NTS LogoSkeptical News for 26 October 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, October 26, 2001

Spirit possession and how to avoid it

Thanks to:
http://www.anomalist.com/
For the source of this story
-------------------------------------

This story was taken from www.inq7.net

URL: http://www.inq7.net/lif/2001/oct/23/text/lif_5-1-p.htm

Spirit possession and how to avoid it
Posted:7:53 PM (Manila Time) | October 22, 2001
Inquirer News Service

IF sexual harassment is defined as "unwelcome attention," then possession may be defined as "unwelcome intrusion of interference by a spirit into one's thoughts, will and/or body."

Anyone can be a victim of evil spirits or demonic possession. Even very religious and prayerful persons have been known to be possessed.

Modern western psychology and psychiatry do not consider demonic possession to be a clinical reality. However, more enlightened practitioners and researchers now feel that certain types of psychosis (such as schizophrenia), or any sudden or radical change in behavior, can be signs of spirit possession.

What kinds of spirits do this? Why do they possess the living? What is their purpose?

This is how Brad Steiger, a well-known prolific American psychic researcher and author explains it:

"Current modalities of the universe maintain that energy can never be destroyed. Therefore, it is reasoned, even though we may discard our bodies at death, the Soul energy that we have created during our lifetime exists even after we have died. At death, this psychic energy force separates itself from the body and begins a new existence on the spirit level.

"A number of parapsychologists have declared that there may be very little difference between the two worlds. The electromagnetic structure of the soul continues to have the same habits, thoughts, memories, feelings and flaws as existing in the physical plane.

"Thus, if a person has spent his entire existence in pursuit of pleasure, the psychic soul personality will experience the same mediumistic drives after death. He will attempt to return to all his old, pleasurable places.

"Think of the tremendous, unresolved shock when someone dies unexpectedly and enters the spirit world. And if there were additional negative factors, such as a feud left unsettled, an old score left unpaid, an argument left unresolved, then that spirit might hunger to return to the physical world and obtain vengeance."

Such a negative and earthbound spirit may seek to attach itself to a susceptible person and make him or her do things unnatural to and against his or her will. Such spirits become parasites.

Signs of spirit possession

Any or a combination of the following behavior pattern is indicative of spirit or demonic possession:

1. Hearing voices directing the person to perform acts he may not have considered doing.

2. He or she will frequently see or sense the image of the possessing spirit as it existed in its physical life.

3. The victim may blackout or faint without knowing what transpired during that time.

4. Sometimes, in the midst of a conversation, he may have a mental block and act in a trance-like manner.

5. He may be observed talking or walking differently or acting in a strange, irrational manner.

6. He may act in a way he has never done before. His friends may see him as a totally different person.

7. In a worst scenario, the possession may reach a climax where the person may commit a crime, some violent or anti-social act and even suicide.

8. He or she may speak in tongues, and perform lewd acts and avoid religious objects (like a crucifix, rosary, etc.)

According to another researcher, clinical psychologist Edith Fiore, over 50 percent of those confined in mental hospitals in the United States are not insane but victims of spirit possession. I wonder what would be the estimated percentage in Philippine hospitals. Considering our people's greater sensitivity to spirit forces and poor diagnostic procedures, perhaps the percentage of possessed individuals confined in mental hospitals here is greater.

1. Have a positive, cheerful attitude. Since on the mental and spirit plane "like attracts like," a positive attitude will attract positive and benign spirits to you.

2. Maintain harmony and balance in your mind, body and spirit. Keep your emotional side especially in check and not prone to outbursts of anger.

3. Avoid being in the company of highly negative people or going to negative places. Negative individuals can sap your energy and drain you, thereby making spirit possession easier. The same in places with negative or earthbound spirits, for example, hospitals, cemeteries, wakes or haunted houses.

4. Remember you have free will. You are the master of your own life and destiny. Do not allow another entity to conquer or over-power your will. Remember even God respects our will and will not do anything to go against it. Only evil spirits try to overpower our will. Do not succumb to such attempts. Assert your will over any other entity and command it to "Begone!"

5. Carry protective or sacred objects with you. If you are a Christian, you may carry with you some powerful religious objects that you believe in. For example, St. Benedict's medal, which was specially charged or blessed by an authorized Benedictine Priest, can help protect you against demonic possession. If you believe in quartz crystals or amulets, have one specially blessed or charged by a competent person to protect you.

6. Practice discernment. If an evil spirit is present, you can sense this. Your body will react in a different way compared to the presence of a good spirit. Learn to distinguish them. Discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to St. Paul.

©2001 www.inq7.net all rights reserved

How Churchill chased flying saucers

http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,577850,00.html

Paul Harris
Sunday October 21, 2001
The Observer

Scientists and generals drew up a top secret report on Unidentified Flying Objects and then decided to cover up a wave of rumours and sightings that swept Britain in the 1950s, The Observer can reveal. The existence of the UFO report, written in 1951 and later used to brief Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was denied by the Ministry of Defence for almost 50 years. But the six-page document has recently been unearthed by UFO historians Andy Roberts and David Clarke as they researched a book on UFOs and the Cold War. The report has been a 'holy grail' of British 'ufology' and details the conclusions of a shadowy panel called the Working Party on Flying Saucers. This group was the idea of Sir Henry Tizard, one of Churchill's most trusted scientific advisers during World War II and a key figure behind the development of radar.

But anyone looking for an elusive 'X-file' that confirms the existence of aliens will be disappointed. The report concludes that all sightings were explainable by natural events, such as the weather or meteors, or were of normal aircraft.

But it does speak volumes about the scale of paranoia in Britain at the start of the Cold War. From 1950 onwards, hundreds of UFO sightings were reported across Britain and were regular front page news. Leading public figures, including Lord Louis Mountbatten, came out with their belief that Earth was being visited by aliens.

The phenomenon terrified the top brass on both sides of the Atlantic. Generals were worried that reports of flying saucers could be used by the Soviet Union to disguise an earthly attack or that the sightings were giving the Russians a clue that Britain's radar network was faulty and easy to penetrate - which was actually true but unknown within the Soviet bloc.

'This was a time of great paranoia and fear. The Government took a decision to throw a blanket over the UFO scare and say as little as possible about it,' said Clarke.

'There certainly was a cover-up, but what was being covered up was Cold War paranoia and our fears over our radar system. It was nothing to do with aliens.'

Despite the official silence, the UFO scares did not die down. In 1952 Churchill fired off a memo to his advisers in the wake of fresh UFO sightings in the United States. 'What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?' Churchill wrote.

Tizard's report was then used to brief the Prime Minis ter on the perceived lack of real threat from UFOs in August of that year. A few months later an order went out expressly banning all RAF personnel from discussing sightings with anyone not from the military.

In trying to underplay the sightings, Britain was following the lead of the United States, which had conducted several studies into its own UFO sightings and also adopted a policy of official secrecy. When the British report was presented, a top CIA scientist travelled over to the meeting to make sure the conclusions of America's closest ally fitted in.

Even today, the report is unlikely to dispel the convictions of thousands of British UFO-believers, despite a collapse in the number of sightings and the closure earlier this year of the British Flying Saucer Bureau. 'Believers will say that this report is fake or a decoy and that the Government is still hiding something. You cannot win,' said Roberts.

The explanation Roberts and Clarke offer for UFOs is more prosaic than the conspiracy theories of secret alien contact. It lies in mass hysteria. They believe the true importance of the UFO phenomenon lies in the fact that it was an urban myth that gained enough public power to panic the highest echelons of British government - all the way to Winston Churchill.

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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 26, 2001

FOSSIL OF MONSTER CROCODILE FOUND
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A crocodile longer than a school bus and weighing about 10 tons was the top predator in an African river 110 million years ago, routinely dining on large dinosaurs that came within range of its toothy jaws.

``When this thing grew into an adult it was really a monster,'' Paul C. Sereno, a well-known dinosaur hunter at the University of Chicago, said in an interview. ``This thing could have easily pulled down a good-sized dinosaur.''

Fossils of the monster croc were uncovered in a desert in Niger last year by Sereno and his team. The species, called Sarcosuchus imperator, or ``flesh crocodile emperor,'' was first discovered by French scientists in 1964, but the Sereno find is the most complete fossil skeleton known.

``This new material gives us a good look at hyper giant crocodiles,'' said Sereno in a statement. ``No one had enough of the skull and skeleton to really nail any of the true croc giants until now.''

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/science/AP-Giant-Croc.html

NEW PUFFERFISH GENOME MAY OFFER CLUES TO HUMANS
from Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singaporean scientists released the genetic blueprint of the Japanese pufferfish on Friday, saying it will help speed up understanding of the human genome.

The Japanese pufferfish, or Fugu rubripes, is the first vertebrate genome sequence to be completed after the map of the human genetic code was unveiled earlier this year.

"This will help us to understand the human genome better and faster," Dr. Bryrappa Venkatesh of Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) told Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=322150

CLAMOR FOR FLU SHOTS MAY IMPERIL PUBLIC, HEALTH OFFICIALS WARN
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Federal health officials warned yesterday that the bioterrorism scare on the East Coast might cause a run on flu vaccines, creating shortages that could endanger far more Americans than any threat from anthrax.

In a memorandum to state health departments, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta flatly contradicted the advice of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who said just the day before that all New Yorkers should get flu shots to ease fears of terrorist attacks.

The mayor's idea was to cut down on cases of influenza, whose early symptoms are nearly indistinguishable from those of anthrax.

He isn't alone. Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said the government expects to start a major public health campaign to push flu shots, noting that "flu and anthrax poisoning have the same symptoms."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/10/26/MN237023.DTL

FOR SCIENCE, UP TO A CHALLENGE
from The Washington Post

They were determined to come. Determined to compete. Determined to protect their school-aged shot at doing bigwig science in Washington, D.C., no matter what the terrorists threatened, no matter how many congressional staffers and postal workers lined up for Cipro.

They were 40 young scientists, ages 11 to 14, from all across the country, and none of them wanted to give up competing in the Discovery Channel's Young Scientist Challenge.

On Sept. 9, each of them got the phone call naming them Discovery's Young Scientists, selected from about 60,000 middle school students. With the honor came an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to the District to do botany, alchemy (yes, alchemy), zoology, ornithology and genetics. To boot, they'd be doing it with hotshot PhDs from, for example, the Smithsonian Institution. Benjamin Steele remembers getting the call and shouting, "Whoo-hooo!" Liz Baker from Tucson got so excited she stopped eating, "and I always like to eat."

Then Sept. 11 happened.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53105-2001Oct25.html

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http://www.americanscientist.org

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inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Homeopathy Has Preventive Remedy for Anthrax?

CALCUTTA, India (Reuters) - Indian homeopathic practitioners say that homeopathy, a traditional alternative system of medicine, has a magic pill that can prevent anthrax from infecting humans . . .

http://news.excite.com/news/r/011024/08/odd-homeopathy-dc

Scientists Say Mr. Magnet's Skin Sucks

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Liew Thow Lin is not a 70-year-old human magnet, as appears the case when he hangs heavy metal objects from his bare chest, but he does have exceptional skin, Malaysian scientists have found . . .

http://news.excite.com/news/r/011024/08/odd-magnetrpt-dc

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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 25, 2001

ADDITIVE MADE SPORES DEADLIER
from The Washington Post

The anthrax spores that contaminated the air in Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle's office had been treated with a chemical additive so sophisticated that only three nations are thought to have been capable of making it, sources said yesterday.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and Iraq are the only three nations known to have developed the kind of additives that enable anthrax spores to remain suspended in the air, making them more easily inhaled and therefore more deadly, experts said yesterday. Each nation used a different technique, suggesting that ongoing microscopic and chemical analyses may reveal more about the spores' provenance than did their genetic analysis, which is largely complete but reportedly has done little to narrow the field.

A government official with direct knowledge of the investigation said yesterday that the totality of the evidence in hand suggests that it is unlikely that the spores were originally produced in the former Soviet Union or Iraq.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47864-2001Oct24.html

A STEP CLOSER TO SOLVING MARS' WATER MYSTERY
from The Christian Science Monitor

Written in the rust-red dust, sand, and rock of Mars is the history of water - a compound vital to organic life.

A key tool for unlocking that history has started to trace ever-tighter orbits around the red planet. NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, a solar-powered digital geologist launched last April, is preparing to take up a 2-1/2-year search for clues to the story of water - and, perhaps, of life - on Mars.

In the process, the craft, which arrived at Mars late Tuesday, is breathing new life into US efforts to explore a planet that has captivated the human imagination for millenniums. Mars Odyssey's successful 285-million-mile journey stands in stark contrast to a pair of high-profile Mars missions in 1999 that reached the planet only to be destroyed.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/1025/p2s1-usgn.html

RESEARCHERS DISCOVER MUMMIFICATION WAS MORE COMPLEX THAN THOUGHT
from The Associated Press

The ancient Egyptians prepared mummies in ways more complex than previously thought, using such embalming materials as plant oils, tree resin and beeswax, researchers say.

Richard Evershed and Stephen Buckley of the University of Bristol in England removed and analyzed tiny samples from 13 mummies at several British museums and identified some of the substances used to preserve the dead.

The choice of embalming materials indicates the ancient Egyptians understood the value of antibacterial agents and different ways to dry the body before preserving it, Evershed said.

"I'm not suggesting they knew what bacteria were," he said, "but they had an understanding that water was part of bacterial decomposition."

The study discounted previous theories that embalmers used petroleum-based materials, which are relatively common in the oil-rich Middle East. Repeated tests found no traces of oil, Evershed said.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/157083p-1484737c.html

STUDIES BOLSTER IDEA OF SUBLIMINAL LEARNING
from The Los Angeles Times

Go to almost any classroom and, within minutes, you're likely to hear a frazzled teacher say: "Let's pay attention."

But researchers have long known that it's not always necessary to pay attention to something in order to learn it. Now a team of scientists at Boston University have taken that idea a step further, concluding that it's possible to learn from information that's imperceptible.

Furthermore, the researchers suggest in an article in the journal Nature to be published today, the brain can become more skillful at certain tasks, effortlessly, even if the person isn't trying and doesn't know it's happening. The finding suggests that classrooms could be structured in such a way that students could be learning subliminally even as they are learning consciously, researchers say.

But it also seems to demonstrate that, even if we try to shut out advertising and other informational sounds in the environment, they probably are lodging in our consciousness. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000085071oct25.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

SECURITY ON THE BRAIN, SOLUTIONS IN THE EYES
from The New York Times

AMSTERDAM, Oct. 24 - The machine will look you deep in the eye and record the 250 or so specks you did not know you had. If it recognizes you, it will release a lock and open the gate.

Welcome to Amsterdam airport and its state of the art iris scanner, one of the latest technological gizmos of the security conscious age.

The airport here, among Europe's busiest, is the first major international airport to introduce such a scanner to identify travelers.

Amsterdam airport has always been a bit of a maverick, offering a gambling casino, a sauna, a meditation room and a wealth of other nontravel activities. Now, as creepy as the device may seem to the uninitiated, the eye scanner has taken up its place at each of the sleek, airy departure and arrival halls.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/25/international/europe/25AMST.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
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http://www.americanscientist.org

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inthenews@sigmaxi.org



Thursday, October 25, 2001

How to tell when you're doing something right

An article on the Web site of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) at

http://www.icr.org/headlines/pbsevolution.html

911 RANG AGAIN - A REVIEW OF THE PBS VIDEO SERIES "EVOLUTION"
Ken Cumming, Ph.D. Biology

Another Attack

It was about 10 a.m. in the morning of September 11, 2001 when Barbara Olson called her husband Tom from a cell phone on board American Airlines flight 77 to tell him, "We've been hijacked!"1 Tom told her in turn that he saw on TV along with millions of others that two airliners already had crashed into the World Trade Center an hour earlier. In one grand wakeup call, America heard the cry for "help" from thousands of civilians victimized by Osama bin Laden's god-squad.

Only 13 days later on Public Broadcasting Stations, a seven-part, eight-hour event of grave importance was also witnessed by millions of Americans, but the pall of New York City, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania airline crashes overshadowed all other news. PBS with the aid of WGBH in Boston and Clear Blue Sky Productions televised one of the boldest assaults yet against our public schools and the millions of innocent victims - our school children.2

Both events have much in common. The public was unaware of the deliberate preparation that was schemed over the past few years to lead to these events. And while the public now understands from President Bush that "We're at War"3 with religious fanatics around the world, they don't have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement called Darwinists.


Wednesday, October 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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 24, 2001

WITH MARS PROBE MANEUVER, NASA FINALLY CATCHES A BRAKE
from The Washington Post

The Mars Odyssey, which left Earth seven months ago, braked into orbit around the red planet last night, giving NASA's Mars program a welcome boost after back-to-back failures in 1999.

While outwardly confident, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., were anxious about the make-or-break "Mars orbit insertion" -- MOI -- rocket firing, a 19.7-minute maneuver one manager described as "the longest 20 minutes of our lives."

In reality, engineers had to wait a full half-hour to find out whether Odyssey's main engine had done its job.

After a brief scare caused by a momentary loss of data, flight controllers were able to confirm the rocket firing had started on time at 10:26 p.m. EDT based on analysis of radio transmissions from the spacecraft. But Odyssey disappeared behind Mars -- as expected -- halfway through the maneuver.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42061-2001Oct23.html

GERM BANKS ALTER ANTHRAX INFORMATION IN INTERNET DATABASE
from The Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Hoping to discourage would-be bioterrorists, a global organization of nearly 500 germ banks removed some details about anthrax from its Internet database and added information on controls for dangerous agents.

The recent steps were also intended to help members of the World Federation for Culture Collections counter misperceptions about access to lethal germs at research labs, officials said Tuesday.

"It's very difficult to get dangerous products from collections," insisted WFFC president Jean Swings, a professor at Ghent University.

Swings and other scientists also pointed out that dangerous agents did not have to be swiped from labs at all.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/149854p-1468190c.html

SCIENTISTS REPORT GAINS IN KNOWLEDGE OF BACTERIUM
from The New York Times

Scientists reported two major advances yesterday in their understanding of the anthrax bacterium - discoveries they hope will be the basis for a new generation of effective treatments.

The advances could lead to the development of drugs custom-designed to interfere with the anthrax toxin at different stages of its operation, the scientists said. One kind of drug would decoy the toxin that the bacteria release into the bloodstream, mopping it up before it can reach a target cell. Another would sabotage the part of the toxin that attacks a vital inner component of cells.

Antibiotics and a vaccine used by the military are effective defenses against anthrax, but doctors would like to see new approaches. Some strains are resistant to antibiotics or can be made resistant, while the cumbersome vaccine involves six shots and an annual booster.

At a news conference yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, noted that similar discoveries about H.I.V. had rapidly led to the development of AIDS drugs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/24/national/24GERM.html

ANTHRAX: PRE-PUBLICATION AND SPECIAL ISSUE
from Nature

Recent events have confirmed that bioterrorism is no longer a threat but a reality. To provide wide-ranging access to the latest scientific information about anthrax and other potential bioweapons, Nature has put together a special online focus on this issue. This focus includes the pre-publication* of two research papers on anthrax toxin, as well as a collection of research, news and feature articles from our electronic archive. Because of the heightened interest in this area, among both the scientific community and the general public, all material in this feature has been made freely available.

http://www.nature.com/nature/anthrax/

THE BIOLOGY OF 'IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE'
from The Boston Globe

When Alan Greenspan coined the phrase ''irrational exuberance,'' he was cautiously telling America that investors had begun to create a stock-market bubble. He was right.

Now it looks like he might have been onto some serious science as well.

In a yearlong study at a major Boston financial company, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University found that professional currency traders react to changing markets not just with their brains, but also subconsciously - with their whole bodies. As they sit at their desks moving millions of dollars through the financial system, their vital signs react almost instantaneously as prices dip and rise.

They are, in other words, wired to the market.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/296/science/The_biology_of_irrational_exuberance_+.shtml

STUDY: HEART PATIENTS WITH NORMAL EKGs NOT NECESSARILY HEALTHY
from Newsday

CHICAGO -- Heart attack patients with normal EKGs may be in more danger than doctors realized.

Unexpectedly high death rates were found in a study of hospitalized heart attack patients whose initial electrocardiogram readings were normal.

The findings suggest such patients may need more aggressive treatment than previously thought, researchers said.

The study looked at six years of data involving 391,208 heart attack patients. The patients' initial hospital work-ups included EKGs, which look for abnormal electrical patterns in heart activity.

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

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

Sigma Xi Homepage
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Media Resource Service
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American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

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



Tuesday, October 23, 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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 23, 2001

IRRADIATION EXPLORED AS ANSWER TO ANTHRAX MAIL THREAT
from The Washington Post

It's already done with chicken, spice, ground beef and baby bottle nipples.

The U.S. mail may be next.

And soon.

In the midst of the growing anthrax scare, the government is exploring the possibility that irradiation or other state-of-the-art sterilizing technology might be used to cleanse the mail of pathogens.

In the weeks since mailed anthrax bacteria have infected people in Florida, New York and Washington, experts have been scrambling to figure out how to kill the microbe before it reaches mail handlers or recipients.

Irradiation appears to be one of the most viable solutions, experts said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36218-2001Oct22.html

IN CRUCIAL TEST, NEW PROBE TO BEGIN ORBITING MARS
from The New York Times

After the failures of its two predecessors, an American spacecraft is fast approaching Mars for a try at restoring success to the program of exploring the planet's geological and, just possibly, biological history.

The small robotic spacecraft, Mars Odyssey, is on course to begin orbiting the planet late today, mission officials said. The craft carries several instruments designed to find out what the planet's surface is made of, to search for water and shallow buried ice and to study radiation in the Martian environment.

But scientists have learned the hard way not to take a mission to Mars for granted. Of the 30 American and Russian spacecraft sent to Mars over 40 years, fewer than one- third have been successful.

No one could forget that at this moment in the flights of 1999, everything was also going well, with no reason to suspect trouble ahead. Then the first spacecraft, Mar Climate Orbiter, fell silent, never to be heard from again. A few months later, Mars Polar Lander, aiming for a landing near the Martian south pole, crashed for reasons never fully determined.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/23/science/space/23MARS.html

E.P.A. PLAN IS DEBATED IN IDAHO
from The Associated Press

KELLOGG, Idaho, Oct. 22 (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose a plan on Wednesday to create the nation's largest Superfund waste- cleanup site along the Coeur d'Alene River basin in the Idaho Panhandle.

The cleanup would enlarge an existing site more than 70-fold, to 1,500 square miles. It is aimed at removing lead and other dangerous metals released into the river - and from there into Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Spokane River - by more than 100 years of silver mining and smelting.

In 1983, the E.P.A. declared a 21-square-mile area around Kellogg a Superfund site. Since then, it has spent more than $200 million to clean it up. Lead-contaminated soil in people's yards was replaced. Giant heaps of mine tailings were capped.

The new plan would take an estimated 20 to 30 years to complete. It would include removing lead dust from people's homes and dredging contaminated beaches of the Spokane River.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/23/science/earth/23IDAH.html

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER GENE THAT HELPS PROTECT CELLS FROM DESTRUCTIVE FORM OF OXYGEN
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Researchers have discovered a gene that protects cells from a destructive form of oxygen and could possibly give mammals a longer life span. The discovery could lead to drugs to help cells resist aging.

In laboratory studies at the National Institutes of Health, researchers studied mice that had been bred to lack a specific gene linked to neutralizing the effects of oxygen free radicals. The mice tended to have a life span about 40 percent shorter than mice with normal genes.

The gene makes an enzyme called methionine sulfoxide reductase, or MsrA, which studies show helps to protect cells from being damaged by a type of highly reactive oxygen, said Jackob Moskovitz, a researcher at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the NIH.

Oxygen free radicals are produced during cell metabolism. These reactive oxygen molecules are able to damage genes and cause changes in proteins.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/149470p-1462796c.html

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Sabotage of a Psychic Experiment

http://psymag.tripod.com/issue_1/1_sabotage.htm

Question: Why does James Randi hate Uri Geller so much? Could it be because Randi knows something that he won't admit?

Uri Geller ran an honest internet psychic experiment where he offered one million dollars to anybody who could bend a spoon over the internet. With so many people participating, and with the existence of psychic powers so prevalent in the world today, you would think that the money would have been won.

But it wasn't. Due to interference from a world-wide cult of fanatical skeptics, the experiment had to be abandoned with the money unawarded. It is a shame it has come to this, but we have incontrovertible evidence that this is what happened.

The background

When Uri Geller decided to use the Internet to test the world's psychic abilities, he was doing so in the interest of science, and with a genuine desire to finally get before the public the reality of psychic powers. Geller had taken much criticism from fanatical skeptics who doubted his powers—some were not doubtful, but were fearful of the implications for world governments and religions. This well publicized experiment was to finally put an end to the squabbling and show both skeptics and believers that psychic abilities are real.

So Geller set up a highly scientific experiment, with rigorous controls, asking highly respected scientists to oversee the process. The result was one of the most thorough psychic experiments ever devised.

Despite the care and expense Geller put into the experiment, however, it was doomed to failure because an organized clique of skeptics, headed by James Randi, had already decided to thwart the test and render it useless. Their goal was to discredit Uri Geller after the "failed" experiment by pointing out how nobody bent the spoon and claimed the prize.

The Randi Agenda

James Randi has long been a vocal critic of Uri Geller. Much of Randi's income has been from his sensationalist "debunking" of Geller and Geller's abilities. Anticipating that such income would be threatened by a successful experiment by Geller, Randi sprang into action.

Psychic Magazine has now received reports from insiders involved in Randi's operation. Our sources initially agreed with the goal of "exposing" Uri Geller, but have told us that when they eventually saw what was happening, they realized they were on a mission of manipulation, rather one of exposure, and grew disillusioned with the whole scheme. For obvious reasons, we cannot reveal our sources. But we have checked and verified them in various ways, and have determined to our satisfaction that they are being honest with us.

Our insider sources report to us that Randi would stop at nothing, no matter how dishonest or unethical, to discredit Geller. The reason? Money. Once Geller validated the existence of psychic powers, there would be no audience for Randi's fanaticism and his lectures and books denying psychic powers. It was to protect Randi's livelihood that the all out assault on Geller was planned and executed.

The plan of action

Randi and his disciples know that psychic powers are real. They know that Uri Geller has real psychic powers. So when Geller set up the spoon bending experiment on the Internet, there was a real fear among Randi and his followers that the spoon definitely would be bent. The prospect of millions of people trying to use psychic powers in the experiment was too much for them, because they were sure that the spoon would be bent.

The high degree of publicity around Geller's experiment guaranteed that there would be at least as much publicity after the experiment terminated and the results announced. After all, reasoned Randi, the spoon would bend at some time, leaving an astounding confirmation of psychic abilities.

Randi and his team of saboteurs considered their options. They thought about simply ridiculing the experiment--in fact, this ridicule was carried out during the life of the experiment, and it continues to this day. Due to the participation of prestigious scientists in Geller's experiment, though, Randi decided ridicule could only go so far once the experiment terminated successfully. There had to be more.

Randi rightly concluded that his income would be threatened by the mere success of the experiment. Nothing he could do could negate the effect of success. It was only logical, then, that Randi decided the experiment must not be allowed to succeed.

It is a well known scientific fact that when psychic powers absolutely must be thwarted, rather than just "explained away," there is only one effective method: negative energy. Fanatical skeptics are well known for this trick. They project enough negative energy with disbelief (and just plain "not wanting it to work") that often, enough force is applied against the use of psychic powers to cause complete failure. When that happens, the skeptics smugly assert that they knew it wouldn't work--when the fact is it is they who caused it not to work!

The problem with Geller's Internet experiment was larger than any Randi had faced before. This is not just a psychic standing in a room, or even on a stage. This was something that millions of people would participate in. The negative energy required to overcome this would be great, indeed. So Randi secretly assembled the largest collect of skeptics ever known. Secret e-mail and telephone calls were the order of the day.

Randi's secret mailing lists were busy things, urging fellow skeptics to focus all their negative energy on this one experiment. To assist his skeptic legions in their efforts, Randi even mailed out thousands of street maps, pinpointing the location of Uri Geller's mansion, and even showed the exact room in which the spoon was suspected to be. Luckily for Randi, and just as unfortunately for science and the rest of mankind, Randi guessed right.

Randi's fanatics focused so much negative energy, night and day, for the whole year the experiment ran, that nobody was able to bend the spoon. The energy this cult directed to Geller's mansion was so great that it even broke the clock used to show the time on the web--something that some of Randi's cult followers have even bragged about openly!

As a side note, many scientists point out that focusing that much negative energy in one place is hazardous to anybody who might step into the target area. It is sheer luck that nobody was seriously injured or even killed by this recklessness.

The immediate result was that Geller's Internet experiment was a "failure." With the spoon unbent, Randi and his followers could then freely ridicule the experiment, safe in the knowledge that they had prevented success.

What has mankind lost? Psychic research has been set back centuries with this scheme of Randi's. What would have been validated has been turned into a disaster for psychic research, all because one man decreed to his followers that they not allow a true experiment to take place. How much longer must mankind be denied the benefits of psychic powers because of a narrow-minded band of fanatics?

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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****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 22, 2001

BRIGHT GLOW MAY CHANGE DARK REPUTATION OF BLACK HOLE
from The New York Times

Black holes are windowless cosmic dungeons, ultracompressed objects with gravity so powerful that anything that plummets through their trapdoors - surfaces called event horizons enshrouding each one - is forever lost to the rest of the universe. Scientists believe that not even light beams can escape once they are inside.

Now, a surprising find by astronomers, expected to be announced today, may change that dark reputation. Using an X-ray observatory in orbit around Earth, the astronomers have discovered an intense glow, with the intensity of 10 billion Suns, burning just outside the event horizon of a huge but very distant black hole in the constellation Centaurus.

The discovery indicates, the astronomers assert, that they have seen energy pouring out of a black hole and into the surrounding universe for the first time.

The glow is probably not a sign of radiation seeping out, a process scientists still contend is impossible. Instead, it may be caused by a bizarre kind of friction that the black hole, thought to be spinning at nearly the speed of light, feels against surrounding gases, heating them to tremendous temperatures.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/22/science/space/22HOLE.html

IMMUNE SYSTEM THERAPY MAY HELP SKIN CANCER PATIENTS
from Reuters

LISBON (Reuters) - A new form of immune system therapy can help prolong the lives of people suffering from the most serious type of skin cancer, French scientists said on Monday.

Professor Brigitte Dreno and a team of researchers from the INSERM U 463 laboratories in Nantes have developed a treatment to boost the immune system of melanoma patients after they have had surgery to remove the skin tumor.

Dreno told a European cancer conference that the technique had cut the number of relapses and increased the survival of patients who were given the treatment in early trials.

The treatment is based on cells called tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILS) that produce a reaction against the cancer.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=308751

NO OBSCURE EXPERTISE
from The Los Angeles Times

Long before anthrax spores killed a man in Florida, infected several other people and set off scares and brisk Cipro sales across the country, a handful of scientists worked in relative obscurity to grasp how the tiny bacterium wreaks its havoc on the human body.

They have made big strides. They have almost finished determining the genome structure of Bacillus anthracis . They have learned a lot about how the microbe's toxins work and how the bacterium can craftily evade destruction by human immune cells. They know something too about genes that render mammals (presumably including humans) more resistant to the onslaught of the microbe.

And, as their understanding has grown, so have ideas for new therapies and vaccines. Better therapies are sorely needed in the face of a bioterrorism threat, experts say, because the inhalation of anthrax--the rarest but most serious mode of infection--is usually lethal if not treated very early with antibiotics. If too much time passes, a patient's body is flooded with enough toxins to kill even after the actual bacteria are gone.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000084188oct22.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

2 SCIENTISTS FACE TRIAL IN ROCKETDYNE EXPLOSION
from The Los Angeles Times

Seven years ago, at a field laboratory on a rugged plateau in the Simi Hills of Ventura County, five Rocketdyne employees were burning rocket propellants when the chemicals exploded, killing two scientists and burning a technician.

At the time, company officials said the men were preparing to conduct the third of five experiments testing the shock waves emitted when the chemical mixture burns.

But federal prosecutors dispute its scientific value, saying the employees were merely disposing of hazardous waste by burning it, a once-common practice banned in 1989. This week, prosecutors will ask a jury in Riverside to convict scientists Joseph E. Flanagan, 60, of Stanwood, Wash., and Edgar R. Wilson, 65, of Chatsworth of illegally burning chemical waste at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, just west of Chatsworth, on July 21 and July 26 in 1994, the day of the deadly blast.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000084233oct22.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

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Monday, October 22, 2001

Bad medicine

http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/10/22/wbul22.xml&sSheet=/news/2001/10/22/ixhomef.html

AN 11-year-old boy may have to have a finger amputated after a cobra bit him in Kota Bharu, Malaysia, during a street show by a medicine man demonstrating an anti-snake charm.

East Coast Ex Convict Con Man coming to Austin Oct 22

From: Eric Krieg eric@phact.org

[A usually reliable source.]

People,

The lead person promising free energy in America is a dynamic character you would have to see to believe. He's got 2000 big time followers who have paid as much as $100,000 to become dealers in his technology. He's got a radio show, buys TV advertising, got ad time on the Larry King show, has taken out full page national newspaper ads, rented out places like the Philadelphia First Union Center for his nationwide tours. He says big oil was behind occasional visits to jail. His grass roots efforts have had him and his tapes seen by millions. Right now, his followers are working hard to get 1.6 million Americans to pay a few dollars to get advanced registrations to have free electricity machines installed on their homes. Condemnation by scientists, the BBB and many states attorney generals have little effect on this movement. He takes smaller amounts of money for bogus registrations, but his real agenda is to get people to pay up to $100,000 to buy dealerships.

His name is Dennis Lee, and I believe he is the last of America's big time con men who operate right out in the open for years. He took out a full page ad in USA Today and page 48 of the Sept 10 Newsweek has his latest full page ad. At least 7 states Attorney Generals have recently issued cease and desist orders to him (he tears them up right on stage). Kentucky arrested him, but he is out on bail.

I personally have been following this story for nearly 5 years. I know have names of a number of prominent former insiders willing to talk on camera. I also have a list of hundreds of victims of Dennis Lee going back 3 decades. These people are all across the United States (usually older) who have often lost their life's savings. Pat Robertson lost $150,000 to him but won't talk about it. your show is:

22nd October- Austin TX
The Promiseland Church Theatre (they won't respond to my questions)
1504 E 51st Street
Austin TX 78723
Feel free to call me for more information (215) 646-3553. I offer more information on this scam at:

http://www.phact.org/e/dennis.html

Putting faith in science

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20011022-723323.htm

By Larry Witham
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

William Phillips' life changed in more than one way after the impromptu press conference for his 1997 Nobel Prize in physics.

"I said something like, 'There are many people I want to thank, and I'd also like to thank God for giving us such a wonderful and interesting universe to explore," the Gaithersburg resident said in an interview.

Such accolades for a deity, which are rare in Nobel settings, put Mr. Phillips on the radar screen of the science and religion movement.

Yesterday, the churchgoing physicist addressed a main showcase of the movement, the Science and the Spiritual Quest II conference at Harvard University.


Sunday, October 21, 2001

Debate in India: Is Astrology a Science or a Throwback to Medieval Times?

http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGALKQQ13TC.html

By Kevin Gray
Associated Press Writer

NEW DELHI, India (AP) - Poring over star charts and mathematical equations, Vijay Kumar insists he can peer months into the future, answer troubling questions about a marriage or career, and guide anyone to a successful and fulfilling life.

The future for Kumar's centuries-old craft itself seems even brighter since the national government announced this summer that astrological studies would join the curriculum at Indian universities.

The decision touched off a furor among academics, and only some schools are offering any astrology courses.


Saturday, October 20, 2001

Houdini Stamp, Incredible Sabotage, An 1841 Book, Shermer's SKEPTIC, and Another Homeopathic Swindle.

http://www.randi.org/jr/101901.html

News: The U.S. Postal Service will honor magician/escape-artist Harry Houdini with a stamp to be issued officially on July 3rd next year on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Society of American Magicians, at their annual convention in New York City.

Sit down for this next item.... You can read the excerpts ahead, then I strongly suggest that you go to http://psymag.tripod.com/issue_1/1_sabotage.htm - from which the excerpts are taken, to learn the depths to which I and the JREF will sink, just to make trouble for the world.

On a different level altogether, I cannot recommend too highly a remarkable book, published in 1841, by one Charles Mackay, LL.D. It is titled, "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds."

If you've not yet invested in a subscription to Michael Shermer's "SKEPTIC" Magazine, you should do so now.

Finally, I want to express my outrage at how a company known as "BestEarth" has taken advantage of the current panic over possible terrorist activities involving germ warfare.

Sitchin finally states; X return AT THIS TIME!

Zecharia Sitchin, the world renown scholar/acheologist now finally agrees, quote: "I prophecize the return of this planet called Nibiru AT THIS TIME!"

http://www.surfingtheapocalypse.com/sitchin.html

Trusting the Pentagon/gov't to guard itself & relay needed information to protect you is clearly illogical.

In July the red planet "2001 KX76" was disclosed. This was the original cover-label for Planet X, Nibiru, Wormwood, or THE MOST REVERED HEAVENLY BODY IN ALL ANTIQUITY. After 3600 years on its regular orbit it will pass again in SPRING 2003. It's RECORDED IN ANCIENT TEXTS & the SCIENCE OF ARCHEOLOGY shows its effect on Earth with each passage. Yes, some conspiracies are without merit, ignoring history and science is another matter.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010702/kuiper.html#

By August 2001 the disinformation had changed to the LARGEST ASTERIOD EVER and it's now shown as blue. It's the same label on a different object.

http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2001/phot-27-01.html#note3

When the attention was drawn to the area by announcing the "Largest Asteriod" was there, they made sure the color of the new "2001 KX76" was blue. All speculation about a large DULL RED brown dwarf being there was to be avoided. This is one of their tactics for hiding Planet X. First giving it a label, then using that same label for another object to misdirect attention. X is not a red KBO. The original color was not red for photographic reasons. Too many stories for the color change is just the first of many obvious clues of a cover up. They will continue to identify objects ahead and around X to misdirect attention. The normal helpful & professional Nasa employees are being evasive & condescending when asked about it.

X has INTENTIONALLY BEEN MADE TO SOUND RIDICULOUS and confusing for several reasons. One of which is to avoid causing panic among the world's population. Many websites and articles continue to be written about Planet X that spread lies. They say it only MAY exist and comes around only once every few million years IF it does. This disinformation is widespread.

X orbits between our sun and its dark twin. A diagram from the 1987 NEW SCIENCE & INVENTION ENCYCLOPEDIA shows our dead twin sun & the 10th planet.

X's MASS, MAGNETISM & DENSITY is such that it DISRUPTS the surface of EVERY PLANET IT PASSES. In fact, history shows approximately 7 YEARS PRIOR to its passage its far reaching eletromagnetic/gravitational influence changes Earths core flows TRIGGERING WEATHER, VOLCANIC & SEISMIC ACTIVITY. Since early 1996 traditional WEATHER has CHANGED DRAMATICALLY, breaking all time records regularly. The up-tick of QUAKES, VOLCANIC INCIDENTS & changes in ELECTROMAGNETICS are being kept out of the media as much as possible. Weather alone can falsely be blamed on global warming & sun cycles but not earths rumblings at the same time.

Research the advent of PLANET X and the cataclysms it will trigger by passing EARTH. Being prepared and FOREWARNED gives one an EXCELLENT CHANCE to SURVIVE.

"BLINDSIDED, PLANET X Passes in 2003, EARTHCHANGES!"

Even the majority of the earthchange intuitives prophecies are tied into or name Planet X.

ALL OTHER NEWS PALES IN COMPARISON TO THIS IMPENDING MEGA WORLD WIDE EVENT OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS.

For more information:
http://www.metatech.org/planet_x_niburu_earth_changes.html
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/preparation2003
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SpiritualPrep2003
http://www.planetx2003.f2s.com/
(site under construction--countdown clock set incorrectly, several incoherent sentences need changing)

Russian magnetic-field/gravity experiments/+

(A) Found evidence of Russian experiments with the effects of Rotating Magnetic Fields on Gravity =>
http://alexfrolov.narod.ru/russearl.html .

(B) A plea from astronomer Bernard Haisch to re-examine reports of unexplained phenomena in light of recent advances in physics (namely superstrings and M-brane theories) =>
http://www.debshome.com/whenufosland.html.

(C) Made two 8"x10" photo-collages from "The Philadelphia Experiment" movie and stored them in a MS-Word document. I used them for iron-on transfers onto a sweatshirt. The <link> can be found after #13 at =>
http://www.geocities.com/stealthskaters/UFO_PX_URLS.htm.


Friday, October 19, 2001

Media Misunderstanding Science Sat Oct 27 2 PM Rockville, MD

From: gspostings@yahoo.com (GS)
Reply to: [1]GS
Date: 18 Oct 2001 16:17:36 -0700
Organization: http://groups.google.com/
Newsgroups:
[2]sci.skeptic,
[3]dc.general,
[4]md.general,
[5]va.general,
[6]balt.general
Followup to: [7]newsgroup(s)
IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SO - Dr. David Murray
Saturday, October 27, 2pm-3:30pm
Twinbrook Library, 202 Meadow Hall Drive, Rockville, MD

Dr. David Murray, discusses and signs his book, It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality. The book will be available for purchase at the talk. The first chapter may be read online at [8]http://www.stats.org/book.htm

"Until we learn the intricacies of media culture and the processes by which news is made, we are vulnerable to a daily dose of misunderstanding contained in each morning's headlines. Indeed, we are at risk of perpetually misdiagnosing our modern world and the role we play in it."— from the introduction.

Dr. Murray is Director of Research for the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), a non-profit organization dedi-cated to improving media coverage of scientific and statistical information.

Saturday, October 27, 2pm-3:30pm
Twinbrook Library, 202 Meadow Hall Drive, Rockville

Note: Because of reconstruction at our usual meeting place, programs this season are scheduled at different locations and sometimes at different times than in the past. Plesae be careful that you check the correct location AND time for each meeting.

The Twinbrook Library (intersection of Veirs Mill and Twinbrook) is 3/4 mile from the Twinbrook Metro on the Red Line, or take Metro Bus Q2 or Ride On bus 45 (www.rideonbus.com)

National Capital Area Skeptics Public Lecture Series FREE admission - Everyone welcome - members and non-members

For more information call the 24-hour NCAS Skeptic Line recording at (301) 587-3827
e-mail: ncas@ncas.org
http://www.ncas.org

NCAS is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization which promotes critical thinking and scientific understanding.

NCAS...for good reason

Next month -- Childhood Vaccine Controversy
Saturday, November 10, 10:30-12:30 Twinbrook Library
Arthur Allen will speak about recent controversies regarding the safety of childhood vaccines. He will touch on scientific issues as well as the motivation, ideology and historical role of anti-vaccine activists in America. Allen is a freelance writer who regularly contributes health, science and other articles to The Washington Post, Salon.com and other publications. [rescheduled from March 2001]

References

1. mailto:gspostings@yahoo.com
2. news:sci.skeptic
3. news:dc.general
4. news:md.general
5. news:va.general
6. news:balt.general
7. newsreply://news.efn.org/sci.skeptic,dc.general,md.general,va.general,balt.general
8. http://www.stats.org/book.htm

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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 19, 2001

HEALTH OFFICIALS FORM PLAN TO DEAL WITH POTENTIAL SMALLPOX OUTBREAK
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A single case of smallpox would trigger a federal emergency plan that includes vaccinating people close to the victim and retracing the patient's every step over the previous three weeks.

Despite the likely panic over a disease not seen in the United States in half a century, the government would not resort to citywide mass vaccinations unless absolutely necessary.

The plan, obtained by The Associated Press, is a long-awaited set of step-by-step instructions for state health workers who would have to battle the highly contagious disease if bioterrorists ever unleashed smallpox.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is putting final touches on the plan, work that was accelerated after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Officials say they consider the plan already operational, and have begun sending it to state health departments, who are supposed to begin the requested preparations now.

http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/147247p-1439076c.html

RESEARCH ANALYSIS: MAMMOGRAMS DON'T CUT CANCER DEATH RISK
from The Washington Post

There is no reliable evidence that regular mammograms reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer in women of any age, according to Danish researchers who performed an analysis of all of the major studies that have addressed the issue.

That surprising conclusion by members of the Cochrane Collaboration, a respected international body that assesses medical evidence, contradicts the recommendations of many medical groups in the United States and Canada. There has been consensus among such groups that regular mammograms can prevent some breast cancer deaths in women over 50, and most of the recent debate in this country has centered on the use of the X-ray tests for women in their forties.

The analysis by Ole Olsen and Peter C. Gotzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen concluded that of seven large mammography trials involving half a million women, three were of poor scientific quality and two were so flawed that the researchers discounted their results.

"No study did it completely well," Olsen said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18705-2001Oct18.html

2001 MARS ODYSSEY TO ORBIT RED PLANET NEXT WEEK
from The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. - The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft is on schedule to orbit the Red Planet next week and erase the stigma of two mission failures in a row, NASA officials said Thursday.

"I expect nothing less than a bull's-eye the night of Oct. 23" when the spacecraft fires its main thruster and slips into orbit, said David A. Spencer, Odyssey's mission manager, at a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

With major course corrections completed, Odyssey was less than 2 million miles from Mars. Its path may need only to be "tweaked" before it begins orbiting 386 miles above the planet's north pole, said lead navigator Bob Mase.

Odyssey would join the Mars Global Surveyor, a robotic probe that began mapping the planet in 1999.

http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/147113p-1435883c.html

STUDY: CHUBBY BIRDS FLY BETTER
from The Associated Press

As skies fill with millions of migrating birds, European scientists say the seasonal miracle appears to hinge on a seeming contradiction: The fatter the bird, the more efficiently it flies.

The results of their study -- involving four birds that were captured as adults and trained to fly in a wind tunnel -- contradict a central theory of aerodynamics, which predicts that the power needed to fly increases sharply with load.

For birds, apparently, the cost of flying with heavy fuel loads is considerably smaller than previously thought.

"We have measured, for the first time, how flight power changes with body mass in a bird and the results were very surprising," said Anders Kvist of Sweden's Lund University, the lead author of the study in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

http://www.newsday.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-chubby-migrations1017oct17.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dscience%2Dheadlines

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

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http://www.americanscientist.org

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

Quantum physics and paranormal?

From the 27 Sept. issue of Nature (413:339):

Stamp booklet has physicists licked

ERICA KLARREICH

[LONDON] British physicists are taking issue with a Royal Mail brochure, published in association with six new postage stamps, which suggests that quantum physics could help to explain the paranormal.

The brochure, part of a presentation package to commemorate the centenary of the Nobel prizes, will be available at 18,000 post offices from 2 October.

The material at issue was written by Brian Josephson, a professor at the University of Cambridge, who won a Nobel prize in 1973 for his work on superconductors. The entry says that developments in quantum physics, combined with information technology, "may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science, such as telepathy ¯ an area in which Britain is at the forefront of research".

Josephson gave his name to the Josephson effect, which describes the flow of current between two pieces of superconducting material separated by a thin layer of insulating material.

But few physicists accept that telepathy even exists, says Andrew Steane, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford.

Robert Evans, a physicist at the University of Bristol, says he is "very uneasy" about something from the Royal Mail saying quantum physics has something to do with telepathy," he says.

Kathryn Hollingsworth, a spokeswoman for the Royal Mail, says: "If it transpires that what he's suggesting doesn't have a scientific basis, perhaps we should have checked that," she says. "But if he has won a Nobel prize for his work, that should give him some credibility."

Josephson wrote the paragraph at the Royal Mail's invitation. A number of theories, he says, are helping to explain "how a more detailed understanding of paranormal phenomena may emerge from a better understanding of quantum mechanics".

http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v413/n6854/full/413339b0_fs.html

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Pickover)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu

http://www.csicop.org/bib/599
-----------------------------
Dreaming The Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction
Clifford A. Pickover
http://www.prometheusbooks.com/site/catalog/book_947.html
2001, Prometheus; 452p., illustrated
astrology, biorhythms, crankery, dowsing, hypnosis, newage,
numerology, occult, prophecy, psi, religion

A fascinating, easy to read collection of information about divination practices, geared to a popular readership. Pickover includes interesting details about a vast range of strange methods to paranormally predict the future, from entrail reading to Tarot cards to tribal practices. He manages to present this survey without a hint of academic pompousness, and with a mild skepticism which never gets in the face of the reader. The experienced skeptic will read this book more for its range than its depth, looking for the occasional and rewarding surprise. Its worst flaws are those of the publisher, not the writer -- there is some repetition which might have been pared down, and just about every page has a distracting typo or two. Still, this is a good book to recommend to someone who seems interested in learning about prophecy and divination practices, but who would be turned off by a heavy-handed skeptical treatment. Worth reading.

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Refuting the Favorite Nonsense of the Right-Wing

http://www.debunker.com/rightwing.html

The Right-Wing has its own flavors of nonsense that flourish within it. Like every group, they believe those claims that seem to have the "ring of truth" to them, and it seems to be a universal human trait to be insufficiently skeptical of claims that sound as if they 'ought to' be true. That is mankind's eternal fallacy: confusing the "ought" with the "is". Francis Bacon offered some excellent advice on that subject:

And generally let every student of nature take this as a rule: that whatever his mind seizes and dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction is to be held in suspicion, and that so much the more care is to be taken dealing with such questions to keep the understanding even and clear.

The New Organon, Aphorisms - Book One, LVIII

In other words, be especially suspicious of claims that you strongly would like to be true. Of course, most peoples' mental process is precisely the opposite: if I want it to be true, why, it scarcely needs any proof at all - it is true! And there lies the pathway to error.

Halloween

It's coming, Skeptics. Get ready.

http://www.skepdic.com/hollow.html

Making Friends

Creationist Jack Chick shows how to foster understanding of other cultures. Just like he fosters understanding of science.

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1004/1004_01.asp

Mass Media Bunk

http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/bunk.html

October 14, 2001. David Copperfield can now add 'liar' to his list of credentials. According to the Berlin bureau of Reuters, the American illusionist claims he predicted on February 17, 2001, what the winning numbers in the German national lottery would be on October 13, 2001. One of the oldest tricks in the mentalist's bag is the sealed envelope reading trick. Yet, Copperfield must think the world is full of ignorant dupes, because he describes his psychic prediction in exactly the terms one would expect a mentalist to use in describing his trick. Copperfield claims that his prediction was "sealed by a notary and locked in a box that was kept under round-the-clock surveillance." According to Reuters, "One hour after the winning numbers were drawn, the box was opened on a live television broadcast and the numbers on the slip of paper matched the winning draw: 2, 9, 10, 15, 25, 38, 4." The lie? He said, "It wasn't a trick."


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.

****** Special bulletin for Sigma Xi members and members of the media ******

2001 Sigma Xi Forum: Science, the Arts and the Humanities: Connections and Collisions

Click on the link below to view a detailed program of events, read about the featured presentation of the play "Oxygen," and register to attend.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/forum/2001Forum/Forum2001.htm

***************

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - October 18, 2001

NASA'S LONGEST-SERVING ADMINISTRATOR SAYS HE WILL STEP DOWN
from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 - Daniel S. Goldin, who revamped and re- energized the nation's space program during almost a decade as head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, announced today that he was resigning.

Mr. Goldin, NASA's longest-serving administrator, said he would leave on Nov. 17 and look at opportunities in private industry.

He has accepted an interim position with the Council on Competitiveness, a Washington group that promotes American economic and business leadership.

"I decided now is the time," Mr. Goldin said in a telephone news conference. "I love my country. I love this agency, but it is time."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/18/science/18NASA.html

GOVERNMENT'S ANTHRAX MUDDLE: MANY VOICES, FEW FACTS
Analysis from The Washington Post

As public worry about anthrax attacks increases, Bush administration officials and congressional leaders have been responding with inconsistent and, at times, incorrect information about the incidents.

The government has been slow in the release of some information, and, some critics have said, there has been no single reliable source of information. "It's not clear who is in charge," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee.

Yesterday, lawmakers gave contradictory accounts of whether there was anthrax in a Senate building's ventilation system and whether the bacterium found in Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle's office was a weapons-grade microbe. The Bush administration has been unable to agree whether the attacks amount to terrorism and what kind of risk the public faces.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11819-2001Oct17.html

CLARIFYING THE FACTS AND RISKS OF ANTHRAX
from The Washington Post

Confusion reigned yesterday as terms such as "weapons grade," "finely milled" and "potent" were thrown about by members of Congress and others describing the strain of the anthrax bacterium found in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.). Those and other terms are inexact, and relate to different aspects of the danger from B. anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax.

Click on the link below to read some (much needed) relevant facts relating to the anthrax microbe's potential to cause disease.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12043-2001Oct17.html

ELECTRIC CIRCUIT MADE FROM ORGANIC MOLECULES
from The Boston Globe

Bell Labs scientists announced yesterday that they had built a transistor just one molecule wide - an invention that promises a new generation of far faster, far cheaper computers.

Tiny transistors lie at the heart of modern electronics, and for decades engineers have competed to make them smaller and smaller without losing function. The new transistor, described in today's edition of the journal Nature, measures a mere 2 billionths of a meter from electrode to electrode, yet is still able to amplify electrical signals and switch off and on - a combination of essential features never before achieved on such a small scale.

''This shows the potential that you can miniaturize transistors down to the scale of molecules and make circuits out of them,'' said Hendrik Schon, a physicist at Bell Laboratories-Lucent Technologies, who led the research. ''A single molecule is the smallest you can go.''

The researchers cautioned that the new technology was years, at least, away from being usable in computer chips. But other scientists said the announcement will catch the attention of the traditional semiconductor industry because the researchers used widely available equipment - and they work in the same lab that built the world's first transistor and launched the modern computer age.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/291/nation/Molecule_wide_transistor_built+.shtml

QUIETLY, ANIMAL CLONING SPEEDS ONWARD
from The Christian Science Monitor

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - They are Big Bertha and Tiny Tina, a couple of piglets.

They may look and act differently (hence, their names), but these oinkers are identical. They are the newest cloned animals from Texas A&M University, which - with their births - leads the academic pack in the number of species cloned. And the fact that animals with the exact same genes can be different sizes and have different character traits may be just the first of many things that scientists hope can be learned from these little pigs.

This latest cloning project - and the wealth of information scientists hope it will provide - is just one of the many such animal-cloning experiments under way. Even as the human-cloning debate has dominated headlines and congressional hearings, scientists have cloned everything from mice to lambs to bulls.

And it is in the pens of these cloned animals - rather than the theoretical realm - where both the advances and problems of cloning are being played out.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/1015/p3s1-ussc.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

Talk on Turkish Creationism

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu

I've put a copy of a talk on Turkish creationism I intend to deliver at the CFI conference next month on the web. You can reach it from

http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/articles/semipopular.html

Note that it's a PowerPoint document.

I'm looking for comments and suggestions, naturally.

Taner Edis

Institute of Noetic Sciences and IONS Conference

http://www.noetics.org/

IONS 2001 Conference -- More than 1200 people attended our transfor-mational conference this year! Read this report from IONS President Wink Franklin. Order recordings of the presentations. Conference Feedback -- if you attended the conference, please give us your feedback.

Test your Psi ability! -- Online psi experiments by Dean Radin, Senior Scientist at IONS. (We will ask you for your email address.) Out soon! The next issue of our online newsletter, iConnect, will be available in early October. To receive it via email, sign up on our email list.

New! IONS' Member Stories -- "Insights from the Inside" and "The Void".

More Features -- Other features and activities.

Is There Life On Mars?

http://www.brad.ac.uk/admin/pr/pressreleases/2002/mars.htm

University of Bradford Press Release

IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?
October 10, 2001

University of Bradford PhD student Emma Newton is playing a part in helping NASA's planned exploration of Mars in 2005, a trip which many people hope will lead to discovering life on the planet.

Emma works in the Department of Chemical and Forensic Sciences studying lichens and cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) for the purpose of understanding the survival strategies adopted by life in the Antarctic. Scientists at NASA hope this type of work will provide a basis for studying any life forms on Mars, as the Antarctic provides one of the nearest Earth analogues to Mars.

Mars is a barren, rocky planet, unprotected from ultraviolet rays, freezing temperatures and sandstorms. Ice caps cover the poles, towering volcanoes and river-like channels and craters litter its surface. But, scientists believe that Mars did once have an atmosphere similar to that of Earth. Although Emma is at the cutting edge of science, she has her feet planted firmly on the ground.

She said: "Following the excitement created in the 1970s by the Viking Lander team, people have been interested in how life adapts to harsh climates. Scientists are therefore trying to figure out what kind of survival strategies microorganisms like lichens and cyanobacteria have developed in extreme climates like the Antarctic.

"We know that Mars used to be much warmer than it is now and had vast oceans but the water was then lost, leaving the surface extremely dry. The Antarctic has a similar environment to that proposed for early Mars and microorganisms similar to those we see in Antarctica may have had time to develop on Mars. Of course, this is a controversial idea, because many people do not agree that there was sufficient time for life to develop there. It is possible though, that signs of such life (biosignatures) could be preserved in sediments like those found at the bottom of Antarctic lakes."

The University is currently working with the University of Montana, Detection Limit and Dr David Wynn-Williams of British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on a project to send a miniature version of an FT-Raman spectrometer to Mars. Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive laser technique which allows scientists to look at molecular vibration of materials and so investigate living systems without damaging the surrounding environment. NASA has contracted the project out to several groups but only the most successful ideas will be chosen for the trip, planned for 2005.

The teams are faced with a tremendous challenge - the ambitious plans involve decreasing the weight of the equipment from a laboratory system of several kilos to just a few grams. Scientists at NASA plan to include the Raman spectrometer on a martian lander, which will seek to obtain information from beneath the surface. If all goes to plan, they hope this will reveal whether life existed on Mars.

When asked how she would feel to be involved in a project picked to go to Mars, she said: "It would be amazing to know I was there at the start of it all. Obviously the bigger picture is very exciting, but when you are involved in your research it is sometimes difficult to see how far it can be taken."

Emma is currently continuing the work of two Bradford PhD students, Nicola Russell and Jacci Holder, who previously used Raman spectroscopy to investigate different types of lichens from Antarctica. Emma works with her supervisor; Professor Howell Edwards, and Dr David Wynn-Williams of the BAS, based in Cambridge, who is able to provide samples from the cold climate of the Antarctic for her to study. Both the University and BAS are interested in finding out how these two microorganisms survive in such a harsh environment; where extreme winds take out the moisture in the air and high levels of UV radiation penetrate the ozone-depleted atmosphere.

Emma said: "Whereas some microbial communities live on the rock surface and use sunscreen pigments to protect themselves, others can live within the rocks themselves. These are known as endolithic and it can be pretty difficult to get a look at them. Raman spectroscopy makes it possible for us to examine these communities without damaging either the microbes or their habitat".

Over the last three years, Emma has advanced the studies of Russell and Holder and expanded the research to include cyanobacteria. She is obviously passionate about her work.

She said: "It is really enjoyable. I've been lucky enough to be able to work within the fairly new field of astrobiology, which is very varied and involves many disciplines. Being involved in research and seeing new discoveries is certainly fulfilling and I am looking forward to seeing what emerges over the next few decades."

* Note to Editors: A photograph of Emma Newton is available from the Corporate Communications office. See contact details below.

For further information contact Rachael Ellis in Corporate Communications on (01274) 233084/0787 9437986 or Lynda Isaac on (01274) 233089. Alternatively, e-mail r.ellis1@bradford.ac.uk or fax on (01274) 235460.


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