Friday, October 30, 2009
For eight years WN has tracked the case of the infamous Columbia Prayer
in which it was claimed that intercessory prayer doubled the pregnancy rate of women
undergoing in vitro fertilization. It was, of course, a scam. A
California physician, Bruce Flamm, thought Columbia should disavow the
work, and the Journal of Reproductive Medicine should delete the clearly
fraudulent paper; neither happened. The response of one of the authors,
the wealthy owner of several fertility clinics in the US and Korea, was to
sue Flamm for everything he had. Flamm never blinked. This week the
Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court decision tossing out the lawsuit.
In doing so, the Court also vindicated Thales of Miletus, who in the
course of explaining a total eclipse of the sun in 585 B.C. concluded that
every observable effect has a physical cause.
When China introduced its One Child per Family policy 30 years ago there
were gasps of horror from the religious right. Although there were many
exceptions to the one child rule, the policy was indeed draconian. The
utterly mad policies of Mao Zedong left few options if a humanitarian
catastrophe on a scale not seen on Earth were to be avoided. The result
was an economic miracle and perhaps a human rights miracle as well.
According to a new study by the London School of Economics for the Optimum
Population Trust of Great Britain, the policy resulted in the avoidance of
something like 300 million births - the population of the United States.
The Chinese argue that over the long run their avoided births will
contribute more to reduction of carbon emissions than any amount of carbon
sequestration. They're probably right.
A paper in the Journal of Environment and Urbanization on Sep 28 points
out that one sixth of the world's people are so poor that they produce no
significant CO2 emissions. Is anyone surprised? The lesson many people
have drawn from this is that because the poor are not contributing to
global warming we don't need to trouble ourselves with their fecundity.
Well, so much for trying to raise the wretched masses to a higher level.
We must keep them poor lest they start polluting like the rest of us. What
happened to raising them up?
A call to 911 on a cell phone saved my life when a tree fell on me, but I
still refuse to carry one of the damned things. They are rude and
obtrusive and they go off in my class when I'm lecturing - but they don't
cause cancer. Yes, I know, there's another study that says they do.
Cancer can result from mutant strands of DNA caused by radiation, but not
by radiation in the microwave spectrum. It's not nearly energetic enough,
and that's that. These are not studies done in a laboratory; they are
statistical studies cooked from phone-company records and seasoned with a
handful of celebrity anecdotes. Almost everybody uses a cell phone today.
Is brain cancer a new problem?