The Creationists Get Creamed
And other news from science and technology.
(For the latest Human Nature columns on creationism, anal sex, and treating women like children, click here.)
Voters threw out the Pennsylvania school board that approved "intelligent design." Eight of the nine board members were up for election; all eight lost to candidates who opposed the ID policy. This happened in a district that voted 65 percent for President Bush in 2004. (For Human Nature's take on the court case, click here.)
The Kansas Board of Education adopted science standards that allow supernatural explanations. The standards 1) recommend the teaching of shortcomings in evolution and 2) eliminate a definition of science as "a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena." (For Human Nature's first take on the Kansas fight, click here; for an update, click here.)
Latest advice to head off a bird flu epidemic: Stop feeding chicken feces to fish. Chicken feces is a prime conduit of the bird flu virus; Vietnamese farmers feed fish at least 100 tons of it a day.
Scientists are proposing to use your stomach as a lie detector. Polygraphs, which are sometimes inaccurate, could be combined with "electrogastrograms," which monitor digestive activity and proved more reliable than heart rate at detecting lies in a small study.
Washington's Supreme Court extended parental rights to a non-biological, non-adoptive lesbian "mom." For six years, the plaintiff helped her partner raise a child (conceived with donated sperm), staying home while the biological mom worked outside the home. The biological mom then married the sperm donor and cut off the plaintiff's access to the child. The court said the plaintiff can qualify as a "de-facto or psychological parent" if she 1) lived with the child, 2) helped raise the child without expectation of compensation, 3) formed a bond with the child, and 4) was encouraged by the legal parent to form this bond.
Colgate-Palmolive is working with a biotech firm to develop gene-therapy mouthwash. The mouthwash and other "topically applied products" would infect your mouth with tumor-suppressing genes.
Denver legalized marijuana possession. Voters passed a ballot measure barring criminal or civil penalties if 1) you're carrying less than an ounce of pot and 2) you're 21 or older. The effect is symbolic, because state law still punishes possession, but advocates in other states will probably copy the argument that passed the Denver legalization measure: Marijuana diverts people from alcohol, which is more dangerous.
The mayor of Las Vegas proposed to amputate the thumbs of freeway graffitists. He said he was "dead serious" and added that some troublemaking kids should be whipped or caned.
President Bush requested $7 billion to prepare the United States for a bird flu epidemic. The flu is spreading west from Asia and has killed 62 people in the last two years; scientists fear that a mutation will allow it to pass more easily from human to human. Production of enough vaccine for the general population "will take years."
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.