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A Relic of A Practice PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 09:00

As of August 30, 2012, eBay discontinued auctions for witchcraft, psychics, and other metaphysical services. This decision was made in light of the difficulty in resolving disputes regarding these transactions, not because they don’t work! At any rate, this project hasn’t been entirely successful, and eBay continues to sell objects used in these rituals, such as crystals, herbs, incense and jewelry. One category that also survived is Collectibles - Religion & Spirituality, which is legitimate for the sales of medals and statues but is also an avenue for the sale of relics connected to Christian mystics. Current listings include a locket of hair supposedly from Saint Bernadette, to whom the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared at Lourdes in 1858. For a mere $3,600 you can buy a bandage that apparently bound Padre Pio’s stigmata.

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A Million For Your Thoughts, Arlene PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:00

Last week, on January 23rd, one Thom Nickels, identified as a “Philadelphia-based Crystal ball with dollar signauthor/journalist,” contributed a piece on Huffington Post entitled “The Most Talented Psychic in Philadelphia.” Perhaps it should have been attributed to the most credulous “author/journalist” in Philadelphia.

Mr. Nickels is obviously a big fan of his proclaimed friend and the subject of his story, Arlene Ostapowicz. In the course of his breathless narrative, Mr. Nickels recounts that:

  1. Ms. Ostapowicz “… has been a guest on many television and radio shows,” although the only specific show mentioned is one in which she was allegedly invited to appear on but declined.
  2. “In the 1980s, [Ostapowicz] was in high demand with [Philadelphia] City Hall politicians and judges.”
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Practical Skepticism PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 12:00

I’m feeling self-absorbed today. I want to talk about how skepticism helps me, me, ME.

Don’t get ME wrong. I concede that not just I, but the whole of humankind stands to benefit from a skeptical approach. But sometimes my Inner Activist needs a rest. It is then that I pause to revel in the ways skepticism benefits my paltry life, mine alone, the rest of the world be damned. Here are four examples. I’m sure many of you have your own examples, which I hope you will share in Comments.

Example First: Skepticism saves me money.

I had a favorite brand of barbecue sauce. Whenever it chanced to set foot in my mouth, my taste buds greeted it by standing up and singing hymns. One day I picked up a considerably cheaper brand, just to compare. Sure enough, it proved not as good. But thanks to skepticism, I knew a thing or two about how easily we fool ourselves. I wondered, “How would James Randi test this?” I took out two spoons and poured a dollop in each. Good so far, except skepticism had also taught me the value of a blind test. How was I going to manage that on my own? Here serendipity intervened. I received a phone call. By the time the call ended, I couldn’t remember which spoon held which sauce. I sampled them both … and could taste no difference. My taste buds now stand and sing for Brand X, and my wallet joins in.

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Devilish doings: This week in Doubtful News for February 4, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 09:00

 For reals, it is the 21st century!  But, some are still blaming Satan for everything. Here is a rundown of the weekly weird news courtesy of Doubtful News.

It was a huge week on Doubtful News. There was a demonic invasion.

The story of LaToya Ammons demonic possession and life in the "portal to hell" house was posted on the Indianapolis Star website and then exploded two days later. The story was, on its face, unbelievable and full of holes. Doubtful News readers were able to produce a mock up of the fakey photo. Then, Ghost Adventures star Zak Bagans, who takes his paranormal investigation awfully seriously, purchased the house. No word on whether only the paranormal believers will be allowed in but it does appear that only pro-paranormal people are invited. No skeptics allowed. This story is a circle of reinforcing feedback. 

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 03 February 2014 09:00

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.

pH Miracle Living “Dr.” Robert O. Young is finally arrested, but will it stop him? (David Gorski)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ph-miracle-living-dr-robert-o-young-finally-arrested-but-will-it-stop-him/ Robert O. Young is famous for promoting quack cancer cures and claiming that “the over-acidification of the body is the single underlying cause of all disease.” His answer to everything is to alkalinize. California law permits licensed healthcare providers to practice this kind of harmful pseudoscientific nonsense and Young was only arrested because he was practicing medicine without a license.

Washington State’s Unconscionable, Unconstitutional Child Protection Law (Harriet Hall)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law/ Washington law mandates reporting of child abuse and neglect and allows parents to be prosecuted for denying essential medical care to a child – unless they are Christian Scientists! The law is clearly unconstitutional, since it gives preference to only one of the many faith-healing religions. And it is clearly immoral, because it denies some children the protection of law and allows manslaughter to go unpunished.

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