TAM London Sold Out! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by Phil Plait   
Monday, 11 May 2009 09:53

tamlondonsmallWe are pleased - though a little shocked - to announce that tickets for The Amaz!ng Meeting London have sold out... in an hour! Tickets went on sale at noon London time today, and before we could even announce here on Swift that registration was open, tickets had sold out.

This is very exciting news, for many obvious reasons. But I think the most important one has to do with critical thinkers in UK themselves: we knew there was a thriving skeptic community there, but this clearly indicates it's really active and engaged! Many of us have seen first-hand how outgoing our British friends are - Skeptics in the Pub brings in hundreds of attendees, for example - and it's simply terrific to see them so excited about TAM London.

So on behalf of the JREF, our speakers, and everyone else involved, thank you for your enthusiastic and warm welcome for our first international TAM, and we'll see you in October!

When The Pope Hates You PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:00

John Paul II hates Jeremy Pechanec. On February 22nd, right around 2:30 a.m., the 28-year-old Pechanec was shot in the back of the head in what some have speculated was a drug deal gone awry. He was left brain-dead, lying on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown Cleveland, just a few steps from the bar where he’d been drinking. (The bar is called “Scorchers,” and makes a tidy profit off its “Wicked” wings — evocative word choices that may explain the late Pontiff’s antipathy.) Over the next several days, Pechanec’s organs were harvested and his unusuable remains interred. The deceased Pope, despite his plain interest in securing a swift beatification and canonization, did nothing.

But there was a man kneeling next to Jeremy Pechanec when he was executed, gang-land style, on that ugly winter’s morn. Pechanec’s friend, Jory Aebly, was shot as well. The bullet shattered his skull and whizzed through two hemispheres of gray matter before coming to rest against the interior of his forehead. According to EWTN — “The Global Catholic Network”— Aebly’s injuries were “non-survivable.” (Though according to a local news channel’s dispatch from the day of the shooting, Aebly was doing “better than expected” from the moment he arrived at the hospital.)

Celebrity Science PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 00:00

tamyspeakerharhallThe current issue of Reader’s Digest has an article on “The Trouble with Celebrity Science.”  “What happens when stars weigh in on medical topics?...Celebrities may be perfectly qualified to evaluate sneakers, but that doesn’t mean you want to learn biochemistry from them.”

They mention Tom Cruise’s sweeping condemnation of modern psychiatry, then focus on…


Are you ready for this?....

  1. Woo-promoter extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey

  2. Anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy (the one whose victims are listed on the Jenny McCarthy Body Count, and

  3. Gluten-free advocate Elisabeth Hasselbeck!!!

Graphology: Write but Wrong PDF Print E-mail
Written by Karen Stollznow   
Monday, 11 May 2009 00:00

A few days ago I happened to see the article: Is Our Personality Written in Our Handwriting? listed as a “Featured” news item on the Yahoo homepage. This wasn’t a critical examination of graphology, as the title suggests. The article was written with the assumption that graphology works, and that it employs a scientific methodology.

Graphology, in the most common usage of the word, is the practice of handwriting analysis to identify a subject’s personality traits. Some graphologists further claim that they can read the subject’s past and present, forecast the future, and even diagnose illness. Some proponents claim graphology (or graphotherapy) is a treatment, and assert that if people change their handwriting style, they can break bad behaviors, alter their attitude and character, and even heal themselves.

We have to be mindful, as I type away on my keyboard, that few of us have much writing practice anymore, aside from our signatures.

The Pain of Reflexive Skepticism PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Hrab   
Sunday, 10 May 2009 00:00

tamyspeakerhrabYou see a lot, doctor. But can you point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you – why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to.”


Agent Clarice Starling, as played by Jodie Foster, delivered this memorable line in the most subtle musical of all time: The Silence of the Lambs.

(Sorry to so quickly interrupt myself preterpluparenthetically, but I find that with all good science-based essays, an early reference to homicidal, cannibalistic serial killers tends to put readers’ minds at ease, thereby allowing the general thesis to go down one’s mental gullet as if accompanied by a nice Chianti. Enjoy.)

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