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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.

Being a Friendly Heretic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Richard Saunders   

richard on set 002aIn 1980 I sat in front of the TV to watch a popular talk show of the time, 'The Don Lane Show'. On this particular night one of Don's guests was a visiting skeptic from America, one James Randi. I had never heard of James Randi and to me he was just another guest. I'm sure most of you will now know of this famous interview, it's repeated every year here in Australia and has become a great moment in Australian television history. Don Lane become so angry at James Randi (as Randi dared to suggest that people like Doris Stokes and Uri Geller may not be really using 'psychic' powers) that he swept Randi's props off the table and said, "… and you can piss off!" and stormed off the set. I, like most viewers, sided with Don Lane. How could this little magician come on national TV and say those terrible things? I really thought at the time that ghosts, psychics, monsters, UFOs and such like were all real.

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Woo on the Wing PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

skymall1I fly often, and unlike so-called yogic flyers, I prefer to use commercial aircraft. Ok, I don't really prefer it but it seems to be the only option available. During that uncomfortable time when I'm forcibly separated from my electronics, I take a look in the SkyMall magazine, and have a few chuckles.

SkyMall has a literally captive audience. In the bygone days of phones in the seats of aircraft, they offered a discount if you ordered while in the air. I suspect this was to prevent you from having time to actually think about what you were purchasing. Bashing SkyMall is a popular Internet pastime, and now it's my turn.

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Those "Ghosthunters" PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Reader Tristan Noel asks:

I was curious, of course – as I'm sure you get a lot of this – about the skeptic's view of the show Ghosthunters. Are they, like Criss Angel, one of us, knowingly using camera tricks and such? Are they just misinterpreting real life random data (emf tone frequency waves, etc.)? Or are they simply sensationalists on TV who push the "Normal Guy" image (Roto-Rooter plumbers) to gain compatriotism with the average viewer, and use equipment tricks to make people think they see ghosts?

Well, we’ve referred often to the show on SWIFT, and you could have done a search to find references, but my opinion is that these naifs just aren’t capable of using the over-tuned and over-sensitive equipment they so cherish.

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Facts are Facts PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Asteroid RandiI’m a rationalist.  I depend on evidence, not rumors, and not blind faith.  A recent matter has come to my attention, and needs a definitive statement. The International Astronomical Union is the group internationally recognized to have the authority to name astronomical entities – such as moon craters and stars – that other fly-by-night, totally invented, commercially-designed agencies only purport to have. They sell craters and novae to just anyone, but when the IAU assigns a name, that's official!

A few readers have been chortling over the fact that asteroid 3163 Randi – formerly known as 1981 QM – has now been joined by rocks named in honor of P. Z. Myers, Rebecca Watson, Mike Stackpole, and even JREF president Phil Plait! Now, these folks obviously have their rights to fame, but my enjoyment of this honor is somewhat dimmed by the fact that asteroids are being so easily handed out, left and right…

Mind you, luminaries such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Martin Gardner – in whose collective reflected glory I often revel – have their own assigned asteroids, too, but I searched about for some aspect of this process in which I might find some specific relief, particularly in respect to JREF associates.

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The Creation Museum - It's Unbelievable! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Roy Zimmerman   

zimmermanOften, when I visit a museum of natural history, I'm overwhelmed by the density of information presented in each room, in each diorama, on every plaque.  Not so much at the Creation Museum.  There, I was overwhelmed by the density expected of ME.

The Creation Museum is the creation (in more than seven days, I suspect) of a group called Answers in Genesis which espouses not only the literal interpretation of the Good Book, but a "Biblically-based world view."  AiG spent 27 million dollars on this massive facility in Petersburg, KY.  On opening day, a group of protesters staged a "Rally for Reason" at the CM presided over by Edwin Kagin, two-time Atheist of the Year, and my host for a recent house concert in northern Kentucky.  (And my my song "Creation Science 101 " was played in constant rotation in the van on the way to the rally by my buddy John Welte.)

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