CSICOP and the Mars Effect

Thanks Jim Lippard

 

 

From: lippard@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu (James J. Lippard) Newsgroups: sci.skeptic Subject: Re: Is Gauquelin's Mars effect real? Date: 25 Jan 1994 14:10 MST Organization: University of Arizona Lines: 151 Distribution: world Message-ID: <25JAN199414101265@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> References: <2i2amk$jp4@harbinger.cc.monash.edu.au>

In article <2i2amk$jp4@harbinger.cc.monash.edu.au>, quantum@yoyo.cc.monash.edu.au (Damien Pope) writes... :Hi, I'm sure this topic has been discussed before but I'm a bit new to :skepticism and thus don't know much about it. What I would like to know :is whether Gauquelin's Mars effect is real or not. I want to know :whether there is a statistically significant correlation between the :birth dates of champion athletes with energetic, aggressive, couragous :personalities :and the prominance of the planet Mars in the sky ( or it being on the :rise or whatever astrology says a planet must be doing to influence :people's personalities when they are born ). I'm not going to answer whether or not there is a real effect, but it is certainly true that a number of studies have found a statistically significant correlation. : I am also interested in CSICOP's testing of Gauquelin's claim. I :have heard that they deliberately rigged the test so that it would not :show Gauquelin's correlation. I have also heard that some committee :members of CSICOP such as Dennis Rawlins resigned from CSICOP over there :bad handling of the test. Is it true that CSICOP made mistakes in there :testing of Gauquelin's claim? Were they deliberate or not?

Your information appears to be a bit confused. Here's a very brief history of CSICOP and the Mars effect: Pre-CSICOP:

1. _The Humanist_ published "Objections to Astrology" and an article by Lawrence Jerome which contained criticism of Gauquelin. Jerome's criticisms were in error. Gauquelin wrote a reply. At some point, CSICOP Fellow Marvin Zelen suggested a means of testing the thesis (put forth by the Belgian Comite Para) that the "Mars effect" in both Gauquelin's data and in their own replication of Gauquelin was the result of (a) Mars tending to be close to the Sun in the sky and (b) the tendency for human beings to be born in the early morning hours (around sunrise).

2. Gauquelin performed the test suggested by Zelen. The result: the Comite Para's thesis was falsified. The results were published in an article by Gauquelin in _The Humanist_ in Nov. 1977.

3. Marvin Zelen, Paul Kurtz, and George Abell wrote a reply to Gauquelin which engaged in some post hoc sample splitting and analysis which referee Elizabeth Scott of the UC Berkeley statistics department characterized as misleading. In effect, their article tried to cast doubt on whether or not the Zelen test was supportive of Gauquelin by ignoring what the test was designed to do (check this particular explanation of the "Mars effect"). I should say a bit more about the Zelen test. If the Comite Para was right, then there should have been a "Mars effect" for everyone, not just sports champions. So the Zelen test compared a huge sample of non-sports champions to a subsample of Gauquelin's already collected sports champions. So for the purposes of the Zelen test, it was taken for granted that there would be a "Mars effect" in the sports champions, and it was expected that the same effect would show up in the non-champions. It didn't, and then Zelen, Kurtz, and Abell directed all of their attention to the sample of sports champions and tried to maintain that it didn't really show a "Mars effect" either. Further note: all of the above took place in the pages of _The Humanist_, a publication of the American Humanist Association, then edited by CSICOP chairman Paul Kurtz. CSICOP's official position is that none of it had anything to do with CSICOP. However, there are some published statements in both _The Humanist_ and the _Skeptical Inquirer_ which describe the Gauquelin test as a CSICOP project. CSICOP was formed with the assistance of the AHA, the three authors of the response to Gauquelin were CSICOP Fellows, etc. And once CSICOP made its big break from the AHA (when Kurtz was "not reelected" as editor of _The Humanist_), all the Gauquelin stuff was published in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ instead of _The Humanist_. CSICOP's test:

4. CSICOP Executive Council member Dennis Rawlins had done his own calculations prior to the Zelen test, and had concluded that there was no way that the Comite Para's explanation could be right. He told Kurtz et al. that if Gauquelin's data was bad, the Zelen test would come out in his favor, but he wasn't entirely clear about his own calculations until after the Zelen, Kurtz, and Abell response had been published.

5. CSICOP decided to do its own replication with U.S. athletes. The data was collected by Paul Kurtz and two assistants in Buffalo, and the calculations were performed by Dennis Rawlins. The data was sent to Rawlins in three batches, which showed a successive drop in percentage of athletes with Mars in a key sector. Rawlins argues that this could not have been done intentionally by Kurtz because Kurtz, Zelen, and Abell were unable to do the necessary calculations to determine Mars' position at time of birth. (In other words, Rawlins himself rejects the claim that anything was fudged about the U.S. test.) Suitbert Ertel, however, thinks that the athletes which were selected in the successive batches were less eminent, and has an unpublished article with analysis concluding that's the case. (Rawlins thinks that's wrong, too, on the grounds that Kurtz would only do that if he believed there were actually a "Mars effect.")

6. The _Skeptical Inquirer_ published articles by Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, Dennis Rawlins, and by Kurtz, Zelen, and Abell on the results of the U.S. test. Rawlins had some very strong negative things to say about everyone else, some of which were deleted from his article over his objections. His home address was given in the article for readers to write for the complete version, but the wording Rawlins requested was changed. Rawlins felt that he was censored. My own opinion is that the deletions were appropriate (the comments were essentially ad hominem). Rawlins correctly noted that both the Gauquelins and the CSICOP team engaged in post hoc sample splitting in their discussions of the data, and in a footnote he complained about 3, above.

7. Things became very heated between Rawlins and the rest of the CSICOP Executive Council about the way the Gauquelin stuff had been handled. Rawlins ended up being "not reelected" to the Executive Council, then he resigned from the _Skeptical Inquirer_ editorial board (Rawlins says his resignation was conditional on publication of his resignation letter, and that therefore he didn't really resign), and then he was removed as a Fellow of CSICOP. Rawlins ended up writing a very ad hominem article in _Fate_ magazine in which he charged CSICOP with dishonesty. _Skeptical Inquirer_ editor Ken Frazier, in order to show that CSICOP was not guilty of a coverup, gave Rawlins 5 1/2 unedited pages in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ to make his complaints. (Rawlins essentially wasted the space with a barely comprehensible rant--it takes a lot of background knowledge to completely understand all the charges he makes.)

8. In 1983, after much stuff going on behind the scenes, Abell, Kurtz, and Zelen published an article in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ admitting most if not all of the errors/misrepresentations in the 1977 _Humanist_ article and in their report on the U.S. test. After 1983, CSICOP pretty much ignored the "Mars effect" until it published Suitbert Ertel's reanalysis of the U.S. test data a little over a year ago. Ertel concluded that when the athletes in the CSICOP test are ranked by eminence (as measured by citation frequency in encyclopedias and dictionaries of athletes), there is a trend of increasing births with Mars in a key sector as eminence increases. Paul Kurtz attempted a very weak one-page response that seemed to miss the whole point of Ertel's analysis. There is apparently more forthcoming in future issues, based on the French Skeptics' (CFEPP) test of the "Mars effect."

The above is really only the briefest of summaries. I've put together a chronology of publications, correspondence, phone calls, and other events involving skeptics and the "Mars effect" from the 1950's to the present which is far from complete. (I have a stack of documents about three inches thick which still needs to be added.) I am willing to send a copy to anyone who sends me a 3.5" diskette and some kind of postage-paid mailer. I have it in Microsoft Word for the Macintosh, but I can also put it in a number of PC formats. : The impression I get from what I do know is that there still is :some disagreement over the issue even though it has been around for many :years. You got that right. Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721

From: volcifer@ccs.neu.edu (Mark Wojcik) Newsgroups: sci.skeptic Subject: Re: bio answer anti astrology Date: 20 May 1994 18:03:38 GMT Organization: College of CS, Northeastern University Lines: 98 Message-ID: <2riu1q$iaf@narnia.ccs.neu.edu> References: <2rdks8$214@narnia.ccs.neu.edu> <2rdu5d$nt5@agate.berkeley.edu> Summary: A former member slams CSICOP pbrown@triplerock.Berkeley.EDU (Paul Brown) wrote: >Mark Wojcik (volcifer@ccs.neu.edu) wrote: >: Anyway, while his study did not show any ironclad evidence that you end up >: in the career your sign foretells, he did show a correlation between >: certain birth signs and eventual careers. Unfortunately, I can't >: remember the guy's name, although I could look it up if given some time. >: When this guy presented his study's results to CSICOP's board, they >: promptly quashed it and denied him the publication they'd promised. > > Who! Look it up! Could this be the undermining of the entire body > of western science? > > Seriously, I'm curious. What star signs? What jobs? What was the > strength of the correlation? Actually, I'm afraid I bungled the story a bit in its particulars, although the relevant information was correct. I reviewed the story last night, and here's the scoop: The study in question was the famous one performed by Michel Gauquelin, wherein Gauquelin found that an unusual number of sports stars wre born under Mars (to use the astrological terminology), actors under Jupiter, scientists under Saturn, etc. Gauquelin's study convinced a few skeptical scientists, although not any who I am familiar with. The relevant issue is that his study was attacked by the skeptical periodical *Humanist* in 1975.

Now the plot thickens. Dr. Dennis Rawlins, a physicist who would later be one of the founding members of CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), found the *Humanist*'s attack to be incompetent and inaccurate. To quote Colin Wilson, "[Dr. Rawlins] was asked to try to 'disprove' Gauquelin himself; but in fact, his computer analysis tended to support Gauquelin. Still convinced that Gauquelin was basically wrong, he tried hard to get his skeptical colleagues to move to firmer ground. They ignored him; instead, there was a 'cover-up,' and (as Rawlins wrote) 'one's willingness to go along with the cover-up (to protect the cause [of CSICOP]) became a test of loyalty.'" Anyway, what ended up happening was that the other Committee members (beside Rawlins) stigmatized Rawlins for "[insisting] that Gauquelin should be fought with honest arguments, not with arguments they now knew to be based on error." Finally, Rawlins got fed up with "being treated as a leper for acting on principle" that he exposed CSICOP's clumsy cover-up, in 1981, in a pamphlet called *sTARBABY* [sic]. The pamphlet's cover sums up its content, stating, "They call themselves the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. In fact, they are a group of would-be debunkers who bungled their major investigation, falsified the results, covered up their errors, and gave the boot to a colleague who threatened to tell the truth." Inside, Rawlins goes on to say, "I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs [the Committee] was created to debunk. But I *have* changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism." He says even less complimentary things, too, but you get the idea. Now, I don't know who the members of CSICOP were in those days, the mid-seventies to the early eighties. Has CSICOP changed? It doesn't seem to have made much progress.... This sort of behavior and irrational witch-hunting is why many serious skeptics can't respect many other skeptics. Certainly, not all skeptics should be lumped together. As for Gauquelin's original study...I've never seen it. A statistical study isn't worth all that much, anyway; correlations mean nothing outside the world of mathematics. But, now you've got the guy's name, so you can probably dig up the study without too much trouble.

From: lippard@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu (James J. Lippard) Newsgroups: sci.skeptic Subject: Re: bio answer anti astrology Date: 20 May 1994 13:49 MST Organization: University of Arizona Lines: 119 Distribution: world Message-ID: <20MAY199413491677@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> References: <2rdks8$214@narnia.ccs.neu.edu> <2rdu5d$nt5@agate.berkeley.edu><2riu1q$iaf@narnia.ccs.neu.edu>NNTP-Posting-Host: skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu Summary: A former member slams CSICOP News-Software: VAX/VMS VNEWS 1.41 In article <2riu1q$iaf@narnia.ccs.neu.edu>, volcifer@ccs.neu.edu (Mark Wojcik) writes... >Actually, I'm afraid I bungled the story a bit in its particulars, although >the relevant information was correct. I reviewed the story last night, and >here's the scoop: Your account of the CSICOP/Gauquelin/Rawlins/"Mars Effect" affair contains a few errors. (Most published accounts do. The best published accounts are those in the _Zetetic Scholar_ by Patrick Curry and Richard Kammann.) >Dr. Dennis Rawlins, a physicist who would later be one of the founding members > >of CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the >Paranormal), found the *Humanist*'s attack to be incompetent and inaccurate. Rawlins doesn't have a Ph.D. (though I believe he has better scientific skills and acumen than many Ph.D.s) and his specialty is positional astronomy. >

To quote Colin Wilson, > >"[Dr. Rawlins] was asked to try to 'disprove' Gauquelin himself; but in fact, >his computer analysis tended to support Gauquelin. Still convinced that >Gauquelin was basically wrong, he tried hard to get his skeptical colleagues >to move to firmer ground. They ignored him; instead, there was a >'cover-up,' and (as Rawlins wrote) 'one's willingness to go along with the >cover-up (to protect the cause [of CSICOP]) became a test of loyalty.'" The only "computer analysis" Rawlins did was his computation for the CSICOP U.S. test, which did *not* show a "Mars effect." See Rawlins' own report on the U.S. test in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 4, no. 2, Winter 1979-80. Wilson is here confusing (as so many people do) the Zelen test in _The Humanist_ (results published November 1977) with the U.S. test in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ (published 1980). The Zelen test was proposed by CSICOP Fellow Marvin Zelen as a way of testing a specific hypothesis of the Belgian Comite Para for the "Mars effect." The test was carried out by Gauquelin, and the result published in _The Humanist_.

The result was that the Comite Para's hypothesis was falsified. Rawlins had done his own computation (by hand, not by computer) that the Comite Para's hypothesis couldn't work, and that the Zelen test was going to come out in Gauquelin's favor. Compounding the problem was that Marvin Zelen, Paul Kurtz, and George Abell's response to the Zelen test was misleading, which Rawlins and others pointed out at the time. They repeated their misleading response to the Zelen test in an article on the U.S. test, and some of Rawlins' remarks about it were deleted from his paper on the U.S. test. (Appropriately, in my opinion--they were unwarrantedly ad hominem. His scientific criticism of the response to the Zelen test *was* published in his U.S. test report, in a footnote.)

Rawlins was treated pretty shabbily by CSICOP, which did try to avoid admitting its errors for a long time. (But see Abell, Kurtz, and Zelen's article in the Spring 1983 _Skeptical Inquirer_ for their admission of errors. _SI_ editor Ken Frazier also gave Rawlins 5.5 unedited pages in _SI_ to make his complaints ("Remus Extremus," vol. 6, no. 2, Winter 1981).) Rawlins also did some fairly antagonistic things, and had caused some other (completely unrelated) problems for CSICOP. >Anyway, what ended up happening was that the other Committee members (beside >Rawlins) stigmatized Rawlins for "[insisting] that Gauquelin should be >fought with honest arguments, not with arguments they now knew to be based >on error." Finally, Rawlins got fed up with "being treated as a leper for >acting on principle" that he exposed CSICOP's clumsy cover-up, in 1981, in a >pamphlet called *sTARBABY* [sic]. This wasn't a pamphlet (though it was reprinted as one)--it was an article in the October 1981 issue of _Fate_ magazine. >

The pamphlet's cover sums up its content, stating, "They call themselves the >Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. In >fact, they are a group of would-be debunkers who bungled their major >investigation, falsified the results, covered up their errors, and gave the >boot to a colleague who threatened to tell the truth." This is an erroneous description, and was not authored by Rawlins. (It was written by Jerome Clark.) I know of no "falsified results" in this. There was misleading data analysis by both CSICOP *and* the Gauquelins, but nobody fabricated data. (Rawlins' U.S. test paper is critical of both Kurtz/Zelen/Abell AND the Gauquelins, and rightly so.) >Now, I don't know who the members of CSICOP were in those days, the >mid-seventies to the early eighties.

Has CSICOP changed? It doesn't seem >to have made much progress.... This sort of behavior and irrational >witch-hunting is why many serious skeptics can't respect many other >skeptics. Certainly, not all skeptics should be lumped together. I think there has been some improvement at CSICOP, though some of the same stonewalling tendencies in response to internal criticism still exist, as I can attest firsthand. With regard to the "Mars effect," in the Winter 1992 _Skeptical Inquirer_ appeared Suitbert Ertel's "Update on the 'Mars Effect,'" a reanalysis of the CSICOP U.S. test which shows Ertel's "eminence effect" in the data. That is, the more citations an athlete has in sports dictionaries, the more likely that athlete is to have been born with Mars in one of Gauquelin's "key sectors." To date, Ertel's analysis has not been rebutted in _SI_. (Well, Paul Kurtz tried, but failed. See my letter in the Summer 1992 _SI_, p. 439.) >As for Gauquelin's original study...I've never seen it. A statistical study >isn't worth all that much, anyway; correlations mean nothing outside the >world of mathematics. But, now you've got the guy's name, so you can >probably dig up the study without too much trouble. There are lots of studies by Gauquelin, but the only ones CSICOP has had anything to do with aren't properly described as his "original study." He was doing this stuff for decades before CSICOP even existed. I have a huge chronology of events and publications involved with skeptical clashes with Gauquelin, as well as a bibliography of Gauquelin's and Ertel's publications. I will be happy to make it available to anyone who sends me a diskette (3.5" only, please) and an SASE. The chronology is in Mac Word format; please specify if you'd like something else. (Send your diskette to Jim Lippard, 2930 E. 1st St., Tucson, AZ 85716.) Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721

From: msb@netcom.com (Mark S. Bilk) Subject: Re: Aural photography Message-ID: Organization: Cosmic Church of the Orgone Goddess References: <2rgpeh$6nr@pellew.ntu.edu.au> <19MAY199409010170@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 07:28:43 GMT Lines: 66 Xref: news.Arizona.EDU talk.religion.newage:18709 sci.engr.lighting:750 alt.meditation:2928 sci.skeptic:67352 sci.med.psychobiology:1254 bionet.plants:1341 bionet.general:2916 alt.binaries.pictures.d:14444 alt.devilbunnies:6710 In article <19MAY199409010170@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu>, James J. Lippard wrote: >In article <2rgpeh$6nr@pellew.ntu.edu.au>, rohan@nutmeg.ntu.edu.au (Rohan Hawthorne 61-89-895442) writes... >:I am looking for any information on Aural photography. I know they have >Kirlian photography. >It's not the biologists who have the relevant expertise, but the >physicists. You can get nice Kirlian photographs of auras around >non-biological objects, such as coins, washers, and paper clips. See > > Arleen J. Watkins and William S. Bickel, "A Study of the Kirlian > Effect," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 10, no. 3, Spring 1986, > pp. 244-257. > Arleen J. Watkins and William S. Bickel, "The Kirlian Technique: > Controlling the Wild Cards," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 13, > no. 2, Winter 1989, pp. 172-184. > >All of your questions are answered in those two articles. It might be advisable to get a second opinion. CSICOP has a fundamentalist belief in the non-existence of psychic phenomena. It also does not permit any dissenting views to be published in its journal. The combination of these two factors insures that it cannot be a source of objective information.

Quoting from _The New Inquisition_, by Robert Anton Wilson: ...Dennis Rawlins, a Harvard physics graduate who knows CSICOP from the inside. He was a co-founder in 1976, served on its Executive Council from 1976 to 1979 and was Associate Editor of their journal (originally the _Zetetic_, now the Skeptical Inquirer) from 1976 to 1980. ... Rawlins discovered in early 1977 that the first scientific study performed by CSICOP was, to put it mildly, erroneous. [Wilson gives a page of details and goes on to describe how the CSICOP Executive Council censored an article by Rawlins about this matter in the journal, and stopped a press conference in which Rawlins tried to speak out about it.] The executive council then met in closed session, with all members but Rawlins, and voted him out of the executive. They allowed him to continue as Associate Editor of their journal, however, and he went on struggling to get the correction published for another year. In 1980, he resigned from CSICOP in total disillusionment. To summarize: CSICOP published a scientifically false report. They blocked all attempts by a member of their own Executive Council to inform members that the report was false. When their own selected referees agreed the report was false, they suppressed the referees' report.* Wilson then describes how Prof. Marcello Truzzi, editor of the CSICOP journal, resigned or was ejected from the organization because he wanted to print both sides of debates. Apparently, CSICOP does not permit those whose work it criticizes to answer the criticism in their journal. [Truzzi] says CSICOP isn't skeptical at all in the true meaning of that word but is "an advocacy body upholding orthodox establishment views." Truzzi started his own journal in which he allows open debate. * _The New Inquisition_, Robert Anton Wilson, 1986, ISBN 0-941404-49-8, Falcon Press, Phoenix AZ, $9.95. (pp. 45-47)

From: lippard@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu (James J. Lippard) Subject: Re: Aural photography Date: 30 May 1994 12:46 MST Organization: University of Arizona Lines: 229 Distribution: world Message-ID: <30MAY199412464605@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> References: <2rgpeh$6nr@pellew.ntu.edu.au> <19MAY199409010170@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> NNTP-Posting-Host: skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu News-Software: VAX/VMS VNEWS 1.41 Xref: news.Arizona.EDU talk.religion.newage:18716 sci.engr.lighting:751 alt.meditation:2944 sci.skeptic:67379 sci.med.psychobiology:1262 bionet.plants:1346 bionet.general:2924 alt.binaries.pictures.d:14447 alt.devilbunnies:6718 In article , msb@netcom.com (Mark S. Bilk) writes... >In article <19MAY199409010170@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu>, >James J. Lippard wrote: >>In article <2rgpeh$6nr@pellew.ntu.edu.au>, rohan@nutmeg.ntu.edu.au (Rohan Hawthorne 61-89-895442) writes... >>:I am looking for any information on Aural photography. I know they have > >>Kirlian photography. > >>It's not the biologists who have the relevant expertise, but the >>physicists. You can get nice Kirlian photographs of auras around >>non-biological objects, such as coins, washers, and paper clips. See >> >> Arleen J. Watkins and William S. Bickel, "A Study of the Kirlian >> Effect," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 10, no. 3, Spring 1986, >> pp. 244-257. >> Arleen J. Watkins and William S. Bickel, "The Kirlian Technique: >> Controlling the Wild Cards," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 13, >> no. 2, Winter 1989, pp. 172-184. >> >>All of your questions are answered in those two articles. > >It might be advisable to get a second opinion. CSICOP has a >fundamentalist belief in the non-existence of psychic phenomena. By all means get a second opinion, but I doubt that you will find as careful or exhaustive a study of the Kirlian effect as the above two papers, by physicists here at the University of Arizona. >It also does not permit any dissenting views to be published in >its journal. The combination of these two factors insures that it >cannot be a source of objective information.

Quoting from _The New >Inquisition_, by Robert Anton Wilson: The _Skeptical Inquirer_ does have a clear bias, but it is simply false that it "does not permit *any* dissenting views" to be published. Since you go on to discuss the "Mars effect" affair, you should note that (a) the Gauquelins' own interpretation of the CSICOP "Mars effect" study was published in _SI_, in full (Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, "Star U.S. Sportsmen Display the Mars Effect," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 4, no. 2, Winter 1979-80, pp. 31-40), (b) Dennis Rawlins' analysis was published in the same issue ("Dennis Rawlins, "Report on the U.S. Test of the Gauquelins' 'Mars Effect,'" _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 4, no. 2, Winter 1979-80, pp. 26-31), complete with criticisms of the CSICOP team (see especially footnote 2), (c) Rawlins was given 5 1/2 unedited pages of space in the _Skeptical Inquirer_ to make his charges against CSICOP (Dennis Rawlins, "Remus Extremus," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 6, no. 2, Winter 1981-82, pp. 58-65), (d) the CSICOP team admitted the errors in their analysis (George O. Abell, Paul Kurtz, and Marvin Zelen, "The Abell-Kurtz-Zelen 'Mars Effect' Experiments: A Reappraisal," _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 7, no. 3, Spring 1983, pp. 77-82), (e) the most recent major article in _SI_ regarding the "Mars Effect" is a reanalysis of the U.S. test to show that it *does* show the "Mars Effect" (Suitbert Ertel, "Update on the 'Mars Effect,'" _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 16, no. 2, Winter 1992, pp. 150-160), and (f) although Paul Kurtz had a brief response to Ertel's article, _SI_ published a criticism of Kurtz which was left unanswered (Jim Lippard, "Questioning the 'Mars effect,'" _Skeptical Inquirer_ vol. 16, no. 4, Summer 1992, p. 439). In short, you know not of what you speak. Nor, for that matter, does Robert Anton Wilson, who is notorious for his careless statements and disregard for factual accuracy. (See, for example, the exchange between myself and Wilson in _Saucer Smear_ (January 15, February 10, and April Fool's Day, 1994 issues).) Apparently you missed the recent lengthy summary of the "Mars Effect"/ CSICOP/Rawlins controversy which I posted here. I will email you a copy. > ...Dennis Rawlins, a Harvard physics graduate who knows CSICOP from the > inside. He was a co-founder in 1976, served on its Executive Council > from 1976 to 1979 and was Associate Editor of their journal (originally > the _Zetetic_, now the Skeptical Inquirer) from 1976 to 1980. ...

This is true. Phil Klass argued that Rawlins wasn't an "Associate Editor" (no such position is listed on the masthead), but there is good evidence that Editorial Board members were at least informally referred to as "associate editors." > Rawlins discovered in early 1977 that the first scientific study > performed by CSICOP was, to put it mildly, erroneous. This statement is erroneous. In early 1977, no scientific study had yet been performed by CSICOP. What actually happened was that in 1975, _The Humanist_ published "Objections to Astrology," which included some anti-Gauquelin remarks by Lawrence Jerome. (CSICOP, founded in 1976, did not yet exist.) This led to a response from Gauquelin, a response from Jerome, and a critique of Gauquelin from the Belgian Comite Para, which had performed a replication of Gauquelin's "Mars Effect" studies in the late sixties. The Comite Para produced the same effect, but argued that the effect was not unique to athletes, but was simply the result of the natural distribution of births throughout the day (the nycthemeral curve)--with more births occurring in the early morning hours than at other times--combined with the fact that Mars is slightly more often near the sun than opposite. (I'm not really doing justice to their explanation here--for full details, see the articles in _The Humanist_.) Marvin Zelen proposed a test of the Comite Para's explanation by comparing a sample of non-sports champions born in the same regions at the same times to a subsample of Gauquelin's athletes. If the Comite Para was right, the non-athletes would show the same "Mars Effect" as the athletes. The study was conducted by Gauquelin (not CSICOP), and he found that the non-athletes did NOT show the "Mars Effect"--thus disproving the Comite Para's thesis. Dennis Rawlins did his own analysis of the Comite Para's explanation and found that it didn't work (prior to and independently of Gauquelin's conducting of the "Zelen Test"). He sent a memo about this to a few people, but didn't (in my opinion) explain very well what the consequences were of his (rather technical) analysis. The Gauquelins reported the results of the Zelen Test in their own words in _The Humanist_. Their paper was followed by a paper by Zelen, Kurtz, and Abell which pretty much ignored what the Zelen Test showed, but instead dissected the subsample of sports champions Gauquelin used in the study, arguing that it didn't really show a "Mars Effect." This analysis was rather misleading and post hoc, and was criticized by Rawlins in footnote 2 of his report on CSICOP's U.S. test, mentioned above. > [Wilson gives a page of details and goes on to describe how the CSICOP > Executive Council censored an article by Rawlins about this matter in > the journal, and stopped a press conference in which Rawlins tried to > speak out about it.]

The allegedly "censored" article was Rawlins' report on the U.S. test, mentioned above. The only deletion were of _ad hominem_ remarks by Rawlins--at least one of which was directed at Gauquelin, not CSICOP. In my opinion, the deletions were entirely appropriate. Rawlins' scientific criticisms of CSICOP and Gauquelin remained intact and were published. By the time of this press conference, Rawlins had himself gotten fairly out of hand. (I understand his frustration, as I've experienced similar stonewalling from CSICOP in response to criticism, but I don't think he kept his own actions beyond reproach.) > The executive council then met in closed session, with all members > but Rawlins, and voted him out of the executive. They allowed him to > continue as Associate Editor of their journal, however, and he went on > struggling to get the correction published for another year. In 1980, he > resigned from CSICOP in total disillusionment. This omits a few crucial details. The Executive Council was simply holding its annual meeting. Rawlins did not attend, even though he had been paid for airfare in advance. Rawlins did not notify anyone that he would not be there. Rawlins says that he did this because he had not been properly reimbursed for airfare for the previous year's meeting. Executive Council members apparently are supposed to be reelected every 3 years or so, and the official story is that Rawlins was simply not reelected--and his failure to show up for the meeting was apparently a major reason for this. Other reasons were also brought up--see Ken Frazier's introduction to "Remus Extremus." Rawlins disputes all of them, and says that the real reason for his ejection was the "Mars Effect" controversy. I have no doubt that the controversy was a major part of the decision, though I also have no doubt that Rawlins' own behavior was a contributing factor. BTW, Rawlins says he never resigned from CSICOP. He did submit a resignation letter from the _SI_ Editorial Board, which he says was conditional on its publication, unedited, in _SI_. Ken Frazier responded by accepting his resignation without publishing it. Rawlins was removed as a CSICOP Fellow in a ballot of the Executive Council. Rawlins has argued that there really was no such ballot, that it was invented by CSICOP after the fact, because he was told by Martin Gardner that there was no such ballot. In fact, Gardner and other Executive Council members were misled by the ballot, which added new Fellows to *replace* Rawlins. (If you didn't read it carefully, you might think that you were just adding new Fellows, not getting rid of old ones.)

Most of the Executive Council, however, correctly understood the ballot--and at least two voted to *keep* Rawlins (Frazier and Hyman, I believe--I'd have to check my "Mars Effect Chronology" to be sure). Gardner's vote was later changed to an abstention because he was misled by the wording. > To summarize: CSICOP published a scientifically false report. They > blocked all attempts by a member of their own Executive Council to > inform members that the report was false. When their own selected > referees agreed the report was false, they suppressed the referees' > report.* This is nonsense. CSICOP published some misleading and post-hoc data analysis by both the Kurtz/Zelen/Abell team *AND* by the Gauquelins. It also published Rawlins' analysis, which pointed out the post-hocery on *both* sides. (For some reason, the critics of CSICOP always forget about the post hoc sample-splitting by the Gauquelins, even though Rawlins pointed it out, too.) By the way, all the data for the U.S. test was published in _SI_. Anybody who read carefully could see that Rawlins' report was the most objective and accurate, and that the other two reports were flawed. I would not describe any of the reports as "scientifically false" (whatever that means). >

Wilson then describes how Prof. Marcello Truzzi, editor of the CSICOP >journal, resigned or was ejected from the organization because he wanted >to print both sides of debates. Apparently, CSICOP does not permit those >whose work it criticizes to answer the criticism in their journal. Truzzi resigned, though his hand was forced. He had numerous reasons, including (a) he wanted _SI_ to be more scholarly than popular, (b) he wanted paranormal advocates to be able to publish in _SI_ and to be Fellows of the Committee, (c) he wanted the Fellows to have voting power in the organization, (d) he was not happy with the close ties between CSICOP and the American Humanist Association, which he felt put him in the position of being forced to defend articles published by CSICOP people in _The Humanist_ (e.g., against the critiques by the Rockwells in _Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research_). > [Truzzi] says CSICOP isn't skeptical at all in the true meaning of that > word but is "an advocacy body upholding orthodox establishment views." This is correct. >Truzzi started his own journal in which he allows open debate. This is also correct, though the _Zetetic Scholar_ has not published anything since 1987. By the way, if either you or Wilson had bothered to read the articles by Patrick Curry and Richard Kammann regarding the "Mars Effect" published in issues 9, 10, and 11 of the _Zetetic Scholar_, you would not have posted such an erroneous article to the net. I highly recommend their articles.

You can still obtain back issues of the _Zetetic Scholar_ from Marcello Truzzi, Dept. of Sociology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. They're probably about $10 each. >* _The New Inquisition_, Robert Anton Wilson, 1986, ISBN 0-941404-49-8, > Falcon Press, Phoenix AZ, $9.95. (pp. 45-47) Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721

From: lippard@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu (James J. Lippard) Subject: Re: Aural photography Date: 30 May 1994 13:11 MST Organization: University of Arizona Lines: 36 Distribution: world Message-ID: <30MAY199413115554@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> References: <2rgpeh$6nr@pellew.ntu.edu.au> <19MAY199409010170@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu> NNTP-Posting-Host: skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu News-Software: VAX/VMS VNEWS 1.41 Xref: news.Arizona.EDU talk.religion.newage:18717 sci.engr.lighting:752 alt.meditation:2945 sci.skeptic:67382 sci.med.psychobiology:1263 bionet.plants:1347 bionet.general:2925 alt.binaries.pictures.d:14448 alt.devilbunnies:6720 In article , msb@netcom.com (Mark S. Bilk) writes... > To summarize: CSICOP published a scientifically false report. They > blocked all attempts by a member of their own Executive Council to > inform members that the report was false. When their own selected > referees agreed the report was false, they suppressed the referees' > report.* I neglected in my previous response to address the issue of referees' reports. Since Bilk never bothers to distinguish the _Humanist_-sponsored and Gauquelin-conducted Zelen Test from the CSICOP-sponsored and Rawlins- conducted U.S. test, it's not clear which referee reports are being referred to here. With regard to _The Humanist_, statistician Elizabeth Scott read and evaluated the Zelen, Kurtz, and Abell response to the Gauquelins' report on the Zelen Test. She felt that their analysis was misleading, and said so in both a letter to and phone calls to the authors. She was ignored, and her remarks were not published. With regard to the U.S. test, there were five or six people who refereed the whole package of papers from Rawlins, the Gauquelins, and the Kurtz/Zelen/Abell team. Ray Hyman wrote up a report which criticized the post hocery by KZA and the Gauquelins, and praised Rawlins' paper as the best of the bunch. He also recommended that _SI_ go ahead and publish the whole package, as is, in order to avoid criticism for delays since the results were already being discussed by pro-paranormal publications. And that's what happened. Unfortunately, the post hocery led to even more criticisms. (BTW, several of the "referees" were people who simply gave yea-or-nay votes on whether the whole package--including all of the data--was appropriate to be published in _SI_, and were certainly not competent to produce detailed evaluations of the statistics involved. This led to some later disputes about whether they were actually "referees" of the paper at all.) Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721

 

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