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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.

Australian Mum Singlehandedly Defeats Sex Magnet Advertiser PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

Sandra Quincy writes from Australia to tell us about her successful anti-quackery activities "down under."

I thought that you might be interested in the success that I have had with getting a magnetic product removed from sale in Australia.  It all started when a Century Mail booklet fell out of my October 2008 Reader's Digest.  I looked at it out of curiosity and saw an ad for this little plastic case called the Sex Magnet.  It claimed to increase a man's libido and promote oxygen and blood flow if the man put it into his trouser pocket.  I was so angry at such a stupid claim that I wrote to the Australian Complaints Resolution Panel.  They investigate therapeutic goods.  They responded to my complaint and said that they would investigate the claim when they next met.  I got a reply last week.

 
The Skepticamp Bargain PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Reed Esau   

Were it not for three notable events that shared a common thread, it might have been an ordinary Saturday morning during the summer of 2007.

reedsci_fooThe first of these events occurred in California where some 200 invited attendees descended upon the Google campus to attend the second annual ‘Science Foo Camp,' a conference that draws together leading scientists and experts in technology and public policy from around the world. The format of SciFoo is unusual for lacking any predetermined agenda and being participant-driven where each attendee is expected to give a talk of some kind. Among those attending for the first time were two names familiar to skeptics, PZ Myers and James Randi.

 
Those Were the Days... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

No matter how much we write, lecture, or complain, it's easy to think that we've made little progress. Do you remember 1981? I do. I was as sophomore in High School, and I loved the occult. There was a little shop in Salem, MA where I grew up called Crow Haven Corner. It was run by the "Official Witch of Salem," Laurie Cabot. Yes, that Salem. I grew up near where the witches were hanged and attended Witchcraft Heights Elementary School.

They sold potions, amulets books, etc. It was the only shop of its kind in town, right across from the Witch House, which is the former home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges during the witch trials.

Fast forward nearly 30 years, and Salem has become witch and psychic mecca. Crow Haven Corner has moved to a bigger location, and faces competition from a dozen or more similar shops.

 
Woo In Review: Lost Time Travel Contest Finalists PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

WOO IN REVIEW: Lost Time Travel Contest Finalistsdeathfromtheskies

The Lost Time Travel Contest now closed for entries, but it's not over yet! Read over these three entries and vote in the comments (with words, not with the Vote Up/Vote Down button) for your favorite explanation of time travel. The winner of the contest will be announced at 12:00pm tomorrow, and that lucky individual will receive an autographed copy of Phil Plait's Death From the Skies!

ENTRY 1:

written by jpedigo, January 23, 2009
I'm going with option two: "If you believe that time travel is possible in reality, write a comment explaining how, why, under what circumstances, and what would be possible."

 
An unvaccinated child has died from a preventable disease PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

This story is so sad, and what makes it worse is that it was preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control has put out an alert: in Minnesota in 2008, there were five confirmed cases of Haemophilus influenzae type b (or Hib) among children younger than five years old. Of these five cases, three of the children were unvaccinated, one had started the series of vaccines but did not complete the series due to shortages, and the fifth -- who had been fully vaccinated -- had an immune deficiency.

Five cases may not sound like a lot... until you learn that one of the unvaccinated children died. This was a baby, just a seven-month-old infant.

 
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