NTS LogoSkeptical News for 11 July 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Scientologists pitch tent at festival, make pitch to New Bedford


By JOAO FERREIRA, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- The controversial Church of Scientology set up camp at the Whaling City Festival yesterday, maintaining it can help solve the city's violence and drug problems.

"The plan is to get scientology solutions everywhere," said the Rev. Robert W. Castagna, the church's community outreach director, who presided under a bright yellow tent at Buttonwood Park.

He said those solutions include learning about issues underlying violence, such as family values and literacy. He also advocated following the teachings of the late L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder.

Revered by followers who include actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, critics say Hubbard was a cult leader, charlatan and con artist.

New Bedford resident Kristen Schofield, a volunteer minister and member of the Scientologists since 1997, dismisses the criticism.

"If you really understand what's going on you can really get the answers," she said.

It was Ms. Schofield who asked church representatives to come to New Bedford after witnessing violence on her doorstep.

"We have a lot of shootings, drugs and a lot of gun violence," she said. "I was really fed up with the problems that were happening. I could actually see drug dealings ... going on in front of my house."

"It got me worried that nothing was being done," said the South First Street area resident. "This a step in the right direction."

Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr., who was visiting the festival yesterday afternoon but hadn't been to the Scientology tent, said he is willing to listen to what the Scientologists and other faith denominations, have to say.

"Many solutions can be found through the faith-based community," he said, adding that his community liaison Walter Moniz planned to stop by the tent and he might, as well.

"These are folks who are making a presentation in conjunction with the festival," he said. "Allow people to make their own judgment."

The tent, which has been to other cities across the state, opened at 4 p.m. yesterday but initially, at least, drew little attention. Mr. Hubbard's books and pamphlets were for sale and offered in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The Rev. Castagna also was seeking people to sign up as volunteer ministers. He said they didn't have to join the church formally.

He added that the Scientologists aren't setting up shop permanently in the city yet, but volunteers like Ms. Schofield could help that happen. "At this moment we're just trying to show people what we have to offer," he said.

This story appeared on Page A4 of The Standard-Times on July 10, 2004.

Evolution education update: MT, Gee on ID, and Scott's book

Darby again; lessons about "intelligent design" from the lamprey; and the debut of Eugenie C. Scott's book on Amazon.com.


More news from Darby, the little Montana town with the big debate over evolution education. On July 5, 2004, the Darby school board held the second reading of the proposed "objective origins" policy, which sought to expose students to "a qualified and responsible criticism of Darwinian evolution." The board, which had approved the policy at its first reading in February by a 3-2 vote, rejected it by a 3-2 vote. Board member Mary Lovejoy commented, "Today the community is beaming with relief." The board's volte-face was due to the results of the May 4 election, in which one incumbent who favored the policy was defeated while another incumbent who opposed it was re-elected, despite the fact that proponents of the policy spent about twice as much money on campaigning.

For coverage in the Ravalli Republic, see: http://www.ravallinews.com/articles/2004/07/08/news/znews02.txt


Writing in the latest issue of Nature, Henry Gee contemplates "The tyranny of design." The recent discovery of the lamprey's evolutionarily distinct adaptive immune system, Gee suggests, corroborates a diagnosis of "intelligent design" as driven by a misguided concentration on model organisms and structures. "[A] wide variety of flagellar motors have been described, each arranged in its own way, each its own solution to effective rotary motion in the microworld. There is no such thing as The Motor, no Platonic perfection enforced on bacteria by Divine fiat. Instead we see ad hoc solutions that are not perfect, but idiosyncratic and eclectic -- just what you would expect if evolution were working on its own, without a Designer."

For the full article in Nature, see: http://www.nature.com/news/2004/040705/full/040705-1.html


NCSE Executive Director Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction is now available. In his preface, paleontologist and NCSE supporter Niles Eldredge writes, "Perhaps someday schools in the United States will catch up to those in other developed countries and treat evolution as a normal scientific subject. Before that happens, though, people need to understand evolution, and also understand the creationism and evolution controversy. Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction is a step towards this goal."

To order the book via Amazon.com, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0313321221/thenorthtexasske

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


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

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available:



The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News Number 691 July 7, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein

SWITCHABLE NANOTUBE DIODES made by scientists at the research arm of General Electric combine the practical electrical properties of carbon nanotubes (ability to carry high currents; ability to emit light) with the flexibility of being changed over from a p-n type of diode (allowing current to flow in one direction only) to an n-p diode type (allowing current only in the opposite direction). Most solid state transistors are three-terminal devices: current comes in at one terminal (the source) and exits at a second terminal (the drain) if a third terminal (the gate) carries a certain voltage, which has the effect of electrostatically clearing out a realm for charge carriers to flow through. In the GE device, the "realm" is a single-walled carbon nanotube (NT), while the "gate" is actually two separate gates located beneath the NT. These split gates can electrostatically dope the two ends of the NT in such a way that current will flow in only one direction or only in the other depending on the gate voltages. If you count the source, drain, two gate electrodes, and another electrode attached to an underlying silicon substrate, the device overall has five terminals. Diodes are intrinsically simpler than transistors, but up till now more work has gone into developing NT transistors than for NT diodes. The GE researchers (contact Ji-Ung Lee, leeji@research.ge.com) expect their device to function as both a field effect transistor (FET) or as a light emitting diode (LED). Because of its ability to carry high currents, and because the company in question is GE, it might also find applications in power electronics, where huge currents and voltages are to be found. (Lee et al., Applied Physics Letters, 5 July 2004, cover story; text at www.aip.org/physnews/select)

WEAK LOCALIZATION OF SEISMIC WAVES. A group of scientists at the University Joseph Fourier of Grenoble and at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France believe they have observed the temporary trapping of seismic waves in a natural environment. Years ago the localization of waves was observed under laboratory conditions for electron waves (electrons, acting like waves as they move through a material) and light waves; the waves, traveling in a diffuse medium such as milk or powder, were repeatedly scattered but not absorbed and were, in effect, bottled up or "localized." (For a report on the localization of light waves see http://www.aip.org/pnu/1998/split/pnu356-1.htm) Would such localization of waves be observed at the much larger terrestrial scale and under conditions with very little control could be exercised? The Grenoble scientists sought and found an example of what could be the first step towards a "seismic insulator," a strongly heterogeneous geographic environment which would scatter but not absorb waves in the earth. Previously the same researchers had found evidence for seismic waves rattling around underground in the wake of some earthquakes (see http://focus.aps.org/story/v7/st17). Now they are reporting that interference of the seismic waves can be detected and that this method can be used to determine the mean wavelengths of "randomly walking" seismic waves. The waves in this case were propagating inside a volcano located in the French Auvergne and tracked with an array of detectors. (Larose et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming article; contact Bart van Tiggelen, bart.van-tiggelen@grenoble.cnrs.fr, 33-4-76-88-12-76; text of article at www.aip.org/physnews/select)

TURNING PASSENGER TRAINS INTO RAIL-CRACK DETECTORS is possible with a new ultrasonic device developed by physicists at the University of Warwick in England (Steve Dixon, s.m.Dixon@warwick.ac.uk). Current ultrasonic track-inspection equipment must be operated on special work trains running 20-30 miles per hour. With the new device, the idea is to enable an ordinary fleet of passenger-carrying trains, traveling as fast as 200 miles per hour, to continuously and routinely check for early signs of track failure. The new ultrasonic technique can detect track defects within 15 mm of the rail surface. Furthermore, it can detect "gauge-corner" cracks, those that occur from rolling wheels making contact with the inside of a rail head (the wide stubby top part of a rail). Track failure from gauge-corner cracking is believed responsible for numerous accidents, including a UK train derailment in October 2000 that killed four people. Mounted on a train, the device generates "low-frequency, wide-band Rayleigh waves," multiple-frequency sound waves that travel swiftly along the length of the surface skin of the rail. Different frequencies penetrate to different depths in the rail, with the lower frequencies having a deeper penetration of around 15 mm. If the waves encounter a crack, they get partially blocked or reflected in a way that can be detected by the device, which can then record its exact location and depth, by determining which frequencies are able to pass underneath the crack. Preliminary results suggest that this technique can even detect changes in microscopic structure and stress levels within the rail that could identify crack-susceptible stretches of track. However, more testing is necessary to confirm this capability, and further development is required to bring the device from the lab to real-world passenger trains. The work, published in the June 2004 issue of Insight, the Journal of the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing, was presented at this week's 7th International Railway Engineering conference in London. (University of Warwick press release, 5 July.)

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.

Archaeologists reveal Utah canyon filled with ancient settlements


Posted on Fri, Jul. 02, 2004


The Associated Press

EAST CARBON CITY, Utah — Archaeologists led reporters into a remote canyon Wednesday to reveal an almost perfectly preserved picture of ancient life: stone pit houses, granaries and a bounty of artifacts kept secret for more than a half-century.

Hundreds of sites on a private ranch turned over to the state offer some of the best evidence of the little-understood Fremont culture, hunter-gatherers and farmers who lived mostly within the present-day borders of Utah.

Hundreds of rock art panels are scattered across the canyon along Range Creek, some colored in red, white, yellow, black and peach. On one panel, the ancient inhabitants etched spirals and human figures with miniature hands among animal figures.

"Many other places in the West have rock art panels, but hardly one of them doesn't have someone's name scratched across it. That's what makes this place so unique," Utah state archaeologist Kevin Jones said.

Archaeologists said the villages were occupied more than 1,000 years ago, and may be as old as 4,500 years.

A caravan of news organizations traveled for two hours from the mining town of East Carbon City, over a serpentine thriller of a dirt road that topped an 8,200-foot mountain before dropping into the narrow canyon in Utah's Book Cliffs region.

Officials kept known burial sites and human remains out of view of reporters and cameras, but within a single square mile of verdant meadows, archaeologists showed off one village site and said there were five more, where arrowheads, pottery shards and other artifacts can still be found lying on the ground.

Archaeologists said the occupation sites, which include granaries full of grass seed and corn, offer an unspoiled slice of life of the ancestors of modern American Indian tribes. The settlements are scattered along 12 miles of Range Creek and up side canyons.

"We've documented about 225 sites, and it's just scratching the surface," Jones said. "There are hundreds of other sites."

Hundreds of granaries, ranging from cupboard-sized to several yards across, are in some cases hundreds of feet up nearly inaccessible cliffs. They offer evidence, Jones said, that the people moved around seasonally and left stores of food.

The pit houses' roofs of cedar and dirt have long collapsed, but Jones said in their day they were "warm and snug in the winter and cool in the summer."

The half-buried houses don't have the grandeur of New Mexico's Chaco Canyon or Colorado's Mesa Verde, where overhanging cliffs shelter stacked stone houses. But they are remarkable in that they hold a treasure of information about the Fremont culture that has been untouched by looters.

The Fremont people were efficient hunters, taking down deer, elk, bison and small game and leaving behind piles of animal bone waste, Jones said. They fished for abundant trout in Range Creek, using a hook and line or weirs. In their more advanced stage they grew corn, although cultivation could be risky in dry years or when bears raided stocks, he said.

Waldo Wilcox, the rancher who sold the land and returned Wednesday, kept the archaeological sites a closely guarded secret for more than 50 years.

"I looked at it like this: I wanted to keep it the way it is," said Wilcox, 74, who moved to Green River and retired. "But when I die, I'm not going to have a lot to say about it. I finally decided I'll take a little money and get out now."

The San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land bought Wilcox's 4,200-acre ranch for $2.5 million. The conservation group transferred the ranch to the Bureau of Land Management, which turned it over to Utah.

The deal calls for the ranch to be opened for public access, a subject certain to raise debate over the proper stewardship of a significant archaeological find.

Already, hikers have taken some arrowheads and disturbed others flagged on the ground, said University of Utah graduate student Joel Boomgarden, one of 35 students rushing to complete survey work in the canyon.

Was pre-human a failed 'experiment'?

Fossil hints at violent death 900,000 years ago


updated: 3:13 p.m. ET July 01, 2004

WASHINGTON - A tiny pre-human who lived more than 900,000 years ago in what is now Kenya may have been a "short experiment" in evolution that never quite made it, scientists said Thursday.

The little skull clearly belongs to an adult and was found last summer at a site where much larger hominids classified as Homo erectus lived, Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution and his research colleagues reported.

He or she died on a volcanic ridge, perhaps mauled by a lion or other carnivore, Potts said.

It is the smallest adult fossil found dating back to the time of Homo erectus, the species of pre-human that dominated between 500,000 and 1.7 million years ago, Potts' team writes in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Periodic gene-swapping Potts believes the fossil find shows that early humans lived in little groups that became separate and distinct for a while, and then came together every few thousand years or so, swapped genes and then parted ways again.

"On occasion, they became isolated for a while, possibly hundreds of generations, and so developed their own unique combination of features," Potts said in an e-mail.

But dramatic climate and environmental changes known to have occurred during those times forced groups to move together again, and perhaps drove some into extinction.

Perhaps there were lots of "short experiments" - species that never really quite made it, Potts said.

"In this light, I would see the hominid population at Olorgesailie as part of a single, highly variable species, with both large and small (possibly male/female) adults."

Violent death This particular early human was found in an area that would have been a volcanic ridge 900,000 years ago. Potts' team is working, as anthropologists often do, from fragments of skull -- and guessing what the rest of the creature looked like.

It had carnivore bite marks on the left brow ridge, Potts said. "Quite possibly this is how the individual died. It was walking along or near the volcanic ridge leading up to the highlands (a safer nighttime place to be than by the water's edge in the lowland) and it didn't quite make it."

Remains of large tools have been found in the area, where Potts and colleagues have worked for years.

"The entire area was a grassy plain, filled with grazing zebra and very large grass-eating baboons, along with grazing elephants and huge pigs," Potts said. "The toolmakers made extensive use of the volcanic rocks up on Mount Olorgesailie and surrounding highlands â€" we've identified 14 different types of volcanic rocks that they chipped into handaxes."

Species or subspecies? Homo erectus remains have been found in parts of Africa, southern Europe and Asia. These hominids made tools and lived in groups, but anthropologists are trying to figure out whether there were separate species or subspecies among the group.

This particular individual will be difficult to classify, Potts said.

"It's really too hard to say what species it is, if you happen to think there were multiple species around at the time. I certainly used to think so," he said.

He has compared the skulls of fossils found from other hominids that lived around the same time, including Homo antecessor from Atapuerca in Spain or Homo cepranensis, from Ceprano, Italy.

"I find the variability in the skulls (and parts of skulls) impossible to divide neatly into separate lineages that stay consistently identifiable over any length of time, like Homo erectus in Asia does," Potts said.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited

Discovery of skull in Africa muddles human evolution


Friday, July 02, 2004

By Anita Srikameswaran, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A small, 1 million-year-old partial skull discovered last year in a Kenyan archaeological site has added fuel to a scientific debate about whether different species of early humans co-existed or only one kind of human lived at any given time.

A team led by Richard Potts, director of the human origins program at the Smithsonian Institution, uncovered the fossil last summer during a dig at Olorgesailie, Kenya.

"What we found was a partial skull of an early human that dated to what is otherwise a 400,000-year gap in the African human fossil record," he said. "This one fossil will not settle the debate as to whether there are multiple [hominid] species or one species."

The findings were published today in the journal Science.

Potts' team discovered parts of the brain case, a complete brow ridge and other fragments from the skull of a fully grown individual, thought to be about the size of a modern-day teen.

No face bones were found, and traces of bite marks on the skull indicate mauling by a carnivore, Potts said. It's not known whether that happened before or after death. The individual would have lived about 930,000 years ago.

Around that time period, "the best-known fossil species in our family tree is that of Homo erectus," Potts said.

Jeffrey Schwartz, a University of Pittsburgh anthropologist, isn't convinced that the new find belongs to the species Homo erectus. His comments were also published today in Science.

Scientists have ignored unique skull features of the species and lumped all hominid fossils into the Homo erectus category because they came from the same era, he said.

Schwartz contends that human evolution did not proceed neatly from one hominid species to another, with one stop at Homo erectus, to get to today's Homo sapiens. Instead, different species may have co-existed with some lineages eventually becoming extinct.

"They may have passed each other on the trail," he said. "Who knows? They may have beat each other up."

There is a lot of variation in what are currently called Homo erectus skulls, Schwartz explained. But his extensive studies of the first fossil to be given that name, the so-called type specimen, and many others indicate to him that only some from two sites in Java belong to the same species.

"There are no other specimens that look like this," he said. "So to me, nothing else is Homo erectus. We can't keep calling these skulls that look so worlds apart the same thing."

And in Schwartz's fossil analysis, Homo erectus couldn't be the ancestor of present-day man. He is now working on reorganizing and renaming the skulls from the Homo erectus period into new categories.

Potts said that the Kenyan skull is similar to Homo erectus specimens, but left open the possibility that it could be something else.

"[Schwartz's] view certainly represents one pole in the whole debate," he said. "One species or many species, I don't know. It's an important question."

But a new species shouldn't be created for every few skulls that share some features, Potts said. Homo erectus has "integrity," as he put it, because its distinct features can be traced through the fossil record for thousands of years. He wondered if some traits developed in species subpopulations because they were isolated for long periods of time.

The Smithsonian team will continue digging for more clues at the Kenya site, which was discovered in 1942 by Mary Leakey.

(Anita Srikameswaran can be reached at anitas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3858.)

Copyright ©1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc.

The latest magic pill: it's made from tap water and costs £11.95 a bottle


By Roya Nikkhah
(Filed: 11/07/2004)

A homeopathic pharmacy is selling tablets of tap water from Birmingham at a cost of up to £11.95 a bottle.

The remedy, which comes in granule and liquid form, is said to combat ailments including thyroid problems, nausea and abdominal pain.

Doctors have expressed scepticism at the treatment but the Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy, which sells the pills at its shops in London and Kent, says that customers have found the tablets helpful for their complaints.

The remedy is made by mixing the tap water with alcohol. The solution is then shaken vigorously to increase the potency of the liquid which is then dropped on to a "carrier" tablet.

Among those who have taken the water pills are Dr Diane Phillips, 43, a former forensic medical examiner for West Midlands Police. She said that the pills helped her to recover from 15 years of ill health caused by chronic thyroid problems. Her symptoms, which included depression, weight gain and exhaustion, had forced her to give up her job and left her housebound in Coventry.

"I had colds that lasted for months and I was so exhausted that it would take me a whole day to load the washing machine," she said.

"I was very sceptical of anything homeopathic, but after taking the remedy for three weeks, I couldn't believe the difference. My head cleared, I felt less tired and experienced a feeling of general well-being for the first time in years."

Dr John Cowan, a GP from London, however, was unconvinced. "This seems like complete and utter nonsense to me," he said. "I cannot believe that Birmingham tap water is significantly different to any other type of tap water.

"The only possible reason that anyone could feel better with this sort of treatment would be a placebo effect caused by the fact that someone is actually taking notice of their illness."

Dr Bob Leckridge, the president of the British Homeopathic Association, was also sceptical. "Birmingham tap water may well contain some beneficial elements, but I would be very wary of buying such remedies over the counter and expecting results," he said.

Dr Sheila Gibson, who runs a homeopathic practice in Glasgow, said that the tablets could be used as a remedy because water from Birmingham had a high fluoride content.

She said that she often used it to treat patients suffering from chronic fluoride poisoning, which can lead to symptoms including thyroid complaints, dental problems and brittle bone disease.

"Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of treating like with like," she said. "You take a toxic substance and dilute it, which once ingested, neutralises the toxic substance causing the damage."

Dr Gibson said that she had also recently used the remedy to treat students at Warwick University whom she suspected of suffering from fluoride poisoning.

Tap water in Birmingham is pumped in from the Elan Valley in mid-Wales by Severn Trent. A spokesman for Severn Trent said: "Birmingham tap water is the best quality in Britain and is available to all our customers. We are not surprised that people in other parts of the country are envious of its quality and are trying to cash in.

"Fortunately for Midlands residents, they can enjoy the benefits of drinking tap water at only 0.008p per litre and do not need to buy these tablets."

Although tap water from Birmingham might seem like a strange remedy for medical conditions, it is by no means the most unusual. A form of homeopathy known as "imponderability" consists of treatments "made" from non-molecular substances such as light and energy waves.

One such remedy, called "magnetic pole south", is prepared using the waves emitted from a magnet. The magnet is held against a vial of alcohol and succussed: the resulting solution is said to be effective in the treatment of ingrown toenails.

Roger Hadden, the general manager of the Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy, said that he was pleased that the tap water tablets were helping some of his customers.

"We always like to hear of customers who find beneficial results from our products. However, we do not make any specific claims for the Birmingham tap water as any homeopathic remedies that we sell cannot be clinically trialled like standard medication, and the effects depend very much on an individual's physical symptoms and emotional state."

Homeopathy is used by a fifth of Britons, even though clinical trials repeatedly show that it does not work. Last year the British Medical Journal reported that evening primrose oil - until recently available on the NHS to treat eczema - does not help at all.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

muse@nature.com: The Tyranny of Design



Published online: 07 July 2004; | doi:10.1038/news040705-1

Henry Gee

How could sophisticated mechanisms such as the flagellar motor or the adaptive immune system have evolved without some guiding hand? Henry Gee finds his answer to the argument of Intelligent Design in the lamprey.

We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as peaks of perfection, and the arrangements of more "primitive" creatures as similar to our own, only cruder. It's a nice idea. Until along comes the sea lamprey to challenge our preconceptions.

Researchers have found that the lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) has a has a sophisticated system of adaptive immunity, that is entirely different to our own. Many organisms have a kind of natural immunity, but the adaptive immunity of mammals was supposed to be something special. By dint of a kind of controlled chaos, specialized parts of our genomes rearrange themselves to produce antibodies, custom-built proteins that are then selected to target any kind of foreign molecule the world can throw at us.

One of the great mysteries of immunology is how and when this remarkable system originated. For many years, immunologists looked for its beginnings in lampreys, sucker-mouthed creatures that represent the earliest flourish of vertebrate evolution more than 500 million years ago. Lacking jaws and paired fins, lampreys are almost as primitive as a vertebrate can get. They seem to have adaptive immunity, but scientists haven't found even a glimmer of any antibodies.

The discovery, reported by Max Cooper and colleagues in Nature this week, that lampreys have developed a perfectly respectable adaptive immune system all by themselves shows that the problem lies not with evolution itself but more with the way we think about it. Alas, we humans do not represent the pinnacle of design to which all other species aspire. Collins' work shows us, once again, that evolution experiments with various solutions to life's problems, only some of which stay the course. There never was only one system of adaptive immunity: thanks to the lamprey we now know that there were at least two, and possibly many more, now extinct, or remaining to be discovered.

Intelligent design?

The fact that the work seems so surprising exposes another, more dangerous conceit that scientists are prone to. Dangerous, because it leaves science wide open to the temptations of so-called 'Intelligent Design'. Advocates of this view object to evolution by invoking what Richard Dawkins has called the 'Argument from Incredulity' – that is, if I don't believe that something is possible, it cannot happen. Philosopher William Paley in his Natural Theology famously used this argument when he compared the delicate designs of nature with a pocket watch. Pocket watches are not made spontaneously, so if the existence of a functioning, integrated watch implies a watchmaker, then the same must surely apply to a living creature.

More than a century later, proponents of Intelligent Design use the same reasoning when they marvel at the intricate design of, say, a bacterial flagellar motor. How can one ever give credence to the view that the sophisticated mechanism of the flagellar motor could have evolved to such precision without a guiding hand, when the tiniest of changes to its apparently irreducible complexity might render it useless?

I was discussing the problem with two polymathic friends of mine, reproductive biologist Jack Cohen and mathematician Ian Stewart, co-authors of Figments of Reality, Evolving the Alien and The Science of Discworld. They are working on their next book, Appearance of Design (to be published by Penguin next year) and Cohen sent me a draft chapter containing a devastating response to the challenge of Intelligent Design. It arrived on my desk at about the time that the work on the lamprey immune system was making waves in the Nature office, so it struck a particular chord with me.

Cohen argues that the fallacy in the Intelligent-Design argument about the flagellar motor (or any other system), is that proponents present the motor we see as The Motor, the exemplar, the only one possible, and, what's more the best possible, surely optimized by a Designing Hand. But when Cohen searched the literature, he found that a wide variety of flagellar motors have been described, each arranged in its own way, each its own solution to effective rotary motion in the microworld. There is no such thing as The Motor, no Platonic perfection enforced on bacteria by Divine fiat. Instead we see ad hoc solutions that are not perfect, but idiosyncratic and eclectic – just what you would expect if evolution were working on its own, without a Designer.

Smug science

But before we as scientists allow ourselves to be too smug, we should consider how our own attitudes are over-welcoming of Intelligent Design. Generations of biologists and medics have gone through school and college being exposed to a parade of 'types'. We learned to dissect The Dogfish, The Frog, The Rat, as if each one was the only possible example of its kind. Diversity falls as an easy casualty of efficient learning, and grand generalizations of evolution are extrapolated from The Fly, The Worm, The Mouse and The Zebra-Fish.

Granted, this does make things simpler. But the unthinking adoption of this idea by many scientists gives the Intelligent-Design school an easy target and is the reason why concepts such as The Bacterial Flagellar Motor are not immediately laughed off stage.

The only way to gain a realistic understanding of how life works is to give students hands-on experience of the diversity that exists. I was lucky – at school I trawled the countryside for natural history specimens, rocks and fossils, while at college I had hands-on experience of the outsides (and insides) of all kinds of exotica. But the triple tyranny of risk assessment, cost and politically-correct squeamishness has now seen off such activities for all but a few.

I believe that unless biologists have dissected real animals or experienced natural diversity for themselves, they are not worthy of the name. It was this same exposure that sowed the seeds of evolution in the mind of the young Darwin, turning him away from the theoretical, typological views of German Naturphilosophie that resonate still in those who argue for the presence of a designing hand. The artificial environment of the lab rat is as rarefied as the thoughts of Plato and Aristotle, the philosophy from which this idea derives. It no coincidence that it is in these very environments that Intelligent Design finds its most willing converts.


1.Pancer Z. et al. Nature, 430, 174 - 180, (2004).

Nepalis fear disaster as diety 'sweats' once again


Saturday July 10 2004 00:10 IST

KATHMANDU: Nepal is in a cold sweat -- because the statue of a deity in the central part of the country is said to have "perspired" last month just as it has done before on the eve of national calamities.

According to local belief, the statue of Bhimsen in the Maoist stronghold of Dolakha in central Nepal breaks out in sweat just before something disastrous happens in the country.

When it "perspired" in 2001, a massacre wiped out the royal family in the palace at Kathmandu.

In 1989 and 1934, a sweating Bhimsen heralded two devastating earthquakes.

The deaths of two kings -- that of the present king's father Mahendra in 1970 and the passing away of King Tribhuvan in 1953 -- are also said to have occurred after the idol "sweated".

According to tradition, the country undergoes an upheaval within six months of the phenomenon.

This year the deity is said to have sweated on June 22 and 23, a spectacle that is now bringing villagers in droves to offer penance.

The palace priest himself is said to have come to the Bhimeshwor temple in Dolakha to offer a 'kshama puja', or a worship for forgiveness, to appease the deity.

And this year, Nepal has plenty to fear.

After a drought-like situation due to the delayed monsoon, it is now facing the possibility of floods with four people already being killed and highways being blocked by rainwater.

Each monsoon thousands are displaced and infrastructure worth millions destroyed.

Things don't look too bright on the political front either.

Though newly appointed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been able to rope in three opposition parties to join his government, Maoists are on a rampage.

They have said they do not recognise Deuba's government. In the one month that he has been in power, the insurgents have launched at least three offensives against security forces, besides gunning down four government officials.

Then King Gyanendra turned 58 on Wednesday, an event though celebrated nationwide is also cause for concern since previous kings of Nepal have died young.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal sets great store by superstitions and rites.

Though he ascended the throne in 2001, the king is yet to be crowned because there has been no auspicious date. Every year, thousands of animals are sacrificed at temples to propitiate the local gods.

Any questions?


(Filed: 08/07/2004)

John Clare answers your queries on university decisions and Church of Scientology

What is one to make of university league tables? I'm thinking of applying to Newcastle, which comes 18th in the Times, but 57th in the Guardian.

That is a relatively minor discrepancy. Middlesex, an academically undistinguished institution, comes 84th in the Times but soars to 19th in the Guardian, while Lancaster, which is academically respectable and comes 24th in the Times, sinks to 52nd in the Guardian.

On average, there is a gap of 25 places between more than half the universities in the two tables. Yet both newspapers claim to have based their calculations on official data covering teaching quality, entry qualifications, spending per student, student-staff ratios and graduate destinations.

To that, the Times adds measures of research and "efficiency" and the Guardian "value added" and "inclusiveness".

The truth is that universities, with the Government's connivance, have succeeded in denying students the information they need, and left newspapers floundering. The only reliable and relevant facts available relate to the quality of a university's research and the entry standards it sets, both of which need to be considered department by department.

The first is on the internet at www.hero.ac.uk/rae/. The best source of the second is Degree Course Offers by Brian Heap. It is published by Trotman (www.trotman.co.uk) and costs £26.99.

My daughter achieved 11 A*s and As at GCSE and is taking AS-levels in maths, chemistry, biology and business studies. But she still doesn't know what to study at university - currently, she's considering forensic science with criminology - and feels under pressure from school to decide. It would be such a waste if she didn't go. I'd like to help, but she won't discuss it. Any advice?

There is no reason why your daughter should go straight from school to university, and every reason for her not to go if she does not know what to study and why. It will very likely lead down a blind alley, of which forensic science is a good example. The numbers studying it are largely a reflection of young people's television viewing habits, notably Cracker and Silent Witness.

You could have her psychometrically tested: intelligently interpreted, the results can point to appropriate but unexpected careers. See www.careeranalysts.co.uk (tel: 020 7935 5452), or www.career-psychology.com (tel: 020 7976 1010). But your most important task is to reassure her that she is not required to decide the course of the rest of her life.

Pupils at my daughter's school are being invited to sign an anti-drugs pledge as part of a campaign called "Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life". I approve of the message but the sponsor is the "UK Church of Scientology". Isn't that a rather questionable outfit?

It is certainly controversial, and I am surprised the school has allowed itself to be involved. Scientology claims to be a religion but is, in reality, a cult centred on L Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, now deceased. Intensive recruiting is one of its specialities.

E-mail john.clare@telegraph.co.uk

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

New inner-city schools


Editorial Comment
July 09 2004

Evolution is the key to raising education standards

Innovation, innovation, innovation. Tony Blair appears to have discovered a new catchphrase for his educational policy. But should Scotland be following? As The Herald reveals today, there are plans to allow the private sector to invest in state schools in a drive to tackle underachievement.

This is not a tartan version of English city academies, which face massive expansion. Both involve some private funding but while city academies exist independently of local education authorities, their Scottish cousins will not.

For some time Scottish education minister Peter Peacock has been talking to prominent Scots entrepreneurs about involving them in innovation in Scottish education. Scotland shares a problem Mr Blair describes as "entrenched three-tierism" in education: "excellence for a minority, mediocrity for the majority, outright failure at the bottom." In England, 5.5% of pupils leave school with no qualifications. The latest figure in Scotland is 5.4%. Among Scottish pupils eligible for free school meals the figure is 13% and, among children in local authority care, it is a staggering 75%.

Many of these young people are merely the latest in generations of academic failures. Their children will follow them into a life blighted by illiteracy and innumeracy unless we can come up with radically different ways of educating them. To those who argue that pupils should not be human guinea-pigs, the answer must be that these children can hardly fare worse than under the current system. How-ever, evolution, not revolution, should be the watchword for educational reform. Yesterday Education Secretary Charles Clarke announced that city academies in England were to be expanded from the current 12 to 200. This is a risky move for a government that claims to believe in evidence-based policy. Though city academies have proved popular with parents – as shiny new schools tend to be – there is little evidence that they are raising standards in inner-city areas, where previous schools had failed. Some city academies have had a bumpy ride: Emmanuel City College in Gateshead, run by Sir Peter Vardy, an evangelical Christian, was enmeshed in controversy when it was accused of teaching creationism.

In Scotland, we should proceed with caution, testing innovation and perhaps even piloting a Scottish model of the city academy, then take time to assess what they achieve. The primary function of such a model should be not to act as a template for a subsequent generation of academies, as in England, but to function as a test bed for ideas that could ultimately be extended to all schools.

This would chime with first minister Jack McConnell's recent pronouncements, calling for more vocational opportunities within schools to increase options for non-academic pupils and create more diversity in the way education is delivered to all pupils. It is right to seek to eradicate the chronic underperformance of pupils in some schools but pupils in all Scottish schools should eventually reap the benefit.

Friday, July 09, 2004

J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Dec;9(6):919-36. Related Articles, Links


Extended Network Generalized Entanglement Theory: therapeutic mechanisms, empirical predictions, and investigations.

Hyland ME.

Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, UK. mhyland@plymouth.ac.uk

Extended Network Generalized Entanglement Theory (Entanglement Theory for short) combines two earlier theories based on complexity theory and quantum mechanics. The theory's assumptions are: the body is a complex, self-organizing system (the extended network) that self-organizes so as to achieve genetically defined patterns (where patterns include morphologic as well as lifestyle patterns). These pattern-specifying genes require feedback that is provided by generalized quantum entanglement. Additionally, generalized entanglement has evolved as a form of communication between people (and animals) and can be used in healing. Entanglement Theory suggests that several processes are involved in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Direct subtle therapy creates network change either through lifestyle management, some manual therapies, and psychologically mediated effects of therapy. Indirect subtle therapy is a process of entanglement with other people or physical entities (e.g., remedies, healing sites). Both types of subtle therapy create two kinds of information within the network--either that the network is more disregulated than it is and the network then compensates for this error, or as a guide for network change leading to healing. Most CAM therapies involve a combination of indirect and direct therapies, making empirical evaluation complex. Empirical predictions from this theory are contrasted with those from two other possible mechanisms of healing: (1) psychologic processes and (2) mechanisms involving electromagnetic influence between people (biofield/energy medicine). Topics for empirical study include a hyperfast communication system, the phenomenology of entanglement, predictors of outcome in naturally occurring clinical settings, and the importance of therapist and patient characteristics to outcome.

Publication Types:
Review, Tutorial

PMID: 14736363 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The Next Great Turning


A growing awareness of our interconnections could revolutionize our culture

by Robert Gilman

One of the articles in Exploring Our Interconnectedness (IC#34) Winter 1993, Page 11 Copyright (c)1993, 1996 by Context Institute

Interconnectedness is an idea whose time is coming. Like sustainability, the momentum of history is gathering around it.

What do I mean by interconnectedness, and why is it important? In this issue, we're using the term to refer to the various ways each of us is part of an on-going exchange of material and information with the world around us. It means recognizing that we - like all of Earth's life - depend on the same atmosphere and the same water; that we - like all of the physical universe - are inescapably linked at a quantum mechanical level; and even that we are more closely linked mentally than we usually acknowledge.

If we are interconnected in these ways, then our full self extends beyond the boundaries of our skin. In a culture based on a deep understanding of such interconnectedness, individuals would be as loathe to hurt their neighbor, or the ecosystem, as we are now loathe to stub our toe. Behaviors and institutions for the common good that now are maintained through the dubious means of moral persuasion, guilt, and (at times) force would become self-evident and natural. It is just the sort of thing that this suffering planet needs its humans to wake up to.

Philosophically, interconnectedness stands in opposition to separateness - the idea that we are each isolated, sovereign, and self-contained. Since most of the distinctive institutions of western civilization - materialistic science, market economics, our legal system, the Bill of Rights - are based on the assumption that the world is composed of discrete units, the idea of interconnectedness rattles the foundations of our whole society.

It is not surprising, then, that our society has generally denied or ignored evidence for interconnectedness. Nevertheless, that evidence has been growing in many disciplines throughout the 20th century. Moreover, while a world view based on separateness may have served us well in the past, it is flunking the test of this crucial period at the turn of the millennium. Increasingly, many are finding that an interconnected world view has more to offer.

If this momentum keeps building, our society will face a major challenge in coming to grips with this new world view. What shall we do if the "great truth" of separateness fails us? Do we simply abandon it, or do we look for a larger truth that can encompass the remaining value of separateness while transcending its limitations?

An example of moving to a larger truth while retaining useful elements of the old can be found in the transition, in the beginning of the 20th century, from Newtonian physics to quantum and relativistic physics. Although it became clear that Newtonian physics does not provide an accurate view of reality, its tools continue to function as a useful approximation for many activities, such as building bridges.

This transition also provides an especially helpful metaphor in the way it changed our ideas about "particle" and "wave."


In Newtonian physics, particles - like billiard balls - were seen as hard, individual objects, specific to a particular space and time. On the other hand waves - such as ocean waves or sound waves - were spread through space and time, blending and interpenetrating with each other. The two, particles and waves, were seen as completely different concepts.

This common-sense notion got turned on it head by quantum physics, which developed at the beginning of this century to account for the behavior of atoms and light. What was found then - and has since been confirmed by almost a century's worth of experimentation - is that the basic building blocks of the physical world (such as atoms, electrons, protons, light) behave in some situations like waves and in other situations like particles. The inescapable result is that in some mysterious way, they are both.

Might we humans also, in some mysterious way, have both particle-like individuality and a wave-like shared beingness and interconnectedness? Western cultures have emphasized the particle-like side; other cultures have emphasized the wave-like side. The appropriate synthesis may encompasses both.

To explore this synthesis, those of us from the West first need to stretch our ability to understand our more wave-like, interconnected qualities. The goal in doing so is not to swing the pendulum; rather it is to broaden our understanding to a broader, more encompassing, and hopefully more mature level of self knowledge.


To help with this exploration, I'd like to briefly review a few of the more philosophically significant ways that, according to the best scientific evidence available, we are interconnected both at a physical level and at the level of consciousness.

The Physics Of Interconnectedness * As a former astrophysicist, I can't resist beginning with the big picture. One of the most remarkable things astronomers have found as they have looked ever farther out in space (and thus also further back in time) is that the laws of physics that apply here on earth also apply, as far as we can tell, everywhere else we have looked. There is no "diversity of physics" across the universe in the way that there is a diversity of human cultures around the world.

In the micro-world of quantum physics, the most dramatic demonstration of interconnectedness is described by Bell's theorem. In 1964, John Bell showed that quantum theory predicted that any two particles that originated from a single source (such as two electrons born out of an energetic collision), would later behave as if they maintained some kind of on-going non-local connection. This connection can be revealed by measuring some property of each particle, such as the spin of each electron. It is instantaneous and unaffected by time or distance. According to Bell, these measurements should be more highly correlated than if the two particles were truly separate. Many experiments have now confirmed Bell's prediction.

The implications of this are profound, since all matter comes from essentially a single source - the Big Bang. Thus Bell's theorem implies, at a quantum level, that the physical world is an inseparable whole. The old Newtonian idea that world is made up of separate objects that occasionally collide, but otherwise lead independent existences, turns out to be only a convenient approximation, applicable in only some situations.

The Interconnection of Consciousness * The physical interconnectedness I've just been describing has two characteristics: it's based on widely accepted science and it doesn't touch our core sense of individuality. When we look at interconnectedness at the level of consciousness, both these characteristics change.

For many decades parapsychologists have studied the various ways that one person's mind might influence another person's mind, or influence physical objects or events, without the aid of normal communications. Most of these studies have concluded that there is some form of interconnection, but because of the profound philosophical and social implications of this result, the overall scientific community has resisted accepting the conclusions of these studies.

In response, the parapsychologists have kept refining their experiments and accumulating evidence that is harder and harder to refute. My own sense is that if this were any other topic, the available scientific evidence would have settled the question by now.

What is that evidence? One standard experimental setup involves placing two people, a "sender" and a "receiver," in two separate rooms, where each room is shielded for sound, light, and electro-magnetic radiation. Once placed in these rooms, the sender then focuses his or her attention on a randomly selected item, and the receiver, in some way, responds. The experiments are designed to measure and test the accuracy of these responses, looking to see if they could be explained purely by chance.

A good example is reported by Honorton et al. in the June 1990 issue of the Journal of Parapsychology . In their experiment, the sender views a randomly selected picture (either moving or still), and the receiver then chooses, among four pictures (the one viewed by the sender plus three randomly selected decoys), the one that most closely matches what the receiver sensed.

This experiment incorporates an important procedure. The receiver is put into a state of mild sensory deprivation, called ganzfeld, through reclining comfortably, listening to white noise, and viewing, through translucent eye covers, a uniform red light. This procedure generally induces drowsiness, vivid imagery, and a sense of disconnection from the immediate sensory environment. These characteristics have been found to improve the sensitivity of the receiver.

The full experimental series involved 241 participants in 355 sessions. The overall success rate was 34 percent, significantly better than the 25 percent that would result by chance. The success rate for moving images alone was even higher, at 40 percent.

These results are typical of well-done experiments of this type in that they show 1) a statistically significant positive result (suggesting there is a real phenomenon), and 2) a success rate that is far from 100 percent (suggesting the receiver is influenced by more than the sender).

Another similar series of experiments has tested the ability of the sender to affect the physiological activity of the receiver - biofeedback at a distance - thus bypassing the need for reportage or interpretation by the receiver. For example, the receiver's blood pressure is automatically recorded during a 20-minute session. At randomly selected times during that period, the sender attempts to raise (or lower) the receiver's blood pressure, while at other times avoiding any such attempt. The results are positive and statistically significant at a level similar to those for the imagery experiment described above.

Can we also, through conscious intention, affect physical objects? Here again, the answer appears to be yes. The best experimental studies involve effects on otherwise random events. A typical setup has a human sender attempt to influence the output of an electronic random number generator. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory at Princeton University has been doing experiments of this type for more than a decade. Their procedure has the sender alternate between attempting to get the random number generator to give a higher-than-chance result, a lower-than-chance result, and then not influencing the machine at all. The resulting deviations are small, less than 1 percent on average, but still statistically significant. These positive results are unaffected by the construction details of the random number generator or by the distance between the sender and the machine, up to thousands of miles.

Are these results genuine? The best that one can say about any set of experiments is that they are well-designed by current standards and that others have replicated their results. The Princeton experiments pass both of these tests.

Taken together with many other well-done experiments, all these results strongly suggest that as humans:

We can mentally influence - and are influenced by - the thoughts of others.

We can mentally influence biological processes in bodies other than our own.

We can mentally influence the functioning of non-biological systems.

How do we do it? There are dozens of rival explanations, some modern and some thousands of years old, but as yet there is no generally established theory, even among parapsychologists.

One thing is getting clearer, however. Certain psychological conditions are more conducive than others to gaining access to this kind of interconnection, as the use of the ganzfeld procedure described above suggests. William Braud, the parapsychologist who did the blood-pressure experiment, describes the five simple yet powerful mental techniques that he has found to be most effective as follows: relaxation and quietude; focused attention; imagery and visualization; confident yet effortless intentionality; and self-evoked positive emotions.


The suggestion that we are mentally interconnected in these ways raises passionate objections from many in the sciences, and from many others as well. If the experimental results are accurate, these objections will eventually need to be addressed. Even if the results are not accurate, the passion of the objections provides an interesting window on our culture's attachment to individualism and separateness. In either case, we have a lot to learn from exploring the roots of these objections.

To understand these roots, I find it helpful to go back to the cultural context surrounding the birth of western natural science in the 17th century. In the previous centuries, the simple world of the Middle Ages was progressively being replaced by a more diverse and contentious world. The Crusades (11th to 14th centuries) and the Age of Exploration (15th and 16th centuries) had opened Europe to a larger world and brought it into violent conflict with other religions. The Black Death (14th century), in which perhaps as much as half of the population of Europe died, had shaken popular faith and traumatized the society. The Roman Catholic Church's Inquisition, started in the 13th century and still in full swing during the 17th century, was responsible for the death of millions accused of heresy and witchcraft. The Renaissance (14th to 16th centuries) had raised the level of education, reintroduced Greek and Roman literature to Europe, and encouraged individual expression and achievement - further threatening the status quo. The Reformation (16th century) broke the monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church and increased concerns about heresy.

In this context, there were those who wanted to develop science out of the more wholistic and organic worldview of the earlier Middle Ages, but they lost out to those like Francis Bacon (who lived from 1561 to 1626) and René Descartes (1596 to 1650) who argued for a mechanistic and atomized approach. The mechanistic approach had two significant advantages:

It simplified the development of practical results. More than anyone could have initially imagined, there were a vast number of practical problems that could be addressed with this strategy. Newton's (1643 to 1727) formulation of general laws of motion and gravitation within this mechanistic framework cemented it success.

It minimized, as much as possible, any spiritual implications and was thus best able to avoid persecution for heresy. Not that these early scientist avoided persecution entirely, but they survived much better than their competitors with a more mystical bent.

The dangerous and often bitter struggle of these early scientists with the Church and with other philosophic schools left a profound impact on their successors. To this day, even though the historical justifications are long gone, those who enter the sub-culture of science soon learn that nothing is so damaging to one's credibility as the accusation that one is interpreting phenomena in anything other than mechanistic terms, especially in any way that might be construed as giving consciousness a significant role in the dynamics of the natural world. Quantum physics has forced some physicists to break with this taboo, but most of those in the biological, psychological, and social sciences still keep the faith.

There are a number of additional reasons why many people - not only those from the sciences - resist the idea that our minds might have the capabilities described above:

There is a long and well-publicized history of people using the claim of these capabilities in manipulative and fraudulent ways (including those claiming to be mind readers, channelers, spiritual teachers, and others). This guilt by association produces understandable reluctance to be taken in. The irony is that discouraging legitimate research and development of these capabilities makes these phenomena more easily subject to abuse.

Accepting these capabilities would entail accepting such things as imagery and intuition as valid channels for information about the larger world. In effect, we would be adding the mind as a legitimate sense along side vision, hearing, etc. Since knowledge is power, and since people vary considerably in their current facility for using the mind in this way, such an acceptance would significantly rearrange the power relationship throughout the society.

The personality skills that are helpful in developing these capabilities (quietude, visualization, confident yet effortless intentionality, etc.) run counter to the skills (striving, verbal and analytic thinking, etc.) that our society encourages as the route to success. Those who have invested heavily in the traditional route, and perhaps along the way learned to suppress the other skills, are understandably loathe to see the primacy of their strengths challenged.

Wrapped up in all this are issues of gender relations. Regardless of how accurate the associations may be, our culture has for centuries described the more effortful, analytic, and mechanical approach as masculine, and the more intuitive, receptive, and organic approach as feminine. Any affirmation of the value of the more "feminine" approach would have reverberations throughout the culture.

These capabilities raise concerns about the loss of privacy and even identity in a world where minds are open to each other. Many feel it is better to keep the social contract that denies this openness - even if it is real - than to face it directly.

Even those who accept these phenomena as real may - in light of what has happened with modern technology - fear that intentional development of these capabilities could lead to more harm than good.

Looking over this list of objections, I'm struck by the way that some of the most powerful resistance to an even-handed assessment of our interconnectedness has been weakened by on-going cultural trends:

The authority of materialist science has been diminished by such things as the pervasive environmental damage and the threats from toxics and radioactivity that the public associates with this kind of science.

Mental skills like intuition and visualization are increasingly seen as useful and legitimate, even within business settings.

Anti-feminine attitudes are now more quickly recognized as such, and the social support for them has been considerably diminished.

The combination of these trends with the steady improvement in the quality and breadth of empirical evidence for interconnectedness is what leads me to say that the momentum of history is gathering toward a major shift in public and official attitudes towards all the aspects of interconnectedness described above. Of course, history is full of surprises, and something may happen to change these trends, but if they keep going as they have been for the past few decades, I would expect this shift in attitude to become apparent in this decade, perhaps even in the next few years, just as the shift in attitude towards issues of sustainability has become apparent in the past four years.

Many will simply cheer such a shift. I share some of that sentiment, yet my reaction is more complex, for I share or sympathize with some of the concerns listed above as well. If this shift is to be as graceful and positive as possible, these concerns need to be addressed, and, given the momentum building towards this shift, it is none too soon to start actively addressing them.

Here is what I propose:

Woven through many of these concerns is a sense of conflict between the concepts of interconnectedness and individuality (and especially between the proponents of these two!). Yet in practice they function much more as complements. The particle-wave metaphor can be fruitfully used to emphasize this complementarity.

Underlying many of these concerns is a simple fear of the unknown. We need to familiarize ourselves with the reality of interconnectedness, rather than reacting to its caricatures. Among other things, this means 1) raising our awareness of our physical and biological interconnectedness (see "Common As Dirt" and "Microbal Microcosm"), 2) learning how cultures that are much more comfortable with interconnectedness have dealt with those things that concern us (see "World As Lover; World As Self" and "Remembering Our Purpose"), and 3) learning from those pioneers of interconnectedness within our own culture who are working on a balanced integration of it in their own lives (see pages "Between Order and Chaos" and "The Song").

There are ways in which concerns about the kind of interconnectedness described here are, in effect, stand-ins for concerns about maintaining our own identity and dignity. Our fears around identity and dignity fuel conflicts between religions, cultures, ethnic groups, and the genders. Easing these conflicts will have the additional benefit of making it easier to deal with interconnectedness in a balanced way (see "A Chance for Peace", "Essential Peacemaking, Women and Men", "Planetary Networking for Kids", "Hip-Hoppers & Do-Gooders", and "Sharing Strength").

We need to begin the work of reframing our sense of self so that it can be more inclusive without losing the values of particulate individuality (see "Awakening the Ecological Unconscious").


Braud, William G. "Human Interconnectedness: Research Indications." ReVision, Winter 1992: 140-148.

Harman, Willis W. A Re-examination of the Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Sausalitio: Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1991.

Honorton, Charles, et. al. "Psi Communications In The Ganzfeld." Journal of Parapsychology, June 1990: 99-137.

Peet, F. David. Einstein's Moon: Bell's Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality. Chicago: Contemporary Book, 1990.

Rubic, Beverly, ed. The Interrelationship Between Mind and Matter. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1992.

All contents copyright (c)1993, 1996 by Context Institute

Last Updated 29 June 2000.

URL: http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC34/Gilman.htm

Overmatching the Gods


By Glenn Harlan Reynolds Published 05/19/2004

"Against stupidity," Friedrich Schiller wrote, "the very gods themselves contend in vain."

The world is full of examples of this phenomenon, but today I'm going to mention just one: the wave of anti-vaccination sentiment that has led to the reappearance of pertussis, a disease that once seemed old-fashioned, but that now, thanks to stupidity (and a helping hand from avarice), is back in style.

Pertussis, also known as "whooping cough," was nearly eliminated by vaccination. Now it's back, and we see numerous reports like this:

OMAHA, Neb. -- An Omaha mother says her baby died from an illness many thought modern medicine had conquered. Baby Immanuel died May 11 of pertussis, better known as whooping cough. He was not yet 1 month old.

Or this:

Public health officials today continued trying to find people who might have come into contact with students at two Columbia schools who have contracted whooping cough.

One student each at Grant Elementary School and Smithton Middle School have been diagnosed with the highly contagious bacterial disease that's indicated by severe coughing, the health department said.

Or this:

State officials are asking doctors to be alert for cases of pertussis, which is on the rise in southeastern Wisconsin and caused a big outbreak in Fond du Lac County last year.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is ahead of last year's pace in the city and county of Milwaukee.. . . "We're not seeing epidemic, but the trend is increasing numbers of cases since the first of the year," said Paul Biedrzycki, the Milwaukee Health Department's manager of disease control and prevention.

Or, for that matter, this:

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - About 15 students in Bellingham, Wash., have come down with whooping cough - a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes severe episodes - in the past month.

All of these stories appeared during the past week. Why is whooping cough back? The main reason is that fewer people are getting vaccinated. And when that happens, not only are those people themselves at risk, but so are others -- like the infant in the first example, who was too young to be vaccinated, and who was likely exposed by someone who had not had the vaccine.

But why are fewer people getting vaccinated? After all, as this report by William Hoyt notes, it's a pretty rotten disease, and it can be deadly:

Neither the common nor the Latin name give any indication that the hacking cough and haunting whoop are often followed by vomiting. Nor does either name indicate that this distressing paroxysmal phase can last up to four weeks, and that this phase, in which the victim most clearly needs constant assistance, cruelly is also the phase in which this deadly disease is the most highly contagious. Since highly and deadly are relative terms, I should tell you that pertussis infections occur in 70 to 100 percent of all unimmunized household contacts that have been exposed to an infected person (CDNANZ 1997). In 1931, before immunization, pertussis was responsible for 1.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales (Research Defence Society 1999).

It's not the Bubonic Plague, but it's nothing you want. So what gives? Why did people abandon the vaccine?

The short answer is media hysteria and alternative-health shysterism. As Hoyt reports, dubious studies were seized on by anti-vaccination activists (described by Hoyt as "religious groups whose opposition was based on religious or moral grounds. . . [and] followers and practitioners of homeopathy, chiropractic, and natural and alternative medicine.") Those groups discouraged vaccination with scare stories, and the media picked up isolated cases of vaccine side-effects and -- by drawing a lot of attention to them, while paying little or no attention to the vaccine's benefits -- left people more afraid of the vaccine than the disease.

The result is that large numbers of people -- mostly children -- who might have stayed healthy have instead sickened and sometimes died. This is because some people were crazed, or dishonest, or hysterical, and others were stupid enough to believe them. (And it's not just in America and the West, or with whooping cough: Africa is facing a resurgence of polio as Islamic leaders encourage a boycott based on conspiracy theories.)

But there's plenty of blame for stupidity to go around, because in our world peddling quackery and scare stories is far safer than making drugs or vaccines that save lives. Drugmakers get sued for defective products; "activists" and sensational journalists do not.

If I were to start a drug company, and peddle a drug with no more evidence of its safety and efficacy than anti-vaccine activists and their media allies had to peddle their approach, and if as many people were made sick, or killed, as a result, I'd probably be in jail now. So where's the accountability for the people whose bogus claims and hysterical coverage led to this situation? Nowhere in sight. With that sort of an incentive structure, we're lucky that we're not in worse shape. Thank God.

Bringing the body's energy into balance with acupuncture



Glenn Grossman refers to himself as a "resort doctor." And he's not talking about an office in the Poconos. He means "doctor of LAST resort." Grossman laughs with delight at that description.

"After they've been everywhere else and they've done everything else, they finally come in here and look for a treatment that will give them the kinds of results they are looking for," he says. Grossmann is talking about many of the patients who come to see him for acupuncture at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Okemos.

Grossman can afford a little self-deprecating humor because he is convinced that the Traditional Chinese Medicine he practices, of which acupuncture is one form, can deliver the goods.

"The great thing about the Chinese medicine approach is the way you think about the health care situation," he says. "What's the difference between the world today and the world 5,000 years ago? It's the same sun, the same Earth, the same trees. The difference is the way we think about it. Chinese medicine is a very old way of thinking about things — an easy way to communicate between the patient and the doctor."

Diagnosis of inclusion

"Chinese medicine is a diagnosis of inclusion," Grossman says. "You say you have something like a cough and a fever, so you go in and in Western medicine, which is a diagnosis of exclusion, they say 'You don't have this, you don't have that, we're ruling out TB, we're ruling out pneumonia, we're ruling out bronchitis.' They start down a list of things they want to rule out.

"Chinese medicine is more the other way. It's not what you DON'T have, it's what you DO have. 'I feel discomfort. I feel cold. I feel hot.' That's generally how people experience their own feeling about being alive. This is all very meaningful in traditional Chinese medicine. That's the language we don't have in Western medicine in terms of the patient-physician relationship."

Grossman also thinks that "you can use acupuncture for pretty much 90 percent of what happens to you during the course of your life — for the health problems that you have during your life. "There are some things where acupuncture wouldn't be the preferred way to treat you initially, but it would help later on," he says.

More and more, out in the world there is agreement for Grossman's point of view. One in 10 adults has had acupuncture in the United States, making it one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine. A recent survey found that more than half of physicians (51 percent) believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture, and 43 percent have referred patients for acupuncture treatment.

The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture for 28 common ailments, and an advisory panel of the National Institutes of Health recognizes acupuncture's suitability for treating many of the same conditions. They include, among others, disorders of the ear, nose and throat; respiratory and gastro-intestinal disorders; neurological and muscular problems; and gynecological issues.

It is also reported that acupuncture is now the most commonly researched of all alternative types of medical treatment. "Harvard University is a very big proponent of acupuncture," says Rhonda Struble, Ph.D., who practices acupuncture two days a week at the Creative Wellness Holistic Health Center in East Lansing and has practices in other Michigan localities as well. "Millions of dollars of research are going on there, and they teach it to all the medical students," she adds. "I truly believe it's going to be part of mainstream medicine, just like massage is now."

She quotes Dr. David Eisenberg, the head of Harvard's program to promote Chinese medicine in this country, as saying: "My hope is that when five or 10 universities have sustainable infrastructures for research, education, and responsible patient care in this area, we will forget the term 'alternative' and 'complementary' altogether and simply provide the best available medicine, based on the best available information."

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theories of the flow of energy, known as Qi (the body's life force) and Xue, through channels in our bodies called meridians. Meridians are similar to, but not the same as, the nervous and circulatory systems. Acupuncture literally means "needle piercing," the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin at strategic point along the meridians to bring energy to parts of the body where it is needed and to draw it from places where there is an excess, thereby bringing the body into balance. Finding the appropriate insertion points is based on 2,000 years of mapping by Chinese doctors. Recently the location of these points has been confirmed by electromagnetic research.

Most acupuncturists in America (including the three interviewed for this article) use hair-thin, pre-sterilized, individually packed, single use needles. They can be inserted and withdrawn without causing bleeding. The procedure generally doesn't hurt, but some patients may feel sensations like a small pinch, tingling, heat or a dull ache. The needles are left in approximately 20 to 40 minutes, during which time most people experience a deep sense of relaxation.

"People have a misconception about the needles, because they think of injection-type needles when they think of acupuncture," Struble says. Struble, a chemical engineer in the automobile industry before selling her condo and leaving that life behind to get a degree in Chinese medicine, says she once took a typical blood-draw needle and found that she could get at least 20 of her acupuncture needles inside it. "That gives a person some idea of how tiny, tiny they are," she says.

Like Grossman, Renee J. Hubbs, owner of Integrated Health of Mid-Michigan in Okemos, has also had some experience with "last resort" people. Grossman, Hubbs and Struble, by the way, happily welcome these folks.

Hubbs was one of only eight acupuncturists in Michigan when she brought her practice here in 1990. She says her typical patients have "tried going through the medical model and they still haven't quite had the result they wanted with their particular condition, so at that point they figure, 'Why shouldn't I try this, I have nothing to lose, and maybe I have something to gain.'"

People also use acupuncture as "an adjunct to many mainstream conventional medicine things they're doing," Hubbs says. "We use it for everything from pain management to smoking cessation, allergy elimination, fertility treatment, gastro-intestinal disorders and facial rejuvenation. There's a wide birth of application with acupuncture."

Some of her favorite things to work with are allergies, smoking cessation and infertility. Hubbs has what she calls "a baby wall" in her office where she proudly shows off pictures of children given to her by patients she has helped treat for infertility.

Lately, Hubbs says, she has noticed a definite shift in the type of patient she is treating. Among the eight to 14 patients she may see a day, she is getting some people who are really looking to acupuncture as prevention, "a way of maintaining their health" instead of coming in after there's been a pathological disorder that has needed to be resolved. "That's a real difference I've seen," Hubbs says.

That shift in attitude and action is good news for fellow practitioner Struble. One of her goals, too, is to help people see acupuncture as health maintenance. "Usually people only come in here when they're not well. It's more of a disease-care process than it is health care, and that's something that I would like to change.

"I want people to understand that by keeping their body healthy and fit and keeping the energy flowing properly, they can maintain good health. I think that has a little ways to go yet, but that's coming as well."

Specialized conditions

In addition to the more accepted benefits of acupuncture such as for pain control, Struble says there are some specialized conditions for which acupuncture is "wonderful." These are stroke (the sooner patients come in after the stroke, the better the effect); turning babies who are in the breach position (there's a certain period during which stimulating one little point on the foot will help the baby to turn), Bell's palsy (again if it's soon after the condition arises); menopausal problems and nausea that accompanies pregnancy.

Both Struble and Hubbs are strong proponents of acupuncture treatments with the change of seasons. "The Chinese say that even the healthiest people should have at least four treatments a year, and the best time to do that is at the change of seasons," Struble says.

"That's a concept that Western medicine hasn't stopped to reflect upon very often," Hubbs says. "It would change the face of health care in our country if they did reflect upon it, because that's really the highest order of healing. It's not what you can do after something has happened, but what you can do to stay in health and highest alignment so that you don't come down with anything."

Although Hubbs, Struble and Grossman use acupuncture as the primary treatment, they also offer a number of other methods depending on the needs of their patients. One is herbal medicine.

"Acupuncture tends to work from the outside in, while the Chinese herbs work from the inside out, so for some conditions they form a beautiful tapestry together," Struble says. "For the more internal conditions like depression, infertility, asthma, insomnia and allergies, a person would do very well using both acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Chinese herbs safe alternative

"The nice thing about the herbs is that they have been around for thousands of years — they're tested. We know how to combine the herbs. They've been around so, so long that we know what they're good for and how they work," Struble says. "To me that's comforting. Where a lot of these herbs today and medications are relatively new and we're not sure what's going to happen when you take them, Chinese herbs are a very safe alternative."

Hubbs is equally enthusiastic. "Nutrition has always been a big love of mine," she says. "In some patients, the biochemical pathways might not be fully engaged. I work with stimulating the pathways not only through acupuncture but also with applied clinical nutrition."

Grossman says that it's "kind of an historical accident that we're more interested in acupuncture than we are in Chinese herbal medicine." He tells how acupuncture first became known in America when New York Times correspondent James Reston accompanied President Nixon on his 1972 trip to China.

While in China, Reston had acute appendicitis. Although traditional surgery was performed, he received acupuncture treatments to relieve his post-operative pain. Reston reported immediate and permanent cessation of his discomfort, Grossman says. Reston wrote, "I have seen the past, and it works."

"That became a big deal in the American medical community," Grossman says. "They asked themselves why would sticking a couple of pins into somebody make their pain go away — pain control being a very difficult topic in medicine.

Companies like Pfizer sent film crews to Shanghai to do movies on acupuncture," Grossman says. "They just wanted to know if there was something about acupuncture they could imitate with drugs and make money." Grossman gets another good laugh out of that one.

Although all three acupuncturists predict a bright future for the role of acupuncture in health care, they agree that Michigan, compared to other parts of the United States, is behind the times in accepting acupuncture politically and culturally.

"Michigan is one of the holdouts," Struble maintains. "In most of the country, on the East Coast, the West Coast, California, Florida, Texas, acupuncture is already mainstream. It's covered by insurance, it's done in the hospitals, and it's become part of Western medicine."

Grossman chooses stronger language, calling Michigan "the Wild West" when it comes to thinking about acupuncture. "We're about 20 years behind the rest of the country," he says.

Grossman, who has his acupuncture license from California, says in that state the insurance commission has mandated that all insurances must pay for acupuncture. "So they all pay," he says, "even California's equivalent of our Medicaid program pays for 24 visits a year. "In California I'm considered a primary care physician; in Michigan I'm considered nothing."

Most insurance companies in Michigan do not reimburse for acupuncture treatments, but some are beginning to look at the possibility. Blue Cross Blue Shield, for instance, covers up to a maximum of 20 treatments a year for certain conditions like migraine and osteoarthritis if the acupuncture is performed by or under the supervision of a licensed M.D. or D.O.

No licensure yet

Michigan does not license acupuncturists. "Michigan is only one of six states in the United States that doesn't regulate or license us," says Hubbs. She emphasizes that this leaves the door open for people to come into the state and set up schools or decide to do things that promote acupuncture without having quality standards of practice. "It's a huge issue," she says.

Progress, however, is being made in that arena. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature, which Hubbs says has been favorably received. Primarily pushing the legislation is the Michigan Acupuncture Association of Oriental Medicine, the organization of Michigan's approximately 50 acupuncturists who have been working on a bill for years.

"If the bill doesn't pass this year, it will next," Grossman contends. "Why should we be the last state in the union to get on board? It's just a matter of time. It depends a lot on the economy here — if the economy is still going down the tubes as we get closer to the election, people are not going to be interested in anything. If the economy starts to pick up, they'll be interested."

All Press Releases for May 19, 2004


Update on Health, A Radio Web Show Hosted by Dr. Pieter C. Taams at talknetradio on the World Side Web Every Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific - Codex Alimenatarius Exposed for What it is - Suppresssion of Natural Therapies Exposed

Codes alimentarius is designed to curtail the use of vitamins, minerals, and botanical worldwide. Once accepted by the EU next year, it is mandatory for Countries which want to join the World Health Organization to adopt the Codex Regulations and eradicate alternative Health Care as we know it.

(PRWEB) May 19, 2004 -- Last Thursday Dr. Pieter C. Taams, and Mr. John Hammell of the International Alliance of Health Freedom exposed an insidious attack on Alternative Medicine. Supprising developements have occurred since, which will be followed up on at the show which is scheduled to take place May 20, 2004 at 5 p.m. at talknetradio on the world side web.

The Codex Alimentarius is the means by which "technical barriers to trade" are used as the enforcement document to limit the use of vitamins and minerals not only in the EU countries, but worldwide, since no country is allowed to partake in the Word Trade Organization without adopting the Codex Regulations. The fall of 2005 implies the fall of the Alternative Medical Establishment as matters now stand.

Dr. Taams and his guests Dr. Kelly Farnsworht and Mr. John Hammell will be discussing the extreme global importance of the Aliance for Natural Health lawsuit in Europe. At this time an expose will begiven of the latest conspirary against Alternative Medicine.

Visit Dr. Taams' website and click on the radio archives to hear the latest developments in the battle for Freedom of Health.


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 690 June 30, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein

WHY DO TRANSFORMERS HUM? Scientists in Switzerland have explained, for the first time, the microscopic cause of hum in those massive yokes of iron which help transform AC electricity from one voltage to another. When current reverses 60 times a second the iron core of the transformer undergoes magnetetostriction twice during each cycle. In other words, 120 times per second induced fields cause the core to stretch slightly; a meter-sized transformer might stretch or shrink by only a micron but this would be enough to set up an audible 120-Hz hum. (Earth itself is a magnet. Because of its own magnetic field, Earth's diameter is shrunk by about 10 cm. Turn off the terrestrial field and the Earth would spring back; its surface area would immediately increase by about 10 square kilometers.)

The new experimental work probes theories, going all the way back to Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s, about how the shrinkage arises from the magnetic interactions (spin exchange) among pairs of atoms (dimers), which share a common electron. The two magnetic ions want to be closer together. For studying this effect iron itself is not the best test material and the Swiss scientists (ETH Lab in Zurich and the University of Bern) use another magnetic atom, manganese. Mn is a common ingredient in the magneto-resistance data storage systems found in most disk drives. Normally in a pure crystal, Mn atoms would be arrayed in endless straight lines. But in this experiment the Mn atoms are isolated, two by two, with plenty of intervening magnesium atoms. This allows the researchers to variably "dilute" the magnet interactions between Mn atoms. The strength of these interactions (or to be more precise the energy levels of the excited Mn atoms) is measured by scattering a beam of neutrons from the sample, a process called neutron spectroscopy. The observed microscopic magnetostriction mimics the striction at the macroscopic level, but it does depart considerably from the predictions of the traditional Heisenberg model. (Straessle et al., Physical Review Letters, June 25, 2004; contact Thierry Straessle, Universite P&M Curie, 44-27-38-31, thierry.strassle@pmc.jussieu.fr, 33 44 27 38 81)

FIVE-PHOTON ENTANGLEMENT has been achieved by physicists at the University of Science and Technology in China. Entanglement is perhaps the weirdest of all aspects of quantum behavior. If several particles are entangled, this means that they participate in a single quantum state which can be in several unique states at the same time. Furthermore, the measurable properties of the particles, such as their spins, will be correlated, even if subsequently the particles are located at great distances from each other and the properties measured separately. Previously the greatest degree of full quantum entanglement came in experiments involving four particles. (For the case of four ions held in a trap, see (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2000/split/pnu475-2.htm. ) The Chinese researchers entangle two pairs of photons, and then entangle these with yet another single photon. (Zhao et al., Nature, 1 July 2004.) The progress from four to five entangled particles is significant since apparently the handling of quantum information (such as in a quantum computer) with a built-in error correction process would require the manipulation of five entangled particle engineered to serve as qubits (see, for example, Laflamme et al., Physical Review Letters, 1 July 1996).

THE CASSINI SPACECRAFT ARRIVES TODAY AT SATURN after a 3.5-billion-km, seven year voyage from Earth. For four additional years or longer the craft will loop around the ringed planet and its moons making various measurements. In December 2004 it will deliver a detachable probe, called Huygens, at the moon Titan, where it should descend to the surface. Titan is of great interest to scientists since it is the only moon in the Solar System with an atmosphere of its own. In fact, Cassini will fly past Titan as soon as July 2 and will do so dozens of times thereafter, coming as close as 950 km.. Already Cassini has taken pictures of Titan which, with the help of special filters, reveal bright and dark patches on the moon's surface. (For more Cassini news, see http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html)

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.

Sound healing now resonating


Posted on Thu, Jul. 08, 2004

Methods such as 'toning' therapeutic

By Garret Condon

Hartford Courant

ENFIELD, Conn. – Twenty women and three men were singing, humming and grunting in a darkened room on a recent night in a medical building. Their eyes were closed. Most sat on chairs that formed a circle. Others stretched out on yoga mats. One man in the back went through tai chi movements.

At the head of the circle was Edie Jemiola, who ran a wand around the rims of two large translucent white-quartz bowls at her feet. The result was a crystalline, ringing sound that formed the background for the symphony of sighs and impromptu chants.

The practice of chanting simple, prolonged vowel sounds without formal music is called "toning."

Jemiola's clear voice dominated, but she was not the conductor. Any vocal contribution – from pure notes to coughs – was welcome.

As the bowls sang on, Jemiola asked participants to visualize their problems and pains, to put them in imaginary bubbles and, toward the end of the hourlong session, to imagine those bubbles filled with clear, white light.

This was not a sing-along; it was a "sound healing" session.

"It just gives you a sense of peace and makes you feel that you can help yourself through a lot of emotional and physical issues. It makes you feel that you have that power," said Betty Sanville of Suffield, Conn., who was attending her third session with Jemiola.

Sound healing, or sound therapy, as it is also called, is taking its place among other alternative or complementary medical practices such as ayurvedic medicine (a Hindu form of medicine), herbalism and other less-mainstream health-care practices.

Sound therapy is not the same as music therapy, says Al Bumanis, of the American Musical Therapy Association. In musical therapy, he said, clinical therapists and patients use music to achieve a non-musical goal, such as restoring speech to a stroke victim.

For those who like their health practices to conform to accepted science, sound healing offers relaxation and the many widely accepted, stress-relieving and immune-building qualities of meditative calm. For those who subscribe to a more Asian view of the body as an energy field, the right sound or sounds can rebalance and unblock energy and, by doing so, promote physical, emotional and mental health.

"I believe in the philosophy that we're all made of energy and that sound is energy and that through sound we can heal ourselves," says Glenn Maynard of Enfield, an on-and-off tai chi student for two decades who has attended several programs led by Jemiola.

Jemiola, of Willington, Conn., came to sound healing from her initial training as a Reiki practitioner. Reiki is a synthesis of Asian healing concepts in which a practitioner places his or her hands just above a client's body and uses hand movements to direct and clear the body's energy. Jemiola, who worked in information technology at Hartford Financial Services Group for three decades, became involved with Reiki as she struggled to overcome the death of her 8-year-old son, who was hit by a car while riding his bike in 1988.

As she worked on clients and hospital patients who asked for her help, she said that "sound just started coming out," and she decided to take a course in sound healing.

Some experts in the white-coat world of mainstream medicine have written about research that appears to support the claims of sound therapists. Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, a New York medical oncologist, has described his success using sound therapy with patients and has written about both ancient musical-healing traditions and contemporary studies that suggest various scientific explanations.

But Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and director of integrative medicine at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said there isn't enough evidence to support health claims based on energy waves or vibrations. And the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the federal agency that supports alternative medicine research, is not funding any studies involving sound healing.

"The science is in its infancy," Katz said, but he added that music is known to affect key body indicators, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Don Campbell, a composer, performer and theorist from Boulder, Colo., who has written extensively on the "Mozart effect," said he doesn't subscribe to the idea that a given note or piece of music will produce the same effect in everyone. Music is not a magic potion, he said, but it's still powerful, and he has worked extensively at integrating it into health care.

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