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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.

Written by James Randi   

Though this subject is not one that directly concerns the JREF, I'm very frequently asked if I'll turn my skeptical eye to it. As a year-end fling, I'll give it a try. To wit:

An unfortunate fact is that scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to "belong" in the scientific community. Why do I find this "unfortunate"? Because the media and the hoi polloi increasingly depend upon and accept ideas or principles that are proclaimed loudly enough by academics who are often more driven by "politically correct" survival principles than by those given them by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. (Granted, it's reassuring that they're listening to academics at all -- but how to tell the competent from the incompetent?) Religious and other emotional convictions drive scientists, despite what they may think their motivations are.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a group of thousands of scientists in 194 countries around the world, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize -- has issued several comprehensive reports in which they indicate that they have become convinced that "global warming" is and will be seriously destructive to life as we know it, and that Man is the chief cause of it. They say that there is a consensus of scientists who believe we are headed for disaster if we do not stop burning fossil fuels, but a growing number of prominent scientists disagree. Meanwhile, some 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of them PhDs, have signed The Petition Project statement proclaiming that Man is not necessarily the chief cause of warming, that the phenomenon may not exist at all, and that, in any case, warming would not be disastrous.

Ancient Magnesium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall, MD, The SkepDoc   

A company called Ancient Minerals is selling magnesium supplements that are applied to the skin rather than taken orally. Somewhat ungrammatically, they claim that "some benefits of Ancient Minerals magnesium products" include:

- Restores cellular magnesium levels
- Natural cellular protectant
- Facilitates safe and effective detoxification
- Relief of aches, pains, spasms
- Elevates mood and relieves stress
- Encourages healthy skin tissue
- Helps maintain proper muscle function
- Boosts energy levels
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Balances the hormonal system
- Calms overactive nerves
- Improves quality of sleep

The Ghost Box Challenge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rich Montalvo   

The JREF has a very active YouTube channel through which we receive direct messages from both skeptics and believers. Sometimes we receive videos from YouTubers as proofs of paranormal activity.

Here we have one such paranormal "proof," in which the videomaker presents his evidence for the existence of ghosts. Before we respond, I thought we should ask our Swift audience to have a look at the video and provide explanations of exactly what is going on here.

Harriet Hall's Big Big News PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Here's an extremely cool announcement from our friend, Harriet Hall, MD, also known as the SkepDoc. She publishes regularly here, on Science-Based Medicine, and elsewhere. She'll soon add another feather to her authorial cap, the provenance of which is so paradigm-crackingly weird that you'll barely believe it. Read below for Harriet's stunning announcement.

Ask The Skeptics: The Cottage Ghost, Global Warming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

(Editor's Note: If you wish to contribute a question to Ask The Skeptics, please write an email to Questions may be edited for brevity, and frequently asked questions may be edited together so that the resulting query is representative. All questions shall be published anonymously. If you have an answer for this week's questioners, please supply it below.)


Dear Swift:

My mother has always been a hard-headed realist. (She does attend Methodist church off and on, but that's more a matter of upbringing than anything else.) She is a stubborn, no-nonsense lady and a hard worker, and she's always kept her wits about her. She is also twice-widowed - the first time when my father died in 1976 (sudden heart attack), and again when her second husband, Rupert, died in 2007 (another heart attack). Mother is 74 now and just beginning to slow down, and I'm concerned about a habit she's developed since Rupert's death.

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