SWIFT February 8, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Monstrous UFO Thingy, Blocked, Credit Where It’s Due, Hard To Believe, Little Blue Books, Passing of a Legend, Coop's Party, In Conclusion…

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Never unwilling to bring you important breaking news, I hasten to inform my readers that the UFO matter now seems to have been definitively resolved. Well, according to Dr. Bruce Cornet, M.S., Ph.D., of El Paso, Texas, that is. In a recent posting to his huge mailing list – some 401 recipients, though I’m not on there! – he announced:

I agree with Victor's comments about skeptics and debunkers. We have been through similar cycles many times in the last 50 years, and each time the amount of solid evidence has increased.

Table of Contents
  1. Monstrous UFO Thingy

  2. Blocked

  3. Credit Where It’s Due

  4. Hard To Believe

  5. Little Blue Books

  6. Passing of a Legend

  7. Coop's Party

  8. In Conclusion…



MONSTROUS UFO THINGY

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Never unwilling to bring you important breaking news, I hasten to inform my readers that the UFO matter now seems to have been definitively resolved. Well, according to Dr. Bruce Cornet, M.S., Ph.D., of El Paso, Texas, that is. In a recent posting to his huge mailing list – some 401 recipients, though I’m not on there! – he announced:

I agree with Victor's comments about skeptics and debunkers. We have been through similar cycles many times in the last 50 years, and each time the amount of solid evidence has increased. The tables are slowly turning on "DERANGED DEBUNKERS" and "SLIMY SKEPTICS", and it is they that will ultimately be relegated to the lists of "MENTAL PATIENTS" because of their inability to accept what is outside cultural reality. IMO they contribute little to human advancement.

To establish how much he contributes to human advancement, Dr. Cornet offers:

My participation on Tuesday evening on XZone (8-9 pm PCT) should result in a lively debate, considering how much solid physical evidence (physics data) is now available to anyone who wants to know the truth.

For example, the readers of this email should read the following webpage on mimicry: www.sunstar-solutions.com/AOP//Litebeams/main1.htm

Folks, click on this item. Here we have a really fine example of how a true believer – even though possessing a PhD, as this man says he does – can invent an intricate alternate reality to bolster his delusions. He actually believes that some aliens – or the CIA, FBI, DAR, whatever – created an image of a “Boeing 707 look-alike” to try fooling him – in which effort they were obviously unsuccessful – just to follow him home! Read all of this site, so you’ll begin to understand the depth of such paranoia. He continues:

Also check out: http://www.unifiedworlds.com/powerpoint/Underground_files/frame.htm. The show called "Gateways" will appear on 19 March on the History Channel. It is about the probable discovery of a triangular robotic probe (565 feet on a side) discovered entombed in 450 myo [million-year-old] mid-Ordovidian black shales, resting on a granitic island. It is now nearly exposed (seven feet below the surface: GPR), and it is sending powerful signals out into space (recorded), attracting other probes to its location. That is part of the reason for the Pine Bush UFO Hotspot in Orange County, NY. The Ordovician was the time when ocean life began to diversify into the evolutionary roots of all living animals and plants after the Cambrian Explosion.

The next sound you hear will be the brain of Dr. Cornet imploding…

That tittering in the background is the staff at the History Channel celebrating yet another contribution to misinformation via TV.




BLOCKED

In response to my request to be notified about the JREF site being blocked – see tinyurl.com/2oy8nh – we had many notifications. Reader Eric White wrote:

In today's Swift article, you said to notify you if your site gets blocked at our places of work. Well, by Michigan law, all the computers in our schools need to have blocking software. The software our school uses, called BSafe, is a real pain.

Most of us just use proxies to get around it, but the proxies are usually caught and blocked within a week, so it's always a struggle. One of the sites it blocks is yours. Ironically, the reason it says it blocks you is, it describes randi.org as something like "Cults, Superstition." Every time I see that, I chuckle.

Other notes from readers said about the same thing, but I was encouraged to see that most schools have opted to bypass the blocking, and young folks are allowed to read what we post…

Reader Mark Johnson comments:

As for the item in the February 1st issue of Swift titled "We're blocked," I ran into the same thing a few months ago with talkorigins.org which was blocked, categorized as an alternative religion website. I've created a web site to proxy blocked sites and would like to offer a link to fellow readers of randi.org in case they ever find themselves in the situation experienced by Jorge. The link is www.bophars.com/randi if you're interested in sharing it with you readers.




CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

Introduced – as usual – as “a miracle,” there was a news item on TV here in Florida last week about a little girl named April, who had fallen into the family swimming pool. The parents pulled her from the water, found she was not breathing, and called the local rescue squad, who showed up very promptly. They soon had the child conscious, and it appears that she’s not damaged by the episode. The TV story dealt with the subsequent celebration of this rescue – or so it was intended. Instead, a tent erected in the family’s back yard bore a huge banner reading, “For April’s miracle, we thank God!!!”

The rescuers were there in uniform, and the girl’s parents were interviewed. A reporter asked, “What do you want to say to the rescuers?” The father responded, “I want to tell them that we thank God for sending them!”

Folks, let’s get some priorities in place here. This wasn’t a miracle, in any way. God didn’t send the rescuers, a telephone operator did. God didn’t supply the oxygen that the child received, nor the other first-aid techniques they applied. The rescue squad saved the girl's life, after the omnipotent, all-seeing, omniscient one to whom churches have been erected all over the state – allowed the child to fall into the water. And the TV news item went on to mention several other children, kids who had drowned recently in Florida, but I didn’t hear one word about God being blamed for those deaths…




HARD TO BELIEVE

How bizarre can things get? I thought I’d heard it all until I was informed by readers about Juliana Cumbo, a 31-year-old who practices as a graduate intern in the student clinic of the Austin Academy of Oriental Medicine. She has re-applied for a state license to practice acupuncture after having been rejected last year, though she has already earned a master's degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and passed the national board exams. The licensing committee of the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners is due to rehear her request for a license.

First, this ancient flummery doesn’t work except to encourage the suppression of pain through suggestion; experiments have established that subjects show the same degree of analgesia whether the needles are placed “according to the book” or just randomly. Since pain is a highly subjective phenomenon, some people may find at least some lessening of discomfort if they believe they’re receiving an ancient Asian remedy and have confidence in it. Claims that it also diagnoses, treats and prevents illness as a result of the insertion of super-thin needles along specific points on the body, are unfounded.

But – get ready for it – if Juliana were to receive a license, she would be the first blind person to be issued one. Meng-sheng Lin, the licensing committee chairwoman, said she's inclined to repeat her vote of last year against Cumbo's application. She asked, quite reasonably, I would think:

I'm just trying to fulfill my duty to protect the public. Would you go to a blind acupuncturist?




LITTLE BLUE BOOKS

I’ve had a few of the famous “Little Blue Books” sent to me over the years, and having exceptionally keen observational powers, I’ve noticed that they’re beige-colored. Can’t get anything by me, as you see!

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That aside, they’re always interesting, in one way or another. There were 2,200 LBBs published between 1919 and 1951, and I just received No. 845, written by Leo Markun – who wrote some 62 of them. This one is titled, “What You Should Know About Fortune Telling,” and consists mainly of how to perform such divination services for the naïve, every variety from playing cards and numerology to tea leaves – with coffee grounds thrown in to accommodate that market, as well.

In introducing the subject, on page 6 the author comments on the “large number of irrational beliefs” in American society, and observes:

Kentucky is an interesting field for such investigation because it contains at least three different sets of traditions. The “folkways” of the educated man of Louisville are not exactly those of the white mountaineer or of the uneducated negro.

True, though he’s very un-politically correct in these 1930-ish comments. But it’s in closing the 64-page book that Mr. Markun gets my close attention:

There must be "something in" fortune telling, some of my readers may still believe. Yes, a certain amount of charlatanry and fraud, a large residue of ancient and medieval superstition, a great deal of folly. That a fortune teller may sometimes foretell a future event I do not deny. I have often guessed things that were going to happen, and which actually did happen, myself; and I do not pretend to have mastered the esoteric wisdom of Asia. I have also guessed wrong many times, and the fortune tellers are subject to the same weakness. The great objection to all these methods of prognostication is that they turn us away from science. It sometimes seems that the government meteorologists can tell no more about the coming weather than the almanac makers do. But this is not so, even at present. Besides, meteorology can be improved. Astrology and the other mantic pseudo-sciences remain worthless. We deal in science with cause and effect. Fortune telling keeps us at the mental level of the savages.

Again he shows some attraction to the supposed “esoteric wisdom” that was so popular before we knew that much about what those parts of our world really have added to our understanding. I have to wonder if he ever did a Little Blue Book on acupuncture…




PASSING OF A LEGEND

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Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who is believed to have been 91 years of age, died in his sleep at his home in the Netherlands. I note that the news items on this event start out – as might be expected – by providing what they see as the primary point of interest about this man, that he was credited with introducing the Beatles and other “stars” to ancient Hindu meditation methods.

Well, he – and his multi-million-dollar kingdom of sycophants – also caused the death of my friend Doug Henning, who dedicated himself to the Transcendental Meditation notion so deeply that he abandoned regular medical treatment for liver cancer, continued to pursue his diet of nuts and berries, and died of the disease.

While I believe that the Maharishi had the best of intentions when he began in 1959, it seems evident that his organization was taken over by the management he allowed to move in, and they literally took it from his control. See randi.org/joom/content/view/149/27/#i7.

I seem to recall that this man had hinted at immortality as a result of following his teachings.




COOP’S PARTY

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Here you see a photo taken at Alice Cooper’s 60th birthday party. That’s artist Jose Alvarez, Coop, and moi, and I must tell you that we were all vary happy and enjoying the party – though Coop and I tended to register “Welcome to My Nightmare” sorts of expressions. It comes with the territory…

I had the privilege of touring with Alice for 90 days in 1973, chopping of his head nightly with a monstrous guillotine. It never seemed to work, however, since he was always back the next day. I met – for the first time – Cheech Marin, of Cheech & Chong fame – and renewed memories with my friends of the Alive Enterprises bunch. A wonderful, sober, heartwarming get-together celebrating the 60th revolution about the Sun of planet Earth since The Coop first saw the world. His lovely mom, looking fine and hale, recalled the first night she’d ever actually seen her kid’s show on stage. It was in Phoenix, his home town, and perhaps thinking that I was the most sober of all the crew, Alice asked me to please sit with the lady – while I was offstage not playing the Mad Dentist or Executioner – to take the edge off the first exposure to his performance by holding her hand. She was horrified, turning to me and asking, “Why is he dressed like that?” and “Why is he so angry?” – but she soon warmed up when I reminded her, for the 20th time, “It’s only an act, m’am.”

A great experience, with much hugging and laughs. Thank you, Coop…



IN CONCLUSION…

I’m just now packing for two trips this week, one being to Germany. Please forgive the truncated SWIFT; there just was not enough time to prepare more material. I’ll have a report for you next week on what wonders transpired.


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