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Imaginary Birds and Ghosts PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Monday, 22 December 2008 00:00

ghostslightsPareidolia takes many different forms. It’s the tendency of certain individuals to see images of animals or faces in clouds, to perceive shapes where there are none, or to hear hidden messages in recordings when they’re played in reverse. Another currently popular variety of this delusion is the “orbs” craze that we handled several places here on SWIFT. To refresh your data-base on such matters, see www.randi.org/jr/051002.html and do a search on the word “conditioner” to bring up the item. Then go to www.randi.org/jr/051702.html and search for “opinion” for the specific item. There are many more – 70+ – “orb” references in SWIFT archives.

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Yes, Another Wrist-Slap PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Saturday, 20 December 2008 12:00

Back in March, I called attention to the farce known as “Airborne” – as well as the look-alike product that Walgreen Pharmacies offer the naïve, a deliberate ripoff to take advantage of Airborne’s heavy popularity and to get some share of that loot that might otherwise escape them. The Airborne manufacturer misrepresented its product as a cold remedy without – of course – offering any scientific evidence to back up that claim, and also implied that the product was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. Now, Airborne will pay $23,300,000 to settle allegations by state attorneys general that it made false claims about its product. As a part of the settlement, they had to agree to discontinue their ads about the effects, health benefits, and safety of Airborne.

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Gnome Hunters PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   
Thursday, 18 December 2008 18:12
GNOME HUNTERS: A Demonstration

 

I was recently asked to write an article for a group of paranormal investigators about how skeptics view believers. I pointed out that, not being psychic, I cannot possibly know what all skeptics think of all believers. But I did come up with the following example, which I think helps demonstrate the skeptical position. Skeptics, you might find this example eerily familiar. I hope that you enjoy it, and that if you come across any Gnome Hunters in the future, you might be able to use it to illustrate why certain claims are difficult to believe.

One day, you are hanging out in a book store. You bump into a man who is buying some books, and wind up talking to him for a while. You find out that the man has a hobby – every time he visits a new place, he scans the area with a special Gnome Finder that he has designed himself. In reality, the Gnome Finder is a calculator. When the man finds out about a place that is rumored to be full of gnomes (which are, of course, invisible), the man takes his calculator/Gnome Finder to the location and puts in a simple math problem; like 2+2. Every time the man gets a wrong answer, he knows that gnomes are around because gnomes hate math and they block all right answers to illustrate that fact.

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The Power of the Pig PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Richard Saunders   
Saturday, 20 December 2008 00:00

pigasusInventing Origami Pigasus for Mr. Randi was a real pleasure. I promised him I would at least try to create the flying pig as we cruised around Alaska in 2007 on the Amaz!ng Adventure. I could never have known, (what am I a ‘psychic'?) that the little piggy would become so popular.

I am thrilled when other people fold Pigasus and well remember having my socks knocked off at TAM 6 upon seeing a table full of them as a result of the efforts of JREF Forum member ‘Kochanski'.

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Tong Ren - Hitting Voodoo Dolls with a Hammer PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   
Sunday, 21 December 2008 00:00

Just when you think you've seen it all... A Massachusetts acupuncturist, Tom Tam, has invented a new treatment method he calls Tong Ren, claiming to cure terminal cancer and other serious illnesses by hitting dolls with a hammer. The dolls are plastic acupuncture figurines inscribed with acupuncture meridians and points.

The hammering supposedly focuses "intent" on the proper acupuncture points on an energetic equivalent of the patient's body and harnesses universal consciousness for healing.

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