Weekly news and blog roundup: What is it good for?
Government funding for stem cell research blocked by US court
A US judge has prohibited studies involving stem cells derived from human embryos that will later be discarded. The ruling, which overrides President Obama’s 2009 executive order to allow such studies, has caused many US scientists concern over its impact on their work. The Guardian reports that “The judge’s decision is almost certain to be appealed by the administration.”
Read the Guardian’s coverage here.
US government lends credibility to bogus prayer study
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services now features on its website an article claiming that prayer “may be a useful complement to Western medical practice.” This conclusion was reached through an atrocious study in which the conditions of sight- and hearing-impaired Mozambicans were reportedly found to improve after ‘proximal intercessory prayer (PIP)’. (That’s ‘prayer’ to you and me.) No reasonable scientific protocol was followed: The tests were neither single- nor double-blind, and included no controls. In fact, the participants – attendees of an evangelical meeting! – were subjected to PIP until they said it worked, kind of like how we know that beating the hell out of a person will make him sorry.
Read more on the study here.
Read the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ article here.
Claudy bomb: conspiracy allowed IRA priest to go free
The British government and the Catholic Church colluded to protect the priest behind the Claudy bombings of 1972, a report issued this week reveals. One of the gravest atrocities of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the bombing killed 9 people, injuring a further 30. The Catholic Church stands by its actions, explaining that to have identified the IRA bomber to be a Catholic priest might have ignited further violence in what was already the bloodiest year of three decades of conflict. Many of the victims’ families are uncomforted by this justification, and are calling for legal justice and an apology.
Read the BBC’s news coverage here.
Watch the BBC News coverage here.
[Via Richard Dawkins]
Uri Geller’s mind bender: Egyptian loot in Scotland
Famed bender Uri Geller, presumably having realised the uselessness of manipulating silverware, has found a new hobby: hunting for Egyptian treasure in Scotland. The conjurer recently purchased a small island off the Eastern coast for £30,000, after being inexplicably drawn to it. He later realised that his attraction was caused by ancient treasures buried there, and promptly buried a crystal orb “once belonging to Albert Einstein” (standard protocol I believe). Geller plans to find the treasures by dowsing. Expert historians however, say stories connecting Scotland with Ancient Egypt are “tosh!”
Read the Wall Street Journal’s coverage here.
It’s looking silly outside; Bring a lab coat
Looking to boost your CV? Science charity Sense About Science is planning an event in which diplomas in ‘Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine’ will be awarded to those who can answer a few simple questions on the subject.
The stunt is a response to Department of Health proposals to introduce a professional registration scheme for herbalists and other practitioners of ‘traditional’ medicine. The move would serve the idea that practising medicine does not require proper medical training.
The event will be held outside the Department of Health office, situated on Whitehall, London (map), on 8 September, and will begin at 11:30am. Please try to pop down if you can, if only for an hour or two. Also, if you have one, wear a lab coat. I promise you won’t be the only one.
For more information, visit the Sense About Science website.
If you’re interested, it would be really helpful if you would contact Julia Wilson at email@example.com and say so, just to give an idea of how many people to expect. Thanks!
(Further details coming soon.)
Empire State Building refuses to light up for Mother Teresa
Although the Empire State Building readily lit up for the Rotary Club’s 100th birthday, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of communist China, it will not shine blue and white for Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday as requested. The building’s owners issued a statement to say that they cannot recognise religious figures in this way. Bill Donohue, talking on FOX News, claims this amendment was added after the request to justify the denial. It’s always fun to see Bill Donohue mad.
Watch the Fox News coverage here.
[Via Atheist Media Blog]
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