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Spring 2004

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The Cosby Principle

The Wildest Place in Boston

Manhattan's Hottest Property

Setting the Record Straight

Exchange: To and from the editors

All the letters all the time
From our readers, most recently:

Deerfield Descendant Writes
I enjoyed the article "Setting the Record Straight The truth about the 1704 raid on Deerfield" because I am a descendant of Godfrey Nims through his daughter Thankful. At the time of the raid she was living in a home that was built into the side of a hill. The snowstorm completely covered the house and it was not seen by the raiding party. She along with her infant daughter and husband apparently awoke the following morning not aware of what had happened. Also a descendant of John Sheldon whose wife was fatally shot though the front door of the Indian House.

Donald Robinson ’66, ’84G
Leverett


Deerfield Omission
I liked your online article on recent work on the Deerfield Incident of 1704. I was surprised, however, that author Faye Wolfe neglected to mention UMass History Professor Alice Nash in her discussion of UMass affiliates reconsidering the event.
Not only did Professor Nash teach a course based on the Raid, in which UMass student participants retraced the journey to Montreal of the original captives as part of the class but she has just returned from spending the year teaching on a Fulbright Scholarship in Montreal where she retraced the journey from North to South, including bringing the French Canadian students to the early presentation of Harley Erdman's opera production. In fact, it was the French Canadian students' comments on the stereotyped presentation of a French Fur Trapper in the opera that encouraged Erdman to revise the character.
I just thought you might want to include all the work being done on the Event at UMass in your article.

Laura L. Lovett
Assistant Professor
Department of History


WOW!
I just finished reading the latest UMass Alumni magazine and said WOW! It was by far the best UMass Alumni magainze that I have read since I graduated in 1986. The articles were articulate, interesting and in depth. It was great to see articles about successful UMass graduates such as Pam Liebman. The article on Bill Cosby was fabulous. I was especially impressed with such well written stories regarding alumni outside of the Pioneer Valley. Past magazines seemed to contain many local alumni, I found it very interesting to hear about the successful alumni who have left the area. Thank you and keep up the great work!

Katherine (Kane) Farrington '86
Overland Park, Kansas


HOMEOPATHY - MUMBO JUMBO?
I have just read Martha Trudeau's letter. To say that I am horrified is far too mild. Is it some sort of joke I'm not getting?

I direct Martha Trudeau, RN, MPA, to the James Randi Web site www.randi.org). On it, she will find a $1 million paranormal challenge. If she can show "evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event" she will receive $1 million from the James Randi Foundation. I'm pretty sure demonstration of a working system of homeopathy would satisfy those conditions. But best to check with Mr. Randi first.

I also direct Trudeau to the quackwatch.org site http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/homeo.html), which explains how diluted the standard preparations of homeopathic "cures" are:

A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. Imagine placing a drop of red dye into such a container so that it disperses evenly. Homeopathy's "law of infinitesimals" is the equivalent of saying that any drop of water subsequently removed from that container will possess an essence of redness. Robert L. Park, Ph.D., a prominent physicist who is executive director of The American Physical Society, has noted that since the least amount of a substance in a solution is one molecule, a 30C solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth.

As Trudeau invokes the mumbo-jumbo of the Law of Similars, Law of Potency, and Law of Proving in her letter, I invite her to reply to this forum with a list of peer-reviewed articles concerning double-blind experiments concerning these "laws" showing that they actually exist outside of the minds of those who believe in this fakery. I'm willing to believe that there must be one or two UMass students who could be press-ganged into running a double-blind test to attempt to reproduce the results of whatever reports Trudeau might uncover.

I certainly agree that homeopathy has "waned in popularity due to various reasons, not the least of which was and remains the preference for the quick cure of expensive drugs." More people prefer to pay for a cure than prefer to pay for not being cured. And although I'm sure that homeopathy can cure bloated wallet syndrome, I, personally, wouldn't mind being burdened with that horrible affliction.

Trudeau's usage of Prince Charles as a supporter of homeopathy is also baffling to me. Exactly what are the Prince's medical credentials? Is it Dr. Prince Charles, or Prince Charles, M.D.? Does he operate on the commoners? Does Prince Charles have any medical or scientific training of any kind? Is he trained in homeopathy? Has he performed any tests on it? Does he have any business being brought into this discussion other than for making the feeble-minded think that, golly-gee, there must be something to this homeopathy stuff after all.

I sincerely hope that I do not require medical attention anytime in the foreseeable future if Martha Trudeau is an example of the sort of nurse I'd be getting. And I'd love to know what school gave her an RN. I must avoid that place - and its graduates - like The Plague.

And speaking of plagues, here's a simple test. Martha and I can sit down and both be injected with a couple of dread diseases: polio, smallpox, plague, etc. Martha can whip out her dilutions and guzzle away. I'll take the standard treatments according to rigid, cruel Western Medicine. I'll even let her pick the diseases, so that she can't argue that homeopathy lacks a treatment for condition X, Y or Z (It certainly lacks a treatment for the horrible affliction of stupidity). Whoever's still standing at the end of the month wins the argument.

And Martha can go first. In fact, if she survives, using only her bottles of expensive placebo, I'll accept the rightness of her arguments then and there.

I hope that this magazine will actually take a few minutes next time to consider what sort of image it's trying to put forth to the alumni before running screeds from the superstitious and gullible. My degree from UMass means a lot to me. It will cease to have meaning when my school becomes something one step removed from a phrenology clinic.

Alex Dering '91
Washington, DC

LIFE WOULD BE EASIER WITH A PHD
I read with interest the article about Bill Cosby and the article that Janine Roberts wrote. Both their doctorates were listed as Ph.D’s yet both came through the School of Education. I was in the master’s degree program in Psychological Education with a concentration in Family Therapy and Group Work when Janine was in the doctoral program and I then continued on in the doctoral program. I always thought my degree was an Ed.D. It seems ironic that the UMass alumni magazine would make such an error or do I really have a Ph.D.? It would make life easier for me because there are people who don’t understand the Ed.D. degree. However, in the interests of accuracy, I shall sign my name with the degrees I think I have.

Carol L. Sachs ’80G, ’90G
Longmeadow


HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE AND POISON
The Spring 2004 article, "The Power of Poison" describes Dr. Edward Calabrese's "maligned and kicked around" hormesis theory. I understand why his theory has been "marginalized" because, from what I read in the brief description, it is exactly the same as the marginalized form of medicine, homeopathy. Although Dr. Calabrese's interest was piqued in 1966, the practice he describes has been around for hundreds of years.
Samuel Hahneman, a German physician, rediscovered homeopathy in the early 1800s. Hippocrates had practiced homeopathy, as had other ancient physicians, but it had dropped from use for many centuries. It was fairly popular in the U.S. during the early part of the 20th century. This form of medicine waned in popularity due to various reasons, not the least of which was and remains the preference for the quick cure of expensive drugs. In South America and Europe, homeopathy is commonly practiced, and it was dubbed by Prince Charles "complementary medicine" because of its use as an adjunct to contemporary medical practice.

Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars, meaning that a substance that in large doses causes the symptoms of an illness in a healthy person, will, in tiny doses relieve the same symptoms in an ill person. Creating the symptoms in a healthy person is called a Proving. Homeopathic remedies have few side effects because of the Law of Potency; substances are diluted and vigorously shaken which enhances the healing effects and diminishes the adverse effects. Although there are few adverse effects to the remedies, there may be a short term worsening of symptoms. This is called an Aggrevation and is part of the process of the body healing itself. In brief, two basic principles are "Like heals like" and "The more dilute, the higher the potency."

I support Dr. Calabrese's work, particulary if he is advancing the research in this area, but to prevent him from re-inventing the wheel I would suggest that he become versed in homeopathy.

Martha Trudeau, RN, MPA
Philadelphia, PA


OLMSTEAD'S INFLUENCE SEEN IN AMHERST
In response to the review of Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England, I need to point out that not only is Olmstead famous for his work in New York City, he's also important to the town of Amherst. Austin Dickinson, who was instrumental in the landscaping of the town common and Wildwood Cemetary, consulted Olmstead about the Amherst College campus and was influenced by Olmstead's work when landscaping other areas such as the Evergreens.

Marcy Tanter ’86 ’96G
Stephenville, TX


WHAT'S OBVIOUS TO SOME...
Betty Shamieh's "evidence" that her rights were trampled when theater festival funding for her play was withdrawn is without merit. Writers get the rug pulled out from under them all the time, no matter what their ancestry. The truth is everyone in America experiences setbacks, disappointments, and difficulties. That's life.

I must say that if I'd just lost a loved one in either of the World Trade Center attacks, in a Pennsylvania field, in Mogadishu, on the US Cole, in any of the numerous attacks against the United States, I couldn't wait to see a play about the sister of a murderous thug. How does Ms. Shamieh spell sensitivity? Doesn't she know that the ultimate discrimination is taking an innocent life?

The obvious has eluded Ms. Shamieh, Christopher O'Carroll, the article's author, and the staff of UMass Amherst. Ms. Shamieh has a platform. No, she has a a stage and a paying audience. That's called success. She bewailed her downtrodden state on campus and in the pages of this magazine. That's called free speech. And a pity party.

Finally, Mr. O'Carroll, in describing Ms. Shamieh as "an Arab in America," errs by elevating ancestry over citizenship. Ours is a nation of citizens, not tribes. If Ms. Shamieh traveled to the Middle Eastern country of her parents' birth, she'd realize she is no more an Arab than Mr. O'Carroll or I. Nor would Ms. Shamieh enjoy the free speech she now takes for granted.

Paula L. Messina '73
Revere


WHO WAS THAT BAKER?
Re: Brendan Whittaker’s letter in the Fall ’03 magazine – He has the story backwards as to which Baker recommended the other to the Amherst scene. As Professor Rand clearly relates in his book Yesterdays at Massachusetts State College, it was Ray Stannard Baker (who came to Amherst in 1910) who suggested to the trustees that he had a brother Hugh P. “who would make a good college president.” Hugh took over as president of M.S.C. in February 1933.

Myron Hager ’40
Falmouth, ME


KUDOS TO ANIMAL ISSUE
I have hosted and produced a public access show for over 10 years dealing with children, animal and environmental welfare issues. The Fall '03 issue included many interesting articles regarding grads and their work with animals. We just returned from Cozumel, Mexico, an island where the locals are doing their best to protect species of turtles that inhabit the surrounding waters and lay their eggs on the beaches. The article (Fall '03) by Charles Creekmore ('95) describing Robert Prescott's ('73) efforts to help struggling sea turtles was most heartening. Prescott's role as director of the Mass. Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary gives him this unique opportunity to work with his volunteers in a humane effort. It was interested to note Cape Cod bay's geological role in creating a natural hazard for the turtle's migration south. I am a true believer that, since man has interfered so negatively in ill-advised and ill-fated wildlife management activities, we can contribute to balancing that score. Kudos to the Cape Codders (my Mom and brothers live in Hysannis).

C. Veronica Guerra-Varno '80
"All God's Creatures," Comcast Cable Ch. 12, Groton, CT.



EMILY - COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA
Historian Ruth Owen Jones believes that the first president of Massachusetts Agricultural College may be the mystery man in Emily Dickinson’s Master letters. Based on the flimsiest of evidence she’s willing to argue that she’s right. She asks “That’s what scholarship is all about isn’t it?” Well, at many universities, scholarship is not taking a wild ass guess about something, presenting scant evidence that it’s true, and posing as an authority on it!

A case could be made that the mystery man was a master herdsman from the farm up the road who did Emily a kindness one day when he delivered a container of milk, extra rich in butterfat, with a nosegay attached to it. It makes as much sense as her theory!

Jones is probably better suited to writing for a sitcom like Seinfeld “The show about nothing.” She could call it “Emily, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”.

Arthur J. Stevens Sr. ’62
Stratham, NH


LOST IN SPACE
Josh Simpson's "Inhabited Planet" is mesmerizing. I have not yet finished reading the magazine (summer 2003), but I had to write. It is something in which I could lose myself. Also loved Scott Prior's "Blimp, Buildings and Bovines," so utterly (no pun intended) different, yet so UMass.

Barbara Peirce '72
San Pedro, CA


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Exchange: To and from the editor

Letters in Print, Spring 2004

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