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James Randi Educational Foundation
Last Week on Science Based Medicine for 15 September 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   

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.

One more time: No, wearing a bra does not cause cancer (David Gorski)  The idea that bras cause cancer is a myth that refuses to die. Bras do not impair lymph drainage or interfere with the removal of “toxins.” A new study confirms what other studies have shown: no correlation of bra-wearing with cancer.

The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great (Harriet Hall)  An old book by a missionary doctor in China describes what traditional Chinese medicine was really like in 1883-1913. It was prescientific, superstitious, ineffective, and sometimes barbaric. Acupuncture bore little resemblance to today’s practices, and serious complications were common. These revelations serve as a reality check: acupuncture and TCM are evidence of ancient ignorance, not ancient wisdom.

Autism Prevalence Unchanged in 20 Years (Steven Novella)  There is no autism epidemic. The number of diagnoses has increased, but the evidence strongly suggests this is due to better diagnosis, changing definitions, and greater acceptance. A new study looked at autism prevalence around the world; it showed no change from 1990 to 2010.

Side effects may include liver failure (Scott Gavura)  Dietary supplements are popular and widely believed to be safe. But there have been many cases of supplements causing liver failure leading to death or liver transplant; and harms are likely under-reported. Contamination of supplement products and lack of routine monitoring are worrisome. 

Legislating Ignorance (John Snyder)   A Florida law prohibits doctors from asking patients about guns in the home. This is unwarranted legislative interference with the practice of good preventive medicine by pediatricians who feel ethically obligated to counsel parents about gun safety along with other accident prevention issues. There is good evidence that counseling has a positive impact on safe storage of guns in the home. Legislation has also interfered with science by regulating the funding of gun control studies.

Martin Rundkvist Reports on Randi PDF Print E-mail
European Tour
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Martin Rundkvist, speaker at TAM 5.5, archaeologist and friend of the JREF, spent some time with Randi during his European tour. He reports:

I spent Tuesday in the charming company of James Randi and his assistant, journalist Brandon Thorp. Myself and P.J. Råsmark had taken it upon ourselves to act as native guides and gophers for Randi during his days in Stockholm at the invitation of the Swedish Skeptics. So in the morning we went cane shopping together, though none of the canes we found were sufficiently antique-looking for our guest, and he seemed to manage effortlessly without one. And then we checked out the Vasa 17th century warship museum, since this is Stockholm's one truly unique attraction as far as I'm aware. (You'll recognise my M.O. from Massimo Polidoro's and Manuel Paz-y-Mino's visit a year ago.) Randi uses the Vasa, which sunk on its maiden voyage due to unrealistic royal demands incorporated into its design, as one of the test cases in his upcoming book Wrong!. In the afternoon there were interviews with Lars Björkvall of Vetenskap & Historia and Christer Sturmark of Humanisten, the latter periodical being a publication of the Swedish Humanist Association.

You can

More TAM videos released PDF Print E-mail
Amazing Meeting
Written by Sharon Hill   

More talks and panels come your way from The Amazing Meeting 2014

Sally Satel - Fifty Shades of Gray Matter: Healthy Skepticism and the Illuminated Brain

Donald Prothero - The Mind of the Science Denier

Jamy Ian Swiss - A Year of Skeptic Win

Junk Science, Neuroscience and Psychological Science Panel - Featuring Scott Lillienfeld, Sally Satel, Carol Tavris, Robert Kurzban. Moderated by Sheldon Helms

Elizabeth Loftus - The Memory Factory

See the entire TAM2014 playlist so far on the JREF YouTube Channel. More to come!

Two days left to save $50 on the biggest skeptics' event of the year. PDF Print E-mail


Saving $50 on the biggest skeptics' event of the year! But the special early registration pricing ends this Sunday, March 31 so register now and lock in the savings. »

An Inquiry PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   


Circa 1950 – probably post WW2 – Martin Gardner was the principle “magician” in a series of television shorts demonstrating tricks. These were designed to accompany an advertising campaign – e.g., Martin demonstrated a trick/illusion, then they cut to a “brought to you by Zingerman’s furniture store, where this week’s special is…,” followed by Martin revealing the trick. 


Apparently, according to Martin’s son Jim, someone had the video files of these performances, which he loaned to a local magician years ago, and they were then lost. Now Jim is trying to find them, and has asked me to inquire on SWIFT when/where these videos were produced. New York? Chicago? – and who might have the originals.


Any suggestions on this inquiry will help.


Thank you!

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