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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.

Flogging the adverts. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Cuno   

I had intended my recent Swift article to be an empowering piece on personal responsibility. I also wanted to bust a few myths about advertising’s alleged powers of control. Judging from many of the comments, it seems that some readers took the piece for a unilateral defense of marketing, abuses included, and a disavowal of marketers’ responsibilities for what and how they sell.

... just a very bad wizard. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Hale   

During a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Oz discussed Reiki — an alternative medicine that Oz says might be the “most important alternative medicine treatment of all.” Oz explained to the audience that his wife was a Reiki master, and from time to time she uses the treatment on him. “I can’t even tell when she’s treating me. Sometimes she secretly treats me,” says Oz. After a brief introduction to this alternative “energy medicine,” Oz introduces Reiki master Pamela Miles. At this point, there is a lady from the audience — with a headache — sitting in a chair in front of Miles. Before Miles treats the headache she explains, “Reiki is a balancing practice, and so rather than addressing the headache or whatever else is the problem, what it does is influences the person’s overall system towards balance.” After a brief intro on basic Reiki, Miles performs her magic, and presto: The lady’s headache is gone.


Skeptic, Be Not Proud PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

One of the perks of basing conclusions on evidence rather than whims or emotions is that you tend be right more often. Yes, that sounds like an arrogant thing to say, but face it... the reason we're skeptics is because we love the truth and we're constantly searching to refine it. That tends to make us more informed on any topic than the general public who often seem to go with the flow and not question what they're told. I'm generalizing, but you get the point.

Be that as it may, it's easy to take pride in this fact. "Hey, I've done the research, and I'm right a lot of the time! Look at me!!!" Saying it like that may seem ridiculous, but it's not far from what I've been observing lately. I believe that such an attitude is not only counterproductive, it also ignores the best thing about being a skeptic, and that is... being able to freely say "Oops, I was wrong about that."

For Good Reason: Framing Darwin with Richard Dawkins PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Richard Dawkins talks about Darwin Day and communicating with the public about Darwinism, and which should be the highest priority: evolution education or widespread skepticism about the supernatural, including theism. He denies that he is strident. He explores concerns over immorality that may fuel opposition to Darwinsim. He explains how creationists are like Holocaust deniers. He describes the benefits of accepting the theory of evolution. And he details lines of evidence for evolution, such as those coming from molecular biology.

For more information and to listen online or subscribe via iTunes, visit


200 Million Miles & One Foot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sean Sturgeon   

1._not_a_roverOn 26 January, 2009, NASA announced that despite several weeks of effort, the Mars Rover Spirit had become stuck in the soft Martian sand and would not move again. The press release came shortly after the sixth anniversary of Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, making it to Mars a few weeks apart in January of 2004. Given the remote location of Spirit, NASA could not give it the Old Yeller treatment and instead “decided” to reclassify it as a stationary science platform.

Spirit and Opportunity were supposed to have mission lives of ninety days. They exceeded expectations and are still active after more than twenty two hundred days.

But what in the name of The Celestial Teapot does a tandem of robots need to do to get a little love in the mainstream media? It should be appreciated by even the most oblivious, mushy-headed observer that the scientific spiffiness of the rovers knocks the guts right out of their competition for space on Page 1. Sadly, we become bored with amazing things twelve minutes after we hear about them.

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