BRIEF REPORTS from INVESTIGATOR MAGAZINE 130 to 134



INVESTIGATOR 130 (2010 January)


WILL THE DELUDED PLEASE STAND

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, can now find out why there almost certainly is a god.

Why There Almost Certainly Is a God is the title of a book (published 2009) by British philosopher and theologian Keith Ward. Ward undermines Dawkins' "atheist materialism" with quantum theory.

However, his use of scientific and philosophical terms makes his 160-page book a harder read than Dawkins' book. 





INVESTIGATOR 131 (2010 March)

GOING ROUND AND ROUND

Do people lost in a wilderness walk in circles, or is this a fiction by storytellers to add suspense to stories?

This writer experimented by walking with eyes closed, in straight lines, on a beach with the sea on one side and forest on the other. Veering right or left usually began within about 80-100 steps. At 150 steps disorientation sometimes led to a 90o change in direction — either toward the water or toward the trees.

More-formal research was done by a team led by Jan Souman of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany.

Blindfolded people had to walk in a straight line. This showed that: "Small random errors in the various sensory signals…add up over time, making what a person perceives to be straight ahead drift away from the true direction." (The Weekend Australian 2009, August 22-23, p13)

Six volunteers were further tested without blindfolds in Bienwald forest (Germany), and three in the Sahara (in Tunisia), under cloudy skies and in sunshine. With the Sun as a marker the volunteers kept a straight course, but under clouds their course became circular.




INVESTIGATOR 132 (2010 May)

UFO UNIT SHUTS DOWN

Britain’s Ministry of Defence closed its UFO investigation unit in 2009.

After 50 years of work it had found no proof of the existence of extraterrestrials or evidence of any threat to Britain from them despite thousands of reports by the public via e-mail and the Ministry’s hotline.  

With no threats identified the expense of running the UFO investigations could no longer be justified.

If threats from UFOs to Britain’s air space eventuate in future the country still has radar and the RAF.


AUSTRALIA'S OLDEST

The Sunday Mail reported: "The last World War I veteran in Australia, and possibly the oldest man in the country…turns 109."(2010, February 21, p31) Claude Choules served in the Royal Navy in WWI and the Australian Navy in WWII.

Australia's oldest woman and 58th oldest person on Earth is Miriam Schmierer born August 20th 1899. (The Weekend Australian Magazine, 2010, May 1-2)

A number of Christian cults taught that the "generation" that saw 1914 or 1917 and were old enough to understand events will live to see Armageddon or Christ's second coming.

Such cults have not definitely admitted to being false and wrong. Only a few super-centenarians aged around 110 now stand between them and total refutation!


Rather than close down and shut up the aforementioned cults appear to be changing their interpretation, and continue describing themselves as "the truth".


VIRGINITY-PLEDGERS RENOUNCE PLEDGE

HIV-AIDS prevention campaigns in the USA from 1996 were based largely on teaching sexual abstinence in sex-education classes. Schools could only claim Federal money for sex education if classes promoted abstinence or mentioned contraception as being fallible. AIDS relief to other countries was likewise constrained — at most 1/6 of HIV prevention funds could be used in programs that promoted condoms.
 
Various religions started programs in which teenagers pledged to remain virgins until marriage.

"True Love Waits", for example, is an international Christian initiative that promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage and targets students and teenagers. TLW was created in 1993, and sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. The TLW pledge states: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friend, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."


In 2008/2009, after 12 years of official emphasis on abstinence, "Virginity-pledgers had the same STD rates" and teenage-pregnancy rates as others but were more likely to engage in unprotected sex outside of marriage than non-pledgers — although funding under George W. Bush was still increasing. (The Weekend Australian 2008, October 11-12, p30; Pediatrics 2009, Volume 123)

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (2010, February 1), however, suggests that abstinence-teaching appears more successful than alternatives. 662 African-American students in grades 6 & 7 were randomly assigned to one of four, 8-hour, teaching programs as follows:

a. Abstinence only;   b. Safer sex only;   c. Both "a" and "b";   and d. Control group which learned about general health.

During the next two years 33% of group "a" began having sex; 52% of group "b", 42% of group "c", and 49% of group "d".


"WAR FOR OIL" BELIEF "VULGAR"

The common belief that the Iraq war was a "War-For-Oil" appears refuted. In December Iraq’s oil minister presided over an auction in which international consortiums bid for developmental rights for major oil fields.

Russian and Malaysian consortiums, rather than American, were the main winners.


Christopher Hitchens says: "Thus, the vulgar and hysterical part of the war-for-oil interpretation has been discredited: Iraq retains its autonomy, the share awarded to outsiders in development is far from exorbitant and there is no real correlation between US interests and the outcome." (The Weekend Australian 2009, December 19-20, p19)


DOULOS DROPS LAST ANCHOR

The MV Doulos, the world's largest "floating bookshop" and oldest ocean going passenger ship (the hull was built in 1914) ended its service in December 2009.

In 1977 Doulos became a major part of the "Operation Mobilisation" ships ministry. With 300 missionaries and volunteers on board it travelled to ports around the world with the Gospel message.

The ship was in Singapore for its annual period of dry dock and safety-checks when it was found that one deck needed to be replaced. The OM leadership decided not to proceed since Doulos would have a limited ministry future.

The two visits of the Doulos to Adelaide were reported in Investigator #7 and #66.


STOLEN GENERATION

A report by Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian, 2009, December 9 presented the conclusions of Keith Windschuttle in his 472-page book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History.

Windschuttle says there was no genocide, the numbers of children affected was inflated, and "small numbers of Aboriginal removals in the 20th century were almost all based on traditional grounds of child welfare."




INVESTIGATOR 134 (2010 September)

BRITISH BIG CATS

From 1980 reported sightings of big cats, mainly black and panther-like, increased drastically in the British Isles. A survey in 2004 by the British Big Cats Society recorded 2,000 sightings in 15 months. (Focus magazine, 2005 August, p62)

Several big cats have been killed or captured including a puma in Scotland in 1980, a jungle cat in Shropshire in 1989, and a Leopard cat (or ocelot) in 1981. It's probable therefore that some people illegally keep exotic pets and a few escaped.

Most sightings, however, are either imagination or hoaxes using photos of stuffed animals. Focus reports a joke by a postmaster who put up a notice in the village shop requesting information about a big cat. Although it was a joke and the cat imaginary the local newspaper received over 100 reports of sightings!


GREATEST NATURAL DISASTERS

Estimates of deaths in the recent Haiti Earthquake were around 200,000. Compare this with the number of deaths in the greatest known natural disasters suffered by humans:

1931    Floods in China 4,000,000
1887    Flooding of the Yellow River 2,000,000
1556    Earthquake, Shaanxi, China 830,000
1970    Cyclone, Bangladesh 500,000
1839    Cyclone, India 300,000
  526    Earthquake, Antioch 250,000
1976    Earthquake, Tangshan, China 242,000
1920    Earthquake, Haiyuan, China 240,000
2004    Earthquake-tsunami, Indian Ocean   230,000


PRESIDENT NOT A MUSLIM

About 20% of Americans believe Barack Obama is Muslim. A report in The Weekend Australian quotes two pastors who "have had a part in forming his spiritual life" that "He is a devout Christian by choice…" (August 21-22, p19)


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