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New Year’s Resolutions PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 09:00

On January 1, 2013, my local gym was packed with people, including many new faces. I commented on this to the manager Brandon, who said, “Yep. This is the New Year’s resolution crowd, but most of them will be gone by March!” Surely enough, within a few weeks the crowd had thinned, and by March only the usual muscle heads and regulars remained.

On January 1, 2014, many people will resolve to get fit, quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier food, take up a new hobby, get out of debt, or find a better job. Folk singer Woody Guthrie’s list of New Year’s resolutions for 1934 are currently doing the rounds of the Internet. These “Rulin’s” included, “Drink Very Scant If Any”, “Listen to Radio A Lot”, and, “Help Win War – Beat Fascism”.

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Beat The Deadline PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by D.J. Grothe   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 12:09

There are only a few hours left to make a tax-deductible donation for 2013.
Make your year-end gift now and it will be matched dollar-for-dollar!

donatenow.jpg

The JREF works to expand the impact of what James Randi has been doing for many decades: promoting critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today.

Most of our annual support comes during this critical year-end period, and we couldn't continue fighting charlatans and promoting skepticism in the public interest without such support.

Unless we can count on your generous financial help right now, our plans to increase our impact in 2014 may have to be placed on hold.

And thanks to a generous JREF supporter who has pledged to match your donation dollar-for-dollar, your contribution right now will go twice as far—providing more free resources to educators to teach scientific skepticism, supporting more grassroots campaigns to fight charlatanry, and taking on more public figures and companies who promote dangerous nonsense!

But there are only hours left to join with Randi and the JREF in fighting for reason.

Beat the deadline, double your impact, and help us meet our funding goal today.

Thank you,

D.J. Grothe
President, James Randi Educational Foundation 

 
Of animal attacks and cheesy symbolism: This week in Doubtful News for December 31, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 09:00

Here is a rundown of the anomalous and credulous stories of the week courtesy of Doubtful News.

Strange news is a little light in the last two weeks of the year but there was no lack of interesting things to think about that  came our of the media feed. We saw several curious natural phenomena explained. 

There was a Christmas ice quake in the Toronto area. Cryoseisms are real things! Check it out. 

What made those tiny picket fence and tower structures on trees in the Amazon? We sort of know now but don't know why…   

Red rain deposited dust over south Texas spawning some very alien speculation. A meteorologist figures it out. 

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Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   
Monday, 30 December 2013 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.

An experiment in paying through the nose for “unnecessary care” (David Gorski)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/an-experiment-in-paying-through-the-nose-for-unnecessary-care/ To control the cost of medical care we must find ways to discourage the use of unnecessary procedures. In “value-based insurance,” if patients insist on medical procedures that science shows to be ineffective or unnecessary, they have to pay for it. The American Board of Internal Medicine’s “Choosing Wisely” program is another initiative that hits doctors and patients over the head with data indicating which treatments are not supported by evidence.

Garcinia Probably Works But Is Far From a Weight Loss Miracle (Harriet Hall)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/garcinia-probably-works-but-is-far-from-a-weight-loss-miracle/ Garcinia cambogia is the latest in a series of “weight loss miracles” hyped by Dr. Oz. The scientific evidence is conflicting as to whether it works at all; and studies showing that it does work show only a small effect that is of questionable clinical relevance.

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The “Sign Language Interpreter” at Mandela’s Memorial PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Karen Stollznow   
Saturday, 28 December 2013 16:52

mandela-interpreterLike Frank Abanagle in the movie Catch Me If You Can, we’re used to the occasional story of a layperson who pretends to be a doctor or a pilot, but what about a sign language interpreter? The Telegraph (12/11/2013) reported that at Nelson Mandela’s recent memorial service in Johannesburg, things were not what they seemed to be. The man standing behind Barak Obama and making gestures was not a sign language interpreter, but a fraud. 

Thamsanqa Jantjie was not signing in South African sign language or any other known sign languages. Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said to the Associated Press, “there was no meaning in what he used his hands for”. It was further revealed that Jantjie has a history of passing himself off as a fake sign language interpreter. He had “interpreted” at an event held last year with the South African President Jacob Zuma in attendance. A bemused audience member recorded his performance and submitted it to the Deaf Federation. The organization analyzed the tape and lodged a complaint with the government. This didn’t stop Jantjie from performing at Mandela’s memorial. 

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