Witchcraft in Washington?

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Witchcraft in Washington?

Postby ryguy » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:04 pm

For your viewing and reading pleasure....a commentary by James Randi regarding allegations in 2001 that the FBI & CIA approached remote viewers for assistance with anti-terrorism... Is it a nod to the psychic believers? Or is it an indication that even employees of the FBI & CIA can be deceived?


Witchcraft in Washington, Dammit Zammit, Dennis Lee Again, Australian Common Sense, and Twisting Forks for Fun & Profit.....

I received many comments from readers about the recent media report claiming that US intelligence agencies are recruiting "psychics" to help predict future terrorist attacks and to find Osama Bin Laden, via what's known in woo-woo circles as "remote viewing," a claimed magical talent by means of which the psychics claim to be able to visualize happenings in distant places by using paranormal powers. I said I'd comment on this foolishness, and I think you'll see that our government apparently learns slowly, and still believes in throwing money at, and using witchcraft against, difficult problems.

In the 1970s, there was a project that started at the Stanford Research Institute in California which proved totally useless — though to hear some of the hired participants, there were highly-selected "interesting" events in the last ten years of the project, which doesn't surprise us at all. After all, even a blind man finds a $20 bill, given enough time. Now, it seems, US intelligence agencies are reactivating some of their old paranormal delusions. One is a project they called, "STARGATE."

Two former members of the STARGATE team said that they had recently been approached by the FBI and CIA to work for them. Transdimensional Systems, a company which claims to employ 14 "remote viewers," has confirmed that the FBI asked the company, headed by one Prudence Calabrese, to guess about possible future terrorist targets. After psychic cogitation, Prudence suggested that "a sports stadium" could be a likely target. Wow! Who would have ever suspected? While the FBI and CIA declined to comment officially, they confirmed that investigators have been told to "think out of the box." And perhaps "out of their minds"? But what the hell, this could only cost a couple million in tax dollars. There's loads of that money available.

Time out. Readers might well be confused by the myriad of strange projects on which the US government has spent their tax dollars. Here's a run-down on one batch, showing how many incarnations it went through.

What we are referring to here as, "Project STARGATE" began in response to CIA reports between 1969 and 1971 that the Soviet Union was engaged in "psychotronic" (paranormal, psychic) research, spending approximately 60 million rubles a year on it, and over 300 million by 1975. This seemed to indicate to Washington savants that the Russians had obtained positive results, but the whole matter was considered speculative, controversial, and "fringy." Regardless, a budget was raised, and research began. Initially dubbed "SCANATE" (for "scan coordinates") by the CIA beginning in 1970, the project was given in 1972 to the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in California, and was headed up by laser physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, the latter at the time a high-ranking Scientologist. (Targ and Puthoff, in addition to other scientific breakthroughs, had excellent qualifications, because they had introduced the world to spoon-bender Uri Geller, though they were never able to validate his cutlery-mangling talents.) We should note that, aside from Dr. Puthoff, many of the "empaths" used at SRI for SCANATE were also Scientologists.

In 1983, the project was briefly re-named the "INSCOM CENTER LANE" Project (ICLP), and in 1984 when the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council evaluated the remote viewing program, they reported that their results were "unfavorable."

Army funding ended in late 1985, the unit was transferred to Defense Intelligence Agency's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate, and it was redesignated "SUN STREAK." In 1991 it was yet again renamed as "STARGATE" and came under the management of physicist Edwin May, a fervent believer in bump-in-the-night stories.

Over more than two decades, some $20 million were spent on STARGATE and related activities, with $11 million of that budgeted from the mid-1980's to the early 1990's. More than 40 personnel were employed over that period, including about 23 "remote viewers." At its peak during the mid-1980s the program included as many as seven full-time "viewers"sitting in deep thought and scribbling on pads, and as many analytical and support personnel. Three of the viewers reportedly worked at Fort Meade for the CIA from 1990 through July 1995, and were made available to other government agencies which requested their services.

The program was sustained through the support of Senator Claiborne Pell and Representative Charles Rose, who are known to be devout believers in the powers of Uri Geller and other such fantasies. However, by the early 1990s, investigations showed divisiveness within the group, poor performance, and few accurate results. The program was tossed back to the CIA, with instructions to conduct a review of the program. In 1995 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) evaluated it for the CIA, and their final report contained rather dramatic difference in opinions between statistician Jessica Utts and psychologist Dr. Ray Hyman, Utts raving over its effectiveness, and Hyman cooly pointing out the blatant faults. The final recommendation was to terminate STAR GATE, and it was abandoned.

After twenty-three years and more than twenty million dollars of taxpayers' money, the CIA officially concluded that there was no case in which ESP had provided data used to guide intelligence operations. That conclusion seems not to have taught them much, and they've apparently jumped in again, holding hands with the FBI.

Reader K. Tristan Mayer, of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) suggests, in light of the clamor for magical solutions, that our government may go all the way:

Next they'll throw our tax money in a big pile and burn it as a sacrifice to the gods.
Not unlikely! A suggestion like this, though perhaps not an official opinion of the ISI web-based platform, is of just the same quality as that being pursued in the resuscitation of STARGATE. Seriously, just consider these methods of divination: augury (examining the entrails of chickens), the appearance of comets, crystal-gazing, palmistry, the I Ching (that's "ee-jing"), astrology, Tarot cards, and reading tea-leaves. There is just as much positive evidence for these crackpot notions, as there is for remote viewing, in fact, much more! Will the FBI and CIA be calling in spoon-benders and gypsy fortune-tellers, next? That's a seriously-put question. If these agencies scoff at the question, we must ask them, WHY? Remote viewing is as much witchcraft as ANY of those other flummeries. Think about it!


Several readers have asked me about a very strange chap in Australia who has been frothing and carrying on about a "counter-challenge" to the JREF million-dollar prize. He features, on his web page (www.victorzammit.com) this odd announcement:

A reward of one million U.S. dollars is offered to any sceptic anywhere in the world who can rebut and refute beyond absolute [sic] all the evidence for the existence of the afterlife.

So who would make such an illogical — but hardly risky, as I'll discuss up ahead — offer? Let's see. He states his qualifications:

Victor Zammit, B.A.(Psych), Grad. Dip. Ed.(UTS), M.A.(Legal Hist.), LL.B(UNSW), Ph.D, lawyer, Euro-Australian, a retired Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the New South Wales and the High Court of Australia.
Okay. So he has laurels.

Reader David Highfield, among others, wrote me asking about Zammit's counter-challenge. I answered him:

We are not in the business of proving a negative. Tell Zammit to prove the existence of life after death. We don't claim there is none; if he claims there is, let him prove it.
Highfield responded:

Thanks for replying. I already tried that approach. It gave me more of an appreciation for your work. Of course his claim was that proving the negative, was hogwash (in not so nice terms). When I tried to explain the concept, he replied:
"Look idiot — you have no idea what you are talking about! YOU have no idea what technical evidence is. YOU have no idea what scientific method is about — you don't have any idea what an independent variable is in experimentation. Just join other uninformed skeptics' idiocy."

Of course I tried again. The above claim is not true, by the way — I have a Ph.D. in Biopsychology and know pretty well by now what independent and dependent variables are — not that it takes a Ph.D. I hope that the undergraduates to whom I taught experimental psychology know it by now as well. Anyway, the bottom line, as my wife was quick to point out, is that if I continue to argue with an idiot, it blurs the line as to who the idiot actually is.

David, you cannot know how many times that very thought has passed through my fevered mind! It took a long time for me to decide to forswear further discussions with those who show no signs of being able to support an argument on logical, rational, grounds. Now, I simply tell them that I've no time to spend feeding their egos in fruitless back-and-forth exchanges. I've refused further correspondence with them. As I've said, Zammit's offer is perfectly safe, for him. He lists a huge amount of anecdotal evidence, quotes long-dead scientists such as Crookes and Lodge — who as soon as they left their field of expertise, also left behind their ability to reason dispassionately — and he demands that we impugn and refute all such material as if it were real evidence.

Now, lawyers are accustomed to be allowed to drag in all sorts of "evidence" to support an argument. Often it's the quantity of material, rather than the quality, that they depend upon. Also, lawyers are name-droppers by nature; a title or a position, fame or fortune, can color the validity of their "experts." Juries are frequently awed by such material. That's one reason lawyers prefer that scientists — and magicians, I can testify! — are excluded from their juries. I trust that my readers are, from a lawyer's viewpoint, unwelcome jurors.

Mr. Highfield continued:

I admire your ability to deal with this garbage day in and day out . I have on occasion, while reading your posts of arguments with people like Zammit thought that you were quick to get a little testy and that sometimes a little more patience on your part may have served you better. I no longer believe that. In one interaction I quickly found out what you must deal with every day. Please keep up the good work.
I have found one difficult factor in presenting an argument. A good skeptic should be careful of the facts and be concerned about overstating any real data. They should also acknowledge good points in an argument. The truth, or facts, do not seem to hamper people like Zammit. It makes it easier for them to argue their point if they are not weighed down by those annoying facts.

I think that Zammit's hysterical reaction is evidence of his frenzy, of his desperate need for evidence he seeks but does not find. Imagine being faced with an opponent who claims, "I'm 200 years old, and I perform chants every day that perfectly effect a system whereby my aging process is negated. Prove that my claim is false." No amount of reasoning, of producing records, of testing, of introducing experts, will prove his claim to be false. Exactly the same circumstance applies to Zammit.

Challenged to produce evidence that his claim is true, Zammit tries to reverse the responsibility in the argument. It's his only recourse. And, if I won't fall for that ploy (remember, he claims to be a lawyer!) he persists in blustering and obfuscating. But I urge you to go to Zammit's web page — listed above — to see the full extent of his incredible philosophy and attachment to the ridiculous. For one example, he uses numerology to establish what he believes to be a plausible connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein! Just read this single statement, which begins his numerology essay, and you'll have an excellent insight into his logic:

The critical number appears to be 11 in the New York terrorist attacks. Most people will find it reasonable and highly credible to accept 11 as a visual representation of the twin towers — the Word [sic] Trade Centres.
More blather appears on his web page about the "Akashic Records," the "Seven Laws of Psychic Energy," and an hilarious piece about Nostradamus in which he locates New York City "between forty and forty-five degrees." Pray tell, East, West, North, or South? And for his information, the heart of NYC is at 73 57' West, 40 45' North.

Then Zammit asks, in an essay, "Who are Silver Birch and White Eagle?" and answers us:

Silver Birch and White Eagle are very highly spiritually evolved "intelligences" from the afterlife. They are eye-witnesses to what is happening in the afterlife dimension that we all are destined to go [sic]. Their teachings are impeccable, highly inspirational, critically and immediately relevant to every man, woman child on this planet earth [sic]. . . . Although there are great spiritual works transmitted from the aftelife [sic] dimension, I regard the works of these two great afterlife intelligences as the greatest spiritual works of all time in the history of psychic and spiritual phenomena.
So, if you still have any doubt about Zammit's naivety, please refer on his web page to what these two Indian "guides" have to tell us. I think we can conclude that the man is a total mystic, unrealistic, and uninformed. And he's a practicing lawyer....?


Concerning the claims of free-energy guru Dennis Lee that appeared here last week, giving his weird ideas about how water is constituted, many persons answered my request, "Let's see if a knowledgeable reader can tell us, Michael (Turner)." James B. Whyte, whose title line says, "Hack, Geologist, Splendid Person," after demolishing Dennis Lee's pseudochemistry, writes:

Mr. Lee can jaw all he wants in whatever jargon he wants — but the moment he says something really stupid, it should tip the listener off that the rest of the speech, whether you understand it or not, can't be trusted to be any more accurate. Good call, Mr. Turner!
Jonathan Heath, a Ph.D. in Chemistry, rather puts Lee's amateur ideas of chemistry to rest:

Not only is it untrue that "most water is HHO," as Mr. Lee says, but rather, all of it is HOH. There are many aspects of chemistry that remain a wonder, but the covalent bonding between oxygen and hydrogen in water is pretty well worked out. To anyone with a minimal education in chemistry, Mr. Lee's little lesson in water would immediately reveal him to be a scam artist, but to an audience of scientifically illiterate "sheep," I guess Mr. Lee's presentation sounds wonderful. What a shame.
[Dennis Lee] said the engine [powered by water mixed with acetylene] worked because, while most water is HHO, the water he was using is HOH. . . . Structural formulas are written so as to be unambiguous. "HOH" correctly shows the oxygen atom's ability to form two chemical bonds. Hydrogen atoms, with only single electrons each, can form but one bond apiece. . . . No structure exists that would properly be written as HHO. Mr. Lee, if indeed he said otherwise, is full of hot air, and is not qualified to speak on matters of chemistry.

Good friend Chip Denman and the ever-patient Grace, both revealing hitherto unsuspected masochistic tendencies, undertook to attend a Lee meeting recently. He reports:

Monday night, November 12th, "free energy" huckster Dennis Lee brought his show to College Park. Eric Kreig of the Philly skeptics gave me the heads-up, and a good thing too — there wasn't a lick of campus advertising. Even at showtime, from the outside, the rented campus theater was a total blank — not so much as a poster or a flyer. But a couple of hundred people were in the seats, apparently all by word of mouth. A number seemed to know each other. Lee kicked it off by saying he had the hall for only a short time — shorter, he implied, than he was expecting — so he was "forced" to keep in rapid-fire lecture mode. He just didn't have time to stop for pesky questions, or else we wouldn't get to see all his amazing gadgets. Ah, well.
It wasn't like a revival meeting, it was a revival meeting. Lee would call out from the stage "They SAY you can't burn water!" and voices from the crowd called back "That's right!" "How much POLLUTION should America tolerate?" ... "NO pollution!" It was like Rocky Horror without the rice, and much more scary. And although Lee assured us that he believed in god from his head to his toes, this night wasn't about praising the lord. His show was built 100% on pseudoscience & pseudotechnology.

The stage was littered with projects that looked cobbled together from a yard sale. "I'm not going to say anything tonight that violates the laws of physics," he crowed. Of course, 20 minutes later he said "Now, physicists say that THIS is impossible."

He led with a pitch to improve your car's mileage 5-fold by running it on a mixture of gas and water. He proceeded to mix gasoline, Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade and urine, with a dose of salt and sugar, in a glass jar, connect it to the fuel line of a single-stroke engine, and pulled the cord. And again. And again. And...well, the engine refused to start. His flunkies on stage yanked until their arms gave up. Eventually, they took it offstage to work on it. (They were just bringing it back for a second go an hour later when my wife and I gave up and walked out.)
On to the next...a lawnmower also running on gas and water, this time in a closed loop with the exhaust venting back into the fuel tank. You see, he promised a plan to completely eliminate pollution within 5 years. Except this little baby balked, too. They eventually got it to sputter along for a few seconds, but only after a lot of excuses and false-starts. Next up, a cutting torch fueled only by "water gas." You can burn hydrogen in the presence of oxygen, right? And oxygen in the presence of hydrogen. So, of course, if you could burn water, you'd have an even more powerful fuel. You see, regular water is H2O, or rather HHO. But he has a process to make it into HOH, a "stoichiometric gas." And, you see, HOH burns like magic. And best of all, the temperature of the flame automatically adjusts to match what it's applied to. It's cool enough to run your hand through it, but hold it to copper and, poof, it's now the exact temperature to melt/cut copper. Move it to steel, and the flame knows to heat up to the temperature to cut steel. Or tungsten. Or ceramic firebrick, or whatever. "I don't know WHY it works, it just does!"

In all honesty, I can better understand how people can be suckered by a good old-fashioned faith healer; at least many are raised in that tradition from the get-go. But I can't begin to imagine how any adult living at a functional level could be suckered by this techno-silliness. At www.ucsofa.com you'll get a sense of what he was selling. He promised that any who stayed to the end would get a chance to participate in his "free energy" plan. We decided to pass. It looked like it was going to be a very long night.

Postscript: One of my "Science & Pseudoscience" students did stay to the bitter end — all five-and-a-half-hours worth. Now that deserves extra credit!

The student referred to is Weiluo Ma. He bravely stayed on, and made the following informal, unedited report....

The first sign that made the matter seem fishy is that he mentions "easy money" in the beginning of the presentation. If it really is big and easy money, why not keep the idea to himself? His emphasis on "deep south"-like values is interesting too. He mentions how he is Christian from head to toe, and a few times he even says he is doing this because god wants him to. He constantly represents that "big government" is hiding things from the average person, and how "big business" is ripping people off. He mocks how the universities do not teach anything new in the field of physics, and that they are limited by the rules of the past. On this point he mentions how physicists said heavier-than-air flight was not possible before the Wright brothers did it. He suggests that motors get hot because of planned obsolescence. Basically, he says, the power company sends more power than the motor needs, and the motor company uses that to make the motor hot and eventually break down. He says he builds a device that will measure the current a motor draws, and lowers it to that exact point to run the motor without it getting hot.
He has a device, he says, that acts as a transformer which instead of sending the current to the one built by the electric company, loops it back to your house, thereby significantly reducing the amount of electricity used. He says the electric companies use their transformers on purpose, because "they don't want their power back." He says that the electric companies do this to sell more electricity.

He also knocked the Exxon Valdes spill as "big business" hurting the "little people." He markets this weird "moss" that will suck in oil, and never let it go. He says that Exxon refused to use that moss to clean up the spill because they wanted their oil back. He says that he convinced Eskimos to sue Exxon because of this.

He never even showed his motor, and his generator paired with a generic motor showed only a 75% efficiency (he says it's the motor that is 75% efficient, so his generator must be 100% efficient). Another odd thing is that the output from his generator is 3-phase power, but the generator itself has a multiple-of-2 number of sub-units (he showed the disassembly of one of the sub-units), making me think one of the lines is the trick one from a hidden battery or something.

His "tornado generator" seems even more ambitious than the motor. He says that it works by injecting water vapor and the force of the tornado will separate it into hydrogen and oxygen and they burn to fuel the tornado. The machine, he says, will go from 0 to 30,000 r.p.m. in 0.6 seconds, which can generate far more electricity.

He showed video of a device that he says vaporizes any type of hydrocarbon using a plasma coil, and then it's fed to a regular gas engine. He was using bird seed in the video, and he claims 20,000 miles on two bags of corn. He claims he got the device from the same guy that built the tornado engine. When that guy tried to patent it, the patent office would not let him because it could cause too much damage to the economy, and the feds sent agents to beat him near dead, and took away all of his papers related to the device. He also sells this white powder that kills crickets (he showed that on stage), but is also safe to be ingested by humans(demonstrated also) and pets. He claims it will even clean out lead and mercury poisoning.

Randi comments: Now Mr. Ma gets down to what Dennis Lee is really doing with his crowd, selling them the same old swindle that Charles Ponzi and his successors worked so successfully, the Pyramid Scam....

The Lee pyramid scheme, from what I can gather, goes like this: the people at the show are invited to become "witnesses." Lee says he will have two prototypes built for Maryland, and the witnesses, by contract, have to go to one of those exhibitions. (There will be 1.6 million witnesses nationwide.) He estimates that this will create chaos, lure the news media along, and make a big impact next 4th of July. This, he says, is revenge on the government for silencing him in 1987 when he first promoted this. Each witness will be given a certificate for free electricity at the event, and nine certificates for free electricity for friends. That catch is, those nine people have to pay $1000 each to get in on it. He will then use that $9000 to build it for you, and the excess electricity from the machine on your property will be sold for five cents/megawatt to finance more units to be built for the people you refer, and for your own profit. You will also get the profit from the people you refer. This keeps expanding until he gets some number of units built, 32 million I think, when he will lower the price to 1 cent/MW to drive all power companies out of business, and then totally convert the country to this free electricity to eliminate pollution.
Randi again: No, don't ask me to understand or explain that. Ask Lee.... But now we come to the "level of the participant" characteristic that defines the classic pyramid swindle:

The profits for the top level recruits, said Lee, would be $230,000/yr and it would be $16 billion a year for him, from selling the electricity. . . . At the end of the show, the only people left looked like they were ready to enlist in a militia to fight "big government" and "big business." They looked like mostly farmers and others that care little about the actual physics.
I was kind of afraid to ask any negative questions because it seemed like I was alone in that group. Everyone except me was grabbing for forms to sign up as a recruiter or a dealer. All the scientists had left before then. There was an ABC reporter there that was very convinced, and they were actually exchanging stories about amazing inventions he did not mention during the show. He was mentioning that a guy made a flying disc that runs at mach 7 by generating its own gravity field, and all sorts of other amazing inventions from the deep south. And of course he ended with more jargon about carrying out the duty of god. I think that's about all I can remember that Mr. Denman did not mention in class.

Mr. Denman and Mr. Ma, thank you. We now see Dennis Lee in a fuller light. He effectively makes it impossible for anyone to ask questions during his presentation, by announcing in advance how rushed he is. He cleverly gets rid of anyone who understands just how juvenile his view of science is, by demonstrating that fact early in his talk and boring them right out of the auditorium. He is clearly out to get the signatures of dupes that other sycophants — already signed up — have brought along to the event. It's shooting fish in a barrel. And it's a moneymaker.

It's also a crime. Lee is selling a fanciful notion, using language and terminology that sounds good to the uninformed because it borrows from real science, but is fakery at its worst. He panders to fears of "big business" and "big government," and offers to make his pawns into participants in a righteous rebellion against those forces — while they become fabulously wealthy.

It's a lie. Anyone in any state of federal agency that should be protecting citizens against this flummery, knows that. It's very obvious. On this page, I can protest and report all I want, but those agencies just don't give a damn about the grief, the despondency, and the damage that Dennis Lee and his scheme is bringing to those who naively invest. Not only do they have to suffer huge losses — and they will! — but they also must undergo the shame of having brought their friends to the same state.

It's just not right.

Reader Peter E. Petersen, a Chemical Engineer in Oslo, Norway, writes:

I challenge Dennis Lee to show us how and where he can get hold of Hydrogen atoms with such entirely different chemical properties, but he would probably not disclose his "supplier".
I'll let reader Matt Fields have the final word on Lee and his nonsense:

Why anybody would want to goof off with stupid science like perpetual energy when real science is so much fun, is a mystery to me.


I recently complained (nothing new there!) about the reluctance of Federal and State authorities to bring charges against certain so-called "psychics" and related services, but now I must withdraw that protest so far as "Miss Cleo" is concerned. Though I'm annoyed that actions are only taken regarding infractions of ordinary law, rather than regarding the fraud that is being perpetrated re psychic abilities, I'm edified by what's now taking place.

Another Attorney General, Jim Ryan of Illinois, has now filed suit against Miss Cleo and those who sell her psychic readings. This complaint names Access Resource Services, Inc. (ARS), located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ryan's office received more than 200 complaints from consumers in Illinois accusing ARS of charging them for "free" psychic readings which actually ended up costing them $4.99 a minute after an initial three-to-five minute free psychic reading. Callers never get the benefit of the full reading because he or she is on hold, providing information, or listening to a promotional message from Miss Cleo during the "free" period. Last July, the State of Missouri filed a similar suit against ARS.

Attorney General Ryan said that ARS told consumers that they would not pay for the time while they were on hold, when, in fact, they were billed from the period the free time ended, until they hung up the phone. ARS relies heavily on television advertising, employing an actress playing the part of Miss Cleo, supposedly a psychic, who invites viewers to call their toll-free number. And, those TV ads that appear to be taken from actual psychic readings, are simply performances by actors. What a surprise!

Next state, please step up!


Reader Iain Giblin writes from Down Under:

I've just read your recent page about governments pursuing charlatans and I thought I'd send you something of promise from Australia. The Fair Trading Minister, John Watkins, recently introduced legislation into the New South Wales parliament that requires businesses to "substantiate any claim or representation (express or implied)" made in an advertisement. This legislation has been used to charge an alternative therapist with marketing an unsubstantiated claim. Unsubstantiated claims are deemed illegal in advertising.
Thanks, Mr. Giblin. That is promising, indeed. It's always good to hear of any government agency, anywhere, coming to the aid of the consumer faced with fraud. Now, if only I could interest a few more agencies here in doing the same.....

While we're on the subject of Australia, reader Steve Wellcome writes us:

The recent commentary about Von Däniken and his nonsense reminded me of an incident that occurred when I was visiting Ayers Rock in Australia in 1986. I went on a guided tour of Ayers Rock and saw aboriginal paintings in some of the "wind caves" that have been hollowed out around the base of Ayers Rock. The very competent tour guide explained the meaning of each painting that he knew about — the aborigines still refuse to explain some of the paintings to non-aborigines — and pointed out one particular drawing that he said had sent Von Däniken, when he visited the site, into a long discourse. Von Däniken had declared that it undoubtedly was a drawing of a space craft or some kind of space visitor and other such nonsense. Finally, one of the aborigines accompanying the group couldn't stand it anymore and stated that the painting described an emu hunt. Furthermore, it had been painted only about 50 years ago.
But Von Däniken wasn't inclined to ruin a perfectly good error/fraud/lie with a contrary bit of evidence, I'm sure.

Horselaugh department: go to http://www.fork-you.com/ and see what one Anya Ubermole is selling. (She spells her name all in lower case, so we can expect what's coming.) Looking at it charitably, I can decide that this lady really believes she needs psychic abilities to simply bend forks. Or, there are other possibilities I won't go into. Following her lengthy diatribe against those who doubt her powers, this strange person asks, "Oh, and do you want to read about my Near-Death Experience? No forks involved in that one, but kinda interesting." Ummm, no thanks, Anya. It was tough enough digesting the forks....

But, being a man of action, I've decided to cut into Anya's action. We can use the income here at JREF. Forks that I've bent, using the same means as Ms. Ubermole, are now available at a fraction of her prices, in time for Christmas giving. One of my products is illustrated here. Credit cards accepted. Click on "Books/Videos" and follow to the "Shopping Cart." Twenty-five dollars US, $3 additional for postage. Guaranteed no tools used, all handwork. No two alike. You know how these forces are.....


Penultimate note for this week: In about two weeks, we'll have an exciting announcement to make about the JREF site, a project that has been many months in the making, and is just about ready to be put in place. As we often say, stay tuned!


Final note for this week: After much discussion, we at JREF have made a decision regarding our newsletter, SWIFT. Much searching about and negotiating has convinced us that turning out the printed version of SWIFT, and mailing out the hundreds of copies, is just too expensive for us. And the cost has been going up steadily. We've opted to change SWIFT into an Internet newsletter.

You may have noted that these weekly page-changes have been getting longer recently. (This one you're reading is about 50% longer than usual, for example.) I, personally, devote more than two entire days a week to preparing the material that must reach Jeff, our webmaster, by each Wednesday to be put up on Friday. It's a labor I do willingly, and I'm encouraged by the fact that the number of "hits" we get (now averaging some 1,900 a day!) has been rising steadily. Those who look in each week are from every corner of the world, and by Friday night — certainly by Saturday evening — we're inundated with questions, comments, complaints, and plaudits, many of which call for responses to, and amplification of, specific items that have appeared.

We're going with the inevitable, and from now on, the web page "COMMENTARY" section will be titled, "SWIFT." As soon as we can manage it, all the previously-printed versions of SWIFT will be put up on our website archives, so readers may have everything available to them. We were a little hesitant about going in this direction, and obviously there will be a small percentage of our members and friends who don't have ready access to Internet facilities. That's to be regretted. However, there are ways that SWIFT can be downloaded and printed (at libraries, for example) so that an actual hard-copy document can be at hand.

So, goodbye, SWIFT. And hello, SWIFT! See you here next week, under a different banner.....!

"Only a fool of a scientist would dismiss the evidence and reports in front of him and substitute his own beliefs in their place." - Paul Kurtz

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Postby ryguy » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:30 pm

It's also a crime. Lee is selling a fanciful notion, using language and terminology that sounds good to the uninformed because it borrows from real science, but is fakery at its worst. He panders to fears of "big business" and "big government," and offers to make his pawns into participants in a righteous rebellion against those forces — while they become fabulously wealthy.

It's a lie. Anyone in any state of federal agency that should be protecting citizens against this flummery, knows that. It's very obvious. On this page, I can protest and report all I want, but those agencies just don't give a damn about the grief, the despondency, and the damage that Dennis Lee and his scheme is bringing to those who naively invest. Not only do they have to suffer huge losses — and they will! — but they also must undergo the shame of having brought their friends to the same state.

It's just not right.

This statement above is poignant - and I believe it reflects how many people feel about the scammers who defraud investors of millions each year, and how apparently *little* our federal government does about it.

However, if it's any consolation to the sane and educated public - if we've learned anything through our research into this field, it is this:

The government *is* keeping an eye on these folks, and is certainly concerned with the fleecing of millions from investors who think they know better. But since most of these scam-artists walk a fine line between the legal, and the illegal - the onus is on the researchers, reporters, and writers - to expose these scams to the general public...

"Only a fool of a scientist would dismiss the evidence and reports in front of him and substitute his own beliefs in their place." - Paul Kurtz

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