KCFS Update 01/26/06

KCFS Update
1/26/06

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KANSAS
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Wichita Board Spars With Corkins

Wichita Eagle – January 24, 2006

. . .Corkins outlined the state board’s legislative agenda, which includes allowing proposed charter schools to appeal to the state if the local district denies their application; all-day kindergarten; and funding for at-risk students.

But despite Corkins’ effort to talk about state initiatives, board members battered him with questions about his more controversial positions — in favor of charter schools, and of voucher programs that allow public money to be used to send students to private schools. . .
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Bill Spells Out Qualifications for Ed Commissioner

LJWorld – January 26, 2006

Legislation would require hiring person with experience in schools.

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Speaker Stands Behind Theory

LJ World, January 24, 2006

Intelligent design proponent William Dembski stood on an empty stage Monday at the Lied Center.

Organizers of the event had tried in advance to get a science professor to spar with him, but all who were asked declined.

Dembski, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., expounded on the theory and criticized evolution before a nearly packed auditorium. . . .

To Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, a group critical of intelligent design, Dembski was floundering in a substanceless middle ground somewhere between science and religion.

“It was not science and it was not religion,” Krebs said. “Therefore it was fairly uneventful in my mind.” . . .

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Audio of Dembski at Lied Center

Did you miss Dembski’s appearance at the Lied Center on January 23rd? To hear audio files of the event, go to the link above.

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Election Buildup Begins

Four who supported science change face re-election

LJ World – January 24, 2006

The debate over evolution and intelligent design will be more than lecture-hall fodder this year in Kansas.

It also is expected to be the defining issue in State Board of Education elections. Four of the six board members who upended the state’s science guidelines to include language critical of evolution face re-election. . . .

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Regents OK Final Phase of KU Biology Center

It would aid life sciences research

KC Star – Jan. 20, 2006

The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday approved an addition to the University of Kansas Structural Biology Center to house one the country’s largest collections of chemical compounds.

The university needs approval from the Kansas Legislature before it can start building the $20 million, 45,000-square-foot addition on the West Campus in Lawrence. The hope is to start construction in the spring and complete the structure in 15 months, said KU Provost David Shulenburger.

The addition would represent the latest step in the university’s continued development of life sciences research, Shulenburger said. . . .

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DOVER
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Behe: Astrology is a Scientific Theory

Check out this dialogue between Michael Behe and Eric Rothschild, the attorney for the Dover plaintiffs in the recent trial. Behe, a real live scientist (author of “Darwin’s Black Box,” apparently doesn’t know what a scientific theory is. Astrology? Sure, that’s a scientific theory…

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Revs. Seek Lessons From Dover

A seminar seeks to prepare pastors for intelligent-design debates near them.

York Daily Record – January 19, 2006

. . .The three-day course, which began Tuesday, seeks to give those attending a “practical theology in response to this controversy.”

Tuesday, over lunch, Abarno and other members of the class said they want to be ready to help lead should it become an issue in their community.

While they are still wrestling with the issue of intelligent design – the idea that life’s complexity requires a designer – they say they have no trouble reconciling their faith with evolutionary theory.. . .

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And elsewhere in Pennsylvania…

Legal Fears Halt ID Move

SHICKSHINNY, Pa., Jan. 23 (UPI) — A local school board member in Pennsylvania who is an intelligent design advocate says this is not the right time to introduce ID into classrooms.

Randy Tomasacci, a member of the Northwest Area School Board in Shickshinny, Pa., says he’s dropped the idea of introducing intelligent design. “If we do it at all, in any classroom, anywhere, we’ll have a lawsuit,” he told the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times. . . .

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OHIO
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Ed Board Members Lash Back at Public Evolution Supporters

Associated Press – January 20, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Board of Education members lashed back at audience members who criticized the state’s lesson plan for questioning evolution, reading a personal e-mail from one speaker and reading newspapers as another person spoke, a newspaper reported Friday. . . .

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Author Says His Report on ID Misused

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
By PAUL E. KOSTYU COPLEY COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS – The author of a report used to bolster Ohio’s inclusion of intelligent design into the state science curriculum now says he may have been misled.

Paul R. Gross, a former science professor at the University of Virginia, called into question Monday how his evaluation of Ohio science standards was used. . . .

Discussion of the Dover case prompted a 9-8 vote at a meeting of the Ohio Board of Education last week to uphold the guidelines. Michael Cochran of Blacklick used a recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute grade of “B,” which came from Gross, to imply the institute approved the inclusion of intelligent design in the science curriculum.

“The benefit of doubt we gave the benchmark may have been a mistake,” Gross said. “Creationism-inspired ‘critical analysis’ of evolutionary biology is neither serious criticism nor serious analysis. Any suggestion that our ‘B’ grade for Ohio’s standard endorses sham critiques of evolution, as offered by creationists, is false.” . . .

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SOUTH CAROLINA
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[NOTE: Haven’t we heard “critical analysis of evolution” somewhere before?]

Sen. Says Effort Not a Backdoor to Teaching ID

(Columbia-AP) January 22, 2006 – The state’s education reform panel is scheduled to talk Monday about whether South Carolina high school students should be encouraged to question the theory of evolution.

The lawmaker who started the debate, Greenville Senator Mike Fair, says the discussion is not about inserting intelligent design. But he says it’s about critical analysis of evolution in the state’s biology curriculum. . . .

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NATIONAL
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ID Battles Rage On

Jewish Groups Get Involved as Legal Battles Spread From State to State

Forward – NY – January 20, 2006

. . . “For large parts of the Jewish community, the notion that the Bible is a source of scientific authority is objectionable. But beyond that, it’s probably the most prominent effort today to put religion into public schools, and therefore that causes it to be an important subject for us,” said Marc Stern, general counsel of the American Jewish Congress. . . .

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Scientists: Evolution Not Up For Debate

Proof? They point to fossils and the genome

Salt Lake Tribune – 1/19/06

For the vast majority of scientists, the debate over evolution is long dead. But the war is far from over.

Utah has become the latest state where the teaching of evolution in public schools has turned into a political and religious battle. The Utah Senate may vote this week on a bill that would require teachers to tell students the state does not endorse any of the competing theories about the origins of humans. . . .

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INTERNATIONAL
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[NOTE: This speaks to the need for scientists to spend more face time with the general public to show that they’re not all depressed brainiacs and geeks!]

Science “Not For Normal People”

Teenagers value the role of science in society but feel scientists are “brainy people not like them”, research suggests.

The Science Learning Centre in London asked 11,000 pupils for their views on science and scientists.

Around 70% of the 11-15 year olds questioned said they did not picture scientists as “normal young and attractive men and women”. . .

Among those who said they would not like to be scientists, reasons included: “Because you would constantly be depressed and tired and not have time for family”, and “because they all wear big glasses and white coats and I am female”. . . .

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HUMOUR
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Evo Funny
Washington Post, January 22, 2006

“The Kansas Board of Education said scienara to evolution.” (Jonathan Guberman, Princeton, NJ). …

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OPINION/EDITORIAL
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[NOTE: A must-read article tracing the history and true aims of the ID movement.]

War Against Reason: The “Intelligent Design” Scam

By Owen Williamson
Feb. PoliticalAffairs.net

. . .Intelligent design itself is in essence a scam: a theory based on lack of knowledge rather than knowledge, and as such impossible to disprove. ID theory claims that the anthropic principle, the remarkable series of low-probability cosmic events that allowed the development of multicellular life on Earth, the mysteries of quantum weirdness, the astounding complexity of DNA, the yet-undiscovered material basis of human consciousness and numberless other still-unexplored corners and closets of science all demand the presence of a “God of the gaps,” an intelligent designer. This heavenly designer is painted as a sort of divine CEO benevolently micromanaging The Universe, Inc. for the very special benefit of America, for profit and for the Republican Party. . . .

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Say No to “Origins of Life” Bill

Salt Lake Tribune – 1/21/2006
Chris Rohrer

The Utah Legislature should reject SB96 (Public Education ‹ Instruction and Policy Relating to Origins of Life), sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars.

On its face, SB96 appears innocuous, even benign. Encouraging critical thinking and critical analysis of competing scientific ideas is undeniably a good thing. Not all scientists agree. That is a given for any subject.

Where SB96 fails is singling out the topic of origins of life for special treatment in education. Not only is there near-unanimous agreement and support for the basic tenets of evolution within the scientific community, this restriction raises significant constitutional questions. . . .

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Intelligent Design and the Philosophy of Make-Believe

Quinn Wyndham Price

. . . Intelligent design is a product of imagination, on numerous counts. Consider the argument from “irreducible complexity.” Design theorists say that some biological mechanisms like the bacterial flagellum are so complex that they could not have evolved from smaller functional mechanisms. Defenders of evolution rightly object that this argument confuses a limitation of Darwinian explanatory power with evidence for intelligent design. But even if these examples really were irreducibly complex, and really were positive evidence for anything, why would they be evidence of intelligent design? . . .

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Scientists Not Afraid of ID

My Word by Joe Willis
Eureka (CA) Times Standard – 1/22/2006

This is in response to the recent column by William Rusher in the Times-Standard titled “Why are scientists afraid of intelligent design?”

William Rusher’s Jan. 10 column clearly shows that he is more interested in winning an argument than in finding the truth. Rusher’s title falsely characterizes scientists as being “afraid” of an idea. That would be the opposite of science! He then proceeds to wrongly characterize evolution as a simplistic process based on a series of accidents, then attacks the caricature he created. It might interest the reader to know that Rusher once published a book titled “How to Win Arguments.” . . .

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BOOKS
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Review of Eugenie C. Scott’s “Evolution vs. Creationism” (University of California, $19.95)

[NOTE: Dr. Eugenie Scott is a physical anthropologist and Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (http://www.ncseweb.org.)

. . . Anyone who wants to defend evolution at his next church picnic should arm himself with this book. What’s flood geology? It’s the creationist thesis that a vast canopy of hot vapor once surrounded the earth, cooled down in the time of Noah, and turned into a flood; an atmospheric scientist explains why that’s impossible. Why don’t evolutionary biologists worry about the Cambrian Explosion, when invertebrates showed up on earth as if out of nowhere? Because paleontologists don’t need to see a fossil of every species that ever existed to infer the links between species, for one thing. Scott also walks us through the legal history of American creationism – the court rulings that forced anti-evolutionists to adapt to their increasingly secular environment by adopting scientific jargon. . . .

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So Dover Is Supposed TO Be Our Fault?

Scientific American – January 23, 2006

A maddening book review [of Eugenie Scott’s book, above] by Judith Shulevitz in the Sunday New York Times manages to recapitulate one of the standard anti-evolution rants, even though Shulevitz would surely never call herself anti-evolution. The argument is that evolutionary science embodies a philosophical system, secular materialism, and that the biological community does not recognize or care how much its advocacy of this philosophy clashes with the religious philosophies embedded in society. Hence, the scientists have themselves to blame for the anti-evolution backlash. (The hardcore anti-evolutionists push this to the point of saying that science is therefore just a belief system equivalent to religion, but Shulevitz doesn’t wander that far off the road of reason.) . . .

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A Random Universe

Professor of biology Richard G. Colling uses randomness to unite evolution and creation

Science & Theology News – January 13, 2006

Wlliam Bragg was an acclaimed English physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1915 for advancing the use of X-rays to study crystalline structures. Just a few decades later, similar X-ray studies were the key to deciphering the molecular structure of DNA. Bragg, known as a brilliant, humble man, once commented, “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” The same might be said of religion.

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Kansas Citizens for Science is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes a better understanding of what science is and does, by:

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