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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.

Eternal Vigilance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

A year ago, Randi finished off a succesful attack on a device that was a swindle at best, and a killer at worst. That device, "Sniffex," was a divining rod purported by its marketers to detect explosives. (Not to be confused with SniffEx, a scientific – and functioning – sensor.)

Sadly, another troll has taken residence under the bridge.

Visit NPR and take a look at the picture there. Yes, that's a soldier holding a divining rod. It's looking for bombs, and it's going to get people killed.

Another Appreciative Reader PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

I've heard from Gerardo, a reader in Costa Rica, which he describes as "the most beautiful land in the world, a tropical paradise with no army and sometimes, no shame either." He writes:

[I'm] an aspiring critical thinker from Costa Rica... As one of the last confessional estates in the Western hemisphere, the Nation of Costa Rica is Catholic, Apostolic and Roman. We are a state (funny, don't you think?) that worships hundreds of lesser gods commonly known as saints, a virgin, a ghost, a resurrected crucified man and a misogynist god  Many people are very proud of this, but there are always a few dissenters.

We are trying to fix that national error.

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More... PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

Please forgive me if I hammer once again at this theme, but I see that just this month, the prestigious Mayo Clinic has issued a lengthy report that stresses the importance of not accepting "alternative medicine treatments ranging from herbal remedies to acupuncture" simply because they have become more popular and offer more options, cautioning that these treatments aren't always proven safe or effective. The report asks that people "Be open-minded yet skeptical of medical claims." While I certainly agree with this advice, and it's stated in an appropriately caring, polite, and skeptical fashion, I'm somewhat alarmed to see that the report also contains:

With any alternative treatment you consider, find out if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor and do research on your own before trying any treatment.

With due deference to the authority of the Mayo Clinic, I will state that I have met - quite recently - fully-qualified, licensed, practicing physicians who have endorsed or at least tolerated various aspects of quackery - especially acupuncture. Though innocently presented, such professional opinions originate in benign ignorance. Never assume malice when incompetence will do.

Waldorf Salad: Biodynamic Farming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Travis Roy   

I recently happened to catch a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth, entitled "Biodynamics: The Next Green Wine." The nearly nine minute segment focused on what biodynamics is, why it is being used in the wine industry, what sets it apart from organic and, of course, how it affects the products.

Biodynamic farming was introduced by Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf schools) in 1924 in response to farmers complaints about degraded soil conditions and health of crops and livestock due to the use of chemical fertilizers. It capitalizes on one of the biggest misconceptions about organic farming, namely that farming organically forgoes chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

My Admittedly Acerbic Observation... PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

rat-zingerThe former Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI - now claims that atheism is responsible for the destruction of the environment. In a speech at the Vatican on Wednesday, wearing his nice dress and funny hat, Ratzinger asked his spellbound audience:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the "final authority," and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

In answer to your question: No, Joe, it is not true. You are deluded, in this as in so much of what you think and say.

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