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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.

SWIFT July 27, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

That Silly Non-Spinning Wheel, Candidates for the Prize, Hot News, Texas Leads in Science Bashing, Royal Speaks to Angels and Horses, Sylvia’s Predictions, That Dreaded Number Again, And it Poured…, Homer at Work, Credentials, Reality Can Be Rough, Trouble in Dilution Land and In Conclusion…

Yes, the Steorn toy is still with us, folks. Refer to to refresh your memory. I just saw a typically naïve comment that repeats a canard about the requirements of our patent office:

Right, and in the US the USPTO, our patent office, actually requires people to send in physical working samples of supposed perpetual motion machines because they have historically received so many claims for patents to this system.

Wrong. The USPTO requires nothing of the kind. They’ll issue patents to just about anything, no matter how silly it is. For an example, see – do a search for “patent.”

Another discussion on the claims made for this stupid machine. First, a question that was posed to the Steorn CEO:

Let's talk a little bit more about the technology that you guys have supposedly developed here. Laws of thermodynamics basically state that you can't achieve 100% efficiency in any apparatus and that there are always transfers of heat and energy in any system. But obviously you guys are claiming 100%+ efficiency. Do you have a statistic or number of what you estimate the energy efficiency level of your machine is? Is it 110% or 150%?

Steorn’s answer

SWIFT July 20, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

To Debate or not to Debate, Passing the Test, Perpetual Emotion, Notice!, An Adventure in Falling, Geller in the News, News Update, Excorcism Excercise & Exhortation Experts, and in Closing...


Reader Joe Wilkins comments on the wisdom of debating those who might be more experienced in that tricky procedure…

The essence of the argument is this: debating is a sport in which representatives of opposing viewpoints perform in front of judges and an audience in order to determine who has better defended their position. In the intercollegiate sport of debating, a particular team might be "pro" on one occasion and "con" on another and be able to win the argument in either case simply through their superior debating skills. Science, on the other hand, is a system of testing hypotheses in order to gain some predictive knowledge of the physical world.

The ability to debate in a public forum has absolutely nothing to do with science – just as creationism and intelligent design have nothing to do with science. So, entering into a public debate on a scientific topic with a non-scientist is a little like is like determining political policy through individual combat or deciding whether Newton's laws of physics have any validity through the medium of arm wrestling.

SWIFT July 13, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

Tricks of Their Trade, Shaky Assurance, Appreciation for TAM, Gotta Watch Those Portals, A Strange Request, Steorn Again, And How to Spel, A Real Witch Doctor in London, A Religious Shock, Down-Under Debate, Incomplete Information, Giggle Time, and In Closing…



NCSEI came upon an excellent article/review by paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman (Pennsylvania State University) in “Reports,” the journal of the National Center for Science Education. I’ll extract one paragraph from that article, which deals with a very slick presentation by a Dr. Oktar Babuna given for the Muslims Student’s Association at Penn State. That lecture was titled, “The Collapse of Darwinism and the Fact of Creation.” It illustrates how clever and duplicitous the creationists can be. After all, reason and evidence are not their friends, so they stoop as low as they can to try putting across their nonsense. This is an example of their tricky attack on a rather high-profile target, and here’s the pertinent paragraph from Ms. Shipman’s article:

SWIFTJuly 6, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

Still Teasing Investors, That Old Farce is Back, More On the South Africa Situation, God Sought After, Marked Cards, A Quack Workshop, In Closing.


Reader Jurij Dreo, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, refers to our previous mentions of the Steorn perpetual-motion/free-energy fiasco at and and brings us up-to-date on the situation:

It seems that the benefits of the physical law-breaking achievements at Steorn ( you have already written about twice will need to be postponed for a while, for Steorn is having "technical difficulties" with their "working" model of the free energy device they dubbed "Orbo." Here are current comments:

4th of July, 6pm London Time:

The world (well, at least those of us who feel amused at watching such "car crashes") tuned in to watch a live webcast presentation of Orbo that was set to begin at 6pm in London's Kinetica museum ( Alas, we were disappointed, since at 6pm London Time all was quiet in the land of Steorn. Then a new hope – we might still be able to cancel our monthly gas, oil, and electricity subscriptions for good: the time on Steorn's website was reset to "6pm Eastern Time," which seemed to indicate a US East Coast time zone. Since this time delay translates into midnight for the Central European Timezone, I decided to stick around for a couple more hours to witness this wonder with my own two eyes.

SWIFT June 29, 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

A Mortal Blow, Desperate Measures, Resurrection of an Old Hoax, Maybe Heaven's Getting Dry, Sam Harris Responds, Lumps from South Africa, From Our General Manager, In Closing.


 I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way to describe this lethal review of biochemist Michael J. Behe’s latest floundering attempt to bolster the failed “Intelligent Design” nonsense. Behe is the author of “Darwin’s Black Box” and this one, “The Search for the Limits of Darwinism.” The review is from the keyboard of our hero Richard Dawkins, which should explain its potency. I refer readers to

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