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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.

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.

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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.

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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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The Politics Article PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Recently, I was criticizing a ridiculous interview of John Edward by Sean Hannity. I made small fun of FoxNews, which caused a few commenters to accuse me of hypocrisy and being a “lib,” whatever that is. Some went so far as to suggest that I and the JREF had a deeply liberal agenda.

To quote Sherman T. Potter: horse hockey.

First, to be clear, the JREF has no political stance whatsoever. We will criticize those that ignore scientific inquiry and praise those who embrace it, regardless of party. As a non-profit, we’re not permitted to endorse particular candidates or parties, and we have not done so. In the past few weeks, I have been critical of many media sources, including MSNBC, ABCNews, and yes, FoxNews.

Anyone investigating my personal political contributions on the Internet, will discover that I donated money to the campaign of Hal Bidlack, a friend of mine for some years now. I gave him a donation because I know him to be a man of honor, and I feel there are far too few of them in our government. I would have donated the money to his campaign regardless of his party, though he happens to be a Democrat. When I lived in Virginia, I registered as a Republican to support the campaign of James Burton, another man I believe would improve our government.

I am a political independent, and I don’t know what party affiliations other JREF employees have, if any. I vote based on the issues of the day, and I care not for party. That disclosed, I have a more important message to convey: skepticism is not compatible with politics.

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Creating A Monster PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

japaneseghostI was at a meetup.com dinner recently with about a dozen people that I’d never met before. When we went around the table telling what we did for a living, my response garnered some attention.

“Are you a ghost hunter?”

“Er, well… no, not exactly.. you see…”

“I saw a ghost once.”

“That’s very interesting, but what I do at the JREF is…”

And so it went. This is not an unusual exchange, and I’m not annoyed in the least. Often, such awkward openings lead to something more interesting, and that was the case here.

An Asian man approached me and said something very interesting:

“Ghosts are cultural.”

Though his English was quite good, I didn’t understand what he meant.

“Do you mean ghosts only exist because they’re socially constructed?”

“In Japan, ghosts have no legs. In the US, they do.”

Read more...
 
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