NTS LogoSkeptical News for 14 August 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Kensington Runestone supporters find another carved rock

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

This rock just won't go away. I fall somewhere between skeptical and fascinated. I've seen this rock a couple of times. It's an interesting idea that has lived in local history and I would say pride as well due to the overwhelming Scandinavian population of Minnesota. Having no Scandinavian blood in me here makes me practically an outsider.

If anyone on the list ever gets a chance to see this rock in person, please share your thoughts. It does remain a mystery in that, it's appearance is such that as the article says of the new find. It could have been carved 600 years ago or yesterday. Meticulous scrutinization or examination of the carved bits should be able to prove or dis-prove the age or the cuttings, but there never seems to be any study results made public. Hmmmm?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian Chapman" wt046@victoria.tc.ca


Minneapolis Star Tribune | 11 Aug 2001

Kensington Runestone supporters find another carved rock

Peg Meier
Star Tribune

KENSINGTON, MINN. -- A team of Minnesotans who believe the famous Kensington Runestone is authentic has found a second carved rock; the groups says it might have marked the gravesite of Viking explorers in the 1300s.

Janey Westin, a member of the seven-person Kensington Runestone Scientific Testing Team, said she noticed a faint inscription on a boulder in May. "Oh my gosh! That stone -- it has writing on it," she remembers saying softly to herself. Because the stone bears the Latin letters "AVM," perhaps for Ave Maria, the team is calling it the AVM stone.

The team says the AVM stone is "new evidence" to help prove the legitimacy of the Kensington Runestone. However, it does little to persuade those scientists and historians who believe that the inscription on the first runestone is fraudulent.


Sigur Ros, Agaetis Byrjun (2001)

Spooklights: Where to Find Them

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com


Spooklights: Where to Find Them

Are they ghosts, UFOs or some unexplained natural phenomenon? Perhaps you'd like to go observe one and decide for yourself.

"I just read a rather non-derisive article on abcnews.go.com (strange, for the snooze news) on moving lights sighted over New Jersey by at least 15 people. The photo they show bears a striking resemblance to the Phoenix lights. (The AZ public is still POed about the derisive reaction to those, and the non-explanation that followed.) People who observed these New Jersey lights described these orange orbs variously as UFOs, 'a miracle' and 'very peaceful.'"

They appear in the distance with a regularity that seldom disappoints those who come to view them. Glowing in the night with an eerie, soft color, they sometimes pulse, sometimes dance about, usually near the ground or horizon. Their source is a mystery. When the curious try to approach them, they vanish, as if purposely keeping their true nature a secret.

Theyre called "spooklights" or "ghost lights" and they have baffled observers for centuries. Many theories have been offered to explain their presence, including hallucinations, UFOs, automobile headlights (either direct or reflected), ball lightning, electrical discharges caused by tectonic forces, swamp gas and even, as the name implies, ghosts.

Continuously appearing spooklights are found around the world. Here is a roundup of several of the most well-known spooklights. Perhaps there is one near you.

Big Thicket Ghost Light

This light can be found along Black Creek near the old ghost town of Bragg in eastern Texas. Viewed on a dirt road that leads into swamp land, this spooklight carries the well-known but almost certainly fictitious legend of the railway brakeman who was accidentally beheaded by a passing train and who now searches the area for his head with a gas lantern; the spooklight is said to be that lantern. The tale is folklore that has been attributed to several spooklights. The Big Thicket Ghost Light has been described as starting as a pinpoint of light among the swamp trees that grows to the brightness of a flashlight, then dims and fades away. Its color has been likened to that of a pumpkin.
Website: [71]Ghost Light of the Big Thicket

Brown Mountain Lights

Sightings of these lights go back at least 800 years when the native Cherokees thought them to be the spirits of slain warriors. That these lights go back so far rules out any man-made illumination, such as auto headlights. The lights have since been well documented by subsequent residents of the area. There have been dozens of observations by explorers, some dating back to the 1700s, and by Civil War soldiers; several newspaper reports and magazine articles have been written about the lights. They have been described as being white, yellow or red; some say they are stationary while others testify that they move around. According to the L.E.M.U.R. team, which has studied and photographed the lights, they often "line up into 'troop formation' and 'march' across the ridge, disappearing over the top." The peak time for viewing is in the Fall. Websites:
[72]The Brown Mountain Lights website offers photographs, history, directions and a map.
[73]The Brown Mountain Lights.

Dovedale Light

Strange lights are said to dance above the river in the scenic "Peak District" of the UK. One notable encounter took place in March, 1993 when two students watched two very bright round lights of unknown origin "dance" above the river in perfect synchronization. They watched the lights for about three minutes and estimated that they moved from between 10 to 100 feet above the surface of the river. The lights were again seen by more witnesses several months later.
Website: [74]The Peakland Spooklights

The Gurdon Light

This ghost light has been seen by hundreds of witnesses who live near or travel to the area around this small Arkansas town about 75 miles south of Little Rock. Seen along a stretch of railroad tracks, this light is also explained with the "headless brakeman" legend. Because of its remote location (you have to hike about 2-1/2 miles off the road to the spot where it can be seen) auto headlights have been eliminated as a possible cause. Those who have seen it say it is usually white or blue in color, and sometimes orange. One distinguishing feature is that it has a distinctive border to it.
Website: [75]Haunted Arkansas: The Gurdon Light

The Hebron Light

Hebron has been home to the mysterious Hebron Light for decades. One of the most remarkable incidents involving the light occurred in July, 1952 when two officers of the Maryland State Police allegedly chased a 10-inch ball of light down a dark road in their patrol car. There have been sporadic sightings of the light before and since, but many say that it has been inactive since the mid-1960s.
Website: [76]The Hebron Light and Others

Hessdalen Valley Lights

The lights seen in this valley in central Norway were first noticed in 1981. The appearances seemed to start suddenly with the unexplained lights winking on throughout the valley near people's homes and beneath the ridges of the surrounding mountains. Most of the lights were described as spheres, although some witnesses also reported cone shapes. Various colors were attributed to them, but the predominant hues were white or yellow-white. Blue flashes of light appearing in groups of three and forming a triangle were also seen. Østfold College has undertaken a study of the phenomenon.
Website: [77]Project Hassdalen

The Hornet Spooklight (Tri-State Spooklight or Joplin Spooklight)

Located on the very northeast corner of Oklahoma, where the state borders Kansas to the north and Missouri to the east, in an area sometimes called "The Devil's Promenade," you can find the Hornet Spooklight (otherwise known as the Tri-State Spooklight or Joplin Spooklight). This is a single glowing orb or "necklace of lights" that appears at the end of a dark gravel road. Sightings go back well over 100 years when settlers traveling by wagon train took note of the strange lights. Usually golden or red in color, it has also been described at times as yellow, orange, green or blue. One witness said that the light was so bright and close that it provided light for him to work by at night.
[78]Spooklight - provides a history and several anecdotes.
[79]The Tri-State Spooklight - offers a map and detailed directions.
[80]The Hornet Spooklight
[81]The Hornet "Spook Light

Next page [82]More Spooklights Page 1, [83]2
Copyright © 2001 About.com, Inc.


71. http://www.busprod.com/michael/spooklight/BigThicket.htm
72. http://www.brownmountainlights.com/
73. http://www.busprod.com/michael/spooklight/BrnMtn.htm
74. http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/peakland.htm
75. http://www.prairieghosts.com/gurdon.html
76. http://umbc7.umbc.edu/%7Efrizzell//Mysterious%5FLights/Hebron/body%5Fhebron.html
77. http://www.hiof.no/crulp/prosjekter/hessdalen/index.html
78. http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/conmag/1997/01/2.html
79. http://www.busprod.com/michael/spooklight/Ok%5Flight.htm
80. http://www.mysterylights.com/cases/hornet/
81. http://users1.ee.net/pmason/spook%5Flight.html
82. http://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa080601b.htm

The Scientific Outlook On Life

From: Ron Ebert ebert@citrus.ucr.edu

In case anyone's interested, I've put up an article on my web site with this title. It's at


Ron Ebert
UCR Physics Department

Montana Police Seek Help On Mysterious Cattle Mutilations



Police in Montana investigating cattle mutilations are so frustrated that they have asked the National Institute for Discovery Science, a Nevada research institute dedicated to the study of anomalies, for help. Ranchers in Dupuyer and Fort Shaw have reported four cattle deaths. The animals had parts of their faces peeled off and their eyeballs and genitals were removed. Police say that whoever is responsible for the attacks left few clues behind.

The killings are similar to several cattle deaths in the 1970s in the same general area of north central Montana, which also remain unsolved. Colm Kelleher, of NIDS, said the sheriff's office contacted them over the latest killings because "they'd heard about some of our previous research from a retired deputy sheriff in that area."

NIDS researches UFOs and related anomalous phenomena. It helped investigate the 1970s cattle mutilations and found a link between the killings and UFO sightings around Malmstrom Air Force Base. But Kelleher says while there is a link, they don't know who or what is behind the attacks. "Just because we found a statistical linkage between UFO sightings and animal mutilation, we are not drawing a direct link," he says. "We are completely undecided as to the perpetrators of these mutilations."

Dan Campbell, of Pondera County Sheriff's Department, says, "I don't believe in little green men."

The mutilations appear to be the work of the same culprit. On June 12 Don Reishus' son found a dead cow on the family ranch west of Dupuyer. The cow was missing the hide, nose and lips from the left side of the face. The cow 's left eyeball, udder, rectum, anus, genitals and part of the left ear also were cut out. The cow had been dead roughly one week.

Mark Taliaferro came upon a similar scene on his ranch west of Dupuyer on June 26. The skin was also peeled off the left side of the face and the nose, left eyeball, rectum, anus and genitals were missing. Again, part of the left ear had been cut off. The udder was intact. The killer left a strange pucker mark at the top of the left, front leg. This time the kill was only two to three days old. The sheriff's office sent the head to NIDS in Las Vegas.

Last weekend, rancher Jim Sullivan discovered a cow with a skinned face on his ranch near Dupuyer. Sheriff Campbell hasn't seen the carcass. Sunday, Steve Young discovered a dead cow with the tongue cut out on his ranch between Fort Shaw and Cascade. No hide was missing, but the cow's left eye, one teat, the genitals, rectum and anus were gone. The Reishus and Taliaferro ranches had similar cases in the 1970s, Campbell says. In all the cases, the cutting was clean and precise.

"Whatever cuts the hide is so sharp that it cuts the hairs and everything, there's no overlapping," says Reishus, whose son Robert discovered the ranch was one cow short when they moved the herd out of a pasture. He circled back through the pasture, found the carcass and dragged it into some trees where he thought scavengers would clean it up. But they never showed. "Nothing will touch it," Reishus says. "No bears, no coyotes, no magpies, not even the ravens."

The cow's blood appeared to have been drained, but there was little blood staining the ground, he says. Perhaps most puzzling was a strong, green discoloration found underneath the jaw of the cows on the Taliaferro and Young ranches. The streak extended from the jaw up to the top of the skull, Campbell says. The color did not appear to be caused by decomposition.

All the cattle were within 200 yards of a water source and within a mile of a road. Campbell doesn't have any theories about who might be responsible and says, "There's no answers for our questions yet."

He remembers hearing about the 1970s cases from his late father, Mike Campbell, who was a Pendroy-area rancher and livestock inspector and saw some of the carcasses. The bizarre spate of killings started with a report of a mutilated steer near Sand Coulee in late August 1974. By December 1977, Cascade County Sheriff Keith Wolverton and Teton County Sheriff Pete Howard and other county officers had investigated 67 mutilation cases in Cascade, Judith Basin, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera counties. As in the new cases, sex organs, eyes and ears were removed. The blood was often drained. The culprit left no tracks, even in mud and fresh snow.

Then, as now, the cases stumped investigators and grabbed headlines. "I think 500 people have asked me, ‘Well, what's doing it?'" Campbell says. "If I knew, I would get it in the paper."

Texas is being hit by cattle mutilations as well. According to a story by Jim Henderson, in the Friday, August 3 Houston Chronicle, ranchers are talking about a cult that drains the blood of the animals for use in satanic rituals. The sheriff believes most of the animals are dying of natural causes but admits he is perplexed by some of the circumstances. An investigator for a cattlemen's association believes some of the deaths are caused by thieves stealing body parts, rather than meat.

Whatever the cause, cattle have been turning up dead under what ranchers consider mysterious circumstances at almost predictable intervals â€" once or twice a year, around the time of Halloween or a religious holiday, such as Easter -- for nearly a decade. "I don't know what it is," says Johnny Lyon, who lost a valuable Charolais bull last Easter. "It could be a prankster, but if it is the other (a cult), it could be pretty dangerous."

Burleson, a hilly and wooded county about 60 miles northeast of Austin, is home to several small ranches where cattle often graze in thickets away from highways or other public vantage points. Often a carcass is not immediately discovered, which has made investigation difficult.

When Lyon found his bull at the rear of a 300-acre pasture, its abdomen had been split open and its genitals removed. He said that has been a consistent pattern in previous incidents.

Another rancher, whose family has lost several head of cattle in recent years, is so convinced that a cult is behind the deaths that he will speak only anonymously. There were no signs -- claw or teeth marks -- to suggest that his cow had been killed by a coyote or other predator, and "there was not a drop of blood on the body or the ground," the rancher says.

In all these cases, the cause of death was not apparent, and body organs and sometimes tongues had been removed while the valuable meat was untouched. In most cases, the genitals had been removed. And, Lyon says, it appeared in each case that the blood had been drained from the bodies. Scavenger birds do not feed on bloodless carcasses. "The buzzards don't even go up to them," he says.

"I don't think it has anything to do with a cult," says Sheriff Thomas Gene Barber. "Some are natural deaths. But, some are very unusual . . . the removal of the organs. You wonder if any animal could do that." He says it is also strange that most of the cattle whose deaths seemed unusual "were the best animals they had," not the weakest or sickest, which are the ones usually culled by predators.

In the past 10 years, Barber says, the unusual deaths have occurred about once a year, sometimes twice, and in one year -- 1994 -- there were four clustered near Halloween. He has investigated some, but the carcasses had decayed or were partially devoured by animals. "If you can't get to one in 24 hours, you can't learn much about what killed it," he says.

Barber says he suspects that some of the cattle died from overfertilized feed or toxic oleander bush that is found near water in that area. If any were killed by humans, "I think it was some kids getting body parts."

Evidence has been scarce. Barber says his deputies have never found footprints, tire tracks or other clues that would point to a suspect. At the same time, there has never been evidence of cult activity, such as candles, pentagrams or other ritualistic paraphernalia. "It's a mystery to me," he says.

At the request of ranchers, Larry Gray, director of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, looked into a few of the incidents. Like the sheriff, Gray said he discounts the notion of a cult at work in the county. "These things really get blown out of proportion," he says. In 20 years of investigating cattle deaths in Texas and Oklahoma, "I have never seen one that was cult-related."

What the ranchers saw as an absence of blood, he speculates, probably was blood pooling at the bottom of the carcass. The split abdomens and missing genitals could have been the work of small animals after the bull died of other causes. "Skunks and opossums have very sharp teeth, and they usually attack the softest tissue first."

In cases where the victim was a bull, Gray thinks humans may have been responsible but probably not for occult reasons. Genitals of large bulls have been turned into grotesque walking sticks or into bags.

Lyon said he hopes to solve the mystery by someday getting a fresh carcass to Texas A&M University, where officials at the college of veterinary medicine have offered to perform necropsies.

For the Great Falls Tribune story, click here:


Science In the News

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Today's Headlines - August 13, 2001

from The Boston Globe

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush hopes to move past the controversial topic of stem cell research this week and return to his own agenda, leaving it to scientists to hash out the details of working under new guidelines he announced last Thursday.

But key members of Congress are prepared to pursue the matter, giving both advocates and opponents hope that the president's decision may not be set in stone, or will at least receive further scrutiny. Next month two Democratic Senate chairmen, including Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, will hold hearings on stem cell technology, and majority leader Thomas A. Daschle of South Dakota has said the Senate may seek to broaden the president's directive for funding research that many believe could cure grave disease.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, plans to push forward with his bill to fund stem cell research with minimal limitations. Although he conceded yesterday that the drive to bring it to an immediate vote may have weakened, Specter said on CBS that he is ''very skeptical'' the Bush rules will ultimately provide enough latitude for researchers to do their work.

Getting both houses of Congress to pass a bill at odds with the president's order would present a serious challenge, and two senior White House officials, chief of staff Andrew H. Card and counselor Karen Hughes, have suggested that Bush would strongly consider vetoing any alteration.


from The Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- A top aide to President Bush said Sunday that the president would not support federal funding to increase the number of embryonic stem cell lines available for study even if scientists concluded that the existing supply was insufficient for research.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said that neither unexpected scientific breakthroughs nor unanticipated research problems would cause Bush to reconsider the strict limits on stem cell research funding he set last week.

In one of his administration's most eagerly awaited decisions, Bush announced Thursday that while the federal government would fund research on stem cells already derived from surplus human embryos, it would not pay for research that destroyed more embryos. "That is the real distinguishing line, and that's a high moral line that this president is not going to cross," Thompson said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."

By drawing that line, Bush has tilted the debate away from politics and toward science. The administration has calculated that about 60 stem cell lines now exist, and Congress and the scientific community must determine whether that is enough to realize stem cells' potential in curing disease.


from Newsday

SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- An increasing number of parents who want to do everything possible for their children's health are paying more than $1,300 each to have umbilical cord blood, which is rich in stem cells, stored in freezers.

For-profit cord blood storage companies report record sales of their blood extraction kits, which are marketed as a sort of an insurance policy against diseases that newborns might develop in the future. They also charge annual storage fees between $45 and $95 to keep the blood frozen at minus 400 degrees.

Expecting parents hope the blood may one day be available for tailor-made therapies for their children, banking on the knowledge that a body will be less apt to reject treatments originating in cells it produced while in the womb.

Extracted with a syringe from a baby's detached umbilical cord a few minutes after birth, the blood contains plenty of stem cells, which many scientists believe will one day enable the repair and regeneration of disease-ridden tissue.


from Newsday

Nitro, W.Va. - In 1917, the United States government chose this wide swath of bottomland in the Kanawha River valley for a massive gunpowder factory designed to overcome a critical wartime shortage of nitrocellulose explosives. The U.S. Ordnance Department named the boomtown in the process, and transformed thousands of acres of muddy pastures and cornfields into an engineering triumph.

More than 80 years later, this once-proud industrial town 14 miles west of the state capital of Charleston has made history again, but this time its residents have greeted the news with disbelief, alarm and more than a little disapproval.

Last week, a Charleston lawyer and former state legislator named Mark Hunt revealed in the Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail that he had invested nearly $500,000 in a leased laboratory on the second floor of Nitro's old high school. Before severing ties with French scientist Brigitte Boisselier three weeks ago, Hunt and his wife had hoped to regain the 10-month-old son they lost to a heart defect in 1999.

Or at least a clone of him.

In February, Boisselier shocked Hamilton College in the tiny town of Clinton, N.Y., when two independently published magazine articles revealed that the visiting assistant chemistry professor was moonlighting as the scientific director of a human cloning project named Clonaid. Boisselier had launched the Clonaid project under the auspices of the Raelian religious sect, a UFO-obsessed group maintaining that humans were created by scientifically advanced aliens.


from The Chicago Tribune

Equipment designed to fabricate computer chips can also make homes for living cells, scientists have learned, in a development likely to have a profound impact on medical research.

Cardiac researchers at the University of Illinois' Chicago campus have found they can isolate heart tissue cells on a three-dimensional platform and keep them upright and beating, much as the cells act when part of a living heart.

This is in dramatic contrast to what usually happens when lab workers try to isolate cardiac cells in a standard flat petri dish. In a flat dish, the cells that don't die will just flop over and spread like an egg cracked into a pan, said Brenda Russell, professor of biophysics at UIC.

"They don't do anything, so you can't use them to study function," she said.


from The New York Times

SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- It was moving-in day for the new crew of the international space station. After arriving at space station Alpha over the weekend, the incoming three member crew was to swap places with the outgoing one Monday.

The replacement crew of U.S. astronaut Frank Culbertson and Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin was ferried to Alpha aboard space shuttle Discovery, which arrived at the orbiting outpost Sunday afternoon.

The shuttle will be the ride back to Earth for the current station crew, which has been on Alpha since March. The new crew will stay in Alpha until December.

The linkup between Discovery and Alpha had a slight problem as the docking ring that draws them together was misaligned because of a stuck shock absorber. But shuttle astronauts quickly solved the problem.


commentary from The New York Times

HERE'S one way to look at the man-versus-ape conflict in the new movie "Planet of the Apes": It's civil war.

With some people still upset over Darwin's theory, which suggests that apes are our grandparents, along comes an even more unsettling view: we are just another breed of ape. In the great pyramid of nature, according to this view, one little group of siblings is isolated at the top, separated by a huge biological gap from lower beings. These emperors of evolution are chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and (are we forgetting one?) humans.

"If man is made in God's image," Allan Wilson, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, once said, "then God must be a chimpanzee."

It is one of the great conceptual advances of science in the last decade to link the five "great apes" - including man - into one biologically similar group. Advocates for the other four say the group is distinct from what they classify dismissively as "animals."


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From: randi@randi.org (James Randi)

Damn! I've just been told that's it's Fox-TV who will be running the John Edward show -- "Crossing Over" -- when he leaves the Sci-Fi channel. Why are we not surprised.....?

Monday, August 13, 2001

Posner on ABC 20/20, Articles of Note, Skeptics in the Pub

Thanks to Joe Littrell, David Rapoport, Gary Posner, Kyle D. SanGiovanni

From Gary Posner

Dear Dr. Posner,

Michael Guillen is travelling and asked me to get back to you. Yes, he tells me, you are in the 20/20 prayer piece, which is scheduled to air tomorrow night on 20/20 Downtown (8 pm in most markets.) Because of ABC policy, I can't go into more detail about the piece.

Kensington Runestone supporters find another carved rock
by Peg Meier
Star Tribune (Minneapolis - St. Paul)


"A team of Minnesotans who believe the famous Kensington Runestone is authentic has found a second carved rock; the groups says it might have marked the gravesite of Viking explorers in the 1300s."

Jesse Ventura Talks UFOs
Associated Press


"UFOs? Why not?"

Wives' Tales Mom May Have Told You
By Herschel Lessin, MD


"One does not have to be an old wife to pass along an old wives' tale. In fact, a lot of what people call common sense is not really very sensible at all. As a parent, you must make decisions that affect your children's lives, and yours as well. One of your many jobs as a parent is to filter through the enormous amount of well-meaning advice you receive and decide which of it is useful and effective."

"Photostated ghost" creates chaos
By K. Kalai
New Straits Times


"Photostat copies supposedly containing a picture of a ghost, found to be circulating among school students in Kuala Kangsar, Pantai Remis and here, have caused fear and panic especially among primary school children."

New York Times
Study Suggests Shaken Faith Can Worsen Poor Health


Religion and good health go hand in hand. Or so some researchers have asserted in studies over the last half decade, saying that people who attend church regularly, pray or are otherwise involved in religious activities enjoy longer lives and other positive health benefits

From David Rapoport,
The below is quite amusing. Thought you might enjoy it. Cheers.


This is your reminder for the AUGUST 2001 'Skeptics in the Pub' meeting.

DATE - Thursday, August 16th, 2001
TIME - 19:30
PLACE- Upstairs in the Florence Nightingale pub, 199 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1, U.K. (On the junction with York Road, on the roundabout, near Waterloo station.) Entry fee is #2.

Detailed directions and a map of how to get to the pub can be found at

This month's speaker is Scott Wood. Scott is a writer of fiction (which so has eluded publication so far) and non-fiction (some of which has sneaked thorough). He has had reviews published in The Fortean Times and the Fortean Times Web Site. He lives in South East London and, while being a long term attendee of Skeptics in the Pub, is of a more Fortean state of mind. As the 16th of August is one of the possible dates of Charles Forts birthday, he requests this month's meeting is known as Un-Skeptics in the Pub.

His title is "Sex and Dogs and UFO's : A Meze of Strange Beliefs and Outsider Ideas". Scott says: "Tuck in to a table full of treats from the disreputable peripheries of philosophy, medicine, science and religion. This talk is to highlight strange ideas and ponder how people get to be so out on the fringe. Find out: Which marsupial is a survivor from the Lost Continent of Lemuria. What the 'Crowbar method' is and how it causes 'Convergence of the eyebrows'. Who was the 'Supreme Grand Master of the Knight Templar of the Inner Sanctum of the Holy Order of the Spiritual Hierarchy of the Earth'. Which household pet is carcinogenic. How vampires in the Midlands meet up, and much, much more." This talk will also feature the first public appearance of The Two Dimensional, 100% Portable Kooks Gallery.

A welcome is extended to anyone interested in, or skeptical about, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, alternative medicine, psychic powers, pseudo-science, UFOs, alien abductions, creationism, Fortean phenomena, cult religions, water-divining, lost civilisations, etc. The evening will be an informal one, in a relaxed and friendly pub atmosphere. Real ales and food available. Non-skeptics are welcome and you can turn up at any time during the night.

Planned meeting dates to September are as follows: Thursday September 20: Dr Charles Paxton (Univ of St Andrews). Topic: Sea Monsters? Science and unknown giant aquatic animals.

Thanks to CSICOP/The Skeptical Inquirer, The Skeptic and ASKE for their support.

E-mail me for more information, or to recommend a speaker Scott Campbell scott.campbell@nottingham.ac.uk.

Dr Scott Campbell,
Department of Philosophy,
University of Nottingham,
University Park, Nottingham,
NG7 2RD, U.K.

Sorbonne standards subjected to degree of ridicule



THE Sorbonne, once the most renowned university in France, has been denounced as a refuge for whimsical and irrational academics lacking intellectual rigour. The criticism is contained in a report on the institution's decision to award a doctorate to Elisabeth Teissier, an astrologer who has advised leading French personalities, including François Mitterrand, the former President.

A number of French scientists have joined a call for Mme Teissier's doctorate to be revoked. They have poured scorn on her 900-page thesis, entitled "The epistemological situation of astrology through the ambivalence fascination/rejection in postmodern societies".

In April Mme Teissier, 63, was made a doctor of sociology by a jury at the Sorbonne after defending her thesis during an oral examination. The woman who once advised M Mitterrand on the Gulf War argued that astrology had been unjustly dismissed by intellectuals as a pariah subject.

The academics who made up the jury provoked a furore when they congratulated the astrologer in front of an audience of her largely well-heeled customers.

But Bernard Lahire, Professor of Sociology at the elite Ecole Normale Supérieure, said in his report on the affair: "It is not that this is a bad sociology thesis. It is one that has a total absence of sociology in it. It only defends the point of view of the astrologer and lacks anything that can be characterised as scientific."

Two astro-physicians, Jean Audouze and Jean-Claude Pecker, add in the report: "This is a non-thesis that is really a pro-astrology plea. There is no evidence to support her claims."

Behind the row lie mounting concerns over the decline of the Sorbonne. M Lahire, for instance, said: "Mme Teissier is not to blame for what happened. The institution is to blame. It is a refuge for lecturers without rigour and who are sometimes explicitly anti-rational."

The 13th-century establishment on the Left Bank in Paris has been caught in the turbulence that has hit a French higher education system unable to cope with growing numbers of students. With 60 per cent of school leavers earning the right to continue their studies, universities such as the Sorbonne have become overwhelmed. Many have struggled to complete the move to mass education, and their brightest researchers have left for the écoles which still cater for the elite.

Investigator says Nessie may be dead

From Ananova at


A Loch Ness Monster investigator claims the creature may be dead.

Robert Rines says environmental changes may have killed off the famous monster, but he will continue to search for it.

His US Academy of Applied Sciences investigation team captured the famous image of an underwater 'flipper' at the loch in 1974.

"I couldn't tell you if Nessie is still alive," he told the Inverness Courier. "There is almost no vegetation in some parts of the lake. I would worry what something like a Nessie would find to live."

Dr Rines says since he first began visiting the loch in the 1970s, there have been fewer sightings and increases in pollution from a hydro-electric plant and tree planting.

He said: "Environmental stress has occurred since I came here in the 1970s. You have the hydro plant for one thing and all the forestry plantings which unfortunately were done here in such a way that streams of lime acid poured down into the loch. The environmental change hasn't been going Nessie's way."

But Dr Rines refuses to give up. "We don't want to until we have exhausted our own and our instruments' capability of telling us if there are one or more big animals in the lake. Hope springs eternal," he said.

Dr Rines is in the final days of a month-long expedition with a team that includes his son Justice and uses a new type of sonar - CHIRP - to give greater coverage.

The team has reported no new contacts, although the sonar has helped discover other items of interest, including an underwater hill and what could be the wreck of the world's first steam-powered dredger.

The president of the Official Nessie Fan Club, Gary Campbell, disagrees with Dr Rines's idea that Nessie may be dead. He says she was recently spotted off Fort Augustus.

Mugabe sees rival's 'ghost'

From Ananova at


Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe believes he is haunted by the ghost of a former political rival.

The president reportedly sets an extra place at dinner each night and orders food to be served for former guerrilla leader Josiah Tongogara. He died in a car crash in 1980.

Staff at the presidential palace are said to be alarmed at the state Mr Mugabe has been reduced to by Tongogara's "ghost".

The spirit is said to be tormenting him with accusations that his mismanagement has destroyed the revolution which they fought for together.

Mr Mugabe, 77, has now turned to witch doctors throughout the country, a rain goddess and an oracle for help. He has also been prescribed anti-depressants to overcome his anxiety.

Mr Tongogara was the charismatic leader of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and widely tipped to become the country's president.

Mr Mugabe believes he is dealing with an ngozi, the aggrieved spirit of someone who died violently or in extreme anger.

According to sources within the presidential palace, reports the Daily Record, Mr Mugabe has been seeing Mr Tongogara for more than six months.

Latest free-energy scam

From: Vic Stenger vstenger@mindspring.com

Barry Karr of CSICOP sent this. A reaction from the Land of Oz?

Vic Stenger

In case you haven't already seen it.


(Check the Letters to the Editor bit at the bottom of the page too - my prize for Comment of the Week goes to: "Incidentally, if this discovery "flew in the face of physics". please consider the fact that the magnets have a life of only 1300 years, therefore this is not a perpetual motion machine. The laws of thermodynamics have not been violated. - John Scotese, SV Alacrity II, Closehaven Marina, Port Douglas.")

Also see: http://www.delphion.com/cgi-bin/viewpat.cmd/WO00028656A1 for a pic of their patent.

Sunday, August 12, 2001

Chandra Levy Dowsed Body Location

Throwing away all semblances of sensitivity:

Sure - why not get a dowser involved the search for Chandra Levy?

From the site:
"I am an experienced map dowser and I believe I have located the approximate location of Chandra Levy's Body. My rate of success is 80%"


Chandra Levy Map Dowsed Body Location.htm

Name: Chandra Levy Map Dowsed Body Location.htm
Type: Hypertext Markup Language (text/html)
Encoding: quoted-printable

Eureka! Found Baskatong Papers

From: meh@Softhome.net

I'm very pleased to announce that I found the papers that Dad/Mum and I wrote/drew about the Baskatong creature. Wow, can't believe it because I was afraid I had thrown them out. I've transcribed Dad's/Mum's summations of the events [below]. They were in my former computer desk which I rarely go into anymore.

My drawing of the animal can be described as so;

A profile of a head facing left on the page and shaped very similar to a thick sock without much definition in the heel and raised out of the water maybe a foot or so. The neck thickness ratio to head is similar to that of horse.

There are a series of very gentle arcs tailing it - about 3 feet between top centre points of successive arcs. Each arc is quite long - about 2.5 feet, but rises to only about 6 inches at its highest point out of the water. These measurements are of course very approximate.

One one side of one of the papers, I have written "Mum". At the top I wrote "sounded like a lot of swimmers swimming". Also on this page, I drew a rounded sort of head with several arc shaped bumps travelling behind it. I have written "bubbles", "bit of foam" and "wake was present but smaller" around the pencil drawing. At the bottom I wrote, "Submerged one or two bumps at a time".

On another paper I found statements that were written by Dad and Mum about that day (Note: I believe my mother was using the term "undulations" to describe the visual appearance ie; head and series of bumps/arcs following behind, and not as a particular type of repetitive movement).


Baskatong Sighting
Jacqueline Harris

I was sitting on the steps of the kitchen door looking at the garden when my attention was caught by a sudden noise in the lake. I stood up to get a better view. I thought it was several swimmers in a row because I could see the undulations but soon realized that they were going too fast to be swimmers. There was a great displacement of water and I then thoguht it was a submarine but discarded that idea when a head appeared out of the water, oval shaped and darkish.

I ran into the house to get the binoculars and came back out on the balcony at the front of the house but was frustrated by the fact that the trees at the end of the lawn obscured my view. I ran to the edge of the lawn and threw the binoculars to my husband who had been running along the beach to egt a better view. Without the binoculars, I saw the undulations going towards my left but going out further away from the beach, and a couple of seconds later, it submerged.

Total viewing time: 22 second approximately (15 before it went behind the trees, 7 coming out from the trees to submersion)


Baskatong Sighting
Sunday, July 13 1980, around 2.pm. Clear sunny day. 25 degrees centigrade, low humidity.

It was a sunny afternoon wjen I decided to go swimming. Despite the warm weather the lake water was still very cold so I decided to pace back and forth in the water at a depth up to my waist thereby adjusting to the temperature before plunging in fully.

As I was staring into the water around the area of my feet, I suddenly heard the sound of a heavy displacement of water. I looked out across the surface of the bay and saw a series of undulations at the surface of the lake.

I though momentarily it might have been two or more aqualung divers but dismised that conjecture since the diplacement would not have been heavy as it was. The thought came that perhaps it was an experimental small type submarine but quickly discarded that as unlikely to create the series of undulations clearly visible. At this point, I looked further to the right where the undulations extended and back in the diection of the movement forward. Whie I did not count, the undulations were numerous. (As a ballpark figue around 20 or so more undulations).

As I stared with excitement at this creature, at a distance of about 30 feet, I saw a large, greenish coloured head, about the size of a horse's head but not the same shape. Then, just as suddenly, the head disappeared.

At this point, I thought that wehether my wife who was at the cottage some 150 feet away, had seen the monster. I turned to see if she was aware of what was in the water and was pleased to see her on the front lawn.

I called her asking if she had seen anything in the water to which she replied yes. She had heard the initial sound of the water displacement and had immediately ran into the house for the binoculars.

Running close to to where she was now standing, she threw the binoculars to me following which I ran as fast as possible to the top of a rock pile a short distance away.

As I focused in on the "creature" it was submerging quickly but I managed to see a portion of its body, a dark green mottled body out of which I saw a series of black or dark greenish fin like protuberances, as it quickly disappeared beneath the surface. On the basis of what I saw, the best estimate I could make as to its length, would be about 40-50 feet long.

I had been asked by various segments of the media, if the sighting of this monster frightened me. I told them that because of the intense excitement I was feeling there was little except sheer wondernment blockading any other emotion or reaction -- one might say -- similar to what may describe as a trance-like enrapturement.

Total viewing time: Approximately 2-3 minutes.

Harold V. Harris


Anyhow, so that's it.


HAARP and Star Wars

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com Forwarded From Marshall Smith, Editor, BroJon Gazette, to be posted to http://www.brojon.com. [Site with many frames loads slowly and has overlapping text. - TWC]


Two recent events clearly show how the "Son of Star Wars" program is centered around the HAARP transmitter in Alaska, and how that trillion dollar program is not only fraudulent but also out-of-date and now obsolete. This would leave the U.S. with no self-defense capability and with a bankrupt economy.

In the last several days, news reports show there is now an ongoing public wrangling between the Republicans in the Bush Administration and Democratic congressional leaders over the need to build an "emergency Star Wars" missile defense system at the Fort Greely site in central Alaska by the year 2004.

The detractors say the missiles would violate the old 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty. Also it would be in a bad location, since the test firing of missiles from Fort Greely would mean the rocket boosters would fall on populated areas, while a much better location would be on Kodiak Island, 500 miles away, where the missiles would be fired over the ocean.

The Democrats also contend the money for the system would be misspent, since no evidence shows the system would be able to distinguish between a real warhead and a group of dummy warheads all fired at the same time. Thus they feel the system would be of little defensive value if the "kill missiles" end up shooting down dummies while the real warheads have an excellent chance of getting through.

The Bush Administration, many Republicans and the Pentagon policy planners counter these arguments by saying there is a need to build and test the missile system now, even before its final effectiveness is proven. This is necessary to determine the rocket fuel degradation caused by the extreme cold arctic environment and to develop the radar systems needed to operate and aim the missiles and to rehearse training and maintenance procedures. So the obvious question then is: Why build it in Alaska in the first place?

What the news reports fail to point out is that neither argument has any relevance to the current "Son of Star Wars" missile defense program. The reason for building five "emergency" missile silos at Fort Greely and not on Kodiak Island is clearly because Fort Greely is right next door to the HAARP facility at Gakona, Alaska. Thus showing the real "Son of Star Wars" missile defense system is the HAARP facility itself and not the five missiles at nearby Fort Greely.

This is also shown by the fact that the Fort Greely site cannot be used as a "kill missile" defense system against incoming enemy missiles from Russia or rogue nations such as Iraq. Looking at a globe or a map projection centered on the North Pole, the orbital or great circle distance from western Russia or Iraq to targets in the U.S. is half the distance from Fort Greely to anywhere along that orbital path. This means incoming missiles from Russia or Iraq would have already reached their targets in New York or Washington long before the Fort Greely "kill missile" got halfway to its target. That does not sound like any kind of missile defense shield.

Great Wall in Space

Further, also looking at a globe or polar projection map, it is easily seen that any missile coming from anywhere in China toward the U.S. must pass directly overhead or near Alaska. Thus the obvious purpose of placing the five missiles in the frigid forests of Fort Greely and the location of nearby HAARP is clearly to provide a "Great Wall in Space" to defend against missiles only from China, and not from Russia or any rogue nations, as is the publicly stated purpose. Once again the public and Congress are being mislead as to the purpose of both the HAARP facility and the missile sites at nearby Fort Greely.

The original design for the HAARP transmitter in Gakona, Alaska and the congressional funding of the facility in 1991 was to provide a worldwide missile defense shield by producing a layer of high speed particles in the magnetosphere far above the atmosphere but which would act as a high-energy radiation cloud capable of destroying any missiles which fly through that cloud in outer space.

But actually this was impractical for two reasons. First the energy required to build the earth-circling radiation cloud would be equivalent to nearly all of the oil output of the nearby Alaska Pipeline or the nearby Arco natural gas facility, and second, the permanent radiation cloud would destroy any and all of the many commercial civilian, military and scientific satellites now in polar orbit which pass through the magnetosphere where it almost touches the atmosphere in the auroral zones at both poles.

Further, the radiation cloud would also destroy any manned or unmanned spacecraft leaving the earth for the moon or other planets, which must also pass through the Earth's magnetosphere. Nonetheless, despite its impracticality, the HAARP facility was built and is now in full operation. But it is now used in a far different manner.

Instead of producing a radiation cloud which girdles the whole earth, current research methods show the HAARP transmitter can send shortwave radio beams straight up to the region of the electrified particles above the Earth's atmosphere, in the ionosphere, where it intersects the magnetosphere.

At that point, by slightly shifting the angle of the shortwave radio beam, a radiation cloud from the ionosphere can be "focused" along the Earth's magnetic field lines in a narrow region reaching from the North Pole to the South Pole. And that radiation cloud can be aimed "along certain magnetic field lines," as is stated in several of the most recently published HAARP research articles. This means the intense radiation cloud could be "focused" at incoming missiles, and thus you can see how the HAARP transmitter can easily be used as an efficient and rapidly deployed "missile defense" shield.

Since the high speed particles in the radiation cloud move at nearly the speed of light, the "Great Wall in Space" can be set up in a manner of seconds, or in fact, several radiation cloud walls could be produced in a matter of minutes. This technology does not need a precise radar-aiming device, as does the so-called "kill missile" defense system. Simply knowing there are "incoming" missiles, and knowing where they are coming from, and then setting up a radiation wall in space will destroy any and all incoming missiles as they pass through the protective "Great Wall in Space."

Many have asked, if that is true, then what is the purpose of the five missiles at Fort Greely, and wouldn't they also be destroyed by the HAARP radiation cloud? Since HAARP would be the primary missile shield weapon, it would be a target and is vulnerable to enemy missile attack from nearby submarines or aircraft. To prevent this, a "local" anti-missile system is built at Fort Greely to defend the HAARP facility from local Scud-type missile attack, using almost standard off-the-shelf Patriot-type technology. And that is most probably the reason for the "emergency" construction of the missile silos at Fort Greely by the year 2004: for the protection of the HAARP antennas and transmitter, and not for the defense of the nation.

Since the nearby incoming enemy Scud-type missiles would not be high enough to be affected by the HAARP radiation cloud, the missiles from Fort Greely would be able to hit their targets and not be affected by the radiation shield coming from HAARP. Thus the two systems, at HAARP and at Fort Greely, would work nicely together to produce a "hardened" missile defense weapon system that can withstand enemy attack. Knowing this should make us all sleep better at night. Except for one problem: the Pentagon has once again shot itself in the foot.

3-D Maginot Line

The other high-impact news event that just occurred was reported by defense specialist writer Bill Gertz in the Washington Times. Just two weeks ago, the Russians secretly test-flew a prototype SS-25 ICBM missile, which behaved in a very strange way. All previous ICBM nuclear missiles are blasted off from Earth, enter a near-earth orbit and then within less than 25 minutes can drop out of orbit, reenter the atmosphere and hit any target on the Earth's surface. The Russian SS-25 blasts off as usual, but just before leaving the atmosphere, it turns parallel to the Earth's surface and flies like a cruise missile or airplane at a height of about 25 miles and a speed of Mach 5. Why is that important?

At that speed and altitude, if the SS-25 is painted black and covered with stealthy radar-absorptive paint like a US-made B-2 stealth bomber, it can neither be tracked nor intercepted by any Patriot-type anti-missile system. Also the SS-25, by never leaving the atmosphere, and by using a new scramjet technology to fly at supersonic speeds at the very top of the atmosphere, is completely unaffected by any HAARP anti-missile radiation cloud, which only works in the vacuum of outer space.

The design of the Russian SS-25 scramjet was made specifically to counter the newly developed HAARP radiation cloud shield technology, and not any new Air Force "Son of Star Wars" kill missiles, which would be ineffective against a stealthy SS-25 anyway. Thus the trillion-dollar proposed anti-missile defense shield centered around Fort Greely and HAARP has already just been made obsolete.

Did the policy and strategy boys at the Pentagon know this was about to happen? Or were they asleep at the switch? Certainly Congress had no clue, or did they? As I pointed out in the book, Black Gold Hot Gold, this very event has long been in the planning. Unlike the U.S. and the rest of the world, which are now struggling with weakening economies and rising unemployment, China alone is rolling along at an astounding 8% annual economic growth rate. China has the wealth and fortitude to purchase a whole fleet of Russian-made SS-25's. That should keep the policy planners at the Pentagon staying up all night just worrying about when that might occur. Probably before the 2004, "emergency" construction is completed at Fort Greely.

The "Son of Star Wars" program is clearly looking a lot like a 3-dimensional Maginot Line. Despite the proposed expenditure of trillions of dollars for a missile defense system, the Russians have already discovered the "Ardennes Forest," which allows the enemy to simply run around the expensive defense line unopposed. The current Star Wars debates are a mere smoke screen designed to beguile the public and leave the U.S. defenseless, open to attack and with a bankrupt economy. Are there people in Congress who knew about this? You bet. Are there people in Congress who have, in fact, "bought stock" in the Chinese economy and would benefit greatly from a war with China in which the U.S. loses? You bet. Would I call that treason? You bet.

Just thought you might wanna know. Have a nice day.

Marshall Smith
Editor, BroJon Gazette

http://www. brojon.com

Patterson [Bigfoot] Film

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com


Scanned frame 350 has great detail...

I saw this at


But the detail blows your mind, so many will shoot the messenger. Totally weird, and not fabricated by grain.


For instance, the better alleged proof of the existence of the yeti or sasquatch or whatever was a famous film that (once properly reviewed and investigated) resulted to be a fake.

If you are refering to the Patterson Film , none other than the father of Cryptozoology , Bernard Heuvelmans was the scientist that proclaimed it a fake. All the other experts liked it.


Parapsychology Foundation Honored


NEW YORK (AP) - If you're doing intensive research on clairvoyant dreams or a house being spooked by a poltergeist, and you need financial support or academic resources, who ya gonna call?

For the past 50 years, parapsychologists have looked to the Parapsychology Foundation.

Now those scientists are giving back. Nearly 200 members of the Parapsychological Association, a group of active researchers, honored the foundation's 50th anniversary this week at an annual convention that wraps up Sunday.

Parapsychology is the study of unexplained or paranormal phenomenon. It mostly focuses on dream research, but also includes the study of hauntings, clairvoyance and the occult.

Founded in 1951 by Eileen Garrett, an Irishwoman who believed she had some clairvoyant ability, and Frances Payne Bolton, a wealthy congresswoman from Ohio, the Parapsychology Foundation was created to help further the study of a field, which, at the time, had not been heavily researched.

``They envisioned it as a clearing house for information and as an academic center,'' said Lisette Coly, the foundation's current director and Garrett's granddaughter.

In the past fifty years, the foundation has doled out research grants, and provided a resource for researchers with a library numbering over 10,000 volumes - some dating back as far as 450 years.

``The library is really the jewel in the crown of our foundation,'' Coly said.

Housed in a serene, Upper East side town house, the texts range widely: from the more mainstream, like Time-Life's ``Mysteries of the Unknown'' series, to the more obscure, like Owen S. Rachleff's ``The Occult Conceit.''

``It is hugely interdisciplinary collection,'' Coly said.

The field of parapsychology has changed dramatically throughout the years. What began with the use of mediums and seances in the early part of the 20th century has evolved in a highly refined scientific pursuit.

``The way of doing research today has really gone into the laboratory,'' said Carlos Alvarado, the foundation's chairman of domestic and international programs. ``You can run most experiments in a very controlled way and that removes a lot of human error.''

The improvements in science may be having an impact on the general public's perception of a field that has always been viewed with some skepticism. A Gallup poll released in May indicated that Americans' belief in psychic and paranormal phenomenon had gone up significantly over the past decade.

``This is a time of tremendous interest in parapsychological phenomenon,'' said Lawrence LeShan, a clinical psychiatrist who spoke on Thursday at the convention. ``There are so many imbeciles - or maybe I should call them geniuses - who are making tons of money giving psychic readings on TV.

``There are numerous journals, television programs and magazines dedicated to this.''

But LeShan said he was keenly aware of the way they are viewed by mainstream science.

``We parapsychologists find ourselves in a strange position. We love science. We do damn good science. But we are rejected by most mainstream science.''

On the Net:

Parapsychology Foundation: http://www.parapsychology.org

Parapsychological Association: http://www.parapsych.org/

Indian guru tries to rid museum of restless spirits

From Ananova at:


An Indian guru has carried out a 'divine ritual' at a Leicester museum to try to cleanse it of restless spirits.

Rajyogi Narendraji spent 25 minutes meditating and burning incense at Belgrave Hall, just outside the city.

The Hall became famous in early 1999 when CCTV footage captured what looked like a ghost.

He was asked to perform the ritual after he heard the voices of two women during a recent visit.

He says he drew out seven spirits, ridding them of anger and helping them on to the next world.

The museum's deputy curator, Emma Martin, told Ananova she would reserve judgement on whether the ritual has succeeded. The ghost has never been explained, she said.

The museum looks at how people would have lived in a country house from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Rajyogi Narendraji previously helped to bless areas in Gujarat affected by an earthquake in January.

He was accompanied at Belgrave Hall by a group of people including followers and family members.

Ms Martin said some staff at the museum claim to have seen the image of a woman dressed in Victorian clothes.


If there are any members in this group living in or near western Victoria, Australia, then WVGS is the society for you. It investigates claims of the paranormal through level headed, scientific means. You can gain further details, including the link to our site, for membership details from


Ps. As the group has only been just formed, investigators are desired.

Health Secretary decides not to act on feng shui advice

From Ananova at:


Feng shui experts who advised the Health Secretary on how to "re-energise" his private office have been told to channel their energies elsewhere.

The Department of Health says it has rejected proposals drawn up by consultants to reorganise Alan Milburn's office.

Feng shui, the fashionable eastern art of trying to channel positive energy through building design and furniture arrangement, was not considered appropriate, said a spokesman.

He would not comment on the suggestion the initiative had been halted to prevent a public relations problem.

He said: "We had a team of consultants in to advise us on various forms of training and working environments.

"One of the proposals they came up with - not taken up - was looking at improving conditions by changing the environment."

This included shifting the furniture around, he said. "We didn't call them in to do feng shui, but they came up with it."

Feng shui was rejected, he said, "because we did not think it was appropriate or necessary". But other suggestions in the consultation were acted on.

Raymond Catchpole, deputy chairman of the Feng Shui Society, said: "It doesn't surprise me. I approached the health people myself a while ago to suggest ways of improving the layout of hospitals, which are crying out for the basic common sense that feng shui can bring.

"The reply I got was that it made sense, but would be very difficult to convince people to do it. Perhaps they thought their mainstream doctors wouldn't like 'witch doctors' coming in."

Fugitive Scientology critic seeks political asylum in Canada


By Phillip Taylor
Special to freedomforum.org


A Scientology critic who fled to Canada to avoid his conviction in a California court for threatening to interfere with the church's operations has been sentenced to a year in prison.

10th European Skeptics Congress

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

10th European Skeptics Congress will be held from 7th to 9th September 2001 in Praha, Czech Republic.


As approved at the meeting of the Board of European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) in Maastricht September 18, 1999, the Congress will be organised by SISYFOS, the Czech Club of Skeptics, under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The Congress will be held in the building of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Lecture Hall 206, 2nd Floor, Národní 3, Praha 1, Czech Republic, in the very centre of Prague.


Friday, 7th September

11.00 - 13.00 Registration
13.00 - 14.00 Opening Plenary Session
J. Hert (Czech Rep.), Welcome Address
C. De Jager (Netherlands), Congress Opening
R. Zahradník (Czech Rep.), Word of Honorary President of the Czech Academy of Sciences
B. Karr (USA), Reflections on CSICOP at 25th Anniversary
14.00 - 14.30 Coffee Break
14.30 - 17.00 Paranormal Scene in Europe, co-chaired by C. De Jager, B. Karr, and J. Hert
C. De Jager (Netherlands), Delightful Delusions. The Wisdom of Folly
A. Sarma (Germany), General Talk on Dealing with the Paranormal Experiences Over a Decade
E. P. Kruglyakov (Russia), Pseudoscience in Russia Yesterday and Today
N. A. Kutuzova (Belarus), The New Paranormal Situation in Belarus
V. Mornstein (Czech Rep.), Czech "Researchers of Paranormal" Before and After 1989

17.15 - 19.45 Sightseeing Walk-in Downtown Prague
20.00 - 21.45 Welcome Reception (Restaurant Staroceská koliba, Národní str. 15, Praha 1)

Saturday, 8th September

10.00 - 12.30 Alternative Medicine, co-chaired by B. Beyerstein, P.J.D. Drenth, and P. Leme
W. Betz (Belgium), Quality Assurance in Medicine: How To Circumvent the Rules
B. Burkhard (Germany), Alternative Medicine in Germany. Trends, Facts and Health
C. N. M. Renckens (Netherlands), Theory and Practice of Quackbusting: the Dutch Experience
T. Natchev (Bulgaria), Growth of Alternative Medicine in Eastern Europe - Why Now?
J. Hert (Czech Rep.), Alternative Medicine in the Czech Republic and Sisyfos

12.30 - 14.00 Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 Alternative Medicine, co-chaired by W. Betz, B. Burkhard, and V. Mornstein
B. Beyerstein (Canada), Why Do Bogus Medical Therapies Seem To Work? P.J.D. Drenth (Netherlands), Para-science and Pseudo-science in Psychology
J. Günther (France), A High-tech Dowsing Device as Alternative Medicine Tool

15.30 - 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 - 17.30 Alternative Medicine, co-chaired by R. Bate, T. Natchev, and K. Galušcák
P. Leme (Czech Rep.), Big Boom of Healing Practices in Oncology in Czech Republic during Last Decade
A. Inam (Turkey), How is Philosopho-therapy Possible?
R. Bate (UK), How Environmentalism Kills the Poor - Malaria and the DDT Story

20.00 - 23.00 Congress Dinner

Sunday, 9th September

9.30 - 12.00 Miscellanea, co-chaired by E. P. Kruglyakov, F. S. Singer, and J. Grygar
F. S. Singer (USA), On Climate Changes
G.-R. Weber (Germany), Possible Causes of Climatic Warming in Europe During the Last Decades
C. De Jager (Netherlands), Myths and Facts about the Origin of the Universe
M. Wonner (France), Turmoil Around a PhD in Sociology for an Astrologer in La Sorbonne University
J. Grygar (Czech Rep.), The UFO Phenomenon

12.00 - 13.00 Lunch

13.00 - 15.00 Miscellanea, co-chaired by M. T. Beck, M. Wonner, and J. Zahradil
J. W. Nienhuys (Netherlands), Morfogenesis and Crystals
M. T. Beck (Hungary), Bad Science and Parasciences are Social Constructions
J. Zahradil (Czech Rep.), Arrogance of Blind Faith
T. Trachet (Belgium), Historical Enigmas
C. De Jager, Closing Remarks

The Registration will start on Friday, September 7, 2001 from 11 a.m.. in the room 205, adjacent to the Lecture Hall 206 (2nd floor of the building of the Academy of Sciences). The Registration and Information Desk will be then open according to the Congress programme. On Friday afternoon to 5 p.m., on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be an Info-poster located in front of the Lecture hall where the up-to-date programme of the lectures, information on the Congress Social Programme and other organisational details will be hanged out.

The lectures will take place in a building of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Lecture Hall 206 (2nd Floor). During the morning and afternoon sessions a small refreshment will be served (coffee breaks). Official language of the Congress is English and no translation service will be provided. The lunches will not be provided by the organisers, but it is easy to choose among a number of restaurants in a close neighbourhood of the Academy Building.


All up-to-date detailed information will be available on the info-posters in front of the Congress hall

Sightseeing walk-in downtown Prague on Friday afternoon, September 7, 2001. All the participants are invited to take part in a short walk through the historical centre of Prague. The guided walking tour will start from the Congress place at 5.15 p.m. Estimate duration is 2 hours.

Welcome reception will take place on Friday, September 7, 2001 from 8 p.m. in a restaurant "Staroceská koliba", Národní 15, Praha 1 (basement of the "Crystalland" house) Festive Dinner will be held on Saturday evening from 8 p.m. Price USD 35. The dinner takes place in a barn in the village Stredokluky not far from Prague and includes transport by bus, a folklore programme, dinner and unlimited consumption of Moravian wines. Bus transport will be secured by the organisers. For the detailed information, please, see the Congress Info-poster. Special programme for accompanying persons as visits to historical monuments, sight-seeing, concert etc. will be organised according to interest. There are also travel agencies in the centre of Prague which offer various trips and sight-seeing tours and it is relatively simple to secure individually an excursion on site. You may get more information on the following web pages:
http://www.prague-info.cz ,
http://www.a-zprague.cz ,
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GARY CONDIT: He wasn't her first affair.

August 12, 2001 -- Chandra Levy's love affair with Gary Condit was spiced with passion and intellectual debate, and tempered with disagreements, New York astrologist Susan Miller says. Miller paints a picture of a determined but soft woman of high ideals drawn to "strong, self-made leadership types."

Levy, an Aries, was "attracted and repelled by powerful men" because she liked strong men but resented being "treated like one of their employees."

Condit, a Taurus, could fall in and out of love quickly, needed variety in his sex life, but tended to keep an "objective distance" mentally.

"They both tended to stick to their guns when they disagreed, which evidently was a problem in this relationship," said Miller, who has just completed a 20-city tour of the U.S. to promote her new book, "Planets and Possibilities." Miller's work can be accessed online at http://www.astrologyzone.com.

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.

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Today's Headlines - August 8, 2001

Virtually every major metropolitan daily newspaper features coverage this morning from the symposium on the science of cloning convened by the National Academy of Sciences. The focus is on the three groups of researchers who say they will press ahead in their efforts to clone human beings, and the reactions their vows drew from other scientists participating in the forum.

Aaron Zitner, writing in The Los Angeles Times, termed yesterday's proceedings "part academic melee and part media circus." Edward Epstein of The San Francisco Chronicle points out that Brigitte Boisselier, one of the most widely quoted of the pro-cloning researchers, is affiliated with a religious sect that believes "life on Earth was originally created by extraterrestrials through cloning."

Below is a brief excerpt from The New York Times, followed by links to coverage from various media outlets.

from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 - Despite warnings from leading experts that the experiments in human cloning would inevitably lead to babies that are deformed, or die soon after birth, a fertility doctor, a chemist and a scientist-entrepreneur nevertheless vowed today to press ahead with separate efforts to create the first cloned human being.

"This will be done," said the chemist, Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, who directs a company in the Bahamas and is a member of a religious sect, the Raelians, for whom human cloning is a goal.

The entrepreneur, Dr. Panayiotis Michael Zavos, who runs laboratories in Kentucky, conceded there were hurdles to be overcome but said, "We are determined to get there."

Drs. Boisselier and Zavos made their remarks at a symposium convened by the National Academy of Sciences, an independent research organization that has established a panel of experts to study the science of cloning. They were joined by Dr. Severino Antinori, an Italian fertility specialist who gained notice in the mid-1990's by using in vitro fertilization to help a 62-year-old woman have a baby.




Chicago Tribune:


Los Angeles Times:


San Francisco Chronicle:


Washington Post:


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 - The space shuttle Discovery is poised to take a new crew to live on the International Space Station, a trip that will mark a hiatus in what has been a hectic series of construction missions.

The shuttle and a crew of seven astronauts, including three who are to stay aboard the station for at least four months, are scheduled to lift off on a 12-day mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday at 5:38 p.m.

NASA began a three-day launching countdown on Monday after analyzing the hydraulic steering system of the Discovery's left booster rocket. Engineers had been concerned about a fuel injector that was manufactured in a batch with one recently found to be damaged but cleared the part after inspecting all similar components in the agency's inventory.

Unlike recent shuttle missions, the Discovery will not carry any major new segments for the space station. The primary purposes of this flight are to rotate the crew, fill the larder, change the linens and take out the garbage. The shuttle will also deliver more scientific experiments.


from The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Women and the elderly, who make up a significant portion of heart disease patients, are still vastly underrepresented in heart-related studies despite federal efforts to close the gap, according to a study.

The problem seriously hampers cardiologists trying to decide what treatments are best for their patients, said Dr. Eric Peterson, an associate cardiology professor at Duke University and one of the authors of the study in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study reviewed 593 studies published from 1966 through March of last year and found only slight gains in female and elderly representation during the past decade.

The enrollment of women has risen from 20 percent for studies published through 1990 to 25 percent for those published from 1991-2000. About 43 percent of all U.S. heart attack patients are women.


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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 9, 2001

from The Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- After months of deliberations, President Bush will announce his decision tonight on whether to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

It's one of the biggest decisions of Bush's presidency, pitting many scientists and research advocates against anti-abortion forces. "I am fairly comfortable with the decision that the president is going to make and I'm very confident that the American people will be as well," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Thompson has been pushing the president to let the research go forward.

Bush intends to disclose his decision in a 9 p.m. EDT nationally televised address from his ranch, where he is spending a month on vacation.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said the speech would run about eight to 10 minutes. He would not disclose the president's decision.


from The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON - As President Bush and Congress consider placing limits on stem cell research, some US companies and scientists working in the field are making plans to shift their operations overseas to countries with few restrictions on such work.

Roger Pedersen, one of the nation's leading researchers in the area, has already announced he is leaving the University of California at San Francisco to pursue his work in England, which has legalized stem-cell research and so-called therapeutic cloning designed to produce stem cells.

In Massachusetts, Advanced Cell Technology Inc. of Worcester, considered one of the main players in stem-cell research, has said it will follow suit if the US Senate votes in favor of a ban on therapeutic cloning, passed by the House last week.

Fearful that they soon may face restrictions on both funding and the way they conduct their research, other companies have taken steps to protect their positions in the race to develop potentially lucrative treatments using stem cells.


from The Christian Science Monitor

Tiny, previously unknown bacteria are turning out to be key sustainers of ocean life and its ability to sequester global-warming carbon dioxide.

Like the bacteria that live on the roots of peas and beans, these marine microbes take nitrogen from the air and "fix" it in chemical forms that fertilize plants.

Microscopic marine plants feed microscopic animals. This mix of floating organisms, known collectively as plankton, underlies all marine food chains. That's why scientists call the tiny plants the grass of the sea.

Now you can extend that metaphor to call nitrogen-fixing bacteria the sea's legumes.


from The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - In the middle of the grand foyer of the National Academy of Sciences building, a flock of reporters and cameras stood in a tight circle listening to Panayiotis Zavos explain the ins and outs of cloning. He had come to defend the controversial plan he and a partner recently announced - to begin cloning a human being by the end of the year. He had been talking for 10 minutes, when a man burst into the room.

"You are a disgrace. This is a disgrace. This is a violation of human rights," he yelled.

Dr. Zavos, one of an international team defending the use of cloning as a way to help some 200 infertile couples have children, put his head down and walked out of the room. The representatives of the media, pens and pads already drawn, turned to talk to the man.

And that, in essence, is the state of the cloning debate in Washington.

Science in general is not often a topic well-handled by the policy mavens and lobbyists of this town. But cloning in particular, a complicated topic even in the realm of science, can be particularly poorly suited for a city where most issues are generally reduced to the "Crossfire" dialectic (You're wrong. No, you're wrong). And that has some here concerned.


from Newsday

This summer, one of the most prescribed group of drugs in the United States has become one of the most controversial.

The American Heart Association recently issued new guidelines recommending that women not go on hormone replacement therapy solely to prevent heart attacks and stroke, a change from its former position.

Earlier this summer, an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association made national news by questioning whether estrogen helps prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis in older women.

Some recent clinical studies have suggested that the benefits of the powerful drug aren't so clear-cut as scientists once thought and the risks may be greater. (Other studies have been more positive.)


from The New York Times

LAST week in Illinois, three patients with severe retinal disease had an unusual operation: tiny silicon chips were implanted in their eyes.

The microchips are artificial retinas designed to fill in for damaged cells and help restore lost vision. Three other patients with damaged retinas had silicon chips implanted last year in similar operations.

The surgeries are part of a study, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, that allows the devices to be placed in 10 volunteers. "The first three patients have tolerated the chips for a year with no problems," said Dr. Alan Chow, a pediatric ophthalmologist who, with his brother, Vincent, invented the chip and is directing work on its development. Dr. Chow is chief operating officer of Optobionics, a privately held company in Wheaton, Ill., that produced the silicon implant.


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

Sigma Xi Homepage

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For feedback on In the News,

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 10, 2001

from The Washington Post

President Bush last night announced the federal government will begin to pay for a limited amount of research on stem cells from human embryos, a politically charged decision that will move taxpayer money slowly into a controversial but promising field of medical inquiry.

In his first presidential address to the American people, Bush said federal grants may be used to conduct studies solely on stem cells that have been harvested from embryos left over at fertility clinics. But he prohibited subsidies of research that involved the creation or destruction of additional embryos.

The decision, which could be overridden by Congress, represents essentially the most restrictive use of federal money the administration could have permitted short of a ban.

Saying the decision placed him at a "difficult moral intersection," Bush, an opponent of abortion, told a television audience last night that research on stem cells "offers both great promise and great peril, so I have decided we must proceed with great care."


from The Los Angeles Times:

...Several prominent scientists immediately criticized the decision, saying that Bush had adopted restrictions that would prevent the government from jump-starting the single most promising avenue of medical research. Embryo stem cells can grow into nearly any type of tissue in the body, and scientists hope to learn how to mold them into heart cells for cardiac patients, pancreas cells for diabetics and replacement brain cells for people with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.

In particular, researchers questioned Bush's claim that private companies had already created 60 sets of stem cells, or cell lines, from human embryos and that research could advance using only those cells.

Last month, the National Institutes of Health conducted a detailed survey and found 30 cell lines, some of which did not come from embryos and which therefore might not be as useful. Douglas Melton, a leading researcher and chairman of Harvard University's department of molecular and cellular biology, said that only 10 of those lines had been described in scientific publications and that little was known about the others.

"And some of those 10 cell lines don't grow well at all and are largely useless," Melton said. "There are only one or two that I know of that are helpful." Moreover, he said, private companies hold the rights to some of the existing cell lines, and they are not willing to share them on terms that academic researchers can accept.


More on Bush's tally of stem cell lines from Newsday

Most scientists involved in stem cell research were surprised that President Bush said there were 60 embryonic stem cell lines available for research, but they called the revelation "good news."

"I thought there were only about a dozen out there," said Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, a University of Minnesota researcher who plans to apply for a National Institutes of Health stem cell study grant.

Stem cells are created by removing an inner cell mass from a 5- to 7-day old embryo. The procedure kills the embryo. When properly nurtured, the cells are able to replicate, or divide, virtually forever, creating what is called a stem cell line.

Before Bush's announcement, researchers had said some of the dozen would fail to meet the strict the NIH guidelines.


from Newsday

Stem cell science offers a wholly new approach to intractable diseases. At the same time, the issue is deeply controversial.

Some opponents simply argue against fiddling with Mother Nature. Others view the use of embryonic stem cells - isolated from embryos - as murder, sure that the life of an individual begins at conception, whether in-utero or in-vitro. Thus it is closely tied to the abortion debate, not soon to be resolved.

In the absence of consensus, here are points to consider:


from The Associated Press

Scientists say fungi and early plants may have colonized land millions of years earlier than previously thought, an event that could have had a major impact on climate and life on Earth.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University estimate that fungi first appeared on land about 1.3 billion years ago, followed by early plants about 700 million years ago.

"We were actually quite shocked. We had no idea that fungi were quite so old," said S. Blair Hedges, who led the research team that conducted the new study.

"That really caused us to look closely at land plants, and after finding land plants were so old, that took us to another question, which was: How could the presence of these land plants have affected land and climate?" he said in a telephone interview.

The team's findings are published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.


from The Christian Science Monitor

Perseid, the granddaddy of meteor showers, is in the midst of a month-long run and will reach a peak rate of some 60 meteors per hour this weekend.

"The Perseids is the most faithful meteor shower every year; you are guaranteed to see some," says Brian Marsden, a cometary scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "And it has the advantage of occurring in August, when it's warm. You don't have to go out in the middle of winter as you do in order to see the Leonid meteors."

Indeed, the Perseid meteor shower is one of summer's cheap thrills. All you need to enjoy it is a lawn chair, bug spray, and, preferably, a good night's sleep the evening before, since the best viewing hours are between midnight and dawn's early light.

The Perseids (pronounced purr-see-ids) are named after the constellation Perseus, from which the bright streaks of light appear to originate, although the meteors have nothing to do with the distant star formation.


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Darwin Award nominee

A Romanian boy is to have a new penis built using tissue from his mouth after losing his original one in a dare.

Doctors at Grigore Alexandrescu Children's Hospital in Bucharest are promising the 10-year-old a fully working organ.

Ionut Stanga had part of his penis ripped off as he took part in a dare in exchange for a slice of water melon.

A market trader in Bucharest reportedly said he would give the boy free fruit if he tried to pull a trailer with his penis tied to it.

The man, however, is alleged to have dropped the trailer's front bar, which tore off the 10-year-old's penis and urethra.

The trader, who was arrested, said it had been a joke. If found guilty of corporal mutilation, he could be imprisoned for up to seven years.

The missing part of Ionut's organ will be replaced with tissue from his mouth. He has already had the first in a series of operations needed to complete the reconstruction. It is the first surgery of its kind in Romania, reports the daily newspaper Evenimentul Zilei.

Chief surgeon Dr Marin Lascu said: "The intervention went normally and the little patient feels good. For now, we only reinserted the cavernous ligaments of the genital organ, which was not very complicated.

"In two weeks the boy will have more surgery. Tissue will be taken from the mouth and we will try to cover the rest of the penis."

Dr Florin Tudose, chief psychiatrist at the hospital, said: "The boy's penis will be completely redone. He will be a normal person with full sexual abilities. The psychological trauma will also be healed in time."

See this story on the web at


Parapsychology foundation


Parapsychology foundation provides resources to scientists out of mainstream
LUKAS I. ALPERT, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, August 4, 2001
©2001 Associated Press

(08-04) 13:47 PDT NEW YORK (AP) --

If you're doing intensive research on clairvoyant dreams or a house being spooked by a poltergeist, and you need financial support or academic resources, who ya gonna call?

For the past 50 years, parapsychologists have looked to the Parapsychology Foundation.

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