The REALL News


The official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association
		      of Lincoln Land

Volume 1, Number 1                                 February 1993
Electronic Version

If you like what you see, please help us continue by sending
in a subscription.  See the end of newsletter for details.

In This Issue:

From the Chairman: Local Skeptics Group Forming -- David Bloomberg
From the Editorial Board -- Editorial Board
Pencil-Neck Aliens -- Martin S. Kottmeyer
But the Bad News Is... -- Dr. Eugenie C. Scott
Paranormal Fraud Exposed -- Detective Bruce Walstad
Myths & Reality: The Science Gap -- reviewed by David Bloomberg
REALLity Check -- David Bloomberg
So Now You're a Skeptic -- Wally Hartshorn
Origins of REALL -- David Bloomberg


The Rational Examination Association of Lincoln Land (REALL)
is a non-profit educational and scientific organization.  It is
dedicated to the development of rational thinking and the application
of the scientific method toward claims of the paranormal and fringe-
science phenomena.

REALL shall conduct research, convene meetings, publish a newsletter,
and disseminate information to its members and the general public.
Its primary geographic region of coverage is central Illinois.

REALL subscribes to the premise that the scientific method is the
most reliable and self-correcting system for obtaining knowledge
about the world and universe.  REALL not not reject paranormal claims
on a priori grounds, but rather is committed to objective, though
critical, inquiry.

_The REALL News_ is its official newsletter.

Membership information is provided elsewhere in this newsletter.

Editor:  Wally Hartshorn
Editorial Board and Organizing Committee:  David Bloomberg (Chairman,
electronic version editor), Wally Hartshorn, Bob Ladendorf.

P.O. Box 20302
Springfield, IL 62708

Unless stated otherwise, permission is granted to other skeptic
organizations to reprint articles from _The REALL News_ as long
as proper credit is given.

The views expressed in these articles are the views of the individual
authors and do not necessarily represent the views of REALL.



			 From the Chairman:
		    Local Skeptics Group Forming
			-- David Bloomberg

     Welcome to the first issue of _The REALL News_, the
official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association
of Lincoln Land.
     Most of you have received this newsletter because you
are on the mailing list of the Committee for the Scientific
Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), and thus
probably share the goals of REALL.  Others of you may have
been on other mailing lists that also indicated possible
interest.  While REALL is based in Springfield, we mailed
this introductory issue to a wide area to try to reach as
many people as could feasibly attend a meeting.
     Currently, REALL is made up of an organizing committee
and several other interested people.  We will be having an
official organizational meeting at Sangamon State University
in 232 Brookens on February 22 (see elsewhere in this issue
for the full information), and I would like to encourage
anybody who is interested to attend.  Whether you want to be
an officer or just attend meetings, we want to hear from
     We have founded REALL for several reasons.  Although we
have no official connection with CSICOP, we share their
goals.  We also want to act at a local level to help educate
the public and the media about science, pseudoscience, and
the paranormal.  (It seems that many people currently look
to _Unsolved Mysteries_ and _Sightings_ as their source for
this information.)  We want to help people avoid being
misled by some of the strange things they may see and hear
in the mass media.  And, of course, we want to promote the
rational examination of all phenomena that fall into, or
outside of, the fringes of science.
     We intend to accomplish these goals through regular
meetings, informative lectures, this newsletter, and contact
with the "mainstream" media.  If you share our interests,
we'd like to meet you.  To become a member, fill out the
form in this newsletter and send it in (along with your
dues, of course) or bring it to a meeting.  Membership
benefits include access to the REALL news files and library
(including a large number of files dealing with skepticism
from several computer bulletin board systems (BBSes)),
stimulating conversation with other REALL members,
informative lectures from experts, a one-year subscription
to this newsletter, and the satisfaction of knowing that you
are helping to educate the public about the difference
between science and pseudoscience.  If you feel you are too
far away to regularly attend meetings, but are still
interested in _The REALL News_, there is also a subscription-
only rate.  And if you'd like to come meet us before
deciding, please attend the organizational meeting.    I'd
like to take the rest of my space here to introduce myself
and allow the other organizing committee members to do the

David Bloomberg:
     I am an environmental engineer, though I trained as a
materials science engineer, working for the State of
Illinois.  Like many of us, when I was younger, I was
extremely interested in (and believed in) UFOs, Von D„niken,
and various paranormal subjects.  As I grew up and learned
the scientific method, I realized that at least 99% of what
I had see was bunk.  In college, I became more active as a
skeptic, through reading various books written by James
("The Amazing") Randi and other skeptics, and having
various, sometimes heated, discussions on local and national
BBSes.  My interests in specific paranormal subjects are
varied, ranging from astrology to "psychic detectives" to
"faith healers" and other practitioners of pseudoscience,
with many others included.  My main goal could probably be
stated as trying to teach the general public more about
science and the scientific method, and how to apply it.

Bob Ladendorf:
     A skeptic in mind and a logical pantheist in spirit, I
pursue that corny end called "truth."  Always more
interested in discovering the way things really work rather
than revering myth, whether in politics, society, or
religion, I have spent much of my 43 years of life in
reading, writing, and editing.
     Having been a newspaper and magazine intern in Peoria,
Illinois, and a free-lance writer for On Location, a
Hollywood film production magazine, and other publications,
I have worked for the past decade for the Illinois Secretary
of State's Communications Department and am its current
deputy director.  Educated first at the University of
Missouri-Columbia, I then received my bachelor's and
master's degrees respectively at Sangamon State University
and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  My wife, Jean, a
Lincoln Land Community College teacher, and our two sons,
Brett, 16, and Scott, 11, have lived in Springfield since
     With an aversion to scams, flim-flams, and deceptions
of any kind, I have sent clippings of interest to the
_Skeptical Inquirer_ magazine, of which I've been an avid
reader since the mid-'80s.

Wally Hartshorn:
     (By the way, that's pronounced like "hart's horn".)  I
am a Systems Analyst for the Illinois EPA.  I initially
became interested in the skeptical view of the paranormal in
the late '70s, when I came across a few issues of the
_Skeptical Inquirer_ in the library at the community college
where my father was a math instructor.  Reading the real
story behind the well-publicized underwater photograph of a
flipper of the Loch Ness monster was a real eye-opener for
me.  After that, I was far more skeptical of such reports,
and although I always planned on subscribing to the
_Skeptical Inquirer_ "one of these days," it was not until a
few years ago that I became more actively concerned about
the pro-paranormal movement.
     A friend of mine was interested in modern witchcraft,
Wicca, "real" magic, goddess worship, and similar beliefs.
Although I was disturbed by her interest in these subjects,
I began carrying some computer bulletin board message areas
for their discussion.  Much to my amazement, Wiccans and
pagans flocked to the areas and they quickly became the most
popular of the discussion areas.  It was then that I
realized how widespread such beliefs were, and the thought
was depressing.  I then finally subscribed to the _Skeptical
Inquirer_ and began seeking out books which expressed the
skeptical viewpoint, relieved to have an outlet for my


		      From the Editorial Board

     This issue of The REALL News is meant to be
representative of what we would like to publish in future
issues.  From astrology to UFOs, we intend to cover the wide
range of the paranormal to the best of our abilities.
     Our feature article, "Pencil-Neck Aliens," was written
by Martin Kottmeyer, a Carlyle, Illinois author and UFO
expert who has had articles published by several British
magazines.  We would like to thank Martin, and we hope to
see more interesting and humorous articles coming out of his
typewriter in the future.
     The article "But the Bad News Is..." was written by Dr.
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for
Science Education (NCSE).  The national office of NCSE is
very concerned about Illinois, where there appears to be a
great deal of acceptance of Creationism.  The Creationism
issue is most predominant in small towns and suburbs across
the country.  Many small towns in Illinois and Ohio make
this part of the country fertile ground for Creationists.
We would like to thank Dr. Scott for giving us permission to
reprint her article for you here, where it can reach a wide
central Illinois audience.  We would like to point out that
REALL is not an anti-religious group, but Creationism being
taught as if it were science is, in our collective opinion,
no better than the teaching of astrology as if it were
     "Paranormal Fraud Exposed" was written by Detective
Bruce Walstad.  In addition to being a police officer in
Franklin Park, IL for the last 18 years,  he is also a
magician and president of Professionals Against Confidence
Crime.  He recently appeared on television's 48 Hours in a
program about con artists and fraud.
     Other articles were written by members of the Editorial
Board, who are also members of the organizing committee (see
"Fron the Chairman").
     In order to provide you with the greatest range of
interesting subjects, we are looking for authors.  If you
have written, or wish to write, something that you think may
be of interest to readers of The REALL News, please feel
free to send it to us.  We would appreciate it if you would
also enclose a letter giving us permission to print the
article, and letting us know if you give permission to other
skeptics groups to reprint your article if they choose, with
the proper credit given to you, of course.  Also, we are
looking of applicable artwork or cartoons.  If you are a
writer or artist and don't have a specific topic in mind,
just send us a letter and we'll get in touch with you.
     Of course, we will also be printing letters from the
readers in future issues.  Whether you agree or disagree
with what you read, drop us a line; we'd like to hear from


		         Pencil-Neck Aliens
                       by Martin S. Kottmeyer

     Aliens with long, thin necks are currently "in."
Reports and drawings of these pencil-neck Greys seem to be
everywhere.  They've turned up on T-shirts, made for TV
films -- _Intruders_ (1992) -- and in dozens of magazines
and books.  The proliferation of this trait among
contemporary aliens may be a telling indication that our
taste in aliens is as subject to fadism as our taste in
clothing styles.
     One has to grant that pencil necks have more aesthetic
logic than biologic sense.  The slenderness of these necks
undeniably lend elegance to present-day aliens and enhance
their overall anorexic appearance.  Propping oversized
craniums on top of such skinny supports however raises
concerns this species is whiplash bait.  What business have
such aliens in vehicles which legend has it have a benchant
for bone-bending right angle turns and ultra-air-brake
     The pencil-neck is a strikingly recent innovation.
Early studies of ufonauts -- Coral and Jim Lorenzens's
_Flying Saucer Occupants_ (1967), Charles Bowen's _The
Humanoids_ (1969), and James McCampbell's _Ufology_ (1973)
-- say nothing about aliens with long thin necks.  They
certainly weren't common.  I'm doubtful there was a single
unambiguous instance of a pencil-neck alien prior to the
Eighties.  I've rummaged through the drawings of all the
major cases -- the Flatwoods monster, Kelly-Hopkinsville,
Barny and Betty Hill, Herb Schirmer, Pascagoula, Charles
Moody, Travis Walton -- and they are nowhere to be seen.
They aren't visible in the first two books of the Betty
Andreasson series either, but they do put in a cameo
appearance in _The Watchers_ (1990).  They seem to arrive en
masse in 1987 with no less than five drawings of pencil-
necks in Budd Hopkins' _Intruders_ and the very prominent
example staring out from the cover the Whitley Strieber's
_Communion_.  These works were popular and influential to
the degree that it is now part of the stereotype of the Grey
as noted by David Jacobs in his abductee study, _Secret
     The source of these pencil-necks is not hard to guess
at.  The alien which communicates by hand gestures at the
climax of _Close Encounters of the Third Kind_ (1977)
possesses a long, slender neck.  Like Hopkins' drawings,
there is also a notable lack of sense organs, hair, and no
white to the eyes.  The similarities are too obvious to
dismiss as coincidence.  _CE3K's_ aliens were the first in
the long history of film aliens to possess long, thin necks.
A few readers at this point will object.  It is widely known
that J. Allen Hynek was a consultant on the film.  Hynek was
one of the most knowledgeable students of the UFO phenomenon
in this country.  He may have avoided the popular cases
mentioned earlier because of their controversial status and
gave Spielberg some little known, but high-quality cases
from his investigation files.  Surely Hynek's presence means
the aliens were based on "real" cases.  Hopkins' drawings
merely corroborate the existence of those little-known
     While this scenario sounds highly plausible, it happens
to be wrong.  Interviews with Spielberg and the designers of
the film's aliens in various forums document the creative
process behind the construction of the Mothership aliens.
No "real" UFO reports or alien drawings were used.  The Fall
1978 issue of _Cinefantastique_ provided a fully detailed
history of how the aliens that appeared in the film evolved
from initial desires to the final product.  It's as amusing
as it is eye-opening.
     Frank Griffin, a make-up artist on _Westworld_, _Star
Trek_, and _Time Tunnel_, was involved in the earliest
stages of the project.  He states that Spielberg, from the
beginning, wanted aliens with large heads and long limbs,
but beyond that everything was very abstract.  There were at
least eight sketches from which Spielberg selected bits and
pieces.  From an alien with an ant-like or cricket-like head
it gradually got transformed into something resembling
Casper the Friendly Ghost.
     Tom Burman got the job of building the masks and molds
which took about three months.  Spielberg balked when he saw
the actual product in three dimensions.  Julia Philips, his
assistant, freaked and threatened Burman with a twenty
million dollar lawsuit.  Three new designs were quickly
sculpted and sent to Spielberg for approval.  In ten days
the new selection was fashioned over the original framework.
Spielberg, on seeing them, just sighed and headed for the
film site in Mobile, Alabama, hopeful he could re-think
things.  Spielberg ended up using Burman's masks, but he
carefully avoided any close-ups and tended to keep them
backlit so they wouldn't be easily scrutinized.  Burman
didn't get screen credit because of Spielberg's
     While in Mobile, Spielberg got the idea of an alien
with a long neck and lithe arms which could wrap around a
person three or four  times.  Bob Baker, a puppet maker, was
called in to develop the concept.  Initial drawings had a
neck which came forward making it a lazy "S."  The eyes had
light beams coming out of it.  The brain could be seen
moving in it.  Skin trailed off of it.  It wa a bit too
     Carlo Rimbaldi, who had just done some technical work
for the disastrous King Kong remake by Dino De Laurentiis,
next got the assignment.  Spielberg gave him no designs, but
gave various suggestions about what he wanted such as a
smile which would look like the ancient lama from _Lost
Horizon_ and a general faint resemblance to the child that
played Barry.  Rimbaldi incorporated his own notions of what
a being might look like that was ten or twenty thousand
years more advanced than us.  With increased reliance on
pure intellect, the head would be larger, but the sense
organs of the nose and ear would atrophy.  Increased
reliance on technology would reduce the amount of
musculature.  All this is basically a variant of an argument
once common in science fiction that H.G. Wells first put
forward in his 1893 essay "The Man of the Year Million"
(reprinted in Peter Baining's _H.G. Wells Scrapbook_).
Wells' argument tends to be viewed as flawed nowadays
because it ignores processes like sexual selection,
brainpower being shunted into computers, and genetic
manipulation of the human form for aesthetic purposes.  No
matter though.  Spielberg loved it.
     It should be incontestable from these facts that _Close
Encounters'_ aliens were shaped by creative imagination and
not prior UFO reports.  But for the happenstance that
Rimbaldi was available when Spielberg called, we might today
be confronted with a fad for snake-necked, laser-eyed aliens
rather than the Wellsian pencil-neckers currently
     This history also presents clear problems for those who
plan to entertain the notion that Spielberg was an
unconscious abductee.  Some abductees draw aliens more
reminiscent of Burman's aliens than Rimbaldi's, but
Spielberg clearly felt the final form was wrong.
Spielberg's unconscious apparently wanted wildly-long
wraparound arms, but that notion got down-sized in the final
product.  Where are the abductee accounts that match
Spielberg's initial impression?  It is also puzzling that
Rimbaldi's designs should have been closer to the mark than
Baker when you consider that Europeans (which Rimbaldi is)
don't seem to have abduction experiences involving pencil-
neck Greys.
     A final question:  Why didn't ufologists throw away the
reports of pencil-neck aliens?  People abducted by Spock,
E.T., or Alien would certainly never be written up in the
UFO literature assuming they didn't themselves recognize the
cultural influence.  The answer of course is that Hynek's
association with the film misled ufologists into thinking
there was a valid basis to the film's creation in the "real"
UFO phenomenon.  Only people who subscribe to magazines on
science fiction film would know the whole story.
Ufologists, Hopkins most especially, care little about
science fiction.  (See my article "Entirely Unpredisposed"
in _Magonia_, January 1990, which is also available on
Usenet and Bitnet "Skeptic".)  [This is also available
locally on David Bloomberg's BBS, The Temples of Syrinx. -
Ed.] The pencil-neck fad must ultimately be regarded as a
cultural phenomenon since it was, in orgin, a human
creation.  Knowing the full story makes acceptance of them
as a real extraterrestrial presence, you should pardon the
expression, hard to swallow.

[Martin Kottmeyer lives in Carlyle, IL.  He has written
articles for several British publications, including
_Magonia_, _UFO Brigantia_, and _The Wild Places_.]


Creationists No Longer Invited to Speak at Peoria Public Schools:

		         But the Bad News Is...
		        by Dr. Eugenie C. Scott

     From mid-1989 through 1991, NCSE [National Center for
Science Education] reported on extensive creationist
activity in central Illinois [Reports 9(3):p.21; 10(3):p.1;
10(4):p. 6;10(6):p. 1; 11(1):p. 1; 11(2):p. 4].  The
Institute for Creation Research had been invited to speak in
Peoria, Morton and other Illinois public school science
classes for up to twelve years, with little dissent.  NCSE
southern Illinois and Missouri Liaison Ranse Traxler and
other NCSE members brought considerable publicity to this
practice, resulting in widespread condemnation from both the
press and members of the state education hierarchy. The
question is, what is going on now in central Illinois?
According to a recent series of articles by _Peoria Journal
Star_ reporter Elaine Hopkins (4/12/92, p. A12), "Speakers
on creation science have addressed science classes in the
past.  But teachers are not encouraged to invite them now,
Associate Superintendent Melvin Hines wrote in a letter,
after a 1990 inquiry from the National Center for Science
Education.  A book, _Scientific Creationism_, once listed
for teacher reference on the approved list of high school
science textbooks, no longer appears on the current list."
     That ICR faculty members are no longer lecturing to
students in science classes is the good news.
Unfortunately, the four articles by Hopkins go on to discuss
how students in several districts in central Illinois are
systematically being denied the opportunity to learn
evolution.  Officials at several districts, including
Metamora, East Peoria, and Germantown Hills, claimed
students have "enough to learn" without having to learn
evolution.  In Germantown Hills, Doug Leman, Vice President
of the school board, wrote a heavily-referenced, 38 page
document on creationism "for the enlightenment of the
     Leman wrote that neither evolution nor creationism was
scientific, and both were belief systems.  "Implications of
the theory of evolution trouble Leman.  The world cannot
have developed by chance, he said.  'There has to be a
master designer.  Without that designer, there's no absolute
moral code, only situation ethics.'" Children can be taught
both models when they are old enough to understand them, but
not at the elementary level.  "Meanwhile, the children
should not be taught 'as fact' that 'dinosaurs were here
millions of years ago,' Leman said."
     As Hopkins reported, "Teachers at Germantown Hills got
the message."  Although the textbook used in the district
discusses evolution, the chapters are skipped, according to
an unidentified teacher.  "As a result, some children say
the world is only 6,000 years old, and that the dinosaurs
lived with Adam and Eve, the teacher said.  Instead of
supplying accurate dates, teachers tell the children
dinosaurs lived 'a long time ago,' the teacher said."
Teachers who do bother to teach evolution apparently
"believe they need to 'balance' the scientific concepts of
evolution with other 'theories,' namely the Bible's story of
seven days of creation." An example is the Morton district.
During the spring of 1991, Morton was the center of
controversy when the school district, dismayed over "too
much evolution" in the textbooks, directed the staff to
develop a curriculum in creationism to be taught alongside
evolution (see Reports 11(1):p. 1.)  NCSE and others
publicized this dictum, which directly defied the 1987
Supreme Court decision, Edwards v Aguillard.  National
newspapers such as _Education Week_ carried the story.
     What was taught in the fall?  According to the _Journal
Star_ reporter, "Biology teachers spend one class period
discussing all the theories.  They include life sent to
earth from outer space and religious stories, including the
account in Genesis."  It appears as if the "creationism
curriculum" was reduced from earlier promises.  Morton,
apparently, does not like being the center of controversy.
There are some bright spots, however.  Pekin High School
science department head (and NCSE member) Jill
Schimmelpfennig told the reporter that evolution and only
evolution is taught in the high school biology classes.
Similarly, teachers at Sterling Middle school teach
evolution "because it's part of a chapter in the science

(This article originally appeared in Volume 12, Number 1 of
_NCSE Reports_, the NCSE newsletter.  It is reprinted with
the author's permission.  Dr. Eugenie Scott is executive
Director of  the National Center for Science Education and
holds a PhD in Biological Anthropology.)


		      Paranormal Fraud Exposed
		     by Detective Bruce Walstad

     In March of this year, I received a phone call from
fellow PACC [Professionals Against Confidence Crime] member,
Bob Steiner.  Bob explained that he had received a request
to investigate some alleged paranormal activity at a Chicago
bar and restaurant, The Red Lion Inn.  Bob put me in touch
with a Ron Pine from the Chicago area, who related to me
what had been going on at the inn.  Pine's friend, Dr. James
Iaccino, a college professor, had been told by a former
student, James Horan, that The Red Lion Inn was haunted by
three female ghosts.  He convinced Iaccino to go to the inn
with him to see first hand the ghostly occurrences.  During
their eight hour ordeal at the inn, Iaccino witnessed 30
paranormal effects.  Bottles moved from table to table,
coins flew about the room, a tape recorder kept coming
unplugged from the wall and all sorts of other "scary" stuff
occurred.  Iaccino came away from the evening quite rattled
and duped, according to Pine.
     Over the next several weeks, Pine questioned Iaccino on
numerous occasions about Horan, and the ghostly things he
had observed.  Pine and myself had many phone conversations
during this period and the following was discovered.  Horan
was in the process of writing a paper of some sort on ghost
haunting.  This paper was to be later converted into a book.
Horan was seeking to have Iaccino and the college back his
discoveries and theories.  It also turns out that Horan is
an amateur magician.
     Pine learned that Iaccino and Horan were again planning
to meet at the inn for another evening of haunting and Pine
managed to get me invited.
     The event took place on Easter evening at the inn.  I
arrived at 9:00 p.m., a few hours after the others had met.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a true "cast of
characters" in a large candle lit room (ghosts like
candlelight I found out).  In attendance was Dr. Iaccino,
James Horan, Horan's girlfriend, Justin (a friend of
Horin's), Justin (owner of the inn) and two members of the
local skeptics group (Al and Danielle).
     Looking around the room I noted VCR's, tape recorders,
toilet paper hanging from the ceiling (to detect the ghost's
movements), bells on thread around all the doors, baskets of
pennies on the floor, bottles covered with baby powder on
all the tables and other assorted nonsense.  It was
explained to me that I had already missed two ghostly
occurrences.  A block of wood had fallen off the top of a
bottle it had been placed on, and later, the same blocked
jumped off the side of the bottle it had been laid against.
Within minutes of my arrival, the ghost had struck again.
One of them moved a large roll of toilet paper across the
women's room floor.
     As the evening progressed there were no further events
of paranormal activity.  I did witness though, some rather
odd people doing strange things.  I observed Ouija board
messages being written by the ghosts, I saw a demonstration
of "Automatic Writing" (this is where a spirit possesses
you, and causes you to write messages to the living).  I
heard first hand accounts of exorcisms and saw Justine go
into trances and talk to the ghosts.  I did my best to watch
Horan throughout the evening and on one occasion I saw him
move a bottle, but one of the skeptics caught him too, and
at once called him on it.
     At one point in the evening I was able to speak
privately with Iaccino.  I had him explain to me, and show
me what had occurred the last time he was there with Horan.
According to Iaccino, whenever things flew about the rom, he
had his back t Horan.  Iaccino also made mention that when
things were found moved it was after the room had been in
total darkness.
     At about 1:00 a.m., I stood up and explained who I
really was, and why I was really there.  I addressed the
group with my opinions about what had been occurring.  I
called attention to the fact that Horan had been caught
moving a bottle earlier.  I explained what Iaccino had told
me about his observations from the last meeting, as to his
back being to Horan as the items were thrown around the
room.  I watched Horan during my exposure of him.  He only
slumped into his chair, and turned a "ghostly" pale.  He did
not respond to me in any way, nor did he defend himself.  I
then confronted Horan with the block of wood trick.  This
particular items is known among magicians as "The
Telekinetic Timber", a stock magic effect.  Horan at once
denied that's what it was.  I had the chance earlier to
examine it, and it was just like the one I own.  Horan
finally admitted it was a trick (after a brief and most
interesting conversation).  Horan then sat quietly and I
pushed him to the limit to see what would happen.  I called
him a fraud and a magician.  He gave no response.
     The evening ended with Iaccino telling Horan just what
he thought of him and his magic show.  He also made mention
of what Horan's future will be regarding Iaccino's and the
college's backing of Horan's discoveries and theories.

[This article originally appeared in the July 1992 issue of
PACC Bulletin.  It is reprinted with the author's
permission.  Detective Bruce Walstad is a police officer, a
magician, and the president of Professionals Against
Confidence Crime.]


                  Myths & Reality:  The Science Gap 
                     Reviewed by David Bloomberg

[_The Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths and Understanding
the Reality of Science_, Milton A. Rothman, Prometheus
Books, New York, 1992, 254 pages, hardcover, $24.95.]

     The Science Gap is a book that should probably be
required reading for ALL college students, whether in the
sciences or not.  In particular, it is my opinion that it
should especially be studied by those who intend to go on to
     The reasons for these opinions stem from what I see as
a basic lack of scientific and/or logical thinking among
many in the general population, and a tendency for this to
be reinforced when teachers emphasize rote memorization of
facts and formulae rather than the scientific PROCESS.
     With that said up front, I think that Milton Rothman, a
former physics professor and research physicist, has done an
excellent job of doing exactly what the subtitle describes,
especially dispelling myths.  I'm afraid that some small
portions of the book may be a little too technical for those
without any science background at all, and there may be
better books for teaching a basic understanding of science.
However, for anybody with even a smattering of knowledge
about science, which I would hope includes teachers, the
vast majority of the book is easy to understand and follow.
_The Science Gap_ is broken into 16 chapters, each taking on
a different "myth", such as "Nothing is known for sure,"
"Nothing is impossible," "All theories are equal," and, of
course, "Myths are just harmless fun and good for the soul."
In his introduction, Rothman explains his reasons for
debunking these and other myths:  "We seldom change the
minds of the believers, but we hope to educate those who are
not quite convinced -- especially students."  I find myself
agreeing completely.
     Throughout the book, Rothman makes many good points,
both about science in general, and specific physical
theories and laws.  Out of the necessity of keeping this
article shorter than the book, I can only touch on a few of
these here.
     He emphasizes that a valid scientific theory must work,
pass experimental tests, and be falsifiable.  Many
paranormal "theories" fail to meet some or all of these
necessities.  Indeed, in many cases he notes that "the
person with the fewest facts usually is the one most certain
of the truth."  He points out that good scientists are
generally concerned with the how's and why's -- a theory
should make specific predictions.  Many "parapsychology
enthusiasts," however, may try to demonstrate ESP, but have
no way to explain how it may occur -- how information
travels from one mind to another or from the future to the
present.  If information truly is traveling, what form of
energy does it take?  How does the brain convert a "thought"
to this energy and hurl it through space so that it may be
converted back by a receiving brain?  Where does "future"
information come from?  What happened to the law of
conservation of energy? Without some theory to explain this,
there are no falsifiable predictions, and no science.
Rothman also discusses other physical impossibilities, such
as massive UFOs reported to hang motionless in the air with
no means of support.  The law of gravity says that this
simply can't happen, and UFO reports seldom, if ever,
mention huge helicopter rotors or massive rockets, so how do
"they" do it?  Rothman gives a detailed explanation about
why "anti-gravity" is simply not a viable answer.
     Of course, there are those who would respond with one
of the following:  "Whatever we think we know now is likely
to be overturned in the future" or "Advanced civilizations
of the future will have the use of forces unknown to us at
present" or "Advanced civilizations on other planets possess
great forces unavailable to us on earth."  These are three
more of the myths that Rothman covers in detail.
     In particular, he answers the questions:  "What is the
probability that new forces exist which we have not yet
discovered?" and "What is the probability that advanced
civilizations in the future will find useful forces that we
do not already have?"  These answers are somewhat detailed,
though understandable, and the final answer boils down to
"we must make do with the forces that exist."
     Besides these examinations of the paranormal, Rothman
examines a matter of importance to all people -- that of
population growth and the strain it places on resources.  He
analyzes the effects of current rates of population growth
on future resources (renewable and non-renewable) and
concludes that population growth must level off to zero if
the human race is to survive on Earth for more than a few
thousand more years, and we should not leave this up to
future generations, or else there may not be any.  Is
Rothman trying to scare us into action?  Probably.  But
maybe we need a good scare; I won't make that judgment.
We do get a glimpse of Rothman's political leanings here and
elsewhere, particularly in the last chapter, which seem to
be somewhat against a certain U.S. party.  It did disappoint
me a bit to see these in an otherwise scientific, non-
political text, but I feel that the limited nature of his
political comments make it a minor negative in an otherwise
extremely positive book.
     The final chapter, "Myths are just harmless fun and
good for the soul," is one that many of us have probably
heard often.  Usually it is stated along the lines of, "It
can't hurt to let [insert your favorite pseudoscience
practitioner here, such as:  psychic detectives, faith
healers, astrologers] try with their powers."  It is left to
the horrible evil skeptics to show that it CAN hurt.
Rothman does just that.  He begins by pointing out that,
yes, there are some myths, fantasies, and fairy tales, such
as heroic myths about knights slaying dragons, cautionary
myths about living a good life, or mystery myths which teach
observation, deduction, and logic, which have a function
when learned by developing children.  However, bad myths are
those for which there is more harm than good produced.  He
notes that "a myth invariably disguises reality, and any
myth that camouflages natural dangers leaves the believer
unwary of the hazards existing in the world."  Believers in
faith healing, for example, may neglect to seek medical help
when necessary, and cause great harm or even death to
themselves (or others, in some cases) as a result.
Obviously, this and similar myths are NOT "harmless fun,"
and his examples make an effective closing for the book.
     Anybody with a smattering of science in their
background should be able to understand The Science Gap, and
I would recommend it highly to anybody who has ever had a
frustrating discussion with a paranormalist or any other
person who uses the myths Rothman discusses.  I would
especially encourage educators to read this book, and use it
whenever possible.


			  REALLity Check
			by David Bloomberg

     Some good news and some weird news in the media
recently.  In December, _Dateline NBC_ featured a story
about homeopathic medicine and doctors.  They sent in a
healthy producer undercover, and the homeopath "diagnosed"
him, using Kirlian photography among other things, as having
several diseases.  The "medicines" given to him were
standard homeopathic derivatives.  One was supposed to cure
his "constitution", and the doctor said it was derived from
a moss.  NBC had it analyzed by a chemical laboratory and
found it to be 85% water, 15% ethanol.  Let's have a round
of applause for NBC, who did their homework and gave viewers
the facts rather than the usual poor investigation we often
see from the networks when dealing with the paranormal and
fringe science claims.
     While we're applauding NBC's news department, let's
also hear a little for whoever is in charge of _I-Witness
Video_.  Sunday, January 3rd's show had a segment about crop
circles.  The beginning looked pretty standard, complete
with spooky music, some views of British corn fields, a
couple of New-Agers twirling dowsing rods and crystals, and
some "man on the street" statements from people who thought
the circles were caused by UFO's, strange underground
forces, or the weather, but it couldn't be a hoax.  But
there, the similarities ended.  For this segment was about a
group of hoaxers who videotaped themselves doing the deed in
the middle of the night (using a light-intensifier lens and
wireless mike to get decent video and sound). The hoaxers
used nothing more than a piece of rope and their feet, and
they managed to make a very nice, sharp, circle which
certainly looked exactly like any other circle we've seen
all over the media.  The next morning, the hoaxers visited
the spot to see their handiwork, and a neighboring farmer
wandered by.  He said, "I don't think any human could have
done that," and remarked upon the lack of footprints!  But,
of course, many crop circle "experts" would have us believe
that any hoaxers must leave footprints.  The guy who taped
the whole thing called it "a good old-fashioned prank."  Of
course, I somehow doubt that this will settle the matter.
Since we're giving out hurrahs to TV stations, let's give
one to _CNN Headline News_, too, for a short clip with
Robert Sheaffer of the Bay Area Skeptics, featuring his year-
end review of psychic predictions for 1992.  A psychic tried
to argue with Sheaffer that she had predicted the LA riots,
but CNN took the liberty of actually re-playing the tape of
her real prediction, and it didn't quite make the grade (she
had referred to the homeless getting organized -- not even
close by any rational standard).  I guess she just wasn't
used to people actually remembering her failed predictions.
     In the print media, the _State Journal-Register_, here
in Springfield, printed a very short article on the failure
of two "psychic detectives" to find a missing girl.
Unfortunately, the article was buried in police reports and
the names of the "psychics" were not given.  But any
coverage is more than the media usually gives when "psychic
detectives" utterly fail to find anything, as usually
occurs.  The _SJR_ also printed an article from the news
wires about office "witches" using black construction paper
and ceremonies to make copy machines work better.
     The _Chicago Tribune_ published a rare skeptical look
at psychics in a Reuters news article about the failure of
tabloid "psychics" to correctly predict even the most basic
things (like Clinton's win).  But only a few days earlier,
they published an article about bleeding cross "miracles."
Also in the _Tribune_ was an advertisement by Maharishi
Mahesh Yogi, who promises to eliminate crime in Chicago if
the city will only pay him and his organization $111 million
per year for five years.  How will he do this?  By placing
coherence-creating experts throughout the city to influence
positivity in the atmosphere, of course.  Now, the Maharishi
seems to know that this might be a bit hard to swallow, so
he proposes, in the advertisement, a two-month trial period,
where the city would pay him $18.5 million to see if it
works.  My question to the Maharishi is this:  If you are so
confident that it works, why do you need the up-front money?
I suggest the city should take him up on his offer, to a
point.  Give him no money unless he can prove results. Heck,
I'd even go so far as to urge the city to offer his
positivity experts free lodging in the crackhouse of their
choice, where any effect they might have could certainly be
     If you see any strange or interesting news articles or
TV shows, please, send them in along with any comments you
wish to share!


                      So Now You're a Skeptic
		         by Wally Hartshorn

     This article is meant as a word of caution.  Chances
are you've had your fill of paranormalists, crackpots,
cranks, creationists, and pseudoscientists, and now you're
eager to start firing back.  You're joining a skeptics'
organization, you've "gotten religion", and you're all set
to spread the gospel to the rest of the world and put the
paranormalists in their place.
     You're poised to become a zealot.
     Hold on just a second.  Have you considered how people
react to zealots?  The reaction generally is not good.  The
zealot may gain a few converts, but the vast majority
dismiss them.  If your only goals are to entertain yourself
by ridiculing those with paranormal beliefs while at the
same time you congratulate yourself on your superior
intellect, then becoming a skeptical zealot will advance
your goals quite nicely.  However, if your goals include
convincing at least a few people that they should examine
paranormal claims rationally, then zealotry is not the
method of choice.
     If someone tells you that they believe in astrology,
don't laugh at them and tell them that they are foolish to
believe in such rubbish.  Few people, upon getting such a
reaction, are going to say, "gosh, you're right, how silly
of me, thank you for showing me the light."  Most will
simply mark you as a disbeliever and avoid discussing the
issue with you in the future.
     A better tactic would be to give them an article that
discusses astrology from a skeptical viewpoint (eg. the many
studies that have shown negative results, the "Barnum
effect", etc).  Don't say, "Here's an article that shows
you're wrong."  Ask them to read the article and then tell
you what they think of it.  There are three advantages to
this approach:  (1) The article acts as the "bad cop," not
you; (2) The article provides more information than you
could probably relate to them during a conversation; (3) By
asking them what they think, you are getting them to think,
rather than simply formulate a defense against an assault on
their beliefs.  The disadvantage is that it takes a bit more
effort on your part to find the article, give it to them,
and convince them to read it.
     If giving them an article is not an option, try this
tactic.  Tell them, "I read an article about astrology which
said..." and relate to them the information from the
article.  Then ask them what they think.  This tactic still
has two of the three advantages listed above (the article
acts as the bearer of bad news and you are encouraging them
to think rather than to defend against your argument).
     Also, avoid the temptation to act as an "instant
expert" on everything.  If you flit scamper about explaining
every new claim that comes along without taking the time to
actually investigate them, you will be marked (rightly so)
as a dogmatic disbeliever, which is precisely the image that
skeptics are trying to fight against.  If someone tells you
about a new UFO sighting, don't instantly tell them that it
wasn't a flying saucer, it was probably an airplane, a
weather balloon, an unusual cloud formation, a hoax, or the
infamous "swamp gas."  If you want to relate the story of
similar sightings and the mundane explanations behind them,
you should emphasize that you are not explaining the new
sighting and that the evidence from the new sighting will
need to be examined before any conclusions can be drawn.
This does two things:  (1) It provides them with information
about several earlier UFO sightings that had mundane
explanations;  (2) It shows that you are not rejecting
claims a priori (another charge that is often levelled
against skeptics).  If you later are able to learn enough
about the new UFO sighting to provide a mundane explanation,
your earlier suspension of judgement will make the
explanation more readily acceptable.
     Eagerness, enthusiasm, and exuberance can be very
useful qualities if they are channeled into productive
activities.  A sledgehammer swung with full force at a wedge
will usually cause the wedge to skitter away, but some
carefully controlled tapping can open up a crack.  The same
can be said of changing people's beliefs.


                          Origins of REALL
                         by David Bloomberg

     In several articles within this newsletter, you have
been told about some of our plans for the future of REALL,
about the members of the Organizing Committee, and you have
read articles have hopefully given you a flavor of what
REALL will be all about.  What you may now be asking
yourself is how REALL formed, where we came from, and what
we did to get here.
     It started with a simple call to Barry Karr, the
Executive Director of CSICOP.  I wanted to ask him about the
status of a local skeptics group in Chicago.  We talked for
a while, and I found that Barry has an incredible filing
system when he pulled out a copy of a letter to the editor
of mine that had been featured in the _Chicago Tribune_ in
July.  In our conversation, he mentioned that he had been in
contact with another Springfield resident who had talked
about forming a local group, Bob Ladendorf.
     I talked to Wally Hartshorn, a friend of mine who I
knew shared my interest in active skepticism, possibly to a
greater degree.  Then I called Bob and we met to figure out
where to go from there.
     The meeting was a success!  We found that we shared
common goals, and REALL was born.  Each of us knew others
that were likely to be interested, and they were contacted.
Also, help was sought outside our local area, from those
more experienced.  To detail all the calls would take up
more room than I have available to me here, but I would like
to thank all those who have helped us, and with whom I hope
we will continue to work.  I hope that I have gotten
everybody in this list, and apologize if I somehow left
somebody out.  In alphabetical order, they are:  Steve Best,
Gateway Skeptics; Professor Steve Egger, Sangamon State
University; Barry Karr, CSICOP; Martin S. Kottmeyer; Rick
Moen, Bay Area Skeptics; Dr. Gary Posner, Tampa Bay
Skeptics; Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, National Center for Science
Education; Rob Sheaffer, Bay Area Skeptics; Bob Steiner,
Society of American Magicians; Ransom Traxler, St. Louis
Association for the Teaching of Evolution; and Detective
Bruce Walstad, Professionals Against Confidence Crime.


     "Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined,
logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of
the universe, obtained by examination of the best available
evidence and always subject to correction and improvement
upon discovery of better evidence.
     "What's left is magic.  And it doesn't work."

                     James "The Amazing" Randi
                    in _The Mask of Nostradamus_


		 Predictions for Future Issues

* Review of the UFO slide show presented in Springfield by Bill
  Knell of Island Skywatch
* Evolution Misconceptions
* Psychic Detectives
* UFOs


			Skeptics Online

If you have a computer and a modem, you owe it to yourself to
participate in the skeptic message areas on the computer BBS
networks.  Here in Springfield, call The Temples of Syrinx at
(217) 787-9101.  David Bloomberg operates this BBS, which carries
the FidoNet SKEPTIC, EVOLUTION and UFO conferences, internationally
distributed message areas for discussing topics of interest to
skeptics.  He is also carrying ParaNet conferences, all dedicated
to UFO and paranormal topics.  You can also find a wide variety of
skeptic text files.

	     The Temples of Syrinx -- (217) 787-9101


Regular membership includes _The REALL News_ and all of the benefits
of membership.  A subscription to _The REALL News_, without membership,
is available.  Full-time students can join at the discounted rate.
A patron membership includes all of the benefits of a regular membership,
plus a listing in _The REALL News_ and our eternal gratitude (where
"eternal" is defined as "one year").

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Bring to a meeting or mail to:  REALL, P.O.
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Last modified Sun Jul 07 02:05:21 1996. Email comments to whartsho@mail.fgi.net