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.

TAM 7 Talent Show PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

Got talent?

At the JREF, we know we have one of the cleverest, funniest, artistic, and simply most talented audiences in the world.

But we are, after all, skeptics, and we decided it's time to prove it. So at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 this year we're holding a Talent Show. Are you coming to TAM 7, and can you sing, dance, juggle, contort, do a light-sabre routine, tumble, prestidigitate, or bend spoons with the power of your mind alone? Then sign up!

And even if you don't want to get on stage and potentially embarrass yourself in front of hundreds of revelers, you can still be a reveler! Come to TAM 7 -- our speaker lineup is great, the extracurricular activities are stellar, and find out why TAMs are the premier skeptical conferences on the planet.

And yeah, we can prove that, too.

 
The Trouble With Open-Mindedness PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

JREF fan Clare Zimmerman alerted us to this brilliant video that illustrates perfectly the basic problem with the all-too-common accusation that skeptics are closed-minded.

 


 

Because we rely on evidence before we decide whether a claim is correct or not, we skeptics are not closed-minded! Instead, we filter the ideas that get into our heads, allowing us to separate sense and nonsense. As the saying goes, have an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.

 
Jenny McCarthy's Body of Work PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

mccarthybodycountJenny McCarthy is well-known as an actress and something of a bawdy comedian. But her fame is growing in less elevated circles: she's an outspoken promoter of the anti-vaccination movement. Her claims that vaccines cause (or contribute to) autism are nothing short of breathtakingly ridiculous. It's why she won our 2008 Pigasus Award.

Medical doctors Orac and Steve Novella have written extensively about her, as has Skeptical Dad, and the Stop Jenny McCarthy site was created to expose her as the danger she is.

But the bar has been set even higher now: a new website has been created called Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Stark and grim, it has one purpose: to show how many preventable illnesses and preventable deaths have occurred due to unvaccinated people since Jenny McCarthy became the de facto face of the antivaccination movement. The website, created by skeptic Derek Bartholomaus, stops short of saying she is directly responsible for these illnesses and deaths, but her indirect responsibility is arguably relevant.

 
Report from Phoenix Skepticamp PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Don Lacey, known to chat room and forumites as AZAtheist, recently attended the Phoenix SkeptiCamp. I'll let him tell the story:

The meeting was held in Discovery Hall on the Arizona State University Campus with about 20 people attending. This was the fifth SkeptiCamp based on a conference concept called BarCamp which Reed Esau adopted for Skeptics. Obviously, Jim had put a lot of work into making this SkeptiCamp happen. Due to the sponsorship from Skeptics Society/Skeptic magazine, James Randi Educational Foundation, and Center for Skeptical Inquiry/Skeptical Inquirer magazine, the cost was free. Actually, it was better than free. In addition to the free T-shirts, there were books and magazines available for all the participants.

Jim Lippard began by talking about SkeptiCamp. The first rule of SkeptiCamp is that you talk about SkeptiCamp. BarCamp has 8 rules and the skeptics' version adds 9th rule: "Prepare to back up all stated claims."

There was a live blog being recorded by Tony Barnhart (Magic Tony); replay it and catch all the comments from the Blogosphere that occurred during the meeting.

Notable attendees included: Michael A. Stackpole of the Phoenix Skeptics on "Practical Techniques for Street Skepticism," John Lynch on "Academic Freedom and Intelligent Design," and Tony Barnhart on "Methods of the Pseudo-Psychic."

 
No, JAMA, You're Doing It Wrong PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Joe Albietz   

Conflicts of interest are a major point of concern within modern medicine. Ideally, physicians and patients want to make decisions based solely upon what is right for the patient; it is what we strive for. In the past it was commonplace for physicians to accept gifts from drug companies, some were small, a pen or a lunch, others were far more substantial. Many physicians thought they could benefit from the drug companies’ attention while remaining unaffected in their medical decision making. They were wrong.

 
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