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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.

And Then There Are These Claims... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

So, as skeptics, we evaluate evidence and come to a provisional conclusion. Sometimes, we’re told a story and we simply don’t have the evidence to come to a conclusion. This is often the case with ghost stories and alien sightings, though to date, most skeptics agree that there is a lack of sufficient evidence to support a belief in either.

What do we do if such a story is on the news? Mosnews from Russia reports that a man was taken to the emergency room complaining of severe chest pain and coughing up blood. Suspecting cancer, surgeons performed a biopsy and found not a tumor but a tree. Or a least a sapling… a young fir 5cm long was growing in the man’s lung.

That’s the story. The evidence… needs some discussion.

Read more...
 
Randi radio interview on the Pigasus awards PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

250px-pigasusawardAs regular Swift readers know, last week we released the 2009 Pigasus Award winners, those unfortunate people who have done their best in the past year to snuff out the light of science and reason. Rob Breakenridge of the radio station CHQR in Canada interviewed Randi for the show "The World Tonight" about the awards, and the interview is available online at the CHQR website. They chatted about our recent YouTube woes, and Randi gives some details and insight on this year's "winners". Don't forget that the Pigasus awards were the topic of a recent Randi Speaks too!

 
The Skeptical Manipulation PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brian Govatos   

I like converting people to my ways. Yeah, so what? You do too. You know, converting people to my brand of car, my kind of computer, my political perspective, my favorite restaurants. I like it when people I care about appreciate and understand things that I appreciate and understand. It just feels so good. Iʼm not qualified to discuss the psychology behind it, I just know itʼs true. To take it to another level, I also like being converted to other ways, ways that are better than my own. That also feels pretty good, because it feels like Iʼm growing and moving forward. I guess the whole point of any conversion is that one is changing from something to something thatʼs better, or at least, something that is perceived to be better.

Iʼve been fairly successful at this conversion business, you should know. How? Itʼs simple; I employ manipulation. Does that sound dirty? It shouldnʼt; we manipulate each other all day, every day, and we certainly donʼt make any apologies for doing so.

Read more...
 
One Thought from CFI's World Congress PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

warforchildrensmindsI had the good fortune to attend The Center for Inquiry’s World Congress in Bethesda, MD. It was a great conference, chock-full of interesting speakers (one of them was AMAZING), and I left with new thoughts and ideas. Rather than give an overview on the entire conference, I’d like to focus on the one speaker who made me say “Huh, that’s interesting” more than any other. And that was Dr. Stephen Law.

He has written many books, but the one that he addressed primarily was The War for Children’s Minds. In this book, he discusses the realities of strict, religiously authoritarian parenting vs. more liberal “let us help you figure out who you are parenting.”

The results are refreshing and encourage discussion.

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Strange Advice From a Psychic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

fanSome so-called psychics will say that you'll meet a "tall dark stranger." Others might posit that someone with a name beginning with "M" will have an influence on your life. And now, at least one, will tell you to put your testicles in front of a fan.

Yes, it's true. Kim O'Neill has been declared "Best Psychic in Houston," and her channeled spirit or guardian angel... or something, has told her that a fan is the key to fertility.

And you know, there's some truth to that.

Read more...
 
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