The "complimentary and alternative medicine" business brings in some $34 billion a year in direct out-of-pocket spending from American consumers. The budget of the US National Institutes of Health - a major Federal agency - is not available to the average person, it seems. Looking in on the Internet for a simple dollar figure produces no results that I can find. A direct search for a "$" sign reports no hits...
My attention has been brought to this strange situation since I recently came into possession of a 62-page full-color booklet produced and distributed by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. This comprehensive publication - in its "Words To Know" glossary, begins with a definition of what is possibly the only form of quackery that outranks homeopathy for idiocy: acupuncture. It reads:
Acupuncture (AK-yoo-PUNK-cher): The technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Other literature issued by the NCI runs on and on about how ancient this idea is, that it is used in China, and how it's administered. Does it work?
We can post article after article, lecture, jump up an down and point to all the evidence in the world. But sometimes... all that's needed is a pithy comedian to set the record straight.
Dara O'Briain is such a man, and these six minutes encompass the mission of the JREF and other skeptical organizations succinctly and with hillarity.
The language is a bit rougher than you'd find on American broadcast television, so if you're offended by that type of thing, you might not enjoy this. For the rest of us, it's a treat. Direct link is found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIaV8swc-fo
As part 2 to the follow up to the now infamous Denny's article, I asked Hal Bidlack if I could republish a piece he did in 2003. Instead, he sent this, which encompasses a more up-to-date understanding from him. Hal's voice is not the only voice, but he IS representative of the some of the people involved with the JREF. He has served on the Board of Directors, and has spoken, performed, and hosted at every single Amaz!ng Meeting and an Amaz!ng Adventure or two. His Wikipedia entry is here. Please consider what he has to say. You can also listen at this Skepticality link (scroll down to episode 57 from July 2007.) - Jeff Wagg
As a person who has spent quite a bit of time in recent years working on promoting the skeptical movement, I am troubled by the degree to which I now find myself feeling pushed away from that very thing. In a society in which religious belief, particularly in recent years, has intruded significantly on individual choice and freedom, I have ironically chosen to align myself with a segment of society least accepting on issues of faith.
My recent article about Denny's has once again called into question the JREF's stance on Atheism. Rather than go through the issue again, I'm going to post two past Swift articles, one today and one tomorrow, that demonstrate how skepticism - as the JREF sees it - can be a big tent.
On July 25th, 2003, six years and one day before I published my Denny's article, James Randi had this to say about religion. You will note that he says that atheism is normally outside the matters that the JREF handles. - Jeff Wagg
Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I'm a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright - by James Randi
Last year, we announced that the MDC would end in March 2010 due to the strains on time and effort of the JREF staff. However, after much discussion, we have decided not to terminate the Challenge. Instead, we are in the process of examining how it can be improved, streamlined, and made more efficient so that we can continue to use it to test claims of the paranormal.
However, we haven't made any final decisions about it yet; we're taking our time and making sure we do this right. When next March comes around we will roll out the new and improved Million Dollar Challenge. So never fear! We will continue to test the claims and examine the evidence, and we will always strive to ensure that reality - as it usually tends to do - wins out.