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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.

A Sea Monster is Born PDF Print E-mail
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.

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

The following is an open letter to Harpers' Magazine.


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.

Wait, What? PDF Print E-mail
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.

Woo-Woo Salad PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

What would you call it if you combined dowsing, energy healing, feng shui and spirit cleansing all in one practice? Well, you'd call it Crossroads Consulting of course. It seems that practitioner Jodie Harvala can "dowse your space" and "improve your success" with a wave of her copper wand. She can also give you design advice, and if you're interested, she can provide reiki treatment too.

Ahh, where to begin...

Gypsy Bad Fortune PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

A Maryland man who refers to himself as a Gypsy is claiming discrimination in the case of a Bethesda, Maryland law that forbids "foretelling the future." And.. the ACLU is on his side.

He claims that as a Gypsy, it's his historical heritage to open a fortune telling business, and that it's only because of the desire to drive Gypsies away that the law was put in place.

After you read the article, you may notice that most of the comments are in favor of the ban being overturned. And I'm in agreement.

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