Archive for March, 2013

Oklahoma Bigfoot report page

Posted: March 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

I found a fun page over at the North American Ape Conservatory listing reported Bigfoot sightings in Oklahoma. This should be good.

For example, the spot on the map listed for one of the two reported sightings in Canadian County is a location just between the Lucky Star Casino and a smoke shop. Me thinks somebody is having a laugh at the Conservatory’s expense.

There is one in Oklahoma County of all places. It is a half mile from a golf course.

The most recent report I could find dates to 2009 in McCurtain County near Battiest. Apparently, they only post reports after an interview with the witnesses. This might be helpful if we could know who the witnesses are, and verify details of their stories. We can’t, because the witnesses are kept anonymous. Which basically makes this all useless.

The 2009 report comes with pictures the site claims are of a track.

Alleged bigfoot track.

Alleged bigfoot track.

It doesn’t look like a track to me, but I’m not an expert. It looks to me like a hole dug into the ground, not an impression. Then again, I’m not an anonymous person claiming to have a background in zoology. I’m an anonymous blogger claiming that the existence of an extant North American ape species, in Oklahoma or otherwise, is highly improbable.

One of the podcasts I listen to is Lexicon Valley, a show put out by Slate Magazine on language. That may not sound very interesting, but it is actually pretty amazing. For example, in late 2012 they had an episode on the development of the Cherokee alphabet by Sequoyah.

Every good Oklahoma kid learns about Sequoya in elementary or middle school during the section of history that covers Native Americans and the Trail of Tears. That isn’t to say we learn very much. Other than that he was Cherokee, and that he invented the Cherokee alphabet, I couldn’t tell you anything about him before listening to that Lexicon Valley episode.

That’s a real shame, because Sequoyah was a pretty interesting guy. He was not literate, and didn’t actually learn to read before he created his alphabet. I’m pretty sure that’s only happened a couple of other times in the history of humanity, and even then it wasn’t a single person doing it out from scratch. Alphabets usually developed slowly over generations. Sequoyah created his in twelve years.

What happened after Sequoyah’s alphabet came into popular use among the Cherokee is what I’m interested in talking about today.

The alphabet was created in the late 1810s and early 1820s, prior to the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee Nation was located in the Southeastern United States, and was one of the most heavily assimilated of the Native American tribes. At the same time that Sequoyah was developing his alphabet, there was a lot of pressure being placed on Cherokee peoples to relocate to Oklahoma. This began happening in with a large group that moved west in 1817, while Sequoyah was still developing his alphabet.

After its creation, Sequoyah’s alphabet was quickly adopted, and led to the development of the first Native American language newspaper, where the debate about relocation played out every week. The faction that was resigned to the inevitability of emigration debated with the faction that was convinced that they could assimilate and be allowed to stay. In fact, the newspaper itself was rallied as evidence that the Cherokee tribe was civilized and assimilated enough to be accepted by the white citizens.

When gold was discovered in Georgia in 1828, the fate of the Cherokee tribe was effectively sealed. Prospectors began trespassing into Cherokee land, and pressured the government. It took another decade, and appeals to the Supreme Court, but the Cherokee were eventually forced off their land and the Trail of Tears lives as a stain on the history of the United States to this day.

The last issue of the Cherokee Phoenix in Georgia was printed in 1834, but when the headquarters of the tribe relocated to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the newspaper eventually did as well. In fact, it still exists and is still in print today. You can also find e-editions online. There are articles in both English and Cherokee syllabary. The Cherokee portion is really beautiful.

Other sources for this story:

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/C/CH022.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2012/12/lexicon_valley_on_sequoyah_a_native_american_who_invented_an_alphabet_for.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_Removal

Last week I wrote about parents complaining their children are being taught Scientology indoctrination by way of Narconon’s anti-drug campaign, and rightly so. The program is pretty awful and based on L. Ron Hubbard’s inaccurate pronouncements about the nature of pharmacology.

At the same time, there is a bill working its way quite rapidly through the Oklahoma legislature. Considering they can’t get Governor Mary Fallin’s tax cut figured out with a Republican supermajority, it is pretty amazing that Senate Bill 295 has sailed through the first chamber 46-0 and is already in the House Public Health Committee. You should be writing your House Representative in favor of this, by the way.

On top of that, earlier in March, all of the counselors at Narconon Arrowhead had their certification revoked. Those who have been following my reporting on this story will remember that back in the 1990s when Narconon was trying to get going in Oklahoma, it ended up in a protracted fight with the State Mental Health Board that ended up in courts. Eventually, Narconon took advantage of a loophole in the law that allowed them to seek certification from a private entity. Apparently, due to all of the bad publicity and pressure, that private entity has even withdrawn its support for Narconon.

The former Narconon Arrowhead President Lucas Catton is probably glad he bailed on the facility and the church.

Now, as if all of that wasn’t bad enough, five new lawsuits have been filed against Narconon Arrowhead.

From the Tulsa World:

Five lawsuits filed Thursday allege that an Oklahoma drug rehabilitation facility engaged in false representation, fraud and deceit in its dealing with patients.

Narconon Arrowhead’s program “has the appearance of being nothing more than a pyramid scheme and sham” that operates to extort money while acting as a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology, according to one of the lawsuits filed Thursday in Pittsburg County District Court.

The other four lawsuits, brought by former Narconon patients or their family members, make similar claims.

This is on top of the three wrongful death lawsuits that are already working their way through the system.

None of these new lawsuits is for more than $25,000 a piece, which is a drop in the bucket for an organization backed by a number of Hollywood celebrities. Still, it is one more black eye for an organization that is already reeling from tons of bad press both in and out of the state. I’ve set up a Google Alert for the words “Scientology” and “Oklahoma,” and no more than a day or two goes by recently where I don’t get another headline popping up in my inbox.

Prepare to commence schadenfreude.

Every once in a while, I’ll scan through the Friendly Atheist blog over at Patheos for the word “Oklahoma.” His site is a veritable torrent of news stories, and it isn’t unusual for Oklahoma to end up in his cross hairs. Last week was no exception. Hemant picked up on a story from the Tulsa World.

It turns out that the Tulsa branch of Nebraska-based Voss Lighting, a company who has both a business and a biblical mission statement, doesn’t like hiring non-Christians. In an interview, a potential employee was asked about when he became saved, which churches he had attended in the last ten years, and whether he would come in off hours for Bible studies.

This was a huge mistake. It turns out that discriminating against an employee or potential employee on religious grounds, even if you are a for-profit that has a religious mission statement (hell, especially if you are a for-profit that has a religious mission statement), is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Who knew? You’d think a company that has been around since 1939 would know better. Idiots.

I wish a company would do that to me when I was applying for a job. I wouldn’t have to work for a year when I got done suing the pants off of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Voss trucks plastered with Bible verses wandering around Edmond and OKC.

/engage “Google”

Yep, they have a location in OKC. If you are looking for a job, and want to get a year’s worth of free salary, go apply with these morons. Maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll grill you about your religious preferences before turning you down.

Back in early December, I had a post called My visit to a hate group, where I recounted visiting Artisan Publishers, a place in Muskogee registered on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map.

It took nearly four months, but someone claiming to work at Artisan Publishers commented on the article.

Firstly, the lightning bolt on my ’99 F150 is most assuredly not Native. It’s the logo for a Christian rock band whose name was underneath. Secondly, directed at the comment below, there is no ‘obelisk’ in the Artisan logo. It’s the words ‘Artisan Publishers’ over the top of the planet earth. I’m not sure how the nutjobs at Southern got wind of us or what book was cited as hate material, but I do know that the book in question was offered to them for review and they rejected it like the ignorant blowhards they are and they refused to remove us from their site, even though they have no reason for us to be there.

In a later post, he pointed out that the band is The Wedding. As you can see from their symbol, what I thought from a distance was a lightning bolt was not. I’ll admit I screwed up on that one.

As for there being an obelisk on the Artisan logo, that is in response to a comment by @zeroanaphora.

You be brave!
If anyone’s wondering what the stone obelisk is on Artisan’s logo, it’s the Taylor or Sennacherib prism, an Assyrian text that describes the siege of Jerusalem (thus proving that all the Bible is historically accurate, I guess!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_prism

Nutters.

You can see the obelisk she is talking about in the Artisan banner here. It is clearly the Sennacherib prism.

Finally, I explained in my post that I suspect they are listed due to their promotion of British-Israelism, which is a major theme in the Christian Identity movement.

I contacted the SPLC on email and Twitter asking about why Artisan Publishers is listed, and if they have a procedure for getting a group removed from the Hate Map. As for press time, I hadn’t heard back from them. I’ll let you know if I find anything out.

The guy from Artisan also said this:

Also, one thing that needs to be pointed out is that we do not publish all the books that we sell. We resell about half the books on the website. So whether or not the book is accurate isn’t our doing, we are just meeting a demand for the books.

That’s a pretty flimsy defense. I don’t care if they publish a book or just feature it on their site. It would be one thing if they were Amazon, where they sell everything. That’s not what they are doing.

Yesterday, I talked about how parents in some Oklahoma schools are upset about Narconon, a Scientology front group, getting into public schools under the auspices of anti-drug campaigns.

Now, I have very little doubt that most of the parents haven’t actually looked at Narconon’s literature. It is reasonable to assume that many of them don’t like Narconon because it doesn’t hold with their religious views. This is Oklahoma after all.

I also mentioned yesterday that mainstream secular anti-drug programs like DARE are problematic. DARE has been shown to be either unsuccessful, or actually counterproductive.

I’m going to admit up front that I can’t give empirical data indicating why exactly it is that DARE doesn’t work. I have opinions that are informed by anecdote and appeals to the best explanation, but I can’t prove that my opinions are correct with studies. I also have to make a bit of an embarrassing admission. I’ve never used illegal drugs. I never drank alcohol until I was 21, and even then I never came close to abusing it. I have been high on prescription drugs, but only those that were prescribed to me and in recommended doses. I have a fairly addictive personality, and I support that tendency with a video games and blogging habit, alongside working nearly 60 hours a week.

All of that being said, I think it is fairly obvious to anyone who has been through the DARE program why it doesn’t work. DARE treats all drugs the same, when a little dose of reality will show that isn’t the case. Almost nobody begins drug use with anything other than alcohol and marijuana, neither of which lead to the kinds of situations described by breathless cops in the DARE program when recounting the after-effects of methamphetamine and PCP. I got a better education about the differences between, and potential side-effects of, drugs from the movie Friday than I did my school’s DARE officer. That’s a little terrifying to me as a parent.

The best study on all of this I could find referenced was mentioned here:

Students who have been taught that drugs kill see a different reality outside of school — a variety of people using a variety of drugs with a variety of effects. The two views don’t mesh, which results in a lot of confused kids. Joel Brown, director of the Center for Educational Research and Development in Berkeley, was struck by the anxiety many students felt after going through a “just say no” program, in this case California’s Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Education. Brown randomly surveyed 5045 students and interviewed another 240 in focus groups. He found that DATE, like DARE, had no long-term effect on consumption. But he also discovered something more alarming: DATE left many kids unsure whom to believe on the topic of drugs.

This is also my biggest criticism of Narconon, only they’re mixing fear-mongering about drugs with Scientology-based pseudoscience, making things even worse. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Narconon’s elementary and high school literature in their own words.

Let’s start with the elementary literature:

2d. “Methamphetamine is the fastest growing drug in usage throughout America. It is interesting that every single ingredient that goes into making ‘meth’ is a poisoous[sic].”

Um…last time I checked every single ingredient that goes into making table salt, namely chlorine and sodium, is extremely poisonous. I’m not saying for a second that methamphetamine isn’t poisonous. It clearly is. The problem here is that this promulgates a culture of fear of chemicals that is misleading. Additionally, this claim actually isn’t true. It happens to be the case that non-poisonous ingredients like table salt are used in some methods for manufacturing methamphetamine.

The same section also discusses the importance of dosage, and how any drug in high doses is dangerous, but that is true of anything. Anything that reacts biologically, like say water, can be toxic in high enough doses. Just ask the Hold Your Wee for a Wii lady.

Next, the curriculum says that nearly all drugs follow a predictive pattern. In small doses they act as a stimulant. In higher doses they act as a depressant, eventually leading to death.

Methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP, LSD, caffeine and nicotine never made anyone sleepy, even in toxic doses. In fact, the first four are notorious for keeping people up for days. In the other direction, I’ve never heard of any of the opioid class of narcotics ever acting as a stimulant, even in tiny doses. Telling kids that almost all drugs follow the same predictive pattern actually gives them bad information in identifying and reacting appropriately to a potentially dangerous situation.

If you doubt for a second that Narconon is a front group for Scientology, I looked on the Scientology.org website in their booklet called “The Truth About Drugs.” (Look it up for yourself. I’m not linking to their website.)

Here is a direct quotation from the booklet:

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant (speeds you up). A greater amount acts as a sedative (slows you down). An even larger amount poisons and can kill.

This is true of any drug. Only the amount needed to achieve the effect differs.

That is almost word-for-word the first lesson of the elementary literature.

Up until now, all of this may seem like picking nits. Yes, technically what they are saying is incorrect or misleading, but come on! These are elementary students. We don’t need to be that nuanced. I accept that point, but all of this is to set up Lesson Two, where things really start to go off the rails.

This session covers the fact that drugs, such as LSD, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine; as well as other drugs, are fat soluble and can store in the body for extended periods of time, thus creating health problems.

No, no they can’t. An entire lesson is premised on a completely false claim promoted in Scientology literature. The only one of the four listed that is highly fat soluble is marijuana, and it only stays in the body for weeks in the heaviest users. That is why it will show up in a drug test so much longer than all of the others. LSD and powder cocaine are not fat soluble at all. Regardless of whether a drug is fat or water soluble it doesn’t remain in the system for years like Narconon claims. There are claims that LSD can affect you years later, but that is most likely due to changes in brain physiology, not because LSD is hiding out inside the body waiting for you to flush it out.

Scientology, and therefore Narconon, is wedded to this claim, because, despite it having been shown false by science, it was promoted by L. Ron Hubbard. Since everything L. Ron Hubbard said is true, then drugs must be fat soluble and stay in the system for years. This is the basis for Scientology’s Purification Rundown, on which much of the Narconon drug rehab regime is based.

The third lesson isn’t any better. It claims, falsely, that drugs use up important vitamins in the body.

“The first thing that happens is that vitamins and minerals are destroyed in the body. Vitamin A, B, C, D and others are ‘burned up’ by the drugs.”

No, they aren’t. This is silliness. In fact, it is so silly that I couldn’t even find any literature mentioning it outside of Narconon and Scientology sites. It just isn’t true.

Lesson four is where the blatant indoctrination into Scientology begins, and it continues through to the end of the series. The students are taught about levels of emotion as articulated and classified by L. Ron Hubbard in his Tone Scale. This is ostensibly presented as a tool for students to stay drug free, but it doesn’t actually give them any practical tools for dealing with a situation where they are tempted to use drugs. It says nothing about peer pressure. It gives no options on who to turn to when put in a situation that makes a student feel they need to talk to someone who might help them. It is entirely useless Scientology propaganda.

That’s just the elementary literature. The high school literature isn’t any better. In fact, it isn’t even any different. The first three lessons are exactly the same, almost word for word.

Apparently, you can teach elementary and high school-age students exactly the same false and overly-simplistic claims and have them both be effective. Nobody in their right minds would think this, unless they have a one-size-fits-all overarching ideology like Scientology as the basis for their approach to an entire field like drug use.

All of the caveats and “oh shucks, it’s just kids” that can be a justification for lying and misleading elementary school children falls completely flat when you move into a room full of cynical high school students, many of whom are experimenting with recreational drug use. The others are too busy writing essays and debating the merits of drug policy in speech and English. If you had given me a presentation in high school about drug use, and you had presented the kind of stuff said in this curriculum, I’d have made you look like an ass hole in front of the entire class.

The fourth lesson dispenses with the Tone Scale crap, and instead focuses solely on ecstasy, because apparently ecstasy is a major epidemic in high schools. Last time I checked, it paled in comparison to marijuana and prescription abuse. The entire lesson is just a video, with a few questions about it afterward. The questions are designed to convince students that the media is trying to get teenagers to use drugs, and that the media is bad, M’kay.

The curriculum calls for the students to watch a video called, Ecstasy The Real Story. I can’t say for sure if this is the same video, but something by the same name and featuring Narconon speaker Bobby Wiggins can be found on Youtube.

If you show that video to a classroom of high school students, many of whom have actual experience with drug use, you’re going to get laughed at, and rightfully so.

Lesson five is all about how drugs can make us forget things. No shit. Apparently, it never occurred to Narconon that some of these kids might have things they want to forget, and that this will actually drive them into the arms of drugs and alcohol.

Lesson six, surprise surprise, reintroduces the Tone Scale. It is lesson four of the elementary curriculum, word for word. Both the high school and elementary curriculum end with Scientology indoctrination.

Remember, this trash is being taught in multiple Oklahoma schools.

At this point I feel obligated to damn DARE with faint praise. At least it isn’t as bad as Narconon’s anti-drug program.

News 9 has a story on parents of students in Asher upset about Narconon being allowed to present an anti-drug program at school.

Last week, Narconon made the anti-drug presentation in Asher. But parents across Oklahoma have contacted News 9 upset about this very thing.

The Asher parents say they have no issues with the school or its administration, but are concerned about Narconon’s ties with the Church of Scientology.

News 9 points out here that they’ve been contacted by people from around that state, and Narconon admits to having given over 100 presentations. You can’t trust Narconon’s numbers on anything, but it is pretty clear they are trying to get into public schools.

I had an hour’s worth of writing put together looking at Narconon’s elementary and high school anti-drug curriculum, but I lost it due to WordPress deciding to be an asshole. I’ll put up a more detailed analysis tomorrow.

In the mean time, I’ll point out that even mainstream anti-drug programs like DARE have huge problems with efficacy. DARE has been shown in study after study to be either useless, or actually harmful. There is every reason to believe that a program like Narconon, which is not based on sound scientific principles or the latest in social psychology, has any chance of being effective. My guess is that Narconon’s school programs, like DARE, actually produce the ‘boomerang effect.’

Come back tomorrow for a detailed analysis of all of the problems with Narconon’s drug education programs.