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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.

SWIFT October 5, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Truth Is Actionable, Egg On Their Collective Faces, Now It Can Be Told, A Call for More Teeth In the Law, Ammunition for the Homeopaths, Making a Fuss, Giving Up the Ghost, And From Hungary, Yet More Cables, Consider This, New Laws, Old News, A Contrary Expectation, Watch This, A Small Hallelujah, and Robbins Strikes Again!

AdamEveSteve Bitterman, 60, was an instructor at Southwestern Community College in Red Oak, Iowa. Last week, he dared to tell his students that the Biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted. Truth is not much a part of Iowa curricula, it seems, so a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a Western Civilization class intimidated the faculty enough that the teacher was fired.

Bitterman objected, and rightly so:

I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree… have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job.

The Southwestern Community College president, Barbara Crittenden, said that Bitterman taught one course at Southwest, but declined comment on his claim that he was fired specifically over the Bible reference, claiming that it was a personnel issue. The teacher said that he uses the Old Testament in his Western Civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.

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SWIFT September 28, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

God Answers, Corrections Made, A Justified Complaint, More Cable Nonsense, Re Steiner Schools, This Is Law, Here it is, Randi the Movie, In Closing

Last week’s item at this link was followed by a notice that a response seems to have been sent in by the Defendant – God. Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha, Nebraska, had filed a lawsuit against God, and the court clerk of the Douglas County District Court has now reported that a document

…miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here – poof!

Somehow, I doubt that probably-tongue-in-cheek assertion, but that’s the kind of curmudgeon I am. The mysterious document argues that the Defendant is immune from at least some Earthly laws and that, in any case, the court lacks jurisdiction over His home base. Says the document, in part:

I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you.

 

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SWIFT September 21, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

In Australia, Where is the FDA?, From the Mouths of Babes, Off-the-Cuff-Cold Reading, Reaching the Heart - the Hard Way, God Sued, Sylvia Writes, Not Enough Atoms, and In Closing…

There’s good news and bad news from Down Under. First, as reported there recently by Australian TV:

An attempt to broaden the appeal of state education appears to be coming unstuck in [the state of] Victoria where an investigation was launched this week into a public school offering the Steiner method of teaching.

To clarify: the “Steiner System” is based on the religion known as Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was the Austrian woo-woo philosopher/mystic who founded the religion and the famous Waldorf schools, where his postulated "natural rhythms of everyday life" are pursued to “aid every child to unfold his or her unique destiny.” Waldorf teachers are given creative freedom to define curricula, to the extent that I have personally seen astrology, Wood Spirits, and Speaking to Trees incorporated into curricula in Finland and in Germany.
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SWIFT September 14, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Book Review, Forever Uninformed, To the Dark Continent Once More, More on Romania, Slow Learner, Our Recent Adventure, and In Closing…

We’ve just received an advance copy of a new book whose cover rather speaks for itself. It’s by Jim Gerard, a stand-up comic and satirist who effectively eviscerates fundamentalist Christianity in "Beam Me Up, Jesus," subtitled, "A Heathen’s Guide to The Rapture." The publisher tells us that this is a response to the immensely popular – among Rapture fans – "Left Behind" fiction series (see randi.org/jr/2006-09/09806guess.html and I suspect that this volume is just as funny as those are. A few quotes:

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SWIFT September 7, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Dubious Help, Dubious Education, Dubious Cures, Is No Silly Idea Sacred?, New Website, The Angel/Horse Communicators, Super Silly, COS Designated as Criminal, Mysteries of the Soul, and In Closing…

Reader Nate Caraor writes:

I thought you might be interested in learning about the Penn State Paranormal Research Society (PRS), a student organization to be found at www.pennstateprs.com. I was unaware of this group until I learned that a TV show called “PARANORMAL STATE” will soon be airing on A&E, centered around them and their highly promoted leader Ryan Buell. The PRS lists among its services:

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