NTS LogoSkeptical News for 11 August 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, August 11, 2001

'Ghost' causing panic in Malaysian schools

From Ananova at:


A photocopy of an alleged ghost is causing panic among schoolchildren in Malaysia.

Copies of the image appear to show a ghost-like figure behind a boy.

Apparently youngsters in primary schools have been so scared by the image they won't even use the school toilets.

The image has been circulating in schools in Kuala Kangsar, Pantai Remis and Taiping.

A headteacher, who did not want to be named, told the New Straits Times students have been told not to believe in such stories.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession is urging parents and teachers to explain to children ghosts do not exist.

Union president Tengku Habsah Tengku Petera said it was the work of irresponsible people who wanted to cause panic and frighten youngsters and urged for action to be taken against those responsible.

Television psychic's company must pay $75,000


COPIED FROM: THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH METRO SECTION This story was published in Metro on Friday, August 10, 2001.

Television psychic's company must pay $75,000 in a court settlement here

By William C. Lhotka
Of The Post-Dispatch
The Associated Press Contributed To This Story.

Calling herself a psychic, Miss Cleo of late-night TV commercial fame may have known how much 94 Missourians valued their privacy.

But her Florida-based telemarketers apparently didn't.

So Access Resource Services Inc., the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company that does business as Miss Cleo, is paying the price: $75,000.

That's the amount specified in a court order by St. Louis Circuit Judge Julian Bush as part of a settlement between Access and Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Also part of the court order, made public this week, is a copy of Missouri's "no-call list" with 800,000 telephone numbers. Miss Cleo and Access are barred from calling any of them. Violations would result in stipulated penalties of $5,000 each.

"This order makes it clear that you can't violate the no-call law without repercussions," said Nixon in a news release that announced the settlement. He said, "We're sending a strong message that violators will be pursued."

Nixon's office got 94 consumer complaints about Miss Cleo before filing the suit last month.

In a Caribbean accent, Miss Cleo promises in TV commercials to reveal some insights by telephone for free. But Nixon alleges in a civil fraud suit pending in Kansas City that she or Access uses the initial three "free" minutes to obtain information from the caller and then puts the customer on hold until the toll minutes begin.

John Dichter, a lawyer in New York who represents Access, said the settlement was a business decision and that Access took the position it had violated no laws.

The no-call law, passed in the most recent session of the Missouri Legislature, allows residents to sign up on a list that bars certain telemarketers from calling them. Many types of businesses are exempt from the no-calling provisions.

Reporter William C. Lhotka:

E-mail: blhotka@post-dispatch.com

Phone: 314-615-3283

Friday, August 10, 2001

Tracking the Swamp Monsters

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

For the purposes of commentary and scholarly discussion....

Skeptical Inquirer
July 1, 2001
SECTION: No. 4, Vol. 25; Pg. 15 ; ISSN: 0194-6730

IAC-ACC-NO: 76881165

LENGTH: 3206 words

HEADLINE: Tracking the Swamp Monsters.


Do mysterious and presumably endangered manlike creatures inhabit swamplands of the southern United States? If not, how do we explain the sightings and even track impressions of creatures that thus far have eluded mainstream science? Do they represent additional evidence of the legendary Bigfoot or something else entirely? What would an investigation reveal?

Monster Mania

The outside world learned about Louisiana's Honey Island Swamp Monster in 1974 when two hunters emerged from a remote area of backwater sloughs with plaster casts of "unusual tracks." The men claimed they discovered the footprints near a wild boar that lay with its throat gashed. They also stated that over a decade earlier, in 1963, they had seen similar tracks after encountering an awesome creature. They described it as standing seven feet tall, being covered with grayish hair, and having large amber-colored eyes. However, the monster had promptly run away and an afternoon rainstorm had obliterated its tracks, the men said.

The hunters were Harlan E. Ford and his friend Billy Mills, both of whom worked as air-traffic controllers. Ford told his story on an episode of the 1970s television series In Search of ... According to his granddaughter, Dana Holyfield (1999a, 11):

When the documentary was first televised, it was monster mania around here. People called from everywhere ... The legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster escalated across Southern Louisiana and quickly made its way our of state after the documentary aired nationwide.

Harlan Ford continued to search for the monster until his death in 1980. Dana recalls how he once rook a goat into the swamp to use as bait, hoping to lure the creature to a tree blind where Ford waited--uneventfully, as it happened--with gun and camera. He did supposedly find several, different-sized tracks on one hunting trip. He also claimed to have seen the monster on one other occasion, during a fishing trip with Mills and some of their friends from work. One of the men reportedly then went searching for the creature with a rifle and fired two shots at it before returning to tell his story to the others around the campfire (Holyfield 1999a, 10-15).

Searching for Evidence

Intrigued by the monster reports, which I pursued on a trip to New Orleans (speaking to local skeptics at the planetarium in Kenner), I determined to visit the alleged creature's habitat. The Honey Island Swamp (figure 1) comprises nearly 70,000 acres between the East Pearl and West Pearl rivers. I signed on with Honey Island Swamp Tours, which is operated out of Slidell, Louisiana, by wetlands ecologist Paul Wagner and his wife, Sue Their "small, personalized nature tours" live up to their billing as explorations of "the deeper, harder-to-reach small bayous and sloughs" of "one of the wildest and most pristine river swamps in America" ("Dr. Wagner's" n.d.).

The Wagners are ambivalent about the supposed swamp monsters existence. They have seen alligators, deer, otters, bobcats, and numerous other species but not a trace of the legendary creature (Wagner 2000). The same is true of the Wagners' Cajun guide, Captain Robbie Charbonnet. Beginning at age eight, he has had forty-five years' experience, eighteen as a guide, in the Honey Island Swamp. He told me he had never seen or heard" something he could not identify, certainly nothing that could be attributed to a monster (Charbonnet 2000).

Suiting action to words throughout our tour, Charbonnet repeatedly identified species after species in the remote swampland as he skillfully threaded his boat through the cypresses and tupelos hung with Spanish moss. Although the cool weather had pushed 'gators to the depths, he heralded turtles, great blue herons, and other wildlife. From only a glimpse of its silhouetted form he spotted a barred owl, then carefully maneuvered for a closer view. He called attention to the singing of robins, who were gathering there for the winter, and pointed to signs of other creatures, including freshly cut branches produced by beavers and, in the mud, tracks left by a wild boar. But there was not a trace of the swamp monster. (The closest I came was passing an idle boat at Indian Village Landing emblazoned "Swamp Monster Tours.")

Another who is skeptical of monster claims is naturalist John V. Dennis. In his comprehensive book The Great Cypress Swamps (1988), he writes:

"Honey Island has achieved fame of sorts because of the real or imagined presence of a creature that fits the description of the Big Foot of movie renown. Known as the Thing, the creature is sometimes seen by fishermen." However, he says, "For my part, let me say that in my many years of visiting swamps, many of them as wild or wilder than Honey Island, I have never obtained a glimpse of anything vaguely resembling Big Foot, nor have I ever seen suspicious-looking footprints." He concludes, "Honey Island, in my experience, does not live up to its reputation as a scary place."

In contrast to the lack of monster experiences from swamp experts are the encounters reported by Harlan Ford and Billy Mills. Those alleged eyewitnesses are, in investigators' parlance, "repeaters"--people who claim unusual experiences on multiple occasions. (Take Bigfoot hunter Roger Patterson for example. Before shooting his controversial film sequence of a hairy man-beast in 1967, Patterson was a longtime Bigfoot buff who had "discovered" the alleged creature's tracks on several occasions [Bord and Bord 1982, 80].) Ford's and Mills's multiple sightings and discoveries seem suspiciously lucky, and suspicions are increased by other evidence, including the tracks.

From Dana Holyfield I obtained a plaster copy of one of the several track casts made by her grandfather (figure 2). It is clearly not the track of a stereotypical Bigfoot (or sasquatch) whose footprints are "roughly human in design," according to anthropologist and pro-Bigfoot theorist Grover Krantz (1992, 17). Instead, Ford's monster tracks are webbed-toe imprints that appear to be "a cross between a primate and a large alligator" (Holyfield 1999a, 9). The track is also surprisingly small: only about nine and three-fourths inches long compared to Bigfoot tracks which average about fourteen to sixteen inches (Coleman and Clark 1999, 14), with tracks of twenty inches and more reported (Coleman and Huyghe 1999). [1]


Clearly, the Honey Island Swamp Monster is not a Bigfoot, a fact that robs Ford's and Mills's story of any credibility it might have had from that association. Monster popularizers instead equate the Honey Island reports with other "North American 'Creatures of the Black Lagoon' cases," purported evidence of cryptozoological entities dubbed "freshwater Merbeings" (Coleman and Huyghe 1999, 39, 62).

These are supposedly linked by tracks with three toes, although Ford's casts actually exhibit four (again see figure 2). In short, the alleged monster is unique, rare even among creatures whose existence is unproven and unlikely.

Footprints and other specific details aside, the Honey Island Swamp Monster seems part of a genre of mythic swamp-dwelling "beastmen" or "manimals." They include the smelly Skunk Ape and the hybrid Gatorman of the Florida Everglades and other southern swamps; the Scape Ore Swamp Lizardman of South Carolina; Momo, the Missouri Monster; and, among others, the Fouke Monster, which peeked in the window of a home in Fouke, Arkansas, one night in 1971 and set off a rash of monster sightings (Blackman 1998, 23-25, 30-33, 166-168; Bord and Bord 1982, 104-105; Coleman and Clark 1999, 224-226; Coleman and Huyghe 1999, 39, 56).

Considering this genre, we must ask: Why swamps and why monsters? Swamps represent remote, unexplored regions, which have traditionally been the domain of legendary creatures. As the noted Smithsonian Institution biologist John Napier (1973, 23) sagely observed, monsters "hail from uncharted territory: inaccessible mountains, impenetrable forests, remote Pacific islands, the depths of loch or ocean.... The essential element of the monster myth is remoteness."

Echoing Napier in discussing one reported Honey Island Swamp encounter, John V. Dennis (1988) states: "In many cases, sightings such as this one are inspired by traditions that go back as far as Indian days. If a region is wild and inaccessible and has a history of encounters with strange forms of life, chances are that similar encounters will occur again--or at least be reported." And while the major purported domain of Bigfoot is the Pacific northwest, Krantz (1992, 199) observes: "Many of the more persistent eastern reports come from low-lying and/or swampy lands of the lower Mississippi and other major river basins."

But why does belief in monsters persist? According to one source, monsters appear in every culture and are "born out of the unknown and nurtured by the unexplained" (Guenette and Guenette 1975). Many alleged paranormal entities appear to stem either from mankind's hopes or fears--thus are envisioned angels and demons--and some entities may evoke a range of responses. Monsters, for example, may intrigue us with their unknown aspect as well as provoke terror. We may be especially interested in man-beasts, given what psychologist Robert A. Baker (1995) observes is our strong tendency to endow things with human characteristics. Hence, angels are basically our better selves with wings; extraterrestrials are humanoids from futuristic worlds; and Bigfoot and his ilk seem linked to our evolutionary past.

Monsters may play various roles in our lives. My Cajun guide, Robbie Charbonnet, offered some interesting ideas about the Honey Island Swamp Monster and similar entities. He thought that frightening stories might have been concocted on occasion to keep outsiders away--perhaps to protect prime hunting areas or even help safeguard moonshine stills. He also theorized that such tales might have served in a sort of bogeyman fashion to frighten children from wandering into remote, dangerous areas. (Indeed he mentioned how when he was a youngster in the 1950s an uncle would tell him about a frightening figure--a sort of horror-movie type with one leg, a mutilated face, etc.--that would "get" him if he strayed into the swampy wilderness.)

Like any such bogeyman, the Honey Island Swamp Monster is also good for gratuitous campfire chills. "A group of men were sitting around the campfire along the edge of the Pearl River," begins one narrative, "telling stories about that thing in the swamp . . ." (Holyfield 1999b). A song, "The Honey Island Swamp Monster" (written by Perry Ford, n.d.), is in a similar vein: "Late at night by a dim fire light, / You people best beware. / He's standing in the shadows, / Lurking around out there..." The monster has even been referred to specifically as "The boogie man" and "that booger" (Holyfield 1992a, 14). "Booger" is a dialect form of bogey, and deliberately scary stories are sometimes known as "booger' tales" (Cassidy 1985).

Suitable subjects for booger tales are numerous Louisiana swamp and bayou terrors, many of them the products of Cajun folklore. One is the Letiche, a ghoulish creature that was supposedly an abandoned, illegitimate child who was reared by alligators, and now has scaly skin, webbed hands and feet, and luminous green eyes. Then there is Jack O'Lantern, a malevolent spirit who lures humans into dangerous swampland with his mesmerizing lantern, as well as the Loup Garou (a werewolf) and the zombies (not the relatively harmless "Voodoo Zombies" but the horrific "Flesh Eaters") (Blackman 1998, 171-209).

By extension, swamp creatures are also ideal subjects for horror fiction. The Fouke monster sightings, for example, inspired the horror movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. That 1972 thriller became a box-office hit, spawning a sequel and many imitations. About the same time (1972) there emerged a popular comic book series titled Swamp Thing, featuring a metamorphosing man-monster from a Louisiana swamp. Interestingly, these popularized monsters predated the 1974 claims of Ford and Mills. (Recall that their alleged earlier encounter of 1963 had not been reported.)

The Track Makers

While swamp monsters and other manbeasts are not proven to exist, hoaxers certainly are. Take, for example, Bigfoot tracks reported by berry pickers near Mount St. Helens, Washington, in 1930. Nearly half a century later, a retired logger came forward to pose with a set of "bigfeet" that he had carved and that a friend had worn to produce the fake monster tracks (Dennett 1982). Among many similar hoaxes were at least seven perpetrated in the early 1970s by one Ray Pickens of Chehalis, Washington. He carved primitive seven-by-eighteen-inch feet and attached them to hiking boots. Pickens (1975) said he was motivated "not to fool the scientists, but to fool the monster-hunters" who he felt regarded people like him as "hicks." Other motivation, according to monster hunter Peter Byrne (1975), stems from the "extraordinary psychology of people wanting to get their names in the paper, people wanting a little publicity, wanting to be noticed."

Were Harlan Ford's and Billy Mills's monster claims similarly motivated? Dana Holyfield (1999a, 5-6) says of her grandfather: "Harlan wasn't a man to make up something like that. He was down to earth and honest and told it the way it was and didn't care if people believed him or not." But even a basically honest person, who would not do something overtly dastardly or criminal, might engage in something that he considered relatively harmless and that would add zest to life. I believe the evidence strongly indicates that Ford and Mills did just that. To sum up, there are the men's suspiciously repeated sighting reports and alleged track discoveries, together with the incongruent mixing of a Bigfoot-type creature with most un-Bigfootlike feet, plus the fact that the proffered evidence is not only of a type that could easily be faked but often has been. In addition, the men's claims exist in a context of swampmanimal mythology that has numerous antecedent elements in folklore and fiction. Taken together, the evi dence suggests a common hoax.

Certainly, in the wake of the monster mania Ford helped inspire, much hoaxing resulted. States Holyfield (1999a, 11): "Then there were the monster impersonators who made fake bigfoot shoes and tromped through the swamp. This went on for years. Harlan didn't worry about the jokers because he knew the difference." Be that as it may, swamp-monster hoaxes---and apparent hoaxes--continue.

A few months before I arrived in Louisiana, two loggers, Earl Whitstine and Carl Dubois, reported sighting a hairy man-beast in a cypress swamp called Boggy Bayou in the central part of the state. Giant four-toed tracks and hair samples were discovered at the site, and soon others came forward to say they too had seen a similar creature. However, there were grounds for suspicion: twenty-five years earlier (i.e., not long after the 1974 Honey Island Swamp Monster reports), Whitstine's father and some friends had sawed giant foot shapes from plywood and produced fake monster tracks in the woods of a nearby parish.

On September 13, 2000, laboratory tests of the hair from the Boggy Bayou creature revealed that it was not Gigantopithecus blacki (a scientific name for sasquatch proposed by Krantz [1992, 193]), but much closer to Booger louisiani (my term for the legendary swamp bogeyman). It proved actually to be from Equus caballus (a horse), whereupon the local sheriff's department promptly ended its investigation (Blanchard 2000; Burdeau 2000).

Reportedly, Harlan Ford believed the swamp monsters "were probably on the verge of extinction" (Holyfield 1999a, 10). Certainly he did much to further their cause. It seems likely that--as long as there are suitably remote habitats and other essentials (such as campfires around which to tell tales, and good ol' boys looking for their fifteen-minutes of fame)--the legendary creatures will continue to proliferate.


In addition to those mentioned in the text, I am grateful to several people for their assistance: From Louisiana, William Sierichs Jr., James F. Cherry M.D., and Kenner Planetarium Director Michael Sandras; and from the Center for Inquiry, Director of Libraries Tim Binga, SKEPTICAl INQUIRER Managing Editor Ben Radford, and--for conceiving of and arranging the multi-state "southern tour" lecture series that took me to Louisiana--CSICOP Executive Director Barry Karr. Thanks again also to Ranjit Sandhu for manuscript assistance.


(1.) Although Harlan Ford obtained tracks of various sizes, a photo of his mounted casts (Holyfield 1999a, 10) makes it possible to compare them with his open hand which touches the display and thus gives an approximate scale. This shows all are relatively small. The one I obtained from Holyfield is consistent with the larger ones.


Baker, Robert A. 1995. Afterword to Nickell 1995, 275-285.

Blackman, W. Haden. 1998. The Field Guide to North American Monsters. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Blanchard, Kevin. 2000. Bigfoot sighting in La.? Baton Rouge, La., The Advocate, August 29.

Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. 1982. The Bigfoot Casebook. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books.

Burdeau, Cain. 2000. Many in central La. fear Bigfoot. Baton Rouge, La., The Advocate, September 15.

Byrne, Peter. 1975. Quoted in Guenette and Guenette 1975, 81.

Cassidy, Frederick G., ed. 1985. Dictionary of American Regional English. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1: 333-334.

Charbonnet, Robbie. 2000. Interview by Joe Nickell, December 4.

Coleman, Loren, and Jerome Clark. 1999. Cryptozoology A to Z New York: Fireside (Simon & Schuster).

Coleman, Loren, and Patrick Huyghe. 1999. The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide. New York: Avon, 14-19.

Dennett, Michael. 1982. Bigfoot jokester reveals punchline--finally. SKEPTICAL INQUIRER 7.1 (Fall): 8-9.

Dennis, John V. 1988. The Great Cypress Swamps. Baron Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 27, 108-109.

"Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, Inc." N.d. Advertising flier, Slidell, La.

Ford, Perry. N.d. "The Honey Island Swamp Monster." Song text in Holyfield 1999b, 13.

Guenette, Robert, and Frances Guenette, 1975. The Mysterious Monsters. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sun Classic Pictures.

Holyfield, Dana. 1999a. Encounters with the Honey Island Swamp Monster. Pearl River, La.: Honey Island Swamp Books.

----, 1999b. More Swamp Cookin' with the River People. Pearl River, La.: Honey Island Swamp Books.

Krantz, Grover. 1992. Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books.

Nickell, Joe. 1995. Entities: Angels, Spirits, Demons, and Other Alien Beings. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.

Pickens, Ray. 1975. Quoted in Guenette and Guenette 1975, 80.

Wagner, Sue. 2000. Interview by Joe Nickell, December 4.

Joe Nickell is CSICOP's Senior Research Fellow and author of numerous investigative books.
Forwarded from the Bigfoot list with credit and permission by poster who wishes to remain nameless, henceforth.

Faith Healer Allegedly Linked Sex to Exorcism


BERGENFIELD, N.J. (Reuters) - A self-styled faith healer pleaded not guilty on Thursday to sexual assault after allegedly telling a woman she had to have sexual relations with him to exorcise her demons.

Jess Guevarra, 50, a local machinist, told police he used herbs and other folk medicine of his native Philippines, but he denied at his Municipal Court arraignment having sex with the 29-year-old Maryland woman, whose name was not disclosed.

Referring to unrevealed evidence, Lieutenant Detective James Stoltenborg of the Bergenfield police said, ``We have a very solid case.''

The woman, also Philippine-born, was referred to Guevarra by friends in May. She believed she was possessed because her leg hurt, her mother had a rash, and her grandmother had died, Stoltenborg said.

According to police reports, after her mother left a $40 donation on an altar on May 6, Guevarra took the woman to another room and had intercourse with her. ``He told her, 'This will be how I get the demons out of you,''' Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Baglivi said.

Later Guevarra told the woman she was harboring two demons and if she did not return for further treatment, she and other members of her family would die by December, the prosecutor said. The woman returned on May 12 and again had sex with Guevarra, Baglivi said.

``She did believe she had a demon, but we believe he took advantage of her,'' Stoltenborg said. Police suspect other women in the area were also deceived. ``He had quite a good little side business going,'' the detective added.

Local Philippine-born residents told police that holistic medicine using oils, herbal teas and healing techniques involving touching was common in their homeland ``but sex isn't supposed to be part of it and isn't sanctioned,'' Stoltenborg said.

Guevarra was returned to jail. He faces 10 years in prison on two counts of sexual assault if convicted.

William Harris on ABC "20/20" & "Good Morning America" Segments

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com
CONTACT: Kevin Christopher,
Public Relations Director, CSICOP

Amherst, NY (Friday, AUGUST 10, 2001)--On Monday, August 13, ABC will be airing segments featuring the intercessory prayer research of Dr. William Harris, professor and director of the Metabolism and Vascular Laboratory at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. The segments will appear on "Good Morning America" between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and on "20/20 Downtown" at 8pm EST. Today CSICOP has published an online transcript of the March 13, 2001, University of Missouri debate between Dr. Harris and Irwin Tessman, PhD, of Purdue University. See


Dr. Harris and colleagues conducted the famous recent study on intercessory prayer titled, "A Randomized, Controlled Trial of the Effects of Remote, Intercessory Prayer on Outcomes in Patients Admitted to the Coronary Care Unit," published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (1999; vol. 159: 2273-2278). Harris et al. concluded that "Remote, intercessory prayer was associated with lower CCU [cardiac care unit] scores," and that "The result suggests that prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care."

The Harris et al. study is part of a growing number of attempts to investigate and validate paranormal and supernatural forms of alternative medical treatment through blinded and controlled clinical studies. The seminal work behind this research trend is the the 1988 study of Dr. Randolph C. Byrd of the San Francisco General Medical Center published his seminal study in this line of research in the Southern Medical Journal (1988; 81: 826-829). A goal of the Harris et al. study was "to attempt to replicate Byrd's findings by testing the hypothesis that patients who are unknowingly and remotely prayed for by blinded intercessors will experience fewer complications and have a shorter hospital stay than patients not receiving such prayer."

Dr. Tessman co-authored a critique of Byrd's and Harris' research in an article for the March/April 2000 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. Among other things, Tessman showed how the Harris et al. study can only claim significant findings because results demonstrating no effect are set aside. The study is comprised of three tests: speed of recovery scores; MAHI-CCU scores; and outcome scores. Only the MAHI-CCU scores were significant (P = 0.04), and barely so. The speed of recovery scores indicate that prayer had no effect whatsoever (P = 0.28), contradicting Byrd's "landmark" study. He touches on these and other points in his March debate with Harris.

The online debate transcript contains over 16,000 words, so links to some of Tessman's points that will be of particular interest to skeptics are highlighted here:

1) Byrd's 1988 study was not at all properly blinded because his assistant, Janet Greene had access to all critical information during the study. See


2) Tessman again discusses how Harris et al. actually contradicts Byrd's finding, rather than confirming his results. See

3) Tessman examines the dropout rates on the first day of the Harris et al. study and find two interesting facts: 1) the test (prayed-for) group started with a significant advantage over the control (non-prayed-for) group, and 2) the test group actually lost its advantage during the course of the study. The hypothesis that prayer was, if anything, detrimental would be consistent with this evidence. See

Prayer research is booming, and, in fact, it has started to attract federal tax dollars through the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Martin Gardner has recently chronicled the research of Elizabeth Targ, daughter of 1970s parapsychologist Russell Targ, which claims significant results in the use of "distant healing"--which includes prayer--on patients. See

According to Gardner, Targ will receive over 200,000 dollars in first year of a three-year study of the effects of distant healing on AIDS patients. Gardner writes, "It looks as though Ms. Targ, over the next few years, will be receiving more than two million dollars of government funds for her research on remote healing, the cash coming from our taxes."

Articles of Note

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

Thanks to Joe Littrell, Steve Berthiaume, James Oberg, Ken Berry, Greg Martinez and Brian Poronsky

Man sues over burns suffered at fire-walking
By Alex Roth


A man who attended a Jacumba nudist convention a year ago and burned his feet in a fire-walking ceremony has filed a lawsuit accusing convention hosts of "misrepresenting to spectators that fire-walking was safe."

The Tricks Memory Can Play
By Robert Krulwich


"It was the day after the Oklahoma City bombing, and the FBI was desperate for leads on who parked the infamous Ryder rental truck outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building."

Paranoia for fun and profit
By Janelle Brown


"Alien technology salvaged from Roswell, N.M. Government experimentation on human subjects. Men in black, everywhere. Brain implants. A CIA conspiracy to take over the world. Sounds like your typical "X-Files" episode, but, of course, it's also simply another day on the World Wide Web."

Mary Celeste may reveal her secrets
Daily Telegraph


"DEEP in the waters of the Caribbean off Haiti lies the rotting hull of the Mary Celeste."

The Gong Show
By Emily Yoffe


"The Falun Gong exercise "Penetrating the Two Cosmic Extremes" is supposed to make me a better person, channel the energy of the cosmos through me, and improve the appearance of my crow's feet. I would like all these things to happen; I have actually spent a lot of time and money in pursuit of Item 3. But as I glide my arms up and down along my body, I find that instead of freeing myself of "mind-intent," the exercise is focusing me on this thought: What silly business Falun Gong seems, yet on the other side of the world people are tortured and killed for doing it."

Woman leaves $720,000 to psychic
Associated Press


"Two weeks before she died, Llewella Day willed an estate worth an estimated $720,000 to a spiritual healer who calls herself "The Voice of the Spirit World.""

'Faith healer' accused of coercing woman into having sex with him
Bergen Record


"The chronic pain in her leg stumped doctors, so the Maryland woman and her family turned to a Bergenfield "faith healer" for relief."

Con Man of the Year
By Thomas Francis
Cleveland Scene


"Clayton Krcal's lucrative career as a con man looked headed for an extended hiatus. He was caught in the act of his greatest scam -- collecting $350,000 for the sale of property he didn't own -- and thrown into the Cuyahoga County Jail."

Sweet spell of success
Boston Phoenix


"Last Wednesday afternoon, Diane Dalpe and Daphne Weld Nichols stood at the foot of the Green Monster and waved their smudge sticks. After this they burned long braids of sweet grass. For a grand finale, they placed a photograph of Babe Ruth in a bowl of broken glass, cut the end off a red candle, and dripped wax over the Babe’s image. "The reversal of the curse," says Dalpe, "took effect at that moment.""

Fortune telling
Boston Phoenix


"The way things look on Beacon Hill, it may take a magician to get the Clean Elections Law funded. And that could be what gubernatorial candidate Warren Tolman has in mind. Tolman, a former state senator from Watertown, hosted a fundraiser at his old law firm of Holland & Knight on Tuesday â€" featuring a psychic who just happened to be an old college classmate of his from Amherst."

Sweating It Out
By Terri Lagerstedt
New Mass. Media


"I'm not crazy and I am not the New Age equivalent of Born Again. I just thought that a two-and-a-half day workshop with Native American healer Great Bear would make an interesting adventure. I wanted to see how Native American mysticism and culture translated into modern-day living. What happened was not at all what I expected."

Rush Limbaugh Takes Aim
At UFO Politics
By Billy Cox
A Florida Today column


Judging from the brevity of the exchange, which was recorded by CNN on July 28, 2000, you can almost hear George W. Bush's eyeballs clicking against the socket ceilings.

Addressing the media horde as the Republican Convention in Philadelphia winds down, this one guy, Charles Huffer, manages to squeeze a response from the Texas governor. What the guv doesn't know is, Huffer's a state regional director for the Mutual UFO Network in Arkansas.

Miss Cleo Hot Line to Pay $75,000
Associated Press


"A television psychic hot line has been ordered to pay a $75,000 fine for violating Missouri's no-call law, the state attorney general said Wednesday."

The Onion


AL JIZAH, EGYPT--A team of British and Egyptian archaeologists made a stunning discovery Monday, unearthing several intact specimens of "skeleton people"--skinless, organless humans who populated the Nile delta region an estimated 6,000 years ago.

Town Rains Corn, Baffles Weather Experts


"Townspeople and weather experts were scratching their heads in puzzlement after large quantities of corn husks fell from the skies on Wichita, Kansas, over the weekend."

Astrology, aliens, and psychics, oh my!


They are the staple of tabloid headlines. Most people may find them laughable, but many still read the stories--and some still believe them. After all, it's science, right? Actually, it's not. What it is, is pseudoscience.

And in June, authors Charles Wynn and Arthur Wiggins (along with well-known science cartoonist Sidney Harris) are going to show you why these things are pseudoscience in their new book, QUANTUM LEAPS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION: WHERE REAL SCIENCE ENDS ... AND PSEUDOSCIENCE BEGINS.

QUANTUM LEAPS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION takes readers on a tour of the most notorious instances of pseudoscience and sets the record straight on the five most widely believed topics: ESP, astrology, out-of-body experiences, creationism, and the ubiquitous UFO. Each idea is reviewed in detail to see how well it stands up to scientific scrutiny. The book examines what's right about real science, and compares the pseudoscientific approach with the true scientific approach. It draws the line between ill-conceived notions and solid scientific methods.

Clear, concise (and often very amusing) explanations of what science is and isn't, along with cartoons by the legendary Sidney Harris, make this book wicked fun--and wicked smart.

"This is the most fun I have had with pseudoscience since I had my aura read by a psychic, walked across hot coals barefoot, and was abducted by aliens!"
-- Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine

QUANTUM LEAPS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION , which will hit bookstore shelves in June, is being published by the Joseph Henry Press, the trade imprint of the National Academy Press, publisher for the National Academy of Sciences.

If you're interested in receiving a copy of QUANTUM LEAPS for review or mention on your website or in a member newsletter/publication, or talking about a possible author appearance at an event, please contact me.


Robin Pinnel
National Academy Press / Joseph Henry Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20418
email: rpinnel@nas.edu
voice: (202) 334-1902
fax: (202) 334-2793 internet: www.nap.edu

Ghosts & Ectoplasm Captured by the Camera!

The American Museum of Photography
Ghosts & Ectoplasm Captured by the Camera!


A child whispers "I see dead people" and millions of moviegoers feel a chill go up their spines. More than a century ago, however, photographs of ghosts were greeted as joyous proof that the spirit survives after death. Were these images the result of manipulations -- or miracles? View this exhibit, weigh the evidence... then, you decide.

The American Museum of Photography's exhibition of spirit photography from 1868 - 1935 gives you three galleries devoted to ghosts and ectoplasm captured on film. The images chronicle spirit photography, starting with "technological marvels intended to amuse" to the international wave of spirit photography launched in 1868 when a Boston engraver claimed that he had taken actual photographic records of ghosts.

And just because they said I couldn't resist (they were right):

Suspicious wives in Japan are stopping their men from cheating on them--with the help of magical holy phalluses. Worried women head to the Yumizori Shrine in Kumamoto, a fertility temple with a two-meter long phallus as a centerpiece. Each buys a scaled-down version of it, and inscribes thereon her husband's name. The women then hammer nails into the phalluses--one for each year of their age. The result: The gods will ensure that the named husbands will be physically unable to commit adultery.


Sorry, no pictures accompany the article.


From: Raymond Nelke

The Anomalist
has just posted some new sources on its

*The Anomalist Newsline 2001*

Great source for - UFOs - Fortean - Cryptozoological - Paranormal - material

I highly recommend a LOOK SEE



From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

This is the biggest load of bull I've seen in a long time. My military experience doesn't correlate with many of the statements in this apparent Creative Writing 099 piece of writing. Evening parade? Hmmmm.




[No mention of or links at this shout-o-rama web site of this alleged event at Fort Benning, Georgia. - TWC]




UFO Magazine [UK]
May/June 1998

John Vasquez interviewed
by Graham Birdsall. (GWB)


Few among the hundreds present at Laughlin had ever come across a UFO witness by the name of John Vasquez before, myself included. John was not a speaker there, nor an established and recognised researcher. He had travelled from his home in California to seek help and advice on a matter of great personal concern. A select few researchers attended a private meeting, at which John related one of the most extraordinary incidents any of us had come across in years.

The mass abduction of an entire battalion of some 1,300 military personnel.

The next day John kindly agreed to re-tell his story again on camera for inclusion in our new video magazine series. 'UFOs: Hard Evidence.' I began by asking John why he had travelled several hundreds of miles to seek out UFO researchers...

"What I'm trying to do is convey reports and documents concerning Army intelligence at Ft. Mead, Maryland, and also my investigative report: letters from all the Army and Air Force departments concerning UFOs, or a 'J.A.W.S." test, an acronym for Joint Attack Weapons Systems and also a mysterious outbreak of measles at Ft. Benning, Georgia."

John then began to re-live an event which he said came "as a surprise to all of us". "It just happened. We were very frightened of this unusual light. This was a mass parade formation. There was 1,300 people."

Where was this exactly?

"This was at the 1st A.I.T. (Army Infantry Training) Battalion post, it was a combat training group, infantrymen. We're talking right now about September 2nd, 1977. I know it sounds really wild, but I started investigating this whole event in '91. And slowly I conducted my own personal investigation into this event at Ft. Benning. I've been Finding a lot of documents and quotes concerning an unusual event at Ft. Benning, because we had the Secretary of the Army, Clifford Alexander being present, at Ft. Benning.

"Normally it would have been someone from the Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general evaluating this JAWS test. And, I do have a JAWS test document at this time. It's written by the air force and I have the letter from them." [I did indeed see this letter and it was recorded on film - GWB]


"It was an evening parade. There were thirteen-hundred men. We had to account for the staff and captains and XO's [executive officers]. We were standing in formation and somebody in front of me mentioned something in the sky and I didn't think nothing of it because I was just looking at stars. So I said. "What is it'?" The guy in front of me said. 'Just keep looking'. So I did and all of a sudden this star moved, in a gradual, floating way. I thought it was a satellite. This sergeant, who was standing behind me asked. 'What do you think it is?' I just said. 'Satellite'.

"All of a sudden, this star just stopped, and then it moved away from us; came back and it moved again, stopped and moved away again, came back, and continued on. At this time, the same sergeant ordered us to stand to attention, and you can't move at all then. But I kinda glanced up to see where this thing went. and it was gone.

"And this is when the captain, our captain of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry, was walking out of this building to make a speech. And this speech was to advise us of our 6-8 week training course. Just when he was walking to this podium to make his speech. I heard this "rushing' noise and I leaned back and looked across, to my left. I saw this bright light, an intense bright light. I thought it was a jeep, a truck or something. And it was moving across, slowly.


"I saw some of Charlie Company's men running out of their formation, others were standing still. So I needed to lake a better look at this. I leaned forward. When I leaned forward this bright light just got really close and it was headed between the tree-lines. And I still thought it was a truck, but the light was really, really intense. I mean, it's a white, bright light, and it had this bluish outline to it.

"I looked at this thing and I thought. 'I don't know what this is'. Well. the guy who was standing in front of me, I wanted to say something to him, ask him what it was, but when I looked at him, he was asleep. His head was bowed, his eyes were closed, he was asleep. So I leaned back again, I don't know what happened here, but I was unconscious for a few minutes.

"When I came to, I was looking down and I couldn't move. I couldn't move my feet. And I tried desperately to move from where I was standing. The next thing I did, I could move my upper body, so I turned to my right, and I saw some of the men running to the tree-lines and others were diving underneath the buildings, a two-storey-high cross-way, such as you see in the picture [left].

"My buddy Alan... running, they were all running. So I just cried out for Alan to come back and help me because I couldn't move. He came back and he pulled me physically from where I was standing, physically pulled me. He pulled my arm and I sort of 'jumped' from where I was standing.

"He was saying. 'Take cover! Take cover!' and I was asking, 'What's going on here?' you know ? There was something happening and it was happening fast. I told Alan. 'I want to see the captain', so we ran over to where the captain was and he was standing behind this podium. And he was asleep. His head was bowed and he wasn't moving.

"So I screamed. I screamed, "Wake up!' out loud. I mean. I screamed so loud I think everybody could have woke up. But there was a lot of guys still standing around in this formation and it was like they were motionless. The captain didn't wake up. 'TAKE COVER!"

"So about this time. Alan was turned around and is facing this thing, this light. I believe it was a light. And his face was really pale. I mean it's like he's just seen a ghost. His eyes were bulging and his jaw was open and I shook him. I told him. 'Don't look at it! Don't look at it!'. And he sort of came to and he was saying. 'What's going on'.'', like he was really confused.

"And we started to run, and when we started running to this first building, on the cross-base underneath, there was something moving and we didn't know what it was. So I told Alan to wait, get ready for it, we didn't know what it was. We'd seen the shadows moving underneath the building, and we're going to physically hurl this thing. Well it was one of us.

"He was coming out of the crawl space there and he was asking. 'What's going on'. 'What's going on?' We said. 'The captain's asleep! The captain's asleep!' And I guess there were some more there 'cos he turned his head and said 'The captain's asleep!'.

"So. we told him. 'Just take cover, get away from it!' And me and Alan started to run again and the guy crawled away from us. We came to this second building and at the far end of the barracks, it's a two-storey barracks. We heard some guys under there, they were calling our last names so we ran over there.

"We dove under this cross-face and we started arguing about what was going on. We couldn't believe things were happening this quick, but this is our reaction, in a hostile manner, because when something like this happens, you know, when people get excited over things...


"Then we saw Sgt. Santini come out from the first building that Alan and I had just crossed. And this ball of white light, from 50ft, we were laying down. It looked like the size of a melon, a small melon. But it was a bright, white light and it wasn't a tracer, 'cos I know, I've seen tracers before, I've fired my M16's and I know what tracers look like.

"But this wasn't a tracer. It sort of came from the second storey, and sort of "roller-coasted' down to Sgt. Santini's height. And Sgt. Santini's about 5 feel 11 inches, 6 foot, and he was waving his arms up and down, screaming about what's going on, telling us to take cover and cursing the sky, because something was coming down.

"And he started to run and he disappeared in the second building. And this bright light just sort of "roller-coasted" down to his height and zipped across - then it disappeared. And the next thing we heard was a "slap" and a 'thump'.

"And one of us, Hackett, crawled over to the other side to see where Sgt. Santini was and he was "out" on the pavement. He didn't move. Apparently he was knocked out or something. Something hit him.

"When Hackett came back, this is when we started hearing the screaming. From Alpha Company, all the way down to Bravo, then to Charlie Company and to Delta. When it came to Delta Company, we heard somebody out in parade formation screaming.

'Mommy!', a high-pitched scream that went down to a grunting sort of scream. "I can still hear it when I talk about this, I mean, you hear a man screaming like that you know something's wrong.

"And I told Jones, who was sitting, laying next to me, I said we should go out there and help these guys because something's going on out there. But he just turned around and said, 'No, they're already dead, forget about it'.


"We started arguing again about these, we started arguing about where the M16's were and where the ammo' was. We were gonna' start deploying some of our defence tactics."

To defend yourselves?

"Yeah. And I told Alan, whatever happens, just try to go back to the Main Post and get some help. I was going to stay behind with Jones and Hackett.

"Well. during that argument we were having, we had one of the guy s crawl over and we asked him what was going on out there. And he said "It's lights'. We looked at each other as though to say: 'Lights? What kind of lights? Strange lights, what?'

"This was more intense light. I mean the whole place just lit, like it was day. And the windows, on the barrack buildings, these old windows and the frame and everything on the building itself, silhouetted. The light just silhouetted the whole thing, just weird, it was really weird.

"Just moving across slowly, across the second storey coming around, and we could see the guys in front of us underneath the building and we started pounding the ground and calling their names out, calling them out to get away from that thing, but they didn't move.

"So we just kept coming around and by the time this bright light came to the corner edge, I looked into it, I sort of "fixed" myself into this. And I don't know what it was, but it was like looking into one of those searchlights, right inside. And I guess I was hypnotized into watching this and Alan was grabbing my arm and shouting. "What is it Vasquez?", and I said, 'I don't know, but it's coming our way'."

Vasquez then described how he began to hear a 'voice' in his head. He looked down on the ground and saw a small frightened animal, which he labelled a 'possum'. He said he heard the animal ask, 'What is it?' and he answered back . 'I don't know'. His puzzled colleagues looked at him, saw the animal dart away and asked: 'Who are you talking to Vasquez?" He told them.

"Hackett, he's a native American, he told me: 'You know, you speak to Nature'.


"I don't know, everything strange was happening. And this bright light, it was so bright that underneath the building you could see the pipes, the boards, you could see everything. The whole place was illuminated. Everybody was afraid, and so was I. You know, honest, we're scared of this light, like little kids hiding in a comer.

"By this time I hear this voice, this echo sounded sort of far away and metallic-like, and it's telling me. 'It's OK, don't be afraid. come out'. Well, I didn't know who said that and I asked all the guys underneath, 'Who said it's OK? Who's saying it's OK?' And all the guys are looking at me, like, 'Where are you hearing this from Vasquez?'"

Vasquez told his friends that he kept hearing a voice telling him it was OK to come out. They crawled away from him, because they hadn't heard it. He told them to move towards the centre of the building, away from the light, and that he intended to go out and see for himself what was going on. Vasquez crawled out from underneath the building and headed for a grassy moll.

"I stood up and I looked to my left, and this bright, shiny, intense bright light was sitting in front of me. I saw this shadowy figure, kind of a little figure, scurry back into the light.


"/ was told to keep my eyes closed throughout this time and the next thing that happened I heard this female voice ask, 'Do you remember?'


I didn't know what that was, but when I lifted my left hand to shield the glare from this bright light, something hit my left shoulder, and it sounded like a fuse being blown. I go down, I reach with my hand for my friend. Hackett, and Hackett's screaming my last name, and I was reaching for him, but something else hit my back and I became unconscious.


"What I remember from here is that someone was telling me to keep my eyes closed. And I felt there was one person on my left, another person on my right. There was a cover over me and I was being lifted. My whole body felt tingly, real tingly, and the next thing that happened is a quick motion of two people, coming across my left and turning in unison and moving across, away from me and really fast.

"I was told to keep my eyes closed throughout this time and the next thing that happened. I heard this female voice ask. 'Do you remember?" And I said. 'Remember what?' And I didn't say a word. It was all mental communication.

"And when she heard me say, 'Remember what?'. I felt this deep concern come over her. Deep concern, like there was something wrong. The next thing. I had this physical exam, and after I was looking at this wall, and on the wall there was an insignia of some sort, a half-moon and a zig-zag of some sort."

Vasquez pulled a neck bracelet out from underneath his shirt collar. Here was the self-same design that he had crafted from memory and wore at all times.


And when I turned my head, I saw rows of men lying on a slab. At the 5th or 6th table, there were two things standing in back of me, and within just a split second, she just said, 'Got to sleep', and I did. The next thing I remember, this guy, I have to say it's a guy because I felt this was a male, he kept demanding for me to keeping at his eyes. And I didn't want to. I just didn't want to look at him because he scared me.

"And he said. 'There's nothing to be afraid...', or something like that. "Don't be afraid". And he kept demanding for me to look at his eyes. And I said. 'Only if it's going to help'. And he said. 'It will help'. I looked in his eyes and there were three images that I saw. One was myself, standing in an ocean, blue sky, and I'm standing in an ocean by myself.

"The other one was seeing a picture of the whole Earth being destroyed, coming apart, little by little. And the other one was an image of a human face, a pale, paste-white face, with a pupil like liquid mercury. And that's all I saw. I saw this face again. I became unconscious. The next thing I remember is that all of us were back in formation, everyone of us.


"All of us are back in formation in line, but I remember that Alan and I were standing at the 2nd line, but we'd come back to the 4th line. We were all disorientated. It's like... it felt like we'd drank 50 gallons of beer, because we were kind of weaving back and forth. And so was Alan, and so was everybody else.

"We did what you'd call. I guess, our own personal examination. 'How are we doing?' A lot of us were very disorientated, didn't know what was going on. I looked across and I saw Sgt. Turner, who was standing there in his summer uniform, parade dress. He had all his medals on, I thought that he had spilled coffee on his trousers, but apparently he had had an 'accident'. He cursed and walked away.

"We were told to go back to our barracks by Sgt. Newkirk, and I was wondering, 'Hey, we didn't have a speech from the captain yet. What happened to our speech?" Well. we never had a speech and we started walking back, and some of us started falling down. We lost balance and I fell down too because everything was spinning, and that was unusual. And when I got up I started to walk away.

"Some of the people, some of the guys who'd been in formation, started getting sick, started vomiting, getting sick, falling down, like we lost all control of balance. When I came to the first building, I stopped and I looked at my watch. And my watch stopped at 7.40. I asked Jones, who was standing next to me, what time he had and he said he had 3.30. And he asked his friend who was standing right by, he said it was 4.45. All of our watches stopped.

"I got sick then. I got real sick. I don't know why, but I got back to my barracks and there were guys in there acting real odd, like some kind of drug-induced state or whatever. But they were acting really weird. Alan was sitting on his bed, gazing at the wall, it was like, he was "gone".

"I opened up my locker, and I was about to take my shirt off, when I noticed my shirt was unbuttoned at the top, my trousers button were open. But the funny thing is that my boots, the combat boots that you wear have eight holes. Well. it was laced through the fourth one and it came to a large, criss-cross at the end, and a sort of bow-tie.

"And I told myself. 'I know I didn't go out there like that... I know I didn't do this'. Because the drill sergeant would have said something, he would have been the first to scream and yell and say. 'What are you doing out here like this Vasquez?'

"Well. I told myself. 'I know I didn't do this', so I started changing my clothes, taking my clothes off, my trousers, and I found like a paste-glue, around my trousers. I wiped that off and wiped it off myself too. I don't know what that was." A CHAIN OF EVENTS

John Vasquez then told me how he had begun to recall most of what had transpired at Ft. Benning over a decade later in 1989.

As his memory slowly resumed, he began to research and investigate the strange happenings in 1991, beginning with a request for San Diego-based US Congressman Cunningham, to instigate an official inquiry on his behalf. The Congressman wrote to the US Army's National Personnel Records Centre in St. Louis, Missouri, requesting John's military file, known as a '201'.

They wrote back stating that some documents pertaining to Vasquez's military career were missing, but crucially, they claimed to have no records of Vasquez having served at or visited Ft. Benning, either in a full or temporary capacity.

Vasquez immediately set about the task of discovering the truth about what he and his fellow colleagues experienced that fateful day. Using his own money, he single-handedly wrote to the USAF, the US Army, the Joint Chief's press office, Ft. Sam Houston in Texas, the President's office and the Vice-President's office.

He also contacted numerous other departments, including health departments and the Surgeon General's office. Vasquez wrote to the latter because on sifting through local newspapers of the time, he discovered one whose headline shot off the page: "Measles Outbreak Strikes Post's Troops"

It was referring to a reported outbreak of measles at Ft. Benning. More to the point, they were referring to his battalion, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry.

Other health departments had previously advised Vasquez to contact the Walter Reid Medical Center in Washington D.C., who should have had details about the outbreak. He corresponded with a Dr. Rugal. Ph.D., who. on reading copies of the newspaper reports concerned, wrote back and said: "This is an unusual outbreak. There are no records."

Dr. Rugal told Vasquez that his main concern was that Walter Reid never sent a medical team to study the supposed outbreak, some thing they would have been automatically required to do had it been genuine. "We should have," wrote Dr. Rugal, "it's a whole battalion."

Another local newspaper at the time made mention of the fact that a JAWS test had been conducted at Ft. Benning.


PHOTOGRAPHS OF TWO LETTERS/FORMS: These hitherto classified UFO documents, derived from our extensive files, suddenly open up new avenues for research into the interesting aspect of psychological warfare and the role of Ft. Meade.



On 23 October 1997. John Vasquez received a response to an inquiry made to the Joint Staff Panel. They maintained no knowledge of a JAWS test having ever been conducted at Ft. Benning. This was reiterated in similar fashion from officials at Ft. Benning itself, and Ft. Meade. But Vasquez had already received written confirmation from the USAF that a JAWS test had indeed been conducted at the base in question.

That document, which I have seen (and was recorded on camera), is now the focus of some considerable attention.

Vasquez has been told that the document is no longer available to the public, that anyone requesting it will be denied, even through a Freedom of Information Act request. He has also been discreetly contacted by telephone. A USAF official asked: "Can we please have our 'JAWS' document back?"

In return, the official offered to provide Vasquez with 300 UFO documents. How old they were and what relevance they had, was anyone's guess, but some, Vasquez was told, referred to 'Roswell'.


No amount of printed words here can come remotely close to matching the powerful impression left on those who have seen our video tape recording of the interview with John Vasquez, from which these quotes were derived. It is, without question, an extraordinary tale, but unlike so many ex-military personnel who have come forward down the years with equally bizarre stories. John Vasquez's credentials are different, and in so many positive ways:

No, Vasquez is equally intrigued by the possibility that a secret JAWS test was deliberately conducted against an unwitting battalion of seasoned troops to gauge their reaction.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that US military personnel have been used as guinea pigs to test covert experimental 'hard-ware', but might it be a 'first' for helping to provide factual evidence that 'UFOs' have been deployed in some form of mass psychological weapons test.

Certainly, JAWS could not be construed as a defensive mechanism; the very meaning of the term 'Attack' suggests that it has potent offensive capabilities.

If this was used on the unsuspecting 1,300 officers and men of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, the ramifications could be profound, not least for those soldiers who possibly suffered long-term effects.

Is India's "Boy Wonder" Tathagat Avtar Tulsi a fake?

Thanks to:
for the source of this story



COPIED FROM: expressindia.com - AUGUST 7, 2001


Press Trust of India

New Delhi, August 7: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has admitted that it made a blunder sending Tathagat Avtar Tulsi to Germany last June for an "interaction" with physics Nobel laureates without verifying the credentials of the "child prodigy".

The DST has been shocked to learn that India's "Boy Wonder" is not what he claims to be. It says Tulsi and his father, Narayan Prasad, used the occasion for self-publicity, making a nuisance of themselves before the Nobel laureates, embarrassing the rest of the Indian team and bringing disgrace to Indian science.

"We realise it was a mistake," V. Ramamurthi, DST secretary admitted when told that fellow scientists in the Indian delegation found the child prodigy to be a fake, like Ramar Pillai who, five years ago, claimed he could turn water into petrol by mixing it with a secret herb.

The "Physics Prodigy" from Patna was not in the original list of 16 young Indian researchers, identified through a rigorous selection process by a committee chaired by former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R. Chidambaram on the basis of their qualifications, research proposals and recommendation by their peers.

Tulsi's name was added in the last minute simply on the basis of what a senior DST official said, "the image projected by the media that this boy, who received a master's degree in science at the age of 11, is a genius and a potential Nobel laureate".

Ramamurthi denied any political pressure and said the decision to send Tulsi to Germany was DST's own "with the good intention of nurturing young talent".

DST officials, however, regretted they did not check the boy's degree or age certificates—Tulsi has been claiming to be 13 for several years. They simply swallowed his claims in newspapers that he has modified Einstein's equations of gravitation and "discovered" a new fundamental particle which has "consciousness" that explains dark matter in the universe.

"To me, he looked like a kid who was forced to mug up a lot of physics," P.P. Rajeev, a research scholar in the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and one of the members of the team said. "He was just using some jargons without knowing their meanings."

Tulsi who, after his German trip, came to PTI with his father and a handful of German newspaper clippings, refused to show his book on "electro-gravity unification", claimed to have written when he was 10 or his BSc or MSc certificates from Patna university—which he says he got without attending a single laboratory class.

"Why do you ask?" he retorted. "The book is sold out. And the fact I passed the National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is proof that I have an MSc degree.

An enquiry with CSIR revealed Tulsi scraped through the test qualifying him for a lecturership, but not fellowship, which requires higher marks. It was also revealed that a candidate is not required to show the MSc degree while taking the NET.

Tulsi's claims of having "impressed" three Nobel laureates with his "discussions" about his theories and that he had been offered a fellowship at one of the prestigious Max Plank institutes in Germany also turned out to be a fabrication.

"I was aware that there was a 14-year old Indian boy in the group but I am afraid I cannot say whether or not I spoke to him," Douglas Osheroff of Stanford University, one of the Nobelists Tulsi claimed to have impressed, informed PTI in an email. Osheroff added he also felt "sorry for the boy" after he heard that his "parents have been grooming him to be a Nobel laureate".

Jack Steinberger, another Nobelist mentioned by Tulsi simply had "no recollection" of having met him. Brian Josephson of Cambridge University the only Nobelist who remembers the Indian prodigy said: "I did indeed talk a bit with Mr Tulsi on the last day at Lindau--he certainly has a lot of ideas but whether they are ideas that actually can go anywhere I cannot say... I believe Tulsi was there at the official discussion session but he did not participate probably out of shyness."

PTI invited comments from each of the 16 members of the Indian delegation and most of them responded with one common message that Tulsi kept mainly to his father and the German press. He refused discussing with fellow Indian scientists about his theories on the excuse that "his well-wishers do not want him to do so."

New "Center for Inquiry-Metro New York" Opens

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

We are pleased to announce the opening of new offices of the Center for Inquiry in the New York/New Jersey area and the renaming of the Center as "Center for Inquiry-Metro New York."

The new offices at 19 Walnut Street, Montclair, New Jersey, will be officially launched at a grand-opening luncheon meeting on Sunday, September 23rd, at Friar Tuck's Restaurant, 691 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove, New Jersey 07009-1211, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many important speakers will be present. Friar Tuck's restaurant is two miles from the offices (see announcement of the event on page 2). Reservations are required.

A second, stunning meeting will be held at the New York Academy of Sciences, cosponsored by CSICOP and the Center, on 2 East 63rd Street in Manhattan, on the topic, "Intelligent Design: Pro and Con," on Thursday, November 1st from 2 to 5 p.m., may we invite our readers to attend.

We are pleased that Barry Seidman, a veteran skeptic and secular humanist, who has been coordinating events for several months, will head up the new Center as executive director. Barry has written articles for the Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry, and has inexhaustible energy.

Purpose of the Center for Inquiry-Metro New York.

The goal of the Center is to convene programs specifically designed for skeptical inquirers and secular humanists. Cosponsored by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), publisher of the Skeptical Inquirer, and the Council for Secular Humanism (CSH), publisher of Free Inquiry, the Center will (1) encourage the application of reason and science and free inquiry to all areas of human interest, (2) question the sacred cows of society and cultivate critical thinking, and (3) provide a place for skeptics and humanists to meet with like-minded individuals. We are building new secular and rationalist communities.

Both CSICOP and CSH have separate agendas: CSICOP deals with science and the paranormal, CSH with religion and ethics. Though both have separate agendas, we will share resources at the Center, as we do at our Centers in Amherst, New York and Los Angeles. Free Inquiry and the Skeptical Inquirer have approximately 7,000 readers within a 75-mile radius of Greater New York (New York City, North Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County, and western Connecticut, and southeastern Pennsylvania). Moreover, there are thousands of additional supporters in the region. We are developing the largest freethought movement in the history of the United States!

Our eventual goal is to buy or build a permanent headquarters for a Center for Inquiry in New York City itself -- the financial and media capital of the world. If not New York City, where else? And if not now, when? Our long-range goal, as I said, is to build similar Centers all over North America. Many are on the drawing boards

The Center for Inquiry movement is the first major effort of thoroughly nonreligious folk to find a home. We wish to make it clear that we are not negative nay-sayers; we wish to affirm that although we are skeptical of untested paranormal or religious claims, our goals are affirmative, constructive, positive. We wish to demonstrate the importance of critical inquiry for the understanding of nature and developing humanist values, and at the same time provide a home for skeptics and freethinkers, humanists and secularists.

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Skeptics Welcome at the Center for Inquiry-Metro New York
Barry Karr

I was looking through some old correspondence recently trying to gather some thoughts on the upcoming opening of the CFI-Metro New York office. What I found is that there has been a long, rich tradition of skeptical activity and CSICOP involvement in trying to promote skepticism in the area. I found a letter dated from March 1984 asking Skeptical Inquirer readers to join a new organization called "The New York Committee for Skeptical Inquiry" (NYCSI) headed by Andrew Skolnick and Terence Hines. A bit further on through the file, I found letters from a short three years later (February 1987) discussing the unfortunate disbanding of the group. Later, in the Fall of that same year, CSICOP once again became involved in the resurrection of the skeptical movement in New York when Mark Plummer (the former CSICOP Executive Director) and I traveled down to New York for a series of weekend meetings with a newly convened association of skeptics -- the New York Area Skeptics (NYASk). What a weekend that was-the bad boys of magic (and famously skeptical) Penn and Teller showed up for the inaugural event, as did Jesse Dylan and a host of other concerned skeptics. From those meetings a strong core of supporters gathered around a dynamic New York City attorney by the name of Joel Serebin and the new group has been going strong ever since.

Now, 14 years later, I find myself about to travel to the Metro area again to help launch the latest effort to build and expand skepticism in the Metro area. We plan on working very closely with our great friends at NYASk to help expand their group, provide support for their activities and participate in the community by staging even more skeptical programs then they alone can provide. We believe that for skepticism to really grow in the tri-state region it requires a full-time commitment, paid staff and physical, permanent roots in the community. The new Center for Inquiry-Metro New York will provide something which a group of very hard-working skeptics, or a magazine like the Skeptical Inquirer, cannot provide alone -- that is a place where people can go to meet one another, pick a book up out of the skeptical library, engage in a host of intellectual and social events.

We hope you will help us to bring this permanent home of skepticism to you. Our doors will always be open -- come on in.

Barry Karr is executive director of both the Center for Inquiry and CSICOP.

The Gala Grand Opening of the Center for Inquiry- Metro New York!

Paul Kurtz
Barry Karr
Tom Flynn
Ed Buckner
Kenneth Livingston
Matthew Alper

Sunday, September 23rd, 11a.m.-4 p.m.

Come join us at the Friar Tuck Inn on Route 23 North (691 Plompton Avenue) in Cedar Grove, NJ. Admission is only $29, including luncheon.

Please RSVP by calling (973) 655-9556.

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Intelligent Design
A Debate between Dr. WILLIAM DEMBSKI (nationally prominent advocate of inteligent design) and Dr. MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI (among America's leading defenders of evolution)

Thursday, November 1st, 2-5 p.m.

At the New York Academy of Sciences, 2 East 63rd Street, Manhattan 10021.

Reviews: Strange Creations; Kooks

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com


Strange Creations; Kooks (2nd edition)
Both by Donna Kossy
Feral House 2001

Strange Creations ISBN: 0922915652
Kooks ISBN: 0922915679

The disturbed and unhappy eccentric writers and visionaries described by Donna Kossy are sitting targets past and present for sceptical intellectual eugenics as practiced by the grown-up "meaningful" world. She portrays Charles Fort's "damned" folk whose crime is that they have wilfully dared to break some wretched rule of the "real". Confused, wounded, blinking at the light, they stumble from trains, and head for cultural extermination. They are flanked by camp-guards who, not suffering from any subjective illusions themselves, have rid their consciousness of all fantasy and self-deception. The guards have all been saved from the fate of the prisoners by Fact and Objectivity. This has protected them from Satan's tools of metaphysics, mystical and religious nonsense, and the dangerous contaminations of the creative imagination. They therefore can put their shoulders to the right wheel at the right time, and they have sworn not to bend spoons, levitate, talk to the dead, or see UFOs.


An Online Library of Literature

From: Terry W. Colvin


Classic books you can read on the internet. Authors dead over 75 years (over 50 years in Canada; dunno about elsewhere) lose copyright protection on their books in the U.S. and Europe.

Project Gutenberg is at


The Wolf Files: Psychic Shortcomings

Wednesday August 08 10:39 AM EDT
By Buck Wolf ABCNEWS.com


You probably couldn't predict that this is national psychic week. Neither could many of the other clairvoyants The Wolf Files contacted.

I want to believe in the supernatural. But how can I? National Psychic Week kicks off in August and many professional psychics don't even know it exists.

"I guess it's just not on my radar," said David Felder of the Zodiac Group, a psychic telemarketing group in Florida that has used Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who sued former President Clinton (news - web sites), as a spokeswoman.

The Zodiac Group promises "accurate answers from caring psychic advisers for life's tough questions." Yet it's hard to explain why there's no awareness of National Psychic Week among Felder's psychics.

Apparently glancing at his desk calander as he speaks to me over the phone, he said, "I see today is a bank holiday in Ireland."

Pressed for further explanation, Felder rushed me off the phone. "I'm actually expecting a call," he said. "May I call you back in five minutes?"

I never heard from him again. And I tried. Twice.

Only one of the five clairvoyants The Wolf Files contacted knew about the event - Fran Baskerville of Dallas, known to believers as "The Singing Psychic."

"Oh, it is so wonderful that our profession is honored," said Baskerville. "Some people look down on us." Baskerville claims she developed her special powers in 1979, after she was hit by an 18-wheel truck while parked outside her beauty parlor in a Chevy Impala.

"It ruptured an artery in my head. After that - strange things began to happen and I could see with new eyes."

The Ghost of a Liar

This is not the first time The Wolf Files has quizzed psychics about National Psychic Week. Back in August 1998, The Wolf Files asked Gail Summer, president of the American Association of Professional Psychics, if she had any special plans for the big event.

"Wow, this was a complete surprise to me," Summer said. But she explained that "just because we're clairvoyant doesn't mean we know everything. We're psychics, not gods."

Summer is the blond woman on late-night TV who urges folks to see "certified" psychics, like the ones available through 900-lines, who will tell you your future for $3.99 a minute. As you might predict, your future will begin with big phone bills.

How, then, did National Psychic Week begin? And is it all a scam?

Hard-driving Hollywood press agent Richard R. Falk dreamed up National Psychic Week in 1965. But Chase's Calendar of Events and similar references don't explain why. It's a mystery Falk apparently took to his grave in 1994, after half a century of outlandish PR.

Falk had a talent for bombastic publicity stunts. One of his specialties was dreaming up spicy names for aspiring starlets - such as Suzie Sunshine, Sugar Cane and Hope Diamond. One client modeled an edible bikini made of frankfurters. Needless to say, none of those ventures hit it big.

To ballyhoo the arrival of a flea circus, Falk booked a room for the star flea - "The Great Herman" - in New York's Waldorf-Astoria. Such antics inspired New York Mayor Robert Wagner to dub Falk "The Mayor of 42nd Street."

50 Percent of the Truth

"You need a press agent when you have something that's 50 percent real," he told The New York Times in 1991. "You make it a little fantastic or humorous, bring in enough pseudo-facts and the papers will buy it. I always say that everything I write is guaranteed to be 50 percent true."

With that sort of resume, you'd think Falk instituted National Psychic Week in 1965 as another publicity gimmick. After all, one of his clients claimed to be a "Psychic to the Stars."

But the truth behind National Psychic Week remains murky. Fortunately, back in 1998, a psychic belonging to Summer's association offered The Wolf Files a telephone séance to communicate with Falk and ascertain his intentions.

"I have a clear picture of him. I see a man with a great smile and intense eyes," said Barbara Gable, a Baltimore medium. "This man has a great sense of humor. But he tells me he believes in National Psychic Day. - He is a believer in the paranormal."

My Future in Song

Summer said she founded the psychic association in 1992 to certify psychics such as Gable and make sure they are ethically serving the public. The association, incidentally, has trademarked the term "Certified Psychic" and issues "accuracy certificates" to its members.

The séance concluded with Gable announcing that Falk happily resides in the afterlife. Falk didn't mention, however, if he had ever finished the autobiography he once claimed he was working on, which was to be titled Liar for Hire.

Many years before he contracted lymphoma, Falk wrote his own epitaph: "Famed Flack Who Exploited and Promoted Stars and Shows Finally Gets His Reward."

Worried about my own future, I asked Baskerville, the singing psychic, to croon to me about my fate.

"Wait," she said, "let me get my guitar."

And then she sang:

"Hey, Hey, Hey, Buck Wolf,
I see a career change, a-comin' soon.
Money-money-honey and great success, a-headin' down your way.
There'll be hot lovin',
A beauty of a wife - a baby girl, and a boy, too.
Beware your anger, and to your friends, always be true."

A true love, success and children! For me! There must be something to this after all! How dare anyone call this is bunk! I'll see you in the future.

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.


Today's Headlines - August 7, 2001

from The Associated Press

BOSTON - Concerned that drug companies have too much influence over medical research, the world's top medical journals plan to set a new policy that gives final say on the conclusions of medical studies to researchers who conduct the work, not the drug companies that pay for them.

The editor of one journal said the rules, which will be published next month, will give scientists "a lot of clout they don't have now" when dealing with drug company sponsors.

The new rules will require that authors of studies have control over the content of reports submitted for journal publication and that they have access to all the data gathered.

The stakes in such research are enormous, because drug studies often cost tens of millions of dollars to conduct. Their conclusions can determine whether new medicines get approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as how those already on the market are prescribed by physicians.


Below are stories from The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, both focusing on related important findings by two teams of astronomers. One gets top billing in New York, while the lead is inverted in the Los Angeles paper.

from The New York Times

A team of astronomers announced yesterday that it had found what it called the cosmic renaissance, the epoch in which starlight first began streaming freely through the universe.

The announcement was made a few days after another team reported that it had discovered the cosmic dark ages, a time before stars and galaxies began shining.

The new finding appears to strengthen the scientific case that after decades of searching, telescopes on Earth have finally looked far enough back in time to glimpse the epoch in which stars and galaxies first formed. It comes from a team led by Dr. S. George Djorgovski, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology.

But while last week's announcement, by members of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a team involved an apparent peek into the dark ages themselves, the latest observations amount to a snapshot of part of the universe just over a hundred million years later.


from The Los Angeles Times

A multinational team of astronomers said Monday they have peered for the first time into the "dark ages" of the universe--an epoch so ancient that the stars and galaxies now sparkling throughout the night sky had yet to form.

The finding suggests that after the universe formed some 13 billion years ago, it remained a foggy wasteland for 900 million years. Only then did the gas that pervaded the universe after the Big Bang begin to coalesce into stars and galaxies.

"It took a long time--900 million years--for gravity to get its act together and start clumping the gas together," said Robert Becker, a professor of physics at UC Davis and researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that made the finding. The team includes members of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an ambitious project to map a swath of the sky and catalog 200 million celestial objects. The discovery was made by studying the most distant object known, an energetic quasar detected by the Sloan survey in April that is 14.5 billion light-years from Earth. (Objects that might seem older than the age of the universe--13 billion years--are not. The universe has expanded with time so that older objects are now farther from us than when they formed.)


Here is another case of two outlets covering the same stories and choosing different leads. This time the coverage centers on a panel convened by NAS to discuss the future of cloning technology, and a group of the panel members who plan to go ahead with plans to clone humans.

from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Since the day in 1997 that scientists in Scotland announced the successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly, the fear of -- or hope for -- human cloning has been a major focus of discussion, and of legislation in many countries banning the practice.

Citing widespread confusion about human cloning and the complex ethical issues it raises, the National Academy of Sciences is bringing an international panel of scientists together today for a discussion of the technology and where it may be heading.

Meanwhile, debate swirls around the potential for human cloning. At least three researchers scheduled to attend the meeting have said they plan human cloning experiments.


from The Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- An Italian doctor and a U.S. researcher claim they will implant cloned human embryos in 200 female volunteers within the next few months, an effort that would mark the first known attempt at human cloning, and which is sure to complicate an already tangled debate in Congress over the procedure.

The two researchers, who say they are working with an international team of scientists, are acting outside the system of scientific review that applies to most reputable research, so it is impossible to assess the validity of their claims. Nonetheless, the announcement has drawn broad international condemnation on grounds that human cloning is unethical and would lead to deformed or otherwise unhealthy children.

The researchers, Dr. Severino Antinori, a well-known Italian fertility doctor, and Panos Zavos of Lexington, Ky., had announced plans in January to clone couples who cannot have children by other means. On Monday, they said they would begin producing cloned embryos in November with the goal of initiating pregnancies in 200 women, including some from the United States. The researchers said they will lay out more details today at a conference on cloning at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.


from The New York Times

It is the height of summer, and the mosquito is out and about, determined to spoil everyone's good time.

But for millions of people, including thousands in this country each year, the mosquito is far more than a pest. For them this insect - a quarter-inch long and weighing a tiny fraction of an ounce - carries serious disease and sometimes death. Mosquitoes and the malaria they carry may even be the leading impediment to economic growth in the developing world. And, medical science is learning, mosquitoes are full of surprises.

Two years ago, New Yorkers learned what Dr. Andrew Spielman calls the first law of mosquitoes: expect the unexpected.

Until August 1999, most city residents found mosquitoes but occasional summertime pests, to be endured perhaps at an evening concert in Central Park. Then came the news that, somehow or other, a native mosquito, Culex pipiens, the so-called common house mosquito that hangs out in storm sewers and sump pumps but rarely bites people, had acquired an exotic virus that could cause a fatal brain infection, West Nile encephalitis. The virus, named for its discovery in 1937 in the blood of a feverish woman in the West Nile district of Uganda, had never before been seen on this side of the Atlantic.


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