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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.

SAPS at TAM PDF Print E-mail
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.

Bats in the Bellfry PDF Print E-mail
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.

Flim-Flam in the UK? PDF Print E-mail
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].

Make Way for the Anti-Ghost-Whisperers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jennifer Ouelette   

oulette tamyspeaker At a symposium last November to launch the National Academy of Sciences' new program, the Science and Entertainment Exchange, host Seth McFarlane (The Family Guy) - perhaps Hollywood's most powerful atheist -bemoaned the dominance of "comic book spiritualism" in film and television in recent years.

"I grew up watching Star Trek and I remember we used to be so excited about NASA and what they were doing," he told a rapt audience of prominent scientists and leaders in the entertainment industry. "Now we have The Ghost Whisperer. I don't know why I chose to crap on that show specifically, but the point is that the realism is gone, and the believability is gone. We need to get people excited about science again."

McFarlane makes a valid point. But there are signs that the TV times, they are a-changin' - science and rational thinking are making a comeback on the airwaves, if a quick survey of the top TV shows of the last few years is any indication.

2.5 BILLION Spent on CAM Testing. Result? It Doesn't Work. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Right on the heels of my ChOPRAH article comes this article from MSNBC. $2.5B study on how "alternative medicine" shows virtually no effectiveness. A waste of money? Not necessarily.

From the article:

Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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