NTS LogoSkeptical News for 6 December 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Monday, December 06, 2004

Woman auctions father's ghost on eBay


HOBART, Indiana (AP) -- A woman's effort to assuage her 6-year-old son's fears of his grandfather's ghost by selling it on eBay has drawn more than 34 bids with a top offer of $78.

Mary Anderson said she placed her father's "ghost" on the online auction site after her son, Collin, said he was afraid the ghost would return someday. Anderson said Collin has avoided going anywhere in the house alone since his grandfather died last year.

In a description titled "This isn't a joke," Anderson told Collin's story on eBay:

"I always thought it was just normal kid fears until a few months ago he told me why he was so scared. He told me 'Grandpa died here, and he was mean. His ghost is still around here!"'

Lest the boy's fears scare off potential bidders, Anderson added, "My dad was the sweetest most caring man you'd ever meet."

Some of the prospective buyers have posted their own messages.

"Your story brought tears to my eyes," one bidder said. "I just wonder how this will turn out for your son. I'm sure his Grandfather loved him very much."

Anderson also put her father's metal walking cane up for auction so she would have something to actually send the winning bidder. The proceeds from the auction will go to buy Collin a special present, she said.

Anderson makes one special request of the winner bidder: "I would like to ask you to write a letter after you've received the cane (and the ghost) to my son letting him know that he's there with you and you're getting along great."

The bidding is due to close Monday afternoon.

A message left with San Jose, California-based eBay Inc. in San Jose, California, was not immediately returned Saturday.

Area man tries to pin down proof of the paranormal

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Express-Times

In September 2003, Christopher Bohar was in Gettysburg trying to capture a ghost's voice on a tape recorder.

Bohar, 20, said he was standing alone in a wheat field where between 2,000 and 3,000 soldiers had died in the Civil War.

He asked if anArea man tries to pin down proof of the paranormaly spirit was there.

He got a response, he said.

When Bohar played back the tape, he heard a voice say the name "Grouszki," which he later learned was the name of a Massachusetts soldier killed in the wheat field during the battle.

The Gettysburg incident was one of several paranormal investigations Bohar has conducted, he said.

Bohar, who lives in Freemansburg, is one of the founding members of the Northampton County Paranormal Research and Investigation Team, a group of amateur paranormal investigators.

He said the group was founded in the late 1990s but didn't really get up and running until 2001. It now has about 25 members and has conducted investigations at private homes and cemeteries, mostly in Lehigh and Northampton counties, he said.

Bohar estimated that 80 percent of their investigations reveal no paranormal activity.

"The mind plays tricks on people," he said.

Bohar said he and the fellow members of his team approach each investigation as "Scully-esque" skeptics, a reference to the female FBI agent on the television show "The X-Files."

The team does not use psychics, he said.

"That's quackery," he said.

His group also does not do exorcisms, he said.

Instead, its members try to document spirit activity using photography.

"We basically investigate the paranormal, but we do it from a more scientific point of view," he said.

Bohar said paranormal investigations are a part-time gig for him.

He said he studied criminal justice at Northampton Community College but did not complete his degree. He recently landed a job at a warehouse, he said.

Bohar said he has always had an interest in the paranormal although he personally has never seen a ghost.

But his mom told him she once saw her deceased grandmother sitting on a bed in his family's former home in Allentown, he said.

Bohar said he has had some ghostly experiences at cemeteries.

One night, he and his friend thought they saw someone moving in front of a mausoleum at Bethlehem Memorial Park Cemetery, but when he zoomed in on the form with his camcorder, it disappeared, he said.

He also said his group has turned up pictures with so-called orbs of light at cemeteries.

Researches are divided on whether these orbs are ghosts or natural phenomenon, such as rain droplets or dust particles, Bohar said.

But James Randi of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said photographs and audio records are not hard, reliable evidence of the paranormal because they can be faked so easily.

Randi, who investigates paranormal claims, has offered $1 million for proof of the paranormal.

He said documenting the paranormal is just as difficult as proving the existence of Santa Claus. "You can watch the chimney all you want, but the fat guy in the red suit is never going to show up," he said.

In the case of paranormal activity and Santa Claus, all supporting evidence is bad, he said.

Randi, who spoke recently at Northampton Community College, said people want to believe in the paranormal because they look for magical solutions to life.

Asked what he would like to tell amateur paranormal investigators, Randi said, "I think there's better ways to spend your time."

Still, Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychology professor at DeSales University, wrote in an e-mail that people who dismiss paranormal activity because of bad evidence mistake "no proof yet as no proof ever."

"That is poor thinking on their part and also poor science. A scientist ought always to be curious and open, even as he or she retains good critical reasoning skills and a skeptical eye," wrote Ramsland, author of "Ghost: Investigating the Other Side."

Ramsland wrote that she thinks paranormal activity may exist, but she does not know it for a fact.

She also wrote that she has heard credible stories, but has also seen a lot of "wishful thinking" and "poor technique" passed off as science.

"The 'evidence' can usually be interpreted in more than one way, but here and there, a story is told or an experience is heard that isn't easily explained by natural causes. So that keeps me interested in pursuing the possibility of paranormal activity myself," Ramsland wrote.

William Cohea Jr. of Upper Mount Bethel Township said he is certain of other energies and spirits among us.

"We make a mistake to think we're here alone and to think we are the chief actors in the drama," he said.

Cohea, a former Presbyterian clergyman and founder of Columcille Megalithic Park, said he has encountered these energies but declined to talk about them.

"I don't care to put that into writing," he said.

Reporter Jeff Schogol can be reached at 610-863-4025 or by e-mail at jschogol@express-times.com.


Group receives dinosaur approval

By Brenna R. Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

PETERSBURG - Dinosaurs may soon be grazing in Boone County.

Answers in Genesis, a religious organization building a creation museum in Boone County, wants to place several metal dinosaur sculptures at its 48-acre complex off Bullitsburg Church Road.

Two dinosaurs would be grazing in an open meadow along Interstate 275. At the front gate, two stegosaurs will sit atop stone pillars.

"They are sculptures," said Patrick Marsh, the museum's design director. "Part of the exhibits we are doing in the museum are dinosaurs. So we thought it would be a nice thing as part of what we want to present."

Because the sculptures are considered signs, the organization had to ask Boone County for a change in zoning.

This week a committee of the Boone County Planning Commission approved the zone change and imposed several conditions. The full Planning Commission and Boone Fiscal Court will also vote on the change.

The two stegosaurs at the entrance will be metal cutouts standing about 7 feet high on top of the pillars. Two dinosaurs, 10 and 15 feet high, along the interstate will be three-dimensional sculptures.

Answers in Genesis officials proposed having the dinosaurs flank a Creation Museum sign, but the Zone Change Committee said the sculptures could not be near the sign, said Kevin Wall, a Boone County planner.

The sculptures will be lit only with low-beam lights.

There also will be an 18-foot globe fountain near the museum's entrance.

The fountain did not need approval.

The 95,000-square-foot museum off Bullitsburg Church Road is expected to cost $25 million and is scheduled to open in spring 2007, said Mark Looy, vice president of Outreach.

Followers of the organization believe in a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, that the Earth's creatures were created by God, not as the result of an evolutionary process.

They believe all land animals, including dinosaurs, were created on the sixth day of creation along with the first humans, Adam and Eve.

The museum will feature dinosaur bones and fossils like those at a natural history museum.

It will also have an 84-seat planetarium, 180-seat special-effects theater and 160-seat classroom.

The planetarium is set to open next summer and the special-effects theater will open later next year, Looy said.

The organization has raised $14 million for the museum, which is being built as donations come in, Looy said.

The organization's 100-person staff moved into a building next to the museum in September.

E-mail bkelly@enquirer.com


Climate Talks Bring Bush's Policy to Fore

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2004; Page A01

In the four years since President Bush took office, scientific sleuths trying to understand the extent of global climate change -- and finger the culprits -- have come up with several important new clues:

• Glaciers in the Antarctic and in Greenland are melting much faster than expected, and the fastest moving glacier in the world has doubled its speed.

• Worldwide, plants are blooming several days earlier than they did a decade ago, and animals are migrating toward cooler climates across the globe.

• The oceans have absorbed extra heat trapped in the atmosphere, which indicates Earth's temperature should rise by another degree Fahrenheit in the coming decades.

The president's scientific and policy advisers on global warming do not dispute these findings, but none of them has persuaded the White House to alter its current climate policy. Rather than endorsing mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions linked to warming, the course embraced by most of America's allies, the White House is focusing on technological fixes: developing energy sources that burn cleaner or finding ways to extract excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

"Our approach is founded on sound science, and on trying to address, with different strategies, climate change," said Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs.

International negotiators are to embark on a new round of climate talks tomorrow as researchers are still struggling with how to measure the effects of global warming and to predict what's in store.

"We're learning fast, but part of what we're learning is the climate system is really complicated. . . . I don't think we'll ever make the kind of prediction Bush would want," said Wallace S. Broecker, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Broecker believes the United States has to act quickly to counter its contribution to global warming. "If we don't pick up the pace, we're not going to get there."

The United States is taking part in the Buenos Aires talks even though the administration opted out of the Kyoto Protocol, which will restrict carbon emissions in most industrialized nations starting in 2008. Dobriansky said U.S. officials will try to convince their counterparts that technological change, not government mandates, offers the best chance to preserve both economic growth and the environment.

As a candidate in 2000, Bush flirted with the idea of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, but he dismissed that option during his first year in office, saying that "given the limits of our knowledge," the nation was better off focusing on voluntary emissions reductions and better energy sources. To that end, the administration has poured nearly $8 billion into climate change research since 2001.

James R. Mahoney, who oversees this research as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said even though researchers have refined computer models, helped design a more sweeping global observation system and improved the world's overall knowledge of global warming, "We continue to be humbled in the limits of our own knowledge. . . . It's a daunting challenge."

But some of the government's own scientists, as well as many independent researchers, reject this assessment. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told a University of Iowa audience in October that the administration is ignoring evidence of "dangerous anthropogenic interference" with the climate. "Anthropogenic" means human-caused, and his phrasing is significant because the United States pledged in 1992, as part of an agreement called the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, to take all necessary steps to combat such interference.

"As the evidence gathers, you would hope they would be flexible," Hansen said of the administration in an interview. "You can't wait another decade" to cut carbon dioxide emissions, he added.

Hansen and other proponents of restricting greenhouse gases point to several recent studies that make the case for immediate action. These include a paper this year showing that ocean heat storage -- which reflects the difference between the energy the earth receives from the sun and the heat it emits back into space -- rose between 1993 and 2003 at a rate that conforms to current climate models. It also indicates that global temperatures will rise by 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next several decades.

Scientists have also refined their understanding of other factors that could accelerate or temper climate change. At one point, researchers thought warming would cause more water to evaporate and form clouds, which cool the atmosphere. They recently discovered this was not the case. They also have begun to grasp the complex role that aerosols -- the fine particles emitted by cars, power plants and other sources -- play. Lighter-colored aerosols, such as car exhaust and power plant pollution, reflect sunlight and have a cooling effect, while darker ones, such as soot, absorb it. Both types of emissions will affect warming in the future, though scientists are still gauging their influence.

Other researchers have documented concrete indications of global warming's effects, such as these: Plants worldwide are blooming an average 5.2 days earlier per decade, according to Stanford University senior fellow Terry L. Root; and the opossum, an animal that confined its range to the South as recently as the Civil War, can now be found as far north as Ontario.

When all these indicators "line up in the same direction, what's the possibility that's all an accident?" asked Stephen H. Schneider, who co-directs Stanford University's Center for Environmental Science and Policy and advocates stricter carbon limits.

But some scientists do question the evidence. John R. Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said that despite a recent study suggesting the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the globe, the hottest years for Arctic temperatures in recorded history are 1937 and 1938, and current Greenland temperatures are not higher than they were 75 years ago. And Myron Ebell, who directs global warming and international environmental policy for the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said some studies cast doubt on a U.N. pronouncement in 2001 that the 20th century was likely the warmest in a millennium.

Christy said, given the economic costs of imposing tighter controls on energy production, "The Bush administration is doing a more reasonable approach, considering that mandating carbon restrictions will have no measurable effect on what the climate will do."

Several senior administration officials said that while they agree that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide contribute to climate change, restricting these emissions right now would cost jobs. Instead, they said, the government should continue to focus its efforts on promoting technologies that will curb pollution. One example is FutureGen, a $1 billion, decade-long power plant project to convert coal into gas and store carbon emissions underground. Bush has also sponsored a $1.7 billion, five-year hydrogen car project aimed at eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

"The U.S. position is maybe the only rational position, to identify and promulgate application of new technologies," said White House science adviser John H. Marburger III. "To do anything meaningful [on limiting greenhouse gas emissions] requires a dramatic cessation or reduction of economic activity. It's simply not practical at the present time."

Advocates of limiting greenhouse gases, however, remain optimistic they will eventually prevail. Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency administrator in Bush's first term, said mandatory carbon dioxide reductions are "going to happen at some point," in part because multinational corporations will demand that U.S. policy mirror European standards.

Larry J. Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said Bush has an opportunity to outline a new climate policy in his second term.

"If President Bush personally sits down with the scientists and hears what has happened since he first came to office, we can work together to make progress on global warming," he said. "The president has an opportunity to leave behind a strong legacy of addressing one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced. He shouldn't squander that opportunity."


Researcher Pulls His Name From Paper on Prayer and Fertility

December 4, 2004

A prominent researcher at Columbia University has pulled his name from a controversial study of prayer's effect on fertility, the university says.

The study, published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 2001, found that women undergoing in vitro fertilization doubled their chances of becoming pregnant when Christian groups prayed for them.

The study immediately brought fierce criticism of the Columbia researcher, Dr. Rogerio Lobo, a fertility specialist whom the paper listed as senior author, from scientists who questioned the way the experiment had been conducted.

Then, this May, one of Dr. Lobo's co-authors, Daniel Wirth, a California lawyer and alternative medicine researcher, pleaded guilty in connection with an unrelated $1.2 million case of business fraud.

In June, the journal pulled the study from its Web site, saying it would perform an internal review of the data. Columbia also began an investigation.

Dr. Lobo said in an interview in September that although he was listed as the paper's senior author, he had acted only as an editorial adviser on it rather than working on the study directly. But he, along with his co-authors - Mr. Wirth, who was sentenced last month to five years in prison, and Dr. Kwang Cha, a Korean fertility specialist - has said he stands behind the study.

Dr. Lobo's decision to withdraw his name from the study was first reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The statement issued by Columbia said, "Dr. Lobo decided to remove his name in order to more accurately represent his role in the study": providing only stylistic and editorial guidance.

Dr. Lawrence Devoe, editor in chief of the journal, agreed in an e-mail message to a reporter last night that Dr. Lobo's name should be removed, given his limited role. But Dr. Devoe also said that the journal's review of the paper had found no serious problems and that it would be reposted on the journal's Web site.

Dr. Lobo himself did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. Elizabeth Streich, a Columbia spokeswoman, said the university had no further comment.

Outside researchers who have followed the case, however, said they did not think Columbia, whose investigators had access to the original data, had been open enough with its inquiry.

"The university seems to think that because he's taken his name off the paper, that solves it," said Dr. Bruce Flamm of the University of California, Irvine. "But that solves nothing. The real issue is that this research is flawed and possibly fraudulent, and it's now back up on the journal's Web site."


Sound Science


December 4, 2004

"AS SOUND AS ANY SCIENTIST'S"....Via David Appell, Alaska's solidly Republican congressional delegation has responded to the latest study on Arctic warming by saying that more (much more!) study is needed before concluding that human activity is responsible. However, Don Young gets the prize:

Alaska's lone congressman, Republican Rep. Don Young, went so far as dismissing the major new report on Arctic climate change. He called it ammunition for fearmongers.

...."I don't believe it is our fault. That's an opinion," Young said. "It's as sound as any scientist's."

There you have it! There's no need for all those boring, lengthy, scientific studies that have unanimously concluded that human activity is a primary cause of warming. Don Young's opinion on this is every bit as sound as any research scientist's.

I note that this is Don Young's second appearance on this blog. His first one is here. I'm not sure which one ranks higher on the doofus scale, though.

Union says intelligent design questions still unanswered


Teachers want direction from the Dover Area School Board on how to answer student questions.

For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Friday, December 3, 2004

The Dover Area School Board has a different look from just two months ago.

There are four new members as a result of resignations, a new president, Sheila Harkins, and a new vice president, Heather Geesey.

Even with the changes, some controversies linger, the most prominent of which was the recent curriculum mandate that intelligent design be taught in the district's ninth grade biology classes.

On Thursday, Bill Miller, a union spokesman for the Dover Area Education Association, said those changes were causing confusion and frustration among members of the high school's science department.

"We still have no direction from the administration on how to handle student questions about intelligent design," Miller said.

The word, "direction," is critical to the union because Miller said teachers will not answer intelligent design questions without specific guidance on how to do so from the board and administrators.

Last month, Michael Baksa, assistant superintendent, said the administration will eventually sit down with the teachers and decide how questions relating to intelligent design will be handled.

But Miller said the union wants nothing to do with that.

"If we have any directional discussions with the administration on how to answer these questions, it implies that we are cooperating on the issue," Miller said. "And that sets us up to be a sort of shield (if there is any future litigation). If given a direction by the administration, we will not be insubordinate. But they must be the ones to say how we answer the students in this area."

That is unless the union feels the direction puts them in violation of any laws.

"If that becomes our feeling, we may have to take action," he said. "Maybe it's legal action, maybe it isn't, but we will have to do something."

In a statement released by the union Wednesday, they disputed a November statement issued by the administration, which is posted on the district's Web site.

Miller said the administration's statement implied that the curriculum changes were done with the assistance and approval of the teachers. He said that isn't totally true.

"We never developed any language that allowed intelligent design into the classroom," Miller said.

There is also confusion about another section of the district's statement: "Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."

Since the final line of the recently passed curriculum change says, "Note: Origins of life will not be taught," it leaves Miller wondering how the district can prevent students from asking questions that wander down this road.

In another line of the administration's statement, it says, "The Superintendent, Dr. Richard Nilsen, is on record stating that no teacher will teach intelligent design, creationism, or present his/her or the board's religious beliefs."

But at the heart of intelligent design is the idea that there is a designer, who some say represents a deity or god.

"We are really struggling with all of this," Miller said. "We have a real concern that at some point something is going to be said that inadvertently infringes on someone's civil rights."

Intelligent design


One Pennsylvania school passed this new curriculum. Will rest of nation?

By ANNA BADKHEN, San Francisco Chronicle
December 5, 2004

DOVER, Pa. - The way they used to teach the origin of the species to high school students in this sleepy town of 1,800 people in southern Pennsylvania, said school board member Angie Yingling disapprovingly, was that "we come from chimpanzees and apes."

Not anymore.

The school board has ordered that biology teachers at Dover Area High School make students "aware of gaps/problems" in the theory of evolution. Their ninth-grade curriculum must include the theory of "intelligent design," which posits that life is so complex and elaborate that some greater wisdom has to be behind it.

The decision, passed last month by a 6-3 vote, makes the 3,600-student school district about 20 miles south of Harrisburg the first in the United States to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools, putting it on the front line of the growing national debate over the role of religion in public life.

The new curriculum, which prompted two school board members to resign, is expected to take effect in January. The school principal, Joel Riedel, and teachers contacted by The Chronicle refused to comment on the changes.

The idea of intelligent design was initiated by a small group of scientists to explain what they believe to be gaps in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which they say is "not adequate to explain all natural phenomena."

On an intelligent-design Web site (www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org), the theory is described as "a scientific disagreement with the claim of evolutionary theory that natural phenomena are not designed."

Critics such as Eugenie Scott, director of the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education, say the Dover school board's decision is part of a growing trend. Religious conservatives, critics say, have been waging a war against Darwin in classrooms since the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes was convicted of illegally teaching evolution, but his conviction later was thrown out on a technicality by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

"There's a constant impetus by conservative evangelical Christians to bring religion back into the public schools," said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The end goal is to get rid of evolution. They view it as a threat to their religion."

The intelligent-design theory makes no reference to the Bible, and its proponents do not say who or what the greater force is behind the design. But Yingling, 46, who graduated from Dover High School in 1976, and other supporters of the new curriculum in this religiously conservative slice of rural Pennsylvania say they know exactly who the intelligent designer is.

"There's only one creator, and it has to be God," said Rebecca Cashman, 16, a sophomore at Dover High.

Patricia Nason at the Institute for Creation Research, the world leader in creation science, said her organization and other activist groups are encouraging people who share conservative religious beliefs to seek positions on local school boards.

"The movement is to get the truth out," Nason said by telephone from El Cajon (San Diego County). "We Christians have as much right to be involved in politics as evolutionists. We've been asleep for two generations, and it's time for us to come back."

Emboldened by their contribution to President Bush's re-election, conservative religious activists are using intelligent design as a new strategy of attacking evolution without mentioning God, Scott said.

"There is a new energy as a result of the last election, and I anticipate an even busier couple of years coming on," Scott said.

She called intelligent design "creationism lite" masquerading as science. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 banned the teaching of creationism - which holds that God created the world about 6,000 years ago - in public schools on the grounds of separation of church and state.

Creationists try to edge around ban



WASHINGTON - Creationism is a mandatory class at Virginia's Liberty University, a Christian college founded in Lynchburg by evangelist Jerry Falwell.

"Unlike secular institutions, we give both sides," biology professor Terry Spohn said.

But it's not just parochial schools that are pushing the biblical version of how humans were created.

Nearly 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court barred teaching creationism in public schools, state and local officials in 43 states over the past four years have proposed new ways to get around the ban, according to the National Center for Science Education, a California-based organization of educators and clergy.

The latest effort is to teach high school students "intelligent design" - which attributes the origin of the world to an intelligent designer, without using the word "God," and embraces some aspects of science.

Next month, ninth-graders in Dover, Pa., will become the first public school students in the nation to be taught "intelligent design" alongside evolution.

In Ohio, state school officials are urging local public schools to teach a "critical analysis" of evolution.

Overall, the pro-evolution side is winning the battle over what students learn in high school science: None of the anti-evolution bills introduced in 17 states this past year became law.

But the tactic that most worries supporters of evolution is the use of anti-evolution disclaimers inserted into science textbooks.

A federal judge in Georgia is expected to rule soon on the constitutionality of a Cobb County School Board decision to put a sticker inside each science textbook proclaiming that evolution is "not a fact."

Only Alabama mandates statewide evolution disclaimers in its textbooks. However, copycat bills have recently surfaced in roughly a half-dozen states, including South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

If the American Civil Liberties Union loses the case, "we expect to see the Cobb County disclaimer pop up everywhere," said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the national science education center.

"If you don't talk about your religious motivations, it's a lot harder to convince a judge that its real objective is religious," Branch added.

Private schools like Liberty are not bound by the 1987 high court ruling that teaching creationism is a violation of the separation of church and state.

"We cover evolution, but we bring up problems with it," said David DeWitt, an associate professor of biology.

DeWitt believes all students should "have the academic freedom to question evolution. . . . I think it's dishonest to shove evolution down these students' throats as a fact."

But Cobb County high school biology teacher Wes McCoy argues that students need to be taught "a rational, step-by-step explanation of evolution" based on "authentic science" and that does not contradict religious beliefs.

"Science can only focus on naturalistic explanations of the world. . . . Science cannot tell us why we are here," said McCoy, who testified against the disclaimer stickers in the Cobb County case.

Other evolution supporters argue that ideas like "intelligent design" aren't academic subjects and don't belong in academic courses.

"Why don't we talk about astrology in astronomy class, why don't we talk about the Christian Science theory of medicine in medical class? . . . The point is, it's not science," said Sarah Pallas, a Georgia State University biology teacher.

John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, a Christian think tank, agrees that religion should be kept out of the public schools.

But Morris, a proponent of teaching students "intelligent design," believes the theory of evolution is a type of unproven religion based on "weak" scientific evidence.

"Science has to do with the here and now." Evolution and other ideas on the origins of Earth "are views about history," he said.

President Bush advocates teaching children "different theories about how the world started" and "scientific critiques of any theory."

Most Americans agree with him.

Nearly 80 years since the Scopes "Monkey Trial" pitted evolutionists against creationists, a CBS poll last month found that almost two thirds of Americans favor teaching creationism and evolution in public schools.

Last month, voters across the country backed a number of pro-creationism candidates, including Sen.-elect Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who attacked his opponent, state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, for pushing evolution in schools.

Even the Bush-backed No Child Left Behind education reforms contain nonbinding language encouraging schools to teach "the full range of scientific views" on evolution.

The truth's out there, but don't get too excited

Simon Hoggart
Saturday November 27, 2004
The Guardian

It can get a bit lonely on the train or bus if you don't have a copy of The Da Vinci Code, like everyone else. I haven't read it, but I gather it's based on the same old stuff as The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, published by three British journalists in 1982. I don't have the space to go through this farrago, but basically the line is that Christ survived the crucifixion and fled to France, where he had a child by Mary Magdalene. The bloodline survived to this day, and the momentous secret was kept down the ages by the mysterious and secretive Priory of Zion.

In this story, Christ was buried near the Pyrenean town of Rennes-le-Chateau, where 1,800 years later the local priest, one Brenger Saunire, is alleged to have discovered the secret, hidden on four parchments in a hollow pillar under the altar. He also became immensely wealthy, and it's alleged that this came from the discovery of quantities of treasure associated with Christ and those initiated into the "truth".

Now, as so often, Skeptical Inquirer magazine in the States brings a little crisp, clear air into the story. Their reporter (his article should be on the website, csicop.org, fairly soon) discovered that the hollow in the pillar was roughly the size of a CD box and not remotely large enough to contain one parchment, never mind four.

As for Saunire's wealth, the church investigated and discovered that he had been trafficking in masses - offering to say masses for souls thought to be in purgatory in exchange for cash. This was illegal, but at the time was a common way for priests to earn money on the side. He advertised throughout France and even abroad, clearly not having anything like enough time to say all the masses he had promised. Consequently the church, in effect, fired him.

Of course this is far too simple and straightforward for the lovers of ersatz mysteries, who will ignore the rational explanation in favour of folderol and flim-flam.

Back in the late 1980s, the 20 June Group of artists and intellectuals used to gather over a decent meal to bemoan the state of Thatcher's Britain. At the time they were derided as Bollinger Bolsheviks. One of their number was the playwright Peter Nichols, who has written a hilarious account of one of their meetings in his dairies, now published in the Oxford magazine Arete.

The temptation to guffaw begins, I fear, with Mr Nichols's introduction when he says, "It's not easy to remember now how difficult it was at the height of Thatcher's regime to speak out against her ..." Not my recollection at all. Many papers were full of rage against her, and you couldn't switch on the TV without seeing another alternative comedian get a laugh simply by uttering her name in a snarly sort of way.

Still, the meeting on March 1 1989 got off to a promising start with a speech made "a bit absurdly" by Harriet Harman, which causes Lord Williams to say loudly "Come off it, Harriet!" and "Sometimes I'm ashamed of my party!" Duncan Campbell (not the Guardian writer but "the anything-but-gay gay journalist") proposes a ban on smoking - way ahead of his time - but this is voted down with the help of the non-smoking John Mortimer.

Angela Carter then picks a row with Nichols, over Salman Rushdie's apology for The Satanic Verses. Mortimer then points out, in a burst of common sense, that people should feel sorry for not only Rushdie and his partner, but the workers at Penguin, who don't have police protection.

There follows a splendid row in which Ann Mallalieu accuses the "coven" of "airy-fairy nonsense". Antonia Fraser demands to know why Mallalieu is present, since she isn't a member of the group. Penny Mortimer says she invited her, and her name is on the list. Mrs Pinter says it isn't. "This started an unstoppable ding-dong between Penny and Antonia ... tempers hadn't cooled by the time we had to break up at 11pm", and the row continues back at the Pinter home, with Thelma Nichols acting as an unofficial referee.

While this pomposity and confusion continued, Margaret Thatcher was pursuing the poll tax, closing down industry, privatising everything and bringing in laws against the unions, undistracted by the disputations of our national treasures.

We went to see the new Bridget Jones and enjoyed it. It's a bit like watching your favourite sitcom - much the same every week, but none the worse for that. The weird thing is how peculiar Rene Zellweger looks at the beginning. She isn't just plump, she's almost obese, and her face - jolie laide at the best of times - looks like the American ad vertising character the Pillsbury Doughboy. Since she is far more gauche and silly than the original character we are left wondering why someone as handsome, decent, intelligent, rich and generally perfect as Mark Darcy would show any interest in her.

A few weeks ago I wrote about cartoonists, including Sidney Strube, who was the most popular journalist in Britain, earning an astounding 10,000 a year from the Daily Express. Like millions of other people Stanley Baldwin was a great fan, calling him a "gentle genius", unlike David Low, who was "evil and malicious". My point was that Low was still revered while Strube was more or less forgotten.

There are plenty of Strube fans out there, and they were cross. They have also mounted an exhibition of his work at the Political Cartoon Society, whose gallery is at 32 Store Street, London WC1. I popped along for the private view this week.

You can see why the cartoons were so well-loved. They were gentle, amusing, and often depicted great events in terms of ordinary folks' lives (Strube's Little Man, a slightly bewildered looking chap with a bowler hat and bristly moustache, was so popular that they had Little Man lookalike contests, and made a film about him). What they lacked in the end was what Low had: stark, bold lines which created images that print themselves inside your head (Colonel Blimp, the TUC carthorse, the mincing Hitler) and a quality of rage which, more than amiable whimsy, has lasted down the years.

Family sayings continue to arrive; thanks. Eric Bradley writes from Rhyl: "A few years ago my wife and I were motoring through Bavaria. The clouds became lower and lower, and by the time we booked into our pension it had started to rain. I made a remark to that effect to the receptionist, who looked me in the eye, thumped the counter and said in a stern voice, 'Ve are not responsible for ze veather!' Since then, whenever we're out and the weather turns iffy, we say to each other ..." You can guess the rest. Keep them coming, please.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Scientologists treat Norwegian addicts


Monday 6th December, 2004

Big News Network.com Thursday 2nd December, 2004

Norway's government has spent huge sums treating drug addicts at a controversial operation run by Scientologists, reports said.

The Narconon center in Denmark, where treatment costs about $30,000, bases its work on teachings by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Aftenposten reported Wednesday.

However, Astrid Skretting, a researcher at the State Institute for Drug and Alcohol Research, told Aftenposten she fears Norwegian addicts will convert to Scientology after their stay.

Norway has already spent large amounts on the Danish operation, Aftenposten reported.

Narconon Denmark manager Ole Thiemer was aware of criticism of Narconon's methods by U.S. experts, but insisted the center is independent of the church.

We have clients that become Scientologists when they complete treatment, Thiemer told Aftenposten. Maybe they think like I do, that if just a tiny part of Hubbard's technology can free them of addiction, what could all of his teaching do.

"Divine voice " leads to hit-and-run driver


Rhori Johnston/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis, December 1 - Bradley English died a week before Halloween when a car hit him while he rode his bike.

The driver didn't stop and neither did Bradley's mother.

She listened to what she says was a divine voice and it led her to the suspect.

Joy English says dealing with her son's death is a bit easier now because she knows who's responsible. She knows who drove away after hitting her son.

The accident happened near the intersection of Shelby and Stop Eleven. Witnesses told police they saw a white van or SUV drive away from the scene.

Joy English knew finding a suspect would prove tough. "I kind of vowed to myself, 'You can't be looking at every white vehicle you see because 20 years from now you could still be looking and never find it.'" she said.

It didn't take 20 years. It took 29 days.

Joy says the day before Thanksgiving she drove to the store to get flowers for Brad's grave. "I just had this urgent prompting to turn left into the mobile home park," she said. "I just kept hearing this in my head over and over, only a mother's love.'"

Suddenly, she says, she spotted a white van. Joy called police and asked them to check it out. She says she'll never forget what investigators said when they called back. "The white van that you reported, you caught him. And I just couldn't believe it. I just kept crying and screaming, 'Thank you, thank you,'" she told Eyewitness News.

Police arrested 29-year-old Israel Cardenas and charged him with failure to stop after an accident causing death and driving while suspended.

Joy English says it was divine intervention,"It's God, not me. I know it was God."

"Deseret News Draws Picture (Literally) of Attachment Therapy"


The Deseret Morning News gives "Attachment (Holding) Therapy" proponents an opportunity to appeal for public support. But more is revealed than may help Attachment Therapists.

"Therapy or abuse? Controversial treatments may sink Cascade"
By Jesse Hyde
Deseret Morning News
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595108087,00.html (DON'T MISS DIAGRAM OF "HOLDING THERAPY")


Back in 2003, at the national ATTACh conference for Attachment Therapists in Pittsburgh, ATTACh's public relations consultant spoke with two women from Utah, one identifying herself as the office manager of the Cascade Center for Family Growth (Orem). The Utah women bragged how supporters of Cascade recently got an unsympathetic reporter removed from the local bureau for reporting which was unfavorable to Cascade. The PR consultant was pleased to hear it: "Good. So, you had an impact then." But the conversation revealed a desperation in Utah AT supporters about the controversy and their resolve to "blow it out of the water."

Fourteen months later, a change in attitude towards Attachment Therapy and the Cascade Center was noticeable at the *Deseret Morning News.* Previously critical of holding therapy on its editorial pages, the *Deseret* published a huge front-page story that gave a largely revisionist perspective on Cascade and AT.

Headlined "Therapy or Abuse?", the 4,000-word story presented glowing testimonials, a story of official harassment, color photographs, and one incredible graphic of "Holding Therapy."

It certainly must be no coincidence that the story appears just a month before two of Cascade's principals are scheduled to face a state licensure hearing on charges of abuse and substandard care. The *Deseret* story is replete with Cascade's owner's defenses for the charges against them. The state, of course, cannot comment.

The article nonetheless revealed more about Attachment Therapy -- especially how it is practiced in Utah -- than may have been in the interest of its supporters:

* An illustration entitled "Holding therapy -- How It Works" claims the technique supposedly "help[s] children release pent-up rage" and forces eye contact, both of which harken back to AT's "rage-reduction" roots. The illustration shows a floor hold, with an adult sitting alongside a child, pinning the child's arms to her sides.

* The same graphic highlights an intervention called "abdominal prodding," a dangerous technique that operates from the premise that emotions are stored in internal organs and that healing occurs when emotions, such as rage, are released by applying pressure to the organs.

* The story repeats the false statement that Utah County Attorney's Office cleared Cascade of any responsibility in the 2002 death of Cassandra Killpack in Springville, Utah. In truth, prosecutors have not charged Cascade or anyone at Cascade with criminal conduct in connection with that case. Cascade's culpability in the death, if any, will be an issue to be decided by a jury at next year's trial of Cassandra's parents.

* The story suggests that prosecutors believe Holding Therapy was used as a red herring in the 1995 (not 1997) death of another Utah adoptee, Krystal Tibbet. The record of that case suggests that Holding Therapy was very much central to that fatality. (See: http://www.childrenintherapy.org/victims/tibbets.html)

* The story repeats as fact Cascade's allegation in a pending lawsuit that a website, http://www.KidsComeFirst.info, has defamed Cascade by linking it to the deaths of children. That website has done nothing of the sort; it has only links to news stories and official documents, with hardly any commentary, and none at all mentioning Cascade or its operators by name, much less defamatorily. Cascade's lawsuit is being challenged under Utah's anti-SLAPP statute as an attempted abridgement of free speech.

* The Deseret story makes it clear that confrontational Holding Therapy continues to be actively used by Cascade therapists, much as they have done all along. However, in documents defending against the state's licensing charges, Cascade's operators claim that their techniques and interventions are different than in years past.

* In the story, one of Cascade's staunchest supporters claims that she has "books and books, boxes and boxes stacked in my basement of research on holding therapy." In fact, there is no valid research, as the Deseret reporter discovered and acknowledged earlier in the article.

Only about one-eighth of the article is devoted to criticism of holding therapy. Warns Matthew Speltz of the Child Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at the University of Washington: "It's appealing to listen to a therapist who says the problem resides in the child, that there is something evil in them, and without serious intervention they will become the next Ted Bundy. The parents are as much a victim as the kids. They are desperate for help, and they are willing to consider anything; they are so vulnerable. ... These parents are easy marks for those who are selling an idea with no scientific validation."

Dr Jean Mercer agrees. She is a Professor of Psychology at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and advisor to AT NEWS. "Therapists use a checklist that has no scientific basis, and every kid with a history of abuse gets diagnosed with [Reactive Attachment Disorder]." She adds, "This idea that sitting on someone is the answer, it's just bizarre."

Anyone concerned with the spread of Attachment Therapy will find the Deseret's revelations about the practice of AT in Utah an eye opener. It is remarkable that AT supporters apparently think that disclosing what they do actually helps their case.

For sending a letter to the editor at Deseret Morning News, go to: http://deseretnews.com/comment/1,3864,,00.html

AT NEWS sends the latest news/opinions to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees. AT NEWS is the publication of *Advocates for Children in Therapy.*

For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Advocates for Children in Therapy
Loveland, CO

Evolution education update: Not over in Dover; Forrest and Gross in S&T News; NCSE's Scott on Fox, CNN

The "intelligent design" controversy is unabated in Dover, while Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross ponder the development of "intelligent design" and Eugenie C. Scott appears on both Fox News and CNN.


The controversy over the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School Board's resolution reading "Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design" continues to reverberate. On November 30, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle carried a lengthy front page story entitled "Anti-evolution teachings gain foothold in U.S. schools," focusing on the situation in Dover. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was cited as regarding the school board's decision as part of a growing trend: "There is a new energy as a result of the last election, and I anticipate an even busier couple of years coming on," she told the Chronicle. Although proponents of "intelligent design" usually maintain a strategic silence on the identity of the intelligent designer, the story observed, "supporters of the new curriculum in this religiously conservative slice of rural Pennsylvania say they know exactly who the intelligent designer is." (Similarly, an Associated Press story on December 1, 2004, quoted a local as saying that anyone who opposes the introduction of "intelligent design" in the Dover Area schools is "taking a stand against God.") Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Chronicle that his organization is deciding whether to sue the school board over the resolution.

A story in the December 3, 2004, York Daily Record presents the local teachers' reaction to the resolution. Bill Miller, a union spokesman for the Dover Area Education Association, said that teachers were confused and frustrated by the lack of guidance as to how they are supposed to implement the resolution. Although the district administration promised eventually to develop guidelines collaboratively with the teachers, Miller said that the union would not do so: "If we have any directional discussions with the administration on how to answer these questions, it implies that we are cooperating on the issue," he told the Daily Record. "If given a direction by the administration, we will not be insubordinate. But they must be the ones to say how we answer the students in this area." Miller also disputed the administration's claim that the teachers were involved in the framing of the resolution -- "We never developed any language that allowed intelligent design into the classroom" -- and noted a seeming inconsistency between the resolution's proviso that "origins of life" will not be taught and the district's characterization of "intelligent design" as "an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view." "We are really struggling with all of this," Miller said.

For the San Francisco Chronicle story, visit: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/11/30/MNGVNA3PE11.DTL

For the York Daily Record story, visit: http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/51229/


Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross contributed a piece to the December 2004 issue of Science & Theology News, a monthly newspaper reporting the latest on science-religion issues. "Like any evolving system," Forrest and Gross write, "ID has highly conserved traits. In this case, these qualities reflect the movement's creationist ancestry. The most prominent trait is its scientific sterility .... Such throwback attributes, like this blindness to relevant science, are stable. Others, however, are evolving relatively quickly." Tracing the development of "intelligent design" rhetoric, they conclude, "having evolved away from 'the Wedge' strategy's argument for "the integration of design theory into public school science curricula," the ID movement is in an odd predicament, a victim of its own PR campaign. Having developed the strategy to promote ID, they must now defend it with something other than the term 'intelligent design.' This will happen -- just like any other evolutionary process -- over a good deal of time." Forrest and Gross are the authors of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press 2004), a comprehensive investigation of the "intelligent design" movement, and Forrest is in addition a member of the NCSE board of directors.

A response by John West and Jonathan Witt, both associated with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, also appears. West and Witt accuse Forrest and Gross of "fear mongering" and conspiracy theorizing, and say that they seem to think that "if intelligent design scholars have religious beliefs, then their writings are tainted and should be dismissed." They proceed to argue that "Gross and Forrest's main complaint seems to be that intelligent design proponents don't produce genuine scholarship, especially in peer-reviewed publications," citing inter alia a paper by Stephen C. Meyer in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington that was repudiated by the BSW, and a recent paper by Michael Behe and David Snoke in Protein Science, which West and Witt misleadingly describe as making "a case against a key pillar of Neo-Darwinism." (See "Theory is as theory does" on the Panda's Thumb web blog for a critique of Behe and Snoke's paper). They conclude with a diatribe about supposed "Darwinist" persecution of proponents of "intelligent design."

To read Forrest and Gross's essay, and West and Witt's response, visit: http://www.stnews.org/books_authors_1204.html

For the Panda's Thumb critique of Behe and Snoke's paper, visit: http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000480.html


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott appeared on the "Fair and Balanced" segment of Fox News on November 27, 2004, to discuss "intelligent design" opposite John West of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. The segment began with a reference to the decision of the Dover (Pennsylvania) school board to require the teaching of "intelligent design," a subject that West evidently preferred not to discuss. After Scott said that the intelligent designer spells its name with three letters, the host pursued the question of the designer's identity with West, who struggled to explain that "intelligent design" is incapable of identifying the designer as God. Scott stressed that there is not a genuine scientific controversy about evolution, although questions about its patterns and processes remain.

Scott also appeared on CNN on November 29, 2004, to discuss evolution and creationism with host Paula Zahn. The program began with a segment narrated by CNN correspondent Tom Foreman, who interviewed young-earth creationist Walter Brown and Jim Miller of AAAS's Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion. In the studio, Scott and Jason Lisle of the young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis were quizzed by Zahn. Emphasizing that evolution is good science and not necessarily antithetical to religion, Scott also noted that by lobbying school boards to include creationism or weaken evolution in their science curricula, creationists are politicizing science education.

For the rush transcript of the CNN segment, visit: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0411/29/pzn.01.html

And for further information on Eugenie C. Scott's recent book on Evolution vs. Creationism, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

Thanks for reading! And 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

IRS pounded for religious school tuition deduction


Jeff Quinn
Special to the Bonanza
December 3, 2004

If the taxpayers prevail in a Los Angeles based trial, the flood gates might just fling wide open on the issue of deducting the tuition one pays to a religious school as a charitable donation.

Actually, this is one which comes up often - folks think the dough paid to their kids' religious school ought to qualify as some sort of charitable donation. But it's not that simple.

Seems that the Revenooers did make a deal, of sorts, with the Church of Scientology some years back - allowing patrons of that church to deduct the cost of certain of their training and "auditing," a term which describes a form of religious education in that church's jargon.

"The IRS has publicly called them a church and described training and auditing as deductible," notes Jeffrey Zuckerman, the attorney for Michael and Marla Sklar who are pressing the instant case. "That recognition should be extended to all religions, and it is discrimination not to."

The beef in the Sklar case is about some $3,000 in taxes which would be saved if the Sklars were permitted to deduct the approximate $15 grand in tuition for their children's religious education at an orthodox Jewish school in L.A.

Quoth Professor Evelyn Brody, a Chicago-Kent College of Law tax guru in a recent issue of The National Law Journal, "It's not clear that Michael and Marla Sklar will win, but if they do, it may well mean that millions of families will be able to deduct some portion of private religious school education."

Stay tuned.

And in case you California taxpayers out there missed this week's Franchise Tax Board's annual Taxpayers' Bill of Rights hearing, send your comments and proposals to change existing rules and recommendations for improvement to the FTB's Taxpayer Advocate, P.O. Box 157, Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-0157. It's never too late to let 'em hear your complaints.

And if you're anxiously awaiting some sort of missive from the California Board of Equalization, don't be misled by some official-looking chap who might show up on your door step claiming to have a "COD" delivery for you from the board. All he's really after is the $18.50 (fraudulent) delivery charge - the board never sends anything "COD," they report. If these crooks try to clip you on this one, report 'em to the Board's Internal Security and Audit Division, and don't pay one red cent.

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR Š This article contains general information about various tax matters. You should consult your CPA or other tax advisor concerning the implications to your own particular situation.

Mr. Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., located at 937 Tahoe Boulevard, Incline Village. He may be reached at 831-7288, and welcomes comments at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com.

Weird World

December 2004 - January 2005


Ghosts, Orbs and the MOD

The MOD house magazine Focus has run another article on ghosts, reflecting the vast number of military bases that are alleged to be haunted. I first heard of some of these accounts whilst running the UFO project, but active investigation was outside my remit. Devonport Naval Base is the latest location to be studied, with a team from the Society of Metaphysicians based at Brunel University investigating the site, where naval ratings and security guards have been frequently scared by ghostly apparitions and related phenomena. Leading the study was psychic Goldy Bromley, whose team brought motion detectors, night vision cameras, laser thermometers and sound detection equipment. They also brought dowsing rods and toys for the spirits of children believed to haunt the base. Goldy Bromley subsequently claimed that some form of communication with spirits had taken place. As some of the ghosts are believed to be spirits of French soldiers from the Napoleonic era, the investigators hummed the French national anthem. It is claimed that this led to the appearance of orbs that were recorded on the night vision cameras. Similar balls of light have often been reported on skywatches and in areas closely associated with UFO sightings, such as Rendlesham Forest. The ghostbusters were accompanied by Naval personnel, and a report is being drawn up. I will keep readers posted on developments.

Ghosts on the London Underground

Still on the subject of ghosts, the London Underground is another place where numerous ghosts have been seen. A new television series will attempt to draw together ghostly experiences witnessed by staff and passengers alike. Check out www.underlondonground.co.uk for details and if you have had a ghostly experience on the tube, email it to info@underlondonground.co.uk and you could be on TV. And yes, the website and email addresses are correct. There is no ghost in the machine here.

Nick Pope has a website, which can be accessed at http://www.nickpope.net

Hello, Hello, Earth?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- If ET ever phones home, chances are Earthlings wouldn't recognize the call as anything other than random noise or a star.

New research shows that highly efficient electromagnetic transmissions from our neighbors in space would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars.

University of Michigan physicist Mark Newman, along with biologist Michael Lachmann and computer scientist Cristopher Moore, have extended the pioneering 1940s research of Claude Shannon to electromagnetic transmissions in a paper published last month in the American Journal of Physics called, "The Physical Limits of Communication, or Why any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise." Lachmann is at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany; Moore is at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Shannon showed that a message transmitted with optimal efficiency is indistinguishable from random noise to a receiver unfamiliar with the language in the message. For example, an e-mail message whose first few letters are AAAAA contains little information because the reader can easily guess what probably comes nextanother A. The message is totally non-random. On the other hand, a message beginning with a sequence of letters like RPLUOFQX contains a lot of information because you cannot easily guess the next letter.

Paradoxically, however, the same message could just be a random jumble of letters containing no information at all; if you don't know the code used for the message you can't tell the difference between an information-rich message and a random jumble of letters.

Newman and his collaborators have shown that a similar result holds true for radio waves.

When electromagnetic waves are used as the transmission medium, the most information efficient format for a message is indistinguishable from ordinary thermal radiationthe same kind of radio waves that are emitted by hot bodies like stars. In other words, an efficiently coded radio message coming from outer space would look no different from a normal star in the sky.

So, suppose an alien in space decided to pick up signs of Earth life. It would have a pretty easy time of it, since our radio and television signals are zigzagging all over the place and are inefficiently coded and easily distinguishable from stars.

But say a human tries to tune into extraterrestrial life.

"People do this, and when they do, they are looking for non-random stuff," Newman said. "But what if (the aliens) have gotten it down? With a few hundred years practice at doing this, you'd have discovered the most efficient way to encode your radio messages. So to us, their communication would look just like another star, a hot object."

After all, Newman said, in the universe's 12 billion-year history, it's likely that extraterrestrialsif they existhave communicated with each other longer than our paltry 80-year history of radio broadcasting. "In which case, they've probably gotten very good at this by now."

Said Newman: "Our message is that, even for the people who do believe this, they're probably wasting their time. If they did pick up a signal from little green men, it would probably look like a star to them and they would just pass over it and move on to the next thing."

For information on Newman, visit: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/

For information on physics, visit: http://www.physics.lsa.umich.edu/nea/

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found at



Contact: Laura Bailey
Phone: (734) 647-7087 or (734) 647-1848
E-mail: Baileylm@umich.edu

Speaker uses fossils to help teach creationism


By Jennifer Edwards
Odessa American

Steve Grohman's favorite teaching device is not a computer, a blackboard or an overhead.

It has no switches, buttons, lights, bells or whistles.

It's simply an eight-inch length of petrified wood that, according to Grohman, was just a regular housing stake six years ago. Now, it's a fossil, he said.

"The point is that it doesn't have to be millions of years old to be a fossil," he said. The tool is important because it illustrates a cornerstone of the Creationist theory that Grohman, a resident of New Hampshire, will be teaching Odessans at Life Challenge United Pentecostal Church on Sunday.

"(Age) dating is full of problems and assumptions," he said. "All of the 'ifs' that are needed for (evolutionists') 'thens' to work out – nobody knows about them."

Like other creationists, Ghroman believes that the world formed exactly as the Bible said in Genesis. And unlike evolutionists, he believes that animals were formed as they are, that man was created exactly how he is and that the world is much younger than most believe.

Unlike other creationists, however, Ghroman has dedicated his life to studying science textbooks; pointing out the inaccuracies and contradictions he finds in them; and traveling to different cities across the countries to tell others what he finds.

"He'll bring stacks of these books and show you and they'll be contradicting themselves," Life Challenge pastor Dan Smelser said.

Both the contradictions of science and the hope that creationism espouses are important to Christians, Smelser said.

"I think what he is presenting is foundational to the whole moral (code) we live on," Smelser said. "If the Bible is not a true and total account — if we are just accidents, we have no reason for living."

But the lengthy talk Grohman will give — all 10 hours' worth — will not just be about theory, Smelser said.

"He's got a traveling museum, too," he said. "He has some coal that is actually formed around some modern day objects."

Also in the museum, a 24-foot-long travel trailer, are more than 500 other fossils, Grohman said. "We have several hundred fossils from all over the world — a lot of things that cannot be explained through an evolutionary world view and mind set."

Whose creationism shall we teach?



Last update: December 04, 2004

In the Navajo creation story, the people are given the name, Dine, which means, "Holy Earth People." As the story goes, the Dine emerged from the First World into "The Glittering World" (our world), in the form of First Man and First Woman.

First Man was made in the east from the meeting of black and white clouds. First Woman was made in the west from the joining of yellow and blue clouds.

The Dine people grew and developed in the safe boundaries marked by the four sacred mountains, where they sang the Blessing Song, built their hogans, and established Dine life on their holy ground. In the meantime, the deities, known as the "Holy People" went about the business of setting the stars in the sky. They lay them out in an orderly way, but the coyote, known as a trickster, grew impatient waiting for the task to be completed, seized a corner of the blanket on which the stars were lying and flung them into the sky. After this came the creation of the four original clans of the Dine.

For those who are so adamant about teaching creationism in our schools, whose creationism shall we teach?

In the fourth and fifth tablets of the Enuma Elish, which is the ancient Babylonian creation epic, Marduk, a relative newcomer in the pantheon of Babylonian gods, went to battle against Tiamat, the great mother god. Marduk slew Tiamat and used half of Tiamat's corpse to create the covering of the heavens and the other to create the structure of the firmament and the deep. In the heavenly canope Marduk made stations for the great gods and fixed the stars of the sky. Marduk then ordained the year, setting within it 12 months and their days and made Jupiter (Napir in the story) their boundary. Marduk fixed the zenith and caused the moon god to shine forth, entrusting to him the realm of night. And Marduk declared to him: At the beginning of the month, when thou shinest upon the land, thou commandest the horns to determine six days, and on the seventh day to divide the crown. Marduk then set a throne in heaven and declared that from his blood and bone he would create man to inhabit the Earth.

What is notable here is the fact the Enuma Elish predates the creation story of Genesis 1, which contains important and essential components of this Babylonian epic including the separation of the heavens from the firmament as well as the Biblical formula of six days plus one day, established long before there was an identified chosen people to worship God on shabat. In the Babylonian epic, the designation of the seventh day as sacred is marked by being the day of the crown.

Once again, for those who are so adamant about teaching creationism in our schools, whose creationism shall we teach?

In the history of American Christianity, one of its chief characteristics throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, and now, 21st centuries has been a nagging, pervasive tradition of anti-intellectualism. This is a uniquely American religious phenomenon marked by the outright rejection of Enlightenment principles at least in the religious context of the new world. The Protestant Reformation in Europe brought an end to the stranglehold on knowledge and authority by the Roman Catholic Church leading up to the 16th century. On the heels of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, the European church came out of the dark ages of human knowing. But this was a very unique historical moment in the sense that the church in Europe, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, began a process by which the masses would become literate and educated. It was a long, slow and at times painful process, and yet a historical path that was not to be reversed.

Until now. Singlehandedly, biblically literalist Christians are causing entire school districts to launch themselves into intellectual darkness, not by content, but by approach. The irony is that these proponents of "creation science" or "intelligent design," or whatever misleading label they are using this year, ignore and/or deny the ancient roots of their own creation story. It is blasphemous for them to even suggest that there was an ancient forerunner of their precious mythology. It is even blasphemous, in their estimation, to refer to their particular version of sacred story as "mythology."

Unfortunately, this simply reveals the lack of understanding concerning the gift and power of myth in human community. Myth is the vehicle through which transcendent truth is communicated and understood by finite beings with finite language and understanding. As a Christian believer, I am thankful for the depth, beauty and power of myth in my spiritual life.

American society today is a very literalistic culture. Anything written down in black and white is considered the literal truth, especially when the label "sacred text" is attached to it. The sad part of this is that the literal word conveys spiritual and transcendent truth very poorly, while the language of myth can take us to the very heart of God.

I have no objection to school districts offering elective comparative courses in which the Genesis creation story is presented as the sacred story of a people along with a good cross section of the sacred creation stories of diverse cultures, ranging from Native American, or any nativist mythology to the mythologies of the great Eastern religions.

We should not allow any of these mythologies, however, to masquerade as science, especially in our school districts, that are at least partly entrusted with the task of preparing young people to attend colleges and universities that correctly and responsibly do not permit religious storytelling to be confused with hard science. What is remarkable about these stories, however, is that when compared to each other they are qualitatively very similar. They reflect the greatest hopes and fears of the people who tell them and hold them sacred, and across all geographical, cultural and religious boundaries we discover that the human race shares these same hopes and fears. Nothing could be more unifying than this, if only we could allow that to happen.

The Rev. Dr. DeYoe is pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Palm Coast.





The purpose of this article is to address the biblical question of "angelic chariots", and to ascertain exactly what it written therein on the subject. Does the biblical text describe the physical appearance of God' s angelic chariots? I believe that after your read this article you will be able to discern the answer to this question for yourself, as the answer is resoundingly clear. Let me start by laying a biblical foundation for angelic chariots, as well as for the Chariot of God himself, both of which are referenced with various, controlling metaphors in the Old Testament, that also appear in the early interpretive writings of the Jews, Gnostic Christians, and Greeks. I believe that what one will discover is that one can only understand such texts within a modern context.

The Old Testament abounds with texts that speak of how angels came to the earth in ancient times riding in heavenly vehicles that are represented metaphorically as "horses" and "chariots" of God. Psalm 68:17 is probably the most definitive example of the Old Testament "angelic chariot" texts. This Psalm addresses the chronology of the Jewish Exodus from captivity in Egypt, their encampment at Mount Sinai, and the events that transpired at that time. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands multiplied: the Lord was among them at Sinai, in the [heavenly] Temple/Sanctuary."

There are also many Old Testament texts that speak of how certain biblical figures ascended into the heavens, and are acknowledged by biblical scholars as the "heavenly ascension" texts. One of the best, and probably most well-known examples of these texts is found in 2 Kings 2:1 and 11, which speak of the heavenly ascension of the prophet Elijah, as therein it is written in verse 1: "Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up into the heavens by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their was from Gilgal." Verse 11 continues with: "As they continued walking and talking, a Chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into the heavens."

There are also many references in the biblical text that speak of the Chariot in which God, himself, came to visit the earth, as is described above in 2 Kings 2 as the Chariot of fire. The reference to "horses of fire" is to the angelic "chariots of God" that accompany God's Chariot which, in the early Jewish interpretive writings is acknowledged as being a "Merkabah."

The biblical prophet, Ezekiel, metaphorically describes God's Merkabah as being a heavenly "throne" [Ez. 1:26], as the Glory of the Lord [Ez.1:28] and as "The Gory of the God of Israel" [Ez. 9:3]. The word Merkabah is derived from two Hebrew words. The first word is "merkab", which means "a chariot, and also "a seat, as in a vehicle. It is also derived from the word "rakab", which means "to ride on" or "to ride in." Accordingly, that which the prophet describes metaphorically as a "throne" and "the Glory of the Lord", is to be understood to refer to God's Merkabah, the literal translation of which is "Throne-Chaiort", and is that which God comes to the earth in visitation.. The noted Dead Sea Scroll scholar, Dr. Geza Vermes, makes the following statement about God's Merkabah: "The divine Throne-Chariot draws its inspiration from Ezekiel (1-10)…It depicts the appearance and movement of the Merkabah, the divine Chariot supported and drawn by the cherubim, which is at the same time a throne and a vehicle."

Additionally, the metaphor "Glory of the Lord" is found throughout the Old Testament, and always speaks of God's heavenly presence in a very literal sense, and as in his Throne-Chariot. On closer analysis of the Hebrew metaphor, one finds that the word "glory" gives specificity to the word, within each of those contexts. The word "glory" literally means "mass" or "substance", and variously rendered by biblical scholars as "glory, body, or house", and is therefore to be understood as being a reference to God's heavenly House, Abode, or Dwelling Place. Thus, the Merkabah Glory of the Lord can be seen as being a Throne-Chariot that has both substance and mass, and as God's heavenly Dwelling Place.

Many of the early Jewish Merkabah related writings, as well as the early Gnostic Christian writings have their interpretational roots in Ezekiel's biblical vision of the Merkabah and the four chariots of the cherubim. Both bodies of literature represent Ezekiel's living creatures as heavenly chariots, inside of which were angelic beings. In the section that follows, I will present a wide variety of text sources, all of which represent the Merkabah and Ezekiel's living creatures, wheels within wheel, etc. as wheel-chariots.

Of all of the biblical texts that deal with the subject of heavenly chariots, none parallels the description that is found in the chapters 1 and 10 of the biblical book of the prophet Ezekiel. In these two chapters Ezekiel describes the physical appearance, operation and movement of what he describes metaphorically as "living creatures, burning coals of fire, wheels within wheels, and cherubim", all of which are synonymous terms that describe the "chariots of God." Ezekiel likens the chariots to living creatures to which he attributes various anatomical parts, each of which has a specific anatomical location and associated function.

While biblical scholarship has for some time supported an angelic chariot interpretation in Ezekiel, and despite the fact that the prophet renders a detailed description of their physical appearance, operation and movement, scholars have, heretofore, been unable to render a drawing of it physical appearance that is based on a viable translation of the Hebrew text. One has but to read a few of the various English Bible renderings of Ezekiel chapter 1, in order to see that each renders various areas of the text differently. One of the reasons for this is that, in ancient Hebrew, one word often has multiple meanings that at times differ vastly from each other. Another reason is that, in the Hebrew language, all words are derivatives of what are called root words. While it is not always the case, there are times when components of the root word meaning influence either the direct translation of or may influence the meaning of the word within a particular context.

In chapter 1 of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the prophet describes the appearance of four heavenly objects, to which he refers with the various synonymous metaphors "living creatures" [his description of an unknown technology], "burning coals of fire" [ his description of them as fiery, amber-colored coals or orbs high in the heavens], "wheels within wheels" [his description of a disc-shaped craft under which there is as spinning (turbine-like) wheel], and "cherubim" [which are acknowledged in the early writings as "the chariots of the cherubim"].

While it is the view of mainstream biblical scholarship that the four objects Ezekiel describes are "feather-winged cherubs", the voices of the past, as are reflected in early interpretive literature, paint a totally different picture, as you will see. I will now take you on a brief journey into antiquity, whereby you might be able to clearly discern the voices of both the prophet Ezekiel himself, and from those ancient people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will soon see that the various metaphors the prophet uses to describe what he sees are indeed all synonymous, controlling metaphors, each of which shapes the theological thought and direction within the two texts. So, away we go, as far back as the year 593 B.C.

I will also let you listen to the voices of the early Greeks who made the first translation of the Hebrew biblical text into another language. As such, it is important in that it contains certain renderings that do not always follow the original Hebrew text, which scholars render to as "textual variants." The Greeks translated the entire Old Testament into what is called the Septuagint [or LXX by scholars].

You will also hear the voices of thosae who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS], as they have a great deal to say about Ezekiel's various controllong metaphors, as well as those of other early Jews and Gnostic Christian who have something to tell us about Ezekiel's four "angelic chariots."

So, away we go on our voyage into the distant past, whereby we might hear and see what the many voices tell us:

Ez. 1:13:

"As for the appearance of the living creatures [a flying technology he had never sees; thus it was alive and a creature], they looked like burning coals of fire…"

Dead Sea Scrolls:

"…and there were living beings inside of the coals, like burning coals of fire."

Ez. 10:15:

"The cherubim rose from the earth: These were the living creatures that I saw by the river of Chebar."

Ez. 1:20:

"…for there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels." [Biblical text: "God makes angels his ministering Spirits."]

Ez. 1:16:

"The appearance of the wheels and their construction…and they each had the same shape…like a wheel the middle of another wheel."

Dead Sea Scrolls:

"And when the wheels move forward the holy angels go to the back; they emerge from within the glorious wheels with the likeness of fire."

Ben Sirah 49:8:[ an early Jewish writing, the later Greek translation of which appears as the canonical book of Sirach in the Catholic Bible.]

"It was Ezekiel who saw the vision of glory that God showed him above/upon the chariot of the cherubim."

"Hypostases of the Archons"; an early Gnostic Christian text:

"…the four-faced chariot of the cherubim."

Greek Septuagint : a variant rendering from the Hebrew text in Ez. 43:3:

"…and the vision of the chariot that I saw was like the one that I saw by the river of Chebar…"

Are you beginning to get a mental picture of the "chariots, which are shaped like "wheels" inside of which there are angelic pilots, "fiery coals/orbs" in the heavens, inside of which there are living angelic beings, really are? "Listen and see", and I will tell you more about Ezekiel's four angelic "chariots!"

It is evident from the above references that the various metaphors "living creatures, burning coals of fire, wheels within wheels and cheribim are all synonymous controlling, chariot-lelated metaphors. Ezekiel describes four angelic chariots as "living creatures"[etc.] to which he attributes various anatomical parts, such as wings, legs, heads, etc, each of which occupies a corresponding anatomical location and function.

Ez. 1:23:

Under the dome their wings were horizontal, the one [at an angle] towards the other. Each one had two wings that covered [concealed] its [central, hollow] body on the one quadrant [side], and each one had two wings that covered their bodies on the other quadrant."

Ez. 1:11:

"Their wings bisected [divided, separated] from the top [from above; as two upper wings], and two wings covered their bodies: and two of each of those wings joined one to the other [at a distal point; as two lower wings on each of four quadrants]."

This represents a visual and descriptive perspective of one half of the chariot, or two of its four sides or quadrants, as such better describes a wheel-shaped chariot. It is the descriprion of two upper wings and two lower wings.

Ez. 1:6:

"..and they each had four wings."

Ez. 1:8:

"And they had a man-like hand, under their wings on their four quadrants."

The Hebrew word for side/s is reva, and is derived from a root meaning to be quadrate, thus, the "wheel-shaped chariots"[discs] have four quadrants, or quarter-sections. While all English Bibles render it as "sides", since the chariot is clearly circualr, it should accordingly be rendered as "quadrants." Accordingly, if one is to describe the chariot as a whole, it would necessarily have "eight wings."

Greek variant in Ez.10:21:

Heb text: "…and they each had four wings."

Greek text: "…and they each had eight wings"

This describes the full "wheel-chariot." The Greeks knew how to add! 2+2+2+2=8

Ez. 1:22:

"Over the heads of the living creatures [chariots] was something that looked like a shining glass dome…"

Ez. 1:18:

"Their [hollow, arched] backs were tall and awesome, and they were encircled by round eye[-like] ports."

Ez. 10:2:

"And he said to the man clothed in linen; 'go within the spinning wheel, under the cherub."

Ez. 1:8:

"…and they had man-like hands under their wings on their four quadrants."

Ez. 10:7:

And the cherub [chariot] stretched forth a hand from within the cherubim [chariot]

Ez. 10:8:

"And the cherubim appeared to have a man-like hand under their wings." ["on their four quadrants" ; 1:8]

Ez. 10:6:

"And the man went in and stood within the spinning wheel. [Heb. "galgal", and not the word rendered in chapter 1 as wheel/e, which is "ophan". This wheel spins"! It is a rotating turbine wheel that is located on the chariot's underside. [see below]

Ez. 1:16:

"The appearance of the wheels and their construction, was like the [sparkling, amber] color of Tarshish [a cut, amber-colored gemstone; compare to the view of the chariot in the photo rendering!]; and they each had the same [double-convex, disc] shape: and their appearance and their operation looked like a [spinning] wheel [ophan] within the middle of another wheel [ophan].

Ez. 1:7:

"Their legs were riding, and looked like they were made out of polished brass [amber metal], and the soles of their feet were hoofed [round and flat] like those of a calf."

Psalm 68:17-18; my new translation:

"The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands multiplied; the Lord was among them at Sinai, in the heavenly Temple. You [Moses] were captured and lifted away into [heavenly] captivity…"

Jewish Midrashim:

"Twenty-two thousand chariots descended at Sinai, and each of them looked exactly like the ones Ezekiel saw."

"Twenty-two thousand chariots descended at Sinai, and each of them looked like the Merkabah."


Vs.4) "And I looked [up into the heavens], and saw a whirlwind come from out of the north; an immense cloud that was surrounded by brightness and fire flashing forth continuously in a circle, and in the middle of which there was something that looked like something like a round amber metallic object. 5) And from out of the middle of the fire there came what looked like four living creatures. This was their appearance; they had [within them] the form of a man 6) but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7) Their legs were rigid and the soles of their feet were [round and flat] like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like polished brass. 8) They each had a manlike hand [that was capable of opening and closing] under their wings on each of their four quadrants; and they each had their four faces and their four wings. 9) Their [upper and lower] wings coupled-together [as a double-convex saucer], and when they moved they did not turn their wings to either side; they just moved straight forward [in any direction]. 10) As for the likeness of their faces, they each had a humanlike face of a man in front, the face of a lion on the left quadrant, the face of an ox on the right quadrant, and the face of an eagle in the back. 11) Their [two] wings bisected [horizontally] from the top and two wings covered their bodies: and two wings of each [the upper and lower wings] joined one to the other [at a distal point]. 12) And they moved straight forward: wherever the [angelic] Spirit desired to go, the living creatures moved and, [in so doing], they did not turn [tilt their wings from a horizontal position]. 13) As for the likeness of the living creatures [as I perceived them in the heavens], they looked like, [amber-colored] burning coals of fire that had lights within them that flashed forth intermittently and the fire was bright, and from the fire there came forth [what appeared like] flashes of lightning. 14) And the living creatures darted back and forth [through the heavens] like flashes of lightning, without turning their wings [to either side] as they moved. 15) And as I looked, one of the living creatures landed/stood on the earth, [whereby I then perceived it as being] and behold, a wheel [was fastened] on the side of the four-faced living creature. 16) The appearance of the wheels and their construction was like the [sparkling, amber] color of [the gemstone] Tarshish; and they each had the same [circular] shape: and their appearance and their operation was as if there were a [spinning 10:2,6,13] wheel in the middle of a [larger] wheel. 17) And when they moved [through the heavens], they moved in any direction and in so doing, they did not turn their wings [from a horizontal position] as they moved. 18) As for their [circular, hollow backs [which looked like rings or rims] they were tall and awesome, and were encircled with [round] eyes [like ports]. 19) When the living creatures moved, the wheels [which joined to their side] moved beside them. And when the living creatures lifted up from off of the earth, the wheels also lifted up beside them. 20) Wherever the [angelic] Spirit desired to go, and the wheels rose along with them, for there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels. 21) When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved; and when the living creatures stood still [hovered] the wheels also stood, because there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels [who navigated them]. 22) And there was something that looked like an awesome, clear glass dome that spread-out over the heads of the living creatures. 23) And under the dome their wings were horizontal, the one [extended at an angle] towards the other; each of them had two wings that covered their [central, hollow] bodies on the one side [quadrant], each one had two wings that covered [concealed from view] their bodies on the other quadrant. 24) And when the living creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, which was like the sound of roaring water, like the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, like the tumultuous sound of an army: and when they stood [landed] upon the earth, they ceased their wings [from making the sound they made while in flight].


Vs. 2) And he spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, 'go within the spinning wheel, under the cherub. Vs. 6) When he commanded the man clothed in linen, saying: 'go within the wheel, underneath the cherubim', then he went in and stood within the spinning wheel. Vs.7) And the cherub opened his hand from within the cherubim… Vs. 8) The cherubim appeared to have a man-like hand under their wings.

I hope that you enjoyed your journey into antiquity and listening to the voices of the ancients, and to the words of the prophet Ezekiel, whose vision has inspired many of the ancients to seeking the awesome knowledge it contains. I also hope that you have learned form them, and you are now well-equipped to answer the question I ask!

So, I ask you, did the biblical prophet Elijah really, by means of the very same "whirlwind" that Ezekiel describes, literally "ascend into the heavens in a fiery chariot?"


*Each of the chariot's anatomical parts occupies a normal anatomical location and related anatomical function, unless otherwise stated in the text. There is one exception, which relates to the "encircling eyes" that are located within the chariot's "back."

The Head

The chariot's head-portion consists of a dome that is made of a clear, crystal-like material and occupies the chariot's superior-most position. It is part of the chariot's top-mounted, composite dome, the crystal head of which serves as a rotating, navigational dome.

The Four Faces

Three of the four faces are insignias that are part of a circular ring-like unit that connects superiorly to the clear domed head, occupying the chariot 's mid-portion, and inferiorly with stationary, hollow and arched back.

The face identified as "the face of a man", or " human face", is of the chariot's angelic pilot, who sits in the chariot's navigational dome.

The Back


The arched, hollow back occupies the lower part of the chariot's composite dome. It is encircled by eyes, which confirms the fact that it is also circular. The encircling eyes are explained below.

The Eyes The eyes surround the chariot's hollow, arched back. The eyes are round and function as ports for looking out from the chariot's hollow, top-mounted dome.

The Wings

The wings give the chariot its overall circular or wheel-like shape. The chariot has two horizontal wings on each of its four quadrants that extend at an angle, the one towards the other thus connecting together at the distal point. The wings are for flight.

The Wheel in the middle of the wheel The greater wheel references the chariot's overall shape, which is circular like a wheel. The wheel in the middle of the greater wheel is a spinning, turbine-like wheel, which functions as the chariot's propulsion system.

The Body

The body is the hollow, central portion of the chariot that is concealed by two horizontally-extended, connecting wings that present on each of the (circular) chariot's four quadrants and, like the composite dome, is an inhabitable part of the chariot. The opening hand that is located "under their wings on their four quadrants", the function of which is established below.

The Legs

The legs are straight and unbending, and provide support for the chariot while standing on the ground. Thus, they are incapable of movement or "walking" on the ground. The four legs are position underneath the chariot' s wings and are attached to the chariot's body-portion which is "covered" on all four quadrants by the "two covering wings." The legs are made of a polished amber-colored metal that are likened to highly polished brass.

The Feet

The feet are round and flat, like that sole of a calf's foot, and are made of the same material as the legs. Their round, flat, beveled shape provides the chariot the ability to stand in a level position on the ground.

The Hand

The opening and closing hand is located under the chariot's wings and functions as an entrance into its hollow, central body.

The Spirit of the Living Creature This references the angelic spirit(s), inhabitant(s), or living beings that are stated in the biblical text to be located "inside of the wheel." It also references the face of the man."


Biblical translations:

Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha

King James Bible

The Jewish Study Bible [Oxford]

Moffatt Bible [James Moffatt]

Tanakh [Jewish Bible ; Jewish Publication Society]

The Companion Bible [Kregel Publications, USA]

The Septuagint with Apocrypha [Greek and English ; Brenton]

Biblia Hebraica; Stuttgardencia

Biblia Hebraica; Leningradencia

Text sources:

"Faces of the Chariot; Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel's Vision" [David Halperin]

"Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament" [James Charlesworth]

From the series: "Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls" ;"Eschatology, Messianism and the Dead Sea Scrolls" [Abegg Jr, Scott, Flint]; essay, "Merkabah Mysticism in Qumran and in Paul."

The Gnostic Scriptures [Bentley, Layton]

The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition [Hebrew and Aramaic texts; F.G Martinez, E Tigchellar]

Translation reference sources:

Hebrew / Aramaic [Chaldee]:

Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon [B.D.B]

Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary [W.E. Vine]

Strong's Concordance of the Bible [James Strong]

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon [Baker]

The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon [Davidson]

Smith's Bible Dictionary [Nelson]


Thayer's Greek and English Lexicon

New Testament Greek [Hewett]

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Report of the Review of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions



The Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science (SC) was approached in late 2003 by a group of scientists who requested that the Department revisit the question of scientific evidence for low energy nuclear reactions. In 1987 Pons and Fleischman first reported the production of "excess" heat in a Pd electrochemical cell, and postulated that this was due to D-D fusion (D=deuterium), sometimes referred to as "cold fusion." The work was reviewed in 1989 by the Energy Research Advisory Board (ERAB) of the DOE. ERAB did not recommend the establishment of special programs within DOE devoted to the science of low energy fusion, but supported funding of peer-reviewed experiments for further investigations. Since 1989, research programs in cold fusion have been supported by various universities, private industry, and government agencies in several countries.

Review and Process

In response to the above request, the Office of Science agreed to a peer review of the experimental data and supporting theory since the 1989 ERAB review. The scientists who made this request were asked to generate a review document that identified the most significant experimental observations and publications, and those areas where additional work would appear to be warranted. This document, entitled "New Physical Effects in Metal Deuterides," was prepared by Professor Peter Hagelstein of MIT, Dr. Michael McKubre of SRI International, Professor David Nagel of George Washington University, Dr. Talbot Chubb of Research Systems Inc., and Mr. Randall Hekman of Hekman Industries (hereafter referred to as the proposers). Together with supplemental material, said document was submitted to DOE in July 2004 (Attachment 1).

The Basic Energy Sciences and Nuclear Physics Offices in the DOE Office of Science conducted a peer review of the submitted material in a manner typical for a DOE sponsored university or laboratory research program. The review had two components. First, the review document received by DOE was sent out for peer review by mail. Nine scientists with appropriate scientific backgrounds in experimental and theoretical nuclear physics, material science, and electrochemistry were identified by DOE, and were given approximately one month to review the report and supplementary material. The second part of the review consisted of a one-day review conducted on August 23, 2004. The reviewers consisted of nine additional scientists chosen by DOE for their expertise in relevant fields. Anonymous comments from the mail peer review referred to above were provided to members of the reviewers prior to the presentations. Oral presentations were made to the reviewers by research scientists, chosen by the authors of the review document. Six research groups gave approximately one hour presentations on the work being performed in their laboratories. Individual comments from reviewers were requested following the presentations.

In total, 18 individual reviewer comments were received by DOE.

Report of the Review of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions

New Physical Effects in Metal Deuterides
Review document submitted by requesters

Optional remedies abound to duck the flu


Friday, December 03, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

By Virginia A. Smith
Knight Ridder Newspapers

PHILADELPHIA — One winter about 20 years ago, as Barbara Dively prepared to pay for an armful of pills, lozenges and other flu provisions at her Plymouth Meeting, Pa., drugstore, the pharmacist brushed it all aside.

"You only need one thing," he told her. It was something Dively never had heard of, but that has been the sole flu remedy in her family medicine chest ever since: Oscillococcinum, Oscillo for short, a best seller in France and an increasingly popular brand in the United States.

It's made from the liver and heart of Anas barbariae, the Muscovy duck, otherwise known for its lean, flavorful meat. "We thought it was crazy, but it worked for flu," said Dively, 63, of Lansdale, Pa.

As the flu season rolls in and the vaccine shortage continues, over-the-counter Oscillo is one of many possible flu-fighting alternatives being explored by consumers. Other possibilities include echinacea, zinc, garlic and Vitamin C.

It's a confusing morass of products and therapies, many considered mainstream in other parts of the world but unproven by Western scientific standards. Federal regulators don't vouch for their effectiveness, either.

Still, the appetite grows. For flu and many other illnesses, more and more Americans want to treat themselves — and do it with remedies that replace or augment conventional Western ones.

Oscillo, which one independent analysis found short-circuited the flu by only a few hours, is a homeopathic remedy. Like other flu treatments derived from duck organs, such as Dolicoccil, Airborne and Hyland's, it is part of a therapeutic system developed in the late 1700s by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician.

Homeopathy uses small doses of plant, animal or mineral substances to stimulate self-healing. It is based on the "principle of similars," which holds that a substance that can cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can cure similar symptoms in an unhealthy person.

In the case of Oscillo, the Muscovy duck's heart and liver are thought to be reservoirs for the flu virus.

Although many conventional doctors still find Hahnemann's notions implausible, homeopathy had a prominent place in 19th-century health care and now is part of the renewed interest in alternative medicine. Also in that category are herbal remedies, diet supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and yoga, traditional Chinese medicine and natural therapies.

Survey on alternatives

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this year that 36 percent of 31,000 Americans surveyed said they had used some form of alternative medicine during the previous year. Most sought relief from back and neck problems, colds, joint pain or depression, and most also used conventional treatments.

Spending on alternative medicine is estimated at $36 billion to $47 billion a year, which sends critics such as Stephen Barrett into orbit.

The retired Allentown, Pa., psychiatrist, who runs the Web site Quackwatch.org, calls alternative medicine for flu and all else "quack nonsense."

The Food and Drug Administration treats over-the-counter vitamins, minerals and herbs as foods, not drugs, and does not vouch for their efficacy. If a product's claims are proved false or misleading, however, or the product is deemed unsafe, the agency can pull it from the market.

Homeopathic remedies are regulated but held to a lesser standard than conventional medicines.

Dively, who in 20 years has gone from student to teacher of homeopathy, responds serenely to the naysayers. "Once you have a few of these healing experiences," she said, "you don't really care what other people think."

Although Dively, her husband, John, and three grown children have used conventional medicines, they prefer homeopathy for virtually everything — arnica for swollen ankles, ruta for injured knees, Tarantula cubensis for spider bites, bryonia for arthritis and Anas barbariae, Oscillo's active ingredient, at the first sign of flu.

The Divelys swear by them all, although there appear to be no scientific studies of any of them except Oscillo.

Studies reviewed

The independent Cochrane Collaboration, which evaluates the evidence behind health claims, reviewed seven studies of Oscillo and concluded that it cannot prevent flu but that it can shorten its duration slightly — by 0.28 days or 6.7 hours. The nonprofit Cochrane called the data "promising" but said most of the studies were too small and the evidence too weak to support Oscillo as a "first-line treatment" of flu.

Boiron, Oscillo's French manufacturer, said studies show that 63 percent of patients who took its product at the outset had fewer chills and headaches, lower fever, and less stiffness and pain within 48 hours.

Boiron does not claim that Oscillo prevents flu, said spokeswoman Alissa Gould, who estimated that U.S. sales of the product would hit $15.4 million this year, a 27 percent increase over last year.

The back-and-forth over Oscillo is typical of the debate over alternative remedies, which mainstream medical researchers are beginning to study more closely.

Among them is Philippe Szapary, an internist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who is looking at dietary supplements and cardiovascular disease.

Some alternative treatments do work, Szapary said, such as Ginkgo biloba for blocked leg arteries and fish oil for heart disease in certain high-risk groups. But the field is complex for researchers, to say nothing of consumers, who must evaluate a universe of confusing information to decide what works.

"It's mind-boggling," he said.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

Physics News Update 711

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 711 December 1, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein

THE TOP PHYSICS STORY FOR 2004. For us it was the detection of spin at the single-electron level using a cantilever device---a combination of MRI and AFM technologies---known as a magnetic resonance force microscope (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/692-1.html). Other top physics stories included the following: the detection of large galaxies located at a very early period in the history of the universe (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/668-1.html); reports of a "supersolid," a superfluid in solid form (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/669-1.html; http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/699-2.html); progress in the pursuit of quark-gluon plasma in heavy-ion collisions (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/669-2.html); progress in getting fermi atoms to form superfluids (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/671-1.html, http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/681-1.html); evidence, not yet confirmed, for element 115 (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/672-1.html); new support for an accelerating cosmic expansion (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/675-1.html); lensing of microwaves using a flat panel of left-handed material (www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/675-2.html); the discovery of a planet-like object, Sedna, the most distant object observed in the solar system (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/677-1.html); the first pure-carbon magnet, made from carbon nanofoam (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/678-1.html); quantum entanglement of an atom and a photon (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/680-2.html); parity violations in electron-electron scattering (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/682-2.html); persistent holes appearing in a shaken fluid (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/684-3.html); amorphous steel (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/689-2.html); one-dimensional water (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/689-1.html); radioactive lifetime for an element is altered by enclosure in a buckyball (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/700-2.html); (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/689-1.html); five-photon entanglement (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/690-2.html); Cassini arrives at Saturn (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/690-3.html); optical Hall effect (aip.org/pnu/2004/split/693-1.html); 3D medical imaging with neutrons (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/694-1.html); acoustic electric generator (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/695-2.html); smallest atomic clock (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/698-1.html); CERN's 50th anniversary (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/701-3.html; an antenna for visible light (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/701-1.html); the 2004 Nobel physics prize going to three of the pioneers of the theory of quantum chromodynamics (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/703-1.html); some of the network physics behind book bestsellers (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/709-1.html); spintronic Hall effect (Science online, Nov 11); a nuclear experiment producing 1400 different isotopes (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/710-1.html).

SOFT-METAL WHISKERS, tiny metallic protrusions that grow like hair from soft metals, are a problem that can cause electronic short circuits leading, in some cases, to the failure of heart pacemakers, avionic relays, and satellites. What to do with the unwanted whiskers---and, in the first place, understanding how they form---is a problem that's been around for fifty years. Now, researchers at Drexel University have arrived at what they think is an explanation for the cause of whiskers and a potential method for alleviating them. Basically, the whiskers form because of reactions between oxygen and the soft metal such as tin or indium. The reaction results in a volume increase that pushes the whiskers out. The whiskers that form do not have to break off in order to be troublesome; sometimes they cause mischief merely by bridging two neighboring electronic pathways that are supposed to be insulated from each other. The Drexel scientists believe that an oxygen-barrier coating on pertinent surfaces should prevent whiskers from developing. (Barsoum et al. Physical Review Letters, 12 November 2004; contact Elizabeth Hoffman, enh22@drexel.edu)

NON-US FIRST-YEAR PHYSICS GRAD STUDENTS at US universities are fractionally fewer than they used to be. Rising pretty steadily over the past 30 years to a high in 2001 of 53% among first-year physics graduate students, the foreign fraction dropped to 46% in 2003. The total number of first year students (US plus foreign) rose to 3076, the largest number since 1994. Who sends the most physics grad students to US departments? China accounts for 29% of the first year students in 2003, the India/Pakistan/SriLanka/Nepal/Bangladesh grouping accounted for 16%, Western Europe 13%, and Eastern and Central Europe 12%. (More information on the reason for the foreign fall-off, on sub-discipline choices, career expectations, fraction of women, sources of financial support, and so forth, can be gotten from the AIP report "Graduate Student Report: First-Year Physics and Astronomy Students in 2002 and 2003." stats@aip.org; contact Patrick Mulvey, 301-209-3070; www.aip.org/statistics.)

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.

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