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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.

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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But Wait! There's More! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

vince4You've seen your share of informercials: over-the-top claims, annoying announcers, and products that seem miraculous. Why do I know the name "Billy Mays"? Do I care who's pitching this stuff?

Anyway... what if skepticism was sold the same way? What if you turned on the History Channel at 4am, and found a pitchman selling critical thinking, science, and skepticism?

No, I don't think it will ever happen either, but the folks at Action Skeptic decided to play with the idea in their 111th Skeptics Circle.

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Magic From Russia - How'd He Do That? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

We received an inquiry on the forum from Dmitry:

Looks like circus magic to me. Can you have your staff take a look at it and drop me a short message as to how it's done?

In this video from Russia, we see a man waving his claw-like hand, chanting, and burning things with no obvious explanation.

Why not turn this into a group activity? Watch the video (which is over 30 minutes long - well suited to fast forwarding) and consider how this man might be accomplishing this feat. I do not speak Russian, so I don't know what he's saying, but as I imagine what he's saying is misdirection, this is actually to my advantage.

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