INVESTIGATOR 122 (2008 September)


Edgar Mitchell, a former NASA astronaut, claims aliens have contacted humans, and flying saucers have visited Earth many times, but governments have covered this up for 60 years.

The Apollo 14 astronaut, now 77, said America's space agency has had contact with small, human-shaped, aliens with large eyes and large head — similar to Hollywood versions.

He made the claim in a radio interview that coincided with the launch of the second X-Files movie: "I've been in military and intelligence circles who know that…we have been visited… I think we're headed for real disclosure…" (The Australian 2008, July 25, p9)  

A NASA spokesman responded, "NASA is not involved in any sort of cover-up about alien life on this planet or anywhere in the universe."


The Australian
reported that Australia's Prime Minister "complained to Beijing…about the persecution of Catholics in China."

The China/Catholic dispute is that: "Beijing insists the Holy See drop its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and concede to the Chinese Government the power to control the Catholic Church in China, including the appointment of bishops." (2008, July 25, p2)

The article estimated China has 13,000,000 Catholics of whom 5,000,000 are in the government-endorsed church and 8,000,000 in the "underground" Catholic Church.


Do you drink bottled water because it's healthier than tap water?

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It (Elizabeth Boyte, 2008) is a history of bottle water.

Boyte says that many bottled water brands are filtered tap water.

In most Western countries tap water meets stringent safety standards and is safe. However the processes of filling bottles, transporting and storing can lead to contamination. Bottled water is also energy-intensive because of transport and in using millions of tons of plastic. The main difference between tap and bottled water is that the latter is several thousand times as expensive.  

The bottled water "mania" began in 1990 and global sales are now $60 billion yearly.


INVESTIGATOR 123 (2008 November)


The National Convention of the Australian Skeptics for 2008 took place at the Norwood Concert Hall in Adelaide on October 12-13. Of twelve main speakers four were women.

Educational researcher Kylie Sturgess, for example, spoke on women's contribution to skepticism and the stereotype that males are more skeptical than females.

A DVD titled Flock of Dodos shown on Day 1 went into intelligent design, evolution, and the recent American court case.

A magic act by Nicholas Tweedy accompanied dinner on Saturday evening. Cards picked by two volunteers, signed, and firmly held on to, mysteriously changed places! A telephone number picked by a volunteer from a phone book turned out identical to a number in an envelope earlier positioned on a ledge and left in plain sight. The magician also mentally bent a fork and twisted the prongs as well.

Ian Plimer spoke on Climate Change, stressed huge natural variability over geological time, and used this to criticize creation science.

The cost was $110 and the meal $60. About 80 people attended including some readers of Investigator Magazine.

INVESTIGATOR 124 (2009 January)


India's first female saint, Roman Catholic nun Alphonsa Muttathupadathu who disfigured herself to avoid marriage, was canonised in October 2008 at the Vatican.

She died aged 36 in 1946 and is the second Indian to be sainted.

The first Indian saint was 16th-century martyr Gonsalo Garcia who was canonised in 1862. He had Portuguese parentage and worked in Japan in addition to India.

Mother Theresa (1910-1997) has had the first step to sainthood; she was beatified in 2003 after one miracle was attributed to her. To be declared a saint a second miracle attributed to her has to be confirmed.

Sister Alphonsa's canonisation coincided with major violence against Christianity in India. In the eastern state of Orissa numerous churches were burned from August to October, about 40 Christians killed, and converts forced to choose between fleeing the state or converting back to Hinduism.

About 2.3% (c. 23 million) of India's population are Christian.  

Alphonsa wanted to enter a convent and therefore deliberately stepped into a fire to disfigure her feet to stop her aunt from pressuring her to marry.

Her tomb in the town of Bharananganam (Kerala state) became a pilgrimage site and many miracles are attributed her. The main miracle, approved by the Vatican in 1999, was a one-year-old boy, born with defective legs — The Telegraph of Calcutta says "club foot" — whose legs straightened during a visit to Alphonsa's tomb.

Violence against Christians continued in Orissa even on the day of canonisation. In his speech the Pope stated: "I urge the perpetrators of violence to renounce these acts and join with their brothers and sisters to work together in building a civilisation of love."

Former athlete Shiny Wilson went to pray at Alphonsa's ancestral home. She said: "I prayed to Alphonsa to help me do well at the Asian championships in 1985. I set a record in 800m and it's because of her. In gratitude, I donated the gold medal to her memory."

Jinil Joseph, now aged ten, and 5000 other Indians attended the ceremony in St Peter's Square while thousands more watched on TV in Kerala.

Jinil said, "I pray to Sister Alphonsa every day for curing me. She made my life normal and I'm indebted to her for the miracle cure."

Churches can now be dedicated in Alphonsa's honour, her name can now be invoked during prayers, her image drawn and printed, her relics publicly honoured, Mass offered in her name, and feast days celebrated in her memory.                   
(The Australian 2008, October 10, p10; The Telegraph 2008, October 13)


INVESTIGATOR 125 (2009 March)


The Vatican has announced that Christian faith need not be hostile to the theory of evolution.

Richard Owen in The Australian quoted Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture who argued that biological evolution and creation are compatible: "In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God."

"Intelligent Design" which attributes complex organs to direct creation by an intelligent "higher power" is also rejected as "poor theology and poor science". A conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species will discuss ID as a fringe issue, as a "cultural phenomenon", not as an issue in theology or science.

The Church has in the past considered Darwinism and Genesis to be in disagreement. However:
"Darwin's theories had never been formally condemned by the Catholic Church, Monsignor Revasi insisted. His rehabilitation had begun as long ago as 1950, when Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to human development." (The Australian 2009, February 9, p11)


The Weekend Australian reported: "Two men, who allegedly claimed they could speak to angels and remove curses, were arrested yesterday in relation to more than 220 sexual offences against a young woman." (2008, September 13-14, p9)

The two men allegedly pretended to be lay priests of the Greek Orthodox and Coptic communities and claimed they could remove curses via prayer and sexual acts for which they charged $1000.

The victim believed her family had been cursed with black magic and could suffer illness and death if the curse wasn't removed.


Seth Shostak's career is centred on finding out whether Extraterrestrial Intelligence or alien life exists. He's a radio astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in California. He's actually sure ET does exist but has no conclusive evidence.

So what's the problem — hasn't he noticed any of those expensive UFO magazines featuring sightings, case histories, and photos?  

Firstly, why does Shostak think ET exists? In an interview published in New Scientist he answered, "To believe that they don't exist requires positing that what's happened on Earth is some sort of miracle. I find that premise tougher to sell than to think that intelligence is a fairy frequent development in a 14-billion-year-old cosmos." (2008, September 20, pp 42-43)

Secondly, what about those thousands of sightings of UFOs and aliens? Shostak says, "Just tell me what you think is the very best case, the one that will make it into the refereed journals of astrobiology… I'm still awaiting a satisfying response to that request."


A 75-year-old Salvation Army officer was sentenced to 6½ years for raping a 7-year-old girl whose parents had approached him for help. The officer was the public face of the Salvation Army in Mackay (Queensland) where he ran the men's fellowship group and coordinated emergency services.

The man had convictions in the 1980s in New South Wales for sexual offences in the 1960s and 1970s. He was thrown out of the Salvation Army, but since their policy at the time prevented personal files from crossing state lines he re-established himself in Queensland. (The Weekend Australian 2008, October 11-12, p7)