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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.

"Psychic" Rosemary Altea Scammed PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Sometimes you have to ask: what good is it being psychic? As I'm not psychic, I will probably never know the answer to that question, but being psychic apparently doesn't protect you from having your accountant run off with $200,000 of your "hard-earned" money. Such a fate has befallen self-proclaimed psychic Rosemary Altea, who was exposed on Penn & Teller's Bullshit! as having a stacked audience for her reading.

From the Rutland Herald article:

Denise Hall of East Arlington faces one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return after investigators with the U.S. Attorney's office say she stole money from self-proclaimed spiritual medium Rosemary Altea - using four credit cards to obtain cash advances, forging checks and giving herself unauthorized electronic paychecks all under Altea's name for the past seven years, according to court records.

So, for seven years, a bookkeeper was able to swindle money from Rosemary in ways that most of us would detect simply balancing our checkbooks.

Read more...
 
Book Review: Science Under Siege PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

tamyspeakerA new book has just come out that will be of interest to skeptics everywhere. Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience. Edited by Kendrick Frazier, it is a collection of some of the best writing from Skeptical Inquirer from the last few years:

Some of the gems it contains:

  • Carl Sagan’s last Q & A on science and skeptical inquiry.
  • A paean to the wonder and awe of real science by Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan.
  • An article explaining Ray Hyman’s Categorical Directive: “before we try to explain something, we should make sure it actually happened.”
  • John E. Jones, III’s eloquent decision in the Dover “Intelligent Design” case.
  • An article on AIDS denialism by Nicoli Nattrass, who is director of an AIDS research unit in South Africa and can testify to the incalculable harm denialism has caused her compatriots.
Read more...
 
SAPS at TAM PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

sapsstickersmallYou might’ve noticed that SAPS has, lately, fallen off the grid a little while I sat around contemplating the wisdom of being on a television show called Door to the Dead.

With The Amaz!ng Meeting coming so fast, though, I’ve been forced out of my funk and into participating in a big way.

SAPS is involved in a lot of events at TAM 7, and here are some of them, if you’d like to be involved too.

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Bats in the Bellfry PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

What is it with Baseball players? They're big, strong, well-paid... and yet some of them are afraid to sleep in a hotel alone.

No, I'm not making this up. Others sleep with a baseball bat by their side. Are they afraid of paparazzi? Jealous wives and girlfriends? No. They're afraid of ghosts.

WISN in Milwaukee reports that a local hotel, the newly remodeled Pfister, is scaring ballplayers from many visiting teams. You can check out their video report here.

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Flim-Flam in the UK? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

It just never stops. Otherwise intelligent people still turn to woo-woo to solve their problems. One of the latest is Simon Trussell, 41, of London, UK, a lovesick restaurant owner who was estranged from his lady friend Mary Pratt. He feverishly consulted Psychic TV, a Sky and Freeview channel in the UK serving mediums and spiritualists, and was given a phone number to call and speak with a "psychic" advisor, George Lavery, 42, who uses the professional name Simon Lavery. The con man assured his victim that all would be well after his awesome powers were unleashed. To begin, he told Trussell to purchase a cell phone which he said he would pass to his ex. This was done, and Trussell began receiving dozens of text messages on his own cell phone in which Mary asked for cash and gifts - to be sent through Lavery.

He naturally complied. Over the next eight months, Trussell, 41, handed over as much as £6,000 cash, £800 of naughty leather fetish gear, a sofa, and even a £6,000 engagement ring - a total of £12,800 [US$21,000].

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