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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.

Where's the Justice? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

In recent months, there've been a few satisfying examples of how some police departments have moved in on "psychic" scams, arrested the perpetrators, and even obtained penalties against them. In San Mateo, California, Janet Adams, 42, a woman who advertised herself as a psychic was charged with taking $80,330 from an 85-year-old woman by claiming that both their husbands would die if the woman didn't hand over money. She is being held on $500,000 bail at the San Mateo County Jail. Adams came up with additional colorful - and false - stories about funeral expenses and a fictional son's medical treatments, and has a history of victimizing women in this way. In 2004, she spent two years in state prison on a theft conviction, while working as a palm reader.

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Going Around in Crop Circles PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Reader "Troy C" shares this with us:

I have enjoyed your site for some time now.  I'm a former high school agriculture science teacher, and I'd like to share an experience I had with one of my classes a few years ago.  A local newspaper reported that a farmer in the area had discovered  a crop circle in one of his soybean fields, so naturally a crop circle "expert" was brought in to "investigate."  One of the comments in the article  made by the "expert" caught my attention: she noted that only about 50% of the soybean stems were broken off in the circle, and the rest were merely bent over.  That curious observation was one of the things that led her to believe that the circle was "genuine" - whatever that means - since according to her all the stems should have broken.

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Hands Licensed to Kill PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Linda Rosa   

It's hard to keep bad ideas down.  With the recent publication of an NCCAM-funded study, Therapeutic Touch (TT) — where nurses wave their hands above their patient to manipulate their "human energy fields" — seems to be trying to revive its early glory days with a return to the petri dish. When Bernard Grad (McGill University) claimed plants fed healer-treated water produced extra chlorophyll, TT's inventor and NYU nursing professor Dolores Krieger set out to see if laying on hands could do the same to hemoglobin (1975). That launched TT's invasion into nursing as the profession's premier quackery.

TT would go on to produce over two decades of unconvincing clinical trials before young Emily Rosa dealt the practice a body blow in 1998 when she published the results of her experiment testing TT's basic tenet that TT practitioner's could detect the human energy field (now redubbed the "biofield") with their hands. (For a description of Emily's findings, see QuackWatch.

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Give the NAS a moment of your time PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

The National Academies of Science is one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world. As their "About the NAS" page states:

The National Academies perform an unparalleled public service by bringing together committees of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor. These experts serve pro bono to address critical national issues and give advice to the federal government and the public.

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Imaginary Birds and Ghosts PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

ghostslightsPareidolia takes many different forms. It’s the tendency of certain individuals to see images of animals or faces in clouds, to perceive shapes where there are none, or to hear hidden messages in recordings when they’re played in reverse. Another currently popular variety of this delusion is the “orbs” craze that we handled several places here on SWIFT. To refresh your data-base on such matters, see www.randi.org/jr/051002.html and do a search on the word “conditioner” to bring up the item. Then go to www.randi.org/jr/051702.html and search for “opinion” for the specific item. There are many more – 70+ – “orb” references in SWIFT archives.

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