Friday, June 30, 2006


What's Corkins Been Smoking?

Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins has told Kevin Flaherty of the Morning Sun that even if the upcoming election changes the makeup of the Kansas State Board of Education this year, he doesn't expect there to be major alterations in policy.

All RSR can say to that is, "What's Corkins been smoking?"

Corkins told the Morning Sun that despite conflicts in recent years, particularly over evolution and sexual education standards, the differences in opinions weren't large enough to see a major change with new members.

"The differences are all in small degrees, things like the language that is tossed around," Corkins said. "But for the most part, I think the differences are overblown and exaggerated. On several of the major issues, such as all-day kindergarten, the board is unanimous and united."

If moderates retake the board, two changes will happen almost simultaneously:

The new board may rest on the second day, but you can be sure other big changes will follow, and follow fast.


Good Intentions

RSR's mother used to say the road to hell was paved with good intentions.

Those of us who want to take Kansas and our state's education system back from the religious radicals who've taken control must realize that all the good intentions in the world won't mean a thing unless we get involved, get active, get out and vote, and perhaps most important at this time -- make a contribution, no matter how small, to one or more of the moderate candidates running for state school board.

RSR has added a section to the sidebar -- Donate -- that is designed to make it easy for you to make a contribution online or through the mail. Each of the candidates listed, whether Republican or Democrat, has pledged to return the state school board to sanity and reverse the embarrassing attack on science in the new standards. All of these candidates have been endorsed by MAIN PAC based on their public statements and an evaluation of their positions on critical issues.

We know the right-wing zealots are deadly earnest about fundraising. Their candidates will have plenty of money to throw at this election. If we sit back and do nothing -- no matter how pure our intentions -- they will win, and we will have let them.

Don't let them.


RSR Exclusive: Jesse Hall -- Fundamentalist Stealth Candidate

In 2002, Iris Van Meter ran a successful stealth campaign to win a seat on the Kansas School Board. She made no public appearances or public statements, but raised more money than any other school board candidate and defeated incumbent moderate Val DeFever of Independence just the same.

"It's scary," said Val DeFever after the election. "Someone could never leave their living room, never meet the public, and win public office."

Just a week before the election, a shadowy group called Truth in Politics sent a mailing to voters in the board's 9th District that called DeFever an anti-President Bush liberal supported by an atheist organization.

Today, Red State Rabble received evidence that another stealth candidate who is recieving covert support from the religious right -- Jesse Hall, a Democrat -- is running for the District 1 board seat against moderate Janet Waugh.

The evidence, which RSR is reporting exclusively, is an e-mail to religious right supporters from Celtie Johnson, described by the Pitch, Kansas City's alterndative newsweekly, as "a God-fearing Johnson County mom who was largely responsible for the last battle over evolution in Kansas schools. Back in 1999, she led an honest fight for biblical truth, attempting to get the Genesis creation story taught to schoolchildren. She's back again, fighting evolution once more, but this time she's standing up for the watered-down ID agenda."

Here are some key excerpts from Johnson's message to supporters:

Dear Friend! Our State School Board Candidates need your undivided attention! ...and please forward this e-mail to your conservative friends, asap.

This important notice is for all my friends who want to directly impact the spiritual war against God at the root...the origin of everything.

Have you ever had a real life "do-or-die" event in your life...? (health issues excluded) Well, I believe we are in one of those very rare moments right now and that you may not even be aware of it, but I suspect that you are. It IS the upcoming Kansas State School Board elections.

There are five out of 10 seats that are being fought for on the state school board and I sincerely pray that we will all be very diligent as well as very encouraged by the fact that there are five brave conservative candidates who are WILLING to do all the hard physical work that it takes to be a viable contender.

If we win at least 3 of these 5 positions, creating a 5-5 stalemate, we will prevent the evolutionists from overturning the world-changing progress Kansas has made so far, which established science standards that give both teachers and students the freedom to approach the godless theory of evolution with objectivity. If we can win all five seats, creating a 7-3 conservative majority in spite of all the media and academia against us, then the liberals and evolutionists would learn the undeniable message that they can no longer get away with cramming evolutionism down ours and our neighbors kids' throats! It would be history-making!!!

Who are the five brave conservative candidates? Johnson names them in her e-mail:
Johnson adds this about Jesse Hall, who has filed for office, but has yet to make a single public statement or campaign appearance:
Jesus has blessed us financially, Eric and I have given the maximum donation allowable from our family to each candidate. I hope and pray that you, too, will donate as much as you can. I've been told that if you must choose a candidate to support who needs your financial help the most, that that would be a toss-up between Jesse Hall of District #1 and Connie Morris of District #5, due to the unique dynamics of their races. Jesse Hall is a conservative, pro- life Democate who is running in the only "Democrat majority" district which is largely based in Kansas City, Kansas.
There are two take-away messages for moderates who want to get education back on track in Kansas. Right-wingers will employ any undemocratic method -- from playing fast and loose with the state's campaign finance laws to running stealth candidates -- to acheive their theocratic goals, and they will raise money to support right-wing candidates, lots of it.

Moderates need to alert the public about Jesse Hall and we need to raise money for moderate candidates. More on that in our next post.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Rush to Judgement

RSR had a lot of fun with the news that radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was detained customs officials for having a bottle of Viagra in his luggage when he returned on his private jet from the Dominican Republic, and now we feel just terrible about it.

You see, we've found, to our chagrin, that the unmarried Rush didn't intend to use the male enhancement drug in order to have sex with women to whom he was not joined by the sacred bonds of matrimony -- which we know must be protected at all costs.

It seems that Rush suffers from a rare sleep disorder that causes him to roll restlessly from side to side in his bed at night.

The Viagra, we have now learned, was prescribed to keep him from falling out of bed during these episodes and re-injuring his back.

RSR would like to tender our sincerest apologies to Rush for assuming the worst.


Michigan Creationism Bill Evolves

You remember Rep. John Moolenaar, a Republican from Midland up in Michigan, not far from where RSR grew up. He's the one that wrote legislation requiring science teachers there to present competing theories to evolution and global warming.

That bill was defeated after reasonable people called attention to the fact that it would require public schools to teach religious theories about creation. Something the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional almost 20 years ago.

Now -- like Freddy -- Moolenaar is back. He doesn't want to teach creationism or intelligent design. Perish the thought. No, he wants to require teachers to use scientific methods to evaluate scientific theories.

Moolenaar's latest evolution of creationism was approved by the Michigan House Education Committee Wednesday, 15-2 after specific examples of global warming and evolution were removed.


Dover All Over

The Miami-Dade School Board recently ordered "Vamos a Cuba" -- a picture book for children in kindergarten through second grade -- removed from school library shelves because some parents say it portrays Cuba in a favorable light. Many in the Miami's Cuban exile community didn't like that.

In fact, the book has so incensed the board, that it pulled all 24 of the books in the children's travel series from the shelves.

School board attorney Julie Ann Rico warned members they'd be on shaky legal ground if they banned the book, but they did it anyway.

Now, the American Civil Liberties union is suing the school board, saying their decision was purely political and violates a Supreme Court decision that says: "Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books."

For some on the school board, money -- as long as it's taxpayer money -- is no object.

Board member Rivas Logan, for example, says she's willing to pay whatever is necessary to defend the board's sketchy decision.

Reportedly, Attorney Richard Ovelman has signed a $25,000 initial contract and will be paid $414 an hour to represent the board. His chief assistant will get $270 per hour, and a third assistant will get $171 per hour.

If the school board loses in Miami federal court and takes its appeal as far as it can go it will be expensive. One school board member said they have been warned their legal fees could top $500,000 dollars.

If the school board loses, it will also have to pay the ACLU attorneys fees -- which could also be sizable. That money would come from Miami-Dade taxpayers.

Half a million bucks to ban a picture book that asks: "How do some people in Cuba get from place to place? What kinds of fruits grow in Cuba? Which spiky plant do some Cubans eat as a vegetable?"

Seems reasonable enough to us.

Update: NBC Channel 6 in Miami reports that: The Miami-Dade school district must keep a series of children's books banned by the county's school board until arguments stemming from a legal challenge to the ban can be heard next month, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Half a million bucks and they can't even take the book off the shelf? Oh yeah, go ahead, that seems reasonable.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Judge Refuses to Dismiss UC Religous Discrimination Suit

Sean Nealon of The Press-Enterprise reports: "A federal judge said Tuesday he was not inclined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by six students at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta alleging religious discrimination by the University of California."

"The lawsuit alleges violations of free speech and religious rights in UC's decision not to certify some classes from the school for the university's admission requirements. Three classes in question -- two literature courses and an English course -- cover the needed material but add a Biblical view, an attorney for the school said."


Keeping Strong in her Faith

Natalie Saracco, in a touchingly confessional letter to The Lantern, the independent student voice at Ohio State University, says she believes she is "one of the few biology majors who has a Christian religious affiliation" there.

"With ideas like natural selection, cloning and Darwin's theories being forced upon me" writes Saracco, "it is difficult to keep strong in my faith; a faith that doesn't believe anything of the sort."

Saracco says it's a challenge to compel herself to accept something other than "divine creation."

Fortunately, her advisor attends Saracco's church and has been able to "recommend some classes that are slightly less painful" for her.

Why does she continue to pursue a biology degree when she "wholeheartedly reject[s] some of the major foundations of this science?"

She intends to pursue a career in forensics -- she's undoubtedly an avid "CSI: Miami" fan -- and unfortunately, at OSU there's no forensics major so "either it's biology or chemistry."

Saracco tried chemistry, "but it was too much math." Math, she tells us, "is a totally different hate" of hers.

Saracco can see some areas of gray -- that house cats and leopards might be related, for example -- but she assures us that no chimpanzees have ever attended any of her family reunions.

We're not so sure about that last bit, but we are quite sure that Saracco is not one of the few Christians at OSU who are majoring in Biology. She's just one of the few biblical literalists majoring in Biology at OSU.

There's a difference.


The Best Way to Learn Evolution

For David Watkins, the head of the University of Wisconsin at Madison's HIV vaccine research team, the search for an HIV vaccine has as much to do with Darwin as disease, according to a story by David Wahlberg in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Motivated by a mix of humanitarian concern for the victims of HIV and scientific curiosity Watkins says:
"HIV is the best way to learn evolution," said the 47-year- old, born in Uganda, raised in Trinidad and schooled in Wales.

"It's evolution in action," he said, because the virus frequently mutates to dodge the immune system and drugs.


Calvert Stumps for Morris, ID in Kansas

According to a report by Earl Watt of the Southwest Daily Times, intelligent design activist John Calvert is stumping the western part of Kansas in advance of the primary election to assure voters that "the new science standards in Kansas intentionally remove any religious language as well as any references to intelligent design and that's just how his group wanted it -- no biases, no predetermined conclusions."

Of course, that's not how school board members who actually voted for the new standards see it.

Board chair Steve Abrams told a conservative religious audience last September that, “At some point in time, if you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe,” Abrams said. “That’s the bottom line.”

And just last week, RSR heard board member John Bacon tell an Olathe audience that "intelligent design was an inference students could draw" from the new science standards.

He might just as well have said that ID was the inference the board intended for students to draw -- that would have been more accurate.

The new standards contain a carefully crafted statement not so intelligently designed to ward off a possible legal challenge:
We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.
Despite the ingenuous disclaimer, the standards are positively littered with creationist and ID pseudoscience, as here in benchmark 3 for grades 8-12:

The view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendants of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years by:

i. Discrepancies in the molecular evidence (e.g., differences in relatedness inferred from sequence studies of different proteins) previously thought to support that view.

ii. A fossil record that shows sudden bursts of increased complexity (the Cambrian Explosion), long periods of stasis and the absence of abundant transitional forms rather than steady gradual increases in complexity, and

iii. Studies that show animals follow different rather than identical early stages of embryological development.

All of these assertions are untrue. All of these assertions have a long pedigree in discredited creationist critiques of evolution. And, that's the reason the Fordham Institute gave Kansas a grade of F on the new standards. That's the reason the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association have refused to grant copyright permission for the use of publications written by the two organizations in the state's science education standards. That's why the Manhattan-Ogden school board voted not to adopt the board's new standards.

The question for Kansas voters -- not much more than a month away now, from a primary election that may very well decide whether the board's new, improved anti-science standards go into effect or are rejected by a newly elected moderate board -- is does any of this matter.

In today's New York Times, Michael Winerip has written an article, "Evolution's Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom," that makes absolutely clear what is at stake in Kansas.

Winerip tells the story of Pat New, 62, "a respected, veteran middle school science teacher, who, a year ago, quietly stood up for her right to teach evolution in this rural northern Georgia community, and prevailed."

According to Winerip, New was threatened and harassed for teaching evolution. She received no support from her principal or the district's administration.

On May 5, 2005, she filled out a complaint to initiate a grievance under state law, writing that she was being "threatened and harassed" though "I am following approved curriculum." She also wrote, "If we could get together within 24 hours and settle this and I feel I have support to teach the standards, then I would tear it up."

Suddenly the superintendent was focused on standards.

That is why Calvert is out in western Kansas stumping for Connie Morris. That is why right-wing fundamentalists like Abrams and Bacon voted to change the standards. They want to pull the rug out from under Kansas teachers who have the courage to follow Pat New's example.

RSR readers may also want to read a thoughtful, well-written post by Brandon Haught on the Florida Citizens for Science website that also links to Winerip's NYT article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Rush Stands Firm

Rush Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, issued a statement Monday that the Viagra that led to Limbaugh's three-hour detention by customs officials had been prescribed by Limbaugh's treating physician but labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for "privacy purposes."

On his radio program yesterday, Limbaugh joked about the matter saying, "The people at Customs were as nice as they could be. They just didn't believe me when I told them that I got those pills at the Clinton Library gift shop... " according to -- get this -- WorldNetDaily. (Apparently WorldNetDaily has embraced situational ethics for right-wing radio hosts.)

Although some wags have suggested the family values maven was bringing the Viagra back from the Dominican Republic -- a notorious sex tourist destination -- for Ann Coulter, RSR personally doubts she needs any help in that department.

Certainly, Limbaugh, a manly man now divorced for the third time, wouldn't have needed the male enhancement drug for himself. We're quite certain that a man like Limbaugh, a staunch defender of the sanctity of marriage who is probably as close to God as anyone but Pat Robertson, would never violate one of His Ten Commandments with a women to whom he was not joined in holy matrimony.

RSR doesn't know which particular infirm friend Rush was trying to help with the Viagra, but it's possible that the radio talk show host's charitable instincts will throw a monkey wrench into the deferred-prosecution agreement he reached with prosecutors over his abuse of OxyContin and other painkillers from 1998 to 2002 . Under the agreement the admitted prescription-drug addict must refrain from violation of any law.

If prosecutors conclude the radio shouter's Viagra possession to be a crime, he could face felony doctor-shopping charges again.


Rush Limbaugh: A Stand Up Guy

"The Dominican Republic is one of the biggest sex tourism destinations in the world, thanks in part to Internet sites that extol the country as a "single man's paradise," according to an article by Julia Scheeres in Wired.

But that couldn't possibly have anything to do with why Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours at Florida's Palm Beach International Airport Monday after returning from the Dominican Republic with a bottle of Viagra in his luggage that -- oops he did it again -- somehow didn't have his name on the label.

Rush, we know, is a strong believer that "character matters" and that "leadership descends from character."

"[O]ur morality emanates from our Divine Creator, whose laws are not subject to amendment, modification, or rescission by man," Limbaugh wrote in in his 1992 book The Way Things Ought To Be. "Fundamental right and wrong, such as defined in the Ten Commandments ... is not arguable, nor should it be."

That's why we know this highly moral man, this defender of family values and all that is good and holy and right with America would not have broken one of the Ten Commandments by leading an impoverished Dominican prostitute into adultery.


Why Rush Limbaugh Won't Go Soft on Liberals

"Enraging liberals is simply one of the more enjoyable side effects of my wisdom," says Rush Limbaugh.

RSR always knew Rush had a hard on for liberals, now we know why.


Hard Times for Rush Limbaugh

The Associated Press is reporting that Rush Limbaugh was detained at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

Last RSR heard -- in June 2004 -- Rush, who strongly believes in the sanctity of marriage, was divorcing his third wife.

That's why we know the Viagra didn't belong to Rush. Surely he wouldn't be having sex outside the holy bonds of matrimony.



Rep. John Hostettler, a Republican from Indiana, wants to amend two federal laws (42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988) that he says are used by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union "to extort behavior out of individuals."

The Public Expression of Religion Act, taken up recently by a House Judiciary subcommittee, would prohibit damages and attorney fees from being awarded to plaintiffs in First Amendment cases.

Rees Lloyd, a judge advocate for the American Legion, has some examples of frivolous litigation by the ACLU that would be ended by passage of the bill:

"We should not punish government officials for a misstep in this constitutional minefield," says Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the conservative Liberty Counsel.

Missteps? RSR is old, and his memory probably faulty, but the way we remember these cases is not as simple mistakes, but cold and calculating policies adopted with malice aforethought and undertaken with the full knowledge of the consequences.

In Dover, the Thomas More Law Center traveled the country looking for a school board that wanted to be the test case for intelligent design.

Likewise, the Alabama Ten Commandments monument was brought into the state Supreme Court building by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore as a deliberate provocation.

Not only was the monument ordered removed, but Alabama's judicial ethics panel, which included judges, lawyers and non-lawyers, removed Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for defying the order to remove it.

Moore "showed no signs of contrition for his actions," according to the ruling issued by the judiciary panel.

Oh yeah, following their unconstitutional actions, the Dover School Board was voted out of office. Roy Moore got just 36 percent of the vote in the June Republican primary in his race for Alabama governor. There's a public expression on that sort of religion for you.

The Public Expression of Religion Act is nothing more than a naked attempt to institutionalize fundamentalism without giving the public any recourse in the courts.

Monday, June 26, 2006


We Think So

The Bush administration's funding of so-called faith-based initiatives strengthens the religious right by putting tax dollars in the hands of politically active religious fringe groups who are waging a culture war to radically restructure public education and traditional notions of church-state separation in America.

A report on a four-year study of 500 welfare-to-work programs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas published in Christianity Today concludes that 38 percent of the evangelical programs report receiving more than half of their funding from the government, compared to 31 percent for mainline programs.

These groups aren't supposed to use government money to proselytize those they serve, but study author, Stephen V. Monsma, a former political scientist at Pepperdine University and now a research fellow at the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College, says:
If welfare-to-work staff reassure recipients that Jesus loves them, that work is a way to honor God, and that we all have a calling to fulfill in life—is that sectarian instruction? I think not.

Monsma also says, the clients of evangelical programs believe they are more caring than the main line Protestant churches. "They are so Christ-like here," one beneficiary told him.

No word on how caring they are if you happen to be Jewish, Muslim, a non-believer or, God forbid, gay.


The Second Going of Uncommon Descent

Following the Dover decision, intelligent design activist William Dembski abruptly announced he was suspending his blog, Uncommon Descent. A short time later, Dembski did an about face saying he would keep publishing the ID blog with a little help from his friends -- the ID poster child, DaveScot, prominent among them.

Now, DaveScot, has posted a notice that can only mean the end -- of Uncommon Descent -- is near:

"I’m going to be deleting any comments I see with gratuitous references to religion," writes our boy Dave.

Since "Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory," according to Dembski, we can only assume this means that Uncommon Descent will no longer be with us.


Kansas at the Forefront... Really

The Guardian (UK) reports that from Kansas to South Carolina, Republican moderates are turning their backs on the neocons -- RSR would add the religious right -- and defecting to the Democratic Party.

Writing from Topeka, Guardian reporter Paul Harris notes that "as the Democrats enjoy a resurgence, the Republicans are in disarray. [former state Republican chair Mark] Parkinson's defection encouraged other moderates to abandon a party controlled by right-wing religious zealots."

"The defections across the country have been spurred mostly by a reaction to the extremism of the right," writes Harris, who believes the "future, as Kansas predicts it, lies in the middle ground for the first party to stake a claim to it."


What Creationism is Not

In a letter to The Times of London, the Rev. J. D. Wright of Brighton points out that "Creationism is not 'the belief that the universe was created by a supreme being or deity,'" an article of faith for all Christians, "many of whom also accept evolution, and see no conflict between the two."

Rather, creationism is "the belief that God created the world exactly in the way described in Genesis chapter one (strangely, always ignoring the completely different account in chapter two), with all species exactly as they are today, and that therefore evolution cannot have happened, despite all the evidence."


Coulter: Fomenting Civic Stupidity

In an appearance on WITF-TV's "Smart Talk" program last Thursday, Judge John Jones, who ruled the teaching of intelligent design in public schools unconstitutional, told host Nell McCormack he believes Ann Coulter -- who attacks Jones' ruling in her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism -- "foments a kind of civic stupidity... "

Read "Surreal Ordeal" in the York Daily Record. Thanks to RSR reader Catherine for calling it to our attention.


Marketing Problem

Last week, RSR linked to an Op-Ed written by Mark Drapeau, a neuroscientist and geneticist at New York University who believes scientists must engage the public more forcefully on evolution.

Dr. Drapeau wrote a comment to RSR's post that we thought we'd pull out and post here so everyone could read it:

I am happy that my original Op-Ed and its re-post on Red State Rabble has spawned so much discussion. I have one brief point to make.

As a scientist who has studied evolution, of course I have a strong point of view on "the truth". However, I don't think the battle over ID, like the battles over other topics like global change or stem cell research, is a scientific problem -- It's a marketing problem.

While I cheer scientists like Dawkins and Gould for "popularizing" science and won't critique them directly, the reality is that only a small, unique subset of people read those books. They will tend to be intelligent, college-educated, interested in science, and want to read complex books in their spare time.

Honestly, how many people does this describe?

Priests, talk-radio hosts, local newspapers, and billboards reach 10 or 100 fold more people every day than do all of the popular science writers put together.

We cannot worry about the extremes - very pro-science and very anti-science or pro-god - but rather about the "soft middle" - people who might believe more in science if they heard more about it from convincing, interesting, and even entertaining sources. I am certain that more people could name Bill Nye the Science Guy than Richard Dawkins.

We have to realize what that means with regards to reaching the American people.Science needs an attractive, charismatic, highly intelligent, engaging spokesperson who can get on MSNBC or the Today Show and get people into controversial areas of science without being too much of a nerd about it. The question is, why don't we ever see scientists on mainstream tv?

Mark Drapeau

RSR has long thought that we need another Carl Sagan to step forward.

Saturday, June 24, 2006



The Christ Church of Peace in Florida, whose pastor supports gay marriage, is publishing the names and addresses of the 400,000 people there who signed a petition supporting a ban on same-sex marriage.

Unsurprisingly, the anti-gay bigots -- many of whom, presumably, would oppose a right to privacy in such areas as abortion rights and contraception -- see a real need for privacy for themselves:

"I think it's a right of privacy. If you want it on (the Web site) you should put it on, not somebody else, " says one of the petition signers.


Sound Familiar?

Miami Herald: "The Miami-Dade School Board's own attorney specifically warned members earlier this month that a broad move to ban books from district libraries would violate its own rules and numerous legal precedents."

The board bucked that advice last week when it voted to remove a series of children's books from the entire school system, going far beyond the single title that was challenged in one elementary school.

The board's 6-3 vote to remove the books prompted a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union...


Conversion Experience

"Most of us, though, have a critical reality monitoring function so that we are able to distinguish well enough between what is real and what is imagined and our imagination does not have too great an impact on our lives - unless the reality check system breaks down such as after stroke or in cases of schizophrenia," says Dr Paul Burgess who recently published a study demonstrating that in a fifth of cases, people wrongly remembered whether they actually witnessed an event or just imagined it.

To stroke and schizophrenia, RSR would add the life-altering experience commonly associated with a conversion to intelligent design theory.

In most cases, this involves an attorney who took some geology courses in college and later goes through a divorce or other painful personal crisis.

Invariably, in the cases when the attorney in question doesn't buy a Porsche, join the Hair Club for Men, or find a younger girlfriend, this leads to the adoption of some form of born-again Evangelism -- usually under the auspices of a singles group meeting in some church basement.

Eventually, the syndrome leads to the adoption of some form of creationism, quite often intelligent design, and a divorce from reality.

We suspect it's easier to adopt intelligent design than to grapple with the personal failing that led to the crisis in the first place.


O'Connor: The Big Dipper

John Hanna, AP: "A senator who wants to be Kansas' top election official was fined $5,000 Thursday, the second time in less than a year that she has been punished for illegally soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists."

Sen. Kay O'Connor is famous all around the world -- perhaps more famous even than our board of education -- for her opposition to the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

"I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of," she said in 2001. "The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and I think that's sad. I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family."

Perhaps O'Connor should return to the heart of her family and turn all that headache inducing campaign finance stuff over to her husband.

Friday, June 23, 2006


37th Skeptic's Circle

The 37th Skeptics' Circle has been posted at the Autism Diva blog. Why not check it out?


UK: Universities Incorporate Creationism

Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent for The Independent (UK) reports that creationism is being included in the science curricula of a growing number of UK universities.
Leeds University plans to incorporate one or two compulsory lectures on creationism and intelligent design into its second-year course for zoology and genetics undergraduates next Christmas, according to The Times higher education supplement. At Leicester University, academics discuss creationism and intelligent design with third-year genetics undergraduates for about 20 minutes in lectures.

"In both cases," reports Cassidy, "lecturers argue that the controversial theories will be presented as fallacies irreconcilable with scientific evidence. But the fact that these 'alternatives' to evolution have been proposed for formal discussion in lectures at all has sparked concern among British scientists."


RIP Harriet

Harriet, a 176-year-old giant tortoise believed brought back from the Galapagos by Charles Darwin has died in Australia. Harriet lived in Britain for a time before finding her way to the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane. She ended her days at the Australia Zoo.

Harriet was the oldest living animal on the planet according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

One reason, perhaps, that right-wing fundamentalists are so opposed to evolution is that the giant Galapagos tortoise spent more than a century living as a male before her sex was correctly identified. In what must have been the mother of all mid-life crises, Harry became Harriet.


Third District school board candidate Harry McDonald says that the current majority on the Kansas School Board, including his main opponent, incumbent John Bacon, are out of line with traditional Republican values. McDonald cited the Blue Valley books issue, opt-in sex education, and charter schools as examples where Bacon and the current board majority have trampled on local control of public schools.

McDonald said that since deciding to run for state school board he's met with all 21 superintendents in the district's schools, while "John Bacon hasn't managed to meet with one."

While Bacon said last night that "intelligent design was an inference students could draw" from the new science standards, McDonald countered that ID is about the supernatural -- something that science can't observe.

If science is atheistic because it excludes God, as Bacon and the board majority assert, said McDonald, then Spanish and Algebra classes must be atheistic as well.

In answer to a question from moderator Dan Simon of the Olathe News about how the board might extricate itself from culture war battles, McDonald noted that Bacon has expressed no respect for local school officials. Bacon and the current board majority have put personal agendas and ideology ahead of the interests of Kansas school children.


Kansas school board incumbent John Bacon, who has consistently voted with the right-wing majority on the state board, says he believes "there's something out there" and that "science doesn't have all the answers." Bacon appeared at a Republican candidate's forum in Olathe last night sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to defend unpopular board decisions on science standards, the appointments of Bob Corkins and David Awbrey, charter schools, and opt-in sex education.

Bacon says he believes he's done a good job listening to the public, but he was challenged by moderate Republican Harry McDonald who said that all 21 superintendents at schools in District 3 had told him they'd never been contacted by Bacon in the eight years he's served on the board.

Both McDonald and Olipant, Bacon's Republican opponents in the Aug. 1 primary election, charged that the board majority, of which Bacon is a member, has spent too much time embroiled in the hot button issues of the culture wars at the expense of Kansas school children.

Kansas School Board candidate David Oliphant, who describes himself as a Reagan Republican, says the current majority on the board is "selling Kansas students short by watering down the science standards."

At a 3rd District candidate forum in Olathe last night Oliphant said Kansas education is at a crossroads. He believes that the current board is out of control and needs to reigned in. Oliphant cited science standards and the state board's efforts to over-ride local control as the key issues.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Stemming the Tide

William Dembski has published a post on his blog, Uncommon Descent, noting "world’s science academies [are] locking arms and digging in their heels to stem the tide of anti-evolution sentiment issuing from the unruly masses."

As RSR noted this morning (scroll down), 67 national academies of science -- representing millions of scientists -- are calling on parents and teachers to provide facts about evolution.

What of Dembski's veritable "tide of anti-evolution sentiment issuing from the unruly masses"?

Is it reflected in yesterday's Discovery news release that, "Over 600 Scientists Around the World Express Their Doubts About Darwin's Theory"?

Over 600, eh? That particular tidal wave will surely sweep ashore with all the power of a single snowflake falling on the bosom of the Missouri River.

Perhaps Dembski means the tidal wave that swept ID proponents off the Dover School Board last November. Maybe he's looking back in time to 1999 when creationists and ID activists on the Kansas School Board were sucked under by an electorate enraged at their attempts to write religion into the science curriculum.

Then again, it's possible he's had a premonition about the outcome of the 2006 Kansas School Board election.


Episcopalians Affirm Evolution

Delegates to the 75th Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Columbus, Ohio have passed legislation affirming "the theory of evolution provides a fruitful and unifying scientific explanation for the emergence of life on earth, that many theological interpretations of origins can readily embrace an evolutionary outlook, and that an acceptance of evolution is entirely compatible with an authentic and living Christian faith."

The Convention further resolved to "strongly encourage state legislatures and state and local boards of education to establish standards for science education based on the best available scientific knowledge as accepted by a consensus of the scientific community; and be it further Resolved, That Episcopal dioceses and congregations seek the assistance of scientists and science educators in understanding what constitutes reliable scientific knowledge."

The Church position, while affirming that "God is Creator," embraces what has been called theistic evolution in opposition to those who argue that a literal interpretation of Genesis rules out evolution. Likewise, the Episcopalian position differs from that taken by ID activists who also argue against common descent.

While Kansas State Board of Education Chair Steve Abrams may believe that people must choose between evolution and the bible, the Episcopalian Church resolution demonstrate that for many Christians they are completely compatible.

Read the Episcopalian's explanation for their resolution here.



Red State Rabble has been in operation for about a year-and-a-half. In that time, we've had nearly 380,000 hits, and we've only had to ban one person from the comments section.

Yesterday, we banned three IP addresses from RSR.

Although we've found them personally repulsive, in recent weeks we've been tolerant of comments from self-proclaimed bible-believing Christians that border on antisemitic and anti-Catholic, as well as a few that were downright racist and homophobic. In each instance, we swallowed hard and allowed the comments to remain for two reasons:

Over the past couple of days, a small number of the these creationist cretins have become more abusive. I have taken action to ban these individuals because:

RSR finds it highly ironic that the creationists -- who claim to be defending traditional moral values against Darwinist amorality -- are invariably the ones who resort to vulgar language. RSR is not a prude. We don't think there are good and bad words, but calling other readers who comment here "pricks" (as one of those banned yesterday has done) is an abuse of RSR's hospitality that we will not tolerate.

We will not ban anyone for using crude language as long as the words used add something of value to the comment. We are thinking here of the difference between the erotic and the merely pornographic. Wit is always appreciated, but we think, in general, it's beyond the meager abilities of the bible-thumpers. We strongly advise them to avoid attempting wit at all costs.

Likewise, we will not ban anyone who merely expresses disagreement. RSR regularly gets comments we don't happen to agree with. Those who sincerely want to discuss the ideas presented here, or even to register their disagreement are welcome as long as its done in a civil manner.

Even those who are less than civil will be tolerated if they make an effort to provide evidence for their assertions or attempt to construct a logical argument.

Tolerance is RSR's watchword. We want everyone, no matter where they stand on the issues, to feel welcome here.

That being said, we will not tolerate abusive behavior against this blog or those who wish to take part in the discussion here. Those who are unhappy about this policy are welcome to exercise their right to free speech by starting their own blog.


ID's All Natural Male Enhancement

In the post below, RSR reports on a declaration by 67 national academies of science -- representing millions of scientists -- calling on parents and teachers to provide facts about evolution.

But, what about scientists who doubt Darwin?

Arrayed against those millions of scientists from around the world are a veritable petri dish of "over 600 doctoral scientists from all around the world have now signed a statement publicly expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of Darwinian evolution," according to a news release issued yesterday by the Discovery Institute.

Of course, most of Discovery's scientists -- if the past is any guide -- will turn out to be mostly theologians or attorneys who once took a geology course.

As we noted yesterday, Casey Luskin, on the strength of a BA and MA in geology feels fully qualified to describe himself as a scientist. Perhaps we'll find his name is on the list, as well.

RSR would be willing to wager that a determined researcher could find many times more than 600 people in the world who would be willing to put on a lab coat, describe themselves as scientists, and sign a statement proclaiming that one or another abdominal exercise device will give you six-pack abs, that eating Big Macs while taking this or that weight-loss pill will trim your waistline, or that those all natural male-enhancement pills really work.

We even suspect a certain overlap between Discovery's list and the others.


Concealed, Denied, Confused

Sixty-seven national academies of science, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Britain's Royal Society and the Royal Society of Canada issued a declaration yesterday calling on parents and teachers to provide facts about evolution.
In various parts of the world, the declaration says, within science courses taught in certain public systems of education, scientific evidence, data and testable theories about the origins and evolution of life on Earth are being concealed, denied or confused with theories not testable by science," the declaration said.

"We urge decision-makers, teachers and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and to foster an understanding of the science of nature.

Read more here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Casey Luskin: Attorney-Scientist

We've tried to be kinder to Casey Luskin, lately. We really, really have. We'd been writing regular pieces about Luskin's illogical posts over at the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog, until it occurred to us that making sport of him was a bit unkind.

In the battle of wits over intelligent design, Luskin enters the fray an unarmed man. In that respect, he's ID's one-legged man in the evolution butt kicking contest.

After a time we found ourselves a bit uncomfortable making sport of someone so obviously out of his depth, and resolved to step away from the table.

However, we regret to report, RSR's decision to restrain ourselves from having a cheap laugh at Luskin's expense has now been pushed past the breaking point.

Yesterday, Luskin posted a letter of complaint sent to the New England Journal of Medicine about an article on the Dover intelligent design ruling, "Intelligent Judging — Evolution in the Classroom and the Courtroom," by George J. Annas.

In the letter, Luskin identifies himself as "an attorney and scientist."

All available evidence suggests he is neither.

We regret to report that NEJM proved itself more charitable than RSR. It declined to embarrass Luskin by publishing the young attorney-scientist's letter.

RSR is going to try to do better, but we're not aking any promises.


Top Shelf

Bruce Skaug, a library board trustee, wants to ban The Joy of Gay Sex from the Nampa (Idaho) public library shelves. In fact, Skaug, who clearly lives in his own private Idaho,
says he'd rather have his nine-year-old take up smoking than see the pictures in the book.

Other trustees voted not to remove the book, but to place it alongside other books with sexual themes on top shelves.


Dover Superintendent Out

On Moday, the Dover Area School Board voted to open the jobs of Superintendent Richard Nilsen and Assistant Superintendent Michael Baksa to other applicants. Both administrator's contracts expire next summer.

Both Nilsen and Baksa have been allowed to reapply for their jobs, but Nilsen said after the board meeting that he is looking for another job and could leave before his contract expires.

Testimony in the Dover intelligent design trial indicates that Nilsen suggested using the ID text Of Pandas and People as a reference book in biology classes there.


Show Up!

Mark Drapeau, a neuroscientist and geneticist at New York University thinks scientist must engage the public on evolution. To do that, he believes, the scientific community must overcome its aversion to politics and the media.

Drapeau cites as an example the comments of Kathleen K. Smith, a Professor of Biology at Duke University, and the new Director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

When Smith was asked how the “intelligent design challenge” should be met, she responded that intelligent design (ID) was not a viewpoint based on merits or principles, and that, “…my experience is that the ID discussion is carried out using political and courtroom tactics rather than intellectual tactics – the sort of thing you see on the evening news…That’s not a level at which you can have an intellectual discussion.”

Drapeau argues that given the general lack of engagement by evolutionary biologists with the average citizen, they should not be surprised that a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center found that only 26% of Americans believed that life on Earth has evolved over time by means of natural selection.

Are scientists satisfied with this, or resigned to discussing ideas amongst themselves in relative isolation? asks Drapeau.

"The world," he notes, "is run by those who show up."


Deadline Passes for Nevada ID Initiative

The Tuesday deadline for turning in signatures has now passed for supporters of the Nevada "Truth in Science" initiative. As we reported last week, intelligent design activists dropped efforts to qualify the initiative for the ballot some time ago.

According to KLASTV, Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown, the driving force behind the initiative, said he did not think his "Truth in Science" proposal would be passed by voters even if it were on the ballot.

The ID measure, would have required teachers to instruct students that there are questions about evolution, was viewed by opponents as an opening to teach intelligent design.

Guess that groundswell of public support for ID just wasn't there.


Olathe Candidate Forum

The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a forum for Republican candidates for Kansas School Board from 6-7:00 pm on Thursday, June 22 at the Olathe City Hall, 100 E. Santa Fe, in downtown Olathe.

The forum is being taped for broadcast on Comcast Chanel 7 at a later date.

Incumbent right-winger John Bacon faces a challenge from moderate Republican Harry McDonald and Republican David Oliphant. McDonald, a retired science teacher has been endorsed by the MAINstream Coalition. He has pledged to return sanity to the state board.

Don Weiss, a moderate Democrat, has no challenger in the Aug. 1 primary election.

If you plan to attend the session, you're asked to arrive 15 minutes early.


Laugh to Keep from Crying

Video games. Evolution. Humor. Check it out here. Thanks, RH.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Role Play

"Brad Patzer, Neodesha, left little doubt that he would step into the ultra-conservative Republican role his mother-in-law, Iris VanMeter, filled the past four years on the board. Jana Shaver, Independence, was every bit the moderate Republican her supporters claim. Dr. Kent Runyan, Pittsburg, was easily distinguishable as a middle-of-the-road Democrat."

-- From a report by Bob Johnson in The Iola Register.


Radical Rascals

Laura Scott writes, in a commentary published in The Kansas City Star, that "Kansas voters who are looking for leadership in getting the state out of this embarrassment may have found a beacon" in the Kansas Alliance for Education.

According to Scott, Betsy Hineman, a leader of the KAE, says many in the alliance consider themselves conservative, including her. But the six religious conservatives who dominate the 10-member state board are “radicals,” she says.

And the six “radicals” have gone too far, the alliance believes, in devaluing evolution in the state’s science standards, pushing to inject religion into public education, making it tougher for young people to get sex education, and hiring a commissioner of education whose track record is not kind to public schools. That commissioner, Bob Corkins, has expressed interest in charter schools and vouchers that would finance private education with public tax dollars.

Here's a link to the Kansas Alliance for Education website.


National Council of Churches Issue Statement on Evolution

The National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy has issued a statement on "Science, Religion, and the Teaching of Evolution in Public School Science Classes."

The statement cites a number of religious thinkers on the relationship between science and religion, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who writes that Genesis is "much more like poetry than prose, replete with religious and not scientific truths, conveying profound truths about us, about God, and about the universe we inhabit."

"Critical thinking," says Marcus Borg, who is also quoted in the statement "leads to an understanding of why the details of Genesis are as they are and also makes clear that their truth is not to be understood in literal, factual terms... "

"Often today we hear about the teaching of evolution in public schools framed as though it
were a debate between people of faith and people of no faith," says the National Council of Churches statement. "This short resource seeks to assist people of faith who experience no conflict between science and their faith and who embrace science as one way of appreciating the beauty and complexity of God’s creation."

RSR readers can find the whole statement here.


Board Candidates Debate

Fellow Kansas blogger Josh Rosenau, whose Thoughts from Kansas is based in Lawrence, has posted a well-written and very thoughtful report written by Joe Myers on a candidate's meeting featuring moderate Republican Jana Shaver, moderate Democrat Kent Runyan, and Neanderthal Brad Patzer in Iola last Saturday.

Here are a couple of Joe's observations before we send you over to TfK to read the whole thing:

There's more, much more. A must read...


Kline Runs Away From His Record

Attorney General Phill "Big Brother" Kline -- who, not long ago, demanded access to the patient records of 90 Kansas women and girls who received abortions -- has apparently decided not to run on his record, according to Scott Rothschild of The Lawrence Journal-World.

As he campaigns across for re-election the usually voluble Kline has remained uncharacteristically silent about his epic legal battle to obtain the private medical records of women who've had abortions in the state.

Unfortunately for Kline, he has opponent in the election.

Johnson County District Atty. Paul Morrison, a Democrat, isn’t a bit shy about reminding voters of Kline's needless prying.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Cervical Cancer: Now That'll Teach 'Em a Lesson

Let's say you came up with a vaccine that was 100 percent effective against the cause of a certain form of cancer -- let's say the most common viruses that cause cervical cancer, a disease that kills 4000 women a year. That would be a good thing, right?

Well, not so fast.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council is dead set against the vaccine. “Our concern,” he says, “is that this vaccine will be marketed to a segment of the population that should be getting a message about abstinence. It sends the wrong message.”

Hal Wallis, the head of another abstinence obsessed group, the Physicians Consortium, says, “If you don’t want to suffer these diseases, you need to abstain, and when you find a partner, stick with that partner.”

And that's not all.

“I personally object to vaccinating children against a disease that is 100% preventable with proper sexual behavior," says Leslee Unruh of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse.

Yes, our friends on the nut-cake religious right would rather see thousands of women die an agonizing death each year than administer a simple vaccine proven to prevent the disease. If you use the vaccine, you might just have sex, and as we all know, having sex is a much worse fate than death.

Shouldn't we outlaw the Pap Test which has reduced deaths from cervical cancer by 74 percent since 1955, as well?

Come to think of it though, why stop there? We're all sinners, aren't we? Adam and Eve's original sin got us humans thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Until then there was no death or disease.

Why not stop all medical treatments for all diseases. After all, medicine is nothing more than a human attempt to thwart God's will.

Isn't it?

Read the whole sordid story by Gene Gerard at Truthdig.

RSR would have a hard time getting behind M. T. Liggett, a cranky conservative and sculptor of roadside art from Mullinville who is running for Kansas School Board in the 7th District, but, we have to admit, he's put his finger on something here.

Thanks to reader DR for passing this photo along.


The Golden Rule

RSR has long pointed out that not all Christians are intolerant bigots. Most Christians we know follow the injunction to treat their neighbors as they wish to be treated themselves.

Ron Knox, writing in the Lawrence Journal-World, reports on a visit to Lawrence by members of Crosswalk, a group that "greets those marginalized by conservative Christianity with open arms instead of closed doors."

Read more here.


His Own Good Pleasure

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va. caters almost exclusively to home-schoolers.

According to Michael Gartland of The Charleston Post and Courier, roughly 85 percent of the student body is made up of home-schoolers.

One of the big attractions at Patrick Henry, which teaches that "God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them for His own good pleasure," is that it teaches creationism. Patrick Henry's mission statement declares:
Any biology, Bible or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God's creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six twenty-four hour days. All faculty for such courses will be chosen on the basis of their personal adherence to this view.
Jennifer Gruenke, who teaches "core courses" in biology at Patrick Henry, notes that many home-schoolers lag in science and math.

Oddly, that doesn't stop a surprisingly large percentage of the graduates from going on to prestigious internships in the White House and Congress.

Perhaps that explains why the Bush administration thinks the budget deficit -- the rather unsurprising result of repeated tax cuts for the rich combined with dramatic increases in government spending -- is no big deal.



Florida Citizens for Science is brainstorming ideas about how to respond to Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity who are sponsoring a "Darwin or Design?" meeting featuring Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome on Sept. 29th.

Why not wander over to FCS and join the fun. If you're trying to develop a list of doctors to avoid, these particular physicians and surgeons, it seems to RSR, might just be the logical place to begin.


Exit Strategy

E,. Ray Moore, a national leader of home schooling advocates, pushed at this year's Southern Baptist Convention, held last week in Greensboro, N.C., for an exit strategy from the public school system, according to Michael Gartland of The Charleston Post and Courier. The resolution failed, but a motion calling for a study on Baptist children's issues passed.
To encourage people to leave the schools, Moore started Exodus Mandate in 1998. In the time since its founding, he has tried to reframe the debate on whether Christians should allow their children to go to public school.

"The Christian community will never defeat a postmodernist, humanist culture with most of its children in postmodernist, humanist schools," he says. "You can't put them in a pagan school and be faithful to your Christianity at that point."

Moore predicts the public school system will collapse within the next decade, writes Gartland.

Right after the rapture.


Helping Science Education

Our old friend Afarensis ( along with others at the ScienceBlogs juggernaut) is helping to raise money to contribute to worthy school projects in science classrooms that need financial assistance. Why not pay him a visit -- and better yet -- lend a hand.


Voter Revolt

We're not really sure where David Oliphant, a Republican running for Kansas Board of Education in District 3, stands on the issues -- he wasn't endorsed by MAINPAC which is supporting moderate candidates who support strong science education -- but one salient fact hasn't escaped his notice:

The Kansas City Star reports that with "a month still to go before the August primary, candidates say they’re surprised at the public’s awareness of the races and their issues. First among those issues is evolution."

“When I tell someone I’m running for state board, it’s inevitably question No. 1 or 2,” said Oliphant. “People are paying attention. I think it’s going to be a voter revolt.”

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The Rule of Law

"Because I was a Republican judge appointed by a Republican president, I was supposed to throw one for the home team," says Judge John Jones who ruled that teaching intelligent design in science classes is unconstitutional. "What was lost was the role of precedent and the rule of law. My job was to find the facts and apply the law - nothing more, nothing less."


Higher Ground

Rob Hood, you know him, the scientist with an associates degree in electronics, explains why if man and dinosaurs existed at the exact same time, their bones aren't found in the same rock strata:
This is a very good question, but it also has a very good answer according to a top creation researcher Bodie Hodge, a staff member, and educated speaker/researcher for Ken Ham's Answers In Genesis group.

He claims that during the flood of Noah, humans would have fled to higher ground like mountains. Perhaps huge dinosaurs couldn't climb mountains? Once the flood waters came, it buried plant life and animal life on the lower elevations and fossilized them first. Human bones would be the last to be buried by the flood waters since they were at a higher elevation. If you look at fossil records, there may very well be much truth in this theory.

RSR, being the skeptical type, would like to know why the great marine reptiles whose home was the sea, such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, and flying reptiles, such as pterosaurs, which presumably could fly to the mountain tops quicker than humans, are not found in the same rock strata -- or in higher rock strata -- than our fossil human ancestors.


The Reception's Fine

They speak in tongues, listen to rock 'n' roll or -- gasp -- even rap religious music. Standing and swaying to the beat, arms out, palms up, their spirit antennae invite the Holy Ghost to take hold.

They are students at the unaccredited Pentacostalist Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas where courses such as literature, history and chemistry aren't in the curriculum.

Rest assured, a campus ''creation science'' museum supporting the Genesis account and rejecting evolution is under construction, according to Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News.

''Things come out of me,'' says Meredith Henkle, of Garden City, Kan., describing her experience with speaking in tongues. ``I don't know where they come from. I just know they come from God. . . . I've never been to a place where the atmosphere was so impregnated with the spirit of God.''

Friday, June 16, 2006


Republicans Vote Against NOAA Whistle-blower Protection

Phil Plait, who publishes the very good Bad Astronomy blog, is posting about Republicans in the House Science Committee voting down an amendment to a bill about the Nation Oceanic & Atmospeheric Administration which would protect whistle-blowers at NOAA if they tried to report suppression or distortion of science.

With 30 members voting, it went 17-13 straight down party lines. Rep. Boehlert, head of the committee -- with whom I have agreed on science issues in the past -- has made some excuses for this, but I keep looking back at the division in the vote.

Check out Phil's blog for more on this important issue.


Road Trip

Red State Rabble is traveling today. The posts are going to be few and far between. See you tomorrow...

Thursday, June 15, 2006


ID Quacks

According to Kenneth Chang of the New York Times, a fossil bird, Gansus yumenensis, many are calling a missing link in bird evolution, "looked like a duck. It swam like a duck. It is not known if it quacked like a duck."

RSR's question is this, what does this mean for ID "theorist" Michael Behe who famously wrote, that "in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life.”

“... if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck," wrote Behe in a New York Times Op-Ed, "then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck.”

Looks like Behe's duck turns out to be yet more convincing non-design evidence. Still, we're sure that no matter how much the evidence piles up, Behe will keep quacking about intelligent design.


The Limits of Inquiry

AP: Physicist Stephen Hawking says Pope John Paul II tried to discourage him and other scientists attending a cosmology conference at the Vatican from trying to figure out how the universe began, according to Min Lee of the Associated Press.

Hawking said the pope told the scientists, "It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.''

Hawking joked he was lucky the pope didn't realize he had already presented a paper at the gathering suggesting how the universe was created. "I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo,'' he said.


Another Day, Another "Missing" Link

"Dozens of fossils of an ancient loon-like creature that some say is the missing link in bird evolution have been discovered in northwest China," reports Randolph E. Schmid of AP.
The remains of 40 of the nearly modern amphibious birds, so well-preserved that some even have their feathers, were found in Gansu province, researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science. Previously only a single leg of the creature, known as Gansus yumenensis, had been found...

"Most of the ancestors of birds from the age of dinosaurs are members of groups that died out and left no modern descendants. But Gansus led to modern birds, so it's a link between primitive birds and those we see today," Matt Lamanna, a co-leader of the research team, told AP.
As this discovery, coming so quickly on the heels of other recent discoveries demonstrates, it isn't so much that the links are missing, as that they are out there waiting to be found.

They will never be found by people who have their nose stuck in a Bible at the expense of looking at the natural world. Young scientists, inspired by these and other discoveries yet to be made, will find these links to our natural history by going out into the field and by conducting research.

That is what makes science exciting, and that's why it draws so many of the best young minds to it.


Mothers for Morality

Justin Kendall of The Pitch, Kansas City's alternative newsweekly, has a good story on a new tactic employed by those who would censor books on the reading list in the Blue Valley School District.

They come to board meetings to read the parts that RSR used to mark -- so we could find them again -- by folding down a corner of the page.

Heidi Harper, writes Kendall, "finds objectionable passages and recites them with inflection, with the zeal of someone who was an actor in high school."

The vicarious thrill must be irresistible for tightly wound fundamentalists such as Harper. She not only gets to wallow in the prurience, but she also gets to do her "their holier than thou" act in front of a room full of people.

The best part, is that she doesn't have to read the rest of the book, which might call into question the blighted narrowness of the fundamentalist vision.

It's win-win as they say in the advice book biz.

When RSR was getting his master's in English, we used to bemoan the fact that there were so few black authors in the cannon.

More black authors are now being read in high school and college literature courses and that, apparently, troubles the mothers for morality who want these books off the shelves. An inordinately high percentage of the books they oppose are by black or Hispanic authors.

Toni Morrison's Beloved -- recently named the best work of American fiction published in the past quarter century by a panel of writers chosen by the The New York Times Book Review, has been a particular target of the would be censors.

The Blue Valley book policy includes periodic reviews of books on the reading list by groups of teachers, administrators, students, and parents. The opposition continues even though the books have been approved time and again. Even though there's an opt out policy. Even though most of these books are on the reading list for advanced placement classes -- in other words college level courses.

It's just another example of how the religious right demands the right to control every aspect of our lives -- even what we can and can't read.


Think Tank Bias

An annual survey of think tank citations in the mainstream media by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting found that the "greatest increase in exposure belonged to the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on evolution."

The FAIR study points out that the think tanks the media turn to for “expert” sources are rarely described politically when they are quoted. Despite their biases think tank sources often appear as neutral observers of the news.

FAIR reports that the latest survey of think tank citations—which is based on appearances in major newspapers and TV and radio transcripts that appear in the Nexis database—found that 40 percent of such citations in 2005 were to conservative or center-right groups, 47 percent were to centrist groups and only 13 percent were to center-left or progressive groups.


Butterfly Evolution Recreated in Lab

British and American researchers have announced that they've conducted a laboratory experiment that recreated a species of butterfly. They believe the experiment may have captured the real evolutionary steps leading to the formation of a new breed of animal -- the brightly coloured Heliconius heurippa, a wild species from South America.


Martin Sends a Message

The Kansas State Board of Education sent a message yesterday.

“It is the Christian message, after all," said right-wing fundamentalist board member Kathy Martin, "of what we want young people to do.”

A new board policy -- Martin's message -- is that school districts must teach “abstinence until marriage.”

However, Martin's initial proposal has been toned down. The new policy contains no penalties for school districts that fail to comply. And, there's no prohibition about providing information about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

Parents who don't share the biblical literalist faith of the board majority -- Catholics, Jews, Mainstream Protestants, Muslims, free thinkers -- may have thought that by sending their children to public schools they would control the religious education of their own children. Apparently, they were wrong.

The state board has made clear in any number of ways that they intend to run the public school system in Kansas as a religious institution with born-again Christianity as the official state religion.

Martin isn't up for election this year, but perhaps the voters of Kansas will send her fellow members of the fundamentalist majority on the state school board -- three of whom are seeking re-election -- a message of a different sort come election day.

Retaining the seat now held by moderate Janet Waugh and winning just two other races will give moderates a majority on the state school board. This would allow Kansas to get back to the business of delivering quality education instead of using our children as foot soldiers in the culture wars.


Awbrey Resigns

Kansas Department of Education spokesman, David Awbrey has resigned.

At a Kansas City Press Club forum last month, Awbrey ignited controversy when he said supporting evolution is metaphysical speculation.

“Anyone see the origin?” Awbrey asked. “Anyone see the Big Bang? Anyone see the dinosaurs? These are metaphysical speculations.”

Awbrey, who admits that he's not a public relations professional, was hired -- like Education Commissioner Bob Corkins -- for his right-wing political connections rather than his expertise.

Awbrey's public relations gaffes and his short six-month tenure can be expected to play a role in the upcoming school board election because it calls further attention to board appointments that place a higher value on right-wing political connections than education, training, and professional experience.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Awbrey will return to Missouri to teach middle school social studies.

While RSR feels a great deal of sympathy for Missouri middle school students, we nevertheless feel that Awbrey's resignation is an important first step in taking back Kansas education from the right-wing culture warriors who've hijacked it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Daniel in the Lion's Den -- A New Kansas Blog

RSR readers may want to check out a new Kansas blog, Defending Science, Scientists and Nonscientists. The blogger attends creationism and ID meetings, politely attempts to correct the misrepresentations of science and evolution in the presentations, and then blogs the results.

Right now, Defending Science, Scientists and Nonscientists, has a notice up about a June 15 appearance by creationist Bill Lucas, who is planning to speak about evidence for the Biblical flood. The meeting, "Creation and Evolution," is sponsored by Christians for Origins and Religious Research.

Readers can also find a report on a June 1 CORR meeting that misrepresented textbook presentations of Haeckel's embryos among a number of other interesting posts.

Hat tip to Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education for calling it to our attention.


Nice Doggy

RSR can't wait to see Ann Coulter go up against George Carlin on "The Tonight Show" hosted by Jay Leno. Carlin's laid back personality and quick wit should be the perfect foil for Coulter's pit bull personae.

It's tonight on "Tonight."


Dembski, Coulter, ID Hookup

William Dembski writes that he can't help but feel Ann Coulter's new diatribe, Godless, which includes a couple of chapters promoting intelligent design "will propel our issues in the public consciousness like nothing to date."

RSR can't help but believe that Coulter's book will bring home to the public just what intelligent design really is -- a right-wing fantasy. It makes mainstream Christians, Jews, and Muslims, among others, into atheists. It denigrates the faith moderate Republicans and Democrats. It declares that free thinkers, skeptics, agnostics, and atheists aren't really citizens.

Coulter's book has infuriated large sections of the public by saying of widows of 9/11 victims: “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

Their crime in Coulter's eyes? These women demanded accountability from the Bush Administration for its actions -- and inaction -- after their husbands died in the World Trade Center.

Will the people of the Gulf Coast who lost their homes and lives in Katrina because of the failures of Bush and Michael "Good Job Brownie" Brown be Coulter's next victims?

Godless makes explicit the fact that intelligent design is, at base, nothing more than a right-wing political movement that has nothing at all to do with science, and everything to do with hatred and intolerance.

Having a modern day Eva Braun on your side can't be good news.


Creationist Flames Out in South Carolina

BigDumbChimp -- a great blog, by the way -- reports that far right creationist Henry Jordan lost his bid to become Lt. Governor of South Carolina.

Could this be yet another victory for Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute?

BigDumbChimp provides lots of juicy quotes from Henry "Love Thy Neighbor" Jordan of the type we know RSR readers are so fond of ("Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims,") why not check it out?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Discovery's Big Dreams

Updated: The AP reported yesterday that the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved high school biology standards "that do not require students to critically analyze the theory of evolution."

This morning, as noted by the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog, AP updated the story with a revised lead that reads, "The state Education Oversight Committee approved high school biology standards Monday that require students to "critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

As readers might imagine, DI is crowing about the revised story. But the truth is, there's nothing to crow about.

The change in the AP's lead reflects the fact that the words "critical analysis" can indeed be found in the standards. However, AP goes on to report something that Discovery does not:
"Scientific inquiry is taught at every grade level and in every discipline," Education Department spokesman Jim Foster said. "It does not require students to study alternatives to evolution that are decidedly out of the mainstream."

As Foster says, the new standards will not change the way science is taught in South Carolina. The wording in the standards is simply a face-saving device -- a way for the right-wingers on the legislature's Education Oversight Committee to walk away with something.

But that, apparently, is enough for the Discovery Institute to claim victory:
"I cannot see this as anything other than a victory," said Casey Luskin, a spokesman for Discovery Institute, a Seattle, Wash.-based think tank that encourages critical analysis of evolution. "Students will now learn the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution."
Red State Rabble has a question for Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute: If you're going to dream, why not dream big? Why wish for Mad Dog 20/20 when you could just as easily wish for champagne?

If South Carolina truly represents the victory for intelligent design you say it does, why declare victory in just one state? Get some gumption! Pull on your big boy tighty whities and declare victory in all 50 states?

After all, what's stopping you? The evidence that you won a victory in South Carolina is exactly the same as the evidence that you won everywhere -- nonexistant. In fact, in that respect it's remarkably similar to the evidence for intelligent design.

Reality-based readers can get more background on how the impasse over science standards between the State Board of Education and the legislature's Education Oversight Committee was resolved from the National Center for Science Education.


Evolution in Everyday Life

"We use evolutionary biology and evolutionary theory in artificially selecting upon domesticated animals and domesticated plants for livestock and crops," says University of Michigan professor David Mindell the author of The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life.

"It's integrated into health care to a large degree,'' Mindell says. "We know resistance to certain drugs will evolve pretty quickly over time if certain practices aren't followed. All the things that we're seeing there about development of resistance they make great sense in the context of evolutionary biology and they don't make any sense in any other context.''


Lost in Kansas

"Political observers say the fracture within the Kansas GOP may foreshadow the future for the national party," according to Nicholas Riccardi, a staff writer for The Los Angeles Times. "The division between moderates and social conservatives is expected to define the contest for the party's 2008 presidential nomination."
Kansas has been at the forefront of the culture wars that helped the Republican Party gain national dominance this decade. Twice in the last seven years, its Board of Education voted to teach alternatives to evolution in public schools. Voters in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a ban on gay marriage. The state's attorney general last year subpoenaed medical records of abortion patients.
"A lot of people in Kansas are feeling lost right now," Mark Parkinson, a former state Republican chairman who served six years as a Republican state legislator. "I decided I'd rather spend time building great universities than wondering if Charles Darwin was right."

Parkinson recently switched parties to run for Lt. Gov. with popular Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.


Salina Journal Calls for Rejection of Science Standards

Tom Bell, in an editorial in the Salina Journal (sub. req.) follows the lead of Kansas Citizens for Science in urging the Salina school board to reject state science standards written by the right-wing majority that promote creationism and intelligent design:

Local school boards can send the state board a strong message by standing up to meddling.

The Manhattan-Ogden School Board took a bold step in March when members voted to reject the definition of science adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education.

Last week a group of scientists and teachers known as Kansas Citizens for Science sent a letter to the state’s 300 school districts, asking them to do the same.

It is a good idea. The Salina School Board should follow the lead of Manhattan-Ogden and vote to reject these controversial standards.

The state board is controlled by a majority that wants to inject conservative Christian principles into Kansas public schools. Those efforts are wrong and illegal.

This position is not a criticism of people of faith. It is a defense of First Amendment constitutional rights against government establishment of religion.


Oklahoma Braces for Renewed Debate on Creationism

Supporters of strong science education in Oklahoma report that ultra-conservative Lance Cargill, a former Republican Floor Leader, has been named the GOP's House speaker designate.

One house member likely to benefit from Cargill's return to the leadership position is Sally Kern. Kern has been a sponsor of a number of right-wing bills which consumed many hours of floor debate, possibly contributing to the need for a special session to pass the state's budget.

One Kern bill was HB 2107, which would have permitted alternatives to evolution in public school science courses. She also proposed a bill to withhold state funding for libraries that did not segregate sexual or gay themes from areas for children and young adults.

The floor debate on HB 2107 was filmed and released by OETA. One clip showing Kern's uninformed comments on gravity and ignorant statements on evolution by her supporters made it into the blogosphere and was spread widely -- a very big embarrassment to Oklahoma -- but it did provide derisive laughs from many viewers.

Oklahoma supporters of science education expect that chances of defeating creationist bills in Oklahoma for the seventh year in a row are likely to be good only if the Democrats continue to control the State Senate.

However, they now have only a two vote majority. Thus, the upcoming elections in November will be very important for defenders of good science education in Oklahoma public schools.


Donna Viola Clarifies Stand on Science Standards

Red State Rabble has received an e-mail from school board candidate Donna Viola clarifying her position on the science standards issue. Here's what she had to say:
This is Donna Viola, just to set the record straight. There has been a major misunderstanding. I do not believe or never have believed that creationism/intelligent design should be taught in the public classroom. MAINPAC has contacted me and will be taking another look my interview. Thank you, Donna

Monday, June 12, 2006


Nevada ID Initiative Halted

According to the Las Vegas Sun, backers of the "Truth in Science" initiative have dropped efforts to qualify for the ballot.

Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown says he doesn't think his proposal would be passed by voters even if it were on the ballot.

The measure, would have required teachers to instruct students that there are questions about evolution. It was widely viewed by opponents as an opening to teach intelligent design.


Spiritual Totalitarianism

"To the Religious Right, the Bible mandates that fundamentalist Christians assert control over society at all levels," writes Rob Boston of Americans United for separation of Church and State. "This viewpoint leads some extremists to embrace what can only be called spiritual totalitarianism."

A document issued by the Coalition on Revival, a group aligned with Chris­tian Reconstructionism, stated bluntly, “We deny that anyone, Jew or Gentile, believer or unbeliever, private person or public official, is exempt from the moral and juridical obligation before God to submit to Christ’s Lordship over every aspect of his life in thought, word and deed.”

Read more of Boston's report on the religious right here.


New Element Discovered

RSR reader DR passed this on to us:

A major research institution (specializing in Intelligent Design) has just announced discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named Bushcronium.

Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311.

These 311 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Bushcronium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Bushcronium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second.

Bushcronium has a normal half-life of multiples of four years but it does not decay. Instead, it undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Bushcronium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, which in turn forms isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates FoxNewsium, an element which radiates orders of magnitude and also generates energy (albeit as incoherent noise), since it has half as many peons, but twice as many morons.

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