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From Abracadabra to Zombies
Mass Media Funk Archive
a commentary on mass media stories about the scientific, the paranormal, the supernatural, and anything else that yanks at my eyebrows.
This blog ran from March 1993 to December 2007 and has been replaced by Skeptimedia.
No. 63 Dec. 14 armed guards in churches (SU)
No. 62 Dec 11 raising smart kids (CT)
No. 61 Dec 5 unwanted saviors (SU)
No. 60 Nov 26 unintelligent design (SU)
No. 59 Nov 25 Wi-Fi and autism (JS)
No. 58 Nov 15 FBI profiling and cold reading (JS)
No. 57 Jun 1-Aug 23 out-of-body experiences (P) (SU); polygraphs (JS); Dawkins on the enemies of reason (SC); and creationist amusement parks (JS) von Däniken's Mystery Park closed (P)
No. 56 Feb 13-May 9 Uri Geller & Peter Popoff (P) (SU); Huckabee the anti-evolutionist (JS); evolution of the bacterial flagellum (SC); chiropractors run amok in California (CAM); Mbeki & AIDS non-treatment (JS); and Russian soldiers forced to work as male prostitutes in St Petersburg (O).
No. 55 Jan 1-Jan 23 report on TAM5 (SK); homage to skeptical journalists (SK)
No. 54 Dec 21 science, religion, and politics (SC), (SK), (SU)
No. 53 Mar 21-Dec 6 Christmas bigots (SU); A&E begins filming what will become its hit show "Paranormal State" (P); Ted Haggard's hypocrisy (SU); Phil Jordan, psychic sleuth without a clue (P); Oprah and critical thinking (CT); preaching politics and the IRS (SU); science and young earth creationists (JS) (SU); poll reveals Brits' superstitions (P) (SU); mercury and health (JS); healing prayer studies find people who pray are talking to themselves (SU); thimerosal and mice (JS)
No. 52 March 7 the (mostly Republican) war on science (JS)
No. 51 Feb 20-March 3 abortion (O); the Sacramento zoo takes on intelligent design (SC) (SU); the American Association for the Advancement of Science denounces anti-evolution educational practices (SC) (SU)
No. 50 Feb 4 Muslims explode over cartoons (SU)
No. 49 Jan 11 The Bizarre Case of Richard and Susan Hamlin: a tale of torture, murder, rape, incest, satanic cults, snuff films, death threats, pistol whipping, the CIA, Ted Gunderson, mind control, Stockholm syndrome, depression. child abuse, infidelity, bankruptcy, the rise and fall of a couple of rich lawyers, and the destruction of a family
No. 48 Jan 5-10 over-the-counter placebos (SC); magnetic placebos (JS); Sylvia Browne wrong again (P)
No. 48 Dec 19-31 the intelligent design hoax (FH) (SU); tobacco smoke significantly increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (SC)
No. 47 Aug 15-Dec 7 intelligent design (JS) (FH) (SU); asbestos poisoning (O); Derek Colanduno struck down (O); Australian skeptics (SK); teleportation (JS); and invasion of the parazombies
No. 46 Jun 22-Aug 14 psychic Carla Baron begins her failure to find Ray Gricar (P); live blood analysis (JS); science under siege by the Bush administration (SK) (JS); intelligent design (JS) (FH) (SU)
No. 45 Feb 11-May 30 the Smithsonian and ID (JS) (FH) (SU); national day of reason (SC) (SK); Noreen Reiner another psychic without a clue (P); taking 400 units of Vitamin E daily is of no benefit in reducing heart disease or cancer (SC); cops hires psychic and she tells him body may be near water (P); Bush accused of stifling science (O); BBC produces series on atheism with Jonathan Miller (SC) (SK)
No. 44 Jan 17-Feb 10 Indigo children explained by whack job P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D., Ph.D. (Hon.) (JS); naturopaths licensed in California (CAM); Bush, the EPA, and science (JS); miscellaneous stuff on cancer patients & CAM, graphology, and anti-evolution education (CAM) (JS); Allison DuBois and the hit show "Medium" (P); chupacabra (CZ)
No. 43 Jan2-13 ID stickers (JS); poisonous household plants (SC); Vioxx recalls & evaluating statistical data (SC) (SK)
No. 43 Dec 22-Dec 30 the earthquake in Sumatra and the subsequent tsunamis (SC) (SK) (P); herbals and toxic metals (CAM)
No. 42 Nov 22-Dec 20 rump reading (JS); hoaxing skeptics (FH); the Andrew Wakefield prize for preposterous extrapolation from a single unconvincing piece of scientific data (JS); pet psychic (P); ID in Dover county (JS) (FH) (SU); remote viewing (P); Judith Reisman on pornography (JS); Anthony Flew's atheism (SU); no creationism in Grantsburg (JS) (FH) (SU); cell phone explosions (SC); our Christian Air Force Academy (SU); whack job channels book by John F. Kennedy (P)
No. 41 Oct 20-Nov 18 Sylvia Browne (P); cancer rates lower than expected at microprocessor plant (SC); ID (JS) (FH) (SU); psychic teleportation study by our Air Force (P) (JS); Natasha Demkina's overexposed x-rays (P); Noreen Renier (P)
No. 40 Sept 9-Oct 19 Betty Hill dies (U); Jacques Benveniste dies (CAM) (JS); John Mack dies (U) (JS); paranormal television (P); Natasha Demkina, x-ray girl from Russia (P); psychic detectives on TV (P); Räelians & ID (JS) (FH) (SU); Wangari Maathai on AIDS (CAM) (JS); Serebia's theocracy (SU); ID paper published and retracted (JS) (FH) (SU); MMR & autism (SC)
No. 39 May 19-Aug 31 chastity in Iran (SU); photons teleported (SC); homeopathy (CAM) (JS); ghost busting (P); Jesus joins board of school in Norway (SU); atheism defended (CT) (SU); feng shui motherboards (P); medical errors (SC); god and the U.S. Constitution (CT) (SU); Journal of Reproductive Medicine published paper on prayer and in vitro fertilization but quickly removes it from website (CAM) (JS); Rico the talking dog (O); Christians attack secular schools for being too secular (SU); scientific studies worldwide find no convincing evidence that vaccines containing thimerosal cause autism (SC)
No. 38 Feb 18-April 19 Gregory Forbes named Michigan College Science Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Science Teacher Association (SC); psychic detectives (P); Bush science advisor criticized (SC); faith declared a mental illness (SU); dead people talking? (SU); abortion doesn't increase the risk of breast cancer (SC); no U.S. scientists can go to Cuba (O); the making of Bigfoot (CZ); Bush administration's assault on science (SC); Bush dismisses foes on stem cell issue (SC); Andrew Wakefield's economic interest in vaccine debate revealed (JS); students in Darby, Montana, protest anti-evolutionary policy (SC) (CT); John Edward challenged to substantiate his claim that he communicates with the dead (SU); Union of Concerned Scientists condemn Bush (SC)
No. 37 Jan 19-Feb 10 Left Behind (SU); Darwin Day & monsters (SC); Kathy Cox proposes that the word 'evolution' be removed from all science curricula and books in Georgia (JS) (FH) (SU); Leland Y. Yee introduces a resolution to include the principles of feng shui in the California Building Standards Code (JS) (P); remains of oldest creature ever to live on land found near golf course (SC)
No. 36 Jan 1 Tim Radford of TheAge.com.au selects his all-time favorite science frauds and hoaxes from Piltdown man to elements 116 and 118 (FH)
No. 36 Sept 7-Dec 31 National Park Service promoting Young Earth creationism (SU) (JS); Ray Hyman presented with In Praise of Reason Award by CSICOP (O) (CT); Marcia Angell and silicone breast implants (SC); Cable Science Network (SC); the hypocrite Rush Limbaugh needs your prayers (O) (SU); cold fusion (SC); creationism in the UK (JS) (SU); negative ions (SC) (JS); Apollo moon hoax hoax (FH); Sweden's Lund University ready to hire its first "professor of parapsychology, hypnology ["the science of the phenomena of sleep and hypnosis"] and clairvoyance"
No. 35 July 29-Sept 3 vaccines and autism (SC); Dr. Roy Meadows (JS); astrology (JS); go to jail or do tai chi (O); the Hawthorne effect (SC); New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah have renumbered highway 666 to highway 491 (FH)
No. 34 March 20-July 27 religion and violence (SU); macrobiotics (JS); big alt med recall in Australia (CAM); Räelians lie about cloning a human (JS); Sylvia Browne's trail of grief continues, aided by Montel Williams (P); von Däniken's Mystery Park to open (P); toe reading (JS)
No. 33 Jan 21-March 18 ginkgo biloba (CAM); secular humanists and atheists meet (CT) (SU); Elizabeth Smart found but not by psychics (P); European skeptics meeting in London (SK); the end is near (SU) (SC); new map of the universe (SC); Michael L. Dini won't write letter for anti-evolutionist creationist student (CT); Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" begins airing with episode on Rosemary Althea and other mediums who claim to get messages from the dead using cold and hot readings (CT); American Society of Civil Engineers issue report on why the Pentagon wasn't more damaged by the Boeing 757 that was flown into it on 9/11 (SC); half a wing not half bad (SC).
No. 32 Jan 2-17 unconscious nature's intelligent designs (SC); surgical mistakes (O); silver health scams (CAM); WGN fires Van Praagh (P); lawyer/writer ripped off by Sylvia Browne (P); astrologer dies on lucky day (JS).
No. 32 Nov 21-Dec 20 San Francisco licenses psychics not convicted of swindling or thievery (P); Gary Schwartz feeble reply to Ray Hyman (P) (SU); Bigfoot hoaxer dies (CZ); scientist says life began on ocean floor (SC); South Park features Jon Edward as "biggest douche in the universe" (SU); Rendlesham File released by UK government (U); homeopathy fails another test (CAM); Pat Robertson denounces the Koran (SU); response to Stephen Meyer's deception (SU); the Science Channel's "Critical Eye" (SC).
No. 31 Nov 10-20 crop circles (U); Roy Moore's Ten Commandments (SU); Roswell (U); psychic surgery (P); UNLV Consciousness Studies & Charles Tart (P); PrimeTime with Ian Rowland doing cold reading and pretending to get messages from the dead (SC) (SK).
No. 30 Oct 11-29 Cobb County, Georgia, school board calls its anti-evolution policy "critical thinking" (SU); Muslim cleric calls for murder of Jerry Falwell (SU); Raëlian cloning nonsense (SU); neuroplasticity (SC).
No. 29 Aug 23-Oct 3 Women Helping Women pyramid scheme arrests (FH); Christians like atheists, poll shows (SC); St. Mychal & Australian woman claims brain damage from fall in church after Holy Spirit entered her (SU); Bell Labs fires scientist Dr. J. Hendrik Schön for making extraordinary but fraudulent claims in some 17 peer-reviewed papers regarding molecular-scale transistors (FH); Nigerian 411 scams (FH); Regina Norman Danson, a hotel worker and illegal immigrant from Ghana, dupes some big names with sad tale (FH); not-so-education educational TV (CZ) (P); Frontline explores effect of 9/11 on religious beliefs (SU); raw food fad (JS); ginkgo biloba (CAM).
No. 28 July 20- Aug 3 God can't lose (SU); feng shui (P); irrational faith (SU); Elisabeth Targ dies despite prayers (SU); abstinence program abused by religious groups (SU); evolution (SC); polls shows confidence in religious group at all-time low (SU); deadly hospital infections (SC); lies about diets (SC).
No. 27 June 27-July 9 cyronics (SC); study finds that a daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene does not reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, or mental decline (SC); Chico Xavier of Brazil who wrote 92 books on messages from the dead can now start sending his own messages from the other side (SU); "under God" in the pledge of allegiance goes to court (SU).
No. 26 May 27-June 26 death by purification (SU); Alan Alda hosts Scientific American on alternative medicine (SC) (CAM); mercury and autism (SC) (CT); viral marketing (FH).
No. 25 Jan 25-May 23 Harvard and CAM (CAM); Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (SU) (JS); Stephen Jay Gould dies (SC); religious cult members molesting children in Georgia (SU); Congresswoman Diane Watson wants to ban mercury from dental fillings (JS); the Church of Scientology pays Lawrence Wollersheim $8,674,843 to settle a lawsuit filed more than 20 years ago (SU); UFO group closes shop (U); White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy may be Clinton's worst legacy (CAM); hopeless cases and false hope (SC) (CT) (CAM); The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles tried and failed to take away the vanity license plate of Steven Miles that reads ATHEIST (SU); PBS series on the "Secret Life of the Brain" (SC); mothman (CZ); PrimeTime takes on alternative medicine (CAM).
No. 24 Jan 13 exorcist demonizes Harry Potter books (SU).
No. 24 Nov 11-Dec 21 Pope John Paul mass producing saints (SU); anthrax terror from Army lab (SC); Clayton Lee Waagner, suspected of mailing hundreds of terrorist anthrax threats to abortion clinics, arrested (SU); FBI profiling and use of psychics (JS); evil (SC) (CT).
No. 23 Aug 10-Oct 25 fire walking (FH); anthrax terrorist attacks have been going on for three years with no arrests (O); Proctor & Gamble's logo (O); Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (JS) (SU); using 9/11 to bring people to their knees and attack anyone who looks different (SU); Scientologists, haters of psychiatry, take advantage of 9/11 to infiltrate as counselors (JS) (SU); James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal rips the media for glorifying psychics in the wake of the Chandra Levy disappearance (CT) (P).
No. 22 June23-July 26 Miss Cleo (FH); bad police science (JS); herbs and surgery dangers (CAM); astrology (JS); wasted war on cancer (JS); Atlantis (JS).
No. 21 April 22-June 22 Catalina Rivas (JS) (SU); psychics (P) (CT); therapists smother child in "rebirthing" (JS); about half of those polled believe in ESP (P); the placebo effect questioned (SC); the Disclosure Project (U); Bernard Osher Foundation gives $10 million to Harvard to study non-traditional medicine (CAM); medication errors (SC); James Randi (CT).
No. 20 Feb 26-April 20 Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder sentenced to 16 years in prison (JS); St. John's wort (CAM); incorruptible body of Pope John XXIII? (SU); Chris French & Richard Wiseman find placebo effect at work in crystal power (SC); human organs for transplant big business (O); Nancy Stouffer sues J K Rowling (Stouffer will lose) (O); diploma mill, Columbia Pacific University (CPU), shut down (FH); 84% of patients treated for depression with ECT relapse within six months (SC); John Edward's Crossing Over (FH); Taliban blows up statues of Buddha (SU); surgeon makes mistake (O).
No. 19 Feb 14-Feb 24 prayer as deadly medicine (SU); FBI profiles (JS); the Rorschach (JS); fake doctor caught four times (O); James Randi (CT); 40% of adult Americans favor teaching creationism instead of evolution in our public schools; only 28% think that evolution should be required study for high school students (SU).
No. 18 Jan 2-Feb 14 Warren E. Barry attacks "spineless pinkos" (SU); Kansas restores evolution (SC); study of 420,000 cell phone users in Denmark found that cell phone users are no more likely than anyone else to get cancer (SC); Hindu astrology (JS); a new South African project will provide free AIDS medication to some HIV-positive pregnant women (SC); pledge of allegiance a prayer? (SU); Roy Moore, the 10 Commandment's judge (SU); the Holy Land in Orlando (SU); supplements (SC); atheists rank below homosexuals on list of who people would consider voting for (SU); errors in science texts (SC); Christian values opposite of American values (CT); reducing medical errors with computers (SC); chelation therapy (JS) (CAM); traditional Chinese medicine in Canada (CAM).
No. 17 Nov 27-Dec 29 Wiccan revisionism (SU); surgical error (O); Bigfoot (CZ); lunar effects (JS); no connection between cell phones & brain tumors (SC); Harvard and spiritual healing (CAM); the Truster (JS); my article in Odyssey magazine (CT); school vouchers and creationism (SU); cell phone scare story (JS); evidence of our African origin (SC); back belts not good for your back (SC); Brill's Content writer Joseph Gomes rips into Larry King and Montel Williams for their completely uncritical treatment of so-called psychic Sylvia Browne (P); Nazca lines (U) (SC).
No. 16 Oct 30-Nov 25 James Watson links skin color to sex drive and weight to happiness and ambition (JS); Scientific American Frontiers on neuroscience (SC); St. John's wort (CAM); Dateline's John Hockenberry tackles cold reading and mediums getting messages from the dead (P) (SC); new species of mouse lemur discovered in Madagascar (SC); crop circle prankster fined (U); Cook country Judge James T. Ryan scares kids with threats of hell (JS) (SU); mice and EMR (SC); "minute of silence" law upheld (SU); psychic job description (P).
No. 15 Aug 30-Oct 29 therapeutic touch test (SC); witchcraft in Oklahoma (SU); alternative mental health treatment called "expressive therapies" (CAM); MPD on trial (JS); herbs and prostrate cancer (CAM); Elizabeth Loftus on planting false memories (SC); "The Contender" (O); study finds no harm from drinking fluoridated water (SC); dangers of mixing herbs and medicines (SC); Catholic pope to canonize hundreds (SU); no organized prayer in Florida schools, says Supreme Court (SU); NASA's anti-gravity machine waste (JS); Florida AG to investigate phone psychics (P); pitiful state of evolution education in U.S. (SC); exorcisms (SU); sainthood for anti-Semitic pope (SU); Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's Minister of Health, is spreading the word that the Illuminati introduced AIDS to Africa through the smallpox vaccine in 1978 to reduce the African population as part of a worldwide conspiracy (JS); Sen. Lieberman says morality must be based on belief in God (SU).
No. 14 July 12-Aug 27 organized voluntary and spontaneous prayer in Texas (SU); the concept of race (SC); religious people live longer (SU) (SC); firewalkers scorched (JS); scientific illiteracy rampant (SC); functional foods (SC); Joe Firmage and Ann Druyan join forces (SC).
No. 13 June 18-July 11 AIDS (SC); brain damage and paranormal experiences (SC) (P); medical errors (SC); Ten Commandments (SU); Falun Gong and Nostradamus (P); the pious fraud of Fatima (SU); prayer in schools (SU); copper bracelets for rhinos (JS); Peter Jennings and the Messiah (SU); apocalyptic fiction sells (SU); genetic mapping and politics (SC); more priests die than are ordained (SU).
No. 12 May 11-June 17 separation of church and state (SU); Jane Seymour and Catherine Bell (JS); Florsheim magnetic shoes (JS); Hare Krishna sexual abuse (SU); wasting money on herbs (JS); UPI bought by Moonies (SU); psychic sees Jon Benet's killer (P)(JS); homosexual cure (JS); mental illness blamed for exorcism death of 3-year-old (SU); Herbalife founder Mark Reynolds Hughes dies of alcohol and drugs at age 44 (JS); therapists smother child to death in birthing treatment (JS); 83% of Americans say Darwin’s theory of evolution belongs in the nation’s science classes (SC).
No. 11 March 21-May 10 Kepler College (JS); AIDS in South Africa (JS); falun gong (SU); Biblical Ohio (SU); chiropractic useless against colic (JS); low-fat, high-fiber diet no help against cancer (SC); church attendance in England very low (SU); David Irving loses libel suit (JS); Sima Nan debunks Chinese tomfoolery (P); Oklahoma politicians declare life created by God (SU); cancer in sharks (SC); herbal quackery (JS); Catholic nun says Castro eats children (SU); Urantia (SU); herbal impurity (JS); alternative dentistry (JS); and pet psychic at PETCO (P).
No. 10 Feb 7-March 19 500 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God burned to death in an Ugandan chapel as they awaited the Virgin Mary to take them away; any ship in a storm: EMF fearmongers blame EMFs for suicides; Bob Park's Voodoo Science announced; PETA campaign against cow's milk: drink beer; solar tidal doom nonsense: world won't end on 05/05/00; Jane Fonda finds religion and Ted Turner finds woo as they go their separate ways; Raëlians gather in Montreal; small study on the effectiveness of magnets to ease lower back pain finds no significant difference between the magnet users and a control group; herbs cause bleeding under anesthesia; psychic fraud; Christine Bruhn says that organic foods are neither safer nor more nutritious than conventional foods; using memory to help trauma victims; vitamin C supplements could speed up hardening of the arteries; Patrick J. and Lore Harp McGovern commit $350 million over 20 years to MIT to establish an Institute for Brain Research; fatigue affects judgment; diabetics warned by the FDA about the dangers of taking five brands of Chinese herbs because they illegally contain prescription drugs; eBay refuses offer to sell man's soul on ground that there is no evidence the item really exists; medical magnets debunked; The New England Journal of Medicine admits that over the past three years the authors of 19 articles reviewing drugs were written by doctors with financial ties to the drug makers; 50% increase in number of children treated with drugs like Ritalin; woman tries trepanation for CFS; "horse whisperer" Monty Roberts has been accused of faking his autobiography, including the bit about horse whispering (an alleged mysterious way to communicate with horses); St. John's wort found to dull the effectiveness of the HIV medicine indinavir and the transplant drug cyclosporin; China rounds up Falun Gong members (again); colonic irrigation; a French government report describes the Church of Scientology as a dangerous organization that "threatens public order" and "human dignity," and has called for its dissolution; the Indiana House voted 92-7 in support of a law that would allow posting the Ten Commandments in schools, courthouses and on other government property.
No. 9 Jan 3-Feb 5 Cult leader convicted of rape; ball lightning; homeopathy for horses; faking tears of blood on statues; Colorado College uses Lego-building to help "identify initiative, leadership and an ability to work in groups" in lieu of the SAT and ACT test "in an effort to attract minority and disadvantaged students"; NYT reports alternative medicine growing; NYC offers job training in being a psychic to the unemployed; AD vs CE; feng shui on the rise in London; pharmacists check adverse combination of herbs and prescription drugs; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute of Wilmington, Del., a conservative academic think tank, has name Margaret Mead's 1928 treatise, Coming of Age in Samoa, the worst nonfiction book of the past 100 years; Britain repeals part of the 1780 Sunday Observance Act and will now allow dancing on Sunday nights; NCCAM commits over $1.4 million over five years to study the crackpot cancer "cure" of Nicholas J. Gonzalez (The results of the study showed that patients undergoing gemcitabine-based chemotherapy lived three times longer and had better quality of life scores and lower pain scores than those undergoing the Gonzalez Regimen; those receiving the pancreatic enzyme therapy had a shorter median survival than patients with similarly staged pancreatic cancer.); (the now defunct) Brill's Content introduces a new motto: Skepticism is a Virtue; a nun quits her religious order rather than submit to the CDF's demand that she publicly recant her views on birth control and women priests (CDF=Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Inquisition); English churches are losing 2,000 members a week; there are more divorces among America's born-again Christians than among atheists; David Irving sues Deborah Lipstadt for libel in England; Parade publishes "Don't Worry About Vaccinations" by Dr. Isidore Rosenfeld, who lists the main objections to vaccinations and responds to each of them; China has a state-sponsored bimonthly magazine devoted to UFO research which has a circulation of some 400,000 (China apparently continues to have a strong interest in UFOs).
No. 9 Dec 15-Dec 27 A survey of leading religious leaders in England reveals that only 3 of 103 believe in the Biblical version of creation, only 13 believe Adam and Eve existed, and 25% reject the Virgin Birth story; the end-of-the-world prophets seem to be motivated by hope; a Denver judge has ruled that an unattended crèche in the Denver City and County Building is ok but an unattended sign is not (the sign was the gift of Julie Wells, a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and said "The 'Christ Child' is a Religious Myth. The City of Denver Should Not Promote Religion" and "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world." ); Joe Firmage donates $1 million to the Carl Sagan Foundation; chiropractic manipulation may cause as many as 150 strokes a year in Canada; a lawsuit against Scientology is filed for the estate of Lisa McPherson (the suit was settled in 2004 but the terms were kept confidential).
No. 8 Oct 21-Dec 10 According to the British government, Scientology is neither a charity nor of public benefit; the Dalai Lama says that religious leaders should stop relying on prayer and meditation to bring about world peace; "I am so scared that sometimes I stay awake on purpose so the day won't end," says 6 foot 4/220 pound, Jeffrey Modahl, recently released after fifteen years in prison for being wrongly accused of sexually abusing his stepdaughter during the witch hunt for satanic baby killers in the mid-1980s; Gurney Mills hires a psychic to help shoppers; calendars and the concept of the millennium; in Italy, passing a priest or nun on the street is considered bad luck; education groups attack "reparative" ("conversion") therapy for homosexuals; weird beliefs about gold dust and God; Oklahoma has joined Illinois, Kansas, and Kentucky in demoting evolution from its rightful place as the foundation of modern biology to 'just another theory' (Kanawha County, West Virginia, is considering joining the pack); Leon Jaroff predicts that the next century will see the end of the "alternative" medicine fad; a Kansas teacher is sacked for telling a student that her parents have been teaching her "crap" about the creation of the universe; John Allen Poulos explores the human "tendency to attribute significance to anomalies and coincidences" and encourages a rational look at statistics and events in light of several recent air crashes (He reminds us that "a passenger who daily and randomly takes a jet flight between American cities would, on average, go 19,000 years before dying in a crash."); Poulos also debunks the Bible Code; archaeological evidence shows that "There was no exodus from Egypt, Joshua didn’t bring down the walls of Jericho, and Solomon’s kingdom was a small, tribal dynasty"; James Redfield reaches new low; Erich von Däniken calls upon investors to buy shares in a Mystery Park (the park opened in 2003 and closed in 2006); a Gallup poll found that about 12% of American adults object to Halloween on religious grounds (The poll also found that belief in ghosts is up 200% over twenty years ago and belief in witches is up 100%); in July 1997, Illinois replaced references to evolution with "change over time;" the bowdlerized Illinois Standards Achievement Test, to be administered for the first time next February, will not use the term 'evolution'; speed reading scams.
No. 7 Aug 26-Oct 20 Teen violence and fear of violence down; Kepler College, the first college of astrology in the US, is up and running; the Kanawha County, West Virginia, school board considers lifting a ban on teaching Genesis in the public schools under the guise of presenting "all the theories," but the board votes it down 4-1; in Faribaut, Minnesota, a militant creationist attacks evolution as impossible from a biochemical, anatomical, and physiological standpoint and as being "as absurd as thinking the Earth is the center of the universe"; the State Board of Education in New Mexico considers eliminating 'creationism' from its curriculum standards; "The word "evolution" has been deleted from guidelines of what Kentucky public school students should know....State Education Department officials substituted "change over time" for evolution...."; Mormons on creationism; several followers of Ellen Greve (a.k.a. Jasmuheen) die trying to live off of the divine breath alone; Kansas eliminate the Big Bang theory; polygraph screening at three national labs; the Bible Code debunked; a patient wins over $10 million in a lawsuit against Dr. Bennett Braun, founder of the International Society for the Study of Disassociation, who convinced the patient that she had 300 personalities, among them a child molester, a high priestess of a satanic cult, and a cannibal; no Mozart effect.
No. 6 May 3-Aug 22 Riley G emerges from the slime; the Kansas Board of Education rejects evolution as a scientific principle; New Scientist reports that Penguins, giraffes, seagulls, manatees, bonobos (pygmy chimps), etc., are pairing off for same sex pleasuring despite the many human campaigns by God's chosen preachers to stamp out homosexuality; Quixtar from Amway; Science Now reports that Robert P. Liburdy's scientific work, which established a strong correlation between electromagnetic radiation and cancer, was based on faked data; a Los Angeles county mental health worker is accused of using county phones to make over 2,500 calls to psychic hotlines at a cost of over $120,000; the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to consumers using the Internet to find health information; the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that an investigative journalist for ABC who used a hidden camera and microphone when she posed as a psychic invaded the constitutionally protected privacy of the "psychics"; taking androstenedione ('andro') does not build muscles, but it may increase the risk of heart disease, pancreatic cancer, and breast enlargement; psychic wastes everybody's time in South Africa.
No. 5 Jan 17-April 24 Jerry Falwell did not initiate speculation about Tinky Winky's sexual orientation; FOX humor; Lawrence Krauss critiques NBC's "Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?"; Dr. Richard Sloan and colleagues at Columbia University in New York City contend that a close review shows that the research linking faith and healing is seriously flawed; psychic fraud; Newsweek unmasks Sybil; Daily Mail accuses alien autopsy film of being faked.
No. 5 Oct 21-Nov 11 JAMA reports on popular alternative health practices; UC Davis and Wake Forest researchers publish a study that explains how amputees "feel" pain in 'phantom limbs'; DKL challenged to put up or shut up by Randi; Sandia Labs find the DKL ineffective; Canongate begins publishing "blasphemous" books (parts of the King James version of the Bible) called Pocket Canons; 130,000 space shots taken by Hubble.
No. 4 Jan 8-Oct 13 Art Bell and the Virgin Mary quit; both make comebacks; ABC with John Stossell presents "The Power of Belief"; the wick effect offered as an explanation for (not so) spontaneous human combustion; Wiseman and Smith test Jaytee, the allegedly psychic dog, and fail to replicate Rupert Sheldrake's research; Bill Morse sues teacher Lucille Corriveau on charges "she caused him and his wife great emotional distress and invaded their privacy when she handed them a letter purporting to contain a message from their dead son"; Bennett Braun disciplined for his MPD work; a study published in Pediatrics says that 140 of 172 child deaths where prayer was used instead of seeking medical care were due to conditions which have a treatment survival rate of greater than 90 percent; Frederick P. Lenz III (a.k.a. Rama) was found dead in the water near his Long Island home (he drowned after taking a massive drug overdose); Michael Shermer meets James Van Praagh on 20/20; nine-year old Emily Rosa publishes an article in the The Journal of the American Medical Association that debunks one of the main claims of therapeutic touch; the United States Supreme Court upholds the ban on the use of polygraph results in military courts because of their unreliability; 100 psychics fail to find child; The New England Journal of Medicine reports that when calcium channel blockers (for high blood pressure) were linked to higher risk of heart attack, 96% of the doctors who authored defenses of the use of calcium channel blockers had financial interests in the medication.
No. 4 Dec 31 The terms of the 1993 closure agreement between the IRS and Scientology are revealed.
No. 3A Commentary on Sacramento City College Conference on Belief and Skepticism November 1997: Carol Tavris, Wallace Sampson, Allan Dundes, and Fritz Stevens.
No. 3 Aug 21-Nov 19 Scientific American Frontiers takes on pseudoscience in "Beyond Science?"; credulity and creatine; a 13-year study involving over 10,000 Americans "found no evidence of increased longevity among vitamin and mineral supplement users in the United States"; in a repressed-memory case, the 2nd District Court of Appeals rules that testimony is inadmissible if procured by administering the drug sodium amytal, a so-called "truth-serum."
No. 2 Feb 26-May 13 Roger Katz pleads past-life love affair with 14-year-old to justify his rape; Katherine Quartz defends natural Native American treatment for her son's Hodgkin's disease; the state of Washington announces that as of January 1, 1997, it will no longer pay for repressed memory therapy out of a state fund for victims of violent crimes; "Junk Science", an ABC special hosted by John Stossel of the news magazine 20/20 was exceptional television journalism.
No. 2 Nov 22-Dec 26 U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones bars scientifically unsubstantiated testimony that silicone breast implants cause disease; NOVA - Odyssey of Life tells the story of evolution in the stunning color photography of Lennart Nilsson.
No. 1 March 18, 1993-August 8, 1995 The United States Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal of Bill and Kathy Swan who have spent 50 months in prison and had their daughter taken away from them based on the hearsay testimony of day-care workers (bad news for similar folks in Wenatchee, Washington, and in southern California); consumers may no longer sue for property damages stemming from invisible power emissions; bad move - letting a chiropractor be the primary care physician for your children. (Dr. John Bolton, a San Francisco pediatrician, said, "It's criminal to tell kids not to get immunizations because somehow cracking their backs can prevent infectious disease. It's not reportable as child abuse, although it's certainly abusive." )
* AmeriCares *