NTS LogoSkeptical News for 5 November 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Astronomers put quasars in their place

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0210/05quasars/

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY NEWS RELEASE
Posted: October 5, 2002

A team of UK astronomers, led by postgraduate student Ed Hawkins, has made a decisive step toward resolving an argument that has rumbled on in the astronomical community for decades. The scientists from the University of Nottingham have been investigating the properties of quasars and nearby galaxies. As part of this study, they have overturned previous analyses which suggested that these two classes of object are physically associated, thus confirming the alternative, more widely-held view that quasars are some of the most distant objects in the Universe.

Quasars are star-like in appearance, but seem to be flying away from Earth at velocities comparable to the speed of light. The majority of astronomers believe that this high speed is a result of the expansion of the Universe, and that the quasars are traveling so fast because they are at enormous distances. However, a vociferous minority, including such notable figures as the great astronomer Fred Hoyle, has argued forcefully that quasars are much closer by. In particular, they have pointed to apparent associations between quasars and nearby galaxies, suggesting that the quasars have somehow been ejected from these galaxies in the recent past.

One of the pieces of evidence to support this idea was the tentative discovery that quasars only seem to move away from galaxies at particular speeds: for example, a surprisingly large number of quasars seem to be moving relative to neighbouring galaxies at speeds of 59% of the speed of light. If the quasars were actually on the far side of the Universe, how would they know to move at exactly 59% of the speed of light relative to a completely unrelated foreground galaxy?

Very little progress has been made toward resolving this controversy, essentially because there just hasn't been enough data to tell whether the apparent associations between galaxies and quasars are real or just coincidences. However, this has all changed with two newly-completed huge surveys undertaken with the Anglo-Australian Telescope, one measuring the positions and velocities of 200,000 galaxies, and the other measuring the same quantities for 25,000 quasars. "These enormous new data sets offered a great opportunity to take another look at this question," said Hawkins. "To do as fair a test as possible, we discussed with the supporters of both theories what they would expect to see before we analyzed the data."

By carefully sifting through these datasets, Hawkins and collaborators found 1647 examples of quasars that appear close to galaxies, and hence might be associated. Sadly for the nearby-quasar supporters, there was no excess of quasars moving at 59% of the speed of light, or any of the other "magic speeds" that had previously been tentatively identified. Without this evidence to support an association between quasars and galaxies, the case for quasars being flung out of nearby galaxies is much weakened.

Hawkins concluded "it's a shame, as it would have been great to find that the conventional view of quasars is all wrong. However, it's also something of a relief to know that most astronomers have not been barking up completely the wrong tree for the last thirty years."

The analysis, by Ed Hawkins, Steve Maddox and Michael Merrifield, will appear in the October 11th issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

No Apollo Moon Landing? NASA Book to Combat Doubts

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=570&ncid=753&e=1&u=/nm/20021105/sc_nm/space_moon_dc By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Moon rocks weren't enough. Neither was testimony from astronauts or even photographic evidence. So NASA (news - web sites) has commissioned a mini-book to show that yes, indeed, Americans did land on the Moon.

Most humans on Earth accept that U.S. astronauts first got to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. But those who don't believe have created a sort of cottage industry of doubt, and that is what NASA wants to combat.

"I'd been concerned for some time that there was this story that's circulating about how we never landed on the Moon and we would get, periodically, calls from people about how to respond to that, especially from teachers," said Roger Launius, NASA's former chief historian.

Launius had long wanted to put together an educational aid for teachers and others who wanted to counter the doubters, and in September, NASA agreed to pay aeronautics engineer James Oberg $15,000 to write a monograph gathering up materials answering the skeptics, point by point.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has dealt with the controversy for decades, without much fanfare, but Launius said the questioning intensified in 2001 after the Fox television network aired "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?"

This program gave another voice to the doubters, whose arguments are scattered broadly over the Internet and have even spawned a backlash from scientists who view the doubters' contentions as simply ridiculous.

Those who doubt the Apollo moon landings maintained the United States lacked the technology to send humans to the Moon and was so desperate to appear to win the space race against the Soviet Union that it faked the moon mission on movie sets.

The doubters said the fake was done so poorly that there is ample evidence of fraud, including a picture of astronauts planting the American flag that allegedly shows the flag rippling in the wind. The skeptics contended there can be no breeze on the moon, so the picture must have been faked.

On its own Web page debunking the Apollo doubters -- http:/liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/news/2001/news-moonlanding.asp -- NASA agreed that there is no Earth-type breeze on the moon, and there is no atmosphere either.

DID THE FLAG WAVE IN THE WIND?

But when the astronauts struggled to plant the U.S. flag in the lunar surface, they twisted it around a bit before it stuck, and that naturally created ripples in the flag.

The ripples would have dissipated within seconds on Earth, where the atmosphere would have stopped them. But on the Moon, the rippling went unchecked, making it look as if it were being carried by the wind.

There are other sites, including www.badastronomy.com, that take aim at the substance of the doubters' claims. The site's creator, astronomer Phil Plait, was blunt in his condemnation of the doubters, whom he calls conspiracy theorists.

"The craziness involves people who think that the NASA Apollo Moon missions were faked," Plait said on the site. "There are lots of rumors spreading around about this, and rest assured they are all completely false. The claims made by these conspiracy theorists are actually all wrong, sometimes laughably so."

The controversy recently emerged from cyberspace in the person of Bart Sibrel, who has made a film questioning the Apollo Moon missions and who confronted astronaut Buzz Aldrin at a Beverly Hills hotel on Sept. 9 and demanded that Aldrin swear on a Bible that he had in fact walked on the moon.

The 72-year-old Aldrin, the second man ever to touch the lunar surface, punched the 37-year-old Sibrel in the face. Sibrel asked that assault charges be filed, but Los Angeles County prosecutors declined. A videotape of the incident showed Sibrel following Aldrin on the street with a Bible and calling him a "thief, liar and coward," one prosecutor said.

Launius, who recently moved from NASA headquarters to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, said he has no illusions about whether the upcoming monograph, which he describes as a short book, will change every doubter's mind.

"We know that there are groups of people out there, individuals out there, that you're never going to convince of something like this," Launius said. "That's not the audience.

"The audience are those who are basically coming to NASA, looking for information, and obviously they'll make up their own minds, but we'll try to put the best possible information in their hands," Launius said.

Existence of God Debate

From: Susan E English ENGLISH@uta.edu

Society members: I have just sent you information in a packet as to the Debate we are having on Nov. 11, 2002 at The University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. R. Douglas Geivett will be debating this contraversial issue at 7:30 pm in the Bluebonnet Ballroom, located in the University Center, 301 W 1st in Arlington. The event is sponsored by EX.C.E.L. Campus Activities and the Liberal Arts Constituency Council. Parking is available around the building and tickets will be sold at the door and are on sale now in the Department of Student Activities or the Mav Express Office, both located in this building. Please call us at 817-272-2963 for more information. We hope you all can come to this event. Susan English Associate Director Student Activities

Geivett's Exercise in Hyperbole

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4b.html

Review of In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Action in History (Douglas Geivett and Gary Habermas, eds., InterVarsity Press, 1997)

(1999)

Richard Carrier

Going Too Far

Douglas Geivett's basic conclusion that it is possible to use miracles as evidence for the existence of God is formally correct (as is his reversed version of the argument, which I address in my conclusion below). I have acknowledged and expanded on this in my review of Corduan and Purtill. But it simply does not work when given the actual evidence that we have. Geivett tries to defeat this problem with an unusual rhetorical tactic: constant repetition of ridiculous exaggerations. Since I will be addressing the actual evidence in my reviews of Newman and of Craig and Habermas, and have already covered the relevant historiographical issues in my review of Beckwith, and since I already agree with Geivett that the argument from miracles is at least logically sound, I will use this space here to exhibit his strange penchant for hyperbole. For there is no better sign of a man's desperate situation than a resort to a blatant overstating of his own case.

The Argument from Miracles

First, I will describe where Geivett is basically correct. Given that an event is accepted as having no explanation in natural causes, he describes the logical dilemma that arises: either there is no cause at all, or the cause is nonnatural (i.e. "supernatural"). The problem of defining "natural" is something I address in my review of Nash, but the dilemma here is linguistically correct, whatever the definition of "natural" may be. Of course, if it means what most scientists actually use the term to mean (i.e. anything that can be observed is a part of this universe and hence "natural"), then the dilemma collapses into a single option (the absence of any cause). But what Geivett has in mind is what would be better stated as follows: Given that an event is accepted as having no unintentional cause, either there is no cause at all, or the cause is intentional. This would divide all events that "merely" follow the laws of physics from all events which proceed from an intentional agent, namely humans and, in his argument, God.

Austrian witch school no Hogwarts

http://chicagotribune.com/news/showcase/sns-othernews-witches,0,6812716.story

By Susanna Loof
The Associated Press
Published October 29, 2002

KLAGENFURT, Austria -- There's no abracadabra or broom-flying at Andreas Starchel's School of Witchcraft.

Instead, there's astronomy, botany, anatomy and other scientific subjects, along with classes in oracles, tarot cards, horoscopes, dowsing and magic. Today's witchcraft, the teachers say, is just mainstream science applied in a different way.

"A witch is someone who looks holistically on life, who does life-counseling things. A witch serves to help humans," said Sonja Kulmitzer, 28, who runs the school with Starchel.

Their witches-in-training are far removed from the spell-casters of Harry Potter and Snow White, or the ghoulish decorations for sale in shops ahead of Halloween, now a popular holiday in Austria.

CSICOP In the News & NASA to Respond to Moon Landing Hoax Story

CSICOP In the News: October 2002

by Kevin Christopher, CSICOP PR Director
Contact: mail to: press@csicop.org

October has been an excellent month for CSICOP PR.

Of course, you've probably already heard about "Critical Eye," the news series on the Discovery Science Channel which debuted on Monday Oct 28 at 8pm. See http://www.csicop.org/list/listarchive/msg00377.html for more information on upcoming air dates.

We have several print and radio appearances to mention, many of them dealing with Halloween, most are listed below.

Joe Nickell will be making some notable radio and TV appearances on Halloween:

The Ricki Lake Show. Visit the Ricki Lake Show site at http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/ricki/index.htm to find the right station and time for your area.

ABC Prime Time. Joe discusses spirit communications and the Amityville Horror. (See http://abcnews.go.com/Sections/Primetime/.) Airs Halloween night, 10pm Eastern US.

The Mike Reagan Show. 9:00 pm Eastern US (See http://www.reagan.com/).

Other scheduled CSICOP Halloween radio interviews:

KRCS Rapid City, SD 9:00 CT, 10:00 EST
Benjamin Radford

KWHL Anchorage, AK 7:05 Arctic, 11:05 EST
"Family Values Morning Show"
Benjamin Radford

WXNT Indianapolis, IN 9:10 am EST
"The Morning Line"
Joe Nickell

SUMMARY OF OTHER APPEARANCES for
CSICOP In the News October 2002

PRINT:

October 2002
Coloradan, University of Colorado
"Frazier fights pseudoscience"
by Jason Smith

Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier is the subject of a feature story in his alma mater college magazine. Smith reports on his work for SI and CSICOP and the mission to combat pseudoscience and misinformation.

October 7, 2002
The Morning Call, Allentown, PA
"Ancient practice offers spiritual, psychological benefits"
by Joanna Poncavage
ARCHIVED

Poncavage discusses the revival of walking labyrinth mazes for contemplation, meditation, and prayer. Skeptical Inquirer managing editor, Benjamin Radford quoted: he notes that labyrinth walks may be relaxing and help meditation, but there's nothing mystical or supernatural at work.

October 12, 2002
wired.com, San Francisco, CA
"Nasdaq Down, Psychic Readings Up"
by Ned Randolph

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,54997,00.html

Randolph discusses the new disturbing increased trend of using tarot readers and mediums in the wake of new uncertainties in lives. Quotes CSICOP PR Director, Kevin Christopher.

October 13, 2002
Sunday Mail
Queensland, Australia
"Can this man talk to the dead?"
by Damon Johnston

http://www.thesundaymail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,5267866%255E5422,00.html

Johnston reports on John Edward's lucrative career based on people's personal loss. Quotes remarks from CFI-West Executive Director James Underdown.

October 13, 2002
News & Observer
Raleigh-Durham, NC
"Ghost busters"
By TRISH WILSON, Staff Writer

http://www.newsobserver.com/features/story/1812258p-1810917c.html

Wilson visits an allegedly haunted farmhouse in Chatham County, NC, and reports on the alleged ghostly activity observed by the owners. Quotes CSICOP fellow Robert Baker, who says "After 50 years of investigations, I haven't found anything I wouldn't attribute to natural causation."

October 13, 2002
The Observer/Guardian
London, UK
"Mediums of the masses"
by Lawrence Donegan

http://www.observer.co.uk/screen/story/0,6903,810654,00.html

Donegan looks at Miss Cleo, the Psychic Network, the rise of TV mediums, and America's gullible fascination with all things psychic. Quotes Kevin Christopher.

October 14, 2002
Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
by Jay Ingram
Article by purchase only at

http://www.thestar.com/static/archives/search.html

Ingram notes the arguments for a more rational approach the the terrorist threat in the article by Clark Chapman and Alan Harris for the Sep/Oct 2002 issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

October 14, 2002
CNNMoney
New York, NY
"Hosts little more than hoaxers?"
Reprint, London Observer

http://cnniw.yellowbrix.com/pages/cnniw/Story.nsp?story_id=33609017&ID=cnniw &scategory=Entertainment&

October 15, 2002
Florida Today
Melbourne, FL
"Shroud of Turin advocate makes his case Friday in Melbourne"
by Billy Cox

http://www.floridatoday.com/!NEWSROOM/peoplestoryA32568A.htm

Cox examines the claims of the Turin Shroud's authenticity in anticipation of a talk by Shroudie John Iannone at a local church, taking note of the various criticisms of skeptics. Cites and quotes articles by Joe Nickell (CSICOP Sr. Research Fellow) and Steven Schafersman (Rice Univerity, CSICOP Sci Consultant); quotes remarks by Schafersman and CSICOP PR Director Kevin Christopher.

October 17, 2002
Associated Press
Savannah, GA
"Ghost Hunters Seek Paranormal Proof in Savannah"

http://www.wate.com/Global/story.asp?S=976364&nav=0RYv8SlG

AP writer follows Andrew Nichols, ghost hunter from the American Institute of Parapsychology (AIP) to an allegedly haunted Georgia brewery built on the location of an 1820 hotel. Quotes Robert Baker on the pseudoscientific use of thermometers, EM meters and other gadgets to detect ghosts.

October 20, 2002
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg, FL
"Phantom or phenomenon?"
by DAVID BALLINGRUD

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/10/20/Worldandnation/Phantom_or_phenomenon.shtml

Ballingrud comes up to Buffalo to interview Paul Kurtz and Joe Nickell about the work being done at CSICOP. Reports on what transpired when he accompanied Joe Nickell on an investigation of alleged haunting at Old Fort Niagara, an old 18th century fortress guarding the Niagara River that divides New York's border with Canada. Paul Kurtz also interviewed.

October 25, 2002
Sun-News
Myrtle Beach, FL
"In search of ghosts"
by Kent Kimes

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/sunnews/4368115.htm

Kimes offers a (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek guide for would-be ghost hunters. Quotes Joe Nickell on the abject lack of evidence for such entities, but suggests that readers dispense with serious things like reason and evidence to savor the full scariness and spookiness of Halloween.

October 28, 2002
Tech Central Station
"The Limits of Rationality"
by Iain Murray

http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/defensewrapper.jsp?PID=1051-350&CID=1 051-102802B

"For all those infuriated by scientific scams, junk science and pseudoscience," writes Murray, " Skeptical Inquirer is a godsend. The magazine of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) takes a rational look at some of the sillier ideas humanity wraps in pseudo-intellectual clothing. UFOs, mysterious beast, psychics and miracles are their stock-in-trade, all investigated with close attention to detail and, often, a sense of humor. Occasionally, however, the magazine allows strict rationality to drive out other important considerations." You're too kind!

October 29, 2002
Press-Enterprise
Bloomsberg, PA
"Skeptic debunks reports"

by Peter Kendron

Kendron reports on the unexplained death of a Northumberland, PA, man that UFOlogists are attributing to alien abduction. Joe Nickell debunks.

NOTE: Interesting follow-up in the October 30, 2002 Press-Enterprise: county coroner finds that the death was caused by a cocaine overdose. Looks the nation's War on Drugs will have be taken to Mars...

October 31, 2002
Hartford-Courant
Hartford, CT
"Americans Haunted By Belief In The Paranormal"
By JOHN JURGENSEN

http://www.ctnow.com/features/lifestyle/hc-para.artoct31.story

Jurgensen interviews Joe Nickell and Paul Kurtz about America's fascination with all things paranormal.

October 31, 2002
Sacramento Bee
Sacramento, CA
"Ghosts making contact via computer? Stories abound"
By David Hoye

http://www.sacbee.com/content/business/story/5011823p-6019855c.html

Hoye examines the claim that you can contact the spirit world through electronic hardware. Quotes Joe Nickell and Kevin Christopher on the skeptical view.

October 31, 2002
Savannah Morning News
Savannah, GA
"Savannah's Unseen Inhabitants"
by Jennifer Marino

http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/103102/LOCghosts.shtml

Marino reports on Savannah new alleged status as the most haunted city in America, a certification bestowed by the American Institute of Parapsychology. Marino quotes Joe Nickell at length on the whole foolishness of the AIP and its ghost hunting shtick.

October 31, 2002
Commercial-Appeal
Memphis, TN
"A business contact to the spirit world"
by Linda Moore

http://www.gomemphis.com/mca/business/article/0,1426,MCA_440_1514139,00.html

Moore looks into the activities of a local medium's business. Quotes Kevin Christopher. Not very skeptical and Moore (or her editor) worked hard to undermine Christopher's skeptical remarks.

RADIO:

October 2, 2002 WKVL Knoxville, TN 8:30 am EST
"Walker Johnson"
Joe Nickell

October 14, 2002 WLRQ Lite Rock Melbourne, FL 7:45 am EST
"Dave and Mindy in the Morning"
Kevin Christopher

October 29, 2002 WPYX Albany, NY 9:10 am EST
"Wakin' Up with the Wolf"
Joe Nickell

October 30, 2002 WSSS Charlotte, NC 9:10 am EST
"Morning Show with Sander Walker"
Kevin Christopher

2) NASA to Respond to Moon Landing Hoax Story

NASA hires writer to debunk Apollo theory
By Ted Streuli, The Daily News Published October 31, 2002

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/report.lasso?wcd=5535

DICKINSON -- Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was harassed in Los Angeles last month by a man who claims NASA faked the six manned lunar landings.

Videographer Bart Sibrel, 37, was four years old when Aldrin walked on the moon; his own tape of the incident showed him poking Aldrin with a Bible, demanding that the 72-year-old swear he really walked on the moon. It also showed Sibrel calling Aldrin a thief, liar and coward. Aldrin punched him in the face.

The Sept. 9 incident mimicked a broader topic: Sibrel and others had their theories boosted to a new level of public awareness when the Fox television network aired its Apollo speculations nationwide two years ago. Now NASA, with the help of a local author, journalist and Mission Control veteran, is planning to land a punch of its own.

Dickinson resident James Oberg, a 22-year Mission Control veteran, is at work on a 30,000-word monograph to be published next fall. The monograph will not merely try to debunk the theories of those who claim NASA faked the six manned lunar landings, it will also examine how such theories take hold, gain popularity and spread.

See website above for continuation of this story.

Doubt and About - New CSICOP Web Feature

http://www.csicop.org/doubtandabout/harrypotter/

CSICOP is pleased to announce a new monthly column available only on the CSICOP website: www.csicop.org. Doubt and About will focus on current events from the worlds of popular culture, news and entertainment. New CSICOP Columnist Chris Mooney premieres with a look at Harry Potter and the new film to be released November 15th.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Skeptics

Why doubters should celebrate J.K. Rowling's tales of magic and wizardry.

Chris Mooney

A warning to readers: this essay reveals parts of the plot of the upcoming November 15 film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. However, if you see a black space here: spoiler! then read on, because the spoiler will be hidden, and can be revealed by use of your magic wand!) When it comes to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, it's probably fair to say that card-carrying skeptics, not all but certainly many of them, have tended to view the books with…well, skepticism. My good friend Matt Nisbet's "Generation sXeptic" column on this website, for instance, once mentioned the Harry Potter "fantasy yarns" in the same breath as the New Age self-help manual Who Moved My Cheese? The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal's Young Skeptics Program, meanwhile, emphasizes that children should learn to distinguish between "the people, places and things" within the imaginary world of Rowling's books and "those that can be found within reality." The underlying concern here seems to be that there's something amiss with our culture if even our most popular and dominant fictional narratives so heavily emphasize the supernatural. See the whole column at: http://www.csicop.org/doubtandabout/harrypotter/

Doubt and About

Doubt and About is a new monthly column written by Chris Mooney, a former CSICOP public relations director and currently a freelance journalist living in Washington, D.C. Chris grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Yale University with a degree in English in 1999. After working for CSICOP out of college and contributing an op-ed to USA Today about Halloween and Harry Houdini, he launched a freelance writing career with a cover story about the meaning of the Second Amendment for Lingua Franca magazine.

Chris then won a writing fellowship at The American Prospect magazine, and was later hired to work there as a staff writer and as online editor. Now he's pursuing a freelance journalism career and has contributed to such publications as The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Slate, Salon, The American Scholar, and The Washington Monthly.

Some of the highlights of Chris's skeptic-oriented journalism include an August 2002 column in the Washington Post Outlook section, an American Prospect article on the cloning debate, a Washington Monthly expose/essay on the National Institutes of Health's lavish federal funding of alternative medicine, and an article for Slate about a recent PBS series on Charles Darwin and evolution. To see more of Chris's articles you can visit his website here.

LINKS

http://www.prospect.org/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A1136-2002Aug9¬Found=true

http://www.prospect.org/print/V13/13/mooney-c.html

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0204.mooney.html

http://slate.msn.com/?id=115965

http://www.chriscmooney.com/

Peruvian teenagers 'possessed' by Japanese TV cartoon

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_702872.html?menu=news.quirkies

The parents of three Peruvian teenagers say their children have been possessed by a Japanese TV cartoon show.

Christian Vilchez, who's 16, and 19-year-olds Jorge Vela and Edy Frank Castillo are fans of Dragon Ball Z and never miss an episode.

But, according to their parents, since watching it last week they have gone mute, had convulsions and lost their memories.

One of the teenager's fathers told Terra Noticias Populares: "It is all Dragon Ball Z's fault. My son is numb. I beg the authorities and the church to support me."

Doctors on the town of Tarapoto have examined Edy Frank Castillo and have not yet come up with an explanation for his condition. They continue to study the cases.

One of the cartoon's characters is Babidi, a mind altering wizard who uses his powers to "bring out the evil in people's hearts and control them".

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 – November 5, 2002

GOVERNMENT LABS URGE MORE WORK ON NONLETHAL WEAPONS, CHEMICALS
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (November 4, 2002 4:16 p.m. EST) - Development of nonlethal weapons such as bad smelling chemicals to control crowds or psychological methods to calm them, energy beams to stop vehicles and underwater barrier systems should be given a high priority by the Navy and Marine Corps, the National Research Council recommended Monday.

"In particular, nonlethal weapons are an additional way to provide greater security for military bases and protect our security," said Miriam E. John of Sandia National Laboratories, chair of the committee that prepared the report.

The recommendation comes just over a week after about 120 captives died when Russian forces pumped incapacitating gas into a theater where about 40 Chechen separatists had taken more than 750 people hostage. Russian officials said the gas was not supposed to cause deaths.

The goal of nonlethal weapons is to incapacitate people or equipment while minimizing unintended fatalities and damage, the Research Council said.

ALASKA QUAKE'S RIPPLE EFFECT
Scientists Puzzled by Extent of Seismic Impact in West, on Lakes in South
from The San Francisco Chronicle

The powerful earthquake that rattled Alaska's remote interior Sunday triggered temblors in California and Montana and rippled lake waters as far away as Texas and Louisiana, scientists reported Monday.

The 7.9-magnitude quake centered 75 miles south of Fairbanks ranked ninth among the biggest quakes in U.S. history. By comparison, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which destroyed much of the city, is estimated at 7.7 in magnitude.

The epicenter of the Alaska quake was so remote, though, that only one community, the small town of Tok, saw damage, and it was limited to falling grocery shelves. Only one minor injury was reported -- a woman who broke her arm in a fall when she fled from her home.

Engineers inspected the trans-Alaska oil pipeline Monday to determine the extent of the damage. The quake ruptured support beams beneath sections of the pipeline, and officials shut it down as a precaution. But oil analysts had little concern that the shutdown would dramatically affect supplies or prices.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/11/05/MN241315.DTL

NASA'S GALILEO TO FLY PAST JUPITER MOON IN END TO SCIENCE MISSION
from The San Francisco Chronicle

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's workhorse spacecraft Galileo is making one final flyby of Jupiter's moon Amalthea in what is expected to mark the end of the science-gathering portion of its 13-year mission.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials said Galileo was on course to fly within 99 miles of Amalthea, a brilliant red, egg-shaped moon, at 10:19 p.m. PST Monday. About an hour later it was to make its closest-ever approach to Jupiter, coming within 44,500 miles of the tops of the brilliant clouds that shroud the planet.

But flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wouldn't know until sometime Tuesday how well Galileo fared.

Galileo was to use instruments to measure Amalthea's gravitational tug, which should allow scientists to calculate the moon's mass and density, providing important clues about its composition.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/11/05/state0314EST0004.DTL

THE EVE OF A NEW ERA IN PHYSICS
from Newsday

Upton -- After two years of operation, the huge Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory is providing tantalizing hints that re-creation of the hot, dense form of matter that existed in the first micro-seconds after the universe's birth is at hand.

Cautious physicists are not ready to make any definitive claims. But some involved with the collider experiments say their goal - creation of a state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma - already may have been achieved, although it will take additional experiments to prove it.

"We're not ready to raise the flag that this is it, this is the quark-gluon plasma," said Tim Hallman, spokesman for the STAR detector group, one of four collaborations of scientists taking data at the collider. Hallman said, however, there is a lot of excitement among the researchers. They have seen some phenomena that theorists had predicted would be signs of the primordial quark-gluon soup.

"All the signs point in that direction, but we are being very cautious," said William Zajc, a Columbia University physicist and spokesman for the PHENIX detector group. "We are trying to assemble the case very carefully."

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-dsspdn2992166nov05,0,2709909.story?coll=ny%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

NEW THEORY ON DINOSAURS: MULTIPLE METEORITES DID THEM IN
from The New York Times

For more than a decade, most scientists have believed that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by a single event: the crash of an immense body from outer space, its explosive force like a hundred million hydrogen bombs, igniting firestorms and shrouding the earth in a dense cloud of dust that blocked sunlight and sent worldwide temperatures plummeting.

The theory gained wide acceptance in 1991, after the discovery of a crater buried under the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. The giant gash stretched 110 miles from rim to rim, and its age was found to be 65 million years, the same time as the death of the dinosaurs.

Now, however, scientists working in Ukraine have discovered that a well- known but smaller crater, some 15 miles wide, had been inaccurately dated and is actually 65 million years old, making the blast that created it a likely contributor to the end of the dinosaurs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/05/science/life/05CRAT.html

THE IMPORTANCE OF GRANDMA
from The New York Times

Grandma, what a big and fickle metaphor you can be! For children, the name translates as "the magnificent one with presents in her suitcase who thinks I'm a genius if I put my shoes on the right feet, and who stuffs me with cookies the moment my parents' backs are turned."

In news reports, to call a woman "grandmotherly" is shorthand for "kindly, frail, harmless, keeper of the family antimacassars, and operationally past tense."

For anthropologists and ethnographers of yore, grandmothers were crones, an impediment to "real" research. The renowned ethnographer Charles William Merton Hart, who in the 1920's studied the Tiwi hunter-gatherers of Australia, described the elder females there as "a terrible nuisance" and "physically quite revolting" and in whose company he was distressed to find himself on occasion, yet whose activities did not merit recording or analyzing with anything like the attention he paid the men, the young women, even the children.

But for a growing number of evolutionary biologists and cultural anthropologists, grandmothers represent a key to understanding human prehistory, and the particulars of why we are as we are — slow to grow up and start breeding but remarkably fruitful once we get there, empathetic and generous as animals go, and family-focused to a degree hardly seen elsewhere in the primate order.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/05/health/aging/05GRAN.html

X DOESN'T MARK THE SPOT
Commentary from Phil Plait of The Boston Globe

When the e-mail came, I had been expecting it for weeks.

The e-mail's author said her brother had heard that a rogue planet called ''Planet X'' was going to pass by the Earth in May of 2003. When it did, it would cause massive damage: floods, volcanoes, death on a global scale. Her brother was so worried that he was planning on putting his house in coastal Maine up for sale. He didn't want to be anywhere near the ocean come May, when the Earth's axis shifted due to the gravity of Planet X.

Sighing, I composed a reply. There was nothing to fear, I wrote. Planet X is just another in a long line of mythical astronomical death sentences that somehow always fail to materialize. The month of May will come and go next year, I wrote, just as it always has, and Planet X will be relegated to the junk pile along with countless other breathlessly prophesized deadlines.

That was the first Planet X e-mail I received, but I've answered dozens more since. It's part of my job. I'm an astronomer.

Years ago I was training as a scientist, well on my way to becoming a rank- and-file researcher with a middling-to-fair career. But over time I realized that a lot of people had some pretty basic misconceptions about astronomy. I started to write about them, putting them up on my Web site.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/309/science/X_doesn_t_mark_the_spot+.shtml

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The Intelligent Design Debate at Hillsdale College

http://www.hillsdale.edu/cca/2002/IntelligentDesign/default.htm

November 10th-13th

Hillsdale, Michigan

Is design detectable? Is there design in nature? Should scientists be allowed to even ask these questions? At this conference, ID proponents Michael Behe, William Dembski & Jonathan Wells will defend the right to investigate the question of intelligent design. Darwinists Niles Eldredge, Michael Ruse, Mano Singham & Larry Arnhart will argue to the contrary.

Presented by Hillsdale's Center for Constructive Alternatives. E-Mail or call 517-607-2507 to register.


Monday, November 04, 2002

Textbooks in Texas

From: The Textbook League ttl@textbookleague.org

The Texas Freedom Network (http://www.tfn.org), based in Austin, is circulating an "Action Alert" about Texas's current adoption of schoolbooks in history and social studies. I haven't verified any of TFN's statements. Here are some excerpts from the "Action Alert."

Bill Bennetta

[EXCERPTS]

Texas textbook publishers have made public the changes they agreed to make to Social Studies texts in response to comments during this year's public hearing process.

Changes made at the request of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy members, for example, will delete passages that describe Islam positively, eliminate scientific dates so as not to conflict with Biblical timelines, delete sections on other cultures, and eliminate critical thinking exercises that discuss social issues. . . .

****************************************************
LIST OF CHANGES PUBLISHERS AGREED TO MAKE….

PROMOTE CHRISTIANITY:
* Publisher agreed to CHANGE any references to events "millions of years ago" to instead read "in the distant past" or "over time" so as not to have ancient geological events predate Biblical timelines. (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)

* Publisher agreed to "eliminate the references to fossil fuels being formed millions of years ago" so as not to conflict with Biblical timelines. (Harcourt response to Margie Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)

* Publisher agreed to ADD "information about the resurrection of Jesus...[as well as] Christianity's appeal." (Prentice Hall response to Becky Armstrong, Eagle Forum, 8/7/02)

* Publisher agreed to ADD text reading "Locke believed that God created people who all, equally, had certain rights. To deny people these rights would be going against God....Thomas Jefferson added these ideas to the Declaration of Independence." (Macmillan/McGraw-Hill response to Carl Schlaepfer, 9/11/02) . . . .

CENSOR SCIENCE:
* Publisher agreed to DELETE "entire box called 'Changing the Earth's Environment' " because critic objected to the discussion of global warming as a fact. (Prentice Hall response to Margie Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)

* Publisher agreed to DELETE sentence reading "Acid rain that is produced in the United States and carried north by wind is a major environmental problem for Canada." because critic objected to the negative impact of acid rain being stated as a fact, and to the implication that America was responsible. (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)

* Publisher agreed to CHANGE sentence from "Acid rain damages trees and harms rivers and lakes" to instead read "Many scientists believe that acid rain harms trees, rivers and lakes." (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02) . . . .

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 – November 4, 2002

CLIMATE TALKS SHIFT FOCUS TO HOW TO DEAL WITH CHANGES
from The New York Times

The global climate is changing in big ways, probably because of human actions, and it is time to focus on adapting to the impacts instead of just fighting to limit the warming. That, in a nutshell, was the idea that dominated the latest round of international climate talks, which ended on Friday in New Delhi.

While many scientists have long held this view, it was a striking departure for the policy makers at the talks — the industry lobbyists, environmental activists and government officials. For more than a decade, their single focus had been the fight over whether to cut smokestack and tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Many environmentalists had long avoided discussing adaptation for fear it would smack of defeatism.

Experts espousing the views of industry were thrilled with the shift in New Delhi.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/03/science/03CLIM.html

FBI SECRETLY TRYING TO RE-CREATE ANTHRAX FROM MAIL ATTACKS
from The Washington Post

FBI investigators and federal scientists have been secretly working for months to replicate the type of anthrax used in last year's deadly mail attacks, as part of a previously undisclosed strategy designed to determine precisely how the spores were manufactured, officials said yesterday.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who revealed the experiments in remarks to reporters here, said that using such "reverse engineering" could help investigators narrow the list of possible suspects.

"We're replicating the way or ways it might be manufactured, but it is not an easy task," Mueller said. "We are going into new territory in some areas."

The ambitious strategy underscores the continued lack of information available to FBI investigators, who have not succeeded in identifying a culprit more than a year after the first letters containing deadly anthrax spores were mailed. The bacteria, accompanied by threatening notes, killed five people and infected 13 others in the fall of 2001. The incidents also disrupted the mail system and highlighted its vulnerability.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54295-2002Nov1.html

HEALTH DEPARTMENTS AIM TO SPOT BIOTERROR
from The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Public health officials have developed an odd interest lately in the mundane and arcane.

Epidemiologists are tracking orange juice sales at the local Safeway and poring over school attendance data. They're mapping every case of the sniffles they can find and watching surveillance videos to count how many times people sneeze.

The idea is that a sudden spike in everyday aches, pains, sniffles and coughs could signal the earliest stages of a health commissioner's worst nightmare -- a massive biological attack. So in the last few years, an increasing number of health departments have started collecting electronic data from hospital emergency rooms, pharmacies and other sources in an effort to gauge the overall level of illness in the population.

Epidemiologists call their new strategy syndromic surveillance, because it looks for increases in clusters of symptoms -- "syndromes" in medical jargon -- rather than particular disease diagnoses. In September, public health officials from around the country met at the New York Academy of Medicine to explore the potential of using syndromic surveillance as part of a bioterror alarm system. The conference was organized by the New York City health department with help from the Centers for Disease Control and funding from the Sloan Foundation.

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ats-ap_health12nov03,0,7441287.story?coll=sns%2Dhealth%2Dheadlines

NEW VA FUNDS FOR STUDY OF WAR ILLNESS WELCOMED
from The Washington Post

A plan by the Department of Veterans Affairs to sharply increase funding for research into Gulf War illnesses marks a turning point in how the government perceives the problem, the leader of a veterans group says.

"We've had to fight tooth and nail to convince people that Gulf War illness was more than stress," said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an umbrella group of 60 veterans organizations.

The department announced last week it would make up to $20 million available for research in 2004. That is more than double the amount spent by the department in any previous year, it said. By comparison, the VA spent $8.4 million in 2001 and $3.7 million in 2002. .

VA spokesman Jim Benson said he doesn't view the funding as a change of direction noting that more than 200 research projects have been funded by the VA and other agencies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64534-2002Nov3.html

FROM BOYHOOD CURIOSITY TO SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Tyrone Hayes may not fit the stereotype of the big-time scientist. But he figures it doesn't hurt that he sometimes stands out in a crowd of his peers.

"I give a talk at a meeting, and everybody remembers the black guy in the braids," he said. "They may not remember what I said, but they tend to remember me."

Now, it's not his braids but his work that is starting to draw most of the attention.

Hayes, 35, an African American biology professor at UC Berkeley, has produced a series of high-profile studies challenging the ecological safety of atrazine, the most widely used pesticide in the United States.

His latest research suggests that the weed-killer may be short-circuiting the reproductive machinery of amphibians exposed to farm chemicals in spring runoff. A summary of the latest findings appears in the Oct. 31 issue of the journal Nature

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/11/04/MN46892.DTL

SOCIAL FACTORS MAY DEEPEN CHRONIC PAIN
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Orlando, Fla. -- Brain researchers revealed some surprising new clues about the nature of chronic pain Sunday, suggesting that subtle changes in nerve endings, early life experiences and social factors -- even the mere presence of an overly solicitous spouse -- can make the problem worse.

Chronic inflammation, migraines and other pain syndromes afflict as many as 97 million people in America, making chronic pain by far the most widespread disorder of the brain and nervous system.

Some of the most provocative findings from the frontiers of pain research kicked off the annual meeting of the 31,000-member Society for Neuroscience, the world's largest gathering of scientists who study the brain and nervous system.

Pain experts underscored the difficulty of unraveling syndromes that are driven partly by the physical systems that transmit sensations and partly by emotions that color how the brain interprets pain signals.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/11/04/MN30599.DTL

ANTENNA SYSTEM IS SAID TO EXPAND WIRELESS INTERNET USE
from The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 3 — A start-up company plans to announce new antenna technology on Monday that it says can expand the limits of a popular wireless Internet format, providing access to hundreds or even thousands of portable computer users at distances of more than 2,000 feet within buildings and about four miles outdoors.

The antenna uses the 802.11 technical standard, also known as Wi-Fi, which is currently limited to providing wireless Internet access to several dozen users within a few hundred feet of the transmitter. Wi-Fi is increasingly common in offices, airports, places like Starbucks shops and even in a growing number of households.

Executives for the start-up company, Vivato, based here, said they expected their technology to be especially suited to office buildings because it would enable so many more people to use a single Wi-Fi Internet connection simultaneously.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/04/technology/04WIRE.html

HANDWRITING SAMPLE A TREASURE TROVE FOR SCRIPT SLEUTHS, BUT SKEPTICS SCOFF
from The Washington Post

The hand-printed letter tacked to a tree near the Ashland, Va., sniper shooting site is known for its chilling postscript -- "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." But among those who study handwriting, it has had even more interesting things to say.

The world of graphology has been buzzing since last week, when the letter was distributed over the Internet after the arrests of two suspects in the string of shootings in the Washington area. Handwriting chat groups have been busy as people swap theories about the writer's personality. For those who practice handwriting analysis, this is bigger than big.

"We're always excited to see handwriting," said Ted Widmer, a New Mexico graphologist and author of two books on the subject. "I love to see this guy's handwriting to see where he is at."

...To skeptics, the idea that personality can be predicted through handwriting is ludicrous. Barry Beyerstein, a biological psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada who co-edited a book critical of graphology, called it "scientific bunk, no better than palm-reading or tea- leaf reading."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54971-2002Nov1.html

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

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MIOS MEETING Metroplex Institute of Origin Science

Hear JIM COOKE Present

Petroleum Geology
Consistent With A Universal Flood?

Jim Cooke is a professional Geologist, a seismologist retired from Mobile Oil, with more than twenty years experience. He has led hikes into Grand Canyon for the Institute of Creation Research. Twice he has conducted amazingly informative tours for MIOS through the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, presenting powerful evidence for a universal flood.

The training of most seismologists is dominated by the religion of naturalism, consequently they interpret geological formations in terms of slow gradual development over millions of years. It doesn’t work very well but it's the best they can do when they refuse to consider the alternative. Mr. Cooke is thoroughly familiar with the evidence and will demonstrate that rapid catastrophism, consistent with a universal flood, explains the evidence simply and directly without the tottering towers of assumptions so common to this field.

Bucky Auditorium
Medical Office Building
2126 Research Row, Dallas, TX
Tuesday, November 5th, 7:30 PM

AT NEWS: AT Gets Nasty in Utah

*** AT NEWS COMMENTARY ***

As the November elections approach, Utah politics are unique. The full force of attack politics in Utah is directed at an unopposed candidate who wants to introduce a bill to stop practices such as "holding therapy" that coercively restrain children.

Sources in Utah report that Attachment Therapists have given a PR firm a lot of money to make their state safe for "holding therapy." Their public tactics have included so far:

* Intimidating Rep. Mike Thompson (R-Orem) whose anti-restraint bill has already been unanimously positioned by committee for the fast track through the Utah legislature early next year.

* Pressuring Rep. Thompson to reach a "compromise" with Attachment Therapists (it's already a compromise).

* Threatening Rep. Thompson with bogus ethics charges, claiming he has conspired with state officials to put the Cascade Center out-of-business.

* Proposing to counter Rep. Thompson's efforts with a joke bill to be introduced by Sen. Parley Hellewell (R-Orem) that would "get rid of bad therapy and keep good therapy."

* Holding weekly "town meetings" at Utah high schools to "inform" the public about how Rep. Thompson has persecuted Attachment Therapists.

* Pressuring client families into action to promote AT's unvalidated and dangerous practices. (In particular, Colorado's AT "parenting expert" Nancy Thomas is at it again!) The Cascade Center has a new, slick website up with frequent calls to action and press releases:
http://www.attach-bond.com

The article from this week's Deseret News (below) shows that Attachment Therapists in Utah are getting personal and nasty. That shouldn't surprise those familiar with how they abuse children. They only have one method to deal with all problems -- abuse. If you have a moment, a letter to the editor and/or a note of encouragement to Rep. Thompson would help a great deal.

Please send to:
letters@desnews.com.
(Letters must include a full name, address, city and telephone number.)

To contact Rep. Mike Thompson:
msthompson@utah.gov

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

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,415016303,00.html

"Orem center stands by its practices: 2 lawmakers clash over the controversial practice"

By Geoffrey Fattah
Deseret News staff writer
October 29, 2002

OREM - With a state senator standing by their side as an ally to protect holding therapy, the owners of the Cascade Center for Family Growth fired back Monday at accusations that their form of child therapy is harmful to children.

At a news conference they called, therapists Larry VanBloem and Jennie Gwilliam gave a brief look at what might become a heated political battle in next year's legislative session.

The Cascade Center for Family Growth was thrust into the spotlight after a Springville couple, charged with the water overdose death of their adopted 4-year-old daughter, alleged they were acting upon advice given to them by a Cascade therapist. Shortly after, state licensing officials filed an action to attempt to yank the therapy licenses of VanBloem and Gwilliam. State investigators contend in their report that the type of "compression holding therapy" done at the center posses a danger physically and emotionally.

In Monday's press conference, the two embattled therapists accused Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Orem, of conspiring with state officials to put them out of business. Thompson has publicly come out against holding therapy as a dangerous form of alternative therapy that should be banned among licensed therapists. To that end, Thompson pushed a bill last year that said just that. Although the bill passed the House, it later died in Senate committee.

Gwilliam said Thompson was quick to focus blame on Cascade shortly after the the Springville girl's death. Gwilliam pointed out that ultimately investigators found no criminal connection between the girl's death and Cascade.

Sen. Parley Hellewell, R-Orem, called Thompson's statements and actions against Cascade "unethical behavior."

"It's malicious and it's political," Hellewell said. Hellewell said he has seen children in his neighborhood "healed dramatically" by therapists at Cascade.

Although they said they cannot prove it, VanBloem and Gwilliam both said they believe Thompson somehow orchestrated an investigation by the state division of professional licensing to put them out of business.

Hellewell said he plans to go to the Utah Attorney General's Office to start an inquiry into the extent of Thompson's involvement in the professional licensing investigation against Cascade.

Contacted the by the Deseret News Tuesday morning, Thompson denied all allegations, calling them character assassination.

"This is how these people have operated the whole time. The personal attacks and attempts to assassinate somebody else rather than sticking with the issues."

The issue, Thompson said, is the practice of a therapy that has been condemned by national psychiatric groups as not effective and possibly dangerous. Thompson himself calls holding therapy "child abuse." He has vowed to push his bill banning holding therapy next year.

But Hellewell said he plans to sponsor a bill of his own that would "get rid of bad therapy and keep good therapy."

The bill, which will be authored by VanBloem and Gwilliam, is seen as a preemptive political strike at Thompson by legalizing an appropriate form of holding therapy. VanBloem said such techniques as screaming, swearing, slapping and covering with a blanket are dangerous to children and should be outlawed. VanBloem stressed that Cascade has never done those things.

"I have a big problem with our state being the first state in the nation to legalize what many consider child abuse," Thompson said. "The American Psychiatric Association came out in June against holding therapy."

Thompson claims he has enough support in the Legislature, as well as leaders in the local psychiatric community, behind his bill to get it passed.

Hellewell appears ready for a fight. "I don't think the house will pass it again because I'm going to make sure they know the truth," he said.

In the meantime, VanBloem pointed out that there has been no proof that any of their clients have been directly hurt by Cascade. "The results that we have achieved in the lives of many of these children have been remarkable," Gwilliam said.

Numerous parents have come to the defense of the center, attributing dramatic positive changes in their children to Cascade therapy.

Both VanBloem and Gwilliam still face state action against their license. Both said their official reply to the state's action is due at the end of the week.

E-MAIL: gfattah@desnews.com
===================

[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 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

Intelligent design URC

http://www.idurc.org/yale-minnich.html

Scott Minnich
Bacterial Flagella: Spinning Tails of Complexity and Co-Option

Dr. Minnich presented some interesting features in the flagella machine that he studies:

-2 gears: forward and reverse

-operates at both 6,000 and 17,000 rpm

-can reverse direction within 1/4 of a turn

-the rotary engine itself contains 30 structural parts

He pointed out that molecular geneticists BANK ON IC (irreducible complexity) in their day to day work. In order to discover the purpose purpose of each protein in the molecular machine, scientists indivdiually isolate the parts and mutate them beyond repair. In order to rely on this, the scientist must invoke the property of IC.

Dr. Minnich also discussed the incredible effeciency of the flagella system. When being built, the flagella is constructed as if it were in a factory, level by level, teir by teir, part by part, in a chronological fashion. It was suggested by a member of the audience that this adds a new for of complexity (a chronological development constringency) to this already IC machine.

It is estimated that 10% of the cells energy is required to build and run the flagellum. However, in building the system, the cell has a "check-point regulator" so that if at any point the cell encounters a mutation, it shuts down the development of the flagella system. This is highly efficient, and yet another added level of complexity.

Interestingly, Dr. Minnich pointed out that flagella development does not occurr above 37 degrees C. Actually, it is at this temperature that Type III Secretory organelles develop, which use the same genes as the flagella. This is an example of two uses for the same genes. Some would argue that this is an example of evolution taking one system, and using it for another purpose. Interestingly, it is the flagella (more complex), according to Minnich, that came first. The secretory system appears to be some form of degeneration. The design theorist however, can marvel at the effeciency of using the same set of genes for two different purposes.

Correspondence w/ Science Journals

http://www.trueorigin.org/behe07.asp
behe-01.htm
http://www.discovery.org/viewDB/index.php3?program=CRSC%20Responses&command=view&id=450

Response to critics concerning peer-review

Michael Behe, Discovery Institute
© 2000 Michael Behe. Originally published at the Discovery Institute's website.
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. [Last Modified: 28 May 2002]

Introduction

Much of the material shown posted as "responses to critics" on this website was originally submitted to several science journals for consideration for publication. In every case it was turned down. Below I have included the correspondence between the journals and myself. Names of journals and individuals have been omitted. The take-home lesson I have learned is that, while some science journal editors are individually tolerant and will entertain thoughts of publishing challenges to current views, when a group (such as the editorial board) gets together, orthodoxy prevails. Admittedly the conclusion is based on a small number of experiences, yet years go by while the experiences accumulate. So far my experience with philosophy journals has been quite different, and I have published a reply to specific criticisms in Philosophy of Science (Behe, Michael J. (2000). Self-organization and irreducibly complex systems: A reply to Shanks and Joplin Philosophy of Science 67, 155-162.)

A Brief Response

I initially emailed the editor of a journal in the field of evolution about the possibility of publishing a full-length reply-to-critics paper. As seen below, he suggested a very much-shortened paper. The shortened version essentially consisted of section II from the article "In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade" on this website. I argued that Darwinian scenarios need to include more than just a general invocation of gene duplication to be justified. The correspondence includes: (1) an email from the editor to me; (2) my letter back to him; (3) his letter rejecting the manuscript; (4) the criticisms of the reviewer; (5) a response letter from me.

Topic: Jo Que, Behe, and a Whale walk into a bar ....

http://iidb.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=58&t=001638 Dr.GH
IIDB Regular
User # 3443
posted November 03, 2002 01:25 AM

A behe fan showed up at another BB (P.O.D.) and wanted to argue the "Darwin's Black Box" chapter 4. This is the idea that the blood clotting cascade is IC, and so could not have evolved. This seems to me to mean that IC systems can't evolve! So I wrote the following, and welcome critical response:

Lets look back to 1996. In an article on the molecular comparison of the modern genes that produce a milk protein, casein, Gatesy et al concluded that whales and hippos were related. Gatesy et al Evidence from milk casein genes that cetaceans are close relatives of hippopotamid artiodactyls Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol 13, 954-963 http://www.molbiolevol.org/cgi/content/abstract/13/7/954?ijkey=3sZ4.YhxIB9Nc

There had been earlier molecular evolution studies that had made some similar arguments based on different genes, and with different animals in the data group. But, the paleontological data, actual fossils available at the time, didn't indicate that whales were closely related to hippos, but instead were more closely related to a different group of extinct animals. Even better, Gatesy in 1997 authored More DNA Support for a Cetacea/Hippopotamidae Clade: The Blood-Clotting Protein Gene Gama-Fibrinogen Molecular Biological Evolution 14(5):537-543 (1997). http://mbe.library.arizona.edu/data/1997/1405/8gate.pdf

This really excited the good folks at the Institute for Creation Research. Frank Sherwin, who is identified as a biologist at the ICR wrote Scientific Roadblocks to Whale Evolution ICR IMPACT No. 304 October 1998 http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-304.htm

Sherwin cites Gatesy with great approval, partially quoting his 1997 abstract pointing to the apparent conflict between the molecular evolution data, and the "stones-n-bones" paleontology.

Below are links to articles on the paleontology of the early whale ancestors- the ones that still had legs and feet and walked on them. Notice that these were reported in 2001. It won't matter if you don't want to read them. The point is that two groups of workers found fossils which strongly indicate that whales are artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates).

Almost like a whale http://www.nature.com/nsu/010920/010920-11.html

This is the full article:
Skeletons of terrestrial cetaceans and the relationship of whales to artiodactyls http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v413/n6853/full/413277a0_r.html&filetype=&dynoptions=

Thewissen et al Nature 413, 277 - 281 (2001) agree that the whales evolved from artiodactyls, but stop short of joining then into the hippo group, arguing instead that the cetaceans diverged from still earlier animals.

ScienceDaily News Release: New Fossils Suggest Whales And Hippos Are Close Kin http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010920072245.htm

BBC News | SCI/TECH | When whales walked the land
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1553008.stm

The original article can be read if you register (free!) with Science Magazine published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Origin of Whales from Early Artiodactyls: Hands and Feet of Eocene Protocetidae from Pakistan Gingerich et al Science, Vol. 293, Issue 5538, 2239-2242, September 21, 2001

Now, Gingerich et al do think that the fossils they found not only join the whales (cetaceans) with the even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls), but converging with the DNA studies of the evolution of Blood Clotting, they are most closely related to the Hippos. It has only been a year, and as far as I know Thewissen isn't budging, but personally I'm betting on Gingerich. Maybe because the "imposible" to understand evolution of the "irreducibly complex" blood clotting cascade has predicted the Cetacea/Hippopotamidae Clade for years. The evolutionary behavior of blood clotting proteins was used to make a specific, testable prediction. Behe claims that the blood clotting cascade didn't evolve, indeed that it can't have evolved. Thus, in Behe's terms the evolution of blood clotting can't make predictions.

The paleontological confirmation of the relationship of hippos and whales is also the confirmation of the analysis demonstrating the evolution of blood clotting proteins which had reached the same conclusion.

The "take home message" is that this is an irrefutable demonstration that blood clotting evolved, and the genes for blood clotting evolved. Consequently the blood clotting cascade is not 'irreducibly complex' in either Behe's 1996 formulation of in Bill Dembski's recent re-formulation.

Now, the IDistas will either deny the existance of cetacean evolution, or the relevence of paleontology to the evolution of biomolecules. And/Or they might might just charge on to the next molecular system that is not well understood.

Here is the point: Behe claims the blood clotting cascade can not evolve, the whale/hippo data show that the blood clotting cascade did evolve.

Weellll, I showed this to a few colleagues, two responded one a geneticist and one a biochemist. They both independently told me (more or less) why hadn't I merely sent a copy of the following paper:

Evolution of enzyme cascades from embryonic development to blood coagulation Maxwell M. Krem and Enrico Di Cera

The recent discovery of molecular markers of protease evolution suggests that enzyme cascades evolved from an ancestral developmental/immunity cascade before the protostome/deuterostome split. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2002, 27:2:67-74

Abstract

Recent delineation of the serine protease cascade controlling dorsal–ventral patterning during Drosophila embryogenesis allows this cascade to be compared with those controlling clotting and complement in vertebrates and invertebrates. The identification of discrete markers of serine protease evolution has made it possible to reconstruct the probable chronology of enzyme evolution and to gain new insights into functional linkages among the cascades. Here, it is proposed that a single ancestral developmental/immunity cascade gave rise to the protostome and deuterostome developmental, clotting and complement cascades. Extensive similarities suggest that these cascades were built by adding enzymes from the bottom of the cascade up and from similar macromolecular building blocks.

I had to admit that I hadn't read it even though it had been recommended to me months ago. OH WELL. I have read it now, and I doubt that Behe will be using either the clotting cascade, or the adaptive immunity (complement) cascade. Krem and Di Cera show very clearly that the all of the serine proteace cascades derived from the same precursers, and that "step by step" modifications can account for the results. I can't post the whole article, but I will email the PDF version to you if you send me your email address by PM. Or, you can email the corresponding author Dr. Di Cera, enrico@biochem.wusti.edu and request a copy.

Matt Inlay in an article titled Evolving Immunity pretty well demolished Behe's Chapter 6. I have recently read that the bacterial flagella has been shown to have evolved from virulence factors, and a recent discussion at the ISCID - International Society for Complexity Information and Design (or maybe it was the ARN) board on the organization of intracellular transport, IMO, left the IDistas gasping and grabbing at straws. I can't imagine what the next edition of Behe's book will have left in it.

I expect that Behe or some other IDista will try to maintain that the serine protease cascades from both the blood clotting cascade and the complement cascade are the IC parts of the system. And then they will retreat to the next hole.


Sunday, November 03, 2002

Physics hoaxers discover Quantum Bogosity

http://www.online.ie/technology/viewer.adp?article=1872057

The Register 02 Nov 2002

The physics establishment appears to be unable to decide whether papers submitted by two former French TV presenters are a scientific breakthrough or an elaborate hoax. The debunking to date has been done on Usenet groups and informally, over the Internet.

The pranksters evaded the rigorous peer review process employed by scientific journals, and have succeeded in publishing four physics papers. The pair even won themselves PhDs into the bargain.

Grichka and Igor Bogdanov succeeded in having Topological field theory of the initial singularity of spacetime published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity 18, Spacetime Metric and the KMS Condition at the Planck Scale in the Annals of Physics, and a Russian journal, and Igor - this time flying solo - persuaded the Czechoslovak Journal of Physics to publish the Topological origin of inertia.

But curiously, so arcane and abstract is the world of theoretical physics, that the work has yet to be repudiated.

Usenet posters describe the papers as "laughably incoherent". A fascinating thread on Usenet begun by John Baez brought the hoax to light, and persistent questioning by Arkadiusz Jadczyk on his website has done much to expose the pair.

The Bogdanovs apparently foxed a New York Times reporter curious about the case, who after an angry denial from one of the hoaxers - denying that he was a hoaxer - dropped his investigation.

"Does no one have the courage of his convictions to stand up and declare an opinion one way or the other, or is it simply that no one has bothered to actually spend the time to acquire an informed opinion (i.e. more than just skimming the papers for a few choice sentences)?", asks Kevin Scaldeferri from the California Institute of Technology.

So, the only respectable branch of physics in which the Bogdanov's operate appears to be, umm ... pataphysics.

The terrible, terrible conclusion some might draw from the episode is that string physics is no more a "science" than a social science. Several years ago physics professor Alan Sokhal hoaxed the cultural theories establishment with a delightful pastiche that suggested recent quantum theory work proved aspects of Lacanian psychoanalysis, as he explained in his paper A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies:-

"While my method was satirical, my motivation is utterly serious. What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance," he wrote.

But if the establishment is so reluctant to expose the prank, is it the fault of hoaxers or the scientific method? The work of many of our most important scientists has been conducted in the margins, contrary to orthodox scientific opinion. Occam's Razor is not only a wonderful thing for debunking junk science, but a terrific way to cut your own arms and legs off. And scientists must eat, so grant-funded research necessarily follows the orthodoxy. So which is it? Go gentle with us, dear readers, for when it comes to physics I'm as thick as too short Plancks. ®

Thanks to the ever-wonderful RobotWisdom for the link - ao

Original article at: http://www.online.ie/news/viewer.adp?article=1872057

Becoming a Disciplined Science:
Prospects, Pitfalls, and Reality Check for ID

http://iscid.org/papers/Dembski_DisciplinedScience_102802.pdf
or
Dembski_DisciplinedScience_102802.pdf

By William A. Dembski

Keynote address delivered at RAPID Conference (Research and Progress in Intelligent Design), Biola University, La Mirada, California, 25 October 2002. The aim of this conference was to examine the current state of intelligent design research.

Recently I asked a well-known ID sympathizer what shape he thought the ID movement was in. I raised the question because, after some initial enthusiasm on his part three years ago, his interest seemed to have flagged. Here is what he wrote:

An enormous amount of energy has been expended on "proving" that ID is bogus, "stealth creationism," "not science," and so on. Much of this, ironically, violates the spirit of science. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. But on the other side, too much stuff from the ID camp is repetitive, imprecise and immodest in its claims, and otherwise very unsatisfactory. The "debate" is mostly going around in circles. The real work needs to go forward. There is a tremendous ferment right now in the "evo/devo" field, for instance. Some bright postdocs sympathetic to ID (and yes, I know how hard a time they would have institutionally at many places) should plunge right into the thick of that. Maybe they are at this very moment: I hope so!
Every now and again we need to take a good, hard look in the mirror. The aim of this talk is to help us do just that. Intelligent design has made tremendous inroads into the culture at large. Front page stories featuring our work have appeared in the New York Times, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, and so on. Television, radio, and weeklies like Time Magazine are focusing the spotlight on us as well. This publicity is at once useful and seductive. It useful because it helps get the word out and attract talent to the movement. It is seductive because it can deceive us into thinking that we have accomplished more than we actually have.

Two animating principles drive intelligent design. The more popular by far takes intelligent design as a tool for liberation from ideologies that suffocate the human spirit, such as reductionism and materialism. The other animating principle, less popular but intellectually more compelling, takes intelligent design as the key to opening up fresh insights into nature. The first of these animating principles is purely instrumental -- it treats intelligent design as a tool for attaining some other end (like defeating materialism). Presumably if other tools could more effectively accomplish that end, intelligent design would be abandoned. The second of these animating principles, by contrast, is intrinsic -- it treats intelligent design as an essential good, an end in itself worthy to be pursued because of the insights it provides into nature.

Bigfoot's indelible imprint

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-10-31-bigfoot-cover_x.htm

By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY

IN THE SISKIYOU MOUNTAINS, Ore. — There are times in life when we must summon every shred of courage to stand tall and unflinching in the face of fear. This is not one of them. It is 2 a.m., and outside a flimsy tent lit by a full moon something stirs in this primeval forest.

Crack! goes the twig. "Deer, right?" asks a visitor, who is about to tick away the nerve-wracking night one snap, crackle and pop at a time until dawn breaks with a harrowing howl.

"Nah," replies local Matthew Johnson, sliding a hand onto his .44 Magnum. "That wasn't a twig; it was a thick branch. Whatever's out there is bigger. Much bigger."

Bigger as in Yeti and Sasquatch.

Bigger as in Bigfoot.

That's right, the hairy, smelly lunk is still with us. Pick any name you want — Asian, Native American or tabloid — he hasn't changed from the 10-foot-tall, half-ton, mannish ape whose star turn in a 1967 home movie launched thousands of sightings.

Make no mistake. Bigfoot and his kin remain part of a freaky family of Charlie's Angels-era fads (think poltergeists and UFOs), and the scientific community at large remains amused. But the faithful hope Bigfoot may yet make a monkey out of non-believers. For decades now, a small but loyal legion of Bigfoot hunters has spent countless weekends prowling forests in nearly every state, piling up evidence such as alleged footprints and hair samples that now has a handful of animal experts willing to at least entertain the possibility of his existence.

"I've gone from being a raving skeptic to being curiously receptive," says Robert Benson, director of the Center for Bioacoustics at Texas A&M. He appears in a new documentary, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, critiquing taped Bigfoot calls. While many of those recordings "could be human" (i.e. hoaxes), others left him puzzled.

In Sasquatch, which airs in January on Discovery, a small cadre of scientists pore over audio, video and the Holy Grail of molds called the Skookum Cast, a plaster impression taken in 2000 from a muddy Mount St. Helens meadow that purports to capture a Bigfoot sitting on his oversized derriére.

Sasquatch producer Doug Hajicek is mum on the film's "important revelations" but is confident viewers will tune in. "I'll tell you why this fascinates people," he says "We're the only bipeds (animals who walk on two feet) here. Imagine the primordial fear a competing biped species produces."

Spare me, says Russ Tuttle, professor of evolutionary morphology at the University of Chicago.

"I could be interested, but first get me a skeleton or maybe a Bigfoot trapped in my basement," Tuttle says, echoing the prime criticism of Bigfoot skeptics — habeas corpus, produce the body. "It's interesting that something allegedly that large has never been found."

The same issue concerns the Wildlife Conservation Society's Alan Rabinowitz, an Indiana Jones figure in the world of animal anthropology. "It is very rare, once you've been told about an animal and its habits, to then never find anything tangible," he says.

But the mere possibility of an elusive ape-like creature has an almost primal allure, as evidenced in the hundreds of reports filed each year with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. That he's been spotted in almost every corner of the USA makes Bigfoot rival Elvis in terms of sightings, but that doesn't bother the committed.

"He's out there," says Johnson, a clinical psychologist in Grants Pass, a town about an hour northeast of his Bigfoot stomping grounds.

Johnson had no interest in finding the beast until the beast found him. He spied his personal Moby Dick while on a family hike two summers ago and was reduced to tears by its size — impressive considering that Johnson is 6-foot-9, weighs 250 pounds and wears size 16 shoes. Now he's leader of the Southern Oregon Bigfoot Society, a ragtag but dedicated assemblage of sleuths who typify the breed.

"Once you hear him scream at you, you're hooked," he says. "Some people play sports or fish. Others, well, we go Bigfootin'."

Just call him 'sesqec'

Bigfoot's legend dates back to the earliest campfire gatherings.

Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest had stories about encounters with sesqec, from which the term Sasquatch emerged, and the pioneers had their own run-ins with the woolly misfit.

But what really launched Bigfoot into a Loch Ness Monster orbit was the amateur film shot in northern California by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. The upright beast with gorilla looks and human gait loped past their lens; for maximum spook, the creature — dubbed Patty — glared at the camera. The hunt was on.

As age has crept up on the folks who made Bigfoot the stuff of pop legend more than 30 years ago, their passion has been passed on to next-generation faithful like Jeff Meldrum, associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.

Once a skeptic, Meldrum was in Washington state in 1996 when he saw dozens of footprints and "felt the hair stand up on my neck." Today, he oversees an extensive collection of footprint casts amassed by the late Grover Krantz, anthropology professor at Washington State University and author of Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. Meldrum's analysis of the trove: The feet are variations on a human theme.

"I hope we're at a turning point," says Meldrum, who notes that his university presentations on Bigfoot no longer receive sideshow status. "Now I see a different reaction. Maybe it's tougher to say all these sightings are hoaxes than to consider that something is out there."

Or, as believers argue, could so many be so loony?

"Think about it: If illusion alone could generate such devotion, you'd have a Unicorn Society and a Leprechaun Society. But you don't," says Matthew Moneymaker, founder in 1995 of the Orange County, Calif.-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which boasts 100 "researchers" and whose Webby Award-winning site gets 300,000 hits a week.

"Bring in top scientists and we'll solve it," Moneymaker insists. "It's tough. Go try and find it. The creatures are rare, the forests are thick, and the night is dark."

Town hints at mystery

Grants Pass is a bucolic town ringed by wooded hills. It's perfect, in a Stephen King way.

There are hints that something otherworldly may dwell in the hills: The town is near the valley of a river called the Rogue, and a club-wielding brute, the Caveman, is the high school's mascot.

Matt Johnson, 40, loves it here. A longtime resident of Alaska — where he was a standout basketball player — he and wife Rochelle, 43, and their kids Levi, 11, Hannah, 9, and Micah, 7, moved to get away from endless winters.

During one of their first hikes, out near the Oregon Caves, the family noticed a smell that made a skunk's offering seem tame.

When Johnson stepped away to relieve himself, he caught sight of a gigantic hairy creature across a clearing. It was staring at his family.

"I froze, but finally my instincts kicked in. I raced over to my wife and kids, and without looking back, we got out of there," he says.

Only Johnson saw the creature. He debated reporting the incident, then opened up to park officials. His family now passes on day hikes.

"I used to feel safe, because, you know, Dad was normally the biggest thing in the forest," says Levi. "Now, I'm not sure."

Johnson is determined to find out what lurks in these forests. He's already dedicated dozens of weekends and "thousands of dollars in bait and other equipment," and laughs when people suggest he's in this for the publicity.

"Oh, sure," he sighs. "Come see the therapist who saw Bigfoot. That's great for business."

At nightfall at least once each month, he hops in his Bigfoot hunting vehicle — a 1995 baby blue Cadillac Sedan DeVille — and escorts the dedicated and the curious into the Siskiyou Mountains.

This night, as with every trip, he brings bags of bananas, watermelon and pastries as lures, a tent and sleeping bag, and his .44 — to protect against bear or cougar, not Bigfoot. ("We don't want it harmed," he says emphatically.)

At the campsite, he checks on a deer camera nailed to a tree on a previous outing, which is set to shoot if anything passes by. So far, the camera's shutter hasn't fired.

As the moon rises, he knocks on rocks (no response), blasts classical music (no fans) and checks the bait piles (no takers).

Johnson is an unfailingly polite and openly religious man. And yet he decides to spin tales just before turning in about another Bigfoot hunter who let his dog race off to the woods, only to find him dismembered in the morning. As bedtime stories go, it's a downer.

The twig-snapping night is interminable; sunrise is a gift.

And just as the coffee is brewing, it happens. From up a winding fire road come sounds: the high-pitched chatter of a chimp, suddenly intercut by the low groan of a scream in slow motion.

Ears prick up. Breathing becomes optional. For 15 seconds, this unearthly racket floods the camp. Then it vanishes. Other than humans, most animals known to man are incapable of such broad sound ranges. Bigfoot or not, something odd has spoken.

"Hmm, not a bear, not a cougar," says Johnson. "You ever hear anything like that before?"

Johnson's visitor, suddenly busy taking down the tent, offers to discuss his myriad theories in town.

The tall man in search of an even taller thing smiles and pops open the Caddy's trunk.

"You have to admit," he says. "This sure beats golfing."

Moorhead man has been hunting bigfoot for 16 years

http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/3404980.html

Rona K. Johnson
Grand Forks Herald

Published Nov. 3, 2002
BIGF03

MOORHEAD, MINN. -- If a bigfoot is living in the dense, wooded areas of Minnesota, Mike Quast hopes to be the one who finds it. Quast, 34, who lives in Moorhead and works for a custodial company, has his work cut out for him.

First of all, most people scoff at the existence of such a creature. And second, most of the people who believe in the existence of a bigfoot-like creature are searching for it in the Pacific Northwest.

Quast's belief stems from his own sighting. It happened in 1976, when Quast was 8 years old. He was in a car with his parents when he saw what he believes was a bigfoot. or sasquatch. They were driving near Strawberry Lake, on the White Earth Indian Reservation north of Detroit Lakes.

"I was kind of stunned and didn't say anything for a while," Quast said. "I told my parents later, and they didn't take it too seriously."

His mission began when he graduated from high school in 1986. Since then, he's collected stories from people who claim to have seen a bigfoot, and he's hunted for the creature. He's collected his observations and reports in a book called "The Sasquatch in Minnesota."

"When I first started looking into it and reading all the books, there were nine reports of sightings in Minnesota, but the official records were really incomplete," he said.

Car attacked

The first story he ever investigated was about a creature that was seen in the Vergas, Minn., area.

"There was an urban legend story going around there about the hairy man that I heard about from my brother-in-law," Quast said. "He said he knew someone who had seen it."

Quast tracked down a mechanic who told him that when he was a teenager in 1968 he and his brother and his brother's girlfriend were driving around in a wooded area near Vergas and that a creature leaped out at them. When they turned the car around to get another look at it, it attacked their car.

They later found a large dent in the trunk lid. They described the creature as weighing about 300 pounds and standing 7 or 8 feet tall.

"He said it had a face like a gorilla and an upright body like a man, and it was covered with hair, a standard bigfoot description," Quast said.

The townspeople built a story around it, saying that it was some crazy hermit who lived in the woods.

"They started to hunt for the thing over the next few months, and they saw it a couple of more times, running at night," he said.

They never saw the creature in the winter, so they figured it was hibernating. Then one spring, they found a shack with a hole dug under it. It smelled like a dead animal so they burned the shack down.

"I heard about other stories, and I started searching the area," Quast said.

Different sizes

Quast spent much time searching the Vergas area.

"In August of 1989 I found what I believe were bigfoot tracks."

The tracks were 16 inches long with three toes. He made plaster casts of the tracks. In August 1970 he found a set that was 20 inches long, and, over time, he's found three different sets of tracks, one only 12 inches long.

"I thought it might have been a small family group that passed through the area once in a while," he said.

"I haven't found anything there in recent years because there's been a lot of development out there," he said. "It's still a woods, but it isn't as wild as it used to be."

Then, in the early 1990s, Quast met a trapper who lived near Zerkel, east of Mahnomen in Clearwater County.

"He found some tracks on his property that he couldn't explain," Quast said.

The tracks were of a two-legged creature, but they weren't typical bigfoot or human tracks. The tracks were circular with two large toes and, where the three other toes should have been, there was an impression of hair growing under the toes. Tracks were found of slightly different sizes, and Quast speculates the tracks were from a subspecies of bigfoot.

"The DNR suggested he get in touch with me," Quast said. "It became a fascination with him too."

The trapper found the first set of tracks in December 1990 and more tracks in March 1991.

"The tracks turned up again, and there were a lot more of them the second time," Quast said. "He thought he saw close to 2,000 tracks that day."

The trapper put up notices around town and started asking people in the area if they had seen anything.

"Other people had seen tracks, and there were sightings over the years," Quast said.

Scream in the night

The trapper became the best source of information Quast ever had, and Quast spent a lot of time searching on the trapper's property, even after he died more than a year ago.

"During the time I knew him, there were occasional reports, and he found more tracks," Quast said. "After a while, he started finding the more common type of tracks with the more human type of foot. Many of the tracks were smaller, indicating they were from a young bigfoot."

Since then Quast has concentrated his bigfoot hunt in the White Earth State Forest in Clearwater County in a heavily forested area the locals call the Buckboard Hills.

One night when Quast was camping on the trapper's property he heard what he believes was a bigfoot.

"If you study the bigfoot literature, they describe the sound as a scream, and I think that I heard it one night when I was camping there," he said. "At about 10 at night, this noise just came out of nowhere. It was so loud, the woods just shook with it, and I remember feeling very alone and very vulnerable out there, at that time. I think there were two of them calling back and forth to each other, because I heard it come from two different areas."

Quast said he will keep searching until he has proof that bigfoot exists.

"I think one of the main reasons why science doesn't take this animal seriously is because we have labeled it a monster, and nobody is supposed to believe in monsters," he said. "If it had just been thought of as a new species of wildlife, there would have been scientists out there looking for it."

Viewers outraged as porn film interrupts TV ghost hunt

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_701672.html?menu=news.quirkies

Television viewers watching a ghost hunt live from a castle have been shocked when the show was abruptly cut off and replaced by a pornographic film.

The pictures appeared without warning on Telewest's analogue cable service on Halloween.

The company has apologised for the error after they received complaints from parents who were watching Living TV's paranormal experiment Most Haunted.

The programme was about the ghosts of Dudley Castle.

Many had watched Most Haunted for almost three hours, only to miss the end when the switch happened.

Pensioner Joy and Gordon Norris, of Oak Park Road, Wordsley, in the West Midlands, were watching the programme with their son, when it suddenly switched to the film.

Mrs Norris, aged 72, told The Express & Star : "They had built up the excitement to midnight and then it was as if a switch had been pulled and the sex film came on."

A Telewest spokesman told the paper that Living TV was supposed to finish at midnight to be replaced by TVX, but Most Haunted went on until 12.30am.


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