October 1990 +quot;BASIS+quot;, newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics Bay Area Skeptics Info

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--------------------------------------------------------- October 1990 "BASIS", newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics --------------------------------------------------------- Bay Area Skeptics Information Sheet Vol. 9, No. 10 Editor: Yves Barbero HAPPIE HALLOWE'EN by Shillaber Montabue [Editor's Note: This piece was picked up from a chronicle published in Oxfordshire, England, on October 23, 1594. You will see a review on page 7 of "Beyond Beyond Beyond", written by Dr. Shillaber Montabue. If the grown-up skeptics can't figure it out, have the kids give it a try.] 'Tis Octobre, the moneth of Hallowe'en. The holidaie name 'tis short for All Hallow E'en. There is naught HOLLOW about this wondrous holidaie. Prithee saie not "Hollowe'en". 'Twill be a greate time for magic, witches, puzzles, parties, and all sorts of mysterious delights. Venture foorth with us in to the land of puzzles. Imagine that thou hast dressed thy selfe in to the clothes of royaltie. An thou art a woman, thou shall be Queene Elizabeth. As Queen Bess, thou shalt be in thy glorie at the partie. An thou art a man, thou art King Henry VIII. Nay, nay, thou art not allowed to chop off anie heades during the partie. 'Tis plaie time onelie. PUZZLE NUMBRE ONE Thou art at a Hallowe'en Partie. A man saieth, "I have two children, at leaste one of whome is a girl. What is the probabilitie that bothe are girls?" PUZZLE NUMBRE TWO Againe, thou art at the Hallowe'en Partie. All have dressed them selves up in to glorious clothes. As thou enterest, all muste take a test. There are two doores at the front. An thou goest in to one, a pie 'twill be pushed in to thy face. An thou enterest the other doore, thou shalt enter the partie. Thou dost most hartily wish to enter the partie, and dost not want a pie in thy face. As part of the game, out of the doores are two witches. One doth all waie tell the truth. The other will all waies lie. Each of the witches knoweth which doore is which. Thou knowest not which witch is which. Thou mayest ask juste one question of just one of the witches. Upon hearing the answer, thou must ope one of the doores. What is the one question thou wouldst ask in order to save thy face and to enter the partie? Enjoie thy Hallowe'en Partie. The answers to these puzzles will be published in verie next issue of this chronicle. News from Argentina CAIRP FORMED We are proud to inform you that a new organization has been set up in Argentina to investigate and debunk claims on pseudoscience. [CAIRP means Centro Argentino Para la Investigacion y Refutacion de la Pseudociencia -Ed.] Our aims are similar to those of CSICOP. This is the first attempt to generate such an organization in this country, with a broad field of work, ranging from Astrology, Parapsychology, UFOlogy, Paranormal Health Claims, Sects and so on, although smaller groups and individuals are already working on specific subjects. We hope to be able to centralize and coordinate all work done here to debunk fringe science. We felt the necessity of such an organization due to the lack of alternative explanations offered by mass media on such subjects. We are well aware of fraud used systematically in these areas. For this reason we have a strong group of professional magicians working with us. We would like to be in contact with other similar groups around the world, and we will be pleased if you could send us newsletters or any kind of publications you are editing. /s/ Ladislao Enrique Marquez Director [CAIRP has just been added to our complimentary media list. Those interested in communicating directly, write: CAIRP Jose Marti 35 dto. C 1406 Buenos Aires Rep. Argentina] Letter to the Editor COSMIC CONNECTION DEPT. Dear Sir or Madam: In regard to Astrology, would it be of any interest to the skeptics to know that the zodiac forms the basic structure of the Bible? It takes some reading skill to see it, but for example the twelve sons of Jacob in Genesis 49 correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac, as do the twelve Judges and the twelve minor prophets. The zodiac structure persists in various ways from Genesis through Revelation. I don't know what is the significance of it. But at the very least it is remarkable for having remained so unknown for so long. /s/ Paul Albertsen May 10, 1990 FRAKNOI ON BLACK HOLES Astronomer and BAY AREA SKEPTICS advisor, Andrew Fraknoi will offer a NON-TECHNICAL introduction to "Black Holes: Spacewarps, Time Machines, and the death of stars" at U.C. Berkeley on Saturday, November 3rd. Sponsored by U.C. Extension and the ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC, the program will be offered in the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall from 9 am to 5 pm and will be illustrated with slides from the largest telescopes on Earth and in space. For more information about the program, call 415-643-6903. FEYNMAN ON ESP by Lawrence S. Lerner The literature of Richard Feynman anecdotes began to accumulate during his lifetime, and has continued to grow since his death. However, the oral tradition is far more extensive, and the historical gleaners have not come close to exhausting it. This note gleans a brief but deeply insightful discourse by Feynman, which I was privileged to hear. In late 1964 or early 1965, during a lull in one of the long series of more or less weekly late-afternoon lectures that Feynman gave at Hughes Research Laboratories, someone asked him, "What do you think of ESP?" The following is a close paraphrase of Feynman's reply. I don't know anything about ESP, so I'm going to answer a different question. Suppose I do an experiment, and the output is in the form of an x-y recording something like this. [Here Feynman drew a rough sketch on the blackboard, something like figure 1.] Now there's a lot of noise, but I look at that little bump in the middle and say, "Gee, that's interesting: I wonder if it's significant or if it's just noise." Well, I can't tell. So I go back to the drawing board, and redesign the apparatus so that the signal to noise ratio is improved by a factor of 10. Then I repeat the experiment. [Here, Feynman drew a sketch like Fig. 2] I look at the little bump in the middle and say, "Gee, that's interesting; I wonder if it's significant or if it's just noise." Well, I can't tell. But one thing I know for sure: It isn't the same thing I thought I saw the first time! [Note for the electronic version of "BASIS": Fig. 1 had a small rise in the middle of an otherwise greatly fluctuating line. Fig. 2 shows a rise of roughly the _same_ magnitude relative to the noise background, even though there had been a 10-to-1 improvement in noise discrimination.] Feynman's genius for looking at a familiar question from a novel, generalized point of view is evident here. Of course, his remarks summarize the experience of two generations of ESP researchers, and render unnecessary any detailed study of the results. I have often quoted Feynman's remark to my students over the past two decades. Nearly all the freshmen and sophomores fail to get the point (sometimes even after explanation); nearly all junior, senior, and graduate physics students get it immediately. I take this as evidence that physics majors actually learn something about the methods of science. [Lawrence S. Lerner teaches at California State University in Long Beach. Richard Feynman's best known books are "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What Do You Care What Other People think". You don't need any math or physics to enjoy them but an open mind helps.] [Reprinted with permission from "Am. J. Phys., Vol. 58, May 1990".] BERKELEY SKEPTIC NAMED TO STEERING COMMITTEE Joe Anuff, a member of the BERKELEY SKEPTICS and undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, has been named to the "Steering Committee" to facilitate the upcoming 1991 CSICOP conference in Berkeley. OOPS! Robert Sheaffer was incorrectly left off our list of members of the 1991 CSICOP Steering Committee last month. He deserves better treatment from us. --------------------------------------------- | Psychics, call the number below (written | | in special psychic fonts) in this box for | | the answer to your dreams! | | | | | | | | | --------------------------------------------- ...OPINION CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson I am alarmed at the cries of "false accusations" of childhood sexual abuse and dismayed by the readiness of people who have not looked at the scientific literature (I would especially recommend Diana Russell, "The Secret Trauma" and David Finkelhor, "Child Sexual Abuse") to credit these cries. For hundreds of years child sexual abuse has been common, prevalent, and totally denied, throughout the world. Psychiatrists have been in the forefront of the refusal to acknowledge a painful and somewhat mysterious (what sexual attraction can there be to a 3 year old child?) reality. Permit me to be skeptical of their newly discovered activism in a field whose reality they so persistently denied from the beginnings of their "science". Could it be that they found religion when they discovered there was money to be made in calling themselves experts in the very realm whose existence a few years earlier was dismissed with contempt? At last, thanks to the persistent voice of feminists, the reality of child sexual abuse is being recognized. But the historical record teaches us that we should be very wary of people who want to stuff it back into the closet, especially when they have any financial, legal, or forensic interest in so doing. Because the majority of psychiatrists have always been reluctant to recognize their own dismal record with respect to the sexual abuse of children, we should examine their claims of widespread "false accusations" with a healthy dose of skepticism. [The author is widely known for his book, "The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory". His latest effort, "Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst" will appear in October.] ...SECOND OPINION CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE by Yves Barbero As Jeff Masson points out (article on previous page), there is child abuse and has been for hundreds of years; there are those who'd like to put it back into the closet for whatever purpose and many psychiatrists see the public perception of the "crises" as a quick way to make a buck despite their dismal historical record on the "problem." I agree with everything he said. Still, there are plenty of "false accusations" (and I'm not suggesting Masson doesn't realize this) and we should be wary. Any time there is a public focus on an issue fueled by forces that see a profit or a way to control people or manipulate a political situation, there will be innocents bundled off to jail. Horror stories illustrate this. In one case, a significant portion of a town had their children removed by the efforts of an over-zealous prosecutor. Witch hunting did not end in 17th century Salem or with Joe McCarthy. The capacity of Americans to vote to jail people who do not see eye to eye with a stereotypical majority cannot be underestimated. Public policy is just as often a function of hysteria as of intelligent public debate. And when an opportunity to control people's sexual behavior comes along, few Americans can resist the temptation. There's plenty of room to recognize the fact of child abuse and still be suspicious of measures rushed through legislative bodies or pushed by politically motivated prosecutors. Measures offered by under-employed professionals seeking a cause with which to offer their "expertise" should be viewed with exceptional suspicion. If the term "emotional" is offered, it may be okay on the couch or in a social worker's office, but keep it out of the law! Child abuse should be clearly defined in law. Perhaps some cases will slip through the cracks, but generally speaking, bruises can be counted and sexual assaults can usually be detected by competent medical professionals. "Emotion" is invisible. Besides, in a pluralistic society, people can universally be against abusing children but, beyond the obvious, few will share a clear definition of what that means. To have a division of government solely dedicated to child abuse will insure that the case load will always reflect the number of people hired. Better to have a department of child welfare that handles all problems related to children so personnel can move about as needed and fewer will be tempted to "discover" a problem that may not be there. In this under-budgeted era, there's plenty for the understaffed child welfare agencies to do. It may not be popular to suggest a balance between digging out child abusers and protecting individuals from a passing public hysteria but it must be done. Plenty of divorces, for instance, suddenly come up with accusations of child abuse. Especially when one spouse wants to prevent the visitation of children by another. As a practical matter, however, tight definitions in law will not only protect the innocent but are unlikely to offer much comfort to real abusers since, as Masson points out, the crime is no longer closeted. Child abusers are repeaters. They do it over and over. It is a condition of their sexual preference and habit. Even with a minimum of vigilance, law enforcement is bound to trip over them. The only real danger would be if law enforcement, as in the past, ignored it. Our legal system is mostly oriented around punishment and the redistribution of property (civil law). Even family courts handle guardianship as a "possession." The welfare of children is mostly mandated by popular morality which is, at best, a hodge-podge of notions, good and bad. A lot of good people work for child welfare agencies and, except for a few politically motivated individuals, they say very little in public about child abuse. Laws to handle it are well established. When refinements are needed, these individuals approach the legislature through normal governmental routes and get it done efficiently. We've come a long way from the day when a patriarch could mandate the life or death of a child (or a wife for that matter) and children are no longer "economic" units in our enlightened society but are offered a chance to develop and become educated. Best of all, modern society has designed the concept of sheltering them from harsh adult realities for a time so they can also develop personalities through play and other childhood activities. This is all to the good. But it shouldn't impose an atmosphere on adults of avoiding contact with children for fear that some "expert" will deem it outside of the "normal" and condemn a person to jail on some abstract concept of sexuality. To paraphrase a popular local columnist, "Remember the good old days when you could pat someone's little girl on the head and they didn't think you were a child molester." Whether child abuse, sexual or physical, should be handled by treatment of the offenders and/or punishment (and I certainly see a case for a mix of these methods), the law should be clear. From the Creation Front ICR AMENDS LAWSUIT AGAINST HONIG The State of California has moved to withdraw approval for the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS) to grant masters degrees in science. As a result, ICRGS filed suit against the California Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to block disapproval. On May 15th, the ICRGS amended it's filing. In the original suit, the Institute was the only plaintiff. Three more were added: => Kenneth B. Cumming, dean of ICRGS, who might lose his job. => S. Harris Rugg, a student at ICRGS, who will be unable to find another school like ICRGS. => Woodside Christian Elementary School, Inc., which will be unable to hire teachers graduating from ICRGS. Though the amended complaint still denies it, the scientific validity of creationism is a central question in the suit. For example, wording added under the heading "Abridgement of the Free Exercise of Religion" argues that denying ICRGS approval to grant science degrees for creationism amounts to "overt discrimination against the plaintiffs, seriously penalizing their beliefs through state hostility..." Implicit in this argument is the claim that the state is obliged to recognize as science whatever religious believers declare to be science. Since filing the amended complaint, ICR attorney Wendell Bird has been busy distributing subpoenas for depositions. Among those reportedly served so far are National Center for Science Education board member Kevin Padian, Committee of Correspondence members Lawrence S. Lerner and William J. Bennetta (also a BAS advisor) and Richard E. Dickerson, a NCSE supporter. Padian served on the Science Framework Committee, which ICR views as part of the "conspiracy". Lerner and Dickerson were on the 1989 site visit committee. Bennetta, as regular readers of "BASIS" know, wrote a series of hard-hitting articles in these pages on the case. He was ordered to bring copies with him. [Liberally paraphrased and digested from a longer piece in "NCSE Reports"] MINI BOOK REVIEW "The Rise of Life", by John Reader and illustrated by John Gurche. (Knoff 1986), 192 pages. $15.95. At the suggestion of Eugenie C. Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, I took a look at this oversized paperback and instantly liked it. The illustrations alone make this book worthwhile. They are oversized and, for the most part, in color and add greatly to what is already a well-written generalized account. The book is ideal for teenagers and, I must admit, it filled in a few holes in my own education. I gave it to an adult friend of mine who casually follows the creation/evolution debate and has an expert eye for graphics. He said it looked great and, in reading some sections of it, he determined the work "propaganda" for evolution. He is a Christian. With such a glowing endorsement, I recommend the book. -- Y.B. SUDANESE BIOLOGIST JAILED FOR TEACHING EVOLUTION FAROUK MOHAMMED IBRAHIM, professor of biology at the University of Khartoum, has been jailed and tortured for teaching students about evolution. According to Andy Coghlan ("Sudan Jails Biologist for Teaching Darwinism,", in "New Scientist", 17 March 1990, p. 21) "the fundamentalist Muslim government of Lieutenant-General Omar Hassan has jailed hundreds of political opponents without trial" since seizing power in June 1989. Among those arrested are numerous academics detained for political activity, but Professor Ibrahim is apparently the first to be jailed for his scientific views. A letter from Ibrahim, smuggled out of prison, describes how he endured days and nights of torture -- including whipping, kicking and beating -- accompanied by death threats and verbal abuse. He was also prevented from washing and praying. One interrogator, a member of the ruling council, made it clear that Ibrahim's crime was teaching evolution. The Muslim community in Britain was shocked and outraged by Ibrahim's treatment. Goghlan reported that international efforts were under way to secure his release. Most Islamic scholars find no contradiction between evolution and the Koran, although the latter's story of creation closely parallels Genesis. The growth of fundamentalism among Muslims could change that. National Center for Science Education's President John R. Cole made several futile calls to the Sudanese Embassy but learned nothing of Ibrahim's situation. Cole wants to be contacted by anyone who can shed light on the scholar's fate. Call 415-843-3393 in Berkeley. [Courtesy NRC Reports] Letter from the Northern Wilderness GREETINGS FROM THE SISKIYOU HUMANISTS The SISKIYOU HUMANISTS, California's northernmost skeptic/humanist group, became active a couple of years ago in response to local New Age quackery and a concerted fundamentalist intrusion in the area schools. Started by Siskiyou County residents Michael Roesch and Ken Goehring, the group has produced a videotape of Harmonic Convergence activity on Mt. Shasta, debated creationists on the radio, and presently edits a newsletter that is mailed out to 150 subscribers. The quarterly newsletter, began in November 1988, offers both a humanist philosophical perspective and a skeptical examination of claims made by Siskiyou area charlatans and religious dogmatists. As a regional voice of reason the editors have critiqued dental faith healers, crystal stores, reports of Satanic sacrifice, Bigfoot sightings, graduation invocations, and pro-life propaganda. Currently, the group is embroiled in a controversy that may well have statewide significance. For the last fifteen or so years Weed Elementary School has invited a member of the Weed Ministerial Alliance into the science classroom to provide equal time for creation "science." Challenging this practice, Siskiyou Humanists have asked the WES Board to stop this religious activity and adhere to the California State Board of Education Science Framework. On the other hand, vocal fundamentalists are pressuring the Board to maintain the practice. As of the end of August, the WES Board has not made a policy decision on this portentous issue. [Last month, we sent a complimentary copy of BASIS to each of our Siskiyou brethren to keep them warm during those cold Northern nights. Information on the SISKIYOU HUMANISTS and their monthly newsletter can be obtained by writing to P.O. Box 223; Weed, CA 96094. If you would like to have a free copy of "BASIS" sent to your group and have a statement like the one above printed unedited, please contact the editor at 415-285-4358. Since additional printing is required and other arrangements have to be made, some planning is necessary. BAY AREA SKEPTICS would enjoy helping and being helped by like-minded groups (and we don't expect strictly parallel policies) but such arrangements must be mutually satisfactory and either organization may turn down an arrangement for strictly arbitrary reasons. -- Ed.] Letter to the Editor INESCAPABLE RELIGIOSITY from Thomas H. Jukes, Ph.D. "BASIS" (July 1990) has published a long, rambling criticism by Walter Hearn, "Bennetta vs. ASA: Misguided Zeal?" Hearn's extensive personal attack on Bennetta is filled with trivialities and ad hominem remarks, and not worth comment. Hearn gives pertinent information on his American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). ASA members must sign ASA's Statement of Faith. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has a similar requirement. Despite Hearn's assertion to the contrary, I do not agree that real scientists will sign such statements. There is a hymn about Thomas who doubted the word of the other apostles. He lacked faith. The final verse is: How blest are they who have not seen But yet whose faith hath constant been For they eternal life shall win. Alleluia! Science does not thrive on a belief in the unseen, or on reward systems for constant faith in the unseen. Hearn emphasizes that there is a difference "between taking the Bible SERIOUSLY in matters of faith (ASA's position) and taking it LITERALLY in scientific matters" (ICR's position), but he does not reveal this difference. What is it? On page six, Hearn quotes Robert Root-Bernstein with strong approval, which I do not share. Root-Bernstein says that "evolutionists clearly have as much to learn as do creationists." Root-Bernstein is an advocate of what may be termed, "equal time for nonsense," a favorite creationist position. Hearn shows glimmerings of comprehension: he says that he has "learned enough about biological evolution to take it seriously." Darwin would have been grateful for this ringing endorsement. But then Hearn says (page six) that "ASA takes pains to support evolutionary science while opposing evolutionism (evolutionary naturalism)." This is double-talk. He launches an unprovoked and irrelevant attack on William Provine, whom he calls a "scientific ideologue." Hearn counters a quotation from Provine by saying that he, Hearn, worships God "on whose purposeful activities we consider the world to be always contingent." Provine, unsurprisingly does not go along with this frankly religious construct, and therefore incurs Hearn's disapproval, but why Hearn brought Provine into his treatise is not clear. Hearn recites (page seven) four major conclusions listed in the ASA booklet "Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy". This booklet has been mailed by ASA to forty thousand high school biology teachers. ASA's fourth major conclusion in the booklet was that it is too soon "to say with certainty that we share a common ancestry with apes." Too soon? This common ancestry question was settled in the days of Darwin, T.H. Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce. The ancestral relationship of humans and apes is overwhelmingly supported by studies in molecular evolution as well as by all other scientific criteria. Yet Hearn sees "no reason (for ASA) to change our major conclusion." This is why we see no reason to change OUR major conclusion that ASA is a creationist organization. One of the main creationist hang-ups is the human-ape ancestry -- "if you teach children they are related to monkeys, they will act like monkeys." And how can we forget Seagraves's 1981 denunciation of the San Diego school teacher who made his kid dress up in a monkey suit? (Subsequent information revealed that the child asked to be a monkey in the skit). To summarize: Hearn's views show, in the words of Judge Overton, "inescapable religiosity" to the extent that they are incompatible with science. [THOMAS H. JUKES is professor of Biophysics at UC Berkeley and has done extensive research in molecular evolution. He is a long time advisor to BAY AREA SKEPTICS] BOOK REVIEW AND SHAMELESS PLUG by Indigo Blinkin' "BEYOND BEYOND BEYOND" by Shillaber Montabue, Wide-Awake Books, Box 659, El Cerrito, CA 94530. $9.95 (add $2 P&H and, if unfortunate enough to be a resident of California, tax). Edited with explanatory notes on Renaissance English by Robert A. Steiner. [Steiner's at it again. This time he's unearthed a Sixteenth Century masterpiece of Foresight. Forget Nostradamus. Montabue had all the answers. I contacted Professor Jo-Anne Boche of the Department of Sort-of-Renaissance Philosophy, University of the Very Low Countries in Europe, to verify the authenticity of the manuscript. The good doctor supplied me with a translation from the Dutch of the time of a contemporary book review (c. 1603) by an English scholar, who being out of favor at home for over-bleeding a rich client, was lying low in the Low Countries. -- Ed.] Bah! Another philosopher abandons the traditional ways and the wisdom of the Ancients to look at the rational world and pretend the spiritual world is unconcerned with mankind. It's a mark of sloth to oversimplify the cosmos by ignoring the rich world of evil and helpful spirits as explanations for the illnesses and desperations of mankind. To give honor to a woman [Montabue's mentor was the first woman philosopher at Oxford -- Editor] as teacher is to deny her as the mother of evil. The intellect belongs to man alone. For a woman to behave as philosopher is to honour Satan. For Oxford to deny me in her favor is to honour Satan and all his hordes. For anyone to read this modern horror is to waste his penny and threaten his physique with plagues and witchery, for the advice is not sound. Denying meat for vegetables is to weaken the man. Exercising will open the humours to invasion by the spirits of fatigue and pain. Ignoring the invisible world of magicks will certainly put the soul in jeopardy. Worst of all, this shameless Shillaber Montabue suggests an equality exists in the intercourse of the sexes. Surely he will be burned for this alone. Better to read my book, "A Thousand Ways to Make Friends and Influence Spirits". [A copy of Indigo's 1601 manuscript was forwarded to Bob Steiner. He has not yet indicated if and when he'll publish it. First he has to learn Renaissance Dutch. -- Ed.] SKEPTICS SAFE The "S.F. Chronicle" (9-1-90) reported that Texas evangelist Larry Lea, "God's Green Beret," is due in the Bay Area on Halloween to do battle with Satanic forces. According to one of Lea's local warriors, San Jose pastor Dick Bernel, San Francisco is ruled by the "Spirit of Perversion," Oakland, by the "Spirit of Murder," San Jose by the "Spirit of Greed," Watsonville by the "Spirit of Poverty" and Marin by the "Spirit of the New Age" (This powerful spirit apparently rules over one of the richest counties in the world rather than a mere city). The article quotes C. Peter Fuller, a professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, as saying that the idea of "territorial spirits" ruling over specific cities is being taken seriously by many Pentacostals and other conservative evangelicals. Bernel added, "This area has been a launching pad for a lot of things we consider unbiblical -- free sex, the homosexual movement, acid rock." According to religion reporter Don Lattin, who wrote the piece, "During the next two months, Lea will be promoting his San Francisco prayer blitz on his daily `Change Your Life' television show, which is aired on 40 independent stations across the country." Lea is reported to have signed 280,000 prayer warriors through this T.V. ministry. He promises a goal of 300,000 "intercessors" by the opening of the three-day Halloween crusade. Lea, who distributes "prayer army dog tags," has apparently limited the campaign to fighting the spirits of witchcraft, drugs and sexual perversion and said nothing about going after the "Spirit of Skepticism" so we're probably safe for another year. THE SKEPTIC'S ELECTRONIC BULLETIN BOARD => 2400 Baud, 415-648-8944 => 24 hours, 7 days a week => Rick Moen, Sysop BAUMGARTNERS COME THROUGH AGAIN Carol and Ben Baumgartner, pictured here with founder, Bob Steiner (right), hosted the annual Bay Area Skeptics picnic August 18th. Without question, the company was excellent and the features, including a demonstration of psychic surgery by founder/magician Bob Steiner, were superb. But the food was the real attraction, and the quality was to be savored. The quantity was more than a skeptic could ever imagine. For those of us who gave in to the temptation of overeating, we can justly blame the Baumgartners, who made the best-disciplined among us fall from grace. [Prentiss Willson contributed to this report.] WELCOME TO SWINDLEVILLE! (October meeting) by Robert A. Steiner All of you who think no con-artist can swindle you in one of his confidence games, raise your hand! Good! Those who raised your hands are the ones that the con-artists are primarily looking for. Those confidence game practitioners are knowledgeable on psychology, and use it in their operations. Those who think they cannot be "taken" are easy prey. Confidence game practitioners' expertise is preying on your morals, civic duty, and your desire to make a little extra money. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how the unscrupulous, fast-talking con-artists work. They not only work on the self- confident, but also on the poor and elderly. Steiner's skill as a magician is such that as you learn, you will be entertained at the same time. CALENDAR October meeting... Welcome to Swindleville by Robert A. Steiner Tuesday, October 23, 1990 7:30 pm El Cerrito Public Library 6510 Stockton Avenue El Cerrito Watch for coming events in the BAS CALENDAR, or call 415-LA-TRUTH for up to the minute details on events. If you have ideas about topics or speakers, leave a message on the hotline. WARNING: We STRONGLY URGE that you call the hotline shortly before attending any Calendar activity to see if there have been any changes. -------------------------------------------- | WANTED | | | | => Original and appropriate graphics. | | => Someone who can accurately transcribe | | interviews from cassette tapes. | | => A good photographer. | | | | THE HOURS are lousy, there is no pay | | (except that we quickly if grudgingly | | pay expenses) and you have to put up | | with our company. | | | | A sense of humor is helpful but not | | required. | -------------------------------------------- BAS BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair: Larry Loebig Vice Chair: Yves Barbero Secretary: Rick Moen Treasurer: Kent Harker Shawn Carlson Andrew Fraknoi Mark Hodes Lawrence Jerome John Lattanzio Eugenie Scott Norman Sperling "BASIS" STAFF: Yves Barbero, editor; Sharon Crawford, assoc. editor; Wilma Russell, distribution; Rick Moen, circulation; Kate Talbot, meeting coordinator; John Taube, media watch. BAS ADVISORS William J. Bennetta, Scientific Consultant Dean Edell, M.D., ABC Medical Reporter Donald Goldsmith, Ph.D., Astronomer and Attorney Earl Hautala, Research Chemist Alexander Jason, Investigative Consultant Thomas H. Jukes, Ph.D., U. C. Berkeley John E. McCosker, Ph.D., Director, Steinhart Aquarium Diane Moser, Science writer Richard J. Ofshe, Ph.D.,U. C. Berkeley Bernard Oliver, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center Kevin Padian, Ph.D., U. C. Berkeley James Randi, Magician, Author, Lecturer Francis Rigney, M.D., Pacific Presbyterian Med. Center Wallace I. Sampson, M.D., Stanford University Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D., Anthropologist Robert Sheaffer, Technical Writer, UFO expert Robert A. Steiner, CPA, Magician, Lecturer, Writer Ray Spangenburg, Science writer Jill C. Tarter, Ph.D., U. C. Berkeley ----- Opinions expressed in "BASIS" are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of BAS, its board or its advisors. The above are selected articles from the October 1990 issue of "BASIS", the monthly publication of Bay Area Skeptics. You can obtain a free sample copy by sending your name and address to BAY AREA SKEPTICS, 4030 Moraga, San Francisco, CA 94122-3928 or by leaving a message on "The Skeptic's Board" BBS (415-648-8944) or on the 415-LA-TRUTH (voice) hotline. Copyright (C) 1990 BAY AREA SKEPTICS. Reprints must credit "BASIS, newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics, 4030 Moraga, San Francisco, CA 94122-3928." -END-

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