Anachronism....or miracle?

James Randi --- Wizard (
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 20:12:42 -0400 (EDT)

Dr. Bob Imrie sends us this item, via Dr. Wally Sampson. Both are
involved with fighting health fraud, but this item also interests them
since it demonstrates how easily TV writers and researchers are led to


A few minutes ago I overheard something of interest on a television
set in the next room. By coincidence, the program "Sightings"
happened to be playing, and I heard someone describing yet another
Bridey-Murphy-like account wherein "amazing proof" of past lives had
been revealed -- through hypnosis, of course. I walked over to take a

Apparently several patients of a "hypnotherapist" somewhere in the
South were amazed to learn under hypnosis that they had all lived in
the same community, some distance away, during the Civil War. Of
course, when the Sightings crew went to said village, they found
abundant evidence "proving" these claims were true. (They even
interviewed a bona fide MD-type psychiatrist describing how very
"important" this kind of work is.) One of their star subjects
explained how his mission during the war had been to make sure that,
should the South not fare well, the Union Army couldn't utilize one or
more tunnels in or near the town. He explained quite clearly that, in
that event, he was supposed to "blow up the tunnels with dynamite."
With the aid of the film crew, he even showed the audience holes in
the brick lining of the tunnel where he was "supposed to place the
dynamite." The Sightings folks even provided a brief "recreation" for
the benefit of viewers wherein an actor was handling sticks of
dynamite wrapped in a bundle.

I suspect some of you will already have noticed something this past
life experiencer, his hypnotherapist, and the entire "Sightings"
production crew apparently missed. Dynamite was patented by Alfred
Nobel in 1867 -- two years after the end of the Civil War.

Somehow I doubt this gaffe will tarnish "Sightings" sterling
credibility. I guess this is what happens when you sleep through all
your history classes AND all your science classes.


Thanks for the item, Bob & Wally.

I've received a note from Steve Fleming, including this observation on
my Santos posting yesterday:

The "eye movement" I'm sorry to say was uncoordinated. It's really a
neurological pointer and if whilst the movement is occuring, you move
your finger along with it, it may appear to some people that the 'eyes
followed the movement' instead that the finger followed the eyes.

Reviewing the tape, I believe that Steve is probably correct.

And, on the "Cleanfood" item posted yesterday, I've heard from Ed
LaBonte, who has contacted ALL the scientists cited by the Cleanfood
advertisement at MIT and Stanford, and ALL have denied that their work
has anything to do with the theories and/or product advertised, and/or
that they have endorsed the theory or the product, or given their
permission for their names to be so used. This is the sort of
looking-into that needs to be done in these cases, and we thank Ed for
his useful contribution.


(Just a reminder: If "The Power of Belief" is airing in your area,
have a look at it, won't you...?)

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