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SWIFT May 16, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Amateur Time, More Astrological Problems, Last Week's God-Message, More Desperate Data-Fitting, An Update, Last Week's Assignment, To Arms!, Praise Where Due, Strange Pride, A Centurt Out of Tune, More On Astro Timing, Tune In, Attention Norway, In Closing.

dr

I heard from Mr. Arash Irani, who notified me about yet another grubby who has attempted – dishonestly – to attack my integrity from his lofty position as a homeopath. Mr. Irani wrote:

Dr. Masud Naaseri, an Iranian scientist and researcher, is one of the supporters and theorists of Homeopathy and he has written a book about it in Persian... He also has written a book in English titled “Study of Relationships in the Fractal Matrix of Spacetime.”

Table of Contents
  1. Amateur Time

  2. More Astrological Problems

  3. Last Week’s God-Message

  4. More Desperate Data-Fitting

  5. An Update

  6. Last Week’s Assignment

  7. To Arms!

  8. Praise Where Due

  9. Strange Pride

  10. A Century Out of Tune

  11. More On Astro Timing

  12. Tune In

  13. Attention Norway

  14. In Closing…



ANSWERS FROM AN IVORY TOWER

dr

I heard from Mr. Arash Irani, who notified me about yet another grubby who has attempted – dishonestly – to attack my integrity from his lofty position as a homeopath. Mr. Irani wrote:

Dr. Masud Naaseri, an Iranian scientist and researcher, is one of the supporters and theorists of Homeopathy and he has written a book about it in Persian... He also has written a book in English titled “Study of Relationships in the Fractal Matrix of Spacetime.”

I asked him by e-mail whether he knows about the tests that Horizon did on Homeopathy and whether he knows that the results show that Homeopathy is not a scientific remedy and it works only because of the Placebo Effect. He replied:

It was not proper for a scientific program like Horizon to take Mr. Randi who is a magician and does not even know the basics of research in scientific projects as the investigator of a scientific claim. I have talked and corresponded with some of my friends who were present in the Horizon tests and they have said that Mr. Randi had changed and disturbed the samples by his magician tricks, and thus the results of those tests are not reliable. I am working very hard and I hope that through proving my space-time theory which I have been working on for 16 years, we can find a scientific explanation for Homeopathy.

I just wanted to know what your idea is about this.

First, to be correct and in line with recognized scientific standards, I must comment that the Horizon tests did not “show that Homeopathy is not a scientific remedy and it works only because of the Placebo Effect,” as Mr. Irani states. They only showed that on this occasion, a comprehensive set of tests conducted by responsible, knowledgeable, experts, did not support the claims of the homeopathic community. That’s the most we can claim; a repetition of these tests – if the results were the same or similarly negative – would fortify the conclusion that Mr. Irani suggests.

I immediately answered Mr. Irani:

Mr. Irani: I hasten to respond to your inquiry:

Dr. Masud Naaseri is lying. I was not in any way involved in the BBC/Royal Society/Horizon tests. In fact, I was in the USA all the time during which the tests were being done. Horizon called in leading UK homeopaths to supervise their tests, and all of those persons agreed that everything was done according to Benveniste’s standards – and theirs.

My ONLY involvement in the Horizon project was to offer my million-dollar prize if the tests were positive – NOTHING ELSE. I was confident that the BBC and the Royal Society were capable of conducting proper, double-blind, scientific tests, and I trusted them to conduct themselves as honest and responsible researchers.

I also asked to NOT be informed when or where the Horizon tests were being done, so that it could not later be claimed that I used “negative vibrations” to influence the results. I had not met any of the Horizon personnel who were involved, until I actually visited the UK to participate in the videotaping of the program – well after the tests had been completed and analyzed.

I challenge Dr. Naaseri to name those persons he refers to as “some of [his] friends” who he says “were present in the Horizon tests” – since a complete record was kept of every person who was involved in any way. His statement that I “changed and disturbed the samples by [my] magician tricks” is simply a blatant, knowing, lie, since I was 4,400 miles away at that time. Perhaps, in his position as an academic, Dr. Naaseri is accustomed to being able to lie freely without being challenged? I predict that he will not name those persons, that he will persist in this lie of his, and that he will avoid any sort of confrontation on his statement by simply ignoring this commentary.

I will publish this exchange on the next SWIFT newsletter, May 16th, 2008, so that the matter will receive appropriate attention of the public – and of Dr. Naaseri.

Please note that this learned man, Dr. Masud Naaseri, took the low road by impugning my ability to handle a rather simple and direct experimental design by saying that it was “not proper” of Horizon to have a magician do the investigating. Sir, it was the Royal Society – a body of very properly learned persons – who investigated the claim, not I. My function was only to detect and specify the faults of the original Benveniste experimental protocol – a task that I assure you was not beyond my abilities – and I was supported in that task by Walter Stewart of the US National Institutes of Health, and no less than Sir John Maddox, editor-in-chief of Nature Magazine. And I will tell you that at a meeting I attended of the Royal Society some years ago, a prominent UK scientist similarly impugned my observational skills, referring to me from the floor as, “a mere magician.” To this I responded – to the amusement of that august body – “John, I am, it’s true, a magician. But ‘mere’? Never!”

And what are Dr. Naaseri’s own qualifications, while we’re on that sensitive subject? I’ll send readers to www.naaseri.com, to read the paragraph beginning “Today’s mathematics…” That will clearly show how out of touch this man is with reality, even though he holds academic degrees in mathematics... For his information, and to spare him further embarrassment, I’ll inform him that mathematics is the most exact of all the sciences.




MORE ASTROLOGICAL PROBLEMS

Reader Francisco Garcia says, re last week’s item at tinyurl.com/4y9v9z:

In regards to the problems faced by astrology in regards to minute-by-minute clock accuracy, I think the concern is entirely misplaced. Such minor discrepancies of time would not be expected to have any significant effect compared to the huge systematic error introduced by the fact that the constellations have moved by an entire sign, as viewed from Earth, due to the very gradual change of Earth's rotational position relative to its revolutional position, over the centuries since the present astrology system was devised! Astrologers don't seem to be aware of this, however.

To complain that astrology doesn't account for the inaccuracies of a particular clock is like complaining about someone reading the level on a measuring cup from the top of the meniscus instead of the bottom, instead of the fact that they refuse to acknowledge that their cup has a hole in the bottom...

Very true, of course. The change that Mr. Garcia refers to is known as “precession of the equinoxes,” and actually, the constellations have – relatively – moved about 1.2 signs away since astrology first arrived, to add to the confusion of our species. Thus, anyone not born within the first few days of any recognized date-span of a sign, was actually born well within the next – or even the next! – astrological sign. Astrologers are very well aware of this; they just choose to ignore the ugly problem, only one of many under which their pseudoscience labors...

Then, reader Garcia adds, surprisingly:

Also, do you ever do any tricks besides bend spoons and other things that Geller does? I would assume so, since you were, allegedly, a conjurer before you started chasing woo-woo, but I'm having trouble finding evidence you've ever done anything else!

Umm, would three world tours – theaters, cabaret – several TV series and specials, 22 jail-breaks as an escape-artist, and a few world records, impress you, Mr. Garcia...? I’ll bet that a very shallow Google search could have relieved your anxiety in this regard...




LAST WEEK’S GOD-MESSAGE

Reader “Aaron” notes, re the mystical underlining that was appearing in the text typed by a puzzled reader – “click to enlarge” – as described last week at tinyurl.com/5foalt:

The Case of the Mysterious Underliner. I wonder if the cosmic underliner that underscored a bunch of words in the gibberish candidate's letter you showed was either Microsoft Word or Firefox, both of which tend to underline misspelled words if you let them.

Sounds like an excellent solution, to me, Aaron. Several other readers suggested the same idea… But count on it, the deluded man will still see divinity and his special status, in a grammar suggestion.




MORE DESPERATE DATA-FITTING

I received an interesting – and naïve – press release that asked, “Will Jesus Christ return to Earth in the year 2015?” I have no hesitation in replying, “no,” but I’m sure that the faithful out there will be – yet again – titillated by this suggestion. And, when that year comes and goes with the result I expect, they will merely sigh and look about for the next miraculous promise. The press release followed that question with another:

And can studying NASA's website provide evidence for such a scenario?

All this nonsense was brought about when Mark Biltz, the pastor of El Haddai in Bonney Lake, Washington, came up with a crackpot theory that an upcoming series of eclipses due in 2014/15 could herald the long-anticipated "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ. This was promised back in the New Testament, where in the book of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 29-30, it says:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

With his superior insight to this ancient document, pastor Biltz finds meaning and present-day significance that is obviously far beyond my comprehension. You see, he says that he’s taken advantage of modern science – astronomy – to discover via the NASA website that there will be eclipses of both the Sun and the Moon in 2014/15. Biltz chose to focus on these eclipses, sometimes called "blood moons" simply because the Moon often takes on a dark reddish color due to expected diffraction and color-scattering effects that of course have nothing to do with blood. On the NASA site he noted the astronomical phenomenon known as a “tetrad” – four consecutive total lunar eclipses – and his excitement became obviously uncontrollable, since these folks can find significance just about anywhere…

Now, tetrads occur at least six times during any century, but Biltz points out that the only upcoming string of four consecutive blood moons that will coincide with Passover – in the spring – and the feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) – in the Fall – occurs between 2014 and 2015! Wow! But he then goes on an orgy of data-searching – a popular aid to effective self-delusion with all these folks – and discovers that some other dates of significant events related to Israel – he provides the re-capture of Jerusalem, and Israel becoming a nation, as examples – also occurred during similar astronomical configurations. However, he opts not to mention that other dates of great import to Israel were not similarly indicated by astronomical phenomena. This is always the way with data-searching, folks.

During an interview, pastor Biltz was presented with Bible quotes that state that Jesus' return will be a complete surprise. Chapter 25 in Matthew features a parable where Jesus coyly likens his kingdom to ten virgins all waiting for the arrival of their bridegroom, and he is quoted as saying:

Ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

And, in Matthew 24, referring to the same event, we read:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Biltz is ready for this with his superior rationalizing skills. He says that we must examine the “virgin” quote “in its proper context”:

When [Jesus] says you don't know the day or the hour, he's speaking to the foolish virgins, not the wise virgins.

Oh. How could we have missed that subtlety? It appears that pastor Biltz knows about virgins and their varieties. However, to me, his rationalizing of the “knoweth no man” quote suggests that he has ignored a very plainly-stated quotation from Holy Writ, surely a major sin calling for the application of brimstone, and various other unpleasant penalties. I’ll quote from Isaiah, chapter 47, verse 12:

Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.

Yes, I know that has nothing to do with pastor Mark Biltz, but it’s one of the few Biblical quotes I know. I used it to close my first book, “The Truth About Uri Geller”…




AN UPDATE

baker

Last week, at randi.org/swift-may-9-2008-2.html#i5 we discussed efforts by a local “psychic” to find a missing girl. Reader Monty Musgrave, as did a few others, provided an update:

The body of Cori Baker was found by chance many miles from where the searches directed by Mr. Baker were conducted.

Yes, skeletal remains have now been found in a wooded area in Creek County, and have been identified as those of Tulsa teenager Cori Baker – no relation to the “psychic,” Jeff Baker. She’d been missing since last November. The local Medical Examiner's office confirmed that those remains were indeed those of Cori. Returning to the area with cadaver dogs, searchers found more remains, and also discovered two articles of clothing. Presently, police believe Marquis Bullock, the former boyfriend of Cori's sister, to be a prime suspect. Stains found in his vehicle and on Bullock’s shoes have tested positive for blood. Bullock is now charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder.

Tulsa police said that they have done searches in the past based on psychics, but, they also say that none of those searches have ever been successful. In this case, the “psychic” had reported speaking with the ghost of Cori, and said that she gave specific directions to the location of her body. Said Jeff Baker, “She gave us everything that we needed basically.” Well, apparently she told him she was at “Floral Haven Cemetery.” Then it was in “Broken Arrow.” Hundreds of volunteers slogged through mud, pulling back tree branches, looking for any signs of the missing girl. Some had dogs, others just carried shovels, but all were hopeful that something would turn up.

The “psychic” was simply wrong. Why are we not at all surprised…? And, as one reader commented:

As you might guess, local media, who ran stories about the Psychic's arrival, and even aired clips of his press conference, did not follow up regarding his abject failure to deliver.




LAST WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT

When I suggested that readers go to tinyurl.com/4kqcjn and consider the intricate physics of rolling metronomes, I was hardly ready for the results. I asked for it, and I got it! One source of an explanation said:

The metronomes start out of phase. When the board is placed on the cans, the board can move side-to-side – not possible on the table, given those conditions.

Each side-to-side movement of a metronome arm is affected by an opposing force when the metronome causes the board to move on the cans. Because the metronomes start oscillating out of phase, the movement of the board is not equal and opposite – all metronomes are contributing forces. Eventually, the forces acting on the metronomes equalize through conservation of momentum and the metronome arms move in phase.

If the board was made stationary again, even assuming that could happen without contributing any forces to the system, the metronomes would likely fall out of phase again due to each metronome having a different resonance. I've seen demonstrations of this where the metronomes are set to different beats per minute and they eventually equalize.

ch

I was also informed by a couple of readers that the “coupling phenomenon” has even been observed to work with pendulum clocks mounted on the same wall, a discovery which was made by Christiaan Huygens. This remarkable individual – 1629/1695 – was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He was no slouch when it came to original thinking. Among his accomplishments are these: he discovered the wave characteristic of light, worked on the development of modern calculus, discovered Titan – a moon of Saturn, formulated in quadratic form what is now known as the Second Law of Motion of Isaac Newton, wrote the very first book on probability theory, and invented the pendulum clock! While involved in the latter project, he also observed that two pendulums mounted on the same beam will eventually come to swing in opposite directions, an observation he referred to as “odd sympathy” but which is now known as, “resonance.” Way to go, Christiaan!

As I rather expected, I have become over-informed on this subject. From reader Ken Fischer comes this very comprehensive analysis:

What follows below is an explanation of the “Dancing Metronomes” per today’s SWIFT. The synchronization of the metronomes is an illustration of “Entrainment” – also called “mode-locking”– which was [probably] first called “odd sympathy” by Christiaan Huygens in 1665 when he observed essentially the same phenomena via clock pendulums swinging in harmony. If you care to do some internet searches with those terms you’ll find that this phenomenon is observed in a lot of disparate fields, biology, electronics, some social behavior, etc.

The specific effect shown by the metronomes illustrates the principles of Conservation of Momentum (mass multiplied by velocity) & Conservation of Energy (i.e. “for every action there is an equal & opposite reaction”). Here’s an explanation without the math, hopefully not too long or short:

While on the table top the metronomes are independent and will swing independently (actually not exactly, but close enough for now). Note that as one each swings it imparts a force to the tabletop, which the table top resists (action-reaction). If a single metronome were to be placed on a small well-lubricated roller bearing one would observe that each cycle of the pendulum would correspond exactly with a side-to-side rocking motion of the entire metronome (action-reaction) with the center of mass of the metronome/bearing structure appearing immobile, if one were to superimpose the center of mass point on a video of the system in action (frame by frame) one would observe that the point would not appear to move. As an analogy, the metronome on the table is like a catapult which is anchored. When it is fired, a strong force is transmitted to the ground; when placed on the roller bearing, it becomes like a trebuchet, which when fired rocks back & forth on its wheels and the counterweight, roughly the center of mass of the trebuchet system, including projectile, is observed to fall in a vertical line downward with no forward-backward motion as experienced by the overall structure.

SUMMARY: When the metronomes are moved onto the rollers (the soda cans) the metronomes, platform, and rollers become a single integral system – what is referred to as a “coupled” system. As a result, each metronome imparts a force on each of the others via the platform and each pendulum must respond to the net force it “feels,” either speeding up or slowing down accordingly. As each metronome responds to a force from the rest of the system – speeding up or slowing down, moment to moment – it must, as a result, impart a reduced force into the system. As each “action-reaction” cycle progresses, the amount of unsynchronized forces decline thru the overall system. Eventually, each metronome has responded to the forces exerted from each other and there is no longer any net force being applied on any other. At this point they are synchronized. Conceivably, it is possible for them to be swinging exactly out of phase such that the net forces cancel exactly; in some situations this is achieved, but for the metronome example it would be a practical impossibility.

LONG VERSION: This is imperfectly analogous to two kids swinging on separate swings, in which case their individual actions act independently. When they then climb onto opposite ends of a swing teeter-totter [seesaw], whatever forces one kid exerts directly affects the other kid in addition to the teeter-totter. In the metronome demonstration, placing them on rollers creates the teeter-totter situation, though its motion is effectively imperceptible, unlike with the kids-on-swing analogy.

As the metronomes swing thru each overall cycle, most will be swinging generally in the same direction. Those ahead – relative to the others – are exerting a force thru the platform which shifts on the rollers, on the others that induces those to accelerate, as measured from any arbitrary reference point. This is analogous to one kid on the swing teeter-totter swinging harder than the other, offsetting the other kid’s efforts and causing the slower kid to speed up in that direction. The faster metronomes are likewise slowed by the drag of the slower metronomes. In each cycle, each metronome imparts forces on the others and is acted on by the others. At any given moment, a given metronome will be exerting a force and will be acted on by a net force from all the others. It must respond, either accelerating from the other forces if acting in the same direction, or slowing for the same reason.

As this continues, a given metronome may “feel” competing force cycles, being accelerated and slowed as the process continues, however, the overall system – including the platform – will be transmitting decreasing net forces among the metronomes overall. This behavior is apparent when the metronomes appear to be synchronizing, then become slightly more unsynchronized, before synchronizing in near-perfect harmony. As this continues, they will naturally synchronize, at which point they no longer are applying or responding to any forces from each other. Only friction and reaction forces with the platform, rollers, and table, respond – which preserves the overall system momentum. This is analogous to the two kids on the swing teeter-totter that work out their rhythms such that as each works to keep the swing moving they no longer feel the effects of the other kid’s efforts.

OTHER: The physical transfer of energy thru the platform makes this happen quickly. However, as Huygens observed, air can impart the same effect on clocks. All the clocks in a clock shop have been observed to synchronize, for example.

Well, that was 900+ words that should satisfy the most rabid puzzle-solver, and we thank the contributor, Ken Fischer, to whom I will certainly turn if and when any other pendulum problem should present itself…




TO ARMS!

It’s about time that something was done to bring a certain individual to public attention to explain his behavior. We’re all accustomed to experiencing the disdainful isolation sometimes shown by academics when their decisions are questioned by those they chose to ignore. The “mere magician” reference I cited earlier on this SWIFT will serve as an example. In the case I’m about to discuss, however, we have the editor of a scientific journal – one that deals with a subject of vital importance to our species and to the well-being of half the world’s human population – choosing to ignore a basic duty and responsibility to right a serious error.

devoe

Readers of SWIFT will certainly be aware of the ongoing efforts of Dr. Bruce Flamm to resolve the situation described at randi.org/swift-april-25-2008-2.html#i1. He needs some assistance to remedy this flagrant disregard for the readers of this journal. Dr. Flamm writes:

As you probably know, Kwang Cha's lawsuit against me was thrown out of court on April 21, 2008. On May 9th 2008, Daniel Wirth, the man who designed and allegedly conducted Cha's "pregnancy by prayer study" was released from federal prison. Astoundingly, their absurd and physics-defying "research" has never been retracted from the peer-reviewed Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Why not? I urge you to ask Dr. Lawrence Devoe, Editor-in-chief of the JRM, at editor@reproductivemedicine.com or at 314-991-4440.

I ask readers to contact Dr. Devoe and ask him about retracting the infamous Cha/Wirth article, which has been shown to be without merit…




PRAISE WHERE DUE

smithsonian

Reader Eric Cline writes:

This email was prompted by the May 9 "From a Different Viewpoint" entry on SWIFT regarding the Denver museum.

I would like to praise the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC for its official programs which support evolution, and even make it exciting (which of course, it is). I don't know if "unofficial" creationist groups go there and have their own "tours. I would assume so, and it would be interesting to know if other readers have heard of that happening. But the main point is that the museum's directors have made what I can only call a courageous stand, given the current political climate, of promoting well-established scientific fact. I speak, in particular, about its Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals. See this site: www.mnh.si.edu/mammals/

The very fact that they can put up pictures of elephants and dolphins alongside such text as "Meet Your Relatives" is a wonderful refutation of non-scientific nonsense. Two years ago, I sat in the Evolution Theater described on the site and watched an excellent, high production quality (computer-generated) film showing the evolution of our mammalian ancestors. I would recommend the exhibit to anyone.




STRANGE PRIDE

From reader Dr. Steven Rigatti:

In last week's SWIFT you posted a piece on a famous New Age "Healer" who claimed to have cured herself of cervical cancer.

As a doctor, I have run into similar claims from time to time. One memorable woman claimed to have cured herself of colon cancer with a Rife device, for which she had paid $1,200. When I asked her how she knew she had colon cancer, she said "I had all the symptoms." Pressing further, she had only one symptom, "bleeding" – which I took to mean anorectal bleeding. She most likely had a mild case of hemorrhoids and they stopped bleeding on their own as they are wont to do.

Of course, she was not willing to accept that explanation. That would mean her $1,200 was wasted.

Dr. Rigatti reminds me of the major reason that victims of various scams resist admitting that they’ve been deceived: they just can’t admit that they’re vulnerable. Or wrong…




A CENTURY OUT OF TUNE

Israeli reader Lior Dagan tells us:

Last week a new commercial advertisement was aired in Israel.

In Israel, there are semi-corporations – organizations – which deal with public health. They are funded by the Israeli health tax, based on the number of clients that they have, and also from fees which they are allowed to collect from their clients. They must offer a basic set of services, and may offer a larger set of services, at their own accord. Again, they should be – and usually are – well regulated. There is competition, of course, on the number of clients that each one of these health service organization has.

The commercial advertisement of one these organizations – which is being endorsed and funded by Israeli taxes – spoke of "third generation medicine." What makes it “third generation”? Well, among other things they specify: "You don't only get medicine, you also get homeopathic medicine…" Homeopathy isn't covered by state funds. And this is the same organization that people go to when they have cancer...

The commercial also speaks about exercise, which is a good thing, but it's not 3rd generation medicine, whatever that is, and was known well over 30 years ago. It's not cutting edge science. The thing which really upsets me is that they are taking 19th century quackery and representing it as an advancement in medical science!

As of this date, the other Israeli organization, known as kuput cholim, offers similar services – acupuncture, chiropractors, Bach remedies, etc., but they do not call it "3rd generation" and other nonsense...

Sigh...




MORE ON ASTRO TIMING

From reader Matthew Wright comes this comment on last week’s item at randi.org/swift-may-9-2008-2.html#i8:

In the last two SWIFTs you mentioned the problem of assigning an accurate birth time to an astrological reading. One astrologer, Wendy Stacey, has apparently thought of a way around that: assume the time of birth is inaccurate and correct it until the chart matches known events in the subject's life! As she puts it in a recent article in the Astrological Journal, which can be read on her website at www.wendystacey.com/birth_time.html:

Frequently, when exploring someone's past experiences and events whilst using directions, you get answers which could indicate the angle degrees to be a year or two out from the chart you have calculated. It is not uncommon to hear a client say that nothing happened at age of 10, but they moved house at age eight because their father got a promotion, or that nothing happened at age 27, but they got married at age 25. These types of responses may lead you to re-adjust the birth time by eight minutes or at least use a little caution when working with the angles.

Folks, this is exactly the same as firing an arrow at the side of a barn, then painting a bulls-eye around the arrow where it hit the barn... But such thinking is not at all foreign to woo-woo artists. To them, such a procedure is quite legitimate, and they’re puzzled why anyone with any common sense can question it! Matthew continues:

Ms Stacey is also concerned about the effect of interventions at birth such as Caesarean sections on birth time http://www.wendystacey.com/caesarean.html. She writes:

If we consider the notion that children are born at a time that the “soul” chooses, we would have to accept that these children are born before the time they would arrive naturally, which was their own choice, and they have allowed the consultants diaries to advocate for them. Caesarean sections are scheduled to ensure this, and where mothers or physicians elect a Caesarean, the procedure is conducted between the hours of 9am – 5pm. The Astrological correlations for these babies would be to have their natal Sun, almost always Mercury and (frequently Venus) positions presented only in the houses between the 8th and the 12th. Which means of course that as an example, it will be the exception to be a Capricorn with a Virgo Ascendant or a Libran with a Taurus Ascendant.

Randi comments: If this makes sense to any of my readers, I suggest a cold shower, a few laps around the block, another cold shower, and then reading excerpts from Bertrand Russel or Richard Dawkins to clear the brain. Matthew:

Sad to say she stops short of offering a testable prediction of what observable effects will be increased as a result of the increase in Caesareans.

Sad, yes…




TUNE IN

baird

Our good friend Bill Baird alerts us that he will be on VH1, May 12th at 10pm in "Sex: The Revolution." It will also air at some point on the Sundance Channel. Bill deserves kudos for his valiant battle against the woo-woos who inveigh against women’s right to decide. He’s the founder of the Pro Choice League, and he established the nation’s first abortion referral center and the first birth control and abortion center on a college campus. Bill was sent to jail for teaching birth control and distributing abortion literature in New York and New Jersey, and was once sentenced to six months for his pro-choice activities




ATTENTION NORWAY

Reader Are Thunes Samsonsen, in Norway, alerts us:

I have just set up a Norwegian-language skeptic forum (general flim-flam as well as reliogion and superstition) and would be very grateful if you could help me point interested parties in its direction. If you have any Scandinavnian or other Norwegian-speaking members, I would appreciate it if you would let them know that www.faenskap.no is now up and running.

The design is kind of dull, and as the forum has been up for all of a week, the level of activity is still low, but I have hopes of this becoming a hotbed of skeptical thought and a library of links to all things skeptical for Norway and the nordic/scandinavian region.




IN CLOSING...

A matter of interest: the current balance of the James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account held by Goldman Sachs is: US$1,106,144.62.

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