BRIEF REPORTS from INVESTIGATOR MAGAZINE 80 to 89

INVESTIGATOR 80, 2001 September


HOAXER'S PROOF CROPPED IN COURT

Matthew Williams, editor of Truthseekers Review, a magazine about the paranormal, created a seven-point star in a cornfield in SW England.

He sent 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.

Matthews, 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)




INVESTIGATOR 81, 2001 November


DOGGED BELIEF CAN BE IGNORED

The dogged belief that more dog-bites occur during full moon can be "ignawed".  

Professor Simon Chapman 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.

There 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 December 23 p. 19)


CRIMINAL CONDUCT MORE RISKY

Criminals 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

Recent findings support the hypothesis that modern humans originated in Africa around 100,000 years ago.

Research on Y-chromosome 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

Promoting the pyramid gaming scheme known as Concorde has been declared illegal — contravening the Fair Trading Act.

Players 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 1997. (The Advertiser 2001, April 28 p.18)


BURIED ALIVE

If you 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.


RESURRECTION OF EXORCISM DEATH FAILED

A woman, 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 happen."


PSYCHIC PREDICTED BIG WIN

A Sydney factory worker, 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)


LOCH NESS

A new 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)

Technology failed but 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)

The best previous photo of the Monster was taken in 1934 but confirmed as a hoax sixty years later in 1994. (See Investigator No. 36)





INVESTIGATOR 82, 2002 January


URBAN LEGENDS WEBSITE

Did Nostradamus predict the September 11 terrorist attack? Did CNN use old footage when showing Palestinians celebrating?
On their well-researched website David and Barbara Mikkleson assess various tales and legends as true, false or indeterminate.
Check out: http://www.snopes2.com/





INVESTIGATOR 83, 2002 March


NUMEROLOGY

Following the September 11 terrorist acts in New York, numerologists produced curiosities such as:
•    The Twin Towers, side by side, resembled 11;
•    September 11 is the 254th day of the year and 2+5+4=11;
•    The 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;
•    New York City has 11 letters;
•    Afghanistan has 11 letters;
•    New York State was the 11th state added to the Union;
•    After September 11 the year had 111 days.

NOSTRADAMUS AND SEPTEMBER 11

Some Nostradamus addicts 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."

However, 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.





INVESTIGATOR 84, 2002 May


SCIENCE MAGAZINE SUPPORTS THE BIBLE

"Science Solves More 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. (2001, December)

The 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.

Popular Mechanics gave virtually the same explanations as Anonymous but in attenuated form with less evidence.


GAMBLERS CONTINUE TO LOSE

Since 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.

A 32-year-old mother 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

According 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."

The 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)


$100,000 CHALLENGE

The Skeptics Association offers $100,000 to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal power under test conditions. So far no one has succeeded.

In March Graham Cooper, 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 9)


HOW URI GELLER FIXES APPLIANCES

You've 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 miraculously fixed.

Does it happen?

Recently 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.

A few 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!

Investigator No. 7 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.

Judging from my 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 SEPTEMBER


WE MISSED THE END OF THE WORLD AGAIN

"Family Forum", a section in The Advertiser, received a question about a Nostradamus prediction for the end of the world on June 22, 2002.
The ‘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) 

The world is still here — the panel was correct.


DOING UNTO JWs

Reacting to years of unwanted door-knocks Jane White did to JWs a little of what they did to her.

The 35-year-old explained:
"…they say people can always ignore them. So I thought I'd see if they could ignore me.
"I waited for their Sunday service to start and then knocked repeatedly on the door.
"When they answered, I chatted about Nirvana.
"I think they quite rightly thought I was disturbing the peace."
(The Argus, Wednesday, January 16, 2002)
The incident occurred at the JW Kingdom Hall in Peacehaven, East Sussex, England.

The JWs told Ms White she had a bad attitude and called the police upon whose arrival she left the premises.


BOOK OF SCAMS

A useful book is The Little Black Book of SCAMS (1999, Commonwealth of Australia).

It 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.

 It says:
The 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 SMOKE!

According to the 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)

This 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.

Unemployment benefits for 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.

To reach $300,000 in today's values, i.e. if we assume no inflation and no interest on savings, would take 103 years — longer than most smokers live.

Alternatively, if we 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 to inflation.

The Treasurer, therefore, 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

The Herald Sun (2000, August 3) revealed the earnings of religious ministers:

Anglican ministers: Taxable stipend $27,600 plus up to $18,000 for car and other expenses.

Catholic priests: Taxable stipend $13,000. Additional to this is board and lodging, car and running costs, and private health insurance.

Uniting church ministers: Taxable salary up to about $10,000, plus car allowance up to $17,000 and housing allowance up to about $11,000.

Lutheran pastors: Taxable stipend $35,000; car-depreciation allowance, $5,000.

Baptist 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.

Assemblies of God pastors: Eighteen pay levels. First year minister — package of about $28,000; Level 18 minister — about $51,700.





INVESTIGATOR 87, 2002 November


SLAVERY

The 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:
Drescher, S. (1998) A historical guide to world slavery.
Meltzer, M. (1993) Slavery A World History.
Sylvester, T.L. (2000) Slavery Throughout History.




INVESTIGATOR 88, 2003 January


BIGFOOT HAS DIED

Ray L 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".

Upon his father's death 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.

Jerry 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 flying saucer!

Although reports of 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.

The celluloid images 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

Investigator 85 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!
The Finished Mystery is available on the Internet for free.


OUT OF AFRICA

Genetic information, obtained by Chinese and American geneticists, from the Y-chromosome via blood samples taken from 12,000 men in eastern Asia suggests that:
…anatomically modern humans rose out of Africa in the past 100,000 years and swept aside populations of archaic humans, with no inter-breeding…
The researchers found 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)

This may be relevant to the current disagreement in Investigator regarding "Adam and Eve and Neanderthals".


KIDS DIE IN DOCTRINE/TREATMENT STAND-OFF

A number of sectarian religions reject all or some medical treatment on doctrinal/religious grounds and would even let their children die.

Pediatrics (1998 April) documented 140 child deaths "from religion motivated neglect" in 23 religions in the USA from 1975 to 1995.

Time (1998 August 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?"


PRIVATE FRANK

Ten years ago an Investigator article titled "Onward Christian Soldier!" said in part:
Formerly an 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)
The Sunday Mail (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!

Frank 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.

The 1993 Investigator article focused on Private Frank's conflict with the authorities: "Satan is using the Adelaide Council to stop me," he said back then.

Satan evidently lost, for Frank is still distributing Bibles in the same place as ten years ago — Adelaide's Rundle Mall.





INVESTIGATOR 89, 2003 MARCH

CROP CIRCLES        

www.lovely.clara.net/homepg.html
This 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.

Or are "genuine" ones merely hoaxes of a more elaborate sort?


ALTERNATIVE THERAPY — CHILDREN AT RISK?

A study headed by Professor Alastair MacLennan found that Australians spend $2,300 million yearly on complementary therapies and medicine — four times as much as on prescription medicines.

Many alternative 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…"

The Australian 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)


ETERNAL YOUTH

For less 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.

The 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 internet."

 
http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/