NTS LogoSkeptical News for 12 April 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, April 12, 2001

Kurtz on MSNBC Announcement

Paul Kurtz appears tomorrow night (Friday) on "MSNBC Investigates." The subject is mediums, including the (in-)famous John Edward and George Anderson. "MSNBC Investigates" promises to "put several mediums to the test."

FRIDAY, April 13, 8 p.m. (EST)
MSNBC
"MSNBC INVESTIGATES"
"I Hear Dead People"

Go to the following link to see Paul Kurtz in a view a video clip from tomorrow's show (you'll need Windows Media Player to view):
http://www.msnbc.com/news/537370.asp#Investigates

Joe Nickell on Discovery/CSICOP Fans in the Funniest Places

Joe Nickell on the Discovery Channel This Weekend

In case you missed it earlier this week, see Joe Nickell discuss the case of stigmatic Audrey Santo this weekend on the Discovery Channel in another encore airing of "Stigmata: Wounds of Mystery," Saturday, Apr 14, 2001, 1:00 PM.

CSICOP Has Fans in the Funniest Places

Go to http://www.comedycentral.com/karma/ and check out the horoscope for Capricorns. Comic Astrologer "S. Felber" writes:

"We like real science geek skeptics because they weed out all the paranormal kooks who try to exploit the ignorance of the masses. We even read our copy of 'The Skeptical Inquirer' cover to cover every month. It's published by CSICOP, "The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal." The latest copy rips into hot topics like demonic visitation, spontaneous human combustion and distance healing. Why it even has multiple inquiries into "the feeling of being stared at.

"While CSICOP often debunks astrology for being a baseless absurd science, they HAVE NEVER called OUR horoscopes into question and we've been going about five years!"

Until now........

The Looney Jonathan Wells

Here are some URLs for creationist Jonathan Wells. He's written a book Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? which you can buy here.

http://www.arn.org/wells/jwhome.htm
http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/wells.htm
http://www.discovery.org/crsc/fellows/JonathanWells/
http://www.iconsofevolution.com/articles.php3

Studies Attribute Ocean Warming to Human Actions

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010412/sc/climate_warming_dc_1.html

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions have caused the world's oceans to heat up over the past half century, according to studies that researchers said on Thursday pointed with near certainty to human activity, not natural climate fluctuations, as the culprit behind global warming.

Research teams led by Sydney Levitus of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Tim Barnett of the University of California at San Diego's Scripps Institute of Oceanography used different climate models to simulate how ocean temperatures would respond to current greenhouse gas levels and other modern-day atmospheric conditions.

Both models predicted an amount of warming in the upper 1.9 miles of the world's oceans remarkably similar to levels actually measured, according to the studies appearing in the journal Science. Experts previously reported that the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans collectively had warmed an average of 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1955.

``Our results indicate that the warming of the Earth's climate system during the 1955 to 1996 period is most likely due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere observed over the past 100 years. We believe this is some of the strongest evidence to date that this warming is, in fact, of human-induced origin,'' Levitus said in an interview.

Barnett added that the results provide a ``95 percent confidence level'' that human-produced greenhouse gases are behind the warming.

Many scientists believe emissions of certain pollutants from industry, power plants, vehicles and other sources threaten to disrupt global climate and ecosystems by causing the Earth's atmosphere to trap more of the sun's energy, triggering global warming. But solid evidence directly linking human activities to climate changes has been elusive.

Skeptics Unswayed

Scientists who doubt human activities have triggered global climate changes said computer models such as those used in the new studies are of dubious value, and that the researchers ignored the more plausible explanation that natural oscillations of the planet's climate system are to blame.

``This is simply another case of scientists who have so committed themselves to the global warming myth that they are unable to visualize and accept a fairly obvious explanation,'' said S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist who heads the Science & Environmental Policy Project in Arlington, Virginia.

Most efforts to detect signs of global warming have dwelt on air temperatures. But the new studies instead focused on the oceans. ``If you claim you're heating something up, you'd like to be looking where most of the heat is going,'' Barnett said. ''It's not the atmosphere. It's not the ice. It's the oceans. So that's what we did.''

Covering 72 percent of the Earth's surface, the oceans have been called the ``memory'' of the Earth's climate system. They can absorb large amounts of heat and store it before circulating it back to the atmosphere.

Earlier climate models failed to include an ocean component, thus frequently predicting air temperatures would increase more than they actually have risen, Levitus said.

Answers Sought

Levitus last year determined an average for how much the oceans had warmed by compiling millions of deep ocean temperature measurements from 1948-1995. The problem was that no one could say whether this trapped heat came from greenhouse warming or merely a natural swing in the climate cycle.

Levitus and Barnett sought to answer the question by using different, complex climate models to simulate the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Both models produced findings that closely mirrored actual conditions.

To ensure the results were not a fluke, Barnett's team ran five simulations and averaged the results. They also ran the model without the extra greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols produced by human activity. Without these man-made factors, the simulated oceans did not warm significantly, they said.

Using a different model, Levitus and his colleagues also factored in the effects of the sun's changing intensity and aerosol particles produced by volcanic eruptions over the last century. But this simulation also produced a very close match to the actual ocean temperature measurements, reaffirming human activity as the likely cause.

E-SKEPTIC: SKEPTIC U.S. LECTURE TOUR

E-SKEPTIC FOR APRIL 12, 2001

Copyright 2001 Michael Shermer, Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, e-Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com and ). Permission to print, distribute, and post with proper citation and acknowledgment. We encourage you to broadcast e-Skeptic to new potential subscribers. Newcomers can subscribe to e-Skeptic for free by sending an e-mail to:
---------------------------------
UPCOMING SKEPTIC U.S. LECTURE TOUR
The following are lectures I'll be giving around the country in the coming months:

CHAT SESSION ON LYCOS-INC.COM ON SUPERSTITIONS, PSEUDOSCIENCE, ETC.
Friday, April 13, 5:00-5:30 PST
Contact: Chris Hall,
-----------
WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD
Tuesday, April 17th 7:00 p.m.
Oregon State University
Austin Auditorium at the LaSells Stewart Center
875 SW 26th Street, Corvallis, Oregon
admission is free and open to the public
Contact: Christopher Beatty, 541/737-2638
-----------
WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS
Wednesday, April 18, 7:00pm
Missouri Southern State College
Webster Auditorium
Joplin, MO
Contact: Val Carlisle, 417/625-9669
admission is free and open to the public
----------- DENYING HISTORY
Sunday, April 22, 2:00
Long Beach Jewish Community Center
3801 East Willow Ave., Long Beach, CA
Contact: Nicole Honigman, 562/426-7601 x1024
-----------
AN AFTERNOON WITH JARED DIAMOND AND MICHAEL SHERMER
Saturday, April 28, 2:30-4:00
UCLA campus (lecture hall undetermined at this point)
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Contact: Lara Furar, lara.furar@latimes.com or Phil Nery,

----------
SANTA CLARA CONFERENCE ON PSEUDOSCIENCE, CREATIONISM, AND RELIGION
With James Randi, J. Gordon Melton, Eugenie Scott, Eileen Barker, Michael Shermer
Thursday, Friday, May 3-4
Santa Clara University College of Arts and Sciences
Contact: Marie Brancati,

Schedule:

James Randi: Thursday, May 3, 7:00pm, Recital Hall, Music and Dance Building,
"Using One Fallacy to Support Others"

J. Gordon Melton, Thursday, May 3, 11:00am, Williman Room, Benson Center,
"Science and the Search for Religious Authority"

Eugenie Scott, Thursday, May 3, 3:30pm, Williman Room, Benson Center,
"Creationism Old and New"

Eileen Barker: Friday, May 4, 10:15am, Williman Room, Benson Center,
"And the Angel Said to the Ape, 'Behold!' and the Ape Beheld"

Michael Shermer, Friday, May 4, 3:30pm Williman Room, Benson Center,
"How We Believe: Pseudoscience and Transcendence in an Age of Science"

All speakers on "Creationism and Skepticism" Friday, May 4, 7:30pm, Mayer Theatre
-----------
THE BORDERLANDS OF SCIENCE: WHERE SENSE MEETS NONSENSE
The Eighth Isaac Asimov Memorial Lecture
New York Area Skeptics
Saturday, May 12, 3:00pm
Unitarian Community Church
40 East 35th St. (between Park and Madison)
Manhattan, New York
Contact: Ted Debiak, or or
www.nyask.com
----------
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: THE NEW CREATIONISM
New England Skeptics Society
Sunday, May 13, 3:00pm (I think)
Yale University (hall to be determined)
Contact: Jon Blumenfeld, or
----------
THE BORDERLANDS OF SCIENCE: WHERE SENSE MEETS NONSENSE

American Humanist Association 60th Anniversary Conference
Saturday, May 19, AM lecture (no time given yet)
Sheraton Four Points Hotel, 9750 Airport Blvd., Los Angeles
Conference goes May 18-20. Other speakers include: Stephen Jay Gould, Wendy Kaminer, Pat Duffy Hutcheon, Diane Russell (no times given to me yet). Gould speaks Saturday night I believe.
Contact: AHA 800/837-3792
--------
THE BORDERLANDS OF SCIENCE: WHERE SENSE MEETS NONSENSE

Skeptics Society Caltech Lecture Series
Sunday, June 10, 2:00pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, California Institute of Technology
Contact: Skeptics Society,
--------
WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY ON A DEEP QUESTION

Oregon Secular Alliance
Saturday, June 23, 1:00pm
Greenwood Inn, 10700 SW Allen Blvd., Portland, Oregon
Contact: Gerald Gage, 503/274-8278,
--------
BIBLE CODES AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM

Eris Society
Friday, August 3
Aspen, Colorado
Contact: Carol Olmstead, erissoc@bigfoot.com or Randy Smith,
--------------------------------------------------
Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Director of the Skeptics Society, the host of the Skeptics Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and a monthly columnist for Scientific American. Go to www.skeptic.com to join the Skeptics Society and subscribe to Skeptic magazine.

Physics of the soul

Submitted by Vic Stenger

Dr. Amrit Sorli
Miasto Institute
53010 Frosini ( SI )
Tuscany
Italy
Email:
tel:0039-348-8127445

Dear Dr. [name deleted]

I'm sending you into consideration for publishing my communication "Is Dark Matter Associated with Photon Emission at the Time of Death?"

Hope to here from you soon.
Yours Sincerely

Dr. Amrit Sorli

Is Dark Matter Associated with Photon Emission at the Time of Death?

Preliminary experiments have been carried out in the Microbiology Laboratory, Biotechnical Faculty, Ljubljana, Slovenia in June 1987.

Measurements have been performed on a Mettler Zurich M5 scale, accuracy 2 micrograms (2x10-6g), maximum load 20 grams. Test tube with 5 grams of worms show a loss at the time of death of 5 micrograms on average. The experiment was later repeated at the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Faculty for Natural Science and Technology, Ljubljana (August, September 1988). Two Mettler Zurich scales, type H20T, accuracy 20 micrograms (2x10-5g), maximum load 160 grams were used in the measurements. Identical results were obtained. The experiment involved putting 70 grams of live California worms and a small test-tube, filled with 0.25 ml of 36% water solution of formaldehyde into the experimental test-tube. The control test tube contained 70 ml of distilled water and a small test tube with formaldehyde. Both test tubes were welded, wiped clean with 70% ethanol, and put into the weighing chamber of the balance. Approximately one hour was allowed for acclimatisation. Later both test-tubes were measured three times at intervals of five minutes. Then the test tubes were turned upside down to spill the solution of formaldehyde and again measured seven times at intervals of fifteen minutes. The weight of the worms increases first 3 minutes after the poisoning on average for 60 micrograms and than went down. Fifteen minutes after poisoning, the weight diminished on the average by 93.6 micrograms. The entire experiment was repeated twelve times. The standard deviation amounted to 16 micrograms. The pressure in both test tubes was one atmosphere for the entire duration of the experiment, the temperature in both test tubes was the same. Neither the pressure nor the temperature could have therefore been the cause for the difference in the weight.

Back in 1997 I published the results in the "Newsletter" nr. 18-19 of Monterey Institute for Study of Alternative Healing Arts, California. Third of March 1998 Dr. Shiuji Inomata from Japan informs us that Dr. Kaoru Kavada got the same results with the rats. Closed airtight in the plastic containers lose some weight at the time of death. Dr. Popp Fritz from Germany discovered that the organisms at he time of death emit photons. According to the Einstein formula E= mcc the photon emission can not be the cause of the weight difference. That's way has to be taken in consideration also eventual emission of the dark matter at the time of death of an organism.

Amrit Sorli

'Disappearing penis' sparks mob deaths

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_236410.html?menu=

A Nigerian mob attacked and killed eight members of a spiritual movement after a villager claimed they made his penis disappear.

Residents of Osu, 70 miles north-east of Lagos, set fire to the movement's bus, killing eight and injuring 50.

The man driving the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star's bus was also killed. The movement espouses peace and reconciliation.

The state police commissioner said the two people who reported the disappearing penis have been arrested and detained. They have not yet been charged.

The religious group has around one million members, mostly in Nigeria, its European representative Jeremy Goring told Ananova. They work for peace and reconciliation - particularly between Muslims and Christians.

The bus had stopped in Osu on the way to a convention in the nearby city of Ilesa, the daily Guardian newspaper said.

Osun state police commissioner Ganiyu Dawodu was quoted as saying: "The sect was attacked just like that. Someone alleged that his manhood mysteriously got missing. And the person fingered ... happened to be a member of the Brotherhood sect."

Penis-stealing accusations are not unknown in West Africa. In many such cases, the accuser is later discovered to be a swindler who robs the alleged "thief" during a mob attack. The claims are usually associated with accusations of 'juju', or black magic.

Men Drill Holes Without License

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010410/us/brf_holes_in_head_1.html

PAROWAN, Utah (AP) - Two men pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license for drilling holes in a woman's skull in a procedure they said was intended to restore her childhood buoyancy.

Peter Halvorson, 54, and William Lyons, 56, were placed on three years' probation, fined $500 and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation Monday. They could have gotten up to five years in prison if convicted.

Some New Age followers believe the centuries-old drilling practice promotes higher consciousness and relieves depression.

Prosecutors learned of the operation - performed on a woman who had traveled from England for it - when it was broadcast by ABC's ''20/20'' in February 2000. The woman apparently returned to England after the surgery and her wound healed, prosecutor Scott Burns said.

Burns said he is investigating whether an ABC reporter encouraged the surgery, which could lead to charges.

Halvorson, who bored a hole in his own head 29 years ago with a power drill, said the case helped publicize the procedure.

"It's personally been helpful to me. It provided an impulse to me to find a way to do this legally," he said. "But I'm not glad I was charged."

120G PSYCHIC WAS SUCKER'S REAL 'CURSE': COPS

From the New York Post at

http://www.nypostonline.com/news/regionalnews/28474.htm

By PHILIP MESSING

April 12, 2001 -- A fortuneteller, dripping with diamonds and dressed to the nines, was busted yesterday for fleecing a lovesick man out of $120,000 to remove a "big curse" and reunite him with his estranged wife, cops said.

Sonya Costello, 36, was already on probation for two other scams when police picked her up in Queens yesterday, shortly after she returned from a Florida vacation.

Police said the self-proclaimed mystic, who also goes by the alias "Seora Rita," spent four years conning the 50-year-old Suffolk County contractor out of his savings.

The victim "went to her because his wife left him and he was heartbroken and devastated," cops said.

"She said to him, 'You know what? You got a curse on you - a big one. But don't worry about it, because I'm gonna take care of it and your wife is going to come back to you.'"

During some of their meetings, she would rub a tomato over the victim's chest while reciting incantations, police said.

Then, using sleight of hand, she would pull a piece of chopped meat encrusted with hair out of the tomato, insisting it was evidence she had "pulled the evil curse out," the investigator said.

Costello's cash demands were so exorbitant, police said, he had to borrow money twice to pay her. His wife never returned, and he finally filed a criminal complaint.

When she was arrested, Costello was sporting more than $100,000 in jewelry, including 3-carat diamond earrings and a $14,000 Rolex watch.

Police believe Costello also used the alias "Sonya Cruz," and asked anyone who might be a victim to contact Special Frauds Squad detectives at (212) 374-6850.


Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Historian at Fatima says archives indicate additional apparitions

http://www.spiritdaily.com/lucia2.htm

A museum director and historian who has culled through the archives of Fatima, Portugal, says that there were more apparitions of the Virgin Mary than the six commonly thought to have occurred at the famous site in 1917.

Documents never fully released contain indications of apparitions in addition to the highly publicized ones occurring between May 13 and October 13, according to the historian, Carlos Evaristo -- who says that the famous version of Fatima is actually a synopsis of events pulled together by Church officials who wanted to quickly and neatly present the case for formal Church approval and to get out its urgent message.

The fact that there may be apparitions beyond the six famous ones is bound to cause a stir -- and at this point must be discerned with great caution until documentation, which Evaristo says exists in the way of many unreleased documents or ones that have been released only in Portuguese, can be confirmed.

But Evaristo, who lives in Fatima, has been a credible source in the past and has studied the apparitions for years, coming up with hidden aspects of history.

Was there indeed more to Fatima than generally known? Did the phenomena extend beyond what we're taught by popular history?

The generally accepted chronology is this: an appearance of an angel to the children in 1915 and 1916, during which time the angel gave the children Communion. Those manifestations were followed in 1917 by a half dozen appearances of the Virgin Mary herself.

According to Evaristo, who in addition to his historical work has also served as an interpreter and questioner at important meetings in Coimbra between cardinals, bishops, and the surviving seer, Lucia dos Santos, the Blessed Mother appeared as early as May of 1915 at Fatima -- two years before her generally recognized arrival May 13, 1917.

"It is certain the Virgin appeared more times than she's known to have appeared between 1915 and 1920," says Evaristo, who written detailed historical accounts of the apparitions. In addition to the 1918 manifestation and possibly one in 1915, there was also a previously unrecognized appearance in 1917 itself, he says.

An apparition scheduled for August 13, 1917, was interrupted when a Masonic local administrator detained the children in Ourem, threatening to kill them, but despite that detention the Virgin appeared unseen that day, explains Evaristo, who says documents indicate that when the children were finally released and saw Mary on August 15, "this particular apparition revealed that had the children not been taken to Ourem and imprisoned, they would have seen Our Lady on August 13 with the Immaculate Heart triumphant and symbolized by an arch of flowers over Our Lady with an angel at each side, and they would have seen Our Lady of Sorrows. There's the indication that the thorns would have been removed from the Immaculate Heart." Some of this information comes from hand-written accounts from Lucia to her confessors.

Meanwhile, according to Evaristo, phenomena and miracles associated with the sun extended days and even weeks beyond the great sun miracle of October 17, 1917, which is generally thought to have been the event's conclusion.

Evaristo says documents indicate that had civil authorities not interfered, " the miracle of October [during which thousands saw the sun spin wildly] would have been greater, more people would have believed, maybe the whole world would have seen it."

It is also revealed that St. Joseph had come on the August 13 to bless the world and the Sacred Heart of Jesus had also been present at the apparition that was interrupted by the arrest of the children. "These things were not seen by the children but were revealed to the children on August 15," Evaristo explains.

It also appears the angel who first appeared in 1915 and 1916 (and is not mentioned again in historical accounts of the apparitions) in fact reappeared on July 24, 1917.

Meanwhile, there were later appearances of the Virgin. "For example the Virgin appeared in 1918 on the Feast of the Assumption to Jacinta Marto [one of the three seers] at the parish church in Fatima, and it was a special apparition because she transported Jacinta to a different dimension where she was able to be present at each one of the mysteries of the Rosary -- physically present [our italics].

"That was edited out by Church authorities because it's a touchy thing about being transported, but there was a painting placed in the parish church depicting this, after the bishop of Fatima, Serafim Silva, revealed the apparition recently," says Evaristo. "That particular apparition no one knew about but it is now public knowledge. There were also apparitions to Jacinta at an orphanage in Lisbon during which Our Lady appeared in physical form and not just in a supernatural, transparent form as she had earlier -- but in such a way that she sat in a chair by Jacinta's sickbed."

Much of his information comes from thousands of documents that have not been previously released, Evaristo told Spirit Daily. In 1990 Church officials decided to disclose these details and prepared a commission that in 1992 assembled a volume called "Critical Documents of Fatima, the 1917 Interrogations." But it was released only in Portuguese and authorities suspended plans for additional volumes when a hot controversy ensued over the material, says Evaristo.

Part of the controversy involved material that indicated Church authorities had "edited" aspects of the Fatima apparitions, says Evaristo, including the description of the Virgin, who until 1947 was represented by an inaccurate statue. The current Pilgrim Virgin and the depiction of Mary as seen in the Chapel of the Apparitions at Fatima is the accurate depiction, he says-- adding that while she later came as an older female, initially the Virgin appeared to the three seers as a 11 or 12-year-old girl but was edited by authorities to appear somewhat older.

"It was a good job of editing, and the Church had to be prudent," says Evaristo. "You had this mentality that constantly had to edit even what was coming out of apparitions because on earth it wasn't acceptable to the Catholic Church. She said things that were edited because they wanted to condense the message so it would be rapidly approved and so they could move ahead with the message. Even the descriptions of Our Lady, the descriptions of events, the descriptions of prayer, were edited. The prayer, `Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven,' was edited by priests because they didn't like the exact wording of it. They added 'especially those in most need of Thy mercy' because authorities thought people might think the original prayer meant taking all souls to heaven including those in hell, which they didn't think was theologically acceptable. There was always that prudence. There were changes in the prayer, editing what Our Lady said, and at one point editing of the angel because the angel had brought Communion under both species [bread and wine], and that might make people think that of the Orthodox, who did this as a matter of course. There was also the description of Our Lady. Initially she appeared like a 11 or 12-year-old girl, not as a grown woman. That was somewhat changed in order that people would take the message in a more obedient way from a motherly adult Mary rather than a child Mary."

"She did appear as an adult in later apparitions, but only after 1947 did you get an accurate image. The image of the pilgrim Virgin is the accurate image as is the one in Capeliha, the little Chapel of the Apparitions."

Next week: what transcripts reveal about the Blessed Mother's request that Russia be consecrated, plus: the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and third secret -- was it, as some have alleged, altered?

Examining the Earthlight Theory, The Yakima UFO Microcosm

Greg Long

1990, J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Chicago, Illinois, 163 p.,
ISBN 0-929343-57-3, softback

Chapter 4 entitled UFO Stakeout details the field investigation work of David Akers in the Yakima area of Washington state in 1973. This part of the book is very interesting and other details about his investigations can be found at these URLs:

PART 1. Report on the Investigation of Nocturnal Light Phenomena at Toppenish, Washington August 1972
http://www.setv.org/research/studies/yakima/yakstdy1.html

PART 2. Investigation of Nocturnal Light Phenomena 1973 Sighting Reports from Toppenish, Washington http://www.setv.org/research/studies/yakima/yakstdy2.html

PART 3. A Statistical Summary of Reports from the Toppenish UFO Study
http://www.setv.org/research/studies/yakima/yakstdy3.html

Chapter introductory paragraph - David Akers had been investigating UFO sightings in Washington state for APRO since 1966. The experiences ran the whole gamut of UFO phenomena, he told me, "from objects to strange noises, electromagnetic interference of automobiles by UFOs, all sorts of outlandish things." During these years, he had never seen a UFO, and had taken only a few observational tools and a camera with him on his investigations. The reports of sightings on the Reservation attracted him; here was a chance to collect more than anecdotal reports. With the appropriate instruments and cooperation of the Reservation officials, he planned to observe and record, firsthand, UFO events while they were actually in progress. As an engineer, he welcomed the opportunity to gather hard data. The Reservation project could turn out to be the first historical instrumental field study of UFO phenomena, which hopefully would reap valuable information about the material nature of the objects. For the study to succeed, it would have to be carefully planned, organized and executed with utmost care....

EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY...
An investigation into a mini-flap.
by Greg Long.

By now we've all heard of "earth lights." Paul Devereux of Great Britian coined the term in 1982 when he published EARTH LIGHTS. In that book, Devereux developed the idea that UFOs are a byproduct of natural processes in the earth.

Micheal Persinger of Canada had already been saying the same thing for years in a continous outpouring of papers in which he developed his Tectonic Strain Theory of UFOs.

Unfortunately, despite Devereux and Persinger's passion for the concept of a UFO/earth stress link, neither researcher has yet proven the case that UFOs are purely a natural phenomenon.

Rock has been crushed in the laboratory, eliciting extraordinary brief pulses of light, but the result of that experiment--in the words of Brian Brady, who developed the experiment--the crushing of rock cannot account for "discrete" light forms seen at high altitude (read : spherical UFOs at high altitude).

In fact, Brady's experiment even does away with the famous "piezo-electric effect" as a source of UFOs; in terms of energy output, piezo-electricity is simply too weak to account for anything more than momentary, diffuse glows of light.

More importantly, how can a mysterious, elusive and unidentified physical mechanism create STRUCTURED objects? This is the great failing of the "earth-lights" theory; it attempts to solve the UFO mystery by ignoring the actual content of the UFO report.

Any unexplained object seen in an earthquake-prone region--no matter how artificial in appearance or "intelligent" in its actions -suddenly becomes a byproduct of ionization, plasmas or some other little-understood electrical process.

In 1981 I began an investigation into UFO sightings that had occured over 20 years in a single area, the Yakima Indian Reservation in south-central Washington state.

In the early 1980s, the MUFON UFO Journal published several of my papers based on my preliminary findings. Now the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies has published my complete findings as a book, "EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY: The Yakima UFO Microcosm."

EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY looks microscopically at the Tectonic Strain Theory of UFOs. I use the Yakima data (nearly 200 reports from a variety of witnesses, plus numerous color photographs) to test the viability of the Tectonic Strain Theory which Persinger believes explains the Yakima sightings.

The Yakima data form a "microcosm," a fascinating, self-contained world of strange reports, which include a range of unexplained occurences--orange balls of light, CE3's, possible abductions, Bigfoot sightings, daylight objects, subterrrean sounds and more.

Nearly every part of the Reservation experienced some type of unexplained event over a 20 year period, making the Yakima Indian Reservation an excellent "laboratory" for detailed examination of UFO phenomena.

Earthquake faults mark the ridges of the Reservation; it lies at the foot of the volcanic Cascade Range; and fire lookouts were in place on top of three mountains to observe and record strange lights year after year...the right conditions for data collection, plenty of UFOs and more than enough meticulous documentation to whet the appetite of a curious scientist in serach of an explanation.

EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY takes the reader on a historical journey, following the sightings to their most recent occurence. All data of this unique mini-flap are used to thoroughly evaluate the basic components of the Tectonic Strain Theory. EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY is an experience in detective work, where all the facts of the Yakima micrcosm are weighed, sifted and evaluated in the systematic pursuit of a solution to the mystery of the microcosm.

EXAMINING THE EARTHLIGHT THEORY is available through the J. Allen Hynek
Center for UFO Studies
2457 West Peterson Ave.
Chicago, Il. 60659
www.cufos.org

UFOnet is an open, international, free news and discussion list dedicated to:
UFOs, Anomalous Phenomena, Astronomy, Skywatching, SETI, the Latest on Aerospace Research and Space Flight, Free & New Energy, Exoscience, etc.
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to:

Skeptical Inquirer Electronic Digest, April 10, 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 and Barry Karr at .

1) --GALLUP POLL: Americans Consider Global Warming Real But Not Alarming
--ABCNEWS.COM: Paulos on a Formula Discovered 700 Years Earlier Than Previously Thought
--TIME MAGAZINE: A New Breed of Healers
--PBS FRONTLINE: Harvest of Fear, April 24 Program Explores GM Agriculture

2) Skeptics in the Pub for April
--GALLUP POLL: AMERICANS CONSIDER GLOBAL WARMING REAL BUT NOT ALARMING

Americans Consider Global Warming Real, but Not Alarming To view the full poll, go to
http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010409.asp

Global warming concerns are at the center of negative reaction to recent Bush administration decisions against regulating carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. A recent Gallup poll focusing on the environment finds Americans in agreement with those who argue that the effects of global warming will occur in their lifetime, and that the rise in the Earth's temperature is due to human activities. At the same time, less than a third of the public appears highly concerned about the problem, with only 33% saying they worry "a great deal" about it, and just 31% feeling it poses a serious risk in their lifetime.

-ABC NEWS.COM: MONK DISCOVERS FORMULA 700 YEARS EARLIER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

Fractal Find
Monk Discovered Mathematical Formula 700 Years Earlier Than Previously Thought

By John Allen Paulos
Special to ABCNEWS.com

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/WhosCounting/whoscounting.html

April 1 An astonishing instance of mathematical anticipation has recently come to light, showing that a monk discovered a complex formula centuries earlier than previously thought.

-- TIME MAGAZINE: A NEW BREED OF HEALERS
A New Breed of Healers
By John Greenwald
http://www.time.com/time/innovators_v2/alt_medicine/index.html

Call it "alternative," "complementary," "integrative" or "holistic" medicine. Whatever name you choose, such nontraditional therapeutic practices as acupuncture, homeopathy and yoga have become increasingly prominent and provocative parts of the U.S. medical landscape. An estimated 50% of all Americans turn to some type of alternative therapy; three-quarters of U.S. medical schools offer courses in the subject; and even flinty-eyed health insurers are starting to pay for visits to your local herbalist or naturopath.

This shift reflects a growing public yearning for gentler, less invasive forms of healing. But unconventional potions and practices afford rich opportunities for quackery. Health-food magazines and websites are filled with ads touting miracle cures that serve only to separate the sick from their money.

--PBS FRONTLINE: HARVEST OF FEAR, APRIL 24, EXPLORES GM AGRICULTURE

Check your local listings and monitor
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ for updates.

Coming April 24 is "Harvest of Fear," a FRONTLINE/NOVA joint report investigating the controversy over genetically modified foods. While proponents say this new technology has the potential to end hunger and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people, others argue it's the biggest threat to humanity since nuclear energy. The controversy has led Europe to ban the planting of genetically modified crops and to demand that all existing "GM" products be labeled. Will the United States follow suit?

2) From: (Scott Campbell)

This is your reminder for the APRIL 'Skeptics in the Pub' meeting:

DATE - Wednesday, April 18th (NB: not Thursday!!)
TIME - 19:30
PLACE- Upstairs in the Florence Nightingale pub
199 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1, U.K.

Junction with York Road, on the roundabout, near Waterloo station.
Entry fee is 2.

Detailed directions and a map of how to get to the pub can be found at www.skeptic.org.uk/pub.

This month's speaker is Robert J. Newman, who is legendary in UK science fiction circles for his caustic and merciless wit. Robert is a most amusing speaker and is guaranteed to entertain.

Title: It must be true, I read it in a book

- A brief tour through some of Robert's extensive book collection.
Robert will direct the audience towards some of the funniest bits of books by Lobsang Rampa, L Ron Hubbard, Brinsley le poer Trench, Michael Bentine, God and other people who are dead and can't take legal action against us. He may also find time to point out some of the truly inspiring passages from such fine, living, authors as Uri Geller, David Icke, Andrew Collins and Nick Pope. As long as they (and/or their legal representatives) aren't in the audience.

Robert lives in a cardboard box in Croydon, works as a window cleaner and has a GCSE in woodwork. He is not the Robert Newman who was replaced by Frank Skinner. He may have attended a previous SitP meeting or two.

A welcome is extended to anyone interested in, or skeptical about, the paranormal, alternative medicine, psychic powers, pseudo-science, UFOs, alien abductions, creationism, Fortean phenomena, cult religions, water-divining, lost civilisations, etc.

The interview will be followed by informal discussion in a relaxed and friendly pub atmosphere. Real ales and food available. Non-skeptics are welcome and you can turn up at any time during the night.

Planned meeting dates to July are as follows:

17 May Thur: Prof David Marks -The Psychology of the Psychic
21 Jun Thur: Dr Scott Campbell - Why Falsificationism is False

Scott Campbell .
E-mail me for more information, or to recommend a speaker (perhaps yourself), or to remove yourself from this list.

___________________________
Dr Scott Campbell,
Department of Philosophy,
University of Nottingham,
University Park, Nottingham,
NG7 2RD, U.K.

and:
Institute for the Study of Biorisks and Society,
University of Nottingham.

(44 + 115) 8466 964

-------------------------------

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: http://www.csicop.org/list/

PERMISSION IS GRANTED TO REPRINT OR REPOST ON THE WEB. WE ENCOURAGE TRANSLATION INTO OTHER LANGUAGES. PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS.

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:
http://www.csicop.org/si/subscribe/

Family 'attack would-be son-in-law' after spiritualist's doubts

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_230336.html?menu=

A Malaysian woman's family allegedly assaulted her boyfriend because they believed a spiritualist's criticisms of him.

Chung Kam Loon says he was attacked at the home of his girlfriend Tan Suat Bee in Tanjung Karang.

He says seven members of the family assaulted him when they started discussing their proposed marriage.

Chung, 28, says he suffered bruises during the alleged assault but is still with his girlfriend and has not pressed charges against the family.

The couple are now living together with a friend.

Tan Suat Bee, 24, said: "I love him very much. I hope my family will eventually accept our relationship."

Michael Chong of the Malaysia Chinese Association says in The New Straits Times that six similar cases have been reported to police this year.

Taxi driver exorcist accused of swindling lonely woman

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_230464.html?menu=

A Japanese taxi driver allegedly carried out 240 exorcisms to help a female passenger find a husband.

The Nagoya driver blamed evil spirits for her failure. Police have arrested him for fraud.

They say she paid him nearly 130,000 over six years for the exorcisms.

The Mainichi Daily News says a week after her first ride she gave the 48-year-old driver 500,000 yen (around 2,800) as an initial consultation charge and 23 million yen (128,000) for the rest of the sessions.

Greenhouse gases will save Earth, professors say

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_230051.html?menu=

The world needs more greenhouse gases to stop the Earth from sliding into a new Ice Age, two professors claim.

Professors Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe claim attempts to counter global warming are misguided.

But their theory has angered environmentalists.

Sir Fred is a past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, while Chandra Wickramasinghe is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Cardiff.

Writing in the Astrophysics and Space Science Journal, they believe the Earth broke free of the grip of the Ice Ages after it was struck by a comet 10,000 years ago.

They claim the comet threw large amounts of water into the atmosphere, creating a powerful "greenhouse" effect of which we are still feeling the benefits.

They also claim the Earth's atmosphere is becoming "clogged" with particles of cosmic dust that will eventually trigger another Ice Age. The only way to counteract the cooling is for man to burn more fossil fuels.

Professor Wickramasinghe said: "The greenhouse effect is something that actually keeps us going. Perhaps we should be stepping up rather than decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions."

Gareth Jones, of the Met Office, said: "Professor Wickramasinghe is making a bold statement but there is not a great deal of evidence to support this, it goes against most of our findings."


Tuesday, April 10, 2001

New "Skeptical Inquirer" program debuts on Discovery Science Channel

Amherst, NY (April 9, 2001) -- The new "Skeptical Inquirer" series will debut on the Discovery Science Channel (http://science.discovery.com/) in two weeks. This series, produced in cooperation with Skeptical Inquirer, is hosted by William B. Davis of "X-Files" fame and consists of ten 3-minute "interstitial" programs on paranormal and pseudoscience topics. The first five scheduled to appear will cover acupuncture, astrology, hauntings, homeopathy, and magnet therapy.

Each program opens and closes with "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine logo and features CSICOP fellows such as Paul Kurtz, Joe Nickell and Jim Alcock, in addition to Voodoo Science author and pseudoscience watchdog Robert Park. These programs will appear frequently throughout the daily schedule of the Science Channel, so, needless to say, they will serve as excellent, continuous PR for Skeptical Inquirer and CSICOP tha reaches a highly receptive audience.

Our cooperation with the Science Channel on this exciting project also furthers our commitment to reach children interested in science, which we began the foundations for with CSICOP's Science Kit and the Young Skeptics web site. Pro-science programs for and about children, such as "Discovery Young Scientist Challenge 2000," will be premiering later this month on the Science Channel: we are extremely eager to get our skeptical message out to the next generation who will carry science literacy and skepticism through the 21st century.

Kevin Christopher
Public Relations Director
CSICOP & Skeptical Inquirer
P.O. Box 703
Amherst, NY 14226
E-mail:

2) In today's USAToday, column taking Fox to task for show on the moon landing hoax, and other general tabloid nonsense in the media....

http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/2001-04-09-ncguest1.htm

Skeptical Inquirer Electronic Digest, April 9, 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 .

--MSNBC INVESTIGATES: A Full Week of the Paranormal
--NY TIMES: Evolutionists Battle New Creation Theory
--NY TIMES: Biology Text More Fiction Than Fact
--NY TIMES: Cultural Reflections by a Primatologist
--NPR SCIENCE FRIDAY: Human Cloning

--MSNBC INVESTIGATES: A FULL WEEK OF THE PARANORMAL
This week on cable channel MSNBC:

MSNBC Investigates

MONDAY, April 9, 8 p.m
In Search of Satan

We take you on a search for Satan through myth and legend, fact and historical record. It's an intimate look at a figure of evil " whose image and depictions have changed over the ages but are still very much with us today.

TUESDAY, April 10, 8 p.m.
Exorcism

Who can forget Linda Blair's portrait of a daughter possessed? For some, exorcism is more than just a subject for filmmakers. We look at how so-called experts drive out the devil.

WEDNESDAY, April 11, 8 p.m.
Back from the Dead

A recent study found 82 percent of American adults think some aspect of themselves will live on beyond their death. But for some, there’s no question -- they’ve been on the brink of death and lived to tell about it. THURSDAY, April 12, 8 p.m.
Ancient Secrets Revealed

Archaeologists excavating the Confederate submarine ‘The Hunley,’ have found the remains of several crew members whose fate was unknown for 137 years. We'll show you the pain-staking methods researchers are using to examine this relic of the Civil War.

FRIDAY, April 13, 8 p.m. I Hear Dead People
You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of Americans say the dead can contact the living. And they spend a fortune trying to do it. We put several mediums to the test.

--NY TIMES: EVOLUTIONISTS BATTLE NEW THEORY ON CREATION

Evolutionists Battle New Theory on Creation

For the full text of the article, go to
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/08/science/08DESI.html

By JAMES GLANZ
FROM SUNDAY'S TIMES

Evolutionists find themselves arrayed not against creationism, with its roots in the Bible, but against the intelligent design theory: that the Earth must be the work of a cosmic life force.

--NY TIMES: BIOLOGY TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS MORE FICTION THAN FACT

Biology Text Illustrations More Fiction Than Fact

For the full text of the article, go to
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/08/science/08EVOL.html

By JAMES GLANZ
FROM SUNDAY'S TIMES

The anti-evolution movement called intelligent design has helped its cause by publicizing some embarrassing mistakes in leading biology textbooks.

--NY TIMES: CULTURAL REFLECTIONS BY A PRIMATOLOGIST

For the full text of the article, go to
http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/04/08/reviews/010408.08fostert.html

The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections by a Primatologist
By FRANS DE WAAL
Reviewed by DOUGLAS FOSTER

". . . [an] engaging history of primate studies . . . [De Waal is] one of the world's most distinguished primatologists . . . De Waal shows how behavior among monkeys and apes depends heavily on social learning."

--NPR SCIENCE FRIDAY: HUMAN CLONING

April 6, 2001
TALK OF THE NATION
(14.4 | 28.8)
(entire program)

To listen to the full program in real audio, go to
http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnpd01fm.cfm?PrgDate=04/06/2001&PrgID=5

HOUR ONE: Human Cloning
(14.4 | 28.8)

Guests:

RUDOLF JAENISCH
Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Professor, Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

PANOS ZAVOS
Professor Emeritus, Reproductive Physiology and Andrology
University of Kentucky
Director, Andrology Institute of America
Associate Director, Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine and IVF
Lexington, Kentucky

JEFFREY KAHN
Director, Center for Bioethics
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

MARK EIBERT
Patient Advocate Attorney
San Mateo, California

In the four years since Dolly the cloned sheep was born, scientists have cloned cows, pigs, mice, and goats. Though animal cloning has so far proven inefficient and error-prone, two scientists recently announced that they want to clone humans to help infertile couples become parents. In this hour, we'll talk about human cloning, and whether it's possible with today's technology.

-------------------------------
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: http://www.csicop.org/list/

PERMISSION IS GRANTED TO REPRINT OR REPOST ON THE WEB. WE ENCOURAGE TRANSLATION INTO OTHER LANGUAGES. PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS.

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: http://www.csicop.org/si/subscribe/

A New Breed of Healers

From Time at
http://www.time.com/time/innovators_v2/alt_medicine/index.html

By John Greenwald

Call it "alternative," "complementary," "integrative" or "holistic" medicine. Whatever name you choose, such nontraditional therapeutic practices as acupuncture, homeopathy and yoga have become increasingly prominent and provocative parts of the U.S. medical landscape. An estimated 50% of all Americans turn to some type of alternative therapy; three-quarters of U.S. medical schools offer courses in the subject; and even flinty-eyed health insurers are starting to pay for visits to your local herbalist or naturopath.

Faking a hoax

From USA Today at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/2001-04-09-ncguest1.htm

By Michael Medved

Though most criticism of today's TV programs focuses on the exploitation of sex and violence, the medium's single-most irresponsible excess actually involves the shameless promotion of public paranoia.

Consider, for example, the appallingly popular Fox network show that recently attempted to convince people that America's moon landings never took place and that all evidence to the contrary stemmed from a massive, diabolical government hoax.


Sunday, April 08, 2001

Newspaper says 100,000 in city are possessed by the devil

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_220323.html?menu=

A serious Croatian paper claims around 100,000 people in Zagreb are possessed by the devil.

Vecernji, which usually concentrates on politics, says the Catholic church is desperately looking for exorcists.

Quoting an unnamed clairvoyant and a satanic magazine, it warns that 3,000 Satanists will meet later this month and ask the devil to appear.

The paper is advising readers who think they're possessed to see a priest and "make a thorough confession and regret their sins" before they consult a doctor.

It lists symptoms of possession as nausea and tiredness.

Some Zagreb residents are taking the story seriously - others see it as a joke.

One man recently ran into a city centre bar screaming: "I'm possessed!" and ran into the arms of a woman. Everyone in the bar fell about laughing.

But 54-year-old 'Stjepan' warned against ignoring Satan "because the illusion that he doesn't exist is one of his biggest tricks."

Psychologist Mirjana Krizmanic said the articles reflect the need to escape harsh reality - unemployment is over 20%. "It is just a step further from the horoscopes that our newspapers are full of," she said.

The church in predominantly Catholic Croatia hasn't officially reacted to the articles.

Woman sues elders for witchcraft conviction

From Ananova at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_220003.html?menu=

A Ghanaian woman is suing village elders who convicted her for casting an impotence spell on a man.

Janet Tibu, aged 80, is seeking damages from 12 men, including the village chief and a church minister.

At her trial was held in Peki-Avetile, Volta region, she was also convicted of casting a spell on the local herb doctor that made him lose all his money.

At the trial, the herbalist said he was penniless, his crops didn't grow and he'd lost all his patients since the "spell" had been cast.

He said his son, who confessed to being a wizard, told him Mrs Tibu was responsible for his troubles.

Mrs Tibu was fined around 4 in cash, plus a bottle of wine, four bottles of gin and two sheep.

She was also banned from having any contact with her children.

Mrs Tibu says her life has been ruined.

The Ghanaian Times reports that the chief and elders deny the charges.

Father 'to watch Oscar-winner in the spirit world'

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_218482.html?menu=

A Chinese woman is burning a copy of an Oscar-winning film so her dead father can watch it in the spirit world.

Air stewardess Sharon Law says her father passed away before he had the chance to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Chinese belief encourages children to burn earthly possessions for their loved ones to use in the next world.

Paying homage to her father at Beow Hong Lim crematorium in Malaysia, Ms Law, 40, said a paper model of a video player had already been burned for him at his funeral.

She told The Star: "The morning before he died, he casually mentioned how much money the movie was making and I had promised to buy it for him."

OVERWEIGHT and diabetic, Aletha Schweps sought the help of a witch doctor when conventional medical practitioners failed to cure her ailments.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000631269538671&rtmo=LxNhhl7d&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/4/8/wmed08.html

What makes that unusual in South Africa, a country in which millions of people visit sangomas (traditional healers), is that Mrs Schweps is white. Her trips to Soweto would have been unthinkable a few years ago when the life expectancy of a white person in South Africa's largest black township was often measured in minutes.

Now, after apartheid, Mrs Schweps can risk venturing to the crowded shanty district of Orlando West to consult a sangoma. She is one of a growing number of white South Africans who have turned to tribal black medical remedies for help. Mrs Schweps, 60, said: "I was a bit worried when I first went to Orlando West. I had lived in South Africa all my life but never set foot into Soweto or had any idea of what it was really like."

When she arrived at the home of the traditional healer, Nomsa Dlamini, she was taken to the consultation room where cow-tail fly whisks hung on the walls and odd-looking herbs were drying on the ground. Mrs Dlamini then began a traditional treatment for Mrs Schweps by the "throwing of the bones", tossing an assortment of dried monkey vertebrae, coloured pebbles and bones onto a mat. "This is really my stethoscope because the bones tell me everything about what is wrong with a patient and what the cure is," said Mrs Dlamini, who worked as a hospital nurse before retraining as a sangoma.

Outlawed under apartheid, traditional medicine nevertheless continued to be embraced by millions of black South Africans - and now a growing band of white pioneers such as Mrs Schweps. The government began a consultative process in 1998 to draw up an official council of traditional healers, with standards for training and accreditation of the country's estimated 350,000 practitioners.

This was partly in response to the many murders with witch doctor connections. Sangomas are widely believed to cast spells; in some cases, this ends in violence as scores are settled or witches are killed by vengeful mobs. The government's first attempt at regulation became bogged down in disputes between rival groups claiming to represent different types of healers. Last month, it sought to overcome the blockage by launching a nationwide consultation forum.

For Mrs Schweps, Mrs Dlamini recommended infusions made from dried herbs that she had collected from remote parts of South Africa. Within days, her patient reported an improvement. "It was the pain in my legs that was worst but, after the treatment, it got so much better," Mrs Schweps said. "I felt that when I was walking I had two supports either side of me giving me strength."

Mrs Schweps believes that she has not only benefited physically from the sangoma's talents. "Since seeing Nomsa, the horrible dreams that I used to have have gone away so I will continue going even if, in the eyes of some South Africans, that might make me a white witch."