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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.

These Should Be in Your Mailbox PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

As many of you know, I recently spoke at Dragon*Con, which was an absolute blast. Dragon*Con's crowd is a bit different than what you'd encounter at TAM or any of the other skeptics conferences in that the people there aren't necessarily skeptics. This leads to questions like... "Where can I learn more about skepticism?" That's a larger topic than this article will allow, but I CAN tell you what should be in your mailbox.

There are several excellent publications out there. I consider these "must read" material.

Read more...
 
What Should We Do? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

We encounter many interesting people in the course of our daily dealings with the JREF $1,000,000 Challenge applicants. Many folks are sincere and believe they truly have a paranormal or supernatural ability that they can demonstrate to us. Of these, some are simply mistaken. Dowsing, the most common claim, can easily fool average people into believing in the paranormal, and though we can completely explain what's happening, they find it hard to let go of that "special" feeling.

But then there are people like "Herc."

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Details, Detectives and Drama PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Matt Chesser   

a brief analysis of criminological psychic predictions

Psychics as a whole seem to exhibit an almost parasitic attraction to spectacle - the more strange, outrageous, horrific or violent some event is, the more likely that some psychic will invariably allege gross incompetence and negligence upon the parts of those charged with preventing such disasters by claiming that they predicted the event far in advance and, undoubtedly, will wistfully decry on a time-lost web page "If only I was believed!" This has always galled me - as a criminology student, I like to think I am better informed about police and investigative methodology than most, and seeing the sheer amount of time and effort put into crime prevention laughed at is exceptionally aggravating, not to mention offensive.

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Thoughts on the Passing of a Hero PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

norman_borlaugIt's gratifying to see the name of a real hero grace the headlines of the papers today. Norman Borlaug was 95 when he died in Dallas this Sunday. Not familiar with that name? I'll admit that I wasn't either. But I was familiar with the man who developed plants that saved an estimated 1,000,000,000 lives. No, that's not a typo - that is one billion (American usage).

Borlaug's passing gives us time to reflect on a man who used science and technology to improve the world. In fact, the Wall Street Journal article claims that because of his advances, all hunger in the world today is the result of political disasters, not natural ones.

Borlaug's dwarf wheat crop, known as triticale, was responsible for a mutli-fold yield increase. Star Trek fans will recognize the name "triticale" from an episode featuring "tribbles" - it's what they were feeding on.

Borlaug also helped create so-called "Golden Rice" which contained beta carotene, - an essential nutrient often lacking in the diets of the impoverished.

So here we have a man that used science to do incredible things. He won the Nobel prize, and demonstrated once again that a thoughtful man can do more than all the prayer in the world. I dare say that no one else in the history of mankind has ever saved as many lives. I would call him a super hero.

And yet I'm a bit bothered by something I saw on Twitter.

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Remembering Uri PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Remember Uri Geller? It seems that new generations have no idea who he was, or what a "mystifier" is. Actually, I don't think anyone knows what a "mystifier" is...

So while Uri's star may be setting below the horizon, it's actually important to remember him because his story teaches us lessons. One man can fool millions into believing he has supernatural powers, unless he's tested under controlled conditions. And when a man refuses to be tested under proper conditions, well, that can tell us something too.

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