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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.

Based on a True Story PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

haunting_in_connecticutA Swift reader asked me to comment on the upcoming movie, The Haunting in Connecticut. It's the story of a family who moves into the perfect house, only to find it's haunted. And while I can't comment on a movie I haven't seen, I can use this opportunity to point out something that irks me about movies, and that's the tagline "Based on a True Story."

You'll see in the photo the large words at the top. And then below "Some things cannot be explained." Er, I'm not so sure about that, but again, I haven't seen the film so I can't comment.

There are many other "based on true story" films that are worthy of comment, however.

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Pyramid Scheming PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Barbara Mervine   

A note from Jeff Wagg:

Barbara (Kitty) Mervine is a long-time friend of the JREF who is joining us on her second Amaz!ng Adventure. While she'll be enlightening those on board with tales of Mexican UFOs, she's taken time to point out some European assumptions concerning ancient American civilizations for those who missed the boat.

pyramidIn preparation for travelling to Mexico for the first time I have been studying up the history of Mexico and in particular the Mayan civilization. The misconception that the native people of Mexico were incapable of having such advanced skills in architecture, math and astronomy started long before the Erich von Däniken wrote his infamous "Chariot of the Gods" book. When sixteenth- century Spanish historians wrote of the Mayan ruins, they concluded that the people that built the pyramids and other advanced architectural structures were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Cotton Mather, William Penn and Roger Williams were all supporters of what was called the "Jewish Theory" for Mexico. Other theories to explain how such an advanced civilization ended up in Mexico include the Mayans being survivors of a lost continent such as Atlantis. In recent times we have space aliens coming to both Egypt and Central and South America to build landing pads and pyramids, and pass on their wisdom.

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American Library Association Chooses Poorly PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Swift reader Stephen brings this item to our attention:

I just wanted to alert your readers that, sadly, one of the best professions for critical thinkers seems to have been infiltrated. Yes, I'm a librarian and usually damn proud of it. But just the other day, as I was checking the conference program for the American Library Association's Annual Meeting in Chicago this summer, there was cause to be less proud. For, there on the program, in the "Auditorium Speaker Series" was a notice that one of the featured speakers was to be... wait for it... James Van Praagh! Arrrgh! Even worse, the write up for the event sounds as if it came right from the computer of a HarperCollins publicist (as no doubt it did). It's full of material that really brings shame to ALA.

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Sigh Balls PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

You say you don't believe in the power of Psi? That's P-S-I, not P-S-Y. Psi is defined as "supposed parapsychological or psychic faculties or phenomen" by the Apple Dictionary, and while the entry thankfully says "supposed," others say there's a simple demonstration that can make you a believer.

Swift reader Austin wrote to ask what I thought about psiballs. Psiballs are balls of energy that you create between your hands with the power of your mind. With practice, it's reported that you can program these balls to do "complex tasks," but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

According to WikiHow, here's one way to make one of your very own:

1. Gather your energy. This could be from your own body or from another source. You could visualize the energy entering and filling every part of your body from the Earth through your feet, or from the sky and the sun through your crown chakra. Some people imagine energy coming into the body on the in-breath and out through the hands on the out-breath.

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Poland Officially Recognizes the Supernatural PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Long time Swift reader Przemyslaw from Poland brought this to our attention and translated out of the original Polish:

On 24 February 2009 three Polish scientists, led by professor ŁukaszA. Turski, initiated an open protest letter to the Polish Minister of Labour against the official list of jobs and professions recently published on the web pages of Labour Offices. The protest concerns the fact that among professions such as engineer, scientist, teacher or physician in the list there are also "professions" such as: astrologer, dowser, fortune-teller, healer (here called "bioenergotherapist") or reflexologist. The list not only records the professions names but in a detailed way describes their nature and job tasks. For instance the record concerning a fortune-teller says:

*** Name: Fortune-teller

Code: 514903

Synthesis: Consciously using inborn abilities for dealing in the field of supernatural phenomena the fortune-teller insights into the future and past events by way of different forms of traditional fortune-telling such as: cards (especially tarot), kaballah, I-ching (according to ancient Chinese "Book of transformations"), chiromancy (fortune-telling from hand), catoptromancy and crystalomancy (foretelling the future based on mirror or crystal) etc.

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