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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.

A Brief Report On The Finances of The World-Controlling Atheist Cabal PDF Print E-mail
Swift
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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Martin Ssempa Spares Not The Rod PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sean Sturgeon   

Martin Ssempa is a pastor from Uganda and the force behind a bill that would cause a lot of homosexuals to become dead precisely and only because they are homosexuals. This hateful excuse for an argument says that privacy extends no further than god’s right hand — or more accurately, the influence of a pastor with dreams of being parochial and small-minded on a continental scale.

When the story hit the MSM, it caused problems for some American Evangelical Christians and their “Church First” method of nation building. Never known as enthusiastic supporters of the LGBT community, American Evangelicals still abandoned Ssempa — at a leisurely pace, and indignant about being expected to choose between a carried-away pastor and sodomites. Though historically uninterested in extending the right of privacy to same-sex sex, as a group they tend not to want to kill people over it.

With his American backers gone, Ssempa’s fortunes seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. Like so many of us, the Pastor found respite in the arms of pornography.

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Bidding Farewell to a Colleague PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by D.J. Grothe   
lindaflowers
Linda accepts flowers which were a small sign of gratitude for her help with The Amaz!ng Meeting. Her husband Karl Shallenberger, a longtime JREF volunteer and advisor, stands to the left.

It is with both sadness and a warm heart that I'm announcing a member of the James Randi Educational Foundation's team has left the organization. A few days ago, Linda Shallenberger retired. She had been wanting to retire for many years, and recently felt it was the right time. Although I had only worked with her directly for four short months, I came to see in her what everyone else close to her saw: diligence, duty, and above all, a sense of devotion to what the foundation stands for, and to Randi himself.

Linda had been with the the JREF nearly since its beginning. Over the years, she helped organize the Amazing Meetings, managed our office in Ft. Lauderdale, handled HR and payroll and the accounting and finances, tracked and fulfilled merchandise orders, in addition to serving as our one-woman fundraising and development department. She consistently went "above and beyond," often doing more work than was required merely to get the job done. And for many skeptics at the grassroots, Linda is their point of contact at the JREF.

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A Week With Joe Nickell PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Christina Stephens   

 

The JREF is proud to have begun a fellowship and learning program with the Center for Inquiry, the first of which is recounted below by Christina Stephens, the first participant in the program. Additional arrangements with other organizations are being explored, as well. Check back at randi.org in the months ahead for more opportunities for similar week-long study in paranormal investigation and skeptical inquiry.

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a week getting to know all of the amazing and talented people at the Center for Inquiry in Buffalo, New York. I spent most of my time with Joe Nickell, working on various skeptical investigation projects and picking his brain for information on the ethics and process of skeptical investigations. I would like to thank Joe Nickell, the James Randi Educational Foundation and the Center For Inquiry for an enlightening and educational experience.

I consider myself an academic researcher. When I do research, it takes this form: Ask a question. Do an extensive literature review. Ask more questions. Make a hypothesis. Write an experimental protocol. Conduct an experiment with many subjects. Report on the results. This type of research is somewhat different from that of Joe Nickell, who, in common with James Randi, is a full time professional paranormal investigator. Rather than attempting to find a mystery, Joe’s detective work is geared toward solving mysteries.

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Touched! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Penn Bullock   

In the 1980s, Jean Baudrillard, an obtuse but occasionally lucid postmodernist, wrote a book called America in which he noted some eerie goings-on. “This is a culture,” he wrote with alarm, “which sets up specialized institutes so that people’s bodies can come together and touch.” I remembered Baudrillard’s remark as I toured the Touch Research Institute in Miami, with its goal of eradicating strife and sickness globally.

For an organization that intends to save the world through massage, its facilities are small. Headquartered in a building on the University of Miami’s School of Medicine campus, the Institute occupies a single tiny office crammed with mazy grey cubicles. I went there for a tour. Tiffany Field, the head of the Institute, greeted me at the door wearing a lab coat and a warm smile. She looked to be in her 50s, but wouldn’t disclose her age. She had long brown hair down her back, deeply tanned skin, and thick racetracks of eyeliner around her eyes.

The Touch Research Institute was founded in 1992 on the whimsy of the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, Jim Burke. At the time, he sat on the board of 30 other corporations, a feat worthy of titans like JP Morgan and John Rockefeller. But he was no heartless, top-hatted capitalist. In fact, he had a bizarre and heartwarming utopian vision: to “cure the world of war and disease” through touch.

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