Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Doctors continue to practice after sexually abusing patients - because they are too important and needed

Atlanta Journal Constitution

A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds

In each of these cases, described in public records, the doctors either acknowledged what they’d done or authorities, after investigating, believed the accusations. While the scale and scope of the physicians’ misdeeds varied tremendously, all were allowed to keep their white coats and continue seeing patients, as were hundreds of others like them across the nation.

In a national investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined documents that described disturbing acts of physician sexual abuse in every state. Rapes by OB/GYNs, seductions by psychiatrists, fondling by anesthesiologists and ophthalmologists, and molestations by pediatricians and radiologists.

Victims were babies. Adolescents. Women in their 80s. Drug addicts and jail inmates. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

But it could be anyone. Some patients were sedated when they were sexually assaulted. Others didn’t realize at first what had happened because the doctor improperly touched them or photographed them while pretending to do a legitimate medical exam.

Some doctors were disciplined over a single episode of sexual misconduct. A few physicians — with hundreds of victims — are among the nation’s worst sex offenders. But the toll can’t be measured by numbers alone. For patients, the violations can be life-altering. The betrayal even pushed some to suicide.

How do doctors get away with exploiting patients for years? [...]

Some victims say nothing. Intimidated, confused or embarrassed, they fear that no one will take their word over a doctor’s. Colleagues and nurses stay silent.

Hospitals and health care organizations brush off accusations or quietly push doctors out, the investigation found, without reporting them to police or licensing agencies.[...]

But when a physician is the perpetrator, the AJC found, the nation often looks the other way.

Physician-dominated medical boards gave offenders second chances. Prosecutors dismissed or reduced charges, so doctors could keep practicing and stay off sex offender registries. Communities rallied around them.[...]

The Roman Catholic Church, the military, the Boy Scouts, colleges and universities. They have all withered under the spotlight of sexual misconduct scandals and promised that abuse will no longer be swept under the rug.

The medical profession, however, has never taken on sexual misconduct as a significant priority. And layer upon layer of secrecy makes it nearly impossible for the public, or even the medical community itself, to know the extent of physician sexual abuse.[...]

Today, after months of unearthing rarely viewed documents and tracking some cases from beginning to end, the AJC is exposing a phenomenon of physician sexual misconduct that is tolerated — to one degree or another — in every state in the nation.[...]

Yet many, if not most, cases of physician sexual misconduct remain hidden. The AJC investigation discovered that state boards and hospitals handle some cases secretly. In other cases, medical boards remove once-public orders from their websites or issue documents that cloak sexual misconduct in vague language.

When cases do come to the public’s attention, they are often brushed off by the medical establishment as freakishly rare. While the vast majority of the nation’s 900,000 doctors do not sexually abuse patients, the AJC found the phenomenon is akin to the priest scandal: It doesn’t necessarily happen every day, but it happens far more often than anyone has acknowledged.[...]

Over and over again, records show, predatory physicians took advantage of a doctor’s special privilege — the daily practice of asking trusting people to disrobe in a private room and permit themselves to be touched.

Offenses ranged from lewd comments during intimate exams to molestation, masturbation by the doctor in front of the patient, swapping drugs for sex and even rape. Because many orders are vague or undetailed, it isn’t always clear if a doctor claimed the patient consented. However, the profession says consent is never a defense because of the power imbalance between doctors and patients.

David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, a support and advocacy organization for people sexually abused by priests, doctors and others, said many Americans view physicians with too much deference and automatic respect.

“We are so reliant on them, we are so helpless and vulnerable and literally in pain often times when we go in there. We just have to trust them,” Clohessy said.

“So when they cross the boundary and their hands go into the wrong places, we are in shock, we are paralyzed, we’re confused, we’re scared. We just do not want to believe, first of all, that a doctor is capable of this , and secondly that their colleagues and supervisors will not address this immediately and effectively when we report it.”[...]

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Legislature passes law mandating jail time for sexual assault of a person who is unconscious or too intoxicated to consent

California is one step closer to making prison time mandatory for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a person who is unconscious or too intoxicated to consent -- a measure inspired by former Stanford University student Brock Turner's sentence.

AB 2888 passed the state Assembly Monday by a unanimous 66-0 vote. It is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

Lawmakers proposed the measure in June in response to the outcome in the former Stanford swimmer's trial.

Turner was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old unconscious woman in 2015 behind a trash bin on the university's campus. Critics condemned the sentence from Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky as too lenient, leading to efforts to recall Persky and change sentencing laws for sexual assault.

The Santa Clara County district attorney's office had requested the maximum sentence of six years, based largely on the woman's condition.

Turner would have served the sentence in a state prison, as opposed to the sentence he is currently serving in the Santa Clara County jail. He is scheduled to be released Friday.

Under current state law, those convicted of certain sex crimes such as rape by force and aggravated sexual assault of a child are ineligible for probation or a suspended sentence and must serve prison time.

AB 2888 would amend the law to create the same punishment for those convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object and oral sex if the victim was unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication. [...]

Monday, August 29, 2016

Court voids state sex offender registry for imposing unconstitutionally retroactive punishment

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held that recent amendments to Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) are unconstitutional because they impose retroactive punishment on sex offenders in violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws. Among other things, the plaintiffs argued that amendments to Michigan’s SORA increased the severity of its requirements after their convictions imposed retroactive punishment. In John Does #1-5 v. Snyder, the Sixth Circuit agreed.

Judge Alice M. Batchelder wrote for the court, joined by Judges Gilbert S. Merritt and Bernice B. Donald. Her opinion for the court begins.
Like many states, Michigan has amended its Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) on a number of occasions in recent years for the professed purpose of making Michigan communities safer and aiding law enforcement in the task of bringing recidivists to justice. Thus, what began in 1994 as a non-public registry maintained solely for law enforcement use . . . has grown into a byzantine code governing in minute detail the lives of the state’s sex offenders . . . Over the first decade or so of SORA’s existence, most of the changes centered on the role played by the registry itself. In 1999, for example, the legislature added the requirement that sex offenders register in person (either quarterly or annually, depending on the offense) and made the registry available online, providing the public with a list of all registered sex offenders’ names, addresses, biometric data, and, since 2004, photographs. . . . Michigan began taking a more aggressive tack in 2006, however, when it amended SORA to prohibit registrants (with a few exceptions . . .) from living, working, or “loitering”1 within 1,000 feet of a school. . . . In 2011, the legislature added the requirement that registrants be divided into three tiers, which ostensibly correlate to current dangerousness, but which are based, not on individual assessments, but solely on the crime of conviction. . . . The 2011 amendments also require all registrants to appear in person “immediately” to update information such as new vehicles or “internet identifiers” (e.g., a new email account). . . . Violations carry heavy criminal penalties.
The Plaintiffs in this case—identified here only as five “John Does” and one “Mary Doe”—are registered “Tier III” sex offenders currently residing in Michigan. It is undisputed on appeal that SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments apply to them retroactively. That law has had a significant impact on each of them that reaches far beyond the stigma of simply being identified as a sex offender on a public registry. As a result of the school zone restrictions, for example, many of the Plaintiffs have had trouble finding a home in which they can legally live or a job where they can legally work. These restrictions have also kept those Plaintiffs who have children (or grandchildren) from watching them participate in school plays or on school sports teams, and they have kept Plaintiffs from visiting public playgrounds with their children for fear of “loitering.” Plaintiffs are also subject to the frequent inconvenience of reporting to law enforcement in person whenever they change residences, change employment, enroll (or unenroll) as a student, change their name, register a new email address or other “internet identifier,” wish to travel for more than seven days, or buy or begin to use a vehicle (or cease to own or use a vehicle).
After an extensive analysis that explains why the SORA amendments are punitive and, therefore, qualify as retroactive punishment, Judge Batchelder concludes:
A regulatory regime that severely restricts where people can live, work, and “loiter,” that categorizes them into tiers ostensibly corresponding to present dangerousness without any individualized assessment thereof, and that requires time-consuming and cumbersome in-person reporting, all supported by—at best—scant evidence that such restrictions serve the professed purpose of keeping Michigan communities safe, is something altogether different from and more troubling than Alaska’s first-generation registry law. SORA brands registrants as moral lepers solely on the basis of a prior conviction. It consigns them to years, if not a lifetime, of existence on the margins, not only of society, but often, as the record in this case makes painfully evident, from their own families, with whom, due to school zone restrictions, they may not even live. It directly regulates where registrants may go in their daily lives and compels them to interrupt those lives with great frequency in order to appear in person before law enforcement to report even minor changes to their information.
We conclude that Michigan’s SORA imposes punishment. And while many (certainly not all) sex offenses involve abominable, almost unspeakable, conduct that deserves severe legal penalties, punishment may never be retroactively imposed or increased. Indeed, the fact that sex offenders are so widely feared and disdained by the general public implicates the core countermajoritarian principle embodied in the Ex Post Facto clause. As the founders rightly perceived, as dangerous as it may be not to punish someone, it is far more dangerous to permit the government under guise of civil regulation to punish people without prior notice. Such lawmaking has “been, in all ages, [a] favorite and most formidable instrument[] of tyranny.” The Federalist No. 84, supra at 444 (Alexander Hamilton). It is, as Justice Chase argued, incompatible with both the words of the Constitution and the underlying first principles of “our free republican governments.” Calder, 3 U.S. at 388–89; accord The Federalist No. 44, supra at 232 (James Madison) (“[E]x post facto laws . . . are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.”). The retroactive application of SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments to Plaintiffs is unconstitutional, and it must therefore cease.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kaminetsky:Greenblatt Heter: The Horse and the Rider - Chazal talk about the fraudulent denial of liability for sins

Guest Post by Joe Orlow

Joe Orlow is to be commended for his devotion to the cause of seeking the truth of the Torah and exposing Lies. Remaining silent "for the kavod of gedolim" - is just causing the internal rot of our souls - because we all know the truth and we are required to protest. Pretending that Tamar and Adam are not committing adultery because the "gedolim" gave a false heter - doesn't change reality.


The crux of the matter is how Halacha is decided. In this case, the Halacha was "Pore'ach Min Ha'Avir", it sprouted out of thin air. We find this decision making process at the crossing of the Red Sea. The horse claimed: "I did nothing wrong. I relied on the driver who gave me directions." The driver claimed: "I did nothing wrong. The horse galloped on its own into battle. I was dragged along into chasing Bnai Yisrael."

What happens, according to the Medrash? The driver is put on the horse and together they are both tossed into the sea.

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky told me that if I want, I can rely on Rabbi Nota Greenblatt in regard to the Heter for Tamar Epstein to marry Adam without a Get from her husband Aharon Friedman. Rabbi Greenblatt says he performed the marriage of Tamar to Adam by relying on the Gadolim, an apparent reference to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky. There you have it: "Sus V'Rachvo".

The effect of all this is to corrode the Kedusha of the Jewish Nation. And it leads to absurdities. Rabbi Hillel David told me that he sat on the Feinstein Bais Din and that the Bais Din ruled that Tamar is married to Aharon. Are Tamar's future progeny to be Mamzer in Manhattan but not in Memphis?

Worse than this is that some young Torah Scholars in America are becoming jaded. They think -- consciously or not -- that the Agudath Israel is a corrupt organization. The Moetzes Gadolai Hatorah is corrupt. Their attitude becomes: "Ah! But what can you do?"

What can you do? You can shriek from the rooftops! The Jewish People may be splitting into two Nations that can't marry into each other. We'll survive. But can we survive with a Rabbinate that is cynical and steeped in hopelessness?

The outrage against the Avlah of the Feinstein Bais Din is pent up, but I'm told from a reliable source that the outrage is there. I say that when outrage is repressed, the capacity to become outraged becomes blunted and stunted.

If we don't stand up and protest now, the situation will only deteriorate until we are left barren without anyone who will even listen to our cries.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ekev 76 - What you resist, persists - the case for positive education

Guest Post by Allan Katz

In our parasha, Moses continues to encourage the nation to trust in God to ensure the successful conquest and settlement of the land. In order to help the nation build trust in God and see God as the source of their success and power, Moses describes God's care and providence. God protected them from the hardships of the desert,' HE fed you the manna, your garment did not wear out upon you and your feet did not swell' – ויאכילך את המן, שמלתך לא בלתה ורגלך לא בצקה . Moses reminds them that the goodness comes with challenges and hardships in order to prepare them for life in the land of Israel. In order to survive in Israel, one needs a high level of faith and trust in God and life in the desert למען ענתך לנסותך, ויענך וירעבך ויאכילך את המן, כאשר ייסר איש את בנו - living a life dependent on miracles, not being able to store food for the next day and or do anything that will give life some certainty and predictability, prepared them for life in Israel. They should know that this path was for their benefit. Moses then warns about the dangers that prosperity brings – arrogance, self- aggrandizement and self- glorification. This leads to forgetting God and saying ' it is my strength and the might of my hand that made me all this wealth'. Ultimately this leads to idolatry, going after the gods of others.
כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי, עָשָׂה לִי אֶת-הַחַיִל הַזֶּה. וְהָיָה, אִם-שָׁכֹחַ תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, וְהָלַכְתָּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים

The first question is that on entry into the land of Israel, the children of Israel are commanded to destroy all manifestations and vestiges of idolatry as it would be unbefitting that idolatry should exist in God's palace, the land of Israel. So why is Moses so concerned about idolatry, if the land has been cleaned out of any temptations and enticement? The 2nd question – prosperity allows people to be independent rather than dependent on God and so people attribute their success to their own efforts and beings, rather than God's support, so why would people then subjugate themselves and submit to idols. ? R' Isaac Sher gives 2 answers. At a time when there existed a passion for idolatry, people had the power to use these negative forces of idolatry to improve their materialistic situations. The second answer - when a man attributes all his success to his own doing, he is denying God's role and he begins to worship himself. A person who is rude and coarse, gets angry – thinks he is a god and people have to listen to him. A person who is arrogant and self-glorifies himself is involved in idolatry = uvoda zara. An atheist or non-believer, even though he does not believe in anything but himself is also an idolater. When one puts his trust in others and flatters people with power - החונף he is considered worse than an idolater. A person who is an idolater's slave is considered as if he serves idolatry. The verse in Judges 10: 6 gives a list of gods of the surrounding nations that the children of Israel worshipped and served. ויעבדו את הבעלים ואת העשתרות ואת אלהי ארם ואת אלהי צידון ואת אלהי מואב ואת אלהי בני עמון ואת אלהי פלשתיםThe Midrash connects this idolatry to the children of Israel's laziness and lack of effort in prayer. R' Isaac Sher explains that when people do not tire from activities that serve their interests but are tired when it comes to prayer, it means that the nation places more value and trust in political agreements and alliances with the surrounding nations than prayer, and that people have more faith in their efforts than in prayer. When this happens – it is as if the nation serves the gods of these nations and people who cheapen prayer do the same.

Although there is a commandment to clear out and destroy idols and manifestations of idolatry, the thrust of Moses' speech is positive, focusing on building trust and relationship with God. If you have a problem with idolatry, the underlying problem is your relationship with God. The problem is mainly within man and not outside of him, so we focus on building personalities rather than engineering the environment so there is not temptation or enticement.

A similar problem - a man is overcome with lustful thoughts when he is certain environments. The Talmid= student of R' Chaim Volozhin, the Keter Rosh wrote down the teachings of his mentor. He writes about a man, (most likely unmarried) who had a problem with impure thoughts when he sees women. In order to deal with his problem and fight his lustful thoughts he decides to make a vow not to look at women. If he breaks his vow and looks at a woman, his desire will burn inside him like a fire. The situation is much worse, since he fought reality and energized the negative action he was fighting. Instead, he should accept the reality and pray for God's assistance and mercy in dealing with the challenges as he ventures into the market place. He is not told to avoid the market place. R' Moshe Feinstein said– if a person is challenged by public transport he should know he has a problem and work on himself.

כתר ראש ארחות חיים קצה ] הסתכלות עריות ושיחתן אמר זה הכלל כל מה שינדור א״ע ויפרוש מראיה אח״כ אם יראה ויביט יבער בו היצר כאש, אלא כשדעתו לילך בשוק יתפלל ויבקש רחמים לבל יכשל ח׳יו בשום נדנוד חטא והרהור עבירה ר׳ל;
כתר ראש - הנהגותיו שנכתבו בידי תלמידו של ר, חיים מולוזהין רבי אשר הכהן משערשוב.

When we are dealing with children we need to give them structure and make the environment safe and protect them from e.g. bad diet – sugar and the media. The solution for adults – engineering the environment beyond the demands of Halacha – Jewish Law so that the environment will be free of any temptation or challenges has many downsides. The focus is no longer on positive education and building righteous people who can overcome challenges, but on creating a sterile environment and fighting the external threats to a person's spirituality. There is another problem – when you fight ' evil', you actually support and strengthen ' evil' as Carl Jung said - 'what you resist persists'. The answer is to accept reality and not to fight reality and then focus on positive steps and education which will help you change reality. ' 'What you resist , persists' - means that if a person has a character flaw – lustful thoughts , or he has an anger problem or he has food or drink problems, the more the person fights the reality, the bigger the problem becomes. He has ' energized the problem and given it center stage in his life. Instead of going away, it fights back and persists. If a man has bad thoughts, he can use the principles of Mindfulness – acknowledge his thoughts, put them aside and then focus on his breathing and then something else. If he tries to resist these thoughts, they fight back and persist. He should be building his personality so his mind is occupied with ideas or being mindful of what he is doing so he is not distracted. He should try to see the image of God – צלם אלוקים in each person and relate to their contribution to society instead of focusing on their gender. If he breaks his diet , resists and fights back by being over-critical of himself, full of shame , he will ultimately give up , and say ' what the hell and then he will go on the binge – eating and drinking without any restraints. So a person with a drink or diet problem , needs a plan that will focus on what he can eat , replacement foods , a new life style instead of focusing of what he should not eat. When he does fail and breaks his diet, he should have some self- compassion instead of being over- critical and giving energy to breaking his diet and focus on getting back on track. Campaigns against 'talking in shul ' will be more successful if they focus on positive education and not ' energizing' talking in shul. Campaigns about the dangers of internet and cell phones tend to cause people to shift blame from people and their relationships or exploring underlying problems and just blame it all on the internet. People forget that the most potent and dangerous communication tool is our tongues and not the cell phone or the internet. Here too, we need to focus on the positive, what we can talk about and connect with people in a positive way. Even if a person makes a conservative and restricted choice concerning the media, he has to remember the downside of resisting and energizing the dangers - the negative side and focus on positive education. In politics, candidates in election who focus on the negative of their opponents rather than saying something positive about themselves, strengthen their opponents. The campaign to remain in the European Community failed because it focused on negative consequences of leaving rather than the positive reasons for staying in the community. Instead of giving a list of what pupils cannot do in the holidays, a teacher should focus on what they could do.

There is tendency in education to try and control the environment and people's choices rather focus on positive education and build people. When the focus is on fighting the negative, we need to understand the downside – 'what we resist persists.'.

The aging paradox: The older we get, the happier we are

Believe it or not, there are upsides to getting older.

Yes, your physical health is likely to decline as you age. And unfortunately, your cognitive abilities like learning new skills and remembering things is likely to suffer too.

But despite such downsides, research suggests that your overall mental health, including your mood, your sense of well-being and your ability to handle stress, just keeps improving right up until the very end of life.

Consider it something to look forward to.

In a recent survey of more than 1,500 San Diego residents aged 21 to 99, researchers report that people in their 20s were the most stressed out and depressed, while those in their 90s were the most content.

There were no dips in well-being in midlife, and no tapering off of well-being at the end of life.

Instead scientists found a clear, linear relationship between age and mental health: The older people were, the happier they felt.

The results were published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Experts on the psychology of aging say the new findings add to a growing body of research that suggests there are emotional benefits to getting older.

“In the literature it’s called the paradox of aging,” said Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, who was not involved in the work. “How can it be that given the many well-documented losses that occur with age, we also see this improvement in emotional well-being?”

As it happens, Carstensen does not think this is a paradox at all.

In her own work, she has found evidence that people’s goals and reasoning change as they come to appreciate their mortality and recognize that their time on Earth is finite.

“When people face endings they tend to shift from goals about exploration and expanding horizons to ones about savoring relationships and focusing on meaningful activities,” she said. “When you focus on emotionally meaningful goals, life gets better, you feel better, and the negative emotions become less frequent and more fleeting when they occur.”

The authors of the new work also suggest that improved mental health in old age could be due to the wisdom people acquire as they grow older. [...]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Water covers the "ervah" of the sea as Torah covers the "ervah" of Israel. What does the word "ervah" mean?

The voice of a woman is ervah.  Uncovering a tefach is called ervah. Ervah can also indicate a prohibited sexual relationship. The commonality is that it is something sexually arousing. 

I am having trouble understanding the use of ervah in this quote from Shir HaShirim Rabbah. Does it simply mean that which is normally covered without any connotation of sexuality? A similar use is found in divorce. A man can divorce his wife if he finds ervas davar? That means he finds something about her which is irritating or problematic. Not necessarily related to sexuality.

What is this medrash saying?
Shir HaShirim  Rabba[1](1:19): Just as water covers the nakedness (ervah) of the sea as it says, As the waters cover the sea (Yeshaya 11:9), so the Torah covers the nakedness (ervah) of Israel, as it says, Love covers all transgressions (Mishlei 10:12).

[1] שיר השירים רבה (א:ג):  ומה מים מכסים ערותו של ים שנא' (ישעיה יא:ט) כמים לים מכסה כך תורה מכסים ערותן של ישראל שנאמר (משלי י:יב) ועל כל פשעים תכסה אהבה,

Mendel Epstein:Jay Goldstein's appeal August 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dr. Joy Silberg (a recognized expert on abuse): Public statement in regards to the issue of child abuse in Jerusalem

I would never condemn people who are trying to protect children.

“Before the truth is known about any unusual phenomenon, there are many theories offered, some closer to the actual truth than others. Denying the existence of the unusual phenomenon is one approach.(Some people argue about the origin of the universe, but no one asserts, therefore there is no universe!) Giving the phenomenon formally discredited names is one approach —often called a “straw man” argument.This is usually not the best approach The best approach is a methodical collection of relevant information, careful attention to detail, weighing the various explanations with an attention to the data and generating the hypothesis that most closely approximates what is being seen. What is being seen is the abuse of children with concerning symptoms. The public should proceed with caution with the awareness that there is more severe abuse in Jerusalem than one would generally expect, listen to the children, get guidance from professionals, trust credentialed authorities, cooperate with professional investigators, listen to the wisdom of Rabbinic leaders that you trust, keep an open mind, while protecting children. I have met no one with bad intentions, but a community problem like this often creates divisiveness. I am against divisiveness in the Jewish community. I believe that Klal Yisrael should work together during crises.” Joyanna Silberg, PH. D.

This is my statement. I don’t intend to answer further questions. I hope the above summarizes my overall view. I wish success to the Israeli public in solving these difficult issues. Please don’t edit it.
“Joyanna Silberg, Ph. D."

Pew Poll: Voters choose candidates out of hatred for the other

A new poll put out by the Pew Research Center this morning shows Trump and Clinton neck and neck in the race to determine the next US president.

According to the poll, Clinton leads among respondents at 41%, with Trump trailing close behind at 37%.

The poll also shows that neither candidate is wildly popular among respondents. According to the poll, 53% of Trump supporters say their vote is more against Clinton than for Trump, while 46% of Clinton supporters say their vote is more against Trump than for Clinton.[...]

No bail for fugitive rabbi Eliezar Berland caught admitting to rape, plotting murder

The Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Thursday ordered that a recently repatriated fugitive rabbi, who was caught on video apparently admitting to raping a woman and plotting murder, will remain in police custody until the legal proceedings against him are over.

After spending three years on the run, Rabbi Eliezer Berland was extradited from South Africa to Israel where he was arrested last month and charged with several counts of sexual assault.

At the Thursday hearing, the court said Berland posed a flight risk, and expressed concern the 79-year-old rabbi might attempt to evade or obstruct justice.[...]

Days after his July 19 return and subsequent arrest in Israel, Channel 2 aired footage of Berland from 2012 in which he admitted to raping one of his female followers.

“She was raped from start to finish,” Berland can be heard saying in the footage. “Afterwards she thought it was permissible… the first time I raped her.”

According to the TV channel, the incriminating recordings were made four years ago by two of Berland’s followers. They were told to burn all the tapes and other potentially incriminating material “in case the police do not cooperate.”

But some of the tapes survived, and were handed over to police last month. In another tape, Berland can be heard instructing one of his followers to place a bomb under the bed of an unnamed person — to send them to heaven.

Earlier this week, Channel 2 aired more incriminating footage of the rabbi, in which he admits to ordering a string of arson attacks almost two decades ago. In the video believed to be recorded five years ago, Berland proudly says he sent his son to torch bus stops all over Israel to protest the “immodestly” dressed women featured in ads.

Berland has denied all of the allegations against him, and in interviews, his attorneys have claimed the voice on the recordings is not Berland’s. [...]

Va'eschanan; Hashem Does Not Use Words Randomly by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Guest post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

When Hakadosh Baruch Hu tells Moshe Rabbeinu to go up and look out over to Eretz Yisroel, the order of the directions he is instructed to look at seems very random...

First west, then up north...then south, and finally east??

Where do we find such an order? And why was this used here??

For questions and comments please email us 

Ben Ish Chai: Does a wife have to listen to her husband if he orders her to bray like a donkey?

Ben Ish Chai (Torah Lishma 319): Question: Is a wife obligated to listen to her husband when he orders her to do ridiculous things? For example, does she have to listen when her husband demands with threats that she should ride on a broomstick in the courtyard like little children do or to bray like a donkey or bark like dog? She refused because of embarrassment. Does she in fact have an obligation to listen to her husband even for foolish things because a woman is obligated to honor her husband and to do what he wants because that is his happiness? Or do we say that she has no obligation to listen to foolish demands? Answer: She is not required to listen to him when he says foolish things. It says in Kesubos (71b) that if a man takes an oath that his wife must fill up a bucket 10 times with water and empty it in the garbage dump – he is required to divorce her and give her the kesuba because doing so makes her look like she is crazy. So also in our case. Doing these foolish things makes her look like she is crazy and she is not obligated to listen to him in these things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beth Din Will Face $100M Suit by Barry Freundel Mikveh-Peep Victims

CBS News

A $100 million lawsuit was filed after a D.C. rabbi and former Towson University professor secretly recorded dozens of naked women in a Jewish ritual bath. Lawyers aren’t only going after the rabbi, WJZ’s Ava-joye Burnett reports.

The lawsuit against Rabbi Barry Freundel and four institutions he worked for topped a staggering $100 million. The rabbi secretly recorded dozens of naked women in a ritual bath known as a mikvah.

“He was really calculating for a really long time, and I really do believe he was a sociopath and is a sociopath,” one victim said.

Lawyer Sanford Heisler said: “We will ask a D.C. jury to hold all defendants liable and impose punitive damages in order to send a strong message that even institutions draped in the cloak of spirituality won’t escape punishment when they violate their legal obligations.”


The Beth Din of America has been added to the list of defendants in a $100 million class action suit against Rabbi Barry Freundel, the prominent Washington, D.C., spiritual leader who was convicted of secretly videotaping women in his synagogue’s ritual bath, and several Jewish institutions.

On Tuesday, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in Superior Court in Washington, D.C., that included the rabbinical court, according to a news release on behalf of the Sanford Heisler and Chaikin Sherman Cammarata Siegel law firms.

The suit, which was filed originally in December 2014, also names as defendants Freundel’s former synagogue, Kesher Israel; the Rabbinical Council of America, the main professional association for modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States; and the National Capital Mikvah, the ritual bath Freundel used to spy on his victims. [...]

Is this the promised landslide? - More than 120 Republicans tell RNC to cut off funds to Donald Trump

A letter that urges the Republican National Committee to cut off funds to Donald Trump has collected more than 120 signatures from current and former elected officials, according to the final version obtained by CBS News.

The letter, which will be delivered to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Tuesday, includes two sitting members of Congress and 27 former RNC staffers, among many others.

"Given the catastrophic impact that Donald Trump's losing presidential campaign will have on down-ballot Senate and House races, we urge you to immediately suspend all discretionary RNC support for Trump and focus the entirety of the RNC's available resources on preserving the GOP's congressional majorities," says the letter, whose draft CBS reported on last week when there were already 70 signatures.

It adds that Trump's chances of winning in November are "evaporating by the day." [...]

"We believe that Donald Trump's divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck," the letter says.

The group added that every dollar the RNC spends on Trump's campaign "is a dollar of donor money wasted on the losing effort of a candidate who has actively undermined the GOP at every turn." [...]

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Americans Don’t Trust Hillary. But Why?

A Clinton with a trust problem. We’ve seen that before. It was 1992, and doubts about Bill Clinton’s integrity, stoked by his marital infidelities and avoidance of the Vietnam War, were the biggest threat to his presidential campaign. Stanley Greenberg, a top Democratic campaign strategist, devised a secret plan to turn around the candidate’s reputation for dishonesty.

In the latest episode of The Run-Up, we talked to Mr. Greenberg about how Mr. Clinton pulled it off, and what lessons it holds for his wife, Hillary, whose image problems as a truth-shader today are even greater than her husband’s were in the 1990s, surveys show. As of the latest New York Times poll, 67 percent of registered voters have doubts about her trustworthiness. [...]

The Sanhedria Murchevet Witchhunt - a defense for what has happened

One of the important figures in the Sanhedria Murchevet sex abuse scandal is Dr. Joy Silberg - a therapist in Baltimore who is viewed as a major expert on child abuse. I have exchanged a number of emails with her and she is working on a public statement concerning this matter. What is important to know is her view that while there might not be satanic abuse rings in Jerusalem - there is significant abuse and that there is a kernal of truth to the allegations of abuse.

In particular she suggested that I read Ross Cheit's book "The Witch-Hunt Narrative" which provides a detailed, scholarly and controversial - revisionist view of the sex abuse hysteria in America. 

This I assume will be the basis of the defense for the three charged with promoting a campaign against what they claimed is satanic sex abuse rings linked to the Church. I just purchased the book - it is very heavy reading. In the meantime here is a review of the book. Here is a rebuttal

Cheit isn't denying that innocent people went to jail - his thesis is that not all the cases were a result of witch-hunt hysteria but that there were many cases of genuine abuse and that because of the present mistaken belief that it was largely charges brought during hysteria - the pendulumn has swung the other way and children are not automatically believed as they once were.

Cheit is not a psychologist but is a  professor of political science and public policy at Brown University

How the ‘Witch Hunt’ Myth Undermined American Justice

Innocent people persecuted by a legal system out of control? In The Witch-Hunt Narrative, Ross E. Cheit argues the media and courts have gone too far in dismissing evidence of abuse.

In 1996, Philip Jenkins, then a history professor at Pennsylvania State University, argued in Pedophiles and Priests that the earlier coverage of clergy abuse was a “putative” crisis, one “constructed” by the media and church critics.

In 2002, a Boston Globe investigation of such cases ignited a chain reaction in many newsrooms about a deeply rooted culture of churchmen concealing abusers that the Vatican ignored. The “putative crisis” resembled a construction of its author. Jenkins had written entirely from secondary literature—no interviews or excavation of legal documents. He has since become a $400-an-hour expert witness for the church in lawsuits filed by abuse victims, according to his own testimony.

Jenkins drew a parallel between the Salem witch trials and the 1984 acquittal of two defendants in a Minnesota day-care-center case in which charges against 23 other people were also dropped after a botched investigation. But the lead defendant was convicted, and spent years in prison, as Ross E. Cheit notes in The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children. This 508-page book examines media coverage of prosecutions of abuse at day-care centers in the 1980s and ’90s.

A professor of political science and public policy at Brown University, Cheit has 68 pages of footnotes, with an array of legal citations; though the narrative is sometimes plodding, and at times redundant, Cheit mounts a rigorous argument that the witch-hunt—innocent people persecuted by a legal system out of control—is a concocted myth.

Cheit is no stranger to litigation, having sued the San Francisco Boys Choir in 1994 for “rampant sexual abuse of boys, including me,” he writes, “fighting successfully to keep from having the entire matter sealed and insisting on a public apology to settle the suit.” He writes, too, that he does volunteer work with sex offenders in a Rhode Island prison.

Cheit’s careful, probing approach is counter-cultural to an age when information moves at amazing speed with fewer guarantees of accuracy than in newsrooms of yesteryear. Legal proceedings are about process; so is The Witch-Hunt Narrative. Cheit wants us to make sense of the forest and the trees.

The case that spawned the media notion of a witch hunt was the McMartin Preschool, where allegations in 1983 fell within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles District Attorney. As initial evaluations of children were underway, parents contacted a TV reporter. “The DA’s office was caught unprepared when the media spotlight hit them on Feb. 2, 1984,” writes Cheit, “suggest[ing] there was widespread sexual abuse at the McMartin Preschool and the government was dragging its feet.”

Cheit explores the difficulty child-care specialists faced in determining what happened; videotaped screenings morphed into forensic interviews, and became something they were never intended to be: evidence in court. A “runaway train” grand jury indicted seven people including Virginia McMartin, the wheelchair-bound grandmother for whom the school was named. Much of the suspicion centered on her grandson, Ray Buckey, who spent five years in jail during the longest and perhaps most costly preliminary proceeding of a criminal case in California history. Charges against five people were dropped. Buckey and his sister stood trial.

McMartin became its own media narrative. 60 Minutes did an exposé of the legal malfunctions, all but exonerating the defendants; Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw won a Pulitzer for attacking his own paper’s coverage. Cheit’s painstaking account of the chaotic pretrial saga ends with a jury acquittal of Buckey and his sister on a host of charges. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on 12 charges against Buckey. He was retried, again acquitted, though not unanimously.

“The McMartin case began as a morality play about the failure to protect children,” he writes. “It ended as a morality play about the failure to protect civil liberties…[and] the complete negation of the evidence of abuse.” That critical distinction is a leitmotif through the book. Society craves black-and-white narratives where good triumphs, criminals go down. It is much harder to accept the gray area of resolutions—as in the O.J.Simpson case, when a man widely assumed to be guilty was acquitted in a circus-like courtroom.

Cheit criticizes journalist Debbie Nathan for her phrase “junior McMartins” in describing “a nationwide rash of similar cases.” Nathan published a 1995 book with defense attorney Michael Snedeker, Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of an American Witch Hunt. Cheit concedes that charges in some cases should not have been filed, but debunks a key source of Nathan’s reporting: a list of 36 cases cited in a 1988 Memphis Commercial Appeal series called “Justice Abused: A 1980s Witch-Hunt.”

“What kind of witch-hunt or ‘justice denied’ results in no charges whatsoever?” he writes. “Sixteen of the cases never got to the stage of a trial; charges were dropped in some cases and they were never brought in others. One-third of the cases resulted in a conviction, seemingly undercutting the claim of ‘justice abused.’ “ [...]

Inside the Failing Mission to Tame Donald Trump’s Tongue

Donald J. Trump was in a state of shock: He had just fired his campaign manager and was watching the man discuss his dismissal at length on CNN. The rattled candidate’s advisers and family seized the moment for an intervention.

Joined by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, a cluster of Mr. Trump’s confidants pleaded with him to make that day — June 20 — a turning point.

He would have to stick to a teleprompter and end his freestyle digressions and insults, like his repeated attacks on a Hispanic federal judge. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey argued that Mr. Trump had an effective message, if only he would deliver it. For now, the campaign’s polling showed, too many voters described him in two words: “unqualified” and “racist.”

Mr. Trump bowed to his team’s entreaties, according to four people with detailed knowledge of the meeting, who described it on the condition of anonymity. It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

Nearly two months later, the effort to save Mr. Trump from himself has plainly failed. He has repeatedly signaled to his advisers and allies his willingness to change and adapt, but has grown only more volatile and prone to provocation since then, clashing with a Gold Star family, making comments that have been seen as inciting violence and linking his political opponents to terrorism.

Advisers who once hoped a Pygmalion-like transformation would refashion a crudely effective political showman into a plausible American president now increasingly concede that Mr. Trump may be beyond coaching. He has ignored their pleas and counsel as his poll numbers have dropped, boasting to friends about the size of his crowds and maintaining that he can read surveys better than the professionals.

In private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change.

He broods about his souring relationship with the news media, calling Mr. Manafort several times a day to talk about specific stories. Occasionally, Mr. Trump blows off steam in bursts of boyish exuberance: At the end of a fund-raiser on Long Island last week, he playfully buzzed the crowd twice with his helicopter.

But in interviews with more than 20 Republicans who are close to Mr. Trump or in communication with his campaign, many of whom insisted on anonymity to avoid clashing with him, they described their nominee as exhausted, frustrated and still bewildered by fine points of the political process and why his incendiary approach seems to be sputtering. [...]

People around Mr. Trump and his operation say they are not ready to abandon hope of a turnaround. But he is in a dire predicament, Republicans say, because he is profoundly uncomfortable in the role of a typical general election candidate, disoriented by the crosscurrents he must now navigate and still relying impulsively on a pugilistic formula that guided him to the nomination.

His advisers are still convinced of the basic potency of a sales pitch about economic growth and a shake-up in Washington, and they aspire to compete in as many as 21 states, despite Mr. Trump’s perilous standing in the four states — Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina — likely to decide the election.[...]

Even before Mr. Trump’s most recent spate of incendiary comments, Republicans who dealt with him after the primaries came away alarmed by his obvious unease as the de facto party leader. After a meeting in late May between Mr. Trump and Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s presidential victories, Mr. Rove told associates he was stunned by Mr. Trump’s poor grasp of campaign basics, including how to map out a schedule and use data to reach voters.[...]

Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he is nearly out of time to right his campaign. On Tuesday, hours before his explosive comment about “Second Amendment people” taking action if Mrs. Clinton is elected, his brain trust reassembled again at Trump Tower in a reprise of their stern meeting in June.

They again urged Mr. Trump to adjust his tone and comportment. The top pollster, Tony Fabrizio, gave an unvarnished assessment, warning that Mr. Trump’s numbers would only move in one direction, absent a major change.

Mr. Trump, people briefed on the meeting said, digested the advice and responded receptively.

It was time, he agreed, to get on track.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New rabbinical law limits exorbitant prenuptial agreements

Arutz 7   The Jerusalem District Rabbinical Court issued a new ruling this morning (Monday) that limits the compensation that a husband owes his wife in the event of divorce, Channel 10 reported.

In Jewish wedding ceremonies performed according to traditional Jewish law, the groom signs a marriage contract (called a "Ketuba") in which he stipulates a certain amount that he owes to his wife in the event they divorce. If the husband had written a very large amount on the contract and he finds himself in a divorce, then, he can be in serious financial hot water.

The new law apparently comes as the result of a case that came to the Rabbinical Court, in which a woman demanded the exorbitant sum of 555,555 shekels as divorce compensation, since this is the number the husband had written on the marriage contract.

According to Channel 10, the husband in this case had demanded a divorce from his wife after she developed a sickness. The wife then countered that she had fallen sick due to her husband's infidelity, and would only agree to a divorce if the amount in the marriage contract was paid in full. The husband wouldn't agree to the full amount, claiming that he had written such a large amount initially for the sake of "honor and to ward off the evil eye." (the number '5' is indicative of the Hamsa, a Middle Eastern cultural symbol that is said to ward off the evil eye.)

In the end, although one judge on the Rabbinical Court actually ruled that the husband ought to pay the full amount in the contract, the other two established the majority (binding) ruling, ordering the man to pay 120,000 shekels.

Women who asked for restraining orders - 99% failed lie detector tests

Arutz 7

Family court judge Assaf Zagury said Thursday that “in 99 percent of the polygraph tests to which I sent the two sides in requests for restraining orders, the woman turned out to be lying”.

Judge Zagury is the Deputy President for Family Matters in the Northern District Magistrates’ Court, which is based in Nazareth.

He spoke at a conference dedicated to false complaints within the family, which took place Thursday at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Zagury was replying to a question by Attorney Moran Samon, Head of the Committee for False Complaints in the Bar Association.

He said that there is real difficulty in assessing the truth of complaints regarding domestic abuse, because the deliberations tend to be very short in time and are based on “a balance of probabilities.”

The phenomenon of false complaints “creates an unprecedented workload on the system,” he added, “because it precludes the discussion of the other matters that need to be discussed.”

Also speaking at the conference, Judge Nahshon Fisher, Family Court Judge in the Rishon Letzion Family Court, argued that “not every complaint that is not true is necessarily a false complaint.”

“Sometimes,” he explained, “you find that you are dealing with a complaint that is not true and a different interpretation of events by one of the sides. A false complaint, in my view, is one in which besides the harmful statements, there is malicious intent.”[...]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Haredi father who blocked son’s divorce given prison sentence

A haredi man who urged his son to withhold a divorce from his wife must serve time in prison, after he lost his appeal to Israel’s highest rabbinical court.

The High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem on Monday reaffirmed the father’s 30-day prison sentence, which is precedent-setting in that it punishes a third party to a divorce dispute, the news site NRG reported.

The father, whose name was not published, was the driving force behind his son’s refusal for years to grant his disabled wife a divorce, according to an independent investigation of the case carried out by the Regional Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv before it sentenced the father in March.

In Israel, marital issues are under the jurisdiction of religious tribunals that act as family courts.[...]

The case reviewed Monday in Jerusalem involved a haredi couple who married 19 years ago and who lived in the United States with their two children. The wife was rendered disabled a decade ago after suffering a severe stroke when she was in Israel for a visit with her husband and children. The husband returned to the United States; his wife remained in Israel with their children. He has consistently refused her requests to be divorced, allegedly because of his father’s objection.

An injunction preventing the father from leaving Israel was issued earlier this year, when the father was in that country on a family visit. He is currently in Israel and the injunction will remain in force pending a final decision on his case, according to the news site Walla.

The court also ordered the father to pay $23,600, half of which will go to the chained wife. [...]

Tisha B'av; Why We Long To Bring Karbanos by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Guest post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

WITH A VERY INSPIRING AND TRUE STORY AS OUR METAPHOR, we attempt to understand and appreciate the great loss and sorrow that Jews the world over have always felt over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and the cessation of the Karbanos...

For questions or comments, please email us at

Friday, August 12, 2016

Science and Occam's Razor: The Tyranny of Simple Explanations

The history of science has been distorted by a longstanding conviction that correct theories about nature are always the most elegant ones.

Imagine you’re a scientist with a set of results that are equally well predicted by two different theories. Which theory do you choose?

This, it’s often said, is just where you need a hypothetical tool fashioned by the 14th-century English Franciscan friar William of Ockham, one of the most important thinkers of the Middle Ages. Called Ochkam’s razor (more commonly spelled Occam’s razor), it advises you to seek the more economical solution: In layman’s terms, the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Occam’s razor is often stated as an injunction not to make more assumptions than you absolutely need. What William actually wrote (in his Summa Logicae, 1323) is close enough, and has a pleasing economy of its own: “It is futile to do with more what can be done with fewer.”

Isaac Newton more or less restated Ockham’s idea as the first rule of philosophical reasoning in his great work Principia Mathematica (1687): “We are to admit no more causes of natural things, than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.” In other words, keep your theories and hypotheses as simple as they can be while still accounting for the observed facts.

This sounds like good sense: Why make things more complicated than they need be? You gain nothing by complicating an explanation without some corresponding increase in its explanatory power. That’s why most scientific theories are intentional simplifications: They ignore some effects not because they don’t happen, but because they’re thought to have a negligible effect on the outcome. Applied this way, simplicity is a practical virtue, allowing a clearer view of what’s most important in a phenomenon.

But Occam’s razor is often fetishized and misapplied as a guiding beacon for scientific enquiry. It is invoked in the same spirit as that attested by Newton, who went on to claim that “Nature does nothing in vain, and more is in vain, when less will serve.” Here the implication is that the simplest theory isn’t just more convenient, but gets closer to how nature really works; in other words, it’s more probably the correct one.

There’s absolutely no reason to believe that. But it’s what Francis Crick was driving at when he warned that Occam’s razor (which he equated with advocating “simplicity and elegance”) might not be well suited to biology, where things can get very messy. While it’s true that “simple, elegant” theories have sometimes turned out to be wrong (a classical example being Alfred Kempe’s flawed 1879 proof of the “four-color theorem” in mathematics), it’s also true that simpler but less accurate theories can be more useful than complicated ones for clarifying the bare bones of an explanation. There’s no easy equation between simplicity and truth, and Crick’s caution about Occam’s razor just perpetuates misconceptions about its meaning and value.

The worst misuses, however, fixate on the idea that the razor can adjudicate between rival theories. I have found no single instance where it has served this purpose to settle a scientific debate. Worse still, the history of science is often distorted in attempts to argue that it has. [...]

We’re So Confused: The Problems With Scientific Food and Exercise Studies

Nearly everything you have been told about the food you eat and the exercise you do and their effects on your health should be met with a raised eyebrow.

Dozens of studies are publicized every week. But those studies hardly slake people’s thirst for answers to questions about how to eat or how much to exercise. Does exercise help you maintain your memory? What kind? Walking? Intense exercise? Does eating carbohydrates make you fat? Can you prevent breast cancer by exercising when you are young? Do vegetables protect you from heart disease?

The problem is one of signal to noise. You can’t discern the signal — a lower risk of dementia, or a longer life, or less obesity, or less cancer — because the noise, the enormous uncertainty in the measurement of such things as how much you exercise or what exactly you eat, is overwhelming. The signal is often weak, meaning if there is an effect of lifestyle it is minuscule, nothing like the link between smoking and lung cancer, for example.

And there is no gold standard of measurement, nothing that everyone agrees on and uses to measure aspects of lifestyle.

The result is a large body of studies whose conclusions are not reproducible. “We don’t know how to measure diet or exercise,” said Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of the National Cancer Institute’s division of disease prevention.

His division is working on ways to sort out inconsistencies in research used to generate health advice, hoping to improve what has become a real mess: “You can ask people how many times a week or how many times a month they eat bread or berries or ask them to keep a diary of what they ate in the last 24 hours.” But, he said, it should be no surprise that people misremember or give researchers an answer they think makes them sound good.

“I can’t remember what meals I ate a week ago,” Dr. Kramer said. “Now ask me what meals I had as an adolescent, or how much I exercised.”

David Allison, director of the nutrition obesity research center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says the same problems plague obesity research, with only two things known with certainty. All other things being equal, if you eat more calories, you will gain weight. And all other things being equal, if you exercise enough, you will lose a small amount of weight.

Adding to the confusion is a cacophony of poorly designed research, the tendency for different researchers studying the same effect to use different measurements and report outcomes differently, and researchers’ tendency to selectively report positive or “interesting” results.

The result is what Dr. Kramer calls whipsaw literature. “One week drinking coffee is good for you, and the next week it is lethal,” he says.

The situation is so bad that what gets published tends to be what the scientists believe ahead of time, says Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University’s medical school. “There are so many nutrients and so many diets,” he said. “So many outcomes — heart disease, cancer, stroke. What kind of data do you collect? A follow-up at two months, six months, two years, 10 years? You end up having millions of choices.”

And the scientists get to pick the one they want. “I can get you any result you want in any observational data set,” he said.[...]

Then there are the seemingly contradictory but well-done studies. One large federal study found that — contrary to all assumptions — diet and weight loss did not prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with Type 2 diabetes. Another large federal study found that people at risk for Type 2 diabetes could stave it off by losing a modest amount of weight and exercising.[...]

Some medical experts say the problems with lifestyle studies are so overwhelming — and the chance of finding anything reproducible and meaningful so small — that it might be best to just give up on those questions altogether.

“They may not be worth studying,” said Dr. Vinay Prasad, a cancer researcher at Oregon Health and Science University. “People want certainty, but, boy, we have no good answers.”

As for Dr. Kramer, he has not given up on rigorous research. What is needed at the point, he says, is a little more humility among researchers in interpreting and reporting the implications of their own evidence.