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Children of The Panda (Or, Happy Birthday, Dover) PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Matt Fiore   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 18:51

There is a lot of cynicism directed at the US courts, even amongst skeptics. The media loves to highlight miscarriages of justice and frivolous lawsuits. But every once in awhile, the stars align (figuratively of course) and everything goes perfectly. Four years ago today, intelligent design received a major black eye.  Happy fourth birthday, Kitzmiller v. Dover. (You look like a monkey and you smell like one too.)

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Bright-Sided PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Bart Farkas   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 13:38

In Barbara Erhenreich's new book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, Ehrenreich begins by recounting her own recent experiences with breast cancer and the oddities she encountered within the cancer-survivor positive thinking movement, which Erhenreich refers to as the “Pink Ribbon Culture.” It's hard to say whether it's sad or merely pathetic that when she expressed a pragmatic attitude -- instead of the ultra-positive attitude that's expected from those battling the dreaded scourge -- she was viciously attacked by those who would never even consider a negative thought about their disease. Ehrenreich recounts how many cancer sufferers wax philosophic about how their lives are so much better now that they've had life-threatening cancer, and that cancer itself is a "gift." Ehrenreich ultimately discovered that mere annoyance at her breast cancer was enough for other members of her support groups to castigate her and even attack her for her attitude.

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To Fell The Truth PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Matt Fiore   
Friday, 18 December 2009 16:08

There is a common perception that the polygraph has been removed from the American courtroom. Sadly, that perception is false. A quick Google news search yields a long list of recent unfortunate examples. In one story, a convicted child molester submits to periodic polygraph examination after release so that parents can feel more at ease. In another, a man is interrogated using a lie detector. One even shows that the results of a polygraph test can be used as evidence against you in a rape case. So what does American law really have to say about lie detectors? As with all legal questions that haven’t been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, the answer is “it depends,” and “it’s confusing as hell.” The relevant state and federal rules are a shifting patchwork of contradictory statutes and common law.

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I AM NOT "DENYING" ANYTHING PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Thursday, 17 December 2009 11:01

Well, my piece on AGW -- Anthropogenic Global Warming -- has elicited a huge response, both positive and negative. The subject, dealing with the influence of our species on the observed increase in overall temperatures around the globe -- said to be about 0.7º Celsius -- is apparently a matter of great contention, and I almost regret having entered into it. Almost...

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AGW REVISITED PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 17:14

Though this subject is not one that directly concerns the JREF, I'm very frequently asked if I'll turn my skeptical eye to it. As a year-end fling, I'll give it a try. To wit:

An unfortunate fact is that scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to "belong" in the scientific community. Why do I find this "unfortunate"? Because the media and the hoi polloi increasingly depend upon and accept ideas or principles that are proclaimed loudly enough by academics who are often more driven by "politically correct" survival principles than by those given them by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. (Granted, it's reassuring that they're listening to academics at all -- but how to tell the competent from the incompetent?) Religious and other emotional convictions drive scientists, despite what they may think their motivations are.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a group of thousands of scientists in 194 countries around the world, and recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize -- has issued several comprehensive reports in which they indicate that they have become convinced that "global warming" is and will be seriously destructive to life as we know it, and that Man is the chief cause of it. They say that there is a consensus of scientists who believe we are headed for disaster if we do not stop burning fossil fuels, but a growing number of prominent scientists disagree. Meanwhile, some 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of them PhDs, have signed The Petition Project statement proclaiming that Man is not necessarily the chief cause of warming, that the phenomenon may not exist at all, and that, in any case, warming would not be disastrous.

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