Confessions of an Anonymous Coward

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Continuing Investigation

As usual, there are a lot of things I want to post about that I haven't had time for, but I said in my last post that I was at least going to try to make a point of posting about any events at the Center for Inquiry West, so I'll make the time to make a post about today's meeting of the Independent Investigations Group, a skeptical group dedicated to investigating claims of a paranormal, fringe science, or otherwise extraordinary nature.

I may rethink this new policy of posting about any CFI events, though, because, once again, short of giving a point-by-point account of the meeting, which doesn't seem particularly productive, I can't think of too much specific to post about. (Are these posts about CFI events interesting enough to anyone to warrant continuing them?) Some highlights of this meeting, however, included the following:

  • Planning the procedure for the testing of a self-professed dowser who wanted to participate in the IIG's $50,000 challenge. As I've mentioned in a previous post, this person seemed, if not more confident than prior claimants (according to other IIG members; I haven't been in the IIG long enough to be familiar with prior claimants myself), much more collected and coherent, leading to some suspicion that, rather than being delusional about his abilities, he may have some sort of scam in mind. Accordingly, we're trying to be very careful to design the test in a way as to eliminate any possibility for cheating (this is, of course, always a concern, but this time it seems even more warranted than usual).
  • A presentation about a UFO cultist named Billy Meier--I'd never heard of him before myself, but apparently he's quite well-known in ufological circles. Anyway, an associate of Meier's had approached a member of the IIG to present a skeptical viewpoint on Meier to be included in a video he was producing. The IIG member in question had only agreed upon being guaranteed in writing that he would have the chance to review and if necessary reject the footage of him that was going to be used before the release of the video, and that he would not be defamed in any way. The filming for the video was going to take place on Monday, but he showed his presentation at the IIG meeting to get feedback and suggestions.
  • An account of two IIG members' visit to first a creationist museum near San Diego and later a semi-secret Scientology compound called "gold base". The latter visit had not been particularly fruitful, since Scientologist security had prevented them from lingering even on what was supposed to be a public road, but another IIG member told of his own experiences with Gold Base, where he had worked for a time on the installation of a video system (and resisted the Scientologists' efforts to convert him).

There was lots more, of course, but as I said, I don't see the point in enumerating every single agenda item. I will mention one more thing of significance, though: the IIG West website has received a much-needed update, and is much more up-to-date and informative now (as well as more attractive and user-friendly). So if anyone's curious about the IIG West and maybe followed a link in one of my previous posts on it to the rather sparse and messy old version of the website, you might want to check out the new and improved version.


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