News Briefs 01-02-2008

Little bit late today. What can I say, I try to have a life every now and then...

Quote of the Day:

About the million dollar prize, I would be worried if I were you because of the fact that we have perinormal possibilities.

Richard Dawkins, to James Randi

Bazooka Jones: New snapshot from the upcoming Indy 4 movie

For those die-hard Indy fans out there, here's this new pic of our favorite archeologist (Lara who?) wielding some serious fire power; I only hope he gets the chance to use it this time, not like in Raiders when he cowed from destroying the Ark of the Covenant.

Follow the links and you'll find an interview with Producer Frank Marshall. Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf (who plays the part of Indy's son Mutt... what's with George Lucas and dogs anyway??) are also appearing in February's cover of Vanity Fair magazine, and there's also a behind-the-scenes video of the photo-shoot.

-So, Doctor Jones, what was the topic of your Doctorate thesis anyway?

-Use of ordnance as a tool in archeological digs

Randi's Million

I've always wondered about the James Randi "Million Dollar" prize for his paranormal challenge - rumours have flown that there is no million dollars, while others say it's there in cash waiting. Welp, in his latest newsletter Randi has given evidence for the prize, via a PDF image taken from the prize account's financial statement. Unfortunately, I don't really have the accounting knowledge to understand some of the terminology: I understand the $4K in cash, and can take a guess at the $52K in cash equivalents. But can anyone fill me in on what the $1 million in "Investment Grade Fixed Income" means? It certainly seems that this is 'actual' money of some sort, considering the $4K in interest earned during December. But I'd appreciate clarification.

By the way: stand by for more information about the actual challenge part...I've found out some interesting things and will be posting an article soon about it all.

From Sphinx to Psi

Our good friend Robert Schoch has a new book released today, although this time around it's nothing to do with the Sphinx, pyramid cultures, or even archaeology. Instead, the new book is an anthology which looks at The Parapsychology Revolution (available now from Amazon US, or preorder from Amazon UK):

Grounded in both scientific acumen and constructive inquiry, this anthology shines a rare, clarifying light on the controversial realms of psychical and paranormal research, surveying reports, essays, and arguments from more than a century of investigation into matters such as clairvoyance, telepathy, and past-life regression.

In the past one hundred and twenty-five years-despite a relative paucity of funding and the troubling persistence of fraud-serious inquiry into the paranormal, particularly as it relates to clairvoyance and psychical perception, has successfully entered the scientific age.

Studies in the modern laboratory, employing rigorous methodology and peer-reviewed oversight, have conclusively detected statistical anomalies that suggest the presence of some not yet understood faculty of the human mind. In The Parapsychology Revolution, Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D.-a scholar widely known for his geological theories that question the conventional dating of the Great Sphinx-and researcher Logan Yonavjak introduce and anthologize core writings that underscore the range and continuing challenges of psychical research.

The book's extensive introduction and the editors' commentary on individual essays and sections highlight milestones, feuds, and key players that mark the nascent history of this fascinating and important field of research. Finally, The Parapsychology Revolution addresses and clarifies the all-important question: Is there legitimate evidence for a world beyond the ordinary?

I'll be taking a look at the book next week and reporting back, and will probably talk to Robert as well, exclusively to TDG.

'UFO Hunters' Abound

In a few hours, two separate shows titled "UFO Hunters" will debut at the same time, on different networks: Sci Fi and the History Channel. Both were originally scheduled to air next week, but both networks moved their shows up a week to January 30:

It's unclear which network made the first move, but in what appears to be a game of trademark chess aimed at ensuring neither show can claim to have aired before the other, The History Channel and Sci Fi Channel have both announced plans to move the debuts their UFO Hunters programs up a week...

The History Channel's UFO Hunters will follow a team from UFO Magazine as they investigate UFO cases in North America and Europe while Sci Fi Channel's UFO Hunters will follow a team from the New York Strange Phenomena Investigators organization investigating their own set of UFO cases.

Sci Fi have a website devoted to their show, as does the History Channel, and both sites have extra information, videos to watch etc. Let's hope they do a decent job...

News Briefs 31-01-2008

Likely my last Thursday news update for a while, with Red Pill Junkie coming on board to help out here at TDG. Make him welcome!

Thanks Rick.

Quote of the Day:

The fact that the Earth bends time has to be taken into account, otherwise our sat-navs would drift by 11km per day.

Dr Brian Cox

Scientists and UFOs

A friend sent me a link to a Newsweek story on the recent Texas UFO flap, which apparently discussed what scientists think of UFOs. "How exciting," I thought, wondering which scientists they had talked to...Jacques Vallee, perhaps Bernard Haisch? Umm, no.

Instead we get CSICOP Fellow Bob Park, Skeptic magazine editor Michael Shermer, and Theodore Schick (author of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical thinking for a New Age). Park does a wonderful job of not even understanding what the UFO acronym stands for, which ends up making each of his statements rather ridiculous if you read them correctly. Michael Shermer lets us in on what it really might have been (a Stealth bomber flanked by fighter jets). But wait, the "scientists" are really on the side of "UFO believers":

Scientists defend UFO believers against charges that they're psychologically deranged. People who report UFO sightings and abductions, a 1993 study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology concluded, are just as intelligent, psychologically healthy, and free of fantasies as people without such experiences. People with UFO experiences differed on only one known measure: sleep deprivation.

But really, it's worth wading through the article to get to Bob Park's own UFO encounter, which had a prosaic explanation. Because what did it do for Bob?

With that, Park learned the ultimate lesson for a scientist: humility.

OMG, the irony...my eyes are burning.

News Briefs 30-01-2008

Long and bitter, and a touch controversial.

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

"Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense."

Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, former CIA Director (1960)

News Briefs 29-01-2008

Short and sweet today.

Quote of the Day:

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.

P.J. O'Rourke

Bloodline Date Set

The website for Bloodline, the documentary on Rennes-le-Chateau related mysteries, finally has news about a release date. The producers say they have signed a deal with a studio in Los Angeles, and the movie will come out in cinemas this Spring.

Also in the news section are the results of some investigations related to Bloodline: a handwriting analysis of some documents said to be from the hand of Berenger Sauniere, and also an archaeological opinion on artifacts uncovered during the filming of the documentary.