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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.

Gnome Hunters PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   
GNOME HUNTERS: A Demonstration

 

I was recently asked to write an article for a group of paranormal investigators about how skeptics view believers. I pointed out that, not being psychic, I cannot possibly know what all skeptics think of all believers. But I did come up with the following example, which I think helps demonstrate the skeptical position. Skeptics, you might find this example eerily familiar. I hope that you enjoy it, and that if you come across any Gnome Hunters in the future, you might be able to use it to illustrate why certain claims are difficult to believe.

One day, you are hanging out in a book store. You bump into a man who is buying some books, and wind up talking to him for a while. You find out that the man has a hobby – every time he visits a new place, he scans the area with a special Gnome Finder that he has designed himself. In reality, the Gnome Finder is a calculator. When the man finds out about a place that is rumored to be full of gnomes (which are, of course, invisible), the man takes his calculator/Gnome Finder to the location and puts in a simple math problem; like 2+2. Every time the man gets a wrong answer, he knows that gnomes are around because gnomes hate math and they block all right answers to illustrate that fact.

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Polterheist PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   
What's dumber? Robbing a house, or getting caught because a ghost wouldn't let you leave?

I'm guessing it's that second part. Even dumber, when the family returned to their home, they found the would-be robber suffering dehydration (more on that on The Star Online). Or maybe he was already on the brink of it when he robbed the house, which is why he thought it was haunted. Beats me.

Of course, we hear ghost stories all the time. As I (and lots of others, of course) have long been saying, there is no credible evidence of ghosts. None. Zip. Like with UFOs, if you want to convince me of this, I want real evidence. Not a blurry photo, or video of a spider crawling on a surveillance camera. Evidence.
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Encouraging, But... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

When the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issues a "Class 1 recall" of a device, service, or medication being offered the public, that's serious. It means that they believe the item has a reasonable probability that it will cause "adverse health consequences or death."

Now, I don't think it took concentrated investigative powers of perception for the Administration to determine that anything called a "Vibrational Integrated Bio-photonic Energizer" - made by manufacturer VIBE Technologies of Greeley, Colorado, or the "HLX8" device made by Nebion of Los Angeles, California, might not perform as advertised. The VIBE device is sold to treat cancer, infections, and depression, while the HLX8 claims to treat: cancer - breast, bone, lung, and pancreatic, carpel tunnel syndrome, migraine, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, shingles, sports injuries, sprains, and ruptured discs - an obviously wider range of ailments. Recalls were issued on both company's products.

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Happy Day! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

prophetFortunately, Utah "Prophet" Leland Freeborn has predicted that President-elect Obama will be prevented from taking his seat in the Oval Office due to a disaster. I say "fortunately," because this is as dependable as one of Sylvia Browne's predictions, though I see that she's now charging her followers a fee to know how wrong she is.  Mr. Freeborn is known as the "Parowan Prophet," and he's read 2 Peter 2:13 - that's a book in the Bible - that warns the naïve, apparently, about "riots."  I fail to see where riots in response to Obama's election come in, but Leland seems to. These riots, according to him, will encourage the remnants of the "old, hard-line Soviet guard" to fire nukes on the USA, taking out about a hundred million of us, which has to get our attention. The verse reads, in the King James version:

[These natural brute beasts] shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.

Umm, okay, but no cigar. Maybe the "New Revised Standard Version" of this book makes more sense?

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A Very Good XMas Gift PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
frontcoverA book by the late Bob Schadewald, "Worlds of Their Own," deals with - as the jacket says:

A brief history of misguided ideas: creationism, flat-Earthism, energy scams, and the Velikovsky affair.

To that, I'll add: perpetual motion, general pseudoscience, and end-of-the-world nonsense, all handled in depth and with great perception. Bob was a prolific technical writer, and the best of these are very knowledgeable about real science. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Science Education, including two years as its president.

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