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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.

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

WOO IN REVIEW: Criminal Profiling Contest

After reviewing the television show Criminal Minds, I was surprised to discover how many people do not believe that criminal profiling has a value to criminal investigation better than, say, psychic detectives.

According to research conducted in the early 1990's, out of 192 cases where profilers had been called in as investigation support, only 88 were ever solved, and only 17% of that number were cases where criminal profiling was deemed a helpful element of the investigation.profiler1

It's important to remember, when examining that statistic, that criminal profilers aren't called in often, and only are when other investigation methods (such as forensics) have failed. The crimes investigated are hard to solve – harder than most.

There is also a misconception that profiles are intended to be used as evidence, or to directly lead to an arrest.

This isn't the case. Criminal profiling can be used, however, to eliminate suspects from a pool. And in order to review criminal profiling on the whole, I've designed a case of serial murder for you to participate in.

Signals Disappoints PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

reflexologyboardSignals, the catalog that supports public television in the US, has let us down again. This time, they're pushing the Reflexology board:

A centuries-old healing art, reflexology reduces stress, boosts energy, and benefits your whole body from head to toe. The reflexology board is an important tool of Eastern acupressure medicine. Wooden nodes stimulate pressure points and enhance circulation.

Let's take this one at a time.

The Church Almost Answers — I Mean, You Know, Like... PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
davisOn Thursday, January 8th, Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology International [COS], appeared on the NBC Today show to respond to questions about the possible COS influence on actor John Travolta's actions re the recent tragic death of his 16-year-old son, Jett. NBC interviewer Ann Curry asked Davis whether the Church approved of the use of "medicine prescribed by a doctor," to which Davis answered:

Absolutely, Ann. When - whenever you're dealing with any kind of physical condition - I mean - this - this isn't the kind of thing that's - that's even an option, I mean, this is - this is, mandatory, ah, ah, you know - you have some sort of physical condition diagnosed by a medical doctor and that doctor is prescribing the medication, the person is going to take it, I mean, just - just, like anybody else would. Dealing with a physical condition, you're going to do that.

Please note that Davis used the specific expression "physical condition" in this answer, three times. He had evidently been coached to emphasize that the COS - following their founder L. Ron Hubbard's confusing view of how the universe works - accepts medical intervention in "physical" problems. As for whether they were equally willing to discuss psychological or emotional situations, Davis was prepared to waffle and dodge, and he did. Examine the following section of the transcript and decide for yourself.

Glastonbury WiFi: Orgone is the Cure PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

JREFer TheTurtleMoves informs us that some citizens in Glastonbury, England are complaining that the new experimental city-wide WiFi network is causing dizziness, nausea, and lack of creativity. I have to agree with the last part... there's certainly nothing "creative" about claiming that a relatively new technology is full of doom and gloom.

So what to do? Combat it with orgone of course. This Telegraph UK article has most of the story, but not all of it. (As a side – I wonder what protests went on when the telegraph was introduced.)

Vroom, Vroooom! PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

punkReader Matthew Kleckner sends us to this site to see a frightening item about superstition in Nigeria. He writes:

Motorcyclists sometimes get upset by laws requiring them to wear helmets, but in Nigeria people have gone off the deep end. According to an article on the BBC website, passengers fear:

...that the helmets could be used by motorcyclists to cast spells on their clients, making it easy for them to be robbed.  "Some people can put juju inside the helmets and when they are worn the victim can either lose consciousness or be struck dumb," passenger Kolawole Aremu told the Daily Trust newspaper.

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