Is there something to astrology? The James Randi Educational Foundation thinks this question is a great way to explore some fundamentals of science and critical thinking in the classroom. Astrology: Superstition or Science? is a downloadable lesson module for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that allows students to explore the scientific method, critical thinking and parapsycholological research through an examination of the history of belief in astrology. Students can come to their own conclusions about whether the claims of astrology merit assent, and engage in hands-on experiments about astrological predictions.
Astrology: Superstition or Science? exposes students to concepts identified in the national science content standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks related to the scientific process, Science as Inquiry, and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives, and the History and Nature of Science, and does so while presenting a topic of that captures the attention of students from many diverse backgrounds. AAAS Science Literacy Benchmarks addressed in the lesson include The Scientific Worldview, Scientific Inquiry and The Scientific Enterprise.
Astrology: Superstition or Science? can be downloaded here.
On Sunday, April 14th, the JREF will be hosting a live workshop at our Hollywood headquarters. Presented by skeptical activist Susan Gerbic, "Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia" will teach you how to edit and expand Wikipedia in a way that challenges unsupported claims, spreads truthful information about pseudoscience and the paranormal, and helps the public have a better understanding of science and critical thinking.
Please join us at our offices in Hollywood on Sunday, April 14th, at 11am for this enlightening and inspiring presentation. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To RSVP, visit our Facebook event page.
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.
Michael A. Stackpole is a podcaster, best-selling science fiction writer, author of the "Pulling Report" which debunks myths about the harmful effects of role playing games, and a long-time activist skeptic. In this fun and informative talk from The Amaz!ing Meeting 5.5, he tells us how to effectively communicate our skeptical message through mainstream media, blogging, or in conversations with friends and family.
US regulation of food ingredients and supplements employs a concept known as, “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. Under FDA regulation a food additive or substance is GRAS if qualified experts believe it is safe based upon scientific evidence. However, for substances in use prior to 1958 GRAS does not require any scientific evidence; “a substantial history of consumption” is sufficient.
The premise of this part of the GRAS rule is that if a large number of people use a substance over a long period of time, any safety issues would emerge and would be known. This premise, however, is naïve, and is contradicted by historical evidence.
Marketers often rely on the naturalistic fallacy to sell the safety of their supplements. “All natural,” a term without unambiguous definition or legal regulation, is almost ubiquitous on supplement advertising. This is little more than the naturalistic fallacy, however. Being “natural” (whatever that actually means) is no guarantee of safety. Plants and animals evolved a wide variety of toxins and poisons for their own purposes. I would not recommend eating a random plant unless you know exactly what it is – most “natural” things will kill you or at least make you sick.