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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.

Thoughts on the Passing of a Hero PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

norman_borlaugIt's gratifying to see the name of a real hero grace the headlines of the papers today. Norman Borlaug was 95 when he died in Dallas this Sunday. Not familiar with that name? I'll admit that I wasn't either. But I was familiar with the man who developed plants that saved an estimated 1,000,000,000 lives. No, that's not a typo - that is one billion (American usage).

Borlaug's passing gives us time to reflect on a man who used science and technology to improve the world. In fact, the Wall Street Journal article claims that because of his advances, all hunger in the world today is the result of political disasters, not natural ones.

Borlaug's dwarf wheat crop, known as triticale, was responsible for a mutli-fold yield increase. Star Trek fans will recognize the name "triticale" from an episode featuring "tribbles" - it's what they were feeding on.

Borlaug also helped create so-called "Golden Rice" which contained beta carotene, - an essential nutrient often lacking in the diets of the impoverished.

So here we have a man that used science to do incredible things. He won the Nobel prize, and demonstrated once again that a thoughtful man can do more than all the prayer in the world. I dare say that no one else in the history of mankind has ever saved as many lives. I would call him a super hero.

And yet I'm a bit bothered by something I saw on Twitter.

Remembering Uri PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Remember Uri Geller? It seems that new generations have no idea who he was, or what a "mystifier" is. Actually, I don't think anyone knows what a "mystifier" is...

So while Uri's star may be setting below the horizon, it's actually important to remember him because his story teaches us lessons. One man can fool millions into believing he has supernatural powers, unless he's tested under controlled conditions. And when a man refuses to be tested under proper conditions, well, that can tell us something too.

As Predicted: A Psychic Failure PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Packard   

For the past eight years, September 11th has been a day that stands out as a date to remember and reflect on the worst terrorist attack in US history and one of the most shocking events in many of our lifetimes. The attacks of that day have caused a lot of pain and lead to a great deal of disagreement over the cause and the response and the things done in the name of security and safety.

However, I'd like to consider another aspect that is rarely discussed: the events were never in any way predicted by any of the self-proclaimed psychics or future-seers out there. While some have claimed that the vague words of Nostradamus or some other cryptic phrase contains clues, the fact is that nobody, no professional nor amateur psychic gave any indication that there would be a major terrorist attack in New York City or Washington in September 2001. None said that the year 2001 would see commercial aircraft turned into weapons to bring down skyscrapers. None stated that the World Trade Center would be destroyed. Nothing like that has ever been verified.

First UFO Festival Exeter NH PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barbara Mervine   

kittyalienI attended the first ever UFO festival in Exeter NH on Sept.5, 2009.  I have to say my impression is that the good old Yankees of the Granite State really don't get into the whole UFO/alien thing as well as the citizens of the West.  No real Roswell style over the top costumes or booths selling quart rocks to help communicate with our space brethren.  Just simply a simple display by the NEUFON (New England UFO network), the Kiwanis selling lunch, a tv table with a few newspaper clipping from the Historic Society, and t-shirts.  The t-shirts were selling well.  Inside Exeter town hall about 100-150 people calmly listened to talks by various UFO authors (with books for sale).  The main draw seemed to be the niece of Betty and Barney Hill.  We all remember Betty and Barney Hill as the couple that was abducted by aliens, and "recovered" their memory of it via hypnosis.  The doctor that treated the Hills always emphasized that he did not believe they had been abducted, but that they certainly did believe.

We Provide The Tool, Use It Correctly PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

This is not a new video, but it needs to be brought to our attention once again as it demonstrates that tools are ineffective if they're not used properly.

In this video you'll see Glenn Beck interviewing John Edward, and it starts off great. "Could you sleep at night knowing if you weren't on the up and up?" asks Glenn, and we're hopeful as we watch John Edward squrim. And then comes the question - why won't you take the JREF Million Dollar Challenge?

And the answer tells us a lot.

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