Journal of

The Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York



Volume 1, Issue 2

From Believer to Skeptic

Before I started writing for ISUNY, I thought quite a bit about a suitable title for this column. As you may have noticed, I did not come up with one. I have promised myself a title for the fourth edition, and your suggestions would be most welcome. If you have one, send e-mail to 72724.2270@compuserve.com, or give me a call at 374-8460. Your comments, thoughts, and questions are also welcome.

UFOs have interested me at least since Junior High (1960-63), and probably longer. I can still picture the row of shelves where the UFO books were at the old Bethlehem Public Library. My father made sure we were frequent visitors there, and I always looked for something new or unread on UFOs. There was one book, though, that I could never persuade myself to take home. Indeed, I was always afraid someone would catch me looking at it. It was by George Adamski, and told how he had contact with Venusians, Martians, and Saturnians, and had frequently visited their ``mother ship.'' I believed there were nuggets of truth in the other books, but this was obviously fiction. (For many years the UFO community felt the same way, but I understand George Adamski is now taken seriously by some.)

Over the years, I continued reading about UFOs, but I became more and more skeptical of the claims I read. The books continued to boast that they offered proof that ``flying saucers'' were real, but somehow the proof kept eluding me. The criteria of evidence accepted by the authors was much less than I needed. For a while I continued reading a few books, but eventually I lost interest.

A subscription to Skeptical Inquirer reawakened my interest. It covered UFOs from a perspective I was more comfortable with, and lead me to read some of the skeptical books that are now available. I took a new interest in the field, and also began paying attention to media coverage of UFOs.

Then Mike Sofka sent me an intriguing flyer announcing the ``First Annual UFO Symposium at RPI.'' From the program, it was obvious this was a rather one sided affair, featuring prominent speakers who believed in UFOs, but I thought it would be interesting the hear their view of the subject in person. Mike and Carla invited Sue and I to join them on a trip to hear Stanton Friedman's talk ``Flying Saucers are for Real,'' on April 9, 1994.

I really looked forward to his talk. Stanton Friedman is one of the more prominent and vocal proponents of UFOs as alien visitors. I was really interested in hearing how and why he came to this conclusion, and fully expected to hear something new and thought provoking.

Early in his talk, Stanton Friedman criticized skeptics. He said that, since they did not have any facts, they frequently resorted to name calling. He then laced his entire talk with name calling. He continually referred to Skeptics, which included the four of us, as noisy negativists, noisy nay sayers, or debunkers. It was quite unpleasant, and it certainly made me feel rather unwelcome. During the course of his talk, he insulted or made fun of scientists, engineers, astronomers, Carl Sagan, and SETI. It was quite disappointing.

Stanton Friedman has reached four conclusions about the UFO phenomena. He finds the evidence that our country is being visited by aliens and their spacecraft overwhelming. He claims the government knows this and has known since July 1947, and is responsible for a massive cover-up---a ``Cosmic Watergate.'' It is, according to Stanton, the biggest story of the millennium. Finally, the arguments against his views put forth by skeptics are false.

Near the start of the talk, he presented some tables breaking down the many UFO sightings in a variety of ways. Some sightings, of course, were eventually identified. Others were not, and these were either listed as ``insufficient information'' or ``unknown.'' The difference was not made clear, and the two categories certainly did not make any sense to me. If you do not have sufficient evidence to identify a strange object in the sky, why would you call it unknown instead of putting it in the insufficient evidence category?

The data used to create the tables came from studies by the Air Force. One fact tends to be ignored in discussions of this data---the data includes hoaxes. Apparently, the Air Force once labeled a sighting as a hoax, and the person who made the report complained to his Congressman. Of course, the Air Force heard from the Congressman, and decided it would cause less grief to lump reports they felt were hoaxes in the unknown category.

In addition to the statistics, which he felt were compelling, Stanton Friedman cited several well-known cases to back up his claims. Included was the Barney and Betty Hill case, which was written up in ``Incident at Exeter,'' by John Fuller. I found his presentation of this case no more convincing than the book. Although Friedman claims skeptics do not have any facts, the counter arguments against the Hill case are quite convincing.

Stanton Friedman's talk was neither new nor thought provoking. He provided no real evidence to support his astonishing conclusions. The talk left me with the same feeling my early readings had---why do people believe the evidence shows we are being visited by alien spacecraft? To me, the evidence is sadly lacking, and belief requires a great deal of faith. Note: I am looking for recent non-skeptical books that discuss Jimmy Carter's UFO sighting. If you can help on this, please bring the book to the February ISUNY meeting. Thank you.

-Alan French

Ask The Skeptic.

Although the original notion of this column was to simply answer simple questions and to clear up confusion, instead the questions received so far have been very complex, specific, and, often technical. This has led to the decision to choose the questions to be answered carefully, and to answer them in a slow, ongoing fashion as information presents itself, rather than to spit out short choppy answers. Obviously, not all questions can be answered, but questions, comments, and suggestions are welcomed either in c/o this newsletter, at an ISUNY meeting, or else by mail or phone at my home.

Today's question comes from Daniel Forrest, our noble treasurer. He says, ``Hey, I heard about a city that mysteriously reappears every year off the coast of Japan. What's the scoop? Is this just some whackadoo idea or what?''

Well, since I don't live in Japan (and, strangely, have never been there unless airports count) I can't go to the beach and check. First of all, having done some reading on Japan over the years, I have never heard of that, although there are many things about that fascinating nation that I don't know. Therefore, for lack of a better place to begin l went to my books on mysterious phenomenon, as well as my magazine pile. I still found nothing, regarding this claim. I did, however, find a report of a mirage of a town in Ireland which is said to have appeared three times in 1796, 1797, and again in 1801 for about an hour at a stretch , as well as a lost city in Alaska, that made sporadic appearances in the nineteenth century. Michael Sofka mentioned the reappearing city of ``Shang ri la,'' which although I believed was only literary, he felt was an actual legend. He also named Brigadoon. . Therefore, we have a pattern of claims. My next step, and one I have not done yet, is to go to a folklore index and see what happens. I confess that I have not done this in the past, but if one reads the works of Joe Nickell's, one of CSICOP's (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) leading investigators, then he does this from time to time. Folklore, believe it or not, is considered to be a legitimate branch of anthropology and scientists (and good skeptics) believe that much can be learned from the study of folklore and folklore themes. Therefore, they occasionally assemble these themes into indexes. Hopefully, this will give us some insight into such legends and what they mean.

Another step is to send off some letters and do some research to determine if anyone familiar with Japan knows the story of the reappearing city.

In the meantime, it seems likely that as the city in Ireland has not received much attention over the years, it's appearances, if they did occur at all, did not attract much attention from the local population. As such a thing would be quite astonishing to me, I am forced to suggest that the event may be either grossly exaggerated, or either entirely fictional and invented at a later date or some sort of hoax perpetrated at the time. My sources were Fort's New Lands, which first came out in 1923, and the Reader's Digest Mysteries of the Unexplained. which repeated the story, cited Fort as its only source, but left out the 1797 appearance. Fort, I understand, collected strange reports from newspapers, but rarely, if ever, checked to verify their accuracy.

As for the city in Alaska, there is a very nice story in the Dec. 1992/Jan. 1993 issue of The Fortean Times which describes the nineteenth century events in detail and indicates that the reports were actually media hoaxes. In some cases, these hoaxes were backed up by faked photographs. It should be noted that many strange nineteenth century reports were, in fact, media hoaxes, as at the time, journalistic standards were often different and it was seen as appropriate in many places to insert what we today would consider ``tabloid'' stories into the normal papers. (Not to mention that some publishers had, and still do have, hidden agendas as one can see from studying either the events surrounding the destruction of the battleship Maine in 1898 or the current network reporting on gun control or several other overly sensationalized events in which stories are often outrageously biased or sensationalized.)

So, ultimately, we are left with a few reports of vanishing cities (although none being the one in Japan that was requested). Unfortunately, the two that we have details on do show much substance. But who knows, perhaps, a city will appear soon out around Schoharie and with luck Troy will vanish. We'll see.

-Peter Huston

Ask the Psychic.

Question: Are you ``The Mighty Quine?''

Answer: No.

Q: With all of the suffering in the world, is there anything I do to make the world a more pleasant place to live?

A: Other than bathing regularly, I would suggest daily meditation. Remember that the world is a work in progress, harmony and piece are a relative thing, meditate, and in time the world will settle. Education and communication will assist. You have a huge amount of untapped potential. Your purpose, is to realized your full potential and encourage others to do the same. I see you as having the ability to positively impact all that you come in contact with, though sometimes you say things to people that you regret. You must concentrate on channeling your energy into expanding your creative mind and creating a constant wave of energy that positively effects all things.

Q: I have been living with a man for the last fourteen months, he has was laid off four months ago. Since then he has been sleeping late and staying out all night with his friends, sometimes he disappears for days at a time. I make enough money to pay the bills and keep our heads above water, but he has been dipping into our savings to pay for these binges. What do you see in our future? Is this a phase that he is going through?

A: Your partner is experiencing a common problem, the loss of his job has lowered his positive energy level. He is seeking to end his psychic pain through quick physical fixes. I feel that the energy surrounding your husband is extremely negative. I don't see this bad energy ending in the near future. Dump Him quick....

Send your questions to: Ask The Psychic, P.O. Box 14203, Albany, New York, 12212-4203.

-David Quinne

Skeptics at Mediaplay.

Our psychic in residence, David ``The Mighty'' Quinne, will be appearing at Mediaplay on March 11th. He is looking for volunteers to help him with the performance. If you are interested he can be contacted at the address given above.

-The Editors

Book Review

Reprinted courtesy of Michael Shermer and Skeptic Magazine. For subscription information contact: skepticmag@aol.com or call 818/794-3119; fax 818/794-1301; write: P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001

Most of us have a fairly clear idea of what ``skepticism'' is. It's part of the way human beings inquire about things; we look at a claim, ask what evidence supports it, raise doubts when the evidence seems suspect, make tentative theories as best we can, and try to keep an open mind should new evidence come along that undermines our theories. That's simple enough, and believe it or not, most people use skepticism every day of their lives. We also use doubt, common sense, opinion based on prior experience, and debate as well; it's sort of built into the animal. (Sure, people might believe such nonsense as the Resurrection, faith healing, laissez-faire economics or ``The X Files,'' but nobody said having cognitive abilities would automatically lead to the Palace of Wisdom.) A skeptic, in this sense, is someone who's doubtful of whatever claim is being discussed at the time.

But to many of this magazine's readers, ``a skeptic'' is someone doubtful of a set of claims denoted as ``paranormal,'' i.e., psychics, astrology, UFOs, trance-channeling and so on. More specifically, a skeptic is more or less in sympathy with the aims and goals of CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal). David Hess, a professor of cultural anthropology at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has written an interesting book about the culture of the skeptics and the paranormal---Science in the New Age (University of Wisconsin Press, 243 pages). Hess contends that the skeptics, parapsychologists, and New Agers have more or less created a kind of ``shared culture,'' in which they are prone to making similar arguments and drawing similar metaphors and analogies when making rhetorical points. Although I can't say Hess has written a perfect book, I think it's a valuable perspective on fringe culture that deserves our attention.

The culture-war aspects of the paranormal-vs.-skeptics debate begin with its boundaries. The skeptics are, as the Skeptical Inquirer states, concerned with ``critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view...'' But the terms paranormal, fringe science, and even responsible scientific point of view are somewhat difficult to define. It may be more accurate to say that, frequently, the skeptics choose to investigate claims because of their cultural associations, rather than the intrinsic truth or falsehood of a particular claim.

Notice that the subjects are paranormal and fringe science, and not bad or questionable science per se. ``Questionable claims'' is a pretty broad category, and it would include anything from misleading grant applications to Edward Teller's claims of the efficacy of the Strategic Defense Initiative, from the computer-graphic courtroom evidence showing Rodney King holding twenty armed LA cops at bay to the assurances that the Dalkon Shield was a safe method of birth control. The skeptics haven't covered these issues at all---not that they have to---so we fall upon the word paranormal to characterize just why certain claims are more questionable than others.

No magazine can be expected to cover every instance of falsehood, or settle every quasi-scientific claim in existence. One has to pick and choose, and a general term like paranormal is a workable, if somewhat amorphous, boundary. UFOs, Atlantis, and psychic claims are both paranormal in a cultural sense; people who believe in one may believe in the other, and these are considered ``fringe'' beliefs. Fringe is a word that characterizes a culture, and is not necessarily based upon the scientific worthiness of a particular claim.

The occasional discussions of the philosophy of science that appear in the Skeptical Inquirer are attempts to codify cultural tendencies and to justify them with science's authority. Regardless of their intrinsic scientific merit, a claim or practice originating within the social institution of science is far less likely to be attacked by the skeptics than a claim associated with the occult, religion, or the New Age movement, or other groups perceived as being ``outside'' of science or the mainstream culture.

One example might be found in feminist discussions of science. As easy as it is to dismiss some of the wiftier claims---quasi-Freudian metaphors about science being ``penetrative,'' or ``invasive''---the feminist movement has raised substantive and valuable questions about how women have interacted with science, both as participants and as subjects. One of the better popular books on the subject was written by CSICOP fellow Carol Tavris---The Mismeasure of Woman. Yet when feminism is mentioned in the SI, it's usually presented as a malevolent, anti-science force.

It's not surprising that the SI ran Prof. Bernard de Montellano's fine series on the Portland Baseline Essays, and their claims about melanin enabling blacks to perform psychic feats and have richer emotional capacities than whites. The claims were bizarre, racist, and unsupported by science. And they also arose from a fringe culture---black separatists, the Nation of Islam, etc.---already regarded as strange, irrational, frightening and primitive by mainstream American culture.

But let's consider a claim that's precisely the converse of ``magic melanin.'' Canadian psychologist Philippe Rushton argues that blacks are slightly below whites on the evolutionary ladder, citing ``evidence'' that blacks have smaller brains, larger penises and buttocks, and invest less emotional care in their far-more-numerous children then do whites. It's certainly a worthy subject for critical inquiry. On the contrary: Daniel Seligman's book A Question of Intelligence---which in part 'explains' poverty and crime among blacks by resurrecting claims about race and IQ, and speaks approvingly of IQ-guided eugenics---won a rave SI review from Lee Loevinger, despite the considerable scientific criticisms raised against these claims.

Hess draws the boundaries of this ``culture war'' in clear and, I think, fairly accurate terms. Parapsychologists tend to use the term ``paranormal'' in the very narrow, specific sense of anomalous events; their literature is dry and technical, and because of their attempts at scientific validation, ``they have a disproportionately important position because they occupy a crucial middle ground between the strongly pro-paranormal beliefs of the New Agers and the strongly anti-paranormal beliefs of the skeptics and most of the scientific community.'' (My own limited experience is that parapsychologists have had an ever-decreasing share of the debate, while the skeptics and New Agers have become more prominent.)

The New Age movement is somewhat amorphous, as so many different claims have been accepted or tolerated under its name. J. Gordon Melton, a noted historian of alternative religions, characterizes it as a synthesis between Eastern religions and transpersonal psychology, with roots reaching back to the American Transcendentalists. Hess lists the elements of New Age faith: an interest in modern science; interest in Eastern philosophies; Native American and goddess religions; therapies that unite body and mind; things understood to be ``natural'' (organic foods, ecology, etc.). Hess also argues that the New Age movement shares much with certain aspects of the 1960s counterculture that ``opted for spiritual transformation rather than direct social change.'' Hess contrasts this with the clear antipathy Paul Kurtz and Martin Gardner hold toward the counterculture.

The skeptics, however, tend to lump the parapsychologists and New Agers under a general Occult and Superstition category, ``for which their social mission is one of debunking and demystification.'' The paranormal is associated in skeptical rhetoric with the growth of fanaticism, mob rule, needless death and injustice. The growth of paranormal beliefs is usually explained as a flight from reason, generating all kinds of pseudo-explanations: fear of death, ignorance of or resentment towards science, the ``uncertainty'' of science vs. the ``certainty'' of religion, etc. Maybe it's just some weird wiring in their brains: Paul Kurtz did a massive book attributing belief in a wide spectrum of claims to a ``transcendental temptation'' in the human psyche. Or maybe it's a disease; at a recent CSICOP conference, biologist Richard Dawkins compared religious beliefs to computer viruses ``of the mind.'' (Which makes skepticism a condom for the brain, I guess.)

The skeptics, however, present themselves as underdogs, fighting for their voice to be heard in an overwhelmingly pro-paranormal media and public. In skeptical discourse, the paranormal is associated with greed and private gain, while ``the skeptics portray themselves as motivated by the loftier values of mind and reason.'' Conversely, skeptics also promote a self-image as subversive hero and rogue, whose questioning of popular myths creates havoc among dogmatists. Paul Kurtz's recent editorial announcing the ``New Skepticism'' (SI, Winter 1994) self-describes skeptics in near-Superman terms:

Skeptics are considered dangerous because they question the reigning orthodoxies, the shibboleths and hosannahs... Like natives of Missouri, they say, `Show me.' Skeptics are able to detect contradictions within belief systems; they discover hypocrisies, double standards, disparites between what people profess and what they actually do; they point to the paucity of evidence for most of humankind's revered belief systems.... Skeptics are viewed as dissenters, heretics, radicals, subversive rogues, or worse, and they are bitterly castigated by the entrenched establishments who fear them.
The fascinating thing is, all of Hess's branches see themselves as exercising skepticism, and raising important questions about society. New Agers are suspicious of the use of rationalism to create a humane world (legitimately, in many ways), and are at least as critical of mainstream religions as the skeptics are. Parapsychologists consider themselves skeptical of New Age claims, and clearly resent being portrayed in the skeptical literature as credulous believers.

Each of these movements presents itself in position to a perceived ``other,'' and Hess is quite good at describing how the New Agers and skeptics echo each other more often than not. The New Age positions itself in opposition to outmoded forms of science, mechanism, reductionism and control. The New Age also sees itself in terms of inevitability; as an expression of the spiritual side of humankind, a New Age future can't fail to happen, and their rigid, dogmatic opponents are flailing impotently against the inevitable. Although I think Hess's appraisal of the cultural values among the skeptics is fairly accurate, there are a few flaws with the book. Science and the New Age would have been far better if it addressed the facts on a particular conflict. It wouldn't have invalidated Hess's sociological analysis, and it would have indicated where---rhetorical faults aside---the skeptics have performed some decent detective work. Hess has decided not to make appraisals as to the factual nature of the claims being discussed. This is fine if you're making sociological observations on modes of rhetoric (after all, one needn't be right or wrong to use a particular rhetorical technique), but in this context, the facts are very important. After all, most of the participants have been arguing over who is right or wrong for a long time.

Speaking the truth as one sees it in a hailstorm of lies and myth---in any social, religious, scientific, and political context---requires a pretty tough skin. And frequently, the skeptics' opponents really have been as dishonest, evasive, and corrupt as the skeptics say they are. (Hess really should have asked James Randi about this; Randi's had a horrifying amount of abuse heaped upon him, and Hess would find his accounts genuinely enlightening.) Call it ``siege mentality'' if you like, but the skeptics are not fond of ambiguity, cultural analogies, or having their rhetoric evaluated in terms of gender and hierarchy, as Hess does in one chapter. (Hess isn't alone in observing that the skeptics tend to be older, white and male. A number of skeptics have wondered openly why they haven't been able to attract women and minorities into the fold. This same problem is shared among the humanist-skeptics-freethinkers karass.) So Hess's approach probably isn't going to find a lot of sympathy among the skeptics, despite his evident efforts to avoid taking sides in his analysis.

(Most of this review was written in advance of reading Lee Loevinger's hysterical review of Science and the New Age in the Summer 1994 SI, which concludes:

I am now convinced that the dogma of irrationality is vastly stronger and more widespread than I had ever imagined it.... If the beliefs espoused by Hess are half as popular as he claims, then they are nothing less than the intellectual counterpart of the drug culture that is pervading and corrupting our cities.
A low-IQ culture, no doubt, bent on Defiling Our Women, Defacing Our Temples, and Sapping and Impurifying Our Precious Bodily Fluids.) So where does this leave Science and the New Age? As I've said above, it's not perfect, but it is necessary. Social movements usually fall into sloppy habits of analysis and rhetorical cant: sweeping generalizations of their enemies, simplistic social insights, dichotomous for-or-against-us partisanship, knee-jerk dismissals of contrary evidence. The skeptics are not immune to this.

In terms of actual practice, CSICOP represents a far more egalitarian, public-participation approach to science than the ivory-tower model it frequently preaches. Even recent attempts to portray CSICOP as a consumer-protection resource---playing off of the notion of ideas existing in a free marketplace---are somewhat off the mark. CSICOP isn't so much a scientific organization as it is a science club, with a distinct cultural perspective, that practices a form of investigative journalism. This recognizes that the skeptics have done some valuable and eminently respectable work in the admittedly small-scale subjects of fringe culture. I find this approach a lot more honest and worthwhile than any other. It's closer to the definition of ``skepticism'' I outlined at the beginning of this essay, and it urges the layman to separate the science from the culture baggage.

However, the skeptics frequently present themselves as an authoritative voice of science. The distinction between science and non-science is described through rules of thumb: Occam's Razor, for example, or Isaac Asimov's distinction between endoheresies and exoheresies, and even Marcello Truzzi's oft-recited, yet unexamined line, ``Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'' And, as Hess and others have pointed out, the skeptics have had a tendency to portray believers and opponents as not just wrong, but also deluded, credulous, ``religious'' in a pejorative sense, or dangerously irrational. Again, we return to the surprisingly apocalyptic view skeptics have: a battle between the sacred realm of science and truth, and the profane realm of superstition, fanaticism, and a Black Plague of brain viruses.

Hess's book comes at a time when the skeptics are moving into wider, more influential arenas of debate. After seventeen years of reading about astrology, psychics, and UFOs, long-time readers must feel as though these dead horses have been flogged into dusty hamburger. Imagine seeing yourself according to Kurtz's description, quoted above. Now, would you rather a) argue with con men and deranged cranks on Geraldo, or b) use your Amazing Powers for a greater purpose, like saving civilization from a new Dark Age?

Consider the topics that CSICOP has started to address. The 1993 CSICOP conference was titled ``Fairness, Fraud and Feminism: Culture Confronts Science'' (emphasis added), with panel discussions on multiculturalism and feminism, and denunciations of ``the Deconstructionist approach'' and ``the Politically Correct approach,'' whatever that is. The magazine's space-filling epigrams, usually ``wonder of science'' bromides, have included a number of slams specifically against the ``academic left'' for injecting politics into science. The 1994 conference on ``The Psychology of Belief'' included a discussion of conspiracy theories; these are specifically political claims, but belief in which is assumed to be psychologically motivated.

Although in 1981, Paul Kurtz cautioned against this gloom-and-doom, (``such doomsday forecasts are probably overly speculative''), he has since adopted the stance that his particular brand of skepticism is a bulwark against the black tide. The most explicit outline of this new direction comes from Kurtz's essay on ``The Growth of Anti-science'' in the Spring 1994 issue. The ``anti-science counterculture,'' as Kurtz calls it, stands in contrast to the optimistic attitudes the public had towards science in Kurtz's youth---the prewar 1930s. Today, rather than looking to science for guidance and uplift, this counterculture manifests itself among a motley collection of environmentalists, deconstructionists, postmodernists, anti-nuke activists, critics of biotechnology, Fundamentalists, multiculturalists, feminists, and the makers of Jurassic Park. And even a psychic could have predicted the SI's cover illustration: a solar eclipse throwing half the world into a ruinous, unscientific Dark Age.

Kurtz has more or less appropriated another culture war---complaints over ``political correctness,'' suspicion of multiculturalism, and popular disenchantment with liberal ideals---into his encompassing models of humanistic ``eupraxophy'' and skepticism. These targets aren't as socially ridiculous as fortune tellers or faith healers. The critical methods aren't as direct as tapping into a faith-healer's radio earpiece. Many of the critics of these ideas are themselves political partisans with an ideological agenda. And many of these ideas address questions of how society, ideology, power and science affect each other---issues outside of the skeptics' quasi-Popperian models, but admirably outlined by Michel Foucault, Stephen Jay Gould, Ruth Hubbard, and others. In short, these are jungles where Occam's Razor won't do the clear-cutting job. -Brian Siano revpk@cellar.org

Treasurer's Report

Currently there is 195.00 in our checking account, and fifteen dollars in petty cash. Our membership seems to have peeked at about twenty member's. Ideas for fund raising events are of course welcomed, as well as ways to increase our membership. Because of my schedule I will not have the time to preform the duties of treasurer. If anyone is interested in running for this office, please speak to me at the next meeting. Many thanks, Daniel Forrest, acting treasurer.

-Daniel Forrest

February Meeting.

Our next meeting will be held at the Guilderland Public Library on Wednesday February 1st at 7:00 pm. The speaker will be David Hess. Dr. Hess is a professor of cultural anthropology in the department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of the book Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture. (See the review in this issue.)

Thank You.

Thank you to Alan French, Daniel Forrest, Peter Huston and Carla Sofka for helping to prepare this newsletter. Thank you also to Bob and Dee Mulford mailing meeting notices to the press.

Thank you also to all of our members for their kind support of ISUNY. We would especially like to thank our Supporting members: Sylvia Chessin Arthur R. Petrick Duncan Tuininga, and our Patron members: Jordon Coleman Charles Davies Alan & Susan French Christopher Masto Bob & Dee Mulford Mike & Carla Sofka Douglas Wells.

About the Newsletter.

The Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York is the newsletter of the Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York. The manuscript was typeset using the TeX document preparation system written by Donald Knuth of Stanford University, and made freely available over the Internet. Public domain copies of TeX and macros are available to authors from the editor.

Articles, reports, reviews, and letters published in the Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York represent the views and work of individual authors. Their publication does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York or its members unless so stated.