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Robert Todd Carroll


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logo.gif (2126 bytes)the Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter 40

April 14, 2004

"The aim of science is not to open the door to everlasting wisdom but to set a limit on everlasting error." --Bertolt Brecht

Sai Baba

I received the following disturbing letter from a retired mathematics teacher who for many years was a follower of Sai Baba. The evidence is very strong that this Indian guru who has been faking miracles for years, has also been molesting boys. So far, he has not been charged with any crimes. There is a petition on the Internet asking for an investigation into these allegations. I ask you to please sign the petition. It is at

Here is the letter:

Dear R. T. Carroll,

Please consider my following personal story regarding Sathya Sai Baba (SSB ). My purpose is to give out this info in a most loving way as possible.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a retired math/science teacher who was an ardent devotee of SSB for 27 years and active in the SBB Org in the U.S. for 20 years. This included holding offices in a SSB center and attending SSB services and study groups on a weekly basis. Furthermore, I have been called into interviews by SSB at his ashram in India, read his official monthly publication, Sanathana Sarathi, for about 15 years. and have attended at least 20 SSB conferences/retreats.

During the month of June, 2000, I was devastated to learn of the sexual molestations of a young friend of mine from Arkansas by SSB. At that time I was a member of the successful SSB Center of Dallas.

It is an irony that I had been acquainted with the family involved for over 15 years when I heard this very disturbing news. SSB had engaged in sex with the boy over 20 times during about a 4 year period. The prominent U K newspaper THE DAILY TELEGRAPH was one of the first publications to print this story.

When I was faced with this scandal, some prominent devotees and officers were resigning from the South Central (SSB) Region of the U.S. I decided to conduct a slow and careful investigation. I got on the phone and made calls all over the world talking to victims, and parents and friends of victims..... What influenced me most was the pattern of the many cases involved. (For example, first the oilings, then maybe just a touching or probing, and then finally the unthinkable.......)

One of the most disturbing accounts of sexual abuse in the U.S. involves a 15 year old boy (now 19) who attended the Hemet Sai center of southern California. A personal friend, Glen Meloy of Palm Desert, Calif, relayed the story to me by phone.

The 15 year old was known to keep a diary especially when he traveled. In fact, the family had published notes from previous trips in pamphlet form. It is revealed that the boy, who was taught from birth that SSB was God, was abused by SSB on 2 consecutive days during Sept, 1999.

The mother had noticed that her son was acting strangely. She did something rarely, if ever, done before--read the boy's journal without his permission........The first person who received a photo copy of the diary from India was Glen Meloy, a retired management consultant and high profile SSB for 26 years. Mr Meloy was "looked up to" and very much respected by the family involved.

In hindsight, there are many contradictions or "red flags" which I "put on a shelf" when a devotee. For example, there had been evidence that SSB cheated when materializing objects. I admit, however, that paranormal activity surrounds him.. He proved to me his power to 'imprint on people's perception' during my visit of the summer of 1987..... So much more could be said such as SSB's complicity in the murder of four young men in his apartment during the summer of 1993. Furthermore, SSB claims to be the FATHER WHO SENT JESUS CHRIST ON EARTH and the greatest divine incarnation ever. And according to my investigations, there exits solid evidence of a cover-up by the Sai Org. in the US since 1976.

Lest you think I am a lone voice in the wilderness, please check a few web sites of former devotees such as , or

By the way, here are the Urls for a recent expose' update of a former lecturer at on of SSB's colleges, Barry Pittard. It reflects tremendous work done by many.

Would you, as a person engaged in a spiritual area, kindly respond to these very proper, genuine, and persisting concerns? I don't think anyone wants to directly or indirectly be the cause of a young boy being molested by SSB! Nor do I think that a Sathya Sai Organization member would wish forever to be branded with the reputation for failure of duty of care and compassion for those many reputable persons who have reported such allegations to its leading officials over many years. Shouldn't people at least be told that there are allegations!? And why can't there be at least an official investigation? Your ideas are most welcomed.

Dennis J Hanisch
Former SSB Devotee of 27 Years


Note to AOL subscribers

I received a number of notices that AOL subscribers did not receive the last newsletter because it contained a URL that AOL deemed was spam. I have reviewed the newsletter and have no idea which URL was filtered by AOL. I tried to send the above letter to Michael Shermer at his AOL address and it kept getting bounced for the same reason. I stripped all URLs and the mail went through. So, if you are an AOL subscriber, you may not get your Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter delivered to your mailbox.

Secondhand smoke

Penn and Teller were challenged at James Randi's TAM2 last January regarding their show that claimed the studies on secondhand smoke were bogus. P & T stood by their researchers and asked the challenger to send them the evidence, if he had it. I put this at the bottom of a long list of things to investigate until by chance I pulled John Brignell's wonderful book, Sorry, wrong number! - The abuse of measurement, from the shelf and thumbed my way to the section on passive smoking. If John is right, [I NOW (OCTOBER 29, 2005) BELIEVE HE IS WRONG] then P & T's researchers did a good job. However, John's main source is Steven Milloy of the Junk Science Page, which I have criticized for having a political agenda that considers any scientist who disagrees with him to be guilty of "junk science." Still, on this issue Milloy makes a strong case that the evidence for the dangers of secondhand smoke is lacking.

I hope to have more on this topic in the next issue.

I do have more to say on this topic in the next issue and several others as well: the bottom line is that Milloy has duped Brignell, and others like Milloy have duped me and P & T's researchers into thinking that standards for risk assessment that were pushed by the tobacco industry and Republican cronies like Jim Tozzi were reasonable. They're not. SEE CHRIS MOONEY'S THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE.


In the last newsletter, I listed the Buteyko Method as quackery, not because nobody has ever been helped by it. Presumably, it wouldn't be around if nobody felt it did any good. I referred to it as quackery because Dr. Buteyko doesn't limit his breathing technique to people with breathing problems. He claims he can cure such things as high blood pressure and arthritis with breathing. His method contradicts centuries of meditation practices that emphasize deep breathing, as well as what many people who exercise find: deep breathing feels good. However, when I had a bout with bronchitis recently, I not only avoided exercising; I avoided deep breathing. Why? Because it was painful to breathe deeply and it triggered coughing fits. I may have been practicing the Buteyko method and didn't know it!

I don't think it is a scoop to note that light breathing may help relax a person and so may help with stress-related problems.


Carlton B. Morgan writes: I am not exactly a credulous person, but breathing is higher on my list of priorities even than my irreligion and skepticism. I am a severe asthmatic of some several decades standing. As such, I have tried all sorts of quackery (as one would under my circumstance) including even homeopathy (when I didn't know any better). Believe you me, not being able to breathe makes you do all sorts of daft things!

I have to say that the Buteyko Method is the only thing that has ever mirrored my experience as an asthmatic. I would not say this lightly, as the fact that I once spent several ús on homeopathy still angers me. Also, in my experience, conventional medicines have not exactly been totally effective. A while ago I was prescribed some steroid inhalers called "Becotide," which worked splendidly for several years and then, all of a sudden, not only did they stop working but they made my condition worse. On visiting my GP and telling him of this, I was met with the reply "that shouldn't happen." Which was not exactly useful.

So after coming across a book in the library (there are many "asthma" advisory books there) I tried what little of the Buteyko Method I could glean from the Internet. It was very effective and my asthma is now considerably better. I have a good friend who also tried such a thing, with positive results.

Plus there was once a program on BBC1 UK where Buteyko practitioners instructed a group of asthmatics (many of whom were even more severe than myself) and at the end of a week they appeared to have improved considerably. Conventional doctors on the program were still dubious. I can hardly blame them, as I am dubious about certain aspects of Buteyko, not least is the rather exorbitant fees they charge (if I had a cure for such a life-threatening chronic illness I would give it away!). However, this does not automatically make it the same as "quackery"... Scientifically controversial? Yes. As is every other treatment for asthma you can name.

I would dearly love to see Buteyko given a proper scientific analysis, as in my experience it warrants it. I am not aware of this ever having occurred, if it has please pass it on!


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