The Arizona Skeptic A Journal Promoting Critical Thinking Volume 5, Issue 4 January/Februa
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
2) The Doomsday Clock will be moved back closer to midnight.
3) There will be a surprise Democrat candidate for President in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
Baker, Robert A. (1990) _They Call It Hypnosis_. Buffalo, N.Y.:
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
Coons, Philip, Milstein, Victor, and Marley, Carma (1982) "EEG
Studies of Two Multiple Personalities and a Control," _Arch. Gen.
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._
_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
[** 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
At the December 1991 meeting, we created all of the predictions
contained in the lead story of this issue.
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.
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
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