NTS LogoSkeptical News for 22 June 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, June 22, 2001

Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design

From: Taner Edis

http://www.csicop.org/bib/587
-----------------------------
Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design

William A. Dembski, ed.
http://www.gospelcom.net/ivpress/title/toc/1515.html
1998, InterVarsity; 475p.
creationism:defense, creationism:philosophy, religion:defense,
science:philosophy

A collection of articles from the leading lights of "Intelligent Design" creationism. There is much in here that is relatively lucid and thought provoking; once again, ID advocates are best when exploiting the naive philosophical moves defenders of evolution have made while trying to rule creation out of court in science. The book is meant to give an impression of intellectual sophistication, but it tries just a bit too hard. The philosophers assert positions based on some very traditional theistic metaphysics, but they do not help make it more convincing. And when they attempt to make ID into a scientific position, their arguments are exceptionally weak. Some contributions are not just wrongheaded but trivially wrong, as in David Berlinski's attempt to use Goedel's theorem against evolution. If an article looked jargon-filled, mathematical, and against evolution, the editor seems to have stuck it in the volume.

Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

SPECIAL UPDATE: Evolution Opponents on the Offensive in Senate, House

http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis107/evolution_update0601.html

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2001/US/432_senate_passes_antievolution_re_6_13_2001.asp

(Posted 6-19-01)

This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: A day before the Senate completed action on a comprehensive education bill that it had debated for six weeks, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced a two-sentence amendment drafted by evolution opponents. The amendment, presented in the form of a Senate resolution, defines "good science education" and encourages teaching the "controversy" surrounding biological evolution. Amidst a flurry of other amendments, the Senate voted 91-8 in favor of the provision on its way to passing the entire bill by the same margin. Earlier, a group of conservative representatives had stripped a science testing provision out of the House counterpart bill in part because of concerns that the tests would include evolution-related questions. Differences between the two bills will be worked out in a House-Senate conference likely to take place in early July.

************

Last summer, proponents of intelligent design creationism held a Capitol Hill briefing to educate congressional members and staff on the failures of Darwinism and their alternative proposals (see a summary at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/id_update.html). They also lectured their audience on the moral decay that the teaching of Darwinism had wrought on society. A panel discussion was moderated by David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and author of a legal brief on how to get intelligent design into public school curriculum. Like most of the other speakers at the briefing, DeWolf is a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, a conservative think tank dedicated to promulgating intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution.

Up until that briefing took place, the political debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools had taken place at the state and local level, but the briefing appeared to be a disturbing expansion of anti-evolution efforts into the federal legislature. That appearance is now reality with DeWolf and briefing speaker Phillip Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and CRSC senior fellow, taking center stage.

K-12 Education Bill Used as Vehicle

Education was a campaign priority for President Bush, and the first bills introduced this year in both the House and Senate (H.R.1 and S.1, respectively) are comprehensive overhauls of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which covers most federal aid programs for states and local school districts. S.1, entitled the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, was passed by the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee in March, having been introduced by the committee's then-chairman Jim Jeffords (now I-VT). The full Senate took it up in May with hundreds of amendments being offered and considered. After the Memorial Day recess and Jeffords' departure from the Republican Party, debate on the floor resumed in June with new HELP chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) managing the debate.

On the morning of June 13th, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) rose to speak on his amendment #799, which he handed in the previous evening. It is a non-binding "Sense of the Senate" resolution, a common tactic used to put the Senate on record about a given subject without worrying about statutory implications. According to Santorum, his amendment dealt "with the subject of intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of science in the classroom, in primary and secondary education. It is a sense of the Senate that does not try to dictate curriculum to anybody; quite the contrary, it says there should be freedom to discuss and air good scientific debate within the classroom. In fact, students will do better and will learn more if there is this intellectual freedom to discuss."He then stated that the amendment was "simply two sentences--frankly, two rather innocuous sentences." The amendment reads:

"It is the sense of the Senate that-- "(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and "(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject."

Santorum then went on to read an extended passage by DeWolf lauding the benefits of "a more open discussion of biological origins in the science classroom." Although most amendments, especially non-binding ones, are simply added by unanimous consent or withdrawn without a vote, Santorum called for a roll call vote to put the Senate on record. Kennedy, the floor manager, then expressed his support for the amendment. With nobody speaking against it, the amendment passed by a 91-8 vote. All Democrats voted for it (except Sen. Chris Dodd, D-CT, who was absent). The eight Republicans who voted against the amendment (Chafee, RI; Cochran, MS; Collins, ME; DeWine, OH; Enzi, WY; Hagel, NE; Stevens, AK; Thompson, TN) were opposed on the grounds that it was an unnecessary federal intrusion in a state and local matter. The full text of Santorum's remarks from the Congressional Record are available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r107:FLD001:S06148 on pages S6147-48, Kennedy's remarks are on S6150, and supporting statements by Brownback, R-KS, and Byrd, D-WV, are at S6152.

Whether or not one views the specific language of the amendment as innocuous or unobjectionable, this vote has become a public relations bonanza for the intelligent design creationists. The Discovery Institute put out a press release stating: "Undoubtedly this will change the face of the debate over the theories of evolution and intelligent design in America. From now on the evidence will be free to speak for itself. It also seems that the Darwinian monopoly on public science education, and perhaps on the biological sciences in general, is ending." The Senate vote is also being portrayed as a vindication of the 1999 decision by the Kansas Board of Education to remove evolution from state tests (a vote subsequently overturned when several of the school board members were defeated in the 2000 elections). Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) told the Washington Times (6-18-01) that it "cleared the record." In a speech supporting Santorum's amendment, he argued: "The great and bold statement that the Kansas School Board made was … simply that we observe micro-evolution and therefore it is scientific fact; and that it is impossible to observe macro-evolution, it is scientific assumption.... [Santorum] clarifies the opinion of the Senate that the debate of scientific fact versus scientific assumption is an important debate to embrace."

How did this amendment come about? In the same Washington Times article, Phillip Johnson took credit for helping to frame the amendment's language: "I offered some language to Senator Santorum, after he had decided to propose a resolution of this sort." According to his web site, Johnson visited a number of Capitol Hill offices early in June to meet with senators and representatives. Johnson is the author of several anti-evolution books, including "Darwin on Trial," and speaks widely on this subject.

A Broader Offensive

Evolution also came up as an issue in the House education bill, H.R. 1. As passed by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, H.R. 1 included a provision mandating that students be tested on science in addition to the reading and math testing provisions called for in the original bill -- a presidential priority. Scientific societies pushed for the testing provision lest science lose attention as resources are concentrated on tested subjects.

Before any bill can be considered on the House floor, it must pass through the Rules Committee, which decides how much debate will be allowed, which amendments will be in order, and other procedural matters. The committee can also amend the bill so that what is considered on the floor is different from what was passed in committee earlier. In response to concerns raised by a group of conservative lawmakers, the committee (chaired by Rep. David Dreier, R-CA) removed the science testing provision in this manner. Sources report that a major reason for the opposition was that testing might include evolution-related questions.

Although Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) was assured that he would be given the opportunity to propose a floor amendment restoring the science testing provision, he was never allowed to do so despite support for his amendment from Education and the Workforce Committee chairman John Boehner (R-OH).

The Next Step

A House-Senate conference committee must work out differences in the two bills -- both bodies must vote on an identical measure before it goes to the president for his signature, which is expected. Conferees have yet to be named but will surely include senior members of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Senators Kennedy and Judd Gregg (R-NH), the senior Republican on the HELP Committee, will certainly be on it as perhaps will S. 1 author Jeffords. On the House side, Boehner and ranking Democrat Rep. George Miller (D-CA) will be on it.

In addition to efforts to restore science testing provisions, scientific societies including AGI are considering options for how to address the Santorum amendment. Given the clear public rejection of the 1999 Kansas school board's action, it does not seem likely that the majority of the senators who voted for the amendment share Brownback's opinion of its implications or agree with the Discovery Institute that their purpose was to "change the face of the debate over the theories of evolution and intelligent design in America." Indeed, faced with such rhetoric, they might just decide that Santorum presented his "innocuous" amendment to them as something other than the anti-evolution stalking horse that it truly is.

Special update prepared by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: American Physical Society, Congressional Record, Discovery Institute, Washington Times.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at .

Posted June 19, 2001

© 2001 American Geological Institute. All rights reserved.

More on Yonaguni

From: Terry W. Colvin

More on Yonaguni, this time from Whitley Strieber

Scientist Say Underwater Japanese Pyramid Definitely Manmade
(19-May-2001)

http://www.unknowncountry.com/news/?id=540

Japanese Scientists Say Yonaguni Pyramid Manmade

Complex Structure
Tonight (Saturday, May 19th) on Dreamland, Ancient American Magazine editor Frank Joseph reports on a conference he recently attended in Japan at which Japanese geologists and archaeologists argued that the sunken pyramid off the island of Yonaguni near Okinawa has been found to be manmade.

Carved Stairway
The structure was found by dive tour operator Kihachiro Aratake in 1985 and has been a source of controversy ever since. It appears to be a construction made of wide terraces, ramps and large steps. However, American geologists have contented that the structure is not manmade, but a natural formation.

According to the report, Japanese scientists have documented marks on the stones that indicate that they were hewn. Not only that, the tools used in this process have been found in the area, and carvings have been discovered. A small stairway carved into the rocks appears to render the theory that this is a natural formation implausible.

The problem with all of this for western scientists is that it implies that an unknown eastern culture had developed a high degree of organization thousands of years before the earliest western civilizations. Geologically, the Yonaguni pyramid sank into the ocean at the end of the last ice age, around ten thousand years ago. Some western geologists have theorized that, if it is manmade, it must have risen from the sea in more recent times, and been carved then.

However, the discovery of other, similar structures beneath the sea of Japan was also announced at the conference. If these prove to be similar to the Yonaguni pyramid they may rewrite the history of early man.


Thursday, June 21, 2001

Magnetic God Helmet Produces Religious Experience on Demand

From: Terry W. Colvin

The article which follows my introduction appeared on the front page of the Washington Post.

Scientists have created a helmet which uses magnetic fields to create religious experiences in those who wear it that are indistiguishable from religious experiences when not wearing the helmet. Just imagine the possibilities of this technology in the hands of the State expecially when the field can be focused and transmitted over a distance. Religion has always been a tool of the State. Hello ?

Tracing the synapses of spirituality
------------------------------------

Researchers parse relationship between brain and religion

By Shankar Vedantam THE WASHINGTON POST

June 17, 2001 -- In Philadelphia, a researcher discovers areas of the brain that are activated during meditation. At two other universities in San Diego and North Carolina, doctors study how epilepsy and certain hallucinogenic drugs can produce religious epiphanies. And in Canada, a neuroscientist fits people with magnetized helmets that produce "spiritual" experiences for the

'Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time.'

-- ANDREW NEWBERG author of 'Why God Won't Go Away'

THE WORK is part of a broad effort by scientists around the world to better understand religious experiences, measure them, and even reproduce them. Using powerful brain imaging technology, researchers are exploring what mystics call nirvana, and what Christians describe as a state of grace. Scientists are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry.

What creates that transcendental feeling of being one with the universe? It could be the decreased activity in the brain's parietal lobe, which helps regulate the sense of self and physical orientation, research suggests. How does religion prompt divine feelings of love and compassion? Possibly because of changes in the frontal lobe, caused by heightened concentration during meditation. Why do many people have a profound sense that religion has changed their lives? Perhaps because spiritual practices activate the temporal lobe, which weights experiences with personal significance.

"The brain is set up in such a way as to have spiritual experiences and religious experiences," said Andrew Newberg, a Philadelphia scientist who wrote the book "Why God Won't Go Away." "Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time. The brain is predisposed to having those experiences and that is why so many people believe in God."

The research may represent the bravest frontier of brain research. But depending on your religious beliefs, it may also be the last straw. For while Newberg and other scientists say they are trying to bridge the gap between science and religion, many believers are offended by the notion that God is a creation of the human brain, rather than the other way around.

"It reinforces atheistic assumptions and makes religion appear useless," said Nancey Murphy, a professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "If you can explain religious experience purely as a brain phenomenon, you don't need the assumption of the existence of God."

SCANS OF MEDITATION

Some scientists readily say the research proves there is no such thing as God. But many others argue that they are religious themselves, and that they are simply trying to understand how our minds produce a sense of spirituality.

Newberg, who was catapulted to center stage of the neuroscience-religion debate by his book and some recent experiments he conducted at the University of Pennsylvania with co-researcher Eugene D'Aquili, says he has a sense of his own spirituality, though he declined to say whether he believes in God, because any answer would prompt people to question his agenda. "I'm really not trying to use science to prove that God exists or disprove God exists," he said.

Newberg's experiment consisted of taking brain scans of Tibetan Buddhist meditators as they sat immersed in contemplation. After giving them time to sink into a deep meditative trance, he injected them with a radioactive dye. Patterns of the dye's residues in the brain were later converted into images.

Newberg found that certain areas of the brain were altered during deep meditation. Predictably, these included areas in the front of the brain that are involved in concentration. But Newberg also found decreased activity in the parietal lobe, one of the parts of the brain that helps orient a person in three-dimensional space.

"When people have spiritual experiences they feel they become one with the universe and lose their sense of self," he said. "We think that may be because of what is happening in that area -- if you block that area you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. In doing so you ultimately wind up in a universal state."

Across the country, at the University of California in San Diego, other neuroscientists are studying why religious experiences seem to accompany epileptic seizures in some patients. At Duke University, psychiatrist Roy Mathew is studying hallucinogenic drugs that can produce mystical experiences and have long been used in certain religious traditions.

Could the flash of wisdom that came over Siddhartha Gautama -- the Buddha -- have been nothing more than his parietal lobe quieting down? Could the voices that Moses and Mohammed heard on remote mountaintops have been just a bunch of firing neurons -- an illusion? Could Jesus's conversations with God have been a mental delusion?

MYSTICAL HELMET?

Newberg won't go so far, but other proponents of the new brain science do. Michael Persinger, a professor of neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has been conducting experiments that fit a set of magnets to a helmet-like device. Persinger runs what amounts to a weak electromagnetic signal around the skulls of volunteers.

Four in five people, he said, report a "mystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or near" them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.

"That's in the laboratory," Persinger said. "They know they are in the laboratory. Can you imagine what would happen if that happened late at night in a pew or mosque or synagogue?"

His research, Persinger said, showed that "religion is a property of the brain, only the brain and has little to do with what's out there."

Those who believe the new science disproves the existence of God say they are holding up a mirror to society about the destructive power of religion. They say that religious wars, fanaticism and intolerance spring from dogmatic beliefs that particular gods and faiths are unique, rather than facets of universal brain chemistry.

"It's irrational and dangerous when you see how religiosity affects us," said Matthew Alper, author of "The God Part of the Brain," a book about the neuroscience of belief. "During times of prosperity, we are contented. During times of depression, we go to war. When there isn't enough food to go around, we break into our spiritual tribes and use our gods as justification to kill one another."

MIXING SCIENCE AND FAITH

While Persinger and Alper count themselves as atheists, many scientists studying the neurology of belief consider themselves deeply spiritual.

James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to reevaluate what his professional background had taught him.

"It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating," said Austin, author of the book "Zen and the Brain" and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. "Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption -- an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist."

Austin's spirituality doesn't involve a belief in God -- it is more in line with practices associated with some streams of Hinduism and Buddhism. Both emphasize the importance of meditation and its power to make an individual loving and compassionate -- most Buddhists are uninterested in whether God exists.

But theologians say such practices don't describe most people's religiousness in either eastern or western traditions.

"When these people talk of religious experience, they are talking of a meditative experience," said John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown University. "But religion is more than that. It involves commitments and suffering and struggle -- it's not all meditative bliss. It also involves moments when you feel abandoned by God.

"Religion is visiting widows and orphans," he said. "It is symbolism and myth and story and much richer things. They have isolated one small aspect of religious experience and they are identifying that with the whole of religion."

Belief and faith, believers argue, are larger than the sum of their brain parts: "The brain is the hardware through which religion is experienced," said Daniel Batson, a University of Kansas psychologist who studies the effect of religion on people. "To say the brain produces religion is like saying a piano produces music."

'NOTHING-BUTISM'

'During times of prosperity, we are contented. During times of depression, we go to war. When there isn't enough food to go around, we break into our spiritual tribes and use our gods as justification to kill one another.'

-- MATTHEW ALPER author, 'The God Part of the Brain'

At the Fuller Theological Seminary's school of psychology, Warren Brown, a cognitive neuropsychologist, said, "Sitting where I'm sitting and dealing with experts in theology and Christian religious practice, I just look at what these people know about religiousness and think they are not very sophisticated. They are sophisticated neuroscientists, but they are not scholars in the area of what is involved in various forms of religiousness."

At the heart of the critique of the new brain research is what one theologian at St. Louis University called the "nothing-butism" of some scientists -- the notion that all phenomena could be understood by reducing them to basic units that could be measured.

"A kiss," said Michael McClymond, "is more than a mutually agreed-upon exchange of saliva, breath and germs."

And finally, believers say, if God existed and created the universe, wouldn't it make sense that he would install machinery in our brains that would make it possible to have mystical experiences?

"Neuroscientists are taking the viewpoints of physicists of the last century that everything is matter," said Mathew, the Duke psychiatrist. "I am open to the possibility that there is more to this than what meets the eye. I don't believe in the omnipotence of science or that we have a foolproof explanation."

http://www.msnbc.com/news/588566.asp

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USA TODAY article featuruing Paul Kurtz & Randi

From: Barry Karr

Extra, Extra, read all about it!!

http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20010620/3415680s.htm

Features Paul Kurtz and the Amazing Randi

Can the living talk to the dead? Psychics say they connect with the spirit world, but skeptics respond: 'Prove it'
By Greg Barrett
Gannett News Service

Presbyterians to Discuss Creation

By SUSAN PARROTT
Associated Press Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- What does the Bible mean when it says that God created the universe in six days?

Were those six 24-hour days? Or were they six "figurative'' days, which some see as a concession to evolution and modern science?

Presbyterian Church in America leaders are debating the issue in Dallas this week during their 29th General Assembly. The meeting also may include discussion of whether women in the military should serve in combat positions.

The 300,000-member PCA is the smaller and more conservative of the country's two main Presbyterian denominations but has doubled in size in the past decade. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has 2.5 million members. That group met last week and voted to drop a ban on ordaining homosexuals and women.

The PCA, which believes the Bible is the strict and infallible rule of faith, is grappling with the meaning of words found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the chief doctrinal standard of its church.

Chapter 4 of the confession reads: "It pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost ... in the beginning to create ... the world ... in the space of six days; and all was very good.''

Some PCA members say they want any interpretations that differ with the literal viewpoint labeled "exceptions'' because they're at odds with the confession's intent.

"Historically, the position of the Presbyterian Church has been of six 24-hour days (to) creation,'' said the Rev. Dale Smith, pastor of Colleyville Presbyterian Church. "I know of nothing scientifically which categorically disproves the historical understanding of Genesis 1 and 2.''

But the Rev. Skip Ryan of Park Cities Presbyterian Church said the issue needs to remain open for interpretation. He said the 17th century writers of the confession may have been echoing allegorical language in the Bible.

"Some believe the days are ages of indeterminate length ... that it is treated as a poetical framework which accurately and truthfully describes creation but does not necessary mean a day is 24 hours,'' Ryan said.

About 2,000 people are attending the gathering, which ends Friday. About 1,500 ministers and elders -- all men -- will be allowed to vote during a general assembly set for Thursday.

In addition to the creation question, members are expected to debate the roles of women in the church and in military combat positions.

"Traditionally and biblically the whole issue of defense should be a male responsibility,'' said Rev. David Clelland, a Vietnam veteran who is pastor of Town North Presbyterian Church in Richardson.

Jessie Clark, an 80-year-old church member from Laguna Niguel, Calif., said she agrees in theory but doesn't know if it is the denomination's place to address the issue.

"Men and women are not equal in some areas,'' she said. "But to make this a church matter? I don't know.''

How to make acrop-circle

From: Jerry Goodenough

As the Sunday Times this week says:

"Aliens appear to be well tuned into British bylaws, because not a single UFO or plasma orbitron had the temerity to descend upon the countryside at the height of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Since then, all hell has broken loose, with crop circles appearing in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire just days after the restrictions were lifted. Decent chaps, these little green men."

The article goes on to recommend

http://www.circlemakers.org

which is the "home of England's crop-circle makers". It is full of weird visuals and stuff, but it has lots of practical stuff that ought to dispose of the "these things are far too complicated to have been made by a couple of blokes with some sticks and ropes" attitude. Plus lots of neat pictures of the rings they made, details of a forthcoming Hollywood movie about crop-circles, and other neat cereal-related stuff. These people are a little odd in places, but no odder than an alien would have to be to trample shapes in the corn after a long journey across the galaxy...

UFOs [Observers] & Science Fiction

From: Raymond Perrez

I am doing research on possible links between science fiction films and UFO beliefs in the States. My website features a questionnaire for guests to fill in if they want:

http://www.chez.com/offworld

Could you possibly post this message so that contributors to your List can have access to the questionnaire if they so wish? It would be a great help as I am in France and don't know quite how to get in touch with people interested in UFOs in America.

Thanks a lot for your help.

:-)

Raymond Perrez,

Toulouse, France

Articles of Note

From: Barry Karr

Thanks to Joe Littrell

Therapist Is Sentenced to 16 Years
By JUDITH KOHLER
Associated Press

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010618/us/rebirthing_therapy_2.html

"A therapist was sentenced to 16 years in prison Monday in the death of a 10-year-old girl who suffocated while wrapped in blankets during a ``rebirthing'' session."

Monkey Man Blamed on Mass Hysteria
Reuters

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010618/od/monkey_dc_2.html

"An investigation has found that a mysterious ``monkey man'' who spread terror and panic in the Indian capital last month was a product of mass hysteria, newspapers said Monday."

TV movie shooting here explores paranormal
by Nick Lewis
Calgary Herald

http://www.calgaryherald.com:80/entertainment/stories/010618/5056093.html

"A Calgary home is playing host to things that go bump in the night and people who yell "action" during the day."

Wall Street Journalist Reincarnated as Sedona Channeler
By Peter Carlson
Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16206-2001Jun19.html

"When Debbie C. Tennison was reporting for the Wall Street Journal in the early '80s, her sources included economists, financiers and politicians. Now, writing for a magazine called Sedona Journal of Emergence!, she has sources in higher places, much higher places -- places so high they are far beyond this mundane earthly realm."

Ruth S. Montgomery Dies; Wrote Account Of Seer Jeane Dixon
By Bart Barnes
Washington Post

http://washingtonpost.com:80/wp-dyn/articles/A16221-2001Jun19.html

"Ruth Shick Montgomery, 88, a former nationally syndicated news columnist who in 1965 wrote a best-selling account of the life and predictions of astrologer Jeane Dixon, died of emphysema June 10 at home in Naples, Fla."

Kennewick Man Battle Enters Crucial Phase
By Willow Lawson
ABC NEWS

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/abc/20010619/ts/kennewick_hearing010619_1.html

"The battle between Indians and scientists over a 9,300-year-old skeleton is landing in court, again."

GATOR IN CENTRAL PARK, AND THAT'S NO CROC
By JAMES CLENCH and DEVLIN BARRETT
New York Post

http://www.nypostonline.com/news/regionalnews/32892.htm

"A slithering, evil-eyed alligator is lurking where New Yorkers least expect it - in an otherwise peaceful lake in Central Park."

Disney movie wants to resurrect myths of `Atlantis'
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
Associated Press

http://www.kcstar.com:80/item/pages/fyi.pat?file=fyi/3accbfd1.614

"Atlantis has risen!"

One UFO expert says that aliens don't get around much

From: Terry W. Colvin

Here is another take on the story that we discussed earlier this ear.
- Steve

http://www.sciam.com/2001/0701issue/0701antimatter.html

Out of This World

ONE UFO EXPERT SAYS THAT ALIENS DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE.
BUT WHAT IF THAT'S JUST WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK?
BY STEVE MIRSKY

The sun, or perhaps some other star that warms intelligent beings light-years from Earth, has set on a venerable English institution. After half a century of inspired eccentricity, the British Flying Saucer Bureau has closed the pod bay doors. It has ceased to be. It has expired. It is pushing up crop circles. It is an ex-bureau. The reason: the bureau has virtually stopped receiving reports of flying saucers. A family enterprise, the bureau was the 1953 brainchild of the late Edgar Plunkett and his son Denis (which makes Denis both the bureau's father and brainbrother). At the height of alien activity, the Plunketts fielded some 30 reported sightings a week, and the bureau claimed about 1,500 members scattered around the world, if not beyond. But now no one seems to be reporting UFOs.

---------------------------------------------------------
The drop-off in close encounters may have a reasonable explanation: perhaps the aliens have completed their survey of Earth.
---------------------------------------------------------

According to the Times of London, Plunkett believes that the drop-off in close encounters may have a reasonable explanation: perhaps the aliens have completed their survey of Earth. One can sympathize with such an interpretation. My own home, for example, has been blessedly elephant-free lo these many years, clearly the result of some incredibly efficacious antielephant spray.With an abiding faith in Occam's new Mach3 razor--one blade tugs on loopy logic while the second blade cuts it off, leaving the third blade to skate on exceptionally thin ice--I propose other possible explanations for the downturn in UFO reports: The aliens have finally perfected their cloaking technology. After all, evidence of absence is not absence of evidence (which is, of course, not evidence of absence). Just because we no longer see the aliens doesn't mean they're not there. Actually, they are there; the skies are lousy with them, they're coco-butting one another's bald, veined, throbbing, giant heads over the best orbits. But until they drop the cloak because they've got some beaming to do, we won't see them. Sightings are as frequent as ever; people are merely neglecting to report them. With 401(k)s threatening to leave impact craters, no one is interested in aliens unless Alan Greenspan is one. People are still seeing them, but the aliens have administered a mass posthypnotic suggestion: "When you start to think of aliens, immediately switch to thinking about mad cow disease." The aliens have cleverly designed their ships to look just like standard commercial aircraft, thus explaining the massive delays at LaGuardia airport. (Newark airport is alien-free, the extraterrestrials having avoided New Jersey since the Grovers Mill snafu of '38.) The aliens are indeed gone, but the idea that they could complete their survey of Earth in a mere 50 years is both ludicrous and insulting. In fact, they ran out of alien government funding. Besides, a lot of the aliens back on their home planet thought that the missions to Earth were just a big hoax anyway. These alternatives should buoy Denis Plunkett's continued belief in extraterrestrial interlopers. "I am just as enthusiastic about flying saucers as I always was," he told the Times, "but the problem is that we are in the middle of a long, long trough." Assuming "trough" means "lull," my calculations indicate that he shouldn't give up so easily. The bureau started in 1953, so being in the middle of the trough means that UFO sightings should be peaking no later than 2049. If by "trough," however, Denis means "feedbox," we should climb out immediately. Especially if there are any stray copies of that alien best-seller To Serve Man lying around.


Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Popular Mechanics: When UFOs Land

From: Terry W. Colvin

[See the URL for pictures and diagrams. --MS]

http://www.popularmechanics.com/popmech/sci/0105STMIAP.html

WHEN UFOS LAND

At long last, scientists have there hands on the proof skeptics say doesn't exist -- physical evidence of flying saucers.

By Jim Wilson
Illustrated by Edwin Herder

The rich really are different. When Laurance S. Rockefeller-yes, those Rockefellers-wanted to know more about UFOs, he didn't have to satisfy his curiosity at alien-hunters' Web sites or in the Weird Science section of Barnes & Noble. He asked Peter A. Sturrock, the former director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford University, to convene a private meeting of a dozen top scientists at the Pocantico Conference Center, on the grounds of the old Rockefeller family estate 20 miles north of Manhattan. Sturrock's guest list and agenda was noteworthy for its omissions. Bob Lazar, who claimed to have reverse-engineered UFOs at Area 51, wasn't invited. Neither was alien-buster Philip J. Klass of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Roswell, the "face" on Mars and other familiar sightings got little attention. Instead, researchers from Princeton University, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Center for Space Research in France focused on cases with more meat on their bones-sightings in which physical evidence was left behind. "While their findings were not conclusive, I hope [they] will raise the level of the debate," Rockefeller said afterward.

"Ask most scientists what they think of the UFO enigma and you will almost certainly get a scoff and a brushoff like, 'There's not one shred of evidence,'" says Bernard Haisch, an astronomer with more than 100 scientific publications to his credit. "That answer is simply not true. The problem is that this evidence does not follow our expected scientific logic, and so scientists dismiss what is, in fact, a huge number of accounts. Many sighting reports, as absurd as they sometimes appear, are probably real. Most professional scientists never bother to look at the evidence. Instead, the dogmatic dismissals by professional debunkers, which are often patently ridiculous, are simply taken at face value."

As you will see for yourself, some of the cases discussed at Pocantico are difficult for even die-hard skeptics to ignore.

Israeli Tesla Weapons

From: Terry W. Colvin

"In the 1930s the unorthodox inventor Nikola Tesla announced to the world two astonishing new inventions. The first was a particle-beam projector that Tesla intended to be used as an instrument of national defense. He called his system "teleforce." With this machine he declared that a nation could bring wholesale destruction upon invading armies and shoot down fleets of incoming aircraft when they were 200 miles away. While the basic beam weapon concept was first revealed in 1934, on Tesla's 78th birthday, specific details about the actual device have been difficult to obtain. " Nikola Tesla's Teleforce & Telegeodynamics Proposals Limited Edition Tesla Presents Series, Part 4 (see http://www.tfcbooks.com/more/381tele.htm)

I don't know how many agree or disagree to the Israelis' use of F-16 fighter jets in the air raid that killed 16 Palestinians. Strong international criticisms were conveyed. Later the Arab Leaque met on a meeting and planned to severe diplomatic contacts with Israel. This is all very serious and my eyes are on Israel ever since the conflict began months ago because it can directly affect the peace and order in my region. So is it justified for Israel to use full scale military war machine (F-16s) on the Palestinians? Stone has emphasized that he would use all force necessary to protect the interest of Israel. He mentioned something about the Jews have suffered for 2000 years and they would do everything they can to protect themselves.

Many years back. Israel has began extensive research and development on particle beam weaponry with the United States. Does anyone know how many of Tesla's inventions were integrated into the research and development. Israel may have the most advanced particle beam research in the planet. And who knows. They may already be in phase two with the research and development of anti-matter and scalar weaponry (hinted at by Col. Tom Bearden).

I'm not much worried of Israel using the weapons in isolated conflict than the Arab Nations getting hold of the technology and their spread to the entire regions. One side effect of scalar weaponry as warned by Tom Bearden is mass earthquakes that can reverberate around the planet.

Isn't it that Revelations speak of massive earthquakes that will befall Earth once the major battle called Armageddon at Israel begins with the massive eastern troops massing towards Israel as well as the Western groups massing towards it.

Israel has now over 500 tactical nukes that can be deployed anytime. If you will take into account the Tesla Weapons that they will display in an all out war, then you will have utter chaos (not to mention global earthquakes) everywhere when that unfortunate days come.

The Bible appears to warn of nuclear strike by Israel.

Zecharia 14:12: And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. (Zechariah speaks of what would happened in the far future)

Only a nuclear strike miles away can consume the flesh while they stand upon their feet, eyes consume away in their holes, and tongue consume away in their mouth

What other weapons can do that? Can a particle beam weapon or certain tesla weapon do that too? What would happen to a man hit by such technology?

Israel would like to avoid nuclear showdown if possible because they don't want to contaminate the land with radioactivity. The loss of nearby regions can mean their loss too. This is why Israel is putting priority in research and development of exotic conventional weapons such as particle beam weaponry and tesla weapons. The greatest danger is the earthquake that would be produced by the scalar based tesla technology predicted by Col. Tom Bearden should an all out confrontation occurs.

That is why we must all pray for peace in the middle east and get involved in the peace process and peace treaty. Write to your senators, congressman, etc. and urge for strong presence and effort in the peace negotiations as well as war machines assessment to make sure Israel won't have the tesla weapons of mass destruction. If they are now in the process of being developed. Sanctions and actions must be contemplated early enough to prevent its spread and growth (if this is at all possible). Presently Egypt and another Arab nation have already withdrawn from participating in any peace talks or treaty. Just imagine what Israel would do if a suicide bomber successfully killed 50 or 100 Israeli, then the next minute, we will have all out war in the region. Should US send its troops and war machines to help protect Israel. China will find the opportionity to attack Taiwan. And WWIII would officially begin. Right now. We have enough weapons in the planet to give each man, woman and child a machine gun including one tactical nuke for each family. Hell is on earth. Let's not pretend it is all peace and love and light. Because it is not. We have to get real and wake up. What happens in the middle east can have a drastic effect on the entire planet. It is not yet too late to seek for peace and let it live long into the next generations and beyond. We are all here for a purpose and it is evolution of the mind and spirit and not enslavement to matter and endless conflicts and wars that can bind us forever.

TEACHER BOILS OVER 'WITCH' HUNT

By ANGELA C. ALLEN and TRACY CONNOR

http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/33030.htm

June 20, 2001 -- A Long Island teacher filed a million-dollar lawsuit against her school district yesterday, claiming administrators on a witch hunt are trying to boot her because of rumors she's a black-magic woman.


Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Raising the value of the dollar.

The U.S. Treasury recently sold 44,000 one-dollar bills to a single person at, not $44,000, but at $261,800. They weren't old bills, didn't have any flaws which would make them unique and, in fact, would have been worth no more than $44,000 to most collectors.

So why did someone pay over a quarter of a million for these?

What they all had in common was that they all had four number eights in a row in their serial numbers, a sign that many Asian people believe is a sign of luck. Certainly this turned out to be a lucky sequence for the U.S. Treasury! 70,000 other so called ''prosperity notes'' have been sold to thousands of people around the world at $4.95 each.

The number 8 in Cantonese is a pun for the word ''to prosper'' so '8' is used often in the culture. People will often pay a premium for properties if their address contains an 8. On the other hand, the word for four in Cantonese, Japanese and Korean sounds like 'death' so anything with a four is considered unlucky, just as the number 13 in the U.S. is considered by some to be unlucky.

ABC News 25-May-01
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/DailyNews/luckymoney010525.html

Maharishi's followers want their own sovereign state

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_317075.html?menu=

Followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi want to set up a sovereign state on rural land in South America.

The government of Suriname has so far refused their offer to invest $1.3 billion over three years to establish a 3,500 hectare state.

The group wants to set up a "Global Country of World Peace" with its own currency, central bank and jurisdiction.

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was famous in the 1960s for teaching the Beatles transcendental meditation. His followers want to lease the land for 200 years.

They say the project will not promote any religion and will create 10,000 jobs. The sovereign state's main industry would be organic farming and export of produce.

Suriname President Ronald Venetiaan has not responded to requests to start negotiations.

Winston Wirht, vice president of the Maharishi Council for Economic Development of Suriname, says the government would get one per cent of the money the state's central bank puts into circulation each year.

He said: "It is unimaginable what this country will gain. It's a shame Venetiaan does not seem willing to even talk to us."

The Maharishi group already has its own incorporated city in Iowa, US, called Vedic City. It says five million followers worldwide practice transcendental meditation to improve their health.

Livestock may be vaccinated against farting

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_317224.html?menu=

A new anti-farting vaccine for sheep and cattle might cut down on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

It works by reducing the amount of gut organisms which produce methane during digestion.

Methane currently accounts for around 14% of Australia's greenhouse gases. Much of it has been put down to livestock.

Over the last three years a number of vaccines have been tested on sheep with a reduction in methane production of between 11 and 23%.

Experts at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation now believe they have finalised the ingredients of the first commercial sheep fart vaccine.

They will now begin work on a vaccine for cattle, which contribute about 70% of Australia's total livestock methane.

Bookies slash the odds of aliens being officially confirmed

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_316930.html?menu=

Bookies have slashed the odds on the Prime Minister officially confirming the existence of aliens.

The move comes after a Scottish photographer captured a possible UFO on film.

William Hill has halved the odds after Mark Runnacles snapped the object flying over Glasgow.

Student Alexander McCallum, 38, of Dalmarnock, has also produced a photograph of a UFO over Glasgow which he says appears identical to Mr Runnacles', who works for a Scottish newspaper.

Graham Sharpe, William Hill spokesman, told the Daily Record: "We have taken several bets at our usual odds of 100-1 and decided to halve the odds to 50-1 in case these pictures herald a UFO breakthrough."

Mr McCallum said: "When I saw the pictures, I was amazed because I photographed what appears to have been an identical flying saucer over Glasgow three weeks ago. I didn't know I had got it until the film was developed later."

The paper says the Ministry of Defence is to investigate 27-year-old Mr Runnacles' pictures.

Scientists in 70-year watch for drips

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_316998.html?menu=

Scientists are conducting a 70-year-long experiment which is the equivalent of watching paint dry.

The experiment is to 'prove' pitch, like tar, is fluid not solid. Scientists are monitoring how the pitch flows from a jar into a dish.

They have now set up a web cam which broadcasts live footage of the experiment on the internet.

The pitch drop viscosity experiment started in 1927. Eleven years later the first 'drip' formed.

The second drip was seen in 1947 and the third in 1954 before things really started hotting up.

Drips came thick and fast with one each in 1962, 1970 and 1979. A seventh drop fell in 1988.

The experiment was started by Professor Thomas Parnell, who died in 1947, with the experiment still in its infancy.

Experts at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, are now watching and waiting with baited breath for the next drip, reports the Daily Mail.

Scientists estimate pitch is 100 billion times more viscous than water, is driven by gravity and is retarded by its extreme viscosity.

Full details of the experiment are reproduced in the science periodical, the Annals of Improbable Research.

http://www.jir.com/


Monday, June 18, 2001

CSICOP In The News

From: Barry Karr

CSICOP In The News
April-May 2001

ATTENTION CSICOP Friends: Five more "Skeptical Inquirer" programs are now running regularly on the Discovery Science Channel. Topics include NDEs, remote viewing, firewalking, staring theory, and spontaneous human combustions. These programs are hosted by William B. Davis of X-Files fame, and feature CSICOP's James Alcock, Paul Kurtz and Joe Nickell. Now totalling ten, these 3-minute "shorts" run several times per day on the Science Channel. The first five cover acupuncture, astrology, hauntings, homeopathy, and magnet therapy.

NOTABLE STRAGGLER:

March 18th, 2001
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
"Out of this World: Doctor's sideline is extraterrestrial investigations"
SYNDICATED
By Cecilia Chan

Thousand Oaks, California, Podiatrist Roger Leir has a fetish: it's not feet, it's alien implants. Leir claims to have remove BB-sized objects from patients that are made from any materials known on this world. Chan turns to Joe Nickell for the skeptical take on Leir's claims. According to Nickell, Leir's so-called alien implants are more likely a fragment of collagen or a bone; a small piece of metal or glass lodged in the foot. Nickell also discusses the developing mythology of UFOs and abductions.

April 2001
Atlantic Monthly (Boston, MA)
"Innocent Bystander: Thy Will Be Done"
by Cullen Murphy

Cullen discusses claims of intercessory prayer and the alleged positive results of recent studies, cites CSICOP as organization critical of these claims.

April 1, 2001
New York Times News Service
"Skeptics would love to see supernatural occurence" SYNDICTED

The NY Times News Service interviews CFI-West director James Underdown about his test of Sparky, an alleged canine mathematical genius who could count off numbers by barking. Underdown discovered that the dog was actually barking a certain number of times at the cue of his owner.

April 8, 2001
The New York Times
"Darwin vs. Design: Evolutionists' New Battle" SYNDICATED
by James Glanz, The New York Times

Times science writer James Glanz reports on the latest tactical tool of creationists: Intelligent Design. Glanz quotes Dr. Taner Edis and cites his article in the March/April 2001 Skeptical Inquirer.

Friday the 13th Stories:

April 12, 2001
Montgomery County Sentinel (Washington, DC Metro)
"Friday the 13th or Good Friday: Take your pick"
by Feleece Jarvis

April 13, 2001
Register-Herald (Beckley, WV)
"The history of bad luck revealed"
by Neal Clark

April 13, 2001
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (San Gabriel, CA)
"Mystique of Friday the 13th re-emerges"
by Stephanie Cain

***

April 22, 2001
Plain Dealer (Wabash, IN)
"Church warns about exocism (sic) demands"

Evangelical protestant minister Bob Larson performs more than a dozen "exorcisms" per week. Article discusses the RCC's views on exorcism and the practice as a cultural phenomenon (e.g. 1973 "The Exorcist") Joe Nickell says that the 1949 case that inspired The Exorcist was nothing more than a disturbed boy looking for attention.

April 24, 2001
Union-Tribune (San Diego, CA)
"Virtual Woman: There's plenty of background being covered on the Web"
by Sue Levin

In her column, Levin points a reader confused about magnet therapy to www.csicop.org to get the skeptical scoop of the junk science behind this alternative therapy.

May 9, 2001
WLAC NEWSRADIO (Nashville, TN)

Joe Nickell guest on morning show. Subject: Disclosure Project

May 10, 2001
wired.com
"Ooo-Wee-Ooo Fans Come to D.C."
by Declan McCullagh

McCullagh covers the Disclosure Project conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Founder Steven Greer claimed that his group has identified "several hundred witnesses throughout the world " eager to testify before Congress about their encounters with alien beings or spacecraft. McCullagh quotes CSICOP PR Director Kevin Christopher, and Sr. Research Fellow Joe Nickell about the utter lack of any hard evidence and the shamless pseudoscience and speculation employed by Greer and others.

May 15, 2001
"The Breakfast Club" (Kingston, Jamaica)

Joe Nickell was guest on a favorite Jamaican morning radio show, debating other guests on the evidence for ghosts and other paranormal topics.

May 15, 2001
News Radio 93.8FM (Singapore)

Paul Kurtz interviewed by Siew Yaw Hoong for NewsRadio 93.8FM, Singapore, on the subject of the history of CSICOP and its role in promoting skepticism.

May 27, 2001
The Buffalo News
"Visitations"
by Paul Voell

A feature story by News staff reporter Paula Voell discusses claims by some people that they have seen a deceased loved one, or gotten some "sign" from the spirit world. CSICOP Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell offers science and skepticism as the explanation, such as the psychological phenomenon of waking dreams.

Thais ignore warnings against drinking urine - Ananova Alerting

An increasing number of Thais are believed to be drinking their own urine, despite warnings that it's a health risk.

People suffering from deadly diseases say drinking urine has helped them feel better, while some beauty queens say it can improve their looks.

A Thai health official warned that use of urine could be harmful.

Kittikool Saorunee, 47, has suffered from severe allergies and liver tumours for years and started drinking his own urine two years ago.

He said: "Urine is an amazing medicine. Now I drink my urine every morning. I also use it to clean my nasal orifice to help with the allergy."

Kanitha Sorirab, 26, a runner-up in the Miss Internet 1998 competition, recommends urine as a beauty aid, The Nation reports.

See this story on the web at
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_325407.html

New Skeptiseum Artifacts & New Skeptical Books

From: Barry Karr

Expanded Alternative Medicine section on CSICOP's Skeptiseum

Amherst, N.Y. (June 13, 2001)--The Skeptiseum is the first and best virtual museum dedicated to pseudoscience and the paranormal. As promised, this resource is being continually updated and expanded. The "Alternative Medicine" gallery now features over a dozen new artifacts from the collection of CSICOP Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell, displayed in nearly two dozen new photo images.

Joe Nickell himself has written the descriptions explaining the context and significance of each artifact; all artifacts are housed at CSICOP's headquarters in Amherst, NY.

Visit the Skeptiseum at www.csicop.org/skeptiseum. Comments are welcome.

JUST PUBLISHED: TWO NEW BOOKS BY PAUL KURTZ

Skepticism and Humanism
The New Paradigm

Democratic revolutions and the doctrine of universal human rights have captured the imagination of large sectors of humanity, while major advances in science and technology continue to conquer disease and extend life, contributing to rising standards of living, affluence, and cultural freedom on a worldwide basis. Paradoxically, ancient authoritarian fundamentalist religions have grown in vitriolic intensity along with bizarre New Age, media-driven paranormal belief systems. Also surprising is the resurgence of primitive tribal and ethnic loyalties, unleashing wars of intolerance and bitterness. Kurtz locates these threatening developments within a largely unchallenged theological worldview. He proposes, as an alternative to religion, a new cultural paradigm rooted in scientific naturalism, rationalism, and a humanistic outlook.

The skeptical worldview has been given little currency even in advanced societies, because of a cultural prohibition against the criticism of religion. At the same time, science has become increasingly narrow and specialized so that few people can draw on its broader intellectual and cultural implications. Skepticism and Humanism attempts to meet this need. It defends skepticism as a method for developing reliable knowledge by using scientific inquiry and reason to test all claims to truth. It also defends scientific naturalism-an evolutionary view of nature, life, and the human species. Kurtz sees the dominant religious doctrines as drawn from an agricultural/nomadic past, and emphasizes the need for a new outlook applicable to the postindustrial information age.

There can be no doubt that as a new global civilization emerges, scientific naturalism, rationalism, and secular humanism have something significant to say about the meaning of life. Skepticism and Humanism shows how they can be used to foster democratic values and social prosperity. The book will be important for philosophers, scientists, and all those concerned with contemporary issues.

Paul Kurtz taught at Trinity College, Union College, the New School, Vassar College, and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is the author of some thirty-five books including Toward a New Enlightenment (1993), Humanist Manifesto 2000 (1999), and Embracing the Power of Humanism (2000). He is chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry magazine. He is a former co-president of the IHEU.

Philosophy * Cultural Studies * Political Science
ISBN: 0-7658-0051-9 (cloth) * $39.95
May 2001 * 306 pp.

SKEPTICAL ODYSSEYS
PERSONAL ACCOUNTS BY THE WORLD'S LEADING PARANORMAL INQUIRERS

Issued on the 25th anniversary of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), this book brings together personal statements by the leading skeptics of the world. CSICOP, the first major organization of skeptics on the contemporary scene, is worldwide in scope and is dedicated to the skeptical evaluation of both paranormal and religious claims in the light of scientific inquiry. All of the articles are original and written especially for this collection. Many pieces are autobiographical; others reflect on the current state of research into paranormal claims.

The contributors focus on ESP and parapsychology, astrology, UFOlogy, the difference between science and pseudoscience, alternative medicine, magic, near-death experiences, spiritual energy, Bible codes, and religious claims that purport to have empirical foundations.

The thirty-seven distinguished contributors are James Alcock, Steve Allen, Robert A. Baker, Barry L. Beyerstein, Susan J. Blackmore, Vern L. Bullough, Geoffrey Dean, Sanal Edamaruku, Antony Flew, Kendrick Frazier, Luis Alfonso Gámez, Martin Gardner, Henry Gordon, Cornelis de Jager, Leon Jaroff, Barry Karr, Ivan W. Kelly, Philip J. Klass, Paul Kurtz, Valerií A. Kuvakin, Mario Mendez-Acosta, David Morrison, Joe Nickell, Jan Willem Nienhuys, Lee Nisbet, Bill Nye, Jean-Claude Pecker, Massimo Polidoro, Gary P. Posner, Wallace Sampson, Béla Scheiber, Eugenie Scott, Robert Sheaffer, Michael Shermer, Victor Stenger, David E. Thomas, and Neil de Grasse Tyson. Contributors come from the USA, Canada, Britain, France, India, the Netherlands, Spain, México, and Russia. A knock-out and unique compendium!

ISBN: 1-57392-884-4 (cloth) * $27.00
June 2001 * 400 pp.

SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase Skepticism and Humanism now for a reduced prepublication price of $32 plus $3 shipping and handling.

YES, please send me ______ copies of Paul Kurtz's Skepticism and
Humanism
: The New Paradigm for $32 + $3 shipping each, for a total of $______________.

YES, please send me ______ copies of Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts
by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers for $27 + $3 shipping each, for a total of $______________.

Grand total: $___________

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__ Check or money order enclosed. (Must be in U.S. funds drawn on a U.S. bank.)
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Signature:________________________________________
Send to: Center for Inquiry, PO Box 741, Amherst NY 14226-0741, or fax to 1 (716) 636-1733.

magazine articles 9

From: Raymond Nelke

UFO

Out of This World One UFO expert says that aliens don't get around much anymore. But what if that's just what they want you to think?

From - Date - Author

Scientific American - July 2001 - Steve Mirsky

LOCATED AT:
http://www.sciam.com/2001/0701issue/0701antimatter.html
__________________________

CRYPTOZOOLOGY - BIGFOOT

The scarlet B My lifelong fling with Bigfoot has stomped on my dating prospects...

From - Date - Author
Salon.com - June 8, 2001 - Kyle Mizokami

LOCATED AT:
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/06/08/scarlet_b/index.html
_____________________________________

CRYPTOZOOLOGY - BIGFOOT

Tracking the Bigfoot trackers They're dedicated, they're picky and they're an endangered species...

From - Date - Author
Salon.com - June 8, 2001 - Phil Busse

LOCATED AT:
http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/06/08/bigfoot/index.html
____________________________

UFO - PARANORMAL - SPACE STATION

My own private space station Robert Bigelow has his funding priorities straight: Orbiting cruise ships and paranormal research...

From - Date - Author
Salon.com - June 7, 2001 - Amy Standen

LOCATED AT:
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/06/07/bigelow/index.html
_____________________

MEDICINE - ALTERNATIVE

Pseudoscience and Antiscience in Alternative Medicine Modes of alternative medicine lack---arguably by definition---a scientific evidential basis, and most alt-med methods lack even a scientific theoretical basis...

From - Date - Author
Priorities - 1st Quarter 2001 - Jack Raso & Samuel Homola

LOCATED AT:
http://www.acsh.org/publications/priorities/1301/alt_med.html
__________________________

RELIGION - SKEPTICAL INQUIRY - CSICOP

Should Skeptical Inquiry Be Applied to Religion? Skeptical inquirers can and should examine religious claims, though the case can be made that CSICOP should not.

From - Date - Author
Skeptical Inquirer - July 1999 - Paul Kurtz

LOCATED AT:
http://www.csicop.org/si/9907/kurtz.html

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

PARANORMAL - EDGAR CAYCE - PROPHESY - PSYCHIC

"Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet" by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick The honorable psychic who silenced skeptics, predicted both world wars and cured illnesses barely made a dime off his bizarre talents.

From - Date - Author
Salon.com - September 26, 2000 - Katharine Whittemore

LOCATED AT:
http://www.salon.com/books/review/2000/09/26/kirkpatrick/index.html

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

Thanks to:
http://www.magportal.com/
For the source of the above articles

Articles of Note & Is Parapsychology Science?

From: Barry Karr

Tracking the Bigfoot trackers
By Phil Busse
Salon
http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/06/08/bigfoot/index.html

"Three concrete molds of large feet lie in the grass at the base of Richard Knoll's truck. They're about the size of a frying pan, and stand out distinctly against the dry, brown grass. Knoll says they are impressions left behind by Bigfoot as it walked alongside a riverbank somewhere in the dark recesses of the Pacific Northwest."

The scarlet B
By Kyle Mizokami
Salon
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/06/08/scarlet_b/index.html

"A few months ago, lonely and not meeting anyone in my current social circles, I posted a personal ad on a San Francisco community Web site. The ad, of course, made no mention of the invisible scarlet B I wear on my vested breast."

Magician to Open School for Magic
Reuters
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010611/od/magic_dc_1.html

"A celebrated Indian illusionist who astonished spectators last year when he made the Taj Mahal vanish for two minutes plans to start a school for budding magicians."

Out of This World
BY STEVE MIRSKY
Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com:80/2001/0701issue/0701antimatter.html

"The sun, or perhaps some other star that warms intelligent beings light-years from Earth, has set on a venerable English institution. After half a century of inspired eccentricity, the British Flying Saucer Bureau has closed the pod bay doors. It has ceased to be. It has expired. It is pushing up crop circles. It is an ex-bureau. The reason: the bureau has virtually stopped receiving reports of flying saucers."

Listening to Master Li
by SUSAN J. PALMER
Montreal Gazette
http://www.montrealgazette.com:80/editorial/pages/010609/5007397.html

"Suddenly I was about to behold Master Li. After a frustrating year researching the Falun Gong movement, at last a breakthrough. It was Saturday, May 19, and I was standing outside the hall of the Ottawa Congress Centre, where a thousand Falun Gong practitioners - overwhelmingly Chinese - sat in silk suits listening to fellow practitioners give their testimonials."

Health care fraud prompts federal crackdown
BY MIKE ROBINSON
ASSOCIATED PRESS
http://www.suntimes.com:80/output/news/10med.html

"So-called recruiters drummed up business for two Chicago hospitals by passing out cash and free cigarettes to residents of homeless shelters willing to check in as patients, prosecutors say."

2 sentenced in church-run fraud
By GRAHAM BRINK
St. Petersburg Times

http://www.sptimes.com:80/News/060701/TampaBay/2_sentenced_in_church.shtml

"Two former members of the Greater Ministries International Church who admitted to helping bilk tens of millions of dollars from thousands of victims were sentenced to prison Wednesday."

The Truth and the Hype of Hypnosis
By Michael R. Nash
Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com:80/2001/0701issue/0701nash.html

""You are getting sleepy. Verrry sleepy ...""

Barry, I'd be grateful if you could pass this on to the confraternity in the hopes of engendering some useful participation.

Thanks,
Vicki

Greetings folks,

I've been involved with a bunch of people in the US who produce a television show on the Great Questions of Science. The Closer to Truth team is a good group, looking to debate some of the eternal verities, and you might find their Web site (http://closertotruth.com) of interest.

CTT has launched a major discussion on whether there is any science to parapsychology, including involvement from a broad range of pro and con and interested parties.

Closer to Truth ran a television programme on "What is Parapsychology" with participation from Marilyn Schlitz, Dean Radin, Charles Tart, Barry Beyerstein and James Trefil, with Robert Kuhn as moderator. You can see this online, or read the transcript at:

http://www.closertotruth.com/topics/mindbrain/212/index.html

CTT has now established a Hyperforum online discussion area which they are hoping to use to provide some professional-level debate on the issue, including some informed discussion of experimental protocols, reasoned critiques etc. The Hyperforum is being moderated by Dr Jim Bonomo, who has written a great introductory essay to get the ball rolling. You can see how it's run at:

http://www.hf.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/hnctt/get/show212.html

Ideally, we hope to see the HyperForum provide a useful place for serious researchers to get some ideas, feedback, suggestions etc so that people would gain some value in participating. It shouldn't be too time-consuming and, judging from the other HyperForum run by CTT, will be thought-provoking.

It's a good opportunity to have some informed debate on the issue without it getting inundated in the inanities or abuse that plague so many other would-be forums. At this point, there hasn't been much in the way of good solid skeptical input, so I'd like to urge anyone with an interest in this area to take a look at the site and help the discussion along.

All the best,
Vicki Hyde
Chair-entity, NZCSICOP

=================================================
New Zealand Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal Inc. (NZ Skeptics)
Box 29-492, Christchurch http://www.skeptics.org.nz

Bob Jones U. teaches how to treat Earth

Here's a verbatim excerpt from the Bob Jones University Biology Dept. page
(http://www.bju.edu/academic/admissions/pops/pops.asp?section=biology):

Biology

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE MAJOR

The challenging field of biology, the study of living things, is a natural place for the Christian. Science, as understood by the public, is largely infiltrated and controlled by the godless ideology of evolutionism. Rather than worshipping the anatomical key as does the unbeliever, the Christian sees in the study of biology the evidence of an infinitely wise Creator. Bob Jones University offers a major in biology on a firm philosophical basis that combines scientific excellence with an emphasis on the Biblical account of creation. Believing that God still calls Christians to "subdue the earth and have dominion over it," the biology faculty trains Christian young people to exercise their God-given ability to study the creation and subdue it and, thus, bring praise to the Creator.

Sonic Silver

From John Byers

Danny Dominguez will be our MaxHealth guest speaker Tuesday June 19th at 6:30 pm PST, conference call number is 512-305-4600 pin code 55221#.

Mr. Dominguez is the formulator of the Sonic Silver .Sonic Silver is a pure 99.999% ionic silver particles smaller and more bio-available a collioid mineral. The Sonic Silver is infused into pure water by the application of restructed electrons, highly charged with negative ions from the earth's geo-electromagnetic ionosphere energy.

Sonic Silver is a very powerful anti-biotic and an all natural approach to healthcare.

Joined in Partnership,

StarMax.cc, Corporate Office
Las Vegas, Nevada

a.k.a. TriStar, distributor of Instrasound products:
http://www.dharmagroup.com/web/intrasound.htm


Sunday, June 17, 2001

Articles of Note

Thanks again to Skeptic Newshound Joe Littrell

Lab Study Finds Vitamin C Dangers
By PAUL RECER
Associated Press
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010614/ts/vitamin_uncertainty_3.html

"The vitamin C pills taken by millions of health-conscious Americans may actually help produce toxins that can damage their DNA, a step toward forming cancer cells, a laboratory study suggests."

FTC Settles Internet Fraud Charges
By DAVID HO
Associated Press

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010614/ts/internet_health_fraud_4.html

"The Federal Trade Commission has settled fraud charges against five companies that used the Internet to sell miracle cures for everything from AIDS to cancer."

Monkeyman's ghost haunts the police
By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
The Hindu
http://www.the-hindu.com/stories/1415218q.htm

"The monkeyman mystery that shook Delhi not long ago refuses to die. Its ghost continues to haunt the Delhi police who are finding it extremel difficult to exorcise it. And with independent investigations by doctors of Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital and Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences and scientists of Central Forensic Science Laboratory not pointing to mass hysteria alone, the police are still battling with the mysterious figure."

Darwin hits back
BY ROGER DOWNEY
Seattle Weekly
http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0124/news-downey.shtml

"WE SEATTLEITES are suckers for national media attention, but even the most boosterish among us may admit to qualms about our latest claim on the spotlight: as a mail-order nursery for an attractive yet noxious intellectual weed called Intelligent Design--a supposed scientific alternative to the Godless materialism of evolutionary theory as taught by Charles Darwin and his followers."

Did FDR know?
By Judith Greer
Salon
http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2001/06/14/fdr/index.html

"On many mornings during the late 1980s, when my husband and I drove down to Hickam Air Force Base, the luminous view from the road above Pearl Harbor made us think of how it must have looked when the torpedo planes came buzzing in on Dec. 7, 1941."

Mystery of Glowing Wounds Solved
By Linda Searing
HealthScoutNews

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/hsn/20010612/hl/mystery_of_glowing_wounds_solved_1.html

"Tales of injured soldiers with wounds that glow in the dark have been told by Civil War buffs for ages."

Apple gives satanists hell
Macworld
http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/top_news_item.cfm?NewsID=3028

"Apple's legal team is in dispute with The Church of Satan."

Arthur C. Clarke Stands by his Belief in Life on Mars

From: Terry W. Colvin

SMITHSONIAN'S NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, probably the world's most famous space author, spoke by phone from Sri Lanka on June 6, to the Wernher von Braun Memorial Lecture Series. He told the audience he believes that new images of Mars clearly show the red planet dotted with patches of vegetation, including trees. He feels this fact may spark new exploration of Mars. He and director Stanley Kubrick joined to produce "2001: A Space Odyssey." Clarke claims to have studied images from Mars taken by the now-orbiting Mars Global Surveyor on his home computer. Clarke encourges everyone to have a really good look at these new Mars images," Clarke said. "Something is actually moving and changing with the seasons that suggests, at the very least vegetation." There is something akin to Banyan trees in some Mars photos.

Editor's Note: I personally have also studied these images and agree with Sir Arthur Clarke that there are signs of vegetation evident in the photos. I had experience in photo interpretation while in the Air Force and I think the water at the Martian Poles is melting in the spring and creating some kind of vegetation as it moves towards the equator. The color and branches appear similar to trees. In addition, there also appear to be structures, possible earth moving equipment, tunnels, and other indications of Martian Life. Having traveled to many of our Earth's pyramids, the D&M Pyramid on Mars is particularly intriguing. The five-sided pyramid reveals a structure that is contradictory with the surrounding geology. Neither volcanic nor other geomorphologic processes are likely to create a natural mechanism for the formation of an equilateral five-sided pyramid. Further like our own pyramids the structure is situated in a complex surrounded by other likely structures. ! The pyramid is only part of the larger Cydonia complex. The structures have a similarity to the ancient Kingdom of Kush in Sudan. We can speculate the Cydonia complex may represent some type of fortifications or religious compound. The corners of the D&M Pyramid appear to point towards the city at Cydonia and the Mars face. The pyramids on Earth are known to be structures built by intelligent beings, it seems logical that intelligence was needed to build or shape the D&M Pyramid. Additionally, the possibility of a tunnel complex on Mars creates even more interesting questions. The intricate relationships are so numerous that I must agree with Sir Arthur Clarke that the highly sophisticated designs indicates life on Mars.

Source:
Filer's Files #24 -- 2000, MUFON Skywatch Investigations
George A. Filer, Director, Mutual UFO Network Eastern
June 11, 2001, Sponsored by Electronic Arts, Majorstar@aol.com.
Webmaster Chuck Warren http://www.filersfiles.com,

Michael Cremo On Atlantis

From: Terry W. Colvin

Atlantis in the Andes Learning Channel Special Features Michael Cremo

June 22, 2001 10:00 pm Airdate The Learning Channel will feature Michael Cremo and other anomalous authorities in a forthcoming special called "Atlantis in the Andes" linking the cultural center of Tiawanaku to the empire of Atlantis. Based in part upon the book Atlantis: The Andes Solution by Jim Allen, this promises to be another excellent production by Of Like Mind Productions. Check your local station for time variance in your area.

Soldiers could shoot at clouds to end drought

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_327568.html?menu=

Drought problems in northern China have become so bad the government has called in soldiers to fire at any clouds they spot in an attempt to bring on rain.

The sun has shone constantly for more than 100 days on this part of China, creating hot, dry and dusty weather.

The area received an average of 49mm of rain from February to May - a record low for the past 50 years.

According to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Command, it has affected 20 provinces and more than 23 million hectares of crop land, reports the South China Morning Post.

Emergency water supply plans have been drawn up for the industrial cities of Tianjin, Yantai, Weihai, Dalian, Changchun and Tangshan.

And major cities including Beijing and Tianjin have called in soldiers to scan the sky for signs of clouds.

Water levels on the Yellow River are also said to be down considerably.

Apple Tells Satanists They Can't 'Think Different'

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010616/tc/tech_apple_satanists_dc_1.html

By Peter Henderson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Here's an intellectual rebel who apparently won't be the next poster boy for Apple Computer's ''Think different'' ad campaign: America's late, leading Satanist.

Is astrology a science? Britian joins the debate

http://www.timesofindia.com/today/17woru6.htm

Magnetic immortality

From: Dave Palmer

This is a hoot:

http://alexchiu.com/

I find his rough pencil sketches of "before and after" particularly convincing...

http://alexchiu.com/eternallife/look2.htm

Slashdot has a fairly silly interview with the inventor:

http://slashdot.org/interviews/01/06/07/1421238.shtml

Robert Bigelow - My own private space station

From: Terry W. Colvin

Article about Robert Bigelow, the Maecenas of the paranormal.

Martin

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/06/07/bigelow/index.html

Robert Bigelow has his funding priorities straight: Orbiting cruise ships and paranormal research.

Another loony spotted...

I got this from the Shaver mystery mailing list, which is a group of, er, interesting people interested in a hoax from the late 1940s. Anyway, here is the link. I mist admit I never heard of this before. It should be worth a chuckle or two.

http://members.aol.com/Rapunz1/invisibility.html

Maybe we can have a telethon for sufferers of HSII.

CSICOP Library Now Online

Timothy Binga, Director of the Center for Inquiry Libraries, announced today the opening of a new web site. This site, www.cfilibraries.org, is dedicated to the missions of the Center for Inquiry Libraries and fulfills a promise to make an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) of the Libraries' holdings available on the Internet.

"We have worked really hard on finding software that would allow us to make our holdings available to everyone with an Internet connection" said Binga. "Our new library system from Brodart Automation and Infovision Technologies allows our holdings be updated daily and searchable on the World Wide Web." Binga also said that they had constructed the web site around this library software to make the Libraries more user-friendly.

"There are a few bugs to work out yet, " Binga added, "but the holdings are searchable now and we feel it is ready to be used."

The Center for Inquiry Libraries contain the collections of both the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism. There are also collections of archival material, periodicals, and microfilm / microforms.

For more information about the web site see www.cfilibraries.org or contact Timothy Binga, Center for Inquiry Libraries, at (716) 636-4869 ext. 210 or at .

Talking to Heaven Through Television

In CSICOP's latest Web feature, Generation SXeptic columnist Matt Nisbet examines how the mass media promote pyschic mediums. More details follow.

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

GENERATION SXEPTIC

Talking to Heaven Through Television: How the Mass Media Package and Sell Psychic Medium John Edward

Ithaca, N.Y.; March 13, 2001
Matt Nisbet

When psychic medium John Edward appeared March 6 on CNN's Larry King Live, viewers deserved a balanced treatment of his claims, especially considering that the Larry King Live guest panel included two skeptics and a rabbi critic. Instead, quantitative and qualitative analysis of the program's transcript indicates that King and his producers offered viewers a carefully controlled and framed promotion of psychic ability.


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