maandag 30 juni 2008


The Zebiba: Signs of division on Egypt's brow

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Cairo

The zebiba used to be the mark of an elderly Muslim man, the fruit of
a lifetime's devotion, but it is increasingly seen on the faces of
young Egyptians.

Literally meaning "a raisin", the zebiba is a patch of hardened skin
where the forehead touches the ground during Muslim prayers.

Some welcome the trend as a sign of devotion, others say it is
ostentatious piety.

Worse still there are fears public displays of faith like the zebiba
and the hijab, or headscarf, are spilling over into vigilantism.

Liberals or Christians who don't conform in the workplace or on the
street say they are being harassed.

Gift from God

A practising Muslim's forehead is meant to touch the ground at least
34 times a day - in symbolic submission to God's will - which could
add up to more than a million prostrations in a lifetime.

But over the past few decades, as more and more Egyptians turned to
religion, the zebiba began appearing among young men as the veil did
among young women.

But not every Muslim gets one, and opinions vary as to where it comes
from. It could something to do with skin-type, or created
artificially, or come from particular kinds of matting. Others believe
it is a gift from God.

Many young Egyptians I asked believe some kind of light will emanate
from the prayer mark on their foreheads on the Day of Judgment,
marking them out as truly devout.

One of Egypt's greatest living and most popular poets, Abdelrahman
al-Abnoudi, has another explanation - in times of crises people turn
either to drugs or to religion.

Egyptians have always been religious, he adds, but since being
religious has also become fashionable, people now press their
foreheads against the ground a little harder to acquire the appearance
of a devout Muslim.

Dalia Ziada of the American Islamic Congress - an non-governmental
organisation based in Cairo - says some men deliberately pray on straw
mats, and rub their foreheads until they eventually develop the zebiba.

Relentless rise

The increased public display of religious devotion is part of a wider
phenomenon, affecting what women wear, and what people read or watch
on their television screens.

The relentless rise of political Islam over the past few decades has
succeed in rolling back significant parts of Egypt's secular tradition.

For radical Islamist politicians, like Magdi Hussein, that is a move
in the right direction, away from the Westernisation which started
over two centuries ago with the French and British invasions.

He sees the the zebiba phenomenon in the context of
government-inspired "darwasha", an atmosphere of unpolitical religious
devotion which goes against the Islamists' self-professed aim of
reforming society and fighting corruption and despotism.

But Mr Hussein refuses to acknowledge that the increased public
display of piety has had any downsides.


Egyptian women and Liberals I spoke to tell a different story. A
Coptic [Christian] doctor, who did not want to be named, told me she
had been spat upon in broad daylight for not wearing the veil.

A young Muslim engineer, Shahinaz, who refuses to cover her hair, said
she has become scared of intimidation.

"I was driving home one evening and had to stop next to a girls'
school. Suddenly the girls - all of whom were veiled - surrounded the
car and start banging on the windows and screaming: 'Infidel!
Apostate!' I was terrified."

Dr Sayyed al-Qimni, one of Egypt's best known liberal writers and
historians, says society has been hijacked by a very conservative
brand of religion, which he characterises as Saudi Wahhabi Islam.

"There are now 13,000 religious schools [in Egypt] that produce
terrorists, like the Taliban madrassas in Pakistan. At religious
schools they teach children that Muslims who do not pray should be

There is no doubt that in one way the Islamists are winning their
struggle to increase the role religion plays in social life and public
debate in this country.

The question now for Egypt is what kind of Muslim society it is going
to be - one that is at peace or at war with modern values.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/23 12:59:31 GMT


zondag 29 juni 2008

Glastonbury hoogtepunten (1)

Dit zijn voor mij een aantal hoogtepunten van Glastonbury 2008;

De Raconteurs zijn ouderwets goed. Ze doen denken aan jaren zeventig bands als Led Zeppelin en Cream, toch zijn ze helemaal van deze tijd.

Stout meisje Amy Winehouse moet natuurlijk ook vermeld worden. Het was niet haar beste optreden, maar was toch een hoogtepunt gewoonweg OMDAT ze er stond!

Deze opname is niet perfect, maar de gebrekkige beeld en geluidskwaliteit wordt gecompenseerd door een hoop gezelligheid. Elbow is een hoogtepunt vanwege hun aanstekelijke optimisme; throw those curtains wide...

Witch Trials and Exorcism Get Green Light from Texas Supreme Court

Texas Supreme Court's idea of legal precedence

In 2002, the family of Laura Schubert sued the Pleasant Glade Assembly
of God Church for an incident that occurred in 1996. The church's
staff had decided based upon the accusation of one of its younger
members that Schubert was possessed by a demon that he'd seen. They
forcibly held her down and performed an exorcism on her against her
will. She was injured both physically and emotionally and her family
won the suit. The church appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the court reversed Schubert's award in a 6-3 decision,
ruling that church's can't be sued for performing exorcisms â€" even
when they do so without the consent of the person being exorcized.
Even if that person is injured. Churches can now perform these
archaic, bizarre rituals without any concern for the well-being of
their victims, because the state's Supreme Court has effectively ruled
that a church's freedom of religion trumps an individuals protection
against false imprisonment. According to this ruling, a church could
feasibly hold a person against their will for as long as it deemed
necessary, physically restrain them in any way they thought
appropriate, withhold food and water, and do whatever they believed
necessary to drive imaginary boogeymen from real flesh-and-blood.

Texas Supreme Court rules church can't be sued in exorcism

A divided Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former
Colleyville church Friday, saying church members who were involved in
a traumatic exorcism that ultimately injured a young woman are
protected by the First Amendment.

In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the Pleasant Glade
Assembly of God staff's efforts to cast out demons from Laura Schubert
presents an ecclesiastical dispute over religious conduct that would
unconstitutionally entangle the court in church doctrine.

Schubert described a wild night in 1996 that involved casting out
demons from the church and two attempts to exorcise demons from her.
The incident left Schubert physically bruised and so emotionally
scarred she later tried to commit suicide. She was 17 at the time.

Justice David Medina, writing for the majority, said that while
Schubert's argument regarding physical injuries might be tried without
mentioning religion, her case was mostly about her emotional or
psychological injuries from a religious activity that was sanctioned
by the church.

For the court to impose any legal liability for engaging in a
religious activity "to which the church members adhere would have an
unconstitutional 'chilling effect' by compelling the church to abandon
core principles of its religious beliefs," Medina wrote.

"Religious practices that might offend the rights or sensibilities
of a non-believer outside the church are entitled to greater latitude
when applied to an adherent within the church," Medina wrote.

He went on to say that when claims involve "only intangible,
emotional damages allegedly caused by sincerely held religious belief,
courts must carefully scrutinize the circumstances so as not to become
entangled in a religious dispute."

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a stinging dissenting opinion,
wrote that the majority opinion is at times "imprecise and overbroad"
and imposes an "erroneous standard" that would allow a church to
simply claim a "religious motive" to avoid being sued.

He wrote that this "sweeping immunity" is inconsistent with U.S.
Supreme Court precedent and that the First Amendment "guards religious
liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name."

"This overly broad holding not only conflicts with well-settled
legal and constitutional principles, it will also prove to be
dangerous in practice," Jefferson wrote.

"Texas courts have been and will continue to be confronted with
cases in which a congregant suffers physical or psychological injury
as a result of violent or unlawful, but religiously sanctioned, acts,"
he wrote...

Schubert's account of what happened over several days at the
Pleasant Glade church in June 1996 is harrowing.

Schubert and her brother were involved with church activities
while their parents were out of town.

On Friday evening, during preparations for a youth group garage
sale, the atmosphere became "spiritually charged" when another youth
said he saw a demon.

Under direction of the youth minister, the youth frantically
anointed everything in the church with holy oil until, at 4:30 a.m.
Saturday, the minister told the exhausted youth that they had finally
been successful.

At the Sunday evening worship services, Schubert collapsed. Church
members "laid hands" on her and forcibly held her arms crossed over
her chest, despite her demands to be set free.

She reportedly cried, yelled, kicked, sweated and hallucinated
while also making guttural noises.

She was released after she calmed down and replied with requests
to say the name Jesus.

The following Wednesday, during a weekly youth service, Schubert
reportedly began to act in the same manner. She curled into a fetal
position and asked to be left alone. Church members thought she was in
distress and held her down in a "spread eagle" position with youth
members holding down her arms and legs.

During the incident, she suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her
back and bruises on her wrists.

Her father, Tom Schubert, himself an Assembly of God pastor and
missionary, questioned what happened at the church.

His daughter experienced angry outbursts, weight loss and
self-mutilation and eventually dropped out of high school her senior
year. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder...

A jury found the church and its members liable and awarded
Schubert $300,000 for mental anguish, but the 2nd Court of Appeals in
Fort Worth cut $122,000 from the verdict for loss of future income.

In the church's appeal to the state Supreme Court, it raised the
question of whether the Fort Worth appeals court erred when it said
Pleasant Glades' First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion
do not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress
triggered by a "hyper spiritualistic environment."

Justice Medina said that the court does not mean to imply that
"under the cloak of religion, persons may, with impunity," commit
intentional wrong, such as sexual assault or a minister having an
affair with someone in marriage counseling, and get away with it.

"Freedom to believe may be absolute, but freedom of conduct is
not, and 'conduct even under a religious guise remains subject to
regulation for public safety,' " Medina wrote.

Pruessner, the church's attorney, agreed, saying that church
members were simply trying to help Schubert and that there wasn't any
evil intent.

"This was clearly a religious controversy, and I don't see how
anyone can argue that they were seizing on religion as a
get-out-of-jail-free card," Pruessner said. "I disagree vehemently
with the spiritual beliefs of the church and how they handled it; it
doesn't mean they are legally liable..."

Somebody needs to screen Justice David Medina for possible use of
crack, because it's more than a little opaque as to how he thinks that
churches are still regulated for public safety if someone can be held
against their will and physically abused as was Schubert. AT what
point does the supposed regulation kick in? A 17 year old was held
against her will, restrained and injured; apparently that's not enough
in Texas. Would it have been enough if Laura Schubert's bones had been
broken? If she'd been pressed beneath stones? If she'd been hung by
the neck until dead? What happened to Schubert is alarmingly
reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century.

Look where Goodwife Cloyce sits on the beam suckling her yellow
bird between her fingers!

â€" Ann Putnam, 1692

The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of

In Texas, that now means that as long as some bunch of demon-haunted
yahoos claims religious motivations for their actions, they can get
away with anything they deem appropriate as a response to one of their
own pointing a finger at someone and shouting "Witch!" I suppose that
the Texan Supreme Court will next be taking up the thorny legal issue
of whether angry mobs have the right to bear torches and pitchforks.

Perhaps if Sergio Aguiar had driven to Coleyville, Texas instead of
Turlock, California before smashing his son to a pulp against the
asphalt he'd be alive and free today. Anything to get those pesky
demons out.

What is happening here, people?

Posted by Mike O'Risal at 06:45

zaterdag 28 juni 2008

Asperger's: the IT industry's dark secret

IT is a uniquely attractive industry for the autistic

By Tracy Mayor, Framingham | Monday, 23 June, 2008 - Computerworld [New


"Ryno" is a 50-something ex-sysadmin, by his own account "burned out and

living on disability" in rural Australia.

He loved the tech parts of being a system administrator, and he was good

at them. But the interpersonal interactions that went along with the

position — the hearty backslaps from random users, the impromptu

meetings — were literally unbearable for Ryno.

"I can make your systems efficient and lower your downtime," he says. "I

cannot make your users happy."

Bob, a database applications programmer who's been working in high tech

for 26 years, has an aptitude for math and logic. And he has what he

calls his "strange memory". If he can't recall the answer to a question,

he can recall exactly, as if in a digital image, where he first saw the

answer, down to the page and paragraph and sentence.

Bob has some behaviour quirks as well: He can become nonverbal when he's

frustrated, and he interprets things literally — he doesn't read between

the lines. "I am sure [my boss] finds it frustrating when I misinterpret

his irony," he says, "but at least he knows it is not willful."

"Jeremy" excels at being able to see an engineering problem from the

inside out, internalising it almost from the point of view of the code

itself. He's great at hammering out details one on one with other

intensely focused people, often the CEOs of the companies he contracts

for. To protect his anonymity, he doesn't want to mention his

programming subspecialty, but suffice it to say he's a very well-known

go-to guy in his industry.

What Jeremy is not good at is suffering fools in the workplace or

dealing with the endless bureaucracy of the modern corporation. If

someone is wrong — if their idea just plain won't work — he says so,

simply states the fact. That frankness causes all manner of upset in the

office, he's discovered.

These IT professionals are all autistic. Bob and Ryno have Asperger's

Syndrome (AS); Jeremy has high-functioning autism (HFA).

Though the terms are debated and sometimes disputed in the medical

community, both refer in a general way to people who display some

characteristics of autism — including unusual responses to the

environment and deficits in social interaction — but not the cognitive

and communicative development impairments or language delays of classic


People with Asperger's, widely known as "Aspies," aren't good at reading

nonverbal cues, according to the American Psychiatric Association's

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They can have

difficulty forming friendships with peers, they form a strict adherence

to routines and rituals, and they may exhibit repetitive and stereotyped

motor movements like hand or finger flapping.

Dr Tony Attwood, a world-renowned Asperger's clinician and author in

Brisbane, Australia, defines Asperger's in a more human context: "The

[Asperger's] person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth

and perfection with a different set of priorities. ... The overriding

priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or

emotional needs of others."

Problems over people? Hmm, sounds like a techie.

A paper on Asperger's from Yale University's Developmental Disabilities

Clinic continues down the same path: "Idiosyncratic interests are common

and may take the form of an unusual and/or highly circumscribed interest

(such as in train schedules, snakes, the weather, deep-fry cookers or

telegraph pole insulators)."

Or technology. When Ryno spoke with a receptionist to make an initial

appointment for an evaluation with Attwood, she asked him, what is your

"Big Interest?"

"She inadvertently gave me a diagnostic question I have found

invaluable," he recalls. "The Big Interest is a great start to


Ryno's Big Interest is computers and communications. He's not the only

one, not by a long shot.

The Asperger's-IT connection

Autism, though first identified and labeled in 1943, is still a poorly

understood neurodevelopment disorder, and nearly every aspect of its

causes, manifestations, research and cure is mired in controversy.

Asperger's and HFA, being hard-to-define, often undiagnosed or

underdiagnosed variants on the high end of the autism spectrum, are even

less quantified or understood.

Diagnoses of autism, including Asperger's, have skyrocketed in the US in

recent years — the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention now

estimates that one in 150 8-year-old children has some form of autism.

It's not clear if the increase is because of better detection, a change

in the diagnosis to include a wider range of behaviours, a true increase

in case numbers, or some combination of those or other factors.

It's even less clear how many adults have Asperger's. Because Aspies are

usually of average or above-average intelligence, they're often able to

mask or accommodate their differences socially and in the workplace,

meaning many of them make it well into middle age, or live their whole

lives, without being formally diagnosed.

A spokesman for the National Institute of Mental Health says the agency

is not aware of any government organisation or academic research that

tracks the incidence of AS in adults.

Where statistics come up short, anecdote is happy to take up the slack.

Ask an Asperger's-aware techie if there is indeed a connection between

AS and IT, and you're likely to get "affirmative, Captain".

When the question is put to Ryno, he emails back a visual: "Aspies-->

tech--> as fish--> water."

And Bob, the database applications programmer, says, "Yes, it is a

stereotype, and yes, there are a higher than average number of Aspies in

high tech."

Nobody, it seems, has more to say on the subject than Temple Grandin, a

fast-talking PhD Aspie professor who's the closest thing Asperger's has

to an elder stateswoman. Grandin made her mark designing

livestock-handling facilities from the point of view of the animal; she

now has a thriving second career as an Asperger's author (Thinking in

Pictures, Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships) and speaker.

"Is there a connection between Asperger's and IT? We wouldn't even have

any computers if we didn't have Asperger's," she declares. "All these

labels — 'geek' and 'nerd' and 'mild Asperger's' — are all getting at

the same thing. ... The Asperger's brain is interested in things rather

than people, and people who are interested in things have given us the

computer you're working on right now."

Career opportunities, career limitations

Grandin has compiled a list of jobs and their suitability to Aspies and

autistics according to their skills. No surprise, tech jobs are cited

early and often. Her list of "good jobs for visual thinkers", for

example, includes computer programming, drafting (including

computer-aided drafting), computer troubleshooting and repair, web page

design, video game design and computer animation.

Grandin's "good jobs for nonvisual thinkers", which she further defines

as "those who are good at math, music or facts," includes computer

programming, engineering, inventory control and physics.

Why do Asperger's individuals gravitate to technology?

"Adults with Asperger's have a social naivety that prevents them from

understanding how people relate. What draws them in is not parties and

social interaction, but work that allows them to feel safe, to feel in

control," explains Steve Becker, a developmental disabilities therapist

at Becker & Associates, a private practice in the Seattle suburb of Des

Moines, Washington, that conducts ongoing small group sessions for

adults with AS, among other services.

"What's better for that than a video game or a software program?" Becker

asks. "When you're designing a software program, there are rules and

protocols to be followed. In life, there is no manual."

While careful to protect his clients' confidentiality, Becker confirms

that he sees many adults and children of adults who work for the

region's tech powerhouses — Microsoft and Boeing — and the hundreds of

smaller companies that orbit around them.

Some of the Aspies he counsels are at the very top of their tech game:

software and aerospace engineers, computer scientists, PhDs. But for

every research fellow with Asperger's, he says, there are a legion of

fellow Aspies having a much tougher time in the middle or lower ranks of

the industry.

"The spectrum of success is much broader than one would expect," agrees

Roger Meyer, the Oregon-based author of The Asperger Syndrome Employment

Workbook who runs one of the oldest peer-led adult Asperger's groups in

the country. "Adults who have grown sophisticated at masking and

adaptive behaviours can either bubble along at the bottom of the market

or do very well at the top."

It's that "bubbling along at the bottom" that has Becker, Meyer and

other Aspie specialists concerned. Employees with Asperger's might do

well for years in data entry or working in a job like insurance claims,

where knowledge of ephemera is a prized work skill, only to flounder

when they're promoted to a position that requires a higher degree of

social interaction.

"The more technical the job, the better they do. But for some, managing

people in a supervisory capacity can be a problem," Becker says.

That can leave Asperger's employees stuck on the lower and less

remunerative ranks of IT, sometimes in jobs that are vulnerable to

outsourcing, says Meyer. For example, certain tech support situations,

where sensory distractions are minimal and human interactions are

reduced to a screen or a voice on the phone, are a natural fit for some


"They're good at diagnostic work. They can get in and slosh around in

the computer, use their encyclopedic knowledge of applications and

work-arounds, and arrive at a solution that may be unorthodox but

effective," says Meyer. As those jobs increasingly become automated

and/or outsourced, Aspies' chances for employment are diminished as well.

IT's dark little secret

Becker and Meyer say they have yet to hear of a single corporation that

has any kind of formal programme in place to nurture and support

employees with Asperger's and HFA, aside from covering the costs of

therapy through standard health care plans.

Which begs the question: If Aspies are everywhere among us, why isn't

the IT industry doing more to support them or even to simply acknowledge

their existence?

High-tech companies, after all, have been at the forefront of supporting

workers with nearly every type of social, ethnic, physical or

developmental identification. Microsoft, to take just one example,

sponsors at least 20 affinity groups — for African Americans, dads, deaf

and hard of hearing, visually impaired, Singaporeans, single parents,

and gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgendered employees, to name a few.

Just nothing for autistics.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company has no group or

formal, separate support for Asperger's. On rare occasions, an employee

with AS has requested accommodation, she says. When that happens, the

employee is paired with a disability case manager to determine

"reasonable accommodation" on a case-by-case basis.

Intel and Yahoo didn't respond to requests to discuss their policy

toward Asperger's employees, and a Google spokesman says the company was

"unable to accommodate the inquiry".

To be fair, the question of whether and how corporations should support

Aspies is a thorny one to untangle.

For one thing, unlike a disability that confines an employee to a

wheelchair or the language barrier that a foreigner faces, autism is

something others can't see or easily understand.

"A readily visible disability is easier [for co-workers] to cognitively

take on board, it seems," Ryno laments. "Ah, if only Asperger's made one

turn green!"

"If you meet someone from another country," Jeremy elaborates, "people

know they're from a different country and they cut them some slack."

And by their very nature, Aspies are not uniters. Microsoft's clubs and

support groups are all initiated and chartered by employees. That leaves

Aspies out by default: It would be highly unusual for an employee with

Asperger's to voluntarily organise any type of social group, with or

without other autistics.

Finally, many Aspies aren't "out" in the workplace; they haven't

acknowledged their condition publicly or to more than one or two


Whether they should is a matter of contention. Ryno revealed his

Asperger's at only one job (his last) and lived to regret it, even

though his boss happened to be a young Aspie as well.

"It's the first time I've had an AS person as a superior," he says. "It

was definitely a refreshing change not to have to explain why I didn't

do eye contact, hated meetings and could not suffer fools, let alone

feign gladness."

In retrospect, however, Ryno regrets having told anyone he has AS. "I'd

say there were many disadvantages and few gains. The gains were

short-lived, too." Specifically, systems that Ryno and his boss had

designed both to help users and to minimise interruptions to their own

workdays were resented and little used.

Now that Ryno is gone — he quit after being ordered by an executive to

restore internet access for an employee caught downloading pornography

against company policy — "the other AS employee is being forced into

meetings, crowded social gatherings and many of the situations we had

previously been allowed to keep to a minimum," he reports.

Jeremy has found that when he asks co-workers and bosses to accommodate

his differences, it doesn't help, and in fact always seems to lead to

the same end: termination.

"I don't blink. I stare. I don't understand boundary issues very well. I

don't have a feeling of group membership, but other people have a very

firm idea of membership in groups," he says, struggling to define the

problem as precisely as possible.

As a result, where other employees are able to correct their mistakes

and adjust their behaviours day to day in the office environment, Jeremy

isn't. "People won't give me negative feedback. I don't know what I'm

missing until it's already become a problem. I pick up on a lot of

stuff, but I miss some cues. They're like little black holes, and the

little black holes accumulate, and I end up being forced out. It keeps


It isn't a question of work — he is sought out for his programming

specialty and always busy as a contractor — but of social relationships.

"I get the feeling what they'd like to do is put me in a black box, give

me an assignment and get it out the other end in few weeks."

Building a better workplace?

The subtle social engineering that Jeremy and other HFA and Aspie

employees struggle with may be beyond the ken of even the most proactive

human resource organisations. But that doesn't mean the industry's

heavy-hitters can't and shouldn't proactively fashion a more

Asperger's-friendly workplace, a kind of "if you build it they will come

— and work" scenario.

These changes needn't be monumental, or limited to Aspies only,

specialists say. Bob, the database applications programmer, was just one

of several Aspies interviewed for this story who spoke admiringly of the

work/life accommodations in place at internet companies like Google.

"I would not demand it from anyone, but I do wish every employer were as

accommodating as Google, supplying prepared meals and encouraging people

to bring their dogs to work," he says.

Physical changes to the office environment can help as well, Grandin and

others point out. Many Asperger's workers are debilitated by blinking or

flickering lights; the mechanical noise of an air conditioner,

photocopier or ringing telephones; or simple office chatter. A quiet

corner, an office or cubicle with soundproofing or a white-noise machine

may be all it takes to turn the situation around.

And more than one person spoke highly of the rumours that Microsoft

offers a "buddy system" for Aspies, pairing an Asperger's employee with

a neurotypical — that is, nonautistic — colleague who coaches them

through the whys and wherefores of meetings and other social

interactions. A Microsoft spokeswoman says there is no official

information available on any buddy programmes, but says there is a good

chance such initiatives are conducted on a team-by-team basis within the


Beyond that, Asperger's individuals hope only that they be given a

chance to find a niche in the modern corporate landscape. Companies have

evolved to accommodate everything from workers' physical height to their

hearing ability, sexual orientation or ethno-religious status, Ryno

points out.

In the same way, he says, "employers of Aspies should look at the person

and the tasks, environment, and communication structure and adjust for

the best viable fit."

Seattle-area psychologist Becker has seen some early signs that

forward-looking high-tech companies may be doing just that. "I have seen

cases where [a client] will say, 'I have Asperger's,' and receive a

positive response from social workers employed by the business or the

insurance companies," he reports.

On the whole, Becker is willing to cut IT some slack — for now at least.

"Most corporations have never dealt with Asperger's. It's a fairly new

diagnosis, even newer for adults," he points out. His general feeling is

that high tech wants to support Aspies as valuable employees, it just

doesn't yet know how. But that too shall change.

"In the next five to 10 years, we'll see more businesses treating autism

spectrum disorders as routine," he predicts.

Copyright © Fairfax Business Media A Division of John Fairfax

Publications Pty Limited, 2006 Privacy Policy


A complaint filed in federal court on June 13, 2008, accuses John
Freshwater, a Mount Vernon, Ohio, middle school science teacher, of
inappropriately bringing his religion to school -- including by
posters with the Ten Commandments and Bible verses in his classroom,
branding crosses into the arms of his students with a high-voltage
electrical device, and teaching creationism. The complaint also
that the principal of the school, the superintendent of the school
district, and the board of education allowed Freshwater to continue
teaching and failed to discipline him, even after the branding incident
(which occurred in December 2007) was brought to their attention. The
attorney representing the complainants (who are identified only as
Doe and Jane Doe") told the Columbus Dispatch (June 20, 2008), "These
concerns had been going on for at least 11 years, and the school had
done anything."

According to the conclusions of a report on Freshwater commissioned by
district and dated June 19, 2008, "Mr. Freshwater engaged in teaching
of a
religious nature, teaching creationism and related theories and calling
evolution into question. He had other materials in his classroom that
could be used for that purpose." Investigators found various
literature in his classroom, including Jonathan Sarfati's Refuting
Evolution and Jonathan Wells's Icons of Evolution. Additionally, high
school teachers in the same district complained that they had to
concepts related to evolution that Freshwater misrepresented: one
commented, "At the ninth grade level when we bring up evolution there
challenge and argumentation from students who have had Mr. Freshwater,
bordering on hostility." And the principal of the high school
asked for her daughter not to be assigned to Freshwater's class.

A lawyer for the Mount Vernon City School District told the Dispatch
19, 2008) that the administration directed Freshwater not to discuss
religious beliefs in class: "They told him he was to teach -- not
preach." He added that Freshwater could not have been disciplined
the completion of the investigation; the board of education is expected
review the report and decide what action, if any, to take on June 20,
2008. The Dispatch (June 20, 2008) subsequently reported, "Neither
Freshwater nor his attorney, Roger Weaver, could be reached for comment
last night. Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him. 'With
exception of the cross-burning episode. ... I believe John Freshwater
teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school
district,' he
said." Daubenmire previously acknowledged to the Dispatch (April 17,
that Freshwater taught "intelligent design" in his classroom.

At its June 20, 2008, meeting, the Mount Vernon City School District
of Education unanimously voted to begin proceedings to terminate
Freshwater's employment with the district. "Freshwater preached his
Christian beliefs about how the world began, discredited evolution and
didn't teach the required science curriculum, the board says. He was
to stop teaching creationism and intelligent design, but he continued
to do
so, an investigation found," the Columbus Dispatch (June 21, 2008)
reports. According to the Dispatch, "After learning of the board's
decision, Freshwater called the consultants' report half-truths and
said he
never veered from the state standards for teaching science"; his lawyer
described the complaints as "fabrications," adding that Freshwater
to appeal the board's decision.

vrijdag 27 juni 2008

Weg met de underdog!

Near Death Experiences & the Medical Literature

by Mark Crislip
Miracle Max: See, there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he’s slightly alive. All dead, well, with all dead, there’s usually only one thing that you can do.
Inigo: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
—The Princess Bride
In a recent issue of Skeptic (Vol. 13, No. 4), in the debate between Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra about life after death, both authors refer to an article in the prestigious British medical journal Lancet about Near Death Experiences (NDEs), in which of 344 cardiac patients resuscitated from clinical death, 12 percent reported near-death experiences, where they had an out-of-body experience and saw a light at the end of a tunnel.: Lommel, P. V., R. V. Wees, V. Meyers, I. Elfferich. 2001. “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands.” Lancet. Vol 358 No. 9298: 2039.
I read the article from the perspective of a practicing physician who spends all his time in an acute care hospital and has been involved with many cardiac arrests over the years. The NDE question in this study hinges on whether the were dead or nearly dead. In the article the authors “defined clinical death as a period of unconsciousness caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain because of inadequate blood circulation, breathing, or both. If, in this situation, CPR is not started within 5–10 min, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die.”
Every patient in this study had CPR, most within 10 minutes of their cardiac arrest, so they all had blood delivered to their brain. That is the point of CPR. The authors write: “If purely physiological factors resulting from cerebral anoxia caused NDE, most of our patients should have had this experience.” Yet, good CPR does not lead to cerebral anoxia. Most patients in this study did not have an NDE because they had CPR, so they had blood and oxygen delivered to the brain; thus, they could not have an anoxia mediated NDE.
So the real question is whether patients who had brain anoxia had an NDE, and there is no way to determine that in this paper. CPR by its self is not a good surrogate for cerebral anoxia. Having a cardiac arrest and being promptly coded does not mean there is insufficient blood and oxygen being supplied to the brain. CPR has variable efficacy, depending on the both the patient and the experience of the provider. Most of us who have had to be involved with a code know, for example, the horrible sensation of all the ribs cracking when you start CPR on a frail old lady and knowing that the CPR is probably not going to be effective.
As a result of variable CPR, the time it takes the brain to become anoxic is variable. And it is surprising at how little oxygen people can tolerate with no discernible dysfunction in their cognition, although you might not want them flying your 747. People come into the hospital all the time with the amount of oxygen in their blood decreased by 30,40, and even 50 percent, and yet can still walk and talk.
The point is that during a resuscitated cardiac arrest the ability of the brain to get oxygen can be quite variable, and if the CPR is done effectively the brain gets enough oxygen that it is not damaged. By the definitions presented in the Lancet paper, nobody experienced clinical death. No doctor would ever declare a patient in the middle of a code 99 dead, much less brain dead. Having your heart stop for 2 to 10 minutes and being promptly resuscitated doesn’t make you “clinically dead”. It only means your heart isn’t beating and you may not be consciousness. Declaring someone dead if their heart isn’t beating is not a good definition.
What about brain death? Here there are many criteria: the patient has to have no clinical evidence of brain function by physical examination, including no response to pain and a variety of nerve reflexes that do not work: cranial nerve, pupillary response (fixed pupils), oculocephalic reflex (steady gaze), corneal reflex (lack of reflexive blinking to stimulation), and no spontaneous respirations. They have to be off all drugs that mimic brain death for several days and they cannot have metabolic conditions that mimic death. It is important to distinguish between brain death and states that mimic brain death and most of the patients received either a benzo (valium like drugs) and/or a narcotic. A flat line EEG, two at least 24 hours apart, is another criteria. In other words, being declared brain dead is a time consuming and detailed procedure, as it should be. This will become important in a moment.
Michael Shermer at least quotes the paper that the patients were “clinically dead” using the authors’ own flawed definitions. But as we have seen, their definition of being clinically dead is an artifice used for the paper but of no clinical or physiological relevance. Deepak Chopra declares “when there was no measurable activity in the brain, when they were in fact brain dead,” and yet nowhere in the Lancet article do the authors mention whether, besides being unconscious, neurologic function was assessed and the clinical diagnosis of brain dead was determined.
In the discussion of the paper the authors state “Also, in cardiac arrest the EEG usually becomes flat in most cases within about 10 seconds from onset of syncope [loss of consciousness].” They reference an Annals of Internal Medicine article (“Electrocerebral accompaniments of Syncope Associated with Malignant Ventricular Arrhythmia’s.” 1988 Jun;108(6):791–6), as well as one in the journal Anesthesiology ( “Electroencephalographic Changes During Brief Cardiac Arrest in Humans.” 1990;73:821–25), where they put EEG monitors on patients who were having defibrillators implanted. One of the side effects of having a defibrillator implanted is that your heart is often stopped for a period of time, or you have a heart rhythm induced called ventricular tachycardia, that is usually fatal but can, to a small degree, perfuse the brain.
That is not true. I pulled the articles and read them. What they showed was slowing, attenuation, and other changes, but only a minority of patients had a flat line, and it took longer than 10 seconds. The curious thing was that even a little blood flow in some patients was enough to keep EEG’s normal To quote the annals paper, “Electroencephalographic changes were variable. Background slowing was usually followed by relative loss of electrocerebral activity.” It is a big difference between this and saying everyone flat lines in 10 seconds.
How long does it take to flat line? If there is zero perfusion, the experts at my hospital tell me it is more like 20 seconds. That’s with no perfusion. And the EEG experts tell me that the sensitivity of an EEG for function is more like a one megapixel camera than a 5 megapixel. The brain probably doesn’t start to die until several minutes elapses. In my state an EEG is considered so insensitive it does not have to be included as part of the criteria for determining if someone is brain dead; although we get it anyway, a flat line EEG is only part of the mix.
So there is a flat line EEG that occurs acutely when the brain is not getting oxygen, and there is the flat line that occurs when the brain is dead, and an EEG cannot distinguish between them. Only the person at the bedside can do that. So when the authors of the Lancet article write, “in cardiac arrest the EEG usually becomes flat in most cases within about 10 seconds from onset of syncope,” this is not supported by the literature they reference.
Mr. Chopra’s analysis that NDE patients are flat line and brain dead suffers from the same problems as the authors of the Lancet article. It simply isn’t supported by the particulars of the literature he quotes. Both Chopra and Shermer quote the article correctly as to number of NDE, although it depends on how an NDE is defined, hence saying 12 percent (Shermer) or 18 percent (Chopra) of patients had an NDE is correct, depending on how many criteria you include in a definition of an NDE. As well, the Lancet paper authors suspect a selection bias in their study and offer a “real” rate of 10 percent for NDE, or only 5 percent of patients if based on the number of resuscitations, as more CPRs lead to more NDEs. They also admit in the discussion that their broad definition of NDEs makes their percentage higher because it is more inclusive. It is all in how you define NDE.
One final curious caveat appears in the Lancet paper: “The investigators report that, at the 2-year follow-up, four of 37 patients contacted to act as controls (i.e., people who had not initially reported an NDE) reported that they had had one. Although these patients represent fewer than 1% of the total sample, they represent over 10% of the 37 patients interviewed with a view to acting as controls. If this subsample is at all representative, it implies that around 30 patients from the sample of 282 who initially denied an NDE would, if they had survived for another 2 years, be claiming that they had had one. ” Some of the NDEs were, it seems, implanted memories.
The discussion also greatly exaggerates the conclusions that can be drawn from their data. “We did not show that psychological, neurophysiological, or physiological factors caused these experiences after cardiac arrest.” Of course not, since the study could not have any reliable data as to causation of NDE’s.
This is followed by “NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation.” I do not see this conclusion from the data in this article. Upon close reading I think the only thing this paper is qualified to determine is a description of who get NDEs and what patients report. As to etiology of NDEs, much less mind-brain relations, it can say nothing. The authors’ reach exceeds their grasp.
I am not saying NDEs don’t happen, and I am certainly not going to disagree with the idea that nearly dying is transformative. It is probably why real NDEs have greater effects on people than lab induced NDEs. The knowledge that you are truly mortal is life altering. Cancer survivors can have the same epiphany without the cardiac arrest.
The devil is in the details. As is so often the case, when you go back and read the original paper and its references, what the paper says and what the paper is purported to say often turn out to be two very different things.

donderdag 26 juni 2008

Atheist Life vs Religious Life

Welkom Turkije!

Let air passengers smoke dope, say Denver potheads

How to beat air rage, man
By Lester Haines → More by this author
Published Wednesday 25th June 2008 13:17 GMT
Nail down your security priorities. Ask the experts and your peers at The Register Security Debate, April 17, 2008

A pro-marijuana group has come up with an ingenious plan to combat air rage - let passengers skin up before flying out of Denver International Airport (DIA) which has become "a hot spot for arrests of drunken, unruly airplane passengers", according to the Denver Post.

Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, aka SAFER, is on a mission to "educate the public about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to both the user and to society".

SAFER's executive director Mason Tavert highlighted a case last week during which a woman became "so belligerent that she broke through her plastic handcuffs and punched a flight attendant in the face." He insisted: "This madness has got to stop. And we're providing a very viable solution."

While SAFER is not against booze being sold in DIA, it reckons marijuana "alleviates anxiety for people who are afraid to fly and that passengers could use pot in the smoking lounges at the airport as a safer alternative to alcohol".

The plan is not actually as implausible as it sounds, since the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel recently "approved a recommendation to city officials ... that the Denver City Attorney's Office should adopt a formal policy to stop prosecuting cases of private adult marijuana possession".

While DIA is under FAA jursidiction, and therefore bound by federal law which deeply frowns on dope smoking, SAFER argues that since the airport's smoking lounge is "outside of security", it's the responsibility of Denver Police. Accordingly, anxious passengers might use it avail themselves of Denver's new "lowest law enforcement priority" regarding weed.

However, DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon said he "does not foresee marijuana smoking in the airport", stressing: "Marijuana is illegal isn't it?" ®


July 1 kicks off the big year for Charles Darwin. July 1, 2008, is the 150th anniversary of the first announcement of Darwin’s discovery of natural selection—until recently considered the main driving force of evolution.

This still remains a fundamental principle. During recent years, however, science has dramatically expanded the picture for human evolution. Underway is a significant shift from the old “kill thy neighbor” to a startling new “love thy neighbor” perspective.

Pioneering brain research, humanistic psychology, chaos theory, evolutionary systems science, as well as in physics and biology—in fields across the full spectrum for science evidence of a far more hopeful new perspective on human evolution is emerging.

Along with Darwin’s own long ignored moral-action-oriented completion for his theory of evolution, this hopeful new mix for science is the subject of a new six book Darwin Anniversary Book Cycle being published by the Benjamin Franklin Press. First books for the Cycle are now entering the global book stream through Amazon, Powells, Barnes & Noble, and through other online book sellers worldwide, with availability in book stores through the largest U.S. distributor, Ingrams.

Bankrolling Evolution

First of the six, Bankrolling Evolution: A Program for a President, links the concerns of European and Asian as well as American scientists directly to the current political situation in America. The book shows how the disasters of Bush years policies in America were driven by old model “survival of the fittest” and “selfish gene” Darwinism. Openly aligned to the shift to progressive leadership, it shows how under an Obama U.S. presidency the hopeful new scientific mix can be put to use to meet the immense environmental, political, economic, and social challenges we face globally.

Measuring Evolution

Second in the new Darwin Cycle, Measuring Evolution: A Leadership Guide to the Health and Wealth of Nations, is a report of the development of a new measure of local, national, and global health and wellbeing based on a new reconstruction of Darwin’s theory and the findings of modern scientific fields that corroborate it. Designed to provide a guide to more effective action for bettering our situation worldwide, the Global Sounding monitors a “new Darwinian” full range for evolution—from cosmic, chemical, and biological, to cultural, moral, and spiritual evolution.

Darwin’s Lost Theory

Third and core book for the Cycle, Darwin’s Lost Theory, uncovers the full picture for the revolutionary, yet strangely ignored, “second half” for Darwin’s theory of evolution. It tells of how Darwin's observations of the primacy of mutual aid, education, love, and moral sensitivity for human evolution were "buried in plain sight" during 100 years of our fixation on “survival of the fittest” —even though Darwin himself specifically insisted “other agencies” are more important at our level of evolution. It shows how recognition of this “lost” Darwinian theory could have changed the 20th century for the better—and can still help do the same for the 21st century.

Darwin on Love

Fourth for the Cycle is Darwin on Love. Long scattered throughout Darwin’s writings are ninety five stories of the love and sex life of an intriguing range of animals. Through the charm and delight of Darwin’s own love story—and the insights and humor of these ninety five stories of love and sex for the first time brought together here—this book provides an engaging introduction to the story and theory of Darwin for readers of all ages.

The Derailing of Evolution

Fifth for the Cycle, forthcoming in 2009, is The Derailing of Evolution. Detailing the dramatic, century-long battle of progressive scientists against the distortion of Darwin’s theory, this book reveals the power of how our minds can be seized by an over-riding paradigm that—with the best intentions of even the brightest of minds—can blindly drive us toward destruction. It underlines the importance of a new Darwinian model combining both parts of Darwin’s original vision of what in reality drives us ahead, checks us in place, or drives us backward in evolution.

Telling the New Story

Sixth for the Cycle, also for publication in 2009, Telling the New Story, is the first of a series on a new updating and expansion for the science and story of evolution by innovative educators. From grade school through graduate studies—with crucial attention to the media—the series will provide teacher’s guides and curricula designed to accelerate a shift in education from fixation on old model Darwinism to a new model science and story of “a place for every one of us in evolution.”

The Backstage Story

Behind this Darwin Anniversary Book Cycle lies the amazing story of how it came to be written and only published now after nearly twenty years.

All six books are the result of nearly two decades of research and writing by a single author: psychologist, evolutionary systems scientist, and author of the award-winning The Healing of a Nation, David Loye.

During the Cold War days, with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over the world, Loye was one of a handful of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain who met secretly in Budapest to see if they might jointly develop an alternative to the “old Darwinian” theory and mindset of “survival of the fittest” and “selfish genes” then driving the U.S. and Russia toward mutual destruction.

Out of this historic venture came the formation of two groups of leading American, European, and Asian scientists and educators to pursue this goal. Out of their research came Loye’s discovery of Darwin’s long ignored “higher” theory. Out of this potential scientific bombshell came the uphill battle against the old Darwinian paradigm for science, politics, economics, and the conservative take-over for late 20th century American publishing the new Darwin series reports.

For the rescue, reconstruction, and joining of Darwin’s lost “top half” to the “first half” for his theory of evolution, Dr.Loye has been widely hailed.

“...everyone concerned with our understanding of evolution on this planet owes Loye a deep debt of gratitude...Of urgent importance to the intellectual discourse of our time...has brought his unique erudition to an enormous and critical task, and carried it off with genius...Should cause a revolution in social theory...Dramatically changes our understanding of Darwin and of evolution itself...One of the major books of the early Twenty-First Century," internationally eminent scientists have written of the key book for the Cycle, Darwin’s Lost Theory.

For the six new Darwin Anniversary Cycle books, the Benjamin Franklin Press provides a “look inside” at covers, contents, author bio, and key chapters on its website:
# # #

Astronomers on verge of finding Earth's twin Planet hunters say doppelgänger is almost surely hiding in our galaxy

Planet hunters say it's just a matter of time before they lasso Earth's twin, which almost surely is hiding somewhere in our star-studded galaxy.

Momentum is building: Just last week, astronomers announced they had discovered three super-Earths — worlds more massive than ours but small enough to most likely be rocky — orbiting a single star. And dozens of other worlds suspected of having masses in that same range were found around other stars.

"Being able to find three Earth-mass planets around a single star really makes the point that not only may many stars have one Earth, but they may very well have a couple of Earths," said Alan Boss, a planet formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington, D.C.
Story continues below ↓advertisement

Since the early 1990s, when the first planets outside of our solar system were detected orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257, astronomers have identified nearly 300 such worlds. However, most of them are gas giants called hot Jupiters that orbit close to their stars because, simply, they are easier to find.

"So far we've found Jupiters and Saturns, and now our technology is becoming good enough to detect planets smaller, more like the size of Uranus and Neptune, and even smaller," said one of the top planet hunters on this world, Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley.

Marcy, Boss and other scientists are optimistic that within the next five or so years headlines will be splashed with news of a near twin of Earth in another star system.

"What is amazing to me is that for thousands of years humans have gazed at the stars, wondering if there might be another Earth out there somewhere," Boss told "Now we know enough to say that Earth-like planets are indeed orbiting many of those stars, unseen perhaps, but there nevertheless."

Seeing tiny planets
Two techniques are now standard for spotting other worlds. Most of the planets noted to date have been discovered using the radial velocity method, in which astronomers look for slight wobbles in a star's motion due to the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet. This favors detection of very massive planets that are very close to their host stars.

With the transit method, astronomers watch for a dimming of light when a planet passes in front of its host star. Though more haphazard, this approach works when telescopes scan the light from hundreds or thousands of stars at once.

The search for extrasolar planets
How scientists detect worlds beyond the solar system
Both methods are limited by their ability to block out the overshadowing light of the host star. For instance, the sun is 100 times larger, 300,000 times more massive and up to 10 billion times brighter than Earth. "Detecting Earth in reflected light is like searching for a firefly six feet from a searchlight that is 2,400 miles distant," writes a panel of astronomers recently in their final report of the Exoplanet Task Force.

With upgrades in spectrometers and digital cameras attached to telescopes, astronomers' eyes have become more sensitive to relatively tiny stellar wobbles (measured by changes in certain wavelengths of light) and dips in starlight from ever smaller planets.

The discovery of super-Earths announced last week reflects this technological leap.

"I think why astronomers are really excited [about the super-Earth discovery] is it just shows that technology has really matured and so they're able to see these very subtle wobbles due to these low-mass planets," said David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts. "Those were fairly massive stars. If they were able to get the same precision on a lower-mass star, they would be able to look at even lower-mass planets and so those really would be analogs of the Earth."

To eek out even more sensitivity from current technologies, Charbonneau suggests astronomers look for worlds around small stars.

He and other astronomers are in fact probing the universe for transiting planets orbiting M dwarfs, or red dwarfs, which are about 50 percent dimmer than the sun and much less massive. Red dwarfs are also considered the most common star type in the universe.

"I think the real opportunity there is to study low-mass stars, and that's because we're looking for very small planets," Charbonneau said. "The difficulty is the ratio between the planet's mass and the star's mass or the planet's size and the star's size depending on how you want to find it."

The low mass and luminosity means any changes to the star due to an Earth-mass planet are much more likely to be detected.

"A late M star is about 10 times smaller than the sun," said Penn State's James Kasting, who studies planetary atmospheres and the habitable zones of exoplanets. "So Earth going in front of an M star would give a 1 percent signal. That's like Jupiter going in front of the sun." Kasting added, "We could conceivably find an Earth analog planet by this method within the next five or ten years."

Other teams are gearing up to look for Earth-like worlds orbiting massive stars like the sun. NASA's Kepler observatory is scheduled for launch in February 2009, after which the high-powered telescope will monitor about 100,000 stars in the Milky Way looking for periodic dimming of starlight due to a planet's transit in front of the star.

The French COROT mission is already up in space working in a similar fashion.

The ultimate goal of planet-hunting projects is to find Earth twins.

"We are looking for twins of the Earth, analogs that walk and talk and smell like our own Earth," Marcy said during a telephone interview. He is currently looking for super-Earths using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Such a twin would be rocky, with a similar chemical composition to Earth, and would orbit within the habitable zone of its star.

The habitable zone defines the distance at which a planet must orbit from its star for liquid water to exist on its surface — not too hot like Venus, not too cold like Neptune or Pluto.

Astronomers have found planets orbiting pretty close to the habitable zone, but none so far within it.

"I suspect there are Earth-like planets with lakes and rivers and waterfalls and deep glacial gorges and that are spectacularly beautiful," Marcy said.

Finding a planet in the habitable zone is the first step toward finding alien life.

"When we say it's a habitable world, all we're doing is saying it potentially could hold life," Boss said. "To go beyond that to say, 'Here's a habitable world; is it inhabited,' then you need to start studying the atmosphere of the planet."

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled for launch in 2013, could do just that.

"There might be a signal in the atmosphere that could be a smoking gun and would suggest that plate tectonics is there," said earth and planetary scientist Diana Valencia of Harvard University.

Her computer models have shown that plate tectonics, the forces that move continents and lift gigantic mountain ranges, are key to life on Earth as we know it, and possibly to life on other worlds. That's because as the rocky plates that form the planet's outer shell move about, they also recycle carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas keeps our planet's temperature balmy, but not too hot. And the telltale signal would be certain levels of carbon dioxide, suggesting that just as on Earth, this other world relies on plate tectonics to cycle carbon.

But first things first. "There's no doubt that other Earths exist, simply due to the sheer vast numbers of other stars and galaxies in our universe," Marcy said. "There's a deeper question — how common are Earth-like planets? Are Earth-like planets a dime a dozen, or are they quite rare, quirky precious planets that are one in a thousand or one in a million?"
© 2007 All rights reserved. More from

woensdag 25 juni 2008

Betty Bowers Explains Prayer to Everyone Else

Krokodillenbaby's communiceren in het ei

25-06-2008 | Door: Nanda Millenaar DAG
De baby's kruipen sneller uit hun ei na een geluidje te hebben gehoord.
Babykrokodillen ‘praten’ met elkaar. Vanuit het ei communiceren ze met ‘umph, umph, umph’. Het klinkt misschien niet erg welbespraakt, maar na vele jaren gissen hebben twee Franse wetenschappers het bewezen: het geluid dat een baby Nijlkrokodil maakt vlak voordat hij uit het ei komt heeft betekenis. ‘Umph’ is namelijk krokodillentaal voor iets in de trant van ‘ik kom eraan’. Met het geluid laten de kleintjes elkaar weten dat het tijd is om uit het ei te komen. Ook moeder wordt zo op de hoogte gesteld van de blije gebeurtenis. Daarnaast is het maken van geluid belangrijk voor de veiligheid. Door met zoveel mogelijk tegelijk uit te komen zijn de overlevingskansen het grootst.

De Franse Amélie Vergne en Nicolas Mathevon van de Université Jean Monnet publiceerden hun resultaten gisteren in het tijdschrift Current Biology. Voor het onderzoek hebben de twee onderzoekers een nest met eieren uitgegraven en verdeeld in drie groepen. Eén groep lieten ze een bandje met ‘umph’ geluiden horen, een tweede groep kreeg gewoon geluid te horen en de derde groep eieren lieten ze in stilte liggen. De eieren die de ‘umph’ opname te horen kregen begonnen zelf ook geluid te maken en kwamen vervolgens massaal binnen tien minuten uit. Bij krokodillenbaby’s die gewoon lawaai of helemaal niets hoorden, duurde het minimaal 5 uur langer voordat ze uit hun ei kropen.

dinsdag 24 juni 2008

Fokke en Sukke en de Olympische Spelen

Enkele feiten met betrekking tot roken

• Every eight seconds, someone in the world dies due to tobacco.

• Every day about 2,000 youth become daily smokers.

• Every day about 4,400 kids age 12 to 17 try a cigarette for the first time.

• In 1990, 72 million bottles of a popular mineral water were voluntarily recalled because of small traces of benzene. The smoke from one pack of unfiltered cigarettes has as much benzene as 169 bottles of the contaminated water.

• How do infants avoid secondhand smoke? "At some point they begin to crawl." - Tobacco Executive 1996

• In as little as 2 weeks nicotine changes the brains chemistry and addiction can begin.

• In 1990, a tobacco company put together a plan to stop Coroners from listing tobacco as a cause of death on a death certificate.

• Cigarette smoke contains 69 chemical compounds that are known cause cancer.

• Cigarette smoke contains the radioactive isotope Polonium-210.

• In 1989, millions of cases of imported fruit were banned after a small amount of cyanide was found in just two grapes. There's thirty-three times more cyanide ina single cigarette than was found in those two grapes.

• One tobacco company developed a genetically altered tobacco with twice the addictive nicotine of regular tobacco. They code-named it "Y-1."

• In 1984, one tobacco company referred to new customers as "replacement smokers."

• Tobacco companies make $1.8 billion from under age sales.

• Pee contains urea. Some tobacco companies add urea to cigarettes.

• In 1980, a tobacco company considered looking at itself as a "drug company."


Ik zou naakt kunnen zijn
Tot op het bot,
Tot op mijn ziel
Naakter dan naakt,
Naakter dan mijn huid
Als ik mij bloot kon geven

Ik zou naakt willen zijn,
Voor wie ik liefheb
Zou ik naakt willen zijn,
Niets willen verhullen,
Me niet verbergen
Tussen het geboomte
Ik wil voorbij de schaamte zijn,
Zo naakt zijn als een kind

Zou ik naakt willen zijn?
Naakt tot op mijn intiemste delen,
Alles blootgesteld aan het felle zonlicht,
Zonder bomen met hun schaduw
om te schuilen,
zonder plek waar ik me verborgen weet?

Zou ik naakt kunnen zijn?
Zou ik mij kunnen geven?
Zou ik jou aan kunnen kijken,
Jou laten kijken in mijn ziel ?
Zou ik je vertrouwen,
Zou ik naakt kunnen zijn.

maandag 23 juni 2008

Bijna dood

Sinds het verschijnen van het boek van de cardioloog Pim van Lommel, Eindeloos bewustzijn , staat het verschijnsel bijna dood ervaring (BDE) weer volop in de belangstelling. Van Lommel beweert dat hij wetenschappelijk kan aantonen dat bijna dood ervaringen bestaan. Mensen die een bijna dood ervaring hebben, hebben niet alleen die ervaring, maar deze ervaring heeft ook een basis in de werkelijkheid. Mensen verbeelden zich dus niet zomaar iets en ze verzinnen ook niet zomaar iets. Wat ze meemaken is echt meent Van Lommel. Hij baseert zich op de ervaringen van mensen die een hartaanval hebben overleefd. In 2001 heeft hij de resultaten van zijn onderzoek in het prestigieuze medische tijdschrift The Lancet weten te publiceren. In 2007 verscheen zijn boek Eindeloos bewustzijn dat onmiddellijk een bestseller werd.
Wat is een BDE en waarom fascineert het verschijnsel ons zo? Deze fascinatie heeft alles te maken met een verlangen naar een leven na de dood. Ook Hollywood heeft dit ontdekt. In de film Flatliners (1990) experimenteren vier medische studenten met bijna dood ervaringen door een hartstilstand te forceren. Ze willen weten of er een leven na de dood is. De titel slaat op het gegeven dat er bij een hartstilstand een vlakke lijn te zien valt op de meetapparatuur. Op dat moment ben je klinisch dood. Op dat moment is er geen hersenactiviteit meetbaar met een zogeheten EEG en zou je dus, volgens van Lommel, geen bewuste ervaringen hebben. Bij een bijna dood ervaring heb je op dat moment wel een bewuste ervaring en daarom moeten we, volgens Van Lommel, aannemen dat het bewustzijn onafhankelijk van de hersenen zou bestaan. Het gangbare wetenschappelijke uitgangspunt dat het bewustzijn een product van de hersenen is zou daarom op de helling moeten. Volgens Van Lommel kent het bewustzijn geen begin en geen einde en moeten we de hersenen zien als een soort ontvangstcentrale. Het bewustzijn is volgens Van Lommel niet materieel. De gedachte dat er een niet materieel bewustzijn en een leven na de dood zouden kunnen bestaan is voor veel mensen zeer aantrekkelijk. Vragen rond leven en dood blijven de mensen fascineren.
Een Bijna Dood Ervaring (BDE) is eigenlijk een soort ‘uittreding’. Het is een ‘uittreding’ die zich meestal voordoet bij een ongeluk, tijdens een operatie of bij een toestand van zware ziekte waarbij het fysieke lichaam op de rand van de dood verkeert. Vaak is de persoon zelfs klinisch dood geweest. Een deel van de ervaring is hetzelfde als bij een gewone uittreding zoals het waarnemen van plaatsen en personen enz.
Mensen die een bijnadoodervaring krijgen kunnen onder andere de volgende ervaringen opdoen: zij kunnen uit het lichaam treden en zien alles wat er om hen heen gebeurt. Zij horen wat er gezegd wordt door mensen en zien dikwijls hun eigen lichaam liggen, wat ze zonder emotie aanschouwen.
Zij kunnen door een tunnel of spiraalvormig element gaan wat soms wel en soms niet als prettig ervaren wordt. In deze fase zien zij op een gegeven moment een lichtpunt waar zij zich op richten en komen dan in de lichtwereld terecht. Sommige ervaarders komen rechtstreeks in de lichtwereld zonder een tunnelervaring voorafgaand. Daar aangekomen kunnen zij verschillende voorstellingen aanschouwen: een paradijselijke omgeving, een prachtig landschap met groen glooiende heuvels beplant met prachtige bomen, planten en bloemen die heel mooi van kleur zijn en in de aardse wereld nooit te zien zijn. Deze voorstellingen worden soms aangevuld met prachtige kleuren en wonderschone muziek.
In deze wereld kunnen lichtfiguren zich aan de ervaarder presenteren en deze figuren worden (terug in het aardse leven) door het individu verschillend geïnterpreteerd, zoals bijvoorbeeld engelen, Jezus, Christus, God, Lichtbron, het al, de Schepper, Boeddha et cetera. De namen die aan de figuren wordt gegeven is afhankelijk van de cultuur waaruit men afkomstig is en welk geloof de ervaarder aanhangt.
Met deze lichtwezens wordt veelal gesproken of lichamelijk contact gemaakt en er vindt een onuitsprekelijke ervaring van 'liefdesoverdracht' plaats. Ook vindt er soms een levensoverzicht plaats in het bijzijn van een liefdevol lichtwezen, die zonder oordeel over jou, je laat zien hoe je je leven tot nu toe hebt ervaren. Je wordt geconfronteerd met de voor jou goede en minder goede manieren in het leven en tijdens het overzicht ervaart de persoon de gevoelens (pijn én vreugde) van de medemens (alsof hij die persoon zelf is!) waarmee hij of zij (gedurende zijn leven!) in contact heeft gestaan. Dit kan heel confronterend zijn voor de ervaarder, omdat de ervaarder zélf gaat ervaren wat de vreugde en pijn was die hij of zij heeft gegeven in het leven.
Ook wordt er vaak aan de ervaarder gevraagd of hij of zij geleerd heeft om lief te hebben. Door de bijnadoodervaring heeft de ervaarder inzicht gekregen hoe hij of zij kan proberen om de (tot dan toe) verkeerde dingen in zijn of haar leven een goede wending te geven. Een voorbeeld van een bekend persoon die een BDE gehad heeft is Peter Sellers. De ‘Pink Panther’ , of inspecteur Clouseau. Na zijn eerste hartaanval was hij klinisch dood en had hij een BDE .’ Ik voelde mezelf uit mijn lichaam gaan .Ik zweefde gewoon uit mijn fysieke lichaam en zag dat ze mijn lichaam naar het hospitaal reden. Ik ging mee… Ik was helemaal niet bang of zo. Ik voelde me heel goed. Het was mijn lichaam dat een probleem had.’.
Ondertussen probeerde men hem te reanimeren.

‘Ik keek rond mij en zag een ongelooflijk helder mooi en liefdevol wit licht boven mij. Ik wilde niets meer dan naar dat licht te gaan…. Ik wist dat er liefde, echte liefde was aan de andere zijde van het licht. En deze liefde trok me zo sterk aan…’

Toen zijn hart terug begon te werken werd hij terug naar zijn fysieke lichaam gezogen. Ontgoocheld ontwaakte hij uit zijn toestand van klinische dood.

Deze ervaring had een diepe invloed op Peter Sellers. Hij geraakte erdoor overtuigd van het bestaan van reïncarnatie . Hij begon zich te verdiepen in een aantal geestelijke zaken en begon ook met yoga.
Dit is dus wat mensen ervaren. Dit zegt niets over de oorzaak van deze ervaringen of het achterliggende mechanisme. Uit het verhaal van Sellers wordt duidelijk dat een BDE het leven van mensen ingrijpend kan veranderen. Vaak wordt ook geclaimd dat mensen die een BDE hebben gehad daarna beschikken over paranormale gaven. Dit wordt ook gebruikt als argument voor het waarheidsgehalte van bijna dood ervaringen.
Wat moeten we hier nu van vinden? Is er werkelijk geen normale wetenschappelijke verklaring van de verschijnselen rond bijna dood ervaringen mogelijk? Als Van Lommel en andere aanhangers van de theorie dat BDE’s een verschijnsel zijn die overeenkomen met een stand van zaken in de werkelijkheid, dan hebben we een probleem. De hele wetenschap zou dan overhoop moeten. Het is de vraag of Van Lommel echt iets bewezen heeft. Zijn methodologie en bewijsvoering lijken me niet erg sterk. Een bekend adiagum uit de wetenschap is dat buitengewone aannames vragen om buitengewone bewijzen. De zogenaamde bewijzen waar Van Lommel mee komt zijn buitengewoon zwak. De argumenten waarmee hij de gangbare verklaringen van tafel veegt lijken me ook niet erg sterk.
Een van de meer gebruikelijke verklaringen is om BDE’s te verklaren vanuit een zuurstofgebrek in de hersenen. Volgens Van Lommel kan dit niet kloppen. Bij een zuurstoftekort zou er sprake zijn van een uitval van hersenactiviteit die gepaard gaat met hallucinaties en gevoelens van vrede en geluk. Dit zou komen doordat bepaalde receptoren in de hersenen worden geblokkeerd en maakt het lichaam een soort morfine (endorfine) aan. Volgens Van Lommel zou dit niet kunnen “omdat juist een verruimd en helder bewustzijn met herinneringen wordt ervaren en omdat er ook omstandigheden zijn zoals een dreigend verkeersongeluk of een depressie waarin een BDE kan worden zonder dat er sprake is van een zuurstofgebrek.” (Van Lommel, 2007, p.110) Uit het onderzoek van Van Lommel blijkt dat 18% van de mensen die een hartstilstand krijgen een BDE ervaren. Daaruit trekt hij de conclusie dat het bewustzijn wel los van de hersenen moet bestaan. Die 18% is echter consistent met de wetenschappelijke literatuur. Wanneer men bij een hartstilstand hartmassage toepast zal de bloedtoevoer naar de hersenen weer op gang komen. Op dat moment is de gemiddelde stroomsterkte in de hersenen niet genoeg om bewustzijn in de hersenen op te wekken. We hebben het hier echter over een gemiddelde. Er zijn dus variaties. Bij sommige mensen zou de stroomsterkte in de hersenen dus wel sterk genoeg kunnen zijn om bewustzijn op te wekken. Dit is bij ongeveer 20% van de reanimaties het geval. Dan is er de tunnel van licht die mensen zeggen te ervaren bij een BDE. Anesthesioloog Gerald Woerlee heeft hier een heel overtuigde verklaring voor. Ons oogweefsel heeft veel zuurstof nodig, meer nog dan de hersenen. Als er na hartstilstand slechts weinig zuurstof beschikbaar is, dan wordt het beetje zuurstof dat er nog is, gebruikt in het centrale deel van de ogen. Je ziet dus meer licht in het midden dan aan de randen, wat de ‘tunnel van licht’ verklaart. Het felle licht dat volgens mensen met een BDE aan het eind van de tunnel te zien is, kan worden verklaard door de verwijde pupillen van de bijna-overledene. Slechts een bescheiden lichtbron lijkt dan al enorm fel. Heel veel verschijnselen die Van Lommel beschrijft zijn te verklaren uit zuurstofgebrek in de hersenen. Andere verklaringen zijn een teveel aan kooldioxide. Verder spelen veranderingen in de chemische huishouding van de hersenen plaats. Men kan onder invloed van ketamine (een stof die vroeger bij narcoses werd gebruikt) ervaringen hebben die lijken op bijna dood ervaringen. Hetzelfde geldt voor de endorfine die de hersenen zelf aanmaken en voor psychedelica zoals bijvoorbeeld LSD en psilocybine (paddo’s). De elektrische activiteit van de hersenen zou ook nog een rol kunnen spelen. Er zijn dus veel verklaringen mogelijk voor de verschijnselen die Van Lommel beschrijft die een stuk minder vergezocht zijn dan die van Van Lommel.
Er is stevige kritiek mogelijk op Van Lommel. Hij plaatst zich in feite buiten de wetenschap en begeeft zich op het glibberige pad van de ‘spiritualiteit’. Zijn bevindingen zijn net zo wetenschappelijk als het geloof in UFO’s , graancirkels of paranormale verschijnselen. Fox Mulder in de bekende televisieserie ‘The X Files’ had op zijn kantoor altijd een poster hangen met de afbeelding van een UFO met daarbij de tekst ‘I want to believe’ (ik wil geloven). Deze serie gaat over een afdeling van de FBI die zich bezig houdt met onopgeloste en onverklaarbare zaken; de zogenaamde x files. Fox Mulder wilde maar al te graag geloven in UFO’.s en paranormale verschijnselen. Mulder is een believer. Het willen geloven staat het zicht op de werkelijkheid in de weg. Pim van Lommel is net als Fox Mulder; hij wil graag geloven. Ook Van Lommel is een believer. Dat zorgt er voor dat hij weinig kritisch op zijn onderzoek, kritiek te makkelijk wegwuift en met onwaarschijnlijke verklaringen van het verschijnsel BDE komt. Veel van de verschijnselen die Van Lommel beschrijft zijn op een normale manier te verklaren. Voor de verschijnselen die niet wetenschappelijk te verklaren zijn, moeten we er op vertrouwen dat er op termijn wel een wetenschappelijke verklaring zal komen.

Raymond van Es

Fokke en Sukke weten raad

Humans could all be aliens

>From Marlowe Hood in Paris

June 14, 2008 04:30am

GENETIC material from outer space found in a meteorite in Australia may
well have played a key role in the origin of life on earth, according to
a study to be published on Sunday.

European and US scientists have proved for the first time two bits of
genetic coding, called nucleobases, contained in the meteor fragment,
are truly extraterrestrial.

Previous studies had suggested the space rocks, which hit earth about 40
years ago, might have been contaminated upon impact.

Both of the molecules identified, uracil and xanthine, "are present in
our DNA and RNA," said lead author Zita Martins, a researcher at
Imperial College London.

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is another key part of the genetic coding that
makes up our bodies.

These molecules would also have been essential to the still-mysterious
alchemy that somehow gave rise, about four billion years ago, to life

"We know that meteorites very similar to the Murchison meteorite, which
is the one we analysed, were delivering the building blocks of life to
earth 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago," Martins said.

Competing theories suggest nucleobases were synthesised closer to home,
but Martins said the atmospheric conditions of early earth would have
rendered that process difficult or impossible.

A team of European and US scientists showed the two types of molecules
in the Australian meteorite contained a heavy form of carbon - carbon 13
- which could only have been formed in space.

"We believe early life may have adopted nucleobases from meteoric
fragments for use in genetic coding, enabling them to pass on their
successful features to subsequent generations," Martins said.

If so, this would have been the start of an evolutionary process leading
over billions of years to all the flora and fauna - including human
beings - in existence today.

The study, to be published in Earth Planetary Science Letters, also has
implications for life on other planets.

"Because meteorites represent leftover materials from the formation of
the solar system, the key components of life - including nucleobases -
could be widespread in the cosmos," said co-author Mark Sephton, also at
Imperial College London.

"As more and more of life's raw materials are discovered in objects from
space, the possibility of life springing forth wherever the right
chemistry is present becomes more likely," he said.

Uracil is an organic compound found in RNA, where it binds in a genetic
base pair with another molecule, adenine.

Xanthine is not directly part of RNA or DNA, but participates in a
series of chemical reactions inside the RNA of cells.

The two types of nucleobases and the ratio of light-to-heavy carbon
molecules were identified through gas chromatography and mass
spectrometry, technologies that were not available during earlier
analyses of the now-famous meteorite.

Even so, said Martins, the process was extremely laborious and
time-consuming, one reason it had not be carried out up to now by other

zondag 22 juni 2008

Hoe meer religie, hoe slechter de schoolprestatie

Gepubliceerd: 21 juni 2008 09:22 | Gewijzigd: 21 juni 2008 09:26 NRC
Volgens onderwijssocioloog Jaap Dronkers beïnvloedt godsdienst de leerprestaties negatief. Maar een goede verklaring vergt nader onderzoek.
Door onze redacteur Japke-d. Bouma

Rotterdam, 21 juni. Migrantenkinderen van Chinese afkomst doen het in West-Europa, Australië en Nieuw-Zeeland beter in het onderwijs dan kinderen met een islamitische achtergrond.

Dat concludeert onderwijssocioloog Jaap Dronkers van het Europees Universitair Instituut in Florence. Hij baseert zich op onderzoek waarvan hij de resultaten volgende week presenteert op een congres in het Duitse Berlijn.

Chinezen zijn slimmer dan moslims?

„Het ligt natuurlijk genuanceerder. Ik heb kinderen van migranten beoordeeld op basis van 51 variabelen die hun schoolprestaties mogelijk beïnvloeden, voortbordurend op eerder onderzoek.

„In dit regressiemodel zitten individuele kenmerken, zoals de sociale klasse van de ouders, hun maatschappelijke status en hun opleidingsniveau, en de taal die ze thuis gebruiken.

„Ook zijn er maatschappijvariabelen van herkomst- en bestemmingsland, zoals bruto nationaal product per hoofd van de bevolking, de bestedingen aan onderwijs, politieke stabiliteit, individualisme, vrijheidsrechten – om maar wat te noemen.

„De grootste correlatie met onderwijsprestaties trad op bij religie. Chinese immigrantenkinderen doen het niet beter omdat ze slimmer zijn, maar omdat in het land waar hun ouders vandaan komen geen dominante religie bestaat.”

Kinderen met ouders uit moslimlanden doen het het slechtst in het onderwijs.

„Ja, dat volgt uit de berekeningen.”

Misschien zijn er andere factoren dan religie in het spel?

„Nou, er zitten zoveel bekende factoren als mogelijk in het model.”

Misschien presteren kinderen met ouders uit islamitische landen minder goed doordat ze stelselmatig armere ouders hebben die lager zijn opgeleid?

„Dat effect zit in het model. En het is zeker van invloed. Maar als je verder alle variabelen constant houdt, doen immigrantenkinderen van even laaggeschoolde en sociaal zwakke Koreanen, Filippijnen en Vietnamezen het beter dan kinderen van migranten uit moslimlanden. Het moet dus met de islam te maken hebben.”

Misschien is het de Arabische cultuur?

„Nee, want ik vind het effect ook bij kinderen uit Pakistan.”

Moslims zijn dommer?

„Dat is natuurlijk onzin. Maar wat er precies aan de hand is, daar moet nog onderzoek naar worden gedaan.”

U heeft geen enkel idee?

„Mijn onderzoek wijst naar drie mogelijke verklaringen. De eerste is dat moslims zich sneller gediscrimineerd voelen en daardoor minder goed presteren in het onderwijs. Uit eerder onderzoek blijkt dat Chinezen juist harder gaan werken als ze zich gediscrimineerd voelen, terwijl moslims zich dan in hun eer aantast voelen waardoor ze zich verzetten.

„Een tweede verklaring zou kunnen zijn dat de ideeën die moslims hebben over de verhouding tussen man en vrouw, en de relevantie die ze hechten aan de eer van de familie, in de weg staan van individuele ontplooiing. Die is belangrijk voor succes in moderne samenlevingen.

„En dan is er mogelijk nog sprake van het gastarbeidereffect.”

Het gastarbeidereffect?

„Daar bedoel ik mee dat de meeste kinderen met ouders die uit moslimlanden komen, in de onderzochte landen kinderen zijn van gastarbeiders. Die zijn vanuit de sociaal-economisch zwakste binnenlanden van Turkije, Algerije en Marokko naar West-Europa gehaald.

„Een normaal migratiepatroon is dat kansarmen vanuit rurale gebieden eerst binnen hun eigen land naar meer urbane gebieden migreren, en dan pas een overstap maken naar het buitenland.

„In de jaren zeventig van de vorige eeuw hebben we wat dat betreft een tegennatuurlijke migratiestroom op gang gebracht. ”

Immigranten uit islamitische landen waren destijds nog niet ‘klaar’ om naar West-Europa te migreren?

„Zo zou je het kunnen zeggen. Als bewijs voor die stelling kan je aanvoeren dat migrantenkinderen van ouders die uit een moslimland komen en een hoge sociaal-maatschappelijke status hebben, niet slechter presteren in het onderwijs in hun bestemmingsland dan immigrantenkinderen met ouders uit niet-islamitische landen.”

Het opleidingsniveau van ouders is dus tóch bepalend. Niet religie.

„Nee. Het effect van een hoge ouderlijke opleiding op onderwijsprestaties is alleen sterker dan het islameffect.”

Laagopgeleide ouders uit moslimlanden belijden wellicht een andere variant van de islam dan hogeropgeleide moslims?

„Dat zou ook nog kunnen.”

Is het niet gevaarlijk om zo te speculeren over de oorzaken?

„Wat ik heb gevonden, is deels al in ander onderzoek bevestigd.

„Overigens is het ook zo dat migrantenkinderen van ouders uit christelijke landen het slechter doen dan migrantenkinderen van ouders uit een land zonder dominante religie.”

Hoe meer religie, hoe slechter de schoolprestaties.

„Ja. Als je het confucianisme geen religie noemt.”

U schrijft in uw onderzoek dat het eigenlijk niet zoveel uitmaakt wat bestemmingslanden aan beleid voeren ten behoeve van immigranten.

„Dat zeg ik niet. Ik zeg dat de religie in het herkomstland van de ouders in mijn model sterker correleert dan al het beleid gericht op immigranten in het bestemmingsland.”

Dat is politiek gevoelige materie.

„Dit is mijn werk. Om ongelijkheid in de maatschappij te verklaren. Niet om de kop in het zand te steken.”