God and Einstein at Columbia

Apparently, Dr. E. Ciaccio ("Secular Perspective Skewered," letter, Spring 1999 issue) considers that his beliefs obtain support from the fact that, as he wrote, "Even Einstein realized that God exists." While it is true that Einstein on occasion used the expression "God," it is doubtful that he was alluding to the same God in whom Dr. Ciaccio has faith.

Einstein wrote: "The scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to and conditioned by each other." It is highly unlikely that he would arrogate to himself any expertise on matters of faith. But if Einstein is to be accorded authority on this subject, he ought to be quoted accurately. He wrote in 1941: "Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just and omnibeneficient personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance... But on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself." Also, he wrote: "In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself."

Seymour Lieberman, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry
Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons

Alternative medicine: is it hip, or just a blip?

Lauren Walker's article ("Can Science and Alternative Medicine Shake Hands?" Winter 1999) outlined fairly well some of the controversies and gave reasonable space to Drs. [Arnold] Relman's and [Stephen] Barrett's activities.... [but] did not indicate either the large groundswell of negative response from the scientific and biomedicine communities -- numerous Nobelists and other prominent science leaders -- to the difficulties presented by the "alternative medicine" movement. The movement, as stated by Dr. Barrett, tries to insinuate ineffective and fictional methods into health and medical science. It is probably a temporary retrogressive blip on the curve of medical history, but has potential for havoc in the current biomedical research and clinical theaters.

Wallace Sampson, M.D.
The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine
Clinical Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

Of Jefferson and Hemings, facts and stats

I appreciated your article [David Marc Fischer, "Jefferson and Hemings: History hangs on haplotype hype," Metanews, Spring 1999] in 21stC. However, I think that you may not have given proper emphasis to the flaws in the scientific "evidence."

STATS addressed the flaws in media coverage of this issue last year, in our newsletter as well as the Washington Post.

Howard Fienberg
Research Analyst
The Statistical Assessment Service
Washington, D.C.

The Statistical Assessment Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving public understanding of scientific and statistical information.

I wish to congratulate Mr. David Marc Fischer for his excellent article. Mr. Fischer has given his readers a good grasp on this very complicated and twisted study. The reason I can state this is because I was there.

As a Jefferson family historian I assisted Dr. Eugene Foster with the study. My name and my study information did not show up in Nature until I complained to them that their headline was false and they forwarded my complaint and those of other very observant people to Dr. Foster for reply. Nature never retracted the false headline or made an apology, which I had requested; in fact, they didn't reply at all until some time later when I complained about the lack of a reply.

The results of this study are expanded on in the January 7, 1999, issue of Nature. My name, my information, and two excellent references -- History of Todd Co., Ky. by J. H. Battle (Louisville, Ky.: F. A. Battey, 1884) (the story of Isham Jefferson being reared by Mr. Jefferson) and an excellent book, Thomas Jefferson and his Unknown Brother (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981; the unknown brother [was] Randolph, 12 years junior to Mr. Jefferson) -- were listed. This book, edited by Bernard Mayo and James Bear, Jr. [Daniel P.] Jordan's predecessor [as president of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc.], does not appear on the Monticello web site, even after my bringing this to Mr. Jordan's attention. The little but revealing book is also not noted in the books of the text of Fawn Brodie, Joseph Ellis, or Annette Gordon-Reed (all Jefferson "historians"). Gordon-Reed knew of it and listed it by title back in her bibliographies, but failed to mention Randolph to her readers or any of the letters between the brothers and their lineage charts that the book contains. Why, we may ask?

The American (no, the entire world) public is being misled by people with agendas, and I invite your readers to go to my web page and links for a true story of the study.

After 18 months I have located the grave of a Madison Hemings male descendant whose DNA could give us some valuable information to either prove Madison's charges true or false. The three "investigators" Dr. Foster, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation and the Monticello Assn. (descendants of Thomas Jefferson) have all been notified of this find and show little interest in gaining further valuable scientific information and "toss it back into my lap" to notify Madison descendants. They are the official study groups... why this attitude? I have the oral permission of seven Madison descendants to proceed; however, they have not returned the permission papers as yet. I must arrange for everything without their support.

Dan Jordan has announced in the Washington Times on November 5th that within two months he will announce his findings, this after I had notified him on October 6th that more DNA is available and he replied, "I would suggest you inform the Madison descendants as you would anyone whose family information you may possess." He made no reference to my suggestion to him to hold his announcement for the Madison DNA. The Monticello Association followed the same pattern of concern and again, they made no reference to my suggestion to delay their planned vote to admit or deny Hemings descendants into their association by next May. Dr. Foster showed no eagerness to proceed as he did with the original study and merely said I should contact the Madison descendants with my information. So who can the public turn to for accurate and full disclosures if these "authorities" seem reluctant to support me? Given permission by the descendants of Madison, I will proceed in securing the DNA, which I consider crucial to this continuing study.

I welcome your support, comments, and suggestions with this study.

Herbert Barger
Jefferson Family Historian
Ft. Washington, Md.

Memories of 1968

Re Joseph Karaganis's "Radicalism and research at Columbia: the legacy of '68" (Spring 1999): It was not the gym that polarized the Columbia campus in `68. It was the arrogance of the Columbia community.

The gym was a great idea: the community needed recreational facilities in Morningside Park and a friendly link to the University (which was, ironically, after one checked through all the corporate links, the primary community slumlord).

The architecture of the gym, however, was a monument to racism: for the Ivy Leaguers at the top of the hill, a magnificent white marble entrance, for the minorities at the bottom, a little brown door leading to a caged security box. The Spectator published an article that said as much about a week before the day the riots started.

As Mark began his harangue as he had so many times before, a groan went through the crowd. This meeting was supposed to be about the gym, not the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). Mark Rudd had one of his stock anti-IDA speeches on the sundial. Then he led his cadre west towards the IDA. It was rumored that he liked to demonstrate there because it was highly visible from the Barnard dorms.

After they were about 20 yards west of the sundial, the crowd quickly surged east to the gym site. The tall guy in Mark's cadre noticed and turned Mark around so he could run to the head of the crowd he was "leading." His attempts to move the crowd back to the IDA were futile. The fence was torn down and the buildings occupied.

The faculty seemed headed towards arbitrating a solution to the problem, until Zbigniew Brzezinski, later Carter's foreign policy guru, gave a standard anti-communist speech, condemning the entire anti-gym demonstration as a communist plot. The faculty polarized on left versus right and was lost as a rational arbiter.

It took three days of media blitz for Mark to be accepted by the riot as the leader. This was after all a revolution where one could demonstrate all day and then go see the media spin it out on the 7 o'clock news and laugh at the spin, until it became obvious that this was what history would remember.

Mark's decidedly communist views were aired to the exclusion of what really drove the demonstration: a stupidly racist architectural design and, of course, the University administration's failure to listen to their students and faculty.

The media took some of their pet nightmares and tried to overlay them on the demonstration. The ones that stuck drove the City of New York into a police riot and have since been generally accepted as history. The administration, which was not particularly astute at understanding symbols like architecture and racism, bought the media blitz completely.

So did the Cox Commission report, ludicrous, as have been all the accounts I have read in the last three decades.

Wasn't the tall guy in the cadre Army Intelligence and, if so, why did he always suggest the most inanely violent actions?

I wonder how many folks who were there remember the riots a little differently than does history. It would make an interesting study.

It's a shame the gym wasn't built. I suspect that with a little luck and good management, Columbia might have had a basketball team that could run circles around some pro teams and maybe, just maybe, some of those neighborhood kids down the hill could have walked uphill to school.

Thomas C. Adams
San Diego, Calif.

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