NTS LogoSkeptical News for 26 September 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 26, 2001

PROBE SENDS POSTCARDS FROM COMET'S CORE
from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 - A dying spacecraft making a last effort to capture scientific data has produced the best look at the glowing heart of a comet, scientists said today.

NASA scientists said the craft, Deep Space 1, staged a risky flyby of the comet Borrelly over the weekend and took a series of rare pictures as it passed within 1,400 miles of the icy body.

The probe, 136 million miles from Earth when it sped by the comet on Saturday, recorded many black-and- white images and observed the strange environment around the comet during the close encounter. It was only the second time in history that a spacecraft had come this close to the core, or nucleus, of a comet.

"We've made a giant step forward in understanding the cometary nucleus," Dr. Donald Yeomans, a comet expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said today at a news conference there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/26/science/space/26COME.html

SOLAR FLARE DELAYS ROCKET LAUNCH IN ALASKA
from The Associated Press

KODIAK, Alaska - An intense solar flare forced a postponement of at least 48 hours for the first orbital launch from the Kodiak Launch Complex, NASA officials said.

The launch of an Athena rocket, which had already been delayed, was postponed Tuesday as the effects of Monday morning's solar flare intensified, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.

According to experts on space weather, conditions would not be acceptable for a launch until about 3.5 days after the peak of the solar flare, the statement said.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/107687p-1216589c.html

MEDICAL MISSION STUDIES DISORDERS
from Newsday

An elite corps of medical intelligence officers has been deployed in Manhattan to investigate any illnesses arising in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack.

Thirty-five physicians allied with the federal Epidemiologic Intelligence Service are working round-the-clock for an indefinite period in the emergency rooms of 15 largely undisclosed hospitals. The doctors are perusing the charts of all patients who enter, gathering information on the types of medical complaints patients report.

For those not directly hurt in the World Trade Center's collapse, it may take time for the medical reverberations to play out, experts say. To get the best sense of how people are faring, intelligence officers intentionally will remain incognito.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hscdc262384619sep26.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

BIOTERRORISM DEFENSES BEING DEVELOPED
from The San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Bay Area biotech firms are starting to talk about technologies they hope they'll never need -- tools to detect and combat biological terror.

"We're glad this hasn't had to be used in the worst case," said Tom Gutshall, chief executive of Cepheid Inc., a Sunnyvale firm that has developed a portable DNA test device designed to be used at the site of a suspected bioterror attack.

Cepheid is one of several Bay Area firms that has been working with federal agencies on ways to counter bioterrorism.

Cepheid developed its mobile device with the help of a $5 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company used miniaturization technology from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to create a test device only slightly larger than a laptop computer that can run off a car battery.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/26/BU100674.DTL

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Creationism outside the US

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu

Yes. The Islamic verison of creationism is, if anything, stronger than what we get in the US.

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol19/9510_cloning_creationism_in_turkey_12_30_1899.asp

Taner Edis

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 25, 2001

NOW, DOCTORS MUST IDENTIFY THE DEAD AMONG THE TRADE CENTER RUBBLE
from The New York Times

Doctors are gearing up for the largest effort in the annals of forensic medicine: identifying the dead in the World Trade Center attacks.

The scientists always knew the identifications would be an arduous task, but with more than 6,000 people still unaccounted for and relatively few bodies recovered, it is turning out to be a far bigger job than they expected.

The effort has a dual purpose - to provide evidence for those investigating the attacks and to bring answers to families and friends whose lives may be suspended in unresolved grief until there is evidence of their loved one's fate.

Some identifications have already come from such time-honored techniques as autopsies and studies of dental records, X-rays or fingerprints. Some people have been identified by scars, rings or other pieces of jewelry.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/25/health/genetics/25DNA.html

YEARS TO BUILD AND MOMENTS TO DESTROY: HOW THE TWIN TOWERS FELL
from The New York Times

Little is left but rubble and dust. The degree of destruction at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks seems almost beyond comprehension.

But understanding the natural forces that contributed to the disaster can help explain the destruction of the twin towers, why they came crashing down the way they did and why enormous clouds of dust erupted from the site, experts say.

The buildings contained more than 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete and 600,000 square feet of glass in 43,000 windows. Each floor, a reinforced concrete pad on a metal deck supported by steel cross beams, was about one acre and weighed about 4.8 million pounds.

The general outline of the towers' collapse was well known soon after the terrorist attack: engineers believe that the crash of the 767's and the intense heat generated from thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel weakened and buckled the buildings' steel framework, causing the upper floors to collapse and beginning an unstoppable chain reaction borne along by the force of gravity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/25/science/physical/25TOWE.html

WHEN SCIENCE INADVERTANTLY AIDS AN ENEMY
from The New York Times

In 1975, a 30-year-old electrical engineering researcher at Stanford had an idea for a new kind of cryptography. He thought his method could give the public truly unbreakable codes for their communications and other data, codes even more powerful than those produced by the National Security Agency, the nation's premier code-making and code- breaking agency.

"I remember thinking, `I've got a tiger by the tail,' " said the scientist, Dr. Martin Hellman, now an emeritus professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. Sure enough, the N.S.A. soon stepped in and tried to control the dissemination of the work. The new technology could be so valuable to an enemy, the agency worried, that it should be classified at birth.

Dr. Hellman and others resisted. They said that the agency's threats to restrict them were violations of academic freedom, an unwarranted limitation on their right to publish and discuss new ideas. And they worried about the harm that could be done to national security if the technology were kept from the private sector, leaving its corporate data and private communications vulnerable to eavesdroppers, terrorists and hostile governments.

In the end, the academic scientists prevailed. They freely published their research on how to make codes. And companies soon sprang up to sell them.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/25/science/physical/25TECH.html

SCIENTISTS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO PREVENT TERROR IN THE SKIES
from The San Francisco Chronicle

The recent terrorist attacks have sparked the imaginations of aviation visionaries, who are seeking high-tech ways to prevent such tragedies in the future.

They include a high-tech scheme that would allow ground controllers, in the event of a hijacking, to remotely control an airplane via wireless computer transmissions. That way they could fly the plane to a safe landing, even if every last person on board is disabled or dead.

The remote-control scheme "is technologically feasible" and under study by aircraft manufacturers, although no decision has been made whether to implement it, said Air Force Gen. John Douglass, retired, president of the Aerospace Industries Association.

The military has operated unmanned "drone" aircraft for surveillance purposes for years. Also, many aircraft are already capable of computer- controlled landings. The world's most celebrated aerial vehicle capable of routine automated landings is the space shuttle.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/24/MN24120.DTL&type=science

MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS OFFER HEALING STRATEGIES
from The Assoicated Press

Two weeks after the terrorist attacks, the American flag flies at full-staff. Starbucks is pouring lattes. Barry Bonds is smacking homers. Prince William and Kathie Lee are tabloid headliners. But everyday life in America is still far from normal.

"We were witnesses to mass murder," said Chicago psychiatrist Stevan Weine, who counsels refugees from Bosnia. "History crashed into our lives."

This unexpected vulnerability is "completely new for Americans," he said. "I think it is an illusion to think that life gets back to normal."

The 20th century pulsed with inspiring examples of how everyday people followed their habits and rituals in the face of overwhelming destruction or barbarism. While it may appear futile, psychologists say it's a basic instinct to demonstrate that you're still standing, however monstrous the circumstances.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/105193p-1200649c.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

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Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Darwin's Sanitized Idea

PBS's Evolution is an exercise in creationist appeasement.
By Chris Mooney

http://slate.msn.com/culturebox/entries/01-09-24_115965.asp

Evolution, the glitzy seven-part PBS miniseries airing Sept. 24-27, is surely the most comprehensive presentation of Darwin's theory yet offered by the American mass media. Its motto may be best expressed by Chris Schneider, a Boston University biologist interviewed while collecting specimens in the Ecuadorean rain forest: "Darwin really got it right!" And in its exploration of topics like the role of natural selection in battling HIV and the importance of sex to genetic diversity, Evolution repeatedly demonstrates the wide applicability of Darwin's theory.

But PBS's mainstreaming of Darwinism also trims back some of the theory's more controversial implications. Evolution flatly denies equal time to Darwin's religiously based rivals, Creationism and intelligent design theory, yet the program repeatedly argues that evolution and religion are compatible. If you eat Darwin's theory for your main course, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and others seem to say, you can have religion for dessert. (Slate's Robert Wright has accused Stephen Jay Gould of abetting Creationism. Click here for the charges.)

Dyan Cannon Sued For Faith Healing Flop

Faith-healing actress Dyan Cannon is being sued by a woman who says that instead of making her feel better, she knocked her down and hurt her back.

Cannon claims to heal the sick by placing her hands on them. Her aides routinely catch participants as they fall to the ground after the "healing." But Melody Taylor says when she fell back, no one caught her and she slammed to the ground. Attorney Robert Younger says, "Melody attended the meeting at the urging of a friend. It was a social event. She didn't go there to be healed. As she watched, one by one people filed up on the stage so Dyan could lay hands on them. Melody thought it would be interesting to see what this was all about, so she climbed up on the stage, too. But at the precise moment Melody leaned backward, a man next to her fell. Cannon's staffers ran to catch him and allowed Melody to fall flat on her back."

Pictures from probe's comet close-up to be unveiled - Ananova Alerting

Pictures from Nasa's Deep Space 1 craft's weekend fly-by of comet Borrelly are about to be unveiled.

Scientists will hold a press conference in California later in the day where they will make the results public.

The three-year-old probe completed its primary mission two years ago.

A news conference will take place this evening at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

*Space story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_407255.html


Monday, September 24, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 24, 2001

DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGIES TO MAKE AIRPORTS, AIR TRAVEL SAFER
from The Los Angeles Times Syndicate

From his office window in Jersey City, Joseph Atick stared across the Hudson River to lower Manhattan and was jolted by the sight of twin skyscrapers set aflame by hijacked passenger jets.

"It was just unbelievable," said Atick, who lost a friend in the Sept. 11 attack. "To see the skyline altered once and for all without the World Trade Center is a major shock."

It took several hours for the reality to set in. But once it did, Atick and his colleagues at Visionics Corp. redoubled their efforts to create a security system that can identify terrorists and other criminals by studying their faces.

"We feel we're doing something to help this country defend itself," said Atick, chief executive and co-founder of the 7-year-old company.

Across the country and around the world, companies such as Visionics are developing technologies designed to make airports and air travel safer. In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks against the United States, government officials and security experts are looking for ways to speed these technologies' transition from research laboratories to airport ticket counters and boarding gates.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/104458p-1198815c.html

DEFENSE MAY BE INADEQUATE FOR GERM OR TOXIC ATTACKS
from The New York Times

Minutes after two jets slammed into the World Trade Center, an elite team of 22 soldiers was ordered from its base in Scotia, N.Y., to the scene of the disaster, the world's worst terror attack.

By 8:30 that night, the unit had deployed special gear in New York City and was quietly sampling the air, making sure the terrorists had released no deadly germs or toxic chemicals, which in theory could cause widespread illness and death.

No such dangers were found. But despite the fast start, experts say civil defenses across the nation are a rudimentary patchwork that could prove inadequate for what might lie ahead, especially lethal germs, which are considered some of the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction. Many experts approve of President Bush's decision to appoint a cabinet secretary for Homeland Security, calling it an important step toward protecting civilians against terrorist arms.

The emergency teams "did very well in dealing with this attack," Tara O'Toole, a physician at the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview. "But we've never really had a test of the hospital system where people in large numbers required sophisticated medical care."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/national/23GERM.html

FROM 5,000 FEET UP, MAPPING TERRAIN FOR GROUND ZERO WORKERS
from The New York Times

Using a laser-based instrument, scientists are making accurate topographic images of ground zero, in hopes that they can help firefighters and rescue workers navigate the mounds and chasms of debris and identify areas that may shift or collapse.

A week ago, with billows of gray smoke still pouring from the remnants of the World Trade Center, a twin-propeller plane flew 5,000 feet overhead, bouncing pulses of infrared laser light off the scarred terrain below.

The resulting pictures show craters that drop at least 30 feet below street level. A corner of a jagged wall is what remains of the 110-story south tower. Even less sticks up from the site of the north tower.

"This was the first clear view of the damaged area," said Sean C. Ahearn, director of the Center for the Analysis and Research of Spatial Information at Hunter College, where researchers are transforming the data collected by the instrument into haunting three- dimensional images of devastation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/nyregion/23TOPO.html

NASA SPACECRAFT CAPTURES IMAGES OF COMET BORRELLY
from The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - A NASA spacecraft captured images of a comet during a weekend flyby, providing scientists only their second glimpse ever of the core of one of the glowing bodies of ice and dust.

Scientists said the Deep Space 1 probe flew within 1,360 miles of the comet Borrelly, capturing as many as 50 images of its nucleus at varying resolutions. Scientists expect to receive the last images and other data from the spacecraft by Monday.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials say they will not release any images or data from the flyby until Tuesday. However, scientists gave hints of what the spacecraft saw and recorded, including pictures of dust and ice boiling off the comet's surface.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/103248p-1192247c.html

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Articles of Note

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

It has been some time since our last "Articles of Note." I hope we can get back to a regular schedule of sending this out up to a couple times a week. I want to thank Joe Littrell again for providing many of the stories that make up these releases.

From Skeptical Physicist David Willey:

Hi folks if all goes as planned I'll be back on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on either Sept. 27 or 28, they don't know which yet, I'm going to drop him into a huge tank of quicksand I think, cheers David

Medical truths are no strangers to fiction
By Stephanie Stapleton
American Medical News

http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_01/hlsc0910.htm

"They are known as urban legends or contemporary myths -- sometimes even old wives' tales. Although the topics relate to a variety of experiences, a large number are linked to current health concerns -- from HIV, hantavirus and West Nile virus to cancer and other dreaded diseases. Most often, they do not ring true."

Catalina (a.k.a. Katya, a.k.a. Catia) Rivas (a.k.a. de Arze, a.k.a. Arce)
by Robert T. Carroll
Skeptic's Dictionary

http://skepdic.com/rivas.html

"Catalina Rivas is almost certainly a pious fraud."

French start to smash guru statue
September 5, 2001

http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/09/05/france.statue/index.html

CASTELLANE, France -- French police have begun to demolish a giant concrete statue of a cult leader built illegally in the hills of the Alps.

Archbishop: Mother Teresa Had 'Evil Spirit' Expelled
Associated Press

http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/teresa010906.html

"Mother Teresa had an exorcism performed on her while she was hospitalized in 1997, the Archbishop of Calcutta said Wednesday."

Meteor Was Really Space Junk, Magazine Says
WCVB

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/wcvb/20010906/lo/901217_1.html

"What appeared to be a space phenomenon Thursday morning turned out to be space debris instead."

HUD report: Anti-drug money used on incense, wellness seminars
Philadelphia Daily News

http://dailynews.philly.com:80/content/daily_news/2001/09/06/national/WIRB06W.htm

"Taxpayer money meant to fight drugs in public housing was wasted on incense, gemstones and a program to tell tenants what colors to wear and what Greek gods they take after, auditors said yesterday."

Dialing down 809 legend
Philadelphia Daily News

http://dailynews.philly.com:80/content/daily_news/2001/09/06/local/RIPP06C.htm

"WONDER OF wonders. There's actually a helpful urban legend."

Web Legends; A Serious Comedian; Trolling for Dreams
By PAMELA LiCALZI O'CONNELL
New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/06/technology/circuits/06DIAR.html

"Every so often my e-mail box gets Turklebaumed. I'm coining a phrase here, but the usage has been approved by David Emery, who follows the strange world of Net hoaxes and other misinformation for the Web directory About.com (urbanlegends.about.com)."

Skeptics plan center to debunk fringe science, psychic claims
By Robert Jablon
ASSOCIATED PRESS

September 8, 2001

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20010908-0003-badscience.html

LOS ANGELES -- With the motto "The Bunk Stops Here," an international skeptics' group is opening a Hollywood media center to promote its views on everything from UFOs to speaking with the dead.

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 21, 2001

NEW YORK'S BIG CLEANUP COULD BE GOING STRONG FOR MORE THAN A YEAR
from The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK - The World Trade Center plaza is a smoldering mess that will require a monumental cleanup effort. What makes the removal far more complex than the typical demolition project is the fact that ground zero is also the site of a crime scene.

Several thousand tons of rubble have been pulled away, but the mountains of I-beams, concrete, and broken glass still stand several stories tall.

The entire plaza was built with 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 600,000 square feet of glass.

Working behind the machines digging into layers of debris, hard-hat workers, firefighters, police officers, and volunteers proceed cautiously to avoid collapsing gaps in the 150-foot heap of rubble where survivors might be trapped.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0920/p12s1-sten.html

BIT BY BIT, ANCIENT SOCIETY REEMERGES ON ISLAND OFF VENTURA COUNTY COAST
from The Los Angeles Times

Navy archeologist Steve Schwartz stands in a room on far-off San Nicolas Island, holding a heavy stone bowl. He is very likely one of the first people to touch it since a Nicoleno Indian ate dinner from it thousands of years ago.

This item--and hundreds of others that constitute some of the last remaining evidence of a long-gone society--are his responsibility.

It is he who is trying to analyze results from 12 years of excavation to learn more about a society that left traces only here, 60 miles off the Ventura County coast. The room is full of shelves, covered with items made up to 10,000 years ago. Fishhooks, mortar, bits of basket, seaweed rope, seemingly unidentifiable bits of bone that Schwartz points to as a pestle, or a knife, or, if even he doesn't know, simply a "tool."

It's a museum-worthy collection of parts, bagged, tagged and stacked onto shelves a 10-hour boat ride from the mainland, in a storeroom on a wind-swept rock that has never been home to more than several hundred residents in the nearly 10,000 years it has been populated.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000075756sep21.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

RESEARCHER SUSPECTS ATLANTIS LIES OFF GRIBRALTAR
from Agence France-Presse

PARIS - The lost realm of Atlantis, which as legend has it was a thriving island civilization until it was consumed by the sea 11,000 years ago, can be found off Gibraltar, a French researcher says.

Claims about Atlantis are usually filed alongside accounts of crop circles and abductions by aliens but this one is published in a prestigious French journal, Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences (Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences).

The author, Jacques Collina-Girard of the University of the Mediterranean at Aix-en-Provence, says ancient writings about the mythic island concur astonishingly with geological evidence.

Atlantis is first recorded by the Greek philosopher Plato, drawn from oral history collected in Egypt by the writer Critias.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/90346p-1162588c.html

WAR OVER DARWIN EXAMINED IN 'EVOLUTION'
from The Christian Science Monitor

PASADENA, CALIF. - "Evolution" means change. But the theory of evolution means war - at least for certain religious groups that take Genesis literally. And the new seven-part, eight-hour series on PBS, Evolution, does its best not only to explain Charles Darwin's theory of the origins of material life, but to take seriously conservative Christians' religious objections to it.

The two-hour opener is a kind of " 'Masterpiece Theatre' meets 'Nova,' " as one publicity agent puts it. We are introduced to Darwin, a 19th-century gentleman of leisure who loved his wife and children dearly - and was so considerate of his wife's religious feeling that he put off publishing "The Origin of the Species" for years.

He also feared the derision that he knew would come with his dangerous ideas about a common ancestry, variation, and natural selection. (He didn't know about the mechanics of genetic mutation - later discovered by Gregor Mendel.)

Laced throughout the biography are modern illustrations of Darwin's discoveries. Because the theory of evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology, the series details how it has been applied, particularly to medical research.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0921/p19s1-altv.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
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Schoolbook subjects students to religious indoctrination

From: The Textbook League ttl@textbookleague.org

In a letter sent on 21 September, The Textbook League has asked the California State Board of Education to revoke the adoption of a schoolbook that subjects students to religious indoctrination. The book was approved and adopted in 1999 for use in California's public schools. The letter has now been posted on The Textbook League's Web site, at
http://www.textbookleague.org/spjoyh1.htm

Bill Bennetta

Conspiracy Theory

From: BAvery715@aol.com

Apparently the claim that Mossad was behind the WTC attack and that they managed to secretly tip off 4,000 Jews that worked in the building is widely believed in Pakistan:

http://slate.msn.com/code/ThisJustIn/ThisJustIn.asp?Show=9/23/2001&idMessage=8342


Sunday, September 23, 2001

Spineology evolves

http://home-news.excite.ca/news/cp/010921/12/ns-couple-ordered

NS couple ordered to stop giving controversial spineology therapy

Updated: Fri, Sep 21 12:53 PM EDT

HALIFAX (CP) - Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ordered a couple practising a back treatment they call spineology to stop the controversial therapy until a full hearing on complaints from chiropractors. Timothy Kohoot is charged with violating the provincial Chiropractic Act and is to go on trial in provincial court in December. He and his wife, Laura Kohoot, operated the Atlantic Spineology Centre in Bedford, much to the displeasure of the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors. In August, the regulatory body asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary injunction shutting down the Kohoots until the case could be heard. On Tuesday, a judge issued a verbal decision. "The gist of it was the public protection aspect really had to override anything else," said Wanda Lee MacPhee, chairwoman of the college.

A day after the decision, however, Atlantic Spineology Centre became Lifehouse Wellness Centre. The centre's answering service promises clients will receive "the same safe and professional wellness services." Nova Scotia's Registry of Joint Stock Companies lists Timothy Kohoot as a partner in Lifehouse. It came as unwelcome news to the college. "The lawyer's taking appropriate steps, this may be a contempt of court issue," MacPhee said. Reached Thursday, Kohoot said Lifehouse does not offer spineology. "It's a totally different company," he said, adding the services are more educational, but there is some "light touch therapy." Kohoot said spineology is a new speciality that doesn't manipulate joints the way chiropractors do, but instead uses a computer scanner to detect stress areas along the spine that could interfere with messages from the brain to the body. Hands or a small electronic instrument are then used to stimulate the nervous system.

Man jailed over 'possessed' jewellery claims

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_405290.html

A debt-ridden odd-job man in Singapore tricked a friend into giving him some jewellery by claiming it was 'possessed' by evil spirits.

Ibrahim Ahmad told his friend the jewellery was making his wife ill and offered to 'exorcise the spirits' so she could recover.

He admitted a charge of cheating and has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Ahmad Mahmid, 40, a surveyor, gave jewellery worth the equivalent of 5,499 to Ibrahim, 44, who then pawned it.

A district court heard that Mr Ahmad grew suspicious when he asked Ibrahim to return the jewellery, and the conman kept making excuses.

He told the police after waiting four months, reports The Straits Times.

In mitigation, Ibrahim said he was having financial problems when he committed the offence.

Man wins lottery 25 years after psychic prediction

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_405038.html

A Sydney factory worker has won a lottery jackpot 25 years after a psychic predicted the windfall.

The 49-year-old won Aus$9 million (3 million) on Australia's Powerball game.

He says he's been expecting a big win for years after it had been predicted during a card reading.

The man, who wants remain anonymous, says: "I've thought for a long time that I'd have a big win, but not this big. It was predicted in my cards about 25 years ago."

He bought the winning ticket from a shop near his home in Cabramatta, The Australian reports.


Friday, September 21, 2001

The Web Fight Against Rumors of War

http://www.onmagazine.com/on-mag/reviews/article/0,9985,175780,00.html

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 20, 2001

ENGINEERS SAY BUILDINGS NEAR TRADE CENTER HELD UP WELL
from The New York Times

Though buildings near the World Trade Center show evidence of damage like blown- out windows or gashes on their facades, none appear to be slumping, leaning or subsiding, and none are in danger of imminent collapse, engineers said yesterday after a detailed series of inspections.

Isolated structural repairs will be required on at least three large office buildings: Bankers Trus, 30 West Broadway and 3 World Financial Center. Many others, like 22 Cortlandt Street, will require more modest exterior repairs, as well as extensive work to windows, heating or ventilating systems, or other damaged parts.

But it is unlikely that any of these or other nearby buildings will need to be demolished, said Richard Tomasetti, president of LZA/Thornton-Tomasetti, the engineering firm the city hired for the assessments.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/20/nyregion/20STRU.html

IDENTIFICATION OF BODIES A HUGE CHALLENGE: FORENSICS EXPERTS FACE DAUNTING, GRIM TASK
from The Boston Herald

NEW YORK - Walking past walls plastered with pictures of the missing, relatives of those lost in the World Trade Center disaster enter the ``grieving center'' on Pier 94 and take the methodical steps required by scientists who have started the largest genetic fingerprinting analysis ever conducted.

Like so many others, Robert Dorf came bearing a toothbrush and hairbrush once used by his brother, Stephen Dorf, of New Milford, N.J., a maintenance worker with Euro Brokers, a securities firm on the 84th floor of the north tower.

``I brought the samples here. I didn't want to procrastinate. I came right down,'' Robert Dorf said, still numbed by the possibility his brother did not survive the tower's collapse.

Once inside, he joined hundreds of other relatives, standing in line to give saliva samples that will be used to create a massive DNA database against which to match the DNA samples created from the thousands of pieces of blood, bone, tissue and hair expected to be collected from the rubble in the next three to four months.

http://www.bostonherald.com/attack/wtc/ausreco09202001.htm

WHALE FOSSILS SHOW LINK TO COWS
from The Los Angeles Times

New fossil discoveries add weight to the conclusion that whales are related to land-based plant-eaters such as cows and hippopotamuses rather than to an extinct group of carnivores, two groups of researchers report.

Scientists have known that whales evolved from four-legged land animals million of years ago. However, which branch of the animal kingdom whales split from has been a matter of debate.

Immunological tests in the 1950s and recent DNA tests have shown a relationship to plant-eating artiodactyls -- hoofed mammals having an even number of toes, such as pigs, cows and hippopotamuses.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-whales-relatives0919sep19.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dscience%2Dheadlines

ARTERIAL DISEASE OFTEN UNDETECTED, STUDY SAYS
from Newsday

Chicago - An artery disease that is strongly linked to heart attacks and strokes is underdiagnosed and undertreated, despite widespread availability of a simple test, a study says.

The research in today's Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, previously estimated to affect about 8 million to 12 million Americans, may be more common.

It also suggests that doctors are overlooking the disease in part because leg pain - considered a classic symptom - may be present in just 10 percent of patients.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hsart192372524sep19.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

QUANTUM THEORY COULD EXPAND THE LIMITS OF COMPUTER CHIPS
from The New York Times

Using principles of quantum theory to manipulate light is the stuff of rarefied research, not the factory floor. But quantum theory may turn out to have surprisingly practical applications in manufacturing faster computer chips.

That is because most microchips are made by optical lithography, a process that uses light to carve the circuits that are etched on chips. The shorter the wavelength of this light, the finer the paths that can be created and the shorter the time electrons need to travel through a circuit. The result is a faster chip.

But a rule of classical optics limits the size of the paths to about half the wavelength of the light used to etch them. Beyond that, the light can't be focused precisely enough to write structures like transistors on the chip. And manufacturing techniques are beginning to approach that limit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/20/technology/20NEXT.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

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http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Storm brews over 'all in mind' theory of ME

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,554693,00.html

Sarah Boseley, health editor
Thursday September 20, 2001
The Guardian

A review which found that the most promising treatments for ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, were psychologically based, was yesterday expected to provoke a storm of protest from those who believe the illness has a physical cause.

Many patients and their support groups are convinced that the condition not only has a physical cause but is probably linked to exposure to environmental chemicals, such as organophosphates. They have angrily rejected suggestions that it could be a psychological reaction to modern pressures.

But a British review of most of the published studies about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) treatment finds that behavioural approaches to the problem hold most hope. A leading British psychiatrist, in a commentary alongside the review - published in the Journal of the American Medical Association - calls for the bitterly split community of CFS patients, carers and doctors, to accept the review and work together to help thousands disabled, or even bedridden, by the condition.

However, Simon Wessely of Guy's, King's and St Thomas's department of psychological medicine, said it was likely the review's authors would be attacked, and warned that vilification of professionals in the field would lead to many more of them leaving their posts.

"It is regrettable but likely that the review article will not be universally welcomed. Some consumers and researchers will make it their mission to discredit the authors and their conclusions," writes Professor Wessely. He said that "destructive ideological fault-lines" were splitting those concerned with CFS. Some patients and doctors would welcome the findings and try to use the most effective methods known to help patients.

But others might see the findings "as confirming their prejudices as to the mental instability of patients with CFS". Prof Wessely said such views were misguided. "Regrettably, the consequences will be to reinforce the fault-lines and confirm the hollowness of the term 'CFS community'."

The conflict has become bitter. Allegations and conspiracy theories have been spread across the internet. Prof Wessely has quit the field - and is not the only professional to have ceased involvement with CFS. He calls for "clinicians who wish to help, and activists who represent the interests of patients", to welcome the review and "determine the direction for coordinating their efforts". If they don't, he predicts more professionals involved in CFS will back out.

"There are many who have found themselves vilified and ... have joined the ranks of others who have been abused and intimidated for producing research unpopular to powerful special interests," he writes.

The review, by Penny Whiting and colleagues at an NHS centre at the University of York, together with collaborators in the US, finds that the research into treatment for CFS is limited and inconclusive. Cognitive behaviour therapy and exercise therapy showed the most promising results. Immunoglobulin and hydrocortisone showed some limited effects.

There was insufficient evidence about the effectiveness of other forms of treatment, including drugs and alternative therapies.


Thursday, September 20, 2001

Subject: Science In the News Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 11:58:20 -0400 From: inthenews To: SCIENCE-IN-THE-NEWS@LISTSERVER.SIGMAXI.ORG The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise. For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: < http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm> If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" which mirrors the daily e-mail update. IN THE NEWS Today's Headlines - September 20, 2001 ENGINEERS SAY BUILDINGS NEAR TRADE CENTER HELD UP WELL from The New York Times Though buildings near the World Trade Center show evidence of damage like blown- out windows or gashes on their facades, none appear to be slumping, leaning or subsiding, and none are in danger of imminent collapse, engineers said yesterday after a detailed series of inspections. Isolated structural repairs will be required on at least three large office buildings: Bankers Trus, 30 West Broadway and 3 World Financial Center. Many others, like 22 Cortlandt Street, will require more modest exterior repairs, as well as extensive work to windows, heating or ventilating systems, or other damaged parts. But it is unlikely that any of these or other nearby buildings will need to be demolished, said Richard Tomasetti, president of LZA/Thornton-Tomasetti, the engineering firm the city hired for the assessments. IDENTIFICATION OF BODIES A HUGE CHALLENGE: FORENSICS EXPERTS FACE DAUNTING, GRIM TASK from The Boston Herald NEW YORK - Walking past walls plastered with pictures of the missing, relatives of those lost in the World Trade Center disaster enter the ``grieving center'' on Pier 94 and take the methodical steps required by scientists who have started the largest genetic fingerprinting analysis ever conducted. Like so many others, Robert Dorf came bearing a toothbrush and hairbrush once used by his brother, Stephen Dorf, of New Milford, N.J., a maintenance worker with Euro Brokers, a securities firm on the 84th floor of the north tower. ``I brought the samples here. I didn't want to procrastinate. I came right down,'' Robert Dorf said, still numbed by the possibility his brother did not survive the tower's collapse. Once inside, he joined hundreds of other relatives, standing in line to give saliva samples that will be used to create a massive DNA database against which to match the DNA samples created from the thousands of pieces of blood, bone, tissue and hair expected to be collected from the rubble in the next three to four months. WHALE FOSSILS SHOW LINK TO COWS from The Los Angeles Times New fossil discoveries add weight to the conclusion that whales are related to land-based plant-eaters such as cows and hippopotamuses rather than to an extinct group of carnivores, two groups of researchers report. Scientists have known that whales evolved from four-legged land animals million of years ago. However, which branch of the animal kingdom whales split from has been a matter of debate. Immunological tests in the 1950s and recent DNA tests have shown a relationship to plant-eating artiodactyls -- hoofed mammals having an even number of toes, such as pigs, cows and hippopotamuses. < http://www.latimes.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-whales-relatives0919sep19.s tory?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dscience%2Dheadlines> ARTERIAL DISEASE OFTEN UNDETECTED, STUDY SAYS from Newsday Chicago - An artery disease that is strongly linked to heart attacks and strokes is underdiagnosed and undertreated, despite widespread availability of a simple test, a study says. The research in today's Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, previously estimated to affect about 8 million to 12 million Americans, may be more common. It also suggests that doctors are overlooking the disease in part because leg pain - considered a classic symptom - may be present in just 10 percent of patients. < http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hsart192372524sep19.story?coll=ny%2Dh ealth%2Dheadlines> QUANTUM THEORY COULD EXPAND THE LIMITS OF COMPUTER CHIPS from The New York Times Using principles of quantum theory to manipulate light is the stuff of rarefied research, not the factory floor. But quantum theory may turn out to have surprisingly practical applications in manufacturing faster computer chips. That is because most microchips are made by optical lithography, a process that uses light to carve the circuits that are etched on chips. The shorter the wavelength of this light, the finer the paths that can be created and the shorter the time electrons need to travel through a circuit. The result is a faster chip. But a rule of classical optics limits the size of the paths to about half the wavelength of the light used to etch them. Beyond that, the light can't be focused precisely enough to write structures like transistors on the chip. And manufacturing techniques are beginning to approach that limit. Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society: Sigma Xi Homepage http://www.sigmaxi.org Media Resource Service http://www.mediaresource.org American Scientist magazine http://www.americanscientist.org For feedback on In the News, mailto:inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Atlantis may be near Gibraltar says researcher

A researcher claims he's found the lost city of Atlantis.

People have speculated about the island's location since Plato famously described it.

Now a scientist has worked out that lower sea levels around 9000BC would have exposed a string of islands near the Straits of Gibraltar.

Jacques Collina-Girard of the University Of The Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence re-mapped the region as it would have looked then to see how humans were able to migrate from Africa to Europe.

One of the islands would have been similar to descriptions of mythical Atlantis, he says.

The Straits had a harbour-like inland sea which Plato said was the setting for Atlantis.

When sea levels rose, as glaciers in the north melted, the islands were engulfed.

Collina-Girard told New Scientist he thinks people island-hopped across the archipelago and some may have settled there.

The main problems with the theory are that the mythical Atlantis was meant to be the size of a continent - not nine miles long - and it would have disappeared 9,000 years before Plato was born.

The research is described in the earth and planetary sciences issue of the French journal, Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences.

Advertising watchdog censures African witchdoctor over 'impotence cure'

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_402322.html?menu=

A Yorkshire-based African witch doctor has been told to stop advertising he can cure impotence and health problems.

The medicine man, known as Mr Madiba, has issued advertising circulars boasting he can banish black magic spells, help with court cases, job problems, exams and even marriage trouble.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against the Bradford-based "spiritual healer", saying he breached their codes.

It received a complaint via the West Yorkshire Trading Standards department about a circular Mr Madiba had distributed.

The ASA said Mr Madiba has been told not to repeat the unsubstantiated claims or refer to serious medical problems in future ads. It also found the claims "exploited the vulnerable".

The witch doctor said he would change his circulars, but was told to consult the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team before advertising again.

Story filed: 09:56 Wednesday 19th September 2001

CSICOP Tracks Misinformation and Hoaxes

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

CONTACT: Kevin Christopher
E-mail: press@csicop.org

CSICOP Tracks Misinformation and Hoaxes in the Wake of the Terrorist Attacks
September 20, 2001

The terrorist attacks in Manhattan, Washington, DC and the Pittsburgh area constitute the most tragic and violent events ever perpetrated in the United States. As with other tragedies, conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and other forms of misinformation crop up almost immediately, playing on people's hopes, fears, and appetite for amazing tales. E-mail has multiplied the speed and extent to which hoaxes, rumors and urban legends spread.

In the interest of public service, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal has created the HoaxWatch Web page (www.csicop.org/hoaxwatch), a source for factual information that debunks much of the claptrap circulating in e-mails, the Internet and elsewhere. We will update this site in reaction to new developments and we're extremely interested in any e-mails or Web sites circulating suspicious information. We ask everyone to please forward any suspicious e-mails or links to our hotline e-mail address at info@csicop.org.

The Launch of the Students for Science & Reason Program

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and Skeptical Inquirer magazine are pleased to announce the launch of the Students for Science and Reason (SSR) Program - the latest development in our continuing effort to reach out and provide outlets for skeptics of all ages.

http://www.youngskeptics.org/ssr

Membership in the SSR is free and open to student groups and individuals, university faculty and high school teachers, as well as off-campus supporters and local groups.

The purpose of the Students for Science and Reason Program is to develop a skeptical presence on university, college and high school campuses across the world, raise awareness about the need for critical inquiry in all realms and provide a voice for science and reason - increasing its volume to global proportions.

The mission of the organization is to promote science, skepticism and critical inquiry through educational programs, outreach efforts, events and activity. The primary tools of our mission are education and investigation.

The program will unfold via the Internet at
http://www.youngskeptics.org/ssr

Students for Science and Reason is a science and educational-based program rather than a primarily activist organization. SSR restricts itself to empirically-based claims - those ideas and beliefs that can be objectively tested and potentially verified.

Programming and development for this first year will include reaching out to students and educators around the world, securing representation within schools across North America and working to develop resources and programs for campus communities and local area efforts. Joint projects with the Young Skeptics Program (http://www.youngskeptics.org) and other CSICOP developments will also be undertaken.

Site visitors and CSICOP and SSR members are encouraged to support our efforts by signing:

The Skeptical Perspective:
http://www.youngskeptics.org/ssr/perspective.html

The Skeptical Perspective provides an overview of our position and our commitment to the tools of science, skepticism and critical inquiry - tools that generate understanding and knowledge and provide our global community with the ability to face the challenges of the 21st Century. Challenges that just got harder.

Please join us!

http://www.youngskeptics.org/ssr

For more information, contact CSICOP Program Director Amanda Chesworth at
a.human@mindspring.com

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 19, 2001

BACTERIA, VIRUSES POSE GRAVE THREAT, EXPERTS SAY
from The San Francisco Chronicle

In the wake of the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last week, concerns are rising among scientists, defense experts and emergency management officials over the possibility that biological weapons will become the next tactic of international terrorism.

If terrorists can use aircraft as missiles -- and target them at the most vulnerable points in giant buildings -- the fear is that terrorist groups could use human recruits as martyrs to spread lethal batches of bacteria and viruses into American cities, causing disease and death on a massive scale.

Some of the biological agents, long stockpiled by the former Soviet Union, are known to exist still in an economically disrupted Russia where the materials can easily leak into the black market and find eager buyers.

A State Department report lists Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria as "state sponsors of terrorism" that are "possible government sources of biological seed cultures and weapons expertise."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/18/MN230077.DTL&type=science

VOLUNTEER ENGINEERS EVALUATE DAMAGE
from Newsday

In an unparalleled mobilization, professional engineers from more than 20 New York-based firms have launched a major structural assessment of buildings ringing the ruined World Trade Center complex.

The task began Monday and continued through yesterday evening, with a focus on structures contained within a rough square bordered by Chambers Street to the north, Rector and Wall streets to the south, the Hudson River to the west and Williams Street and Broadway to the east. Results of this inspection had not been released as of last night.

Improvising in the face of an unprecedented challenge, engineers have adapted an evaluation system originally developed for on-the-spot inspections of earthquake-damaged buildings.

http://www.newsday.com/news/ny-hsbldg192372609sep19.story?coll=ny%2Dtop%2Dheadlines

DUST FROM WORLD TRADE CENTER COLLAPSE TESTED FOR HEALTH EFFECTS
from The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer

RALEIGH, N.C. - One day after the attack on the World Trade Center, researchers collected 13 vials of undisturbed dust from the acres of gray soot blanketing Lower Manhattan. Those samples will be analyzed as part of a study into the health of rescue workers, survivors and others who inhaled the pulverized remains of the twin towers.

Thousands of New Yorkers have already donned dust masks and respirators out of fear that toxic substances from the debris are coating people's lungs. The Environmental Protection Agency has downplayed the threat posed by one much-feared pollutant, asbestos. But scientists caution that they still don't know how dangerous the dust is.

"I honestly don't know what's in there," said Christopher Portier, director of environmental toxicology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park. Portier wrote a list of 200 dangerous compounds that could have been created by the fire and collapse. But without more information, he wouldn't speculate on whether the dust would eventually add to the toll of dead and wounded.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/81301p-1132846c.html

EXPERTS: HEALING WILL TAKE TIME
from The Boston Herald

The overwhelming mood of sadness that has engulfed the country for the past week as a result of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon may not lift for a long time, experts say.

``It's not going to recede into the background,'' said Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. ``It's not over. This is just a beginning. These are the first casualties of war.''

The feelings of grief and sadness being experienced by many Americans stem from a combination of trauma and terror, he said.

``It's a national mood of grieving,'' Rosenbaum said. ``We're grieving the loss of these lives. But we are also feeling terror. We're being stalked and hunted. That's new.''

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/ausheal09192001.htm

HIGH-TECH SECURITY TOOLS GET A SECOND LOOK
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Security specialists are taking another look at technologies that seemed out of the question before last week's terrorist attack on the East Coast.

Nobody expects any high-tech solution will erase America's new sense of insecurity. But there are some innovative approaches that could find a place, and particularly promising are recent advances in low-dose X-ray scanning.

A commercial "backscatter X-ray" system capable of seeing what's under a person's clothing -- including plastic weapons or explosives -- was installed in 1997 as an experiment at the Montana State Prison, a 1,300-inmate facility at Deer Lodge, Mont.

Warden Michael Mahoney says the prison is now scanning about 300 inmates twice daily as they move back and forth between work areas and their cellblocks.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/17/MN201831.DTL&type=science

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org



Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Nostradamus Did Not Predict WTC Attack

http://news.excite.com/news/r/010913/08/odd-prophecy-dc

Reuters via ExciteNews, September 13 2001

Chinese healer 'conned patients out of TVs'

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_401578.html?menu=

A Chinese healer who tried to cure patients with folk remedies has been arrested for allegedly conning them out of household goods.

Liu Lanhua, 62, claimed supernatural powers and her dreams could help her cure the sick.

But she was arrested by police in Liuzhou and the Wulong township, because she was suspected of conning patients out of televisions and washing machines.

Police carried out a raid on her three homes in Shiguan village and found 10 truckloads of new or barely used colour televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, VCD players, 113 steel beds and more than 300 blankets.

The South China Morning Post, reporting the Beijing Youth Daily, said police are still investigating the case.

The Chinese government is trying to stamp out unscientific beliefs and cults.

Tooth relic may bring rain to drought-hit Sri Lanka

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_401543.html?menu=

A tooth believed to be Buddha's is to be put on public display in Sri Lanka in a bid to end the worst drought in 50 years.

Thousands of Buddhist monks and devotees will get the chance to see the relic at Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, during a two-week long ritual beginning on September 22.

It is believed that displaying the tooth in public will help invoke divine blessings and bring much-needed rain to the region.

According to old records at the temple, similar events have brought abundant rain in the past.

The relic is believed to have been taken to the island in the 4th century AD by a Princess from the Indian state of Orissa, who carried it hidden in her hair so human hands wouldn't defile it.

It was last seen in 1994 when it was brought out to give Buddhists an opportunity to pray for the country.

This month, the Indo Asian News Service says the tooth relic will be taken out of its golden, gem-studded casket, embedded in six other similar caskets, and placed on a crystal stand given by the people of Thailand.

Unprecedented security arrangements have been made around the shrine in Kandy. The temple was damaged by Tamil rebels in 1998 but the relic was unharmed.

Letter and response on a local alt. med. center

From: Thomas J. Wheeler

Part of the growing business in complementary and alternative medicine is the incorporation of unscientific therapies into programs offered by regular medical centers.

This summer, a hospital in Louisville opened a new so-called "Mind-Body Medicine" center, providing not what I consider to be mind-body medicine (e.g., meditation, visualization, various relaxation techniques), but rather the following collection of unconventional approaches (some of which are usually classified as "bodywork"): Amma Therapy; massage therapy; reflexology; reiki; Healing Touch; aromatherapy; Raindrop Therapy; and spiritual direction.

I had heard of "Amma Therapy" before when a local holistic nurse promoted it to the state Task Force on CAM; a web search revealed that it was one of those trademarked techniques which someone invents and then sells through training courses and seminars. It is described as follows: "Derived from traditional Chinese medicine, Amma Therapy is a massage technique that involves pressing certain points on your body to promote circulation or to relieve pain"; i.e., a type of acupressure.

"Raindrop Therapy was new to me. It is described as "a simple application of dropping oils like little drops of rain from about six inches above your body. It is designed to bring your body into balance and help align the energy centers of the body, releasing any blockages in them."

The opening of the center was described in a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal:

http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2001/07/31/ke073101s58679.htm

There is also a press release from the hospital; go to
http://www.nortonhealthcare.com/topstories/default.htm
and select the story for 7/31.

I visited the center, and found that in addition to the items listed above, they were offering massage with magnets or while on a magnetic mattress, and planned in the future to offer craniosacral balancing.

I wrote a letter to the editor, which was published last week:
*********************

A July 31 article reported on the opening of a new "Mind-Body Medicine" center at Norton Healthcare Pavilion. The area of mind-body medicine is among the most respectable of complementary therapies, with some degree of research support and utilization in mainstream medical centers. However, the name of the new center is misleading, since its focus is not on those approaches generally regarded as mind-body medicine. Rather, it offers a variety of approaches based on mystical and pseudoscientific principles. For example, reflexology is based on the idea that the entire body is represented in a small part of the body (such as the foot), and that massage can bring about healing in the corresponding area. This is inconsistent with scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology. The center also offers massage with magnetic devices, which makes no sense since magnets of the type being used cannot produce any medical benefits.

Several of the therapies are supposed to affect the flow and balance of the body's "energy." A physician was quoted as saying: "Scientifically, we have found that there is an energy field around anything alive." This is false. (While electrically active organs like the heart and brain produce fields which can be measured outside the body, these have nothing to do with the mystical "energy fields" claimed by promoters of unconventional therapies.) Patients should be wary of practitioners who claim to remove "obstructions to the body's energy flow," "align the energy centers of the body" (as noted in the center's promotional material for the case of "raindrop therapy"), etc. It is unfortunate that Norton Healthcare is promoting such nonsense.

Massage and relaxation techniques can certainly be valuable parts of health care for some patients. However, these therapies should be obtained from practitioners who do not make unwarranted claims about how they work and what they can do.
**********************

The newspaper also printed a response from the co-managers of the center:

Norton Mind-Body Medicine opened its doors in the Norton Healthcare Pavilion on July 30 largely in response to the requests of our cancer patients who found some of the programs we offered through Norton Cancer Resource Center, such as massage and art therapy, to be comforting and complementary to ongoing medical care.

The services offered by Norton Mind-Body Medicine are intended not as an alternative but as a complement to traditional care. Norton Healthcare is happy to be able to offer them to patients who find the services a good way to escape the stress and discomfort of their medical treatments. In turn, it is generally recognized that stress relief and improved mental outlook can make patients more tolerant of their standard medical care.

Our services - which include acupressure, massage therapy, reflexology and Reiki - are provided by certified practitioners and are available to the public as well.

We chose the name of our new health program to reflect Norton Healthcare's focus on the whole patient. While we tend first to patients' medical needs, we want to be attentive to their mental and spiritual well-being as well.

Rest assured, Norton Healthcare is not abandoning traditional medicine. As our patients have taught us, however, it is possible to complement traditional care with both ancient and new methods. The goal of Norton Mind-Body Medicine is simply to provide people with other ways to put comfort and pleasure into their lives.
*************************************

Some comments:

1. The directors did not address the point about how they are promoting ideas inconsistent with scientific knowledge. Rather, they suggest that because some complementary programs (such as massage and art therapy, which might be offered in a scientifically respectable manner) are popular, others should be offered (even though they might be ridiculous from a scientific standpoint).

2. Yes, "stress relief and improved mental outlook can make patients more tolerant of their standard medical care," but this can be brought about with methods which do not contradict scientific principles.

3. Whether the therapies are provided by "certified practitioners" is irrelevant if the therapies are invalid. One can invent a new method such as "Raindrop Therapy," train people in how to do it, and "certify" people who learn what you teach them even if the underlying principles are unscientific and there is no evidence that the therapy is useful.

4. Conventional scientific medicine, when carried out properly, also deals with the whole patient, including psychological needs.

5. The hospital may not be "abandoning" what they refer to as "traditional" medicine (apparently they mean conventional, science-based medicine), but it undermines it when it endorses methods not known to work and which conflict with scientific knowledge.

6. As for providing "people with other ways to put comfort and pleasure into their lives," I think some comments from David Ramey in his letter to BMJ (322:1485, 2001) are relevant: "We are not talking about living the good life...Medicine cannot fulfil every human need...Medicine can't be everything to everyone, and it should stop trying."

Truth or Fiction

Because of all the eRumors about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we now have a "subject" category for that on the menu at the left titled "Attack on America."

http://www.truthorfiction.com


Tuesday, September 18, 2001

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (UFO)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu

http://www.csicop.org/bib/600
-----------------------------
UFOs And Popular Culture: An Encyclopedia
James R. Lewis, ed.
2000, ABC-Clio; xl+393p., illustrated.
Foreword by Thomas E. Bullard
psychology, religion:defense, religion:sociology, UFO,
UFO:defense, UFO:history, UFO:methodology

Perhaps the most interesting, up to date, and rewarding UFO encyclopedia around. It mainly takes a religious studies point of view, trying to understand the human side of UFO beliefs. Skeptics will not like all of it -- few of the contributors appreciate why scientists remain skeptical, and so fall victim to the occasonal howler like considering Cremo & Thompson's Forbidden Archeology as a credible source. It also sometimes caricaturizes skeptics and debunkers as materialist fundamentalists, and in a few instances wanders off into humanities jargon and indulges its preoccupation with affirming religion. Even so, this encyclopedia summarizes a wealth of information, including pop-culture sources, and is valuable in directing skeptical attention beyond the debate over the existence of flying saucers. If UFOs are a myth, we need to understand how this myth is generated and how it functions in our societies. This encyclopedia is very helpful as background for this task.

Visit the full bibliography at
http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Salon.com | Nostradamus called it!

From: James Redekop

Salon on the kooks

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/09/17/kooks/index.html

I Foresaw It!

From: Jerry Goodenough

Just to show that when it comes to shameless self-publicity, the British can match anybody.... From last Saturday's Daily Mirror:

I FORESAW IT!
by Ruki Sayid

Mirror astrologer Steve Judd predicted a catastrophe involving America - and possibly Afghanistan - nearly six weeks ago.

Judd - part of our renowned Jonathan Cainer team - was close to tears yesterday as he recalled his prophecy of August 6.

The key, he wrote, was the opposition of two planets, Saturn in Gemini and Pluto in Sagittarius. Judd said this occurred every 35 years "from last night until May 2002".

He wrote: "The opposition hits the US horoscope powerfully and immense changes in American political, financial and even constitutional circles are more than possible - even probable."

Judd, who specialises in charting the fortunes of nations, warned the world to expect an "intensification, and hopefully resolution of religious conflict worldwide (Israel, N.Ireland and Afghanistan etc)... while extremism will rise in the short-term".

Judd, 46, sais yesterday: "I knew as early as 1994 that something cataclysmic was going to happen. There was an intensification in America's chart from 1999 to 2002."

A similar picture was apparent just before Vietnam and when the US entered the Second World War.

Judd added: "On Tuesday, I was appalled that astrologers are not taken seriously." He believes there is worse to come in the next six or seven months, with stability to follow from the end of May next year.

Ghost of 17th century nobleman causing havoc with Edinburgh tourists

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_401101.html

The ghost of a 17th century nobleman is being blamed for 20 attacks in the last month at an Edinburgh tourist attraction.

Tourists visiting the Covenanters Prison in Greyfriars Kirk have been scratched, bruised, knocked to the ground, suffered nausea and welt marks.

Sir George MacKenzie is known as a notorious poltergeist around Edinburgh and is thought to have been lashing out over the last month.

Jan Henderson, of the City of the Dead Tour at the Kirk, said: "I have no idea why there has been such an increase in this spate of attacks.

"All the tour guides are experiencing tourists passing out, being scratched and bruised. I think it is great because when I started the tours I was a cynic, so if there is something there then wonderful."

He claimed the tourists were all falling down at the same point which shows it isn't psychosomatic, reports the Edinburgh Evening News.

Ghostly adverts scare subway commuters

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_400639.html?menu=

Film posters showing five ghostly figures on display at a Taiwan subway station have upset passengers.

The image shows five weary-looking figures and a Chinese funeral paper doll seated on a train.

Commuters say that when their train passed the poster, they thought they were seeing ghosts on a train travelling in the opposite direction.

The posters advertising a film by Hong Kong director Ann Hui were displayed during the local Hungry Ghost Festival.

"It's frightening! I thought I was seeing ghosts especially since the ghost month has yet to end," commuter Tracy Chin told The Straits Times.

The poster is advertising Ann Hui's latest film Visible Secret.

City councillors have criticised the Mass Rapid Transit company and the government over the use of such advertising images.

Discussions about what is suitable for public display have been on-going since the lifting of the publication censorship regulation in the early 1990s.


Monday, September 17, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - September 17, 2001

EXPERTS SAY U.S. UNPREPARED FOR GERM WARFARE
from The Associated Press

As devastating as this week's attacks in New York and Washington were, national security and public health experts know this much: It could be worse. There are weapons that are invisible and next-to-impossible to trace.

A whiff of nerve gas. A droplet of anthrax. A particle of smallpox.

Infectious or toxic weapons in skilled hands could cause considerably more casualties among ordinary Americans than the estimated 5,000 dead and missing at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The use of biological or chemical weapons - described by some as the poor man's atomic bomb - is a sensitive topic, especially now.

Experts caution that a bioterrorism attack here is not inevitable. Their opinions are the products of war games rather than an immediate and real threat.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/80039p-1117360c.html

SECURITY TIGHTENED AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
from The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria - Security is being tightened at the world's nuclear power plants, an international watchdog agency said Monday, but the agency conceded that little can be done to shield a nuclear facility from a direct hit by an airliner.

Most nuclear power plants were built during the 1960s and 1970s, and like the World Trade Center, they were designed to withstand only accidental impacts from the smaller aircraft widely used at the time, the International Atomic Energy Agency said as it opened its annual conference.

"If you postulate the risk of a jumbo jet full of fuel, it is clear that their design was not conceived to withstand such an impact," spokesman David Kyd said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was among delegates from 132 nations who opened the conference with calls to better safeguard nuclear plants and keep nuclear materials out of terrorists' hands.

http://www.nando.net/special_reports/terrorism/impact/story/80337p-1121792c.html

RUSSIA ADDS MODULE TO SPACE STATION
from The New York Times

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A Russian docking compartment pulled up at the international space station late Sunday, adding another module to the orbiting complex.

The 16-foot-long compartment hooked automatically onto the Russian side of the space station, two days after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan.

``We felt that,'' commander Frank Culbertson told Mission Control at the moment of contact, high above Mongolia. Added one of his Russian crewmates: ``We have a beautiful item on the station and also we had a beautiful view.''

The three space station residents monitored the final approach through cameras.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/science/AP-Space-Station.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
inthenews@sigmaxi.org

On Alien Abductions

http://www.superosity.com/comics/sup20010917.gif

Pyshic told chat show about Trade Centre attack months ago

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_400991.html

A British psychic predicted the World Trade Centre plane attack on a TV chat show months ago.

Valerie Clarke was taking part in a Kilroy programme about dreams when she told of her vision of an explosion in one of the towers.

She says her blood turned cold when her dream became reality last week. BBC bosses have invited her back for a follow-up show.

A BBC spokesman told Ananova: "During the first show she said she had dreamt about a plane crashing into a tower.

"When she described the dream in greater detail it turned out to be the World Trade Centre. We've invited her back for another show."

Mrs Clarke, 30, of Chorley, Lancashire told the Lancashire Evening Post: "I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach - but it wasn't a shock.

Mrs Clarke says she has been haunted by the dream for several years.

'Mental health' hotline a blind lead

From: snopes snopes@snopes.com

http://www.sptimes.com/News/091501/Worldandnation/_Mental_health__hotli.shtml

Television viewers who turned to Fox News on Friday for coverage of the terrorist attack also saw a message scrolling across the bottom of their screens -- National Mental Health Assistance: 800-FOR-TRUTH.

Unknown to the cable news channel, the phone number connects to a Church of Scientology center in Los Angeles, where Scientologists were manning the phones.

"Weird Science" course proposal

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 15:41:50 -0700

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu

Seems too ordinary in an extraordinary day, but...

I've put up my proposal for a "Science and the Paranormal" type of course I want to teach up on the web, at

http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/JINS-proposal.pdf

You're welcome to take a look, and comment if you want to. Bear in mind, though, that I have to propose a rather specific sort of interdisciplinary course, so I might not be able to respond to comments involving major changes. Part of the document towards the end is also there to convince reviewers that the course fits the requirements, so you won't miss much if you skip them.

Taner Edis -- http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/


Sunday, September 16, 2001

"Editor's Note: Ben Curtis has kindly allowed us to re-post this message, originally sent to the Web405 list, about misinformation related to the September 11th attack. Thanks to Ben, and peace to all affected by these horrific events."

From:

http://purportal.com/special/9-11/


Saturday, September 15, 2001

Brainwashing ads can change our childhood - Ananova Alerting

Psychologists say adverts can alter people's childhood memories, making them recall events that never happened.

Volunteers have been shown a mock-up advert in which Disney World visitors shake hands with a Bugs Bunny character.

The subjects ended up believing they had done the same on a visit there, even though Bugs Bunny isn't a Disney character.

Researchers, led by Professor Elizabeth Loftus at the University of Washington in Seattle, said: "We found that autobiographically-focused advertising can make events seem more likely to have happened to them as children."

One soft-drink manufacturer in the US has discovered many adults remember growing up drinking its product from bottles even though full-scale distribution only began 10 years ago.

The findings were presented today at the British Association annual science festival taking place at Glasgow University.

*Amazing science story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_389396.html

It Came From Outer Space

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/flu_in_space_000121.html
http://www.panspermia.org/panfluenza.htm

Germs from Outer Space! Researchers
Say Flu Bugs Rain
Down from Beyond
By Robert Roy Britt

Senior Science Writer
posted: 02:13 pm ET
21 January 2000

Your stomach cramps up. Fever skyrockets. Your whole body aches. And it's not just you. An influenza pandemic has broken out. Everybody is passing it to everybody. Right?

Maybe not. It could be that increasingly frequent sunspots are driving the virus out of the stratosphere and into your body.

So say Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe of the University of Wales at Cardiff. And while there is much doubt by many other scientists that the flu comes from space, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are generating a lot of interest with their idea.


Friday, September 14, 2001

Sylvia Browne pops up!

Self-professed psychic Sylvia Browne has a talent just revealed. She knows how to exploit death and suffering of others to promote herself.

Her Web site at http://www.sylvia.org/home/index.cfm features a most audacious pop-up:

Sylvia has been given the following information regarding the attack:
  • Osama bin Laden and another group is behind the attack;
  • Be aware of "Triad of Jordan" and "Palestinian Republic of Bundi";
  • A weapon or bomb known as the "Z" was involved with the aircraft;
  • Two names to watch for (phonetic spelling) - Mohammed Karema and Zehar Mentusi.
Sylvia did not get advance warning because she is not omniscient. Her list of predictions in 1999 warned of terrorism, but clearly the timing was wrong. Please pray for the wellbeing of the victims and their families, and focus your anger on helping other people rather than seeking revenge.
On her Web site Sylvia explains further:
Sylvia is truly on a mission for God. Simply put, she is determined to show the world that the soul survives death. In addition she wants to emphasize that God, both Father and Mother God, are infinitely loving Beings, not full of wrath and hate as represented by many of today's religions. Sylvia feels that all people can reach God by knowledge and reason, rather than relying upon faith alone. For any question your mind can raise, God will provide an answer; the trick is being able to understand that answer - which Sylvia does on a daily basis, and it gets stronger and stronger with each person she counsels.

To help Sylvia on this mission, God gave her a psychic ability that is unmatched by anyone, which is evident to all who have seen her work on television shows. Many times she has appeared on the Montel Williams Show, Leeza, Unsolved Mysteries, etc; where her astonishing insights and communications with the dead are nothing short of miraculous.




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