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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.

The Psychology of the Perfect Holiday Season PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sheldon Helms   

 Contrary to what some might think, a majority of skeptics celebrate winter holidays. December is the time of year when we join millions of others in an odd mixture of anticipation and angst, joy and judgment, happiness and headaches.

 

Luckily, there’s a science to enjoying the holidays. Hundreds of studies have been published on some of the key components (and the main sources of the stress) of this time of year, many of which can provide us with tips not just for surviving the holidays, but for actually enhancing our enjoyment of them. In offering my advice as a social scientist, I would like to suggest concentrating on following the science available regarding three main elements of the holiday season: 1. Holiday gift giving, 2. Holiday spending, and 3. Holiday food.

 

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MYSTERIES NEW AND OLD PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

                                Ouija Board

“The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” is an interesting article available at Smithsonian.com. Posted on October 28 no doubt intended to coincide with Hallowe’en, the piece provides interesting history of the spiritualistic device, which first appeared in spiritualistic camps during the heyday of American spiritualism in the late 19th century. The “talking board” was eventually patented in 1891, albeit that the patent does not explain how the device worked.

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The Honest Liar - What's America's Most Deceptive Sport? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

If you're the kind of baseball fan I am, now that the baseball season is over you're counting the days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and hungry for a little baseball news or information. So in this installment of the Honest Liar, I turn my attention away from traditional skeptic subjects and take a look at the critically important but concealed role that deception plays in the American pastime.

After you've watched the video, you might be interested in this incident that occurred in the post season, in September, in a game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, and a confrontation that arose over the issue of stealing signs:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130909&content_id=60063676&c_id=bal

 

 
No, she didn't see this coming: This week in Doubtful News for November 26, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   

 It was another big week in "doubtful" news with several important stories. Here is a rundown of the random surprises and non-surprises that occurred this past week courtesy of Doubtful News.

The major story of the week is the death of self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne I had to close the comments on this thread because people expressed their "relief" at her passing. I felt that was inappropriate as well as the comments by her defenders who thought she was so gifted. There was really not much for comment - It is what it is.  

Seven people were arrested for destroying a historic Louisiana mansion by arson after failing to stir up the legendary ghosts.

A new reality TV show about haunted houses is in the works There is no word on what the concept will be, but we can HOPE it includes some anomalistic psychology.

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. 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 Burzynski Empire strikes back (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-burzynski-empire-strikes-back/ Eric Merola has responded to Liz Szabo’s devastating USA TODAY critique of Burzynski with an ignorant rant full of his usual tropes, misinformation, and pseudoscience. He denies the known toxicity of antineoplastons and even invokes Nazi Germany, slavery, and gay bashers! Burzynski’s own response to the FDA investigation consists of unacceptable, even laughable excuses.

Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/faith-healing-religious-freedom-vs-child-protection/ Religious beliefs have led to horrendous cases of medical neglect, child abuse, and murder that can't be prosecuted in most states because of religious shield laws. Those laws should be abolished, as should all non-medical exemptions to vaccination. The parents' right to religious freedom doesn't mean they can endanger their children with their beliefs. It is trumped by the duty of society to protect children.

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