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$50,000 Paranormal Challenge

IIG Public Update #22

September 2009

On August 15th, we had our annual IIG Barbecue, and we have the pictures to prove it.

Yes, that's mentalist Mark Edward with us. Mark is an impassioned skeptic best remembered for being the "fake" psychic on the very first episode of "Bullshit." Mark entertained us with a presentation on mind-reading, and then filled us in on the inside dirt in the magic world. Apparently, it's all tricks!


Our expose on the Nursing Board's shenanigans will be published soon in "Skeptical Inquirer," after which IIG fans can read an un-expurgated version here. In the meantime, KCET – our local PBS affiliate – gave the story some legs.

Now, we are going back to the new board with our old complaint, in hopes that they will be reasonable.

For a fresh perspective on this issue, check out Kathy J. Sackman's article in the Los Angeles Times. The IIG is, of course, apolitical. We just want the government to uphold science.


Skeptical Inquirer has published its article on the third annual IIG Awards. Since the article is not available on-line yet, rather than link to it, we will ask you to subscribe to the magazine.

And yes, the awards ceremony will be available on DVD. Stay tuned to www.iigwest.org/iigawards for updates.


Anita Ikonen has returned to the IIG, this time with a revised claim of paranormal medical diagnosis. Anita claims that she can psychically determine whether or not someone has had a kidney removed by looking at them. The IIG is digesting her proposed protocol for testing this latest claim and we hope to have Ms. Ikonen in Los Angeles for a preliminary test before the year is out.


Colorado's own Gary G. has approached us again with same claim he had two years ago:

I am able to detect a block of aluminum concealed in a box with a black cloth covering the top of the box.

We asked the most logical question:

HOW did you ever come to find you had this ability? I mean, at what point did you have a mirror-box or a cube of aluminum in a box, and had to figure out where it was using only psychic powers?

We have re-activated his application, and renewed protocol negotiations.


Sick of celebrities pushing an anti-science agenda by ginning up opposition to childhood vaccines? The IIG's own Derek Bartholomaus strikes back with his new website "Jenny McCarthy Body Count" where Derek chronicles the number of deaths and preventable illnesses caused by failure to vaccinate.

Already the website has gotten considerable attention, including a shout out from Phil Plait on his Discover Magazine blog, and an interview on the Skepticality podcast. But here's the kicker – the site is so popular that a Google search for "Jenny McCarthy" brings up the body count as the sixth highest ranked site out of 3 million.

The only question remaining is what's worse, exacerbating a public health crisis, or writing and starring in "Dirty Love?"


Speaking of skeptical websites created by members of the IIG... Check out Hollywood Reality Check, the blog of IIG Chair James Underdown.  There's a lot of crazy stuff happening in Los Angeles, and James keeps an eye on all of it.  You can also hear him regularly as "The Hollywood Skeptic" on SETI's Are We Alone? radio show and podcast.


An appearance by Healing Touch "practitioner" Deborah Caswell at UCLA last May prompted the IIG to contact the UCLA skeptics organization BASS to explore ways to protest the presentation of pseudo-medicine to UCLA students and nurses.

Ms. Caswell, a RN and Nurse Practitioner who should know better, demonstrated how to "assess chakras" by interpreting the movements of a pendulum held over the body of a patient. Caswell claims to be able to "feel" human energy with her hands from a foot away and to manipulate the energy for healing purposes.

Now that students are back for the Fall quarter, the IIG will be working with BASS to develop a plan of action that may include an expose in the UCLA Bruin newspaper as well as a formal protest to the UCLA regents.


Several new reports on old investigations have made it out of the IIG vault, and onto the webpage. Huge thanks to IIG member Don Chesebro for posting these. Enjoy the following:

Carl David Ritchie - The Missouri Dowser

Antranik "Anto" Kizirian - The Quantum Touch Healer

Brough Perkins - Psychic Medium


Don't forget, Labor Day, Library Card Sign-Up Month, Women's History Month, International Literacy Day (September 8th), and National Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th). It will also be the thirteenth anniversary of the first "Onion" article to reference skepticism.


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