NTS LogoSkeptical News for 30 June 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Pet owners turn to Pasadena vet for alternative healing


By CORTNEY MARTIN, Citizen staff June 28, 2004 Dr. Happy Babbish doesn't mind that her services are often a last resort for pet owners who have tried everything under the sun to help their ailing pets recover from illness or injury. The Animal Medical Center of Pasadena veterinarian knows that the Chinese medicine she practices is not as widely accepted as Western medicine, but she and her loyal patients are confident in its powers. Advertisement

"I see so many people who are ready to give up on their animals and have them put to sleep. They have tried all the correct Western medicines, and nothing has worked," Babbish said.

"Then they come to me, and I have seen many of those same animals get up and walk out of here. Some have even gone on to live another couple of years. It amazes me every time it happens."

Babbish is certified in veterinary acupuncture and animal chiropractic. She uses electric waves and does a lot of work with energy, although she does still practice traditional Western medicine.

She is a relief vet and an emergency vet, working in many animal hospitals during the week. But on Thursdays, when she spends a full day at the Animal Medical Center of Pasadena, pet acupuncture dominates her schedule.

"It seems like almost everywhere I practice, they want me to do alternative medicine. There are so few people who do it, and the demand for it is growing all the time," Babbish said.

Babbish became turned on to Eastern medicine after she was involved in a serious car accident. After finding that traditional medicine didn't completely "fix" her, she discovered alternative medicine and how quickly she could be healed.

From there, she went on to explore its healing effects on animals. She plans to continue learning about the two practices in which she is certified and will soon tackle Chinese internal medicine and herbology.

"I look at all my appointments the night before, and I go over each one, trying to figure out if there is anything new we can try that might be more helpful," Babbish said.

Because there are so few veterinarians that practice alternative medicine, Babbish's clients come from as far away as Magnolia and Tomball.

They learn about her from other veterinarians, specialists, the Internet and Babbish's other patients, and they seek her services for a wide variety of reasons.

"Arthritic conditions are what lead most people to think of using acupuncture, but I see animals with kidney failure, liver problems, even cancer," Babbish said.

While she admits that no treatment is guaranteed to alleviate 100 percent of an animal's problems, she said that even the smallest benefits of acupuncture can be important.

In the case of animals with cancer, acupuncture can help the body rebalance itself and become better able to fight off the cancer, she said. It can also make animals that are in pain feel more comfortable.

"After someone brings their pet for acupuncture, they always tell me, especially with older pets, 'Wow! He hasn't done that in years,' because the animal feels more energetic and acts like it feels better," Babbish said.

The first acupuncture session is always the most difficult, she said, because the animal is not sure what to expect. Babbish soothes them by administering a natural calming remedy by mouth and rubs lavender on the tips of the animals' ears, also easing the owners' anxieties.

Most of Babbish's patients are dogs and cats, but she has also performed acupuncture on wild birds that have been injured and need rehabilitation.

The cases in which all odds seem to be stacked against the animal are the ones in which success is the most gratifying, she explained.

Babbish smiles as she remembers one Great Dane that was in terrible condition when it came to her. The female dog couldn't stand up - her legs would splay, causing the dog to fall to the floor.

After working with the animal for more than a year, Babbish laughs when the owner complains of its troubles today. The dog can stand and walk without falling; her owner's only complaint is that her toenails scuff the floor.

"I tease her when she starts complaining, because we have to remember where that dog was a year ago," Babbish said.

Another one of Babbish's patients had multiple problems when it was first brought to her. The dog's jaw and esophagus did not function - forcing its owners to hold it upright for 30 minutes after it was fed so its food could be digested.

Since Babbish has been treating the dog, the changes in its temperament and disposition have stunned her. Although the animal's physical condition is the same, it is now healthier because it is more social with people and other dogs.

Visits to Babbish's office are a regular part of life for many patients, as animals with the most serious problems visit as frequently as once a week. However, Babbish strives to get patients healthy enough to visit four times a year.

"Even if an animal does not have problems, alternative medicine can help him maintain good health. It could clear the possibility of any future problems," Babbish said.

"When you get into holistic medicine, you come across cats that live to be 23, 24 years old - very unusual."

Babbish is currently being filmed by KUHF Channel 8 for a half-hour special on alternative medicine for pets. The show will also feature pet psychic Myra Logan, a friend who frequently works with Babbish and her patients.

Babbish said working with Logan is very helpful because it helps her know how the animal is feeling, and it allows the animal to convey special requests.

"A lot of times when I have to euthanize an animal, the owner is just not sure if it's the right time. But if the animal can let us know that they are ready to go, it turns a very sad experience into something that's almost beautiful," Babbish said.

An appointment with Babbish can be scheduled by calling (281) 487-8233. The Animal Medical Center of Pasadena is located at 5018-A Fairmont Parkway.

©Pasadena Citizen 2004

Test of faith


The Battalion - Aggielife
Issue: 6/29/04

By Kendra Kingsley

It's standing room only in Professor Richard Stadelmann's philosophy of religion class. One student raises his hand and asks about existentialism's role in religion; another wants to know the difference between a "cosmic Jesus" and Jesus of Nazareth. Stadelmann isn't stumped. He's been answering tough religious questions from students for more than 30 years.

"Often students don't know their religion, so when I go over the foundation of it they're really surprised," Stadelmann said. "I've seen many students who are here seeking belief and meaning."

Stadelmann's students aren't alone. During the spring of 2003, a national study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute surveyed 3,680 students from 46 colleges and universities on religious issues. The study found that 76 percent of students are "searching for meaning and purpose in life," and 39 percent say their religious or spiritual beliefs have been strengthened by "new ideas encountered in class."

Stadelmann said his religious studies classes have been filled to capacity since Sept. 11, when students' curiosity about different religions soared. Now, Stadelmann said, many students are taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it to their own belief system. One former student, he said, made a remarkable career choice after learning about different religions.

"Several years ago, I had a student who was president of an atheist organization at A&M," Stadelmann said. "He took every single religious class we offered and argued with professors the entire time about why God could not exist. I got a call from him a few weeks ago, and he told me that he'd decided to become a minister. I wasn't completely surprised, because he put so much time and energy into proving that a creator couldn't exist that I knew he had a real interest in religion."

Stadelmann's current students have a genuine interest in religious studies, as well. John Wilson, a junior philosophy major, said taking Stadelmann's class forced him to think more critically about his Christian beliefs.

"It's humbling because you can go into class and think that you know everything, but what you learn can turn everything on its head," he said.

"(The class) has challenged me to look at what I believe and how to respond to people who have certain arguments against Christianity."

Wilson said some majors, such as philosophy and science, are more likely to stir up religious debates and questioning. But for Mandi Vest, a graduate student in plant pathology, an evolution-based class strengthened her belief in creationism.

Vest said she dated an atheist in high school and during her freshman year of college. That relationship, she said, forced her to question her religion and find the truth.

"I grew up having a strong faith because my parents did," Vest said.

"But, when my boyfriend didn't believe in anything, I just wanted to know how he felt that way. He was an intelligent person, and I wanted him to believe what I did."

After Vest and her boyfriend broke up, she said, she struggled with rebuilding her belief system. While studying evolution, she said, she found more evidence for creationism than against it.

"In class, we learned a lot about evolution, and I started realizing that people make a lot of assumptions when they base theories on evolution or naturalism," she said. "But no matter what you believe, you have to have faith. Some people have faith in science; some people have faith in the Bible."

In spite of the course's emphasis on Darwinism, Vest said, she left her class convinced that evolution could not have taken place without a higher power.

"Seeing the complexity of life and seeing the processes that happen all around us secured what I had always known," she said. "Some people use science to prove God doesn't exist, but for me it proved the exact opposite and showed me that there's a creator behind all of this."

Other students, however, find a different lesson in the classes they take.

Mike Surovik, a junior computer engineering major, said a philosophy class weakened his belief in some of the Bible's teachings.

"I grew up in a very Christian home, but it was always hard for me to believe a lot of the Bible's miracles," Surovik said. "My philosophy professor said you can't be a true Christian and a true scientist, and I agree with that. I still consider myself to be religious, but I don't take the Bible completely literally anymore."

Tori Sikes, a psychology graduate student, said she had similar problems interpreting the Bible when she left her hometown of Austin for Vermont's Middlebury College.

"The Bible teaches that if you're not a Christian, you're going to hell. I was really turned off by that," Sikes said. "When I went to college, I found that people were very open to (religious) experimentation."

Sikes said one of her friends convinced her to attend a Sufi healing session to learn more about Sufism, a mystic sect of Islam that blends Islamic beliefs with Christian ones. Here, she said, she learned how to connect with God on a different level.

"The healings help a person go into their heart and see places in their heart that need love from God," Sikes said. "One of the things that attracted me to Sufis was that the (Sufi) teachers were so deep, and I felt that they could take me further than Christianity. It's just a religion that is more focused on your relationship with God than how you practice your beliefs on the outside."

Soon Sikes enrolled in a Sufi healing school in California, where she became certified to perform energy healings for other people. She said her mother and sister, who were both Christians before Sikes introduced them to Sufism, also became Sufis.

Sikes continues to practice her faith by meditating every day, usually waking up in the middle of the night for two hours to chant "Allah," the Islamic name for God. She said her strict devotion to her religion has paid off in the classroom.

"Sufism influenced the way I study because I learn for the deeper meaning instead of just learning information," she said. "A lot of what I've learned from Sufism can be incorporated into a psychology practice."

While Sikes uses her religion to guide her studies, other students are using their studies to guide their religion - or lack thereof. Christopher Walsh, president of Texas A&M's Agnostic Atheist Student Group and a senior English major, said his studies have led him to question God's existence. While the HERI study reports that only 8 percent of professors frequently encourage religious discussions, Walsh said he has found that many of his classes are open to religious debate. Those discussions, he said, have given him a stronger agnostic viewpoint on the existence of God.

Walsh, who considers himself to be a "weak" atheist, said he began soul-searching long before his first religious studies class.

"I was attending a Catholic high school, and someone asked me why I was Catholic. I had no idea," he said. "I had to ask myself what it was that I believed, and I finally decided that there wasn't enough evidence to say that there was a god."

Walsh said he chose to attend A&M despite its conservative reputation and predominantly Christian student body.

"It's just as difficult to have a different point of view at a liberal school as it is at a conservative school," he said. "The topic of God comes up a lot no matter where you are."

And while a divine creator may be the topic of many classroom discussions, Walsh doesn't feel any closer to finding an answer than he did several years ago as a Catholic high school student.

"If anything, the classes I've taken have made me more agnostic," he said. "I've heard as many arguments for God's existence as I have arguments against it, but all of those debates bring up things you never even considered."

For Stadelmann, religious debates are a way of life. His students often wait around outside his office, hoping their professor can offer some religious guidance.

"Sometimes it's very difficult to keep my own beliefs out of my advice, but I try to stay professional," he said. "I'm convinced that religion is a very important part of life."

Crop Circle Shows Up in Spanish Fork


Jun. 29, 2004

(KSL News) -- People traveling between Spanish Fork and Salem are noticing something very unusual this week.

This mysterious "crop circle" surfaced in a wheat field in Utah County Sunday morning.

Police are investigating, but don't know who created it or how it was done. People have their own opinions.

Some believe pranksters simply use a stake, a rope and a board to flatten crops in geometric designs. Others say UFOs create them.

Another theory is that unusual weather patterns cause the crops to bend.

This is the 10th documented crop circle to appear in Utah.

The Oldest Americans May Prove Even Older



Published: June 29, 2004

BARNWELL, S.C., June 24 - On a hillside by the Savannah River, under tall oaks bearded with Spanish moss, an archaeologist and a graduate student crouched in the humid depths of a trench. They had reason to think they were in the presence of a breathtaking discovery.

Or at the least, they were on to something more than 20,000 years old that would throw American archaeology into further turmoil over its most contentious issue: when did people first reach America, and who were they?

The sandy soil of the trench walls was flecked with pieces of chert, the source of flint coveted by ancient toolmakers. Some of the stone flakes appeared to be unfinished discards. Others had the sharp-edged look of more fully realized blades, chisels and scrapers. Long ago, it seemed, Stone Age hunter-gatherers had frequently stopped here and, perhaps, these toolmakers were among the first Americans.

With deft strokes of his trowel, the archaeologist, Dr. Albert C. Goodyear of the University of South Carolina, excised a chunk of chert about the size of a cantaloupe. Its sides, he said, had all the marks of flintknappers' work. They had presumably smashed one cobble against another, leaving fracture lines through the rock, and then recovered thin slices for making sharp tools.

"This is not a natural occurrence," Dr. Goodyear said, showing the beaten-about chert cobble afterward. "No river, fire or animals could do this. Too many blows have been struck."

If he is right, American prehistory is being extended deeper in time at this remote dig site near Barnwell. Dr. Robson Bonnichsen, an expert on early Americans who is not directly involved in the excavation, said it could even be "the single most significant Ice Age site in North America" as a place bearing tantalizing evidence for "understanding the earliest prehistory of the Americas."

The land is owned by the Clariant Corporation, the big Swiss chemical company, which allows archaeologists to dig to their minds' content in the forest at the Topper Site, named for the person who brought it to their attention more than 20 years ago.

Judging by the depth of sediments, the site may have been a toolmaking center at least 7,000 years earlier than the arrival of big-game hunters known as the Clovis people. Once thought to be the earliest Americans, Clovis hunters, named for the town in New Mexico where their traces were uncovered 70 years ago, left their finely worked fluted projectile points across the United States over five centuries, beginning 13,000 years ago. All the dates here are based on radiocarbon calculations adjusted to calendar years.

The two men in the trench, their shirts now soaked in sweat, were eager to find evidence that would yield more precise dates for the finds. They leaned into a seam of darker soil interspersed with black grains that the graduate student, Tony Pickering, had found three weeks before. It just might be the remains of a fireplace. If so, any residue of charcoal should give a reliable date through radiocarbon analysis.

Dr. Goodyear emerged from the trench clutching four small plastic zip-lock bags. "I don't know how we ever did archaeology before zip-lock bags," he remarked as he held them up for examination. Each bag contained soil and several pea-size black fragments that he hoped represented the residue of charcoal from a hearth.

"I hope the laboratory gets three dates out of this," he said. "And I hope they're all similar dates."

In his more exuberant moments, Dr. Goodyear ventured that the dates could be as old as 25,000, even 30,000, years ago. He has already found elsewhere on the site what appear to be 16,000-year-old artifacts, evidence for a pre-Clovis peopling of America similar to findings in Virginia and Pennsylvania. None of those discoveries has convinced skeptics.

A few conservative holdouts still question the one widely accepted pre-Clovis claim: that earlier people were living in Chile at a site excavated by Dr. Tom D. Dillehay of the University of Kentucky that is known as Monte Verde. A strong endorsement of Monte Verde by prominent archaeologists published in 1998 encouraged others, including Dr. Goodyear, to dig deeper.

Cassini's first surprise: Saturn's magnetic field unlike Earth's


Ringed planet's poles are on either side of its equator

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Pasadena -- The spacecraft called Cassini, now little more than a million miles from Saturn, is already establishing that the mysterious ringed planet's magnetic field is bizarrely unlike Earth's -- and more surprises are sure to come.

Cassini's interplanetary course is to carry it Wednesday night into the first of 76 orbits around Saturn to begin its four-year mission, and scientists are awaiting that first close-in encounter with some anxiety.

But already some of the spacecraft's dozen instruments have been turned on, and the one that measures Saturn's magnetic field is confronting researchers with a conundrum they don't yet understand, the project's chief scientist, Dennis Matson, said Monday.

"We're on the threshold of crossing the planet's magnetosphere, and ... we can already tell that it's generated by processes that are completely unknown," Matson said in an interview at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the mission control engineers who have been guiding the spacecraft during its seven-year flight from Earth across 2.2 billion miles of space are based.

On Earth, and on Jupiter as well, the magnetic poles are located at the northern and southern extremes of both planets. For us Earthlings, that fact gives us the shimmering colored curtains of the aurora borealis, the northern lights -- and the southern lights, too, for those living in the far Southern Hemisphere.

But the two instruments aboard Cassini that are measuring the size, the strength and the shape of Saturn's magnetic field have confirmed that the field is aligned with Saturn's axis of rotation. Its poles are located on either side of the planet's equator, instead of at the northern and southern extremes.

The magnetic fields of Earth and Jupiter are generated by the rotating cores of iron at their centers, which spin like the dynamos of electric power plants.

But gaseous Saturn is not known to have an iron core, and what generates its lopsided magnetic field is the puzzle, Matson said.

"There may be two dynamos in its interior, or even more," Matson said. "We just don't know yet."

The Cassini mission is seeking answers to fundamental questions about a planet whose 31 known moons and seven known rings of ice and rocks have mystified both scientists and ordinary stargazers for centuries. So the scheduled arrival of the spacecraft at Saturn on Wednesday is drawing hundreds of scientists to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to witness the event through readings radioed down to Earth from the onboard instruments.

Late Monday, the spacecraft was almost exactly 1.266 million miles from the cloud tops above Saturn's pastel-hued surface, flying at a velocity of 17, 940 mph relative to the planet "and closing rapidly," said Jerry Jones, Cassini's chief navigator.

For the engineers at mission control, Cassini is near the end of a final eight-day "quiet time," when all the last commands have been transmitted to the spacecraft that will send it flying between two of Saturn's outermost rings and swinging into its first Saturn orbit.

"Everything aboard is locked down now," said Matson. "There's no adjusting any of the instruments or its trajectory toward orbit insertion. From now on, its course is committed."

The commands are a "critical sequence" of orders that sets the spacecraft's precise trajectory and instructs its main onboard computer to check continuously on the performance of each instrument that must be activated during the critical ring-crossing flight.

"It's not like you can joystick the spacecraft, even if you want to," said Trina Ray, a science planning engineer for the mission, "but the spacecraft is happily going on its way now, and it's getting more and more exciting for us down here."

E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.

©2004 San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sperm count, cell phone link dismissed
Results uncertain, other factors overlooked


Monday, June 28, 2004 Posted: 10:31 AM EDT (1431 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Mobile phones may damage men's sperm, Hungarian scientists say, in a study that fertility experts dismissed Monday as inconclusive.

Carrying a mobile in hip pockets or a holster on the waist could cut sperm count by nearly 30 percent, according to the research.

"The prolonged use of cell phones may have a negative effect on (sperm production) and male fertility," Dr. Imre Fejes, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Szeged said in a summary of the study.

Fejes and his team analyzed sperm from 221 men and questioned them about their use of mobile phones. They found correlations between the use of the phones, even in a standby setting, and reduced sperm concentration and quality.

Fejes said more research is needed to support the findings, which will be reported to this week's conference in Berlin of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Professor Hans Evers, a past president of the society, said the results are interesting but far from conclusive.

"It ... appears not to take into account the many potential confounding factors that could have skewed the results," Evers, who works at the Academic Hospital in Maastricht in the Netherlands, said in a statement.

He added that the study did not seem to analyze stress levels, the type of jobs the men have and whether they smoked, which could all influence sperm count.

"These factors would have a considerable effect on the outcome of the research," he said.

Britain's National Radiological Protection Board, which has reviewed research into the health effects of exposure to radiofrequency waves including mobile phones, said, so far, the waves appear to be safe.

But mobile phones have been in widespread use for only a short time so more research is needed.

"This is an unexpected result and we will look at it very carefully but the decline in male fertility has been going on for decades now, before the widespread use of mobile phones, and there can be many reasons for it," Dr. Michael Clark, scientific spokesman for the British board, told Reuters.

The World Health Organization has said none of the recent reviews has concluded that exposure to radiofrequency waves from mobile phones or their base stations damages health, but stresses that more studies are needed.

Copyright 2004 Reuters.

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Rivera & Sarbin)

From: Taner Edis


Believed-In Imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality
Joseph de Rivera and Theodore R. Sarbin, eds.
1998, American Psychological Association Press; xii+345p.
psychology, UFO, UFO:sociology

A collection of 17 essays by specialists addressing the question "How is it possible for us to believe in something we only imagined?", beginning with the socio-cultural definitions of "imagining," "believing," and "remembering." The essays address cross-cultural perspectives and developmental issues, interpersonal narratives and the repudiation (or not) of false accusations, the social significance of "believed-in imaginings", and explanatory categories and "evaluating believed-in imaginings. A good resource concerning claims of alien abductions, multiple personalities, and recovered memories of abuse.

[ Reviewed by Ed Tyler, LeeEdgarTyler@aol.com ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Bigfoot is Back!


Life's unsolved mysteries explored at the Southern Crypto Conference

Mark Williams

The creepy and perplexing mysteries of the East Texas Piney Woods and the world beyond will be explored this Saturday, the 26th, at the Third Annual Southern Crypto Conference happening at the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center in Conroe.

The interest in cryptozoology -- the study of the unknown -- has grown in Montgomery County right along with the conference. Three years ago, it fit into a conference room at the Holiday Inn on the edge of Conroe. And although the event has grown enough to move onto the grounds of the convention center, so many people have already purchased tickets for this year's conference, it has been moved from the Horseshoe Club to the Convention Center itself.

So much for a fear of the unknown.

At the forefront of cryptozoology research is Chester Moore, the host and founder of the Southern Crypto Conference. Moore is a wildlife columnist and radio host located in the Beaumont area. A lifelong outdoorsman, Moore has logged adventures from Canada to South America. He is an avid cryptozoological researcher and is the owner and host of www.cryptokeeper.com, which has had more than 2-million "hits" since its internet inception in April 2001. Moore is the author of three books: In the Dark: Chasing Phantoms, Dust and Shadows, Bigfoot South and Boogers, Bears, Birds and Beasts.

While a sighting of a Bigfoot creature is considered to be a white whale for many serious cryptozoologists, Chester Moore's interests are varied.

According to Moore's website, one of the greatest mysteries in the field of cryptozoology is the presence of "black panthers" in the United States and Great Britain. There is no such species as a "black panther" -- although leopards and jaguars do produce black offspring.

America's common big cat, the cougar, may produce black offspring, but science has never acknowledged such a possibility. Another explanation could possibly be "jaguarundis": a cat species that is supposed limited only to the deep southern regions of South Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. These cats, which are believed to be able to grow up to 54 inches in length, are much bigger than most people perceive and come in dark brown and dark gray colors.

Chester Moore is conducting field research on jaguarundis and hopes to get photographs of the elusive animals some 400 miles north of their accepted range. Moore would also like to capture photographic evidence of jaguarundis and cougars in East Texas -- where they are not supposed to exist.

According to Moore, there are two types of "cryptids," or "hidden" creatures: known and unknown. Known cryptids are those that are considered extinct, like the ivory-billed woodpecker, another creature Moore pursues with a passion, or the Tasmanian tiger -- both animals that were known to exist in the world at one time or another. Unknown cryptids are creatures that could possibly exist, but no physical specimen has yet been recovered to prove their existence.

Other cryptozoologists and experts on the unknown coming to the weekend conference chase these crytids -- while others chase answers into other worlds. Cryptozoological investigator Kriss Stephens has been on the hunt for Bigfoot with Chester Moore and consulted with MTV on its spooky-lite reality show, Fear, but her passion lies in trotting around the globe chasing after ghosts. Stephens, who doubles as a paranormal investigator and photographer, says that she grew up in a haunted house and "learned to make the best of a bad situation."

Stephens' most famous cryptid case, however, is very much earthbound. In September 1996, a woman near DeQuincy, LA, accidentally hit a large animal with her car. The strange, dead creature lying on the edge of the road was like nothing she had ever seen, so she drove home to get a camera to photograph it. The authorities were called, as well as the Lake Charles newspaper, which took pictures and declared the animal to be a Chupacabra.

Stephens and her partner, Malcolm Tillotson, heard about the incident, and Tillotson went out to DeQuincy, scooped up the carcass, and stored it in a Rubbermaid container. Stephens stated that the animal, which was dubbed "Fluffy," looked like a large canine, but also had characteristics of a hyena and a baboon. The creature had prominent canine teeth, pointed ears, and a "pushed-in" snout -- all similar to a Chow dog; a baboon-type build, with the front legs higher than the rear; a long tail; and extremely thick, reddish fur. The muscular animal was larger than a St. Bernard and was estimated to weigh over one hundred pounds.

Stephens and Tillotson sent the body to a nearby university for testing, but didn't hear anything for over a month. They finally went to the university to check on the status of the analysis, and were told that the carcass was that of an Irish wolfhound. "Fluffy's" remains, by this time, had been reduced to a few disarticulated bones and hair.

Stephens didn't believe it was a Chupacabra or an Irish wolfhound, which has short gray hair and is slender -- unlike the heavily furred, robust "Fluffy." She decided to go to the university and conduct her own investigation. Using teeth as a guideline, her research led her to the determination that the creature most closely resembled a Borophagus: a hyena-like dog from the Pleistocene era. She learned that there is an animal in Native American mythology called a "Shunka Warak'in," a savage hog-like creature that is theorized to be a surviving Borophagus.

Stephens and Tillotson had planned on having DNA testing done on the remains, but Tillotson lost his job and relocated to Washington State, taking "Fluffy" with him. Unfortunately, he died a month later. All of his cryptozoological belongings -- including the remains of "Fluffy" -- were supposed to have gone to Stephens, but after nearly four years, she still doesn't have them. Tillotson's widow's, who still resides in Washington, supposedly still has possession of them, and allegedly has made repeated excuses for not handing them over. Stephens has since had offers for free DNA testing, but she has no remains to be tested.

So what exactly are the true origins of "Fluffy"? So far, it's just another unsolved mystery in a world filled with them.

This year's keynote speaker is Bob Gimlin, who comes to Conroe under a cloud of crypto controversy. The surviving half of the famous duo who took filmed the famous footage of Bigfoot in 1967, Gimlin has for years stood by his account of what happened that June day so many years ago.

Although attempts to expose the footage as a hoax have never been entirely successful, another campaign has been mounted. Bob Heironimus, a retired Pepsi bottler from Yakima, WA, came forward last month to reveal that he donned a gorilla costume and appeared in the famous grainy film clip that helped fuel the Bigfoot craze and is studied by Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti investigators to this very day.

Heironimus, 63, makes his full "confession," as he calls it, in a just-published book by paranormal investigator Greg Long, The Making of Bigfoot. Long spent four years investigating the 60-second film clip and the people behind it. He traces the shaggy Bigfoot costume to a North Carolina gorilla suit specialist, Philip Morris, who says he sold it for $435 to an amateur documentary maker named Roger Patterson -- Bob Gimlin's partner, who died in 1972. The hoax was staged near Bluff Creek in Northern California, according to Heironimus.

However, M.K. Davis, a late addition to the Southern Crypto Conference schedule, like many who study the film clip, still believes in its validity. He is slated to make a presentation focused on what he believes to be far more reliable evidence. Davis has long been noted for his analysis of the film clip, in which he was able to bring out amazing details by recording frames of the film through a red sensitive emulsion filter. Davis' research has lead him to find that nothing appears artificial on the animal or leads him to believe that the film is a hoax. He feels that the film still holds a wealth of information to be gleaned as newer techniques are developed and utilized. So the hunt for the ever-elusive Bigfoot goes on and on -- as does the argument as to its authenticity...

Meantime: "Smokey" Crabtree, the keynote speaker for the inaugural conference, is back again, to talk about living in the Arkansas bottomlands and his family's intimate experience with the Fouke Monster. The creature apparently inhabited a swampy area near the Crabtree homestead, and ravaged the family's livestock pens from the time Smokey was just a boy; and although he admits to never actually having seen the creature, Crabtree tells of his experience tracking the creature through the bogs, which he does to this day.

The legend of the Fouke Monster, which was made into the obscure drive-in movie classic, The Legend Of Boggy Creek, has put Fouke, AK on the map, and every year thousands of tourists flock to the marshlands for a possible peek at the creature. Crabtree has written three books on the subject: Smokey and the Fouke Monster, Too Close to the Mirror and the new The Man Behind the Legend.

Ken Gerhard will speak about the various sightings of "thunderbirds": pterodactyl type creatures spotted in Texas and throughout the world. Ken is an accomplished musician and has a new book out called Monsters are Real.

As the conference has grown, so have the exhibits; this year marks the debut of the Traveling Southern Cryptozoology Museum, including a life-size southern Bigfoot replica, built to the specifications of the famous Fouke Monster. There will be booths and displays from numerous cryptozoology authors, researchers and vendors including crypto artist Patrick Trumble; find rare books and other items, plus a silent auction is planned with cryptid plaster casts and original cryptozoology art up for bid. Despite his ongoing search for evidence to the contrary, Chester Moore has said he does not believe in Bigfoot; belief, he maintains, is the province of religion. Rather, Moore has concluded, according to the evidence he and other researchers have collected, that people share the North American continent with a hidden species of "bi-pedal primate". He further maintains that there is an active breeding population in Texas and other southern states.

But the truth itself remains a cryptozoological mystery...

send your comments to mark@thebulletin.com

Studying Earth's shakes, rattles and eruptions U.S. Geological Survey marks 50 years next to San Andreas Fault


David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Monday, June 28, 2004

In a jittery region along the San Andreas Fault, scientists have finally begun drilling a long-planned borehole 2 miles down into a hidden cluster of old earthquake traces to learn more about how, why and when the Earth shudders -- sometimes with deadly, devastating force.

Along the margins of San Francisco Bay and in the delta, other scientists are seeking to restore the once-luxuriant shoreline and once-uncontaminated waters.

High in the Sierra, where skiers pack the steep slopes of Mammoth Mountain every winter, volcanic vents still spout hazardous gases from the snow, while researchers assess the dangers from the nearby remains of a gigantic crater where a monstrous eruption exploded nearly a million years ago.

These scientists are among the 600 staff members of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, who this year are marking the 50th anniversary of the formidable institution's presence in the Bay Area.

At its university-like campus, with manicured lawns and crowded parking lots, USGS scientists work much as academic researchers do: by conducting fundamental inquiries into the basics of the Earth's behavior and its environmental puzzles, and by pointing the way to solutions for major practical problems.

Fifty years ago, a mere 120 geophysicists, seismologists, geologists and cartographers -- together with a few graduate students and staff people -- moved into a single small building on Middlefield Road.

The place was an ideal research location -- virtually next door to the San Andreas and its many neighboring seismic faults, and close to two major Earth-science research universities, Stanford and Berkeley, whose faculties could interact with the survey scientists for joint research projects.

In the early 1960s, not long after its inception, three USGS scientists made a crucial discovery. After gathering rocks of different ages from around the globe, the scientists measured their magnetic polarity and a pattern began to emerge: the Earth's magnetic poles had reversed many times in the past.

A decade later, when these reversals showed up in bands of magnetized rock that rise from deep rifts in the ocean floor, they were used to confirm the concept of seafloor spreading and the idea that the Earth's crust is composed of giant tectonic plates that move around the globe.

By the early 1980s, the staff at the USGS Western regional headquarters had grown to 2,000 in almost two dozen buildings. Today, with budget paring and the relocation of many activities to sites as far away as Seattle and Santa Fe, N.M. the number has dropped to 600.

More cuts are in the offing, the scientific staff fears. But their work remains crucial, from fundamental discoveries in Earth science to estimates of the likelihood of a major quake striking the Bay Area within the next 30 years (62 percent).

As David Howell, a veteran USGS research geologist, put it: "America, indeed the world, needs an objective, knowledgeable Earth science institution to help inform government policy." Howell's idea of informing government policy is best illustrated by a bit of history.

-- Near the Sierra ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes, high above the Owens Valley, lies the vast Long Valley Caldera, the remnants of a monster volcano that blew its top so violently about 760,000 years ago that it altered global climate for years and sent a ground-hugging avalanche of searing ash, pumice, rock fragments and volcanic gases filling the San Joaquin Valley and half of western Nevada.

When USGS scientists first warned local residents more than 20 years ago that the active volcanic area might well erupt again, the citizenry and ski entrepreneurs feared their entire economy would be devastated by news reports of hazards

"So we felt we had an obligation to let everyone know what was going on," said David Hill, a USGS geophysicist who has monitored the region for decades. "We needed to calm the outrage and disbelief that greeted our first warnings of possible future eruptions, and we didn't want the local civil authorities to be blindsided"

With the advice and assistance of Hill and his colleagues, the Mono County sheriff's office and the Mammoth Lakes police have developed systems to alert the people of the entire region of hazard levels

Hill meets every three months with citizens, the military and some 20 public and private agencies in Mono County to brief them on new research. Together the scientists and local officials have developed a color-coded warning system, posted every day on Web sites and announced by local media:

Green means "no immediate risk" of a volcanic eruption in the area. Yellow means "keep watch," because there's intense unrest beneath the surface. Orange means that scientists are convinced an eruption "is likely within hours to days." And red means the volcano is erupting.

"Things have been pretty quiet for the last four years," Hill says, "but something bad could happen again some day, that's true, and it's best to be ready."

-- Locals in the Sonoma County fishing town of Bodega Bay often show awestruck visitors a broad, deep hole in the ground at a spot called Campbell Cove near the tip of Bodega Head.

It's all that's left of a once-ambitious plan by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to build a major nuclear power plant, barely 1,000 feet from the edge of the San Andreas Fault zone and little more than a mile west of a spot where the great 1906 earthquake ruptured the ground.

It was 1963 when at the request of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission -- then the government's promoter and regulator of nuclear power plants -- geophysicist Manuel G. (Doc) Bonilla and his Menlo Park colleagues were assigned to study the site's seismic hazards.

The utility's engineers had assured the commission that no likely earthquake could break the nuclear reactor's concrete-and-steel containment structure. And consultants examining the deep hole excavated to house the reactor found no evidence of any significant faults in the rock.

Even as local fears of the plant grew more and more intense, PG&E engineering consultants assured everyone the plant design was completely safe. Then Bonilla and his colleagues moved in.

Climbing into the hole, the government scientists discovered clear evidence of a long irregular crack in both the underlying bedrock and the sedimentary rock near the surface. They named it the Shaft Fault, after the deep wall of the excavation site, and warned it might produce a quake equal in magnitude to the 1906 event.

The utility's experts disagreed about the fault's importance and more controversy ensued. But then the USGS' Jerry P. Eaton, who died only last April and was known as "the giant of geophysics," weighed in with his report to the commission.

"It is not an adequately safe location for a nuclear power plant," Eaton wrote. "Acceptance of Bodega Head as a safe reactor site will establish a precedent that will make it extremely difficult to reject any proposed future site on the grounds of extreme earthquake risk."

Three days later PG&E withdrew its application for a building permit, and only the hole at Bodega Head remains.

-- Near the Monterey County village of Parkfield, where six modest earthquakes rattled the farm fields roughly every 22 years from 1857 to 1966, three Geological Survey scientists are overseeing the first San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, otherwise known as SAFOD.

It's a borehole where drillers have just reached the 700-foot level of a shaft full of instruments that will reach 2 miles deep by next summer.

The shaft begins where the actual trace of the San Andreas shows itself on the surface. It will ultimately slant sideways from the surface to probe a deep region where a cluster of small quakes has long since broken the underground rocks.

This is the true boundary between two huge slabs of the Earth's crust, the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, which have been sliding past each other for millions of years. All the stress caused by the moving plates builds up until, all at once, the rock breaks and the two blocks move in opposite directions.

"We'll eventually have a really good picture in three dimensions of the fault itself," said Stephen H. Hickman, one of the three fault observatory investigators. "And as we study the physics and chemistry of the rocks, we'll have solid information on the processes that act inside a seismically active fault zone."

Operating continuously, the observatory will allow the scientists to observe seismic activity deep within the San Andreas Fault zone around-the- clock for years -- and perhaps decades -- to come.

U.S. Geological Survey: A vital Bay Area resource

-- The U.S. Geological Survey hosts a series of public lectures at its Menlo Park campus, with a special focus this year on major achievements by its own scientists over the past 50 years.

Future topics include "Monitoring San Francisco Bay," "The Story of the Alaskan oil pipeline" and "The Revolution in Mapping." The schedule for those monthly lectures is posted on the Web at online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/.

-- The USGS is perhaps best known for its maps. Whether it's maps of downtown Baghdad or the peaks of the High Sierra, the survey's cartographers have created many of them.

Maps are for sale in Building 3 at 345 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park. Phone: (650) 329-4309 or (888) ASK-USGS. Or visit the USGS online map store at store.usgs.gov/.

-- Survey scientists in Menlo Park work with other state and regional agencies to estimate the long-range probability of future earthquakes in the Bay Area. If you want to find the chances of a major quake striking where you live, you can find the latest estimates at quake.wr.usgs. gov/research/seismology/wg99/index. html.

E-mail David Perlman at dperlman@sfchronicle.com.

Monday, June 28, 2004

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Kelly)

Taner Edis


The Skeptic's Guide To The Paranormal
Lynne Kelly
2004, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest (Australia; US edition soon);
critical-thinking, crop-circle, cryptozoology, fraud, prophecy, psi, shc, skepticism, survival, UFO

A fine book covering many matters of interest and concern to skeptics everywhere, but written to be readily accessible to likely consumers of paranormal offerings. Kelly lays out the claims for the whole range of paranormal claims: UFOs, psi phenomena, cryptozoology and more. She then explains how they might work or how they go wrong. This book is not a mere academic exercise; Kelly has even invented her own form of divination, and performed at psychic fairs with a "success" rate no different than those who pass themselves off as psychics. No skeptic can afford to be without it. It will give you the wherewithal to answer all those questions that crop up at dinner parties, meetings of the knitting circle or football club, and in terms that require no deeep understanding of quantum physics or abnormal psychology.

[ Reviewed by Barry Williams, skeptics@bdsn.com.au ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer



Posted on Mon, Jun. 28, 2004

Too many Kansans don't care about the State Board of Education unless there's trouble at the table. Admittedly, that's mostly because its routine work, though vital to the achievement of the state's public school students, doesn't get much media attention.

It's also not as if the board's infamous 5-5 ideological split exerts itself most of the time these days. That's lucky, because it would take an amendment to the state constitution even to give the board an odd number of seats, and state legislators have little political will to pursue that or other proposed reforms.

Still, some voters will have important decisions to make on the board's membership at the Aug. 3 primary and Nov. 2 general election. Most Wichita voters won't, because member Carol Rupe did not draw any challengers this year. But Steve Abrams, the Arkansas City veterinarian who represents west Wichita along with much of rural south-central Kansas, has a GOP primary challenge from Tim Aiken of Derby.

Farther north, a GOP primary win for Kathy Martin of Clay Center over incumbent Bruce Wyatt of Salina has the potential to tip the control of the board to conservatives for the first time since 1999, when its decision to de-emphasize evolution in state science standards drew overblown attention and condemnation. And in Topeka, Democrat Bill Wagnon faces Republican Robert Meissner in the fall.

It seems a good time for all Kansans to tune into these three contested races and get up to date on what the board has done and is about to do.

Along with campaign coverage in The Eagle and elsewhere, a good resource is the Web site of the Kansas State Department of Education, www.ksbe.state.ks.us. Its meeting minutes help convey some of the board members' diverse views on such issues as bilingual education, the school-finance lawsuit and the unsettling demands of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Two other issues bear watching, too. Both relate to -- what else? --state standards, which determine what subjects are covered on statewide tests:

Whether the history and government standards should emphasize Kansas and the United States and de-emphasize international topics. The board is due to discuss the standards further next month.

How the science standards might be changed by a committee looking at them for the first time since 2000 -- a committee that, this time, reportedly includes representatives of both the evolution and intelligent design camps. Those proposed changes go to the board in December.

Clearly, there's a lot at stake for many Kansans on both sides, and the kids and teachers in the middle. The better educated voters can be about the State BOE, the better the resulting board will serve the state's schools, schoolchildren and parents.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman



Sunday, June 27, 2004

Last week we asked: The Dover school board is debating whether new biology textbooks should include information about creationism as well as the theory of evolution. Do you think creationism should be taught in public school biology classes? Should evolution? ¥

I am a Christian and I feel that if you're going to teach something that I think is not true — which is evolution — I think you should given creationism the same chance. So either both or neither. So we should either put both of them in or take the other one out and have none and let the family teach the children. STEVEN SMITH

Yes, I do think creationism should be taught in the school in the biology text book. DAWN BLEIGH

Although this has to do with Dover, I certainly believe that all textbooks should have this in. When I was going to school we had religion in our classroom; we studied the Bible as well as any other book. That no longer applies. But I think creationism should be put in the textbook. They have evolution, so teach both and let the students evaluate. CAROL HORTON

Which creation stories do the Dover schools plan to include? Those from the Native American and African cultures as well as the many from Asia? There are, I believe, at least 300 recorded stories of creation from which to choose, all of which have religious significance, and we do believe in freedom of religion, don't we? JEREMY BARNES

Let us look at the definition of evolution and creationism from the World Book Dictionary. "Evolution is the theory that all living things developed from a few simple forms of life through a series of physical changes. According to evolution, the first mammal developed from a type of reptile, and ultimately all forms are traced back to a simple, perhaps single-celled, organism."

"Creationism is the doctrine that all things were created by God substantially as they are now, and did not gradually evolve or develop." The question one must ask, if evolution started with a single-celled organism, who created the single-celled organism? Your response to the question will give you the answer that we should teach creationism in public school biology classes. STAN SMELTZER

Being a parent in Dover, I applaud the decision of Mr. Buckingham to bring the discussion of biology in high school science to the forefront. It is my belief that public school districts have been teaching Darwin's, "The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" as factual proof of macro-evolution for far too long without question, while holding the separation clause in the face of those who disagree with the thesis of the "Theory of Evolution." For me, this is not about science; this is about the ability of parents to finally have a say as to what their children are subjected to as they are held in a captive audience. The current system will not allow us true choice as to where we send our children to be educated, so this is the consequence. There are many sectors of science that students could choose to learn about, why this must be one of them is questionable, to say the least. Graduates often leave high school without the knowledge of how to prepare for a job interview, plan for their financial futures, nor the ability to understand that America offers opportunities, not promises. Yet why they must leave school knowing what evolutionists believe they should know is proof of some misplaced priorities. Let the biology majors learn about Darwin on their own dime and choice. Let high school students first learn how to be upstanding and responsible citizens before they leave the realm of the classroom, and let parents who want to be proactive in their children's education finally have the uninhibited ability to do so. They are our children, right? WILLIAM J. TRIMMER

Creationism is mythology. It is not biology. The only valid reason to mention creationism in a biology textbook would be as an example of one of the many stories created by primitive man to incorrectly explain his puzzling universe. It will be a sad day if those in charge of the education of Dover children allow a religious myth to be presented as a viable alternative to the theory of evolution; a theory soundly based on scientific evidence, which alone gives unity to the wide range of biological phenomenon. GARY FILLMORE

Let both or all ideas be taught. Evolution is also a religion, with its own set of assumptions and world views. Didn't Hitler, Mussolini, Chairman Mao and others use Darwin's ideas and his "survival of the fittest" to conquer, enslave those peoples who they deemed "inferior." Evolution was their religion. Students would be able to discuss, compare and contrast, identify unsound arguments, form opinions, look up facts and fallacies; it would be great. What is everyone afraid of? I'm sure the "goo-to-you" and divine intelligence sides have many interesting points to back-up their points of view, or don't they? Who's running scared? Who has something to hide? How do we go from simple to complex? Where does or did all the necessary increase in information come from? Was it luck? Was it chance? Was it panspermia? DAN E. SNOOK

Creationism does not belong in a science class. Creationism in school is like giving the kids a big yellow bus with no wheels — it doesn't go anywhere — there is nothing to teach. Evolution is supported by piles of fossil evidence. When you slice and dice your way through human and other anatomy the similarities add to the evidence. Then DNA analysis show how close we are to other species and the evidence pile gets higher. All of this provides a logical path to explain how we got here. Creationism has no evidence to back it up and explains nothing — how could it? So how do you tell a kid to decide between the two concepts? Buckingham has the answer. He seems to be really bothered by the idea that we have descended from a lower life form. His solution is take the idea that sounds nice, the one that makes you feel important. Is this the way we want to teach kids to think? What next for Dover's kids? Possibly a course in decision making through astrology? The kids of Dover deserve better. ROD SMITH

Evolution is a theory; there is no proof. In the fossil record there is no trans-species evidence whatsoever. With the thousands of fossils we do have you would think there would be hundreds or more fossils show reptiles to bird or any other trans-species. Where are they? A famous mathematician once said the odds of a human evolving from an amoeba is equivalent to a tornado going through a junkyard and forming a fully functional 747 jet. In his later years Charles Darwin changed his mind about his own theory. Look into it. Also look into the scientific work that was done on Mount St. Helens. I do believe there should be a balance. GREG LIEBERKNECHT

Yes, I believe that creationism should be taught in schools because evolution is only a theory and the Bible is God's word which has stood the test of time. Therefore, at the very least, creationism should be taught as an alternative theory in our public schools, especially since our great country was founded on Christian beliefs. CONNIE DEMMY

In the attempt to exclude intelligent design from public schools, the current scientific and educational establishments have taken up an irrational argument. The following scenario will illustrate. A four-legged animal trots up to you. It has a pointed snout and its tongue is hanging out. It wags its tail and barks. Neither of us questions the fact that the animal appears to be a dog. If I suggest that the animal is not a dog, the burden of proof is on me to convince you that it is. Otherwise, you must assume the appearance is correct. Even the most outspoken supporters of natural origins concede that living organisms overwhelmingly appear to be products of intelligent design. Richard Dawkins in his popular book "The Blind Watchmaker" readily admits this fact. He goes on to argue that what appears to be an intelligent creative agent is only natural forces at work. But insisting that the apparent explanation not even be allowed to compete with other ideas is not only irrational, it exposes the fear and cowardice at the root of this suppression performed by the hand of the naturalistic establishment. NATHAN SCHUMACHER

The York Daily Record needs a science/technology journalist with a bent for philosophy. Mike Argento's column (June 20), regarding the teachings of evolution and creationism, represents popular beliefs in the debate, without showing any scholarly insight. Regarding the technical issues: 1. Darwin's idea that changes occur "within" a species, over time, is a scientific theory known as microevolution. Remember high school genetics — Gregor Mendel's pea experiments and mutations? However, Darwin's idea of macroevolution, that "higher life forms evolved through natural selection" is, at best, a hypothesis. This hypothesis has not stood against experimental data. Darwin assumed, and evolutionists take for granted that, over eons of time, one animal can and did evolve into another. Scientists have no evidence of one species adding information to its genetic code and changing into another species. 2. A theorem (see Mr. Argento's reference to the Pythagorean Theorem) is a term used in geometry for a statement that is proved by reasoning from already accepted statements, such as Euclid's postulates. The so-called theory of evolution and the word "theorem" are not comparable. 3. The Bible does contain references to creatures that many believe to be dinosaurs. Job 40:15 speaks of "the behemoth." The Leviathan is referenced in Job 41:1, Psalm 74:14, Psalm 104:26, and Isaiah 27:1. Incidentally, the brontosaurus, mentioned by Mr. Argento, is not an actual dinosaur. Regarding the creationism debate, Mr. Argento fails to ask the big question: What is the meaning of life? Our world view and our educational system avoid the philosophical debates about our existence. In ages past, ideas and debates about our existence were foundational to education. Under the evolutionary world view, we just came into being and man is the measure of all things. With no basis for morality, all morals are relative, subject to change, and should be tolerated. This system leads to rule by majority opinion or rule by force. In the creationist world view, God's laws prevail and we have a firm basis for morality and government. The United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written based on the creationist world view. Any debate or discussion about the teaching of creationism and evolution needs to be scientifically accurate, and must also include a philosophical position. KATHY L. MOKRIS

The fact that this is even being discussed proves that scientists need to improve their people skills. Generally, when scientists speak in public it is to other scientists. When they try to defend the truth against attacks from religious fanatics who preach to a captive audience every Sunday, they are ineffective. The simple fact is evolution is as complex as quantum physics and many teachers are ill-equipped to handle the subject. Just because it is complex does not mean we should allow creationism in the classroom just because some people find easier to grasp. Ignorance is not bliss. The term "intelligent design" gets thrown around a lot in these discussions. Without going into details, it is a myth. It is just a fancy name for creationism. To teach creationism is to teach biblical stories as fact. That is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. To dispel some myths about our educational system, let me say that the Bible is not banned from our public schools. My sister is a high school English teacher and teaches a unit on the "Bible as Literature." Furthermore, students may carry the Bible or any religious text with them and read it in their free time. What is banned is proselytization. Lastly, I find Dover school board member William Buckingham's comment about Christ's crucifixion laughable for its irrelevance. He obviously is caught up in Passion mania because it has nothing to do with Old Testament creationism. This proves where his real motives lie. He favors the entire Christian dogma installed in our schools. EDWARD L. BOSLEY III

Creationism, by its nature, can no longer contribute to the advancement of knowledge about living things. Evolution's past contributions have been vast, and will continue, even though certain things cannot yet be explained. Any school district adopting creationism teaching will only hinder the careers of those students interested in science. CARL HUBER JR.

Do we evolve to create, or what we create evolves into what we believe. Mike Argento summed it up in the Viewpoints, June 20. To include all "theories" on this subject would require an undetermined amount of written material. To not offend anybody will be tough and impossible to achieve. An example are the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance — which was written by man and edited by man; so was the Bible. The Bible, a collection of "stories" to explain in simple language what did occur or will occur — some have been proven, while others still wait to be verified. Then you have all the versions, revisions and modernized wordings — to help with learning. Not to mention all the variants which have evolved into all of the religions we have today throughout this planet. To include or exclude any one angle on a subject will deprive those learning to make an informed conclusion on the full subject. To impose a certain angle while neglecting others is also wrong. Cannot both "theories" be right? Like say, the seven days (to create), evolved into seven millenniums (until proven) for example. Time is man made not God made. So to put this topic to bed — creationism vs. evolutionism, have the teachers in the Dover school district and other school districts, confronted with this same perplexing problem, state from the outset that time is only a relative word until proven otherwise. ROBERT PARKER

In 1892, in the year of our lord, in the case of Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United Sates, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 we are a Christian nation, our laws, institutions and teachings must embody the teachings of the redeemer of mankind. Our Declaration of Independence declares us, endowed by our creator, certain inalienable rights. To not teach creationism is to deny the truth and the very foundation our laws and our country are based on. The words "separation of church and state" are not found in any of our documents and the Holy Bible was once the only text book in our schools. Maybe if our history was taught, the history of evolution would not have made it to our schools. Evolution is just a theory put forth by a handful of secular humanists, that scientific laws and hundreds and hundreds of world-renowned scientists after a century of study and experiments and millions of fossils reviewed have proven over and over again is not possible. Dozens of scientists every year are changing to believe life was created intelligent design. It's time for our schools to throw out the evolutionary garbage and get back to the Scriptures, fossils and facts. DAVE SINGER

Maybe the Dover school board should call the other schools in the area to see what they are teaching. Remember, God created all things. DOLLY SUTTON

Evolution is not something you "believe" in — it is a scientific theory that is supported by considerable evidence/data. If a person has an educated opinion that this evidence does not support the theory or is not credible, then that is what should be stated. Creationism is not a scientific theory — it is not supported by any significant, credible scientific evidence. Therefore, it is not appropriate that it be taught in a science classroom or a science textbook. Creationism should best be discussed in a religious, philosophy, or social studies classroom/textbook. If a person has a conflict between their religious beliefs and the scientific evidence, then this is a personal struggle. Students' religious beliefs should be respected in any classroom. Science teachers, in particular, need to be sensitive to this issue and be respectful and supportive of each and every student's personal beliefs. LEIGH FOY

Reading over the viewpoints of Sunday's newspaper, I find it very interesting that it is completely one-sided, just like the biology books I learned out of in high school five years ago. Although we did not spend too much time on evolution when we were taught, I find it appalling that there is so much negativity about teaching creation. In America, we talk all the time about tolerance of everything, including, but not limited to, religions. However, it is interesting to find that this same concept does not apply when talking about teaching two opposing viewpoints, theories if you will, in biology. I can tolerate the teaching of evolution as a theory (although some consider it "scientific fact," as in Sunday's article), although it goes against my personal beliefs and the beliefs of some others, so I submit that we can tolerate the teaching of creation. Present both sides, and let the students choose. After all, isn't America about letting people choose how they will believe? We are also taught about several opposing viewpoints in public schools, such as condoms and abstinence, Democratic and Republican, views for and against the death penalty. We also discuss controversial topics such as animal rights, human rights, cloning, smoking, abortion, gun control, current events (political in nature), and the separation of church and state. Suddenly, however, when it comes to biology or science, this is not an option. As a Christian, I consider it a non-negotiable belief that creation occurred, just as stated in Genesis. MICHAEL BARLEY

I believe creationism is a long overdue subject in our biology classes in public schools. Although we say it is the theory of evolution, my classroom experience has been that it was taught as fact. How could we have gone all these years without teaching any other possibilities to evolution? I am thankful that there are those who are speaking out to bring about a long overdue change in the curriculum. I'm sure we could all find some curriculum that we could agree on. CHRIS KESSLER

Creationism and evolution theories are religious theories. In order to teach these theories in a public school we would need to give equal time to the creation theories of all other religions. To teach selected theories gives implied credibility to them. SUSAN REICH

Your Dover biology textbook question, as posed in the Viewpoints section, becomes an issue of semantics: "Do you think creationism should be taught...?" Teaching is "to impart knowledge or give instruction in." Imparting knowledge implies that the instruction is given as fact or proven theory. Perhaps the better question is whether or not creationism should be presented as information. If biology textbooks include information about evolution, then they should include information about creationism. The actual teaching, or imparting of knowledge about the origin of life, should be up to parents and families, in conjunction with whatever form of religion they choose. Many textbooks contain information about topics that are subject to human bias. Students should not be forced to accept such information as fact. For example, many people find that certain history books are laden with information that they find disagreeable, offensive or in conflict with what they teach at home. When dealing with unproven theoretical information, textbooks should introduce the most widely held beliefs in an informational format, and allow students and parents to make choices as their beliefs dictate. SALLY SCHOLLE

I think creationism should be taught along with the theory of evolution. What are the evolutionists afraid of? We are not asking creationism to replace evolution. Why can't both sides be taught and let the students decide? Whatever happened to pro-choice? Contrary to the statements from one of this paper's columnists, not all scientists believe in evolution. There are many, many reputable scientists who believe creationism is much more credible. Science has never proven the Bible wrong. Eventually, science always catches up with the Bible. The Bible isn't strictly a science book, but it contains science. To bring in the idea that all other religions should be given equal attention is just ludicrous. GINNY STOUGH

I'm for having creation taught in the schools.


It's hard to believe that the debate is still going on about whether real science (evolution) or mythology (creationism) should be taught in the science classroom. It means something that reputable scientists aren't sitting around arguing about whether evolution is a scientific fact or not — they only seem to argue about the fine points of how evolution works. People like Alan Bonsell, Noel Wenrich and William Buckingham, and their endless attempts to have classroom science watered down into meaningless mythology, are largely responsible for America's continuing loss of world technological and scientific dominance. High schools should be teaching in-depth courses on how evolution (and all the sciences) works instead of arguing about creationism's place in the classroom. But since these individuals want to teach creationism in the schools, I have to wonder — which version? That man was created first and then animals were created (Genesis 2:7 - 2:20) or that animals were created first and then man was created (Genesis 1:20 - 1:28)? And would that be young earth creationism (the universe is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old) or old earth creationism (the universe is much older). I assume they would teach why science is valid most of the time but meaningless when it contradicts their religious beliefs. Creationists accept that our understanding of nuclear decay is scientifically sound when dating religious artifacts, but then contend that same knowledge is meaningless when dating fossils with radioactive isotopes. And the same for all the sciences — physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, mathematics, genetics, molecular biology etc. — we understand these except when they verify evolution and a multibillion-year-old universe. Perhaps Mr. Bonsell, Wenrich or Buckingham could explain why that is to us via a letter to the editor. Of course, if you don't require facts for your science, you can teach anything.


With regard to Mike Argento's column (June 20), evolution is not a fact. Argento's attempt to justify his claim by stating that "gravity is a fact" misses the point. Gravity is a proven concept, evolution is not. Webster's dictionary defines a theory as "a proposed explanation whose status is still conjecture." Webster also states that theory is "a guess or conjecture, contemplation or speculation." For those who would like to do some serious research on this matter, may I suggests the works of Ken Ham, founder of Answers In Genesis. Secondly, since evolution is nothing more than a theory, what would be wrong with teaching it side-by-side with creationism? The fact of the matter is that if creation is correct, then there is indeed a God, and that means that people will be held accountable for their lives to that God. This flies totally in the face of the "politically correct — you can't tell me what to do with my life" mentality of today's society. With a little bit of research, people would be surprised at the number of creationists who began as evolutionists. In their attempts to prove evolution (which they have not accomplished) these people became convinced that creation is the correct explanation. Lastly, may I point out that just because people choose not to believe in something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Several hundred years ago it was a fact that the earth was flat. That belief did not alter reality. The reality is that God is real. The choice to believe lies with each individual.


Creationism is solely a religious concept, for it comes from religious writings. A quote from Henry Cabot Lodge (a conservative senator from the early part of the last century) seems apt here: "True Americanism is opposed utterly to any political divisions resting on race and religion. To the race or to the sect which as such attempts to take possession of the politics or the public education of the country true Americanism says, 'Hands off.' The American idea is a free church in a free state, and a free and unsectarian public school in every ward and in every village, with its doors wide open to the children of all races and every creed."


The objective of schools is to teach children the truth. I do not see how truth can be taught by telling children that billions or trillions (the number continually grows) of years ago a sea of gasses (no one knows how the gasses formed or where they came from) was stuck by lightning (how did the lightning get there?) forming a one cell amoebae which being unprovoked started to multiply. The multiplication process continued until organs started to form and the grown-up cells left their primordial ooze and went on dry land growing limbs, climbing trees and smelling flowers. How did the trees, flowers and oxygen get in place since all the cells were in the primordial ooze? How did the creature know to develop eyesight or the sense of smell? Did the creature produce a digestive system before or after the mouth, teeth and tongue were developed? Were the creature's ears developed before or after speech? Truth should be taught. Evolution is at best a hypothesis and at worst a lie engineered for mankind to deny the existence of a creator and mankind's accountability to that creator.


Education is the pursuit of knowledge. Towards that end I'd support the teaching of "biblical creationism" in textbooks provided it was presented in conjunction with the hundreds of other "creation stories" that have existed over time and was presented as nothing more than a religious belief unsupported by scientific fact. I see nothing wrong with exposing students to alternative beliefs so long as it is made clear that only Darwin's evolutionary theory has any basis in scientifically proven fact.


About teaching creationism in school: I don't think so.


Physics News Update 666

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 666 December 18, 2003 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon
BRINGING THE NUCLEON INTO SHARPER FOCUS. Working at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia, a multinational research team has determined how quarks in a proton orient their "spins," which, roughly speaking, can be visualized as tiny bar magnets that point in a certain direction and have a certain strength. Information about a quark's spin can provide new details of how the tiny particles arrange themselves inside a nucleon (proton or neutron). In high-school physics classes, students are taught that a proton or neutron simply consists of three quarks, which specialists call "valence quarks." A more complete picture includes these three valence quarks, plus a sea of quark-antiquark pairs that pop in and out of empty space (the vacuum), as well as particles called gluons which hold the quarks together. Now, for the first time, researchers have precisely measured the distribution of spin for a neutron's valence quarks. Strikingly, their results reveal the importance of once-neglected orbital motions of quarks around the nucleon. Aiming an electron beam at a helium-3 target in JLab's Hall A, researchers (led by Jian-Ping Chen, jpchen@jlab.org and Zein-Eddine Meziani, meziani@temple.edu) selected a 5.7 GeV beam energy so that the electrons interacted mainly with the neutron's valence quarks and not its sea quarks and gluons. Interestingly, the researchers applied their new neutron data, along with existing proton data, to find out more about the proton. Their conclusions: the spins of the proton's two valence up quarks are aligned parallel to the overall proton spin, but the same is not true for the proton's valence down quark (see image at http://www.aip.org/mgr/png/2003/207.htm).

This result disagrees with predictions from an approximation of perturbative quantum chromodynamics (pQCD), a widely accepted theory of the strong force (which holds the nucleon together). This approximation does not account for the quarks' orbital angular momenta, which describes the orbital paths of quarks inside the nucleon. However, the results agree well with predictions from relativistic valence quark model, which does consider quarks' orbital angular momenta as they move inside the nucleon. (Zheng et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming article; for more information, contact Xiaochao Zheng, Argonne, 630-252-3431, xiaochao@jlab.org) Once omitted in simpler pictures of the nucleon, quark orbital angular momentum is also proving important for exploring questions about the shape of the proton (see for example New Scientist, May 3, 2003.)

A TRUE ONE-DIMENSIONAL ATOMIC SYSTEM, consisting of a Bose Einstein condensate (BEC) of rubidium atoms pulled out into a thin tubelike shape, has been experimentally demonstrated for the first time, in the ETH lab in Zurich. The ETH researchers begin by loading their condensate into an optical lattice, an artificial configuration in which atoms are held and moved about in 3D space by criss-crossing beams of laser light. In contrast to previous efforts to make one-dimensional BECs, this experiment succeeded in extruding a condensate into 1000 small needle-like condensates---one dimensional strings of 100 atoms or so and not merely cigar shaped lozenges---because they used a far more intense laser trapping field and higher quality laser beams (more truly Gaussian in their profile), the better to keep atoms from tunneling from one needle into a neighboring needle (see figure at http://www.aip.org/mgr/png/2003/208.htm ). Once the ETH physicists had established their one-dimensional atomic gas what did they do with it? They set their lean stack of atoms into motion by slightly moving the magnetic center of their apparatus. This caused the atoms to move up and down in a "breathing mode"at a characteristic frequency. Studying this oscillation was analogous to listening a one dimensional bell ringing.

How unusual is the ETH 1D condensate? Well, even two dimensional atomic systems are rare in physics: helium films and hydrogen atoms sitting atop helium are the prominent examples. The only other 1D gas studied in physics consists of electrons moving in "quantum wires." One-dimensional systems are interesting because they are more intrinsically dominated by quantum effects than 2- or 3-dimensional systems. According to Tilman Esslinger (tilman.esslinger@iqe.phys.ethz.ch, http://www.quantumoptics.ethz.ch/ ) 1D ensembles of atoms should play an important role wherever precision handling of atoms is needed: in atom optics, atom interferometry, or sending signals from atom lasers down an atom waveguide. (Moritz et al., Physical Review Letters, 19 December 2003)

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

Crookston facility to promote holistic health


Posted on Sat, Jun. 26, 2004

A new approach

By Brenden Timpe

Herald Staff Writer

A Crookston church is dedicating a site today for a future facility to help people live a more contemplative and healthier lifestyle.

The Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing, or MICAH, will be a center to foster spiritual and physical health for all, said the Rev. Dan Wolpert of Crookston Presbyterian Church. The planned programs will focus on spiritual leadership and alternative medicine and, down the road, will provide space for artists and a restaurant.

"Even though it is a mission project of the Presbyterian church, it is an ecumenical undertaking," Wolpert said. "We're really wanting to welcome everyone into this."

The public is invited to a dedication and celebration, at 1 p.m. today at the MICAH site on Polk County Road 13, about 11 miles northeast of Crookston.

Spiritual life

One of the goals of MICAH is to start a church-based group with a different organizational point of view. Today's churches, Wolpert said, have adopted a secular, corporate model of operation.

"A lot of church meetings look like business meetings in any other organization," he said. "Churches are beginning to recognize that they've gotten away from the church as a spiritual organization."

MICAH, Wolpert said, would be "led by God as opposed to Robert's Rules of Order." It would be available for people to come for extended periods of time to contemplate their lives and learn things that will benefit them when they return to their regular routines.

"We'd really like to be able to provide an opportunity for people to really spend awhile looking at this and then be able to go back to their organization and have a great deal of confidence as to how is it that you lead and run and organize a spiritual organization," Wolpert said.

Health issues

Another factor, Wolpert said, will be complementary alternative medicine, which is intended to incorporate alternative medicine techniques into conventional Western approaches. His wife, Debra Bell, MD, practices this approach.

Wolpert said MICAH already is getting help from Altru and Riverview medical facilities in developing such a center in Crookston. He said he hopes it eventually will move to the MICAH site.

"Our hope is that this really can ... develop into a regional center, not only for patient care but also for physicians' training or other health-care practitioners who are interested in this training," he said.

Another part of the long-term plan is to start a restaurant, which fits in with the goal of the health facility, Wolpert said. For people who want to change their eating habits, he said, it would teach them how to cook in a more health-friendly way.

"We want a place that serves really good, healthy food," he said.

Art, too

A final component of MICAH is a space for artists, Wolpert said. Already, the site has hosted a group of artists and writers from Grand Forks for a daylong retreat. And, he said, the group is having conversations with local artists, possibly to create a rural center for art.

This and the other MICAH programs form a variety of aspects that all relate to the same purpose, Wolpert said.

"The institute is a place where people will be drawn for a variety of reasons to come to a place that is examining and looking at really how it is that we are living our lives," he said. "And that question is addressed from a number of different directions."

Big vision

Working along with Wolpert and Bell in MICAH is the Rev. Erik Swanson, a Presbyterian minister, who offers spiritual direction for anyone interested. Swanson, a seminary friend of Wolpert's, is the only paid MICAH staff member.

The project has been 2½ years in the running, Wolpert said. Money has come from the congregation and the regional presbytery, as well as private donors and grants.

It wasn't until January that the land for the center was acquired from Willard and Joanne Brunelle; 230 acres of farmland, pasture and wooded bank next to the Red Lake River in three parcels. The dedication site today is six miles east of the Dairy Queen in Crookston on U.S. Highway 2, then 3 miles north on county road 13, turn right on Polk County Road 57 and drive about 1¾ miles northeast, then turn right into the Willard Brunelle driveway.

Wolpert said his best hope is that building may start next summer on the site. "But it likely will be two years before we build," he said.

One temporary building has been erected - a Mongolian-style tent called a yurt. But already people are coming from all over the country for MICAH retreats and events this summer, he said.

MICAH, for now, is based at the Presbyterian church in Crookston. Daily silent prayer times are held at the church - 9 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and 7:30 a.m. and noon on Wednesdays. A weekly Bible study is held at noon on Thursdays. "The full-blown vision (for MICAH) is quite elaborate, and I don't really expect it to manifest the full-blown vision for a number of years," Wolpert said.

Alternative medicine practitioners join with doctors to give patients more options



Here, eat this root. That root is heathen, say this prayer. That prayer is superstitious, drink this potion. That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill. That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic. That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root." — "A Short History of Medicine," The Chiropractic Resource Organization

This is not a pretty visual. I'm standing in the shower — head tilted back to my second vertebrae — with a bulbous (think clown nose) blue ear wax-removal syringe jammed two inches up my left nostril. My right thumb is pinching the other nostril closed, and my mouth is stretched open as far as my jaw will allow. It's quite a sight. I look like Bozo (in his birthday suit) prepping for a root canal.

If someone, anyone, Nostradamus even, had predicted I'd ever be trying to clear my sinus gridlock with "nasal irrigation" (blasting a spray of saline solution up my nose and out my mouth), I would have said they were nuts. A poster boy for alternative medicine, I'm not. A cup full of horse pills? Fine. Needles, spine cracking, aura massages? No way.

But I do have polyps in my nose, raisin-shaped globules of mucus (I said this wasn't pretty) that, in addition to causing year-round sniffles and stuffiness, are also the reason I often sound like a deep-sea diver when I talk. The lumpy pests are immune to over-the-counter decongestants and impervious to prescription inhalers, leaving me with one of two options: let a surgeon go spelunking around my nose with lasers or try a gentler, alternative approach.

Then again, gentle is a relative term. Gentle is me holding my breath, squeezing, then sniffing. The salty fluid takes a U-turn up my nostril, down my throat and out my mouth — carrying with it a viscous hunk of congestion into the drain. There is more sniffing and coughing and a not-so-mellow salt buzz shooting through my head (which, I imagine, is what the '80s must have felt like). I continue to gag, trying to clear my nose, and then I feel the burn, the sodium seeping into the raw crevices of my nasal cavity like a charley horse quivering in my nose.

By now, you're thinking, "Well, this is what happens when you turn to Quackery.com for medical advice or consult a book by a shaman from Timbuktu to cure your ills." You probably think I should have consulted with my doctor first — my med school-trained, antibiotics-peddling physician from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. And that's the rub.

I did. Hosing down my nasal cavity with salt water, this drug-free alternative approach to sinus decongestion, was his idea. I've become a guinea pig in the great new experiment that may be the future of medicine.

Hell hath frozen over.

According to the American Hospital Association, nearly 25 percent of the nation's leading 5,800 hospitals now claim some form of alternative-medicine clinic under their aegis. That's up from—well, zero percent just a few years ago.

For the last century, holistic medicine (alternative care that emphasizes the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit) and allopathic medicine (standard Western treatment of disease using antibiotics, chemo, etc.) have been embroiled in a medicinal Cold War. A hard-line dilettante. A Nixon-Khrushchev affair. The two camps refused to open the line of communications or exchange trade secrets. They kept it oil and vinegar. If you were seeking medical attention, you had your choice. One or the other, and never the twain shall meet.

Even a decade ago, when the popularity of alternative medicine slithered stealth-like under the medical establishment's radar and into the vocabulary (and medicine chests) of ordinary Joes and Janes, higher-ups in the medical community wrote it off as a fad, a craze with no legs, a flash in the bed pan.

They were wrong.

By 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was reporting that 42 percent of all Americans were dabbling in the Eastern art of alternative medicine. Today, we make 600 million visits a year to alt-medicine practitioners — to the tune of more than $27 billion annually, according to JAMA.

And if anything can send shock waves through an industry, it's an untapped revenue stream of $27 billion. So hospital number crunchers proposed an unprecedented, almost unholy, merger: an experimental alliance between traditional and alternative medicine. They called it integrative medicine and encouraging M.D.s and oncology nurses to share hospital space with acupuncturists, masseuses and other alternative medicine practitioners. It's being billed as one-stop shopping for the mind, body and spirit, an East meets West co-healing venture.

Feeling alienated by the increasingly impersonal nature of the health-care system and its lack of preventative care, hefty numbers of patients are shunning their family doctors and continuing to tinker with as-yet scientifically unproven health models.

Which begs the question, what in the name of Hippocrates is going on in the medical world these days?

They had it coming.

That's Elisabeth Falato's philosophy. The doctors had it coming — with their vibrating beepers and their high falutin' language and their "take two of these and we'll talk side-effects in the morning" edicts. You can only take so much specialization, so much blasted paperwork, so much "managed care" before you start thinking, "Hey, maybe there's something else out there."

"People don't want to be treated like a number, they want to be treated like a human being," says Falato, a 30-year alt-med advocate from Riverwoods who can rant on about physician malfeasance with the impassioned rapture of Billy Joel crooning "We Didn't Start the Fire." "Sometimes it just feels like they are numb to our pain, that they are missing the love and the touch and the respect that the human body deserves. We want someone who will really concentrate on our problems."

Here's the thing. Given the option between a yuck-yuck, feel-good check-up with Patch Adams, which ends with a misdiagnose of our ulcer as indigestion, and a sit-down with Dr. Humorless, who has the digital dexterity of Rachmaninov in the surgery ward, we'll opt for droll and dependable every time. But that's not to say we aren't a mite perturbed with the current state of patient-physician relations. We still long to be cared for — a good-natured chuckle every other visit, some jargon-free straight talk and, heaven forbid, a hint of hope when things are looking especially grim.

Abraham Verghese pegged it in his essay "The Healing Paradox." "We are perhaps in search of something more than a cure — call it healing," he writes. "We want the magic that good physicians provide with their personality, their empathy and their reassurance. We need not lose sight of the word ëcaring' in our care of the patients."

At the Center for Holistic Medicine in Deerfield, Dr. Jerry Gore will do more than just lend an ear, he'll play psychiatrist. He's a triple threat — a psychiatrist, a registered M.D. and a trained alternative medicine practitioner.

He opened his center 28 years ago when traditional doctors were still quipping that herbal supplements were quackery and acupuncture was medical voodoo. His aim was to forge common ground between alternative and traditional medicine by combining them under one roof. Sound familiar?

"I think most people define alternative medicine as not using antibiotics, using massage and nutrition and acupuncture," says Gore. "I don't define it that way. I think it's a philosophy just as much as a technique. Symptoms and conditions are used to educate people and help them grow."

It's Gore's belief that patients, above all, covet choice. They want options. They want alternatives they can explore before they go under the knife or, say, opt for chemotherapy. It's a new mindset, particularly for Baby Boomers, that is shifting the emphasis of care away from individual doctors to teams of consultants who include the patient in the decision-making process.

"They can lay out the whole picture for me," says Gore. "People don't mind paying the money because see it as an investment, an investment in themselves. That's what traditional medicine has forgotten."

On January 28, 1993, The New England Journal of Medicine hit the newsstands as it always does — with an uneventful thud. But then came the story on page 246. A bombshell. If Dr. David Eisenberg's article, "Unconventional Medicine in the United States," were a court case, it would be a landmark decision by now. The respected M.D. from Harvard Medical School was spewing blasphemies, claiming that 34 percent of all Americans were rolling the dice on alternative therapies, secretly cracking their spines and needling their qi in defiance of medical orthodoxy.

"It was a wake-up call for a lot of doctors," says Dr. Tony Lu, Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Loyola University. "When they started doing research, physicians realized the two disciplines weren't as far apart as they thought. For example, the concept of yin-yang is everywhere in conventional medicine. When you flex and extend your biceps you are balancing your biceps and triceps. Diabetes is an imbalance of insulin and glucagon."

In response, doctors bifurcated into two camps: those that threw on their armor and gauntlets, primed, now more than ever, to finally vanquish the dragon of alternative medicine, and the more scholastic group, which suggested there might be a nugget or two of gold to be panned from the chaos.

Dr. Karen Koffler says her "awakening" came about eight years ago. It was about 2 a.m. in the middle of the ICU at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver. It had been a long night. One crisis after another. Cancer patients. Stroke victims. Dying children. At some point, all the illnesses just bled into one. Think Kafka. Think bouncing, bleeping EKG meters, the shuffle of nurses' blue smocks as they rustle down the hall, moaning, weeping, and the cheerless breath of respirators ñ a long, cacophonous echo of infirmity.

Room 201 needs help. Done. Room 209. Stabilized. Who's next? Koffler walked over to the patient board, and stopped. The names scrawled in blue magic marker were familiar. They'd been here before. Some once, some twice. Some three or four times. Same charts. Same diagnoses. Same faces.

"I realized in that moment that it was one big revolving door," she says. "We were spending all our energy trying to send them home, only to have them return again. It was a shortsighted approach. I realized I was in a disease care, not a health care system."

So Koffler shelved her Physician's Desk Reference and enrolled at the University of Arizona's Integrative Medicine Program under the tutelage of the so-called father of alternative medicine, Andrew Weil (the Santa Clause-bearded alt-med M.D. from Harvard who authored the best-selling 8 Weeks to Optimum Health).

The program introduces practicing physicians to the challenges of incorporating alternative medicine into traditional hospital environments: how to pair treatments with specific illnesses, avoid the risk of interaction and administer correct dosages for herbal supplements. End goal? Produce a coterie of well-credentialed alt-med missionaries who will carry the Word of Weil back to other academic institutions, thus influencing future policy in the medical industry.

So far, it's working. Newsweek in 2001 reported that two-thirds of U.S. medical schools currently offer courses in CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine), including Columbia and Duke, providing the infrastructure to not only sustain integrative medicine facilities but support continued growth as well.

"If you look at anything over time, you understand there are shifts," says Koffler, who now heads the Integrative Medicine Center of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. "I just represent one of those shifts."

The question now is, just what kind of a shift and what types of treatments are appropriate for a hospital setting?

One thing's for sure:

Enya's got the market cornered on alt-med waiting rooms. I'm decompressing in the lobby of the Life Force Healing Center in Evanston, listening to dulcet rhythms of synthesized Zen and daydreaming into Asian woodcarvings of panda bears and gold-colored leaves. If I didn't know better, I'd swear I was being feng shui'd into a coma.

Enter Rick Brown. Chiropractor, homeopathist, all-around alt-med guru. He makes it a point to personally escort me to his office. In his eyes, using nurses as maitre d's to bring patients to see their doctor is a symbol of conventional medicine's cold, assembly-line approach to doctor-patient interaction. Brown prefers a more casual approach, which is exemplified in his dress. No gray smock. No stethoscope slung around his neck. Just khakis, a white polo and a soft handshake.

He leads me into his office, hands me a short, pleasant questionnaire to fill out ñ how am I feeling today, do I have anything I want to talk about, etc, etc. Smiles. Weather talk. More pleasantries. And then Rick Brown bludgeons me with this.

"I'm not going to heal you. And if you run into anyone who tells you that they're going to heal you, you better think twice about trusting them."

Oh, groan. Another heal-thyself sermon. Memories of late-night Deepak Chopra infomercials are flaring into my mind like acid flashbacks. Brown quotes liberally from books with titles like Anatomy of the Spirit. He says society is greedy. And cancer is greedy. And if we're to cure ourselves, we have to cure the zeitgeist of the world around us. Nature is balanced, he insists, and humans are imbalanced.

This is usually the moment when eyes roll and throats clear and alternative medicine takes one giant leap in the wrong direction. But here's the catch. Rick Brown is a cancer survivor, a cancer survivor who didn't take chemotherapy, who, after his conventional doctors sliced away his malignant melanoma, took care of his own recovery without the slightest intervention from Western medicine. If you want proof that alternative medicine will work, you won't find it here. But if you want circumstantial evidence, Rick Brown is Exhibit A.

"When I went to my doctor and he asked me when I wanted to do surgery, he was expecting me to say tomorrow. I said I don't want to do it right now because there's a full moon. He looked at me like I was nuts, but there are articles in JAMA that show bleeding is more excessive during a full moon than a new moon. The science is there to support that, but unless you look at it from that perspective, it sounds crazy."

Brown used something called a light-beam generator, which he says increased the flow of liquids through his body, speeding the healing process. He worked with nutritional supplements and colonics, flushing out his digestive system. He also used acupuncture and chiropractic techniques to bolster his immune system. Two years later, he's feeling stronger than ever.

"There is an important place for what happens in traditional medicine," says Brown. "There have been many cures found, a lot of pain and suffering has been eliminated, a lot of amazing things. The only problem is we've put all our eggs in one basket. In the Western world, what used to be provided by spiritual concerns has now been entirely replaced by science."

It's empowering to imagine we can control our own healthcare and self-medicate ourselves, concepts alternative medicine dangles in front of our noses like a giant, organic carrot on a string.

When Doris Bloom's 78-year-old husband contracted shingles last year and discovered his doctor had flown south for the winter, he didn't panic. Heck, he didn't even leave his house. He turned to Doris for a free consultation. Doris scanned her alt-med library, then her medicine chest. There was lathering to be done with essential oils and Dixie cups of vitamins to swallow. And, boom, one case of shingles cured.

"There's a real satisfaction in saying there was shingles in the house and we took care of it ourselves," says Doris. "Doctors tell me I don't understand what my body needs. And I'd tell them it's my body. I know what it needs. It just takes time. You have to have faith in the idea you can care for yourself."

All fine and good, says Dr. Mira Kuder, a private-practice physician affiliated with Resurrection Health Care, but remember playing doctor comes with irreversible risks. When one of Kuder's former patients developed cancer of the larynx, the recommendation was to prep for immediate surgery. Success rate: excellent. Side effect: permanent hoarseness. Seemed like a no-brainer. Better safe with a scratchy throat than sorry with cancer. Turns out it wasn't such an easy call. Kuder's patient caught wind of an alt-med inhalation therapy that would obliterate the cancer sans the throat ache. Months later, he returned to Kuder with an inoperable tumor. The results were fatal.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychologist who operates the Web site Quackwatch.com, is convinced the alt-med movement is part of a dangerous trend toward the rejection of science as a reliable method for determining truth. Emotions, subjective judgments and personal experience, he insists, are being valued as equals to empirical evidence. Where traditional medicine relies on rigidly administered double-blind studies, the efficacy of alternative medicine is judged solely on symptom relief. And symptom relief can be chimerical, a result of anything from the day-to-day fluctuation of illness to the placebo effect of positive thinking.

"They talk about qi, the flow of pathways. Where are they? How do they measure them?" asks Barrett. "The answer is they create their own ways of measuring it and then show the results."

The evidence currently used by most integrative medicine centers comes from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a federal agency created in 1992 to test alternative treatments. The center's budget has ballooned from $2 million at its inception to $113 million last year. Currently, there are clinical trials underway on a range of modalities, everything from the effect of milk thistle on liver disease to acupuncture as a pain reliever during chemotherapy.

At Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the evidence supplied by NCCAM is used to determine which patients can be referred to the hospital's Center for Integrative Medicine. For example, since research shows promising results for the use of acupuncture in nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, Northwestern physicians now have the right to refer their patients to affiliated acupuncturists.

The problem with NCCAM's research is the unacceptable number of equivocal findings due to poor design, low sample size and biased control groups. Add to this recent findings on the placebo effect that indicate between 35 and 75 percent of patients show improvement by simply taking a dummy pill. (One study showed doctors eliminated warts by painting them with dye and promising their patients they would be gone when the paint wore off. In most cases, the warts disappeared).

"I think that in terms of scientifically proven results, traditional medicine is way ahead of alternative medicine," says Drew Palumbo, Vice President of Business Affairs for Northwestern Memorial's Physician's Group. "But there are a group of people who swear by these modalities. Alternative medicine works for them. We have no plans to downgrade our services, but we have no plans on betting the farm on them either."

The jury is still out on my little sinus experiment.

After two weeks of snorting saline, my congestion did temporarily clear. It was short-lived. Only two days. But for a couple gorgeous days in late March, I could sniff scents like a bloodhound: baking doughnuts and gasoline and fresh-cut grass. And then, poof, it was back to olfactory deprivation.

Was the whole thing psychosomatic? Was the change in seasons the cause? Maybe the saline actually worked? Maybe my inhalers kicked in? Maybe I just wanted it, wanted to inhale the first breath of spring so badly that I literally willed my sinuses open?

The truth of the matter is, I don't know. Will I continue with the nasal irrigation in the future? Not sure. What I do know is that I have another option now, another possibility for relief. And that gives me hope, a little something to lean on. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But there's also something powerful and comforting about having the choice.

And thus, in many ways, it is as it always has been. Mind versus body, East versus West, allopathy versus alternative medicine, science versus mysticism. But most of all, caveat emptor.

Alternative Medicine 101

Think you'd like to check out some these alt-med therapies, but don't know where to start? We at North Shore have put together a quick beginner's guide to alternative medicine. It's by no means comprehensive (and as all the disclaimers tell you, please consult a physician first). However, here's what the folks at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and other experts had to say on the subject:


Hair-thin needles are inserted into various acupuncture points, helping conduct energy, or qi, throughout the body, perhaps conducting electromagnetic signals at a faster rate and stimulating the nervous and immune systems.

Helps provide relief from nausea after chemotherapy and surgery, arthritis, asthma, major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Advocates claim it can improve just about any symptom that ails you.


Highly concentrated essential oils, herbs often mixed with vegetable oils or diluted with alcohol, are inhaled with purported medicinal benefits.

According to The Alternative Medicine Handbook by Barrie R. Cassileth, it is believed that lemon stimulates the immune system, rosemary soothes pain, peppermint calms the digestive system and reduces inflammation, rose regulates female hormones.


A machine monitors muscle and nervous system activity with a series of beeps or images, while therapists provide exercises to alter those rates. The quickening of slowing of the images or beats provides patients feedback on how well they are controlling their body with their mind.

According to the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, treatments aid headaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure, epilepsy, paralysis and more.

Chiropractic Therapy

The repositioning of misaligned vertebrae in the spine is said to facilitate the flow of nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body.

Back and neck pain, headaches, sports injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome are commonly treated. Since the spine conducts impulses to most of the body, some chiropractors insist the treatment can even combat heart disease and impotency problems.


Therapy in which patients are administered extremely trace amounts of chemicals or herbs that would normally cause the illness being treated. ìLike cures like,î the theory goes. If a substance creates symptoms in large doses, minute doses spur healing.

Although largely written off as quackery by traditional medicine (traces are so small they are often immeasurable), advocates insist it combats allergies, asthma, indigestion, the common cold and, often, chronic illnesses.


Patients are induced into a trance-like state, often by watching a swinging object or by counting backwards from 30, during which they are susceptible to therapeutic suggestion.

New research indicates hypnotherapy may treat addiction, phobia, anxiety and depression, although recent studies at the NCCAM are focusing on pain relief and muscle relaxation.


The foot is a microcosm of the human body, which reflexologists say allows them to press on various pressure points on the foot and alleviate symptoms throughout the body.

Used to treat stress-related problems, as well as headache (both tension and migraine), premenstrual syndrome, asthma, digestive disorders, skin conditions such as acne and eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis and sciatica.

Therapeutic Massage

More than a dozen different techniques target different areas of the body, each designed to promote blood flow and nerve activity.

Medical studies have shown therapeutic massage to enhance weight gain in premature infants, lower blood pressure, combat chronic fatigue syndrome and reduce pain in cancer patients. (Besides, it feels great too.)

Copyright© 2004 North Shore Magazine

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