The Arizona Skeptic A Journal Promoting Critical Thinking Volume 5, Issue 4 January/Februa

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

The Arizona Skeptic A Journal Promoting Critical Thinking Volume 5, Issue 4 January/February 1992 Predictions for 1992! Compiled by Mike Stackpole These are the predictions made by the Phoenix Skeptics at the December 7, 1991 meeting. In '89 and '90 we had a hit rate of over 60%. For 1991, as of December 17, we were at 49.75% hits, and I expect one or two more before the end of the year. 1) At least three people will bring guns to work to let their bosses and coworkers know what they think about the work environment. 2) The Doomsday Clock will be moved back closer to midnight. 3) There will be a surprise Democrat candidate for President in 1992. 4) Gorbachev comes to the U.S. and gets his own talk show. 5) The KGB develops an interest in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's interrogation techniques. 6) There will be another Kennedy Scandal. 7) Ted Kennedy becomes born again. 8) Jimmy Swaggart will minister to another fallen woman in 1992. 9) Greenspan's "meaningful downturn" in the economy will worsen. 10) So will the Phoenix Cardinals' record (get worse, that is). 11) Inflation will increase in 1992. 12) Charlie Keating will be hitting golf balls issued by the State of California Corrections Department. 13) The summer of 1992 in Arizona will be hotter than that of 1991. 14) The January 4th eclipse will spawn three religions, two philosophies and one fad diet. 15) The Soviet Military will have a "broken arrow" nuclear accident. 16) There will be a nuclear power accident in Eastern Europe. 17) There will be new U.S. hostages taken in the Middle East. 18) A former U.S. President will be hospitalized in 1992. 19) Saddam Hussein will remain alive and in power for the year. 20) The AMA will issue policy statements concerning informing patients about health professionals with HIV infections. 21) The AMA will support handgun control. 22) Justices Thomas and Souter will develop opinions on abortion. 23) The quality of Congress does not increase despite their pay raise. 24) President Bush's popularity will hit all time lows in 1992. 25) A woman will be nominated to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that will open up in 1992. 26) The Resolution Trust Company will end up wasting more money than Charlie Keating did. 27) An earthquake will cause damage in Tokyo. 28) California will not fall into the ocean. 29) Astronomers are declared "endangered" on Mt. Graham. 30) South Chilean sheep suffer increases in cancer. 31) An asteroid will have a "near miss" with the earth in 1992. 32) US border towns will be threatened with a cholera epidemic in 1992. 33) There will be no white fly problem in 1992. 34) Drug use will increase and education will decrease in 1992. 35) Maricopa County will fail to pass a new bond issue in 1992. 36) An AIDS vaccine breakthrough will be announced, but the FDA will drag its feet in approving it. 37) Manuel Noriega gets a light sentence for his crimes. 38) Michael Jackson, after another operation, will marry David Duke's daughter. 39) British pranksters continue to oblige crop-circle researchers during the silly season in 1992. 40) Japanese electronics industry makes further inroads in the US economy. 41) Arizona again votes down the Martin Luther King holiday. 42) RU486 is approved for limited use in the United States. 43) Democrats increase their control in the house in the 1992 elections. 44) The reelection rate of incumbents drops in 1992 elections. 45) _The Batman Returns_ will be the top grossing film of 1992. 46) UFOs will be sighted over New York City and Miami. 47) The Washington Redskins will win the Superbowl. 48) Terry Anderson will have a best selling book in 1992. 49) Skin cancer will be on the increase in 1992. 50) The Dow Jones Index will crack 3300 in 1992. 51) A prominent athlete admits steroid use in 1992. 52) An influential politician admits he is HIV positive in 1992. ...And, as always, we predict that our hit rate will be higher than anyone else's in the coming year. Comments on Lippard's Review of _They Call It Hypnosis_ By Robert A. Baker As I tried to make clear in my book, _They Call It Hypnosis_, nearly everything about the concept of "hypnosis"* is controversial. My primary motive in writing the book was to provide the general public with a solid path of reliable information through a veritable wilderness of claims and counterclaims. Just about everything possible and impossible has been claimed about hypnosis. For example, people claimed one could hypnotize people behind their backs when they were unaware, one could hypnotize people via ESP or over the telephone, people can be kept in a trance for seven years or more, and so on and so on. In the past, most practitioners of Mesmerism sincerely believed that hypnosis gave people supernatural powers, i.e., made them clairvoyant, provided them with ESP powers, enabled them to communicate with the dead and discarnate spirits, etc. All such occult claims have been shown again and again to be unfounded and either delusionary or fraudulent or the result of human error. [* In Baker's manuscript, every occurrence of this term in all its forms appears in quotation marks, and he notes that he has done so "to indicate that no such phenomenon exists." I have omitted them throughout the rest of the article simply to conserve space. --Editor] With regard to several of the issues that Lippard felt should have been dealt with in more detail let me add a few clarifying remarks. First, with regard to the issue of controlling hypnotized people or having them carry out behavior of any sort or criminal acts against their will--time and again carefully controlled experiments have shown that the so-called "hypnotized" individual will not do anything he or she would not do when they are wide awake. Every ardent young male in the country wishes this weren't true. Think about it. All one would have to do is learn hypnosis and then he could have his way with all the girls. Fortunately for the ladies, this can't be done. No young lady is going to surrender under hypnosis any more readily than she would surrender if she were wide awake. If she wants to surrender then she can, of course, use hypnosis as a handy rationalization. The most convincing proof, however, of the fact that people who are hypnotized are not robots or automatons under the control of the hypnotist comes from the efforts of the CIA, who carried out over a decade of research to determine if it was possible to create a "Manchurian Candidate"--i.e., to use hypnosis to program a man to turn, after the appropriate signal, into a mindless robot killer. All of the CIA's efforts proved to be impossible and, as reported by Thomas (1989), some of their efforts resembled a Marx Brothers' comedy. Hoping to create a "sleeper-killer" who would be used to assassinate Castro, the CIA recruited several Cuban refugees from Miami and selected one who appeared to the hypnotic experts as the "ideal" subject. After days of careful programming and implanting the secret word in the subject's unconscious while under hypnosis, the day of the final test arrived. According to the program, when the Cuban heard the key word in the presence of Fidel this would cause him to draw his weapon and shoot the dictator. To test the training the hypnotist ordered the Cuban to imagine he was at Castro's side. Then the hypnotist uttered the key word. Nothing happened. The hypnotist tried again and again nothing happened. Finally the hypnotist gave up and brought the Cuban out of the trance. Once more the hypnotist uttered the secret word--"cigar." This time the man looked at the hypnotist blankly and said, "No thanks, I don't smoke." Unfortunately, despite the CIA fiasco, the legend of the Manchurian Candidate refuses to die. As for the matter of Spiegel's findings of differences in the brain waves of hypnotized and non-hypnotized individuals (1985), to my knowledge these results have not been replicated since. Moreover, David Spiegel and his father are strong proponents of the "state" theory and both support the notion that hypnotizability is a hereditary trait and that an S's ability to roll his eyeballs is a clue to his hypnotizability. Spiegel has also argued that specific and unique EEG changes accompany the personality shifts in MPD** patients and suggests that the secondary personalities in MPD cases are biologically independent of each other as well as psychologically independent. It should be remembered, however, that no EEG differences could be found between the three personalities in _The Three Faces of Eve_ (Thigpen and Cleckley, 1957). Of even greater interest is the curious fact that EEG changes can be produced by people _simulating_ multiple personality (Coons, Milstein, and Marley, 1982) which, again, suggests the social-cognitive role-playing nature of many MPD disorders as well as so-called "hypnosis." Most experts in the EEG area have concluded that no differences in EEG patterns can be found between the hypnotized and unhypnotized states. In the words of Negley-Parker (1986), "There is the possibility that differences between the brain waves of the hypnotized and 'awake' subjects are too subtle to be picked up by the relatively crude measurements of the electroencephalogram, but the available evidence indicates that brain waves are practically the same in hypnosis or out of it." (p. 9) [** Multiple Personality Disorder. --Editor] This conclusion is also shared by Paul Davies (1988) in his review of the available evidence at the time. We should remember, however, that hypnosis does correlate with relaxation and that relaxation _per se_ can produce a number of marked physiological and EEG changes. We must never forget that the EEG is still--even today--a very crude and unreliable tool. Further, we must also remember that experimenter bias and expectation is such that we usually pretty much find whatever it is we are looking for. Until additional replications of Spiegel's work appear, I remain quite skeptical and am certainly inclined to agree with Spanos on his point that Spiegel has misread his data. As for the issue of hypnotic susceptibility tests, I am not alone in finding them of limited usefulness and with little or no predictive validity, i.e., they do not predict who is and who is not hypnotizable. Some individuals who have scored very low on the Stanford scales proved to be some of my best hypnotic subjects. What the Stanford and other scales measure is not hypnotizability per se but compliance and suggestibility, e.g., raising and lowering of an arm, eye closure, swaying, etc., which are components of but not the total of the social situation we call hypnosis. Response expectancies play a major and important role in the hypnotic situation as well as motivation. No matter what their score on a hypnotic susceptibility scale, people who have a strong need to be hypnotized in order to gain some end such as losing weight or stopping smoking will prove to be ideal subjects in the clinic. Because most clinical patients can easily be hypnotized in much less time than one could administer any of the susceptibility tests, few clinicians bother with them (Cohen, 1986). Moreover, even if the tests showed the client was at the bottom of the scale, the clinician would still be forced to find some way of successfully hypnotizing his patient. If one method doesn't work, the skilled clinician uses another technique. And, as all of them know, there are few--if any--unhypnotizable clients. If you want to use a test, one of the simplest as well as quickest of all and one that has as much predictive validity as any of the standard ones is this: approach the client, smile, and stick out your hand. If the client takes it and shakes it, he or she is socially conditioned to respond to your subsequent request to relax, close their eyes, and focus on the internal imagery your suggestions provide. This is all hypnosis is and I have yet to meet the human being incapable of doing this. In other words: everyone is hypnotizable if they wish to be and no one is hypnotizable if they don't want to be. This is an easily observable fact, despite what any and all experts may claim. Finally, in Cohen's words, Although there may be some positive correlation between hypnotizability and certain therapeutic gains, the reverse does not hold true. That is, there is no indication that low hypnotizability means that a given individual will not respond therapeutically. In my opinion, this is the major reason that most clinicians do not use the tests...I know of no clinician, including those who have developed or espoused tests, who would advocate withholding hypnosis from a patient simply because he or she scored low on a hypnotizability test." (p. 97) References Baker, Robert A. (1990) _They Call It Hypnosis_. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Cohen, Sheldon (1986) "Clinical Usefulness of Hypnotizability Tests," in _Hypnosis: Questions and Answers_, ed. by Bernie Zilbergeld, M.G. Edelstein, and Daniel Araoz, N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Co. Coons, Philip, Milstein, Victor, and Marley, Carma (1982) "EEG Studies of Two Multiple Personalities and a Control," _Arch. Gen. Psychiatry_ 39:823-825. Davies, Paul (1988) "Some Considerations of the Physiological Effect of Hypnosis," in _Hypnosis: Current Clinical, Experimental, and Forensic Practices_, ed. by M. Heap, London: Croom Helm. Lippard, Jim (1991) "Book Review: _They Call It Hypnosis_ by Robert A. Baker," _The Arizona Skeptic_ 5(July/August):6-7. Negley-Parker, Esther (1986) "Physiological Correlates and Effects of Hypnosis," in _Hypnosis: Questions and Answers_, op. cit. Spanos, Nicholas (1986) "Hypnotic Behavior: A Social Psychological Interpretation of Amnesia, Analgesia, and 'Trance Logic'," _Behavioral and Brain Sciences_ 9:449-502. Spiegel, David, Cutcomb, S., Ren, C., and Pribram, K. (1985) "Hypnotic Hallucination Alters Evoked Potentials," _Journal of Abnormal Psychology_ 94:249-255. Thigpen, Corbett H. and Cleckley, Hervey M. (1957) _The Three Faces of Eve_. N.Y.: McGraw-Hill. Thomas, Gordon (1989) _Journey into Madness: The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse_. N.Y.: Bantam Books. _Robert A. Baker has taught psychology at Stanford, MIT, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author of_ They Call It Hypnosis _and (forthcoming)_ Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within_, both from Prometheus Books._ Book Review _Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?_ by Charles Bufe 1991, See Sharpe Press, 158 pp., $9.95 Reviewed by Terry Sandbek, Ph.D. No one can deny that alcohol is part of our culture. So are the morals, myths, and misconceptions surrounding it. Americans have always had strange attitudes towards booze. For example, we bemoan the fact that our teenagers are so seduced by it but are unwilling to let parents teach their children how to drink properly. Dr. Wayne Bartz, co-author of _The Better Way to Drink_, has found that publishers, out of fear of potential litigation, are unwilling to support a book which would teach parents how to educate their children about alcohol. In the midst of this cultural ambiguity, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is one of the most visible organizations in America. Because of its ubiquitous nature, it is axiomatic for most people that alcoholics must go to A.A. to lick their problem. Recently dissenting voices have begun to question the strategies and usefulness of A.A. It is an unpopular and precarious position to be a critic of A.A. because its supporters are so adamant about its effectiveness. Often, the debate is presented as a black or white issue. Bufe's title hints at this dichotomy. His conclusion is that A.A. is neither cult nor cure-- which will probably irritate everybody interested in the treatment of alcoholism. The book begins with an interesting look at the roots of A.A. While emphasizing pertinent facts about the evolution of its "program," the focal point of A.A. is its manual of sorts, the Big Book. This publication is the heart and soul of A.A. Bufe shows quite conclusively that it is a revised version of the teachings of the Oxford Group Movement (OGM). The Oxford Group Movement,* later known as Moral Re-armament (MRA) was a nondenominational, fundamentalist Christian movement that taught a caricature of mainstream Christian principles for solving life's problems. The founder, Frank Buchanan, set out to overcome the worldwide breakdown of morals. He was convinced that the underpinning of this task was based on moral absolutes: purity, unselfishness, honesty, and love. His strategy was to use house parties where discussions, meditation, testimonials, quiet hours, personal restitution, and public confession took place as a means of transforming society.** [* The Oxford Group Movement is not to be confused with the Oxford Movement which was a mid-nineteenth century effort within the Church of England to restore high church standards and practices.] [** Charles Bufe pointed out in the September 1991 issue of _BASIS_ that "while restitution was one of the Oxford Group Movement's core values, it was not, as stated in the review, normally practiced at the Group's houseparties." --Ed.] Bufe has carefully documented this movement as being the origin of A.A. According to Bufe, A.A. today is really a variant of OGM. A.A.'s founders, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith (Dr. Bob) were active, proselytizing members of OGM for several years. Since OGM members were convinced that its precepts were equally effective for all of humankind's ills, Bill and Dr. Bob sought to apply its precepts to alcoholism. Bufe has devoted an entire chapter to the comparison of A.A. and OGM. The resemblance is striking! He suggests that there are similarities in ideology, style and operation. There is almost a one-to-one correspondence between OGM principles and the A.A. Twelve Steps. For example, the belief in personal powerlessness and divine guidance is clearly seen in steps 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 11. Confession is found in steps 4, 5, and 10. Personal restitution can be observed in steps 8 and 9, while the canon of continuance is spelled in steps 11 and 12. The Oxford Group preached that the majority of people are "defeated" and are powerless in themselves to overcome evil. The initial version of the Twelve Steps insisted that "We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol." The implication for both groups was that only God could relieve this dilemma. Further ideological affinities between the two groups are apparent in the insistence of public confession ("Hi, I'm Joe Bob and I'm a drunk"); the disregard of social, political, and economic factors in problem drinking; an emphasis on human equality in that no one was turned away for racial, sexual or other reasons; and a pervasive anti-intellectualism as observed in the necessity of personal experience. The styles of both groups can be perceived in the use of slogans, aphorisms, and jingoism. Both organizations are stylistically informal, with everyone on a first-name basis regardless of education and wealth. Bufe also points out that both groups are preoccupied with themselves almost to the point of arrogance. By not admitting that other approaches to the same problem could be equally worthwhile, these groups have cut themselves off from healthy dialogue and growth. Bufe proceeds with a critique of the Twelve Steps. Even though he bends over backwards to be fair and objective, most people in Twelve Step programs will probably take it personally. One of his more telling observations is concerned with the religious dimension of A.A. Although A.A. members are quick to point out that they are spiritual rather than religious, Bufe implies that this is nothing more than semantic dishonesty. A.A. is unquestionably religious. Half of the Steps mention God either explicitly or implicitly. This religiosity raises some rather serious questions that touch at the very heart of the program. A.A. today is adamant that alcoholism is a disease or illness. Yet it is equally unrelenting in offering a moral treatment. As Bufe points out, you can't have it both ways. Either alcoholism is a moral problem or the treatment must be a medical one. Inpatient programs for alcohol abuse are always operated by medical personnel. Yet the only medical treatment in these institutions is detoxification. The rest of the program consists of meetings where patients are exhorted and encouraged to "work the program." In other words, once sober, the only cure for alcoholism is a moral change of character. This book points out the inherent contradictions in solving personal powerlessness by giving one's life to a Higher Power. To make this concept more palatable for atheists and agnostics, A.A. members insist that the higher power can be literally anything including doorknobs and bedpans. This moral Procrustean bed forces the Higher Power notion to then be either sacrilegious or personally demeaning. Another criticism of A.A. philosophy is of interest to skeptics in general. He says that the insistence on individual culpability and the total disregard of social factors alludes to New Age sophistry in that it resembles the New Age doctrine that we are all totally responsible for everything that happens to us. In summary, Bufe proclaims that the Twelve Steps are really "a combination of good, helpful principles and unhealthy, pernicious dogma. Virtually anyone with any real knowledge of alcoholism should be able to construct a sturdier set of steps to recovery." Because of its exclusiveness and rigidity, some people like to think of Twelve Step programs as cults. Bufe lists 17 characteristics of a cult, whether secular or religious. By comparing these with the attributes of A.A., he finds that A.A. only fits 6 of these and that they tend to be the more benign features. Thus, his conclusion is that A.A. does not fit the profile of a cult. What about the effectiveness of A.A. as a treatment modality for alcohol abuse? This is always a difficult question because few people can agree on what constitutes an alcoholic and consequently on how many there are. Based on a 1989 survey of its members, A.A. has determined that only 29 percent of its members have been able to achieve at least five years of sobriety. Comparing this total with the U.S. population of alcoholics, he shows that A.A. is only succeeding with around two percent of the nation's alcoholics. If it seems unfair to include all alcoholics, he reminds us that at least half (conservatively) of all alcoholics attempt A.A. at some point in their lives. Using this figure only raises the success rate to 4 percent. As low as this number is, it is even more disheartening when compared with the numbers for spontaneous remission. Studies suggest that spontaneous remission in alcoholics is around 3.7 to 7.4 percent per year. In other words, A.A.'s program doesn't do any better for the general population than does spontaneous remission. No physician or psychologist would consider supporting a therapeutic regimen that did this poorly for any other type of problem. He then warms the hearts of skeptics by turning to the scientific method and warns us that there have been, unbelievably, only two well designed studies to test the efficacy of A.A. The first one is a San Diego study done in the mid-1960s. It was composed of three treatment groups: an A.A. group, a clinical treatment group, and a control group. Much to everybody's surprise the control group did best and the A.A. group did the worst. A Kentucky study completed in the mid-1970s compared five groups: a control group, a professionally led insight-therapy group, a non-professionally-led Rational Behavior Therapy group, a professionally led RBT group, and an A.A. group. The results showed clearly that the groups given professional treatment did better than did any of the other three. In contrast to the San Diego study, the control group did the poorest. When the researchers compared the non-professional groups, they discovered that the RBT group was clearly superior in terms of dropout rate, decreased drinking, fewest arrests, and fewest binges. Other studies have looked at the people who have been helped by A.A. By analyzing certain personality factors, a consensus has been found that shows the type of person who does well in A.A. This person is most likely male, single, religiously oriented, middle class, socially stable, few emotional problems, guilt- prone, a tendency to be obsessive-compulsive, an authoritarian personality, inclined to use rationalization, a verbal person who can share his feelings, someone with high affiliative needs, high group dependency, and a binge/heavy drinker. Another interesting chapter is a short one that looks at the proliferation of non-A.A. 12-Step programs. At last count there were about 200 such programs in the United States: Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and even an Incest Survivors Anonymous. Bufe suggests possible reasons for this popularity of Twelve Steps. Within a "religious" nation, the religiosity of these programs feels comfortable and reassuring. He also proposed that such programs are a powerful alternative to the loneliness of our contemporary and transient society. Twelve step programs by their very nature offer easy ("only twelve steps") answers for complicated psychological issues. The inherent anti- intellectualism of the Twelve Steps means that people don't have to work too hard to be successful--just "utilize, don't analyze." Another attraction not mentioned in the book must be related to the fact that it is free, while professional therapy is expensive. Bufe's book closes with a section on secular alternatives to A.A. Mentioned are such groups as Rational Recovery (RR) whose national headquarters is in Lotus, California, Women for Sobriety (WFS), and Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS), also called Save Our Selves. Also included is a set of alternatives to the Twelve Steps by the famous psychologist, B.F. Skinner. Bufe notes that A.A.'s abiding strength is also its intrinsic weakness, namely that its individual, single-issue approach has kept it alive but has also isolated it from the larger social issues of alcoholism. This book is exceptionally well written because it is articulate, objective, concise, and complete. He gives us enough facts to stimulate us but not bore us. In the process he throws in some interesting tidbits. Skeptics will be particularly interested in the phase when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob in the 1940s became active practicing spiritualists, holding regular sessions in which they rapped out messages on an Ouija board. This book is an example of honesty and balance, in other words critical thinking. This is an important book for the general public because most people know of someone who is a problem drinker and assume that A.A. is the answer to their problems. It is an important book for skeptics who wonder if A.A. is all that it is cracked up to be. It is an important book for problem drinkers who find it difficult to accept the principles of A.A. It is especially important for A.A. members because: all organizations (including A.A.) need to change with the times and utilize new information; all organizations (including A.A.) are imperfect; and all organizations (including A.A.) need to listen to their critics in order to maintain their vitality. _Terry Sandbek, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice and Director of Psychological Services for CPC Sierra Vista Hospital. He is one of the five original founders of the Bay Area Skeptics and is founder and current president of the Sacramento Skeptics Society. He is also a member of the Society of American Magicians, the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society, and the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band._ To order the book, call 1-800-356-9315 for credit card orders or send $11.95 (includes postage and handling) to Upper Access, Inc., P.O. Box 457, Hinesburg, VT 05461. Reprinted with permission from _BASIS_, Newsletter of Bay Area Skeptics, August 1991, pp. 1-2, 6, 8. Copyright ) 1991, Bay Area Skeptics, 1742 S. Grant Street #3, San Mateo, CA 94402. Articles of Note Associated Press, "Biosphere's Holiday Meal, Gifts Come on Winter Solstice," _The Arizona Republic_, December 25, 1991, p. B4. Describes the Biospherians' holiday meal, and points out that Space Biospheres Ventures has admitted to pumping in fresh air from the outside to replace 10% of the Biosphere 2's atmosphere-- while denying that this invalidates the "experiment" or that it was done to counter rising CO2 levels. Kenneth Auchincloss with Ginny Carroll and Maggie Malone, "Twisted History," _Newsweek_ 118(December 23, 1991):46-49. Discusses historical inaccuracies in Oliver Stone's new pro-conspiracy theory film, _JFK_. David Gates with Howard Manly, Donna Foote, and Frank Washington, "Bottom Line: How Crazy Is It?", _Newsweek_ 118(December 23, 1991):52-54. Discusses the plausibility of JFK assassination conspiracy theories. Ray Girvan, "Corny Fractals" (letter), _New Scientist_ 131(14 September 1991):62. Explains how to use three people and a rope to make a Mandelbrot set "crop circle." Nicholas Lemann, "The Case Against Jim Garrison," _GQ_ 62(January 1992):68-75. How the real Jim Garrison is different from the Garrison depicted in the film _JFK_. Roger H. Ressmeyer, "Trouble in Paradise," _Air & Space_ (December 1991/January 1992):54-65. Describes some pros and cons of the Biosphere 2 project. Jeffery L. Sheler with Joannie M. Schrof, "The Creation," _U.S. News & World Report_111(December 23, 1991):56-64. Good article on the conflict between religion and science over creationism, focusing on battles within religious denominations. Duane Gish of the ICR and Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson are quoted on the creationist side; Davis Young, Howard Van Till, Langdon Gilkey, and others on the evolution side. John Maynard Smith, "Flight of the Bumblebee," _Nature_ 347(25 October 1990):719. In this article, Smith reports on research he did as an undergraduate to measure the airflow from the wings of tethered hoverflies--which was rejected by the _Journal of Experimental Biology_ around 1950. There apparently was (contrary to what was stated in the article "Frank Baranowski: Promoter of the Paranormal," _AS_, March/April 1988, pp. 1-3) some controversy at the time about how bees flew, since calculations seemed to indicate their energy efficiency would have to be near 100%. Smith's research found that the velocity of the jet of air from hoverfly wings was about 1/3 the expected value, but the area of the jet significantly greater. Air viscosity results in the insects' wings pushing "a larger volume of air than its small wing span might suggest." Lord Zuckerman, "Creations of the Dark," _New York Review of Books_ 38(9, November 21, 1991):45-49. Reviews three books on crop circles and argues that their promoters have ignored the hoax hypothesis, despite their claims to the contrary. December Meeting At the December 1991 meeting, we created all of the predictions contained in the lead story of this issue. January Meeting We were treated to part of a videotape of a 1970s show called "Beyond Belief," and it was. In the first demonstration, yogurt was shown to exhibit the emotion of hunger. There was also a short clip from TV about crop circles and the two men who claim to be responsible for many of them. Those who hung around after the meeting saw Michael Johnson's catapult lobbing ping-pong balls. Next Issue The March/April issue of _The Arizona Skeptic_ will feature reprints of Max Singer's "The Vitality of Mythical Numbers" and Julian Simon's "Truth Almost Extinct in Tales of Imperiled Species." Upcoming Meetings The Phoenix Skeptics will meet at the Jerry's Restaurant on Rural/Scottsdale Road between McKellips and the river bottom, with lunch at 12:30, on February 1. Meetings are on the first Saturday of each month except where it conflicts with a holiday. _The Arizona Skeptic_ is the official publication of the Phoenix Skeptics and the Tucson Skeptical Society (TUSKS). The Phoenix Skeptics is a non-profit scientific and educational organization with the following goals: 1. to subject claims of the paranormal, occult, and fringe sciences to the test of science, logic, and common sense; 2. to act as clearinghouse for factual and scientific information about the paranormal; and 3. to promote critical thinking and the scientific method. The contents of _The Arizona Skeptic_ are copyright (c) 1992 by the Phoenix Skeptics unless otherwise noted. Reprinting of material in this publication with Phoenix Skeptics copyright may be reprinted provided that _The Arizona Skeptic_ and the author are provided copies of the publication in which their work is reprinted. Address all correspondence to the Phoenix Skeptics, P.O. Box 62792, Phoenix, AZ 85082-2792. Submissions for publication in _The Arizona Skeptic_ may be sent to Jim Lippard, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721 or electronically to LIPPARD@RVAX.CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU. All manuscripts become the property of the Phoenix Skeptics, which retains the right to edit them. Subscription rate is $12.50 per year.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank