NTS LogoSkeptical News for 25 April 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Zicam Homeopathic Cold Remedy

From: Floyd3491@aol.com

Known Intranasal Zinc Lawsuits

Dennis Christensen and Debra Christensen v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., et al.
Annabel Bentley, et al. v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., et al.
Janie Sutherland, et al. v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., et al.
Susan Nelson v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. (2.7 mb .tif file)
Tammy Ringbaurer v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. (1.9 mb .tif file)
Paige Davidson v. Quigley Corporation
Janara J Abramsen, Arthur J Balog, Sharlene Beck, Judy L Bedingfield, Ronald R Bell, Robert R Benton, Randall B Bush, Kate M Buswell, Frank
M Buttigieg, Michael E Cannan, Joan L Comes, James E Connelly, John C Cox, Laura A Cripe, Steve B Crouch, Tracy M Crucitti-Porter, Danny
S Curtis, Richard J Daly, Andrew N Dennison, David A Edlund, Leslie A Engen, Ana Maria Estevez, Jerry Felts, Franni M Ferrero, Patricia A
Garcia, Dale W Garten, Morey Grosse, Martha K Hadley, Donna K Halley, Gretchen Herd, Lea J House, Debra A Hurley, Paula V Jackson,
Matthew Karp, Mark L Kenyon, Regina C Lawrence, Donald F Llewellyn, Vickey W Maples, Janis H McKenzie, Richard H Monte, Jimmy D
Mooring, Deborah Morris, Raymond P Onidi, Sandra Orr, Kathryn J Platner, Sally I Powell, Avian T Quock, Richard N Ray, James T Scherz,
Barbara A Schiavone, Brian Smith, Mary Ann Spence, Kent D Stark, Noel H Stock, Kathleen Taormina, Judith A Tart, Belinda K Taylor, Michelle
D Thomas, Donna G Van Dries, Richard W Wagner, Gregory W Warren, Rosa M Weitzel, Colleen L Whiteford, Sandra A Wutsch. v. Matrixx
Initiatives, Inc., Zicam L L C, Botanical Laboratories Inc., Defendant, Zensano Inc., Zengen Inc

Television, Newpaper, Media, Internet, Legal, SEC, FDA Resources

DJ IN THE MONEY: FDA Looks Into Complaints About Zicam
Matrixx Initiatives' response.
Denver Channel 7 TV
ABC TV "Good Morning America"
Second Dow Jones article
Second Matrixx Initiatives response
NY Post - A Thing to Sneeze At (Denial does't work well)
Quigley's Cold-Eeze® zinc gluconate nasal spray claimed to kill chef's sense of smell
FDA Investigates Nasal Zinc Products - Consumers Who Have Zicam, Cold-Eeze Complaints Can Call FDA Hot Line
Dow Jones: Matrixx Has Contacted FDA About Zicam Cold Remedy
KPIX Channel 5: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose - Complaints about Popular Cold medicine (Zicam)
Matrixx Initiatives, Inc.'s SEC Approved Anosmia Research Plan
San Diego Channel 10: Woman Can't Smell After Using Cold Remedy
West Hartford CT Channel 8 News: Chef Paige Davidson sues Quigley Corp, maker of Cold-Eeze Zinc Gluconate Nasal Spray for loss of smell
Jeff's Weekly Medicine Review: Zicam
Denver 7: Zicam Admits No Studies Done On Loss Of Smell
Los angeles Times: Over-the-counter zinc nasal sprays reviewed for destroying sense of smell
Pharmacis'ts Letter Re: Nasal Zinc - Probably Unsafe
Los Angeles times: Over-the-counter zinc nasal sprays reviewed for destroying sence of smell
Houston Chronicle: Nasal sprays' effect on smell under review
Lawfirms Interested In Intranasal Zinc and Anosmia

Lawfirms Interested In Intranasal Zinc and Anosmia

Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. - New York, New Jersey
Massachussetts Lawyers Network
Alexander, Hawes & Audet, LLP - California & New York
The Radacowsky Law Firm/Peterson Reed & Warlaumont - Salt Lake, City Utah & Phoenix Arizona
Zimmerman Reed P.L.L.P. - Scottsdale Arizona and Minneapolis Minnesota
Zicam-Online Law Service
Williams Dailey O'Leary Craine & Love , P.C - Portland, Oregon
Richard Calahan - Swamport, Massachusetts
The Cahaba Law Group LLC - Chelsea, Alabama
Chambers, Steiner & Sturm, P.L.C., William P. Webster - Kalamazoo, Michigan
Bush, Lewis & Roebuck, PC/Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell - Beaumont, Texas
Claris Law, Inc.
Contact a Zicam Attorney In Your State
James Szaller, Brown & Szaller A Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio
Jones Martin Parris & Tessener Law Offices, PLLC - North Carolina

E-SKEPTIC #14 APRIL 12, 2004

Copyright 2004 Michael Shermer, Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, e-Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com and skepticmag@aol.com). Permission to print, distribute, and post with proper citation and acknowledgment.

where nothing is certain...but we're not sure about that...


April 18. Skeptics Society Caltech Lecture. Jonathan Kirsch speaking: "God Against the Gods: The Bright Side of Paganism, the Dark Side of Monotheism, & the Roots of Religious Violence in the Modern World." 2:00 pm. Baxter Lecture Hall. Contact: www.skeptic.com, skepticmag@aol.com, 626/794-3119.

April 21. UCLA Debate. Michael Shermer v. Jeffrey Schwartz; William Dembski v. Niall Shanks. 7-10pm. Ackerman Grand Ballroom on the UCLA campus.
Contact: Craig Nishimoto, cnishimo@ucla.edu

Two Debates on the Scope of Science, Moderated by Dallas Willard

The Nature & Spirit of Science: Jeffrey Schwartz vs. Michael Shermer
Question to be debated: Can scientific explanations restricted solely to material entities speak meaningfully about issues often deemed to have spiritual content, such as the role of willful action in nature? 7:00-8:20pm

Detecting Design in Biology: William Dembski vs. Niall Shanks
Question to be debated: Could intelligent design in biological systems be scientifically detectable, and has it in fact been detected? 8:30-9:50pm

April 24. Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UCLA. 2 PM
Manufacturing Fear: American Culture Today
Panelists: Paul Campos, Michael Ignatieff, Michael Shermer, Carol Tavris
Moderator: Barry Glassner
Information: http://www.latimes.com/extras/festivalofbooks/

Bigfoot, Big Con

A review of The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story by Greg Long. Prometheus Books. 2004. 475pp. $25 ISBN: 1591021391

By Daniel Loxton

When Greg Long's 2004 book The Making of Bigfoot arrived on my desk, I knew it was from Prometheus Books (which is a pretty good start), and about Bigfoot, but nothing else. Having heard none of the buzz about it, I was merely hoping it would prove to be a decent resource for one of my own articles on the subject.

Then, when I realized that the entire 466-page book was exclusively about the late Roger Patterson's infamous 1967 "Bigfoot" film, my heart sank. 475 pages on that tired old chestnut?

Like most skeptics, I'm more than a little sick of the Patterson Bigfoot film. In our hearts, skeptics know three things about the film: that it easily could have been faked, that it almost certainly was, and that it's very unlikely (despite the periodic rumors) to ever be proven a fake. It certainly looks like a guy in a gorilla suit, but the quality of the film is poor (and the creature too distant) to reach any definitive conclusions (for example, one most definitely cannot see a zipper, as some have claimed!).

Supporters of the film, on the other hand, have always insisted either that it could not have been faked in principle, or that Patterson himself could not have done so. Staring at grainy enlargements, the two sides have remained at that impasse for almost four decades.

In the face of this deadlock, Greg Long"s project turns out to be far more interesting than I had anticipated. He largely ignores the old footage and simply asks, Who was Patterson, anyway? Amazingly little seemed to be known about the man behind the most important and controversial "real Bigfoot" footage ever captured.

To find answers, Long spent several years traveling the Northwest, tracking down old witnesses, and taping interviews with anyone who was vaguely connected to Patterson or the film. Each of these contacts would recommend additional sources, whom Long patiently tracked down and interviewed.

What emerged from this exhaustive process turns out to be a fascinating investigative journey--and a page-turner. Engagingly written in the first person, the book reveals a Patterson that is, well, really something.

Grumpier skeptics will find this book completely delicious. It is the story, in the words of one key witness, of "a cheat, a liar, and a thief." Patterson was many things: an artist, woodworker, acrobat, rodeo-rider, filmmaker, author, and, above all, a con man. Long's portrait is that of a small-time, back roads scam artist with dreams of the big score.

Here, one of the book's few weaknesses is also a great asset: it's somewhat repetitive, as witness after witness tells us the same story of getting ripped off by Patterson. Every interview broadly corroborates the testimony of the others.

The details are constantly fascinating, frequently hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. Patterson seems to have scammed everyone he met, from his best friends to (perhaps) his own mother. One witness relates that Patterson, usually without a phone himself due to unpaid bills, once asked to borrow his phone.

He then secretly ran up a long distance bill (in 1960's money!) of seven hundred dollars, which he flatly refused to pay. Although this dupe prefers to remain anonymous, other witnesses tell nearly identical stories.

Apparently, Patterson cheated everybody. He may have run a regular check fraud routine, but his standard approach was simply to run up huge bills and then refuse to pay. He stiffed everyone from Safeway to the hospitals that treated him for cancer.

And yet, he constantly got away with it. People were sometimes afraid to collect, for Patterson, although small, was a life-long weightlifter with a reputation for having a violent temper. (According to one witness, he once responded to shouted insults by leaping into a car filled with four loggers and beating two of the men unconscious.) Others felt sorry for him, allowing him to fleece them repeatedly for the sake of his wife and kids. Besides, he seems to have made a point of almost never actually owning anything, so that no one, from courts to friends to collection agencies, could find anything on which to collect.

The Making of Bigfoot is a good read and well worth picking up just to glean the details of how the famous film was shot using a camera and film that were of course--never paid for. Patterson, in fact, was promptly arrested for grand larceny for stealing the very camera he used at Bluff Creek!

Readers will also discover that Patterson was obsessed with Bigfoot long before he "happened" to catch one on film. Indeed, prior to his fortunate encounter, he authored North America's very first full book on the subject (the publication of which was itself a saga of apparent crookedness and irresponsibility). He formed companies to pursue Bigfoot ventures, and staged earlier low budget Bigfoot films. Rather than the happy accident the Bluff Creek footage has always been considered, Patterson clearly spent years preparing for it.

Both skeptics and believers will be a little unsatisfied with the questions remaining at the end of the day. We know far, far more now than we did when Long began working, but, after three decades, there were bound to be missing or contradictory details. The necessity of relying on eyewitness testimony compounds this problem. (Among the key questions: if Patterson's footage featured a man in a suit, as his witnesses claim, what happened to it? If we can't find it, can we ever prove that it actually existed?)

The Making of Bigfoot also functions incidentally as a stinging indictment of the professional Bigfoot hunters (many of whom are interviewed here as well), on whom it places blame for lost opportunities to discover key evidence. In return, cryptozoologists have expressed serious concerns about--or outright ridicule of--Long's book.

Some of the unanswered questions are likely to remain that way because, as Long concludes, "The Old Bigfooters hadn't done their job. They failed to nail down the essential facts in the first few days after Patterson returned to Yakima from Bluff Creek." For example, no one attempted to discover when the film was actually shot, or with what camera, or where it was processed. Several contradictory accounts of the film's provenance emerged at the time, and no one seems to have dug very deeply into any of it. Early sasquatch researcher Rene Dahinden agreed, telling Long, "There are real dumb t'ings I should have done. The problem is that ve didn't do our job." (Long's phonetic transcription.) Interestingly, Dahinden eventually acquired most or all of the rights to the famous film, which he held until his death. For its part, the modern cryptozoological community has been swift to criticize Long's book. The internet is humming with chatter about and condemnation for this expose of one of cryptozoology's crown jewels.

The major counterclaim is that Long fell victim to one or more hoaxes when interviewing witnesses. Particular ire is reserved for the two most damaging witnesses: the man who claims to have built Patterson's Bigfoot suit (costume designer Phillip Morris), and "the Man in the Suit," as he has been called (a high school friend of Patterson, Bob Heironimus). Unfortunately, these two witnesses disagree on key details regarding the suit--something Long spends far too little time examining. Furthermore, after 37 years, there is no known physical evidence to back up the claims of either man.

I met with author John Kirk, President of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, and asked for his impressions. According to Kirk, "the trouble is that Bob Heironimus isn't telling the truth in any way, shape, or form here." Like many cryptozoologists, he believes that Heironimus is himself perpetrating a hoax. Kirk claims that his organization discovered the identity of Heironimus (then an anonymous source claiming to have worn a suit in the film) back in 1999. He also alleges that their investigation into his background uncovered "a woman who was present when Heironimus and two other individuals concocted this scheme [to falsely claim Heironimus wore the suit] in her living room so we were aware five years ago that this was a hoax, and we do not know how it was allowed to grow to this level."

Leaving aside this woman's specific allegation, Kirk's primary gripe with the book is shared by many cryptozoologists: Heironimus claims that he wore a horsehide suit built by Patterson himself, which he describes in modest detail, while Morris claims that Patterson bought and used one of his commercial gorilla suits--which he describes in precise detail. Surely, say critics, one or both of these claims must therefore be false. Since neither is clearly supported or debunked by the available evidence, both must be suspect.

After reading the testimony of both, readers may find that they, like me, are nonetheless inclined to believe that both witnesses are sincere. They may also both be largely correct. Assuming that Heironimus did in fact wear the suit (and this appears seductively likely), it is not clear how he would have known how it was made. At the time, only one commercial gorilla suit (Morris' high-end show biz costume) was on the market in North America, and Heironimus would probably never before have seen one in person. Also, Patterson was in the habit of claiming other people's work as his own (indeed, he told researchers that he invented the plastic clip used to seal bread bags), and both Morris and Heironimus agree that Patterson created the suit's mask (something also suggested by other witnesses' testimony). Moreover, many of the details Heironimus supplies, such as an unpleasant smell and a weight of around 20 pounds, are quite consistent with the latex and dynel suit Morris was selling at that time.

Even had Heironimus once known how the suit was built, it seems reasonable to suspect that after 37 years his recollection of the suit's materials could easily be faulty. Either of these circumstances (initial misunderstanding or later memory failure by Heironimus) would sync the two witnesses testimony. Since either is entirely plausible, it seems appropriate to allow both as possibilities. (Neither hypothesis, of course, would be easy to confirm.

The Making of Bigfoot is destined to make waves for some time to come. Its examination of Patterson's character throws a dark shadow over the whole affair, and stands as an embarrassing challenge to supporters of Patterson's film. Although all commentators agree that the sasquatch legend does not stand or fall on this footage alone, it has been too important for too long to be surrendered easily. In the absence of physical corroboration (i.e., the suit), the most dramatic testimonies in Long's book will remain contentious--as they should.

Skeptics should beware that these are deep waters. Neither the film itself nor the surrounding testimony has ever offered very much hard evidence for any interpretation. Further, poorly substantiated claims and counterclaims have been coming and going for decades without any final explanation emerging. It is one subject on which skeptics have apparently been wrong before. John Kirk points out that, "There have been too many other people who've come along to say they were the guy in the suit. This, I believe, is number four: three self-claimed, and one mistakenly--or perhaps deliberately--ID-ed as the man in the suit when he jolly well wasn't."

Nonetheless, Kirk offhandedly concedes, "Patterson, y'know, he's no angel. There's no question about that" This guy was a slapdash kinda guy that you really shouldn't do business with." Readers of Long's book will agree. "Roger Patterson's character fails the smell test," writes Long. "Sum up all the information about Roger Patterson, and it comes down to two simple points. One, he had the ability to conceive of and create a Bigfoot suit, and two, he was a crook."

To these, skeptics might add a third: tangled as this business may be, the creature in the film still looks an awful lot like a guy in an ape suit.

Daniel Loxton is Editor of Jr. Skeptic magazine. He writes and illustrates most of the Jr. Skeptic issues. He has also authored a number of articles and reviews for Skeptic magazine. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Race: No Such Thing...or is There?
by Paul R. Gross

A review of Race: The Reality of Human Differences by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele $27.50 Westview Press. 320 pp. 2004 ISBN: 0813340861

What response would you get were you to ask almost any college student or member of the current, self-identified American intelligentsia, "What is this society's most serious problem?" Almost certainly, a large proportion of your eligible interviewees would give this answer without hesitation: "Race!" But here is an oddity: The same interviewees who answer your question with "Race!" will assure you, also without hesitation, that there is no such thing. They will maintain that for humans the concept of "race" is meaningless: that there are no biologically significant human group differences, hence no human races.

This is a public catechism: it is recited regularly, with conviction and feeling, in the media and in the social sciences. The au courant, including well-known scientists and a good many official voices of science, insist that race is-- speaking of biology or genetics--a recent illusion, fostered by European imperialism and triumphalism. If pushed, most respondents will try to invoke some authority on this, although of course the vast majority has not understood or even heard of the relevant science. The reference is usually to "modern biology." Or, if the respondents have actually read some popular writing on the subject (or watched The Power of an Illusion, the much admired 2003 PBS documentary), they will appeal to some such visible scientific name as Gould or Lewontin, or to one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, or to a science journalist at, say, The New York Times.

Why then do governments set so bad an example? Why do they appear to insist that race does exist--as evidenced by the requirement that we specify, inter alia, our race (choose one of three? of nine? of seventeen?) in responding to the census-taker, or when completing an application for admission, bidding for a contract, being tested for a job? The answer you get, if you get one at all, will take this form: "Well, there is no such thing as race. We're all the same, and the little differences in various competences noted among us are due to upbringing, lifestyle, unequal social services, and the like. The differences we see are no more than skin deep; any difference we can measure is socially constructed. But: bad people argue that we are not all the same. Therefore we must assemble and keep data and records on this false category--"race"--so as to defeat the racists and to undo the social evils they propagate."

Did you follow that? If not, not to worry. That explanation is incoherent. There has long been the need for a scientifically reliable, accessible trade book on the biology and anthropology of human differences, on what the research actually says about them so far: about group variations in human genetics, morphology, and physiological function--and how those variations, such as they are, must have arisen in the course of our species history. An epitome thereof is what Vincent Sarich, a biochemist and anthropologist, and Frank Miele, a senior editor at Skeptic, set out to produce in their compact volume Race.

About the relevant qualifications of this pair there is no doubt. Miele is an able editor of Skeptic, Michael Shermer's literate journal investigating the phenomena of belief and of controversial claims on science, consciousness, and physical and social reality. Sarich, a professor of anthropology at Berkeley, was one of those young turks associated with the distinguished Berkeley biochemist Allan Wilson, who, forty years ago, first applied the then new molecular-level understanding of genetic change over time--the "molecular clock"--to the problems of primate classification and evolutionary history. They attacked the problem of genetic relationships and the timing of speciation among the apes (including us). Sarich contributed to the eventual recognition of the close relationship between gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans, and, more importantly, of the genetic difference--the genetic "distance"--separating these species.

Such a distance translates directly to a time of evolutionary separation. This work, expanded and refined in succeeding decades by the explosion of new methods in molecular genetics, especially the shift from studies of protein polymorphisms to direct study of the genes, established the chimps as our closest relatives and the age of our own lineage at not more than five million years.

"Race" is a word used widely and traditionally in biology to identify subpopulations within a species, that is, varieties, extended families, fuzzy subsets of individuals of common descent, sets more or less differentiable one from the other by appearance and/or behavior. It is no surprise that races or recognizable varieties in other species turn out to be distinguishable--although not necessarily easily--at the level of genetics. To put this another way: obvious external differences among the races of a plant or animal species turn out to result from genetic differences, although those can sometimes be subtle. But of course this must be so! For a race or variety to persist in time, its obvious distinguishing traits must be to some significant extent heritable. And if heritable, the traits must reside ultimately in genes (or more likely) in combinations of genes. "Traits" are the products of gene sets--genomes--acting in particular environments over particular life histories.

The book's title announces that Sarich and Miele recognize human group differences, and that however fuzzy these sets may be, they are still sufficiently stable as biological subpopulations, varieties, extended families, and "races" to be identified as such. Which word one uses doesn't matter: the physical reality does. They argue that the recognition of group differences, of races, among humans is very ancient, a cognitive capability (i.e., not an invention of capitalism or colonialism, as is claimed by all politically correct commentators), of a piece with other category-making competences we share. The burden of the book's central scientific sections is that those differences have a highly plausible evolutionary (and therefore genetic, biological) basis. Far from minimizing the significance of group differences, the relatively short history of our species implies that they must have been very strongly selected for in the several different environments in which our ancestors first flourished. None of which, as the authors insist (perhaps in vain) is any excuse for racism or racial discrimination.

It is not hard to predict the response to this book, not just the general response, but the scientific, technical one. For here, as in no other domain of contemporary science except, perhaps, in global climate research, political correctness reigns. There will be denunciations of Sarich and Miele; it has already begun. The general-professional weekly magazine Nature, based in London, is one of the two world-class journals of its kind (the other is Science, based in Washington). Nature commissioned a review from the leftish historian Robert N. Proctor, who relates the argument of this book, at gratuitous length, to questions of racial injustice. He connects, and thereby dismisses, its claim for the reality of race to the works of such often abused "raciologists" as Arthur R. Jensen and J. Philippe Rushton (with whose work in fact this book has very little to do). He describes the case made by Sarich and Miele as "an exercise in bombast and overstatement"; and, remarkably for this distinguished science magazine, he offers no analysis of the scientific arguments that are the core of the book. But in Race, those arguments do lead with hard, new, molecular-genetic data to a general conclusion. Here is a recent, independent statement of it:

[W]hen the taxonomic term [race] is used consistently across species, it's difficult to see any justification for the common assertion that human races are merely "social constructs." The motivation behind the assertion is a positive one, but denying biological realities at the outset is unlikely to lead to productive social dialogue on coping with human differences. (J. Goodrum. http://www.goodrumj.com/RFaqHTML.html)

There is no bombast in Race. It is an effort to define for the general reader, in broadest terms, those features of human genetics and anthropology testifying to a surprisingly recent origin of our lineage, but also to a long interval (before the present) of sufficient geographic separation of human subpopulations to have given rise to the currently recognizable races. The message is the opposite of typology: among the races of man, now that we can move freely over the planet and because we are a single species, able to interbreed, differences will become steadily less marked, the sets fuzzier. Eventually, in a distant future, they will disappear. Barring world-wide catastrophe, the prospects for re-segregation and new raciation are nil. But the differences acquired in our evolutionary history haven't disappeared yet. I know of no other popular work that makes this scientific case so simply and places it so clearly in social context as Race.

Would that it had been better edited! The publisher seems not to have invested much effort in bringing the separate contributions of the co-authors into tonal consonance. And the courageous decision on the part of the authors to publish such a book would have justified filling out and documenting more fully the core scientific argument. It is perfectly sound so far as it goes, but nevertheless sketchier than it needed to be given the commitment to book-length exposition. Still, the primary literature is available for those who care and know how to examine it. The best summary of its conclusions is like the one quoted above: Human subpopulations are "races"; they exist. They are familial subdivisions of the one species, Homo sapiens, to which we all belong. General readers who wish to be informed on the biology of race, in preparation for the next official hyperventilation on the subject, will do well to start with this book.

Paul R. Gross is University Professor of Life Sciences, emeritus, at the University of Virginia. His latest book, co-authored with Barbara Forrest, is Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press). He is also the co-author (with Norman Levitt) of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Originally published in The New Criterion Vol. 22, No. 8, April 2004 http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/22/apr04/race.htm#top

Judge sends evolution lawsuit to trial

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against a school district's practice of posting disclaimers inside science textbooks saying evolution is "a theory, not a fact."

The Cobb County schools' disclaimer, in the form of a sticker on the inside front cover of textbooks, could have the effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled in ordering the suit to go to trial.

"We're very excited about this," said attorney Michael Manely, who represents the six Cobb County parents who sued the system in August 2002.

The lawsuit argues that the disclaimer restricts the teaching of evolution,

promotes and requires the teaching of creationism and discriminates against particular religions.

The sticker reads: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

The judge weighed the constitutionality of the issue by applying a three-pronged test handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971. In order to get the lawsuit dismissed, the school board had to show that the disclaimer was adopted with a secular purpose; that its primary effect neither advances nor inhibits religion; and that it does not result in an excessive entanglement of government with religion. In his order signed last Wednesday, Cooper said the school board satisfied him on the first issue.

But he noted that while the disclaimer has no biblical reference, it encourages students to consider alternatives other than evolution. The judge found that the disclaimer could have the effect of advancing or inhibiting religion. "Indeed, most of the board members concurred that they wanted students to consider other alternatives," Cooper wrote.

The theory of evolution, accepted by most scientists, says evidence shows current species of life evolved over time from earlier forms and that natural selection determines which species survive. Creationism credits the origin of species to God.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled creationism was a religious belief that could not be taught in public schools along with evolution.

Science Group Says U.S. Budget Plan Would Harm Research


April 23, 2004

WASHINGTON, April 22 — The nation's largest general science group said Thursday that the Bush administration's proposed budget for the next five years could cut research financing at 21 of the 24 federal agencies that engage in it.

Among fields that would most likely be hurt, the organization said, are physics, medicine, oceanography, astronomy, geology, chemistry, psychology, biology, climatology, anthropology, ecology, mathematics, archaeology, meteorology, sociology and energy research.

"Particularly during a presidential election year, it's essential that policy makers and taxpayers understand the impacts of any federal budget changes, especially any proposals that may have implications for the pace of scientific discoveries in coming years," said Al Teich, director of science and policy programs for the group, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, based in Washington.

In unveiling his five-year budget in February, President Bush left out many specifics. Ken Koizumi, director of the association's budget program, mined government documents to try to fill in the blanks regarding federal dollars for research. Mr. Koizumi's figures, in an analysis made public Thursday at the group's annual forum on science budget and policy trends, are adjusted for assumed inflation.

In his analysis, Mr. Koizumi writes that Mr. Bush's pledge to halve the nation's budget deficit in the next five years, from its estimated level of $521 billion this year, would require "dramatic" cuts in various research budgets. The only research categories likely to escape the cuts, he said, are the military, domestic security and space exploration.

Mr. Koizumi said he projected that the lower spending would continue from 2005 to 2009 and "leave key programs with budgets well below recent historical levels."

The president's science adviser, Dr. John H. Marburger III, who attended the forum, said in an interview that the analysis was unduly pessimistic.

Research budgets during the Bush administration have soared to record highs, Dr. Marburger pointed out. And of the budget proposals covering the next five years, he said, only those for 2005 are firm in seeking to halt that growth, in select areas outside national defense. The projections for future years are speculative, he said, and some of the group's forecasts may end up being wrong.

"Maybe there are things we can focus on better," Dr. Marburger said of fields tentatively scheduled for budget cuts, "to make them a higher priority."

In a talk explaining his analysis, Mr. Koizumi conceded that his projection was "not a crystal ball."

"It's not a future," he said. "It's only one idea of the future. But I show these because it's an important consequence of the deficit. The president's budget proposed tough choices."

Federal support for research and development stands at $126.5 billion this year, and the administration has proposed increasing it over five years to $141.6 billion. But Mr. Koizumi found that large projected increases for research at the Department of Homeland Security and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration masked steep declines at all other nondefense agencies.

For instance, he said, federal budgets would decline 15.9 percent for earth science over the next five years, 16.2 percent for aeronautics, 11.8 percent for biological and physics research, 21 percent for energy-supply research, and 11.3 percent for agriculture research. Research budgets would drop 15 percent at the Environmental Projection Agency, 10.5 percent at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 4.7 percent at the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that supports a diversity of fundamental investigations.

Mr. Koizumi's analysis found that research financing even for the National Institutes of Health, whose budget has doubled in recent years, would drop 5.8 percent over the next five.

If the president has his way, Mr. Koizumi concluded, the general outlook for federal support of scientific research in that period is "flat or declining investments."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


Utah Holding Therapy Advocates File Suit

Unable to Keep Critic's Website Down

IN A BRAZEN attempt to muzzle their opponents, Attachment (Holding) Therapy advocates in Utah have filed a lawsuit in state court alleging "interference with contractual relationships" by anti-AT activists in the state.

Then a clumsy attempt to deny the First Amendment rights of those anti-AT activists by getting a court-order shutting down their website, http://www.KidsComeFirst.info (KCF), was set aside by the judge on the case on procedural grounds.

In early April, Hope for the Children (HFC), a "charity" apparently run out of the basement of a holding therapy clinic near Provo, Utah, and its sometime executive director, Laura Whipple Thalin, sued Alan Misbach, LCSW, an official of the state- and federally-funded Children's Justice Center in Provo, and others who allegedly operate and host the non-commercial website.

HFC and Ms. Thalin allege the website defames them by connecting them with the deaths of children from holding therapy and unfairly discloses a past conviction of Ms. Thalin's for harassment of a police officer. The website links to news reports about the regulatory woes of some of HFC's past executive directors and about the financial support that HFC has given to the clinic in whose basement it has operated. There are also links to other news reports about Ms. Thalin's accusations of sexual harassment against a state legislator who had sponsored anti-holding therapy legislation.

The two plaintiffs also allege in their suit that Mr. Misbach was personally responsible for the cancellation last month of a fund-raising dinner concert for HFC by a popular LDS musical composer, Kurt Bestor. News stories linked to by the KCF website report that Mr. Bestor and his agents say they cancelled the concert after learning of HFC's connection with holding therapy and of tickets being sold to the general public for what was supposed to be a private concert.

The plaintiffs initially got a temporary restraining order (TRO) from District Judge Lynn Davis, shutting down the KCF website for about ten days. Mr. Misbach requested that the TRO be lifted, complaining that he had been denied due process in not being allowed to argue against it before it was issued, and that in any event it significantly violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment.

In a hearing on Monday, April 19, Judge Davis agreed that the TRO had been improperly issued in the first place and lifted it. He also awarded costs, fees, and damages to Mr. Misbach, with the actual amounts to be determined later. A $2,500 bond posted by the plaintiffs for the TRO was impounded.

As of this writing, the plaintiffs have not corrected their procedural deficiencies. It is not certain that they will continue with the lawsuit, given the costly initial setback they received.

AT NEWS sends the latest news to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees. AT NEWS is the publication of newly formed *Advocates for Children in Therapy.* For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's new website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Loveland, CO
(970) 667-7313


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 682 April 21, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein

EXOPLANET DETECTED USING MICROLENSING. The presence of a planet orbiting a distant star has been deduced not by the customary method of observing a slight change in the star's spectrum when tugged by the planet but rather by the way in which a foreground star (17,000 light years away) and its attendant planet distort the image of a background star (some 24,000 light years away) through the process of gravitational lensing. Several detector groups are set up to monitor the passage of stars in the Milky Way passing behind or near foreground objects (dark matter? brown dwarfs? other stars?) and to make sense of changes in the light curve for the background objects. Ian Bond of the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh, Scotland and his colleagues at two detector groups, the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) and Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) report that in the case of one distant star the characteristic brightening light curve (heralding a lensing event) bore some extra spikes indicative of a lensing object consisting of two parts. Further analysis showed that the one object was only 0.4% as massive as the other, suggesting a star-planet pairing. The presumed planet has a mass of 1.5 Jupiters. (Astrophysical Journal Letters, 10 May 2004.)

PARITY VIOLATION IN ELECTRON-ELECTRON SCATTERING has been seen for the first time, adding to physicists' understanding of the elusive weak force. Parity is name for the proposition that if one viewed an interaction among particles in a special mirror that reflected in all three dimensions then physics would be the same in the ordinary and in the mirror world. Three of the four known physical forces---gravity, electromagnetic, and strong---respect (or "conserve") parity. The fourth force, the weak force, does not conserve parity, a fact established in the 1950s by watching the decays of cobalt nuclei. Since then parity violation has also been observed in other reactions, such as transitions between energy levels within atoms and electron-positron annihilations, but never before in low-angle, relatively low-energy electron-electron scattering. Electrons are non-nuclear particles; so why do they scatter via any kind of nuclear force, much less the weak nuclear force? Because the weak and electromagnetic forces, though normally very different in their attributes (the electromagnetic force keeps atoms together and governs light, while the weak force exerts itself only at very short range, within about the size of a proton, and is responsible for some kinds of radioactivity) the two forces are still, properly speaking, parts of a single underlying "electroweak" force. Therefore even though electrons interact chiefly through the electromagnetic force, there is enough admixture of weak-force to make itself felt, albeit only in an experiment of great delicacy. Researchers at SLAC scattered a high energy beam of polarized electrons off electrons in a liquid hydrogen target and measured the fractional difference in scattering rates when the intrinsic spin of the beam electrons were lined up with or against the direction of the beam. The observed asymmetry not only demonstrated that a bit of parity-violating force was present (in keeping with theoretical ideas about the weak force) but also provided a measure---in fact, the first quantitative measure---of the electrons' "weak charge," a commodity, analogous to electric charge, and indicative of the strength of the weak interaction between two electrons. One of the team members, Krishna Kumar of the University of Massachusetts (kkumar@physics.umass.edu), asserts that the statistical error of 30 parts per billion (ppb) is the most precise measurement of an asymmetry (the measured effect was 175 parts per billion) in a lepton scattering experiment (that is, one involving electrons, muons, or neutrinos). (Anthony et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming article)

A LAND SPEED RECORD FOR DATA FLOW, 6.25 gigabits per second (average rate) moving over an 11,000-km course, has been set a consortium of scientists form the CERN lab in Geneva and Caltech in Pasadena. This new result was announced at the Spring 2004 Internet2 Member Meeting in Arlington, Virginia (http://lsr.internet2.edu). The World Wide Web got its start at CERN, where particle physicists had to find ways of sending huge loads of data to collaborators. CERN will again need huge flow rates, perhaps at the 10-gigabit-per-second level, when they begin physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) now under construction. (http://ultralight.caltech.edu/lsr/)

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. It is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP. Physics News Update appears approximately once a week.

Institute in Sharjah denied recognition


By Hani M. Bathish

23 April 2004

DUBAI -The UAE Ministry of Health has refused to recognise the Sharjah-based Arab Institute for Nabawi Medicine and Herbal Sciences as an authorised institution for the teaching of traditional medicine and warned students graduating from the institute that they would not be licensed to work as traditional and alternative medicine practitioners in the UAE.

The institute, which opened in Sharjah a couple of years ago, offers the first degree course in traditional Islamic medicine, including Hujama and treatment using a variety of natural herbs.

An MoH official said the institute has not met the scientific requirements set by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, which in turn does not recognise the institute or its degrees.

Dr Abdel Ghaffar Abdel Ghafour, Assistant Undersecretary for Curative Medicine at the MoH, told Khaleej Times that the institute did not meet the scientific requirements for teaching medical subjects and as such the MoH cannot recognise its competence to teach these subjects, issue degrees and diplomas or provide medical treatment.

"The Institute was licensed to operate as a teaching establishment by the Economic Department in Sharjah, it was not authorised to treat patients. In the event the institute is offering medical treatment it is the municipality's responsibility to take the necessary action against the institute not the ministry of health," Dr Abdel Ghaffar.

He said that any one applying to the MoH to teach traditional medicine has to have the necessary academic credentials that indicate his/her competence to teach medicine.

When contacted by Khaleej Times, Shaikh Abu Al Fadl, the institute's director, had some harsh words to say about the MoH and its officials. He accused them of rejecting the medicine of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) by refusing to license his institute.

He said his Institute would continue to operate if not in the UAE then elsewhere and that the actions of a few will not dissuade him from teaching the traditional medicine of the Prophet, adding that the institute is licensed by the Sharjah Government.

According to the guidelines of the Traditional, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) Department at the MoH, no person shall practice traditional, complementary or alternative medicine (TCAM) in the UAE without first being licensed by the MoH.

Successfully passing the TCAM qualifying exam is a precondition for obtaining a license to practice.

To be eligible to apply for the TCAM exam, applicants should possess either a medical degree (MBBS, MBChB, MD, etc.) or should have earned at least a diploma or Bachelors degree through full time study from an accredited institute, college or university in any of the TCAM specialties approved by the MoH.

The exam will have a written and an oral component and if necessary a practical one as well. The written exam shall test the applicant on the basic sciences including anatomy, physiology, bacteriology, pathology, hygiene, and chemistry as related to the human body and mind.

The applicant shall also be quizzed on clinical sciences, nutrition, preventive and public health medicine, as well as professional ethics and any other subjects that the examining board may deem advisable.

TCAM practitioners in the UAE are prohibited from treating or offering to treat cancer, infectious or communicable diseases.

They are also prohibited from carrying out internal examinations, performing surgery, drawing blood, practicing midwifery, administering injections or prescribing controlled drugs, according to the UAE Ministry of Health.

God & Consequences


God? Buddha? Vishnu? Yahwah? Allah? Aliens? Doesn't matter. Here's the weird and wonderful world of religion in all its glory.
By Lilith Saintcrow-Murosako.
April 23, 2004
Friday Grab Bag
Hot juicy niggets of theological and spiritual news, served fresh. Since it's a Friday, and you need something to talk about at the pub tonight.

*If you home-school in Vancouver BC, you won't be able to use 'faith-based' materials anymore. (No more teaching Junior that Creationism is where it's at.) People who home-school their children because of religious beliefs are furious about it. My favorite quote? "Education Ministry spokeswoman Corinna Filion said parents who want religion in education should go to the independent school system." (quoted from article linked above.) Amen, sister. Amen.

* This last Valentine's Day, the National Alliance (one of the biggest racist groups in the country, thought to be one of Timothy McVeigh's inspirations) decided to switch to a new tactic- love. They are bombing neighborhoods with 'Love Your Race' fliers. Check out Metroactive's article on the new tactic. I guess even bigots need love too.

* Cult leader says he's Christ. Cult leader dies. Culties go from door to door saying that cult leader was Christ and is coming back soon. And if you don't join their cult, you're headed for damnation. Check out Julius Schacknow's followers, a group of New Englanders who are a little stranger than the rest. In 1997, Julius had these pearls of wisdom to give: "I'm your creator, and I've come to punish the world for their sins, for their ungodliness, their crookedness, breaking my commandments," he said. "You are interviewing Jesus, who has returned like a thief in the night." (quoted from article linked above.) His megalomania so strong it survived his own death in 1997. The punch line? He died at the home of one of his seven 'unofficial wives'...

* Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in blood transfusions. So why are they suing a doctor whose patient died after refusing one? Carla Grissom's aorta was nicked during gallbladder surgery, but she refused transfusions, dying less than 24 hours later. Her family is suing the doctor now. Just when I thought I head heard the depths of hypocrisy, a case like this comes along...

* Check out this contest in a British pub to come up with the 11th Commandment. I rather like, "Thou shalt not eat thine own bodyweight in fudge," but I am willing to be overruled.

Go forth and have a good weekend, sinners.

Reinicke backs creationism in schools


By Elizabeth Nelson / Daily Progress staff writer
April 22, 2004

Republican City Council candidate Ann Reinicke says she would approve of teaching creationism in public schools, but dissociates the belief from religion.

University of Virginia scientist Clive Bradbeer directed the question to Reinicke at a Wednesday candidate forum. He said Mayor Maurice Cox congratulated him for asking a question that had not been posed.

Bradbeer said Thursday that he asked the question after a friend said Reinicke volunteers with a religious organization, and his friend wanted to know her stance.

Reinicke responded yes, she would consider teaching in schools the theory that a higher power created the world. She elaborated in an e-mail Thursday but did not return repeated telephone calls to clarify whether she thought creationism belonged in civics class or science class.

"I believe in the separation of church and state. I do not believe that religious beliefs should be taught in public schools," Reinicke said. She said she does not consider creationism a religious topic.

"I could see that in the interests of understanding world cultures and world religions that various creation theories of various peoples could be taught," she said.

The panel and the small audience seemed surprised by both the question and the response. The other candidates chose not to address the issue.

Fellow Republican candidate Kenneth Jackson said Thursday that the question was inappropriate because councilors do not control curricula, but some people were concerned that Reinicke's opinion could influence School Board appointments.

"It sounds sort of even-handed" to teach creationism alongside evolution, Bradbeer said. "But creationism is not science. It's a religious belief. That's not something that should be part of a public school teaching."

Reinicke dismissed the concern, saying she would not base School Board picks on single curriculum issues. Her opinion on curricula carries no authority, she said, because the School Board and the state decide what children learn.

Arletta L. Dimberg, assistant superintendent for city schools, said she could not recall the subject being addressed in her four decades with the School Board.

Bob Hodous, local chairman of the Republican Party, said Darwin's evolutionary theories have been challenged. He mentioned that the Biblical creation story - from "and then there was light" to Adam in a week - follows evolution's theoretical order of cosmos, water, plant life and human life.

"I think that it's a mistake … to think that in any sort of education, it's inappropriate to give different views of how things actually evolved over time," he said.

"One of the things I like about both Kenneth and Ann, whether it hurts them or helps them I don't know," he continued, "neither one of them is afraid to tell you how they feel about something."

Contact Elizabeth Nelson at (434) 978-7245 or enelson@dailyprogress.com.

Montana Gubernatorial Candidates Support Creationism Two Candidates Favor Teaching Creationism In Public Schools http://www.channel3000.com/education/3032308/detail.html

POSTED: 5:11 p.m. EDT April 22, 2004
UPDATED: 5:35 p.m. EDT April 22, 2004

HELENA, Mont. -- Two of the six major-party candidates for governor of Montana said they support teaching creationism in public schools.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Keating and Ken Miller said schools should teach both the theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation and let students make up their own minds.

But Democrats Brian Schweitzer and John Vincent, and Republicans Bob Brown and Pat Davison, said alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory don't belong in public schools.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.

[Online exclusive] Forum debates connection between science and religion


By Joie Guner

Images of Jesus flitted across the screen as speakers prepared for the debate sponsored by the Veritas Forum on Wednesday night – a national student organization that travels to universities to discuss issues relating to religion.

The Ackerman Grand Ballroom nearly was filled to capacity to watch Jesus as a surfer in a loin cloth, Jesus with dreadlocks and Jesus promoting vegetarianism.

The debate discussing questions of free will and the application of science to the spiritual realm was introduced by Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy at USC.

"Truth is where what you are thinking of is as you think it is," he said.

Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine, said science can seek to explain all phenomena.

"Miracles are not a part of science. It's not what we do," Shermer said.

He showed images of what people considered to be spiritual phenomena but what he saw as having scientific explanations.

In 1996 an imprint of the image of the Virgin Mary was reportedly witnessed on the window of a bank in Florida. Shermer saw this not as a spiritual sign, as some did, but as the result of palm trees' shading portions of the window, causing water residue from the sprinklers to build up into the image.

"When people say science has nothing to say about God … that only applies to a God that doesn't do anything, a God that's invisible, immaterial," he said.

"If God does something in the world, then there must be some way to measure it. And if it's measurable, then it's a part of science," Shermer said.

Shermer believes humans don't possess a genuine free will because their actions are determined by cause-and-effect relationships in the universe.

"We feel free, but it's a pseudo-free will. It's not a real free will because there is no little person inside the head making decisions for you that isn't affected by all the causal variables in the world," he said.

As Shermer's debate opponent, Jeffrey Schwartz, a professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine, doesn't believe people's actions are predetermined.

"In the new physics, in quantum physics, the focus of attention can make the brain machinery work differently by holding a circuit in place," Schwartz said.

The Quantum Zeno Effect, what Schwartz refers to as the "new physics," states that with the focus of attention, brain circuitry can be held in place so that one's attention won't be influenced by other thoughts.

This allows people who have obsessive compulsive disorder to focus on new activity and hold a "healthy" circuit in place, which diminishes obsessive compulsive thoughts, said Schwartz.

"If all there is in the world is the brain, just this piece of complicated Jell-O in your head … then talking about making an effort or having willful action doesn't make sense," he said.

"There's no mind. There's no will. It's all an illusion," he added.

Whereas Shermer doesn't think the decisions one makes are independent of what was determined to happen, Schwartz believes that with the use of one's mind the brain can be rewired to do as one wishes.

The debate that followed, "Detecting Design in Biology," focused on whether intelligent design can be observed by science.

"For example, a cabbage plant is pretty intricately designed, but actually cabbage plants come from other cabbage plants, at least not immediately from an intelligent designer," Willard said.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Tour owner criticises Loch Ness marketing


A LEADING tourism operator in the Highlands believes that not enough importance is being given to Loch Ness as a tourist destination despite its international reputation.

Freda Rapson, the owner and managing director of Jacobite Cruises, which sails on the loch, has seen a 72 per cent rise in visitor numbers in the last year - up from 42,000 to 72,000 - and a 70 per cent increase in turnover from £449,000 to £787,000.

However, at the launch of the latest addition to the cruise company's fleet - a double-decker bus to cater for the growing number of tourists heading for the loch - Ms Rapson said: "I don't think enough credence is given to Loch Ness as a destination.

"Nessie is an icon. Whilst people may mock the 'green monster' toys, we find that on the boats the Nessie toys are one of out most popular selling items - everyone wants to take a Nessie home."

Last year, Jacobite spent nearly £500,000 refurbishing its two existing boats and buying a third, while extending its season to become a year-round attraction as well as offering floating conference facilities.

Ms Rapson said changing to a year-round attraction has helped attract more custom and urged others to follow suit: "Loch Ness is a must-see destination for people coming to the Highlands. But they won't come here if there is nothing to do and that's why opening during the winter has been a success for us. We have to give visitors a reason to come here or stay longer.

"On a beautiful winter's day with the snow on the ground and the loch flat calm, it can be as good an experience as they get in the summer."

Ms Rapson said about 60 per cent of tourists visiting the area are from the UK short-break market.

A marketing drive was launched in February to promote Loch Ness and its attractions on the global stage.

The initiative is organised by the Loch Ness Partnership Marketing Group, which is spearheading a marketing campaign to brand the area, its attractions and communities under one image.

The group also plans to develop a tourist trail around the loch and to stage a series of new events aimed at lengthening the tourist season.


Time to give tourists winter of content

DAVID ROSS, Highland Correspondent

A BOAT operator said yesterday there should be more for tourists to do in the winter, and this would bring greater numbers to the Highlands and Islands. Freda Rapson, owner and managing director of Jacobite Cruises, claimed Loch Ness proved a tourist magnet throughout the year, but was not taken seriously enough as a tourist destination.

"People won't come if there is nothing to do. We have got to give them a reason to come and stay longer," she said.

Jacobite Cruises extended its season into the winter this past year and was rewarded with a 72% increase in passengers from 42,000 to 72,000 and a 70% plus rise in turnover. Last year. the company invested £500,000 in buying a new vessel and upgrading its other two.

Mrs Rapson said that Nessie was "an icon" and the Loch Ness Partnership, which em-braces the public and private sector players around the loch, was now trying to market Loch Ness as a tourist destination around the world." Mrs Rapson unveiled her latest acquisition, a double decker bus to carry people to and from the cruise vessels.

She said: "We have run all winter. It has been a great success and we will continue to do that. A lot of visitors seemed surprised that they could still get on to the loch."

The boat owner added: "We get a lot of customer feedback and most of our visitors, perhaps about 60% are from elsewhere in the UK, although we have seen an increase in our Dutch numbers with the introduction of the Superfast ferry (from Rosyth).

"When they come to the Highlands, Loch Ness is a 'must do'. I don't think enough credence is given to Loch Ness as a tourist destination. People mock the green monster, but on the boats we find they are the most popular selling items. Everybody wants to take a Nessie home.

A BOAT operator said yesterday there should be more for tourists to do in the winter, and this would bring greater numbers to the Highlands and Islands. Freda Rapson, owner and managing director of Jacobite Cruises, claimed Loch Ness proved a tourist magnet throughout the year, but was not taken seriously enough as a tourist destination.

"People won't come if there is nothing to do. We have got to give them a reason to come and stay longer," she said.


Bigfoot's smaller but cuter Japanese friend


Every decent country needs some weird mystery in order to ooh and awe the young and attract feeble-minded tourists. Thus in America we have Bigfoot, or a sasquatch, or the Shaq or whatever you wish to call it.

Nepal, then, has those abominable Yeti, Scotland has the world's most elusive lake serpent, and England and France are chock-full of cobwebbed old castles, deep in the cellar of any one of which might rest the Holy Grail. The big puzzle down under, meanwhile, is just who really does eat Vegemite.

Japan, being a decent country, needs some similar intrigue to increase its quirk quotient among the competitive nations of the world, something beyond generic UFO hysteria, which by all rights can be claimed by any land with an access to sky.

Fortunately -- although largely unknown to visitors -- Japan does have its very own quixotic creature, one that creeps eerily about the national forests up and down the archipelago. If you're out to catch it, just remember one thing: Keep your eyes on your feet.

For Japan's answer to the unicorn is none other than a slithery, slippery snake.

"No, not a snake!" claims a pith-helmeted friend, a cryptozoologist hereafter called "The Hunter." "It's a 'tsuchinoko!' "

What's the difference? According to The Hunter, plenty.

When a snake moves, it undulates from side to side; a tsuchinoko, however, will wiggle its way straight ahead, rippling its spine up and down. Snakes tend to be slender; tsuchinoko can be as plump as bowling pins. Snakes merely hiss; tsuchinoko will chirp and snore. Snakes are proponents of gravity; tsuchinoko have been known to coil themselves together and spring through the air several meters at a time.

"Is that all?" I ask. "I mean, don't they have, like, razor-sharp fangs or scales that sizzle with fire or tails that can rattle the tune to "Bad to the Bone"?

It would seem not. Beer-bottle brown in color, tsuchinoko have often been described as having a wide head with Hello Kitty eyes and a mouth curled up in a veritable "Nice to meet you" grin. The "C" word haunts their every description.

"Cute? A tsuchinoko?" The Hunter is aghast. He reminds me the name "tsuchinoko" comes from an old word for "mallet" -- a "tsuchi" -- with nothing cute about it.

"Why, these are wild, vicious creatures! If I were to encounter one head on in the woods, I wouldn't know what to do!"

And neither would anyone else. For, you see, no one has ever encountered a tsuchinoko in the woods or elsewhere, though talk of their existence has dappled Japanese folklore for ages. In that respect, they can be grouped with bowl-headed "kappa" water sprites, blue-and-red ogres, a fully restored, booming economy, and all other Japanese myths.

The Hunter seethes at my lack of belief. For our world, he says, is full of incredible discoveries.

"People used to think the coelacanth was extinct, until one was caught off the coast of South Africa. Then look at the Annamite Mountains in eastern Indochina. With years of war slipping into the past, scientists have now found types of deer, birds and rabbits that before were just thought to be legends. Who is to say that somewhere in the Japanese mountains is not an odd species of snake that has yet to make its public debut?"

Japan, I hesitate to tell him, is a bit better traveled than the remote Annamite wilderness. And one would think -- with the Japanese passion for details -- that someone, somewhere, at some time, would have logged some tangible proof of a tsuchinoko. But there are no bones, no discarded skins and -- highly notable in shutterbug Japan -- no photographs.

"But," he smiles smugly, "there are eyewitnesses."

Uh-huh, just like there are eyewitnesses for Bigfoot, Nessie and Elvis. In fact, accounts of tsuchinoko "incidents" are all suspiciously similar. The observers were all old, near-sighted, and spied it from afar.

This, he snaps in return, does not account for the fact that in some communities -- in rural Wakayama or Okayama, for example -- fair numbers of folk even now claim to see tsuchinoko.

No, I admit, but mass hysteria does. Furthermore, scientists who keep up with reptiles note that a snake having just gorged itself on a frog or a mouse might indeed appear short, fat and subsequently waddle about in an odd manner -- not unlike, perhaps, a bumbling human stuffed with pizza -- and very close to the traditional depiction of a you-know-what.

But The Hunter then wields one more argument against my lack of belief: money.

For in an effort to draw visitors and their related travel business, some small communities have offered enormous rewards for the capture of a tsuchinoko within their borders. We are talking in the range of millions and millions of yen.

"So what?" I say. "It's like offering a reward for a mermaid. You can be fairly assured that you'll never have to pay."

"But," he smiles, "doesn't it make you want to hunt?"

Yeah. It does. So -- and don't tell anyone, please -- I did take part in a tsuchinoko camp a few springs back. After all, spring is the season of hope.

It is also the season when snakes yawn out of hibernation, and anyone out looking for reward money should be well forewarned. Much more likely than a tsuchinoko, they are apt to meet a snake -- and some snakes in the Japanese forests are poisonous.

"So what happened?" The Hunter asks. "Did you find it?"

"Yes, I did. I saw a tsuchinoko and a Bigfoot trading sips from the Holy Grail. But only from afar."

"Too bad!" he says.

And then he ends with the motto of all such wild hunts everywhere . . .

"Better luck next time."

To contact Thomas Dillon, send e-mail to marriedtojapan@yahoo.com

The Japan Times: April 10, 2004


Debunked!: ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience

George Charpak and Henri Broch
2004, The Johns Hopkins University Press;
168p., drawings. Translated by Bart K. Holland
astrology, conjuring, dowsing, psi


A happy, short, and informative book, this book by Nobel prizewinner George Charpak and his colleague in scientific investigation of the paranormal Henri Broch, is a plea for intelligent avoidance of deception. Much of the book is devoted to magic tricks. There is a wonderful ESP trick given here, illustrating the principle of surreptitiously conveying information so that it looks as if you have telepathically sent it. You can learn to stop your heart just like the yogis do, or at least you can make it seem so. The book is packed with many other examples: the satanic face that appeared in the smoke from the World Trade Center, firewalking, divining rods, amazing coincidences, and more. The authors are amused by these follies, they are happy to demonstrate physical explanations for them, but they are also indignant. They are convinced that minds poisoned by pseudoscience are more tractable by those in power. "Thus we are witnessing a mystification of knowledge, which results in a concept of the world in which many things are forever outside the understanding - and the control - of most people." Clear thinking by the public, they remind us, is vital for the action of democracy. Choices must be guided by rational thought, as much as possible. The book wonderfully proselytizes for the power of rational, scientific investigation. "Rationality, too, can lead to error," the authors remind us, "but a lot less often than ignorance and superstition will."

[ Reviewed by Rob Hardy, robhardy@earthlink.net ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Evolution debaters don't monkey around



About 300 people listened quietly with only a few whispered comments as an evolutionist and a creationist debated the origin of life Friday.

Dr. LaRoy Brandt, a science professor at State Fair Community College, opened the debate explaining how recent biological changes are evidence supporting the evolution of life over millions of years.

Thompson Willis, president of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America, said science can only be used to show diversification of life created with thought and intent about 10,000 years ago.

All lifeforms can reproduce, but populations do not grow out of control, Dr. Brandt said. Science can lead to the conclusion that life has evolved by the strongest surviving.

Dr. Brandt said that many offspring die before they are able to reproduce.

"That's that natural selection," he said.

Dr. Brandt used insects' ability to adapt to pesticides and bacteria's ability to become resistant to antidotes as examples of natural selection and the evolution that have been observed in a single lifetime.

That evolution has continued for millions of years, he said.

Mr. Willis used a comb made of petroleum as an example that every complex system whose origin has been witnessed since the advent of science has been made by man.

"Therefore, complex systems whose origins I have not witnessed have been created by acts of creation involving planning and work by one or more intelligent beings," Mr. Willis said. "I believe the Bible does give the best history of the world that we have and it does not include evolution."

Mr. Willis argued that observable scientific evidence does not mean life imitates the adaptation of bacteria to withstand medicine. Using the example of humans evolving from apes, he said evolutionists use science to make "extravagant extrapolations" to fit their belief.

"You can go into your kitchen and line spoons up in evolutionary sequence and say they came from forks," he said. "So 200 million years ago a fish sired a lizard? Is that proposition tested? No. Can't observe it, can't repeat it."

Many of those leaving the two-hour debate said they left with the same convictions they had coming in.

"We're both creationists and we think a lot of the evidence Dr. Brandt presented didn't hold any truth at all," said Andy Beck who came from Spring Hill with his friend Ben Black to hear the debate.

"The evolutionists, they take a very small thing like adaptation and make it very large," Mr. Black said. "They say that something can adapt into a species, which can never be proven."

John Hess of Warrensburg said he had his own convictions coming in and was not impressed by Mr. Willis's presentation.

"I think Dr. Brandt did a better job.," he said. "I think Tom said a lot of things that were anecdotal. There's a lot of clear misunderstanding."

Mr. Hess said hosting the debate in school is not a good idea.

"I don't think it's a good idea because you're just going to get a scientific argument put forward and a faith put forward and every one will think the same thing they did when they came it," he said.

Jennifer Mittelhauser, of Sedalia, agreed.

"Nothing will be resolved," she said. "It's not going to change anything. It may cause hurt feelings."

Mr. Beck said he thought the debate at the school was a good idea and said he is concerned that students are not being taught creationism.

"Any time you can open up different points of view about a subject, I don't see anything but a positive outcome," he said.


Candidates disagree on teaching of creationism


By Jerome
Tharaud/Havre Daily

Creationism in public schools and rising health insurance rates for school district employees were among the issues discussed at a public forum Thursday night for four candidates running for the Havre school board.

Newcomers Bonnie Benson, Mike Ley and Norman Proctor, and incumbent Kathie Newell fielded questions from a mediator for more than two hours at Havre Middle School. The four candidates are vying for two three-year seats on the Havre school board in the May 4 election. The event was sponsored by the Havre Education Association, the local teachers union. Questions were gathered from teachers and administrators, said HEA president Dusty Toth after the forum. The candidates each had three minutes to respond.

The candidates were evenly split on the issue of whether creationism should be taught alongside evolution in Havre classrooms.

Newell, who is the public relations manager at Northern Montana Hospital and has been on the school board since 1991, said she believes in presenting both sides of the issue and allowing students to make up their own minds.

"Let's give the students as much of the whole story as we can give them objectively without a whole lot of personal opinion injected," she said.

Ley, an employee of the Educational Opportunities Center at Montana State University-Northern and Stone Child College and a former Catholic priest, said the story of creation in the Bible should not be presented as science.

"They should be exposed to it as a story of faith - I don't believe faith stories are science," he said. "I think they're two very different things."

Benson, a barber and local business owner, was the strongest supporter of creationism.

"I think creationism should be taught," she said, adding that she appreciates the teachers in Havre Public Schools who allowed her children to do research on creationism.

"Sometimes we don't give kids enough credit to think for themselves," she said.

Proctor, area lab supervisor for the Montana Department of Transportation, said he believes religion and creationism should be taught at home.

"Our kids will learn our religion at home and to me, that's the most comfortable way to be," he said.

HPS does not have a specific written policy to address the teaching of creationism, HPS assistant superintendent Dennis Parman said today. He said the curriculum does not address the origins of life. If creationism is brought up by a student in class, Parman said, teachers use their own discretion in how to address the issue.

The issue has been controversial in other parts of Montana. In February the Darby school board voted 3-2 to endorse the teaching of "objective origins science" in the district's curriculum. Supporters say the policy simply encourages a critical analysis of evolution. Opponents say it is an effort to smuggle the teaching of creationism into public schools.

The candidates were also asked what the district can do to help district employees with the cost of health insurance.

Benson said "shaving down the budget" is an option.

"I'm not really sure what the answer is. But I do think it's a shame when teachers have to pay almost one-third of their income on health care, and yet we spend money in other areas without a thought," she said. Benson said the district will have to offer "quality wages and quality health care" to attract quality teachers.

Proctor suggested revisiting the idea of a self-insured heath insurance program for all schools in the state, as was proposed in the Legislature two years ago. Proctor said MDT employees are self-insured and pay about 40 percent less for health insurance than teachers are being asked to pay this year.

Newell said a self-insured plan does not necessarily prevent premiums from rising. She said the board can "work cooperatively in the negotiations process in an effort to try to shop for more efficient, more reasonably priced insurance products."

Ley said he would start by asking the teachers what they need and want, and then the board and the employees could work together to solve the problem.

"You may not be able to satisfy everyone, but putting our heads together, working for a common solution we would come up with the best solution," he said.

The candidates gave different responses when asked what their greatest concerns about the future of children in Havre schools are.

"My greatest concern is that we won't be able to continue to hire high-quality professionals," Newell said. Recruitment and retention of teachers should be a focus of the district, she said.

Ley said his greatest concern was "providing an atmosphere where learning can take place." Most children have an innate desire to explore and learn, and schools should foster that, he said.

Benson said her greatest concern is the district's dropout rate. She said strong elementary teachers can instill a love of learning in students and decrease the likelihood of dropping out in high school.

Proctor said student malaise concerns him.

"My greatest concern with the children is becoming disconnected and going into young adulthood without hope," Proctor said.

Copyright © 2004 Havre Daily News

Friday, April 23, 2004

Eating from the Bible


Jordan Rubin says a diet based on the Bible and eating the way God intended saved him from an incurable illness

Interview by Paul O'Donnell

Jordan S. Rubin is a nutritionist and a naturopath, but his "Maker's Diet," based on the health precepts Jordan found in the Bible, is not a product of his advanced degrees, but his own illness and his particular brand of Christianity. His regimen, which precludes pork or shellfish, is the latest to update the ancient Jewish kosher laws, outlined in the Old Testament, for Christians--not as a matter of devotion but of diet. We talked to him recently about how his plan incorporates (and goes beyond) kosher eating, about his own health, and his faith.

The story of your recovery is very compelling. Could you re-cap it?

Ten years ago, at age 19, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. In addition, I had everything from arthritis to diabetes to chronic fatigue to hair loss, anemia. I was a complete mess. In one seven-week period, I lost 20 pounds. This was after being a completely healthy 185-pound, college athlete on academic scholarship. I traveled the world trying every treatment you could think of, conventional medicine, alternative medicine. It all failed. I was in a wheelchair and was facing a very risky and life altering surgery.

How did you get back to health?

I was thumbing through the pages of what I call the most ancient of public health texts—the Bible. These Israelites were so far superior in their health. If I could adopt their principle, which science is just now beginning to prove, I felt I could regain my heath. And it wasn't just about regaining my health. I believed I was sick for a reason. I committed that, should I get well, I would spend the rest of my life changing the health of this world, one life at a time.

Did you open the Bible

looking for a health plan? I read the Bible every day. But until somebody told me that, that I need to follow the diet and lifestyle of the Bible, I never looked there.

Who told you?

It was a gentleman—I call him an eccentric nutritionist, [because] he's not a licensed nutritionist, but he taught on a very small scale that the Bible has the answers for health.

What is your faith background?

My parents were both Jewish growing up but when I was two years old, my parents became believers. I was raised as a Jewish person who believes in Jesus. I'm a Messianic Jew. I identify with the born-again Christian community, but I also believe that the Jewish roots of the Bible have a lot of wisdom and are very much needed today in the church. I always have faith that God never allows you to go through anything if He's not going to use it later, and so I was waiting for something. I'm just glad that what helped me was not the Venus flytrap therapy or the fetal sheep-cell injections or the building a steel cage around my bed to prevent electromagnetic poisoning—and these things all I did.

Did your family keep kosher?

My mom grew up kosher, my dad didn't. But my dad's a naturopath and a chiropractor, and so we ate healthy, but we didn't eat kosher. It wasn't until I realized what the Bible said, what history showed and what science tells us, that I made that decision when I started this plan—that I was going to avoid pork, shellfish and other things. The neat thing is that I was one of those people who was extremely ill but I was also eating well. Dr. Atkins was my doctor for a period of time—he wasn't about weight loss as much back then. Barry Sears, the author of "The Zone," was my nutritionist. So it wasn't like I wasn't getting well because I was eating junk food. I was doing what everybody thinks is the best way to do things.

What's the basis of the Maker's Diet?

The first key is to eat a healthy diet. There are two criteria for me to eat a food. Number one, it had to be created by God as a food. Number two, it needs to be consumed in the form that is compatible for the human body--in the form that God created it. Throughout history, the world's healthiest people have known how to preserve, prepare and consume food in its healthiest form. So if it's animal food, it means that the animals were raised healthy. If it's vegetable food, it means the vegetables were raised healthfully. When it comes to grains and dairy, the least processing and the preparation that allows them to be more digestible is the way that history tells us to eat. And it's also using the laws of nature to preserve instead of the man made processes that we put into place.

Paul O'Donnell is Beliefnet's Culture Editor

Rational Scientific Theories from Theism


Preliminary questions and (brief!) answers:

What is Theistic Science?
Theistic Science, a branch of each theoretical science, derives general theoretical principles from the laws transmitted through scientific revelations from God.

What it Theism?
Theism is the belief that God not only created the universe of mind and nature, but also continually sustains its operation. In contrast to: atheism (no God); pantheism (God equals the universe); panentheism (the universe is a `small' part of God); and deism (God created an independent universe).

Who is God?
We take as the starting point the Theism of the main western religions, that: God is One; God is Infinite; God created and sustains the universe; God is the Source and the object of all Love and Wisdom. I work in a `Universal Christian' framework, in which Jesus Christ is identified as the Human form of the Divine, and is therefore God for the whole universe. You may work differently :-) . We may compare our views eventually!

What Scientific Revelations are there?
Many religions, mystics and philosophers have described operations of the spirit, mind and nature, but the most accurate and comprehensive descriptions I have found come through Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). These will be used as a starting point.

Do we have Laws from revelations? Revelations involve changed personal states of consciousness and perceptions of new states of being. We are interested in those revelations which provide the general principles governing spirit, mind and nature. We especially need revelations which deal with the detailed causal relations between these. Such revelations are rare, but fortunately exist, for example with Swedenborg. If you know of any other revelations, I would like to hear.

Is this Science?
Science wants to know `how things work'! It wants its causal explanations and theories to be grounded in empirical evidence, in manners confirmable by anyone with sufficient training. Nevertheless, science uses logic, mathematics, and other theories that are not themselves given empirically.

Science is therefore open to new sources of theories. It will examine them for coherence, completeness and simplicity. It will determine whether or not they are supported by the evidence. New theories may suggest new experiments and observations.

Theistic Science will propose theories of mind and nature, and will initiate a process which (we hope) will ground these theories empirically. It will, however, use theories about God which are more readily grounded from revelation than from experiment. From the empirical-scientific point of view, the Theistic part of theistic science is a `theoretical superstructure', to be accepted to a greater or lesser extent.

Is this Religion?
Religion tells us `how to live'.

Therefore, religion needs to know, among other things: what is true, how things work, and what has happened in the past. Religion is therefore distinct from science, but needs to use the results of science. Religion does use statements about the way the world is, and therefore needs to be related to science.

Theistic science deals with `what is' and `how things work', but not `how to live'. It will of course make predictions of the consequences of different actions, but will leave you free to choose.

There will therefore be a separation of `church and state', between the injunctive content of religion, and the factual content of theistic science.

Of course, some will see any statement of Theism as blurring this separation. But, in general, you are free to act as you wish in the face of God.

Do we need revelations? If revelations purport to be received, then we should at least consider them because:

1.If actually from God, they will (if properly understood) contain true statements,
2.They might contain ideas (especially about ends and causes) which cannot otherwise be discovered,
3.They might help us solve problems that are otherwise apparently insoluble, such as the "Hard Problem" concerning how minds could be related to brains, or the nature of purported "miracles", or the validity of "near-death experiences",
4.They might help us understand previous revelations that turned out to be not properly understood,
5.They might link together hitherto-disparate systems of beliefs, and finally
6.If someone is talking to you, there is some moral obligation to listen.

Are you feeling quite happy with all this?
Or: are you feeling a strange gnawing in your stomach, or feeling the ground falling away from under your feet, since these ideas appear to be `the end of science as we know it', and now we might have to admit all sorts of strange and distasteful beliefs?

In response, I say: "Don't Panic!" I know how you feel: once I was that way myself!

So: we will proceed carefully, considering rational foundations, so we will always have somewhere to stand. And we will consider consequences carefully, to avoid swallowing more than we can digest. You might feel skeptical, but read The Myths of Skepticism. by Michael Sofka (or local copy).

What are the principles of Theistic Science?

The Three Fundamental Premises of Theistic Science

1. The universe was created and is run by God through spiritual laws of order.
2. These laws cannot be discovered but are transmitted through scientific revelations.
3. Scientific revelations are rational in structure and serve as the guiding theory for all scientific research.

(from Leon James' article "Theistic Science")

What is this website, theisticscience.org, about? The aim of this site is to present introductions, expositions and consequences of a set of scientific theories that start with the three premises above, and connect (where rational) to current scientific theories and practices. The main connections will be with physics, psychology and philosophy, but much more remains to be done to connect, for example, with biology and physiology.

Author: Ian J. Thompson, revised March 2003.
Email address: I.Thompson@theisticscience.org

Introduction to Spiritual Genetics


SPIRITUAL GENETICS is a branch of Theistic Science. Other branches include: Spiritual Geography || Spiritual Psychology || Substantive Dualism || Doctrine of the Church || Discrete Degrees (Ian Thompson) || Doctrine of the Wife || and others--see Swedenborg Glossary.

The genes of consciousness are the organic substances that make up human consciousness. (For a pre-Swedenborgian background on "genetic culture" see article 1 and article 2).

Theistic Science is the scientific method of extracting knowledge from revelations (see Ian Thompson and Leon James). The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1771) serve as the source of both content and method for theistic science. This is the theoretical part of theistic science. The empirical part is the activity of identifying the theoretical elements in the world around us and within us, that is, the spiritual world and the natural world. These two are linked by rational laws as are the mind and the body. By describing the growth of consciousness we are describing the rational laws of the spiritual world into which our mind is born and from which it acts in correspondence with the body. The relation between spiritual laws and natural laws is like the relation between cause and effect. Obviously there is great advantage in describing the growth of consciousness since the steps of this development are descriptions of the spiritual causes of all phenomena in the physical universe. This sounds surprisingly like what is said in ancient literature like the Indian Sacred Books that teach rational ideas such as the idea that mental things are more real than physical things. Neither is it surprising that the ancients were aware of rational truths because during the infancy phase of the human race on earth there is knowledge given about the entire course of evolution. This ancient knowledge was known as the Science of Correspondences and refers to the methodology of knowledge extraction from Divine revelations to the human race.

UFO No Longer Unidentified



UFOs aren't necessarily alien spacecraft. And some purported UFOs aren't UFOs at all. Take the example from Apollo 16.

Image above: High-resolution, digital scan of a full frame from the original Apollo 16 film showing the object in question (top center) and its position relative to the moon. Reflections in the window are also visible (left and right). Credit: NASA

Beginning their return from the moon to an April 27, 1972, splashdown, Astronauts John Young, Thomas Mattingly and Charles Duke captured about four seconds of video footage of an object that seemed to look a lot like Hollywood's version of a spacecraft from another world.

The thing was described as "a saucer-shaped object with a dome on top." The images were captured with a 16mm motion picture camera shooting at 12 frames per second from a command/service module window. The object appears momentarily near the moon. As the camera pans, it moves out of the field of view. It reappears as the camera pans back. It appeared in about 50 frames.

Some very bright people recently worked hard to analyze that footage. Their conclusion was that the object wasn't at all what some observers thought it seemed to be. There is no indication the Apollo 16 crew ever thought the film showed anything special.

A group headed by Gregory Byrne of Johnson Space Center's Image Science and Analysis Group completed a report on its investigation earlier this year. They used a video copy of the film initially, then did a high-resolution digital scan of the original film for detailed analysis.

They stabilized images to correct for camera movement, and then aligned multiple frames in a sequence. One thing that showed them was that the object appeared to move slightly with respect to the moon, because of parallax brought about by slight camera motions and the nearness of the object to the camera.

The investigators also combined several frames in a sequence, to give them higher resolution and greater contrast than individual frames. The combinations showed them more clearly a "linear feature" attached to one side of the object. They also looked at archived images from other Apollo missions.

Bottom line: "All of the evidence in this analysis is consistent with the conclusion that the object in the Apollo 16 film was the EVA [spacewalk] floodlight/boom. There is no evidence in the photographic record to suggest otherwise."

IRS raids business, home of creationist



Museum owner questions timing

Brett Norman@PensacolaNewsJournal.com

Internal Revenue Service agents are investigating a Pensacola man who operates a creationist theme park and museum off Old Palafox Road and who they say is evading taxes on more than $1 million in income.

This week, federal IRS agents raided the home and businesses of Kent Hovind, 51, in the first block of Cummings Road, confiscating all computer and paper records of financial activity since January 1997.

The creation-science evangelist argues against evolution around the world. He also sells literature and videos supporting his views and charges admission to his Pensacola theme park and museum through a number of entities.

But in a sworn statement made to obtain the search warrant served Wednesday, IRS agent Scott Schneider said none of Hovind's enterprises has a business license in Escambia County or has tax-exempt status as a nonprofit enterprise.

"Since 1997, Hovind has engaged in financial transactions indicating sources of income and has made deposits to bank accounts well in excess of $1 million per year during some of these years, which would require the filing of federal income taxes," wrote Schneider.

The statement is based on financial records plucked from Hovind's garbage from July 2002 through March 2004, statements from a former employee, Internet research and public records.

Hovind, who has not been charged, suspects he is being targeted because of his religious beliefs. He adamantly denies wrongdoing.

He questioned the timing of the search - one day before federal income tax returns were due.

"They've got to flex their muscle this time of year," he said. "I guess they chose me. It will be somebody else next year."

He referred questions about business practices to Glen Stoll, director of Remedies at Law, a frim based in Edmonds, Wash., that represents him.

"This is based on misperceptions," Stoll said. "They don't understand how the church is created and registered, how it operates under church law, which is entirely separate from secular authorities."

Friday afternoon, Stoll sent a letter to Schneider, demanding the return of the property. Attached to the letter wasdocumentation that Hovind's operations - including Dino Adventure Land, Faith Baptist Church, Creation Science Evangelism and CSE Enterprises - operate under an umbrella organization recognized by the State of Washington.

Alycyn Culbertson, special agent and spokeswoman for the IRS, said Friday she had not received the letter and could not respond to it. She denied that the timing of the search was relevant.

"I assure you that we don't go to inordinate lengths to make sure something happens around April 15," she said. "But if the investigation is at that point around that time, we don't hold it up either."

Hovind has a May 18 court date to face three misdemeanor charges arising from his refusal to obtain a permit to construct a metal building on his property. Hovind said the building meets or exceeds building codes, and he objects to the permitting process as an undue expense on the church.

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