KCFS Update 3/25/06

KCFS Update

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Another Key KS Dept. of Ed Official Resigns

Johnson County Sun – March 23, 2006

Another key employee has resigned from the Kansas State Department of Education.

Alexa Posny, Kansas deputy commissioner of education for learning services, has accepted an appointment with the U.S. Department of Education.

Posny, who has been with the Kansas State Department of Education seven years, will direct the USDE’s office for special education programs, effective April 17. Her last day with the state will be April 14.

Posny’s resignation is the third among high-level department officials in nine months. With other resignations expected, board moderates said they are disturbed. . . .

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Two Repubs Vie for BOE Seat

Pittsburg Morning Sun – March 20, 2006

With Iris Van Meter’s announcement that she wouldn’t seek re-election to her State Board of Education seat, the Republican race is now at two – Jana Shaver of Independence and Brad Patzer, Van Meter’s son-in-law from Neodesha. . . .

Shaver said that she decided to run for Van Meter’s District 9 seat after she became upset with some of the actions from the board. . . .

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KU Series to Focus on Science Standards

LJ World – March 17, 2006

“Hume Feldman gets hot under the collar when he thinks about the Kansas State Board of Education’s changes to the definition of science in the public school science standards. . . .

“With the backing of a slew of KU departments, Feldman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, has organized a series of lectures [dates TBA] calling in several scientists to explore the ramifications of the state board’s actions. . . .”

o Lawrence Krauss, physics professor at Case Western Reserve University, author of “The Physics of Star Trek

o Barbara Forrest, philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, co-author of “The Wedge: Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” and an expert witness in the Dover, Pa. intelligent design trial

o William Schopf, a University of California- Los Angeles paleobiologist and author of “Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth’s Earliest Fossils.”

o Joseph Heppert, KU’s chemistry department chair, director of the Center for Science Education.

“The series, set for the Dole Institute of Politics, is sponsored by KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Office, Kansas Geological Survey and the KU departments of chemistry, geology, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biosciences, philosophy, political science, religious studies, anthropology, psychology and economics. . . .

“Goldstein said he and others made a conscious decision not to attend the hearings over the standards in Topeka last year, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t watching or taking a stand.

“We’re on stage,” he said. “Just on a different stage.”

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Ex-Official Helps Erect Anti-Evolution Billboard on I-35

LJ World – March 23, 2006

Dave Penny isn’t shy.

Everybody knows he thinks evolution is a bunch of hooey.

So when a group of Johnson County businessmen asked him to help put up a billboard that poked fun at evolution, he said OK. . . .

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House Agrees to Hike Funding

House Begins School Finance Debate (AP)

Plan Emerges on School Finance

State Support for Higher Education at Low Point

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Judge Dismisses Anti-Evolution Suit Against U. of California

A federal judge last week threw out a lawsuit that accused the University of California at Berkeley of violating the U.S. Constitution by running a Web site that explains and supports biological evolution, the Associated Press reported. According to the lawsuit, the “Understanding Evolution” Web site represents an establishment of religion, in violation of the First Amendment, because it notes that some religious faiths accept evolutionary theory. The site, which is intended for both teachers and the public, is run by the University of California Museum of Paleontology with grants provided by the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The dispute is part of a growing struggle between advocates of evolution and its detractors. Many scientists in academe are taking a bolder role in defending their views (The Chronicle, March 10).

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Vatican Scientist to Lead Dialogue on Intelligent Design

Duquesne University Times – March 16, 2006

While the issue of Intelligent Design vs. evolution continues to be a subject of debate in the United States, Pope Benedict XVI has said that science and the Christian faith still can be compatible. Another significant Vatican representative will pursue further dialogue on Intelligent Design at a compelling lecture at Duquesne University next month.

The Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory, will present The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Science Does Not Need God. Or Does It? on Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Duquesne Union Ballroom. Co-sponsored by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, this dialogue on Intelligent Design is free and open to the public.

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“The Pianist” Scribe Penning Dover Pic

Variety – March 15, 2006

Paramount Pictures has set The Pianist screenwriter Ronald Harwood to write a feature about last fall’s Dover, Pa., courtroom decision in which a federal judge denied a school board the right to force educators to teach intelligent design instead of evolution. . . .

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[Also, we understand “Nova” is doing a documentary on the Kitzmiller trial, with recreations of some of the testimony. In an extremely informal poll, most respondents thought Judge Jones should be portrayed by Tom Hanks.]

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Archbishop Speaks Out Against Teaching of Creationism

LONDON (AFP) – The Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, said in an interview that he did not believe creationism — the Bible-based account of the origins of the world — should be taught in schools. . . .

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Update from London

In the last KCFS Update, we reported that creationism was going to be taught in Britain. Apparently deluged with protests, OCR, the organization responsible for including it in educational standards used widely in the UK, issued a clarifying statement, below.

By the way, OCR apparently is not an abbreviation for anything.


13 Mar 2006 Creationism in science specifications
You may have seen coverage about our new Gateway Science specification in the media.At OCR, we believe candidates need to understand the social and historical context to scientific ideas both pre and post Darwin. In our Gateway Science specification, candidates are asked to discuss why the opponents of Darwinism thought the way they did and how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence.

Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not regarded by OCR as scientific theories. They are beliefs that do not lie within scientific understanding.

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Interview with E. O. Wilson, Pulitzer-Prize-Wininng Sociobiologist

Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson explains why we’re hard-wired to form tribalistic religions, denies that “evolutionism” is a faith, and says that heaven, if it existed, would be hell.

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Strangling Evolution In Its Sleep

Political Cortex – March 24, 2006

Sometimes people try to stomp on knowledge directly — like the Kansas school board’s blantant appeal to ignorance. At least those people have the guts to stand up in front of the cameras. They’re wrong on every point, but they’re not cowards.

More insidous are those who simply scrub away at learning without a vote or any pretense at a public forum. In Arkansas, it now appears that evolution has quietly disappeared.

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Testicles May Provide a Better Kind of Stem Cell

The Times of London – March 25, 2006

Men may be carrying in their testicles an almost limitless supply of spare part cells for treating disease and injury, research has suggested.

Scientists in Germany have successfully isolated a new kind of stem cell from the testes of adult mice that can grow into a full range of tissue types, offering a possible alternative to embryonic stem (ES) cells for medical therapies. . . .

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Astronomers Detect First Split-Second of the Universe

SPACE.com – March 16, 2006

Scientists announced today new evidence supporting the theory that the infant universe expanded from subatomic to astronomical size in a fraction of a second after its birth. . . .

Brian Greene, a physicist from Columbia University who wasn’t involved in the research, called the new findings “spectacular” and “stunning.”

“A major question that people have asked for decades is where do stars and galaxies come from? The answer coming from WMAP data supports the idea that quantum fluctuations are the answer,” Greene said. “WMAP’s data supports the notion that galaxies are nothing but quantum mechanism writ large across the sky.”

The new findings brings humanity closer to answering one of its oldest questions, that of where we come from, Greene said. . . .

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Storm Intensity Tied to Warming of Sea Surfaces

LA Times – March 17, 2006

A study fuels the climate change debate by linking the rise in severe hurricanes to ocean temperatures. Many experts are skeptical.

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Scientists Develop Listeria Vaccine: Study

Reuters – March 20, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have developed a vaccine for the food-borne disease listeria that they hope to apply to more common illnesses like salmonella and tuberculosis, a researcher said on Monday. . ..

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Still bupkus. . . .

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Understanding Evolution

Your one-stop source for information on evolution.

New Space Events Web Page

View the March 29 solar eclipse online, and see other neat science stuff presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Red State Rabble

Thoughts From Kansas

The Panda’s Thumb

Talk Origins
The foremost source for information about evolution, creationism and related topics.

National Center for Science Education

Creationism’s Trojan Horse

Website maintained by Barb Forrest and Paul Gross, co-authors of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design.” Lots of interviews, reviews, info from the Dover trial, and articles.

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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:

* Advocating for science education
* Educating the public about the nature and value of science
* Serving as an information resource

If you are a supporter of science education, please join KCFS now. Go to http://www.kcfs.org/join for details.

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