Rupert Sheldrake on “Science set Free” at Electric Universe conference

Rupert Sheldrake spoke about the 10 dogmas that plague science from his book, “Science set Free” at the Electric Universe conference at the beginning of January 2013.  Sheldrake say’s that science must be set free from the, “Science Delusion” or,  “The belief that science is already understood, the nature of reality and principle, leaving only the details to be filled in…people think they already know the truth.

Sheldrake’s believes that these 10 scientific dogmas must be let go, because none of them stand up to proof based on empirical observation. Sheldrake names them:

Dogma 1: “Mechanistic science, this has been a foundational principle since the beginning of modern science in the 17th Century… the belief that nature is mechanical, or machine-like.  Nature, stars animals and plants are machines.”    

“That’s why you can have industrial agriculture, genetic engineering and factory farming and so on, they’re just machines.

And we’re machines too, ‘lumbering robots’ in Richard Dawkin’s vivid phrase, with brains that are genetically programed computers.”  

Dogma 2: “The total amount of matter and energy is always the same, except at the moment of the Big Bang, when it all appeared from nowhere.”  

[The 3rd dogma is similar, that the Laws of Nature are fixed]  “The laws and constants of the world are the same today as they were at the moment of the Big Bang, when they they all suddenly appeared, like some cosmic Napoleonic code.” 

“As Terrence McKenna used to say, “Modern science is based on the principle, give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’

“The miracle is all from nothing in a single instant.” 

[The 4th dogma is that matter is unconscious.]   “The universe is made up of totally unconscious matter.”  

5th: “Nature is purposeless.  There are no purposes in nature and the evolutionary process has no purpose or direction.”  

“Six, biological inheritance is material. It’s genetic, in the genetic material DNA, or possibly in epigenetic modifications of the DNA, which are also chemical in nature or in cytoplasmic inheritance. But, at any rate, it’s all material.”  

7- “Memories are stored as material traces inside the brain.  Everything you remember is somewhere inside your head, as a stored memory.. in some material form which has not been fully identified..”   

8- “The mind is inside the head… your mind is nothing but what goes on in your brain.”  

9: “Psychic phenomena are illusory.  Things like telepathy can’t really happen because that would imply that the mind could be at a distance from the body and they can’t do that because it’s all inside the head.”  

Dogma 10:  “Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.  Alternative and Complementary therapies may appear to work but that’s only because people would have got better anyway or it’s all a placebo effect.”  [It’s the only kind taught in schools and funded by government agencies.]  

“This is essentially the Materialist world view.  And, it became the dominant view of science in the 19th Century.” 

“Science has been hijacked by Materialist philosophy.” 

“It wasn’t Materialist before the 19th c, it was Dualist.”

“I think we can go beyond that to a more inclusive, more organic, organismic paradigm for science.”



Is fracking Chattanooga Shale worth it?

Source: Sierra Club
Source: Sierra Club

Should Atlas Energy be allowed to fracture the limestone bedrock that makes up the shallow Chattanooga Shale for 50 gas wells?  Limestone is porous, hence radon, a type of radioactive decay seeps up through the ground to gather in crawl spaces under houses in the area.  Fracking chemicals like ethylene glycol and radioactive wastewater will also seep out through porous limestone and contaminate ground water.   Is it worth the risk of compromising our health and the health of our environment?

It’s worth pointing out that hydraulic fracturing is a new technology that allows gas drillers to make L-shaped turns at the bottom of wells and proceed horizontally to fracture rock for miles below the ground surface.  Fracking has not been proven to be safe and in fact, has shown early signs of being just the opposite.  It has been embraced in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Dakota.

But, the push for “energy independence” is on and no matter what the cost to our health and environment, the goal will be obtained.  Or, will it?  Just look at “Kuwait on the prairie” in North Dakota to see what the result of our unrelenting push for “energy independence” looks like.  It’s really an arrogant idea, considering that we’re all co-dependent on the Earth to sustain us and all life on the planet.

I was born at a time when fears over “peak oil” dominated the headlines.   That was when gas was only a fraction of a dollar per gallon.  Today, places on earth with natural oil abundance are besieged by wars and threats of wars.  And, the poorest 2 billion of Earth’s 7 billion human beings are starving.  That’s almost 1/4 of all homosapiens.

Meanwhile, the people who inhabit the U.S. make up 5% of the world’s population and consume 25% of the world’s resources.  Consumption really matters here.   Just ask television commercials and Walmart.

And, there’s this belief that more is better.  The economy must grow every year in order for capitalism to work.  But, how is that possible?   U.S. unemployment numbers are still way up.   The U.S. Government is 1 trillion dollars in debt to China and U.S. officials have decided it’s a great idea to repay our debt by providing China with U.S. natural resources, namely natural gas from hydraulically fractured shale, the very bedrock beneath our feet.

Meanwhile, reports of mysterious loud booms are ongoing, under reported and unexplained.  And farms near fracking sites report strange anamolies, like cow’s tails falling off.  Shallow earthquakes have also been reported near fracking well sites.  And, the USGS admits that fracking wastewater is radioactive.

But, the new, unproven technology has taken off since the current administration opened up U.S. Public Lands to hydraulic frackers.  This technology was also exempted in 2005 from the Clean Water Safety Act, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.   Will tar sands and pipelines restore “energy independence” in America?  If so, at what cost?

We might really have a shot at “energy independence” if we could figure out how to turn all of the radioactive waste created by fracking and nuclear industries into fuel.  The DOE suggests that we should make silverware from the ever growing pile of radioactive waste.

Once it’s fracked, it’s fracked.  Here are some recent reports about fracking in Tennessee.

Knox News reported that the University of Tn. at Knoxville would allow its lands to be fracked.  Here are some finer points from the article published in late 2012:

Tennessee’s Chattanooga shale is shallow — about 3,000 feet deep — and companies often use nitrogen rather than water to extract the gas, according to officials at UT and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation.”

There were 824 active wells producing gas across the state of Tennessee last year, and 320 of them were in Morgan and Scott counties, according to estimates from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.”

Most are shallow oil wells, and there have been only about 70 applications for horizontal wells in the history of the state, said Jonathon Burr, a scientist with TDEC.

Tennessee’s Chattanooga shale, which is thinner and shallower than the Marcellus shale in the Northeast, is most prevalent in the Cumberland Mountains and Plateau, but gets thinner and less viable toward the middle part of the state.”

Pam Sohn also covered the story for the Times Free Press, in an article entitled,” University of Tennessee eyes fracking on state property.”  She writes:

“Environmental groups around the state are outraged that the University of Tennessee is proposing to lease more than 8,636 acres of public land in East Tennessee to an energy company looking to do hydraulic fracturing for oil or gas.”

Sohn calls the UTK fracking idea the “quietly talked proposal”.   She writes:

..The quietly talked proposal — which surfaced as a UT research effort in December — has now been fast-tracked with little public discussion, and it now is on Thursday’s agenda of the executive subcommittee of the State Building Commission.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center is concerned with fracking regulations in 6 Southern states:

“As pressure mounts to tap into southeastern shale deposits, SELC is working on multiple fronts in our six states to prevent fracking in special natural areas like our national forests; to keep or put tough regulatory safeguards in place; and to head off the damage to public health, natural resources, rural countryside, and communities that has plagued other regions.”

SELC writes this about Tennessee:

“Oil and gas wells are not new to the Cumberland Plateau, but many more are expected to crop up now that fracking has made it feasible to reach untapped natural gas reservoirs. To head off problems that have occurred in other states, Tennessee’s environmental agency has proposed revisions to its oil and gas drilling regulations, but they do not go far enough to protect water and wildlife. High among SELC’s recommendations to the agency is to demand full, upfront disclosure of the chemicals and fracking fluids drilling companies will use, which is not required under federal law.

Do Tennessee’s new regulations demand disclosure?  No.  Appalachian Voices published this article on Tennessee’s new rules for fracking:

“New fracking rules in the Volunteer State will have little to no effect on the state’s emerging natural gas drilling operations, the Tennessee Clean Water Network says. According to the new Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation rules, the public will be notified of new fracking only if the operation’s water use will exceed 200,000 gallons more more, although no current or proposed fracking sites are close to meeting that threshold. Prior to TDEC’s
finalization of the rules, environmental and citizen groups proposed numerous changes, including lowering the threshold water use, extending public comment periods, prohibiting chemicals such as diesel fuel in fracking fluids and extending the proximity protection for drilling near homes from 200 feet to 1000 feet. TDEC rejected the citizens’ proposal, and passed the new rules at the Oil and Gas Board meeting on Sept. 28. For more information, visit:”

ETC presents Martin McDonagh’s play, “The Pillowman”


Photo for ETC's "The Pillowman"
Production Photo – ETC’s “The Pillowman”

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga will open with the dark comedy, “The Pillowman” on 8 February, 2013.  Here’s more from the press release:

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga (ETC) will present Martin McDonagh’s black comedy The Pillowman as the second production in their 2013 season. The production runs February 8-24, 2013. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM. All performances will be held at the theatre’s space inside Eastgate Town Center at 5600 Brainerd Road. 

The Pillowman focuses on the story of Katurian Katurian, a writer living in an unnamed totalitarian state. In an interrogation room, the audience learns of a series of child murders that bear a striking resemblance to some of Katurian’s stories. The scenes that follow form a bold piece of theatre that highlights the power of the mind and calls into question the nature and purpose of art. 

“It’s a fascinating theoretical approach to what I think is one of the basic facets of human existence: imagination,” says director Garry Lee Posey. “An apparent theme is the subjugation of the imagination and what it means to live in a world void of it or to be governed in a world afraid of it.” 

Tickets are $15 for General Admission and $10 for students with a valid student ID. They can be purchased online at, by phone at (423) 987-5141, or at the door beginning one hour before each performance. Doors open 30 minutes before show time. Free parking is available at Eastgate Town Center. 

ETC’s production of The Pillowman is directed by Garry Lee Posey. Cast members include Joseph Tipton, Eric “Red” Wyatt, Jordan Guess, Cody Keown, Davricia Hughes, and Chelsea Christian. Marcia Parks is the stage manager. 

About Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga (ETC)

ETC is a non-profit theatre company housed at the Eastgate Town Center at 5600 Brainerd Road. This is ETC’s fourth season.  For more information about the season, programming and opportunities, visit or call (423) 987-5141.

“Le Chatt Noir” ETC Fundraiser Event

Le Chatt NoirFrom the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga‘s announcement:

Le Chatt Noir Fundraiser for ETC

Join us for ETC’s second annual Le Chatt Noir fundraiser!

This year the cabaret will be held in our brand new theatre space at Eastgate Town Center 5600 Brainerd Road Chattanooga, TN 37411. 

Mixer starts at 7:30 (If you plan to drink, there will be a cash bar so don’t forget your ID!) and the show begins at 8. Jeff Parker will be our Emcee for the event.

Le Chatt Noir happens on Saturday, 2 February 2013 from 7:30 to 10:00 PM.

“What Darwin Didn’t Know” [BBC HD]

This BBC documentary is hosted by developmental biologist Armand Leroi.  It takes a look at research by botanists, geneticists and evolutionary biologists to figure out how to predict future trends of nature.

“Giant magnetized outflow from our galactic center” report

"A false-color image of our Milky Way as seen in a projection that shows the galactic center at the center of the image, the plane of the galaxy stretching across the central band, and the two arc-shaped radio lobes of emission seen extending north and south of the plane. Several of the newly discovered magnetic structures are labeled." Credit: Carretti et al., and Nature
“A false-color image of our Milky Way as seen in a projection that shows the galactic center at the center of the image, the plane of the galaxy stretching across the central band, and the two arc-shaped radio lobes of emission seen extending north and south of the plane. Several of the newly discovered magnetic structures are labeled.” Credit: Carretti et al., and Nature published this about the recent findings by astronomers that our galactic center is ejecting, “Twin lobes of gamma-ray emission,” that, “Protrudes about 50,000 light years above and below the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy.”

Maybe, this gamma ray burst from galactic center has something to do with our own sun’s recent, pitiful solar maximum display.   The report from Phys. org continues with reported GC radio-wave emissions:

“It now appears that these giant bubbles of hot gas can be seen at radio wavelengths as well. Writing in the new issue of the journal Nature, CfA astronomer Gianni Bernardi and eight of his colleagues describe finding humongous lobes of radio emission emanating from the Galactic Center. Moreover, the emission is polarized, a general property that electromagnetic radiation can have; some sunglasses take advantage of the fact that reflected sunlight becomes polarized. In the case of radio wavelengths, the explanation for polarization is the presence of strong magnetic fields.”

Massive Native American mounds at Poverty Point, Louisiana built quickly

Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons

The Columbus Dispatch publishes the latest findings from excavations of the “ancient earthworks” at Poverty Point, Louisiana that these massive earthen mounds were built quickly.

Excavations of Poverty Points “Mound A” have detected no erosion in the stacked mud buildings remaining from pre-history Americas.  The Dispatch article by Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archeology at the Ohio Historical Society continues:

"Kidder analyzes the varied colors and layers of the soils of Mound A, which are a result of the building process. Indians carried basket-loads of dirt weighing roughly 55 pounds and piled them up carefully to form the mound. " Souce:
“Kidder analyzes the varied colors and layers of the soils of Mound A, which are a result of the building process. Indians carried basket-loads of dirt weighing roughly 55 pounds and piled them up carefully to form the mound. “

“Mound A is a massive conical mound about 72 feet tall with a broad, roughly rectangular platform extending off its eastern side. Anthony Ortmann of Murray State University in Kentucky and Tristram Kidder of Washington University in St. Louis excavated a 32-foot-deep trench into Mound A. They reported their results this month in the journal Geoarchaeology.”

Ortmann and Kidder estimate Mound A to have been built in about 90 days.  But, how could this be so?

This, of course, implies that a large number of hunter-gatherers were somehow mobilized to undertake this massive public works project. Ortmann and Kidder conclude that “whatever the structure of Poverty Point society, it is unlike anything documented in the historic or contemporary hunter-gatherer ethnographic record.”

The article author notes that the Poverty Point mounds are 1,000 years older than Ohio’s Hopewell mounds.  Lepper concludes with this:

“Poverty Point was unprecedented for its time. The Hopewellian achievement was equally unprecedented for its time.” has a report published here about the Poverty Point excavations.

“The Peoples’ Kitchen at UTC” launched by Progressive Student Alliance

Peoples’ Kitchen at UTC

Announcement from the Progressive Student Alliance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga:

“Free Food for the People! Tuesdays, 12pm-1pm in Christ Episcopal Church parking lot at the corner of Douglas and Oak Street.

The Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) believes in affordable, healthy, fair and sustainable food. Yet our food system, primarily controlled by corporations, consistently falls short of these expectations. The production and distribution of food for profit has led to the widespread use of inhumane and unsustainable factory farms. Laborers at both ends work for low wages in often unsafe environments in order to maximize profits for the executives and shareholders who own the company.

Because of this, we believe it is important for people to reclaim food sovereignty and security at the grassroots level, and produce food for the good of people and the community. The PSA seeks to meet the immediate needs of students and workers in our campus community, while joining the conversation on food sustainability and economic justice by offering a free lunch at least once a week using organic, locally produced ingredients. (And we make some pretty mean soup!) The food is free, and we will be collecting donations to keep the program running and expand if possible!

If you want to learn more about the Progressive Students Alliance, what we do, and how to get involved, just give us a shout or meet us at one of our meetings!”

Meetings every Monday, 8:00 pm in the UC Fortwood Room!


Twitter: @PSAChattanooga

Department of Energy proposes recycling radioactive scrap metal for consumer products*Source:*

An article entitle, “Government to dispose of radioactive waste by putting it in our silverware,” is published by Washingtonsblog.

The author reports on the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent proposal to allow, “14,000 of it’s metric tons of radioactive scrap metal to be recycled into consumer products.”   Congressman Ed Markey has expressed “grave concern” about DOE’s radioactive proposal, according to the article.   An article from 1998 Progressive report on the DOE’s nuclear waste dilemma is included to say:

“The Department of Energy has a problem: what to do with millions of tons of radioactive material. So the DOE has come up with an ingenious plan to dispose of its troublesome tons of nickel, copper, steel and aluminum. It wants to let scrap companies collect the metal, try to take the radioactivity out, and sell the metal to foundries, which would in turn sell it to manufacturers who could use it for everyday household products: pots, pans, forks, spoons, even your eyeglasses.”

A Bloomberg report from last year is also quoted:

“The major risk we face in our industry is radiation,” said Paul de Bruin, radiation-safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing, one of the world’s biggest stainless-steel scrap yards. “You can talk about security all you want, but I’ve found weapons-grade uranium in scrap. Where was the security?

Einstein once said, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”  Storage of the radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is an issue that has not yet been resolved.  Counterpunch wrote this about the new radioactive recycling proposal, according to Washington Blogs:

Having failed in the ‘80s and ‘90s to free the nuclear bomb factories and national laboratories of millions of tons of their radioactively contaminated scrap and nickel, the DOE is trying again. Its latest proposal is moving ahead without even an Environmental Impact Statement. Those messy EISs involve public hearings, so you can imagine the DOE’s reluctance to face the public over adding yet more radiation to the doses we’re already accumulating.”

Interview with science reporter J. Madeleine Nash, “Storm Warnings” author

Science reporter J. Madeleine NashSource: Smithsonian
Science reporter J. Madeleine Nash
Source: Smithsonian

Smithsonian Magazine published an interview with science reporter J. Madeleine Nash about her book, “Storm Warnings”.

The subtitle of this article written by Amy Crawford is, “Nash, a science reporter, discusses her most thrilling weather experience, and her fascination with the scariest forces of nature.”

Nash is asked to describe her most “thrilling weather experience”, and she replies:

“Two come to mind. One was stepping off the C-130 plane at the South Pole and walking into the tunnel that led to the old South Pole station. The air inside the tunnel was around minus 50 degrees, and it was like breathing in icicles. The other was flying through the eye of Hurricane Ivan as it headed across the Gulf towards Mobile, Alabama. I had been hoping to experience what’s known as the coliseum effect, with the clouds of the eye wall slanting back like the walls of an open-air stadium to reveal a bright blue sky. Instead, I entered an eerie fairyland filled with gray clouds that looked like turreted castles. Like many big hurricanes, Ivan was going through multiple cycles of building and rebuilding its eye wall, a process that caused its strength to wax, then wane. I’d expected to feel scared but, to my surprise, found that I wasn’t as the pilot expertly threaded the plane in and out. The pitch and yaw did make me feel a little woozy, and for that reason, I came to relish the moments of calm as we glided through the eye. We also had some moments of calm when we flew out ahead of Ivan, but down below us was a big ship dwarfed by gigantic waves. The pilot exclaimed, “Get out of there!” That was when I realized that flying through a hurricane was far preferable to experiencing one while out at sea or on land.”

Nash describes the history of her family’s run ins with powerful tornados and lightening strikes.  Clarkson asks the “Storm Warnings” author and science reporter if she believes that global warming is influenced by humankind.  Nash replies that the earth’s population does add up to a “geophysical force”, but she adds:

“When I look at the fierce debate now taking place over hurricanes and global warming, I am inclined to look at each side as a piece of a much larger puzzle. I don’t see the debate as framing an either-or choice; I see it as a rather different and much more important question. And that is, given that we’re now players in the climate system, how important are we? That’s the question that’s now been raised in relation to hurricanes, and it’s a question that I, for one, find extremely disturbing. We may luck out and change things only a little bit, or we may have extremely profound effects. I compare it to the sorcerer’s apprentice; that is, we’re tinkering with major forces that we haven’t a clue about how to control, and in our case there’s no big wizard coming home who’s going to bail us out.” [Emphasis mine]

"J. Madeleine Nash '65"Source: Bryn Mawr
“J. Madeleine Nash ’65”
Source: Bryn Mawr

Click here for more information about the author and Bryn Mawr alumnae J. Madeleine Nash.