JREF Senior Fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, "The Honest Liar," presents JREF’s newest video series, aptly titled The Honest Liar. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims.
In this installment of The Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss recounts a tale of years gone by when he and his friend and skeptical colleague, psychologist Ray Hyman, appeared on radio along with a channeler, and the talking spirit of a 6th-century Irishman who spoke English and offered career advice to callers. HONEST!
The Amazing Meeting 2014 will be held at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, July 10th – 13th, 2014. More details will be announced soon so check back here and at amazingmeeting.com in the weeks ahead for more details on the event and to register.
In the meantime, please enjoy some new videos from last year's TAM below.
As of August 30, 2012, eBay discontinued auctions for witchcraft, psychics, and other metaphysical services. This decision was made in light of the difficulty in resolving disputes regarding these transactions, not because they don’t work! At any rate, this project hasn’t been entirely successful, and eBay continues to sell objects used in these rituals, such as crystals, herbs, incense and jewelry. One category that also survived is Collectibles - Religion & Spirituality, which is legitimate for the sales of medals and statues but is also an avenue for the sale of relics connected to Christian mystics. Current listings include a locket of hair supposedly from Saint Bernadette, to whom the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared at Lourdes in 1858. For a mere $3,600 you can buy a bandage that apparently bound Padre Pio’s stigmata.
Last week, on January 23rd, one Thom Nickels, identified as a “Philadelphia-based author/journalist,” contributed a piece on Huffington Post entitled “The Most Talented Psychic in Philadelphia.” Perhaps it should have been attributed to the most credulous “author/journalist” in Philadelphia.
Mr. Nickels is obviously a big fan of his proclaimed friend and the subject of his story, Arlene Ostapowicz. In the course of his breathless narrative, Mr. Nickels recounts that:
Ms. Ostapowicz “… has been a guest on many television and radio shows,” although the only specific show mentioned is one in which she was allegedly invited to appear on but declined.
“In the 1980s, [Ostapowicz] was in high demand with [Philadelphia] City Hall politicians and judges.”
I’m feeling self-absorbed today. I want to talk about how skepticism helps me, me, ME.
Don’t get ME wrong. I concede that not just I, but the whole of humankind stands to benefit from a skeptical approach. But sometimes my Inner Activist needs a rest. It is then that I pause to revel in the ways skepticism benefits my paltry life, mine alone, the rest of the world be damned. Here are four examples. I’m sure many of you have your own examples, which I hope you will share in Comments.
Example First: Skepticism saves me money.
I had a favorite brand of barbecue sauce. Whenever it chanced to set foot in my mouth, my taste buds greeted it by standing up and singing hymns. One day I picked up a considerably cheaper brand, just to compare. Sure enough, it proved not as good. But thanks to skepticism, I knew a thing or two about how easily we fool ourselves. I wondered, “How would James Randi test this?” I took out two spoons and poured a dollop in each. Good so far, except skepticism had also taught me the value of a blind test. How was I going to manage that on my own? Here serendipity intervened. I received a phone call. By the time the call ended, I couldn’t remember which spoon held which sauce. I sampled them both … and could taste no difference. My taste buds now stand and sing for Brand X, and my wallet joins in.