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.

When Kin Is Kindling PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Here is an item that ran on Al Jazeera last Saturday:

I wonder if the footage of the “witch” burning — which the reporter claims is “three months” old — is actually from the springtime incident we reported on here. (Note: If you click on that last link, do yourself a favor and don’t watch the video, unless you feel you need an extra jolt to achieve a level of righteous anger commensurate to something as wrong and pitiful as the burning of alleged sorcerers in an era in which one of the mob can record the spectacle in hi-def.)

There are two good things about this story, the first of which is that it actually exists. Although specific figures are unavailable, we may extrapolate from local tallies that the fear of witches has ruined the lives of tens of thousands of Africans in the last two decades, and has likely resulted in thousands of deaths.

 
On The Instant, Painless Healing of Burns PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
   

Check out this video, from FireBurnDoctor.com:

 
Brand Skeptic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   

I would normally advise against introducing a line of lingerie called “Itches Like Hell,” or a line of cat food called “More Hairballs.” Likewise, if we were on the eve of birthing the world’s first critical thinking movement, I might look for a more positive-sounding brand name than "skeptic."

But let’s not waste our time. The eve has passed, the movement has been snowballing for years and, with it, "skeptic" has strongly emerged as moniker-of-choice. Trying to change the name now would be about as fruitful as trying to get old movie buffs to start calling the late, rough'n'tough cowboy actor John Wayne by his given name, Marion Morrison. "Skeptic," at least for now, is here to stay.

Not to worry. Many respected brands rise above names which, in isolation, might not seem optimal. For a modest sampling, consider names like Smuckers, Wii, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Grey Poupon, Virgin, Crab Shack, Dress Barn, The Beatles, PMS (Pantone Matching System), Chubb, Gap, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Allied Waste, Athlete’s Foot, Costco, Beano, and Seimens. By comparison, making something positive out of "skeptic" doesn’t seem so daunting after all.

 
Saddlebackpedal (Or: Rick Warren Probably Isn't a Really Great Guy) PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sean Sturgeon   

There’s an old axiom stating that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than it is to speak and remove all doubt. If you take the above statement and combine it with the ugly truth that some things are not said better late than never, you just get just the tiniest taste of the epic tub of foul-smelling verbal unguent slathered onto us by Rick Warren and the Ugandan Pastor of Death.

 
Getting Them Early PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Andy Kaiser   

I’m in a rare situation. In the world of authorship, you generally have to finish a book, shop it out to a zillion publishers and agents, and (this part is the most important) learn how to deal with rejection.

What happened to me is that I was offered a book contract before the book was finished. While I’m completing the first draft now, I’ve already got a contract in place with Science, Naturally! a publisher of fun science education books.

My book will indeed be educational, but it’s also solidly in the camp of entertainment: The League of Scientists is young adult fiction, in which smart kids use science and critical thinking to solve what appears to be a supernatural mystery.

 

 
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