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More TAM London tickets available! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Phil Plait   
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 14:18
tamlondonsmallWhen the JREF opened up registration for TAM London (our critical thinking conference to be held on October 3-4 of this year), the response was literally overwhelming: the server and database both freaked out. Now that the dust has settled and we've confirmed how many people got tickets, we have a pleasant bit of news: more tickets are indeed available!

Rather than simply do a first-come-first-served offer, which can be biased towards some time zones over others, we have opted instead to have an email lottery. Here's the deal, as enumerated on the TAM London website:
1) Send an email to from the email address you wish you register. You don’t have to put anything in the email (unless you really want to), the subject and body won’t be read.
2) You will receive an automated response confirming you’ve been added to the database.
3) 25 email addresses will be chosen at random on Sunday 7th June. If yours is chosen, you will be notified by email no later than Monday 8th June 2009 with a link to buy a maximum of two tickets.
4) Your purchase link will expire after two weeks. If you have not made a purchase after that time, another email address will be drawn.
There's more info on the website, including terms and conditions, so PLEASE go there before sending in your email. This deadline is a little over a week away, so get cracking! And remember, you can keep up with TAML on Facebook, Twitter, and through RSS.
Kudos to Genie Scott, science leader! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:00

eugenie_ncseAt the JREF, we're pleased as punch to find out that National Center for Science Education executive director (and two-time TAM speaker) Genie Scott has been named by Scientific American as one of the leaders in science education today. This award, called the Scientific American 10, recognizes outstanding people "who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity."

On their page honoring her, they said:

Eugenie Scott has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates for keeping evolution an integral part of the curriculum in public schools in her role as head of the nonprofit National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

We at the JREF couldn't agree more. Genie, who spoke at TAMs 2 and 5, is a tireless defender of evolution and its teaching in the classroom. She and the NCSE have fought creationists in many states, and are in many ways responsible for keeping back the rising number of politicians trying to wedge religious teaching into the public school system.

But Wait! There's More! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 00:00

vince4You've seen your share of informercials: over-the-top claims, annoying announcers, and products that seem miraculous. Why do I know the name "Billy Mays"? Do I care who's pitching this stuff?

Anyway... what if skepticism was sold the same way? What if you turned on the History Channel at 4am, and found a pitchman selling critical thinking, science, and skepticism?

No, I don't think it will ever happen either, but the folks at Action Skeptic decided to play with the idea in their 111th Skeptics Circle.

Magic From Russia - How'd He Do That? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 00:00

We received an inquiry on the forum from Dmitry:

Looks like circus magic to me. Can you have your staff take a look at it and drop me a short message as to how it's done?

In this video from Russia, we see a man waving his claw-like hand, chanting, and burning things with no obvious explanation.

Why not turn this into a group activity? Watch the video (which is over 30 minutes long - well suited to fast forwarding) and consider how this man might be accomplishing this feat. I do not speak Russian, so I don't know what he's saying, but as I imagine what he's saying is misdirection, this is actually to my advantage.

Illusion/Delusion PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Monday, 25 May 2009 00:00

I recently attended a rather special conference at which was held the 2009 Best Illusion of the Year contest. There, I met Dr. Shen Lin, a mathematician, who soon solved one of my mentalism tricks, after some head-scratching and deep thought! At dinner that night, I also met Professor Thomas V. Papathomas, Director of the Laboratory of Vision Research with Rutgers University Department of Biomedical Engineering. He forwarded me an excellent illusion, to be viewed at YouTube. Take a look, and be amused and amazed!

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