NTS LogoSkeptical News for 18 October 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, October 18, 2002

mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")

Issue Number 2002-10
October, 2002
ISSN 1076-500X
Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the
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A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in the
Annals of Improbable Research (AIR),
the journal of inflated research and personalities
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2002-10-01  TABLE OF CONTENTS

2002-10-01  Table of Contents
2002-10-02  What's New in the Magazine
2002-10-03  The 2002 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
2002-10-05  Smelly Limerick Winners
2002-10-06  Bleb Limericks?
2002-10-07  Hair Club Rock Star Scientist
2002-10-08  Reality and the Ig Book
2002-10-09  Broken Egg Math
2002-10-10  Of Prizes and Prizes
2002-10-11  CAVALCADE OF HotAIR: Silent Whistle, Jargon, HMO-NO
2002-10-12  RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Halloween Reading
2002-10-13  MAY WE RECOMMEND: Pink Teeth and Chubby Cheeks
2002-10-14  AIRhead Events
2002-10-15  How to Subscribe to AIR (*)
2002-10-16  Our Address (*)
2002-10-17  Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)
2002-10-18  How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

mini-AIR is a free monthly *e-supplement* to AIR, the print magazine

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2002-10-02 What's New in the Magazine

AIR 8:5 (September/October 2002) is the special SMELLY ISSUE. Highlights include:

"BODY OF WORK: Mel Rosenberg's Bad Breath," by Alice Shirrell Kaswell and Stephen Drew. Selected highlights from the published works of the world's most celebrated halitosis researcher.

"Putrescine Scratch 'N Sniff ," by Lilly Duval. A fun demonstration item.

"Ask Symmetra: How to Say? (Cheese)," by scientist/supermodel Symmetra. AIR's advice columnist dispenses further wisdom.

"Dante's Hair, Buddha's Teeth, and Tutankhamun's Breasts: Intimate Celebrity Gleanings From the Medical Literature," by Christopher D. McManus. A guide to published medical reports concerning celebrated persons.

..and much, much more.

The entire table of contents and a few of the articles are on-line at

http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume8/v8i5/v8i5-toc.html

(What you are reading at this moment is mini-AIR, a small, monthly e-mail supplement to the print magazine.)

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2002-10-03  The 2002 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The 12th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held on October 3 before a capacity crowd of 1200 enraptured spectators at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. Seven of the ten winners traveled to the ceremony at their own expense, and an eighth sent a tape- recorded acceptance speech from his office in Kerala, India. Nobel Laureates Richard Roberts, William Lipscomb, and Dudley Herschbach personally handed the winners their Ig Nobel Prizes, and other Laureates sent tape-recorded nods of acknowledgement. David King, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Government, stopped by the ceremony to wish the winners good luck; and the world's most prominent scientist, Stephen Wolfram, dropped by the intimate party afterwards to personally congratulate them.

All the new winners, like all their predecessors, have done things that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK. Here are the 2002 Ig Nobellians:

BIOLOGY
Norma E. Bubier, Charles G.M. Paxton, Phil Bowers, and D. Charles
Deeming of the United Kingdom, for their report "Courtship
Behaviour of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in
Britain." [REFERENCE: "Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches (Struthio
camelus) Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in Britain,"
Norma E. Bubier, Charles G.M. Paxton, P. Bowers, D.C. Deeming,
British Poultry Science, vol. 39, no. 4, September 1998, pp. 477-
481.]

PHYSICS
Arnd Leike of the University of Munich, for demonstrating that
beer froth obeys the mathematical Law of Exponential Decay.
[REFERENCE: "Demonstration of the Exponential Decay Law Using Beer
Froth," Arnd Leike, European Journal of Physics, vol. 23, January
2002, pp. 21-26.]

INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH
Karl Kruszelnicki of The University of Sydney, for performing a
comprehensive survey of human belly button lint -- who gets it,
when, what color, and how much.

CHEMISTRY

Theodore Gray of Wolfram Research, in Champaign, Illinois, for
gathering many elements of the periodic table, and assembling them
into the form of a four-legged periodic table table.

MATHEMATICS
K.P. Sreekumar and the late G. Nirmalan of Kerala Agricultural
University, India, for their analytical report "Estimation of the
Total Surface Area in Indian Elephants." [REFERENCE: "Estimation
of the Total Surface Area in Indian Elephants (Elephas maximus
indicus)," K.P. Sreekumar and G. Nirmalan, Veterinary Research
Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 1990, pp. 5-17.]

LITERATURE
Vicki L. Silvers of the University of Nevada-Reno and David S.
Kreiner of Central Missouri State University, for their colorful
report "The Effects of Pre-Existing Inappropriate Highlighting on
Reading Comprehension." [PUBLISHED IN: Reading Research and
Instruction, vol. 36, no. 3, 1997, pp. 217-23.]

PEACE
Keita Sato, President of Takara Co., Dr. Matsumi Suzuki, President
of Japan Acoustic Lab, and Dr. Norio Kogure, Executive Director,
Kogure Veterinary Hospital, for promoting peace and harmony
between the species by inventing Bow-Lingual, a computer-based
automatic dog-to-human language translation device.

HYGIENE
Eduardo Segura, of Lavakan de Aste, in Tarragona, Spain, for
inventing a washing machine for cats and dogs.

ECONOMICS
The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron,
Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit
International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy,
Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance
[Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK],
McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest
Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam,
Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for
adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in
the business world. [NOTE: all companies are U.S.-based unless
otherwise noted.]

MEDICINE
Chris McManus of University College London, for his excruciatingly
balanced report, "Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient
Sculpture." [PUBLISHED IN: Nature, vol. 259, February 5, 1976, p.
426.]

Links to the winners' home pages and/or supporting documentation are at http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html#ig2002

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2002-10-05  Smelly Limerick Winners

Here are the winners of our SMELLY LIMERICK COMPETITION, in which each competitor composed, or at least tried to compose, a limerick that elucidates this research report:

"Characterization of Emissions From Burning Incense," J.J. Jetter, Z. Guo, J.A. McBrian, M.R. Flynn, The Science of the Total Environment, vol. 295, nos. 1-3, August 5, 2002, pp 51-67.

INVESTIGATOR GRAHAM DE VAHL DAVIS:
When Jetter and Guo and McBrian And Flynn started particles fryin', The smells that they made Exceeded the grade Set by NAAQS, and left everyone cryin'.

 [EDITOR'S NOTE: "NAAQS," pronounced "NACKS" by those who
 are so inclined or who want to make Professor de Vahl Davis's
 limerick scan, is an acronym for the US Environmental
 Protection Agency's "National Ambient Air Quality Standards."]

INVESTIGATOR CARL WITTHOFT:
Some burning incense smells better When described in a technical letter It's science? May be. But it seems to me That this is a joke by J. Jetter

INVESTIGATOR ANGIE FINLEY:
With emissions finally admitted, The scholarly four submitted That, true to their test, Fresh air is still best, And incense is best left omitted!

The winning smelly limerick authors will each receive a free, odor-enhanced copy of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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2002-10-06  Bleb Limericks?

We invite you to enter the first and last annual BLEB LIMERICK COMPETITION, in for the best (NEWLY composed!) limerick that elucidates this research report:

"A Case of a 360 Degree Exuberant Trabeculectomy Bleb," J.D Rossiter, S.J. Godfrey, K.G. Claridge, Eye, vol. 13, part 3a, June 1999, pp. 369-70.

Please make sure your rhymes actually do, and that your limerick at least pretends to adhere to classic limerick form.

The winning author will receive a free, completely visible copy of AIR. Send entries (one entry per entrant) to:

BLEB LIMERICK CONTEST
c/o marca@chem2.harvard.edu

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2002-10-07  Hair Club Rock Star Scientist

The Luxurious Flowing Hair Club for Scientists is proud to announce the induction into its ranks of a genuine Italian rock star scientist who is, of course, endowed with luxurious flowing hair. We speak of none other than Dr. Piero Paravidino.

You can see Dr. P's photograph at

http://www.improbable.com/projects/hair/hair-club-top.html#newest

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2002-10-08  Reality and the Ig Book

We are most pleased to announce the publication, by Orion Books, in London, of the new book "The Ig Nobel Prizes" (ISBN 0752851500). For details see

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0752851500/ref%3Dase%5Ftheannalsofimpro

The book is available in the UK; elsewhere it can be obtained from on-line booksellers. Amazon.co.uk began listing it several weeks ago, and in so doing they illustrated the most common misunderstanding about the Igs. Amazon classified the book as "FICTION." Despite pleas from the publisher to correct that listing, Amazon persisted. After several weeks, the author stepped in and used Amazon's "I am the author and I want to comment on my book" facility, posting this message:

The most difficult thing about organizing the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony all these years has been getting people to realize that the winners -- and their achievements -- are real. Want some evidence of how difficult it can be for people to accept reality as reality?
AMAZON.CO.UK PERSISTS IN CLASSIFYING THE BOOK AS "FICTION."

Two weeks later, Amazon did, at last, remove its classification of the book as "FICTION." They classified it instead as "AUDIO." A week later, after a round of highly audible pleading by the book's publisher, Amazon finally settled on a classification of "HARDCOVER - 224 pages." And so it stands, at least for the moment.

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2002-10-09  Broken Egg Math

Investigator Ron Josephson alerted us to the following mathematics-related dispatch, which appeared in the October 11, 2002 issue of "The Salt Lake Tribune":

The menu at the Coffee Garden at 900 East and 900 South in Salt Lake City has included a scrumptious selection of quiche for about 10 years. The recipe calls for four fresh eggs for each quiche. A Salt Lake County Health Department inspector paid a visit recently and pointed out that research by the Food and Drug Administration indicates that one in four eggs carries salmonella bacterium, so restaurants should never use more than three eggs when preparing quiche. The manager on duty wondered aloud if simply throwing out three eggs from each dozen and using the remaining nine in four- egg-quiches would serve the same purpose. The inspector wasn't sure, but she said she would research it.

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2002-10-10  Of Prizes and Prizes

Close readers of mini-AIR will recall that on September 21 Nobel there was a festive 70th birthday celebration for Nobel Laureate (and AIR editorial board member) Dudley Herschbach. AIR played a tiny role in the celebration, helping to organize an informal, light-hearted competition for the very-first-ever Dudley Herschbach Prize. Competitors were invited to give three minute talks on scientific topics "so imaginative they could one day win either a Nobel or an Ig Nobel Prize." The Dudley Herschbach Prize was awarded to four co-winners:

Pete Siska
John Fenn
Felix Smith
John Briggs

Less than three weeks later, John Fenn was announced as one of this year's Nobel Prize winners.

Thus it appears that the Dudley Herschbach Prize is a powerful predictor of who will win a Nobel Prize.

The next Dudley Herschbach Prize competition will be held on the occasion of Dudley Herschbach's 140th birthday. By that time we will probably know whether the destinies of Pete Siska, Felix Smith, and/or John Briggs have further added to the predictive power of the Dudley Herschbach Prize.

No matter what further honors the coming years may hold for them, our congratulations, cheers, and hurrahs go to Pete Siska, John Fenn, Felix Smith, and John Briggs!

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2002-10-11  CAVALCADE OF HotAIR: Silent Whistle, Jargon, HMO-NO

Here are concise, incomplete, flighty mentions of some of the features we've posted on HotAIR since last month's mini-AIR came out. See them by clicking "WHAT'S NEW" at the web site, or go to:

http://www.improbable.com/navstrip/whatsnew.html

The Pleasures of the Silent Whistle

http://www.improbable.com/news/2002/sep/whistle.html

The words to "The Jargon Opera" (which premiered at this year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony)

http://www.improbable.com/ig/2002/jargon-libretto.html

Research to Sniff At (from AIR 8:5)

http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume8/v8i5/sniff.html

HMO-No News: Like-Treats-Like! (from AIR 8:5)

http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume8/v8i5/hmo-no-8-5.html

Plausible Statistics (from AIR 8:5)

http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume8/v8i5/plausible-8-5.html

THESE, AND MORE, ARE ON HOTAIR AT
http://www.improbable.com/navstrip/whatsnew.html

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2002-10-12  RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Halloween Reading

Each month we select for your special attention a research report that seems especially worth a close read. Your librarian will enjoy being asked for a copy. Here is this month's Pick of the Month:

"Disgust and Fear in Response to Spiders," Laura L. Vernon and Howard Berenbaum, Cognition and Emotion, vol. 16, no. 6, November 1, 2002, pp. 809-30. (Thanks to Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report that:

We examined disgust and fear responses to spiders.... [Pa]rticipants completed questionnaires concerning responses to spiders... In addition, we obtained self-report and facial expressions of disgust and fear while participants were exposed to a live tarantula.... The results of this study provide evidence that spiders have a specific disgust-evoking status in both distressed and nondistressed populations.

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2002-10-13  MAY WE RECOMMEND: Pink Teeth and Chubby Cheeks

MOUTH OFF
"Pink Teeth of the Dead: II. Minor Variations," C.W. van Wyk, Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology, vol. 6, no. 2, December 1988, pp. 35-42. (Thanks to B.K. Wilderblad for bringing this to our attention.)

EXPANSIVE ANALYSIS
"Relation Between Chubby Cheeks and Visceral Fat," J.A. Levine, A. Ray, and M.D. Jensen, New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 339, no. 26, December 24, 1998, pp. 1946-7.

A UNIFIED THEORY OF EVERYTHING
"Antiadhesive Effect of Green and Roasted Coffee on Streptococcus Mutans' Adhesive Properties on Saliva-Coated Hydroxyapatite Beads," M. Daglia, et al., Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 50, 2002, pp. 1225-9. (Thanks to Andreas Bohne for bringing this to our attention.)

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2002-10-14  AIRhead Events

For details and updates see http://www.improbable.com
Want to host an event? marca@chem2.harvard.edu 617-491-4437

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO -- FRI,
NOV. 29, 2002

Broadcast of specially edited highlights from this year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, on NPR's "Talk of the Nation / Science Friday with Ira Flatow" program. Simulcast on the web at WWW.SCIENCEFRIDAY.COM (consult WWW.NPR.ORG for times and radio stations)

COAST GUARD ACADEMY -- TUES, DEC. 3, 2002
AIR editor MARC ABRAHAMS will present a public talk about Advances in Improbable Research.

AAAS ANNUAL MEETING, DENVER -- FEBRUARY, 2003

Special Annals of Improbable Research session at
the Annual Meeting of the American Assn
for the Advancement of Science. Featuring:
* AIR Editor MARC ABRAHAMS
* 2001 Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner BUCK WEIMER
* 1994 Ig Nobel Medicine Prize co-winner RICHARD DART
and others TBA

MICHIGAN TECH, HOUGHTON, MI  -- APRIL 8, 2003
8:00 PM, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
INFO: Valerie Pegg, vepegg@mtu.edu, 906-487-2844
http://www.greatevents.mtu.edu/main.html

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2002-10-15  How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

Here's how to subscribe to the magnificent bi-monthly print
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Send payment (US bank check, or international money order, or
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2002-10-16  Our Address (*)

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

EDITORIAL: marca@chem2.harvard.edu
SUBSCRIPTIONS: air@improbable.com
WEB SITE: http://www.improbable.com

---------------------------
2002-10-17  Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR for commercial purposes.

------------- mini-AIRheads -------------
EDITOR: Marc Abrahams (marca@chem2.harvard.edu)
MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last
few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson wendy@posh.com
WWW EDITOR/GLOBAL VILLAGE IDIOT: Amy Gorin
(airmaster@improbable.com)
COMMUTATIVE EDITOR: Stanley Eigen (eigen@neu.edu)
ASSOCIATIVE EDITOR: Mark Dionne
DISTRIBUTIVE EDITOR: Robin Pearce
CO-CONSPIRATORS: Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Gary Dryfoos, Ernest
Ersatz, S. Drew
MAITRE DE COMPUTATION: Jerry Lotto
AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon
Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

(c) copyright 2002, Annals of Improbable Research

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2002-10-18  How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

What you are reading right now is mini-AIR. Mini-AIR is a (free!)
tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine.
To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to:
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Moore: Wants to restore moral foundation of law

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news/1034932526133370.xml

10/18/02

STAN BAILEY
News staff writer

MONTGOMERY America's moral decline is directly linked to its failure to acknowledge the God of the Bible as sovereign over the nation and its laws, Chief Justice Roy Moore testified in federal court Thursday.

Moore said he placed a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state judicial building to help restore the moral foundation of law in Alabama.

"The purpose was to restore the moral foundation, and you can only do that by recognizing the source of those moral laws, which is God," Moore said.

Moore testified in the third day of trial in a suit by three lawyers who want the monument removed. They contend it violates the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state.

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 – October , 2002

INCREASE IN AUTISM BAFFLES SCIENTISTS
from The New York Times

Trying to account for a drastic rise in childhood autism in recent years, a California study has found that it cannot be explained away by statistical anomalies or by a growing public awareness that might have led more parents to report the disorder.

But the study's authors, who reported their findings yesterday to the California Legislature, said they were at a loss to explain the reasons for what they called an epidemic of autism, the mysterious brain disorder that affects a person's ability to form relationships and to behave normally in everyday life.

"Autism is on the rise in the state, and we still do not know why," said the lead author, Dr. Robert S. Byrd, an epidemiologist and pediatrician at the University of California at Davis. "The results are, without a doubt, sobering."

As diagnoses of autism have increased throughout the nation, experts and parents have cast about for possible explanations, including genetics, birth injuries and childhood immunizations. The California study found that none of these factors could explain an increase of the magnitude reported there — more than triple from 1987 to 1998.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/18/health/18AUTI.html

COLLEGES SEEING A BUILDING BOOM FOR MODERN SCIENCE FACILITIES
from The Associated Press

OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) -- When Sputnik hurtled into orbit in 1957, American colleges took note.

Fear that the Soviet Union would win the space race prompted a flurry of construction at U.S. schools not necessarily known for their science programs. Working with millions of dollars in federal aid, they put up new science buildings over the following decade.

But now those structures seem as antiquated as that first artificial satellite. The result: another spurt of construction as small, liberal arts colleges put up sleek, new science centers.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/10/17/national0207EDT0426.DTL

CLUES TO ONSET OF MAD COW DISEASE
from Newsday

The molecular problem that leads to mad cow disease and similar brain disorders is becoming clearer, scientists announced yesterday.

Based on experiments with tiny protein molecules - prions - researchers now think the damage occurs when a cell's normal quality control system slows down or fails because of age, stress or illness. This allows poisonous, misfolded proteins to accumulate and kill nerve cells. And if enough neurons die, the brain can be seriously damaged.

This, the scientists wrote in a study published today in the journal Science, "suggests a model to explain the rare, spontaneous origin" of some prion disease cases, such as human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. And like a row of falling dominos, the study found, "once misfolding begins, it has a self-sustaining character, influencing more proteins to adopt the same form," leading to disease and death.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hsmad182969523oct18,0,3212284.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

SMALLPOX VACCINE RISKS EYED
from Newsday

Adverse reactions are expected among health care workers vaccinated against smallpox, but federal health advisers yesterday said screening methods should greatly reduce chances of injury or death from the vaccine.

For two days this week, members of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immunization panel have been working on ways to protect the nation in the event of a smallpox attack. But the smallpox vaccine has problems of its own.

Negative reactions that most worry doctors are overwhelming viral infections caused by vaccinia, the virus in the vaccine. In people with pre- existing infections, such as with HIV, the vaccine can cause a superinfection, doctors say, leading to death.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hspox182969522oct18,0,2861635.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

BIG BUTTOCKS: ALL IN THE GENES? from The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer

When Duke University geneticist Randy Jirtle popped up on London Daily Mail's fashion pages this month, his ho-hum wardrobe had nothing to do with it.

Credit goes to Jirtle's fixation on bottoms, especially big bottoms.

Scientists have long wondered about odd creatures called callipyge (CAL-la- peege) sheep. The animals are named for Greek love goddess Aphrodite Kallipygos, a beauty whose name literally means "beautiful buttocks."

The sheep have huge, firm back-sides, a trait passed down only by their fathers. Working with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jirtle's lab found a gene behind the big butts with possible implications for humans. And people all over the world want to hear about it.

http://newsobserver.com/news/triangle/story/1819933p-1818715c.html

ANY DRINKING HURTS UNBORN DURING PREGNANCY, STUDY FINDS
from The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - Children born to mothers who drink even small amounts of alcohol early in pregnancy are shorter and weigh less at age 14 than children born to mothers who abstain, a study says.

The federal government has long said that no amount of alcohol is safe for a pregnant woman to drink. University of Pittsburgh researcher Nancy Day, the study's principal investigator, said her study reinforces that.

"The message should be that women should not drink at all during pregnancy," Day said Wednesday.

The deficiencies found in the study are slight and fall within normal height and weight ranges, Day said, but were still surprising. The differences also were statistically significant, meaning they were not a matter of chance.

http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/580779p-4534130c.html

HEALED ONCE, LAKE ERIE IN RELAPSE
from The Chicago Tribune

CLEVELAND -- Lake Erie, once so polluted and putrid that it was irreverently called "the place where fish go to die," is now often cited as a worldwide model for ecosystem recovery.

But on the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act Friday, legislation inspired in part by Lake Erie's near-death in the 1960s, scientists say parts of the Great Lake are dying once again.

Mysterious dead zones, or areas without oxygen, have returned to about half of the lake's central basin. Yellow perch and prized walleye populations declined in the 1990s. Meanwhile, avian botulism, also present in the 1960s, has killed thousands of water birds, including common loons and ring- billed gulls.

Decades ago, the problem was chemical pollution, primarily phosphorous from sewage, detergent and fertilizer. Today, despite controls, the phosphorous is back and scientists suspect the culprit is biological pollution, due in part to changes wrought by invasive species such as the zebra mussel and the round gobie.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0210180254oct18.story

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Ohio OKs Creation in Science Class

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20021015/ap_on_sc/evolution_debate_3

Tue Oct 15, 4:27 PM ET

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state school board said Tuesday it will adopt a science curriculum that leaves it up to school districts whether to teach the concept of "intelligent design," which holds that the universe is guided by a higher intelligence.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the standards, which emphasize both evolution and critical analysis of the theory. It will adopt them formally in December.

The standards put into writing what many school districts already do — teach evolution, but also explain that there is debate over the origin of life.

"In no way does this advocate for creation or intelligent design," said Michael Cochran, a board member who had pushed for the concept to be included in the standards. "I do look upon this as a compromise."

The decision follows weeks of behind-the-scenes talks to reach an agreement with members who wanted alternative theories to evolution to be put of an equal footing with Darwin's theory.

In January, Ohio became the latest battleground in the debate over what high school biology students should know about evolution.

Supporters of intelligent design included some conservative groups that had tried and failed to get biblical creation taught in public schools. Critics of intelligent design said it is creationism in disguise.

Ohio schools to teach evolution 'controversy'

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20021017-92467660.htm

The Washington Times
www.washtimes.com

Larry Witham
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Published 10/17/2002

The Ohio Board of Education has broadened the definition of "science" to allow instructors to "teach the controversy" of evolution. After a year of debate on whether new science standards should mandate teaching of "intelligent design" and criticism of Darwinian evolution, the 17-member school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt two compromise statements.

The new language does not limit life sciences to materialism, which some consider a kind of atheism, and says students must learn how scientists "critically analyze" Darwinism and not just accept it dogmatically.

Ohioans who support evolutionary theory say that they won the debate because the standards are the strongest the state has had, while backers of intelligent design assert victory because students will learn criticism of Charles Darwin's theory. "The standards are tremendous, and they don't open the door to intelligent design," said Patricia Princehouse, a Case Western Reserve University professor with Ohio Citizens for Science, an anti-creationism group.

She said creationists also lost on other demands, such as teaching that the earth is several thousand years old, in accord with the account in Genesis. Robert Lattimer, a member of the standards writing team who is also with Science Excellence for All Ohioans, a group criticizing Darwinism, said students will now hear the weaknesses of the evolutionary theory.

"A large majority of Ohioans favors the 'teach-the-controversy' approach," said Mr. Lattimer, a chemist who argues that intelligent design is a scientific theory. The two-part change, he said, "acknowledges a growing number of credentialed scientists, including over 50 from Ohio, who endorse" students learning about problems with Darwin's theory.

Many states have debated how to handle evolution as they upgrade science standards, but only Ohio had a serious debate on including "intelligent design," the idea that nature features design, not just random evolution.

In the first of the two changes, the definition of science has been broadened to "a systematic method of continuing investigation" of nature. It replaced the previous contention that science is limited to "natural explanations," which, according to some, rules out any concept of a Creator. Ms. Princehouse said the change is "innocuous." But Mr. Lattimer said it allows students to consider that a higher force can be part of how science interprets the world.

The second statement requires that teachers "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The decision by a five-member standards committee followed a year of hearings and public opinion polls indicating that Ohioans liked the idea of "teaching the controversy."

The entire board unanimously approved the alterations on Tuesday. Ohio school districts are not required to teach the state science standards. But assessments of district achievement and a graduation test for high school seniors are based on the standards. Earlier this year, the board was told by Ohio's congressmen that the standards should reflect the evolution-instruction language in President Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act," a federal law that funds state education.

The act says, "Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist [and] why such topics may generate controversy." The standards face one more public hearing next month.

The Ohio superintendent of schools must present them to education panels in the state legislature, where bills have been drafted to mandate criticism of evolution in science classes if the standards did not make that a requirement.

The final vote on the standards will be held in December, after which Ohio must design a science curriculum and assessment tests based on the standards.

Copyright © 2002 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.


Thursday, October 17, 2002

Phony Science

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/13/magazine/13QUESTIONS.html?pagewanted=print&

October 13, 2002

Interview by WILLIAM SPEED WEED

Q:  Within 24 hours, you, a theoretical physicist, won your MacArthur grant and a panel of experts announced that another physicist, J. Hendrik Schön, had committed fraud at Bell Labs. Do you see any cosmic connection between the two events?

My only cosmic comment is that such accidental conjunctions are the basis for all superstitions. You want to know conjunctions? That day was also my sister's birthday.

Had you been following Schön's case?

I went to look up the review committee's report. That was one of the things I read that day rather than all the reports about myself. I had been waiting for this finding for months. It's like when you go to the circus and everybody's watching the guy on the high wire. You don't want him to fall, but if he does fall, you want to be there to see it.

How did Schön get away with his phony experiments?

He didn't. That's a very easy answer. The question you meant to ask was, ''What was he thinking?'' In this, I'm the scientist; I'm interested in knowing the mentality. It must have been a habit or an addictive rush for him. Here was an obviously smart guy. You don't get in to work with those materials unless you are already the creme de la creme. There had to be a screw loose there.

Southwest Alaskans see bird they say is Super Cub-sized

http://www.adn.com/front/story/1962481p-2066841c.html

Skeptical biologists say people are probably reporting a Steller's sea eagle Steller's sea eagle

By Peter Porco Anchorage Daily News
(Published: October 15, 2002)

A giant winged creature, like something out of Jurassic Park, has reportedly been sighted several times in Southwest Alaska in recent weeks.

Villagers in Togiak and Manokotak say they have seen a huge bird that's much bigger than anything they have seen before.

A Dillingham pilot says he spotted the creature while flying passengers to Manokotak last week. He calculated that its wingspan matched the length of a wing on his Cessna 207. That's about 14 feet. Other people have put the wingspan in a similar range.

Scientists aren't sure what to make of the reports. No one doubts that people in the region west of Dillingham have seen a very large raptorlike bird. But biologists and other people familiar with big Alaska birds say they're skeptical it's that big.

A recent sighting of the mystery bird occurred last Thursday morning when Moses Coupchiak, a 43-year-old heavy equipment operator from Togiak, 40 miles west of Manokotak, saw the bird flying toward him from about two miles away as he worked his tractor.

"At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes," Coupchiak said. "Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that's when I noticed it wasn't a plane."

The bird was "something huge," he said. "The wing looks a little wider than the Otter's, maybe as long as the Otter plane."

The bird flew behind a hill and disappeared. Coupchiak got on the radio and warned people in Togiak to tell their children to stay away.

Pilot John Bouker said he was highly skeptical of reports of "this great big eagle" that is two or three times the size of a bald eagle. "I didn't put any thought into it."

But early this week while flying into Manokotak, Bouker, owner of Bristol Bay Air Service, looked out his left window and 1,000 feet away, "there's this big . . . bird," he said.

"The people in the plane all saw him," Bouker said. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out."

To Nicolai Alakayak, a freight and passenger driver from Manokotak who was flying with Bouker, said the creature looked like an eagle and was as large as "a little Super Cub."

Comparison to an eagle, certainly. Super Cub? Probably not, scientists said.

"I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," said federal raptor specialist Phil Schemf in Juneau.

Schemf, other biologists, a village police officer and teachers at the Manokotak School said the sightings could be of a Steller's sea eagle, a species native to northeast Asia and one of the world's largest eagles. It's about 50 percent bigger than a bald eagle. The Steller's eagle has occasionally shown up in the Pribilof Islands, on the Aleutian chain and on Kodiak. A bird known to be a Steller's sea eagle has been spotted three times since May and in August of last year, 40 miles up the Nushagak River from Dillingham, according to Rob MacDonald of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Another Steller's eagle took up residence on the Taku River south of Juneau for 10 summers starting in the late 1980s, Schemf said.

The fish-eating Steller's sea eagle can weigh 20 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 8 feet. It has a distinctive and impressive appearance, Schemf said, with a pronounced yellow beak, a black or dark brown body and large white shoulder patches. "It's hard to mistake it for something else," he said. It's clearly an eagle, though more "like a giant bald eagle."

People who observe animals "don't always have the sizes right, but this is very different because the people in that area know what eagles look like," said Karen Laing, also a federal biologist.

"I don't know of any bird that's three times the size of an eagle," Laing said. "What would that be? An ostrich? What bird occurs here that would possibly be three times the size of an eagle or the size of a Super Cub?"

Reporter Peter Porco can be reached at pporco@adn.com and at 907 257-4582.

Giant bird spotted in Alaska

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_690946.html

A giant bird with a reported wingspan of about 14ft has been sighted in Southwest Alaska.

Villagers in Togiak and Manokotak say they have seen a huge bird much bigger than anything they have seen before.

The Anchorage Daily News says a pilot taking passengers to Manokotak last week said he saw the creature.

Scientists aren't sure what to make of the reports of the large raptor-like bird, but biologists familiar with big birds in Alaska say they're sceptical it's that big.

"I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," said federal raptor specialist Phil Schemf.

Schemf, other biologists, a village police officer and teachers at the Manokotak School say the sightings could be of a Steller's sea eagle, a species native to northeast Asia and one of the world's largest eagles. It's about 50% bigger than a bald eagle.

Story filed: 12:22 Wednesday 16th October 2002

A reassessment of human cranial plasticity: Boas revisited

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/222389599v1?ijkey=f3uGSmr3wB0r

Published online before print October 8, 2002
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.222389599

Anthropology

Corey S. Sparks * and Richard L. Jantz

*Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 409 Carpenter Building, University Park, PA 16802; and
Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996

Edited by Henry C. Harpending, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, and approved August 30, 2002 (received for review July 1, 2002)

In 1912, Franz Boas published a study demonstrating the plastic nature of the human body in response to changes in the environment. The results of this study have been cited for the past 90 years as evidence of cranial plasticity. These findings, however, have never been critiqued thoroughly for their statistical and biological validity. This study presents a reassessment of Boas' data within a modern statistical and quantitative genetic framework. The data used here consist of head and face measurements on over 8,000 individuals of various European ethnic groups. By using pedigree information contained in Boas' data, narrow sense heritabilities are estimated by the method of maximum likelihood. In addition, a series of t tests and regression analyses are performed to determine the statistical validity of Boas' original findings on differentiation between American and European-born children and the prolonged effect of the environment on cranial form. Results indicate the relatively high genetic component of the head and face diameters despite the environmental differences during development. Results point to very small and insignificant differences between European- and American-born offspring, and no effect of exposure to the American environment on the cranial index in children. These results contradict Boas' original findings and demonstrate that they may no longer be used to support arguments of plasticity in cranial morphology.

NASA Data Confirms Natural Cycle of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam.

http://www.motherofjustice.com/

Next Phase in This Cycle is Imminent.

A naturally occurring cyclic process is revealed here that coincides with the start of all our World Wars, and most conflicts of world magnitude in the twentieth century.

A direct link to NASA's Horizons system, allowing you to generate samples of this data, is provided on later pages at this site.

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 – October 17, 2002

FEELING GRAVITY'S PULL: BERKELEY SCIENTISTS AMASS PROOF OF BLACK HOLE AT GALAXY'S CENTER
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Charles Townes, the UC Berkeley Nobel Prize physicist, was flying at 41,000 feet aboard a NASA plane 20 years ago, on the hunt for evidence that a monstrously powerful black hole was lurking in the heart of the Milky Way galaxy.

With him on those flights was his German postdoctoral student, Reinhard Genzel, and a team of other scientists trying to discover whether the invisible object was gulping entire stars and cosmic gases under the tug of its own irresistible gravity.

If that "supermassive" black hole did exist, Townes and Genzel knew, it would provide an extraordinary opportunity to study the dynamics of gravitational forces and the behavior of matter under those immense pressures, and could also help clarify many aspects of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Today, Genzel, together with more than 20 other astronomers and physicists, are reporting they have finally found the strongest evidence yet that indeed a dense black hole, more than 3 million times as massive as our sun, does exist at the center of the Milky Way.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/10/17/MN209397.DTL

NASA'S STARDUST SPACECRAFT TO FLY PAST ASTEROID ON PRACTICE RUN
from The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- A NASA spacecraft will swoop within 1,900 miles of a small asteroid next month in a practice run before an even closer brush with a comet scheduled for January 2004.

The Stardust spacecraft is on track to fly past the asteroid Annefrank on Nov. 1. The robotic probe will snap pictures of the 2.5 mile-wide space rock as it speeds by at a relative speed of 15,660 mph.

The flyby will allow flight controllers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to hone their skills needed for the later encounter with the comet Wild-2. Stardust will fly within 100 miles of the comet's nucleus on Jan. 2, 2004.

During that flyby, scientists hope to collect samples of the dust streaming off the comet. The spacecraft will return to Earth in 2006 to drop off the samples in a parachute-equipped capsule.

2 STUDIES ON CANCER CHALLENGE MASTECTOMY
from The Chicago Tribune

Removing a small portion of breast tissue is just as effective as removing the entire breast in saving lives of women with breast cancer, according to two studies published Thursday.

Several leading breast surgeons said the reports, which tracked 2,552 women for 20 years, strengthens what many scientists had long been saying: Mastectomies are not required in the vast majority of cases of breast cancer.

Smaller operations, such as lumpectomies, which remove only the cancer and surrounding tissue, are just as effective at stopping deaths and the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

"These papers . . . show you can do a little operation, save the breast and the end result in terms of living and dying is the same," said Dr. Melvin Silverstein, professor of surgery at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and director of the breast center at the school's Norris Cancer Center.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0210170290oct17.story

A CHIP OF RUBBER WITH TINY RIVERS RUNNING THROUGH IT
from The New York Times

THESE are not your typical circuits. Pressurized fluids, not electrons, run through them; the pathways are made of rubbery silicone, not rigid silicon; and the on-off controls are valves, not logic gates.

These fluid-routing circuits are the building blocks for a new breed of microchips based on the fledgling technology known as microfluidics - the manipulation of minute quantities of fluids in tiny channels, and all the minuscule plumbing it takes to do that.

Created by a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and his associates, the microchips have passages the width of a human hair. The silicone pathways are honeycombed with individual chambers, each about the size of a few human cells, within which chemical reactions can take place.

Thousands of minute micromechanical valves and many hundreds of chambers can be integrated on a single one-inch microchip. Separate operations like mixing or purging can be controlled in the tiny chambers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/17/technology/circuits/17next.html

STEP-BY-STEP PROMPTS PUT THE BLIND ON TRACK
from The New York Times

AN interactive personal navigation system developed at the University of Florida could someday guide blind people through corridors and along busy city sidewalks.

The system combines off-the-shelf hardware, software and a voice-controlled interface of the students' own design. It communicates wirelessly with widely available but little-known databases of detailed geographic information that can quickly be updated to reflect changing conditions.

The project began as a master's thesis project for Steve Moore when he was a computer science student at the university's Gainesville campus.

When the user gives voice commands to ask for directions, the system responds with verbal instructions, giving distances in feet and providing corrective guidance along the way.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/17/technology/circuits/17blin.html

MEASURING A STORM'S INTENSITY
from The Christian Science Monitor

Hurricane Lili, which hit the Louisiana coast earlier this month, was the kind of storm that gives forecasters sleepless nights long after the winds have died down.

Forecasts of the storm's track were right on the money. But no one predicted that Lili would jump from a minimal hurricane just south of Cuba's western tip to a roaring storm 24 hours later, bearing down on the Gulf Coast with maximum sustained winds nudging 140 miles an hour. Nor could forecasters give a heads-up that the storm's fiercest sustained winds would quickly drop to less than 110 miles an hour just before Lili struck the coast.

Now, scientists are poring through data from a unique set of experiments on Tropical Storm Isadore and Hurricane Lili that could help sharpen storm- intensity forecasts.

The work is focused on increasingly subtle interactions between the ocean, the storm, and high-altitude weather features that may appear 1,000 miles or more away from the storm's core.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1017/p14s01-stss.html

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Scientists Give the Lie to Polygraph Testing

Security: The tool has failed to ferret out spies and other threats, an expert panel concludes.
By CHARLES PILLER
TIMES STAFF WRITER

October 9 2002

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-polygraph9oct09.story

Polygraph testing for national security screening is little more than junk science, with results so inaccurate that they tend to be counterproductive, according to a long-awaited report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences.

The nation's premier scientific organization said such tests, a key counterespionage tool for 50 years, promote false confidence that spies and other national security threats have been ferreted out.

Produced by experts in psychology, engineering, law and other fields, the report confirms long-standing doubts about the validity of polygraph testing that led to a 1988 federal law banning the use of such tests for employment screening in most private businesses.

Polygraph results are also inadmissible as evidence in nearly all state courts, with federal courts leaving the decision up to the judges.

"If logic has anything to do with it, then the report will have a major policy impact," said Steven Aftergood, an intelligence analyst with the Federation of American Scientists.

"I don't think federal agencies stop and ask themselves how many spies have we caught with this—because the answer is 'none'—or how many people have been unfairly denied employment, because the answer is 'many.' "

No Link Between Deodorant, Cancer

October 16, 2002

Associated Press

http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC000/333/333/356742.html

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new study, prompted by an urban myth spread on the Internet, shows there is no evidence that antiperspirants or deodorants can cause breast cancer.

The study, appearing this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, examined the personal hygiene habits of 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease and found no link between cancer and body odor control cosmetics.

"Antiperspirant and deodorant use did not differ whether or not a participant (in the study) had breast cancer," said Dana K. Mirick, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. This indicates, she said, that use of the personal products does not cause the disease.

Mirick, first author of the study, said that the data was collected starting in 1992 as part of a larger study testing if other common exposures might be factors in breast cancer.

"About that time, these rumors (about antiperspirants and cancer) started to pop up on the Internet," said Mirick. "So we threw in these additional questions."

Other results from the large study were published earlier, but nothing was done about the antiperspirant question until Mirick and her co-authors realized that women were still concerned about the issue, even 10 years after it was first raised on the Internet. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute were so concerned that both put out notices on the Internet stating there was no evidence linking the personal products with cancer.

"On the main Fred Hutchinson line they still occasionally get phone calls from women who are concerned about this," said Mirick. "Even though no researchers believed there was a connection, there were no published studies on it."

Since they had the data, she and her co-authors decided to write up a paper and, perhaps, lay to rest a persistent myth.

"It is important for people to have correct information ... that can eliminate fear about a deadly disease from an exposure that is quite common," said Mirick. "These myths induced fear because this is a product that almost everybody uses."

Mirick said the original rumor started more than 10 years ago, probably from a widely distributed, anonymous e-mail.

She looked for a Web site that carried the myth, but found nothing.

"I don't know if there was ever a Web site, or if it just came from a round robin E-mail," said Mirick. "But I do know the question was raised before 1992. ... People were concerned."

Critical Eye on the Discovery Science Channel

I want to draw your attention to a new show to premiere soon on the Discovery Science Channel. The show is called "Critical Eye" and it was produced in cooperation with CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Many of you have already seen the 3-4 minutes shorts currently being run on Discovery Science, which are titled "Skeptical Inquirer." The new show is modeled upon these shorts, but will be an hour long and examine several topics within each episode.

CSICOP did not have final script approval, but we did contribute a great deal of time to them, as well as most of the skeptical guests presented. We have high hopes for the final product, which is still being worked upon. It think it pretty safe to say that the skeptical point of view will be very well represented. William B. Davis (The X-Files-smoking man), will be the series host. He is a longtime reader and supporter of the Skeptical Inquirer and had been instrumental in keeping the show true to its mission.

I hope you can mark the airdates on your schedule, and then let us know your thoughts.

Barry Karr
CSICOP/Skeptical Inquirer

Critical Eye

This series hosted by William B. Davis (The X-Files-smoking man), looks into the science behind the paranormal, new age philosophies, and the unexplained.

The series will investigate 34 topics including, subliminal messaging, alien abduction, acupuncture, ghosts, astrology, exorcism, Stonehenge, near-death experiences, and the lost city of Atlantis. Each topic will be addressed by leading experts and scientists. These subjects will be brought to life through lively debate and extraordinary visuals in order to shed light on its scientific relevance.

Critical Eye will premiere on Monday Oct 28 at 8pm/ET. A second hour of the series will also air on 10/28 at 9pm. Please see schedule below for more details. http://science.discovery.com/tuneins/criticaleye.html

10/28 (8pm) - Mind Games
10/28 (9pm) - Dark Side (repeats Thu 10/31 at 10pm)
11/4 (8pm) - Alternative Medicine
11/11 (8pm) - Legendary Myths
11/18 (8pm) - Fortelling the Future
11/25 (8pm) - Mystical Wonders
12/2 (8pm) - Death Zone

A super-sized bird in Alaska

By PETER PORCO
Anchorage Daily News
October 15, 2002

http://www.gosanangelo.com/shns/shns_story.cfm?pk=BIGBIRD-10-15-02&cat=AN

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A giant winged creature, like something out of Jurassic Park, has reportedly been sighted several times in Southwest Alaska in recent weeks.

Villagers in Togiak and Manokotak say they have seen a huge bird that's much bigger than anything they have seen before.

A pilot says he spotted the creature while flying passengers to Manokotak last week. He calculated that its wingspan matched the length of a wing on his Cessna 207. That's about 14 feet.

Other people have put the wingspan in a similar range.

Scientists aren't sure what to make of the reports. No one doubts that people in the region west of Dillingham have seen a very large rapto-like bird. But biologists and other people familiar with big Alaska birds say they're skeptical it's that big.

A recent sighting of the mystery bird occurred Oct. 10 when Moses Coupchiak, a 43-year-old heavy equipment operator from Togiak, 40 miles west of Manokotak, saw the bird flying toward him from about two miles away as he worked his tractor.

"At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes," Coupchiak said. "Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that's when I noticed it wasn't a plane."

The bird was "something huge," he said. "The wing looks a little wider than the Otter's, maybe as long as the Otter plane."

The bird flew behind a hill and disappeared. Coupchiak got on the radio and warned people in Togiak to tell their children to stay away.

Pilot John Bouker said he was highly skeptical of reports of "this great big eagle" that is two or three times the size of a bald eagle. "I didn't put any thought into it."

But early this week while flying into Manokotak, Bouker, owner of Bristol Bay Air Service, looked out his left window and 1,000 feet away, "there's this big ... . bird," he said.

"The people in the plane all saw him," Bouker said. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out."

Nicolai Alakayak, a freight and passenger driver from Manokotak who was flying with Bouker, said the creature looked like an eagle and was as large as "a little Super Cub."

Comparison to an eagle, certainly. Super Cub? Probably not, scientists said.

"I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," said federal raptor specialist Phil Schemf in Juneau.

Schemf, other biologists, a village police officer and teachers at the Manokotak School said the sightings could be of a Steller's sea eagle, a species native to northeast Asia and one of the world's largest eagles. It's about 50 percent bigger than a bald eagle.


Wednesday, October 16, 2002

AT NEWS: Houston Press on AT

AT NEWS COMMENTARY:

The Houston Press recently came out with a large article on Attachment Therapy (AT). Journalist Wendy Grossman covers a lot of ground, and though apparently no fan of AT, she attempts a balanced treatment (something skeptics now refer to as "pseudo-symmetry").

The interviews with AT proponents are quite revealing, and it's gratifying to see part of a sadistic AT training video made by Neil Feinberg in 1993 at the Attachment Center at Evergreen given some public exposure.

But Grossman's article shows that Attachment Therapists can continue to shield themselves with a winning 2-point approach:

1.) The "These-Kids-Are-Violently-Deranged" Offense

After Grossman accepted the validity of the diagnosis of "Attachment Disorder," AT proponents were allowed to do a lot of free-wheeling demonization of "AD" children. (Though validating alleged extreme behavior is quite another thing, as they are said to calculatingly save their worst behavior for their mothers alone.) The message is that we should allow these brave AT therapists and long-suffering parents a free hand in trying to save the world from more Columbines.

2.) And the "We-Don't-Do-That-Anymore" Defense Grossman let slide claims by the "Evergreen institute" (aka the Attachment Center at Evergreen) that they no longer use holding therapy and that they no longer employ holding therapist Neil Feinberg. A simple jaunt around ACE's website today reveals that a.) ACE still recommends the most overtly violent of pro-holding materials to parents, b.) that ACE's executive director serves on the board of ATTACh (the national AT/pro-holding organization), and c.) that Neil Feinberg is still listed as "PROFESSIONAL STAFF--IN HOUSE" (see: http://attachmentcenter.org/bios.htm#NeilFeinberg). Further, Grossman left unchallenged a claim by ACE's Forrest Lien that ACE hasn't done holding therapy since 1995, although the journalist was in possession of footage of an ABC 20/20 program demonstrating coercive holding at ACE -- in 1998.

http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/2002-09-19/feature.html/1/index.html

"HOLDING ON: Families search for a miracle therapy that won't hurt their troubled children"

BY WENDY GROSSMAN
Houston Press, September 19, 2002

Carol put an alarm on her daughter's door, terrified that one night Stephanie will slip out of her room and kill her while she sleeps...

SIDE BAR:
http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/2002-09-19/sidebar.html/1/index.html
"ORPHAN SOULS: Without love or trust, these children can't connect to anyone unless they get a lot of help"

BY WENDY GROSSMAN

Two or three nights a week, "Ruth" woke up with her six year old daughter, "Lisa," standing over her holding a steak knife in each hand...

[AT NEWS sends the latest news to activists and interested organizations about the many abusive, violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with the most vulunerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees.]

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Corresponding Secretary
Loveland, CO
(970)667-7313
rosa@ezlink.com

Potential Darwin Award Winner

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/news/101502_local_autoped.html

Man hit while chasing half-full beer can across freeway

Police say a man was struck by a truck after he ran across the freeway chasing a partially empty beer can.

ABC13 Eyewitness News (10/15/02) - A rush hour accident brought traffic to a halt on the Southwest Freeway. Around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, a man was struck by a black Chevy truck. The driver stopped to render aid to the victim. Police say the man who was hit was running across the freeway chasing after a partially empty can of beer.

The victim was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he is listed in critical condition. No word if the driver will face any charges.

Controversial doctor may lead FDA panel
Kentuckian's views, credentials are questioned

http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2002/10/10/ke101002s292212.htm

By Andrew Wolfson
awolfson@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

A Lexington, Ky., doctor active in anti-abortion circles -- who has written books recommending Scripture reading and prayers for such ailments as premenstrual syndrome -- is being considered to head an influential Food and Drug Administration panel on women's health policy.

But a ''quiet battle is raging'' over the Bush administration's plan to appoint Dr. W. David Hager to an 11 member Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee, according to a story this week in Time magazine.

The Time article described Hager, an obstetrician and gynecologist who is also a part-time professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, as ''scantily credentialed.''

And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said his resume ''is more impressive for theology than gynecology.''

The UK College of Medicine and the Bush administration, however, rallied to Hager's defense yesterday.

In a letter to the editor of Time, Dr. Emery A. Wilson, the medical school's dean, called Hager a ''nationally recognized'' doctor ''whose contributions to the literature and our knowledge of infectious diseases in women has been significant and respected by others in the field.''

Wilson also said Time's assertion that Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women is false.

UK gave a copy of Wilson's letter to The Courier-Journal.

Hager declined to return phone calls and referred questions to the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the FDA. Spokesman Bill Pierce said Hager is being considered because he ''highly qualified'' and ''has great experience in reproductive health.''

Pierce said Hager is a candidate for one of 11 vacant positions on the panel, which has been inactive for two years; Pierce said the chairman will be selected after all vacancies are filled. There is no timetable for doing that or for Hager's approval.

The appointments will be made by FDA officials.

Pierce said that he wasn't familiar with Hager's books -- which are written for a primarily Christian audience -- but Pierce said Hager's entire record will be reviewed extensively.

Wilson also said he hadn't read Hager's books, but he added, ''I would be surprised if David would allow personal opinion to interfere with scientific data.''

The New York Times' Dowd noted that one of Hager's works for lay readers -- ''As Jesus Cared for Women -- Restoring Women Then and Now'' -- mixes biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from his own practice.

The FDA panel will lead a study of hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, a major controversy in health care. Time said some conservatives are trying to use doubts about such therapy to discredit use of birth control pills, which contain similar compounds.

In 1996 the FDA committee made a key recommendation that led to the approval of the abortion pill, RU-486, which Hager has helped the Christian Medical Association try to reverse.

Hager, who operates one of Lexington's largest gynecological practices, has said he would not prescribe RU-486 for patients because he is ''pro-life.''

He has also condemned the birth control pill, used by an estimated 10 million American women, saying it has provided a ''convenient way for young people to be sexually active outside of marriage.''

After participating with 28 experts in an FDA review of the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases besides HIV and gonorrhea, he told the Lexington Herald-Leader that ''the only safe sex is in a mutually monogamous relationship'' that ''should be within marriage.''

Hager may be best known in Central Kentucky as chairman of a revival led by the Rev. Franklin Graham -- the Rev. Billy Graham's son -- which brought more than 22,000 to Rupp Arena two years ago.

Hager supervises UK medical residents at Central Baptist Hospital but doesn't treat patients in university clinics, said Mary Margaret Colliver, director of UK public relations.

Wilson said in his letter that Hager serves as ''a valuable teacher and consult to faculty, residents and students.''

The medical school's Web page said he has garnered national and international recognition for his work in infectious gynecological diseases and was named in the book ''Best Doctors in America'' in 1994 and 1996.

Hager has written that it is dangerous to compartmentalize life into ''categories of Christian truth and secular truth,'' but he told Dowd that ''the fact I am a person of faith does not deter me from also being a person of science.''

He is a co-author of one of the standard books in his field, the 605page ''Protocols for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology,'' in addition to his several books for lay readers.

With his wife, Linda, who studied at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, he wrote ''Stress and the Woman's Body,'' in which he explains stress-related ailments from medical points of view while she offers religious insights into the same problems along with Scriptures that stressed-out women can meditate on to relax.

''To exorcise affairs,'' the Hagers say in their book, they suggest a spiritual exercise, Dowd said in her column.

''Picture Jesus coming into the room. He walks over to you and folds you gently into his arms. He tousles your hair and kisses you gently on the cheek. . . . Let this love begin to heal you from the inside out.''

Wilson said in an interview that Hager's scientific articles are of high caliber.

''He has opinions on other issues that may be at odds with what some people think,'' Wilson said. ''But he has the academic freedom to offer those opinions.''

A Scientific Look at Alternative Medicine

http://www.biochemistry.louisville.edu/grad/alternative_med/Syllabus.htm

Dr. Thomas J. Wheeler, Ph.D.

Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

University of Louisville School of Medicine

Note: All items are directly accessible from University of Louisville computers. Users at other locations will not be able to access some journal articles without a personal or institutional subscription.

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 – October 16, 2002

RESEARCH INSTITUTES UNVEIL PLANS FOR FORT DETRICK LAB EXPANSION
from The Baltimore Sun

FREDERICK - Two of the nation's top military and civilian medical research institutes unveiled plans yesterday to work together on a huge expansion of high-security laboratories at Fort Detrick to devise better defenses against bioterrorism and emerging diseases.

The first stage will be construction, beginning in 2004, of a $105 million laboratory equipped to handle the deadliest organisms in existence, including the Ebola virus.

The so-called Biosafety Level 4 lab will be operated by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, whose main campus is at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

After the NIAID lab is built, officials plan to seek roughly $1 billion to build new laboratories for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the top military biodefense center.

http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal-te.detrick16oct16.story

RESEARCHERS DESCRIBE HOW POTATO POWDER INSTANTLY CLOTS BLOOD
from UPI

ORLANDO, Fla. - A powder made from potatoes can clot blood instantly and could prove useful in surgeries and on the battlefield for stopping life- threatening bleeding, researchers reported Tuesday.

The powder, made of purified potato starch, essentially "acts like a sponge and soaks up the water in the blood, concentrating coagulation factors," Mark Ereth, an associate professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and principal investigator of the study, told United Press International.

The study, presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting, described how Ereth's team made small lacerations on the arms of 30 volunteers and found the powder plus pressure on the wound reduced clotting time by 5 minutes compared with pressure alone.

"That's a substantial reduction" and could mean the difference between life and death for someone with a massive injury such as a gunshot wound or something that may occur in combat, Ereth said.

http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/578289p-4516533c.html

WASPS A GYPSY MOTH SOLUTION, OR DID TOWN GET STUNG?
from The Chicago Tribune

In a laboratory in California, entomologists are trying to identify a tiny wasp that doesn't sting but has stirred up a hornet's nest for agriculture officials in Illinois.

Thousands of the wasps were released into the environment last month by Crystal Lake park officials, who ordered them through the mail for $2,200 after hearing that they were an effective way to eradicate gypsy moths.

Now, officials in the McHenry County suburb aren't quite sure what they set free, the company that provided the wasps won't say, state agriculture officials are expressing skepticism that any bug can do the job--and it will be months before anybody knows for sure what the pepper-flake-size insects have been up to.

As questions buzz over the mystery, the release of the wasps highlights a growing frustration as gypsy moths inexorably chew their way across the state.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0210160277oct16.story

PROSTATE TESTS COULD BECOME SIMPLER
from The Washington Post

Researchers have found that a simple blood test can effectively screen for prostate cancer in its earliest stages, offering what may become a more reliable substitute for the popular PSA test, long considered an imperfect tool for detecting the disease.

In a study being published today, scientists found that a screening method pioneered by Bethesda biotechnology firm Correlogic Systems Inc. can accurately distinguish between blood samples from men with prostate cancer and those without it. The test, already used to screen for ovarian cancer, recognizes patterns of proteins in the blood rather than identifying a single protein, as the PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test, does.

That innovation -- searching for the interplay of many proteins rather than the presence of one -- is a leap that may result in more dependable screening data for prostate cancer and fewer invasive biopsies performed each year to diagnose it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32141-2002Oct15.html

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Iranian cleric denounces dog owners

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2326357.stm

A conservative Iranian cleric has denounced the "moral depravity" of owning a dog, and called for the arrest of all dogs and their owners. Dogs are considered unclean in Islamic law and the spread of dog ownership in Westernised secular circles in Iran is frowned upon by the religious establishment.

"I demand the judiciary arrest all dogs with long, medium or short legs - together with their long-legged owners," Hojatolislam Hassani is quoted as saying in the reformist Etemad newspaper.

"Otherwise I'll do it myself," said the outspoken cleric, who leads Friday prayers in the north-western city of Urumiyeh.

"In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption," he said.

Canine clampdown

Tehran journalist Mafiseh Kouhnavand told the BBC that the subject of dog ownership had been brought up many times before.

Hardline judiciary agents and police occasionally clamp down on the practice, fining owners and confiscating their pets from streets and parks.

In June, police banned the sale of dogs and penalised anyone walking a dog in public. The practice is seen by conservatives as a corrupting influence of decadent Western culture.

But despite the clampdowns, dog ownership has been on the rise, especially among rich Iranians in the north of Tehran.

"Now it has reached Urumiyeh, but some people were not ready for it," Ms Kouhnavand said.

Hojatolislam Hassani appears to be widening the scope of his anti-canine campaign.

Last year, he publicly thanked police for their policy of exclusively confiscating short-legged dogs in Urumiyeh.

T-U's handling of ghost article haunts local group

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/101302/opc_10674971.shtml

The Jacksonville Amateur Ghosthunting Society and Times-Union editors have differences over the way a ghost hunting story was reported.

The ghost hunters turned over research on paranormal activity in Jacksonville and expected the news staff to check it before publication.

Editors, aware of the serious nature of the ghost hunters, didn't feel the need to check everything.

The result was publication of an urban legend and other material that the ghost hunters did not approve. The group seeks to maintain "the highest respect for privacy and legitimacy," said President Jodi Battin.

As the headline indicated -- "Ghost hunters rely on science" -- the story in Sept. 21 community sections took the ghost hunters seriously. Also included was a map of local residences and office buildings where paranormal activity has been reported.

However, some of the locations identified in the map had not been investigated by the ghost hunting society, Battin said. She turned over three years of research to the news staff. She expected these incidents would be confirmed and permission obtained from property owners before the Times-Union published reports of hauntings.

For instance, the Times-Union map referred to Riverside Baptist Church, where an organist supposedly died during a service in the mid-1970s. That story was based on a single e-mail reporting a rumor, Battin said. It never happened, the Rev. Lynn Heyder, an associate minister there, said in a telephone interview.

Battin also was concerned about publishing the address of a duplex residence without obtaining permission from the owners.

"Printing unfounded rumors and the addresses of private residences is irresponsible in the extreme," she wrote. "We neither condone or encourage what was done. We would like the citizens who approach us to know that their privacy will be held to the highest standard, and we apologize for our naivete in sharing our information. We value the Times-Union as a partner in keeping the fascinating haunted history of Jacksonville alive. We only hope that the editors regret this incident as greatly as we do."

Times-Union editors have a different understanding.

David C.L. Bauer, assistant metro editor, responded that Battin should have known that the information she provided was likely to be used in print. She also was told in advance about the map.

"There were no promises or discussions in regard to seeking permission from landowners with either the reporter or the editor," Bauer said.

Also, editors did not see the need to verify the information since sources were clearly identified, many of the sightings had been publicized and the ghost hunting society has established itself as the most recognizable source for reporting paranormal activity, Bauer said.

The staff had not intended to list a private residence, and had deleted several from an earlier list obtained from the ghost hunter society, he said.

My comments: It was a red flag when the Times-Union mentioned incidents that the ghost hunting society did not include on its Web site. Though some ghost stories can't be verified, some facts can be checked. Since three months were spent on this project, it would have helped to do more reporting and not rely so heavily on one source. More reporting would have added color to the story and would have alerted the staff to several pitfalls.

Ghostbuster snares clients on Net

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/10/13/BU98579.DTL

David Lazarus

Mark Boccuzzi, a San Rafael Web designer, has finally hit on a dot-com venture that works. With no marketing or advertising, he gets several requests online every day from potential clients seeking his services.

There's just two problems:

He works for free.

And Boccuzzi, along with his partners, a Muni employee and a technician, is a ghost hunter.

Make that three problems: The trio have yet to actually catch a ghost.

"We've been at it for two years now and haven't come across anything we can't explain," Boccuzzi said as we chatted in his apartment, where, when not designing Web sites for small businesses, he coordinates the activities of Bay Area Paranormal Investigations.

"I'm a hopeful skeptic," he said. "I want to believe there's something more to our existence than just flesh and death."

Bay Area Paranormal Investigations was born when Boccuzzi met Tina McGarty and Scott Mosbaugh, who shared his lifelong fascination with the supernatural.

When not living an "X-File," McGarty works as secretary for a senior Muni official. Mosbaugh provides technical support for a Hayward company that makes weather instruments.

The three recently completed an investigation into eerie doings at a South Bay home. A woman -- client specifics are kept confidential -- had complained of hearing voices and seeing odd things. She sent in photos showing inexplicable mists and orbs. Her dog was acting strangely.

"The woman seemed credible," Boccuzzi said. "She had a decent position in a fairly large company. She was scared."

The ghost hunters at Bay Area Paranormal Investigations look into every claim that's sent their way, but only a small fraction actually lead to on- site examinations.

In the case of the supposed South Bay haunting, Boccuzzi, McGarty and Mosbaugh first met with the woman and a friend who also claimed to have witnessed the occurrences. Satisfied that something unusual was indeed transpiring, the team then arranged for a visit to the house.

This is always the tricky part. Boccuzzi freely admits that there's a danger in entering the home of a stranger, and not from otherworldly beings.

"Dude," he told me, "I'm going into somebody's house I met on the Internet. Who says they have a ghost."

To ensure the safety of all concerned, McGarty remained elsewhere, checking in regularly via cell phone. Boccuzzi and Mosbaugh brought along two other ghost-hunting friends to assist the investigation.

If all this sounds a bit like a "Scooby-Doo" episode, well, the ghost hunters are the first to acknowledge that they're in it first and foremost for a sense of fun and adventure.

They arrived in the South Bay with their cases of gadgets -- infrared video cameras, tape recorders, electromagnetic gauges. They went from room to room shooting photos. They poked around until 11 p.m. (ghosts, of course, being mainly nocturnal creatures).

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to capture anything," Boccuzzi said, the frustration evident on his face.

The ghost hunters followed up with a report for the client about their methodology and findings (or lack thereof) and awaited word of subsequent apparitions. So far, nothing.

A past investigation, for what it's worth, determined that a sound the client had interpreted as spectral children running the length of her mobile home was in fact a family of squirrels living beneath the floor.

So why don't the members of Bay Area Paranormal Investigations charge for their time and efforts? The cost of film and batteries alone for each on-site study run into the hundreds of dollars.

"It's still a hobby," McGarty told me by phone. "I don't feel comfortable charging $500 or $600 to say that I don't understand why something is happening."

For his part, Mosbaugh said the group will probably begin billing clients "when we actually get to the level of proving stuff."

Needless to say, all three believe it's just a matter of time before they capture an honest-to-goodness spook on film or tape. "Most definitely there are ghosts out there," McGarty insisted.

To help make ends meet, though, the three may add an e-commerce dimension to their Web site (www.bayareaparanormal.com) so they can sell enough haunted- house books or videos to cover basic expenses.

Professional parapsychologists, meanwhile, dismiss the efforts of groups like Bay Area Paranormal Investigations as amateur-hour theatrics.

"You don't want to call an amateur group because most don't have the skills to deal with a situation," said Loyd Auerbach, a well-regarded (in supernatural circles) ghost chaser. He runs the Office of Paranormal Investigations in Orinda and is preparing to launch a nationwide Paranormal Research Organization for other pros.

Auerbach charges customers between $100 and $150 for each investigation. "Many people don't value what we do unless they pay for it," he observed.

The gang at Bay Area Paranormal Investigations counter that what they do is a labor of love and that they're uncomfortable seeking money from people undergoing creepy, potentially traumatic experiences.

"They're grieving, they're upset," Boccuzzi said. "I don't see how we could charge them."

As we spoke, another e-mail arrived from a potential client, a woman who said some weird images could be seen in photos from her daughter's slumber party. Would the ghost hunters like to see them?

Boccuzzi nodded to himself as he read the message.

"This is a personal quest," he said. "If I could just experience something, see something, hear something -- then I'd be happy."

Ohio Panel Gives Evolution Nod

By LIZ SIDOTI

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20021014/ap_on_re_us/evolution_debate_1

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A state school board panel Monday recommended that Ohio science classes emphasize both evolution and the debate over its validity.

The committee left it up to individual school districts to decide whether to include in the debate the concept of ``intelligent design,'' which holds that the universe is guided by a higher intelligence.

The guidelines for the science curriculum simply put into writing what many school districts already do. The current guidelines do not even mention evolution.

``What we're essentially saying here is evolution is a very strong theory, and students can learn from it by analyzing evidence as it is accumulated over time,'' said Tom McClain, a board member and co-chairman of the Ohio Board of Education's academic standards committee.

Conservative groups, some of which had tried and failed to get biblical creation taught in the public schools, had argued that students should learn about intelligent design. But critics of intelligent design said it is creationism in disguise.

On Monday, the committee unanimously forwarded a final draft without the concept in it to the full 19-member board.

Board member Michael Cochran, who had pushed for intelligent design in the standards, said, ``The amendment allows teachers and students in Ohio to understand that evolution really is a theory and that there are competing views and different interpretations. This allows them to be discussed.''

The Ohio school board will decide Tuesday whether to adopt the new standards or order that they be revised.


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