Friday, February 23, 2007
Even as these words are being turned into electrons, Senator John
McCain is in Seattle delivering the keynote luncheon speech to
the Discovery Institute. Eighteen months ago, just as the Dover
School Board trial involving "intelligent design" was about to
start, McCain came out in favor of teaching "all points of view,"
(WN 2 Sep 05) . We have no
idea what he is saying now, but it doesn't really matter; McCain
is a master at the art of changing positions between breakfast
and lunch. Apparently, however, he has decided, for the moment,
to challenge Sam Brownback for the support of creationists.
More than five years ago WN called attention to a paper in the
Journal of Reproductive Medicine in which researchers at Columbia
claimed prayers doubled the success of in-vitro fertilization
(WN 5 Oct 01) . If total
strangers on their knees halfway around the world could suspend
the laws of nature, it would be the end of science. WN suggested
we pray the study is wrong. Behold! Our prayers were answered:
The lead author took his name off the paper and resigned as chair
of gynecology; another author landed in prison on an unrelated
fraud conviction. The editor of JRM still refused to retract the
article. This week, the remaining author, a businessman who owns
fertility clinics in Los Angeles and Seoul, was charged by the
editor of Fertility and Sterility with plagiarizing the work of a
student in Korea on a different paper. The avenging angel was
Bruce Flamm, M.D., UC Irvine, who has hounded the authors,
Columbia, and JRM relentlessly since the paper was published.
Ironically, even as the fraudulent prayer study was going on in
the Columbia medical school, a professor of behavioral medicine
at Columbia, Richard Sloan, wrote an important book condemning
those who pander to a superstitious public by claiming to show
that religion is good for your health (St. Martin's Press, 2006).
Newspapers today carried pictures of President Bush visiting a
Novozymes laboratory in North Carolina, which is developing
enzymes to make cellulosic ethanol. Squinting at a flask, the
President exclaimed, "So this is like a distillery!" He seemed
to acknowledge that ethanol from corn can never fill the need.
The Daily Mail has obtained a 2002 Ministry of Defense report.
Because of the "high value" of finding Bin Laden, MoD resorted to
the use of "novices" when "known psychics" refused.