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(Part 3 of 6, continued from previous message. Copyright 1991 by the National Center for Science Education. Redistributed in the Evolution Echo by permission of the author.) Loss of Funds by the CSF Both Price and Plimer have accused the creationists of financial wrongdoing. In 1986, the Australian Skeptics discovered that the CSF's financial reports listed a loss of $92,363 (Bridgstock 1986, pp. 70-71). Plimer described this loss in his debate with Gish: "So when we look at the Creation Science Foundation in this country, it is a closed shop. Seven people who control it, have their hand in the till, whatever you want to call it. And there's a not insubstantial amount of money, $92,358 [sic], which is unaccounted for. It just disappeared. So you can't trust these people with your children,(7) you can't trust them with your money." Plimer (1989) also wrote of this loss of funds in his article about the Gish debate in the magazine _Media Information Australia_ using the term "financial fraud" (p. 11 and p. 12). Barry Price (1990, pp. 186-191) uses several pages of his book to describe this loss of funds. He notes (p. 187) that the CSF's director and secretary at the time of the loss, John Thallon, was director of a company, Tralil Pty. Ltd., with which the CSF contracted for "management consultancy services" for the period September 1, 1984 to June 30, 1985. Price writes that "This contract with Tralil is presumably a result of investment losses noted in the _Statement of Income and Expenditure for the year ended 31st March 1985_, which records 'Extraordinary Item Loss of Investments, 1984, $47,939 and 1985, $44,424.'" It is difficult to see how this contract could be a _result_ of the losses, given that it was made before the losses occurred. This contract was, in fact, for accountancy services from Thallon, who had requested that the CSF hire him as an employee of Tralil, his family trust company--a type of arrangement which has since been legislated against by the Australian government. (An investigation of this arrangement, unrelated to the lost investment, by the Australian Taxation Office, found no impropriety. The CSF's section 23(e) tax exemption was renewed without incident.) Neither Plimer nor Price has given details on just how the investment loss took place. The lost funds were interest-free loans from CSF members which had been invested in a company on the advice of CSF director Thallon, who also invested a great deal of his own money. This company in turn invested in yet another company, which ended up defrauding its investors, causing losses for both the CSF and Thallon. Since Thallon had recommended this investment, he felt responsible for the loss and resigned from the CSF. The CSF notified its "closest supporters" of the loss, who contributed funds to pay off the interest-free loans (Robert Doolan, personal communication, February 8, 1991). The CSF supporters as a whole, however, were not informed of the loss until it was made public by the Australian Skeptics, after which the CSF circulated an explanation (Rendle-Short 1988). Barry Price (1990, pp. 187-188) writes of other CSF directors' resignations in the context of this investment loss: David John Denner, Robert Stephen Gustafson, John Mackay, and Ken Ham. Denner resigned because of health problems but is still a member of the CSF, Steve Gustafson continues as a legal adviser to the CSF, John Mackay resigned and formed his own creationist organization because of a personal conflict with another member of the CSF staff, and Ken Ham did not in fact ever resign (Robert Doolan, personal communication, February 18, 1991). Analysis: Plimer and Price have insinuated that the loss of funds was due to untrustworthiness of (or, in Plimer's argument, fraud by) the CSF, when in fact the causes of the loss were criminal actions which victimized the CSF. Those responsible for the fraud have been convicted, and there is some possibility that some of the lost funds may yet be recovered. The CSF should have informed all of its supporters of the loss immediately, instead of waiting until the Australian Skeptics discovered it, but their reluctance to do so is understandable. Plimer's published remarks led to an apology to the CSF and Duane Gish by _Media Information Australia_ (1990). Price has also wrongly implied that the resignations of a number of CSF directors was a result of the loss of funds and falsely claimed that Ken Ham resigned. Gustafson v Price In Barry Price's summary of the finances of the CSF (Price 1990, p. 191), he states that Robert Stephen Gustafson's name "disappeared without explanation from company records after a payment of $8,719 was made by the board of directors to a company in which he had an interest." He writes this immediately after stating that the CSF is not accountable to its supporters and bringing up the loss of funds again. But Price's statement is false. On November 30, 1990, Gustafson filed suit against Price, Millenium Books Pty. Ltd., Price's publisher, and Chertsey Fifty- Nine Pty. Ltd., the printer, for making a false and defamatory allegation about Gustafson. Price failed to file a defense within the six weeks allotted, but did file a late defense. (Such tardiness usually requires the defendant to pay the legal costs of the action up to the date the defense is filed.) By August of 1991, Price's lawyers had offered an apology and pulping of all remaining copies of the book as a settlement, which Gustafson rejected. [_Ed: The book has been withdrawn by the publisher, nevertheless, and is now unavailable in the U.S., at least._] Analysis: Price made an erroneous remark, in a context which implied that the payment was somehow related to the loss of funds. In fact, the payment was not only unrelated to the loss of funds, the payment was not to Gustafson or to a company in which he had an interest. The payment in question, which was $8,118.75 not $8,719, was payment to Tralil Pty. Ltd. for the accountancy services of John Thallon. Alleged Missing Financial Reports On an Australian national radio broadcast on Robyn Williams' "Ockham's Razor" show of January 8, 1989, Ian Plimer stated that the CSF "submitted no annual report for 1988, no annual report for 1987, and no annual report for 1986" to the Corporate Affairs Commission. Barry Price (1990, p. 190) writes that "Reports for 1986 and 1987 do not seem to be available. Presumably extensions have been granted by the Corporate Affairs Commission because of extenuating circumstances." In fact, the CSF has filed returns for each of these years, all of which were available at the time Plimer spoke on the radio and by the time Price's book was published. A letter dated March 7, 1989 from J. Kral of the Office of the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs to Carl Wieland, managing director of the CSF, states that "You are advised that all the Annual Returns mentioned in your letter have been lodged with this office." The letter goes on to give the dates on which the returns for 1986, 1987, and 1988 were filed: August 8, 1986, December 4, 1987, and December 5, 1988, respectively. This evidence was supplied to the Australian Broadcasting Company, which on June 4, 1989 apologized for Plimer's remarks. Analysis: Plimer and Price both made false statements which they could have easily checked out but didn't. Plimer (personal communication, January 9, 1991) offers no explanation for his remarks, but maintains that the ABC "caved in" by apologizing against his recommendation. He has neither apologized nor admitted any error, and claims that the CSF is using the apologies from ABC and _Media Information Australia_ as part of a "propaganda campaign" against him.


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