The REALL News


The official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association
		      of Lincoln Land

Volume 2, Number 4                                    April 1994

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
Police Use of Psychics, Results of a 1993 Questionnaire
	-- Det. Bruce Walstad
REALLity Check -- David Bloomberg
Book Capsules -- 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.  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

   When I was little, I had a toy submarine that shot
little torpedoes in my bathtub. I enjoyed watching the
torpedoes zing through the water at my toy boat and making
the sub dive and surface in that small Pacific Ocean. Little
did I realize then that the already mythical Loch Ness
"monster" was probably a similar type toy submarine_a hoax
admitted to by Christian Spurling on his deathbed.
   As the REALL chairman points out in his "REALLity Check"
this issue, such deathbed confessions do not constitute
proof. He is right, of course, and the mystery of the
mythical Loch Ness "monster" is not necessarily ended. On
the other hand, why would someone about to die be thinking
about the Loch Ness "monster" and want to confess that it
was a hoax unless he, as a witness to the photographing of
the "monster," wanted to set the record straight? Sure, he
might be a practical joker.Or maybe he was senile. Or a
   Nevertheless, the burden of proof for the claim for
Nessie is on the proponents, not the skeptics, as it should
be. Such controversial hoax claims also illustrate the
problem of anecdotal, oral history. Without corroboration,
all oral history is suspect. In the face of all that, we
should at least acknowledge that Spurling's claim is
possible, particularly in light of recent scientific studies
indicating that a "Nessie" could not be supported in Loch
Ness by the available food supply. Back to you, David!
   Speaking of the necessity of "proof," don't miss Det.
Walstad's new survey about the police use of psychics. The
results indicate more usage than reflected in Sweat and
Durm's study published in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ (Winter
1993). This result may be surprising to some, but not to
others. I expect we will continue to hear an ongoing debate
about the extent of usage of psychics by police departments
in this country.

					/s/ Bob Ladendorf


			 From the Chairman
			-- David Bloomberg

   Before I mention anything else, I want to direct your
attention to the flyer you got with this newsletter. [Obviously
not included in this, the electronic version.] REALL's
longtime friend and supporter Ranse Traxler will be speaking
on Creationist Activities in Illinois Public Schools on
April 18th. This presentation is a review of the great
investigative work Ranse has done over the past several
years, including specific names and districts, and you
really don't want to miss it! This is our first Champaign-
Urbana event, so I hope we can get some interest from
students and faculty at the University of Illinois. If
you're one of our members who live in that area, be sure to
tell your friends!
   If you're a Springfield-area member and would like to
see about carpooling, feel free to call me (my number is on
the page opposite this one, just below the Editor's column)
and we'll see what we can arrange. But don't wait until the
last minute!
   It looks like the timing of Ranse's presentation is
great for a number of reasons. The Institute for Creation
Research (ICR) seems to have targeted Illinois this month.
They sent people to a Chicago-area church March 25-26, and
are doing so again on April 7-9 (for a "Good Science"
Workshop, Student Discovery Days, and a High-School
Workshop); they are also sending the heavy hitters of Gish
and John Morris to Morton, Illinois on April 8-9 (a "Case
for Creation" seminar); and Gish is stopping at SIU-
Edwardsville to preach about creationism and "debate"
anybody who chooses to come forward on the 7th. I tried to
get some people together to go to the Morton "workshop," but
I couldn't find anybody with the time or inclination.
   This could have something to do with a totally different
presentation occurring on the same day. James "The Amazing"
Randi will be/was (depending on when you read this) at
Meramec Community College outside of St. Louis on the 8th.
Since this conflicts with the Morton ICR "workshop," you can
probably guess which one most people I talked to would
prefer. I have tried to call everybody in REALL for whom I
have a phone number, in case you don't get this issue in
   While this is a big month for presentations, May is a
big month for other reasons. It's time for our second annual
elections meeting. But, I've learned my lesson from last
year.  This time, we will be having a video presentation in
addition to the elections. I'm not sure just which video
we'll be seeing yet, but our choices range from false
memories and/or facilitated communications to James Randi on
NOVA to a horrid anti-evolution video. If you have any
preferences, let me know! And, more importantly, if you're
interested in becoming an officer of REALL, please make sure
to let me know and come to the May meeting!

					/s/ David Bloomberg

{Special Report}

   		     Police Use of Psychics
   	        Results of a 1993 Questionnaire
   		     by Det. Bruce Walstad

   In recent years, I have seen a remarkable number of
media stories concerning the police use of psychics.
Tabloids regularly have articles about psychic crime
busters, who are solving crimes and locating missing
persons. Television shows such as _Unsolved Mysteries_,
_Sightings_ and other programs have featured segments on
psychic detectives and their amazing and fantastic claims of
paranormal abilities. The proof offered, if any, is usually
vague and/or faulty.
   Local and network television news stations often
broadcast stories about how the police have called in a
psychic to assist with a particular newsworthy
investigation. Yet, at a later date, they don't broadcast
the psychics' failures.
   I suspect that the average person and some police
officers who are exposed to these types of stories might get
the impression that psychics do regularly assist the police
in investigations, with positive results.
   Let's assume for the moment, that psychics can really
name and locate suspects, find missing persons and predict
crimes and accidents before they occur. If this were true,
every police department in the country could lay off at
least half of their officers, and replace them with a single
psychic. I don't know of this happening anywhere.
   For more than eight years, I have researched this topic
vigorously, actively seeking every bit of information
available. I have collected volumes of news clippings, many
hours of videotape, books, case histories and research
statistics, and I have yet to find any hard evidence that
any psychic has ever helped the police solve a crime.
   On occasion, I have met  with and debated psychics and
psychic detectives, listening to the outrageous tales they
tell about their psychic crime-busting abilities. When I
question them, or show doubt about the tales they tell, they
become quite defensive and, at times, angry with me. When I
have caught them stretching the truth, I am either ignored,
or they say, "That's not my understanding of it."
   To further my investigation in this field and to see for
myself exactly what police officers, do, think and believe
about the police use of psychics, I conducted a survey of
police officers throughout 1993.
   From Jan. 1, 1993, through December 31, 1993, I
questioned 270 police officers by means of a written
questionnaire. Of the 270 completed questionnaires, 7 were
spoiled or incomplete in such a manner that they were unable
to be used, thus leaving 263 completed ones.
   The questionnaires were given out at seminars I
conducted for law enforcement personnel on fraud. The
officers were asked to participate, and to be candid with
their responses. Their names or department names were not
asked. There were no biased opinions or remarks made before
the questionnaire was completed.
   Participating were police officers from 14 states:
Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Iowa, North
Dakota, Florida, New Mexico, South Carolina, Georgia,
Mississippi, Missouri and North Dakota. The majority of the
officers were from Illinois and Indiana. Department size
ranged from 2 to 12,000 to sworn personal. In many cases,
officers from the same police department participated.

   Here is a breakdown in the rank of the officers

          Chief  	3
Assistant Chief  	2
      Commander  	3
     Lieutenant  	8
Detective Sergeant  	5
       Sergeant 	33
       Corporal 	21
Detective/Investigator  51
  Special Agent  	4
 Patrol Officer		133

        Total  		263

   The overall responses of the questionnaire were as

1.  Your department size.
Responses:  Ranged from 2 to 12,000

2.  Your rank?
Responses: (See above.)

3.  Would you personally use a psychic in a police
Responses: Yes-94 (35.75%);  No-165 (62.75%);  Maybe-4

4.  Does your department currently use psychics in
Responses:  Yes-14 (5.5%);  No-183 (69.5%);  Unknown-55

5.  Has your department used psychics in past
Responses:  Yes-61 (23%);  No-106 (40.5%);  Unknown-96

6.  How many times has your department used a psychic? If
unsure, please estimate.
Responses:  One Time-30;  Two Times-18;  Three Times-8;
Four Times-3; Five Times-4.

7.  What types of cases were the psychics involved in?
       Homicide	45 (52%)
 Missing Person	35 (40.5%)
     Kidnapping	2 (2.5%)
          Other	4 (5%)**

8.  How did the psychic get involved in the case?
Called in by officer     31 (41%)
Called in by Family 	 15 (20%)
Volunteered self	 26 (34%)
        Unknown	 	  4 (5%)***

9.  Was any of the information given by the psychic useful
in solving the investigation?
Responses:  Yes-9 (13.5%);****  No-33 (50%);  Maybe-24

10.  Would the case been solved without the assistance of
the psychic?
Responses:  Yes-33 (51%);  No-0 (0%); Unknown-32 (49%).

* The choice "Maybe" was not included on the
questionnaire, but was written in by four officers.

** Of the four questionnaires marked "Other,"  two were
marked as arson, and the remaining two had no written

*** The choice "Unknown" was not included on the
questionnaire, but was written in by four officers.

**** Of the nine questionnaires marked "Yes," four did not
give any written explanations.  The remaining five were
explained as follows:

+ "Location of body".
+ "Area where crime was committed".
+ "The Victims social behavior, I believe his girlfriend
+ "Remembering license number and vehicle color".
+ "Identified area where the patient was located".

Results of questionnaire by rank:
(Questions 3-4-5-6)

Chiefs (3)
3. Yes-0; No-3.
4. Yes-0; No-3; Unknown-0.
5. Yes-0; No-3; Unknown-3.
6. No responses

Assistant Chiefs (2)
3. Yes-0; No-2.
4. Yes-0; No-2; Unknown-0.
5. Yes-0; No-2; Unknown-0.
6. No responses

Commanders (3)
3. Yes-1; No-1; Maybe-1.
4. Yes-1; No-1; Unknown-1.
5. Yes-2; No-0; Unknown-1.
6. 1 Time-2.

Lieutenants (8)
3. Yes-3; No-5.
4. Yes-1; No-4; Unknown-3.
5. Yes-4; No-1; Unknown-3.
6. 1 Time-2; 2 Times-2; 3 Times-2.

Detective Sergeant (5)
3. Yes-2; No-3.
4. Yes-1; No-4; Unknown-0.
5. Yes-3 ;No-2; Unknown-0.
6. 1 Time-1.

Sergeants (33)
3. Yes-15; No-18.
4. Yes-1; No-27; Unknown-5.
5. Yes-10; No-17; Unknown-6.
6. 1 Time-3; 2 Times-4; 3 Times-1; 4 Times-1; 5 Times-1.

Corporals (21)

3. Yes-9; No-12.
4. Yes-0; No-16; Unknown-5.
5. Yes-0; No-4; Unknown-17.
6. No responses.

Detective/Investigator (51)
3. Yes-13; No-38.
4. Yes-3; No-39; Unknown-9.
5. Yes-21; No-16; Unknown-14.
6. 1 Time-11; 2 Times-4; 3 Times-1; 4 Times-2; 5 Times-2.

Special Agent s(4)
3. Yes-1; No-3.
4. Yes-0; No-3; Unknown-1.
5. Yes-1; No-2; Unknown-1.
6. 1 Time-2.

Patrol Officers (133)
3. Yes-50; No-80; Maybe-3.
4. Yes-7; No-84; Unknown-42.
5. Yes-29; No-59; Unknown-54.
6. 1 Time-7; 2 Times-8; 3 Times-4; 4 Times-0; 5 Times-1.

Results of questionnaire by department size:
(Questions 3-4-5)

2 to 25 Officers (51)

3. Yes-20;  No-30;  Maybe-l.
4. Yes-2;  No-44;  Unknown-5.
5. Yes-3;  No-36;  Unknown-12.

26 to 100 Officers (90)

3. Yes-39;  No-50;  Maybe-l.
4. Yes-6;  No-68;  Unknown-16.
5. Yes-23;  No-42;  Unknown-25.

101 to 500 Officers (108)

3. Yes-34;  No-72;  Maybe-2.
4. Yes-4;  No-62;  Unknown-42.
5. Yes-29;  No-26;  Unknown-53.

501 to 12,000 Officers (14)

3.  Yes-l;  No-13.
4.  Yes-2;  No-9;  Unknown-3.
5.  Yes-6;  No-2;  Unknown-6.


   Overall, the results were mixed. I found it a bit
surprising that about 35 percent of those officers surveyed
responded that they would use a psychic in a police
investigation. I had expected (and hoped) the percentage to
be lower. It was interesting to see that only about 5.5
percent of the officers knew that their department was
currently using psychics. This percentage is most likely
inaccurate as 25 percent of the officers did not know if
their department was using psychics or not. This percentage
could also be affected by officers from the same department
participating in this survey.
   The types of investigations where psychics had been used
was pretty predictable: homicide and missing person cases
added up to about 92 percent. One area I found particularly
troubling was the high response (41 percent) of police
officers who called in the psychic to assist in the
investigation. Prior to this survey, I had felt that the
psychics volunteering themselves would be number one,
followed by the family calling in the psychic.
   The 13.5 percent response that the psychic had given the
police useful information was equally troubling. This figure
is most likely inaccurate as 36.5 percent responded that
they did not know if the information given was useful or
not. Of the five written in responses regarding what
specific information was given, three of the responses dealt
with locations. Without further explanation, these responses
are too vague to make any type of accurate conclusion. The
two remaining responses were confusing. The one response
that said the psychic helped remember a license number and
vehicle color does not make sense. I suspect the officer
confused a hypnotist with a psychic. The remaining response
dealing with the social behavior or the victim and his
girlfriend was a mystery.
   I am not quite sure what the officer was talking about,
or do I understand how that type of information could be
   Among command personal (commanders and above), the
responses were quite skeptical, with only 1 in 8 responding
they would use a psychic. Running second as skeptical were
detectives/investigators with about 25 percent responding
they would use a psychic.
   Department size seemed to show little difference in
across the board responses. Past surveys and studies have
shown that smaller departments are more apt to use psychics
than larger ones.
   A few problems do exist regarding the accuracy of this
survey. In certain areas, such as rank and department size,
I felt there were not enough participants to give an
accurate conclusion. The number of patrol officers
participating also influenced the results of this survey. As
is often the case, patrol officers are not privy to
follow-up investigation procedures. One should also consider
that many patrol officers surveyed may have only been with
the department a short period of time, thus having no idea
of their department's history in using psychics.
   Lastly, question 10, asked: "Would the case have been
solved without the assistance of the psychic?" No one
answered, no!

[Det. Bruce Walstad is President of Professionals Against Confidence
Crime (PACC) and is a frequent REALL News contributor.  This 
article is appearing in a current issue of the _PACC Bulletin_.]


                         REALLity Check
                       by David Bloomberg

   Well, contrary to last month, this month was rather
slow. But that's just fine with me--it gave me time to

                       Nessie the Sub

   As I'm sure most of you have heard by now (especially
since our Editor scooped me and put it into his column last
month--he has a later "due date" than I do), two British
Nessie "investigators" are claiming that they were told that
the famous 1934 photo of the Loch Ness Monster is a hoax
(_Chicago Tribune_, 3/14; _State Journal-Register_, 3/16).
According to a report published in the British weekly
newspaper, _The Sunday Telegraph_, these two were told about
the hoax by the last living "conspirator" just before he
died back in November. Christian Spurling supposedly told
them that he made the "monster" out of a toy submarine and
some cement.
   I say "supposedly" because I do not want to jump to the
conclusion (as our esteemed Editor may have done) that
everything we are now hearing is true. For one thing, I am
loathe to believe "deathbed confessions" without other
substantiating evidence--especially when those reporting
them have waited at least four months before mentioning it!
There are several other reasons for my, ahem, skepticism,
and I have asked REALL's Nessie expert, Robert McGrath, to
see what he can find out. Hopefully, we will have a further
report on this next month.
   There has definitely been a hoax, but the question
remains of just which claim is part of it.

                    Memories and the Law

   The _State Journal-Register_ had two articles recently
dealing with false memories.  The first (3/21) discussed
much of the information that readers of this column already
know. One thing the article specifically points out is that
the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric
Association have both cautioned against use of a number of
techniques which may cause false memories.
   In a direct response to these problems, state lawmakers
are now considering the restoration of a "cap" on the length
of time a person can wait before filing abuse charges
(3/26). They removed this cap only last year but have now
seen what can happen in cases like that of Cardinal
Bernardin, and they are raising questions about the quality
of such evidence. Some supporters of last year's bill are
quoted as saying they only heard half of the story then, and
must review all of it now. Somewhat predictably, Rep.
Virginia Frederick, a co-sponsor of the bill last year, has
"angrily blamed" the right wing for the repeal effort,
saying that "they know nothing about" these cases. To the
contrary, it sounds like they knew nothing about "repressed
memories" _last_ year, and are now finding out that they do
not stand up to scientific scrutiny in many cases.

                     What's That Smell?

   As usual, the _Chicago Tribune_ printed an article on
"alternative medicine" (3/29). This time, it was
aromatherapy. The article, which was rather long, skipped
around between strange medical claims, the use of scents to
improve work production, supposed skepticism by users of the
therapy, and finally a little bit of good information.
   The supposed skepticism came in when several proponents
of aromatherapy were interviewed. Each claimed skepticism
about uses for the "therapy" _other_ than those they
favored. Funny how that works. One even said that people
shouldn't try this at home but should use "trained"
aromatherapists only. Well, the first part is right, anyway.
   The final three paragraphs finally get to the heart of
the matter, though. One of the researchers studying the mood-
altering effects of smells was quoted as saying, "We don't
have any proof of medical gains from aromatherapy." He adds
that, "in general, using fragrance to treat an illness can't
do harm, but if the hope that aromatherapy will cure them
prevents them from getting medical treatment that we know
works, then it is harmful."
   This is exactly what skeptics have been saying for years
about any number of "alternative" treatments.

			  Book Capsules

_Flim-Flam_, James "The Amazing" Randi, Prometheus Books, New
York, 1982, 342 pages.  Randi investigates many facets of
paranormal beliefs, from dowsers to the Bermuda triangle.
In each example, he details either how simple research can
provide facts that contradict alleged paranormal activity,
or how he and others designed and executed tests for those
who claimed such power.  Randi pulls no punches in his
discussions, and simply tells it like it is.  A good book
for those just getting interested in skepticism.  -- David Bloomberg

_The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal_,
Kendrick Frazier, Ed., Prometheus Books, New York, 1991, 400
pages.  The latest of the collections of some of the best
Skeptical Inquirer articles, this volume contains
discussions on various aspects of the paranormal.
Astrology, crashed-saucer claims, medical controversies,
fringe science, critical thinking, and other areas are all
covered, often by several different articles.  As this
volume covers so many different areas, I have found it a
useful resource in varied discussions about the paranormal.
-- David Bloomberg


		      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:

David Bloomberg, Springfield	John Lockard, Jr., Urbana
David Brown, Danville 		Robert Smet, Ph.D., Springfield
Alan Burge, D.D.S., Morton	Edward Staehlin, Park Forest
Wally Hartshorn, Springfield	Ranse Traxler, O'Fallon
Bob Ladendorf, Springfield


			Letters to the Editor

    We at REALL encourage letters to the editor about any article
or topic covered in The REALL News.  We want to make this a forum
for _all_ our members.  (Letters may be edited if too long.  Name,
address and phone number must be included with the letter.)


		 Predictions for Future Issues

** Susan Blackmore book review
** Looking into the _Sun_ -- and other tabloids
** Artificial Alien Insemination
** 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
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Last modified Sun Jul 07 02:05:38 1996. Email comments to whartsho@mail.fgi.net