NTS LogoSkeptical News for 19 July 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, July 19, 2001

Articles of Note & Society for the Study of Evolution

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

Strange Lights
ABC News

http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/ufo010717.html

"Something dazzled the people of New Jersey this weekend. Something bright, high in the sky."

Crop Circles Show Aliens Returned?
Reuters

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010716/od/aliens_dc_1.html

"Russian officials said on Friday that strange circles found in a remote southern field showed aliens had returned to collect Earth soil, four years after first dropping by, Itar-Tass news agency reported."

Spiritual Leader Visits Bay State
WCVB

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/wcvb/20010716/lo/859237_1.html

"An Indian religious leader came to Massachusetts Monday to offer her spiritual embraces. NewsCenter 5's Amalia Barreda reported that her followers say a hug from her is like a blessing from God."

Sounding alarm on potential swindles
By Edgar Sanchez
Sacramento Bee Staff Writer

http://www.sacbee.com/news/scamalert/071701.html

"Their victims fall into three categories: the good, the greedy and the gullible."

Sightings of rare, ghostly eastern cougar still haunt Maritime forests
by CHRIS MORRIS
Canadian Press

http://www.recorder.ca/cp/national/010714/n071411A.html

"A fleeting form on a back country road; a chilling screech on a dark, spring night. Are these clues to solve one of New Brunswick's most enduring mysteries, or simply figments of busy imaginations eager to experience a legend?"

El Chupacabra Lives!
by Brian Linder
Film Force

http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/301320p1.html

" Watch out! El chupacabra is coming! According to today's Variety, Joe Roth's Revolution Studios will bring the legendary chupacabra to the big screen."

Mystery of lost treasure endures
By Robert Pavey
Augusta Chronicle

http://augustachronicle.com/stories/071601/met_gold.shtml

"In the vestibule of the Mary Willis Library, a dusty iron trunk continues to attract curious visitors - as it has for seven decades."

Teenage myths about contraception
BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1441000/1441898.stm

"Some teenagers think Coca Cola and wrist watches are contraceptives."

Paranormal investigators looking into 'shunned topic'
by Melanie Brooks
Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/city/010714/5011685.html

"A man wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing noise. He looks up to see a figure cloaked in black materialize at the end of his bed, staring down at him. Before he has time to cry out, the figure disappears."

Will Bobos ever see scientific truth?
By Chet Raymo
Boston Globe

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/198/science/Will_Bobos_ever_see_scientific_truth_+.shtml

"Is scientific knowledge true?"

'I can feel that it's there --somehow I can see it'
BY ANNIE SWEENEY AND BRENDA WARNER ROTZOLL
Chicago Sun-Times

http://www.suntimes.com:80/output/news/icon15.html

"In slight repose, she gazes upward and east down Rogers Avenue past a beat-up bus shelter, under the railroad tracks and toward Lake Michigan."

Trickster lives on to haunt Bytown Museum
by Melanie Brooks
Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com:80/city/010715/5016544.html

"In the shadow of Parliament Hill, where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River, an old limestone building stands witness to the flow of water and time. When it's stormy, you can hear waves crash against the rocks below."

New law opens door to an old treatment
BY NANCY HICKS
Lincoln Journal Star

http://www.journalstar.com:80/local?story_id=4090&date=20010716&past=

"In a small hospital treatment room, eight patients lie on their stomachs with a dozen needles lined up along their spines."

E.T. comes to N.J.?
By MIKE KELLY
Bergen Record

http://www.bergen.com:80/news/kelly071720010717.htm

"Paulette Holmes wants us to know that she is a completely rational 38-year-old clerk-typist who has never, ever seen a space alien."

Sweat lodge gives cancer patient hope
by Kerry Fehr-Snyder
Arizona Republic

http://www.azcentral.com:80/news/0718sweatlodge18.html

"The sweet scent of cedar burns through the sweat lodge, a Native American hut that's more about sweating than it is about lodging."

Arts Beat
Heeding the Masters' Voices
Brazilian Painter Maria Gertrudes Says She's Channeling Great Artists

By Nicole M. Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 12, 2001; Page C05

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49753-2001Jul11.html

Maria Gertrudes paints only in public. And for good reason. She wants people to see her signing the names of Renoir, Monet and Picasso. After all, says the Brazilian painter, visiting Washington this week, it's their work she's doing -- from the grave. Really.

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

From Massimo Pigliucci,

Friends,

This is to alert you and your mailing lists that my attempt to create a permanent taskforce to deal with creationism within the Society for the Study of Evolution has succeeded.

The Council of the Society (the premier organization of evolutionary biologists) has agreed to establish a subcommittee of the Education Committee to study ways in which professional evolutionists can help in the fight against creationism and ID.

I will be chairing the taskforce for the foreseeable future, and prominent authors and evolutionary biologists (including Robert Pennock, author of "The Tower of Babel" and Joseph Graves, author of "The Emperor's New Clothes") have already agree to help out.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Cheers,
Massimo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, Assoc. Professor
Department of Botany
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-1100
phone 865-974-6221, fax 2258

Ain't nobody here but us monkeys


By Bob Lancaster
March 30, 2001

http://www.arktimes.com/bob/033001bob.html

I always feel a little sorry for these yokels when another of them comes down from the hills with a new version of the old legislation to repeal the theory of evolution and to refute the insufferable contention that all of mankind, or anyhow him and his'n, burbled up out of the same gene pool that brought forth also J. Fred Muggs and the only creditable emoter in "Every Which Way But Loose," the fightin' orang Clyde.

Evolution is a concept that is hard on stupid people-perhaps even harder on them than it is on those who are merely grossly ignorant and superstitious and naive.

Articles of Note for Skeptics

From Ace Compiler Joe Littrell[abridged]

Rural myths catch military connection in their net
by John Vidal and Paul Brown
The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,460962,00.html

"Rumours, conspiracy theories, urban myths and allegations about foot and mouth are now spreading through Britain even faster than the disease itself. Most are immediately dismissible, several impossible to check, and at least one is being investigated seriously by the authorities."

SATANISTS MAY ENDANGER RUSSIA'S SECURITY
Pravda

http://english.pravda.ru/main/2001/03/19/3045.html

"According to Russia's secret services, including FSB, there are about 15 Satanist sects in the city of Moscow alone."

Herdsmen warned of media folklore
by VIC ROBERTSON
The Herald

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/archive/8-3-19101-0-3-43.html

"BROADCAST journalists are causing concern among farmers with repeated warnings that those hit by foot-and-mouth disease may have to wait up to six months before re-stocking."

House Sets the Stage for Debate on the Cloning of Humans
By AARON ZITNER
Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com:80/news/nation/20010325/t000025866.html

"The leader of a religious group devoted to UFOs and an American fertility specialist are scheduled to testify before a congressional panel this week about their efforts to clone people, in what is likely to be a step toward legislation banning the practice."

Maya Landmark on Route 66 Became Haunt of Actors, Ghosts
By CECILIA RASMUSSEN
Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com:80/news/state/20010325/t000025948.html

"During Prohibition, tourists came here to get their kicks on the brand-new Route 66. In the Great Depression, it was a landmark for those seeking the promise of California. In the 1960s and '70s, flower children and druggies flocked here, looking for harmony. Today, the landmark Aztec Hotel is being spruced up and restored to the landmark it once was."

New Study Says Shot From Grassy Knoll Likely

From the Washington Post

This is an old story

WASHINGTON--The House Assassinations Committee may have been right after all: There was a shot from the grassy knoll.

That was the key finding of the congressional investigation that concluded 22 years ago that President Kennedy's murder in Dallas in 1963 was "probably...the result of a conspiracy." A shot from the grassy knoll meant that two gunmen must have fired at the president within a split-second sequence. Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of firing three shots at Kennedy from a perch in the Texas School Book Depository, could not have been in two places at once.

A panel of the National Academy of Sciences disputed the evidence of a fourth shot, contained on a police recording of the sounds in Dealey Plaza that day, and insisted that it was random noise, perhaps static, recorded about a minute after the shooting while Kennedy's motorcade was en route to Parkland Hospital.

A new, peer-reviewed article in Science and Justice, a quarterly publication of Britain's Forensic Science Society, says the NAS panel's study was seriously flawed, having failed to take into account the words of a Dallas patrolman that show the gunshot-like noises occurred "at the exact instant that John F. Kennedy was assassinated."

In fact, the author of the article, D.B. Thomas, a government scientist and JFK assassination researcher, said it was more than 96% certain that there was a shot from the grassy knoll to the right of the president's limousine, in addition to the three shots from a book depository window above and behind the president's limousine.

Former House Assassinations Committee chief counsel G. Robert Blakey said the NAS panel's study always bothered him because it dismissed all four putative shots as random noise even though the three sound bursts from the book depository matched up precisely with film of the assassination and other evidence such as the echo patterns in Dealey Plaza and the speed of Kennedy's motorcade.

"This is an honest, careful scientific examination of everything we did, with all the appropriate statistical checks," Blakey said of Thomas' work. "It shows that we made mistakes too, but minor mistakes. The main thing is when push comes to shove, he increased the degree of confidence that the shot from the grassy knoll was real, not static. We thought there was a 95% chance it was a shot. He puts it at 96.3%. Either way, that's beyond a reasonable doubt."

Physicist Norman Ramsey of Harvard, chairman of the NAS panel, said he was "still fairly confident" of his group's work, but he said he wanted to study the Science and Justice article carefully before making further comment.


Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Volcano UFO photos

From: Terry W. Colvin

This guy has been gathering these photos for a couple months now. The live webcam resolution has gotten much worse since so many things started showing up the last couple months. I heard the U.S. Geological service has something to do with it but that's another story.

I've been checking these for a while now, and I think not only are there many UFOs flying around this volcano, but they are repeating formations too. The guy who posted these told me they almost always show up around 1 p.m. local web cam time everyday.

Now, before anyone says specks on the lense, you have to study a series to see the objects move, could not be balloons as the time they hang between shots. So I hope a few that are more photo savy here will look at these and report back here what you think. Thanks

Here are the two pages:

Mount Popocateptl Mexico

http://communities.msn.com/spyman2002/photoalbum.msnw

http://community.webshots.com/album/17515214mYYiEuDGsu

Joe Held


Tuesday, July 17, 2001

OMG!

From: Skip Blanton skipblanton@home.com

In a message dated 7/15/01 4:43:16 PM Central Daylight Time, Pappykens writes:

I was having an out-of-body experience and almost astral-traveled away yesterday, so I grounded myself and got centered with the help of my spirit guides and then the phone rang. Sensing the negative vibrations, I threw the I-Ching and checked my numerology chart, nearly having a primal, but my energy was too blocked.

So I did some bioenergetics and self-parenting, took some flower essences and ate an organic oat bran ginseng muffin, but my inner child wasn't feeling nurtured yet.

To fix this, I had a Rice Dream Frozen Pie, which, of course, made me hyper, so I did the relaxation response technique I had just learned at the Self Healing Angst Tree Defoliating Center while listening to my subliminal tapes.

That left me feeling depersonalized, so I did some polarity work, foot reflexology, and past life regression, then rebirthed myself, and called Moon Beam, my body worker, to make an appointment for a Shiatsu/Reike/Rolfing/Feldenkreis/Swedish/Japanese deep tissue massage. Unfortunately, she flaked out and never returned my call.

So I decided to energize my crystals and do some positive imagery because all my visualization techniques and affirmations made my space feel invaded. So to get empowered, I got a psychic reading from Mother Heart Love around the issue of my assertiveness so I could feel my radiance and have some energy for my psycho calisthenics and inversion swing before my harmonic brain wave synergy session.

This made me more focused for my actualization seminar, holistic healing class and dream workshop, which in turn made me clearer for my Gestalt behavioral cognitive transpersonal Rechian-Jungian-Freudian-Ericksonian session at the hot springs, but my aura was too weak for my trance channeling group, so I fasted until noon to recharge my chakras.

At that point, I sensed my intuition was high and my cycle was focused, so I turned on my ion generator to open up for my Neural Linguistic Programming session. But I needed to have my pyramid recharged before my guided synchronicity meditation, so I got some craniosacral therapy which aligned me for the fire walk between my tarot card reading and my sensory deprivation tank appointment.

Even after all that, I felt what I truly needed was a meaningful relationship to mirror myself, so I went to my personal shaman and then to my guru but they were no help. So instead I went to the Intensive Whole Life Earth Rebirth Cosmic Expo Symposium Workshop to find someone who really knew what was going on.

That didn't help either, so I locked myself in a calcium-coated Orgone Box and meditated until 9:00 p.m. None of it really worked for me, so I rolled me a big fat doobie, got baked and drank a six pack of Bud -- and dude ... did I feel right with the world!

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Creationism)

http://www.csicop.org/bib/596
-----------------------------
Three Views On Creation And Evolution
J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, eds.
http://www.zondervan.com/Books/Detail.asp?ISBN=0310220173
1999, Zondervan; 296p.
creationism, creationism:defense, creationism:philosophy, religion:philosophy, science:philosophy
Intriguing, articulate defenses of: young earth creationism by Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, old earth creationism by Robert C. Newman, and theistic evolution by Howard J. Van Till. These are accompanied by comments and critiques by J.P. Moreland, Walter Bradley, Richard H. Bube, John Jefferson Davis, Phillip E. Johnson, and Vern S. Poythress. The book is notable for the intellectual tone set even by the young-earthers, who admit their scientific weakness and argue largely based on what they see as progress towards a productive and self-critical creation-science. Philosophers predominate among the contributors, and most agree, correctly, that the common defense of evolution which seeks to exclude creation from scientific consideration is badly flawed. The authors also agree on a doctrinally orthodox Christianity, and in their opposition to naturalism. Van Till's theistic evolution does the least violence to modern science, but it is unconvincing -- he tries to confine evolution to biology in a very narrow sense, and produces too much empty rhetoric to assert science and his religion are compatible. The overall result of the book is to boost "Intelligent Design" theory as a respectable anti-evolutionism which promises some intellectual excitement. It is an interesting read -- all contributors are grossly mistaken, fortunately scientifically irrelevant, but they are also philosophically polished and they represent a formidable social force.

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Psi: T H E F A C T S

From: Jerry Goodenough j.goodenough@uea.ac.uk

A long explanation of 'the facts' about psi and how they can be established, from one of its leading proponents / exponents, Charles Tart, that appeared on another list.

Dr. Jerry Goodenough
School of Economic & Social Studies
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
Tel: 01603-593406
j.goodenough@uea.ac.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: cttart@ucdavis.edu [mailto:cttart@ucdavis.edu]
Sent: 06 July 2001 07:57
To: jcs-online@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [jcs-online] Psi: T H E F A C T S

Psi: T H E F A C T S

So many interesting questions and comments on psi! I'm really supposed to be writing a paper for a meeting in a couple of weeks, but I'll take a stab at the most fundamental question and try to deal with some of the others in another post. Excuse me if time pressure makes these answers too brief.

John Mikes asks a fundamental question:

May I ask somebody who feels positively about this topic to compose briefly T H E F A C T S knowable so far in a concise, scientific language?

As someone pointed out in this discussion, there are no absolute "facts," data is always relevant to some explicit or implicit conceptual system. So here is the basic data about psi, given a common sense or Newtonian framework (quantum physics makes it more complex, but let that go for now).

Basic Experimental Procedure:

Assume our Newtonian understanding as a working hypothesis, that is that we know how objects interact with each other and, with this knowledge, we can effectively isolate objects.

We know, e.g., that sound traveling through air diminishes in intensity with the square of the distance, and that the maximum output of intensity of the human voice is perhaps a hundred decibels. So if I have one person trying to convey information to another, both outside, by shouting, beyond a certain distance (guessing at, say, one quarter mile) the information in the shout is no longer detectible because the intensity of the shout has fallen well below the inherent noise level of the air (Brownian motion), i.e., it's irretrievably lost in noise.

Now test for what should be called "paraconceptual effects:" (a) put two people several miles apart, so you know shouting won't convey information, (b) be sure they have no other means of communication, (c) designate one the "sender" and the other the "receiver," and (d) provide the sender with randomized target material and tell her to (use the word "telepathically" if you like) use her mind to communicate it to the receiver. Don't (e) let them shout either, just to be on the safe side. Have some way to (f) objectively evaluate the degree of correspondence of the receiver's impressions with the target material with respect to chance. And, of course, (g) constantly figure out possible methodological flaws in your procedures and correct them.

If our conceptual understanding of the universe is correct and the two people are indeed totally isolated, we expect chance results. If we get enough instances of beyond chance results, we conclude our (Newtonian) conceptual system is not as complete as we'd like it to be, it's a specialized theory rather than a completely general one. That is we have paraconceptual results. We have to call them something, so for convenience we call them psi.

Basic Psi Findings:

To summarize dozens to hundreds of published study results in each of the five categories below, done over the last 50+ years, there is solid evidence for four, possibly five, psi effects. I'll define them operationally. There may or may not be other valid psi effects, but they are nowhere near as well studied.

Telepathy: You may operationally define this procedure as one person, a "sender," is consciously aware of and attempting to "send" the target material. The classical experiments involved the sender looking at cards in a thoroughly randomized deck one by one on a time schedule of, say, half a minute per card, while the "receiver," Newtonially shielded by some combination of physical barriers and distance, wrote down his impressions/guesses of the cards. Objective evaluation with cards is easy - you count hits, then use well-established statistical procedures to see if they significantly deviate from chance.

Some experiments give only chance results, some are very successful, most are middling, i.e. a little above chance (say 51% hits where 50% would be chance), but enough to be statistically significant. Meta-analyses (see the Dean Radin book I've mentioned in an earlier post) show too many significant studies for the results to be due to chance, so we have the psi effect, the paraconceptual effect we call telepathy.

Now, more briefly:

Clairvoyance: Present the randomized target material at the time the "receiver" is trying to get it, but don't have a sender. An experimenter can move the cards off the target pile one by one, as above, but face down, so no mind knows the targets at the time the receiver is trying to get them. Or just leave the shuffled cards stacked up in a deck. Results similar to telepathy experiments.

Precognition: Tell the receiver, "At some future time after you've written down your responses, the target material will be prepared by a randomizing process (decks thoroughly shuffled, face down, e.g.). Would you please write down now what the order will be?" Results as above, in spite of the strong cultural bias (and my own personal bias!) that the idea of being able to perceive a random future is ridiculous.

Psychokinesis (PK). Take a physical process with randomly distributed outputs, such as dice falling or electronic random generator output (genuinely random, not pseudo-random). Ask a person to try to mentally bias the output in a specified direction. Results as above. Many studies have now been done with basic biological processes as the PK target.

Psychic Healing: (I personally don't like this term, but it's what's used) Take an ill organism (people or more basic organisms, such as seeds) and try to influence the rate of healing. Results as above, i.e., some studies with chance results, some with quite strong results, most middling, overall significant.

PK and psychic healing might be fundamentally separate phenomena or the same thing applied in different ways, that's why I said above we have solid evidence for four or perhaps five basic psi effects.

Those are the basic observations, T H E F A C T S. Now you can (a) accept them as simply anomalous data that don't fit into current conceptual systems and leave it at that (very proper, but not much fun), or (b) go to inordinate, unscientific lengths to explain them as invalid observations, such as postulating a world-wide conspiracy of incompetent and dishonest experimenters, or (c) accept them as showing something interesting about the nature of the mind and get on with trying to figure out what is being shown. I'm interested in the last option, of course, but enough for now.

Charley Tart

--
Charles T. Tart, Ph.D.
Professor, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto CA
ITP Web site: http://www.itp.edu Fax: (630)604-3279
Professor Emeritus, Psychology, University of California, Davis
e-mail: cttart@ucdavis.edu
Home page & archives: http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/
Editor, The Archives of Scientists' Transcendent Experiences
http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/tart/taste/

Congress hears alien life testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists studying the possibility of extraterrestrial life were encouraged by members of Congress, just seven years after some lawmakers dismissed the efforts as a search for "little green men." In a hearing Thursday of the House space science subcommittee, lawmakers applauded efforts to find evidence of life elsewhere in the universe and to search for other Earthlike worlds. "The discovery of life in the universe would be one of the most astounding discoveries in human history," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "Funding should match public interest and I don't believe it does." Four scientists appearing as witnesses said that in the last five years the concept that life exists beyond the Earth has been boosted by dramatic discoveries both on Earth and in space.

Full article at:

http://www.infobeat.com/fullArticle?article=409630428

Really Stupid Things Believers Say

From Michael Davis

Hello all,

Finally my new web site dedicated to archiving the stupidest of the believer's stupid utterances is online. You can find it here:

http://ufokooks.50megs.com/believers/

I would like to thank all the people who helped make it happen (by saying really stupid things).

Thanks to:

Suz
FlySpecks
Twonky
josX
Trypt
Harold Ensle
Chaz
Gavin--1 (Jethro)
And a few other morons (you know who you are).

With idiots like these in the believer camp, who needs debunkers?


Monday, July 16, 2001

Nice expose of Discover Inst and ID in Salon

http://www.salon.com/

Published June 14 - 20, 2001
Darwin hits back
BY ROGER DOWNEY

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.

Intelligent Design has been rattling around the back alleys of academe for a decade, but it really got going about five years ago when Seattle's Discovery Institute embarked on a well-funded campaign to propagate it: publishing numerous books on the subject by salaried Institute "fellows" and hosting a highly publicized congressional seminar on the subject. The movement's big breakthrough came in April, when, in the wake of the state of Kansas' restoration of Darwin to the curriculum, both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times and ran prominent articles on the Institute's campaign to give anti-evolutionism intellectual credibility.

Intelligent Design drives mainstream scientists crazy because it presents its arguments as scientific, yet it refuses to phrase them in the only way scientists recognize as valid: as assertions subject to disproof. Instead it appeals to emotion and intuition. Given the sheer complexity of the natural world, and living things in particular, proponents say, how can anyone believe that Mind and Will were not required to give shape to Creation?

Today's advocates of this idea have no better evidence to support it than Saint Augustine did in the 5th century, but they do their best to veil this weakness by finding people with reputable scientific credentials to act as spokespersons capable of dazzling a lay audience with myriad conundrums drawn from materialistic science itself. The argument boils down to "I've got a Ph.D. and I believe it, so why shouldn't you?"

The only answer a scientist can give to that argument is: "Having a Ph.D. doesn't prove that what you say is right; in the long run a scientist's credibility depends on just one thing: whether he or she can come up with evidence capable of convincing other scientists. You are not qualified to judge a scientific question if you're not willing to accept scientific rules of what evidence is and then work through the evidence yourself. The opinion of the man in the street doesn't count."

Put that way, the argument sounds distressingly "elitist." And unfortunately, outside the realm of the lab and the scientific journal, the opinion of the man on the street counts for quite a lot. So reputable scientists tend to keep their elitist mouths shut and hope the whole issue will blow over, however much they disapprove of the intellectual shenanigans of the Discovery Institute and its "fellows," funded by millions donated by conservative Christians like the McCallies of Tennessee and the Ahmansons of southern California.

FORTUNATELY, there are other people with money, and some are willing to spend it to counter the covert Christian campaigners of Intelligent Design. Some of the most committed--and monied, for that matter--are also based right here in Discoveryland. On Sept. 24, the Public Broadcast System will kick off a seven-part, 8-hour mega-series bravely titled Evolution, supplemented by simultaneous publication of a companion book by one of America's most respected science writers, a massive educational campaign to supply study materials to schools across the country, and an interactive Web site to tie the whole sprawling project together.

You could pore for hours over the background materials in the Evolution Project's CD-ROM publicity package and still not notice who put up the numerous millions to make it possible. Only in the small print will you learn that the production of the NOVA Science Unit of Boston's WGBH was financed by Clear Blue Sky, the film production arm of Paul Allen's Bellevue-based media conglomerate Vulcan Northwest.

With discretion unwonted in an Allen enterprise, Clear Blue Sky has already made a considerable mark in the independent film scene since its foundation in 1997, having backed Julie Taymor' extravagant film version of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus starring Anthony Hopkins, John Sayles' Latin American revolutionary drama Men with Guns, and, currently in theaters, the John Turturro/Emily Watson vehicle The Luzhin Defense.

Blue Sky has also funded two recent documentaries by the -Up director Michael Apted, but Evolution is by far its most ambitious educational project yet. If properly designed, programs like this become part of the permanent "lending library" of American education, cycling endlessly on educational cable channels, serving as materials for classroom and distance-learning programs.

Up till now, substantial Allen money has not been directed toward traditional educational goals. With this one project, the Allens deserve a place among the nation's Pews and Annenbergs: families committed to building America by making Americans smarter, better informed, and harder to fool. The Discovery Institute's Darwinian disinformation campaign will still appeal to those looking for pseudoscientific support for their private ideologies. But in persuading a dispassionate public that they've got something more than propaganda to offer, they've now a formidable opponent to contend with.

Is the real Nessie just a case of the shakes?

By Roger Highfield

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000631269538671&rtmo=rQr2rSEX&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/6/27/ness27.html

THE Loch Ness monster stirs from her underwater lair when the earth shakes, according to a geological explanation unveiled today at an international scientific meeting. Decades of argument about whether the lake is inhabited by a dinosaur-like monster may be ended by the new theory advanced by Dr Luigi Piccardi of the Centro di Studio dell' Appennino e delle Catene Perimediterranee in Florence.

'Bigfoot' on the Prowl in Canadian North?

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010626/od/bigfoot_dc_1.html

TORONTO (Reuters) - First there were reports of a steel-clawed ``monkey-man'' in India, then a 10-year-old ``dog boy'' in Chile, and now residents of Canada's wilderness are reporting that ``Bigfoot,'' a hairy ape-man, might be on the prowl in northern Ontario, the National Post reported.

Residents of a native Indian reserve 1,000 miles north of Toronto have discovered 14-inch-long footprints, the newspaper said.


Sunday, July 15, 2001

Teenage belief in spiritualism as popular as faith in God

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000631269538671&rtmo=qKqps9d9&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/6/24/nteen24.html ALMOST as many teenagers believe in ghosts and horoscopes as believe in God, according to an extensive new survey.

While 41 per cent said that they believed in God, 40 per cent said that they were convinced that ghosts existed and over a third - 35 per cent - put their faith in the veracity of horoscopes, the survey of 34,000 13 to 15-year-olds found.

Exorcist called to banish 'ghost' in Handel's house


By Catherine Milner, Arts Correspondent
(Filed: 15/07/2001)

http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/07/15/nhand15.xml&sSheet=/news/2001/07/15/ixhomef.html

THE London house where George Frideric Handel lived is to host an exorcism after two people said they saw a ghost while preparing the premises for public opening as a museum.

The Handel House Trust has contacted a Roman Catholic priest who will carry out the ritual this week in the bedroom where the composer died in 1759. The trust does not want visitors frightened off or any damage caused.

"We weren't sure whether having a ghost would attract or deter customers, but with all the valuable objects we have coming into the house we felt it might be safer to get rid of it," said Martin Egglestone, a trust fundraiser who reported seeing the ghost twice in the bedroom of the house at 25 Brook Street, central London.

His first sighting came a month ago, he said, while he was helping to measure up for some curtains. "Suddenly, the air got very thick and I saw a shape, higher than me, like the imprint on the back of your retina when you close your eyes, having been looking at the sun for too long.

" The shape seemed to be that of a woman. Another staff member also witnessed it on a second occasion, said Mr Egglestone. "There was no malevolent feeling. It felt like the pressure you get when you brush past someone in the Tube and they are too close to you."

Staff working in the house report a strong, lingering smell of perfume in the bedroom. Jacqueline Riding, the museum project director, said: "It's become something of a standing joke."

Handel never married. His main companion was a manservant. The house was later occupied by dentists, art dealers and antiquarian booksellers. The late rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said he thought he saw a ghost in the house next door, where he lived in the late 1960s.

The only women known to have visited the house while Handel lived there were two fiery sopranos, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, who vied to perform in his operas.

"There is a possibility that the ghost might be one of them," said Mr Egglestone, "but they would probably have sung in the room in which he had his harpsichord on the floor below the bedroom."

A local priest, who wished to remain anonymous, said water would be sprinkled and a prayer read out to try to send the ghost away. "This is a soul who is restless and not at home," he said. "I don't see it as evil or horrible and one should help it to be at peace."

Handel lived in the house for 36 years and composed the Messiah there. It will open as a museum in November, aided by lottery funding.

Russia says aliens collecting samples from crop circles

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_351419.html

Circles found in a Russian wheat field suggest aliens have been collecting soil from the Earth, Russian officials say.

The Emergency Situations Department says the circles indicate aliens have returned after a previous visit four years ago, Itar-Tass reports.

The circles of wheat that had been flattened in a clockwise direction were found in a field outside Maikop in Krasnodar region.

The agency reports similar circles appeared four years ago.

An international crop circle weekend is taking place on July 14 and 15 Devizes, Wiltshire.


Saturday, July 14, 2001

Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil

From: Taner Edis

http://www.csicop.org/bib/595
-----------------------------
Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil
Cornelius G. Hunter
2001, Brazos; 192p.
creationism:defense, creationism:philosophy

An "Intelligent Design" book which points out, plausibly enough, that arguments for evolution have always included theological and metaphysical aspects, particularly the notion that nature is cruel and imperfect, and therefore an all-powerful and all-good Designer would not have been directly responsible for things as we see them. Hunter argues that the metaphysical notions which forced thinkers to rely on nature alone or on a distant God are central to evolution, that these are unscientific assumptions, and that these are still vital to keep a flawed theory like evolution from collapsing. So this book is another example of how ID turns the present liberal religious defense of evolution against itself. Liberals contend that good science is sharply separated from the sort of philosophical argument which might touch on religion, and so showing how evolution and metaphysical debate are entangled causes embarrassment for them. ID'ers can easily exploit the philosophical weakness of current defenses of evolution, as these also rely on dubious rhetoric about unscientific metaphysical assumptions to attack the more conventional set of creationists.

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

CASE STUDY OF EXPANDED CONSCIOUSNESS AND REINCARNATION DOCUMENTED FREE ON THE INTERNET AT http://testament.org

LOS ANGELES Q&A interview transcripts and journals document events usually equated with the 'supernatural' or 'miraculous' in TESTAMENT. A free Internet edition is available at http://testament.org

The book evolved after Mark Russell Bell worked as a publicity writer for Paramount Pictures and researched in his spare time 'talking poltergeists' throughout history, including the Bell Witch, Mary Jobson and Isle of Man cases. He then learned about a contemporary family experiencing the talking poltergeist phenomena and traveled to rural Oklahoma for interviews. Centrahoma's Bell/Mc Wethy family relate their interaction with a variety of spirit voices, including aliens.

Among the events experienced by Mark Russell Bell in Oklahoma were materialization of coins and other objects, spirit laughter and groaning, and insect phenomena. Upon returning to his native Los Angeles, Bell was shocked as the phenomena continued and escalated. He stopped working as a publicity writer for Paramount--the film studio with the familiar mountain logo--as he began transcribing the tapes. He discovered that interview microcassettes contained Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and unattributed sounds. When he decided to record over a portion of tape to avoid dealing with sexuality, the microcassette was destroyed by the unseen Collaborator. Bell soon began to realize the greater implications of what on the surface were a succession of events long associated with the 'paranormal.' He decided to continue conducting interviews about the unexplained and turned his attention to Hollywood where 'every movie made is a miracle.'

He comments, "I found parallels between the account of the Angelic Force called 'Michael' by the family in Oklahoma with what has been recorded about the Angel Who spoke to Moses in the Mount, was mentioned as an 'angelical spirit' in the Nostradamus 1555 letter to his son, used Edgar Cayce as a channel, was referred to as 'The Mahatmas' by THE SECRET DOCTRINE author Madame Blavatsky, communicated via the Ouija Board to inspire the MESSAGES FROM MICHAEL books, and was glimpsed in a near death experience by Dr. George Ritchie as described by Dr. Raymond A. Moody in LIFE-AFTER-LIFE."

Photographs at the testament.org website document spirits and apparitions, bushes that went up in flames behind Bell's condo, a bigfoot, and entities at a window that some believe to be aliens. The publication date is January 9, 1997 and the first portion of the follow-up book NEW TESTAMENT found exclusively on the Internet was published on July 20, 1997. The ISBN is 0-9654916-0-9 and the Library of Congress Catalog Number is 96-71184.

"Angelic Guidance manifesting in the life of an entertainment industry publicity writer is a metaphor reminding us that we each are part of a divine process as we create from our subconscious and shared Superconscious mind," states Bell, whose lineage chart reveals ties with film directors Alfred Hitchcock ("Rebecca," "Family Plot") and Ken Russell ("Tommy," "Altered States").

Bell has been a guest on thirteen radio programs where he has shared his experiences, including the nationally syndicated "The Edge of Reality" hosted by Ken Dashow on December 4, 1999 when Bell commented, "Spirit is materializing around certain individuals to create metaphors for others. And that's what happened in my case."

The bell synchronicity in his life culminated when he became aware of having lived a previous life in Egypt as Bel-Marduk also known as Ra-Ta (Sun-Earth) the priest. Visiting an antique store several blocks from his home in Echo Park, Bell found an Egyptian pendant with a profile of his exact likeness. In 1932 Edgar Cayce channeled the message that Ra-Ta would return to the world in 1998. That year, people discovered Bell via the Internet.

As Bell observes in "Publishing Information" at http://testament.org "Reading TESTAMENT illuminates the lost knowledge of the relationships of man and the carnal world with those changes that fade or fall away in their various effect, making plain the interpretation of death. The reader's consciousness is expanded; thus the 'uncovering' of the Hall of Records. . . . Spirit has made my life an open book so that others can expand their consciousness."

The connection between Bel-Marduk and Ra is a subject of the work of Zecharia Sitchin. In Sitchin's recent book THE COSMIC CODE, ancient texts are cited concerning Marduk's emergence from the Great Pyramid. Sitchin identifies these texts on pages 59/84 as "precursors of the New Testament tale of the death, entombment, and resurrection of Jesus. Sentenced to exile, Ra/Marduk became Amen-Ra, the unseen god. . . . scholars seriously debated at the turn of this century whether his story was a prototype of the story of Christ."

At Paramount, Mark Russell Bell contributed to publicity campaigns for more than 100 films, including "Ghost," several "Star Trek" films, "Scrooged," "Fire In The Sky," "Dead Again," a reissue of "The Ten Commandments," "The Butcher's Wife," "Fatal Attraction," "The Godfather Part III," "Forrest Gump," "Braveheart," "The Naked Gun," "Pet Sematary," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "We're No Angels."

Bell says that after his experiences he perceives watching movies or television shows as distractions to the real and important work Spirit calls us to do: helping other members of our human & animal family and stopping the destruction of the Earth's eco-system.

The Wireless Flash News Service's David Moye quipped after his interview with Mark Russell Bell, "Bell also claims he has the power to raise the dead because whenever he meets people, they start talking about their past lives."

background information http://testament.org/testament/pguild.html
photo of burned bushes http://testament.org/testament/c38.html
photo of Egyptian pendant http://testament.org/testament/c27.html
photo of a spirit http://testament.org/testament/c16.html
photo of "aliens" http://testament.org/testament/c19.html
photo of a "bigfoot" http://testament.org/testament/c50.html

The Polygraph: Does It Detect Lies or Rely on Lies?

Amherst, N.Y. (June 28, 2001)-When the FBI announced that it had uncovered Robert Philip Hanssen's 15 years of alleged espionage activities, the immediate question was how an organization like the FBI, equipped with the best investigative tools, could overlook so serious a security breach for so long. An article by the Center for National Security and Arms Control's senior scientist, published in the new July/August 2001 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, suggests that such blunders might be explained by American law enforcement's love affair with the arcane contraption known as the polygraph (a.k.a lie detector).

Alan P. Zelicoff is the Senior Scientist in the Center for National Security and Arms Control at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. He offers a scathing indictment in his article for Skeptical Inquirer, titled "Polygraphs and the National Labs: Dangerous Ruse Undermines National Security." Zelicoff compares the polygraph to the ancient Roman practice of divining the future from animal entrails: "Perhaps polygraphers would do better with Wonder Woman's lasso than they have been doing with their box. The secret of the polygraph-the polygrapher's own shameless deception-is that their machine is no more capable of telling the truth than were the priests of ancient Rome standing knee-deep in chicken parts."

According to Zelicoff, the four parameters measured by the polygraph-blood pressure, pulse, perspiration, and breathing rate-are all affected by a broad range of emotions, and offer no reliable measurement of deception. Zelicoff says that there are dozens of studies in the past two decades showing that the lie detector cannot distinguish between truth telling and lying. As examples of the polygrapher's dangerous inaccuracy, he points to the cases of spies like Aldrich Ames and the Walker brothers, who passed their polygraph tests repeatedly every five years. He also cites examples of those wrongly accused based on shoddy polygraph evidence, such as FBI agent Mark Mullah whose career was ruined by suspicion, despite the fact that all "evidence" against him was dismissed and his badge was restored.

"It is time to relegate the polygraph... to the ash heap of bad ideas and misplaced beliefs," Zelicoff says. The scientist urges that "we should not make the spy's task easier with self-defeating measures like the polygraph."


Friday, July 13, 2001

Tesla

These were the words that Tesla used at the end of his pivotal 1892 December lecture, "The Dissipation of Electricity". He was brimming over with buoyancy and optimism for the future In the 1890's, Tesla conducted a large number of experiments which confirmed his theory and refined his understanding of the special conditions required for Radiant energy to express itself. He later expanded his New York work with the large scale experimental trials conducted at Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1899. Tesla, the humanitarian, wanted more than anything to share this enormous discovery with his fellow man. Tesla spoke of practical applications of radiant energy that were so wide reaching that they could have created a profound and immense leap into the future for all of mankind in practically every sector of daily life:

Unlimited electricity could be made available anywhere and at any time, by merely pushing a rod into the ground and turning on the electrical appliance. Homes, farms, offices, factories, villages, libraries, museums, street lights, etc., could have all their lighting needs met by merely hanging ordinary light bulbs or fluorescent tubes anywhere desired- without the need for wiring -and produce brilliant white light 24 hours a day. Motor energy for any imagined use such as industrial applications, transportation, tractors, trucks, trains, boats, automobiles, air ships or planes could be powered freely-anywhere on the planet from a single Magnifying Transmitter. This new form of energy even had the ability to elevate human consciousness to levels of vastly improved comprehension and mental clarity. Undreamed of therapeutic applications to improve human health and to eliminate disease conditions could have been achieved fully 100 years ago had Tesla been allowed to complete his commercial development of Radiant Energy. But powerful barons of industry, chiefly in the person of John Pierpont Morgan, colluded to deny him the financial backing he needed and in doing so, effectively denied mankind one of Nature's most abundant and inexhaustible gifts of free energy.

READ MORE HERE

http://educate-yourself.org/radiantenergystory.html

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link:

http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News"

http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm

which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - July 13, 2001

STEM CELL ADVANCES FUEL FUNDING DEBATE
from Newsday

Washington - While President George W. Bush weighs whether to approve federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, controversial developments this week highlight the sort of privately funded experiments that can continue regardless of what Bush decides.

Some ethicists and proponents of embryonic stem cell research cite the new work, which involves efforts to create embryos solely for the purpose of harvesting stem cells, as a reason for the federal government to become more actively involved in funding and oversight of the research.

"The only way there is going to be any sunshine on this research is if there is federal funding," Lawrence Soler, chairman of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, said yesterday. "That's the only way there is going to be oversight." The coalition, an advocacy group for stem cell research, represents more than 50 universities, scientific societies and voluntary health organizations.

http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/health/friday/nd5162.htm

STUDY BREAKS NEW GROUND ON VARIATIONS IN GENOME
from The New York Times

A large-scale study of the variability in the human genome has shown that each human gene may come in 12 different versions on average. The authors also say their findings cast doubt on the way that a large government and industry program is mining the genome for the genetic basis of common human diseases.

The study was undertaken by Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company in New Haven, to discover the genetic basis for why individuals respond differently to given drugs.

The company's plan is to help doctors determine through a genetic test, rather than trial and error, which asthma or cholesterol drug, for example, would be best for a patient. The company has bought 60 of the latest-model DNA-sequencing machines, one of the largest sets outside those of the genome-sequencing centers, and installed them in a refurbished World War II munitions plant in New Haven.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/13/health/genetics/13GENO.html

CONGRESS ENCOURAGES HUNT FOR EXTRA TERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Seven years after members of Congress rejected research into extraterrestrial life as a search for "little green men," lawmakers encouraged scientists Thursday in their efforts to uncover life beyond the Earth.

"The discovery of life in the universe would be one of the most astounding discoveries in human history," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Thursday at a hearing of the House space science subcommittee. "Funding should match public interest and I don't believe it does."

Smith said that since funds for the search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI) were booted out of the federal budget in 1994, "the SETI credibility has been enhanced."

Four scientists appearing as witnesses said that in the last five years the concept that life exists beyond the Earth has been boosted by dramatic discoveries both on Earth and in space.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/41868p-657789c.html

NIST PHYSICISTS TOUT 'WORLD'S MOST STABLE CLOCK'
from Newsday

Think of it as the quickest ticking in history.

A team of physicists in Boulder, Colo., has devised what is believed to be the world's most stable clock. Their new mercury-ion clock is so regular in fact, it would err by less than a second in the 15-billion year lifetime of the universe.

"We claim the world's most stable clock. It's potentially more accurate by a thousand times than the best cesium-microwave clocks," said physicist Scott Diddams, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

According to Diddams, "the fundamental tick rate of our clock is about one femto-second per tick. It is at very high frequency, about one quadrillion oscillations per second." Each oscillation of the cooled mercury ion, like a wall clock's swinging pendulum, marks out a certain amount of time. In this case, the oscillations are so fast and the signals so short that they can only be "read" by use of an ultra-precise laser.

http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/health/friday/nd6397.htm

SOME EXPERTS FEAR A SHARP CLIMATE SHIFT
from The Los Angeles Times

AMSTERDAM -- As climatologists gather here this week to discuss new research on global warming, a disquieting idea has been gaining currency--the possibility that small shifts in global temperature could lead to sudden and abrupt climate changes.

What makes such projections important is not their likelihood, which is uncertain, although a growing number of scientists believe that sudden changes in climate are a possibility. Instead, the chief significance for policymakers and the public lies in what the new research suggests about scientific uncertainty and risk.

Until recently, much of the climate debate has centered on whether global warming is occurring at all. Most climate models had assumed a slow, steady increase in temperature and forecast gradual changes with gradual effects.

But newer, more sophisticated models suggest that the Earth's climate system is "nonlinear"--in other words, small changes can have large effects on everything from ocean and land temperatures to drought and monsoon patterns, icecaps and tropical rain forests.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-071301extreme.story

SEND IN THE CLOUDS
from The Christian Science Monitor

During the summer of 1976, a dozen years before climate change burst on the scene as a hot-button issue, climate scientist Bruce Wielicki saw the future, and it was in clouds.

A grad student at the time, Dr. Wielicki was summering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, taking part in a 12-week brainstorming session on climate.

At one point, he recalls, he teamed up with a climate modeler studying how the Earth and atmosphere balance the energy they receive from the sun. Wielicki had been working on a simple computer model to simulate the effect changing sea-surface temperatures have on climate, including cloudiness. The two decided to see what would happen if they linked their models.

"I added clouds to his model, and of course, they blew his results right up," Wielicki says, laughing. "He was sure I'd messed up something in my calculations. So we spent the summer figuring out that, no, my calculations were right and clouds were that powerful."

http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/07/12/fp11s1-csm.shtml

EXPERTS BAFFLED BY ARMY WORM INVASION IN NORTHEAST
from The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - An invasion of armyworms is turning lawns throughout the Northeast a sickly brown. And it's baffling experts, who can only guess that the source of the infestation was the winds of Tropical Storm Allison.

"They haven't been this bad in the Northeast in over 25 years," said John Buechner, director of technical services for Lawn Doctor Inc., a national lawn care company. "We're finding them from central Pennsylvania up through Boston."

Earlier this spring, parts of the Midwest experienced one of the worst armyworm outbreaks entomologists had seen. But the theory that armyworm moths, which can lay 300 eggs at a time, were blown northeast by the tropical storm in June is not easily proved.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/42266p-663448c.html

ARMY WORMS MOWING DOWN LAWNS ON CAPE COD

A more localized look at the story above from The Boston Globe

SOUTH YARMOUTH - It's become a twisted guessing game on Cape Cod: Whose lawn will the army worms swarm next? The smooth-skinned caterpillars, which can literally munch through a lawn overnight, turned Nanci and John Kelley's carefully tended grass into brown stalks that crunch underfoot like frozen snow. But the caterpillars barely touched a blade of grass on a neighbor's lawn several doors down.

It's a mystery why the army worms are here at all, never mind how they choose whose lawn to devour. The worms, native to the South, have invaded New England this summer in numbers not seen since 1937, if ever. Around Cape Cod, parts of the South Shore, and now portions of western Massachusetts, tales abound of homeowners hearing the caterpillars chewing at night or waking up to find half-inch piles of dead ones on their patio. At least one homeowner reported killing thousands of the pests with a shovel.

''It looks like the whole ground is moving when they are eating - there are that many of them,'' said Tom Fair of the Lawn Co. in Dennis, Weymouth, and Sagamore. For the last two weeks, his company has been getting an average of 250 calls a day from homeowners desperate to turn back the invading army worms from the lawns they have spent so much time and money making lush.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/194/nation/Army_worms_mowing_down_lawns+.shtml

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
nthenews@sigmaxi.org

Area 51 - A Personal Account of 12 years employment there

From: Terry W. Colvin

Area 51 - A Personal Account

http://209.204.197.55/area-51.html

Disclosure Project and other material

http://www.all-natural.com/expose.html

Transcript of V.L.'s Custer Meeting in August, 1995. This is a transcript from a tape of a talk that L.V. gave regarding his 12 years at Area 51. V.L. is an upstanding citizen, a gentleman and speaks the truth, this we assure you. Please excuse any misspellings of names or places.

I spent from June of 1965 to August of 1977 directly on the Nevada Test Site, worked there full time. I was Radiation - Health and Safety. Most of the time I worked there, I either worked for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory out of Livermore, Berkeley rather, California or Sandia Corporation out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

All those testing laboratories have since changed their names. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory is now the Lawrence National Laboratory, they don't use the word radiation.

In my job we had responsibility for and access to all of the areas of the Nevada Test Site which encompasses about 1800 square miles. It begins north of Las Vegas at Indian Springs where the bombing and gunnery range starts and goes all the way to Beatty, Nevada.

It's an area that has armed guards around it, surveillance devices, it's a restricted air space, you can't fly over it. If you're caught on it, things happen to you. I had a top secret clearance and I think there probably wasn't a square mile of that test site that I haven't been on or seen, part of which is Area 51. One of the things I'd like to tell you folks right now is that there's certain things that I cannot and will not talk about. When you quit out there, quitting what used to be the Atomic Energy Commission, it's now the Department of Energy, it's kind of like quitting the Central Intelligence Agency. You never quit. They never let loose of you. There are certain things that I saw and was part of that I will take to the grave with me without talking about.

However, there are a lot of things that I can talk about. And I think the news media has titillated public interest in a very dishonest way because 95% of what's at area 51 is totally uninteresting, it' s very mundane. The federal government tests aircraft at Area 51 that they want to keep secret.

To give you an example, when I was out there, during the later years I was out there, they tested the stealth fighter and the stealth bomber, the Blackbird, SR-71 flew in and out of there on a weekly basis. The reason the government uses Area 51 is because it has a 10 mile long runway, absolute secrecy, you can't see anything that's worth seeing from the air or the ground. And that hill that sits away from Area 51 where everybody goes up and looks, all they can see... we used to sit there and look back at people and do this (wave) because all you can see is administration buildings. That's all you can see. The government knows that people are out there looking into the area and because of that a deliberate effort has been made that there's absolutely nothing to see right there.

Now if you go a few miles north, there's a lot of things that people might want to see but never will. The Dept. of Energy now has yearly tours on the test sight, once a year the families of employees, that belong to certain classifications of workers, are allowed to take bus tours through part of the test site. It's a very small area that they let people see, it's Frenchman Flat, the flat where the old air bursts, where atmospheric tests were performed.

But you can't get within 40 miles of Area 51. As I told Paul Strassels on the radio the other day, there were things I saw and have seen in Area 51 that would make one wonder where they came from. I've also seen things out there that violate most of the laws of physics. My degree is in physics, and we , on a routine basis, used to observe... because we worked at night, it was a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year operation out there. And I worked all three shifts, graveyard, swing and days. I worked at night a lot out there. I've seen things that most aircraft or no aircraft that I know of could do, do.

So the news reports that you hear are accurate to the extent that someone is testing either weapons or various vehicles that go through the atmosphere that use technology that we're not really in possession of.

Now, if that sounds a bit odd, I would say this. The federal government is afraid... in fact we had a whole division of public relations people to feed the public information that was cleansed. The federal government is afraid that if the population of the United States knew some of the things that we have done and have seen and have found, people would panic. And that's all I can say about that.

The other thing is that while we were testing nuclear weapons out there, the last year I was out there, the last full year I was out there, in '76, we had 53 or 54 underground nuclear weapons tests. We announced 2 of them to the public. The reason for that was strictly political.

...Full transcript at first URL above...

Science In the News

From: Jack Kolb kolb@ucla.edu

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link:

http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News"

http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm

which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines - July 12, 2001

FOSSILS MAY BE EARLIEST HUMAN LINK
from The New York Times

An Ethiopian fossil hunter has found the bones and teeth of forest- dwelling creatures who lived as much as 5.8 million years ago, a discovery that appears to challenge some assumptions of early human evolution and extend knowledge of the family tree back close to its roots.

The fossils are the remains of creatures who apparently walked upright. They are more than one million years older than any other fossils definitively established as those of hominids, the group of species that includes humans, their direct ancestors and close relatives.

The new find, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, is especially intriguing to paleontologists because the bones appear to be so primitive and apelike and their ages, 5.2 million to 5.8 million years old, put them close to the fateful evolutionary split between the lineage leading to modern humans and the one that produced chimpanzees. Molecular biological studies indicate that the divergence occurred 5.5 million to 6.5 million years ago.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/12/international/12FOSS.html

CAL SCHOLAR'S TEAM SAYS IT FOUND OLDEST HUMANLIKE FOSSIL

(This is the same story, but includes parts of an interview conducted with Yohannes Haile-Selassie, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley who found the fossils, and Martin Pickford, a member of a French team that reported last January on fossils of similar age found in Kenya. The reporter recounts a bout of e-mailed sniping between the two paleoanthropologists, each suggesting their fossil is hominid, the other's a mere ape. A respected colleague steps in to insist that the two teams have benefitted from their collaboration.) from The San Francisco Chronicle

...In a telephone interview from Addis Ababa, where he is analyzing his fossils, Haile-Selassie said he is being extremely conservative and that the fragments he and WoldeGabriel plucked from the sun-baked ground may represent an entirely new species of prehuman creature.

The fossils they found vary in their ages from about 5.2 million to 5.8 million years old, according to Renne.

Anthropologists call all the species and subspecies of these ancient ancestors hominids, to distinguish them from the ape lineage, which includes chimpanzees. The two branches -- apes and hominids -- are believed to have separated and evolved from one common ancestor between 6 million and 8 million years ago.

But in the contentious world of paleoanthropology, where scientists have been trying for many decades to sort out the murky ancestry of today's human race by comparing thousands of fossil bones and skulls, no evidence is certain and no lineages are clear.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/07/12/MN167810.DTL&type=science

SCIENTISTS FILE COURT MOTION OVER STEM CELLS
from Newsday

In an effort to fend off and perhaps block an unfavorable decision from President George W. Bush on the future of human stem cell experiments, a group of scientists yesterday asked a federal judge to rule that the administration acted improperly in suspending federal funding for the controversial research earlier this year.

The scientists, who initially sued the Department of Health and Human Services in May, asked U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lambreth in Washington, D.C., to speed up their case by ruling in a summary judgment that the administration failed to adhere to the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for a public comment period before certain government decisions.

The hope of the scientists is that public comments on the importance of stem cell research in finding cures for diseases would pressure Bush to approve funding.

The motion also asks Lambreth to rule that the government has both the authority and duty under existing law to fund stem cell research.

http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/health/thursday/nd9379.htm

NEAR-DEATH EPISODES ON THE CELLULAR LEVEL
from Newsday

Although it sounds a lot like science fiction, new research shows how individual cells can live through near-death experiences.

The new findings, announced simultaneously in today's issue of the journal Nature by scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and MIT, show that the control of a process called programmed cell death is more complex than anticipated. Until now, scientists believed the path to cell death was straight and irreversible; once a cell started to die, it would in fact die. The new findings show that cells that should have died can be saved.

The finding suggests that ways may be found to save vital cells - such as the brain's neurons - from premature death. It may also lead to new ways to bump off cells that are doing damage, especially cancer cells that have avoided dying when they should.

http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/health/thursday/nd3406.htm

CLUES TO LIFE MAY BE FOUND IN UNDERSEA HYDROTHERMAL FIELDS, REPORT SAYS
from The Associated Press

Researchers have reported that a spectacular undersea system of hot springs and towering spires nicknamed "Lost City" is a unique breeding ground for microbes that may offer clues to the formation of life on Earth.

Oceanographers stumbled upon the formation on ancient Earth crust deep in the mid-Atlantic in December. Some of the white mineral spires were measured at up to 180 feet - the tallest ever found.

Such formations - called hydrothermal fields - rise over eons. They are the result of accumulated minerals dissolved in hot water bubbling up through fissures known as thermal vents.

But subsequent study of "Lost City" - and the venting system that produced it - showed several unique attributes, researchers reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/41453p-651983c.html

NEW NASA 'TIME MACHINE' CRAFT TO TAKE IN SOME SUN
from The Los Angeles Times

Hoping to catch a cosmic breeze, NASA is preparing to launch a new spacecraft to seek evidence of the earliest days of our solar system 4 1/2 billion years ago.

The satellite, to be known as Genesis, is scheduled to launch July 30. Its mission is scheduled to end in 2004 with a dramatic helicopter recovery over the Utah desert.

If all goes according to plan, NASA officials said Wednesday, Hollywood's top stunt pilots will fly in formation with the capsule as it floats to Earth on a parafoil, a highly maneuverable parachute. They will have 12 chances to lasso the craft in midair, preventing the damage of a ground landing. The trial runs have been a success, and the recovery is expected to go smoothly, said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials. Mission spokesman Gilbert Yanow likens the spacecraft to a time machine. Its mission is to gather evidence about the composition of the solar system in its earliest form by collecting particles of the sun's surface.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000057100jul12.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, TO HOLOGRAPHIC DATA STORAGE
from The New York Times

STORAGE space is tight these days, and not just in cramped New York apartments. Home dwellers anywhere might be delighted to stow the 10 years' worth of receipts, canceled checks and tax records clogging their files in a space no bigger than an ice cube. Hospitals, insurance companies, banks and department stores might also appreciate storage that compact for their vast databases.

Now two researchers from Canada and Spain have devised a glass-based material that they say may one day safely store huge amounts of data in just such small spaces.

The new, glassy medium is not magnetic, like the hard drive in a computer, but holographic. Holography is an optical process that stores not only three-dimensional images like the familiar ones found on credit cards and CD packages but the 0's and 1's of digital data as well. Because the data can be recorded and retrieved at hundreds of angles within a storage material rather than just on the surface, page after page can be stored on material an inch thick.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/12/technology/circuits/12NEXT.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
http://www.sigmaxi.org

Media Resource Service
http://www.mediaresource.org

American Scientist magazine
http://www.americanscientist.org

For feedback on In the News,
mailto:inthenews@sigmaxi.org

Crank Dot Net

From: Dean A. Batha

Every skeptic should bookmark this one:

http://www.crank.net

Wait, there's more:

http://www.godhatesfigs.com/

Chiro through the ages

The Web site says it all:

http://www.dearauntnettie.com/museum/museum-chiropractor.htm

30KW PERMANENT MAGNET GENERATOR!

This Skeptical News feature does not accept paid advertising, but we do accept free entertainment.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This is a bunch of crap, and the NTS will not accept responsibility if anybody actually falls for this scheme.

TIRED OF HIGH ENERGY BILLS? WHAT IF YOU NEVER HAD TO PAY
ANOTHER ELECTRIC BILL IN YOUR LIFE?

TWO EVENTS HAVE OCCURRED THAT COULD SAVE YOU A LOT
OF MONEY ON YOUR ELECTRIC BILLS AND INCREASE THE
PROPERTY VALUE OF YOUR HOME.

*1* THE INVENTION OF A REMARKABLE 30KW PERMANENT MAGNET GENERATOR! This generator will use extremely strong rare earth magnets. It will have zero emissions and will need no outside energy source. Finally, after over one hundred years, there is a major design improvement in generators in progress.

*2* GOVERNMENT DEREGULATION OF THE ELECTRIC SYSTEM !

THE 21st CENTURY TECHNOLOGY IS TRULY ABOUT TO ARRIVE!!!!

Announcing a bold new program that might provide permanent Free Electricity for Homeowners !

Economic windfall!

Energy Independence!

Zero Emissions!

End of Wars over Oil!

The PLAN

ITEC* is planning to install and maintain our 30 kW system, free, in your home. You receive 3 kW free - more than enough to make most homes all-electric. (Probably twice what you are now using) At a typical rate of ten cents/kWh that energy allotment is worth $2,600.00 per year! We earn income by selling the surplus of 27kw to the local utility at wholesale rates. (SEE, THIS ISN'T A FREE GIVEAWAY. WE INTEND TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF EACH OF THESE GENERATORS, JUST NOT OFF OF YOU, THE HOMEOWNER!)

To See The Proposed Generator Without Its Cover Simply View The Attached Image!

Double Dependability!

Should our system ever fail it will automatically switch you back to the local utility and UCSA* will repair the unit. If the local utility should fail, our system could continue to provide you power!

How your support can make a difference!

We plan to first establish a list of 1.6 million homes to support this project by registering homeowners across America and Canada.

We need to finish our data base of registered homeowners very rapidly and you can help by letting all your friends anywhere in the country know about this offer! Pre-registered homeowners will have their generator installed free. After the first installation it will cost at least $1,000.00 to get into the program!!

Why haven't I heard of this before?

Dennis Lee, the founder of BWT has come up with a plan that almost guarantee's that every man, woman, and child in the United States and Canada will be talking about nothing but BWT and the enormous break through that this company has achieved. The company that you have not heard about before now, will be known by everyone in the United States and Canada, overnight.

First we sign up 1.6 million users for the program. Once this is accomplished then we quietly install 100-400 units around the country. All the people that are registered will be invited to see the unit that is located close to them for the public unveiling of the units. This will be on a given day and time for all units across the country. All units will be turned on at the same time around the country with the local media being in attendance along with all the registrants.

At the unveiling and the public announcement, it will be announced that there is to be a total of 16 million units installed nation wide.

Anybody registered prior to that date will have their system installed at no further expense to them, on a first come, first served basis.

Anybody that had not signed up by then will have to send in $1,000.00 with their registration form. We are fully aware that with the price of electric power being what it is today people will be glad to pay the $1,000.00 in order to never have to pay an electric bill again!

Meanwhile the urgency for a new-energy breakthrough is increasing daily because of a growing shortage of electric generating capacity, rising fuel prices and the need for national energy independence. Not to mention the environmental danger posed by the greenhouse effect!

Advanced Technology

BWT* is developing a revolutionary, permanent magnet based, self-generating, electric power system that is quiet, compact, safe and non-polluting.

The Company

The company is really four companies working together in joint venture.

Better World Technologies, (BWT) and International Tesla Electric Company (ITEC) are the two companies in charge of the development and testing of products.

United Community Services of America, (UCSA), in Butler, NJ is an established, national, dealer network that markets a wide range of environmentally safe products for home, business, and industry. Your local dealer is Free-electric.

How you get involved is simple. You pay $19.95 for a video tape from your dealer that describes the company and the technology in great detail. After you watch the video you fill out and return the registration form, that comes with each tape. Then send the signed registration back!

Please, be very careful when filling out the form and fill it in completely.

Many of our personal friends have told us that "gee...... folks that don't know you may think you are out to get $19.95 off of them for nothing".

THIS IS OUR GUARANTEE!

If, within 20 days of our mailing (postmark) your Package, for what ever reason, you decide not to sign up for the free electricity you simply send the materials back to us in good condition and we will have a credit issued to your credit card.

To get your Video and your sign-up form have your credit card handy and CALL 1-888-394-6467

Sorry U.S. and Canada ONLY

Think of all of the money that this $19.95 will save you in future electric bills. And you have our money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied, you simply return the materials to us in good condition and we will credit your credit card for $19.95.

You will be out ONLY return postage.

UPDATE: 2/3 OF THE AVAILABLE REGISTRATIONS FOR THIS OFFER HAVE BEEN SPOKEN FOR. THIS OFFER WILL END SOON!!!!!

So once you receive your package, in your frenzy to sign up, don't forget to let your family and friends know about it!

Frequently asked Questions

OK, I understand that the video tape costs $19.95, but what will the total cost be to me, by the time the generator is hooked up?

You are right, we are charging you $19.95 for the video, including shipping and handling. We will be registering your home for this special offer at this time, absolutely free of cost. You will have no further expenses. You are trading access to the grid at your home, for up to 26,000 KW of electricity per year at no cost. ITEC will own, install, maintain, and repair the equipment at their expense. The Company would make money on selling the excess power back to the homeowner's electric power provider. This special offer will end soon and then it will cost a minimum of $1000.00 to get involved after the technology is publicly demonstrated.

Just give me the facts. What do I need to know?

Should our proposed system ever fail it will automatically switch you back to the local utility and ITEC will repair the unit at no cost to you.

If the local utility should fail, our system could continue to provide power!

The generator would be owned by ITEC and costs the home owner nothing.

The company would do the installation without any costs to the homeowner.

The unit may be placed in your basement, garage, or outside your home.

The unit will be approx. the size of a window air conditioner and will weigh about 300 pounds.

The unit will be very, very, quiet.

The generator would be self-contained and does not require any outside energy source.

Why are you doing this over the internet?

If you look at the numbers. It is faster, it is cheaper, and we can reach more of the geographic areas of the country than by any other media!

Where can I see one of these units?

The basic component technology was demonstrated around the country at scientific forums where scientists were invited to and did test it for its viability. The tape that comes with the package describes machine and shows the basic technology in considerable detail and how it works.

Can I have more than one of these units?

The units are designed to be installed as a single unit at a single family residence. So, if you own more than one residence that has electricity running to it, sure. You can have one at each residence.

I own a hunting cabin and would like to have one of these units put there so that I can have electricity. Can I get one of your units?

No, sorry but the units are available only where there is electricity available via the conventional "grid". The units are way too large for a single household. Besides, we must be able to sell the excess power in order to make money. (So, unless you want to pay for a lot of extra power, you couldn't afford it.)

When the power "grid" goes out, what happens to me?

Your unit is self supporting and you will continue to have power, even while others in your neighborhood are out of power.

If I move can I take the unit with me?

No, sorry. Once the unit is installed it will remain an integral part of the property. Of course the value of your property will go up since the new owners won't have to pay for electric. You may be allowed to take it if you pay all costs to do so.

When will I get my package after I order?

You will receive the package in 4 to 6 weeks, but depending on the amount of orders you may receive it in a week or two.

New Evaluation Paper on Sasquatch Footprints

From: Terry W. Colvin

I have written a paper on Sasquatch footprints titled: "Evaluation of 11 Alleged Sasquatch Tracks"

You can view the paper here:

http://www.cryptozoology.com/SasquatchFootprintEvaluation.pdf

I have also uploaded the .pdf document to the files section of this yahoogroup. Enjoy!

Zack

Moon rocks

From: Terry W. Colvin

http://www.guardian.co.uk/spacedocumentary/story/0,2763,516753,00.html

On the rocks

In a recent survey, 25% of Americans said they believed that humans have yet to walk upon the moon. Why do so many people believe such a notion and is there any hard evidence to convince them otherwise? Surprisingly, there is.

Special report: space exploration

Dr Matthew Genge
Thursday July 5, 2001
The Guardian

It was the 1957, Elvis had released Jailhouse Rock, Alec Guiness appeared on the silver screen in a film about a bridge and the USSR had just shocked the world by launching the first satellite Sputnik. With its eerie beeping, Sputnik announced the arrival of the space age and turned the cold war from a brooding silent conflict into a race to reach the Moon. The winner would prove not only their technological superiority but also demonstrate the essential virtue of their basic ideology. However, even with such high stakes would any nation dare go as far as faking landings on the Moon? In a recent survey, 25% of Americans said they believed that Nasa did just that and humans had yet to walk upon the surface of our nearest neighbour in space. But why do so many people believe such an absurd notion and is there any real evidence to back it up? Surprisingly there is. Perhaps the most persuasive evidence that the Apollo missions were faked comes from inconsistencies in the photographs and films taken on the Moon.

Shadows in many of the pictures are cast not in straight parallel lines as from the Sun but as if they were from a nearby floodlight. Nasa would say that perspective and an uneven land surface have the same effect but then they would say that wouldn't they? Then there are the crosses that were etched on the lenses of the Apollo cameras. These should always be on top of the objects in the pictures. However, sometimes they're not, suggesting that the images were added later.

Is this evidence that the pictures were faked? Possibly, but it could also be that the bright objects are over-exposed, such as in flash photography, and the crosses have been bleached out. How about the identical hills in photographs taken on supposedly different parts of the Moon? Surely this is evidence that the same set was used to fake the images? The spokesperson for Nasa would no doubt shrug and say that one bit of the Moon looks very much like another and perhaps they'd be right. The list of Apollo inconsistencies goes on and on and it would perhaps be unfair to dismiss the observant souls who have noticed them as crackpots. As with most conspiracy theories, it's just a case of who you want to believe. So is there any irrefutable evidence that the Apollo missions really took place, that the most momentous landmark event in human history actually happened and that we haven't all been taken for one huge PR ride? Luckily the answer is in the rocks. The Apollo missions returned 382 kilograms of rock and there is one thing that is absolutely clear, they are not from Earth. The oldest Apollo rocks, for example, are 4.44bn years old and thus formed some 640m years before the oldest rocks found on Earth. The great age of the lunar rocks is because the Moon, unlike our planet, is geologically dead and thus its rocks have not been disrupted by the churning of its interior and its volcanoes are long ago extinct.

The Apollo rocks also lay testament to a very fiery birth that boiled away most of the Moon's lighter elements. This revelation led directly to the realisation that our Moon formed from the hot debris of a giant impact with the Earth only 50m years after our planet itself formed. There are no rocks on Earth that tell such a story. There would be no way to fake these rocks. Stuffing the right elements into minerals so they appear to be ancient simply can't be done. It's a case of the round hole and the square peg. Only if the peg starts off round and through billions of years of radioactive decay ends up square, by turning itself into another element, can it make it into the mineral. Perhaps then the Apollo samples really aren't Earth rocks at all but some rare meteorite cleverly adopted by Nasa? However, the oxygen they contain is very different from known meteorites (except those from the Moon) and similar to that of the Earth. Only if the Apollo rocks come from an object that formed at a similar distance from the Earth as the early Sun could this be explained. The Moon is, of course, the prime candidate. Conspiracy theories are unfortunately such attractive notions to the human psyche that scientific evidence, however elegant, often fails to impress.

There is, however, one final piece of evidence. Although they never put a cosmonaut on the Moon, the Soviets landed the Luna probes which returned 100 grams of lunar soil. They are identical to the Apollo samples. Case dismissed. Dr Matthew Genge is a meteorite scientist at the Natural History Museum where an Apollo Moon rock can be seen on exhibition.

Hmmm, he does rather open up a gaping flaw in his argument with that last paragraph...

TimC

People Think They Remember

American Psychological Association (APA)
2-Jul-01

PEOPLE MAKE SENSE OUT OF STAND ALONE EFFECTS BY THINKING THEY "REMEMBER" SEEING THEIR PROBABLE CAUSES

The need for a coherent world can cause mistaken memories based on "causal inference" errors, with implications for eyewitness testimony

WASHINGTON -- Memory "illusions" may result from the basic human need to make sense out of events. A series of experiments has provided the first scientific evidence that when people see effects (a student toppling onto the floor) without also seeing its cause (a student leaning back in a chair), they automatically "fill in the blank" with that probable cause -- even if they haven't actually seen it with their own two eyes. The result: a memory that seems real, but isn't. The inference may be correct, but it's not based on actual perception, suggesting that memory helps us to make sense of the world, perhaps at the expense of a complete reliability. The findings are detailed in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association.

Psychologists Sharon L. Hannigan, Ph.D., of Bard College and Mark Tippens Reinitz, Ph.D., of the University of Puget Sound conducted three experiments (with 144 subjects in the first two and 48 in the third) that demonstrated "causal inference errors," which are memory errors that result when people make inferences about the underlying causes of events. Hannigan and Reinitz showed subjects pictures depicting some kind of "effect," such as oranges sprawled on a supermarket floor. They later showed pictures of the most probable cause of that effect, such as someone reaching for an orange from the bottom of a stack, and asked subjects whether they had seen that picture before. A statistically significant number said they did.

So, subjects filled in the gaps of missing scenes by saying they saw pictures they never actually saw -- pictures that might have been expected to have been there in the first place. They inferred correctly, but their underlying memories were illusions. Thus, normal memory can be "tricked" in the way that optical illusions "trick" (or manipulate) normal visual perception. This finding confirms causal-inference error as a new category of inference-based memory error. "It is surprising that just a few minutes after seeing the effect scene, people would reliably claim to have seen the cause scene," Reinitz comments. "After all, we tend to believe that we can accurately remember what we saw just a few minutes ago."

Because memory for pictures tends to be very accurate and robust, the experiments used pictorial stimuli, not the more typically studied text stimuli, as a more rigorous test of the error. What's more, "we put a lot of confidence in things that we have seen with our own eyes," says Reinitz, "so applications to real-world situations are probably more varied and interesting than would be the case if we used text."

Hannigan and Reinitz also found that errors increased with longer retention intervals. This finding has special importance for the courtroom, where cases go to trial many months after events occur -- making eyewitnesses even more prone to inference-based errors than they already are. Causal inferences could also play an important role in relationships, in that people can misremember the causes of others' behavior due to inference-based memory errors.

The researchers emphasize that their findings illuminate normal memory processes that are generally useful and adaptive. "More often than not," Reinitz reiterates, "causal inferences are likely to be correct."

Hannigan and Reinitz also found that these causal-inference errors were common in a backward, not forward direction -- that is, exposure to "effect" slides caused illusory memories of seeing "cause" slides, but exposure to "cause" slides did not cause illusory memories of seeing "effect" slides. In their article, the researchers discuss possible reasons why people didn't "fill in the blanks" when effect was missing, and call for additional research into this potentially significant phenomenon. Reinitz speculates that it may be due to a stronger primal need to ask, "Why?" than to ask "What would happen if.?"

Finally, the experimental results suggest that the underlying memory mechanisms that give rise to causal-inference errors are fundamentally different from those that give rise to schema-based memory errors, further evidence that "memory" is actually a collection of different, independent processes.

Article: "A Demonstration and Comparison of Two Types of Inference-Based Memory Errors," by Sharon L. Hannigan, Ph.D., Bard College and Mark Tippens Reinitz, Ph.D., University of Puget Sound; Journal of Experimental Psychology -- Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 27. No.4.

Mark Tippens Reinitz can be reached by phone at (253) 879-3742 or by electronic mail at mreinitz@ups.edu.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and after July 6 at http://www.apa.org/journals/xlm/xlm274931.html

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 55 divisions of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

Letter Setting the Record Straight on Chiropractic Care

James A. Mertz, DC, DACBR

[MedGenMed, July 3, 2001. Medscape, Inc.]

http://internalmedicine.medscape.com/Medscape/GeneralMedicine/journal/2001/v03.n04/mgm0703.01.mert/mgm0703.01.mert.html

As president of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), I would like to comment on the article about chiropractic care by Dr. Samuel Homola, "Is the Chiropractic Subluxation Theory a Threat to Public Health?" which you published on your Web site, Medscape.com, and the articles published on your affiliate site, CBSHealthWatch.com, "How to Choose and Use a Chiropractor".

[http://cbshealthwatch.medscape.com/cx/viewarticle/403280_print]


Contacting the North Texas Skeptics
The North Texas Skeptics
P. O. Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
214-335-9248 Skeptics Hotline (current information)
E-mail

Current News  News Back Issues


What's New | Search | Newsletter | Fact Sheets
NTS Home Page
Copyright (C) 1987 - 2008 by the North Texas Skeptics.