The Amazing Meeting 2014

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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.

Review: The Ghost Map PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Naomi Baker   

"The probability of an outburst or increase during [calm, mild] weather, I believed to be heightened on holidays, Saturdays, Sundays, and any other occasions where opportunities were afforded the lower classes for dissipation and debauchery"  - unattributed quote by ‘expert' regarding how cholera disproportionally attacks the poor and other social underclasses, in Victorian London.

As strange as this seems to modern eyes, this statement was backed up by scientific evidence, or at least what passed for such in England of the mid-19th century.  During this time, the predominant theory for the spread of contagion and sickness was miasma (Greek for "pollution"), that is bad smells and foul air were the causes of disease.

The Ghost Map: the Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson (Riverhead Books) is the story of Dr. John Snow and Rev. Henry Whitehead's discovery of the water-born transmission of cholera, a disease which struck with terrifying regularity in London and other large cities.  The popular folklore is that Dr. Snow plotted cases of cholera deaths on a map, and deduced that the outbreak's source was a particular well in a poor section of London, and removed the handle to the pump, thereby halting the epidemic, and was hailed as a hero.

 
That's My Kid Too PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Michael Goudeau   

tamyspeakerThe real science is obvious and overwhelming. Vaccines don't cause Autism. Mercury in vaccines didn't cause Autism. Jenny McCarthy's son was vaccinated after mercury was removed from the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Autism rates haven't dropped as a result of mercury being removed from vaccines. Autism rates are the same in vaccinated and non-vaccinated kids. There are big studies around the world showing this to be true. They are the best science we have and science is our only hope in solving this. Chip Denman said it best, (Forgive my paraphrasing) "Science is not a smorgasbord. You don't pick and choose what you want to believe. You sit down and take what you're served."

Autism rates won't be changed by Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy but there will be dead and injured people as a result of their anti-vaccine campaign. Some people claim there already are: jennymccarthybodycount.com Read about measles, mumps and rubella and the damage they did before vaccines. We've forgotten the damage these diseases and others brought before vaccines. Ask your grandmother. If we stop the vaccines the Center for Disease Control thinks we'll have 2.7 million deaths worldwide annually from measles alone.

 
Crop Circles Explained! (Again) PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

drunktasAt the JREF, we don't talk about crop circles very much. They're still out there, in fact an interesting new one that depicts Pi was recently discovered. But ever since people started coming forward to admit that they'd created complex circles using no more than a board, two ropes, and the lines left by irrigation equipment, the scientific community has lost interest.

They may have done so prematurely. You see, there is new evidence that a non-human lifeform is responsible for at least some crop circles appearing recently in Tasmania, and it's not what you think.

 
Remember Steorn? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

"Imagine...

A world with an infinite supply of pure energy.

Never having to recharge your phone.

Never having to refuel your car."

In 2006, Steorn took out a full page ad in The Economist promising "free, clean, and constant energy.” This was notable not only because it was at odds with the known laws of physics, but also because The Economist is an unusual place to announce a breakthrough that would change just about everything we know about the world around us. Randi commented on their follies here.

In 2007, the promised test of their “Orbo” device came… and sadly, the device couldn’t handle the “hot lights” of the test environment. Later, they blamed an “internal greenhouse effect.”

Fair enough (not really), what’s happened with the device since?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I still get an electric bill every month.

 
Interview with Connie Sonne, Dowser PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

tamyspeakerIf you are attending The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 and will still be at South Point at 1pm on Sunday, you will have the opportunity to witness the largest preliminary Challenge test ever conducted in the history of the Million Dollar Challenge.

Connie Sonne, a dowser from Denmark, will attempt to dowse for the contents of sealed envelopes in front of a live audience that will hopefully include you.

Famed mentalist, Banachek, will conduct the test, and it will be attended by famous skeptics and critical thinkers from all over the world like Penn & Teller, Dr. Michael Shermer, Captain Disillusion, George Hrab, and more.

 
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