NTS LogoSkeptical News for 9 November 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Jesus' brother's sarcophagus a fake?

From: "Michael Hendry" <curculio@earthlink.net>
To: <classics@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Jesus' brother's sarcophagus a fake?

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this on the list, but at least one publication claims the famous sarcophagus is an obvious fake
(http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?enZone=Views&enDisplay=view&enPage=ViewsPage&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article^l1569) and of dubious ownership (http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?enPage=ArticlePage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article%5El1599&enZone=Culture&enVersion=0&). If you can't get these ridiculously long URLs to work, go to the main web-site (http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?enPage=HomePage), scroll down to the 'Culture' section in the left column, and click on "'Brother of Jesus' bone-box plot thickens". That's the second story, and it has a link to the first near the end of the first paragraph (click on "insist").

I also don't know how serious a publication 'Israel Insider' is, but it looks respectable -- not that looks are everything on the web. Does anyone know more about these questions?

Michael Hendry
534-B Greenleaf Meadows
Greece, NY 14612
(585) 865-3052
E-mail: curculio@earthlink.net Web-page: http://www.curculio.org

Your brain may soon be used against you


Posted on Tue, Oct. 29, 2002

By Faye Flam
Inquirer Staff Writer

The last refuge of secrets and lies - the brain - may be about to reveal all.

Scientists are finding ways to use the brain's activity to expose truths a person may try to hide. The techniques could revolutionize police work, improve national security, and threaten personal privacy.

"It's the scariest thing around," said physicist Robert Park, an outspoken critic of old-fashioned, unreliable polygraph machines. "The only thing worse than a lie detector that doesn't work is one that does."

Ruben Gur, a neuropsychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, says new kinds of brain scans can reveal when a person recognizes a familiar face, no matter how hard he or she tries to conceal it.

The scanning machine, called a functional MRI, takes pictures that highlight specific parts of the brain activated during certain tasks. Telltale parts of your brain "light up," he said, when you are presented with a face you have seen before.

It is easy to imagine such scanners being used in interrogation of criminal suspects or terrorists about their associates. Gur described just such possibilities for national security experts at a recent Penn workshop.

"Everything we do, and everything an enemy does, starts in the brain," he said at the Penn meeting, sponsored by the newly formed Institute for Strategic Analysis and Response, which includes Penn epidemiologists, germ-warfare specialists, political scientists, and computer experts.

Such scanning could also be used to pick up brain abnormalities that he says characterize those prone to violence.

Another Penn scientist, Daniel Langleben, has found that a functional MRI can act as a lie detector. A handful of other scientists around the country are examining ways to read thoughts by examining the brain.

"In the long term, I think we will have technologies powerful enough to understand what people are thinking in ways unimaginable now," Langleben said. "I think in 50 years we will have a way to essentially read minds."

He said he was not particularly happy about that. Neither are others concerned about the unprecedented threat to humanity's most private realm.

Gur acknowledges the concerns about brain scans eventually revealing private thoughts. The balance between security and privacy is something society will have to come to grips with in many areas, he said.

A long quest

To Gur and Langleben, visions of Orwellian thought police do not overshadow the potential benefits and the ever-tantalizing scientific prospect of understanding how the mind works.

Gur said this work grew out of a long-standing quest to understand the nature of conscious thought. When he set out to study consciousness, in the 1970s, the concept was so hazy as to be out of the realm of scientific inquiry.

With the advent of imaging machines such as MRIs, scientists found the machines were capable of witnessing the brain in action by tracing the way blood flowed to specific regions during various mental tasks. Gur got in early, testing which of the many small structures inside the brain were activated when test subjects were resting, reading words, recognizing shapes, or trying to remember facts.

The early machines used radioactive tracers that would "light up" regions where metabolism was fastest. He went on a long diversion exploring differences between the way men and women used their brains. He found, among other things, that differences in the brain endowed women with better memories and better control of emotions, while men were more likely to be hot-headed.

In the last several years, he started focusing on the way the brain responds to emotion. Through a friend at the Arden Theatre Company, he brought together 140 Philadelphia-area actors.

Signs of recognition

He asked them to portray a range of emotions - happiness, sadness, fear, anger and disgust. He took pictures of the actors and showed them to volunteers whose brains were being scanned by a functional MRI, which works by monitoring the way molecules in the brain tissue respond to a magnetic field.

He isolated a number of centers in the brain that were activated when the volunteers looked at the emotional faces. Then he decided to show the volunteers faces they had seen before mixed in with new faces, to see if their brains registered recognition.

The familiar faces stimulated more activity than the new ones in several areas, including the hippocampus, which regulates memory, and parts of the visual cortex. He published his findings in the May issue of the journal NeuroImaging.

Investigators have long employed numerous methods to detect lies - voice analysis, observations of body language and facial expressions, and the polygraph, which measures changes in skin conductance and pulse rate. Controversial since its invention, the polygraph fell further out of favor this month when the National Academy of Sciences deemed it too inaccurate for the government to use to screen people as potential security risks.

"The polygraph only catches people who are anxious about lying," often letting through those who lie with ease, Gur said.

Langleben said he was inspired by studying children with attention deficit disorder. He noticed that such children often had trouble telling fibs - they would just blurt out whatever came into their minds first, which was usually the truth. That led him to wonder whether the part of the brain that helps control behavior also helped people to lie.

He found himself collaborating with Gur, who shared his interest.

They started with a standard test - called the "guilty knowledge test," used in polygraph studies. Volunteers were asked to choose a playing card and put it in an envelope along with a $20 bill. The subjects were hooked up to the scanner and asked a series of yes or no questions about the identity of the card. They were told they would get the $20 if they could fool the computer.

When the subjects lied, the scanner showed increased activity in several areas, including one called the anterior cingulate region, which Gur said was activated by conflicting information or errors. Also activated more in lying was a part of the frontal cortex normally involved in making decisions. Finally, the researchers also saw more activity in the part of the brain that controls the right hand - since volunteers had to communicate their answer by pushing buttons.

The scientists still cannot tell when each individual is lying - they only get significant results when they average results from many subjects. But they say they are getting closer to the ultimate goal of lie-detecting: being able to tell individual truths from lies - and truth-tellers from liars.

Contact Faye Flam at 215-854-4977 or fflam@phillynews.com.

Therapeutic touch?
Skeptics here bet against it


Philadelphia Inquirer: Page One 1/21/97

Therapeutic touch? Skeptics here bet against it
reprinted with apologys (and no permission) by Eric Krieg - special thanks to the "inky" folk for not suing me

They offered $742,000 for proof that treating the "aura'' worked. One therapist took up the challenge. By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER One important thing to note about the increasingly popular practice of therapeutic touch, or TT as it is sometimes called, is that there is no actual touching. Nurse Robert Glickman suspected that there is no actual therapy either. Glickman, who works at Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia, says he was seeing more and more of his fellow nurses waving their hands a few inches from their patients' bodies in an attempt to alleviate pain. The technique is based on the notion that a body is surrounded by an "aura'' or by "energy fields'' that can become "congested'' when someone is hurting.

When a respected nursing journal, Today's OR Nurse, last year published an article instructing nurses in this technique, Glickman started to get annoyed. The journal, he said, "wanted us to take time away from caring for patients so we could run around flipping energy fields.''

Glickman enlisted help from the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking, a group to which he belongs. He and his fellow skeptics, not believing in auras or energy fields, wanted proof, and they were willing to offer $742,000 for it. Advocates of TT say that more than 40,000 people around the country are practicing the therapy, at both private clinics and hospitals. They say that the practice eases pain and anxiety and sometimes speeds healing.

None of these claims is backed by large scientific studies. Practitioners say they don't yet know why, but they see it work in their patients. Nurses are offering TT in mainstream medical settings, such as New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Ruth Flaherty, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said therapeutic touch is practiced there, where it is sanctioned by both nurses and doctors."We all are for it [TT ] here,'' she said.

In Philadelphia, nurses at several hospitals, including Allegheny University/Hahnemann and Thomas Jefferson, offer TT informally to patients. "We've started a fledgling TT network,'' said nurse Marion Schmidt, of Thomas Jefferson. At Jeanes Hospital, chaplain Marthajane Robinson says she performs therapeutic touch.

Most TT practitioners interviewed said they can both diagnose and heal using the energy field that they believe surrounds the body. The therapists say they can detect illness, injury, or pain as unusually hot or cold spots in this field. By massaging the field, they say, they can move the injured energy out through the fingertips, base of the spine, and toes.

In demonstrating the technique at the Mind/Body Connection clinic in King of Prussia, nurse Linda Degnan looked like a mime applying suntan lotion. Working on a seated patient, her hands massaged the air about 4 inches from the body, working downward from the head. She said she was kneading out points of "congestion'' in the "energy field.'' She ended at the feet, holding them on the floor -- what she called "grounding.''

"It works for migraine headaches, and for arthritis,'' she said.

Some therapists say TT speeds healing of bruises, and at Columbia Presbyterian, if patients wish, they can have it done during heart surgery, spokeswoman Flaherty said.

For their challenge, Glickman and his fellow skeptics brought in James Randi of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a former magician who now works debunking claims of the paranormal. A foundation he has set up has received hundreds of thousands of dollars to test such far-reaching claims, he says. The skeptics placed announcements in nursing journals, alternative-medicine newsletters and the Internet of their $742,000 prize to anyone who could pass their TT test.

Nancy Woods, a California freelance TT and massage therapist, was the only one to respond and agree to the test. In November, she flew to Philadelphia, though she said she didn't want the money. She said she went along with the test out of curiosity.

Glickman and Randi's test was designed to see whether Woods could distinguish an injured arm from a healthy one. The idea was for her to do this on two people, who would be hidden under blankets, and whose arms would be inside fiberglass arm casts. One was a man with no health problems; the other a woman with chronic wrist pain. Woods said she would be able to distinguish the injured arm simply by touching the energy field that she sensed around it.

As a control test designed to make sure that the set-up didn't hamper Woods' abilities, the skeptics asked her to perform TT over the arms of the two volunteers while seeing their faces and knowing which one had the injury. In 10 trials, she ran her hands over each cast and said that even through the fiberglass she could feel the difference in energy fields between the injured arm and the healthy one.

Then the skeptics covered the subjects with blankets, so just their cast-covered arms stuck out, and asked her to do the same thing. If, as she said, she could feel the injury through the "energy fields,'' she should have been able to distinguish the two volunteers. Instead, she got only 11 out of 20 tries correct -- close to the 50-50 score one would expect from random guesses. Glickman says Woods failed.

Woods protests. "They didn't tell me anything about the test,'' she said. She came in thinking they were going to try to figure out how the technique worked. "I thought the point wasn't to prove it works or doesn't work -- I know it does,'' she said. "It's such a wonderful healing technique.'' She charges $75 to perform TT on patients complaining of migraines, she says, but only if the patient is satisfied . Though the idea that the body has an aura goes back several thousand years, today's therapeutic touch was founded in the 1970s by Dolores Krieger, a nurse whose book, "The Therapeutic Touch," is considered a must-read for those in the practice.

Degnan, of King of Prussia, says she uses TT mainly to ease pain and to reduce the stress of overburdened lives. ``It's wonderful for babies,'' she added. But TT, Degnan says, can have side effects. If the therapist works too much around a patient's head, she said, it could cause headaches.

One of her patients, Kathy Finn, 40, gets both TT and massage for chronic pain she says she has suffered since tearing soft tissue in her left shoulder 10 years ago while working as a luggage loader at the airport. Last fall, on the suggestion of her rehabilitation therapist, she started going to Degnan for $50 weekly sessions -- which are not covered by her insurance. ``Linda changed my life,'' she said. She feels her pain is eased.

Much to the chagrin of physicists, Degnan, Robinson and other TT therapists connect their practice with such principles as quantum mechanics and relativity.

"Modern physics says everything is energy -- our bodies are just dense energy,'' Robinson said.

When asked whether either quantum mechanics or relativity could explain a human energy field, physicist Robert Park laughed for a good 30 seconds. "These people have no idea what science is about -- or what quantum mechanics and relativity are about,'' said Park, spokesman for the American Physical Society, the country's largest association of physicists, in Washington. "They invoke the symbols of science to justify themselves,'' he said.

Degnan and other TT therapists say that the technique has been scientifically tested, though the studies have not been published in mainstream medical journals. None of the positive tests is scientific, countered Wallace Sampson, a California physician who heads the National Council Against Health Fraud, a group that has also looked into TT's claims. Sampson says his group is aimed at educating people about "things that don't work.''

But some people do believe TT works, and perhaps there is an explanation -- one that requires no energy fields or other magical concepts, says Alfred P. Fishman, a physician in charge of testing alternative therapies at the University of Pennsylvania. In his practice of acute trauma, Fishman says he has seen that patients do better when they get more attention. If TT encourages nurses to spend more time with patients, then the practice will have a beneficial effect on them, he says. "You can juggle in front of them, wave your hands, or talk about a book,'' he said. "Anything you do that makes patients feel cared for, supported, that will also make them feel better.''

This and other pages found at http://www.phact.org/e/tt/article.htm
created 1/20/97, last updated 1/22/97


http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Parliament/3460/skep1.html by

Bruce Maccabee, 1999

Although I cannot now cite the reference, it is this author's recollection that someone claimed that flying saucers were actually "motes in the eye" (small particles such as blood cells which float in the fluid within each person's eyeball; motes are only visible when they move to an area between the lens and the fovea; when they move out of this area they "disappear"). These particles, when viewed against a bright sky, can appear as dark objects far away and thus may be mistaken for large objects at a great distance. Of course, they move whenever the eye does and this can impart "unearthly speeds" to the apparently distant, large objects. (Note: one can be temporarily fooled by motes, but a simple test is to turn the eye and stare in another direction. If the "object" moves with the eye, then it was a mote. If not, it could be (gulp) "out there".... a UFO??!!!)

Dan Nelson, an attorney in Oklahoma City, published his explanation in the "Daily Oklahoman" newspaper, July 29, 1947. On July 30 the FBI contacted him to learn more about his solution to the mystery. According to Nelson all sightings from inside vehicles, including airplanes, that had windows were reflections of sunlight from shiny objects onto the windows. The light reflected from these shiny objects was then re-reflected toward the eye of the observer who was looking through a window and could thus see the reflection silhouetted against the background as if there were a shiny object "out there", far outside the car. Naturally reflections such as this could do unnatural things such as pace a vehicle or suddenly accelerate, make fast turns and even suddenly disappear. According to Nelson, the vibration of a car, for example, would give the objects "an appearance of rotating" and "reflections (in the windows) caused them to appear flat or saucer shaped." Moreover, "...any number of objects might be seen according to the direction that the car is traveling and the number of bright objects being reflected onto the window. He further stated that these objects might be seen in an ordinary window in a house according to the lighting conditions..." Mr. Nelson told the FBI that he had not actually talked to saucer witnesses but "he believed that these reflections plus the excitement and hysteria caused by other reports has been the basis for most flying saucer reports." (Classic armchair theorist!!) Obviously Nelson's explanation could not apply to Arnold's sighting, but Nelson didn't know that since Arnold's full report was published until many years later.

Psi: Philosophical Questions


The debate over psi has had a familiar pattern from the beginning. Psychical researchers gather reports about spectacular feats performed by great mediums or superpsyschics. Skeptics respond with suspicions of fraud, self-deception, or just that we didn't know enough about the psychology behind strange experiences to proclaim what amounts to a miracle.

The problem, from a scientific point of view, is often that parapsychological investigators lack control over what they observe. Unlike in physics, where we deal with very simple objects and have some hope of isolating and tweaking the variables we want, experiments which involve human subjects are much messier. People are very complex; they may try and fool or please the investigator, they may do all sort of things which are hard to anticipate. To get solid results, we need adequate controls and repeatable results more than ever. Testimony alone, from however reliable a source, is not enough.

From the pro-psychic point of view, however, the skeptics also suffer from a problem: that of not having a ready explanation for what, on the face of it, look like very convincing stories of miraculous happenings. Even if these stories do not always have scientifically weighty evidence behind them, skeptics court the danger of becoming closed-minded. We can't be so confident to claim our current natural sciences must capture everything about reality. Maybe scientific standards need to be stretched to allow for psychic powers.

Hypnotherapy and phobias


Structure and applications of hypnotherapy in the treatment of phobias.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar LicMT LHS LNCP LCPS

A phobia is group of anxiety-related disorders, in which an excessive fear is perceived in the absent of real danger. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition) divides phobic disorders into three categories - simple phobias, social phobias and agoraphobia. In simple phobias the anxiety is provoked by a specific event, subject or situation, whereas social phobias are evoked by a social situation. There are many kinds of social phobias, but a common theme is uncontrollable fear or incompetence in social contexts. Agoraphobia is fear of being alone or in a public place when escape might be difficult or impossible. Essentially, it is a fear from having a panic attack.

The basic feature of any phobia is a conflict between conscious and unconscious processes. Hypnotherapy is an efficient agent in alleviating phobias because it can communicate with these unconscious processes.

In this short article I will give a sketch of the structure and applications of hypnotherapy in the treatment of phobias. It may serve as a possible treatment methodology, although one should approach each case individually.

A Racy Guide to Evolution



Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation,
by Dr. Olivia Judson,
Metropolitan Books, $24.

"Dear Dr. Tatiana,

My name's Twiggy, and I'm a stick insect. It's with great embarrassment that I write to you while copulating, but my mate and I have been copulating for 10 weeks already. I'm bored out of my skull, yet he shows no sign of flagging. . . . How can I get him to quit?

Sick of Sex in India."

With the help of terminally ill volunteers, our service is sending telegrams to people who have passed away.


For a fee of $10 per word (5 word minimum), a customer can have a telegram delivered to someone who has passed away. This is done with the help of terminally Ill volunteers who memorize the telegrams before passing away, and then deliver the telegrams after they have passed away. We call this an "afterlife telegram". Please take note of the following:

Since we can not guarantee delivery nor prove that a message has been delivered, our customers do not pay for "deliveries". They pay for "delivery attempts". What we do guarantee is the following:
1) The messengers have memorized their telegrams before passing on.
2) The messengers have promised to do what can be done to deliver their telegrams to the addressees after passing.

Cassini Significant Events

for 10/31/02 - 11/06/02

The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired from the Madrid tracking station on Tuesday, November 5. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and is operating normally. Information on the present position and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the "Present Position" web page located at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/operations/present-position.cfm.

On board activities this week included clearing of the ACS high water marks, and Radio and Plasma Wave Science High Frequency Receiver calibrations and a high rate cyclic.

A decision was reached with NASA Headquarters this week regarding the communications strategy to be used during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) burn. The plan is to switch to the low-gain antenna which will provide the ability to monitor the progress of the burn via Doppler data prior to, at the time of, and for a while after burn start, for a portion in the middle, and the part near the end, including burn termination. Two periods occur during the 98-minute burn where the signal will not be available because of occultation by the rings. Telemetry is not available over the Low Gain Antenna for this event. The primary competing option of pointing the high-gain antenna to Earth to provide telemetry during part of the burn, in addition to Doppler, was rejected due to the high propellant cost associated with this approach, and the fact that the visibility into the onset of any problem in real-time telemetry was minimal and in some cases could be detected in the Doppler signal anyway. Any real-time response from the ground was not a consideration in the decision due to the nearly three hour round trip light time at the time of SOI.

The first of two tests was performed this week at the new ESA tracking station designated DSS-32 in New Norcia, Australia. The tests are to validate the flow of telemetry and confirm that the station is capable of supporting Cassini if necessary during late 2003 and early 2004. DSS-32 is not able to forward telemetry at this time, but was able to frame sync to the data. Therefore, these New Norcia passes will verify RF compatibility and frame sync only.

The Radio Science team met with project management to review operations readiness for the second Gravitational Wave Experiment. GWE-2 is scheduled for a period of 40 days from December 5 through January 14, 2003. The technical capabilities necessary to accomplish this activity are largely unchanged from the operationally successful GWE-1 last December and January, with one exception. The heat exchanger unit on the Ka-band transmitter at the Goldstone Deep Space Network complex in the Mojave Desert was redesigned, reinstalled, and retested recently after problems developed during an experiment this past summer. Project management is satisfied that the project is ready for GWE-2.

During last week's Cassini Project Science Group meeting, staff from the California Institute of Technology showed electronic movies of a double-star occultation of Titan taken with adaptive optics at the Palomar observatory. These were very well received and spawned much interesting discussion. The movies may be viewed at http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~antonin/titan.html

A color composite image of Saturn and the moon Titan was selected as Astronomy Picture of the Day on November 4th. The image may be viewed at http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap021104.html All teams and offices supported the NASA Quarterly review on Monday, November 4.

Cassini is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Cassini mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

Cassini Outreach
Cassini Mission to Saturn and Titan
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Visit the JPL Cassini home page for more information about the Cassini Project: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

Laws of Anime


Version 6.0 Compiled and edited by Ryan Shellito and Darrin Bright

The Laws of Anime is a growing list of physical, universal, and natural phenomenon that seem to appear in various forms in all sorts of anime. The original intent was an effort to classify these incidents into a list of "laws" that explained how Anime physics are different from our own (real?) world. Due to the rather dynamic nature of Anime Science, theories and paradigms are generally in a state of constant flux, often shifting or changing with the tide of whimsy. By no means all-inclusive and sometimes not even remotely instructive, the following is an enumerated list of semi-empirical islands in an ocean of conjecture. It is our hope that you find them useful to studying Anime, or at the very least, worth a good chuckle.

Friday, November 08, 2002

The Existence of God Debate


November 11, 2002; 7:30 p.m.
Bluebonnet Ballroom
E.H. Hereford University Center
300 W. 1st St. Arlington, TX

Micheal Shermer

Ph.D in Science History
Author of Why People Believe Weird Things and How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science
Director of the Skeptics Society
Publisher of the Skeptic Magazine

R. Douglas Geivett

Dept. Chair, Talbot School of Theology at Biola University
Specializes in the areas of Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophical Theology
Published several books including Evil and the Evidence for God and In Defense of Miracles

Ticket Prices
$5.00 with Mav. ID
$7.00 General Public tax and handling charge included

Tickets available at Mav. Express and Student Activities,
Lower Level of the University Center

For more information or reasonable accommodation, call 817.272.2963

Organic Portals For Dummies
Learning How to Identify Organic Portals in the Real World


By Carissa Conti and Montalk
© November, 2002

(NOTE: Before reading this article it is suggested that you first read "Organic Portals: The Other Race" by members of the Quantum Future School, in order to understand how the discovery of Organic Portals came about, and to see excerpts from the actual transcripts. However, it is not absolutely necessary, as this article can stand on its own.)


Some people who read the description of Organic Portals in "Organic Portals: The Other Race" may find themselves stumbling when they encounter references such as "psychopath" and "sociopath" and think that the descriptions are only in reference to serial killers, murderers, rapists, criminals, abusers, etc. This is a misconception, and may result in concluding "Oh, that doesn't apply to the people I know," and then dismissing the concept as a whole, convinced that there aren't any "psychopaths" or "sociopaths" in their family or circle of friends. While the description can certainly refer to those types of individuals, it can also be in reference to every day people who psychopathically pursue money, fame, and power, go through friends and relationships like water, use and manipulate people for money, favors, and anything else they can milk, and seem to have no real regard for people, animals and the planet, and who lack warmth, true empathy and emotions -- basically, the types that don't seem "human". This description fits a good deal of the people who are running the world, who have no regard for anything other than themselves and their group's agenda, at a cost to everybody else on the planet, and the Earth itself. But it also can, and usually does, fit the description of every day people such as family, co-workers and friends who surround us in life.

Strange lights in the Gulf Coast sky

An Abductee's Story

The Clarion-Ledger - Jackson Mississippi


Photos at the website.

October 30, 2002

By Billy Watkins

GAUTIER - Charles Hickson has no proof.

No photograph he can pull from his wallet, no papers certifying his story.

Just his word that 29 years ago this month he and a fishing buddy were abducted by a UFO, examined by a machine resembling a giant eyeball, then released physically unharmed.

He has told his story under hypnosis, told it to Johnny Carson on national TV.

Recently, while sipping coffee in his modest home in Gautier, he told the story to a Clarion-Ledger reporter.

His account of that night never changes. He has passed numerous lie- detector tests.

What Hickson hasn't talked about publicly, until now, is that he believes whatever - or whoever - was on that craft has kept track of him.

"I think they know where I am at all times," he says. "Too many strange things have happened."

Hickson, a retired shipyard foreman with five children and a no- nonsense demeanor, is 71 and spends most of his time caring for Blanche, his wife of 48 years who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. He is fighting health problems of his own, including clogged arteries in his neck.

Hickson says he is a God-fearing man who "believes Jesus Christ died for my sins."

Whether people believe his UFO story doesn't seem to be a big deal to him. "If you were in my place right now, I'm not sure I'd believe you or not," he said.

But others saw something that night, too.

Several people later reported strange lights in the Gulf Coast sky just after sunset on Oct. 11, 1973 - about the time Hickson and then 19-year- old Calvin Parker say they were abducted.

Mike Cataldo, a retired Navy chief petty officer now living in Rotonda West, Fla., says he saw "a very strange object on the horizon" late that afternoon while driving on U.S. 90, between Pascagoula and Ocean Springs.

"Puddin' Broadus, a Pascagoula detective back then, told me he saw something streak through the air," says Glenn Ryder, a former captain with the Jackson County Sheriff's department who was the first to interrogate Hickson and Parker. "Puddin's dead now, but he was a fine man. He wouldn't make up something like that.

"A guard at Ingalls (Shipbuilding) saw it. Another guy was in his back yard and said he saw something streak above his house.

"When we studied it, all those reportings were in a straight line. And I'll tell you this: After talking with (Hickson and Parker) that night, I'm convinced they had some kind of experience. I don't know exactly what, but something happened to them. They were both shook up, especially that boy."

Parker, now 48, has avoided the media in recent years.

"This thing really messed Calvin up," Hickson says. "He was so young ... he just couldn't handle it."

In a 1993 interview with The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Parker said he was convinced it was demons, sent directly from Satan, who visited them that night.

Beverly Parker, Calvin's stepmother who lives with his father in Kiln, says they haven't heard from him "in a couple of months." Last she knew, Calvin was working construction in North Carolina and "doing pretty good."

The UFO incident is "something he won't talk about anymore," she says.

Imagine His Surprise...

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=573&ncid=757&e=1&u=/nm/20021107/od_nm/life_iran_invisible_dc Thu Nov 7, 8:01 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian police are looking for a phony sorcerer who conned a man into believing he was invisible and could rob banks, the Jam-e Jam newspaper said Thursday.

Customers at a Tehran bank quickly overpowered the deluded robber after he started snatching banknotes from their hands.

Appearing in court, the repentant thief said he paid five million rials ($625) to a man who gave him some spells and told him to tie them to his arm to become invisible.

"I made a mistake. I understand now what a big trick was played on me," the would-be bank robber was reported as telling the judge. His name was not given.

Court decision brings freelancer back to earth


By Thanassis Cambanis, 11/7/2002

The photograph should have been a gold mine: Bill Clinton, running for president in 1992, shaking hands with the alien from outer space who had endorsed him.

But Douglas M. Bruce, the freelance photographer from Fairhaven who snapped the picture of Clinton and a Secret Service agent that was altered by The Weekly World News, had to fight a four-year battle in federal court.

Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ordered the Florida tabloid to pay Bruce $25,000 for splashing the picture on its front page, on T-shirts, and in advertisements throughout the Clinton presidency.

Bruce wanted $400,000 in royalties for a shot that virtually became a Weekly World News mascot for eight years, even after Bruce's lawyer sent the newspaper a letter telling it to stop.

But the court ruled ''the bizarre nature'' of the doctored photograph helped ''turn it into a sort of icon,'' not the ''routine'' picture taken by Bruce.

''He would have photographed the alien if he could have,'' said Bruce's lawyer, Andrew D. Epstein.

Iran leader sentenced to death for blasphemy


TEHRAN, Nov 7: An Iranian scholar and close ally of President Mohammad Khatami has been sentenced to death for blasphemy after he questioned the right of religious leaders to rule the country, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The verdict against Hashem Aghajari, who lost a leg in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq conflict, is likely to send shock waves through Iran's reformist movement, many of whom have defended his right to free speech.

"The verdict was handed to his family yesterday (Wednesday)," lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said.

The decision came as the pro-reform Khatami is locked in a fierce struggle to break the stranglehold on power of hardline rivals who control key institutions such as the judiciary, armed forces and mostly non-elected supervisory bodies.

Following a closed trial without jury in the western city of Hamedan, Aghajari was sentenced to 74 lashes, eight years in jail and then execution. He is expected to appeal.

Aghajari, a 45-year-old history lecturer, angered conservatives by delivering a speech on "Islamic Protestantism" in which he compared the earthly powers enjoyed by Iran's rulers with medieval Catholic Popes.

He said religious leaders should not expect people to blindly follow them. -Reuters

Pilots sight UFO over China


November 8 2002

Several airline pilots have reported sighting a shining unidentified flying object (UFO) near the south-eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The first sighting was reported by a Xiamen Airlines pilot on Monday, who said he saw a light blue object hovering past his plane while 80km north of Nanjing, the Wen Wei Po daily reported.

At the same time, pilots of a Shandong Airline aircraft, which was some 120km away from the Xiamen airlines plane, also reported a similar sighting. They described the UFO as being a white-blue skateboard-shaped craft.

A pilot from another airplane, about 300km away, also reported a similar sighting to an airport control tower in Tonglu in Zhejiang province.

In recent years, China has witnessed a surge in UFO sightings.


Thursday, November 07, 2002

The Bogdanov Affair


John Baez

November 7, 2002

We all laughed when the physicist Alan Sokal wrote a deliberately silly paper entitled Transgressing the boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity, and managed to get it accepted by a journal of social and cultural studies, Social Text.

But around October 22nd, many of us began hearing rumors that two brothers managed to publish at least 4 meaningless papers in physics journals as a hoax - and even got Ph.D. degrees in physics from Bourgogne University on the basis of this work!

The rumor appears to have begun with an email from the physicist Max Niedermaier to the physicist Ted Newman, and it spread like wildfire. I received copies from many people, and soon there was a heated discussion of what this meant for the state of theoretical physics. Had the subject become so divorced from reality that not even the experts could recognize the difference between real work and a hoax?

On decided to post an article about this to sci.physics.research, a physics discussion group I help moderate. Entitled Physics bitten by reverse Alan Sokal hoax?, it brought widespread attention to the Bogdanov affair. It also started a a fascinating discussion on sci.physics.research, to which Sokal and the Bogdanovs themselves eventually contributed.

By October 24th, Dennis Overbye, a science journalist from the New York Times, began looking into this story. He asked the Bogdanovs if their work was a hoax, and they indignantly denied it. Igor Bogdanov soon began circulating emails to this effect. Again, these spread like wildfire, and most people interested in this case have already read one or another version.

Max Niedermaier then emailed the Bogdanovs an apology, which he urged them to distribute.

Indeed, many aspects of the original rumor are known to be in error, regardless of whether we trust the Bogdanovs' version of accounts. According to Niedermaier, both Bogdanovs conducted their thesis defense on the same day, in a rented hall with TV crews present. In fact, it seems clear that the Bogdanovs got their PhDs at different times. Grichka got a PhD in Mathematics from the Universite de Bourgogne on June 26 1999, passing at the lowest level. On the same day, Igor's thesis committee failed him. He later got a PhD in Physics from the Universite de Bourgogne on July 8, 2002.

However, I assure you that the Bogdanov's theses seem like gibberish to me, at least from their abstracts - even though I work on topological quantum field theory, and know the meaning of almost all the buzzwords they use. Their journal articles make the problem even clearer. You can easily get ahold of these, because they are appended to the PDF files which containing their theses. Some parts almost seem to make sense, but the more carefully I read them, the less sense they make... and eventually I either start laughing or get a headache.

French TV Stars Rock the World of Theoretical Physics



It didn't move at quite the speed of light, but the rumor last month circled the globe within minutes and roiled the ranks of theoretical physicists. It seemed that a pair of French twin brothers who were national television personalities had duped several physics journals by tying together a nonsensical string of trendy terms and mathematical equations in papers that slipped through the peer-review process.

"I hear that two brothers have managed to publish 3 meaningless papers in physics journals as a hoax -- and even get Ph.D. degrees in physics from Bourgogne University in the process!" wrote John C. Baez, a professor of mathematical physics at the University of California at Riverside, in an online physics discussion group that he helps moderate.

Over the next week, more rumors, facts, and accusations spread through e-mail messages and telephone calls as physicists engaged in a round of finger-pointing. In the end, the case turned out to be far more complex than a hoax, and it exposed potentially wide cracks in how theoretical physicists judge one another's work.

"It's an interesting case study in how stuff that is basically nonsense is easily gotten past referees these days," says Peter G. Woit, a theoretical physicist who directs instruction in the mathematics department at Columbia University. "There really was a serious failure of the refereeing here."

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 7, 2002

from Newsday

In a large analysis of children in Denmark, exploring whether the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine can cause autism, an international team of researchers found no link, but suggested an even more definitive answer will come from additional research.

Vaccines represent one of the most effective interventions in medicine. But vaccines in general - and MMR in particular - have come under fire in recent years from critics who believe them dangerous.

One of the most explosive debates centers on whether the MMR vaccine is linked to autism. Cases have been rising in the United States over the past 20 years and critics of immunization have blamed the MMR vaccine, based on a tiny study of 12 children four years ago.

An analysis of 535,000 Danish children reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine has found the MMR vaccine does not cause the neurologic disorder, which renders some children mute and emotionally disconnected.


from The Associated Press

ROME (AP) -- The United States on Wednesday became the 76th country to sign an international agreement governing the genetic code of plants, reversing a decision to abstain from the treaty when it was approved last year.

The treaty is intended to preserve plant diversity and thus food supplies by safeguarding the genetic materials.

In addition to promoting genetic diversity, the treaty recognizes farmers' rights to seeds and other plant resources and establishes a system of access and benefit-sharing for 64 crops and plants that are considered to be fundamental to food security.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

A widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug is remarkably effective in reducing or preventing symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice, Bay Area scientists report today.

One of a class of medications known as statins, the drug is already moving into the early planning stages of large-scale clinical testing in humans with MS, an incurable disorder in which the immune system attacks the insulating sheath surrounding nerve fibers.

Scientists compared the unexpected benefits of statin drugs, which are used by millions of heart patients, to the discovery that aspirin was useful not only as a painkiller but in treating heart disease, cancer and other ailments.


from The Christian Science Monitor

Forest fires have become a wildcard in the global-warming game. New research shows that, under the right circumstances, they can emit carbon dioxide at a rate to rival fossil-fuel emissions of the heat-trapping gas. This is a factor that computer simulations of climate change cannot yet take into account.

That's what happened when Indonesian fires polluted air over Southeast Asia in 1997-98. Susan Page at Britain's University of Leicester, together with colleagues in England, Germany, and Indonesia, now have analyzed satellite photos and data gathered on the ground to estimate how much of the fire area's living vegetation and peat deposits were burned.

In a paper published today in Nature, they report that the carbon dioxide (CO2) released was "equivalent to 13 to 40 percent of the mean annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and contributed greatly to the largest annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration detected since records began in 1957."


from The Christian Science Monitor

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND – Spotting crime before it happens may sound like the stuff of sci-fi novels, but researchers here at Kingston University are trying to do just that.

Detecting overcrowding and suspicious packages are potential uses of their system, which marries imaging software and the closed-circuit TVs that are abundant on this side of the Atlantic. Airports and train stations are prime locations to use the new technology, which is currently being tested in subway systems in London and Paris.

Comparisons are frequently made between the project and the precrime fighting offered in the movie "Minority Report." But Prof. Sergio Velastin is adamant that his team's work is not about predicting events, but flagging the characteristics of potentially problematic situations.

"I prefer the word 'correlate' rather than 'predict,' " he says in an interview in his office at the university's campus near London. "We have a rough idea of what might be happening, but we leave the final decision to the human operator."


from The New York Times

WHEN skies are clear, Tim Puckett's routine rarely varies. Long before sunset, Mr. Puckett sits down at a computer in his home in the foothills of Fort Mountain in Georgia and plots the targets for three motorized telescopes in the observatory he designed and built outside. Then, when darkness descends, he heads out to remove the covers from the instruments and focus them.

With Mr. Puckett back in the comfort of his home, the computer takes over, pointing the telescopes at the targets, one after the other, and telling digital cameras attached to them to take pictures.

The nightly harvest is about 1,000 images, which Mr. Puckett then shares with a half-dozen other amateur astronomers over the Internet. Together, they analyze the pictures for previously undiscovered supernovas, the remains of collapsed stars.

"As far as going out and looking up at the stars, I have no interest in that," said Mr. Puckett, who with his group has discovered 58 supernovas. "It's all science and photography for me."


Commentary from The Christian Science Monitor

PASADENA, CALIF. – There's not much in nature that's more familiar than the sun. With its warmth and light, it seems strange to think that the big glowing ball above us is still quite a mystery. So much so, that this year's Nobel Prize was given to a group of people who finally proved, about 30 years ago, why the sun shines.

In the late 19th century, the most widely accepted theory was that the sun generates its energy by gravitational contraction. The sun's immense gravitational field, so the theory went, kept the interior of the sun under constant pressure. And, as one of the most basic laws of chemistry states, when you compress a gas, its temperature rises. Eventually, this gravitational pressure-cooker got the temperature hot enough (about 6,000 degrees) to produce visible light, and the sun turned on.

This seemed a simple, elegant way to produce energy, and this energy should have lasted the sun a long time – at least ten million years. Eventually, the gases would get as compressed as they were going to get, and the whole thing would begin to cool off.

The sun probably did heat up, originally, from gravity bringing the gases of an interstellar cloud together and pressing them into a large, glowing ball. But eventually, the very center of the sun became hot enough (many millions of degrees) to ignite nuclear fusion. This process fuses single protons into helium nuclei (which have two protons and two neutrons), producing a generous amount of heat and light in the process.


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

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,



A debate about the latest defense of intelligent design.

William A. Dembski and H. Allen Orr

Sheer versus Real Possibilities
William A. Dembski

Though Allen Orr raises many objections to No Free Lunch, they ultimately hinge on a question he addresses directly to me in his review: "What's gained by replacing a mysterious material order with an equally mysterious designer? . . . It would have been interesting to hear Dembski's [response]." Underlying Orr's question is David Hume's concern that design offers no advantage explaining the organization of a material system when that system can equally well be conceived as organizing itself.

In No Free Lunch I argue that material systems are not capable of organizing themselves into complex specified structures apart from intelligence. In particular, I argue that since biological systems exhibit specified complexity, intelligence is involved in their production (just when and how is a matter for further study). Hume's concern is therefore met with Aristotle's distinction between nature and design. Nature produces things by self-organization and generation; design (the Greek techne, usually translated "art") produces things by impressing form from without. Thus, to use one of Aristotle's examples, acorns have it within themselves to produce oak trees, but raw wood does not have it within itself to produce ships. As Aristotle put it, "The art of ship-building is not in the wood." Indeed, it requires design.

But how can we tell when a material system is capable of organizing itself and when it requires the addition of design? In biology, how can we tell whether the Darwinian selection mechanism is capable of reorganizing existing biological structures into vastly more complex ones? In No Free Lunch I lay out an information-theoretic apparatus for answering such questions. Orr, to be sure, thinks that this apparatus cannot bear the weight I put on it, especially in biology. It is instructive, however, to see why Orr thinks that. Ultimately, we part company over what it means to attribute a capacity for self-organization to material processes and specifically to the Darwinian mechanism.

To attribute to something an ability or capacity (or for that matter an inability or incapacity) is not nearly as straightforward as Orr seems to think. Indeed, this accounts for Orr's light dismissal of Michael Behe's work on irreducible complexity. Behe has argued that irreducibly complex biochemical machines, in which each is necessary for the system's function, could not be produced by gradual Darwinian means. To say that such systems "could not be produced" is to attribute an inability or incapacity to the Darwinian mechanism. Yet Orr is able to imagine scenarios in which parts are gradually folded into such systems—parts that, though not originally necessary, become necessary over time. Thus, according to Orr, the intelligent design community must admit that "Behe's chief claim was wrong. Irreducible complexity is accessible to Darwinism."

To say that irreducible complexity is accessible to Darwinism means, obviously, that Darwinism is able to access systems displaying that property. But what does it mean to attribute that ability or capacity to Darwinism? Does it simply mean that Darwinists are able to imagine how a Darwinian process might lead to such systems? Or does it mean that Darwinists have realistically assessed the Darwinian selection mechanism's ability as it actually operates in nature to produce irreducible complexity? Ability wears many faces, is characterized by different forms of possibility (derived from the Latin posse, meaning to be able). Orr, along with much of the Darwinian community, is satisfied with a very undemanding form of possibility, namely, conceivability. So long as he can conceive a Darwinian pathway to irreducible complexity, nature trumps design.

Behe, by contrast, requires a much more demanding form of possibility in assessing the ability of the Darwinian mechanism to produce irreducible complexity. For Behe, it's a probabilistic form in which highly improbable, functionally specified structures cannot happen by chance. This weds Behe's work on irreducible complexity to mine on specified complexity. Both Behe and I understand chance here very broadly, and thus include the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation. The logical force of our argument purports to be the same as "You can't walk into a Las Vegas casino and get a hundred double zeros in a row playing roulette." There's a sheer possibility that this could happen by chance, but not a real possibility.

Now chance in a casino is much more tractable than chance in nature. Hence I need to develop an information-theoretic apparatus for handling chance quite generally. I also need to develop bridge principles for mapping this apparatus onto biology. I do both in No Free Lunch. Orr is dissatisfied with my treatment, but the reason for that dissatisfaction has nothing to do with the coherence and validity of my apparatus or its applicability to biology. The reason, rather, is that for Orr, Darwinism has the alchemical property of transforming sheer possibilities into real possibilities. One can see this at several places in his review.

For instance, he remarks that Behe's "chief claim was that Darwinism just couldn't get here from there [i.e., achieve irreducible complexity]." According to Orr, that claim is "dead wrong." Why? Not because Orr provided detailed, testable, causally specific instances of the Darwinian mechanism producing irreducible complexity, but because he can imagine a Darwinian scenario that gives rise to irreducible complexity. Orr's criterion for possibility is conceivability. This enables him to sidestep the real limitations confronting the Darwinian mechanism and focus instead on the sheer possibilities that an unbridled imagination can create for the Darwinian mechanism. This is also why he doesn't like my demand for "causal specificity," which requires Darwinists to demonstrate that their selection mechanism actually has the causal power to produce irreducible complexity. Instead, Orr substitutes a much weaker demand for "historical narrative," which in the case of Darwinism degenerates into fictive reconstructions with little, if any, hold on reality.

The subtext of Orr's review, though unintended, is that Darwinism is not a solution to the problem of biological complexity but an exercise in delusion by which evolutionary biologists convince themselves that they've solved the problem when in fact we haven't.

Fantastically Flawed Proofs

H. Allen Orr

Though he begins his reply by noting that I raised "many specific objections to No Free Lunch," William Dembski somehow manages to avoid mentioning—much less rebutting—a single one of them. Instead, we are told that all of my objections hinge on one question: "What's gained by replacing a mysterious material order with an equally mysterious designer?"

There are two things wrong with this. The first is that it's simply false. In reality none of my objections to Dembski's book hinges on this question. Here is a sample of my actual objections to Dembski: Evolution by natural selection—unlike the algorithms considered by the No Free Lunch (NFL) theorems—is not trying to reach a prespecified target. This pulls the rug out from under Dembski's bizarre claim that the NFL theorems invalidate Darwinism. Natural selection does not inevitably lead to simpler structures, as Dembski claims. This is shown by his own two admitted cases of evolution by natural selection, antibiotic resistance and insecticide resistance. There is no reason, then, to conclude that Dar-winism cannot yield "interesting" biological products. Dembski's claim that smooth fitness functions are required to "drive large-scale biological evolution" is wrong. Even if fitness functions are rugged and organisms temporarily get stuck on local "fitness peaks," evolution will start again when the environment changes. Smart money says there have been a fair number of environmental changes over the last 3.5 billion years.

Dembski's assertion that the above objections (and there are more) boil down to "What is gained by replacing a mysterious material order with an equally mysterious designer?" is simply silly. Given his silence on my actual objections, I can only conclude that he has no answer to them. I am especially surprised that Dembski offers no defense of his attempt to use computing theory generally and the NFL theorems specifically to undermine Darwinism—a claim that represents, after all, the centerpiece of his book. Dembski's silence here is so deafening that surely even his allies must be surprised. Whether you liked his book or not, you have to admit that he utterly fails to engage what is, to my knowledge, its most detailed published critique.

The second thing that's odd about Dembski's claim that my objections boil down to the above question is that he doesn't even adequately address that one. The question of what's gained by replacing a mysterious material order with an equally mysterious designer was, as I noted, first raised by Hume in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Though Dembski spills a good deal of ink over Hume's query in his reply, he never quite gets around to answering it. As a result, I still can't fathom what Dembski thinks he accomplishes when he attributes the intricate order manifest in the universe to an equally ordered and equally mysterious designer. What does an "explanation" achieve when it merely moves a question mark?

But enough. What of the bulk of Dembski's response? Most of his reply is taken up with a defense of Michael Behe, not William Dembski. Dembski is especially eager to defend Behe's ideas on irreducible complexity. Behe claims that 1) certain biological structures, e.g., the flagellum, are irreducibly complex (IC)—all parts of such a system are required for function; and 2) IC systems cannot evolve in the step-by-step manner demanded by Darwinism. I and others have argued that this is nonsense. Darwinism can produce IC systems, and we described several paths showing how. The path I emphasized was one in which parts get added because they are initially just advantageous (not necessary) but later become necessary because subsequent evolution builds upon them. This process can easily produce a system in which all parts are necessary for function—a system, that is, that's irreducibly complex. Given that IC systems pose no logical problem to Darwinism, I argued that the Intelligent Design community must come clean: it's high time for it to confess that the irreducible complexity challenge to Darwinism is dead.

Dembski's response is to point out that I have merely shown that IC systems can conceivably be built by Darwinism (a point he does not deny), not that such systems were built by Darwinism or even that they were probably built by Darwinism. I am accused, in other words, of having low standards: "Orr, along with much of the Darwinian community, is satisfied with a very undemanding form of possibility, namely, conceivability." The problem with this is simple. It was Behe who posed the problem in terms of conceivability versus inconceivability. Behe said that Darwinism could not possibly produce IC systems. Behe spoke of "unbridgeable chasms." Behe asked, "What type of biological system could not be formed by 'numerous, successive, slight modifications'?" and then answered, "A system that is irreducibly complex." The discussion has, in other words, taken the following form: BEHE: Darwinism can't possibly produce IC systems. ORR: Darwinism can produce IC systems. Here's how . . . DEMBSKI: Orr has merely shown that a Darwinian explanation is possible. What a risibly low standard!

I assume the reader will understand if I seem less than eager to continue such a conversation ad infinitum. So let me close with two quick points. The first is this: Neither irreducible complexity nor the NFL theorems pose any formal problem to Darwinism. Dembski's reply essentially admits as much, and we're unlikely to get a plainer admission of the fact. The second point seems so obvious that I hesitate to bring it up. But it is, I think, important. Dembski, Behe and associates may in the end prove a thorn in the side of not only biologists but also the devout. By promising devastating objections to evolution but delivering half-baked technobabble that disintegrates upon close inspection, they subject certain religious persons to unnecessary and traumatic cycles of expectation and dashed hope. The point is that all skirmishes involve risk of friendly fire and the faithful will, sooner or later, have to ask who poses the greater actual danger: those who merely suggest that life evolves or those who routinely announce "proofs" of the handiwork of an interventionist Designer—proofs that have, so far, been fantastically flawed, noisily imploding almost immediately after their much publicized debuts.

Originally published in the October/November 2002 issue of Boston Review

Scientists Who Believe: An Interview with Dr. John Baumgardner


Author: John Baumgardner
Subject: Creation/evolution Overviews
Date: 2/22/98

The Lookout
8121 Hamilton Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45231
February 8, 1998

Last year, U.S. News & World Report (June 16, 1997) devoted a respectful four-page article to the work of Dr John Baumgardner, calling him "the world's pre-eminent expert in the design of computer models for geophysical convection." Dr. Baumgardner earned degrees from Texas Tech University (B.S., electrical engineering), and Princeton University (M.S., electrical engineering), and earned a Ph.D. in geophysics and space physics from UCLA. Since 1984 he has been employed as a technical staff member at Los Alamos (New Mexico) National Laboratory.

U.S. News and World Report Article

The views expressed in the following interview do not necessarily represent the views of Los Alamos National Laboratory or the United States government.

Why did you choose a career in science?

Dr. Baumgardner: As far back as I can recall I seemed to have had an aptitude in scientific things. When I was about six years old, before I started school, friends of my parents and relatives would bring broken appliances for me to work on and fix. I had my own little workbench in my dad's shop where I would work on those electrical appliances. My sense is that I was gifted from birth with a natural ability. Science was an area of strength in school, so it wasn't unnatural for me to select a science major in college.

What are your goals as a scientist?

Dr. Baumgardner: I would say my primary goal in my scientific career is a defense of God's Word, plain and simple. In our day it's like the Philistines in the days of Saul and David. When David came to the battle to bring some supplies to his brothers, he heard Goliath taunting the armies of Israel. And David said, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26). I believe the church is like the Israelite army, cowering in the face of Goliath, when there ought to be people stepping forth to slay Goliath. God's Word is being mocked and ridiculed today throughout the academic world, and I say it's time for Christians to stand up and take on these challenges.

Soon after I became a Christian, when I was 26 years old, I started to see what was going on. I guess God put it in my heart to try to do something about this situation.

John, how are you incorporating the Word of God into your daily work as a geophysicist?

Dr. Baumgardner: I'm trying to understand what happened to the Earth in Noah's flood and put together a solid scientific case that supports the biblical account of a world- destroying catastrophic flood.

Back in 1978 I felt strongly led to go back to graduate school and get professional credentials to work on the problem of what happened to the Earth in the flood. As part of my Ph.D. research, I developed a three-dimensional model for the Earth's interior called Terra. Today it is recognized as the most capable code computer model of its type in the world. Currently NASA is funding this effort as one of their nine grand challenge projects in high performance computing for the next three years, It's recognized as a unique tool for understanding the dynamics of the mantle of the Earth.

What is NASA's interest in this project? Your goal sounds like it's different from theirs.

Dr. Baumgardner: Well, they see it as an important means for solving as yet unanswered questions about the Earth. They have a number of satellite observation programs for monitoring the Earth and measuring tectonic motions of the Earth's surface. They see my computer model as complementing some of these observational programs. They see it as cutting- edge science. And the model can be applied to the other terrestrial planets of the solar system - Venus, Mars, and Mercury in particular.

How do your Christian beliefs and values affect your work? How should a Christian view science?

Dr. Baumgardner: I believe science as we know it is a product of the Christian worldview. It was only in the Christian world that science developed and I believe could have developed. For example, in the Buddhist or Hindu worldview this physical realm is more or less regarded as an illusion and not representing ultimate reality. Of course, Christians don't regard this world as eternal, but nevertheless it's real. Science has flowed from a Christian understanding of reality, a Christian understanding of God, and a Christian understanding of the natural world. In general I believe that science is legitimate, that it does reveal the glory of God, that it does confirm what the Scriptures say is valid and true.

John, how has your work in geophysics confirmed your faith?

Dr. Baumgardner: I believe that there is strong evidence in favor of the proposition that the Earth has suffered a major cataclysm in the past that is responsible for most of the fossil-bearing portions of the sedimentary record.

The great flood of Noah's day?

Dr. Baumgardner: Yes. There's an abrupt beginning to the portion of the geological record that contains fossils. There's a worldwide discontinuity in the record, above which we find fossils, below which we do not. Above that boundary there is abundant evidence that the sedimentary layers were deposited rapidly by processes that were global in lateral extent-a regime dramatically different from anything we can observe on the Earth today The majority of the sedimentary record since that point is the product of global catastrophism.

My work in particular has focused on what conceivable mechanism could result in such an event. I believe I have identified it or at least a likely candidate for a mechanism.

And what is that?

Dr. Baumgardner: The name that other people have applied to this process is thermal runaway. Tectonic plates of the Earth's surface can slide down into the hot mantle that comprises about the outer 2,000 miles of the Earth. What I'm finding is that this runaway process involving the tectonic plates can indeed occur and cause a massive catastrophe at the Earth's surface.

One exciting discovery from the Magellan mission to Venus in the early 1990s was that Venus had been entirely resurfaced in the relatively recent past. The high resolution images showed the surface of Venus had been catastrophically flooded with lava, presumably as a result of some process interior to the planet. All the ancient craters had been obliterated by this lava. The images show hardly any change of a geological nature has occurred on Venus since this catastrophe.

So within our own solar system we now have at least one indisputable example of global tectonic catastrophe. This was exciting to me because for years I had been investigating a similar possibility for the Earth. I firmly believe the idea of a global tectonic catastrophe on the Earth is not a far-fetched idea, but close to being established scientific fact.

And, of course, this supports what the Scripture has said all along about the past history of the Earth.

How have your colleagues responded when they discover you believe in God and the Bible?

Dr. Baumgardner: On the whole my colleagues respect my Christian faith. Many don't agree, necessarily, but they generally convey respect. Others are mostly quiet and choose not to engage me. It's rare that one of my colleagues will directly challenge me on my beliefs or my scientific conclusions.

Have you found that your work as a credible scientist actually gives you open doors to share the gospel with others?

Dr. Baumgardner: Yes, it gives me a number of opportunities to share with people. In several cases people have come to faith in Christ as a result of these interactions. I'm working with a scientist from mainland China right now. I've been studying the Bible on a weekly basis with him and he's very close, I believe, to receiving Christ.

Actually, I don't see any great difference between scientists and other people. They have families, all kinds of personal needs, and trials in their lives. There's a group of scientists here at Los Alamos, mostly Christians, who meet every Friday. We call it Megaviews Forum. We study books that are relevant to some world-view topic. Currently we're going through a book that reveals spectacular and sweeping correlations between Egyptian history and the biblical record.

How do you deal with the creation/evolution controversy?

Dr. Baumgardner: If ever there was in the history of mankind clear evidence for creation, evidence for a Super- Intelligence behind what we see today, it's the genetic code. Incredibly complex information structures, coded in DNA, form the genetic blueprints for every living organism. Evolutionists have absolutely no clue as to how such structures could arise by natural processes, much less how the code itself could come into existence.

Actually, evolutionists do not have a viable mechanism for macroevolution at any stage, whether we're talking about the origin of a first living cell or the origin of new structures in existing organisms. Natural selection and mutation alone are pitifully inadequate to account for what we see, especially with our current understanding of molecular biology.

And in the area of Earth science, uniformitarianism-the idea that the present is the key to the past, that the present can explain the past-is essentially obsolete. It won't be long, in my opinion, before that idea completely collapses.

Because there's so much evidence for catastrophism?

Dr. Baumgardner: That's right. The evidence for catastrophism supports an entirely different understanding of the fossil record-that it's a product of a single catastrophe rather than hundreds of millions of vears of gradual change.

Would you encourage Christian young people to pursue careers in your field? What advice would you give them?

Dr. Baumgardner: I'm sympathetic to Christians who recognize that much of the information portrayed as science in the media and in public schools is hostile to Christian belief. For Christians who are not scientifically trained, it's legitimate that they are alarmed and concerned.

On the other hand, I believe that true science is consistent with Scripture and is not to be feared or shunned. My advice would be for Christians who have this kind of concern to get in contact with some of the organizations that are attempting to deal with these issues from a Christian perspective.

Would I encourage Christian young people to pursue careers in science? I believe they should first of all seek God's direction. There's a great opportunity for Christians trained at a professional level to make a significant impact for the truth in a wide spectrum of scientific fields. If Christian young people have obvious scientific abilities and sense the leading of God, I would encourage them to pursue such a career, but they need to understand that science is a realm where intense spiritual warfare occurs. To pursue a career in science today as a Christian, one must be keenly aware that a real battle for the mincls and hearts of people is raging right now in almost every discipline of science.

But God is very much involved with his people today. He's raising up scientists all over the world, and I believe he's going to raise up in the next few years a mighty witness to the accuracy of his Word. I sense that I'm a part of that, and I'm especially excited about what's going to happen in the decade ahead.

Bigfoot's indelible imprint


By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY

IN THE SISKIYOU MOUNTAINS, Ore. — 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.


Crack! goes the twig. "Deer, right?" asks a visitor, who is about to tick away the nerve-wracking night one snap, crackle and pop at a time until dawn breaks with a harrowing howl.

"Nah," replies local Matthew Johnson, sliding a hand onto his .44 Magnum. "That wasn't a twig; it was a thick branch. Whatever's out there is bigger. Much bigger."

Bigger as in Yeti and Sasquatch.

Bigger as in Bigfoot.

That's right, the hairy, smelly lunk is still with us. Pick any name you want — Asian, Native American or tabloid — he hasn't changed from the 10-foot-tall, half-ton, mannish ape whose star turn in a 1967 home movie launched thousands of sightings.

Make no mistake. Bigfoot and his kin remain part of a freaky family of Charlie's Angels-era fads (think poltergeists and UFOs), and the scientific community at large remains amused. But the faithful hope Bigfoot may yet make a monkey out of non-believers. For decades now, a small but loyal legion of Bigfoot hunters has spent countless weekends prowling forests in nearly every state, piling up evidence such as alleged footprints and hair samples that now has a handful of animal experts willing to at least entertain the possibility of his existence.

"I've gone from being a raving skeptic to being curiously receptive," says Robert Benson, director of the Center for Bioacoustics at Texas A&M. He appears in a new documentary, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, critiquing taped Bigfoot calls. While many of those recordings "could be human" (i.e. hoaxes), others left him puzzled.

In Sasquatch, which airs in January on Discovery, a small cadre of scientists pore over audio, video and the Holy Grail of molds called the Skookum Cast, a plaster impression taken in 2000 from a muddy Mount St. Helens meadow that purports to capture a Bigfoot sitting on his oversized derriére.

Sasquatch producer Doug Hajicek is mum on the film's "important revelations" but is confident viewers will tune in. "I'll tell you why this fascinates people," he says "We're the only bipeds (animals who walk on two feet) here. Imagine the primordial fear a competing biped species produces."

Spare me, says Russ Tuttle, professor of evolutionary morphology at the University of Chicago.

"I could be interested, but first get me a skeleton or maybe a Bigfoot trapped in my basement," Tuttle says, echoing the prime criticism of Bigfoot skeptics — habeas corpus, produce the body. "It's interesting that something allegedly that large has never been found."

The same issue concerns the Wildlife Conservation Society's Alan Rabinowitz, an Indiana Jones figure in the world of animal anthropology. "It is very rare, once you've been told about an animal and its habits, to then never find anything tangible," he says.

But the mere possibility of an elusive ape-like creature has an almost primal allure, as evidenced in the hundreds of reports filed each year with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. That he's been spotted in almost every corner of the USA makes Bigfoot rival Elvis in terms of sightings, but that doesn't bother the committed.

"He's out there," says Johnson, a clinical psychologist in Grants Pass, a town about an hour northeast of his Bigfoot stomping grounds.

Johnson had no interest in finding the beast until the beast found him. He spied his personal Moby Dick while on a family hike two summers ago and was reduced to tears by its size — impressive considering that Johnson is 6-foot-9, weighs 250 pounds and wears size 16 shoes. Now he's leader of the Southern Oregon Bigfoot Society, a ragtag but dedicated assemblage of sleuths who typify the breed.

"Once you hear him scream at you, you're hooked," he says. "Some people play sports or fish. Others, well, we go Bigfootin'."

Just call him 'sesqec'

Bigfoot's legend dates back to the earliest campfire gatherings.

Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest had stories about encounters with sesqec, from which the term Sasquatch emerged, and the pioneers had their own run-ins with the woolly misfit.

But what really launched Bigfoot into a Loch Ness Monster orbit was the amateur film shot in northern California by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. The upright beast with gorilla looks and human gait loped past their lens; for maximum spook, the creature — dubbed Patty — glared at the camera. The hunt was on.

As age has crept up on the folks who made Bigfoot the stuff of pop legend more than 30 years ago, their passion has been passed on to next-generation faithful like Jeff Meldrum, associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.

Once a skeptic, Meldrum was in Washington state in 1996 when he saw dozens of footprints and "felt the hair stand up on my neck." Today, he oversees an extensive collection of footprint casts amassed by the late Grover Krantz, anthropology professor at Washington State University and author of Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. Meldrum's analysis of the trove: The feet are variations on a human theme.

"I hope we're at a turning point," says Meldrum, who notes that his university presentations on Bigfoot no longer receive sideshow status. "Now I see a different reaction. Maybe it's tougher to say all these sightings are hoaxes than to consider that something is out there."

Or, as believers argue, could so many be so loony?

"Think about it: If illusion alone could generate such devotion, you'd have a Unicorn Society and a Leprechaun Society. But you don't," says Matthew Moneymaker, founder in 1995 of the Orange County, Calif.-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which boasts 100 "researchers" and whose Webby Award-winning site gets 300,000 hits a week.

"Bring in top scientists and we'll solve it," Moneymaker insists. "It's tough. Go try and find it. The creatures are rare, the forests are thick, and the night is dark."

Town hints at mystery

Grants Pass is a bucolic town ringed by wooded hills. It's perfect, in a Stephen King way.

There are hints that something otherworldly may dwell in the hills: The town is near the valley of a river called the Rogue, and a club-wielding brute, the Caveman, is the high school's mascot.

Matt Johnson, 40, loves it here. A longtime resident of Alaska — where he was a standout basketball player — he and wife Rochelle, 43, and their kids Levi, 11, Hannah, 9, and Micah, 7, moved to get away from endless winters.

During one of their first hikes, out near the Oregon Caves, the family noticed a smell that made a skunk's offering seem tame.

When Johnson stepped away to relieve himself, he caught sight of a gigantic hairy creature across a clearing. It was staring at his family.

"I froze, but finally my instincts kicked in. I raced over to my wife and kids, and without looking back, we got out of there," he says.

Only Johnson saw the creature. He debated reporting the incident, then opened up to park officials. His family now passes on day hikes.

"I used to feel safe, because, you know, Dad was normally the biggest thing in the forest," says Levi. "Now, I'm not sure."

Johnson is determined to find out what lurks in these forests. He's already dedicated dozens of weekends and "thousands of dollars in bait and other equipment," and laughs when people suggest he's in this for the publicity.

"Oh, sure," he sighs. "Come see the therapist who saw Bigfoot. That's great for business."

At nightfall at least once each month, he hops in his Bigfoot hunting vehicle — a 1995 baby blue Cadillac Sedan DeVille — and escorts the dedicated and the curious into the Siskiyou Mountains.

This night, as with every trip, he brings bags of bananas, watermelon and pastries as lures, a tent and sleeping bag, and his .44 — to protect against bear or cougar, not Bigfoot. ("We don't want it harmed," he says emphatically.)

At the campsite, he checks on a deer camera nailed to a tree on a previous outing, which is set to shoot if anything passes by. So far, the camera's shutter hasn't fired.

As the moon rises, he knocks on rocks (no response), blasts classical music (no fans) and checks the bait piles (no takers).

Johnson is an unfailingly polite and openly religious man. And yet he decides to spin tales just before turning in about another Bigfoot hunter who let his dog race off to the woods, only to find him dismembered in the morning. As bedtime stories go, it's a downer.

The twig-snapping night is interminable; sunrise is a gift.

And just as the coffee is brewing, it happens. From up a winding fire road come sounds: the high-pitched chatter of a chimp, suddenly intercut by the low groan of a scream in slow motion.

Ears prick up. Breathing becomes optional. For 15 seconds, this unearthly racket floods the camp. Then it vanishes. Other than humans, most animals known to man are incapable of such broad sound ranges. Bigfoot or not, something odd has spoken.

"Hmm, not a bear, not a cougar," says Johnson. "You ever hear anything like that before?"

Johnson's visitor, suddenly busy taking down the tent, offers to discuss his myriad theories in town.

The tall man in search of an even taller thing smiles and pops open the Caddy's trunk.

"You have to admit," he says. "This sure beats golfing."

"Brother of Jesus" bone-box plot thickens


By Ellis Shuman

November 5, 2002

An ancient burial box believed to have belonged to James, the Biblical brother of Jesus, was damaged while being sent for display at a Toronto museum. The museum is awaiting word from the ossuary's owner before attempting to repair the box, but the owner is being questioned by police as the burial box may actually belong to the State of Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli scholars insist that the inscription on the box is a fraud.

Staff at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto discovered numerous cracks Friday in the 2,000-year-old limestone burial box. The cracks appear under an Aramaic inscription which states: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Herschel Shanks, the Jewish publisher of the respected Biblical Archaeology Review, announced the discovery of the box last month as the "first archaeological attestation of Jesus."

"We sent out a conservation proposal to the owner on the weekend and he's decided he wants to wait," Royal Ontario Museum spokesman Francisco Alvarez told The Globe and Mail. The museum sent the owner images of the damage caused in transit, and said that repairs would have to be done in Toronto.

The museum plans to exhibit the box between November 16 and December 29.

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 6, 2002

from The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's aging spacecraft Galileo made a final flyby of Jupiter's moon Amalthea and was in standby mode, marking the end of the science-gathering portion of its 13-year mission.

"It gathered data past the point of passing Amalthea," said Guy Webster, a spokesman at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. No other details of the flyby were available Tuesday.

The intense radiation near Jupiter had been expected to cause glitches that would force Galileo into "safe mode" -- meaning the spacecraft could not transmit any information. In safe mode, spacecraft close down nonessential activities for their own protection until orders are received from mission controllers.


from The Baltimore Sun

SILVER SPRING -- Once each week, Wesley McCardell steps into a humid, brightly lighted room at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and bares his legs to be bitten by dozens of mosquitoes -- the same type that transmits diseases and kills millions of people worldwide.

There is no danger that McCardell or the other volunteers will be infected with malaria, which kills 3 million people each year. Walter Reed's swarms are raised in laboratories and are disease-free.

But bites from these anopheles stephensi can still cause itchy skin.

"You can feel it biting, but it's not really that bad," said McCardell, a technician for the U.S. Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville.


from Scripps Howard News Service

Older men with higher levels of free-floating testosterone in their blood do better on tests of verbal and visual memory and other mental performance than men with lower levels, researchers have found.

While more study is needed to confirm the effect, "this finding suggests that there may be hormonal modulation of cognitive abilities as people get older," said Susan Resnick, an investigator at the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Personality and Cognition.

"Clearly, having higher levels of circulating free testosterone is associated with a reduced risk of certain types of memory loss."

The study focused on a form of the male sex hormone that is not bound to a protein, which is relatively scarce in the bloodstream, but is able to circulate into the brain and affect nerve cells.


Study shows reduced risk to prostate may be associated with garlic, onions
from The Associated Press

Washington - A diet rich in garlic, shallots and onions may cut the risk of prostate cancer in half, according to a study.

The study, appearing this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is based on interviews with 238 men with prostate cancer and 471 men who were free of the disease.

Men in the study, all residents of Shanghai, China, were asked how frequently they ate 122 food items.

The results showed that those who ate more than a third of an ounce a day from the allium food group were about 50 percent less likely to have prostate cancer than those who ate less of the foods. The allium food group includes garlic, scallions, chives, leeks and onions.


from UPI

ORLANDO, Fla. - Clues developed by studying the genetic makeup of fruit flies, genetically-engineered mice and rats could lead to medical treatments for alcohol and drug addictions, researchers reported Monday.

At the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, doctors said they have found a gene in mice - also found in humans - that when blocked makes addiction almost impossible and also eases drug withdrawal symptoms.

"When we fed these mice morphine, they couldn't have cared less if they ever had it again," said Anthony Basile, a researcher at Alkermes, a drug development company in Cambridge, Mass.

The mice were created through genetic-engineering technology to have a missing brain gene, a protein called the muscarinic-5, or M5, receptor, which was discovered about 10 years ago.


from The New York Times


Everybody said it that way.

As if the Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were a single person, and their work, which challenged long-held views of how people formed judgments and made choices, was the product of a single mind.

Last month, Dr. Kahneman, a professor at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economics science, sharing the prize with Vernon L. Smith of George Mason University. But Dr. Kahneman said the Nobel, which the committee does not award posthumously, belongs equally to Dr. Tversky, who died of cancer in 1996 at 59.

"I feel it is a joint prize," Dr. Kahneman, 68, said. "We were twinned for more than a decade."


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

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Existence of God Debate

From: Susan E English ENGLISH@uta.edu

Society members: I have just sent you information in a packet as to the Debate we are having on Nov. 11, 2002 at The University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. R. Douglas Geivett will be debating this contraversial issue at 7:30 pm in the Bluebonnet Ballroom, located in the University Center, 301 W 1st in Arlington. The event is sponsored by EX.C.E.L. Campus Activities and the Liberal Arts Constituency Council. Parking is available around the building and tickets will be sold at the door and are on sale now in the Department of Student Activities or the Mav Express Office, both located in this building. Please call us at 817-272-2963 for more information. We hope you all can come to this event. Susan English Associate Director Student Activities

Tickets will be $7 at the door.


Keyhoe book in public domain

From: Terry W. Colvin fortean1@mindspring.com

The Flying Saucers Are Real
by Donald E Keyhoe


One of the earliest books on the UFO phenomena, published in 1950, The Flying Saucers Are Real could be considered the birth of modern fascination with flying saucers. Government disinformation, paranoia, out of this world sightings; this book has it all. Luckily the text wound up in the public domain, where it has been republished by Project Gutenberg. If you want UFO mythology, untainted by years of glamorization by Hollywood and popular media, read this book.

Transcript: American Museum of Natural History


April 23, 2002

(Part One: Introductions by Richard Milner and Dr. Eugenie C. Scott)

Richard Milner:

Welcome to what promises to be an interesting evening - our forum on the Intelligent Design or ID controversy. This program has been organized jointly by Nat Johnson of the education department of the museum and by Natural History magazine, which has published a printed version in our April issue. I wish to acknowledge my fellow senior editor, Vittorio Maestro, and our editor-in-chief, Ellen Goldensohn, for their considerable efforts in producing this special ID section in Natural History magazine. For those who have not seen it, I believe that we have some copies here tonight available without charge, courtesy of the magazine. Ms. Goldensohn deserves special thanks for giving us the green light to go ahead with this venture, which was a courageous editorial decision and a controversial one. Rarely at Natural History magazine have we received so many impassioned letters and comments on a single feature. The sole exception, I believe, was when the astrophysicist Neil Tyson wrote a column decrying mathematical illiteracy and inadvertently made a minor math mistake, [laughter] which an inordinate number of our readers took great delight in pointing out.

Part 01: Introductions by Richard Milner and Dr. Eugenie C. Scott
Part 02: Dr. William Dembski
Part 03: Dr. William Dembski, Dr. Robert Pennock Q&A
Part 04: Dr. William Dembski, Dr. Kenneth Miller Q&A
Part 05: Dr. William Dembski, Audience Q&A
Part 06: Dr. Michael Behe
Part 07: Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Kenneth Miller Q&A
Part 08: Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Robert Pennock Q&A
Part 09: Dr. Michael Behe, Audience Q&A
Part 10: Concluding Remarks

UFO Search in Roswell Turns Up Surprise


Albuquerque Journal | Tuesday, November 5, 2002 | John Fleck

A University of New Mexico-led team of archaeologists, working under "top secret conditions," excavated the alleged Roswell UFO crash site in September and found — "something."

"We found something there that totally surprised us and made me say, 'Gee whiz,' '' said Bill Doleman, the UNM archaeologist who led the dig.

Was it a fragment of the alien spacecraft alleged to have crashed near Corona 55 years ago? Perhaps the bones of a little green man?

To find out, mark your calendars for the evening of Nov. 22.

Doleman is bound to secrecy by a contract between UNM and the television network that funded the dig. The contract even bars him from telling "non-terrestrial entities" what he found.

Apparently, if aliens kidnap him and subject him to unspeakable torture, he said with a laugh, the contract prevents him from revealing what he learned.

All will be revealed Nov. 22 when cable's SCI FI Channel airs "The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence." The Roswell Incident has become a holy grail for UFO believers. They say an alien craft crashed near the southeastern New Mexico town in the summer of 1947, and the government is covering it up.

Skeptics say the tale is mythology, rooted in the crash of a top-secret research balloon and embellished by over-enthusiastic UFO researchers.

Doleman, an amateur astronomer, said he has long believed there is life on other planets.

"I'm thoroughly convinced there's life out there, and that some of it is way more intelligent than we are," he said.

Doleman said before he started the project, he knew of no physical evidence that any of those aliens had visited Earth.

Doleman will not say whether he still believes that today, now that his Roswell excavation is completed. But he does believe what he and his colleagues attempted could be an important contribution to UFO research.

Past Roswell research is based on "hearsay and anecdotal evidence," Doleman said.

"This project is the first to my knowledge to cross over from using hearsay and anecdotal evidence ... and to search for actual evidence," Doleman said during an online chat on the SCI FI Channel's Web site.

How the work will be received in the UFO community, where passions pro and con run strong, remains to be seen.

In trying to approach the project as a serious scientist, Doleman runs a risk that his work could be tainted by the commercial motivations of the network, said Karl Pflock, an author from Placitas who has written extensively about the Roswell Incident.

"It is troubling that they've allowed themselves to be co-opted by what is, in essence, a commercial entertainment enterprise," said Pflock, a Roswell skeptic. "They're playing into something that is good old-fashioned circus ballyhoo."

Doleman said the contract signed with the network requires him to keep silent about what the archaeologists found until the network gives written permission to speak.

"I have to keep my mouth shut until they say I can open it," he said.

The university's Office of Contract Archaeology, for which Doleman works, specializes in archaeology for hire, generally working for developers and government agencies involved in construction projects.

The office was originally approached by UFO researchers in 1999 about conducting a Roswell dig. The researchers returned this spring with the financial backing of the cable network, signing a $25,000 contract with the university to fund the work, Doleman said.

One theory backed by Roswell believers is that the alien craft first hit Earth on ranch land near Corona, breaking up and scattering debris before coming to rest at a second site

Contacting the North Texas Skeptics
The North Texas Skeptics
P. O. Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
214-335-9248 Skeptics Hotline (current information)

Current News  News Back Issues

What's New | Search | Newsletter | Fact Sheets
NTS Home Page
Copyright (C) 1987 - 2008 by the North Texas Skeptics.