Taking a leaf from the UK Skeptic, we’re turning our news clippings into a column. Which means I get to read them – never used to before! Many thanks to all those who’ve sent in material, and please keep it coming.
Luck of the Dragon
Visiting Malaysian woman Lillian Too got herself and her range of Feng Shui jewellery in The Evening Post on Wednesday 30 and in the Dominion the next day. In a half page spread she chats about how Feng Shui is much, much more than making sure the loo is not by the front entrance and the bed not in a coffin position. It’s also about having your mind in balance. Readers will be pleased to learn that Stephen Hawking is a dragon and tiger brain genius who practises inner Feng Shui. Everyone can be a winner, particularly if they buy one of Too’s dragon headed, tortoise-bodied rings to wear. For instant wealth one should buy an Arowana fish symbol. (It doesn’t say whose wealth we’re talking about here – a three-legged toad costs from $733 and a dragon bangle $6999.)
On the subject of adornments, a Malaysian man has discovered he has magnetic power – the ability to hold metallic objects to his body without using his hands.
Liew Thow Lin, 69, dressed only in his trousers, featured in The Dominion on Monday 31 July with a handful of forks sticking to his ample belly. Also attached was what appeared to be an iron holding up three bricks. Very handy if he runs out of shelf space in the garden shed.
Eyewitness Evidence Questioned
Something most of us have known for a while – The Evening Post carried a report on Thursday 10 August stating wrongful convictions could be more common than previously thought.
Two Victoria University researchers say false identification of suspects by eyewitnesses is the problem. In the United States, mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for 80 percent of wrongful convictions.
Psychology senior lecturer Maryanne Garry and masters student Kellie Fitzmaurice have received $12 000 to apply the US research to this country. They will also seek to identify people in prisons who may have been wrongly convicted.
Find yourself howling at the moon? You may have lunar fever. A Timaru rest home has undertaken three months’ research into the effects of the moon on its 37 residents. They found some lunar cycle links, The Evening Post reported on Wednesday 26 July.
One resident becomes incontinent only at the full moon and others became more aggressive at that time. However, Strathallan Life Care Village manager Jan Hide has since discovered the need to conduct such studies for a longer period of time with fewer people in order to detect accurate trends. So to keep scientists happy (who like things in black and white) Hide will carry it on for a further six months. There may be something to this, says she who often becomes grumpy near a full moon. Watch this space for results.
Former Victoria University education professor Adrienne Alton-Lee has been awarded $90,000 by the Employment Court, the NZ Herald reported on Friday 21 July.
The row was over a postgraduate student who claimed to have experienced interplanetary travel. Dr Alton-Lee challenged faculty staff who wanted to send the student out to teach in a school. Chief Judge Tom Goddard ordered the university to pay $11 735 which had been withheld from the second year’s funding of Dr Alton-Lee’s research (she financed this by selling her house), $25 000 for stress, $10 000 for loss of advancement and $15 000 because a premature announcement concerning her contract was made.
The student was in fact sent out to a school and only lasted one day when she continued to assert she had just returned to Earth…
Selma the Serpent Won’t Be Hurt Scientists Promise
The hunt is on for Nessie’s cousin – The Evening Post (Thursday 3 August) reported an international team of monster hunters have unveiled a giant trap for catching a serpent in a lake in Norway.
The trap, comprising a metal frame with nylon netting, will be lowered into Seljord lake full of live whitefish to catch Selma the Serpent. If Selma falls for it, she will be checked out by two University of Oslo biologists, who were on standby with a helicopter and good intentions.
“We’ll take a DNA sample, document the serpent and then release it into the lake. We will be very careful not to hurt it.” Selma was first spotted around 1750.
Same Old New Age
Dream catchers, acupuncture, palmistry and spiritual surgery were all the go in Tauranga recently during the Healthy Life Expo, says the Bay Of Plenty Times (Monday 8 August.)
Acupuncturist Neil Denyer treated a local for sinus problems and palm reader Peace Life saw some good things in the hands of a client. Times reporter Val Sherriff was sent to check it out and discovered all this and more being demonstrated to hundreds of Tauranga folk.
Organisers said things had been very busy and would have continued that way if not for the Saturday footie game which drew people away (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the ethereal music supplied by Jeff Clarkson.)
Cereology Comes Full Circle
A British researcher has come up with another theory about one of the world’s lingering mysteries – crop circles are the result of the earth’s magnetic fields.
According to The Evening Post of Friday 11 August fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic fields lead to corn fields being “electrocuted”, collapsing in patterns. The paper says the researcher is funded by an American billionaire who is well known for his paranormal beliefs. Colin Andrews acknowledged that some 80 percent of the designs were caused by hoaxes with lawn rollers.
“The other 20 percent remain quite another thing.”
The piece goes on to say Andrews couldn’t explain why only corn would be zapped and not other crops, nor why no circles were discovered before 1981.
Doug Bower, the man who claims to be Britain’s original crop circle creator, said he made his first design in 1978 after leaving a pub. Media attention to his work took a little time to catch on, he says. Since then, around 10,000 crop circles have been charted around the world, including New Zealand.
Finally, The Dominion (Thursday August 31) reported new Nelson-Marlborough health board director Mere Wetere is frightened for herself and her family following a Maori curse being placed on her.
It says the curse was placed on Ms Wetere by a woman at a hui at Nelson’s Whakatu Marae the day after she was appointed to the board by Health Minister Annette King.
Ngati Tama representative John Mitchell said the curse was used by a tohunga or priest to bring pain, bad luck, misadventure or even death to the victim. He doubted anyone in the district could be regarded as a serious practitioner of traditional Maori ways and questioned why the curse had been placed on Ms Wetere when she had no control over the appointment process. The power of such curses to do real harm was apparently taken for granted by all concerned.