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The Politics of Academic Scientists: Democrats Vastly Outnumber Republicans

A news item in Science1 entitled “Academia as a ‘One Party’ System” will probably attract the attention of conservative talk show hosts: Universities in the United States are very keen on fostering “diversity” as long as it’s not ideological diversity, according to the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a conservative group of academics.  Last year […]

Will it Become Unlawful to Think Critically?

The legality of disclaimers in biology textbooks will be decided by a U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Georgia.  A judge will hear the case Nov. 8 about stickers the Cobb County school board put in the books that say, “This textbook contains material on evolution.  Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin […]

Adult Stem Cells Continue to Work Miracle Cures

Chalk up two more amazing successes for adult stem cells (not derived from human embryos, like the controversial ES stem cells): 1. Blindness:  The BBC News reported that stem cells from the back of the eyeball might be able to restore sight to those afflicted with macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. 2. Parkinson’s […]

Scientific Supporters of ES Stem Cell Research Fear Future Abuses

“How would you know if a human brain was trapped in a mouse’s body?”  This frightful and intriguing question opened an article in Nature this week.1  More on that in a minute.     Last week, in the Oct. 14 issue,2 a Nature editorial on California’s Stem Cell Proposition 71 stated that “the proposal is […]

Ghost of Hitler Still Haunts Western Medicine

“During the 1930s, the German medical establishment was admired as a world leader in innovative public health and medical research.  The question we want to examine is: ‘How could science be co-opted in such a way that doctors as healers evolved into killers and medical research became torture?’”  The question was posed by Dr. Alan […]

Grand Canyon Creation Book Stays on Shelves

The ruckus over a creation-oriented geology book on Grand Canyon at the Visitor Center (see 01/18/2004 headline) is back in the news.  The Environmental Media Services reports that plans for a review have been shelved by the park: Despite telling members of Congress and the public that the legality and appropriateness of the National Park […]

Another Thing to Worry About: Synthetic Biology

Philip Ball is no alarmist, but as consultant editor of Nature,1 he had sobering words last week about things that could go wrong in the new field of synthetic biology, where scientists are tinkering with cells to create artificial life forms: The expanding toolbox of ways to re-engineer microbes – and even construct new ones […]

Do ES Stem Cells Prevent Heart Disease?

The promise of stem cells, whether embryonic or adult, is in their power to differentiate into any type of somatic cell.  Although adult stem cells have racked up an impressive number of therapeutic successes,* embryonic (ES) stem cells have only been promised to do so – until now.  In Science Oct. 8,1 Cornell scientists coaxed […]

Big Science Portrays Embryonic Stem Cell Issue as Political Litmus Test

The number of articles in scientific journals on embryonic stem cell research (also called “therapeutic cloning”) has been on the rise, particularly those referring to Britain’s or John Kerry’s support of it (see 08/11/2004 editorial), and Germany’s or Bush’s opposition to it.  Though science journals are expected to be above politics, on this issue their […]

Clean-Air Laws and Tree-Planting Cause Increased Air Pollution?

A major source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), precursors of ozone pollution, is tree leaves, says a report in EurekAlert.  Surprisingly, the increase in trees due to abandoned farms has worsened the pollution.  Industry-caused nitrogen-oxygen (NOx) compounds also lead to ozone, and it is not clear how these sources interact.  Nevertheless, it appears that reductions […]

Recounting the Risks of Critiquing Darwinism

Lynn Vincent has an article in World Magazine This Week recounting the tribulations suffered by Roger DeHart when he tried to include material critical of Darwinism in his high school biology classroom in Burlington, Washington.  (His story is featured in the film Icons of Evolution.)  It tells how the NCSE pressured two schools to forbid […]

Letter: The Case Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Sometimes the letters to the editor are the most interesting parts of a magazine.  Read what John T. Durkin says about embryonic stem cell research in response to an April letter by another scientist: In his Letter “Human being redux” (16 April, p. 388),2 M. S. Gazzaniga constructs his defense of human embryonic stem cell […]

SETI Needs to Read, Not Listen

What technology would an extra-terrestrial intelligence use to communicate with us?  For fifty years, the search has presumed that an ET would use radio waves to announce “we’re here.”  Not a good idea, says a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Rutgers.  He thinks investors on distant planets would put their money not on […]

Adult Stem Cells Might Restore Hearing

A report from Marine Biological Laboratory found that adult stem cells show promise for restoring inner ear hair cells (see 08/09/2004 headline).  The tests, done on mice, might lead to treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders that affect 28 million Americans.     A few days earlier, Jonathan Knight, in Nature, worried over the […]

What Would a Man Born Blind See With New Eyes?

The Bible records an instance of a man born blind miraculously healed, who was immediately able to walk and recognize things.  Scientists had doubted whether a blind person suddenly able to see would understand the world of vision at all, or be able to make any sense of his new sense.  Then a real world […]
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