Congratulations to Beth Goodbody of Virginia, who has won an iPad 2 and eBook version of James Randi's classic Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions.
Beth writes: "I'm stunned. Happy, but stunned! . . . I started out as one of the those people that believed in psychic powers, telepathy and such. As I started learning more and more about the sciences and how real science can be proven again and again I started to lose those other beliefs. . . Along the way I found the books of James Randi and then the JREF website. I've learned so much from Mr. Randi and the JREF on how to look at the supernatural and the claims of hucksters and how to apply critical thinking to those claims and call them properly what they are. . . . Thanks for drawing my name!"
As announced yesterday over the JREF's social networks, Beth's name was selected at random out of 5987 total contest entries. Thank you to everyone who participated!
The contest was offered as a special thank-you to our online supporters for helping the JREF get the word out about the new ebook version of James Randi's Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions.
The JREF sees digital publishing as an important tool for advancing its educational mission to bring scientific skepticism to new audiences. Watch for additional titles to be released by the JREF in the coming months, including new digital-only releases and enhanced versions of some the most important classic and contemporary works of skeptical literature.
The Amazing Meeting 2014 will be held at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, July 10th – 13th, 2014. More details will be announced soon so check back here and at amazingmeeting.com in the weeks ahead for more details on the event and to register.
In the meantime, please enjoy some new videos from last year's TAM below.
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.
A formal request for retraction of a Cancer article (James Coyne) A plea for Cancer to retract an article claiming that psychotherapy delays recurrence and extends survival for breast cancer patients. It’s just another poorly conceived attempt to validate fanciful ideas about “mind over matter” in cancer treatment. Its conclusions are not supported by simple analyses, but only by the authors’ inappropriate multivariate analyses. The research design was flawed, there is no plausible mechanism to explain their results, it is essentially a negative study misrepresented as positive, and the authors attempted to block publication of criticisms.
Gary Taubes and the Cause of Obesity (Harriet Hall) Gary Taubes wants everyone to adopt a low-carb diet. He offers a plausible rationale but admits that the evidence isn’t in yet. Whatever the underlying cause of obesity, there are practical ways to achieve weight loss by reducing calorie intake below expenditure while we wait for better evidence. Strict low-carb diets are one way to achieve lower total calorie intake and may be somewhat more effective than other diets in the short term, but they have not proven more effective in the long term.
Dialogue on “Alternative Therapies” (Steven Novella) In an opinion piece in The New York Times, James Gordon represents many common misconceptions about mainstream medicine and CAM. Mainstream medicine does not “dictate” drugs and surgery, and nutrition and exercise are mainstream, not “alternative.” It is mainstream medicine, not CAM, that addresses underlying causes. The rising costs of health care can be best addressed by not wasting money on dubious treatments.
Legislative Alchemy 2014 (so far) (Jann Bellamy) Legislative alchemy is the process by which legislators turn practitioners of pseudoscience into state-licensed health care professionals, unleashing quackery on the public. Recently, chiropractors have suffered some defeats; naturopaths have achieved licensing in two more states; acupuncture bills are pending; and Vermont has passed a “chronic Lyme disease” bill. You can track CAM-related bills in your state through a list maintained on the Society for Science-Based Medicine website.
More Dialogs (Mark Crislip) Another response to Gordon’s opinions in The New York Times. Medicine has issues, but the solution is not to turn to therapies based on fantasy and magic. Dr. Crislip distinguishes 4 categories of SCAMS: magic, plausible, inadequately tested, and things that are not CAM at all, like diet and exercise. Gordon’s call for a dialog on CAM is only a distraction from effective efforts to improve reality-based practice.
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.
Australian skeptic, podcaster, author, television personality, and professional origamist Richard Saunders recorded at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7. Saunders discusses the origami Pigasus and dowsing as a model for teaching critical thinking to students.