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We Provide The Tool, Use It Correctly PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Thursday, 10 September 2009 00:00

This is not a new video, but it needs to be brought to our attention once again as it demonstrates that tools are ineffective if they're not used properly.

In this video you'll see Glenn Beck interviewing John Edward, and it starts off great. "Could you sleep at night knowing if you weren't on the up and up?" asks Glenn, and we're hopeful as we watch John Edward squrim. And then comes the question - why won't you take the JREF Million Dollar Challenge?

And the answer tells us a lot.

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Eternal Vigilance PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 00:00

A year ago, Randi finished off a succesful attack on a device that was a swindle at best, and a killer at worst. That device, "Sniffex," was a divining rod purported by its marketers to detect explosives. (Not to be confused with SniffEx, a scientific – and functioning – sensor.)

Sadly, another troll has taken residence under the bridge.

Visit NPR and take a look at the picture there. Yes, that's a soldier holding a divining rod. It's looking for bombs, and it's going to get people killed.

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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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