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Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science

"Science," he says, "is the only way humankind has found of separating truth from fraud or mere foolishness; it's what we've learned about how not to fool ourselves." With acerbic wit and humorous repartee, Robert L. Park, professor of physics at the University of Maryland, asks why we believe weird things even when no evidence supports our claims. "Science," he writes, "is the only way of knowing--everything else is superstition. Everything in the universe is governed by the same natural laws; there is a physical cause behind every event." A humanist and naturalist, Park asserts that science rejects appeal to authority in favor of empirical evidence. He attacks pseudoscience--from so-called "intelligent design" and young-Earth fundamentalism to New Age mysticism, homeopathic "remedies," and snake-oil "cures."

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Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial

Available August 18th
in the U.S.

Available May 27th
in Canada

Trick or Treatment:
by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

The ultimate verdict on alternative medicine.

Welcome to the world of alternative medicine. Prince Charles is a staunch defender and millions of people swear by it; most UK doctors consider it to be little more than superstition and a waste of money. But how do you know which treatments really heal and which are potentially harmful? Now at last you can find out, thanks to the formidable partnership of Professor Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh. Edzard Ernst is the world's first professor of complementary medicine, based at Exeter University, where he has spent over a decade analysing meticulously the evidence for and against alternative therapies.He is supported in his findings by Simon Singh, the well-known and highly respected science writer of several international bestsellers. Together they have written the definitive book on the subject. It is honest, impartial but hard-hitting, and provides a thorough examination and judgement of more than thirty of the most popular treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, chiropractic and herbal medicine.

In "Trick or Treatment?" the ultimate verdict on alternative medicine is delivered for the first time with clarity, scientific rigour and absolute authority.

Book reviews

How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All

by Rose Shapiro

Suckers reveals how alternative medicine can jeopardize the health of those it claims to treat, leaches resources from treatments of proven efficacy and is largely unaccountable and unregulated. In short, it is an industry that preys on human vulnerability and makes fools of us all.

  • Review by Steven Poole in The Guardian

  • The Cure Within
    A History of Mind-Body Medicine

    by Anne Harrington

    Reviewed by Dr. Jerome Groopman

    In “The Cure Within,” her splendid history of mind-body medicine, Anne Harrington tries to explain why we draw connections between emotions and illness, and helps trace how today’s myriad alternative and complementary treatments came to be. A professor and chairman of the history of science department at Harvard, Harrington has produced a book that desperately needed to be written.

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    Skeptic Canada - Society for Critical Inquiry

  • SkeptEx at University of Toronto

  • Can this card save you? Gentle Wind's big-buck healing instruments panned by ex-members in blockbuster article by Steve Jones in Now Toronto magazine.

  • Trauma-card story needed a critical eye
    Toronto Star Ombud - Sept. 25
    The Toronto Star Ombud Don Sellar issued an apology to those who complained to the Star after Janice Mawhinney's asinine piece about The Gentle Wind Project.
    • Despite all of the negative publicity GWP is still came to the Sheraton Centre in Toronto on October 9-10

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  • Gentle Wind Project
    Why should your "donations" support?:

    2002 Filings on GuideStar EZ

    • Lavish lifestyle for its officers
    • Winters in Florida
    • Luxury cars
    • Medical expenses for relatives
    • Expensive golf outings
    • Yacht
    • High-end electronics and multi-media

    Final Settlement Gentle Wind Project Lawsuit

    Marking a landmark victory for freedom of speech, former members of Gentle Wind Project (GWP), Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey, husband and wife from Blue Hill, ME, are pleased to announce that they have written the terms for a Settlement Agreement that was requested by John “Tubby” Miller and Mary “Moe” Miller (AKA Panuthos/Carreiro), co-founders of GWP, and their co-plaintiffs, Shelly Miller, Carol Miller, Joan Carreiro, and Pam Ranheim. The agreement ends 2 ½ years of lawsuits against the couple.

    Maine Attorney General Shuts Down
    Gentle Wind Project

    The state has entered into a consent decree with The Gentle Wind Project that dissolves the organization and forbids its founders from making false claims about its so-called "healing instruments.

    Ill-wind from the Gentle Wind Project and the Toronto Star?

    Trauma Card Janice Mawhinney, a writer for the Toronto Star, has done a marvelous job to help advance medical quackery in Canada. In October 2002 she first penned an infamous article about a presentation at the Sheraton Centre Hotel by the Gentle Wind Project, a dubious U.S. based not-for-profit [IRS 501 (c)] charitable organization.

    The title of that article was "Passing the puck - Gentle Wind Project says multicoloured instruments relieve emotional distress". It was a terrible example of the promotion of health fraud and quackery. Complaints against Mawhinney were made several times to the Toronto Star.

    Then on September 17, 2004 she repeated her stellar quack-boosting effort with yet another piece of sloppy journalism. This one was entitled "Holding this will heal you, say trauma card believers - Helps restore emotional stability". Why the editors didn't pay attention to previous complaints about Mawhinney's performance is impossible to discern.

    It's not like negative information about the Gentle Wind Project has been absent from the internet, the media, or the courts over the last few months. There have been investigative reports, lawsuits, and counter-lawsuits that involve the officers and former officers of the organization. Any fool with half-a-brain would have been able to stumble across the controversy in a Google moment.

    So, who at the Toronto Star will have to get out the yellow flag, and mark Mawhinney's report card with an "F"? What will it take for Health Canada, or the Competition Bureau, or the Canada Revenue Agency to crack down on these promoters and their supporters in Canada?

    If they are a cult, and they seem to have behaved like one according to some individuals, then they do not deserve tax-exempt status in the U.S. and supporters in Canada who send money to them should not have any tax deduction on their own returns.

    When they come to the Sheraton Centre Toronto again on October 9-10, will someone be there to gather evidence? Good luck and beware of any scams that involve unapproved healing services.

    Terry Polevoy, MD

    Gentle Wind Project & the Instrument Keepers

    Healing PuckThe Gentle Wind Project is a non-profit charitable group based in Kittery, Maine. For the last 20 years or so, the leaders of the GWP claim to have invented and promoted the sale and/or use of dozens various types of quack "healing" devices around the world. They accept large "donations", sometimes in the thousands of dollars for the privilege of using one of their gizmos.

    GWP recruit others who market for them. These people are usually called Instrument Keepers. The list is generally secret, but you can request to see one near you by calling the organization’s phone number, or contacting them by e-mail. There may be thousands of them who live in Canada and the U.S.

    They claim to have sent their devices around the world, wherever healing is needed. They will be coming to the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto on Oct. 9-10.

    Here is a quote from a web site that has serious questions about them:

    "The organization holds seminars across the country, selling "healing instrument" products for donations ranging from $450 to upwards of $10,000, asserting they have exclusive healing technology that is channeled telepathically from the 'spirit world' and has healing powers."

    Some people will believe anything, no matter what the source, and GWP has some serious problems of credibility. There have been a number of investigations launched by the individuals, the media and we suspect government agencies, too. It's no secret that the organizers and their flock of Instrument Keepers are on the defensive.

    When the truth was presented by former members on the internet, Gentle Wind’s leaders decided to sue them. That reminds me of what Scientologists do to silence criticism. It's all the more reason to suspect the worst. Lawsuits are a typical cult response to the light of truth.

    Some of their income tax returns are available on the internet and it reveals that they have frittered money away on things such as luxury cars, fancy homes, expensive meals and food services, not to mention the use of their yacht, fancy electronic equipment, for research purposes. Get this, the tax returns reveal that they've arranged huge loans to a relative for medical treatment. According to IRS regulations, that is not what a charitable organization is supposed to do. It is quite possible that The Attorney General's Office in Maine is examining the group, and one might expect even the IRS. GWP sometimes claims that over 3 million people around the world have used or benefitted from their healing instruments and that there are 12,000 "Instrument Keepers" in the United States and other countries including the UK, India, New Zealand, Australia etc.

    [In the links below, you will have an opportunity to decide for yourself. Is this a scam, are they a cult, or do you really believe in their claims and those who market their unproved ideas and devices?]

    Lawsuits come and go - just like the "Gentle Wind"

  • Judge throws out lawsuit - Portland Press - January 9, 2006
    A federal judge has thrown out a racketeering and defamation lawsuit filed by a Maine-based spiritual healing organization against former members who wrote that they had been financially and sexually exploited by the group's leaders. Senior U.S. District Judge Gene Carter found that "no reasonable person could conclude" that the former members of the Gentle Wind Project, Judy Garvey and her husband, Jim Bergin, violated federal racketeering laws when they worked with the operators of Web sites to publish articles in which the couple compared the organization to a "mind control cult." Carter also dismissed claims of defamation and "false light" invasion of privacy, saying they did not belong in federal court.

  • The Millers faceoff again - Portland Press Herald Writer Gregory D. Kesich - January 2005
    Gentle Wind Project sues couple over Internet postings - The Gentle Wind Project collected millions of dollars in donations by distributing plastic healing instruments that believers say alleviate suffering through the regeneration of human energy fields damaged by trauma. The organization and six of its officers have filed a complex defamation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Portland. It charges that former adherents James Bergin and Judy Garvey, a married couple from Blue Hill, made false accusations of financial and sexual exploitation that damaged the organization's reputation and slowed the flow of donations, its only income.

  • Lawsuit against duo dismissed - Update 15th October 2004 - Lawsuit filed by the GWP against Steve Gamble (Equilibra) and Ivan Fraser (Truth Campaign) has now been dismissed from Court, with prejudice and without costs.

  • Download the agreement - Adobe .pdf file
  • The Ying and Yang of GWP

    [In the last few months there have been attacks and counter-attacks about GWP in the news and most of that news has been bad for the Instrument Keepers and their puppet masters who have been pulling the string for two decades. In this section we will focus on web sites that have blown this story out in the open, the dust hasn't settled, and we think we know which way the wind will carry what's left of this organization]
  • Wind of Changes - former board members charge that the GWP is not what they seem. They are presently being sued in the U.S. by GWP.

  • Special Investigations Agency - US-SIA- "Vulnerable Victims Scammed out of Thousands of Dollars!" The Law Offices of Carl H. Starrett II have volunteered to help the victims of the Gentle Wind Project.

  • Freedom of Mind Center - Steve Alan Hassan's archived web site that lays out his impressions of GWP as a cult. The original web site is down, but there are still two versions of it in cyberspace. The information was submitted by former members of the Gentle Wind Project. DESCRIPTION: A psychotherapeutic / new age group. Some original members were reportedly therapy clients of the group's founders. People are recruited through seminars, newsletters, and offers of free “healings” by members of the group. "Healings" are said to come from the “spirit world” through the use of "healing instruments" that repair "damages to the aura" and "break the cycle of reincarnation," causing evolution to take place. These instruments are said to be designed by the “spirit world”; then the designs are “channeled” through “telepathic impressions” to the leader of the group, John Miller, who designs them on the computer. They are then produced by group members in several workshops owned by the group, and are made available to purchasers for “contributions” ranging from approximately $400 to upwards of $20,000. After someone buys an instrument, they may continue to "upgrade" to more advanced instruments. They thus become an “instrument keeper” and begin receiving newsletters and are invited to seminars. They are encouraged to acquire more instruments, and are given “information” about their lives via telephone or other personal communication.

    Over twenty years, there have been over 100 variations of healing instruments developed. Hoped for outcomes of curing cancer, curing the common cold, ending drug addiction and alcoholism, have all been made, then usually forgotten as another instrument is designed with new claims.

    The group, through their board of directors (the members living with John Miller or nearby) own several valuable homes, and many cars, including BMW's and Corvettes. They are a "nonprofit group" whose tax returns are available to the public through www.guidestar.com (search for Gentle Wind Retreat). In addition to having their living expenses, recreation, food, transportation, and clothing supplied by the non-profit corporation, each of the top ring of hierarchy receives a salary of $25,000 and up, and upwards of $52,000 as of 2001-02, as reported on the Gentle Wind taxes, while other group members work for free or minimum wage.

  • New Zealand Cults - Believed by many to be a New Age cult/business cult/scam. A group officially launched in New Zealand in early 2004 by Mary Miller, with the current NZ contact person Grace Maiden. They have a detailed report in .pdf format.

  • Watch the Channel 10 video from San Diego television station. The story has an interesting twist, including multiple lawsuits and charges by some that this is nothing more than a cult.

  • San Diego's Channel 10 to find out more about GWP and the defendants in their lawsuit -

  • Foster’s Sunday Citizen – “New Age Therapy Group Sues Over Website”

  • Alison Mau's interview with Mary Miller - New Zealand's "Breakfast Television" show - Feb. 12, 2004. It is in .mp3 format. I have never heard so many lies and false claims and they were accepted as gospel by Ms. Mau. I will be working on a transcript in a short while. Link to the TV-One Breakfast Show.

  • Rick Ross's web site with many links of interest. He is from New Jersey and has an enormous knowledge of destructive cults, controversial groups and movements.

    Internal Revenue let this organization get away with huge deductions that any accountant would have disallowed.

      Tax returns are available as a matter of public record. For the last year that is available (September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2002) the organization grossed over $1.57 million U.S. The tax formed wasprepared and signed by Shelly Miller, Treasurer, on July 17, 2003 and was stamped RECEIVED by the IRS on July 20, 2003 in Ogden, Utah. You can see for yourself what this organization spent their money on, and you will be amazed. And you will be more amazed that the IRS didn't scrutinize this return for serious errors or order an audit.
    • 2002 Return
    • 2001 Return
    • 2000 Return
    • 1999 Return
    • 1998 Return
    • IRS Exemption Requirements for 501 (c) Charitable organizations

      To be tax-exempt as an organization described in IRC Section 501(c)(3) of the Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the purposes set forth in IRC Section 501(c)(3) and none of the earnings of the organization may inure to any private shareholder or individual. The articles of organization must limit the organization's purposes to one or more of the exempt purposes set forth in IRC Section 501(c)(3) and must not expressly empower it to engage, other than as an insubstantial part of its activities, in activities that are not in furtherance of one or more of those purposes. The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of an IRC Section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any managers agreeing to the transaction.

    • IRS Filing requirements for form 990

    • IRS Publication 557 - Tax Exempt Status of Your Organization

  • Search GuideStar EZ for nonprofit filingsGuideStar.com - The Nonprofit database search engine. You can download and review all of their Federal filings, including the tax returns above for confirmation. Just enter the name Gentle Wind Retreat in the search for Nonprofits at the top of the first column and that's all you need. All you have to do is enter your name and a few demographics and a password and you are in.

    Show me the puck

    • Ripoffreport.com - It's nothing but sand, eh?
      Follow this series of posts for some interesting critiques and praise for GWP. This one was submitted to Ripoffreport.com on Sept. 25, 2004: In Yahoo! groups, there is a group dedicated to victims of the Gentle Wind Project. There a report [was] published by a former "instrument keeper" that decided to take apart a "healing puck" to see what was inside. According to the GWP web site, the "healing puck" helps cure "emotional imbalances" and is available for a "donation" of $1250.

      When the "device" was taken apart, they reported finding what can best be described as scented sand.

      There is a website to conduct research on nonprofit organizations: www.guidestar.com.

      GWP is listed on this web site and has voluntarily posted information regarding the organization, including several years of tax returns as recently as 2002. It makes for an interesting read.

      Among the more interesting entries: $66,979 for "Research - boat", $89,109 for "Research - electronics" and $66,365 for "Research - shop". I guess all the telepathic impressions that [they] get from the spirit world aren't good enough and have to be supplemented by "research".

      Carl - El Cajon, California

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