Ask The Skeptics: My Son's a Witch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 23:06
Editor's Note: Approximately 30% of the correspondence we receive at the JREF is woo. About 20% is friendly chit-chat, another 20% is well-wishing, and the rest is a mix of media requests, hate mail, and earnest questions about skepticism. This new column is concerned with the latter.

After reading enough of these questions, it occurred to us that some of them may be of general interest. Furthermore, since the answers to these questions are more a matter of opinion than of fact, they are probably most effectively addressed by Swift's readership at large. Many of these questions deserve a plurality of answers. Please consider supplying some.

If you'd like to contribute a question for "Ask The Skeptics'" next edition, please write to with the subject line "Ask The Skeptics." Some questions will be edited for brevity. All questions shall be published anonymously.
Earn $50 for the JREF! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREF Staff   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 13:14

randivisaSupport the JREF by applying for the CapitalOne JREF Platinum Visa!

Through a program from CapitalOne, you can earn $50 for the JREF with your first purchase. Subsequent purchases will earn the JREF 1% of sales, which may be tax deductible for US residents!

This is a great way to show your support without having to do anything other than switching your credit card.

Card benefits include:

  • $50 donation to JREF with first purchase 
  • 1% of all purchases donated to JREF (may be tax deductible)
  • JREF branded card or design your own!
  • 24/7 Travel and emergency assistance, including roadside
  • Rental car insurance
  • Buyer's protection

For more information and to apply, click this link.

The JREF thanks you for your support. Your efforts here help keep us strong and growing.

(When you activate your card the message from Capital One will read that you have made a $25 donation to the JREF. Capital One, however, is making a special double donation to the JREF and the actual donation is $50. Rest assured that the JREF is receiving the full $50 when you use your card.)

Banner Test PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Wagg   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 12:14
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The Principle of The Thing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Cuno   
Monday, 16 November 2009 19:11

(Editor's Note: Steve Cuno is the founder of the RESPONSE Agency, an evidence-based marketing firm in Salt Lake City. He has spoken at the last two TAMs, and has been invited to write for Swift to share his knowledge of marketplace behavior as it pertains to skepticism — and vice versa.)

When a friend teaching a college scriptwriting course told students that standard videotape runs at 30 frames per second, a hand shot up. "Actually," corrected the young man who owned the arm to which the hand was attached, "it's 29.97 frames per second." Thus it began. For the rest of the semester, no gnat was safe from this fellow's interrupting the class to strain at it.

More Magic Wands PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Sunday, 15 November 2009 13:20

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote -- here on Swift as well as at my own blog -- about the Iraqi military employing useless magic wands to search for explosives at checkpoints, and about the inevitable deadly results. This was based on an article in the New York Times, and the word has now spread far and wide.

Skeptic, physician, and journalist Ben Goldacre wrote about it in The Guardian, and Graeme Wood did so as well for The Atlantic. The story was huge on tech and skeptic sites too, like Slashdot, MetaFilter, Gizmodo, and Bruce Hood's Supersense blog. It made a brief appearance on TV in this segment on the Rachel Maddow Show.

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