NTS LogoSkeptical News for 22 May 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Online Scientology critic seeks political asylum


By: Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 19/05/2001 at 19:43 GMT

A couple of weeks ago computer engineer Keith Henson was found guilty in California of a criminal act related to posts he made in the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, which contained obviously comical (all right, Sophomoric) references to targeting Scientologists with a nuclear missile.

The jury convicted him of interfering with a religion -- likely due to his habit of picketing near the cult's properties -- but failed to reach a decision on two other patently idiotic charges brought by Deputy District Attorney Robert Schwarz, who, it is claimed, is either a Scientology dupe himself, or on old Elron's posthumous payroll.

So the jury split 9/3 on Schwarz's charge of terrorism and 10/2 on his nearly equally moronic charge of attempted terrorism.

That's right; a prosecutor -- someone who managed to graduate from a university, then a law school, and then pass the California Bar Exam -- actually brought charges of terrorism against someone joking on Usenet about firing a nuclear warhead at a group of people scattered all over the globe.

We conclude that California must have the slackest educational standards in the world if it can, in good faith, award anything higher than a beautician's license to someone unable to noodle out the obvious absurdity in Henson's comment.

Law and Order
Henson's trial has been roundly condemned as a true kangaroo court affair, with serious irregularities of procedure favoring the prosecution and excluding the bulk of Henson's evidence, thereby virtually shutting down the defense. So it's perhaps no surprise that he was convicted on at least one charge.

On 13 May Henson posted to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup doubts that he'll get a fair sentence as well. "Late last week I talked to Garry Davis, the parole officer who is writing the report for my case. He expressed the opinion that this was more of political case than a criminal one, and that the political pressure to put me in jail was very high," he wrote.

The parole officer reckoned Henson would get something like a year in stir for his conviction on interfering with a religion, which, we'll admit freely, is a serious offence where stiff penalties are entirely appropriate.

But numerous peculiarities in Henson's trial leave considerable doubt about his actual guilt; and calling Scientology a 'religion' really is an awful lot like calling Dunkin' Donuts a 'restaurant'.

Political Embarrassment
So as the handwriting on the wall became legible, Henson skipped to Canada and set up in Toronto. He's since retained a local lawyer through whom he filed for political asylum with the Canadian government.

We're not terribly excited by his chances of seeing the application granted, as the Canadian government stands to gain little from humiliating Uncle Sam in this way.

But Hanson's move, taken as a publicity stunt, is sweet. Here's a guy who hails from a country that bleats about democracy and liberty 'til it's blue in the face, lectures the world on human rights like a scolding nanny at every opportunity, and then convicts a fellow for exercising his right to criticize, protest and picket against an immensely well-heeled, and some say, immensely dangerous, cult.

'Democracy' and 'liberty' in the sunny State of California never looked more like the empty incantations they really are.

And who knows; the Canadian courts may well put political convenience aside and consider Henson's application on the merits. And in that case we think he's got a decent chance of qualifying. He certainly looks to us like someone facing punishment by the state for expressing his beliefs in public. ®

Nessie spell has no 'best before date'

From Ananova at:


A white witch who cast a protection spell over Loch Ness says all future monster hunting expeditions will also be dogged by problems.

Kevin Carlyon says the power of his magic was proven during last month's failed trip by Nessie-hunter Jan Sundberg.

He even says the spell will prevent Mr Sundberg from solving other mysteries elsewhere in the world.

Mr Carlyon, who calls himself the high priest of British white witches, made headlines when he clashed with the Swedish scientist.

Now he has told Ananova that his magic hasn't expired, and warned: "Sundberg may find that the next thing he tries to find will be a complete flop, too, because of that spell."

He was speaking after Mr Sundberg claimed a "business mafia" worked to discredit him in case he killed off the tourist trade.

Mr Sundberg also claimed the witch was hired to make the search look "foolish" - a claim Mr Carlyon and others deny.

Loch Ness businesses deny 'X-Files' cover-up

From Ananova at:


Business leaders around Loch Ness have denied they are engaged in an X-Files-style conspiracy to keep Nessie a mystery.

Monster-hunter Jan Sundberg, who left the loch earlier this month after reports of a "disappointing expedition" claims he has proof of a cover-up. A local businessman, however, told Ananova the claims were unfounded.

Mr Sundberg says the riddle could have been solved 34 years ago but a "business mafia" in nearby Drumnadrochit stopped the search in case it killed off the tourist trade.

Mr Sundberg operates a group called the Global Underwater Search Team (Gust) which looks for mysterious phenomena all over the world.

He claims on his website that during his recent trip to Scotland "unnamed businessmen" had "hired a male witch who would bother us as much as possible, draw away the media attention from Gust and make our search look foolish".

He was referring to Kevin Carlyon, who calls himself the high priest of British white witches and claimed to have cast a "protection spell" over Nessie so the Swedish scientist wouldn't find it.

However, Dick Beach, of the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce, told Ananova: "There is certainly not a conspiracy to stop people finding it.
How can we do that?"

Monday, May 21, 2001

Science academies back Kyoto


A warming world will mean "increased risk of drought"

By BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby

Seventeen national science academies have urged politicians to implement the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

In a joint statement, they say human activities are worsening the problem.

They say the world cannot continue as it is, and everyone should work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And they say they see no reason to doubt the growing agreement on the science of climate change.

The statement is published as an editorial in the current issue of the journal Science (a full list of signatories appears below).

It endorses the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which it says "represents the consensus of the international scientific community".

Unwarranted doubts

It says: "We recognise the IPCC as the world's most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus.

"Despite increasing consensus, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mitigate the risks posed by global climate change. We do not consider such doubts justified.

The scientists say seas will rise

"We support the IPCC's conclusion that it is at least 90% certain that temperatures will continue to rise, with average global surface temperature projected to increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels by 2100.

"This increase will be accompanied by rising sea levels; more intense precipitation events in some countries and increased risk of drought in others; and adverse effects on agriculture, health and water balance.

"It is now evident that human activities are already contributing adversely to global climate change. Business as usual is no longer a viable option.

Small step

"The balance of the scientific evidence demands effective steps now to avert damaging changes to the earth's climate."

The signatories say ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty, would be "a small but essential first step".

President Bush has been widely criticised for saying the US will not implement the protocol, which commits developed countries to cut their greenhouse emissions by an average of 5.2% over the next decade.

Sir Robert May is president of the UK's Royal Society, one of the academies to sign the statement.

He said: "Some people have unjustifiably sought to undermine the work of the IPCC, but governments should be left in no doubt that it offers the best source of expertise in climate change.

"The developed countries have been responsible for more than two-thirds of emissions over the last 200 years, and it is morally right that they should lead the way."

Dissent welcome

Sir Robert told BBC News Online: "The initiative for this statement came from the Royal Society, and everyone we approached agreed to sign it except the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

"They've been asked by the administration to conduct a review of this area, and felt they couldn't pre-empt it. But they'll be making a statement of their own in June.

Despite President Bush, Kyoto "is essential"

"Undermining the IPCC is unjustifiable. For scientists to dissent from mainstream opinion on climate is something one has to welcome - that's how science works.

"But what is unjustifiable is statements from put-together lobby groups funded by people like the oil industry."

Glenn Kelly, of the US-based Global Climate Coalition, told BBC News Online: "We certainly agree that individuals, businesses and government should work aggressively to reduce greenhouse gases.


"But we feel new technologies will have a far greater impact than the Kyoto Protocol could ever hope to have."

Richard Lindzen is professor of meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He told BBC News Online: "To endorse the consensus process of the IPCC borders on the cynical.

"When they say they've asked thousands of scientists about something, they never ask 99.5% of them. And the IPCC operates to lower standards than the NAS."

The prominent British global warming sceptic Philip Stott also questioned the notion that a consensus existed on the future course of climate change.

The Professor of Biogeography at the University of London told BBC News Online: "Recently seven national academies of science spoke out in favour of genetic modification in agriculture - they were vilified; now a rather similar grouping comes out for global warming, but they are warmly embraced.

"This is classic political ecology, the dominant social myth legitimising the science. I am rather sad that [the journal] Science has gone for the myth and not for the complex and little understood science."

The statement in Science has been signed by the academies of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

End of the monkey man?

Funny how arresting hoaxsters makes the reports dry up. From the Electronic Telegraph:


'Monkey man' hoaxers arrested
SIGHTINGS of an ape-like creature known as the "monkey man", which has spread panic across New Delhi, reduced significantly yesterday after police threatened legal action against rumour-mongers. The "monkey man" has been held responsible for the deaths of two people and injuring 60 others after they fell from rooftops and stairs in the hysteria. The police, who have received over 266 hoax calls since the phenomenon started last week, said that these had "considerably decreased" after it arrested a dozen people for spreading rumours about the alleged creature. Anyone caught making hoax calls now faces a six-month jail term or a fine of £77. Rahul Bedi, New Delhi

Sunday, May 20, 2001

Study offers insights into evolutionary origins of life

In some of the strongest evidence yet to support the RNA world—an era in early evolution when life forms depended on RNA—scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have created an RNA catalyst, or a ribozyme, that possesses some of the key properties needed to sustain life in such a world.

The new ribozyme, generated by David Bartel and his colleagues at the Whitehead, can carry out a remarkably complicated and challenging reaction, especially given that it was not isolated from nature but created from scratch in the laboratory. This ribozyme can use information from a template RNA to make a third, new RNA. It can do so with more than 95 percent accuracy, and most importantly, its ability is not restricted by the length or the exact sequence of letters in the original template. The ribozyme can extend an RNA strand, adding up to 14 nucleotides, or letters, to make up more than a complete turn of an RNA helix.

These results, described in the May 18 issue of Science, suggest that RNA could have had the ability to replicate itself and sustain life in early evolution, before the advent of DNA and proteins. The findings will ultimately help evolutionary biologists address questions about how life began on earth more than three billion years ago.

Until almost two decades ago, many researchers thought that RNA was nothing more than a molecular interpreter that helps translate DNA codes into proteins. Then scientists discovered that not all enzymes were proteins—some were made of RNA. Over the past decade, they have developed techniques for producing new ribozymes in the lab, and a series of studies by the Bartel lab at the Whitehead has been lending credence to the notion of an RNA world. Still, none of the ribozymes generated by the Bartel lab or others in the field possessed the sophisticated properties needed to accurately replicate RNA. The finding reported in Science this week narrows that gap.

"Creating a complimentary strand of RNA is a challenging enzymatic reaction because it requires several things to happen at the same time. The reaction must be accurate in incorporating nucleotides based on the template strand, general enough that any template can be copied, and efficient enough to add on a large number of nucleotides," says Wendy Johnston, first author on the paper and research associate in the Bartel lab. Theories about Life's Origins

Theories about the origins of life have long intrigued scientists and lay people alike. "A fundamental question about the origin of life is what class of molecules gave rise to some of the earliest life forms?" says Bartel.

For years, scientists debated this question, some arguing that RNA molecules were the progenitors and others arguing in favor of proteins. "It was a classic chicken-and-egg argument. RNA, like DNA, has the genetic information necessary to reproduce but needs proteins to catalyze the reaction. Conversely, proteins can catalyze reactions but cannot reproduce without the information supplied by RNA," says Bartel.

The discovery in 1982 of ribozymes bolstered the notion that RNA came before proteins, but more challenges lay ahead for evolutionary biologists before they could espouse the RNA worldview. For one, there are only eight known ribozymes in nature—no where near enough to sustain the range of reactions in an RNA world. Furthermore, compared to protein enzymes, ribozymes seemed slow and inefficient as catalysts. So scientists set out to make artificial ribozymes that were more versatile and efficient than the natural ones. If they could create such ribozymes in the lab, it would suggest that natural ones could have existed during the RNA era, but have become extinct since.

Creation and Evolution of New Ribozymes Designing new enzymes is a difficult task, but what researchers can do is make thousands of trillions of RNA molecules, with the hope that one or a few of them can catalyze the appropriate reactions. To identify the few that have the desired properties, researchers subject the huge population of ribozymes to a test-tube evolution—a process of selection and evolution that mimics these processes in nature.

"During the selection process, we look for RNAs that can change themselves in a special way. We can then separate them from RNA that don't change themselves," says Bartel.

In 1993 Bartel and Jack Szostak at Harvard University found 65 novel ribozymes from a search of more than 1000 trillion RNAs. "When we subjected these ribozymes to a test-tube evolution, we found descendants that were 100 times more efficient," says Bartel.

Since then the Bartel lab has been using the test-tube evolution method to gather further evidence for the RNA world. Three years ago, for example, the Bartel lab found a ribozyme that could carry out the type of reaction needed to synthesize its own building blocks.

In this study, the Bartel lab took the approach again of making 1000 trillion random RNAs go through test-tube evolution to find those that could catalyze RNA formation. After successive rounds of testing, the Bartel lab isolated a ribozyme that didn't depend on a particular template sequence but could build a complimentary strand of RNA using information from any general RNA template. In fact, the ribozyme isn't hindered by longer RNA templates and works nearly as well with longer sequences as with shorter ones. This suggests that if efficiency is increased, it may be possible to replicate the entire ribozyme. The ribozyme also accurately matches bases—A to U, and C to G—to the RNA template more than 95 percent of the time, better than any previously isolated ribozyme.

"We will never be able to prove the existence of the RNA world because we can't go back in time—but we can examine the basic properties of RNA and see if these are compatible within the RNA world scenario," says Bartel.

Contact: Nadia Halim

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Tai chi can reduce arthritis pain, pilot study finds

CLEVELAND -- Tai Chi, a gentle form of exercise long practiced in China, can significantly reduce arthritic pain in the elderly, according to a pilot study by a doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

Tai Chi combines meditation with slow, circular motions, making it an ideal exercise for elderly people, says researcher Patricia Adler, an advanced practice nurse with 25 years of clinical and research experience.

"I've modified the traditional form of Tai Chi to accommodate the functional level of seniors," Adler explains. "I've also taught Tai Chi to people in wheelchairs." For her study, which is reported in the "Journal of Nursing Scholarship," Adler randomly divided 16 people -- all age 68-87 and with chronic arthritis pain -- into two groups. One group attended 10 weekly hour-long Tai Chi classes. Members of the control group maintained their usual activities.

After beginning each class with warm-up exercises, Adler taught 16 Tai Chi exercises or postures over the 10 weeks. "Subjects were encouraged to practice daily but not to worry about remembering or practicing all movements," she notes.

At the beginning and end of the 10-week course, she measured the pain levels and health status of study participants using two standard instruments. Weekly, all participants reported their current pain from zero (no pain) to 10 (worst possible pain), which was their Pain Intensity Number Score (PINS).

The severity of pain decreased significantly for the Tai Chi group, but increased in the control group, Adler reports. Over the 10 weeks, the average PINS for the Tai Chi group dropped from 3.25 to 1.75, while the PINS for the control group went from .50 to 1.50. Exercise such as Tai Chi helps reduce arthritis pain by increasing circulation and stimulating repair of damaged joint surfaces, Adler explains. "In addition, it stabilizes joint structure by strengthening the soft tissue support of the joint."

As pain decreases, the arthritis sufferer's outlook on life can improve as well. "Less pain promotes greater physical function of the affected joint and decreases the adverse mental health affects related to living with arthritic pain," Adler says.

Although the benefits of exercise are clear, getting the elderly involved in an exercise class is still a challenge.

"Often older people will not come to class, because they're afraid they're going to fall, they're afraid their needs won't be met, and they're afraid of the pain," Adler says. But when they learn that Tai Chi is gentle exercise that can help their pain, she adds, they become interested. "The social component is very important for the elderly, too," she points out. "If they try to exercise at home, they often times don't have that support."

For her doctoral dissertation, Adler is planning a larger study based upon the pilot project. "Older people in China have been doing Tai Chi for hundreds, if not thousands, of years," she said. "Although we know anecdotally that Tai Chi helps chronic arthritis pain, we don't have the research to substantiate it." She hopes her doctoral study will be a step in that direction.


Co-authors on Adler's pilot study report are Marion Good, associate professor at the Bolton School; Beverly Roberts, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Bolton School; and Scott Snyder, a doctoral candidate in CWRU's Department of Statistics.

Contact: Judith Bailey

Case Western Reserve University

Loch Ness businesses deny 'X-Files' cover-up

From Ananova at


Business leaders around Loch Ness have denied they are engaged in an X-Files-style conspiracy to keep Nessie a mystery.

Monster-hunter Jan Sundberg, who left the loch earlier this month after reports of a "disappointing expedition" claims he has proof of a cover-up. A local businessman, however, told Ananova the claims were unfounded.

Mr Sundberg says the riddle could have been solved 34 years ago but a "business mafia" in nearby Drumnadrochit stopped the search in case it killed off the tourist trade.

Mr Sundberg operates a group called the Global Underwater Search Team (Gust) which looks for mysterious phenomena all over the world.

He claims on his website that during his recent trip to Scotland "unnamed businessmen" had "hired a male witch who would bother us as much as possible, draw away the media attention from Gust and make our search look foolish".

He was referring to Kevin Carlyon, who calls himself the high priest of British white witches and claimed to have cast a "protection spell" over Nessie so the Swedish scientist wouldn't find it.

However, Dick Beach, of the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce, told Ananova: "There is certainly not a conspiracy to stop people finding it. How can we do that?"

Finding sobriety, and saving money, through spirituality

§ Skepticism abounds regarding the role of "faith-based" groups in achieving and maintaining sobriety.
§ Yet treatment programs - both spiritual and cognitive-behavioral in approach - have the same inpatient costs and clinical outcomes.
§ One study found that spiritually oriented programs have lower post-discharge costs and a higher rate of abstinence.
§ Fellowship provided by faith-based groups may be the key.

Addiction treatment, like many other aspects of health care, does not entail a standard, paint-by-number approach. There exists a wide spectrum of treatment options. On one end lies the medical approach, such as cognitive-behavioral treatment. On the opposite end are "faith-based" initiatives such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). A study in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research evaluates the post-discharge health-care utilization and associated costs of these two very different types of approaches.

Inpatient treatment costs and clinical outcomes are approximately the same notwithstanding which of the two approaches is chosen, said Keith Humphreys, assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, and the study's lead author. "We found that the staffing levels, three-to-four week lengths of stay, and costs were fairly similar regardless of the specific nature of the two types of treatment we examined," he said. Clinical outcomes - defined as whether or not the patients stopped using drugs and alcohol, stopped having addiction-related problems such as conflicts at work and/or with their families, and/or enjoyed good mental health (such as the absence of depression, worries, nervousness, emotional upset) - were likewise comparable.

The focus of Humphreys' study, however, was on the care provided in the year after discharge from inpatient treatment, when costs are very different. "Patients with serious drug and alcohol problems who are treated in programs based on the approaches of spiritually oriented self-help organizations like AA," he said, "are more likely to abstain from drugs and alcohol after treatment, and also have much lower health-care costs than do patients treated in programs that do not emphasis AA-style principles." The study showed that the faith-based approach lowers post-treatment costs by about two-thirds, or about $5000 per year per patient.

Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935 by Bill W. (AA members use first names only), requires its members to follow 12 steps of behavior that are based on 12 spiritual principles. Twelve-step oriented treatment programs strongly encourage patients to attend self-help groups after treatment is completed. As a result, these individuals tend to rely on their AA and NA groups for support, and much less on professional counseling services, after they leave the hospital. Cognitive-behavioral treatment, on the other hand, uses more professional and scientific activities such as cognitive skills training and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy to teach people how to contend with situations that may tempt them to drink, cope with negative moods that may lead to drinking, etc. Once treatment is completed, these patients tend to rely more on professional services for support.

"There has always been debate about AA," noted Lee Ann Kaskutas, a research scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at Berkeley. "Medical people have been suspicious more often than not, because they feel AA is unproven, and also because AA has a 'god component' that doesn't make it seem very scientific. Members of AA, people who have become sober there, are at the other end of the spectrum. They are total believers, and they can be heard saying 'there is no easier, softer way' than AA."

Yet despite skepticism by the medical establishment, said Kaskutas, studies such as this one show that treatment methods that emphasize AA methods do not result in high rates of hospitalization or psychiatric visits after treatment. In fact, she said, another of the study's key findings is that patients in programs with a 12-step orientation had a higher rate of abstinence, in addition to much lower health-care costs, following treatment completion.

"You might not think it would have that effect," she said, "because of the non-medical and non-psychiatric flavor of 12-step methods. Dr. Humphreys suggests one thing that may contribute to this effect: during treatment, people make connections with each other, and get advice from one another. So later, if they feel sick or worried, and talk to someone they met in treatment about this, they will likely send that person back to the same type of program where they met. When people who were in cognitive treatment need help, they immediately think of going to the doctor. People [who were] in 12-step treatment immediately think of going to a meeting. Whether or not he is right about [the effects of fellowship] is an area for future research. His study has set up a lot of important questions to pursue next."

"We as a society are fortunate to have a developed system of self-help organizations that do not cost the taxpayer or the health-care system a dime," said Humphreys. "Organizations like AA not only reduce human misery, they also take a big burden off of our increasingly resource-strapped health-care system. Hence, it is important for health care professionals to learn about these organizations and develop connections with them."


The co-author of the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research paper was Rudolf Moos of the Center for Health Care Evaluation and Program Evaluation and Resource Center at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care system, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Strategic Health Group, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.

Contact: Keith Humphreys, Ph.D.

Stanford University School of Medicine
Add'l Contact: Lee Ann Kaskutas, Dr.P.H

Alcohol Research Group
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

What Mozart had and Tracey hasn't


May 20 2001

A rigorous education separates the geniuses of the past from today's 'creative' artists. Will we never learn, asks Roger Scruton

A liturgy of opposites has developed in the theory of education: creativity versus routine, spontaneity versus rules, imagination versus rote-learning, innovation versus conformity. Rousseau's myth of the noble savage, good by nature and corrupted by society, lives on; and in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, educationists go on telling us that children learn not by conforming to some external standard, but by "releasing their inner potential" and expressing their creative skills. Hence rote learning, facts and traditional routines are dismissed as irrelevant.

Children write poetry before they have memorised a single line of it, dance before they have learnt a single step, paint and daub without the faintest knowledge of figurative drawing. They are encouraged to empathise with historical characters, and to express their "geographical skills", without having the first idea of the history and geography of their country. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are downgraded in the interests of creative self-expression.

Imagine an educational guru who told us that nothing mattered in mathematics so much as creativity. Great mathematicians such as Euler, Cantor and Godel were distinguished, the guru tells us, by their imaginative powers. They were able to break through the hidebound rules of their predecessors, to cast aside the ordinary routines of proof, and to take an imaginative leap to conclusions that could never have been reached but for this creative adventure. We should therefore be teaching children to release their mathematical creativity and to value spontaneity against rule-following. We all know what such a philosophy would entail in practice - namely, ignorance.

You can be a creative genius in mathematics only if you have acquired the discipline of mathematical proof. When it comes to the hard sciences, therefore, even educationists seem prepared to admit that discipline comes first, creativity later. They recognise that chemistry taught with a regime of pure self-expression would soon degenerate into alchemy, just as "creative" physics would be hard to distinguish from witchcraft.

Why do we think that things are so different in the case of language, literature, history and the arts? The answer is to be found in the long tradition of woolly thinking that began with Rousseau. On the one hand, educationists believe, there is the objective world of facts, and this we must explore through disciplined learning and the building of theories. On the other hand there is the subjective world of opinions, feelings and artistic urges, to be explored through self-expression.

Any other approach is considered "authoritarian". Grammar, style, art, even history are all alleged to be matters of opinion. Hence the purpose of education is to give children the confidence to express their subjective attitudes to these things - subjective attitudes being all that we have.

Such thinking is contradicted by the obvious fact that self-expression is not innate but acquired: the self, too, is a social product. We do children a great wrong by withholding the discipline, the knowledge and the store of examples that confer the art of self-expression, since, by doing so, we damage the self. The anger of many young people now leaving school is the anger of the inarticulate. The emphasis on the creative act produces teenagers specialising in acts of destruction.

Even in the arts - especially in the arts - the shibboleth of creativity has been counter-productive. Consider Mozart, whose ever-fresh, ever-lucid melodies are among the most original creations of mankind. Mozart did not become a creative genius merely by letting it all hang out, even though he had more to hang out than anyone. He was rigorously and relentlessly schooled by his father, subjected to the ordeal of public performances, trained in the art of memory and in the grammar of the classical style.

Of course, Mozarts are few and far between, but it is all the more reason to be as disciplined as Mozart. With the discipline, there is a chance of being creative; without it, there is no chance at all. Visit a British art school for the finalists' show and you are almost certain to find an array of discarded objects, random cutouts, rehashes of Duchamp's urinal, maybe just an old coat with the artist's name-tag pinned to it - all praised and rewarded for their "creativity", and all as dull and empty as the work of caged chimpanzees.

Hardly an art school in our country now insists on figurative drawing, clay modelling, casting, or the mastery of pigments - still less a knowledge of art history, or an ability to discern just why the planes of a Matisse interior intersect at an acute angle, or the shadows of a Constable are done in yellows and browns.

Of course, artistic ability is not like scientific knowledge: you cannot acquire it merely by diligent study. There comes a point where a leap of the imagination is required. If in music, art or poetry you say something that has already been said, then you say nothing. In Ezra Pound's famous dictum, you have to "make it new", and that means imprinting your words, your notes or your forms with a distinct personality and an inimitable life. What is so striking about the art works produced on a diet of unadulterated creativity is not that they are new and surprising, but drawn from a repertoire of clichés already done to death by the modernists, and now reduced to a routine. That is what the critics ought really to be saying about Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, who produce works of such triumphant dullness as to exert an almost narcoleptic effect on the viewer.

The myth that we are all instinctively creative goes hand-in-hand with the belief in originality as the sole criterion of artistic merit. And, when rules and disciplines are rejected, the only proof of originality becomes the ability to shock or surprise. Nothing that Mozart did was intended to shock his audience, or to surprise them with some outrageous gesture. The originality of his music is inseparable from its rule-guided objectivity. It has a logic and an orderliness that come from the supreme grasp of musical grammar.

Real originality does not defy convention but depends on it. You can only "make it new" when the newness is perceivable, which means departing from conventions while at the same time affirming them. Hence originality requires tradition if it is to make artistic sense.

But what about the rest of us? Why should we, who are not geniuses, acquire the knowledge needed by those who are? This is a difficult question; but it is really tantamount to asking why schools should teach art, literature and music at all. I like to believe that people who acquire artistic, musical or literary skills, but who lack the divine spark, are nevertheless an addition to the common good. We don't go to galleries to see exhibitions of Victorian watercolourists. But their paintings gave pleasure to themselves and their neighbours, and still give pleasure today.

People who have learnt poetry by rote and who know how to compose the occasional sonnet may not revolutionise the consciousness of mankind as Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Baudelaire did. But they are likely to understand what those great writers were saying, are likely to live on a more exalted plane as a result of doing so, and are also able, through their life and example, to make a positive contribution to the great war against Dullness.

Roger Scruton will be discussing What is Creativity? at The Sunday Times Hay Festival on May 30

Saturday, May 19, 2001

Monkey Man joke goes sour for doctor with rubber glove - Ananova Alerting

A doctor has been become the latest participant in Monkey Man mania that has spread across New Delhi.

Dr Narendra Kumar Sagar, from East Delhi, was arrested for allegedly blowing up a rubber glove, throwing it from his window and shouting: "It's the monkey's hand." When a crowd gathered to see the glove, the doctor stamped on it and it burst.

He has been charged with attempting to disrupt public order.

Officers said he hit upon the practical joke while he was dyeing his hair.

They say he inflated the rubber glove he was using to apply the dye, tied it with string and threw it from his second storey balcony on a group of people in the street below.

As they tried to work out what the odd-looking object was, Dr Sagar allegedly screamed: "Bandar ka haath, bandar ka haath" which roughly translates as, "It's the monkey's hand."

Word spread quickly around the Ganesh Nagar district and within minutes crowds had converged on the scene to see the 'Monkey Man's hand'.

According to police, Dr Sagar volunteered to examine the hand. He then stamped on the glove, it burst and, as The Times Of India reports: "The good doctor revealed his cards and went home. But the rumour of the 'sighting' not only did not die down, it spread like wildfire."

The paper adds: "The commotion attracted the police who soon saw through the prank. Dr Sagar told the police he had indulged in it only to teach his neighbours not to be taken in by the Monkey Man myth. The police, of course, did not see his logic and arrested him."

See this story on the web at


Experts unite as British Big Cat Researchers move a Step Closer To Unravelling the mystery.

The launch of the British Big Cat Society will be held on June 23rd and 24th 2001 at The Dartmoor Wildlife Park, in Sparkwell, Devon.

The B.B.C.S. which already has more than 75 members, has been formed to research the increasing number of sightings of Non-native cats in the British Isles and to provide a source of evidence and information for the police, media and Government organisations. The core of the team includes experts on Big Cat behaviour and British Mammals such as Zoo Keepers and Biologists and a support team including a professional Wildlife Cameraman and a British Wildlife specialist.

The B.B.C.S believe this 'unified voice' approach to research and reporting will dramatically increase the understanding of Exotic felines in Britain and allow us to inform the public accordingly. It will also give the public a body of respectable and serious people whom they can inform about sightings and evidence of Big Cats in Britain. The Society's website has a facility to report sightings to the group - and gives detailed information and evidence on the true situation of Big Cats in Britain.


At 1500Hrs on Saturday June 23rd there will be a press conference, during which the strategy of the Societies Research will be explained and in light of the recent London Lynx capture, a talk on the feasibility of Puma, Leopard and Lynx living and breeding in Britain. There will be an opportunity for members of the press to ask questions and view some of the evidence that has come to light over many years of sightings.

Some of it never seen before!

That evening a small team will then move to a site in South Devon, the location of which is being closely guarded, to commence an overnight watch in an area where many Big Cat sightings have been reported recently.

Members of the press will be welcome to interview the team upon their return to Dartmoor Wildlife Park at 10.00Hrs Sunday 24th June, when there will be an analysis of the current photographic and film evidence of Big Cats in the British Isles.

Notes for editors:

For further information please contact:
Danny Bamping,
British Big Cat Society
5 Hillside Ave
Telephone: 01752 664544
Fax: 01752 664547
Mobile: 07831 658492
· Pictures available
· Last year there were over 250 reported sightings
· Approximately 1 in 5 sightings get reported

Daniel M Bamping

Reverse evolution: Journey from man to monkeyman


By Sudeshna Chatterjee

NEW DELHI: Looking back at the origin of the mass hysteria that prevails in low-income group residential colonies in the national capital region, it is amazing how a bunch of mischief-makers have been able to terrorise so many people for so long.

The monkey attack that sparked off a landslide of paranoia in neighbouring Ghaziabad was relatively harmless. A temperamental monkey belonging to the rhesus family scratched and bit a local resident sometime earlier this month. The event was reported in the print media in a regulation single column. It would have ended at that. But on May 12, the pugnacious monkey `metamorphosed' into a human being, thanks to the rumour mill.

The story goes that an autorickshaw driver picked up what appeared to be a routine fare in Kavi Nagar, Ghaziabad. Without any provocation, the passenger attacked the autorickshaw driver, clawing him in the back and then escaped. A leading Hindi daily, reporting the attack, quoted the injured driver as describing his attacker as a magician who transformed himself into a monkey-monster during the ride. That, in retrospect, breathed life into the myth that has now assumed the proportions of a deadly epidemic.

With each passing day the sightings got more bizarre: From a monkey the attacker became part-man and part-monkey; then a tantrik; even a remote-controlled hairy robot, with springy feet and flaming eyes. One person even told the police he woke up one morning and discovered, to his astonishment, a monkey claw in his mouth.

Psychiatrist Achal Bhagat says: ``Often media reports are based on quotes from people. They may be eyewitness accounts but unless their authenticity is checked, they can be misleading.'' There is also the element of people seeking the proverbial 15 minutes of fame that an `eyewitness' attracts from the media.

Social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan says that rumours ``have their own trajectory, their own velocity and die out in time. Media coverage can do little to promote or dissipate rumours.''

The widespread coverage given to rumours was so pervasive that in many instances people were throwing back news reports when asked if they had actually seen the mysterious attacker. For instance, when this reporter went to interview an alleged victim and asked for a description, she retorted incredulously: ``Don't you read the newspapers or watch the news on TV?''

Monkey business getting out of hand


By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
NEW DELHI, MAY 18. The bizarre case of the monkeyman took a new turn on Thursday night when a man was badly beaten up at Geeta Colony in East Delhi and his vehicle smashed by a restive crowd which mistook him for the elusive creature who has spread panic in and around the Capital. In another case, a doctor was arrested by the police for trying to create a scare by throwing out a pair of gloves fitted with nails on the lane outside his home trying to pass them off as ``claws'' of the mythical monster. The police reacted strongly in both cases. Though there were about 80 phone calls from across the city reporting that the monkeyman had been sighted, they were mostly found to be bogus. In only about 10 cases did the police find some injury on the bodies of the complainants. And of these, seven were cases of people sustaining injuries while running for fear of the mysterious figure. Only in three cases were the injury marks attributed to ``claws'' of the ``creature''. At Shakarpur, the police arrested 35-year-old Dr. Nagender Kumar, who works in an ESI hospital, for trying to spread panic about the monkeyman. The doctor was picked up around midnight. A resident of C-615 Shakarpur, he had been dyeing his hair when he suddenly decided to inflate his rubber hand-gloves and threw them out into the lane to terrorise passers-by. Dr. Kumar has been booked under Sections 107/151 of the Indian Penal Code. In another incident, some people beat up a man they ``mistook'' for the monkeyman. Om Prakash, a resident of Shakarpur, found himself at the receiving end of a hostile mob which cornered him in Geeta Colony around 1-15 a.m. The mob stoned and smashed the Mahindra Voyager vehicle of Om Prakash. They then chased and beat up the bewildered man, who was later admitted to hospital. The police have registered a case of rioting and arrested one person. The Joint Commissioner of Police (New Delhi Range), Mr. Suresh Roy, reviewed the situation today with the special team which has been set up to work out the case. Along with the constitution of the team, Delhi's Police Commissioner had on Thursday also announced a reward of Rs.50,000 for anyone providing information unravelling the mystery. Though incidents of actual attacks were few, the police spent the entire night attending to distress calls about monkeyman attacks or sightings. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-East District), Dr. Vivek Gogia, whose area has witnessed most of the mystery strikes, said talks are under way with local residents and market associations and civil defence volunteers as part of efforts to instil confidence in the public mind. Talking of bogus calls, the officer said strict action would be initiated against mischief-makers. At the same time, he asserted that a distinction would be made between mischief and apprehension on the part of the populace.

Ancient Discs & Mongolian Ufologists

Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 12:22:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: Chris Aubeck

Hello to All,

Whilst finishing a piece of writing on ancient Oriental encounter reports I thought I'd ask everyone's opinion about the discs allegedly found in 1938. I was very sceptical of the whole thing until I saw Peter Krassa's photos of them a few years ago, and now I'm only _sceptical_ (without the 'very'). Then there's a book called 'Sungods in Exile' which I read so long ago that all I can remember about it was my own grimace at having wasted my pocket money on such an obvious bag of drivel. I no longer have a copy of it, which is a shame as there's evidently some weird link between all these matters.

What follows is a summary of all I know about the discs. It's not new information, but if anyone wants to copy it and post it to the four winds they're welcome to as long as they include my e-mail address so I can receive some feedback. (I'm aware of a few places on the internet where this topic is already discussed, and even a peculiar "We Are The Dzopa, Welcome To Our Home Page" home page, but I'm sure somebody must be able to add something more substantial to my search.) At the end of my summary I've added a postscript about a similar case I learnt about in 1996.


A controversial finding made in 1938 on the Chinese-Tibetan border adds yet another dimension to the problem of dwarfish beings in Asia. According to the evidence amassed so far by researchers of the case, it seems that an expedition to the region of Baian-Kara-Ula discovered graves in an almost inaccessible cave in which lay the skeletal remains of strange thin-boned beings, just a few feet tall, with over-sized craniums. Next to these were found some 716 mysterious dull-grey discs. These discs each had a hole in the centre which made them look like modern LPs. A series of 'runes' extended out from the holes to the edges of the discs.

Five scientists at the University of Beijing, under the direction of Professor Tsum Um Nui, set about examining the discs and the symbols inscribed on them. After a long and thorough investigation, it was concluded that the symbols conveyed a message of great importance. The 'runes', they said, described spaceships which arrived on our planet some twelve thousand years ago, piloted by a race of beings called the Dropas (or 'Dzopas'). When the Dropas descended from the skies in their flying machines, say the inscriptions, the earthlings fled in fear and hid in caves until they received signs from the visitors that no harm was to come to them.

The study group compared their findings with information gathered by the 1938 expedition, which had collected old folklore from the region. The people of Baian-Kara-Ula had spoken of creatures who once lived in the same area in antiquity, also called Dropas (or "Khams"). The Dropas, they said, were humanoid but hideously ugly and measured no more than 130 centimetres in height. As their name suggests, they were mountain- dwellers (in Tibetan 'drok-pa' means 'men of the mountains'). Unfortunately, the University of Beijing refused to acknowledge the findings and forbade Tsum Um Nui to make the results of his investigations known. The skeletons were officially 'identified' as belonging to an extinct species of monkey, and the discs were simply ignored. Clearly the discovery had been too spectacular, too controversial and too potentially damaging to the dogma of the period. And there was something else: on the cave walls where the discs were found, the expedition came across strange painted images. "Inscriptions were clearly distinguished that depicted the sun, the moon and the nine planets of our solar system, all recorded on the rocky walls. They were pea-sized dots which appeared to show the position of the Earth."

Or at least this is the legend. It has proved extremely difficult to obtain more details, or verify those already accumulated, due to aabeijing University's denial that any of the events here mentioned had ever occurred. Most of the above information has come to us through a Soviet philologist of the University of Minsk, Wjatschew Saitsew, now deceased. The whereabouts of the discs is no longer known, and neither do we know the location of the cave or the remains found therein. The first and last time a European allegedly saw one of the discs first-hand was in 1974 in the museum of Xian, although photos of a couple of the discs have been obtained and published since then by the Austrian researcher Peter Krassa.

It is possible that all or just a part of the story is true. Official denials prove nothing for truths can be just as strongly denied as falsehoods. It certainly seems more than mere coincidence that the remains of the beings described in the original report (if such remains and report ever existed) fit the usual 'alien' profile so well, especially in light of the strong 'little men' tradition throughout Asia. However, so little proof has been forthcoming to support the story that it would be inappropriate to jump to any conclusions at this stage. The subject of UFOs is so steeped in disinformation and error that many years may still have to pass before the truth is finally revealed, if, of course, there exists any truth to be revealed.


In June 1996, in fact not long after giving up on finding any hard data on the alleged 1938 finding, I read a report in a Spanish magazine about certain "extraterrestrial fossils" that had supposedly been found beneath the sands of the Gobi desert. My efforts to trace this new information to its original source failed miserably and I soon realised it was very unlikely there was any substance to it at all. However, for the sake of thoroughness and as a kind of 'postscript' to the Baian-Kara-Ula case, the following is a translation of the short article:

"Extraterrestrial Fossils?

Mongolian ufologists have announced that, underneath the Gobi desert, in an area rich in dinosaur remains, Chinese and North American scientists are concealing the existence of extraterrestrial bodies. The investigators claim that the bodies were photographed by palaeontologists. Among the remains there was a being measuring 1.20 metres in height, with a disproportionate cranium and pointed bones."

I have never met a Mongolian ufologist and am not sure they exist any more than the alien fossils do. But I'd be pleased to receive a reply from one if they read this letter.

Thanks for your time,

Chris Aubeck

mini-AIR May 2001

mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")
Issue Number 2001-05
May, 2001
ISSN 1076-500X
Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the ------------------------------------
A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), the journal of inflated research and personalities


2001-05-01 Table of Contents
2001-05-02 mini-Housekeeping
2001-05-03 What's New in the Magazine
2001-05-04 Technology Transfer
2001-05-05 A Chemical Punch
2001-05-06 Attention Deficit Pecking Disorder
2001-05-07 The Science of G. Bush, Enhanced
2001-05-08 M.M.M. -- The Mystery Continues
2001-05-09 About Last Month's Coded Message
2001-05-10 Jarring Search
2001-05-11 CAVALCADE OF HotAIR: Murray, Hair, and Harold Dowd
2001-05-12 Exceeding The Joneses
2001-05-13 Water For Pinheads Challenge
2001-05-14 Oil on Water
2001-05-15 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Ought Not Snog Dog
2001-05-16 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Tap, Cluck, Line, Shrinks
2001-05-17 AIRhead Events
2001-05-18 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)
2001-05-19 Our Address (*)
2001-05-20 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)
2001-05-21 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

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

2001-05-02 mini-Housekeeping

There will be an AIR show in New York City on Thursday, June 7. Sponsored by an unusual agglomeration of spectroscopists and science writers, it is free to the public. Bring your friends. See section 2001-05-17 for details. Please spread the word.

2001-05-03 What's New in the Magazine

AIR 7:3 (May/June 2001) is a special Physics issue. It will be emerging from the printers very soon now. If you subscribe to the magazine, here are some of some of the articles to prepare yourself for:

...and much, much more.

The cover and full table of contents will be posted any day now at

(What you are reading at this moment is mini-AIR, a monthly e-mail small supplement to the print magazine.)
2001-05-04 Technology Transfer

We received a telephone call from a gentleman who wanted us to put him in touch with 1998 Ig Nobel Prize winner Troy Hurtubise. You will recall that Troy won his Prize for developing, and personally testing, a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears. We asked the caller why he was looking for Troy. Here is the subsequent conversation:

CALLER: I am calling from the island of Martinique. I want to talk with Mr. Hurtubise to ask his advice.

AIR: About what?

CALLER: I am working on something similar to what he did.

AIR: There are grizzly bears on Martinique?

CALLER: Oh, no. no. I will use it for a different purpose -- for martial arts.

We gave him Troy's telephone number, chatted for a while, asked him to keep us apprised of his progress, and wished him luck. We will keep you informed of further developments, if any.

2001-05-05 A Chemical Punch

There has been a novel advance in the chemistry of propellants. Investigator Keith G. Tomazi reports:

"I just came across a novel rocket fuel, as reported on Page 1 of the Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 10, 2001):

The New York City-based Fighters' Institute for Survival and Training, or FIST, helps boxers with life outside the ring. But the group...hopes to become a union for boxers.... That pace sounds familar to Paul Johnson, a Minneapolis ex-boxer. He has tried to get the Boxer's Organizing Committee off the ground for about 12 years....Still, he believes that a union is imminent. "We've got the rocket ship on the pad, we're pumping liquid nitrogen, and we're going to blast off," he says.
"This is one picket line that I wouldn't care to cross. Still, their chemistry seems unusual: I wonder if anybody else has proposed a non-flammable rocket fuel?"

2001-05-06 Attention Deficit Pecking Disorder

The massive effort to map the human genome has gotten much attention -- perhaps much too much attention. This has created an Attention Deficit Pecking Disorder within the research community.

As reported in the March 1, 2001 issue of the New York Times:

To address the imbalance between the state of knowledge in genetics and the behavioral sciences, Dr. Jack Stenner, chief executive of MetaMetrics Inc. in Durham, N.C., proposes a Human Phenome Project -- a concerted national effort to map the ways in which genetic and environmental factors interact to produce life's outcomes.
A remedy is at hand.

We are proud to announce the Attention Deficit Pecking Disorder essay contest. It is open to any social scientist who can write clearly and concisely. Entries must be no more than 35 (thirty- five) words in length. The topic:

Social Scientists are Fully as Able to Categorize and Measure the Things We Are Trying to Understand as Chemists, Physicists, and Biologists are Able to Categorize and Measure the Things They Are Trying to Understand
Please send your entry to: Attention Deficit Pecking Disorder essay contest c/o

The winner will receive an autographed (by somebody) back issue of AIR.

2001-05-07 The Science of G. Bush, Enhanced

Thank you to the many readers sent us citations of scientific research reports authored or co-authored by G. Bush. We are still processing most of them, but have already added some of the most salient items to the list. You can see them at

2001-05-08 M.M.M. -- The Mystery Continues

What's the "M" for? Many have asked, yet still no one knows -- at least so far as we are aware. In last month's mini-AIR, investigator Rick Godin asked the plaintive question:

"What does the M. in Professor Makhlouf M. Makhlouf's name represent? "

Investigator Godin was referring, of course to Professor Makhlouf M. Makhlouf http://me.wpi.edu/Makhlouf.htm, whose cyclic moniker had been mentioned here as an example of a name that is subject to possible moniker reversal.

If someone knows the answer to this difficult question, please get in touch with us. -----------------------------------------------
2001-05-09 About Last Month's Coded Message

Last month's unbreakably coded message proved to be unbreakable. We have no idea what it said.

2001-05-10 Jarring Search

Several years ago we saw reference to a book titled "Men Who Made Fruit-Jar History." We have tried, tried, tried, thus far unsuccessfully, unsuccessfully, unsuccessfully, to ascertain whether such a book does exist. If anyone has definite knowledge pertaning to our quest, please email

2001-05-11 CAVALCADE OF HotAIR: Murray, Hair, and Harold Dowd

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

NOBEL THOUGHTS: Murray Gell-Mann

New Additions to the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists


FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE -- Clean My Diamonds (Chapter 2)

MAY WE RECOMMEND -- Alcohol, Cigarettes and Coffee

Conversational Catalysts

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE-- Celebrity Nutritionist and Writer
(Chapter 5)


FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE-- Celebrity Nutritionist and Writer
(Chapter 6)


MAY WE RECOMMEND -- Unpacking the Ethical Product

Analysis of Dirty Pictures By-the-Numbers

MAY WE RECOMMEND -- Unpleasant Dogs (A Threesome)

Optics Commission Prize Goes to Hell

DOWD: Crime and Punishment-A Personal Meditation

THESE, AND MORE, ARE ON HOTAIR AT http://www.improbable.com/navstrip/whatsnew.html

2001-05-12 Exceeding The Joneses

Investigator Rich Younger has discovered a particularly stark variety of moniker multiplicity, a report co-authored by three Joneses:

"Multimode Optical Fiber Sensors," G.R. Jones, R.E. Jones, and R. Jones, in "Optical Fiber Sensor Technology: Advanced Applications: Bragg Gratings and Distributed Sensors," edited by K.T.V. Grattan and B.T. Meggitt, Klewer Academic, 2000.
What is the record for most Joneses? If you know of a citation that may have the greatest number (far exceeding three) of Jones as co-authors, please send it to JONES&JONES&JONES SURVEY co/

2001-05-13 Water For Pinheads Challenge

Investigator Franco Toricelli poses a chemistry question that has classical roots:

"How many water molecules can fit on the head of a pin?"
If you know the answer to Toricelli's question, please write it down on a piece of 5-inch-by-7-inch lined paper, and mail it to yourself. The winner will receive a piece of 5-inch-by-7-inch lined paper.

2001-05-14 Oil on Water

We had coffee this morning with the directors of a new scientific think tank named "Conservatives Against Conservation, Ltd." (CACL). The directors, now all in their fifties, are the same people who, when in their twenties, founded the organization "Liberals Against Liberation." Several years ago they denounced their first group, shut it down, and began work on CACL.

CACL has on its staff, we were told, crack scientists from more than 23,000 scientific disciplines. Its stated mission is "to promote the scientific conservation of thought." We agreed to help them launch some of their more worthwhile projects.

This month's CACL Scientific Project: OIL-BASED AQUIFERS. The project demonstrates how oil can be used to protect agricultural fields during times of drought. The fields are sprayed with a thin layer of oil. The oil acts as a barrier that seals moisture into the fields. As the layer of oil evaporates, more oil is sprayed on to replenish the barrier layer and further protect the moisture that is in the ground.

If you have a large agricultural field, a desire to test the theory, and a checkbook, please get in touch with us and we will connect you with CACL.

2001-05-15 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Ought Not Snog Dog

Each month we select for your special attention a research report that seems especially worth a close read. This month's selection:

"Do Not Snog the Dog: Infective Endocarditis Due to Capnocytophaga canimorsus," D.L. Ngaage, K.N. Kotidis, J.A. Sandoe Unnikrishnan, and R. Nair, European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, vol. 16, no. 3, 1999, pp. 362-3. (Thanks to Adrian Smith for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are at Leeds General Infirmary in West Yorkshire, UK, explain their findings thusly:

We present a case of prosthetic valve endocarditis and paravalvular abscess caused by the canine bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus in a 63-year-old man, who made a habit of snogging his pet dog. Capnocytophaga canimorsus can cause culture-negative endocarditis, therefore a high level of clinical awareness and the appropriate isolation techniques are important for making the diagnosis. Antibiotic therapy and properly timed excision of the infected focus are recommended.
2001-05-16 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Tap, Cluck, Line, Shrinks

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

"The Energy Requirement of Selected Tap Dance Routines," R.M. Noble and E.T. Howley, Research Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 3, October 1979, pp. 438-42. (Thanks to Beatrice Morel for bringing this to our attention.)

"Some Investigations Into Motivation in the Domestic Fowl," I.J.H. Duncan and V.G. Kite, Applied Animal Behavior Science, vol. 18, 1987, pp. 387-8. (Thanks to Brianna Davies for bringing this to our attention.)

"Linear Programming Brings Marital Bliss," John H. Vande Vate, Operations Research Letters, vol. 8, 1989, pp. 147-53. (Thanks to David Molnar for bringing this to our attention.)

"A Memorable Patient -- The Man Who Had 42 Psychiatrists (and Rising)," Derek Summerfield, British Medical Journal, vol. 322, April 28, 2001, p. 1026. (Thanks to Naur E. Pella for bringing this to our attention.)

For additional, more extensive lists of citations, subscribe to the magazine.

2001-05-17 AIRhead Events

6:00 PM
Room 1403 (Fourteenth Floor, North Building) 69th Street Entrance (between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue) AIR editor MARC ABRAHAMS and other AIRheads will describe and demonstrate the latest findings in improbable research. and the Ig Nobel Prizes. This event is sponsored jointly by the NY/NJ section of the Society of Applied Spectroscopy and by the American Chemical Society, and by the Science Writers of New York (SWINY)
[NOTE: Afterwards, there will be a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. The dinner, unlike the talk, will not be free. For dinner (cost $20.00) reservations, please call or email: Prof. David Locke 718-997-3271 or Ewa Bucher at or 1-914 577-7303 or Gary Ritchie at or 1-914-709-2634.]
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University



2001-05-18 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

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

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

2001-05-19 Our Address (*)

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

SUBSCRIPTIONS: air@improbable.com
WEB SITE: http://www.improbable.com

2001-05-20 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR for commercial purposes. ------------- mini-AIRheads -------------
EDITOR: Marc Abrahams ()
MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last
few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson
CO-CONSPIRATORS: Gary Dryfoos, Ernest Ersatz, Craig Haggart, Nicki Rohloff
AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

(c) copyright 2001, Annals of Improbable Research

Monkey Man Turns Deadly

From Ananova at:


India's Monkey Man is alleged to have killed directly for the first time by puncturing his victims' skulls.

Two Ghaziabad families claim they saw "a shadow", which mysteriously disappeared after the attacks.

Until now the only deaths happened as people tried to escape from the Monkey Man.

A railway worker and a homeless man were killed within six hours of each other in the town.

Homeless Satyavir had gone into a wood to go to the toilet when he was attacked.

His uncle, Rajender, told The Pioneer: "When Satyavir did not return after an hour, we started searching for him."

They found his body and were told by witnesses a "shadow" had grappled with him, but then disappeared.

Dr Deepak of Narender Mohan Hospital said: "There were three punctures on the victim's skull, which were two to three inches deep and six inches long.

"When they brought him here an hour after the attack, there was no bleeding. There were two fractures on his right hand.There were also linear scratches on the back and abdomen. On the right hip, there was a deep wound."

The second victim, Niranjan, was asleep in a rail workers' house when he was killed. He had wounds in his head, two inches deep and five inches long. "Some linear abrasions were also found on his chest," a doctor said. One of the victim's colleauges said he saw him being attacked by a "shadow".

Three other Monkey Man attacks happened in the same area on Thursday night. Two men and a woman suffered "linear abrasions" in the attacks .

See this story on the web at

Articles of Note

From Skeptic Newshound Joe Littrell and friends

An American professor thinks he might have figured out how to build the first gateway into our history. He has worked out that slowing light to a snail's pace could make time travel possible.

Michigan militia activists say they're down but not out
By John Flesher
Associated Press

"The Oklahoma City bombing riveted the nation's attention on the Michigan Militia -- fatigue-clad, gun-wielding warriors preparing for an apocalyptic showdown."

Researchers claim ET life found
CBC News


"Live bacteria found in a meteorite in a Naples museum may not be from Earth. That's the opinion of two Italian scientists from the University of Naples."

Chelation or Not?
By Avis Favaro
ABC News


"For the first time in her life, Jean Merrilees is wearing running shoes and walking without pain."

Twisting Darwin
by Margaret Wertheim
L.A. Weekly

Alas, poor Darwin. Probably no scientist in history has been more hated than this mild-mannered Englishman. Last week saw yet another twist in the war on his theory of evolution when the state of Louisiana decided that this famous theory was racist. "Be it resolved that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, and does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others," reads a resolution approved by the state's House Education Committee on May 1.

Alternative healing
by Kerry Fehr-Snyder
Arizona Republic

"Draped in a hospital gown, ties dangling in back, Wauneta Lone Wolf-Cox eased onto a table below a huge machine at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and waited to be zapped with radiation."

India Police Think Gang Behind 'Monkey Man' Scare


"Police in India's capital suspect that the mysterious "monkey man" who has bitten and clawed dozens of people, unleashing a wave of panic across the city, is the creation of a gang of trouble makers."

Apocryphal E-Mail Bedevils Va. Sender
By Leef Smith
Washington Post

"She meant well. That's what Rose Lambert tells herself every morning when her e-mail folder begins to bulge with missives from around the globe, and she starts to slip again into her deep, private hell."

Historians Meet in Dracula's Home
Associated Press

"First, they discussed the "The Forensics of Impaling." Then Dracula experts went out for a bite in the birthplace of the medieval prince who served as the model for the mythical bloodsucker."

Judge bars prayer at graduation
Associated Press

"A federal judge has barred student prayer at a suburban high school graduation Sunday, marking the first time in the school's 80-year history that a prayer will not be offered during the ceremony."

Friday, May 18, 2001

CSICOP Workshop - Talking to the Dead...

The Skeptic's Toolbox

August 16-19, 2001

University of Oregon at Eugene
Talking to the Dead and other Transcendental Seductions

Sponsored by
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

The theme recognizes the growing interest in mediumship: the best selling books by James van Praagh, John Edward, Rosemary Altea, Sylvia Browne, and George Anderson; and success of John Edward's daily program on the Sci-Fi Channel. The appeal and success of mediums involves the various elements of belief acquisition and maintenance that characterize other paranormal belief systems. The central activity of the workshop involves participants, divided up into small teams, working on a case involving the scientific investigation of mediums who talk to the dead. In addition to this case-based activity, there will be presentations on earlier attempts by investigators to prove the survival of consciousness beyond death. Also, we will attempt to have you experience some of the types of anomalous experiences that true-believers putforth as compelling evidence for the paranormal.


James Alcock
Professor of Psychology * York University
Member of CSICOP's Executive Council

Jerry Andrus
Magician, inventor, iconoclast

Barry Beyerstein
Professor of Psychology * Simon Fraser University
Member of CSICOP's Executive Council

Ray Hyman
Professor of Psychology * University of Oregon
Member of CSICOP's Executive Council

Loren Pankratz
Clinical Psychologist
Oregon Health Sciences University

Massimo Polidoro
Author, Magician, Secretary of Comitato Italiano
Per Il Contiello delle Affermazioni sul Paranormale (CICAP)

Wally Sampson
Editor, Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine

August 16 - Thursday
2:00 pm-5:00 pm - Registration Spiller Lounge
7:00 pm-10:00 pm - Fir Room, EMU/Erb Memorial Union Building
August 17 - Friday
Fir Room, EMU/Erb Memorial Union Building
9:00 am-Noon - Course Work
Noon-2:00 pm - Lunch
2:00 pm-3:15 pm - Course Work
August 18 - Saturday
Fir Room, EMU/Erb Memorial Union Building
9:00 am-Noon - Course Work
Noon-2:00 pm - Lunch
2:00 pm-5:00 pm - Course Work
7:00-10:00 pm - Dinner at the Moore Dining Room August 19 - Sunday
Fir Room, EMU/Erb Memorial Union Building
9:00 am-Noon - Course Work
Noon-2:00 pm - Lunch

The Center for Inquiry Institute (founded 1987) is a joint project of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism. Its objective is to increase the public awareness and utilization of critical thinking and rationality, particularly with respect to social and ethical concerns. To meet this challenge and to embody the highest standards of academic excellence and objectivity, the Institute has formed a diverse and distinguished international faculty. The Institute offers seminars and workshops at varied locations in two program areas: (1) Science and the Paranormal, examining the nature of alleged paranormal phenomena; and (2) Humanistic Studies, examining the nature of social and ethical conduct while critically exploring and contrasting the roles of reason, freethought, and religion. The Institute offers a three-year Certificate Program. Students who complete the program receive a Certificate of Proficiency in their area of concentration (Science and the Paranormal or Humanistic Studies). To earn a Certificate students must complete 30 credit hours (15 credits in core courses, 8 credits in workshops, and a 7-credit research paper or thesis). Individual courses and workshops may also be taken for credit or audited (no written evaluation, no credit). Should the student later matriculate in the Certificate program, all courses and workshops completed for credit will apply toward program completion.

Center for Inquiry Institute Workshop - August 16-19 - University of Oregon at Eugene
o Register ____________ person(s) at $198 per person for Institute credit
o Register ____________ person(s) at $149 per person without credit Room and Board
o Please reserve ____________ single room(s) and board for ____________ person(s) at Spiller or Robbins Residence Halls at $210 per person for four nights
o Please reserve ____________ double room(s) and board for ____________ person(s) at Spiller or Robbins Residence Halls at $190 per person for four nights Dinners
o I / we will not be staying in the residence halls but wish to attend the Saturday dinner magic show for $25 per person.
City State Zip
o Check or Money Order enclosed * Charge my o MasterCard o Visa
Account # Exp.
Make checks payable to CSICOP and mail to: P.O. Box 703, Amherst, NY 14226-0703 (You can also register by calling 1-800-634-1610) * Contact Barry Karr for details at (716) 636-1425 ext. 217

Past CFI Institute Courses

1989 Skeptical Inquiry: The Role of the Skeptic
1990 Investigating UFOs
1991 Investigative Techniques
1991 Evolution vs. Creationism
1991 Case Studies in the Paranormal
1992 Magic for Skeptics
1992 Critical Thinking
1992 Health Controversies and Strategies
1992 The Skeptics Toolbox
1993 Astronomy and Pseudoscience
1993 Magic for Skeptics II
1993 Investigating UFOs
1993 Skeptics Toolbox II
1994 Skeptics Toolbox III-Thinking
1994 Skepticism and the Media
1995 Looking for a Miracle
1995 Skeptics Toolbox -Human Error
1996 Magic for Skeptics III
1996 Introduction to Critical Thinking
1996 Investigative Techniques
1997 Introduction to Paranormal Phenomena
1997 Myth and Magic in the Sky
1997 UFOs: Fifty Years of Myth
1997 Examining Miraculous Claims
1997 The Skeptics Toolbox -How to Evaluate Claims
1998 History and Philosophy of Skepticism
1998 Evolution vs. Creationism
1998 Leadership Training
1998 Skeptics Toolbox -Psychology of Deception
1999 Skeptics Toolbox-Science Vs. Pseudoscience
1999 The Psychology of Belief
1999 Communication and Leadership skills in Critical Inquiry
1999 Introduction to Critical Inquiry
2000 The Inquisitive Skeptic Workshop

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Monkey mystery baffles cops


The (New Delhi) Pioneer, May 16 2001

Article attributing the recent series of "monkey-man" sightings and attacks in India to mass hysteria engendered by special interests to tax the resources of the police.

Message from beyond

From: Tim Tulley

Bob Lonsberry is a local radio talk show host in Rochester NY, he also has a radio talk show in Salt Lake City, also there's an internet column that he writes. I don't agree with him a lot, but I find him generaly entertaining.

Today he wrote a column on communication with the dead that I found very distasteful, and I'd like to say something in the comments section but I can't phrase it without sounding crass.

The column is located here: http://www.lonsberry.com/writings.cfm

The Khoury Case (Australia)

Flying Saucer Review, Vol 46/1, Spring 2001, pp. 14 and 15

The Khoury Case (Australia)

by Gordon Creighton

Every UFO report has something weird about it, but this one seems one of the weirdest yet.

We learn that Bill Chalker, one of FSR's Correspondents in Australia, has recently investigated a highly unusual encounter case that involves a possible alien hair sample.

The sole participant in the case, Peter Khoury, born in the Lebanon in 1964, emigrated to Australia in 1974, and married there and has a family. He owns a business connected with cement production.


Khoury says that during the night of July 12, 1988, he was lying in bed when he felt somebody grab him by the ankles and his entire body went numb, paralyzed. He could move nothing but his eyes. [We have heard of this feature in other cases. G.C.]

On the right side of his bed he could see three or four dark-robed figures, 3 to 4 ft tall, who informed him telepathically that no harm would come to him. Moving his eyes towards his left, he found two more beings there who were completely different - tall, thin, of a "golden" hue, with big black eyes and narrow chins. One of these also contacted him telepathically, and told him not to worry and that it "would be like the last time" (sic). This being's eyes seemed to be friendly, almost "smiling", as they say.

They inserted a long needle-like flexible tube into the top left-side of Khoury's head, after which he seems to have blacked out.

Upon regaining consciousness, Khoury leapt from his bed and ran to find his relatives (father and brother) who were sleeping in another room. He awakened his brother and found him apparently "groggy". [Perhaps evidence that, as in so many cases, the aliens had kept the father and brother fast asleep. G.C.]

On checking the time, Khoury found that two hours were unaccounted for.

Next day his wife examined his head and found a puncture. Khoury asked his doctor to look at it, and when he told the doctor of his UFO experience the doctor just laughed at him and ridiculed it.

Months later, Khoury heard of Whitley Strieber's book *Communion*, and got a copy and read it. He saw that the "little Grey" shown on the cover was identical with the smaller type of the creatures that he had seen.

He joined a UFO study group briefly but found they could answer few of his questions.


In the night of July 23, 1992, Khoury had his second experience.

He had been in bed and fast asleep, when suddenly he sat up and discovered two naked females sitting on his bed. (An extremely weird feature is that "he could also see them through the back of his head".)

The nearest of the two females was a big heft blond, seemingly "in her mid-thirties". She was a head and a half taller than he", and he is 6 feet.

She had fair skin, high prominent cheek-bones, a big nose, normal-sized mouth and lips, a face longer and more pointed than we humans have, and eyes two or three times larger than is usual for humans. She seemed to have normal female breasts and he says she "looked very humanoid, but not human."

Khoury says her hair, half way down her back, was somehow "exotic", and "wispy" and somehow "fragile". [May have been artificial].

The second female was small, shorter than Khoury, and had very straight, stiff black hair that he said "looked artificial". She herself "looked Asian - but too extreme - a bit as though she had been punched in the face by Mike Tyson!"

The next thing was that the big blond grabbed Khoury vigorously and pulled him towards her breast. Clearly, he says, she was extremely strong, "but somehow she seemed to be without emotion".

He resisted her, and she grabbed him again, and then again for the third time, and this time he bit off the tip of one of her nipples and it got stuck in his throat! To his astonishment, he says it "felt like biting a plastic dummy. There was no blood!"

She looked midly surprised, as if to suggest, perhaps, that that wasn't quite the right sort of behaviour that she expected.

Khoury was gagging and coughing furiously and trying to bring up the piece of her nipple from his throat.

And, when his bout of coughing had ended, he looked around ....AND THE WOMEN WERE GONE!


He went to the toilet for a drink of water and also to relieve his bladder for he badly needed to urinate. Then he found that his penis was very painful, because, wrapped tightly around it, beneath the foreskin, was some hair, which he found extremely painful to remove. The hair consisted of two intertwined pieces, the larger one some 10-12 cms. long, and "whitish rather than blond, and thin". It did not curl, and was "springy". Not surprisingly, he immediately associated it with the blond woman, though he had no idea how it could have got there.

He at once put the hair into a plastic bag and would let nobody look at it until he could turn it over for DNA testing, to the A.P.E.G. (Anomaly Physical Evidence Group) which he finally did in April of this year (2000).

A.P.E.G. are understood to be a group of professional scientists - all of them choosing to remain anonymous.

An extremely detailed report by them indicates that the blond hair - from whomever it might have come - was indeed pretty strange. Our report states that after surveying the available literature, the A.P.E.G. found, it seems, that only four persons could be identified as having had the same DNA matching[??], and those four were all of the Chinese/Mongolian racial type which would of course mean individuals of Asian appearance and with black hair.

The case remains highly mysterious for there is of course no way in which it can be proved that the fair hair came from the alien. Khoury of course had had no relations with any other woman, and the test of the sample of his own hair indicated his ordinary European background. (Apparently the analysis of his wife's hair was less easy, as it had been chemically treated by a hairdresser).

Altogether however the testing had shown five differences from what is normal for humans, which means it seems, that while biologically close to normal human genetics, it is of an unusual racial type.

For comparison, says the report, Neanderthals differ from modern humans at 27 locations in the same DNA, while chimpanzees differ from humans at 55 locations. This particular hair had differed at 5 locations.


Conclusions are difficult because, as emphasised, there is no proof that the blond hair came from the big fair alien whom Khoury claimed to have seen.

We have no evidence as to whether in fact Khoury actually had sexual relations with either woman. Certainly he has no recollection of it, or of having had sex with any other females. And, if the aliens had actually abducted him (probable, given the time loss) there is still no evidence as to whether he had sex with that particular female or with any other of them.

Whatever the details in this respect may be, it seems very evident that these two female creatures encountered by Khoury were not hybrids, but were entirely artificial entities, - robots. If the nipple of a hybrid were bitten off, surely it would bleed!

And we should not forget that Khoury himself had said that the "Asian" woman's hair had "looked artificial" and that her eyes (like glass eyes) had shown no sign of life".

Khoury said that the object that had been lodged in his throat was suddenly gone after three days, and then his coughing stopped.

Anyone who has had many years of experience in Parapsychology and in psychical research will not be surprised to hear that the mysterious piece of "nipple" should have vanished like this. To me nothing proves more effectively than this the fact that Khoury's visitors were not of this world, but in all probability from another dimensional level.

However, in such cases of psychical materialisation from other planes, one would also expect everything else to vanish mysteriously.

So what about the fair hair? That ought to have finally gone too!

A Personal Announcement from Dr. Richard Boylan, PhD.

Flying Saucer Review, Vol 46/1, Spring 2001, pp. 12-14

A Personal Announcement from Dr. Richard Boylan, PhD.

I am, as of the date of this announcement (Nov. 7, 1999), making a major change in my involvement with the UFO phenomenon. This change is partially voluntary, and partially involuntary.

From this day forward until the Paradigm Shift, I will no loner write or speak publicly on UFO science and technology, nor U.S. and other governments' back-engineered antigravity and other advanced technology, nor the Rogue UFO cover-ups' criminal activities, including unauthorized kidnapping and terrorising of civilians, nor serve as a conduct for the legitimate government's Acclimation Programme spokespersons' messages on these topics.

Henceforth, I will be focussing my public speaking, writings and messages on the spiritual, mental, psychic, metaphysical, cultural, and personal-transformation aspects of extraterrestrial - human interaction, and I will, of course, continue my work of consultation and clinical hypnotherapy with experiencers of ET encounters.

My moving to concentrate my focus on the spiritual and personal side of the UFO/ET phenomenon is a direction I have already substantially been taking, out of a conviction that the major point of ET visitation is to nurture human development and cultural emphasis in precisely these areas. So I now entirely focus my public efforts in these areas of the "UFO message".

However, my total withdrawal from speaking and writing about the science, technology and governmental intrigue sides of the UFO phenomenon is not entirely voluntary. Rather, it is in response to a series of threats to my family, especially focussed on one of my children, that I cannot and will not ignore. That benighted consortium of private sector and rogue governmental operations, which is responsible for the down-and-dirty side of the UFO cover-up, has escalated to death threats that I am obliged to face up to. Thus, the change in my public focus in matters ufological.

Because the Down-and-Dirty Cabal are only interested in the power, prestige, and profits which come from their south-after monopoly on ET-derived science and technology, it is my estimate that by abandoning my efforts to publicise this technology, and human successes in copying this technology, I will reduce the threat to my family. Besides, I have already largely placed in the public sector, via my writings, talks and webpage (http://www.jps.net/drboylan/ ), the bulk of developments formerly hidden by the UFO cover-up.

You all know that I am not faint-hearted. I have placed my personal life, reputation, professional career and savings on the line, in pursuing my research and publicising my findings. In so doing I have suffered enormous personal harm. I can stand that. But I will not place my family at risk in the face of these escalated grave threats.

This decision is firm. I ask your understanding, and if so inclined, your prayers or other spiritual support.

At its most fundamental, this struggle between the fear-hate-attack side and the peaceful side of the UFO community mirrors a spiritual struggle in the Cosmos between the forces of Darkness and Light.

May we all advance in love and light.
Richard Boylan, PhD
November 7, 1999


Note by Editor of Flying Saucer Review.

We had not seen until now very much of Dr. Boylan's writings on the UFO Problem, and what we had seen has at times inclined me to think that he was one of those very numerous people who (possibly merely gullible or possibly directly influenced) obstinately refuse to recognise that there is, in this "subject" of ours, at least also a very great element that is plainly evil and deeply hostile to our species. If however I am wrong on this point, as may well be the case, and if Dr. Boylan agrees with us on this point, then I feel sure I can say that I agree with all that he says in his article above.

On the question of harassment, threats, veiled or unveiled, and even murders, we all know enough now to be able to perceive that there is, as Dr. Boylan suggests, quite probably a secret human, governmental agency of the armed forces or of the security and secret services, in both the USA and in Britain, and elsewhere, which is active in watching, persecuting and harassing - and sometimes murdering investigators of the UFO problem. (The latter, by the way, are generally not notable for any interest in politics or in any matter that might be considered "politically subversive").

But what we apparently do not know for certain is this:- Are they acting on the direct instructions of a Government, in an attempt to find out how much some of us have discovered about UFOs, or are they simply the tools of a Government that already knows everything about UFOs and is itself already controlled, as many of us suspect, by alien intelligences?

A third version, which one occasionally hears, is that maybe these are "rogue units" of the Military or the Intelligence Services, who are somehow or other able to operate on their own.

That these agencies do harass and do maim and do kill, I have good personal reason to know for a certainty. An example of their activities here was the murder of the Englishwoman Hilda Murrell who was killed by Military or Security/Intelligence operatives a few years ago.

We know too - because the former British Police Sergeant Tony Dodd has courageously published the facts in his book ALIEN INVESTIGATOR (1999) - that very recently he and his wife were taken out by unidentified American men to a lonely spot in the desert of the U.S. South-West and blatantly informed that, "if they did not watch their step" their bones could end up out there and nobody would ever know what had become of them. (See also the entire history of the Roswell crash affair, in which numerous eyewitnesses have reported how they had been threatened with "serious trouble", or "Worse").

All these things are most emphatically occurring. But one must add that, so far it appears impossible to perceive with certainty what the actual roles of our own Governments can be in it all. That they are the direct (even if unwilling) tools of malignant alien forces which have "taken over" here and are now "in the driving seat" here, cannot however be ruled out.

It is extremely "interesting" news when we learn that, at precisely the same time as Dr. Boylan, his friend Dr. Roger K. Leir (another Californian resident) - is starting to experience similar "difficulties" in connection with his own research, which lies in the area of alien body implants.

Joel Mesnard, the editor of our French "opposite number", LUMIERES DANS LA NUIT (41(st) year, September 1999)) has a lengthy article entitled "OBSTACLES OF HUMAN ORIGIN," which inter-alia, dwells on the British phenomenon of the "cornfield circles" and all the fantastic attempts of the British Government and its minions to provide effective "explanations" with the aid of the two famous old "daddy master-fakers", Doug and Dave and others.

For the moment I will discuss only that part of this French report that deals, both with crop-circles and with the "obstacles" suddenly confronting Dr. Roger Leir.

Clearly there is "someone" who dislikes Dr. Leir and his activities just as much as they "dislike" Dr. Boylan's activities. Here is Joel Mesnard's highly instructive little account, about which we must all do some very sharp thinking:-

(page 4), Translation from French: G.C.
Our last issue of LDLN, in which we had an article about the alleged "exdtraterrestrial implants", was just going to press when I learned from the French UFO researcher Gildas Bourdais that Dr. Roger Leir, the pioneer in the extraction of these little objects, was suddenly encountering serious difficulties. Here is a brief summary of it all:

In February 1999 Dr. Leir (already with 35 years of professional career behind him) learned that he was going to have to appear before a tribunal in May 1999 owing to a complaint lodged on March 17, 1994(!) by a former patient on whom he had performed an operation in 1990(!!). The reason for the charge - the first ever in his 35 years of professional service - had been a relatively banal incident, namely a post-operative infection. (We all know how the bringing of charges against doctors has become a regular practice in the United States, and is beginning here. G.C.)

Dr. Leir had in fact been already notified and aware of this charge - five years ago, but as it had never led to any concrete action against him, he therefore felt convinced that the affair had long ago been settled by the U.S. Medical Board and closed.

Dr. Leir's lawyer, Gregory Avery, who specialises in this sort of affair, explains that in all cases of this kind - that is to say when suspicions are voiced regarding a doctor - the Medical Board's golden rule is always for speedy action: if a doctor (in this case a chiropodist - in the USA termed a "podiatrist") - does not have, or no longer has, the expertise necessary for the proper exercise of his profession, he is, quite understandably, immediately subjected to a general review and scrutiny of his competence.

Well now, in this case the Medical Board waited five years before embarking on any procedure of the examination and evaluation of the competence of Dr. Roger Leir! There is no "normal" explanation for this astounding delay of five years!

But it so happens that in 1999 Dr. Leir was now known for his work in researching and extracting mysterious implants from the human body. Most notably, he had been seen, on February 17, on the NBC Television channel, following the appearance of the book *The Aliens and the Scalpel* written by him and his colleague Derrel Sims. (Reviewed in FSR 44/4. G.C.)

The hearing against him opened on February 16, 2000, and during it, he was not permitted to speak or even to communicate with the Court in writing! The judge delivered his verdict on April 23: Dr. Leir was to be "put on probation" for three years.

Dr. Leir is not a young man, the shock of this sudden impugnment of his professional competence, added to the normal fatigue engendered by his heavy work-load, resulted, on May 24, 1999, in a heart attack, which put him in hospital. (He had already had some heart trouble in 1985.)

The consequence has been that, in a particularly critical period (with all the problems, notably family problems, and financial worries too) his research on implants has clearly had to be halted.

Contemplating the possible 'reasons' for this sudden and scarely comprehensible "resurrection" of a matter that had been buried and forgotten along ago, AND JUST AT THE VERY MOMENT AS DR. LEIR WAS MAKING KNOWN HIS WORK ON THE IMPLANTS, the comment of Dr. Leir's lawyer is: "I DON'T BELIEVE IN CHANCE. I BELIEVE IN CAUSE AND EFFECT".


So here, dear FSR reader, in the cases of Dr. Boylan and Dr. Leir, you have something on which to reflect deeply. The offence of Dr. Boylan is that he investigates UFOs. The offence of Dr. Leir is that he finds - and publicizes - body implants from UFOs.

Are these not just two more wondrous examples of the machinations and the devilry of that corrupt and evil Power which controls this entire world and all of us, and that has the whole of "anaesthetised", sleeping, unwitting, and witless mankind by the throat? G.C.

'Monkey man' alarm continues despite arrest

From Ananova at


A person suspected of wearing a monkey mask to scare people has been arrested in an Indian city.

Residents of Ghaziabad have formed vigilante groups to catch a 'monkey man,' who is said to be terrorising people in the city with his 'iron claws'.

Ghaziabad police, who have been inundated with calls about the beast, have arrested a man they claim wore a mask of a rhesus monkey.

Officers say the suspect claims not to be the 'monkey man' they are looking for, reports The Hindustan Times.

He has told police he is only an ordinary thief who decided to use the panic caused by reports of the beast in the city to help him.

Monkey mystery baffles cops

Pramod Kumar Singh/New Delhi


The much hyped mystery 'Tarzan' theory appears to have been floated by anti-national elements, says Delhi Police. This, say senior police officials, is being done at the behest of the Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The modus operandi of the 'monster' or 'masked psychopath's attacks in a particular residential segment has raised several questions. Intelligence Bureau (IB) has started enquiring into the mass hysteria apparently generated by vested interests, to create panic and wear out the Delhi Police.

Highly placed sources said, it is an offshoot of a bigger conspiracy. Intelligence agencies have succeeded in narrowing down two persons behind the rumours. The incident has been viewed seriously as Independence Day is just two months away, sources added.

Several calls to the Police Control Room (PCR) were made without any substance. The panic among the people was born out of paranoia rather than a 'mysterious' attack.

Everyone complained of a kala bandar or a monkey-man, but nobody could provide any clues about it.

The so called 'attacks' were limited to densely populated ghettos and bylanes of East and North East districts. The victims were from the lower income group and the injuries were only rough scratches. Veterinary doctors, who examined the victims, are equally baffled. For them, the injuries were caused by some metallic nail and not by an animal.

Investigating agencies are analysing the trend of the rumours which are circulating in the National Capital. "The whole drama was very carefully enacted by the anti-social elements who wanted to test the nerves of the Delhi Police.

After creating a storm in the neighbouring areas, the trouble mongers trained their guns towards Delhi," said a senior police officer.

They systematically spread the rumours about the strange creature to create fear among the people. Central intelligence agencies have got definite information that the mischief mongers are spreading terror at the behest of the ISI, officials said.

A study of the patterns of the distress calls to PCR from the residents of East district on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, makes for interesting reading. East district police received 10 calls in this duration. At 10.36 pm on Tuesday, a call was made from Ghazipur.

The caller said, "I saw the shadow of a kala bandar". The PCR received another call at 10.37 pm from the same area too. Senior Police officers visited the area and found nothing.

A resident of Radhu Palace called the PCR about the same 'animal'. Station House Officer (SHO) of the Shakarpur police station rushed to the spot only to find one black plastic sheet. Similarly, the PCR received similar calls at 12.06, 12.35 and 12.50 am. Area SHOs found nothing after searching the areas for hours. The calls poured in again at 1.15, 1.50 and 4.30 am.

A woman residing at Kailash Nagar told police that some one knocked at her door. Her maid saw a 'huge black monkey climbing the stairs'. All of these calls were found to be bogus, said DCP East, Manoj Lall.

Sanal Edamaruku of Indian Rationalist Association told The Pioneer that he visited the affected areas of Delhi and Noida. All the claims of the people who saw the strange animal were baseless. Everyone's descriptions was different.

"It is an acute situational reaction of the sudden onset of hallucinations. A casual cat, a monkey, a moving shadow of a tree or even a person's scream can trigger off group panic and subsequent hallucinations", he added.

Any injury or scratch or wound inflicted on their body, craving pathologically for attention could be taken as injuries caused by monkey-man.

These are cases of an extreme form of pathological lying, consisting of telling stories without discernible or adequate motive. This state of mind is called 'pseudologia fantastica', Mr Edamaruku added.

Sympathetic Vibratory Physics

From: Stephen Carville

And I thought the cold fusion fruitcakes were odd. This sites make them look like an archtype of scientific decorum.


For a good laugh be sure to check out the 'theory' behind this stuff:


Gen SXeptic: Soft Journalism, the Paranormal, & Democracy

The latest exclusive content feature at www.csicop.org:

That's Infotainment!
How Soft Journalism -- that Offers Sensationalism, Celebrity, Crime & the
Paranormal as News -- Undermines the Credibility of Major Media
Organizations, Drives Away Their Core Audiences, and Hurts Democracy

Matt Nisbet
Ithaca, N.Y.
April 30, 2001

To read the full column, go to http://www.csicop.org/genx/infotainment/

Columnist Matt Nisbet explores trends in the mass media that have made the paranormal -- along with crime, celebrity, entertainment, and human melodrama -- into standard journalistic fare at America's leading news organizations. This new news, dubbed "soft journalism" or "infotainment,"is the media industry's reaction to a nearly two decade decline in its readership and viewership base. Paranormal subjects are ready made for the soft journalism formula, as they mix high levels of human interest, drama, and sensationalism with unending story lines.

But at what price do we displace public affairs coverage with coverage of celebrities, psychics, and crimes? Although reinvigorated sales and ratings are the goals of soft journalism, recently released research from the field of political communication indicates that infotainment has actually accelerated the decline in news audiences, while serving to impair the public's interest in and knowledge of public affairs.

Alt Vet Med Conf. & Skeptics in the Pub

From: Barry Karr

From Robert Imrie, DVM ()

I'm happy to report that, thanks to the efforts of NCAHF Vet Task Force equine advisor Dave Ramey, DVM, and Professor Phillip Johnson, on October 20 and 21 of this year the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine will be sponsoring a unique conference titled "Critical Thinking for the Veterinary Profession: Evaluating Therapeutic Claims in a Rapidly Changing World." (The program and speakers list is available on our Website at http://www.seanet.com/~vettf/Conspeak.htm). You'll note that Wally Sampson, Jim Alcock, and Barry Beyerstein will be among the speakers. The conference will be devoted almost entirely to evaluating therapeutic claims including "alternative and complementary." Nothing like this has ever been done within the veterinary profession. While proponents and practitioners of "alternative" veterinary modalities have held innumerable conferences and symposia, this is the first one ever to be put on by skeptics. (For further details, see

From:Scott Campbell ()

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

DATE - Thursday, May 17th 2001
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

Speaker: Professor David Marks

Title: 'The Psychology of the Psychic'

David Marks is a Professor of Psychology at Middlesex University and the head of the Health Research Centre in London. He was the co-author of the classic study _The Psychology of the Psychic_, and this is the very topic he will be talking to us about.

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:

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)

Monkey Man May be a Space Alien

From Ananova at: http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_293395.html

Reports are circulating in India that the 'monkey man' attacker is an extra-terrestrial or a remote-controlled robot.

Delhi's Joint Commissioner of police Suresh Roy says there were 12 confirmed attacks in the North-East of the region last night.

Local officials told The Hindustan Times they suspect the 'monkey man' is an alien or a robot. The attacker has struck 65 times.

Adding to the sense of crisis, a man has reportedly leapt to his death from a building in Noida when he heard cries of "the monkey is here".

Incidents have mainly been in New Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida.

Differing descriptions of the half-monkey half-human creature have been given to police. His height varies from four-and-a-half to six-feet.

He's also reported to have worn a helmet, a mask and bandages. Some witnesses say the 'monkey man' has a "bare, monkey-like head" and "the face of a monkey".

Mr Roy said: "Doctors say the injuries have not been caused by humans and animals. They have described the blunt injuries caused, due to friction."

Mr Roy told the The Hindustan Times police are drawing up an elaborate plan to catch the attacker.

He denied reports that shoot-at-sight orders have been issued.

See this story on the web at


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