(Investigator 11, 1990 March)
I'M ANNOYED that the Portside Messenger has joined the ranks of newspapers that promote astrology.
Ever since Johann Keppler (1571-1630) astronomers have known that astrology is a superstition.
In his book Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained that studies of the lives of twins refute astrology. Also: "In careful tests, they (astrologers) are unable to predict the character and future of people they know nothing about except their time and place of birth".
Some people may joke about being born on the cusp of two constellations and therefore able to choose either fate. About 30 per cent of Australians however, take astrology seriously. Many others trust in tarot cards or numerology.
Why don't newspaper editors act responsibly in this bad situation by balancing the superstition with a Skeptics Column?
(Portside Messenger 1989, September 20)
MELBOURNE – A man who gambled away his savings after a clairvoyant had told him he would inherit money has complained to the Victorian Department of Consumer Affairs…
The clairvoyant had offered to refund the consultation fee. The Government was unable to help the man in his demand for monetary compensation for the money lost and for the money which he did not win.
(The Advertiser 1985, November 29)
EDINBURGH – Edinburgh University announced today it would set up Britain's first professorship to study paranormal phenomena ranging from poltergeists and levitation to telepathy and clairvoyance. More than $770,000 for the chair of parapsychology was left in the will of writer Arthur Koestler who committed suicide with his wife Cynthia last march.
(The Advertiser 1984, February 24)
Foiled again– by a recycled myth
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has been deluged with worthless cigarette packet foil because of an urban myth.
Last week alone the society was sent an estimated 32,000 pieces of foil by donors from all parts of the State.
Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of SA promotions manager Mr Ralf Hadzic said yesterday a myth had been spreading that the association was collecting the packet liners to raise funds, or that it would accept 4000 foils for a guide dog…
Mr Hadzic said that 20 years ago the myth had been that the association would accept milk bottle tops for guide dogs, but with the growing use of milk cartons it had changed to cigarette packet foils.
"They have no value at all," he said. "Even the scrap metal merchants won't accept them."…
Mr Hadzic said a similar rumor had spread recently that people at Bedford Industries would get a new wheelchair if they collected 4000 foils…
"We are horrified that people get sucked in by this sort of thing and get disillusioned," Mr Hadzic said.
"What amazes me is the amount of time and effort people put into collecting the things.
"If we could only get people to put in that sort of effort for our other projects we would have all the money we needed."…
(The Advertiser 1986, January 13)
An early report about the Loch Ness Monster from The Times of March, 1956:
THE SEA SERPENT IN THE HIGHLANDS.–
The village of Leurbost, parish of Lochs, Lewis, is at present the scene of an unusual occurrence,
This is no less than the appearance in one of the inland fresh water lakes of an animal which from its great size and dimensions has not a little puzzled our island naturalists. Some suppose him to be a description of the hitherto mythological water-kelpie; while others refer it to the minute descriptions of the "sea serpent," which are derived from time to time in newspaper columns.
It has been repeatedly seen within the last fortnight by crowds of people, many of whom have come from the remotest part of the parish to witness the uncommon spectacle.
The animal is described by some as being in appearance and size like a "huge peat stack," while others affirm that a "six-oared boat" could pass between the huge fins, which are occasionally visible. All, however, agree, in describing its form as that of the eel; and we have heard one, whose evidence we can rely on, state that in length he supposed it to be about 40 feet.
It is probable that it is no more than a conger eel after all, animals of this description having been caught in Highland lakes which have attained a huge size.
He is currently reported to have swallowed a blanket inadvertently left on the bank of the lake by a girl herding cattle.
A sportsman ensconced himself with a rifle in the vicinity of the loch during a whole day, hoping to get a shot, but did no execution. – Inverness Courier.