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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.

Message from D.J. Grothe on Sylvia Browne's death PDF Print E-mail
Written by D.J. Grothe   

The JREF sends our condolences to Sylvia's family and loved ones. No one celebrates her death, but skeptics do criticize how she lived. Her dismal track record at predictions -- she confidently predicted she would die at 88, not 77, for instance -- would merely be laughable if they did not hurt so many people. Remember Sean Hornbeck. Or Amanda Berry. The number of people she hurt with her pretend supernatural abilities is nearly as high as the number of her failed predictions. It is sad that it took death to stop Sylvia Browne.

D.J. Grothe is president of the James Randi Educational Foundation

Hope for ghost hunting groups? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   

 A few years ago I was involved in a project where my investigative team tested a local ghost-hunting group. We invited them to investigate a home we said we feared to be haunted, to see if they found something where there was nothing. After a few hours of trudging about the house with digital recorders and KII meters in hand they declared the place to be haunted. In fact, they gushed that the house was “worse than Amityville.” The full story can be heard here at the Token Skeptic.

A few weeks ago the opportunity arose for another similar project. Local skeptic “Charles” whose home security camera captured an image with an interesting anomaly approached me. He showed it to his colleagues at the hospital where he works but only two out of eleven people thought there was a natural explanation for the image. The rest believed the image showed either a demon or a spirit.

Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

                                                                                300px-Chance go to jail

The legal system is not the way to teach people to think rationally. Legalism is a way of thinking that often relies on carefully constructed logic, but should never be mistaken for reality – or for that matter, with right and wrong. The legal system isn’t a moral system, and if your only defense of questionable behavior is that you didn’t break the law – or weren’t convicted of a crime – there’s a strong chance you’re living a less than moral life. As a prosecutor friend of mine likes to say, the law is a blunt instrument – not a scalpel.

You're going to jail: This week in Doubtful News for November 19, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   

 It was a HUGE week in "doubtful" news. Here is a rundown of the hype and important legal developments that occurred this past week courtesy of Doubtful News.

There were some important court decisions this week. The wheels of justice are turning.

Alleged psychic Sylvia Mitchell is going to jail and she admits she was on the wrong path

The Schaibles plead "no contest" to the faith healing death of their second child in order to avoid a trial.

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

Medical cranks: Why we fight (David Gorski) Videos of presentations from TAM 2013: David Gorski’s and Bob Blaskiewicz’s talks about cancer quack Burzynski and a panel discussion on “Medical Cranks and Quacks” with both of them plus Steven Novella, Harriet Hall, and Mark Crislip.

Revealed by the FDA: The results of the most recent inspection of the Burzynski Clinic (David Gorski) In 2012, when a child died from Burzynski’s experimental treatments, the FDA ordered him to stop enrolling new children in his clinical trials. Now the prohibition has been extended to adults, and the FDA has released a long list of egregious violations found during their inspection. It’s hard to understand why he wasn’t shut down completely a long time ago.

Colonoscopy and Other Colorectal Cancer Screening Options: An Update (Harriet Hall) New data show that colonosocopy cuts the incidence of colon cancer and death from colon cancer by more than half. The pros and cons of the procedure are reviewed and other screening options are discussed.


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