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The Psychology of the Perfect Holiday Season PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sheldon Helms   
Thursday, 28 November 2013 12:00

 Contrary to what some might think, a majority of skeptics celebrate winter holidays. December is the time of year when we join millions of others in an odd mixture of anticipation and angst, joy and judgment, happiness and headaches.

 

Luckily, there’s a science to enjoying the holidays. Hundreds of studies have been published on some of the key components (and the main sources of the stress) of this time of year, many of which can provide us with tips not just for surviving the holidays, but for actually enhancing our enjoyment of them. In offering my advice as a social scientist, I would like to suggest concentrating on following the science available regarding three main elements of the holiday season: 1. Holiday gift giving, 2. Holiday spending, and 3. Holiday food.

 

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MYSTERIES NEW AND OLD PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 21:18

                                Ouija Board

“The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” is an interesting article available at Smithsonian.com. Posted on October 28 no doubt intended to coincide with Hallowe’en, the piece provides interesting history of the spiritualistic device, which first appeared in spiritualistic camps during the heyday of American spiritualism in the late 19th century. The “talking board” was eventually patented in 1891, albeit that the patent does not explain how the device worked.

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No, she didn't see this coming: This week in Doubtful News for November 26, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 09:00

 It was another big week in "doubtful" news with several important stories. Here is a rundown of the random surprises and non-surprises that occurred this past week courtesy of Doubtful News.

The major story of the week is the death of self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne I had to close the comments on this thread because people expressed their "relief" at her passing. I felt that was inappropriate as well as the comments by her defenders who thought she was so gifted. There was really not much for comment - It is what it is.  

Seven people were arrested for destroying a historic Louisiana mansion by arson after failing to stir up the legendary ghosts.

A new reality TV show about haunted houses is in the works There is no word on what the concept will be, but we can HOPE it includes some anomalistic psychology.

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 25 November 2013 09:00

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

The Burzynski Empire strikes back (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-burzynski-empire-strikes-back/ Eric Merola has responded to Liz Szabo’s devastating USA TODAY critique of Burzynski with an ignorant rant full of his usual tropes, misinformation, and pseudoscience. He denies the known toxicity of antineoplastons and even invokes Nazi Germany, slavery, and gay bashers! Burzynski’s own response to the FDA investigation consists of unacceptable, even laughable excuses.

Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/faith-healing-religious-freedom-vs-child-protection/ Religious beliefs have led to horrendous cases of medical neglect, child abuse, and murder that can't be prosecuted in most states because of religious shield laws. Those laws should be abolished, as should all non-medical exemptions to vaccination. The parents' right to religious freedom doesn't mean they can endanger their children with their beliefs. It is trumped by the duty of society to protect children.

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ANOTHER FANTASY TRIP BY GELLER… PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Saturday, 23 November 2013 16:41

 I refer my readers to  http://www.uri-geller.com/courts.htm. On this site, you’ll find very carefully selected and edited excerpts from a 1998 book – “Uri Geller – Magician or Mystic?” by Jonathan Margolis. The author fell completely for Geller’s charm and freely accepted the most ridiculous stories and claims made to him, despite having interviewed me and other skeptics. The point is made again: the public vastly prefers woo-woo over reality. What you see below is 1,252 words taken directly from Geller’s own site, in a most interesting style. It’s a continuous series of words without breaks for paragraphs, selected from all over the Margolis book, purposely discontinuous to confuse the reader, and under the general heading “A Letter from Uri Geller’s Lawyer to James Randi”. Actually, it consists of bits from over a dozen lawyers, and is largely a listing of lawyers Geller has used, again and again, over the years. His litigious nature is quite evident here. its punctuation is ridiculous, and it’s mostly disconnected phrases and hyperbole that make no sense. The errors you’ll see here are not mine, they’re Geller’s…

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