The REALL News


The official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association
		      of Lincoln Land

Volume 1, Number 8                                September 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 Editor -- Bob Ladendorf
From the Chairman -- David Bloomberg
Incredible Mysteries of Sun Pictures -- David Bloomberg
Letter to CBS -- Farrell Till
Predicting the Lottery -- David Bloomberg
REALLity Check -- 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.

Board of Directors:  Chairman, David Bloomberg; Assistant Chairman,
Prof. Ron Larkin; Secretary-Treasurer, Wally Hartshorn; Newsletter
Editor, Bob Ladendorf; At-Large Members, Prof. Steve Egger, Frank
Mazo, and Kevin Brown.

Editorial Board:  Bob Ladendorf (Newsletter Editor), David Bloomberg
(electronic version editor), (one vacancy).

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 Editor
			 -- Bob Ladendorf

   In  this special expanded issue, David Bloomberg takes  a
long,   close  look  at  the  controversy  surrounding   the
production  and broadcast on CBS of purported  documentaries
about  Biblical mysteries. While REALL takes no position  on
religious   beliefs,   it  does  monitor   any   claims   of
authenticity, such as the existence of wood from Noah's ark,
that  can  be dispassionately examined by scientific  means.
Because recent "documentaries" deal with matters like these,
we  feel  that  the  REALL News is an  excellent  forum  for
evaluating media productions.

   Having   a   personal   and  professional   interest   in
filmmaking, including the writing of a thesis on a political
documentary  filmmaker, I know the manipulative  ability  of
filmmakers  to  make the point they want  to  express  while
claiming  objectivity. Documentaries can be wonderful  films
portraying  real life and providing needed information,  but
they also can be purveyors of blatant misinformation. Caveat

   I  hope the articles in this newsletter stimulate further
examinations  of media accounts of real life.  Let  us  hear
from  you  about this controversy, or on any other topic  of
interest to you.

					/s/ Bob Ladendorf


			 From the Chairman
			-- David Bloomberg

   Since my "Gilligan's Island" theme went over so well
last month, I thought I'd make it a regular feature to use
the songs from old sitcoms in my columns. This month I'll
feature The Brady Bunch.
   Here's a story of a man named...
   Ok, ok, I'll stop. The Editor threatened my well being
if I did it again, anyway.
   Since this issue is practically "The Bloomberg REALL
News" anyway, I won't make this column too long.  I'd like
to thank Robert McGrath for coming to Springfield and giving
a great presentation! Every-body there seemed to enjoy it
very much, and we had practically double our normal
attendance. I was ex-tremely happy!
   This brings up the only other subject I'll discuss now:
We are going to be needing speakers from now until, well,
forever. If you would like to give a presentation on a topic
you think would be appropriate to REALL, or even if you just
have a suggestion about a possible topic, please let us
know!  We're doing our best to get good speakers, but we can
always use some help.


   Book Sales:  As mentioned in the two previous issues, we
have a special discount from Prometheus Books:  20% off, and
only $1 for shipping (if you can pick it up at a meeting).
So far, we have about five books ready to be ordered, but we
need 10. I know there are people out there who want to order
books at a great discount,  so please remember to bring your
order to the next meeting, or just send it in to us.

   September Meeting:  As mentioned elsewhere, our
tentatively scheduled meeting in Champaign-Urbana featuring
Ranse Traxler has been postponed for several months due to
circumstances beyond anybody's control.  We promise we'll
have him talk to us soon, though!
   Instead, we will be having a roundtable discussion of
media treatments of fringe-science and paranormal issues,
such as the Sun Pictures controversy featured in this issue.

					/s/ David Bloomberg


                Incredible Mysteries of Sun Pictures
                         by David Bloomberg

     Over  the  past  few  months,  CBS  has  shown  several
specials produced by Sun International Pictures, Inc.  These
shows  have  all dealt with the Bible in one way or  another
and  have  been  biased  towards  the  pro-literalism,  pro-
creationism  side. Skeptics are included for short  segments
that  believers then seemingly tear apart, along with acting
clips  supporting the stories as they appear in  the  Bible.
REALL  has  reported on the most recent two of these  shows,
_The Incredible  Discovery of Noah's  Ark_, which  aired  on
February  20th  ("REALLity  Check",  March  1993;  "REALLity
Check",  July 1993) and _Ancient Secrets of the Bible,  Part
II_, which  aired  on May 15 ("Logic Abuse  and  CBS",  June
1993),  but  new  information makes  it  necessary  to  take
another, much closer, look at Sun and their methods.
   As  reported in the July "REALLity Check", Time  magazine
and  the  Associated  Press (AP) had stories  claiming  that
George  Jammal, one of the people who appeared on the Noah's
Ark  show  to  tell  his story about finding  the  Ark,  has
actually fabricated the entire story to expose Sun's  shoddy
research. This he allegedly did with the help of Dr.  Gerald
Larue,   a  professor  emeritus  of  biblical  history   and
archaeology  at  the University of Southern California,  who
had appeared in an earlier Sun production.
     Jammal's  story, as told on the Sun show, was  that  he
and  a  companion had gone to Mt. Ararat to search  for  the
Ark.   According  to the story, they found  it  and  took  a
number  of  pictures, but Jammal's companion was killed  and
buried  in  a landslide, along with all the photos.   Jammal
had  one piece of evidence to show for his trip, a piece  of
wood  that supposedly came from the Ark. This was the  story
that  Larue  claimed  had  been  fabricated  by  Jammal  and
   Sun  fired back  with a six-page response  to  the _Time_
article.  CBS  has remained mostly silent. The Sun  response
seeks  to address four issues: Who is making the claim  that
Jammal fabricated his account? Did Sun perform due diligence
in  its  research of the Jammal account? Was the   piece  of
wood  alleged to have come from the Ark authentic?   Is  Mr.
Jammal's account still factual?
   In  answer  to  the  first question, the  response  talks
about Dr. Larue. They bring up the following information:
   "Dr.  LaRue (sic) is probably conducting some type  of  a
vindictive campaign against Sun.  This may be the result  of
his appearance as a skeptic in our show, _Ancient Secrets of
the Bible I_ which aired on May 15, 1992. According to _Time_
magazine,  Dr. LaRue felt he was `set up as a  straw  man.'"
They  go  on  to say, "Since 1982, Dr. LaRue has  served  as
chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Examination  of
Religion,  a  group dedicated to refuting Bible claims;  was
the consulting editor (1987-1989) and Emeritus President  of
the   National   Hemlock  Society,  a  euthanasia   advocacy
organization;  and is the senior editor of Free  Inquiry,  a
humanist   magazine  published  by  the  U.S.  Council   for
Democratic and Secular Humanism, another group with goals of
removing  religion from society and Bible oriented  programs
from public broadcast."
     But what does this have to do with whether or not Larue
coached  Jammal?   Apparently Sun is trying  to  imply  that
because Larue is a secular humanist and is upset at Sun, his
claims  of  having  aided Jammal are automatically  suspect.
Rather than trying to defend against his claims or find  out
the  truth  behind  them, they begin by  attacking  the  man
making those claims.
   The  Sun  response then goes on to defend their  research
of Jammal's story. They say they interviewed Jammal, looking
for  flaws  and inconsistencies in the story, and then  gave
the  interview tapes to a psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Meier,  who
served  as  the  field physician on an  earlier  Noah's  Ark
expedition.   Meier  told  Sun's  Chief  Researcher,   David
Balsiger,  that he found the accounts "totally  believable."
Meier  recorded  an interview that had to be  cut  from  the
show,  in  which he said of Jammal, "we would  call  him  an
`obsessive-compulsive with histrionic features.'  What  this
really means is that he's a perfectionist performer."  Later
in  the interview, he says that Jammal wept while discussing
his  alleged companion who had been killed by a rock  slide.
He  uses  this  show of emotion as evidence to  support  the
reality  of the story. But earlier, he had already  admitted
that  Jammal is a "perfectionist performer"! He knew  Jammal
was  an  actor, but apparently ignored the possibility  that
Jammal was acting.
   In  that  interview, Meier also admits that he  does  not
know  Jammal  personally and has only studied him  from  the
tapes.  So,  there  is a psychiatrist who is  certainly  not
unbiased,  working from tapes of an interview done  with  an
actor,  giving testimony that it is accurate. This  is  what
Sun considers research?
   In   addition  to  the  psychiatrist,  Sun  claims   they
analyzed  a map Jammal gave them showing expedition  routes.
According  to Sun, "it could not have been drawn  by  anyone
who  did  not have experience with the mountain."  Sun  does
not, however, explain why this is so.
   The  third  portion of the response deals with the  piece
of  wood Jammal showed, claiming it was a piece of the  Ark.
Sun  begins  by  bluntly admitting that  they  do  not  know
whether  it is real. However, contradictions then appear  in
their response.  They say, "It has not been the practice  of
Sun  or  other production companies to spend money  or  time
testing  and  documenting artifacts  shown  on  the  air  by
interviewees." That sounds fine, until it is  compared  with
Balsiger's comments in the AP article. He said, "We couldn't
test  the wood in time for our deadline."  On one hand,  Sun
is claiming it is not their practice to test such things, on
the  other, they are claiming they didn't have time to  test
   The  remainder of that section defends Sun's  refusal  to
test  such  things by saying their shows are "entertainment"
and  that they would have been creating news if they had run
the  tests.  This brings up the question of why they  tested
Jammal  at all, through the psychiatrist and the map.  Where
does Sun draw the line?  How much research is too much?
   The  final section deals with the question that  sums  it
all  up,  "Is Mr. Jammal's expedition account of seeing  the
Ark still factual?" Sun says they still stand by the account
as being accurate, even in the face of the evidence given by
Larue. "Our position is not expected to change unless  there
is  an admission by Mr. Jammal of an elaborate hoax, and how
he  managed  to  execute such a clever hoax  to  convince  a
professional psychiatrist and several experienced Ark-Ararat
explorers  that  he was telling the truth...or  until  third
party  collaborating evidence can substantiate  Dr.  LaRue's
(sic) account of the hoax."
   So   what  does  Jammal  have  to  say  about  all  this?
According  to  the  AP  article,  he  refused  to  talk   to
reporters.   According to Skeptics Society Director  Michael
Shermer,  and  Dr.  Larue, Jammal  is  not  saying  anything
because  he is afraid of getting sued. When REALL  contacted
Mr.  Jammal, he said that, under his lawyer's advice, he had
no  comment  at this time. But the September 1993  issue  of
Freethought  Today has as its cover story an article  saying
that  Jammal will be speaking about the story at the Freedom
From  Religion Foundation (FFRF) convention on  October  23.
Larue adds that Jammal will lay out the entire story at that
convention.  The  story identifies Jammal as  an  actor  and
mimer, and an FFRF member since 1986.
   When  REALL asked Sun's David Balsiger what would  happen
if   Jammal  came  out  and  admitted  that  the  story  was
fabricated,   Balsiger  said  that  there   may   be   legal
implications  to  hoaxing  a network.  He  also  said,  "CBS
attorneys were trying to speak to Dr. Larue and he would not
get  back  to  them."  Larue said that  he  has  never  been
contacted by CBS or their attorneys.  Balsiger added that he
has  talked to Jammal's attorney, and that Jammal won't make
any  statements until he sees what legal ramifications might
result from Sun or CBS against him and Larue.
   But  even  without a direct admission from Jammal,  there
are   questions  about  Sun's  methodology  in  writing  and
producing  these  shows. For example, as  the _Time_ article
stated, Larue does believe that he was set up as a straw man
by Sun. In an interview with REALL, Larue said that when Sun
came  to  him  for their piece on the fall of the  walls  of
Jericho, they brought a statement and asked him to read  it.
He  said it wasn't exactly the statement he would have made,
but  it was mostly in accord with his views. He went  on  to
say,  "I  read this and was given the opportunity to expound
on  why  I  didn't  believe  it  was  a  genuine  historical
happening." However, all of that was cut out, and  all  that
was  left  in when the show aired was the original statement
that Sun had brought to him. This was followed, according to
Larue,  by  Dr. Bryant Wood, who went on to give  a  lengthy
discussion of his point, which countered Larue's and favored
the  Biblical  interpretation to which all  three  of  Sun's
shows have been slanted.
   Farrell Till, editor of _The Skeptical Review, feels_ the
same way  of his own appearance on _Ancient Secrets of  the
Bible, Part II_ ("Logic Abuse and CBS", June 1993). Sun came
to Till with a script, the same way they came to Larue. Till
was  told  he  could  change it, and he  did  so,  with  the
understanding  that his changes would remain  in  the  show.
Instead,  his  time  was  cut down to  very  little,  mostly
representing what had been originally scripted, and  he  was
dropped  altogether  from  one  scene,  replaced  by   Carol
Dickinson,  a  professor of psychology who simply  read  the
   In  his  interview  with REALL, Sun's Balsiger  discussed
the interviews. "Being entertainment, it's a scripted show,"
he  said.  "But when it comes to the experts, they have  the
liberty and the rights to [put] what they're saying any  way
they  want, the only requirements being that they cannot  be
excessive  on  time, make [their] point fairly quickly,  and
[they]  can't go off on a tangent where [they're]  going  to
get  five  minutes, because it doesn't happen. Most  of  our
experts  always  changed something in the script."  He  said
they  try  to base the script on what they think the  expert
will  say,  based on research that they've  done,  but  they
don't hold them to it.
   In  the  case  of Farrell Till, Balsiger  said,  "he  had
three  scenes  and  wrote a better argument  for  all  three
scenes  and that's the way we shot it." But, he said,  "even
though we shoot an interviewee doesn't guarantee it's  going
to  get  in the show, it doesn't guarantee that their  piece
may not be shortened, it doesn't guarantee that it won't  be
edited in some way."
   Why   is  the  editing  necessary?  Again  according   to
Balsiger,  "the show was over 2 hours too long.  We  haven't
done  a  show  yet that hasn't been at least an  hour  [too]
long.  What  happens  is that we attempt  to  keep  as  many
interviewees  in as possible, [so] we have to shorten  their
pieces.  Maybe  they were speaking for a  minute,  they  get
shortened  to 30 seconds. A sentence or two is cut  off  the
end  or  somewhere, not to change their  point  of  view  or
anything,  but to let them make the longest point  they  are
making in shorter period of time."
   "I'm not sure exactly what happened in [Till's] case.  It
may not have been the duration of what the interview was. We
also have some other requirements that we attempt to meet in
each  show:  What is our ratio of women in each show?  Also,
does a person make more than two appearances?  He could have
been dropped on his third appearance because he already  had
two appearances and another factor may have been that ... we
were  way down on our females. There's a lot of factors that
go  into these shows, and to the viewer it looks like  we're
rigging something."
     Indeed  it  does.  For example, if they  only  allow  a
person  in twice, why shoot three scenes with him?  If  they
base  the  script on their research of a particular person's
views,  why  did the psychology professor who replaced  Till
read  the exact remarks that Sun presented Till?  Did  their
research indicate that she had the exact same views  as  he,
and  would  express  them in the same way?   Why  were  both
scenes  with  Till and Larue cut down such that  essentially
only  the  original statements, scripted by Sun, were  left,
even  though Balsiger admitted that Till came up with better
arguments?   Why doesn't Sun ask the interviewees  ahead  of
time  which  of  their arguments should  be  cut  first,  if
necessary?  Balsiger said that they have NEVER done  a  show
that  hasn't  been too long, so shouldn't they  think  about
editing  ahead  of  time?   Why give  the  interviewees  the
impression that most or all of what they say will be in  the
show when it simply doesn't happen?  Sun needs to answer all
of  these  questions about their procedures if  they  expect
viewers to stop wondering if they are "rigging something."
   So  Larue  did feel that Sun was setting up a  hoax  upon
CBS  viewers, and his friends and acquaintances knew of  his
feelings.  George Jammal knew Larue for approximately  seven
years,  so  when  Sun came to him about his Noah  story,  he
contacted  Larue. According to Larue in his  interview  with
REALL, Jammal started his Ark tale several years earlier  to
expose  faulty research by religious organizations, and  had
been interviewed by a creationist organization then. Sun saw
this  interview and called Jammal when they decided  to  put
together   their  show.  Jammal  saw  this  as   a   perfect
opportunity  to expose Sun's lack of research.  To  help  in
this  endeavor, Larue says Jammal got a piece of  wood  from
his  backyard, soaked it in various juices, baked it in  the
oven, accidentally charred it a bit, scraped off the charred
material,  soaked it in soy sauce, and put it  back  in  the
oven.  Thus he had his chunk of Noah's Ark. Jammal concocted
the  story about his companion Vladimir, who supposedly fell
to his death, to account for his lack of photos.
   Again  according  to Larue in his interview  with  REALL,
Jammal has never been to Mt. Ararat. He was coached by Larue
on  what  to  say  to  help back up his story.  Larue  said,
"Jammal's  part  was designed to expose the  hoax  that  Sun
International  was pulling on the people. We felt  that  the
whole CBS program was a hoax."
   Larue  went  on to say, "It talks about the discovery  of
Noah's Ark. That's a lie. They never discovered Noah's Ark."
He  said  that  calling it "The Search For  Noah's  Ark"  or
something  similar would have been much more  honest.  Larue
was  very  blunt  in  describing his views.  "There  was  no
discovery.  The  title is a lie. The  idea  that  it  was  a
documentary  is a lie. The third lie is that  they  are  now
explaining  it as entertainment only. That was  never  given
clearly in the text."
   In  fact,  the  host  of  the  Noah's  Ark  show,  Darren
McGavin,  stated  at the beginning that  this  was  a  "non-
religious, scientific investigation." To the average viewer,
this makes them think of a documentary, not an entertainment
show.  But  Balsiger said all of Sun's shows are  contracted
under  the  entertainment division; they're  not  news,  nor
documentary.  He calls them reality TV shows and  says  they
are  "actually not allowed to create news. I personally have
gotten  in  trouble over this issue in the  past.   Being  a
researcher,  it  is my inclination to check  this  or  check
that,  but  on  an  entertainment  type  show,  we  are  not
mandated, and matter of fact we [cannot] make news or create
news.  On  an entertainment show, we are actually  forbidden
from  doing that and instructed not to do that. I did it  on
another  occasion  and  when it was discovered  that  I  had
tested an artifact, [which] proved what the interviewee  was
trying to make, it ended up getting not used, period."
   When  asked  about the narrator calling it a  "scientific
investigation," Balsiger said it "may be splitting hairs  on
something that was said by the host, but it should have been
pretty clear that our show was an entertainment." Asked  how
this  should  have been clear, he indicated that  it  should
have  been obvious from the context. He said that news shows
and  documentaries are produced by the network news side  of
the  network, while this was not. He added, "We've only done
entertainment shows over the years.  Reality  TV  shows  are
entertainment. Always have been, always will  be."  Balsiger
said  that he considers shows such as Unsolved Mysteries  to
also  be reality TV shows. However, Unsolved Mysteries makes
a  point of telling the audience before every airing  of  an
episode, "This is not a news broadcast."
   According  to  Balsiger,  we can  look  forward  to  more
"reality  TV"  from Sun and CBS.  Even though the  AP  story
says  that  CBS  claimed  they had  no  other  Sun  programs
scheduled,  Balsiger  said that they have  a  show,  Ancient
Mysteries of the World airing on CBS in November,  which  is
presently in production, and one on UFOs that will  probably
air  in December. He said there are others under development
with CBS. Why didn't CBS mention these in the AP story?
   It  seems that there are a number of unanswered questions
regarding Sun and CBS. L.A. Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg
has  called for an explanation from CBS (July 7, 1993),  but
has  gotten  none.  He  called their stance  an  "incredible
double  standard  regarding truth in news and  entertainment
   So  where  are the answers?  If Jammal admits  to  having
made  up  the  story,  will Sun and CBS  retract  the  story
publicly  and  admit  that they need  to  check  into  their
research procedures? Or will they both continue to say that,
as  "entertainment," they don't need to do any research, and
can   just  present  claims?  The  line  between  news   and
entertainment  is  getting  dangerously  blurred.   When   a
narrator calls a show a "scientific investigation"  but  the
viewer  is  expected  to somehow realize  that  it  is  just
"entertainment," that line has been removed altogether.

  [David   Bloomberg  is  an  environmental   engineer   and
Chairman  of  REALL. He writes the monthly "REALLity  Check"
column  in this newsletter and has several writing  projects
in progress.]



                    Farrell Till's Letter to CBS

[Editor's Note: This is the complete text of Farrell Till's
letter to CBS criticizing the network for broadcasting the
Sun Pictures' shows as documentaries.  He sent a similar
letter  to Sun and got the form response dealing with the
Time article (see earlier article).  To date, he has not
received a reply from CBS. Till gave his permission to REALL
for reprinting the letter.]

51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019


I   am   writing   to  register  my  protest   of   biblical
fundamentalist programs such as _The Incredible Discovery of
Noah's Ark_  and the _Ancient Secrets of the Bible_  series.
Since  I  appeared  as  a critic on the  second  segment  of
_Ancient Secrets_, I trust that my complaint will be  judged
worthy of more than just a form-letter response.

Shortly after _The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark_ aired,
I  was  contacted  by Sun International Pictures,  Inc.,  to
appear in _Ancient Secrets of the Bible II_. Having seen the
original _Ancient Secrets_ as well as the farce about Noah's
ark,   my   reaction   was  to  laugh   when   the   company
representative told me why she was calling. I  thought  that
would end the matter, but company officials kept calling the
switchboard  at the college where I teach to leave  messages
for  me. Finally, I returned the calls and was promised that
I would be permitted to write my own script if I would agree
to appear on the program.

The  writer-director David Balsiger sent me a faxed copy  of
the  script for the Samson and Delilah segment on  which  he
had  written  a message telling me that my scenes  could  be
"worked over to make stronger arguments if we don't get  too
long,  change the subject completely, or get so complex  the
viewer  can't understand the point being made." When I  read
the  script, I was appalled at the shallowness of the scenes
that had been assigned to critics of the story. After I  had
rewritten  my  three  scenes  to  put  some  real   critical
substance into them, I called Balsiger and read my script to
him.  He approved it and assured me that this would  be  the
script that would be used in the filming.

During  the filming, I did about ten takes of these  scenes,
each  of  which followed exactly the script I had submitted.
When the program aired, much of what I had said was cut from
one of my scenes, and another scene was cut entirely. In  my
place,  Carol Dickinson, identified only as a "professor  of
psychology,"  did the third scene and read  the  superficial
statement  that was in Balsiger's original script.  Needless
to  say,  I  had  a  bit of difficulty understanding  how  a
"professor  of psychology" would have the qualifications  to
pass  critical judgment on a biblical issue, especially when
she was doing nothing except reading from a prepared script.
This  criticism may sound strange coming from  me,  since  I
myself  am a college English instructor. However, I do  have
recognized credentials in religion, including degrees from a
religious institution and work experience as a clergyman and
foreign   missionary.  Perhaps  Ms.   Dickinson   also   has
credentials   other   than   her  teaching   experience   in
psychology,  but  nothing  was  stated  in  the  program  to
indicate  that.  All  that she did was to  read  a  prepared
script,  and any person literate in English could have  done
the same.

For  your  information, I am enclosing a  resum‚  that  will
verify  my qualifications to criticize the way this  program
was  presented.  The obvious intention was  to  further  the
cause  of  biblical  fundamentalism.  On  this  subject,   I
consider myself knowledgeable enough to affirm without  fear
of  successful refutation that biblical fundamentalism  runs
completely   contrary  to  the  conclusions  of  responsible
biblical scholarship. For your network to present a  program
so  flagrantly  intended to convey the  fundamentalist  view
that  the  Bible  is  accurate in  everything  it  says  was
completely irresponsible.

If   you  wish  to  schedule  productions  like  these,  you
certainly  have  the  right to do so,  but  they  should  be
presented  as movies and not as documentaries.  The  general
public  is appallingly ignorant of the Bible, so the average
person  seeing these productions will assume that there  are
scholarly  reasons  for  believing that  the  Bible  is  the
inerrant  word  of God. The falsification of facts  on  news
programs  aired by NBC cost an executive his job.  The  cost
should  be  the same whoever is responsible at CBS  for  the
airing  of such programs as these fundamentalist productions
from Sun International Pictures.


                                   Farrell Till


                      Predicting the Lottery
                        by David Bloomberg

   Recently, a self-proclaimed psychic has been touring  the
Midwest,  claiming  that he can and  has  predicted  correct
lottery  numbers. I have studied his methods and  determined
that  you, too, can make a living by doing this. Here  is  a
step-by-step instruction manual.
   1.  Contact  radio/TV stations and/or newspapers  in  the
town you wish to visit. Tell them you'll be around for a few
weeks and get them to interview you when you come to town  -
it's free publicity.
   2.  When  on  the radio or TV, pick 3 numbers.  Say  that
these  are  the  numbers  that you  predict  will  come  up.
However,  you don't know in what order they will appear,  so
people  should  "box"  them  (meaning  play  them  in  every
possible  order). Also, let people know that  these  numbers
may not come up for three weeks or so.
   3.  Mention  a phone number at which you can  be  reached
for private readings.
   4.  Sit back as the calls for personal readings come  in,
and you make money.
   5.  Meanwhile,  the  lottery is played  every  day.  Your
chances of hitting are as follows:  Random pick is 1 in 1000
chance  for a 3-digit drawing. But you have told  people  to
"box"  the  numbers, so that increases it to  a  6  in  1000
chance. It may not come up for 3 weeks, so multiply  by  21,
for  a 126 in 1000 chance. And if the numbers happen to come
up  in the fourth week, you can take credit then, too, which
brings  the  chances  to 168 in 1000.   If  you  do  several
different  readings on the air, say 3 (which  this  supposed
psychic did), you have just tripled your chances to  504  in
1000, or better than 50%.
   6.  If  your  numbers  hit,  people  will  remember  your
prediction  (or  you can remind them), and you  will  become
temporarily famous in town, with lots of people wanting  you
to  do  readings for them. You can stay in town and let  the
money roll in for as long as your celebrity status lasts.
   7.  For  an added bonus, try picking the 5-number  Little
Lotto  or 6-number Lotto once in a while.  If you miss,  see
number 8 below. If, on the off chance, you actually hit, you
could become famous across the country and may make as  much
as if you had actually played those numbers.
   8.  If the numbers don't hit, it's no big deal. You  were
only  planning on staying 3 weeks or so, and can be  out  of
town  by the time your numbers were "supposed" to have  hit,
so  nobody can follow up. Besides, very few people  remember
failed  predictions anyway. You've already made  some  money
from  readings during those weeks, and you can  move  on  to
another town, to start the cycle all over again.
   There you have it. But if anybody makes any money off  of
this plan, I want 10%.


			  REALLity Check
			by David Bloomberg

     What a combination I have for you this month.  From witches 
to creationists, from alternative medicine to the American Medical 

                        REALL in the News

     Of course, the item of greatest interest to REALL members (I hope) 
is that REALL made it into the newspaper again, in several ways. Doug
Pokorski of _The State Journal-Register_ wrote a great article about 
Robert McGrath's presentation the Friday beforehand (August 13). A 
quick survey of attendants at the presentation showed that the
article drew about 10 people that otherwise would never have known 
about it! See below for other newspaper mentions.

                     Can't Break With Tradition

     In the finest "REALLity Check" tradition, we have another bit  
on "alternative medicine".  The State Journal-Register, Health and 
Fitness Section (8/23), had two articles about alternative medicine 
and the recently established Office of Alternative Medicine, under 
the National Institutes of Health. 
     Overall, the article was mostly a report, not taking any sides.  
Personally, it would have been nice to see a little more research on 
the specific "therapies", but it could have been worse. Several 
things that could have pointed out are that the existence of such a
governmental office does not validate the supposed therapies.  It is 
because so many people are spending billions of dollars on these methods
that the office was formed, to try to figure out if any of them have 
merit.  Until scientific testing is done (double blind tests, etc.), 
we cannot know which, if any, of the methods are valuable.
     Hopefully, strict testing will eradicate some of the myths and 
perhaps put and end to some of the wilder claims made by some 
alternative health proponents.
     REALL Chairman/"REALLity Check" author David Bloomberg had a
letter to the editor published on this topic on September 12th.  The
letter went into a few details about alternative medicine that regular 
readers of this column have already seen, especially those who just 
read the preceding paragraph. In particular, homeopathy was singled 
out as having been tested a great deal already, with no positive
effects, though there is always the possibility that actual scientific 
tests may show some use for other alternatives.

                      Creationism in Vista Schools

     Out West, in Vista, CA, the school board has managed to figure out a 
way to get creationism into the public schools.  According to a _Chicago
Tribune_ front page article (August 25), the board was opposed by 
the school district's own teachers' association, but apparently ignored 
     The resolution that was passed called for enhancing scientific 
education by having teachers present "scientific evidence that challenges 
any theory in science."  Heck, any good science teacher should do that!  
It certainly sounds innocuous enough.  However, the first draft of the 
resolution shows the real intent.  It said, "to enhance positive 
scientific exploration and dialogue, weaknesses that substantially 
challenge _theories in evolution_ should be presented."  (Emphasis added) 
Somebody at the first hearing pointed out that the school district was 
likely to get sued, and lose, due to the original language, so they 
changed it. But the intent is still clear. Further evidence is that 
the lawyer who drafted the Vista board's policy change, David Llewellyn,
does "legal work on behalf of conservative Christian causes across 
the region" according to the article.
     The article was well-researched, and brought out most of the points
that need to be shown about creationism and the public school system. The
most important fact is, of course, that a 1987 Supreme Court decision 
said the teaching of creationism as science in the public schools is 
unconstitutional, as it violates the separation between church and state. 
Now it looks like creationists are trying a new direction to sneak 
creationism into schools without calling it "creationism".  In case 
anybody wonders how a situation in California is pertinent to schools 
here in Illinois, remember that most textbook manufacturers look to
California and Texas for guidance in writing textbooks.  Also, the 
situation in Vista is only one part of a national campaign to get 
creationists elected to school boards.  According to the article, 
last year this campaign succeeded in getting 3,611 "conservative
Christians" into school boards across the country.
     On a heartening note, the two letters which were published in 
response to the Vista article were both against the teaching of 
Creationism in public schools (September 4). A later letter (September 
13), apparently in rebuttal to those two, attacked science in such a
haphazard way that the writer managed to contradict himself several 
times in only a few paragraphs.

             Extra Credit:  Turn Your Classmate Into A Newt

     Also out in California, and also reported by the _Chicago Tribune_
(August 10), school vouchers are being put to a vote.  These would, among
other things, allow parents to use some money that would have gone to 
the public schools to send their children to private schools.  It is 
often, though not by any means only, supported by the same people who 
want creationism taught as science. Why?  Because this would allow them 
to use public funds to teach religion.
    But that isn't really what this portion of "REALLity Check" is about. 
It seems that some witches have decided that this voucher system would be
a great idea, but not exactly in the manner many other proponents want. 
The Contra Costa Pagan Association said that they intend to form a school 
if the voucher proposal is passed. According to the article, a pagan 
school would teach regular classes, plus one period per day of pagan 
lore, including "how to burn sage to `cleanse energy.'" 
     How can they hope to teach science in such an atmosphere that is so 
contradictory to scientific method. Or do most schools mix physics class
with energy cleansing?  Most readers would probably hate to think all 
their energy has been dirty up `til now.

                         False Memory Syndrome

_The State Journal-Register_ had an article (August 20) about a $3.5 
million lawsuit being brought by Steve McCaffrey against the Rev. Robert
Vonnahmen for alleged sexual abuse from 12 years ago, which McCaffrey 
just remembered recently. One portion of the article said that McCaffrey 
claimed that it is common for victims of childhood sexual assault to 
repress those memories. What _The State Journal-Register_ didn't say was
that there is little or no scientific evidence that these sorts of 
memories really can be suppressed. There is evidence that they can be 
created by therapists and/or improper use of hypnosis. There is no way 
to tell, from this one article, if this may be true here, but it bears 
     A letter on this subject, written by REALL Secretary/Treasurer Wally 
Hartshorn was printed on September 6.  In that letter, he pointed out
much of the above information (OK, "REALLity Check" borrowed much of the 
above paragraph from his letter).
     Speaking of False Memory Syndrome (FMS), Pamela Freyd, of the FMS
Foundation, sent in an article from Clinical Psychiatry News (August 
1993) about the American Medical Association's (AMA) position on "memory
enhancement" techniques.  In summary, the article states that the AMA 
regards such techniques in child sexual abuse cases "to be fraught with 
problems of misapplication." This statement is part of a resolution 
adopted without comment during the annual meeting of their House of
Delegates. The resolution also called for their Council of Scientific 
Affairs to evaluate "the validity of techniques used to help patients 
recall childhood experiences."
     A 1985 AMA report had stated that accounts of events elicited 
through hypnosis "can involve confabulations and pseudomemories," but 
did not deal directly with "repressed memories" of childhood abuse.

                        She Should Have Known

     Those people who heard Detective Bruce Walstad speak at the REALL 
meeting in April may recognize the name "Ruby Stevens." Walstad mentioned 
her as one of the "fortune tellers" he has met.  Well, it appears she has
found herself in trouble with the law.
     Again, those who were at the meeting should remember that fortune 
telling itself is not a crime.  However, promising something, such as 
curing a curse, for a sum of money is.  According to a _Chicago Tribune_ 
article of September 9, Ruby Stevens has been charged with accepting 
$300 in return for removing the "black aura" and "curse" from a 
Bloomingdale resident.
     Stevens' lawyer argued that the charge of theft should be dismissed
because it doesn't state that the client held a "reasonable belief" that 
Stevens could actually help solve her problems.  The lawyer also argued 
that "a reasonable person would know that Stevens couldn't really purge 
an aura or a curse from anyone's life." (_Tribune_ quote) The judge 
denied the motion to dismiss.
     This case is interesting in that the fortune teller's own lawyer 
is apparently arguing that a reasonable person wouldn't actually believe 
the claims allegedly made by the fortune teller. Well, "REALLity Check" 
has to agree, but should the court be making judgments about what is a 
"reasonable" belief and what isn't? Luckily, the judge didn't seem to 
think so.

                            Hello X-Files

     A few months ago, "REALLity Check" said good-bye to the Fox show, 
_Sightings_.  To replace that show, Fox has put on a new show, The _X-
Files_.  At least they admit this one is fiction, though they call it 
drama when it should probably be labeled as a comedy.
     It's pretty easy to sum up this show in a few words:  The government 
is bad.  UFOlogists are right.
     Ok, in a few more words: There is a conspiracy to cover up evidence 
dealing with aliens. The FBI sends out agents to debunk everything, and
evidence is hidden away in a secret Pentagon warehouse (remember the 
scene from _Raiders of the Lost Ark_?). When a rogue agent with political 
connections starts examining some of these cases, the FBI assigns a 
scientifically-trained agent to report on him.  Of course, the rogue is 
right and the scientist is all wrong.
     The script of the premiere could have been taken out of almost any 
generic pro-UFO book.  Already there are rumblings within the UFO 
community that this show is using "real" case histories, and that the 
government is preparing us to eventually reveal the reality of alien 
contact. Of course, that has been said for years about various TV
shows, movies, etc., but that doesn't seem to phase some.


                        A Nod to our Patrons

REALL would like to thank our patron members.  Through their extra 
generosity, REALL is able to continue to grow as a force for critical
thinking in Central Illinois.  Patron members are those giving $50
or more.  To become a patron of REALL, please see the membership form
below.  Patron members are:

     Alan Burge, D.D.S., Pekin         Wally Hartshorn, Springfield
     David Bloomberg, Springfield      Bob Ladendorf, Springfield



We are placing an order as soon as we have a minimum of 10 books.  To 
order through REALL or to get a Prometheus Books catalog, come to the
next meeting, or send us a check for the book(s) minus 20% + $1 for 
shipping and pick u the book(s) at a following meeting, or call us.



		 Predictions for Future Issues

* Current Research Updates on Top Ten Paranormal/Fringe Science Activities
* Paranormal Beliefs in Medieval Times
* The End of the World!
* Using Computer Bulletin Boards for skeptical information
* Who is Susan Blackmore?


			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").

Name: _________________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________

City, State, ZIP: _____________________________________________

Phone: ________________________________________________________

Interests: ____________________________________________________

		___      Regular Membership ($20/Year)
		___      Student Membership ($15/Year)
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		___      Patron Membership ($50 or more/Year)
		___      Subscription Only ($12/Year)
		___      Trial or Gift Subscription ($3 for 3 issues)

Bring to a meeting or mail to:  REALL, P.O.
				Box 20302
				Springfield, IL 62708


Last modified Sun Jul 07 02:05:29 1996. Email comments to whartsho@mail.fgi.net