When wildfires went through the hills around Malibu, California, Shirley MacLaine and other residents were out hosing down their roofs. In case the fires came too close, MacLaine had packed several suitcases of her belongings, including pictures from her childhood and her 13,000 past-lives, reported the October 23, 1996 Salem's Statesman Journal.

     If you are so rich you don't know what to do with all your money, you might try taking it with you when you die. For a minimum $130,000 investment, Prometh in Liechtenstein offers a conservative portfolio available as "seed capital for your next life." To redeem your investment, you must claim it within 23 years after your death in this life. Confirmation that it is going to the right person will require the reincarnate to know personal information about this life, reports the October 21, 1996, Newsweek.

     In November, 200 people attending the UFO Phenomena Conference in Philadelphia listened to Alfred Bielek tell his two-hour version of the "Philadelphia Experiment." According to this legend the warship, the USS Eldridge, mysteriously disappeared one August night in 1943. Some believe the ship broke into a time continuum and sailed into the 1980s.

     Bielek, who claimed a physics degree from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Harvard by the age of 22 - neither school has heard of him - told how he was working on a secret government project called "Project Invisible" in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard the night the ship disappeared. While the science used on the project was described as too complicated to explain, according to Bielek, when the ship reappeared two minutes later "two sailors were buried in the deck ... the molecular structure of their bodies was intermingled with the molecules of the steel in the deck ... They were dying."

     Bielek claims he was transported ahead in time to 1983 to investigate the accident, but was then punished by the government for knowing too much. He lost his memory of the events and only began to regain them in the 1980s after seeing the movie The Philadelphia Experiment.

     The Navy calls all versions of this urban legend "apocryphal stories" and wishes the believers would go away. They have had so many calls about the stories they put out a fact sheet saying they have never done experiments on invisibility and that scientist do not believe such things are even possible. Another fact sheet, this one put out by Navy Lt. Comdr. Rob Raine, says the Navy did conduct tests on methods to make ships harder to detect with radar and to reduce their magnetic fields, making them less likely to trigger mines. Dan Van Keuren, a naval historian, says the shipyard was also part of the highly secret wartime bomb building effort. In fact, there was a bomb explosion there in 1944 which killed two men.

     According to the November 24, Knight-Ridder report, Bielek's receptive audience "had just sat unflinchingly through a speaker telling them the pyramids on Mars point to the secret of the universe, which is known and being kept under wraps by NASA. And that NASA is not doing science at all, but is performing obscure Masonic rituals."

     Those little eight inch UFOs - the kind that reportedly make carpet circles instead of crop circles - are back in the news. According to the November, 1996 Skeptics UFO Newsletter, a Florida woman, Lynne Plaskett, appeared on television with well-known UFO author, Budd Hopkins, and described how she had been cured of T-cell lymphoma when a mini-UFO flew in her bedroom window and hovered over her in 1975.

     In fact, according to an article by Preston Dennett titled "UFO Healings" in the October, 1996 MUFON UFO Journal, more than 100 UFO abductees say they have been healed of everything from cancer to warts. The healings have reportedly occurred aboard UFOs, at home, outside and in hospitals. Philip Klass (Skeptics UFO Newsletter, November, 1996) suggests if ETs can be induced to abduct persons with medical problems they may offer a solution to rising Medicare costs, but he wonders if they carry medical malpractice insurance.

     The Hale-Bopp comet, now visible in the eastern morning sky but not due to reach its closest approach to Earth until late March, is being trailed by numerous conspiracy theories and has been hailed as an alien space ship, an angel, and a sign of fulfilled prophecies. One "proof" it is an alien spaceship is that it has reportedly "changed course." Alan Hale, one of the comet's discoverers, explains this "evidence" arises from a lack of understanding of how science works. In an interview with Associated Press December 3, Hale explained that when the comet was first discovered astronomers tried to quickly fix its path with the limited data available. As more data became available its path was recalculated more accurately.

     The evolving evidence for the conspiracy can easily be tracked on a web site hosted by Texan Chuck Shramek, which has links to related sites. It can be found at: this link

     The Kentucky based religious ministry, Answers in Genesis, held a February 16 "seminar" at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis to help people puzzled about such things as dinosaurs. According to the October, 1996 Cincinnati Skeptic, this is the same group that is purchasing 40 acres of agricultural land near Big Bone Lick State Park in Boone County, Kentucky and plans to build the "Genesis Park" - a theme park with a "creation science" museum and "family discovery center."

     The Kentucky State Parks Department and local citizen's groups have been promoting Big Bone Lick Park, a rich archeological and paleontological area, as a site for an interpretive center with an active research and a museum. They hope to increase tourism and economic development in the area. Local residents are protesting the theme park on the grounds of local zoning laws. Will Oregonians need to watch for theme parks around the John Day Fossil Beds?

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 2001 Oregonians for Rationality