Friday, August 16, 2002
1. COOK BOOK: "FRESH AIR" OFFERS A RECIPE FOR STALE BALONEY.
Two weeks ago, WN dumped as much cold water as one page can hold on the
anti-gravity nonsense stirred up by Nick Cook's goofy book, "The Hunt
for Zero Point." We braced for sensational stories in the National Enquirer
and on Art Bell, but where does Cook turn up? Gasp, on NPR's Fresh Air.
"I am not a scientist," Nick Cook admits in a brilliant understatement,"but
I enlisted some help." So who did he enlist? "There are scientists working
right on the cutting edge...Dr.Hal Puthoff is pioneering this whole zero
point energy field..." Well, there's a name we know. One of the first
scientists to vouch for spoon-bender Uri Geller, Puthoff headed the CIA's
remote viewing program, and is said to have sent his own mind to explore
the surface of the planet Mercury (WN
11 Mar 94). Guest host Barbara Bogaev, who also is not a scientist,
asks how anti-gravity machines work? They all spin, Nick Cook explains.
"Some theories say if you spin this zero point energy field that exists
all around us, some weird and magical things start popping out, one of
which is an anti-gravitational effect." There you have it -- an authoritative
explanation on NPR.
2. NASA WAGER: PASCAL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN HUNTSVILLE.
Research managers at Marshall Space Flight Center still dream of
the payoff if the Podkletnov gravity shield worked. Marshall
scientists who are willing to talk, give it no chance at all.
3. HERBAL HIGHS: "NATURAL" IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR SAFE.
The 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act, passed in response
to a massive lobbying campaign by the supplement industry, turned the
clock back a hundred years to the days of the traveling snake-oil salesmen.
It exempted "natural" dietary supplements from proof of safety, efficacy,
or purity. The only requirement is that they not be promoted as preventing
or treating disease (WN 7 Jan 00).
Not to worry, backers such as Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) insisted. If any
problems show up, the FDA can take a supplement off the market. How does
the FDA do this? They must go to court to demonstrate that the substance
is harmful. "When the bodies start piling up," as one FDA official put
it. Well, in the case of ephedra, the pile of bodies is higher than anyone
knew. The leading supplier of ephedra, Metabolife International, was required
to report all consumer complaints of bad reactions to the FDA. But it
now turns out that the company had more than 1300 undisclosed complaints
involving ephedra, about 80 of which involved death or serious injury.
Ephedra is a herbal stimulant, sold on the internet as herbal "Ecstacy,"
the street drug it chemically resembles. The FDA has fought unsuccessfully
to ban ephedra for years. The Department of Justice has now undertaken
a criminal investigation of Metabolife, but the real solution is to repeal
the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act.