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Alien to Logic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 00:00

I am frequently asked if I believe in aliens and UFOs. I shock most people by saying "Yes, and no." Alien life, somewhere in the Universe? Sure! But flying saucers whizzing by Earth, stopping just long enough to trample our wheat stalks and to pose for blurry photos?

Nope.

My friend David Mosher over at Discovery Channel's blog collective asked me to write up my thoughts on this, and I obliged. Pardon this rather rude redirect, but you can read my thoughts over there.

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Facts are Facts PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Wednesday, 26 November 2008 00:00

Asteroid RandiI’m a rationalist.  I depend on evidence, not rumors, and not blind faith.  A recent matter has come to my attention, and needs a definitive statement. The International Astronomical Union is the group internationally recognized to have the authority to name astronomical entities – such as moon craters and stars – that other fly-by-night, totally invented, commercially-designed agencies only purport to have. They sell craters and novae to just anyone, but when the IAU assigns a name, that's official!

A few readers have been chortling over the fact that asteroid 3163 Randi – formerly known as 1981 QM – has now been joined by rocks named in honor of P. Z. Myers, Rebecca Watson, Mike Stackpole, and even JREF president Phil Plait! Now, these folks obviously have their rights to fame, but my enjoyment of this honor is somewhat dimmed by the fact that asteroids are being so easily handed out, left and right…

Mind you, luminaries such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Martin Gardner – in whose collective reflected glory I often revel – have their own assigned asteroids, too, but I searched about for some aspect of this process in which I might find some specific relief, particularly in respect to JREF associates.

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Being a Friendly Heretic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Richard Saunders   
Friday, 28 November 2008 00:00

richard on set 002aIn 1980 I sat in front of the TV to watch a popular talk show of the time, 'The Don Lane Show'. On this particular night one of Don's guests was a visiting skeptic from America, one James Randi. I had never heard of James Randi and to me he was just another guest. I'm sure most of you will now know of this famous interview, it's repeated every year here in Australia and has become a great moment in Australian television history. Don Lane become so angry at James Randi (as Randi dared to suggest that people like Doris Stokes and Uri Geller may not be really using 'psychic' powers) that he swept Randi's props off the table and said, "… and you can piss off!" and stormed off the set. I, like most viewers, sided with Don Lane. How could this little magician come on national TV and say those terrible things? I really thought at the time that ghosts, psychics, monsters, UFOs and such like were all real.

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Woo in Review: HOODWINKED PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 00:00

hoodwinkedHOODWINKED
(Conning soon in a theatre near you)

Between them, the cast members of Hoodwinked have over one hundred and twenty years of experience, and it totally shows. However, this would not be one of my reviews if I didn't snarkily type in at least one controversial point to spark the flurry of enraged comments I have come to love so much (mostly for driving me more easily into the liquor bottle), so don't worry. We'll get there.

Hoodwinked
was produced by Michael Mills of Mills Entertainment and co-produced by BASE Entertainment. I assume Michael Mills is an evil genius that sits in the back room of the theatre in a swivel chair, stroking a cat trained to kill (whose name, in my mind, is Mr. Winklepants), cackling maniacally to himself. I assume this because the show manages, even after seeing it twice as I have, to shock and surprise me, and ensure my eyes never leave the stage.

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I May Have Been Deceived PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
Monday, 24 November 2008 00:00

German SWIFT reader Markus Kompa writes to tell us that there is serious doubt about a recent comment I made:

I don't agree with your comment in (this article) about Maskelyne. As far as I know, there is no evidence that Jasper Maskelyne directed anything in the military deceptions of D-Day.

Markus then sends us to this site for a strong reference on the matter. Re-examining this data, I believe that Markus may be correct.

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