The Amazing Meeting 2014

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You just got lucky: This week in Doubtful News for April 8, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:00

Here is a rundown of hoaxes, flops, and downright lucky breaks this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

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The Honest Liar - Bernie Madoff Worked Hard for the Money PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by JREF Staff   
Monday, 07 April 2014 17:23

Bernie Madoff worked hard to rob his victims of billions of dollars. Be it Monte or Madoff, con artists are skilled deceivers who understand human foibles and can use these skills to take unfair advantage. While there are always observers who are quick to blame the victim, people duped by con artists are not perpetrators. While it is true that human psychology and flawed thinking may help us become co-conspirators in such predations, nevertheless blaming the victim offers neither insight nor explanation. If we are going to understand how and why such schemes are successful, we must credit the con man.

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   
Monday, 07 April 2014 12:46

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

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The Leopard PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Friday, 04 April 2014 13:36

Some people see human tragedies as a time for empathy, sympathy, or charity.

Then there are those who see it as an opportunity. 

It didn’t take long after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014, for Uri Geller to take to the airwaves and claim that he was asked to help in the search for the plane.

There should be nothing surprising about this. The most dangerous place on planet earth might be trying to stand between Uri Geller and a TV camera. 

What is perhaps surprising is how many people believe his claim. 

I don’t.

Occam’s Razor – a useful tool in critical thinking, and one frequently helpful in dealing with the likes of Mr. Geller (Example: How might one cause a compass to move? Psychic powers, or a magnet?) – advises us to begin solving any mystery by first considering the simplest possible explanation.

Applying this to Mr. Geller’s claim would suggest that – quite simply – no one called on Mr. Geller at all.

“I have been asked by a substantial figure in Malaysia who I know…”

Uh… really? Who exactly? And why haven’t they owned up to doing so? 

Because you’re a useless self-promoting exploiter of human misery, Mr. Geller? 

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Hail Mary PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 11:25

Marie-PauleA few days ago, Joseph of Quebec, Canada, contacted me with a suggestion should I decide to write a sequel to God Bless America. Joseph was a former member of the Roman Catholic cult the Army of Mary. He was raised in the group before fleeing them during his twenties, although his family are still dedicated members. Joseph thanks James Randi for instilling in him a sense of skepticism that was instrumental to him leaving the group.  

The Army of Mary (Armée de Marie), also known as the Community of the Lady of All Nations (Communauté de la Dame de tous les Peuples) is a Marian sect with its headquarters at Spiri Maria, in the rural village of Lac Etchemin, Quebec. 92-year old mystic Marie-Paule Giguère founded the group in 1971. In its heyday, the Army of Mary had 25,000 followers (who call themselves “Knights of Mary”) and thousands of members can still be found across 14 countries, including France, Italy, and the United States. 

The Army of Mary is a cult of devotion to the Virgin Mary, who just happens to be Giguère. That is, the group’s charismatic leader claims she is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. They have come under fire for this claim, so they tend to reframe their beliefs for the public. As Army of Mary priest Jean-Pierre Mastropietro explains, Giguère “is fully enveloped by God. She prays every day, but her life is so attached to that of Mary’s that she isn’t Mary but she is Mary at the same time. If we try to explain it we’ll change its meaning.” Sometimes, Giguère just calls herself “Queen of the Universe”. The group doesn’t believe in the holy trinity but in the “quinternity” - the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and Mary (that is, Giguère). The maverick group formed their own church, the Church of John, and declared Lac Etchemin to be their “new Vatican”. They have their own nuns (“Daughters of Mary”), and ordain their own priests (“Sons of Mary”). They also canonize saints, while Mastropietro is known for wearing a Byzantium crown and thinking himself to be their pope.

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