1 May 2009
Psychiatrist says he has an eye for innovation
10:52 PM CDT on Thursday, April 30, 2009
It was a first in my 35 years in journalism – a news release from someone announcing he had been branded a kook.
I guess that's what tin-foil goggles will do for you.
Richardson psychiatrist Colin A. Ross is the alleged kook who hired a public-relations firm to announce his kookiness.
Well, the news release worked. Intrigued, I went to see the good doctor. And at this point, I'm trying to figure out if he's cuckoo crazy or crazy like a fox.
Mind you, it wasn't just anyone who pronounced Ross a nut job. It was the estimable James Randi, a magician who has provided a wonderful public service for years in debunking paranormal claims.
You may know Randi for the $1 million prize he has offered to anyone who can verifiably demonstrate a psychic or paranormal ability. And what a shock: The prize has gone uncollected.
Now our own Dr. Ross is seeking the million bucks with his foil-wrapped goggles.
His claim: "I can make a tone sound on a computer using an energy beam emitted from my eye."
Well, I hate to brag, but my father had an even more amazing ability. With a beam emitted from his eye, he could freeze children.
It seemed to work best on us in church.
Time will tell whether Ross collects the million dollars. But his claim has certainly collected Randi's derision.
Each April Fool's Day, Randi presents the Pigasus Awards, a tongue-in-cheek recognition of great achievement in the fields of parapsychology and pseudoscience.
Pegasus was a winged horse. The Pigasus features a winged pig – as in "when pigs fly."
Or "swine flew"?
Ross, 58, won this year in Category 1: "To the scientist or academic who said or did the silliest thing related to the supernatural, paranormal or occult."
Randi said he thought he had seen every far-fetched claim to win the million-dollar prize. "Most have been preposterous, silly, irrational, and/or astonishing," he wrote. "Now we have one that is all of those, and it comes from Dr. Colin A. Ross."
Ross shrugs off the skewering as merely Randi running scared. "Now he's trying to debunk, ridicule and mock it because he obviously doesn't want to pay the million dollars," he said.
Energy beams from the eyes certainly sounds like woo-woo stuff, and Ross hopes to trap Randi with that perception. But he said this is really nothing paranormal.
Electrodes attached to the head or chest pick up electrical activity in the brain or heart. Ross simply believes those same energy waves are also detectable through the eyes.
And he believes he has proved it with a pair of old ski goggles. He removed the lenses, attached an electronic sensor and shielded it with aluminum foil.
He said the diode picks up electromagnetic waves from his eye, setting off a tone on the computer.
Ross demonstrated the procedure. And I can testify that I heard a tone. But I also had a hard time stifling the giggles. I think it was the ground wires alligator-clipped to his ear lobes that did me in.
Ross is so confident in his theory that he has applied for a patent on switches operated by eye beams. Some day you may open your garage door with just a hard stare, he said.
Now, with the patent application in mind, Ross is trying to drum up interest in eyeball energy any way he can – including the news release announcing Randi's ridicule.
So does that make him crazy smart or merely crazy?
I don't know. But posing in those goggles is crazy brave.