Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, who is at the centre of a current fuss over federal funding cuts to research in that country, has been pressed by the media and by interested citizens to state - yes or no - whether or not he believes in one of the most basic findings of modern science, a constantly reconfirmed triumph of reason and research: evolution of species. He just flat-out won't say. There's a suspicion that Mr. Goodyear is suspicious of this aspect of science, perhaps because he's a creationist. Asked about those rumours, Mr. Goodyear said that "such conversations are not worth having." I think we'd strongly disagree on that ...
(I must say that I'm happy to see that President Obama's suggestion of making Sanjay Gupta the US Science & Technology boss, was not realized. The charismatic Gupta had the looks and smile for the job, and far better qualifications than Mr. Goodyear, but he withdrew his name after a heavy negative reaction resulted to his name being introduced. See this link for a few details...)
You should know that Mr. Goodyear, 51, is a chiropractor from Cambridge, Ontario, who studied chemistry and physics courses as an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, welding and automotive mechanics, statistics and kinesiology. Those are his total qualifications for the position which he now occupies.
Garrett Kennedy, a Counseling Psychologist-in-training at the University of Wolverhampton (UK) informs us that he's carrying out research in religious, spiritual and personal beliefs. Participation is through an online text-based survey and he would very much appreciate JREF visitors and Swift readers taking part. The survey is about how personal beliefs operate in times of stress and difficulty, and he's seeking as wide a range of participants as possible. You may be interested, and if so, more information can be found at http://www.psychologyandbelief.com. Please direct inquiries to Mr. Kennedy at that site.
This week, Randi reflects on some of the "amazing" things he's seen during his life. Inspired by the memory of his dear friend Jerry Andrus, Randi appreciates the wonders of science, history, and culture that he's experienced all around the world.
Learn where Randi has star gazed, whose corvette he spent time in, and who he expected to see during hurricane Wilma.
The JREF is quite an amazing organization in many ways - including, of course, that the organization's founder is, in fact, Amazing. One of the ways you may not have experienced, though, is the sense of close-knit fellowship found onboard the JREF hosted cruises, called The Amaz!ng Adventures. The Amaz!ng Adventures are different from The Amaz!ng Meeting in that the group is so much smaller, so much closer, and you never have an incident where you didn't actually say anything beyond "Hello" to someone you swore you'd hang out with (Sorry again, Loon).
Chasing El Chupacabra was the fourth cruise of the skeptical variety, and featured talks on the psychic industry, Mexican UFOs, and El Chupacabra (the Mexican goatsucker, who we were apparently chasing - though why anyone would actively follow a coyote with mange is a tad beyond me).
Recently, I interviewed D.J. Grothe, vice president and director of outreach programs for the Center for Inquiry, in a restaurant inside Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. At a nearby table, a group of fifteen or so men spoke in hushed tones. Sometimes they were entirely inaudible to me, and the only way I knew they spoke at all was by the movement of their lips. It was reminiscent of watching a group of government operatives taking lunch. But, to my knowledge, none of the men in the restaurant were government operatives. They were mentalists - mentalists attending Luke Jermay's Mentalism Workshop.
"It's not exactly a secret society," Grothe said, "but it is a society committed to keeping secrets."
I had never really thought of the secretive aspect of magic before. I mean, sure, mentalists aren't supposed to tell you how it's done, but I never envisioned a whisper-filled meeting that included celebrities like Teller, Max Maven, Eric Mead, and Jamy Ian Swiss. And, for something extra cool, Larry Fong, Director of Photography for 300 and Watchmen gave an excellent talk on story-telling.
I never saw any of the actual workshop - I assume because I'm not that cool - but Grothe was willing to fill me in on a few of the details: The event is, sadly for me, invitation only, and has a very small number of attendees. The one I visited was the fifth of its kind.