North Texas Skeptics Flashback, July 1992

It’s still July, right?  This was a busy month with a trip to The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas.  Now, just in time, a history flashback 20 years ago in July from the newsletter archives.

In the July 1992 newsletter, Pat Reeder covered global warming, currently referred to as “climate change”, and back then often referred to as “the greenhouse effect”.  It is interesting that the tone of the article leaned toward skepticism against the existence of human-caused climate change, mainly because of some inconsistencies in the evidence at that time.  Even a few years ago, many skeptics were on-the-fence about climate change.  Today, most skeptics in the movement are pretty convinced by the evidence that there is anthropogenic climate change.  To examine the evidence yourself, check out sites like the National Center for Science Education‘s Climate Change 101, and Skeptical Science.

Another story briefly covered the local television minister, Robert Tilton, who was in the middle of lawsuits over his healing claims.  Tilton was accused of swindling his followers into sending him money to heal them through their prayer requests that they would mail to Tilton’s organization.  Investigations found that Tilton took the money, and the requests were thrown in the trash without being read.

Pat Reeder wrapped up his section with a news roundup of various national articles about witches, astrologers, and Elvis sightings.

Long time NTS member John Blanton described his investigation into local practitioners of the Gerson therapy diet.  John attended a lecture on healing through Gerson therapy, and describes the basic claims of the therapy and reports about some of the people he spoke with at the lecture.  You can read more about Max Gerson, his claims, and the risks on Wikipedia.

Dan Phelps covered Reverend Carl Baugh, a young Earth creationist who claimed to find human footprints next to famous dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River basin in Glen Rose, TX.  Baugh established the Creation Evidence Museum in a trailer outside of Dinosaur Valley National Park in Glen Rose.  In the museum he displays his claimed evidence for a young Earth, including evidence of the coexistence of man with the dinosaurs. Dan visited the museum and reported what he found there.

Check out the full July 1992 newsletter for all the details.


Skepticism 101

Skepticism 101 BannerAre you new to the skeptic movement?  Are you looking for material to educate others about skepticism and critical though?  Need a refresher?  The Skeptics Society has a new Skepticism 101 resource section of their website.  It is a collection of recommended books, courses, papers, presentations, etc.  The material can be used in classes or for self-study.  The collection can be searched by topic, by resource type, by academic discipline, and by academic level.  Check it out.

There is also extra background information about the resource center from Michael Shermer in his blog post, How to Learn to Think Like a Scientist (Without Being a Geek) .

Welcome to Science

Zen Pencils, Welcome to Science, Phil Plait

Welcome to Science

There are a number of web comics that promote skeptical thinking and science; prominent examples are xkcd and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  Recently, I discovered Zen Pencils which started in February 2012.  The general theme of the Zen Pencils is to illustrate inspirational quotes from famous people.  The most recent installment is Welcome to Science which quotes Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer.   The full quote comes from a speech Phil gave at a science fair in 2005.  It captures well what the skeptic movement and science advocacy are about.

Skeptical comics are not a recent phenomenon.  North Texas Skeptics has been publishing comics as part of their publications dating all the way back in the 1980’s.  You can find the comics in the newsletters archived on this web site, and there is a collection of some comics on the Cartoons page.


North Texas Skeptics Flashback, June 1992

North Texas Skeptics FlashbackThe North Texas Skeptics has a long history, much of it recorded in newsletters dating back to 1987.  The newsletter archives are available on this site, and this article highlights some of the news from 20 years ago this month.  I hope to make this a regular post each month to review the way things were, and I suspect much of the same woo from 20 years ago is still around today.

In the June 1992 newsletter the article, The Third Eye, covers reports about UFOs and aliens on TV and on the computer bulletin boards.  This was a time when the World Wide Web was not available (not until 1993), and most of the population was not on the Internet.  Dial-up services like AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy were places where many people communicated digitally.  You’ll see references to Prodigy in the article.

Ross Perot with AlienThis year, 2012, is an election year in the U.S., and the 4 year cycle means 20 years ago was also politically active.  There is a light hearted article which asks the question, Is Ross Perot an Alien?.  Ross Perot was running for president, and Perot’s Alliance Airport in Fort Worth was relatively new at that time. Was Alliance Airport built as a spaceport for alien visitors?

There is a review of a new age mail order company in Magic by Mail.  The company, Pyramid Books and New-Age Collection had operators standing by 24 hours a day to take the orders of “the uncritical and unquestioning across America”.  A quick search reveals that they are still around today in the Internet age as The Pyramid Collection, even with the same phone number as in the article.  They do seem to be more fashion focused today, but you can still get crystals, tarot cards, books about Chakras.

Check out the newsletter for all the details.