Happy Friday the 13th! (Or as we call it around the JREF, Friggatriskaidekaphobia Appreciation Day!). While we may sometimes make light of belief in superstitions like those surrounding Friday the 13th, our real work is to educate the public and the media with reliable information about pseudoscience and the paranormal, and to expose the paranormal hucksters who hurt so many people.
I’m writing you because we really need your help right now.
Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.
The Canadian National Breast Screening Study ignites a new round in the mammography wars (David Gorski) - This large study compared mammography plus clinical breast exams to usual care in women aged 40-49 and mammography plus clinical breast exams to breast exams alone in women aged 50-59. It found that mammography did not reduce breast cancer mortality; the benefits were offset by overdiagnosis. Nevertheless, Dr. Gorski thinks it would be prudent to stick to current guidelines with perhaps more of a personalized approach to women between the ages of 40 and 49.
Tylenol May Not Be As Safe and Effective As We Thought (Harriet Hall) - Britain’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued a 600 page report analyzing the published evidence about Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol) for the relief of pain in osteoarthritis. They initially warned that it should not be used because of serious side effects and low efficacy. After clinicians protested that eliminating acetaminophen would mean using more dangerous drugs, they revised their draft to recommend it as a first-line treatment for osteoarthritis. Tylenol is safer than other pain relievers, but this controversy is a good reminder that all drugs can have side effects.
Last year we at the JREF decided to test the waters with a year-end fund-raising campaign to help raise awareness both of our mission as well as new ways to advance it. We were inspired by your response to our appeal, so much so that this year we hope our Season of Reason campaign will continue to support the bright future for skepticism and critical thinking.
We are focusing on our new educational efforts, as you will see here. But we now have a secret weapon that we're hopeful will make this end-of-year fund-raising campaign even more effective. An anonymous JREF member has made a very generous challenge donation to the JREF of up to $100,000. This means that whatever support you feel motivated to give to the JREF, this donor will match dollar-for-dollar up to a $100,000 limit!
Simply put my friends, there's never been a better time to put your money to work for skepticism and critical thinking, not only because every dollar you donate now doubles its value, but also because the JREF is doing more now to increase critical thinking in education than we've ever done in the past. The Amaz!ng Meetings are growing in size and number internationally, with record attendances, and we're seizing new opportunities to make a difference, such as digital publishing and smartphone "apps."
James Randi is back with the second entry in his YouTube vlog. This week's entry, "It's Not In the Name" deals with the specialized wording used by different groups who may or may not be reality-based. And don't miss a minor miracle performed by Randi himself.
This, and all of the JREF's videos are available at our YouTube account. To see it larger or leave comments, click here.
In an effort to make our extensive video library available online free of charge, The James Randi Educational Foundation is posting high quality digital video lectures and sessions from previous Amaz!ng Meetings and other events on randi.org. Check back often to see the latest video content.
Astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson presents the keynote address at TAM6. His "brain droppings" cover everything from UFO abductions to 13th floors to jury duty.
Dr. Tyson is the host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. His presentation from TAM6 is one of the most entertaining presentations from any Amaz!ng Meeting.