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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.

An Interesting Exchange PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Updated at the bottom - MaryEllen posts a response

The JREF forum, found at forums.randi.org, has a long history of... well... everything. It's the busiest board on the Internet for skeptics, and at times things get heated. In an attempt to keep things on an approximately even keel, we have a set of rules which are listed here. Every member must read these rules before joining the forum. Some folks can't seem to do this. Most of the times these things are handled matter-of-factly, however I've decided to share this particular series of communications with you, as it illustrates a common mindset that we deal with frequently.

I was at the JREF headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, FL when I received a call from one Eddie Benitez. He informed that he had been banned from the forum, and that he'd like an explanation. I had never heard of Mr. Benitez, and when I informed him of this fact, he seemed amazed as he apparently considered himself to be famous. He told me that his Google presence was far superior to mine, and though that's likely true, I didn't see the relevance.

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Strange Animal Sighting Confirmed! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

bionicbigfootRecently, a mountain lion was sighted in a wooded area of Kansas. More importantly, it was photographed, and those photos have been authenticated. We can now say that there are mountain lions in Kansas for the first time since 1909.

The Wichita Eagle's report is very interesting, and it tells us a lot about bigfoot sightings. Like bigfoot, there are a number of sightings each year. Also like bigfoot, most of the pictures taken are blurry and inconclusive. So, given that sightings of a real animal bear so much in common with bigfoot sightings, does this lend credence to the theory that there are hairy hominids wandering the Pacific Northwest?

Well, yes, but that's only because many hunters eschew shaving rituals during deer camp.

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Delusions About Dilutions Never Cease PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

In "Challenging Challenges" (Swift, Oct 17), Jeff Wagg posted a video with weird sounds and the voice of John Benneth, who is challenging Randi's Million Dollar Challenge. I recently had an e-mail exchange with Benneth that was very illuminating.

A former unsuccessful applicant for the MDC, he is considering re-applying.  He thinks he can distinguish between water and homeopathic remedies. He believes a recent study by Montagnier et al. supports homeopathy, and he wants to perform a variant of the same experiment. He is not alone in praising the Montagnier study: homeopaths are touting it as proof that homeopathy works.

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Tweet the Dead PDF Print E-mail
Swift
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.

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Copper and Magnetic Bracelets Useless PDF Print E-mail
Swift
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.

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