NTS LogoSkeptical News for 10 February 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, February 10, 2001

'STENDEC' - Stardust's Final Mysterious Message

Posted by Raymond Nelke

Thanks to:
for the source of this story

BBC2 9:00pm Thursday 2nd November 2000

Although modern science has solved most of the mysteries surrounding Stardust's disappearance in 1947, one mystery still remains. Just before the plane disappeared, it sent one final message in Morse code which was picked up by the radio operator in Santiago, where the plane was due to land. The full message sent at 17.41 hrs was as follows:

'ETA [estimated time of arrival] Santiago 17.45 hrs STENDEC'

The final apparently unintelligible word "STENDEC" has been a source of mystery, confusion and intrigue ever since. So mysterious was the disappearance of the plane - coupled with it's final strange message - that Stardust became entwined in UFO theories. The word STENDEC was corrupted into Stendek and became the name of a Spanish UFO magazine.

Now the plane has been found we know that it wasn't spirited away by aliens. However, the mystery of the final radio message remains. What was experienced radio operator Dennis Harmer trying to say? In 1947 the official report into Stardust's disappearance had this to say on the subject:

The 17.41 signal was received by Santiago only 4 minutes before the ETA. The Chilean radio operator at Santiago states that the reception of the signal was loud and clear but that it was given out very fast. Not understanding the word "STENDEC" he queried it and had the same word repeated by the aircraft twice in succession. A solution to the word "STENDEC" has not been found. From this time on nothing further was heard from the aircraft and no contact was made with the control tower at Santiago. All further calls were unanswered.

Before this message a series of entirely routine messages had been transmitted by the plane, reporting their position and intended course.

Since the programme transmitted we have received literally hundreds of messages offering explanations of STENDEC. Below we include a selection of the ideas. But before that, to help understand the problem, here is a website which translates English into Morse code. Any explanation for STENDEC depends on an understanding of Morse code.

"STENDEC" in Morse code is:

... / - / . / -. / -.. / . / -.-.


The Theory
Many people wrote pointing out that STENDEC is an anagram of descent. Variations suggested that the crew might have been suffering from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) as the Lancastrian was unpressurised and the plane was flying at 24000 feet, which would have led the radio operator to scramble the message. Other explanations for the appearance of an anagram in an otherwise routine message included a dyxlexic radio operator and/or receiver in Santiago, and playfulness on behalf of Stardust's radio operator.

Whilst it's true that the Lancastrian was unpressurised, the crew were all supplied with oxygen. A faulty oxygen system can't be ruled out, but seems unlikely. Furthermore, whilst it is relatively easy to imagine STENDEC being scrambled into descent in English, it is much harder in Morse code.

-.. / . / ... / -.-. / . / -. / - (Descent)
... / - / . / -. / -.. / . / -.-. (STENDEC)

And even less likely that the same morse dyslexia would be repeated three times.


The Theory
The radio operator meant to say Stardust. STENDEC and Stardust have some similarities both in Morse code and English

... /- /.-/ .-./ -../ ..-/ .../ - (Stardust)
... / - / . / -. / -.. / . / -.-. (STENDEC)

They may be similar, but it is still hard to imagine an experienced radio operator getting his plane's name wrong on 3 occasions. Furthermore, aircraft were usually referred to by their registration (in Stardust's case G-AGWH) rather than the romantic names airlines gave them. And finally, there seems to be no reason to transmit the plane's name at the end of a routine message.


The Theory
Various people came up with intriguing, imaginative and sometimes amusing messages based on using STENDEC as a series of initials: Hence we have: "Santiago tower message now descending entering cloud" (or "Santiago tower aircraft now descending entering cloud") "Stardust tank empty no diesel expected crash" "Systems to the end navigation depends entirely on circle" (although this correspondent conceded that "the last bit may be a bit muddled"). "Santiago tower even navigator doesn't exactly know"

All these variations seem implausible to a greater or lesser extent. Morse code experts we have consulted believe that it is highly unlikely that a radio operator would resort to convoluted messages based on initials.

Explanations based in Morse code

The theory
Perhaps the most plausible explanations we have heard are firmly based in Morse code, and have come from people highly familiar with this method of communication. Several people have pointed out that the sign off for a Morse code message is AR. The Morse for AR is

.- /.-.

which is identical - although with different spacings - to EC

. /-.-.

Similarly, another Morse expert has pointed out that to attract attention it is common to use the dots and dash for V as a calling up sign. Again, this is the same as ST, only with different spacing.

...- (V)
... /- (ST)

That would leave just "END", sandwiched between a signal attracting attention, and another signing off.

Another explanation, advanced at the time of the disappearance, was that a small rearrangement of the dots and dashes (for example losing the first two dots) yields ETA LATE - apparently a common method of signalling a late arrival amongst RAF radio operators.

. / - / .- / .-.. / .- / - / . (ETA LATE)
... / - / . / -. / -.. / . / -.-. (STENDEC)

Why would the operator say end? Possibly because he was finishing Morse transmissions prior to picking up voice communication. Voice communication was only possible at this time when the aircraft was very close to the airport, and one pilot and radio operator who flew at this time reports that it was common to inform the airport that Morse transmissions were closing down. The problem? Why would the operator use a calling up sign in the middle of his message?

And similarly why would an operator say ETA LATE when he had only just confirmed his time of arrival?


Some things can be said with some degree of certainty. It seems clear that STENDEC is not what the message was meant to say. The word is meaningless in almost every language, and trying to use it as an acronym or an abreviation yields little fruit.

It also seems clear that the message was not anticipating a crash, otherwise it would not have been repeated three times. And why not use SOS, the internationally accepted distress signal?

Fiddling with Morse code seems to offer the best chance of getting close to an understanding of the message. But in the absence of a new clue the truth is we will never know for sure what that final enigmatic radio message was meant to mean.


Horizon regrets that - due to the sheer volume of correspondence - we are unable to respond to further suggestions about the meaning of Stendec.




Witch plans to bless Nessie


The high priest of Britain's White Witches plans to bless the Loch Ness monster.

Kevin Carlyon will visit the loch this summer to wish the monster a long life.

Mr Carlyon also wants to create a coven of 100 witches, all living north of the border.

He says there is widespread ignorance about witchcraft.

The 47-year-old, from Hastings, said: "We don't dance around naked - that is a myth that has come from books by Dennis Wheatley.

"Besides, if you danced around naked in Scotland at the moment, you would get frostbite," he told The Press and Journal.

Sir Geoff on Co$


Posted by Pat Reeder

THE 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst opened an exhibition in London yesterday to promote Scientology, despite having no connections with the controversial movement.

Sir Geoff said he was excited by the drug programmes which Scientologists are running in 21 countries, but not in Britain. He said he knew little about Scientology. "I'm here because of the work they do in drugs." The Narconon drugs programme, designed by the founder of the movement L Ron Hubbard who died in 1986, includes regular saunas to detoxify the body and spiritual "drills".

The movement attracts celebrities and counts John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise among its members but none of the Hollywood names were available to cut the ribbon. The free exhibition will be open every day for two weeks in an empty clothing store in Oxford Street.

Visitors will be able to try a machine called the E-meter which is supposed to reveal a person's spiritual problems. Leaflets handed out on Oxford Street advertising the exhibition ask: "How toxic are you?" The Scientology movement claims it can cure people suffering from "severe body pollution".

("How toxic are you?" Shouldn't we be asking that question of the Scientolgists? -- Pat R.)


Volume 6, Number 6
February 8, 2001
Editor: Joseph Trainor


On Saturday, January 27, 2001, a fisherman casting his nets into the river at Camatari, a town near Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil and pulled ashore a strange-looking artifact. Salvador is a port city on Brazil's South Atlantic shore, located about 800 kilometers (500 miles) northeast of Rio de Janeiro. The oopart (out-of-place artifact--J.T.) was described as a "small android," an "alien toy" and a "toy from the future. According to M. Fratel, UFO Roundup's correspondent in Salvador, Bahia, the object was described as "an artifact like a doll, of humanoid form about 10 to 15 centimeters" (4 to 6 inches) in length. The unusual doll "was translucent and changed color from blue to red" as the holder touched it with his hand. The color changes happened repeatedly as the object was held in differing positions. Also, ""they detected on the skin a liquid like transpiration." Televisao Bahia, Canal (Channel) 8 in Salvador showed video footage of the unusual artifact in its evening news broadcast. The footage showed the spot where the "weird doll" was found and an interview with the fisherman who brought it to shore.

Brazil's Policia Militar reportedly took custody of the "android", which has "which is now being studied by specialists in Salvador." (See Televisao Bahia broadcast of January 27, 2001. Muito obrigado a M. Fratel por eso caso.)

Friday, February 09, 2001


From the WWN

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Would you like to be kidnapped by space aliens? Well, now you can experience the adventure of a lifetime without risking life and limb -- thanks to a company that offers to implant false memories of an alien abduction in your mind!

Alien Abductions Incorporated uses hypnosis to make customers remember in vivid detail being taken aboard a UFO, according to public relations materials of the firm's website.

"The fact of the matter is that most people will probably never have the opportunity to be abducted by aliens. So why wait?" the ads say.

"The highly trained and professional staff at alien Abductions Incorporated can provide you with personalized, realistic memories of the alien abduction that you have been waiting for your entire life."

The company, whose slogan is "If they won't contact you, contact us," boasts the ability to leave you absolutely convinced you've had a close encounter of the third kind.

"When you choose an AAI Abduction Experience our doctors, hypnotists, and memory implant technicians work with you in pre-abduction orientation sessions to customize one of our hundreds of stock abductions to suit your personal taste," according to the PR materials. "Interspecies breeding, medical experimentation -- it's all up to you.

"The memories that you select are gradually stored in your memory using AAI's patented implantation techniques. When all of the memories that you want have been implanted, we activate them -- and then all you have to do is explore the memories of your alien abduction."

While no prices were advertised, AAI promises "the best abduction for the lowest price."

The firm offers special options, including actual round-the-clock surveillance after the memory implantation to add "the thrill of real-life paranoia" to your abduction experience, and an evidence kit providing "proof" of your bogus encounter, such as mysterious alien gizmos.

There is also a specially discounted group abduction, described as an "interesting and economical" alternative. "Each participant receives personal abduction data, which determines their individual role in the abduction," according to AAI. "The group must work together to figure out just what really happened. Bring your own group or meet interesting new people."

Customers swear by the ultra-realistic experiences, according to testimonials posted on the site. "I was on a spacecraft hurtling to Proxima Centauri," wrote one satisfied customer in describing his crystal-clear memory.

"Although this star is more than four light years away, our spacecraft took a shortcut by folding space into a singularity, opening a portal into another dimension."

The firm even offers a way to show off to neighbors, advertising what it calls "Front Yard Crop Circles," patterns on your lawn designed to resemble the landing marks of a flying saucer.

"A tasteful crop circle lets the whole neighborhood know that something special happened," the firm says.

"It's a convenient conversation starter for those who want to talk about their Abduction Experience but don't know how to bring it up with the neighbors."

You can find out more by checking out the company's website at
alienabductions.com or by writing Alien Abductions Incorporated, Urban
Field Office #222, 620 Park Avenue, Rochester, N.Y. 14607.

Wednesday, February 07, 2001

Man arrested for selling water as AIDS remedy

A free service of kaisernetwork.org http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_hiv.cfm

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

A self-described "independent physicist/scientist" was arrested Friday near Los Angeles by FDA investigators for selling bottles of water, touted as an AIDS therapy, over the Internet, the Los Angeles Times/Contra Costa Times reports. Steven Tondre sold 16 oz. bottles of "EXP," which contained a label reading, "Warning: Continued use of this product may cause doctors to become an endangered species," for $50 each on his Web site, called "The Expediter." FDA officials began their investigation in 1999 after an investigator first logged on to the site, which claimed that the product worked through "enhanced oxygenization." Although Tondre claimed the treatment was "not a 'cure' for HIV or AIDS," he said that the product had been shown to "remove all signs of the virus from the body." FDA investigators bought several bottles of EXP through the site and tracked Tondre to a post office where he allegedly shipped the product. An FDA analysis of EXP showed that the liquid, also purported to be "effective in slowing, stopping and even reversing the ravages of aging," was water. Tondre was charged with two counts of "selling a misbranded or unapproved drug intending to defraud or mislead," and a Los Angeles federal magistrate ordered him released on $50,000 bail, pending a Feb. 26 arraignment (Rosenzweig, Contra Costa Times, 2/3).

Scientology out for Kidman

From the New York Post at http://www.nypostonline.com/news/nationalnews/21886.htm

SUPERSTAR Scientologist Tom Cruise tried desperately to save his marriage to Nicole Kidman by undergoing bizarre and grueling counseling with a senior Hollywood member of the church, insiders say.

But there was nothing Scientology could do to solve the central issue between the two. Kidman, 34, is disenchanted with the controversial religion and wants their two children raised as Catholics.

Major Scientific Findings & Discoveries 1996-2001

Posted by Terry Colvin

Not sure if this has been turned over before on the list. Lengthy post but interesting. According to what I read of Edgar Cayce the future world by the middle of this century will be an increasingly watery one with earthquakes and volcanos quite common. Colin

Major Scientific Findings & Discoveries 1996-2001 by Michael Wells Mandeville

1. PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANT POWERS. A 20th century clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce, was validated with hard scientific scores which were generated by exacting empirical methods. A variety of samples of his predictions were proven to have an accuracy of 84% to 96% with an overall average accuracy of 92% for some 250 predictions given over a period of nearly 20 years about objective long term historical events, trends, and scientific concepts. For the first time, Mandeville rigorously demonstrated the power and scope of clairvoyant faculties by using scientific methods and established Edgar Cayce as the world's only objectively validated clairvoyant with an established level of confidence for his statements. Many of the predictions (by Cayce) were about events and circumstances long after or before the clairvoyant's life and many of them were about descriptions and concepts which could not be guessed and could not even be verified until some 20 to 40 years after the clairvoyant's death.

2. THE PRIMARY ENGINE FOR TECTONIC ACTIVITY IN THE EARTH IS CHANDLER'S WOBBLE. The gravity vectors of the Sun and the Moon combine with the Earth's (collectively the EMS system) to induce a chattering in the spinning of the Earth's crust. This chattering, known as Chandler's Wobble, keeps the spin axis of the Earth (the North and South Poles) in constant motion and causes it to move in a small circle around an average point which slowly drifts. The size of the circle of motion varies from 1.5 to 15 meters in a 6.5 year cycle which Mandeville named the Primary Axis Cycle. This constant variation in the motion of the crust causes the opposite sides of the Earth's crust to continuously expand and contract against each other. This forces a continual process of shape-shifting (alteration of the Earth's shape primarily in the equatorial zone) in accordance with the 6.5 cycle. As the size of the circle of motion increases, greater and greater expansion and contraction forces are exerted on the tectonic plates (continents) of the Earth and these forces increase the relative motions of the continents. The results include continental drift, earthquakes, volcanism, most mountain building, and most of the major structural features of the Earth.

3. EARTHQUAKE AND VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IS INDUCED BY THE MOTION OF THE SPIN AXIS. The occurrence of both earthquakes and volcanic activity directly and obviously correlate to the motions and locations of the pole as it chatters through the 14 month and 6.5 year cycles of Chandler's Wobble. The waveforms created by these cycles (defined as the X and Y Waves) in Chandler's wobble directly induce earthquakes and volcanic activity and this fact in principle makes possible the prediction of the most probable "windows" for major seismic activity for any area. Mandeville demonstrated this finding with a large number of charts and graphs which correlated earthquake and volcanic activity in various parts of the Earth with the X & Y Waves in Chandler's Wobble.

4. EL NINO IS DIRECTLY INDUCED BY THE 6.5 YEAR PRIMARY AXIS CYCLE IN CHANDLER'S WOBBLE. Correlations of the last 100 years of volcanic activity with plots of the motion of the North Pole (the X Wave Plots) and the years of the El Nino weather syndrome (ENSO) conclusively demonstrate strong relationships. The rhythm of volcanic activity in major arcs and groups of volcanoes directly reflects the tempo of the Primary Axis Cycle. The El Nino (ENSO) phenomenon parallels the rhythm of volcanic activity and it usually commences at the same cyclical moment in the repeat upswing of the 6.5 year Primary Axis Cycle. Accordingly, in principle, the El Nino onset periods are predictable. More probable than not, the ENSO weather pattern is caused by the motion of the crust relative to the axis. As the crust moves over the North Spin Axis, the resulting contractions and expansions on opposite sides in the crust of the Earth in the equatorial zone increase or decrease the flux of volcanic heat into the great rift cracks on the bottoms of the oceans. The increase in heat increases the temperature of the ocean water to produce El Nino. The decrease in heat induces La Nina.

5. ANOMALOUS 50 YEAR TREND OF INCREASE IN TECTONIC ACTIVITY. The current progressive movement of the average location of the spin axis (at a rate of 10.8 cm per year) since ~1900 appears to be inducing a major escalation of earthquake activity and volcanism. The number of earthquakes has increased by a factor of at least 4 times during the past 50 years and the total number of active volcano days per year has also risen by about 4 times. This implies that the current drift in the location of the pole is not historically normal and demonstrates an increased level of imbalance in the spin mass of the Earth.

6. THE "GLOBAL WARMING" PHENOMENA IS DIRECTLY CAUSED BY UNDERWATER VOLCANISM. The geophysical record is clear, as seismic and volcanic levels have increased, global warming has increased. The evidence of coupling to human activity and so-called greenhouse gases remains very weak, inconclusive, and politically controversial, primarily because of the non-linear relationships between the variables. However, there is a direct, simple, observable, linear connection between the huge increase in volcanism and the growing "global warming" symptoms.

7. VORTEX TECTONICS PARADIGM FOR EARTH DYNAMICS. Correlations between earthquakes, volcanic activity, and the motion of the spin axis establish and prove the basis for a new paradigm of Earth dynamics which Mandeville named "Vortex Tectonics". It is a superior paradigm for explaining the dynamics in the Earth which have created the various geological features and propel the steadily moving tectonic plates of the continents and the ocean bottoms. In one sentence, vortex tectonics is the finding that most motions of the crust, both as a unitary shell and as individual continental plates, are induced directl but complexly from the relationships between the Sun and the orbital motions of the Moon and the whole Earth. Additional motion is induced by the solar flux and the forcing of "centrifugal balance" by the Earth's own spin. This paradigm provides an entirely new basis for doing geology, geophysics, volcanology, seismology, and climatology. In principle, both volcanic and earthquake activity in aggregate is regularly predictable within vortexian "windows". In the same way that plate tectonics succeeded static geology because of a superior grasp of the breadth of geological phenomena, vortex tectonics will be adapted because it consistently and comprehensively explains how plate tectonics in fact works. The new paradigm will ultimately succeed because it provides a basis for predicting major occurrences of tectonic activity, a power which eluded 20th century science and the types of geological reasoning which were prevalent during the last few decades.

8. A RADICAL CHANGE IN CHANDLER'S WOBBLE. Beginning in December 1999, the Primary Axis Cycle has undergone a progressive change which is apparently altering the phase, amplitude, and shape of Chandler's Wobble. All computer predictions of the location of the spin axis for 90 days into the future have become progressively more and more in error. The motion of the axis has become progressively less circular and more elliptical. On graph plots of the motion of the pole, energy has been transferred out of the X direction of motion (up and down Greenwich Meridian) and into the Y direction of motion (up and down Longitude West 90). The Earth's crust appears to be moving more and more in a back and forth bobbing motion than in its normal circular motion. This is most likely a sign of increasing instability in the spin motion and location of the axis of the Earth.

Resources & References:

For the validations and compilations of Edgar Cayce's predictions, see all three books in the trilogy of the "Return of the Phoenix" by Michael Wells Mandeville. Sample chapters and information about how to obtain the books can be seen at

For a summary of the Phoenix Paradigm, which combines geological evidence and Cayce's comments to interpret ancient myths, see "The Phoenix Paradigm", MW Mandeville, MetaSyn Media, 2000, 23 pgs.

For an overall summary of the geophysical and geological concepts presented on these pages, see "An Outline Of The Principles Of Vortex Tectonics; The New Paradigm For Earth Dynamics", MW Mandeville, MetaSyn Media, 2000, 11 pgs.

For a compilation of correlations which demonstrate and prove the basics of vortex tectonics, see "Vortex Tectonics: The Primary Factors Which Govern Earth Dynamics", MW Mandeville, MetaSyn Media, 2000, 36 pgs; download this document from the web:

For on-going discussions related to vortex tectonics and the current transformations which are underway in Chandler's Wobble, subscribe to the Earth Change Bulletins (newsletter on the internet) by sending a blank email message to

For on-going updates related to the current motions of the spin axis and the transformations which are underway in Chandler's Wobble, see the Polar Motion Monitor (HTML Website) at

For a general discussion of the significance of Mandeville's discoveries to the issues related to El Nino weather forecasting and the debate about global warming, see "Press Release: Arizona Scientist Announces Major New Findings To Explain El Nino & Global Warming" which can be downloaded at

To contact the author, Michael W. Mandeville, write to: HC01 Box 890A, Black Canyon City, Arizona, USA 85324 or send email to: or call 623-374-9585

Best Wishes,
Michael Wells Mandeville, The Hills of Arizona USA
"Return of the Phoenix" at http://www.aa.net/~mwm/phoenix/phoenix.htm
To order the Return of the Phoenix, go to
Everyone concerned about the Earth Changes must subscribe to:

To check the latest status of the Earth's Axis, go to:

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

Thanks for the "False" Memories

Your brain knows when the recollection is real, study shows

By Julia McNamee Neenan
HealthScout Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthScout) -- True memories and those recollections you only think are real leave different traces in your brain, scientists report.

When you see something you've seen before, your brain registers a stronger electric charge than when it's an image you only believe you've seen, says a study in a recent issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

"The general notion is that some representation of what you see when you see [a] word leaves a memory trace in the brain, and when that sensory experience is produced again, the brain recognizes what it's seen before," says study author Michael Stadler.

Stadler and his colleagues asked subjects to study lists of related words, such as "table," "sit" and "desk." Later the subjects were shown these words and others, some of which were related, such as "chair." They were then asked whether they had studied the words or not.

About 75 percent of the time, they guessed they had seen both the studied words and the related words, so they didn't distinguish on a conscious level between "true" and "false" memories, Stadler says.

But their brains weren't fooled.

Stadler measured electrical responses through electroencephalograms, and saw the brain registered a stronger electrical response when the word being viewed was one the person had studied than when it was a word that hadn't been studied.

Studying a word had left a "sensory signature" that reappeared when the word was seen again, Stadler says.

The whole question of false and true memories is mired in controversy because of the importance of so-called recovered memories in rape and child abuse cases, Stadler says.

"I want to be careful to not say there is no such thing as a recovered memory," he says. "But when you're asking someone to recollect something, what they're recollecting could be prone to these kinds of errors."

The fact that subjects were wrong 75 percent of the time suggests the fragility of memory, Stadler says, and it means we shouldn't always be convinced by eyewitness testimony in court cases or patient accounts of medical histories and symptoms.

"Memory is not a verbatim tape recording of an experience," Stadler says. "Instead, memory is really a reconstructive process."

The study's findings jibe with other research on memory, says Dr. Daniel Offer, a professor of psychiatry at the Northwestern University Medical School. In his own study reported last spring, Offer says, men at 48 reported drastically different recollections of their early lives than they first reported when they were 14.

"Their memories were no better than chance," Offer says. "People just don't have accurate memories."

Most memories contain emotional content that can cloud the facts, Stadler says, and time also blurs lines.

"We're giving memory the best chance here," Stadler says. "What it does is illustrate how susceptible memory is to these errors."


Scheduled to air Feb 15 according to the network's publicity

(9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) In Stereo-CC


NASA put a man on the moon for the first time in 1969 -- or did it? Could the entire moon program have been an elaborate deception staged to fool the public? The conspiracy theories are investigated in the all-new one-hour special CONSPIRACY THEORY:DID WE LAND ON THE MOON Thursday, Feb. 15 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). (SP-0139) (TV-PG)

Monday, February 05, 2001

Skeptical Inquirer Electronic Digest, February 5, 2001

Visit the CSICOP and Skeptical Inquirer Magazine website at
http://www.csicop.org. Receiving over 200,000 hits per year, the CSICOP site
was rated one of the top ten science sites by HOMEPC magazine. Send comments
regarding SI DIGEST to editors Matt Nisbet at mcn23@cornell.edu and Barry
Karr at .

In this edition of SI Digest:

--US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Cover Story on Herbal Remedies
--NY TIMES MAGAZINE: Cover Story on UFO Sect and Human Cloning
--ABCNEWS.COM: Paulos on Probability of Witness Misidentification
--US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Divining the God Factor
--NY TIMES: The Scientist Who Dared to Say Animals Think


This week's issue of US NEWS & WORLD REPORT features a series of articles, including the cover story, on herbal remedies.

To read the following articles, go to http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/010212/home.htm

Are herbal-remedy products tonic or toxin?
Sex and sports performance in a capsule?
Herbs, dollars, and lawmakers


A Desire to Duplicate
Sunday, February 4, 2001
For the full text of the article, go to

A grieving family hopes to replace a lost child. A genetics-obsessed sect dreams of achieving immortality. Is this how human cloning will begin?


Coins and Confused Eyewitnesses
Calculating the Probability of Picking the Wrong Guy

By John Allen Paulos
Special to ABCNEWS.com

For the full text of the column, go to

Feb. 1 "Yes, he's definitely the one I saw that night. I'll never forget that sneer."

Picking the Biased Penny Picking the Wrong Guy Calculating the Accuracy of a Witness

[Confident, but mistaken eyewitness reports during criminal trials can send an innocent man or woman to prison. And new experiments (as well as common sense) indicate that such faulty identifications of suspects are not uncommon. Before I get to developments on this topic, consider a coin puzzle whose solution is relevant to the issue.]


U.S.News & World Report presents a public affairs video series, made possible by Lincoln Financial Group in partnership with Newseum/NY. Each program will bring together U.S. News senior editors and leaders from business, education, politics, and the arts for panel discussions of provocative national affairs topics. The series will be archived here for viewing in streaming video.

December 2000
Are Americans really undergoing a spiritual revival?

To view the full video of the panel, go to

Polls indicate that 96 percent of Americans say they believe in God, while 58 percent say that religion's influence on society is diminishing. So which is it? Is religion in America on the rise or the decline?

To read a David Gergen essay on the issue, go to


By Emily Eakin

For the full text of the article, go to

Scientists were appalled twenty-five years ago when Donald Griffin, right, suggested that animals most likely have thoughts and feelings. But the field Dr. Griffin christened cognitive ethology ultimately took off.

SI Electronic Digest is the biweekly e-mail news update of the Committee for
the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP.)

Visit http://www.csicop.org/. Rated one of the Top Ten Science sites on the Web by HOMEPC magazine.

The Digest is written and edited by Matt Nisbet and Barry Karr. SI Digest is distributed directly via e-mail to over 4000 readers worldwide, and is sent from CSICOP headquarters at the Center for Inquiry-International, Amherst NY, USA.

To subscribe for free to the SI DIGEST, go to:


Direct media inquiries regarding Skeptical Inquirer and CSICOP to Kevin Christopher at 716-636-1425 or . CSICOP publishes the bimonthly SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, The Magazine for Science and Reason.

To subscribe at the $18.95 introductory Internet price, go to:

Sunday, February 04, 2001

Man asked witchdoctor to make him popular with Mugabe

From Ananova

A court has ordered the leader of Zimbabwe's war veterans to pay a witchdoctor for rituals she performed to make him more popular with President Robert Mugabe.

The judge, however, ordered Hitler Hunzvi to pay Sarudzayi Isaya only £100 instead of the £3,700 she had demanded.

Hunzvi, a qualified doctor, also hired Isaya to get him out of jail when he was arrested on fraud charges in 1998.

"It's astonishing that a medical doctor sought the services of a traditional healer to do such things," said Judge Esmael Chatikobo.

Isaya told the court that she gave Hunzvi charms to ensure that Mugabe would like him and appoint him to senior government posts.

Hunzvi denied owing her anything and said her trances, evil spirit cleansing and charms were useless.

"She claims she released me from prison, and I have told her to put me back inside if she is that powerful," he said.

Last updated: 09:45 Sunday 4th February 2001

Students' ghost panic triggers education fears

From Ananova

Leaders of a community in Thailand where 100 students went into mass hysteria have been told not to teach children to believe in ghosts.

Deputy mental health chief Somchai Chakraphand gave the warning after visiting Nong Nam Sai Pithayakhom school where the students experienced mass hysteria at a camp.

He said their fear was provoked by the traditional belief in ghosts and evil spirits among the local elderly population.

The community, in Sikhiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima, is in an area believed to be a former graveyard, reports the Bangkok Post.

Most residents, including monks, believe the students' illness was caused by ghosts and evil spirits but Dr Somchai said the students were made to work hard all day at the camp, which made them very tired and stressed-out.

He said: "This built up on top of the general belief that spirits and ghosts haunted the area. The students' fear increased and this led to hyperventilation and eventually to breathing problems."

The girl who screamed first believed she had seen a ghost while singing and playing around the camp bonfire.

Her behaviour and fear provoked fear in other students, which in turn developed into physical health problems, Dr Somchai said.

Dr Sucharit Suwannacheep, adviser to the Mental Health Department, said the fear increased confusion among the students and this further led to panic. In some cases, the students became quite rigid.

Last updated: 12:08 Sunday 4th February 2001


From the WWN:

SYDNEY, Australia -- UFO abductee Megan Lacker claims she was held hostage aboard an extraterrestrial vessel for four years and forced to give birth to 48 human-alien hybrids!

"The aliens used me as a human brood sow," charges 23-year-old Megan, who first revealed the shocking details of her degrading ordeal on a Web site devoted to UFO research. "They held hundreds of us in enormous 'breeding bays' where we did nothing but mass-produce offspring."


From the WWN:

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Scientists from seven countries captured the Loch Ness Monster December 4 -- needing a net stronger than steel to hold it!

And they've provided the world's first celar photographs of the legendary animal exclusively to Weekly World News.

"In my judgement we've caught the last dinosaur on Earth," declared Dr. Michael Bourges, the French zoologist leading the team that captured the monster. "This is it, the proof we've been looking for since Nessie was first sighted some 1,300 years ago. This is the smoking gun -- the Loch Ness monster is real! And it's a 'he.' "

Saturday, February 03, 2001

Anti-Quackery Volunteers

I am looking for a few volunteers to help me write some bullets for www.hcrc.org which capture the key points in some online articles. Help is needed desperately, so even if you'd be willing to do just one or two that would be a help. Please contact me offlist.



For the full text of the review, go to


The never-ending conflict
ROCKS OF AGES: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
by Stephen Jay Gould
Cape #14.99 pp250

January, 28 2001

[Stephen Jay Gould has always been even-handed about the claims of science. He has waged war against Bible-thumping creationists, intent on banning the teaching of evolution from American schools. But he has also uncovered ugly stains - racism, Faustian arrogance - in science's own recent past. His new book is a kind of personal testament, in which he offers a peace-plan that will put an end, once and for all, to the "supposed conflict" between religion and science....]

The Shadows, Haints and INTs

Posted by Terry W. Colvin

[The Troup-Heard Corridor is in Georgia and Tennessee.]

In the beginning I mentioned "ETs" and "INTs." What are INTs? In Georgia, they have been around for, possibly, hundreds of years; probably since the Indians first arrived and before whites settled the South. Many rural ol'timers call them "haints." I prefer to call them what they actually look like, "shadows." Based on my nearly 120 formal investigations for MUFON, ISUR and testimony from hundreds of other witnesses I have talked to about UFOs and aliens, the shadows are real. They are also, in my opinion, behind this abduction madness. Actually, I don't believe hardly any, if anyone at all, has ever been PHYSICALLY abducted. But the shadows or haints or INTs--whatever you want to call them-are frequently visiting homes. They are usually described as being dark, shadow appearing, entities who stand between 5-5 1/2 feet tall. Their faces are almost always hidden but often their arms and legs can be seen. On Salem Road in southeastern Troup County I had two different men see INTs in the middle of the road. One of the men claims to have ran one of the shadows over and then watched the shadow enter the cab of his pickup! Like most shadow sightings, the INT immediately disappeared once it knew it had been seen.

Others have discerned features of the shadows. Some have said they have blazing red eyes and four long animal-like claws on each of their hands. More frequently they are simply described as looking like a shadow of a human. One witness described an INT as "being darker than dark." They are seen to move through house walls and found near baby beds. They have also been "felt" to sit atop people in their beds trying to suffocate them. Strangely on actually waking up and seeing them there is no fear while watching them. It is only after they have left, that the witness is left shaking. Whatever the INTs are doing, their presence has frightening and unknown implications. The frequent visits of INTs, however, more logically explains the abduction phenomenon. INTs do not need to levitate people out of their house or cars into waiting space ships. This explains why there is no proof of millions being physically removed from their homes or cars. If indeed this was happening, where are the millions of empty beds and stranded cars? Where are the millions of witnesses who should have missed their love ones for long periods of time, as they were beamed or towed-up into waiting ET craft? The truth is there is almost zero evidence to back-up ET abduction claims. Haints or shadows are often seen in the THC. Why they are here and elsewhere remains uncertain.

Friday, February 02, 2001

Heiney on Smith, Little Gray Men

Published by H-PCAACA@h-net.msu.edu (December 2000)

Toby Smith, _Little Gray Men : Roswell and the Rise of a Popular
Culture_. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press,
2000. xi + 199 pp. References and index. $24.95 (cloth), ISBN

Reviewed for H-PCAACA by Bernadette M. Z. Heiney ,
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

Millions of Americans today believe in the existence of extraterrestrial beings and UFOs. Even though this belief is based on purported sightings and eyewitness accounts, most Americans maintain a blind faith in ufology that is continually being fueled by the mass media. In his new book, Little Gray Men : Roswell and the Rise of a Popular Culture, Toby Smith examines the very notion that aliens exist and traces this cultural phenomenon to the July 1947 incident at Roswell, New Mexico and examines the role the mass media plays in fueling these beliefs.

According to UFO believers, on July 4, 1947, an alien spacecraft crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. From the wreckage found at the site, the United States Army Air Corps supposedly found and confiscated three alien bodies and the spaceship. Initially transported to the Roswell Army Air Field, it is believed that the remains were ultimately transferred to Dayton, Ohio, to what is now known as the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. According to Smith, this incident, regardless of whether or not it is fact or fiction was and continues to be popularized by the media. This continued popularization subsequently provides legitimacy to Roswell. Throughout the book, he provides the reader with a detailed history of news articles, books, television shows and movies that discuss UFO sightings and trace this history back to Roswell. Drawing from the many examples that he provides, he also argues that Roswell serves most often as a model for other sightings. Many of the aliens and spacecraft sighted since then closely resemble what was described at Roswell.

Other ideas explored by Smith include first, the incident's relationship to post World War II America. According to Smith, the Cold War and various government cover-ups from atomic bomb construction at Los Alamos to reconnaissance balloon flights over the continent add credence to the belief that the US government's denial of Roswell is, in fact, just another cover-up. Secondly, he discusses the commercialization of the incident and how this provides another level of credibility for believers. Interestingly, he also notes that this commercialization is an economic boost to the city of Roswell. Third, he outlines for his readers the science of rocketry and how that also relates to ufology, Roswell and the media.

Smith has presented a well-researched, finely detailed review of the events surrounding the UFO crash at Roswell, the science of ufology and the media's role in establishing Roswell as a fixture in American popular culture. Real or imagined, Smith argues that Roswell has become an American urban legend. For UFO believers and skeptics alike, Smith provides a wealth of information for both sides to consider.

Copyright 2000 by H-Net and the Popular Culture and the American Culture Associations. It may be reproduced electronically for educational or scholarly use. The Associations reserve print rights and permissions. (Contact: P.C.Rollins at the following electronic address: ).

Hey Mulder, Most Americans 'Believe'


UTICA, N.Y. (Reuters/Zogby) - A majority of Americans believe other forms of life exist outside of Earth, a Zogby poll revealed.

In a telephone survey of 1,000 adults nationwide, 61% said they believe man is not the only life form in the galaxy compared to 20% who believe that life only exists on Earth. Another said 19% were not sure.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

Healer sues politician over 'unpaid' spells


Submitted by Pat Reeder

A traditional healer claims a politician has not paid for treatment designed to make Robert Mugabe love him. The healer is suing Hitler Hunzvi - head of Zimbabwe's war veterans - claiming he has not settled her £4,000 fee. Sarudzai Isaya says Mr Hunzvi asked for charms that would help him to become a minister, but he denies the claims. She also claims she used her mystical powers to help Mr Hunzvi get bail two years ago when he was charged with fraud. He denies asking for her help, but admits she once sprinkled water at his house during a ceremony he didn't understand. According to reports in local newspapers, the woman has threatened to send hares, fish and baboons to bewitch him. She has been expelled from the National Traditional Healers' Association for charging exhorbitant fees. A Harare court is yet to make a decision on the case.

Last updated: 15:26 Wednesday 31st January 2001

Astrologer thinks she can help childless couples by degree

Submitted by Pat Reeder


An astrologer studying for a degree thinks she can help childless couples by plotting their horoscopes. Pat Harris thinks the movements of the moon, Venus and Jupiter could have an effect on people's fertility. She is now looking for couples to test the theory for her PhD degree at Southampton University. The research was inspired by a woman who got pregnant on her eighth IVF attempt. Lucy Raby's horoscope showed the week of her successful treatment coincided with a triple astrological 'blessing' with the moon, Jupiter and Venus in the right place at the right time. Ms Raby said: "I wasn't aware of the astrological implications at the time, although Pat said mine was a classic case."

Anyone who wants to take part in the research can contact Mrs Harris by e-mail, at , the Telegraph & Argus reports.

Flying Saucer Review, Volume 45/3, Autumn 2000, pp. 18-21

Posted by Terry W. Colvin

Victim Mentality In Abductees: An Unacceptable Concept.
An Essay by Ann Druffel, (California), FSR Consultant

[This article was first published in the MUFON UFO JOURNAL for May 2000, and has been revised slightly by the author for the overseas issue in FSR. Editor FSR.]

In August 1998 my most recent book, HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION, was published by Three Rivers Press, a "How To" division of Random House, followed closely by a U.K. edition in November 1998 from Piatkus Publishers Limited. Better publishers could not have been found - the finest editors and class-act books which covered twenty-five years of personal research on the UFO abduction phenomenon. For a year afterward, and continuing full speed today, the book receives publicity on radio and TV. It has been reviewed favourably in numerous UFO and parapsychology journals, and in newstand magazines in the U.S. and the U.K.

In spite of the fact that the new concept presented in the book is of supreme importance to the UFO field, certain influential UFO researchers have remained strangely silent. This is in stark contrast to favourable reviews by top objective researchers - Dwight Connelly in MUFON UFO JOURNAL, Jennie Zeidman in INTERNATIONAL UFO REPORTER, Tim Owens and Paul Norman in AUSTRALIAN UFO NEWSLETTER, Gordon Creighton in FLYING SAUCER REVIEW among others.

During a magic 2.5 hours with Art Bell on COAST TO COAST, I fielded intelligent questions from numerous listeners and will presently appear on DREAMLAND with Whitley Strieber. All this demonstrates the interest in the subject of "resisters" who successfully tell the abduction phenomenon, whatever it is, to go away and quit bothering them.

Many abduction researchers in various countries have sent letters of agreement and encouragement, and my data base of "resisters" grows rapidly as many abductees continue to share their experiences, containing approximately 100 cases to date. Yet a few top abduction researchers continue to ignore the new concept and message in the book, namely, that stout-hearted witnesses and abductees can and do fend off so-called "UFO aliens", and even permanently rid themselves of the visitations.

In conversation at the annual Laramie Conference last year with a well-known author and abduction researcher, he told me that he came across "resisters" in his case load but did not elaborate how he handled this information. I know for a fact that other researchers come across resisters, but these cases somehow never make it into print. Do these particular researchers dismiss "resisters" because they don't fit in with their own hypotheses? If so, I feel that this attitude is unscientific. In science, don't we work with all data that comes to us from rational, honest sources and not try to "screen out" what is unacceptable to us?

Curious as to why certain researchers have been ignoring the new concept and message in HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION, I recently sent friendly letters, copies of the book and related bio/resume/bibliographical material to four of those who had been so silent, with a simple request for feedback and input. None of the four responded. Their silence was so deafening that it allowed valuable insight to seep into my brain - information which seems so startling that I feel impelled to share it with you. Namely: Certain factors in the UFO field apparently *do not want* instances of successful resistance to come out. If they ignore the book and its new concept, will they perhaps not be tempted to try to advise their own traumatized abductees that resistance may be possible?

Perhaps they do not believe that resistance works and so don't want abductees to even consider it for fear they will "fail" and emerge doubly traumatized? Or do they perhaps sincerely believe that experiencers have *no right* to resist? What other reasons would prevent researchers from learning vital, new information about a phenomenon on which they have laboured for decades?

All four "silent" researchers I refer to are Americans working mainly with American abductees. I do not know if any researchers in the U.K. share these thoughts, but practically nothing has been written in overseas journals, either, about successful resistance. Do researchers truly feel that the abduction phenomenon is so overpowering that it is able to overthrow the principles of freedom on which democracies and republics worldwide were founded - the same principles of freedom from fear and oppression which guide our everyday lives?

Do these researchers really believe that self-determination, right of privacy and other principles of individual freedom no longer apply? Do they truly think that we are now in the hands (or claws) of whitish, frail, large-eyed humanoids whose source is, at best, uncertain? What kind of nonsense is this? I think it is "nonsense" being fed to us by the phenomenon itself, whatever it is.

Where in the great works of history, philosophy, and theology does it say that other orders of beings can tamper with us, guide our destinies or are responsible for us in any way? Say what you will, authors like Von Daniken and Sitchin are not the equivalent of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Muhammad, Buddha and other world thinkers, (not to mention one other who is held to be far greater than any of these! -G.C.).

The theories put forth by these top-profile abduction researchers are conspicuously contradictory, but they do not seem to recognize this among themselves. There is a "oneness" among them which is difficult to understand. Some of them theorize (or are actually convinced) that extraterrestrial creatures are hybridizing humans against their will so that they can take over our planet.

Others theorize (or are convinced) that these creatures are somehow responsible, in the great order of things, for evolving the human race and bringing us to "higher spirituality"? These gentler thinkers do not explain why the creatures first traumatize victims with unpleasant interactions, then eventually lead the abductees to "love" them. According to this theory, the creatures' painful interference is really "good" for the human race, and abductees should go along with it because the creatures "know what is best for us."!

The data is overwhelming that unidentified, possible extraterrestrial, craft seem to be monitoring mankind. These demonstrably physical UFOs reported by credible witnesses constitute a serious scientific question which has regrettably been covered up by governments and ignored by official Science.

However, in my considered opinion, UFO phenomena can be separated into two separate groups:

Craft-like UFOs which are caught on radar, chased by jet pilots, and sometimes photographed, appear to be physical in our earth's space-time, but in these cases little or no interaction with any "occupants" is noted.

So-called "alien abductions", on the other hand, generally take place in altered states of consciousness and are retrieved in large part through hypnotic regression.

Claims of "genetic manipulation", "missing foetuses", "implants" and "alien-military co-operation" lack solid, scientific proof of extraterrestrial involvement, although I concede that some so-called "implants", "scars" and the like *might* be due to the creatures' ability to materialize temporarily into our space-time.

But the proliferation and escalation of abduction claims seem more likely caused by (1) telepathic leakage during hypnosis between witnesses and hypnotist/researchers; and (2) psychological deception by the phenomenon itself.

The logical question to all this is: Why is the trauma necessary? If these creatures are really "in charge of us" why don't they approach us with kind logic from the beginning? Another logical question: As an American, I have to ask: Whatever happened to our individual rights of self-determination and liberty?

The same question can be logically asked by citizens of many other countries. To me, both theories in the UFO field outlined above consider these creatures to be "in charge of us".

This idea contradicts the principles of freedom of the individual. It flies in the face of the American "Declaration of Independence", the English "Magna Carta", the French Revolution and every other instance in which a nation of free-thinking peoples have emerged from rag-tag armies of revolutionaries or serfs.

If any reader thinks I am emphasizing "human rights" too much, consider this: Police detectives who investigate horrible cases of rape, for example, do not think of our "inalienable rights." They are simply outraged by the immoral act that has been perpetrated upon the victims.

Alien abduction scenarios are basically the same as rape and other criminal attacks. The fact that they take place in an altered state of consciousness does not matter here. Abduction scenarios are very real to the experiencers; they constitute a type of *altered reality*, the effects of which extends into their physical lives.

The nine resistance techniques described in HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF… enable traumatized experiencers to break the altered state of consciousness in which abduction scenarios occur. Once the altered state is broken and the person returns to full waking consciousness, the creatures vanish and the scenario ends.

My book gives multiple examples of actual documented case studies which illustrate in detail the way in which the techniques are used successfully, and it also describes the psychological concepts and personality traits which seem to be involved in successful resistance.

I might gratefully add that Dr. Edgar J. Mitchell, U.S. astronaut and sixth man to walk on the Moon, endorses my book on the cover thus: "This is a very powerful book because it shows the deep psychological component of the UFO experience. Druffels' research does us all a great service." As the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of THE WAY OF THE EXPLORER, Dr. Mitchell's statement was gratefully received.

HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION also presents a working hypothesis to explain why resistance techniques work so well against entities which present themselves as technologically superior extra-extraterrestrials. The hypothesis is this:

Abductees are possibly interacting with interdimensional beings which have been described in philosophical, historical and regligious writings, and in folklore and legend, from every major culture of the world and in minor cultures as well.

These beings reportedly delight in harrassing and deceiving human beings, often in a sexual manner. Specific examples are the "jinns" described in the Koran, the Celtic "Sidhe" or "faery folk", the "incubi" of Europe, the "Old Hag" in Newfoundland and the "elementals" in Buddhist cultures.

They are also known by many other names in many different languages. They are described in Malaysia and Indonesia, in Iceland, by the aboriginals of Australia and by various Native American tribes. Because these beings reportedly have the ability to shapeshift, it is surmised that they have now taken on a form which would logically frighten even modern, technically-advanced human beings.

The creatures reported in folklore and legends, *as well as in present-day accounts*, have at least eight characteristics in common with our so-called "UFO alien abductors". All of them reportedly:-

1. Materialize and de-materialize;
2. Harass human beings, frequently in a sexual manner;
3. Reportedly "steal" human babies and/or unborn foetuses;
4. Distort the witnesses' perception of time;
5. Pass through solid matter;
6. Enter temporarily into Earth space-time, sometimes leaving physical traces;
7. Shape-shift into various forms and sizes including, at times, animals;
8. Exist normally on what is described as a "hidden plane" which co-exists alongside our normal earthly space-time.

All these world cultures have developed means to resist these creatures, and many of their techniques are similar to the techniques used by the seventy-two (72) resisters described in my book. So why shouldn't abductees in modern cultures be able to fend them off as well? The answer? -They can, and they do.

It is crucial that adequate attention be given to the concept of successful resistance. "Resisters" are able to live happy, productive lives, free of the trauma and other negative effects caused by their prior experiences.

The concept of resistance is spreading: Several research sources are speaking about it on the Internet, and letters from a few researchers who have begun to teach resistance techniques to abductees are passing over my desk. I would hope that a continuing dialogue on the subject will be started in FLYING SAUCER REVIEW to counteract the silence of the few colleagues aforementioned.

HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION gives detailed case examples and practical pointers to persons experiencing abduction trauma and lets them know that they are not helpless victims. Free people around the world should not have to feel that they are victims of anyone or anything.

Human beings are neither: (1) victims being taken over against their will; nor (2) frail creatures who need help in being evolved.

Human beings everywhere can, with bold assurance, fight against anything we need to fight against, and win!

Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Electromagnetic Pollution

Why do people often have headaches and feel unwell when using a mobile phone or sitting at the computer?

All electrical appliances and electronic devices produce damaging electromagnetic fields (EMFs) or radiations, which we can't see or feel. These interfere with the body's own electromagnetic operating system thus causing stress. Headaches are signs indicating that the body is under stress. This stress, of course, can have many reasons. However, people often don't realise that it could be due to EMFs.

Mobile phones can be particularly damaging, because they are carried in close contact with the body and even the brain, whilst telephoning. Furthermore, the radiation emitted is of microwave frequency, which more and more research is showing to be particularly damaging to human health.

Computer monitors have cathode ray tubes in them, which actually emit a "cocktail" of frequencies ranging from extremely low to X-rays. The real danger here is from long term exposure, i.e. people working several hours a day at the computer.

At CIR, we have realised that shielding from these fields and radiations is impractical because they are everywhere around us and very difficult to block entirely. We have therefore adopted the approach of counteracting these damaging radiations by strengthening beneficial energy within us and our near environment. Our products are thereby reducing the effects of interference, i.e. they are reducing electromagnetic stress.

Independent scientific tests on human lymphocytes (type of white blood cell) carried out at the Coghill Laboratories in Wales have confirmed that our Mobile Phone Harmoniser has a significantly protective effect against exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiations from mobile phones.

You can find out about our products by clicking in View Products. In The Press you will find selected articles from the national press about the dangers of mobile phone radiation.

This web site is hosted on a secure server, so you may safely leave your credit card details on our order form if you wish to place an order.

Thank you for your visit!

Dolly Knight & Jonathan Stromberg
Centre for Implosion Research


Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Hotline message re: AVMA Guidelines

Dear Fellow Skeptics,

I thought some of you might still be unaware of the fact that, after nearly three years of effort, we've won a substantial victory for the cause of science and reason in veterinary healthcare. The new and much-revised "proposed" 2001 AVMA Guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine have now been posted to the AVMA Website at: http://www.avma.org/compaltmed.asp (or http://www.avma.org), but will remain available on line only until January 31, 2001. Veterinary practitioners AND members of the general public have been invited to comment on them.

The 1996 Comp and Alt Vet Med Guidelines they will supercede are available on line at http://www.seanet.com/~vettf/Guidelines.htm. As you can see, the '96 Guidelines were, to say the least, "highly promotional." They include such inane comments as:

"Veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are now considered an integral part of veterinary medicine."

"[S]ufficient research exists documenting efficacy of chiropractic in humans..."

"Sufficient clinical and anecdotal evidence exists to indicate that veterinary chiropractic can be beneficial."

"Clinical and anecdotal evidence exists to indicate that veterinary homeopathy may be beneficial."

"[H]olistic veterinary medicine incorporates, but is not limited to, the principles of acupuncture and acutherapy, botanical medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, nutraceuticals, and physical therapy..."

Worse still, the document, which is intended to "guide" veterinarians in their consideration of "complementary and alternative" therapies, fails to mention the word "science" even once.

To the contrary, the "proposed 2001 CAVM Guidelines" eliminate the promotional gobbledygook and put the emphasis where it belongs: on science.

Not only do these new guidelines constitute a major victory for proponents of medical rationalism, I believe they also constitute an extremely important "first." So far as I'm aware, to date there have been no analogous "showdowns" between proponents of science-based medicine and "everything-else-based medicine" at the level of a national medical professional association -- in the U.S., or for that matter, anywhere else in the world. Certainly there has been no similar confrontation within the AMA (American Medical Association), ADA (American Dental Association) or the ANA (American Nurses Association). I hope and expect that our successful efforts to induce the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) to courageously and proactively identify and address the issues attendant to unproven and disproved medical therapies will eventually "boil over" into controversy among the other healthcare professional associations on a state, national, and even international basis.

Not surprisingly, the new guidelines are being received by alt vet med proponents with overt and extremely vocal hostility.

As I stated earlier, the AVMA has invited not only veterinarians, but also members of the general public, to submit written comments on the new "proposed" guidelines. Written comments postmarked by February 15, 2001 will be forwarded to the AVMA Alternative and Complementary Therapies Task Force for its consideration. (No e-mail or fax comments will be accepted. They will accept SNAIL-MAIL ONLY.) If you are concerned about either the recent propagation of unproven and disproved medical "alternatives" or the welfare of veterinary patients and clients, I urge you to mail your supportive comments to Dr. Craig A. Smith, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360. The AVMA needs to know that the public and the veterinary profession appreciate their courageous stand on these issues.

Thank you,

Robert Imrie, DVM
coordinator, NCRHI Veterinary Task Force

NCRHI Alt Med Advisory Page
http://www.seanet.com/~vettf/ http://www.ncahf.org/
The Entirely On-Line Alt Med Primer
The Alt Med Book Review Page


The Top Ten Silliest, Most Misleading Stories of the New Millennium

Go to http://www.stats.org/awards/dubious00.htm

Today's ghost stories are not ghoulish

Thanks to:
The Anomalist for the source of this story


Updated: Sunday, Jan. 28, 2001 at 19:21 CST

Paranormal Pursuit: Today's ghost stories are not ghoulish, they're spiritual explorations

By Jessie Milligan Star-Telegram Staff Writer Jessie Milligan, (817) 390-7738

Send comments to

Monday, January 29, 2001


Posted by Terry W. Colvin

Flying Saucer Review, Volume 45/3, Autumn 2000, pp. 14-18

"FLYING TRIANGLES" - WHY THEY MAY INDEED BE SUBJECT TO A "D" NOTICE. by Omar Fowler, Founder and President of Phenomenon Research Association, Derby, FSR Director and Consultant.

Foreword by Editor of FSR [Gordon Creighton]. [We heard talk last year and rumours that the British media, including the BBC, had received official instructions not to publish any reports about black triangular UFOs, and in due course I received from a long-established FSR reader, Larry Robson, of Stratford-upon-Avon, the following report. As it is useful background information, I am publishing the entire text of it as a prelude to what our Triangle expert Omar Fowler has to say about this matter!---

The Corner House           5(th) December 1999
Shottery Village
CV37 9HD

Dear Gordon,
I have located the original article from which *CAUS* derived their account. Source obviously is not reliable, but mention of Nick Pope does presumably lend some status?

U.K. Press Told Not To Report Black Triangle UFOs. UFO Magazine Says Media Got "D-Noticed" On Mystery Aircraft. [CNI News, thanks Ian Reid for the following text, which ran in the British magazine *UFO Reality*, issue No. 5.]

A top BBC executive let slip recently that there is a *D-Notice* on media-reporting of the so-called *"Black Triangle"*.

The executive, who cannot be named, is the former producer of a very popular BBC science programme. He told one of our team that the black triangle "craft", first witnessed by hundreds in the Hudson Valley region of the United States [(mid-1980's), then by thousands in Belgium (1989-90) and more in Britain], has been "heavily D-Noticed" by the Government. For this reason the BBC will not be reporting on the enigmatic craft, no matter how many witness reports they receive.

According to the former science programme producer, the reason the Government has seen fit to slap a restrictive notice on reporting of the Triangle is because -so far as the Government has secretly informed the BBC- the craft is part of a new secret military project, and as such must be protected under the secrecy laws.

If this is the case, however, it surely begs the question: If the so called Black Triangle is a secrety military aircraft, then what is it doing hovering over residential areas and frightening people half to death? Something somewhere simply does not add up.

[CNI News adds: As noted by Nick Pope in the previous article, it is very unlikely that the "Black Triangle" aircraft can be explained as a secret military project. Its technical capabilities and flight behaviour suggest it neither belongs to any earthly government nor falls within the envelope of human technology. Perhaps, then, the British media are actually being warned away from reporting on a fairly obvious example of "alien" craft intruding with impunity into British airspace.] (Original file name: *CNI - Flying Triangles*. This file was converted with TexToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.)

Subsequent articles appear at CAUS website:-

Flying Triangles Continue To Defy Identification. (*CAUS* thanks Morgan Clements (UFOREPORTS@aol.com), World Wide UFO Reporting Centre for this report.))

Massachusetts Triangles.
Brookfield, Mass. October 22, 1999.

"I was just walking home in the woods, behind where I live, from scouting deer for the upcoming hunting season. It was getting pretty dark, so I was in a hurry and got tired walking up the final hill. I stopped to take a quick breather at 7.30 pm, when all of a sudden one, then two, three, and then four Flying Triangle craft went right by me in the bottom of the small valley.

"They were totally silent and appeared to be sneaking through the valley. They were triangular in shape and about 75 feet long and as wide. There were no outside lights, but being so close to them I could tell there was lighting inside. I was scared!

"All of a sudden three large noisy planes came screaming by as if they were chasing the triangles. This is the second night I've seen these craft. I thought I saw two craft the week before, but they caught me off guard. I caught them going over the ridge, but was not quite sure what I'd seen."

CAUS thanks George A. Filer (Majorstar@aol.com); Filer's Files#43, 1999, for these reports:-

Florida Triangle With Blue Ionization Near Gulf Breeze Pensacola Beach.

On October 9, 1999, the witnesses were rod fishing in Pensacola Pass when a strangely configured craft came into view over Fort Pickens State Park at an altitude of 200ft at a quarter of a mile. The witnesses are an ex-USAF Security Policeman and a retired US Army chopper pilot, presently a city police officer.

The UFO was travelling west over the Gulf of Mexico in a zig-zag fashion at 7.57 pm. The craft flew slow, 100 to 300 knots, sliding south and back to north in a continuing forward motion. The craft moved in a Z-pattern, erratic with no sound. It seemed to be suspended in flight at various positions. The craft was silent with high intensity blue arcing lights that fluctuated around the entire craft. These lights resembled electrical charges coming off an alternator's brushes.

Further observation revealed three larger lights in a triangle configuration dimly lit with variable output glowing blue to pale yellow. The UFO appeared triangular in shape, but this might be a deception as skin structure could not be seen. The FM radio receiver suffered extreme static during the event.

The craft changed locations in split seconds covering distances of approximately half a mile to over two miles instantaneously. At least four times it hovered for 30 seconds with longest delay of about a minute and a half over the southwestern boundary of Pensacola Naval Air Station.

One aircraft was launched from Sherman Field about three minutes into event but, seemed unaware of the UFO and turned away in an easterly direction. When the UFO was first observed a trailing sound of a helicopter could be heard but never could be observed. The UFO left the area after fifteen minutes at 8.12 pm local time moving west along the coast.

One witness suffered from nausea for about 10 minutes but the other was fine. "I have never seen a conventional craft operate in this manner nor has my friend." Thanks to Peter Davenport, UFO Reporting Centre.

Pilots Spot Huge Flying Triangle.

Initial reports indicate an apparently very large triangle was seen by two commercial jets on October 26, 1999, over Western US. The planes were 100 miles from each other, and the object passed between them, and overtaking them, headed east.

Both pilots reported that the object was "huge". It was as big as their fists held at arm's length. Thanks to: Peter B. Davenport, Director National UFO Reporting Centre, PO Box 45623 University Station, Seattle, WA 98145 (director@ufocenter.com).

It has lately been reported in UFO circles, that a BBC executive recently let slip the fact that a D-Notice has been placed on the subject of "*Flying Triangle*" craft. This matter has been the subject of previous rumours and speculation for a number of years. However, before we all start screaming "Cover-up and Censorship!" let us examine some of the information that has come to hand in recent months.

As the result of sifting through UFO reports and information from confidential sources, I have concluded that it is extremely likely that Britain has been working, in great secrecy, on the development of a triangular Stealth aircraft. Small black triangular craft have been seen with accompanying conventional aircraft on a number of occasions and may be controlled by a 'parent' craft.

The Following Report Is Taken From The Wigan Reporter, Published In Mid-August 1996:

At 1.30 pm on Monday August 12, a number of people in the Wigan area heard a very noisy helicopter overhead. On rushing outside to look at the copter, they found that it was a *Chinook* twin rotor machine flying extremely low. It was following a small black matt triangular object about a quarter of a mile in front of it. The *Chinook* was moving very slowly and was followed about two minutes later by a *Jaguar* fighter that passed overhead as low as the copter - with its undercarriage down." (*In order to keep its speed as low as possible, no doubt!*)

A Confidential UFO Report That I Investigated In July 1997 Deepened The Mystery. The Incident Took Place Near Rugely, Staffs., At Night, Near The Home Of A Mr. 'N'.

Mr. 'N' was working late at night (approx. 1 am) in his home, which is situated near a heavily wooded area, when his attention was attracted by a noise "similar to a high-revving two-stroke engine" outside. He went outside in the darkness and vaguely made out lights and the shape of an object hovering about 150 yards away and at a height of about 150ft.

Mr. 'N' went indoors and fetched his binoculars and he was then able to make out the shape of a black helicopter in the vicinity of the lights. It so happened that Mr. 'N' was a bit of an electronics buff and had a night-vision-scope, with which he returned a few minutes later. (*Type Tasco, 1(st) generation type, with night scope and also infra-red beam emission*).

He then viewed the aircraft again and clearly saw the helicopter, which was illuminated by the flashing stroke and navigation lights. He described it as being similar to the "*Air Wolf*" helicopter in the television series. He then switched on the infra-red beam and immediately noticed that there was a completely blacked-out, triangular, craft adjacent to the helicopter. "I couldn't believe my eyes" he commented.

The triangle, which was a similar size to the helicopter, reflected no light from the strobe/navigation lights and appeared to have no visible means of propulsion or support in the hovering mode. The witnesses stated that there was no apparent noise coming from the triangular craft, although the helicopter may have drowned this out.

Almost instantaneously, the helicopter switched on alight beam towards the witness (blinding his equipment), while at the same time moving away "at an incredible rate of knots. It disappeared like a rocket.".

Mr. 'N' tried to follow it with his night-viewer, then suddenly realised that it was more important to study the triangular craft. He turned back to where it had been hovering, but it was gone! (*Mr. 'N' was sure that he had witnessed a secret aircraft and was petrified that he might be the subject of investigation if he related the incident to anyone. He eventually only mentioned it to two other close friends.*)

A Further Report Reached Me From "Skywatch International" At Spilsby, Lincs. This Concerned A Sighting By A Witness On The Night Of The 17(th) September, 1998. This Witness Said:

"I finished work at Louth at 10 pm and headed out on the B1502. It was 10.25 pm and I was about 4 miles past Ulceby Cross, when I saw something in the starry night sky that I thought looked a little odd. I saw what I believed to be two *Tornado* aircraft in company with a craft that, because of its lights, appeared to be of a triangle nature. On each point it had a bright green glow, rather than a green created by a light bulb.

The triangle completed flight manoeuvres that I had never seen before. As the two aircraft approached my car, the left aircraft tried to get ahead; the two aircraft passed over my car I looked up through my sunroof and noticed that the triangular craft was about three-quarters the size of the *Tornado* aircraft. I live near RAF Coningsby and I am familiar with *Tornado* aircraft."

Finally, On 15(th) August, 1997, I Received Some Information From A Confidant Who Revealed Details Of A Surprising Conversation At A Recent Aeronautical Show:

Source: "In absolute confidence please. I deal with aviation products, I do pilot supplies, satellite navigation equipment, I retail various products. We did an exhibition at Christmas, at 'XXXXXX'. This chappie came to see me and we are talking about aircraft. I gather that he is a civilian, in his sixties and ex-military, and he commented that he had flown a lot of aircraft, all sorts of aircraft. We were talking about aircraft and I sprang the question on him that I do with all sorts of people, '*do you believe in UFOs?*'

Source: "He said to me -'what do you mean?", I replied that we had heard of people that have had quite a few sightings of the Flying Triangle. 'Yes', he said 'Yes, I make them.' I said "How do you mean 'I make them'? "Well, let me put it this way' he said, 'we are actually making triangular-shaped craft in this country, but we are also aware of what we would call extra-terrestrial craft flying over this country.' He repeated, when questioned, 'We are aware that there are triangular craft flying over this country, that are not of this world!'

"At this, I moved him away from the other customers, as this was a private conversation. I said to him, 'do you mind me asking you one question, 'where are you located?' I said. 'I can't tell you that' he said. I said, 'I'll ask you one other question. What is the chance of me visiting your factory? 'Absolutely not,' he said 'We're not Top Secret, we're levels above Top Secret.' 'We have materials now, in this country, with which we could manufacture *stealth* aircraft that would be virtually undetectable.'

Source: 'Undetectable by what means, I don't know, visual, night vision, radar, I don't know.' He complained to me that quite frankly, 'there are too many so-and-sos in London sitting on their backsides, who are not releasing funds to us, but we have the technology to lead the world in *Stealth* aircraft'. Then he said, 'our aircraft are telemetrically controlled?' (*This would account for the widely reported 'parent' aircraft*).

Source: 'That is 100% the truth, but please don't mention my name. He seemed a very sincere fellow. I can't disclose his name for obvious reasons, but yes, that's what I was told.'"

In conclusion, we must accept that the placing of a "D-Notice" on the subject of Flying Triangles could well have taken place to guard the secret development of a British *Stealth* aircraft and not as the censorship of information on extra-terrestrial FTs. After all, which is the more important from the Government point of view?

(-and what could possibly have been more logical? A marvellous way for the Government to confuse the issue and strengthen the cover-up over the Alien Triangles! G.C.)

Science Stunned by Virgin of Guadalupe's Eyes - Engineer Sees a Reflection, Literally from 1531

Fron a bulletin board at

Culture/Society Front Page News Keywords: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Source: www.zenit.org
Published: January 14, 2001
Posted on 01/29/2001 18:07:31 PST

ROME, JAN. 14, 2001 (ZENIT.org)

Digital technology is giving new leads in understanding a phenomenon that continues to puzzle science: the mysterious eyes of the image of Virgin of Guadalupe.

The image, imprinted on the tilma of a 16th-century peasant, led millions of indigenous Indians in Mexico to convert to the Catholic faith. Last week in Rome, results of research into the famed image were discussed by engineer José Aste Tonsmann of the Mexican Center of Guadalupan Studies during a conference at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.

For over 20 years, this graduate of environmental systems engineering of Cornell University has studied the image of the Virgin left on the rough maguey fiber fabric of Juan Diego's tilma. What intrigued Tonsmann the most were the eyes of the Virgin.

Though the dimensions are microscopic, the iris and the pupils of the image's eyes have imprinted on them a highly detailed picture of at least 13 people, Tonsmann said. The same people are present in both the left and right eyes, in different proportions, as would happen when human eyes reflect the objects before them.

Tonsmann says he believes the reflection transmitted by the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the scene on Dec. 9, 1531, during which Juan Diego showed his tilma, with the image, to Bishop Juan de Zumárraga and others present in the room.

In his research, Tonsmann used a digital process used by satellites and space probes in transmitting visual information.

He insists that the image "that has not been painted by human hand." As early as the 18th century, scientists showed that it was impossible to paint such an image in a fabric of that texture. The "ayate" fibers used by the Indians, in fact, deteriorated after 20 years. Yet, the image and the fabric it is imprinted on have lasted almost 470 years ago.

Tonsmann pointed out that Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, has found that the image did not have natural, animal or mineral colorings. Given that there were no synthetic colorings in 1531, the image is inexplicable.

In 1979, Americans Philip Callahan and Jody B. Smith studied the image with infrared rays and discovered to their surprise that there was no trace of paint and that the fabric had not been treated with any kind of technique.

"[How] it is possible to explain this image and its consistency in time without colors, on a fabric that has not been treated?" Tonsmann asked. "[How] is it possible that, despite the fact there is no paint, the colors maintain their luminosity and brilliance?"

Tonsmann, a Peruvian engineer, added, "Callahan and Smith showed how the image changes in color slightly according to the angle of viewing, a phenomenon that is known by the word iridescence, a technique that cannot be reproduced with human hands."

The scientist began his study in 1979. He magnified the iris of the Virgin's eyes 2,500 times and, through mathematical and optical procedures, was able to identify all the people imprinted in the eyes.

The eyes reflect the witnesses of the Guadalupan miracle, the moment Juan Diego unfurled his tilma before the bishop, according to Tonsmann. In other words, the Virgin's eyes have the reflection that would have been imprinted in the eyes of any person in her position.

In the eyes, Tonsmann believes, it is possible to discern a seated Indian, who is looking up to the heavens; the profile of a balding, elderly man with a white beard, much like the portrait of Bishop Zumárraga, painted by Miguel Cabrera, to depict the miracle; and a younger man, in all probability interpreter Juan González.

Also present, Tonsmann believes, is an Indian, likely Juan Diego, of striking features, with a beard and mustache, who unfolds his own tilma before the bishop; a woman of dark complexion, possibly a Negro slave who was in the bishop's service; and a man with Spanish features who looks on pensively, stroking his beard with his hand.

In a word, the Virgin's eyes bear a kind of instant picture of what occurred at the moment the image was unveiled in front of the bishop, Tonsmann says.

Moreover, in the center of the pupils, on a much more reduced scale, another scene can be perceived, independent of the first, the scientist contends. It is that of an Indian family made up of a woman, a man and several children. In the right eye, other people who are standing appear behind the woman.

Tonsmann ventured to express why he believes the Virgin's eyes have a "hidden" message for modern times, when technology is able to discover it. "This could be the case of the picture of the family in the center of the Virgin's eye," he says, "at a time when the family is under serious attack in our modern world."

Crop Circles and UFO Angels at


Sunday, January 28, 2001



Magnetic 'solution' to crop circle puzzle


Research into the appearance of crop circles in summer fields claims the strange phenomena are caused by the Earth's magnetic field.

Scientist Colin Andrews says 17 years of work has revealed that about 80% of the formations are man-made.

But he believes that magnetism may account for the rest, which display a simplicity of form compared with elaborate, beautiful patterns of the "hoaxes".

Dr Andrews believes a mysterious shift in the magnetic field gives rise to a current that "electrocutes" the crops forcing them to lie flat on the ground.

Saturday, January 27, 2001

UFO closes Siberian airport


A Siberian airport closed down after staff said a UFO was hovering over the runway.

Pilots of planes trying to land and about to take off from the Barnaul airport also reported seeing the UFO.

The lighted object stayed for an hour-and-a-half before disappearing as suddenly as it had arrived, the Interfax news agency reports.

Last updated: 13:45 Saturday 27th January 2001


Copyright 2001 Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer
www.skeptic.com or
Permission granted to reprint or distribute without additional permission.
Thank you one and all for your many suggestions for topics and for offering to contribute entries. I have collected them all and am now going through andorganizing them. Those we will need I will be contacting you by e-mail shortly. If you do not hear from me then we either had that subject already covered or could not include it in this volume. I thank you again for your valuable input.
The Baloney Detector is now complete and will be going to the printer shortly and, thanks to your numerous and generous contributions, we will be mailing them out to the 12,000 professors. We also included the list of the recommended skeptical and scientific books you all provided, so for that I am also thankful to you.
Skeptic and e-Skeptic reader Max Davies () sent me a great idea for gathering valuable information from this e-Skeptic list. Max writes:
Your list of Skeptic's favorite books prompts me to make a suggestion to you: why not also compile a list of Skeptic's favorite quotations? I'd like to present two favorites from among many:

"Whereof Nothing can be said Thereof say nothing" --Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Plurality should not be assumed without necessity." (otherwise known as "don't invent in order to explain".) --William of Occam

There are oceans of pithy, concise quotations that explain and support the Skeptic's position. You'd be doing our movement a service by gathering them together.
Agreed Max, and we shall do so.


I shall gather them together and post them all to the e-Skeptic list, publish them in Skeptic, and post them at our web page at www.skeptic.com

I use a lot of such quotes as epigrams in my books, so to get the ball rolling, here's a couple of my favorites:

1. What I call Hume's Maxim (Hume himself calls it a maxim and puts his own words in quotes!) from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1758:

"The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), 'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.'"

2. What I call Darwin's Dictim (the dictim part is the final sentence) from a letter he wrote to a friend on September 18, 1861, reflecting on geological debates:

"About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize; and I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!"

Using Pseudoscience as an Aid to Teaching General and Analytical Chemistry

Michael Epstein, Margaret Bullard, Brad Buehler, and Robin Kloster
Department of Science, Mount Saint Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Md 21727


Why pseudoscience? Most students view the traditional topics of general chemistry as dry and boring. The standard highlights in general chemistry books on how household bleach or dry cell batteries work are not very exciting for students or instructors. There is also rarely any ethics training associated with introductory courses in the chemical sciences. In an attempt to resolve these deficiencies, I introduced the concepts of pseudoscience and the investigation of anomalies into the curriculum of second-semester general and analytical chemistry courses at Mount Saint Mary's College during the spring semester of 1996. While the investigation of the unusual and the unknown has sometimes led to great scientific discoveries, it has more often led to great embarrassments. The appearance of scientific anomalies most often results from a misunderstanding of scientific principles, and culminates in what is termed "pseudoscience", "pathological science", or "deviant science". A study of the experimental procedures and motivation of the researchers in cases of pseudoscience can be extremely instructive, and fits in quite well with traditional topics in general and analytical chemistry, such as pH, chemical kinetics, intermolecular bonding, colligative properties, atomic structure, electrolysis and trace element analysis. Students can learn how to properly approach a scientific problem in a critical, but open-minded manner, thus avoiding pseudoscientific pitfalls. They learn that the real scientific discovery is not heralded by the cry "Eureka!" (and the press conference), but by the murmur "that's strange?" Here is science at work, for both good and bad, with a strong moral and scientific message. Scientists are people and people make mistakes. What separates the scientists from the pseudoscientists is the ability to recognize and admit error.

While the examples of pseudoscience are a very small portion of these traditional courses in general and analytical chemistry, they will undoubtedly be some of the most memorable particulars that the students recall in future years. And if the examination of scientific foibles by these students helps to avoid future cases of pathological science on their part, we have gained much with little investment.


It's Elementary

Periodic table got you down? Well, Spunky, here's help:


TWA 800 The Legend Lives on

But, in the final analysis, the truth does matter. See

Friday, January 26, 2001

Interested in more "water stupidity"?

From Keith McCall

Hi. Since your piece on Clustered Water, I've been getting a few more hits on my page. Anyway, one of the people who looked at my page was kinda ticked off and wrote me about it. I wrote back and found that he was a believer in homeopathy. He directed me to an artical on homeopathy that was, um, interesting. I put the full text of "Beyond Substance" on line along with my commentary on it at:


It's quite a work of pseudoscience. I thought you might be interested.





Loren Coleman is one of the world's leading cryptozoologists. An honorary member of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, and several other international organizations, he is also a Life Member of the International Society of Cryptozoology.

Coleman has written books and more than two hundred articles on the subject, has appeared frequently on radio and television programs, and has lectured from Idaho to Loch Ness. He has been both on- and off-camera consultant to NBC-TV's "Unsolved Mysteries," A & E's "Ancient Mysteries" "In Search of History," Discovery Channel's "In the Unknown, " and other reality-based programs. He contributes cryptozoology columns, "On the Trail," to the London-based magazine Fortean Times, and "Mysterious World" to Fate, as well as occasional articles to The Anomalist and Fortean Studies. In 2000, he served as the Senior Series Consultant to the new "In Search Of..." program which is scheduled for broadcast on Fox and USA Network sometime in 2001 or 2002.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Biologists uncover Darwin's 'missing evidence' for divergence of species in a warbler's song

Contact: Darren Irwin

University of California, San Diego


Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated, in a study of the songs and genetics of a series of interbreeding populations of warblers in central Asia, how one species can diverge into two.

Their description of the intermediate forms of two reproductively isolated populations of songbirds that no longer interbreed is the "missing evidence" that Darwin had hoped to use to support his theory of natural selection, but was never able to find.

"One of the largest mysteries remaining in evolutionary biology is exactly how one species can gradually diverge into two," says Darren E. Irwin, a biologist at UCSD who headed the study, detailed in the January 18 issue of the journal Nature. "This process, known as speciation, is very difficult to study because it can take a great deal of time to occur."

Biologists have generally learned about the divergence of species by comparing many different species at various stages of speciation. But in their study of the greenish warbler, a songbird that breeds in forests throughout much of temperate Asia, Irwin and his colleagues—Trevor D. Price, a biology professor at UCSD, and Staffan Bensch, a former postdoctoral student at UCSD now at Sweden's Lund

University—discovered a rare situation known to biologists as a "ring species.""Ring species are unique because they present all levels of variation, from small differences between neighboring populations to species-level differences, in a single group of organisms," says Irwin, a former student of Price who is in the process of beginning his postdoctoral work with Bensch at Lund University.

In the case of the greenish warbler, Phylloscopus trochiloides, the scientists discovered a continuous ring of populations with gradually changing behavioral and genetic characteristics encircling the Tibetan Plateau, which is treeless and uninhabitable. This ring is broken by a species boundary at only one place, in central Siberia, where two forms of the songbird coexist without interbreeding.

"This creates a paradox in which the two co-existing forms can be considered as two species and as a single species at the same time," says Irwin. "Such ring species are extremely rare, but they are valuable because they can show all of the intermediate steps that occurred during the divergence of one species into two."

In their paper, the scientists show how they discovered a gradual variation in the song patterns, morphology and genetic markers of 15 populations of the greenish warbler. At each end of the ring of interbreeding populations, which extend around each side of the Tibetan plateau and through the Himalayas, the scientists found that the two distinct, non-interbreeding forms of the bird do not recognize each other's songs, which are critical in the selection of their mates. They determined this from experiments in which they played recordings of male greenish warbler songs and judged the response of other birds in the trees."In the greenish warbler, as in most songbirds, males sing to attract mates and to defend territories," says Irwin. "The greenish warblers living in the Himalayas sing songs that are simple, short and repetitive. As you go north along the western side of Tibet, moving through central Asia, the songs gradually become longer and more complex. On the eastern side of the ring, moving northwards through China, songs also become longer and more complex, but the structure is different than on the western side. Where the birds meet in Siberia, their songs are so different that they do not recognize each other as mates or competitors. They act like separate species, and the genetic evidence supports that conclusion.

"Apparently, as the birds moved north along two pathways into the forests of Siberia, their songs became longer and more complex, perhaps because females in the north rely more strongly on song when choosing a mate. But the forms of complexity differed between west and east Siberia, because there are more ways to be complex than simple.

"The greenish warbler is the first case in which we can see all the steps that occurred in the behavioral divergence of two species from their common ancestor. These results demonstrate how small evolutionary changes can lead to the differences that cause reproductive isolation between species, just as Darwin envisioned."

The study was financed in part by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society.

The Week in Science: The Fires of Creation

The New York Times January 23, 2001


The fires of creation, in one aspect or another, were the theme of this week's scientific news.

Astronomers have devised a pretty theory to explain the creation of planets, based on the one planetary system they knew of. But there are risks in based a theory on a single example. Since 1995, more than 50 planets have been discovered around distant stars, and they don't conform to the rules astronomers had set for them. Gas giant planets like Jupiter are meant to be found far away from their sun, but many of the new planets are super-Jupiter's in close orbit to their sun. Planets were thought to follow neat, almost circular orbits like those in the solar system, but the new planets fly in highly eccentric orbits. The wealth of new data has driven the planetary astronomers back to the drawing board.


Fact is, science is skepticism

From The Boston Globe

By Chet Raymo, 1/23/2001

Astonishing fact Number 1: The universe began billions of years ago in an
explosion from an infinitely small, infinitely hot seed of energy. The Big Bang.


Consumer Health Digest Archive

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It will summarize scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; other news items; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; research tips; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making. The Digest currently has 460 subscribers.


Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Weight loss guru

He is not an academic, but he brought scientists from around the world to Brighton to discuss some of the weirdest ideas in modern physics. James Meek meets Graham Ennis, the man who believes it is possible to defy gravity.


Tuesday, January 23, 2001

UFO's Powered by Free Energy


In a 1988 experiment, a proprietary solid-state vacuum triode amplifier developed by the late Floyd Sweet continuously discharged 1,200,000 times more electrical power than was fed into it. It also exhibited anti-gravity properties. It is but one of many such "over-unity" (or "negative resistor") devices never to see mass development. The technology for extracting free energy from the vacuum has been well understood by special interests for around a century, and this is what powers ET craft. The suppression and weaponization of this knowledge and its associated technologies, essential for civilization's enlightened advancement, is the root cause of the secrecy, lies and disinformation about the UFO subject.

but this is nothing new...............

In 1931, Nikola Tesla (the developer of alternating current) demonstrated a specially modified Pierce-Arrow car powered solely by free-energy from the vacuum.

Monday, January 22, 2001

Darwin Day

No. Not the Darwin awards. Darwin's 192nd birthday.

When was Charles Darwin born? Hint: Same day as Abraham Lincoln.


Dear CSICOP List Reader,

Following is information on how you can help celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

For more information contact: Program Director Amanda Chesworth at

Next month will mark the 192nd anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. For over a decade now, several groups throughout the US have been holding events of one kind or another to celebrate. Recently a Darwin Day program was developed to provide a central location for these efforts and to take the celebrations to national, if not international levels. The by-line for the program is an International Celebration of Science and Humanity. The main focus of the program will be the promotion of science rather than the defense of evolution against creationism. Several exciting projects have begun, including a membership club entitled Darwin's Bulldogs, in recognition of Thomas Henry Huxley and several contests with great prizes. Another exciting project is to organize a huge celebration at Down House for the year 2009 - the bicentennial of Darwin's birth. Program Directors are already in touch with Richard Dawkins and the Charles Darwin Trust Fund to make this happen. A line of merchandise is being produced and you can email Program Director Amanda Chesworth at to get your free postcard, professionally designed by Dave Feroe. Also use this email to request more information about the Darwin Day Program. The website is being updated regularly with a variety of resources, information and worthwhile projects. Visit www.darwinday.org to show your support and get involved!

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Saturday,January 20,2001




STRANGE but true: the "psychics" of the supermarket tabloids are rarely right!

We're not talking about the dogged dirt-diggers at the National Enquirer, who broke the Rev. Jesse Jackson "love child" bombshell. Nor do we mean the ones at Star, who were first to report that Kim Basinger would divorce Alec Baldwin.

No, we're talking about the so-called soothsayers who make their far-fetched predictions in the less dependable checkout-counter weeklies.

Eugene Emery, who has scrupulously researched tabloid psychics since 1979, supplied PAGE SIX with a laugh-out-loud list of recent prognostications.

Last year alone, the National Examiner made these faulty forecasts:

* Katie Couric will marry a prince and move to Saudi Arabia.

* Hillary Clinton will be charged with murder. The jury will find her not guilty.

* Martha Stewart "will develop a temporary but bizarre Tourette's Syndrome-like condition that will cause her to swear uncontrollably and gobble food like a slob."

And "Mystic Meg" from the Globe, owned by the same company that publishes the Enquirer and Star, penned these whoppers:

* Jerry Springer will become a crusading Jew for Jesus after hearing a poignant Billy Graham sermon.

* Caroline Kennedy declares she'll run for Congress in New York.

* Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman will do a smash hit remake of "Cinderella."

Even legitimate papers can get a bit giddy. The Toronto Sun gave space to Anthony Carr, "the world's most documented psychic," who prophesied that:

* Christopher Reeve "will rise from his chair and perambulate."

* Gore Vidal "will be found dead in a suspicious menage a trois."

Emery, a reporter for the Providence, R.I. Journal, sniffs, "If these psychics were baseball players, they would have been sent to the showers long ago."

The psychic-debunker admits it isn't easy to see into the future. "If I told you in 1997 that Bill Clinton would be impeached for receiving oral sex from an intern in the Oval Office, you'd laugh at me," Emery says. "You never know what's going to happen."

Emery says the tabs have held back on predictions for 2001. "Maybe they're getting tired of this stuff," he said.


Mystery cross appears in bathroom window To the faithful, it is a sign of the coming age of miracles and to sceptics, it's just an illusion. To Kevin and Pam Butler, of Baringhup, Australia, it's a mystery.

Kevin was taking a shower when he first saw the image of a cross, perfectly formed and radiant in the frosted glass window of the bathroom. "Pam, come here and have a look at this!" he called, and together they stood, dumbstruck.

It was there again the next day. And it hasn't gone away since; every time a light is turned on, the cross is just there. "We were scared," says Mrs Butler. "We thought people would think we were crazy."

For six weeks, they said nothing. Eventually, though, they did. And since then a swelling trickle of spiritual seekers and the merely curious have been turning up at their modest home in the central Victorian hamlet to witness the phenomenon. Some fall to their knees. Some cry. Many hail it as an omen of wondrous things to come. It is tempting to dismiss the image as an illusion created by the refraction of light on frosted glass, as two prominent members of the Australian Skeptics who visited Baringhup last week immediately did.

What is perhaps more difficult to explain is the fact that the Butlers are not alone.

As a trawl through the internet quickly reveals, "crosses of light" have been appearing in frosted-glass windows all over the world since 1988.

There are literally dozens of them, from New Zealand to Bosnia. And they all look just like the Butler's. The Skeptics say - same glass, same effect. Many others, though, believe these crosses are the harbinger of a new messiah and a new age.

Sunday, January 21, 2001


A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics.

From John Baez at

Saturday, January 20, 2001

Chupacabra coverup update

Posted by Terry Colvin

Interesting. So now the same agency responsible for warning witnesses into silence in Chile over Chupacabras is now offering locals undisclosed sums for mutilated cattle corpses? Is this the same black ops team operating under cover of the white 'NASA' vans previously reported in Puerto Rico?

The evidence of government, quasi-government or military special ops groups monitoring ET (or earth-based, genetically (back-?_)engineered creatures??) that feed on, remove blood samples from, or excise digestive, reproductive organs, etc., from various livestock, continues to mount. Unusual animal mutilation events involving tiny holes drilled into the skull, decapitation, etc., have also been documented in the UK, in both mammalian and bird species. Like their counterparts in the UK, these incidents never reach the mainstream press. A documentary on the UK animal mutilations was scheduled for ITV a couple of years ago, and it quietly got 'shelved.'; rather like the fascinating 'Sightings' documentary on Cable, which, after all the reports of a new forthcoming series, similarly disappeared from sight with little fanfare. Was this due to a quiet 'word in the producer's ear', as I have been told? the familiar 'quiet word', over a congenial dinner, perhaps, of the masonic 'old boy' network??

I reiterate my previous statements; it's time for the lies, coverups and disinformation to cease, and a new policy, both here and in the United States, must christen the new millenium - the difficult, embarrassing for some, perhaps, but inevitable task of educating the public about our 'visitors', and government knowledge of same. Failure to do so will result in long-term division in society between the so-called 'elite' self-appointed guardians of this knowledge, and us, the people. It will foster a mistrust of government that will last many decades, and have untold repercussions for the development of society as a whole, intellectual freedom, and spiritual development; it will result in the development of a society that has no awareness or understanding of the greater galactic, indeed, universal community of which we are a part - and which is our ultimate destiny.

The continued lack of truthfulness and communication on these vitally important issues for must cease, if we are to face the future together.



"Peasants affected by the animal deaths attributed to the Chupacabras have been visited in past weeks by 'unidentified agencies' willing to purchase their silence."

"The Chupacabras continue to cause unexplained phenomena and 'backlashes' among the populations of the various rural sections of Calama," a city in northern Chile which has been host to many UFO and Chupacabra sightings recently.

"One Internet website" in Chile "discovered the fact that 'a mysterious agency' is offering money in exchange for silence."

"The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said several strange noises have been heard on their rooftops during the course of past evenings, , aside from the sense of fear conveyed by these incidents."

"They revealed that the lack of street lights in certain areas makes the situation all the more disturbing. Dogs whine when they begin to hear footsteps on the roof, and a strong smell of decay can be perceived throughout the entire day."

"The peasants noted that they have again started to lose animalism but claim having received money to keep quiet, especially about missing cattle, to avoid any public disturbance."

"Furthermore, some of the affected farmers claim to have received cash from 'unidentified agencies' willing to 'pay' them a certain amount for such animals but in exchange for their silence. Some are told that that it's a loan they can use to acquire new cattle; and others are told that they can use it as they please, provided they don't report these events." (See the Chilean newspaper La Estrella de Calama for January 6, 2001, "Agency offers money in exchange for silence on Chupacabras." Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales, autor de los libros Chupacabras and Other Mysteries y Forbidden Mexico, a tambien Gloria Coluchi para eso articulo de diario.)

mini-AIR January 2001

mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")
Issue Number 2001-01
January, 2001
ISSN 1076-500X
Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR

A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in the
Annals of Improbable Research (AIR),
the journal of inflated research and personalities

2001-01-02 mini Housekeeping
2001-01-03 What's New in the Magazine
2001-01-04 Renaissance Researcher of the Month
2001-01-05 Good Coffee Survey Results (1)
2001-01-06 International Gas Results
2001-01-07 The Young Turk: Mystery Solved
2001-01-08 Crystal Correctness Survey
2001-01-09 Textbook Survey
2001-01-10 What Now? (Spam Gnawing)
2001-01-11 Nothing But Nothing
2001-01-12 The Y2K Anti-Nostalgist
2001-01-13 Cavalcade of HotAIR: Wife, Toilet Victim, etc.
2001-01-14 The Temptations
2001-01-15 70 Lab Coats and a Strapless Evening Dress
2001-01-16 Project AIRhead 2000: Flow Aid
2001-01-17 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Fowl, Cheating, and Music
2001-01-18 AIRhead Events
2001-01-19 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)
2001-01-20 Our Address (*)
2001-01-21 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)
2001-01-22 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

mini-AIR is a free monthly *e-supplement* to AIR, the print magazine

2001-01-02 mini Housekeeping

There will be AIR shows in:
Rochester, NY on Jan 24
Stanford / San Francisco / Berkeley on Feb 14, 16, 19, 20

For details, see section 2001-01-18 below.

2001-01-03 What's New in the Magazine

AIR 7:1 (Jan/Feb 2001) is the special IG NOBEL PRIZE issue, chock full of fulsome coverage of the recent Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

Special versions of many of the articles will be cropping up on the AIR web site during the next few weeks.

A sampling of what's in the magazine:

See the cover and full table of contents, and several of the articles posted any day now at

(What you are reading at this moment is mini-AIR, a monthly e-mail small supplement to the print magazine.)

2001-01-04 Renaissance Researcher of the Month

This month's Renaissance Researcher of the Month is Goronwy Tudor Jones of the University of Birmingham School of Continuing Studies. Jones' research interests, as listed on the school home page, are:

1. An Introduction to Restricted Welsh Poetic Forms

2. Analysis of Bubble-Chamber Picture -- Estimate of Mass of Positron

Details of both are at

2001-01-05 Good Coffee Survey Results (1)

Our Scientific correctness survey #402, which asked "Scientifically speaking, what makes a good cup of coffee?," is starting to pay dividends. Here are a few of the more savory responses:

I have found that inserting coffee grounds into hot water and filtering the suspension into a china receptacle to be a good starting point.
--Martyn Bull

The perfect cup of Science Coffee begins with a solution of C8H10N4O2 in plenty of H2O. I like mine with bovine exudate, but without added glucose. It should have a specific gravity and viscosity somewhat greater than that of pure water and substantially less than that of warm peanut butter. It should be served at an approximate temperature of 360 K. Everything else is guesswork.
--Susan Way

Relatively speaking, a good cup of coffee is any cup of coffee made outside the USA. And could you use your undoubtedly vast influence to get Starbucks out of Australia? Thanks.
--Ian Sanderson

More next time.

2001-01-06 International Gas Results

Last month's auxiliary survey asked two questions concerning French President Chirac's observation that "Each American produces three times as much greenhouse gases as a Frenchman."

The survey results show that:

1. 54% of respondents say that President Chirac is correct about the gassiness of the average American.

2. Only 12% of respondents say that, President Chirac's observation will, directly or indirectly, create an international gas-fired conflagration.

2001-01-07 The Young Turk: Mystery Solved

The mystery of which Turk is the Young Turk is solved (thanks in part to investigator Collier N. Smith). The puzzle, posed last month, concerned the landmark research paper:

"Structural and Functional Aspects of Papain-Like Cysteine Proteinases And Their Protein Inhibitors," B. Turk, V. Turk, and D. Turk, Biological Chemistry, vol. 378, nos. 3-4, March-April 1997, pp. 141-50.

The solution arrived in message form:

Dear Investigators,
I will try to help you in your detective investigation -- among the 3 Turks is the youngest Boris Turk and the oldest Vito Turk - the third one is for your investigation. I wish you a lot of success in your further investigations.

Expecting correct final result,
Sincerely yours
Professor Dr. Vito TURK
J. Stefan Institute
Jamova 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana

2001-01-08 Crystal Correctness Survey

This month's Scientific Correctness Survey (#605) was inspired by a January 14, 2001 Associated Press news report that began as follows:

Twelve of the most popular science textbooks used at middle schools nationwide are riddled with errors, a new study has found. Researchers compiled 500 pages of errors, ranging from maps depicting the equator passing through the southern United States to a photo of singer Linda Ronstadt labeled as a silicon crystal.
Now please answer our survey question:
In your professional assessment, should singer Linda Ronstadt be labeled as a silicon crystal? (YES/NO)
Please send your response to CRYSTAL CORRECTNESS SURVEY c/o

2001-01-09 Textbook Survey

The survey was led by physicist John Hubisz of North Carolina State University. Hubisz is president of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

The AP news report can be read online at http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/01/14/textbookerrors.ap/index.html

It inspires a second AIR survey question. The report says that:

The study's reviewers tried to contact textbook authors with questions, Hubisz said, but in many cases the people listed said they didn't write the book, and some didn't even know their names had been listed. Some of the authors of a physical science book, for example, were biologists.
Our question Number Two is this:
Should textbooks be used in science classes? (YES/NO)

If your answer is NO, feel free to suggest what specific books or other materials should be used instead of textbooks.

Please send your response to TEXTBOOK BROUHAHA c/o

2001-01-10 What Now? (Spam Gnawing)

From time to time we try to update you on the continuing activities of various past winners of the Ig Nobel Prize. This is another of those times.

Thanks to investigator and V-Chip Monitor William J. Maloney, we now know that the utilizers of Spam, who collectively won the 1992 Ig Nobel nutrition Prize for their more than half century of undiscriminating digestion, have, some of them anyway, been experimenting anew.

The object of their ingestion: Spam Oven Roasted Turkey. Details, for the non-faint of stomach, can be seen at http://www.spam.com/sp/sp_ort.htm

2001-01-12 The Y2K Anti-Nostalgist

Last month's mini-AIR mentioned that we've been receiving letters from people who miss the excitement of the Y2K watch. This week we heard from a therapist who specializes in millennial disorders. He asked that we desist from mentioning the subject, which, he gives us to understand, can cause discomfort, pain, and bloating to those who care.

We apologize to any of our readers who suffer from Y2K pain and/or bloating.

The topic will not be mentioned here again.

2001-01-13 Cavalcade of HotAIR: Wife, Toilet Victim, etc.

Here are concise, incomplete, flighty mentions of some of the features we've posted on HotAIR since last month's mini-AIR came out. You can get to all of them by clicking on "WHAT'S NEW" at the web site, or by going to:

UPDATE UPDATE: Celebrity Nutritionist -- an update on our recent update on Celebrity Nutritionist Don Lemmon and an attractive client who is not his attractive wife and who is no longer pictured due to request from said attractive wife

RE-DISCOVERY -- The Essence of a Sniff. The article that originally appeared in the magazine. Describes what may be a revolutionary understanding of how we smell.

ECCENTRICS -- Full and/or not-so-full versions of articles that appeared in the magazine's special ECCENTRICS issue. Reports concern CHARLES WATERTON, EDWARD D. COPE, FRANK "BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE AND READY TO EAT" BUCKLAND, CHONOSUKE OKAMURA, and LEN X. FINEGOLD.

HAROLD W. DOWD (with a "w," not a "u") comments on the subject of eccentrics.

TOILET COLLAPSE VICTIM -- A letter we received from a gentleman who believes he may be one of the victims described in the Ig Nobel Prize-winning medical report, "The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow"

ASK SYMMETRA -- Our scientist/supermodel advice columnist solves the problem of being unbearably stacked.

BRAIN FOOD PHOTOS -- photos from the premiere performance of "The Brain Food Opera"


2001-01-14 The Temptations

Is the most important social science experiment of our time -- the Temptation Island experiment -- in compliance with professional standards for the Protection of Human Subjects? Investigator Yuri Ostrovsky alerted us to a possible violation of regulations.

The Temptation Island experiment's published protocol is an exemplar of brevity and clarity:

[F]our unmarried couples travel to the Caribbean to test and explore the strength of their relationship. Once on the island, the couples are introduced to eligible singles and then separated from their partners until the final day of their stay. Over this period, each couple will get the opportunity to answer questions about themselves and one another, and find out if what they think they want is actually what they do want.
See http://www.fox.com/temptation/ for further details of the experiment.

The pertinent federal regulations concerning Protection of Human Research Subjects can be found at

Investigator Ostrovsky draws our attention (and yours) in particular to the oversight responsibilities of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). [See
for a basic review of IRB functions and operations.]

Investigator Ostrovsky further directs us to review the duties charged to the Ethical Advisory Board. [See
for an elaboration of same.]

The Temptation Island experiment is a lesson for the scientifically inclined student youths of today. Our future will be entrusted to these incipient scientists, and for that reason if none other, we had all best ensure that they see research conducted in approved fashion, with all the i's crossed and the t's dotted.

Join us, please, in sending word to the Temptation Island experimenters that IRBs must be the keystone to their activities.

They can be contacted via

2001-01-15 70 Lab Coats and a Strapless Evening Dress

If you can provide 70 lab coats (and/or 70 pair of safety goggles) on the evening of February 10, you can make science history. They are needed for the world premiere of Deborah Henson-Conant's full orchestral version of "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress. For details see

2001-01-16 Project AIRhead 2000: Flow Aid

ITEM 020202 (submitted by investigator Frank J. Nice) SEPTIC HELPER 2000, details of which can be gleaned at

ITEM 995205 (submitted by investigator Enko O. Vertlin)
TECHNOLOGY EXPLOSION 2000, a newsletter that imploded in 1999. Back issues, which are the only kind there are, can be found at

2001-01-17 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Fowl, Cheating, and Music

Here is a further selection of items that merit a trip to the library.

"Electroencephalographic Study of Odor Responses in the Domestic Fowl," Tomoko Oosawa, Yoshiyuki Hirano, and Keiichi Tonosaki, Physiology & Behavior, vol. 71, nos. 1-2, 2000, pp. 203-5.

(Thanks to Rita Ormand for bringing this to our attention.)

"Altruism and Social Cheating in the Social Amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum," Joan E. Strassmann, Yong Zhu, And David C. Queller, Nature, vol. 408, December 21/28, 2000, pp. 965-7. (Thanks to Ian Davis for bringing this to our attention.)

"Motor Performance of Schizophrenics After Mellow and Frenetic Antecedent Music," C. Chambliss, H. McMichael, K. Tyson, C. Monaco, and J. Tracy, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 82, no. 1, February 1996, pp. 153-4. (Thanks to Bill Tedeschi for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, report that:

Pegboard performance was higher after frenetic music but unaffected by mellow music; there was no effect on tapping.
2001-01-18 AIRhead Events
==> For details and updates see http://www.improbable.com
==> Want to host an event? 617-491-4437.

WED, JAN 24, 2001
7:30 pm. AIR Editor MARC ABRAHAMS will present the latest on "Improbable Research, the Ig Nobel Prizes, and Aha!-Ha-Ha Moments in Science."
INFO: Paul Porell 716-271-4552 x 363

SAT, FEB 10, 2001
8 pm.

World premiere of Jazz Harpist DEBORAH HENSON-CONANT's full orchestral version of "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress."
INFO: 413-733-2291
and also and http://www.improbable.com/news/2001/jan/lab-coats.html
For map see

WED, FEB 14, 2001

Valentine's Day improbable research gala with:

Further details TBA.
INFO: Michele Armstrong

FRI, FEB 16, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO HILTON HOTEL, Continental Ballroom 1, 8 pm.
AIR's annual session as part of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Participants will include:

Further details TBA.

MON, FEB 19, 2001

Special 1 minute AIR spectacular at the beginning of the Plenary Lecture
Be there on time -- 8:00 AM -- to see it.

FEB 20, 2001

AIR editor MARC ABRAHAMS and other AIRheads will appear, speak, show fascinating things, and then disappear. Sponsored by the Bay Area Skeptics. Details TBA.


WEEK OF MAY 13-18, 2001
Details TBA.

Tentatively scheduled. Details TBA.

OCT 4, 2001
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University

2001-01-19 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

Here's how to subscribe to the magnificent bi-monthly print
journal The Annals of Improbable Research (the real thing, not
just the little bits of overflow material you have been reading
here in mini-AIR).
City and State:
Zip or postal code:
Phone: FAX: E-mail:
SUBSCRIPTIONS (6 issues per year):
USA 1 yr/$24.95 2 yrs/$44.95
Canada/Mexico 1 yr/$28.95 US 2 yrs/$49.95 US
Overseas 1 yr/$41.95 US 2 yrs/$71.95 US
BACK ISSUES are available, too:
First issue: $8 USA, $11 Canada/Mex, $16 overseas Add'l issues
purchased at same time: $6 each
Send payment (US bank check, or international money order, or
Visa, Mastercard or Discover info) to:

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

2001-01-20 Our Address (*)

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

WEB SITE: http://www.improbable.com

2001-01-21 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever
appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the
material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR
for commercial purposes.

------------- mini-AIRheads -------------

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams (marca@chem2.harvard.edu)
MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last
few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson
CO-CONSPIRATORS: Gary Dryfoos, Ernest Ersatz, Craig Haggart, Nicki Rohloff
AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon
Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

(c) copyright 2001, Annals of Improbable Research

2001-01-22 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

What you are reading right now is mini-AIR. Mini-AIR is a (free!)
tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine.
To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to:

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Friday, January 19, 2001

Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN) on-line!

Amherst, NY (January 19, 2001) -- Look out all ye Roswell conspiracy theorists and forgers of presidents' signatures: the Truth finally is "out there" -- right here at www.csicop.org, that is.

CSICOP is pleased to announce the debut of "The Klass Files" at www.csicop.org/klassfiles. The Klass Files is CSICOP's online library of the full text of back issues of SUN -- Philip J. Klass' famous Skeptics UFO Newsletter.

Currently, issues #26 through #30 are available. Additional issues will be added as fast as we get the text online: the goal is to soon have a complete library of back issues from #1.

The Committee thanks Phil Klass for allowing them to republish this classic of skeptical UFO research.

DigiBio - NewsLetter 2001.1

Dear Colleagues and Friends, not forgetting Foes ;-)
Please find below the new issue of our long-awaited newsletter.

Truly yours,
Paris, January, 2001

J. Benveniste
D. Guillonnet
DigiBio - NewsLetter 2001.1

I - Introduction
II - Research advances:
a) Our latest protocol
b) Automatization of the protocol
III - Communication
IV - Acknowledgments
V - Short term objectives

**The newsletters are available at

I - Introduction

It is an appropriate time to inform you about recent developments in the DigiBio laboratory. As you will see, this last year of dedicated work has not been wasted since we have now mastered many elusive aspects of our research. As a result, our first objective, which is to "export" a simple technique to be replicated in external laboratories, appears to be within reach.

II - Research advances

a) Our present protocol
Since approximately two years ago, we have at our disposal a new method for assessing the effect of biological signals. In short, coagulation of plasma is delayed when the latter is mixed with water pre-exposed to the signal of the anticoagulant heparin, recorded either at high concentration or at high dilution. The test is summarized as follows:

1) Calcium (Ca2+)-containing water is exposed to the computer recording of heparin (or of either the mixture heparin/protamine or water as controls).
2) The exposed water-Ca2+ is mixed with decalcified plasma and distributed in 96-well plates.
3) Coagulation is assessed by spectrophotometry and expressed as Optical Density.

Note: besides using computer recording, the same effect is observed with the heparin signal presented as a high dilution of the original molecule (at least 10 log below the limit indicated by Avogadro's number) or even as homeopathic granules (Heparinum 30 CH )dissolved in water.

In the first experiments of January 99, coagulation was assessed by visual inspection of the tubes. The coagulation rate is now precisely measured by spectrophotometry. The experiment has been performed hundreds of times in our laboratory and has been reproduced 18 times out of 20 experiments in an external laboratory (six successful experiments out of seven performed blind).

b) Automatization of the method
However, our attempts to replicate these data in four other laboratories yielded mixed results. We then realized the difficulty in "exporting" a method which is very far from conventional biology. Also, individual variations of the operator's performance and unexpected modifications to "improve" the method could explain these erratic results. We then decided to automatize this method in order to eliminate the distorting effects of human intervention. The automatic analyzer was operational early October 2000. "Operational" means that the operator, after having centrifuged the thawed decalcified sheep plasma stored at -20°C, simply place it in a rack alongside with water-Ca2+ to be "informed" and set plastic tubes in another rack. After clicking on "start", data are displayed on the computer screen about 90 minutes later. Three experiments of four signals each can be conducted before a new human intervention, essentially to set up new empty tubes in the rack.

It took a few weeks more to built missing devices, tune up the machine and understand the conditions for it to function in a consistent manner. Since then, it has yielded positive results in about 90% of the experiments.

As an example, from Nov 15 to Nov 24, 2000, we have identified blind 104 heparin from 104 control signals. Twelve heparin signals were negative, some failures being due to a faulty mechanical part of the machine and some to non-reactive plasmas.

A typical result is given at the webin the complete newsletter:

We have built a second machine (thanks to two generous donators) which is now in an external laboratory where independent researchers will perform the experiment in the coming weeks. We can reasonably expect to bring one of the two machines (or, if we find the funds, about $40,000, a third one) to a foreign laboratory, in the UK and in the USA.

III - Communication
In order to lighten this mail, you will find the list of communication events at this page of our web site

IV - Comments and acknowledgements
This story, which has taken nearly 15 years to unfold, exemplifies the fact that most if not all researchers, nowadays and in the past, were misguided to apply existing reasoning and methods to a completely new domain of research. Established processes cannot, by definition, tackle the unforeseen traps and uncertainties to be expected in unexplored territories. More difficulties are most probably in front of us. This is why we expected (and still do expect) help instead of contempt from our colleagues.

We are all the more deeply grateful to our few yet dedicated staff, supporters and financial investors who have enabled us to carry on our work thus far. With their help and support, we have since the very beginning of this project placed a great deal of emphasis on carrying out our work under the highest standards of methodology and professionalism. Our final aim is to lay a solid scientific foundation for a technology which we feel could drastically change in very positive ways the rather broad areas of medication distribution and diagnostic services.

We take this opportunity to inform you that we are proceeding to a new increase of DigiBio capital in order to finance the next two years. Several investors already showed their will to participate in this round. (This is only an information and is not a proposal for investment.)

V - Short term objectives
It remains that our present objective is to see our results replicated. Through the current phase of methodical replication of the technology and process by independent laboratories, we are confident that the veracity and consistency of our results will be sufficient to convince even the most adamant skeptics. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal should follow, ensuring acceptance of our results by the scientific and medical communities, or at the very least a willingness to remain open-minded about such a significant advance.

We look forward to keeping you informed of our progress in this regard.

* With our best wishes for the new year, *
* DigiBio team *