Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
By Robert Roy Britt SPACE.com
(SPACE.com) -- A new twist on an emerging theory says the sun was born amid massive, short-lived stars that sculpted our solar system with intense radiation and violent explosions that may have affected the origin of life.
The fresh analysis pulls together several lines of evidence suggesting that the sun did not form in isolation, as astronomers once thought. Instead, it emerged from the edge of a cloud of chaos not unlike three strikingly photogenic nebulas known as Eagle, Trifid and Orion.
Eventually the crowd of stars drifted apart and our young solar system wandered out to its rather lonely present location, more than 4 light-years from the next nearest star.
Down-to-earth evidence Theorists have speculated since the 1970s that the sun might have formed in a dense region of star birth. The latest evidence for a chaotic birthplace comes from meteorites that have landed on Earth after orbiting the sun for billions of years.
The rocks contain chemical patterns that can only be created by the radioactive decay of an isotope of iron called iron-60, said Arizona State University astronomer Jeff Hester, lead author of a paper explaining the idea in the May 21 issue of the journal Science. The iron-60 must have been present in the early solar system but has since decayed into telltale nickel-60 in the meteorites.
"There is no way that you can form iron-60 other than in a massive, evolved star," Hester told SPACE.com. And that implies the sun must have been near a massive star when it formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
The iron-60 discovery was made last year by Arizona State researchers Shogo Tachibana and Gary Huss. The finding supports other evidence for the sun having formed near a massive star, said Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, "With the advantage that iron-60 can only be created in a supernova and so there is no room for debate about where it formed."
Boss, who was not involved in Hester's effort, has developed a similar scenario for the sun's formation near massive stars, using their UV radiation to explain the presence of Uranus and Neptune, which by the old, standard model of planet formation should not exist. Boss said Hester's analysis "fits in beautifully" with his work.
Hester agreed, adding that "our new work addresses how stars find their way into such environments in the first place," and provides "evidence that specifically places the sun in such an environment."
Here is what Hester and his colleagues think happened some 4.6 billion years ago:
A massive star was born in a giant cloud of gas and dust. Intense ultraviolet radiation created a bubble of hot gas that pushed out into space. A shock wave in advance of the bubble compressed surrounding gas, triggering the formation of the sun and other low-mass stars.
Within about 100,000 years, the sun's remaining natal cloud was stripped away by the advancing bubble of hot gas. The whole solar system -- barely under construction -- was then exposed to intense UV radiation from the nearby massive star. At this point, the sun was an "evaporating gaseous globule," or EGG.
Hester first saw an EGG in a classic 1995 Hubble Space Telescope image of the Eagle Nebula, also dubbed the Pillars of Creation, taken along with colleague Paul Scowen. Later imaging of the Trifid Nebula showed this process of triggered star birth in vivid detail.
Within 10,000 years, the EGG around the sun evaporated, leaving behind a fresh star and a somewhat flat disk of gas and dust destined to form planets, asteroids and comets. Then the nearby massive star's UV radiation began to evaporate the sun's protoplanetary disk, as it is called. In another 10,000 years, the disk was worn down to a vestige of its initial diameter. The reduced size corresponds to our current solar system.
The leftover material in the disk managed to withstand the UV onslaught. Planets were born. But there was more battering to endure.
Massive stars don't live long. And they die explosively.
"When that happens, anything in their surroundings is going to get peppered with newly synthesized material," including iron-60, Hester explained. "Then you pick up a meteorite [on Earth] and find just the pattern of isotopic abundances that you would expect to find if the young solar system were peppered with newly-synthesized material from a supernova. Once you see it, it is almost embarrassingly obvious."
Among the mysteries addressed by the new scenario is the puzzling abrupt end to the Kuiper Belt, a region of comet-like objects that extends a ways beyond Neptune.
"Ultraviolet radiation would also have played a role in the organic chemistry of the young solar system," said Laurie Leshin, a cosmochemist at Arizona State University who contributed to the analysis along with Steve Desch and Kevin Healy.
The injection of radioactive material from a supernova might even have helped create ultimately hospitable conditions on Earth, the scientists speculate. Importantly, the whole theory comes with testable predictions.
"Assuming that it holds up -- and I believe it will -- this is a theory that both greatly clarifies the way that most stars in the universe probably form, and also ties the properties of the solar system and Earth itself back to the conditions in the larger astrophysical environment in which we formed," Hester said.
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Disgraced Hamilton doctor Richard Gorringe has been found guilty of a fresh charge of professional misconduct after repeatedly failing to diagnose a patient who went on to die of cancer.
The Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal last year stripped Mr Gorringe of his doctor title, and ordered him to pay more than $100,000 following his treatment of two Hamilton women in 1998.
The tribunal yesterday released its decision about Mr Gorringe's treatment of Hamilton bowel cancer patient Murray Leonard Smith.
It said he did not diagnose Mr Smith's cancer despite numerous symptoms, including bleeding from the bowel. Instead, he relied mainly on an unproven technique to diagnose Mr Smith with 10 conditions including "bowel bug" and infections such as salmonella, campylobactor, helicobactor and salmonella typhoid.
Mr Gorringe saw Mr Smith 29 times from 1994 to 1997. A few months after his last consultation with Mr Gorringe, Mr Smith saw another Hamilton doctor, Stephen French, who organised a test to see if he had bowel cancer. A cancerous tumour was found and Mr Smith had surgery to remove it. But by then it had spread to other parts of his body and he died the following April.
The tribunal said Mr Gorringe had primary responsibility for Mr Smith, despite Mr Gorringe's evidence that he shared Mr Smith's care with Dr French.
It said Mr Gorringe did not act on other possible causes of Mr Smith's symptoms until long after it should have been clear that his treatment was not working.
The tribunal did not accept Mr Gorringe's testimony that he had urged Mr Smith to have a colonoscopy -- a test that would have revealed cancer.
Mr Gorringe continues to practise alternative medicine at Hamilton Health Clinic.
The penalty will be set after submissions from Mr Gorringe. He faces a fine of up to $20,000 and a portion of the costs of the hearing.
Mr Gorringe could not be reached for comment.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 20, 2004
Posted to the web May 20, 2004
With less than two percent of HIV-infected Zambians able to access antiretrovirals, plans were announced on Tuesday to begin testing traditional medicines as an alternative treatment for the pandemic.
Dr Patrick Chikusu, head of the department of pharmacy at the University of Zambia (UNZA), and chairman of the National Aids Council (NAC) Technical Working Group on Traditional and Alternative Remedies, said orthodox medicines on their own had failed to contain the rising number of HIV/AIDS deaths, and it was time alternative medicines were tested for their efficacy in treating the disease.
The announcement ended many years of debate and speculation in Zambia as to whether modern and traditional medicines could be combined in the fight against the pandemic.
Chikusu has invited all those with claims to alternative treatment to submit samples of their medicines to NAC, where they will be subjected to thorough laboratory tests and only administered to patients after being approved.
The decision to test herbal remedies was made following the approval of a project proposal submitted to NAC by UNZA's school of medicine.
An analysis of herbal formulations for HIV treatment by Dr Ipshita Chatterjee, a lecturer in the department of Physiological sciences at the university, observed that conventional medicine was increasingly being supported by complementary or alternative therapies.
During the review of policy options for contemporary health care development, the World Health Organisation's first global strategy on alternative medicine advocated for the integration of the two types of treatment.
"Treating patients with traditional medicines has as much validity now as it did thousands of years ago - combined forces of traditional and modern medicines would therefore be advantageous to the ailing patients," said Chikusu.
WHO has said that adequate technological infrastructure must be in place to maximise the traditional medicinal value of plants, especially in the context of primary health care.
Statistics from NAC show that about two million people in Zambia are living with HIV, of which half are believed to have already developed AIDS.
May 20, 2004 — Dr. Donald Novey, Medical Director of the Center for Complementary Medicine at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, wrote the book The Clinicians Complete Reference to Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
"The Clinicians Complete Reference to Complementary and Alternative Medicine" takes guesswork out of alternative medicine: physician from Lutheran General Hospital puts it all together for easy use. Public demand for complementary and alternative medicines has recently found its way into many physicians offices, and merging traditional and alternative treatments has created a great need for a resource that can be used by health professionals and consumers alike. Donald Novey, M.D., director, Center for Complementary Medicine, Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, has written a unique text for consumers and clinicians alike. The book is designed to bridge the gap between traditional medical treatment and the growing field of complementary health care.
"The Clinicians Complete Reference to Complementary and Alternative Medicine," 850 p., is the first book of its kind to serve as that resource. The book, written by 90 contributors, all leaders in their field of alternative therapy, covers virtually every treatment from aromatherapy and meditation, to acupuncture and herbal remedies.
Each chapter is structured for ease of use and is broken down into categories that make it easy to find what you are looking for: Origins and History, Mechanism of Action, Forms of Therapy, Demographics, Office Applications, Research, Risk and Safety, Credentialing and Training, Barriers and Key Issues. This "everything you ever wanted to know about...." format for each therapy makes this an easy to use and understand guide.
"The book is designed for rapid access to the information that both clinicians and nonmedical readers need to know," said Dr. Novey. "The structured format allows easy location of very specific information on over 60 forms of alternative therapy, with guidelines for the conditions or problems for which each therapy works best."
According to Dr. Novey, the text provides information on alternative therapies on a level not previously found in a single source."Hopefully, this book will fill the gap left empty by most other texts on this subject," said Dr. Novey.
For information on where to purchase the book call your local bookstore or Mosby Publishers at 1-800-325-4177.
The Center for Complementary Medicine opened in August, 1998, and is located on the campus of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. The center provides a unique team approach that combines the best of traditional and alternative medicines. All therapies are conducted under the direction of board certified physicians. Practitioners share their findings and treatment plans with the patient's physician.
For more information visit www.advocatehealth.com/amg/about/locations/compmed
FBI Investigates Insurance Fraud
POSTED: 9:38 pm PDT May 19, 2004
UPDATED: 6:19 am PDT May 20, 2004
SAN DIEGO -- Three alternative medicine providers were arrested by federal agents Wednesday for allegedly carrying out an insurance fraud scheme that used victims of diseases like terminal cancer as pawns.
FBI Special Agent Jan Caldwell said William Fry, 65; Debbie LaRue, 48; and Geronimo Rubio, 45, were arrested without incident at their firm's billing office on Otay Lakes Road in Bonita. According to investigators, the three are affiliated with Tijuana-based American Metabolic Institute, which purports to specialize in treatment of such degenerative ailments as cancer.
According to Caldwell, AMI's operators claimed to offer their unconventional services through a facility called St. Joseph Hospital, whose name appeared on medical claims submitted to U.S. insurance companies. The address of the clinic is listed as 555 Saturn Blvd. in San Diego, but that site is the location of a company that rents private post-office boxes, authorities said.
AMI promotional materials like Internet ads boasted 150 anti-cancer medications and treatments, including lymphatic massage, "color therapy," coffee enemas, acupressure, colonics and "Dr. Rubio's vaccine." But the defendants' insurance claims sought reimbursement for standard medical procedures like chemotherapy, which had not taken place, according to the FBI.
New York physician John Ditredici, who was also indicted in the case, allegedly co-conspired with Fry, LaRue and Rubio to cheat insurers by falsely claiming to have received chemotherapy.
"The intent of this fraudulent billing was to allow (him) to receive Rubio's alternative treatments without having to pay for the services," Caldwell said.
Ditredici, 36, was served with a notice to appear before a judge in San Diego next week.
The defendants taken into custody Wednesday morning "did the unthinkable," said Daniel Dzwilewski, special agent in charge of the FBI's local office. "They capitalized on people's vulnerabilities in their most desperate hours and gave them false hope. This is despicable."
Copyright 2004 by NBCSandiego.com.
By Paul Rincon
BBC News Online science staff
Doctors claim to have uncovered new evidence that the tiny particles known as "nannobacteria" are indeed alive and may cause a range of human illnesses.
The existence of nannobacteria is one of the most controversial of scientific questions - some experts claim they are simply too small to be life forms.
But US scientists report they have now isolated these cell-like structures in tissue from diseased human arteries.
Their research is described in the American Journal of Physiology.
The team, led by Dr John Lieske at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, conducted an analysis of calcified and non-calcified arteries, arterial plaques and heart valves collected as surgical waste from two US hospitals.
In the lab, they stained the specimens and examined them under a high power electron microscope.
The team found tiny spheres ranging in size from 30-100 nanometres (nm - billionths of a metre), which is smaller even than many viruses.
When the tissue was broken up, filtered to remove anything more than 200nm and the filtrate added to a sterile medium, the optical density - or cloudiness - of the medium increased.
This, the researchers argue, means the nanoparticles were multiplying of their own accord.
"I think we've taken a systematic approach to evaluating the participation of these potential nanoparticles, nannobacteria - whatever you want to call them - in human disease processes," co-author Dr Virginia Miller, also of Mayo Clinic told BBC News Online.
Spheres of influence
The particles are also recognised by a dye for DNA and absorbed uridine, a key chemical component of RNA, which the researchers argue is evidence the particles are constantly synthesising nucleic acids.
Viewed with electron microscopy, the particles also appeared to have cell walls.
The nano-scale objects showed up in tissue from patients with calcified arterial aneurysms but not uncalcified samples.
Nannobacteria have been implicated by some scientists in the formation of kidney stones and psammona bodies - calcified (mineralised) structures in ovarian cancer.
But many other scientists dispute that they are actually life forms.
"I don't see any convincing evidence for nannobacteria or DNA [in this study]," Dr John Cisar, of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US, told BBC News Online.
"If you know you're dealing with a life form, you can use the staining techniques [they used]. But there are false positives in these types of techniques."
Dr Cisar said in research he had conducted, nanoparticles had tested positive with a stain for nucleic acids. But when he and his team tried to extract these nucleic acids, none had been found.
Previous research carried out by Jack Maniloff of the University of Rochester in New York has shown that to contain the DNA and proteins it needs to function, a cell must be a minimum of 140nm across.
"One of the questions we always get back is: 'well, how do you know it's alive if it doesn't have a unique DNA sequence?' This is true," Dr Miller explained.
"But if you go back to how we defined life prior to our knowing about DNA, our criteria was that things multiplied in culture. This is what we have."
In 1996, nannobacteria came to the attention of the world's media when scientists announced they had found fossils in a Martian meteorite of what appeared to be nano-sized bacteria.
Scientists are now involved in efforts to isolate DNA from the nanoparticles. Dr Miller said it was also important to investigate their role in other diseases.
The research is also reported in this week's New Scientist magazine.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/05/19 22:50:07 GMT
© BBC MMIV
By COREY LEVITAN
May 18, 2004 -- LOS ANGELES - CRITICS can't hurt Scientology, Hollywood's leading independent religion. They've been trying for decades. But competition might. Compared to the celebrities who've been hawking Scientology since the '80s - Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley - the recent converts to kabbalah study pack far brighter starpower: Ashton & Demi, Madonna and even Britney Spears.
These boldface names have made starwatching a primary pursuit at the Beverly Hills Kabbalah Center, as unlikely a place as you can imagine to find the glamour crowd.
It's hard to picture Madonna hanging out in this one-story former youth center that combines Spanish missionary architecture with Taco Bell. But there she was on Saturday, exiting the humble center in a "Cult Member" T-shirt after one of the center's jam-packed Shabbat services. Ashton and Demi are regulars on Sabbath - where worshippers gather out front in all-white outfits - and they recently attended a Purim party there in pastel-colored onesies.
Unlike other celebrity hotspots, this one is open to the public and has no velvet rope.
Anyone can walk in and buy famous bottled kabbalah water, infused with "positive energy" that claims to cure cancer. (It's a bargain as cancer cures go, at just $3 per 1.5 liters.) You won't see Madonna's recent "Kabbalists Do It Better" T-shirt for sale, but you can purchase the red string bracelet she gives out to friends, for only $26. (According to kabbalah.com, it "protects us from the influences of the evil eye.")
The non-famous are coming out in spades. An introductory class attended by The Post included a dazzling beauty from South Africa, a visitor from the Houston Kabbalah Center and a woman whose hungry infant continually tried, with mixed success, to acquire dinner by making like Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl.
Pens, scrap paper and course registration forms were stacked neatly on the tables, but there was no food to be found. What? A Jewish event with not even a bagel? How did Roseanne Barr put up with this? The teacher was a schlubbily attired Zero Mostel-ringer whose eyes were like big brown yarmulkes.
"If a martial artist can break a block of wood with his mind," Zero asks, "can't we remove a little calcium deposit from our clogged arteries?" It's easy to see Madonna digging Zero - in a Deepak Chopra kind of way. Kabbalah is based on the Zohar, a 23-volume set of books on Jewish mysticism written 3,800 years ago, entirely in Mel Gibson's native Aramaic.
Its numerology and symbology promise the secret to consciousness-raising powers. And here's the best part for non-Jewish celebs: the center claims that merely scanning the Zohar will cause its magic to rub off; you don't even have to know how to read the Hebrew letters. "It's the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims," Zero explains. "Jesus, Mohammed and Moses all studied kabbalah." Instead of working together as a human race toward spiritual enlightenment, the followers of these three prophets "ended up picking hockey teams instead," he explains. "Buried in a 3,800-year- old book are concepts that can change your life in the here and now," he says.
"We don't know all that's inside of us that we can tap into - and that's the problem." Such positive thinking makes it easy to see why kabbalah attracts the famous, whose vibes are perpetually harshed by lost roles and "Celebrities Uncensored" on E! At the introductory session, everyone seemed impressed by Zero's logic. Seven students fill out the registration slip for the full 10-week course, which runs $270.
You would think the exit from what critics have labeled a "cult" would be much harder than the entrance for those who don't sign up. But nobody mentioned eternal damnation or the evil eye to this reporter on the way out. Apparently, Kabbalah is the Honda Civic of belief systems: it sells itself.
Either that, or Madonna is all the pitch they need.
Hollywood's new disaster blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, presents climate change cataclysms that no respected scientist considers realistic. But can the hoopla surrounding the film actually educate about the real global warming issue?
Few summer movies have been preceded by as much controversy as Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, a global warming disaster flick opening this May 28. The film's direct political overtones in an election year have hardly gone unnoticed (apparently you can't miss the Dick Cheney character), and even seem to have worried the Bush administration that, in the wake of the movie, government scientists might acknowledge the existence of a problem that our current leaders have run away from. NASA experts were reportedly told that they couldn't talk to the press about the film, only to have the apparent gag order revoked after the New York Times exposed it.
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Millions may pore over their daily star signs, but scientists have always dismissed astrology as a load of old bunk. Now, a British astronomer has said that there might be something in it after all. Could the planets really control our fates? Ian Sample investigates
Tuesday May 18, 2004
There can be few scientists brave enough to stick their heads above the academic parapet and claim to have found proof that, contrary to hundreds of years of scientific inquiry, the movement of heavenly bodies does, after all, affect how we behave down here on the ground.
But few scientists are Percy Seymour. In his latest book, The Scientific Proof of Astrology (not to be confused with his earlier tome of 1997, Scientific Basis of Astrology), the former Plymouth University astronomy lecturer, and member of the Royal Astronomical Society, argues that, while he does not believe in horoscopes, the movement of the sun, moon and various planets undoubtedly hold an influence over us. Could it be that countless devotees ranging from Charles de Gaulle to Ronald Reagan had it right when they kept one eye on the stars?
The argument Seymour puts forward is that the movement of the Sun, moon and sundry planets from Jupiter to Mars, interfere with the Earth's magnetic field. In doing so, the unborn offspring of expectant mothers around the world are exposed to different magnetic fields that toy with the development of their budding brains.
Seymour's suggestion that the stars and planets rule over us has largely been received with the shortest of shrifts. "All I can say is that I have yet to meet another scientist that agrees with his views," says Jacqueline Mitton of the Royal Astonomical Society. "It's right up there with stuff like crop circles being made by extra-terrestrials," says Robert Massey, astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, where Seymour worked as a planetarium lecturer in the early 70s.
Seymour's book is just the latest salvo in an ongoing battle that pits the vast majority of scientists, on one side, against the substantially fewer (but better paid) astrologists on the other. Most scientists are happy not to bother with research into astrology; to them astrology is among the worst manifestations of pseudoscience, worthy of as little intellectual expenditure as homeopathy. Others dabble with testing astrology's claims, while a few, such as Seymour, hop the fence of tradition completely to become scientist turned believer.
Michel Gauquelin started the ball rolling in earnest with his 1955 study of the so-called Mars effect. Put simply, it states that Mars is more likely to be in certain parts of the sky when top sports stars are born. The study caused a predictable furore, but did not stand up to the barrage of criticism that followed. "It was held up as a success for astrology, but when the results were looked at in close detail, and when the experiment was repeated, it fell apart," says Massey.
Since Gauquelin, a steady trickle of papers, have appeared, often reported in minor scientific journals. A study of the 1991/92 English football league suggested players were nearly twice as likely to be born between September and November than in the summer months. Fast bowlers, according to another study, were more likely to be born in the first half of the year. Earlier this year, Richard Wisemann, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, published work suggesting summer babies were more likely to consider themselves lucky.
Most scientists dismiss Seymour's arguments simply because the changes in the Earth's magnetic field that he believes are so significant for our behaviour are so minute. The magnetic field, which is generated by the Earth's spinning molten iron core, is pathetically weak compared with the magnetic fields our gadgets and infrastructure produce. Earlier this year, the government's radiation watchdog, the National Radiological Protection Board, recommended that Britain cut magnetic field exposure from power lines to 100 microteslas, which is still twice the Earth's natural field strength.
The field is most disrupted by bad weather on the sun. A huge magnetic storm there releases clouds of particles that blast Earth. But at worst, these storms make the magnetic field waver by nothing more than 1% or 2%. As for seasonal changes that astrologers might unwittingly be picking up on, they do exist, but are so small as to be almost unmeasurable.
"If the Earth's magnetic field collapsed to zero, we'd get a higher dose of radiation from space and that would have an effect on our behaviour, but I don't think it would make it any easier to predict if you're going to come into money one week or the next," says Massey. "Your mobile phone, your television, your washing machine - any electrical equipment you have generates far stronger magnetic fields than the Earth's field."
While Seymour is widely seen as a scientist who has joined the defence of the astrologers, it was an ex-astrologer who helped deliver the most signifiant blow to the credibility of his former profession. Last year, Geoffrey Dean, who left astrology to become a scientist in Perth, carried out what is probably the most robust scientific investigation into astrology ever undertaken. He led a study of 2,000 people, most born within minutes of one another, and looked at more than 100 different characteristics, ranging from IQ to ability in art and sport, from anxiety levels to sociability and occupation - all of which astrologers claim are influenced by heavenly bodies. He found no evidence of the similarities that astrologers would have predicted.
But despite the intellectual mud-flinging that goes on between many astrologers and scientists, much to the latter's discomfort, science is too blunt a tool to definitively rule out that astrology is bunkum. Some scientists certainly believe there are valid questions to be asked. Dr Mike Hapgood, an expert in what astronomers refer to as "sun-Earth interactions" at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, says we have no real data on how, if at all, magnetic fields might affecthuman behaviour. "There's an interesting question there and it's not something that is well understood," he says.
Hapgood argues that it could be folly to dismiss outlandish ideas too easily. "You need to do the science properly to find out anything solid. You don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If anyone ever finds a cause, the subject will get out of it's trough and become truly interesting," he says.
The word "cause" is key. So far, studies that claim to support astrology point out correlations, merely observed links between one happening and another. But correlations do not always point to causes and effects. And with nothing else to go on, the nature of the real cause and effect can only be speculated upon. Can magnetic fields affect the way an unborn child's brain develops? Undoubtedly if the field is strong enough, but how strong is strong enough? And how do we know what difference those changes would make to behaviour? If a simple blast of magnetic field could turn your average unborn child into a future premiership footballer, neuroscientists would be tearing up text books quicker than you can say hippocampus.
The problem for those scientists keen on debunking astrology is that designing an experiment to prove one way or another whether the movement of the planets affects us is practically unachievable. With that in mind, some scientists, while privately laughing out loud at the suggestion that astrology could be for real, are publicly reluctant to dismiss it all together. "The difficulty for scientists is that we know the strangest sounding ideas can sometimes turn out to be true," says Mitton.
One of the few things that remains incontrovertible about astrology is its popularity. Mystic Meg et al don't need to look up their stars to know if they're going to be in the money or sleeping on the streets come Wednesday. Salaries for top players, among them Jonathan Cainer and Russell Grant, are reported to stretch to seven figures, once takings from related phone lines and websites are accounted for. And Seymour, with this, his second book on science and astrology, has undoubtedly benefited from the eagerness of people to give up their money for a heavenly belief.
The popularity of astrology, is to some at least, driven by a need for a substitute for religion, a desire to believe that life is reassuringly out of one's hands. "When you have the decline of organised religion in the conventional sense, you get people looking for other things, whether it's Californian crystals or a daily horoscope. It provides some kind of psychological prop. I have no wish to suppress it, I just don't think it's a useful way of interpreting the world," says Massey.
But there is one certainty that we can predict in confidence: Seymour's book will not be the end of the argument. While there is no proof that either side can trumpet, there will be noises made. "Maybe being born in the summer gives you a predisposition to a certain type of behaviour, I don't know. But I do know it's highly unlikely to have anything to do with where Mars, Saturn, Jupiter or Venus are in the sky that night," says Massey.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
By UTE VON DER HEYDEN
Glenn Grossman refers to himself as a "resort doctor." And he's not talking about an office in the Poconos. He means "doctor of LAST resort." Grossman laughs with delight at that description.
"After they've been everywhere else and they've done everything else, they finally come in here and look for a treatment that will give them the kinds of results they are looking for," he says. Grossmann is talking about many of the patients who come to see him for acupuncture at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Okemos.
Grossman can afford a little self-deprecating humor because he is convinced that the Traditional Chinese Medicine he practices, of which acupuncture is one form, can deliver the goods.
"The great thing about the Chinese medicine approach is the way you think about the health care situation," he says. "What's the difference between the world today and the world 5,000 years ago? It's the same sun, the same Earth, the same trees. The difference is the way we think about it. Chinese medicine is a very old way of thinking about things — an easy way to communicate between the patient and the doctor."
Diagnosis of inclusion
Paul Wright /City Pulse Acupuncturist Glenn Grossman prepares an herbal formula in his Okemos office. "Chinese medicine is a diagnosis of inclusion," Grossman says. "You say you have something like a cough and a fever, so you go in and in Western medicine, which is a diagnosis of exclusion, they say 'You don't have this, you don't have that, we're ruling out TB, we're ruling out pneumonia, we're ruling out bronchitis.' They start down a list of things they want to rule out.
"Chinese medicine is more the other way. It's not what you DON'T have, it's what you DO have. 'I feel discomfort. I feel cold. I feel hot.' That's generally how people experience their own feeling about being alive. This is all very meaningful in traditional Chinese medicine. That's the language we don't have in Western medicine in terms of the patient-physician relationship."
Grossman also thinks that "you can use acupuncture for pretty much 90 percent of what happens to you during the course of your life — for the health problems that you have during your life. "There are some things where acupuncture wouldn't be the preferred way to treat you initially, but it would help later on," he says.
More and more, out in the world there is agreement for Grossman's point of view. One in 10 adults has had acupuncture in the United States, making it one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine. A recent survey found that more than half of physicians (51 percent) believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture, and 43 percent have referred patients for acupuncture treatment.
The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture for 28 common ailments, and an advisory panel of the National Institutes of Health recognizes acupuncture's suitability for treating many of the same conditions. They include, among others, disorders of the ear, nose and throat; respiratory and gastro-intestinal disorders; neurological and muscular problems; and gynecological issues.
It is also reported that acupuncture is now the most commonly researched of all alternative types of medical treatment. "Harvard University is a very big proponent of acupuncture," says Rhonda Struble, Ph.D., who practices acupuncture two days a week at the Creative Wellness Holistic Health Center in East Lansing and has practices in other Michigan localities as well. "Millions of dollars of research are going on there, and they teach it to all the medical students," she adds. "I truly believe it's going to be part of mainstream medicine, just like massage is now."
She quotes Dr. David Eisenberg, the head of Harvard's program to promote Chinese medicine in this country, as saying: "My hope is that when five or 10 universities have sustainable infrastructures for research, education, and responsible patient care in this area, we will forget the term 'alternative' and 'complementary' altogether and simply provide the best available medicine, based on the best available information."
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theories of the flow of energy, known as Qi (the body's life force) and Xue, through channels in our bodies called meridians. Meridians are similar to, but not the same as, the nervous and circulatory systems. Acupuncture literally means "needle piercing," the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin at strategic point along the meridians to bring energy to parts of the body where it is needed and to draw it from places where there is an excess, thereby bringing the body into balance. Finding the appropriate insertion points is based on 2,000 years of mapping by Chinese doctors. Recently the location of these points has been confirmed by electromagnetic research.
"People have a misconception about the needles, because they think of injection-type needles when they think of acupuncture," Struble says. Struble, a chemical engineer in the automobile industry before selling her condo and leaving that life behind to get a degree in Chinese medicine, says she once took a typical blood-draw needle and found that she could get at least 20 of her acupuncture needles inside it. "That gives a person some idea of how tiny, tiny they are," she says.
Like Grossman, Renee J. Hubbs, owner of Integrated Health of Mid-Michigan in Okemos, has also had some experience with "last resort" people. Grossman, Hubbs and Struble, by the way, happily welcome these folks.
Hubbs was one of only eight acupuncturists in Michigan when she brought her practice here in 1990. She says her typical patients have "tried going through the medical model and they still haven't quite had the result they wanted with their particular condition, so at that point they figure, 'Why shouldn't I try this, I have nothing to lose, and maybe I have something to gain.'"
People also use acupuncture as "an adjunct to many mainstream conventional medicine things they're doing," Hubbs says. "We use it for everything from pain management to smoking cessation, allergy elimination, fertility treatment, gastro-intestinal disorders and facial rejuvenation. There's a wide birth of application with acupuncture."
Some of her favorite things to work with are allergies, smoking cessation and infertility. Hubbs has what she calls "a baby wall" in her office where she proudly shows off pictures of children given to her by patients she has helped treat for infertility.
Lately, Hubbs says, she has noticed a definite shift in the type of patient she is treating. Among the eight to 14 patients she may see a day, she is getting some people who are really looking to acupuncture as prevention, "a way of maintaining their health" instead of coming in after there's been a pathological disorder that has needed to be resolved. "That's a real difference I've seen," Hubbs says.
That shift in attitude and action is good news for fellow practitioner Struble. One of her goals, too, is to help people see acupuncture as health maintenance. "Usually people only come in here when they're not well. It's more of a disease-care process than it is health care, and that's something that I would like to change.
"I want people to understand that by keeping their body healthy and fit and keeping the energy flowing properly, they can maintain good health. I think that has a little ways to go yet, but that's coming as well."
Both Struble and Hubbs are strong proponents of acupuncture treatments with the change of seasons. "The Chinese say that even the healthiest people should have at least four treatments a year, and the best time to do that is at the change of seasons," Struble says.
"That's a concept that Western medicine hasn't stopped to reflect upon very often," Hubbs says. "It would change the face of health care in our country if they did reflect upon it, because that's really the highest order of healing. It's not what you can do after something has happened, but what you can do to stay in health and highest alignment so that you don't come down with anything."
Although Hubbs, Struble and Grossman use acupuncture as the primary treatment, they also offer a number of other methods depending on the needs of their patients. One is herbal medicine.
"Acupuncture tends to work from the outside in, while the Chinese herbs work from the inside out, so for some conditions they form a beautiful tapestry together," Struble says. "For the more internal conditions like depression, infertility, asthma, insomnia and allergies, a person would do very well using both acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Chinese herbs safe alternative
"The nice thing about the herbs is that they have been around for thousands of years — they're tested. We know how to combine the herbs. They've been around so, so long that we know what they're good for and how they work," Struble says. "To me that's comforting. Where a lot of these herbs today and medications are relatively new and we're not sure what's going to happen when you take them, Chinese herbs are a very safe alternative."
Hubbs is equally enthusiastic. "Nutrition has always been a big love of mine," she says. "In some patients, the biochemical pathways might not be fully engaged. I work with stimulating the pathways not only through acupuncture but also with applied clinical nutrition."
Grossman says that it's "kind of an historical accident that we're more interested in acupuncture than we are in Chinese herbal medicine." He tells how acupuncture first became known in America when New York Times correspondent James Reston accompanied President Nixon on his 1972 trip to China.
While in China, Reston had acute appendicitis. Although traditional surgery was performed, he received acupuncture treatments to relieve his post-operative pain. Reston reported immediate and permanent cessation of his discomfort, Grossman says. Reston wrote, "I have seen the past, and it works."
"That became a big deal in the American medical community," Grossman says. "They asked themselves why would sticking a couple of pins into somebody make their pain go away — pain control being a very difficult topic in medicine.
Although all three acupuncturists predict a bright future for the role of acupuncture in health care, they agree that Michigan, compared to other parts of the United States, is behind the times in accepting acupuncture politically and culturally.
"Michigan is one of the holdouts," Struble maintains. "In most of the country, on the East Coast, the West Coast, California, Florida, Texas, acupuncture is already mainstream. It's covered by insurance, it's done in the hospitals, and it's become part of Western medicine."
Grossman chooses stronger language, calling Michigan "the Wild West" when it comes to thinking about acupuncture. "We're about 20 years behind the rest of the country," he says.
Some additional information
Glenn Grossman, Center for Integrative Medicine of Okemos, 4655 Dobie Road. Ste. 270 # C, Okemos. (517) 381-8173.
Licensed acupuncturist in California, Master of Science in Oriental Medicine, National Board Certification in Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture, post-graduate training in China, instructor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Initial visit: $95. 1-hour session: $90. Half-hour session: $50.
Renee J. Hubbs, Integrated Health of Mid-Michigan, 4111 Okemos Road, Suite 102, Okemos. (517) 349-5219.
California board-certified acupuncturist, graduate of California School of Acupuncture, board-certified in Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbs, certification in
Initial visit: $150 (includes Meridian Stress Assessment). One-hour session: $100. Half-hour session: $60.
Dr. Rhonda Struble, Creative Wellness Holistic Health Center, 2025 Abbott Road, Suite 200, East Lansing (517) 351-9240.
Ph.D. in acupuncture and oriental medicine from Guangzhou University in China, nationally-certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, has been on faculty of Midwest College of Oriental Medicine. One-hour session: $65. Initial visit: $90.
Note: All three acupuncturists require a referral from your physician, either an M.D. or D.O., before acupuncture services are provided. During that initial visit, all three also will discuss the range of modalities best suited for you. Grossman, who has his acupuncture license from California, says in that state the insurance commission has mandated that all insurances must pay for acupuncture. "So they all pay," he says, "even California's equivalent of our Medicaid program pays for 24 visits a year. "In California I'm considered a primary care physician; in Michigan I'm considered nothing."
Most insurance companies in Michigan do not reimburse for acupuncture treatments, but some are beginning to look at the possibility. Blue Cross Blue Shield, for instance, covers up to a maximum of 20 treatments a year for certain conditions like migraine and osteoarthritis if the acupuncture is performed by or under the supervision of a licensed M.D. or D.O.
No licensure yet
Michigan does not license acupuncturists. "Michigan is only one of six states in the United States that doesn't regulate or license us," says Hubbs. She emphasizes that this leaves the door open for people to come into the state and set up schools or decide to do things that promote acupuncture without having quality standards of practice. "It's a huge issue," she says.
Progress, however, is being made in that arena. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature, which Hubbs says has been favorably received. Primarily pushing the legislation is the Michigan Acupuncture Association of Oriental Medicine, the organization of Michigan's approximately 50 acupuncturists who have been working on a bill for years.
"If the bill doesn't pass this year, it will next," Grossman contends. "Why should we be the last state in the union to get on board? It's just a matter of time. It depends a lot on the economy here — if the economy is still going down the tubes as we get closer to the election, people are not going to be interested in anything. If the economy starts to pick up, they'll be interested."
A Radio Web Show Hosted by Dr. Pieter C. Taams at talknetradio on the World Side Web Every Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific - Codex Alimenatarius Exposed for What it is - Suppresssion of Natural Therapies Exposed Codes alimentarius is designed to curtail the use of vitamins, minerals, and botanical worldwide. Once accepted by the EU next year, it is mandatory for Countries which want to join the World Health Organization to adopt the Codex Regulations and eradicate alternative Health Care as we know it.
(PRWEB) May 19, 2004 -- Last Thursday Dr. Pieter C. Taams, and Mr. John Hammell of the International Alliance of Health Freedom exposed an insidious attack on Alternative Medicine. Supprising developements have occurred since, which will be followed up on at the show which is scheduled to take place May 20, 2004 at 5 p.m. at talknetradio on the world side web.
The Codex Alimentarius is the means by which "technical barriers to trade" are used as the enforcement document to limit the use of vitamins and minerals not only in the EU countries, but worldwide, since no country is allowed to partake in the Word Trade Organization without adopting the Codex Regulations. The fall of 2005 implies the fall of the Alternative Medical Establishment as matters now stand.
Dr. Taams and his guests Dr. Kelly Farnsworht and Mr. John Hammell will be discussing the extreme global importance of the Aliance for Natural Health lawsuit in Europe. At this time an expose will begiven of the latest conspirary against Alternative Medicine.
Visit Dr. Taams' website and click on the radio archives to hear the latest developments in the battle for Freedom of Health.
Tuesday's conclusion by the prestigious Institute of Medicine pointed to five large studies, here and abroad, that tracked thousands of children since 2001 and found no association between autism and vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal.
Many parents of autistic children blame vaccination for the brain disorder.
But the panel of prominent scientists said that while high doses of mercury can cause neurological damage, there's no evidence that this type of damage causes the symptoms specific to autism -- and no laboratory or animal research that proves how the much smaller amounts of mercury in thimerosal could do so either, the IOM concluded.
On the other hand, genetics plays a role in autism, and several studies show clear signs of prenatal onset of the disorder, including brain differences at birth, the report notes.
"Don't misunderstand: The committee members are fully aware that this is a very horrible and devastating condition," said Dr. Marie McCormick, a Harvard professor of maternal and child health who led the IOM probe. "It's important to get to the root of what's happening."
But, "there seem to be lots of opportunities for research that would be more productive" than continuing the vaccine hunt.
Autism is a complex developmental disorder best known for impairing a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. Recent data suggest a tenfold increase in autism rates over the last decade, although it's not clear how much of the apparent surge reflects better diagnosis and how much is a true rise.
Thimerosal has been used as a preservative in some vaccines and other medicines since the 1930s. Although the amount of mercury it contains is very small, vaccine makers began phasing out thimerosal in 1999 as a precaution urged by public health officials. It now has been virtually eliminated in routine childhood vaccines.
Vaccine critics didn't immediately comment on the report.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press
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May. 18, 2004 12:00 AM
The editorial Thursday, "Faith vs. fact," starts off with a false assumption and then proceeds to further display the Editorial Board's prejudice.
The theory of evolution is just that - an unproven theory. And believe me, if the secular left could prove evolution it would have the Supreme Court strike the word theory from every textbook in America.
Face the facts: Evolution will never be more than a theory because every cockeyed explanation they come up with can be shot full of holes. None of their fuzzy premises can stand on their own, and they know it.
Let's take your other brilliant statement, "Religion is not science." Duh.
The No. 1 definition of science: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. So how is evolution any more "science" than intelligent design?
Just admit the real truth: Science is your religion, and there is no room for God in your "logical" world. - Brad W. Taylor, Phoenix
NIH is funding $30 million review of controversial heart disease treatment
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
By Virginia Linn, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For years, chelation therapy, an alternative treatment for cardiovascular disease provided by scores of clinics around the country, has been assailed by some mainstream medical doctors as nothing more than a waste of money.
Now the National Institutes of Health has launched the first large-scale, $30 million, randomized clinical trial that finally may provide concrete evidence of whether the therapy really works.
"We needed to have a definitive study," said Dr. Ralph Miranda, a staunch supporter who has offered chelation therapy in his practice since the early 1980s.
His Wholistic Health Center in Greensburg is one of more than 100 sites in the country, including three in Pennsylvania, participating in the five-year Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, or TACT. The study is sponsored by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Miranda, former president of American College for Advancement in Medicine, has fended off critics and tried to clarify misinformation about the therapy that he contends is safe, effective, and far less expensive and invasive than bypass surgery for the 7 million Americans who have cardiovascular disease.
The treatment involves injecting the synthetic amino acid EDTA into the bloodstream that, proponents say, reduces damaging effects of oxygen and removes calcium to break up the plaque that clogs arteries.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the therapy, pronounced key-LAY-shun, only to treat heavy metal poisoning, such as lead, in which EDTA -- for ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid -- latches onto heavy metals So they can be excreted through the urine.
More than 2,300 participants nationally will be recruited over the next two years (Miranda is hoping to recruit 25 to 30 volunteers). Half will receive a placebo. Because high doses of antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements often are given during treatment to help repair damage to arteries, low and high doses of this regimen also will be tested.
The study is seeking nonsmoking men and women ages 50 and older who already have had heart attacks. Treatment involves 40 infusions of the standard chelation solution or a placebo given over 28 months. Participants will receive more than $4,000 in free treatments.
Peter Uram, 75, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who lives in Butler, recently signed up at the Greensburg site. He had a heart attack nearly six years ago, followed by quadruple bypass surgery, but lately hasn't been feeling well.
"Just in the last year, I've had shortness of breath. I don't want to do much anymore. I have difficulty cutting the grass, carrying groceries."
Another bypass is not an option, he said, because the veins in his legs cannot be used for the procedure. "If I want to live longer, what option do I have?"
Although he doesn't know whether he's getting the real treatment or the placebo, he said he feels more energized.
The study's eligibility criteria and treatment regimen are rigorous, Miranda said. Study leaders at Mount Sinai Medical Center-Miami Heart Institute must approve the eligibility of all participants.
But in the end, he hopes the study -- 20 times larger than any previous study on chelation therapy -- will be able to show once and for all whether the treatment works, is safe and is cost effective.
(Health Editor Virginia Linn can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1662.)
The Case For A Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence
that Points Toward God
2004, Zondervan; 352p.
A defense of "intelligent design" creationism at a layman's level. Strobel, allegedly an investigative journalist, goes around interviewing leading ID proponents to create the impression that evolution is scientifically dead. There are no surprises in the resulting book, but its level of dishonesty is disturbing. Everything takes place within the hermetically sealed world of conservative Christianity; Strobel doesn't bother to check with any of the benighted evolutionists he thinks are being left behind by the advancement of ID-science why they still think evolution is fine. It's worth looking at for anyone in a position of arguing against ID publicly, because Strobel's simpleminded and tunnel-visioned approach is likely to be common.
Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.
Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer
By Lisa Kocian and Connie Paige, Globe Staff And Globe Correspondent | May 17, 2004
A scientist who was educated at Harvard and MIT and known for his passionate promotion of cold fusion was slain in a possible robbery Friday night, police in Norwich, Conn., said.
Eugene Mallove, 56, of Pembroke, N.H., was unresponsive when police found him in a Norwich house owned by his parents, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Several items were taken from him, including his Dodge Caravan, which was found hours later in an employee parking lot at the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino, police said.
Mallove worked in Concord, N.H., as editor-in-chief and publisher of Infinite Energy magazine and president of the New Energy Foundation, both of which explore alternative forms of energy not generally recognized by mainstream scientists.
"One measure of the type of man he is is that we've had thousands and thousands of e-mails and phone calls already. It's fresh news, but it's all over the world already," said Christy Frazier, managing editor of the magazine, when reached by phone yesterday.
"It's going to impact the world, not just his friends and family," she said of Mallove's death. "This will change the face of new energy. He was the biggest fighter for new energy and new energy inventors."
From a professional standpoint, the loss is particularly difficult, said Frazier, because the US Department of Energy had recently announced it had ordered a review of cold fusion for the first time since 1989, which Mallove had called a "breakthrough" in a New Hampshire newspaper interview. Cold fusion, a theoretical way of creating energy, has been largely discounted by the scientific establishment. Proponents hope it could produce cheaper, safer electricity, among other things.Mallove wrote several books and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his 1991 work "Fire and Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor." Frazier, who worked alongside Mallove for six years, recalled him as caring and generous.
Although he was perhaps best known as an expert in cold fusion, Mallove's 1975 doctorate from Harvard University was in Environmental Health Sciences, and he earned a bachelor's in 1969 and a master's in 1970 in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to a biography provided by Frazier. Mallove also worked as a consultant to corporations and investment firms doing research and development of cold fusion, according to his biography, and he was the chief science writer at the MIT News Office when cold fusion first came on the scene.
He worked as technical adviser on the 1997 thriller "The Saint," an action movie centered on the discovery and control of cold fusion.
Police said robbery was a possible motive in the killing, and they were looking for anyone who saw Mallove's green 1993 Dodge Caravan after 7 p.m. Friday. The death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy performed Saturday at the office of the Connecticut chief state medical examiner.
The cause of death was blunt force injuries to the victim's head and neck, according to Norwich police.
Norwich police Captain Franklyn Ward said yesterday afternoon that he could not say whether one or more individuals participated in the attack or what kind of blunt instrument was used.
Mallove's family usually rented out the house they owned in Norwich, but it was vacant at the time of the killing, Ward said.
Mallove leaves his wife, Joanne; his daughter, Kimberlyn; his son, Ethan; and his mother, Gladys. According to Frazier, the family was celebrating the recent birth of Mallove's first grandchild. Norwich police Lieutenant John A. John said that 20 to 25 people were working on the case yesterday afternoon, including local police and investigators from the office of the state's attorney for the Norwich district, Kevin T. Kane, and the State Police Major Crimes Squad.
Associated Press material was used in this report. Lisa Kocian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Sentinel & Enterprise
By The Associated Press
Monday, May 17, 2004 -
NORWICH, Conn. (AP) -- Police are investigating the killing of a New Hampshire science writer who championed cold fusion.
Eugene Mallove, 56, of Pembroke, N.H., died late Friday night after being assaulted at a house owned by his parents, police said. The family rented out the house.
Mallove died of injuries to his head and neck, the Norwich Bulletin reported Sunday. The office of the chief state's medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
Mallove was discovered at the house after police received a report of an injured person. An initial investigation indicated a robbery and a fight had taken place, police said. Several unidentified items were taken and Mallove's minivan was missing.
His 1993 green Dodge Caravan was found early Saturday in an employee parking lot at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket. Police were looking for anyone who saw the minivan after 7 p.m. Friday. It had several large bumper stickers on the back, including one advertising his magazine's Web site: www.infinite-energy.com
Mallove, who moved from Norwich to Bow, N.H., in 1987 and to Pembroke three years ago, was president of the Concord, N.H.-based New Energy Institute and editor-in-chief of its magazine, "Infinite Energy."
The magazine's managing editor, who worked with him for six years, called Mallove the "most caring and giving person I probably have ever known -- a very successful, brilliant man."
by Kim Mines
CLARKSBURG -- Was the earth really created in six days? What happened to the dinosaurs? Where do fossils come from?
According to Ken Ham, president and founder of Answers in Genesis, the answers are all found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
Ham will be speaking at the Answers in Genesis conference May 21-22 at Robert C. Byrd High School.
"It is a blessing for the Christian community to have such a world-renowned speaker come to our area," said Jay Wolfe, chairman for the event. "The best part is that it's free. Typically, it costs $35 per family."
Ham, a native Australian who now resides near Cincinnati, is one of the most in-demand Christian speakers in North America. He is the author of numerous books on Genesis, the accuracy and authority of the Bible, and creationism vs. evolution.
His radio show, "Answers with Ken Ham," is heard on 680 stations worldwide. He is also a contributing author for Creation magazine. A former teacher, Ham is concerned with how education teaches the theory of evolution as fact and how the whole scientific aspect of the Bible is being ignored.
Others from Answers in Genesis participating in the conference are Buddy Davis, Michael Oard and Stacia McKeever.
Davis is a dinosaur sculptor, author/speaker and popular musician. He is also an accomplished paleo-artist, specializing in building life-sized dinosaur sculptures for Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum near Cincinnati.
He will sing selections from his eight CDs.
An expert on Noah's Flood, the Ice Age and Mammoths, Oard recently retired from the National Weather Service as a meteorologist. He'll give illustrated talks on the compelling evidence for Noah's Flood and the Ice Age that resulted, and how the woolly mammoth connects to biblical history.
He is also author of a children's book, "Life in the Great Ice Age," and a book for teens and adults, "The Weather Book."
McKeever is an author and children's speaker. She'll lead workshops for ages 4-6 using a variety of hands-on activities, taking children on a journey through the "7Cs of History."
She graduated summa cum laude in biology and psychology, and has been working full-time for Answers in Genesis (USA) since 1997. She is also a co-author of the Answers for Kids section in Creation magazine, and has written or co-authored a number of articles for that magazine and also for the AiG Web site.
Local church pastors and lay leaders are excited about the conference.
In March, Ham spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at a breakfast/planning meeting held at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport. At that time, the planning committee and local church leaders set out to raise enough money to bring the conference to Clarksburg at no cost to the community.
"We have raised over $14,000 so we can offer it to the community for free," Wolfe said.
Wolfe added that he felt it was important for everyone to attend the conference.
"There are two world views -- God is or God isn't -- creation or evolution," Wolfe said. "Which one is the predominant world view, espoused by most information media?"
He added that the church must take responsibility for allowing the creation world view to be defeated in our culture. It is time, he said, to "equip ourselves with the sword of the spirit, which is the truth of God's word, and enter the science arena to battle for the hearts and minds of the young people of this generation."
Wolfe said that he realizes that the creation world view is controversial.
"Some will be skeptical," he said. "But the people who are still open-minded even though they now believe in evolution can come out and hear a specialist. They can then analyze for themselves the creation point of view."
Rev. David Hulme of Clarksburg Baptist Church said that hearing Ham speak and reading his books has radically changed the way he looks at some issues facing the church and society.
"I have his book and DVD series, and we've watched it at church," he said. "There seems to be a lot of interest. I think it's because he uses the whole of scripture, not just the creation."
Tressa Shaw of Bridgeport is hoping that everyone attends Answers in Genesis.
"Everyone should come and see that God's word is truth from beginning to end," she said.
Ham will also speak May 23 at Calvary Baptist and Trinity Assembly of God churches. To pre-register for workshops or for more information, call 622-2241
May. 17, 2004 12:00 AM
Your editorial last Thursday, "Faith vs. fact," requires a response.
We might well agree with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and ASU President Michael Crow that science and religion should not be intermingled in the education process. We might also agree that evidence for the descent of all life from a common ancestor is a theory amply supported by a number of independent lines of evidence. It is a theory without any significant challenges, a theory that students should be taught, just as they are taught atomic theory and other theories of science.
The problem comes when biology teachers use the theory of natural selection to insert their own faith into the educational process. Natural selection is the apparent process driving evolution. Since science can observe nothing but chance events underlying natural selection, the claim is made that evolution is unplanned, undirected and without goals or destiny.
Obviously then, God, if he exists at all, had no hand in the process.
Presumably this is an acceptable conclusion, because it is "scientific." When (some years back) I taught biology at ASU, there were colleagues who made this particular point in their teaching. Yet it is a faith, just as much as faith in a God who is actively involved in the world and who purposely directs events we can only observe as random.
The concept of intelligent design (completely misunderstood in the editorial) does not deny the truth of evolution. It asserts there are biological mechanisms that cannot be explained as originating through blind, unplanned, natural selection. It is not unscientific to investigate the possibility of intelligent design.
The fact is, separating faith from fact in the educational process is impossible. Better for students to look at theories from all sides and consider both the assumptions and the implications of the theories.
Anything less is less than true education. - R.S. Beal Jr. Prescott
The writer is retired and a former professor of zoology and dean of the Graduate College, Northern Arizona University.
The pilots grew nervous during a routine drugs surveillance flight in March when their radar detected strange objects flying nearby and an infrared camera showed 11 blobs of light, invisible to the eye, hovering or darting about their plane.
Mexico's Air Force this week released footage from the infrared camera that was shown widely on television.
As Mexican and international media published photographs of the objects, UFO Web sites saw the case as possible evidence of a new sighting of some form of extraterrestrial life.
But nuclear science researcher Julio Herrera said the blobs of light may have been nothing more than ball lightning -- glowing spheres that are little understood but often sighted near the ground during thunderstorms.
"Just as you have lightning between clouds and ground, you can also have it within the clouds and sometimes ball lightning can develop. I feel this is one of these rare events," said Herrera, based at Mexico's National Autonomous University.
"It's a very rare atmospheric phenomenon and it would be very interesting to be able to analyze all the information these pilots obtained," he told Reuters.
UFO follower Jaime Maussan said on Tuesday the objects seemed "intelligent" after they turned around to surround the plane chasing them -- but Herrera said electrical discharges in ball lightning could have been attracted to the plane as a conductor.
Copyright 2004 Reuters
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By Tona Kunz Daily Herald Staff Writer
Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton is an example of the symbiotic nature of traditional and alternative medicine in the suburbs.
The hospital has been on the leading edge of integrative medicine for a decade, combining massage, meditation and acupuncture with physical rehabilitation to speed up recovery.
"Basically, the practice of rehabilitative medicine is really naturally holistic," said Kathleen Yosko, Marianjoy chief executive officer. "We also are getting more and more into prevention."
The hospital opened a branch in Oak Brook two years ago that gives healthy people a chance to try out some of the activities used in the rehabilitation hospital. Classes are offered in aromatherapy, tai chi, massage, yoga, Pilates and meditation.
But the hospital remains known for the success it has had with integrative medicine at its Wheaton campus. There, Dr. Gouri Chaudhuri has taught meditation to stroke patients for 6 ¨ years.
"We found their length of stay was shorter by four days, and their use of medication for sleeping went down significantly, by 45 percent," she said.
Functions such as bladder control, speech and muscle movement also improved. Chaudhuri says the benefits stem from increasing focus, which enables people to learn faster and retain more of what they learn. The relaxation caused by the meditation also leads to deeper sleep, which helps the body heal faster.
Andrew Weil touts the same benefits for healthy adults. In his book "Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing," Weil says a pattern of eight breathing exercises can lead to increased energy, lower blood pressure, improved circulation and reduced anxiety. He said research hospitals have had success with his breathing and imagery techniques for controlling pain in children.
"I think that this integrative medicine movement is poised to become mainstream," Weil said. "The only obstacle is reimbursement."
Stroke victim Dave Saboe of Naperville is an example of the new breed of consumers who are taking a second look at practices that were once considered only for recreation: meditation, yoga and tai chi.
Saboe practiced breath control and relaxation as part of his martial arts training. But now, following his stoke, he looks to meditation to aid his recovery. So far, he said, it seems to be making him stronger.
Doris DuPont didn't discover meditation until she came to Marianjoy following a stroke. She wishes she'd taken it up earlier.
"I don't think I have ever been able to quiet my mind like this. I feel so rested. I feel so good," she said.
As the hospital's meditation program has grown in fame, people have increasingly come in search of it.
Weil hopes people start searching out similar programs even before they get sick.
"I would love to see (meditation) taught from kindergarten on up," he said.
SCOTTISH FEATURE WRITER OF THE YEAR
FROM the moment a patient walks into his consulting room, Jan de Vries studies every tiny detail. The way they walk. The way they talk. Hair. Eyes. Not so different, then, from the professional interviewer. So here is that very first glimpse of the interviewee: up through the stairwell of his Edinburgh clinic, Jan de Vries is visible on the top landing. An array of our photographerâ€™s equipment is spread out and de Vries stands, a small figure in a neat suit and tie, hands clasped one over the other, smiling stiffly at the camera. Climbing towards him, I notice he looks uncomfortable facing the lens.
Downstairs, we observe one another across his desk. Sometimes, he claims, he can tell what is wrong with a person before they speak. For my part, I look at de Vriesâ€™s eyes. At first, I wonder if they are a little hard. He has small, black pupils. I suspect he is a little quirky despite that conventional suit. Quaint, formal, incredibly courteous. And intense, a deep grain of seriousness running beneath his smile, like the grain running beneath polished wood.
Perhaps such observations donâ€™t convince. Where is the evidence? But then sometimes de Vriesâ€™s patients think his instant diagnosis is mystical, when actually he has been studying concrete physical symptoms. Intuition, too, may seem random, but is often based on quite specific signals: the warmth of a smile, a fleeting expression, the tone of a voice. We might find it hard to interpret or define those signals. It doesnâ€™t mean we havenâ€™t received them.
Complementary medicine sometimes seems to exist in that twilight world of hunches. You either get it or you donâ€™t. Like conservation and feminism, it has baggage that can be as much to do with the supporters as the cause itself. Alternative therapies? Cranky, unscientific, downright weird. Or is that just Prince Charles?
Charles is one of its most famous advocates, and around 20% of the British population agree with him; we spend Â£1.6 billion a year on complementary therapies. But the proof? Scientific data does exist. De Vries himself has been involved in extensive research with the Dutch health service, which showed alternative therapies to be twice as effective as conventional ones in treating rheumatoid arthritis. But there are difficulties. We can see how acupuncture, homoeopathy and herbalism might be tested. But how do you gauge the effects of thinking positively? Of becoming more spiritual? According to de Vries, both affect health.
As Britainâ€™s most famous alternative health practitioner, de Vries was a health guru on Richard and Judyâ€™s This Morning and has taken part in countless other radio and television programmes, particularly with broadcaster Gloria Hunniford. He has ten clinics throughout Britain, including those in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Troon and London, and he has written 40 books, the latest of which is on cancers in women.
De Vries is worried by the huge increase in cancer cases. On the table by his window is a framed photograph of Hunniford, whose daughter, the broadcaster Caron Keating, died of breast cancer just weeks ago. Hunniford was sceptical when she first worked with de Vries, but gradually she was converted. When she broke her arm and was told it would not mend completely, she consulted de Vries. Her surgeon was astonished by her subsequent rapid improvement. Hunniford and de Vries became friends, so it was natural that Keating should consult him when she became ill.
De Vries looks at me across his desk. It is important to talk about breast cancer. Important to talk about Keating. He spoke to Hunniford and asked if he should write about her, and Hunniford said yes, she knew he would do it in the right way. But de Vries is a careful man.
We will go and eat, he and I. His treat. I think he is still assessing me. We will talk about Keating later.
WhEN Jan de Vries first came to Scotland from Holland, he visited the only complementary clinic then in operation. What, he asked the clinicâ€™s principal, was the Scottish cancer rate? "I am sorry to have to tell you," came the reply, "that it is one in 18." It is now almost one in three.
De Vries has never forgotten the principalâ€™s words. You must remember, he said, that cancer is a metabolic disease. It had a lot to do with what you eat and drink. "He said that as the world develops," recalls de Vries, "and the stresses get bigger, it will be a growing problem. And he was right."
De Vries and I are now sitting in an expensive restaurant, eating the best seafood, vegetables and fruit. There is something delicious not just about the food, but about his sense of pleasure in it. Waiters come and go, and as each little delicacy is presented there is another exclamation of delight. How lovely! Isnâ€™t it delicious? He thanks staff until they blush, his Dutch accent peppered with Scottish inflexions. "How well you look after us here," he says in amazement, with such gratitude that you would have thought they were doing it for free.
Positive attitude, perhaps. His book gives detailed dietary advice. But it also discusses the function of the mind in a healthy body, the importance of thinking positively and dealing adequately with stress. "Every day the question I get is why is there so much cancer? Cancer is as old as the Bible. But it is a big, growing problem. I would say it is probably because of society today, because of eating habits, pollution, a whole list of reasons. But most are to do with the stressful way we live and the problems we have - unhappy marriages, resentment at work, traumatic experiences."
De Vries was the youngest pharmacy graduate in Holland. But he was worried - rightly, as it turned out - about the growing use of antibiotics then taking place. When he met the Swiss naturopath Dr Alfred Vogel, with whom he would later found the homoeopathic company Bioforce, he became intrigued by alternative medicine. He studied in China, learning various techniques, including acupuncture and Chinese facial diagnosis.
It was not an easy transition. "The beginning was terribly difficult. You were standing there in cloud-cuckoo-land. Nobody believed in it; nobody wanted to know."
That included his parents. Hitler and Himmler were well-known advocates of homoeopathic medicine, and many homoeopathic doctors had been Nazi supporters. The stigma remained. "My father and mother couldnâ€™t cope with that."
Itâ€™s hardly surprising. De Vries was brought up in the Dutch town of Kempen, and his family suffered greatly during the war. His father and older brother, Nicholas, refused to register with the Nazis and were taken away by the SS, his father to Auschwitz. De Vries was left behind with his mother, "a wonderful woman", who harboured many refugees. Was he aware of the danger? "Yes," he says flatly. "I was scared the Germans would shoot her. I saw them with a gun at her head. But I donâ€™t know what that woman had. She had something that meant they didnâ€™t dare pull the trigger. She was something special."
De Vries had a strictly religious upbringing, and his own Christian faith was shaped by war experiences. Once, a desperate man, covered in scabies and wearing only one clog, came to their door. The Germans were after him. De Vriesâ€™s mother hid him under the floorboards with others she was protecting. "The Germans came into town in their big cars, shouting and screaming. I was scared, my mother even more so. She said, â€˜Get down on your knees and pray to God.â€™ Believe it or not, they turned every house upside down but never touched ours. Is that not a miracle?"
De Vries reunited his mother with the man just before she died, in 1993.
His father returned from Auschwitz "a wreckage". His brother Nicholas fared better. "He was a fantastic footballer, a great sportsman. He was always in the limelight. He was everything I am not: tall, good-looking, charming, absolutely gorgeous. All the women fell for him. He was also a nice fellow."
And smart. Nicholas lied to the SS, telling them he was a wonderful cook. He became one of their chefs, managing also to feed himself. By charming several women he worked with, he also got food to his father a couple of times.
De Vries's father influenced his beliefs about cancer and, like most people, his life has been touched by the disease. His sister was born with it but survived; the husband of one of his four daughters now suffers from it; and his father died from it. His father's was a strange case. Forty years after returning from Auschwitz, he fell through a roof. He had been perfectly healthy but was so ill the next day that he couldn't swallow. Cancer of the oesophagus was diagnosed. When he was operated on, it was discovered the tumour must have been there many years and was growing in every direction. Six months later, he died.
De Vries believes his father's cancer began in the concentration camps, only becoming dangerous after his fall. Physical and emotional trauma, he argues, exacerbate cancer. He believes that also happened with Caron Keating.
Yet the practitioner himself sometimes works a coronary-inducing 90-hour week. Why is that not harmful? Because he loves it. His son-in-law once said to him, "I have asked myself what makes you tick. I have come to the conclusion that it is the challenge of your patients."
People tend to come to de Vries when they have exhausted conventional medicine. They have given up hope. That is the challenge. Inevitably, de Vries divides people. Some patients say he is the most wonderful man in the world. Another, who found her appointment too short and his remedies useless, tells me he is "a charlatan". Does he mind being controversial? He smiles. "I rather like it."
De Vries makes no grand claims. He uses the word "probably" a lot. And he does not talk of cures. It is too big a word. Others make the claims for him. In his book Living Proof: A Medical Mutiny, Oxford don Michael Gearin-Tosh described consulting de Vries after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He would not be alive today, he believes, had he not followed his advice.
But de Vries will not even talk of "treatment" for cancer. "By law, only oncologists can treat cancer. I am not allowed to, and never will, treat cancer, but I will advise patients how to back up hospital treatment. The person who is willing to go on to a more natural way of life probably has more chance of survival. There are two armies of cells fighting in the body - the army of the healthy cells and the army of the cancer cells. If the army of the cancer cells is winning, you have a problem. So you have to back it up to make the healthy cells as strong as you can."
Sometimes, I find interviews move up or down a gear because of a specific moment. The interview with de Vries is different, changing form slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, like an ice cube slowly melting into water. Who knows why we suddenly click? Not everything is a matter of logic. We talk late into the evening, gradually edging deeper into the spiritual beliefs he shared with Caron Keating. It can be spiritually demanding dealing with cancer patients. He saw13 in one day last week. "I went home and I was drained. I really was." His voice sounds drained now.
Peopleâ€™s hopes, their expectations, are they a burden to him? "I get upset," he says quietly, "when I see that hope in their eyes, and they look at you and they expect from you that you will keep them alive. And I keep saying to them, life is not in your hands or mine. Let us make the best of it."
It is time to talk about Keating.
CARON KEATING was co-presenting This Morning with Richard Madeley the day she first spoke to de Vries about breast cancer. He had a regular health slot and Keating asked him to come to her dressing-room after the show. De Vries had laughed. No, no, he had joked, he did not go to ladiesâ€™ dressing-rooms. Oh, he must, insisted Keating, and he must look at her breasts too. She was light-hearted then. But in her dressing-room, de Vries knew something was wrong. "Her nipple was already pulling. I said, â€˜You must go immediately to your doctor.â€™"
She went to the Royal Marsden the next day. Tests proved she had cancer, an aggressive form. With her surgeonâ€™s permission, she asked de Vries to help, augmenting her conventional treatment with complementary remedies. "I had a professor over from America for her, a Professor Shamsuddin, who had studied for 18 years how to control a cancer cell. That is basically what cancer is: cells out of control."
Professor Shamsuddin had done a lot of research into a protein called inositol, which is found on the inner wall of rice grains. "He told Gloria and Caron that was what he would advise her to take in a fairly big dosage. It did work, because although she had such an aggressive cancer that you would expect her to live only six months, she lived for seven years afterwards."
During those years, Keating suffered several setbacks. The first was when her father, Don Keating, died. De Vries had also been treating Don, and had warned Hunniford that her former husband was seriously ill. "Caron was really upset. She went very much down. She was very fond of him, very close to him, as she was to her mother. With cancer, physical and emotional trauma can make things much worse."
In fact, de Vries believes Keating might have lived longer had she not also suffered a physical trauma. Just weeks before she died, she fell at home. By this time, she was living in Australia but was still regularly in touch by phone. "I always tell patients with cancer to be careful of falls," says de Vries, thinking also of his father. "I think the end came a bit too quickly because of that. Thatâ€™s my personal belief. I donâ€™t know if the family believes that, but I believe it."
He also believes her illness changed her. "She became totally different. She was always a nice girl. But she changed and became very spiritual. A very nice person with a lot of good philosophies that helped a lot of people. She said herself that she had become different. I think she saw life to its full value."
One conversation in particular sticks in his mind. "About a year ago, I spoke to her in the middle of the night. She was very keen that we should do a series of programmes together on the soul of man. We spoke deeply, and I realised how spiritual she was. She wanted to do a programme about the connection between mind, body and spirit. We spoke a long time, and we both agreed the soul is by far the strongest of the three. I discussed it with her, how much the soul played in the health of the human body."
Keating knew she was dying, but believed she would have a new life. De Vries went to see her in London once. It was a lovely sunny day, the kind of day that must make it hard to contemplate dying. "I was amazed how deeply she spoke about her future. She had terrific faith. She was worried for her children, but she also spoke about what her life would be in the future. She said she would do her best as long as she was here, but she was quite convinced there was another life waiting."
Was she frightened? "No," he says immediately. "She completely trusted in the future. She told me during this illness that there is a bit more to life than just life. It has a much deeper meaning."
Her husband and children have taken it very badly, says de Vries sadly. And her mother? "Her mother was her best friend, really, a sister to her. They were so close."
He seems genuinely surprised when I ask if Hunniford has lost faith in alternative medicine because it couldnâ€™t save her daughter. After all, he says, Keating lived for seven years longer than she might have. "I think Caron was too big an example to everyone to lose faith."
So he knew she couldnâ€™t be cured? "I think everybody knew her cancer had to come to an end some time."
Keating believed in angels. De Vries does too, in "saving angels". He has been in car crashes, a hijacked plane... God saved him. I find that peculiar, I tell him. Didnâ€™ t God care about the people who died in crashes, then? Itâ€™s not that, says de Vries. "I think that you go when it is your time to go. I am quite sure that when your time is up, it is up."
And he believes it was Caron Keatingâ€™s time? "I think she believed that herself."
Right at the start, he said it was important to talk about her. What is it important to say? "That you are not neurotic if you see something unusual, that it is important to detect things early."
And Keating, what did she want to say? "She wanted to tell people of their inner strength, and how much in their souls they could develop to overcome physical and emotional trauma."
Did he go to her funeral? De Vries looks slightly discomfited. He should have. "Gloria was upset, but she saw all the obituaries I wrote and was very pleased with them."
He had several programmes that day, he says. At first I am shocked; it seems cold. But listening to him, I come to understand it is more to do with his attitude to public events. I read that he once refused to go to a public ceremony where he was to be a guest of honour. "I am not very keen on that sort of thing," he admits.
De Vries has treated many celebrities, but fame leaves him unmoved. "A lot of people who think they are somebody, it just puts my blood pressure up. I do appreciate the person who is a somebody and doesnâ€™t recognise it. I have met many people in my life who really were something. But they were so humble, not big pompous people."
The question of Keatingâ€™s funeral prompted him and his wife to discuss his own funeral. What did he want? That was easy, he told her. No fuss. Not even a newspaper intimation. "Nobody needs to know. I said to Joyce, â€˜Just the children and close family.â€™ I like to keep things simple."
We leave the restaurant, finally. De Vries, who writes a weekly newspaper column for free, is the first interviewee I have ever met who pays the bill. His motive? Generosity, I think. And also honour; I think he does not want payment, even in kind, for talking about Caron Keating.
He insists on walking me through the dark streets to my car. I insist on driving him through the dark streets to his hotel. It is the final glimpse, de Vries standing on the pavement, bending to wave through my car window with a warm smile.
Female Cancers by Jan de Vries is published by Mainstream (£5.99)
By Tona Kunz Daily Herald Staff Writer
Amy Rivera scans the shelves of the Whole Foods Market in Wheaton while her son, Ricky, runs ahead, grabbing handfuls of colored candy.
With bulging cheeks, the 9-year-old points out to his mom what's tasty and needs to go in the cart.
Little does he know that candy is medicine, of sorts.
By eating the organic candy with natural dyes, Ricky is staying away from the synthetic chemicals that advocates of integrative medicine, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, say can aggravate behavioral disorders like Ricky's attention deficit problem.
Ricky's mom, along with more than a dozen teachers, has come to the store to learn about one of the newest health crazes: nutrition as medicine.
The Aurora mom will pass on what she's learned to Ricky's teachers - and her family.
Holistic health guru Weil says that's the best lesson parents can pass on to their children.
Good eating is the basis for integrative medicine, the combination of traditional care - pills and surgery - with alternative, Eastern-based care such as herbal supplements and meditation.
The wealth of integrative medicine programs in the Chicago area, such as Whole Foods' nutrition classes, prompted Weil to divert his speaking tour to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn for a health expo, lecture and book-signing from 3 to 8:30 p.m. June 5. He'll speak about the value of nutrition and breathing techniques, which he considers the second-best weapon in your holistic medicine cabinet.
The Harvard Medical School graduate, online columnist and author of eight books on self-health agreed to come speak at the behest of area health agencies because of the demand in the area for medicine that combines traditional and alternative treatments.
"Chicago is an area where this is moving fairly quickly," he said.
Nutrition classes at health food stores and hospitals fill up in record time. Suburban high schools routinely take nutrition beyond the health class and the food pyramid. Math classes now compute body fat and teach students to calculate the percentage of ingredients in food. Science classes look at the body's physiology and how foods affect energy levels, concentration and retention.
Suburban hospitals offer nontraditional types of care or will refer clients to masseuses, acupuncturists, meditation counselors or dietitians. Central DuPage Hospital even opened an integrative medicine clinic last year in Geneva. A health forum last month in Lisle touted the fact that good eating can cut cancer risks by more than 30 percent.
Weil touts the same message as a regular guest of Oprah Winfrey and Larry King and in his newest book, "Optimum Health: Maximizing the Body's Own Healing Systems."
Good nutrition is the No. 1 key to preventing illness, maximizing your energy and getting better faster if a chronic disease does strike you, he says.
Weil promotes eating organic foods like those offered at Whole Foods, but he realizes not everyone can afford that. His books highlight the ingredients or food types that spur the body's own healing mechanisms and point out those that can do damage.
"The real culprit here is fast foods and processed snack foods," he said. "I think the main thing is learning ways of making foods yourself."
Although Weil's famous fluffy white beard has put a face on integrative medicine and brought it to the mainstream, a mix of Eastern and Western healing has touched the suburbs for years.
Debbie Randazzo of Warrenville became a convert years ago when she switched to organic foods and watched her bouts with sinus infection drop from four a year to maybe one mild case, even when she went off preventive decongestants.
Kelly Quinn, a nutritionist and fitness expert at Elmhurst Hospital, has seen a steady increase in interest in alternative care in the past five years. More and more people are focusing on preventing heart attacks and strokes as well as cancer using food and exercises like Pilates.
"People are more centered and more interested in health for their whole body," she said.
In the past year, 42 percent of Americans spent $300 billion on nontraditional types of medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
But that trend has its critics.
The fact that the government doesn't regulate alternative or integrative medicine has drawn criticism, and Weil says much of that is warranted.
He frowns on trends like the Atkins diet or ozone therapy, in which ozone gas is pumped into the body, generally through the intestines, to help the system detoxify.
He focuses instead on time-tested treatments, often with Eastern influences. All of them have to be backed by doctors and research. His Web site recommends only natural versions of medications from the factories he's toured to see how dosage is controlled.
"I think there are a lot of things our there in alternative medicine that are silly or dangerous," he said.
Weil remains close to his roots as a classically trained physician and stresses the need to mix old and new approaches to care. Each has its place.
Nontraditional approaches come into play for chronic diseases modern-day science has yet to be able to conquer, such as fiber mitosis, autism, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors have had success using diets to reduce symptoms and, in some cases, enable people to reduce their dosage of traditional medicine or stop it all together.
For illnesses where traditional treatment is available, such as cancer and heart disease, alternative practices take on a preventive role.
"In general," he said, "the more serious the illness - the more organs it affects, the faster it is moving - the more you will need to use conventional medicine."
Weil: $300 billion spent last year on non-traditional medicines