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Science Vs. Faith Healing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 00:00

If you watch late night TV, you might see the likes of Peter Popoff or Benny Hinn "healing" people on the stage. They'll throw away their crutches, pill bottles, and glasses, and praise Jesus for healing them. You'll never see an amputee on the stage though, because apparently God hates amputees.

I doubt you'll ever see someone with a debilitating neurological disease such as the devastating Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." You see, you simply can't fake a cure for that.

But with science, you might be able to have an actual cure.

New Server Online PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   
Monday, 23 February 2009 15:07

Welcome to our shiny new server! You should notice a huge improvement in performance as this new machine has more of everything.

We need to thank volunteer Terry Heatlie for devoting his entire weekend to the server move, as well as for helping maintain things year round. He's one of the special people without whom the JREF couldn't function. Thank you, Terry.

A Response to Laura's Comments PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Saturday, 21 February 2009 00:00

A few days ago, I published this article, which was as much rant as commentary. I was upset at the seemingly endless stream of psychics offering their "gifts" to the world, while actually just getting in the way.

A Swift reader by the name of Laura took issue with my article. I shall address her comments after each paragraph break.

She said:

Where do I start.....oh yeah, looks like YOUR site "James" takes donations. Trying to make money off of bullying people and their beliefs? I guess so. Well, anyhow, the way you seemed to "cut and paste" certain excerpts from their site to read the way YOU want it to sound is so "media like"...good job, heh. Here is a great idea...IF YOU DON'T LIKE or BELIEVE IN WHAT SOMEONE HAS ON THE INTERNET, THEN DON'T READ IT! Or, if you just happen to read it and don't like it.....SHUT UP! (those were your words right? Hope I don't get in trouble for plagiarism).

The One Cent Problem PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Friday, 20 February 2009 00:00

At the JREF, we have a few things in a shop online. No, this article isn't a plug for our store. Instead, I'd like to foster comment on an issue that I've found major disagreement on in the skeptical community. And that is: is it ethical to charge $99.99 for something?

At first glance, the answer is yes. You can charge whatever you want for your products. But consider the impact of $99.99 versus the $100.00. Even though there's a difference of only one cent, or 1/10,000th of the original price, studies show that more people will buy at $99.99 than at $100.00. The second figure seems much bigger.

For gasoline in the US, this manipulation is carried to the impossible level of 10ths of a cent. I paid $1.799 for a gallon of gas today, which rang up as $1.80 as it's impossible to pay fractions of cents in this country and the amount is rounded up. The 9/10ths of a cent is there only to make the price look lower than it actually is.

Given that the 1¢ is probably not the breaking point in a financial decision, what is? It seems obvious that it's psychology, and that people aren't really thinking about the price so much as having emotion about it.

Bad and Good Stars in the Sky PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 00:00

wmPuerto Rico's 76-year-old Walter Mercado is a fixture on Univision's popular Spanish-language show "Primer Impacto." If you've never seen his show, I'd spoil the experience for you by describing it. It may be enough for you to know that he has a doctorate in Divinity from the International Philo-Byzantine Academy & University, in 1969 he was inducted as a Universal Teacher in Poona, Bombay, in Tibet and Nepal he holds the title of Chela and Buddhist Bikku, he has been a minister of the California Christian Brotherhood since 1970, and he also has a doctorate in Divine Healing from Tokyo, Japan. On top of all that, Walter is an astrologer. Wow!

It seems that the flamboyant Liberace-costumed astrologer had the right stars aligned this week when a federal jury found that though he improperly broke his contract with his former management companies, he did not have to pay the millions of dollars they sought from him for lost profits and damages. Mercado's astonished attorney said he never had a jury find that a client broke contractual obligations but owed nothing.

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