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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.

Waldorf Salad: Biodynamic Farming PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Travis Roy   

I recently happened to catch a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth, entitled "Biodynamics: The Next Green Wine." The nearly nine minute segment focused on what biodynamics is, why it is being used in the wine industry, what sets it apart from organic and, of course, how it affects the products.

Biodynamic farming was introduced by Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf schools) in 1924 in response to farmers complaints about degraded soil conditions and health of crops and livestock due to the use of chemical fertilizers. It capitalizes on one of the biggest misconceptions about organic farming, namely that farming organically forgoes chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

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My Admittedly Acerbic Observation... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

rat-zingerThe former Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI - now claims that atheism is responsible for the destruction of the environment. In a speech at the Vatican on Wednesday, wearing his nice dress and funny hat, Ratzinger asked his spellbound audience:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the "final authority," and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

In answer to your question: No, Joe, it is not true. You are deluded, in this as in so much of what you think and say.

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A Sea Monster is Born PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Barbara Mervine   

118The Lake Franklin Pierce alligator is a myth in the making.  Today, just a joke but tomorrow and for generations to come, a lake monster!  How does a lake monster myth start?  In this case, most of us that live on Lake Franklin Pierce in Antrim New Hampshire found out about our alligator when we read the headline in the local free newspaper,  "The Villager". The June 11,2009 edition got our attention with the headline, "Possible Alligator Spied in Pierce Lake".

The article went on to tell the tale of Ray and Richard Grimard.  They were fishing from the deck of the local hydro electric plant when they spotted an alligator.  Despite the doubts of Dave Walsh a Fish and Game Conservation Officer, the rumor of an alligator in "our" lake spread like wildfire in the lake community.  I can see the hydro plant from the dock of my lake cabin.  I often see Ray and Richard and others fishing from the deck of the plant.  It should be noted the "plant" is a small white building that appears to have seen better days.  It's about the size of a trailer home.  I usually kayak by and often wave at the guys fishing.

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Dehumanized! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

The following is an open letter to Harpers' Magazine.

Greetings:

I am writing with regard to Mark Slouka's article, "Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school." (Subscription required) The story is marvelously written, extremely prescient, and, I'm afraid, quite dangerous.

Slouka's idea is that American education has ceased to create citizens, and instead has set about creating a generation of market-ready employees possessing little capacity for critical thought. Bravo, Mr. Slouka - take ‘em to school, as it were. But Slouka's conclusion - that a de-emphasis of the humanities and an over-emphasis on "mathandscience" are the culprits - is most assuredly counter-productive. At best, Slouka has been the victim of dodgy editing. At worst, he is shitting on those who could and should be his staunchest allies.

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Wait, What? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

creationofstarwarsI've recently been kicking around an idea for an article on the religious beliefs of the American populace. Not an entry to a scientific journal, not a widespread study, but a trek into Tourist Las Vegas to have a look around, get some face time with random people, and see what kind of beliefs are out there. Las Vegas seemed the perfect place to undertake such a task. It's big. There are always a lot of people, and those people are from all over the world.

And I admit, this was kind of selfish on my part. Lately, I've been struggling with the idea of religion - specifically, whether or not to call out stupid when one sees it. Not to say that all religious beliefs are stupid - the point of the article was to go out and see - because I have no idea whether or not religion is stupid. A lot of it sounds stupid to me, but maybe, in actuality, the Jesus folk just consistently talk over my head.

You might think that I was shooting low with Vegas - that all of the people I talked to would inherently be idiots for one reason or another. I mean, Vegas does serve alcohol twenty-four hours a day.

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