Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
We present, in these pages, a novel theory on Atlantis that will, if accepted, cause a revolution in the fields of archaeology and the human sciences, rendering them fit for the encroaching Millennium. Atlantis was never found because we have all been looking in the wrong places. Realizing that, we started to look for the spot where an entire sunken continent could be hiding itself. Geology afforded the correct, irrefutable answer: down under the South China Sea, that is where. The rest followed quite naturally and, in fact, far more serendipitously than we ourselves could ever have imagined beforehand.
A feng shui expert says the route of a proposed railway won't affect a village's yin and yang.
Dr Patrick Hase told an inquiry the route shouldn't be changed because 700-year-old Ho Sheung Heung village won't suffer.
Dr Hase appeared as a witness for railway developer KCRC who want to build the railway in the Long Valley.
The Government wants it to change the route of the proposed four-mile link as it goes through one of Hong Kong's most ecologically sensitive wetland areas.
Dr Hsui said: "Feng shui is a scientific belief system that has nothing to do with God and the Devil."
According to the South China Morning Post, he said the route wouldn't upset yin and yang forces - but a change would badly affect both the wealth and the health of the village's residents.
A Japanese scientist who shows masterpieces to pigeons says they know their Van Goghs from their Chagalls.
Professor Shigeru Watanabe, of Keio University, says pigeons can understand and interpret complex images.
He thinks his research could be used to develop ways to help people with visual memory problems.
Professor Watanabe says: "This research shows that, at one point in their evolutionary history, avian ancestors and the ancestors of primates were surviving on the same skills. We could use this information to develop ways of treating people with visual memory problems."
He trained around 200 pigeons by showing them images of eight masterpieces on a computer screen.
The Sunday Times says the birds got similar scores to humans in his tests.
Stephen Turoff is a contemporary Healer, Teacher, Priest, Philosopher, Knight, Philanthropist and Mystic about whom stories of strange and wonderful phenomena abound. For a quarter of a century he has been healing people, by the tens of thousands, of all colours, castes and creeds. They flock, from the four corners of the world, to see him at his Danbury Healing Clinic, near Chelmsford, in Essex. Journalists, scientists, politicians, doctors and holy men of many faiths have had to agree that there is 'certainly something different' about this jovial, gentle giant with his gruff voice and permanent cheeky grin. For some, the journey is a pilgrimage; for others, a last chance to be healed. For most, it is certainly an experience which will not be quickly forgotten.
When Stephen works, beautiful pastel lights descend like lightning bolts from the sky into patient's bodies, sacred Ash forms on objects and people in his surgery, towels and sheets turn pink, and messages, finger-written in orange ochre, appear on photographs of saints. But most importantly, in many, many cases, the blind regain sight, the deaf hear, the lame cast away their crutches, diseased organs literally disappear and the sick and suffering are granted relief.
Who is this man who can work such wonders? He is a 16-stone, six-and-a-half foot, midle-aged, Jewish-Christian former carpenter from Brick Lane in London's East End whom many believe to be an instrument of God. His message can be summed up in just four words: 'Love all, serve all.' But if you would like to know a little more read the strange but true story of…
Linda and I are very pleased to report the conviction Friday night of two very vicious mental-health quacks in Colorado.
Connell Watkins, 54, a pioneer in the treatment of "attachment disorder" in children, and her associate, Julie Ponder, 40, were found guilty of reckless child-abuse resulting in death. They will be sentenced on June 18th, and each will receive from 16-48 years in Colorado state prison. In addition, Watkins was convicted on a second felony, criminal impersonation, which carries an additional 12 to 18 months of prison time, and on two misdemeanors--obtaining a signature by deception and unlawful practice of psychotherapy.
During six hours of deliberation, the jury apparently was never in doubt as to the guilt of the defendants on the main charge. On April 18, 2001, the two "psychotherapists," together with two "assistants," killed 10-year-old Candace Newmaker by wrapping her 70-pound body in a flannel sheet, piling on eight pillows and 673 pounds of adults, and leaving her there until she died from lack of oxygen. Her adoptive mother, a pediatric nurse practitioner(!), watched while they did it. A video camera recorded the whole thing.
The two assistants and the mother also face charges and will be tried this fall.
The case has been something of an international sensation because of the videotape of the child's death. It showed the four tormenting the girl during a putative "rebirthing" session. After instructing her to try to come out of her flannel "womb," they then did everything they could to frustrate her efforts to comply, blocking her movements, retying the ends of the sheet, shifting their weight, and never heeding her cries for help. As Candace literally struggled and screamed for her life, they answered with taunts and chilling encouragements to "go ahead and die." While the jury and the other 65 people in the small courtroom watched and listened to the life ebbing away from a lovely, vibrant, and courageous little girl, all save a few were visibly moved. It was literally enough to make a grown man cry. Tears well up still when memories of what I saw on that tape return unbidden and haunt a quiet moment. I will never be the same as I was before.
That was only Day 4 of the 14-day trial. (Linda and I--and Emily, too--sat there every day and took copious notes through it all.) There was much more to come, and it was, in many ways, even worse. There were 10 more hours of videotapes of this child enduring hitherto unimaginably cruel, degrading, and frankly disgusting practices in what were called "holding" sessions. In just one two-hour session, for example, Candace had her face grabbed, with enforced eye contact, 90 times, had her head violently shaken 309 times, was screamed at just inches away from her face 68 times. The "therapy" sessions were all like that, with just variations on the theme. In another, for example, she had her mother lay on her for an hour and 42 minutes, and had her face licked some 21 times; in another, she had her treasured long hair hacked off into a short, ragged mop; in still others, she was required to kick her legs in scissors fashion unto the point of exhaustion. There were numerous periods where this naturally energetic 10-year-old was required to sit absolutely motionless for 10, 20, and 30 minutes at a time. Indeed, the last image of Candace we were shown in the courtroom was of her sitting cross-legged, staring blankly at the camera, her face, though still lovely, showing nothing of the smiling, apparently confident girl seen in her fourth-grade class photo. At the last, hers was the face of a torture victim. That image, too, haunts me daily.
Testimony given by the defense, including that of the defendants themselves, admits that such holding "therapy" has been going on for a decade or more, has gone on despite Candace's fate, and will undoubtedly continue by others. It has taken an actual death for these culprits to be subject to the criminal penalties they now face, but they well deserve the maximum 48 years' prison time alone for the abuse and indignity they visited on hundreds of children before Candace.
Reluctantly looking past Candace's specific fate, the testimony in this case has revealed much about the particular quackery that tortured Candace. In the beginning, there is the phony diagnosis of "attachment disorder" and the unrealistic expectations of hopeful adoptive parents. Then there are the hopelessly unscientific, intellectually vacuous, ethically bankrupt, and pervertedly sadistic beliefs and practices collectively called "Attachment Therapies." Next there is the motley collection of egomaniacs, sociopaths, charlatans, wannabees, failures, and hangers-on that comprise the community of "Attachment Therapists". And in the end, there is the network of public and private social agencies, licensed and unlicensed social workers, self-promotional workshops and conferences, pseudo-professional cross-referrals, private clinics and residential facilities that sucks desperate (or unrealistic) parents and their children into its maw using fear, hype and hope. The evidence in this case shows there was a pipeline feeding North Carolina children to Evergreen, Colorado, for victimization. Our independent investigation suggests that there are others with different intakes and outlets.
The prosecutors in this case, Laura Dunbar and Steve Jensen, did a superb job, both in and out of the courtroom. I cannot imagine how Candace could have had better advocates. I want to note especially how they made the case into an exemplar for handling pseudoscientific offerings of evidence. Whenever the defense tried to introduce testimony about the "efficacy" of the methods used on Candace, they were blocked because there was no scientific validation. When the defense finally got someone accepted as an "expert" on psychology, the prosecution made mincemeat of his testimony regarding validation and scientific support for the practices at issue. And when the defendants testified that they used therapies without scientific basis for doing so, the prosecution went right for the jugular and used their own codes of ethics which require scientific validation of their practices. Whenever a witness would admit a procedure was unvalidated, then the prosecution would accurately label it experimental, and question the ethics of conducting experiments on unwilling children.
In particular, the following exchange was common in the courtroom:
Defendant: I use this because it works.
Prosecutor: How do you know it works?
Defendant: Because I've seen it work.
Typical quacks. They don't have to wait for science, or go through all that hard work of collecting valid evidence for their practices. They've had the epiphany, they've seen the results. That's good enough for them.
Some commentators have noted the arrogance of the two defendants, particularly in their own testimony. They "knew" what Candace's real problem was. They just "knew" what she needed to get better. They "knew" her cries were lies or manipulation. They just "knew" she had enough air to breathe. Other commentators noted the ignorance of the defendants repeatedly demonstrated by the evidence. Personally, I think they revealed themselves as having the hallmark of every quack: the arrogance of ignorance.
The prosecutorial pursuit was a delight to see. During summation, both prosecutors accurately pointed out that this was a case of "ends justifying the means," rife with pseudoscience, and prejudicial to the health and welfare of the children (victims). The defense necessarily had to let these charges go unanswered.
A couple of related questions rang out loudly, especially in summation: Has a child no right to self-determination and dignity? Is it ever right to torture a child? Given the horrors found in the direct evidence about this crime, it probably wasn't necessary for the prosecution to raise such questions. Linda and I had their ears in a very minor way and prodded them to do so, but it was their own humanity, we think, that tugged them to go the extra way. We are gratified that they raised all the right questions. We are also gratified that the jury answered those questions in just the right way.
Yrs, Larry Sarner
"Rebirthing verdict may curb restraint therapy" -- Denver Post 4/22
"Rocky Mt. News story on verdict" -- Rocky Mt. News 4/21
Sheppard Krech III. The Ecological Indian. Myth and History. New York: Norton, 1999. vi + 318 pp. Notes, index. $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-393-04755-5.
Reviewed for H-AMINDIAN by Adrian Tanner , Department of Anthropology, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Indian History and Environmental Myth.
Recently a student told me he thought he was of aboriginal descent. I asked what group he was from, but he said he did not know, since none of his relatives identified themselves as aboriginal. However, he said he had always felt particularly close to nature, and so concluded he must be Native. As it happens, he could well have been since, starting about a century ago, some Newfoundland Mi'kmaq hid their ethnicity, even from their own children, to avoid discrimination. But what of his idea that being 'close to nature' is a mark of being of Native descent?
Sheppard Krech III's book _The Ecological Indian_ sets out to probe the basis and historical validity of the idea that people of native descent are, and always have been, caring towards the environment, a characteristic commonly claimed by or attributed to them. With a series of empirical case studies he investigates whether their ideas and actions were always those of ecologists and conservationists. He finds that the Ecological Indian proposition is of doubtful validity, concluding that, for example, Indians needlessly killed many buffalo, set fires that got out of control, and over-exploited deer and beaver for their skins.
This book is handsomely produced, and well-written by a respected scholar who draws on an enormous quantity of interdisciplinary sources and diverse lines of thought. While, as will become clear below, I am sceptical about its thesis, the work covers many important issues and I, at least, found it instructive to trace the author's endeavour, despite the shortcomings, on which my review will concentrate.
In his Introduction, Krech examines the beginnings and development of the notion that Indians are by nature 'ecological'. Most of these sources are not aboriginal people, but the likes of Baron de Lahontan, James Fenimore Cooper and Ernest Thomas Seton, all drawing upon the 'Noble Savage' ideal. In fact only two aboriginal people are cited in this section -- the nineteenth century Dakota Sioux author Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) and the Lakota holy man Black Elk (along with a cursory footnote allusion to Chief Seattle). Not until the book's Epilogue does the author turn his attention to self-attributions of the image by several native authors, most appearing after 1970, and often in the context of political disputes.
The bulk of the book consists of seven self-contained test cases, each of which deals with different groups, three of them involving prehistoric situations, and the other four historical ones. Each of these cases is well known to specialists, having been the subject of much scholarly controversy. Krech provides a detailed and generally even-handed review of these debates, along with additional data and his own conclusions.
In the first chapter Krech asks if over-hunting by Paleo-Indians was responsible for the extinctions of various large mammals during the Pleistocene era. He presents the position of Paul Martin, who concludes Paleo-Indian hunters caused these extinctions, along with that of his critics. However, both arguments seem to me based on a great deal of unwarranted speculation. While Krech is unconvinced by Martin's position, he is not sure that Paleo-Indians were entirely free of any responsibility. But, given the very distant lineage that may connect Paleo-Indians with modern aboriginal people, one wonders about the relevance of this case to the issue being addressed in this book.
The next case also seems to me to be of questionable relevance. Krech asks if the prehistoric Hohokam's irrigation practices caused salination of their fields, leading to their disappearance. He offers the contrasting views of two authors, Bernard Powel and Emil Haury. The issue between them is whether the Hohokam should be condemned for the ecological problems arising from their system of irrigation agriculture, or admired for its achievements, which are compared to the negative effects of more recent settlement by non-natives of this region of southern Arizona. Krech delves into the considerable complexities of the case, but does not resolve this unanswerable question, acknowledging that it is not known what finally happened to the Hohokam.
One aspect of The Ecological Indian is based on the notion that North American aboriginal people looked after their environment, so the first Europeans found the continent in an unspoiled condition. Krech's next chapter questions this. He notes that several authors have revised upward earlier prehistoric population estimates and, as a consequence, have increased their assessment of the post-contact population decline. Krech suggests that, apart from along the East Coast, many initial European reports of a pristine environment came after the aboriginal population had declined, so that the newcomers would have arrived in an environment that was no longer supporting its previous larger population. The land would have thus by then returned to the more natural state that the newcomers described. (In the next chapter he further discredits the idea of a 'pristine' proto-contact environment, suggesting that Europeans were predisposed to find the wilderness they described, regardless of evidence to the contrary.) But in the end his convoluted argument fails to offer any real indication of a pre-contact environment that was other than the pristine one the newcomers described.
In the next chapter, Krech asks whether the Indians were acting with environmental responsibility in their deliberate setting of forest and brush fires. The extensive literature on this topic shows that Indians in all parts of the continent used fire to modify their environment, serving a wide variety of purposes. While in some instances this was done to improve hunting, he shows that fires were also set during wars against trespassing groups, both whites and other Indians, and for communication with other Indians. Many authors believe they did so with sufficient skill that fire generally benefited the environment. But Krech refers to several settlers' anecdotes about Indian-set fires that got out of control. However, it does not seem to matter to Krech if such mistakes were by Indians in unfamiliar territory, due to post-contact dislocation.
In the last three chapters the author examines whether Indians over-hunted, respectively, the buffalo, the white-tailed deer and the beaver. All these species were used aboriginally for subsistence, and after contact they continued to be sources of subsistence food at the same time as they provided market commodities. Krech thinks the commercialisation of deer and beaver hides lead to their overexploitation, but he also believes Indians were wasting buffalo even when the species was being hunted only for subsistence.
For me, this chapter provides the book's most serious challenge to The Ecological Indian. While Indians had uses for every part of the buffalo, their practice of slaughtering whole herds, at a buffalo jump or in an enclosure, sometimes produced more carcasses than a group could possibly use. As a result, waste occurred. He documents instances of Indians leaving animals to rot, utilising only the cows, or taking only the tongues and the humps. However, the overkilling did not cause the extermination of the species, which only came after non-Indians and Metis hunted them commercially for fresh meat, pemmican and hides.
Krech proposes two 'religious' reasons for the earlier over-killing. It was believed (by the Piegan and Cree) that any buffalo that escaped while being rounded up in the hunt would warn other buffalo, who would then avoid hunters, so that it was necessary to chase and kill these escapees, whether they were needed or not. Other Indians (specifically the Cheyenne and Arapaho) believed that when hunters were unable to find buffalo it was because the animals had retreated to a land underneath a large lake, from which they would eventually reappear in endless numbers. Krech concludes that, given these beliefs, the Indians did not see overhunting as a cause of any shortage of animals or the need to conserve.
The next chapter concerns the white-tailed deer. Between about 1670 and 1800 the skins of these animals, previously the major subsistence species for Indians in the Southern and Eastern United States, became their main item of trade with Europeans. Deer were hunted in increasing numbers, in part, according to Krech, to satisfy the Indian's craving for alcohol. By the end of the period deer were scarce or locally absent, which Krech concludes was due to overhunting by Indians. The population did not recover until many years later.
While Krech acknowledges the trade in deer skins occurred during a period of intense disruption, he does not see that dislocation and warfare resulting from European settlement may have rendered the Indian's conservationist practices ineffective. Instead, as with the buffalo example, he explains the willingness to overkill deer by reference to the pre-Christian spiritual beliefs of the tribes of the region. He notes, for instance, that the Cherokee believed in the reincarnation of deer, some of them believing this could recur four or seven times. From this he concludes that conservation would have made no sense to them.
The final substantive chapter is about the beaver, an important subsistence food source for prehistoric northern Indians, and later a mainstay of the fur trade. Their sedentary existence made the species especially vulnerable to overhunting, particularly with the introduction of steel traps. Beaver eventually did become extinct in some regions such as New England, although generally in areas where they were never particularly numerous. For the subarctic Indian Krech blames overhunting for causing reported declines in beaver populations.
However, there were other factors Krech does not sufficiently take into account, like incursions by foreign Indians and cutthroat competition, that would have undermined local conservation efforts. Also, since beaver meat was eaten, they were harvested more intensely if other game were at the low end of their cycles of abundance, something neither Indians nor traders could control. Beavers were also subject to epidemic disease.
Krech explanation of the overhunting focuses on ideology, saying Northern Algonquians (i.e. forest Cree, Ojibway and Innu) only showed interest in "today's conservation ethics and practices" in the nineteenth century (p. 206). He notes that in this recent period Indians used family hunting territory to conserve beaver, while traders' tried to influence their ideas of conservation. However, Krech does not take adequate account of the evidence that Indians made their own strategic decisions.
Krech thinks Indian spiritual ideas account for their purported failure at beaver conservation. He says Algonquians believed the bones of animals were set aside to be reincarnated, so that they could not be over-hunted. Algonquian non-Christian religious ideas "apparently had nothing to do with waste and conservation of animal populations until recently" (p. 204). I, however, contend that Algonquian religious ideas support conservation strategies, by providing a moral basis for human-animal relations, beyond the pragmatic one. But these strategies also depend on their ability to control their lands.
Initially, the target for Krech's book seems to be the use by Madison Avenue and Hollywood of the Ecological Indian image. But in the Epilogue he sets his sights on modern Indians, both those who attribute to themselves ecological sensitivity, mainly in the context of political fights over resource issues, and those who in his view engage in environmentally questionable activities, despite the image. He sees a disjunction between the Indian's environmentalist image and their historical practices. "Their actions, while perfectly reasonable in light of their own beliefs and larger goals, were not necessarily rational according to the premises of Western ecological conservation." (p. 212).
In his analysis Krech privileges Indian religious ideologies over their environmental knowledge. Virtually any game shortage is used to challenge the Ecological Indian, as if, for the image to be genuine, they would have had to avoid all environmental uncertainty. Anthropologically, Krech's view of Indians seems curiously old-fashioned, presenting them as poorly adapted, without practical knowledge of sustainable production, motivated instead by irrational beliefs. By contrast, most ethnographic field studies of non-western peoples by scientifically trained participant-observers conversant in the local language reveal adaptations that involve rigorously empirical knowledge of the environment, however nonrational their other beliefs may appear.
There is unintended irony in the author's evaluation of Indian actions against "the premises of Western ecological conservation". As Krech himself notes, the modern rhetoric of aboriginal environmentalism involves a critique of North American society over environmental issues. From the start the image of the Ecological Indian entailed a (sometimes-implicit) comparison and criticism of non-Indians. From the Noble Savage to the Ecological Indian, these are indictments of non-native society, particularly its treatment of the environment. In the societies where the premises of ecological conservation originated and where they are paid lip service, the record of successfully following them is less than inspiring. If Indians lacked these ideological principles, it is questionable if they fared any the worse without them. Given the comparative aspect implicit in the Ecological Indian image, I wonder why Krech did not frame the image's empirical tests by means of comparisons with the equivalent impact on the environment by the activities of the newcomers? Then he would not have just asked whether Indians were environmentally sensitive, but whether they were more or less environmentally sensitive than non-Indians.
Whether or not Indian groups historically acted with environmental responsibility, the contemporary claim that they are, by their nature and heritage, 'ecological' is also part of their counter-hegemonic political ideology. Another study that has looked for the origins of 'Mother Earth', a concept related to that of the Ecological Indian, concludes it first appeared in the context of nineteenth century aboriginal political discourses with whites (Gill 1987). Krech's data seem to concur with those of Gill that it was relatively recently and by comparison to whites that they began to explicitly attribute 'closeness to nature' to themselves.
Krech questions the Ecological Indian as a particular interpretation of the past. A more useful approach would show it to entail an essentializing of a socially constructed primordial identity. As such, it is an assertion of the group's collective self-identity based on a common past, real or imagined (or both), and serves to unite and unify. These are all features characteristic of ethnic group nationalist movements in general, found today in innumerable and multiplying discourses around sub-state ethnic identity (see, e.g. Wilmsen and McAllister 1996).
Krech gives this perspective passing recognition and acknowledges it is an illusion to privilege any one version of history as objective. Yet despite these admissions he thinks it more important to discredit the claim, asserting that "it seems unwise to assume uncritically that the image of the Ecological Indian faithfully reflects North American Indian behaviour at any time in the past." One of the reasons he gives for challenging the image is that it denies variations between Indian groups (p. 26). However, throughout his book he accepts at face value the idea of the homogenised pan-Indian as the subject of the image that he wants to test. Otherwise, he would have limited the results of each of the seven case studies to only the modern descendants of the respective tribal groups.
The test cases each draw on prehistoric or historic data from times when North American aboriginal people's most important identities were diverse among themselves and tribal. However, the image of the Ecological Indian is part of a more recently constructed unified pan-Indian identity. Today pan-Indian unity exists alongside tribal diversity, the one emphasising commonality while the other continues to recognize difference. Krech's test cases only take account of one side of this complex reality, and ultimately hardly seem relevant to the issue of invalidating a pan-tribal conception.
The kinds of claims made about ethnic identity are not appropriately treated as hypotheses put forward as historically verifiable, which is how Krech deals with the Ecological Indian. Whatever their self-conception, simply by being non-industrial Indians were comparatively 'ecological', at least if left to their own devices. However, this study missed the chance to contribute to an understanding of the image, for instance, by showing that if the Ecological Indian is a social construction, it was constructed partly by, and by reference to, the colonizers, as part of an ongoing political dialogue. The image of the Ecological Indian also asserts moral superiority, an understandable response of a relatively powerless group in the political context of struggles over land and resources. Unfortunately, Krech's failure to adequately take account of the political context of Indian environmental discourse means his book may play into the hands of reactionary and racist interests and prejudices opposed to aboriginal rights.
Gill, Sam D. 1987, Mother Earth. An American Story. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
Wilmsen, Edwin N. and Patrick McAllister, 1996, The Politics of Difference. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
Copyright (c) 2001 by H-Net, all rights reserved. This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and the list. For other permission, please contact .
Vancouver, British Columbia
Friday 20 April 2001
Bigfoot loses biggest fan
John Colebourn The Province
Gerry Kahrmann, The Province
Rene Dahinden has died at age 70, without ever nabbing his prey. If a big, hairy beast shows up at the wake for Rene Dahinden -- hide the beer.
It was three years ago during a monstrously successful Kokanee beer commercial that B.C.'s most famous Sasquatch and Bigfoot hunter had a case of cold ones scooped from his trailer while he talked away to the camera.
Typical of Dahinden's 45 years of tracking down the big beast, it was one big step ahead of its hunter.
The near-sighting of the mythical creature in the award-winning beer commercial gave a rare, humorous look into Dahinden's mission in life.
Ironically, after years of lonely backcountry slogging with camera in hand, it was the beer commercial -- not finding the monster -- that brought him his moment of fame.
Last night, Dahinden's son Erik went through his father's endless amount of memorabilia that he kept in his trailer in Richmond.
"He was quite a character," Erik said of his father, who died Wednesday night at the age of 70 after a short illness.
"He chased Sasquatch and Bigfoot -- that's all he did for the last 45 years," said Erik.
Other than cashing in on the Kokanee commercial, Erik said his father never made much money chasing the beast.
Dahinden did write two books with Don Hunter on the beasts, and he had the film rights to some Bigfoot photos.
Even Dahinden said he sometimes was skeptical of what he was tracking.
"I have my doubts all the time about what I'm doing," he wrote in his book.
"I've always had them. It's a lonely place to be, on one side of the fence with the rest of the world on the other side. But it's where I have to stay."
Funeral arrangements are not yet finalized. http://www.vancouverprovince.com/
See also: http://www.lorencoleman.com/obits.html
For a website that explores "intelligent design" and takes apart Behe's arguments see:
In a message dated 2/11/01 1:05:03 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Flying Saucer Review, Volume 45/4, Winter 2000, pp. 24-25
The Curious Utterances of the Vatican's Monsignor Corrado Balducci. by Gordon Creighton
This important Catholic prelate was already well known for his previous statement, some time ago, that he believed in the presence of alien intelligences interacting with planet Earth.
What is probably much less well known however is the fact that he is the Vatican's senior Exorcist and Demonologist - and this makes some of his latest remarks and observations surprising - to say the very least!
At the Second Ancona Ufological Congress, on April 17, 2000, the theme for discussion was "ALIEN CIVILIZATION: BETWEEN DOUBT AND REASON", and he gave an extensive interview there, expressing his opinions very clearly.
He stated emphatically that of course the Aliens and their vessels do quite definitely exist. On a number of occasions he had already voiced the highly intelligent view that, in between Man and Angels, there absolutely *must* also exist a considerable gamut - a great HIERARCHY of various other grades or levels of beings - and these might well be the "Aliens" now under discussion. From the theological point of view, he emphasised, there could be no doubt about that.
[Let us not forget either that in the Old Testament and other Jewish religious texts the talk is not merely of "Angels" (Malakheem, but also of other categories of celestial beings - such as Cherubeem and Serapheem. With my limited knowledge of Hebrew I have so far managed to find out very little indeed about these or any other categories of celestial beings in the old Hebrew Pantheon, and if anyone can help me on my way to learn more I would indeed be most grateful. I suspect that the old scholars and sages may have recognised even more than just these three grades of "Celestials". G.C.]
One good place to start might be C.S. Lewis' last book, The Discarded Image. It's a good summary of the knowledge handed down to the Middle Ages about the Hierarchies of Being above and alongside Man, the 'long-livers', the beings between Angels and Man, etc.
THANKS TO: THE ANOMALIST
FOR THE SOURCE OF THIS STORY
COPIED FROM: THIS IS LOCAL LONDON - APRIL 20, 2001
On the level with spiritualists
From the Lewisham News Shopper
Gravesend, April 20th: It's not about sitting in the dark and calling up the dead, discovers Emma Coutts-Wood who met two mediums who say spiritualism is not a cult, nor is it spooky.
I must admit I found it a little spooky when I arrived ten minutes late for my interview with spiritualists Chris Connelly and Kathy Rayfield and they told me they knew I was going to be late.
Kathy Rayfield, an everyday spiritualist But once I sat down and started talking to the two mediums, they seemed professional and my prejudices soon disappeared.
Chris Connelly and Kathy Rayfield from Gravesend have been working together as spiritualists for two years and have held services in churches in Kent and Essex.
Spiritualism, or mediumship, is the ability to communicate with loved-ones, family and friends in the spirit world.
Both Chris and Kathy are passionate about spiritualism and want to improve its image.
Chris, 28, said: "Unfortunately, spiritualism has a bad name because of the number of rogue mediums. We don't make any money out of spiritualism but the few bad apples spoil things for the rest of us."
"Another misconception is that it is spooky'. When people tell me that, I tell them their relatives were not spooky when they were alive, so why should they be when they are dead."
I put it to them that some people say spiritualists are too vague when they give information about a dead person.
Kathy said: "Proper spiritualists have had training and when they communicate with dead people they can often get specific details such as car registration numbers, telephone numbers and addresses.
"Qualified mediums will admit when they don't have that much information and wouldn't dream of making anything up."
Asked if they had always been spiritualists, Kathy, 57, said her mother had possessed the gift of second sight.
And while growing up there were times when she, Kathy, would be frightened of going into a room if she was sensed something. She became a healer and then eight years ago decided to do a mediumship course.
Of the two, Kathy is the more experienced medium and she has taught Chris a lot about spiritualism.Chris said when he first went to a spiritualist church, with a friend, a few years ago, he was sceptical.
But he soon had cause to think again. He said: "I couldn't believe it when I got a message from a medium about my grandfather and it was not general information.
"I then became curious about spiritualism and joined a development circle.
"After three weeks, I got a message about somebody and I realised I had the gift of mediumship."
Chris and Kathy say the decline of orthodox religions has created a place for spiritualism in the 21st century.
They also say many people have mediumship abilities and do not realise it.
Chris said: "We are living in an age in which orthodox religions have lost their impact and any religion which can overcome this influence has to be scientific which spiritualism is.
"Mediumship has proved more than other religions that there is definitely life after death."
Kathy and Chris are holding a mediumship course over the May bank holiday (May 4, 5, 6). Call 01474 355034 or 07890 472526. And if you live in south east London and want to visit a spiritualist, call Angela Baillie on 07899 947531.
No skeptic's library is complete without these gems.
Rob Beeston of the Central Iowa Skeptics has created a nice looking CSICOP Desktop image which is available for downloading at:
Check it out and consider making it a part of your desktop rotation.
Scientists who want to study the ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man contend the Clinton administration improperly tried to prevent their research to avoid a messy debate over how the first inhabitants of North America arrived. The government allowed "inexcusable" contacts between White House staff and members of five American Indian tribes who sought to bury the skeleton, documents filed in federal court Monday to support the scientists said. The scientists argue that the decision to hand over the bones did not meet requirements of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act because the government cannot prove the bones belong to any living tribe.
Here it is. Enjoy!
As you enter the Hall of Records you will find great wonders awaiting you
According to ancient Chinese legend, over one hundred pyramids discovered in China are the legacy of extraterrestrial visitors.
At the turn of the century, two Australian traders happened upon a vast area in the plains of Qin Chuan, Central China. There they discovered over one hundred pyramids. When they asked the custodian of a local monastery about them, they were told that, according to records housed in the monastery, the pyramids were said to be "very old". Since the records were themselves over 5,000 years old, one can only guess at the age of the pyramids themselves.
The traders were told that the pyramids belonged to an age when the "old emperors" reigned in China, and that the emperors always stressed the fact that they did not originate on Earth. Rather they were the descendants of the "sons of heaven, who roared down to this planet on their fiery metallic dragons". The traders were told that the pyramids had been built by visitors from outer space.
Spontaneous Human Combustion is a phenomenon where a living person suddenly bursts into flames for no apparent reason. The first reported case was thought to have been in 1763. A Frenchman named Jonas Dupont published a collection of Spontaneous Human Combustion cases. The belief in SHC continued on well into the 1800's, Charles Dickens used SHC in his novel "Bleak House" to kill off a character. It was generally believed in the 1800's that SHC was caused by alcoholism. They believed that the accumulation of alcohol in the body tissues would dramatically increase the combustibility of the body. It was also thought that the body metabolized alcohol to produce hydrogen and other inflammable gases which were then stored in the body tissues. A spark produced by the body's own electricity would then ignite the body. However as more knowledge of the metabolism of the body was discovered this theory was soon dismissed as they discovered that you would die of alcoholic poisoning before you would get to the stage of being saturated with alcohol.The public interest in SHC lost all it's appeal until 1951 when the Reeser case became public knowledge.
By Michael McMillen
No.68 9-15 March
I recently had occasion to travel an interstate highway I had driven many times before. Over the years I had noted numerous details of topography, iconography and architecture. What I had failed to observe was a gap between exits 12 and 14. (As these are downtown exits that I seldom use, my ignorance is somewhat understandable.) It but recently dawned on me that the state's highway planners had avoided building an exit 13. At first this amused me. Then it annoyed me. For a moment I mused on how silly it was to omit exit 13, and then I realized that as superstitions go, this one was mild in comparison with many recent "innovations" in the field.
February and March 1998 both sport Fridays the thirteenth. Scientific analysis of the allegedly unlucky influence of such days is, of course, precluded not only by the extra- rational nature of the subject but by the relentless string of rotten fortune that has beset the west for the past century. These days, every day seems like Friday the thirteenth with a black cat under a ladder. To say that the 20th century has been an unlucky one would be gross understatement.
Much of the evil plaguing modern man can be viewed as a witch's brew of ancient animism and modern inhumanity. Superstition is one form of supernaturalism. It is not synonymous therewith. Sniffy people with acute anti-Christian prejudices are fond of lumping all beliefs in God and the supernatural under the rubric of superstition. It is hard to imagine how this can be an innocent mistake on their part. The premise of Christianity is that God, who precedes the universe temporally and logically, created the world and set it in motion under the sustaining governance of His laws. Although from time to time, God may choose to bypass His established rules of operation, any such intervention is at His discretion and pleasure. Indeed, according to the Scriptures, the Creator takes a dim view of those who seek to short-circuit His handiwork and find shortcuts across the realm of physical due process.
The practical origins of superstition are found in sorcery, witchcraft and assorted forms of magic. Philosophically, the occult smorgasbord of superstition arises from ignorance, fear and man's desire to get more than he can pay for (a common theme in human history) -- in other words, man's disobedience. We may for purposes of convenience divide this whole mystic mess into two systems: Magic, whereby man invokes paranatural (demonic) forces in order to subvert the laws of nature and gain something he has no business gaining; and Superstition, a means be which man calls upon dark forces to shield him from injury and other evils.
Many modern Westerners pride themselves on being liberated from religious supernaturalism. Nevertheless, the fear of offending inscrutable powers is the emotional signature of the era. Those in thrall to traditional superstition may avoid black cats, throw salt over their shoulder or knock on wood. The contemporary West displays its own menu of such ritual, all of which is designed either to ward off the wrath of the secular deities or to curry favour with them.
Such fetishes are practiced by people who would swear up and down that they harboured no religious or mystical beliefs. These people do sense correctly that there are sinister forces arrayed against them. What makes their reaction superstitious rather than indignant or militant is the endemic fear that these forces foment. We can concede that the root of modern superstition, like that of its ancient and traditional counterparts, is fear of the unknown. Modern man, however, has twisted himself into a perplexing dilemma. Whereas men of the past quailed before that which was beyond their ken, many in the contemporary world dogmatically assert that they can know nothing. Thus, for them, the entire universe is a vast bugaboo waiting to inflict punishment upon them.
Epistemological scepticism leads inexorably to a sense of chronic dread and helplessness. What else could be the result for a being whose basic means of survival is his mind's ability to know and to think? Ironically, many who have yielded to the doleful philosophy of scepticism react to the debilitations caused by that philosophy by adopting the illusion of epistemological omnipotence. I refer to the widespread notion thatsomehoweveryone creates his own reality out of his own mind. This condition of cognitive narcissism is a natural reaction to the desolate blind alley of scepticism; however, it too soon runs squarely into the brick wall of reality.
One of the prime progenitors of the "your reality versus my reality" school of thought was Immanuel Kant. He split the universe into two worlds: the noumenal realm (similar in many details to Plato's world of ideal forms), which constituted rock-bottom reality but which was veiled forever from man's attempts to know it; and the phenomenal realm, where man filters the raw stuff of the world through the lenses of his own sensory organs and distorts it into something uniquely human but worthless as objective knowledge.
As Ayn Rand and the Objectivists have been among the most vocal in pointing out, Kant's intellectual progeny took the initial split and splintered it further. Marx posited a bourgeois reality and logic versus a proletarian reality and logic. Some racialist thinkers went far beyond the constraints of consanguine solidarity and speculated that the races -- often described in terms of one master people and various degrees of declensions therefrom -- inhabited different worlds and perceived reality in accordance with different standards.
These false bifurcations are evident everywhere in today's stifling atmosphere of political correctitude. In fact, they form the volatile fuel for the multicultural movement. Men versus women; heterosexual versus homosexual; the eternally persecuted Jew versus the complacent or beastly gentile; the able-bodied versus the handicapped. The list goes onand it gives rise to tensions, suspicions and conflicts that divert the energies and sap the strengths of everyone they touch.
It is debatable how sincere the spokesmen for these dichotomies are. Adding to the confusion is a rival set of beliefs claiming command over the modern mind. These are the Mysteries of Equality. The hucksters for this cult are more transparently hypocritical. The assertion that all people are equal, in any sense other than legal rights before the law, is blatantly absurd. In spite of that, the high priests and priestesses of egalitarianism constantly urge legislation, intimidation and coercion in order to bring everyone down to the same level of material and cultural well being.
It fazes them not a bit that the very privileges they are claiming violate the rights of other individuals. If called on this contradiction, they fall conveniently back on the plea that their race, socio-economic group, profession, sex or religion has been so oppressed in the past that no amount of forceful reparations can be too much today. With umpteen different groups chanting this, the average citizen begins to feel guilty, uneasyor threatened.
Thus he tends to appease the loudest and most vociferous groups trying to extort special favours and largesse from him. The agitators, meanwhile, are egged on by the intellectual elites and trendsetters. Fashion instead of truth prevails and people learn to mouth the red- button phrases and euphemisms that will make them look sophisticated and thoroughly up to date. The fear of appearing anything other than open to and tolerant of anything looms large in the walking nightmares of modern man.
Of course, even open-ended tolerance goes so far. The one thing intolerable to both the manipulators and the beneficiaries of the modern anti-reality, anti-intellectual con game is sober, unemotional pursuit of the truth. To ward off would-be trespassers in this forbidden realm, the people on top weave a confounding spell whence arise new taboosin the form of coercive legislation and sheer terror -- and good luck charms -- in the form of inexplicably opened doors to unearned wealth and influence.
The symbolism of the new superstition is plastered across the drab, amoral modern landscape: ribbons of diverse hues reflecting sundry causes, rainbows and teddy bears and androgynous icons marking lavatory doors or pointing the lost towards nowhere. I am not sure whether our contemporary governmental masters skip exit 13 when building highways or thirteenth floors when erecting buildings. They probably find it rather a White Anglo-Saxon phobia, and thus one unworthy of their copious efforts at uniform compassion-enforcement. Their superstitions are to be found in compulsory seatbelt usage laws and magical mandatory blood alcohol levels, in the ubiquitous crossed out cigarette symbol and the obligatory "Nutrition Facts" pasted or printed on food packaging.
Modern man, scared out of his wits by himself and the universe, has made the most credulous leap of faith imaginable. He has let his liberty atrophy in the impossible quest for state-sponsored security. The custom of carrying a rabbit's foot for good luck was among the more bizarre manifestations of the old superstition. If the greens have to any extent persuaded people to give up such a gruesome habit they will at least have done some good. Yet, the Recycling Icon that adorns so many of our products is testament to a far more comprehensive superstition. Instead of viewing the world as a place embued with spirits and gods, the devotees of environmentalism see the planet itself as an item worthy of reverence.
Imagine trying to convince a rational species that they owe religious devotion and worship to a big spinning ball of mud, water, strone and fire. It takes some doing to pull off such a caper. For those who push the monster myth of earth worship, there can't be too many Fridays the 13th on the calendar to keep the people in a state of anxious distraction.
UFO Research Queensland is a voluntary, non-profit association established in 1956 to receive, research and record UFO sightings.
UFO Research Queensland's official policy is that there now exists, and has for many years, a large body of well attested sightings that are so unambiguous that the only reasonable inference is that extraterrestrial vehicles are flying through our atmosphere, landing on the ground, and entering our oceans.
As the number of witnesses coming forward who have had sightings and close encounters with UFO's increases across the world, governments can no longer keep UFO's an "X-File" from society.
Aliens have been meddling in our affairs since before the dawn of intelligence on this planet. This is a subject that I have had passing interest for many years. It wasn't till I started looking at UFO Pages on the net. That I really saw how much proof there is .
Major Gordon Cooper to the United Nations: "I believe that these extra-terrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets... Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs." "I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe." ...
We have, indeed, been contacted -- perhaps even visited -- by extraterrestrial beings, and the US government, in collusion with the other national powers of the Earth, is determined to keep this information from the general public.
Victor Marchetti, former Special Assistant to the Executive Director of the CIA, in an article written by him for Second Look entitled "How the CIA views the UFO Phenomenon", Vol 1, No 7, Washington, DC, May, 1979.
This little Web gem starts out with an animated gif picture of the Sphinx which morphs into the Cydonya face on Mars and then back into the Sphinx again. Quite a little Photoshop job.
Don't miss this guy's page explaining why he believes that Bill Gates is the Antichrist.
Eerie news about Bill Gates and Microsoft
Since we're all using Microsoft products here, I thought I'd just let you know these facts...do you know that bill gates' real name is William Henry Gates III? Nowadays, he is known as Bill Gates (III) where III means the order of third.
So what's so eerie about this name?
Ok, if you take all the letters in bill gates III and then convert it into ASCII code (American Standard Code for Info. Interchange) and then add up all the numbers.... You will get 666, which is the number of the beast.
B = 66 I = 73 L = 76 L = 76 G = 71 A = 65 T = 84 E = 69 S = 83 I = 1 I = 1
I = 1 Add these numbers and they equal 666.
Maybe, but take Windows 95 and do the same procedure and you will get 666, too. And even MS-DOS 6.31 adds up to 666.
Still think it is coincidence?
William A. Dembski has written a long tract Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information in which he claims to use information theory to show that so called "intelligent design" is the only explanation of information in biological systems. The bottom line is that he claims that natural selection cannot generate information. This is completely disproven by my paper Evolution of Biological Information. Given that an organism already exists, new information is easily gained by random mutation and selection. The computer simulation, which is freely available, completely destroys Dembski's argument.
NEW SCIENTIST: In Search of God
NPR DIANE REHM SHOW: Evolution Vs. Intelligent Design, Full Audio Available
TIME: The Power of Yoga?
NY TIMES: Girl's Death Brings Ban on Type of Therapy
NEW SCIENTIST: IN SEARCH OF GOD
In Search of God
To read the full text of the article, go to
Are our religious feelings just a product of how the brain works? Bob Holmes meets the researchers who are trying to explain our most sacred thoughts
NPR DIANE REHM SHOW: EVOLUTION VS. INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Listen to the full program in real audio, at
Wednesday, April 18, 2001
10:00 - Evolution vs. Intelligent Design
Listen in RealAudio!
The theory of evolution has been challenged by people who believe for religious reasons that the creatures of the earth were made, not evolved.
Today another group is challenging evolutionary science. They say evolution isn't a scientifically sound theory, and propose an intelligent design "force" has been at work. Two experts discuss these theories and their implications.
William Dembski, associate research professor at Baylor University, and author of The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press) Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education
TIME: THE POWER OF YOGA?
To read the full article, go to
The Power Of Yoga
It bends. It stretches. It turns you into a human pretzel. But can it really cure what ails you? BY RICHARD CORLISS
NY TIMES: GIRL'S DEATH BRINGS BAN ON KIND OF THERAPY
Girl's Death Brings Ban on Kind of Therapy
By MICHAEL JANOFSKY
To read the full article, go to
DENVER, April 17: Standing beside the sobbing grandmother of a 10-year-girl who died last year during unusual psychotherapy that simulates birth, Gov. Bill Owens today signed into law a measure that makes the procedure illegal in Colorado. Mr. Owens called what happened to the girl, Candace Newmaker, so "horrific" that he had been unable to read newspaper accounts of it....
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Born in Switzerland, Rene Dahinden moved to Canada in 1953. Two months after he arrived, he heard about the Sasquatch and within three years was conducting serious research on the hairy primates, sometimes with British Columbia researcher and chronicler John Green whom Dahinden met in 1956. Since then Dahinden conducted numerous field investigations throughout the Pacific Northwest, interviewed many witnesses, and examined apparent physical evidence for the legendary creature.
Dahinden was the first to show the Patterson-Gimlin Film (taken on October 20, 1967 at Bluff Creek, California) of a Bigfoot in the former Soviet Union, and he worked hard to see to it that the film got the scientific attention he felt it deserved. In recent years, with Dahinden's acquiring of the photographic images of the Patterson-Gimlin Film, some of his time was occupied in technical legal and copyright affairs.
His only book, Sasquatch (McClelland & Stewart, 1973; republished as Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Firefly, 1993), was written with Don Hunter.
In the Hollywood Bigfoot family movie comedy Harry and the Hendersons (1987), the Sasquatch hunter, a character played by David Suchet (better known to television viewers through his BBC/PBS Mystery series role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot), was loosely modeled on Rene Dahinden.
Dahinden was open and friendly, entertaining and interviewing researchers from around the globe. He traveled to San Francisco to visit me in 1974, and I was touched by his humor, insights, and encyclopedic knowledge of the field. He will be missed by cryptozoologists worldwide.
Appreciation to Larry Lund and John Green for specific temporal information on Rene Dahinden's death.
DAHINDEN, RENE (1930-2001)
Un du plus grands hominologists de l'ère moderne est mort à 8:40 le PM le Temps de Lumière du jour de Pacifique, le 18 avril 2001, en Colombie Britannique.
Né en Suisse, Rene Dahinden déplacé au Canada en 1953. Deux mois après qu'il est arrivé, il a entendu du Sasquatch et dans trois ans conduisait la recherche sérieuse sur les primats velus, parfois avec le chercheur de la Colombie Britannique et le chroniqueur John Green que Dahinden rencontré en 1956. Depuis lors Dahinden a conduit des nombreuses enquêtes des champs partout dans le Nord-ouest du Pacifique, a interviewé beaucoup de témoins et a examiné la preuve(évidence) physique apparente de la créature légendaire. Dahinden était le premier pour montrer le Film Patterson-Gimlin (pris le 20 octobre 1967 au Ruisseau de Bluff, la Californie) d'un Bigfoot en ancienne Union soviétique et il a travaillé dur pour s'en occuper de ce que le film ait obtenu l'attention scientifique il a estimé qu'il a mérité. Ces dernières années, avec l'acquisition de Dahinden des images photographiques du Film Patterson-Gimlin, quelque chose de son temps a été occupé dans technique légal et des affaires de droit d'auteur.
Son seul livre, Sasquatch (McClelland et Stewart, 1973; réédité comme Sasquatch/Bigfoot, la Luciole, 1993), a été écrite avec Don Hunter.
À Hollywood Bigfoot comédie de film de famille Harry et le Hendersons (1987), le chasseur Sasquatch, un caractère joué par David Suchet (mieux su(connu) aux téléspectateurs de télévision par son rôle de série de Mystère BBC/PBS comme le détective Hercule belge Poirot), a été lâchement modelé sur Rene Dahinden. Dahinden était ouvert et amical, des chercheurs amusants et interviewants d'autour du globe. Il a voyagé à San Francisco pour me visiter en 1974 et son humour m'a touché, des compréhensions(idées) et la connaissance encyclopédique du champ(domaine). Il sera manqué par cryptozoologists dans le monde entier.
Appréciation à Larry Lund et John Green pour information temporelle spécifique sur la mort de Rene Dahinden.
PORT MORESBY (Reuters) - Villagers in the Papua New Guinea highlands killed a woman accused of sorcery with axes, knives and a shotgun, the AAP news agency reported on Thursday.
The agency quoted Chimbu province police commander Superintendent Simon Kauba as saying another suspected witch survived the lynching in the village of Segima.
Kauba said the attack was ``gruesome and barbaric.'' The murdered woman, who was accused of causing the death of a boy, was hacked to pieces and her remains thrown into a river.
Lynchings are common in the Papua New Guinea highlands and are often linked to allegations of sorcery, belief in which remains widespread. Some tribes in the remote mountainous interior still live in very primitive conditions.
Australia's politicians lack sex appeal and are rarely involved in sex scandals because of a missing chunk in their offices, a feng shui expert claims.
Nury Vittachi said studies of the floor plan and compass readings of Australia's Parliament House in Canberra, had found a chunk missing.
Feng shui, a Chinese tradition which began 3,000 years ago, teaches how to create harmony and balance in life through the use of colour, objects and space.
"There's a sort of cutout in the design, which is the area of sexuality in feng shui charts," Vittachi said. "That indicates the politicians in Australia are not very sexy and there are no sex scandals."
Vittachi said Prime Minister John Howard's office in Parliament House and those of his cabinet ministers were located in an area that promised fame.
Howard has a "rabbit" personality, which means he is a tough, strong and unpredictable person who is hard to get to know, Vittachi said.
Vittachi also said he had discovered a negative energy at Australia's acclaimed Opera House, perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour.
He said the building's "sail" design cuts into the harbour at a sharp angle, interrupting the positive feng shui energy from flowing water.
However, Australians are mostly surrounded by positive natural energy from their rain forests, mountains and rivers, Vittachi said.