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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.

Put on the spot: This week in Doubtful News for March 18, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   

Here is a rundown of strange and intellectually bankrupt news stories that made it into the media this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

We kept adding to our post on the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as new fringe ideas emerged. No psychic claimed to predict it, yet, but one particularly media-hungry so-called remote viewer got in on the act and, frankly, was completely unhelpful. It was embarrassing, actually. But what was he going to do, bend the spoons on board?

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine. 

The Best Hot Reading I’ve Ever Had PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   

Almost everyday I’m contacted by someone with a paranormal claim. Sometimes they phone me. A few years ago I received a call from a stranger who blurted out gibberish as soon as I answered the phone. He was “speaking in tongues” over the phone for me in his attempt to prove that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

My most recent call of this kind was from Pete of Tucson, Arizona. “Hi. I’m a psychic medium and one of the best in the country. People tell me I’m 99% accurate and I want to prove my abilities to you. Do you want a psychic reading?” he asked. “Sure. As long as you’re not charging me by the minute!” I said. “I don’t need the money,” he replied, missing my joke. 

We're full of surprises: This week in Doubtful News for March 11, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   

Here is a rundown of fringe news stories of the week courtesy of Doubtful News.

As usual, there are plenty of headlines this week. We start out with the sentencing phase of the criminal case against so-called "psychic" Rose Marks. She did not receive the maximum sentence as the matriarch of the family who seem to constantly be in trouble with the law, but she gets 10 years in prison.

Bobby Drinnon, a psychic who chose to be known as an "intuitive" or "sensitive," has passed away from illness.

The craziest news story last week was the linkage between a questionable archaeological find, pyramids, with the conflict in the Ukraine. Never underestimate imagination.

Amazing what you might find just walking your dog in an NYC park. Eww.

This guy claims a monster bat was attacking his dog. He looks too gleeful now that this furry fruit eater is very dead. 

A woman is surprised that not everyone can deliberately imagine themselves outside their body.

I'm surprised that anyone thought these fake arrests were a good idea.

But it's NOT a surprise that many Americans are not literate when it comes to technical terms.

The staff of Bryan College is asked to promote scientifically illiteracy by affirming the Genesis story. 

With the desperate drought situation in California, water witching is becoming more prominent. It still doesn't work no matter how hard dowsers advocate that it does.

That pesky golf-ball finder, drug dowser, bomb-detector, Aids-Hepatitis curing thingy JUST won't DIE. There is now a patent in Romania to continue to produce it.

An infamous anti-vaccination group in Australia tries to best the skeptics by picking a new, controversial name. 

Finally, there are endless questions swirling about the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Where ever missing information occurs, mystery mongers will be sure to fill the gap with some outrageous idea. Watch as we track the fringe ideas being the plane's disappearance.

Come visit for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to

Premiere PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

d42c684b4d81bdbe6c50ec6c0e61a041-1Folks, I sat with some twenty people last night at the home of a good friend and watched the astonishing revival of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”.

Many months ago I’d mentioned to Neil DeGrasse Tyson that I thought it would be a proper gesture to recognize Carl's wonderful contributions to reason and truth in some appropriate way, but Dr. Tyson met and exceeded my most ambitious expectations in that regard.

I sat there with tears in my eyes as his tribute to Carl was delivered, as I'm sure millions across the country did. Surely there can be now be no doubt that the New Cosmos will continue to reinforce the cause of science in very much the way that Carl did, that skepticism about the nonsense which meets us at every turn in the commercial world to which – in particular – young people are exposed, will be extolled and encouraged, has now been met, and a new battlefield is before us. This program burst upon us like a fireworks display never before seen. I was transfixed, transported, and shaken as Dr. Tyson and the Fox network took us on this wonderful adventure.

Seeing – at last – the tragedy of Giordano Bruno recounted properly and without fear of demands for censorship from religious zealots, I was more than pleased. Mind you, I expect heavy reaction from the “other side” of rationality, but I have great confidence in Dr. Tyson’s ability to look past that bickering to even greater things that the New Cosmos will achieve.

Wow…! I hope that you, too, were pleased with this tour de force and that you’ll join me in dropping a note to Fox network. The premiere was shown on all Fox affiliates, as well as National Geographic, and National Geographic WILD. With Ann Druyan – Carl’s widow – and Seth MacFarlane in charge, how can it lose…!

Again, WOW!

James Randi.

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