Recent Entries in Skeptic

  Book, Chapter and Verse

In the beginning, the Big Bang created the heavens and the earth. The Big Bang, not God. Also, camels and lions were never immortal, and neither were humans, who actually used to be monkeys. Oh, and get this: The Earth is billions of years old, not six thousand, like the Bible tells us.

...

Thorne's not a scientist: He's a tour guide with Denver-based B.C. Tours. The B.C. stands for "Biblically Correct," and B.C. Tours conducts between 100 and 150 biblically correct tours of major Colorado attractions every year.

http://www.westword.com/issues/2002-10-17/feature.html/1/index.html

  Selling the Free Lunch

In recent decades crackpot inventors have focused on a variant of perpetual-motion machines known as free-energy devices or over-unity generators. These contraptions supposedly output more power than they take in, generally by drawing on an implausible font of energy hitherto unknown to science. The motionless electromagnetic generator discussed last month is a good example. At first it appears to be based on misconceptions about magnets, but it turns out the inventors have published a physics paper describing a "higher symmetry electrodynamics" that would allow infinite energy to be extracted from the vacuum by their device.


http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?colID=7&articleID=0000A167-1A25-1D9A-815A809EC5880000

This is just the best, all the bible fodder you need to arm yourself, with the evil parts pre-highlighted for you. X-Tians beware! We're armed and know how to strike back with our belts.

Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Psychic Detectives are the vanguard of a second wave of predators that also includes tabloid journalists, cheesy defense lawyers and photo-op politicians. They use tabloid newspapers and talk shows to boast about their accomplishments and predict success. They materialize whenever children are kidnapped and circle the cases like vultures on a fresh carcass.


http://www.klaaskids.org/pg-mc-hazards.htm

  Shit happens

A reader recently e-mailed me to say she believes in God because, when she was 14, she prayed one night that she would get her period and, the very next day, she did. When I suggested to her that her "divine proof" might be a mere coincidence, she balked. She refused to believe that these two events . the prayer and its answer . could be unrelated. Never mind the fact that she was 14 and . barring any medical dysfunction . was pretty much guaranteed by biology to start menstruating at any time. In her mind, there's a strict cause-and-effect here: She had asked God for something, and God had answered.


http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=3664

A MYSTERIOUS passage in the Great Pyramid at Giza will be explored by a robot next month in an attempt to unravel one of the final secrets of the last remaining wonder of the Ancient World.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-395665,00.html

  Gotcha!

She strolls onto the stage as if into her own living room, casually elegant in a twinkling, black tunic top and matching trousers. "I love you, Sylvia!" cries an exuberant young woman, her enthusiasm rising above the applause of 2,400 paying audience members. Sylvia Browne.psychic, medium, prolific author.accepts the affirmation gracefully and takes the podium. "I want to talk to you about angels, about spirit guides, and about how to become more psychic." Shudder. This is precisely the conversation I've spent most of my life avoiding. But I was trapped in a sea of believers, and having paid $78.50 of U.S. News's money for my seat in the Atlantic City Convention Center auditorium, I didn't dare attempt an escape.


http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/020826/misc/26gotcha.htm

  DangerousIdeas.net

What's the harm?


This is probably the most frequent question asked of skeptics, and it's an excellent question. The simple answer is, No, you won't die from reading your daily horoscope, unless you do it while standing under a large falling rock. BUT, superstitious beliefs and paranormal thinking easily leads to poor decision making, needlessly living in imaginary fears, and mass hysteria when these beliefs are held by groups.


This site will highlight the costs, in lives, families, and nations affected by this type of thinking, not only in the past, but the present as well, with commentary added.


Be warned, you may find some of the stories shocking, disturbing, or horrifying. That is the point. This affects all of us, whether we subscribe to these beliefs or not, we could still be victim to them.


http://fox.phpwebhosting.com/~dideas/

Two ancient skulls, one from central Africa and the other from the Black Sea republic of Georgia, have shaken the human family tree to its roots, sending scientists scrambling to see if their favorite theories are among the fallen fruit.


http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/06/science/06SKUL.html

A colorful University of Hartford archaeologist ignited an international debate Thursday when he claimed he had discovered a 2,000-year-old skeleton in Israel, possibly that of John the Baptist.


http://www.ctnow.com/news/local/hc-skeleton0802.artaug02.story

  Cereal spin doctors

On April Fool's Day four years ago, Joe Nickell issued his skeptics' Top 10 list of the world's hardiest paranormal hoaxes. His prime examples included the Amityville Horror, King Tut's Curse, psychic surgery and the Roswell saucer crash.


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2002/08/01/MN42887.DTL

Cache County farmer Seth Alder is no Mel Gibson. But the 87-year-old retired wheat farmer and one of Hollywood's hottest leading men share something in common.


Alder says a real crop formation appeared in his barley field six years ago.


http://www.sltrib.com/08012002/thursday/758144.htm

(found this on Slashdot) They are big, black, and triangular. In UFO folklore they are proof-positive that planet Earth is a rest stop for joyriding, but road-weary, extraterrestrials.


http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/black_triangle_020805.html

When he stepped out of his truck, the first thing Ed Corrigan noticed was the aroma coming off the Naperville soybean field he came to inspect for bugs and weeds.


http://www.dailyherald.com/main_story.asp?intid=37463117

  Harvesting a hoax

Here's all you need to make a crop circle: a plank, a knotted rope, the light of the moon and perhaps a pint or two to get you in the mood.


http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/story/6180p-5770c.html

Caution Naperville residents: a soybean destroying alien may be on the loose.


http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/a27cropcirc.htm

  Noah's Ark - Found!!!

A Puyallup Biblical researcher believes he has discovered the exact location of Noah's Ark on Turkey's Mount Ararat. Edward Crawford, an archaeological field technician with a background in biblical languages, is leading a local research team that will travel to the mountain as soon as the Turkish government grants the necessary permits.


http://www.tribnet.com/news/local/story/1377023p-1495710c.html

E-mail: press@csicop.org



Hollywood Aims to Reap Summer Box Office Harvest from Field of Hoaxes-and Skeptics Say Pseudoscience Is the Fertilizer.


Amherst, NY (July 17, 2002)-"Signs," starring Mel Gibson, is Hollywood's latest attempt to cash in on the allure of the paranormal. The film, distributed by Disney's Touchstone Pictures, is scheduled to open in American theaters on August 2nd and is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who brought audiences the haunting spiritualistic thriller "The Sixth Sense" (1999). "Signs" tells the story of Pennsylvania pastor Graham Hess (Gibson), who turns to farming as a way to escape theological doubts after the tragic death of his wife in a car accident. Hess is thrown into the media spotlight when 500-foot crop circles begin appearing in his fields. That's right: crop circles.


These strange geometric patterns of matted-down grain stalks began garnering media attention in the late 1970s when they cropped up in English wheat fields. They evolved into a world-famous phenomenon in the 1980s and 90s, sparking plenty of controversy-and pseudoscience-regarding their origins. Credulous crop circles researchers-known as "cereologists" or "croppies"-believe that either extraterrestrials or "plasma vortices" are responsible for the phenomenon. Cereologists have argued that hoaxers could not be responsible for crop circles, because the grain stalks are bent and not broken, and there were no traces of footprints leading to scenes. Skeptics, including Joe Nickell, who is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), have replied that from mid-May to August, wheat is naturally green and pliable-so it is no mystery that the stalks pressed down to make crop circles are not broken. Furthermore, the tramlines left by tractors divide wheat fields into closely spaced parallel rows. Hoaxers can easily walk the tramlines without leaving tracks or disturbed grain in their wake.


In the early 1990s, Joe Nickell teamed up with forensic analyst John F. Fischer to research the entire crop circle phenomenon over previous decades. They found all of the hallmarks of hoaxers at work. "The escalation in appearances correlated directly with the increase in media coverage," says Nickell. "For years the phenomenon was concentrated in southern England. Only after media reports spread internationally did crop circles begin to appear in significant numbers elsewhere." Nickell also points to the fact that crop circles only became more elaborate over time-evidence of hoaxers demonstrating increasing mastery of their art. Finally, there's what Nickell calls the "Shyness Factor": like graffiti artists, whoever makes crop circles does not want to be seen in action.


Nickell and Fischer were vindicated in 1991-just before they published an investigative report in Skeptical Inquirer magazine-when crop circle hoaxers Doug Bower and Dave Chorley came forward and subsequently fooled cereologist Pat Delgado, who had declared an example of their handiwork to be beyond any hoaxer's ability. Since then, many other people have admitted to making the designs as well.


"It's about time that crop circles get put in their proper place," says Nickell when asked about the new "Signs" film. "Crop circles are the stuff of Hollywood fiction, not science."

Three distinct groups of early humans may have migrated from Africa and
perhaps lived together in Eurasia about 1.7 million years ago, according to
researchers who uncovered a primitive skull and other fossils in the
Republic of Georgia."


http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/artifactschallenge5.htm

  About the hoax, folks

The rumor, Mary Hausch says, should have sent up one red flag; its
implausibility, another.


http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2002/07_03/news_upfront1.html

Advice from a spiritual adviser and the Miss Cleo hot line helped convince an alleged drug dealer that a Newberry man, shot execution-style last year, was the culprit behind his missing money, witnesses testified at an Alachua County murder trial Tuesday.


http://www.sunone.com/articles/2002-07-03d.shtml

Evangelist Leroy Jenkins has been charged with illegally selling contaminated bottled water from his Delaware church, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.


http://www.dispatch.com/print_template.php
?story=dispatch/news/news02/jun02/1336599.html

Recent mutilations of cattle and horses in the Argentine countryside were the work of rodents, scientists said on Monday, not ritualistic slayings by extraterrestrials or vampires as some farmers feared.


http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sfl-71rats.story

  Hysteria Hysteria

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/02/magazine/02HYSTERIA.html?
ex=1023681600&;en=dda80117e866bb87&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVER


Last fall, something peculiar began to happen at more than two dozen elementary and middle schools scattered across the country. Suddenly, groups of children started breaking out with itchy red rashes that seemed to fade away when the children went home -- and to pop up again when they returned to school. Frustratingly for the federal, state and county health officials who were working to explain this ailment, it did not conform to any known patterns of viral or bacterial illness.


...


The rash outbreaks started in Indiana on Oct. 4, the same day The Associated Press first reported that a Florida man had come down with anthrax. It was not then clear how extensive the anthrax campaign would be, or who was behind it (we still don't know), or where it might turn up next. Throughout the fall, towns across the country were dealing with false alarms, white-powder hoaxes, sudden evacuations of buildings, runs on Cipro. By January, more than 1,200 specimens of suspected anthrax, none of which tested positive, had been sent to the Indiana State Department of Health alone.


(This goes on for 7 more pages - check out the URL, and you may need a username/password)


http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/02/magazine/02HYSTERIA.html?
ex=1023681600&;en=dda80117e866bb87&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVER



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