What Davidson didn't say
While professor Richard Davidson's work certainly is fascinating ("Building a Better Brain," 3/20/09), I was concerned by his characterization of meditation as having "very few, if any, side effects."
In fact, reports in psychiatric literature indicate that some people encounter difficulties stemming from their meditation practice. These include anxiety, dissociation, altered perceptions, agitation and, in a few cases, psychotic episodes. A relatively new specialty, transpersonal psychology, has been developed to address problems related to Eastern spiritual practices.
Generally speaking, I would not dissuade someone from a chosen spiritual path. But people should know of potential risks so that they can make an informed decision.
Those who promote meditation should allow for the possibility that the technique will not help everyone.
Nancy Zjaba, Middleton
Richie Davidson is full of contradictions. He preaches compassion, but participates in cruel and fatal experiments involving primates. He claims these experiments are ethical, but has declined my invitation to discuss them in public. He says he must focus on his research, but seems to make time for frequent public talks and interviews.
Davidson has told Isthmus and me that he wants to reduce the suffering of animals, and sees opportunities for researchers and research opponents to work together. But he has ignored my offer to share ideas.
If Davidson really wanted to reduce the suffering of animals, he could use his considerable influence to raise the issue with the chancellor, provost and faculty senate; talking to Congress about improving the Animal Welfare Act; and focusing on the issue more in his public talks and interviews.
But to do any of those things, Davidson would have to argue against the very experiments that he participates in, such as one in which the emotional centers of monkeys' brains were destroyed simply so researchers could confirm that those organs process fear.
Thank you for your recent coverage of the fluoridation issue ("Poison in the Water? Let's Talk," 3/20/09). This is yet another example of how health care in the United States is years behind other nations. (Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland stopped fluoridating their water years ago.)
The fluoride being put into the water supply is the byproduct of the production of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides for industrial-scale agriculture. The city water utility has freely admitted this. Fluoridation of water amounts to a public subsidy for these companies.
Many of those working in favor of fluoridation have financial and political investments in the process, so your average doctor or dentist has probably heard only one side of the story. But a growing body of scientific evidence shows that ingestion of fluoride is dangerous, particularly to babies and youth.
If people want unnatural levels of fluoride in their drinking water, there are ways to introduce it in measured amounts at the tap, or they can purchase pills or other supplements that contain fluoride. But once fluoride has been introduced into the water, it is difficult for the average person to get rid of it.
Thanks for your article on that great old game of pinball ("The Madison Pinball Crawl," 3/13/09). No it's not dead, just laid back a bit.
Stern Pinball of Chicago continues to roll out new games based on modern movies and shows. And you can still find pinball games in over 30 places around the Madison area. Besides those mentioned in the article, try High Noon Saloon, Quaker Steak & Lube, Silver Eagle, Mr. Roberts, Alt-n-Bachs, Blarney Stone, Pitcher's Pub and the Fifth Quarter in Verona.
So just get out there and keep flippin' and bumpin' those balls. Where else can you spend a few quarters racking up extra balls, multi-balls and free games as you sharpen your vision, hone your reflexes and hear the happy bangs and gongs of real live action?