BRIEF REPORTS from Investigator Magazine 90 - 99



INVESTIGATOR 90, 2003 MAY

NASCA LINES

The Nasca area in southern Peru has 1,000 giant-sized, animal and other figures etched onto the ground. Commonly referred to a "Nasca lines" the technical name is "geoglyphs". Many are difficult to identify by someone at ground level and therefore public knowledge of them delayed until the 1920s with the increasing use of aeroplanes. The figures were created by removing stones and soil from the surface thus leaving lighter-colored material exposed.

A 1940s theory, that the lines were a calendar, was refuted in 1968 by Gerald Hawkins who previously researched Stonehenge. Erich von Daniken, a Swiss mythmaker of the 1960s-1980s, interpreted the Nasca lines as guides to help alien flying saucers to land. A newer interpretation is that the lines indicated water sources in the desert.  

For more-detailed information see:
A F Aveni, 2000. Nasca: Eighth Wonder of the World? British Museum Press.
L Eddie, The Nasca Lines, Investigator 61, 1998 July.


WITCHCRAFT

According to the Sunday Mail, citing a 2001 census, witchcraft is increasing in Australia. Registered witches increased from 2,000 in 1996 to 9,000 in 2001. In South Australia they increased from 154 in 1996 to 841 in 50 covens. (Sunday Mail, 2002, July 21, p.19)




INVESTIGATOR 91, 2003 JULY

FLAT EARTH

The common belief that mediaeval thinkers believed the Earth is flat may be wrong.

A letter in Fortean Times magazine (No. 144, p. 51) refers to the book Inventing the Flat Earth (J B Russell, 1991) and says, "This shows that mediaeval thinkers assumed the roundness of the Earth. The myth of mediaeval belief in a Flat Earth was begun by Washington Irving in 1828 and popularised by the anti-clerical writers John W Draper and Andrew Dickson White in the late 19th century."



SOME USEFUL BOOKS and WEBSITES

Martyr, P. 2002. Paradise of Quacks: An Alternative History of Medicine in Australia.  Macleay Press. 394 pages.

Randles, J. 2000. The UFOs That Never Were. London House.

Rickard, B & Michell, J 2000. Unexplained Phenomena: A Rough Guide Special. [This is an update of Phenomena, 1977, and Living Wonders, 1982.]

www.forteantimes.com/
Related to Fortean Times magazine this website has lots of bizarre stories and reports of strange happenings.

www.silentlambs.org/index.cfm
Reports and discussions about child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York allegedly has a database of over 23,000 JW child molesters!




 
INVESTIGATOR 93, 2003 November

DANGEROUS MEDICINE

Reader’s Digest has had useful articles in recent years about dangerous or useless, but expensive, medical treatment. For example:

Hidden Dangers of Herbal Medicine (2001 November). This article shows that some herbal medicines can interact dangerously with other, medically prescribed, drugs. Anyone taking herbal treatments should therefore get their doctor’s advice first.

The Truth About Natural Therapists (2000 July). The Reader’s Digest reporter comments on, "the contradictory advice I received. My irises revealed different symptoms almost daily."  She says, "Only two of the 25 naturopaths gave me what I considered to be sensible and harmless advice…" She quotes an Adelaide University professor who said, "their contradictions highlight the industry’s complete lack of scientific credibility."


IS THE BIBLE TRUE?

A Reader’s Digest article titled "Is The Bible True?" (2001 April) says "Archaeologists are making believers of sceptics." Perhaps, but they’ve done this in a narrow range of points. Reader’s Digest mentions confirmation of Pontius Pilate, and the Old Testament’s apparently accurate reflection of the price of slaves. Give sceptics — or skeptics — free reign to reply and raise what points they want, as in Investigator Magazine, and proving the Bible becomes much more challenging!


THE SOURCE OF GOD’S WORDS FOUND

For 1100 years until the 4th century AD the oracle at Delphi in Greece gave people advice from Apollo. Apollo, son of Zeus, was their god of music, poetry, healing and prophecy.

The priestess or "Pythia" at the Temple of Apollo spoke after entering a trance, "by inhaling sulphureous vapours which issued from the ground from a hole over which she sat on a three-legged stool or tripod." (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 14th edition, p897)

The "vapours", long dismissed by scholars, may be factual. Reader’s Digest (2002 September) reported the discovery, in 1981 and 1998, of two faults that intersect under the temple. Underlying strata contain petrochemicals that release methane, ethane and ethylene, chemicals that produce altered mental states.

 



INVESTIGATOR 94, 2004 January


ONE LESS WORRY FOR CHINESE

Many Chinese immigrants to Australia dislike phone numbers, numberplates, and house addresses containing the digit "4" and will pay extra to change or avoid it. The reason is superstition — "four", to them, smacks of bad luck and death.

The Cantonese word for "four" sounds like the word for "death". Number 14 sounds like "must die" and "24" sounds like "easy to die". In Hong Kong some high-rise buildings lack floors numbered 4th, 14th and 24th. Presumably they nevertheless have such floors even if labelled 5th, 16th and 27th!

The third and eighth days of each month, in contrast, are considered lucky. "Three" sounds like "life" or "longevity" and "eight" is associated to prosperity.

The Medical Journal of Australia (Volume 179, Dec. 11, 644-645) reported research, "To determine whether more cardiac deaths occur in Hong Kong Chinese people on days of the month with deathly connotations."

Based on 17,346 cardiac deaths the researchers concluded, "Our study of Hong Kong Chinese people does not support the concept that more cardiac deaths occur in Cantonese people on the 4th, 14th and 24th day of the month."

The researchers, led by Associate Professor Nirmal Panesar from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, investigated cardiac death statistics for different days of the month in Hong Kong where 95% of people speak Cantonese.

The researchers looked at cardiac mortality on the lucky and unlucky days for all months from 1995 to 2000 in both the Gregorian and lunar calendars. They found no difference between lucky days or unlucky days compared to other days.


HORRIFIED VILLAGERS SHUN "GHOST"

People of Ban Maed village, northeastern Thailand, were horrified in May 2003 when a man they believed dead and cremated reappeared.
Believing Thanom Wongsupheng, 35, to be a ghost his own relatives rejected him. The misunderstanding came about because his identity card had been found on a man killed in a motorcycle accident and later cremated.
(The Advertiser 2003, May 17, p55; The Weekend Australian May 17-18, p17)
 




INVESTIGATOR 96, 2004 May


ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

In What’s the Harm? Michael Shermer writes: "The choice is not between scientific medicine that doesn’t work and alternative medicine that might work. Instead there is only scientific medicine that has been tested and everything else…that has not been tested." (Scientific American 2003, December)

Users of alternative medicine often do not inform their doctor and, as a consequence, may harm themselves. For example, St John’s wort, a popular herb, impairs the effectiveness of some prescription medications.


SUPERSTITION

In South Africa people commonly believe that accidents are due to witchcraft and that prevention has more to do with "medicine" than being careful. This may partly explain the high rate of fatal road accidents in that country.

Comparison of the accident rates of 130 minibus drivers with their level of superstition showed a positive correlation — the more-superstitious drivers had more accidents.
(Accident Analysis and Prevention, Volume 35, 2003 July, 619-623;
www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00014575)


ATLANTIS

A new theory of Atlantis surfaced in 2001.

The new theory identifies Atlantis with a small island named Spartel that existed west of the Pillars of Hercules during the last ice age when sea levels were over 100 metres lower than now.  19,000 years ago Spartel was above sea level and was about 14km by 5km in size. Rising sea levels swamped the island about 11,000 years ago.

The oldest account of Atlantis was put together by Plato from stories in Egypt and appears in his works Timaeus and Critias.
(New Scientist 2001, September 22, p17)


SUPREME DIVINITY

Many Chinese are misusing the freedoms they’re gaining as Communism declines by starting or joining new cults. Liu Jiaguo of Hunan province, China, called himself a god and founded the Supreme Divinity cult and had thousands of followers. He lived in luxury on money obtained from selling salvation. In October 1999 Liu Jiaguo, 44, was executed for having raped 11 women and two girls.


WEREWOLF CULT

If you’ve come across students howling at houses at midnight, devouring raw meat and generally acting like werewolves there’s a simple explanation.

They’ve joined a cult which requires such conduct.


Religion News Blog is a website by a Christian counter cult group with many unusual stories. The werewolf cult is supposedly active in Australia; the story was posted November 8.





INVESTIGATOR 97, 2004 July

SCIENCE SOLVES ANOTHER MYSTERY

In Spitzbergen and other polar regions are extensive areas containing hundreds of circles with elevated circumferences composed of gravel or small stones. The doughnut-shaped circles are one or two metres wide.

The process of their formation is now explained. The circles result from repeated winter-freezing and summer-thawing across several centuries. As the surface freezes, capillary action sucks up water and grains of soil. This slightly displaces stones that lie loosely and randomly on the surface. The displacement increases year by year and gradually results in circular heaps. (New Scientist 2003, January 25, p20)


BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS

Over 20,000 Australians received the hepatitis C virus from blood transfusions in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1991 the Red Cross asked the Federal Government to issue a warning to advise blood transfusion recipients to be tested but this was not done. Many people infected were women giving birth and these passed the virus to their babies and their partners.

Hepatitis C can stay in the blood for 30 years and cause liver cancer. (Sunday Mail 2004, June 13)


NEANDERTHALS

Anthropologists compared the craniofacial features of 1,089 skull specimens from 7 modern human populations, 12 species of primates and 5 Neanderthals. The current conclusion is: "Neanderthals and modern humans are not related subspecies, but rather two entirely different species." (New Scientist 2004, January 31, p16)

Furthermore, in genetic studies of mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons and modern humans the latter two could not be distinguished from each other but both differed to Neanderthals. (New Scientist 2004, May 1 p.16)


END OF THE WORLD — JUNE 2004

In recent months White Wolf, a Cherokee Indian, spread the message the world would end by comet impact in June. An Adelaide investigator of the paranormal said: "I have taken him off my mail list, as all I have been getting from him is all this garbage about the earth ending this month."

In addition, someone claiming to be "Dr Gartrell" posted messages on Internet sites from "Aussie Bloke" and foretold a comet impact for June 18-20.

Dr Grant Gartrell, a retired physicist of Adelaide, wrote about comets for the Australian Journal of Physics in 1975 but is not the originator of the hoax. His identity was stolen by an imposter.
 




INVESTIGATOR 98, 2004 September

ZOMBIE ALERT

Don’t let zombies — the living dead — harass you any longer. New technology now makes it easy for you to keep your distance.

Onko Enterprises sells zombie detection devices at reasonable cost. The devices come in four models — Standard, Industrial, Personal and Mobile. The Standard model will usually be adequate. It uses "the cyclon kinetic energy radiation server" to detect zombie presence within a radius of 1,700 yards. That’s almost one mile or 1½ kilometres. The three payments of $39.95 come with a guarantee of $1million if it fails in a "documented zombie attack." Further details on the Internet.



EXTINCTION THEORY GAINS SUPPORT

The Permian-Triassic Extinction, 250 million years ago, killed off over 90% of all species on Earth. (See Investigator #62) In 2001 came the first evidence that the main cause may have been an impact of an asteroid into the ocean. This led to a debate between "Anonymous" and Kirk Straughen about the interpretation of the first verses in Genesis. (#79, p22)

Now, the crater from the impact may have been discovered.  Bedout Crater in the ocean off north-west Australia was discovered when core samples taken during a search for oil contained shocked quartz and meteorite fragments. (The Advertiser, May 15, 2004, p21) Reports on the Internet suggest the crater is over 200 kilometres wide.


HEALTHY EATING THE BIBLE WAY

Investigator once had an articles on The Bible Helps Your Health and Bible Tucker is Good Tucker. It seems others have had similar insight. Rev George Malkmus advocates the Hallelujah Diet. He recommends 80% raw food and excludes all animal products except honey. It’s based on Genesis 1:29
"And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the Earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

Rev Malkmus says that in early Old Testament times people followed this diet and lived hundreds of years. His website has stories of people today following the Hallelujah Diet and experiencing miraculous recoveries from illness.

Author Jordan Rubin in The Maker’s Diet allows for more variety. Using the Old Testament he additionally promotes poultry, various other meats and dairy products.


SETI AND THE BIBLE

The senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, California, predicts we’ll detect other intelligent life in our galaxy — if it exists — within 20 years. (New Scientist, 2004, July 24, p24)

Seth Shostak used the formula proposed in 1961 by Frank Drake (Investigator 94 p16) and calculated that between 10,000 and 1,000,000 alien civilizations in our galaxy might be transmitting radio signals.

In coming up with 20 years Shostak estimates that computer processing power will keep on doubling every few years and radio telescope technology will also advance.

In Investigator 71 "Anonymous" explained why an all-powerful God who loves us humans — if such a God exists — would let humans suffer so much. From the explanation it apparently followed that: "Alien civilizations, therefore, either don’t exist or if they do exist they would be at peace with God and therefore forbidden from contacting us and telling us." (p35)

Detection of aliens versus no detection — opposing predictions!

This looks like a major showdown between science and the Bible except for one problem — if science loses the defeat is already explained. New Scientist (2004, August 14, p4) says, "broadcast television services are giving way to technologies that do not leak radio signals into space." Similarly, if alien civilizations exist, their planets might not be emitting detectable radio signals!

 



INVESTIGATOR 99, 2004 November

FAIRY CIRCLES

The mysterious "fairy circles" of Namibia consist of circular patches of bare soil two to ten metres across.

Three theories to explain them have failed:
•    Radioactive soil;
•    Termites;
•    Milkbrush plants poisoning the soil.   
New Scientist (2004, April 3) reported that:
•    Soil samples showed no radioactivity;
•    No termite nests were found;
•    Grass species flourished in the laboratory in soil taken from beneath Milkbrushes.
Unlike with the cereal circles of England, hoax is not suspected. Nor, so far, are flying saucers!


NEW "HUMAN" SPECIES

An extinct human-like species has been unearthed in Indonesia on the island of Flores east of Java.
Homo floresiensis existed for about 850,000 years and was wiped out by a volcanic eruption about 12,000 years ago.
They used stone tools and fire and cooked food and hunted dwarf elephants and giant rats. However, they were small guys, only 1-metre tall and weighed 25 kilogram, but were proportioned like us and walked upright. Their brain was the size of a chimpanzee brain.

The current idea is that H floresiensis descended from Homo erectus – an "ape-man" species that lived about 1,600,000 to 300,000 years ago. H floresiensis was therefore "neither an ancestor nor a descendant of modern humans."

It’s believed that modern humans reached Indonesia over 40,000 years ago. Therefore H floresiensis and humans were neighbors for over 25,000 years! (The Australian 2004, October 28, pp 1, 16)


GERMAN IMPACT

An asteroid of diameter 1,100 metres hit Germany around 200 BC about 100km south-east of Munich near Lake Chiemsee. (Sunday Mail 2004, October 17, p46)

A formula supplied by "Anonymous" in Investigator 62 p47 gives the energy of such an impact as 99,000 megatons. That’s about six times the explosive power of the combined American and Soviet nuclear arsenals in the 1980s!

Such an explosion would have had major climatic and hence political consequences. Yet standard histories indicate nothing so unusual in the period around 200 BC. Rome won the war against Carthage; the Great Wall of China was being built; Syria defeated Egypt; etc.



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