If you follow the JREF on Facebook, you're already enjoying our day-by-day posts of news stories around the world showing both how unfounded beliefs hurt people (and animals) and how skepticism is gaining ground, fighting superstition and exploitation. But you may still be wondering what you can do to advance skepticism and reason. Here are a few ideas from recent headlines.
Former TV News Reporter Claims He Can Tell the Future
What's Happening: You know those times you predict a hurricane in the Philippines and you have nothing to prove it, and you think "Damn, if only I'd texted myself beforehand about this, I could be the talk of the town!"? Well, UK-based former TV reporter John Thomson is one step ahead of you. Claiming that he can predict the future, Thomson started texting himself his predictions and now claims he has a backlog of accurate predictions to rival any alleged psychic (shall we make a "predictive text" joke? No? Okay, we'll move on). The only problem is, Mr. Thomson has been collecting the texts for well over a year, giving him plenty of time to send thousands of texts to himself, and delete the predictions which didn't come true. Is he really foreseeing catastrophic world events, or just a really patient (and bored) texter? I'm suspicious.
What You Can Do: If John Thomson is all he claims to be, there's a million dollars waiting for him. Tweet at John and ask him to take the JREF's million dollar challenge. As always, be brief and polite.
Homeopath Claims Fake Medicine Can Be Used to Treat Domestic Violence
What's Happening: Skeptical reporter Ben Radford reports that a professional homeopath is claiming that homeopathy can be used to treat both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, despite there being no evidence at all that homeopathy works for any symptoms, much less in extremely dangerous situations like domestic abuse.
What You Can Do: Unfortunately, the article is already appearing on multiple websites, making it nearly impossible to ask each editor to remove the article. But you can write to the author and politely ask that she stop claiming that fake medicine can treat domestic violence. With enough feedback from concerned readers, she just may change her tune.
Simon Cowell Had His House Healed
What's Happening: In case you didn't hear, TV's favorite meanypants, Simon Cowell, recently claimed his Los Angeles mansion was full of negative energy and needed some good old fashioned spiritual cleansing. He hired a "house healer" to do just that, apparently with magnificent results. Never one to miss an opportunity to help out our neighbors, the JREF (which is headquartered in Los Angeles) offered to stop by and give the place a once-over ourselves. Bottom line: if Cowell can prove his house has (or had) residual negative energies and that a house cleansing can fix it, he will be on his way to winning a million dollars for the charity of his choice. Yet, so far, Cowell hasn't responded to our letter. Must be busy.
Carrie Poppy is the Director of Communications at the James Randi Educational Foundation, and a regular contributor to Randi.org.