Dateline program, Sept. 29/98

James Randi --- Wizard (
Wed, 30 Sep 1998 02:02:31 -0400 (EDT)

I have much respect for the NBC-TV "Dateline" show, and I must tell
you that when they did their coverage of the James Randi Educational
Foundation and its work, we were more than fairly treated. Even the
program that preceded that one, dealing with the Quadro dowsing rod --
and which I was also involved in -- was properly and professionally

But tonight, with the best of intentions, I'm sure, Dateline got a
little carried away with showbiz, and in examining this
currently-popular quackery known as "hair analysis," missed the boat.
Hair analysis is offered by licensed (?) agencies via mail-order. The
buyer sends in a sample of hair, an analysis is done which is supposed
to be a diagnosis of physical condition, and the buyer gets this in
written form. Everything from anxiety to hangnail is supposed to show

Well, Dateline got the conflicting and vague diagnoses that it
expected, then revealed that they'd gotten cute by sending in hair
from a French Poodle. Amusing, yes. Scientific and useful, no. They
had the opportunity to do a proper double-blind test of human
subjects, and they blew it in favor of humor. Too bad.

Dr. Stephen Barrett of the ACAHF was featured, and represented the
voice of reason very well. All in all, a useful program that just
missed doing a much better job.

The John Stossel special "The Power of Belief" will, I'm
confident, be worth watching. Stossel is one of the Good Guys. It's
due to air 10 p.m. on October 6th, but consult your local
listings to be certain of the time in your area.

I'll be in Boston next week (8th and 9th) to participate in the Annual
Ig-Nobel Awards from The Journal of Irreproducable Results. Wait
until you see this year's winners! Excellent choices, as usual.


James Randi Educational Foundation
201 SE 12th St. (Davie Blvd.),
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-1815

phone: +1 954 467 1112
fax: +1 954 467 1660

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James Randi Educational Foundation phone: +1 954 467 1112
201 SE Davie Boulevard fax: +1 954 467 1660
Fort Lauderdale FL 33316-1815

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