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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.

Good News For Simon Singh? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by D.J. Grothe   

Today, Simon Singh got what many skeptics around the world and in the skeptical blogosphere are celebrating as good news: the libel charges against him brought by the British Chiropractic Association have officially been dropped, after he recently won an appeal in the preliminary phase of the case.

And it certainly is good new in many ways. First, Singh won't have to spend another two years of his life defending his right to say that he thinks chiropractic does not result in the positive medical outcomes some chiropractors claim, as he did in the original article in The Guardian that incited the BCA to file the claim of libel against him in the first place. Second, there won’t be the continued exorbitant expense of the libel case itself: over $500,000 has been spent on the case so far by both parties, and it hasn't officially even gone to trial yet (the preliminary proceedings he won at appeal recently were only about the meanings of the words in his original article, and not a winning of the appeal of the libel trial itself). So with all this good news, is there a downside?

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Randi Speaks! ... on World Homeopathy Awareness Week. PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Well, it’s World Homeopathy Awareness Week, and James Randi’s getting into the spirit of the thing with a video, viewable below. Leave a comment here, sure, but also swing by our YouTube page to check out what we’ve got cooking over there.

Click below to see the vid...

 

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Fatmir Mediu Goes To Washington PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Penn Bullock   

mediu_and_brownback1“The Fellowship” is a fraternity of baldly conspiratorial Christian fundamentalists near the center of American power. The group refuses to disclose its finances or membership, self-identifies as “The Family” or the “Christian Mafia,” and extols the subversive and revolutionary skills of Osama bin Laden and Lenin. For more than fifty years, it’s held the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. — a Jesus-themed gala of networking and schmoozing for the world’s top power brokers and politicians.

This year, President Obama spoke at the Prayer Breakfast. During his address, the famed orator could muster only an oblique remark about reports that the Family helped propose legislation in Uganda that would have gay people imprisoned or executed. Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, lambasted the President for attending. She noted that the Family uses its connections to ingratiate foreign dictators with the American government, and other critics pointed out that defense contractors partly bankroll its gala.

Now the JREF has learned that the 2009 Prayer Breakfast hosted an Albanian member of parliament, Fatmir Mediu, accused of helping scam the U.S. Army on a critical Afghan war contract.

Under cover of the Prayer Breakfast and its pretensions to faith and piety, the suspect Albanian met with Vice-President Joseph Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and a score of senators and congressmen, while subject to an escalating criminal investigation in Albania. Gary Kokalari, an Albanian-American activist in New York City, alerted the JREF to these meetings, which illustrate with uncommon clarity the perverse nature of the Family’s influence on government, and the way the group insinuates shifty characters into the corridors of power.

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If This Be Selling PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   

We skeptics are often eager to share the wonders of critical thinking with family, friends and associates. Good.

Some of us unabashedly and not very artfully seize the smallest opportunity to bring the topic into any conversation. Friend: “I have a new recipe for cookies.” You: “Sylvia Browne looks like she eats lots of cookies. Speaking of which, here is what the evidence says about psychics…” 

Some of us find subtler ways. How many of you, like me, keep a copy of Why People Believe Weird Things in plain sight in hopes of prompting questions?

Once we get a conversation started, we trot out evidence, debunk, and recommend websites, books, magazines and podcasts. We hope that at least some of the people we thus regale will embrace skepticism.

There’s a word for that kind of activity. “Selling.”

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The Ham Party 2 at TAM 8 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

hamparty1Those of you who attended our very first TAM Talent Show – The Ham Party at TAM 7 – know that it was a roaring success, with many great performances and awesome contributions by host George Hrab and judges Sean McCabe, Alan Melikdjanian, and Richard Saunders.

Well, this year, at 9pm Friday, July 9th, we’re bringing The Ham Party 2 to TAM 8! We’re stepping it up even further and bringing you nothing less than the best talent program the skeptical world has ever seen.

Be sure to read through this whole article for a breakdown of what you’ll get if you purchase a ticket to The Ham Party 2, as well as the guidelines for submitting yourself as a contestant. If you are chosen as one of the performers for this event, your admission to The Ham Party will be waived, and you will be eligible to win some great prizes.

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