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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.

To Fell The Truth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt Fiore   

There is a common perception that the polygraph has been removed from the American courtroom. Sadly, that perception is false. A quick Google news search yields a long list of recent unfortunate examples. In one story, a convicted child molester submits to periodic polygraph examination after release so that parents can feel more at ease. In another, a man is interrogated using a lie detector. One even shows that the results of a polygraph test can be used as evidence against you in a rape case. So what does American law really have to say about lie detectors? As with all legal questions that haven’t been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, the answer is “it depends,” and “it’s confusing as hell.” The relevant state and federal rules are a shifting patchwork of contradictory statutes and common law.

Written by James Randi   

Well, my piece on AGW -- Anthropogenic Global Warming -- has elicited a huge response, both positive and negative. The subject, dealing with the influence of our species on the observed increase in overall temperatures around the globe -- said to be about 0.7º Celsius -- is apparently a matter of great contention, and I almost regret having entered into it. Almost...

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.

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