NTS LogoSkeptical News for 15 March 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, March 15, 2002

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.

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – March 15, 2002

U.S. IS STUDYING DNA OF DEAD AL QAEDA AND TALIBAN COMBATANTS
from The New York Times

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, March 14 — Forensic experts have begun testing the DNA of human tissue found in the battlefield around Shah-i-Kot Valley to determine whether any senior leaders of Al Qaeda or the Taliban were killed in the 13 days of fighting there, the commander overseeing the operation said today.

The officer, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, said troops scouring the high- altitude valley had gathered bodies and human remains of suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters killed in the fighting.

He said he did not believe that Osama bin Laden or any other senior member of either group were in the valley during the American-led assault. Just the same, General Hagenbeck said, he wanted to be sure.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/15/international/asia/15AFGH.html

PRIEST-PHYSICIST POLKINGHORNE WINS TEMPLETON RELIGION PRIZE
from The Los Angeles Times

John C. Polkinghorne, a British mathematical physicist and Anglican priest whose popular writings on reconciling religion and science have helped propel the boom of public interest in the field, was named winner of the 2002 Templeton Prize on Thursday.

The $1-million religion award is the world's largest annual monetary prize awarded to an individual. It was created in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, a global investor who wanted to offer a prize exceeding the Nobels to underscore his belief in the importance of advances in spiritual discoveries.

Polkinghorne, 71, calls himself a "two-eyed scientist-theologian" who needs both the scientific lens to study the processes of the world and the religious one to understand whether they have divine meaning and purpose. "I've tried to take both religion and science seriously and try to see them as complementary to each other and not rivals," he said in an interview from New York, where the prize was awarded. "The most important thing that they have in common is that both believe there is truth to be sought and found."

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000019089mar15.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

STUDY: BIG MAMMALS HAD ASIAN ROOTS
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Ancestors of camels, horses, rhinos and other animals may have evolved in Asia and crossed a land bridge to the Americas and then to Europe during a brief warm spell 55 million years ago, a study suggests.

An analysis of soils in southern China links primitive mammal fossils to a dramatic global warming event thought to have triggered a great animal migration that changed the environments of North America and Europe.

In a study that appears Friday in the journal Science, Chinese and American researchers say Earth's atmosphere suddenly was enriched with methane 55 million years ago as part of an abrupt era of warming. This occurred within a few thousand years of the first appearance in the North American fossil record of four groups of mammals, including distant primate cousins of man.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-ancient-migration0314mar14.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dscience%2Dheadlines

CHOLESTEROL LINKED TO ALZHEIMER'S
from The San Francisco Chronicle

A new study has found evidence that lowering cholesterol may be a strategy for preventing brain deterioration, the precursor of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco said that medications used to treat high cholesterol -- sold under brand names including Lipitor, Zocor and Mevacor -- also might improve cognitive functioning.

Scientists led by Dr. Kristine Yaffe, an assistant professor of psychology, neurology and epidemiology, looked at the mental test results of 1,037 elderly women participating in a four-year study of hormone replacement therapy.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/03/15/MN98671.DTL

CANCER CURE'S HARM
from Newsday

A method of cancer treatment that has long been used to protect children's hearts from the damaging effects of chemotherapy is ineffective, but a new protocol is being readied to keep heart disease at bay, New York researchers report today.

"The treatment of childhood cancer has been one of the most successful advances in medicine in the last 50 years," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a pediatric oncologist and cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In the 1960s fewer than 15 percent of children survived leukemia.

But while drugs used to treat leukemia now cure the disease in more than 80 percent of children, a class of drugs can cause heart damage in some patients. Lipshultz said medical literature is steeped in studies showing that patients cured of leukemia as children have an increased risk of developing heart disease as adults.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hscanc152625444mar15.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

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Crying statue not a miracle

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_542662.html

A police crime laboratory has dismissed a claim that a statue alleged to have been bleeding in a Sicilian town is a miracle.

Last week, thousands of people rushed to a square outside a church in Messina after someone spotted red liquid on a Padre Pio statue.

Many faithful, believing the statue was shedding tears of blood, prayed and wept before it.

On Monday, someone spotted a whitish film on the eye of another Padre Pio statue on a Messina street, prompting some to wonder if that was a miracle.

Messina Archbishop Giovanni Marra asked paramilitary police to test the substances.

Police have concluded that the substance on the statue's eye was insect secretion, probably from a spider.

Police earlier had concluded that the red liquid on the other statue was human blood.

A woman told a local TV station that her son, a drug addict, had used a syringe to squirt some of his own blood on to the statue in a prank.

William Hill halve odds on Nessie existing

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_542586.html?menu=news.quirkies

William Hill has halved the odds on proof being found that the Loch Ness Monster exists.

The odds have gone from being 500-1 to 250-1 following the discovery of an award winning amateur video of what is thought to be the mythical creature.

The bookmakers gave Bobbie Pollock £500 for the video which it named the Best Sighting Reported in 2001.

It sponsors the awards which are run by the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club.

Mr Pollock, of Glasgow, captured three-and-a-half minutes of footage of the creature as he walked at Invermoriston Bay with his wife their three-year-old son.

The 45-year-old said: "You could say it was a seal or a deer in the water, but I've seen things like that in the water and it definitely wasn't one of them."

He shot the footage in August 2000 but Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, says he kept it quiet initially because he was scared of being ridiculed.

Mark Stewart, curator of marine mammals at the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban, studied the video and was unable to say what the creature was.

Serena Momberg, of William Hill, said: "We are extremely excited with the caliber of footage our award has inspired and as a result a repeat of the Monster Hunt, which offered a six figure prize for the best proof that Nessie exists, is being talked about very seriously."

Le premier livre d'enquête indépendante sur le 11 septembre

The Dreadful Imposture

http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/actu/imposture.htm#1

The US Authorities have tried to make believe that the dammage caused to the Pentagon, on September 11, 2001 was caused by the crash of a hijacked Boeing airliner on the building. This lie was meant to hide the fact that a bombing attack was in fact carried out by a group of people who had authorized access to the Pentagon and that the target was not the Departement of Defense in general but the new Navy Command Center.

The US authorities have also lied in order to hide the existence of a secret CIA base within the World Trade Center and its illegal activities. But most of all they have put great efforts into concealing the negotiations carried out between George Bush and the conjurors on September 11, as well as the agreement that was reached on that day. With the help of their hired agent, Osama Bin Laden, they have channeled the sadness and the anger of the US public opinion towards foreign scapegoats.

In his book "L'Effroyable imposture" (The Dreadful Imposture), Thierry Meyssan reveals the secrets behind 9-11. He analyses the power shift within the US political establishment and the rocketing of the military expenses. He denounces the hidden agenda behind the war in Afghanistan and the secret aims of the "War on Terrorism". A must read if you want to understand where the US leadership is leading its country.

From: Scott Peterson

Phil Agre's Red Rock Eater News list had these URL's today that are pertinent to the original discussion.

The World Trade Center: Before, During, and After
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15224

More conspiracy theory about flight 77 (fascinating in its own cracked way -- as if you could hide a whole airplane)
http://www.humanunderground.com/11september/pent.html

And there were lots of eyewitnesses
http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?id=149495&article=19882

Skeptics put diviners to the test

http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s500788.htm

The world's largest gathering of water diviners will take place at Mitta Mitta in Victoria's north-east today as they attempt to prove their skill exists.

'Divining' is a system of using rods to detect water located underground.

The Australian Borderline Skeptics group has organised the event and is offering a $110,000 prize to the diviner who can find water.

Russell Kelly of the Borderline Skeptics says the challenge is intended to put to bed years of speculation.

"Our view is that there is no scientific evidence, it's more of a belief system,' he said.

"But water diviners are challenging us and saying they can do it and they can prove they can do it, and we're saying, 'well, put up or shut up, and if you can show us you can find water, we'll give you the money'."

Assaults in a Cloak of Faith

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-000018520mar13.story

* Fake spiritual healers in immigrant communities prey on women and girls in hundreds of sexual attacks, police say.

By MILTON CARRERO GALARZA, TIMES STAFF WRITER

Esmeralda was curious about the man who was known for his ability to see into the future.

She was 15 when she went to visit him at his house in southwest Los Angeles. She says the first thing he asked was whether she was a virgin. Her answer was yes.

WHCCAMP report "hijacked."

Consumer Health Digest
March 13, 2002.

WHCCAMP report "hijacked." The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) wants the Bush Administration to reject the final report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP), because the Commission has failed in its mission. Its final report does not appropriately assess "CAM" methods, lacks objectivity, and was principally the opinions of Commission leaders who revised it without most of the members ever seeing the final edition. The report is an unqualified endorsement of so-called "CAM," a New-Age marketing term which falsely proposes that untested and unscientific methods of care are equivalent to evidence-based medical practices. Some members of the Commission have objected to the methods and recommendations and issued a significant dissent, pointing out where the Commission had fallen short. WHCCAMP's public relations agency released a list of "final draft" recommendations more than a week ago. Subsequently, the Commission's leadership took control of the report and rewrote sections in an attempt to stifle dissent from several members. The final report went to the White House without the majority of the commissioners actually seeing the final copy. [White House Commission fails, lacking objectivity; leadership hijacks report; members speak out against recommendations.
[NCAHF news release, March 13, 2002]
http://www.ncahf.org/news/whc2.html

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Board Chairman, Quackwatch, Inc.
NCAHF Vice President and Director of Internet Operations
P.O. Box 1747, Allentown, PA 18105
Telephone: (610) 437-1795

http://www.quackwatch.com (health fraud and quackery)
http://www.chirobase.org (guide to chiropractic)
http://www.homeowatch.org (guide to homeopathy)
http://www.ihealthpilot.org (under construction)
http://www.mlmwatch.org (multi-level marketing)
http://www.nutriwatch.org (nutrition facts and fallacies)
http://www.ncahf.org (National Council Against Health Fraud)
http://www.chsourcebook.com (consumer health sourcebook)

Editor, Consumer Health Digest http://www.ncahf.org/digest/chd.html
Weekly column: http://www.canoe.ca/HealthAlternative/home.html
Donations of $1 to $50 to help support Quackwatch can be made through
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/pay/T1X6GUTTCLU3T4

BEHIND THE YATES KILLINGS: STERN RELIGION, PATRIARCHIAL TEACHINGS AND A RANTING STREET EVANGELIST

from AMERICAN ATHEISTS NEW, Wednesday, March 13, 2002

BEHIND THE YATES KILLINGS: STERN RELIGION, PATRIARCHIAL TEACHINGS AND A RANTING STREET EVANGELIST

Andrea Yates, the 37-year-old housewife who admitted to drowning her five children, was convicted of murder yesterday after just three hours of deliberation by a Texas jury.

The case and trial received national coverage. Last year, Yates called 911 to inform police that she had lured the youngsters into the bathroom and drowned them in the tub. Defense attorneys claimed that extreme postpartum depression rendered her incapable of rational thought, and that Yates was clinically insane at the time of the killings. They pointed to a long history of mental problems, including confinement in institutions, suicide attempts and a history of prescribed anti-depressive drug treatments.

Yates' precipitous slide into mental illness become the subject of reports on television and print media, including a feature story in Time Magazine. A book, "Breaking Point" by Texan author Suzy Spencer, delved into the Yates' family life.

One disturbing thread in the Yates saga involves the role of religious belief, and the family's ties to a controversial fire-and-brimstone street preacher named Michael Peter Woroniecki. Some accounts suggest that Woroniecki's extreme Christian fundamentalism may have contributed to Andrea Yates' psychological problems, which included a fixation with demonic possession and the view that human existence was continually "under the curse of sin and death."

Both Andrea Yates and her husband, Rusty, had a close and lengthy relationship with pastor Woroniecki and his wife, Rachel. Rusty first met the evangelist in the 1980s while a student at Auburn University. Woroniecki was touring the country in a trailer, preaching at college campuses and distributing literature reflecting his brand of cranky Old Testament religion.

According to the Grand Rapids Press newspaper, Rusty Yates described Woroniecki as "a quiet and simple preacher" who had broken with orthodox Protestantism and challenged "fat cat preachers" about their watered-down beliefs. Woroniecki and his wife then became "spiritual advisers" to the Yateses, who despite their marginal lifestyle often sent money to help the traveling preacher with expenses.

Woroniecki preached a stern and patriarchal doctrine. In letters and taped messages to the family, he claimed "all women are descendants of Eve and Eve was a witch. The women, particularly women who worked outside the home, are wicked." According to Spencer, one of those letters was sent to Andrea Yates in the spring of 1999, just a few months before her first suicide attempt.

"The Woroniecki's letters are hammering her about her salvation," Spencer said.

Woroniecki's street ministry has included not only informal appearances at college campuses where he berates students about sex and the devil, but stints at events like the Mardi Gras, the Rose Bowl and even the Olympic games. He sets up his microphone and begins a religious rant, frequently exchanging verbal barbs with onlookers. According to his brother, Woroniecki also travels to Mexico and has visions of establishing a ministry throughout Center America.

Michael Woroniecki was raised a Roman Catholic and spent his teenage years playing sports. He became a fullback for Central Michigan University. While hospitalized for an injury, he began reading a Bible given to him by his mother. "Once back on the field, Woroniecki wore a gold cross on his maroon CMU helmet," noted the Press. "By 1980, Woroniecki had morphed into one of Grand Rapid's most notorious street preachers," and began using a bullhorn on street corners to denounce sinners. Public events like concerts or even gatherings at local churches became a favorite venue.

He was arrested at least five time (sic) for a variety of offenses, including disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. In October, 1981, Woroniecki allegedly accosted a women who was attempting to purchase tickets for a circus, and told her "she was a sinner who was going to hell." Charges were filed, and as part of a plea bargain, Woroniecki agreed to leave Grand Rapids in exchange for no prosecution. He moved to Florida where he began touring the country with his wife and six children in a 17-foot travel trailer.

Despite his peripatetic lifestyle and self-imposed exile to the fringes of American religious culture, Woroniecki still somehow managed to make ends meet, and even take his family on international trips. In 1992, for instance, he preached outside the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Three years later he was in Morocco where a confrontation with Muslims ignited a small riot. The van he and his family were touring in was vandalized, and the Woronieckis were jailed, questioned and later released. Woroniecki is also known to have made trips to Russia, Greece and Belgium. In 1996 he was back in the United States where he preached to visitors at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. And in October, 2000, Woroniecki returned to Michigan where he and his daughter "sprinted across the field in Spartan Stadium during a Saturday football game in Lansing. Both were carrying pro-Christian banners."

The greatest publicity for the loquacious street preacher, though, would come from his close ties to the Yates case.

Andrea Yates was obsessed with religion and the power of Satan. Following her arrest, for instance, she told doctors that the deaths of her five children were punishment, and that only execution would free her from the clutches of the devil. She also wanted her head shaved so she could see the number 666 on her skull, the alleged "Mark of the Beast."

At home, the Yates family lived a lifestyle saturated with stern, patriarchal religion -- most of it conforming to the teachings of Michael Woroniecki and his wife. In one letter, Rachel Woroniecki wrote, "Life is so short. It is so very cruel. It is so lonely and empty. You must accept the reality that this life is under the curse of sin and death."

Noted Spencer in her book "Breaking Point, "They (the Woronieckis) constantly equate loneliness, depression, anything negative in your life is separation from God and alignment with Satan."

Indeed, Yates later discussed a trip to Florida during the summer of 1998 when she and her husband met the Woronieckis and discussed the purchase of a motor home. It was, according to Andrea, the first epiphany that "the devil had gotten into her," Spencer said.

There were also the peculiar views of Rusty Yates, who saw his wife's mental illness as an indication that her resistance to evil had been lowered. And, too, there was the non-stop sequence of pregnancies and births. Birth control was not part of the agenda at the Yates household. The youngsters were home-schooled according to Woroniecki's teachings, placing more stress and responsibility on their mother.

Randy Yates had also absorbed the patriarchal teachings of Michael Woroniecki which held that women should occupy a subservient position in the home. This and other elements of Christian fundamentalism were encouraged through a regimen of family Bible study three nights a week, presumably since Rusty had not found a church compatible with his beliefs. According to the Apologetics Research web site, Andrea was "moved by the repent-or-burn zeal" of Woroniecki's teachings. "The role of woman is derived .. from the sin of Eve," wrote the itinerant preacher. There was also the belief that bad "seed" leads to generational contamination - that sinful parents will spawn sinful and evil children.

Trial Revelations

Woroniecki's role as a "spiritual leader" and friend of the Yates family emerged at the close of the trial. Defense attorney George Parnham admitted into evidence a copy of Woroniecki's newsletter, "The Perilous Times." One section included a poem excoriating the disobedient children of a "Modern Mother Worldly."

"What becomes of the children of such a Jezebel?" asked the poem. Houston psychiatrist Lucy Puryear testified that this type of literature is "what her (Yates') delusions are built around."

Another incident underscored Woroniecki's authoritarian and misogynistic religious beliefs. During a 1994 rant at Brigham Young University, for instance, he described women as "contemporary witches."

"Go and be a 20th century career woman and forget about your families," he told an informal gathering of curious Mormon students. A pamphlet distributed by Rachel Woroniecki to onlookers proclaimed, "As man was created to dominate, God reveals was woman was created to be his helpmeet (sic)."

On the stand, Randy Yates repeated that sentiment, telling the court "Man is the breadwinner and woman is the homemaker. It's the way it's been for years."

He also detailed his family's close relationship with Michael Woroniecki, noting that the preacher believed that by the time a child reached the age of 14 or 15, it may be too late to undo the damage of the secular world. Attorney Parnham pressed for Yates to explain.

"I think what he's (Woroniecki) saying, it might keep them from following the Lord long-term. The vast majority of people are going to hell..."

A Growing Fringe: Demonic Possession, Exorcism

Jurors decided that Andrea Yates was "sane" and knew right from wrong when she systematically enticed her children into the bathroom and methodically murdered them. The trial produced overwhelming evidence, however, that there were time throughout her life when she was caught up in the web of mental illness, enthralled by delusions about her own sinfulness and lack of self-worth, and the immanence of demonic control. These ideas are quietly shunned by many mainstream Christian denominations, but they inform a growing subculture of American religions who see the world as a stage of "spiritual warfare" between God and Satan. Most might reject the low-rent tactics of an crude, loutish preacher like Woroniecki, but many of his teachings concerning a subservient status of women, emphasis on suffering and guilt, and the notion of demonic possession resonate in a thriving and growing subculture.

Since the late 1970s, for instance, there have been periodic waves of "Satanic panic" involving fears of devil-worshipping cults, or the belief that Satan exists as a real force in human affairs. The recent popularity of the Harry Potter juvenile book series, for instance, was accompanied by concerns that the novels enticed children into Satanism and the occult. The 1973 hit movie "The Exorcist" has remained popular fare on television and VHS. That contributed to the pop-culture fascination with "Satan's Underground," the subject of numerous -- and questionable -- books, documentaries and media specials through the 1980s by self-styled experts who warned of a proliferation of cabals of powerful devil worshippers. Not surprisingly, there has been a steady proliferation of claims involving demonic possession. From 1989 to 1995, over 300 possible exorcism cases were examined by the Roman Catholic Church in the New York City.

Pentecostals, Charismatic Protestants and others have joined the exorcism road show, and the ritual now incorporates emotionally-charged "prayer meetings" and "healing" gatherings.

Michael Cuneo, author of the new book "American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty" observes that the fascination with demonic possession and exorcism has recently moved closer to the cultural mainstream.

"I have seen several hundred impeccably groomed, middle-class Americans writhing and shrieking and groaning (some simulating masturbation) while attempting to free themselves from demons of sexual perversity ... I have watched an avuncular physician exorcise spirits of guilt and self-hatred from one of his patients..."

And what about the resurgence of harsh, Old Testament style Christianity?

As enrollment in mainstream denominations declines or stagnates, it is the energetic fundamentalist, Charismatic and Pentecostal churches that are finding a new, wider and credulous audience. Christian Reconstructionists advocate the creation of a "Bible-based society" founded on Old Testament law. Such a regime would ban abortion, punish a wide range of trivial offenses (such as disobedience to one's parents or the practicing of "witchcraft") with death, and eviscerate the First Amendment separation of church and state. On a less politically explicit level, books and videos dealing with themes such as the Apocalypse, demonic possession and "spiritual warfare" are enjoying new-found popularity not only within religious groups but with the wider culture as well.

Andrea Yates may not have been technically "insane" under the law when she murdered her five children, but she was certainly disturbed, mad, and wracked with religious delusions. Not everyone who follows fringe evangelists like Michael Woroniecki, or might agree with many of his Old Testament teachings would commit such a ghastly act, of course. But the line separating authoritarian religious conviction and mental illness may be more tenuous than courts, or American society, might wish to admit.

For further information:

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/devil1.htm
("An excess of Exorcisms? Gullibility, fraud and popular culture fuel a new fascination with demonic possession," 12/7/00)

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/devil2.htm
("I was a teenage devil worshipper ... sort of," by Tim Mitchell 9/27/01)

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/witch4.htm
("As Harry Potter works box office magic, some religious warn of occult seduction," 11/20/01)

http://www.atheists.org/convention
(Michael Cuneo, author of "American Exorcism" to speak at the American Atheists National Convention)

"Best Occult Supplies" in Los Angeles

From the NEW TIMES Best of LA issue:

BEST OCCULT SUPPLIES Eye of the Cat 3314 East Broadway Long Beach 562-438-3569 www.eyeofthecat.com

If you need it and they don't have it, it's got to be illegal. Nothing like those scads and scads of new-age self-help trend-of-the-week places masquerading as witch shops, Eye of the Cat seems the genesis of things mystical and powerful. Which is why some first-timers get a bit uneasy. This isn't where suburbanites have their midlife crises, but where people with serious interests in all forms of the occult--Western to Eastern, High to Low Majick--come to stock up on tools of the trade. A bit dark, with a cat or two always lurking about, the shop is filled with heady scents, not just incense, but he competing aromas of bins and bins of herbs and shelves upon shelves of candles and oils. While t heir selection of books and divining tools is quite good, it's in the bins that you'll find the treasures--mandrake root, chunks of sulfur, balm of Gilead buds. for the student of the occult sciences, Eye of the Cat is an essential location.

Florida Town Finds Satan an Offense Unto It

March 14, 2002

By RICK BRAGG

Carolyn Risher has banished Satan from Inglis, Fla., -- by mayoral proclamation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/national/14SATA.html?ex=1017115678&ei=1&en=2ef4524b28d02e95

Creationism UK

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,5500,664608,00.html

Top school's creationists preach value of biblical story over evolution

State-funded secondary teachers do not accept findings of Darwin

Tania Branigan
Saturday March 9, 2002
The Guardian

Fundamentalist Christians who do not believe in evolution have taken control of a state-funded secondary school in England. In a development which will astonish many British parents, creationist teachers at the city technology college in Gateshead are undermining the scientific teaching of biology in favour of persuading pupils of the literal truth of the Bible.

Emmanuel College - set up by the Tories - is designated a beacon school by the Labour government and its backers are sponsoring a city academy to be built in nearby Middlesbrough.

City technology colleges are technically independent schools but charge no fees because they are funded by the government as well as the private sector. City academies are similar although local education authorities have to agree to their creation. The school is hosting a creationist conference this weekend and senior staff have given a series of lectures at the college urging teachers to promote biblical fundamentalism and giving tips on techniques to make pupils doubt the theory of evolution.

The creationist lobby has become increasingly notorious in the US, but until recently it has been relatively weak in Europe. The Anglican and Catholic hierarchies have accepted evolution as a fact, with the Pope saying it was "more than just a hypothesis."

Under the national curriculum, schools must teach evolution but are not banned from teaching creationism as well. That leaves Emmanuel's teachers free to present evolution merely as a "theory" no different from the idea that the world was made in six days.

Nigel McQuoid, the school's head, told us it was "fascist" to say that schools should not consider creationist theories.

Mr McQuoid and his predecessor John Burn wrote in an article in 1997: "To teach children that they are nothing more than developed mutations who evolved from something akin to a monkey and that death is the end of everything is hardly going to engender within them a sense of purpose, self-worth and self-respect."

Emmanuel is a non-denominational Christian school which achieves consistently outstanding academic results and received a glowing Ofsted report last year.

Sponsorship

It was built with £2m of sponsorship from Sir Peter Vardy, the multimillionaire entrepreneur behind the Reg Vardy car dealerships, who remains chairman of the college's board of directors.

Another of Emmanuel's directors is Baroness Cox, the Conservative peer who in 1988 sponsored amendments to the education reform bill stating that religious education in state schools should be "in the main Christian". Sir Peter, an evangelical Christian, has donated a further £2m via his charitable Vardy Foundation to build a city academy in nearby Middlesbrough, due to open in 2003, and has offered to fund five more. Mr McQuoid and Mr Burn, the Vardy Foundation's chief education adviser, are helping to set it up, as no head has yet been appointed.

Mr Burn is one of the founders of the Newcastle-based Christian Institute, set up in 1991 to promote fundamentalist Christian beliefs. It now boasts 12 full-time employees, 10,000 supporters and according to its accounts it earned £500,000 last year, all in donations. Other founding members of the institute include the Rev David Holloway, vicar at Jesmond parish church in Newcastle and the Rev George Curry, who presides at two churches in the inner city area of Elswick and chairs the council of the Church Society, the leading evangelist body in the Church of England. Both men are traditionalists and outspoken opponents of the ordination of women.

Mr Holloway is also a founder member of Reform, an evangelical pressure group within the Church of England, and in the 1980s proposed that bishops should face a "heresy test".

The Christian Institute has no formal links to the school, but senior members of staff have published papers on education on the organisation's website.

In a lecture co-authored by Mr Burn and Mr McQuoid, they observe: "Clearly schools are required to teach evolutionary theory. We agree that they should teach evolution as a theory and faith position... Clearly also schools should teach the creation theory as literally depicted in Genesis. Ultimately, both creation and evolution are faith positions."

Mr McQuoid stresses that the school teaches alternatives to the Christian faith, discussing other religions and even atheism, and says that he wants his pupils to learn to make up their own minds.

He said: "A group of folk have contacted the press saying it's not legitimate to have a school consider the scientific case for creation. I think that's fascist.

"The evolution/creation debate is all about to what extent the scientific evidence is there to support or undermine the other view... I don't think [evolution] is as proven as the world being round."

But in lectures several of his staff members have urged teachers to "show the superiority" of creationist theories. In a lecture given at the college last year, to an adult audience, the vice-principal, Gary Wiecek, commented: "As Christian teachers it is essential that we are able to counter the anti-creationist position... It must be our duty as Christian teachers to counter these false doctrines with well-founded insights."

In another talk, Paul Yeulett, senior assessment co-ordinator and maths teacher, says that evolutionists have "a faith which is blind and vain by comparison with the faith of the Christian... A Christian teacher of biology will not (or should not) regard the theory of evolution as axiomatic, but will oppose it while teaching it alongside creation."

The star speaker at today's conference at Emmanuel is Ken Ham, president of the Answers in Genesis international ministry, whose lectures include Evolution: The Anti-God Religion of Death.

Mr McQuoid said the school had hired itself to Answers in Genesis as a venue; the conference was not a school event.

Sir Peter, who was knighted last year, left school at 16 with one O-level, but transformed his father's business from a single outlet to a network of 80 dealerships around the country. But he chooses to draw an annual salary of £120,000 and distribute the entire annual dividend from his private shareholding to educational and children's causes via the Vardy Foundation. He said: "All we are saying is that it's up to children to make their own minds up. I haven't had any complaints... The parents are happy, the students and teachers are happy; we have them standing in queues waiting to get in."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "What schools need to do is teach the national curriculum in an impartial way. Personal doctrines should not override anything that should be taught in the curriculum." A spokesman for Middlesbrough council said: "On the evidence we have, the situation [at Emmanuel] is that evolution is taught there and children are made aware - as we anticipate them being [in Middlesbrough] - of alternative theories."

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,5500,664595,00.html

Comment

A scientist's view

Richard Dawkins
Saturday March 9, 2002
The Guardian

The Rome-deniers, let's imagine, are a well-organised group of nutters, implacably convinced that the Roman empire never existed. The Latin language, for all its rich literature and its romance language grandchildren, is a Victorian fabrication.

The Rome-deniers are, no doubt, harmless wingnuts, more harmless than the Holocaust-deniers whom they resemble. Smile and be tolerant. But your tolerance might wear thin if you are a scholar and teacher of Roman history or literature.

And what if Rome-deniers manage to infiltrate the teaching staff of an otherwise reputable school, and energetically promote their inanities to a susceptible new generation? A normally tolerant person could be forgiven for wanting to see those teachers fired.

Well, that's approximately where I stand with respect to the clique of Genesis creationists who have moved in on Emmanuel College, Gateshead. What they deny is the unassailable evidence for biological evolution. The present head of the school, Nigel McQuoid, with his predecessor John Burn, wrote the following: "We agree that [schools] should teach evolution as a theory and faith position... Clearly also schools should teach the creation theory as literally depicted in Genesis. Both creation and evolution provide ways of explaining the past that are beyond direct scientific examination and verification. Ultimately, both creation and evolution are faith positions." The vice-principal, head of science, senior assessment coordinator and maths teacher, have all said something similar.

Creation as literally depicted in Genesis is indeed supported by faith (and needs to be, since it is not supported by anything else, certainly not the Pope, nor the Roman or Anglican hierarchies). Evolution, on the other hand, is supported by evidence.

Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions (or even millions!) of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood. These men disgrace the honourable profession of teacher. By comparison, real teachers, teachers who respect truth and evidence whether in science or history, have so much more to offer. Today's children are blessed with the opportunity to open their minds to the shattering wonder of their own existence, the nature of life and its remarkable provenance in a yet more remarkable universe. Teachers who help to open young minds perform a duty which is as near sacred as I will admit. Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege.

Richard Dawkins FRS is Oxford University's Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.

THE PARANORMAL NEWSLETTER

Vol. 3/Issue 4 ~ March 2002
Publisher: eAcceleration Corp. -
http://www.eacceleration.com
Editor: Maggie H.

ARTICLES:
* Editorial Comments
* Reincarnation Stories - Reader's Contributions
* Ouija's Origins

Editorial Comments

This is the March edition of the Paranormal Newsletter, published monthly, courtesy of eAcceleration Corp. Only the plain text version is available at this time. Please visit our sponsors--help keep this newsletter free.

To those of you asking for ghost information by state, there is a website with information on ghost hunting groups that is searchable by state at:
http://www.ghostamerica.com/
I'm sure they could give you further information. And scroll down the page further--they have other ghost information.

Some of you asked about communicating with spirits, near-death experiences and the spirit world. These are a few of the sites that cover that topic:
http://www.near-death.com/
http://www.spiritjourney.co.uk/spiritworld.html
http://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Death/Near_Death_Experiences/

Some of you may remember that we had an article on "Indigo Children" last summer. It is believed by many people that humanity is evolving into a new level of consciousness or awareness; and that these children will lead the way. More information has surfaced in the form of letters and a new book by James F. Twyman: "Emissary of Love - The Psychic Children Speak to the World" His websites are: http://www.emissaryoflove.com/index.htm and http://www.jamestwyman.com . In his discussions with some of these psychic children, he has discovered that an energy grid of love has developed-- strengthened by these children:
1. To draw in the souls of other Psychic Children who would help shift the paradigm.
2. To offer an energetic platform for the rest of us to ascend to their level of awareness. The book does, of course, have a charge--however, a three part message will be emailed to anyone who asks for the "Thomas Messages". You can receive them two ways:

1. Click OR Cut & Paste this URL in your web browser and click on Subscribe:
http://www.topica.com/lists/ThomasMessages

OR

2. Send a BLANK email to
mailto:ThomasMessages-subscribe@topica.com

Amazon.com - *Glow-In-The-Dark* Ouija Board

This intriguing game has been around for many years, and now Parker Brothers has a glow-in-the-dark version of the old classic. And right below it is a link to "Ouija Oracle Card Game" by U S Games Systems, Inc.

http://www2.buttonware.net/redirect/amazon_ouija.html

(Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S.)

Reincarnation Stories - Reader's Contributions

Last month, we relayed two readers' contributions and some more links about reincarnation. I am putting two more contributions in this newsletter (edited a bit to reduce length).

First Contribution:

This is an incident which happened to me when I was probably about 13 years of age.
On that unusual evening, one of my father's colleagues had come to our place. While, he was talking, he informed my father that his friend was also accompanying him and that he was standing outside our place.
My father, showing civilities, immediately told me to bring the gentleman in. I went outside, and as I was approaching him (he was standing with his back towards me), I slowed down because I was having an unusual feeling that I knew him. When I reached him, I heard myself say, "Mr. Ashok, my dad is calling you in," and I was surprised down to my knees that how did I know his name? I tried to recall everything (i.e. the conversation between my dad's colleague and my dad), and I even asked my dad as well (before telling him the incident), but we all came to the conclusion that I was never told the gentleman's name. (Interestingly, Dad never knew his name, even after both of them had left our place). Somehow, I knew his name and there was a strange feeling inside me that I also knew this gentleman closely.
Now, what would you call this? My Dad asked my Palmist uncle about this, and he explained that sometimes we come across certain places and we feel that we have been there sometime before. Sometimes, we come across a certain incident and we feel that this has happened to us before, but we are not sure where and when? This happens because there is a life after death and life before life. We feel in such a way when we come across certain things which were associated with our previous life.
"Name withheld"
Chandigarh, India
Second Contribution:
Years ago, my wife dragged me to a psychic fair at the Seattle Center. Lots of things were going on that I mostly considered foolishness. A woman was offering past life regressions. I paid my money and got to lay down (the biggest selling feature at that point).
I allowed my mind to follow her directions and soon found myself in a field by a split rail fence talking to a neighbor. He was dressed like the Amish. We were under a big shade tree next to the fence. Below was a river valley with gently rolling hills on either side.
I then moved forward a bit in time. I was in main room of the house. A woman was in a rocking chair. A young boy and girl were playing on the floor. The girl was a little older than the boy. The light was not very bright, probably from a kerosene lamp. Everything in the room was made from wood.
I moved forward again. In a barn there was a fire. I was fighting the fire. My wife and childern were safe but I did not survive the fire.
That was my experience with past life regression. Other than the instruction to "Go to an important time in your life," there was no leading by the woman guiding me.
"Name withheld"
Seattle, WA
Thanks once again, to our contributers, for their personal stories. If we receive further contributions, I will revisit this topic again in a few months.

Ouija's Origins

We've had questions this month about ouija boards. There's plenty of information on this subject on the Internet. What follows is a brief summation of what I discovered, and a couple of links if you'd like to pursue them.

A ouija board is a means for communication with discarnate entities, a device for divining the future; OR it's a board game. It really depends on your attitude and interests. The basic design is simple. Its base is a smooth gameboard painted with symbols, the letters of the alphabet, numbers from 0 to 9, and the words "yes" and "no". The only other equipment is a smaller palm-sized triangle with three short legs used as a pointer. The board is placed on the operator's lap or on a table. The pointer is placed on the board; and two or more people rest their fingertips lightly on its edges. Someone asks a question; and the expected response is that the pointer will move around the board resting on a word, a number, or letters to spell out an answer.

Ouija's history is long and controversial, in the legal sense, at least. One source said that the name comes from the French "oui" and the German "ja", both which mean "yes"; and attribute its invention to William Fuld of Baltimore in 1892. Another source fills on the details. It states that there were many versions in Europe in the mid-1800s. The earliest known patent was filed in London in 1854. The idea made its way into the USA around 1890. This source lists seven men (one of which was Mr. Fuld) who combined their resources to create the Kennard Novelty Company of Baltimore, Maryland, centered around the production of the Ouija board. Although the device became popular with spiritualists and occultists for divination purposes, the patent holders did not make that claim. Their Ouija board was sold as a board game.

I won't go into the long story of the legal patent battles and buyouts that followed for years between these men, their descendants, and their competitors. The story ends with the acquisition of the Ouija (now a trademarked name) by Hasbro, Inc. on February 23, 1966.

Details of the legal history can be found at http://www.cryptique.com/history.html if you are interested.

Another website with information is: The Museum of Talking Boards

Editor: Maggie

I welcome suggestions on topics you'd like discussed. You may respond with questions or comments at:

Seeing the future—or just dollar signs?

Miss Cleo born in Los Angeles

http://www.courttv.com/news/feature/cleo/misscleo_ctv.html

By Matt Bean
Court TV

Alone and depressed, Stephen Schwartz was flipping through channels one evening in late 1999 when Miss Cleo appeared on his television screen. The 49-year-old supermarket delivery man became transfixed as the psychic doled out insights into love, finance and employment prospects. When she offered to do the same for him — free for the first three minutes and at a discounted rate for the rest of the call — Schwartz decided it was a deal he could not pass up.


Thursday, March 14, 2002

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 – March 14, 2002

WHITE HOUSE WITHDRAWS NOMINATION OF NASA DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR
from The Associated Press

The White House has withdrawn its nomination of a top San Diego Marine official for NASA's No. 2 job because of the ongoing war against terrorism, the space agency said Wednesday.

President Bush announced his intention in January to nominate Marine Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden as deputy administrator at NASA. NASA was notified Tuesday -- one day before Bolden's confirmation hearing in the Senate -- that the nomination was being withdrawn.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said he was disappointed Bolden would not be returning to NASA, but added that he supported the president's decision.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/03/13/state1918EST0146.DTL

QUESTIONS RAISED ON STEM CELLS
from The Washington Post

Scientists said yesterday that some stem cells from adult animals appear less able to morph into any kind of tissue than they had thought, raising the prospect that adult cells may not offer a suitable alternative to cells obtained from embryos.

The finding, though preliminary, could influence a debate in Congress over the use of cloned embryonic stem cells in medical research. Proponents of a ban on embryo cloning have argued that stem cells derived from adult tissues are so promising an alternative that the embryo work is unnecessary.

Two new papers cast doubt on that claim, suggesting that the development of new treatments from adult cells may be a longer, harder road than many scientists had expected -- if indeed it turns out to be possible at all.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24038-2002Mar13.html

IN BREAKTHROUGH, MONKEY THINK, COMPUTER DO
from The Los Angeles Times

An experimental brain implant the size of an M&M has allowed a monkey to control a computer cursor by thought alone, Brown University researchers announced Wednesday.

It is the latest advance by scientists trying to perfect a link between mind and machine in the hope that thousands of patients who are unable to move or speak can resume communication with the world around them.

The development heralds a future when the paralyzed and infirm may send e- mail, surf the Web and command other computer resources simply by thinking about them. The new device, described in research published today in Nature, uses a special mathematical formula to translate signals from a few motor neurons on the surface of the monkey's brain via cable into movement on a computer screen. There is no need for the extensive training previous experimental techniques have required.

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-000018796mar14.story

'BLUE JET' GIVES RESEARCHERS A BIG CHARGE
from The Christian Science Monitor

For researchers Victor Pasko and Mark Stanley, tossing a keenly sensitive digital video camera into their kit as they headed to Puerto Rico last September was an afterthought.

It turned out to be a good move. During the last hour of the last night they were in the field, the two men recorded an event that may help solve a long-standing mystery about earth's electrical system.

The duo was preparing to spend a month in Puerto Rico to track the effect of lightning on the earth's ionosphere using radar at the National Radiotelescope and Ionospheric Center at Arecibo.

But they also thought they might have a chance to capture the antics of blue jets and sprites - elusive fountains of light that lance upward from the tops of thunderheads or plunge from the bottom of the ionosphere during thunderstorms. Ever since these discharges were first captured on video in 1989, scientists have puzzled over the role they might play in the earth's electrical system.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0314/p16s01-stss.html

AS ICE MELTS, CLIMATE-STUDY FUNDS DRY UP
from The Christian Science Monitor

Just as signs of climate change are becoming clearer throughout the Arctic, scientists are losing some of their ability to keep track of them.

Monitoring stations are closing across northern Canada, Russia, and the United States as governments cut budgets and shift spending priorities. This knocks holes in the networks that record stream flow, precipitation, air temperature, and other climate data.

Satellites with radar and infrared and visible-light sensors can take up some of the slack. "But you really can't do things with remote sensing without on-site observations" to check out what satellites see, says Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Dr. Scambos joined fellow climatologists to express their frustration during a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0314/p16s02-sten.html

ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND MAYAN 'MASTERPIECE' IN GUATEMALA
from The New York Times

Archaeologists exploring deep in the rain forest of Guatemala have uncovered what they think is the earliest intact wall painting of the Maya civilization. A depiction of scenes from mythology and ritual, the 1,900- year-old mural is being hailed by experts as a masterpiece.

Even though only part of the mural has been exposed so far, scholars said the scenes and portraits promised rare insights into the society and religion of the Maya. The paintings, dated about A.D. 100, are described as more extensive and better preserved than the only other existing piece of Pre-Classic wall art. What is known as the Maya Classic period lasted from A.D. 250 to about A.D. 900.

"It opens a window into the mythological and courtly life of the ancient Maya," said Dr. William Saturno, a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire and researcher at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/science/14MAYA.html

AT AIRPORT GATE, A CYBORG UNPLUGGED
from The New York Times

STEVE MANN, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, has lived as a cyborg for more than 20 years, wearing a web of wires, computers and electronic sensors that are designed to augment his memory, enhance his vision and keep tabs on his vital signs. Although his wearable computer system sometimes elicited stares, he never encountered any problems going through the security gates at airports.

Last month that changed. Before boarding a Toronto-bound plane at St. John's International Airport in Newfoundland, Dr. Mann says, he went through a three-day ordeal in which he was ultimately strip- searched and injured by security personnel. During the incident, he said, $56,800 worth of his $500,000 equipment was lost or damaged beyond repair, including the eyeglasses that serve as his display screen.

His lawyer in Toronto, Gary Neinstein, sent letters two weeks ago to Air Canada, the airport and the Canadian transportation authority arguing that they acted negligently and seeking reimbursement for the damaged equipment so that Dr. Mann could put his wearable computer back together again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/technology/circuits/14MANN.html

A TRUE BELIEVER DISMISSES INDIFFERENCE TO BIOINFORMATICS
from The Washington Post

Bioinformatics -- the marriage of biology and information technology -- is changing the way scientists study disease and develop medicines, replacing hours of tedious laboratory work with a few mouse clicks.

But bioinformatics companies, which captured Wall Street's imagination in the late 1990s, are losing their luster with investors. For instance, shares of InforMax Inc., a Bethesda software maker, are trading near their all-time low.

Yet Stephen E. Lincoln, InforMax's chief scientific officer, is as bullish as ever on the future of the industry.

"We're convinced that bioinformatics will be at the core of everything in the life sciences," Lincoln said. "We're moving into a world where medicine won't be practiced by outward observation but a molecular understanding of life and disease."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23870-2002Mar13.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

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http://www.americanscientist.org

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



Wednesday, March 13, 2002

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 – March 13, 2002

DRUG WASTES POLLUTE WATERWAYS
from The Washington Post

The first nationwide study of pharmaceutical pollution of rivers and streams offers an unsettling picture of waterways contaminated with antibiotics, steroids, synthetic hormones and other commonly used drugs.

Of the 139 streams analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey in 30 states -- including Maryland and Virginia -- about 80 percent contained trace amounts of contaminants that are routinely discharged into the water in human and livestock waste and chemical plant refuse.

Seven or more chemical compounds were found in half the streams sampled and 10 or more compounds were found in a third of the streams; a single water sample contained as many as 38 chemicals.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17092-2002Mar12.html

U.N. CLIMATE OFFICIAL SEES MORE CHANCE OF EL NINO
from Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - The chances have increased that El Nino, the climate anomaly that can wreak havoc around the Pacific, will return this year but it is too soon to predict its intensity, a senior U.N. climate official said Wednesday.

"The probabilities of an El Nino developing have gone up," said Michael Coughlan, coordinating director for climate action at the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

"There is a fair level of uncertainty over the intensity, although it does not appear to have the intensity of 1997-1998," he told Reuters, referring to the last time El Nino struck.

The weather phenomenon caused billions of dollars of damage four years ago, bringing floods to the South American coast and drought to parts of Southeast Asia and Australia.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=694952

SCIENTISTS MEET TO SET WEATHER ROBOT RELEASE
from Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Scientists met in Australia on Wednesday to launch the next wave in a global climate-alert system by seeding the southern seas with thousands of floating hi-tech robots.

The early fruit of a scientific focus on global weather and the seas, 347 5- feet-tall robotic profilers now ride the world's waves to gather and transmit real-time climate data.

Almost all are in the northern hemisphere. Now, the focus is switching south.

Within the next four years, 3,000 free-floating ocean robots will be deployed in oceans around the world, most of them in the southern hemisphere.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=693733

1826 PHOTOGRAPH TO UNDERGO UNPRECEDENTED SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS
from The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- One summer morning, Joseph Nicephore Niepce peered from the window of an upstairs bedroom in his home in the French countryside, framed the view of several farm buildings, the sky and a pear tree and did something remarkable: he took a picture.

Opening the lens of a rudimentary camera for eight hours that day in 1826, Niepce exposed a polished, thinly varnished pewter plate to a view that was as banal then as it is famous today. For the resulting image is acknowledged as the world's first photograph.

In June, 176 years later, the faint image will arrive at The Getty Conservation Institute, where scientific experts will analyze the priceless image for the first time since it was rediscovered and authenticated in 1952.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/03/13/state0302EST0002.DTL

CROCODILES RESURFACE IN FLORIDA, INCLUDING ON BEACHES
from The Christian Science Monitor

Miami - Crocodiles are on the prowl in south Florida.

The sharp-toothed cousins of the American alligator are listed as an endangered species. But recent sightings of crocs in the surf off the beach at Boca Raton and among yachts moored in the Intracoastal Waterway at Jupiter have prompted speculation that the once-imperiled reptiles are making a comeback.

If true, it would mark a major victory for conservationists working to reverse the American crocodile's seeming inevitable slide toward extinction in the US. It would also mean that surfers and ocean swimmers in south Florida will have to watch out for more than just sharks.

"They are increasing in numbers, and they are reoccupying areas within their historic range, but now there are people in those areas," says Dawn Jennings, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Vero Beach.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0312/p02s02-ussc.html

21ST-CENTURY PLUMBING FOR NEW YORK CITY'S LEAKY OLD WATER TUNNEL
from The New York Times

NEWBURGH, N.Y. — All along the East Coast, drought has shriveled streams as never before. But tucked in the woods 70 miles north of New York City, a deep pool of clear water spills into a sparkling brook that runs downhill to the Hudson River.

No matter how dry the weather, gauges measure a flow of four million to six million gallons a day.

No one is thrilled, however.

The sinkhole and half a dozen other springs and wet spots nearby are fed by leaks 600 feet underground in one of the most important water tunnels in the world, the 85-mile Delaware Aqueduct.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/science/12AQUE.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

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http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
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Artificial Structures on Mars

http://metaresearch.org/solar%20system/cydonia/asom/artifact_html/

Overview: When it comes to evidence for artifacts on Mars, people divide into two categories: those who find scientific analysis more convincing than imagery; and those who find the reverse to be true. Here, we present evidence that may appeal to both categories.

Images 2-12 deal with statistical proof that at least one Martian surface feature, the 'Face' on Mars, is artificial.

Image 13 shows one of the better examples of a suspected artifact anywhere else in the solar system than on Earth or Mars. Later improved imagery showed it likely to be a natural object.

Images 14-52 show images of possible artifacts on Mars of the character that, if seen on Earth, they would immediately be categorized as the products of large-scale biological, and in many cases human, activity.

Images 53-55 give our primary conclusion and some speculative implications.

All faiths question handling of abuse

Debate over celibacy as factor is rancorous

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 3/13/2002

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/072/metro/All_faiths_question_handling_of_abuseP.shtml

The scourge of clergy sexual abuse has afflicted virtually every religious denomination: In recent years rabbis, ministers, and gurus have all been charged with molesting children.

Hare Krishna temples are filing for bankruptcy because of the anticipated cost of settling abuse litigation, and the Jehovah's Witnesses are facing a first round of lawsuits.

But the Catholic Church has been hit with many more allegations of clergy sexual abuse than any other faith or denomination.

How psychics work

www.astrology.msn.com

What happens during a psychic love reading?

"When will I find my soulmate?"

Of all the subjects people bring up with their Psychic, romance and relationship questions are by far the most common. Over and over, Psychics report, someone will begin a reading with questions on issues ranging from work to family to friends -- and then abruptly switch the conversation to what's really on their mind, love.

Now an ordinary Psychic reading has become a Psychic love reading, with its own rules and patterns. Your understanding can mean the difference between an ordinary reading and one that helps your fondest romantic dreams come true.

In the Psychic plane, the general belief is that every human being has around 100,000 potential soulmates worldwide -- and perhaps a million people with whom you could happily, and lastingly, fall in love. When your love Psychic focuses his or her consciousness on your romantic partnership energy, it becomes quite a crowded psychic plane!

So how does a psychic sift through all this potential for reality? Well, potential lovers who are already spoken for are, of course, quickly eliminated, and a good Psychic knows how to disqualify players and casual Casanovas. One Psychic tells of seeing an excellent match for a client in her office. He was at a desk at the other side of the room, and seemed like a perfect physical and spiritual match. This Psychic knew how important long-term commitment was to her client, and felt so much "player" energy emanating from this so-called perfect match that she couldn't bring herself to make what she knew could well be a doomed connection.

Your love Psychic may next ask a few "big picture" questions, such as whether you're planning on doing any traveling. Are there any relatives you'll be visiting, or is there a business meeting that will take you out of town? A brief, innocuous trip to somewhere out of the ordinary could be the trigger for a major life change; "the brightest stars," one Psychic says, metaphorically describing the rhythm of the cosmos, "shine in the dullest parts of the sky."

Once your near-term geographical location has been established, your Psychic can begin to talk timing. When it comes to romance in '02, the zodiac's signs will be processing psychic energy based on individual elements. Check your element below to understand the nuances of what your Psychic will be explaining during your Psychic Love Reading.

Fire Signs

If you're a Leo, Aries or Sagittarius, your Psychic love reading will focus on what you should actively do to be discovered by your soulmate. Your Psychic will discuss the details of how you should be seeking, finding, pursuing and capture this special someone!

Earth Signs

For Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, your Psychic love reading will discuss timing within the practical parameters of what you're seeking. Your Psychic already knows you'll be assessing your soulmate's potential, so love at first sight will focus on finding the moments when you and your soulmate are at your best.

Air Signs

Gemini, Aquarius and Libra think too much when it comes to timing, so your Psychic love reading will be designed to encourage your ability to experience situations in which information is purely felt, rather than being delivered in a way that can be logically analyzed. When you think as little as possible, perfection might just appear!

Water Signs

Everybody knows how much Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces feel. Your Psychic love reading will seek to reinforce your willingness to trust your own sixth sense when a potential soulmate is lurking around the corner. It's an elusive feeling, but it's one that you'll need to know throughout your being when it arrives. Helping you come to trust it will be your Psychic's most important task.

Will today's spark turn into your longtime flame? Talk to a Love Psychic and learn to embrace lasting love!

Featured Psychic: LilWinkle

Love relationships are continually challenged. LilWinkle's clients find her inspirational Psychic love readings clear, concise and directed. Call her now to seek answers and solutions for your romantic dilemmas.


Tuesday, March 12, 2002

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.

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – March 12, 2002

TV REMAINS DOMINANT SOURCE FOR AMERICANS ON MEDICAL INFORMATION
from The Boston Globe

It's another busy night on the TV drama ''ER.'' In one scene, an accident victim fights for her life; in another, a teenager is diagnosed with human papillomavirus, HPV.

Researchers already know that only a small number of viewers are knowledgeable about HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation. After the episode, another survey shows familiarity with HPV has doubled and an ability to describe it has tripled.

''That's 5 to 6 million people who heard about this important sexually transmitted disease in the same night,'' said Vicky Rideout, who helped conduct the study. ''That's a profound source of information.''

While the Internet has captured the attention of the medical world as a new powerful purveyor of health information, it is still the old-fashioned TV that Americans cite as their primary source when it comes to learning more about health, nearly 10 to 1 over the Internet. It's not just news programs and documentaries that saturate the airwaves with medical advice either. Drama shows such as ''ER'' or ''Dawson's Creek,'' daytime soap operas such as ''One Life to Live,'' and public service announcements are influencing their view of their health.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/071/science/TV_remains_dominant_source_for_Americans_on_medical_information+.shtml

STUDY SUGGESTS EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS GENETICALLY STABLE, ANY MUTATIONS EASILY DETECTABLE
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Embryonic stem cells develop a relatively small number of mutations and these can be detected by screening, according to a study that researchers say supports the eventual use of stem cells to treat disease.

In a study to appear Wednesday in the electronic version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that mouse embryonic stem cells were actually more genetically stable than were some adult cells.

"Everybody has assumed that the embryonic stem cell had a mutation rate," said Jay Tischfield, a researcher at Rutgers University and a co-author of the study. "We show that it is actually lower than what you find in the adult cells."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/03/12/national0326EST0471.DTL

SCIENCE BRIEFS
compiled by The Boston Globe

Placebo effect

Doctors have long known that placebos - inactive substances dressed up to look like medicine - can have powerful effects. Now it looks as if we're starting to understand what they do when they work. Predrag Petrovic of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and his colleagues used positron emission tomography to show that the brains of men given placebo painkiller injections respond to pain the same way as men who got genuine opioids. The degree to which pain was lessened even correlates with the amount of blood flow to the areas of the brain that have lots of opiate receptors, both for the placebo and for the genuine drug. Of course just why placebos work is still mysterious.

ref: Science, online Feb. 7, 2002

Click on the link below to read more "Science Briefs."

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/071/science/Science_briefs+.shtml

COLUMBIA RETURNS TO EARTH, ENDING TRIUMPHANT HUBBLE REPAIR MISSION
from The Associated Press

Space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven returned to Earth before dawn Tuesday, ending their triumphant Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.

The shuttle landed right on time on NASA's 3-mile-long runway, illuminated by powerful xenon floodlights. "Field in sight on a beautiful night," radioed commander Scott Altman, moments before the 4:32 a.m. touchdown.

Infrared cameras relayed pictures of the approaching spaceship, a ghostly, grainy image against the dark sky.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/03/12/national0432EST0477.DTL

OHIO DEBATES EVOLUTION
from The New York Times

Columbus, Ohio -- Proponents of the intelligent-design movement, which challenges Darwin's primacy in the science classroom, argued yesterday for equal footing in the state's new teaching curriculum, while critics warned that speculative theories of some ultimate agent underpinning evolution were the antithesis of true science.

Hundreds of people sat for more than two hours at a hearing on the issue by the State Board of Education, listening to abstruse arguments about the bacterial flagellum and the peppered moth before one of four clashing scholars finally used the G-word that had attracted the crowd in the first place.

"The real danger is in trying to put God in the gaps," said Lawrence Krauss, the physics chairman at Case Western Reserve University.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/03/12/MN158685.DTL

6 DAYS OF CREATION: THE SEARCH OF EVIDENCE
from Newsday

Santee, Calif.-- -- OUTSIDE THE Museum of Creation and Earth History in this San Diego suburb, the morning sun is continuing its climb while black lights frame illuminated planets and stars within. As he has done hundreds of times before, Bruce Wood is standing amid it all, explaining how God created life, the universe - and, well, everything - in six days sometime within the last 10,000 years.

Wood belongs to a segment of the anti- evolution movement known as "young- Earth creationism," which employs the biblical account of Genesis as a lens to explain natural observations. Within the literal history of this biblical creationist view, God created all matter and life over six days, and a worldwide flood formed much of the Earth's geography and buried the fossilized remains of its early denizens. Those that survived became forerunners of animal kinds today, so that a canine ancestor, for example, developed into all modern dog breeds.

Amid a string of legal defeats in public education over the past 30 years, young-Earth creationists have been forced to share the stage with newer anti-evolutionist views. Among the recent debutantes, modern "intelligent design" creationism contends that life is too complex to have arisen by chance and thus requires an unnamed intelligent force. By downplaying biblical connotations and instead attacking the scientific merits of evolution, the newcomer has received attention from the media and academics alike.

Biblical creationism has remained a potent force in local school boards across the country, while intelligent design has made inroads in battles at the state and national levels.

But is either idea really science?

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-dsspdn2621111mar12.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

PEERING THROUGH THE GATES OF TIME
from The New York Times

PRINCETON, N.J., March 5 — It's all come down to this.

In one corner is Dr. John Archibald Wheeler, 90, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton and the University of Texas, armed with a battery of hearing aids, fistfuls of colored chalk, unfailing courtesy, a poet's flair for metaphor, an indomitable sense of duty and the company of a ghost army of great thinkers.

In the other is a "great smoky dragon," which is how Dr. Wheeler refers sometimes to one of the supreme mysteries of nature. That is the ability, according to the quantum mechanic laws that govern subatomic affairs, of a particle like an electron to exist in a murky state of possibility — to be anywhere, everywhere or nowhere at all — until clicked into substantiality by a laboratory detector or an eyeball.

Dr. Wheeler suspects that this quantum uncertainty, as it is more commonly known, is the key to understanding why anything exists at all, how something, the universe with its laws, can come from nothing. Or as he likes to put it in the phrase that he has adopted as his mantra: "How come the quantum? How come existence?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/science/physical/12WHEE.html

OLDEST BACTERIA FOSSILS? OR ARE THEY MERELY TINY ROCK FLAWS?
from The New York Times

If a bacterium dies in the mud and fossilizes into rock, how would anyone know? How would it differ from a rock that had never been alive? Unlike a dinosaur or a plant, a fossil of a bacterium can resemble a simple bubble or a mineral crystal — or vice versa.

That is a debate that followed the extraordinary claim in 1996 that a meteorite found in Antarctica contained the fossilized remains of Martian microbes. Other researchers have concluded the supposed fossils are merely mineral deposits with a passing resemblance to bacteria.

The same questions now shift to the early days of life on Earth.

A team of British scientists analyzed what has generally been accepted as the world's oldest fossils of bacteria, embedded in 3.5-billion- year-old rocks from western Australia, and they concluded that the rocks had never been more than nonliving rocks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/science/12FOSS.html

NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR
from The Washington Post

Chlorine is a near-perfect disinfectant, most health experts agree, killing deadly bacteria and other tiny organisms in the water supply cheaply and effectively and saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in fact, ranks chlorinated water among the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, right up there with penicillin and vaccines. Thanks to chlorine treatment, the chronic outbreaks of cholera and dysentery that plagued crowded American cities through the 18th and 19th centuries are gone.

Ah, if only chlorine didn't cause cancer – and now, maybe, miscarriages. Plaintiffs in a high-profile Virginia lawsuit claim a byproduct of chlorination has caused some women in their community to have miscarriages.

While the benefits of chlorination are beyond debate, the science regarding its potential harms is inconclusive.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10600-2002Mar11.html

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Clustered Water

From: Stephen Lower

I was very happy to come across your article in the North Texas Skeptic; it's nice to know that I am not the only one who has been railing against this nonsense!

In case you are not aware of it, I have put together an exhaustive critique of clustered water:

http://www.sfu.ca/aquascams/clusterscams.html

CellCore, one of the major purveyors of this nostrum, has filed a lawsuit against me and Simon Fraser University, claiming libel, defamation, and loss of $2 million in revenue because of this Web site. To its great credit, the University is being very supportive and has not asked me to get rid of the Web page. which is what CellCore obviously wants, and they are trying to get me included in the defense provided by their insurer.

None of this is secret, so if you wish to pass this on as an update to your article, feel free to do so.
--
Steve Lower - Simon Fraser University - lower@sfu.ca
- 604-299-0946

Water treatment pseudoscience and frauds:
http://www.sfu.ca/aquascams/
ChemCAI Teacher resources Web page:
http://www.sfu.ca/chemcai/
Steve's personal Web page:
http://members.shaw.ca/slower

Editor's note: Clustered Water is a registered trademark of Cellcore International, Inc. We intend to keep Clustered Water prominently in the news until that worthless product is withdrawn from the market.

DEADLY ERROR

http://www.pagesix.com/pagesix/12025.htm

THE posthumously published autobiography of science fiction master Isaac Asimov reveals that the "I, Robot" author died of AIDS. Due out later this month, "It's Been a Good Life" - which Asimov's wife, Janet, compiled from her late husband's notes and essays - details how he contracted AIDS through a tainted blood transfusion while undergoing bypass surgery in 1983. He finally succumbed to the disease in 1992, at age 72.

Creationism in Ohio

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,47636,00.html

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hundreds of parents, teachers and students gathered Monday to hear scientists who support teaching evolution square off against backers of "intelligent design" as the state school board struggles to develop science standards.

Sandy Epling brought her 11-year-old son to the panel discussion so he could better understand her family's rejection of evolutionary theory. Epling believes in creationism and home-schools her son, Jacob.

"It's important for them to hear the truth as well as what we consider the lies," she said. "It only makes the truth stronger."

The school board must decide by year's end what Ohio's 1.8 million public school students should learn about life. Teachers will not be required to follow the standards, but the state's new standardized test that 10th grade students must pass to graduate will be based on the guidelines.

The board said about 1,500 people attended the discussion, which was held in a downtown auditorium to accommodate the crowd.

The state's current science guidelines have been criticized as vague, especially in the life sciences section, which avoids the word evolution and recommends covering "change through time."

A new draft includes evolution but not "intelligent design," the idea that life is too complex to have happened by chance and, therefore, must have been designed by a higher power.

Critics say intelligent design is a disguise for creationism, which courts have barred from public schools as a religious expression. Supporters argue that intelligent design doesn't specify the designer, and that the theory isn't about religion.

"Maybe it's compatible with biblical creationism, but it certainly is not that," said panel member Jonathan Wells, a fellow from the Discovery Institute in Seattle. "The question is, should teachers be permitted to tell students the controversy over intelligent design?"

Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Kenneth Miller of Brown University told the board there is no scientific controversy, that intelligent design is not science and has not undergone rigorous critique by respected scientific journals.

"There is an agenda here, and it's not science," Krauss said. "Why discuss something that's opposed to the scientific method in a science class?"

Several board members have pushed for other views to be taught alongside evolution, and the board's standards committee appears to favor allowing alternative ideas into classrooms.

"That's scary," said Pam Keiper, treasurer of Ohio Citizens for Science, a group of parents, teachers and students who support the teaching of evolution. "I hope the board members understand from the debate that intelligent design is not science and that it should not be in a science class."

English Creationism

From: Michael Roberts

Ohio is not the only place afflicted with creationism and it is hitting Britain now with a visit of Ken Ham which is reinforcing the growing creationism over here. The Guardian article below shows how creationism is being taught in state schools which have an evangelical basis.

The account mentions two Anglican clergy both of whom I know. George Curry was at seminary with me in Durham and David Holloway taught me a few courses at seminary.

A recent survey in the Anglican newspaper The Church Times showed that 10% of Church of England clergy beleive in a 6 Day Creation. As the Church Times is not read by most evangelicals I suggest the figure is 10-15% . In 1970 it was minimal - just a few creationists - indicating a very rapid growth over 30 years. Neither Curry nor Holloway had heard of Creationism in the 70s.

This indicates a problem in the Church of England which has about 30% evangelical clergy, some of whom are beguiled either by the shoddy "scientific" arguments of creationists but more so by the rejection of reductionism and the theological arguments of a fall tied up with physical death. Last week a minister argued with me that there was not animal death before Adam's fall thus ruling out predatory dinosaurs with athritis. He has a B.Sc from Imperial College London. He felt the theological argument was a necessary one.

I hope this is of interest

Michael Roberts

(Vicar of Cockerham, near Lancaster and write on the history of geology, d, Creationism etc.)
-----------------------------------------
Top school's creationists preach value of biblical story over evolution: State-funded secondary teachers do not accept findings of Darwin

by Tania Branigan, The Guardian, Saturday March 9, 2002
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4371165,00.html

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H-NET List for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
email: h-sci-med-tech@h-net.msu.edu
web: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~smt/

When Priests Were Accused, Quest for Secrecy Followed

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/national/12CHUR.html?ex=1016911512&ei=1&en=42441e64a0627e61

The New York Times
March 12, 2002
By DANIEL J. WAKIN

In 1993, lawyers for Sharon See and Brian Freibott, then both 28, served papers on the Rev. Raymond Pcolka that accused him of abusing them as children in Stratford, Conn.

But before the lawsuit was even filed, Ms. See's lawyer said, a lawyer for the Diocese of Bridgeport called with this message: The priest was a good man. Don't sue. We'll handle it. It was a "bolt out of the blue," recalled Ms. See's lawyer, Cindy L. Robinson.

Ohio Board Hears Debate on an Alternative to Darwinism

March 12, 2002

By FRANCIS X. CLINES

Proponents of the intelligent-design movement, which challenges Darwin's theories, argued for equal footing in Ohio's curriculum on Monday.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/12/national/12EVOL.html?ex=1016949394&ei=1&en=a444b219270db440


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