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Hallelujah! [using meaning #3 from Webster’s] A group of 13 important doctors and experienced clinicians in the UK have attacked what they call “bogus” therapies offered by the National Health Services [NHS] of their country and endorsed vigorously by their next king, Charles, Prince of Wales. The doctors have urged the NHS to stop using “complementary” notions of medical care and to only subsidize patients for using medicine "based on solid evidence." A stirring letter sent to NHS executives and intercepted by The Times (London) newspaper, running more than 500 words, expressed their official concern that the NHS is backing "unproven or disproved treatments," such as homeopathy, which is widely prescribed as legitimate treatment.
This occurred just as Prince Charles took a lesson in “crystal therapy” – certainly one of the most woo-woo “alternative” ideas – while visiting a hospital in South Wales to see how complementary therapies are supposedly helping people with Alzheimer's and other mental illnesses. He has just made a speech to the World Health Assembly in Geneva backing the use of “alternative and complementary” therapies. Charles has been prominent in his support of quackery in general for more that two decades; he commissioned the 2005 “Smallwood report,” which strongly suggested that greater access to complementary “therapies” through the NHS might lead to widespread benefits; it was conducted by economist Christopher Smallwood, which might indicate that the actual emphasis was on saving money, rather than lives. Dissenting opinions, though offered, were ignored. Charles supports the use of “alternative” means, even in the case of serious diseases.
The Times letter expresses the opinion that the UK public and their NHS are best served by using available funds for treatments that are based on solid evidence, rather than anecdotal accounts. It challenges a recent government-funded guide to the use of complimentary medicine in general, including homeopathy, for patients, which it describes as an "implausible treatment for which over a dozen systematic reviews have failed to produce convincing evidence of effectiveness."
The letter warns physicians against carelessly accepting any medical approach without due care and in the absence of good, solid, evidence, while stating, "medical practice must remain open to new discoveries.” Two of those who signed The Times letter were Nobel Prize-winner Sir James Black and Sir Keith Peters, president of the Academy of Medical Science, along with six fellows of the Royal Society. That's heavy company!
The entire Times letter can be seen at www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2191985,00.html. Look for the most important phrase in there: “These are not trivial matters”….
After hearing a radio interview about this news, UK reader Harry Hazeel commented:
What was particularly amusing was when the BBC had a brief in-studio discussion between clinical science consultant Les Rose who was one of the signatories of the letter and the president of the NHS Alliance, who wants the NHS to continue funding alternative treatments such as homeopathy. The president’s name? Professor Drinkwater…
Reader Elizabeth A. Kowols noticed, on the back page of the Chicago Tribune, an "At Play" section for Thursday, May 11, 2006:
There was a full-page article titled "Spa head-to-toe." Under the paragraph for ears was...wait for it!... Ear Candeling! [sic] It states:
Herbal candles help remove earwax buildup. The hour-long treatment is meant to improve hearing. $55
Randi comments: We covered this silly subject – ear candling – at www.randi.org/jr/02-02-2001.html (do a search for “candling”) but it appears that, surprisingly, not everyone reads this commentary.
Further down the page, in a paragraph for feet: "Reflexology foot massage." At least this one only states that it "uses massage pressure and stretching to soothe foot tension," and doesn't claim that the massage affects any other part of the body...although the "reflexology" title may make that moot.
Will be writing a letter to the Chicago Tribune re this, but highly doubt will get any sort of answer, if at all. Will let you know if I do! But check out the page, if you can...it seems that most of these "spa treatments" involve either scraping or peeling your skin raw!
Incredible! We are apparently immersed in a scientifically-ignorant culture in which the media can’t figure out the simplest of what would have been a grade-school science project for my generation. Go to www.randi.org/media/WaterFuel.wmv and be appalled at what “inventor” Denny Klein is selling to FOX26 News in Clearwater, Florida, via their excited reporter Craig Patrick, as a system that will run a car for 100 miles “fueled” solely by four ounces of water! In the video, a hydrogen torch using “HHO technology” that Klein demonstrates, is described by ridiculous expressions such as, “hotter than the surface of the Sun,” and we’re told that it takes “only seconds to literally burn a hole through charcoal.” Duh! Charcoal burns, dummy!
The FOX video shows Klein holding the tip of the welder between his fingers, which, they marvel, “remains cool to the touch.” Duh! again. Any of this sort of torch acts the same. The tip is cool because the compressed gas, as it decompresses and exits, makes the metal tip cold. It’s only when the mixed gases – hydrogen and oxygen, in this case – burn, that heat is produced, and that happens just beyond the tip. WHERE’S THE MIRACLE HERE? Clearwater’s FOX TV tells us, “No other gas will do this." Wrong, juvenile, and naïve. Add, stupid.
We’re told, in the FOX video, that “people still have trouble believing him” when Klein tells them that his fuel is water. Small wonder. That water has to first be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen through a method known as electrolysis. That process was discovered back in the 1800s, and it uses more energy than can be gained from it by burning the two components – that’s called the Conservation of Energy law, and it hasn’t yet been repealed. Cars that run “on water” have been re-invented every few years. Recently there was Steven Horvath in Australia, who sold a lot of stock to losers, Henry Garrett in Texas – in 1935 – and Stanley Meyer, who was convicted of fraud in 1996. Andrija Puharich – who also “discovered” Uri Geller! – Archie Blue, Bob Boyce, Carl Cella, Charles H. Garrett, Daniel Dingel, Hector Pierre Vaes, Nakamatsu Yoshiro, Sam Leslie Leach, Stanley Meyer, and scores of others, all came up with this same insane idea, and all fell on their collective nose.
Now, I don’t know who Craig Patrick is, nor whether he has a grade-school education, but if FOX26 News thinks they’ve got a genius on board, they’re dreaming. However, Klein will attract investors with this juvenile idea, and I’m sure someone in Washington will spend some of our tax dollars looking into it. Count on it.
Detective Bruce Walstad serves in the Franklin Park, Illinois, Police Department. He has spent much of his law enforcement career debunking psychics and protecting unwary victims. He served as president of the Professionals Against Confidence Crime [PACC] for seven years and is currently on their Board of Directors. You should read his 1993 report – link up ahead – outlining a survey he did regarding the use of “police psychics” by law enforcement officers and agencies. The scam artists would have us believe that they are regularly called in by the police to help in solving crimes, finding criminals and missing persons, and providing specific clues that aid the police. That’s hardly the case
Arthur Lyons and Marcello Truzzi's (1991) book The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime, gave the impression of objectivity in their investigation of this matter, but the astute reader soon realized that the authors were actually proponents of "The Blue Sense" – the intuitive ability that both cops and psychics are supposed to have. Famous “police psychic” – the late – Dorothy Allison made a well-publicized trip to Atlanta in 1980 that was supposed to help in the event that became known as the "Atlanta Child Murders Case." This is one rare example in which a psychic was sought out by an agency: the city of Atlanta actually invited Allison to participate. Newsweek Magazine subsequently reported, "Her much publicized snooping broke no new ground and the mother of one missing boy complained that the seer never returned her only photograph of her son." Allison gave the Atlanta police 42 possible names of the killer, all wrong.
Psychologist Dr. Martin Reiser, former Director of Behavioral Services for the Los Angeles Police Department, published the results of his own careful and extensive research in the Journal of Police Science and Administration in 1979. According to him, alleged psychics performed no better than chance and he concluded that “the usefulness of psychics as an aid in criminal investigation has not been validated.”
Refer to www.randi.org/jr/07-02-2000.html for more on this subject.
I thumbed through my files – they occupy 33 feet of file cabinet space! – and I found my 1987 file on Detective Walstad. It has fascinating drawings of crooked carnival games. Please go to pac-c.org/police%20&%20psychics.htm to see his 1993 report on “police psychics.” Since that time, many TV shows have popularized the erroneous notion that police psychics are useful, so this report could stand updating. I refer you to it as an example of a proper and careful survey that emphasizes the problem we have of presenting to the public – and the law enforcement people themselves! – just how shallow their grasp of the subject really is…
I’ve received this partial transcript, which I’ve checked out and found to be probably authentic. Before you read it, please recall that we can access literally thousands of similar examples of religious credulity and pseudoscientific drivel applied to pieces of the “True Cross,” the Holy Grail, rotating Virgin statues, a stationary Sun in the sky, holy oils and weeping/bleeding icons – to name only a few of the Christian “miracles” that are devoutly accepted and embraced as genuine by a huge number of our fellow-citizens of Earth. What follows is no sillier, nor less acceptable. These are excerpts from an interview with Abd Al-Baset Sayyid from the Egyptian National Research Center, taken from the new Islamic satellite channel, Al Risala [The Message], which describes itself as the “Latest step in the Islamic revolution,” and features guidance on items like “Islamically Acceptable Cell Phone Ring Tones,” “Islamic Clothing,” and “Islamic Audio.” Bear in mind that what follows is a direct translation, which obviously could skew the tone, literal interpretation, and actual meaning of the content as perceived by the intended listener. The interview aired on Al-Risala TV on March 9, 2006:
Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: The British Museum announced that it possessed three pieces of the black stone [of Mecca]. It declares that these pieces prove that the black stone is not from our solar system… They brought an Englishman, with white hair and a red face.
This man wasn't a Muslim, but he went into the Ka'ba [the large structure housing the black stone], and started circling it, until he had an opportunity. The stone did not have a metal frame at the time. He took a diamond and cut off three pieces.
Randi comments: First, if the Black Stone is actually a meteorite, as suspected, it most certainly is of extra-terrestrial origin, though probably not beyond our solar system. This account, of the use of a “diamond,” appears to be a very naïve – and imaginary – assumption which would require us to believe that that mineral was somehow surreptitiously employed to break off three fragments of the 12-inch stone – and that the red-faced Brit got away with defacing the single most holy artifact in Islam. Not likely. The speaker has heard – as we all have – that a diamond is the hardest known substance, and has presumed that a mere swipe would slice off pieces of the Stone…
Then he [the Englishman] went from Mecca to Jedda, and in Jedda, he found refuge in the Australian embassy, where he was welcomed as a hero. An Australian ship took him to the UK, in London. There, he brought the stones to the British Museum, and they began to study them. What was their intention? To prove that this is a plain stone, from Earth. This would mean that the stone kissed by Muslims is a regular stone.
This is an assumption of an anti-Islamic attitude and intent on the part of the British Museum, nothing more. Scientific investigations are not made with such motives in mind. Back to the interview:
Interviewer: They wanted to accuse us of...
Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: But the analysis showed otherwise.
Interviewer: What did they find?
Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: They discovered that the stone was a type of semi-conductor. Semi-conductors led to the development of electronics. Take a large radio - a radio this size. How? Instead of the light bulb we used to put inside the radio, they began to make them as small as a crystal this size.
Here we have an obvious problem with direct translation. I believe the “light bulb” reference was actually to the old-fashioned electronic “valve” [UK usage] or “tube” that was used to electronically direct the management of the raw data that entered our radio receivers and early TV sets. Remember? They actually used to burn out and had to be replaced! Since they were similar to light bulbs, in that they had a glass surrounding with one or more glowing filaments, I believe that this is the translation error, and the “small as a crystal” reference, similarly, is to a modern transistor…
If the Black Stone is actually an iron-nickel type of meteorite, it just might be a semi-conductor. But the claim made next for these metal scraps is just plain gobbledygook:
Abd Al-Baset Sayyid: Karnar from NASA took one piece of the stone from the British Museum. He charged it with 100 million telephone wires, yet the stone withstood it. This piece of stone was the size of a chickpea. He found that this stone emits invisible radiation. He found that a stone the size of a chickpea emits 100 rays. Each ray can pass through 10,000 people.
Okay, I surrender. I can’t imagine how the translation could fail this badly, and I suspect the speaker has been exposed to more hashish than he can handle and still make any sense. This is strictly Woowooland stuff…
While we’re on this subject, you should know what some followers of Islam also attribute to this Black Stone. They say that it has the power to cleanse worshippers of their sins by absorbing them into itself, thus accounting for the black color because of the sins it has soaked up over the years; it was once a pure dazzling white, they say. Others believe that on the Day of Judgment, the stone will personally testify before Allah in favor of those who kissed it. That will be a long, long, day…
Finally, to demonstrate just how naïve Abd Al-Baset Sayyid is, he tells the interviewer that Mecca is located at a special geographical spot:
Imagine that you are the North Pole and I am the South Pole – in the middle there's what is called the magnetic equilibrium zone. If you place a compass there, the needle won’t move.
There’s no such place, outside of a specially-constructed laboratory. As I say to all the other claimants, from any and all religious philosophies, “show me”….
Considering the attention I’ve given recently to the United States Patent & Trademark Office, reader Ron Womeldorff tells us:
One of the websites I visit regularly is www.patentlysilly.com. I don't remember where I found this website, but it may have even been from one of your earlier commentaries. It does go to show the overall silliness of some items that people come up with. I especially like the school bus converted into a storm shelter.
In the April 2006 issue of Fate Magazine, fantasy author Brad Steiger makes this observation:
Why do skeptics find it so difficult to believe that individuals who achieve a higher education may still maintain a belief in the paranormal? The world of the paranormal is one where effect often precedes cause, where mind often influences matter, where individuals communicate over great distances without physical aids, and where the spiritual essence of those deceased may be seen. Why, especially in an age of new theories embracing quantum physics and other dimensions, should skeptics find it difficult to believe in a world that lies beyond the five senses and the present reach of science?
This is part of the article that provoked my comments at www.randi.org/jr/2006-05/050506imminent.html#i9 on the fact that education doesn’t necessarily make anyone smart – able to handle the real world – but only educated. It’s time for me to address the body of the piece. Let’s take this Steiger item piece-by-piece. The first sentence was already dealt with in my May 5th SWIFT. The second, in sections:
The world of the paranormal is one where effect often precedes cause…
No, Mr. Steiger, there is no such world, except in the imaginary, rarified atmosphere you inhabit. This incredible notion is attributable to an intellectual exercise that Richard Feynman once pursued. He found that if we look upon time as traveling both ways, the mathematics still works, an interesting fact that titillated him. He received the Nobel Prize in physics for his brilliant “Feynman Diagram” approach to that science, and in his December 11th, 1965, prize acceptance speech he introduced the fact that there were – theoretically – particles that could move backward in time. This is a mathematical statement, not a revelation that in the real world we can expect to grow younger or revisit old times at will. As often happens, events that occur on quantum levels have been extrapolated to the world of apples and oranges, allowing the woo-woo artists to play with and distort their notions to accommodate their bizarre needs.
The world of the paranormal is one where… mind often influences matter…
Evidence please, Mr. Steiger? Do you offer spoon-bending à la Geller as an example? If so, you should try catching up on the real world we mere mortals still live in. Crap-shooters in Las Vegas, Mr. Steiger? How is it that the casinos have consistently brought in the returns that mathematics calls for, in spite of the enormous amounts of mental energy put out by the players? We’re willing to be shown…
The world of the paranormal is one where… individuals communicate over great distances without physical aids…
Really? The evidence would be found where, please? Surely you have ample examples of properly done scientific research to establish this, Mr. Steiger? Edgar Mitchell’s ESP tests from Lunar orbit to Earth, perhaps? If so, read my account of this startling breakthrough at www.randi.org/jr/05-31-2000.html, and re-think that conclusion…
The world of the paranormal is one where… the spiritual essence of those deceased may be seen…
Via John Edward or Sylvia Browne, perhaps? If so, Mr. Steiger, why don’t you encourage them to apply for the million-dollar prize offered by this Foundation? Sylvia accepted, five years ago, then got shy, but maybe John would be interested, now that he’s gotten all he can from Down Under…? Yes, it’s only a million, but might be useful for mad money… Or why don’t you, Mr. Steiger, apply on behalf of the huge crowd of psychics who people the pages of Fate Magazine?
Why, especially in an age of new theories embracing quantum physics and other dimensions, should skeptics find it difficult to believe in a world that lies beyond the five senses and the present reach of science?
Why do we find it difficult, Brad? Pay attention: because there’s no good evidence! Lots of our world “lies beyond the five senses,” but we can probe into that sector – the Hubble Telescope, for example, and electron microscopes, and when you say that a part of that world also lies beyond “the present reach of science,” that’s quite true; but tomorrow brings us a greater reach, as the day after tomorrow will, too. We’ve been patiently waiting for parapsychology to make advances, and we see nothing but promises and false starts. Yes, we giddy skeptics continue to insist on evidence, not anecdotes, and on facts, not fancies. That’s just the way we are. You, quite differently, choose to glide along, much like a cow on thin ice, hoping that another cause célèbre like Geller will come along to temporarily give you cause for excitement before that, too, fades under examination. And you are all the time listening for the cracking sounds that portend a sudden cold bath.
I’m not surprised to see the expected appeal to “quantum physics,” the advance in our thinking view that appears to be supernatural because it uses language and approaches that seem “out there.” No, physics still explains the real world, Brad, but you don’t speak that language – nor do most of us. However, science continues to advance, whether you like it or not, and dinosaurs are left behind in the advance…
Reader Dr. Christos Geordiou of the Biology Department, University of Patras, Greece, wrote me:
I am writing an article about the so-called Holy Fire, and my intension is to be published in Skeptical Inquirer. It is the most renowned miracle in the world of Eastern Orthodoxy, and happens in the Holy Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem every year with clockwork precision on Saturday noon preceding Easter Sunday. My position is that this “miracle” is a hoax.
There are many ways this “miracle” can be performed, but since the church won’t let anyone investigate, there’s no point in trying to solve it. Why are they so secretive about it? Because it’s a sham, a trick, a swindle designed to deceive the faithful. The church knows that any investigation will immediately reveal that they’ve been lying to their members.
The potassium permanganate + glycerin trick is accomplished by preparing two pharmacy-style gelatin capsules, one with the KMnO4 crystals, the other with glycerin (glycerol) (C3H8O3). They are taped together, then concealed within the cloth, paper, or other flammable material. When the material is crushed so as to fracture both capsules together, the mixed contents produce a powerful exothermic chemical reaction that ignites the package. The permanganate, a powerful – poisonous – oxidizing chemical in the form of dark purple crystals, can be obtained at any store selling water-purifying supplies. The glycerin – a harmless, thick, clear, syrupy liquid, is found at any pharmacy.
Dr. Geordiou also asked me about the “setting oneself on fire” trick also performed at these religious ceremonies. I answered him:
The mixture of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and carbon bisulphide (disulphide) (CS2) – both clear liquids – is about 50% of each. It is not too highly inflammable, but can easily be ignited. The result is a pale blue flame, which can only be seen in subdued light. Neither liquid should be imbibed, and should be washed off the skin quickly.
These are both carnival stunts that have been used for decades by sideshow performers. And perhaps during religious services?
From reader Paula Nicholson:
It seems like a very long time since we last exchanged emails late last year over the Larry Montz/ISPR exposure that I was doing at the time. www.randi.org/jr/200511/110405please.html#i2
JREF Forum Admin Darat suggested that you may be interested in hearing of some interesting stuff that's come up during our investigations of UK self-styled “psychic medium profiler” Joe Power, a man who has attempted to build his career on a variety of unsubstantiated claims ranging from:
Receiving a message from John Lennon in the recent US pay-per-view séance.
Learning, from murdered teenage model Sally Anne Bowman, the name of her killer.
Providing the police with help in a number of murder investigations detailed on his web site in a series of sympathetic articles. See www.joepower.co.uk/articles.asp
However Power's main claim throughout his career stems from the help he claims to have provided to police in 2000 in the Lynsey Quy case. He has repeatedly implied that he was responsible for providing information that directly led police to the discovery of her remains. In fact, the murderer, Mitchell Quy, once he was charged, identified the locations himself.
Enquiries to the Merseyside police have further confirmed this to be the case, with an emphatic denial from the senior investigating officer that Power was involved. If you'd like to know more, the full article is now displayed at theskepticexpress.com/Joe_Power_the_Lynsey_Quy_case.php which you are of course welcome to use if you'd like. Our very new site is at theskepticexpress.com
Friend Chip Denman sends us to www.ramtha.com, where J.Z. Knight – of one-time “Ramtha” fame – is apparently running low on money, and is now offering her fans a plan to get rich… As part of that plan, her blurb tells the suckers:
Fabulous wealth is a by-product of extraordinary mind. Learn the secret of fabulous wealth from Ms. Knight, who has created fabulous wealth in her own life. Open to the public. $700.
Hey, that’s the whole secret right there, folks! Charge folks $700 to tell them how to do what you just did to them!
I’ll bet that J.Z. tells her audience that the secret of getting fabulously wealthy is to (a) come up with a hare-brained story – an Atlantean warrior, blue octopuses in volcanoes, or magical pyramids will do – (b) tour around doing funny voices and dropping the words “quantum” and “vibrations” a lot, then (c) when you run out of money again, offer to teach other people how to do the same scheme, in order to get rich again… And charge $700.
She’ll fill the auditorium…
This weekend – June 2–4 – Michael Shermer’s group will try to disentangle politics and opinion from the real science about our planet’s health. Go to www.environmentalwars.org to register. You’ll meet and hear John Stossel – ABC-TV’s co-anchor of “20/20” – as well as author Michael Crichton of “Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park” fame. Though the Sunday optional geology tour is now sold out, you can still enjoy and benefit from the wise words of authorities such as Dr. Paul MacCready, Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore, and nine other environmentalists.
I hate to tell you, but you’re stuck here on Earth, at least for a few generations. Come to Caltech and find out if and how our planet will survive…!
Hint: yes, it’ll survive…
And The Unsinkable Jerry Andrus will be there!
First, let’s try to understand one important example of Scientology-Speak: the word “assist.” As a noun, this means a two-fingered gesture – see the accompanying photos – in which the “Volunteer Minister” [VM] points at the person being “assisted.” And that’s all! There are “Nerve Assists” – pointing – and “Touch Assists,” in which the victim is actually touched. And there are “Body Comms,” as well, which are even more mysterious… So, when you read that the VMs or Scientology crews provided “assists,” that’s what’s being referred to…
In Florida, the local Church of Scientology turns out a magazine titled, Agreement. Here we found a lengthy set of articles on “When Disaster Strikes,” appealing for members to take “Volunteer Minister” training – and it’ll cost them, be assured. So just what and who is a Volunteer Minister? From the horse’s mouth, LRH himself:
…a Volunteer Minister is a person who helps his fellow man on a volunteer basis by restoring purpose, truth and spiritual values to the lives of others.
A Volunteer Minister does not shut his eyes to the pain, evil and injustice of existence. Rather, he is trained to handle these things and help others achieve relief from them and new personal strength as well.
How does a Volunteer Minister accomplish these miracles? Basically, he uses the technology of Scientology to change conditions for the better – for himself, his family, his groups, friends, associates and for mankind.
How is this done? How is the VM trained? He uses “LRH organization technology from The Scientology Handbook.” Really? That’s shortened, in Scientology-Speak, to “LRH Tech,” and it means pointing at and/or touching the afflicted! All through the Agreement document, we find no mention that the fabulously wealthy Church of Scientology gave any funding or relief supplies in the 9/11 disaster, the Asian tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, or the earthquake in Pakistan. Though they were swarming everywhere, prominently seen in their yellow shirts, aside from clearing some road traffic, they settled for LRH Tech, pointing at victims. They claimed:
…The wins were legion.
One intensive-care patient with multiple fractures and rampant infection had been hovering on the edge of death for five days when the Touch Assist began. Forty-five minutes later he was joking with the nurses, medical treatment then worked, and he is now fully recovered.
Can we suspect that maybe – just maybe – the actual medical attention helped a little to bring about this recovery?
Incidentally, The Scientology Handbook, which the Florida chapter estimates at “about 400 pages,” sells for $100, but the coupon in Agreement offers it at “10% discount,” which they figure brings it to $80. Hmmm. They also advertise “The Volunteer Minister Course” – regularly $250 – at that same discount, but they sell it for $200. I guess this is mathematics according to LRH, whose words must never be disbelieved, misquoted or altered. Hallelujah.
Reading on in Agreement about the actual help the VMs have brought to suffering mankind, we see:
And in the aftermath of 9/11, our army of Volunteer Ministers has taken on an even greater role: as a major disaster relief force, often first on the scene, promptly providing whatever is needed to immediately handle the suffering and bring order in the midst of confusion.
“Providing whatever is needed”? “First on the scene,” yet with no medication, food, shelter, funds, beds? Giving out only finger-pointing and touching? To a Scientologist, this may be believed to be a huge boon, but to the rest of us, it’s L. Ron Hubbard at his woo-woo best, devising magical gestures that are supposed to bring about the “miracles” – to quote how LRH himself referred to them, above.
Referring to the VM presence in Indonesia, Agreement magazine said:
Given the overwhelming number of casualties, it was essential to train the local people. First hatted [Scientology-Speak for “instructed”] on Assist technology were the surviving relatives of patients in the hospital wards, then nurses, doctors and emergency personnel…
From village to village the VMs moved in and delivered thousands of assists. Others seeing the miracle results came on board in droves. Indonesian commanders ordered additional tents to set up VM centers and our VMs trained their squads on assists.
In Northeastern Sumatra, the vice-governor converted his home into a VM command center. It was there that everyone – from United Nations relief team members to psychologists with the rehabilitation department – were trained on basic Touch and Nerve Assists.
Please remember: an “assist” is pointing a finger, nothing more. And these VMs “trained” otherwise useful people to waste their time pointing at the injured?
Hey, I just had an inspiration! This Scientology “assist” notion can certainly be tested, easily. If a person can tell whether or not they’ve been “assisted,” in a simple double-blind test, that would qualify for the JREF prize. Will the Church of Scientology apply for the million dollars? No, I think not.
Reader Peter Donnelly informs us:
Your notice of the Alberta Hutterites claiming exemption from having picture ID did not tell the worst of it: their claim has now been recognized by the court. See www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/05/10/hutterite-photos-drivers.html
This kind of nonsense makes me glad I have escaped Canada, at least till the cost of health care in the U.S. drives me back again. Here in Washington State, my son is not allowed to carry a penknife to school, but in Canada the Supreme Court has recognized the "right" of Sikh children to carry daggers into the classroom. RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police] officers are also allowed to wear religious headgear, thus proclaiming that their primary allegiance is to a belief system rather than to the civil law that they are supposed to be enforcing.
In India, there are people whose religious beliefs require them to go naked. One wonders if the courts of Canada would also allow them to attend public schools or join the police force.
I’d give a nickel to see a policeman of that Indian persuasion, in a Canadian winter… But then, I’ve always been a pragmatist.
Reader Aaron Drabitt:
Two things came to mind while I was reading your Dr. Tony Lawrence www.randi.org/jr/2006-05/051906sylvia.html#i6 article:
1. I've been a fan of "home improvement" television shows since I was a kid and many of those shows involve weather-proofing homes for cold climates. Often the contractors in these episodes, called in to investigate drafts and other sources of heat loss in the home, would use sophisticated tools like smoke sticks to follow an air leak to its exit point around a poorly weather-sealed window, or to an open chimney damper...not once did they ever suggest it was due to a haunting!
2. A world with only Richard Dawkins and no Pope is the definition of "paradise on earth" is it not?
“Only” Richard Dawkins? Well, Richard would need an audience, and some company…
Again, the Florida Church of Scientology has provided us with more fodder. We provide translation where required. Quoting directly from the deathless words of their dead guru, L. Ron Hubbard, they give us this:
Some time ago I realized the resolution of this scene would require a powerful tech [technique], tailored to check this downward spiral at each step of the way and get it reverting upwards [reversed]. I set about to study and research and develop processes that would accomplish this.
The result of that work is Super Power [a magical force they’ll teach you – for a price]. Super Power is the answer to a sick, a dying and dead society. With it we literally revive the dead [actually, really, resurrect corpses]!
With it we have the means to put Scientologists into a new realm of ability enabling them to create a new world!
Well, I freely admit that reviving the dead would create a new world, Ron. I’d need more evidence than usual to accept your assurances on this, but I’m willing to be shown. Shoot Tom Cruise and/or John Travolta, then revive one or the other, and I’m yours forever…!
In answer to those of you who have inquired about my state of health, I will say that rehabilitation continues apace, I’m doing my exercises as I’m required, and I’m back to about 2/3 of my work load. It’s difficult to keep in mind that I have to cut back and learn to relax more – but I’m determined to be in condition for the August 27th – September 2nd Amaz!ng Adventure – Escape from the Bermuda Triangle, which is only for those not of faint heart, of course. Registration presently stands at 60! You can still join us if you hurry: registration closes on June 15.
Years ago, I did a film titled, “James Randi in Australia.” It can now be seen at video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7461912885649996034 courtesy of both Richard Saunders and Dick Smith – it was Dick who produced it and gave permission for its use. Lots of dowsers with various whirligigs – and the usual amount of success.
And, I was recently interviewed for the The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, which is available from www.theskepticsguide.org or via iTunes. Search for the show dated 5/24/2006 if you don't see my countenance upon the main page. We discussed faith healing, toupees, patents, and other questionable things.
Next week, a massive failure of prayer, and the USPTO, again…