IIG Public Update #10
The word of the month is "holding-pattern." Okay, we had to add a hyphen to make it a single word, but the point is that our influx of would-be-applicants has started to cool for the first time since it heated up last year when Randi announced the change to his rules. Basically, he would no longer allow people to apply directly to him, so they started to apply to us. After a year of increased activity, things slowed to a crawl in April.
Here's the latest:
DAUGHTER WHO CAN SEE IN THE DARK
Tomas C. of Arizona has not responded to our last e-mail, and we are closing the case. We hope Tomas and his daughter are doing well.
Nick Nelson has stopped responding to our e-mails.
VISION FROM FEELING
Anita Ikonen was going to have her ability to diagnose medical problems tested, however, we are tangled in negotiations over what kind of medical problems she can diagnose.
In her latest e-mail, she offers to diagnose, "ailments involving accidents or other injury or surgery that has left marks on the body and lasting feelings of discomfort . . . broken bone[s] that did not heal . . . [m]uscle that is missing[, i]njuries to nerves that comes with various forms of discomfort . . . I should be able to detect and describe ailments such as these as well as their location in the body, if they are accompanied with discomfort."
We have a phone interview scheduled for May 17, and the results of that conversation will be reported here.
CANADIAN LOTTERY MASTER
Mark Z., the eponymous North-of-the-Border Number-Knower has received a statistical analysis from our own resident number-cruncher Stu Lengel.
That letter went out on April 8th, and we have not received a reply from Mark.
LONG ISLAND HEALER
Bob T. was to report to CFI-Los Angeles on May 3rd for a preliminary demonstration of his alleged healing abilities, but this has been delayed. Stay tuned.
DON'T TEASE ME, BROUGH (PART 2)
Brough Perkins contacted us last year about his alleged psychic abilities, and discussions of testing him broke down pretty quickly. Recently we received a letter from Brough in which he claims:
"I think you grossly misrepresented our correspondence with this article . . . [T]here are brilliant scientists testing psychics to date in laboratories . . . If you were so interested in finding the truth about the paranormal you'd take your fifty grand and make a proper scientific test."
We offered Brough the opportunity to help us design such a test and be the subject. Here’s what he said last September:
. . . [W]aving money in the face of psychic mediums and describing laboratory testing by using circus terminology like "challenge" and "million dollar prize", is just ridiculous.
In fact just re-reading what I've written now, I am wondering again why I've even bothered to write your organization.
Here is a link to the complete correspondence between IIG rep Spencer Marks and Brough. You can judge for yourself if we "misrepresented" him.
DEREK AND THE UFOs
The only testable claim from UFO proponent Michael Horn is his seemingly paranormal ability to keep sending IIG member Derek Bartholomaus rambling e-mails. For the benefit of whatever masochists out there who are reading these diatribes, the Michael Horn page has been updated.
This investigation is on the back-burner until we actually receive the Kinoki Pads we ordered. Stay tuned.
On Sunday, May 18th, at 11 AM, IIG's own David Richards will be presenting the Feed Your Brain lecture at the Center for Inquiry Los Angeles. Here's a synopsis:
How did the horror genre in movies arise and become so popular? Plotting its emergence first in literature, and later in movies, David Richards traces the development of cinema as a successful outlet for horror material, discusses the transition from rational to supernatural antagonists, and evaluates the impact of horror and the supernatural on society.
After Richards presents an overview with movie clips, a panel discussion with special guests having expertise in the genre will follow.
David Richards, who works for a manufacturer of equipment for the film exhibition industry, is a member of the Independent Investigations Group of the Center and the coordinator of CFI’s Orange County Community.
What’s that? A reputable organization like the IIG supporting a movie that tacitly promotes smoking the devil weed? Well not quite. Comedian Doug Benson decided to make a movie in which he tests the effects of marijuana on himself, and one of the parameters he tests is psychic ability.
The movie Super High Me features Benson taking the Zener card test by Jim Underdown at the IIG’s home at CFI-LA. Without giving too much away, we can go ahead and tell you that, based on the results, marijuana does not give you psychic abilities, nor does it take them away. Whew.
SCIENCE AT "THE STEVE"
On April 16th, the IIG attended the premiere of the Steve Allen Theatre’s The Secret World Of Human Science, the latest offering from multi-media artist "ZZalgern0n." Billed as "3-2-1 Contact, but for adults," Science was a rapid overview of basic biology, with a mid-show snack provided by performance artist Charles Phoenix.
The scientific relevance of this culinary kookiness is in question, but Phoenix combined Cocoa Puffs, brownies, chocolate donuts, Oreos, chocolate frosting, whipped cream, cherry pie fillings, and flaming lemon-juice covered pink marshmallows to create "Chocolate traffic jam flambé." Who says skeptics are stuffy?
Missed out? The second half is coming up, on May 21st. Click here for tickets.
9/11 on 4/17?
It’s rare that we get crank letters so antagonistic that we call the FBI, but that’s what happened when a not-to-be-named individual e-mailed us a rambling conspiracy theory with the promise that "9/11" was going to happen to us on April 17, 2008. While we try not to think about this disturbed individual, we did have a mini-celebration on April 18th.
WEST HOLLYWOOD HAUNTED HOUSE
On April 23rd, the IIG investigated a supposedly haunted house in West Hollywood. According to Jim Underdown, "we explained every claim." A complete report is coming.
Score one for science! According to this website maintained by the court, www.airbornehealthsettlement.com, "A Settlement has been proposed in a class action lawsuit that alleges that Airborne Health, Inc. (and other defendants) ("Airborne") falsely advertised certain therapeutic properties, including the ability to cure or prevent the common cold . . ." If you got burned by Airborne, you can collect a whopping "$10.50 per box of Airborne Seasonal, $2.75 per box for Airborne Gummi and $6.99 per box for the remaining Airborne Products."
However, it seems unlikely that anyone who reads our website bought Airborne, so if you’re thinking of cashing in, remember, "Knowingly filing a false claim is fraud . . . The claims administrator has in place procedures to find false claims, and will take action if false claims are spotted."
A LOH POINT
You may think that high-brow NPR is an oasis of rational thought, but that wasn’t the case on April 14th when our local heroine Sandra Tsing Loh of "The Loh-Down on Science" had an episode of her show sponsored by "Expelled", Ben Stein’s execrable creationist movie. "Expelled" a sponsor of a science show? Needless to say, IIG watchdog Derek Bartholomaus wrote a strong letter. Here’s Program Director Craig Curtis’s response:
The producers of "Expelled" bought underwriting from National Public Radio, and an announcement may have shown up on our air in close proximity to the Loh-Down on Science. That was simply an accident of placement. The two are unrelated.
He later added:
It does raise the possibility of unintended adjacency, though. On rare occasion on the air -- this happens maybe a couple times a year -- we may move a credit or story apart so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Online that process is completely automated, and I can easily imagine circumstances where the proximity of a specific credit with a specific piece of content could raise questions in the listener's mind, as was the case here with you. Thanks for writing back and explaining. This has been a helpful exchange.
While "Expelled" bombs, this ability of the bad guys to purchase premium ad space reminds of the uphill battle we fight when the adversary is much better funded.
INTERNATIONAL REWARDS CENTRE
. . . and last but not least!
THE IIG AWARDS - JUNE 23RD
That’s right, the second annual IIG awards will be at the Steve Allen Theater on Monday, June 23rd. We have already confirmed that the godfather of skepticism, JAMES RANDI will be in attendance. Look for more details in our next monthly update.
Enjoy Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the final 2008 presidential primaries in the continental United States.