updated 9/29/2005 10:35:32 PM ET 2005-09-30T02:35:32

A group of Nobel Prize winners should have done more homework before criticizing proposed science standards in Kansas, advocates of the guidelines said in a letter Thursday.

The intelligent-design advocates favor new standards that would expose students to more criticism of evolution. They say the laureates’ complaints are an attempt to suppress debate on the issue.

The letter was signed by Bill Harris, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Greg Lassey, a former middle school science teacher, who helped draft the disputed language.

“We all want good standards,” the letter said. “However, demeaning rhetoric that does not address specifics but serves only to belittle and misrepresent the changes is not helpful.”

Earlier this month, 38 laureates, including prominent chemists, physicists and medical experts, asked the State Board of Education to reject the proposed standards .

The laureates, led by Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, said that evolution is the foundation of biology and that it has been bolstered by DNA studies.

Many scientists see intelligent design as another form of creationism, which the Supreme Court has banned from public schools.

In contrast, intelligent design's proponents believe the complexity of the natural world cannot be explained except by attributing creation to some higher intelligence.

The Kansas board expects to vote this year on the standards, which will be used to develop tests for students but would allow local boards to decide how science is taught.

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