NTS LogoSkeptical News for 16 May 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Sunday, May 16, 2004

"Taking His Licks: Colorado Attachment Therapist Disciplined, Again"

On February 18, 2004, Attachment Therapist Neil Feinberg, LCSW, agreed to another three-year probation by the Colorado Board of Social Work Examiners.

The action stems back to a complaint filed on September 5, 2001, that Feinberg had used a "licking technique" while he "rested on his elbows atop [an 8-year-old client]." The child was at the time "pinned on his back underneath [Feinberg]" when Feinberg licked the child from neck to forehead.

Feinberg admitted to the licking charge. There was, however, no further the mention in the stipulation about the child being put in a dangerous and undoubtedly painful restraint position -- one that is likely to restrict breathing. Nor is there mention about the risk of transmitting disease to the child through saliva, such as hepatitis, CMV, Epstein-Barr virus, or herpes.

Feinberg claimed he learned the licking method from Martha Welch, M.D. and that it is "an intrusive technique, effective with children" with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Dr. Welch is a psychiatrist on the faculty of Columbia University and author of the still popular book "Holding Time" (1988). Welch runs AT centers in New York and Connecticut. She trains and supervises parents in coercive restraint practices, including "compression" holds. Welch made several training tapes (one with a federal grant), and in one such tape, a small boy, who appears to be lying under his father, is urged to lick his mother's face.

A long-time consulting therapist for the Attachment Center at Evergreen (or "ACE"; recently renamed the Institute for Attachment and Child Development), Feinberg was also an associate of the currently imprisoned Attachment Therapist Connell Watkins. The unlicensed Watkins claimed at her trial to be working under Feinberg's social work license. Before being killed, 10-year-old Candace Newmaker endured a compression session in which her large adoptive mother lay on top of her and licked her face.

The stipulation states Feinberg claimed to have "experimented with the 'licking technique' for a very brief time, two to three months, and has not utilized it for well over three years." But to all who have seen it, Feinberg's most unforgettable role as therapist-from-hell was in a 1993 AT training tape made by ACE in which Feinberg demonstrates his considerable abilities to terrorize and torture children. At one point, the action is curiously freeze-framed while Feinberg yells in the face of a nine-year-old boy restrained on his lap: "You don't need to be scared of me....I'm not going to hurt you. I'll yell at you. I'll piss you off. I'll spit on you. I'll lick your goddamn face, but I'm not going to hurt you."

The nature of Feinberg's previous offense is unknown. That charge resulted in a three-year probation (beginning November 9, 2000), so it is possible that the licking incident occurred during that probationary period.

Feinberg stipulation and order 2/18/04:

*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 *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 website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Loveland, CO

Silver Fleece Awards

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago
'Silver Fleece' Awards Warn Consumers of Anti-Aging Misinformation

The third annual "Silver Fleece" Awards, which expose the most outrageous or exaggerated claims about slowing or reversing human aging, will be announced March 6.

Aging expert and author S. Jay Olshansky will announce the winners as part of a presentation at the International Conference on Longevity session "Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and Reality" in Sydney, Australia at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, will present two awards, one for a product and one to an organization.

The award -- a bottle of vegetable oil labeled "Snake Oil" -- will be presented (in absentia) to each award winner.

The awardees were selected by three leading scientists in the field of aging: Olshansky; Leonard Hayflick of the University of California, San Francisco; and Bruce Carnes of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Olshansky and Carnes are authors of "The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging" (Norton, 2001). Hayflick is author of "How and Why We Age" (Ballantine, 1996). The three will be presenting scientific papers at the plenary session of the conference.

And the winners are:

The Silver Fleece Award for an Anti-Aging Product goes to a suite of anti-aging substances created by Ronald Klatz and Robert Goldman, co-founders of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) based in Chicago, and sold on the Internet by Market America, Inc.

A short-term supply of the entire suite of anti-aging nutraceuticals, Prime Blends(TM), and cosmeceuticals, Timeless Prescription(TM), costs more than $560 when purchased through Market America.

According to Market America's website, "Prime Blends(TM) is a family of newly developed anti-aging nutraceuticals that work to help maintain healthy levels of hormonal activity and metabolism as we age. All three products, Ultra Prime(TM) Secretagogue, Prime Factor(TM) and Prime Dreamz(TM) Sleep Assist, represent the most advanced, natural anti-aging products in the world."

Product details include other bold statements such as "Release HGH and help free yourself from the aging process with Prime(TM) Ultra!" and "Turn back the clock and release the youth within through Ultra Prime, one of the Prime Blends family of scientifically advanced nutraceuticals!"

This award is given annually to "the product with the most ridiculous, outrageous, scientifically unsupported or exaggerated assertions about intervening in aging or age-related diseases," says Olshansky.

"Market America uses clever hype and pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo to convince consumers that 'nutraceuticals' and 'cosmeceuticals' can alter the aging process," says Olshansky. "Klatz has stated in recent television interviews that he does not personally endorse any anti-aging products."

The criteria for this award included an evaluation of the purported health and longevity benefits, claims about scientific evidence supporting the product, the degree to which legitimate scientific research is exaggerated -- and the profit potential for those selling it.

"There are no known dietary supplements that have been proven to alter the aging process or increase the body's production of growth hormone," Olshansky said.

"About the only thing these anti-aging products do is fatten the wallets of those selling them."

The Silver Fleece Award for an Anti-Aging Organization goes to the International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine.

This award "honors" the organization that contributes the most to disseminating misinformation or products associated with the claim that human aging can now be stopped or reversed.

The International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine is a publication of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), the recipient of the first Silver Fleece Award for an organization in 2001.

"This alleged 'journal' is particularly misleading because it gives the false impression that it is a genuine scientific journal and that what is published in it is peer-reviewed," says Carnes. "It is little more than an advertising vehicle for every conceivable anti-aging product."

"The International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine is not a recognized scientific journal," says Hayflick, the former editor of the respected scientific journal Experimental Gerontology and a top authority on the biology of aging.

"What I find reprehensible about this 'journal' is that advertisers who publish in it can then claim there is scientific evidence to support their outrageous assertions by pointing to the publication in an alleged scientific journal."

Says Carnes: "It's unfortunate that so much anti-aging quackery is surfacing just when scientists are making substantive progress on understanding the processes of aging. I believe that the research being done today will eventually give rise to interventions with the capacity to modify the biological rate of aging in humans."

As authors of hundreds of scientific articles on aging, Olshansky, Hayflick and Carnes are thoroughly familiar with both the legitimate, ongoing research in the fields of aging and the anti-aging claims that have been made historically and in recent years.

Olshansky, Hayflick and Thomas T. Perls are co-editing special issues of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences on the topic of "Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and Reality," which will be released this summer. The special issues will feature the latest developments in the scientific efforts to understand and eventually modify the biological rate of aging in humans, as well as the hype behind the current anti-aging movement.

In 2002, a paper authored by Olshansky, Hayflick, and Carnes and endorsed by 51 leading scientists in the field of aging presented a position statement warning the public that "no currently marketed intervention has yet been proved to slow, stop or reverse human aging." The three also warned consumers in their article entitled "No Truth to the Fountain of Youth," which appeared in Scientific American.

"The entrepreneurs, physicians and other health care practitioners who make these claims are taking advantage of consumers who cannot easily distinguish between the hype and reality of interventions designed to influence the aging process and age-related diseases," said Olshansky.

The first annual Silver Fleece Awards were given to Clustered Water(TM) and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Chicago.

The second annual Silver Fleece Awards were given to Longevity by Urban Nutrition and CLONAID(TM).

For more information about UIC, visit http://www.uic.edu

Stars Favour Vajpayee

The Rediff Election Special
May 12, 2004

Dr Kirti Raj, 36, has an MA in political science and a PhD in astrology from Tirupati University.

He is a third generation astrologer with eight books on astrology to his credit.

His father K Nagaraja Rao has trained close to 5,000 astrologers, who practise all over India. Dr Raj is a hot favourite with all politicians, and his office in Jayanagar, Bangalore, hums with activity whenever elections are announced.

This time, he has conducted pujas for as many as 138 candidates in his office, employing 32 priests. Right now, pujas for individual candidates are going on, and will continue until the results are announced on May 13.

Last time, his poll predictions, published a month in advance of the election by leading newspapers, turned out to be quite accurate. Dr Raj shared his predictions for Election 2004 exclusively with rediff.com

Atal Bihari Vajpayee's horoscope has a very good yoga, the Vasumathi yoga, just now. I predict he will definitely become prime minister again. The National Democratic Alliance will rule the country again.

I predict the BJP will get around 280 to 290 seats this time. Just before the last election, I had predicted that the BJP would be in power until 2007. I sustain that prediction.

Vajpayee will have some major health problem after one-and-a-half years. At that time, there will be a leadership change in the BJP. L K Advani has a very good chance of becoming prime minister at that time.

As for Sonia Gandhi, she has no scope at all now. She definitely will not become prime minister this time. The position of her party too will remain the same. In fact, it might become 5 or 10 seats less. Next time, Priyanka might lead the Congress to victory.

As for Karnataka, I predict that a new alliance of the BJP and Janata Dal will come to power. Ananth Kumar (Karnataka BJP president) has a guru dasha right now. He is going through a very good period, and his horoscope will help the prospects of his party, as he is its leader.

As for S M Krishna, his time is not good. He will have a bad patch after this for seven years. Since he leads the Congress in Karnataka, his party too will suffer. He may play a role in the new regime, but he will not become chief minister again.

As for Siddaramiah of the Janata Dal, he has a good dasha and period right now, but his horoscope does not show that he will enjoy power.

Whichever government comes to power in Karnataka, it will not last a full term. Last time, I had predicted correctly that Krishna would become chief minister and rule Karnataka for five years. Elections will take place again here after two years.

These elections are taking place between the lunar and solar eclipses. This is why all the exit polls will finally be proved to be false.


Rajen Sharma is a Rashtriya Punchang pandit and a gold medallist in astrology.

He has been teaching astrology at Mumbai's Sagar Institute Of Education for the past 14 years.

Number 13 is again going to play a crucial role in Vajpayee's life -- the counting of votes is on May 13 [Editor's note: Number 13 was unlucky for Vajpayee in 1997, when his first government collapsed in 13 days. In 1998 his government fell in 13 months. But after that the 13th Lok Sabha completed its five-year term with Vajpayee as PM.]

Vajpayee's planetary position favours him to form the next government. It will also helps his government function smoothly.

May 13 is the day of purvabhadrapad, which is lucky for Vajpayee.

During that period Vajpayee's Jupiter and Mercury will form a triangle. Jupiter talks about expansion, so it will help him form government. Whoever is a part of the government will enjoy friendship with the NDA and won't leave it.

Vajpayee's health will favour him and he will be in a position to handle power till May 28, 2011.

The swearing-in ceremony will also have an impact on the government, so Vajpayee must select the date properly, as he did in 1999.

The planetary position will help the Congress increase its number of members in the Lok Sabha. But it will not be enough to form the government.

Three astrological facts are working against Sonia Gandhi.

* Her planets Venus and Mars are opposite and are rivals. * Neptune is opposite to Lagna Bindu. * Pluto is opposite to Uranus.


Ravi Kishore Narain is senior vice-president of the Patna-based Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. He has been consulting Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav for more than a decade. He has been an astrologer for over three decades.

Vajpayee entered certain antardasha from March 12, 2004 in the mahadasha of Jupiter and, therefore he has exalted lagna with a powerful rajyoga karka.

Vajpayee will receive the support of the people, and this will include more minority votes than ever before.

His NDA coalition will return to power although there could be changes in the composition of the partners.

Reportage: M D Riti in Bangalore, Vijay Singh in Mumbai and Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Physicists probe ancient pyramid

By Claire Marshall in Teotihuacan, Mexico

The largest particle detector in Mexico is being built inside a pyramid in the ancient settlement of Teotihuacan.

The equipment will detect muons, tiny particles that are created when cosmic rays bombard the Earth's atmosphere.

Dr Arturo Menchaca and colleagues from Mexico's National Autonomous University hope that by tracking the muons through the pyramid, they can find cavities.

This could indicate whether the kings of the ancient people who built the site are also entombed within it.

Yellow spikes

"Down we go - and mind your head," Dr Menchaca says, as he adjusts his yellow hard-hat, and lowers himself down the rusting iron steps in to a dark 2,000-year-old tunnel running beneath the Pyramid of the Sun.

It is a 100m walk along the cramped tunnel to the team's new laboratory, a plastic shed set up in a cavern in the bowels of the structure.

Above, many thousands of tonnes of rock and earth silently press down. The experiment is costing half a million dollars. At the moment, it resembles a large, flat metal plate, connected to a box of wires with a monitor displaying a flickering yellow line.

This is the machine that tracks the muons, sub-atomic debris left over when cosmic rays smash into molecules in the Earth's atmosphere.

They travel at near the speed of light and pass through solid objects, leaving tiny traces. When a muon hits the receptor, the yellow line leaps up and down in spikes.

Possible burials

"The idea is to try to discover density variations in the pyramid," Dr Menchaca told BBC News Online.

"In order to do that you either need to drill holes, or find something that goes across your volume.

"These cosmic rays are very penetrating radiation. Some of them go through this pyramid, and some of them are absorbed. "The amount which is absorbed depends on the material which it finds. If we find more muons than we expect, then there is less matter in that part of the pyramid".

Less matter could indicate the cavity of a burial chamber.

This experiment taking place beneath the Pyramid of the Sun is already attracting the attention of the nation.

Urban centre

Leading daily newspaper El Universal's cultural editor, Maria Elena Matadama, believes that it will take our understanding beyond the realms of Indiana-Jones-type speculation.

"It's very important because Mexicans today see these old sites as dead cities - just as mountains of stone," she said.

"Everyone climbs up and down the pyramids without understanding what happened there. We must understand that they were cities - like the city of Mexico."

In the humid cavern, all around are traces of this early civilisation, known locally as the Teotihuacans.

Not much is known about them apart from that they inhabited this site around 700 years before the Aztecs.

The city they built here was once the largest metropolis in the Americas. It rose and fell around the same time as ancient Rome.

Touching the past

Dr Arnulfo Martinez is thrilled to be involved in an experiment which is crossing the boundaries between physics and archaeology.

He points at one rocky wall. "You see this? This is original plaster - you can see the fingerprints of the people who layered it there.

"What's exciting is that we are using cosmic debris to uncover an ancient Mexican mystery."

"The building of this place is very linked to who we are. What's important is that people get excited about science because of these kinds of projects."

It will take more than a year before any tangible results are obtained.

But then Teotihuacan, the "City of the Gods", has kept its secrets for more than two millennia. The world will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/05/13 10:33:36 GMT


Bletchley veterans tackle 'toughest puzzle yet'


Enigma code solvers try to unravel 1748 inscription on estate's shepherd monument

Sandra Laville
Wednesday May 12, 2004
The Guardian

For 250 years it has exercised the minds of theologians, historians and scientists. Charles Darwin was observed pondering its meaning, and Josiah Wedgwood spent many an hour attempting to decipher its cryptic inscription. Some hope it may hold the secret of the whereabouts of the Holy Grail.

Books have been written, documentary films made and poems penned in an attempt to explain it, but the mystery contained in an 18th century monument in the grounds of Lord Lichfield's estate in Staffordshire has eluded interpretation.

In the hope of succeeding where so many others have failed and finally cracking the conundrum, a group of veteran codebreakers from Bletchley Park arrived at Shugborough House near Milford yesterday, armed with proven grey matter and years of experience in deciphering the German enigma codes.

Tucked away within the 900-acre grounds, they found their puzzle: a stone monument built around 1748, containing a carved relief of Nicholas Poussin's Les Bergers d'Arcadie II in reverse. The picture shows a female figure watching as three shepherds gather around a tomb and point at letters within an inscription carved upon it, which read: Et in Arcadia Ego! (And I am in Arcadia too.) Beneath it the letters O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V. are carved, and underneath them a D and an M.

The staff at Bletchley Park, called in to cast an expert eye upon the monument, could not resist the challenge and turned to some of the surviving members of the team who had spent the second world war deciphering codes.

Viewing it for the first time Oliver Lawn, 85, one of the former employees of Bletchley Park, had no doubt that there was a secret to unravel, contained both in the picture and the inscription beneath, and probably based upon missing letters from classical texts.

Mr Lawn, a Cambridge maths graduate who was among the first civilians to be recruited to Bletchley in 1940, deciphered more than 5,000 German codes during the war, using the enigma machine.

He and his colleagues helped to divert German bombers from British cities by breaking the codes that set the radio beams the Nazis used to lead their planes to the target. The successes of the decipherers is thought to have shortened the war by two years.

Their work was so secretive that it was not until recently that Mr Lawn's wife, Sheila, another Bletchley veteran, discovered what his role had been.

But while Mr Lawn normally succeeded in cracking the German wartime codes, he believes the enigma of Shugborough's monument will not be unravelled easily.

"It is totally different in terms of difficulty to what I used to do during the war," he said. "I think you need classical knowledge as well as ingenuity. This is a language rather than a mathematical code.

"Within its genre I would say it's the most challenging I have ever had to tackle. What we need is a bit more intelligence about the family from the documents held at the estate to try and find a key to breaking this. There is always a key, but if this was a code between two people and only they knew it, it could be almost impossible to decipher."

Over the years there have been a number of theories posited about the meaning contained in the Shepherd's Monument. Chief among these is the belief that the connections of the estate's creators, the Anson family, with the grand masters of the closed society of Knights Templar, and the supernatural myths surrounding the estate - where lay lines meet, rivers cross and UFO spotters regularly gather - are evidence that the carving holds the secret to the Holy Grail.

Other solutions are more prosaic. The current Lord Lichfield's great-grandmother believed the letters represented the lines of a poem from Roman mythology about a shepherdess: "Out of your own sweet vale Alicia vanish vanity twixt Deity and man, thou shepherdess the way."

There is always the possibility that the letters mean very little. Richard Kemp, the estate's general manager, said: "They could of course be a family secret, which everyone in the family knows about and which is of little consequence. But it's like Everest, you climb it because it's there. There's a code here, so everyone wants to unravel it."

UFOs Gone Wild, Men From Mars Visit Mexico


Charles R. Smith

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Mexican Air Force released a recent video of unidentified flying objects. A Mexican Air Force surveillance aircraft searching for drug runners spotted the UFOs, which were invisible to the naked eye. The UFOs were only visible on a special infrared camera. Journalist and long time UFO supporter Jamie Maussan announced that the objects were real and "intelligent." The UFOs reportedly changed direction and surrounded the plane chasing them.

The Mexican Defense ministry confirmed to Reuters it had provided the video to Maussan. The video was taken by the Air Force on March 5 over the eastern coastal state of Campeche.

"They were invisible to the eye but they were there, there is no doubt about it. They had mass, they had energy and they were moving about," stated Maussan.

Buck Rogers

While X-files and UFO extra-terrestrial believers say the video is clear proof of some form of spacecraft visiting Earth, the sighting can be attributed to the Bush defense budget and not little green men. The unidentified aircraft that shadowed the Mexican surveillance plane are reportedly part of a squadron of new stealth strike craft operating from the U.S.

The aircraft are equipped with special infrared light panels that are only visible to special cameras or night vision gear. The panels are used in formation flying outside of hostile airspace to prevent the aircraft from colliding with each other or with support aircraft such as refueling planes. The panels are especially handy during aerial refueling with U.S.A.F. tankers, allowing the tanker operators to visually monitor the stealth planes in total darkness.

The UFOs were spotted on radar as they approached and tailed the Mexican Air Force surveillance plane. However, F-117A Stealth fighters normally operate inside the U.S. with special radar reflective panels attached to their planes in order to be tracked in commercial airspace and not attract attention.

The new stealth aircraft, working inside non-hostile airspace, would most likely be similarly equipped with radar reflective devices. The new stealth aircraft is said to embody the latest technology, including special light panels designed to hide the plane in broad daylight. The Mexican sighting confirms that the U.S. Air Force possess more than one of the new jets.

Korean UFOS

Both North and South Korean sources have recently reported similar UFO- like aircraft in the skies of Asia. The sightings are almost identical to the reports filed by the Mexican Air Force.

The North Korean official media outlet recently announced that U.S. spy aircraft had violated the DPRK airspace over 200 times. The new stealth aircraft has not been identified but the CIA and South Korean intelligence have obtained new data on North Korean missile deployments not normally visible from space.

The Kim Jong-il regime is busy building two underground missile bases designed to house new medium-range ballistic missiles. A South Korean intelligence official has told the country's Chosun Ilbo newspaper that American intelligence has identified ten ballistic missiles and mobile launching pads at two locations within the DPRK - in Yangyok, near the North Korean capitol of Pyongyang, and in Hochon in the country's south. The missile bases are armed with extended range variants of North Korea's SCUD and Nodong rockets, capable of striking Guam, Hawaii and deployed American forces in the Asian theater.

The sudden discovery of the new underground missile sites and the recent re-evaluation of the North Korean nuclear projects by the CIA show that the U.S. has some very special intelligence assets that can monitor, track and target the DPRK.

Utah Donuts

In addition, the recent UFO sighting in Mexico came within days of a report of a classified aircraft powered by an impulse type engine flying over Utah. The aircraft left a distinctive "donuts-on-a-rope" contrail in a flight over the Utah Wasatch Mountains.

The March 21st sighting of the pulser jet showed that a conventional chase plane shadowed the classified aircraft, which left a smooth, unbroken, contrail. A mechanical engineer from Salt Lake City photographed the contrasting exhaust plumes.

A pulsejet engine was used during World War II by the German V-1 Buzz bomb, given its name by the distinctive burping sound of the pilot less cruise missile as it flew to its target. The new pulse detonation engine or PDE technology is capable of delivering thousands of times the power of the simple V-1.

U.S. jet engine makers are currently experimenting with several PDE designs. PDE engines use electronic ignition that forces a powerful shock wave down the exhaust tube. The shock wave is so strong that some of it actually bursts out of the front air intake, creating a donut like smoke ring around the exhaust chamber.

More than a decade ago, a similar classified aircraft was spotted and photographed by observers throughout the U.S. The aircraft left a telltale trail of puffs along a long contrail in the sky. However, sightings of the pulser engine aircraft dropped off during the late 1990s.

The sudden reappearance of the "pulser" aircraft, like the UFO sighting in Mexico, is an indication of the increase in the "black" budget of the Bush administration as compared to the Clinton administration. Sources inside the Pentagon confirmed that several super-secret aerospace programs cancelled or cutback by the Clinton administration were revived by the Bush administration in its pursuit of "RMA" or the "Revolution of Military Affairs."

Fly Robot

The recent upsurge in U.S. black aerospace activity is also evident in the unmanned field. Several secret unmanned aircraft projects are currently underway including a stealthy silent helicopter, a spy plane and a super-sonic strike aircraft.

Recent tests of the non-secret X-45 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) project have been very successful with the robot plane dropping a simulated bomb and scoring a direct hit from an altitude of 5 miles. The new robot craft are slated to armed with a wide assortment of 21st century energy weapons including a solid-state laser capable of delivering up to 20,000 watts of power on a target, a microwave transmitter so powerful that it will knock out radars and computers from nearly a mile away and new pulse energy bombs that can burn out electronics.

Some doubt the UFO story being something as mundane as a new classified jet. Others doubt the value of stealth technology and wonder if the defense money is well spent. I am certain of both.

Lockheed aircraft designers once noted that the only way to know if a F-117A Stealth fighter was around was if something suddenly blew up. Yet, the F-117A is first generation stealth.

During a recent air show, I spotted a group of Chinese Air Force officers closely inspecting a U.S.A.F. B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on display. The PLAAF officers photographed and eyeballed the stealth bomber from every possible angle.

"Doesn't that bother you," I said to the B-2 pilot, pointing at the mass of PLAAF officers surrounding his plane with cameras.

"Nope," he replied with a smile. "It's the only time they will see it."

RADIO APPEARANCES The Jerry Hughes Show on Friday, 5/14/4 at 3 p.m.
Eastern time. Show information at http://www.cilamerica.com. The Charlie
Smith Show on the American Freedom Network on Monda, 5/17/4 at 11 a.m.
Eastern time. Show information at http://www.amerifree.com.

Scientists Say Crater Is Result of a Killer Meteor



May 14, 2004

A buried geological formation off the northwest coast of Australia, long thought to be remnants of an old volcano, is actually a 125-mile-wide crater formed by a devastating meteor strike 251 million years ago, scientists asserted yesterday. It was that meteor, they went on, that caused the largest mass extinction in the Earth's history.

Researchers led by Dr. Luann Becker, a geologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said seismic and gravitational measurements showed that the depression, called Bedout (be-DOO), had the general shape of a crater. More significant, they said, jumbled and melted minerals in the rocks could have formed only in the violent upheaval of a meteor's hitting the Earth, not from cooling lava.

"This is not a volcano," Dr. Becker said. "It's an impact crater."

Dr. Becker and her colleagues presented their findings in a telephone news conference yesterday. An article describing the work also appeared on the Web site of the journal Science yesterday.

At the end of the Permian geological period and the start of the Triassic, 90 to 95 percent of the species in oceans died out, as did at least half of the backboned species on land. The die-off appears to have happened quickly, at least on a geological time scale, in less than 160,000 years and perhaps in a much shorter time.

The new data is the latest evidence offered by this team of scientists arguing that a meteor strike caused the Permian-Triassic extinction. Most scientists believe that a meteor striking the Earth near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico caused the best-known mass extinction, the one that led to the disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

In 2001, Dr. Becker; Dr. Robert J. Poreda, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester; and other scientists published a paper in Science that said they had found soccer-ball-shaped molecules known as buckyballs in sediments dating from the Permian-Triassic boundary. They said the buckyballs contained helium and argon that had an extraterrestrial chemical signature, suggesting they had come from a meteor.

No one else has found buckyballs at the Permian-Triassic boundary. Dr. Becker said she knew of no one who had even looked.

Last fall, Dr. Becker, Dr. Poreda and Dr. Asish R. Basu, another professor at Rochester, reported in Science that the same sediments that had yielded the buckyballs also contained meteor fragments and tiny glass spheres that they said had formed out of droplets of melted rock.

Skeptics, however, questioned those findings. The shards did appear to have come from outer space, but they were probably much younger, these geologist said, because they contained minerals that easily weather away.

Other scientists who have studied impact craters remain unconvinced that a meteor hit Bedout. The gold standard of proof for an impact, mineral crystals within the crater fractured and transformed by the shock of impact, is still lacking.

"I am very skeptical about this, personally, but I'm not always right," Dr. H. Jay Melosh, a professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona, said. "I'm reserving judgment for a while. Things just don't add up."

Dr. Michael Rampino, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at New York University, said of the current Science paper, "It's another piece of evidence, but it's still equivocal."

The idea that Bedout is a crater is not new. An Australian petroleum geologist, Dr. John Gorter, first suggested it in 1996, basing the surmise on seismic images. Dr. Becker said she called Dr. Gorter to ask about his research and learned that oil companies surveying Bedout, situated under a couple hundred feet of water and about two miles of sediment, had drilled two cores there.

No one, including Dr. Gorter, had ever looked at the cores, though.

Dr. Becker and Dr. Poreda flew to Australia in February 2003. "We literally dusted off the boxes and opened them up," Dr. Becker said. She said even at first glance the material looked like the tumultuous jumble that would be found at an impact crater.

Dr. Poreda said closer examination backed up the first impression, providing much stronger evidence of Dr. Gorter's supposition. Crystals of almost pure silica in the rock could not form from lava, Dr. Poreda said, and crystals of the mineral feldspar show signs of shock. "There are things that are never seen in volcanic rock," he said. "This is as close to a smoking gun as you get." The skeptics, he said, "never look at the preponderance of the evidence."

If the evidence for an impact does become more compelling, that would raise a geological mystery: whether meteor impacts can set off volcanic eruptions. Huge eruptions in India coincided with the dinosaur-killing meteor impact 65 million years ago. Similar eruptions in Siberia were occurring at the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction.

Dr. Melosh, however, says that the energy of a meteor strike is far too small to make the sort of crack in the Earth's crust that would lead to such an eruption.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Planned U.S. missile shield is useless, scientists warn


Posted on Fri, May. 14, 2004

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON - The multibillion-dollar U.S. ballistic-missile shield due to start operating by Sept. 30 appears incapable of shooting down any incoming warheads, an independent scientists' group said yesterday.

A technical analysis found "no basis for believing the system will have any capability to defend against a real attack," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 76-page report, "Technical Realities."

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency rejected the report, whose authors included Philip Coyle, the Defense Department's top weapons tester under President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2001.

"Even the limited defense we are mounting provides a level of protection" against an accidental or unauthorized intercontinental ballistic-missile launch "or a limited attack where we currently have no protection," said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman. "It would be irresponsible to not make it available for the defense of our nation and our people."

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, concurred with the report's findings. The Bush administration should stop buying missile-defense interceptors until they are proven to work through "combat-realistic" operational tests, he said in a statement.

The first U.S. deployment involves 10 interceptor missiles based in silos in Alaska and California. The initial goal is to protect all states against a limited strike from North Korean missiles that could be tipped with nuclear, chemical or biological warheads.

Boeing Co. is assembling the shield, which would use the interceptors to launch "kill vehicles" meant to pulverize targets in the midcourse of their flight paths, outside Earth's atmosphere.

Guided by infrared sensors, the vehicles would search the chill of space for the warheads. So far, the interceptors have scored hits five times in eight highly controlled tests.

The report's authors said showing such a "hit-to-kill" capability was not the primary, or toughest, missile-defense challenge.

Even unsophisticated countermeasures remain an unsolved problem, they said.

For instance, inflatable balloons or other decoys coated with a thin polyester film could be given the same infrared signature as a warhead, the scientists said. The project could also be confused by sealing the warhead in a large balloon so the kill vehicle could not pinpoint its exact location, or tethering several balloons to it.

The General Accounting Office, Congress' nonpartisan investigative arm, said last month the system's effectiveness would be "largely unproven" when it became operational.

© 2004 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN Exposes "Attachment Therapy" to Wide Audience

The estimated million-plus readers of Scientific American will be introduced to "Attachment Therapy" with the June 2004 issue of the magazine, in general release this week.

SA Columnist Michael Shermer has written "Death by Theory" (page 48), a concise and chilling account of the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker at the hands of Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder in April 2000. The point of Dr Shermer's column is that Candace was killed by pseudoscience that should be banned "before it tortures and kills children again."

Dr. Shermer's column will no doubt give a large shot in the arm to the visibility -- and urgency -- of the anti-Attachment Therapy movement. Please bring Dr. Shermer's column to the attention of anyone who is "on the fence" about this issue.

The article quotes from Attachment Therapy on Trial (Praeger 2003), a book that analyzes the Watkins/Ponder trial and Attachment Therapy in general.

Meanwhile, Jean Mercer, Ph.D., of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, goes into this same topic in depth for the current issue of Scientific Review of Mental Health Practices with "Violent Therapies: The Rationale behind a Potentially Harmful Child Psychotherapy" (see http://www.srmhp.org/0201-violent-therapies.html).

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 *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 website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Loveland, CO


Niall Shanks's God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross's Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design both received favorable reviews in Science (2004 May 7; 304: 825-6). All three authors are members of NCSE, and Forrest just joined NCSE's board of directors. In his review of these two books along with the "intelligent design" anthology Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, Steve Olson noted that "studying intelligent design hypotheses can be frustrating because they seem so obviously inspired by nonscientific considerations. When rebutted, intelligent design theories tend to ignore the objections, claim that all will be revealed in the future, or rework their arguments to draw the same conclusions in a slightly different way." Olson said that Shanks "deftly skewers the scientific pretensions of intelligent design creationists" and praised Forrest and Gross for thoroughly describing and meticulously documenting their motivations and strategies, warning that "creationism appears again to be in a period of ascendancy."

Subscribers to Science can read the review here:


NCSE is pleased to announce a further addition to Voices for Evolution: a statement from the Empire State Association of Two Year College Biologists, reading in part, "the E.S.A.T.Y.C.B. opposes anything less than the full textbook presentation of evolution as it is currently accepted by the biological community."

For the full statement, go to: http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=2 and click on Statements from Educational Organizations, and then click on Empire State Association of Two Year College Biologists.

And be sure to visit the ESATYCB web site at: http://www.esatycb.org


The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study's Keys to Science Institute is an educational partnership among high school science teachers, the BSCS scientific and professional development staff, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and distinguished scientists and educators. In summer 2004, BSCS will again hold the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology institute as well as two new institutes, Evolution and the Nature of Science and Content Updates through Scientific Inquiry. Topics to be discussed in the Evolution and Nature of Science institute include: science as a way of knowing, pillars of evidence for evolution, evolution among the Galapagos's finches, humans as an evolutionary force, and strategies for handling controversy about evolution in the classroom.

For more information, visit the BSCS web site:

For more detail on these and other stories, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

Forthcoming in July 2004: Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism: http://greenwood.com/books/BookDetail.asp?dept_id=1&sku=GR2122

Friday, May 14, 2004

C-SPAN needed in this state


By: J.C. 'Miles' Ventimiglia, Miles to Go May 13, 2004 C-SPAN provides a an unblinking look at Congress, and Missourians should want the same for their often cantankerous General Assembly. But do not hold your breath waiting because state lawmakers would never not let it happen. Maybe it would cost too much. Maybe.

C-SPAN consists of TV cameras giving an unfiltered view of which lawmakers rail about what ridiculous outcome this or that piece of Commie left-wing or Nazi right-wing legislation will have on the majority of America's apathetic non-voters. Taken together, C-SPAN shows democracy, warts and all, at its worst. Which is also a fine definition for democracy at its best.

The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network should be asked to provide the same type of coverage for the Missouri General Assembly as it provides in Washington, gavel to gavel, and not just near the end of the session. Funding could be similar to that used to fund C-SPAN in Washington, which is a 5-cent fee added to cable bills.

But as I learned during a visit to Jefferson City a couple years back, lawmakers fear to have even a reporter's camera on the chamber floor. Cameras might show an angry legislator shaking her bony fist, or a hung-over newcomer stumbling into a desk, or worst of all, the look on a man's face as words belch from his twisted lips. The ban is one reason there are no dramatic photos or TV footage - and there could have been some this session - showing the debate in the House over broad-ranging changes in how citizens are able to use the courts to redress legitimate grievances; no one got to see pictures of shouting matches over the House cutting Medicaid for 48,000 adults; no reactions were seen to allegations that increased education funding pitted the needs of some children against the needs of those who would lose health insurance. The other reason is the media cannot afford to have cameras present at all times to catch the occasional interesting shot.

From a lawmaker's perspective, the situation is perfect just as it is. Rather than provide the means where the people can witness debates for themselves, Republicans and Democrats comfortably "spin" each story, telling people what to think from a biased perspective. If a paper like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gets out of line by writing an occasional editorial - including the now famous "House of Hypocrites - telling the plain truth - that can be dealt with, too. The House first tried to chill the free speech of the Post and Kansas City Star by taxing the papers. When that looked too obvious, spin doctors portrayed the venerable Post as a left-leaning rag that would like nothing better than to see Ted Kennedy as president for life.

The foremost reason Missourians deserve C-SPAN coverage of the General Assembly is that the public should be able to see for itself - without the media "middle-folk" who provide news coverage and political spins - what their lawmakers are doing, or not doing, whether that means engaging each other angrily over this year's filibuster, sleeping on the House floor or not bothering to show up for the day's work.

C-SPAN should also be used to educate the public about the process for giving life to laws. Or strangling them to death. People should have, by virtue of TV cameras, a seat at the table when committee meetings are held. They should be able to see debate stifled. They should see how some bills are tortured to death simply because the chair - representing the party in power - opposes legislation that might not fit a political agenda as opposed to what might be best for the majority of Missourians. This look at what goes on in committees would apply equally to both parties. The public deserved this year to hear the committee review of Rep. Susan Phillips' bill to make "intelligent design" part of Missouri's science curriculum. The public also deserved to hear the discussion on Gov. Bob Holden's attempt to plug corporate tax loopholes to fund education without having to take away money from health care or education.

Among other reasons for wanting gavel-to-gavel C-SPAN coverage is civility. Lawmakers are less likely to treat each other rudely - to act high-handedly because they are in charge, or like Luddites because they are not - if they know that back in their home districts there are people who enjoy sitting on their couches while munching Cheezy Poofs and watching lawmakers make mules of themselves.

C-SPAN would be a welcome addition to the public dialog about what happens in Jefferson City. But etting the public see legislators in action is the last thing some legislators want.

©Sun-News of the Northland 2004

Democracy in action


by Josh Mahan

A rogue school board majority can sometimes forget how representative government works.

Darby reminded its board after last Tuesday's election, and ousted, 2 to 1, the majority that sought to pass the controversial objective origins policy.

Pro-Intelligent Design board members were looking for an anti-evolutionary test case, but election results show that the district's citizens are happy with the current science curriculum, and displeased with the prospect of expensive lawsuits.

The election was also one of the district's largest, attracting 50 percent of registered voters.

"We'd like to remain in the 21st century," said current board member Mary Lovejoy, who was not up for re-election. "We had good voter turnout because people believe in the Constitution, and the majority of the people in this community have an understanding of what science is, and how it should be taught."

The election effectively ended the board's bid for an objective origins policy, which was facing a second reading before incorporation into the district's curriculum. Darby still faces a lawsuit over a series of closed meetings related to the hiring of a district superintendent, and Lovejoy said that turning over the intact minutes of those meetings is "the right thing to do."

According to District Clerk Caroline Rennaker, the two candidates opposed to objective origins received almost twice as many votes as the pro camp. Winners included incumbent Bob Wetzsteon, who received 757 votes, and challenger Erik Abrahamsen, who garnered 737 votes. Incumbent Chair Gina Schallenberger received 352 votes and challenger Robert House mustered 351 votes.

Abrahamsen still wants to see a second reading of the objective origins policy so it can be "voted out."

"It's like everybody had a cloud over their head, and now it's been lifted," Abrahamsen said. "District voters have spoken loud and clear."

One of the first tasks facing Abrahamsen is the hiring of a new superintendent; the last one resigned this spring over differences with the pro-objective origins camp.

"We just need to get the community back together," Abrahamsen said. "Then we can take problems as they come, instead of creating them."

Review of standards could revive the evolution debate


The State Board of Education on Tuesday issued its charge to the Science Curriculum Standards Committee, which is about to begin a full-scale review of the controversial subject that sent shock waves around the world five years ago.

In 1999 the board approved new science standards that de-emphasized evolution. An uproar followed, and Kansas became the subject of international media coverage - and late-night talk show jokes.

Who exactly will be on the curriculum committee hasn't been decided yet, but the members will be educators and staff of the Department of Education. Each state board member is allowed to recommend one member for the committee, which will write the new science standards. The committee is expected to discuss its recommendations in public meetings throughout the state in August and submit them to the state board by December.

The board charged the committee to:

* Review the current science standards as well as national and other state standards in light of what students should know and be able to do by each grade level tested.

* Review the format of the curricular standards to ensure they are understandable and usable.

* Determine the level of specificity needed at each level - standards, benchmark or indicator - in terms of the content to be learned and complexity of skills assessed on the state assessments.

* Ensure standards are written in specific and measurable terms to provide greater instructional clarity for at least each grade level tested.

* Recommend essential indicators to be tested in the state testing program, including additional indicators local districts may use to enrich and enhance their curriculum.

* Review the modified and extended standards to include in the revised standards.

Curriculum reviews are conducted every three years. The history and government standards are also being reviewed this year.

Board members are trying to think positive this time and hope the science standards review will not rekindle the turmoil of 1999. When moderates gained control of the board in 2001, the science standards were changed to reinstate evolution as a unifying concept of science. Those standards have remained in place.

Do board members approach the potential revival of the debate with fear and trembling?

"Oh heck no," said Sue Gamble, moderate board member from Shawnee who supported the current standards. "I'm not anticipating anything. I'm going to approach it just as I do any other standards review. It's wrong to treat science any differently."

Gamble admitted that she had "communiques with some individuals in terms of creation and intelligent design (the belief that life was designed by a higher power). I refer them to the science committee. All committee meetings are open to the public this year. Any controversy will come up there this summer."

Calling himself "an eternal optimist," Steve Abrams, conservative member from Arkansas City, said, "I would hope we could avoid controversy."

Abrams said that the science standards are "not a burning issue" in his district, but that if put to a vote, his constituents probably would vote in favor of intelligent design and not emphasizing evolution.

Kenneth Willard, moderate member from Hutchinson, said he was not looking for any controversy. "Hopefully, we can avoid the brouhaha of the first time. I'm hopeful we can get through it without that kind of dissension and negativity and get the standards revised satisfactorily for everyone on the board.

"I'm not afraid of it, but it's such a controversial thing," Willard said.

Former education chief discusses religious right in Darby speech


By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

The recent dispute in Darby over "intelligent design" in school science curriculum mirrors religious disputes on a national scale, former Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy Keenan said Tuesday.

"We have become a society that wants quick fixes and simple answers," Keenan said in an interview Tuesday. "When you've trusted employers who let you down, and the natural beauty around you is taken away by forest fires, it's natural to want to hang on to something simple (like intelligent design). The point is, that's a private matter that should be held in a private church, funded with private dollars. But the religious right keeps trying to inject it into the political arena."

Keenan said conservative religious advocates are looking nationwide for places where there's low community involvement, little school oversight and no strong network of parents who scrutinize school board candidates for such agendas. She was bringing her message to a gathering of the Montana Human Rights Network in Hamilton on Tuesday evening, part of a multi-stop swing through Montana this week.

Three members of Darby's five-member school board attempted to change the district's science curriculum to include intelligent design, a theory that holds the complexity of life on Earth assumes an intelligent designer deliberately created it, rather than it being the result of random evolutionary progression. It is frequently used as a challenge to Darwinian evolutionary theory in science class direction.

Keenan served 12 years as state superintendent of schools before losing a bid for Montana's lone congressional seat to Republican Denny Rehberg in 2000. After that, she went to Washington, D.C., and worked as a private education consultant. She is now the education policy director for People for the American Way, a national policy research organization that lobbies for liberal causes.

Keenan accused organizations on the religious right, including corporate-influenced research organizations, politicians and foundations, of looking for opportunities to push their social ideas.

"When the religious right entered the political arena was right after the Brown v. Board of Education (Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation) 50 years ago," Keenan said. "That was the first time we started hearing about vouchers so that white children didn't have to go to school with brown children. They wanted to use tax dollars so white children could go to white Christian academies."

The crucial issue, Keenan said, was the constitutional insistence on separation of church and state. She recalled a time when she was Montana superintendent of schools, Marc Racicot was governor, Mike Cooney was secretary of state, Joe Mazurek was attorney general and Mark O'Keefe was state auditor. When someone approached those five officials with a proposal to require prayer in public schools, Keenan realized that all five top state office-holders were Roman Catholic.

"I said, 'Great, it'll be the Hail Mary,' " she recalled. "Imagine what that would have done. Our government must never infiltrate religion any more than our government should be infiltrated by the Vatican."

The United States has avoided the kind of wrenching religious wars now raging elsewhere on the planet because of its strong prohibitions against mingling church and state affairs, Keenan said. But she accused the administration of President Bush and much of the Republican congressional leadership of pushing a religious agenda into public policy to a greater extent than ever before.

"And I think we're less safe now than we've ever been in the history of the country, because of the rest of the world hating us so," Keenan said. "We've been so beaten over the head by terrorist threats since 9-11 that we're willing to give up some of our rights, and we're not so concerned that others have lost them entirely."

On the domestic side, Keenan said the Bush administration is pushing a religiously driven agenda. And a main tactic, she said, was using tax cuts to force state services into incompetence.

"If you starve the government of resources, if you underfund programs, it seems the only option is to privatize them," Keenan said. "You see it in our military, in our schools, in our social services. But what mega-millionaire philanthropist has stepped forward to take over health care? They know they can't afford to, and they can't make money at it. It's something we have to come together to do for the common good. Not everything is market-driven. Government is what brings us together for the common good, not as individuals making money at it alone."

In the case of Darby, Keenan said, the controversy over a national-scale curriculum proposal awakened local interest in what was happening in the school system.

"The latest school board election shows it was rejected," Keenan said. "We've got a basic Montana value here - be respectful of your neighbor. When someone comes in and imposes their beliefs, we say: Nope, that's not the Montana way."

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com

Copyright © 2004 Missoulian

Edward J. Larson
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian to visit Whetstone


Thursday, May 13, 2004

ThisWeek Staff Writer Meet the author

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson will discuss his new book, Evolution: The Remarkable History of A Scientific Theory at 7 p.m. May 20 at the Whetstone Library (3909 N. High St.).

In 1998, Mansfield native Edward J. Larson earned the Pulitzer Prize in history for his book, Summer of the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion.

On May 20, Larson will come to Columbus to discuss Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (Modern Library Chronicles, 337 pages, $21.95).

"There were lots of books on the concept of evolution or little parts of it," Larson recently told ThisWeek, "but there simply wasn't a readable, comprehensive book that people could just take off the shelf and understand how the theory of evolution has developed over time and where it came from. When you see the whole story together, it's much easier to understand the controversies that continue to plague the teaching of the theory of evolution today."

Larson, who is currently Russell Professor of History and Talmadge Professor of Law at the University of Georgia, said that when he speaks on the Scopes trial or other evolutionary topics, he often finds there is little meaningful grasp of the theory of evolution on the part of supporters or detractors.

"It would quickly become apparent that here's a controversy that splashes out of nowhere, such as in the Scopes trial," Larson said, "or as is happening in Ohio right now, suddenly there is a front-page controversy over this intelligent design issue -- where do these come from? Well, I got interested in going behind the Scopes trial and that led to my book on the work in the Gal·pagos (Evolution's Workshop). I finished that, but then I was beginning to see this huge continuum of history of objections of the sort that are being raised in Ohio today -- and they aren't fundamentally different than the types that were raised in Tennessee in 1925.

"They actually aren't fundamentally different from what have been raised since the very beginning," he continued. "I think a lot of people don't understand what the theory of evolution is, but they also don't understand the objections to the theory of evolution."

While evolution entered the consciousness of the greater public in the 1800s, the concept of intelligent design was also being fostered by figures such as William Paley and Georges Cuvier.

"They would argue that there is 'a design' here, a complexity that can't be explained --those would be arguments against (Charles) Darwin made by (Louis) Agassiz, made by (Richard) Owen," Larson said. Intelligent design "has a long and noble pedigree. You can actually follow intelligent design all the way back to the debates in ancient Greece."

In addition to exploring the history of the gradual development of the theory, Larson also places its development in the context of the social forces that helped shape the theory and --in one particularly dark instance -- a social movement that was informed by one interpretation of the concept of evolution.

Charles Darwin actually saw British imperialism as a kind of metaphor for natural selection.

"Very much so," Larson said. "It's very clear in Descent of Man. There's a subtle interplay. Darwin was a capitalist, very proud of how he greatly increased his inherited wealth by prudent stock investments. He was very proud and involved with British expansion ... he saw the survival of the fittest worldwide. ... His writings were also very much used to defend what Britain was doing."

At the other end of the spectrum was Ernst Haeckel, whose studies of evolutionary theory -- and his eventual creation of a secular philosophy dubbed "monism" which advocated a strong, centralized state -- would become twisted into tools for the emerging National Socialist movement. Haeckel, Larson said, "was certainly a warm advocate of World War I and his Monist League was foundational to the Nazi Party."

Although evolution has been a polarizing topic for centuries -- and continues to be so -- Larson said his goal in Evolution was to report accurately and objectively on the theory and the criticisms lodged against it.

"I'm not a partisan on this issue," Larson said. "There are books out there that are viciously pro-evolution and viciously pro-intelligent design. I'm not a biologist myself, I'm a historian of science. I don't have an oar in this pond, as it were, in the sense that I'm not trying to convince anybody one way or another."

Current polls indicate that 90 percent of adult Americans do not subscribe to "the full Darwinian vision of Evolution." Interestingly, Larson said that similar polls conducted in Europe and elsewhere reveal much different results.

"For at least 40 years, the results have been pretty consistent," Larson said. The number of Americans expressing a belief in a "full Darwinian vision" rarely rises above 9 percent, he said.

"In western Europe, you just don't find a high percentage for the Biblical view," he said. "You go to countries like the Netherlands and Germany and Sweden and you won't find any, literally. If you go to England, France, Italy and Spain -- eastern Europe -- you'll find a big growth in support for what would broadly be called 'theistic evolution.'"

In Islamic countries, he noted, it is actually a capital offense to teach the concept of evolution.

Asked for current examples to illustrate the concept of evolution at work, Larson pointed to another topic grabbed from Ohio headlines -- that of the West Nile virus.

While changes in the human population can take millennia to manifest themselves, in the insect world -- where lifespans are shorter and sexual maturity is reached more quickly -- a decade can equal many, many multiples of a generations for a species.

"The West Nile virus has been around forever in the Nile and in southern Europe," Larson said. "But it's never bothered people. It's because over there are some mosquitoes that bite birds, and different species of mosquitoes that bite people. The virus can only be incubated in birds. If a mosquito bites a bird, and then flies and bites a person, it will carry the virus to a person. But that only happens a few times in Europe every year, but not very much.

"What happened in America is that we have an evolved strain of mosquito that bites both humans and birds," he continued. "You can see the genetic difference in the mosquitoes, you can see where they spread and you can trace the development evolutionarily to New York."

The process took about a decade to reach its current threat level in America, he said.

"Population genetics show that if there is a real selection advantage -- like, even 0.2 -- it can sweep through a population in perhaps 10 generations," Larson explained. "You get something like a mosquito that has a lifespan of less than two weeks, in a couple of years, you can literally change the whole population. That's how evolution works, according to the numbers."

The author has several new projects under way, including a new work on Ohioan Clarence Darrow.

Larson also recently learned he will be awarded an honorary doctorate degree from The Ohio State University this fall.

"My Ohio ties are continuing," he said. "I will now join both of my parents and my brother in having Ohio State degrees."



Copyright © 2003, This Week Newspapers

Kansas flap on evolution may flare up


Published Thursday
May 13, 2004

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - State Board of Education members expect to review the first draft of proposed changes in science testing standards in December.

The standards determine what subjects are covered - and how - in statewide tests administered to students every other year.

Revising the standards could reopen a debate over how schools teach evolution.

But the board didn't discuss evolution Tuesday, when it unanimously approved its directions for a committee working on new science testing standards.

Under those directions, the committee is supposed to submit its first draft to the board in December.

Current science standards, adopted in 2001, describe evolution as among the most important scientific ideas for students to learn before graduating from high school.

Standards adopted in 1999 had put much less emphasis on the topic, mentioning evolution only once.

While those standards did not banish evolution from Kansas classrooms or require teaching of alternatives such as creationism, some scientists worried the vote would start those trends.

Evolution was the biggest issue in board elections in 2000, which left it with a 7-3 majority in favor of evolution-friendly standards.

Elections in 2002 left the board split 5-5, with one group of Republicans often identified as the board's conservative bloc and three other Republicans and two Democrats seen as a moderate bloc.

Board anticipates first draft of science standards in December


Posted on Tue, May. 11, 2004

Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - State Board of Education members expect to review the first draft of proposed changes in science testing standards in December.

The standards determine what subjects are covered - and how - in statewide tests administered to students every other year. Revising the standards could reopen a debate over how schools teach evolution.

But the board didn't discuss evolution Tuesday, when it unanimously approved its directions for a committee working on new science testing standards. Under those directions, the committee is supposed to submit its first draft to the board in December.

Current science standards, adopted in 2001, describe evolution as among the most important scientific ideas for students to learn before graduating from high school.

Standards adopted in 1999 had put much less emphasis on the topic, mentioning evolution only once. While those standards did not banish evolution from Kansas classrooms or require teaching of alternatives such as creationism, some scientists worried the vote would start those trends.

Evolution was the biggest issue in board elections in 2000, which left it with a 7-3 majority in favor of evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 left the board split 5-5, with one group of Republicans often identified as the board's conservative bloc and three other Republicans and two Democrats seen as a moderate bloc.

The state Department of Education is in the process of appointing members to the committee on science standards, Commissioner Andy Tompkins told the board.

Department of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us/

Faith vs. fact


Mixing science and religion muddles education

May. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

Religion is about faith.

Science is about fact.

The two don't readily mix, although there are scientists who manage to balance their belief in things unseen with the careful observations that form the foundation of such principles of biology as the theory of evolution.

This is the miracle and wonder of faith and religion.

But religion is not science and it should never be mixed up with teaching science.

Two prominent Arizonans - Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne - deserve credit for acting on that tenet of good education.

Crow wrote to Horne about concerns that updated public education science standards under consideration were inadequate for a state with hopes of becoming a significant player in the world of biosciences and related fields.

Horne says he agreed, and the final standards are being refined to be more specific about the need to teach evolution and other important concepts.

The Arizona Board of Education will review the new standards May 24, and Horne expects them to be approved.

But it will not happen without controversy.

Across the country, religious groups are pushing something called "intelligent design" (think "creationism" by another name) as a legitimate counterbalance to evolution.

Intelligent design is not science. It reflects a Judeo-Christian belief about creation. It is one of many creation stories across a wide spectrum of sacred heritages, heritages that any American has a constitutional right to follow.

These heritages of faith are laden with historic, literary and philosophical values well worth studying in school.

But not in science class.

Horne points out the part of Arizona's proposed new science curriculum will involve the concept that all scientific theories should be scrutinized, questioned and subjected to challenges. This is how knowledge advances. But he resists singling evolution out for particular scrutiny.

He's right.

Arizona's schoolchildren will be better educated if that view prevails.

From medicines to mantras


Parents exploring treatments for autism find reason for hope.


"Where there is great love, there are always miracles."
- Willa Cather

These words appear on the playroom wall of Noah Goldberg, a handsome 6-year-old with autism. His mother, Shari; father, Michael; brother, Jackson; and a team of therapists have followed Willa Cather's motto for the last four-and-a-half years, as they've struggled to draw Noah out of his private world ...

Noah's autism is far from unique.

Chances are, autism has already touched all our lives. At work, school, synagogue or in your neighborhood, there is a family battling this daunting, lifelong developmental disorder. If you pay property taxes, you are helping school districts meet the extraordinary needs of this diverse population of impaired children. And the need is skyrocketing.

From the Greek word auto, meaning "self," autism is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills, generally apparent before age 3. Autistic individuals often engage in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements and may have unusual sensory responses.

The child may seem "different" from birth, or begin to develop normally, only to regress in the second year of life. The severity of the disorder varies widely among individuals, as does their response to various intervention strategies.

When Baltimore child psychiatrist Leo Kanner first described autism in 1943, the incidence of the disorder was rare, occurring in approximately 1 in 10,000 births. Today, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the second most common developmental disability after mental retardation, occurring in an estimated 1 in 250 births, according to the National Association for Autism Research (NAAR).

Males are affected more than females by a ratio of 4:1. Moreover, NAAR states that ASD rates "are 10 times more prevalent than they were just 10 years ago." Some experts are now calling autism an epidemic.

Many Cleveland area families are sifting through reams of conflicting information and advice in their quest to help their kids get better. Theirs is a story of frustration, courage, patience and hope.

From the Goldbergs' rambling Pepper Pike farmhouse, Shari recounts their family's journey "down the hole into the Alice in Wonderland world" of autism. Noting Noah's withdrawal, apparent hearing problem, and weak muscle tone, Shari, a former teacher, signed Noah up for occupational and auditory therapy. She also got on the Internet and hit the bookstores. After reading Dr. Stanley Greenspan's The Child with Special Needs, Shari flew with Noah to Silver Springs, Md., to consult with Greenspan's co-author, Dr. Serena Weider.

"She videotapes your kid for three hours, in a tiny office filled with toys," Shari recalls. At age 2, Noah simply lay on the floor, sucking his thumb. "He didn't have the strength to sit up, his gut was screwed up, he had diarrhea and severe eczema."

Shari, who has always been interested in complementary medicine, attacked Noah's autism both biomedically (see sidebar) and through a home-based version of Greenspan's "floortime" model. Noah made many physical gains, and at last obtained relief from his eczema and diarrhea after Shari removed casein (dairy protein) and gluten (wheat protein) from Noah's diet. With the help of nutritional supplements and chelation (see sidebar), Shari believes "we turned his immune system around."

Pharmacist Alan Israel of Lee-Silsby Compounding Pharmacy in Cleveland Heights provides supplements and chelating agents to many families like the Goldbergs. Unlike a conventional pharmacist, the compounding pharmacist makes specific preparations for each patient, upon doctors' specifications.

Due to the restricted diet and their own resistance to various textures, "lots of these kids are very thin," Israel comments. "They (often) need more protein. And some of the nutrients they need taste so bad, you can't hide it."

When he began the diet, "Noah wasn't drinking anything but water and eating four foods," says Shari. She has slipped many nutrients into her homemade baked goods and proudly declares her kitchen "organic, kosher, and gf/cf (gluten-free/casein-free)."

Noah's therapy routine included about 16-20 hours per week of occupational and speech therapy, plus 30 hours at home with mom, dad and a cadre of student therapists specially trained in the floortime approach, a play-based therapy which follows the child's own interests.

On a warm March afternoon, Noah comes thundering down the stairs on his way to the specially renovated horse barn in his backyard. Unwilling to meet my gaze, he instead runs into the kitchen and shrieks impatiently for a snack.

"Use your voice, Noah," Shari firmly reminds him.

Accompanied by lead therapist Katie Noble, we next ascend to brother Jackson's bedroom, where Noah becomes fascinated with a book.

While Noah can run, jump, speak, read and write, he still lacks social interaction skills. "If it were up to him, he'd be happy playing ball in the corner and letting his friends play," Noble comments.

Noah's therapy barn is a large, open gym with a padded floor equipped with swings, balls, inner tubes and foam cushions. Noah emits peals of laughter as Katie places him in a net and swings him around. Swinging and other kinds of bodily pressure "help him organize his thoughts," his mom explains. "We can't do therapy if he can't concentrate."

While the Goldbergs' barn represents a huge financial investment, Shari emphasizes that most of the equipment can be homemade, or purchased very cheaply. Nevertheless, caring for an autistic child is tremendously costly. Biomedical tests and treatments can run thousands of dollars. County intervention programs are free, but private therapists earn anywhere from $10 per hour for students to $100 or more per hour for certified professionals. Medicaid or private insurance does not begin to cover all needed services.

For Noah's dad, Michael, being with Noah often relieves him of the stresses of his job as a criminal defense lawyer. "The major challenge is coming to grips with the fact that you're not going to have the life you thought you were going to have," he reflects. For example, Michael knows his sons love each other, but will never be best friends. "But we still have a lot of fun with Noah; we have a great family life."

Like Noah Goldberg, Stella and Dan Rusek's son, Derek, 10, has responded best to a combination of alternative and conventional therapies. The North Royalton mother of three boys has taken Derek repeatedly to Atlanta and Mexico to pursue the gamut of biomedical interventions, some more effective than others. While Stella felt the gluten- and casein-free diet was "unhealthy," rather than helpful, sauna treatments and chelation helped Derek, she says. She credits his speech to injections of Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) received in Mexico. Currently, Stella uses homeopathic medicines to boost her son's immune system.

Derek was the very first student at the Monarch School for Children with Autism, located in Shaker Heights. "When I started the medical stuff, I could see measurable progress month to month, but once I got him into Monarch, he really took off," Stella comments. From a child who spoke 30 words four years ago, Derek now, "picks up language just from hearing things from me," Stella enthuses.

At Monarch, educators combine "best practices of behavioral and naturalistic approaches to instruction," according to school director Debra Mandell. Written and spoken communication are emphasized, with a strong reliance on visual materials to enhance learning. That's why assessment and planning for each student are critical, she says, "If any one methodology worked for all children, we'd all be using it."

Five-year-old Mollie, who lives in Solon, represents a different piece of the puzzle, explains her mother, Amy (last name withheld upon request). Mollie developed normally until age 20 months, when she lost speech, eye contact and social interaction. She also developed sleeplessness and chronic diarrhea. "My pediatrician kept trying to convince me she was just acting out because I was pregnant, but I knew something was wrong," Amy remembers.

Upon their receiving a diagnosis of autism, Mollie's parents decided to try the gluten- and casein-free diet, which resulted in "significant changes the moment she went on it." But the biggest breakthrough for Mollie was her subsequent diagnosis with a mitochondrial disease, a metabolic problem.

Mollie's neurologist, Dr. Bruce Cohen of The Cleveland Clinic, believes there is a small subclass of children with this condition who have secondary autism. Mollie's treatment plan involves vitamin supplements and antioxidants, mostly purchased at the health food store.

The teaching method that works best for Mollie is a home-based ABA program developed with Children's Hospital of Columbus, says her mom. "It gave her the intense, one-on-one repetition she needed to open a lot of doors."

ABA breaks learning tasks down into component pieces, which are reinforced and chained together to develop whole skills, says Leslie Sinclair, program director at The Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism. Data is collected on a continual basis in order to refine individual treatment plans.

Mollie now enjoys swimming and arts activities. She is beginning to "blurt out" words, and will be in full-day kindergarten in Solon next year.

Talia Zimmerman, 4-1/2, "has come farther with ABA than anything," says her mom, Shaker Heights resident Lisa Zimmerman. Of several alternative therapies Lisa and her husband, Rob, tried, only the dairy-free diet seemed useful by eliminating Talia's "spaciness." After more than a year of inappropriate diagnosis and placement, Talia is now using many single words, making her wants known, and is almost potty trained, Lisa reports.

While her daughter is now progressing at Achievement Centers for Children, Lisa recalls with a shudder that bad first year. "You feel guilty if you can't do (a treatment), or can't afford it. You get a million people telling you different things, and you have to figure out on your own what will work for your kid and your schedule," says Zimmerman, echoing the experience of many parents.

"What works" for some parents is to change school systems, as Julie and Bryan Rubenstein did. The parents of triplets found their mildly autistic son, Jonah, thrived alongside his non-impaired sisters once the family moved to Beachwood. They also found the medication Ritalin improved Jonah's concentration and behavior. Another Beachwood mom says Ritalin made a big difference for her daughter, a 12-year-old with Asberger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of ASD.

Many kids on the autism spectrum also need various sensory therapies, such as brushing or "auditory integration therapy" (AIT), which uses specialized sounds to affect brain chemistry, according to occupational therapist Barrie Galvin.

Psychologist Jane Mishkind also incorporates various auditory strategies in her practice at The Center for LifeSkills in Solon. For example, she plays recordings of deep Eastern chanting in the background during therapy sessions for a calming and healing effect.

From medicines to mantras, parents are driving the directions of autism research and treatment. They must often push for a diagnosis when doctors take a "wait and see" attitude. They don't rest until an individualized treatment plan is in place.

Autistic individuals may go to school, get jobs, and form relationships like the rest of us, but early, intense intervention is essential for the child to reach his or her full potential.

As Mollie's mom says, "Every miracle comes in a different package."

Beth Friedman-Romell is a regular contributor to the Cleveland Jewish News. She will be speaking on the topic "From Medicines to Mantras: a Reporter Investigates Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder" on May 18 at 7:15 p.m., at the Galvin Education and Resource Center for Families. Call 216-514-1600 for details.

Govt urged to encourage the use of herbal AIDS drugs


www.ghanaweb.com: General News of Thursday, 13 May 2004

Kumasi, May 13, GNA - The government has been called upon to initiate measures that would encourage the production and use of quality and efficacious alternative drugs to complement the administration of anti-retroviral drugs on HIV/AIDS patients in the country.

Dr Dickson Ansah Baah, proprietor of Nature's Line Clinic at Patasi in Kumasi, who made the appeal, said most herbal preparations, which had been certified by the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine at Mampong-Akuapem, had been proved to be potent and efficacious in the treatment and management of opportunistic infections and booster the immune systems of HIV/AIDS patients.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi on Wednesday, Dr Baah also suggested to the government and the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) to institute an exhibition or conference on herbal drugs used to manage AIDS in the country to enable the government and practitioners brainstorm and come out with appropriate guidelines that would help encourage the production and use of potent herbal drugs to treat HIV/AIDS victims.

Dr Baah said his herbal drug "Dicavira 2" which had been tested and approved by the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, had proved to be potent in preventing opportunistic infections and booster the immune systems of AIDS patients who had been using the drugs for the past three years were still living healthy lives, adding that, currently, about 40 patients were being treated with the drug free of charge.

Dr Baah, a laboratory technician who had studied alternative medicine and researched extensively on the HIV/AIDS virus, said the use of potent herbal drugs in the management of HIV/AIDS, would help reduce the use of anti-retroviral drugs, which were very expensive and beyond the reach of most patients.

The anti-HIV/AIDS campaigner, who started his HIV prevention education programme as far back as 1996, said the objective of his clinic was to improve the health status of people living with AIDS, provide quality and affordable remedies to patients, provide counselling services as well as education on good nutrition for AIDS patients. He called for an effective collaboration between the orthodox and alternative medicine practitioners to provide suitable remedies that would help ease some of the sufferings of AIDS victims to enable them to live longer lives. 13 May 04

Source: GNA

Woman jailed for practising alternative medicine without licence


By Alexia Saoulli

A 30-YEAR-old woman has been jailed for eight months after a Nicosia court found her guilty of practicing medicine without a proper licence, police said yesterday.

Katerina Demetriadou was convicted on 22 charges, including practising medicine without being a registered doctor, carrying out laboratory tests without being a chemist, the illegal operation of a clinical workshop, obtaining money under false pretences and posing as a dietician without being registered on the dietetics register.

The court heard the defendant holds a PhD in orthomolecular science and is a member of the alternative medicine association, but failed to secure approval to register on the Cyprus medical council.

Commenting on the sentence yesterday, Medical Association vice president, Dr Nicholas Christodoulou told the Cyprus Mail: "The state has an obligation to protect public health from people who are not doctors and pretend to be so, which is why we have a law that protects citizens from such people."

According to the Health Plus Web internet site: "The orthomolecular nutritional science specialises in stimulating good health by providing the body cells that are the fundamental building blocks of the organism, with optimal quantities of all the vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients.

"In orthomolecular medicine, vitamins, minerals and a variety of other substances normally resident in the body, are applied in order to restore pathological processes. By using safe intrinsic body substances, orthomolecular medicine contrasts with other disciplines of medical science, where molecules developed in the laboratory are used, which, because of their alien nature, often cause unpleasant or even serious side effects." Christodoulou, however, insisted an orthomolecular scientist was not the same as a medical doctor.

"There is a medical council in Cyprus," he said. "People with medical qualifications submit their qualifications to the council. If they are valid, the person is then registered. This is so that patients know their doctor has the necessary qualifications and can trust him or her. Anything else is not the same. This woman knew she was not a doctor and she did not register with the council. Yet she went ahead and practised medicine anyway."

He said the Association had filed complaints against Demetriadou, but lengthy judicial procedures had kept her from jail much longer.

"We are strongly opposed to charlatans. However, she is not the first person we have filed complaints against," he said. "There are others out there pretending to be medical doctors."

Christodoulou said the law prevented them from publishing a list of their names. He said: "We have informed the Health Ministry and the police and procedures to prosecute these people are under way. Nevertheless, the public can protect themselves by asking their doctor to see a certificate of their registration under the medical registration law. Or, if someone wants, they can contact the Medical Association or their local medical association and find out of if a certain doctor is registered or not."

Sentencing, Judge Michalis Papamichael said: "The defendant knew full well what is medicine, what constitutes medical practice or omissions, just as she knew full well from her actions that orthomolecular science is not a branch of medicine, and cannot even be called orthomolecular medicine or to have her pose as a doctor. Despite this, for a substantial time she consciously and willingly misleading her patients that she was a doctor and practiced medicine with the intention of benefiting."

He added: "The purpose of the sentence, over and above punishing the defendant, is the protection of the social whole from the defendant's antisocial behaviour and to serve as an example to other people who might be thinking of committing the same or similar offence."

The court also fined Demetriadou £1,500. During sentencing it took into account Demetriadou's request to have the money returned to those patients who testified against her.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2004

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