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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.

Dan Aykroyd and His Conan Doyle Problem PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Ian Morris   

On May 28, 2009, The New York Times published an article on the new Ghostbusters video game. It looks fun: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/arts/31schi.html?th&emc=th.  However, this esteemed journalistic entity felt the need to spend its first few paragraphs discussing Dan Aykroyd’s “family’s supernatural bona fides” before moving along to the game itself.  As Alison Smith wrote a few months ago in SWIFT, Aykroyd is so devoted to woo-woo that he advertised a vodka based on the “thirteen crystal skulls” supposedly created in Atlantis (http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/368-woo-in-review-crystal-head-vodka.html).  His passion for woo-woo may be exacerbated by the fact that he has what I call a Conan Doyle problem.

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I Like Your Art, But Your Morals Suck PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Folks:

Yankee Tavern is a new play by a Texan named Steven Dietz, and it’s worth a few moments of skeptical appraisal. In it, a young couple in New York find themselves swept up in a vast, dangerous government conspiracy. Terrified and confused, they are also incredulous: they are reasonable people, and know that vast and dangerous government conspiracies do not exist. Nevertheless, the play ends with one of them disappearing en route to visit an old college professor — who may be a conspirator herself.

When I spoke to one of the show’s actors, I was informed that this is merely “one possible interpretation.” But I could find no other. It was plain to me that in the universe of the play, the government conspiracy was unambiguously real. Which would be fine if the conspiracy in question had nothing to do with 9/11. Unfortunately, Yankee Tavern is very much about 9/11.

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Good Advice PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

clAs always, this last Wednesday was the last-Wednesday-of-the-month Open House here at the JREF. We had a full attendance of the usual friends, visitors, merely curious, and undecided, some even from out of state, who drop by at 7 in the evening to exchange ideas and opinions. Following this last meeting, one of our regulars, Collin Leach, dropped me this note, which I thought you should see. Collin is a professional massage therapist who has studied many techniques of his trade, and has travelled all over the world for that purpose. He first showed up here years ago at our door to present a problem he'd encountered - that most of his teachers in various cultures insisted on having heavy woo-woo as part of their instructions; Collin was unable to merely ignore these fripperies, since in order to obtain certification in a therapy, he had to go along with the teachers. Since taking these techniques into his repertoire, he has been able to omit the woo-woo in his practice and get down to the valued procedures that he knows work so well.

Collin has worked his magic (did I just say that?) on my ailing frame, and the word exhilaration only begins to describe it...

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MEDICAL NEGLECT IS CHILD ABUSE! JOIN VICTIMS IN PROTEST!!! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Dr. Seth Asser spoke at TAM 3 about how religious beliefs can kill children through lack of vaccination. He's asked me to share this with you:

MEDICAL NEGLECT IS CHILD ABUSE! JOIN VICTIMS IN PROTEST!!!

June 8, 2009 from 11:30-4 PM

200 Mass Ave., Boston, Mary Baker Eddy Library & CS Church HQ

Imagine you are a 7-year-old child awakening in the night with sharp abdominal pains. Your parents arrive at your side, feel your fever and look concerned. Then they tell you not to worry, that it’s all in your head, and they will pray with you to correct your illusion of illness. The next day you’re much worse and a woman from your church comes to pray with you, too. But you can no longer, doubled-up in pain, vomiting, unable to eat, crying and screaming in pain. Rather than taking you to a hospital, your parents tell you to be quiet, that if you believed in your prayers then all would be well. After you slip into a coma, you die the next morning….of a ruptured appendix. Your brother and sister are told not to cry, that you have merely passed into the next plane of existence and this episode is not to be spoken of again.

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Kudos to Genie Scott, science leader! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

eugenie_ncseAt the JREF, we're pleased as punch to find out that National Center for Science Education executive director (and two-time TAM speaker) Genie Scott has been named by Scientific American as one of the leaders in science education today. This award, called the Scientific American 10, recognizes outstanding people "who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity."

On their page honoring her, they said:

Eugenie Scott has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates for keeping evolution an integral part of the curriculum in public schools in her role as head of the nonprofit National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

We at the JREF couldn't agree more. Genie, who spoke at TAMs 2 and 5, is a tireless defender of evolution and its teaching in the classroom. She and the NCSE have fought creationists in many states, and are in many ways responsible for keeping back the rising number of politicians trying to wedge religious teaching into the public school system.

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