The latest JREF nesletter is out. Don't miss our free online course, TAM 2013 videos, and more!
"How To Think About Dubious Claims" - Free course by Professor Ray Hyman
JREF is pleased to release a free 10 part video lecture series by Ray Hyman titled "How To Think About Dubious Claims" and companion course guide.
Smart people can act stupidly by failing to apply their intelligence wisely. This course draws lessons from scientist smart people who went astray. This course provides a framework to help you avoid their mistakes.
Ray Hyman is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon. Hyman's published research has been in such areas as pattern recognition, perception, problem solving, creativity, and related areas of cognition. He has written and published extensively on the psychology of deception and critiques of paranormal and other fringe claims.
The 10 lecture video course can be viewed below, of found on YouTube ≫
The companion course guide can be downloaded here ≫
New Videos from The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013
If you missed The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013, you can still catch great talks on science and skepticism given live from the TAM 2013 stage, at the James Randi Educational Foundation's YouTube page. Watch out for new videos that will be posted each week!
Videos currently available include:
James Randi - Fighting the Fakers ≫
Dan Ariely - The Honest Truth About Dishonesty ≫
Panel - Skepticism and Philosophy ≫
Shane Greenup - The Great Global Debate ≫
Sanal Edamaruku - Indian Gurus: From Flying Fakirs and Starving Saints ≫
Susan Blackmore - Fighting the Fakers (and Failing) ≫
The Honest Liar's Pseudoscience Collection
JREF Senior Fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, "The Honest Liar," presents JREF’s newest video series, aptly titled The Honest Liar. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims.
The Honest Liar's Pseudoscience Collection! In this installment of The Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss considers the differences between science and pseudoscience, and discusses some highlights from his vast and colorful pseudoscience collection, from Aromatherapy to Xenoglossy!
You can watch the video on YouTube here ≫
This Month in Skeptic History
In a letter published October 21, 1888 in the New York World, Margaret Fox confessed that she and her sisters faked the sounds heard during their Spiritualist seances, partially by cracking their knuckles. Thus it was revealed that entire religious movement was essentially started by a childhood prank.
You can get a daily dose of the history of skepticism with JREF’s free Today in Skeptic History app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Or subscribe for a daily fact on Twitter or Facebook.
The Amazing Randi - Penn is BAD, BAD, BAD
From Penn Jillette: "No one outside of my family means more to me than James Randi. It is no exaggeration to say that without Randi there would be no Penn & Teller. It’s also a fact that without Randi there wouldn’t be me the way I am today. It’s not just my career I owe to Randi, but so much of my life, so much of who I am. I asked him to look at the evidence that I’m becoming a bad guy and report on it."
Well, Randi has responded and says a new monster is among us - Penn is BAD! Watch Randi's video and find out why Penn is so BAD here ≫
Consumer Affairs: Use your psychic powers to become a millionaire ... or not
"Here at Consumer Affairs we’re acutely aware of our own limitations which is why, when investigating various claims or complaints made by our readers, we generally stick with the standard mainstream, scientifically-accepted human senses: things we can see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Claims of psychic phenomena or extra-sensory perception (ESP) are, by definition, excluded from this list because if psychic talents do exist, they have not been bestowed upon us. We mention this because, when we checked our email today, we found a press release offering a review copy of a self-published book claiming to discuss psychic phenomena."
Read More ≫
Moral Panic and the Witch Craze in Zambia
You may want to describe the current state of Africa in another way. You may choose to qualify it differently. But it is evident that most parts of sub Saharan Africa are currently being ravaged by the mindset of the dark ages, the type that prevailed in early modern Europe. Popular mentality is gripped by irrational fear and frenzy. Superstitious beliefs abound, driving people to attack and murder in cold blood those alleged to be witches, be they family or community members. Local authorities are doing very little to address this vicious phenomenon.
This is the case in Zambia.
Read More ≫
You Too Can Be A Mindreader
Recently I came across a piece in “The New York Times” health and science section entitled “Can You Read People’s Emotions?” After a brief introduction, the reader was presented with a test claiming to measure your ability to assess people’s emotions by “reading” the expression of their eyes.
This immediately set off my BS detector to redlining. To me, the notion of a handy mindreading test in ten minutes or less smacked of pseudoscientific pop psychology, more appropriate to “Cosmopolitan” than “The Times,” but I was curious enough to explore a bit. First I took the test and scored well. Hey, it works!
Read More ≫
Is Science Self-Correcting?
In theory, yes. In practice, we can do better.
An article published in The Economist reviews what skeptics have been talking about for years. There is a lot of crappy research out there that is unreliable. This means that just because you can find some studies that appear to support your position, it does not mean your position is correct. You cannot know the answer to a question by cherry-picking the studies you want. You have to do a critical analysis of all the research.
The full article is worth a read, and regular readers of skeptical blogs will probably recognize many of the points and references, but will also likely learn some new details. Here is my own summary of the major areas of concern regarding the quality and reliability of published scientific research.
Read More ≫
“Have you watched Derek yet?” seems to be a question I’m hearing often of late. Not to be confused with the German detective show Derrick, Derek is a British comedy drama available on Netflix. The six-part “mockumentary” is written and directed by Ricky Gervais who also stars as the lead character Derek, a care worker in a home for the elderly.
An old folk’s home initially seems like an unlikely setting for a sitcom. In watching it you can almost smell the antiseptic, porridge, and mustiness in the air. First impressions aside, I found Derek to be a bittersweet comedy that is at times touching and heartbreaking. With great sensitivity, the show raises sobering issues of disability, loneliness, poverty, sickness, and death, all written and performed in a sensitive and poignant way. For a show written by a “mean” and “nasty” atheist, Derek has soul.
Read More ≫
How I Was Scammed By Kevin Trudeau
Kevin Trudeau spent a night in jail last month and then his living expenses were cut off by a judge the following week, so I’ve decided to share my story. This is how I fell for Kevin Trudeau’s lies, how I realized I was being deceived, what I learned from it, and how I use my experience to try to help others. It’s not fun admitting you’ve been had, but not exposing this fraudster wouldn’t be great, either.
In 2005, I started experiencing severe pain that persisted even with strong painkillers. It became so bad that I had to quit my job and band, deplete my savings, ruin my credit, and put my life on hold to figure out what was wrong and to get treatment. I had to have several surgeries over the years and I continue to take medication for it to this day.
While I was going through the worst of this ordeal, I became very frustrated with the U.S. healthcare system. It took a long time to even find out what was wrong due to referrals and approvals, among many other issues, and I had some bad doctors, improper medication, and a failed surgery that made my affliction worse. Since my condition made me unable to work, I had to go a year with no income and without a life while I waited in pain. I nearly got evicted, all while creditors were hounding me for bills I could not pay.
Read More ≫
More Recent Posts on Randi.org
This vs. That: No Bias. No Bullshit. just Science, Fact, & Funny.
This vs That is a new 6-hour science series starring Brad Sherwood (Whose Line?), Chris Tallman (Reno: 911, The Sarah Silverman Show) and Mark DeCarlo (Studs) - created by 11 time Emmy nominee, Jon Hotchkiss, who also created The Truth About Sex (Playboy TV), Invasion of the Christmas Lights (TLC), Punkin Chunkin (Science,) and My Dad is Better Than Your Dad (NBC). In addition, Jon was the show runner on Penn & Teller: Bullshit during seasons four and five, and was a writer and supervising producer in seasons two and three. Jon is most proud of the work he did on the following Bullshit episodes: The Boy Scouts, Family, The Death Penalty, Circumcision, Profanity, Hair and the episode, "Pets," that featured fake dog testicles. Jon was also one of the original writers on Politically Incorrect, where he spent five years.
Use promo code "Randi" and a portion of each sale supports the JREF.
Learn More ≫