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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.

Get Out the Woo-Woo Shovel PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

If you've any doubt that religion is superstition, consider the current condition of the real-estate market, and what a certain portion of Americans are resorting to. They may believe that religious faith can move mountains, but can a small piece of cheap plastic move a house? Yes, a lot of people think so, provided that the plastic is a figurine of Saint Joseph. As of the beginning of 2009, shops that sell religious charms, books, and various holy chachkas, are reporting booming sales of tiny statuettes of Joseph - the actual father of Jesus Christ and the patron saint of home and house sellers - both to real estate agents and to homeowners.

The proprietor of a Saint Jude Shop in Pennsylvania happily announced:

We have over 5,000 items in our store, and you know what the No. 1 item is? The St. Joseph statue!

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NBC TV Does It Again PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

nbcNote: this piece is a little dated, but rather than let it go to waste, I thought I post it. My apologies for the delay. - Jeff Wagg

Has the National Broadcasting Corporation decided to abandon any pretense of rationality and reality? Reader and colleague Margaret Downey tells us:

I just watched [December 5th] a "how to sell your house in today's bad economy" segment on NBC's Today Show (in the 8:00 AM hour). The segment featured their "Real Estate Expert" Barbara Corcoran. She was asked questions by host David Gregory after a short film that highlighted "creative" ways people are trying to sell their homes.

The film showed people doing some creative advertising (no problem with that) and a man who held a sign on a street corner telling people about the apartment he was selling in the city. The other people they showed in the film clip advocated smudging, Feng Shui, house blessings, and exorcism.

Randi comments: This "smudging" woo-woo is the nonsense of wafting smoke over yourself and/or your possessions in order to "purify" them. Duh.

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Australian Mum Singlehandedly Defeats Sex Magnet Advertiser PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

Sandra Quincy writes from Australia to tell us about her successful anti-quackery activities "down under."

I thought that you might be interested in the success that I have had with getting a magnetic product removed from sale in Australia.  It all started when a Century Mail booklet fell out of my October 2008 Reader's Digest.  I looked at it out of curiosity and saw an ad for this little plastic case called the Sex Magnet.  It claimed to increase a man's libido and promote oxygen and blood flow if the man put it into his trouser pocket.  I was so angry at such a stupid claim that I wrote to the Australian Complaints Resolution Panel.  They investigate therapeutic goods.  They responded to my complaint and said that they would investigate the claim when they next met.  I got a reply last week.

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The Skepticamp Bargain PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Reed Esau   

Were it not for three notable events that shared a common thread, it might have been an ordinary Saturday morning during the summer of 2007.

reedsci_fooThe first of these events occurred in California where some 200 invited attendees descended upon the Google campus to attend the second annual ‘Science Foo Camp,' a conference that draws together leading scientists and experts in technology and public policy from around the world. The format of SciFoo is unusual for lacking any predetermined agenda and being participant-driven where each attendee is expected to give a talk of some kind. Among those attending for the first time were two names familiar to skeptics, PZ Myers and James Randi.

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Those Were the Days... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

No matter how much we write, lecture, or complain, it's easy to think that we've made little progress. Do you remember 1981? I do. I was as sophomore in High School, and I loved the occult. There was a little shop in Salem, MA where I grew up called Crow Haven Corner. It was run by the "Official Witch of Salem," Laurie Cabot. Yes, that Salem. I grew up near where the witches were hanged and attended Witchcraft Heights Elementary School.

They sold potions, amulets books, etc. It was the only shop of its kind in town, right across from the Witch House, which is the former home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges during the witch trials.

Fast forward nearly 30 years, and Salem has become witch and psychic mecca. Crow Haven Corner has moved to a bigger location, and faces competition from a dozen or more similar shops.

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