UPDATE:According to the LA Times, the sentencing has been pushed back until June 11th. Maybe some sanity will settle out by then.
Randi takes a different tone this time as a recent letter has shown that his adopted country is sometimes less than compassionate. Are politics more important than people? Maybe, but it shouldn't be that way.
From Randi -
Understand this: I heartily endorse and accept marijuana use for medical purposes; research has clearly shown that it works efficiently in that role, and brings comfort and relief to the suffering. As a result of this stated conditional acceptance, I have been approached by those who advocate general use of the substance on the same level that tobacco enjoys. Generally, this makes sense to me, except that if its use were to bring with it the same dreadful health penalties that accompany tobacco, I would be reluctant to accept that. I am not a drug user, I have never even been inebriated. That is my personal choice, and I feel that other persons should also enjoy freedom of choice, even if taxes are imposed on that freedom in order to legislate it; I don’t want out-of-control drivers threatening my safety, for example.
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.
This esteemed panel, featuring some of the leading figures in science and skepticism, addresses audience questions at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2. The panel covers women and minorities in skepticism, skepticism and faith, critical thinking education, and more. Panel participants include Penn & Teller, James Randi, Phil Plait, Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer, Steven Barret, and others.
It's been quite a week for news stories. If you haven't been glued to your TV (and your Twitter feed) following the presidential elections, you may have been reading about Simon Cowell hiring a house healer (more on what the JREF is doing to help Mr. Cowell in an upcoming post) or tracking Theresa Caputo's tour across the United States. But what can you do with news of pseudoscience and paranormal claims, besides gently tugging at the roots of your hair until your head bleeds? Here are a few suggestions.
UFO Spotted Over Pregnant Mother in the United Kingdom
What Happened: The Irish Sun is reporting that a Buzz-Lightyear-like figure was spotted floating above an unsuspecting pregnant woman last week. The photographer claims he did nothing to manipulate the photo and that he didn't notice the Tim Allen-like figure until after the photo was taken. Okay, sure, so the Sun isn't exactly the premiere source of credible information, but this is just the sort of claim we hear every day, from people who accidentally catch their own thumb in a photo, to those who intentionally insert an object into the frame. And, unfortunately, these fakes often fool many people, causing them to wonder if aliens are on their way to Earth to rob graves and slowly chase women.
What You Can Do: If you can recreate the effect in the photo, send us your own version, and we'll share the best ones, so the world can see how easy it is to manipulate a photo and get the same effect. We've already received many fantastic entries, so hurry up and send us your own version! The best one wins a Team Randi shirt!
The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the release of four new additions to our JREF in the Classroom offerings:
Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?
Illusions: Our Visual System
Cognition: Are You Rational?
Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?
These are downloadable lesson plans for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that use topics in pseudoscience and the paranormal to teach critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. Each lesson is designed to expose students to concepts identified in the National Science Content Standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks.
These free lesson plans for teachers (and parents) are additions to JREF’s growing catalogue of grade-specific standards-focused resources including lesson plans, activity guides, multimedia materials, and more. JREF’s aim with these free resources is to inspire an investigative spirit in the next generation of critical thinkers, providing the intellectual toolkit needed to navigate a life full of difficult decisions, confusing information, and conflicting claims.
Teachers can firstname.lastname@example.org for a free printed classroom kit for any of the eight topics available so far, and to get more information on ways to incorporate JREF’s critical thinking materials into their classrooms.