NTS LogoSkeptical News for 2 November 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Skeptic Newssearch - 11/2/02


Monster Watch
By Buck Wolf


"Look! Up in the sky! Bigfoot has sprouted wings, and he's coming your way."

Ask FlickChick
TV Guide

(Tenth Item)

"I'd like to know the name of the movie that was made about a family in Pennsylvania whose house was haunted. The family name was Smurl. I've seen bits and pieces of it on TV, but have been unable to watch it in its entirety — I usually catch it while Halloween movies are being shown."

My Interview with a Vampire
By Justin Kendall
Des Moines CityView


"Blood drinkers and energy suckers — vampires are flesh and blood in Des Moines."

Conference attempts to explain the paranormal
By Alison Herget
The Collegian [Penn State]


"About 100 students watched mysterious images of graveyards and translucent spirits projected onto the screen in 102 Forum Saturday."

Say, what's that sound?
by Lee Bacchus
The Province [British Columbia]


"They hang out in our art galleries."

If they are anywhere, they're here
Mansfield News Journal


"If ever there was a place still haunted by those that met violent deaths, the Ohio State Reformatory would be it."

Man explores 'The Shadows of Moundsville'
By Timothy Karan


"At the end of a long, isolated hallway within the abandoned depths of the former Moundsville State Penitentiary in Moundsville, W.Va., lies a room called "The Sugar Room.""

Halloween fun is less innocent for some, who think it's all about the occult
By Glen Leyden
The Star [Tinley Park, IL]


"Halloween is a night when mischief is rewarded with sugar and goblins in the closet come out to play."

Ghostly goings-on at Devon's old haunts


"The Torbay Investigators of the Paranormal are on a ghost hunt - and you can help them. The group visits haunted buildings to see if they can spot evidence of spirits. And they've even got the equipment to prove ghostly goings-on..."

Under the spell of black cats
Charlotte Sun


"First, there are the eyes."

The legend of the Black Monk lives on
by Jim Stevens
Lake Country Reporter


"There is serenity, a sense of peace and calm on the grounds of Nashotah House Mission Seminary."

Tackling 'witch' murders in Tanzania
By Daniel Dickinson
BBC News


"Communities in northern Tanzania along the shores of Lake Victoria are stepping up their efforts to eradicate the murder of old people, mainly women, who have been accused of witchcraft."

Wiccan works her solitary magick
Charlotte Sun


"Call her "Annelle." It's not her real name, but since it's the name of her guardian angel, she feels safe using it. And if her real name were to appear here, she fears there could be repercussions with her job, her family, her children."

Kokomo hires firm to identify cause of annoying hum
Associated Press


"City officials have hired an acoustics consulting firm from Massachusetts to study a mysterious hum that dozens of residents say has caused sleeping and health problems."

Virgin tears claimed to cure the ill
Sunday Times [Perth]


"OIL from Rockingham's weeping statue is producing miracles, according to the parish priest."

Aliens manipulate humans
by Jason Okamoto
State Hornet [California State University]


"President Donald Gerth looks like an alien from another planet if I ever saw one. This is not intentionally meant to be insulting, but rather just a natural response to the way the way the guy looks. Or that's what the alien beings would have me believe."

SETI venture plagued by cheating


"SETI@home administrators are allegedly ignoring claims that the project is being sabotaged by cheats."

Voodoo and the city
by Leatrice Spevack
Toronto Globe & Mail


"You loathe your boss, your main squeeze has become infinitely less squeezable and your neighbours are driving you nuts. Maybe what you need is a little good old-fashioned voodoo. And what better place to find it than in New Orleans, home to heaps of haunted houses, vampire chronologist Anne Rice, cemeteries cluttered with spooky crypts and enough voodoo hoodoo to cure -- or at least try to fix -- whatever ails or irks you."

Local Wiccans meet fundamentalist group
By Russ Brickey
The Exponent [Purdue University]


"Beware Halloween."

Stage fright
Portland Press Herald


"Eva Gray, a New York opera singer, stood on the stage of the Biddeford City Theater. The date was Oct. 31, 1904 — Halloween night."

UFO film sparks fresh ET debate


"Many people say they have seen "something strange" and some claim that what they saw was a spaceship. Others say they have met aliens."

Happy haunting
by Arwen Ungar
Oregon Daily Emerald


""Remember," Bill Smee said in a barely audible whisper. "Injury to the body is not always the worst that can happen.""

Left Behind Aims For TV
Sci Fi Wire


"Producers of the Left Behind movies—based on Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' Christian-themed apocalyptic best-sellers—are readying a TV series that will take the franchise onto the small screen. Cloud Ten Pictures' chief executive Peter Lalonde announced that the series is slated for broadcast in Canada in early 2003. The series will also be available on video and DVD in both the United States and Canada, Lalonde said in a statement."

Haunted houses, ghosts and Bigfoot ... in Mat-Su? Oh my!
By Eowyn LeMay Ivey
The Frontiersman [Wasilla, AK]


"The bare branches shake in the wind, and the clouds trail across a nearly full moon. The nights are growing darker and house windows are alight with jack-o-lanterns."

Boo in Boulder
By Erika Gonzalez
Rocky Mountain News


"Like any parent, Ruth Savig was skeptical when her young daughter woke her in the middle of the night, complaining that a big man was shaking her bed."

In Rumor of Cow's Death, a Reason to Kill
By John Lancaster
Washington Post

DULENA, India -- It began, by most accounts, with a grisly rumor: Five men had been arrested after stealing a cow -- revered by Hindus as the mother of all humanity -- and skinning it alive just steps from the construction site of a new Hindu temple. Something had to be done.

Jurors ask about Henning's mental state
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"Jurors today went into their third day of deliberations in the first-degree murder trial against Linda Henning after pausing earlier to ask about her mental health."

One charge has Henning jury perplexed
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"Jurors in the Linda Henning murder trial, now into their sixth day of deliberations, said today they are continuing to make progress in reaching verdicts on all but one of 20 charges."

Guilty without a doubt: Jury next to decide on death penalty for Henning
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"Linda Henning had been prepared for the worst, her defense attorneys saying they had been clued in for bad news by juror questions just hours before."

Motions fail; Henning will take the stand
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"His last-ditch legal arguments didn't completely fail, but they didn't exactly succeed either, so defense attorney Gary Mitchell was preparing today to put his client on the witness stand."

Conviction came despite lack of body
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"Jurors last week convicted Linda Henning of murdering Girly Chew Hossencofft, but they did so without benefit of a key piece of evidence: Hossencofft's body."

Henning quickly spared execution
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune


"The decision whether Linda Henning would die at the hands of the state came swiftly - quite a jolt in a murder case that stretched over three years, a trial that spanned more than a month and a verdict that took almost a week to come by."

Strange phenomena spook some old homes' residents
St. Petersburg Times


"Days after a truck killed Van and Judy Sutphin's son in December 1968, the doors in their Old Northeast home opened and closed mysteriously."

Haiti Turning to Spirits for Help
Associated Press


"Shaking bundles of pungent leaves and swaying to a frenzied drum beat, hundreds of Haitians flock to a temple to beg the spirits for U.S. visas and lucky lottery numbers."

Ghost Town's Curse Haunts New England Forest
by Robert Winkler
National Geographic News


"Was Connecticut's tiny Dudleytown, which was settled in the mid-1700s, cursed from the start? That's the only explanation many people have for the disproportionate number of horrors that befell the residents of the town before it was abandoned a century ago."

Believing in Bigfoot
By Jessie Milligan
Fort Worth Star-Telegram


"In the dead of night, they wait for the giant swamp ape they believe lurks along the creek bottoms of Texas, Arkansas and beyond."

Strange lights in the Gulf Coast sky
By Billy Watkins
Jackson Clarion-Ledger


"Charles Hickson has no proof."

Who you gunna call? State allows ghostbusters into old Capitol
Associated Press


"Tales of slamming doors, muffled voices and books flying off shelves have long been part of the mysterious history of the old state Capitol building."

Tread lightly, spirits
by Bill Lubinger
Cleveland Plain Dealer


"It wasn't a dark and stormy night."

Searching the local haunts
Birmingham News


"The setting seemed ideal: An 1823 mansion with creaky pine floors and fluttery lace curtains. And nearby, a pitch-black cemetery where the roots of ancient, gnarly oaks poke at the graves of the home's early occupants."

Who You Gonna Call?
By Jody Callahan
Memphis Commercial Appeal


"Shelley Sullivan firmly believes she's been visited by something she can't quite explain."

Dead But Awake: Is It Possible? By Daithi O hAnluain


"Two British scientists are seeking £165,000 ($256,000) to carry out a large-scale study to discover if clinically dead people really have out-of-body experiences."

NASA hires writer to debunk Apollo theory
By Ted Streuli
Galveston County Daily News


"Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was harassed in Los Angeles last month by a man who claims NASA faked the six manned lunar landings."

NASA commissions book to prove moon landing really happened
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers


"More than 33 years after the United States landed men on the moon, NASA is spending more than $15,000 to convince people that it really did happen and that the space agency didn't make it all up."

Might your eerie, ghostly encounter be sleep paralysis?
Gainesville Sun staff writer


"Neil Faulkner has told more than a few ghost stories. In fact, he swears he used to live in a haunted house in Williston."

Ghostbuster U
St. Petersburg Times


"Amid layoffs and an uncertain economy, many people are rethinking their careers, willingly or not. Always on the lookout for opportunity, we submit the Diploma Course in Parapsychology. It's a certification program offered by the American Institute of Parapsychology, headquartered in Gainesville (although the distance-learning course allows you to earn your degree by mail and e-mail)."

Strange stories ripple beneath Erie's surface
By Paula Schleis
Akron Beacon Journal


"Somewhere below the surface of Lake Erie, she slithers, mysterious and misunderstood."

Legendary beasts creep, slither in the state's forests and waters
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


"Arkansas is full of creepycrawlies. Most haven't been spotted for many a Halloween, but that's what monsters do: They lurk. Craig Ogilvie, a travel writer for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, tracked old newspaper and other accounts of monster sightings to log some of the Natural State's most unnatural residents."

River Edge man pursues 'the truth' about UFOs
Bergen Record


"Information is power, especially when you're trying to make a convincing argument that UFOs exist."

Ghosts making contact via computer? Stories abound
By David Hoye
Sacramento Bee


"Manfred Boden was at his computer when letters and entire lines of text on the screen began changing by themselves. Gradually, the German cabinetmaker saw a message from a recently deceased friend take shape: "I am here ... Manfred ... Yours, Klaus.""

Haunting residents: When a house guest is a ghost
by Connie Nelson
Minneapolis Star-Tribune


"A door suddenly slams, shattering the silence in an empty room. A TV blares on, as if by itself. Car keys left on the kitchen counter disappear, only to be found later in the shower. The sound of muffled voices filters down from the attic."

Gravity down ... or up?
By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell
Whittier Daily News


"Pat Gschweng and Terry Clark parked their Chevrolet Silverado at the bottom of a hill at Rose Hills Memorial Park, put the vehicle in neutral, then laughed as it eerily rolled up hill, seemingly against gravity."

Nontraditional Healer Arrested After Death of Patient Injected With
Unknown Substance
Associated Press


"A man seeking help for a persistent rash died after a nontraditional healer injected him with an unknown substance, police said. The healer and her assistant were charged with manslaughter."

And things that go bump in the night
By Laura Dempsey
Dayton Daily News


"It was a setup straight from Hollywood: Four young women, back home for the summer after their first year of college, sharing a house that belonged to one of their grandparents."

Do ghost horses stand ready?


"If a ghost chose to haunt anything in the city, what better place than the federal Armoury building downtown? It cries out for a ghost or two."

Lie Detector Roulette
By Brendan I. Koerner
Mother Jones


"Bill Roche was so close to his dream job. An overachieving police officer in a Bay Area suburb, Roche had made detective while still in his 20s. Confident that his law-enforcement résumé was sufficiently impressive after seven years on the force, he applied to become a U.S. Secret Service agent in 1997. Throughout the yearlong selection process, his interviewers lauded him as an excellent candidate. But before he could earn his earpiece and Ray-Bans, there was one last detail to take care of: Roche had to submit to a lie detector test."

Law says haunted homes can be family secret
By Matthew Strozier
Stamford Advocate


"Some nights as she was tending to her young children, Diana Hughes thought she felt a presence in the old Shippan house, something passing by or footsteps down the hall."

Don't Say Ghostbuster, Say Spirit Plumber
New York Times


"IT was a dark and stormy night — well, it was drizzly anyway — and for the Atlantic Paranormal Society, things were taking a sudden dark turn. The group had come to this harbor town near Boston at the request of a young couple named Jeff and Bekka Caruso, who reported strange goings-on in their small, waterfront house. There had been barking noises, the couple said, and a dresser had inexplicably emptied its contents on Ms. Caruso."

Experts say truth stranger than fiction — ghosts are real
Wapakoneta Daily News


"Legends abound of ghosts haunting castles, of apparitions inside homes in which a violent death took place, or spirits walking on bloodied battle sites. Stories of ghosts have spurred thousands of books, including a series of books about Ohio's apparitions."

Shock as porn film interrupts the ghosts
By Steve Madeley
The Express & Star


"Halloween television viewers watching a giant ghost hunt live from Dudley Castle were horrified when the show was abruptly cut off to be replaced by an explicit sex film."

House of Horrors


"When George and Kathy Lutz moved into the three-story colonial in Amityville on New York's Long Island in December 1975, they were thrilled."

Ghost Hunter Investigates Sacramento Underground


"Halloween is the one day out of the year that's filled with images of ghosts and haunted houses. But for paranormal investigators, spirits are real, and dealing with it is a year-round job."

Court House fails to give up ghost
By Jim DeBrosse
Dayton Daily News


"The six ghost hunters quietly descended the hidden spiral staircase inside Montgomery County's Old Court House and, opening a small door, entered the back of the dark rotunda that once served as a courtroom."

Grimsby Telegraph


"Ghouls, ghosts, apparitions and poltergeists will be spiriting around the Grimsby area tonight to mark Halloween. But where can North East Lincolnshire residents find a safe haven from these ghastly creatures? Perhaps the only option is to lock your doors and windows and stay safely indoors. But if you must go out tonight, reporter Tim Jays can exclusively reveal the places which people petrified of the paranormal should avoid. With the help of Grimsby ghostbuster and parapsychologist Robin Furman, we have found the area's top five most haunted places. If the supernatural is not your thing, then steer clear of this quintet of spine-tingling sites. However, if you are curious, then read on and maybe pay a visit - but remember, you do so at your peril!"

A familiar haunt
By Lesa Ingraham


"Sitting in her living room, Sharon Johnson can hear the soft sounds of an upstairs rocking chair creaking against the hardwood floor. She knows there isn't anyone sitting in it."

Bigfoot's indelible imprint
By Marco R. della Cava


"There are times in life when we must summon every shred of courage to stand tall and unflinching in the face of fear. This is not one of them. It is 2 a.m., and outside a flimsy tent lit by a full moon something stirs in this primeval forest."

Is Success In The Stars?
by Virginia Citrano


"America's richest people would do a Chinese daddy proud."

Gettysburg Residents Talk About Their Ghosts


"Throughout the years, many people have talked about unexplained sightings in Gettysburg."

Local Ghost Busters
By Sonya Pfeiffer


"Think there's no such thing as a haunted house? A hard core group of paranormal researchers says think again. Now they've got some science they say backs them up."

City's ghost sightings faded into the night
La Crosse Tribune


"Ancient Celtic tradition holds that on Halloween the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world lifts for a night, allowing spirits of the dead to visit the living. The Celts would dress up as ghouls and go around whooping it up on Halloween night to scare away the spirits, who the Celts thought wanted to inhabit their bodies. As if."

Ghost Hunter
Indiana Gazette


"Saying Tony Greenawalt is fascinated with Gettysburg is an understatement. Green-awalt, 50, has been to the site of the historic Civil War battle more than 200 times since his first visit as a student at Blairsville Elementary School."

Students, visitors report seeing ghosts haunting college campuses
Scripps Howard News Service


"Some college alumni just can't bear to leave their alma mater."

Truth in the Tales: Recent research reveals haunting details relating to Tyng legend
Nashua Telegraph


"We've all heard some great urban legends in our time. Some we believe, some we dismiss. All of these stories are based ­ if somewhat loosely ­ on fact, but what if research proved a story to be true? Would it be so easy to dismiss?"

'It Just Gives Me The Willies'
By John Sharify


""It just gives me the willies," says Maureen Nelson."

Ghost Hunters Descend on Parkersburg, West Virginia
by Erika Celeste


"Historic Parkersburg, West Virginia is home to a Victorian downtown filled with museums, hotels and... hauntings. This morning, 75 people from around the country have gathered for a three-day conference on the paranormal at a ghosthunters convention. President of the American Ghost Society, Troy Taylor, cautions people to keep an open mind before they scoff."

Halloween special: Are ghosts among us?
Tecumseh Herald


"When he was growing up, Tecumseh resident Dr. John Trent said he became accustomed to the presence of a ghost called "Herman" who shared his grandparent's residence in Taylor. There would be unexplained voices, footsteps, or items inexplicably out of place. Then there was the clincher."

PA couple hunts ghosts in haunted hotels


"When guests check into a hotel, the last thing they want to see evidence of people who have stayed in the room before them."

Ghost hunters find lingering spirits locally
By Chris Richburg
Rock Hill Herald


"There is "life after life," if you ask Lino Camarda. While many people believe death is the end, Camarda believes that it merely opens a door to another world."

Ghosthunters record voices, spot 'orbs' in farmhouse
By Joni Edmondson
Shamokin News-Item


"When things go bump in the night. When photographs mysteriously flip over in their frames. When candles are found turned upside-down in their holders. When you think you might have spirits sharing your house. Who ya gonna call?"

Kensington resident finds Sprucevale healthy haunt for spirited interest
Lisbon Morning Journal


"This is not the story of local haunts - specifically those areas in and around the Sprucevale area and Beaver Creek State Park - but rather the story behind one man's interest in the unknown."

A GHOST STORY? Art school's brush with afterlife
Sarasota Herald-Tribune


"They say her name was Mary, and that eight decades ago she lived in the Bay Haven Hotel on the dusty North Trail."

Now he sees it, now they don't
Finger Lakes Times


"Phil Jordan's got a purrfect Halloween story."

That haunted feeling
St. Petersburg Times


"At the historic Cuban Club in Ybor City, according to legend, the piano plays by itself, a woman wails and the elevators carry invisible passengers."

Aberdeen Press & Journal


"A pioneering scheme that allows people in the Highlands to access homeopathic treatment on the NHS was yesterday hailed as a huge success."

Hunt for haunts
St. Petersburg Times


"Almost every city or town in America has some place people think is haunted. An old building, a cemetery, a brokerage firm . . . "

Ghost hunters scour U. of Montevallo house for spooks
Tuscaloosa News


"The setting seemed ideal: An 1823 mansion with creaky pine floors and fluttery lace curtains. And nearby, a pitch-black cemetery where the roots of ancient, gnarly oaks poke at the graves of the home's early occupants."

Friendly ghost no problem so far
St. Joseph News-Press


"Del and Joyce Sutherland have a roommate they've never met. All the St. Joseph couple knows about its houseguest is that she's a nun, she has a cat and she doesn't like nudity on TV. Oh yeah, the Sutherlands also know their roommate is dead."

Might your eerie, ghostly encounter be sleep paralysis?
Gainesville Sun


"Neil Faulkner has told more than a few ghost stories. In fact, he swears he used to live in a haunted house in Williston."

The death grip of a voodoo queen
By William Hageman

Chicago Tribune

"Ina Fandrich runs her hand over the front of the tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1."

Day of the dead revives creepy tales
Norwich Bulletin


"Blood pumps faster through the veins of Jewett City residents this time of year."

Four tribes will appeal Kennewick Man ruling


"Four Northwest Indian tribes have filed notice that they will appeal the ruling of a federal judge who rejected their request to rebury the ancient skeleton called Kennewick Man."

Government files appeal notice for ancient skeleton
Associated Press


"The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed its appeal of a ruling that overturned former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's decision to allow Northwest Indian tribes to rebury a rare and ancient skeleton known as "Kennewick Man.""

Mother-daughter team investigates the unexplained
By Lauren Janis
Burlington County Times


"Sheila and Crissy Tindall stepped between headstones at Tabernacle Cemetery. It was just days before Halloween and the rain fell hard and cold from the night sky, but they weren't afraid."

Ghost investigator to visit Millbrook
By Robert Lachman
Millbrook Round Table


"Linda Zimmerman is a true-to-life ghost investigator. She will share some of her experiences when she visits the Merritt Book Store in Millbrook on Nov.2. at 7 p.m. to give a talk and slide show presentation."

Ghostly Virginia pops out at surfers for supernatural
By Joe Szadkowski
Washington Times


"The study of ghosts has been going on for centuries as believers and nonbelievers have tried to document concrete evidence of the spirits' existence. Illusionist Harry Houdini, inventor Thomas Edison and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all have looked into these apparitions, with mixed results."

They Called It Witchcraft
New York Times


"In 17th-century New England, almost everyone believed in witches."

At Halloween, be true to your ghoul
By Linton Weeks


"Music kicks on for no apparent reason in an empty dorm room. Mysterious mist moves across sacred ground. Students speak of unspeakable visitations. It's just another day at Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., near the Mason-Dixon Line."

by Joseph Giordano
Dundalk Eagle


"Sometimes they come back. And it's the job of the Greater Dundalk Paranormal Investigators to get them on tape."

A wicked display: Drew exhibit demystifies witch lore
By Laura Bruno
Parsippany Daily Record


"Witch hunters of 16th century Europe swore by it. With chilling precision and thoroughness, the 7-inch-tall by 2-inch-thick handbook was a popular reference guide at witch trials."

Documenting Edgar Cayce By JENNIFER P. BROWN Kentucky New Era

"A documentary film that traces the life of local clairvoyant Edgar Cayce will be shown Saturday at Hopkinsville Community College."

Big spooks on campus By JESSICA WEHRMAN Corpus Christi Caller-Times http://www1.caller.com/ccct/national_world_news/article/0,1641,CCCT_812_1510478,00.html

"Some college alumni just can't bear to leave their alma mater."

Holistic care soothing alternative for patients by Karen Meiman Business Courier http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2002/10/28/focus3.html

"Lee Ann Lamb's daily routine became nearly unbearable after she underwent radiation for ovarian cancer."

Witchcraft: Arts and Sciences
Associated Press


"There's no abracadabra or broom-flying at Andreas Starchel's School of Witchcraft."

Cyber Snake Oil
By Jacob Dalton


"You can find just about anything on the Internet, apparently even a cure for cancer. Or at least that's what Raw Health, a whole foods and detox product website run by Kris Pletschke is claiming. And Raw Health isn't the only online health site making such claims. This week on "CyberCrime," we investigate the growing number of websites raising concerns with health care professionals. Watch to find out whether medical miracles truly exist online, or if the people behind these sites are simply taking advantage of ill customers' desperation."

Voters in two cities look at fluoride issue
Associated Press


"Voters here, as in Kalispell, are being asked whether their drinking water should be augmented with fluoride, touching off a debate on the additive."

When there's no logical explanation for things that go bump in the night
By Dana George
Traverse City Record-Eagle


"It seems that paranormal activity isn't restricted to stately old hotels, abandoned schools or farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. According to experts, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a culture in the world that doesn't have its share of ghost stories."

Americans Haunted By Belief In The Paranormal
Hartford Courant


"It's not any seasonal unrest in the spirit world that keeps ghost hunters busy around Halloween. It's the incessant calls from the media."

Savannah's Unseen inhabitants
By Jennifer Rose Marino
Savannah Morning News


""They're heeeere.""

A business contact to the spirit world
By Linda A. Moore
Memphis Commercial Appeal


"There are no flowing robes, clattering bracelets or dimmed lights where Natalie Davis plies her trade."

'Haunted hanging' pub on sale
BBC News


"One of the oldest pubs in Wales, where 180 people are believed to have been hanged in the 17th Century, has gone on sale."

Owner is tired of telling people Satan's chicken feet never stepped across the floor.
By Macarena Hernandez
San Antonio Express-News


"It's bad enough when Ray Gonzales hears that the devil showed up at his dance hall, but to say that the Evil One danced with every woman there is going a little too far."

Uproar over damage to stone box linked to Jesus's brother


Joseph Brean and Anne Marie Owens
National Post

Saturday, November 02, 2002

TORONTO - Biblical scholars were outraged yesterday to hear that an ancient stone box that could be one of the greatest archeological discoveries of our time shattered into several pieces while being shipped from Israel to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

The box is believed to have contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus, and could be the first archeological evidence of Jesus's existence

"Here, when we know the value, know how precious it is, this terrible thing happens," said Hershel Shanks, editor of the journal that announced the discovery of the box last month. Called an ossuary, the box is inscribed: "Ya'akov [James], son of Yosef [Joseph], brother of Yeshua [Jesus]."

Friday, November 01, 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 – November 1, 2002

from The Washington Post

The Smithsonian's scientists should be able to count on a steady source of federal dollars because the research done at the institution is unique, two studies ordered by the White House concluded yesterday.

The unusual scrutiny of the Smithsonian's science budget came after the Office of Management and Budget suggested shifting the money to the National Science Foundation. Under the proposal, Smithsonian researchers could apply for grants from the NSF but wouldn't be guaranteed anything.

The two studies, by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration, considered the strategy and reached identical verdicts: Bad idea.

A withdrawal of core funding would probably disrupt the Smithsonian's science work, which dates to its founding 155 years ago, the studies said.


from The New York Times

Meeting the world's rising energy needs without increasing global warming will require a research effort as ambitious as the Apollo project to put a man on the moon, a diverse group of scientists and engineers is reporting today.

To supply energy needs 50 years from now without further influencing the climate, up to three times the total amount of energy now generated using coal, oil, and other fossil fuels will have to be produced using methods that generate no heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the scientists said in today's issue of the journal Science. In addition, they said, the use of fossil fuels will have to decline, and to achieve these goals research will have to begin immediately.

Without prompt action, the atmosphere's concentration of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, is expected to double from pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, the scientists said.

"A broad range of intensive research and development is urgently needed to produce technological options that can allow both climate stabilization and economic development,"the team said.


from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - In the largest block retraction ever published in the prestigious journal Science, eight papers by discredited researcher J. Hendrik Schon are being withdrawn at the request of his co-authors.

Schon, 32, was a science superstar at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs. He published more than 80 papers in top journals, such as Science and Nature, and was sought out by other researchers because of his reputation for spectacular results with difficult problems in material sciences and electronics.

But when his work was questioned by other scientists last spring, an outside investigating committee appointed by Bell Labs concluded that Schon had fabricated data or altered experimental results in at least 16 projects between 1998 and 2001.

Schon, the committee found, "did this intentionally or recklessly and without the knowledge of any of his co-authors."


from Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The percentage of the world's plants threatened with extinction is much larger than commonly believed, and could be as high as 47 percent if tropical species are included, researchers said on Thursday.

The study, published in the November issue of Science, challenges earlier research that estimated the number of species in danger of extinction was about 13 percent.

Previous studies of extinct plants underestimated the numbers because they failed to include many plants growing in tropical countries such as Ecuador and Colombia.

Plants are becoming extinct for many reasons, including global warming and human encroachment into area habitats, said Peter Jorgensen, a researcher at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis who coauthored the new study.


from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Researchers want to begin the first studies of the effects of a risky smallpox vaccine on toddlers and preschoolers - a proposal raising such thorny questions about safety and ethics that the government is seeking public reaction before giving the OK.

Among the issues: The vaccine is made of a live virus called vaccinia that can cause its own infections until the injection site scabs over, so researchers plan to keep inoculated children out of day care or school for a month. But will youngsters tear off their bandages and put relatives, playmates or others at risk?

And is it ethical to test in healthy children a vaccine that could cause a life-threatening reaction when they probably won't benefit from it - unless a bioterrorist attacks with smallpox?

After research oversight boards had mixed reactions, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that for the next month it will accept public comment on whether the University of California, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati Children's Hospital should inoculate 40 2- to 5-year-olds with smallpox vaccine. They would be the first children to get the shots since routine vaccination ended in 1972.


from The Washington Post

The quest for an effective "nonlethal" chemical agent like the one that killed more than 100 hostages in Moscow last weekend has tantalized U.S. military and law enforcement officials for years.

But even though the government has undertaken several research projects into incapacitating gases and aerosols since the mid-1990s, the effort has proceeded slowly in the face of thus-far insurmountable technical hurdles and concern about violating the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

A Pentagon spokesman this week issued a statement saying "the U.S. military is not currently involved in any programs or research related to the development or procurement of incapacitating agents," did not plan any such research and has not stockpiled any agents.

But as recently as May 2000, the Defense Department paid $69,931 to a Michigan-based firm to begin a multiphase project "to demonstrate the feasibility of innovative, safe and reliable chemical immobilizing agents."


from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2002 4:49 p.m. EST) - An Army investigation of possible medical and behavioral causes behind a series of domestic killings and suicides at Fort Bragg, N.C., has ruled out the anti-malaria drug Lariam, officials said Wednesday.

Speculation about possible explanations for the killings has run the gamut from the stress of combat to psychotic side effects from Lariam. Three of the four soldiers involved in the killings had recently returned from Afghanistan.

Elaine Kanellis, an Army spokeswoman, said she could not discuss findings from the investigation report, which is not yet in final form.

USA Today reported Wednesday that the investigators found no common link in the four killings, except that the soldiers were all in troubled marriages.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the U.S. Navy from deploying a submarine-hunting sonar system that environmentalists argue could harm whales and dolphins.

Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte said, however, that the Navy must be allowed to train with the system. She ordered both sides back to court Nov. 7 to develop a plan that would allow the Navy to train with the sonar during the eight months before the case goes to trial in June.

It was the latest skirmish in a dispute between the Navy and environmentalists in a suit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Humane Society of the United States.

In her 58-page ruling granting the preliminary injunction, Laporte found that the environmentalists probably would prevail in proving violations of four environmental laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


from The Associated Press

Health officials at the Grand Canyon say they're figuring out ways to prevent future outbreaks of a flulike virus that affected dozens of hikers and rafters this summer.

A report released this week reveals that water from a sewage treatment plant at Glen Canyon Dam upstream has tested positive for Norwalk disease. The virus was also found downstream in the Lee's Ferry area.

National Park Service scientists say they will test further to determine if there are other sources of the virus along the Colorado River.

Chuck Higgins, a regional public health specialist with the National Park Service, says researchers are certain the virus is spreading through river water.


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

Sigma Xi Homepage

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American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

Normal Cancer Rate Found Near Three Mile Island Plant


November 1, 2002

A new study of 32,100 people living within five miles of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pa., found no significant difference in the overall rate of cancer deaths compared with the general population. The study did find some differences when cancers were analyzed by time period, type of cancer and sex of the patient.

The study, by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, said that their surveillance "provides no consistent evidence that radioactivity released during the nuclear accident has had a significant impact on the overall mortality experience of these residents."

But the study also said that "several elevations persist and certain potential dose-response relationships cannot be definitively excluded."

A Moonwalker's Perspective 30 Years Later: Harrison Schmitt to Offer "Shocking Revelations" at GSA Annual Meeting

Geological Society of America
Denver, Colorado

Contact: Ann Cairns
Phone: 303-357-1056; Fax: 303-357-1074


GSA Release No. 02-46

The date was December 11, 1972, and the occasion was the last Apollo mission to the Moon. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt landed in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow, the only scientist and the last of 12 men to step onto the lunar surface. Standing in a brilliantly sun-lit valley deeper than the Grand Canyon and gazing at a nearly full Earth in a deep black sky, Schmitt's questions about the origins of the Moon and terrestrial planets and their subsequent history took on very personal significance.

Today, geoscientist Schmitt, literally one in six billion human beings to combine science with actual lunar exploration, continues to ponder those big questions. He'll share some of the results of his synthesis of the research of many others on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver, CO. At the GSA Planetary Geology division's Gilbert Lecture and Award Ceremony, Schmitt will discuss "A Lunar Field Geologist's Perspective 30 Years Later: Shocking Revelations about the Moon, Mars, and Earth."

Shocking? The orange "soil" or pyroclastic glass that Schmitt found on the Moon, for example, continues to provide clues about the origin of the Moon. In Schmitt's view, it also reveals why the prevailing Giant Impact hypothesis of the Moon's origins doesn't work.

"The major problem with this hypothesis," says Schmitt, "is that the interior of the Moon is not cooperating. Most importantly, the lower lunar mantle, based on analyses of the Apollo 17 orange pyroclastic glass, has a chondritic, that is, primordial elemental and isotopic imprint. This primordial imprint would have disappeared or have been significantly modified if the mantles of the Earth and the impactor had already formed as required by the current Giant Impact hypothesis.

According to Schmitt, "If the Giant Impact hypothesis is not compatible with this evidence, alternatives to it should be considered, including capture of a small, independent planet from a solar orbit near that of the Earth's."

Similarly, many scientists agree that the Moon's 50 or so basins greater than 300km in diameter, as well as most other ancient lunar craters, were formed at about the same time by an apparent "cataclysm" 3.9 billion years ago. According to Schmitt, "the primary argument against this hypothesis is found in the sampling sites for Apollo and lunar meteorite samples of impact-created glass for which formation ages have been determined. These samples have come largely from the surface of the Moon most affected by the 14 youngest large basin-forming impacts and debris thrown from them. These 14 youngest impacts are, indeed, 3.9-3.8 billion years old based on the dating of Apollo samples. A variety of volcanic and impact evidence indicates that it is highly unlikely that all the 35 or more older impact basins formed during the same interval.

"One of the most exciting aspects of studying lunar origin and evolution is applying that understanding to the early Earth and Mars," says Schmitt. "And herein lies a 'shocking' revelation about the possible origin of Earth's first continents."

The 2500km diameter basin on the far-side of the Moon, known as South Pole-Aitken, records an impact of an extraordinarily energetic object near the end of the period of smaller scale saturation cratering that followed the solidification of the lunar crust. South Pole-Aitken is just the most obvious manifestation of possibly three or four other such huge early impacts, including the 3200km diameter front-side basin called Procellarum.

Schmitt estimates that the Procellarum basin formed at about 4.3 b.y and South Pole-Aitken at about 4.2 b.y. If these formation ages are in the ballpark, they suggest an explanation for detrital zircon (ZrSiO4) crystals of about the same ages in very old sedimentary rocks on Earth. Early impacts of the scale of South Pole-Aitken and Procellarum, occurring in water-rich environments such as the Earth and Mars, would create thick sheets of impact generated rock melt on a continental scale. As these magma sheets crystallized, zirconium concentrations may have reached levels that produced the very old zircons.

And what about Mars? Schmitt also suggests that there is evidence for and reason to believe that Mars had both early (older than 4.2 billion years) and late (younger than 3.8 billion years) oceans due to separate periods of intense volcanic eruptions that included abundant water. The shores of these two oceans appear to have been identified in the data returned by the Mars Surveyor spacecraft now in orbit around that planet. Further, he speculates that the most stable ecological niche for Martian life has been the boundary between the subsurface water ice zone and liquid water expected beneath that zone. If simple, one cell life forms evolved on Mars in parallel with their evolution on the Earth prior to 3.8 billion years ago, they may have adapted to survive in this global niche as the surface of Mars became hostile to any life.

"Extrapolating what we now know about the Moon and applying it to Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury -- the terrestrial planets -- is one of the primary scientific returns of lunar research. But looking ahead, the Moon will also mature our thinking about the gas giants and other parts of the solar system," says Schmitt. For example, whether as a result of a cataclysm or not, where did the objects originate that created the 50 or more large basins on the Moon? He'll continue to contribute to that work, this time with his feet firmly planted on Earth, while developing a business rationale to return to the Moon for its energy resources.

"A Lunar Field Geologist's Perspective 30 Years Later: Shocking Revelations about the Moon, Mars, and Earth"

Harrison H. Schmitt
Gilbert Lecture – GSA Planetary Geology Division
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Nontraditional Healer Arrested


October 31, 2002

Filed at 5:00 p.m. ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A man seeking help for a persistent rash died after a nontraditional healer injected him with an unknown substance, police said. The healer and her assistant were charged with manslaughter.

The coroner's office was analyzing the substance. The cause of death for Roberto Caceres, 54, was unknown Thursday.

Four doctors had failed to control Caceres' rash by the time he went to Reina Isabel Chavarria's home office in Van Nuys after hearing of her through Spanish-language newspapers and talking to some of her clients, police said.

Police said Chavarria's assistant Margarita Montes gave the injection to Caceres, who went into convulsions and was taken to a hospital. He died Monday.

Along with involuntary manslaughter, Montes and Chavarria were charged with practicing medicine without a license. Montes, 28, pleaded innocent Wednesday; arraignment for Chavarria, 48, was set for Nov. 19.

Chavarria and Montes were jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail each. They could be sentenced to up to nine years in prison if convicted.

The treatment room contained candles, religious figurines and what appeared to be a shrine made up of voodoo dolls, investigators said. A dog slept on the treatment table that was used to give injections, homicide Detective Al Aldaz said.

``This should be a warning for people to have more confidence in traditional medicine instead of being treated by somebody rubbing an egg on their back or giving them herbs or ointments,'' Aldaz said. ``The person receiving these treatments had no idea of where they got this medicine or even if it's clean.''

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Atheist Scout given a week to declare belief


Scout executive: 'Mother Nature would be acceptable'

Thursday, October 31, 2002 Posted: 10:33 AM EST (1533 GMT)

PORT ORCHARD, Washington (AP) -- Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert has earned 37 merit badges, worked more than 1,000 hours of community service and helps lead a Boy Scout troop in his hometown.

But the 19-year-old has another distinction that may lead to his removal from the Boy Scouts: He's an atheist. Last week, Lambert was given roughly a week by the Boy Scouts' regional executive to declare belief in a supreme being and comply with Boy Scout policy, or quit the Scouts.

The official and Lambert were to talk again this week regarding Lambert's answer.

"We've asked him to search his heart, to confer with family members, to give this great thought," Brad Farmer, the Scout executive of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, told The Sun of Bremerton.

"If he says he's an avowed atheist, he does not meet the standards of membership."

Police hunt conman who sold miracle syrup to schoolchildren

From Ananova at:


Police in Montenegro are hunting a conman who sold schoolchildren a 'miracle syrup' which he said would help them get better marks in class.

Education chiefs in the small Balkan state asked police to step in after worried parents alerted teachers.

The children had told their parents they were surprised the syrup had not brought them better grades.

"He was offering us syrup promising us we would be able to learn much easier, have a better memory and feel healthier. He said we'd never get any bad marks if we drank it," one child told the local daily Vijesti.

Police are now looking for a "retired doctor from Bosnia and Herzegovina".

Doctors confirmed the syrup was not harmful to the children.

Story filed: 12:48 Thursday 31st October 2002

Skeptic Newssearch - 10/29/02


True Believers
Dallas Observer


""I don't believe in Bigfoot. I thought I'd let you know that I absolutely do not believe in Bigfoot," begins Chester Moore Jr. The audience shuffles and murmurs uneasily, as if they have been tricked. "How many people here believe in Bigfoot?" Almost everyone warily raises a hand. Moore delivers. "I think that believing is for religion, and I've accepted the fact that we have a hidden species of primate in North America." Sighs of relief break out among the believers."

Who You Gonna Call?
By Erin G. Edwards
Nashville Scene


"We've all had those odd, uncanny experiences: The dog inexplicably barking at the basement steps, odd creaking noises throughout the house before bedtime, barely audible whispers, flies massing at windowpanes, a spectral play of light at the end of a hallway. Most people sleep easy with rational explanations for these phenomena."

FDA Seizes 'Autism' Supplements


"The US Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) said on Thursday it had ordered the seizure of hundreds of bottles of a dietary supplement that the agency said falsely claimed to treat autism."

Polygamy Puzzle
Phoenix New Times


"The author of a purported Attorney General's Office memo describing widespread criminal activity in the polygamous community of Colorado City remains unknown more than two weeks after it surfaced."

End Game
Seven Days Vermont


"A promotional piece inserted recently in copies of The Burlington Free Press bills itself as a "personal invitation to attend a Bible prophesy adventure in the Book of Revelation." The colorful brochure's cover proclaims, "Armageddon now! Time is running out for planet Earth." Another section mentions "world crisis" and promises "Hope beyond terrorism.""

Exit the Unicorn
by Howard Altman
Philadelphia City Paper


"As he walked out of the courtroom after the jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree, Ira Einhorn puckered his lips and seemed to whistle to nobody as it finally dawned on him that he would be trading in his crisp navy suit and future hopes for an orange jumper and life in a cage."

Ira's End
Philadelphia Weekly


"Justice finally found Ira Einhorn."

Tarot card expert says sniper not schooled in correct use
by Karen Youso
Minneapolis Star Tribune


"Time was when a Gypsy would shuffle the tarot deck and lay out the cards to tell a fortune. But the use of tarot cards recently by a sniper in the Washington, D.C., area is turning the tables. The discovery of a card with "I am God" scrawled on the back, coupled with reports of additional cards left at the sniper's other crime scenes, leaves police and the public to interpret the meaning."

The sage of Aquarius
by Julie N. Lynem
San Francisco Chronicle


"An Aries wants a firm handshake and the bottom line. The Aquarius steers clear of confrontation. Scorpios, like Ted Turner and Bill Gates, are fierce, stealthy competitors who hate flattery."

Peru, in Purple, Venerates 'Lord of the Miracles'
By Monica Vargas


"When Maria got sick with cancer, her Peruvian parents couldn't afford the costly drugs that doctors said would save their only daughter."

'Ghosts' elevator traps 28
By David Rogers


"It probably wasn't a ghost, but 26 people visiting the Queen Mary's Ghosts & Legends tour got more than they expected when they were trapped inside an elevator on Sunday, officials said."

Andhra police seek divine help
By Omer Farooq
BBC News


"The police in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are invoking the gods in their fight against left-wing rebels."

'Miracle' in city: Lakshmi idol changes colour
Times of India


"Deep Ghosh, a trader in fish fodder, and his wife Rita had sat down for dinner on Sunday night at their Chetla home, when they noticed something rather strange. The idol of Goddess La-kshmi had changed colour and acquired a distinctive greenish hue."

Panamanians Beg Pardon at Black Christ Festival
By Robin Emmott


"Thousands of Panamanians, many of them thieves, prostitutes and drug dealers, on Monday came to purge their sins at the annual Roman Catholic festival of the black Christ, Panama's wildest and most chaotic celebration of faith."

Geller goes in search of a battle armed with psychic powers
Glasgow Herald


"URI Geller, the celebrity psychic, will take to the sky above central Scotland today in the hope that his paranormal powers will unearth one of the country's most mysterious historical secrets."

Psychic 'solves' battle riddle
BBC News


"Psychic Uri Geller is planning to take to the air to confirm his belief that he has solved one of Scotland's greatest mysteries."

Clinton aide slams Pentagon's UFO secrecy
By Richard Stenger


"One winter night in 1965, eyewitnesses saw a fireball streak over North America, bank, turn and appear to crash in western Pennsylvania. Then swarms of military personnel combed the area and a tarp-covered flatbed truck rumbled out of the woods."

Maybe we're not alone after all
Albany Times Union


(See also http://www.fox23news.com/Global/story.asp?S=981962&nav=8ob8BwFt)

"Was it a terrorist missile, an off-course alien space craft or just a zippy mosquito with a hearty autumn constitution? Local authorities hope the FBI will know for sure."

Thames torso police seek fresh clues in Nigeria


"Detectives investigating the death of a five-year-old boy whose severed torso was found in the River Thames last year, have arrived in Nigeria to seek fresh clues in their inquiry, police said on Wednesday."

Ghostly goings-on at bridge
Shropshire Star


"Everyone knows horses are intelligent creatures but a farm owner from Shropshire believes his animals have a spooky sixth sense."

'Ghost mystery' of accident black spot
BBC News


"Villagers think a ghost could be to blame for a series of accidents on a country road."

Serenade For A New York City Ghost
By Vera Haller


"Walk into the Merchant's House Museum on East 4th Street and you are transported back in time, to the genteel life of wealthy New York in the 19th century."

If the truth is out there, Sci-Fi Channel wants to know
By Randy Cordova
Arizona Republic


"The Sci-Fi Channel has jumped into the UFO fray - for real this time."

Outing UFO Clues Good for Ratings
By Mark Baard


"On the face of it, Fox Mulder would be proud of a group of Washington insiders who are throwing their weight behind the UFO movement."

UFOs: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing
By Leonard David


"Call it a conspiracy (or savvy marketing), but a new poll released this week says a majority of Americans think the truth about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is out there, yet the government is concealing it from them."

Caught between a rock and hard place
By Gavin Phipps
Taipei Times


"When Ho Hsien-jung and Lin Sheng-yi's startling publication, Taiwan -- The Cradle of Civilization, hit bookstores last year neither of them expected it to become a best-seller. They did, however, expect the book to be taken more seriously in academic and governmental circles than it was."

Primeval terror (since 1929)
By Laura Miller


"Of all today's holidays, Halloween seems like the most primeval. Its bats, witches, spooks, skeletons and monsters surely indicate roots reaching back before the dawn of science and Christianity; the whiff of prehistoric campfires clings to its sable robes. Well, guess again."

If These Walls Could Talk
by Jessica Yorama
Daily Egyptian [Southern Illinois University]


"A faded red book, "Southern Illinois University: A Pictorial History," tells the history of the campus through a series of black and white photographs of distinguished, brick buildings."

Haunted Hangout of the Hereafter?
Alva Review Courier


"According to owner Nan Wheatley, Vina Rae's Grill & Graze Cafe located in the old high school gymnasium at Avard should change its name to the Grill & Ghosts because of mysterious sights and sounds occurring in the old building."

FG crop circle genuine, says scientist
By Lisa Waggoner
Hillsboro Argus


"A circle that cropped up in Lyle Spiesschaert's wheat field this summer is the real deal, not a hoax, say a scientist and expert who specialize in crop circle studies."

Some ghost stories may not be fictional
By Trina Trice
Clayton County News Daily


"Stories about things that go "boo" in the night aren't always purely make believe."

Ghost Story
Naples Daily News


""Call the real estate guy right now, 'cause we're selling this house!""

Local ghost hunters dare to make contact with things that go bump in the night


"Their T-shirts feature a headstone with the slogan, "Wanted dead, not alive." They carry mysterious silver briefcases in the dark of night."

Radio Talk Show Host Bell to Retire
Associated Press


"Radio talk show host Art Bell, whose overnight talk of UFO sightings and conspiracy theories made him famous, has announced his retirement."

Radio Legend Art Bell to Announce Retirement
By Sue Zeidler


"Radio host Art Bell, famed for his lengthy discussions on creepy conspiracy theories, will announce his retirement on air in the wee hours of Thursday, his syndicator Premiere Radio Networks Inc. said on Wednesday."

A tour of our most notorious haunted manors
By Rebecca K. Engmann
Copenhagen Post


"One step beyond the appeal of visiting this country's sights is the thrill of seeing its heritage of the unseen. The supernatural is a thriving culture in Denmark, whose ancient history has borne plenty of restless souls doomed to wander the halls and towers of tens of the country's palaces and manors to the delight - and terror - of sceptical and superstitious types alike."

'Girly Ghostbusters' probe paranormal


"A warning to any ghouls or spirits prowling the creepy cemeteries and mansions of the Waterloo Region: Ghostbusters are hot on your vaporous trails."

Being Skeptical Assists Psychic When Connecting
Jamestown Post-Journal


"John Edward is skeptical and he wants others to be the same."

Nice to Know A House Is Haunted
By Stephanie Cavanaugh
Washington Post


""'He' sat there in midair, smiling at me from in front of the cold fireplace. Hands clasped around his crossed knees, he was nodding and rocking. He faded slowly, still smiling and was gone. . . . He was the most cheerful and solid-looking little person I'd ever seen.""

Ghost hunters develop camera to detect paranormal activity
Associated Press


"Michael Lynch doesn't live in the Twilight Zone, although he's spent enough time there to pay taxes."

Shroud of Turin inspires study, skepticism, faith
By Mark Houser


"Despite several scientific tests that seem to show it is a forgery, the Shroud of Turin still has the power to enthrall not only the devout, but also a cadre of scientists who claim the debunkers are wrong."

Mysterious phenomena can disappear without an explanation
By Ramsey Campbell
Orlando Sentinel


"Some things are better left unexplained."

'Planet X' is a gift to doomsday buffs
By Michael Alicea
Palm Beach Post


"What is it about astronomy that draws cranks by the cartload? And why do they delight in spewing bad-science-based doomsday scenarios and scaring the bejabbers out of everyone?"

Halloween horrors! Beastly sightings part of Wisconsin lore
by Jim Lundstrom
Appleton Post-Crescent


"Little did Linda Godfrey know that a routine newspaper assignment in 1992 would become such a big part of her life."

Of soothsayers and skeptics
Canadian Press


"Dust off the crystal ball, get the cards out and don't throw out the tea leaves — they might all prove useful."

Turn to Pravda for the real news
by David Grimes
Sarasota Herald-Tribune


"When American news gets too depressing, as it has lately with the sniper, the pending war with Iraq and the apparent unavoidability of the next election, I turn to Online Pravda to find out what's on the minds of our good friends in Russia."

Owners: Spirits lurk in historic hotel
Oakland Press


"A local historian once told George Kutlenios, owner of the Holly Hotel, that good things come to those who own the landmark building. In 1978, when the restaurateur was struggling to rebuild and make the burned-out hotel into a success, those words from long-time Holly resident Vera Cook Husted were comforting."

Press reporter joins hunt for hotel ghost
Oakland Press


"Is the Holly Hotel haunted? Certainly people over the years - owners and patrons alike - have experienced strange occurrences there."

Ghosts, monsters, unexplained phenomena, haunt state
Associated Press


"Arkansas can be a pretty scary place, and not just during the week of Halloween."

Meet the new Zionists
by Matthew Engel
The Guardian [UK]


"At first sight, the scene is very familiar: one that happens in Washington DC and other major American cities all the time. On the platform, an Israeli student is telling thousands of supporters how the horrors of the year have only reinforced his people's determination. "Despite the terror attacks, they'll never drive us away out of our God-given land," he says."

Horse attacks may be witchcraft
BBC News


"Animal welfare experts say there may be a link between sporadic attacks on horses and witchcraft."

Giant Pig Attacks Alaska
Cornell Daily Sun


"Well, no one has actually called it a flying pig as of yet, but it might as well be. Just like the poor Connecticut residents whose story I brought to light when their neighborhoods were viciously bombarded by the cacophony of Mister Softee ice cream trucks, the people of Alaska are in trouble."

'Miracle' water goes on trial
Australian Associated Press


"Water said to be empowered by alchemy and touted as a miracle cure is under the spotlight of the NSW Supreme Court in a case described by one silk as the new age on trial."

Is Mother Teresa's miracle a fake?
by Helen Rowe
Glasgow Sunday Herald


"The apparently miraculous recovery of a poor tribal woman from a stomach tumour has divided India between those who believe it should be the basis for Mother Teresa's canonisation and those who view it as an organised fraud. Monica Besra, a West Bengali, claims she was cured after offering prayers to Mother Teresa on the first anniversary of her death in 1998; the Catholic church in the state says her cure satisfies the criteria for a miracle because it was 'organic, permanent, and immediate'."

Anti-depressants have little more effect than placebos, claims study
By Julie Robotham
Sydney Morning Herald


"The mood-lifting effect of the most popular anti-depressants is barely more than people experience when they take a dummy sugar pill, according to analysis of secret pharmaceutical company trials."

Murder of 'cow killers' in India prompts much soul searching
by Luke Harding
The Guardian [UK]


"A Hindu religious leader has welcomed the murders of five men accused by a mob of killing a cow, India's most sacred animal, claiming that the life of the creature is more important than that of a human."

Witch thinks positive in bid to lure 'ghostly' Loch Ness monster
by John Ross
The Scotsman


"AMERICAN scientists used millions of pounds of equipment and mini submarines. Screaming Lord Sutch used a haggis and a sandwich. But none of these heroic efforts yielded firm proof of the existence of the Loch Ness monster."

Researchers are in Bullhead City to investigate alleged bigfoot sighting
Mohave Daily News



http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk/arc/00/ms41.htm 22 October 2002


In this issue we return to the theme of the ETH, which this newsletter was originally started to discuss, with the aim of getting believers in the ETH to present the best evidence for it in a clear and rational manner and to list those UFO incidents which they thought should be presented as the most promising indications that the ETH might be true, and might eventually be shown to be true. It was all in vain, as most ETH enthusiasts greatly resent having their favourite UFO reports subjected to critical examination and seeing all the flaws and inconsistencies in the stories laid bare. However, we intend to persist in exposing the weaknesses of the case for ET spaceships and their occupants, in the hope that some ufologists will eventually see sense.


John Harney

IT IS generally agreed that most UFO reports can be explained if sufficient and accurate information about them is available to investigators. It is said, though, that a small number of reports remain unexplained despite careful investigation, and that it is reasonable to suppose that these are sightings of extraterrestrial spacecraft. This is known as the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH).

The ETH is superficially attractive and apparently rational. Among the great mass of UFO reports are some genuine sightings of ET spacecraft and these are discovered by a process of elimination, rather like separating gold from gravel. Problems arise when a report seems impressive and is touted by believers in the ETH as definitely or probably a genuine sighting of an alien craft. When this happens, any further investigations or critical examination of the evidence and testimony tend to be unwelcome.

In cases where seemingly impressive reports have been subjected to further investigation, though, evidence usually emerges to show that there are mundane explanations available, or that there are serious flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence and testimony.

We are often told that certain cases can not be explained as misperceptions or hoaxes because there were multiple witnesses, so they must be genuine UFOs. In the first issue of this newsletter, I briefly discussed the Trindade Island case of 16 January 1958, in which a UFO was allegedly seen and photographed from the Brazilian navy vessel Almirante Saldanha, and noted that there was no agreement as to how many witnesses there were. (1) Anyone who reads the literature on this case will also note that there are no statements available from these witnesses. It was simply asserted that there had been many witnesses, even though the US Assistant Naval Attaché, when he boarded the ship, could not find anyone who claimed to have seen the UFO. Since I published this, no one has been able to produce any statements made by these alleged witnesses, only statements by the principal witness, and by one or two people who were not even there at the time, assuring us that many of those on board the Almirante Saldanha actually saw the object.

This is the way UFO events tend to be treated when investigators wish to bolster their belief in the ETH. They are inclined to accept any details which point to exotic explanations and do not inquire too closely into the reliability of the evidence and testimony.

Perhaps it would be helpful to those who are puzzled by the rejection of the ETH by many ufologists, if I try to set out the serious objections to it. Some of the objections which are made are false or irrelevant, so I think it is a good idea to try to compile a list of genuine ones. I'll start with a list which includes what seem to me to be a mixture of valid and invalid objections, given by Dr J. Allen Hynek in a lecture in 1983, (2) with my comments added:

1. "Failure of Sophisticated Surveillance Systems to Detect Incoming or Outgoing UFOs."

This seems a fairly sound objection. Spacecraft entering orbit, and space shuttles and satellites re-entering the atmosphere are routinely detected and tracked, as are many meteors. Yet UFOs are not tracked and spectacularly bright UFOs somehow fail to appear on satellite pictures. It is, of course, claimed by some ETH believers that UFO tracking information is kept secret, but surveillance is carried out by different nations. There are also many amateurs who track satellites and observe satellite re-entries and meteor showers, and would surely notice and make careful records of anything unusual and share them with other enthusiasts.

2. "Gravitational and Atmospheric Considerations." Extraterrestrials could not function on our planet as the beings in CE3s are said to do. They could not walk about with ease or inhale our air or, even more to the point, levitate.

CE3 sightings rarely have independent witnesses. This is not a problem unless we choose to believe such stories and take them as being real physical events rather than delusions. Before we start to explain or theorise about a UFO event we need to establish the facts of the case. Only if we can satisfy ourselves that the incident really took place as described should we include it in a list of UFO reports requiring explanation, by means of the ETH or otherwise.

We do not know what beings from other planets could or could not do if they landed on Earth, as we have no information about them. Anyway, if any of these CE3 sightings could be authenticated, then we would just have to accept them.

3. "Statistical Considerations". Distant worlds would not - could not - dispatch as many spacecraft in the numbers UFO reports indicate.

Here we have to assume that a certain proportion of UFO reports are sightings of ET spacecraft. But even if we assume only about one per cent of reports to be genuine, this amounts to a large number (which somehow escape detection by surveillance systems).

This is not a valid objection because it is purely speculative. Assuming that intelligent beings exist elsewhere in the galaxy, we have no knowledge of what they are capable of doing. For example, it has been suggested that a sufficiently technologically advanced civilisation could produce a self-reproducing universal constructor, known as a von Neumann machine after the man who first showed that such a machine is theoretically possible. Once these machines got going they could produce as many spacecraft as required at no extra cost to their inventors. (3) So, at least in theory, there is no limit to the number of alien spacecraft which could be visiting us, if we are willing to consider the possibility that they might exist

4. "Elusive, Evasive and Absurd Behaviour of UFOs and Their Occupants." The beings and the craft that bear them do not act as we would were we to travel to a faraway planet.

As with objection 2, we have no good reasons to take such observations too literally, and even if we do it is not reasonable to suppose that ETs would behave as we would expect them to.

5. "Isolation of the UFO Phenomenon in Space and Time: The Cheshire Cat Effect". UFOs appear and disappear, staying visible for no more than brief periods of time; their being observed at Point A does not mean that they will be seen at Point B even if last spotted heading in that direction.

It is not easy to interpret this. Presumably Hynek was referring to what Jenny Randles has called the Oz Factor where the UFO is seen only by a single witness or a small group of witnesses, and other people in the vicinity at the same time notice nothing unusual. To most rational ufologists such reports suggest a psychological explanation should be sought.

6. "The Space 'Unworthiness' of the UFO". Most UFOs are too small to sustain a crew over the vast distances of the cosmos.

This does not make sense. Obviously, interplanetary or interstellar spacecraft would be too big to land on or to enter the atmospheres of planets but would go into orbit and launch smaller craft for this purpose. This is familiar from accounts of manned and unmanned space missions, as well as science fiction stories.

7. "The Problem of Astronomical Distances". Extraterrestrials could not get here in any reasonable time. (Hynek considered this to be a fatal objection.)

A number of answers to this objection have been suggested by scientists and science fiction writers, including suspended animation and generation starships, where those who arrive at the intended destination are descendants of those who originally set out on the voyage. It can be argued that the vast distances involved make interstellar travel unlikely, but they certainly do not make it impossible.

Most of the objections to the ETH raised by other scientists also have no validity. For example, Carl Sagan argued that even if only a very small fraction of UFO reports were genuine, then there would have to be an unfeasibly large number of interstellar spacecraft. (4) All of Sagan's objections are purely speculative, and he dismisses UFO reports simply because he was able to explain a few which he investigated.

So far we have only one valid objection to the ETH which is that UFOs are not detected entering or leaving the Earth's atmosphere. If such observations were obtained and authenticated it would surely go a long way towards convincing many sceptics that we are indeed being visited by ETs. The other objections are incapable of being verified or are simply wrong, or purely speculative.

The main practical objection, which we have not yet dealt with, is that after 55 years of UFO investigations we not only have no verified observations of UFOs entering and leaving the Earth's atmosphere, but we also have no other clear, accurate and undisputed observations which strongly suggest ET visitations, and no undisputed physical evidence to be linked with the alleged activities of ETs and their spacecraft. We should also take into account the fact that all those who have claimed contact with ETs - whether they are called contactees or abductees - have failed to provide any new and important facts about other planets, etc. which were not already known and which could eventually be verified. For example, if the contactees of the 1950s had published precise, detailed descriptions of other planets, and if these descriptions had been found many years later to have been true and accurate, then they would have to be taken very seriously. But, as we all know, the vital information which will confirm the truth of the ETH always slips from our grasp, usually just when it seems it is about to be revealed to the world.

Many ETH believers insist that the evidence is kept secret by US government agencies. They never explain how these US agencies manage to persuade every other government in the world to keep the saucers secret also. They never explain how any government agency can keep secret something which it does not control. Of course there is some government secrecy about UFO reports, but this concerns UFO investigation projects, not the UFOs themselves. Any individual or organisation, official or amateur, can conduct secret UFO investigations. Many of them do this so that they can work undisturbed by news media, cranks and the idly curious. They also do it because they wish to respect the rights of witnesses to privacy.

If there are genuine, ET, UFOs they can appear anywhere at any time and be seen by anyone. If there is physical evidence to be had it can fall into the hands of any individual or organisation. To maintain total secrecy about vital UFO evidence is simply impossible.

Thus, while many objections to the ETH have been put forward, it is at least logically possible. The only valid and important objection to it is simply lack of evidence.

1. 'The ETH and its proponents', Magonia ETH Bulletin, No. 1, March 1998

2. Hynek, J. Allen, 'The case against ET', in Walter H. Andrus, Jnr., and Dennis W. Stacy (eds), MUFON 1983 UFO Symposium Proceedings, 118-26, Mutual UFO Network, 1983 (quoted in Clark, Jerome, The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial, Visible Ink, Detroit, 1998, 212)

3. Tipler, Frank J., 'Extraterrestrial intelligent beings do not exist', in Regis, Edward, Jr., Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, 1985. Tipler's argument is that as ET spaceships are apparently not present in our solar system even though there has been plenty of time for ETs to evolve and develop von Neumann machines, then they don't exist. However, he admits: "But the evidence is not utterly conclusive; beings with extremely advanced technology could be present in our solar system and make their presence undetectable should they wish to do. The point is that a belief in the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent beings anywhere in the galaxy is not significantly different from the widespread belief that UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships. In fact, I strongly suspect the psychological motivation of both beliefs to be the same, namely 'The expectation that we are going to be saved from ourselves by some miraculous interstellar intervention . . . '"

4. Sagan, Carl, 'The extraterrestrial and other hypotheses', in Sagan, Carl and Thornton Page (eds), UFOs - A Scientific Debate, Cornell University Press, 1973


from The Miami Herald

WASHINGTON - More than 33 years after the United States landed men on the moon, NASA is spending more than $15,000 to convince people that it really did happen and that the space agency didn't make it all up.

Stubborn conspiracy theorists claim that NASA's six Apollo-program moon landings were faked. After decades of belittling and ignoring them, NASA has decided to fight back. It hired James Oberg, a Houston-based former aerospace engineer and award-winning author of 10 books on space, to confront skeptics point by point. Many scientists already have done that on the Internet, but skeptics remain unconvinced.

"Ignoring it only fans the flames of people who are naturally suspicious," Oberg said Tuesday in an interview.

Last year, Fox television twice broadcast a show entitled Conspiracy Theory: Did We Really Land on the Moon?, and NBC's Today show staged a debate on the topic. Last month, Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, punched a conspiracy theorist who had been pestering him to swear on a stack of Bibles that the landing was real.

After the Fox show first aired, NASA put out a one-paragraph press release titled Apollo: Yes, We Did.

Yet a 1999 poll found that 11 percent of the American public doubted the moon landing happened, and Fox officials said such skepticism increased to about 20 percent after their show, which was seen by about 15 million viewers.

Stephen Garber, NASA's acting chief historian, said Oberg's 10-chapter, 30,000-word monograph "is not going to convince the people who believe in these myths. Hopefully, it'll speak to other people who are broad-minded."



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Prisoner demands 'vampire' diet



THE Utah State Court of Appeals has dismissed Robert Paul Rice's claims that the Utah State Prison is violating his right to practise his religion by failing to provide him with a "vampire" diet.

The court also showed no sympathy for Rice's complaint that he wasn't allowed a conjugal visit when a "vampress" is available so he can partake "in the vampiric sacrament (drinking blood)".

In his appeal, Rice claimed when he was brought to the prison in June 2000 he noted in his information sheet that he was "a Druid" and that "the order of the Druids that I follow is the order of the Vampire".

When he later became a member of Wicca, his "vampiric dietary needs" changed, he said.

Prison spokesman Jack Ford said Rice's records showed he was a Catholic.

Rice, sentenced to one to 15 years for felony weapons possession, theft and burglary, said he could drink milk and eat fruit, grains and vegetables. But he won't eat meat.

"We aren't customising the meals to what each inmate wants. We do have alternatives," Ford said.

As for the kiss of the "vampress", forget it.

"Without any question we do not have conjugal visits in Utah," Ford said.

This report appears on news.com.au.

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