NTS LogoSkeptical News for 2 August 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Searle's Levity Disk Generator

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com


Electric Spacecraft Journal
Searle's Levity Disk Generator

A co-worker spoke of John Searle's effect generator - brushless armature.


AR4 Top Ten Impossible Inventions That Work


Meteor blamed for 'rainbow rain'

From Ananova at:


Red, yellow, green and black rain which fell in India may have been caused by meteor dust in the atmosphere.

Scientists believe the coloured downpour which lashed the state of Kerala had an extraterrestrial explanation.

Analysis of a rain sample has confirmed the theory and more tests are now being carried out.

The Centre for Earth Science Studies in Thiruvanthapuram reports a burning meteor threw more than 2,000 pounds of fine dust into the atmosphere.

Earlier theories blamed the coloured rain on volcanic ash and Saharan dust brought by the south west monsoon.

The incident has sparked a storm of copycat reports, including one of insects raining from the sky. Hoaxer prompts thousands to seek rare flower From Ananova at:


A 'lucky' rare flower which appeared on a tree in western India has turned out to be a hoax made out of shiny cloth.

Thousands of people flocked to catch a glimpse of the flower in Kolhapur, which blossoms once in 12 years.

There is a very strong local belief that a real flower on the umbar tree brings good fortune to anyone who views it.

Disappointment came after religious leaders inspected the flower and discovered it was merely a piece of shiny white cloth.

Police struggled to manage the angry crowds, reports Loksatta, a Marathi language newspaper.

Officers investigating on the source of the hoax have not made any headway so far.

Science-Fiction/Fantasy Author Poul Anderson Dies

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 1) -- Family members and friends in the San Francisco Bay area are reporting the death Tuesday night of science-fiction/fantasy writer Poul Anderson.

Anderson had been battling prostate cancer, and had just recently begun receiving hospice care at his Bay Area home.

Born in 1926, Anderson's works included "The Broken Sword," "Three Hearts and Three Lions" and its sequel, "A Midsummer Tempest."

Perhaps his most popular fantasy tale, "The King of Ys," was co-authored with his wife. The saga consists of the novels "Roma Mater" (1986), "Gallicenae" (1987), "Dahut" (1988) and "The Dog and the Wolf" (1988). They are based on a legend about the town Ys, and relate the tale of Romans and their fight with the free northern countries during the 5th century.

Other works by Anderson include "The Golden Slave," "The Guardians of Time," "The Dancer from Atlantis," and "The Shield of Time."

Anderson is survived by his wife Karen, and a daughter, Astrid Bear.

Bay Area News Web

Embryonic stem cell research a step nearer in Japan - Ananova Alerting

Japan has approved guidelines for research into embryonic stem cells which can be used to grow human organs and tissues.

The blueprint was agreed by the Expert Panel on Bioethics, under the Cabinet Office's Council for Science and Technology Policy.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is expected to approve it by the end of the month. The step paves the way for the possible launch of research on embryonic cells in Japan by the end of the year.

Osaka University, among other places, has begun preparations to start such research, reports the Japan Times.

According to the guidelines, embryonic cells can only be drawn from in vitro fertilised eggs created for the purpose of fertility treatment that are due to be discarded.

They say fertilised eggs should be free of charge, couples providing the fertilised eggs should give their informed consent, and the donors' privacy should be strictly guarded.

For the time being, only basic research will be approved and adaptation for clinical purposes will be banned, according to the guidelines. Research leading to the production of sperm, ova or foetuses from the stem cells will also be banned.

The guidelines say the science ministry will make any violations public.

See this story on the web at


Neanderthals weren't human, say scientists - Ananova Alerting

New research suggests Ice-age Neanderthals were not our close relatives but a completely different species.

Until now many experts had believed Neanderthals, who co-existed with the ancestors of modern humans 40,000 years ago, were a sub-species of Homo sapiens.

The new research at the University of Zurich is based on an analysis of infant Neanderthal and modern human skulls.

Their skulls were bulkier and had distinctive features including a projecting face, heavy brows and a low forehead.

Now computerised fossil reconstruction has shown these features were established in early infancy, possibly even in the womb, rather than gradually over time.

The scientists write that such differences between Neanderthals and modern humans during early development are consistent with "separation of Neanderthals and modern humans at the species level".

The evidence suggests the ancestors of modern humans emigrated from Africa about 100,000 years ago.

Neanderthals probably lived alongside humans but died out because they were less adaptable to the changing climate.

See this story on the web at


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:


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"


which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines - August 1, 2001

from The Washington Post

The House yesterday passed a sweeping bill that would outlaw the creation of cloned human embryos for any purpose, whether to make cloned babies or to produce potentially therapeutic stem cells. The bill would also prohibit the importation of any medical treatments created abroad from cloned human embryo cells.

Sixty-three Democrats and two independents joined 200 Republicans to pass the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, dealing a preliminary blow to medical researchers and many patient advocates who had supported a more narrowly worded cloning ban. By a vote of 251 to 176, the House rejected an amendment favored by those advocates that sought to ban the creation of cloned babies but would have allowed private companies to create cloned human embryos and develop therapies from their cells.

Stem cells are versatile and show great potential for the treatment of many diseases, but their retrieval requires the destruction of human embryos. Some researchers believe that stem cells from cloned human embryos may be the most useful, because they might not be rejected by a patient's immune system. A U.S. company recently announced it had begun efforts to make cloned human embryos as sources of stem cells, and another has said it hopes to do so before long.


More on House passage of the cloning ban:



from The New York Times

With President Bush continuing to oppose international or domestic restrictions on gases linked to global warming, among the losers are energy companies that favor government action and have already spent millions on voluntary efforts to cut emissions.

Given little credence by the White House despite large expenditures on lobbying and longstanding ties to administration officials, these companies are shifting their focus to Congress, where several bills that would impose emissions restrictions are being debated or prepared.

But in that effort, the companies face formidable opposition from other energy concerns and trade groups that are fighting against any limits.

"There's an enormous amount of lobbying going on," said Rob Long, vice president for government affairs at the National Mining Association. "It's a three-ring circus."


from The Boston Globe

Venture investing in life sciences companies tripled in the second quarter from a year ago, according to an industry study released yesterday, even as venture activity overall declined for the third straight period.

Investments totaled $10.6 billion nationally in the quarter ended June 30, according to Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Associations. That's down 12 percent from the first quarter and represents less than half the $27.2 billion invested in start-ups in the second quarter of 2000.

Internet-related investing, still the largest category for venture capital dollars, declined to 70 percent of all the money invested in the quarter, from 80 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, life sciences - including medical and health companies, as well as biotech start-ups - surged to nearly $1.1 billion, or 13.8 percent of all fundings. The sector garnered 11.2 percent of venture funds in the first quarter and less than 4 percent a year ago.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

A report from the National Academy of Sciences concludes that improving automobile fuel economy is both achievable and desirable, a finding that is expected to carry substantial weight as Congress decides whether to raise federal gas mileage standards.

The panel said in a report released yesterday that any decision to increase fuel economy standards could involve trade-offs such as limiting consumer options and compromising vehicle safety, including the possibility that a reduction in vehicle weights could lead to more traffic fatalities.

But it said any improvements in gas mileage would not necessarily require reduced vehicle size. And if fuel economy improvements were to lead to a narrowing of the weight differential between cars and SUVs, it could improve safety, the panel said.


from Newsday

One of the fundamental rules in MRI centers is to keep all things made of iron - hairpins, watches, pens and oxygen bottles - far, far away; even banned from the MRI suite.

Why? Because the magnetic pull of an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine is so strong that anything iron caught in its grasping field can become a dangerous, even lethal, missile being pulled in.

The danger was made all too real when the Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla, announced Monday that a 6-year-old boy was killed when an oxygen bottle accidentally left in the MRI exam room was yanked forcefully into the machine, striking the boy on the head.


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Asteroid landing movie appears on internet - Ananova Alerting

Images taken by the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid have been turned into an online movie.

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (Near) probe was never designed to land but set down on Eros in February after scientists decided to crash it there.

Now the black-and-white pictures taken during its last minutes have been strung together to make a one-minute film. Nasa's probe filmed the last five miles of its decent.

Imaging team member Mark Robinson produced the movie from the 64 detailed pictures.

Features the size of a golf ball are visible in the final frame, taken 422 feet above Eros.

The project was carried out by Northwestern University in Illinois, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland and Cornell University, New York.

See this story on the web at


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:


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"


which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines - July 31, 2001

from The Christian Science Monitor

The US House of Representatives is expected today to take the first step toward a ban on human cloning, action that has garnered public and scientific support worldwide. Many nations already have bans in place - including Britain, France, and Germany. Russia approved a five-year moratorium last Friday.

But the House may pass legislation that goes beyond a ban on reproductive cloning to also make it a crime to clone human embryos for research purposes.

This would be an unprecedented federal action in restricting biomedical research in this country, and the debate in both the House and Senate will be over whether the situation justifies such a bold step.

Scientists, the biotech industry, and some patient advocacy groups say "absolutely not." Such restrictions, they say, would only cut off promising avenues of research with potential to benefit millions.


from Newsday

DISCOVERY of a massive new field of "cool" geysers on the Atlantic seafloor may force a reassessment of the whole ocean's chemistry and how life itself arose and evolved on Earth, scientists report.

The discovery, announced July 12 in the journal Nature, shows once again that the huge part of the planet hidden underwater still holds major surprises just waiting to be uncovered.

The strange new geyser field - one of the few known to be spewing less-than-boiling-hot mineral- rich water up through the seafloor - is huge, active and probably the first of many yet to be seen.

If a lot of these relatively cool vent fields do exist, then researchers must rethink their pet ideas about the ocean's chemistry. In addition to the salts and other chemicals known to pour into the oceans from land, water gurgling through underground cracks is extracting huge amounts of material from subsea rocks. Until now, these substances have generally not been included as scientists try to balance the oceans' chemical equation.


from Newsday

SCIENTISTS HAVE discovered a gene for a rare movement disorder that can rob children of their adulthood. The finding offers the first hope for a treatment.

"We went from knowing nothing about this disease to having a gene, a disease process and a possible treatment," said Dr. Susan Hayflick, associate professor in the department of molecular and medical genetics at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. She and her colleagues have spent years searching chromosomes for a likely cause of Hallervorden-Spatz disease.

They hit paydirt in May, and the results will be published in the next month's issue of Nature Genetics.

The disease is named for the two German doctors who described the devastating movement problems that begin in childhood and grow progressively worse, including affecting speech and vision. Children born with Hallervorden- Spatz usually live into their teens or early 20s. People can have a milder form of this illness, developing the disease in their teens or early adulthood and living into middle age.


from The New York Times

In the steamy Indonesian darkness, a Sumatran rhinoceros slops through a swamp. Click.

High on an icy ledge in the Himalayas, a snow leopard sniffs a scent mark on a rock. Click.

In hills near San Diego, a mountain lion lopes along a trail. Click.

From the depths of South Asian rain forests to the shrinking patches of wilderness tucked in California's megalopolises, automated cameras have become a preferred tool of conservation biologists trying to study rare and reclusive animal species.


from The New York Times

Three months after the announcement of its discovery in Central Asia, a tiny stone object inscribed with symbols thought to be the writing of an obscure desert culture from 4,000 years ago is more of an enigma than ever.

If this is indeed an early form of writing, as its discoverer has suggested, it is strong evidence for a previously unknown civilization that began about 2300 B.C. across much of modern Turkmenistan and parts of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

But some scholars challenge this theory, arguing that the signs are not true writing based on a spoken language. And, they say, one sample with three or four characters on a thumbnail-size stone is hardly sufficient to establish the existence of a writing system. On that, the discoverer, Dr. Fredrik T. Hiebert of the University of Pennsylvania, agrees.


from The Boston Globe

Boys get turned on by computer games and a chance to bond with Dad. Girls get turned off by obsessive behavior and video gun battles.

By the time they get to college, young men see a future for themselves in computer science. Young women don't.

Concerned and embarrassed that women account for only 15 to 20 percent of their computer science majors, a number of top colleges are looking for ways to attract more women to careers in computers. They are adding courses that appeal to women's strengths, creating mentoring programs and thinking harder about the gender gap.

''I worry that some remnants of discrimination exist in the entire educational system, that women are not given the same opportunities,'' said Eric Roberts, head of the computer science department at Stanford University in California.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

The world's first tomato grown in salty irrigation water will be revealed today by researchers at the University of California at Davis.

It was genetically engineered by inserting genes from the thale cress gardenweed, creating what researchers are hailing as the first crop plant able to resist salty soils and water.

The borrowed gene allows the tomato to send the sodium to the leaves and store it away from the fruit. Even after being watered with a salty solution that would kill other tomatoes, the hybrid could grow, flower and produce fruit, the researchers claim.

The discovery holds the promise of solving agriculture's -- and thus California's -- biggest problem: what to do with the millions of acres of salty farmland that have been ruined by brackish irrigation water. Irrigation, especially in dry areas, leaves salt deposits behind that make crop land increasingly less productive.


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Sigma Xi Homepage

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Originally from: Jan Sundberg wizard@bahnhof.se

Dear Friends:


This has been a year with many expeditions. In April-May we searched Loch Ness during our Operation Cleansweep but came out with a quite meagre result. Exactly what we found will be shown on a 50 minute long documentary produced by The Learning Channel and shown in North-America in September.

In June we searched Lough Ree on Ireland which was the most successful expedition so far this year. We´re pretty convinced that the "lake monster" is a giant lamprey and we will go back there with a full scale expedition next Summer.

In July we made a reconnaissance expedition to Lake Storsjon, Central Sweden, where we also were successful and made some important and interesting new discoveries.

In the beginning of August I´m off to Central Sweden again, to search for possible sounds in another of Sweden´s 23 "monster lakes".

In mid-August the whole team are off to Lake Seljordsvatnet, Norway, for the fourth time.


To the impatient I want to say this: I´m only one man and can only update so often and so much and if I update too often, people leave us! To the patient I want to say this: Thank you VERY MUCH for praising the site and telling me I´m doing a good job.


It´s taken some time but here is finally our Lough Ree Picture Library with pictures from Operation Horseel last June: www.cryptozoology.st Lake Storsjon Picture Library will follow before I go to Norway and in September there will also be a Lake Seljordsvatnet Picture Library. I also bought myself a DV camera recently, so you can expect some short but good footages later in the Autumn.

I hope you all had a warm and nice summer and are as ready as I am to get back to work.

Best Regards, Jan

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Diamond Geezer

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

Recommended summer vacation reading: Snake Oil and Other Preoccupations
by John Diamond.


For non-Ukanians, Diamond was a columnist and writer, married to the TV chef and author Nigella Lawson. He contracted cancer of the mouth and oesophagus and underwent several years of painful treatment, which left him unable to speak or take in food through his mouth. Despite all these measures, his condition deteriorated and he died earlier this year.

Through the period of his illness Diamond kept the world up to date through his newspaper column, bulletins from the front line of his ultimately losing battle. There are intelligent and humorous and moving. Diamond lacked self-pity but maintained a keen brain. In particular, he was firm in his rejection of the various kinds of 'alternative' remedy offered to him. As the Amazon review says:

"In the book Diamond sets out to prove that the protagonists of alternativism are, at best, gullible and misguided, at worst, con-merchants and quacks. The uncompleted book ends with the words: "Let me explain." Unfortunately, he wasn't given the chance. The remainder of the book is made up from a selection of Diamond's articles and columns, which, edited by brother-in-law Dominic Lawson, were chosen on "the basis of his humour rather than his tumour". As a freelancer, Diamond wrote about anything for anyone. Consequently, the "preoccupations" cover every subject under the sun, including soggy bread, middle age , donor cards, first dates and bottled water: " ... the perfect accompaniment to good food and fine wines, it can even be served as a refreshing drink in its own right". But, post diagnosis, it's Diamond's columns for The Times which hit home hardest. As his condition progresses, Diamond remains stoically reflective without ever sounding resentful; always moving, but never maudlin, his insouciant prose conveys a humbling bravery."

What makes this book special, perhaps, is that it provides an answer to a key question here. Many people say: what is wrong with trying alternative therapies? If you have tried everything else, you have nothing left to lose? Well, Diamond HAD tried everything else, and had a lot to lose by not trying - his life, a beautiful and dynamic wife, children, career, friends etc - but he makes it clear that there is something else that can be lost here. One's dignity and self-respect and intelligence. It is this that he refuses to sacrifice in the face of the blandishments of a whole variety of people who offer him these so-called 'cures'.

A very good book. It's not listed on the US Amazon site yet (though that site lists a bunch of pro alt-med books by some other bloke called John Diamond!) but is reviewed on the www.Amazon.co.uk site.

Articles of Note & Pyramid Conference

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

Bible gains ground at BOE
By Crystal Kua Honolulu Star-Bulletin

A state Board of Education committee yesterday opened the door to the teaching of creationism -- the biblical version of the origin of mankind -- as an alternative to the theory of evolution currently taught in public school science classes.


Educators: Creation theory not scientific Creationism can be taught, but not in science class, teachers and scientists say

By Crystal Kua

Learning about the Bible's version of how humans and other living things were created does have a place in the public schools, but not in science class, scientists and others say.

"Creationism is not testable. You can't prove or disprove God," said Khalil J. Spencer, a specialist with the University of Hawaii Department of Geology and Geophysics. "I think there's room for it in other parts of the classroom."


Tuesday July 31
Two Die as 'Ghost' Sparks Stampede


JAKARTA (Reuters) - Two teenage Indonesian girls were crushed to death in a stampede at a Muslim boarding school after hearing what they believed was a ghost, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Slow Start Of Something Big
By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post
Note the "Fox News Channeling" towards the end of his piece.

From the moment Chandra Levy was linked to Gary Condit, lots of news organizations hit the journalistic accelerator.


Probing the shroud's mysteries
By Deena Winter
Denver Post


"John Jackson is looking for a 5-foot-10, 175-pound male volunteer who is willing to be crucified. Yes, crucified. As in, hung on a cross, Jesus-style, sans nails. Jackson takes his research very seriously, but not quite seriously enough to pound nails into a stranger's palms."

Earthly Explanations
By Willow Lawson
ABC News


"Was it a bird, a plane or just a streetlight reflecting off a roof?"

Ask Yahoo!


"Why do lemmings commit group suicide?"

Boating deaths blamed on veteran skippers
by Julie Smyth
National Post


"A Canadian professor has identified a phenomenon causing countless boating deaths and accidents: Experienced Skipper Syndrome."

A serious, insider's look at the world of tabloids
by Harold Fiske
National Post


"Bill Sloan, a Texas-based writer, was basically out of the tabloid newspaper business (at least as a full-time employee) by 1975, but over the past quarter-century, he's kept in close touch with its major players and frequently written for major supermarket papers."

Massacre by the jungle witch-hunters
By Adrian Blomfield
The Telegraph


"NIDIRU ADIRU will never forget the day the witch-hunters came to her village, where she was the wife of the local chief."

Teenager Kills 48 for Rituals?


"A teenage girl in Nigeria has confessed to taking part in the ritual killing of 48 people in the last seven years, media reported on Thursday."

Trio Charged with Lottery Murder


"Malaysia has charged three men with the bizarre 1999 murder of an American woman who was apparently slain in a ritual to glean winning lottery numbers."

The Sky Really Is Falling
By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post


"Repent! Repent! The end is near."

Harold P. Klein, 80, helped pioneer NASA's searches for life in space

San Jose Mercury News


"Harold P. ``Chuck'' Klein, a pioneer in the investigation of life on other worlds, died July 15 at his Palo Alto home from complications of cancer. He was 80."

Below the Beltway
By Gene Weingarten
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 29, 2001

If you're like me, you suffer the occasional absent-minded moment: misplacing your keys, losing your train of thought, arriving at work without pants, etc. That is why I snapped to attention the instant I heard the ad on the radio for a food supplement called Focus Factor:


Here's an interesting debate, which skeptics may wish to attend (in particular to support CSICOP Fellow and Presenter: Dr. Ed C. Krupp, Topic: Pyramid Schemes)


Mexican Sightings Continue at Volcano

From: Terry W. Colvin

Troy Allen called on July 30, 2001, to report he is monitoring the Popocatpétl Volcano video camera site near Mexico City on an almost daily basis. The volcano's observation camera is showing many UFOs often in a triangle formation. Over seventy images of the UFOs have been seen in recent weeks. Three dark UFOs can be seen flying around the area often in a triangle shape. UFO s have had an interest in the volcano since the December 21, 1994, eruption, ending decades of slumber. It is recommended not to approach the volcano to less than 12 km from the crater, although the way between Santiago Xalitzintla and San Pedro Nexapa, including Paso de Cortés, is open for controlled circulation. RI MUFON's Janet Bucci indicates she saw UFOs at the site on July 3, 2001. Small elliptical colored light that changes color (green, blue, pink, purple, yellow) that is more or less stationary and a larger roundish or flattened whitish light that moves from snapshot to snapshot. There a! re often at least three UFOs in the photos at:




Thanks to Troy Allen


Filer's Files #31 -- 2000, MUFON Skywatch Investigations
George A. Filer, Director, Mutual UFO Network Eastern
July 29, 2001, Sponsored by Electronic Arts, Majorstar@aol.com.
Webmaster Chuck Warren http://www.filersfiles.com

BOOK: The Challenge of Contact

From:Christen Warwick christenw27@cybertrails.com

This is the second book by formerly skeptical, veteran newsman Phillip H. Krapf about his contacts with extraterrestrials. These were physical contacts which occurred while he was fully conscious and awake. (Boy, was HE surprised to find out that ETs really exist!)

Excerpt from the website:


"The Challenge of Contact is Krapf's continuing story of the secret deliberations between a race of alien observers called the Verdants, and some 850 world leaders known as "ambassadors" -- an interplanetary liaison that will soon lead to a formal and public announcement of contact. This book chronicles the dramatic events of Krapf's second period of sojourn on the Verdant craft which occurred in 2000. . . ."

"This eagerly-awaited second book explains the predicament faced by the human/Verdant team that is planning imminent contact, picking up the thread of what may be the most important story Mr. Krapf, or any other journalist, has ever reported."

Here's an interesting endorsement from the website:
"I ask that people regard the revelations in Phillip Krapf's book with the same attention they directed to the Pentagon Papers in 1971."
--Daniel Sheehan, Chief counsel for civil litigation in the Iran-Contra affair and Chief counsel, Karen Silkwood case

Former Call-Taker Claims Miss Cleo Is Acting


Woman Says She Followed Script, Gathered Caller Info

SAN ANTONIO, 6:56 p.m. CDT July 31, 2001 -- A San Antonio woman, who worked for nationally known telephone psychic Miss Cleo, claims that she can prove the clairvoyant is a fraud.

A woman, who asked not to be identified, told KSAT 12 News that Miss Cleo is just an actress. "They told me she was," the woman said. "She's just an actress. She doesn't even read cards. 16153 is her extension, if you call. You won't get through to her. You'll get another reader."

The anonymous woman said that she quit working as a call-taker for the company Access Resource Services that represents Miss Cleo. She said that she was given scripts of how to convince people to stay on the phone past their three free minutes.

She claims that she was required to collect as much information as possible about a customer. The information she gathered was later used to harass callers until they called Miss Cleo again, she said.

"We'd get a bonus for every piece of information they'd get, and by the time we got all this information out of them, the three minutes was up, and then you'd go on to your reading," the woman said.

Watch KSAT 12 News Nightbeat as reporter Mark Austin tracks down the company handling calls for Miss Cleo's psychic hotline.

Excuse me. This is news?

Consumers File Complaints Against Psychic Hotline

SAN ANTONIO, 7:55 a.m. CDT July 31, 2001 -- Miss Cleo says, "The cards never lie," but what about phone bill?


Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Quackwatch operator's lawsuit dismissed; ruled SLAPP

From: Beth Wolszon


Eletronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

Court Rules That Internet Re-Posting Is Protected Speech Dismisses Defamation Suit Against Breast Implant Activist as Meritless
For Immediate Release: July 30, 2001

Oakland, CA - In a trail-blazing 27-page order, Alameda Superior Court Judge James A. Richman dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against a breast implant awareness activist, finding that it was a meritless SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). The court held that a 1996 federal law protects individuals from civil liability for posting to an Internet newsgroup a statement created by another.

Ilena Rosenthal, Director of the Humantics Foundation in San Diego, was sued for defamation based on her postings on Internet newsgroups. On July 25, 2001, Judge Richman granted Rosenthal's motion to dismiss the complaint against her as a meritless SLAPP. Two self-proclaimed "Quackbusters," Stephen Barrett, M.D., of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Terry Polevoy, M.D., of Canada, joined by their attorney and co-plaintiff, Christopher Grell, of Oakland, California, filed suit against the activist. Judge Richman found that none of the plaintiffs had valid claims against Rosenthal. He ruled that Rosenthal's statements calling Barrett and Polevoy "quacks," and Barrett "arrogant" and a "bully" who tried to "extort" her, were not actionable because "they do not contain provably false assertions of fact, but rather are expressions of subjective judgment."

Judge Richman further found that only one statement by Rosenthal was arguably defamatory -- a document written by someone else which Rosenthal re-posted to an Internet newsgroup. Judge Richman held that this statement by Rosenthal was protected under section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA), a law Congress enacted in 1996 expressly "to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services," which Congress declared should be "unfettered by Federal or State regulation."

Judge Richman held that section 230 of the CDA "provides immunity to users, as well as providers, of interactive computer services." He found that Rosenthal, "as a user of an interactive computer service, that is, a newsgroup, . . . is not the publisher or speaker" of statements made by a third person. Thus, Judge Richman concluded, "she cannot be civilly liable for posting it on the Internet. She is immune."

Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the leading Internet civil liberties organization, said "in enacting section 230, Congress tried to protect free speech on the Internet from chilling threats of costly litigation. This decision will help achieve that goal and marks a solid victory for free expression. Internet speech would be stifled if individuals could be found liable for the defamatory statements of others."

Mark Goldowitz, counsel for defendant Rosenthal and the Director of the California Anti-SLAPP Project, said, "Judge Richman's opinion is significant. To my knowledge, this is the first court to rule that Internet re-posting is immune from civil liability under federal law. This ruling greatly advances freedom of speech on the Internet. Also, it is very rare for a trial court judge to issue anything even close to a 27-page order."

Ilena Rosenthal, one of several defendants named in this high-profile Internet libel case, heads an international support group for women harmed by breast implants. Rosenthal believes that this suit, one of several the so-called "Quackbusters" have filed against critics of their tactics, has been used to intimidate and threaten others into silence for fear of being named as a "Doe" in this lawsuit. "They are a dominant threat to alternative and complementary medical practices and practitioners," Rosenthal said. "Their campaigns obstruct health freedom and attempt to chill the voices of their critics and opponents."

For a copy of Judge Richman's 27-page opinion in Barrett v. Clark: http://www.healthfreedomlaw.com/Court%20Documents/Rosenthal%20SLAPP/Rosenthal%20Ruling.htm

(For discussion of section 230 of the CDA, see pages 17-20.)

For a copy of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. Sec. 230:


For a copy of memoranda filed in support of Rosenthal's special motion to strike:


About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information society. EFF is a member supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:


About CASP:

The California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP) is a public interest organization dedicated to the eradication of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) in California. Founded in 1991, CASP has led a broad coalition for anti-SLAPP legislation, which resulted in enactment of California's pioneering legislation to protect against SLAPPs in 1992, and amendments to strengthen the law's protections in 1997 and 1999. CASP monitors implementation of the anti-SLAPP law and assists SLAPP targets and their attorneys with use of the law. For more information about CASP and SLAPPs:


About defendant Ilena Rosenthal:

For more information about defendant Ilena Rosenthal and her work on breast implant awareness, email her at ilena2000@hotmail.com. See also:

Breast Implants: The Myths, The Facts, The Women, by Ilena Rosenthal (information booklet)


Article on saline implants in Glamour Magazine, Nov. 2000:


"Breast Implants, America's Silent Epidemic," in Total Health Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 2000)


Note: EFF has no official position on breast implants or possible health risks thereof. Our interest in this case is the First Amendment issues raised. Press inquiries relating to Ms. Rosenthal's work should be directed to the Humantics Foundation, at 858/270-0680.


And, since EFF didn't deign to list it, Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch website:


Beth Wolszon

You don't hear about 'alternative', 'holistic' muffler repair or 'alternative' civil engineers building 'holistic' bridges, so why do we accept these ridiculous non-standard approaches instead of solid science in medicine?
-- Dr. Dean Edell (6/28/96)

She's not there

From: Beth Wolszon Last Friday Howard Stern (notorious radio shock jock here in the U.S.) had a psychic on his show who claimed to be 'channeling' the allegedly deceased Chandra Levy. She told Howard and his listeners where Chandra's body would be located, and specified that 'evidence' proving her claim would be found at the site. So, yesterday Howard sent Cabbie (one of his people) to the site to dig up Chandra while the psychic was on the air via phone link with Howard and Cabbie.

Cabbie, acting on the psychic's directions, went to a river where Chandra was supposedly 'buried' underneath the water. Not having heavy equipment to dredge the whole river bottom, he dug for awhile along the riverbank and announced: sorry, no Chandra. No evidence of Chandra, either.

The psychic then claimed that the alleged persons who allegedly bumped off Chandra heard her announce all this on Friday's show, whereupon they removed the evidence over the weekend so Cabbie wouldn't find it. She berated Howard for not spending the money to get the right equipment to do the job properly. Howard was annoyed at her for wasting what money they'd spent sending Cabbie out to dig, without the psychic even bothering to plant some evidence there for Cabbie to dig up. He told the psychic's husband that she obviously didn't know how to 'play the game'. The psychic hung up on Howard.

Cabbie offered to take the psychic on a trip into the woods and lose her there, saying her psychic powers should tell her how to find her way home.

If this didn't leave a bad taste in listeners' minds about psychics, I really don't know what would.

Beth Wolszon

Two Die as 'Ghost' Sparks Stampede


JAKARTA (Reuters) - Two teenage Indonesian girls were crushed to death in a stampede at a Muslim boarding school after hearing what they believed was a ghost, local media reported on Tuesday.

About 100 girls at the school in the East Java town of Gresik were reciting the holy Koran late on Sunday when a woman's ghostly wail ripped through their second-story classroom, the detik.com news portal reported.

``The loud voice was heard from every direction,'' one girl was quoted saying.

Panicked and scared by what they believed was a ghost, the girls fled down the stairs and some were trampled. Dozens were seriously hurt, detik.com said.

Asked about the ghost, local police chief H. Gufron said: ''How can we prove something which we can't see?''

The report did not say if any of the girls actually saw a ghost.

Massimo Polidoro: Skeptic Across America

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

Fairfield, CT; Albany, NY; Amherst, NY; Cleveland, OH; Lexington, KY; Springfield, IL; Des Moines, IA; and Portland, OR

From CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer (http://www.csicop.org)

We are pleased to announce the North American tour of Massimo Polidoro, one of today's leading skeptics on the paranormal and fringe sciences and co-founder and Executive Director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Below is a brief biography and a list of dates and cities where he will be speaking.

During the last thirteen years, Massimo Polidoro has investigated dozens of cases of supposed paranormal events. His work follows two main lines. One is historical investigations that have helped bring new light on famous cases like: The Feilding Report on Eusapia Palladino; Franek Kluski's Spirit Moulds; Alla Vinogradova's PK demonstrations; Uri Geller's Watch Test...and many others. The results of this kind of work have been published in both The Skeptical Inquirer and the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

The other one is the testing of psychics, often conducted along with his colleague Dr. Luigi Garlaschelli, at Pavia's University. Clairvoyants, mediums, human magnets, girls with X-ray eyes, table-tippers, prophets, healers and many other claimants have been tested under test conditions. Although the results do not furnish proof of real paranormal activities, they tell a fascinating story about the will to believe. During the lecture, Massimo makes ample use of video material and, especially, live demonstrations of psychic trickery.

Fairfield, CT
Saturday, August 4th at 1:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Fairfield Public Library, 1080 Old Post Road, Fairfield, CT (203) 256-3155. For more information call Jon Blumenfeld at (203) 847-9045, E-mail jon@blumenfeld.com. hosted by New England Skeptical Society http://www.theness.com/

Guilderland, NY (Albany, New York Area)
Monday, August 6th at 7:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Avenue, Guilderland, NY. Doors open at 6:00 pm-Event starts at 7 pm. For more information call Mike Sofka at (518) 437-1547, E-mail sofkam@rpi.edu. hosted by The Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York (ISUNY) http://www.rpi.edu/~sofkam/ISUNY/

Amherst, NY (Buffalo, NY area)
Tuesday, August 7th at 7:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, NY 14226. For more information contact Barry Karr at (716) 636-1425, ext. 217 or skeptinq@aol.com.

Bereau, OH (Cleveland area)
Wednesday, August 8th at 7:30 pm in Room 18 of the Life and Earth Science Building at Baldwin-Wallace College. The parking lot is located on Front Street just north of Bagley Road in Bereau, Ohio. Both the talk and the parking are free. For more information contact Steven Hilliard sdhilliard@mediaone.net (440) 933-8902. hosted by the South Shore Skeptics

Lexington, KY
Thursday, August 9th from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Barnes & Noble Hamburg Place, 1932 Pavillion Way, Lexington, Kentucky. Group Talk-Thursday, August 9th from 8:30 pm-10:00 pm. Ryan's Family Steakhouse, 701 Red Mile Rd., Lexington, Kentucky. For more information contact Fred Bach fwbach@visto.com (859) 539-2111 or (859) 543-2503. Back-Up: Bob Baker (859) 272-2561 hosted by the Kentucky Assn. of Science Educators and Skeptics (KASES)

Springfield, IL
Saturday, August 11th at 1:30 pm at the Lincoln Library's Carnegie North Room. The Lincoln Library is at the corner of 7th and Capitol. For more information contact David Bloomberg davidbloomberg@hotmail (217) 726-5354 hosted by Rational Examination Assoc. of Lincoln Land (REALL), http://www.reall.org.

Des Moines, IA August 13th, 2001
Current Schedule for Massimo's appearances:

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Des Moines Central Library
Discussing Book "Final Seance"

1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
West Des Moines Library
Discussing Book "Final Seance"

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Room 1414 in ISU's Molecular Biology Building

7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Franklin Library in Des Moines
Discussing Book "Final Seance"
hosted by the Central Iowa Skeptics http://www.dangerousideas.net/

Tigard, OR (Portland Area)
Town Hall Room, Tigard City Hall, 13125 SW Hall Blvd., Tigard, Oregon, August 15, 7:00 pm. For more information contact Jeanine Denoma wilkinsa@peak.org (503) 838-8859 or hosted by the Oregonians for Rationality (O4R),

Hawaiian Creationism

From: Ron Ebert

This is like a kiddie toy, you hit one peg with a hammer and another pops up elsewhere


Here are some letters to the editor:
Here is a short quote from one:

"The Board of Education and the Star-Bulletin are no doubt being inundated by the outraged cries of people for whom Darwinism is a sacred faith. I urge the BOE to distinguish "creationism" from an unrelated movement called "intelligent design."

About as unrelated as twins. ;)

Higher than a kite

From: Dave Palmer

Well, who woulda thought that the term "pyramidiots" was trademarked? And by people using it on themselves, to boot?

The kite-obelisk project is headed by Maureen Clemmons, a "hair-care entrepreneur and management consultant" who fancies herself an Egyptologist, and she's managed to suck in a few Caltech aeronautical engineers who apparently know more about aeronautics than history.

The group allegedly HAS moved some heavy rocks using their method, but note from the pictures on their site that they're using not a kite, but what appears to be a modern parafoil, and that it's made out of nylon, a material many times lighter and stronger than anything the Egyptians had.

A Daily News article on the project:


The group's webpage:


There's more than enough shoddy reporting to go around here.

From the Daily News article:

Scholars generally agree that the pharaohs' hulking temples, obelisks and more than 70 pyramids -- the largest holding 2,500 stones of 2 1/2 tons each -- were built on the backs of slaves using ramps and levers.
No scholars I know, except maybe the producers of "The Ten Commandments." It's extremely well-documented that the Egyptian monuments were built by very well-paid laborers, not slaves.

The depth of Clemmons' understanding about anything other than shampoo is demonstrated by this inane bit:

These guys are pulling these ropes, trying to get this thing upright. It's swelteringly hot, and I remembered my history clear back to the eighth grade that the Egyptians drank beer breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Clemmons, who laughs with raucous gusto.

"There's no way to move rocks when you're drinking that much beer," she said. "Then I heard about the 1,000 winds of Egypt, and it hit me: They used the wind to move the blocks."

`Space bugs' found by scientists - Ananova Alerting

Scientists believe they have caught living extraterrestrial bugs on the edge of the atmosphere.

If it is confirmed, it will be the first unequivocal proof that life exists beyond the Earth.

The microbes, stuck together in clumps, resemble bacteria found on Earth. But the height at which they were found, and their distribution, indicates strongly that they were not swept up in air currents but fell from space, say the scientists.

About of a third of a tonne of the space bugs fall over the entire planet each day, the researchers estimate.

The findings were presented at a meeting of the International Society for Optical Engineering in San Diego, California.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, from Cardiff University, a leading member of the scientific team, said: "There is now unambiguous evidence for the presence of clumps of living cells in air samples from as high as 41 kilometres, well above the local tropopause, above which no air from lower down would normally be transported."

High altitude balloons, launched from a research facility in Hyderabad, India, earlier this year, were used to collect the air samples.

Sophisticated sampling devices were employed which kept the air in highly sterile conditions to avoid any chance of contamination.

See this story on the web at


Winslet prepares to move in with ghost of Tintagel

By Michael Fleet
(Filed: 31/07/2001)


KATE WINSLET, the actress, was warned yesterday that she will be sharing the house on the Cornish coast she has just bought with a ghost who emerges early in the morning.

The 25-year-old star of Titanic paid a reported £380,000 for the house at Tintagel and is spending thousands renovating the property, which has spectacular views over the Atlantic.

But as well as her husband, Jim Threapleton, and daughter, Mia, she apparently will be living with a ghost in what is reputed to be one of the most haunted parts of Britain.

The house is 500 yards from the ruins of Tintagel Castle, said to have been King Arthur's Camelot, and below a hotel that has three ghosts of its own.

She bought the house privately from a local person and is thought not to have known of the ghost.

"The secret is now out but I hope it won't put Kate off," said John Mappin, the joint owner of nearby Camelot Castle Hotel. "I know people who have seen the ghost and he is definitely friendly."

The house used to be the cottage of the hotel's engineer, who died about 70 years ago, and some people believed it was his ghost that inhabited the house now, said Mr Mappin.

"He has been seen walking from the house to the hotel, as if he is going to work. No one has ever been frightened of him and I think he probably adds character to the house."

The hotel itself has three ghosts. One throws paintings from the walls if he dislikes them. Another is a nurse who wakes people as if giving them a bed bath late at night; and the other goes through the hotel's bins. "Rubbish has been seen to leap from the bins," said Mr Mappin.

Winslet, whose main home is at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, has not yet moved furniture into her new property. Builders are expected to begin work soon.

"This house has what I think is just about the best view in all of Britain," said Mr Mappin. "And it is very secluded."

Winslet, who, as a child, appeared in a film called A Kid in King Arthur's Court, already owns a house in west Cornwall, near the village of Angarrack.

"She will love it here and I am sure the ghost won't put her off," said Mr Mappin.

Wanted: Man Willing To Be Crucified


Colorado Physicist Working To Solve Mystery Of The Shroud

Wayne Harrison, Staff Writer
July 27, 2001, 3:12 p.m. EDT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado physicist is looking for a male volunteer, approximately the height and weight of Jesus Christ, who is willing to be crucified.

John Jackson said that he will forgo using nails for his research but the volunteer must be willing to be tied to large cross.

Jackson operates The Turin Shroud Center of Colorado and has been looking into the mysteries of the controversial shroud for the past 27 years.

The shroud is a 14-foot-long piece of stained, bloodied, slightly charred linen that believers say was the burial cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus Christ.

Jackson, a former Air Force Academy and University of Colorado professor, is one of 38 scientists from around the world who were allowed to examine the shroud in 1978.

The Turin Shroud Center has everything but the shroud itself, Jackson said: The controversial cloth has been under tight wraps in a cathedral in Turin, Italy, since 1578. Instead, Jackson's Center has a full-size color transparency of the shroud. Visitors can also see two life-sized, styrofoam molds of crucified men, the result of an experiment in which volunteers from the nearby Air Force Academy hung on a cross to help Jackson analyze the blood flow of a body during crucifixion. Two more styrofoam corpses lay wrapped in burial cloth on the floor.

Jackson said that he still works part time as a physics consultant on government defense projects, but it is the shroud that consumes him. Jackson, a Catholic, said that his religious beliefs permeate "everything I do in life." But his beliefs don't compromise his research, he said.

Jackson said that he is undeterred by 1988 radiocarbon tests that dated the shroud at 600 to 700 years old, rather than 2,000 years. Jackson has criticized the methodology used in the tests and said that the results were skewed because the cloth was slightly scorched in a 1532 fire.

In his 27 years of research, he's found no reason to believe the shroud is not authentic. "That's because of research, not because I want it to be so," he said.

Although he is reluctant to reveal the type of research he is conducting, he said that he's trying to learn how a human image could have been formed on the shroud, and is working on experiments that he believes will show that the 1988 radiocarbon test was inaccurate.

He said that he expects to have new results sometime next year.

US scientist appeals for crucifixion volunteer - Ananova Alerting

A Colorado physicist is looking for a male volunteer who is willing to be crucified in the name of science.

John Jackson says the man must be approximately the height and weight of Jesus Christ.

Mr Jackson, from Colorado Springs, is hoping his research will help explain how the Turin Shroud may be genuine. He says he will forgo using nails in his research but the volunteer must be willing to be tied to a cross.

The former Air Force Academy and University of Colorado professor operates The Turin Shroud Centre of Colorado and has been looking into the mysteries of the Shroud said to have been wrapped around Christ following his crucifixion for 27 years.

He is reluctant to discuss the exact nature of his research but says he hopes it will show how a human image could be transferred on to cloth, reports Newschannel 2000.

Mr Jackson, a Catholic, says his experiments are also aimed at showing 1988 radiocarbon dating tests which said the Shroud was 600 to 700 years old, rather than from the time of Christ, were inaccurate.

See this story on the web at


Earth Lights URLs

From: Terry W. Colvin

I've made a few changes to the site, including a new page about the Hornet Spooklight:-


some additions to the experiences page:-


And some other minor changes.

Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer

Monday, July 30, 2001

Hawaii Board of Education plan would add creationism


First Evidence Of Life Coming From Space Reported


Evidence of living bacterial cells entering the Earth's upper atmosphere from space has come from a joint project involving Indian and UK scientists.

The first positive identification of extraterrestrial microbial life was reported on Sunday (July 29) at the Astrobiology session of the 46th Annual SPIE meeting in San Diego, by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of Cardiff University in Wales. He spoke on behalf of an international team led by Professor Jayant Narlikar, Director of the Inter-Universities Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India.

Samples of stratospheric air were collected on January 21 under the most stringent aseptic conditions by Indian scientists using the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) cryogenic sampler payload flown on balloons from the Tata Institute Balloon Launching facility in Hyderabad.

Part of the samples sent to Cardiff were analyzed by a team at Cardiff University led by Professor David Lloyd, assisted by Melanie Harris.

Commenting on the results, Professor Wickramasinghe said, "There is now unambiguous evidence for the presence of clumps of living cells in air samples from as high as 41 kilometers, well above the local tropopause (16 km), above which no air from lower down would normally be transported."

The detection was made using a fluorescent cyanine dye which is only taken up by the membranes of living cells. The variation with height of the distribution of such cells indicates strongly that the clumps of bacterial cells are falling from space.

The daily input of such biological material is provisionally estimated as about one third of a ton over the entire planet.

This new evidence provides strong support for the Panspermia theory of Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe.

"We have argued for more than two decades that terrestrial life was brought down to Earth by comets and that cometary material containing microorganisms must still be reaching us in large quantities," Professor Wickramasinghe said.

Cardiff University is home to the UK's first Center for Astrobiology, which provides the UK with a facility to contribute to space missions probing for life on solar system bodies. The Center is a joint initiative between the University and the University of Wales College of Medicine.

The Center combines research interests in astronomy and molecular cell biology to throw light on the emergence and development of life in the cosmos and planetary bodies. The work of the Center will also provide information essential for the emergent discipline of space medicine.

Cardiff University has a history of service to Wales and the world which dates from its foundation by Royal Charter in 1883. Today, independent government assessments recognize the University as one of Britain's leading research and teaching universities.


Who's Cleo the Psychic? A 'Guy Named Steve.'

From Newsweek,


If Miss Cleo really is psychic, she knew months ago to hire a good lawyer. Spurred by dozens of customer complaints, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the company behind the affable Jamaican clairvoyant last week. The Missouri suits—similar to one launched in Pennsylvania last year—accuse the company of billing for services advertised free of charge and violating the state's law against calling people on a "no call" list. Who's the attorney general focusing on? "From our view," says Nixon, "Miss Cleo is some guy named Steve." Specifically, that's 51-year-old Steve Feder, a Florida businessman with a waterfront mansion and a Mercedes. The CEO of Access Resource Services, Feder runs a network of hundreds of home-based psychics. As for the cheery woman in the ads, Feder insists she's not just an actress and does take some calls. "I'm outraged by the public spectacle they're making over a legitimate business," he told NEWSWEEK. "None of their claims is based in fact." Of course, some would say the same about Miss Cleo's.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

"What's up with cryptozoologists, the guys who investigate mythical beasts?"

From Loren Coleman by way of Terry Colvin

Here's my reply to:


What's up with the "self-proclaimed writers and science advisors" at Straight Dope?

Dear Straight Dope:

On 22 Feb 2001, Straight Dope graces the cyperspace bandwidth with a dubious essay: "What's up with cryptozoologists, the guys who investigate mythical beasts?"

First off, cryptozoological subjects under study may be part of native folklore or traditions, specifically "legends," but "myths" are not part of the mix here. You may find it funny to ridicule the serious pursuit of a new species of tree kangaroo in Indonesia by talking about "unicorns" but this does not make your treatment factual.

SDSTAFF Doug's reply falls down the embankment of journalistic sensationalism without any clear connections to the facts. He writes:

"You can get a glimpse into this if you visit the website of Dr. Loren Coleman, a self-proclaimed 'cryptozoologist,' giving advice on entering the field."

As one colleague, a well-known folklorist, wrote when alerting me to your piece: "[Then there's] the 'self-proclaimed cryptozoologist' crack. That's like saying Cecil Adams is the 'self-proclaimed writer' of The Straight Dope."

I was surprised to see I am a mini-focus here. The writer of the piece gets off to a bad start by calling me "Dr." Loren Coleman, evidencing the slippery thinking that equates teaching in a university with being a "Ph. D.". It's not the first time that's happen, just because I am a "professor," in the European sense of the term. My apologies to all those people that have worked so hard to be a "Dr." and thanks to all who continue to give me an "honorary" degree so quickly.

Especially hostile is your article's remark: "...once someone starts calling themselves a cryptozoologist instead of an anthropologist, they can't be taken seriously any more. At that point, they may con people out of money to fund their 'research,' but it loses any pretense of legitimacy."

Your statements that cryptozoologists are not taken seriously and are conning people out of money flies in the face of established research occurring in Sumatra by the Flora and Fauna International (the world's oldest conservation society) in search of the Orang Pendek, the World Wildlife Fund in Laos-Vietnam to find new species, and other organizations working in the Amazon, off of South Africa, and elsewhere. Your insulting comments about "conning people" are so over-the-top that they do not deserve a serious response.

Loren Coleman

Uri Geller aims his powers at Dando 'mystery'

From Ananova at:


Uri Geller is claiming his psychic powers could clear up the mystery he thinks still surrounds Jill Dando's death.

The psychic says he has received a letter from Barry George's ex-wife, who is convinced a paranormal investigation may help prove his innocence.

Itsuko Toide, who lives with her mother in Sendai, Japan, wrote the letter three weeks after George was convicted of murder.

The News of The World reports that the note reads: "Barry is innocent. When I did meditation I felt that the true criminal is a European man's atmosphere and left handed man.

"He didn't kill Jill Dando. Please give me your power for justice for the arrest of the true criminal."

Geller said: "I think there is mystery surrounding Jill's murder. Before Barry George was arrested I believed a Serbian hitman committed the crime. I'd love to meet Itsuko.

"I believe with my hypnotic powers and telepathy I could navigate through the dark corners of her mind and bring back very interesting information."

Folk healers, long a tradition, thriving in Rio Grande Valley

Copyright 2001 Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN -- Feel lovesick? Want to send an unwanted neighbor away? Conquer a fleeing heart, get rid of a bad omen or gain new friends? Perhaps you want to help a son or daughter kick a drug habit.

Freethought Radio

Clinton O'Dell has created an Internet radio station for skeptics & all freethinkers in general. It's at


Saturday, July 28, 2001

Energy Fraud, the first of many

From: Scott Peterson

Great story in the LA Times this morning about a convicted felon who promised to build a 250-MW generation facility on an Indian Reservation using secret technology.

When the dust settled, the Indians had stock certificates and the hoaxster had their money.


'Reincarnated' treasure hunter still planning dig

From Ananova at:


A New York businessman who thinks he buried treasure in Wales during a previous life has delayed his bid to find it.

Jim Bethe was given permission to search public parkland in Swansea last year, but postponed the trip for contractual reasons.

He is working with a Manchester-based TV company which is making a documentary.

A spokesman for the company told Ananova he is confident the dig and filming will go ahead but negotiations between all the parties involved have yet to be resolved.

Mr Bethe claims he buried the treasure chest 150 years ago when he was an adventurer named John Seaman.

He remembers stealing jewels from the Sultan of Tippoo in India in 1799.

Seaman is said to have returned to Wales and was tortured by customs men who wanted to know where the jewels were hidden - but he never told them.

Fortune smiles on tarot readers
Judge continues to allow ad signs



Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS – Tarot card readers can keep on hawking their fortune-telling skills.

That was the message delivered by a federal judge who extended an order allowing Jackson Square tarot card readers to advertise without fear of arrest for violating a city litter ordinance that forbids private signs on public property.

Elephant evolution

From: Leon Retief leonr@iafrica.com

The creationists over here are at it again - their latest question is : how did elephants get their trunks? of course, the real reason for the question is that, as soon as it is explained, they're going to ask : but of what use will a rudimentary trunk be?

I'm ready for the last part and can reply to that by inter alia mentioning the tapir, which does indeed have a very small trunk. However, I'd like to lead them into that by describing elephant evolution, but I can't find any information on that.

Can anyone help please?


Leon Retief
South Africa

Re: Elephant evolution

From: Ludwig Krippahl ludik@interacesso.pt

These two give a a sketchy idea of elephant evolution, but I don't know of anything more detailed...



Zero Point Energy And Free Energy Theory, Progress, And Devices

From Dean A. Batha


Written by Patrick G. Bailey, Ph. D.
Posted Mon, 27-Dec-1993 15:46:40 GMT

A Review Of Zero Point Energy And Free Energy Theory, Progress, And Devices by
Patrick G. Bailey, Ph. D.
P.O. Box 201
Los Altos, CA 94023-0201
Presented to the International Forum on New Science
1304 S. College Avenue
Ft. Colins, CO 80524
(303) 482-3731
September 19, 1992



A review is presented of the theory and experimental evidence relating to Zero Point Energy and Free Energy Devices. This review is based on a two year study of the information and data available in these fields, and also upon the information presented by various key researchers in these fields at three recent conferences. It is found that there is increasing momentum and a growing network of researchers taking place in these fields, despite reported efforts to suppress this information. Examples of such past and present suppression activities are included. Nevertheless, sound theoretical foundations for understanding so-called "Zero Point Energy" and "Free Energy" devices have been documented and are available. There are several reports by various authors of experiments that indicate a much higher than normal operation efficiency, and even over-unity operation. Unfortunately, these results have to date not been replicated by other researchers.

Since energy is conserved, pure perpetual motion cannot exist. However, several examples are known to exist where energy efficiency can appear to be over-unity, and the motion can appear to us to be perpetual. For these types of systems, the idea of "Free Energy" can be applied, and lessons learned. Several experiments are discussed that have demonstrated the possibility of obtaining energy from space, and utilizing that energy in a way different from the normal laws of electricity. These experiments and results are being tracked down and closely examined. Valuable references with real mailing addresses and telephone numbers are included herein. Replications of these encouraging results are desperately needed.


"Let God kill him that does not know, yet presumes to show the other the way!" This quote from a Persian dervish in the movie and videotape of "Meetings with Remarkable Men" by Gurdjieff (1963) pretty much summarizes my feelings toward the whole area of science, and living as well. It's a jungle out there. The dividing line between truth, fiction, what is best, and what sells has never been less clearly defined. Since the advent of the digital information explosion, the sea of information has been growing at a pace that few can follow. However, if we are to be responsible and seek the truth, we must persevere. I am dedicated to finding the truth. My fields of interest are Nature, religion, and science, and their beneficial applications to the human race.

To learn about the foundations and current technical knowledge in the Zero Point and Free Energy fields is to open a very large Pandora's Box. One finds non-believers, strong supporters, dissenters, and active hard- nosed suppressers. My interest was aroused as a teenager by reading about the life and contributions of Nikola Tesla, now available in the books by Walters (1961) and Cheney (1981). He is the one individual responsible for creating the entire alternating current network that powers the world today. He defied the science of his day, and designed and built the AC generator that transforms "potential" energy into "electrical" energy. Yet, he is not in many school texts, and his basic theories and ideas for larger projects and applications were nearly lost to the world. Why was he not supported? Why is Thomas Edison such a well known name and Nikola Tesla is not? Why was his research not actively continued? Why does the academic community, within the US, continually ignore the possible applications of his theories?

Tesla was unceremoniously thrown out of the best technical school in Yugoslavia for believing that he could build a generator that would extract electrical power from a running stream of water. His professor called it: "Perpetual Motion!" This is not so unfamiliar. We have heard other such convenient explanations, such as: "Heavier than air machines will never fly" (Lord Kelvin, 1890s); "We threw out all of the textbooks, and then we built the airplane" (the Wright Brothers); "The human body will not survive speeds of over 40 miles per hour" (early 1900s); and "Airplanes can not go faster than the speed of sound" (1940s). Other example abound, all spoken by the out-spoken "leaders" of their day. My view is that science continues to grow and mature. Nature is fixed. Only our understanding of Nature continually unfolds. Sometimes this growth has been only painful, and sometimes it has provided great shocks to the system. Fear of change is not an adequate excuse for not actively pursuing the development of our full capabilities as human beings, as individuals or as groups.

Time Travel


Welcome to the
Time Travel Research Center

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Study scientific information on relativity, quantum mechanics, gravitation, light, parallel universes & time machines.


Review the history and possibilities of time travel through new age theories including progression, astral projection and more.


Review science fiction history and how it has influenced and driven the world to a new understanding of time and time travel.

Florida Swamp Thing



PAHOKEE, Fla. -- Over the past three months, more than 30 people have seen a gigantic reptile similar to the Loch Ness Monster -- swimming in Florida's Lake Okeechobee!

Since early March, officials in Martin, Palm Beach and Glades counties have been besieged with reports from tourists and fishermen.

Witnesses describe a scaly creature with a long neck, resembling a dinosaur em-erging from Florida's largest lake.

The beast dubbed the Lake Okeechobee Monster is estimated to be about 65 feet in length -- a good 10 to 15 feet longer than Scotland's Loch Ness Monster. And according to descriptions, it is even more terrifying-looking than Nessie.

Most witnesses have seen it only from a distance -- few closer than 50 or 60 yards. But some have seen it all too close up.

Perhaps the most dramatic account comes from local fisherman Mark Tagerton, whose small boat was capsized by the huge animal.

"I'll never get over it as long as I live," said Tagerton. "The water had been rough and choppy all day. It was weird because there wasn't a lot of wind. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the water started churning and the boat started rocking like crazy.

"All of a sudden -- I get chills just talking about it -- this sea-monster thing just raised out of the water, not 50 feet from the boat.

"I was petrified. It just paused there a moment, watching me.

"Then, all of a sudden, it lunged forward and crashed down against the surface of the water right beside my boat. It sounded like thunder. The impact caused such a massive wake that the boat tipped over lengthwise.

"I thought the thing was going to eat me. But it just disappeared."

Fortunately, another boater who had been fishing nearby saw the entire epi-sode and came over to pull Tagerton out of the water.

Three law enforcement officials in towns around the lake's perimeter, speaking off the record, say they've heard reports of the Lake Okeechobee Monster for years, but only recently have there been so many sightings so close together.

Australian zoologist Dr. Victor Tandy has been in this country collecting photos and documents, and studying the baffling phenomena firsthand since mid-April. But he says he has no explanation for the increased number of sightings in recent months.

"I don't know if it's because the drought has disturbed its habitat, or just because of increasing environmental problems on the lake," he said.

"And though I've never seen it myself, I'm convinced something is down there -- and it's been down there for many years.

"And I'm also convinced that something is drawing it to the surface more frequently than ever before. It's a mystery I intend to solve."




LOS ANGELES - Baffled cops say they're mystified, and a team of investigators from the Pentagon are refusing comment, on the bizarre disappearance of farmer Josh Muddleton's 1975 pickup truck - which the solid, churchgoing grandfather says was literally eaten by a shapeless blob he believes may have come from outer space.

"It was early morning and I was on my way down to the henhouse when I saw this huge green lump of something land out of nowhere a few feet away from where I had parked my pickup truck," Muddleton declares.

"It was wiggling and jiggling and bouncing back and forth like something you'd see on a kiddie cartoon. "I just stood there in total shock trying to make out what it could be. I've never believed in UFOs but what else could it have been?"

Muddleton says the eerie blob looked like it was at least three times the size of his 21-foot Chevy - and appeared to "swallow" the truck and his payload of chicken mash.

"It started at the front end first, making these slurping sounds and clean swallowed up the whole vehicle. I could still see my truck plain as day right through the blob, like you'd see fruit in a dish of Jell-O," the still shaken farmer told reporters.

"I started yelling at it to get off my truck, but before the words got out of my mouth, it gave two more huge jiggles and slowly rose right up and vanished into the clouds," he adds.

Sheriff's deputies, summoned to investigate, say they doubted the old man's story until they found several globs of a strange gelatin-like green substance on the ground where Muddleton claimed his truck had been.

"It was like nothing I'd ever seen," said one deputy. "We called in the military boys and they scooped the stuff up and said they were sending it off to Washington, but that's the last we've heard from them.

"We checked up on Mr. Muddleton with some of his neighbors and folks in his church and they say he's rock solid, honest, and has a heart of gold.

"He lost his wife of 50 years about six months ago and he's had his share of sorrow, but he's sharp as a tack and looked us straight in the eyes when he told us what happened."

Spokesmen declined comment but acknowledged that investigators are "aware of the alleged incident."

Andrei Ol'khovatov [Tunguska, electrophonic sounds, etc.]

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com


Welcome to Andrei Ol'khovatov Web-site!

(or www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Cockpit/3240 , which is the same)
(you are in the directory)

The last update of this file: Jule 2, 2001

"One thing I learnt in a long life, that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - yet it is the most precious thing we have"

Albert Einstein

Here you can read about: the 1908 Tunguska event; electrophonic sounds, geophysical meteors, and many other exciting things. The site is under permanent updating.


I am interested in manifestations of tectonic activity, atmospheric electricity phenomena, meteor phenomena, and in unexplained natural phenomena in general. Here are some of them (I suppose to add some more later):

[3]TUNGUSKA 2001 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE - Info on the TUNGUSKA 2001 Internationaal conference.

[4]THE TECTONIC INTERPRETATION OF THE 1908 TUNGUSKA EVENT- My idea on the origin of the 1908 Tunguska event (I can say, that it becomes rather popular in Russia).

[5]TUNGUSKA RESEARCH AND OTHER NEWS- Here you can read news on the 1908 Tunguska event's research (which are not presented in the above-mentioned Tunguska article) and on other topics.

[6]THE 1998 KRASNOYARSK INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TUNGUSKA- You can read about the conference and its abstracts.

[7]TUNGUSKA AND OTHER PICTURES- Here you can see pictures related with the 1908 Tunguska event and on other topics.

[8]GEOPHYSICAL METEORS - This www-page is devoted to the phenomenon, which resembles meteors, but has non-meteoroidal origin (some of them are real mini-Tunguskas!). The Dec.9, 1997 Greenland fireball event is probably a good example. The item below, "ROCKET LIGHTNING, MAYBE" is on other possible examples of geophysical meteors, associated with aviation.

[9]"ROCKET LIGHTNING, MAYBE" - It is a title of my letter published in the July 28, 1997 issue of AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY magazine with the idea that the cause of the July 17, 1996 TWA FLIGHT 800 crash may be geophysical origin. But I can't insist on it (unlike Tunguska), as I don't have enough data to be sure in it. But, it seems that more and more data appears in its favor. There are also some other similar events.

[10]METEOROIDAL METEORS - This www-page describes 'usual' i.e. astronomical meteors, produced by spacebodies (meteoroids). Despite that in general the meteor phenomena are rather well-understood, there are still many unknown and/or anomalous aspects. In there you can read my AIAA Paper 2000 - 0589 on anomalously high meteors. Another mysterious meteor phenomena - electrophonic sounds are in the separate section below, due to their importance.

[11]ELECTROPHONIC SOUNDS - Electrophonic sounds are sounds simultaneous with a flight of a bright bolide. Modern science just recently was to recognize them, as their nature is still a mystery. Here you can read my letters published in the November, 1998 issue of METEORITE! magazine, and in Feb.3, 2001 issue of NEW SCIENTIST magazine on the problem of the electrophonic sounds.

[12]TEKTITES - Discussion of these and similar anomalous rocks.

[13]My just appeared Russian homepage (If your computer, and you can read Russian)

You can e-mail me: [14]olkhov@mail.ru

Man Claims Remains of Kennewick Man

The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A man who says he is the descendent of a Polynesian ruler is laying claim to the 9,300-year-old human remains found in an eroded bank of the Columbia River in 1996, saying in court papers that Kennewick Man was related to ancient Polynesians.

AP-NY-07-25-01 2359EDT

Articles of Note

Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

A big one today. Thanks to Joe Littrell and a host of others...

Historian Irving Denied Appeal
Associated Press


"Historian David Irving, who questioned the extent of the Holocaust, on Friday lost his bid to challenge an earlier ruling that branded him an anti-Semitic racist and an apologist for Hitler."

New Consulting aid: http://web.locallink.net/~jalewis/handprint/

Polygraph Theism
By William Saletan


"Two weeks ago, besieged by speculation that he had killed former Washington intern Chandra Levy, Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., launched a strategic retreat."

Sex-mad 'ghost' scares Zanzibaris
By Ally Saleh
BBC News


"Fear has struck residents of the Zanzibar Islands after rumours of the re-emergence of a sexually voracious ghost that attacks people while they sleep in their beds at night."

Note: see CSICOP website: http://www.csicop.org/sb/9512/i-files.html

Still Bearing Witness
by Robert Davey
Village Voice


"Not many miles from where TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, south of East Moriches, Long Island, and just a few days before the fifth anniversary of the crash, eight eyewitnesses came to the Wyndham Wind Watch Hotel in Hauppauge to share their memories of the tragedy. The official investigation has identified more than 200 people who reported seeing a streak of light before the explosion. These eight witnesses are not satisfied with the formal explanation of what they saw."

Monks to Lift Century-Old Curse


"Greek monks have agreed to lift a century-old curse on an island village to "never sleep again'' for bringing the wrath of the Ottoman empire on their monastery, the village's mayor said on Monday."

Best of the Web Today


"We usually like the Fox News Channel, but when we saw a preview for this weekend's "Judith Regan Tonight," we had an urge to pelt our television with rotten fruit. Here's how Fox's Web site describes Regan's lineup of guests:"

Sharks: a whale of a tale
Dallas Morning News


"First we heard the tragic story of a small boy being savagely attacked by a shark in Pensacola, Fla. And just this week we've been told of two more shark attacks in Florida."

Americans buying kidneys in Manila
National Post


"''Kidney, kidney,'' the woman with the ponytail and the crooked teeth cackles, pointing the way to a one-room shack made of corrugated tin and scraps of plywood. ''Kidney, kidney!''"

Sai Baba

Somewhere between 10 million and 50 million people worship Sai Baba as God incarnate, and they stream into Puttaparthi from six continents, sleeping in one of the ashram's 10,000 beds or at one of the town's many guesthouses. Meanwhile, the growing number of ex-devotees who decry their former master


From Richard Wiseman:

The science museum in london have just staged an exhibition of my work into ghost - some of the material is available on line at:


Simply click the 'ghostbusters' word that runs at the bottom of the page.

Failure to deliver psychic services gets woman 4 years in prison
Pam Louwagie
Star Tribune

Wednesday, July 25, 2001


A woman from Albert Lea, Minn., who advertised psychic services in tabloid newspapers, collected money from customers, then apparently didn't deliver on her promises was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to more than four years in prison.

Alien Hunters Scan the Heavens
Associated Press


"Not content to just listen for aliens, a group of California scientists has begun looking for them, too."

Theory dismissed
San Jose Mercury News


"The heavy lifting needed to build the Egyptian pyramids may not have been on the backs of slaves, but from the lightest of sources -- the wind. This controversial theory gained new support last month with an experiment by the California Institute of Technology."

Astrology school sets off controversy


"College degrees in astrology?"

Missouri sues company behind TV psychic Miss Cleo CNN


"The Missouri attorney general has filed two lawsuits against a television psychic hotline for false advertising, fraud and other unlawful business practices, alleging the company bilked consumers out of money and caused them significant injury."

From skeptic Eric Kreig

Dennis Lee has just started a 50 state tour to take promote and get people to sign up to have free electricity machines installed in their homes. He will also try to get them to pay for plans to convert their cars to run mostly on water. His tour schedule is found at: http://ucsofa.com/2001_tour.htm He claims to demonstrate a number of phenomenon which are unexplained by conventional science.

Eric Krieg of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking encourages skeptics to check out one of his shows and says, "you may never get a chance to get such a colorful mix of bogus science, conspiracy theory, MLM pitch all wrapped up with plenty of Jesus talk". He provides a controversial response to Dennis's claims at: http://www.phact.org/e/dennis.html Skeptics interested in checking out a show are encouraged to contact Eric at eric@phact.org

Salon article on Sai Baba

From: Garrison Hilliard garrison@efn.org

For more information on Sai Baba try the following url.


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