"It's a beauty!" the website said. "The news story that our very own Nessie is being used to support the teaching of Creationism in the states has gone global – here is the Washington Post's take." A handy link was provided.
The Sunday Herald exclusive went round the planet and back again in the blink of an eye last weekend. One group of American students, with "Strawberry Fields, New York" on their sweatshirts, were just stepping off a cruise around the loch. They found the entire story hilarious, with one saying: "Don't know anything about creationism, evolution or Darwin , but we have just seen the monster." They left to gales of laughter as their coach departed, with rain coming in over the loch.
Another who had just cruised the loch was Andrew Shuler, 36, an engineer from Dallas, Texas. He sighed as he shook his head in response to the creationists' argument. "I think if they are trying to base any theory on the existence of this monster, they should probably wait until they actually catch one," he said. "I don't think it is a very sound approach. I think the existence of fossils is a bit sounder. I can see them in a museum, which is more persuasive than a monster which I didn't see today."
Nicole and David Oppenheim had flown from Chicago to attend the Stone Roses reunion concert in Manchester, but had made Loch Ness another of their destinations.
Nicole, 34, a DJ on a radio station called Chirp – the Chicago Independent Radio Project – which specialises in music from underplayed independent artists, said: "A friend of mine posted [the Nessie story] on Facebook and I was shocked. I couldn't believe people would be that stupid. I know that is a terrible thing to say, but really. It just seems utterly ridiculous to me."
David, 35, a lawyer, was equally sceptical: "It is just a quite bizarre formulation because you are taking something that is fictitious and you are using it to support an argument that, even if it were real, it wouldn't support.
"First of all, it is like saying the Flintstones mean that there was no evolution. But even if there was a Nessie and she was a dinosaur, that doesn't mean that humans couldn't have evolved."
Musician Jim Terry, 81, from Memphis, Tennessee, had a similar take. Since 2001 he and his wife have been living in a house above Loch Ness near the memorial to John Cobb, who died in 1952 when he was attempting to break the world water speed record on the loch.
His jet speedboat was travelling at more than 200mph when it hit an unexplained wake in the water, which some claimed was created by the Loch Ness Monster.
Terry says his own view of the monster was best summed up by a lady serving in a hamburger van on the loch-side many years ago. "We got to talking about Nessie and she said it's like Santa Claus. It is a nice thing to think about, and she was right."
Speaking of the use of Nessie by the creationists, he said he would commend the Santa Claus approach to his countrymen. However, he wasn't totally surprised by the new role Nessie was playing in the US. "If you remember, when JK Rowling was writing Harry Potter some thought she was writing about things to do with the devil."
The man locals call Mr Loch Ness is Willie Cameron, who was behind the campaign launched five years ago to persuade Unesco that Loch Ness should be a World Heritage Site. Now development director for the Loch Ness Clansman Hotel at Brackla, he said: "I have been in the game here for about 25 years and in that time I have met literally thousands and thousands of Americans.
"Some famously have been involved researching Loch Ness – many more just are visitors to this world-famous destination. Never once in all that time has anyone brought up the subject of creationism in reference to the Loch Ness story."
St Columba was supposed to have seen the monster in the sixth century but according to Cameron, the world's media wasn't interested until 1934. That was when the famous photograph of Nessie was published – showing what appeared to be a sea monster's head and neck rising out of the loch.
Cameron says the Nessie fever of the 1930s was sparked by the release of the first King Kong movie the year before, along with the popularity of books such as Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Land That Time Forgot.
Meanwhile, down the loch at Drumnadrochit, Debbie MacGregor, manager of the The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, said: "Our exhibition is based on science and fact. We want people to make their own minds up. They should be judge and jury."
Some apparently already are.
l Loch Ness is the largest body of fresh water in Britain by volume, at 24 miles long, an average of one mile wide and up to 740ft deep. The area attracts about 400,000 visitors a year.
'Not everyone here has fallen victim to these radical religious outcries'
In the country of creationism
By rachel loxton
LOUISIANA lies at the heart of the Nessie controversy kicked up last week by the Sunday Herald – and the story has set liberals against the Christian right and evolutionists against creationists in a culture war that is turning nasty.
Thousands of children in the southern state are receiving publicly-funded vouchers for the next school year to attend private schools where Scotland's most famous mythological beast will be taught as a real, living creature. At least 13 other states are also teaching a curriculum that maintains Nessie exists, in order to overturn the theory of evolution.
The American private schools using public money to fund this controversial religious teaching follow the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme. It uses textbooks claiming that Nessie has been recorded by sonar and "appears to be a plesiosaur".
In Louisiana, the Sunday Herald story has provoked mixed reactions, with some people raising concerns over the fact that these fundamentalist religious theories are being taught at public expense and others frustrated that the state was hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Charles Lussier, who covers education for the Advocate newspaper in the state's East Baton Rouge area, said the story reached his newsroom at the start of the week. He said it was well known that many schools taught creationism in the southern American state.
"I have not examined the textbooks, but I am not surprised by the story," he said. "I do know that many Christian schools teach creationism. More than 40% of Americans, in years of polling, are sceptical about evolution.
"Louisiana is a very Christian state. We have a law supported by our current governor which allows biology teachers to use supplemental materials in addition to textbooks that discuss alternatives to evolution.
"We have a very active chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union here in Louisiana that has sued many public school districts for alleged intrusions of religion into public schools."
Editorial writer Lanny Keller, also of the Advocate, added that the paper has opposed the teaching. "We've opposed this – even used the word 'crackpot', which is a lot from our basically staid newspaper."
He said the state was now "embarking on an emergency round of visits to the schools initially okayed, saying that their approval was only conditional and might be revoked depending on their ability to take in large numbers of voucher-funded students. Some of these schools do not have libraries, and instruction is delivered in part through DVDs."
Local student Ashley Barbier said: "As an American living in Louisiana, I would just like to say that not everyone here has fallen victim to these radical religious outcries and that some of us still prize logic and reason.
"Living here, you get used to hearing a lot of different agendas and fundamentalist groups of all sorts. It is a sad state of affairs in the American Deep South, but not all hope is lost, just most.
"My husband and I are presently trying to leave the country by means of emigration. We're extremely tired of this backwards redneck nonsense."
Elsewhere in the US, leading educationalist David Berliner, a professor at Arizona State University, voiced fears that American children would grow up forever believing that Nessie is real.
"Some of the pupils come out of it, some of them go to secular schools," he said. "They're not all ignorant, some of them are quite bright and open to new experiences.
"But some of them will continue to believe what they've been taught forever – that aliens gave us the pyramids, that Nessie lives and evolution is nonsense, that baby Jesus rode on the back of a dinosaur, and Noah's Ark had unicorns."
"It's when they interfere with the education of the young that you begin to worry that society may need to intercede. I don't know if we have the guts to do that."
However, many fundamentalists are unsurprisingly sticking to their guns and maintaining that Darwinism is fatally flawed. The word of God needs to be taught to balance out the views of secularists and scientists, they believe.
Dr Billy McCormack, of the Christian Coalition of America, argues that the theory of evolution contains many uncertainties, saying: "Evolution leaves everything to chance. This theory is weighed with impossibilities, but it is accepted by secularists as valid because they cannot countenance a divine hand." He added that there are "many reputable scientists who are creationists".
'Don't believe it just because a scientist says so'
creationism in the uk by rachel loxton
OPPONENTS of the teaching of creationism are warning that the movement is becoming increasingly prevalent in the UK. Christian exams which push claims such as the existence of Nessie are approved qualifications by the British Government – however, such teaching is privately funded in the UK, unlike in the USA where it receives state funding.
The British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) says there is a "danger" that fundamental Christian teaching could be creeping further into British intellectual life due to a lack of separation of church and state. The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes the government agency responsible for approving qualifications – which has ruled that Christian qualifications are worth the same as standard exams such as O levels and Highers – is failing to ensure that children sitting such courses receive accurate science education.
The warnings follow last week's Sunday Herald article which revealed Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programmes in the US are teaching pupils that the Loch Ness Monster is real in a bid to disprove evolution – the idea being that if Nessie and humans co-exist then Darwin is wrong.
Both the BCSE and the BHA argued that creationism should not be taught alongside evolution as though it is a valid scientific position. According to the BHA, there are around 50 private Christian schools in the UK offering the ACE curriculum.
Roger Stanyard, BCSE spokesman, said: "The main worry we have is the creationist movement getting into education by the back door – which is what has happened in the States. The kids don't come out of these schools with basic critical thinking skills that other bright children from mainstream schools do."
In 2009, the UK's National Academic Recognition Information Centre (Naric) deemed ACE qualification the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) to be a qualification equivalent to O levels and A levels offered by the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) board.
Richy Thompson, the BHA's campaigner against faith schools, said: "It seems clear Naric is still failing in their duty to properly assess the ICCE, and therefore failing to ensure many children receive an accurate, rigorous science education."
Former British ACE student, Jonny Scaramanga, described the tests carried out as part of the ICCE as simplistic, saying: "ACE tests almost entirely with simple recall questions, usually in the form of multiple choice. These means of assessment frequently do not require understanding, let alone higher-order thinking skills."
But Mark Neale, a head teacher at two UK ACE schools, hit back. He said: "We stress freedom, critical thinking, challenge. Just because someone on the telly who's a scientist says it's true, don't believe it."
The director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, said: "That God has made everything is a legitimate view held by a good section of the population, including people in Scotland. I'm sure there are quite a few Nessie believers in Scotland."