Rational Inquiry -Volume 7 Number 4
Across the Nation
Hooray! MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) has experienced a decline in membership from 5,000 a decade ago to a mere 3,000 today, reports the Skeptics UFO Newsletter from Washington, D.C. The Tampa Bay Skeptics (members.aol.com/tbskep) in Tampa, Florida offers the "$1,000 Challenge" to anyone claiming "veritable scientific proof of the reality of ESP, UFOs, dowsing, astrology, or any paranormal phenomenon." The Cincinnati Skeptic, newsletter of the Association for Rational Thought (www.cincinnatiskeptics.org) in Ohio, enjoyed a lecture on "The Nature, Spread, and Purpose of Urban Legends." Speaker Justin Masterson, a senior at Miami University, explained urban legends as modern-day fairy tales that transmit cultural lore and hidden messages and warnings of social significance. In May, members of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (www.phact.org) heard a presentation by Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science. He is also the author of the "wickedly wry weekly Whatís New" at www.aps.org. Phactum was just one of many skeptical newsletters nationwide to favorably review the book Bad Astronomy (Wiley, 2002) by Philip Plait. Dr. Plait also runs the web site www.badastronomy.com. Like SDARIís Keith Taylor, John Blanton from the North Texas Skeptics (www.ntskeptics.org) in Carrollton, Texas found much to say about the dubiously talented Prudence Calabrese. The National Capital Area Skeptical Eye (www.ncas.org) of Silver Spring, Maryland tackled the tricky issue of how doctors should advise patients interested in home remedies and alternate medicine. The Newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason in Peralta, New Mexico reports that the science departments of high schools and universities statewide have received propaganda disguised as science, the book Darwinís Black Box (Touchstone, 1998) by Michael Behe, from the New Mexico Family Council (www.nmfamilycouncil.org), an organization with a decidedly creationist viewpoint!
The article, "A Critique of Thought Field Theory" by Don Eisner, which ran on page 4 in the Summer issue of Rational Inquiry (Volume 7, Issue 3) was missing the word "not" from the sentence "The self boasting of Callahan and his colleagues does [not] constitute proof of the success of TFT." SDARI regrets the error. (Note: The on-line version of the article has been updated with this correction.)
The article by Edvard Hemmingsen which first appeared in the 1999 Summer issue of Rational Inquiry, "The Placebo Effect--Is It of Medical Value?" appeared in the July 2002 Gateway Skeptics Newsletter. The Gateway Skeptics are based in St. Louis, Missouri.
From the Editor
This issue ends my tenure as the newsletter editor for SDARI. It has been a publication I had a lot of fun with for a year, but itís time for me to pass the torch to another member. I would like to thank again all the SDARI members and guests whose contributions, suggestions, and emails have helped me fill it with informative and (hopefully) entertaining conflict.
Mostly I would like to point out how much I am looking forward to Thanksgiving--and not just for the food. Although the first colonist celebrants believed the hand of God brought them through the hardships of winter, the theme of the holiday (regardless of its political and religious history) commemorates the triumph of hard work, human perseverance, and community. Itís the one American holiday that isnít permeated with Christian symbols or sentiments. To me, Thanksgiving is the only holiday we really celebrate as a nation--and I am thankful for that!