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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.

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

Correcting the scope of practice of advanced practice nurses will not endanger patients (David Gorski)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/expanding-the-scope-of-practice-of-advanced-practice-nurses-does-not-endanger-patients/ Nurse practitioners receive advanced training in specific areas that prepares them for a limited scope of practice. State and federal laws vary: in some jurisdictions NPs are allowed to practice independently; elsewhere they must be supervised by physicians. Medical societies that oppose legislation to define and increase the scope of NPs are motivated by turf protection, not evidence. Studies show that NPs provide quality care.

Announcing the Society for Science-Based Medicine (Mark Crislip)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/announcing-the-society-for-science-based-medicine/ A new organization aims to create a community of like-minded individuals, both in and out of health care, who support the goals of Science-Based Medicine. You can register and/or join now at  http://sfsbm.org/ Goals include education and consumer protection. An SSBM wiki  http://sfsbm.org/wiki2/index.php?title=Main_Page will serve as a central source of information, incorporating the content of Quackwatch. Future plans include conferences, podcasts, curricula, a journal, e-books, and advocacy efforts.

Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s (Harriet Hall)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/vitamin-e-for-alzheimers/ A randomized controlled study showed that giving high-dose vitamin E to Alzheimer’s patients slowed functional decline when given alone, but not when given in combination with the drug memantine. The effect was modest, and there was no effect on the disease process itself. In this study Vitamin E appeared to decrease mortality, but earlier studies showed increased mortality. Several unanswered questions remain, and it would be premature to incorporate vitamin E into routine clinical practice.

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Shocker – Skeptics and Believers Think Differently PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steve Novella   

This is actually interesting research, but I do feel that too much is made of the fact that we see differences in brain activity when different groups react differently to stimuli. Everything you think and feel are networks firing in the brain. When research looking at the patterns of brain activity is reported, however, it often makes it sound like it’s surprising that such differences are “in the brain,” as if this makes the differences more biological or fundamental.

In any case, what this recent study looked at was 23 volunteers (12 believers and 11 skeptics) who were separated into their respective groups by a questionnaire – do you think that psychics can predict the future, etc. They “first imagined themselves in critical life situations (e.g. problems in intimate relationships) and then watched emotionally charged pictures of lifeless objects and scenery (e.g. two red cherries bound together).”

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Man Doesn't Bite Dog PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

So it turns out the predictions made by professional psychics of events they expected to occur in 2013 were substantially wrong.

Or in other words: dog bites man!

The Internet makes it even easier these days to track these dolts and their fact-free babblings. Here’s a link at about.com that records for posterity the “Psychic Predictions 2013” of psychics Lamont Hamilton, Vicki Monroe, Psychic Nikki, Sidney Friedman, Judy Hevenly (Get it? Better than a stripper named Debbie Takitoff.), Blair Robertson, Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker, and The Amazing (one man’s opinion) Kreskin.

Is there a bigger single page of wrong anywhere on the web? Hard to imagine. (I checked and there’s no site at wrong.com although somebody owns the domain name.)

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It's not a contest PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

While I'm very pleased that the Czech skeptic club Sisyphus, the Belgian SKEPP club, and the European skeptical group ECSO have recognized the James Randi Educational Foundation, I must correct the use of the term "contest" to describe the JREF's million-dollar prize. (See the article here: http://praguepost.com/czech-news/34250-czech-skeptics-offer-reward-for-proof-of-paranormal-phenomena )

It is simply a prize, not a competition, that can be won by any person who can prove the existence of any paranormal ability of any kind.

We at the JREF will follow this situation with great interest, but our experience has shown that the "psychics" will remain shy and often fail to show up to be tested...

Gee, a million dollars, and they're so reluctant? But we know why, don't we...?

James Randi, JREF founder.

 
A silly start: This week in Doubtful News for January 7, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   

 Off to a rollicking start for 2014. Here is a rundown of the strange stories that the media fed to us for this past week courtesy of Doubtful News.

What's one of the first stories from New Years Eve? A ghost along the Thames. It's unimpressive.

Also unimpressive but really laughable, as usual, are the "top psychic" predictions for 2014. Have a look and a chuckle.

Right before New Year's Eve, we posted a story about a UFO group in Sweden expecting an increase in calls regarding lights in the sky that were actually Chinese Lanterns - floating luminaries.

The day after the New Year, the California media (who obviously don't keep up with Doubtful News, haha), went overboard for UFO stories of what were OBVIOUSLY Chinese Lanterns across Sacramento. They appeared to do ZERO checking on the story.

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