|Volume 21 Number 3||www.ntskeptics.org||March 2007|
Recall four years ago Russell Shipp came to us with his plan to move matter with his mind. We still have our $12,000.1
Later Greg Nichols and Greg Willis asked us to examine their magical substance that made wine taste better. Even when applied to the outside of the glass. I sadly reported how we failed to meet Messrs. Greg's testing standards and how we were roundly scalded for our trouble.2
Rechey Davidson was able to locate objects inside my house in Dallas while he, Davidson, was a few counties over. So he claimed. We conducted a preliminary test in which Mr. Davidson went twelve for twelve, which is something in itself. Twelve straight misses was an improbable occurrence for this test.
More recently we received this:
Carl Ritchie wrote:After I got over the idea of a person named Carl signing his name "David" we got down to business. It's come to this. Carl Ritchie says he has followed my advice and tested himself back in Missouri. He says he passed his own test, and he is ready to come to Dallas and show us his stuff.
Hi, I'm not one that goes looking for underground streams and rivers etc. but I am the best you ever saw when it comes to finding water lines, power lines and teleohone lines etc..
I am 100% in finding what I just mentioned, I don't know if you call it dowsing or what but I know what I can do and am very willing to prove it.
Do you or don't you believe what I just said???
From: Carl RitchieThe weather is getting better for an out-of-doors test, so the Challenge underwriters are trying to figure out (as we always do) who does what. Then we will get all set up and invite Mr. Ritchie down for a show and tell. You will read about it here.
Subject: Re: DOWSING
To: "John Blanton"
Hi John, I quess I'm ready to come and take your prize money, I hate to, but you know how it is, I need a little more money to finish up my project I'm working on,ha ha ha .
The number one thing I would love to take the test on would be buried power lines [ alive or dead ] it doesn't matter but if you want you can bury one or two and run current through them and I will tell you which one has current at any time or not, or we can just use dead power cables like you would use for power to your house, I would want them to be fairly long, say 40 or 50 ft, if you want to use buried water lines that's o.k. too., we can work out the details when you get ready to lose that prize money.
Carl David Ritchie
P.S. For the protocol test you can bury some before I even get in town, bury them, then plow, disc and rack the ground so no one can even tell if anyone has even been in the field.
You can read more about the North Texas Paranormal Challenge and past Challenge activity on our Web site:
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Quantum Mechanics for Dummies
Saturday 17 March 2007
Non-skeptics are always telling us that "Quantum Mechanics" permits (fill in your favorite impossible thing here: PK, precognition, transmutation of elements, etc.) Why? What is it about quantum mechanics that makes so many folks believe it makes the impossible possible
Future Meeting Dates
NTS Social Dinner/Board MeetingSaturday 24 March 2007
NTS Social Dinner
6950 Greenville Avenue in Dallas
Let us know if you are coming. We need to reserve a table.
Check the NTS Hotline for more information at
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Jeremy Manier of the Chicago Tribune has written a short bibliography for those interested:
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins; Free Press.
The author, a giant in genetics research and leader of the Human Genome Project, describes how he came to see his Christian faith as intertwined with his scientific passions.
Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe by Simon Conway Morris; Cambridge University Press.
Rejecting intelligent design and the idea of evolution as an aimless process, the Cambridge paleontologist argues that evolution has trends, suggesting that "the Universe is a set-up job."He also lists the following. Read up, skeptics.
The Sacred Depths of Nature by Ursula Goodenough; Oxford University Press.
Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion by Edward Larson; Harvard University Press.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; Houghton Mifflin.
Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris; Knopf.
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett; Viking Adult.
God's Universe by Owen Gingerich; Belknap.
Living With Darwin: Evolution, Design and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher; Oxford University Press.
Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth Miller; HarperPerennial.
We have been following this story for a while. It appears at last things are coming to a head. Creationist Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis (AiG) has been building the granddaddy of all creation evidence museums outside Cincinnati, in Kentucky, actually. Opening is scheduled for this May, and AiG is expecting a barn burner of a turnout.
By Shelly Whitehead Cincinnati Post staff reporter -
Administrators of Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. have asked Gov. Ernie Fletcher to grant special police powers to their onsite security force.
Museum officials say they need the gubernatorial action so their 10- to 20-person security team can gain access to better training and equipment to ensure they can handle the crowds and traffic anticipated when the facility opens May 28.I'm thinking about waiting this one out. I suspect that by May 29 the crowds will have thinned considerably. I've been to the creation museums at Glen Rose and at the Institute for Creation Research (near San Diego), and there was no line.
I could be wrong. A wise man once said that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
This is the 21st century, right? Guess again.
Raf Casert for The Guardian -
Thirteen dots looked just right to the designer Ronane Hoet. Together they had the perfect balance to form a stylised "b" for the new Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines and the number also matched the destinations it flew to in Africa, a key market. "It was harmony," she said, wistfully.
This week, however, Brussels Airlines workers were adding a 14th ball to the logo on the tail and sides of an Airbus 319 in response to complaints from superstitious customers in the US and Italy.I have previously commented on an airliner that had no row 13. Also concerning a new symphony hall in Dallas with no isle 13.
We can be assured that none of these people make decisions involving people's lives or the destiny of nations. Right?
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) keeps us informed about the Intelligent Design (creationism) scene. This is from their weekly newsletter:
Writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology (March 2007, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 3-8), Elliott Sober answers the question, "What is wrong with intelligent design?" in a particularly clear and informative way. Sober focuses on what he calls "mini-ID": the claim "that the complex adaptations that organisms display (e.g., the vertebrate eye) were crafted by an intelligent designer." After discussing problems with two standard criticisms - that it is unfalsifiable and that it is refuted by the many imperfect adaptations found in nature - Sober argues that mini-ID cannot be tested against evolutionary explanations of adaptations, writing, "When scientific theories compete with each other, the usual pattern is that independently attested auxiliary propositions allow the theories to make predictions that disagree with each other. No such auxiliary propositions allow mini-ID to do this." Sober concludes, "It is easy enough to construct a version of ID that accommodates a set of observations already known, but it also is easy to construct a version of ID that conflicts with what we have already observed. Neither undertaking results in substantive science, nor is there any point in constructing a version of ID that is so minimalistic that it fails to say much of anything about what we observe. In all its forms, ID fails to constitute a serious alternative to evolutionary theory." A Supporter of NCSE, Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and Henry Vilas Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
For Sober's article (PDF), visit:
http://philosophy.wisc.edu/sober/what's%20wrong%20with%20id%20qrb%202007.pdfYou can subscribe to the newsletter for free. Send: subscribe ncse-news <your e-mail address> in the body of an e-mail to email@example.com.
The NCSE is a tax-deductible non-profit. Think seriously about sending them some money every year.
When you're number two, you try harder. Apparently Americans try harder.
By Jeremy Lipps, Bay City News Service -
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A leading American scientist claims that European science understanding is more evolved than the United States, where only 40 percent of Americans believe in evolution, just half the 80 percent rate of several European nations.
Jon Miller, a professor in political science at Michigan State University who spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium in San Francisco Friday, said religion and politics play major roles in undermining the hard earned knowledge that led to the widely accepted theory of evolution.
Miller points a finger at "by the book'' religions like those practiced by fundamentalists in the United States and Iraq.
"Fundamentalists in this country say everything you need to know is in the Bible, period. Islamists say everything you need to know is in the Koran, period,'' Miller said.
According to Miller, the United States ranks second in discounting evolution, just after Turkey.
Edward Humes has written Monkey Girl, about the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial that ended in December 2005. Creationists were soundly defeated, and the whole episode had echoes of the Scopes trial of 1925.
By Edward Humes - Special to the Los Angeles Times
When I first arrived at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., for what was billed as the second coming of the Scopes "monkey trial," a man mingling with the media gaggle handed me an invitation to a lecture titled "Why Evolution Is Stupid." The fellow advised me to come hear the truth about Charles Darwin's dangerous idea. Then he jerked a thumb toward the courtroom and said, "You're sure not going to hear it in there."
I had gone to Harrisburg just more than a year ago to research a book, expecting cutting-edge arguments for the theory of evolution pitted against an upstart movement called "intelligent design," which claims there is evidence of a master designer inside living cells. And hear them I did, in frequently riveting (and occasionally stupefying) detail, as the judge considered whether teaching intelligent design in public schools breached the wall separating church and state.
And yet that invitation and the angry, volatile town meeting it led me to that week proved even more enlightening. It showed me an essential truth of the culture wars in the United States: There are really two theories of evolution. There is the genuine scientific theory, and there is the talk-radio pretend version, designed not to enlighten but to deceive and enrage.
The talk-radio version had a packed town hall up in arms at the "Why Evolution Is Stupid" lecture. In this version of the theory, scientists supposedly believe that all life is accidental, a random crash of molecules that magically produced flowers, horses and humans - a scenario as unlikely as a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747. Humans come from monkeys in this theory, just popping into existence one day. The evidence against Darwin is overwhelming, the purveyors of talk-radio evolution rail, yet scientists embrace his ideas because they want to promote atheism.
These are just a few highlights of the awful and pervasive straw-man image of evolution that pundits harp about in books and editorials and, yes, on talk radio, and this cartoon version really is stupid. No wonder most Americans reject evolution in poll after poll.
But then there is the real theory of evolution, the one that was on display in that Harrisburg courtroom, for which there is overwhelming evidence in labs, fossils, computer simulations and DNA studies. Most Americans have not heard of it. Teachers give it short shrift in schools because the subject upsets too many parents who only know the talk-radio version. But real evolution isn't random; it doesn't say man came from monkeys. Those claims are made up by critics to get people riled up - paving the way for pleasing alternatives such as intelligent design.
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The editor of JRM still refused to retract the article. This week, the remaining author, a businessman who owns fertility clinics in Los Angeles and Seoul, was charged by the editor of Fertility and Sterility with plagiarizing the work of a student in Korea on a different paper. The avenging angel was Bruce Flamm, M.D., UC Irvine, who has hounded the authors, Columbia, and JRM relentlessly since the paper was published.
Bob Park can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Skeptical Inquirer
is published bimonthly by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Subscriptions should be addressed to SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, Box 703, Amherst, NY 14226-0703. Or call toll-free 1-800-634-1610. Subscription prices: one year (six issues), $35; two years, $60; three years, $84. You may also visit the CSICOP Web site at http://www.csicop.org for more information.
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