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Another Appreciative Reader PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Tuesday, 08 September 2009 00:00

I've heard from Gerardo, a reader in Costa Rica, which he describes as "the most beautiful land in the world, a tropical paradise with no army and sometimes, no shame either." He writes:

[I'm] an aspiring critical thinker from Costa Rica... As one of the last confessional estates in the Western hemisphere, the Nation of Costa Rica is Catholic, Apostolic and Roman. We are a state (funny, don't you think?) that worships hundreds of lesser gods commonly known as saints, a virgin, a ghost, a resurrected crucified man and a misogynist god  Many people are very proud of this, but there are always a few dissenters.

We are trying to fix that national error.

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Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Monday, 07 September 2009 00:00

Please forgive me if I hammer once again at this theme, but I see that just this month, the prestigious Mayo Clinic has issued a lengthy report that stresses the importance of not accepting "alternative medicine treatments ranging from herbal remedies to acupuncture" simply because they have become more popular and offer more options, cautioning that these treatments aren't always proven safe or effective. The report asks that people "Be open-minded yet skeptical of medical claims." While I certainly agree with this advice, and it's stated in an appropriately caring, polite, and skeptical fashion, I'm somewhat alarmed to see that the report also contains:

With any alternative treatment you consider, find out if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor and do research on your own before trying any treatment.

With due deference to the authority of the Mayo Clinic, I will state that I have met - quite recently - fully-qualified, licensed, practicing physicians who have endorsed or at least tolerated various aspects of quackery - especially acupuncture. Though innocently presented, such professional opinions originate in benign ignorance. Never assume malice when incompetence will do.

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Waldorf Salad: Biodynamic Farming PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Travis Roy   
Saturday, 05 September 2009 00:00

I recently happened to catch a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth, entitled "Biodynamics: The Next Green Wine." The nearly nine minute segment focused on what biodynamics is, why it is being used in the wine industry, what sets it apart from organic and, of course, how it affects the products.

Biodynamic farming was introduced by Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf schools) in 1924 in response to farmers complaints about degraded soil conditions and health of crops and livestock due to the use of chemical fertilizers. It capitalizes on one of the biggest misconceptions about organic farming, namely that farming organically forgoes chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

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My Admittedly Acerbic Observation... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Friday, 04 September 2009 00:00

rat-zingerThe former Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI - now claims that atheism is responsible for the destruction of the environment. In a speech at the Vatican on Wednesday, wearing his nice dress and funny hat, Ratzinger asked his spellbound audience:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the "final authority," and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

In answer to your question: No, Joe, it is not true. You are deluded, in this as in so much of what you think and say.

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A Sea Monster is Born PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Barbara Mervine   
Thursday, 03 September 2009 00:00

118The Lake Franklin Pierce alligator is a myth in the making.  Today, just a joke but tomorrow and for generations to come, a lake monster!  How does a lake monster myth start?  In this case, most of us that live on Lake Franklin Pierce in Antrim New Hampshire found out about our alligator when we read the headline in the local free newspaper,  "The Villager". The June 11,2009 edition got our attention with the headline, "Possible Alligator Spied in Pierce Lake".

The article went on to tell the tale of Ray and Richard Grimard.  They were fishing from the deck of the local hydro electric plant when they spotted an alligator.  Despite the doubts of Dave Walsh a Fish and Game Conservation Officer, the rumor of an alligator in "our" lake spread like wildfire in the lake community.  I can see the hydro plant from the dock of my lake cabin.  I often see Ray and Richard and others fishing from the deck of the plant.  It should be noted the "plant" is a small white building that appears to have seen better days.  It's about the size of a trailer home.  I usually kayak by and often wave at the guys fishing.

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