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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.

Patricia Putt Preliminary MDC Test PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

Richard WisemanOn 6 May 2009, Patricia Putt, who claims to have psychic powers, will participate in the preliminary test for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.

Mrs. Putt will be tested at Goldsmiths University by Professor Christopher French, Professor Richard Wiseman, and psychology students Panka Juhasz, James Munroe, Suzanne Barbieri, and Fabio Tartarini.

"It's great that Patricia has agreed to be tested and accepted the protocol," said Professor Wiseman, author of Quirkology, "In my experience, the vast majority of psychics and mediums back down before this point, so this is going to be a relatively rare and exciting experiment.  My hope is that all will go well with the procedure on the day and thus we will get a clear result one way or the other."

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Shouting Fire PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Scott Hurst   

In the 1919 Supreme Court case of Schenck vs. United States, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. famously wrote "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." By "falsely," Justice Holmes clearly meant shouting fire while not believing there to be a fire. It goes without saying, shouting fire in the event of an actual fire would never be a cause for punishment. It appears that shouting fire while holding a mistaken belief that there was a fire, a terrible and possibly lethal error, would likely be no cause for punishment, either. But what if that belief was based on no good evidence?

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him at great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.

What shall we say of him?

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Unique Opportunities! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

skepchicksThe JREF has some very good friends, and among them are Prof. Richard Wiseman and Skepchick.org. They've each donated amazing items for the TAM Scholarship fund, which helps people get to TAM 7. These auctions are open to anyone, whether you're attending TAM or not.

From Richard Wiseman:

Following in the footsteps of The Luck Factor and Quirkology, I am currently working on a new popular psychology book. It will be published by Knopf in the US in January. To help raise funds for the JREF TAM Scholarship program, I am offering one person the opportunity to have a special mention in the acknowledgments section of the American edition of the book. Everyone bids in the auction, and I will work with the winner to come up with a fun sentence for the acknowledgment (e.g., 'Special thanks to xx, who has the wit of Oscar Wilde, the brain of Einstein and the beard of Darwin' or 'I would also like to thank the ever wonderful xx - without you this sentence would not have been possible'). The winner can also choose to use the acknowledgment to mention someone else rather than themselves, thus making it an unique present for a friend, colleague or loved one. All of the money raised goes to the JREF TAM Scholarship program. So, get bidding and I look forward to seeing your name in the book......

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Randi Appears on Young Aussie Skeptics PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Jason Ball writes:

Hello,

The Young Australian Skeptics had the privilege of interviewing James Randi at the CFI World Congress. The interview can be heard on the latest episode of The Pseudo Scientists, their official podcast.

Check it out at: youngausskeptics.com (Episode 10 direct link).
Become a fan on facebook.

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There's a Difference PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Reader "Roger" sent us this note:

I got an education this last weekend. I did not realize there was a difference between a "health" expo and a "wellness" expo. My buddy got us a booth to display our line of supplements and power nutrition. As I walked into the event center, I saw a couple of chiropractors. I don't know what you think about them, but they were there teaching people about good posture....okay, no problem.

As soon as I walked in the door to the main exhibit room, I was floored. First thing I saw was "aroma therapy"...doh!! Then there was a guy sitting between two pillars with a crystal dangling between them. He "channels" energy to the crystal because the nearest vortex is about 1000 miles away....double doh!! Of course, the psychics, clairvoyants, and mediums all had booths and were offering readings.... "Doh" doesn't cover it here. The event started at 11. About 10:45, about ¾ of the people in there started to meditate with an eerie chant. There was reiki, feng shui, an oxygen bar, light therapy, angel readings, crystal therapy - with crystals from the Himalayas...

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