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Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 09:00

Down the street from me there’s a psychic storefront. It’s the kind of thing you passCrystal Ball so routinely it eventually becomes invisible. But the other day, I was meandering down the block, eating an ice cream cone, and something about it caught my eye.

There’s a banner above the store that reads: “Clairvoyant.” Beneath this, along the awning, it says, “Tarot Reader” and “Spiritual Advisor.” And then there’s a big neon sign in the window that declares, “PSYCHIC.”

And then I noticed there’s a little sign by the door that says, "Please Ring Bell."

Hm …

Anyway, lots of psychic stuff in the news these days it seems, and I suppose the psychics among us already know that. As for the rest of us quintasensory types, here now, the news:

Last week I reported that Rose Marks was convicted on all 14 counts of her prosecution for mail fraud and other charges related to her and her family psychic operations. She won’t be sentenced until December, but her eight relatives who previously copped pleas are due to be sentenced in the interim, and this past week, three family members were issued their sentences by the judge, in some instances even more substantially than had been asked for by the prosecution.

Monster hoaxes: This week in Doubtful News for October 8, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 09:00

Here is this week's summary of the swindling, finagling and obfuscating occurring around the world this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

It was monstrous week at Doubtful News - the source for all Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster news (because it's all doubtful). This was a disappointing week for monster lovers and rational thinkers alike as the media delivered uncritical coverage of really awful cryptozoological news.  First, Bigfoot. Melba Ketchum grabbed the spotlight again by promoting her study from the beginning of the year repackaged with video footage promoted by Adrian Erickson that was supposed to come out with the study months ago. 

Once you see that the footage is just terrible, blurry and matches too well with a mask of a certain tall hairy Star Wars character, you feel duped. Ironically, Erickson has curtailed release of the footage as part of a documentary because of all the hoaxing buzz going on right now. 

Flying Witches and Africans PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leo Igwe   
Monday, 07 October 2013 11:00

When superstitious beliefs go unchallenged, they sometimes take very bizarre forms. Sometimes they are regarded as ‘science’ and promoted openly and confidently as if they are based on facts and evidence. They could be vested with sacredness and shielded from critical examination and scrutiny. Superstitions are often invoked by politicians to demonstrate power, legitimacy and authority

Embracing superstitions should call into question a people's mental state and cause others to question their claim to rationality. Making superstitious claims should reinforce the idea that some human beings are backward, trapped in pre-modern age and still down the ladder of human civilization in an unenlightened state. Irrational beliefs expressed publicly by public leaders embarrass a nation and a generation. This is the case in Swaziland.
Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 07 October 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.

Obamacare, the Oregon Experiment, and Medicaid (David Gorski) One provision of the Affordable Care Act was ruled unconstitutional: the mandatory expansion of Medicare to cover all people under 65 up to 133% of the federal poverty level. In Michigan, the expansion was voluntarily adopted, despite the assertion that Medicaid doesn’t improve health outcomes. Does it? The evidence is complicated.

Answering Our Critics, Part 2 of 2: What’s the Harm? (Harriet Hall) Part 2 continues the list of rebuttals to critics of science-based medicine. What’s the harm if people want to try a treatment that is unproven or even disproven? There are several kinds of harm, even occasional deaths; and it is unethical to offer placebos except perhaps as “comfort measures” without promise of therapeutic benefit. Doctors can sometimes relax scientific rigor in the interests of compassion, but in general they should do what is best for patients rather than what patients think they want.

Psychic Doesn’t See It Coming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 09:00

Skeptics got to celebrate a major legal victory for rationality last week when Florida psychic Rose Marks, was convicted on 14 counts of her criminal prosecution for fraud.

Prosecutors were able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Marks was the head of a larger Romani family ring of psychic con-men-and-women operating in both New York City and South Florida. The jury was unaware of the fact that Marks’s two sons and their wives, her daughter and son-in-law, along with her sister and granddaughter had all previously been charged in the original indictments, but none had gone to trial as all had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud.

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