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Earn $50 for the JREF! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREF Staff   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 13:14

randivisaSupport the JREF by applying for the CapitalOne JREF Platinum Visa!

Through a program from CapitalOne, you can earn $50 for the JREF with your first purchase. Subsequent purchases will earn the JREF 1% of sales, which may be tax deductible for US residents!

This is a great way to show your support without having to do anything other than switching your credit card.

Card benefits include:

  • $50 donation to JREF with first purchase 
  • 1% of all purchases donated to JREF (may be tax deductible)
  • JREF branded card or design your own!
  • 24/7 Travel and emergency assistance, including roadside
  • Rental car insurance
  • Buyer's protection

For more information and to apply, click this link.

The JREF thanks you for your support. Your efforts here help keep us strong and growing.

(When you activate your card the message from Capital One will read that you have made a $25 donation to the JREF. Capital One, however, is making a special double donation to the JREF and the actual donation is $50. Rest assured that the JREF is receiving the full $50 when you use your card.)

The Principle of The Thing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Cuno   
Monday, 16 November 2009 19:11

(Editor's Note: Steve Cuno is the founder of the RESPONSE Agency, an evidence-based marketing firm in Salt Lake City. He has spoken at the last two TAMs, and has been invited to write for Swift to share his knowledge of marketplace behavior as it pertains to skepticism — and vice versa.)

When a friend teaching a college scriptwriting course told students that standard videotape runs at 30 frames per second, a hand shot up. "Actually," corrected the young man who owned the arm to which the hand was attached, "it's 29.97 frames per second." Thus it began. For the rest of the semester, no gnat was safe from this fellow's interrupting the class to strain at it.

More Magic Wands PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Sunday, 15 November 2009 13:20

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote -- here on Swift as well as at my own blog -- about the Iraqi military employing useless magic wands to search for explosives at checkpoints, and about the inevitable deadly results. This was based on an article in the New York Times, and the word has now spread far and wide.

Skeptic, physician, and journalist Ben Goldacre wrote about it in The Guardian, and Graeme Wood did so as well for The Atlantic. The story was huge on tech and skeptic sites too, like Slashdot, MetaFilter, Gizmodo, and Bruce Hood's Supersense blog. It made a brief appearance on TV in this segment on the Rachel Maddow Show.

With Friends Like These PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sean Sturgeon   
Sunday, 15 November 2009 00:02

"Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache: do be my enemy for friendship's sake." - William Blake1._phil_and_his_shuttle

I'm not the smartest person in the world. I may not even be the smartest person in my living room right now, because the cat walked in and one of the Angry White Men from MSNBC just came on. I'm certainly not the smartest person on this webpage. There's Randi -- he's so wicked smart that his nickname is actually "The Amazing." How many games of Trivial Pursuit do you have to win before you get that moniker slapped on you? JREF President Phil Plait is an actual astronomer with an actual degree in nuclear telescopes or something. All I have going for me is several years of drinking away a scholarship.

But even I, just by reading books and arguing with the neighborhood kids about moral relativism, know that saying a thing does not make it so.

Yes, I'm looking at you.

Plunder Unto God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt Fiore   
Friday, 13 November 2009 16:14

The Apocalypse has arrived for the second year in a row. In God's corner is a swarm of angry churches led by a group called the Alliance Defense Fund. In Satan's corner is, of course, the Internal Revenue Service. September 27, 2009 was "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" and it has caused churches across the nation risk their tax exempt status by making political statements and even explicitly endorse political candidates in open violation of tax law.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal organization unafraid of controversy, so their civil disobedience is hardly surprising. Its list of founders includes people like James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and Bill Bright, winner of the infamous $1.1 million Templeton Prize. On their website they tell prospective employees that they must "be ready, willing, and able to participate in public and private prayer" both "during working and non-working hours."

The Alliance Defense Fund is arguing that churches in America are being persecuted. They believe (without good legal precedent) that the IRS restrictions on churches amount to an unconstitutional limitation on their freedom of speech and need to be repealed. In response, they've organized a movement called the "Pulpit Freedom Initiative" and enlisted 83 churches in 30 states to help them in their cause. The initiative encourages pastors of all denominations to give political sermons from their pulpit as a form of civil disobedience. The ultimate goal is the provocation of a test case. If the IRS decides to drop the hammer on a rebelling church, the ADF will swoop in and attempt to take it all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting the laws overturned on a national scale. Does the ADF have realistic chance? Do their claims hold water? The short answer is "no." The long answer requires a crash course in tax law.

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