We are just off the heels of the Amaz!ng Meeting in Las Vegas — TAM 2012. Of the TAMs I’ve been to, this was my all-time favorite so far. Dedicated and committed educators and activists explored new ways to work together to advance scientific skepticism. Some of the leading minds of our day talked about subjects important to us. Penn and Teller inspired us, Carol Tavris gave a fantastic keynote, and there was wonderful evening entertainment, workshops and parties. But the skeptic's work is never done, so rather than our team basking in the kudos they deserve for putting on such a fabulous event, now we turn our attention to upcoming projects, events and opportunities. (That said, enjoy some fantastic pictures of TAM 2012 here.)
Though it feels like he just returned from the tour of Spain, Italy and Germany, Randi will soon be off to India, and also to Australia to speak at conferences and for lecture tours. And of course he will be hosting JREF’s upcoming Amazing Adventure that’s on the horizon — think of it as a TAM-at-Sea. We have new JREF classroom resources that have been released, and we are very happy about the positive response that our new show Consequence, hosted by Brian Thompson, has been getting; it focuses on the harm that results from undue credulity in the paranormal and you can hear previous episodes here. Our new director of communications, Carrie Poppy, is getting settled in, and we are all moved into our new offices in Los Angeles. (We will have an open-house in the month ahead, stay tuned to randi.org for details.)
Last week, we also celebrated Randi’s birthday (he’s ringing in his 84th!), and if you want to drop him your birthday greetings, you can do so here . We hope you will join us on our upcoming Amaz!ng Adventure; maybe you can celebrate with him there. And as ever, thank you for your support of our work. We couldn’t continue without it.
President, James Randi Educational Foundation
Announcing the Amazing Adventure 2012!
Join James Randi for a TAM-at-Sea. A crew of paranormal investigators and skeptical experts explore 2012 doomsday prophecies and other skeptical topics on a luxurious 7-day cruise that will feed your mind while you soak up the warm sunshine of the Riviera Maya. Speakers include James Randi, paranormal investigator and cryptozoology expert Benjamin Radford, skeptical historian, philosopher and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht, JREF president D.J. Grothe, Consequence host and JREF outreach coordinator Brian Thompson, and fringe group investigator and JREF director of communications Carrie Poppy.
In this fun exploration of unlikely doomsday predictions, we’ll set sail from Tampa, Florida to the heart of Mayan civilization, with stops in the Rotan Bay Islands, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico. Between guided tours and talks about prophecies of impending doom and other skeptical topics, you’ll have ample time to scuba, snorkel, enjoy the beach and the jungle, and see some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins.
But the best part? You’ll be spending the week with Randi and some great speakers, and along with scores of other seafaring skeptics, you’ll share laughs, learning and like-minded community while the world doesn’t end. Book your reservation now!
Other Upcoming Events
Dragon*Con | August 31 - September 3 | Atlanta, GA
The largest science fiction, fantasy and popular culture convention (with a skeptical track!) in the universe is returning to Atlanta, with James Randi, D.J. Grothe and Brian Thompson appearing. James Randi will join rock star Alice Cooper live on stage for a retrospective on their shared tour of magic and music in the 1970s. Purchase tickets here.
Barrow Neurological Institute 50th Anniversary Gala | September 17 | Phoenix, AZ
Join James Randi, fellow magician Mac King, and a host of brain scientists for an evening exploring the unusual partnership between scientists at Barrow and magicians who have traveled to the Institute to help medical researchers better understand the way the brain functions and how it is tricked. Purchase tickets here.
Think 2012 | November 2-4 | Goa, India
James Randi offers a keynote presentation at this eclectic, thought-provoking and egalitarian platform for ideas from across the globe. Learn about Randi’s decades of work catching con-artists and fighting fakers. Register for free here.
2012 Australian Skeptics Convention | November 30-December 2 | Melbourne, Australia
The Australian Skeptics bring back their inspiring conference, with this year’s theme of Active Skepticism – changing for the better. Featured speakers include James “The Amazing” Randi, JREF president D.J. Grothe, and JREF outreach coordinator Brian Thompson. Purchase tickets here.
Consequence: A New Podcast from the James Randi Educational
We are excited to announce the new biweekly JREF podcast, Consequence, which explores how pseudoscience and claims of the paranormal can be harmful to believers. In each episode, regular people share their personal narratives about the ways a belief in fortune tellers, alternative medicine, and other unsupported claims has hurt them or others.
Join host and JREF outreach coordinator Brian Thompson as he talks to a young actor in New York City who lost thousands of dollars consulting with a storefront psychic who promised him fame and fortune; a former energy-healer turned skeptic who once tried to use “purple healing energy” to cure a friend’s testicular cancer; a young woman whose Christian Science upbringing brought deadly consequences for a family member; and a former member of Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment who now doubts that the “channeler” is everything she’s cracked up to be. Plus, JREF fellow Tim Farley of the popular debunking site What's the Harm? shares similar cases from news around the world.
The first four episodes of Consequence, and all episodes to come, can be found at consequencepodcast.com or on iTunes.
The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012: An Unforgettable Event
Thanks to everyone who joined us for TAM 2012, the best TAM yet. With passionate speakers like Jamy Ian Swiss, Carol Tavris and Pamela Gay, as well as unique panels, workshops and events like the live Million Dollar Challenge and Ray Hyman's in-depth training on "psychic" cold reading, it was an unforgettable four days in the desert. If you haven’t already, stop by and enjoy some of our favorite photos at the TAM 2012 slideshow.
We are also delighted to share with you some videos of The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012: standout talks by Jamy Ian Swiss and Carol Tavris. Watch these great presentations by clicking below.
We would like to introduce you to the newest member of the JREF family, our director of communications, Carrie Poppy. In hopping aboard at the JREF, Carrie continues her work in the non-profit world, where she has spent several years helping organizations garner attention for their causes. Carrie has blogged for randi.org in the past, and is also the cohost of the popular investigations podcast, Oh No Ross and Carrie! We are thrilled to have her join us. Read more about Carrie in her interview here.
Randi Visits Camp Inquiry
The JREF is proud to be a co-sponsor of Camp Inquiry,a science and critical thinking camp for young people, ages seven to sixteen. Last week, Randi stopped by to visit with these young skeptics and deliver an inspiring talk on his career in magic and skepticism, while director of communications Carrie Poppy presented lessons on using critical thinking to evaluate extraordinary claims. Read more about their experience at Camp Inquiry here.
JREF Challenges Priceline.com Over the "Long Island Medium"
JREF followers will recognize Theresa Caputo, the "Long Island Medium" as the winner of this year's tongue-in-cheek Pigasus award for paranormal performers, highlighting the harm caused by unfounded paranormal claims. But Ms. Caputo is up to something new: she is now starring in a new Priceline.com commercial wherein she uses her powers as a "medium" to contact a spirit. This week, the JREF fired off a letter to Priceline.com, letting them know that Theresa Caputo's "powers" are anything but funny, and challenging them to prove her abilities for a million dollars.
Read the letter at the Huffington Post.
Classroom Lessons and More Reading Materials from the JREF!
Are you, or is anyone you know, an educator in the home or classroom? Then be sure to view our free educational modules on dowsing, ESP and the Cottingley Fairies. Each lesson teaches students how to use the scientific method and critical thinking to evaluate lofty claims.
And if you haven’t already, be sure to get some of Randi’s classics, including Flim-Flam, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, The Faith Healers and The Truth about Uri Geller.
We Need Your Help to Fight the Fakers
Be a part of the James Randi Educational Foundation’s work to fight charlatans and promote critical thinking by becoming a JREF member. Your $100 membership is a critical part of our efforts to:
- Fight charlatans like James van Praagh and other phony psychics and swindlers, who we believe manipulate victims at their most vulnerable.
- Provide educational resources for instructors, to teach critical thinking skills and the scientific method in the classroom.
- Promote skepticism in the media and to the public at large.
- Support grassroots skeptical activism around the country and around the world.
- Help build community groups and hold conferences like The Amaz!ng Meeting, so skeptics can meet like-minded friends in order to fight the good fight together.
Join the JREF now and receive a pewter Pigasus pin and a Team Randi shirt!
Recently on Randi.org
The Bob Larson Show | Dr. Karen Stollznow
Young Inquiring Minds: the JREF Visits Camp Inquiry [PHOTOS] | Carrie Poppy
Happy Birthday, James Randi! | JREF Staff
Science versus Pseudoscience: Do You Know What You Think You Know? | Dr. Karen Koy
CAM and the Language Problem | Kyle Hill
Feng Shui? No Shui! | Karen Stollznow
The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012 in Photos | JREF Staff
Another Herb Bites the Dust | Dr. Steven Novella.