Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Age Drivel

New Age Drivel

(a random collection from the internet)

Any idea what the world be like when all the masks of leading (manipulative) formulae are transparent for every being and everyone knows how to use DNA language?

The growth of intelligence takes place by using the energy given to explore the possibilities while standing in the safe space.

There comes a time when illusion becomes apparent and truths surface, like learning to ride a bicycle adjusting to these shifts in conciousness will add salt and pepper to an ever expanding database of wisdom.

The environment around you, being the emmanation of your mind, you end up in whatever state of mind you nurture (create imprints for).

Each observation, however, is couched in mentalizations of time and location and therefore ostensible sequence. Our selective, sequential focusing creates the illusion of events happening. Nothing in the world causes anything else. All is intertwined in a holographic dance where each element influences every other element, but does not "cause" it.

All religions, esoteric schools are in essence the Science of the Being and the Universe - not all schools are created equal, always directly observe the subject you are being taught about...

I see biological parallels between our lives and the laws governing the fluctuations of the universe. Therefore we have everything, insight, and order to be gained through exploration of the quality and phenomena of of existence, including each others’.

If you were given great insight to all and than givin the opportunity to then move on to another phase of exixtance or stay here and do what you could to help advance this brief moment of time what and why would you do?

The world has manifested many festerd wounds as people. There is a natural cycle. Everything has to pass through the fire in order to realize the fire is an illusion. It is only real inside of you. That’s real enough for me. Don’t stoke and you won’t get burned.

Tomorrow is hidden in our past... the things that are done are repeated like a spiral or a funnel... our choices decide the direction... what are we choosing... Life or death, or maybe both because one leads to the other and the other to the other... Recycling itself from one paradigm to the other...which team will one choose to reside on is the question that I pose?


I have recently started to think about things in terms of energy instead of specifics and it is simplifying my thought system.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Some Quotations on Religion

Some Quotations on Religion

President George Washington - "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

President Thomas Jefferson - "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."

President James Madison - "In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."

President Abraham Lincoln - "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession."

President William Howard Taft - "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

President Theodore Roosevelt - "I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools."

Benjamin Franklin - "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible."

Francis Bacon – "Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men."

Mary Wollstonecraft – ". . . the being cannot be termed rational or virtuous, who obeys any authority, but that of reason."

Thomas Edison - "Religion is all bunk. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."

Voltaire - "Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror."

Thomas Paine - "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

Elizabeth Cady-Stanton - "The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion."

Mark Twain - "I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force."

Bertrand Russell - "So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence."

Susan B. Anthony - "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

Clarence Darrow – "I do not believe in God because I do not believe in Mother Goose."

H. L. Mencken – "Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth."

Simone de Beauvoir – "I cannot be angry at God, in whom I do not believe."

Isaac Asimov – "To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today."

Gloria Steinem – "It's an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous."

Douglas Adams – "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Skepchick Authors Interview--Part 1

Author Interview: Part I, The Top 10 Myths About Evolution, from Skepchick Magazine

March 23rd, 2007 by writerdd

Here's the first part of my interview with Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan, authors of The Top 10 Myths About Evolution.

This is a great little book that's fun to read and jam packed with information. If you're ever involved in conversations about evolution, or you just want to know more about the different issues that have been in the news lately but you don't want to get a degree in evolutionary biology, this book is for you. It's a quick read, and because each chapter is like a short article, you don't have to have an entire weekend free. You can read a bit at a time when you have a few minutes of free time.

I first asked the authors some general questions about why they wrote the book and what their goals were for this book, as well as their outlook on some recent political issues.

Skepchick: Writing and publishing a book is a lot of work. These tasks are not usually taken on lightly. What inspired you to write this book?

Cameron M. Smith: I urgently needed to write the book. For years, in my introductory archaeology courses I was finding that a lot of freshmen and even sophomores — even those who believed in evolution — had some pretty shocking misconceptions about what it was, and how it worked. I wanted to at least be able to say to myself, "I'm doing everything I can about this slide back into Medieval thought."

Charles Sullivan: In our many discussions together we had both been bemoaning postmodernist relativism, with its view that truth is in the eye of the beholder. And we agreed that science and rational thinking are how to get at the truth. Then some of the intelligent design stuff started popping up in the news, and we would email links about the news stories to each other, and bemoan some more about the dreadful state of scientific literacy in America, most specifically related to how evolution works. And then I guess we just got tired of bemoaning and doing nothing, so we figured we'd throw our hats into the ring, as it were, by trying to make a contribution to scientific literacy. And, of course, there's something quite sexy about being a published author.

Skepchick: Many people are afraid that science will rob them of their spirituality and will even cause them to lose their faith, some even believe that this will doom them to eternal damnation. In fact, I used to be a born again Christian, but after I started reading about science in my mid-20s, I did lose my faith. I still consider myself a spiritual person, however. I just look for my spiritual fulfillment in different
places now. As you state in the introduction, myths are quite powerful. You also say, "Many of these myths are based on ignorance, for which the best remedy is knowledge." Do you believe that knowledge of science and the ability to think logically can actually cause people to stop believing beloved myths?

Cameron M. Smith: Absolutely. As we grow as individuals, we drop away the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus because what we once thought was good evidence for them turns out to be not such good evidence. Science is about integrity and being honest with yourself; if your evidence doesn't support your favorite hypothesis, well, you have to ditch or modify it, unless you want to lie to yourself. My mentor once told me to be most careful about my favorite theories, and I work hard to do that. You do it by not getting too invested in any given idea until you have a good pile of facts and observations to support it. In the late 19th and through the 20th centuries, a portion of humanity - those who believed in science - have given up a number of ancient, cherished myths, such as humanity being at the pinnacle of the Natural world. If I didn't think knowledge of scientific fact could influence people's though-processes, I wouldn't write, or teach.

Charles Sullivan: Generally, yes. Clear critical thinking, and evidence-based reasoning can lead people to question and discard many of their most dearly held superstitious and irrational beliefs. It's not always easy, though, especially when there are strong emotions connected with those beliefs, as is often the case with the religious kind. Some people feel a sense of liberation when they're able to see through the hocus-pocus of their superstitious beliefs. Others feel a void, as if they had lost a loved one. And there will probably always be those who refuse to question these beliefs at all because of fear.

The word "spiritual" is tricky because it means many things to many people. But I have no problem with the word as long as it's divorced from mysticism and other forms of supernaturalism.

Skepchick: Do you think this result is desirable?

Cameron M. Smith: Absolutely! I love mythology and wouldn't be interested in a culture lacking parables, morality tales, and so on. But we have to recognize them for what they are; they're symbols of what we value in culture, not factual truth. I can love the myth of John Henry versus the steam engine - in all its detail - without believing that there was an actual John Henry, and so on. When we start to believe in mythical accounts as though they're literal, we're lying to ourselves, and starting to separate ourselves from reality, and I don't think either of those can be any good. If we don't question things, we ignore our most precious ability as a species: the ability to reason.

Charles Sullivan: As far as whether it's desirable to stop believing beloved myths, the late Carl Sagan said it well: "It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however
satisfying and reassuring."

Skepchick: I'm quite disturbed by the prevalence of libertarian thinking in the United States, and especially within the skeptical community. Many people seem to believe that the United States would be better off without a public school system. In my state of Colorado, a bill was recently introduced to the legislature that would have allowed students to opt out of classes that did not coincide with their religious
beliefs (fortunately this bill did not make it to the floor.) Do you think that by improving public education we can cut down on the amount of pseudo-science that is believed by the general public?

Cameron M. Smith: I hope so - if not, what are we doing? Science is so simple; it's a system of generating knowledge that recognizes the truth of things by compiling facts and observations about them - there's no great mystery to that. If we can't teach that in school, we might as well quit and just start making up explanations out of thin air.

Charles Sullivan: It seems hard to imagine how improving public education (especially if it included critical thinking) could not reduce the general public's overall belief in pseudo science.

Skepchick: Or will more people simply take their children out of the public school system and even lobby for an end to public schools, claiming that parents should be able to control what their children are taught?

Cameron M. Smith: I suppose that's possible, though I doubt the public school system can be shut down entirely. Nobody would have the time to take care of their kids, much less educate them. I think if public schools were shut down, our civilization would be coming to a close.

Charles Sullivan: It's hard to predict how parents will react. In terms of science curriculum, we should focus on teaching what the general consensus is among scientists in their respective fields. Therefore, just as we wouldn't teach an earth-centered planetary system in a science class dealing with astronomy (regardless of how many parents believed in it), we likewise should not omit the teaching of evolution in biology classes, nor should we teach unsubstantiated "alternatives" to evolution.

Click here for Part 2

Skepchick Authors Interview--Part 2

Part 2: A few myths about evolution, from Skepchick Magazine

March 26th, 2007 by writerdd

Here's the second part of my interview with Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan, authors of The Top 10 Myths About Evolution.
Myth 1: Survival of the Fittest
Skepchick: So much of our language is filled with violent, military images these days, that I'm not really surprised to hear that most people think "survival of the fittest" means "the strongest survive." I found your arguments in this chapter to be quite convincing, but I also found myself thinking "my mother-in-law would not understand this." Communicating with a general audience about scientific topics is always a challenge. How can we work to simplify our messages so even those with no scientific background can understand what we are saying?

Cameron M. Smith: Communicating the material in friendly, plain language is a challenge, but it's the writer's job. I've read 'popular science' that comes off as the author amusing themselves with too many cutesy metaphors, or over-simplifications, so a balance has to be found. I think we did a good job of this in The Top 10 Myths About Evolution, though I don't think it's possible to reach everyone with a single book.

Skepchick: As a follow up, who is the audience for this book? Would it be me (a science hobbiest), or my mother-in-law (a born-again Christian creationist has no doubt been taught that all 10 of the myths you are debunking are true).

Cameron M. Smith: That's tough. As I recall, we started with the idea that it could be read by a high-school-educated person with some interest in the topic. A writer has to do their best to communicate, but the reader, I think, has to bring something to the table as well, they have to bring a willingness to think carefully about what they're reading.

Charles Sullivan: What he said.

Myth 2: It's Just a Theory
Skepchick: I think scientists should stop talking about "the theory of evolution"and just start saying "evolution" or, perhaps even, "the fact of evolution." I mean, no-one talks about "the theory of gravity." Do you think that scientists should stop using the word theory when communicating with the public, because the word is so widely misunderstood?

Cameron M. Smith: Yes. I've thought about approaching various scientific organizations to see what can be done, in the scientific community, to advance evolution from 'theory' to 'fact' status. But there's no formal procedure that I know of for that; it has to be done by consensus and that takes time to build in science - which is as it should be. But the evidence is so compelling for evolution that I do feel we should teach it as fact, and refer to it as fact, rather than theory.

Charles Sullivan: Well, it would be really nice if most people could come to understand that a scientific theory is not a guess or a hunch, but rather "a logical, tested, well-supported explanation for a great variety of facts." Unfortunately, this understanding of a theory is having a hard time making it into the meme pool. So perhaps it would be good for scientists to just call it "evolution" when communicating with the public. But I wouldn't want to monkey with the concept itself as understood by scientists.

Myth 3: The Ladder of Progress
Skepchick: It seems like ever since science began, it has been slowly moving man away from a central position of "God created the universe for humans" to an outlying position of "the universe has no meaning and we are here by accident." Most people, even those who are not fundamentalist believers or creationists, cannot stomach the second statement and, so, come up with many ways to try to keep human beings separate from the rest of nature. Do you think a crisis in meaning or a need to find purpose in our lives plays any significant role in the promotion of myths such as this one, that places human beings on the pinnacle as the final, and most perfect, result of evolution?

Cameron M. Smith: Someone called the 20th century the century of 'demotions' for humanity; we're shoved from the 'pinnacle of evolution' into the hordes of the rest of the world of living things, then we're crammed into the primate order among them, and even among primates we find we're no pinnacle, only one of many coexisting branches. That all sounds like super-left-wing, politically-correct revisionism, but Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan made a great point in Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors; that it's actually the coldest facts of biology - relating to DNA - that have shown us our connection to all other living things. If people accept that DNA tells us about corn, or jellyfish or whatever, but then reject what it has to say about us and the rest of the world of living things, well, I don't know how you can rationally communicate with someone in such profound denial.

Charles Sullivan: I think the need to explain what we are, why things happen the way they do, and how we got here are all ancient needs that reflect our natural curiosity. Throughout most of human history our answers to these questions have involved evoking supernatural entities and superstitious beliefs. This tendency to evoke supernatural explanations may even have an evolutionary basis, in that those ancient human groups who ha d a shared mythology that provided meaning and a sense of purpose tended to survive better than those who didn't.

But science and philosophy have given us the tools to examine these old beliefs (many of them quite cherished) about what we are, why things happen the way they do, and how we got here. If we're honest and careful thinkers, we come to realize that these myths are not true, and that there are better answers to many of these questions that we've pondered for millennia.

Perhaps believing that we are a special, chosen species (or the pinnacle of evolution) offers a sense of purpose and meaning to many people's lives. But there's no evidence to believe that we are the pinnacle of evolution. This result may lead some people to think that life is meaningless, but this isn't a necessary outcome. Humans can quite naturally find meaning and purpose in their relations with their families and friends, in pursuing their goals and developing their talents, in love, art, and music, and in their sense of community and connection to humanity and even the rest of nature. The fact that the universe does not care about us, and that we are not the chosen species, is no reason for despair.

Myth 4: The Missing Link
Skepchick: Every time I go to the San Diego Zoo and see the hippos, I think, "Anyone who has sat here and watched these animals and who still does not believe in evolution must be crazy." Do you think there's any way that creationists and IDers will ever be satisfied with the number of "missing links" that are found in the fossil record (or in zoos)?

Cameron M. Smith: I think a lot of creationists and ID-believers have made their minds up. They would say that they've got piles of evidence for their positions, and then direct you to books and magazines showing that evidence. The problem is that their threshold for credibility in the evidence is very low. Every once in a while they show pictures of a dinosaur footprint next to a human footprint, for example, and say "look, this is the evidence!", but that case has been shown to be a hoax a long, long time ago. To really believe something, I've been trained to demand independent verification of facts, repeated observations, an explanation of the principle involved, and so on. Creationists and ID folks just don't demand that kind of scrutiny, and of course in the worst cases rely on faith, which is simply belief without evidence. I don't see how a rational person can read and then reject the basic principles of evolution.

Skepchick: Or is the issue actually quite different: That is, the idea that species are discreet entities as espoused by biblical teachings, rather than simply part of a continuum of life that are isolated by place or time from their closest relations? From my own fundamentalist background, I know that many people are uncomfortable with any type of ambiguity. With this black and white mindset, they cannot fathom the idea that species can be less than concrete realities. Cameron M. Smith: I would just have to ask why one would be uncomfortable with ambiguity. I suppose fear of the unknown drives that discomfort, but I don't understand it. What is there to be afraid of? Regarding species as concrete realities, I think that's a deep human mental 'template' as it were. By that I mean that we as a
species have been making things - inventions from igloos to cell phones - for so long, and with such industry and fascination, that we find it hard to imagine that Nature doesn't also make things for a specific purpose, with certain ends in mind. But as we show in the book, that's just not the case Evolution doesn't have a consciousness with which to invent or build towards particular ends, although it looks that it has done exactly that. It doesn't help that on TV nature shows they always say, for example, "Nature has perfected the mongoose for its environment." In a way that's true, as mongoose have been tailored to that environment by natural selection but it hasn't been by design or intent, and that very subtle point is terribly important.

Click here for Part 3

Skepchick Authors Interview--Part 3

Author Interview: Part 3, The Top 10 Myths About Evolution, from Skepchick Magazine

March 30th, 2007 by writerdd

Here's the third and final part of my interview with Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan, authors of The Top 10 Myths About Evolution.
Myth 5: Evolution is Random
Skepchick:Great job on this chapter. I was very impressed with your arguments. I don't have any question about this particular myth, but I'd like you to comment on the way these myths are perpetuated by religious and political leaders. Do you think the religious and political leaders who promote these myths actually believe them? Or do you think they intentionally foster false information in order to confuse their congregations and constituents?

Cameron M. Smith: I think through the course of human civilization, the ranks of the high priests have probably always included both devout believers and extremely powerful, devious manipulators. When the temple is in charge of agricultural schedules, for example - 'plant now', 'harvest now' - it's easy to imagine all kinds of intrigue with regards to management of agriculture, which was the backbone of every ancient civilization. Now extend that to the manipulation of the readings, let's say of divinations, by everyone from Shang priests (of ancient China) reading the future from the arrangement of cracks in pig skulls, to the reading of discolorations in the internal organs of sacrificed animals in Greece, and I think you have a system of generating 'knowledge' that is very malleable by the priestly elite.

Myth 6: People Come From Monkeys
Skepchick:I agree with your arguments in this chapter, but I don't think it makes any difference to creationists and IDers whether our ancestors were actually chimpanzees or gorillas (species that exist today), or whether they were some yet-unknown hairy primate (a species that is now extinct). The insult of thinking that we come from any "lower" primate or animal life form is the central problem. My question is, "Well, so what if we did come from monkeys? We are obviously no longer the same as these other animals, and we have language, culture, and morals to guide us beyond our animal instincts to live more fulfilling and purposeful lives." Would you comment on this further?

Cameron M. Smith: Yes, I've always been fascinated by connections to the rest of animal life, rather than revolted by it. I don't understand that revulsion, though I'd like to know where it comes from. I do have to say that I'm not sure we have more fulfilling and purposeful lives than other animals. We have a lot of suicides, for example, and I think a lot of animals feel great satisfaction when the food supply is good, for example, or a mate has been found.

Charles Sullivan: I think the realization provided by evolution is that many of the differences between humans and chimps are more a matter of degree than of kind. And we can see many similarities to chimps in our emotions, social lives, moral feelings, and even our intelligence. I certainly value our human intelligence, language ability, creativity, rich emotional life, and reasoning ability, and because of these things I'd rather be a human than a chimp or any other animal. But perhaps by seeing our connection to other animals we can better understand what we have in common with them and what makes us unique.

Myth 8: Creationism Disproves Evolution and Myth 9: Intelligent Design is Science
Skepchick:I find these two myths very interesting. I'd like to ask you a question that has been on my mind for quite some time. It seems to me that scientists usually publish their ideas in professional peer review journals, while creationists and ID supporters primarily publish their ideas as press releases and popular articles. There's an obvious difference between these approaches. However, in the past there havebeen many new scientific ideas that have not been accepted by the scientific community for many years, but that eventually turned out to be true. What do scientists with unusual ideas need to do to convince their peers that their ideas have merit? Or, to be more specific, what would it take for Intelligent Design to be taken seriously as science? Or, how could we recognize the work of an intelligent designer in biological systems, if such a designer did exist, and how could we tell it apart from the results of evolution? (Creationism, especially young-earth creationism, is so obviously unscientific and false, that I won't ask you to comment on that further.)

Charles Sullivan: The British Scientist J.B.S. Haldane was once asked what would count as evidence against evolution. His answer was "fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." Of course there are no such fossils in the Precambrian rock strata because mammals didn't exist then. But such a find would certainly challenge the evolutionary explanation.

For Intelligent Design to gain legitimacy if would have to come up with some phenomena that cannot be explained in terms of natural processes. This does not mean a phenomena for which there is no present natural explanation; science is full of those. It would need to be something that cannot in principle be explained by natural processes. I really don't what that would be. Perhaps some kind of barcode in the DNA that says "the designer was here." But even that would leave open the possibility that the designers were extraterrestrials who had themselves evolved by natural processes.

Myth 10: Evolution is Immoral
Skepchick: That made me laugh, because I like to substitute "gravity" for "evolution" when I read absurd statements about evolution! I do think this is a very important topic, however, and of all the myths that you debunk perhaps the most important and the one that deserves much more discussion in the public arena. The idea that is prevalent in society is not, I think, that "Evolution is immoral" but that "Believing in evolution makes people immoral" or, perhaps, "Evolution can not lead to the development of moral beings, because morality must come from a deity."

Charles Sullivan: Yes. And both of those ideas are covered in the chapter. But there's a nice, short, punchy ring to "Evolution is Immoral" that grabs you by the scruff. Whereas, "Evolution can not lead to the development of moral beings, because morality must come from a deity" is, well, a chapter title that would run off the right margin, around the corner and meet you on the next page.

Skepchick: One reason I find ID completely unsatisfying on an intellectual level, is that its basic claim seems to be that if we can't understand something, it must have been created by a supernatural being. The end result of such thinking is to squelch creativity and stunt intellectual growth. I believe that we will eventually find a biological explanation for morality, supported by scientific research. Do you know of any serious scientific work being done in the area of the evolution of morality? I'm sure the Skepchick readers would be interested in learning more about this topic and reading further.

Charles Sullivan: Even though evolution has shaped many of our moral emotions and impulses (for good and ill), I think that we have the ability to engage in moral deliberation and moral argument in a rational manner. And we often find no pleasure (in brain or body) in fulfilling some of our moral obligations to others, but we fulfill them (when we do) because reason tells us it's the right thing to do. Moreover, I don't see us as puppets whose moral decisions are wholly controlled by evolutionary "strings." Simply put, we should try to do morally what there are the best reasons for doing, while taking into account everyone's interests who will be affected by our actions, while also recognizing that everyone's interests (including our own) count equally from a rational moral point of view.

As far as readings in the science of evolution and morality goes, Harvard psychology professor Marc Hauser and Princeton University philosophy professor Peter Singer have a fascinating little paper that touches on the origin and nature of morality at

Hauser also has a fascinating book called Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (Ecco, 2006).

Also, Emory University's Primatologist Frans de Waal has a book called Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved (Princeton UP, 2006).

I don't necessarily agree with all that these writers say, but they offer ideas worth thinking about.

That's it. Thanks so much to Charles and Cameron for taking the time to talk with us about their book!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Young Scientist Debunks Some Bunk

A Young Scientist Debunks Some Bunk

Therapeutic Touch is a form of therapy where a therapist moves his or her hands along a patient’s “energy field,” directing the flow of positive bodily energy to the injured or diseased area of the body. This practice should really be called Non-Touch Therapy since the therapist never actually touches the patient’s body. The practice of therapeutic touch is said to provide healing by the movement of these “energies.”

According to one account, therapeutic touch is available in over seventy hospitals in the US for patients who request it. But one young scientist had her doubts about therapeutic touch and decided to test whether these therapists can really sense people’s “energy fields,” as they frequently claim they can. This young scientist, Emily Rosa, was a nine-year-old schoolgirl who asked twenty-one touch therapists if they would participate in her experiment for her fourth-grade science fair project. It’s hard to turn down such a request from a charming nine-year-old girl, so the touch therapists agreed to the experiment.

Emily would sit across a table from a touch therapist with the table divided down the middle with a screen that prevented both parties from seeing each other. Two holes were cut in the screen through which a therapist would extend his or her arms, palms facing down. Emily would then place her hand under one of the therapist’s hands without touching it, and the therapist would then state whether Emily’s hand was under the therapist’s right or left hand. Emily flipped a coin to randomly determine whether she would choose the right or left hand of the therapist.

Many of the therapist were convinced that they could make their determination with 100% accuracy. After 280 trials the therapists were accurate 44% of the time, just about what you would from chance (flipping a coin, or guessing). The certainty expressed by the therapists in detecting these “energy fields” quickly vanished once their powers were put to the test.

With a bit of help from her mother and a statistician, the results of Emily Rosa’s experiment were written up and submitted to the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association. When her piece was published two years later, in 1998, she became the youngest scientist to have a paper published in a prestigious medical journal. Emily’s story appeared on the national news, and she won the “Skeptic of the Year Award” from the Skeptics Society, and a $1000 grant from the James Randi Educational Foundation. And she won a blue ribbon at the science fair.


Material for this blog gleaned mostly from: Park, Robert L. (2000). Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 208-210.