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The Dark Side of Religion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bart Farkas   
Saturday, 22 August 2009 00:00

Without question most religions function within a framework that is fundamentally good, with much of the focus of teachings boiling down to being good to your fellow man (or woman) and being a decent person. But one has to be either naïve or in deep denial to think that there isn't a dark side to religions. Indeed, those jets flying into the twin towers had a religious component, and the Olympic bombing in Atlanta had a religious component, as did the tragedy in Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, scores of abortion clinic bombings and nearly all of the conflict in the Middle East. To be sure, I'm not blaming these actions exclusively on religion, because it's people that do these things, not the religion itself. That said, religion does play a role in these events and the problem occurs when people interpret religion in such a way that it denigrates a particular group of people or encourages violence.

Skeptics with Appeal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Monday, 24 August 2009 00:00

We've had some wins and losses in the past year for skepticism. Some of these -- on both sides -- have been pretty big. Two of our big losses, for example, were Simon Singh's denial of his appeal to overturn an absurd UK libel ruling, and the firing of Chris Comer who did the horrifying act of trying to alert people about a science talk in Texas.

It turns out, the news may yet turn around for our two allies.

It Just Won't End PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Friday, 21 August 2009 00:00

I continue to be appalled at the American Cancer Society [ACS] embrace of quackery. This is a gentle, somewhat tentative embrace, but any seeming acceptance by authority lends validity to any form of nonsense, and medical science - which the ACS purports to represent - is poorly served in sites I have been looking into.

I have before me literature from the ACS which provided me with a phone number whereby I could obtain more information on subjects that interest me. I called that number and spoke with a very pleasant and cooperative woman who referred me to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network [NCCN] where I found, the "Consumer website of the NCCN," and a current article headed, "Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation."

I must explain.

Proudly Flaunting Ignorance PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Thursday, 20 August 2009 00:00

verizonThere seems to be no limit to the willingness of ignorant people to demonstrate their lack of understanding.  This example shows how abysmally some folks at Verizon failed at simple 4th-grade-level arithmetic.  Go to and hear part of a telephone discussion between a customer and the Verizon geniuses concerning a billing item. This incredible exchange runs just over 3 minutes. I suggest you first listen to this, then return here...  Go!

A good question for the Verizon geniuses could have been, "Is 100% of a cent the same amount as 100% of a dollar?"  If their answer were "No," follow that with "Is .002 percent of a cent the same amount as .002 percent of a dollar?"  The answer to both questions has to be the same...

A B Kovacs is leaving the JREF PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Phil Plait   
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 13:13

We are sad to announce that A B Kovacs, our Director of Operations, is leaving the JREF. During her tenure with us she has worked tirelessly and with devotion to further the cause of the JREF, but sometimes outside events intervene.

A B was and will remain a great friend to the JREF and to the skeptical movement. She prepared a short statement for our community:

For the past 7 months, I have truly enjoyed my time as the Director of Operations for the JREF. I especially liked TAM7 planning with the team and getting to know some of you much better.  Some of you may know that to take on the role of Director of Operations, I became a partner in a fledgling business called Audacity Events.  This enabled me to work with the JREF and still meet the needs of my family. Unexpectedly, Audacity Events has taken off and for the past few months, I have been torn between my role at the JREF and my role as a business owner.   If time were not an issue, and it became possible for me to work 3 full time jobs, I would be able to maintain the level of commitment to the JREF that the skeptic community deserves.  However, time is an issue, and I find that my non-JREF responsibilities are taking up more time than I anticipated.

As a skeptic, the JREF has been and will continue to be very important to me. However, as a business owner, my life is going in a slightly different direction. After much discussion with Phil, we have mutually decided that it is best for both the JREF and for me that I focus on Audacity.  I will continue as both a member of the JREF community and a fan of the organization. I do hope that I will see you all both here on the Forum and over at!

While we're unhappy to see her go, we hope for the best for her, and will always look forward to seeing her at skeptical events in the future.

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