BRIEF REPORTS from INVESTIGATOR MAGAZINE 40 to 49


INVESTIGATOR 40, 1995 January

GIANT CATS MYTH

There are no feral cats the size of lions in the Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide. Like other big-creature stories their size has grown in the re-telling. Field trips by an Adelaide University researcher, Sharelle Hart, included the shooting and weighing of 50 feral cats. The biggest weighed 5½kg. The average adult male domestic cat weighs 3.9kg. The world record for a neutral domestic cat is 21.3kg.


AGE OF EARTH

So-called Scientific Creationists, who claimed the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, had to deny the theory that the continents split apart tens of millions of years ago and are slowly moving at a few centimeters per year.

Continental Drift became accepted by scientists in the early 1960s. Many argued that the final, decisive confirmation would come when actual measurements of motion could be made using satellites and laser beams or radio signals.

Recently measurements, monitored at the University of Colorado, showed Australia going north-east at 8cm per year. This comes to one mile in 20,000 years and 50 miles in a million years.



MIDDLE-AGE CHAMPION

For a while it seemed that Bobby Fischer might take on the current chess champions after being absent from competitive chess for 20 years.

Investigator 27 reviewed the aging process and concluded that a successful comeback in any sport to world champion standard after 20 years would be unprecedented. In November, however, George Foreman, 45, regained the heavyweight title (lost in 1974 to Muhammad Ali) by defeating Michael Moorer, 26.



EXORCISM — INSANE

New Zealand parents, Janice and Lindsay Gibson, who battered their son, 12, to death with a paving slab to exorcise a demon were found not guilty of murder but insane. (Sunday Mail, 1994, November 27, p22)


NOT DEAD

Premature burials and misdiagnosis of death were discussed in Investigator 29 & 30. Reports of this kind are still coming to hand. In New York an 86 year old woman, declared dead after a stroke, spent 1½ hours in a body bag and morgue refrigerator — when the morgue supervisor realized she was breathing. In Madrid a premature baby spent two hours in a morgue when the father, wanting a last look at the infant, saw its chest move. (The Advertiser 1994 November 19 & December 31)


CHILDREN OF GOD

Leader of the Children of God David Berg died aged 75 in November. Until 1987 the cult practised "flirty fishing" (= prostitution) to attract converts. Berg's daughter Linda deserted the cult in 1978 and claimed her father had sexually abused her since she was 8. Alleged child-abuse on communes of the cult have been investigated in six countries. The cult started about 1970 and now has 10,000 members in 80 countries.


ROTTEN ATTACKERS

Describing a final onslaught by all nations against Jerusalem the Bible says: "their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth." (Zechariah 14)

Believers sometimes sought an explanation in new poison gases or in effects of atomic radiation. Such believers might now consider newly discovered rain forest viruses Ebola and Marburg which chew up flesh, skin and internal organs, rot the testicles and even take off the tongue surface via rushes of black vomit. (New Scientist 1994 Nov. 19 p45; The Advertiser Weekend magazine 1994 Nov. 19 p8)

If you're squeamish don't read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston 1994.




INVESTIGATOR 42 1995 May


WOMAN'S DAY

Woman's Day magazine seems to be promoting ever greater superstition as time passes. The August 1 1994 edition offered: "Get lucky with the Woman's Day Four-Leaf Clover… It is designed to bring good luck in the four main areas of life—health, wealth, love and career."

The November 14 edition had a close-up of Ms Starwoman's face and offers "power" by looking at her eyes three times daily for five minutes.

Let's hope that no one in position to influence decisions in government takes W D seriously in such offers. Regarding health matters give your doctor priority over a four-leaf clover!


POKIES LIGHTEN POCKETS

Gamblers' losses on poker machines in South Australia currently agree with what the mathematical theory of probability predicted.

In 37 weeks, ending April 8, players spent $1 billion, got back $875 million, with revenue to pubs and clubs close to $125 million. The odds are set so that gamblers get back 85% on average of what they gamble. However, $875 million is 87.5%. The extra 2 1/2% is money retrieved by players who stopped before losing it.

Welfare services are being swamped with poker-machine addicts who number about 4,000. Perhaps Welfare should distribute Woman's Day 4-leaf clovers to addicts so that they'll "get lucky".


NEW BEASTS?

The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are certainly non-existent. However, a serpent like, long necked ocean dwelling beast with short flippers and horse-like head is said to live off British Columbia. There is supposed to have been at least one "authentic sighting of the creature each year" for 60 years. A mangled skeleton, 3 metres long, was recovered from a dead sperm whale. (New Scientist 1993 Jan.23)

Another monster is "Mapinguari". This in Amazonia's equivalent of the Yeti and is red haired, eats people's heads & escapes potential captors by releasing noxious gasses. (New Scientist 1994 Jan. 22)

Yet another monster, this one "toad like" but with a one metre wide mouth is being hunted by scientists in central China. (The Advertiser 1995 March 20 p. 18)

In Australia "Naturalist Rex Gilroy who has committed his life to search for the elusive Yowie" (The Advertiser 1992 Feb. 19 p.7) still has not found it.

The Encyclopedia of Monsters (D Cohen, 1982) lists over 100 monsters.




INVESTIGATOR 44 1995 September

UNIVERSE NOT INFINITE

In the 17th century astronomer Kepler argued that the Universe is not of infinite size. He reasoned that if the Universe were infinite and uniformly filled with stars then every line of sight would lead to a star. There would then be no dark spaces and the night sky would shine with the brilliance of the Sun. The night sky doesn't do this and therefore the Universe of stars is not infinite in size.

Compare this to a forest. If there are few trees and the forest is small then many lines of sight show us the plain beyond. If the forest is large then every fine of sight leads to a tree.

The answer is that for every line of sight to lead to a star we need starlight from as far away as 1023 light-years. However, we can't get this because the Universe is only 1.5 x 1010  years old and all the stars are even younger than this.

Another approach is to calculate the average density of matter in the Universe. This would show that there is insufficient matter and hence insufficient energy available to make the sky bright.





INVESTIGATOR 45 1995 November

X-FILES

The Canadian production The X-Files is such a hit that comics, books and conventions may follow.

Released in 1993 the series is about two FBI agents who investigate unsolved cases labelled X-Files.

The cases include the whole range of the paranormal — ESP, ghosts, UFOs, conscious computers, vampires, etc.

Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is the sullen believer partnered with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who is placid, unruffled, and often skeptical to the extent of appearing stupid. Scully's skepticism always turns out invalid.


To what extent does television contribute to belief in the paranormal among the public?


SHROUD OF TURIN

South African art dealer Dr Nick Allen of the University of Port Elizabeth claimed that crude photography was briefly known about 700 years ago and the image of Christ on the Shroud is a result.

A useful short account of the Shroud is in Reader's Digest October 1989. Tests in 1988 showed the Shroud of Turin was made about 1300 A.D. and therefore the image on it could not be of Jesus


NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES

Every week major news agencies in Adelaide seem to have new first-issue magazines.

Issue 1 of Australian Woman Spirit described near-death experiences — the tunnel, the light, etc. "All through history" we're informed, the near-dead "have returned with uncannily similar visions."

Focus magazine (September 1993) explained: "When the brain is failing, confused by pain, fear and stress, it will continue making models of the world — but drawn from imagination rather than from the senses." (p.24)

Near-death visions are not everywhere "uncannily similar". A study of near-deaths among Japanese revealed serious differences including not seeing any tunnel of light. (New Scientist 1991, November 30, p.5. Investigator No.6 p.8; No.33 p.47)
 

ASTROLOGY

The Australian Astrology Centre (AAC) was investigated in Investigator 34.

AAC appeared after the Office of Fair Trading forced a very similar astrology centre called Astrology Today to disappear. (Investigator 15, 24, 27, 28)

First-time respondents to AAC ads get a letter announcing an imminent "rewarding period" or a period of good fortune "for only another 3 months". The catch is that to benefit from one's lucky stars requires further help from AAC for a price!

Persons who don't reply get another letter. This may announce "Fate seems to be giving you another chance" or "Astrological projections of your chart show that you will not enter a period as wonderfully beneficial as this for another 12 years."

Several Investigator readers of very different birth dates had the latter sentence in their letter.


GAMBLING LOSSES

South Australians now lose about $3 billion at gambling per year. This comes to $40 per person per week.

This means less spending money and therefore drops in turnover for shops, restaurants and businesses. Welfare agencies and charities are under stress due to gamblers who lose too much joining the queues. Consequences include poverty, marital stress, social isolation and domestic violence.

Past Investigator articles have shown that to go against the odds and expect to come out ahead is to go against science and sense.


EARTHQUAKE LIGHTS

EARTH magazine (January 1993) posed the question "Are Earthquake Lights Real?" One investigation showed that 80 of 150 "reports of luminous phenomena" including UFO sightings occurred near earthquakes.

However, whether earthquakes generate lights in the sky which are mistaken for flying saucers cannot be answered conclusively. See Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena 1983 by William Corliss.


CHRISTADELPHIANS

Aside from mainstream Christadelphianism there are many split-offs from the sect. One group of 15 to 20 was reported in Investigator No.14. Another Adelaide group, founded 1984, calls itself Pilgrim's House Brotherhood.

This group accepts most Christadelphian doctrine and differs by having meetings in the nude. A pamphlet says: "Our membership is limited to those who accept and enjoy nudity and related practices in a chaste fashion."

Meetings are limited to the summer months.


ABDUCTION ROW

Reports of alien abduction have been attributed to vivid dreams, suggestion under hypnosis, effect of repressed memory of child abuse, and deliberate lying to gain notoriety.

However, Dr John Mack, professor of psychology of America's Harvard University Medical School apparently thinks that kidnapping aliens exist.

His book Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens based on 13 interviews with abductees led to calls for his sacking.

A three-man investigative team deplored the scholarship of Dr Mack and concluded that he ought to have had his 13 subjects evaluated by psychiatrists.


HOLY GRAIL APPEARS

The last of Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies, in 1989, has the good guys in a race with the Nazis to get the Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail is the cup used at Christ's Last Supper. Joseph of Arimathea who arranged the burial of Jesus supposedly took the Grail to England where it disappeared and became the focus of much legend and literature. King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, for example, started to decline when they scattered to search for the Holy Grail. Sir Galahad, a mythical figure invented in the 12th century, found the Grail.
 
In August 1995 the grand master of the Knights Templar (an Order founded in 1119) displayed the "Holy Grail" at a news conference in Rome. It was a small glass flask 9cm high, the base 7cm circumference.

A week earlier a British historian, Graham Phillips, claimed an onyx goblet discovered in a British attic is the Grail. There are also several European churches which house items they claim to be the Holy Grail.

Without definitive scientific evidence these claims are all dubious. The New Testament makes no mention of preserving the Last Supper cup or any other item Jesus used.


SCIENTOLOGY BUSINESS

In March a German court ruled that the "Church of Scientology" is a business not a Church.

The Advertiser
(1995 October 7) has the story of Alison Braund's (a former Adelaide journalist) attempt to infiltrate the Church of Scientology in England. She described doing expensive and "inane" Scientology courses which courses alone, it was claimed, could solve her alleged emotional problems.


 Braund says: "Any criticism of courses or the church was strictly forbidden."

She had to fill out questionaires detailing her friends, uses of drugs, sexual history, jobs, interests, perversions, etc. Everyone watched and reported on everyone else: "Sometimes I was even followed into the toilet and asked questions."

A useful brief report on the origins of Scientology is in Reader's Digest, June 1980.



RACING SCAM

Three Australians pleaded guilty in September to defrauding hundreds of Americans of $US5995 each for computer software which, it was claimed, would pick racetrack winners with 72% accuracy.

The fact is that even very experienced punters, who may size up many variables from past performance to condition of the track and experience of the jockey, rarely stay financially ahead indefinitely.

Horse racing is arranged so the odds are against the person placing the bets. It's like playing against loaded dice — something which software can't alter.


CANDLE RITUALS

Ads in some leading newspapers earlier this year had the heading; "'Miraculous Candle Rituals Give You Control Of Your Life — Automatically!"

The rituals which give "fast and powerful results from burning ordinary candles" are in a book for $25.90. You have to burn your candles at the right time while speaking the right words.

By doing this you can: "automatically gain control of an unjust person..." 

Also: "You can get all the money you need…" "You can banish bad luck out of your life for ever."


The code of ethics of the Media Council says in part: "Advertisements shall be truthful and shall not be misleading or deceptive." "Advertisements shall not exploit the superstitious..."

Think about all this and come to a conclusion.


MOONIES

35,000 couples were married in Seoul, Korea, last August, in history's largest wedding ceremony by Sun Myung Moon leader of the Unification Church or "Moonies". 325,000 more couples in 545 locations in 160 countries were linked in via satellite and also married.

All the marriage partners were selected by Moon and almost all had met only days before and many had never met. At costs of $2,000 per American couple and $35,000 for each Japanese couple Church profit for the episode may exceed the national budgets of some countries. A 40 day no sex rule operated after the wedding.

The Unification Church started in 1954 as an attempt to combine religion and politics to "conquer and subjugate the world". Reverend Moon is sometimes claimed to be the return of Jesus Christ.

Followers forsake luxuries and live a Spartan life spending much effort to collect money and new con¬verts for the Church. The mass weddings commenced in 1961 with 35 couples.

An account of the Moonies including the deprogramming of a "well educated schoolteacher" is in Reader's Digest 1983 September.




INVESTIGATOR 47 1996 March

DEAD PERSON RETURNS

The topic of people misdiagnosed as dead was considered in Investigator 29 30 and connection of this to vampire rumours speculated on. Such misdiagnoses still occur:

"A 61 year old woman—wife of a prominent landowner and friend of the British Prime Minister, Mr Major—is recovering in hospital after she was earlier pronounced dead. She had been taken in a body bag to a mortuary's cold freezer." (Sunday Mail 1996, January 7, p. 21)




INVESTIGATOR 49 1996 July

NIGEL THE PROPHET

A talkback radio program (February 6) hosted by John Laws included comments by Nigel: "He [God] appeared to me in a rose bush eight years ago… I was invoking the Lord all day yesterday in my back yard.

"He said, 'I will help Paul Keating to win.'

"He said he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Asked Laws: "What if Paul Keating doesn't win?"

Reply: "I'd go down as a false prophet."

Paul Keating and the Labor Party lost on March 3 by a landslide!


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