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Randi Speaks: Why Do We Still Believe? PDF Print E-mail
James Randi Speaks
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   
Monday, 30 March 2009 10:25

Many years ago, learned people realized that the masses believed many things that weren't true. Why do they still? Many years ago, learned people realized that the masses believed many things that weren't true. Why do they still? In this week's edition, Randi discusses a vist to the first "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" Museum, chopping off Alice Cooper's head, and The Madness of Crowds.

To leave a comment, please visit YouTube.

 
Jenny McCarthy's Body of Work PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   
Friday, 03 April 2009 00:00

mccarthybodycountJenny McCarthy is well-known as an actress and something of a bawdy comedian. But her fame is growing in less elevated circles: she's an outspoken promoter of the anti-vaccination movement. Her claims that vaccines cause (or contribute to) autism are nothing short of breathtakingly ridiculous. It's why she won our 2008 Pigasus Award.

Medical doctors Orac and Steve Novella have written extensively about her, as has Skeptical Dad, and the Stop Jenny McCarthy site was created to expose her as the danger she is.

But the bar has been set even higher now: a new website has been created called Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Stark and grim, it has one purpose: to show how many preventable illnesses and preventable deaths have occurred due to unvaccinated people since Jenny McCarthy became the de facto face of the antivaccination movement. The website, created by skeptic Derek Bartholomaus, stops short of saying she is directly responsible for these illnesses and deaths, but her indirect responsibility is arguably relevant.

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Report from Phoenix Skepticamp PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Thursday, 02 April 2009 00:00

Don Lacey, known to chat room and forumites as AZAtheist, recently attended the Phoenix SkeptiCamp. I'll let him tell the story:

The meeting was held in Discovery Hall on the Arizona State University Campus with about 20 people attending. This was the fifth SkeptiCamp based on a conference concept called BarCamp which Reed Esau adopted for Skeptics. Obviously, Jim had put a lot of work into making this SkeptiCamp happen. Due to the sponsorship from Skeptics Society/Skeptic magazine, James Randi Educational Foundation, and Center for Skeptical Inquiry/Skeptical Inquirer magazine, the cost was free. Actually, it was better than free. In addition to the free T-shirts, there were books and magazines available for all the participants.

Jim Lippard began by talking about SkeptiCamp. The first rule of SkeptiCamp is that you talk about SkeptiCamp. BarCamp has 8 rules and the skeptics' version adds 9th rule: "Prepare to back up all stated claims."

There was a live blog being recorded by Tony Barnhart (Magic Tony); replay it and catch all the comments from the Blogosphere that occurred during the meeting.

Notable attendees included: Michael A. Stackpole of the Phoenix Skeptics on "Practical Techniques for Street Skepticism," John Lynch on "Academic Freedom and Intelligent Design," and Tony Barnhart on "Methods of the Pseudo-Psychic."

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TIger Woods Interferes With Dennis Lee Show PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 19:05

Our good friend Ernie brings to our attention this note he got from NBC regarding the scheduled broadcast of a Dateline investigation into Dennis Lee, a man who claims he can generate free electricity.

Thanks for writing to us about our scheduled Dateline NBC "Financial Fiasco" broadcast last Sunday.

NBC's live coverage of the rain-delayed golf tournament (Tiger Woods came from 5 strokes back to win on the final hole!) pre-empted Dateline in the East and Central time zones.

So, a back-up show ran in the West, and the full "Financial Fiasco" hour has been re-scheduled for this Sunday, April 5, at 7pm Eastern/ 6pm Central.

We hope you'll be able to join us then.

Sincerely,

Steve Eckert
Producer
Dateline NBC

So those of you who were looking forward to watching it last week can blame Tiger Woods. Those who thought they missed.... you owe Tiger a beer.

 
Pigasus Awards for 2008 Announced PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Phil Plait   
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 07:55

250px-pigasusaward

Every year, on the appropriate date of April 1, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) gives out the Pigasus Awards, a dubious honor to people or organizations that have done their best in the past year to snuff out science and promote irrationality. The award is named after the beloved mascot of the JREF because, after all, when paranormal powers are proven, pigs will fly.

The five categories of the Pigasus Award are:

1. To the Scientist who said or did the silliest thing relating to occult, supernatural, or paranormal subjects in the preceding twelve months.

2. To the Funding Organization that supports the most useless study related to the occult, supernatural, or paranormal during the year.

3. To the Media outlet that reported as fact the most outrageous occult, supernatural, or paranormal claim.

4. To the Performer who fooled the greatest number of people with the least effort in that twelve-month period.

5. For the most persistent refusal to face reality.

This year's (dis)honorees are:

1) Dr. Colin Ross, who claims he can shoot electromagnetic radiation from his eyes;

2) The Producers of the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed";

3) Late night cable TV stations;

4) Jenny McCarthy; who has written books and appeared on countless TV shows promoting measles; and

5) Kevin Trudeau; who sold quack books even after the government fined him for it.

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