Education: Oddly Enough

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Invasion of the money snatchers: Prompted by the Education Ministry, Thai police are investigating a religious theme park allegedly spreading the belief that aliens will soon attack and that only followers who buy expensive amulets will survive. Deputy Minister Arkom Engchuan said the park will be closed down if it was established illegally and conducts practices against Buddhist teachings. Buddhism is the dominant religion in Thailand, and the Education Ministry oversees the clergy. The abbot who runs the cult which built the park claims to be in regular telepathic communication with aliens. The park, located in Petchburi Province, has attracted thousands of followers who believe the earth will come to an end this year. According to an official speaking on condition of anonymity, followers are urged to buy amulets for pounds 170 to assure they will survive the alien invasion. In the park grounds are statues of Chao Mae Guan Im, the cult's female spiritual leader, in different poses, including one of her standing on a spaceship.

Weird science: A Michigan school district is supplying its libraries with books that question the validity of the theory of evolution. The Melvindale-Northern Allen Park School Board endorsed placing the books in its junior high and high school libraries for students to reference voluntarily. Board President John Rowe, a self-proclaimed creationist, said the books were legitimate works of scholarship. "The books are scientific textbooks that offer scientific evidence that evolution may not be true," he said. "I think any time we can have our students gain additional knowledge from credible science, we should do that." Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education, which helped the district evaluate the books, disagreed. "There are some books that are just a joke," she said. She labelled several of the books on the district's list as "mainline anti- evolution", "frankly religious", and "bad science."