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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.

Profiles of the Godless PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Christina Stephens   

Back in early July, I argued in this Swift post that studies reporting greater health (especially mental health) among strongly religious people using a control group of nonbelievers were weakened by the fact that nonbelievers may be too heterogeneous a group to make an adequate comparison to strongly religious populations. I pointed out the need to study nonbelievers as a group on a larger scale in order to determine if there were any meaningful differences between different subtypes of nonbelievers.

As such, I was pleasantly surprised when the newest issue (August/September 2009) of Free Inquiry magazine arrived in my mailbox. Hiding in the pages of the magazine is an article reporting on the results of a study which did exactly that.

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A Death in the Family PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Here is a report on a crime with four victims and no perpetrator. In June, Australian couple Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted of manslaughter. Their first child, Gloria, died of eczema-related complications in 2002. She was nine months old, and had been battling illness over half her life. To deal with her eczema, she was treated almost exclusively with homeopathic remedies.

Today, sentencing recommendations were submitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

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Does Chinese acupuncture affect the brain's ability to regulate pain? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Christina Stephens   

A new acupuncture vs. placebo acupuncture study has been making headlines due to results of a study suggesting that there may be a difference in opioid receptor response in acupuncture vs. placebo acupuncture.

Several large-scale studies [1-3] have been released showing that acupuncture and various forms of placebo acupuncture have clinically insignificant differences in the reduction of pain, proponents of acupuncture are now looking at brain-imaging to explore the mechanisms of acupuncture and placebo acupuncture to determine if acupuncture and placebo acupuncture operate via different mechanisms.

In this study [4], researchers hypothesized that long term acupuncture therapy may result in increased opioid receptor availability and that these effects would not be observed in a placebo acupuncture group. Their subjects consisted of 20 women randomly divided into 2 groups of 10 subjects. One group received traditional acupuncture treatment while another group received non-invasive, placebo acupuncture. Results from PET scans using contrast material were taken during a 90-minute period, during which acupuncture treatment or sham acupuncture treatment was administered during the 45-90 minute timeframe. A period followed in which subjects received 7 acupuncture or sham acupuncture treatments, and then the PET scan procedure was repeated, for a total of 9 treatments. Results indicate acupuncture therapy evoked short-term increases in MOR binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions including the cingulate (dorsal and subgenual), insula, caudate, thalamus, and amygdala. Acupuncture therapy also evoked long-term increases in MOR binding potential in some of the same structures including the cingulate (dorsal and perigenual), caudate, and amygdala. These short- and long-term effects were absent in the sham group where small reductions were observed, an effect more consistent with previous placebo PET studies.

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Airborne Against a Virus PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Ben Goldacre over at badscience.net tweeted this today:

Airborne rabbis fight off swine flu: http://bit.ly/3wYMjt (I'm trying to figure out why they are on an airplane. Poor pilot)

Go ahead and watch the video... I'll wait patiently.

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How to Market Woo PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Naomi Baker   

Last week a friend of mine was given a flyer from a local chiropractor, which she forwarded to me.  The flyer, photocopied onto fluorescent pink paper, carried a banner "Optimal Health University™" and proclaimed the top ten ways that chiropractic can improve your life. It was liberally sprinkled with the chiropractor's name, address, and phone number, and included such gems as "Chiropractic Prevents Other Conditions" (high blood pressure, colic, ear infections, and Parkinson's diseases), "Chiropractic Boosts Immunity", and "Chiropractic May Make You Smarter" by improved cortical processing, as measured by testing volunteers' response time to various stimulations  The chiropractor flyer states:

Many people find that they actually save money on their health care expenses by seeing a chiropractor. Another way to save. Studies show that chiropractic can double your immune capacity, naturally and without drugs. The immune system fights colds, the flu, and other sicknesses. So you may not be running off to the doctor as much.

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