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TAM London news: bad and good PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Phil Plait   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 10:45

We have some bad news and some good news for TAM London, which will be held at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre in London on 3-4 October 2009.

Tim MinchinFirst, the good news: the Australian singer/comedian Tim Minchin will be joining our lineup! Tim wrote the brilliant and hilarious beat poem "Storm" - about a dinner encounter with a believer of woo - which swept through the skeptical community a few months ago. His music is skeptical in nature and very, very funny. He's extremely popular and very busy, so we're thrilled he will appear at TAM London.

Next, the not-so-good news: Professor Richard Dawkins can no longer attend due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict. Richard is a great friend of the JREF and we're saddened he cannot make it, but because he is such a friend he has very generously offered to give us a DVD of a television program he presented on BBC Four. A copy of this DVD will be given free of charge to every TAM London attendee.

We understand how popular Richard is - we like him, too! - and if this changes your plans to attend TAM London, we understand. Please contact us at; we do have a refund policy in place.

We apologize for this inconvenience, but we continue striving to make TAM London the skeptical event in the UK. And stay tuned: there's more information coming, too!

More Ghosts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 00:00

It's an old fort, people died there, so it must be haunted. That's the take of at least a few people about the ironically named Fort Caspar in Wyoming.

Manager Rick Young was asked if he thought the fort was haunted. From the Casper Star-Tribune:

"I don't know," he said, "but we've certainly had weird stuff happening. ... There's certainly a lot of history, and a lot of violent history on this land."

Dan Aykroyd and His Conan Doyle Problem PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ian Morris   
Monday, 01 June 2009 00:00

On May 28, 2009, The New York Times published an article on the new Ghostbusters video game. It looks fun:  However, this esteemed journalistic entity felt the need to spend its first few paragraphs discussing Dan Aykroyd’s “family’s supernatural bona fides” before moving along to the game itself.  As Alison Smith wrote a few months ago in SWIFT, Aykroyd is so devoted to woo-woo that he advertised a vodka based on the “thirteen crystal skulls” supposedly created in Atlantis (  His passion for woo-woo may be exacerbated by the fact that he has what I call a Conan Doyle problem.

I Like Your Art, But Your Morals Suck PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Sunday, 31 May 2009 00:00


Yankee Tavern is a new play by a Texan named Steven Dietz, and it’s worth a few moments of skeptical appraisal. In it, a young couple in New York find themselves swept up in a vast, dangerous government conspiracy. Terrified and confused, they are also incredulous: they are reasonable people, and know that vast and dangerous government conspiracies do not exist. Nevertheless, the play ends with one of them disappearing en route to visit an old college professor — who may be a conspirator herself.

When I spoke to one of the show’s actors, I was informed that this is merely “one possible interpretation.” But I could find no other. It was plain to me that in the universe of the play, the government conspiracy was unambiguously real. Which would be fine if the conspiracy in question had nothing to do with 9/11. Unfortunately, Yankee Tavern is very much about 9/11.

Good Advice PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Saturday, 30 May 2009 00:00

clAs always, this last Wednesday was the last-Wednesday-of-the-month Open House here at the JREF. We had a full attendance of the usual friends, visitors, merely curious, and undecided, some even from out of state, who drop by at 7 in the evening to exchange ideas and opinions. Following this last meeting, one of our regulars, Collin Leach, dropped me this note, which I thought you should see. Collin is a professional massage therapist who has studied many techniques of his trade, and has travelled all over the world for that purpose. He first showed up here years ago at our door to present a problem he'd encountered - that most of his teachers in various cultures insisted on having heavy woo-woo as part of their instructions; Collin was unable to merely ignore these fripperies, since in order to obtain certification in a therapy, he had to go along with the teachers. Since taking these techniques into his repertoire, he has been able to omit the woo-woo in his practice and get down to the valued procedures that he knows work so well.

Collin has worked his magic (did I just say that?) on my ailing frame, and the word exhilaration only begins to describe it...

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