Thursday, November 30, 2006


We'll Take Evolution for $1,000, Alex

The evolution of earth's atmosphere... explained.


Ignorance Gap Gets Smaller... Again

In Michigan, Forest Hills high school science teachers will now be required to educate students on the supporting evidence of evolution, according to Advance Newspapers.

This'll really get 'em going at the Thomas More Law Center.


Turkey: Look East Young Man

Will this be Turkey's greatest contribution to science?



Could it be that intelligent design -- like string theory, say -- is just so super sophisticated, ultra-complex, and so hard to grasp that no one gets it?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Good Americans

"We have become such 'good Americans' that we no longer have the moral imagination to picture what it might be like to be in a bureaucratic category that voids our human rights, be it 'enemy combatant' or 'illegal immigrant,'" writes Diane McWhorter in "The N-Word: Unmentionable lessons of the midterm aftermath."

Read it if you dare.


UK: How Genesis crept back into the classroom

Good backgrounder here.


It's All About Evidence

The Blue Coat School in Liverpool plans to show a DVD on intelligent design, which dismisses evolution, to students there.

"Intelligent Design is a religious doctrine that has no place in the science curriculum," says Paul Clein, Liverpool's executive member for education. "It is a variation on Creationism and is not a scientific alternative to Darwinism, it's a pseudo science.

Despite those objections, the DVD is being introduced by chemistry teacher Nick Cowan, who "is well known among staff and pupils for his strong religious beliefs."



Kansas school board member Bill Wagnon of Topeka, who is likely to become the board’s chairman in January, says he hopes a new education commissioner can be named within six months.


Department of Strange Coincidences

When citizens in Dover voted out the school board that demanded intelligent design be taught in public schools there, TV evangelist Pat Robertson told the audience of his 700 Club:

I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city…And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for his help because he might not be there.
Robertson remained silent when voters in Kansas likewise rejected school board members who injected their pet religious theory into the science curriculum here, but we think we know how the right-wing televangelist felt about it anyway.

Now, Michael Behe, an ID activist, Discovery Institute fellow, and expert witness for the losing side at the Dover trial is coming to Kansas. He's scheduled to speak tomorrow at 7:00 pm in the Kansas Union Ballroom in Lawrence on "The Argument for Intelligent Design in Biology" as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities "Difficult Dialogues" series.

And God just doesn't seem to be on his side.

A winter storm warning has been forecast: Periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain this evening transitioning to snow showers overnight. Windy. Cold. Low 17F. Winds N at 20 to 30 mph. The chance of precipitation is 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 2 inches.

Up until now, we've had a warm November in this part of Kansas. Recent temperatures have been near 70F. The day of Behe's talk, the high is predicted to be just 26F.

Dover and Kansas may be damned, but at least here in Kansas it seems hell is freezing over for Michael Behe.


Censorship Defeated at Wisconsin School

Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has been "recommended for continued use within the high school English curriculum" in an advanced English class at Fond du Lac High School in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


UK: Twice Shy?

Reacting to news that dozens of British schools are using creationist materials, including a DVD featuring the cast and crew of Gilligan's Island the Discovery Institute in science classes there, the BBC informs puzzled readers that:
... Intelligent Design's claims to be scientific have been challenged in the media and more importantly in the courts. In Pennsylvania in 2005, a judge ruled that it was unlawful for schools to teach ID as it was an essentially religious belief. While these arguments about evolution are in their infancy in the UK, a Government minister has said that says that Intelligent Design is not included in the national curriculum and should not be taught in schools. The majority of scientists in Britain also support this view.

Having previously bought into the whole notion that the Iraqi people would welcome American and British troops with open arms, the British people may now be excused if they're just a bit more skeptical about this latest American import.


Casey Luskin Proves Newton's Third Law of Motion Wrong

What with a group calling itself "Truth in Science" sending packets of creationist "educational" material to science teachers in the UK featuring Discovery Institute fellows, The Guardian has produced a Q&A on intelliegent design to explain this American import to its readers in the UK. Here's a sample:
Surely intelligent design is another name for creationism?
Intelligent design does share a number of similarities with creationism, and the phrase appears in several examples of creationist literature. they both argue that evolution is unable to account for the vast array of species, and both promote the concept of a designer.

Although The Guardian does note there are some differences between cosmopolitan ID theorists and their rustic cousins in the creation science movment, we fear that statement alone is enough to provoke another who-knows-how-many part reply from Discovery's Casey Luskin.


Discovery's MIAs

The York Daily Record reports that Paramount Pictures recently hired Ron Nyswaner, a Pennsylvania screenwriter, to write a screenplay about the Dover intelligent design trial. Nyswaner's other script credits include "Philadelphia," "Mrs. Soffel" and "The Prince of Pennsylvania."

No word yet on which actors will be cast to play key figures in the trial such as Judge John Jones and plaintiffs' attorney Eric Rothschild, but RSR thinks the film's producers could save money by casting the invisible man to play the parts of William Dembski, Stephen Meyer and John Campbell -- the Discovery Institute expert witnesses who went missing on the eve of the trial.



Advancement of Sound Science Coalition: tobacco-industry-funded lobby group that claimed environmental science is "junk science."

FOREST: the voice and friend of the smoker.

Global Climate Coalition: a group of mainly US businesses opposed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Information Council on the Environment: an organization created by the National Coal Association, Western Fuels Association, and Edison Electrical Institute.

Truth in Science: a UK-based creationist group.

Monday, November 27, 2006


No Animals Were Injured in the Writing of this Post

The Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin is a little tight-lipped just now about an AP story on Kansas science standards.

The article, huffs Casey, wrongly asserts that the standards have a “tilt toward intelligent design.” As if that weren't bad enough, "the article mentions intelligent design 7 times"!

Moreover, John Hanna, the AP reporter in question, completely ignores the fact that the science standards themselves flatly state they “do not include Intelligent Design" and the standards “neither mandate nor prohibit” teaching ID.

"Why," our boy Casey demands to know, "were these quotes left out of this article?"

RSR is unable to channel Hanna's thoughts, but we suspect they were left out because no one takes the disclaimers inserted into the standards by ID activists seriously.

The current Kansas standards -- the one's supported by Luskin's Discovery Institute and John Calvert's ID Network -- may contain some fine print stating they don't include intelligent design, but they also include statements, such as this:

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.

These articles of pseudo-scientific faith -- only lately adopted by ID "theorists" -- have been hiding under the rock of creationism since before the Scopes Trial.

The ingenuous disclaimer fools no one, with the possible exception of the self-deluded Luskin himself. It is merely the "past performance is no guarantee of future results" of the Kansas standards.

Luskin can write anything he wants. He can even write a 20-part essay on the AP story. But there's one thing he can't do, and that's stop the newly elected state board from throwing out the old ID-inspired standards.

That's what the voters of Kansas said they wanted when they went to the polls. And nothing Luskin or Calvert or anyone else says or writes is going to stop them from getting it.


Getting It Right, This Time

An editorial in The Kansas City Star observes, correctly we think, that Bob Corkins' resignation will make the job of restoring expertise to the state education department’s professional staff easier.

"The newly elected Kansas Board of Education should hire a commissioner experienced in — and positive about — public education," says the Star.

Exactly. Red State Rabble has focused primarily on the battle over intelligent design, but the fact is, Corkins and his enablers on the board have a much more fundamental problem -- they're opposed to public education.

As a state, Kansas has to get past the point where it elects opponents of public education to run the state's schools.

It's kind of like allowing Bobby Knight to set game strategy for the Jayhawks.


He Said It, Not Me

"There's a sense that if you criticise Darwin you must be some kind of religious nut case," says Nick Cowan, a creationist supporter of intelligent design information packs sent to schools in the UK by a group calling itself Truth in Science.


Keep the Faith

Does a life of looking at the books of major corporations lead one to believe in a higher power?

Certainly, it requires an act of faith to believe anything you read in a corporate audit report these days.

Perhaps that explains why a survey of 1,471 professors at religious and secular colleges about politics and faith conducted by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University found that science professors were the least religious and accounting professors were the most religious.


Who's Educating Who?

School superintendent Rob Cordes banned What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a novel by Iowa native Peter Hedges. Cordes didn't bother reading the book, but he did skim the juicy parts.

Now students at Carroll High, in Iowa, are protesting censorship of the book. They've actually read it.


This Turkey is Getting Old

Islamic creationism -- a richly funded movement based in predominantly Muslim Turkey which has an influence U.S. creationists could only dream of.



RSR is wondering how fundamentalist opposition to welfare squares with the growing practice of "unschooling" their children. In other words, they don't send them to school and they don't teach them at home either.

... unschoolers bristle the most at the thought of standardized testing.

Ms. Tucker has allowed her son Will, 13, to be tested, but she refuses to look at the scores.“

They’re meaningless to him and me,” Ms. Tucker said. “If you attach a number to your child, your opinion of the child changes, good or bad.”

Surely, those kids will be qualified for just two things when they grow up unschooled. Welfare or an internship at the Discovery Institute. Surely they can't have that many jobs in Discovery's secret research labs.


Made in the USA

Dozens of schools in the UK are using creationist teaching materials condemned by the government as "not appropriate to support the science curriculum," according to a report published in The Guardian this morning.
The teaching pack, which includes two DVDs and a manual, was sent to the head of science at all secondary schools in the country on September 18 by the group Truth in Science. The enclosed feedback postcard was returned by 89 schools. As well as 59 positive responses, 15 were negative or dismissive and 15 said the material was "not suitable".

The DVDs, according to The Guardian, were produced in America and feature figures linked to the Discovery Institute in Seattle

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Darwinian Fundamentalism: An Infantile Disorder

PZ Myers, a biologist who publishes the Pharyngula blog, has taken exception to RSR's support for Ed Brayton (scroll down).

We're pulling his comment out and posting it here because we think this is an important discussion. Here's what PZ has to say:
If this is the way it's going to work, if you're going to go along with Brayton's division into us and them, and his outrageous distortions of our position (we're out to attack and destroy religion by any means possible? Please.) then I will plainly state that I am not on "Ed's team".

I'm also not interested in being on any "team" that treats criticisms of its members as intolerable dissent, and who react to disagreement by announcing that they're going to treat the critics as schismatics. I know which side is hypocritically demanding conformity and purity of the movement, and it ain't us evil atheists.

Have you even noticed the irony of decrying those " who want to divide the movement" while announcing that you've decided there are two teams, and denouncing the other guys?As for literature, drama, the visual arts, etc....only an idiot would think Moran or I are denying the importance of art, and only an idiot would equate superstition with art. That was an appallingly stupid comment.
Dear PZ, you write, "I know which side is hypocritically demanding conformity and purity of the movement, and it ain't us evil atheists."

Sorry, but you don't speak for all atheists. If you'll look up to the header of Red State Rabble you'll notice it says: "A skeptic's dispatches from the flyover zone."

This is not a debate between atheists like yourself and the faithful. It's a debate among non-believers who advocate different strategies. You don't own the atheist franchise.

You accuse us of hypocritically demanding conformity and purity. You're wrong.

We outlined the reasons we disagree with Larry Moran writing that improving science education "requires us (emphasis added) to take a long hard look at the way science education is being eroded by well-meaning theists who don't belong in one of the obvious hard-core Creationist camps. Let's call them Theistic Evolutionists for want of a better term."

We said we're fighting to defend science education and separation of church and state from attack by the religious right. And we observed -- correctly I think -- that Moran's statement saying he wants to take a hard look at the way science education is being eroded by our religious allies in that fight is an indication that he has chosen other goals.

Likewise, your reaction indicates you place your highest priorities elsewhere, as well. When Dawkins spoke here in Kansas a few weeks ago he said quite clearly the battle over evolution is but one skirmish in a larger and far more important war between science and religion. Those scientists and skeptics who see no conflict between faith and science are, in Dawkins’ view, “prepared to compromise the war for the sake of the battle.”

If you are honest PZ -- and I will not accuse you of being a hypocrite as you have accused me -- you will admit that you too are willing to sacrifice the battle over teaching evolution in order to win your larger war against religion.

The difference between us is not what we think about God, miracles, or the after life. On all those issues we are in complete agreement. Our difference is this: I don't believe theistic evolutionists -- however much I might disagree with their religious beliefs -- are eroding science education.

Quite the contrary, here in Kansas I work shoulder to shoulder on a daily basis with believers who are as determined as I that the religious right not be allowed to run education in this state.

Without their participation and leadership we would not have elected the moderate majority on the state school board that will soon delete intelligent design from the state's science curriculum.

By the way, Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins knows the difference between the fundamentalists and the theistic evolutionists. Knowing that we will soon have six theistic evolutionists on the board he has resigned. The board accepted that resignation this afternoon.

Defeating the religious right requires a winning strategy. PZ, as much as I admire your writing and your other important contributions to the movement to defend science, I believe the strategy you advocate will lead us to certain defeat.

Further, I believe the consequences of such a defeat may be greater than any of us now imagine.

That's why I refuse to hand the authoritarians, the book burners, the fanatics, an easy, unearned victory by adopting the strategy you advocate.

I don't take on fights lightly, but when I do, I fight to win. I am determined to do what I can to defeat the religious right in the here and now. And to do that, I'll gladly leave the pie in the sky victory over religious belief to others like yourself.

Your strategy is a loser because it isolates nonbelievers like ourselves. When you say that our religious allies in the fight to defend science education and preserve the separation of church and state are no different than the fundamentalists, you hand the religious right the very weapon they most desire to use against us.

I admire your restraint when you write, "only an idiot would think Moran or I are denying the importance of art, and only an idiot would equate superstition with art. That was an appallingly stupid comment," but I don't think you've thought deeply enough about the way your arguments against faith might be used against art.

I'm sure you don't equate superstition with art -- it's the arguments you put forward that do. Even so, because I'm an appeaser by nature, so I'll resist calling you an idiot.

Art is about myth and metaphor. It is about ambiguity. It is intuitive by nature. It is, in many ways, irrational, but, in its own way it is also about truth.

In your eagerness to attack faith, it seems clear you haven't fully thought through the philosophical implications of your position -- as you have written on Pharyngula, "Scientists are a pragmatic bunch who are more likely to poke something with a stick than wonder if they should poke something with a stick."

That's the sort of hubris the Greeks would have recognized well.


We're on Ed's Team

Red State Rabble urges readers to follow this link to read what we consider an extremely important post by Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars.

In his post, Brayton responds to Larry Moran, a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, who runs a blog called Sandwalk. You can read Moran's side of the story here.

Moran set the intelligent design sector of the blogosphere alight recently by writing -- tongue in cheek he says -- that, "students who reject evolution should be flunked, or not admitted to university in the first place."

As Brayton points out, Moran's claim that he's joking is seriously undermined by his also saying that,
... behind the humor is a serious point. If students entering university have already made up their minds that evolution should be rejected, then that's a serious problem. It's not a question of ignorance. Those students have made an active decision to choose superstition over science. Given a choice of students to admit into university science programs, I would choose the ones who show some understanding of science over those who reject one the fundamental facts of biology.

Moran goes on to say that improving science education "requires us to take a long hard look at the way science education is being eroded by well-meaning theists who don't belong in one of the obvious hard-core Creationist camps. Let's call them Theistic Evolutionists for want of a better term."

As Brayton correctly points out, "there are theistic evolutionists who have done more to improve science education than virtually anyone else in the nation.

Brayton, like Red State Rabble, rejects the notion that belief in God, in and of itself, takes anything away from science education. He goes on to point out, as we did not long ago, that "Ken Miller is a theistic evolutionist. His scientific work is impeccable, as are his efforts in science education.

Brayton says that his goal is to protect science education. Those, like Moran, who want to divide the movement to defend science education -- and in the process hand ultra-right fundamentalists an undeserved victory -- "simply are not on the same team and are not working [toward, RSR] the same goal," says Brayton.

Ed, sign us up on your team. RSR is skeptical down to his bones, but we are proud to work in a united front with theistic evolutionists such as Ken Miller, Keith Miller, Howard Van Till, Glenn Morton, Wes Elsberry, and Rob Pennock to defend science education and the separation of church and state.

Note: RSR urges readers to take a look at the first comment to Brayton's post, because it makes that very important point that many things other than religion also conflict with Moran's great God, Reason: literature, drama, the visual arts, and human relationships to name but a few.


Not Indoctrination

Science and religion incompatible? Not down in the Ozarks at Southwest Baptist University.
"We offer a Christian component that's on equal footing with what's taught in the (public) classroom. It's not an indoctrination," said Gary Gray, dean of the school's college of science and mathematics.

"We don't accept the secular mantra that science can answer everything."

"A couple of students ask me what I think about an issue. I provide evidence to help them and then it's up to them and the Holy Spirit," said Hillary Glauser-Patton, a biology teacher.


Juicy Bits

Up in Ames, Iowa, they've pulled What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a critically acclaimed novel written by Iowa native Peter Hedges from literature classes at Carroll High School.

The KCCI News story includes this sentence, which we suggest should be made part of the template journalists use when writing censorship stories:
Superintendent Rob Cordes admitted that he's never read the book, but after reading certain parts, he felt it wasn't appropriate.

Hint to reporters: Don't bother to rewrite the sentence every time, just leave a blank space and insert the name of the official who's banned the book in question into each new report. Saves time.


Virgin Birth: A Sign of the Times

Over at William Dembski's Uncommon Descent blog right now, they're debating the scientific probability of virgin birth -- the Rev. Dr. DaveScot presiding.

Things happen faster these days than they used to, but it's truly amazing just how quickly intelligent design's long march has brought it back into the fabled realm of creation science. Next, we'll see them talking about flood geology and carbon 14.

Haploid? Diploid? Don't bother them with that pathetic level of detail. They're big picture folks.

Frankly, we missed DaveScot during his brief exile. Good to see him back on the pulpit over at UD. For our money, Sal and Denyse just don't have the same cachet.


Fear and Loathing in La Jolla

Whatever you do, don't miss George Johnson's report (our original post negleted to include this link, sorry) in the New York Times, "A Free-for-All on Science and Religion."

Here's a sample:

By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of “a den of vipers.”

“With a few notable exceptions,” he said, “the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?”

His response to Mr. Harris and Dr. Dawkins was scathing. “I think that you and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side,” he said, “and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Corkins Watch: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Moderate school board member Janet Waugh has told the Lawrence Journal World that it's her understanding that Education Commissioner Bob Corkins "appointments have been canceled and his law degree is down from the wall.”


Don't Let it Hit You in the Back

According to the Lawrence Journal World, the Kansas Board of Education will hold a special meeting Wednesday via telephone conference call. The meeting is being called to have a nonpublic executive session “to discuss nonelected personnel.”

According to the LJW, the meeting is fueling speculation that Education Commissioner Bob Corkins is on his way out the door.


UK: Creationism Has No Place in Science Classrooms

The Christian think tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association (BHA) have welcomed a statement from the British government’s Department for Education and Skills stating that creationism – an ideology which uses discredited readings of scriptural texts to deny fundamental scientific discoveries – can have no legitimate place in UK school science classrooms.

Read more here.


Not a Pretty Picture

The Revealer, a daily review of religion and the press, is one of the great sites on the Internet both for its coverage and insightful writing. The lead story right now, by David Sorrell, is titled "South Park Takes on Richard Dawkins."

After providing a synopsis of the two South Park episodes on Dawkins and his new book, The God Delusion, Sorrell sums up -- accurately we think -- the key criticism South Park seems to be making of Dawkins:
extremist enthusiasm for any belief system -- in this case Dawkins’ vaunted atheism and scientific rationality -- can lead to sectarian group-think, absolutism, and even schismatic violence. Replacing religious dogma with atheistic dogma still leaves us with the problems of dogmatism.
As Sorrell points out, South Park isn't going after Dawkins because of his atheism. They have often satirized religious belief in the past. "Rather, it is the slavish thinking and rigid dogmatism that go into any –ism or orthodoxy that South Park is best at lampooning. Dawkins’ abrasive public demeanor and penchant for rhetorical excess is interpreted in South Park’s blunt satire as just as inflexible and uncompromising as any of the religions it targets. This should be a lesson to Dawkins and fellow-travelers to tone down the noise and antagonism of their message if they are going to be persuasive. Yet it also indicates that, unlike Scientology, Islam, or Catholicism, atheism’s ideas, as opposed to its style, proved off limits for even South Park’s religious critique.
For those non-believers who want to defend themselves and the nation's secular institutions from attack by the religious right, all this should be food for thought.

RSR believes effective defense work begins by dividing your enemies and uniting your friends -- not the other way around. Appearing to adopt the dogmatism of the other side is not a useful tool in this respect.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The March of Bipartisanship

Who's been put in charge of overseeing federally funded family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services?

Why it's Eric Keroack, the medical director of an antiabortion "pregnancy counseling" center that refuses to distribute contraceptives or encourage their use -- even by married couples.

According to the Washington Post, Keroack's organization, called "A Woman's Concern," says it is "persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality, and adverse to human health and happiness." It believes -- despite abundant evidence to the contrary -- that making birth control available, "especially among adolescents, actually increases (rather than decreases) out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion."


The High Price We Pay

Some animals, such as salamanders, easily regenerate lost limbs. Others, like us human beings, lost that ability as our species evolved.

Now, according to ScienceDaily, a research team at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has been able to regenerate a wing in a chick embryo -- a species not known to be able to regrow limbs - suggesting that the potential for such regeneration exists innately in all vertebrates, including humans.

Opposition by the religious right to stem cell research has slowed progress in this country on developing cures for diseases such as Parkinson's and diabetes as well as treatments for those who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Could the religious right's opposition to teaching evolution in our public schools also be delaying scientific and medical research that might lead to treatments that could regenerate missing limbs on amputees?

Such research might be vital for those citizens who've lost limbs in automobile and industrial accidents, or for soldies who've been wounded in Iraq.


Poetic Justice

Barry Minkow is a convicted felon who spent seven years and four months in jail for masterminding a $24-million fraud.

Now that he's out of jail, he's running a business to help uncover major scams, frauds, and schemes designed to separate you from your money.

It's called the Fraud Discovery Institute.

Now, RSR has a little suggestion for who Minkow might expose first...

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Science Above the Fray

Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, spoke on battle between evolution and intelligent design at KU last Thursday as part of the Hall Center "Difficult Dialogues" series. Most unfortunately, RSR wasn't able to attend.

According to the Lawrence Journal World, Scott told the audience that science doesn't really have a dog in that fight. Science’s only concern, she said, is with the empirical observation, testing and recording of the ways of the natural world.
If there is a fight to be waged, she said, it should be between those who believe some nonmaterial force helps shape the world — including intelligent design proponents — and those who philosophize the purity of the natural, observable world.


Traveling Light

“I want to remind you that you don’t need a theory of design to know that is design,” says Dr. Paul Nelson, a Biola professor and ID apologist. “The reality of detecting intelligence doesn’t require a theory. A theory is a nice thing to have, certainly if we are going to apply this to biology, but design inferences are sound and stable even if we don’t have a fully articulated theory.”

The nice thing about ID? Not only don't you need theory, but you really don't need evidence either. Those are aspects of science that intelligent design has decided it can do without, thank you very much.

Infer, conjecture, guess, speculate, suppose, surmise, and opine, those are the building blocks of the inellectual Dogpatch that is CreationScienceLite TM.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Duty Calls

Connie Morris will go ahead with her taxpayer funded travel plans in December even though she'll be leaving the board right after the trip ends because, "In my mind, I felt like I had a responsibility. I had a duty to fulfill."


Kansas: Bastion of Moderation

A New York Times editorial takes note of the changed landscape in Kansas: "It would be remiss to finish the election post-mortems without noting a major shift in the nation’s heartland. Kansas — lately considered the reddest of red states — emerged from the election as a bastion of moderation.

"Just two years after President Bush carried the state by 25 percentage points, Kansas voters rebelled against continued domination of the state’s politics by the sharply conservative state Republican Party. The Democratic Party posted major gains, including some by former Republicans who switched parties.

"... And for us, one of the most satisfying results was the resounding defeat of Attorney General Phill Kline, an anti-abortion zealot who gained national notoriety by misusing his office to further his ideology. He tried to force health care workers to file reports on the sexual activity of teens, and to seize women’s confidential medical records. That gross assault on privacy and legal rights was a major issue in the campaign. The 58-to-42 landslide that elected a former Republican, Paul Morrison, was a victory for moderation and the rule of law."


Natural Selection Can Turn on a Dime

Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime -- within months -- as a population's needs change. In a study of island lizards exposed to a new predator, the scientists found that natural selection dramatically changed direction over a very short time, within a single generation, favoring first longer and then shorter hind legs.

The findings, by Jonathan B. Losos of Harvard University and colleagues, are detailed this week in the journal Science. Losos did much of the work before joining Harvard earlier this year from Washington University in St. Louis.

"Because of its epochal scope, evolutionary biology is often caricatured as incompatible with controlled experimentation," says Losos, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and curator in herpetology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. "Recent work has shown, however, that evolutionary biology can be studied on short time scales and that predictions about it can be tested experimentally. We predicted, and then demonstrated, a reversal in the direction of natural selection acting on limb length in a population of lizards."


God and Man in OC

Are scientists are trying to undermine the public's belief in the existence of God? Can a person simultaneously believe in God and in the findings of science?

Gary Robbins, a reporter for The Orange County Register asked scientists those questions after Richard Dawkins spoke on his new book, The God Delusion, at Caltech recently.

Unsurprisingly, the answers were as varied as the scientists who offered them.

Read what what they had to say here.

For our money, John Olmstead, an emeritus professor of chemistry, Cal State Fullerton says it best:
Looking at modern science, it seems clear that there is an inherent contradiction between evolutionary biology and fundamentalist Christianity. For that matter, there is an inherent contradiction between all aspects of evolution – stellar, terrestrial and biological – and fundamentalist beliefs; but there is no inherent contradiction between belief in a higher being and evolution. Evolution is an elegant mechanism by which the unfathomable complexity of the universe came to be. Anyone has to marvel at this, and those who are religiously inclined will praise God for setting evolution into motion.


Science Triumphs

New Scientist: "It was not just the Democrats who won big in last week's US midterm elections. Science and the environment triumphed too, nearly everywhere."

Thursday, November 16, 2006


RSR's Crystal Ball

With a new moderate majority set to take charge in January, the Lawrence Journal World reports that Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins' future seems uncertain.

On the contrary, RSR believes Corkins' future is quite certain. Unless he resigns before Christmas, he'll be looking for a job come January. Even Corkins' allies like right-wing board member Ken Willard say the chances are “probably not too good” that the new board would keep Corkins.

We must admit, however, despite our certainty about what the future holds for Mr. Corkins, we didn't fully appreciate the man's delicious sense of the absurd.

“I’ve been under the microscope for close to 400 days,” Corkins says. “I don’t know what the future holds.”

More time with the family, Bob. You'll be spending much more time with the family.


Doubly Diabolical

One of the big, unsolved problems in this country is how to provide health care for the uninsured. To its shame, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't provide health care for all its people.

Now that the Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate, some of them, such as Hillary Clinton, have pledged to do something about it.

And just as the right-wing has fraudulently linked evolution to Hitler, some on the right now claim that providing health care to anyone but the rich is nothing more than a diabolical plot to introduce Nazism to the country.

And who, would you guess, is right in the middle of this insane charge? That's right, the Discovery Institute.


Exit Stage Right

The right-wing mafia that's been running the Kansas school board for the past two years won't be running things after January when a new moderate majority is sworn in, but that doesn't mean they can't still do a lot of damage to public education in the time that's left to them.

After staying mostly quiet in the run up to the November 7 election, right-wingers on the board are now back at it. They voted Tuesday to approve a $42,000 grant to to the Kansas Association of Public Charter Schools led by Betty Horton, who the Lawrence Journal World describes as "a controversial advocate for charter schools."

Last September, Horton and some of her family members and associates were awarded grants of $1,995 from the Kansas Department of Education to provide "technical assistance" to organizations wanting to start charter schools.

“I’ve never seen a check being issued without services being rendered,” moderate board member Janet Waugh said after voting against the latest grant.

Right-wingers who voted for the bill include Steve Abrams, John Bacon, Ken Willard, Connie Morris, Iris Van Meter, and Kathy Martin. All presented themselves to the voters as fiscal conservatives who would rein in school spending if elected.

Instead, they've treated the taxpayer's money as if it were their own. In addition to funding right-wing lobbying groups such as the Kansas Association of Public Charter Schools, individual members -- Connie Morris is a prime example -- have submitted expense reports for questionable travel.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Locusts Discovery Institute Descends on Oklahoma

Discovery's John West tells the Baptist Press, “we have a model academic freedom bill that we support that protects the rights of teachers and students to discuss scientific criticisms of evolution.”

The bill has been introduced in Alabama and Oklahoma.

"Last year," says West, "it passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives by an overwhelming [and bipartisan] margin, but the Democrat-controlled Senate denied it a vote.”

The Oklahoma Senate is now going to be tied between Republicans and Democrats, news reports indicate, so West said it’s possible that the academic freedom bill will be reintroduced and get a vote in both chambers.


Election? What Election?

The reaction to the last election by intelligent design activists at the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog and William Dembski's Uncommon Descent have mirrored, in a deliciously amusing way, the reaction by comedian Stephen Colbert.

Election? What election?

The Baptist Press, however, has noticed:
In Ohio and Kansas, the midterm elections brought gains for evolution backers on state boards of education that determine science standards in public school classrooms, which means proponents of Intelligent Design suffered some setbacks.

In her New Yorker piece on the Dover intelligent design trial, Margaret Talbot observed that the difference between those who accept the evidence for evolution and those whose faith compels them to believe in creationism, including variants such as intelligent design, isn't based on political or religious affiliation. Rather, it comes down to who reads the newspapers.

Those who support science read the daily papers. Those who don't, shun them.

Could it be that the silence from Seattle indicates that they haven't yet learned of their defeats in Kansas and Ohio?


The Mother of All Presuppositions

"One of the difficulties, in approaching the issue of a biblical view of origins," write Answers in Genesis apologist Paul Taylor, "is the failure to notice the difference between presupposition and evidence."

Taylor is quite eager to believe an unobservable God presiding over an unlocatable heaven is the author of all things on earth, but he finds it fantastic to believe that a fossil which you might hold in your hand is evidence that life has evolved.

Taylor's piece is, in fact, a classic example of the failure to notice that placing faith in the scientific accuracy of a bible written by people who didn't know the earth orbits the sun is the mother of all presuppositions.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Kline's Abusive Relationship With Religion

You remember Phill Kline, Kansas' late, great attorney general?

(Actually, Kline remains AG and will be collecting a few more precious checks until January when Paul Morrison is sworn in.)

Kline styled himself as a holy man -- a bible-believing supporter of ID, an ardent opponent of abortion, an upholder not of Kansas law, but God's higher law. Despite having God on his side, the voters saw Kline for what he was, a nasty bully, and overwhelmingly voted him out of office after just one term.

Turns out, Kline was in an abusive relationship with his religion, too.

During the campaign, a memo written by Kline surfaced outlining his plan to turn Kansas churches into slot machines that would pay off in contributions to his campaign. Kline thought he'd go Jesus one better by driving the money changers back into the temple.

Kline's memo directed his campaign workers to make sure friendly pastors brought "money people" to fundraisers at their churches. His goal was to form a pro-Kline campaign committee in each church he campaigned at.

Now, the Interfaith Alliance, a Washington-based group that promotes the separation of church and state and government neutrality on religion has called Kline's plan to use churches to bankroll his re-election campaign the worst abuse of religion in American politics during the 2006 election cycle.


Faith, Reason, and Assumption

Eugenie C. Scott, the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, will be speaking on "Faith, Reason, and Assumption in Understanding the Natural World" in the Kansas Union Ballroom at the University of Kansas in Lawrence at 7:30 p.m. on November 16. Her talk is sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Biodiversity Institute.

Monday, November 13, 2006


We'll fight 'em on the land, fight. 'em in the air, fight 'em in our underwear!

"No matter what happens in the polling booth, or the courtroom, the scientific controversy remains just that – a scientific controversy."

No, it isn't a line from the Colbert Report. It's the Discovery Institute's reaction to the overwhelming defeat for ultra-right politics in the last election. Including, in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly rejected CreationScienceLite ® -- otherwise known as intelligent design.

After telling us for years that the demand by the public for teaching intelligent design in science classrooms was very nearly insatiable -- remember too, that pre-Dover they couldn't wait to get scientists into the court where they could grill them about evolution -- they now say their losses in the courts and the elections really aren't all that important.

No, they're going to win in the scientific arena.

Does anybody have the heart to tell them they lost there a long, long time ago?

Is it just me, or does the Discovery Institute strategy for teaching religion in public school science classrooms seem more and more like the president's strategy for winning in Iraq. Both are built on the same faulty premises, share the same distaste for reality, and both have about the same chance to succeed.


Out of the Closet

The latest to come out? Evangelical atheists.


Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

"I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book," says Elton John.

"But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."

Friday, November 10, 2006


The Family Circle

They're bright purple, have an array of spikes protruding from their bodies, and they're spineless. Oh yeah, they share a common anscestor with us humans.



The Carnegie Institution reports that "over the last half century, researchers have found that mineral surfaces may have played critical roles organizing, or activating, molecules that would become essential ingredients to all life--such as amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and nucleic acids (the essence of DNA). "

But which of the countless possible combinations of biomolecules and mineral surfaces were key to this evolution? This vexing question has stumped scientists for years because of the sheer volume of possibilities. Now an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Robert Hazen, of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory and former president of the Mineralogical Society of America, has developed new protocols and procedures for adapting DNA microarray technology to rapidly identify promising molecule/mineral pairs.

Read more here.


Now, then

Two years from now, there will be another Kansas school board election and three of the five incumbents will be up for election. That's half of the six-member moderate majority. Right-wing fundamentalists are already laying plans to take back the board.

Will we be able to stop them?

There will never be a better time to get ready than now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Kansas: What's Next?

The AP report on the Kansas school board election notes:
Come January, moderates will be calling the shots and one of the first things they're expected to do is rework the science testing standards for students to once again make them more pro-evolution oriented.

The article goes on to say:

The anti-evolution standards made Kansas the punch line for countless jokes, portraying the state as ignorant and backward.

Control of the board has changed between the two factions since 1998, resulting in anti-evolution standards for student testing in 1999, evolution-friendly ones in 2001 and anti-evolution ones in 2005.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius wants to strip the board of most of its duties, reducing it to an advisory panel with most of the power vested in an appointed secretary of education. The state had an elected superintendent of public instruction until 1969.
Evolution won't be the only issue on the moderate majority's agenda.

The board likely will dump Education Commissioner Bob Corkins, who was hired by conservatives last year. He lacked any experience as a school administrator, supports charter schools and vouchers and opposed increased school funding when he operated a conservative think tank.


Limping Forward

A reader, SC, who has been a leader of the fight to defend science education in Kansas had this reaction to RSR's optimistic take on the election. He makes a number of important points. Here's what he had to say:

I think that I disagree – one thing that is clearly wrong with Kansas is still how we handle education. We need to temper our celebrations today with the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing to stop the bizarre swings in the State Board of Education from continuing to occur. Before 1999, there were years of gridlock, when the State Board was divided 5 – 5 between the moderates and the conservatives. At this time most of the citizens of Kansas could not tell you who was on the State Board. After the international fiasco of the young earth inspired creationist science standards in 1999, we hand an election (2000) in which the moderates regain a majority and yet somehow in 2004 and 2005 the State Board was able to engage in wide ranging ludicrous activities (opt-in education, unqualified leadership and micromanaging a variety of curriculum standards) that resulted in the pseudo scientific hearings on evolution and intelligent designed inspired curriculum standards. That range of activities has made the work of the State Board seem irrelevant to the citizens of Kansas.

Anyone who has attended Board meetings knows that John Bacon's performance as a board member has been utterly inadequate, frequently bordering on incompetent. Don Wiess, his opponent, is highly qualified with demonstrated competence and yet we cannot seem to get him elected to the board. Ken Willard, a supposed education leader, regularly makes fun of individuals with advanced degrees (particularly from Kansas institutions) sending a clear message about Kansas education and life long learning. Jack Wempe is highly qualified with demonstrated competence and yet we cannot seem to get him elected to the board.

As we limp forward with a six to four moderate majority on a ten member Board, it is clear that this system is broken; perhaps broken beyond repair. We need to look at systemic change that will open the system up to highly competent people who are supported in their work to improve education at all levels, for all students. These changes must be accomplished within the next year so that we do not continue in this endless, non progressive, vicious cycle, sacrificing the education of a full generation of children.


Ohio Hope On Election Results

A news release issued by Ohio Hope takes note of the fact that all four Ohio Board of Ed candidates who ran on a pro-science platform won:

Nationwide, when science becomes an issue in such elections, it's often because the board in question has adopted a creationist policy that interferes with good science education and stands to cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees.

This year it did not take an emergency to get the public to pay attention. For the first time in over 4 years, Ohio's science standards are completely free of government-sponsored and inappropriate religiously motivated attacks on science. For the first time, a pro-science agenda has been positively promoted --not out of fear, but out of hope.

Earlier this year, the creationist minority on the Ohio Board of Education had attempted to marshal support for attacks on stem cell biology, global warming, cloning, and aspects of chemistry, as well as attacking evolution. Those attacks were fended off by the pro-science majority on the current board. Yesterday’s election demonstrated decisively that Ohio parents want more real science, and no more hocus-pocus pseudo-science.

Incumbent Sam Schloemer, a Cincinnati Republican, won re-election in a landslide. Schloemer is a strong proponent of using science class to teach science only. His opponent is a multi-millionaire proponent of creationist "critical-analysis” of evolution. Schloemer won a commanding 67% of the vote. From the beginning of his campaign, he said his candidacy would be “a referendum” on “intelligent-design” in Ohio.

Ohio's strongest “intelligent-design” proponent, Deborah Owens-Fink, who spent more money than any other candidate for school board lost almost 2-1 against pro-science challenger Tom Sawyer. Fink mustered only 29% of the vote, a dismal performance for this record fundraiser and marketing expert from Akron.

“It is very gratifying that voters in Ohio have overwhelmingly demonstrated their faith in reason and science, and have validated what is now a national trend: they want their children to receive the best scientific education possible, so they are not disadvantaged in the competition for 21st century jobs and economic opportunities,’ Said Lawrence Krauss, Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and Chair of HOPE’s advisory board. “When the distortions and misrepresentations of those who want to attack science teaching in schools because of misplaced religious fears has been clearly displayed, the public has reacted appropriately. It also demonstrates how important school board elections can be, and that scientists, clergy, and business people who are interested in promoting knowledge can band together to help recruit and elect candidates who can move this country forward.” Krauss said.

“Sawyer’s strong showing against Fink’s avalanche of out-of-state creationist and voucher money shows that Lincoln was right: You can’t fool all of the people all of the time,” said Patricia Princehouse of Case Western Reserve University and HOPE board member. She added, “HOPE has had the effect we were looking for –increased public awareness of state board of education elections. We hope to see that awareness grow in the years to come.”

In District 8 with over 80% of precincts reporting, Deb Cain appears to have a decisive win over incumbent Jim Craig, who had a very mixed record on science issues. Cain garnered 53% of the vote. Cain was motivated to run by broad concerns about the lack of leadership on the state board generally and her district in particular.

In District 2, Democrat John Bender edged out anti-science Republican Kathleen McGervey and two Democrats weak on science issues. This race was artificially close because of confusion caused by a major error on a slate card sent out by the Democrats. It inexplicably listed both Bender and McGervey.

The 5th race, District 3, did not turn on science issues. Winner Susan Havercos has not made her position on science education known and none of the other candidates ran a strongly pro-science campaign.

Support for pro-science candidates in Ohio poured in from parents, clergy and scientists all over the world. Said Princehouse, “It’s heartwarming to see people building for progress!”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Speaks Louder Than Words

Have you noticed the silence at Evolution News and Views and Uncommon Descent about the outcome of the election? Seems like only yesterday they were telling us about all the public opinion surveys indicating people were absolutely clamoring for ID in public schools.

What happened?


What's the Matter With Kansas? Not Much.

What's the matter with Kansas? Not so much it seems.

Last night, the radical right was dealt a stinging defeat at the hands of moderate Democratic and Republican voters.

Statewide, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius easily won victory over her far-right opponent, Jim Barnett, who was able to win just 41 percent of the vote. Moderate Republican Ron Thornburg won re-election as Secretary of State handily, as well.

In the most stunning defeat for the ultra-right, Democrat Paul Morrison easily defeated incumbent Phill Kline in the Attorney General's race. Kline got just 42 percent of the vote which can only be interpreted as a historic defeat for the right in red state Kansas. Kline even lost in rural areas in the state as voters were repulsed by his lying negative ads, illegal church fund raising, secret meetings with right-wing school board members, and misuse of his office in a fanatical campaign to make abortion illegal in the state.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a moderate Democrat, cruised to victory in the 3rd District, while moderate Democrat Nancy Boyda surprised everyone by upsetting radical right incumbent Jim Ryun in the 2nd.

Moderate Republicans Sally Cauble and Jana Shaver won election to the state school board insuring that pro-science moderates will have a 6-4 majority on the board in January. Unfortunately, moderates Don Weiss and Jack Wempe lost to right-wingers John Bacon and Ken Willard.

RSR believes that many Republicans who crossed over for the first time to vote for Democrats at the top of the ticket were unwilling to also vote for Democrats in the school board races -- especially when they already knew a moderate majority had been elected.


Big Victory for Science in Ohio

Pro-science candidates rolled to victory in four of five Ohio school board districts last night. John Bender, Sam Schloemer, Tom Sawyer, and Deborah Cain all won impressive victories.

Deborah Owens Fink, a creationist who made herself a lightning rod fighting for intelligent design in the curriculum there, was dealt a devastating defeat drawing less than 30 percent of the vote and just 59,897 votes compared to her pro-science opponent Tom Sawyer who won with 107,253 votes, 52.42 percent, in the four-way race.


Cauble, Shaver Lead

Moderates Sally Cauble and Jana Shaver, both Republicans, are leading their moderate Democratic opponents. However these races turn out, pro-science moderates will join the state board of education in January.


Kansas: District 7 Race Too Close to Call

Distict 7
Jack Wempe: 38123 (49%)
Ken Willard: 39403 (51%)
419 of 463 precincts reporting

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Bacon Wins

Right-wing fundamentalist John Bacon has defeated moderate, pro-science candidate Don Weiss 56 to 44 percent with all precincts reporting in the 3rd District school board race. RSR is guessing that Republicans who voted for Democrats for Governor, Attorney General, and U.S. House of Representatives were unwilling to crossover on any other races -- particularly when they knew that moderates would control the state school board at least 6-4 come January anyway.


Kansas: Tight Race in 7th School Board District

Distict 7
Jack Wempe: 37718 (49%)
Ken Willard: 38921 (51%)
404 of 463 precincts reporting

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate.


Kansas: Weiss Trails in 3rd District

District 3
Don Weiss: 37727 (44%)
John Bacon: 48306 (56%)
270 of 295 precincts reporting

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate.


CNN Projects Boyda Defeats Ryun

CNN projects Nancy Boyda will defeat incumbent (right-winger) Jim Ryun in the Kansas 2nd District U.S. House Race.


Ohio: Pro-science Candidates Lead

Pro-science moderate Sam Schloemer is building a big lead in Ohio's 4th School Board District. Tom Sawyer is also leading creationist Deborah Owens Fink in the 7th District. We've been told that Sawyer has been projected to win, although we can't confirm that. Bender and Cain also lead.


Kansas School Board District 7

Distict 7
Jack Wempe: 27814 (50%)
Ken Willard: 27462 (50%)
308 of 463 precincts reporting
Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate


Kansas School Board District 3

District 3
Don Weiss: 13582 (49%)
John Bacon: 14224 (51%)
38 of 295 precincts reporting

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate


Kline Concedes

Right-wing Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline concedes. Nancy Boyda is running well ahead of right-wing fundamentalist Jim Ryan in U.S. House District 2 with 60 percent of the vote in.


Ohio: Pro-science Candidates Lead in Four Districts

Pro-science moderate John Bender is ahead by more than 7,000 votes in Ohio's 2nd School Board District. Sam Schloemer, another pro-science moderate, has a strong lead in District 4. Sawyer and Cain are also leading.


Ohio: Sawyer Opens Big Lead Over Owens Fink

District 7
Sawyer, Thomas C.: 66,633 (55.85%)
Fink, Deborah Owens: 33,115 (27.76%)


Kansas: Wempe Leads Willard

District 3
Don Weiss: 10415 (48%)
John Bacon: 11176 (52%)
17 of 295 precincts reporting

District 5
Sally Cauble: 3330 (66%)
Tim Cruz: 1711 (34%)

Distict 7
Jack Wempe: 12483 (54%)
Ken Willard: 10867 (47%)
105 of 463 precincts reporting

District 9
Kent Runyan: 11474 (51%)
Jana Shaver: 11003 (49%)

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate



District 4
Schloemer, G.R.: 3,898 (50.16% )
Hritz, John: 3,873 (49.84%)

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate.


Ohio Update

District 2
Ault, Kenneth: 4,119 (46.04%)
McGervey, Kathleen A.: 2,289 (25.58%)
Bender, John R.: 1,875 (20.96%)
Hansen, Roland: 3,086 (6.53%)

District 3
Haverkos, Susan M.: 12,546 (35.84%)
Gunlock, Thomas W.: 10,975 (31.35%)
Uphoff, James K.: 7,149 (20.42%)
Anagnostou, Mike: 4,334 (12.38%)

District 4
No Results

District 7
Sawyer, Thomas C.: 6,095 (51.49%)
Fink, Deborah Owens: 3,290 (27.79%)
Kovacs, David: 1,661 (14.03%)
Jones, John T.:791 (6.68%)

District 8
Cain, Deborah L.: 10,327 (52.63% )
Craig, Jim: 9,296 (47.37%)

Bold indicates moderate, pro-science candidate


Kansas School Board Update

In District 3, with just 7 of 295 precincts reporting, right-winger John Bacon is running ahead of moderate Don Weiss 10,362 (52%) to 9735 (48%).

With 9 of 463 precincts reporting, moderate Jack Wempe has pulled ahead of Ken Willard 2,116 (62%) to 1,322 (39%).


Ohio: Sawyer Leads Fink

In Ohio's 7th District moderate, pro-science candidate Tom Sawyer leads ID proponent Deborah Owens Fink 4,581 (50.37%) to 2,557 (28.11%).

Deborah Cain, another pro-science candidate, is running slightly ahead of Jim Craig.

But, it's still early and very few precincts are reporting.


Kansas: More Early Returns

Kent Runyan leads Jana Shaver in District 9 -- both are moderate, pro-science candidates -- with just one precinct reporting.

Tim Cruz trails Sally Cauble 30 to 84, again with just one precinct reporting -- both are moderates and pro-science.


Kansas: Early Returns

District 3: With just one of 295 precints reporting, moderate, pro-science candidate Don Weiss leads John Bacon 149 to 139.

District 7: With just one of 463 precints reporting, moderate, pro-science candidate Jack Wempe trails Ken Willard 49 to 62.

No other school board districts are currently reporting any results.


Ohio: Voting Extended, No Results Yet

The United States District Court has issued an order requiring the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to extend the hours of voting in Ohio to 9 p.m. E.S.T at polling places designated in the court order.

As a result of the court's order, all 88 county Boards of Elections have been directed not to report any election results to the public or the Ohio Secretary of State's office until 9 p.m.

Stay tuned for school board eletion results then


Will Dirty Tricks Swing the Election for Republicans?

The Republican Party apparently believes it can hold onto political power by harassing voters with dozens of repeat robo-calls in order to suppress the vote. The idea is to fool voters who hang up on the automated calls into thinking the calls are coming from Democratic candidates. Apparently, the computers that make these calls have been programmed to keep calling back until the voter listens to the whole message -- thus infuriating them.

You can see video of Keith Olbermann's report on the Republican scheme -- which may be illegal -- here.

TPM Muckraker has a full run-down on the Republican robo-call scandal.

The Nation reports on the Republican's desperate tactics to hang onto power.

Here in Kansas, Republican Jim Ryan -- he's one of the holier-than-thou crowd -- is using the tactic against Nancy Boyda, forcing her to post a disclaimer on her website:

Someone is flooding homes with harassing robo calls. They are making it sound like many are coming from the Boyda campaign. These calls are part of the dirty tricks funded by billion dollar lobbyists from back East.

Our campaign made only one call last week and it was a positive message. Please download this message and pass it one to your email contacts and ask everyone to vote for Nancy Boyda. Nancy will expand the privacy no call list to stop political robo calls. Ryun voted to allow these political calls and is now using them in this campaign.

Morals? Ryan doesn't have any.


School Board Races

RSR will be following the election returns in the Kansas and Ohio school board elections. Check back later after the polls close for the results as they come in...


Eugenie Scott in Kansas

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, spoke at Johnson County Community College on Sunday. JCCC is just a few blocks from RSR's home, but we weren't able to make it.

Fortunately, Paul DeCelles, the proprietor of The Force That Through blog was. You can read his report here.

And, don't forget that Scott will be speaking on "Faith, Reason, and Assumption in understanding the Natural World" on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Kansas Union Ballroom in Lawrence as part of the Hall Center for the Hummanities' Difficult Dialogs series.

See the sidebar for details.

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's Time to Vote

Nothing RSR can say about creationism and intelligent design matters anymore.

If you still believe, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that teaching religion in science classes is the right thing to do, nothing we can write will dissuade you.

If you still believe what John Calvert or Casey Luskin tell you about intelligent design, it likely you also believe the U.S. is winning in Iraq, or that Katrina was sent to punish the wicked, or that Education Commissioner Bob Corkins can do something positive for Kansas school children other than resign. No witty post by RSR is likely, at this late date, to change your mind.

Likewise, if you're sick at heart about what George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Phill Kline, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, John Calvert, William Dembski, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly and the religious right are doing to this country you don't need any more convincing from RSR.

You already know what to do and that is vote.

RSR will be voting tomorrow to throw the bums out. All the bums.

But this blog is about the battle between religious fundamentalists who want to use school kids as cannon fodder in the Culture Wars. We won't offer a comprehensive list of candidates. Rather, here is a list of candidates in Kansas and Ohio who will work to improve education, defend the science curriculum, and preserve the separation between church and state that allows teachers to get on with it and do their jobs:

District 1: Janet Waugh
District 3: Don Weiss
District 5: Sally Cauble or Tim Cruz
District 7: Jack Wempe
District 9: Kent Runyan or Jana Shaver

District 2: John Bender
District 3: James Uphoff or Thomas Gunlock
District 4: G.R. "Sam" Schloemer
District 7: Tom Sawyer
District 8: Deborah Cain

You can get more information about the Ohio school board election from Ohio Citizens for Science and OhioHope.


Pastor Ted: The Verdict Is In

According to the New York Times, the overseer board, made up clergy from various churches, has issued a statement on evangelist Ted Haggard's indiscretions with a male prostitute:

''Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."

In a statement read to members of his New Life Church Sunday, Haggard confirmed his guilt, writing, ''The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality."

Here's RSR's verdict: Haggard's real crime isn't sexually immoral conduct. It's the form of immoral conduct normally referred to as hypocrisy. Believing and doing one thing, while saying another.

In our view, that verdict could be rendered against many on the religious right, in its political apparatus, the Republican Party, and the media.


The DeKline and Phall

Did Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline illegally show private patient medical records -- obtained in his continuing witch hunt against abortion -- to right-wing pundit Bill O'Reilly?

According to The Kansas City Star, Bill O’Reilly told a national television audience that an inside source told the show that Kansas physician George Tiller performs late-term abortions when a patient is depressed. O’Reilly called that “executing babies.”

Kline appeared on O’Reilly’s show just a week after obtaining medical files relating to abortions at the two Kansas clinics. Kline said the files may contain evidence that illegal abortions were performed or that child abuse was covered up.

The Star reports that Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney for the Overland Park clinic operated by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, [Irigonegaray also represented scientists and educators at the intelligent design road show held in Topeka last year] said Kline should not be talking about the case on television.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted that our attorney general first decided to go on Mr. O’Reilly’s show to talk about what is supposed to be a criminal investigation,” Irigonegaray said, adding that it was “inconceivable” how O’Reilly could have received information about private medical records.
Kline has no respect for the rights of Kansans -- abortion is, after all, still legal. He has no regard for the law. His lying, negative campaign ads prove there are no moral boundaries that he isn't prepared to cross in order to be re-elected. There's little doubt he blabbed about medical records to O'Reilly.

Tomorrow, the voters have a chance to bring an end to Kline's miserable career. Paul Morrison, a professional prosecutor with vast experience, has stepped forward to rid Kansas of Kline's right-wing bullying.

It can't come quick enough for Kansas or RSR.


Wichita Eagle Endorses Wempe

From The Wichita Eagle: "Jack Wempe of Lyons has our strong endorsement for the board seat in this district, which covers much of central Kansas, including Harvey, Reno and McPherson counties and extending south to Kingman, Pratt and Harper counties."

Wempe, who describes himself as a "conservative Democrat," is a dream candidate for this position. He is almost overqualified, having amassed a long and impressive record as a teacher, principal, superintendent, state legislator and chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents.

He knows education inside and out -- but still recently crisscrossed the state, visiting dozens of school districts to get a feel for what's actually going on in schools.

Wempe, a pragmatic consensus builder, is just the grown-up, steady presence the board needs right now. He pledged to rebuild the state board's tattered credibility and said he would work to bring members together and "make a strong effort to be bipartisan."

Wempe would also reopen the lines of communication with school districts and encourage innovation and experimentation with "best practices" in learning.

Incumbent Republican Ken Willard of Hutchinson does not deserve re-election. He has been a key swing vote in the evolution wars, which made Kansas' education standards a laughingstock in the nation. Willard has pursued some laudable goals in office, such as working to free up legislative funds for all-day kindergarten.

But he can't begin to match Wempe's qualifications and knowledge.

Voters wanting to return the state board to commonsense priorities should elect Wempe.


Joe Bfstplk

If it weren't for bad luck, it seems, evolution doubters wouldn't have any luck at all. It's enough to make you think god isn't really on their side.

Here's but the latest example:

Fox News reports that Japanese researchers say "a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land. "

That's what happens when things aren't going your way which, when we come to think of it, hasn't really happened for teleology since the dark ages.


Conversion Experience

The New York Dolls convert an ID proponent at the Museum of Natural History and the Flying Spagetti Monster does a cameo on YouTube. A lot of monkeying around here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


The Irreducible Complexity of Pastor Ted

Writing of Pastor Ted Haggard's fall from grace with a male prostitute, David Kuo, the author of Tempting Faith, writes on his BeliefNet blog J-Walking: "The allegations against Ted Haggard make my heart sick. But there is an irreducible complexity to the Kingdom of God that puts everything into perspective... "

And, in what may well prove to be the worst (unintended) double entendre on the Haggard affair, Kuo also observes that "Jesus’ earthly representatives have a long history of blowing it."

For RSR, there is a certain poetic justice in the fall of Pastor Ted. That a man who was the national leader of a movement to ban gay marriage should be paying for the services of a male prostitute is something that even we could not have imagined.

However, we think Andrew Sullivan has it about right when he says:
I'm afraid I feel for Haggard. This is what happens to a man psychologically and spiritually destroyed by actually advancing a lie he knows to be a lie about homosexuality as a "chosen lifestyle" while being gay himself.

His denial of reality, his inability to cope with the world as it is, is often part of the same fundamentalist psyche we see exhibited at all levels of the Rove machine - and, dangerously, within the president himself. Denial is a very powerful psychic force. When combined with addiction, it can fuel destructive behavior. In a human being, it can destroy a person, a family, a marriage, an entire life.

By the way, you can watch a video of Pastor Ted's unconvincing denial here. It's quite painful to watch this sort of self-destruction unfold.

For those who don't know who Ted Haggard is -- or his significance on the religious right -- the best place to start is with this profile, "Soldiers of Christ: Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch,"by David Sharlet at The Revealer.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Don Weiss Endorsements

Moderate school board candidate Don Weiss has been endorsed by the Kansas City Star and the Johnson County Sun.

Here's the Kansas City Star:
In August, Kansas voters signaled that they wanted their state Board of Education to go a different direction.

The board majority has attracted national ridicule for voting to criticize the theory of evolution in state science standards. An incumbent who voted that way and a challenger who supported the vote were defeated in the primary election.

Two of the anti-evolution majority survived. They are Republicans John Bacon of Olathe in District 3 and Ken Willard of Hutchinson in District 7.

Both deserve defeat in the general election.

In District 3, the choice should be Don Weiss, an Olathe Democrat who says he wants to “restore dignity and respect” to the board.

And the Johnson County Sun:
One of the most important state races in our area is in the 3rd District of the Kansas Board of Education. Don Weiss, a Democrat who lives in Olathe, is challenging the incumbent Republican, John W. Bacon, Olathe.

Weiss is, by far, the more qualified candidate.

Bacon is part of the notorious 6-4 Christian conservative majority that has enmeshed the board in distracting controversies such as evolution instruction, sex education and hiring Bob Corkins as education commissioner.

Weiss has also been endorsed by Harry McDonald, a Republican who lost to Bacon in the primary, the Kansas Alliance for Education, the MAINstream Coalition Political Action Committee, the Kansas National Education Association Political Action Committee, the Greater Kansas City Democracy for America, the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus, and the National Association of Social Workers, Kansas Chapter.


Annals of Crime -- Dr. Dino Goes Down

As we all know, the teaching of evolution in the public schools breeds contempt for god-given moral values. That's why we were so surprised to read a report in the Pensacola News Journal that a federal jury had convicted Kent Hovind, aka Dr. Dino of tax fraud -- not giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

Despite the conviction, Hovind remains a strong family values man. His wife, Jo, was also convicted of tax fraud. Her charges include aiding and abetting her husband with 44 counts of evading bank-reporting requirements.

Hovind, who runs Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park that asserts Adam and Eve -- like Fred and Wilma --romped with the dinosaurs, reportedly faces a maximum of 288 years in prison. His wife faces up to 225 years.

According to the report in the Pensacola News Journal, Hovind's defense lawyers rested their case on Wednesday without presenting evidence or calling witnesses.

Hey, wait just a minute. That's the same proof they offer for creationism and intelligent design.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Where Are They Now?

Oh what a difference one election can make.

If you don't believe that, take a moment to think back to last July and the run up to the Kansas primary election.

Then, the Discovery Institute was holding a news conference to announce that they'd set up a website for Kansans to "Stand Up For Science" -- not to influence the election, mind you. They even bought ads on Christian radio stations to promote their not-so-hidden agenda of promoting religion in science classes.

Then too, John Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network was stumping the state for intelligent design -- and he had a website, too.

Today, with less than a week to go before the general election the silence from the intelligent design camp has been deafening. Neither the Discovery nor the ID Network websites have been updated since last July. There are no radio ads and no speaking tours to defend the intelligent design inspired science standards and the two fundamentalist board members who survived the primary election: John Bacon and Ken Willard.

That's because -- despite all those polls we keep hearing about that say Kansans are clamoring for intelligent design -- two candidates identified with ID, Connie Morris and Brad Patzer, were defeated in the primary insuring that the new board majority would reject ID in science classes.

Bacon and Willard, the remaining right-wingers on the board who are up for election this year, who not long ago were telling audiences that in the end you have to decide between evolution and the Bible, have absolutely clammed up about ID -- they now portray themselves as misunderstood moderates.

Electing real moderates such as Don Weiss and Jack Wempe next Tuesday will insure that fundamentalists who are running away from ID now don't reverse course to embrace it -- as they surely will -- after.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Right Wing PACs Abandon Bacon and Willard

In the run up to the primary election RSR reported that right-wing political action committees run out of the Kansas Republican Assembly by treasurer Merilee Martin are slush funds designed to evade the Kansas election law limitations on campaign contributions to state school board candidates.

Kansas election laws limit contributions made to state school board candidates from political action committees (PACs), such as those for which Martin serves as treasurer, to a total of $500 in period leading up to the primary election, and $500 prior to the general election -- $1,000 in total.

Despite those limits, right-wing school board candidates Connie Morris, John Bacon, and Ken Willard ended up pocketing contributions of $2,000 each from the checks written by Martin on Dec. 29 – twice what the law allows for the entire election and four times what's allowed during the primary election cycle.

Interestingly, recently released campaign finance reports available at the Kansas Ethics Commission and the FEC reveal that the Free Academic Inquiry and Research and Kansas Republican Victory state and federal PACs, having spent lavishly during the primary have raised and spent almost no money on school board races in the general election cycle.

The FAIR State PAC, for example, spent roughly $2,000 on radio ads for the primary, but reports receiving only one contribution -- $175 from the Kansas Republican Victory Fund State PAC -- in the fall run up to the general election. The FAIR State PAC made no contributions to candidates in the general election cycle.

Likewise, the Kansas Republican Victory Fund State PAC report indicates it has abandoned the right-wing school board candidates. Although it reports $45,000 in receipts during this cycle -- all of it transfers from other PACs and none in individual contributions -- it spent nothing on the school board race, instead directing the bulk of its expenditures, some $16, 117.98, on a mailing to promote candidates in house races and Jim Barnett for Governor and Phill Kline for Attorney General.

John Bacon reports receiving a total of $3,900 -- from just 11 donors -- in contributions during the general election cycle. Ken Willard reports some $6,410 in contributions in the general election cycle. While a number of his contributions come from inside his school board district, many of the large contributions come from outside the district -- mostly from right-wing activists in Johnson County -- and outside the state.

With the Republican Party under pressure in this election, it could be that right-wing activists have had to shift their focus to protecting right-wing incumbents in larger races like Phill Kline's at the expense of the school board races. It could also be that the radical right saw the handwriting on the wall after the primary and decided not to throw good money after bad.


Eugenie Scott in Kansas

November 2: Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Sciece Education will be speaking on "The Once and Future Intelligent Design" at 7:00 p.m. in the Alumni Center Banquet Hall, Kansas State University in Manhattan. For further details about this public event look here.

November 3: Scott will be presenting "Genie's Top 10 Ways to Teach Evolution Better" -- a lighthearted if serious presentation for faculty of ideas about teaching evolution that may help to avoid or at least head off misconceptions -- at 4:00 p.m. in 101 Thompson Hall, Kansas State University in Manhattan. For further details about this public seminar look here.

November 4: she will be speaking on "Politics, Education, and Evolution" at 7:30 p.m. in Carlsen Center, Room 211, Johnson County Community College, in Overland Park. For further details about this public event, sponsored by Kansas Citizens for Science, look here for more info.

Scott will be returning to Kansas on November 16, to speak at the University of Kansas in Lawrence as part of the Hall Center for the Hummanities Series, "Difficult Dialogues at the Commons."

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