Friday, 3 April 98 Washington, DC
1. BUDGET: SENATE RESOLUTION CALLS FOR DOUBLING CIVILIAN SCIENCE.
Just before leaving town for a long spring break, the senators
passed the first balanced budget in 30 years. Science was not
forgotten. An amendment introduced by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and
co-sponsored by Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
states that: "It is the sense of the Senate that the assumptions
underlying the function totals in this budget resolution assume
that expenditures for civilian science and technology programs in
the Federal Budget will double over the period from FY 1998 to FY
2008." A budget resolution simply sets caps on broad spending
categories -- it's a long way to an appropriation in the fall. A
competing House budget won't be unveiled until after the break.
2. MORE DOUBLING: LEDERMAN OP-ED OBJECTS TO THE TOBACCO LINK.
In his budget, President Clinton turned to the tobacco settlement to
create a 21st Century Research Fund -- no tobacco deal, no fund.
The Chicago Tribune this week ran an Op-Ed by Nobel Laureate and
Fermi Lab director emeritus Leon Lederman, calling on President
Clinton to support the Research Investment Act (S.1305) as a
smoke-free alternative. A tobacco tax may be a great idea, but
science deserves an increase regardless. No "Smoke for Science"
bumper sticker for Lederman, who says he's too old to start.
3. HUMAN ENERGY FIELD: SCIENTIST, AGE 9, TESTS TOUCH THERAPY.
More than 40,000 health professionals have been trained in TT and
it's offered by 70 hospitals in the US. And yet no one had ever
checked to see if practitioners can, as they claim, tactilely
sense such a field -- until now. The Journal of the American
Medical Association this week published the research of a fourth-grade girl. For a science fair
project, the little girl persuaded
21 touch therapists to submit to a beautifully simple test. In
280 trials, the 21 scored 44%. According to the editor of JAMA,
reviewers found the study to be "solid gold." The James Randi
Educational Foundation has been offering $1M to anyone who can
pass a similar test -- only one tried
(WN 27 Mar 98)
, but a 9-year old must have seemed less
threatening. The girl, Emily Rosa
of Loveland, CO, now 11, plans to take on magnet therapy next.
4. 1997 PIGASUS AWARDS: COVETED FLYING-PIG TROPHIES ANNOUNCED.
The annual awards from the James Randi Educational Foundation are
announced by telepathy and delivered by psychokinesis.
To the scientist who did the silliest thing related to the
occult, supernatural or paranormal, went to Dr. Michael Guillen
of ABC News for his "indiscriminate promotion of pseudoscience
(WN 23 Jan 98).
Category 2: To the funding agency
that supported the most useless studies of occult, supernatural
or paranormal claims went to the Office of Alternative Medicine.
With a $20M/yr budget, it never occurred to OAM to fund a test of
touch therapy, or any other alternative claim
(WN 1 Aug 97.)