January, 1996

History is flawed: Exhumations Prove It

James Stars, George Washington University

He has dug up the famous and the infamous, including outlaw Jesse James, attempting to set history straight. This talk will discuss how forensic examinations of exhumed bodies of famous people have changed our understanding of history.

Saturday, January 27, 2pm
Bethesda Library
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, Maryland

Free admission -- Everyone Welcome

Call the NCAS Skeptic Line at 301-587-3827 for further info.

How good is your memory?

Is your NCAS renewal overdue? Check the mailing label on this issue of the "Shadow." If you cannot remember what you did on the last day of the month listed, you are seriously late and will be dropped as a member. Send $20 for one or $30 for two to the NCAS address on the newsletter. (Even if you remember what you did on that date, you will be dropped if it is long ago.) (If you are reading this via the WWW and are not an NCAS member, why not join us? Annual membership is $20 for 1, $30 for 2 at same address. Send money to NCAS, 8006 Valley Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or send email to ncas@cs.umd.edu for information.)

A&E Cable Fluff

Comments by NCAS friend, Magician James Randi: "Nostradamus: Prophet of Doom." I'd not seen it [on the A&E cable network] in its initial showing, being out of the country at that time. I was interviewed in connection with the preparation of that show, and I'd naively hoped that my input might be fairly and correctly presented. Of course, I expressed my doubts about the powers of the French seer, and quoted from my book, "The Mask of Nostradamus." And, in spite of everything I told the interviewer, NOT ONE WORD OF CRITICISM OR OF SKEPTICISM WAS USED, by myself or by anyone else, though I could not have expected any of the others to express anything but gushing acceptance of the wonders suggested, since they were all authors and ``experts'' on the subject who lied, invented and hyperbolized wildly to create the impression that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet.

Letting A&E and your local cable operator know your feelings about such programming might be a good idea.

Dowsing changes with the times

The Quadro Corporation, which markets the QRS 250G Detector, a dowsing rod with an antenna that outperforms old fashioned willow branches, says the device can locate anything from weapons to buried treasure--well worth the price of $995 each. But a Sandia National Labs scientist thought it might be a good idea to test one. It failed to locate anything; dissection found just plastic! Sandia sources tell that management directed scientists to remain silent in the face of a threat of legal action by Quadro.

CSICOP 20th Anniversary Meeting

Are you free the weekend of June 20? Try the following: "Science in The Age of (Mis)Information;" June 20-23, 1996--State University of New York at Buffalo--Buffalo, NY; World Skeptics Congress--20th Anniversary of CSICOP Sponsored by The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Registration details to follow in a few months.

Project Volunteers Wanted

INVITATION: You are invited to join a project team putting together and participating in presentations, debates, and audience participation programs on the scientific evidence for and against the biological determination of sexual orientation. The project needs generalists, specialists in neurophsiology, philosophers, folks who like to dig into scientfic literature, and folks who like civilized debate. Goals include challenging superstition-based intolerance and public education in evaluating claims about human nature by a scientific standard. Please contact Bing Garthright, 19437 Battleridge Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20879, 301 330-1225 evenings and weekends. (This project welcomes NCAS members and other, but is not formally affiliated with NCAS.)

Last Change: January 15, 1996