Pro Factoids - Vol. 5 No. 5

The Vietnam government is studying whether psychics can help families find the remains of missing soldiers. Psychics claim they've been asked to help find over 2000 missing soldiers and have been successful in about 70% of the cases. An April 17 report on National Public Radio's morning news program All Things Considered featured one family and their story of how a psychic helped them find the grave of a missing brother.

According to the report, a university professor and his brother sought help from a psychic after their father had unsuccessfully searched cemeteries all over Vietnam for the grave. The psychic “talked” with the dead brother, who answered (through the voice of the psychic), giving specific details of the grave's location, including the town, cemetery and particular grave (the third one from the end).

When the family and the psychic went to the cemetery, they were at first confused. The family “felt” the presence of their brother one grave site over from the grave the psychic had first indicated. So the psychic again contacted the dead brother, who explained that the first grave was that of a young girl; his was the third soldier's grave. This confusion settled, the family then “tested” the authenticity of the grave. This was done by the 75 year-old father who placed a chopstick into the ground over the grave and attempted to stand an egg on its end. Normally an egg will not balance on the end of a chopstick, that is, the family explained, unless the dead relative helps to balance it there. The egg stayed. With that confirmation, the family had the body reinterred near their home. The family reports feeling at peace now, knowing they have at last found their dead brother.

No forensic tests were conducted on the remains.

Sharks do, in fact, get cancer reported scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (Science, April 14, 2000; Random Samples, p. 259). Although the cancer rate in sharks is low, researchers found “at least 40 cancer cases in sharks and their close relatives ... The cases included three cartilage cancers.”

In the mid-1990s William Lane, who holds a patent on a shark cartilage potion, wrote the popular book Sharks Don't Get Cancer. Shark cartilage powders and pills became a popular fad for staving off cancer. It also became a lucrative business for purveyors of alternative remedies despite the lack of evidence for its effectiveness.

News media and UFOlogists in Illinois received reports of UFO sightings early in the morning of January 5, 2000. Witnesses reported seeing “a bright star ... awful low for a star” writes Philip Klass, former editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology, in the March issue of Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN). Klass quotes eye-witness accounts who said it was “two or three stories high...with many windows and a very bright light...” and another witness who reported “...two gigantic lights...all of a sudden was one large, bright it changed into kind of like an elongated cigar shape ...southeast of me...It was stationary the entire time.” Several of the witnesses were law enforcement officers.

“By a curious coincidence,” writes Klass, “a very bright planet Venus was just rising in the southeast on January 5 at the time of the Illinois UFO sightings.” Klass refers readers to The UFO Handbook (1979) by Allan Hendry, then the director of the Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFON). Hendry investigated 1,307 UFO reports and concluded nearly 28% were bright planets or stars.

“Starlight can be refracted into a rapid sequence of colors. Red, white and blue are the most common,” Hendry wrote. Hendry also investigated the professional backgrounds of individuals submitting UFO reports and found “law-enforcement officers had the worst record: 94% of their UFOs turned out to be IFOs [identified flying objects]” writes Klass.

Neither the witnesses, many whom have become celebrities on local radio and TV, nor the UFO researchers have accepted Venus as an explanation for the January 5 sightings.

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