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The Politics Article PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Thursday, 25 June 2009 00:00

Recently, I was criticizing a ridiculous interview of John Edward by Sean Hannity. I made small fun of FoxNews, which caused a few commenters to accuse me of hypocrisy and being a “lib,” whatever that is. Some went so far as to suggest that I and the JREF had a deeply liberal agenda.

To quote Sherman T. Potter: horse hockey.

First, to be clear, the JREF has no political stance whatsoever. We will criticize those that ignore scientific inquiry and praise those who embrace it, regardless of party. As a non-profit, we’re not permitted to endorse particular candidates or parties, and we have not done so. In the past few weeks, I have been critical of many media sources, including MSNBC, ABCNews, and yes, FoxNews.

Anyone investigating my personal political contributions on the Internet, will discover that I donated money to the campaign of Hal Bidlack, a friend of mine for some years now. I gave him a donation because I know him to be a man of honor, and I feel there are far too few of them in our government. I would have donated the money to his campaign regardless of his party, though he happens to be a Democrat. When I lived in Virginia, I registered as a Republican to support the campaign of James Burton, another man I believe would improve our government.

I am a political independent, and I don’t know what party affiliations other JREF employees have, if any. I vote based on the issues of the day, and I care not for party. That disclosed, I have a more important message to convey: skepticism is not compatible with politics.

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Creating A Monster PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 00:00

japaneseghostI was at a meetup.com dinner recently with about a dozen people that I’d never met before. When we went around the table telling what we did for a living, my response garnered some attention.

“Are you a ghost hunter?”

“Er, well… no, not exactly.. you see…”

“I saw a ghost once.”

“That’s very interesting, but what I do at the JREF is…”

And so it went. This is not an unusual exchange, and I’m not annoyed in the least. Often, such awkward openings lead to something more interesting, and that was the case here.

An Asian man approached me and said something very interesting:

“Ghosts are cultural.”

Though his English was quite good, I didn’t understand what he meant.

“Do you mean ghosts only exist because they’re socially constructed?”

“In Japan, ghosts have no legs. In the US, they do.”

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Help Re-establish the Herd Immunity of Nevada! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Joe Albietz   
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 00:00

tamyspeakeralbietzTAM 7 is fast approaching and those of you who have already signed up may have noticed something a bit different at the bottom of the registration page.  This year the JREF is working with the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) to provide vaccinations for the children in Nevada.

Nevada has one of the worst vaccination rates in the nation.  The reasons are multifactorial.  Though there is a significant fraction of children who remain unvaccinated because of the distrust of vaccine safety spread by the current anti-vaccination movement, lack of health insurance, a large transitory population, and poverty (Las Vegas unemployment is now over 10%) also play a large role in its dismal vaccination rate.

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Identified Flying Objects PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Monday, 22 June 2009 00:00

Belief is a powerful and frightening force. It defies evidence, logic, and reason. It is not to be trusted. A prime example of that was brought to my attention by the site weirdthings.com, which offers many such ponderances.

An hour south of Washington, DC, mysterious rings have been observed floating above the King's Dominion amusement park. Visible for up to 15 minutes, they seem to hover in place and then move on their own accord. They're unlike any aircraft built by man. They're so unique, that they've been reported by CNN. One witness, Deena Smith, wondered if it was the end of the world. A UFO investigator says that it's similar to a UFO seen in the 50's.

And yet, we have everything we need to solve this mystery.

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A Marmite Mystery? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Sunday, 21 June 2009 00:00

marmiteMarmite is a yeast paste favored by Brits and Aussies, but somewhat shunned in the states. Having actually tried the stuff, I do wonder how folks can enjoy it. But then again, I like peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches, and I understand that marshmallow creme is a rather American phenomenon.

And though I've opened exactly one lid of marmite and countless dozens of lids of marshmallow creme, I can't say that I ever noticed anything quite as noteworthy as that which Claire Allen discovered on the lid of her marmite jar as she made lunch for her four year old son.

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