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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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A Hoax Admitted

Above, we summarized a paper entitled "Uncanny Prophecies in New Zealand: An Unexplained Scientific Anomaly." The author of this paper, R. Kammann, has revealed that the whole business was a hoax. He now comes forth with details of the hoax and an explanation of why he chose to withhold data from the readers of the Zetetic Scholar.

"In writing up this episode for readers outside of New Zealand, I chose initially to hide the skeptical origin of these bogus prophecies to allow readers to experience them as they might be presented by paranormal advocates. Although the predictions drew widespread attention in New Zealand media, their impact was undoubtedly dampened by their honest portrayal as an anti-astrology lesson by a skeptical psychologist. For a proper evaluation, it was therefore necessary to hide their true origin for at least one public presentation. Even there (in Zetetic Scholar, #11) I constrained myself to scientifically accurate reporting and quoted my own original wordings of the prophecies and their fulfillments from the tapes of the radio programs. For the miracle mongers of the paranormal press, such loyalty to the facts would be considered a bad precedent."

(Kammann, Richard; "New Zealand Prophecies Exposed as a Hoax," Zetetic Scholar, no. 12, p. 34, August 1987.)

Comment. Kammann's confession is nice to have, but can anyone be certain that he is not now playing a new game with us? Even more so, can we now trust any statements by individuals dedicated to shielding us from the paranormal?

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987