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Sometimes, organizations just go so far out of the way to be stupid, that the characteristics of their clients become obvious. As I regularly say, you just can’t invent this stuff; it takes morons to do that job. A French “beauty group” named “Clarins” will launch in January what it says is the world's first spray designed to protect skin from the electromagnetic radiation created by mobile phones and electronic devices like laptops. How? Explains the company flack:
The spray contains molecules derived from microorganisms living near undersea volcanoes and from plants which survive in extreme conditions such as alongside motorways and in Siberia.
Lemme see, now. Molecules from microorganisms would include H2O, ethyl alcohol, NaCl, SiO2, – perhaps we could just spread on salted algae paste mixed with beer and sand…? This is just such a juvenile bit of crap that it almost seems like a bit straight from Monty Python.
In the same tradition of idiocy, the JREF periodically gets spurious applications for the million-dollar prize that the senders think are just hilarious, but which provide extra work for us simply because there appears to be no limit on how juvenile real applicants can really get, to make genuine attempts at the prize. The joke is often not at all apparent. Soon, here on SWIFT, I’ll give you a few genuine claims mixed in with the purposely ho-ho ones, for you to sort out. Telling the difference, as you’ll see, isn’t all that easy…
At www.randi.org/jr/2006-11/112406water.html#i11 we saw how magician Uri Geller’s new TV show in Israel was not exactly wowing the country. Correspondent Avital Pilpel sends us these additional review notes:
A reporter for Maariv, Adia Amri Or, writes that the show was boring, though she sees a paranormal phenomenon in the fact that so many people watched it. She mentions positively a documentary on Geller which was broadcasted a week before – because it showed the dark side of Geller as well, including his failures. However, she says that the documentary claimed that "tests in Stanford University and the Weizmann institute [in Israel] showed the man has real paranormal powers." No doubt the former is the reference to the infamous Stanford Research Institute examination by Targ & Puthoff; I have no information about the Weizmann test. Most revealingly, she noted that in the documentary Geller admits that, had he tried to start his career today, he would fail because the skeptics would have found it much quicker to reach a mass audience in their criticism of him due to the Internet!
Another reporter, Ariana Melamed, for Yediot Aharonot, notes that since Geller is "surrounded by a team of lawyers that threaten anybody who exposes his tricks," she will not say anything about it, but asks the reader to "check out Wikipedia's [very critical] article about him and take it from there." After severely criticizing the show's production values, she notes that the would-be "successors" all have Geller's "most important trait," namely, "the ability not to smile as they perform a dirty little magic trick they are well aware of, although some in the audience are not." She notes that the performers' magic tricks are, on the whole, exceedingly amateurish. Most importantly, she admits that she has no idea how one of the tricks on the show (breaking a glass by "concentrating" on it without touching it) is done, but quite rightly says: "My ignorance doesn't prove [the performer] has paranormal powers; it only proves I'm ignorant."
Best of all was the interview today (three pages, including the cover page!) in the opinion section of "Maariv", where Keren Zur interviewed Nimrod Harel, a mentalist. He has a show called "The Art of Amazement" on the stage, and another – in its third season! – on Israeli TV, under the name "Inconceivable!" He performs “telekinesis” and spoon-bending, reads minds, hypnotizes people, etc., etc. He amazed the reporter with a few offhand tricks, as well. He likes "extreme" tricks where he seems to risk his life (ring a bell, Mr. Randi?) and his skeptical attitude seems vaguely familiar, too...
Randi comments: Please don’t imply that I have ever sold the “death-defying” angle as part of my performance; that would insult my audience. It was always made clear that I was safe, though perhaps in a scary environment… Mr. Pilpel continues:
The central part of the Zur/Harel interview:
HAREL: All that I am doing is done by tricks and manipulations everybody can learn. I have no paranormal powers, and I think there is no such thing. I believe in skepticism, critical thinking and fighting superstition and cheapo mysticism. One of my goals is to fight all the mystics, healers, prophets, and seers, who bamboozle people and take their money.
ZUR: Did you ever meet a mystic who convinced you he has special powers?
HAREL: No. In 15 years, I believe I met hundreds of them – all were charlatans.
ZUR: You doubt astrologers, too?
HAREL: All those I checked spoke nothing but nonsense.
ZUR: And graphologists?
HAREL: Them as well.
ZUR: One doesn't need to be a mind reader to say you dislike Geller.
HAREL: ...I am critical of the way he uses his showmanship. I tell him to return to his real calling, entertainment. How can he sleep at night?... Did you read the interview with him over the weekend [in the Israeli press]?
ZUR: I did.
HAREL: He says that at some point he could have woken up [ex-Prime Minister] Sharon from his coma, but his sons refused. Now, imagine you're one of Sharon's sons, and he comes to you with such an offer. What kind of emotional turmoil does this cause? He disappoints me... once he claims he can cure people, that he has supernatural powers due to meeting aliens at age seven or something like that, he is a traitor to the conjuring profession.
ZUR: Are you, like Geller, recognized by the public?
HAREL: ...I get about fifty phone calls a day from people who want help: women who want to conceive, people who want a curse removed. I give them all the same answer: I don't do this sort of thing, and I recommend they should not stick with mystical and superstitious beliefs, either.
Geller isn't the only one who seems to have found a successor...
There’s more from the Israeli media. A Haifa fifth-grader was evacuated to a local hospital after he stopped breathing and fainted while he attempted to emulate one of the contestants on Geller's show. He was treated for bruises to the forehead and chin. The boy’s uncle urged a restriction on the age of viewers for Geller's program. "I think the segment [on the show] where a person stopped his pulse could lead kids to do all sorts of silly things. What happened today could have been a catastrophe. There was no warning that the show is not appropriate for children." Or perhaps only appropriate for children…?
In response to this, the show's producers said that the tricks performed on the show were executed by people with "special abilities," and therefore viewers were asked not to attempt to try them at home. What “special abilities”? Magic tricks? The producers have already shown their lack of good judgment in airing this farce; they should start getting smart, and a good beginning is reading the available literature – or consulting with Mr. Nimrod Harel, who seems to have his head screwed on tightly.
Despite the strong presence of such skeptics as Barry Williams and Phillip Adams, reader Michael Karabogias tells us, “researchers” at Monash University now want to hear from people about their experiences of premonitions, out-of-body and near-death episodes, telepathy and apparitions. They’ve launched an international online survey, “The Nature, Incidence and Impact of Spontaneous Paranormal Experiences,” which they say seeks to gather “information about people's experiences of paranormal events that defy scientific explanation.” Senior lecturer at the Monash Faculty of Education, Dr. Beverley Jane is the one in charge of this journey to nowhere. Monash researcher Ms. Rosemary Breen has actually stated that:
There has been an explosion of interest in the paranormal in recent years, so much so that it is now considered mainstream and part of everyday contemporary life for many people. It is also the central tenet of most cultures, and some of the earliest reports of paranormal phenomena are found in ancient scriptures including the Talmud, the New Testament and Old Testament of the Bible and the Kabbalah.
No, Ms. Breen, not the paranormal, but reports of the paranormal have plagued us throughout history. Despite earnest – and many not-so-earnest – efforts, no parapsychologist has yet produced one positive, replicable and replicated, experiment; it’s been a colossal decades-long waste of time, talent, and funding. Even the famous Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory (PEAR), that highly controversial participant in the University’s research community, will close up for good next spring, ending 27 years of exploring mind-matter interactions in a scientific context. “International Consciousness Research Laboratories,” a group associated with PEAR, supported research there in recent years, but with most of the lab’s funding now evaporating, and still no positive, replicated, findings, PEAR will be terminated.
Monash will, in the words of Dr. Jane, be:
…adding to the volume of academic literature on spontaneous paranormal events, and helping raise the level of understanding about the immediate and long term effects of such phenomena on the individual and on society.
Yep. Another pile of useless, expensive, academic, paper…
Re the “Lifewave” patches, I looked into a DVD titled, “The Real Story Behind the Patches,” issued by the patch people… One authority cited by them is a Dr. Steven Haltiwanger, MD, CCN, said to be an expert in "bioenergetics." (A CCN degree is in “Computer and Communication Networks,” whatever that means.) He cites double-blind tests done with horses receiving the patches, pointing out that horses "don't believe in placebo effects." How true, but those who interpret the horses’ reactions, do, Dr. Haltiwanger. He also proudly points out that nothing from these silly patches goes into the body. Well, how does the body know what’s been applied to it? Explains this strange person, this forward leap in science is:
... a way of wirelessly transmitting information into the human body. This is all organic electronics... when you take the patches and put them on the body – the body's sending out energy in the form of infrared – they’re interacting with the patches. A signal is sent back into the body that tells the body to perform an action in a better way. So, if the body’s already burning fat, it tunes up the body to fat burning. If the body’s making protein for muscles...
A moment, please. What the hell is this “organic electronics”? Are electric eels involved? What language is being invoked here, anyway? Do horses’ bodies also speak this language? But let him ramble on:
We literally have electrical currents running through the body. They're called “biocurrents,” and they have their measurable currents... Most physicians don't have the physics background that they require in order to understand about physical mechanisms... we can use our technology as a biological signaling mechanism to wirelessly transmit signals to help the cells of the muscles to grow larger... (he’s questioned about this by the interviewer) You can talk into a little piece of plastic and electronics and hear someone else's voice on it – it's called a cell phone. It's not really that complicated. Now, I may not be able to draw a circuit diagram, but I can push the button. With these patches, you can put the patches on the human body, you can see an effect…
Nope. No matter how much drivel the man delivers, it’s still drivel. And he’s an MD and a CCN? Seems like a waste of good diploma paper, to me…
Reader and correspondent Eric Krieg sent me this news flash from one of the loony sites he came upon. It’s hosted by one Nicole Whitney, who appears to be somewhat short of marbles. This is exactly as it appeared, punctuation and all:
IMPORTANT UPDATE: 57 Spoonbending Kits Available!!
Read about it online at www.newsforthesoul.com/spoonbendingkit.html.
On 9-11 of this year, the mail-out Spoonbending Kits were discontinued. But once all the remaining kits were mailed out and the dust had settled here, I discovered 57 remaining Spoonbending Kits which I'm making available to the next 57 people who order now – just in time for 'holiday shopping'!! (You'll receive the instantly downloadable version AS WELL AS the Full Kit for only $50 which includes FREE shipping / handling plus you will receive the audio and video instructions, success stickers and of course the spoons - one I've bent for you and one for you to bend with the power of your own mind. :-) ... A great gift for yourself ... or to share!
Is she serious? Well, I think so. There’s no accounting for how deluded folks can get. The only other possibility is that Nicole knows exactly what she’s doing, and hopes that Santa will bring her $2,850 from grateful readers. Up ahead, you’ll see that we made her a much more handsome offer…
At this point, the vendor’s Paypal icon was inserted, then the nonsense continued, with details!:
ABOUT THE ONE AND ONLY SPOONBENDING KIT at NEWS FOR THE SOUL:::
YOU REALLY CAN DO THIS! For real. Everyone can. In fact most of you will be bending spoons on the same day you receive this kit!!! And you will be able to show others how to do it - with success! In the kit you'll receive everything you need to learn how to bend metal with the power of your mind ... and show others! This gift is TOTALLY FREE for anyone who donates $50. Thanks to all of you who are helping me keep News for the Soul free for the world to hear!
Note that suddenly this isn’t a sales pitch; it’s a charity appeal, asking for “donations” of $50.
SPOONBENDING KIT DETAILS:
SpoonBending With Show Host Nicole Whitney!
Recently I announced the release of a free incentive gift on News for the Soul - "The CD" which is a truly life changing audio documentary that covers everything from the amazing News for the Soul's beginnings, proof of remote viewing, enlightened-warrior-ship, transcending limitation through firewalking and spoonbending and so much more .... "THE CD" has turned out to be exceptionally popular and has sparked a huge barrage of requests for SPOONBENDING LESSONS. Well, I am very pleased to announce that I've put together a SPOON BENDING KIT that will get anyone bending metal with their minds in no time!
For real. This is not a "trick" or an illusion (what would be empowering about that??). You can only KNOW that it is real by having your own direct experience. Feeling the metal change in your hands and knowing YOU did that - through intention. And we can ALL do this.
Believe me if I can do this ANYONE can! I was the second last person at my News for the Soul Spoonbending for Peace event in 2003 to successfully bend a spoon. In my mind I was thinking "I have to bend this stupid spoon because it will look bad if the event host can't do it and everyone else can!" which, of course, is why it took me so long to bend the darn thing. But bend it I did.
And I've been bending spoons ever since.
What amazed me the most was how simple it was!
And how easy!
And how profound.
Well, I’ll go along with those last four comments, except that “nerdy” isn’t spelled “p-r-o-f-o-u-n-d.” Yes, any fool can bend a spoon, unless severely challenged physically. But here comes the notion that this Nicole can teach others to be as nutty as she is. And, you know, she apparently can! Read on…
Over the following months and years, I heard myself repeatedly telling people "I can show you how to bend a spoon with your mind in 60 seconds - no problem" - and I did! I've shown 1000s of people how to do it already. Anywhere there's cutlery and an open mind, I'm there ... bending spoons :-) ....
Excellent question! Do tell us…
Because it's not "MY" gift. We ALL can do this. And through this simple exercise we become more aware of at least a piece of what our truer nature is. But don't take my word for it. Get your SPOONBENDING KIT and have your own direct experience.
Nicole, that “truer nature” may be something we don’t really want to know about. Not even a “piece” of it, if it turns out to be a goofy idea about going around bending spoons… Ah, but what treasures are to be found in The Kit?
YOUR SPOONBENDING KIT WILL INCLUDE:
* video instructions on CD.
* audio instructions on CD.
* an actual spoon bent by NFTS host Nicole Whitney!
* a fresh spoon ready for you to bend...
* audio from NFTS archives including our interview with Uri Geller and other exciting highlights including coverage of our first spoonbending event in Vancouver and more!
Note: Much of the content will be designed to help you "get your mind out of the way long enough to bend a spoon".
Ah yes, that would be necessary, of course. Abandon any common sense, deny anything about the real world that’s ever stopped you from being an idiot, and just believe anything and everything. Get all that cumbersome rationality “out of the way.”
HOW TO RECEIVE YOUR SPOONBENDING KIT
I am not selling the spoonbending kit. There is only one way to get it. In the interest of energy for energy support, I am giving it away for free as an incentive gift for anyone who donates $50 or more to our airtime and web costs at News for the Soul!
Our shows are all free all the time and the free incentive gifts are made available to help keep it that way. And to maintain the integrity of that arrangement I will keep it that way, rather than making it available for sale in the future.
So get your spoonbending kit today. You will be glad you did.
Nicole’s idea of “free” differs from mine, as so do most of her ideas… But beware, she tells us:
A word of warning ??
Once you start bending spoons (and forks and what have you) you may find it difficult to ... ah. .... stop. I eventually purchased plastic picnic cutlery after repeatedly running out of useable silverware in the house. (Although you can apply the same techniques to "unbend" them but where's the fun in that?!) Anyway, happy spoonbending . . .
So, there are very real risks to be handled when you’ve reached Nicole’s proficiency, folks. Plastic spoons? Ugh!
You can order one of the last kits below or here before it's too late: www.newsforthesoul.com/spoonbendingkit.htm
A number of letters to Nicole from satisfied/deluded customers followed, all of which can be seen at the URL above. Tedious, though hilarious, so I’ll only give you one of them here:
SPOONBENDER FEEDBACK FROM DR EFFIE CHOW, Qi Gong Teacher from San Francisco California: "I love your tape on spoon bending and I did it right with you! Thank you, I am glad I sent for it. Actually I had done it a few years ago and like you, am fascinated with it. I do it to keep my energy up and active in between working with people! You were smarter, you made a "Learning Package" for it. ...You are marvelous on air and you folks are doing a great job in bringing out the unusual and spectacular!! My congratulations and best wishes, in Loving Qi and Regards...
Unable to resist – as you might have expected – I fired off this notice to Nicole:
Hey, we have news for you! Rather than just sending out spoon bending kits, you could win an easy million dollars just by bending one spoon with your mind. We can’t wait to receive your application! Go to www.randi.org/research/index.html for the details.
And promptly, I heard back from Nicole:
From: ||||| Soul News ||||| [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, November 24, 2006 3:33 PM
To: James Randi
Subject: Re: shortcut...
Dear Mr Randi;
Thanks for your generous offer, Mr Randi, but I must respectfully decline your prize. Your idea would not actually serve as any such "SHORTCUT" for me because my journey is to empower the world with truth, not 'make a million dollars'. The spoonbending kits offer individuals a 'direct experience' with their own true nature and all proceeds support our TOTALLY free audio archive located online at www.newsforthesoul.com/moreshows1.htm.
I do have a very positive alternative to suggest for you though - one that would actually result in you keeping your million dollars - for yourself!!
I do not have 'special powers' any more than any one else does. The fact of the matter is we are ALL special and the power of our intent is what's driving all of our boats through life, so to speak. That is my experience. But the ONLY way you're going to prove ANYTHING to yourself is by actually having YOUR OWN DIRECT EXPERIENCE. You can bend metal with your mind, Mr Randi. And just think - if you could actually get your own mind out of your way you could experience that for yourself - and keep your million dollars!
Well good luck with your path and thanks again for the swell offer.
Nicole M. Whitney
For those of you who don’t speak MealyMouth, I provide this translation:
I can’t do what I claim I can do, and I don’t dare try to offer any proof, because I know I’d get caught at it. Bluffing and appealing to higher motives will convince my naïve customers that I’m noble, selfless, and misunderstood. Without this sappy claim, I’m just another nut-case, and I have to protect the only thing I’ve got going for me. Ditsy is “in,” and it’s my specialty.
The JREF received – anonymously – a photocopy of the documentation that was issued to those hundreds of “instant psychics” hired by “Miss Cleo” known locally here in Florida as actress Youree Dell Harris. It’s the training script that was given to newly-hired phone workers of the organization. Harris gained fame in a series of infomercials where she portrayed a Jamaican psychic who would give readings via the telephone for a fee. Of course, when a sucker called in, one of the phone workers answered, saying that Miss Cleo was busy with another caller. To everyone’s astonishment except ours, it turned out that Ms. Harris was in fact not Jamaican, and not psychic! She claims that she was only paid to be in the infomercial. In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission charged the Miss Cleo promoters with deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices. It’s all at www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/02/accessresource.htm. The organization is no longer operating, and the operators have been counting their money ever since. See the many previous references on SWIFT.
The following short selection from the booklet will indicate just how vapid, vague, meaningless, and trite – as well as manipulative – the material was, that made millions for the promoters. This was the script they would read, personalizing it for the sucker who'd called in. And remember, the sucker is paying by the minute, so it was advisable to speak slowly...
(first name of victim), I must tell you that as soon as I heard your voice I picked up some very positive energy that is coming from you which tells me that you have a wonderful spirit. I always feel that things happen for a reason, and that there is a special reason why you picked up the phone at the exact moment which you did and reached me. If you would have picked up the phone a minute before or a minute after you would have reached another psychic. I want you to know that I feel that we have a special connection, and I know that I can help you with any questions that you may have concerning any of the happenings that are going on in your life right now.
Without saying another word, I can feel that you are a very sensitive, warm and intelligent person. You are very spiritually evolved and not afraid to explore the unknown... but I see a need for a little more balance in your life at this time. You see, many times you kind of find yourself flying off into never, never land and perhaps losing sight of your goals. I want you to know that you are basically a very strong person, though, too often I see that you doubt you own abilities and judgments, don't you?
Well, I can see that this is going to be a very exciting reading and I feel privileged to be the person who is going to do it for you.
(first name of victim), today I am going to give you a psychic reading, and then I am going to give you a tarot reading.
I'd like you to be thinking of the types of questions that you would like to ask me, and perhaps write them down as they come to mind. If I should say something that triggers a question just jot it down so you don’t forget to ask me.
First, I am going to tell you something that you have been wondering about, hoped for, suspected, or maybe even felt that you know about. In any case, I am going to verify it for you. Then I am going to do a tarot reading.
I think that you are going to be very pleasantly surprised because I am picking up a lot of positive energy that is coming from you. If I should say something that you disagree with, just stop me and let me know and I will explain using different words, and you will see how it applies to you after all.
Now, the first thing that I can see about you is that you are a very honest person (first name of victim), you are very straightforward in your dealings with people. Your approach to life is very earnest and open. You have an adult way of seeing things. You are very broad-minded, and tolerant of all people. Even if someone is very different from you, you know how to except [sic] the person for who he is, and what he is. You don't believe in any kind of deceit or pretension, as a matter of fact the standards you set for yourself are unusually high. People admire you and respect you because you are so tolerant of others.
You trust others, but in return you expect others to trust you as well. I don’t see you as a person who is suspicious or envious, and people enjoy your company because you are friendly and easygoing. Those that are close to you know that you can be depended on. They know that if they really need you for something important you will be there for them.
When I do a reading I like to keep my eyes closed, this wav can block out everything in my. Environment, and concentrate on you and picking up on the energy that is coming from you. Sometimes when I do that, it enables me to have a vision. When I am talking to you now I keep on seeing something over and over again that I feel compelled to share with you.
It is a tower, it is a tall… tall tower. As a matter of fact it looks like it has a little room up above because I can see a window there. But the strange thing about the tower is that it is leaning over to the side. It almost looks as if it were falling. And that means that you are to expect a change. It is got to be a sudden change in your life, and that change is going to be in a relationship or in a vocation. Now when I say a change, a sudden change, I sort of sense that perhaps some of these changes have already begun to take place. True? What happened?
(this is a good time for you to ask the caller questions)
Well, let me tell you what I see… Completely surrounding this tower there is a lot of light. The light is hitting the tower from all directions, it is totally illuminating the tower… and that means that things are going to go well for you. You are going to be getting a lot of happiness out of life. It means that marriage is going to be good for you, you are going to be getting a lot of pleasure out of just being with your partner. In other words, even if there is a whole lot of nothing going on you are still going to be getting pleasure, one being with the other.
Q.1 – Name of other persons.
Q.2 – Age or DOB.
Q.3 – Tell me three quick things about that person.
(if caller is a male)
Now in marriage, something is going to happen where you are going to end up being very successful, and it is all going to be because of your partner. It’s not that your partner is going to do it for you or push you to do it. But you see your partner has a very feminine influence as a matter of fact many people consider this person to be perfect and that’s because of a tendency to nurture, and that is why people love being around your partner and when your spouse loves someone that tends to be an unconditional love. Now like I said… it is not going to be that this person is going to do it for you, or push you to do it… but it is going to be the atmosphere, the atmosphere that is created in the home… the atmosphere with the unconditional love, and the nurturing that is going to have a lot of influence over you and motivate you to your best foot forward to do whatever it takes to become successful.
(if the caller is a female)
Now in marriage, I see that something is going to happen where your husband is going to be very successful, and it is going to be all because of you. Now, it is not going to be that you are going to push him to do it, or that you are going to be doing it for him. But you see… one thing about you is that you have a very strong feminine influence… as a matter of fact many people out there really consider you to be a perfect woman, and that's because you have a tendency to nurture people, and that's why people love being around you. And when you love someone that love is an unconditional love. Now like I said… it is not that you are going to do it for him, or push him to do it… but it is going to be because of the atmosphere, the atmosphere that you create in the home… the atmosphere with the unconditional love, and the nurturing that is going to have a lot of influence over him and motivate him to put his best foot forward and do whatever it takes to become successful.
It goes on and on, for 19 pages of drivel. For all I know, this was copied from previous similar documents that have made fortunes for their entrepreneurs.
Reader “Jeff” in Surprise, Arizona, writes:
This article was printed in my local Phoenix, Arizona, newspaper [The Arizona Republic]. I see stuff like this in the paper all the time. I've been a big fan of your work for a while now. Keep up the good work.
The article was headed, “Woman 'sees' people right down to their cells with her special gift.” A Laura Kamm claims to be an “intuitive healer,” otherwise a woman from the Midwest, a graduate from Ohio State University. According to Kamm, she woke up on a Super Bowl Sunday 25 years ago feeling just awful; she was diagnosed with a brain abscess in the back of her head that ultimately required eight hours of surgery to remove. Then, she says, her new talent began to emerge; now, she says she can "see" people down to their cells, seeing colors that tell their state of health, and any “disease or imbalance.” Seeing colors that aren’t there, is one symptom of possible brain malfunction, I should add.
Re her acceptance as a magical healer, Kamm says, "I think it helps that I am from Ohio. That my father was a Presbyterian minister. I'm pretty down-to-Earth." Her treatment seems simple enough. She says, on that process, “I pray that they will listen to what their gut is telling them. I pray for them to go see a doctor. I pray for them and then I let it go." So no one but God gets blamed when the patient doesn’t recover?
A Dr. Mark Hoch is a former Phoenix physician, a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Pittsburgh. About Kamm, he confidently states, "She has one of those amazing talents. She can see things down to the cellular level. There is no real answer for her gift. But she has it." Okay, then Hoch and Kamm could collect the JREF million-dollar prize – but they have no interest in it, which is very strange indeed. Dr. Hoch is a former President of the American Holistic Medical Association, and about Kamm he authoritatively says:
As a holistic physician well versed in energy medicine, I highly recommend Laura Alden Kamm as an impressive healer and teacher. Laura is exceptionally accurate in reading the specific energies of disorder in my most challenging patients. She is exceptionally consistent too. I know I can rely upon her expertise. As I have studied with her I whole heartedly recommend her excellent workshops.
In addition, Hoch claims:
…after talking to Laura about a patient with breast cancer, the results arrived. In every single place Laura had said there was cancer [there was] – it was exactly where she said, down to the size and shape.
That’s a quotation from an article in Prime Time Health, surely an excellent source of dependable information? In that case, a simple 30-minute test of Ms. Kamm – with Dr. Hoch in attendance if desired, of course, would win our million-dollar prize quickly and definitively, if she can produce such a result. But we won’t hear from either of these folks, despite the fact that I’ve contacted the editor of the Arizona Republic…
See http://www.randi.org/jr/200512/121605local.html#i1 for details about a Linda Marks, 58, one of the many local “psychics” in the South Florida area. In May, she was sentenced to four years in federal prison for scamming people out of more than $2 million, and just picked up another 2½ years behind bars for bilking a woman out of $39,000. She pleaded guilty to grand theft of a person over 65 as well as probation violation. She was ordered to pay 70-year-old Anna Stek $39,074, though it's not likely Stek will see much or any of that, since Marks has a restitution order in Federal Court for $2.5 million.
The interesting part of this case is that a former Delray Beach detective named Jack Makler helped Marks stay out of jail for years by using his influence as a law officer and earned himself five years in federal custody for doing so. Marks' state sentence will run concurrent with her federal time.
Reader Ken Rice tells us:
Regarding the SWIFT article [at www.randi.org/jr/2006-11/112406water.html#i10] about the bogus patent claim, the quote below is from a paper that was recently filed in that application. This is from public records on the USPTO web site.
AppL No. 10/624,045
Preliminary Amdt. Dated 11/7/2006
Claims 1-8 and 10-30 are pending. Claim 9 has been cancelled. Claim 11 has been amended to correct its dependency.
For the record: Before the application was filed and before the inventor signed the declaration, the undersigned was instructed to delete claim 9. Through an oversight, claim 9 remained when the application was filed. Shortly thereafter, the undersigned was reminded to cancel claim 9. A preliminary amendment was prepared one week after the application was filed, but filing of the preliminary amendment was deferred until the application number was known. This preliminary amendment belatedly addresses the oversight.
It’s all patent talk, to me. I’d like to hear how these people talk to one another. It must be a hoot. Reader Ken adds:
As Paul Harvey would say, that's the rest of the story.
Another reader, David Green, also commented:
We've been amusing ourselves at the Canadian Patent Office with the US patent application 20040161257 that you referenced in this week's commentary. I just thought I'd let you know that the agent in charge of that case is claiming he was instructed to remove the claim, but failed to do so.
You can see some of the details of the prosecution of this application online.
Go to http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair and search on the above "publication number" (not application number!). If you click on the "Image File Wrapper" tab, you'll see a list of available documents. There's one labeled Applicant Arguments/Remarks Made in an Amendment dated 11-07-2006, which has the letter from the agent.
Of course, he could just be covering for his client, but we'll probably never know for sure.
Well, Mr. Green, I’ll opt not to get any deeper in technobabble that I already am, thanks…
Alan Peterson and his colleagues with the Radio America Network in Washington, DC, obviously have too much spare time on their hands. Writes Alan, about Vance Alford in last week’s lead article:
Mr. Alford's claims regarding the elements found in Extreme X2O gave us pause for thought here at work: Gallium is used in the manufacture of light-emitting diodes, Copper goes into wire, Silicon is made into transistors, Carbon resistors are everywhere as are Tantalum capacitors, Tungsten lightbulbs are the norm and most notably, Selenium is a major element in photocells (electric eyes).
Electronically-minded folks may conclude that if you drink enough Extreme X20, you can get a part-time job as a porchlight that turns itself on at dusk.
Highly unlikely, though it probably makes sense to Vance… Reader Eric Rapp comments on Vance’s magical tea:
I'd probably drink that X2O Extreme Blast "tea," but then I've chewed plenty of antacid tablets in my time. And of course only if it were free and I had a stomach ache! Those ingredients look just like the ingredient list on a bottle of fruit-flavored (ascorbic acid, anyone?) antacids to me, but with less science and more quackery. And, of course, an undetectable trace of silver. Perhaps the "Ocean Minerals" are one of the many other allowable ingredients in antacids, according to the FDA.
I admit I can't prove it, but I'd be willing to bet that all that's in the sachet is a fruit-flavored antacid tablet, available in bottles of 100 for a few dollars at supermarkets everywhere, and sold by Xooma for $1.20 each. If you buy in bulk!
We’ve just been informed that our good friend B. Premenand, the prominent skeptic in India, has been admitted to the hospital for important surgery and treatment. We send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Bob Averill, a student at the Art Institute of Portland (AIP), claims he was expelled from the school after he challenged another student’s belief in "energy layers and astral beings." He asked her if she believed in leprechauns, and she said that she does. “They live on another energy layer," she told him. When Averill asked her how she knew these things, she complained to the teacher, and Averill was expelled. The dean of the school said that the dismissal was because of the general attitude of Averill, which he said "demonstrates a pattern of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior."
I think that we need a reductio ad absurdum analysis here. Since leprechauns and “energy levels” are apparently within the reality/acceptance range of the faculty of the Art Institute of Portland, we’ll have to move down a few floors to find something that might not be. I suggest Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Though there’s zero evidence to support belief in the little Irish chaps or the energy levels accepted at the Institute, we can produce literally tens of thousands of young witnesses and their very hard evidence – gifts under the Xmas tree and coins under pillows – that establish the fact that unknown agencies supplied them. Is there nothing that the Institute considers too silly to laugh at? Is a student – since the one cited is most probably over nine years of age – still looked upon as sensible and rational if she believes in Santa or in fairies…? Remember, this is a school! Above the AIP doorway is carved, “Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” Or so I’m told…
Mr. Averill has requested assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union. We look forward to future developments…
Reader Dan Sullivan notes that an African nation has moved ahead of the USA in at least one important respect:
Now, here is one you'll like: The African nation of Togo has banned the advertising of traditional medicine, and also prohibited pastors from claiming they have healing powers. These sorts of miracle cures are very common in Africa, one more unfortunate consequence of the fact that so many people on that continent can't afford proper medical care. The item can be seen at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6188552.stm.
Carl Sagan’s superb book, “The Demon-Haunted World,” is available in a Japanese edition, I believe. I have a reader who wants very much to obtain a copy. Any offers or information, please?
Eugenie Scott, who will be joining us for this year's Amazing Meeting (www.amazingmeeting.com) has written a book with cohort Glenn Branch entitled "Not In Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools." It's available now in the JREF store at www.randi.org/shopping, and is well worth the reading.
Also, Robert Lancaster has launched the long awaited stopsylviabrowne.com, which we hope willl have the same effectiveness as his previous stopkaz.com effort. Thank you for keeping up the fight, Robert.
For those of you who'd like a weekly e-mail reminder of SWIFT, former JREF intern Michael Feldman has graciously agreed to produce one for us. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to email@example.com. Thanks Michael!