The Amazing Meeting 2014

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JREF Swift Blog
Swift, named for Jonathan Swift, is the JREF's daily blog, featuring content from James Randi, the JREF staff, and other featured authors.

A Faustian Bargain PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

By now, most of you have heard that the Pat Robertson has determined the cause of the recent earthquake in Haiti: it's the result of God's retribution for the nation having made a pact with the devil. In exchange for their freedom from French rule, the devil rules over Haiti. While I have long held Pat Robertson in disdain, he has reached a new height of audacity with this latest stunt. However, I feel there's a more important topic to discuss here than just the meaningless utterances of a failed doomsday prophet

Pacts with the devil date back centuries. While some pacts are for tangible goods, such as the classic Broadway production and film "Damn Yankees," the more insidious form involves human nature's quest for knowledge, with the most famous literary example being Goethe's Faust.  The idea that knowledge is somehow "evil" or to be avoided echoes back from the exploits of Prometheus, bouncing lightly off the Garden of Eden, and resting firmly in the social networks of the 21st century.

 
Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

creationTo quote Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, the new movie Creation is a "thoughtful, well-made film that will change many views of Darwin held by the public—for the better." (Click the image for a preview.)

In this movie, we see Darwin as a young man, struggling with his faith as it conflicts with the evidence before him. His devout wife, less fond of beetles than Darwin, urges him to destroy Origin of Species before it's printed, and important men of the day urge him to abandon his heresy.

But as we know Darwin did not follow this advice, and the world changed forever.

 
Randi On (and Off) Chemotherapy PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Hello, and Happy Tuesday.

If Randi were still undergoing chemotherapy, he would have spent most of the morning at Broward General Hospital, getting hydrated and flushed and infused. But Randi’s done with chemo. Hear Randi’s thoughts on the subject after the jump.

 
Prophecy Results PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

prophecyimageSome of you may remember my article last year, wherein I invented a new form of mysticism related to iTunes, and shared my prognostications with the world. A year has passed, and it's time to to check my score. Though I don't actually claim to have any paranormal powers of prediction, I think you'll agree that I was quite accurate.


Here they are:

A major celebrity couple will break up amidst rumors of infidelity

Well, there were many this year in fact, but it was clearly Tiger Woods that was coming through so strongly.

An earthquake in South America will raise concerns over larger earthquakes in the future

I was only a few hundred miles off on this prediction, which actually referred to Honduras and Belize, in Central America. Residents have been warned to prepare for tsunamis, which often follow offshore events such as this one.

 
The People Have Spoken: Phil Plait is Skeptic of the Year! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

1._phil_and_his_shuttleThe listeners of the official podcast of the JREF, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, have cast their votes, and former President of the JREF, Phil Plait has emerged victorious. Honorable mentions included Richard Dawkins, Simon Singh, and Wired Magazine's Amy Wallace.

Phil states on his blog that "I have arrived as a skeptic," and we at the JREF have to agree. With his incredibly popular blog, and upcoming TV series, countless apearances on podcasts, radio shows, and documentaries, Phil Plait is a skeptical tour de force.

When informed of the award, he said "That's really cool!" And then went on to mention that he wasn't wearing pants at the moment. If you'd like to hear his explanation for that, you can tune into the podcast which is available here, where you'll also find out what Phil thinks the biggest astronomy item of the year was, and why the Bullet Cluster is so important.

While Phil will be missed at the JREF, we're gratified that he's still out there fighting the good fight.

 
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