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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.

Book Review: Science Under Siege PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

tamyspeakerA new book has just come out that will be of interest to skeptics everywhere. Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience. Edited by Kendrick Frazier, it is a collection of some of the best writing from Skeptical Inquirer from the last few years:

Some of the gems it contains:

  • Carl Sagan’s last Q & A on science and skeptical inquiry.
  • A paean to the wonder and awe of real science by Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan.
  • An article explaining Ray Hyman’s Categorical Directive: “before we try to explain something, we should make sure it actually happened.”
  • John E. Jones, III’s eloquent decision in the Dover “Intelligent Design” case.
  • An article on AIDS denialism by Nicoli Nattrass, who is director of an AIDS research unit in South Africa and can testify to the incalculable harm denialism has caused her compatriots.
Read more...
 
SAPS at TAM PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

sapsstickersmallYou might’ve noticed that SAPS has, lately, fallen off the grid a little while I sat around contemplating the wisdom of being on a television show called Door to the Dead.

With The Amaz!ng Meeting coming so fast, though, I’ve been forced out of my funk and into participating in a big way.

SAPS is involved in a lot of events at TAM 7, and here are some of them, if you’d like to be involved too.

Read more...
 
Bats in the Bellfry PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

What is it with Baseball players? They're big, strong, well-paid... and yet some of them are afraid to sleep in a hotel alone.

No, I'm not making this up. Others sleep with a baseball bat by their side. Are they afraid of paparazzi? Jealous wives and girlfriends? No. They're afraid of ghosts.

WISN in Milwaukee reports that a local hotel, the newly remodeled Pfister, is scaring ballplayers from many visiting teams. You can check out their video report here.

Read more...
 
Flim-Flam in the UK? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

It just never stops. Otherwise intelligent people still turn to woo-woo to solve their problems. One of the latest is Simon Trussell, 41, of London, UK, a lovesick restaurant owner who was estranged from his lady friend Mary Pratt. He feverishly consulted Psychic TV, a Sky and Freeview channel in the UK serving mediums and spiritualists, and was given a phone number to call and speak with a "psychic" advisor, George Lavery, 42, who uses the professional name Simon Lavery. The con man assured his victim that all would be well after his awesome powers were unleashed. To begin, he told Trussell to purchase a cell phone which he said he would pass to his ex. This was done, and Trussell began receiving dozens of text messages on his own cell phone in which Mary asked for cash and gifts - to be sent through Lavery.

He naturally complied. Over the next eight months, Trussell, 41, handed over as much as £6,000 cash, £800 of naughty leather fetish gear, a sofa, and even a £6,000 engagement ring - a total of £12,800 [US$21,000].

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Make Way for the Anti-Ghost-Whisperers PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jennifer Ouelette   

oulette tamyspeaker At a symposium last November to launch the National Academy of Sciences' new program, the Science and Entertainment Exchange, host Seth McFarlane (The Family Guy) - perhaps Hollywood's most powerful atheist -bemoaned the dominance of "comic book spiritualism" in film and television in recent years.

"I grew up watching Star Trek and I remember we used to be so excited about NASA and what they were doing," he told a rapt audience of prominent scientists and leaders in the entertainment industry. "Now we have The Ghost Whisperer. I don't know why I chose to crap on that show specifically, but the point is that the realism is gone, and the believability is gone. We need to get people excited about science again."

McFarlane makes a valid point. But there are signs that the TV times, they are a-changin' - science and rational thinking are making a comeback on the airwaves, if a quick survey of the top TV shows of the last few years is any indication.

Read more...
 
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