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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.

Ray Versus The Universe PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sean Sturgeon   

Twenty five hundred years ago, the Chinese tactician Sun Tzu was a busy guy. He has a lot more free time now, but it was crazy back in the day. When not jotting poems about his kitties onto bamboo strips and ribbing Confucius for being "too preachy," Sun Tzu managed to churn out his masterpiece The Art of War. That book contains the following axiom:

Know your enemy and know yourself, and win a hundred battles without a single loss.

 

At least I assume that's what it contains. I've never even been able to get beyond the second chapter (that's the one on Bo Staff maintenance) without nodding off. Honestly, I only even remember the line because it was in an episode of Star Trek. But whether it's a military genius or one of the few actors to share the screen with both Captain Picard and Matlock, it's still good advice.

Good advice should be followed and not ignored. Yes Ray Comfort, I'm looking at you.

Read more...
 
A Direct, Specific, Challenge From James Randi and the JREF PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

NOTE: This notice first appeared in Oct, 2008, but given recent events in Iraq, we've decided to show it again. - Jeff Wagg

This notice is directed to Cumberland Industries, UK. The ADE651® device, a totally fraudulent product, is advertised as described ahead, by Cumberland Industries, who we have contacted at

Cumberland Industries UK LTD
11 Murray Street
Camden
London
NW1 9RE, UK

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When Antiscience Kills: Dowsing for Bombs PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

We at the JREF are no fans of pseudoscience, as you may imagine. Dowsing is a practice that falls squarely in that field. It's the idea that you can detect an object -- usually water, but sometimes gold, or people, or whatever -- using a y-shaped branch, or copper tubes, or some other simple device. Dowsers never really have a good explanation of how their devices work, but they tend to claim 100% accuracy.

However, the JREF has tested dowsers many, many times as part of our Million Dollar Challenge. Not to keep you in suspense, but the money still sits in the bank. In other words, time and again, the dowsers fail. When a real, double-blind, statistical test is given, dowsers fail. Every single time.

That's all well and good, and you might think it's just another silly idea that nonsense-believers adhere to despite evidence. If someone wants to waste their money on a dowser, well, caveat emptor.

But what if your life depended on it? What if thousands of lives depended on it?

Read more...
 
Miracle or Child Abuse? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

In Russia, thousands of Muslims are flocking to see a baby who has verses from the Koran mysteriously appearing on his body:

I'd like to be very clear here: this is not pareidolia, our ability to see patterns in random objects. The verses are clearly there, and not just random. As one pilgrim said, "It's proof that Allah exists, that he is all-mighty..."

koranbabyHowever -- and perhaps this is just me here -- it seems far more likely that instead of an actual miracle, someone is maybe, y'know, writing the verses on the baby. The mother says the baby is cranky when the words appear, which (if she's being truthful) you might expect if someone is scraping or otherwise irritating the baby's skin to make the words appear. I'll note that the words fade with time, too, just as expected if this is a fraud.

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SWIFT Seeks Writers, Wisdom, Gripes PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

In the coming weeks, we’re going to try giving Swift a serious overhaul. We’d like to see our frontpage brimming with original reportage, controversial commentary, intelligent critiques of critical thought (or its conspicuous absence) in popular media, profiles of skeptics and woo-woos, book reviews, and thought-provoking essays.

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