NTS LogoSkeptical News for 30 April 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Tuesday, April 30, 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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Today's Headlines – April 30, 2002

from The San Francisco Chronicle

In the latest warning for women hoping to delay childbirth, European researchers report today that fertility already starts to wane in women starting about age 27.

Previous studies have suggested most healthy women could be reasonably sure of being capable of conceiving up to about age 30 or 35, when egg quality starts to dramatically decline. Men typically experience a much later and more gradual drop-off in fertility.

Experts said the new findings, appearing today in the journal Human Reproduction, underscore the significance of age-related fertility problems. They also noted that reproductive biologists are only beginning to pinpoint the causes and possible solutions.


from The New York Times

NEW ORLEANS — Caught between the Mississippi and the long shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, this low-lying city has long depended on levees and luck.

Now engineers say those are not enough to protect New Orleans, much of it below sea level, from a devastating flood that could threaten it if a storm surge from a powerful hurricane out of the Gulf of Mexico propelled a wall of water into the lake and the city.

That event could place vast sections under 20 feet or more of water, engineers and scientists say, with worst-case computer predictions showing death tolls in the tens of thousands with many more people trapped by high water that has no natural drainage outlets.


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 29 — Viewed from space, some of the earth's most pronounced features are the blue of the vast oceans, the white swirls of moisture-laden clouds and bright swaths of ice covering the poles. Much of what the planet is stems from its water, and NASA is about to launch a satellite to study the many ways that water affects the climate and how that relationship may be changing.

The Aqua satellite is a large spacecraft with sensors designed to follow the cycle of the earth's water in its many forms to determine whether it is being affected by climate change. Six types of instruments aboard Aqua are to scan through the atmosphere down to the surface, gathering the most detailed data ever on water vapor in clouds, ice crystals in the air, evaporation, water in the oceans, icebergs and other sea ice, as well as glaciers and snow pack on land.

Scientists said the $952 million program, planned to last six years, should also help in understanding biological systems dependent upon water, like plankton in oceans and vegetation on land. In addition, they said, the data should help improve long-term weather and climate forecasting, and should help in understanding the workings of severe storms. For example, temperature changes on sea surfaces can signal widespread weather shifts like El Niño.


from The Washington Post

J. Craig Venter, the maverick scientist who altered history when he chose to compile a human genetic map with private money, has settled on his next project: tackling the problem of global warming.

Tapping a $100 million research endowment he is creating from his stock holdings, Venter plans to scour the world's deep ocean trenches for bacteria that might be able to convert carbon dioxide, the gas released when cars and power plants burn fuel, back into solid form without needing a lot of sunlight or other energy.

The idea is to devise a technology that would allow humankind to continue producing energy while lowering emissions of the gas, which threatens to destabilize the Earth's climate.


from The Washington Post

Ten years ago, researchers stumbled onto a striking finding: Women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die as women with similar risk factors who didn't hold such fatalistic views.

The higher risk of death, in other words, had nothing to with the usual heart disease culprits -- age, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight. Instead, it tracked closely with belief. Think sick, be sick.

That study is a classic in the annals of research on the "nocebo" phenomenon, the evil twin of the placebo effect. While the placebo effect refers to health benefits produced by a treatment that should have no effect, patients experiencing the nocebo effect experience the opposite. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that's just what they get.


from The Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The University of California abruptly canceled plans Friday to name a new director for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory amid questions about his role in supervising Wen Ho Lee, once suspected of spying for China at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

University regents had scheduled a vote to confirm Ray Juzaitis, a senior administrator at Los Alamos. But sources said the vote was delayed after questions were raised by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who must be consulted on the selection.

The job is one of the most sensitive in the national security bureaucracy. Livermore, near San Francisco, and Los Alamos, in New Mexico, are among the nation's nuclear weapon laboratories, responsible for designing and safeguarding the country's nuclear stockpile. Juzaitis was director from 1993 to 1998 of the so-called X Division at Los Alamos, where Lee also worked, a University of California source said. But a university search committee decided that Juzaitis had little role in the Lee affair and selected him from among 40 candidates for the Livermore job.


from National Public Radio

April 30, 2002 -- In September 1991, four men and four women left the natural Earth environment and entered an artificial one near Tucson, Ariz. The scientists would be sealed for two years in Biosphere 2 -- a glass and steel facility covering more than 3.5 acres -- for an experiment that would test whether humans could live in a closed ecological system.

But the project, funded by Texas billionaire Ed Bass, had an image problem from the very beginning. The first Biospherians made it two years -- barely. They had trouble growing enough food, and their oxygen started mysteriously disappearing. The second crew lasted only six months, until it was forced to leave when a potentially toxic gas started building up inside.

Despite those failures, a few researchers are convinced that Biosphere 2 can become a unique tool for studying the future of this planet. As NPR's Joe Palca reports on Morning Edition, Biosphere 2 is no longer a habitat. The giant terrarium is now a unique research center where scientists can study the climates of nine complex ecosystems. The "biomes," as they're called, include everything from a humid rainforest and a bone-dry desert to a grassy savannah.


Commentary from The San Francisco Chronicle

WHOEVER THOUGHT science class was boring in high school ought to be riveted by the latest scientific shootout over genetically modified foods. What brought this modern showdown at the OK Corral? This question: Has genetically modified (GM) corn from the United States "contaminated" a native strain of corn in Mexico?

Four months ago, the prestigious science journal Nature published a study that seemed to say yes. The two authors, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of the University of California at Berkeley, reported finding traces of genetic material from GM corn in samples of traditional maize strains taken in remote regions of Mexico -- despite the fact that planting GM corn is illegal in Mexico. Since Mexico is the home of modern corn's ancient genetic ancestor, the article stirred a worldwide furor over the apparent threat to genetic diversity posed by GM crops.

Almost as quickly, other scientists questioned the validity and the significance of the results. Earlier this month, Nature published some of those criticisms and took the unusual step of saying in an editorial note that it had "concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper."


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Odds Are Stacked When Science Tries to Debate Pseudoscience



I vividly remember the first time I was hijacked on the radio. I had agreed to participate in a debate for a Florida radio program that specialized in alien visits and U.F.O. sightings. My better judgment suggested that I should be wary. But I thought if I kept my focus purely on the physics challenges involved in space travel, I might be able to persuade some listeners to be skeptical of the claims that aliens were regularly visiting, abducting and experimenting with our fellow earthlings.

I should have known better. After 45 minutes defending myself against the claim that I was close-minded, when I argued that science did in fact impose constraints on what is possible, and politely responding to demands that I must first scrupulously review all the specific claims of alien sightings before I could possibly have the temerity to make general statements about plausibility or implausibility, I felt that any uninformed listeners who might have been waiting to be swayed probably found themselves merely confused at the end of the show.

Bush in Los Angeles on Riot Anniversary



LOS ANGELES, April 29 — President Bush marked the 10th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots today by speaking of the power of God before the same religious group that gave Bill Clinton a crucial platform in the 1992 presidential campaign.

"I firmly believe God is on the side of justice and reconciliation," Mr. Bush said at the First African Methodist Episcopal Renaissance Center in South-Central Los Angeles. "But as Martin Luther King said, `God isn't going to do it all by himself.' "

Monday, April 29, 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.


Today's Headlines – April 29, 2002

from The Los Angeles Times

Will it be an El Nino? Or an El No Show?

The country's top weather predictors--scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--have said since February that an El Nino is on the way. But they can't say when it will arrive or how strong it will be.

Longer-range experimental forecasts that attempt to predict El Ninos up to one year in advance disagree on what's ahead. And some of those who closely monitor ocean temperatures say there's not much to report from the tropical Pacific waters that spawn the global weather phenomenon. "It's not happening yet," said Bill Patzert, an oceanographer at JPL. "It could be an El No Show."


from The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. -- The government Friday awarded its first grants to prepare for embryonic stem cell research since President Bush gave approval for limited federal funding.

The $3.5 million given to four institutions will help them make stem cell lines available to researchers worldwide and train them how to handle and reproduce the cells, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Friday.

Bush said last summer he would allow federal funding for research on certain embryonic stem cell lines, or cell colonies.

The grants from the National Institutes of Health were awarded to Cellsaurus, a subsidiary of Bresagen of Athens, Ga.; ES Cell International Pte Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia; the University of California, San Francisco; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in Madison.


from The Associated Press

How many insect species are there? Nobody knows. But a new study says a widely cited estimate of about 30 million should be slashed to around 4 million to 6 million.

That would bring the 20-year-old estimate in line with some more recent ones. But the author of the original estimate says he'll stick with his higher figure for now.

Terry Erwin of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, who presented the 30-million figure in a brief paper in 1982, said that estimate and the new one are hypotheses to be tested.


from The Associated Press

The north and south poles on Mars look very different from each other, and scientists now think they know why: Circulation patterns in the red planet's thin atmosphere tends to keep all the water in the north, leaving the south pole high and dry.

Mars exploration by unmanned spacecraft has shown the northern hemisphere has a large polar cap made up mostly of frozen water while the southern hemisphere has a much smaller cap made up almost entirely of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice.

A new computer model suggests the apparently permanent difference results partly from the much higher elevation in the south - which is an average of three miles higher than the north.

Mark Richardson of the California Institute of Technology and John Wilson of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University reported in a recent issue of the journal Nature that the difference in elevation shifts the Hadley effect, an atmospheric circulation pattern created when heated air rises from the warmer equator and sinks toward the poles.


from The Washington Post

Craig Venter, the scientist who founded the Rockville gene company that helped propel the Human Genome Project to an early completion last year, has confirmed what many geneticists have presumed for years: He fed his own DNA through the company's analyzers, and much of what Celera Genomics Corp. is selling to scientists around the world is his own genetic code.

Venter is one of a handful of people whose genes were used in Celera's high- speed effort to sequence all 3.1 billion "letters" in the human genetic code. The names of the others have been kept confidential under terms laid out by the company's ethics advisory board.

Geneticists and ethicists said yesterday they were not surprised that Venter, renowned for being anything but bashful, had included his own DNA in the project. But others noted that the public disclosure -- made April 17 on CBS's "60 Minutes II" and further explicated by Venter in yesterday's New York Times -- fit in with the maverick scientist's long-standing goal of prodding the public and the government to think more about the ethics of genetic research, the risks and benefits of genetic testing, and the importance of genetic privacy.


from The Washington Post

It is, of course, the Cadillac of predators -- as big as a 1959 El Dorado, with even longer fins and more speed over short distances -- but despite a fearsome reputation and acres of bad press, scientists actually know surprisingly little about the great white shark.

They don't know how long the sharks live, how often they mate, how many young they have or when they reach sexual maturity. They have only the most general idea of where the sharks like to hang out (cool, but not cold, water) and what they like to eat (young seals and sea lions are favorites, but beyond that, they can be picky).

They attack more humans than any other kind of shark, by a long shot -- 254 of the 648 total unprovoked attacks by 42 shark species, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

It looks like a North Atlantic salmon. But it grows seven times faster, and it's much more attractive to the opposite sex than a normal salmon.

It's a transgenic fish, the first genetically engineered animal under review for the U.S. food supply. Embedded in every cell of its body are genes from the Chinook salmon and the ocean pout fish that make it grow more quickly.

The altered salmon is likely to become the next focus in the battle over bioengineered food, after controversies over the desirability of genetically altered bovine growth hormones in cows and modified corn, soybeans and canola in cereals and tortilla chips.

In the next year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider a petition by Aqua Bounty Farms of Waltham, Mass., to farm and market the altered salmon.


from The New York Times

IT is not often that a correction must be made to a poem. But when the subject is the mercurial science of particle physics, that is the risk a writer takes.

In 1960, when he was 28, John Updike published a literary invention that is still read fondly today — not "Rabbit, Run," which also came out that year, but 19 lines of verse, quietly unleashed in The New Yorker, called "Cosmic Gall."

There, in the second line of the first verse, is the error — as laid bare last weekend in a joint meeting in Albuquerque of the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society. The ghostly particles are still understood to carry no charge, but experimental results announced at the conference seem to have clinched the case, building for years, that they are not entirely without heft.


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Dembski and Forrest


William Dembski
New Member
Member # 802

posted 04-17-2002 03:38 PM

Mike Gene raised the following questions in the abstract:

Scenario A - Dr. X contacts department heads in order to inform them that they have "dangerous creationists" in their midst (the "creationist" in question is an ID proponent).

Scenario B - Dr. X contacts the employers of ID advocates, notifying them of their employees' ID activities or associations.

Scenario C - Dr. X works behind the scenes to dissuade members of academia from participating in a conference organized by ID proponents.

Certainly I've experienced both scenarios A and B and can provide documentation if needs be. As for scenario C, below is a letter that Barbara Forrest sent to philosopher Simon Blackburn to dissuade him from speaking at a conference to which I and my colleagues invited him (The Nature of Nature, Baylor, April 2000). Blackburn had consented to participate but then backed out upon receiving Forrest's letter. Blackburn and Forrest sent the letter to others. The letter eventually found its way into my hands.

Barbara Forrest's letter is the worst sort of leftist guilt-by-association diatribe. It is astounding that intelligent people can be swayed by such stuff. Worse yet is the underlying hypocrisy. Intelligent design is not science, so she says. Not only does she criticize its scientific merits, but she also actively sabotages those who are trying to develop it as a scientific program.

I happen to know who Mike Gene is in real life. I know that he is a biologist. I know where he works and what his real name is. But there's no way I'm going to say. Given Barbara Forrest's letter it is easy to understand why he is reluctant to come out of the closet. Barbara Forrest is a crass embodiment of the suffocating orthodoxy that is Darwinian naturalism.

--Bill Dembski


From: Barbara Forrest bforrest@selu.edu
To: Simon Blackburn
Date: March 2000

This letter concerns the conference, "The Nature of Nature," hosted by the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University, which you will be attending in April. The title of this conference and the list of participants conceal the fact that the Polanyi Center is the most recent offspring of the creationist movement, the agenda of which is the destruction of evolutionary theory as the central principle of biology.

Even though I think that the participation--witting or unwitting--of reputable scholars in the Baylor conference plays into the hands of Dembski, Gordon, and the CRSC in that it lends them an undeserved academic legitimacy, I am not trying to dissuade you from going because I have no right to do that. You are already committed. I do, however, believe you have a right to know the nature of the atmosphere into which you are walking.

The director of the MPC is William Dembski, and the associate director is Bruce Gordon. Although they insist on calling their brand of creationism "intelligent design theory," its true nature is evident to anyone who has followed the development of creationism. For a thorough examination of creationism, including intelligent design, I refer you to Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (MIT Press, 1999), an excellent book by a fellow philosopher, Prof. Robert Pennock of The College of New Jersey. Prof. Pennock critiques the work of Dembski, as well as the intelligent design movement as a whole.

Both Dembski and Gordon are members of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, the creationist arm of the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank in Seattle. It is significant that the CRSC recently received $1.5 million from wealthy businessman Howard Ahmanson. See Walter Olson's article at http://www.reason.com/9901/co.wo.darkbedfellows.html. For over twenty years, Ahmanson has served on the board of Chalcedon, Inc., an extremist Christian organization run by R.J. Rushdoony. See Jerry Sloan's article, "The Man Behind Knight" at http://www.frontiersweb.com/sfv18iss21/Pages/feat_1.html. You can view the CRSC site from the Discovery Institute page at http://www.discovery.org. The page has an announcement about the Baylor conference and other activities in which Dembski is participating. You will find links to CRSC articles, including Dembski's.

The establishment of the Polanyi Center at Baylor has aroused the anger of Baylor science faculty since it was accomplished with no prior knowledge or input from them. However, the faculty's anger stems primarily from their recognition that this organization and its founders, Dembski and Gordon, are creationists with a religious/political agenda, and they fear that the prominence and influence of such creationists at Baylor will severely damage the good reputation the faculty has worked so hard to build there. In fact, the faculty senate at Baylor scheduled this matter at the top of its agenda for its March 2 meeting with Baylor University President Robert Sloan. The first two questions on the agenda, addressed directly to Sloan, were these:

1. By creating the Polanyi Center has Baylor not institutionalized the propagation of a position, Intelligent Design Creationism, which is contrary to the prevailing assumptions of the majority of the world's scientists, specifically the scientific commitment to methodological naturalism? Arguing for a controversial position is one thing, but institutionalizing it is another. Moreover, that those associated with the center are described by their own colleagues outside of Baylor as part of a "new generation of creationists" constituting a "coalition to bring down evolution" is creating serious problems for the reputation of Baylor's science and pre-medical programs? It is the belief of some of us that the center was established by the administration without an awareness of these implications, and it is the hope of others of us that you will step in and preserve the integrity of the university and its science programs. Please comment?

2. Since the establishment of an institution such as the Polanyi Center has far-reaching implications for areas of the university such as the biology and psychology departments, shouldn't faculty members from those departments be consulted when such an institution is being considered?

Some history leading up to the Baylor conference:

In 1996, Phillip Johnson, a law professor at Berkeley who has taken it upon himself to cleanse American education and culture of "naturalistic evolution," initiated a conference at Biola University called the "Mere Creation" Conference. Johnson recruited Dembski and a host of others to help him do this. Dembski was one of the most active organizers of this conference. You can find a 1996 article about the conference at http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/11-30-96/national_2.asp. You can also view the web site for the Mere Creation conference at http://www.origins.org/mc/menus/index.html. Please follow the links to the off-site web pages as well. The nature of intelligent design as "mere creationism" is unmistakable.

If you go to Dembski's "virtual office" at "Leadership University," sponsored by the Christian Leadership Ministries, you can see Dembski's list of the most important creationist books in the movement, "The Intelligent Design Movement: A Brief Catalog of Resources," at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/dembski/menus/reso.html. Among them is Of Pandas and People, which creationists around the country have tried to get local school boards to adopt in public school science classes and which Dembski has defended as a legitimate science text. You can read the National Center for Science Education's analysis of Pandas at http://www.natcenscied.org/mianal.htm#pandas. I have also attached a critique of this book by Dr. Gary Bennett of Idaho, who recently spoke to Idaho legislators, urging them not to adopt this anti-evolution text. You can also see at http://www.aclu.org/news/n100298a.html an ACLU press release regarding the use of this book by Roger DeHart, a public school teacher in Burlington, WA, where a full-fledged fight against creationism has developed and is ongoing at this moment. According to the Burlington-Edison Committee for Science Education, several CRSC members have become involved in the controversy there on the pro-creationist side. Dembski recently traveled to the University of Washington to promote his latest book. While there, he conducted a book-signing to help Skagit Parents for Scientific Proof in Education, a parents group working on DeHart's behalf. See http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com/daily/00/february/08/a3creation.html.

Reflecting its agenda of getting intelligent design creationism into American schools, the CRSC recently added to its web site intelligent design lesson plans for teachers. Until sometime near the end of February, they could be viewed at http://www.discovery.org/crsc/scied/evol.index.html.Now, however, the CRSC has restricted public access to them and they are in a "Secured Administration Area" requiring a name and password. I have found nothing else on the CRSC site which requires this. The reason is obvious: restricted access prevents the lesson plans, which are unconstitutional, from being scrutinized and evaluated, and it allows the CRSC to know who is getting them. You can, however, see the CRSC document, written by Gonzaga law professor and CRSC member David DeWolf, outlining the legal aspects of trying to get ID into public schools, at http://www.discovery.org/crsc/articles/TeachingTheOriginsControve.html. The ID creationists are looking for loopholes in Edwards v. Aguillard, a 1987 Supreme Court ruling on a case which originated in my state of Louisiana and which outlawed creationism in public schools.

The agenda of the intelligent design movement is spelled out in a CRSC document which surfaced last year and is commonly referred to as the "wedge document" because of its enunciation of the creationists' "wedge strategy," the brainchild of Phillip Johnson, who has spoken openly about this strategy. This document outlines the intelligent design movement agenda from 1999-2003. My analysis of CRSC's planned activities as stated in the document shows that they are systematically enacting every part of their agenda except the only one which would gain them the legitimacy they so crave: the production of scientific research using their "theistic science." As I stated earlier, Johnson, Dembski, and their associates have assumed the task of destroying "Darwinism," "evolutionary naturalism," "scientific materialism," "methodological naturalism," "philosophical naturalism," and other "isms" they use as synonyms for evolution. (You can see Dembski's articles on a creationist web site, "Access Research Network," at http://www.arn.org/dembski/wdhome.htm. One of them is "Teaching Intelligent Design as Religion or Science?") The wedge document is available at http://www.humanist.net/skeptical/wedge.html and also at http://www.infidels.org/org/aha/skeptical/wedge.html. You can also find an article on the wedge strategy written by Jim Still, manager of the Internet Infidels web site, at http://www.infidels.org/secular_web/feature/1999/wedge.html. Another article written on the wedge document at the time it surfaced is at http://www.freethought-web.org/ctrl/archive/thomas_wedge.html. This was done by Keith Lankford, past president of the Sagan Society at the University of Georgia.

The wedge document specifically includes as one of its goals the following: "[W]e will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings.... The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready." So the plan of the ID proponents is to lure legitimate, respected scholars into conferences they organize. Not only have they managed to "wedge" themselves into the "significant academic setting" of Baylor, but the MPC web site shows that they have long-term plans there.

Very important with respect to the MPC and the Baylor conference is an article on intelligent design's move into the higher education mainstream (which is the purpose of the newly established Polanyi Center) at http://www.natcenscied.org/scot171.htm. This was written by Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education in Berkeley, CA. And at http://www.au.org/cs4995.htm is an article by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in which Johnson asserts that the wedge strategy "enables us to get a foothold in the academic world and the academic journals. You have to prepare minds to hear the truth. You can't do it all at once." This remark in itself explains the reason for the establishment of the MPC at Baylor and the naturalism conference you will be attending.

It is interesting to note the following information about the Baylor conference listings as they appear to date on the Polanyi Center web site at http://www.baylor.edu/~polanyi. Of the 31 confirmed participants, at least 10 appear to be part of Dembski's network of creationists. Of these 10, 7 are members of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Of the 11 plenary sessions, 8 have participants who are creationists (not always as presenters, but with some serving as moderators). The only plenary sessions without creationists participating in some way are the one hosted by Stuart Rosenbaum (a Baylor philosopher), the one in which Simon Conway Morris is listed as the sole speaker, and the last session, for which the moderator is still to be announced.

A similar conference was held in 1997 at the University of Texas-Austin, organized by Robert Koons, a philosophy professor and also a CRSC member. The title was, like that of the Baylor conference, academically innocuous: "Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise." See Koons' web site at http://www.dla.utexas.edu/depts/philosophy/faculty/koons/main.html/, which has a link to information about this conference. You can read Koons' assessment of the conference at http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9701/koons2.html. However, Koons' assertion of the high degree of consensus reached on the feasibility of and need for "theistic science" was not shared by all attendees. Legitimate scholars and students sent papers, only to find after they arrived that they had been lured into an event dominated by creationists and clearly organized as a platform for them.

I know several people who attended the UT conference in 1997. I have asked one of them, Wesley Elsberry, to attest to its nature. You may contact him at welsberr@inia.cls.org. Wesley is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country about the intelligent design movement and has extensively critiqued Dembski's work, as has philosopher Elliot Sober. You will find Wesley's writings, and a link to Sober's, at http://inia.cls.org/~welsberr/evobio/evc/ae/dembski_wa.html.

Cordially, Barbara Forrest, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Philosophy Department of History and Political Science
Southeastern Louisiana University

More WTC stupidity

First a stupid Web site.


Here, some references:



But the stupidity goes on.


Sunday, April 28, 2002

TV psychic 'chats' with Blake's dead wife on ABC


LOS ANGELES - (Reuters) - On the day that prosecutors charged actor Robert Blake with the murder of his wife, a television special was set to air an "interview" with the "spirit" of the late Bonny Lee Bakley as channeled through a psychic medium.

"She does admit she contributes to ending her life but she doesn't want to say she committed suicide and it's very important you understand that," was the message Blake's late wife Bakley allegedly gave to family members through medium George Anderson.

His "interview" with the late wife of former "Baretta" star Blake was to air Monday on ABC at 10 p.m. EDT on the special "Contact: Talking to the Dead."

A spokesman for ABC said the program would air as scheduled and added, "We looked at it after what happened with Mr. Blake and we did not see anything wrong with it."


Messages From Beyond


The makers of 'Living With the Dead' talk about spooky coincidences during the filming of the CBS movie.

By SUSAN KING, Times Staff Writer

To hear the participants describe it, CBS' four-hour movie "Living With the Dead" was literally a spirited production. "There was definitely some intervention from the other side on this miniseries," said executive producer Stanley M. Brooks.

"Living With the Dead," which will be shown on Sunday and Tuesday, is based on the life of James Van Praagh, who purports to talk with people who have died. The author of the bestseller "Talking to Heaven," Van Praagh claims he's been seeing dead people since he was a youngster. "When I first saw the movie 'The Sixth Sense,' I said, 'That's my childhood,'" he said.

Though a skeptic might dismiss it as so much movie hype, Van Praagh and Brooks say they are at a loss to explain all the odd coincidences that occurred on the set last summer in Vancouver. For example, they say, the actress who plays Van Praagh's mother as a young woman, without prompting, combed her hair exactly the same way his real mother did.

Saving the ethnosphere

We all suffer when cultures disappear

By Wade Davis, 4/28/2002


In Haiti, a Vodoun priestess responds to the rhythm of drums and, taken by the spirit, handles burning embers with impunity. In the Amazon, a Waorani hunter detects the scent of animal urine at 40 paces and identifies the species that deposited it. In the deserts of northern Kenya, Rendille nomads draw blood from the faces of camels and survive on a diet of milk and herbs gathered in the shade of frail acacia trees.

Just to know that such cultures exist is to remember that the human imagination is vast in its capacity for social and spiritual invention. Our way of life in the West, with its stunning technological wizardry, is but one alternative rooted in a particular intellectual lineage. The Polynesian seafarers who sense the presence of distant atolls in the echo of waves or the Juwasi Bushmen who for generations lived in truce with the lions of the Kalahari, reveal that there are other ways of interpreting existence.

Saturday, April 27, 2002


1. Spaceflight Now: New Study Reveals Twice as Many Asteroids as Believed

2. Asteroid Introduction

3. Doomsday Asteroid

4. Asteroids: Deadly Impact

5. Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards

6. Asteroid Orbital Elements

7. A Blast From the Past

8. Crazy Craters

Asteroids have been of continued interest and research among scientists and the general public. This issue's Topic in Depth explores some of the Internet's offerings on the subject.

From Spaceflight Now, the first site (1) is an April 7, 2002 article that describes new research, showing that "there are between 1.1 million and 1.9 million 'space rocks' larger than 1 kilometre in diameter in the so-called main asteroid belt, about twice as many as previously believed." The next site, offered by Solarviews.com, is called Asteroid Introduction (2). Here, visitors can learn the basics about asteroids, including information on well known ones, pictures, animations, and more. NOVA maintains the next site, called Doomsday Asteroid (3). This site describes comets such as Hale-Bopp and others, while also providing teacher activities and great photographs. For a unique look at the effects that asteroids can have on the Earth, take a look at National Geographic's Web site Asteroids: Deadly Impact (4). Here, visitors get to play detective by looking at available evidence of impacts and then trying to figure out what sized meteor or comet caused it. From NASA, the next site is called Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards (5), a comprehensive but approachable accumulation of information about the study and probability of asteroid-Earth impacts. Included are articles, photographs, animations, and more -- offering links such as the Torino Impact Scale page that describes how the scale assesses the probability of an asteroid impact. From the US Naval Observatory and called Asteroid Orbital Elements (6), the next site is a database that contains all known non-cometary and non-planetary bodies. Search results provide data such as the asteroid's name, number, diameter, orbital eccentricity, and more. The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Web site, A Blast From the Past (7), is a short but interesting site that explores new evidence of an asteroid impact 65 million years ago when dinosaurs went extinct. The last site, from thursdaysclassroom.com, is a lesson plan for grade-schoolers called Crazy Craters (8). Students experiment to learn about what causes the various features of impact craters, including the rim of mountains around the edge and the streaks or rays that fan out from large craters. [JAB]

From The NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.


Reverse Speech Examples


This page contains relatively easy to hear reversals, to give you a basic idea of what Reverse Speech is all about.

The devolutionn process

A comment on the world today.


Sensational dinosaur blood report


by Carl Wieland

First published in:
Creation Ex Nihilo 19(4):42–43
September–November 1997
[SUBSCRIBE to the full-color CREATION family magazine TODAY! ]

See also 25 March, 2002 article: Evolutionist questions AiG report: Have red blood cells really been found in T. rex fossils?

ACTUAL red blood cells in fossil bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex? With traces of the blood protein hemoglobin (which makes blood red and carries oxygen)? It sounds preposterous to those who believe that these dinosaur remains are at least 65 million years old.

It is of course much less of a surprise to those who believe Genesis, in which case dinosaur remains are at most only a few thousand years old.

In a recent article,1 scientists from Montana State University, seemingly struggling to allow professional caution to restrain their obvious excitement at the findings, report on the evidence which seems to strongly suggest that traces of real blood from a T. rex have actually been found.

The story starts with a beautifully preserved T. rex skeleton unearthed in the United States in 1990. When the bones were brought to the Montana State University's lab, it was noticed that 'some parts deep inside the long bone of the leg had not completely fossilized.' To find unfossilized dinosaur bone is already an indication more consistent with a young age for the fossils (see box).

Let Mary Schweitzer, the scientist most involved with this find, take up the story of when her co-workers took turns looking through a microscope at a thin section of this T rex bone, complete with blood vessel channels.

'The lab filled with murmurs of amazement, for I had focused on something inside the vessels that none of us had ever noticed before: tiny round objects, translucent red with a dark center. Then a colleague took one look at them and shouted, "You've got red blood cells. You've got red blood cells!"'2 Schweitzer confronted her boss, famous paleontologist 'Dinosaur' Jack Horner, with her doubts about how these could really be blood cells. Horner suggested she try to prove they were not red blood cells, and she says, 'So far, we haven't been able to.'

Looking for dinosaur DNA in such a specimen was obviously tempting. However, fragments of DNA can be found almost everywhere from fungi, bacteria, human fingerprints and so it is hard to be sure that one has DNA from the specimen. The Montana team did find, along with DNA from fungi, insects and bacteria, unidentifiable DNA sequences, but could not say that these could not have been jumbled sequences from present-day organisms. However, the same problem would not be there for hemoglobin, the protein which makes blood red and carries oxygen, so they looked for this substance in the fossil bone.

The evidence that hemoglobin has indeed survived in this dinosaur bone (which casts immense doubt upon the 'millions of years' idea) is, to date, as follows:

Evidence of hemoglobin, and the still-recognizable shapes of red blood cells, in unfossilized dinosaur bone is powerful testimony against the whole idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago. It speaks volumes for the Bible's account of a recent creation.

Editor's note:  If you have not already figured out this is a creationist Web site, then turn in your skeptic's badge.

San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry

Check it out:


Natural History Featues Pro-ID Statements and Rebuttals

From: Skip Evans

Dear NCSE Friends & Supporters,

The web site of Actionbioscience.org, described as a "non-commercial, educational web site created and managed by BioScience Productions, Inc. to promote bioscience literacy," features an excerpt from the April 2, 2002, issue of Natural History.

The posting consists of brief position statements by three leading proponents of intelligent design (ID), and three accompanying rebuttals.

Followers of the creationism/evolution controversy should recognize the names. On the ID side are Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Jonathan Wells, all three Senior Fellows at the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture. Offering the responses are Kenneth R. Miller, Robert Pennock, and Eugenie C. Scott. Finally, Barbara Forrest describes the "Wedge" strategy.

An excerpt follows:

Intelligent Design?
A special report reprinted from Natural History magazine

Prepared by Richard Milner & Vittorio Maestro, senior editors of Natural History


The idea that an organism's complexity is evidence for the existence of a cosmic designer was advanced centuries before Charles Darwin was born. Its best-known exponent was English theologian William Paley, creator of the famous watchmaker analogy. If we find a pocket watch in a field, Paley wrote in 1802, we immediately infer that it was produced not by natural processes acting blindly but by a designing human intellect. Likewise, he reasoned, the natural world contains abundant evidence of a supernatural creator. The argument from design, as it is known, prevailed as an explanation of the natural world until the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859. The weight of the evidence that Darwin had patiently gathered swiftly convinced scientists that evolution by natural selection better explained life's complexity and diversity. "I cannot possibly believe," wrote Darwin in 1868, "that a false theory would explain so many classes of facts."

In some circles, however, opposition to the concept of evolution has persisted to the present. The argument from design has recently been revived by a number of academics with scientific credentials, who maintain that their version of the idea (unlike Paley's) is soundly supported by both microbiology and mathematics. These antievolutionists differ from fundamentalist creationists in that they accept that some species do change (but not much) and that Earth is much more than 6,000 years old. Like their predecessors, however, they reject the idea that evolution accounts for the array of species we see today, and they seek to have their concept -- known as intelligent design -- included in the science curriculum of schools.

Most biologists have concluded that the proponents of intelligent design display either ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of evolutionary science. Yet their proposals are getting a hearing in some political and educational circles and are currently the subject of a debate within the Ohio Board of Education. Although Natural History does not fully present and analyze the intelligent-design phenomenon in the pages that follow, we offer, for the reader's information, brief position statements by three leading proponents of the theory, along with three responses. The section concludes with an overview of the intelligent-design movement by a philosopher and cultural historian who has monitored its history for more than a decade.

FEATURE: Police Psychics: Do They Really Help Solve Crimes?

Joe Nickell


The subject is nothing if not controversial. On one television show an experienced detective insists that no psychic has ever helped his department solve a crime, while another program features an equally experienced investigator who maintains that psychics are an occasionally valuable resource, citing examples from his own solved cases. Who is right? Is it a matter of science versus mysticism as some assert, or an issue of having an open mind as opposed to a closed one as others claim?

In ancient times those who sought missing persons or who attempted to uncover crimes could consult oracles or employ various other forms of divination including astrology. After dowsing became popular in the sixteenth century, certain practitioners used divining rods to track down alleged culprits. Throughout the nineteenth century, certain "sensitive" persons received information regarding crimes in their dreams, while during the heyday of Spiritualism some mediums claim to solve crimes through information provided by spirits of the dead.

Today virtually all of the old, supposedly discredited techniques are in vogue. Dorothy Allison, regarded as America's most famous psychic sleuth, at times employs astrology, while Greta Alexander sometimes gets information from her "spirit guides," Raoul and Isaiah. Dutch psychic Marinus Dykshoorn and others have plied their dowsing rods and pendulums in the supposed service of crime detection. Noreen Renier employs still another old divination technique called psychometry, by which she purportedly gets psychic impressions from objects connected with a particular person. Some psychics claim to use clairvoyance ("clear-seeing") whereby they supposedly "see" remote images and scenes as if they were viewed on a movie screen. Psychic Bill Ward even studies people's "auras" and reads the lines in their palms.

At lease on the face of it, this disparity of approach-- in which one technique seems to work about as well as another-- does not seem to provide a credible basis for psychic sleuthing. Neither do specific tests. For example the seventeenth-century French dowsing sleuth, Jacques Aymar, was extensively tested in Paris with embarrassing results: he failed to detect the guilty, and even accused those who were innocent, while inventing absurd excuses for his failures. In 1991 tests of British "police psychic" Nella Jones indicated that her ability to "psychometrize" possible murder weapons was nonexistent. Indeed, tests conducted by Los Angeles Police Department researchers, reported in the Journal of Police Science and Administration (7, no. 1 [1979]: 18-25), showed that information generated by psychics was no better than chance would allow.


But what about testimonials from experienced homicide detectives who have actually used psychics? Most reported successes appear to be like the one that a New Jersey police captain attributed to Dorothy Allison. Her predictions "were difficult to verify as initially given," he said. "The accuracy usually could not be verified until the investigation had come to a conclusion." Indeed, this after-the-fact matching—known as "retrofitting"—is the secret behind most alleged psychic successes. For example, the statement, "I see water and the number seven," would be a safe offering in almost any case. After all the facts are in, it will be unusual if there is not some stream, body of water, or other source that cannot somehow be associated with the case. As to the number seven, that can later be associated with a distance, a highway, the number of people in a search party, part of a license plate number, or any countless other possible interpretations.

Other explanations for psychics' reputed successes include the following: (1) Some psychics exaggerate their successes, even claiming positive results in cases that were failures or that never existed. (2) Psychics may use ordinary means of obtaining information which they then present as having been psychically obtained. For example, psychics have been accused of impersonating police and even of bribery of police officers in order to gain information. In one instance the psychic, unknown to a detective, had actually been briefed on the case by others.

Shrewd psychics can brief themselves by studying newspaper files or area maps, and some make use of the fortune tellers technique of "cold reading" ( a technique in which the psychic fishes for information while watching the listener's face for reactions that suggest correctness or error.) (3) Another potential explanation for psychic's apparent successes is faulty recollection of what was actually said. The fallibility of memory is well known, and many stories of psychic success get better as they are told and retold. (4) Many psychics deal in vague generalities: for example, one psychic reported perceiving, "the names 'John' or 'Joseph' or something like that." (5) And there are social and psychological factors that may influence people to accept the accuracy of information. Obviously their own belief system will have an effect.

These factors--combined with the ever-present technique of retrofitting-- can make a "psychic" of almost anyone. The result is like painting the bullseye around the arrow after it has been shot. Some credulous police officers even help the psychic in the reinterpretation necessary to convert a failure into an apparent "hit." For example, in one case when there was no nearby church as had been predicted, property owned by a church was counted as fitting the criterion.

The Bottom Line

Except in the extremely rare case in which a psychic was actually involved in the crime or had apparently received secret information (as from a tip), psychics rarely lead police to concealed bodies or unknown assailants. Of course they may use their own logical skills, or they may benefit from luck or perseverance, but there is no credible scientific evidence that psychic power ever solved a crime. Instead, crimes are invariably solved by police who search crime scenes, interview witnesses, and perform all of the myriad tasks necessary to locate a missing person or to convict a criminal.

Common sense suggests that if psychics really had the powers they claim then they would long ago have identified the "Unabomber" or have discovered the remains of missing Teamster Jimmy Hoffa. If they cannot accomplish such missions, how much more telling is their collective inability to do so.

Actually, the case against psychics is worse than just their inability to provide information that actually solves crimes. A far more serious problem exists with regard to the wasted resources of police departments who expend precious time and human activity in following up on a psychic's meaningless "clues." In one instance, the Nutley, New Jersey, police spent the whole of an afternoon in digging up a drainage ditch that Dorothy Allison mistakenly thought contained a missing boy. In another case, the fire department pumped the water from the flooded basement of an abandoned building in a fruitless search for a boy's remains that eventually were discovered across town. Even worse, psychics have wrongfully accused persons of committing crimes, a memorable example being that of Peter Hurkos, "the man with the radar brain," who mistakenly identified an innocent man as the notorious Boston Strangler. These examples answer the question that is often asked by those who defend the use of psychics, "what harm can it do?" Another argument defenders use is that, on occasion, a psychic's pronouncements prompted further search efforts, resulting in the discovery of the missing person's body, even though the psychic did not actually identify the location. But surely police should not have to rely on psychics to urge them to do more thorough work.

In brief, knowledgeable police officials resist the temptation to employ psychics. They know that psychic claims lack any scientific verification and that, in fact, psychics do not solve crimes. No longer should police solve crimes and let publicity-seeking occult pretenders take the credit.

Joe Nickell is investigative columnist for SKEPTICAL INQUIRER magazine and author of Psychic Sleuths: ESP and Sensational Cases

Talking to Heaven?
Like Hell!


The Spirited Trickery of James Van Praagh

by D. Trull

Enigma Editor

The latest supernatural sensation to hit the top of the bestseller lists is James Van Praagh's book Talking to Heaven: A Medium's Message of Life After Death. Not only does Van Praagh claim the ability to contact the afterworld and carry on conversations with the dead, but he also says that anyone can do it -- and if you buy the book, he'll tell you how.

Talking to Heaven spent 13 consecutive weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, bolstered by a publicity campaign that has included appearances on Oprah, 20/20, Dateline NBC and Larry King. Following in the footsteps of blockbusters like Betty Eadie's Embraced by the Light (on near-death experiences) and Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code (on scrambled prophecies hidden in scripture), Van Praagh's sales figures indicate that interest in the paranormal is very much a mainstream phenomenon, and not limited to a negligible lunatic fringe. More significantly, the success of a book like this reveals a disturbingly immense gullibility in the public, a widespread willingness to believe in the fantastic on the slightest of evidence.

Ufology is dead?

FILER'S FILES #17-2002, MUFON Skywatch Investigations
George A. Filer, Director, Mutual UFO Network Eastern
April 25, 2002, Majorstar@AOL.COM.
Webmaster: Chuck Warren http://www.filersfiles.com

TOP UFO SIGHTINGS: Pennsylvania star blinks off, North Carolina flying triangle, Georgia brilliant flash, Florida moving lights, Indiana witness photographs UFO, Wisconsin UFO follows witnesses, Colorado cylinder on video, Arizona row of lights, California sightings, Canada UFO landing, Cuba has numerous sightings, UK crop circle, Italy has 100 sightings, Hong Kong professor wants degrees in Ufology, Japan Research sees huge UFO in space, and Australia sightings. New Kennedy Space Center IMAX movie about the Space Station,. Astrobiology, the origin of life and the death of Darwinism. The Disclosure Project reports UFOs flew over US nuclear weapons facilities.

John Edward in the comics

Be sure to see the whole week's worth.


Got proof?

Physicist argues that, for lack of scientific evidence, God is probably just a concept

By Mark Sauer

April 26, 2002

In July 1998, the cover of Newsweek declared: "Science Finds God."

The story purported that theology and science, which had settled into an uneasy coexistence following the Enlightenment a few centuries back, were forming a new relationship.

"Rather than undercutting faith and a sense of the spiritual, scientific discoveries are offering support for them, at least in the minds of people of faith," according to Newsweek, whose article was based on a large meeting of theistic scientists in Berkeley.

This notion so rankled physicist Victor Stenger that he has written a book about it. "Has Science Found God?" will be published in October (Prometheus Books).

Stenger answers his title's question with a resounding no, arguing that "the personal God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam can be ruled out scientifically with high probability."


Friday, April 26, 2002

Paul Kurtz on CBS Sunday Morning and Articles of Note

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

1) Paul Kurtz will be featured on the CBS News Sunday Morning Show to air Sunday, April 28. The show starts at 9:00am eastern time.

See: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/09/sunday/main13562.shtml for more info.

America is in love with the paranormal. On television, there is the popular syndicated show "Crossing Over With Jonathan Edward." This Sunday and Tuesday, Ted Danson appears in "Living With the Dead," a mini-series movie on CBS in which he communicates with the dead.

Psychic hotlines, tarot cards, and remote viewers. Remote viewers are people who believe they have the power to see anywhere, at anytime in history or into the future.

2) Articles of Note

Who was Hannah Crafts?
By Timothy Davis


"If Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is correct, his recent literary find, a manuscript called "The Bondwoman's Narrative," recently published by Warner Books, isn't just the only known novel written by a fugitive slave; it's also the first novel ever penned by an African-American woman. Much is unknown about the book, including where and when it was written. However, the biggest mystery is the author herself."

Does Bigfoot walk the Northwest forests?
by John Stofflet


"Do you believe in Bigfoot? Three Walla Walla men do. They say they saw three of them, and have evidence to prove the legend is still alive."

Harris County home may be haunted
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


"Lisa Wyrick sat quietly in the back yard of her home on a Saturday afternoon two weeks ago, her eyes following her oldest daughter, Heidi, 16, as she was being filmed for a two-hour documentary program on TV's Discovery Channel."

It Came From The Deep
St. Petersburg Times


"At one time, scientists thought denizens of the sea numbered about 200,000. But in recent years, that projection has been revised to more like 100-million."

The ghost in the machine
by Tom Standage
The Independent [UK]


"On an autumn day in 1769, Wolfgang von Kempelen, a 35-year-old Hungarian civil servant, was summoned to the imperial court in Vienna, to witness the performance of a visiting French conjuror. Kempelen was well versed in physics, mechanics and hydraulics, and was a trusted servant of the empress Maria Theresa. She had invited him to see what a scientific expert would make of the conjuror's tricks. But the performance was to change the course of Kempelen's life. It led him to construct an extraordinary machine: a mechanical man, seated behind a wooden cabinet, and capable of playing chess."

Mystical advisers star in Myanmar politics
by Dominic Whiting


"In a narrow, dimly lit office in central Yangon's Bogyoke Aung San market, Myint Lwin waits for his next customer, a folder full of lunar, solar, and stellar charts on his tatty wooden desk."

A look at superstitions
By Ben Steelman
Wilmington Sunday Star-News


"When Lilmar Taylor Williams was teaching in Virginia, her class once studied a lesson unit on Eskimos. A reading noted that Eskimos believe it is bad luck to sweep trash out the door after dark. Ms. Williams (who now divides her time between Wilmington and Topsail Beach) remembered hearing the same thing as a young girl near Raeford. Several of her students learned the same tradition from their parents. A girl from India reported that many people in her home country believed it, too. Glenn Hinson knows that one well. "If you sweep your trash out the door after dark, you'll sweep all your luck away," said Dr. Hinson, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who works with its curriculum on folklore."

Don't look now: Conspiracy theories are out to get you
By Kathleen Parker


"Just because you don't think you have a mind-control chip in your brain doesn't necessarily mean that at this precise moment 10 white men aren't seated at a round table in an ice palace 500 miles beneath the Arctic Circle controlling your every thought. I mean, they could be."

Attorney claims alleged psychic Miss Cleo is 'for real'
By Mitch Lipka
South Florida Sun-Sentinel


"Miss Cleo's lawyer went on the offensive Wednesday after two months of near-silence, asserting his client has a gift of clairvoyance and suggesting she's the subject of a latter-day witch hunt."

Scientology Church fights Google
By Kevin Anderson
BBC News


"The Church of Scientology has taken its long-running battle against the distribution of its material on internet sites - especially sites critical of the church - to Google, one of the most popular search sites on the internet."

TV psychic 'chats' with Blake's dead wife on ABC


"On the day that prosecutors charged actor Robert Blake with the murder of his wife, a television special was set to air an "interview" with the "spirit" of the late Bonny Lee Bakley as channeled through a psychic medium."

Ted Danson's Psychic Connection
Associated Press


"Ted Danson will portray a spiritual medium he consulted in real life to try to contact his late father."

Is it a Hoax?
By Richard A. Sherman


"You've probably seen the warnings, hoaxes, virus alerts, virtual chain letters, and related high tech hooey crawling around the Internet."

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.


Today's Headlines – April 26, 2002

from The Associated Press

MILAN, Italy - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, in which apparently healthy babies die inexplicably in their cribs, may be linked to infection with a common bacterium, preliminary research suggests.

Researchers told a conference on infectious diseases Thursday that a shock- producing byproduct of E. coli was found in the blood of all SIDS babies tested, but in none of the infants used as a comparison.

Experts not connected with the research said the toxic infection theory is plausible.

SIDS describes unexpected deaths that autopsies can't explain. Despite decades of research, scientists remain mystified by crib death, the top killer of babies aged between 1 month and 1 year in the industrialized world.


from The New York Times

A federally appointed panel has approved a risky experiment that would flood part of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in an effort to save an endangered fish, rebuild beaches and kill part of a trout population that many experts contend is out of control.

The panel, composed of representatives of every major interest group with a stake in how that part of the river should be used and protected, voted 17 to 1 in favor of the experiment at a two-day meeting in Phoenix that ended yesterday. One member abstained.

If the experiment is approved by Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton, dam operators will reduce flows through the Glen Canyon Dam in September, or as soon afterward as monsoon rains dump sediment into the river below the dam. Such low flows are designed to prevent new sand from moving downstream.


from The Washington Post

BUENOS AIRES -- A small laboratory here came to prominence last month when its researchers unveiled a bioartificial device designed to keep children with liver disease alive long enough to receive an organ transplant.

The project marked another advance for a country steeped in scientific and medical achievement. But a painful economic collapse in Argentina, which has long been Latin America's wealthiest and best-educated country, has left scientists struggling for funds.

To keep this project alive, hundreds of doctors donated portions of their salaries, many of which have been sharply reduced during the economic crisis. The project coordinator routinely used his personal credit cards to buy chemicals and textbooks. And the lab's biologists and chemists -- who earn a quarter of what their counterparts in the United States make -- chipped in to cover the bus and subway fares for their research assistants.


from Newsday

Scientists at the University of Georgia report they've cloned a calf from a piece of meat.

En route to the supermarket, the side of fresh beef was sampled for cells from the kidney area, and the cells supplied genes from which a calf was cloned. It was born Monday at the university in Athens.

The cloners - Professor Steve Stice and colleagues at the university and at a biotechnology company, ProLinia Inc. - touted the value of cloning for the meat industry. After much more research and pending government approval, it one day may enable them to identify, and then re-create, animals to supply the best steaks, chops, ribs and oxtails.

But the feat itself is not surprising to scientists. "What is so fantastic about that?" asked Rudolf Jaenisch, professor of biology at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. "You can clone an animal by taking a piece of its tail, or any piece of tissue. I'm not surprised that this worked."


from Newsday

Scientists have uncovered additional clues on how hepatitis C causes infection and say their new understanding could eventually pave the way for a vaccine.

Hepatitis C infections are growing exponentially worldwide and in some parts of the world are the leading cause of liver failure. A team of researchers in Baltimore and Manhattan has found in a study of injection drug users that some people who carried the virus were able to clear the pathogens from their bodies. This suggested to scientists that some people develop a potent immunity, a finding that adds to anecdotal evidence of such resistance to the blood-borne infection.

The study is reported in today's issue of The Lancet, a British medical journal.


from NOVA News Minutes

Follow this link to the companion Web site to "Why the Towers Fell," scheduled for broadcast on April 30, 2002. The program follows a team of forensic engineers during their in-depth investigation of the precise causes of the Twin Towers' collapse.

The Web site features a history of the engineering of the WTC, as well as an engineer's perspective on how and why the towers fell, a survivor's story and an examination of the structure of metal.

"Why the Towers Fell" is the first intsallment of "NOVA News Minutes," a collection of short features designed to deliver science-based content to ABC News affiliates. The series is produced by ScienCentral, Inc., a science and technology television news and video production company, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.


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

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

DNA Testing


Dr. Berrenda Fox provides evidence of DNA and cellular changes in this article by Patricia Resch. Dr. Fox is the holistic practitioner of the Avalon Wellness Centre in Mt Shasta, California. The Avalon Clinic represents the re-emergence of the ideal of healing as practiced on the original Isle of Avalon. Dr Fox has proven through blood tests that some people have actually developed new strands of DNA.

PR: Berrenda, tell us a little about your background.

BF: I have doctorates in physiology and naturopathy. During my training in Europe I also was involved with the media, and this still continues in film and management. As you know, I'm working with FOX Television Network to bring about understanding of extraterrestrial and their role in what is happening with mankind at this time. The most well known are 'Sightings' and 'The X Files'.

PR: What are the changes that are happening at this time on the planet, and how are our bodies being affected?

BF: There are major changes, mutations that haven't occurred, according to geneticists, since the time we supposedly came out of the water. Several years ago in Mexico City there was a convention of geneticists from around the world, and the main topic was the DNA change. We are making an evolutionary change, yet we don't know what we are changing into.

PR: How is our DNA changing?

BF: Everyone has one double helix of DNA. What we are finding is that there are other helixes that are being formed. In the double helix there are two strands of DNA coiled into a spiral. It is my understanding that we will be developing twelve helixes. During this time, which seems to have started maybe 5 to 20 years ago, we have been mutating. This is the scientific explanation. It is a mutation of our species into something for which the end result is not yet known. The changes are not known publicly, because the scientific community feels it would frighten the population. However, people are changing at the cellular level. I am working with three children right now who have three DNA helixes. Most people know and feel this. Many religions have talked about the change and know it will come about in different ways. We know it is a positive mutation even though physically, mentally, and emotionally it can be misunderstood and frightening.

PR: Are these children displaying any characteristics different from other children?

BF: These are children who can move objects across the room just by concentrating on them, or they can fill glasses of water just by looking at them. They're telepathic. You would almost think by knowing these children that they are half angelic or superhuman, but they're not. I think they are what we are growing into during the next few decades.

PR: Do you think this will happen to all of us?

BR: It seems like most people who were born before 1940 have not been able to make the shift, but have initiated something into the next generation that gives them the capacity to form another helix within our lifetime. Our immune and endocrine systems are the most evident of these changes. That is one of the reasons I work with research in immunological testing and therapy. Some adults that I have tested actually do have another DNA helix forming. Some are even getting their third. These people are going through a lot of major shifts in their consciousness and physical bodies, because it is all one. In my opinion, the Earth and everyone here is raising its vibration. Many of the children born recently have bodies that are magnetically lighter. Those of us that are older and choose to change have to go through many physical changes.

PR: What causes change in bodies born with normal two-strand DNA?

BF: The easiest way to mutate our DNA is through a virus. Consequently viruses are not necessarily bad. Viruses live only on living tissue. DNA viruses like Epstein Barr and the Herpes #6 change cellular structure. The retrovirus HIV is not a DNA virus. Instead of mutating the body, it actually eats it up. Most people who go through this process and come out the other side have a new profession, a new way of thinking, or at least a starting of a new way of life. Even though they may feel really sick, tired, or hopeless at times, it is a gift. They are being given a chance to change their DNA structure and their body into a lighter, healthier body that can see them into the next generation. The angels that are being seen are signs that we are shifting. As I understand it, we have until about 2012 to complete this process.

PR: What other changes should we expect to see?

BF: There will be no disease, we will not need to die. We will be able to learn our lessons, not through suffering, but through joy and love. The old system has to crumble away, and is not doing that without putting up a big fight. So you have all the wars; a lot of the medical-type of healing is not working; the government is not working. A lot of the old paradigms can no longer exist yet are fighting to be maintained, but there is no doubt that it is changing. Those of us who have chosen to live at this time are the forerunners of almost a new species. It is human, yet we are at the same time actually manifesting heaven on Earth. We are receiving extra help from masters and extraterrestrial, angelic beings, and learning to go inward. The more we are able to go in and listen to that quiet voice, the more we are in tune with the changes that are happening.

PR: What are some of the side effects of these changes?

BF: With a cellular change you are sometimes going to feel as though you are not here. You may feel exhaustion, because we are literally changing cells and becoming new beings. Like a new baby, you may need lots of rest. Mental confusion and not being able to concentrate on routine tasks may happen as we are being programmed for something larger. Aches and pains throughout the body for which there is no specific cause are common. Many people feel as though they are going crazy. If they go into an orthodox medical office, most likely they will be put on Prozac, because they can't define what it is. It is difficult for the medical profession because they are not used to dealing with the energy body. Because the chakras are related to our endocrine system, women will go through hormonal changes. There may be crying without knowing why because crying releases hormones. Many women are going through menopause earlier because we are accelerating. Men may be very frustrated with the exhaustion when they are used to being very active. They may feel their feminine side coming out because this is the intuitive side. The emotional therapy that has been coming out in the last 20 to 30 years has been speeded up with new techniques for these changes. We are actually doing a tremendous amount of emotional work in a very short time, which would have taken thousands of years.

PR: How do you you treat someone who is going through these changes?

BF: I approach it from the viewpoint of working with individual beings instead of treating a disease. 'Doctor' in Latin means educator. The only effective service you can perform as a true healer is to empower individuals with the necessary tools and reassure them that what is happening is real, and that they can heal and be free of the 'negative' symptoms while healing. First, I require immunological testing that is not traditionally done. This is a blood laboratory test performed by an advanced specialty research lab. Then I give the patient the information themselves. This is much like a map of the changes so they can have the power to heal. I am not the healer but only an instrument in their individual healing process. There is power in a person looking at their own blood tests and seeing the map of what is going on in their bodies that causes something to click in the subconscious. The real key is that the person take responsibility and do their own work. What I use as tools are not commonly used. I use a lot of Organotherapy, which is a glandular treatment from Europe, to build up the hormonal system to accept the changes in the DNA. Also, I use homeopathy to work on the energetic body, vitamins, herbs, and cold laser therapy. The therapy depends entirely on individual needs. Much of what I do has been accessed from those whom I would call older sisters and brothers who have gone on before us. They are from other solar systems that we have all come from to help this planet with its transition.

PR: How do you see your work evolving?

BF: I look at my work as a bridge or transition. It is both scientific and artistic. Healing is an art and a science. Using only science or just the art of healing is not enough for complete health. I don't think I will be a healer all my life because I believe disease will be eliminated. We as conscious people will eliminate disease and suffering.



Extracted from an article 'The Bigger Picture' by Susanna Thorpe-Clark

We are being changed physically from carbon-based beings with 2 strands of DNA into crystalline beings with 1,024 strands of DNA (eventually), because only crystalline substances can exist on higher dimensional levels. We are in fact having our bodies merged with Sirian DNA strands as this format is close enough to our own to be able to integrate with relatively little side effects. It is not just we humans who are changing, but all life forms on Earth are becoming crystalline. All the fish in the sea, the flowers and trees in your garden, the birds in the sky, even your pet dog or cat. Everything is changing. Nothing will die or be destroyed, for we are all moving together into a new state of being. This new state of being requires, therefore, that we physically, mentally and emotionally let go of 3rd-dimensional concepts. Just as in death, the letting go is a major part of the change process for one cannot take the old values and way of being into a new completely different afterlife. So the progression through changes compels us to let go of current relationships, jobs, careers, homes, possessions, and so on, if they are unable to support our new way of being.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that there is a great deal of anxiety and fear being felt because these changes are already in progress, even though most people are not conscious of it.

Also, the changes to our physiological makeup are currently speeding up and there are many temporary physical symptoms that are occurring in our bodies as a consequence of this. Some of these are:

Some of these symptoms are being felt by a great many people. Many are rushing off in panic to their doctor, chiropractor, herbalist, and so on, and are usually told that there is nothing wrong with them. This is the truth because all these symptoms are just temporary and simply indicate that these physiological changes are occurring. Some of the RECOMMENDED RELIEF REMEDIES for the above are: Recognize that even if you are having heart palpitations or breathing difficulties, it is the heart chakra or the throat chakra that is unblocking and that the symptoms are temporary. You aren't dying, just changing! However, don't just take my word for it. Seek medical guidance if you are unsure. If you don't know where to get Valerian or Fenugreek, try a health food store or, better still, simply say the name in your head when you need relief. All healing energies are transmitted via the sound of the name and are just as effective said in the mind or aloud, as in physically taking them. Try it and see. Ask your angel guides to help relieve any pain. They are just waiting to be asked! Most symptoms seem to last a couple of weeks, then clear up. Some symptoms may recur from time to time. These changes are not necessarily being experienced by everyone concurrently. A very small percentage of adults have already completed the entire change into crystalline form and now embody 1,024 strands of DNA. One report is of a woman who has grown 3 inches taller and a foot-size larger. All children under the age of 7 have also now completed the change, or will shortly do so. Babies born in the past 2 years have all been born with the full set of DNA. Some people are only just starting to move through these changes, and many others have yet to start. This process of change is known as the Awakening, or as the Ascension process, or known as achieving the Merkabah, or light body. We need to transcend our fears and learn about love, real love, which has to start with the self. Because until we can love and trust ourselves, we cannot truly love or trust anything or anybody else.

Attorney claims alleged psychic Miss Cleo is 'for real'

By Mitch Lipka


April 24, 2002

Miss Cleo's lawyer went on the offensive Wednesday after two months of near-silence, asserting his client has a gift of clairvoyance and suggesting she's the subject of a latter-day witch hunt.

"It does not take a crystal ball to see that the allegations against Miss Cleo may be politically motivated," attorney William Cone Jr. said in a statement. "Is this Florida politics, or a bad remake of the Salem witch trials?"

The state of Florida in February sued the TV infomercial superstar, whose real name is Youree Dell Harris, of Southwest Ranches in Broward County, alleging a pattern of deceiving consumers.

Planet line-up heralds tough time-Indian astrologer


BANGALORE, India (Reuters) - A prominent Indian astrologer who predicted a grim tragedy for the United States eight months before the September 11 attacks says the world faces tough times in coming months.

The prediction is linked to a rare grouping of five planets in a single house in celestial charts on May 13 and 14, Gayatri Devi Vasudev, editor of the monthly Astrological Magazine, said in the May issue.

"On the day of the combination itself, no dire calamity will befall the world. But the months of May and June 2002 will not be peaceful for the world," Gayatri Devi wrote.

"The United States may face major setbacks in its war against terrorism though it may succeed with a major terrorist catch," she says. Other hazards the United States could face included terrorist threats and an earthquake, she said.

Until early June the five planets -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn -- can be seen with the naked eye as they move into a rough grouping on the same, visible, side of the sun, something that happens only once a century.

Gayatri Devi, who calls astrology a science, says the charts only indicate trends that can be countered by "faith in God and in the inherent divinity of fellow humans".

She says the combination was also significant for India.

"The Indian government may get caught in complex developments threatening its very life but due to the inbuilt strength of its horoscope, the worst may be staved off," she said.

The Hindu nationalist-led coalition government already faces stiff criticism over its failure to end religious violence in Gujarat state where more than 850 people, most of them Muslims, have been killed since late February.

Gayatri Devi also said a Mars-Saturn conjunction on May 4 in Taurus "may have the effect of stimulating a wild aggression by Pakistan on the Indian borders".

India and Pakistan have been locked in a military standoff since an attack on the Indian parliament in December that India blamed on Pakistan-based guerrillas fighting its rule in disputed Kashmir.

She said Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf may be in an "unresolvable situation" that could lead to his exit.

Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, is seeking five more years in office through a controversial referendum on April 30. He said earlier this week he would not stay in power against the wishes of voters.

Day of Reason = June 21, 2002


Governor's Office Electronic Correspondence

.. John A. Kitzhaber, the Governor of the State of Oregon, has declared 21 June 2002 a "Day of Reason", thanks to effort of a person who is a member of the Portland Humanists, and United States Atheists.


the application of reason offers hope for developing and implementing intelligent and ethical interactions among people; and

philosophies of reason were emphasized and applied in writing the Constitution of the United States of America and those of its several states; and

most citizens value reason and seek to apply it to their lives.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, John A. Kitzhaber, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim June 21, 2002 to be


in Oregon and encourage all citizens to join in this observance.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunto set my hand and cause the Great Seal of the State of Oregon to be affixed. Done at the Capitol in the City of Salem in the State of Oregon on this day, April 16, 2002.

John A. Kitzhaber, Governor

Bill Bradbury, Secretary of State

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