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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.

Crocopetard PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Martin A. Lessem, J.D.   

For the past few years, anyone who has been following the Creation vs. Evolution debate has come across the comment by Kirk Cameron, made on the The O'Reilly Factor, that there are no "transitional forms." His exact quote, which demonstrates his general misinformedness as to how evolution actually works, was:

"Plus, Darwin said in order to prove evolution, which is the number one alternative to God, you gotta be able to prove transitional forms. One animal transitioning into another, and all through the fossil record and life we don't find one of these. A croco-duck. There's just nothing like it. There is no one animal transitioning into another"

Not so fast, Cameron. The croco-duck has been found.

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The Sheldrake Kerfluffle PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

A week and a half ago, we published a request for information regarding some quotes attributed to James Randi in a letter sent to Skeptic. (That's the English one, edited by Chris French, rather than Michael Shermer's American publication.) The letter was from Rupert Sheldrake, the éminence grise of "morphic fields" and psychic canines, and it's scheduled for publication in Skeptic's next issue. Thanks to a handful of good friends with impeccable record-keeping habits, we now have Sheldrake's infamous source document in our possession. The quote in question:

Becoming an expert is a pretty simple procedure; tell people you're an expert. After you do that, all you have to do is maintain appearances and not give them a reason to believe you're not.

The quote was culled from a handout distributed at a seminar at The Amaz!ng Meeting 3, entitled "Communicating Skepticism to the Public." It's accurate, as far as that goes. But Randi didn't write it.

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The Naked Emperor PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Hank Schlinger, Ph.D.   

(Author's Note: After sending an email to a CNN reporter about his story on Rom Houben, the Belgian man who was misdiagnosed as being in a coma for 23 years and who is now able to communicate about his experience via Facilitated Communication, I was contacted by someone from Campbell Brown about a possible appearance on the show to talk about why we should doubt the validity of the communications.

It turns out that they did not use me, and instead interviewed neuropsychologist Joseph Giacino, who they also interviewed the week before when the story first broke. After watching the segment, I penned the following, which I have slightly modified for Swift.)

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Fake Doctors With Real Drugs: The News From Canada PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Thoms   

Dear Swift Friends:

My name is Steve Thoms and I'm the editor of the new pan-Canadian skeptic blog, Skeptic North. Thanks to some friendly promotional assistance from Phil Plait, Skepchick.org and many other sites to whom our team owes a debt of gratitude, you may have heard of us by now. If not, that's okay, because we've only launched on October 1st. We're a team of skeptical writers, professionals and activists from across Canada, brought together in one place for the first time. Our aim is to be the authority of all things related to skepticism in Canada, and it is with this last point in mind that I come to you all with an urgent call for action and assistance.

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This Cruel Farce Has To Stop! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Update!

For those who may need further evidence for my contention, the proof can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ye9d9lp -- where it is clearly seen that the “facilitator” is looking directly at the keyboard, while the subject is asleep! There can be no further doubt.  This FC claim is simply untrue, a farce, a lie – and the “facilitator” knows it! And no, this man is not going to write a book, but the "facilitator" is, and if this humbug is not stopped, she'll make a fortune doing so. Put a stop to this, someone!"

But who will see that the caretakers for this unfortunate man are corrected and made to answer for this situation?

Original article:

I'm enraged. Several perceptive persons have sent me to msnbc.com - where we can see Dr. Nancy Snyderman relating a story.  It's a heartrender, described thus by Dr. Snyderman:

A mother [in Belgium] says her son has emerged from what doctors thought was a vegetative state to say he was fully conscious for 23 years but could not respond because he was paralyzed.

No, that is not what the man said, Dr. Snyderman. That's what an incompetent layperson typed for him! I ask you to first go to http://tinyurl.com/y8lku48, and note the section of the video from 12 to 35 seconds, then come back here.

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