The REALL News


The official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association
		      of Lincoln Land

Volume 2, Number 2                                 February 1994


       *>*>*>*>*> SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY ISSUE <*<*<*<*<*


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
Alien Suckers -- Martin Kottmeyer
Ray Hyman: "The Very Model of the Modern Major Skeptic" 
	-- Robert E. McGrath
REALLity Check -- David Bloomberg
REALLity Checklist, 1993 In Review -- David Bloomberg
Survey Results


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.  REALL also requests that you send
copies of your newsletters that reprint our articles to the
above address.

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

   As the French policeman played by Claude Rains said in
_Casablanca_--"Round up the usual suspects"--we have done
something similar for our special, expanded anniversary
issue by rounding up our usual authors and subject matters.
   Martin Kottmeyer, one of our popular authors as shown in
our survey results (p. 7), again takes on the alien
advocates by examining a purported feature of aliens, and
consequently, he delves into the nature of evidence.
   Robert E. McGrath has another portrait of a skeptic,
this one being of Ray Hyman, a founding member of the
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal (CSICOP) and author of a classic book on dowsing.
   Chairman David Bloomberg has added an extra touch to
this special issue: a checklist of awards for the best and
worst efforts of the media in covering paranormal and
pseudoscientific issues. In addition, David adds his usual
sardonic touch to his popular media watch column, "REALLity
   As you can see, this 12-page anniversary issue is packed
with information about these issues. I hope you enjoy the
smorgasbord of features.
   And make every moment a REALL one.

					/s/ Bob Ladendorf


			 From the Chairman
			-- David Bloomberg

   I'm happy to start our anniversary issue by announcing
that in addition to our four original Patron members, we
welcome three NEW Patrons! I'd like to personally thank Bob
Smet, David Brown, and John Lockard, along with Alan Burge,
Wally Hartshorn, and Bob Ladendorf for their Patron
memberships, which will help us do some of the things we had
to put off last year due to lack of funds. These include
sending out informational letters to subscribers of
Skeptical Inquirer and letting them all know what we've been
doing, sending similar letters to science teachers in the
area, and possibly again going to this years Illinois
Science Teachers Association meeting and similar events. In
addition, we are in the midst of exploring exactly what is
necessary to become an official non-profit organization. You
may be feeling a bit of deja vu now, since I've mentioned
these activities before, but I think it's important to keep
our members informed of just what we are doing and what our
plans are.
   For those of you who have not yet renewed your
membership, remember that this is the last issue for quite a
few of us. Renew now so you don't miss an issue!
   In other news, you can find the results of the survey
from the November and December newsletters elsewhere in this
issue. I must admit that we didn't get the response we were
hoping for, but I'll be an optimist and surmise that we're
doing ok, and that most of you agree with what we've done so
   I don't want to take up any more room, since even the 12
pages we have in this special issue doesn't seem like enough
to fit everything we wanted. Hopefully, I'll be seeing you
at the meetings!

					/s/ David Bloomberg


 			Alien Suckers
                     by Martin Kottmeyer

   Abduction researchers believe an important source of
verification of the claims of abductees lies in details that
cases share but which are unpublished and unknown to the
public. This is an important point since investigators in
criminal cases routinely withhold details of cases from the
media so they can trip up fraudulent confessors and copycat
criminals. The repetition of the unpublicized details acts
as a form of corroboration that the same individual is
   Such statements would normally carry some weight, but
skeptics tend to reserve judgment because UFOlogists usually
find similarities at the expense of ignoring substantial
differences. Philip J. Klass cites a number of examples in
UFOs: A Dangerous Game.  In the 1991 volume of the Journal
of UFO Studies, John S. Carpenter has revealed one of these
secret verifying details and provides an opportunity to
assess how much weight to give this argument.
   Reporting on the double abduction of "Jennifer" and
"Susan," Carpenter states one of the pair saw "little round
suction cups on the bottom of their finger tips." He
recalled hearing this same detail in a case reported by Budd
Hopkins at a private abduction conference in Aspen,
Colorado, six months earlier. Two other researchers
immediately commented to Carpenter  that they had
encountered these details in some of their cases. Two years
later an abductee who had never read a UF0 book also
recalled round suction cups on the tips of four long
fingers. The usefulness of the detail was finally
compromised when a drawing was published in UF0 Crash at
Roswell involving autopsies of aliens taken from the 1947
crash. The drawing showed sets of four circles on the tips
of each finger. The crash-retrieval researchers had no
direct association with abduction claims.
   There are numerous problems here. First, the autopsy
drawing shows only circles. There is no notation that they
are suckers. They could be protuberances, markings involving
differences in pigmentation, or slight ridges analogous to
human fingerprints. The text doesn't elaborate on what they
are either. The nurse who provided the drawing described a
number of things about the body  such as its mummy-like
fragility and the absence of opposable thumbs, but not that
detail. Carpenter might be right in thinking they are
suction cups, but it doesn't seem certain.
   These autopsy drawings are different from an autopsy
drawing in Leonard Stringfield's 1982 UFO Crash/Retrievals
status report. That one was based on an incident in the
early 1950s and showed a four-finger arrangement with no
opposable thumb. However, it was distinctly different in
possessing elegantly long-pointed fingernails that looked
unambiguously dangerous--that is very "un-fragile." There is
no mention of suckers, and one senses they would not be
workable in conjunction with those claw-like nails.
   Carpenter does not include drawings of Jennifer's
alien's hands and finger-tip suction cups. There also are no
drawings of the suction cup finger tips of Hopkins' private
case or the other cases mentioned. This precludes detailed
comparison. Do they all have the four- circle arrangement of
the Roswell autopsy? Are the suckers single-lobed? Do they
protrude from the axial tip of the finger, or are they
perpendicular from the axis and protrude from the pad of the
finger-tip? How large or small are they compared to the rest
of the finger? There could be substantial differences which
would alter one's assessment of whether these people are
seeing the same things or not.
   Another problem is deciding how much significant it is
to have a detail that recurs in only five or six cases.
There are hundreds of abduction cases. If we take the
radical assumption that people are randomly creating each
detail, even independent invention is bound to yield some
repetition if only because the range of imaginable
possibilities is finite. In addition, factor in the
likelihood that people are likely to borrow details from the
surrounding culture and the significance becomes even less.
   In the case of alien suction cups, there are significant
cultural sources where this detail could have been borrowed
from. Carpenter may be right in saying this detail never
appeared in the UFO literature before the late spring of
1991. Offhand I can't recall anyone mentioning it before,
and I am pretty sure I would have remembered because I would
have enjoyed discovering such an instance too much. I say
that because I loved George Pal's movie War of the Worlds
and would have immediately recognized the influence. Every
science fiction (SF) movie buff has the image of the
suckered hand approaching the back of Sylvia and her
subsequent scream of terror permanently etched in their
memories as one of the best scenes of horrific suspense put
to the screen.
   There is an amusing bit of history behind that image.
There were no finger-tip suckers to the aliens in the
original 1898 story by H.G. Wells. The Martians had
degenerated to the extent that they were down to having a
large head and two bundles of 8 delicate tentacles. They
mainly just wanted our planet because theirs was dying from
the long-term cooling of the sun. Cecil B. DeMille planned,
in 1925, to make it into a film epic and had Roy Pomeray
prepare an outline to make the story more cinematic. He
changes things a tad. In the new version the aliens aren't
looking for a new summer home; their "desire is to find
beautiful women with whom they plan to breed and propagate a
mixed Martian-Earth race which is to populate the Earth
anew." The female encounters the three-foot tall amorphous
Thing to her disgust and loathing and she is eventually
captured by a huge, mechanical claw.
   Over the years several major film directors_Alfred
Hitchcock, Sergei Eisenstein, and Alexander Korda_considered
filming War of the Worlds but backed away when they learned
the rights were locked up by Paramount. Around 1951, with
flying saucer scares being the talk of the day, Paramount
approached George Pal, who had just produced When Worlds
Collide for them, with the idea of working up their
property. Pal commissioned Barre Lyndon to do a new
screenplay. It is Lyndon who introduces the suckers.
   He describes the encounter in almost Gothic tones. An
arm that isn't an arm passes through an opening in a broken
glass door. It has "ribbed degenerate musculature, thick
veins," and ends "in a hand-shape with three finger-like
suckers." They fasten on Sylvia's shoulder and draw her
back. She tries to scream but paralysis takes her voice.
Forrester, the man with her, tries to kill the creature and
ends up chopping off the Thing's arm. Lyndon continues, "The
suckers still cling to the girl's shoulder. Forrester pulls
off the loathsome arm with the suckers tearing away part of
her blouse." The dramatic function of the suckers is all too
evident in Lyndon's screenplay. If this were the Eighties
the scene would have been written to have had dead talons
piercing deep into bleeding flesh; this being the Fifties,
the horror is more superficial.
   Pal had the scene changed before the filming. The arm
approaches Sylvia out of curiosity instead of for the
purpose of capture. This had the effect of heightened
suspense and doubtless plays better than Lyndon's version.
We don't get the hanging dead arm, and that makes the
suckers somewhat superfluous from a dramatic perspective.
Aesthetically, it lends the hand a uniquely different shape
and emphasizes the wholly alien character of the Martian as
it moves in on Sylvia. Nobody quarrels with the results.
   George Pal's War of the Worlds has been justly praised
many times over the years and regularly graces Ten-Best
lists of SF films. It has played on TV many times. As
recently as 1989, it inspired a short-lived series of the
same name. (I don't recall if they used sucker fingers, but
I doubt it.) The percentage of the population exposed to the
image of the sucker fingers from this source alone cannot be
   Nor is it the only source. Explorers (1985) has a pair
of goofy-looking aliens with conspicuous sucker fingers. Rob
Bottin, the make-up designer indicated their form was no
accident. The producer, Joe Dante, "wanted War of the
Worlds-type long skinny fingers and we did that with the
feet also." Trekkies will recall the salt Vampire of the
episode "The Man Trap" which sucked salt out of people
leaving giant round hickeys on their bodies. I stumbled
across one publicity shot from the virtually forgotten SF
comedy series Quark that seemed to have a alien possessing
sucker fingers. I have no reason to doubt there may be other
obscure examples in the huge body of SF films and videos.
   Given these cultural sources, five or six cases of
aliens with sucker fingers seem rather unimpressive. I am
tempted to say it is rather less than one might expect given
the generally Wellsian sources detectable in the abduction
literature, but expectations are subject to many amorphous
factors like selection effects by abductees and UFOlogists,
the influence of current UFO literature and associated
drawings, the unknown percentage of conscious hoaxing
relative to unconscious borrowing, and so on. It is hard to
know what to expect with respect to an issue like suckers on
aliens. I consider it an open question whether the presence
of suckers is a point in favor of a psychosocial view of the
alien abduction phenomenon. The absence of drawings again
precludes an assessment of the nature or degree of cultural
influence versus independent invention.
   One point is easily grasped; the argument that
abductions are real because of a corroboration using
unpublicized details no longer holds.


    Ray Hyman:  "The Very Model of the Modern Major Skeptic"
                      by Robert E. McGrath

   Ray Hyman recounts that when he was young he worked as a
fortune teller reading palms. He followed the signs and the
clients were pleased and astonished at how he could tell all
about them. Like many people, he was sure palm reading
worked, although he wasn't sure how. Unlike most people, he
tried an experiment: he told a client the opposite of what
the signs said. To his astonishment, this reading was even
more successful than regular ones! The customer was amazed
with how accurate the reversed reading was. He had
discovered the power of what psychologists call
"self-validation". The clients wanted him to succeed, and
convinced themselves that he had great insight.[14]
   For the past 40 years, Ray Hyman has earned a "dishonest
living", not as a fortune teller, but as a professor of
psychology. He has studied the psychology of belief,
deception, and human error in many settings. He is one of
the very few "mainstream" scientists who have taken
parapsychology seriously enough to critically examine its
claims to scientific validity. As a founding member of the
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal (CSICOP), he has helped set the standards of
scientific inquiry into the claims of the paranormal.
   One of Professor Hyman's first major works was a study
of dowsing, _Water Witching, USA_ [1]. This book, although
more than 30 years old now, is still the definitive study of
dowsing. Vogt and Hyman show that, although dowsing does not
work, most people are convinced that it does because of
natural psychological biases and social processes. Just as
in the case of palm reading, dowsing appears to work because
of selective perception and "self-validation".
   In one classic study discussed in _Water Witching, USA_,
the dowser was highly accurate as long as anyone in the
room_the dowser, the experimenter, a member of the
audience_knew the correct answer. When the test was totally
blind, the dowsers were unable to detect the target more
often than by chance. [1, pp. 77-79] This is known as the
"Clever Hans" phenomenon. ("Clever Hans" was a horse that
could do arithmetic_as long as someone was present who knew
the right answer.) The dowser (or horse or palm reader) is
able to pick up subtle, unconscious cues from the people,
such as drawn breath, body language, or facial expressions,
which can guide him to the target. It is important to
emphasize, though, that the dowser is usually not aware he
is doing this.
   Scientists have long known the importance of unconscious
cueing and self-validation and how they can deceive the
observer. Scientific studies use randomization and
"blinding" to avoid unconscious cueing, and statistical
tests to help draw valid conclusions from a body of data.
These methods are not used in everyday life, of course,
which leaves us all to make errors of perception and
judgment. As Hyman makes clear, such errors are the natural
consequence of the way we deal with the world.[l,3] These
normal human errors also lead, perhaps almost inevitably, to
the perception of apparently paranormal phenomena.
   In addition to being a cagey psychologist, Ray Hyman is
a pretty fair magician. This has given him yet another angle
on these questions_a magician is in the business of fooling
people, magic tricks work by taking advantage of human
psychology to deliberately cause erroneous perceptions and
judgments. His article on "The Psychology of Deception" is
destined to become a classic.[11]
   Ray Hyman is one of the few "mainstream" psychologists
who have given careful attention to scientific studies that
seem to show Extrasensory Perception (ESP) and Psychokinesis
(PK).[6,7,8,9] Perhaps the most significant effort in this
area was his review, with Charles Honorton, of the
"ganzfeld" psi experiments, a body of experiments that
seemed to show scientific evidence of ESP. The Hyman and
Honorton review showed that the data was much weaker than
claimed, and that almost all the studies were grievously
flawed.[7,9] This has led, if nothing else, to a significant
improvement in the methodology of parapsychological studies.
   Hyman has been a strong leader and role model of the
"organized skeptics" movement. Besides dowsing and
parapsychology, he has examined faith healing[4], "The
Oregon Vortex"[13], and expertly criticized popular books
such as _The Geller Papers_[2] and _The Mind Race_[5]. In
all these efforts, he has set a consistent high standard of
inquiry, combining careful observation, broad knowledge of
human psychology (and conjuring), with gentle, good-humored,
   Two short works by Ray Hyman are absolutely essential
reading for any skeptic. The first is " `Cold Reading': How
to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them" [3]. In
this short paper, Hyman explains the psychology that
underlies successful fortune telling and shows exactly how
to do it, "Cold reading" is simple and natural, requires no
special abilities or mental abnormalities, and is critical
to understanding a whole variety of "psychic" experiences.
   The second essential work is called "Proper Criticism."
[10][Reprinted in _The REALL News_, Vol. 1, No. 2, March
1993 -- Ed.] This is a short, simple, and elegant guide to
how to criticize paranormal claims. Every skeptic should
know this article by heart. Hyman complains that skeptics
have had to spend too much time on "damage
control_precipitated by the careless remarks of a fellow
skeptic". [l2, p.438]
   "If we envision ourselves as champions of rationality,
science, and objectivity, then we ought to display these
very same qualities in out criticism. Just as by trying to
speak in the spirit of precision, science, logic and
rationality_those attributes we supposedly admire_we would
raise the quality of our critiques by at least one order of
magnitude."[12, p. 438]
   Hyman gives eight rules to follow and his exposition of
these points describes the essence of good skepticism,
rational argument, and civilized discourse. Fortunately,
Professor Hyman's most important skeptical works are
collected in one volume, _The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific
Appraisal of Psychical Research_ [12]. This collection is a
fabulous source of information and inspiration. Ray Hyman is
a skeptic, a scholar, and a gentleman,

   ...in things psychological, psychical, or magical
   he is the very model of the modern major skeptic-al.


       1. with Evan Z. Vogt, _Water Witching, USA_.
   University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1959. (Second
   edition, 1972).
       2. "Review of The Geller Papers by Charles Panati",
   _The Zetetic_, Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 1976, pp. 73-80.
       3. "'Cold Reading': How to Convince Strangers That
   You Know All About Them", _The Zetetic_, Volume 1,
   Spring 77, pp. 18-37.
       4. "Occult Healing", in S. Barrett (ed.), _The
   Health Robbers: How To Protect Your Money and Your
   Life_, 2nd edition, George P. Stickley, Philadelphia,
   1980, pp. 26-34.
       5. "Outracing the Evidence: The Muddled 'Mind
   Race"', (Review of The Mind by Russel Targ and Keith
   Harary), _Skeptical Inquirer_, Volume 9, Number 2,
   Winter 1984-85, pp. 125-145.
       6. "A Critical Historical Overview of
   Parapsychology", in Paul Kurtz (ed.), _A Skeptic's
   Handbook of Parapsychology_, Prometheus Books, Buffalo,
   1985, pp. 3-96.
       7. "The Ganzfeld Psi Experiment: A Critical
   Appraisal", _Journal of Parapsychology_, Volume 49,
   March, 1985, pp. 3-49.
       8. "Parapsychological Research: A Tutorial Review
   and Critical Appraisal", Proceedings of the IEEE, Volume
   74, Number 6, June, 1986, pp. 823-849.
       9. with Charles Honorton, "A Joint Communique': The
   Psi Ganzfeld Controversy", Journal of Parapsychology,
   Volume 50, December, 1986, pp. 351-364.
       10. "Proper Criticism", _Skeptical Briefs_, number
   3, May, 1987, pp. 4-5.
       11. "The Psychology of Deception", _Annual Review of
   Psychology_, Volume 40, 1989, pp. 133-154.
       12. _The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific Appraisal of
   Psychical Research_, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, 1989.
   (Includes reprints of 2-5 and 7-10 above).
       13. The "Oregon Vortex" is a tourist attraction
   based on what appears to be an optical illusion. The
   case was discussed at a seminar, 'The Skeptics Toolbox",
   in Eugene, Oregon, August, 1992.
       14. Hyman has told versions of this story many
   times, including on _NOVA_ on PBS television.


                         REALLity Check
                       by David Bloomberg

   The new year started off, well, weird.

       The REAL Miracle Would Be If I Vote For Him Now

   State Rep. Mike Curran (D-Springfield) took a risky trip
to Boznia-Herzegovina recently. According to the _State
Journal-Register_ (Jan. 24), there he was witness to
miraculous events (unfortunately, one of those events was
not a cease-fire that lasted).
   Among those places that Curran visited was Medjugorje
(it's times like this I'm glad that I only have to _write_
this column, instead of trying to _talk_ about these things-
I would never be able to pronounce that name!), apparently a
place where the Virgin Mary makes frequent visits, and has
done so for about 12 years. Curran said he did not actually
see Mary, but was in the same room as somebody who did
(those politicians--always looking the other way). Also,
Curran claims that some members in his visiting group were
healed, including one case of pancreatic cancer. I don't
know about anybody else, but I'd like to see this guy's
medical records before I go around proclaiming a miracle. I
would hope that a person involved in governing our state and
representing us would also look for evidence before making
such an extraordinary claim. However, Curran's statement to
skeptics, as quoted in this story, was, "If people want to
be skeptical, that's OK. I went through this and I don't
feel any need to convince people."
   To the contrary, Mr. Curran. If you expect to be
respected by skeptics and critical thinkers, convincing
people is _exactly_ what you need to do.

                       The Write Stuff

   _Parade_ magazine took a sample of President Clinton's
handwriting and submitted it to Roger Rubin, a New York City
graphologist who uses handwriting to do character analysis
for "dozens of corporations" (Jan. 9). Along with that
sample, they sent a description of Clinton, saying "only"
that he was a 47-year-old man being considered for a CEO
position at an international corporation.
   Rubin sent back an analysis which, of course, looks like
it fits Clinton pretty darned well. But, on looking at it
more carefully, it fits a _lot_ of other people equally
well. In other words, it's darned similar to many cold
readings. The description of Clinton's character could have
come out of a "How to Cold Read People and Make Them Think
You're Psychic" manual. It said he struggles to achieve
goals and assert himself, but he also wants to please
others.  He can sometimes have a short fuse. He's used to
being in a position of power. He's ambitious. Etc.  Well,
heck, they told Rubin that the guy was only 47 and being
considered as a CEO for a large company! It pretty much goes
without saying that he is ambitious, asserts himself but
pleases others, etc.!
   Why did _Parade_ have to tell Rubin _anything_? If his
analysis works so well, he should be able to do it without
knowing anything at all about the person.
   Perhaps the scariest part of this whole story is that
several dozen corporations use this type of analysis to
determine who to hire. Why not just send the potential
employee to a store-front psychic or do an astrological
chart instead? The answers will probably be similar, and
all methods will be equally useless in determining whether
or not the employee can do the job.

                         Fish Story

   According to Adrian Shine, a "Nessie-hunter" for 20
years, the Loch Ness Monster might just be a fish.
   AP reported (Jan. 2) that a new study done by Shine
found that there isn't enough fish to keep a "monster" of
the size often described alive. Instead, it showed that the
"monster" could probably be no more than about 600 pounds,
which is the size of a large sturgeon. Sturgeons have long
snouts, which could have been mistaken for a neck, and
prominent dorsal fins. They move from saltwater to fresh
water to mate, and Shine says it isn't impossible to believe
that some could stumble into the lake and start the legend.

                        The FMS Front

   Well, false memory syndrome (FMS) is becoming almost as
popular in "REALLity Check" as alternative medicine (which
is conspicuously absent from this edition). In February,
there were two prominent discussions of FMS in two days.
   First (Feb. 9), the _Chicago Tribune_ had a front-page
article discussing the problems faced by Steven J. Cook, the
man accusing Cardinal Bernardin of molesting him. The main
problem seems to be the validity, or lack thereof, of the
methods used to "recover" his memories. In the past, courts
have generally held that evidence obtained through hypnosis
is admissible only under certain conditions, including that
the therapist is properly trained and uses widely recognized
techniques and safeguards to guard against the introduction
of false memories. Cook's therapist, Michele Moul, is not a
licensed psychiatrist, but received a master's degree in
applied psychology from the University of Santa Monica, an
unaccredited institution. Since graduating, she has operated
a graphic arts studio. Defense lawyers said they expect to
challenge her techniques in court; there appears to be no
evidence that Cook had _any_ memory of abuse by Bernardin
before his therapy, and the attorneys say this raises
questions of whether or not they were actually introduced
during that therapy.
   The following day, Ann Landers' column featured two
letters from people who said they have been victimized by
therapists who have implanted false memories. One letter is
from a parent whose grown daughter is now accusing her of
abuse that never happened, and the second is from somebody
who also said they were victimized and describe the way
therapists induce such memories.  In response, I was pleased
to see Landers mentioned the recent American Medical
Association resolution and referred people to the FMS

                REALLity Checklist -- 1993 In Review
                       by David Bloomberg

   Like any other year, 1993 had its ups and downs.
Sometimes the media did a great job, sometimes they needed
to go back to the basics, and sometimes it was the same
paper or even author! What's different about this year is
that it's REALL's first year of existence, and so I can
summarize the highlights and the lowlights for you.

*  Worst Research Award

   This _has_ to go to Sun Pictures and CBS for their
series of creationist-biased shows including _Ancient
Secrets of the Bible, Part II_ (V1, #5) and, of course, _The
Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark_ (V1, #2, 6, 8, and V2
#1). George Jammal has said that the whole goal of his hoax
was to expose the faulty research by similar organization,
and I'd say he did just that. As reported last issue, Sun is
out of the pseudo-science TV business for at least several
years, if not more. And hopefully CBS will be somewhat more
careful in their choice of programming in the future.

*  Best Expose Award

   _Dateline NBC_ wins this award for two of their stories,
both relating to alternative medicine. The first, reported
by that show in December of 1992 (and thus, technically,
shouldn't be in this list, but I won't tell if you don't)
and the second in November of this year (V1, #1 and 11,
respectively). The first dealt with homeopathy and, in
particular, one practitioner who diagnosed an actually
healthy producer as having a variety of illnesses. To "cure"
him, he was given homeopathic "remedies" which, when
analyzed, turned out to be 85% water and 15% ethanol. The
second exposed a doctor who claims to cure cancer in a
hospital in Mexico.  The only problem was that his hydrogen
peroxide "therapy" doesn't seem to be doing quite as well as
he'd like us to think. Dateline showed that this "doctor" is
actually a "graduate chiropractor" with a supposed doctorate
in naturopathy (but the college he supposedly went to said
they had no such courses when he claims to have gotten the
degree). The interview with this "doctor" was priceless.

*  Worst Idea Award

   As we reported in V1, #5, an amateur alchemist decided
he could make gold by baking mercury in a potato. One is
forced to wonder if he had inhaled a bit of mercury _before_
deciding that this was a good idea.

*  Oddest Piece of Advice Award

   Ann Landers received and printed a number of "cures" for
warts (V1, #6). None of them were exactly what I would call
"medically sound," but the one that wins this award is: "rub
20 pennies on the warts and then give the coins to a
beggar." Also, it's not very politically correct.

*  Best Local Story Award

   The _Illinois Times_ wins this award for their November
24th cover story on the evolution/creation controversy in
Illinois public schools (V1, #11). This in-depth article
discussed the laws, the facts, and the opinions, and put
each in their proper perspective to end up with a great

*  We Told You So Award

   This award goes to almost the entire media, and is given
with respect to false memory syndrome (FMS) and facilitated
communications (V1, #7, 8, 10, 11, and V2, #1). Skeptics (in
particular, the _Skeptical Inquirer_) picked up on these
stories well in advance of the majority of the news media.
Unfortunately, it took a number of high-profile cases to
draw the attention of the general media. Those cases include
the Lil Rascals day care trials in North Carolina and the
accusations of abuse against Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago.
Now there are even cases of former patients suing their
therapists for allegedly implanting memories that turned out
to be false. Objective scientific testing has begun, and has
shown that it certainly is possible to intentionally or
accidentally implant false memories. The problem is in
knowing how often this happens, and in applying it to
specific cases.


                      REALL Survey Results

   Following are the results of the survey which was
included as part of the November and again in the December
issue of _The REALL News_. We only received 14 responses,
most of which were gathered at meetings rather than sent in
through the mail.

1.  Membership type:  6 regular, 2 subscription, 5 patron, 1

2.  Suggested goals for REALL in 1994:  These were broken
down into two categories, subjects to cover and activities
to undertake.

   Some of the activities included establishing a local
panel of experts, establishing an awards program, increasing
membership, establishing a way in which we can let the
public know more about us (such as through a
membership/publicity coordinator), doing some actual
debunking, and trying to affect the world and undertaking
education, etc. Of these, we have already started, such as
trying to increase membership through mail-outs and the
like, trying to help educate and affect the world through
our booth at the Illinois Science Teachers Association
meeting, etc.
   Subjects to cover included: psychic detectives, local
psychics (the only subject to get more than one vote),
cryptozoology, philosophy of life, natural science, fakery,
satanism, creation/evolution, false memory syndrome, and
ESP. Once again, we have already hit some of these topics,
and it's good to know that our members want even more!

3.  Attendance at REALL's monthly meetings: 2 always (yes,
that included me), 5 sometimes, and 7 seldom or never.

4.  If don't always attend, why: 4 due to the location being
inconvenient, 3 due to Monday nights being inconvenient, 4
"other" including working all evenings and just being too
lazy (yes, one person did write that).

5.  How you would make meetings better: The only suggestions
we received here were to have occasional informal and/or
dinner meetings, and to have some meetings in Champaign-
Urbana. Well, last month's meeting was an informal lunch
meeting, which is pretty close, and we are currently working
on getting at least one, if not two, meetings or
presentations in the Champaign area in the near future.

6.  Topics or speakers you would like to see: We got four
suggestions here. A representative from the media, a
government representative dealing with scams, something on
alternative medicine, and more of the same were all
suggested. All of these are great ideas, and we have already
been working on getting some of these people to upcoming

7.  Favorite night of the week for a REALL meeting: 4 for
Monday, 3 for Tuesday (one for anything BUT Tuesday), 0 for
Wednesday, 3 for Thursday, 1 for Friday, 2 for Saturday, and
3 for Sunday. (Note: Some people voted for more than one
day.) So, it looks like we'll be staying with Monday for a

8.  How much of The REALL News you read: 13 read it in its
entirety, 1 reads some of it, with an arrow pointing towards
"in its entirety."

   The second part of question 8 asked about your favorite
articles. Those results, in order of vote count and then
alphabetical, are:

Everything                         4
Martin Kottmeyer's Articles        3
"REALLity Check"                   2
Sun Pictures exposť-related        2
"Vampires--Myth and Reality"       2
"The Misconceptions of Evolution"  2
"Proper Criticism"                 1
Psychic Detective related          1
Anything by Det. Walstad           1
"Who Is Susan Blackmore?"          1

   The third part of question 8 asked what topics you'd like
to see. They are in the same order as described above:

Anything                           3
Scientific Parapsychology          2
Alternative Medicine               1
Creation/Evolution                 1
Dream Theories                     1
ESP                                1
False Memory Syndrome              1
Glossary of Terms                  1
Graphology                         1
Nature & Philosophy                1
Nutrition deficiency/pseudo-sci.   1
Marxist & Post-Modernist Feminist
   Critiques of Science and an
   Evaluation of Their Validity    1
Psychohistorical Studies           1

   Some of these we have hit in the past and we will
continue to cover. We'll need some new authors to cover
others, so if you've got something to write, send it on in!

9.  Would you be willing to work on a committee: 5 yes, 4
no, 2 maybe.

   The only suggestions for such a committee were for
recruiting new members (2 suggestions).

10.  Other comments:

Don't put the survey form on the back of the directions to
the meeting. [We've already acted on this one, and including
it as a separate pull-out sheet in the December issue.]

Keep it up! Good work! [Thanks!!]

   Remember, just because we've printed the survey results
doesn't mean we no longer want your input! To the contrary,
please write and tell us what you think. If you haven't
filled out your survey yet, go ahead and send it in. We can
use all the good ideas we can get!

   Finally, I'd like to thank all of you who sent in your
responses. REALL is an organization for its members, and
your input lets us know how we're doing!


		      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.		Bob Ladendorf
David Bloomberg			John Lockard
David Brown			Robert Smet, Ph.D.
Wally Hartshorn


		 Predictions for Future Issues

** Creationist Debate
** Looking into the _Sun_ -- and other tabloids
** Psychic Detective Survey
** The Baby Train


			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, scientific, UFO, evolution/creation, and urban legend
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)
		___      Family Membership ($30/Year)
		___      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



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