Last year we at the JREF decided to test the waters with a year-end fund-raising campaign to help raise awareness both of our mission as well as new ways to advance it. We were inspired by your response to our appeal, so much so that this year we hope our Season of Reason campaign will continue to support the bright future for skepticism and critical thinking.
We are focusing on our new educational efforts, as you will see here. But we now have a secret weapon that we're hopeful will make this end-of-year fund-raising campaign even more effective. An anonymous JREF member has made a very generous challenge donation to the JREF of up to $100,000. This means that whatever support you feel motivated to give to the JREF, this donor will match dollar-for-dollar up to a $100,000 limit!
Simply put my friends, there's never been a better time to put your money to work for skepticism and critical thinking, not only because every dollar you donate now doubles its value, but also because the JREF is doing more now to increase critical thinking in education than we've ever done in the past. The Amaz!ng Meetings are growing in size and number internationally, with record attendances, and we're seizing new opportunities to make a difference, such as digital publishing and smartphone "apps."
In an effort to make our extensive video library available online free of charge, The James Randi Educational Foundation is posting high quality digital video lectures and sessions from previous Amaz!ng Meetings and other events on randi.org. Check back often to see the latest video content.
Every morning, I sit back at the breakfast table, crack open my newspaper, and think, "Man, there is a lot of nonsense out there." Or sometimes, "Really? I'm still buying paper newspapers? What is this, 2002?" In any case, the media is always full of ill-supported claims, from house hauntings to aura cleansing to UFO sightings. And these last couple of weeks have been no different. But what can you do to combat this nonsense in the media and around the world? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here are a few ways you can turn a media mess into a skeptical success.
American Homeopath Peddles Fake Medicine in Haiti
What's Happening:News came out this week of a Massachusetts woman who has been working with the organization Homeopaths without Borders to teach locals in Haiti how to use homeopathy to allegedly treat various ailments, from headaches and acid reflux, to eye problems and severe anemia. As regular readers of randi.org know, homeopathy is, by definition, not medicine. Homeopathic remedies contain no active ingredients, and their use may delay a patient seeking real treatment, sometimes with dire consequences.
What's Happening: Pop culture icon Ice T and his wife are enjoying their third season of Ice Loves Coco on E! and this week, Mrs. T revealed that she has psychic abilities which allow her to wordlessly communicate with dogs (video at the link). Her baffled husband offers her some pretty good advice: "These conversations you have with me, like this; don't have them with other people." Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle! Here I thought dogs mostly communicated through barks and the affectionate leg hump, when all this time, I should have been sending my mutts concentrated brain waves.
What You Can Do: Tweet at Coco and encourage her to take the JREF's Million Dollar Challenge, to demonstrate her ability to communicate with non-human animals. With a million extra dollars, she can pocket the cash or give it to the charity of her choice. Be sure to tag us @jref, and as always, be polite.
Superstorm Sandy Victims Deal with Devastation
What's Happening: Unfortunately, this story is not a tale of superstition. The hurricane which ripped through the east coast has left 185 dead, more injured, and totaled at least $20 billion in damage. And now some of the victims are preparing for another storm.
What You Can Do: Show your support for the victims, and promote critical thinking by wearing a Disaster Relief Placebo Band (which turns the "Power Balnce" band on its head). For each disaster relief Placebo Band sold, $2 goes to Hurricane Sandy disaster relief, and for every watch sold, $5 is donated to the cause. Get yours here.
Want to do more to fight woo in your area? E-mail us to get started doing skeptical activism in your home town.
Carrie Poppy is the director of communications at the James Randi Educational Foundation, and a regular contributor to Randi.org.
July 12-15, 2012 South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Las Vegas, NV
TAM was already the skeptics’ event of the year, and now, it just got even better.
Saturday Keynote Event: We are thrilled that our good friends Penn & Teller will be delighting us with a special hour long keynote presentation titled "38 Years of Magic & BS: A Conversation with Penn & Teller."
Also on Friday night, Penn is hosting his second Private Rock & Roll, Doughnut and Bacon Party. Be forewarned: This really is Penn’s private party. He’s paying for everything and JREF has nothing to do with it. Everyone at TAM is invited, and there is a suggested twenty dollar donation to attend, with proceeds going to the JREF.
Wait, there’s more! We’re also pleased to announce the addition of the following speakers:
This annual celebration of critical thinking is an unparalleled opportunity to make like-minded friends, enjoy some of the brightest minds on issues important to skeptics, and leave with tools for spreading a helpful and educational message to those who might be hurt by charlatans and unfounded belief. TAM has become the must-go-to event for skeptics and science advocates.
Join James Randi and over a thousand other like-minded folks for four days of fun, friendship, and critical thinking!
TAM 2014 offers four full days of skeptical programing running from early morning until after midnight most nights, including main conference sessions featuring dozens of talks, panel discussions, and special afternoon and evening keynote presentations by such luminaries as BILL NYE, DANIEL DENNETT, MARIETTE DICHRISTINA, MICHAEL SHERMER, PATRICIA CHURCHLAND, ELIZABETH LOFTUS, CAROL TAVRIS, RICHARD WISEMAN, and many, many more. Amazing!
But there's a lot more to TAM than just the the main conference sessions. TAM 2014 offers a wide array of other educational and entertaining activites, including:
Ten skeptic WORKSHOPS offering hands-on activist and educational training.
Three advance theatrical screenings of AN HONEST LIAR, offering an exclusive pre-release look at the documentary about the life of James Randi following the movie’s debut at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, and other film festivals.
Paul Provenza’s annual night of unflinching comedy, ¡SATIRISTAS LIVE!, featuring some of the brightest skeptical stars in comedy today.
The acclaimed DARK STORIES magic and spiritualism show, a night of spooky and strange starring two of the world’s most offbeat magicians, Eugene Burger and Michael Carbonaro.
Penn Jillette’s private ROCK & ROLL, DOUGHNUT AND BACON PARTY, one of the highlights during TAM each year.
A live on-stage test of an applicant for the JREF’s MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE.
The SKEPTICS’ POKER TOURNAMENT, featuring VIPs from the worlds of science and skepticism.
A special DINNER, GAME SHOW, AND AUCTION starring The Skeptics’ Guide to The Universe, benefiting JREF’s K-12 educational programs.
Exclusive, INTIMATE LUNCHEONS with Randi and other TAM luminaries.
Dozens of AUTHOR SIGNINGS with speakers from the TAM 2014 stage.
A packed EXHIBIT HALL featuring TAM sponsors, partners, and rationalist organizations highlighting their services and products of interest to the growing skeptic community.