing is what it appears with Nelson, including his appearance. On stage, he wore a white dress, heels and heavy makeup.

"Judge the teaching, not the teacher," he told the crowd in a soothing baritone. Nelson is a polished performer -- funny, confident, commanding the tools of a natural-born salesman.

Later, under his stage name Desire Dubounet, he sang rock songs at his lounge, Club Bohemian Alibi. This is the Nelson that few patients ever learn about.

From his restored, five-story building in downtown Budapest, Nelson operates the main EPFX business, Eclosion, and lives with his fifth wife and 8-year-old son. He has a personal staff of about a dozen, including a cook, hairdresser, nanny, security guards and chauffeurs.

From his movie production studio, he has created films that portray him as the crusader of alternative medicine and the FDA as the corrupt villain.

He said he has sold 17,000 EPFX devices worldwide. They now cost $19,900 each.

Nelson makes extraordinary claims about his life. He said he worked as a contractor for NASA, helping to save the troubled Apollo 13 mission as a teenager. He boasts that he was an alternate member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. He says he has eight doctorates, including degrees in medicine and law.

None of it checks out. NASA has no record of his employment; he was not an Olympic athlete. And his "degrees" came from unaccredited schools and mail-order businesses. In truth, at age 33, Nelson was a part-time mathematics instructor at Youngstown State University in Ohio, according to school records.

As an avid "Star Trek" fan and father of an autistic son, Nelson became obsessed with creating a space-age device that melded modern mathematics with alternative therapies to heal the body.

In 1984, he moved his family to Colorado, where he started to sell his homemade medical device, called the Electro-Physio-Feedback-Xrroid System, or the EPFX. Nelson registered his company with the FDA in 1989 as a maker of biofeedback machines, meaning he could sell them only as stress-relieving tools. By law, he could not claim the devices diagnosed or treated disease.

But Nelson did it anyway. In 1992, the agency ordered him to stop making false claims, then later ordered a recall of the EPFX. But Nelson continued to sell it as a healing machine.

He was indicted on nine counts of felony fraud in 1996 and fled the U.S. Eclosion remains registered with the FDA.

Today, Nelson's sales empire reaches across 32 countries with dozens of distributors, brokers and trainers in the U.S. Top sellers can get hefty commissions, tropical cruises and BMW sedans. ------ (Seattle Times staff reporter Sonia Krishnan and researchers David Turim and Gene Balk contributed to this report.) ------ (c) 2007, The Seattle Times.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Majority Opposes Science Proposal

http://www.theledger.com/article/20071120/NEWS/711200414/1039

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Polk School Board Leans Toward Inclusion of Intelligent Design

By John Chambliss The Ledger

LAKELAND | A majority of Polk County School Board members say they support teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution in public schools.

Plan to Require Evolution To Be Taught in Schools Board members Tim Harris, Margaret Lofton and Hazel Sellers said they oppose proposed science standards for Florida schools that lists evolution and biological diversity as one of the "big ideas" that students need to know for a well-grounded science education.

Board member Kay Fields said last week she wants intelligent design, which is promoted by some Christian groups, taught in science classes in addition to evolution.

"If it ever comes to the board for a vote, I will vote against the teaching of evolution as part of the science curriculum," Lofton said. "If (evolution) is taught, I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well."

The board's majority opinion is at odds with many in Florida's scientific community who strongly support the new, more rigorous science standards, and say intelligent design lacks scientific credibility.

Evolution, the theory that biological life developed and diversified through small changes over millions of years, is opposed by some evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews who believe in a literal biblical interpretation of the Earth's creation. Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher force.

It's unclear how the opposition by the School Board will pan out if the new standards are adopted by the state. Only Lofton has said she would vote against the evolution measure if it comes up for a vote. Others have said that it's too early to comment before the new standards are in place.

Board members Frank O'Reilly and Brenda Reddout said they were unwilling to endorse intelligent design over evolution. Board member Lori Cunningham said she hasn't made up her mind.

The School Board could discuss the issue at its meeting today at 1:30 p.m. in Bartow. Two members of Florida Citizens of Science, a group that favors the new standards, are scheduled to speak to the board.

Jonathan Smith, a retired engineer from Lakeland and member of the board of directors for Florida Citizens of Science, and Joe Wolf, president of the group, plan to tell the board that intelligent design is a religious concept, not scientific theory. Smith said that he will remind the board of what occurred in Dover, Pa., in 2005 when school board members there wanted intelligent design taught in classrooms.

U.S. District Judge John Jones barred the teaching of intelligent design in Dover, saying it is "creationism in disguise." In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require public schools to balance evolution lessons by teaching creationism.

The school district in Dover ended up spending more than a million dollars on court fees after losing the lawsuit.

"You can't teach two sides when there isn't a second side," Smith said. "There isn't."

Smith said that board members may not understand the implications of fighting the new standards."Are they going to teach intelligent design and have a million-dollar lawsuit?" Smith asked. "I doubt that."

The current Sunshine State Standards do not explicitly use the term evolution, stating instead that students should learn about "biological changes over time."

The new standards are designed to provide more coherence in science classes and allow for teachers to cover subjects in more depth.

Polk school Superintendent Gail McKinzie said she thinks evolution is a theory and intelligent design a belief.

The district, McKinzie said, will be forced to accept the new standards if the state Board of Education adopts them unless board members "want to make a court case out of it."

The Board of Education will vote in January whether to adopt the new standards.

If the standards are adopted, local school boards in opposition will have the option of going to court, School Board Attorney Wes Bridges said.

"If the board has difficulty with the result, we will have to assess what their options may be," Bridges said. "From time to time, they are asked to do things that they don't want to do."

Bridges said the Pennsylvania case may have some influence in Florida but would not be binding.

"I know that philosophically people tend to come down in one camp or the other," Bridges said. "It seems to me that it would be wise that whatever we are teaching should be in line with the Sunshine State standards."

Despite the Pennsylvania case, some school board members want both intelligent design and evolution taught in Polk schools. They say they have received numerous e-mails and phone calls in support of intelligent design.

"My tendency would be to have both sides shared with students since neither side can be proven," Tim Harris said.

"I don't have a conflict with intelligent design versus evolution," Sellers said. "The two go together."

"It crosses the line with people who are Christians," Lofton said. "Evolution is offensive to a lot of people."

Board members O'Reilly and Reddout aren't joining the four members.

"The standards seem to be supported by many of our science teachers," Reddout said. "It doesn't make any difference what our personal opinions are."

"You're talking about separation of church and state," O'Reilly said. "I believe in intelligent design personally, but the court has ruled against it. We cannot break the law if it is set down before us."

Cunningham said she had not researched the new science standards and could not provide an answer about whether intelligent design should be taught in schools with evolution.

"I would have to research it to give you an answer," Cunningham said.

[ John Chambliss can be reached at john.chambliss@theledger.com or 863-802-7588. ]

Last modified: November 20. 2007 6:34AM


Sunday, November 18, 2007

More undermining than fact in lecture

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=78176&src=

Published: 11/17/200 12:36 AM

I read with interest the comments made relative to the lecture given by evolutionist Eugenie Scott at ECC recently.

I am amused by the projected image of seeking the truth in these sorts or symposiums when it is clear those who hold this view are simply trying to persuade everyone else that their position is the truly scientific one.

They do this, not so much with supposed facts, but by trying to undermine the position of creationists.

Neither evolutionism nor creation can be absolutely proven for the obvious reason -- no one, other than God if you are a creationist, was there to view how things actually began.

For evolutionists to claim to know what happened millions, or even billions of years ago is ridiculous. Dating systems are much too limited and inadequate to accurately reveal this.

In reality, evolutionists and creationists look at "evidence" and then reach their conclusions, many times pre-determined, based on personal belief.

Even though evolutionists would deny this, evolution actually requires just as much "faith" as does creationism. It simply depends on from what position you begin.

I believe evolutionism is primarily an atheistic position. Not all who believe in evolution are atheists, but most of the academic elite in evolutionary circles are either atheists or agnostics.

Thus, they must reject the possibility of creation at the very base of their position, and then build a suitable alternative. That is why they always try to separate science and religion. However, to be truly scientific, all possible explanations of evidence should be considered.

So again, I say, creationism can be strongly defended in any open and fair debate. Unfortunately, evolutionists do not want that.

Michael Poole

South Elgin

How one man's invention is part of a growing worldwide scam that snares the desperately ill

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004020583_miracle18m2.html

By Michael J. Berens and Christine Willmsen

Sunday, November 18, 2007 - Page updated at 01:07 AM

Seattle Times staff reporters

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

In the late 1980s, an out-of-work math instructor in Colorado built an electronic device he claimed could diagnose and destroy disease — everything from allergies to cancer — by firing radio frequencies into the body.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical devices, ordered William Nelson to quit selling his machine and making false claims. Nelson refused, and he was indicted on felony fraud charges. He fled the country, never to return.

That should have been the unremarkable end of another peddler of medical miracles.

Today, Nelson, 56, orchestrates one of America's boldest health-care frauds from a century-old building in Budapest, Hungary. Protected by barred gates, surveillance cameras and guards, he rakes in tens of millions of dollars selling a machine used to exploit the vulnerable and desperately ill.

This device is called the EPFX. In the U.S. alone, Nelson has sold more than 10,000 of them. More have been sold in the Northwest than in any other region, company officials said.

Nelson built his business by recruiting a sales force of physicians, chiropractors, nurses and thousands of unlicensed providers, from homemakers to retirees, drawn by the promise of easy money.

Nelson is just one profiteer, with one device.

A Seattle Times investigation has uncovered a global network of manufacturers who sell unproven devices, and practitioners who prey on unsuspecting patients.

Capitalizing on weak government oversight, they have used these devices — some illegal, others potentially dangerous — to drain patients' bank accounts, misdiagnose diseases, and divert critically ill people from life-saving care.

These victims are casualties in the growing field called "energy medicine" — alternative therapies based on the belief that the body has energy fields that can be manipulated to improve health. Energy devices range from handheld machines the size of television remotes to behemoth machines that weigh hundreds of pounds, with costs ranging from $1,200 to $55,000.

Many manufacturers and operators do follow FDA rules and disclose that treatments are unproven.

But The Times' investigation, based on government records and more than 200 interviews, found thousands who skirt the law. Among its findings:

• FDA officials do not know how many energy-medicine devices exist, where they are used and even whether they are safe. Ten years ago, Congress reduced medical-device oversight. Ever since, most energy-device manufacturers who register with the FDA submit little more than basic contact information.

• Federal and state regulators failed to warn the public about a dangerous energy device, the PAP-IMI, which is linked to patient injuries and death. Nor did they confiscate all of the devices, which pulse the body with strong electromagnetic waves. They had been smuggled into the country as seed germinators. The PAP-IMI remains in use today in at least five states, including Washington.

• Many energy-medicine operators dupe the public by posing as highly trained health-care professionals through the use of deceptive credentials and unaccredited degrees. Some of the largest and seemingly independent credentialing organizations are in fact controlled by two men who run competing mail-order operations.

FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley said the agency is looking into the EPFX, based on The Times' findings.

Medical charlatans have used energy devices in this country for more than a century.

In the past decade, the machines exploded into the mainstream, fueled by the Internet, which quickly and cheaply reached prospective buyers and patients.

Today, dozens of energy-device manufacturers present flashy Web sites with video testimonials and fake science.

"The message itself has stayed the same for centuries: 'This is the cure that I discovered and it's backed with testimonials from lots of people snatched from the grave by using it,' " said James Whorton, professor of medical history at the University of Washington's School of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health says research in the area of energy medicine may hold promise, but so far none of the devices, or their treatments, has been scientifically validated.

"Undoubtedly, there's a lot of quackery," Whorton said. "They will tell you what you want to hear. The average person isn't educated or trained to be able to evaluate these therapies critically."

Couple's final hope

In a clinic in Tulsa, Okla., JoAnn Burggraf, 58, sat in an oversized armchair as she was hooked up to an EPFX.

Clinic owner Sigrid Myers, who was trained on the device in Seattle, wrapped black straps containing electrodes around Burggraf's forehead, wrists and ankles. The straps were connected to the shoe-box-sized EPFX, which plugged into a desktop computer.

Myers used the EPFX to scan and analyze Burggraf's body. Burggraf watched as the monitor displayed bright-colored graphics representing parts of her body that Myers said were unhealthy.

Then, Myers recounted, she set the EPFX to "zap mode" and transmitted imperceptible, low-level frequencies through the electrodes and into Burggraf's body.

She and her husband, Jerry Burggraf, owned a successful cleaning and restoration company in Tulsa. He developed leukemia and underwent chemotherapy. In 2004, he began EPFX treatments, hoping to stop the disease.

He died in March 2005 at age 59.

Her husband endured painful side effects from the chemotherapy. After that, she distrusted doctors.

She started EPFX sessions, at $60 an hour, seeking relief from pain in her joints and legs.

"I begged her to go to the hospital," her son, Bryan Burggraf, 37, said. "Mom told me this device would make her well."

But her pain grew worse, becoming so intense that she frequently blacked out. In October 2005, Bryan finally convinced his mother that she needed to go to a hospital immediately. She was so weak and sick, with inflamed, open sores on her legs, that she eventually had to be transported by helicopter.

She died within hours of admission. Tests showed that her body had been devastated by undiagnosed leukemia.

Her son said doctors speculated that his parents were exposed to now-banned solvents used in their restoration business.

"I'm outraged that this fraudulent device is still out there," Burggraf said. "If my mom had gone to the hospital earlier there may have been hope. If nothing else, she would not have died in incredible pain."

Myers, a massage therapist, has no formal medical training or college degree. But on the wall of her home clinic were half a dozen framed certificates that bestowed her with health-care titles and credentials such as "naturopathic doctor."

"We're not supposed to say it, legally, but it can zap away disease," she told a reporter who visited the clinic. Asked why the EPFX did not cure JoAnn Burggraf, Myers tearfully explained: "I had just a few days of training. I really didn't know what I was doing."

Now she says she's more experienced.

Myers continues to treat patients in her home office with a newer EPFX. She persuaded an elderly patient to buy the machine for her, which cost $12,000. In exchange, Myers said, she didn't charge the woman for EPFX sessions to treat her heart disease.

That patient died, too.

Performer, pretender

Last year, at an international EPFX conference in Budapest, William Nelson bounded to a stage in front of a cheering crowd of several hundred — operators of the machine or those hoping to buy one. They rose to their feet and applauded.

He explained how he had used the EPFX to cure cancer and AIDS.

"It helps that I'm a genius," he told them.

But nothing is what it appears with Nelson, including his appearance. On stage, he wore a white dress, heels and heavy makeup.

"Judge the teaching, not the teacher," he told the crowd in a soothing baritone. Nelson is a polished performer — funny, confident, commanding the tools of a natural-born salesman.

Later, under his stage name Desirι Dubounet, he sang rock songs at his lounge, Club Bohemian Alibi.

This is the Nelson that few patients ever learn about.

From his restored, five-story building in downtown Budapest, Nelson operates the main EPFX business, Eclosion, and lives with his fifth wife and 8-year-old son. He has a personal staff of about a dozen, including a cook, hairdresser, nanny, security guards and chauffeurs.

From his movie production studio, he has created films that portray him as the crusader of alternative medicine and the FDA as the corrupt villain.

He said he has sold 17,000 EPFX devices worldwide. They now cost $19,900 each.

Nelson makes extraordinary claims about his life. He said he worked as a contractor for NASA, helping to save the troubled Apollo 13 mission as a teenager. He boasts that he was an alternate member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. He says he has eight doctorates, including degrees in medicine and law. See a PDF of his Curriculum Vitae here.

None of it checks out. NASA has no record of his employment; he was not an Olympic athlete. And his "degrees" came from unaccredited schools and mail-order businesses.

In truth, at age 33, Nelson was a part-time mathematics instructor at Youngstown State University in Ohio, according to school records.

As an avid "Star Trek" fan and father of an autistic son, Nelson became obsessed with creating a space-age device that melded modern mathematics with alternative therapies to heal the body.

In 1984, he moved his family to Colorado, where he started to sell his homemade medical device, called the Electro-Physio-Feedback-Xrroid System, or the EPFX.

Nelson registered his company with the FDA in 1989 as a maker of biofeedback machines, meaning he could sell them only as stress-relieving tools. By law, he could not claim the devices diagnosed or treated disease.

But Nelson did it anyway. In 1992, the agency ordered him to stop making false claims, then later ordered a recall of the EPFX. But Nelson continued to sell it as a healing machine.

He was indicted on nine counts of felony fraud in 1996 and fled the U.S. See a PDF of Nelson's court docket here.

Eclosion remains registered with the FDA.

Today, Nelson's sales empire reaches across 32 countries with dozens of distributors, brokers and trainers in the U.S. Top sellers can get hefty commissions, tropical cruises and BMW sedans.

Emma Robinson, a regional manager for the Pacific Northwest, earned one of the BMWs. She said she pulls in about $7,000 a week through sales commissions and by treating patients at her clinic, Quantum Pacific Wellness Center, in Wilderville, Ore.

Nelson and his distributors saturate the Internet with glitzy Web sites packed with animation, music, videos, even operators available to answer questions.

EPFX sales have exploded, fueled by aggressive marketing including such pitchmen as a physician for pop star Britney Spears and a chiropractor for cyclist Lance Armstrong.

As Nelson tells his audiences: Conventional doctors speed patients through appointments with treatments that focus only on symptoms, not on the root causes of ailments. The EPFX treats the whole body, and it does it without surgery or drugs.

Practitioners encourage patients to talk with them about any health problem. EPFX treatments typically last an hour. Afterward, a substantial number of patients will report that they feel better.

Energy-device operators benefit from the placebo effect, a psychological phenomenon in which patients report improvement that cannot be linked scientifically to treatment, studies show. People feel better through the power of suggestion or because they believe they are expected to feel improvement, experts say.

The EPFX is made up of circuit boards and other computer components that run software full of colorful graphics of the body. During a typical EPFX treatment, a patient may watch as a computer screen displays an animation of the interior of an artery blocked by white blobs, representing cholesterol. Then the blobs shrink and disappear.

Tens of thousands have found Nelson's pitch persuasive. "Traditional doctors don't want you to use the EPFX," he says. "They will tell you it's a fraud. That's because they are scared. I have discovered something that will put them out of business. And they don't want you to have it."

His fervor is shared by Emma Robinson's husband, John, also an EPFX regional sales manager. He says the device can do most anything.

"It's the closest thing to God I know."

Honor-system loophole

In 1997, Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, which made it cheaper and quicker to bring a device to market.

Consequently, the number of energy-device makers has increased to 462, up 45 percent in the past decade, according to a Times analysis.

The act also exempted many manufacturers of low-risk devices from submitting proof that the machines worked and were safe.

The agency places them on the honor system when it comes to classifying their devices. As a result, a popular strategy for some manufacturers is to list their devices as biofeedback machines. Legally, they can only be used to relieve stress.

But The Times found dozens of biofeedback machines that are marketed to the public with wild claims. Some examples:

• Practitioners using the LIFE System, distributed by Energetic Medicine Research Ltd., offer patients a "full diagnostic and treatment system." They claim the devices can assess the health of organs and "clear health blocks," from allergies to dental problems.

• Hippocampus-Brt Ltd., a Hungarian company registered with the FDA, declares that its Mobile Cell-Com can treat allergies through short "therapy sessions," strengthen the body's immune system and relieve inflammatory ailments.

• California-based Inergetix Inc. sells the Inergetix-CoRe System that can "scan and balance the organs and systems of the body."

Additionally, health improvements are shown on a computer screen "as they occur."

Installed in a hospital

Three years ago, EPFX operators scored one of their biggest coups: They managed to get two devices inside a U.S. hospital — St. John's Hospital, an 866-bed facility in Springfield, Mo.

Nelson markets this as proof that mainstream medicine embraces the EPFX.

On Friday, hospital administrators launched an investigation into how the EPFX machines got approved. They learned about their presence from The Times.

Faith Nelson, a registered nurse who works in the department where the devices are used, is also a regional sales manager for the EPFX, records show. (She is no relation to William Nelson.)

In addition, Susan Blackard, a hospital vice president who oversees that department, conducts training sessions for EPFX operators worldwide, records show.

Blackard, who is also a registered nurse, trained several hundred people at a conference last year in Budapest.

Neither woman returned calls for comment.

St. John's spokeswoman Cora Scott said the hospital is reviewing the employees' relationship to Nelson and the EPFX sales network.

The hospital is owned by the Sisters of Mercy Health System. Officials there said the two EPFX devices were used only for stress relief.

One operator cut off, case closed

Washington state regulators first learned about the EPFX in April 2004 when a Puyallup physician filed a complaint that an unlicensed health-care practitioner in Tacoma was using one.

State investigator John Kozar checked out the complaint, interviewing Janet Zibell, who used the EPFX at her spa.

At the same time, Kozar learned that other EPFX operators across the state were using it. In May 2004, Kozar wrote to his superiors: "This device is being used by unlicensed people to treat and diagnose patients with illnesses."

Zibell told state investigators that she used the EPFX only as a biofeedback machine to help relieve stress, according to state records. In Washington and all states, no license is required to perform biofeedback.

To show investigators how she used the device, Zibell conducted an EPFX session at Department of Health headquarters in Olympia. Zibell connected the EPFX to state investigator Carol Neva. During the demonstration, Zibell said the device detected a parasitic worm in Neva's colon so she "zapped a worm" with the device's electrical frequencies.

That was enough for investigators. Zibell was issued a cease-and-desist order. She agreed not to use the EPFX to diagnose or treat illness. The Health Department stopped there, closing the case. It did not look into the other EPFX operators Kozar warned about, records show.

In Oregon, regulators took a far different approach.

The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners earlier this year barred chiropractors from using the EPFX. "This device is complete hocus-pocus," the board's executive director, Dave McTeague, said. "There is no rational explanation as to how it works."

Karen McBeth's losses

Seattle cancer patient Karen McBeth, 59, had no trouble finding an EPFX operator. A retired employee with state Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, McBeth had squamous-cell carcinoma that mushroomed into terminal bone cancer. She underwent chemotherapy. By early 2005, she was in so much pain that she could barely walk.

Desperate for a cure, she looked for an alternative and through friends learned of BioScience, a health-care clinic in Port Orchard that offered EPFX treatments. BioScience was run by Robert and Marie Erdmann, and their daughter, Ann Riner. None of them had a state health-care license. McBeth was skeptical at first. But she did some Internet research and learned the device manufacturer was registered with the FDA and that dozens of physicians and chiropractors touted the device.

She began twice-weekly treatments. She was even persuaded to buy a machine for use at home, and spent $17,000 from her retirement savings.

"She was led to believe that treatment would cure her cancer," said her husband, Al Bergstein.

By the summer, she began to doubt whether the device was effective. She died Sept. 3, 2005.

Read McBeth's Seattle Times obituary here and a Web site in her memory.

Bergstein said the device offered a false hope that consumed his wife and robbed the family of precious remaining time with her.

A retired Microsoft manager, Bergstein looked at the source code in the EPFX's software. It appeared to generate results randomly.

"It's a complete fraud," he said.

Marie Erdmann, 64, who now manages the clinic since the death of her husband last year, defended the EPFX. "It's where medicine will go, but it will take a long time," she predicted.

A cure for everything

The world's largest EPFX distributor, The Quantum Alliance, is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It also operates its largest North American training center in Victoria, B.C., not far from Seattle.

Ken Wilkinson, chief executive officer, said the company does not market the EPFX as a diagnostic or healing machine.

However, dozens of such claims are found in the company's brochures and newsletters. For example, one brochure, used by a Washington practitioner this year, claimed that the EPFX can test for toxins, bacteria, viruses, allergens, parasites and disease.

In addition, The Quantum Alliance distributed a training video, narrated by Nelson, that claimed the EPFX can repair injured tissue and accelerate healing.

Wilkinson said the company no longer uses these materials. The EPFX is marketed only as a stress-relief tool, he said.

But a training newsletter, published last month by The Quantum Alliance, provided step-by-step instructions on how to use the EPFX to enlarge lips or cheeks and treat dental problems.

Company President Brian Thompson said the EPFX has "helped thousands of people." He couldn't explain what the device does or how it works. "We just sell them," Thompson said.

Hundreds of other brokers and practitioners sell the device as well, earning up to $2,500 in commissions per sale. Dozens of their Web sites tout testimonials of miraculous healings and declare that the EPFX can provide hundreds of therapies.

One of its strangest features is found on top of the EPFX: a 5-inch silver plate. Nelson claims the device can detect problems in the body by analyzing hair, saliva or blood placed on the plate. The device then fires healing frequencies to patients — even if they're hundreds of miles away.

A taunt to regulators

The EPFX was a big draw at this year's Western Washington Fair in Puyallup. Bart Keough, owner of The Healing Circle Counseling in Eatonville, Pierce County, ran a booth where more than 400 people were treated. They were charged $20 for a half-hour session.

Keough calls himself a "certified biofeedback specialist," a certification he earned from a mail-order training program. He said he has to be careful about how to describe the EPFX to avoid hassles with the FDA.

"We're told not to tell anyone that it heals anything," he said.

But a 4-foot-long banner that draped his booth listed dozens of "Therapies" the EPFX could provide. Keough admitted the EPFX contains many therapies that go beyond what the FDA allows. "I don't know how Bill Nelson gets by with it," he said.

In Budapest, Nelson doesn't worry about the FDA. In the past year, he established companies that are bringing in new products and devices into the United States.

He also has produced a music video in which he sings in front of a giant image of FDA headquarters. Nelson's song ends with a taunt to the regulators: "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Staff reporter Sonia Krishnan and researchers David Turim and Gene Balk contributed to this report.

Michael J. Berens: 206-464-2288 or mberens@seattletimes.com; Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or mberens@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Miracle Machines | The 21st-century snake oil

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004020598_miraclesplit18m.html

Sunday, November 18, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

They can cure cancer, reduce cholesterol, end allergies, treat cavities, kill parasites and even eliminate AIDS.

"Energy medicine" devices can be as small as a television remote control, or as large as a steamer trunk.

Their operators say the devices work by transmitting radio frequencies or electromagnetic waves through the body, identifying problems, then "zapping" them.

Their claims are a fraud — the 21st-century version of snake oil. But a Seattle Times investigation has discovered that thousands of these unproven devices — many of them illegal or dangerous — are found in hundreds of venues nationwide, from the Puyallup Fair, to health-care clinics in Florida, to an 866-bed regional hospital in Missouri.

These are not the devices in wide use by medical doctors, such as electrical stimulators used for sports injuries. Nor are they the biofeedback devices used at respected alternative-medicine centers such as Seattle's Bastyr University. Rather, these are boxes of wires purported to perform miracles. Their manufacturers and operators capitalize on weak government oversight and the nation's hunger for alternative therapies to reap millions of dollars in profits while exploiting desperate people:

• In Tulsa, Okla., a woman suffering from unexplained joint pain was persuaded to avoid doctors and rely on an energy device for treatment. Seven months later, her son took her to a hospital. She died within hours from undiagnosed leukemia.

• In Los Angeles, a mother pulled her 5-month-old son out of chemotherapy for cancer and took him to a clinic where a 260-pound machine pulsed electromagnetic waves through his tiny body. The baby died within months.

• In Seattle, a retiree with cancer emptied her bank account to buy an energy machine. Shortly before she died, her husband, a retired Microsoft manager, examined its software, finding that it appeared to generate results randomly — "a complete fraud," he said.

Over the past year, The Times investigated these machines and the people behind them.

The investigation took us to where the manufacturers of some of these machines are based, in Hungary and Greece. We found the operators — including a cross-dressing federal fugitive who moonlights as a cabaret singer — making outrageous claims as they peddled their wares. We discovered that the U.S. regulatory system has allowed them to flood this nation with an estimated 40,000 devices.

And we learned that many operators consider our state a safe haven for these "miracle machines."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

School Official Opposes Evolution Standards Plan

http://www.theledger.com/article/20071113/NEWS/711130409/1039

By John Chambliss The Ledger

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LAKELAND | A Polk County School Board member said Monday she wants the district to consider opposing proposed new science standards for Florida schools that would include specific mention of evolution for the first time.

Plan to Require Evolution To Be Taught in Schools

The proposed standards intended to strengthen science education in Florida have widespread backing from the scientific community and have generated limited opposition statewide.

However, Polk board member Kay Fields objects to the portion of the standards that includes evolution, and she said she will talk with Superintendent Gail McKinzie this week about possible action the district can take.

"There needs to be intelligent design as well," Fields said. "You need to show both sides."

Fields said she's only received one phone call from a parent opposed to the new standards. The mother of two children who attend Polk schools told Fields she favored teaching intelligent design.

Response to the proposed standards has been generally favorable if a state Department of Education Web site seeking public comment is an indication.

As of Nov. 5, at least 70 percent of more than 4,000 people who rated the state standards at the Web site - www.flstandards.org - endorsed the new standards. The Web site lets people rate changes for each of the new science benchmarks, said Jonathan Smith, a Lakeland resident and a representative of the National Center for Science Education. Science teachers or science administrators accounted for the 3,076 of the comments.

About two-thirds of the comments left on the site were related to evolution, Smith said.

Smith's group supports the proposed standards and says there is overwhelming support in the scientific community for teaching evolution, while the idea of intelligent design is not scientifically valid.

Evolution is only a part of the new science standards, which were re-written to bolster science education in Florida. The proposed standards list evolution and biological diversity as one of the "big ideas" in which science education should be grounded.

Current state standards do not use the word evolution, preferring the term "biological changes over time." They will, if the standards are adopted by the state Board of Education in January.

Evolutionary science says life, including plants, animals and humans, developed through a series of small changes over a long period of time. The theory conflicts with the biblical interpretation of the Earth's creation and is strongly opposed by many conservative Christians.

The new standards do not include intelligent design, the idea that life began as a result of an intelligent force or being.

People have had limited opportunity to voice their opinions to state officials in person. Two meetings about the new standards were canceled.

The second and last meeting for the public to attend will be on Thursday in Orlando.

At the first meeting Saturday in Tallahassee, Wakulla County Board member Greg Thomas spoke out against the new standards.

"This will run afoul of many students and teachers," Thomas said Monday. "When I was taught this in public schools it was Darwin's theory of evolution."

Thomas called the changes "radical" and recommended the state continue to use the current standards.

Some others at the meeting approved of the changes.

A 45-member committee appointed by the state Department of Education began revising the science standards in May in response to a 2005 report on Florida's public school science curriculum by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

The Fordham study said Florida's standards are "sorely lacking in content" and that life sciences and evolution are given "shorter shrift than any of the other" science topics.

[ John Chambliss can be reached at john.chambliss@theledger.com or 863-802-7588. ]

Last modified: November 13. 2007 6:03AM

Why evolution should be taught in public schools

http://www.thebulletin.org/columns/laura-kahn/20071113.html

By Laura H. Kahn | 13 November 2007

Understanding evolution is critical to confronting the twenty-first century's microbiological challenges. We need to educate the next generation of scientists to give them the tools to develop novel treatments against antibiotic resistant bacteria, emerging viruses, and other deadly microbes. They need to understand how these microbes develop and change, which requires an understanding of evolution. Sadly, ensuring that evolution gets taught in public schools remains an uphill battle--especially since certain segments of society insist that religious doctrine, masquerading as science, be taught instead.

In the nineteenth century, the prevailing dogma was "spontaneous generation." It did nothing to prepare scientists and physicians to develop effective strategies against the infectious diseases that were killing untold numbers of people. Louis Pasteur, the French chemist who developed the rabies vaccine, was instrumental in disproving spontaneous generation and replacing it with the germ theory of disease. He helped to convince the world that invisible microbes caused disease, which led to a revolution in medicine and public health.

Changing people's minds against spontaneous generation was no small feat since it was the accepted theory at the time. The theory proposed that life could emerge from nonliving organic matter and explained why maggots suddenly emerged from rotting meat and how vermin magically appeared in stored grain. While based on observation, it was wrong. Scientists had previously identified microbes, but they were generally viewed as the result rather than the cause of disease.

Pasteur began studying spontaneous generation in 1859, around the same time he began studying fermentation. During this work, he discovered that yeasts were responsible for making wine palatable and bacteria was responsible for turning wine bad. Subsequent work on silkworms showed that microbes caused their illness and death. Pasteur saw the connection between microbes, fermentation, putrefaction, and disease. The challenge was to convince the scientific community, particularly the medical profession, to accept this novel idea. (For more on Pasteur, read Rene Dubos's book Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science.)

Almost simultaneously with Pasteur, Felix-Archimede Pouchet, the director of the Museum of Natural History in Rouen, claimed to the Paris Academy of Sciences that he had produced spontaneous generation. He followed this declaration with Heterogenie, a 700-page book in which he claimed to prove that life could originate from inanimate matter.

Pasteur, a devout Catholic, initially believed in spontaneous generation, but his work on fermentation convinced him otherwise. Against the advice of his colleagues, he decided to jump into the debate against Pouchet, carefully planning his experiments to disprove Pouchet's claim.

Spontaneous generation proponents believed that exposure to air was the key factor in the generation of life. Pasteur devised experiments using a novel "swan-neck" flask that would address the issue. The swan neck allowed exposure to air but trapped microbes in the elongated, S-shaped glass neck. Pasteur conducted experiments in cellars, on mountains, and even on Swiss glaciers to show that different concentrations of microbes existed depending on location and elevation.

The controversy began to take on religious overtones as the debate caught the public's attention; people took sides based on prejudiced beliefs rather than factual evidence. Pouchet and his colleagues attempted to duplicate Pasteur's results without success. Pasteur demanded that the Academy of Sciences appoint a commission to repeat the experiments; Pouchet demanded an experimental match be conducted in a laboratory in the Museum of Natural History.

An eloquent debater, Pasteur came prepared with more than 50 flasks, some of which he had previously opened on mountains and had remained sterile. He proceeded to open others throughout the museum amphitheater with many remaining sterile. The academy issued an official announcement that Pasteur had successfully disproved spontaneous generation. But despite his triumph, proponents of spontaneous generation in other countries continued to attack his findings. Time and additional research by other scientists such as the German physician Robert Koch, who proved the bacterial cause of a number of infectious diseases, eventually put spontaneous generation to rest. For the first time in history, the new "germ theory of disease" allowed people to understand the nature of epidemics and to develop effective preventive and control strategies against infectious diseases.

Creationism versus evolution

"Creationism," the belief that a deity created the heavens, Earth, and all its living creatures, dates back to antiquity. Indeed, many civilizations have creation stories rooted in religious beliefs. Charles Darwin's "theory of evolution" generated considerable controversy because it threatened religious doctrine. (It still does.) However, unlike spontaneous generation, which was based on observation, creationism is based on belief.

Developing a scientific theory requires collecting data, conducting experiments, and generating hypotheses to explain natural phenomena. Darwin developed his theory after collecting extensive data while on a five-year, round-the-world journey aboard the HMS Beagle; Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation because it was a scientific theory based on observation.

Proponents of creationism insist that it's a scientific theory and that evolution doesn't explain phenomenon such as the development of multi-celled animals like apes, elephants, and horses from single-celled life-forms. (See "Intelligent Design in Biology: The Current Situation and Future Prospects.") They propose that creationism is an alternative scientific theory to evolution, yet they don't provide scientific evidence for the existence of an intelligent deity. Instead, they cite gaps in evolutionary theory.

Indeed, how would someone prove by observation and experimentation the existence of a deity? Or alternatively, how would someone disprove evolution? There's extensive evidence in the fossil record, in the genetic code, and in rapidly evolving microbes. There are also experimental results of thousands of years of human genetic manipulation through selective breeding of domesticated plants and animals. For example, human genetic modification has led to dog breeds that never would have evolved naturally. Yorkshire terriers, chihuahuas, and pugs don't resemble the wolves from which they evolved. And without attentive human care, these animals wouldn't stand a chance of surviving in the wilderness.

The first public debate on creationism versus evolution took place in 1860 at the British Association for the Advancement of Science between Thomas Huxley, who supported evolution, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce who opposed it. (See "The Evolution-Creationism Controversy: A Chronology.") The Scopes Monkey Trial was the first famous courtroom battle. (Notice none of these discussions included competing experiments or any scientific endeavors.) In 1925, Tennessee passed the Butler Act, which prohibited teaching evolution in public schools. The ACLU subsequently decided to defend any teacher who violated the Tennessee law, eventually recruiting John Scopes, a teacher at the Rhea County High School who discussed evolution with his biology class.

Judge John Raulston didn't allow expert scientific testimony during the trial. William Jennings Bryant served as the lawyer for the prosecution, and Clarence Darrow was the defense lawyer. The trial became a media circus. Ultimately, Scopes was convicted and fined $100. But in 1927, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the conviction. Tennessee repealed the Butler Act in 1967, but creationism proponents wouldn't let the issue rest.

In the early 1980s, Louisiana passed a creationism law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools without also teaching creationism. Parents of Louisiana public schoolchildren, religious leaders, and teachers challenged the law. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1989 that the act violated the First Amendment. Despite the ruling, in 1999, the Kansas Board of Education cut evolution from its curriculum. Meanwhile, similar challenges were occurring in other states. In 2004, the Dover Area School Board in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, adopted a policy that required high school students to be informed of creationism. Eleven parents sued. A judge subsequently ruled (PDF) that teaching creationism was unconstitutional. While this was a victory for the separation of church and state in school science curricula, concern should remain regarding future attacks against teaching evolution in public schools. It's important to note that in the 1989 Supreme Court decision, Antonin Scalia and the late William Rehnquist dissented with the majority opinion. The Supreme Court now has a different composition, and future challenges to teaching evolution in public schools might be ruled differently.

According to a 2005 Harris Poll, a majority of U.S. citizens believe in creationism. Another survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that two-thirds of Americans believe that creationism should be taught alongside evolution. These results demonstrate a failure of the educational system to teach science in public schools. With No Child Left Behind focusing on test results, science is getting even less attention now. This could result in U.S. students graduating from public schools scientifically illiterate. (See "Report Says States Aim Low in Science Classes" and "The State of State Science Standards, 2005.") Today's defenders of evolution should be just as dogged and diligent as Pasteur was in preventing a backslide against scientific progress and understanding.

Similar to how germ theory of disease allows us to understand the causes of infectious disease and the spread of epidemics, evolution allows us to understand the development of antimicrobial resistance, the potential of the avian influenza virus to mutate into a human pandemic influenza virus, and the emergence of novel pathogens that can infect plants, animals, and humans. In the dark ages, people believed that divine wrath caused disease. We have come a long way since, but we need to remain vigilant that our children receive a good science education to further enhance human understanding. And a good science education includes learning about evolution.

Experts find jawbone of pre-human great ape in Kenya

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20071113-0729-ape-human-africa.html

By Katie Nguyen REUTERS

7:29 a.m. November 13, 2007

Reuters

NAIROBI – Researchers unveiled a 10-million-year-old jaw bone on Tuesday they believe belonged to a new species of great ape that could be the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.

The Kenyan and Japanese team found the fragment, dating back to between 9.8 and 9.88 million years, in 2005 along with 11 teeth. The fossils were unearthed in volcanic mud flow deposits in the northern Nakali region of Kenya.

The species – somewhere between the size of a female gorilla and a female orangutan – may prove to be the 'missing link', the key step that split the evolutionary chains of humans and other primates, Kenyan scientists said.

'Based on this particular discovery, we can comfortably say we are approaching the point at which we can pin down the so-called missing link,' Frederick Manthi, senior research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, told reporters.

'We have to find more fossils from a cross-section of sites to sustain that particular theory,' he added, speaking at a desk where the approximately four-inch sliver of bone was displayed alongside human and gorilla skulls.

It was the latest important finding in east Africa's Rift Valley – a region long regarded as the 'cradle of humankind'.

'The teeth were covered in thick enamel and the caps were low and voluminous, suggesting that the diet of this ape consisted of a considerable amount of hard objects, like nuts or seeds, and fruit,' Yutaka Kunimatsu at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute said in a telephone interview.

'It could be positioned before the split between gorillas, chimps and humans,' he added.

However, it was hard to determine what the new species, named Nakalipithecus nakayamai, looked like.

'We only have some jaw fragments and some teeth ... but we hope to find other body parts in our future research. We plan to go back next year. We will try to find bones below the neck to tell us how the animal moved,' Kunimatsu said.

Published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the finding is significant as it gives credence to the theory that the evolution from ape to man may have taken place entirely in Africa.

Prior to this finding, there had been so little fossil evidence in Africa dating between 7 to 13 million years ago that some experts began to surmise that the last common ancestor left Africa for Europe and Asia, and then returned later.

'Now, we have a good candidate in Africa. We do not need to think the common ancestor came back from Eurasia to Africa. I think it is more likely the common ancestor evolved from the apes in the Miocene in Africa,' Kunimatsu said.

The Miocene is a period extending from 23.03 million to 5.33 million years ago.

'Some apes (then) left Africa and migrated to Eurasia. They then became orangutans in Southeast Asia. Today's orangutan evolved from the apes that left Africa,' he said.

(Additional reporting by Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong; Editing by Caroline Drees)

Creationism Vs. Evolution

http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Local/2007/11/14/creationism_vs_evolution.html

Thursday, November 15, 2007 6:51:31 AM Students across Florida could soon see a change in the way they're taught science, and already the idea is raising some concerns.

The Department of Education wants to change the language in textbooks, specifically using the word evolution for the first time.

Currently, Florida's high school textbooks state we are who we are due to biological changes over time and natural selection.

Proponents argue evolution is the proper scientific term to describe the process, opponents argue this science lesson should include the possibility that a higher being played a role in how we got here.

"If we want world-class standards, we need to use world-class terminology with our concepts and evolution is the correct terminology for change over time," said Molly Malloy, a science teacher with Orange County Public Schools.

"We're not expecting them to teach creationism," said Dr. Joel Hunter, from Northland Church. "But if were talking about the theories of how this happened, we would include random mutation, Intel design, creation, (and) leave it up to students to interpret."

Jones High School will host a public forum Thursday night about the changes.

Discoverer of Lucy Fossil Weighs in on Human Evolution

http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-11-14-voa54.cfm

By Greg Flakus Houston

14 November 2007

The fossilized bones of a female hominid creature who lived about three million years ago in what is now Ethiopia, continues to draw crowds at Houston's Museum of Natural Science. Recently visiting the skeleton called Lucy was the man who discovered her on a rocky slope in Ethiopia back in November 1974, anthropaleontologist and director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, Donald Johanson. VOA's Greg Flakus has this report from Houston.

A three-dimensional model of the 3.2 million-year-old hominid known as Lucy is unveiled at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

For the past couple of months, school children have been coming to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see a set of fossilized bones that the world now knows as Lucy.

No visitor has a more special relationship with Lucy than the man who discovered her, anthropaleontologist Donald Johanson.

"I can say that my heart beat a little faster when I knew that the original fossil is in this room," he said.

Johanson found the fossil while working in northeastern Ethiopia on November 24, 1974.

"The first bone I found was a little fragment of a right elbow and I looked at it on the ground and knew from the shape of it that it did not belong to a monkey or any other kind of animal and that it had to come from a human ancestor skeleton," he said.

He says the partial skeleton picked up its name later that night as he and his team worked while listening to a Beatles song on a portable tape player.

"'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' from the 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band album was playing and a girl friend of mine on the expedition, Pamela, said, 'If you really think the skeleton is a female,' and I thought it was because of its very small size, she said, 'why don't you call it Lucy,'" said Johanson.

High school students visiting the exhibit had lots of questions for the anthropologist, and teacher Elizabeth Blevins says the visit proved valuable on many levels.

"I think it helps them connect with history, with science, anthropology, and archaeology and all the sciences that go into understanding our world," she said.

Evolution has become a controversial topic in some communities where conservative Christians claim that the theory contradicts the Bible. But Johanson says most religious people have come to accept evolution as part of God's plan. People who challenge the theory of evolution often deride the notion that humans are descended from monkeys, but Johanson says scientists do not believe that either.

"We are not descended from monkeys. We are descended from a creature that was a common ancestor to the African apes and to us," added Johanson. "If we look at the anatomy, look at the behavior, look at the genetics, who are our closest relatives on the planet today? Chimpanzees and gorillas."

Johanson says Lucy and humans share a common ancestor, but she and homo sapiens then evolved along separate branchs. He says anthropologists may disagree over some aspects of human evolution, but there is broad agreement on the basic theory of where it all began.

"The one thing that all anthropologists have agreed on now is that the fossil record for humanity is so convincing, from the very earliest, very primitive stages, long before Lucy, going back as much as six million years in Africa, that this is really the cradle of humankind, Africa," he said.

Johanson says the people who live in the vicinity of where Lucy was found are proud of their area's importance and are very willing to help him find more fossils.

"The Afar people who live there today know what these bones look like and sometimes when we come back to the field, they will take me by my hand and they will walk me and say 'look what I found when I was herding my goats.' And they know that you should never pick it up, because then you do not know where it is from," he said.

Donald Johanson goes back to Ethiopia every year hoping to find more clues to unlock the mystery of human origins.

Mother Heals Son's Autism, Starts Private Practice

http://www.theopenpress.com/index.php?a=press&id=25605

Published on: November 17th

"Releasing" Offers Hope of Recovery

Indianapolis, IN (OPENPRESS) November 17, 2007 -- The word "autism" makes headlines daily and is getting more attention with celebrities like Jenny McCarthy sharing their stories. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 150 children is born with autism, boys outnumbering girls 4 to 1. These frightening facts become terrifying to parents when a doctor brings up the word "autism" in reference to their child.

Tenna Merchent, author of He's Not Autistic, But…How We Pulled Our Son From the Mouth of the Abyss, knows this feeling firsthand. "When my son's doctor said 'a child like your son who is at risk for autism', I felt like he had hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat."

For Merchent, this meant the beginning of a nightmare for her and her son. When Clay was born in 2001, he seemed healthy, but by the time he was six weeks old, he cried for hours each evening. As the months went on, he was frequently ill and by the time he was two years old, he could say only a few words, would bang his head for no apparent reason, often walked on his toes, was extremely allergic to many things and constantly sick with severe nose and chest congestion. These along with other symptoms pointed to autism. And to make matters worse, Merchent herself became seriously ill.

He's Not Autistic, But ….is the moving story of Merchent's persistence and relentless search for answers and the cure for her son's illness. It describes her painful journey through traditional medicine, then the hopeful move to alternative care. The miracles begin when she finally discovers a master herbalist who reveals the primary cause of their illnesses: aluminum. Clay's illness, however, had been exacerbated by the vaccines he was given. The simplicity of fully curing both herself and her son is astounding, and she illustrates the art of releasing in detail.

Clay has made a full recovery, and Merchent, who now has a private practice in naturopathic medicine, no longer suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, yeast, and infertility. "I am now able to treat myself, my family, and my friends," says Merchent. "I am no longer helpless against illness."

Merchent got her Master Herbalist degree, and just completed her doctorate in Naturopathy. She lives in Noblesville, IN with her husband and two young boys. In addition to her practice, they own and operate the award-winning Purgatory Golf Club. Her book is an Award-Winning Finalist in the Health: Alternative Medicine category of the National Best Books 2007 Awards.

For more information please visit www.HesNotAutisticBut.com. To schedule an interview or receive more media information please contact Elaine Krackau, PR by the Book, (512) 733-5145 or elaine@prbythebook.com, www.prbythebook.com

Professional Free Press Release News Wire

Academic debate with side of pasta: religion scholars meet Flying Spaghetti Monster

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/16/america/NA-FEA-REL-US-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster.php

The Associated Press Published: November 16, 2007

BOSTON: When some of the world's leading religious scholars gather in San Diego this weekend, pasta will be on the intellectual menu. They'll be talking about a satirical pseudo-deity called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose growing pop culture fame gets laughs but also raises serious questions about the essence of religion.

The appearance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on the agenda of the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting gives a kind of scholarly imprimatur to a phenomenon that first emerged in 2005, during the debate in Kansas over whether intelligent design should be taught in public school sciences classes.

Supporters of intelligent design hold that the order and complexity of the universe is so great that science alone cannot explain it. The concept's critics see it as faith masquerading as science.

An Oregon State physics graduate named Bobby Henderson stepped into the debate by sending a letter to the Kansas School Board. With tongue in cheek, he purported to speak for 10 million followers of a being called the Flying Spaghetti Monster — and demanded equal time for their views.

"We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it," Henderson wrote. As for scientific evidence to the contrary, "what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage."

The letter made the rounds on the Internet, prompting laughter from some and vilification from others. But it struck a chord and stuck around. In the great tradition of satire, its humor was in fact a clever and effective argument.

Between the lines, the point of the letter was this: There's no more scientific basis for intelligent design than there is for the idea an omniscient creature made of pasta created the universe. If intelligent design supporters could demand equal time in a science class, why not anyone else? The only reasonable solution is to put nothing into sciences classes but the best available science.

"I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; one third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence," Henderson sarcastically concluded.

Kansas eventually repealed guidelines questioning the theory of evolution.

Meanwhile, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism (FSM-ism to its "adherents") has thrived — particularly on college campuses and in Europe. Henderson's Web site has become a kind of cyber-watercooler for opponents of intelligent design.

Henderson did not respond to a request for comment. His Web site tracks meetings of FSM clubs (members dress up as pirates) and sells trinkets and bumper stickers. "Pastafarians" — as followers call themselves — can also download computer screen-savers and wallpaper (one says: "WWFSMD?") and can sample photographs that show "visions" of the divinity himself. In one, the image of the carbohydrate creator is seen in a gnarl of dug-up tree roots.

It was the emergence of this community that attracted the attention of three young scholars at the University Florida who study religion in popular culture. They got to talking, and eventually managed to get a panel on FSM-ism on the agenda at one of the field's most prestigious gatherings.

The title: "Evolutionary Controversy and a Side of Pasta: The Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Subversive Function of Religious Parody."

"For a lot of people they're just sort of fun responses to religion, or fun responses to organized religion. But I think it raises real questions about how people approach religion in their lives," said Samuel Snyder, one of the three Florida graduate students, who will give talks at the meeting next Monday along with Alyssa Beall of Syracuse University.

The presenters' titles seem almost a parody themselves of academic jargon. Snyder will speak about "Holy Pasta and Authentic Sauce: The Flying Spaghetti Monster's Messy Implications for Theorizing Religion," while Gavin Van Horn's presentation is titled "Noodling around with Religion: Carnival Play, Monstrous Humor, and the Noodly Master."

Using a framework developed by literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin, Van Horn promises in his abstract to explore how, "in a carnivalesque fashion, the Flying Spaghetti Monster elevates the low (the bodily, the material, the inorganic) to bring down the high (the sacred, the religiously dogmatic, the culturally authoritative)."

The authors recognize the topic is a little light by the standards of the American Academy of Religion.

"You have to keep a sense of humor when you're studying religion, especially in graduate school," Van Horn said in a recent telephone interview. "Otherwise you'll sink into depression pretty quickly."

But they also insist it's more than a joke.

Indeed, the tale of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its followers cuts to the heart of the one of the thorniest questions in religious studies: What defines a religion? Does it require a genuine theological belief? Or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others?

In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?

Joining them on the panel will be David Chidester, a prominent and controversial academic at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who is interested in precisely such questions. He has urged scholars looking for insights into the place of religion in culture and psychology to explore a wider range of human activities. Examples include cheering for sports teams, joining Tupperware groups, and the growing phenomenon of Internet-based religions. His 2005 book "Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture," prompted wide debate about how far into popular culture religious studies scholars should venture.

Lucas Johnston, the third Florida student, argues the Flying Spaghetti Monsterism exhibits at least some of the traits of a traditional religion — including, perhaps, that deep human need to feel like there's something bigger than oneself out there.

He recognized the point when his neighbor, a militant atheist who sports a pro-Darwin bumper sticker on her car, tried recently to start her car on a dying battery.

As she turned the key, she murmured under her breath: "Come on Spaghetti Monster!"

On the Net:

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: http://www.venganza.org/

American Academy of Religion: http://www.aarweb.org/


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Evolution education update: November 16, 2007

Judgment Day, the special documentary about Kitzmiller v. Dover that aired on PBS on November 13, 2007, received enthusiastic reviews from all over -- even though the PBS affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee, decided that it was too "controversial" to air. And a reminder about NCSE's special offer to libraries: back issues of NCSE's various publications, absolutely free of charge.

JUDGMENT DAY IN THE NEWS

Judge John E. Jones III, the federal judge who presided over Kitzmiller v. Dover, appeared on The NewsHour on November 13, 2007, to discuss Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, the documentary that recently aired on PBS stations nationwide. Following a clip from the program, Jones discussed his background knowledge of "intelligent design" and evolution, the Establishment Clause and its applicability in the Kitzmiller case, the role of the independent judiciary, and the influence of his seminal decision. Jones commented, "It's not precedential outside of the middle district of Pennsylvania, but I thought that if other school boards and other boards of education could read it, they would possibly be more enlightened about what the dispute was all about."

Judgment Day aired on PBS stations nationwide on November 13, 2007. It will be available to watch on-line as of November 16, 2007, and it is likely to air again in various places -- schedules for local affiliates can be checked on-line via the PBS website. Be sure also to visit the generous website, featuring interviews with Kenneth R. Miller on evolution, Phillip Johnson on "intelligent design," and Paula Apsell on NOVA's decision to produce the documentary; audio clips of Judge John E. Jones III reading passages from his decision in the case, and of various experts (including NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott) discussing the nature of science; resources about the evidence for evolution and about the background to the Kitzmiller case; material especially for teachers, including a briefing packet for educators; and even a preview of the documentary.

Meanwhile, Judgment Day is continuing to receive high praise from reviewers, both in Pennsylvania, where the historic trial took place, or across the country. The York Dispatch, one of the two daily papers serving Dover, Pennsylvania, editorially offered (November 11, 2007), "Thumbs Up to PBS for bringing tribulations of the Dover Area School District to national attention in the two-hour Nova special 'Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial' ... The blatant attempt to introduce religion-based 'creationism' into the public school classroom is detailed along with a recreation of the ensuing battle in a federal courtroom in Harrisburg that resulted in a humiliating defeat for the intelligent design proponents. A reminder that fiddling with public education to impose an individual religious viewpoint is a non-starter, 'Judgment Day' should be required watching."

Reviewing Judgment Day for the Philadelphia Inquirer (November 13, 2007), Jonathan Storm praised not only the scientific content of Judgment Day but also its objective approach: "Nova, the science show, stoutly defends science against the attack of the surprisingly hard-to-pin-down intelligent-design brain trust. It does use such loaded words as 'claim' and 'so-called' to describe tenets of the supposed theory, but it is surprisingly clear of a 'nyah-nyah, we won' tone. That makes this significant program more accessible to all." He also quoted Judge Jones as saying, "If you glibly embrace intelligent design, or if you're in that 48 or 50 percent who believe creationism ought to be taught in school, I hope [you] will watch this."

It was as a legal drama that Judgment Day struck Rob Owen, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 12, 2007). Describing the program as "a fascinating and gripping look at the trial and both sides of the issue," Owen wrote, "I didn't know much about so-called 'intelligent design' theory beyond its name and a sense that it's synonymous with creationism. So I went into the film willing to be persuaded that maybe there's some validity to intelligent design. If there is, those in favor of ID failed to prove it. And failed miserably. That's what makes 'Intelligent Design on Trial' such a thriller. As a legal exercise, the pro-evolution team presents a slam-dunk case; in the end, even a defense attorney says his losing side received a fair trial."

In The New York Times (November 11, 2007), Cornelia Dean admired the scientific content of Judgment Day, commenting, "the program as a whole recognizes that there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And it shows how witnesses attacked two of the central premises of intelligent design -- that there are no 'intermediate' fossils to show one creature morphing into another (there are) and that some body parts are too complex to have formed from the modification of other body parts (not true)." She added, "But viewers also learn a more important lesson: that all science is provisional, standing only until it is overturned by better information. Intelligent design, relying as it does on an untestable supernatural entity, does not fall into that category."

Elsewhere, the Cincinnati Post's reviewer (November 13, 2007) wrote, "Leave it to the respected PBS science show "Nova" to put some common sense back into the often hysterical debate over whether intelligent design is science or religion -- and remind us that Darwin's theory of evolution is a solid one that should be taught in science classes." The Deseret News's reviewer (November 13, 2007) described the progam as "captivating," and quoted Judge Jones as saying, "I think there's a lesson here for communities and how they elect their school board members." And the Oregonian's reviewer (November 13, 2007) wrote, "'Judgment Day' offers an admirably compact and methodical presentation of the sides in the debate. It should be highly useful in years to come."

Finally, writing in Salon (November 13, 2007), Gordy Slack, the author of The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA, looks forward from the trial, explaining that although "intelligent design" aspired to be a big tent under which creationists of all stripes were welcome to shelter, "Judge Jones'[s] decision was like a lightning strike on the big top, sending many of the constituents running home through the rain." He ends by quoting NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott's warning: "Evolution remains under attack ... If creationists have their way, teachers will eventually just stop teaching evolution. It'll just be too much trouble . And generations of students will continue to grow up ignorant of basic scientific realities."

For Judge Jones on The NewsHour, visit:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/july-dec07/evolution_11-13.html

To watch Judgment Day on-line after November 16, 2007, visit:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html

To check to see whether Judgment Day will be aired on a PBS station in your area, visit:
http://www.pbs.org/tvschedules/

For the website for Judgment Day, visit:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/

For the York Dispatch's editorial, visit:
http://yorkdispatch.inyork.com/viewpoints/editorial/ci_7441434

For the mentioned reviews, visit:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/jonathan_storm/20071113_Jonathan_Storm___2-hour_Nova_reviews_Pa__intelligent_design_trial.html
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07317/833303-42.stm
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/arts/television/11dean.html
http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071113/LIFE/711130351/1005
http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695227059,00.html
http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/119490270485010.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

For Gordy Slack's article in Salon, visit:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/11/13/intelligent_design/

JUDGMENT DAY CENSORED IN MEMPHIS?

Although Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, the recent documentary on Kitzmiller v. Dover, aired on PBS stations around the country, residents of Memphis, Tennessee, were not able to watch it on the regular, analogue, channel of WKNO, the local PBS affiliate. A locally produced documentary about World War II was aired instead. The Memphis Commercial Appeal (November 15, 2007) quoted a spokesperson for the station as explaining, "We had plans to do our local programs to honor veterans this week during Veterans Day. We thought Tuesday night was a good spot for local programs of this nature, and we were concerned about the controversial nature of the ... program as were 15 percent of the top 50 public television stations in the country."

Although Judgment Day was aired on WKNO's digital broadcasts, the station's failure to air it on the regular channel elicited complaints; the spokesperson for the station would not disclose how many. The Commercial Appeal quoted one disgruntled viewer, David O. Hill, as saying, "I really appreciate what service they do, but when they step out of line like this it violates the whole premise of what NPR and PBS stand for nationally ... This was an historical review of an important judicial decision in America, and they chose not to do it." Trained as a biologist, Hill added, "Evolution is as important a building block to biology as atomic theory is to chemistry and gravitation to physics." The station now plans to air Judgment Day in January 2008, "with a local followup to discuss the various views on the show."

For the Memphis Commercial Appeal's story, visit:
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2007/nov/15/topic-too-hot-for-wkno/

THE GREAT NCSE JOURNAL GIVEAWAY

NCSE is still extending a special offer to libraries. Both because we are eager for libraries to maintain holdings of our journals, and because we are eager to make space in our storage facility, we are offering free copies of any or all of the back issues of Creation/Evolution (ISSN 0738-6001, nos. 1-39, 1980-1996), NCSE Reports (ISSN 1064-2358, vols. 9-16, 1989-1996), and Reports of the NCSE (continuing both, ISSN 1064-2358, vol. 17 ongoing, 1997-present) to libraries. Libraries can take advantage of the offer to replace missing or damaged individual copies or to extend the range of their holdings.

Probably academic libraries will be most interested -- and we urge our members and friends who work at colleges and universities to bring the offer to the attention of the periodical departments of their libraries -- but the offer is open to public and school libraries as well. Interested librarians should write to Archivist, NCSE, PO Box 9477, Berkeley CA 94709-0477, fax (on letterhead) to (510) 601-7204, or e-mail the NCSE archivist at archivist@ncseweb.org to request further information or order back issues at no cost to their libraries. The offer is good only while supplies last, and may be withdrawn at any time at NCSE's sole discretion. sS

For the above announcement on NCSE's website, visit:


http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/ZZ/475_tell_your_librarian_9_12_2007.asp

For information about subscribing to Reports of the NCSE, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/membership.asp

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

New science rule sparks the evolution debate anew

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/orl-evolution1607nov16,0,5409733.story

Susan Jacobson | Sentinel Staff Writer

November 16, 2007

The long-standing debate over teaching evolution in school came to Orlando on Thursday night, where about four dozen people assembled at Jones High School to give their views on proposed revisions to state science standards.

The change that's attracting the most attention would require students to learn about evolution as part of an effort to beef up Florida science standards and create a competitive workforce for the 21st century.

However, several of Thursday night's speakers said there's room in the classroom for "intelligent design" -- the idea that life is best explained as derived from an intelligent cause rather than "an undirected process such as natural selection."

The subject has been contentious for years, called into the public consciousness in 1925 by the "Scopes Monkey Trial," in which a Tennessee teacher was charged with violating the law by teaching evolution.

Dave Finnigan, an educational consultant who lives in Celebration, said the Scopes trial should have settled the issue. Intelligent design, he said, is a thinly veiled religious theory that doesn't belong in public schools.

"Evolution is a fact, and you can't dispute it," Finnigan said. "We say it's the 'theory' of gravity. It doesn't turn gravity off."

But several people who spoke Thursday urged state Department of Education officials to allow schools to teach intelligent design and other theories along with evolution.

Teacher and parent Veronica Bryant said there's a lack of fossil evidence to support evolution and that the complexity of life defies it.

"Real science can stand up against other theories," said Bryant, who teaches math at Silver Star Center, an alternative school. "There is nothing wrong with offering alternative viewpoints."

Richard Ellenburg, one of the writers on the committee that revised the standards, said the intelligent design-vs.-evolution debate was not an issue among members.

"Intelligent design is not a science theory, as I've been taught," said Ellenburg, an Orange County science teacher and the 2008 Florida teacher of the year.

Since the proposed standards were made public Oct. 19, the state has received nearly 5,000 online comments from educators and nearly 1,500 from others, including about 700 from parents. Some people also are sending e-mails directly to state Board of Education members.

Among them is Kim Kendall, a St. Augustine mother who is urging friends to contact the state to oppose the teaching of evolution exclusively. In an e-mail, she warned that "No other reasons for existence (like the truth of Creation) will be applied . . . "

"I feel like there's too much scientific data punching a hole in evolution," Kendall said.

The next step is for members of the committee that wrote the standards to analyze public input and possibly make revisions. Public comment ends Dec. 14. The Department of Education will present the standards to the Board of Education.

Susan Jacobson can be reached at sjacobson@orlandosentinel.com

Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel