NTS LogoSkeptical News for 17 December 2010

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, December 17, 2010

After 5 years, Dover intelligent design ruling's impact still felt

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_16883908

ANDREW SHAW The York Dispatch
Updated: 12/17/2010 01:45:01 PM EST

"I still get my hate mail. I do hear about it. It's amazing to me how much it's still brought up." -- Tammy Kitzmiller, one of the plaintiffs who fought to keep intelligent design out of science classes in Dover Tammy Kitzmiller's family jokingly refers to Dec. 20 as "Kitzmas."

Five years ago on that day, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III handed down a 139-page ruling on her eponymous case, Kitzmiller v. Dover.

The case made Kitzmiller -- and Dover -- world famous in a legal battle versus Dover Area school board on whether intelligent design could be taught as an accepted scientific theory.

The battle ended with Jones banning Dover schools from ever enforcing an intelligent design policy and ruled intelligent design is religion, not science.

Kitzmiller's daughter was in one of the ninth-grade biology classes in which students were read a statement about intelligent design's being an alternative theory to evolution.

Kitzmiller was one of 11 people who sued the school board, saying it had religious motives for putting in place a policy requiring the statement.

Intelligent design says living things are so complicated they had to have been created by a higher being, that life is too complex to have developed by the method described by 19th-century biologist Charles Darwin.

Many of the participants, particularly on the plaintiffs' side, say they still keep in touch and even have reunions. Dec. 20 is a date circled on the calendar.

Jones still shakes his head in thinking how big the case got, too.

"I think for all of us who participated in the trial, it became part of the fabric of our lives," he said.

The defendants, however, seem to want to keep their distance from a trial.

Alan Bonsell, a school board member who was accused by Jones of lying on the witness stand, said only that he "did not want to talk about that anymore" and declined to further discuss the case when reached recently in person. Several others have refused to talk as well.

Kitzmiller doesn't want to talk much about the trial that made her famous, either. That's

not a surprise, considering she said she originally was hoping to remain anonymous and be referred to as "Jane Doe."

"It's kind of hard to embrace it. I know it was very important. I tried to move on. It does not define who I am," Kitzmiller said.

Although she's tried to move on, some supporters of intelligent design have not.

"I still get my hate mail. I do hear about it. It's amazing to me how much it's still brought up," Kitzmiller said.

The entire ordeal still doesn't seem quite real, she said. But she still very much remembers certain dates, from Sept. 26, a day "burned on my mind" as the start of the trial, to Dec. 20, the day the decision came down.

Participants' thoughts: Many of the key participants of the case were contacted this month to recall their memories of the trial, how it affects them now and what has changed in the debate on teaching intelligent design.

Witold "Vic" Walczak is a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen.

So when he got the opportunity -- twice -- to meet The Boss because of his connection to the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, he jumped on it.

"There are a lot of wonderful things that happened," because of that case, Walczak said.

Walczak, who works for the ACLU, served as an attorney for the plaintiffs during the trial.

The case has gone well beyond brief celebrity for him, though. He believes the legal precedent, even if it wasn't at a Supreme Court level, endures today.

That doesn't mean cases haven't cropped up, or another groundbreaking case won't happen over intelligent design, he said. But it at least slowed things down.

Intelligent design supporters have "evolved, pun intended," he said.

"They are evolving their strategy, morphing it," he said. They'll figure out new ways to avoid words like "creationism," Walczak believes.

They still will have to contend with the ramifications of Kitzmiller, he said, a case that was bigger "than any of us ever dreamed it would've been."

U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III never felt the need to defend his decision.

He believes his 139-page ruling speaks for itself.

"I understand the criticisms that were lodged against me," said Jones, who still serves on the bench five years after he presided over the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.

"The decision seems to be holding up well ... No other school district has engaged in this kind of a battle. I hope that's a product of the decision and perhaps the way that I wrote the decision," he continued.

The case has been referred to in similar disputes around the country, such as a recent science textbook legal battle in Louisiana.

He said the trial showed that some people who support intelligent design don't fully understand evolution. And if a school board anywhere in the country does want to consider adding intelligent design in the curriculum, they need only look at his written decision, he said.

"They may agree or disagree, but at least they can see, in an encapsulated form, the proof, at least the way I saw it, that favors evolution. And they can see the proof, or lack thereof, as it relates to ID," he said.

Jones has tried to use the case as a springboard to helping the public understand just what it is a judge does. It was evident in the aftermath of Kitzmiller that they are under a wrong impression, he said.

"What it's done for me, it made me understand, above everything else, that my fellow citizens don't have a real good understanding of how the judicial branch works ... People think we're political," said Jones, who has given dozens of speeches on the topic in the past five years.

As a man from Schuylkill County, "that I'd be in Time magazine, let alone on the cover of Time magazine, is still something I reflect on. It seems like it happened to somebody else," he said. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of 2005.

William Buckingham says he has a $100 bill ready for any person who can point to any part of the Constitution that mentions a "separation of church and state."

Buckingham was a Dover school board member who was one of the primary supporters of including intelligent design in the science curriculum. The way he sees it five years later, the board didn't lose the Kitzmiller case.

"It was taken away from us. The judge certainly didn't follow the Constitution," said Buckingham, who resides in York City now.

Buckingham said he doesn't hold a grudge, but he just wishes Jones had more carefully parsed the Constitution.

"If we would've known we weren't going to get a fair shake, an honest reading of the Constitution ... we probably wouldn't have done this," he said of the board. "We were right. That's why we didn't back out."

Buckingham said he still carries a copy of the Constitution in his briefcase in the event anyone claims there's a mention of the separation of church and state.

Not that he regularly thinks of the trial, though.

"There's too many important things in life in the here and now. You can't live in the past. We did the best we could. We got shafted," Buckingham said.

Dover Area Senior High School biology teacher Jennifer Miller doesn't hear her students talking about the Kitzmiller decision in the halls. Teachers don't talk about it, either.

But its impact is evident in her classroom. Evolution used to be the last unit she taught each semester.

"Now I teach it first and make sure I emphasize it. And I keep referring to it, to show them how important evolution is to biology," said Miller, who testified at the trial.

"I really stress what is science and what is not science, and why intelligent design fails," from a science standpoint, Miller said.

That's not to say religious beliefs are wrong, she said. She teaches students they can view the creation of the world from either a scientific view or a religious point of view.

"It's just two different ways to explain it. One's scientific, one's not scientific," she said.

Michael Behe said he doesn't hear anybody talk about Kitzmiller v. Dover anymore.

Behe, a biochemist and professor at Lehigh University, testified as an expert witness in support of intelligent design. "I don't hear anybody talk about it ... except the guys on the side who won," Behe said.

"It's an interesting legal event," he said in reflection. "But it doesn't affect the science. The scientific case for intelligent design keeps getting stronger."

In the five years since, Behe said scientists are discovering how complex cells are beyond previous understanding, and he believes that helps support intelligent design as a valid scientific theory.

Not that any of that would have affected Jones' ruling, Behe said.

"It didn't seem to me the judge understood any of the scientific evidence anyway," Behe said.

Jones discounted Behe's testimony, Behe said.

"There was a disconnect between how I thought I did on the witness stand, and how my testimony was characterized by the judge," he said. "It really soured me on the legal system."

If presented with the opportunity again, though, he'd be back on the stand. Intelligent design supporters have to participate, he said, or "people will think we were afraid to show up."

Barbara Forrest testified recently in Louisiana on what kind of science textbooks students should have.

Intelligent design supporters wanted to see the inclusion of ID in the textbooks.

Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, simply pointed to a trial she had also testified in five years earlier: Kitzmiller v. Dover.

In that trial, Forrest testified against teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory.

"We need to remind people that we have now a federal court precedent that applies explicitly to ID. The next time there is a court case, the first thing that judge is going to do is look at that case," Forrest said.

Forrest calls helping the plaintiffs "one of the proudest things" she's accomplished in her life.

"It seems like it was only yesterday," Brown University professor Kenneth Miller reminisced.

Miller testified against intelligent design as a scientific theory. He can still remember exactly what happened when he heard the ruling on a train in New England.

"I couldn't believe how sweeping the decision was. And there was a woman sitting beside me. She overheard me talking about (intelligent design) and she asks me about it ... and then the guy in front turns around and says, 'Was that that case about ID?'" he recalled.

Soon enough, Miller had a small crowd on a train several states away from Dover talking to him about the trial.

"That's when I realized how big this thing was," Miller said.

In the years since, he has seen the ruling come to the defense of evolution.

"When evolution comes under attack, people are able to point to the Kitzmiller trial. There was a complete absence of scientific evidence for intelligent design," he said.

Bryan Rehm, a plaintiff; Cynthia Sheath, a plaintiff and former board member; Angie Yingling, a defendant; and Jeff and Casey Brown, former Dover board members who resigned at the time, did not return calls seeking comment.Officials at the Discovery Institute, which helped support the defendants' cause, and Richard Nilsen, Dover's superintendent at the time and the current superintendent at Eastern Lebanon County School District, were not available.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431, ashaw@yorkdispatch.com or twitter.com/ydblogwork.

Evolution education update: December 17, 2010

A philosophy journal devotes a special issue to the creationism/evolution controversy. Creationism appears to be at the center of a new employment discrimination lawsuit. And selected content from RNCSE 30:4 is now available on NCSE's website, as is a free preview of Lee Meadows's The Missing Link.

"EVOLUTION AND ITS RIVALS"

"Evolution and its rivals" -- a special issue of the philosophy journal Synthese focused on the creationism/evolution controversy -- was just published. Coedited by Glenn Branch, NCSE's deputy director, and James H. Fetzer, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, the issue (volume 178, number 2) contains Glenn Branch's introduction; Robert T. Pennock's "Can't philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited"; John S. Wilkins's "Are creationists rational?"; Kelly C. Smith's "Foiling the Black Knight"; Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit's "Information theory, evolutionary computation, and Dembski's 'complex specified information'"; Bruce H. Weber's "Design and its discontents"; Sahotra Sarkar's "The science question in intelligent design"; Niall Shanks and Keith Green's "Intelligent design in theological perspective"; Barbara Forrest's "The non-epistemology of intelligent design: Its implications for public policy"; and James H. Fetzer's "Evolution and atheism: Has Griffin reconciled science and religion?" Fortuitously, as part of a special promotion on the part of the journal's publisher, access to Synthese is free until December 31, 2010.

For the table of contents, visit:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/0039-7857/178/2/

CREATIONISM AT ISSUE IN EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE?

"No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 -- until his writings on evolution came to light," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 10, 2010). "Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read ... critics [of evolution] in the intelligent-design movement." As a result, Gaskell was not appointed to the position, and subsequently filed suit against the university in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on July 10, 2009, alleging that he was not appointed "because of his religious beliefs and his expression of these beliefs" in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.

According to the Courier-Journal, the university "acknowledged that concerns over Gaskell's views on evolution played a role in the decision to chose another candidate. But it argued that this was a valid scientific concern" -- particularly with regard to the prospect that Gaskell's views on evolution would interfere with his ability to serve effectively as director of the observatory -- "and that there were other factors, including a poor review from a previous supervisor and UK faculty views that he was a poor listener." On November 23, 2010, the court denied the defendant's and the plaintiff's separate requests for summary judgment, noting, "The parties greatly debate exactly what Gaskell personally believes regarding the theory of evolution and the Bible." A jury trial is expected to commence in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 8, 2011. Documents from the case, C. Martin Gaskell v. University of Kentucky, are available on NCSE's website.

For the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit:
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101210/NEWS01/312110011/Job+candidate+sues+UK++claiming+religion+cost+him+the+post

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit:
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/c-martin-gaskell-v-university-kentucky

CATCHING UP WITH RNCSE

Selected content from volume 30, number 4, of Reports of the National Center for Science Education is now available on NCSE's website. Featured is Phil Senter's "Vestigial Structures Exist Even Within the Creationist Paradigm" as well as the text of two talks delivered by NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Plus reviews of Peter Wellnhofer's Archaeopteryx, Martin Brasier's Darwin's Lost World, and Andrew Parker's The Genesis Enigma.

If you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today? The upcoming issue (volume 30, number 6) features NCSE's Glenn Branch's description of the latest "intelligent design" journal, Michael D. Barton's account of his investigation of a misused quote from a supporter of evolution, and -- from his regular "People & Places" column -- Randy Moore's report from the creationist Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. Plus there's the usual batch of news, reviews, and commentary. Don't miss out -- subscribe (or renew) today!

For the selected content from RNCSE 30:4, visit:
http://ncse.com/rncse/30/4

For subscription information, visit:
http://ncse.com/membership

A GLIMPSE OF THE MISSING LINK

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Lee Meadows's The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All Students About Evolution (Heinemann, 2009). The excerpt, from a chapter entitled "Deepening Students' Understanding and Addressing Objections," offers ideas about how K-12 teachers can create lessons to address student misconceptions about various aspects of evolution. Meadows urges, "Again and again, say to the students, 'I'm not asking you to accept some specific aspect of evolution, but I do want you to understand the evidence for evolution and how scientists explain the evidence.' By blatantly stating your expectation about understanding, but not necessarily accepting, you're reiterating to your students that you affirm their beliefs, but you're also helping them build the scientific understanding that they'll need for life in public society. Constantly reminding students of your approach is especially critical as you focus on the objections that many of them raise." Recommending the book, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott wrote, "Especially for those teachers who are apprehensive about teaching evolution, Meadows provides not only encouragement, but a clear how-to that will guide them and their more experienced colleagues towards teaching with integrity the 'controversial subject' of evolution."

For the excerpt from The Missing Link (PDF), visit:
http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/Excerpt--MissingLink.pdf

For information about the book, visit:
http://www.heinemann.com/products/E01749.aspx

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


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Theological Correctness?

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/12/13/theological-correctness/

Monday, December 13, 2010, 11:16 AM

Joseph Knippenberg

A federal judge in Kentucky has denied the University of Kentucky's motion for summary judgment, paving the way for a jury trial on the merits of astronomer C. Martin Gaskell's claim that the University engaged in religious discrimination when it did not offer him the postion of Founding Director of its observatory.

There appears to be no dispute about the quality of Gaskell's scholarly work, nor about his record of already having done what the University of Kentucky needed done. But—gasp!—he has lectured on "Modern Astronomy, the Bible, and Creation" in a way that some biologists regard as creationist. Given these passages from his lecture notes, how they could do so with any intellectual integrity is beyond me:

"God made everything pretty much as it is now in six 24-hour days about 6000 years ago" – the so-called "Creationist" position (a bad name! – I, and many writers on the subject prefer the name "Young-Earth Creationist" for this position). This is the position of the Creation Research Society (CRS), the San Diego based Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and a number of other "Creation Science" organizations. I have a lot of respect for people who hold this view because they are strongly committed to the Bible, but I don't believe it is the interpretation the Bible requires of itself, and it certainly clashes head-on with science.

"The Answers are not in yet". This is part of my own viewpoint. I believe that God has not yet revealed everything to us in the Bible (see Deuteronomy 29:29 and I Corinthians 13:9-10,12) and I know that we don't know all the answers in science yet.

The main controversy has been between people at the two extremes (young earth creationists and humanistic evolutionists). "Creationists" attack the science of "evolutionists". I believe that this sort of attack is very bad both scientifically and theologically. The "scientific" explanations offered by "creationists" are mostly very poor science and I believe this sort of thing actually hinders some (many?) scientists becoming Christians. It is true that there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory (a good thing or else many biologists and geologists would be out of a job) and that these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses, but the real problem with humanistic evolution is in the unwarranted atheistic assumptions and extrapolations. It is the latter that "creationists" should really be attacking (many books do, in fact, attack these unwarranted assumptions and extrapolations).While discussing controversies and interpretations of Genesis I should mention something that has been much debated in recent years but is not an interpretation of Genesis: what is called "Intelligent Design". This movement, which is often erroneously confused with young-earth creationism, is just exploring the question of what evidence there is in the universe for design by an intelligence. This is really a general, non-religious question (although with obvious religious implications), and there is no opinion on the interpretation of Genesis.

The University contends in part that because the position for which he was applying involved public outreach, there was legitimate concern that he would use his affiliation with the University to promote his private religious views. If this position stands, then woe be unto any of us who teach at public institutions, have private religious opinions that somehow find their way into our work (perhaps even for good reasons), and are identified by our institutional affiliation. Wouldn't that be a kind of viewpoint discrimination?

The case goes to trial in February and bears watching.

Sir Peter Vardy – an apology

http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2010/12/sir-peter-vardy-an-apology/

We have apologised to Sir Peter Vardy and have paid a sum by way of damages which Sir Peter Vardy has donated to charity

by Tribune Editorial
Thursday, December 16th, 2010

On October 5 2009 we published an article entitled "Creationist Claptrap that Beggars Belief". The article alleged that Sir Peter Vardy, by virtue of donating, through the Vardy Foundation, £2million of the £22 million it costs the taxpayer to build an academy school, was imposing fundamentalist beliefs and pseudoscience on children attending these schools. It alleged that children are being taught in biology lessons that evolution is as much a theory as creationism and that everything was designed by a god creator as stated literally in Genesis.

We accept that these allegations are untrue and that the schools funded by Sir Peter Vardy are not faith schools and do not advocate creationism. We accept that Sir Peter Vardy is not a creationist and has not sought to advance the teaching of creationism by means of sponsorship of education in the UK.

We have apologised to Sir Peter Vardy and have paid a sum by way of damages which Sir Peter Vardy has donated to charity.

Is Christian astronomer a victim of religious discrimination?

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2010/12/15/is-christian-astronomer-a-victim-of-religious-discrimination/?cxntfid=blogs_jay_bookman_blog

9:28 am December 15, 2010, by Jay

Astronomer Martin Gaskell was in line to be founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky.

However, Gaskell is also a skeptic about some aspects of evolution, based in part on his Christian faith, and has expressed those doubts in lectures and writings. For example, he writes, the theory of intelligent design "is just exploring the question of what evidence there is in the universe for design by an intelligence," calling it "a general, non-religious question (although with obvious religious implications). Because of those beliefs, the University of Kentucky "went in another direction" in filling the job of observatory director.

As the Louisville Courier Journal reports:

One search committee member, Sally Shafer, called Gaskell "fascinating," but "potentially evangelical" in an e-mail to the chairs of the search committee and the Department of Physics and Astronomy….

An astronomy professor, Moshe Elitzur, told department chair Michael Cavagnero that he feared embarrassing headlines about Kentucky's flagship university hiring a "creationist" in a state already home to the controversial Creation Museum.

And three UK biology professors consulted by Cavagnero vigorously objected to Gaskell's hiring.

One, Jim Krupa, said hiring Gaskell would be a "disaster," particularly because UK planned to use the observatory to promote science education among the general public. UK "might as well have folks from the Creation Museum get involved with UK's science outreach" if it hired him, he wrote to Cavagnero.

Another geology professor, Shelly Steiner, wrote that UK should no more hire an astronomer skeptical of evolution than "a biologist who believed that the sun revolved around the Earth."

Gaskell, who rejects creationism as unscientific, has since filed suit in federal court, alleging that religious discrimination cost him the job. The case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Kentucky is no stranger to such controversies, which may explain why university scientists were so wary. As the Courier-Journal pointed out, it is already home to the Creation Museum (Motto: "Prepare to believe"). The state of Kentucky also recently agreed to provide tax incentives to a business group that wants to build Ark Encounter, an 800-acre biblical theme park featuring a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark, 40 miles down the interstate from the Creation Museum.

Personally, while I have serious doubts about the viability of Ark Encounter as a business (its backers predict it will draw 1.6 million visitors a year and create 900 jobs), I don't think the case raises serious church-state issues. It's a for-profit venture, and the tax incentives it will use are available to other businesses as well. Its religious theme should neither qualify it nor disqualify it from state aid.

Gaskell's case is a little different. I do understand why UK science faculty would be wary of putting an advocate of intelligent design in a high-profile job such as head of a university observatory. If Gaskell continued to act as a public spokesman and defender of intelligent design, his hiring would imply an endorsement of that essentially religious, non-scientific point of view by the University of Kentucky. Evolution is part of the fundamental bedrock of modern science.

The controversy may also help explain an interesting data point from a 2009 Pew poll of 2,500 scientists, conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The survey reported that 55 percent of scientists identify themselves as Democrats; just 6 percent identify themselves as Republicans.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Many Patients With Brain Tumors Seek Alternative Tx

http://www.medpagetoday.com/HematologyOncology/BrainCancer/23901

By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: December 14, 2010
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and

A large proportion of patients with brain tumors use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to supplement conventional treatment, a German study found.

Of more than 600 patients with gliomas from six German neuro-oncologic centers, 40.3% reported trying a CAM therapy, according to Oliver Heese, MD, of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, and colleagues.

The main motivation for use of CAM was not a distrust of evidence-based medicine, but a desire to support the standard treatments, the researchers reported in the Dec. 14 issue of Neurology.

"Neuro-oncologists should be aware of this phenomenon and encourage an open but critical dialogue with their patients," they wrote.

"Being aware of the patients' desire to seek alternative medicines, having an open approach, and encouraging the discussion of options may provide much-appreciated guidance in an environment where there are also dubious and sometimes extremely expensive treatments which are potentially harmful to the patient."

Because the vast majority of glial tumors are not curable, patients often search for alternative therapies to either treat the brain tumor or ease the associated symptoms.

But the extent of the use of CAM therapies in patients with brain tumors, the reasons for using them, and the costs have not been well studied.

So Heese and his colleagues sent questionnaires to 939 patients with glial tumors of WHO grades II to IV who were being treated by centers in the German Glioma Network; 621 (65.5%) responded. The patients have all received appropriate conventional therapies, including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.

Two-fifths of the respondents said they had used a CAM therapy at some point. The most common were homeopathy (39.2%), vitamin supplementation (31%), and various psychological methods (29%).

Rounding out the list of therapies used by at least 10% of the respondents -- in order of decreasing popularity -- were mineral supplementation, Boswelia acids, special diets, mistletoe, acupuncture, phytotherapy, shielding methods, and magic.

Most of the users (59.8%) thought their general condition had been improved by CAM therapies, and very few reported any side effects.

Users of CAM therapies were, on average, younger and more likely to be female and to have a higher education level.

"It appears remarkable that patients with a higher education level embark on and trust the mostly nonscientific explanations of alternative therapies, although this may also be out of curiosity," Heese and his colleagues wrote.

The choice to use a CAM therapy did not appear to relate to the level of satisfaction with care, as both users and nonusers reported similar rates of satisfaction with the information received from their neuro-oncologist (58.4% among users and 56.4% among nonusers).

When asked why they chose to pursue alternative treatments, more than 80% of users agreed with the following statements:

•To support the conventional therapy
•To build up body resistance
•To do something for the treatment by myself
•To have tried everything possible

The most common reasons for not trying CAM therapies were cost, a lack of information regarding the treatments, and missing scientific proof of efficacy.

In U.S. dollars, most users (80.7%) spent less than $132 per month on the therapies, 16.2% spent between $132 and $661, and 3.1% spent more than $1,323.

The study was conducted by the German Glioma Network, which is supported by the German Cancer Aid.

Heese has received funding for travel or speaker honoraria from Cybergenics and Johnson & Johnson and may accrue revenue on a patent dealing with a ventricular drainage system with hollow mandrin and tube.

Primary source: Neurology
Source reference:
Heese O, et al "Complementary therapy use in patients with glioma: an observational study" Neurology 2010; 75: 2229-2235.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Textbook Case

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/textbook-case/Content?oid=1458772

by Kevin Allman

New science textbooks in Louisiana public schools will not have to present disclaimers about evolution in a roundabout acknowledgment of "intelligent design," following an 8-2 vote by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) on Dec. 9.

Intelligent design is a Bible-based viewpoint discounting evolution in favor of a creationist point of view, a position rejected by most scientists. In 2005, a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled that teaching intelligent design in public schools violated the separation of church and state. The Louisiana version considered by BESE centered on pointing out what creationists see as flaws or inconsistencies in the theory of evolution, and perhaps providing warning stickers for scientific textbooks that mention evolution. Critics saw it as a back-door attempt to acknowledge intelligent design in high school biology classes.

Josh Rosenau, project policy director for the National Center for Science Education, tracks creation/evolution education skirmishes at the state and local levels and says disagreement on the issue has occurred during the last five years in every state except Hawaii and South Dakota. To call it an actual debate, he says, gives too much credence to intelligent design. "These are things with a political controversy around them," Rosenau says, "but there is no scientific controversy."

Local school boards are free to use supplemental materials to question evolution under the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). Critics of the LSEA say it was selective in spelling out which theories might be up for question under it. The act identifies the debatable theories as "including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning" — all flashpoints for the Religious Right.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who graduated from Brown University with honors in biology, signed LSEA into law. In response, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, a group of biologists that had held three conventions in New Orleans, pulled out of a planned 2011 convention in the city in protest. — Kevin Allman

Creationism at issue in employment dispute?

http://ncse.com/news/2010/12/creationism-at-issue-employment-dispute-006363

December 13th, 2010

"No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 — until his writings on evolution came to light," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 10, 2010). "Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read ... critics [of evolution] in the intelligent-design movement." As a result, Gaskell was not appointed to the position, and subsequently filed suit against the university in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on July 10, 2009, alleging that he was not appointed "because of his religious beliefs and his expression of these beliefs" in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.

According to the Courier-Journal, the university "acknowledged that concerns over Gaskell's views on evolution played a role in the decision to chose another candidate. But it argued that this was a valid scientific concern" — particularly with regard to the prospect that Gaskell's views on evolution would interfere with his ability to serve effectively as director of the observatory — "and that there were other factors, including a poor review from a previous supervisor and UK faculty views that he was a poor listener." On November 23, 2010, the court denied the defendant's and the plaintiff's separate requests for summary judgment, noting, "The parties greatly debate exactly what Gaskell personally believes regarding the theory of evolution and the Bible." A jury trial is expected to commence in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 8, 2011. Documents from the case, C. Martin Gaskell v. University of Kentucky, are available on NCSE's website.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Science and Worldviews: Slate Sees the Light

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/12/science_and_worldviews_slate_s041431.html

Slate -- yes, stet that, Slate -- carries an excellent essay opening up the interesting question of whether political and philosophical presuppositions distort what we think of as mainstream science ("Lab Politics: Most scientists in this country are Democrats. That's a problem"). Author Daniel Sarewitz notes that among scientists, self-identified Republicans make up a dismal 6 percent, while Democrats are 55 percent (the rest are independents and I-don't-knows). Though Sarewitz doesn't mention evolution, he ought to have done so. But never mind. While folks on the political right have been strangely slow to pick up on the political resonances of Darwinism, his illustration from the climate debate makes the same point:

Could it be that disagreements over climate change are essentially political -- and that science is just carried along for the ride? For 20 years, evidence about global warming has been directly and explicitly linked to a set of policy responses demanding international governance regimes, large-scale social engineering, and the redistribution of wealth. These are the sort of things that most Democrats welcome, and most Republicans hate. No wonder the Republicans are suspicious of the science.

Think about it: The results of climate science, delivered by scientists who are overwhelmingly Democratic, are used over a period of decades to advance a political agenda that happens to align precisely with the ideological preferences of Democrats. Coincidence -- or causation?

Dr. Sarewitz, a geologist who co-directs the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University, is going down a dangerous road for someone with a concern for his reputation as a rational thinker:

During the Bush administration, Democrats discovered that they could score political points by accusing Bush of being anti-science. In the process, they seem to have convinced themselves that they are the keepers of the Enlightenment spirit, and that those who disagree with them on issues like climate change are fundamentally irrational.

In reality, folks on the Left are as susceptible to blinding by ideology as are those on the Right. Paradigms, worldviews, Foucaultian epistemes -- whatever you want to call the lens through which we experience and interpret the world -- influence the evidences we are willing to entertain and to which we are willing to grant legitimacy. Sarewitz would like scientists on the Left to ponder the implications of this, but he's not holding his breath:

There is clearly something going on that is as yet barely acknowledged, let alone understood. As a first step, leaders of the scientific community should be willing to investigate and discuss the issue. They will, of course, be loath to do so because it threatens their most cherished myths of a pure science insulated from dirty partisanship.

Posted by David Klinghoffer on December 10, 2010 8:18 AM | Permalink

Louisiana Moves to Block Creationism Debate From Inclusion in Biology Textbook

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/12/07/louisiana-moves-scrap-creationism-debate-textbook/

By Jana Winter

Published December 07, 2010
FoxNews.com

Louisiana is close to approving new biology textbooks that ignore recent challenges to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, despite calls by conservative groups for revisions.

A Louisiana committee on Tuesday rejected calls by conservatives to include references to the debate over evolution and the religious-based concepts of intelligent design or creationism in state-approved biology textbooks.

The committee of the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 6-1 to approve the new biology textbooks for public school students.

The new textbooks have been recommended by various state education committees and are expected to be approved by the full education board on Thursday. Critics of the books have said they fail to explain the many scientific challenges to evolution -- and that the books in general are not scientifically up to date -- but others say there is no place for religious concepts in science books.

"We're disappointed by decision of the board today to move to adopt recommendation of advisory committee," said Gene Mills, president of Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative Christian group that's opposed the adoption of the new textbooks. "Textbook purchasers have scored another monopolized victory."

Mills said that it will still be up to each individual school district in each of the state's parishes to actually purchase the new books -- and to come up with the funding for those new books.

John Oller, a University of Louisiana professor in the communication disorders department, said he also was disappointed with the outcome. Oller, who spoke before the vote Tuesday, told FoxNews.com that the months-long textbook debate is "a kind of war of ideas and a lot of misunderstanding, on perhaps both sides but especially on side of people trying to defend the status quo."

Oller said the new textbooks are not scientifically up to date and that they don't include current topics of scientific debate, including the biblical concept of creationism and the ongoing debate over how to teach evolution in public schools.

"We're looking at outdated materials that have been copied from one year to the next. This review happens every 10 years, and I was part of last cycle of review," Oller said. "My beef there was if you compared these books that are supposed to be updated with books presented 10 years ago, they're almost the same verbatim."

He said that the entire debate focused at times around the concept of creationism but that the issue of scientific accuracy is the big picture.

"Very often the whole discussion is simplified to slogans and very tiring repetitions, and the argument we're engaged in currently is really about current developments in biology," he said.

But last month at an earlier committee hearing, Kevin Carman, dean of the LSU College of Science, supported the proposed textbooks.

"There is no major research university in this country that teaches intelligent design or anything like that. It is simply not science," Carman said, according to the Associated Press. "We need our textbooks to be focused on what is scientifically accurate and not religion."

IT Could Be Used In Ayurveda Treatment To Overcome Challenges, Says Expert

http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=549434

From V. Shankara

Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Infosys Technologies, S.D. Shibulal suggested that IT could be used to collect and store information about Ayurveda for an evidence-based approach.

"IT can be used to collect data (on Ayurveda) in a standardized manner over a long period of time and over vast geography. Ayurveda can play a critical role in modern times," he said at a session on 'Ayurveda and IT' organised in conjunction with the 4th World Ayurveda Congress and Arogya Expo focal themed "Ayurveda For All" near here.

Among the objectives of the congress was to facilitate acceptance and recognition for Ayurveda as a complete health system, adoptable in all countries, and to create appropriate platforms for "scientific basing" of Ayurveda along with suitable infrastructure to popularize the system.

Shibulal said with rising costs of modern health care systems, Ayurveda was getting out of reach for a large part of the population.

He said Ayurveda can play an important role by its very nature of being "patient-centric", "holistic" and "preventive" and being more accessible to the population.

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine.

-- BERNAMA

Too simple to fail: More time for teaching

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-rodricks-bausell-20101212,0,7307939.column

Dan Rodricks

December 12, 2010

The last time the world heard from R. Barker Bausell, he had emerged from his research chambers at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine with an upsetting conclusion: Acupuncture, herbal remedies, megavitamin therapy and other unconventional treatments work no better than a placebo. "They can go on forever" conducting studies, said Mr. Bausell, who had devoted five years to researching the effectiveness of alternative medicine. "They'll eventually find some positive results by chance alone."

In 2007, Oxford University Press published Barker Bausell's "Snake Oil Science," a hard look at more than 300 studies that had been used to support alternative therapies and the multibillion-dollar industry it has become. Mr. Bausell, a biostatistician and senior research methodologist at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, concluded that a placebo effect accounted for most of the positive results reported by the zealous believers of alternative medicine.

Now Mr. Bausell has emerged with a book about his true intellectual passion — how we teach, how kids learn, and what would give us better results. His conclusions: Children need more focused instructional time and fewer distractions; teachers must be liberated from the inefficient classroom model, and classrooms must become fully computerized learning labs with instructional software customized for each child.

The school day and the school year could be longer, too, he says. From birth until age 18, American children spend only about 16 percent of all their potential instructional time in school, and a lot of that time is wasted every day in crowded classrooms across the country. If we want smarter kids, Mr. Bausell says, there's only one reform necessary, and it's reflected in the title of his book, "Too Simple To Fail."

"The only way to increase school learning," he writes, "is to increase the amount of relevant instructional time we provide our children."

Mr. Bausell is a gaunt, soft-spoken man whose deep-set eyes suggest someone who spends most of his waking hours reading and pondering. Born into a family of teachers in Virginia and originally trained as an educational researcher, Mr. Barker has been thinking about how we teach children for years. He's looked particularly hard at studies of tutoring compared to conventional classroom instruction, and his ideas about what would improve achievement for all children have simmered, he says, "like a low-grade irritant" in the back of his mind for three decades.

He's convinced that the traditional classroom is obsolete. What's needed is a new model — more tutors, more teaching labs, more "relevant instruction time."

The other day, when I interviewed Mr. Bausell on my radio program, he pointed to a November story in Education Week about a second-grade teacher in Baltimore County who had integrated dance into a science lesson. "Small groups of pupils in this class at Fort Garrison Elementary School brainstormed to come up with dance movements to convey elements of photosynthesis, including water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and chlorophyll," the story reported. "They leaned, they reached, they flowed. … The idea of integrating the arts, including dance, into the broader curriculum is not new, but it appears to be gaining a stronger foothold in public schools…"

Mr. Bausell's response to this innovation?

"Ridiculous" — and not supported by research as effective, much like alternative medicine.

Once Mr. Bausell said that, in the context of his explanation of "relevant instruction time," the response from listeners of the program was strong and pointed. Defenders of the dance — and arts integration in education generally — called and wrote e-mails.

"I could imagine the professor having a very hard time teaching photosynthesis via dance," C. Ryan Patterson wrote. "But if a professional artist/instructor conducted such a creative lesson when [Mr. Bausell was] young, he might today be a more imaginative and creative adult."

Given what he has to say in the 214 footnoted pages of a book I have only briefly summarized here, there's a tendency to dismiss Barker Bausell as an old fogy with regressive ideas and uninformed opinions. But his conclusions are based on years of research, his own and that of others. His vision of the learning lab — with students touching computer screens as they follow computerized lessons, each of them learning at his or her own pace, and with tutors providing individualized instruction as necessary — suggests a more efficient model for learning, particularly for children already behind the curve, and real urgency about the future.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He is the host of Midday on WYPR, 88.1 FM. His e-mail is dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.

Cold Fusion Proven True by U.S. Navy Researchers - Will Suppression of this Science be Repeated?

http://www.naturalnews.com/025925_cold_fusion_Amazon_research.html

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) The world owes Fleischmann and Pons a huge apology: The cold fusion technology they announced in 1989 -- which was blasted by arrogant hot fusion scientists as a fraud -- has been proven true once again by U.S. Navy Researchers. In papers presented at this year's American Chemical Society meeting, scientist Pamela Mosier-Boss presented data supporting the reality of cold fusion, declaring the report, "the first scientific report of highly energetic neutrons from low-energy nuclear reactions."

Technically, it's not the first report at all, however. It might be the five-hundredth report, given how many people have been working on cold fusion since 1989 in laboratories across the world. Following the politically-motivated assassination of cold fusion credibility in 1989, the cold fusion movement went underground, renaming itself to LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). As LENR, cold fusion has been proven true in literally thousands of experiments conducted over the past two decades.

I first went public with the true story about the conspiracy against cold fusion in 1998. It described this classic conspiracy against a new technology, schemed up by desperate defenders of old technology -- hot fusion researchers who, after hundreds of billions of dollars in research money, have yet to produce a single sustainable hot fusion reaction that produces more energy than it consumes. The arrogant hot fusion researchers have the same snooty attitude as cancer researchers: "Just give us another billion dollars," they say, "and we'll find a cure!"

It's been the same story for nearly three decades now, and hot fusion still doesn't work. A working cold fusion unit, however, can be built on a kitchen countertop for less than $2,000, and it doesn't require a doctorate in physics to pull it off, either. It is precisely this simplicity that offends the arrogant hot fusion pushers who act much like medical doctors in the vicious defense of their territory.

Cold fusion applications

Cold fusion isn't some magical free energy machine. It produces excess heat, but slowly. So don't go thinking this is some kind of Mr. Fusion device that you can feed some banana peels and expect to get clean electricity out the other end.

Rather, cold fusion converts mass to heat energy, slowly losing a bit of mass through very low-energy nuclear reactions (hence the LENR name) that generate excess heat. In practical terms, cold fusion produces hot water.

And why is hot water useful? Because with hot water, you can produce steam. Steam turns turbines that generate electricity. This is how coal power plants work, too, except they're burning coal to heat water instead of using cold fusion. Conventional nuke plants work the same way, too, using much higher-energy nuclear reactions to heat vast amounts of water that drive electricity-generating turbines.

So heating water with cold fusion is a big deal. If the technology can be scaled up and applied properly, it could spell an end to the era of dirty coal power plants.

And that, friends, could mean a very big deal for reducing CO2 emissions and avoiding a worsening of global warming. It will even help global warming skeptics, too, because even if you don't believe global warming is real, the climate still changes on you. Mother Nature can't be debated. It just reacts.

Whether you recognize the reality of global warming or not, cold fusion technology could reduce air pollution due to coal power plant emissions. Coal power plants are the No. 1 source of mercury pollution on our planet, in case you didn't know. That's because burning coal spews mercury into the air, which then contaminates oceans and land masses, contaminating the world with mercury.

(Perhaps there are mercury skeptics who do not believe coal power plants spew mercury at all, or that mercury is safe for human consumption. The mercury skeptics are probably dentists, come to think of it...)

No radioactive waste

Cold fusion, by the way, does not produce radioactive waste. So it's not like a world full of cold fusion power plants would create yet another radioactive waste problem. It might cause a shortage of palladium, though, which is one of the metals typically used in cold fusion devices.

Some of the more astute readers of this website will probably figure out that investing in palladium futures ahead of any widespread production of cold fusion devices would no doubt be extremely profitable. But that kind of product rollout is likely years away, at best.

And that's assuming that this latest round of cold fusion announcements won't get clobbered yet again by the hot fusion conspirators. I'm half expecting an updated news announcement in a day or two, with a headline like, "U.S. Navy Retracts Cold Fusion Announcement, Scientists Accused of Fraud" or some such nonsense. If you see such a headline, remember what you're reading here, and you'll know it's all been manipulated to erase the reality of cold fusion from the sphere of public knowledge.

Cold fusion, after all, could revolutionize the energy industry and spell doom for coal and natural gas. I know a bunch of executives in Wyoming who are shaking in their (insulated) boots right now at the thought of cold fusion sidelining natural gas.

Authors' Quotes on Cold Fusion

Below, you'll find selected quotes from noted authors on the subject of Cold Fusion. Feel free to quote these in your own work provided you give proper credit to both the original author quoted here and this NaturalNews page.

Nowhere are the resistance to and promise of a new energy technology more dramatically revealed than those of the case of cold fusion. This well-researched approach has the potential of reversing much of the pollution while turning the interests of the energy monopolies upside down. Unfortunately, even the environmentalists haven't yet given new energy alternatives a fair look. The cold fusion Revolution: The unfolding cold fusion saga has provided us with an illustrious thirteen year history that would make the suppression of Tesla seem like a school exercise.
- Reinheriting the Earth: Awakening to Sustainable Solutions and Greater Truths by Brian O'Leary
- Available on Amazon.com

The coup de grace was delivered to cold fusion when the US House committee formed to examine the claims for cold fusion came down on the side of the skeptics. 'Evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process termed cold fusion is not persuasive,' said its report. 'No special programmes to establish cold fusion research centers or to support new efforts to find cold fusion are justified.'
- Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment by Richard Milton
- Available on Amazon.com

Cold fusion The fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium at room temperature. In 1989 two scientists announced that they had produced cold fusion in their laboratory, an achievement that if true would have meant a virtually unlimited cheap energy supply for humanity. When other scientists were unable to reproduce their results, the scientific community concluded that the original experiment had been flawed.
- The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch, Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil
- Available on Amazon.com

Thus within two months of its original announcement, cold fusion had been dealt a fatal blow by two of the world's most prestigious nuclear research centres, each receiving millions of pounds a year to fund atomic research. The measure of MIT's success in killing off cold fusion is that still today, the US Department of Energy refuses to fund any research into it while the US Patent Office relies on the MIT report to refuse any patents based on or relating to cold fusion processes even though hundreds have been submitted.
- Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment by Richard Milton
- Available on Amazon.com

Patent Office of any application mentioning cold fusion; 3) Suppression of research on the phenomenon in government laboratories; 4) Citation of cold fusion as "pathological science" or "fraud" in numerous books and articles critical of cold fusion in general, and of Fleischmann and Pons in particular." One of the DOE panel members, Prof. Steven Koonin of Caltech (and now Provost there), said, "My conclusion is that the experiments are just wrong and that we are suffering from the incompetence and delusion of Doctors Pons and Fleischmann...
- Reinheriting the Earth: Awakening to Sustainable Solutions and Greater Truths by Brian O'Leary
- Available on Amazon.com

Six months after cold fusion was announced, the American Department of Energy denounced it. In Japan, the people who are considered authorities blindly emulated the attitude of the Americans, as they invariably do, and they too pontificated against cold fusion. Perhaps it was inevitable that most people would assume the claims are cock and bull nonsense. In keeping with the tide of the times, countless books and articles have been published attacking cold fusion. The very act of researching cold fusion has become scandalous.
- Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment by Richard Milton
- Available on Amazon.com

Equally illuminating were the remarks of Professor John Huizenga, who was co-chairman of the US Department of Energy's panel on cold fusion and who came down against the reality of the process. In a recent book on the subject, Professor Huizenga observed that 'The world's scientific institutions have probably now squandered between $50 and $100 million on an idea that was absurd to begin with.' The question is, what were his principal reasons for rejecting cold fusion.
- Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment by Richard Milton
- Available on Amazon.com

This was perhaps the high-water mark of cold fusion. Scores of organisations over the world were actively working to replicate cold fusion in their laboratories, and although many reported difficulties a decent number reported success. And by the end of April, Fleischmann and Pons were standing before the US House Science, Space and Technology committee asking for a cool $25 million to fund a centre for cold fusion research at Utah University. Then things began to go wrong.
- Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment by Richard Milton
- Available on Amazon.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/025925_cold_fusion_Amazon_research.html#ixzz17u6bPF8j

Principle of astrology proven to be scientific: planetary position imprints biological clocks of mammals

http://www.naturalnews.com/030698_astrology_scientific_basis.html

Saturday, December 11, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) Mention the word "astrology" and skeptics go into an epileptic fit. The idea that someone's personality could be imprinted at birth according to the position of the sun, moon and planets has long been derided as "quackery" by the so-called "scientific" community which resists any notion based on holistic connections between individuals and the cosmos.

According to the conventional view, your genes and your parenting determine your personality, and the position of planet Earth at the time of your birth has nothing to do with it.

Then again, conventional scientists don't believe the position of the moon has anything to do with life on Earth, either. They dismiss the wisdom that farmers have known for ages -- that planting seeds or transplanting living plants in harmony with the moon cycles results in higher crop yields. Even the seeds inside humans are strongly influenced by the moon, as menstruation cycles and moon cycles are closely synchronized (28 days, roughly).

Researchers demonstrate scientific principle of astrology

Skeptics must be further bewildered by the new research published in Nature Neuroscience and conducted at Vanderbilt University which unintentionally provides scientific support for the fundamental principle of astrology -- namely, that the position of the planets at your time of birth influences your personality.

In this study, not only did the birth month impact personality; it also resulted in measurable functional changes in the brain.

This study, conducted on mice, showed that mice born in the winter showed a "consistent slowing" of their daytime activity. They were also more susceptible to symptoms that we might call "Seasonal Affective Disorder."

The study was carried out by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two additional undergraduate students, none of whom believe in astrology, apparently. They do, of course, believe in science, which is why all their study findings have been draped in the language of science even though the findings are essentially supporting principles of astrology.

"What is particularly striking about our results is the fact that the imprinting affects both the animal's behavior and the cycling of the neurons in the master biological clock in their brains," said Ciarleglio. This is one of the core principles of astrology: That the position of the planets at the time of your birth (which might be called the "season" of your birth) can actually result in changes in your brain physiology which impact lifelong behavior.

Once again, such an idea sounds preposterous to the scientifically trained, unless of course they discover it for themselves, at which point it's all suddenly very "scientific." Instead of calling it "astrology," they're now referring to it as "seasonal biology."

How to discredit real science

It all reminds me of the discovery of cold fusion in 1989 by Fleishmann and Pons, who were widely ridiculed by the arrogant hot fusion researchers who tried to destroy the credibility (and careers) of cold fusion researchers (http://www.naturalnews.com/025925_c...). After the very idea of "cold fusion" was attacked and demolished by these arrogant scientists, it soon returned under a new name: Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR).

LENR has now been verified as true by none other than the U.S. Navy -- along with hundreds of other researchers around the world (see link above). And yet, even today, the conventional scientific community still insists cold fusion doesn't exist and cold fusion researchers are frauds.

Just as there is a solid scientific basis for LENR, there is a scientific basis for astrology, too. The relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun naturally alter light exposure, temperature, gravitational pull and other conditions that may be sensed by living organisms. To believe in astrology, all that's really required is to grasp the basic concepts of the interrelationships between all living things. Does the position of the sun or moon influence life on Earth? Of course it does: Life as we know it wouldn't even exist without the moon tugging on Earth and preventing its rotational axis from shifting around to the point where radical changes in seasonal temperatures would make life far more challenging. (The moon, in other words, is one of the key "stabilizers" of life on planet Earth because it tends to stabilize the seasons and keep the Earth on a steady rotational plane.)

None of this, of course, means that the position of Saturn today is going to make you win the lottery or find a new love. That's the tabloid version of astrology, not real astrology.

Don't confuse tabloid astrology with real astrology

Even astronomy has its tabloid versions, too, which are entirely non-scientific. For example, every model of our solar system that I've ever seen is a wildly inaccurate tabloid version of reality, with planet sizes ridiculously exaggerated and planet distances not depicted to scale. These silly, non-scientific solar system models imprint a kind of solar system mythology into the minds of schoolchildren and even school teachers. Virtually no one outside the communities of astrophysics and astronomy has any real grasp of the enormity of not merely our solar system, but of our galaxy and the space between neighboring galaxies.

To show a giant sun the size of a basketball, with a depiction of the Earth as a marble-sized planet three inches away is the astronomical equivalent of a gimmicky horoscope claiming you're going to win the lottery today because you were born under the sign of Pisces. Both are fictions. And both are an insult to real science.

In fact, even the whole idea that an "electron" is a piece of physical matter, made up of other "particles" is an insult to real science. The sobering truth of the matter is that "particle physics" doesn't have much to do with actual particles at all. It's all about energies that might, on occasion, vibrate in just the right way so that they momentarily appear to take on the illusion of a particle as measured by our observers -- observers who inevitably alter the outcome of the entire experiment, by the way, once again proving the interrelated nature of things in our universe, including observer and experiment.

The horoscope predictions in the Sunday paper -- as well as much of the hilarious mythology found in the modern description of an atom -- are both simplified, comic-book versions of a larger truth -- the truth that we live in a holistic universe where every bit of physical matter, every bit of energy and every conscious mind impacts the rest of the universe in subtle ways. There is no such thing as an individual who is isolated from the cosmos, because we are of the cosmos and we exist as the physical manifestations of energies that, for our lifetimes, are momentarily organized as beings.

We are made of star stuff, says Carl Sagan. He he's right: We are not only made of star stuff, we are influenced by that stuff, too. And finally, modern science is beginning to catch up to this greater truth that astrologers have known since the dawn of human existence on our tiny planet.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030698_astrology_scientific_basis.html#ixzz17u4b2hCx


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Creation vs. Evolution? Wake Up People!!

http://inewp.com/?p=5961

Posted on 10 December 2010

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Fish, reptiles, and birds lay eggs. If these adult species are only given life by means of the egg hatching process, how did the first fish, reptiles and birds come into existence? Evolution? If so, why isn't all life hatched out of an egg? Is this to be explained with the same sort of reasoning which produced the theory that a bear fell into a lake/river and became a whale?

I try to be an honest and intelligent being. I do not appreciate people lying to me, or to others, just because they don't want a certain scenario to be true. So when science tries to give idiotic responses to the origin of life, the history of life, and "how Earth obtained the Moon", it upsets me. Let's address the "chicken or the egg" question. An egg cannot just drop out of the sky, or wash upon the shore all by itself. An egg, which signifies life waiting to develop, has to be laid by a egg laying female animal, unless you want think up a theory on how the first egg materialized….; those that are in denial can go there. Therefore, let us focus on the female chicken, or actually the hen.

The hen can lay eggs without the rooster, but the eggs will not produce life (will not hatch). So little chicks can't come into existence (in the wild or in the distant past) without the hen mating with the rooster. Therefore, both the hen and the rooster came first.

But the world of science is biased at best, or a hypocrite at worst. When the discussion centers around how the heavier elements in the universe came into being, science will say that those elements are produced in stars in outer space…, where science has not been. Oh really? Where is the proof? Science will quickly dismiss the existence of the Creator, because of lack of "proof". But when it comes to their own theories (stellar evolution, evolution of life), they fail to apply the same rules. That means that they must have a hidden agenda.

For example, consider the theory on how Earth obtained our Moon. The latest Moon theory that science is trying to establish is the "impact theory". During the early days of our solar system, a planet named Orpheus was knocked out of its orbit (between Earth and Mars), and collided with Earth. Any force that is strong enough to knock a planet out of its orbit toward Earthshould have destroyed the planet. Any impact by that planet upon Earth should have left a telltale crater upon the Earth…., of which science cannot find.

All of the debris from the planet shot out into space, and clumped together 100,000 to 200,000 miles from Earth, formed a perfect sphere, and rotating once each orbit around the Earth so that the same side always faces the Earth. Also, by random chance, from our point of view, the Moon is the same size as the Sun which gives us a perfect periodic solar eclipse.

That's how science explains our Moon. Okay. Where is the proof of that? To save time, that theory is ridiculous, mainly because any theory about how we got our Moon would also have to address how Jupiter obtained its 60+ moons, and how they manage to stay in such close proximity of the giant planet and not be overcome by Jupiter's gravity. Science admits that a "capture theory" is not possible. So rather than to admit that there are things that can only be explained by the existence of a Creator, they will drum up some foolish explanation, or avoid the issue altogether.

One common response is "if it involves a Creator, then it wouldn't be science". That is denial of reality, and denial of reality is insanity. Science (a Latin word meaning "knowledge") is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions concerning the natural world.

Okay. If science encounters another existence, such as another universe, with different rules of life, shall science deny the existence of that universe…, and pretend that it is not there? What about the finding of life forms that uses arsenic instead of phosphorus? Has science ignored that?

When God created this universe, He could have made life that was adaptable to any environment, based on any set of rules and/or compounds. I venture to say that God made certain forms of life, all across this universe…, because (original) mankind was supposed to explore and possess this whole universe. However, something went wrong about 700 million years ago, which is not a topic of this article.

However, God made our universe 4.6 billion years ago. We found that out when mankind landed on, and returned rocks from, the Moon. Therefore, Genesis 1:1 should be interpreted as "4.6 billion years ago, God created this universe, starting with the planet Earth". Yes, Earth was the first, and is the principle celestial object in this universe. All of the other objects in this universe are at least two days younger than our Earth. So now, you should be able to determine that I am not "young Earth", and that I embrace the literal meaning of the scriptures, unlike "old Earth" creationism. Reconciliation was achieved seventeen years ago.

In fact, all creationist doctrines are in error. They either deny scientific reality (young Earth), or deny the literal truth of Genesis (Day/Age, gap theories, theistic evolution, etc). I also consider Intelligent Design a waste of my time, and yours. So what is left on the table? The "Observations of Moses".

There are no "creation accounts" in Genesis. There is no "evolution vs. creation" contest. Anyone trying to compare those two are trying to match oranges with apples, and doesn't understand the facts, let alone the Genesis text. The question everyone should ask is, "What was God really conveying to mankind?", when He revealed the ancient past to Moses.

What Moses saw was not Creation Week, but seven non-linear days revealed to him in one week, in a certain order.

It is well past the time for people to wake up, and seek the truth of our origins. Denying reality is worst than being foolish. The proof of a Creator was given to us in Genesis chapter one. But unfortunately, the worlds of Creationism and Theology have badly misinterpreted the scriptures, and refuse to learn the truth. God was conveying the concept of geologic time, by revealing one day from seven different eras, and not in chronological order. This alone proves the Divine authorship of the text, because science didn't discover geologic time until 3,000 years after Genesis was written.

So put both creationism and evolution in the trash. Both are in error. Seek to find out what Genesis is saying, and what Moses actually saw.

Serious doubt cast on arsenate germ claim

http://www.examiner.com/creationism-in-national/serious-doubt-cast-on-arsenate-germ-claim

December 9th, 2010 6:22 pm ET

Less than one week after NASA announced the discovery of a bacterium that could substitute arsenic for phosphorus in several key molecules, even including DNA, several secular and creation-oriented observers have denounced the claim as, at best, an exaggeration, and at worst, a fraud on the order of Piltdown Man.

To review: on December 2, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, an "astrobiologist" (one who studies life that might be found in association with other stars, or, more broadly, life that might be found off the earth), claimed to have identified a new bacterial strain that could not only use arsenic instead of phosphorus in respiration (producing adenosine triarsenate instead of adenosine triphosphate), but also build its very genome with an arsenate backbone instead of a phosphate backbone. She published her findings in the journal Science.

The problem, as best explained here by Alex Bradley on ScienceBlogs: DNA with an arsenate backbone will break down very rapidly when extracted from a cell and placed in aqueous solution. And yet Wolfe-Simon and her team claim to have isolated DNA that remained stable in aqueous solution. An arsenate nucleotide chain will hydrolyze; a phosphate nucleotide chain will endure.

Rosie Redfield (Vancouver, BC) published the first criticism of the Wolfe-Simon paper here. In a lengthy submission, Redfield asserted that the study lacked proper controls, or any proper precaution against contamination and carryover. Her verdict:

Lots of flim-flam, but very little reliable information...If this data was presented by a PhD student at their committee meeting, I'd send them back to the bench to do more cleanup and controls.

Or to be more charitable: Inconclusive, at best.

Correspondent Carl Zimmer, writing in Slate, found other scientists who said essentially the same thing, including one who said flatly that

This paper should not have been published.

The Guardian (London, England, UK) is maintaining a timeline of the critical reports that have appeared on the Internet, many of them at least as scathing as Redfield's. The latest is yet another article by Zimmer containing more-extensive interviews with some of Wolfe-Simon's harshest critics. (See also Rebecca Boyle's article in Popular Science.) Some critics questioned why any organism would follow such an extreme adaptive pathway as incorporating arsenic into the genome, while another seriously questioned why any life would arise that uses arsenic, because phosphorus is far more abundant in the universe than is arsenic.

NASA's response has been rather curious: to refuse to respond to any criticism of their find that does not appear in scientific journals. Several critics have in fact written to Science and other journals to express their skepticism.

Shaun Doyle at Creation Ministries International had been singularly unimpressed with the original claim, even before hearing of the criticism. The main reason: NASA was trying to assert that they had found some form of extraterrestrial life on earth. They had not. As this Examiner also stated at the time, NASA actually appeared to have found a new kind of extremophile, albeit one that carried the definition of "extremophile" to a new level. Now NASA would appear to have found no such thing.

Why would NASA make an inflated claim based on evidence that was inconclusive at best? NASA's prestige has been in rapid decline of late. NASA had involved itself in the anthropogenic-global-warming (AGW) debate, and the Climate-gate disclosures, even though they came from a rival institute (Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, UK), embarrassed NASA by association (including the direct naming of NASA and its chief AGW alarmist, James Hansen, in some of the leaked correspondence). Worse yet, NASA is now retiring its Space Transportation System ("space shuttles"), and cannot decide which would be the worse entity to upstage it in low-earth-orbit transport: the Russian Federation, or a private company that has managed to develop an uncrewed space truck in four years. Under the added pressure of concern about government overspending, NASA was probably looking for any justification for its continued funding, including the discovery of an extraterrestrial microbe.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Evolution education update: December 10, 2010

Victory in the biology textbook adoption process in Louisiana. NCSE's Grand Canyon trip in 2011. A proposed creationist theme park in northern Kentucky. Approval of the proposed settlement in the Freshwater case. And voices for evolution from seven science departments at colleges and universities across the country.

BIOLOGY TEXTBOOKS APPROVED IN LOUISIANA

At its December 9, 2010, meeting, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-2 to approve high school biology textbooks, despite the ongoing complaints of creationists objecting to their treatment of evolution. As NCSE previously reported, a decision on the textbooks, expected initially in October 2010, was deferred by the board, which sought a recommendation from its Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council. On November 12, 2010, the council voted 8-4 to recommend the textbooks. Then, on December 7, 2010, a committee of the board voted 6-1 to move forward with the purchase, "over the objection of a crowd of people who wanted books that at least mention creationism or intelligent design or say that evolution is not a fact," according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser (December 7, 2010).

Since there are eleven members of the board, the six members of the committee who voted to move forward with the purchase constituted a majority, and so the committee's vote was widely regarded as all but decisive. In a December 7, 2010, statement, the Louisiana Coalition for Science hailed the committee's decision: "We are pleased and proud that the board has done the right thing. As a result, students in Louisiana public schools will have the most current, up-to-date information about biology, including the theory of evolution, which is the strongest explanation of the history and development of life on Earth ever constructed." The statement continued, "Students in our public schools deserve the best science education we can give them. Thanks to today's decision, they won't have to wait any longer for decent textbooks."

Taking nothing for granted, however, Zach Kopplin -- a high school student in Baton Rouge -- contributed a guest column to the Shreveport Times (December 8, 2010), urging the full board to approve the textbooks. "I feel strongly that BESE should immediately adopt proper science textbooks that teach evolution without any disclaimers, revisions or supplementary materials," he wrote. "Louisiana public school students desperately need new books that teach proper science and will prepare us for success in the global economy." He emphasized, "There is no controversy among scientists about evolution! This point repeatedly has been made by prominent science organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists, which contains 10 million members and has made strong statements in support of teaching evolution. Any attempts to act like there is a controversy are disingenuous."

The Shreveport Times (December 9, 2010) was also pleased with the committee's decision, editorially remarking, "Only in these strange times is it news that Louisiana's education board has approved a science textbook based on, well, science," and explaining, "the majority of the panel accepted the arguments of people such as retired biology teacher Patsye Peebles, who said: 'The opponents to these biology books have an unfortunate misunderstanding of what is and isn't in the realm of science. By opening the door for their "both sides" of any issue, you allow non-science and pseudo-science into the science classroom.'" The editorial concluded by quoting a Presbyterian pastor who told the committee, "Let the science teachers of Louisiana teach science and let churches and families teach religion," and seconding the sentiment with "Amen."

NCSE's Joshua Rosenau told Wired's Wired Science blog (December 8, 2010), "Accurate textbooks are going to be in the classrooms. A six to one vote is a repudiation of the attempt by the Louis[i]ana Family Forum to politicize science in Louisiana." The blogger, Brandon Keim, commented, "Texas, which last year passed legislation instructing teachers to convey 'all sides' of theories like evolution, is the nation's largest purchaser of textbooks, and traditionally pulls the textbook industry in its market wake. But state budget deficits have delayed new purchases, making textbook choices by other states more important." Rosenau explained, "If Louisiana's board had said, 'You have to teach the controversy, to put in both sides,' then publishers would have said, 'Maybe this is a trend,'" said Rosenau. "With strong support given to textbooks as written by experts, it's another reason for publishers to stand strong."

At the committee meeting, the New Orleans Times-Picayune (December 8, 2010) reported, "Opponents of the texts, led by the Louisiana Family Forum, said the theory of evolution is full of holes and that biology texts should encourage students to think critically about the origins of man," and quoted the president of the LFF as saying that the textbooks "are biased and inaccurate when covering controversial scientific topics." But Barbara Forrest, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science and a member of NCSE's board of directors, replied, "Every claim you hear today from the Louisiana Family Forum and its allies -- without a single exception -- has been refuted over and over again, in state after state, and in federal court, over almost 50 years," adding, "Not a single creationist claim has ever held up under either scientific scrutiny or legal analysis."

The sole vote not to recommend the textbooks at the committee meeting was from the president of the board, Dale Bayard, who also voted against them at the board meeting. In a cover story, the Independent Weekly (December 8, 2010) quoted Bayard as saying, "I am an open-minded person, and I challenge anybody to come and tell me -- and I've asked a couple of educators that are friends of mine -- can you do me a favor and tell me, can you swear on a stack of Bibles there's no other refutable data that provides an objective other approach to Darwin's theory?" Taking the answer to be no, he continued, "Well then why do we print a textbook that says that? Why can't we provide the children with textbooks that provide objective educational methods to look at what's out there? ... We're going to spend $72 million with a textbook company, and they're not going to swear this is accurate?"

Forrest responded, "[Evolution] has exactly the same status as electromagnetic theory, germ theory of disease, cell theory and gravitational theory, and it is about as strong an explanation as science can come up with." And Joe Neigel, a professor of biology at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, whose teaching and research focuses on evolution, told the Independent Weekly, "To suggest we need to teach both sides is like saying we should be teaching the opinion that the earth is flat because there are some people who believe the earth is flat and they claim they have evidence the earth is flat, so we should give equal time to these people. Or we should give equal time to people who say there was no Holocaust. ... It's an attempt to make it seem like there are two sides that have similar weight when in fact that isn't the case at all."

"The board's decision is a ray of sunlight," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, "especially because the creationist opponents of these textbooks were claiming -- wrongly -- that the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act requires that biology textbooks misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial. It's refreshing to see that the board withstood the pressure to compromise the quality of biology textbooks in the state. But when will the state legislature revisit this confusing, unnecessary, and pernicious law, which is already opening the door to the teaching of creationism in the public school classroom?" She added, "Thanks to all in Louisiana, including especially Barbara Forrest and her comrades at the Louisiana Coalition for Science, who helped to convince the board to do the right thing for Louisiana's students."

For the Lafayette Daily Advertiser's story, visit:
http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20101207/NEWS01/101207037/BESE+panel+approves+science+textbooks++

For the Louisiana Coalition for Science's statement, visit:
http://lasciencecoalition.org/2010/12/08/students-won-in-louisiana-today/

For Zach Kopplin's column in the Shreveport Times, visit:
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20101207/OPINION04/12070326/Zack-Kopplin-La-students-need-proper-scientific-textbooks-without-creationism

For the editorial in the Shreveport Times, visit:
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20101209/OPINION03/12090342/BESE-makes-the-right-call

For the Wired Science blog post, visit:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/louisiana-biology-textbooks/

For the New Orleans Times-Picayune's story, visit:
http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2010/12/biology-textbook_debate_addres.html

For the Independent Weekly's story, visit:
http://www.theind.com/cover-story/7427-devolve

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/louisiana

NCSE AND THE GRAND CANYON 2011

Explore the Grand Canyon with Scott, Newton, and Gish! Seats are now available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon --as featured in The New York Times (October 6, 2005). From June 30 to July 8, 2011, NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott, NCSE's Steven Newton, and paleontologist Alan ("Gish") Gishlick. Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of the Grand Canyon and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the short videos filmed during the 2009 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube site. The cost of the excursion is $2545; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot. Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now.

For information about NCSE's Grand Canyon trip, visit:
http://ncse.com/about/excursions/gcfaq

For information about the coverage in The New York Times, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/2005/10/seeing-creation-evolution-grand-canyon-00771

CONTROVERSY OVER PROPOSED CREATIONIST THEME PARK

The announcement of a proposed creationist theme park in northern Kentucky is sparking controversy. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 1, 2010), "Ark Encounter, which will feature a 500-foot-long wooden replica of Noah's Ark containing live animals such as juvenile giraffes, is projected to cost $150 million and create 900 jobs ... The park, to be located on 800 acres in Grant County off Interstate 75, also will include a Walled City, live animal shows, a replica of the Tower of Babel, a 500-seat special-effects theater, an aviary and a first-century Middle Eastern village." Collaborating on the project are Ark Encounters LLC and the young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis, which already operates a Creation "Museum" in northern Kentucky.

Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear (D), participated in the announcement, touting the benefit of the park to the state's economy. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader (December 2, 2010), "The project is expected to create more than 900 full- and part-time jobs after its completion and attract 1.6 million visitors in the first year, with the number increasing after five years. Beshear said the park could have a $214 million economic impact in the first year and bring $250 million into the state by the fifth year." Asked whether he believes in creationism, Beshear replied, "The people of Kentucky didn't elect me governor to debate religion ... They elected me governor to create jobs and that's what we are doing here."

Daniel Phelps, a geologist who serves as president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, is worried about the effect on the state's reputation among scientists, however, telling AAAS's Science Insider blog (December 2, 2010), "I don't envision people, especially those with science backgrounds, wanting to move to a state where the 'ark park' has government support." Similarly, describing the Ark Encounter project as "rooted in outright opposition to science," the Lexington Herald-Leader (December 3, 2010) editorially observed, "Hostility to science, knowledge and education does little to attract the kind of employers that will provide good-paying jobs with a future."

The Louisville Courier-Journal (December 2, 2010) was especially dismayed by Beshear's involvement in the announcement, editorially writing, "Gov. Steve Beshear needs a vacation. Indeed, he should have taken it this week. ... [H]ow else can one explain his embrace of a project to build a creationism theme park ... ?" The editorial added, "in a state that already suffers from low educational attainment in science, one of the last things Kentucky officials should encourage, even if only implicitly, is for students and young people to regard creationism as scientifically valid," and asked, "why stop with creationism? How about a Flat-Earth Museum? Or one devoted to the notion that the sun revolves around the Earth?"

Part of the controversy over the park involves the prospect of its receiving state tourism development incentives, which would allow Ark Encounter to recoup 25 percent of its development costs by retaining the sales tax generated by the project. The estimated budget of the park is 150 million dollars, so the incentives would amount to 37.5 million dollars over ten years. Beshear said that there was "nothing remotely unconstitutional" about it, but Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State was not so sure, telling the Courier-Journal, "Evangelism is not just another business, and if the business is evangelism then constitutional rules are quite different than if you are subsidizing the opening of a new beauty salon."

Whether the project will be able to benefit from the state tourism development incentives for which its organizers have applied is still disputed. Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law told The New York Times (December 5, 2010), "If this is about bringing the Bible to life, and it's the Bible's account of history that they're presenting, then the government is paying for the advancement of religion." Bill Sharp of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, however, was not so dismissive, telling USA Today (December 5, 2010), "Courts have found that giving such tax exemptions on a nondiscriminatory basis does not violate the establishment clause, even when the tax exemption goes to a religious purpose."

A different potential constitutional barrier was identified by Joseph Gerth, who argued in his column for the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 6, 2010), "If there is a constitutional problem with the incentives, the problem may be more with the Kentucky Constitution, which says no one should be 'compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion.'" As the Courier-Journal (December 1, 2010) previously noted, there are also legal concerns about whether Ark Encounter could discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring; Answers in Genesis already requires its employees to endorse its statement of faith.

Broader concerns about the state's entanglement with the project persist, too. Writing in the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 5, 2010), Pam Platt regretted "the inevitable jokes." But after reviewing various challenges and obstacles to the integrity of education in the United States, she concluded, "So let us not consider Kentucky, and its real and perceived backwardness, apart and separate from our 49 fellow states and from the whole of the country. Yes, the proposed creationism park reinforces unfortunate stereotypes about Kentucky and Kentuckians, some of them true, but the points I assembled about the United States ought to be provoking a lot of questions about who Americans are and where, exactly, we're heading."

For the Louisville Courier-Journal's story, visit:
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101201/NEWS01/312010087/Beshear+announces+creationism+theme+park+to+open+in+2014++with+$250+million+impact

For the Lexington Herald-Leader's story, visit:
http://www.kentucky.com/2010/12/02/1548034/creation-museum-to-get-wooden.html

For the story on the AAAS's Science Insider blog, visit:
http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/12/plan-for-creationist-ark-park-dr.html

For the Lexington Herald-Leader's editorial, visit:
http://www.kentucky.com/2010/12/03/1550758/ark-incentives-cheap-jobs-poor.html

For the Louisville Courier-Journal's editorial, visit:
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101202/OPINION01/312020019

For the story in The New York Times, visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/us/06ark.html

For the story in USA Today, visit:
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2010-12-05-noahs-ark-kentucky-creation-museum_N.htm

For Gerth's and Platt's columns in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit:
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101205/COLUMNISTS21/312050092/Joseph+Gerth+|+Beshear+sails+risky+waters+for+ark+park
http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010312050045

SETTLEMENT IN FRESHWATER CASE FINAL

The judge presiding over Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education et al. approved a proposed settlement on December 3, 2010, bringing the case to its end. The case centered on John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon, Ohio, middle school science teacher, who was accused of inappropriate religious activity in the classroom -- including displaying posters with the Ten Commandments and Bible verses, branding crosses on the arms of his students with a high-voltage electrical device, and teaching creationism.

In his order, Judge Gregory L. Frost wrote, "Plaintiffs Stephen and Jenifer Dennis, individually and as natural parents and next friends of their minor child, ZD, and Defendant John Freshwater have reached an agreement to settle and resolve their differences and have stipulated to the entry of this Agreed Dismissal Order. The parties are to proceed in accordance with the terms of their settlement agreement. Pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this action is hereby dismissed with prejudice."

As the Mount Vernon News reported, "The settlement of $475,000 to the Dennis family [who originally filed suit under the pseudonym "Doe"] includes $25,000 for attorney fees, $150,000 each to Stephen and Jennifer, and $150,000 to be used for an annuity for Zachary." A previous report from the News (October 27, 2010) indicated that the school district's insurer, Ohio Casualty, will be liable for the payment, since Freshwater was employed by the district when the suit was filed.

The district was originally named in the lawsuit, but a settlement was reached in August 2009, leaving Freshwater as the sole defendant. Freshwater filed his own lawsuit against the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education in June 2009, but then filed a notice to dismiss it in October 2010, claiming that it would have interfered with the administrative hearing on the termination of his employment with the district, which was conducted intermittently from October 2008 to June 2010. The referee presiding over the hearing has yet to release his decision.

For the stories in the Mount Vernon News, visit:
http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/10/11/30/judge-approves-settlement-in-civil-lawsuit
http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/10/10/27/settlement-signed-by-both-parties-in-civil-lawsuit

For NCSE's collection of documents from the cases, visit:
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/doe-v-freshwater-mv
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/freshwater-v-mount-vernon
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/freshwater-termination-hearing

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Ohio, visit:
http://ncse.com/news/ohio

SEVEN DEPARTMENTAL VOICES FOR EVOLUTION

The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with statements from seven science departments at colleges and universities throughout the country.

The Department of Biology at Baylor University's statement reads, "Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biology, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and is accepted by the vast majority of scientists. Because it is fundamental to the understanding of modern biology, the faculty in the Biology Department at Baylor University, Waco, TX, teach evolution throughout the biology curriculum. ... We are a science department, so we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously."

In its statement, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Baylor University agrees, "Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biological sciences, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence," and adds, "It is fundamental to the understanding of modern biochemistry, and our faculty incorporate the principle of evolution throughout the biochemistry curriculum. We are a science department, and we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously."

The Biology Department at Central Connecticut State University's statement reads, "Evolution, a foundational principle of modern biological sciences, is supported by overwhelming scientific evidence. It is fundamental to the understanding of modern biology, and our faculty incorporate the principle of evolution throughout the curriculum. As we are a science department, we do not teach alternative hypotheses or philosophically deduced theories that cannot be tested rigorously. ... Without an understanding of evolutionary biology, our perception of the natural world would be greatly diminished."

In its statement, the Department of Biology at the College of New Jersey describes the faculty there as "unequivocal in its support of the contemporary theory of biological evolution. Evolutionary theory has been supported by data collection and analysis conducted over the past 150 years. No credible evidence has been presented to date in support of any alternative scientific theory to explain the origin of organic diversity. The faculty of the Department of Biology fully endorses the resolution ... by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on this issue."

Lehigh University's Department of Biological Sciences's statement describes the faculty there as "unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which ... has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years," adding, "The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of 'intelligent design.' While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."

In its statement, the Biology Faculty of Oklahoma City Community College describes evolutionary theory as "strengthened by over a century of observation and experimentation" and as "a crucial component of life science education," and adds, "While the College respects the right of individuals to hold personal or opposing views, the biology program will teach Evolutionary Theory as the central concept of modern biological science. It is our intent that the explanatory power of this subject will contribute greatly to our students' understanding of biology."

And the Saint Louis University Department of Biology's statement reads, "Since first proposed, the theory of evolution has transformed the study of life by providing a framework for understanding natural processes. ... Empirical studies over the past 150 years have provided tightly interwoven evidence for evolution and effectively serve as a guiding light for current and future biological inquiry. To confront students with untestable alternatives would not only misrepresent the significance of evolutionary theory and the legitimacy of the scientific method, but would also jeopardize future achievements."

All seven of these statements are now reproduced, by permission, on NCSE's website, and will also be contained in the fourth edition of NCSE's Voices for Evolution.

For the statements, visit:
http://www.baylor.edu/biology/index.php?id=77368
http://www.baylor.edu/chemistry/index.php?id=68470
http://www.biology.ccsu.edu/Evolution.htm
http://www.tcnj.edu/~biology/evolution.htm
http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/news/evolution.htm
http://www.occc.edu/SM/Evolution.html
http://www.slu.edu/x31096.xml

And for Voices for Evolution, visit:
http://ncse.com/voices

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

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BESE makes the right call

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20101209/OPINION03/12090342/BESE-makes-the-right-call

December 9, 2010

Only in these strange times is it news that Louisiana's education board has approved a science textbook based on, well, science.

A state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committee this week signed off on the first new high school life sciences textbook for public school students in eight years. The panel rejected arguments that the book doesn't include enough challenges to evolution.

Instead, the majority of the panel accepted the arguments of people such as retired biology teacher Patsye Peebles, who said: "The opponents to these biology books have an unfortunate misunderstanding of what is and isn't in the realm of science. By opening the door for their 'both sides' of any issue, you allow non-science and pseudo-science into the science classroom." Added a Presbyterian pastor, "The Bible is not a science book."

On the other side was John Yeats, of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, who argued that the new textbooks try to indoctrinate students.

It's curious how many of those who advocate approaches such as intelligent design apparently survived the "indoctrination" of old-timey science classes. Clearly, they evolved into adults who were able to make up their own minds about the origins of the universe and the methods of the creator.

We are reminded of an often kind, sometimes curmudgeonly teacher who taught 10th-grade biology when double knit first roamed the earth. He prefaced one discussion related to evolution by acknowledging that, in terms of personal faith, some folks explain the world in a different way. What students took from his statement: In his room, the discussion would be about scientific principles and theories that had survived rigorous scrutiny. Meanwhile, matters of faith — like the time it took for creation — should be discussed with the students' parents, pastors and Sunday school teachers.

If students survived that separation of science and religious doctrine, can't today's students also emerge to make their own choices, perhaps finding a path where science isn't the enemy but maybe a gift from God.

As that Presbyterian pastor told the BESE panel, "Let the science teachers of Louisiana teach science and let churches and families teach religion."

To that, let us add, Amen.