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HELP! PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Sunday, 08 November 2009 13:57

Years ago, I won a prize in a limerick contest sponsored by Isaac Asimov's magazine. The verse had to incorporate the name of a celestial constellation and deal with the future. I submitted two. This one won me the prize:

An angry young student from Reticulum,
Annoyed at their crazy curriculum,
Said, "They teach biorhythms, Ψ,
And a rational .
I hear Asimov's set to ridicule 'em."

(In case your Greek is a bit rusty, those letters are "psi" and "pi.")

Carl Sagan Day Live! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   
Saturday, 07 November 2009 15:10
The folks at are broadcasting Carl Sagan Day live from Fort Lauderdale. You can watch right at their site using UStream, the same technology we used at TAM 8. Join the chat room to discuss while you're viewing!
Why We Will Win PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Saturday, 07 November 2009 12:07

During an interview with a newspaper reporter recently, I was asked a common question: "Do you feel like we're losing the battle? That people are increasingly turning away from science and towards woo-woo?" And I answered, as I always answer, "No."

While it's true that the anti-vax movement could do some real harm to society, and that so-called Intelligent Design could make its way into text books, we have one thing going for us that they will never have.

But before I answer what that is, I have to define "we" and "they."

Ray Versus The Universe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sean Sturgeon   
Friday, 06 November 2009 11:37

Twenty five hundred years ago, the Chinese tactician Sun Tzu was a busy guy. He has a lot more free time now, but it was crazy back in the day. When not jotting poems about his kitties onto bamboo strips and ribbing Confucius for being "too preachy," Sun Tzu managed to churn out his masterpiece The Art of War. That book contains the following axiom:

Know your enemy and know yourself, and win a hundred battles without a single loss.


At least I assume that's what it contains. I've never even been able to get beyond the second chapter (that's the one on Bo Staff maintenance) without nodding off. Honestly, I only even remember the line because it was in an episode of Star Trek. But whether it's a military genius or one of the few actors to share the screen with both Captain Picard and Matlock, it's still good advice.

Good advice should be followed and not ignored. Yes Ray Comfort, I'm looking at you.

When Antiscience Kills: Dowsing for Bombs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 13:39

We at the JREF are no fans of pseudoscience, as you may imagine. Dowsing is a practice that falls squarely in that field. It's the idea that you can detect an object -- usually water, but sometimes gold, or people, or whatever -- using a y-shaped branch, or copper tubes, or some other simple device. Dowsers never really have a good explanation of how their devices work, but they tend to claim 100% accuracy.

However, the JREF has tested dowsers many, many times as part of our Million Dollar Challenge. Not to keep you in suspense, but the money still sits in the bank. In other words, time and again, the dowsers fail. When a real, double-blind, statistical test is given, dowsers fail. Every single time.

That's all well and good, and you might think it's just another silly idea that nonsense-believers adhere to despite evidence. If someone wants to waste their money on a dowser, well, caveat emptor.

But what if your life depended on it? What if thousands of lives depended on it?

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