A Load of Old Rope

IN an article entitled “Unravelling The Indian Rope-trick”, in Nature, English researchers Richard Wiseman and Peter Lamont describe their systematic investigation of one of the world’s best known paranormal exhibitions. There are many accounts, some first-hand, yet when investigators have searched for performances of the trick, even offering rewards, no one has come forward with a demonstration.

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Forum

LET us be clear. We think skeptics are the most witty, pithy and intelligent of people. The type who can get their profound insights across in 300 lively, well-chosen words. We insist you prove us right by flooding us with splendid examples of the genre. The author of the best contribution in each issue will receive a suitable telepathic gift. The worst example will earn an unsuitable telepathic gift. Here are the rules

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George Errington

THE committee notes with sadness the sudden death of George Errington. George and his wife Helen joined NZCSICOP in 1986 and have been active, enthusiastic members. He was a “behind the scenes” worker who shunned the limelight. For that reason, his loss is perhaps particularly keenly felt by the Secretary; he gave his time and creative and engineering skills generously to the increasingly onerous task of preparing this newsletter for distribution. His last contribution to the New Zealand Skeptics was to assist in devising a new system for managing our growing membership and subscription list. He will be greatly missed.

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Comets

THE other day I was doing a spot of painting with the help of a friend. She was telling me about a fancy dress party she’d gone to, and how some friends had dressed up all in green, as aliens.

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Patterning

THE line which sharply demarks mainstream medicine from alternative medicine is the line of science. It is possible to cross that line, however. Any alternative treatment which is tested in a rigorous scientific manner and found to be safe and effective will be incorporated into mainstream medicine; it will have crossed the line.

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Basket Case, or The Affair of the Disembodied Head

EARLY in 1996 Mrs Carol McDonald and her family of Halswell, near Christchurch, were party to an apparent supernatural event, an event that became quite topical at Mrs McDonald’s workplace, the Canterbury Agriculture and Science Centre at Lincoln. This centre is home to a number of Crown Research Institutes, including the home offices of Landcare Research Ltd. and Crop and Food Research Ltd., branches of AgResearch and HortResearch, and a number of smaller organisations.

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Playing with Fire

AROUND 40 years ago, at Hull Fair in England, I saw a man dip his fingers in molten lead. He also poured it into his palm and ran it through his fingers. He seemed to suffer no harm although it was real lead; I found a solidified splash and checked. In my vacations I used to work for one of the showmen at the fair, so I found my boss. “That fellow with the molten lead, why doesn’t he burn his hands?”

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