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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.

200 Million Miles & One Foot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sean Sturgeon   

1._not_a_roverOn 26 January, 2009, NASA announced that despite several weeks of effort, the Mars Rover Spirit had become stuck in the soft Martian sand and would not move again. The press release came shortly after the sixth anniversary of Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, making it to Mars a few weeks apart in January of 2004. Given the remote location of Spirit, NASA could not give it the Old Yeller treatment and instead “decided” to reclassify it as a stationary science platform.

Spirit and Opportunity were supposed to have mission lives of ninety days. They exceeded expectations and are still active after more than twenty two hundred days.

But what in the name of The Celestial Teapot does a tandem of robots need to do to get a little love in the mainstream media? It should be appreciated by even the most oblivious, mushy-headed observer that the scientific spiffiness of the rovers knocks the guts right out of their competition for space on Page 1. Sadly, we become bored with amazing things twelve minutes after we hear about them.

You Are More Likely To Read This Story Because Its Headline Contains No Punctuation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Cuno   

Avoiding personal responsibility used to be clean and simple. Caught red-handed? The devil made you do it. End of story.

But today we have a dizzying array of bogus blaming options. We can choose from rap music, movies, TV, video games, the Internet, Twinkies, genes, society, the neighbor’s kid, our upbringing, the booze talking, atheism, evolution, the definition of “is,” planets, stars, lunar phases, the ever-vague and passive “mistakes were made,” the economy, being an only child, not being an only child, and more. Just keeping track can exhaust the most adept excuse-maker. Call me extreme, but some days I wonder if it might be easier simply to say, “I made a mistake.”

I saved the excuse that accuses my profession for last: “The advertising made me do it.” If you fed your kids fast food until your spouse mistook them for the minivan, blew the budget on a video game system, or bought trendy clothes you didn’t need and that went out of style as you were paying for them, take heart. You can blame us slick advertising people and our so-called hypnotic work.

Sinking Your Teeth Into Astrology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

toothIt must be a slow day over at The Wealthy Dentist, a blog devoted to business of dentistry. Actually, the blog is a bit of a sales troll for Jim Du Molin, who is not a dentist and is apparently borrowing his wife's credentials if I read his bio correctly. 

Be that as it may, he says that the way to grow your dentistry business is to "emphasize practical strategies and tactics that people can actually use to attract new patients."

And, given today's article, he must believe it's practical to consider astrology in one's practice. I expected the article to be about how to make people of certain "signs" more comfortable, but in fact, it's much stranger than even that. 

For Good Reason: New Evolution Book for Kids PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

evolutionforkidsIn the latest episode of For Good Reason, Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic, talks about his children's book Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be. He explores why books about evolution for children are so rare. He explains how children can become filled with "spiritual" awe by learning about evolution. And he talks about how he challenged creationism and addressed the religion vs. science controversy in the book.

For more information and to listen online or subscribe via iTunes, visit

Written by James Randi   

We received this from a reader who is concerned about the use of the so-called electronic dowsing rods in his country, Thailand…

My name is Tuang Cheevatadavirut. I'm a freshly graduated student in MBA/MSIS (Master of Science in Information Systems) at Iowa State University. I saw your blog comment on the arrest of James McCormick, so I’d like to tell you about GT200 use in Thailand. This is a device similar to the ADE 651, Quadro Tracker, M.O.L.E., HEDD1, Sniffex (Plus), Alpha 6, PSD-22, and H3Tec, etc.  I want to give you all the possible names of the device, given that government agencies in many countries – Pakistan, Iraq, UK, Mexico, Dubai, Kenya, Tanzania, Philippines, Lebanon, Jordan, China, Afghanistan, and possibly India – have been employing this kind of bogus device. Not only does it put innocent citizens at risk, but also the security forces’ personnel, be it militia men or police.


Randi: Tuang, there are many more than the eight you list, believe me. These fake devices are on sale all over the world, and those who sell them are doing very well, I can assure you!

These days there are many insurgencies that occur in southern Thailand daily. Innocent citizens as well as security forces’ personnel are losing their lives. To counter such incidents, many government agencies have ordered the GT200. Even though in the past weeks there have been claims that the device is bogus, the Thai Central Forensic Science Institute, the Provincial Electricity Authority and military agencies such as the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Air Force's Directorate of Armaments, the Naval Ordnance Department, and the Royal Thai Navy, have defended their use and the effectiveness of such devices.

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