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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.

More Cannon Fodder PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

cannonJohn Atkinson, our resident correspondent on the Isle of Man, regales us with news about Dr. Alexander Cannon, who we met in this article. I had asked John to look into the reference I'd found about an amateur magician on the Isle who'd come up with some documentary material about Cannon, who - it turns out - "retired" in 1936 after his woo-woo involvement with King Edward VIII became known to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. He moved to the Isle of Man in 1939. This change of location was - let's say - not voluntary... The MI5 investigation of Cannon came to the conclusion that he was not a spy, though he had several Nazi sympathizers as patients, but only "a quack and compulsive liar." That does not seem sufficient cause to thus isolate him, but it perhaps spared the rest of England from being further bored...

CONVICTION: Theft Under a False Pretense PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   

The San Jose Mercury News reports the following:

A 27-year-old woman who allegedly is from a family of fraudulent psychics has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for tricking a brokenhearted woman out of $108,000 and a Corvette, after she promised to rid her of evil spirits.

The conviction was for "Theft Under a False Pretense," which I think is a fine charge to make against those who claim psychic abilities and ask for money to demonstrate them.

But wait! There's more to this story...

GIngko Isn't Smart PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   

gingkoMillions of people take Gingko biloba because they think it keeps them smart. A recent study suggests they might be smarter to save their money ($107 million was spent on gingko in 2007 in the US alone).

Gingko has been touted for everything from altitude sickness to tinnitus, but the main claims have been for dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and improving memory. The evidence wasn't clear, so the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded a large trial to find out whether gingko could really delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's. They studied 3000 people over the age of 75 who were either normal or had mild cognitive impairment. It was a well-designed double blind placebo controlled trial lasting over 6 years. They found no difference in the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

On Superstition PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Hrab   

geo_standing_suitEarly humans looked to the sky and invented stories explaining the intricate machinations of gods and monsters, heroes and heroines, warriors and poets. They created myths, stories, and legends to account for the workings of these mysterious, brilliant points of light. A single dot in the heavens could represent the most epic of battles. A pair of stars could somehow contain within them the entire contents of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. This was all possible because early man's free-time allotment did not include the mind-numbing wonders of back episodes of VH-1's "The Flavor of Love."

No Surprise PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

e8King Edward VIII of England reigned for only 11 months, abdicating in December of 1936 so that he could marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. He was automatically succeeded by his younger brother, who became George VI - King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India, and King of Ireland. George reigned until his death in 1952.

It has now been discovered that Edward consulted a famous "mystic," Dr. Alexander Cannon, in an attempt to solve the dilemma brought about by his intended marriage to Simpson, which was of course strenuously opposed by politicians of the day and would have caused a constitutional crisis, had he remained on the throne.

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