17 August 2001
1. THE AUGUST EFFECT: MICHAEL GUILLEN MEETS DEEPAK CHOPRA.
With Congress on its August break and the President in Crawford, TX,
the media is left covering pet stories and the relations between
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Even physics stories
get warmed over. Monday, on ABC's "Downtown," Michael Guillen,
ABC Science Correspondent
(WN 3 Apr 98),
reported on Athe power of distance healing." His starting point was a two year-old
study at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City that
claimed remote intercessory prayer by total strangers improved
the health of heart patients . It was dismissed as statistical nonsense
(WN 29 Oct 99),
but Guillen, whose physics PhD is from
Cornell, went deeper. He consulted Deepak Chopra: "Chopra's book
about God and physics says these praying experiments prove there
are healing forces in nature that science is only beginning to
understand." Chopra clarified this: "What physicists are saying
to us is that there is a realm of reality that goes beyond the
physical, which we can influence from a distance." To demonstrate
this, Chopra concentrated on a remote video image of Guillen, who
was asked to clear his mind. Guillen complied effortlessly.
2. DISTANCE HEALING: EARLIER STUDY WAS OVERLOOKED.
Neither the study of intercessory prayer nor Michael Guillen mentioned any
contrary results, such as Sir John Galton's classic study of
longevity of English monarchs. Since they head the Church of
England, the daily Order for Morning Prayer includes orisons for
their health and long life, but Galton found no longevity effect
compared to the general population, despite this concentration of
prayers. OK, so even WN has trouble finding August stories.
3. DEFENSE BUDGET: MAKING ROOM FOR NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE.
The sharp drop in revenues due to the economic slowdown, coupled with
the high cost of National Missile Defense and a tax refund, is
making it difficult to keep defense spending within the strict
limits of the Procrustean bed Congress itself created. There has
been talk of major force reductions involving warships, aircraft
wings or army divisions, but the Washington Post reported today
that Secretary Rumsfeld may let the military branches themselves
decide which body parts they would prefer to have lopped off.
4. OMB BOSS STRUGGLES TO KEEP LID ON SPENDING:
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been
sparring with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to
keep federal spending in check. The White House had planned to
use the massive tax cut as a tool to cap appropriations. Trouble
is the anemic economy has so eroded federal revenues that the
Medicare surplus is now in jeopardy. So Daniels has begun to
jawbone congressional leaders, warning of presidential vetoes if
appropriations bills aren't trimmed back to the level of the
White House request. September could spell trouble for science.