Welcome to the first, ``rapid prototype,'' issue of the Journal of the Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York (ISUNY for short). In these pages we will keep you informed of club events and provide a forum for discussion, education and entertainment. As the premiere issue, the copy you now hold may or may not reflect the final form of the newsletter. Many simple decisions remains such as selecting a name, and deciding how often the newsletter should be published. Should this, for example, be a monthly newsletter briefly describing upcoming events with short items of interest? Or, should it be a bi-monthly (or quarterly) journal offering longer and more substantial articles? My own preference is for a bi-monthly publication, because of the time involved in preparing even a simple publication such as you now hold.
Regarding a title, I am actively soliciting suggestions by announcing a name the newsletter contest. We need something more clever, less pedantic, and easier to say then The Journal of .... Other skeptic groups have newsletters called: The Skeptic (both the National Committee of Australian Skeptics, Inc. and the North Texas Skeptics), Rational Enquirer (British Columbia Skeptics), BASIS (Bay Area Skeptic Information Sheet), Rocky Mountain Skeptic, and many others. Since skeptic newsletters are re-distributed as part of CSICOP's newsletter exchange, the person who contributes the choosen title will endure lasting fame amoung a small, but interesting, group of people.
It almost goes without saying, that to make a newsletter work we need volunteers. We need volunteers to help proofread and typeset the newsletter, and, most importantly, we need volunteers to write articles and edit columns. Please see any member of the steering committee with your suggestions, or sent your article to the editor via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by US mail to: Mike Sofka, 8 Providence Street, Albany, NY 12203. I look forward to future contributions from our members.
Amoung the properties attributed to this crop circle were: radiation levels higher then background, deformities in the wheat, and unusual, ``impossible'' to fake braiding patterns. I've seen these claims made about other crop phenomena, and remain skeptical because the details about the radiation, deformities and why the braiding pattern is so imposibile to fake were not forthcoming.
What was intersting about this particular crop ``circle'' is that three disks were found buried within the design. Each was about one foot in diameter, and included an image of the complete ``circle''. One disk was brass, the other silver and the third (you guessed it) gold. Personally, I would like to know more. My own suspicion is that it is a hoax. The very poor quality of the three disks (which looked like sand castings) adds to this assesment. But, what a hoax! Peter, you got any more information?
If you have questions for ``The Skeptic'' he can be reached by calling (518) 393-3478.
If you have questions about UFOs, have articles of interest, or suggestions for a column topic please see Alan. He can be reached via email at: email@example.com, or by calling (518) 374-8460.
If you like stories of Atlantis and Mu, if you thrill at tales of Nordic explorers building the Ohio mounds, if a field trip to see the Cardiff Giant (located in nearby Cooperstown, NY) is all the vacation you need, then Fantastic Archaeology is the book for you. It is a field guide to the fantastic, with references and sources for many more hours (years) of future digging.
Stephen Williams is a professor of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. His reason for writing the book is that he considers it an error to ignore or dismiss fantastic claims because the field of archaeology is filled with them. Instead, he takes the approach of teaching students about the claims, and why they are not taken seriously by scientists. On the subject of forgeries Williams is even more adamant since forgeries do occur in archaeology, and the trained archaeologist must know how to detect and avoid them.
I was surprised by the number of New York authors, and artifacts mentioned in the book. The Cardiff Giant was already mentioned. Another example is Josiah Priest (1788--1851), an native of the Albany region, whose book American Antiquities, and Discoveries in the West (1833) is cited as the best reference of the past 150 years of fantastic archeology. Perhaps a visit to the state museum is in order?
Our December meeting will be in the Guilderland Public Library on Wednesday December 7th. A speaker has not yet been scheduled.
Other sources of skeptical information are The Skeptical Inquirer published by the Committe for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and Skeptic published by The Skeptics Society. Both journals are available on newstands. Note that while ISUNY shares some of the goals and mission of CSICOP, we are not in any way officially affiliated with them.
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