NTS LogoSkeptical News for 12 February 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts


Over the last few hundred years, many perplexing artifacts have been unearthed that do not fit the currently excepted theories of geology and the history of man.

The Bible tells us that God created Adam and Eve just a few thousand years ago, by some fundamentalist interpretations. Science informs us that this is mere fiction and that man is a few million years old, and that civilization just tens of thousands of years old. Could it be, however, that conventional science is just as mistaken as the Bible stories? There is a great deal of archeological evidence that the history of life on earth might be far different that what current geological and anthropological texts tell us. Consider these astonishing finds:

The Grooved Spheres
Over the last few decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious metal spheres. Origin unknown, these spheres measure approximately an inch or so in diameter, and some are etched with three parallel grooves running around the equator. Two types of spheres have been found: one is composed of a solid bluish metal with flecks of white; the other is hollowed out and filled with a spongy white substance. The kicker is that the rock in which they where found is Precambrian - and dated to 2.8 billion years old! Who made them and for what purpose in unknown.

The Dropa Stones
In 1938, an archeological expedition led by Dr. Chi Pu Tei into the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains of China made an astonishing discovery in some caves that had apparently been occupied by some ancient culture. Buried in the dust of ages on the cave floor were hundreds of stone disks. Measuring about nine inches in diameter, each had a circle cut into the center and was etched with a spiral groove, making it look for all the world like some ancient phonograph record some 10,000 to 12,000 years old. The spiral groove, it turns out, is actually composed of tiny hieroglyphics that told the incredible story of spaceships from some distant world that crash-landed in the mountains. The ships were piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, and the remains of whose descendents, possibly, were found in the cave.

The Ica Stones
Beginning in the 1930s, the father of Dr. Javier Cabrera, Cultural Anthropologist for Ica, Peru, discovered many hundreds of ceremonial burial stones in the tombs of the ancient Incas. Dr. Cabrera, carrying on his father's work, has collected more than 1,100 of these andesite stones, which are estimated to be between 500 and 1,500 years old and have become known collectively as the Ica Stones. The stones bear etchings, many of which are sexually graphic (which was common to the culture), some picture idols and others depict such practices as open-heart surgery and brain transplants. The most astonishing etchings, however, clearly represent dinosaurs - brontosaurs, triceratops (see photo), stegosaurus and pterosaurs. While skeptics consider the Ica Stones a hoax, their authenticity has neither been proved or disproved.

The Antikythera Mechanism
A perplexing artifact was recovered by sponge-divers from a shipwreck in 1900 off the coast of Antikythera, a small island that lies northwest of Crete. The divers brought up from the wreck a great many marble and and bronze statues that had apparently been the ship's cargo. Among the findings was a hunk of corroded bronze that contained some kind of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. Writing on the case indicated that it was made in 80 B.C., and many experts at first thought it was an astrolabe, an astronomer's tool. An X-Ray of the mechanism, however, revealed it to be far more complex, containing a sophisticated system of differential gears. Gearing of this complexity was not known to exist until 1575! It is still unknown who constructed this amazing instrument 2,000 years ago or how the technology was lost.

The Baghdad Battery
Today batteries can be found in any grocery, drug, convenience and department store you come across. Well, here's a battery that's 2,000 years old! Known as the Baghdad Battery, this curiosity was found in the ruins of a Parthian village believed to date back to between 248 B.C. and 226 A.D. The device consists of a 5-1/2-inch high clay vessel inside of which was a copper cylinder held in place by asphalt, and inside of that was an oxidized iron rod. Experts who examined it concluded that the device needed only to be filled with an acid or alkaline liquid to produce an electric charge. It is believed that this ancient battery might have been used for electroplating objects with gold. If so, how was this technology lost... and the battery not rediscovered for another 1,800 years?

The Coso Artifact
While mineral hunting in the mountains of California near Olancha during the winter of 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell found a rock, among many others, that they thought was a geode - a good addition for their gem shop. Upon cutting it open, however, Mikesell found an object inside that seemed to be made of white porcelain. In the center was a shaft of shiny metal. Experts estimated that it should have taken about 500,000 years for this fossil-encrusted nodule to form, yet the object inside was obviously of sophisticated human manufacture. Further investigation revealed that the porcelain was surround by a hexagonal casing, and an X-Ray revealed a tiny spring at one end. Some who have examined the evidence say it looks very much like a modern-day spark plug. How did it get inside a 500,000-year-old rock?

Ancient Model Aircraft
There are artifacts belonging to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures that look amazingly like modern-day aircraft. The Egyptian artifact, found in a tomb at Saqquara, Egypt in 1898, is a six-inch wooden object that strongly resembles a model airplane, with fuselage, wings and tail. Experts believe the object is so aerodynamic that it is actually able to glide. The small object discovered in Central America (shown at right), and estimated to be 1,000 years old, is made of gold and could easily be mistaken for a model of a delta-wing aircraft - or even the Space Shuttle. It even features what looks like a pilot's seat.

Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica
Workmen hacking and burning their way through the dense jungle of Costa Rica to clear an area for banana plantations in the 1930s stumbled upon some incredible objects: dozens of stone balls, many or which were perfectly spherical. They varied in size from as small as a tennis ball to an astonishing 8 feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons! Although the great stone balls are clearly man-made, it is unknown who made them, for what purpose and, most puzzling, how they achieved such spherical precision.

Impossible Fossils
Fossils, as we learned in grade school, appear in rocks that were formed many thousands of years ago. Yet there are a number of fossils that just don't make geological or historical sense. A fossil of a human handprint, for example, was found in limestone estimated to be 110 million years old. What appears to be a fossilized human finger found in the Canadian Arctic also dates back 100 to 110 million years ago. And what appears to be the fossil of a human footprint, possibly wearing a sandal, was found near Delta, Utah in a shale deposit estimated to be 300 million to 600 million years old.

Out-of-Place Metal Objects
Humans were not even around 65 million years ago, never mind people who could work metal. So then how does science explain semi-ovoid metallic tubes dug out of 65-million-year-old Cretaceous chalk in France? In 1885, a block of coal was broken open to find a metal cube obviously worked by intelligent hands. In 1912, employees at an electric plant broke apart a large chunk of coal out of which fell an iron pot! A nail was found embedded in a sandstone block from the Mesozoic Era. And there are many, many more such anomalies.

What are we to make of these finds? There are several possibilities:

Intelligent humans date back much, much further than we realize. Other intelligent beings and civilizations existed on earth far beyond our recorded history. Our dating methods are completely inaccurate, and that stone, coal and fossils form much more rapidly than we now estimate. In any case, these examples - and there are many more - should prompt any curious and open-minded scientist to reexamine and rethink the true history of life on earth.

Onion: Archaeologist tired of unearthing unspeakable ancient evils

From The Onion (and therefore a parody):


HASAKE, SYRIA-When archaeologist Edward Whitson joined a Penn State University dig in Hasake last year, he did so to participate in the excavation of a Late Bronze Age settlement rich in pottery shards and clay figurines. Whitson had hoped to determine whether the items contained within the site were primarily Persian or Assyrian in origin.

Instead, he found himself fleeing giant flying demon-cats as he ran through the temple's cavernous halls, jumping from ledge to ledge while locked in a desperate struggle for his life and soul for what seemed like the thousandth time in his 27-year career.

"All I wanted to do was study the settlement's remarkably well-preserved kiln," said the 58-year-old Whitson, carefully recoiling the rope he had just used to clamber out of a pit filled with giant rats. "I didn't want to be chased by yet another accursed manifestation of an ancient god-king's wrath."

Over the course of his career, Whitson has been frequently lauded by colleagues for his thorough, methodical examinations of ancient peoples. He has also been chased by the snake-bodied ophidian women of Al'lat in Israel, hunted down by Mayan coyote specters manifested out of lost time and shadow in the Yucatan, and hounded by the Arctic-sky-filling Walrus Bone Woman of the early Inuits.

"It's true, I've got to stop reading the inscriptions on ancient door seals out loud," Whitson said. "I also need to quit dusting off medallions set into strange sarcophagi, allowing the light to hit them for the first time in centuries. And replacing the jewels that have fallen from the foreheads of ancient frog-deity statues-that's just bad archaeological practice."

Whitson added that he hopes one day to excavate an ancient Egyptian monastery or marketplace without hearing the ear-splitting shrieks of the undead while being swarmed by green-glowing carnivorous stink beetles.

"I realize I'm entering grounds that are considered sacred to these people," Whitson said. "But that doesn't mean I deserve to be pelted with poison-tipped darts shot from cavern walls. A simple 'Do Not Enter' sign in hieroglyphics would suffice."

Turning to the subject of his latest incident at a dig site in Peru, Whitson maintains he was not at fault for summoning the forces of evil.

"I was just idly rearranging flint sickle blades that had already been catalogued. Apparently, I spelled out the true name of a long-dead god-priest," Whitson said. "Can't a man even clean up his work area without inadvertently conjuring up a pack of lightning-breathing ocelots?"

Making matters worse, such encounters have had little to no scientific value.

"It's always, 'I will drink your soul' or 'I will chew the flesh from your bones' with these hellish apparitions," Whitson said. "When I ask them if that means the ancient Etruscans did, in fact, add copper to their mixing clay to make their urns more sturdy, they don't even seem to hear me."

Worn down by nearly three decades of peril, Whitson said he plans to move off the front lines to become a museum curator or in-office researcher.

"It's unfortunate," Whitson said. "Nothing quite compares to being out in the field on an actual dig. But the reality is, I'm really starting to hate almost getting killed all the time."

Now, a Down-to-Earth Approach to the Stars


Now, a Down-to-Earth Approach to the Stars

Astrology: School offers diplomas for students, who learn to write horoscopes and offer advice based on position of celestial bodies.

While many debunk astrologers' predictions as mere parlor tricks, others argue astrology is a legitimate field of study. Renowned physicist Albert Einstein said it is "a science in itself and [it] contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things." School's charter revoked Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle


A Fresno public charter school created by Muslims that sprouted 14 satellite campuses from the Bay Area to Southern California was shut down last night for safety, finance and education violations.

The Fresno Unified School District board voted unanimously to revoke Gateway Academy's charter after finding that the school had $1.3 million in debt, teachers without credentials, employees without criminal background checks and falsified attendance records.

Cults prompt China to boost science literacy


Jia Hepeng

The China Association for Science and Technology — the country's main body responsible for raising public awareness of science — has launched a nationwide campaign to spread basic scientific knowledge among its 1.3 billion people.

The move partly reflects a desire to counter the 'pseudoscientific' information propagated by popular cults. It comes shortly after the publication of a survey carried out by the association that revealed a high level of scientific illiteracy in China (see Chinese science literacy low but rising).

The new campaign will focus on community-based scientific exhibitions, and on setting up courses to provide basic scientific information to Chinese citizens. According to a spokesman for the organisation, efforts will be made to increase the general level of scientific knowledge among government officials.

The government's desire to combat the low level of scientific literacy has been heightened by its fight against the Falungong movement which, the government says, communicates a large amount of 'unscientific' knowledge among more than two million followers.

The association has proposed that every province and city in China should build a science museum, and has offered to help universities and research institutes hold public meetings as part of its efforts to spread scientific knowledge.

One month ago, the association and the publicity department of China's ruling Communist Party jointly launched a science popularisation movement among the country's vast rural areas, using a motorcade carrying scientific exhibitions and science communicators that will travel to eight Chinese provinces.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Faith healer tells woman to carry her savings before 'robbing her'

This one is something new. Usually, faith healers rob you by sending you a bill, but this one took the direct route... From Ananova at:


A Chilean faith healer allegedly told a woman to carry all of her money with her - and then stole her life savings.

The victim claims the healer told her keeping her savings with her would improve her sense of self-worth.

But she says she was hypnotised and robbed of about £1,000 at her next session with the healer.

Alejandra V, 30, said the healer told her she was cured and could go home when she awoke from her trance.

But when she got back to her home in Santiago, she realised all her money had disappeared.

Alejandra told police that the healer told her she was a victim of black magic and needed exorcising.

At the healing sessions, the woman said lots of prayers and spells and on one occasion boiled an egg in Alejandra's urine, she said.

Detectives told newspaper Las Ultimas Noticias that the healer had disappeared and they had no clues to her whereabouts.

Science In the News

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Today's Headlines - February 12, 2002

from The San Francisco Chronicle

The terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center last September exposed New Yorkers downwind to the most hazardous plumes of extremely fine chemical and metal particles that experts have ever seen, University of California scientists reported yesterday.

As the twin towers collapsed into flaming rubble after they were hit by two hijacked airliners, wind gusts continued sending up thick clouds containing millions of the particles for weeks afterward.

The unprecedented pollution was far worse than that from the Kuwait oil field fires set by Iraq during the Gulf War or the soot-filled air from Beijing's wintertime coal-burning furnaces, said UC Davis researcher Thomas Cahill, a specialist in analyzing airborne particles who led a team investigating the catastrophe's consequences for the Department of Energy.

"Those particles downwind over New York were like nothing we've ever seen anywhere," Cahill said in an interview yesterday as he and his colleagues released a preliminary report on the team's findings. Cahill heads the UC Davis DELTA Group -- the term stands for Detection and Evaluation of Long- Range Transport of Aerosols -- that has analyzed particulate hazards all over the world.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

London -- As the Afghan people slowly try to rebuild their country and institutions after the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda, experts are taking stock of the most recent destruction of the country's rich cultural heritage -- the obliteration of statues of Buddha.

"The situation is grim," said Paul Bucherer-Dietschi, director of Bibliotheca Afghanica, a library and research institute in Switzerland. He recently returned from a UNESCO-sponsored tour of Afghanistan to assess what could be salvaged of the destroyed Buddhas in Bamiyan and the Kabul Museum.

The two giant Buddhas (170 and 114 feet high) and a smaller one (about 26 feet) had stood in Bamiyan for more than 15 centuries before being blasted into dust last March. The al Qaeda leaders and the Taliban saw them as an affront to Islam. The tallest of the statues was the largest Buddha in the world.

"All three statues were 100 percent destroyed," Bucherer-Dietschi said during a recent visit to London. "It was a very professional job."


from The Washington Post

A region of the brain a few inches behind the bridge of the nose may hold the key to why some people have a negative outlook on life, scientists announced yesterday.

The study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to examine the neurological roots of what scientists call "negative affect," a trait that predisposes people to anxiety, irritability, anger and a range of other unpleasant moods.

By suggesting that an unconscious disposition toward these emotions may be molded by a specific area in the brain, the research moves into previously uncharted waters. It is part of a broad effort by neuroscientists in recent years to use powerful brain imaging technology to pinpoint the areas of the brain responsible for various emotions.


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 - At first glance, President Bush's proposed budget for the 2003 fiscal year includes a healthy increase for scientific research and development: $8.6 billion, or 8.3 percent, to a record $111.8 billion.

But a closer look shows that the scientific budgets for most agencies will remain level or even decline under the president's plan.

The big winners, it turns out, are in just two agencies, each with a heavy emphasis on security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. One, the Defense Department research budget, would receive $5.4 billion more than in 2002, a 10.9 percent increase, and the other, the National Institutes of Health, would receive $3.7 billion, or 15.7 percent, more.

Of the overall $8.6 billion increase, more than $3 billion would go to antiterrorism activity like vaccines and treatments for biological attack, and to homeland security, with the health institutes and the Pentagon receiving most of that money. Most of the Pentagon's added research budget is earmarked for weapons.


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 - NASA says the future of space exploration is rooted in the past, and it is time to look again at nuclear power as the way to the stars.

Years after largely abandoning efforts to apply atomic power to space, NASA last week announced a Nuclear Systems Initiative that it said could jump-start space exploration within a decade. Tucked away in the Bush administration's proposed 2003 budget for the agency is $125.5 million to begin moving NASA into a new nuclear age.

In the early days of the space program, NASA looked into nuclear-powered rockets as a possible means of sending humans to Mars and other planets. The agency tested some atomic rocket engines, but abandoned the effort because no missions arose to use them. In the new program, nuclear reactors would not directly produce thrust to propel rockets as in the earlier program, but would be activated when far from Earth, to supply power for other types of engines.


from The Boston Globe

A controversial Kentucky-based fertility specialist said yesterday he plans to begin efforts next month to clone a human being.

Panayiotis Zavos, a retired University of Kentucky professor, told the Globe that his international team has selected 10 infertile couples to participate in the procedure. Several of the couples are American, but the cloning attempts will take place in another country, which Zavos would not disclose.

Zavos predicted success by year's end. ''We will definitely make this work. We've done a great deal of work,'' he said. ''We will have mishaps ... This has not been done before.''

Zavos has boasted he would be the first to clone a human. Although he has little academic reputation, often speaks in hyperbole, and maintains tight secrecy around his work, scientists take his claims seriously. ''Can he do this technically? He probably can,'' said Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, a cloning expert at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute in Cambridge.


from The Boston Globe

After Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan lost $26 million last year, the hospital decided it needed a few new superstar physicians. So the New York teaching center turned to Boston, where it spent millions to lure away four top surgeons from Brigham and Women's Hospital and build a new surgery program.

Last week, Mount Sinai bought a full-page national ad in The New York Times to trumpet that it had hired a world-renowned team of cardiac and thoracic surgeons from Harvard Medical School, the Brigham's university affiliate. ''The best just got better,'' the Upper East Side hospital declared.

Mount Sinai's recruitment coup took about 20 percent of the Brigham's cardiothoracic surgeons and four support staff. The terms of the deal are secret, but doctors say it involved a ''seven-figure salary'' for the lead surgeon, Dr. David H. Adams, and the promise of seven newly renovated operating rooms for his team.


from The New York Times

A severe winter storm in mid-January killed as many as 270 million monarch butterflies in the mountains of central Mexico, the largest known die- off ever of the species, researchers say.

"I've been going down there for 25 years and I've never seen anything like it," said Dr. Lincoln Brower, a butterfly biologist. "It was really macabre."

Most of the monarchs in the two biggest colonies in Mexico were killed in the storm, according to a new report by Brower and a team of researchers from Mexico and the United States. However, the loss of life is not expected to threaten the species, they said.

Brower, of Sweet Briar College in Virginia, estimates that 74 percent of the monarchs at the Sierra Chincua colony and 80 percent at the Rosario colony had been killed. Along with a few smaller colonies, which scientists have not surveyed, the butterflies in these major colonies make up the entire breeding stock of monarchs for the eastern United States and Canada.


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Commending the State Board of Education for
Supporting the Teaching Cosmic and Geological Evolution
and Opposing the Forced Teaching of "Intelligent Design", a Creationist Belief, in Public School Science Education

WHEREAS, it is a responsibility of the Ohio Academy of Science to preserve the integrity of science; and

WHEREAS, science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena, explanations that are open to further testing, revision, and falsification, and while not "believed in" through faith may be accepted or rejected on the basis of evidence; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution, as presently defined, fully satisfies these criteria, especially when its teaching considers the remaining debates concerning its detailed mechanisms; and

WHEREAS, under the authority of Senate Bill 55, the State Board of Education is required to develop and test competencies of students in science and other areas of education;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has included cosmic and geological evolution in the recently adopted 12th grade science competencies;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recently rejected an effort to include "Intelligent Design" in the 12th grade competencies;

WHEREAS, these actions of the State Board of Education have elevated Ohio into a leadership position in science education among all states;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The Ohio Academy of Science commends the State Board of Education for its vision and integrity in recognizing the significance of cosmic and geological evolution and resisting efforts of some creationists to impose their religious views, masked as "intelligent design", as if this were science.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the OAS urges citizens, educational authorities, and legislators to commend the State Board of Education for their recent actions to include cosmic and geological evolution in 12th grade competencies and to oppose the compulsory inclusion in the state competencies and proficiency tests for science education of religious beliefs that are not amenable to the process of scrutiny, testing, and revision that is indispensable to science.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the OAS urges citizens, educational authorities including the State Board of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents, and legislators to include, explicitly, not only cosmic and geological evolution but also biological evolution in the curricula, state competencies and proficiency tests for science education.

ADOPTED March 31, 2000 by the Board of Trustees of The Ohio Academy of Science; based on a similar resolution adopted by the Academy on February 28, 2000.

No Free Lunch


In this just-released book, William Dembski argues that Darwin's theory does not mean that life was unintended. Dembski extends his theory of intelligent design, and building on his earlier work in The Design Inference (Cambridge, 1998), he defends that life must be the product of intelligent design.

More from Ohio

Phillip Johnson's Weekly Wedge Update


January 31, 2002

This installment was prepared with a mighty assist from John Calvert, a retired Kansas City attorney who was one of the friends of freedom who came forward to help in the Kansas Controversy of 1999. Eventually the Darwinists were able to employ their media monopoly and political power to intimidate the people of Kansas and defeat some of the courageous state school board members for re-election, whereupon the new board bowed to their will. I recall Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas asking me if I was discouraged by the defeat. Not at all, I answered. We have raised new forces, and forged an alliance between groups that were formerly suspicious of each other. We will fight again, and eventually the leaders of science will learn that the costs of imposing a pseudoscientific materialism on America are too great for them to bear.

Happy birthday, Charlie!

$20,000 Offer to U.S.-licensed medical doctors

THE FOLLOWING OFFER is made to U.S.-licensed medical doctors who routinely administer childhood vaccinations and to pharmaceutical company CEOs worldwide:

Jock Doubleday, president of the California nonprofit corporation Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc., hereby offers $20,000.00 (U.S.) to the first medical doctor or pharmaceutical company CEO who publicly drinks a mixture of standard vaccine additive ingredients in the same amount as a six-year-old child is recommended to receive under the year-2000 guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mixture will not contain viruses or bacteria dead or alive, but will contain standard vaccine additive ingredients in their usual forms and proportions. The mixture will include, but will not be limited to: thimerosal (a mercury derivative), ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum. The mixture will be prepared by Jock Doubleday, three medical professionals that he names, and three medical professionals that the participant names. The mixture will be body weight calibrated.

The participant agrees, and any and all agents and associates of the participant agree, to indemnify and hold harmless in perpetuity any and all persons, organizations, or entities associated with the event for any harm caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, to the participant or indirectly to the participant´s heirs, relations, employers, employees, colleagues, associates, or other persons, organizations, or entities claiming association with, or representation of, the participant, by the participant´s participation in the event.

Because the participant is either a professional caregiver who routinely administers childhood vaccinations, or a pharmaceutical company CEO whose business is, in part, the sale of childhood vaccines, it is understood by all parties that the participant considers all vaccine additive ingredients to be safe and that the participant considers any mixture containing these ingredients to be safe.

The event will be held within six months of the participant´s written agreement to the above and further elaborated terms. This offer, dated January 29, 2001, has no expiration date unless superceded by a similar offer of higher remuneration.

Contact Jock Doubleday at jockdoubleday@aol.com

Jock Doubleday - President - Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc.
A California Nonprofit Corporation - P.O. Box 1453
Nevada City, CA 95959

Jock Doubleday is the author of the soon-to-be-published book Spontaneous Creation: 101 Reasons Not to Have Your Baby in a Hospital.
Update on the $20,000 vaccine offer

From Jock, received on the 13th of February 2001

A chiropractor in Germany has just added his $200,000.00 "S Series 600" Mercedes (Brabus E V12) to my original $20,000.00 reward. (Including shipping costs to the U.S.)

See http://www.brabus.com/e12.htm for a picture and more info about the Sedan, which has been named "The Fastest Four-Door Sedan in the World" by the editors of the Guinness Book of Records.

Yours sincerely, Jock Doubleday
President Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc.
A California Nonprofit Corporation - P.O. Box 1453
Nevada City, CA 95959

American youth: religion is an important part of life


Public Release: 8-Feb-2002 ET
American youth: religion is an important part of life

An overwhelming majority of American youth believe religion is an important part of life. Eighty-six percent of Americans aged 11 to 18 believe that religion is an important part of their lives, according to a national survey of 2,004 randomly selected households.

Contact: Jessica Reitano
University of Pennsylvania

Strange cloud puzzles Mars scientists - Your News from Ananova

Astronomers have found a large spiral cloud above a giant Martian volcano.

A passing probe took a picture but scientists aren't sure how long it has been there.

They say the cloud is probably made up of fine dust grains and it is spiraling because of wind patterns in the volcano crater.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_519048.html

Darwin specimens to go on public display for first time in September - Your News from Ananova

Animal specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle will go on public display for the first time in September.

The Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre will eventually have a 22 million-strong collection of insects, animals, plants and rocks.

Darwin was the naturalist on board the Beagle which visited South America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the 1830s. He was born on February 12 1809.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_518944.html

Hindus ordered out of corpse-infested Ganges - Your News from Ananova

Hindu religious leaders are ordering their followers not to bathe in the Ganges because it is so filthy and has corpses floating in it.

Over three million pilgrims have arrived at Allahabad in northern India for the Magh Mela bathing festival.

A bath in the Ganges is thought to release the body from the cycle of birth and death.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_518020.html

We've Got Bigfoot!


And The Aliens Are Back!

J. Scott Wilson , Staff Writer

Posted: 5:09 p.m. EST February 7, 2002
Updated: 10:43 a.m. EST February 8, 2002

It's an exciting week here at the sprawling suburban Weird Chronicles offices. For months now, we've been patient. We've watched the wires, cast the runes, and done auguries on interns trying to find evidence of the elusive creature known as Bigfoot.

We had a full Red Alert last November, but it was just one of the neighbor's kids home for Thanksgiving break. He gave up bathing and shaving, and has been living on takeout pizza and put on a lot of weight. That still doesn't explain why he was snacking on my compost heap, but it was a false alarm nonetheless.

The Tide Turns

Thanks to alert field reporter Jason Hanna, in Indianapolis, we now have our proof! A combination of sharp-eyed Hoosiers and good Indiana mud has yielded solid evidence of the presence of the large, hairy creature in the heartland.

The picture at right was taken on some property near Rick Deckard's home in Monroe County, Ind. Deckard is one of several people in and around the Hoosier National Forest, in the hills of Monroe County south of Bloomington, who have reported signs or sightings of a mysterious, upright-walking creature in the past few years.

The usual academic types, led by Russ Grunden (who, from his picture at left, may be related to our furry friend), of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, have come out of the woodwork saying that the prints were made by an exotic pet, a kid playing tricks, swamp gas, weather balloons, or any of the usual excuses.

Just one problem, Russ old pal: look at how DEEP those prints are. They were made by something weighing well more than 200 pounds. That rules out the neighbor-kid theory. According to Rick and others, there is a distinct bipedal pattern to the tracks, so the "exotic animal" theory is out, unless someone's got a missing lowland gorilla.

Once, just ONCE, I want one of these academic/government types to step out and admit that it's just remotely possible that they don't have everything that crawls, walks, flies or slithers catalogued yet.

Oh, and Rick? Make sure they get the mud stains out of my fur boots. I'll be back up there this weekend!

Cartman Would Be Proud

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office, in Burns, Colo., is baffled. Recently, a number of the bovine residents of the area have gone missing. One rancher, Pat Luark, is missing no less than 22 animals.

The sheriff jokingly claims to have ruled out alien abductions. We know better, don't we, folks? The sheriff claims the culprits must be rustlers or natural predators, but no evidence of either has yet been found.

I'm betting that the aliens were watching me cook and devour one of my patented flame-grilled ribeyes and developed a taste for beef. Look for a saucer trailing the distinct odor of mesquite smoke.

Star sign campaign boosts fortunes of tree planting

From Ananova at


Authorities in western India are using local beliefs in astrology to drive people towards planting more trees.

They are persuading villagers to plant saplings according to their sun signs.

An increase in greenery has been reported in Gujarat following the start of the forest department's campaign.

Thousands of people have taken to planting trees after going through charts identifying various plants with the planets.

Many locals claim their lives have taken a positive turn after they had planted saplings, reports the Jagriti newspaper.

Jakubhai Gala, a farmer from Savli village near Baroda, whose sun sign is Virgo, claims he could marry off all his three daughters within a year of planting a fig tree.

He said: "I am convinced trees have powers to influence our fate."

Teacher Mahendra Trivedi, a Leo, found all his health problems disappearing after he planted an asopalav - a mast tree. "Because of indifferent health my performance as a teacher was greatly reduced. Now not only have I been promoted, I am the most popular man in school," he said.

Ramesh Patel, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said: "The astrological tree plantation concept has worked wonders for the people as well as the environment. We are encouraged to try it out in other areas."

Geminis 'most accident-prone drivers'

From Ananova at


A new survey of Australian accident insurance claims suggests Geminis are the most likely to have a crash.

The survey of Australian accident insurance claims shows Taurean and Piscean drivers come in second and third place.

Suncorp Metway's survey shows Capricorns are least likely to have accidents. The company isn't planning to base its premiums on people's star sign.

"Geminis, typically described as restless, easily bored and frustrated by things moving slowly, had more car accidents than any other sign," Warren Duke, Suncorp's national manager of personal insurance, told The Courier-Mail.

Taureans are thought to be stubborn and inflexible, Pisceans are risk-takers and dare-devils, while Capricorns are generally thought of as patient, he added.

The study is based on 160,000 car accident insurance claims over the last three years.

The full list, starting with the most accident-prone star sign, is as follows: Gemini, Taurus, Pisces, Virgo, Cancer, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Capricorn.

Items of Interest

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

1) Alternative" veterinary treatments for Skeptics
2) Skeptics in the Pub
3) Spiked-Online
4) Articles of Note

1) Alternative" veterinary treatments for Skeptics?

I just received an e-mail from a television documentary producer who is evidently working on an hour-long program dealing with "the explosion of 'alternative' medical therapies offered for pets and other animals." She is interested in "exploring the range of possible outcomes for these treatments." If any hot-line subscribers have had a veterinarian suggest or provide an "alternative" therapy for one or more of your animals, I'd appreciate hearing about it. I'd particularly like to know if such unproven and/or disproved therapies were offered or provided in lieu of ones of proven efficacy, and what the pertinent fees were. Please e-mail me off-list regarding the particulars.

Bob Imrie, DVM
NCAHF Veterinary Task Force


2) Skeptics in the Pub

Hi all Don't forget that Skeptics in the Pub is starting up again for 2002. Our first meeting is John Wall who is an expert on those who propose 'Alternative Histories' for the Earth, where 'Alternative' is very alternative indeed. I look forward to meeting you all and hope to see you there, at the usual place, the Florence Nightingale Pub in central London at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 20 February 2002. For more info (including how to get there instructions and a nice map) and for upcoming speakers, please check out the web site www.skeptics.org.uk/pub.

Nick Pullar

3) Spiked-Online

Hi Barry,

The "Don't Panic Button" column at Spiked-Online is almost always populated with articles which exhibit healthy skepticism about current fears.


An individual such panic/don't article is usually too minor to justify citing in your "Articles of Note" lists. But the regularly-updated page is something which would probably be of interest to your readers.


David V.

4) Articles of Note

Debunking Seeing Without Sight
by Leon Jaroff


"Ashen-faced and weeping, ten-year-old Natalia Lulova sat dejectedly in a Manhattan law office last week while her mother stroked her hair, consoling her. Natalia, who with her family emigrated from Russia three years ago and now lives in Brooklyn, had just failed to win a million dollar prize offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal, supernatural or occult power. It was still another of the seemingly endless setbacks to purveyors of the paranormal."

In Ohio School Hearing, a New Theory Will Seek a Place Alongside Evolution
By FRANCIS X. CLINES , New York Times February 11, 2002


The latest challenge to evolution's primacy in the nation's classrooms - the theory of intelligent design, not the old foe creationism - will get a full- scale hearing next month before Ohio Board of Education members, who are in a heated debate over whether established science censors other views about the origins of life.

Back talk
Seattle Weekly


"ANGRY E-MAILS from readers are part of a journalist's job. We even welcome them as a sign that someone's reading what we write and takes it seriously enough to comment. Generally, though, we don't respond. We've had our say; the readers theirs: time for both to move on."

Castles in the sea
by Stephen Moss
The Guardian [UK]


"Graham Hancock doesn't look mad as he sprawls in an armchair in his small, neat house in Kennington, south London. But his critics would say appearances deceive: he is either a lunatic, a charlatan, or both. Hancock has spent the past 10 years writing books and producing TV programmes which argue that everything we are told about ancient history is wrong: civilisation didn't start in Sumeria and Egypt around 3,500 BC; it began 10,000 years before in great cities which subsequently suffered a cataclysm."

Hit or myth?
The Scotsman


"The Mothman Prophecies, a stylish new psychological thriller starring Richard Gere, has all the elements of a particularly sophisticated episode of The X-Files - a frightening red-eyed monster, sinister telepaths, disturbing dreams, phantoms, paranoia and creeping madness. Yet the film is based on real events that occurred over a 13-month period in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, between 1966 and 1967."

Lunar plots sold in Central Asia
February 10, 2002,
By Marina Kozlova (United Press International)


ALMATY, Kazakhstan (UPI) -- A consulate of the Lunar Embassy has opened in Almaty and so far five people in the former Soviet republic in Central Asia have purchased $99 plots on the moon.

Beyond a Doubt
By Blair Anthony Robertson -- Sacramento Bee Staff Writer
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2002


The truth is out there. Bob Carroll -- professor by trade, skeptic at heart -- is doing his best to find it.

Monday, February 11, 2002

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 - February 11, 2002

from The Los Angeles Times

Scientists depend on openness for their research advances--many of which the public underwrites. More and more, however, they are keeping information about their discoveries to themselves, new surveys show.

In the first detailed look at how scientists share information, analysts at Harvard University Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital questioned 1,800 geneticists and others in the life sciences at the 100 U.S. research universities that receive the most public funding from the National Institutes of Health.

They found that almost half of the scientists had been denied access to information about published research. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. The survey adds to a growing body of research over the past decade that documents greater secrecy among scientists and greater corporate control of university research.


from The Los Angeles Times

Cloned mice die earlier than mice conceived in natural ways, according to research that suggests that cloning causes subtle abnormalities that may not be immediately detectable in animals that look healthy.

The study is small in size and thus not definitive. But it is the first to examine the life span of cloned creatures. It joins several earlier studies that reported defects in cloned animals that survived to birth. Those defects include abnormal body sizes and placentas as well as possible immune system problems. Some research also has suggested that a cellular structure that is related to aging may be abnormal in clones.

Scientists say the research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, is one more piece of evidence that the genes of cloned creatures--because they come from adult cells instead of eggs and sperm--may not be properly reprogrammed, leading to an array of developmental glitches. "I'm not surprised at all," said Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, professor of biology at the Whitehead Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has cited safety concerns in his public opposition to the cloning of humans. "It has exactly confirmed my strong belief and that of others. I think that most clones, if not all, have subtle defects."


from The New York Times

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 4 - The latest challenge to evolution's primacy in the nation's classrooms - the theory of intelligent design, not the old foe creationism - will get a full- scale hearing next month before Ohio Board of Education members, who are in a heated debate over whether established science censors other views about the origins of life.

"It's a stacked deck," said Deborah Owens-Fink, a state school board member and an outspoken supporter of the intelligent design movement.

Supporters of this theory acknowledge that the earth is billions of years old, not thousands, as a literal reading of the Bible suggests. They also accept that organisms change over time, according to commonly held principles of evolution. But they dispute the idea that the astounding complexity of the earth's plants and animals could have just happened through natural selection, the force that Darwin suggested drives evolution.

An intelligent designer - perhaps the God of Genesis, perhaps someone or something else - had to get the ball rolling, they contend.

"This is not a fringe movement," said Ms. Owens-Fink, a marketing professor at the University of Akron. "I find it intellectually intriguing."


from SF Gate

Christine Clark maintains a healthy diet, exercises regularly and avoids alcohol and tobacco. She thought she would be the last person on earth to get breast cancer. But last year, the 53-year-old Palo Alto, Calif., resident said, she became at least the sixth woman in her 50-house neighborhood to contract some form of cancer over the past 12 years. "This is only among the women I personally know," she added.

She suspects that a nearby electrical transformer station may be producing unhealthy levels of electromagnetic radiation, but she does not know how to prove or disprove it. "I felt angry as hell when I was diagnosed," Clark said. "I felt like I did everything possible to not get it. Every medical person I talked to all said they have no idea what causes it. I personally wish someone would investigate the environmental probabilities of this happening."

Across the country, citizens have become increasingly aware that toxic-waste dumps, pesticides, power lines and other sources of pollution or emissions may be creating cancer clusters in their communities. But many experts feel that cancer researchers and organizations tend to downplay these environmental factors and focus instead on lifestyle and genetic causes of cancer, leaving a big hole in our knowledge of the disease.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

...Unlike California's summer fog, which is formed over the ocean and moves inland, the winter fog begins in the inner valleys and may migrate toward the coast. The summer fog tends to rise as it moves in from the ocean, forming a gray ceiling, but the winter variety hugs the ground.

It is not only perilous to drivers but maddening to fliers when it blacks out airports. On Jan. 3, fogs delayed arriving flights at San Francisco International Airport by more than six hours. Airport devices to dissipate the mists seem to be of little use against the white aerial tides that cover the land and the bay.

The Bay Area's winter fogs are distinctive owing to the unique configuration of local geography, a combination of hill-and-valley topography with vast areas of marshes and open water. Once, in the fields near Mount Diablo, I saw the backs of cattle that were instinctively grazing on invisible grass with their heads buried in the fog.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

Scientists are a step closer to understanding why ice cream feels cold -- and coincidentally, it has something to do with the cool, refreshing flavor of mint.

In a report published today, University of California at San Francisco researchers describe a microscopic gateway on the surface of nerve cells that responds identically to either a cold stimulus or to the chemical menthol, an active ingredient in mint.

Menthol will cause certain receptors on the surface of nerve cells to spring open, flooding the cells with ions and triggering an electrical signal. The researchers used genetic engineering techniques to isolate the menthol receptors.


from The New York Times

Niels Bohr, the great Danish physicist, was known to push his scientific debates mercilessly, pursuing at least one colleague to his sickbed to drive home a point. Michael Frayn portrayed him exactly that way in a play about an argument between the dead spirits of Bohr and two others over what happened in a hazily recalled meeting that they had in September 1941 in Copenhagen, which was then occupied by the Nazis.

Even a writer of Mr. Frayn's considerable powers, however, could not have taken into account the chance that the unmistakable voice of the real Bohr might be heard from beyond the grave pressing his version of events - demanding a few more lines, as it were - after the play, "Copenhagen," had already finished its award-winning Broadway run and set out on a national tour.

Bohr's rogue soliloquy is included in a previously secret series of draft letters released by his family last week. The letters had been written but never sent to Werner Heisenberg, the renowned physicist who led Hitler's atomic bomb program and who went to Copenhagen in 1941 to meet Bohr and his wife, Margrethe, for reasons that have remained murky. The uncertainty over what actually occurred in a conversation between the two physicists as they went for a walk is the central conceit of Mr. Frayn's play, which had a healthy run on Broadway and is about to open in Chicago and Washington.


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New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Houdini & Conan Doyle)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu


Final Séance: The Strange Friendship between Houdini and Conan Doyle

Massimo Polidoro http://www.prometheusbooks.com/site/catalog/book_973.html 2001, Prometheus; 275p., plates conjuring:history, fraud, psi:history
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was convinced that spiritualism worked, and that it was the religion that everyone soon would practice. Harry Houdini, the showman and escapologist, was convinced that he never found a conductor of séances who used supernatural rather than fraudulent or erroneous means of getting results. These two domineering personalities became unlikely friends, for a five year period, sharing correspondence, dinners, and holidays. Polidoro gives capsule biographies of both, with an extensive account of the years when they were together, and thus provides an excellent picture of spiritualism, rationality, and the will to believe. Conan Doyle seems the more interesting figure, especially in his insistent support of spiritualism in the face of what would appear to be overwhelming counterevidence, some supplied by Houdini himself.

[ Reviewed by Rob Hardy, robhardy@earthlink.net ]
[ Longer review attached. ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Two of the most famous personalities of early in the last century shared a strong interest in spiritualism, the belief that souls live on after death and can be contacted by the living. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the immortal Sherlock Holmes, was unassailably convinced that spiritualism not only worked, but that it was the religion that all of us soon would practice, once its truth were known. Harry Houdini, the brilliant showman and escapologist, was convinced of no such thing, but he was convinced that he never found a conductor of séances who used supernatural rather than fraudulent or erroneous means of getting results. These two domineering personalities became unlikely friends, for a five year period, sharing correspondence, dinners, and holidays. It isn't hard to believe that the friendship foundered over their differences on the keen shared interest, but it is surprising that the friendship ever existed. Final Séance: The Strange Friendship between Houdini and Conan Doyle (Prometheus) by Massimo Polidoro is a good supplement to the current crop of biographies of both men. It gives capsule biographies of both, with an extensive and annotated account of the years when they were an item together, and thus provides an excellent picture of spiritualism, rationality, and the will to believe.

In many of these pages, Doyle emerges as the more interesting figure because he was obviously a thoughtful and sometimes brilliant man, and it is a puzzle that he kept the belief in spirituality despite what seems to be overwhelming evidence (some presented by Houdini himself). He had abandoned Catholicism and then Christianity itself, becoming a materialist and agnostic. In this period, he declared, "Never will I accept anything which cannot be proved to me. The evils of religion have all come from accepting things which cannot be proved." What softened this stern skeptical stance was the carnage of World War I; he lost his beloved son in the war, and along with many others got comfort in the idea that departed loved ones could be contacted by special means and could provide a reassuring presence. He changed entirely from skepticism: "The objective side of it ceased to interest, for having made up one's mind that it was true there was an end of the matter. The religious side of it was clearly of infinitely greater importance." Not only did he abandon objectivity, he seems to have adopted the opinion that if he himself saw the phenomenon, then it was a real manifestation, and could not be caused by the techniques familiar to magicians. He found it difficult to believe that mediums could be fraudulent, and was able to accept only that they sometimes might use trickery if their powers unaccountably lapsed.

Houdini had, by the time of his first contact with Doyle, proved an adept at stage magic, but his career had really taken off when he started well publicized escapes from handcuffs, local jails, and containers full of water. He was a compulsive collector of memorabilia about magic (most of which is now in the Library of Congress), and also about spiritualism. Escaping from handcuffs and ropes had much to do with spiritualism, because often the mediums were confined some way to "prove" to those sitting in séance that they were not physically causing the effects, so Houdini's change from stage performer to investigator was a natural one. Houdini was quite a social climber, eager to be seen with important people in order to be seen as important, too. Doyle was a famous author and lecturer, and it is probable that Houdini started their acquaintance in around 1920 by sending Doyle The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, in which Houdini referred to the Davenport brothers, mediums who were securely tied up but who could command the spirits to ring a bell or rap on the table and so on.

Doyle responded in a way that was a sort of prediction of how their friendship would go throughout. He was convinced that the Davenports were genuine and never exposed, and it did not matter that Houdini interviewed one of the then-elderly brothers who had admitted the secret methods by which they had done their tricks. Doyle insisted that they had never been exposed while performing, that they were mere youths at the time and could not have practiced an elaborate trick, and that "confessions" by reformed spiritualists were "an old trick of the opposition."

Such a stance must have been exceedingly frustrating to Houdini. In 1922, Doyle tested a husband and wife team, the Zancigs, who demonstrated telepathic transfer of thoughts between them. Houdini recognized that they were using a clever, silent signaling system, a good trick but a trick nonetheless. He even interviewed Professor Zancig who gave his personal word that it was stage magic, not telepathy, at work, but Doyle was undeterred: "The only thing I can't understand is why Z. should wish to hide it [his telepathic gift] from you, but I suppose people do try to cover the trail of how they do things, and give fake information rather than true." Doyle even believed that Houdini was performing his escape stunts by paranormal means despite Houdini's assertions to the contrary. Sherlock Holmes would not be fooled for a minute if Houdini could have provided him the repeated evidence that mediums were frauds, but his creator refused to back down. He was an intelligent man who trusted his senses, and he wanted to believe; the wanting to believe in his religious view of the afterlife struck down any evidence that might have called such beliefs into question.

Houdini had a personal interest in the afterlife. Nothing would have pleased him more than to have contacted his departed mother, for whom he possessed an exaggerated love. However, he possessed the proper attitude of the skeptic: he would have been happy to believe in the phenomena if there were good evidence for them, but he never found any. It was this lack of evidence at a personal level between Houdini and Doyle that was to sever their friendship. While the Houdinis and the Doyles were vacationing together, Lady Doyle offered to try to get a message from Houdini's mother by a trance in which she did "automatic writing," putting down on paper the words which the spirits that possessed her during a séance wanted the onlookers to see. She drew a cross at the top of the paper (Houdini's mother was Jewish) and wrote such things as "Thank God, thank God, at last I 'm through" and predicted that Houdini would get all the evidence he needed. Houdini thought both the Doyles were completely sincere, but he knew that his mother would not have written in English, a language she did not understand. This did not cause an immediate rift, but when Houdini wrote publicly later that he had never witnessed any sort of psychic phenomena, Doyle took this as a personal insult, and the friendship was over.

Houdini went on to organize against mediums, including lobbying for ill-judged laws to ban spiritualism. He also offered large amounts of money to anyone who could demonstrate "psychic" powers that he could not explain or duplicate. As Polidoro shows in an intelligent critique, this was a flawed argument; Houdini's ability to duplicate an effect would not prove that the effect was not originally performed in a psychic way. However, the offer lead the way for the more comprehensive one by James Randi, who currently offers a million dollars for a demonstration of psychic powers under controlled conditions. No prize awarded yet. Houdini died in 1926, and Doyle resumed a solicitous correspondence with the widow of the man who was "in some ways, the most remarkable man I have ever known." Doyle died four years later, believing still. Houdini did us all the service of a final test; he was, if it was at all possible, to return and give his wife a message agreed between them. Mediums did try to summon him, and if anyone could have escaped from the reaches of "the other world" to get her that message, the great escapologist would have managed it. It never happened. John Edward, and you other people who make money off other's desire to believe, please take note.

Mysterious, spooky and sometimes even a little scary


This story was published in Everyday Magazine on Thursday, February 7, 2002.

By Joe Holleman
Of The Post-Dispatch

Say "Big Easy," and what comes to mind?

The site of the Rams' disappointing Super Bowl loss? Unfortunately.

Mardi Gras? Sure.

Outstanding Creole and Cajun entrees, mounds of pralines, beignets and steaming cups of chicory coffee? Absolutely.

Pedal-to-the-floor partying and public nudity? Well, of course.

But let's not forget that ages-old religion that conjures up images of midnight rituals held on moonlighted bayous or in the back rooms off foggy alleyways.

Voodoo -- or Vodou as scholars and practitioners prefer. With its mojos and mambos, its gris-gris and zombies, this gumbo of West African rituals, Caribbean folklore and Roman Catholicism holds a mysterious, even sensual, appeal.

The Two Skepticisms


By Kenneth Silber


Who are "the skeptics" in America today - the defenders of science and rationality, the scrutinizers and debunkers of dubious and unwarranted claims?

The above question, stated in deliberately broad terms, could generate diverse answers. A variety of intellectuals, organizations and publications fit the bill. That might sound like a good thing, if one is sympathetic (as I am) to a science-based skepticism. But there's a problem. The skeptics tend to fall into two groupings that don't often talk to one another, aren't sure if they like each other, and fail to see how much they have in common.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (UFOs)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu


The Field Guide To UFOS: A Classification Of Various Unidentified AerialPhenomena Based On Eyewitness Accounts

Dennis Stacy and Patrick Huyghe
2000, Quill; 180p., illustrated by Harry Trumbore
48 two-page descriptions of UFO cases, with illustrations, form the core of the book; the authors then interpret these and give their general take on UFOs. Though UFO proponents, they're of the old school, and do not want to wade into abduction waters too deeply. Much of their commentary is, in fact, reasonable enough. They emphasize a classification of UFO reports based on the shape of the UFO, and make it clear that this is a diverse phenomenon with no single explanation likely to fit all cases. Overall, a decent introductory book for someone who wants to learn about UFOlogy.

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Space probe under 'mysterious' force - Your News from Ananova

A space probe launched 30 years ago is under a mysterious force field which is baffling scientists.

Researchers say Pioneer 10, which took the first close-up pictures of Jupiter before leaving our solar system in 1983, is being pulled back to the Sun by an unknown force.

The effect shows no sign of getting weaker as the spacecraft travels deeper into space and scientists are considering the possibility the probe has revealed a new force of nature.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_517522.html

Scientology reaches out ......


Scientology reaches out to troubled with ad campaign -- Billboards are going up in major U.S. cities claiming to have an answer for those in distress. Some mental health experts question the church's motive. By DEBORAH O'NEIL, Times Staff Writer

For Americans troubled by economic uncertainty, fear and grief, 1,100 Church of Scientology billboards going up in major U.S. cities claim to have an answer:

"No matter how bad it is ... SOMETHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT."

The billboards are part of an unprecedented national media campaign by Scientology to reach what it calls "a nation still troubled by the Sept. 11 attacks." But the blitz disturbs some mental health experts who express concern about both the church's motive and its expertise in treating emotional distress. The advertisements promote the services of Scientology's volunteer ministers, parishioners trained in basic Scientology principles that the church says can solve problems ranging from grief to marital difficulties to drug addiction. "Call a Scientology volunteer minister," the ads read: 1-800-HELP-4-YU. And while the billboards don't say so, the services are free, the church says. The Church of Scientology is spending $1.1-million on the billboards, which have gone up in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Cincinnati, and this week in Clearwater. More are slated for Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and St. Louis. In New York alone, there are 1,000 billboards, many mounted in the subway system. Clearwater, the spiritual headquarters of Scientology, is getting eight, and some of those will rotate to Tampa.

It's a "pretty impressive" campaign, said Robert Coen, a longtime predictor of advertising spending and senior vice president at Universal McCann in New York. It doesn't match the efforts of mega brands such as Coca-Cola or Loreal, he said, but for a single entity, it's "a significant effort to get their message across." The campaign grew out of Sept. 11, said spokeswoman Linda Simmons Hight of the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles. Since the attacks, the ranks of the volunteer ministers have grown from 5,000 to 14,000, she said. Scientologists wanted to help at ground zero, and many did. "That's what brought it together," Hight said. "We have volunteer ministers. We're soon to have 6,000 more and we can do something about any situation in life." Mental health leaders say the campaign looks like a recruitment technique that could mislead emotionally vulnerable people. "We are concerned Scientology may be playing on people's vulnerability to increase their membership," said Cynthia Folcarelli, executive vice president of the National Mental Health Association, the country's oldest and largest nonprofit mental health research and advocacy organization. "The (billboard) message clearly conveys the idea, "We understand you're in emotional stress and we can help,' " Folcarelli said. "We have seen the Scientologists present themselves in other settings as mental health counselors, when in fact they're not qualified to provide those services." The National Mental Health Association criticized Scientology soon after the Sept. 11 attacks when the church promoted a hotline number under the heading "National Mental Health Assistance." The hotline scrolled across the bottom of the screen on Fox News, but made no mention of Scientology. The cable news channel yanked it after being told of its Scientology connection.

The Church of Scientology is opposed to psychiatry and psychology. Church founder L. Ron Hubbard believed Scientology's applied religious philosophy offered a better way to deal with life's pains and make people happier. Volunteer ministers study a 19-chapter text called The Scientology Handbook, that provides lessons such as improving communication skills, resolving conflicts, getting people off drugs, handling confusion in the workplace, and improving domestic relations. The ministers also learn how to conduct "assists," procedures Scientologists believe help people overcome physical or emotional difficulty. It takes about 40 hours to complete all the chapters, although some volunteers study only select ones, said Sarah Gorgone, who coordinates about 200 volunteer ministers in the Clearwater area. "They have the tools to be able to help people," Gorgone said. "If you have a friend that's on drugs, and you're like, "I don't know what to do,' you feel helpless. If you have a tool to help your friend get off drugs, you feel better."

But Folcarelli said mental health professionals spend years studying and are licensed. "Mental health training is not a do-it-yourself proposition," she said. "They (Scientologists) not only aren't trained to provide counseling, they reject what years of science and research have taught us about appropriate mental health intervention." Church leaders aren't surprised to hear criticism from "an industry that doesn't really have the technology to help people, that has false and misleading ideas about what constitutes the human mind and spirit," Hight said. Volunteer ministers do not proselytize, nor is the campaign about recruitment, she said. "It's Scientologists who have solutions to problems who are willing to go out of their way to share that with other people," Hight said.

Kewl UFO crackpot book

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

I just found at my local library LEFT AT EAST GATE, a fat 1997 book by Larry Warren and Peter Robbins; in 1980 Warren was a very young Yank security cop at the (UK) Bentwaters US airforce base now known to have been a store for lots of field nuclear weapons; there was a celebrated `incident' two decades ago in which something X-Filish was witnessed by various officers and servicemen. Reading past the cultish claptrap (Robbins works with Budd Hopkins of abduction fame, and is a big fan of Reichian orgonomy, speculating on the involvement of, ahem, `cloud buster' technology), it actually does seem possible that Warren and some of his pals were subjected to a Manchurian candidate-style brainfuck experiment by the NSA or CIA or other black op outfit.

Damien Broderick
[and a big cheerio to the bored NSA guys reading this!]

I wrote earlier:

It actually does seem possible that Warren and some of his pals were subjected to a Manchurian candidate-style brainfuck experiment

As usual, there's probably less to this whole story than meets the eye. A bit of subsequent scouting on the web took me to more skeptical probings; for example,


and a number of James Easton's other documents in his `Voyager Newsletter'. My current guess is that Warren *was* indeed subjected to a Manchurian candidate-style brainfuck--by the helpful UFO proponents who hypnotically `regressed' his memories of those 1980 events and with little hints contaminated them beyond all recognition. Oh, and of course he might have been lying or confabulating under his own steam.

Damien Broderick
[and a big cheerio to the greys reading this!]

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Ronson: Them)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu


Them: Adventures with Extremists

Jon Ronson


2002, Simon & Schuster; 336p. conspiracy
Ronson accompanies militiamen, questing reporters, evangelists, Ku Klux Klansmen, fundamentalist Muslims, and others who inhabit a realm of conspiracy. Apparently, there is a tiny elite of powerful men who run everything, who decide who gets to be president of any given country and who start the wars. They control Hollywood, the broadcasters, the markets and capital flow. They operate harems of sex slaves and they go to annual pagan rituals in different appointed regions of the world. When no one is looking, they change themselves into giant twelve-foot lizards, and any investigator who gets to close to these truths has his credibility, or his corpus, destroyed. An interesting lesson of the book is that "us" and "them" are not always so easy to separate. And even when its many subjects are nuts, or scary, _Them_ is often laugh-out-loud hilarious. Ronson's reporting is dry and ironic. He knows that his subjects are very, very weird, but he is never patronizing, and he is often impressed by their sincerity.

[ Reviewed by Rob Hardy, robhardy@earthlink.net ]
[ See full review attached. ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

At last it can be told. There is a tiny elite of powerful men who run everything, who decide who gets to be president of any given country and who start the wars. They control Hollywood, the broadcasters, the markets and capital flow. They operate harems of sex slaves and they go to annual pagan rituals in different appointed regions of the world. When no one is looking, they change themselves into giant twelve-foot lizards, and any investigator who gets to close to these truths has his credibility, or his corpus, destroyed.

Well, can you prove it isn't true? The great advantage of the paranoid stance is that it can take in anything, and if it sounds too outlandish to be true, "That's just what they want you to think." They? Who's they? Learn the truth in Them: Adventures with Extremists (Simon and Schuster) by Jon Ronson, or at least learn the truth as believed, with diverse variations, by different fringe-dwellers all over the world. Ronson has played Sancho Panza to militiamen, questing reporters, evangelists, Ku Klux Klansmen, and fundamentalist Muslims. So far, the lizard men have not got him, and somehow they slipped up and allowed him to report in his hugely funny, witty style some picaresque and often scary adventures to show what these people are worried about and why we should care about them, if only to laugh at them.

It is possible that after 9-11, these true stories will not seem as funny or harmless as they might have before that date. This is not Ronson's fault; the book was published in Britain before that outrage. It is true that much of the paranoia is based on anti-Semitism, which is also not funny, even if it is changed into lizard form. Not funny also is the way federal agents handled the Koresh clan in Waco, or the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge, which incidents have been incorporated into various paranoid claims. But who is more paranoid in such incidents, the agents or their targets? This is not a pedantic book, but one of its lessons is that "us" and "them" are not a useful or even demonstrable dichotomy. And even when its many subjects are nuts, or scary, Them is often laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Consider Thom Robb, with whom Ronson hangs out in the Ozark headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, and who is Grand Wizard (or a Grand Wizard, as rival Klan factions don't accept his leadership). Robb is a cheerful, self deprecating man, who reminds Ronson of Woody Allen. Robb wants his own television show, a la David Letterman, and he is trying get scary robes and hoods out of the Klan wardrobe. He is also trying (not too successfully) to get his members to stop using the N word in public; hilariously, he is embarrassed repeatedly in front of Ronson when someone uses the word. He is apologetic about his members who can't figure out how to raise a kerosene-soaked cross to burn ("We were just debating whether to soak it before we raise it or raise it before we soak it.") His daughter Anna gives the reluctant Klansmen the Individual Personality Skills workshop, where they take a test to classify themselves as "powerful cholerics" or "popular sanguines." Sure, Robb is still in favor of the white race's superiority and supremacy, but he professes only love for his fellow whites, not hatred of blacks. Unfortunately, a lot of Klanspeople think that a Klan without hate is a Klan without reason for being. The Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McViegh, for instance became disenchanted with the new Klan, and set off on his own.

Robb believes in the conspiracy of the New World Order, now in it's most recent form of the Bilderberg Group. Ronson eventually sits down with a founding member of this group and learns what it does and does not do, but according to the conspiracy theorists, what it does not do is a huge amount of stuff, because it controls everything. He goes with conspiracy investigator Big Jim Tucker to Portugal to attempt to infiltrate the annual meeting of the group, which is always held in a five star hotel with golfing facilities ("Believe me," says Big Jim, "they're not there to play golf. They're too busy starting wars.") They end up pursued by a steely man in sunglasses, and Ronson panics. He calls the British Embassy to rescue him, pleading, "I am essentially a humorous journalist... I am a humorous journalist out of my depth." He and Big Jim have a rift over a delusional quotation Big Jim wants to attribute to Ronson (about how Ronson could tell Bilderberg members by their smell), one of the few times Ronson catches a conspiracy theorist out on a matter of clear fact.

Unless those twelve-foot lizards are factual. They are the focus of endeavor of David Icke, who has enraged other conspiracy theorists by trumping them. Yes, the Jews (or International Bankers or Illuminati or the Bilderberg group) are running everything, but it isn't a matter of any earthly race. He wants to make sure we know he is not warning us of any Jewish plot. The plot is hatched by Annunaki lizards, real reptiles, from the lower fourth dimension. The lizards are competent at shifting shape, Icke maintains, and that is why George Bush, the Queen of England, and Boxcar Willie look so deceptively mammalian. Ronson reports on his meeting with Icke (a former footballer who has not quite made good on his proclamation that he is the Son of God). Icke's defense against claims that he is anti-Semitic simply boil down to "I'm not anti-Semitic, I'm anti-lizard," but the Anti-Defamation League is not fooled. They are shocked by the seriousness of his anti-Semitism, and Ronson (himself a Jew) shows the ADL is just indulging in another form of paranoia by taking Icke's very silly ideas seriously.

According to many of the extremists hanging out with Ronson, the ultra-secret meetings of the top power brokers (reptilian or otherwise) and the "very heart of Luciferian globalist evil" are at the Bohemian Grove within the redwoods of northern California. Kissinger, Rockefeller, all those guys show up and in addition to plotting outcomes of international intrigues, they have orgies, nocturnal pagan rituals, and ceremonial peeing rites, and they dress like women or like Elvis. Some of these activities actually happened, for Ronson has seen them. ("These people may have reached the apex of their professions but emotionally they seemed to be trapped in their college years.") He has inexplicably lived to tell his tale of infiltrating Bohemian Grove, which he secretly entered, not by trekking through the forest and not by shooting the dangerous rapids within, but by dressing like a preppie and, well, walking through the entrance.

Ronson's reporting is dry and ironic. He knows that his subjects are very, very weird, but he is never patronizing, and he is often impressed by their sincerity. At times, he finds himself imbued with the paranoia they are eager to spread, and has to fight back with some degree of rationality. A very sensible Bilderberg contact explains members are getting older and the young newbies don't have much interest in being involved. "Let's face it, nobody rules the world anymore. The markets rule the world. Maybe that's why your conspiracy theorists make up all those crazy things. Because the truth is so much more frightening. Nobody rules the world. Nobody controls anything." Of course, that's just what they want you to believe.

Federal Court summary judgment - teaching Bible in public schools

Those interested in irony [the defendants are the Superintendent of Schools and the School Board in Rhea County, Tennessee . . . the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton (just a tad north of Chattanooga) was the site of the 1925 Scopes Trial concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools] as well as those interested in teaching the Bible-as-truth in public schools will find a summary judgment (following oral argument) issued today by the Federal District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga of interest.

A good summary can be found on the site of the local electronic newspaper:


The 2-page judgment and 19-page memorandum of Chief Judge R. Allan Edgar can be found at:


The summary judgment enjoins the Rhea County Schools from permitting Bryan College to conduct the "Bible Education Ministry" program in its elementary schools. A nominal damage of $1 along with reasonable attorney fees and costs of action were awarded to the plaintiffs, John Doe and Mary Roe (parents of 2 county children) and the Milwaukee-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. Identities of the parents are sealed.

Judge Edgar mentions the "Scopes" or "Monkey" trial in his first paragraph and "waxes eloquent" in spots. Rhea County permitted the religiously-based Bryan College [required statement of belief of its faculty & trustees is appended] to operate the program conducted by its undergraduates [not professionally trained teachers] for 30 minutes each week, with no lesson plan oversight by the public school system as is required of all others who teach in the system. The blatant religious purpose of the lessons is demonstrated by the lesson plans filed by the students with the college professor supervising the project (appended).

It will be interesting to see the ruling in another case before Judge Edgar Š ACLU vs. Hamilton County [essentially Chattanooga] in which the complaint involves the posting of a version of the Ten Commandments in the Hamilton County Courthouse, the Hamilton County--Chattanooga Courts Building, and the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Building. The complaint is available at


They don't call Chattanooga "the buckle of the Bible Belt" for nothing . . . these are interesting times in this area.



-- the next major move by creationists From Fred Kreissl

Dear Fellow Skeptic,

"Intelligent Design Creationists" are planning a massive rollout for William Dembski's new book, NO FREE LUNCH. This book apparently is going to be the key in upcoming state battles to displace Darwinism and introduce "intelligent design" into public school science curricula (the next big push is planned for Ohio -- http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/OhioPoll.htm).

The Discovery Institute, the right-wing think-tank behind the notorious "Wedge Strategy," is going to be spearheading the promo for the book. They are touting it as the intelligent design version of Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Check out http://www.discovery.org/nofreelunchbook/ (soon to be www.nofreelunchbook.com). The book was selling well on Amazon, but apparently it has already sold out its first print run and for now is hard to get. The book itself is published by Rowman & Littlefield ( http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com/Catalog/SingleBook.shtml?command=Search&db=^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742512975). You might be able to get copies there.

A few brief rebuttals have appeared on Internet newsgroups and bulletin boards, but nothing really decisive (the book just came out and is too new). I urge those of you with the requisite expertise to thoroughly deconstruct Dembski's arguments and expose the problems in this book BEFORE the the intelligent design people get too much mileage from the book (I'm told there's even talk of trying to get intelligent design as a subsection of the NSF much like alternative medicine has a subsection in the NIH).

I realize that creationism of all stripes is laughable. But I'm sure many people laughed at the Nazis, with their goosesteps and brownshirts. These intelligent design people are defeatable, but they do need to be defeated. They seem to be putting their hopes in Dembski. Bring him down, and this whole mess should start to unravel.

Fred Kreissl


The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won its "SCOPES II" lawsuit in Dayton, Tennessee:

Go thru URL to access links!!

Contact: Annie Laurie Gaylor
Phone: (608) 256-5800
Email: fttoday@mailbag.com

Forceful Opinion Calls Instruction Like "Sunday School Class":
Foundation's Legal Victory Today in "Scopes II" Case Halts Illegal Bible Instruction in Dayton, Tennessee Schools:
February 8, 2002

The Rhea County Board of Education today was forcefully ordered by U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar of Chattanooga, TN, to stop conducting an illegal Bible Education Ministry program, the subject of a federal lawsuit taken by the national Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of parents with children in Rhea County public schools. "Rhea County, Tennessee, is no stranger to religious controversy," writes Judge Edgar, in the opening of his 19-page decision. "In 1925, the Rhea County Courthouse was the site of the well known 'Scopes' or 'Monkey' trial, wherein high school teacher John Scopes was tried for violating a Tennessee statute making it a misdemeanor to teach 'evolution theory' in the State's public schools. The trial pitted William Jennings Bryan, the 'Great Commoner,' representing the State, against Clarence Darrow for the defense. The legacy of that trial in some respects gives rise to this lawsuit."

The Foundation's lawsuit on behalf of John Doe and Mary Roe, pitted the rights of the parents, who are under a protective court order in the hostile Dayton-area community, against an obdurate school system, which refused to honor more than five decades of Supreme Court precedent against religious instruction in the public schools. The bible instruction, carried out for decades in grades kindergarten through five in three Rhea County elementary schools, has been taught during regular school hours for 30 minutes each week without parental consent. The bible program is operated by students from Bryan College (a bible-based college founded after the Scopes trial) to help public schools students become "exposed to the Bible," with no public school oversight. An assistant professor who is Director of Practical Christian Involvement supervises the program, which Judge Edgar characterized as what might be found in "a Sunday School class in many of the Christian churches in Rhea County."

"The lesson plans retained by Bryan College," Edgar wrote, "reveal that the children are being taught that the Bible conveys literal truth about God and Jesus Christ reflective of the Bryan College 'Statement of Belief,'" that the bible is literally true. Students are asked to memorize bible verses, act out skits of biblical stories, and sing songs such as "Jesus Loves Me," "My God Is So Great," "Pharaoh, Pharaoh," "Twelve Men Want to Spy on Canaan," "Shout to the Lord," "Change My Heart, Oh God," and "I'm In The Lord's Army." At oral argument, the judge's decision noted, counsel for defendants even admitted the bible is being presented "as the truth." Aside from the content, Edgar said, "the wholesale delegation of the administration of that program to Bryan College, a decidedly religious institution, by itself results in an impermissible entanglement of government and religion." ". . . the government, through its public school system, may not teach, or allow the teaching of a distinct religious viewpoint. This is what the Rhea County School Board has done by allowing the teaching of the Bible through the BEM program..... [acting] with both the purpose and effect to endorse and advance religion in the public schools," Edgar wrote. "The Rhea County courses are being taught to the youngest and most impressionable school children by college students who have no discernible educational training and no supervision by the school system." "This is not a close case," Edgar observed, pointing out that since 1948, when McCollum v. Board of Education was decided by the Supreme Court, religious instruction in public schools has been barred. The Rhea County practices do not differ substantially from McCollum, "except that, if anything, they make out an even stronger case for violation of the Establishment Clause," Edgar concluded.

Vashti McCollum, the Champaign, Illinois mother who brought the McCollum challenge, is in her eighties, and is an honorary officer of the Foundation. The Foundation recently reprinted a new edition of her acclaimed account of her dramatic lawsuit, One Woman's Fight. Also cited as precedent is Abington v. Schempp, against prayers in public schools. Ed Schempp, who brought that case with his son, is also an honorary Foundation officer. "We're delighted with Judge Edgar's eloquent opinion upholding the rights of public school children--who are a captive audience, to be free from such overt religious proselytizing," said Dan Barker, public relations director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. "The Bible Education Ministry program was a flagrant and atavistic First Amendment violation. It's tremendously satisfying to see the wall of separation between church and state be reinforced by such a strong decision." The lawsuit, filed in April 2001, arose after the school district ignored letters from the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointing out that the practice violates numerous Supreme Court decisions. The attorneys representing the Foundation and its plaintiffs are Joseph H. Johnston, Nashville, and Steve Doughty and Alvin Harris, Nashville. John Doe, Mary Roe, and Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Sue Porter, Supt. of the Rhea County School System, and Rhea County Board of Education, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Case No. 1:01-cv-115

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics and others) working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

For media members:
If you are a member of the media and would like to receive periodic news releases from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, click here.

For others:
If you are not a member of the media and would like information on joining the Freedom From Religion Foundation, click here.

Galaxy is 'stuck in reverse' - Your News from Ananova

Astronomers have found a spiral galaxy which is spinning in the wrong direction.

The spiral arms of galaxies usually trail behind but the Hubble telescope has revealed that two arms of one point forward.

Astronomers think the unusual structure may have been caused by a crash with a smaller galaxy.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_516253.html

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Christino)

From: Taner Edis edis@truman.edu


Foreseeing The Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America

Karen Christino 2002, One Reed; 224p. astrology:history
Evangeline Adams was the most famous astrologer of the early 20th century. Astrologers revere her, and many fantastic predictions have been attributed to her. Though an astrologer herself, Karen Christino tries to be objective and sort out the facts about her biographical subject. Do we believe that Adams was a terrific astrologer or someone who exaggerated her successes in order to impress the public? Did she really forecast World War II or the stock market crash of 1929? It's up to the reader to decide, since Christino documents the facts and examines Adams as a real person and not just a legend. We're given insight into what drove Adams to such an unusual profession in 1900, her troubles with the law and her unfulfilling marriage to a much younger man. The sections describing the development of the occult in the US, including information on palmistry and spiritualism and Adams's relationship with the infamous magician Aleister Crowley, areparticularly good, especially since there aren't many sources on these topics which address them sensibly. Readers intrigued by astrology, the occult or New Age topics and are tired of all the flaky, off-the-wall books out there will enjoy _Foreseeing the Future_. It brings a sometimes mysterious topic down to earth and tells an entertaining yarn at the same time.

[ Reviewed by Marina Akaziz, Akaziz@yahoo.com ]

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

Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Mothman Special issues: Fortean Times and Fate

From: Terry W. Colvin


Brought to you by Mothman Central -

Both Fortean Times and Fate have Mothman Special issues out this week (February 11, 2002).

Mothman-related contents for FATE Magazine - February 2002

Do Birds Come This Big? by Helen M. White (The original Mothman article from Fate, August 1967)

Strange Universe by Mark Chorvinsky (Mothmen everywhere)

Beyond the Known by John Keel (The search for a giant bird)

Mysterious World by Loren Coleman (Top cryptozoological stories of 2001 - Year of Mothman - 2002)

Fortean Times, Issue 156 - March 2002

24 page special on the original case that inspired the new film The Mothman Prophecies.

RICK MORAN visited Point Pleasant in 1978 and was surprised and disturbed by what he found there.

DOUG SKINNER interviews the man behind The Mothman Prophecies.

COLIN BENNETT on the MIBs, political assassinations and mass entertainment.

JEROME CLARK assesses Keel's influence on the subject.

ANTHONY DOC SHIELS remembers the Cornish Owlman.

LOREN COLEMAN retraces Keel's steps through Point Pleasant.

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