Journal of

The Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York



Volume 1, Issue 5
 
 

1st Symposium on Anomalous Phenomena: Part 1, Robert Hastings.

On March 31st I attended the first speaker of the 1st Symposium on Anomalous Phenomena, also known as the third RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) UFO symposium. Longtime ISUNY members may recall that one year ago a couple of friends and I went to see Stanton Friedman's talk ``UFOs are Real'' as part of the 2nd RPI UFO symposium. That event marks the beginning of the Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York. The long and short of the story is that we were not impressed. You can read a summary of Friedman's UFO claims in volume 1(2) of our newsletter.

Robert Hastings was the first speaker in a series of talks that included John Burke (Crop Circle Phenomena), Kevin Randle (UFO Crash at Roswell) and Marshall Vian Summers (Preparing for the Greater Community: Spiritual Implications of Human-ET Contact). Bruce Maccabee was scheduled to talk, but was cancelled at the last moment. Notably absent are any dissenting or skeptical voices. (The flyer for the talk, by the way, featured a drawing of a ``Recent sighting in Hudson valley area/March 1995'' which looked remarkably like the early Gulf Breeze photos.) I should point out that the talks are sponsored by UPAC, which is RPIs student union. Still, this does beg the question of why the student union at one of the northeast's best technical schools spends its speaker money on a UFO symposium, and a very unbalanced one at that?

The first half hour of the presentation was a slide show narrated by Mr Hastings covering UFO sightings and beliefs from about 1947 until 1990. In it the famous 10,000 pages of (US) Government documents ``showing a systematic interest in UFOs, and that UFOs are extra-terrestrial craft'' are mentioned. (I couldn't help thinking that the guy who shot at the white house has probably generated more paperwork.) Project SIGN, Bluebook, the Robertson panel are all mentioned as supporting the reality of UFOs. Betty and Barney hill are presented uncritically (with no mention of their psychiatrist conclusion), and Roswell is discussed as given fact (complete with drawings of Army Airmen hitting pieces of alien metal with sledgehammers).

This was followed by a technical discussion of sightings around nuclear weapon storage facilities. This by far seems to be Hastings favorite topic. Several times he alludes to how UFOs appeared in great number after nuclear testing began, and how they caused power failures at the storage sites (an event which alone should have generated more the 10,000 pages of documents). He does, however, propose the ``alternative hypothesis'' that the power outages were just an EM effect accidentally caused by the UFOs. (He rejects the hypothesis that the observers where looking at celestial objects, while co-incidentally there was a power outage---something sure to put the base on alert.)

Of the government documents presented, my favorite was an FBI memo entitled ``Flying Saucers, Informant Concern'' It was a one page memo describing a March 22, 1950 investigation by Special Agent (the name was blacked out in the memo). SA interviewed an unnamed informant who claimed the Air Force recovered 3 crashed saucers and 8 bodies. It ends with the line ``SA <unknown> took no further action.'' Now to me that sounds like SA was talking to a, shall we say, unsound individual and decided to write it off. Hastings said, ``This is not a smoking gun.'' and he allowed the hoax hypothesis. It was just one more piece of circumstantial evidence in his well crafted story.

Both portions of the talk were entertaining, and the followup questions more so. For example, one member of the audience claimed the government was censoring reports of Mexican UFOs including the 1991 Eclipse sighting. (I suggest to the questioner, should he read this article, that he would do better finding his answer in Sky & Telescope magazine then in the Mexican press.) Generally, Hastings politely dismissed the wilder speculations. He said of Milton Cooper that ``he has problems'' and of Robert Lazar that ``his credentials are not checking out.'' So I thought: ``OK, lets go for broke,'' and I asked Mr. Hastings what he ``thought of Philip Klass's book UFOs, The Public Deceived, which covers most of the same evidence you presented, but came to different conclusions.''

I have heard that mentioning Philip Klass's name to a UFOlogist is likely to cause apoplexy, but I had never observed the effect first hand. Mental note, do not mention PK's name at a UFO talk. Hastings accused Philip Klass of ``Pre-conceived notions, weaseling, twisting arguments, miss-representation of facts, personal vend-etas, being uninformed'' and more. He concluded with ``you can choose to use Philip Klass as a source of information, but I wouldn't.'' Lets see, Cooper ``has problems,'' Lazar ``doesn't check out,'' while Philip Klass is.... Well, you can read the quotes. Up to this point Mr Hastings was very polite regarding critics, and I really do regret getting into an argument with him, but I just couldn't help pressing the point and asked him how the show he just presented is any different from what he accuses Philip Klass of? What I got for an answer was more invective against Philip Klass. (Mental note, do not mention PK at a UFO talk.)

What really got my goat about Robert Hastings (and Stanton Friedman a year earlier) was that while he talked open inquiry and education, he used innuendo, quotes out of context, nonsequitures, and lies of ommission to make what appeared to be a pre-conceived pro-UFO case. And then, goes on to make baseless (so far as I can tell) accusations against critics. This is not the reaction one expects from an objective researcher.

Did I really expect this talk to be any different? The evidence to be any better, the claims to be any less bizarre? I looked around at all the RPI students and tried to remember what it was like when OMNI magazine was my primary source of information about science. There were about 200 people there, but only half of them where students. The rest were staff, community members, professors, and others. How many, I wonder, have ever been exposed to a well presented, and well thought out criticism of UFO claims? How may want to be? I think many are open to hearing some critics, but there are just too many claims out there to even hope to address them all. There is always just one more observation that ``proves'' UFOs are real.

I originally wrote this article the day after Hastings' talk. Since then I've seen two more talks that will be the subject of later columns. In retrospect, Hastings' talk stands out as a ``good old fashion'' UFO talk filled with government conspiracy, mysterious sightings and speculation about ``why they are here.'' But, it is an old talk---the kind that will probably become rarer as wilder claims are uncritically presented on fox TV programs. In the end, Hastings seemed more critical then much of his audience. Maybe the organizers thought they were being balanced.

-Michael Sofka

The UFO Skeptic.

If you visit almost any bookstore, you're sure to find a selection of books about UFO sightings, crashed saucers, and alien abductions. The chances are good that all of the books will be written by people who firmly believe in such things. Books that are skeptical of these claims are not as numerous, nor are they as easily obtained. Here is a list of some of the skeptical books and articles on these subjects. Most of the books can be ordered from Prometheus Books at 1-800-421-0351 (24 hours) or through your local bookstore. Back issues of the Skeptical Inquirer are available by calling 1-800-634-1610.

Books:

Curran, Douglas., In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space, New York: Abbeville Press.

Kagan, Daniel and Summers, Ian, Mute Evidence, New York: Bantam Books, 1984.

Klass, Philip J., UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1989.

Klass, Philip J., UFOs: The Public Deceived, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1983.

Korff, Kal K., Spaceships of the Pleiades: The Billy Meier Story, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1995.

McHugh, Tom., Flying Saucers are Everywhere, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1995. Pebbles, Curtis., Watch the Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, Washington: Institution Press, 1994.

Sheaffer, Robert., The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence, Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1986.

Articles:

Alien-Abduction Claims and Standards of Inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(2), Winter 1987--88, 147--162.

Baker, Robert A., The Aliens Among Us: Hypnotic Regression Revisited, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(3), Spring 1988, 279--289.

Bartholomew, Robert E., The Airship Hysteria of 1896-97, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 14(2), Winter 1990, 171--181.

Boot, William., All Aboard the UFO, Columbia Journalism Review, Sept./Oct. 1987, 22--23.

Disch, Thomas M., Primal Hooting, The Nation, Nov. 14, 1988, 498--501.

Ellis, Bill., The Varieties of Alien Experience, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(3), Spring 1988, 263--269.

The Great Hudson Valley UFO Mystery, Discover, Nov. 1984, 18--24.

George, Kingston A., The Big Sur `UFO': An Identified Flying Object, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 17(2), Winter 1993, 180--187.

Klass, Philip J., The Condon UFO Study: A Trick or a Conspiracy, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 10(4), Summer 1986, 328--341.

Klass, Philip J., Crash of the Crashed-Saucer Claims, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 10(3), Spring 1986, 234--241.

Klass, Philip J., Examining Another UFO ``True Story,'' review of Out There: The Government's Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials, by Howard Blum, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 15(2), Winter 1991, 181--183.

Klass, Philip J., FAA Data Sheds New Light on JAL Pilot's UFO Report, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 11(4), Summer 1987, 322--326.

Klass, Philip J., ``Intruders of the Mind,'' review of Intruders, by Budd Hopkins, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(1), Fall 1987, 85--89.

Klass, Philip J., MJ-12 Papers ``Authenticated?'' Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 13(3), Spring 1989, 305--309.

Klass, Philip J., The MJ-12 Crashed-Saucer Documents, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(2), Winter 1987--88, 137--146.

Klass, Philip J., The MJ-12 Papers: Part 2, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 12(3), Spring 1988, 279--289.

Klass, Philip J., Radar UFOs: Where Have They Gone, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 9(3), Spring 1985, 257--260.

Klass, Philip J., Roswell UFO: Coverups and Credulity, review of UFO Crash at Roswell, by Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, in Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 16(1), Fall 1991, 71--75.

Klass, Philip J., The ``Top-Secret UFO Papers'' NSA Won't Release, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 14(1), Fall 1989, 65--68.

Lemley, Brad., The Last UFO War, Washington Post Magazine, Oct. 28, 1984, 14--17.

Nickell, Joe, and Fischer, John F., The Crashed-Saucer Forgeries, International UFO Reporter, March/April 1990, 4--12.

Nickell, Joe, and Fischer, John F. The Crop-Circle Phenomenon, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 16(2), Winter 1992, 136--149.

Oberg, James., UFO Update, Omni, Aug. 1987, 83.

Ridpath, Ian. ``The Woodbridge UFO Incident,'' Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 11(1), Fall 1986, 77--81.

Taylor, Lee Roger, Jr., and Dennett, Michael R., The Saguaro Incident: A Study of CUFOS Methodology, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 10(1), Fall 1985, 69--82.

Vaughn, Erik., Chronicles of Credulity, review of UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union: A Cosmic Samizdat, by Jacques Vallee, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 18(1), Fall 1993, 82--85.

Young, Robert R., Old Solved Mysteries: The Kecksburg Incident, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 15(3), Spring 1991, 281--285.

Please let me know if you know of any skeptical materials that should be added to this list. Your comments, thoughts, or questions are most welcome. Please address e-mail to 72724.2270@compuserve.com or phone me at 374-8460.

-Alan French

Ask The Skeptic.

To someone new to the ``skeptical scene'' a lot of acronyms, names, and organizations get dropped around, and to a newcomer a lot of this can be confusing. Furthermore, many people have asked us what exactly our connection or relationship is to other organizations or publications. The intent of this column is to quickly answer some of those questions and to flesh out exactly what some of these organizations might be. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, only ``skeptical'' organizations have been described and the countless pro-paranormal organizations, groups, and cults have been left out of this article completely.

First of all, we are the Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York, or ISUNY (pronounced ``Eye-soo-nee''). We are a local non-profit organization formed for the purpose of bringing together local people who have an interest in paranormal claims, but remain skeptical of them. Our purpose is to organize and provide events of interest to such people. At the current time our primary activities consist of publishing this newsletter and holding our monthly meeting and bringing in speakers on topics of interest to members. We hope that we can continue to do so, without becoming too self righteous, too pedantic, too verbose or else simply letting our heads swell too big with the importance of our new found knowledge, although these are, of course, the perennial problems that skeptics often succumb too.

The largest skeptical group in the United States, probably the world, is the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal or CSICOP (pronounced ``Psi-cop,'' a fact that occasionally leads to puns and jokes). CSICOP is dedicated to investigating and recording information on all sorts of paranormal and supernatural claims and providing information on such to the media and the public. They are based in Buffalo, NY, and have an office with a small number of very busy, paid staff members.

CSICOP publishes two publications. The first, and most important, is a bi-monthly magazine called the Skeptical Inquirer. It contains in-depth articles, generally of a scholarly nature, dealing with paranormal claims and the dangers and reasons for belief in unfounded paranormal claims. (both in general and specific claims). Their second publication, Skeptical Briefs is a newsletter, and not a magazine, and tends to contains pieces that are more oriented towards current events in and around CSICOP and other skeptics groups instead of about the claims themselves. (Although, it must be said that there is often overlap between the contents of the two publications.)

Internally, CSICOP does not have members and one cannot ``join.'' Instead it has ``fellows'' and ``technical consultants.'' Entry into these categories is done by a vote of the ``fellows' who have already been admitted. There are no CSICOP fellows involved in ISUNY, although we have had CSICOP technical consultants attend meetings and have one scheduled as an upcoming speaker. Just as CSICOP does not have individual members, it does not have affiliated member organizations. Therefore, there is no official connection or affiliation of any sort between CSICOP and ISUNY. Despite this we do share similar goals and they and their Executive Director, Barry Karr, have generously helped us in many ways on an unofficial basis. For example, they coordinate the newsletter exchange that exists between many of the un-affiliated, independent skeptical groups throughout the world. We hope that we have proved helpful to them as well.

Two other organizations that also share overlapping goals with CSICOP are CODESH and Prometheus Books. Although, at first the link between these organizations and CSICOP appears quite mysterious, it is in fact simple. CSICOP, CODESH, and Prometheus Books were all founded by the same man, Dr. Paul Kurtz. Paul Kurtz is a retired philosophy professor who is quite active in promoting his beliefs. (At one time, he taught at Union college.) His beliefs, as I understand them, (and I should state that I have never met the man or read his books) are that people should live moral and ethical lives, while being careful to believe only in things that are proven to be true. He is an atheist, and feels that both belief in paranormal claims and religion are unnecessary and unhealthy for mankind, and detrimental to their ultimately growth as a species. Acting on these beliefs, he has formed CODESH or the Council On Democratic and Secular Humanism, which is an organization for those who believe in living ethical lives without practicing religion. They publish a magazine, Free Inquiry, and have a local branch, the Capital District Humanist Association, which has a number in the local telephone book. Both CODESH and CSICOP are registered as charities eligible for fund-raising with the New York State Charities Bureau and as such, much of their finances are on the public record. Paul Kurtz receives no salary from CSICOP or, I believe, CODESH, but he does make some money from Prometheus Books.

Although it must be stated that there is a great deal of debate and mixed thought over how much criticism of religion or religious phenomenon is appropriate or warranted by groups like CSICOP and ISUNY, there is some overlap between some individuals in these groups and those such as CODESH and the Capital District Humanists. (Of course, we also have some overlap with the Roman Catholic Church, among others, but everyone knows who they are.)

One other group who we share more members with, however, is the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers or ``Quadruple A,'' as they are commonly known. The purpose of this local group is to share in and promote the study of astronomy. Although our goals and activities are different, the ISUNY by-laws and structure were consciously modeled after this group, in what we hope was a flattering manner, and occasionally members will mention ``Quadruple A'' in passing.

Prometheus Books is a private book publishing company. Paul Kurtz founded the company and one of his express goals in doing so was to publish books that were critical of religious and paranormal belief. It should be stated that many such books have a great deal of difficulty in finding a market. (If this statement sounds doubtful to you, as it did to me at one time, simply go and browse around in any bookstore. When books critical of paranormal beliefs occur at all, it is only in very small quantities. The reason appears to be simple economics. Paranormal books sell quite well.) Prometheus Books are often reviewed in the Skeptical Inquirer, and although this may appear at first to pose a conflict of interest, the simple fact is that it would probably be more of a disservice not to review Prometheus Books in that publication. The readers wish to know how the books are and which ones are new. Although the bulk of such reviews are positive, the bulk of Prometheus books' publications are exactly the sorts of things that their readers wish to read, so this is hardly suspicious. Many Skeptical Inquirer contributors expand their ideas into a book for Prometheus. For the record, on at least one occasion, the Skeptical Inquirer actually did give a Prometheus Book a bad review.

A new organization is The Skeptics Society. This organization started as the Los Angeles local skeptics group, but has since been trying to expand to national prominence. As such they publish Skeptic, an internationally distributed magazine of professional quality. In content and format, it is similar to the Skeptical Inquirer, but tends to show more of an interest in strange claims in the social sciences than the Skeptical Inquirer does. Within CSICOP, there is much mixed feelings about the Skeptics Society. Some see it and its publication as welcome addition and a second forum to express and share skeptical views and news. A second, opposite view is that the Skeptics Society is trying to undermine and weaken CSICOP, and will ultimately prove a disservice to the skeptical movement. A third view, somewhere in the middle, is that although the Skeptics Society provides CSICOP with competition, it is hoped that this competition will prove healthy for all concerned and ultimately cause the skeptical movement to grow and improve its efficiency. ISUNY, naturally, has no official connection with the Skeptics Society, and although many of our members enjoy their magazine, they do not provide services to groups such as our own in the manner that CSICOP does.

-Peter Huston

Ask The Psychic.

Q: In last months ``Ask The Psychic'' you said that you were sending your column telepathically. I never received mine even though I'm not at all skeptical. Why not?

A: ``Not at all skeptical?'' Hmmm.... I sense that someone has made an extreme effort to block my transmission to you. If I were you I would be concerned about all of the negative PMFs (Psychic Magnetic Field(s)) that surround you. Someone is trying to keep you from developing your psychic abilities. This is the type of thing I would expect from a highly organized, well funded, super secret organization... sounds like the blocking wave that went out had to originate from within fifteen hundred kilometers of my location. This whole thing sounds slightly like the doing of the people down at the government's super secret libratory on Plum Island off the coast of Southern New York State (long Island). Well, for now, the best thing for you to do is protect yourself from increased PMF by wetting your hair and brushing it back along your skull, next place four very damp extra strength paper towels along the perimeter of your hair line. You'll need to form some heavy aluminum foil to the shape of your head paying special attention to doubling the foil at the point near your temples. You should wear this device for at least ten days or until the PMF subsides, taking special care to shower with it on (you are most vulnerable to PMF when you are in the shower). Best of luck, and stay away from Plum Island.

Q: Is O.J. Simpson Guilty of murder?

A: Enough O.J already.

Q: Seriously now, are you the ``Mighty Quinn?''

A: No.... Really, what was the question again?

Q: What am I thinking right now?

A: ``He'll never get this one.... Does right have a W... no wait suppose he does get... I better not think about the time I... wait, what if he is hearing this....'' Need I go on?

Q: I'm planning a to take a trip, do you sense anything?

A: Yes.... The climate of Bombay is such that it's inhabitants choose to live elsewhere....

-David Quinne

Confessions of a Conspirator.

The following appeared on the skeptic mailing list SKEPTIC-REQUEST@JHUVM.HCF.JHU.EDU . It is 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.

April 15, 1995 (Tax deadline, no accident)

Over the past year at Skeptic magazine I have received many letters, calls, faxes, and e-mails inquiring if I am Jewish, if Skeptic is run by Jews, and if Skeptic is funded by Jewish organizations, all triggered by our investigation of those who claim that the Holocaust never happened. Some have wondered if my name---Shermer---is Jewish, or if it is really Schermer. There are some who even claim that our contributing editor, Betty McCollister, faked that sign she got from Kristellnacht pictured in Vol. 2 #4 of Skeptic (p. 11), and that we must be controlled by Jews because who else would write about the Holocaust in this manner?

I'm afraid the pressure is getting to me. I am no longer able to maintain the facade. I will now tell the world the truth through the world's communication system-the Internet (which has been playing havoc with our control of information flow). The gig is up. You have found us out. Skeptic magazine is secretly controlled by the Jewish cabal known as the Zionist Organization Government, itself run by the Illuminati. (Notice the letters ``KEPT'' in SKEPTIC-we are indeed kept by the Illuminati. But there is more. Much more.) Now the truth can be told. There are 12 men (actually 11 men and 1 woman-even the Illuminati have instituted an equal opportunity employment program) scattered around the globe who run the world, control economies, start and end wars, and instigate revolutions. (We also invented the killer bee.) Our long-term goal is the complete take-over of the world for Jews. My real name is Schermer. Illuminati #1 made me drop the ``c'' in order to keep my cover (I'm the west-coast rep). We are primarily funded through secret monies confiscated from the German government through reparations, and we hired Betty McCollister to fake that sign in order to prove that the Holocaust really happened, even though we know it did not. The Holocaust story was completely made up by #7 (I'm #11, a rather late-comer to the Illuminati, but at least I beat #12, the first woman). He thought it might be a good way to raise money and get world-sympathy for the Jews, as well as a clever distraction while we were busy taking things over. But I'm afraid we could not fool the revisionists. They are just too clever.

If you want to stay in touch with what is really happening in the world you must subscribe to Skeptic. Here is the secret code: believe the exact opposite of what we claim to be true or false. That will tell you what you need to know. For example, the ``Amazing'' Randi is actually Director of the World Psychics Institute and since we use psychic power as one of our tools of control, we need to make the public think this is all nonsense. (Randi is actually Randinski, a Polish Jew who rose to the #4 Illuminati position when his close friend Uri Geller retired. Oh, all those lawsuits between them were part of the coverup.) And in our latest issue on HIV and AIDS (Vol. 3, #2), in which we claim that HIV does cause AIDS despite what the HIV skeptics say, the truth is, AIDS was the invention of Illuminati #2, who had some medical training before rising to the #2 position in the world. He thought it would be a good way of eliminating a bunch of people we Jews don't like. It seems to be working out pretty well, wouldn't you say? This is why our operatives in Hollywood are all wearing those red ribbons. That is to get the U.S. government (which we actually control though we don't tell anyone there that we do) to continue to waste millions of dollars trying to find a cure, which they won't because only #2 has the cure. He keeps it in his top left drawer of his filing cabinet in his home office, but I cannot tell you where that is because I'm sworn to secrecy (and if I do tell #2 will give me AIDS).

Anyone out there in cyberspace reading this I have some information that leads me to believe that Illuminati #5 has AIDS (we are so secretive that he did not know that #2 invented the disease). That would mean I move up to #10, and I could recommend someone for the new #12 spot (you'll be behind a woman but what the heck, you'll be in the top 12). The problem is now that I've spilled the beans everyone will want in and then the game is up, so here is what you should do if you want to keep this great thing going. Pass this message from me all over the planet. It sounds so ridiculous that no one will believe it and almost everyone will realize how idiotic it is to believe in such conspiracies, and our cover will be maintained! Then, contact me about submitting an application for the #12 spot. (I'm the chair of the selection committee-a real boring job having to read all those applications, but it traditionally falls on the #11 spot to do so, #12 being too new and everyone else is higher up in the pecking order and doesn't want to do it. You see, even us Illuminati have our share of inside fighting, like any club.) Depending on how long it takes #5 to go, you could be in the club in a manner of a year or two.

Meanwhile, subscribe to Skeptic magazine and REMEMBER: believe the exact opposite, especially when we do our upcoming special issue on conspiracies. We are going to say they are a bunch of bunk, so you know what that really means! Then, once we have made our choice, you will be contacted secretly when #5 goes. It won't be by phone, fax, or e-mail because these can be tapped. A man in a black suit will come to your door in the middle of summer and ask for a glass of hot water. This will seem strange, but this is your clue that he is one of us. At that point you will be given your secret code book and everything else you need to know to control the world. Oh, by the way, no one but me knows this, but #9, our sports expert, controls who wins the Superbowl every year. If you want a hot tip, put down everything you own on the new St. Louis Rams to take it all. I know it seems like a long shot now, but just watch things unfold. Remember, we are the Illuminati.

P.S. The bodies of the aliens from the Roswell, New Mexico crash are located under the basement of the Hardrock Cafe in Washington D.C., along with Jimmy Hoffa's body. Yes, we were involved in that also.

-Michael Schermer

Book Announcement.

Peter Huston, our vice-president and an alleged author, has asked that we announce the scheduled July release of his first book, Tongs, Gangs and Triads which deals with Chinese crime groups in North America. He has also signed a contract for his second work, tentatively entitled Scams From the Great Beyond. This will deal with means of hoaxing paranormal phenomenon. Those interested in assisting with comments, suggestions, or especially help with photographs of UFOs, Crop Circles and other phenomenon please contact Pete at 393-3478. Note, this is not an official ISUNY activity, but we thought we'd pass the word.

-the Editors

Meetings.

Our next meeting will be held at the Guilderland Public Library on May 3rd. The speaker will be Patrick Kurp, a writer for the Daily Gazette. The topic will be The media and the Occult. Patrick has been a reporter for 16 years, during which time he has covered many events of interest to skeptics. He is also the author of the recent article about ISUNY that appeared in the Daily Gazette.

The June 7th speaker will be our own Alan French. His talk is entitled The Trouble With Astrology, which is an encore presentation of the talk he gave to the 4th annual Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, NY. This is a very entertainling talk, which dicusses the history and methods of astrology, as well as providing a review of the scientific data. For July 5th we will be treated to a talk by Dr. Carla Sofka. She will discuss the phenomena of ``Cultural Reincarnation.'' That is, the tendency of our culture to keep celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy alive.

Thank You.

Thank you to Alan French, Peter Huston, Daniel Forrest and David Quinne for their help in preparing this newsletter. Thank you to Bob and Dee Mulford for publicizing the meetings.

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, Daniel Forrest, Alan & Susan French, Christopher Masto, Bob & Dee Mulford, Matthew Schnee, 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 document preparation system written by Donald Knuth of Stanford University, and made freely available over the Internet. Public domain copies of and the macros used for this newsletter are available to authors from the editor. The Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York is available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.rpi.edu/~sofkam/ISUNY/.

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.