Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
A unique structure was once found beneath the sea where Japan's westernmost Yonaguni island lies. People started to call this unique artificial structure "Undersea ruins". Ten years have past since local divers found the spot.
The ruins gathered people's attention in 1997, when an investigation team from the University of the Ryukyus visited the site. TV and newspaper started to feature the story. Since then, not just geological experts but also the ancient civilization fanatics argued over whether the ruins were artificial or not. Yonaguni island has become world famous since then. What was this ruin ? What influence does it have on the history of humans and the history of the world ? Mr. Kimura, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus tells what he thinks of the undersea ruins based on his latest findings.
A giant stone structure with perfect geometric angles that appear to be tunnels and staircases has convinced some, including noted writer Graham Hancock, that an unknown ancient civilization occupied the area nearly 10,000 years ago.
But others, including a noted geologist, are skeptical, saying the geometrical shapes of the stones may be due to a unique, but natural, form of erosion.
Recent studies of the phenomenon -- such as that by Masaaki Kimura, a professor in the Department of Physics and Earth Sciences at the University of the Ryukyus -- have only fueled the debate.
Astronomers have found one of the largest objects ever detected orbiting the Sun.
It was seen in a deep space survey looking for bodies circling the Sun out near Pluto, the most distant planet. Only planets are larger than the new object, dubbed 2001 KX76. The icy, reddish world is over a thousand kilometres in size and astronomers say there may be even larger ones, bigger than planet Pluto itself, awaiting discovery. "What we have seen may be only the tip of the iceberg," co-discoverer Dr Lawrence Wasserman told BBC News Online. The world, for it is big enough to be called a world, has a typical reddish hue and is probably covered in ice. It orbits the Sun beyond Neptune in the so-called Kuiper Belt - a region that extends far beyond the known planets. Since 1992, over 400 Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) have been detected. Their discovery has revolutionised our view of the distant reaches of our solar system. It is the sheer size of 2001 KX76 that is exciting astronomers. "When we spotted it we just wrote 'wow' on the image, we knew right away it was a big one," Lawrence Wasserman, of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, told BBC News Online. "This object is intrinsically the brightest Kuiper Belt Object found so far," says Lowell Observatory Director Robert Millis. "The exact diameter of 2001 KX76 depends on assumptions that astronomers make about how its brightness relates to its size. Traditional assumptions make it the biggest by a significant amount, while others make it larger by at least 5%," he added. 2001 KX76 could be as large as 1270 km (788 miles), bigger than Ceres, the largest known asteroid - an object that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. It is even larger than Pluto's moon Charon which has an estimated diameter of 1200 km (744 miles).
2001 KX76 was discovered in the course of the Deep Ecliptic Survey, a Nasa-funded search for KBOs. It was seen on 22 May in deep digital images of the southern sky taken with the 4-metre Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo in Chile. Astronomers estimate that 2001 KX76 is currently at a distance of just over 6.4 billion km (4 billion miles) from the Sun. Its orbit is inclined by approximately 20 degrees with respect to the major planets, but the detailed shape of its orbit remains uncertain. Available evidence suggests that the newly discovered KBO may be in an orbital dance with Neptune, orbiting the Sun three times for each time that Neptune completes four orbits. "2001 KX76 is so exciting because it demonstrates that significant bodies remain to be discovered in the Kuiper Belt," Robert Millis explains. Lawrence Wasserman agrees: "We have every reason to believe that objects ranging up to planets as large or larger than Pluto are out there waiting to be found." Dr David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii who has discovered many KBO's, including the first one ever seen, told BBC News Online: "We're inching up to Pluto. It is just a matter of time until we see Pluto 2, Pluto 3 and so on." Robert Millis agrees: "Until the Kuiper Belt has been thoroughly explored, we cannot pretend to know the extent or the content of the Solar System." The researchers hope that other astronomers who have access to large telescopes over the next few weeks will be able to turn them on 2001 KX76 in the hope of gathering enough light to get a spectrum of the object.
Little is known about the autopsy, who performed it, and who made the film. Only four stills of the film are known by my source to exist. The photos may have originated from a top-secret report on the film and autopsy, however the other contents of that report remain elusive.
The quality of the images is very poor and amateurish. This would suggest that the film~Wand ergo the autopsy~Wwas done hastily, possibly by someone not trained to use a camera. The last image (going from numbers found on the pictures) seem to point to the autopsy ending with something going awry.
The date of the autopsy is unknowable from the evidence in hand. http://zapatopi.net/blackhelicopterautopsy.html
The risk of skin cancer, the causes of global warming, the dangers of high cholesterol - one expert says it's all bunk. Report by Robin McKie
Imagine a world where cholesterol is harmless, depression is beneficial and only suntan lotions cause skin cancer. Or a planet on which the industrial gases that pour from cars and factories are unconnected with increasing temperatures and rising ocean levels.
This topsy-turvy world could have been dreamt up by George W. Bush - or a Glaswegian gorging on deep-fried Mars Bars - but it may be far closer to reality than we realise.
Many of the medical and environmental horror stories that fill our newspapers and TV documentaries on subjects ranging from global warming to GM foods may be based on science that is 'so unreliable, so fragile, that it does not merit our emotional energy', according to a controversial new analysis of science in the modern world.
In Fragile Science: The Reality Behind the Headlines, Dr Robin Baker, former reader in zoology at Manchester University, argues that confusion over statistical analyses, pressure to provide speedy answers, misguided belief in computer models and the desire to attract the attention of journalists and broadcasters have misled scientists to such a degree that 'we can scarcely believe anything they tell us'.
June 29, 2001 | We earthlings have long fantasized, feared and hoped that we're not alone in the universe. Yet somehow, our dreams of alien life only seem to feature the UFO-flying variety of creature. In "Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology," astronomer (and author of about 40 science books) David Darling contends that "life" encompasses more than E.T. and the green-skinned go-go girls of "Star Trek." Bacterial life-forms from other planets have the potential to profoundly affect our understanding of the cosmos, as well as ourselves. Darling expertly explores the accomplishments and goals of this young, controversial science and looks with great optimism to the possibility of discovering life on Mars, on the moons of Jupiter and even on planets outside our solar system.
Darling spoke to Salon from his home in Brainard, Minn.
Who knows? Maybe some even came from outer space. This much is certain: More than 600 UFO enthusiasts crowded into a University of Colorado auditoreum intended for about 500 Saturday, sitting on stairs, the floor and standing at the back of the room.
They came to see a two-hour video of testimony from former government and military employees about the existence of extraterrestrial beings and the government's monitoring of them. It's part of Dr. Steven Greer's "Disclosure Project," in which the North Carolina physician is trying to get Congress to hold hearings on the government's interaction with alien life forms.
As a child, Greer witnessed a "disc-shaped craft" at close range and began studying aliens. He said he thinks people from outer space are monitoring Earth, in part to monitor weapons use.
"I think they are waiting for us to reach the early stages of maturity, where we can live peacefully, so they can interface with us," Greer said.
Katie Hofner of Fort Collins was among the hundreds who watched Greer's video, a program that began a 17-city tour in Boulder.
"I think it's fascinating," she said. "It's very compelling information."
Others weren't so enthusiastic. Maureen Murphy of Boulder handed out fliers inviting people to "The Alien CoverUp," a panel from noon to 1:30 p.m. today at the Boulder Public Library sponsored by the Allies of Humanity.
"We don't disagree with Dr. Greer on the disclosure agenda," Murphy said. "We just disagree on the aliens' agenda. They're taking women against their will, they're creating a race that will have an allegiance to the visitors."
Greer said he's unfamiliar with that group's efforts.
Contact Sandra Fish at... or email@example.com
Gwen Grabb, a psychotherapy intern and mother of three in Los Angeles, says the group believed Anna because she took on the role of helping others, revealing her own difficulties much later, and to an intimate audience. "She was very bright," recalls Grabb. "She was very supportive and kind. One day, she started telling me about `the crash,' what they found in the black box, how you could hear her daughter screaming. I had known her a year. I believed her."
But as the tales became more elaborate and grotesque, Grabb grew suspicious. Along with another group member~WPam Cohen, a bereavement counselor in the Mid-Atlantic region~Wshe did some research and discovered Anna was making it up. It was a shock to all, but worse than that to Cohen. "It is like an emotional rape," she says. People may have been upset over the online life and fatal cancer of the fictional Kaycee, whose creator admitted last month she'd invented the high school character for expressive purposes. But that was geared to a general audience, however easily suckered. Pretenders like Anna hurt a much more vulnerable group~Wfolks who may be seriously ill and are seeking help.
The Internet was made for such fakers, says Dr. Marc D. Feldman, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an expert on Munchausen syndrome and factitious disorder. People like these, he explains, suffer from a form of Munchausen, a condition in which they either feign illness or victimization, or actually induce illness or injury in order to gain sympathy and become the center of attention. With another variation, Munchausen by proxy, caretakers seek these rewards by making their charges sick. Cyberspace has added a new twist~Wone Feldman labels Munchausen by Internet.
The research, presented to scientists last week at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), resurrects the debate over whether there is life after death and whether there is such a thing as the human soul.
``The studies are very significant in that we have a group of people with no brain function ... who have well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains are shown not to function,'' Sam Parnia, one of two doctors from Southampton General Hospital in England who have been studying so-called near-death experiences (NDEs), told Reuters in an interview.
``We need to do much larger-scale studies, but the possibility is certainly there'' to suggest that consciousness, or the soul, keeps thinking and reasoning even if a person's heart has stopped, he is not breathing and his brain activity is nil, Parnia said.
He said he and colleagues conducted an initial yearlong study, the results of which appeared in the February issue of the journal Resuscitation. The study was so promising the doctors formed a foundation to fund further research and continue collecting data.
During the initial study, Parnia said, 63 heart attack patients who were deemed clinically dead but were later revived were interviewed within a week of their experiences.
Of those, 56 said they had no recollection of the time they were unconscious and seven reported having memories. Of those, four were labeled NDEs in that they reported lucid memories of thinking, reasoning, moving about and communicating with others after doctors determined their brains were not functioning.
Near-death experiences have been reported for centuries but in Parnia's study none of the patients were found to have received low oxygen levels, which some skeptics believe may contribute to the phenomenon.
When the brain is deprived of oxygen people become totally confused, thrash around and usually have no memories at all, Parnia said. ``Here you have a severe insult to the brain but perfect memory.''
Skeptics have also suggested that patients' memories occurred in the moments they were leaving or returning to consciousness. But Parnia said when a brain is traumatized by a seizure or car wreck a patient generally does not remember moments just before or after losing consciousness.
Rather, there is usually a memory lapse of hours or days. ''Talk to them. They'll tell you something like: 'I just remember seeing the car and the next thing I knew I was in the hospital,''' he said.
``With cardiac arrest, the insult to the brain is so severe it stops the brain completely. Therefore, I would expect profound memory loss before and after the incident,'' he added. Since the initial experiment, Parnia and his colleagues have found more than 3,500 people with lucid memories that apparently occurred at times they were thought to be clinically dead. Many of the patients, he said, were reluctant to share their experiences fearing they would be thought crazy.
``What his parents noticed was that after he had been discharged from hospital, six months after the incident, he kept drawing the same scene.''
The brain function these patients were found to have while unconscious is commonly believed to be incapable of sustaining lucid thought processes or allowing lasting memories to form, Parnia said -- pointing to the fact that nobody fully grasps how the brain generates thoughts. The brain itself is made up of cells, like all the body's organs, and is not really capable of producing the subjective phenomenon of thought that people have, he said.
He speculated that human consciousness may work independently of the brain, using the gray matter as a mechanism to manifest the thoughts, just as a television set translates waves in the air into picture and sound.
``When you damage the brain or lose some of the aspects of mind or personality, that doesn't necessarily mean the mind is being produced by the brain. All it shows is that the apparatus is damaged,'' Parnia said, adding that further research might reveal the existence of a soul. ``When these people are having experiences they say, 'I had this intense pain in my chest and suddenly I was drifting in the corner of my room and I was so happy, so comfortable. I looked down and realized I was seeing my body and doctors all around me trying to save me and I didn't want to go back.
``The point is they are describing seeing this thing in the room, which is their body. Nobody ever says, 'I had this pain and the next thing I knew my soul left me.'''
Using technology devised to track Soviet submarines during the Cold War, they say the movement showed up near Killinure Point last Monday night. And the readings were similar to those taken in Norway six years ago after reported sightings of a serpent three to 10 metres long with a large horse-like head.
It was said to be capable of swimming at speed and reportedly stuck its head into small fishing boats.
Such a description would match many of those claimed for the "Lough Ree Monster", most notably by three priests in 1960, who said they had seen a large snake-like creature swimming close to their boat, its head, about 18 inches long with eyes, a long nose and ears rising out of the water.
Fathers Richard Quigley, Matthew Burke and Daniel Murray described a creature similar to those allegedly sighted in Scandinavia.
The three-man expedition of Jan Sundberg of Sweden, Nick Sucik of Hawaii and Espen Samuelsen of Norway has previously searched in Norway and Scotland, where they were part of the search for the Loch Ness monster.
Jan is a journalist, Nick a US marine biologist based in Hawaii and Espen a zoology student in Norway.
They met through the Internet and a shared interest in "cryptozoology", the search for as yet unrecognised forms of animal life.
They became aware of Ireland's association with creatures locally described as monsters through the work of Irish man Peter Costello's book In Search of Monsters.
The team arrived in Glasson, on the east shore of Lough Ree, last Sunday and set up their computers and hydrophone.
The expedition is encouraged by the results and had not expected to find something so soon. "In Scotland earlier this year we spent some time from last April looking for the Loch Ness Monster," Jan said, "but it was not there."
Underwater their equipment can pick up a conversation from two kilometres away. To lessen the impact of other boats and landbased sounds the team goes out on the lake from about 10 p.m. to after midnight. The topography of the lake-bed is ideal for an eellike creature, according to Jan, who says it is full of "ups and downs, rocks and canyon-like crevices". The expedition is looking in a quiet corner of Lough Ree, north of Hare Island on the Leinster shore. It is off the marked navigation, and Jan says external noise is minimal.
He maintains the expedition is conducted along strictly scientific lines, and unnecessary interference is eliminated. "In these conditions the hydrophone can work up to 100 metres deep and to a couple of kilometres away. It can detect individual boats and even individual propellors," he said.
At 10.30 p.m. on Monday the team recorded a sound they thought they recognised. "We thought it was the same sound we have recorded in Norway when we were looking for horse-eels there. It was very faint, but it was an animal sound, not a boat, and it was not in our library of known creatures," Jan said.
One sequence sounded like large bodies propelled by large flippers, moving through the water. Analysis would suggest the movements resembled a plesiosaur, a legendary aquatic creature.
A marine reptile, the plesiosaur lived in the sea, not in freshwater lakes, but fossils from plesiosaurs have been found in Scotland, the group claims.
"We left on May 8th. A retired man, Mr James Gray, took photos of the monster he says he saw on May 9th, They were syndicated by Rex Features."
The team hopes to record a better sound before it goes home at the end of this week, and digitally match it with those taken in Norway. "If it works out we will mount a bigger expedition next year," Jan said.
RTÉ1 is to screen a report on the expedition on Nation- wide on July 5th at 7 p.m.
[If you can't recognize the tune, you're in the wrong generation. Run along and play until the grownups are done.]
When I find myself in times of trouble,I admit to once having a Japanese racing motorcycle
Douglas Adams comes in view
Speaking words of wisdom: "Forty-two."
And in my hour of darkness,
He is the light that shines on through
Speaking words of wisdom: "Forty-two."
Forty-two, forty-two, forty-two, forty-two.
Whisper words of wisdom: forty-two.
What are the broken-hearted people
Living in the world to do?
There will be an answer: Forty-two.
For though they may be parted,
There is still a chance to see what's true.
There will be an answer: forty-two.
Forty-two, forty-two, forty-two, forty-two.
There will be an answer: forty-two.
[Cue the choir and repeat ad infinitum.]
BY JOANNA BALE
A SHOPKEEPER?S landlords are to challenge a court ruling that he should be allowed to appoint a feng shui expert to decide whether they can relocate him.
Waller Investment Trust wants to move Tak Ping Yeung, who runs a gift shop in London?s Chinatown, from number six Gerrard Street to number four as part of redevelopment plans. Mr Yeung claimed at a hearing at Central London County Court that the location and specifications of the new shop do not have the necessary "flow of chi" to bring him health, wealth and happiness. One of his main objections is thought to centre on the number 4, which in Chinese means "death." His lawyers successfully argued that the right to call a feng shui expert was central to his religious freedom and therefore protected by the new Human Rights Act.
Simon Serota of Wallace & Partners, the law firm acting for the landlords, said: "We are appealing because we do not believe that a feng shui consultant could give expert evidence in a legal dispute."
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of channelling positive energy through building design and furniture arrangement. But Mr Yeung?s tiny shop, Kareen Collections, is not, on first sight, a soothing temple to feng shui minimalism. Its shelves groan with souvenirs, cuddly toys and Pokémon cards: clutter, according to the rules, is meant to prevent progress and success.
Mr Yeung?s assistant, who declined to be named, pointed out myriad features that prove his employer?s devotion to the art. There is a water feature, a statue of a Chinese god and the corners of the room are cleverly smoothed out with curved shelving to enable the smooth "flow of chi."
The assistant said: "Everything in the shop is designed around feng shui, the lighting, the layout, the flooring, everything."
Chinese shopkeepers in the area believe that the case has important
repercussions for them. One said: "Landlords have to realise that feng
is important to us and they can?t just stick us in any old place." A
Chinese taxi driver was less sympathetic, however. "Not all Chinese
in this," he said. "I?m sure if the money was right, he would move."
I have decided to reveal the location of the secret cave in the Grand
Canyon, which was discovered by G.E. Kincaid in 1909 as told in the
front page headline story of the "Arizona" Gazette" of that year. I
known of this location since 1972. As you may know, Steve Wingate and I
have been working on locating this cave to find out the story of what
really happened there in 1909, and determine who built and possibly
occupied the site in ancient times. You can read about the location at:
"Lost Civilizations and Hidden Mysteries" I have other interesting stories there including an in depth analysis of the 1909 story and a soon to be posted story of a historical book which details an ancient Chinese trip to the Grand Canyon! Please stop by. By the way, Steve Wingate is fully aware of the fact that I am revealing the cave location. This is the first time the location has been revealed anywhere. Thank you, Jack Andrews
Angels (And Demons): What do we Really Know About Them?
1995, Ignatius; 157p., illustrated
psi:defense, religion:defense, religion:philosophy
What glorious drivel! What extravagant dogmatism! Easily one of the most impressive books on the market in terms of compacting a lot of garbage into a small space. Angels and demons are real, and *exactly* as imagined by the Catholic church. Kreeft, professor of philosophy and hyperorthodox Catholic, trots up a host of ridiculous philosophical arguments and a good measure of brainless credulity about the paranormal. So this is great entertainment for the discerning skeptic. However, it is disturbing to note that the author is a respectable academic at Boston College, not an insignificant Bible college. If everything we have learned since the European Enlightenment can be so easily dismissed even in such circles, what chance does skepticism have in the larger public arena? This is a must-read book, not just for the sobering effect of its jaw-dropping lunacy, but also for the broader questions it raises.
Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.
Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer
A fascinating sociological and cross-culture examination of near-death experiences. Kellehear tries to go beyond the debate between believers in supernatural explanations and skeptics who try to pin everything down on medical events. In the process, he brings up the variety in NDE's which is often obscured by the standard story which has become common in the industrialized West, and shows how profoundly culture enters into contructing the experience. Other, non-death related experiences of crisis also bring about similar processes and even visions which can lead to profoud personal change. Though Kellehear presents his view as an alternative to a medical model, at their best these two approaches are complementary; this book is a good start at providing this-worldly explanations for some of the more complex, personality-related changes often accompanying NDE's.
Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.
Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer
Filer's Files #26 -- 2001, MUFON Skywatch Investigations
George A. Filer, Director, Mutual UFO Network Eastern
June 25, 2001, Sponsored by Electronic Arts, .
Webmaster Chuck Warren http://www.filersfiles.com.
TEXAS MUTILATION OF CATTLE LEAVES RANCHERS PUZZLED
BRYAN, Texas (AP) Ranchers in Burleson County aren't quite sure who or what is responsible for a string of mysterious cattle deaths over much of the last decade, but they suspect it's some sort of cult. In most of the cases, which happen about once or twice a year, the bulls' abdomens have been sliced open and their genitals are missing. Sometimes, the tongues and internal organs have been removed. Adding to the ranchers' frustration, the valuable beef is always left to rot. Burleson County authorities say they've been unable to link any of the deaths in this rural county about 100 miles northeast of Houston." If we could find any indication humans are involved, we would do more," Burleson County Sheriff Gene Barber told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. "It is a mystery to me." Barber said his investigators haven't found any of the telltale signs of human involvement - tire tracks, shoe prints, shell casings, or cigarette butts. So they list natural causes as the reaso! n for the deaths. However, rancher Johnny Lyon is convinced a cult mutilated his prized Charolais bull just to take its blood and organs. Ranchers are growing impatient and scared. "What if I had come out to my ranch at the time people were there?" he said. "What would they do to me? That tells me I need to carry a gun everywhere I go, shoot first and ask questions later." Sunday Edition of Bryan-College Station Eagle.
Thanks to Joe Littrell, John Thomas, James Fulford, and Paul Jaffe.
Police believe woman was sacrificed to obtain lottery numbers
Police believe an American woman whose remains were recently unearthed in Malaysia was used as a human sacrifice in a ritual to obtain lottery numbers from the spirits, newspapers reported.
`Bigfoot' prints reported in Canada
BY FRANCINE DUBE
"In May, reports that a monkey man with steel claws was killing people as they slept panicked residents of New Delhi, India."
Chuck Squatriglia, Chronicle Staff Writer
The elusive Loch Ness monster, it seems, is not a monster at all but a grand illusion created by earthquakes and embraced by fools. So says Luigi Piccardi, an Italian geologist who is convinced that seismic rumblings far below the famous Scottish lake cause the roiling waves, deep groans and explosive blasts that have for centuries led people to believe that a giant beast lurks below the loch's murky surface.
Debra Goldman's Consumer Republic
Wouldn't you know it? Now that Timothy McVeigh has breathed his last, taking his secrets to the Great Beyond courtesy of the federal government, polls show that increasing numbers of Americans believe he did not act alone.
Those of us who were around in the 1970s often felt we might not make it through that strange decade with our sanity intact if just one more person came up to us at a party and said: 'What sign are you?' That particular form of silliness has not so much sunk without trace as risen without trace: astrology can now be studied, for a Bachelor's or Master's degree, at the Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences in Seattle. Nothing very deplorable about that, you might think. The New Age movement has thrown up all sorts of odd manifestations. Kepler College, however, is accredited by the Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington State, which means that the degrees it awards are, by power of law, equal to those issued by the University of Washington.
Over nearly three years, from 1998 to 2000, a woman-let's call her Anna-posted to an online support group for people with mental illness. To the larger circle of readers, she acted mostly as friendly counselor. But to a select few, she e-mailed stories of escalating catastrophes. Her husband and two children had perished in a plane crash, she wrote. As a kid, her father had molested her, and she had suffered multiple personality disorder. Finally, she told her trusted-and trusting-confidants that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia.
TENS of thousands of women are falling victim to a pyramid selling scheme that trades on "female empowerment", trading standards officers have warned.
The Women Empowering Women scheme promises a return of £24,000 for an investment of £3,000 if each member recruits eight more. However, trading standards officers said many women had already lost their investments and said that the vast majority would end up with nothing.
The scheme originated in the Isle of Wight where Richard Stone, a trading standards officer, said: "You can trace the path of this thing from the island right across the country. It has left a lot of people out of pocket here. Simple maths reveal how pyramids do not work for the majority of investors."
The scheme's promotional material promises women "new ways of providing emotional support and financial gain in all of our lives", and claims the scheme is really a "support group for women". In Scotland, however, the latest area to be hit by the scheme, banks and credit unions are reporting that women are taking out loans and sinking into debt to join. New recruits are drawn into the scheme in pubs, bingo halls and homes.
Although pyramid selling could be a breach of the National Lotteries and Amusement Act 1996 and Trading Schemes Regulations, trading standards officers find it very difficult to find the originators. A trading standards officer in Glasgow said: "The original eight people all recruit eight people each. By the time you have done that seven times you have got the population of Glasgow involved, around 700,000 people. In the early stages it may be that people involved do get their £24,000 but it is not sustainable. Our advice is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is."
A woman from Kent, who did not want to be named, said: "It is rife
You see mothers outside primary schools talking about it and trying to
others involved. At a receiver meeting I saw people being handed wads
cash. It was unbelievable."
Jaguar Enterprises, a small company based in Mesquite, Texas, has manufactured and sold various devices that were touted by the manufacturer as being able to treat or cure various ailments and diseases.
Such devices sold by Jaguar Enterprises include the following:
BLACK BOX - Advertised by Jaguar as being able to ?reverse many ?incurable? viral & bacterial conditions, including AIDS, Cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gastritis, Herpes, Hepatitis, Lupus, Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), & Rheumatoid Arthritis.?
MAGNETIC PULSER - Promoted by Jaguar as a device capable of neutralizing viruses and bacteria.
Other devices manufactured and sold by Jaguar include the Portable Rife Frequency Generator, the Beck-Rife Unit, and the Magnetic Multi-Pulser; all of these devices were advertised has being effective in treating cancer and other serious diseases.
As a result of the medical claims made about these devices, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought a complaint against Jaguar Enterprises alleging that Jaguar had violated Federal law by making false or misleading claims about their products, thus engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices and making false advertisements in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
On June 14, 2001, the FTC announced that a settlement had been reached with Jaguar Enterprises concerning the civil dispute. Although Jaguar Enterprises denies the FTC?s allegations, they have agreed not to make any false or misleading claims about their products, including the Black Box and the Magnetic Pulser. In addition, Jaguar must offer its customers a full refund for products that were purchased from Jaguar, including the Black Box and Medical Pulser.
If, however, you have purchased one or more devices from Jaguar Enterprises and no longer wish to keep the device, but are unable or unwilling to obtain a refund from Jaguar, you are encouraged to donate any medical devices from Jaguar Enterprises to the North Texas Skeptics, a non-profit 501(c)3 scientific and educational organization based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The North Texas Skeptics (NTS) are interested in examining and studying of the devices offered by Jaguar Enterprises, including the Black Box, the Magnetic Pulser, and any of the Rife or Beck units sold by the company. This is in keeping with the mission of the NTS to study unusual scientific or medical claims as well as allegations of paranormal and/or supernatural activity.
DONATIONS TO THE NORTH TEXAS SKEPTICS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.
If you are interested in donating any of the aforementioned equipment to the NTS, please do not hesitate to contact us.
North Texas Skeptics
PO Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
"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
"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."
LATEST SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN COLUMN
The latest issue of Scientific American is now available. My column is at
but check out as well Steve Mirsky's column this month, entitled Out of This World at
It is a hilarious commentary on a British UFO society that folded for lack of a subject matter.
REVIEW OF RELIGION BOOKS
Atlases, Web shrines and a gathering of new research into age-old spiritual questions, by Michael Shermer, Washington Post
Sunday, June 10, 2001; Page BW13
Everyone who contemplates God is faced with the same insoluble paradox: We are finit beings trying to sort out the nature of an infinite power. Since no one can prove or disprove God's existence, the soluble question centers on why people believe in God and adhere to religion. Counting the Believers
Whatever your personal answer to this question, the levels of belief in God and adherence to religion are simply staggering. The newly released second edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, edited by David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian andTodd M. Johnson (Oxford Univ., two vols., $295) reports that of the Earth's 6.06 billion humans, 5.137 billion of them, or 84 percent, declare themselves believers who belong to some form of organized religion.
Christians dominate at just a shade under 2 billion adherents (with Catholics counting for half of those). Muslims number some 1.1 billion; Hindus, 811 million; Buddhists, 359 million. Ethnoreligionists (animists and others in Asia and Africa primarily) account for most of the remaining 265 million. But as the editors report in this magisterial compendium of statistics on religions that scholars of the subject will refer to for decades to come, such overall numbers tell us little. There are, in fact, 10,000 distinct religions of 10 general varieties (in decreasing size and inclusiveness -- cosmoreligion, macroreligion, megareligion, etc.), each one of which can be further subdivided and classified.
For example, Christians may be found among 33,820 different denominations. The variety of non-Christian religions is also stunning, with their worldwide distribution outstripping Christian religions despite the tireless efforts of evangelists to convert as many souls to Christ as possible. (One irritation I find with this encyclopedia is its Christian bias: Its senior editor, Rev. David B. Barrett, heads the Global Evangelization Movement, making one wonder if all these data are being collected to calibrate how long it will take to reduce this rich diversity to one cosmo-macro-mega Christian religion.) Table 1-2, for example, tracks the number of Christians (69,000) and non-Christians (147,000) by which the world will increase over the next 24 hours. Global Diagram 3 reveals the global convert/defector ratio, adjusted for births and deaths, indicating that the sphere of evangelism continues to expand into non-Christian belief space.
The Shape of Faith
A strikingly visual companion to the encyclopedia is the New Historical Atlas of Religion in America, by Edwin Scott Gaustad and Philip L. Barlow (Oxford Univ., $145).This reference work is packed with 260 sumptuous color maps and charts, printed on thick glossy paper to enhance the fine detail and shades of geographical differences among the various religious sects that inhabit the landscape. This new edition of religious historian Gaustad's 1962 classic includes the arrival of religious colonialists to the New World over the past four decades, including Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and especially Muslims, who have enjoyed a fourfold increase in America. Likewise, the Bahai population in America has increased in numbers nearly proportional to the membership drop in many mainstream religions, such as Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians. By contrast, Southern Baptists might better be labeled "All Over America Baptists," as their ranks have swollen well into the northern territories. Likewise, the "Bible Belt" is now wider than a weightlifter's leather girdle.
Most revealing in the atlas are the historical maps and charts that track the changing demographics of American religion. Conservative pundits who proclaim that we need to return to the good old days when America was a Christian nation had better look closely at Figure 4.16, showing that church membership as a percentage of the U.S. population over the past century and a half has increased from 25 percent to 65 percent. If America is going to hell in an immoral handbasket, it is happening while church membership is at an all-time high and a greater percentage of Americans (90-95 percent) proclaim belief in a God than ever before.
Religion of the Healthy-Bodied
Why do so many people believe and belong? One answer is that it is good for us. Studies show that religious people live longer and healthier lives, re cover from illness and disease faster, and report higher levels of happiness. While most of these effects are probably due to lifestyle, diet and exercise (e.g., religious people drink and smoke less), there is something about having family, friends and a community that enhances life and longevity. Aging With Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives, by David Snowdon (Bantam, $24.95), explores this thesis through a remarkable survey of 678 nuns ranging in age from 75 to 104. Snowden, once a Catholic altar boy and now a distinguished epidemiologist who directed the study from the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, reports his findings in a loving and elegantly engaging style. As the book of Proverbs proclaims, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." It turns out that a powerful predictor of which nuns would live the longest was the positive emotional content contained in their youthful writings, even when the analysis was controlled for age, education and linguistic ability.
The lowest emotional group averaged 86.6 years old at death, the highest emotional group averaged 93.5 years old at death. Snowdon also argues that profound faith, prayer and contemplation "have a positive influence on long-term health and may even speed the healing process," but then oddly concludes that "we do not need a study to affirm their importance to the quality of life." I have no doubt that Snowdon is right about the importance of community and close relationships, but you don't need God or religion for that. All humans benefit from any type of social commitment because we are a social primate species.
In view of such universal needs, what is the undergirding foundation for the panoply of religious faiths? Michael Horace Barnes, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, argues in Stages of Thought: The Co-Evolution of Religious Thought and Science (Oxford Univ., $45) that the commonality is to be found in the thinking process itself. Barnes uses Piaget's stage theory of development to argue that cultures, like in dividuals, develop in stages from easier cognitive skills to harder ones, and that not only religion and faith but science and reason have followed this general pattern. Both religion and science evolved from simple stages to complex ones because complex cognitive thinking first requires simple cognitive technologies such as writing and formal logic, as well as simple social institutions that reinforce those skills as precursors to formal religions and sciences.
Barnes is certainly correct about science and technology; they are cumulative and complex, and depend significantly on what came before. I'm not so sure about religion. Is monotheism really more cognitively challenging than polytheism, itself more complex than animism? Might it not be the opposite? Isn't the world much easier to explain with one God than many -- and aren't many gods, in turn, simpler than the spirit-haunted world of so-called primitive peoples?
A stronger case for Barnes's cognitive model can be made for religion and especially theology, which has turned the question of God's existence into a quagmire of syllogisms and contorted logic. On one level, it is that very stage of advanced cognitive development that Huston Smith rails against in Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief (HarperSan Francisco, $25), a passionate personal manifesto for why society must return to its more fundamental roots of basic spirituality. While not completely disparaging science (his oncologist did save his life, after all), Smith claims that it has trapped us in a reflexive worship of technology, a values-challenged liberal democracy and higher education, a morally sterile legal system and a cowardly media. It is a closed system that excludes old-time religion. To get it back we must exit the tunnel and embrace the sacred: "The sacred world is the truer, more veridical world, in part because it includes the mundane world." Religion matters, he says, because "there is within us -- in even the blithest, most lighthearted among us -- a fundamental disease. It acts like an unquenchable thirst that renders the vast majority of us incapable of ever coming to full peace."
Maybe for thee, but not for me. And that's the problem with Smith's book. It is, by its nature, personal and anecdotal, and so ultimately can tell us nothing more about why God and religion persist for anyone beyond the author and those he copiously quotes in support.
The Believing Animal
What can inform us about these persistent questions? Although it has its limitations, science is the best method ever devised for answering questions about our world and ourselves. Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (Basic, $27.50), by Pascal Boyer, is a penetrating scientific analysis of religion. As an anthropologist, he understands that any explanation must take into account the rich diversity of religious practices and beliefs around the world, and as a scientist, he knows that any explanatory model must account for this diversity. Boyer is at his best in describing the countless peculiar religious rituals he and his anthropological brethren have recorded -- and especially in identifying the shortcomings of virtually every explanation for religion ever offered.
As a consequence, however, Boyer himself fails to provide a satisfactory explanation because he knows that religion is not a single entity resulting from a single cause. "There cannot be a magic bullet to explain the existence and common features of religion, as the phenomenon is the result of aggregate relevance -- that is, of successful activation of a whole variety of mental systems." Here the book bogs down in the jargon-laden field of cognitive science, as the author struggles to unite an array of disparate findings but comes up empty-handed. "Religious persons are not different from nonreligious ones in essential cognitive functions," Boyer concludes. Then what is the origin of religious faith and belief? For Boyer they "seem to be simple by-products of the way concepts and inferences are doing their work for religion in much the same way as for other domains." In other words, religion requires no special explanation, an answer many will find unsatisfactory.
Plug It In and It Works
Whatever its origin, what of religion's future? One avenue for the ever-burgeoning religious landscape is cyberspace, the subject of the aptly titled Give Me That Online Religion, by Brenda Brasher (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, $24.95). It is a delightful romp through the new world of cyber-spirituality. Global prayer-chains, e-prayer wheels, cybercast seders and neo-pagan cyber-rituals are all practiced from home, finally making Martin Luther's proclamation of "every man his own priest" a virtual reality. The book's Web-like design and typography make it fun to surf. Even mainstream religions have gone online, offering adherents and potential converts a smorgasbord of doctrines to download (except Scientology, whose lawyers pounced like a Torquemada on an ex-member who was posting the church's religious documents online).
Much of this book will leave you LOL and ROTFL (that's computer-ese for laughing out loud and rolling on the floor laughing), my favorite example being Brasher's discussion of the more than 800,000 web "shrines" devoted to Lady Diana and other celebrities. "Scanning fan sites, it is easy to believe that the spiritual discipline of imitato Christus has been replaced by imitato Keanu Reeves." For those who do not wish to risk choosing the wrong God to achieve immortality, read about the transhumanists, who believe that some day we will be able to download our minds from our protein brains, which survive only about a century, to silicon-chip brains that can last hundreds of centuries, by which time they will be downloadable into something more permanent still, quite literally ad infinitum. Heady stuff for us finite beings to contemplate.
Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com) and the author of "How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science." His latest book is "The Borderlands of Science."
By D.W. MILLER
Don and Sandra Hockenbury, a husband-and-wife team of psychology professors, believe that "pseudoscience" and paranormal phenomena have a place in the classroom -- to impart scientific concepts and challenge students to develop skills of skeptical inquiry. On Thursday, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society, they proved their point by demonstrating their classroom approach to reports of alien abductions.
Chronicle subscribers can read this article on the Web at this address:
LONDON - The mystery of the Loch Ness monster has been solved, if scientific research is to be believed: Nessie is an illusion caused by earthquakes on the bed of Britain?s largest lake.
Seismic activity in the Great Glen Fault, which runs beneath Loch Ness for its entire length, is almost certainly responsible for the legend of its monster, according to an Italian geologist.
Almost every sighting of the creature is consistent with water disturbances caused by small earthquakes, Luigi Piccardi of Florence University has concluded. He says that the last period in which Nessie was most frequently spotted coincided exactly with the fault?s last spell of increased activity.
Even the earliest accounts of the monster, in the ancient Pictish cult of the ?water-horse? and in Adomnan?s 7th-century Life of St Columba, pointed strongly to earthquakes as the root of the myth. The water-horse was an underground beast that would emerge with rumblings and great splashes of water, while the Latin used to describe St Columba?s encounter with the monster was packed with references to strong shaking.
Dr Piccardi said that an exhaustive analysis of monster sightings had convinced him that the Great Glen Fault was the key to the legend. He will present his findings today at the Earth Systems Processes conference in Edinburgh.
?I have no doubt at all that there is a direct relationship between the seismic nature of Loch Ness and the monster,? he said. ?If you look at the sightings, they are generally of anomalous waves or turbulence, of boats being shaken and strange shadows in the water. It is more than possible that these are all created by the motion of the fault.?
Although the legend of the monster dates back to the water-horse, which is known from Pictish engravings, the first documented sighting was by St Columba in 565, which was recorded by his biographer, Adomnan. While walking on the shore of Loch Ness, the saint saw a man swimming out to a boat. He then watched as a beast burst out from the water and headed for the swimmer. St Columba held out his cross, and ordered: ?Thou shalt go no further, nor touch this man," and the monster disappeared.
Adomnan?s language, Dr Piccardi said, indicates that St Columba actually witnessed an earthquake. ?If you look at the Latin that Adomnan uses, the beast appears ?with strong shaking?. When it disappears again, it does so ?shaking herself.? I think this is a pretty clear indication of what was actually going on.?
The modern myth also had origins in seismic activity, according to Dr Piccardi. There was a spate of sightings in 1933 and 1934, just before the last major earthquake with its epicentre at the Great Glen Fault, in 1934. ?We know this is a period at which the fault was particularly active,? Dr Piccardi said. ?Those people who thought they saw the monster were probably seeing the effects on the water of the foreshocks of the earthquake.?
Gary Campbell, President of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club in Inverness,
said that the theory did not explain all sightings. ?He seems to be
forgetting that we have more than 1,000 records of people seeing
solid in the water like a neck and a head.?
Dear CSICOP List Reader, an action alert from one of our fellow readers
See this website:
As I'm sure your aware the Senate just passed an Education Bill into which language has been added that essentially calls upon teachers to tell students that evolutionary theory is not science and that the controversy over evolution is due to the lack of scientific credibility of evolution.
The Senate bill states:
"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."
In case people are mislead by the vague wording and think it sounds like it is promoting critical thought, this amendment was orchestrated by Senators who accept Intelligent Design theory and think it should be taught in public schools. The "philosophical claims made in the name of science" is a reference to evolution and the theory of common descent whom the amendments authors claim is "not science because science must be observed." Part 2 was clearly crafted to allow teachers to claim that the controversy arises b/c evolution is not observable science and that there is scientific evidence of intelligent design.
A Senator from Kansas hailed this amendment as a vindication of the Kansas school board's 1999 decision to eliminate evolution.
The language is only in the Senate version. It can be removed in committee, which is what the National Association of Biology Teachers is recommending. Call or write your Senator or Congressman and alert your colleagues.
Thomas Griffin, M.A.
Department Of Psychology
University of Illinois at Chicago
Plans for a new footbridge in Australia have been changed after residents said it would give them bad feng shui.
Officials in the city of Fairfield agreed to shift the bridge 15ft to the side after one resident said it would be in line with their home.
The new location upset another householder, who claimed it would be bad luck for his grandmother to have the bridge pointing at their front door.
Councillors have agreed to move the bridge another few feet, but now residents living on the other side of Clear Paddock Creek are upset they haven't been consulted.
One woman told the New South Wales Daily Telegraph: "No one told us why they kept changing the bridge's location. All this talk about it being bad luck is a load of crap."
Sunday, 24 June, 2001
Classical music: May "require more grey matter"
Scientists believe they may be closer to understanding why some people like pop music and others like classical.
Psychiatric consultant Dr Raj Persaud of Maudsley Hospital in London believes his studies of dementia patients show a link between taste and "hard-nosed intellectual function" - in other words, appreciation of classical music may require more brain power.
Persaud has observed that, as brain power diminishes in dementia patients, they sometimes go from liking classical to pop - but not the other way round.
"What this may mean is that you require more grey matter to appreciate classical music and that you don't need so much grey matter to appreciate pop music, so as you lose grey matter your taste in music changes accordingly," said Dr Persaud.
The thesis, outline in the June issue of BBC Music Magazine, has had support from Italian scholars.
Some scientists believe Mozart can even reduce epileptic attacks
Neurologist Dr Giovanni Frisoni has written in the journal Neurology that dementia's damage to the frontal lobes of the brain - the part most involved in complex judgments and delaying gratification - might lead to the emergence of more basic musical likes and dislikes.
Dr Frisoni wrote: "Pop music is composed to appeal to the widest possible audience.
"The frontal lesion of our patients might have damaged the circuits that were inhibiting this appeal."
But Dr Frisoni adds: "But we do not wish to imply that pop music listeners have frontal dysfunction, as musical taste relies on extremely complex individual, social and cultural factors."
Dr Susan Hallam of London's Institute of Education - which has extensively researched the connection between music and children's attention span - gave a cautious welcome to the idea.
"We need a lot more research before drawing firm conclusions.
"I know some highly academic people who like pop music," Dr Hallam told the Independent On Sunday.
By David Bauder
AP Television Writer
Monday, June 25, 2001; 6:36 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK Several parents who agreed to let their children be interviewed for an ABC News special on the environment now want them out of it because they didn't like correspondent John Stossel's questioning.
They made their wishes known Monday, more than two months after the interviews took place and four days before the special, "Tampering with Nature," is scheduled to air.
ABC promised to look into their complaints.
It's the second dispute in a year involving Stossel, a libertarian who has rankled environmental and consumer groups with his views. Stossel had to apologize last August for a misleading report on organic produce, and the Environmental Working Group, which called for ABC to fire him then, was instrumental in Monday's complaint.
The parents accused Stossel and his staff of misrepresenting the nature of the story before they agreed to let their children be interviewed, and of trying to lead the children into giving answers that fit his point of view.
"In my mind they were dishonest," said Brad Neal, whose children Brandon, 10, and Samantha, 8, were interviewed.
Although he did not agree to make the complaint against Stossel until being contacted by the Environmental Working Group, Neal said: "I was clearly getting upset. But they helped me direct my anger." (The advocacy group posted a copy of the parents' letter on its Web site.)
Stossel did not immediately return a telephone message left on his answering machine.
During the program, Stossel looks into global warming, genetic engineering and human cloning. The parents from the affluent Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles said ABC asked to interview their children on Earth Day, April 15, to hear their views on the environment.
The parents were particularly upset about Stossel asking the children for a show of hands on how many of them believed scientists were unanimous on the dangers of global warming. A preview of the special asserts that children are often given one-sided information about environmental dangers.
"I am concerned that these kids are being portrayed as if they were brainwashed or not being told the truth," said Michael Scott, whose children Rachel, 10, and Zachary, 8, were interviewed. "I don't think that that's healthy for my kids to see when they were excited about being on television."
It's a delicate issue for ABC. Normally, a network would never agree to remove an interview after a subject had given consent, but the question is trickier with children involved.
"While ABC News is confident that the interview was handled in a respectful and sensitive manner according to the highest journalistic standards, we take the concerns of these parents seriously and are reaching out to them to open a direct line of communication to resolve the issue," ABC News said in a statement.
Scott, a lawyer, raised the possibility of legal action against ABC if the interviews aren't removed.
The Environmental Working Group asked ABC News to fire Stossel last year because he reported the results of a test on organic produce when, in fact, such a test never took place. Stossel's segment on organic produce was repeated even though activists pointed out that it was wrong.
ABC reprimanded Stossel and a producer, and forced the correspondent to make an on-air apology.
"Once again, John Stossel has shown he has a fundamental problem with honesty and fair play," said Mike Casey, a spokesman for the advocacy group.
On the Net:
The Nation [Thailand] | 6 June 2001
Breast therapist? Maybe, but certainly not a breast masseur.
Whatever you call her, 34-year-old-Khemika na Songkhla claims she can enlarge and enhance womens' breasts from between two and six centimetres in size without actually touching them, in a procedure that's a lot cheaper than plastic surgery. And there's no pain or silicone involved.
With her bare hands Khemika repeatedly slaps parts of her client's torso, particularly the back and abdomen, in an action she claims transfers fatty tissue from those parts of the body to the breasts.
Small or sagging breasts can be enhanced by 10 minutes of this physiotherapy a day for six days, at a cost of Bt16,000. Khemika, who also goes by the nickname Kung, has been enhancing women's' breasts as a full-time job for 14 years, boasting 1,000 satisfied customers. For the first 10 years she operated at a location on Vibhavadi Rangsit soi 64, before moving to a larger shop on Ram Intra 65.
Her marketing tactic is simple. "I just let them see my breasts. As soon as women see and touch my breasts they want to have the treatment. And I guarantee results," she said. Kung says that she found out about this unusual breast enhancement purely by chance. One day while she was massaging her own small breasts using a cream in a bid to enlarge them, her late grandmother, who was versed in the traditional methods of muscle manipulation, stopped her and told her of this alternative way. "After practising for three years, I decided to open a shop," Kung said, adding that besides treatment for breasts, she also uses the method to reduce the size of the waist. During her years in business, Kung said, she has treated a thousand women, including politicians, businesswomen and well-known socialites.
She declined, however, to disclose the identities of any of them, saying that it might reflect badly on them.
"I would not like to damage my clients' reputations. They may feel bad if other people know they have sought this service. I even make appointments for them in such a way that they will not meet one another, so avoiding possible embarrassment," she said. Kung said some men even brought their wives to have the treatment. And the results are just what the husbands wanted. Asked about criticism by surgeons, Kung said she could not understand why there was opposition to her technique as no one had ever suffered any post-treatment problems.
One success story, 25-year-old Wimonrat Luecha, said her company had invited Kung to appear on a television programme to prove to the public that her body-slapping treatment could deliver results. "Many people don't believe in what she claims, and I thought the same at first. But I wanted to try it, and I did. Since the treatment my breasts have grown by nearly three centimetres," she said, adding that so far she has suffered no ill effects. From a professional standpoint, Dr Somyos Deerassamee, director of the National Cancer Institute, said that based on medical grounds it was impossible to enlarge the breasts and reduce waist size using Kung's method.
The doctor declined to elaborate on whether such a technique could cause breast cancer, saying only that there were many factors to consider in the development of such a cancer and that heavy impact on the breasts might exacerbate them.
"But if you are not in a high-risk group it probably won't cause any problem," he said, adding that this case should come under the jurisdiction of the Office of Consumer Protection, as the Medical Council handled cases involving licensed medical practitioners only.
Check this out and see if you've run across this conspiracy theory in the past. Thanks!
Yes, we have, Danny. This is something that's been on the Skeptics List server for several years.
Terry Colvin posts most of the conspiracy theory stuff, so check with him.
CSICOP is pleased to announce that it has purchased additional shares of Viacom "A" class or voting class stock as part of it's Council For Media Integrity Stock Fund. Viacom is the parent company of the CBS Network.
In its latest effort in the battle against fringe-science TV, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and it's "media watch-dog" arm, the Council for Media Integrity (CMI), established the "Media Stock Fund." Aimed at providing leverage for CSICOP's response to the television industries lucrative commercial marketing of fringe science and psuedoscience, CMI is asking friends and supporters to help it aquire common stock in media conglomerate companies. The Media Stock Fund will allow CSICOP and the CMI to take part in shareholder meetings, where it can question the increasing infatuation with the paranormal in television programming. "We are deliberately targeting each of the major television networks and well-known media conglomerates - Viacom (CBS), General Electric (NBC), NewsCorp (Fox), AOL/Time Warner (WB, Turner Broadcasting, CNN), and Disney (ABC)," says Paul Kurtz, chairman of CSICOP. "The media have now virtually replaced the schools, colleges, and universities as the main source of information for the general public. The irresponsability of the media in the area of science and the paranormal is a world wide problem. But it especially applies to the United States, where the media have been distorting science and, in particular, presenting psuedoscience as genuine science. Indeed, we are appalled by the number of 'documentaries,' which are really entertainment programs, presenting fringe science as real science."
The practice of organizing shareholder response within a company is common among advocacy groups that seek socially responsable corporate conduct through shareholder-passed resolutions. As a share-holder, CSICOP and the CMI will have opportunities to attend shareholder meetings, submit viewpoints to shareholder publications, and sponsor shareholder resolutions. While exercising these and other rights, CSICOP will be representing a broad, international constituency who support the critical investigation of the paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific viewpoint to the public at large. "In the future we hope the fund will allow us to make shareholder meetings into accountablility sessions for the media giants when they package superstition and psuedoscience as fact," Kurtz said.
"We realize that the media are being attacked from all sides, but we think that a plea for raising the level of understanding of science should be heard."
See our website at: http://www.csicop.org/cmi/stock.html
Witnessing the birth of the neo-Luddite movement
By Ronald Bailey
The global, organized neo-Luddite movement was born this February 24th, on New York City?s
tony upper East Side, of all places. That?s when a group called the International Forum on
Globalization held a "Teach-In on Technology and Globalization" at Hunter College. The goal of the
event, announced IFG head Jerry Mander, was to "bring together the protest movement born in
Seattle with the leading critics of technologies -- Luddites, if you will." If the reported attendance by
1,400 people is any indication, then the IFG succeeded in its goal -- a fact the world may some day
come to rue.
AN American woman whose body was found 19 months after she disappeared near her home in Malaysia was murdered in a bizarre ritual sacrifice to ascertain winning lottery numbers, according to police.
Senior officers quoted by Malaysian newspapers said a man who confessed to the murder of Carolyn Jamica Noraini Abdullah, 35, had led them to her body buried on an oil palm estate at Sungai Siput in the northern state of Perak.
He had confessed that he had carried out the murder with his brother and
another man. Belief in black magic is still prevalent among Malaysians.
Cockerels or goats are sacrificed to spirit gods by groups of men whose
leader goes into a trance and supposedly reveals winning combinations to
the four-digit national lottery. Although very rare, there have been
reported cases of human sacrifice.
UFOTruth - http://UFOTruth.listbot.com
A summary of Disclosure Project witness testimony is at: http://www.disclosureproject.org
A project staff member forwarded these relevant remarks by Five-Star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, former head of Britain's Ministry of Defense - as to UFO/ET witnesses who had been considered trustworthy enough to that point, to have been given responsibility over nuclear weapons...
I heard Lord Hill-Norton speak on one of the television specials, and he made a very profound statement: (I'm paraphrasing) "One of two scenarios is true. Either these people entrusted with nuclear weapons really saw and experienced what they did, or they were mass-hallucinating. Either scenario would and must be of great importance to National and International security."
NAMES FROM THE DISCLOSURE PROJECT WITNESS LIST:
Testimony that Explains the Secrecy:
Brigadier General Stephen Lovekin: Army National Guard Reserves
Merle Shane McDow: US Navy Atlantic Command
Lt. Col. Charles Brown: US Air Force (Ret.)
Lance Corporal Jonathan Weygandt: US Marine Corps
Maj. George A. Filer, III: US Air Force (Ret.)
Nick Pope: British Ministry of Defense Official
Larry Warren: US Air Force, Security Officer
Sgt. Clifford Stone: US Army
Master Sgt. Dan Morris: US Air Force, NRO Operative
A.H.: Boeing Aerospace Employee
Officer Alan Godfrey: British Police
Sgt. Karl Wolf: US Air Force
Ms. Donna Hare: NASA Employee
Mr. John Maynard: DIA Official
Dr. Robert Wood: McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Engineer
Glen Dennis: NM UFO Crash Witness
Sgt. Leonard Pretko: US Air Force
Dr. Roberto Pinotti: Italian UFO expert
Dr. Paul Czysz: McDonnell Douglas Career Engineer
Radar and Pilot Cases:
FAA Division Chief John Callahan
Sgt. Chuck Sorrells: US Air Force (ret.)
Mr. Michael W. Smith: US Air Force
Commander Graham Bethume: US Navy (ret.)
Mr. Enrique Colbeck: Senior Air Traffic Controller
Dr. Richard Haines
Mr. Franklin Carter: US Navy
Neil Daniels: Airline Pilot
Sgt. Robert Blazina (ret.)
Lieutenant Frederick Marshall Fox: US Navy (ret.)
Captain Massimo Poggi
Lt. Bob Walker: US Army
Mr. Don Bockelman: US Army
Captain Robert Salas
Professor Robert Jacobs: Lt. US Air Force
Lt. Colonel Dwynne Arneson: US Air Force (ret.)
Colonel Ross Dedrickson: US Air Force/AEC (ret.)
Harry Allen Jordan: US Navy
Mr. James Kopf: US Navy/ National Security Agency
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Wojtecki, US Air Force
Staff Sergeant Stoney Campbell: US Air Force
Government Insiders/ NASA/ Deep Insiders:
Astronaut Gordon Cooper
Brigadier General Steven Lovekin, Esq.: Army National Guard Reserve
Merle Shane McDow: US Navy Atlantic Command
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Brown: US Air Force (ret.), October
Dr. Carol Rosin
Mr. Mark McCandlish: US Air Force
Professor Paul Czysz
Dr. Hal Puthoff
David Hamilton: Department of Energy
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas E. Bearden: US Army (ret.)
Dr. Eugene Mallove
Dr. Paul La Violette
Mr. Fred Threlfell: Royal Canadian Air Force
Dr. Ted Loder
EcoNews Service: Always online for Ecology, Consciousness, and Universal Exopolitics
Vancouver, BC V6M1V8
My own private space station
By Amy Standen
"If you're interested in the possibility of life after death; if you've had an encounter with aliens, or believe that UFOs occasionally conduct drive-by surveillance of unsuspecting earthlings; if you blame extraterrestrials for the rash of freakish cattle mutilations that a New Mexico rancher discovered in 1998, then you are probably familiar with Robert Bigelow."
by Charles Siderius
"Jan Bynum stands at the center of her daughter's room in Bynum's Farmers Branch house and looks around. On one wall is a University of North Texas calendar from the 1997-1998 academic year. Other parts of the room are filled with her daughter's furniture, makeup and knickknacks, much as the young college student left them on July 15, 1997, the day she vanished."
A Peek Inside the Crystal Ball
By Richard Daverman
"If you watch any amount of late-night TV, you've seen her: Miss Cleo. For those of us with a remote attached to our hand like a sixth digit, she seems to be everywhere on that dial-that-no-longer-exists. Her lilting West Indian accent works its way into your subconscious, its authority and certainty at once compelling and repellent."
New Times Los Angeles
(Second Item - it's a ways down)
"There's religious freedom, of course, but what about sacrilegious freedom?"
Eye of the Believer
By Dann McDorman
Silicon Valley Metro
"'CULT" IS A LOADED WORD. It conjures up images of the Jonestown massacre, of mass weddings conducted by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, of Texas compounds erupting in flames. None of that has happened at the Spiritual Rights Foundation, a "psychic church" based out of a Victorian in Berkeley that keeps an affiliated seminary in San Jose."
The tao of dowsing
Seven Days Vermont
"And you thought dowsers were just looking for water."
ESP in TX
By Mark Hughes
"It's no wonder that the military is a source of so much paranormal interest when top-secret projects and experimental technology leave plenty of room for the imaginative mind to fill in the blanks. Area 51, the Philadelphia Experiment and UFO sightings have had their time in the spotlight. Now another, more recent project from the speculation generator is getting attention. Called remote viewing, it is basically another term for ESP or astral projection."
Amherst, N.Y. (June 8, 2001)-The Gallup Organization released the results of its new poll on paranormal beliefs, which indicate increases in the percentage of Americans who believe in communication with the dead, ESP, ghosts, psychic healing and extraterrestrial visitation (see www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010608.asp). The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)-publisher of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer-has been criticizing and examining paranormal beliefs for 25 years. "This latest Gallup Poll is disturbing," says Paul Kurtz, chairman of CSICOP, "because it shows an increase in superstition in the United States-particularly in regard to communicating with the dead, haunted houses, ghosts, and psychic healing.
According to the study, the most notable increases between 1990 and 2001 are beliefs in psychic or spiritual healing (up 8 percent to 54 percent); haunted houses (up 13 percent to 42 percent); communication with the dead (up 10 percent to 28%); and witches (up 12 percent to 26 percent).
Kurtz blames the media for increased credulity. "These results may be traced directly to the mass media, especially sensationalized TV shows, films, and the tabloid press and publishers. It's regrettable that Americans show lower scores in scientific literacy among their young people in comparison with other democratic societies. The poll also points to the urgent need, we submit, for teaching critical thinking in schools and colleges. That should have a high national priority." The National Science Board's 2000 Science & Engineering Indicators survey found an abysmally low understanding of the scientific method and general science knowledge among Americans (see http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind00/frames.htm).
CSICOP Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell feels that the poll asks the wrong questions. "The poll asks people whether they believe in a phenomenon, which amounts to asking them whether they want to believe. They're polling the heart, not the head. If respondents had also been asked whether they have experienced these phenomena themselves, or whether they thought there was good scientific evidence supporting these beliefs, I suspect those scores would have been much lower."
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization, founded in 1976 by Dr. Paul Kurtz. The Skeptical Inquirer is its official journal. CSICOP encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminates factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community and the public.
Since this news will be breaking soon, anyway (and because it has already been mentioned on SDI), I thought I would give a bit of an update on the Etzikom "crater" found in southern Alberta in April 2001.
The case has received fairly mimimal attention from the media, but a few articles have been written about it so far. One of the is online at:
That page refers mostly to an earlier article not currently archived and focuses on an old UFo sighting that is unrelated. However, the Friday, June 22, 2001 issue of the same paper will be carrying a feature article about the site, but will likely not be archived right away. It will, however, probably generate some more regional media attention.
The best source for info is Gord Kijek's AUFOSG site:
Gord has soil samples.
What is most interesting about this UGM is that it was investigated quite thoroughly by a number of scientists _before_ the UFO community was aware of it. Soil scientists, physicists and geologists from two different institutions have now examined the site, and an official report has been issued this week. I was called for my advice on the course of action early in the investigations, and consulted with a number of people as to the types of tests that might be useful.
The official report gives the test data and then theorizes that the crater could not have been caused by aliens because the "landing marks" within the crater are not symmetrically arranged. (!) The report concludes that the crater is the result of a meteorite fall.
Gord Kijek, who examined the site in some detail, told me he has no explanation for the UGM at this time, if it's not a real meteor crater. It's not a sinkhole, a lightning strike or (probably not) a natural gas explosion.
The trouble is that if it _is_ a meteor crater, it's still extremely unique. Nothing in my astronomical or geophysical training remotely resembles a _new_ meteor crater. Most textbooks illustrate impact cratering with Crater Lake in Oregon, the Ungava Peninsula in Quebec, or Barringer in Arizona. This crater, albeit small compared with Barringer, is the first significantly-sized meteor crater that I have heard of in recent times. Even the fireball that generated a huge wave of sightings across Eastern North America several years ago ony made a bucket-sized crater in the soil. The Etzikom crater is about ten feet wide.
The word today is that NIDS has learned of the site and is on its way for an investigation. Lord knows what they'll do. At least we already have a report on the scientific analysis.
Does anyone know of any other _contemporary_ meteor crater being found recently (i.e. in historical times)? Tunguska doesn't count.
Oh, and BTW, Canada's leading authority on impact craters, the guy who proved the dinosaurs died off after an impact event, does not think the Etzikom crater was made by a meteorite.
So, if it's not a meteor crater ....
We recommend printing this page and giving it to family and friends, as it is fairly large, or copy and paste http://watercure2.com/sam_biser.htm in the body of your emails to your friends and relatives and they can come right to this page.
The revolutionaries in Iran sent this medical doctor to prison to be executed. But when they saw what his discoveries meant for mankind, they spared his life. Thanks to the suffering of one great man, you can now learn how to cure serious diseases that do not respond well to drugs - or to vitamins, either. They wanted him dead. They said he was ?an enemy of the people.? Revolutionary guards took him to prison in Iran to be executed. They wanted to get rid of anyone who had anything to do with the ?establishment.? He was a doctor. His trial was announced on television several times a day for several days with appropriate revolutionary slogans. The outcome was predetermined: death. The doctor knew he had to write down his discoveries so when he died, his work would get out to the world.
The doctor, like other prisoners, had no idea if he was going to survive - from one hour to another. With no warning, the guards used to pluck 20, 30, and sometimes 100 men out of the crowd, and take them out and shoot them. You and I have big problems, but how would you like to live under that kind of stress? As you can imagine, a lot of prisoners became very sick with diseases. So would you and I under those circumstances. The doctor was put in charge of Cell-Block No. 3. By the time his prison experience was over, this doctor had cured over three thousand prisoners and made perhaps the biggest discovery in the history of medicine.
His name is Dr. F Batmanghelidj, M.D., and this is my interview with him.
An Ecuadorian woman has claimed that she had sex with a ghost.
The woman, known only as Karen, said the ghost slept with her on a number of occasions in her house in the southern city of Guayaquil.
Karen said the visitations always occurred in the early hours of the morning, and only stopped when "it sensed that my fear was so strong that it left me alone".
"I felt his body on top of mine and I didn't know what to do. When I came to my senses, it disappeared without saying anything. I was covered in sweat and ran to the bathroom," Karen told her local newspaper Extra.
A few days later, the ghost returned again.
"Unlike in previous apparitions, I could see its gleaming eyes and bulky body. I thought I was dreaming but it was real. His body was as light as air," she said.
The woman initially feared no one would believe her, but her mother encouraged her to come forward and say what she had experienced.
Although the local authorities are sceptical about the story, local residents support Karen's account.
"There are plenty of ghosts around here, so I wouldn't be surprised," one neighbour said.
Story filed: 15:28 Friday 22nd June 2001
Dear CSICOP List Reader,
The Young Skeptics Program has just tripled in size and we're pleased to
provide you with a detailed update on the new features and projects
we've recently launched on the website:
We hope to begin sending regular email updates to the CSICOP Announcement List because there really is no end to the excitement and although the program is primarily geared towards educators, parents and young people, there truly is something for everyone. We would like to encourage readers to visit the web-based program - get involved - and help spread the word far and wide.
Without the Internet a lot of our work would not be possible and we've been having a lot of fun learning about the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies. We are however hoping to develop a real-world presence as well and to reach this goal, we will need to launch a fund drive for the Young Skeptics Program.
We have recently included PayPal on the site to allow donations to be received directly online. With PayPal, just by signing up on their site for free you get a $5.00 bonus and so does the "program" of your choice (which we hope is us!) This all happens without any money actually leaving your hands. It may not sound like much but if everyone receiving this email signed up with PayPal we may raise a fair amount to help move the Young Skeptics Program beyond the confines of Cyberspace.
You can visit the area of the site where the PayPal information is provided: http://www.csicop.org/youngskeptics/ contributions and where you will find a link that allows you to sign up and/or send a donation our way. We appreciate your support. If ever there was a cause worth supporting, minimizing the nonsense by arming tomorrow's leaders with the tools of science and skepticism, has got to be high on the list.
In case you're new to the list, the Young Skeptics Program was launched on the Internet in January of this year. It's truly amazing how far we've come and again, this is largely due to the great opportunities provided by the Internet.
During the past six months we have received a lot of support and encouragement from people in all sectors of society. We have also received a lot of great ideas and help from volunteers and we are grateful for their participation and interest.
Taking the feedback we've received into consideration, we've just started what may become annual "summer renovations" - where staff and volunteers clean house, launch new ideas and improve various aspects of the program. We will probably use a bit of this time to do all the monotonous work as well - check links, fix coding, try to find all of the errors the computer is telling us about! Though construction signs and "coming soon" attractions are frowned upon within the Internet community, we thought the best approach in inviting feedback and recruiting volunteers would be to show you what we're doing, as we're doing it.
Some of the developments that are underway are really exciting -
We have a new section for activities that will develop with the help of many participating schools that have shown interest in using our ideas and resources in the classroom.
Another section for events includes a lot of fun ideas that can be incorporated in schools and at home. Teachers and parents who have written to us about how they might use the Superstition Bash idea or Darwin Day with their kids are helping develop a variety of activities that can be included with such events.
We've created a few discussion lists on Yahoo! for various categories. There should be at least one that interests you so sign up - if you don't like a lot of email you have the option of digest mode or even read-only-on-web.
The library is undergoing a huge facelift and is being built as a database-driven area. This will increase the amount of content significantly and will allow anybody interested to help gather and input resources. Our goal is to have the library serve as a very worthwhile research facility for skeptics of all ages. Rob Beeston, the Director of the Central Iowa Skeptics, has been an invaluable source of help and expertise in this endeavor and we would like to give a big public THANK YOU to him.
We have also added many more syllabi to the Educational Resource Area and we now have the trial version of CSICOP's Science Vs. The Paranormal Instructional Kit online.
We are launching two clubs for young skeptics. The I Doubt It! Club is for young people ages 5 through 8. The Skeptic Detectives Club is for young people ages 9 through 15. Club members will be participating in various "skeptical" activities, online investigations and many more fun and educational projects.
Other new areas include a fun and games section, a multimedia review area with an upcoming "Pick Apart a Sci-Fi Flick" activity, a travel section that may one day become our very own Skeptic's Travel Bureau and much more....
Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments that will be officially launched in the Fall is the Students for Science and Reason organization. This program will help launch skeptic groups on college and university campuses and in high schools across the world. Faculty, student individuals, off-campus supporters and other interested people are also invited to participate. We will be sending an update about this particular program in late August.
All in all we're really starting to see things happen. Through the programs and resources being creating we are securing a place for skepticism in the future, and not just any place - we're pushing for front-row, center all the way!
Again, we encourage you to visit the site and spend a few hours looking around. We would appreciate any feedback you might have - even the bad stuff. If you are interested in participating or contributing to the content of the site, let us know. If you are able to help the Young Skeptics Program financially, we would appreciate hearing from you.
Program Director - Young Skeptics