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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.

How to Debunk Biomagnet Therapy in Less Than a Minute PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon Petereson   

I recently had the opportunity to attend The Amaz!ng Adventure 5. While at Grand Turks, our final port, I was wandering through the duty-free shop looking for deals on liquor (Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel for $39!) when I happened upon a tableful of woo. Seeing as I was a medical student on a skeptical cruise, I had to stop and have my wife help make this video.

In my off-the-cuff video, I didn’t have the opportunity to mention the lack of scientific evidence for their claims. Even if the magnetic field did penetrate the skin, it still would not stimulate blood flow because the amount of iron in blood is far too small. If blood did have a strong magnetic attraction, your body would explode in an MRI (which would be cool, I admit).

Hastily Scribbled (And Extremely Late) Notes From The Amazing Adventure, 5 (Volumes II & III) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Note: These would've been posted much earlier if the Costa Fortuna's WiFi had gotten along even slightly better with Joomla, the software with which we run our website. As it was, we got these things all ready to go and then stared at our computer monitors, waiting for some sign of life from the internets. Such signage was not forthcoming, so these are coming to you late. Sorry about that. To make up for last week's Swift shortfall, here's a picture of Randi at the beach.



The remainder of my diary from The Amazing Adventure 5 after the jump.

Hastily Scribbled Notes From The Amazing Adventure, 5 (Volume I) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

This is our second full day at sea. I’m sitting in a corner at the back of the Augustus conference room on Deck 5 of the Costa Fortuna, trying to be inconspicuous. Kitty Mervine is preparing to give a lecture on — what? Who knows? I suspect pirates will be involved. The lectures have been unpredictable so far, and better for it. Today we’ve had talks on parliamentary procedure (which was actually exciting, believe it or not), “political bias in skepticism,” and —

(By the way, Kitty just said this: “How much does a pirate charge for an ear-piercing? A buccaneer!”  Haha! It’s difficult to concentrate with comedy of this caliber being committed within earshot, but I shall persevere.)

Amazing Adventurers Set Sail PDF Print E-mail
Written by D.J. Grothe   
Randi welcoming the Amazing Adventurers to the Isaac Asimov Library

Last night, we had a reception at the James Randi Educational Foundation for those folks who are joining us on the Amazing Adventure 5: Skeptics of the Caribbean, which sets sail today. We are off for a week of fun and skepticism, with around 100 of Randi's best friends, including JREF staff like Jeff Wagg, Bart Farkas, and Brandon Thorp, noted skeptics such as Tim Farley, Mark Edward, and Brian Dunning, and beloved members of the JREF community like Kitty Mervine and Naomi Baker. I am happy that my partner, Thomas Donnelly, is able to join us, despite his insanely busy law school schedule.

This is a really international group: one man flew in from Singapore, one flew in from Australia, several from the UK, one from Northern Ireland, and a number from Canada. And there are three folks from Greece attending as well. I think this is also a very young crowd, relative to many other skeptics gatherings I have attended. Most people coming on the cruise are in their 30s or 40s, with a few teenagers, and more than a dozen in their twenties. I like seeing how the worldview that prizes reason, science and humanism that has been advanced for decades by Randi is inspiring enough to younger people for them to spend their spring break in the company of their fellow skeptics.

One thing that struck me last night at the reception is that these people are not just organized around the things they don't believe in. Even as skeptics, they seem to believe, at least in each other: there was a palpable sense of community at the party. Everyone knew each others' stories, childrens' names, travails and triumphs of each others' lives. For many at the party it seemed like a family reunion. Even though there were a lot of new faces (one young man is going on the JREF cruise as a birthday present from his parents, and there are new JREF Forum members for whom this is their first in-person skeptical event, etc.), there was a surprising number of people for whom this Amazing Adventure is just one of many they have enjoyed: Don and Nancy Lacey, Adam Levenstein, Gail Knapp, Mel and Gerri Kirschner, and Susan Gerbic-Forsyth, for instance, have been on a number of these JREF vacations. David Craig has been on all of them, in fact. And these folks know how to have fun. As they say, "skeptics do it with their eyes open," and so we may just be opening some eyes on our latest Amazing Adventure into the known universe of Caribbean sunshine and good times.


Jeff Wagg instructs attendees on what to expect on the Amazing Adventure 5 (answer: swashbuckling)

A Brief Report On The Finances of The World-Controlling Atheist Cabal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt Chesser   

I recently had the pleasure of dealing with a very polite young woman who wanted to give me a flyer about a presentation by Eric Hovind, son of the more (in)famous Kent Hovind. A snippet of our conversation went something like this:

Me: Has this been experimentally demonstrated?
Her: Oh, yes.
Me: Can you give me the publication history where I can find this information?
Her: Actually, the atheist organizations don’t want us to publish it.

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