by Philip J. Klass 

Philip J. Klass is a member of the Executive Council, Committee 
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal 

 [Note: This article, written in 1981, was submitted for 
 publication to FATE Magazine, in reply to Dennis Rawlins' 
 accusations against CSICOP in his Oct., 1981 FATE article 
 "sTARBABY". FATE adamantly refused to publish this article. 
 Meanwhile, Rawlins was given the opportunity to make a 
 rambling, six-page statement in the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER 
 (Winter, 1981-82, p.58), which was published exactly as 
 received, presenting his accusations of a "coverup." This 
 was in addition to the 5 1/2 page article he earlier had on 
 the "Mars Effect" in the Winter, 1979-80 issue (p.26). To 
 this day, supporters of the paranormal still charge CSICOP 
 with perpetrating a "coverup" on this matter. Only a 
 relatively few people ever saw Klass's "CRYBABY", the long 
 and detailed answer to Rawlins' "sTARBABY" charges. Now that 
 you have the opportunity to read Klass's rebuttal, you can 
 make up your own mind. 

 Klass's original text has been reproduced below, exactly as 
 typed, with the author's permission. Spelling and 
 punctuation have not been changed. Text that was underlined 
 in the original appears in capital letters. 
 - Robert Sheaffer, Bay Area Skeptics, 1991. 
 This article is brought to you courtesy of the Bay 
 Area Skeptics' BBS, 415-648-8944, from which it is 
 available for downloading, although not via FTP.] 

 "They call themselves the Committee for the Scientific 
Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. In fact, they are a 
group of would-be-debunkers who bungled their major 
investigation, falsified the results , covered up their errors 
and gave the boot to a colleague who threatened to tell the 
truth." Thus began a 32-Page article in the October 1981 issue of 
FATE magazine, which a a press release headlined: "SCIENTIST 

 Since CSICOP was formed in the spring of 1976, it has been a 
thorn in the side of those who promote belief in "psychic 
phenomena," in astrology, UFOs, and similar subjects and it has 
been criticized sharply by FATE whose articles generally cater to 
those who are eager to believe. However, this FATE article was 
written by skeptic Dennis Rawlins, who was one of the original 
Fellows in CSICOP and for nearly four years had been a member of 
its Executive Council. This would seem to give credence to 
Rawlins' charges -- except to those of us with first-hand 
experience in trying to work with him and who are familiar with 
his modus-operandi. 

 Because Rawlins proposed my election to CSICOP's Executive 
Council I cannot be charged with animosity toward him, except 
what he later engendered by his actions. And in a recent letter 
to me, Rawlins volunteered that I "was less involved than any 
other active Councillor" in the alleged misdeeds. 

 The FATE article, entitled "sTARBABY" prompted my own 
investigation into Rawlins' charges. But unlike Rawlins, who 
relies heavily on his recollection of conversations several years 
earlier, I chose to use hard evidence - published articles, 
memoranda and letters, some of which Rawlins cites in his 
article. When I requested copies of these letters and memoranda 
from the several principals involved, all of them responded 
promptly and fully except for one -- Dennis Rawlins, who had 
accused the others of "cover-up" and "censorship." RAWLINS 

 The results of my investigation, based on hard data, 
prompted me to conclude that the Rawlins article should have been 
entitled "CRYBABY," and that an appropriate subtitle would have 
been: "A wounded ego is the root of much evil." 

 If the editors of FATE had spent only a few hours reading 
published articles cited in the Rawlins article they could not in 
good conscience have accused CSICOP of "cover-up" or of having 
"falsified the results." Instead, FATE chose to ignore the 
traditional journalistic practice of investigating both sides of 
a controversial issue and publishing both sides, as those accused 
by Rawlins had done. 

 Rawlins' charges result from two tests intended to assess 
whether the position of the planet Mars at the time of a person's 
birth has a significant influence on whether he/she becomes a 
"sports champion." This "Mars effect" hypothesis was first 
proposed by France's Michel Gauquelin, who directs the laboratory 
for the Study of Relations between Cosmic and Psychophysiological 
Rhythms, based on a study of European champions. 

 The first of the two tests was performed by Gauquelin 
himself, with results that generally were supportive of the Mars 
effect hypothesis by eliminating a possible objection that first 
had been raised by others, i,e, not CSICOP. The only way in which 
CSICOP, or persons affiliated with it, could be guilty of 
Rawlins' charges would be if they had refused to publish 
Gauquelin's results or had intentionally altered the data in his 
report. NEITHER OCCURRED. Nor did Gauquelin accuse CSICOP or its 
members of trying to "cover-up" his results or altering the data 
of this first test whose calculations he himself performed, 
although there were some differences of interpretation of the 
implication of these results. 

AND MISREPRESENTATION, with implied criticism of CSICOP because 
Rawlins then was a member of its Executive Council. There would 
be other occasions when CSICOP would be criticized because of 
Rawlins' intemperate statements and actions. 

 This criticism was published by CSICOP in the Winter l978 
issue of its publication, THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER (p. 80). In it 
Gauquelin wrote: "How, in spite of all this data could one 
distort and misrepresent the effect in question and sow doubts on 
the subject? Dennis Rawlins, a member of CSICP ... has done just 
this in a polemic which appeared in the Fall-Winter 1977 issue of 
that (CSICOP's) journal." In "sTARBABY," Rawlins tries to shift 
the blame for his transgressions to CSICOP. 

 According to "sTARBABY," CSICOP Chairman Prof. Paul Kurtz 
was the principal architect of the alleged cover-up. Yet in 
reality it was Kurtz, then editor of THE HUMANIST magazine 
(published by the American Humanist Assn.) who printed the 
lengthy paper by Gauquelin describing the seemingly favorable- 
for-him results of the first test in the Nov/Dec,l977 issue (p. 
30). What kind of doubletalk is this when Rawlins and FATE charge 
that Kurtz's decision to publish test results favorable to an 
"adversary" represents a "cover-up"? Rawlins might better have 
waited until "l984" to resort to such "double-speak" accusations. 

 Because the issues are complex and because two different 
publications and organizations were involved, it is useful to 
recount briefly the events that led to the first Mars effect 
test, which is at the root of the Rawlins/FATE charges, and the 
second tests performed using data for outstanding U.S. athletes. 
Based on calculations performed by Rawlins himself, the U.S. 
champions test showed a very UNFAVORABLE result for the claimed 
Mars effect, which Rawlins confirms in "sTARBABY." And these 
Rawlins-computed results were published, without change, by 

 The Sept/Oct. l975 issue of THE HUMANIST carried an article 
by L.E. Jerome that was critical of astrology in general and of 
the Mars effect in particular. When Gauquelin sought an 
opportunity for rebuttal, Kurtz provided it in the Jan./Feb. 1976 
issue of THE HUMANIST, which also carried several other articles 
on astrology. Because Gauquelin's article claimed that the 
Mars effect had been confirmed by Belgian Committee for the 
Scientific Investigation of Alleged Paranormal Phenomena (created 
some 25 years earlier), that group also was invited by Kurtz to 
submit an article for publication. Belgian Comite Para, as it is 
called, confirmed Gauquelin's calculations. But it questioned his 
statistical assumption "that the frequency distribution of the 
hours of birth during the day (the nych-themeral curve) is a 
constant distribution...", i.e. that there is an equal 
probability of a person being born during any hour of the day. 

 This seemed important because the Mars effect hypothesis 
holds that persons born during an approximately two-hour period 
just after Mars has "risen" or during a comparable period after 
Mars is at upper culmination (zenith), are more likely to become 
sports champions than persons born during other hours of the day. 
If there is an equal probability of a person being born in any 
one of the 24 hours, then 4/24, or l6.7%,of the general 
population should be born when Mars is in one of these two "key 
sectors." (Because of combined orbital motions of Earth and Mars, 
the percentage of the day in which Mars is in two key sectors is 
approximately l7%. But Gauquelin reported that 22% European 
champions in his data base had been born when Mars was in the two 
key sectors, significantly higher than the l7% "benchmark." 

 Because of the issue raised by Comite' Para, Kurtz 
consulted statistics professor Marvin Zelen who in turn proposed a 
control test that could resolve the statistical issue raised by 
Comite' Para. This Zelen proposed test, also published in the 
same (Jan./Feb. 1976) issue of THE HUMANIST, suggested that 
Gauquelin should gather birth data for "non-champions" who had 
been born in the same local areas and within three days of a 
RANDOMLY SELECTED sub-sample of Gauquelin's "champions" who 
seemed to show the Mars effect. 

 If only 17% of these NON-champions were born when Mars was 
in the two key sectors, this would void the issue raised by 
Comite Para. But if roughly 22% of the NON-champions also were 
born when Mars was in the two key sectors, this would undercut 
the Mars effect hypothesis. Zelen's article concluded that the 
proposed test offered "an objective way for unambiguous 
corroboration or dis-confirmation." In retrospect it would have 
been more precise had he added: "...of the issue raised by 
Belgian Comite Para." If Gauquelin's sample of "champions" data 
was "biased," as Rawlins first suspected, this could not possibly 
be detected by the Zelen-proposed test. 

 The same issue of The Humanist carried another article, by 
astronomy professor George O. Abell, which was very skeptical of 
astrology in general. But unlike Rawlins who dismissed the Mars 
effect out-of-hand and "didn't believe that it merited serious 
investigation yet" (FATE: p. 74), Abell wrote that if Gauquelin's 
findings were correct, they were "extremely interesting." 

 However, Abell included the following note of caution: "If 
all of Gauquelin's work is re-checked, and his results hold up, 
then it is necessary to repeat the experiment with a new sample, 
say in the United States. If that sample should give the same 
result, then further verification is in order, until it is 
absolutely certain that the effects are real and reproducible. 
That is the way science works; reproducibility of results is 
necessary before fundamental new laws can be inferred." This sage 
advice clearly indicated the limits of what conclusions could be 
drawn, and could not be drawn, from the results of the upcoming 
Zelen test, and even from a complete re-check of Gauquelin's 
original data on European champions, which was not attempted. It 
should be stressed that at the time this first (Zelen) test was 
proposed, CSICOP did not yet exist. Several months later, when it 
was formed (initially under the auspices of the American Humanist 
Assn.), Kurtz became its co-chairman and later its chairman. 
Zelen and Abell were named Fellows, but not to CSICOP's Executive 
Council. In l980, Abell was elected to replace Rawlins on the 

 The results of this first (Zelen) test were published in the 
Nov./Dec., l977 issue of THE HUMANIST, where the issue first was 
raised, although by this time CSICOP had its own publication. 
Gauquelin and his wife Francoise were given nearly six large-size 
magazine pages to present their findings without censorship. 
Gauquelin reported having difficulties in obtaining data for non- 
champions born within several days of champions in small towns, 
so he said that non-champions birth data had been obtained only 
from the large cities in France and Belgium, The Gauquelins 
reported that these data showed that only l7% of the non- 
champions had been born when Mars was in the two sectors which 
seemed to resolve the issue earlier raised by Belgium's Comite 
Para in favor of the Mars effect. 

 The same issue of THE HUMANIST carried an article jointly 
authored by Zelen, Kurtz, and Abell, that began: "Is there a 
'Mars Effect'? The preceding article by Michel and Francoise 
Gauquelin discusses the experiment proposed by Marvin Zelen and 
its subsequent outcome. Their conclusions come out in favor of 
the existence of a 'Mars effect' related to sports champions. It 
is the purpose of this article to discuss the analysis of the 
data and to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the 
evidence in favor of the 'Mars effect.'" 

 The Zelen/Kurtz/Abell article raised some questions about 
the results. For example, that "the 'Mars effect' only appears in 
Paris, not in Belgium or in the rest of France." The article 
concluded: "lf one had a high prior 'belief' that there is a Mars 
effect, then the Gauquelin data would serve confirm this prior 
belief. In the other hand, if the prior belief in the existence 
of a Mars effect was low, then this data may raise the posterior 
belief, but not enough to accept the existence of the Mars 

 Rawlins charges that publication of this article, following 
the uncensored Gauquelin paper,"commited CSICOP to a cover-up." 
(FATE: p.76) Yet is characteristic of scientific controversy for 
one party to question or challenge another's interpretation of 
the data. And Gauquelin would do so following the second test 
without being accused of a "cover-up" in "sTARBABY." 

 In the same issue of THE HUMANIST, in a brief introduction 
written by Kurtz, the first "linkage" with CSICOP occurred. Kurtz 
wrote: "Thus, members of CSICOP involved in this inquiry believe 
that the claim that there is a statistical relationship between 
the position of Mars at the time of birth of individuals and the 
incidence of sports champions among them has not been established 
.. to further the cause of scientific inquiry, the committee has 
agreed (with Gauquelin) to make an independent test of the 
alleged Mars effect by a study of sports champions in the United 

 In "sTARBABY," Rawlins charges that the U. S, champions test 
was a "diversion." Clearly the Gauquelins themselves did not view 
it in this light, judging from the concluding statement in their 
article which said: "Let us hope that these positive results may 
induce other scientists to study whether this effect, discovered 
with the European data, appears also with the U.S. data." 

FIRST TEST WERE PUBLISHED, Rawlins sent Kurtz a copy of a three- 
page memorandum he had prepared a year earlier (March 29, 1977). 
It contained a very technical analysis of the issue raised by 
Comite Para, which prompted Rawlins to conclude that the 22% 
figure reported for European champions was not the result of a 
disproportionate share of births of the general population during 
the early morning hours when Mars often was in one of the two key 
sectors. In this analysis, Rawlins concluded that Gauquelin had 
"made fair allowance for the effect." 

 But Rawlins had not written this three-page memo until 
several month AFTER the Zelen test had been proposed in THE 
HUMANIST. Shortly after preparing the analysis, Rawlins had sent 
a copy to Prof. Marcello Truzzi, then editor of CSICOP's 
publication. Truzzi had decided not to publish it but sent a copy 
to Gauquelin. IF the Rawlins analysis of 1977 took account of all 
possible demographic factors -- and there is some disagreement on 
this question -- it was much too technical to be understood by 
persons without expertise in statistics and celestial mechanics. 

 When Rawlins finally got around to sending this analysis to 
Kurtz on March 28, 1978, his letter of that date did NOT 
criticize Truzzi or CSICOP for not having published it earlier. 
Rather, Rawlins admitted, "I should not have kept my (Mar. 19, 
1977) memo..private after all." He did suggest that perhaps it 
might now be published in THE HUMANIST. But by this time Kurtz no 
longer was its editor. More important, the results of the first 
(Zelen) test already had been published several months earlier. 

If, as Rawlins would later charge in "sTARBABY," the 
Zelen/Kurtz/Abell article published several months earlier in THE 
HUMANIST amounted to a "cover- up," Rawlins did not make such an 
accusation to Kurtz when he wrote him April 6, 1978. Instead, 
Rawlins wrote; "I think our best bets now are 1. The main 
European investigation might seek to discover how the Eur. samp 
(of Gauquelin) was (hypothetically) fudged -- check orig. records 
microscopically for some sort of Soal trick. 2. Proceed with the 
U.S, test, where we know we have a clean (unbiased) sample." 

 This April 6, 1978, letter clearly shows that while Rawlins 
suspected that Gauquelin had manipulated his European champions 
data ("Soal trick") he found no evidence of wrong-doing by 
Zelen/Kurtz/Abell. On April 26, 1978, in another letter to Kurtz, 
following his visit with Rawlins in San Diego, Rawlins wrote that 
he "was certain" that Gauquelin's original data "was biased, but 
not sure how." Rawlins concluded this letter on a cordial note: 
"Now, wasn't it great visiting sunny, funny, California -- and 
getting to see a real live nut religion launch itself in San 
Diego? ... hope you'll get back this way soon again." 

 It was at about this time that CSICOP came under fire for 
Rawlins' actions in another matter. In the summer of 1977, 
Rawlins and Abell had been invited to be panelists in a symposium 
on astrology to be held March 18, 1978 at the University of 
Toronto at which Gauquelin, among others, would participate. The 
invitation came from Dr. Howard Eisenberg on the stationary of 
the University's School of Continuing Studies. Both Rawlins and 
Abel had accepted. Then, in late September, 1977, Eisenberg 
withdrew the invitations on the grounds that "the response from 
potential speakers...has yielded an incredible acceptance rate of 
100%. This places us in the embarassing position of not being 
able to sponsor all of you," i.e. pay travel expenses and allow 
formal presentations. 

 On Feb. 6, 1978, Rawlins wrote to the president of the 
University of Toronto, protesting what he said were "a number of 
oddities" associated with the symposium, including an imbalance 
between the number of astrology supporters and skeptics. The 
Rawlins letter charged that "this conference looks to be a pretty 
phoney confrontation, which will therefore give the irrational 
pseudo-science of astrology an evidentially-unmerited 'academic' 
boost in public credibility..." Rawlins sent a copy of his letter 
to another university official. 

 Rawlins' suspicion of a loaded panel may have been 
justified. But the letter of protest was written on CSICOP 
stationery and signed "Dennis Rawlins, Executive Council, 
CSICOP." Another regretable action was a Rawlins telephone call 
late at night to a university astronomy professor, Robert 
Garrison, which gave the impression that Rawlins was speaking in 
behalf of CSICOP. In fact, Rawlins had taken these actions 
without consulting other Council members and without official 
approval to use CSICOP's name. In early April 1978, a copy of the 
Rawlins letter had reached Truzzi, who also had been invited and 
dis-invited to participate in the conference. The Rawlins letter 
claimed that Truzzi had co-authored "an astrology-supporting 
paper...and so rates as a strange sort of skeptic." Truzzi sent 
Kurtz a copy of this Rawlins letter with a note that said: "Since 
Dennis' letter is on Committee stationery, would appear he is 
writing on behalf of the Committee, I trust that will not happen 

 Rawlins' actions were reported in the Canadian magazine 
SCIENCE FORUM July/August 1978, in an article written by Lydia 
Dotto. The article, entitled "Science Confronts 'Pseudo- 
Science'", began; "It was after midnight on a Saturday night when 
University of Toronto astronomer Bob Garrison was awakened by a 
phone call. The caller identified himself as a member of the 
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the 
Paranormal, and according to Garrison, he spent the best part of 
the next hour urging the U of T scientist not to participate in 
the conference on astrology...Dennis Rawlins, a California 
astronomer and science writer and a member of the Committee, 
acknowledged in an interview that he made the call, but denied he 
was trying to talk Garrison out of attending the 
conference...this and other incidents surrounding the conference 
have become something of a cause celebre, particularly since the 
event was cancelled shortly before it was to have taken place in 
FREEDOM OF SPEECH." (Emphasis added.) 

 Indeed they did, much to CSICOP's embarassment. Britain's 
New Scientist magazine, in its June 29, 1978, issue, quoted the 
Canadian magazine in an article that began: "Earlier this year an 
astronomer at the University of Toronto, Dr. Bob Garrison, was 
awakened by a phone call from a member of Committee for the 
Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The caller 
allegedly spent most of the next hour trying to dissuade Garrison 
from taking part in a conference on astrology." 

 This New Scientist account was picked up by FATE magazine, 
which in turn attributed the action to CSICOP rather than to one 
Council member. FATE commented: "If you have difficulty 
understanding their (CSICOP) motives, remember that here is a 
dedicated group of witch-hunters seeking to burn nonbelievers at 
the stake." (How ironic that FATE now is promoting the views of 
the same person whose intemperate earlier actions had provoked 
FATE's harsh criticism.) The same criticism of CSICOP, because of 
Rawlins' actions surfaced again in a feature article in THE 
WASHINGTON POST (Aug. 26, 1979). The article, syndicated and 
published elsewhere, was written by Ted Rockwell who was 
identified as a member of the Parapsychological Association. 

 When I learned of the Rawlins incident, I was shocked as 
were others on the Council. But all of us hoped that Council 
members had learned an important lesson from the incident and 
that it would have a maturing effect on Rawlins. Yet before 
another year had passed Rawlins would once again demonstrate his 
inability to distinguish between official CSICOP actions and 
those of its individual members. 

 Originally it was expected that the required calculations of 
Mars' position at the time of birth of U.S. champions (for the 
second test) would be performed by Prof. Owen Gingerich of 
Harvard University. But during the summer of 1978 the Harvard 
astronomer was on an extended leave so Kurtz asked Rawlins to 
perform the celestial mechanics computations. Rawlins did so and 
found in sharp contrast to Gauquelin's findings that 22% of the 
European champions were born when Mars was in the two key 
sectors, and compared to the "chance" benchmark figure of 17%, 
only 13.5% of the U.S. champions were born when Mars was in the 
two key sectors. Thus, Rawlins' calculations showed that if Mars 
had any effect on champions, it was a pronounced NEGATIVE effect 
for U.S. athletes. 

 On Sept, 18, 1978, Rawlins prepared a four-page report 
describing the procedures he had used in his calculations and a 
summary of the results. But Rawlins could not resist including 
some denigrating charges against Gauquelin. For example: 
"Gauquelin was well known in his teens for his casting of 
horoscopes (a practice he has since disowned)..." The comments 
were both gratuitous and inappropriate. 

 Relations between Rawlins and Gauquelin had been strained 
since CSICOP published a long, rambling Rawlins attack 
(Fall/Winter 1977) in which he accused Gauquelin of "misgraphing 
the results of the Belgian Comite Para check on his Mars-athletes 
link..." Gauquelin had responded with the charge that Rawlins had 
distorted and misrepresented the facts in a letter which then was 
scheduled to be published shortly in the Winter 1978 issue of THE 
SKEPTICAL INQUIRER. The same issue also would carry a sharp 
rejoinder from Rawlins. 

 Thus it is hardly surprising that Kurtz decided that it 
would be best if the upcoming summary report on the results of 
the U.S. champions test should be written by Zelen, Abell and 
himself -- especially since the three of them had jointly 
authored the earlier article and Abell had proposed the U.S. 
test. If Kurtz instead had suggested that the U.S. champions test 
report be jointly authored with Rawlins instead of Abell, 
"sTARBABY" might never have been published. This is evident from 
numerous Rawlins complaints in "sTARBABY." For example, Rawlins 
complains that the day after Kurtz received his Sept. 18, 1978, 
report (with the ad hominem attack on Gauquelin) "Kurtz wrote 
Abell to suggest KZA (Kurtz, Zelen and Abell) confer and prepare 
the test report for publication (EXCLUDING ME)." (Emphasis 
added.) (P.79.) 

 Rawlins also complains that Kurtz asked Zelen and Abell "to 
verify the work," i.e. Rawlins' calculations. (P.80.) Because of 
the importance of test, it was good scientific protocol to ask 
other specialists to at least spot-check Rawlins' computations. 
Then Rawlins reveals he was angered because "Abell asked 
countless questions about my academic training." (P. 8O.) 
Inasmuch as Rawlins lists his academic training as being in 
physics rather than astronomy, Abell's questions seem justified. 

 Further evidence of Rawlins' wounded ego is his complaint 
that "not only was Abell being invited to the press conference 
(at the upcoming Council in Washington, D.C.), he was to be the 
CSICOP spokesman on astrology in Washington." (P.81) Rawlins said 
he "strongly protested the high-handedness of the choice of Abell 
as the speaker at the annual meeting...I emphasized that CSICOP 
had plenty of astronomers associated with it (Carl Sagan, Bart 
Bok, Edwin Krupp and others), all of them nearer Washington than 
Abell who lived all the way across the country, in the Los 
Angeles area." (In fact, Krupp also lived in Southern California, 
Bok lived Arizona, and Sagan then was working in California on 
his "Cosmos" television series.) 

 In "sTARBABY," Rawlins claims that Abell had been invited to 
speak because "Kurtz was trying to suppress my dissenting report 
(of Sept. 18, 1978) and (by not paying my travel fare) to keep me 
from the December Council meeting while inviting to Washington as 
a prominent CSICOP authority the very person whose appointed task 
I HAD MYSELF PERFORMED" (his italics, p. 81). In reality, there 
was no question that Rawlins' Sept, 18, 1978, report, describing 
his analytical procedures, needed to be published. The only 
question was whether it should include the ad hominem attack on 

 It was not until approximately one year AFTER the results of 
the Zelen test were published in THE HUMANIST that Rawlins first 
charged the use of "bait-and-switch" tactics--what he calls 
"BS"--had been employed. This allegation was contained in his 
letter of Nov. 2, 1978, to Zelen, with a copy to Kurtz. BUT 
OR THAT CSICOP WAS INVOLVED. Quite the opposite. A few weeks 
later when the Winter 1978 issue of THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER was 
published, there was a Rawlins response which said: "It SHOULD BE 
COMMITTEE WAS FOUNDED"(Emphasis added.) 

 Like most members of CSICOP's Executive Council who had not 
been involved either in the first (Zelen) test or the subsequent 
U.S. champions test, and who were not sufficiently expert in 
celestial mechanics, statistics or astrology to take a prior 
interest, my first exposure to the controversy came during the 
Council meeting in Washington in early December, 1978, when 
Rawlins unleashed a rambling harrangue. Understandably I was 
confused by Rawlins' charge that CSICOP somehow was involved in a 
Zelen test-results cover-up that had occurred more than a year 
before which contradicted his just-published statement in THE 
SKEPTICAL INQUIRER stating that the original Zelen test was NOT a 
CSICOP-sponsored effort. 

 Despite my efforts to understand Rawlins' allegations, it 
was not clear to me (and to many other Council members) just what 
it was that he now was claiming had been"covered-up." After three 
years of working with Rawlins I was well aware of his proclivity 
for making harsh, exaggerated charges. Most often these were 
directed against supporters of the para-normal, but sometimes 
also against Council members who disagreed with his proposals for 
intemperate actions against "the believers." For example, Rawlins 
had charged that Truzzi was involved with the "Church of Satan." 

Beyond having difficulty in understanding the specifics of 
Rawlins' charges, I failed to grasp what he thought should be 
done to correct the alleged problem. Because the hour was getting 
late and Council members had to leave to catch flights back home, 
I suggested to Rawlins that he write a memorandum that clearly 
and concisely set forth the basic issues and that he recommend 
appropriate corrective action. In this way Council members could 
better comprehend the matter and consider corrective action if 
such were justified. Rawlins cites this in "sTARBABY" and claims 
he was the only party who had put the issues in writing. BUT HE 

 Rawlins was the last one to leave my apartment (where we had 
been meeting that night) and he continued his earlier harrangue 
but without clarifying the issues. Later, he called me from the 
airport to continue the discussion. Again I asked that he clarify 
the issues for me and other Council members by preparing a 
memorandum. I assured Rawlins that since I had not been involved 
in either of the two tests and since he had recommended my 
election to Council, he could expect me to be at least neutral if 
not sympathetic. 

 Rawlins never responded to my request. About six weeks later 
(Jan. 17, 1979), he did circulate a five-page memo to CSICOP 
Fellows and Council members. It was a "baby sTARBABY" which cited 
a number of ALLEGED mistakes that had been made by OTHERS 
involved in the tests and in CSICOP's operations. I replied on 
Jan. 31 saying that his memo was "for me an unintelligible 
jumble." I added: "without meaning to give offense to a friend, I 
once again urge you -- as I did at our meeting here -- to outline 
the problem...then outline your recommendations. And please do 
not assume, as you have done, that all of us follow the G-affair 
as closely as you have done." My letter concluded: "Skip the 
invective...outline the problem clearly, concisely, and offer 
your recommendations." 

 Rawlins never responded to this request. Today, following my 
recent investigation, I know why. There was no cover-up, except 
in Rawlins' troubled mind, fed by the fires of a wounded ego and, 
perhaps, by embarassment over his unauthorized intervention in 
the University of Toronto symposium. Rawlins was unable to 
recommend specific corrective action because nothing could have 
saved his wounded ego unless it were possible to turn back the 
clock and to have invited Rawlins to be the CSICOP speaker on 
astrology in Washington and to replace Abell in writing the 
report on the results of the U.S. champions test. 

 Readers of "sTARBABY" might easily conclude that Rawlins 
believes that Zelen/Kurtz/Abell, in the Nov/Dec. 1977 issue of 
THE HUMANIST, should have conceded "Gauquelin has won" and 
cancelled plans for the U.S. champions test. Yet had they done 
so, Rawlins would have been outraged because such a concession 
would imply that the Zelen test had proved the Mars effect beyond 
all doubt and this was not true. Had Zelen/Kurtz/Abell even 
contemplated such a concession, I am certain that Rawlins would 
have urged that they be ousted from CSICOP. 

 "sTARBABY" reveals that Rawlins imagines many things that 
simply are not true, such as his charge that I was involved in a 
plot to suppress his discussions of the Gauquelin test at the 
1978 Council meeting. His article implies that Council meetings 
are characterized by attempts to suppress dissenting views. In 
reality one usually hears almost as many different viewpoints as 
there are Council members present. And Kurtz is the most 
unconstraining group chairman I have ever known in the many 
organizations of which I have been a member. 

 Even on easily ascertainable matters, Rawlins chooses to 
rely on his vivid imagination or recollections rather than take 
time to check the facts. For example, in "sTARBABY," Rawlins 
claims that he was an "associate editor" of THE SKEPTICAL 
INQUIRER, as well as being a member of its editorial board -- 
which he was [not]. Rawlins makes that claim in seven different 
places in his article. One would expect that a person who 
imagines himself to be an associate editor of a publication over 
a period of several years would at least once look at that 
publication's masthead, where its editorial staff is listed. Had 
Rawlins done so he would not have made this spurious claim. 

 This is not an error of great consequence. But when I 
pointed it out to him, his response was revealing, especially 
because he accuses others of being unwilling to admit to error 
and of resorting to "cover-up." Rawlins' letter of Sept. 21, 
1981, explained that at a Council meeting HELD FOUR YEARS EARLIER 
he remembers that "Kurtz called all Ed. Board members 'Associate 
Editors'...I adopted to save syllables." Rawlins tries to justify 
his misstatement of fact on the grounds that he was able to save 
approximately 42 characters in his 75,000-character-long article! 

 In "sTARBABY," Rawlins claims that the full-day meeting of 
the Council in Washington was held at the National Press Club 
because this was "the temple of CSICOP's faith." (P. 86.) Had 
Rawlins asked me, I would have informed him that I had selected 
the National Press Club because it was the lowest-cost facility 
in downtown Washington that I could find. But Rawlins decided he 
knew the answer without bothering to investigate. This is neither 
good science nor good journalism. 

 In the previously cited Rawlins memorandum of Jan. 17, 1979, 
following the Washington meeting, he wrote that he planned to 
reduce his involvement with CSICOP. He added that there was no 
reason to "hide" CSICOP's problems "from the public. So I may 
inform a neutral, responsible, unsensational member of the press 
re the foregoing." In reality Rawlins already had taken such 
steps at the December Council meeting whose press seminar was 
attended by an experienced journalist with a known empathy for 
some paranormal claims. During the early afternoon Rawlins and 
this journalist left the meeting together and returned together 
several hours later. But this journalist never published anything 
on the matter, possibly because he has as much difficulty in 
understanding Rawlins' charges as did Council members. 

 According to "sTARBABY," in mid-1979, Rawlins received a 
letter from Jerome Clark of FATE magazine, expressing an interest 
in learning more about Rawlins' complaints against CSICOP. 
Rawlins claims that shortly afterward "I told the Council I'd be 
open with FATE." I question the truthfulness of his statement 
because Rawlins did not bother to attend the next Council meeting 
in December, 1979, nor have I been able to locate any Rawlins 
letter or memorandum to substantiate this claim. 

 "sTARBABY" claims that "as the FATE-story realization set 
in, Council reacted like the White House when it learned that 
John Dean had sat down with the prosecution (during the Watergate 
scandal). (P.91) This claim I know to be false. The prospect of a 
Rawlins article in FATE was never discussed at the 1979 or 1980 
Council meetings, nor by memorandum during the two intervening 
years. Otherwise CSICOP would have prepared a response which it 
could have released immediately following publication of 
"sTARBABY," preventing Rawlins from boasting that failure of 
CSICOP to respond quickly to his many charges indicated an 
inability to do so. 

 Returning, chronologically, to the fall of 1979, CSICOP was 
preparing to publish the results of the U.S. champions test in 
the Winter 1979-80 issue of THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER. Rawlins 
demanded the right to revise and expand his original Sept, 18, 
1978, paper, and was given that opportunity. Furthermore, 
according to "sTARBABY," Rawlins informed Ken Frazier, editor of 
THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, "that if there were any alterations not 
cleared with me, I wanted a note printed with the paper stating 
that deletions had occurred over the author's protest and that 
the missing portions could be obtained directly from me." (P. 

 Frazier (who had been recommended for the position by 
Rawlins himself), acting on the recommendation of Prof. Ray 
Hyman, a Council member who reviewed the Rawlins paper and the 
others, and on Frazier's own long editorial experience, decided 
to delete the sentence referring to Gauquelin's earlier interest 
in traditional astrology. Frazier also opted to delete another 
sentence that read: "In this connection I must also say that, 
given the self piekill upshot (sic) of their European 
(nonchampions) adventure plus their failure to perform 
independently the U.S. study's technical foundations (sector 
position, expectation curve), I find it amusing that ZKA (Zelen, 
Kurtz, Abell) are the main commentators on this test in THE 
SKEPTICAL INQUIRER." Once again Rawlins' wounded-ego had 
manifested itself. 

 On Nov, 6, 1979, Rawlins sent a memo to other members of the 
Editorial Board complaining that his article "has been neatly 
censored here and there, so I have asked to add a statement 
saying so and suggesting that readers who wish to consult the 
original version may do so by contacting me. This sentence has 
itself been bowdlerized (so that it reads as if no tampering 
occurred)." Frazier had proposed an alternative sentence, which 
was published at the end of the Rawlins paper, that read: 
"Further commentary on the issues raised in this paper and in 
these notes is available from the author." Rawlins' address also 
was published. 

 This is the basis for Rawlins' harsh charges of "censorship" 
against Frazier, the man whom he had so highly recommended for the 
position. If Rawlins' complaint were justified, every working 
journalist could make the same accusations regularly against 
those who edit his/her copy to assure clarity and good taste and 
to avoid libel. In response to Rawlins' charges, Frazier wrote to 
members of the Editorial Board explaining what had transpired. 
Frazier noted, "Dennis seems to believe his position as a member 
of the Editorial Board gives his writings special status exempt 
from normal editorial judgment. None of the rest of you has ever 
suggested this," i.e. demanded privileged treatment. So because 
Rawlins was not given privileged treatment, he charges 

 In the same Nov. 6, 1979, letter charging censorship, 
Rawlins complained that he alone among Council members had not 
been reimbursed for his travel expenses of $230 to the previous 
Council meeting in Washington. Rawlins said that he would need 
$400.00 for travel to attend the upcoming Council meeting in New 
York and added "I won't do that unless all 63O dollars are here 
beforehand." Kurtz promptly sent Rawlins a check for $350 as a 
travel advance and assured him he would be reimbursed for 
previous travel expense as soon as he submitted an expense 
account--which Rawlins had never done (In "sTARBABY," Rawlins 
characterizes this as a "ridiculous excuse" for failure to 
reimburse him earlier.) Rawlins cashed the $350 check but did not 
attend the New York Council meeting, nor did he inform the 
Council that he would not attend. Rawlins never refunded the $120 
difference between $230 he claimed was due him and the $350 he 
received. Yet Rawlins professes to have been shocked and 
surprised when the Council voted unanimously not to reelect 
Rawlins at its New York meeting. (Since Rawlins seems so easily 
shocked and surprised, I suspect he was equally surprised at the 
resignation of Richard M. Nixon.) 

 Two months later, Rawlins wrote to Frazier saying he wished 
to resign from the Editorial Board. But he insisted that the 
resignation should not take effect until his statement 
complaining about not being reelected "in absentia" was 
published. This Rawlins statement claimed that he had not been 
reelected solely because he had criticized "CSICOP's conduct 
during ITS FOUR YEAR INVOLVEMENT in testing Gauquelin's neo- 
astrology..." (Emphasis added.) 

 Had Frazier opted to publish this grossly inaccurate 
statement, which he did not, readers might well have wondered if 
there were really two different Dennis Rawlins, recalling barely 
a year earlier when a Rawlins letter had been published which 
said: "It should be clearly understood that CSICOP as a body 
never had anything to do with the Humanist Zelen test 
'challenge'..." When Frazier accepted Rawlins' resignation, this 
prompted Rawlins to complain that he had been removed from the 
Editorial Board without "cause or written notice." Later, 
following a mail ballot of Council members, CSICOP dropped 
Rawlins from its list of Fellows. (The vote against Rawlins was 

 The foregoing highlights the key issues and actions that 
prompted FATE and Rawlins to charge that CSICOP "bungled their 
major investigation, falsified the results, covered up their 
errors and gave the boot to a colleague who threatened to tell 
the truth." (After my investigation, a re-reading of "sTARBABY" 
gives me the feeling that I am reading a Pravda account 
explaining that the Soviets moved into Afghanistan to help the 
Afghans prevent an invasion by the U.S. Central Intelligence 

 Were it possible to turn back the clock, undoubtedly Kurtz, 
Zelen and Abell would try to be more precise in defining test 
objectives and protocol and would do so in writing. And more time 
would be spent in more carefully phrasing articles dealing with 
such tests. But all CSICOP Council members and Fellows have other 
full-time professions that seriously constrain time available for 
CSICOP efforts. 

Were it possible to turn back the clock, the Council should have 
insisted in the spring of 1978 that Rawlins issue a public 
statement that he had erred in using CSICOP's name in support of 
his personal actions connected with the University of Toronto's 
planned astrology symposium. Failure to do this has resulted in 
an unjustified blot on CSICOP's modus-operandi. Also at that time 
the Council should have developed a policy statement, as it 
recently did, that more clearly delineates activities that 
members perform officially in behalf of CSICOP and those carried 
out as private individuals. 

 When a small group of persons met in Buffalo in May, 1976, 
to create CSICOP, their motivation was a concern over the growing 
public acceptance of claims of the paranormal. CSICOP was created 
to provide a counter-balance to those who espouse a variety of 
claims, ranging from UFOs to astrology, from the "Bermuda 
Triangle" to psychic phenomena. With the benefit of experience, 
it was apparent that there was an extreme spectrum of viewpoints 
on the Council. Rawlins was at the "hit-'em-hard" extreme, while 
Truzzi was at the opposite pole and resigned after a couple 
years, partially as a result of behind-the scenes plotting by 
Rawlins which he admits in "sTARBABY." Now Rawlins has departed 
and, in my view, CSICOP is much the better for it. 

 CSICOP never has tried to destroy those organizations that 
promote belief in paranormal causes. But individuals in these 
organization have tried to discredit CSICOP, even going so far in 
one instance as to circulate a forged letter. 

 FATE magazine made wide distribution of the Rawlins 
"sTARBABY" article in reprint form, together with its press 
release. Prof. R.A. McConnell, University of Pittsburgh, founding 
President of the Parapsychological Association, also distributed 
copies to CSICOP Fellows and Council members, among others. In 
his accompanying letter, McConnell said he believed the "Rawlins 
report is certainly true in broad outline and probably true in 
every detail...He has created a document of importance for the 
history and philosophy of science." McConnell quoted an "unnamed 
scientist" as claiming that "Rawlins has uncovered the biggest 
scandal in the history of rationalism." McConnell characterized 
CSICOP as "an intellectually dishonest enterprise." 

 FATE and McConnell have demonstrated the intrinsic flaw in 
the basic approach of those who promote claims of the paranormal 
contacted CSICOP officials to check out Rawlins' charges. This 
demonstrates why CSICOP is so sorely needed. 

 The late President Harry Truman phrased it well: "If you 
can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." CSICOP is "in the 
kitchen" by choice and intends to remain there despite the heat. 
The response of CSICOP's Council and its Fellows to recent events 
shows that the Committee is not an easy victim of heat- 

 If the Mars effect, or any other paranormal hypothesis, 
should ever be demonstrated using rigorous scientific procedures, 
there simply is no way in which the small group of individuals 
involved in CSICOP could ever hope to suppress such evidence. Nor 
have I found any CSICOP Council member or Fellow who is so 
foolish as to try. 


 [In the years following "sTARBABY", Rawlins has continued to 
 receive publicity by making sensational charges of 
 scientific coverup and fraud. In 1988 he made national 
 headlines by renewing an earlier charge he had made before 
 CSICOP's founding, this time supposedly supported by a new- 
 found document: that Admiral Peary never actually reached 
 the North Pole during his famous expedition in 1909, but 
 instead fabricated his navigational records to make it 
 appear as if he had. A New York Times article of October 13, 
 1988 carries the headline: "Peary's Notes Said to Imply He 
 Fell Short of Pole." It begins: "New evidence based on 
 navigational notes by Robert E. Peary indicates that the 
 Arctic explorer fell short of his goal and deliberately 
 faked his claim in 1909 that he was the first person to 
 reach the North Pole, according to an analysis by a 
 Baltimore astronomer and historian ... Dennis Rawlins, an 
 independent scholar who trained as an astronomer and who has 
 a long-standing interest in Peary's expedition, said 
 yesterday that his analysis of the navigational notes, 
 mainly sextant readings of the sun to establish geographic 
 position, indicated that Peary knew that he had come no 
 closer than 121 miles from the Pole." Officials of the 
 National Geographic Society promised to examine Rawlins' 
 data, but added "We believe Mr. Rawlins has been too quick 
 to cry fake." 

 After a three-month investigation of Rawlins' charges, a 
 press conference was sponsored by The Navigation Foundation 
 at which they dismissed his "sensational claims". As 
 reported in a Baltimore Sun story syndicated Feb. 2, 1989, 
 "Since October [Natl. Geographic] Society President Gilbert 
 M. Grosvenor and others had quietly endured Rawlins' public 
 calls for debate and unconditional surrender on the Peary 
 issue." The Society was willing to take seriously an 
 analysis by the British explorer Wally Herbert, based on 
 other evidence, that a navigation error may have caused 
 Peary to miss the pole by about 45 miles. "Suggesting that 
 Peary might not have reached the Pole is one thing," said 
 Grosvenor. "Declaring Peary a fraud is quite another." 
 Rawlins held his own "informal press conference" afterwards, 
 reports The Sun, in which Rawlins "admitted he had confused 
 time readings for chronometer checks with altitudes of the 
 sun and had mistaken serial numbers on the chronometers for 
 navigational observations." Rawlins conceded, "My 
 interpretation has some problems, and I acknowledge that. 
 It's fair to say that, if I'm saying Peary was a fraud, I 
 think I have not yet met the burden of proof." 

 Finally, in December, 1989, a 230-page report commissioned 
 by the National Geographic Society was released, concluding 
 that Peary actually did reach the Pole. As reported in a 
 story on p.1 of the New York Times, Dec. 12, 1989, a new 
 analysis of Peary's records by professional navigators 
 concluded that Peary's final camp was not more than five 
 miles from the Pole. "The report said, there was no evidence 
 of fraud and deception in the explorer's records. But one 
 critic, Dennis Rawlins, a Baltimore astronomer and 
 historian, said he remained convinced, despite the new 
 study, that Admiral Peary did not reach his goal and had 
 faked his claim." 

 Robert Sheaffer, Nov., 1991] 
Rick Moen - via RBBS-NET node 8:914/201 
INTERNET: moen@f207.n914.z8.RBBS-NET.ORG 

 Robert Sheaffer, Nov., 1991]