Friday, October 11, 2002
1. LIAR, LIAR: ACADEMY PANEL DISCOVERS
THE POLYGRAPH TELLS LIES.
The polygraph looks for abrupt increases in heart rate, blood pressure
and perspiration. The polygraph is, therefore, a highly reliable detector
of orgasms. But does it detect lies? Only if you're lying about having
an orgasm. After a hundred years of exonerating the likes of Aldrich Ames
and ruining the careers of nameless thousands, the Wen Ho Lee case led
the Administration to call for a huge expansion of polygraph testing.
To its credit, the DOE called instead for testing the polygraph. The National
Academy of Sciences convened a study panel, and its report was released
this week. The report confirms, as WN has maintained, that no spy has
ever been caught using the polygraph (WN 05
Apr 02). "Too many loyal employees may be falsely judged deceptive,
or too many major security threats could go undetected," the report said,
warning against reliance on the tests. The next day, New Mexico senators,
Jeff Bingamen (D)and Pete Domenici (R), called on DOE to abolish the tests.
And that's no lie.
2. THE PRIZE: OPENING NEW WINDOWS ON
This year's prize went to senior physicists. Riccardo Giaccone, a US citizen
who was born in Genoa and studied in Milan, was awarded half the prize
for founding X-ray astronomy. He was the first to detect a source of X
rays outside the solar system and constructed the first X-ray telescope.
He is a Fellow of the APS and President of Associated Universities Inc.
The other half of the prize was split between Raymond Davis Jr and Masatoshi
Koshiba. Davis was the first to detect solar neutrinos, thus proving that
solar energy comes from fusion. A Fellow of the APS, he is Professor Emeritus
in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at the Univer. of Pennsylvania.
Masatoshi Koshiba, a citizen of Japan, confirmed Davis's results, constructing
Kamiokande, the world's largest neutrino detector, leading to the field
of neutrino astronomy.
3. HERBAL LOW: FDA STOPS SALE OF STREET
The dietary supplement industry has been almost above the law since passage
of the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act. The only restriction
is that natural substances not be marketed as cures for anything. But
the FDA says that herbal substances marketed as street drug alternatives
are not meant to supplement the diet. The FDA now says selling a combination
of ephedra and caffeine as "herbal ecstacy" (WN
16 Aug 02) is against the law.
4. ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: IT'S NOT EASY
When anthrax struck, we were assured AM could help. Short on antibiotics?
Take colloidal silver. There are a few teensy side effects: you can develop
argyria, a permanent condition that turns your skin blue. The Libertarian
Senate candidate in Montana was one of those who turned blue. Oh, and
it doesn't prevent infection.