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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 August 10, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Stunning News, More Beastly Stuff, Krazy Kat, South Africa - Again?, Ask the Psychics, Attenborough Not Concerned, A Good Experience, Shermer Scores, In Conclusion.

Have you ever wondered whether there was any measurable effect of the phases of the Moon on human affairs? Well, Dr. Robert Seeberger, a physicist and astronomer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Austria, apparently has cared enough to look into this question – though it’s hard to imagine where the funding came from, or why. He has now reported that his team of experts analyzed 500,000 industrial accidents in that country between 2000 and 2004, and found no link to lunar activity. Says he:

The full moon does not unfavorably affect the likelihood of an accident.

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SWIFT August 3, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Blatantly Suppressing Science, More Royal News, JREF Library File, Sylvia Got Something Right!, All Talk But No Cure, Yet Another Dowsing Rod, And It Still Pours, Accreditation Responsibility, Solutions Offered, Error, Educator McLeroy Again, Flamm Again on Flim-Flam, Another Favorite Myth Exploded, In Conclusion…

From reader Jan Willem Nienhuys comes another disturbing story from the Low Countries.

One of the “public broadcasting corporations” in the Netherlands is the EO, where “E” stands for Evangelical. Why such religious organizations are “public” is too complicated to explain. Competing with the EO is the Roman Catholic KRO, which specializes in psychic superstitions like miracle stories, reincarnation, and “competitions” between psychics. The EO turns out to be a bunch of liars as well. They broadcast the BBC series "The Life of Mammals" presented by David Attenborough, and it turns out that they left out certain comments about evolutionary theory; all references to "millions of years" were also systematically edited out. The last part of the series, mainly about the descent of man, was omitted altogether.

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SWIFT July 27, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

That Silly Non-Spinning Wheel, Candidates for the Prize, Hot News, Texas Leads in Science Bashing, Royal Speaks to Angels and Horses, Sylvia’s Predictions, That Dreaded Number Again, And it Poured…, Homer at Work, Credentials, Reality Can Be Rough, Trouble in Dilution Land and In Conclusion…

Yes, the Steorn toy is still with us, folks. Refer to randi.org/jr/070607 to refresh your memory. I just saw a typically naïve comment that repeats a canard about the requirements of our patent office:

Right, and in the US the USPTO, our patent office, actually requires people to send in physical working samples of supposed perpetual motion machines because they have historically received so many claims for patents to this system.

Wrong. The USPTO requires nothing of the kind. They’ll issue patents to just about anything, no matter how silly it is. For an example, see randi.org/jr/042602.html – do a search for “patent.”

Another discussion on the claims made for this stupid machine. First, a question that was posed to the Steorn CEO:

Let's talk a little bit more about the technology that you guys have supposedly developed here. Laws of thermodynamics basically state that you can't achieve 100% efficiency in any apparatus and that there are always transfers of heat and energy in any system. But obviously you guys are claiming 100%+ efficiency. Do you have a statistic or number of what you estimate the energy efficiency level of your machine is? Is it 110% or 150%?

Steorn’s answer

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SWIFT July 20, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

To Debate or not to Debate, Passing the Test, Perpetual Emotion, Notice!, An Adventure in Falling, Geller in the News, News Update, Excorcism Excercise & Exhortation Experts, and in Closing...

 

Reader Joe Wilkins comments on the wisdom of debating those who might be more experienced in that tricky procedure…

The essence of the argument is this: debating is a sport in which representatives of opposing viewpoints perform in front of judges and an audience in order to determine who has better defended their position. In the intercollegiate sport of debating, a particular team might be "pro" on one occasion and "con" on another and be able to win the argument in either case simply through their superior debating skills. Science, on the other hand, is a system of testing hypotheses in order to gain some predictive knowledge of the physical world.

The ability to debate in a public forum has absolutely nothing to do with science – just as creationism and intelligent design have nothing to do with science. So, entering into a public debate on a scientific topic with a non-scientist is a little like is like determining political policy through individual combat or deciding whether Newton's laws of physics have any validity through the medium of arm wrestling.

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SWIFT July 13, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Tricks of Their Trade, Shaky Assurance, Appreciation for TAM, Gotta Watch Those Portals, A Strange Request, Steorn Again, And How to Spel, A Real Witch Doctor in London, A Religious Shock, Down-Under Debate, Incomplete Information, Giggle Time, and In Closing…

 

 

NCSEI came upon an excellent article/review by paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman (Pennsylvania State University) in “Reports,” the journal of the National Center for Science Education. I’ll extract one paragraph from that article, which deals with a very slick presentation by a Dr. Oktar Babuna given for the Muslims Student’s Association at Penn State. That lecture was titled, “The Collapse of Darwinism and the Fact of Creation.” It illustrates how clever and duplicitous the creationists can be. After all, reason and evidence are not their friends, so they stoop as low as they can to try putting across their nonsense. This is an example of their tricky attack on a rather high-profile target, and here’s the pertinent paragraph from Ms. Shipman’s article:

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