The Skeptic Digest
Subject: Skeptical Digest 17.2-3 (Summer and Autumn 2004)
Date: December 5th 2004
>>>Skeptical Digest 17.2-3 (Summer and Autumn 2004)
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>>>CONTENTS>>> >>>Skeptical Stats>>>Dubious News>>>In this issue>>>Administrivia>>>Skeptics in the Pub>>>
- Amount Comcast pays per year for content to carry to TV cable subscribers: $4 billion
- Amount Comcast bid to acquire Disney on February 11: $66 billion
- Percentage accuracy claimed by Seattle's Relationship Research Institute in predicting the success of marriages: 94
- Number of Barbie dolls sold worldwide every second: 3
- Amount the typical British family spends raising a child: £140,000
- Britain's rank in spending on children across Europe: 1
- Percentage of prints lifted at crime scenes from knife hilts, guns, and windows panes that are palms, not fingers: at least 30
- Average number of crimes committed per year per New York burglar: 300 to 400
- Date on which a Bangladeshi tribalwoman was swallowed by a python: 21 November 2003
- Number of priests accused by children of sexual abuse in the US between 1950 and 2002: 4,450
- Number of carats in a 'diamond star' 1,500 km across, 50 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus: 10 billion trillion trillion
- Amount, pro rata, JK Rowling earned last year per word of The Order of the Phoenix: £388
- Rowling s position in the list of the UK's top 500 earners: 5
- Monthly cost of membership in the Astronaut Autograph of the Month Club, proceeds to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation: $49.95
- Number of memberships available: 350
- Percentage of the UK public who believe the UK should not implement the Kyoto Protocol if doing so would harm Britain's economy: 57
- Number of women who die each week in Britain at the hands of their spouses or partners: 2
- Year when Hubble will prematurely die, since NASA has announced it will cease servicing missions to the telescope: 2007
- Cost per minute of calls to Russell Grants Interactive Astrology line: 60p
- Cost of Grant s packages of computerised horoscopes, psychic tarot readings, dream interpretations, and numerological analyses: £3.99 to £29.99
- Amount of water available per person per year in Kuwait: 10 m^2
- Amount available per person per year in French Guiana: 812,121 m^2
- Rank of UK out of 122 countries surveyed for water quality and availability: 4
- Rank of Belgium on same survey: 122
- Amount by which global water availability is expected to drop over the next 20 years: a third
- Number of cattle tested for BSE in the UK in 2003: 394,685
- Number that tested positive for BSE: 373
- Number of Britons who stay indoors on Friday the 13th to avoid risking danger or bad luck: 1.3 million
- Drop in number of pairs of house sparrows in Britain over the last 30 years: from 12 million to fewer than 7 million
- Number of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets in 2003: 3,838
- Number of influential scientists who signed a February 2004 statement asserting that the Bush administration had systematically distorted science fact in the service of policy goals: 60
- New character added to Morse Code in February 2004: @ (.--.-.)
- Number of years since last character was added: at least 50
- Annual turnover of Boiron, maker of a line of 1,500 homeopathic remedies: $270 million
- Amount two New York-based companies have agreed to pay in consumer redress for claims that their devices blocked harmful radiation from cellphones and video display units: $85,000
- Amount of grant given to Lena Skarning by the Norwegian government to fund her business. Forest Witch Magic Consulting: £4,500
- Distance the average American forkful of food travels to reach its consumer: l,500 miles
- Number of Asians killed each year by air pollution: more than 500,000
- Percentage of American adults who believe God is female: 1
- Speed at which retired Fife headmaster Archibald Lawrie believes the position of each sub-atomic particle is recorded in a vast universal "memory system': 14,000 times the speed of light
- Date when Arnaud Mussy, leader of Nantes' New Lighthouse sect, expected the world to end: October 2002
- Date when former Wimbledon champion Margaret Smith Court was awarded an honorary Bachelor of Law degree by the US's Oral Roberts University: May 2001
- Number of companies on New York investment house SalomonSmithBarney's 1999-2000 list of 15 companies expected to out-perform the market over the following 12 months that went bankrupt amid accusations of corporate fraud by mid-2002: 2
- Number of chains, out of a possible 160, completed in one of Stanley Milgram's famous "six degrees of separation" studies: 44
- Price of sending a message to the dead via the Web-site Afterlife Telegrams via terminally ill volunteers: $5 a word (five-word minimum)
- Number of messengers the site currently has available: 1
- Amount a Jesus Christian could be fined for going through with the sect's offer to donate a kidney to a stranger, for free: £2,000 and three months in prison
- Amount of time by which Irving Tobin lagged in his daily reading of the entire New York Times in December 2003: one year, five months, and four days
- Price of Craig Hamilton-Parker's What to do when you are Dead, a "travel guide to the afterlife": £11.99 plus P&P
- Fraction of US gross domestic product that is accounted for by consumer credit: two-thirds
>>>People in this country love to recommend arnica for any injury from a mild bruise to a broken leg. We don't just mean friends, fellow club members, and casual acquaintances met on the street. We mean physiotherapists and doctors, too. Yet, given that arnica is a homeopathic formulation, the best we can say about it is that a little massage - as, say, you might have when someone rubs cream into a part of your body - never did anybody any harm and is known to help lots of different types of aches and pains. When it comes to reducing bruising, the thing arnica is supposed to be best at, you can see where massaging the affected area might help to disperse blood lurking at the suite. As it turns out, however, you can't even say that. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, arnica turned out to have no more effect than a placebo. Three groups of patients who were about to have surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, a quite painful inflammation of the wrist caused by overuse, were given, respectively, "high-potency" (30C) arnica tablets, "low-potency" (6C) arnica tablets, and a placebo. The patients kept pain diaries and recorded their use of painkillers, while researchers analyzed photographs of the patients' wrists, measured changes in swelling, and used computer software to measure exact shades of bruising. The result: no discernible difference among the three groups. Head researcher Professor Edzard Ernst suggested that arnica's reputation had come about because of "positive selection bias". In other words, people who recover quicker than others and say they took arnica give the stuff a good name. Just for counterbalance: we heal quickly, and we never touch the stuff.
>>>Early February saw a new menace in the skies: the phenomenon of the hyperreligious pilot. On Friday, February 6, passengers on American Airlines flight 34 from Los Angeles to New York were alarmed when the pilot, Roger Findiesen, asked all Christians on the flight to skip the movie and begin an interfaith dialogue with nonbelievers in seats nearby. After landing and hearing of complaints in the cabin. Findiesen reportedly apologized; the airline says it is investigating the incident. In fact, the story seems to have been that he had just been on a mission in Costa Rica and was filled with what you might call residual zeal. You have to admit that pilot proselytizing is technically harmless - we are reminded of Willie Nelson's famous aphorism that "Any landing you can walk away from is perfect" - but on the other hand, reports say that the mood in the cabin was extremely tense after Findiesen's exhortation, in part because a number of passengers thought Findiesen had lost his mind and was preparing them for death. In an exclusive interview with the American gay magazine The Advocate - which got the interview because its editor happened to be on board the plane - the pilot believed the mysterious disappearance of a problem with the braking system was a sign from God that he should use the PA system to talk about his Christian faith. Whether his comments were against the rules depends on the exact terms of American Airlines' rule book. But the best one can say was that it was an error of judgement. And good judgement, unfortunately, is the thing you most want a pilot to have. Well, that and good eyesight.
>>>The Daily Telegraph ran an obit detailing the life of Jack Temple, "homeopathic dowser healer", who died at 86 in late February and believed he could trace 120 previous lives and his origins back 97,000 years. His clients included Diana, Princess of Wales, the Duchess of York, and Cherie Booth. According to the Telegraph, central to Temple's theory (and practice) was dowsing (using a crystal pendulum), which he used to detect "weak spots" in the body's electromagnetic field. He believed that we begin with a particular energy level at birth, which is progressively sapped by illness, stress, "unnatural" foods, vaccinations, and even bottle feeding, which he thought disconnected the baby from its birth sign. (Don't you love the way all these different beliefs get jumbled up together?) Temple had on offer a vast collection of remedies, which were to be strapped to the body along meridian energy lines, and kept samples of clients' hair and fingernail clippings in alcohol-filled bottles so he could diagnose them remotely. He had expected to live to the age of 140. The most amusing story in the obit concerns his diagnosis that Diana, Princess of Wales, suffered from lead poisoning after seeing the way she bowed her head on TV. After he relayed this diagnosis to the Princess via the Duchess of York, the Princess confirmed that she had pierced her right cheek with a pencil as a schoolgirl, and the point had broken off in her cheek. He was able to extract the "poison" and help her hold up her head again. Apparently he managed this without ever discovering that pencils are made out of graphite, not lead.
>>>One of the great intrigues of the late 1990s and early 2000s has been the boom and bust of the dot-com bubble. Vernon Smith, a professor at Virginia's George Mason University, won a Nobel Prize in economics for developing theories about these types of movement. Smith set up his own market in a lab in which students from Purdue University and the University of Arizona could trade a phony security with a definite fair value, usually about $3. Despite knowing exactly what the security was worth, his students bid the price up to create a bubble until, eventually, enough traders began refusing to pay the premium price to crash the market. Rerunning the experiment with the same group formed a second, although smaller, bubble. A second rerun had the security largely trading at its real value. Smith went on to repeat these experiments multiple times, sometimes with graduate students and sometimes with finance professionals. Financiers, you will be maliciously pleased to know, created bigger bubbles than the students did. However, when it comes to the actual stock market, Smith points out that big drops don't happen twice in rapid sequence. Historically since 1926, he told Forbes magazine, downturns are separated by at least two years. He doesn't expect another bubble until memories of this one have faded. We're tempted to say, "Past performance is no indicator of future results." If the pace of change is getting faster - and the advent of electronic markets is making trading a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week hyperspeed phenomenon - those cycles, too, could shorten.
>>>Perhaps because the Atkins diet is currently such a cult phenomenon, the media seem to jump eagerly on any report that seems to discredit the low-carb, high-fat guru. February saw The Wall Street Journal check out the New York medical examiner's report and publish a claim that it pegged Atkins's weight at his death at 258 pounds - high enough, at his six-foot height, for his body-mass index to qualify him as obese. The newspaper also claimed he had a history of heart attacks and heart disease. All these claims were eagerly repeated by many other media. Atkins's widow, however, and a doctor from the Atkins Physicians Council objected first of all to the newspaper's having obtained the report, which they claimed was illegally sourced and then sent to the newspaper by doctors opposing the Atkins diet, and second of all to the details of the report. They claimed that Atkins in fact weighed a normal 200 pounds when he had the accident that put him in the coma that eventually led to his death, and the 58 additional pounds were due to fluid retention and bloating as his organs failed. He had developed cardiomyopathy, thought to have been caused by a virus, not by diet, about three years before his death, and did have a heart attack in April 2002, which he speculated openly might have been related to this known illness. This little incident does not reflect well on anyone. While death certificates are public record, medical records are not; Atkins's records should have been a private matter for his next-of-kin. If Atkins were obese during his lifetime, someone would surely have noticed. More important for our purposes, whether the Atkins diet is healthy needs to be established by good science, not by a single example, no matter how maliciously entertaining. It is undeniably true that there are seriously obese people who have lost weight on it. Which is unhealthier: the diet or the weight?
>>>The general panic that the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might be a cause of autism and bowel disorders began in 1998, when Dr Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet that raised the link. Unknown to The Lancet until a journalist made the allegation in February 2004 was the fact that Wakefield had also accepted £55,000 from the Legal Aid Board to investigate whether children allegedly damaged by the MMR vaccine could sue for compensation. In addition, some of the children used in his research also formed part of the Legal Aid Board study. Other than research by Wakefield and co-authors, studies conducted since have not confirmed the link. There have been several of these, including work by the Medical Research Council, a 14-year study of three million children in Finland, a major statistical analysis published in the British Medical Journal, and a new study at the Royal Free Hospital. Meantime, the rate of measles infection has been growing among the group usually most likely to take up vaccines - the educated middle class - as fears that the vaccine is dangerous have taken hold. The number of cases of measles reported per year has more than tripled since 1997; there were 360 in the first nine months of 2003.. Wakefield has, however, stuck to and repeated the claimed link over the years. In 2001, Wakefield left the Royal Free Hospital, where he was a reader when he published his original research but where funding for his work had been drying up, and took up a job at the International Child Development Resource Center in Florida as Director of Research. He is still there, as Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disorder Group. The Lancet now says it would not have run Wakefield's original study if the editors had known then about the conflict of interest. Richard Horton, the journal's editor, told the BBC that although he still believes there is a link between autism and bowel disease, he no longer believes there is any link between either and autism. It was reported last summer that some 1,500 families that claim their children suffered health problems after taking the faccine are planning to bring a class-action suit against GlaxoSmithKline, the largest manufacturer of the MMR vaccine.
>>>If you don't like something, change the name. In late January, the state of Georgia's school superintendent, Kathy Cox, proposed striking the word "evolution" from the state's biology curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time." You can see her point. Why take on angry parents if you can avoid the whole issue with a little judicious editing? According to CNN, the state's schools would still teach the concept of evolution, but they'd avoid the word in order to alleviate the pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas. After a work or two of increasing pressure on Cox from everyone from parents to former president Jimmy Carter, Cox alleviated the pressure on herself by recanting and saying she had misjudged the situation.
>>>As a second entry in the language category, we have the County of Los Angeles, which in November 2003 actually did request that vendors of computer equipment avoid the common industry term "Master/Slave" in product descriptions and labeling. If you're not familiar with this usage, it's commonly seen in explanations of how to connect up multiple hard drives and removable media drives (such as DVD and CD-ROM). The master is the primary drive; the slave the secondary drives. The fact that an explanation of these terms can be so compact makes it plain that in fact the terminology can be changed without great difficulty. The urban legend-busting site snopes.com went so far to check out this tale by calling the LA County Purchasing and Contract Services division. The story is true. And the reason is that a black employee of the county's Probation Department filed a discrimination complaint with the Office of Affirmative Action Compliance after spotting these labels on a videotape machine. So they had to do it. On the one hand, it seems a trivial matter; what matters is surely not the accurate use of language to describe a relationship between hard drives but the laws governing the treatment of human beings. On the other hand, given that the labels are so easy to change, what's the diff? Except, of course, to make the US look even more humorless and litigious to foreigners than it already did.
>>>Somehow we stumbled across the Web site of The Weekly (http://www.theweekly.co.uk), which seems to specialize in creative weirdness, some of it to do with science. One of the many features on its site is a sort of Doris Stokes emulator (http://theweekly.co.uk/4301/cooee_loves/). You think of a dead, famous person, and the site tries to guess who you're thinking of by asking a series of questions. It's clear from the questions themselves that whatever success the site has at doing this is based on that old familiar saw, population stereotypes. A lot of people must pick JFK, for example ("Has your assassination implausibly been attributed to a lone gunman?"), Abraham Lincoln, or Jayne Mansfield. "Doris" failed to spot our own pick, Katharine Hepburn, which leads us to believe that the page was created before Hepburn's death in 2003. We're not sure the site would fool anybody with its loaded questions, but working out how the questions branch through its knowledge base is a kind of mild geek entertainment. At our last visit, "Doris"'s accuracy was trailing the rest of the world by 3,713 to 4,464.
>>>As if there weren't enough spurious ways of reading personality in the shapes of body parts, a number of stories have come our way about the work of Liverpool University's John Manning, who has been measuring fingers. According to Manning, the genes which control the development of the fingers are the same genes which control the development of the testes and ovaries, and the development of the ring finger in particular is under the influence of testosterone. The consequence: men have longer ring fingers than women do. Women, he says, tend to have index and ring fingers that are roughly the same length. "Testosterone affects the development of the right side of the brain," he told Australia's ABC television. "The right side of the brain is where visual special ability is." Therefore, he concluded, the longer the ring finger, the greater the inherent sporting ability in games like football, where you have to judge distance and the consequences of kicking it. In other stories, such as one run by the Sunday Times, Manning has claimed that the relative lengths of the index and ring fingers provide clues to reading people's personalities. Risk-taking, communications skills, verbal aptitude, assertiveness, and fertility are, he claims, all traits that can be read this way. If that weren't enough, he also says that men with long ring fingers have a reduced risk of heart attack, and there are also links between finger length and breast cancer, autism, vulnerability to depression, and dyslexia. Finally, longer ring fingers on men's left hands tends to be correlated with their being gay. Maninng has laid out all this in a book called Digit Ratio, published by the Rutgers University Press as part of its human evolution series. According to R A Lippa, author of an article studying the relation between finger length and sexual orientation published in the July 2003 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, research into ring-to-index finger ratios is on the rise. Lippa's article suggests that gay men do indeed have shorter left ring fingers, but also notes that this pattern does not extend to lesbian women. He also says, we think significantly, "There is so much variation in 2D:4D ratios among men and among women - and among gay men, heterosexual men, lesbian women, and heterosexual women - that 2D:4D ratios are a very poor indicator of a person's sexual orientation. For that matter, 2D:4D ratios are also a poor indicator of whether a person is male or female." He goes on to say that the link between prenatal hormones and sexual orientation is not proven, and the factors leading to variations in finger length ratios are not understood. The thing about a single measure that is supposed to correlate to so many human traits is that the breadth and number of the claims makes our skeptidar twitch. The claim that the exact mix of hormones that wash over the developing fetus in its first trimester of growth has a profound effect on its development seems utterly logical. But the claim that this mix of hormones is reflected in ring-to-index finger ratios and lengths seems to us unprovable until or unless you have some way of sampling the in vitro hormone mix and correlating it to finger length later in life; you'd also need to prove the correlation between that in vitro mix and the various illnesses and personality traits. In addition, many factors shape personality: nature versus nurture is a long-running argument. We suspect that there will be milage in the sex hormones theory, but that measuring index fingers will go the way of measuring brains as a method of quantifying intelligence.
>>>Historical novels have always had to tread a fine line between historical accuracy and telling a good story. Or, as the New York Times pointed out recently, in the case of The Da Vinci Code, a fine line between pseudohistorical accuracy and telling a good story. Much of what Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown claims as "fact" is in fact lifted from a group of other books, primarily Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (whose own sales have been lifted by the popularity of the Dan Brown thriller). Reviewer Laura Miller points out that one of the keys to Brown's thriller's success is its use of bits of "non-fiction" that gives the book what she calls its "frisson of authenticity". However, she says, both books are based on the notorious hoax concerning a group called the Priory of Sion, founded in Jerusalem in 1099. A small cache of fabricated clippings planted by a man named Pierre Plantard in the Bibliothèque Nationale was responsible for this society's later favor among conspiracy theorists as a nine-centuries-old vehicle for world dominance. In fact, Miller notes, the Priory of Sion was a small group of friends founded in 1956. Several French books and a 1996 BBC documentary debunked the hoax, but like all good conspiracy theories, apparently it refuses to die.
>>>We hadn't heard of Boiron, which claims to be "world leader" in homeopathy with a 20 percent market share, until it sent out a press release claiming that its Oscillococcinum "homeopathic medicine", which sells in a box of six doses for $11.65 (it says here) had been shown in clinical studies to decrease the duration and intensity of flu symptoms. You are supposed, they tell us, to take it at the first sign of flu. The press release is intended for a US audience, and so it notes that Oscillococcinum is regulated by the FDA and that it is "widely used in Europe". We looked up the product in a couple of online shops, and noted that the product information warns that because the pills contain sugar they are not suitable for diabetics. Since the press release also advised that Boiron is a public company listed on the French stock exchange since 1987, it occurred to us that it was time we knew a little more about the companies behind alternative medicine; they are getting bigger and more influential day by day. To be sure, they're not in a class with Big Pharma: GlaxoSmithKline has 14.8 times the revenues ($40.09 billion). Still, the company has been growing steadily - sales up 7.9 percent in 2002 (the last year for which its annual report is available) over 2001, with further growth in the first half of 2003. Its biggest market is France, which accounts for 68 percent of its sales, but it also has substantial operations in the rest of Europe, primarily Italy and Spain. The US represents about 63 percent of the 8.5 percent of its net income that derives from North America; the Caribbean and Canada divide the rest about equally. Its US income grew 12.7 percent in 2002, its fastest-growing market outside of France (where its net income grew by 22.5 percent). The Boiron family holds 64.1 percent of the voting rights. So far, the market for homeopathy is small - 0.3 percent of the world pharmaceutical market, according to Boiron's 2002 annual report, with the self-medication (non-prescription) market accounting for 13.4 percent. The company's corporate plan is simple but alarming: "For each physician in the world to integrate homeopathic medicines into daily practice." To this end, it finances the Boiron Institute, which was set up in 1985 and now counts 150 physicians in more than 30 countries. The company spends approximately 2 to 3 percent of its annual sales on research.
>>>IN THIS ISSUE OF THE SKEPTIC (17.2-3, Summer and Autumn 2004)
- The Truth about Rendlesham (James Easton) Britain's Roswell? (Dr David Clarke) The Rendlesham Incident: Some lessons for UFOlogy (Jenny Randles) Forgive Us Our Trespasses (Peter Brookesmith) Reflections on a Rendlesham Skywatch (Andy Marriott)
- Editorial (Julia Nunn and Chris French) Hilary Evans's Paranormal Picture Gallery Hits and Misses Skeptic at large... (Wendy M. Grossman) Rhyme and Reason (Steve Donnelly) Philosopher's Corner (Julian Baggini) Sprite (Donald Rooum) ASKE News Letters
- Why We Exist: Inferences from Science for an explanation of Human Purpose by Eugene Bell-Gam Hoaxes, Myths and Manias by Robert E Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi Pseudoscience and the Paranormal by Terence Hines Fifty Key Thinkers in Psychology by Noel Sheehy The Scientific Study of Society by Max Steuer How Mumbo Jumbo Took Over the World by Francis Wheen Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe by Victor J Stenger Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid by Robert J Sternberg (Editor)
>>>SOURCES FOR SKEPTICAL STATS>>> 1,2 CNBC; 3 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3484981.stm; 4 Mattel; 5,6 Centre for Economics and Business Research; 7,8 The New York Times; 9 Reuters; 10 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (via CNN); 11 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (BBC); 12,13 Sunday Times; 14,15 Kennedy Space Center press release; 16 Hyperphysics, Georgia State University; 17 BBC; 18 The New York Times; 19,20 Sky Digital, www.live-astro.com; 21,22,23,24,25 The World Water Development Report, March 2003; 26,27 DEFRA statistics; 28 Office of National Statistics (via Harrah's Entertainment press release); 29 DEFRA statistics; 30 Israeli government statistics; 31 The New York Times; 32,33 http://www.cjonline.com/stories/021704/pag_morsecode.shtml; 34 Boiron corporate documents; 35 Federal Trade Commission; 36 BBC; 37 The New Yorker; 38 Business Week, 39 Harris Interactive; 40 Sunday Times; 41 Sunday Times; 42 Sunday Telegraph Wimbledon guide; 43 Personal archives; 44 The Times; 45,46 http://www.afterlifetelegrams.com; 47 The Guardian Weekend; 48 The New Yorker; 49 http://www.psychics.co.uk/shopuk/book-what-to-do-when-dead-uk.html; 50 Federal Trade Commission
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>>>SKEPTICS IN THE PUB>>> Skeptics in the Pub meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7:30pm at the Old King's Head, 45 Borough High Street, London (nearest tube: London Bridge). The entry fee is £2 to cover the guest speaker's travelling expenses and sundries. Free sandwiches and chips are provided first-come, first-served, at 7.00pm. Non- skeptics welcome. Turn up at any time during the night. Detailed directions, a list of upcoming speakers and a map of how to get to the pub can be found at http://www.skeptic.org.uk/pub.
Thursday 16th December 2004: Geoffrey Dean, "Challenges in Behavioural Research: Astrology meets Meta-Analysis"
Thursday 20th January 2005: To be announced.
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Further information and mailing list announcements available from ...@skeptic.org.uk">p...@skeptic.org.uk or Nick Pullar at (07740) 450950. Suggestions for speakers or offers to speak are gladly welcomed.
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