Friday, December 27, 2002
1. NUCLEAR WEAPONS: NORTH KOREA JABS
THE U.S. WITH A SHARP STICK.
So here we are, threatening to go to war with Iraq over weapons of mass
destruction, whether UN inspectors find evidence or not, when North Korea
decides to rub our nose in it by restarting an old plutonium production
facility, and expelling UN inspectors. North Korea was one of the 185
signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, they claim
the agreement was voided by the oil-for-nuclear-abstinence deal struck
with the U.S. in 1994. Having threatened the “axis of evil”
with peremptory strikes, the U.S. is under pressure to follow through.
2. HUMAN CLONING: RAELIANS ANNOUNCE
THE BIRTH OF BABY “EVE”.
Do you recall the controversy stirred up by physicist Richard Seed, PhD
Harvard ‘53, when he announced his intention to clone the first
human (WN 9 Jan 98)? We haven’t
heard anything from Seed lately, but today the scientific director of
Clonaid says her company has created the first human clone. Clonaid was
founded by Raelians, a religious group that believes extraterrestrials
created humans. There are no details on how the supposed cloning of Eve
was achieved, but physicist Michael Guillen, PhD Cornell, has been selected
by Clonaid to verify the claim. Guillen has just the credentials Clonaid
needs. In 1997 as the science correspondent for ABC Good Morning America,
Guillen did a three-part series, “Fringe or Frontier”.Of precognition
he concluded “these guys are not flakes”; on astrology, “I
think we’re just going to have to suspend judgement”; on psychokinesis,
“you have to take it seriously” (WN
3 Oct 97). Indeed, Guillen covered everything from James Patterson’s
cold fusion cell to Kirlian photographs of the human aura with the same
credulity. A PhD in physics, after all, is not an inoculation against
foolishness. We called ABC, but were told emphatically that their relationship
with Guillen ended nearly a year ago.
3. HERBAL REALITY CHECK: TV’s
TOP MEDICAL UNDISCOVERIES OF 2002.
This is the week network news programs like to reflect on the top stories
of the past year. The health message from ABC News was that good science
can trump widespread beliefs: the food pyramid has been revised to elevate
the importance of good fats, hormone replacement therapy has been found
to increase risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke, and recently, the
world’s most widely used herbal supplements were found to be ineffective.
“Echinacea, which is used to treat the common cold; St. Johns Wort,
used for depression; and Ginko biloba, thought to sharpen memory, were
all shown to be ineffective in studies published this year.” You
may recall that CBS Evening News reported that herbal supplements are
untested, impure and often harmful (WN
1 Nov 02). The newly skeptical treatment of herbal supplements on
network TV is attributable to the rigorous testing sponsored by the NIH
Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (WN
23 Aug 02).