NTS LogoSkeptical News for 11 June 2010

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, June 11, 2010

Evolution education update: June 11, 2010

A call for creationism to be taught in Russia is in the news, and a batch of new videos is available at NCSE's YouTube channel.

CREATIONISM IN RUSSIA?

A senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church called for the end to the "monopoly of Darwinism" in Russian schools during a recent talk in Moscow, according to Reuters (June 9, 2010). "Darwin's theory remains a theory," Hilarion Alfeyev, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, was quoted as saying. "This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."

Alfeyev was addressing a group of officials from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, not education policymakers; Alfeyev is involved in a variety of ecumenical projects internationally and represents the Russian Orthodox Church in Brussels. According to Reuters, his talk was "dedicated to fighting 'fanatical secularism' of liberals hostile to religion, and called for dialogue with moderate secularists and cooperation with Catholics against common foes."

The veteran dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a recipient of the European Parliament's 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for her work with the civil rights group Memorial, described Alfeyev's call for the teaching of "other theories" as "a dangerous idea," vowing, "we will do all we can to stop it." According to Reuters, "She said it was unlikely religious teaching would replace Darwin in the national curriculum, but it could find its way into some schools with enough pressure from the Church."

Poll data about the acceptance of evolution in Russia is mixed: a 2005 poll reportedly found 26% of Russians accepting evolution and 49% accepting creationism, but a 2003 poll reported that 44% agreed with "Human beings are developed from earlier species of animals"), and a 2009 poll reported that 48% of Russians who "know something about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution" agreed that there was sufficient evidence for the theory. (In comparison, only 41% of Americans agreed.)

As for what ought to be taught in the schools, it seems that Alfeyev's proposal might be popular. The same 2009 poll indicated that 53% of Russians agreed with "Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism," with 13% preferring that such perspectives be taught instead of evolution; only 10% agreed with "Evolutionary theories alone should be taught in science lessons in schools."

Yet despite the lead sentence in the Reuters story, it is unclear whether the Church is endorsing Alfeyev's call. According to Inga Levit, Uwe Hossfeld, and Lennart Olsson, discussing "Creationism in the Russian Educational Landscape" in Reports of the NCSE in 2007, the Russian Orthodox Church "has no officially declared position toward 'scientific creationism' ... [which] plays no significant role in official theological discourse, but unofficially remains a significant part of the Orthodox theological landscape."

Levit, Hossfeld, and Olsson also report that creationism in Russia is frequently visible as part of a sectarian project to impose Orthodox views in the public school system. Although Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Russia (with 63% of the population, according to a 2007 report), there is a significant Muslim minority (6%), as well as a sizable population of non-believers (16%), which might make it unfeasible for the Russian government to capitulate to sectarian proposals to change how evolution is taught.

For the report from Reuters, visit:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100609/lf_nm_life/us_russia_religion_darwin

For the various polls mentioned, visit:
http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1066577.html
http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7/fig07-07.htm
http://www.britishcouncil.org/darwin_now_survey_global.pdf
http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/09-Survey-BritishCouncil-globaleducationDarwineducation-MORIEducationDataTables-FINAL.pdf
http://www.religare.ru/2_42432.html

NEW VIDEOS FROM NCSE

NCSE is pleased to announce that a further batch of videos featuring NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott is now available at NCSE's YouTube channel. There's a nine-part interview with Skepchick.org's Sam Ogden, recorded in September 2009; "Why Darwin Matters," from the Evolutionpalooza celebration sponsored by San Francisco Atheists, recorded in February 2009; and "What's the Fuss About Intelligent Design?" recorded at the University of Washington in May 2006. Tune in and enjoy!

For NCSE's YouTube channel, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncse.com
http://ncse.com

Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter:
http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news

NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter:
http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse
http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd
http://twitter.com/ncse

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
http://ncse.com/membership

Site aims to stop false claims of stem cell cures

http://www.jsonline.com/news/95928579.html

Researchers offer information about treatments to raise awareness of fraud
By Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: June 9, 2010 |(3) Comments

In the last few years, at least four Wisconsin families have embarked on the same journey of faith to the same Chinese stem cell company. But dozens of doctors and stem cell experts interviewed by the Journal Sentinel say that such faith is misplaced.

A website launched Tuesday gives patients and their families information about stem cell treatments in an effort to reduce fraudulent claims of miracle cures.

The site, www.closerlookatstemcells.org, was developed by the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

It includes a list of the top 10 facts patients should know about the treatments and a list of questions that patients should ask. It also provides a link to a patient handbook.

As the number of stem cell treatments grows, so does the risk of fraud, stem cell researchers say.

"The research community has come together to give advice to patients so that they can ask the right kinds of questions," said Naomi Kleitman, program director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who gave advice on information to include.

Earlier this year, the Journal Sentinel ran stories about a company in China that gave inaccurate and misleading information about their treatments, exaggerating their success.

"Stem cells do hold tremendous promise for the treatment of many serious diseases. Yet there are organizations out there that are preying on patients' hopes, offering stem cell treatments - often for large sums of money - for conditions where the current science simply does not support its benefit or safety," Irving Weissman, president of the stem cell research society, said in a news release.

"We want to stress through this initiative that there are internationally accepted medical criteria for getting new medicines into clinics. Patients have a right to know if the clinic or treatment they are considering adheres to these criteria."

What does the Biologic Institute do?

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/what_does_the_biologic_institu.php

Category: Creationism
Posted on: June 11, 2010 11:54 AM, by PZ Myers

A few years ago, the Discovery Institute set up laboratory to do research, the Biologic Institute, which is in principle a good thing — they do claim to want to take a scientific approach to understanding the origin of life, after all. So far, it's been less than spectacular. They published one paper on software that models encoding Chinese characters as an analogy to protein folding. It's mildly interesting, but its connection to intelligent design is tenuous and abstract, and it's not at all clear how they can use it to expose problems in evolution…and even if they do find a problem in their model, it's not a given that it will apply to real biology. One has to wonder what the Intelligent Design creationists are actually doing in their lab. Others have wondered and tried to peek into the goings-on, but have been turned away.

Those madcap jokers at antievolution.org have found another way to peek in. The Biologic Institute is a tax-exempt organization, which means they had to file a form with all kinds of interesting information in it — follow the money! You can look at their Form 990, too, just search for "biologic institute" and you'll get a nice pdf back.

Their income for 2008 was $300,000. That's a tidy sum of money — compared to what I need to run a small lab at a teaching university, it's a spectacular sum of money, and is actually about 10 times more than the yearly supply and maintenance budget for our entire biology department (not counting salaries, of course; the Biologic Institute does pay salaries out of that $300K). Oh, what we could do with that much support…

On the other hand, it's not very much money at all for an outfit with the grand goal "to conduct basic scientific research on topics relating to the origin, organization and operation of living things and their parts, and to the nature of ecosystems and environments conducived to life". The DI is getting some cheap PR out of this, but nowhere near the amount is being invested that would be needed to address their grandiose goal. By comparison, the National Center for Science Education (you can get their Form 990, too!) had a budget of about $1.3 million in the same period. Here are their goals:

Science Education. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education. NCSE educates the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of the creation and evolution controversy, and supply needed information and advice to promote and defend good science education at local, state, and national levels.

The NCSE is specific, focused and actually has a good-sized staff that does a lot of work that is visible to the public. We're getting a bargain there. The Biologic Institute is vague, and while they're operating on a quarter of the budget, doesn't seem to do much.

It is a good racket, though. The director, Douglas Axe, receives a salary of $92,000, which is a heck of a lot more than I get paid (not that that means much: college professors in general aren't exactly rich). Man, if I were in this business for the money, I should have gone into creationism. By comparison, though, you might wonder how much Eugenie Scott gets paid: $77,000. I was surprised — sure, she's also making more than I am, but she's a national figure with far more experience than I have. There is also a collection of well-known people like Barbara Forrest and Kevin Padian who serve on the board of the NCSE and get paid nothing. Again, don't go into science with the expectation of riches.

Forget salaries. They're the biggest part of most organizations budgets, but the news that people are working there isn't news — we want to know what kind of nifty science gadgets are whirring away there. That'll tell us what they're up to. PCR machines? Sequencers? Lasers? Giant saltwater aquaria and bags and bags of squid chow? Here are there reported assets. Don't get too excited.


I guess that's reasonable for an outfit that's coding up software, and not much else. It's kind of a let-down if you're expecting the Biologic Institute were doing biology. (I know, they aren't; they're doing biologic, whatever that is).

But let's not be quick to judge. Maybe they've achieved amazing things with a small lab and limited resources. Here's what they proudly announce as their accomplishments for 2008.


Hang on there…Doug Axe is getting paid $92,000 for getting 4,000 visitors a month to his website? I get more visitors than that in an hour! I've got to do some quick calculations here…if I were getting paid an equivalent amount per visit, based on last month's traffic, I should be getting $67,677,045.43 for a year of Pharyngula! Where's my money?

Now, unfortunately, I can't link to the Biologic Institute web site, because if I did, I'd probably increase their productivity 100 fold.

Creationism in Russia?

http://ncse.com/news/2010/06/creationism-russia-005566

June 10th, 2010

A senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church called for the end to the "monopoly of Darwinism" in Russian schools during a recent talk in Moscow, according to Reuters (June 9, 2010). "Darwin's theory remains a theory," Hilarion Alfeyev, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, was quoted as saying. "This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."

Alfeyev was addressing a group of officials from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, not education policymakers; Alfeyev is involved in a variety of ecumenical projects internationally and represents the Russian Orthodox Church in Brussels. According to Reuters, his talk was "dedicated to fighting 'fanatical secularism' of liberals hostile to religion, and called for dialogue with moderate secularists and cooperation with Catholics against common foes."

The veteran dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a recipient of the European Parliament's 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for her work with the civil rights group Memorial, described Alfeyev's call for the teaching of "other theories" as "a dangerous idea," vowing, "we will do all we can to stop it." According to Reuters, "She said it was unlikely religious teaching would replace Darwin in the national curriculum, but it could find its way into some schools with enough pressure from the Church."

Poll data about the acceptance of evolution in Russia is mixed: a 2005 poll reportedly found 26% of Russians accepting evolution and 49% accepting creationism, but a 2003 poll reported that 44% agreed with "Human beings are developed from earlier species of animals"), and a 2009 poll reported (PDF) that 48% of Russians who "know something about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution" agreed that there was sufficient evidence for the theory. (In comparison, only 41% of Americans agreed.)

As for what ought to be taught in the schools, it seems that Alfeyev's proposal might be popular. The same 2009 poll indicated (PDF) that 53% of Russians agreed with "Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism," with 13% preferring that such perspectives be taught instead of evolution; only 10% agreed with "Evolutionary theories alone should be taught in science lessons in schools."

Yet despite the lead sentence in the Reuters story, it is unclear whether the Church is endorsing Alefeyev's call. According to Inga Levit, Uwe Hossfeld, and Lennart Olsson, discussing "Creationism in the Russian Educational Landscape" in Reports of the NCSE in 2007, the Russian Orthodox Church "has no officially declared position toward 'scientific creationism' ... [which] plays no significant role in official theological discourse, but unofficially remains a significant part of the Orthodox theological landscape."

Levit, Hossfeld, and Olsson also report that creationism in Russia is frequently visible as part of a sectarian project to impose Orthodox views in the public school system. Although Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Russia (with 63% of the population, according to a 2007 report), there is a significant Muslim minority (6%), as well as a sizable population of non-believers (16%), which might make it unfeasible for the Russian government to capitulate to sectarian proposals to change how evolution is taught.

Call for creationism exhibit at Giant's Causeway

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/northern_ireland/10289580.stm

Page last updated at 20:15 GMT, Thursday, 10 June 2010 21:15 UK

A Christian group has said it wants the creationist theory reflected at the planned Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre.

The Caleb Foundation said it wanted equal prominence for its religious viewpoint.

Last month, it emerged that the Culture Minister Nelson McCausland had written to museum officials arguing for greater prominence for creationism.

An SDLP MLA said such an exhibition at the Causeway would be "inappropriate".

The chairman of the Caleb Foundation, Wallace Thompson, has met the tourism minister Arlene Foster to discuss its request.

"All we are asking for is that the views that we hold, which are based on the Word of God, are at least respected and taken on board," he said.

"A Christian politician in a position of power can make a difference."

SDLP MLA Alban Maginnis said he was opposed to a creationist representation at the new facility.

"You are talking about a visitors' centre which will attract people from all over the world," he said.

"It will be dealing with the natural sciences in relation to the Giant's Causeway.

"I do not think it would be appropriate in these circumstances to have a very narrow religious view expressed."


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Russia Church wants end to Darwin school "monopoly"

http://in.reuters.com/article/idINTRE6584JX20100609

Conor Humphries
MOSCOW
Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:14am IST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Orthodox Church called Wednesday for an end to the "monopoly of Darwinism" in Russian schools, saying religious explanations of creation should be taught alongside evolution.

Liberals said they would fight efforts to include religious teaching in schools. Russia's dominant church has experienced a revival in recent years, worrying rights groups who say its power is undermining the country's secular constitution.

"The time has come for the monopoly of Darwinism and the deceptive idea that science in general contradicts religion. These ideas should be left in the past," senior Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion said at a lecture in Moscow.

"Darwin's theory remains a theory. This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has proved divisive in the United States, where Protestant groups promote Creationism, the idea that God made the world as described in the Bible, and the "intelligent design" view positing an unnamed creator.

The atheist Soviet state, which collapsed in 1991, used Darwin to disprove religious teachings. The theory, which biologists say gives a verifiable explanation for how life forms develop through natural selection, now dominates in Russian schools as it does in science teaching in most countries.

Hilarion said the theory that one species could evolve into another had never been proved. Children "should know about the religious picture, the creation of the world, which is common to all the monotheistic religions," he said.

DANGEROUS IDEA

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran dissident, told Reuters Russian liberals would fight any attempt to introduce religious teaching into Russian classrooms, particularly in science.

"It's a dangerous idea and we will do all we can to stop it," she said. "We overcame Communism as the state ideology and certain forces want to replace it with Orthodox Christianity."

She said it was unlikely religious teaching would replace Darwin in the national curriculum, but it could find its way into some schools with enough pressure from the Church.

Hilarion heads the Church's external relations department. His lecture to Russian Foreign Ministry officials in Moscow was dedicated to fighting "fanatical secularism" of liberals hostile to religion, and called for dialogue with moderate secularists and cooperation with Catholics against common foes.

Orthodox Christianity is Russia's dominant religion and both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regularly attend Orthodox services.

Russia also boasts several large religious minorities -- including around 20 million Muslims in a population of 141 million -- which have at times expressed concern about what they say is the privileged place of the Orthodox Church.

Medvedev on June 1 signed a law making July 28 a national holiday to mark the Church's founding with the baptism of Prince Vladimir in Kiev in 988. Muslim lawmakers have since asked for a national holiday to mark the arrival of Islam in Russia.

Hilarion said other faiths should not be worried as the baptism holiday was dedicated to all citizens due to the role of Vladimir's baptism in the foundation of the Russian state.

"It is difficult to even imagine Russia -- if there would even be a Russia ... if that choice had not been made," he said.

(Writing by Conor Humphries; editing by Peter Graff)

[CSC Harangue Related to David Coppedge Affair. Read All Six of the Following Items.]

The ACLU Has a History of Advocating Disparate Treatment for Intelligent Design

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/the_aclu_has_a_history_of_advo034161.html

In my prior post, I critiqued ACLU-affiliated law professor Gary Williams for claiming that David Coppedge's case "probably won't have a shot in court." If Coppedge has no case, then Mr. Williams must be saying that an employee discussing a matter relevant to the workplace and that is not prohibited by any employer policy—in a non-disruptive fashion—can be targeted when other employees expressing different views about the same topic are not penalized. But this is exactly what happened at JPL, a taxpayer funded entity: JPL has no policy against talking about intelligent design (ID), and permits employees to express viewpoints that are hostile towards ID, but when an employee expresses pro-ID speech, he's suddenly harassed, investigated, demoted, and told to stop "pushing his religion." But then again, I wouldn't put it past an attorney affiliated with the ACLU to advocate for disparate and discriminatory treatment of the pro-ID viewpoint.

In the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, many will recall that attorneys working with the ACLU argued that ID is religion. They convinced Judge Jones to rule that Dover's pro-ID policy violated the Lemon test, which says that the "principal or primary effect" of a law "must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion." (For a comprehensive rebuttal to the Kitzmiller ruling, see here.)

The law is clear that it's illegal for public schools to advocate religion, but there's also a long line of cases which prohibits the government from inhibiting, disapproving, opposing, showing hostility towards, or attempting to discredit religion. (See Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677, 683-84 (2005); Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 845-46 (1995); Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 248-49 (1990); Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 690 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring); Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612 (1971); Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 106 (1968); School Dististrict of Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963); Vernon v. City of Los Angeles, 27 F.3d 1385, 1396 (9th Cir. 1994); Vasquez v. Los Angeles County, 487 F.3d 1246, 1256 (9th Cir. 2007); C.F. v. Capistrano Unified School District, 615 F. Supp. 2d 1137 (C.D. Cal. 2009).)

Yet the ACLU-scripted complaint in the Kitzmiller lawsuit explicitly complained that under Dover's ID policy, no one would be attacking ID—what they deemed a "specific religious viewpoint." You have to read this little snippet from the Kitzmiller complaint to appreciate its hypocrisy:

The purpose and effect of the policy are to advance and endorse the specific religious viewpoint and beliefs encompassed by the assertion or argument of intelligent design. Students will not be told of any flaws or weaknesses in intelligent design, much less that the scientific community does not consider it valid science. (pp. 19-20)

So the ACLU opposes advocating ID in public schools (because supposedly it's religion), but would endorse attacking ID by discussing "flaws or weaknesses in intelligent design" in public schools. Using their own phraseology, they apparently would endorse public schools teaching "flaws or weaknesses" of a (purported) "specific religious viewpoint." Is that legal? It's certainly quite hypocritical for a group that claims to uphold the separation of church and state. To quote a law review article I recently published on this very point:

[Jurists] cannot treat these viewpoints like religion in order to strike down their advocacy, but then treat them like science … when they are being critiqued in order to sanction their disapproval. Either a viewpoint is religious and thereby unconstitutional to advocate as correct or critique as false in public schools, or it is scientific and fair game for both advocacy and critique in public schools. In this present author's view, creationism should be considered a religious viewpoint that can be neither advocated as true nor critiqued as false in public schools, and intelligent design should be considered a scientific viewpoint that is fair game for both advocacy and critique in public schools. Whatever the solution is, there is presently a gross lack of legal symmetry, and an overabundance of jurisprudential hypocrisy, if a public school teacher cannot legally say that creationism or intelligent design are scientifically correct, but can call these views scientifically incorrect, or "nonsense."

(Casey Luskin, "Zeal for Darwin's House Consumes Them: How Supporters of Evolution Encourage Violations of the Establishment Clause," 3(2) Liberty University Law Review 403, 444 (Spring, 2009).)

The ACLU promoted this very form of asymmetry and hypocrisy in the Kitzmiller case. A very similar form of this asymmetry and hypocrisy is essentially exactly what is going on at JPL, where employees are permitted to attack ID but when an employee expresses support for ID, he's accused of "pushing religion," ordered to stop advocating ID, and demoted. Unsurprisingly, an ACLU-affiliated law professor thinks JPL did nothing wrong.

Professor Williams may hope that "a case like his probably won't have a shot in court" but it seems that Coppedge has uncovered gross hypocrisy and inconsistency at JPL. If there isn't a legal remedy to prevent this kind of unfairness and hypocrisy, what hope do ID proponents have against those (like many ACLU types) whose true goal appears to be to suppress and censor pro-ID views, using whatever judicial vehicle they find convenient, whatever the cost?

Posted by Casey Luskin on April 27, 2010 9:39 AM | Permalink

Is Pro-Intelligent Design Speech During Work Hours "Not Included" in Protections Against Discrimination?

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/is_prointelligent_design_speec034151.html

In a recent post I explained why David Coppedge is alleging religious discrimination in his lawsuit against NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for shutting down his pro-intelligent design speech, even though intelligent design (ID) is science, not religion. In the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Professor Gary Williams of Loyola Law School (and former head of the Southern California ACLU) argued that even if ID is religion (or, as in Coppedge's case, ID is labeled religion by JPL), that Coppedge's lawsuit is weak:

Certain kinds of religious activity are protected if they are not intrusive - such as wearing certain religious garb - but speech during work hours is not included, he said.

So even if intelligent design is viewed as a religious belief, employers have the right to restrict what their employees discuss in a work context, Williams said.

"If an employee is talking about anything in the workplace that is not related to work, the employer is entitled to say that `I don't want you to do this,"' Williams said. "You're not protected."

(Gary Williams, quoted in San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Intelligent Design proponent who works at JPL says he experienced religious discrimination")

Mr. Williams is of course correct that employers are often permitted to restrict employee speech in the workplace, but perhaps he is not aware that:

(1) part of taxpayer funded JPL's mission with NASA is to investigate origins making ID (as Mr. Williams puts it) wholly "related to work" at JPL;

(2) JPL had no prior policy prohibiting any form of speech regarding ID nor a general policy prohibiting speech they deemed religious; and

(3) JPL employees have in fact been permitted to express ANTI-ID views within the JPL workplace.

But then when Coppedge expressed a pro-ID view, he was sanctioned and demoted on that very basis, essentially punished arbitrarily for violating a policy that never existed.

Coppedge's complaint observes that the "terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" are protected from religious discrimination under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)—and presumably this includes the right to talk to co-workers about your personal views on topics relevant to the workplace (especially where there's no policy against such discussions) without being demoted or harassed. As the complaint says:

FEHA makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against an employee "in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" on the basis of the employee's religion. The California Constitution, Art. 1, §2 (a) provides that "Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right." Art 1, §4 provides that "Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed."

[…]

Defendants violated Plaintiff's civil rights and violated Government Code §§ 12940, et seq., when they demoted him on the declared and perceived belief and pretext that he was engaged in religious activity by discussing ID and handing out DVDs concerning ID. Said demotion consisted on the reclassification of Plaintiff's title and job duties to remove him of the privileges associated with being a Team Lead SA.

If an employer has a blanket policy that prohibits all religious speech in the workplace, perhaps actions like those of JPL would be legally permissible. But as far as I know, there's no general policy at JPL prohibiting any form of religious speech. There was certainly no policy prohibiting the discussion of intelligent design, whether for or against ID. In fact, as noted, JPL has otherwise extended its employees the "privilege" to openly advocate ANTI-ID views within the JPL workplace without ANY SANCTION to their "terms" or "conditions" of employment whatsoever. It's perfectly fine if JPL employees want to attack ID, but JPL cannot then suddenly start punishing those who support ID.

Surely Mr. Williams is not saying that an employee expressing a particular viewpoint on a matter relevant to the workplace—in a non-disruptive fashion—can be punished when there's no policy against that speech and other employees expressing contrary views about the same topic are granted free speech. But this is exactly what happened at JPL. It's called disparate treatment, and when the employee is penalized on the basis of what the employer labels "religious" speech, it's called religious discrimination.

But then again, as I'll explain in a subsequent post, I wouldn't put it past ACLU to advocate for disparate and discriminatory treatment of the pro-ID viewpoint.

Posted by Casey Luskin on April 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Permalink

ACLU Lawyer and ScienceBloggers Make Off-Base Arguments Against Coppedge Case

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/aclu_lawyer_and_scienceblogger034091.html

A law professor from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (who was previously elected head of the Southern California ACLU) was quoted in an article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune commenting on the David Coppedge's lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):

"a case like his probably won't have a shot in court, because courts have viewed intelligent design as a religious belief, rather than a scientific theory, according to Gary Williams, a professor at Loyola Law School."

This raises the question…

Does it Matter to the Case Whether Intelligent Design is Religion?

First, whether courts have or have not "viewed intelligent design as a religious belief" is irrelevant to Coppedge's lawsuit. What matters is that, as the Coppedge v. JPL complaint alleges, one of Coppedge's supervisors angrily asserted, "Intelligent Design is religion," accused Coppedge of "pushing religion," and ordered Coppedge to stop talking about ID on threat of termination. William Becker, Coppedge's attorney, explains why the employer's subjective belief that ID is religion is what matters (rather than the actual status of ID) in a recent ID the Future Podcast:

[W]hat it amounts to is employment discrimination under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, based on the claim that David [Coppedge] was pushing his religion, and therefore it's based upon a discriminatory motive grounded in religious discrimination.

In this case we look into the mind of the employer and what the employer was motivated by. Intelligent design is not religious speech and David Coppedge doesn't believe it's religious speech, but the employer in this case was apparently motivated by the perception that intelligent design is religion. And therefore, the employer, acted in a manner that discriminated against David's speech, believing it to be religiously motivated.

It's kind of an unusual case. It would be similar to somebody discriminating against, say, a non-Muslim who is wearing particular, say, Muslim dress, and is discriminated against based upon the perception that that individual is a Muslim. So the real problem for the employer in this case is not whether or not intelligent design is religious speech, but the fact that they perceived it to be religious speech.

This is why ScienceBlogger Ed Brayton is simply wrong to take the easy way out and claim that "the Intelligent Design crowd" is "engaged in a convenient bit of hypocrisy where they claim that ID is not religious, but if anyone is not allowed to advocate for it then they are being discriminated on the basis of religion" and that "The DI, as usual, is trying to have it both ways -- to claim simultaneously that ID is not religious at all AND that any attempt to suppress the expression of ID is anti-religious discrimination."

There's no need for confusion here unless you want to remain confused about the case. I explained the situation in two perfectly clear sentences in our press release: "Intelligent design is not religion, and nothing in the DVDs that Coppedge shared deals with religion. Even so, it's unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what they deem is religion."

We're being utterly consistent, and if there's any "convenient bit of hypocrisy," it's actually on the part of the evolution lobbyists. In fact, Coppedge's case is not entirely dissimilar from an asymmetry in the law explored in a recent article I published in Liberty University Law Review:

If selective enforcement of the law is a hallmark of tyranny, then we should be exceedingly troubled by both the constitutional implications and hypocrisy of the evolution lobby – behavior that opposes advocating [views like] ID [in public schools] on the grounds they are religious viewpoints, but expressly endorses public schools inhibiting, opposing, and disapproving of those purported religious viewpoints.

(Casey Luskin, "Zeal for Darwin's House Consumes Them: How Supporters of Evolution Encourage Violations of the Establishment Clause," 3(2) Liberty University Law Review 403, 444 (Spring, 2009).)

While Coppedge's case lies outside of the public school arena, one can likewise argue that when employers maintain that ID is religion, they cannot refuse to grant ID advocates the full protections of laws prohibiting religious discrimination. Employers can't label ID as "religion" and then expect to be exempt from religious discrimination laws.

The reality of course is that ID is not religion, but science. How much more, then, should Coppedge's speech advocating ID be protected at a top taxpayer-funded scientific institution like JPL, whose mission includes studying the origin of life and the universe? Whether ID is deemed science or religion, Coppedge's speech should have been permissible. And either way, advocating for ID is apparently a bridge too far for certain supervisors at JPL.

It's really not that complicated.

More on JPL's discriminatory treatment of ID in a subsequent post.

Posted by Casey Luskin on April 21, 2010 9:04 AM | Permalink

At BioLogos, a Disregard for Truth

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/05/at_biologos_a_shameful_disrega034391.html

[Editor's note: This is likely a repost.]

When it comes to factual matters, we've come to expect a certain pious slovenliness from the folks at the BioLogos Foundation. This is the same group of Christian theistic evolution advocates who published a distorting review of Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell by "living legend" Dr. Francisco Ayala, who patently hadn't read the book, as honcho Dr. Darrel Falk was surely aware. Fresh from that display of integrity, BioLogos now slurs David Coppedge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory based on an article from a really sterling peer-reviewed journal, the Huffington Post.

Whoever wrote the unsigned "news" item for BioLogos cites as his lone source the piece by Steven Newton, of the Darwinist lobby group National Center for Science Education. Newton's reporting is none too accurate itself, but BioLogos improved on Newton by introducing falsehoods not even found in the original. BioLogos is supposed to be an outfit devoted to apologetics, reconciling science and faith — an unobjectionable mission as far as it goes. What we get from these guys tends, instead, to be little more than propaganda.

A high-level computer specialist on the Cassini mission to Saturn, David Coppedge sued his employer for demoting and humiliating him. His crime? Giving away the occasional DVD of intelligent design-friendly documentaries, Privileged Planet and Unlocking the Mystery of Life. Coppedge claims — reasonably, it seems — that his constitutional rights were infringed. On Huffington Post, Newton implied with no evident factual basis that Coppedge was doing something much less low-key than his own legal complaint — the only information publicly available to our knowledge — suggests. Newton declares: "Supervisors rightly chastise employees who fail to respect their co-workers." Certainly so, but he gives no reason to think Coppedge "failed to respect" anyone.

The BioLogos author is unsatisfied with merely implied defamation. His item offers prejudicing and false accusations against Coppedge that were not cribbed from the Huffington Post version but simply invented: 1) that Coppedge "continually promoted" the films — you picture him blowing off his work every day to wander around the office pushing DVDs into people's hands; and 2) that he sued merely because he was "informed" that his actions were unwelcome — as opposed to suing because he was unfairly punished by being demoted. Quoth BioLogos:

The final story covered in this [Huffington Post] article concerns David Coppedge, a computer specialist who continually promoted the DVDs Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet to his coworkers. Because his supervisors informed him that his actions were "unwelcome" and "disruptive" to the workplace environment, Coppedge has filed a suit against his company citing "religious discrimination and retaliation," harassment, and "wrongful demotion."

It's a sloppy and uncharitable reading of a source that's uncharitable to begin with. However, it is of a piece with other Darwinist commentary on academic-freedom and free-speech cases.

Thus the very same Steven Newton article invokes Darwinist martyr Christina Comer, erstwhile state science curriculum director for the Texas Education Agency. According to the NCSE's preferred narrative, she was forced out of her job merely for forwarding an email about a planned speech by Professor Barbara Forrest in which Forrest was expected to bash Darwin-doubters. Newton laments that in Texas, "the director of science must 'remain neutral' on the subject of evolution." BioLogos dutifully parrots the NCSE's interpretation, at least here getting the standard Darwinist version right without further embroidering.

But that standard version is itself a gross distortion of what happened between Ms. Comer and her employer. The lady had an extensive record of warnings and complaints against her for acting inappropriately in a freelance capacity — various instance of "insubordination" and "misconduct." Almost all of the Texas Education Agency's difficulties with Ms. Comer had nothing to do with evolutionary curricular matters — on which, because a curriculum dispute was ongoing, she was indeed reasonably required to keep her views to herself.

Contested issues of policy are for elected legislators, not agency staff, to decide. Staff are required to adopt a "neutral" stance till legislators make their decision. Comer was not hired to be a publicist for one side or the other. When she acted as one, this was the last straw for the state agency. A federal judge dismissed her suit against the TEA on precisely that ground. (She has since appealed.)

The justice of Comer's complaint has already been decided, in the negative. Coppedge's has yet to be decided. It's a shame that our friends at BioLogos don't have the sense to suspend judgment till the facts are in, and factually reported. Contributing misinformation of their own isn't just a shame — it is positively shameful.

Posted by David Klinghoffer on May 4, 2010 11:56 AM | Permalink

Correcting Myths About Coppedge's Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/theres_a_lot_of_speculation034221.html

There's a lot of speculation flying around about David Coppedge's lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) alleging wrongful demotion, harassment, and religious discrimination. While more information will undoubtedly come out as the case progresses, here are a few facts that refute some of the false claims being stated:

(1) Based upon the allegations of the complaint, there's no evidence that Mr. Coppedge was on a campaign to distribute intelligent design DVDs to everyone at JPL. His contacts were reasonable and infrequent, intentionally low-key, one-on-one, not disruptive of work, and only about once a month on average. It was far less than the amount of airtime JPL gives for its views endorsing a purely naturalistic origin of life. His sharing was only among coworkers he knows and has worked with for years (not strangers), and none of whom he had any reason to believe would have a hostile reaction.

(2) Likewise, there's no evidence that the punishment against Coppedge had anything to do with his job performance, technical competence or honesty, which was always rated high. One has to be trustworthy in his position because system admins have the root access to all the computers, which is like having the skeleton keys to everything.

(3) No one told Coppedge to stop discussing ID or giving out these DVDs until March, 2009. And when he was told to stop, he stopped.

Despite all of these facts in Mr. Coppedge's favor, he still got demoted for handing out DVDs supporting intelligent design.

Posted by Robert Crowther on April 28, 2010 8:10 AM | Permalink

National Legal Organization Backs Coppedge Lawsuit Over Jet Propulsion Lab Discrimination Against Intelligent Design

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/06/national_legal_organization_ba035551.html#more

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a national legal organization whose allied attorneys have logged over 100 million dollars worth of pro bono hours of legal work, has issued a statement backing David Coppedge's lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A recent article in the Christian Post reporting on the ADF news release summarizes Coppedge's plight:

Last March [2009], Coppedge was accused of "pushing religion" on his co-workers after he began engaging colleagues in conversations about intelligent design – a theory that life and the existence of the universe derive not from undirected material processes but from an intelligent cause – and offering DVDs on the subject when the co-worker expressed interest.

His supervisor, Gregory Chin, allegedly received complaints from employees and threatened the long-time employee with termination if he persisted with his intelligent design discussions.

Coppedge said he would comply with the orders not to discuss the theory, politics or religion in the office but felt his constitutional rights were violated.

He later received a "written warning" which stated that his actions were harassing in nature and created a disruption in the workplace. Thereafter, he was removed from the team lead position in order to "lessen the strife" in the work area. His demotion was announced on a memo that was distributed on April 20, 2009.

According to the amended complaint, Coppedge said he was never told by a co-worker that his discussion of intelligent design was unwelcome or disruptive to their work. He was offered no specific details of the charges allegedly made by other co-workers.

As noted in the article, an amended complaint was recently filed in Coppedge's case by his attorney, William J. Becker Jr., a First Amendment attorney based in Los Angeles. In California, plaintiffs are generally entitled to amend the complaint once without leave before the defendant answers the original complaint. This is commonly done, often for procedural reasons or to make sure that causes of action are properly alleged so as to avoid any prospect of dismissal on a demurrer. The amended complaint now becomes the operative complaint in the case, and it can be downloaded here.

We have previously defended Coppedge's lawsuit against various misguided attacks and criticisms at the following posts:

Posted by Casey Luskin on June 9, 2010 10:49 AM | Permalink

Doug Axe Knows His Work Better Than Steve Matheson

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/06/doug_axe_knows_his_work_better035561.html#more

When Stephen Meyer faced Steve Matheson and Art Hunt at Biola University last month, one scientist's research was key in their debate: Doug Axe, Director of Biologic Institute.

While there's a good deal of back and forth on the subject (as Jonathan Wells deftly summarized here), for the first time Dr. Axe has something of his own to say on the subject of his work. From Biologic Perspectives:

The specific work to which Meyer, Matheson and Hunt referred [4] has added to the scientific case for functional protein sequences being extraordinarily rare within the whole space of possibilities. Matheson started off by arguing not that this deduction of extraordinary rarity is incorrect, but rather that it is irrelevant to the debate between Darwinism and Design.

Axe goes on to explain the problems with Matheson's reasoning:

Part of the difficulty is that the degree of rarity we're talking about here is so far beyond our everyday experience that our intuitions tend to be unreliable. When we think of extraordinarily rare events, we think of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning, both of which are actually very common events on the scale relevant to protein origins. Picture this instead. Suppose a secretive organization has a large network of computers, each secured with a unique 39-character password composed from the full 94-charater set of ASCII printable characters. Unless serious mistakes have been made, these passwords would be much uglier than any you or I normally use (and much more secure as a result). Try memorizing this:

C0$lhJ#9Vu]Clejnv%nr&^n2]B!+9Z:n`JhY:21

Now, if someone were to tell you that these computers can be hacked by the thousands through a trial-and-error process of guessing passwords, you ought to doubt their claim instinctively. But you would need to do some math to become fully confident in your skepticism. Most importantly, you would want to know how many trials a successful hack is expected to require, on average. Regardless of how the trials are performed, the answer ends up being at least half of the total number of password possibilities, which is the staggering figure of 1077 (written out as 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000). Armed with this calculation, you should be very confident in your skepticism, because a 1 in 1077 chance of success is, for all practical purposes, no chance of success.

My experimentally based estimate of the rarity of functional proteins produced that same figure, making these likewise apparently beyond the reach of chance. So, with due caution, let's transfer Matheson's reasoning from the problem of protein origins to this hypothetical hacking problem. It is as though Steve Meyer has said that computers with passwords of the strength described above cannot be hacked by trial and error, and Steve Matheson has responded that password strength has nothing to do with it.

That's a peculiar response. Reading between the lines, I suspect the train of thought is something like this: We know that there are millions of computers on the organization's network, not just the thousands that are to be hacked, and we know that the network is arranged in a branching pattern with neighboring machines having passwords that differ by only one character, so hacking the first machine will make it easy to hack the rest.

Ummm... but we don't really know these things. I can understand why Darwinists presume the equivalent things to be true for proteins (and even want them to be true), but Darwinism is itself the thing in question here, so all its presumptions need to be set aside.

Certainly an IT manager could configure a network in such a highly hacker-friendly way, if that were the objective. But absent any reason to think this was the objective, it would be a mistake to presume so. All we really know is that there are thousands of machines to be hacked and that they all use 39-character passwords. The only sensible deduction under these circumstances is that every attempt to hack one of these machines by sampling passwords must fail.

It seems to me that the default assumption for proteins ought to follow the same generalization—that fantastically rare points in vast spaces don't line up like stepping stones unless something forces them to. Might there be such a force for proteins—even a non-teleological one? Conceivably. So, it would be perfectly reasonable to ask whether something might possibly force functional protein sequences to align in this way. But to dismiss their fantastic rarity as irrelevant, as Matheson has done, is to misunderstand the problem entirely.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Anika Smith on June 10, 2010 12:23 AM | Permalink

Darwinian Tree-Huggers—You Gotta Love Their Devotion

http://biologicinstitute.org/2010/06/09/darwinian-tree-huggers%E2%80%94you-gotta-love-their-devotion/

— June 9th, 2010 by Douglas Axe

Steve Meyer recently gave a lecture summarizing the arguments put forward in his book Signature in the Cell [1] to an audience of 1,400 (including me) at Biola University. [2] After Steve sat down, two of his critics, Steve Matheson and Arthur Hunt, were invited to put their questions to him.

Matheson and Hunt both referred to my work and to Meyer's use of it, Matheson having since posted his points on his blog. [3] As is often the case when complex subjects are debated in front of an audience, things got a bit muddled. I stood up at one point with the intent of commenting but wasn't able to get the attention of the moderator, so I'll comment here instead.

The specific work to which Meyer, Matheson and Hunt referred [4] has added to the scientific case for functional protein sequences being extraordinarily rare within the whole space of possibilities. Matheson started off by arguing not that this deduction of extraordinary rarity is incorrect, but rather that it is irrelevant to the debate between Darwinism and Design. According to him, "What is relevant is whether the protein's place in sequence space is linked through achievable steps to other points in sequence space" in a manner traditionally represented by Darwin's branching tree. [3] His reasoning seems simple enough:

I pointed out that a standard evolutionary account of that tree, whether it's a tree of species or a tree of people or a tree of proteins, makes no prediction about the rarity (or commonness) of function or adaptation within the space that the tree inhabits. In the case of proteins, the branches of the tree are particular proteins, and the proteins are linked to each other by common ancestry. Whether each branch represents a fantastically rare structure that has a function, or just represents one choice among zillions of [comparably functional] alternatives, is really not relevant to the question of how the protein's structure came to be. [3]

But this is a naive understanding of prediction. Theories have both consequences and assumptions. If a theory is correct, then its consequences will prove true when tested, and so will the assumptions on which it is predicated. The claim that a theory is correct therefore amounts to a prediction both that its consequences will prove true and that its assumptions will prove true.

Tree-like relationships are what Darwinian evolution produces—they are the consequence of its operation. But if Darwinism is to work as a theory of origins, it must explain not just trees but trees with remarkable transformations of form and function scattered throughout their branches. For a century and a half this has been the major point in dispute—whether such remarkable transformations can possibly happen through small adaptive steps. If as a rule they can , then Darwinism works. If as a rule they can't, then Darwinism flops.

Matheson recognizes the immediate assumption on which the Darwinian account of proteins rests—that the whole set of biological proteins must be "linked through achievable steps"—but he doesn't seem to see what would have to be true in order for that to be true. Assumptions rarely travel alone.

Part of the difficulty is that the degree of rarity we're talking about here is so far beyond our everyday experience that our intuitions tend to be unreliable. When we think of extraordinarily rare events, we think of winning the lottery or being struck by lightening, both of which are actually very common events on the scale relevant to protein origins.

Picture this instead. Suppose a secretive organization has a large network of computers, each secured with a unique 39-character password composed from the full 94-charater set of ASCII printable characters. Unless serious mistakes have been made, these passwords would be much uglier than any you or I normally use (and much more secure as a result). Try memorizing this:

C0$lhJ#9Vu]Clejnv%nr&^n2]B!+9Z:n`JhY:21

Now, if someone were to tell you that these computers can be hacked by the thousands through a trial-an-error process of guessing passwords, you ought to doubt their claim instinctively. But you would need to do some math to become fully confident in your skepticism. Most importantly, you would want to know how many trials a successful hack is expected to require, on average. Regardless of how the trials are performed, the answer ends up being at least half of the total number of password possibilities, which is the staggering figure of 10 raised to the power 77 (written out as 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000). Armed with this calculation, you should be very confident in your skepticism, because a 1 in 1077 chance of success is, for all practical purposes, no chance of success.

My experimentally based estimate of the rarity of functional proteins produced that same figure, making these likewise apparently beyond the reach of chance. So, with due caution, let's transfer Matheson's reasoning from the problem of protein origins to this hypothetical hacking problem. It is as though Steve Meyer has said that computers with passwords of the strength described above cannot be hacked by trial and error, and Steve Matheson has responded that password strength has nothing to do with it.

That's a peculiar response. Reading between the lines, I suspect the train of thought is something like this: We know that there are millions of computers on the organization's network, not just the thousands that are to be hacked, and we know that the network is arranged in a branching pattern with neighboring machines having passwords that differ by only one character, so hacking the first machine will make it easy to hack the rest.

Ummm… but we don't really know these things. I can understand why Darwinists presume the equivalent things to be true for proteins (and even want them to be true), but Darwinism is itself the thing in question here, so all its presumptions need to be set aside.

Certainly an IT manager could configure a network in such a highly hacker-friendly way, if that were the objective. But absent any reason to think this was the objective, it would be a mistake to presume so. All we really know is that there are thousands of machines to be hacked and that they all use 39-character passwords. The only sensible deduction under these circumstances is that every attempt to hack one of these machines by sampling passwords must fail.

It seems to me that the default assumption for proteins ought to follow the same generalization—that fantastically rare points in vast spaces don't line up like stepping stones unless something forces them to. Might there be such a force for proteins—even a non-teleological one? Conceivably. So, it would be perfectly reasonable to ask whether something might possibly force functional protein sequences to align in this way. But to dismiss their fantastic rarity as irrelevant, as Matheson has done, is to misunderstand the problem entirely.

In fact, although Matheson is right that my prior paper focused on the rarity of functional protein sequences rather than on their isolation, a recent paper examines directly the implications of their extreme rarity for protein evolution. [5] Rarity is by no means the only aspect of the problem that has to be considered, but it certainly is a key aspect, and in the final analysis it appears to be the decisive one.

1. Signature in the Cell

2. http://www.biola.edu/news/articles/2010/100526_id.cfm

3. http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/2010/05/bread-and-circus-signature-in-cell-at_28.html

4. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2004.06.058

5. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.1

rsspermalink

New research: Electropollution can cause diabetes (type-3)

http://www.naturalnews.com/028967_electropollution_diabetes.html

[Editor's note: This is what passes for medical advice in some circles.]

Thursday, June 10, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) Most people are familiar with type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes, but did you know researchers have discovered a third type of diabetes? Type-3 diabetes, as they are calling it, affects people who are extra sensitive to electrical devices that emit "dirty" electricity.

Type-3 diabetics actually experience spikes in blood sugar and an increased heart rate when exposed to electrical pollution ("electropollution") from things like computers, televisions, cordless and mobile phones, and even compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Dr. Magda Havas, a PhD from Trent University in Canada, recently published the results of a study she conducted on the relationship between electromagnetic fields and diabetes in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. In it, she explains how she and her team came to discover this about why electropollution is so dangerous for many people.

Blood sugar goes haywire

One of the most interesting finding in her study was that electro-sensitive people whose blood sugar decreases when they go for a walk outdoors actually experience an increase in blood sugar when walking on a treadmill.

Treadmills, you see, are electrical devices that emit electrical pollution. But interestingly, even the physical exertion of walking on the treadmill did not make up for the blood sugar spiking effect of the EMFs emitted by the treadmills. Despite the exercise, in other words, type-3 diabetics experienced significant spikes in blood sugar when walking on the treadmill.

Dirty electricity is bad for everyone, but it is especially bad for people who are type-3 diabetics. And Dr. Havas explains in her study that even having an electrical device plugged into the wall near someone who is type-3 diabetic can cause them problems.

We have to rethink environmental influences of modern living

I find this research fascinating, not only because it proves that electromagnetic waves impact blood sugar and heart rate, but because there could be thousands, if not millions, of diabetics who may be suffering from a diabetes misdiagnosis right now.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because a 54 year-old pre-diabetic man who participated in the study was found to experience serious blood sugar spikes only when he was working in an urban environment around power lines or on his computer. When he was out camping away from the city, his blood sugar was just fine.

The man tested his blood sugar every morning in different situations and his levels were always higher when electrical fields were nearby. On one of the mornings, he forgot to test himself prior to beginning work on the computer. His blood sugar levels were higher than normal, registering around 205 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). But after stepping away from the computer for only ten minutes, his levels dropped nearly 20 mg/dL.

The degree to which electromagnetic pollution affects the body is clearly quite astonishing, and this study illustrates that. But it makes you wonder how many people have diabetes simply because of EMF pollution (and not solely due to their diet or lack of exercise, as we have been taught).

High EMFs gave this woman diabetes

Take the case of the 80 year-old woman whose house tested high for EMF pollution. Prior to installing a system of filters around her house designed to reduce "electro-smog" levels, her blood sugar was high and she was using insulin each day in order to balance her blood sugar levels. After installing the filters (which reduced EMF pollution by roughly 98 percent), the woman's blood sugar levels dropped by 33 percent and her insulin requirements plunged a whopping 75 percent!

This idea that reducing the electropollution of your house could drastically reduce a patient's need for insulin has never even registered in conventional (mainstream) medicine. Yet it could be a crucial understanding for tens of millions of diabetics around the world.

The study mentioned here classifies the type of diabetes caused by electromagnetic pollution as type-3 diabetes. While those with type-1 or type-2 diabetes can also have type-3, the data seems to indicate that a person can also exclusively have type-3 without any overlay of the other two types. In other words, their diabetes may be solely due to electromagnetic pollution.

And since pre-diabetics can be pushed over the edge by EMF pollution, there is no telling how many people actually have type-3 rather than type-2 diabetes.

If you ask most mainstream medical "professionals", they will deny that type-3 diabetes even exists. According to most of them, the idea that electromagnetic pollution contributes to disease is some sort of whacked out conspiracy theory. But there's more to the study that you need to know...

Wireless signals interfere with the heart

For one portion of the study, Dr. Havas had patients lie down on a bed with a cordless phone placed two feet away from their heads. The phone was plugged into the wall, but for each testing session, the electricity was either on or off.

Neither the patient nor the doctor administering the test was aware of whether or not the phone was live or dead during each session. (This is what is known as a double-blind study, the type most respected in clinical trials).

At the completion of that part of the study, researchers observed that EMF-sensitive patients experienced significant increases in their heart rates during the sessions when the phone was being powered and emitting radio signals. When it was turned off, these same patients returned back to their normal heart rates almost instantaneously.

Why is this important? First of all, a double-blind study is the litmus test used in the medical profession to verify that a study is legitimate. Since nobody involved knew when the power was on or off, the results are completely unbiased and hold a lot more sway than if it had been conducted a different way.

Secondly, it illustrates that EMF pollution really does speed up the heart rates of certain people. And since a rapid pulse is one of the many symptoms of diabetes, it seems reasonable to suspect that EMF pollution could be a fundamental cause of diabetic symptoms for a significant portion of the diabetic population.

This makes you wonder about the harm caused by mammograms, CT scans and other medical scanning technologies that blast the body with electromagnetic radiation, doesn't it?

Electromagnetic radiation leads to many diseases, including cancer

Our bodies are constantly barraged by electromagnetic radiation from numerous electronic sources, and most people don't think twice about this high level of exposure (probably because many don't even realize it's there), but the truth is that all this EMF pollution is leading to widespread illness.

Most of the recent research on EMF pollution has focused on cell phones, which makes sense because people take their cell phones with them everywhere they go and when they use them, they often hold them right next to their skulls. Cell phone radiation is probably one of the most dangerous EMF polluters because the devices remain in very close contact with the body for long periods of time.

A 2008 study published in New Scientist revealed that cell phone radiation causes human cell proteins to improperly express themselves. Similar studies also found that the radiation damages living DNA, creates leakages in the blood-brain barrier, and increases estrogen and adrenaline levels, disrupting hormone balance.

According to one statistic from a 2008 study, adults who use a cell phone over the course of a decade increase their chances of developing brain cancer by 40 percent. Even worse, a Swedish study found that people who start using a cell phone before the age of 20 increase their risk of developing a brain tumor by 500 percent!

Mainstream science holds conflicting views (as usual)

Of course, many in the medical establishment simply deny that electro-smog has anything to do with health or disease. And it doesn't matter how many studies are conducted on the matter; many continue to insist that there is not enough evidence that EMFs cause any harm.

Not everyone feels this way, of course, but sadly most of today's experts seem unable (or unwilling) to put two and two together and make the connection between electromagnetic pollution and disease.

There are many contributors to disease in our environment. EMFs represent just one. But to deny that electromagnetic pollution is harmful is quite narrow minded. Dr. Havas' study provides more than enough evidence that at least some people are suffering because of the electrical devices that surround them.

Our world, of course, is full of electromagnetic devices -- and some of them may surprise you. A typical hair dryer, for example, emits an explosion of electromagnetic radiation that's usually aimed right at the skull. Typical office environments shower employees with electropollution from fluorescent lighting, and even exercise gyms can subject visitors to a dense field of electromagnetic pollution (from all the electronic exercise machines).

It all gives credence to the idea of getting into nature more often, doesn't it? If you're sensitive to electropollution, the farther away you get from the city, the better you'll feel. No wonder most people innately gravitate to such natural environments like forests, lakes and ocean beaches.

So, does all this research mean we should all get rid of our phones and computers and return to the pre-information age? You could always join an Amish community. They're remarkably healthy, and part of that may be due to their lack of electropollution.

But for mainstream people, a more practical solution is to install some EMF filters around your home.

Some solutions for electromagnetic pollution

As mentioned in the study, home EMF filters are one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate the stray electrical signals that plague your house. These filters will capture electrical "noise" from things like televisions, computers and phones, and return it back into the line or into the ground. These can be connected to the outlets where these devices are plugged in.

Keeping Wi-Fi devices like cell phones and wireless routers away from your body as much as possible is another good idea. If you have a wireless router at home, place it away from areas where people sleep or spend a lot of time. Even having it just a few feet farther away can make a big difference in a reduction of the electropollution exposure from it.

When charging your cell phone, plug it in across the room from you. Especially at night when you are sleeping, it is best to turn off as many electrical devices as possible and to keep them away from your bed when sleeping. And beware of electric blankets: They produce a very strong electromagnetic field.

Try to use the speakerphone as much as possible when talking on the phone, or use an "air-tube" device that stops the signal short before it reaches your head. Never walk around with an idle bluetooth attached to your head, because these devices deliver a steady stream of EMF radiation directly into your head. I would recommend not using one at all, but if you do use one, take it off when not in use.

It's also a good idea to keep your phone in your pocket or purse only when necessary, and to keep it away from your body at all other times. Cell phones are intermittently communicating with network towers, so the closer they are to our bodies, the more radiation we are exposed to. So if you're not going to be using it for a while, just turn it off.

Finally, it is crucial to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of outdoor exercise. Eating lots of nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of clean water, and minimizing intake of toxic preservatives, food additives, and refined sugars will do wonders to build a strong and vibrant neurological system that will resist some of the impact of electromagnetic pollution.

The reason I mention outdoor exercise is because, just like in the study, certain indoor exercise equipment like treadmills can actually cause more harm than good (for certain people). So go outside and take a walk or a jog. The sunshine will boost your vitamin D levels and the fresh air will help rejuvenate your system. (Just be sure to stay away from the power lines.)

Cancer death puts homeopathy in dock

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/cancer-death-puts-homeopathy-in-dock/story-e6frg6nf-1225877659069

Debbie Guest From: The Australian June 10, 2010 12:00AM

A homeopath told a patient with rectal cancer to avoid mainstream medicine because alternative treatment alone could cure her, an inquest was told.

Perth's Penelope Dingle, the wife of prominent Perth environmental and nutritional toxicologist Peter Dingle, agreed to be treated with alternative therapies and refused to have surgery to remove the cancer soon after she was diagnosed in 2003.

Instead, she adhered to a strict diet and regular homeopath treatments before becoming so unwell she had to have emergency surgery to remove a bowel obstruction.

By this stage, the cancer had spread and two years later, in 2005, Dingle died from complications of the cancer.

Giving evidence at Dingle's inquest yesterday before West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope, her sister Toni Brown said seeing Dingle in 2003 was like watching "somebody being tortured".

Under the pact, they agreed that only alternative medicine would be used and Dr Dingle would then write a book about curing his wife's cancer.

Mrs Brown said that under the agreement, Dr Dingle would look after his wife's vitamin and antioxidant treatment and Ms Scrayen would deal with homeopathy treatments and diet.

Mrs Brown said that in 2003 her sister was on a strict diet and lost a significant amount of weight but each time she expressed concern, Dingle and her husband told her the treatment was going well.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Lyle Housiaux, said Dingle's diaries, which have been tendered as evidence, revealed that Ms Scrayen said homeopathy would cure her and she had to avoid conventional medicine, including pain relief.

Mr Housiaux said Ms Scrayen disagreed with this and said she had told the Dingles she could not advise them on whether to have surgery.

Mr Housiaux said the Coroner may make recommendations for the regulation of homeopathy.

Ethics and claims of alternative medicine

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sciencetoday/2010/0610/1224272187149.html

The Irish Times - Thursday, June 10, 2010

THIS YEAR marks the 350th anniversary of the foundation of The Royal Society. The motto of the society, Nullias in Verba, generally translated as "On the word of no one", presents us with a laudable aspiration and at the same time a significant challenge., writes PAUL O'DONOGHUE

The intention of the motto was to caution against blind trust in authority and to encourage scepticism and confidence in empirical data.

At a time when scientific progress is so rapid that experts have difficulty attending to findings outside their own immediate area, how is the population at large to make sense of conflicting claims? It is not possible to work from first principles, or to conduct one's own experiments. It is indeed impossible in practice, not to depend on authoritative sources.

Some examples will highlight the problems that may arise if poor choices are made as to whom we trust. Andrew Wakefield, the doctor at the centre of the controversy concerning the suggestion that the MMR vaccine resulted in an increased risk of autism, was recently struck off for serious misconduct by the General Medical Council in the UK. His initial research was published in 1998.

As a consequence of the erroneous connection drawn between the MMR vaccine and autism, uptake of the vaccine dropped significantly, impacting negatively on overall immunity within the population and increasing the risk to children of contracting measles, mumps and rubella.

Once this incorrect connection took hold in the public mindset, it was very difficult to shift and there are still significant numbers of parents and various campaigners who support Wakefield.

Two other recent examples of questionable authoritative claims come from popular self-help books. Michael O'Doherty is based in Co Clare and is co-founder of an alternative medicine system called Plexus Bioenergy. His book, entitled Just Imagine: a life without illness, is replete with pseudoscientific claims and common scientific terms are misused with reckless abandon.

The book is filled with anecdotes and testimonials from well-known personalities in place of what would normally be sought as evidence.

Two of the most concerning chapters in the book deal with cancer and children's health respectively. O'Doherty states on page 98 that when people live with someone with cancer, or excessively fear it then "I believe it is inevitable that they will create the cancer". This may explain why he suggested to his wife and her friends not to check their breasts for lumps, because if they did so, they would eventually find them.

O'Doherty states that "If you genuinely believe that you have something, and fear that something, then you will create it". This he states, "is a fact supported by science and quantum physics whereby your thoughts have the capacity to affect your physiology and your emotions affect your DNA". He claims to have treated thousands of people.

With regard to children, he claims that his system can hugely benefit children with ADHD, autism, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and many more conditions. He advises parents that "you need to exhaust every avenue . . . Do not depend solely on the health service and drug companies".

Another book published this year, The compassionate intentions of illness, by Tony Humphreys and Helen Ruddle, both trained in mainstream psychology, is also quite concerning in its claim that every illness is created by a wise "self", a kind of homuncular entity, as a substitute response in the face of threats to self expression.

It is suggested, for example, that men "may require open-heart surgery to bring attention to their dire need to love and be loved" if they cannot express these needs otherwise.

They claim that if such threats to self-expression are not recognised and addressed as a consequence of a minor illness being created, then a more serious one will arise. Latter conditions include multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, and cancer.

Unfortunately, many people take seriously such claims as made by those quoted above and may be adversely affected if their interpretation of what is being claimed deflects them from appropriate treatment.

What might be done to improve things? People need to be more sceptical; to question whether claims made make sense, are supported by evidence other than anecdotes and testimonials, and are reflective of the consensus within the medical and scientific community. A "yes" to these three merits increases confidence.

Scientists and other mainstream practitioners may be short on time, but have an ethical obligation to respond seriously to alternative and questionable claims.

Journalists likewise need to take exceptional care when reporting on alternative claims, and publishers, while in the business of selling books, might more honestly label fantasy as fantasy.

Paul O'Donoghue is a clinical psychologist and founder member of the Irish Skeptics Society. Contact@irishskeptics.net.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Demoted Employee for NASA Mission Fights Discrimination

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100608/demoted-employee-for-nasa-mission-fights-discrimination/

Society|Tue, Jun. 08 2010 12:59 PM EDT
By Nathan Black|Christian Post Reporter

An amended complaint was filed Monday in a lawsuit against a NASA laboratory in California on behalf of an employee who was demoted for discussing his beliefs about intelligent design.

David Coppedge, who was demoted from the "team lead" position on Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cassini mission to Saturn, filed suit against JPL. He was demoted for discussing his beliefs on intelligent design with co-workers.Since his demotion last year, David Coppedge, who had served as a "team lead" technical specialist on Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cassini mission to Saturn, has been "stigmatized in such a way that career advancement opportunities have been foreclosed to him," the complaint reads.

Last March, Coppedge was accused of "pushing religion" on his co-workers after he began engaging colleagues in conversations about intelligent design – a theory that life and the existence of the universe derive not from undirected material processes but from an intelligent cause – and offering DVDs on the subject when the co-worker expressed interest.

His supervisor, Gregory Chin, allegedly received complaints from employees and threatened the long-time employee with termination if he persisted with his intelligent design discussions.

Coppedge said he would comply with the orders not to discuss the theory, politics or religion in the office but felt his constitutional rights were violated.

He later received a "written warning" which stated that his actions were harassing in nature and created a disruption in the workplace. Thereafter, he was removed from the team lead position in order to "lessen the strife" in the work area. His demotion was announced on a memo that was distributed on April 20, 2009.

According to the amended complaint, Coppedge said he was never told by a co-worker that his discussion of intelligent design was unwelcome or disruptive to their work. He was offered no specific details of the charges allegedly made by other co-workers.

Since the incident, Coppedge continues to suffer embarrassment, emotional distress, humiliation, indignity, apprehension, fear, ordeal and mental anguish, the complaint states. Specifically, he has remained constrained in his ability to express his personal views and has been "kept a prisoner of JPL's systemic ideological culture." The JPL employee also "endures each working day under a cloud of suspicion and a threat of termination lest he say anything by which someone might take offense."

Coppedge's attorney, William J. Becker, Jr., who is part of the Alliance Defense Fund, argues, "Discussing the origins of the universe with willing co-workers is not punishable just because it doesn't fit a prevailing view at JPL."

Becker further contends in the amended complaint that Coppedge suffered injustice and was deprived of his constitutional right to freely speak, write and publish his sentiments.

The written warning against Coppedge that was issued last April was expunged from his personnel file this year after his supervisors and manager revisited the matter. But he was not restored to the team lead position because the company continued to believe that his conduct in distributing the DVDs and advancing his views on intelligent design was inappropriate.

ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco commented, "Mr. Coppedge has always maintained that ID is a scientific theory. Regardless, JPL has discriminated against him on the basis of what they deem is 'religion.' The only discussion allowed is what fits the agenda. Stray, and you are silenced and punished. It just doesn't fit with JPL's otherwise fine reputation in the industry."

The case is Coppedge v. Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Science will win out over religion, says Hawking

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/SciTech/20100607/stephen-hawking-god-100607/

Date: Monday Jun. 7, 2010 7:56 PM ET

Renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says science and religion are fundamentally incompatible -- and the former will always come out on top.

"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, (and) science, which is based on observation and reason," Hawking told ABC News's Diane Sawyer in an interview Monday.

"Science will win because it works."

The British scientist, who has built his career studying the universe and its origins, flat-out rejected creationism and the possibility of a creator.

"What could define God (is thinking of God) as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking, 68, told Sawyer.

"They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."

Hawking, author of the best-selling "A Brief History of Time," has made similar arguments in the past -- and consequently come under fire from religious groups.

The physicist said in 2006 he was chastised by then-Pope John Paul II for attempting to study the birth of the universe, which the pope deemed "the work of God."

Hawking arrived in Canada on Saturday to kick off a six-week research visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont. The institute has pledged to build a research centre in his honour.

Hawking is best known for his study of black holes. The former Cambridge professor was diagnosed at 21 with a degenerative disease that hampers his speech and movement, but carries on his work with the help of a wheelchair and an electronic speech synthesizer.

Charles Darwin and Adolf Hitler: Rethinking the 'Links'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ruse/charles-darwin-and-adolf_b_601718.html

Michael Ruse.Posted: June 7, 2010 07:44 PM

You could make a good case for saying that Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) started two and a half thousand years ago with Socrates, because it was he who first thought up the Argument from Design to prove the existence of God. The world is too complex and functional to be the product of blind, unguided laws of nature, the argument goes. Hence there must be another reason, an intelligence that we can call "God." The modern form of IDT started in 1991 with Darwin on Trial by now-retired law professor Phillip Johnson. This was followed later in the decade by Darwin's Black Box, by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, and then by The Design Inference by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski. It was argued that certain aspects of the world, the world of organisms particularly, exhibit an "irreducible complexity" -- the flagellum of bacteria was a favorite example -- that and the only satisfactory explanation is a guiding, intervening intelligence. This argument asserts that the Darwinian theory of evolution through natural selection is just wrong.

IDT is not straightforwardly a variant of traditional American creationism. For a start, although Young Earth Creationists represent supporters of IDT who believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old, other IDT proponents, notably Behe, are very comfortable with the generally accepted ages of 15 billion years for the universe and about 4.5 billion for the Earth. However, there are links between IDT and creationism to the extent that some (myself included) refer to it as "Creationism Lite." In a devastating critique, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, philosopher Barbara Forrest and scientist Paul Gross showed just how deeply IDT is entwined with an evangelical Christian agenda. Moreover, IDT is pushed as a front for a very conservative social program -- anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-capital punishment, and anti-feminism. (I used to wonder why Phillip Johnson was so obsessed with cross-dressing. I really don't think that Richard Dawkins goes home and slips into a bra and panties. Then someone pointed out to me that the real target is stroppy broads in pant suits -- think Hilary Clinton meeting world leaders.)

IDT has had a somewhat mixed second decade. In the first part of the 1990s it did really well, aided especially by the support of the conservative Discovery Institute, a think tank in Seattle. But then the forces of science started to fight back seriously. First-class books refuting IDT were published, notably Brown University biologist Ken Miller's Finding Darwin's God, which shows just how threadbare are the scientific pretensions of IDT, and Michigan State University philosopher Robert Pennock's The Tower of Babel, which did the same on the philosophical front. As is well know, in 2005 the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania wanted IDT introduced as part of the biology curriculum in their schools; after a much-publicized trial the judge, a conservative Christian appointed by George W. Bush, wrote a scathing condemnation of the board's actions.

However, it would be silly to think that IDT has just curled up and died or gone away. It is still cherished in the hearts of many American evangelicals, and recently it has even been making inroads in the most respectable of circles. For instance, in my own field of philosophy the leading philosopher of religion, just-retired Alvin Plantinga, has long been sympathetic to its claims. (Even though he worked at Notre Dame University he is a Calvinist, which makes his sympathy for IDT all the more surprising given Calvin's insistence on the rule of law down here in God's creation). Now, the no-less-leading social philosopher from New York University, Thomas Nagel, has come out in favor of teaching IDT in schools. He has endorsed a recent book by Discovery Institute associate Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, naming it in the Times Literary Supplement as one of the top books of 2009.

I don't here want to go back over the criticisms of IDT as science. I really just don't see anything new that needs saying on that front. And in an earlier blog I drew attention to what seem to be grave theological problems with IDT. Namely, if you get God involved on an ongoing basis in the creative process, then although He deserves praise for the good things, He also walks right into criticism for the horrendously bad things, like deleterious mutations that cause lifelong suffering and pain. However, I do want to draw attention to a different tactic that is now employed by IDT supporters: trying to tar Darwinian natural selection theory with the sins of National Socialism. There is a direct line, so we learn, from Charles Darwin to Adolf Hitler. As some have tried to pin the blame on Martin Luther, so now the blame is being pinned on the author of the Origin of Species. From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, by Discovery Institute associate Richard Weikart, is a prime example, although if you go to Amazon.com you will see that there are others. In like vein, the movie Expelled, featuring former New York Times columnist Ben Stein, made the connection a major story theme.

Prima facie, you might think that there is something to all of this. If you look at Charles Darwin's Descent of Man, published in 1871, you will find some pretty conventional Victorian ideas about the races. At the other end, if you look at Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, you will find some passages that do seem to draw on Darwinian theory: "Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live."

Now, let me say, speaking now as a historian of ideas, I don't think you can or should say definitively that there are no links. Apart from anything else, something had to lead to Hitler and the Nazis, and if you eliminate Luther and eliminate Darwin and eliminate -- well, you know the tune -- then you end up with no causes at all leading to the horrendous movement that overtook Germany in the 1930s. I would be very surprised if the anti-Semitism of Christianity and the racism of the nineteenth century had no causal role. However, before you rush to conclude that the IDT crew is correct and that significant links can be found between Darwin himself and Hitler, there are a number of points that should be considered.

First, the members of the Darwin family were fanatical anti-slavery campaigners. In the early part of the nineteenth century, when the young Darwin was growing up, this was the family obsession. And it rubbed off on him. On the voyage of the Beagle, he had a horrendous row with his captain, Robert Fitzroy, over slavery in South America. And during the American Civil War he was a strong supporter of the North, precisely because of the slavery issue (many Brits supported the South because of the links with the cotton trade). Descent of Man, for all that it did reflect the concerns of a middle-class Victorian gentleman, was no clarion call to racial superiority. Darwin was explicit that when the races met and (as so often was the case) the non-Europeans suffered, it came not from intellectual or social superiority but because non-Europeans caught the strangers' diseases and suffered and died.

Second, while it is true that many used Darwin's ideas to promote specific social policies, and that some used them to promote aggression -- the pre-World War One German general Count Friedrich von Bernhardi argued strongly for the moral imperative of Germany fighting and destroying competitors -- there were others who promoted very different ideas. The co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, was an ardent socialist and feminist in the name of Darwinism. The Russian Prince Peter Kropotkin argued for anarchy in the name of Darwin. And Vernon Kellogg, associate of then future president Herbert Hoover, argued for pacifism on Darwinian lines. Wars kill the best and brightest and that is biologically stupid.

So you can argue that Darwinism, a bit like Christianity, supported a plethora of quite contradictory positions. This being so then, a bit like Christianity, one might ask just how genuine and important was the support being offered. There was a propaganda value, true. But genuine links are another matter. (I should say that since I am criticizing the IDT folk for thus tying Darwin to Hitler, I am no less critical of Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion tying Jesus to Hitler. The truth, as always, is much more complex than it appears in such simplistic analyses.)

Finally, when you turn to Hitler himself, the story is murky. To put the matter politely, he was not a well-educated man. There is no evidence he studied Darwin's writings or much about them. At most, he was picking stuff up off the street or from the barroom or from the doss house where he lived in Vienna before the War. And when you look at Mein Kampf in more detail, the story seems less straightforward. Just before the apparently Darwinian sentiments quoted above, he wrote: "All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning." What he is really on about is the Jews. Darwin would have been appalled at such a connection.

So take my advice. Reject IDT as bad theology, bad philosophy, and bad science. And while you are at it, reject it as bad history. Charles Darwin was not to blame for Adolf Hitler.