Death-Porn On The Playground PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Saturday, 08 August 2009 00:00

In the current issue of Harper's Magazine, you'll find a long article by Rachel Aviv entitled "Like I Was Jesus," subtitled "How to bring a nine-year-old to Christ."

In it, Aviv writes of infiltrating - and that's an ugly word, but apropos - a chapter of a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship during the summer of 2008. The chapter comprised 40 young missionaries who "roamed the housing projects of Connecticut," accosting unsupervised young children and pressuring them to accept Jesus into their hearts.

According to Aviv: "The goal was salvation, but the missionaries rarely used that long word. They employed monosyllabic language and avoided abstract concepts and homonyms. ‘Holy' was a problem, the missionaries said, as children thought it meant ‘full of holes.' ‘Christ rose from the dead' was also tricky because children mistook the verb for a flower."

The Anti-Vax Movement and Swine Flu PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 00:00

As we discussed in the Anti-Anti-Vax Panel at TAM7, scientifically illiterate activists are endangering our public health. Now they have a new target: the fast-track program to develop a swine flu vaccine in time to prevent a possible pandemic.

A correspondent in the Netherlands wrote me, forwarding this article a friend in the UK had sent him: Briefly, it says we are going to be offered a dangerous, inadequately tested swine flu vaccine for a nonexistent threat.

More Evasion PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 00:00

This last Sunday I posted "We Should be Insulted," a commentary on the seeming endorsement of acupuncture by US agencies. Following that, I sent an inquiry to Ms. Cynthia Bass at the National Cancer Institute [NCI] - a division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH] - with this direct comment and question:

I have seen references in NCI literature to the use of acupuncture in cancer treatment, to relieve certain side-effects of chemotherapy. My question: Is there any scientific, double-blind research that shows acupuncture is effective?

Please note: I specified "double-blind" because many non-blinded tests of acupuncture have been done, with mixed results, but no such tests can be considered as evidential unless done that way, and I've never found any records of double-blinded tests of this claim. Ms. Bass did not answer the question. She referred me to a list of frequently-asked questions - and the official answers - on the NCI site; this is not unexpected, considering the volume of inquiries that the agency must receive. I have selected here those that almost respond to my inquiry.

Religious Belief and College Attendance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christina Stephens   
Monday, 03 August 2009 00:00

Recently I read here that a study [1] had been conducted which looks at the trends between the study of certain subjects in college and religious observance. The study concluded that very religious high school students are more likely than less religious high school students to attend college.

This may surprise the skeptical world. I've heard many times that people with high levels of religiosity tend to be less educated and less intelligent whereas people with low religiosity tend to be more educated and more intelligent. Typically people cite an article published in nature as evidence for this phenomenon [2], if they cite an article at all. So why is this study saying that people who are more religious are more likely to attend college?

We Should Be Insulted PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Sunday, 02 August 2009 00:00

The "complimentary and alternative medicine" business brings in some $34 billion a year in direct out-of-pocket spending from American consumers.  The budget of the US National Institutes of Health - a major Federal agency - is not available to the average person, it seems.  Looking in on the Internet for a simple dollar figure produces no results that I can find.  A direct search for a "$" sign reports no hits...

My attention has been brought to this strange situation since I recently came into possession of a 62-page full-color booklet produced and distributed by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. This comprehensive publication - in its "Words To Know" glossary, begins with a definition of what is possibly the only form of quackery that outranks homeopathy for idiocy: acupuncture. It reads:

Acupuncture (AK-yoo-PUNK-cher): The technique of inserting thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body to control nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Other literature issued by the NCI runs on and on about how ancient this idea is, that it is used in China, and how it's administered. Does it work?

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