The Amazing Meeting 2014

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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.

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.

 
Some Minor Science News PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Today, we learn that IBM has a new product. It's no big deal... just an MRI that has 100 million times the resolution of the ones we use today. Wait... let me type that out completley... 100,000,000 times the resolution. That a 4 nanometer resolution, which is more than enough to see a single virus particle.

The IBM MRFM uses a magnetic sensor tip which picks up on the minute magnetic forces of hydrogen atoms in the sample, called a resonant slice. The slice sits beneath a tiny silicon cantilever which vibrates in the presence of minute magnetic fields. Vibrations are tracked by a laser interferometer, recording 3D details of whatever's at that location. Image courtesy of IBM.

 
Striking a Happy Medium PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

While making the rounds of the news sources, I came across this straightforward article from the Trinidad & Tobago Express. Tony Deyal, a Caribbean journalist, discusses perhaps the most famous "hit" in all of psychic prophecy:

Parade magazine in 1956 quoted Dixon as predicting: "As for the 1960 election Mrs. Dixon thinks it will be dominated by labour and won by a Democrat. But he will be assassinated or die in office though not necessarily in his first term."

What was not said is that Dixon actually predicted that John F. Kennedy would fail to win the presidency and that Richard Nixon would be victorious.

 
WOO IN REVIEW: Criminal Profiling Contest Results PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

WOO IN REVIEW: Criminal Profiling Contest Results


The Criminal Profiling Contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated. It was interesting to write the contest, and interesting to read your analyses.

I'll let everyone know who the winners are momentarily, but first I wanted to take another look at criminal profiling, and also some of the comments to the contest.tedbundy4

Firstly, I would no more “stop promoting” criminal profiling (even if it was totally false) than I would “stop promoting” ghost hunters, psychics, or mediums – because the only way I could possibly take a call to stop promoting such a thing would be to not mention the thing at all. And, as a critical thinker, that concept seems silly to me. If you are a critical thinker, it should seem silly to you, too.

For the record, I do not have enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not criminal profiling is an effective tool in investigations. I have a single set of statistics from the early 1990's and nothing more. If someone has another study, or anything beyond isolated information, I'd be happy to read it and become more informed on the topic. Please feel free to either leave a link in the comments or e-mail one to me at alison@randi.org.

 
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