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The Politics of Abolishing Witch Camps in Ghana PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Leo Igwe   
Saturday, 04 January 2014 09:00

The government of Ghana has announced plans to close down the ‘witch’ camps in the northern part of the country. The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur stated this recently while inaugurating a committee with a mandate to eradicate witchcraft in the northern region. The minister pledged to support victims of witchcraft accusation through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and get them to register with the state health insurance scheme. The Minister stated that the support and empowerment scheme would enable victims to “flee(sic) their minds from the act.”. Nana Oye Lithur did not really explain what she meant by “the act”.

This is not the first time the government of Ghana has proposed closing the witch camps as a measure to eradicate witchcraft-related abuse in the country. In 2011, the Deputy Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba announced plans to close down the camps and reintegrate the victims with their families. She described the existence and operation of a witch camp as ‘an indictment on the conscience of the society’. These declarations are not unconnected with pressures on state authorities.

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What’s The Scoop on Brain Training? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steve Novella   
Friday, 03 January 2014 10:11

There is now a proliferation of products and services promising to “train your brain.” In the past we used to call this, “learning.” The term “brain training” has a certain connotation that implies something more is happening.

For example, on the website brainmetrix.com they claim:

“You will find some brain fitness workouts that can help your mind process information more quickly, and more efficiently, as well as the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time.”

The implication, if not explicit claim, is that brain training is somehow more than just practicing a particular task in order to become better at that task. Lumosity, for example, promises “scientifically designed training” with a “personalized training program.” The advertising is very clever – they say, “discover what your brain can do,” instead of simply, “discover what you can do.”

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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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