SETI bioastro: Fw: Items Of Interest

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Date: Thu Dec 27 2001 - 07:28:52 PST

----- Original Message -----
From: Barry Karr
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 2:01 PM
Subject: Items Of Interest

>From CSICOP Friend Massimo Pigliucci:

Hi all,

on December 29 at 2pm I will debate creationist Kent Hovind ("Dr. Dino") on
a radio show hosted by a fellow that identifies himself only as "Pastor
Dan." The show will be broadcasted over the Internet at and
there will be the possibility of calling in.

Rationally yours,

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, Assoc. Professor
Department of Botany
University of Tennessee

>From CSICOP Fellow Eugenie Scott:

Please pass this to those who might be interested in it. If you receive
multiple copies, please accept my apologies. Thank you.

Santorum Amendment Stripped from Education Bill

The Elementary and Secondary Education Authorization Act which is headed
for the President's signature does not contain the antievolution "Santorum
amendment", though there is brief mention of the topic of evolution in
explanatory materials appended to the law. The good news for teachers is
that they will not have to teach evolution any differently as a result of
the new legislation.


Since the summer of 2001, a joint Senate-House conference committee has
attempted to resolve the House and Senate versions of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Authorization Act (the "Education Bill"). The Senate
had added a "sense of the Senate" amendment proposed by Pennsylvania's
Senator Rick Santorum that singled out evolution as a controversial idea.

The original Santorum amendment said:

"It is the sense of the Senate that:

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data
or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims
that are made in the name of science; and

(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help
students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing
controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in
public discussions regarding the subject."

This language, because it singled out evolution as a controversial theory,
caused the officers of almost one hundred scientific societies –
representing over 100,000 scientists – to call upon the conference
committee chairs to drop the Santorum amendment. (See In
December 2001,the joint committee finished its work, and submitted the
compromise bill to Congress, which passed the bill and sent it to President
Bush for his signature.

The Good News

The good news is that the Santorum amendment has disappeared from the bill,
appearing only in altered form in the Conference Report, buried deep in the
"Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference" in Title I,
Part A, as item
78. (See

Item 78 says:

"The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare
students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from
religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science.
Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological
evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full
range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate
controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."

The Joint Explanatory Statement is not part of the bill itself, but an
explanation of how the conference committee brought together the various
provisions of the House and Senate bills. The law itself does not mention
"evolution", nor does it include any sentiments reflecting the Santorum
amendment. Teachers do not have to alter how they teach evolution as a
result of the Education Bill.

More good news is that the obscure two-sentence distillation of the
Santorum amendment reflects the conference committee's wish to keep
"religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science"
out of the science classroom, a position that NCSE has always supported.
Creation science, intelligent design theory, and philosophical materialism
qualify as "religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of
science" and thus teachers are discouraged from presenting them.

The Sort-of Bad News

The bad news is that evolution is again singled out – but even here
creationists got less than they wanted. Whereas evolution was the only
controversial scientific topic in the original Santorum amendment, Item 78
includes evolution as a parenthetical example of a controversial issue.

It appears as if the conference committee largely heeded the call of the
officers of the scientific societies. The scientists requested the Senate
and House conference committee chairs to drop the Santorum amendment –
which they did. The inclusion of a modified and watered-down form of the
amendment with no force of law, buried deep in explanatory material, was
probably intended to appease religiously conservative constituents,
politics being after all the art of compromise. But, to reiterate: teachers
do not have to alter how they teach evolution as a result of the Education

Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.
Executive Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Ste. 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
fax: 510-601-7204

>From Skeptical News Hound Joe Littrell:

Evolutionary Road
by Edward J. Larson
Washington Post

"Alfred Russel Wallace is hot. With six new books about his life or work
appearing within the past five years, including these two published this
year, Wallace has reemerged from Charles Darwin's long shadow to regain
some measure of the public recognition that he once enjoyed for his
independent role in formulating the theory of organic evolution by natural
selection. Like Darwin, Wallace was fairly well known in Britain even
before the announcement of their grand theory in 1858. Although the two men
differed in background and temperament, they built their initial
reputations in similar manners and hit upon the idea of natural selection
in nearly the same way."

Blair baby 'has had' MMR jab
by Kamal Ahmed and Gaby Hinsliff
The Observer [UK],6903,624391,00.html

"Leo Blair has been given the controversial triple vaccination for measles,
mumps and rubella, The Observer can reveal. Sources close to Tony Blair
gave the clearest indication possible last night that the 19-month-old
child has had the MMR inoculation after demands that the family 'come
clean' on the issue."

Study Links Superstitious Fear to Fatal Heart Attacks
by Kate Wong
Scientific American

"In work that illustrates the negative influence that mind can wield over
body, a new study provides perhaps the strongest evidence yet that
psychological stress can increase the risk of cardiac death. A report
describing this so-called Baskerville effect—named for the fate of a
character in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles who
succumbs to a stress-induced heart attack—appears in the current issue of
the British Medical Journal."

see also:

Phony doctor imprisoned for running cancer scam
Bradenton Herald

"After persuading ailing patients or their relatives to dole out thousands
of dollars for fraudulent cancer treatments, John Paul Dyke has been
sentenced to nine years in prison, more than twice the time sentencing
guidelines recommend for fraud."

Popular Myth Says Suicides Increase During Holidays, Facts Prove Contrary
Press Release
National Mental Health Awareness Campaign

"Contrary to widespread media reports that suicide rates are highest during
the holiday season, facts show the percentage of suicides among adults and
teens occurring in December is below the monthly average. In the United
States, April is usually the peak month of suicide incidence and December
is the lowest.(1) In fact, November and December rank the lowest in daily
rates of suicide.(2) An analysis done last year by the Annenberg Public
Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, found that two out of
three newspaper stories incorrectly link suicides to the holidays or create
a direct relationship between the holidays and suicides."

Vatican denies rumors the Third Secret of Fatima foretold terrorist attacks
Associated Press

"The Vatican tried Thursday to end speculation that the so-called Third
Secret of Fatima foretold the Sept. 11 suicide hijacking attacks in the
United States."

Ball lightning baffles scientists
BBC News

"This picture of the freak weather phenomenon of ball lightning was taken
by a wildlife ranger in Queensland, Australia, in 1987."

Former unbelievers now seeking advice in psychic realm
By Amie Parnes

"Sept. 11. It was a clear, sunny day and Mars was in Capricorn."

>From ghosts to Jesus, apparition tradition continues in Atlantic Canada
Canadian Press

"In Atlantic Canada, coffee shops, covered bridges, bedroom walls and even
knotholes have a curious commonality. Over the years, they've all been home
to apparitions - and 2001 was no exception."

No fooling: the 10 worst Internet hoaxes
By Scott Spanbauer

"Communicating by e-mail seems safe and clean compared to the real world --
no bad breath, no cauliflower ear, and no anthrax. But e-mail doesn't
escape the clutches of con artists. Just because an e-mail message looks
legitimate and plays upon our deeply felt hopes and fears doesn't mean it's
true. Here's our top ten list of some of the most devious hoaxes and
outright scams in Internet history. Don't be surprised to see some of them
appear (and mutate into new forms) again and again."

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