BRIEF REPORTS from INVESTIGATOR
80 to 89
80, 2001 September
HOAXER'S PROOF CROPPED
of Truthseekers Review, a magazine about the paranormal,
created a seven-point star in a cornfield in SW England.
pictures of it to
author Michael Glickman who had claimed that "crop circle" patterns of
such complexity as seven-point stars were proof of extra-terrestrials.
29, was fined
100 pounds for criminal damage but maintained that some crop-damage
patterns are genuinely extra-terrestrial in origin and not hoaxes! (The
Australian 2000 August 11)
DOGGED BELIEF CAN BE
dogged belief that
more dog-bites occur during full moon can be "ignawed".
and senior research officer Stephen Morrell, both of the University of
Sydney, reviewed admission rates into Australian hospitals for dog bite
from June 1997 to June 1998.
were 1,671 cases —
an average of 4.6 per day. There were also 18 peak days with more than
10 admissions. The peak days did not occur at full moon but were more
likely at Christmas and New Year. (The Advertiser 2000
CRIMINAL CONDUCT MORE
may soon have
to wear space suits when committing crime. This is because DNA can now
potentially be retrieved from skin cells shed when skin brushes against
a surface and also from tiny drops of saliva deposited during speaking
or breathing. The DNA can then be matched against samples in a nation's
DNA database. (The Advertiser 2001, June 2 p. 44)
HUMANS FROM AFRICA
the hypothesis that modern humans originated in Africa around 100,000
DNA-sequences of 12,000 men in eastern Asia showed that all are
descendants of people who lived in Africa 35,000 to 89,000 years ago.
The genetic evidence did not suggest any interbreeding between modern
humans (Homo sapiens) and archaic humans (Homo erectus) who had
migrated out of Africa a million years earlier. (The Advertiser 2001,
May 12, p. 51)
PYRAMID GAME ILLEGAL
gaming scheme known as Concorde has been declared illegal —
contravening the Fair Trading Act.
paid to enter an
"aeroplane" as "passengers". As more players entered, the previous
players advanced to crewmember status, then co-pilot and finally pilot.
Pilots received a payout and left the game. Concorde began in March
2001, April 28 p.18)
don't want to be
buried alive, you should avoid comas, epileptic fits,
central-nervous-system depressants and passing out dead drunk —
conditions which used to confuse doctors and may sometimes still do so.
Ever since Edgar Allan Poe's 1841 horror story of a woman buried alive,
whole industries — such as coffins that allow the buried person to ring
a bell — have arisen to counter the problem. Read about it in the
recent book Buried Alive by Jan Bondeson.
EXORCISM DEATH FAILED
37, died during
an Assembly of God exorcism ritual in South Korea in January. For six
days sect members tried to bring her back to life by prayer. The
minister was charged with manslaughter. (The Advertiser 2001 January 20
p. 52) This case appears very similar to the incident in Victoria
reported in Investigator No. 29. There too a woman died during
exorcism. After resurrection by prayer failed the husband declared she
would rise during the funeral: "I do not believe; I know this will
PSYCHIC PREDICTED BIG
49, won a $9 million Powerball prize and claimed: "It was predicted in
my cards 25 years ago." Because of the prediction the man had expected
a big win and had bought Powerball entries since 1996 when the game
started. (The Advertiser 2001, September 26, p. 36)
hunt for the Loch
Ness Monster was planned for March 2001. A Swedish team led by Jan
Sundberg conducted "Operation Cleansweep" — an attempt to catch Nessie
using sonar, cameras and a large funnel-shaped net. (Northern Territory
News 2001, January 6)
soon afterwards the use of an old camera "stuffed into a fishing bag"
succeeded. In May, local resident James Gray — known for taking photos
of Prince Charles and Diana — produced clear photos of a thin, curved
object that, he said, protruded six feet out of the water before
disappearing under. (The Advertiser 2001, June 2)
of the Monster was taken in 1934 but confirmed as a hoax sixty years
later in 1994. (See Investigator No. 36)
INVESTIGATOR 82, 2002
URBAN LEGENDS WEBSITE
the September 11 terrorist attack? Did CNN use old footage when showing
website David and Barbara Mikkleson assess various tales and legends as
true, false or indeterminate.
INVESTIGATOR 83, 2002
11 terrorist acts in New York, numerologists produced curiosities such
The Twin Towers, side by side, resembled 11;
September 11 is the 254th day of the year and 2+5+4=11;
first aeroplane to hit was Flight 11;
Flight 11 had 92 people on board, and 9+2=11;
Flight 77 had 65 people on board, and 6+5=11;
York City has 11 letters;
Afghanistan has 11 letters;
York State was the 11th state added to the Union;
After September 11 the year had 111 days.
claim that the 16th-century French prophet foretold the September 11
attack: "Earth-shaking fire from the world's centre will cause tremors
around the New City."
with no date, no
precise name, no precise location and no explanation of "tremors" this
sentence can mean anything. Allan Lang of the SA Skeptics says
that the "New City" meant either Naples (Neapolis) or the southern
Italian town Citta Nova.
SUPPORTS THE BIBLE
Mysteries of the Bible" in Popular Mechanics gave explanations
for the Bible stories of Jonah, the Dial of Ahaz, the walls of Jericho,
the miraculous fish catch (John 21:1-11), and the Manna from heaven.
first four of these
were tackled in Investigator (No. 58) by Anonymous who, for
example, explained the remarkable fish catch by warm springs on the sea
floor around which fish sometimes congregate.
gave virtually the same explanations as Anonymous but in attenuated
form with less evidence.
GAMBLERS CONTINUE TO
its early editions Investigator
has shown that most people who go against the odds will lose. The
popularity of the "Pokies" and other forms of gambling, however, keeps
increasing. Some gamblers turn to theft in order to gamble — with
prison the result after they lose and get found out.
employed as a corporate accounts manager at a bank was, for example,
sentence to seven years after losing $670,000 of the bank's money on
Pokies and Lotto. (The Advertiser 2001, December 22)
AN EYE-POPPING CLAIM
to an Eemail received, if you sneeze with your eyes open they'll pop
out. This claim
is also considered in The New Scientist Book of The Last Word
(1997) where one quoted person claimed, "If you sneeze with your eyes
open, you would blow your eyeballs out.This has been known to happen
among people who prop their eyes open with toothpicks to stay awake."
editor of The
Last Word responded, "This…is surely a modern myth. If anyone knows
of someone who blew their eyes out, we'd like to hear." (p. 27)
offers $100,000 to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal power under
test conditions. So far no one has succeeded.
31, faced the Rockhampton Magistrates Court charged with e-mailing
threats to contaminate Dick Smith food products with rat poison unless
he received $100,000. The court heard that the extortion attempt
occurred after Cooper failed a challenge and The Skeptics Association,
of which Dick Smith is a patron, refused to pay. (The Advertiser March
HOW URI GELLER FIXES
seen (on TV) or
heard (on radio) Uri Geller urge people to collect their broken items,
such as watches, radios, etc, and shout three times, "Work! Work!
Work!" Shortly afterwards people phone in and report broken items
I connected a
portable TV set to a 12-volt battery. It went on for a second, made a
banging sound and went dead. It didn't work on a separate battery
either or on the 240-volt connection. I put it in the rubbish bin.
days I retrieved
it. My father was visiting and he used to be an electrician. By showing
him how it had been connected to the battery he might be able to
explain what went wrong. To my surprise the TV worked as new on both 12
volts and 240 volts!
reported a similar incident where an electric blanket was thrown out
after two people — a daughter and her mother — decided it no longer
worked. It was retrieved and tried and went OK. Probably they had
merely forgotten to switch the power on.
experience and a few others it's probable that around 1% of appliances
are at some stage mistakenly thought to be broken. Therefore, if
thousands of people can be persuaded to shout "Work! Work! Work!" over
their malfunctioning appliances, some will report success and may not
necessarily be lying!
INVESTIGATOR 86, 2002
WE MISSED THE END OF
THE WORLD AGAIN
Forum", a section
in The Advertiser, received a question about a Nostradamus
prediction for the end of the world on June 22, 2002.
‘panel' answered that
dates for the end of the world by writers who interpret Nostradamus
"have come and gone." And: "The panel knows of no reason why June 22
will be any different from the others." (2002, May 11)
is still here — the panel was correct.
DOING UNTO JWs
to years of
unwanted door-knocks Jane White did to JWs a little of what they did to
people can always ignore them. So I thought I'd see if they could
the JW Kingdom Hall in Peacehaven, East Sussex, England.
waited for their
Sunday service to start and then knocked repeatedly on the door.
they answered, I
chatted about Nirvana.
think they quite
rightly thought I was disturbing the peace."
January 16, 2002)
told Ms White she
had a bad attitude and called the police upon whose arrival she left
BOOK OF SCAMS
book is The
Little Black Book of SCAMS (1999, Commonwealth of Australia).
explains how to
recognise scams and protect yourself against them. Part of doing this
is to be forewarned. The book — it's really a booklet — describes
Pyramid Schemes; Chain Letter Scams; Internet Offers; Cyber-Scams;
Overseas Lotteries; Overseas Investments; International Swindles; Home
Employment Opportunities; Door-To-Door Swifties; Unsolicited Mail;
Telefraud; Travel Rorts; and Telephone Number Scams.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIG) believes people
are too trusting. ASIC launched a 1999 April Fools Day joke, using a
dummy website to offer an investment opportunity in a Y2K (Year 2000)
insurance scam. Within days, ASIC received pledges of millions of
dollars for its non-existent scheme. (p. 8)
THREE HOUSES UP IN
Treasurer, Senator Ian Campbell, the unemployed can save
over $300,000 from the dole if they invest the cost
of a packet of cigarettes every day for
25 years. (Sunday Mail 2002, May 26, p. 36)
amount of money
would buy two median-value houses in Adelaide or up to five cheap
houses — the writer's house is worth $65,000.
single people, without rent-assistance, are now $369 per fortnight and
a packet of cigarettes costs about $8. One packet per day (that's $56
per week) is within the range of the unemployed if they budget
carefully in everything else. It totals to $2900 per year.
today's values, i.e. if we assume no inflation and no interest on
savings, would take 103 years — longer than most smokers live.
count 6% interest per year and also assume inflation, it would take
75-80 years (depending on the precise arrangements) to reach $300,000.
But this would be worth a fraction of what $300,000 is worth today due
is mistaken regarding reaching $300,000 in 25 years. However, a
packet-a-day habit is clearly equivalent to a cheap house over a
20-year period. A dedicated smoker could smoke away the equivalent of
two or three houses in his lifetime.
GIVE US OUR DAILY BREAD
(2000, August 3) revealed the earnings of religious ministers:
Taxable stipend $27,600 plus up to $18,000 for car and other expenses.
stipend $13,000. Additional to this is board and lodging, car and
running costs, and private health insurance.
Taxable salary up to about $10,000, plus car allowance up to $17,000
and housing allowance up to about $11,000.
stipend $35,000; car-depreciation allowance, $5,000.
Union of Victoria
ministers: Average stipend $30,000 with manse or $38,500 without manse.
Plus car allowance $6000 per year and $1000 for other expenses.
pastors: Eighteen pay levels. First year minister — package of about
$28,000; Level 18 minister — about $51,700.
INVESTIGATOR 87, 2002
topic "The Bible on
Slavery" was examined in Investigator 76 to 84. Anyone wishing
to study further on slavery would find the following references useful:
(1998) A historical guide to world slavery.
M. (1993) Slavery
A World History.
T.L. (2000) Slavery
INVESTIGATOR 88, 2003
BIGFOOT HAS DIED
Wallace, 84, who
died on November 26 in a nursing home was the creator of Bigfoot —
America's answer to the Himalayan Yeti or "Abominable Snowman".
the son, Michael Wallace, explained that his father created the giant
footprints in 1958 using wood carvings of large human-type feet. He
planted the footprints as a joke and was afraid to come clean after
people took it seriously.
Crew, a bulldozer
operator for Wallace Construction, saw the giant 16-inch footprints
around his rig in August 1958. The Humboldt Times of Eureka,
California, reported the story and coined the word "Bigfoot".
Subsequent decades led to thousands of alleged sightings, numerous
books and even UFO connections with reports of Bigfoot emerging from a
sightings of big, human-like, furry creatures go back to the early 18th
century, they weren't called "Bigfoot" and it's only from 1958 that the
myth became a national phenomenon.
we've all seen — of someone in a monkey-suit striding away — were
filmed in October 1967 by rodeo-rider Roger Patterson. Wallace claimed
he had told Patterson where to find Bigfoot — near Bluff Creek in
California — and that's where Paterson then supposedly found Bigfoot.
Wallace had nothing to do with the film and called it a hoax. (The
Advertiser, 2002, December 7, p. 58)
THE FINISHED MYSTERY
had an analysis of the book The Finished Mystery (1917). Its
writers and supporters promoted the book as virtually infallible in its
interpretations of Bible verses. Then, in the decades that followed,
they discarded over 1300 of those interpretations!
is available on the Internet for free.
obtained by Chinese and American geneticists, from the Y-chromosome via
blood samples taken from 12,000 men in eastern Asia suggests that:
modern humans rose out of Africa in the past 100,000 years and swept
aside populations of archaic humans, with no inter-breeding…
every one of the men could trace his ancestry to forefathers who lived
in Africa over the past 35,000 to 89,000 years. (The Advertiser, 2001,
May 12, p.51)
be relevant to
the current disagreement in Investigator regarding "Adam and
Eve and Neanderthals".
religions reject all or some medical treatment on doctrinal/religious
grounds and would even let their children die.
April) documented 140 child deaths "from religion motivated neglect" in
23 religions in the USA from 1975 to 1995.
31) presented some legal aspects of the problem. The article
finished by quoting Russ Briggs who watched two sons die during
childbirth but later left his particular sect: "It's when you no longer
have that belief that…it comes to you: How could I ever have done that?"
years ago an Investigator
article titled "Onward Christian Soldier!" said in part:
army private… Frank distributes, at his own expense, free copies of the
New Testament… Averaging about twenty copies an hour on one or two
occasions per week his total is now 6,000. (1993 January, pp. 42-44)
(2002, December 8) reporting on "Bible man Frank's life of poverty"
shows that this "Christian soldier" has indeed gone "onwards".
His total is now 164,000 New Testaments given away!
Sladek, 75, lives
in a "sooted up room with only a bed, a few belongings and an old
fireplace". He tills gardens most mornings so he can buy more Bibles.
article focused on Private Frank's conflict with the authorities:
"Satan is using the Adelaide Council to stop me," he said back then.
evidently lost, for
Frank is still distributing Bibles in the same place as ten years ago —
Adelaide's Rundle Mall.
website has great
photos of designs mysteriously superimposed on crops. It also tells
about alleged mystical energies and miraculous healing associated with
"crop circles". The hoax hypothesis is attacked and attempt made to
distinguish "genuine" crop circles from hoaxes.
merely hoaxes of a more elaborate sort?
CHILDREN AT RISK?
Professor Alastair MacLennan found that Australians spend $2,300
million yearly on complementary therapies and medicine — four times as
much as on prescription medicines.
medicines are aimed at children: "The lack of known safety of most of
these products, the untoward side effects and drug interactions…the
problem of dosage in infants and the extra vulnerability of developing
tissues in children support the need for regulation…"
Competition and Consumer Commission is taking legal action against
some of 1400 websites promoting suspicious claims such as magnets to
cure AIDS. (Sunday Mail, 2002, September 29, p. 17)
than a week's
wages you can buy "Eternal Life Rings" that "fight bacteria", "cure
various diseases and handicaps", restore you to youth if you're old,
and let you live forever.
devices are "ceramic
magnets" worn on the little fingers and on the toes while asleep. The
website says: "There is a good reason why I'm doing this. BECAUSE IT
WORKS!!! Isn't that cool? I'm selling eternal life right off the