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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.

Understanding What Science Is PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

The United States is a funny place, full of self-contradictions. We know that science education is getting slammed, and has been for years. Yet in surveys (admittedly from a few years back) we also know that people love science news, and want to hear more about it. Many people understand that science has a big impact on their lives, but have a limited understanding of how science works, or even what it is.

And, of course, the past few years we've seen an unprecedented attack on it, both from government and from self-styled "think tanks" where thinking appears to be the last thing on their minds.

 
WOO IN REVIEW: CSI - One to Go PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

WOO IN REVIEW: CSI – One to Go
(CBS)


I have held off on berating CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for quite some time, mostly because it, at the very least, promotes science and the evidence obtained from scientific practices as the best way to solve crimes. Whether or not they were totally accurate in their views on science was inconsequential – the CSI writers went forth armed with fingerprintingcsiopentitle kits and computer displays that for some reason show an image of every single fingerprint in the entire database when matching a comparison, running the CPU so hard that the computer itself would, quite possibly, burst into flames, leading the CSIs to wonder if they had a case of arson on their hands and take fingerprints and feed them into a computer and... well, you see what I'm saying here. It's weird that every computer in CSI has not already been reduced to charred rubble.

And CSI has taken a few hard hits in the past couple of seasons. Sara Sidle, my least favorite character, did not die horribly at the hands of The Miniature Killer, who turned out to be incredibly lame. Gary Dourdan, who played Warrick Brown, was caught with a veritable pharmacy of illegal drugs leading to his character's untimely death. They introduced the character Riley Adams to re-up the annoyance gap that Sara Sidle's departure left. 

 
Obama's "New Energy" Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

obamaforceSwift reader and Amaz!ng Adventure 2 traveller Chas. Hogue brings this item from Debra Duneier, President of Living Home By Debra to our attention. It seems President Obama has another "energy" crisis on his hands:

New President, New Energy

Feng Shui Recommendations for the White House in 2009

We have entered into a season in our history of much needed change. The year 2009 may be the time to consider changes that are obvious to us and those that are esoteric.  In the Western world our way of life is based on accumulating and qualifying data and then analyzing this information to find trends, norms and averages. These are generally studied as a series of unconnected phenomena. Feng Shui and energy practices, have been main stream (sic) in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. The Eastern philosophy is based on the perception that nature is an unending  and a continuous stream of movements that are connected to one another.

 
News Flash From Woo-Woo Land PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

smokenotAt tinyurl.com/7f73qe you'll see the startling statement that 57 thousand people stopped smoking after seeing Uri on TV in Germany! Wow! And, I mean, wow! Because how they determined that figure - that alone - is just incredible! Did all those folks write in, or telephone, e-mail, or send ESP signals? And if they didn't wait a couple of months, how could they possibly know whether they'd really quit? Did they take up nail-biting, crying uncontrollably, stammering, making contributions to Nigerian scammers, or heavy face-twitching, to replace the nicotine?  Inquiring minds want to know...

 
UFOs Learn a New Trick: Ice Circles PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

icecircleWe're all familiar and bored with crop circles now that they've been explained as being easily created by a couple of pieces of rope and a board. However, those who cling to the UFO theory of their generation have latched on to something new... water or ice circles. This phenomenon has been observed in cold waterways in the United States and elswhere, but one was recently spotted in the UK, home to the most famous crop circles.

The UFO crowd assumes the term "unexplained" to be synonymous with "unexplainable," so of course aliens must have made them. From the Times Online article:

The cause of the rare phenomenon is unclear, with very little scientific evidence available to explain the formation of the discs. UFO-enthusiasts claim that, like crop circles, the perfect discs are created by visiting aliens, but scientists believe the extreme cold weather combined with an unusual current is the more likely reason.

 
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