The Amazing Meeting 2014

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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.

Tweet the Dead PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

It was only a matter of time. Yes folks, you can now tweet the dead, using Twitter, the micro-blog messaging tool that seems to be on everyone's desktop and cell phone these days. Twitter works like this: you send a message of 140 characters or less, and those people who are subscribed to your "tweets" will see it. You can subscribe to anyone who tweets, and many celebrities use the service to communicate with their fans. Now, thanks to department store psychic Jayne Wallace, you can tweet the dead. And they'll answer.

Copper and Magnetic Bracelets Useless PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

(Note: an earlier article on this topic has been replaced with this one.)

FLASH! Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps are useless for relieving pain in people with arthritis, say University of York researchers! In what they claim was the first tightly controlled trial to look at both alternative therapies, they discovered there was no benefit to their use for pain or stiffness. Though this, to me, is equivalent to announcing that the Titanic has struck an iceberg, I congratulate the York researchers on their bravery in confronting and arousing the ire of the millions - literally - all over the globe who wouldn't be caught without their precious - $40 to $100 - ornaments. Though we wish the data pool had been larger - it was 45 patients - at least it was conducted. The York savants tested a copper bracelet, two different magnetic wrist straps, and a demagnetized version.

Challenging Challenges PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

If you're reading this, you are aware of the James Randi Educational Foundation's $1,000,000 psychic challenge. This is the real deal. We have the money in a Goldman Sachs account, we WILL pay if someone wins a test that they design with us, and we do test people. A lot of people dispute those facts, but they simply can't—we've demonstrated them time after time.

Some individuals think it's a simple thing to conduct a challenge, and they've concocted their own home-brew versions. As a fun diversion, I'm going to present two of them to you.

Two Things You Can Do to Fight Woo - Right Now PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Here are two quick things you can do to fight the popularity of two different forms of non-scientific "medical treatment."

In the US, it's hardly news that the government is looking into universal health care. And while this enormous issue is beyond the scope of things that we cover in Swift, there is something you should be aware of. Stephen Barrett of sent us this:

Reported versions of the House and Senate health reform bills contain language that would mandate coverage of services (prayer) by Christian Science practitioners.

Global Warming - Again PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Global warming, or as it's more accurately known, global climate change, is one of the most divisive issues in skepticism. I was reminded of this recently when I gave a talk for Phoenix Skeptics. In the friendly chatter afterward, someone asked what I thought of the films An Inconvenient Truth and its counter, The Great Global Warming Swindle. As it turns out, I had watched An Inconvenient Truth on the airplane to Arizona, and I found it to be as I expected—too much Al Gore, and too little science. It was interesting, but it didn't convince me, and I know it left out some important pieces of data. As for the The Great Global Warming Swindle, I had not seen it (I've watched parts since), but I recommended that the group watch it.

One attendee was displeased with this. "It would be like watching Loose Change or Expelled!" And I agreed, it could be like that.

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