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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 14:57

This terrific blog piece on Forbes.com should be of interest to any and all supporters of scientific skepticism and spreading the rationalist worldview.  Beginning by pointing out the commonplace belief of Americans in pseudoscientific claims ranging from witches to ghosts to ESP, the writer, Steven Ross Pomeroy, right calls out media figures like Dr. Mehmet Oz, “who’s touted more than 16 weight-loss miracles on his show,” along with anti-science co-conspirators like Deepak Chopra and the TLC network for promoting “Long Island medium” Theresa Caputo.  

 

Shout-outs are given to the New England Skeptical Society, Center For Skeptical Inquiry, and the James Randi Education Foundation, while the focus is brought to bear on the need for changes in the educational system. Interestingly, data is cited about the difficulty of altering pseudoscientific beliefs, with even an undergraduate degree offering little movement in such beliefs.  

Offering a list of distinguishing features of pseudoscience vs. science – worthy of a close look by any skeptic! – a cautionary note is also offered concerning the hazards of using pseudoscience to teach about science, and the importance of “stressing the refutation of pseudoscientific claims more than the claims, themselves.”

In my own long-held opinion, the focus of early science education should be on the nature of scientific investigation and its approach to claims and evidence – the nature of the scientific method itself – rather than merely on the technical elements of specific scientific fields and subjects. We should not be teaching students to memorize the periodic table of the elements before we teach how science works. 

The inventor, entrepreneur and science and technology supporter, Dean Kamen and I discussed this issue at the 20134 TRANS4M conference (where we shared the stage with I.M.Angel Foundation founder Will.I.Am, along with President Bill Clinton and others), and Dean made an excellent point, suggesting that if we taught kids football the way we teach science, we would spend the first year teaching the rules, the second year the plays and strategies, and in the third year we would let them touch the ball.

But in addition to changing the way we teach science – to teach the methods of science and not merely the mechanics – it is also important to distinguish between science education and teaching critical thinking. As my colleague Steve Novella commented to me over lunch at last weekend’s Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism [www.necss.org] which I hosted in New York City, while there is overlap between science and critical thinking, there are distinct differences, and if you want to help immunize people from the thinking flaws that lead to the embrace of pseudoscientific claims, critical thinking skills are the most important protection.

In short, we are constantly reminded of the need for improved critical thinking skills – and the fundamental raison d’être for the continuing presence of the scientific skepticism movement. More than 350 such supporters joined us last weekend at NECSS, and enjoyed speakers like physicist Lawrence Krauss, astronaut Cady Coleman, developmental psychologist Alyson Gopnik, cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin, physician and author Paul Offit, and many more.  And we expect more than a thousand similarly-minded enthusiasts will join the cause and the fun at The Amazing Meeting this July in Las Vegas. Hope to see you there!

Author: "jis@jamyianswiss.com (Jamy Ian Swiss)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 14:50

Here is a rundown of the alternative views that will make you less smart this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

 

Skeptics were out in force calling out Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski for his unapproved (and likely ineffective and toxic) cancer treatment, antineoplastons. The work of skeptical advocacy has been crucial in turning up the heat for an investigation.

Another hot button topic has been the long tragic parade of needless deaths of children at the hand of parents who rely on faith healing instead of medical treatment. The Tennessee Supreme Court will address a faith exception in their law for caregivers. In Oregon, the defense wants to minimize the "faith" aspect of "faith healing" due to prejudice against the followers.

In another alternative attitude to medicine, celebrity anti-vaccination advocate Jenny McCarthy is toning down her opinion  on the anti-vax matters (too little, too late) while another bubbly blond actress "cluelessly" assumes the role of "expert" mom, advocating no medicine.

Hollywood is still promoting ridiculous psychic TV shows. The bar keeps getting lower as a psychic claims to help families of murder victims. It's not only informed skeptics who are appalled.

The media is desperate for any news on the missing-in-action Loch Ness Monster. So when people find glitches in satellite pictures of boats on the loch, that's news. That's Nessie!

Was it the ring of doom? No, but it was an interesting phenomena, quickly explained, but not by so called "UFO experts" - a vortex ring over UK skies.

A big shining bright spot this week for evidence-based skepticism was Bill Nye's insight into his February debate with Creationist Ken Ham. Bill clearly came out the crystal clear winner on all counts in this bout.

Finally, are you crafty with papier mache and fish parts? A new examination of a famous merbeing shows how you can construct your own gaff.

Add DoubtfulNews.com to your RSS feed or follow us on Twitter @doubtfulnews so you won't miss a story. You can even subscribe to the blog via email and have story links delivered to your email box as they post. Our Facebook page is also a great way to check in. Send your story tips to editor@doubtfulnews.com

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 21 Apr 2014 17:16

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

 

Bill and Hillary Clinton go woo with Dr. Mark Hyman and “functional medicine” (David Gorski)
The Clintons are getting their health advice from an unreliable source, Mark Hyman, who “integrates” science with nonsense and embraces the pseudoscientific so-called “functional” medicine. He advocates “detox” and sells supplements that are not based on acceptable evidence, such as PGX Fiber. He even paints current medicine as “obsolete” like bloodletting or phrenology, and is something of a germ theory denialist.

Risk of Intussusception with Rotavirus Vaccines (Harriet Hall)
A new study reported an increased incidence of intussusception with the two current rotavirus vaccines. The increase is small, the condition is reversible, and the risk is insignificant when weighed against the overwhelming benefits of the vaccines. Every year, they prevent 53,000 hospitalizations and 170,000 ER visits in the US alone.

GSK Investigated for Bribing Doctors (Steven Novella)
 
Eleven doctors in Poland have been charged with corruption for accepting bribes from pharmaceutical company sales reps. Such cases are the exception rather than the rule. Corruption can never be entirely eliminated, but laudable efforts to reduce it are underway. 

What Whole Foods Markets Doesn’t Tell You (Jann Bellamy)
 
Whole Foods Markets sell organic food and bogus health products like homeopathic remedies. They also sell a despicable magazine, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, that was created by the infamous Lynne McTaggert and Bryan Hubbard and is full of false claims and potentially dangerous advice, including anti-vaccine propaganda. This chain of “healthy” supermarkets is promoting quackery and conspiratorial rubbish. 

Moxibustion (Mark Crislip)
 
Burning mugwort over acupoints is yet another TCM modality with no utility for the treatment of any illness and with known complications such as burns, infections (including hepatitis C), and allergic reactions. The underlying mechanism is ludicrous, and systematic reviews of scientific studies are not supportive.

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 05:00

Here is a rundown of the attempt to turn people away from science and reason this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

 

We have two big sarcastic "Thanks" to groups who make the world a more ignorant place. First, thanks to ghost hunters around the world for making people believe every noise, camera artifact or blip in the electromagnetic field is OH MY GOD, A GHOST! (And Thanks to USA Today for a total credulous story.)

And thanks to reprehensible anti-vaccination advocates who put babies in the hospital because of their propaganda.

In a related story, we were genuinely happy to report that restaurant chain Chili's backed down on a charitable event that would have given money to an anti-vax organization. Cheers!

In other alternative medicine news this week, we profiled another example of acupuncture not being so safe, let alone effective.

And it was Homeopathy Awareness Week. We made sure to join the voices yelling, "There's nothing in it!"

Say it ain't so, Captain Janeway? And she did say it. A new anti-science film sparks controversy which will unfortunately be great for ratings.

Our readers help figure out what's behind some photo mysteries circulating on the web. Come join the fun. 

Is this greenish glow a ghost? A glitch? We have some ideas.

Another strange anomaly showed up on Mars. A Martian flair? Or did that darn camera trick us again?

Finally, we have two updates on mysterious visuals from last week. Revisit these stories to see about the deer in the UFO headlights and the near miss meteoroid filmed by skydiver.

Add DoubtfulNews.com to your RSS feed or follow us on Twitter @doubtfulnews so you won't miss a story. You can even subscribe to the blog via email and have story links delivered to your email box as they post. Our Facebook page is also a great way to check in. Send your story tips to editor@doubtfulnews.com

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 18:59

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

 

Mammography and the acute discomfort of change (David Gorski)
Clinicians are slow to embrace new findings from research. Two new studies cast more doubt on the standard guidelines for screening mammography. Overdiagnosis is a problem, and we have no data on woman over age 75. It’s frustrating for doctors who have to decide whether to stick to existing guidelines until new ones are issued based on new evidence or to use their own judgment about individual patients.

Ridiculous Warning from Chiropractors About Alleged Health Effects of Texting (Harriet Hall)
A chiropractic organization has warned that using mobile phones for texting could cause hyperkyphosis and shorten your life, and that poor posture is as big a health risk as obesity. They are wrong about these and a lot of the other claims on their website. They don’t even mention the real danger of texting: accidents that occur when people pay more attention to their phone than to traffic.

Another Damning Homeopathy Report (Steven Novella)
Homeopathy is nonsense. A new report from Australia confirms what we already knew:  the evidence shows it does not work. There is no rational justification for further investment in this pre-scientific and disproved notion.

New evidence, same conclusion: Tamiflu only modestly useful for influenza (Scott Gavura)
The drug Tamiflu is recommended for prevention and treatment of influenza and is stockpiled for use in a pandemic. Unpublished research has now been added to the dataset, but it hasn’t changed what we already knew. The benefits of Tamiflu are limited, but it may have a role in selected patients and in preventing the spread of influenza.

Amber Waves of Woo (John Snyder)
Teething necklaces made of amber beads continue to be popular. The alleged mechanisms of action range from the hilarious (“activates the solar plexus and root chakra”) to the just barely plausible. There is no evidence that they work and no reason to think they might work. And necklaces are hazardous to young children: they could cause strangulation.

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 21:49

In recent weeks we’ve been following the tragedy and mystery of the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 that vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board. Less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing all communication was cut off. The plane diverted unexpectedly across the Indian Ocean and disappeared from civilian air traffic control screens. There has been much controversy surrounding the transcript of the last incoming transmission between the air traffic controller and the cockpit of the ill-fated flight.

  

We tend to have a morbid fascination with people’s last words. We assign profound meaning and philosophical insights to the final words uttered by those who face their fate ahead of us. There are numerous books and websites that chronicle the linguistic legacies of famous people such as Douglas Fairbank’s ironic, “I’ve never felt better”, to Woodrow Wilson’s courageous, “I am ready”, and the betrayal expressed in Julius Caesar’s, “Et tu, Brute?” Planecrashinfo.com maintains a database of last words from cockpit recordings, transcripts, and air traffic control tapes. These are disturbing announcements of impeding doom including, “Actually, these conditions don’t look very good at all, do they?” through to an assortment of cuss words, and moving farewells, “Amy, I love you.”

Commentators’ speculation surrounding the last words from the cockpit of MH 370 doesn’t only satisfy the public’s curiosity, but it was hoped to reveal the plane’s fate. During the early stages of the investigation, Malaysian authorities stated that the pilot’s hand-off was the unceremonious “All right, goodnight”. The informal nature of this phrasing increased suspicions that the plane was taken over by hijackers and the pilot was under immense psychological stress. If terrorists stormed the cockpit and seized the controls they might not be familiar with the complex register spoken by pilots. Alternatively, it was feared that such unconventional language might suggest that the pilot was suicidal, or a political fanatic who tried to sabotage the flight. (Some “experts” even believe that the Bermuda Triangle is to blame.) 

However, new information has now come to light that fills in the blanks. The Malaysian Transport Ministry has released the full transcript of the final communications between MH370 and the Kuala Lumpur air traffic controllers:

12:46:51 MAS 370 Lumpur Control Malaysian Three Seven Zero

12:46:51 ATC Malaysian Three Seven Zero Lumpur radar Good Morning climb flight level two five zero

12:46:54 MAS370 Morning level two five zero Malaysian Three Seven Zero

12:50:06 ATC Malaysian Three Seven Zero climb flight level three five zero

12:50:09 MAS370 Flight level three five zero Malaysian Three Seven Zero

01:01:14 MAS370 Malaysian Three Seven Zero maintaining level three five zero

01:01:19 ATC Malaysian Three Seven Zero

01:07:55 MAS370 Malaysian...Three Seven Zero maintaining level three five zero

01:08:00 ATC Malaysian Three Seven Zero

01:19:24 ATC Malaysian Three Seven Zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9 Good Night

01:19:29 MAS370 Good Night Malaysian Three Seven Zero

The final words were not “All right, goodnight”, but the more self-referential, “Good night Malaysian Three Seven Zero” (although Malaysian authorities didn’t explain the discrepancy with the initial account and why they let it stand uncorrected for weeks.) This correct transcript and its context shows that there was nothing out of the ordinary in this final transmission. According to the standard protocol for sign-off, the pilot names the air traffic controller, repeats their message, and closes off with the aircraft’s call sign. As we can see, the speaker didn’t address the air traffic control facility or repeat the final message. However, airline safety experts have stated that there was nothing strange about this sign-off, or even the incorrect version of the transmission.

Unfortunately, these final words from the cockpit don’t offer any clues about the plane’s disappearance, and what actually happened remains a mystery for the time being.  

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author, skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Foundation. You can follow Karen on Twitter here. 


 

References

Federal Aviation Administration. Radio Communications Phraseology and Techniques.  https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/aim0402.html

Pearson, Michael and Jim Clancy. April 2, 2014. Report: MH370 disappearance a criminal investigation, police chief says. http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/01/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-plane/index.html?hpt=hp_t1  

Plane Crash Info. http://www.planecrashinfo.com/lastwords.htm

MAS 370 Pilot ATC Radiotelephony Transcript. http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2014/images/04/01/transcript.pdf

Author: "kstollznow@berkeley.edu (Dr. Karen Stollznow)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 05:00

Here is a rundown of hoaxes, flops, and downright lucky breaks this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

 

The biggest weird and wonderful news stories this week involved animals. Doubtful News was the first non-woo-woo site to address the claims that animals were fleeing Yellowstone from some mysterious sense of coming doom. They weren't and here's why.

Any hairless animal is, by default, called a "chupacabra" (goat-sucker) and demonized in the media. This poor raccoon became a media star but deserved better treatment than that.

What was going on in these game cam pictures of a deer in Mississippi? It looks mysterious until you look closer.

In another geological hoax, a fake letter was circulated around southern California warning of an impending earthquake.

I wonder if this art exhibition has anything to do with a historic hoax of fairy photos. I'd worry if it doesn't.

It's unclear if this claim of a skydiver encountering a falling meteor is real or a hoax.

It's also unclear if these psychics who claim to have found a missing body were really any help at all. All we have is a story.

A miracle? No, this guy was extremely fortunate in this unfortunate turn of events - the Pennsylvania Chainsaw Miracle.

A Christian college disses its biology professors. Morale tanks. No surprise there.

In Australia, a court rules for a father who wants his children vaccinated in spite of the mother's anti-vax views.

The aliens have landed? For some reason, the small town of Elwood, Kansas was the target of a crazy social media frenzy.

Presidents are curious about the UFO question.

Gee, exorcists are getting younger and younger.

Finally, Doubtful News has a thumbnail guide to media sources that are so sensationalized and wackadoodle that we don't even address their claims. They are "beyond doubtful". You'll recognize many of the woo-meisters.

Come visit Doubtfulnews.com for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to  editor@doubtfulnews.com and please SHARE the stories you like with your social circles. 

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 22:23

Bernie Madoff worked hard to rob his victims of billions of dollars. Be it Monte or Madoff, con artists are skilled deceivers who understand human foibles and can use these skills to take unfair advantage. While there are always observers who are quick to blame the victim, people duped by con artists are not perpetrators. While it is true that human psychology and flawed thinking may help us become co-conspirators in such predations, nevertheless blaming the victim offers neither insight nor explanation. If we are going to understand how and why such schemes are successful, we must credit the con man.

 

The Honest Liar is presented by JREF Senior Fellow, magician and scientific skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss. Follow Jamy as he uses critical thinking, skepticism, and a healthy dose of humor, along with his expertise in legerdemain, to explore the facts behind false claims. 

Author: "tdonnelly@randi.org (JREF Staff)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 17:46

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

 

A little more weekend shameless self-promotion to spread an important message about Stanislaw Burzynski (David Gorski)
David Gorski and Bob Blaskiewicz were interviewed on the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast about Dr. Burzynski. Burzynski supporters have had some success pressuring the FDA to allow children access to antineoplastons; supporters of science-based medicine can help counter their influence through a Change.org petition and other efforts.  

Autism prevalence: Now estimated to be one in 68, and the antivaccine movement goes wild (David Gorski)
The CDC has released a new estimate of autism prevalence: 1 in 68 of eight year olds, causing hysteria in the antivaccine crowd. The numbers vary by sex, race, and geographic location. The rise in autism is mainly due to better diagnosis, more availability of services, and more public awareness. Environmental factors may be involved, but scientific studies have exonerated vaccines.

Water Birth (Again) (Harriet Hall)
Many claims have been made for the benefits of labor and delivery in water; the only claim supported by evidence is a decrease in pain during labor. Underwater birth offers only risks without benefits; it has been compared to giving birth in a toilet, because babies can inhale bacteria-contaminated water. 

Chiropractic: A Summary of Concerns (Sam Homola)
An up-to-date summary of information about chiropractic by a retired chiropractor. While spinal manipulation has evidence-based uses, the chiropractic “subluxation” is an implausible belief system, and there is no evidence that manipulation benefits any condition other than uncomplicated mechanical-type back pain. Patients who choose chiropractic care should look for a chiropractor who doesn’t subscribe to irrational beliefs.

Bob and I are now published in Skeptical Inquirer (David Gorski)
Two articles by Bob Blaskiewicz and David Gorski about the dubious Houston cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski were published in Skeptical Inquirer and are now available online. One is a primer on Burzynski, the other offers suggestions about what supporters of science-based medicine can do to protect cancer patients.

Maryland legislature passes naturopathic licensing bill, but with damage control (Jann Bellamy)
Maryland has passed a bill giving naturopaths part of what they wanted (licensing and the right to diagnose and treat any patient of any age with any disease or condition) but denying them the right to perform minor office procedures, surgery, colonic irrigation, prescribe drugs, or administer non-prescription remedies (vitamins, minerals, etc.) by transdermal, subcutaneous, or IV routes, or to call themselves “physicians.” 

Hickey (Mark Crislip)
Cupping is an ancient therapy used to produce “hickeys” at acupuncture points. There is no reason to imagine it could have any effect on disease other than a placebo effect. The only studies showing efficacy are poorly-controlled and only look at subjective endpoints.

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Friday, 04 Apr 2014 18:36

Some people see human tragedies as a time for empathy, sympathy, or charity.

Then there are those who see it as an opportunity. 

It didn’t take long after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014, for Uri Geller to take to the airwaves and claim that he was asked to help in the search for the plane.

There should be nothing surprising about this. The most dangerous place on planet earth might be trying to stand between Uri Geller and a TV camera. 

What is perhaps surprising is how many people believe his claim. 

I don’t.

Occam’s Razor – a useful tool in critical thinking, and one frequently helpful in dealing with the likes of Mr. Geller (Example: How might one cause a compass to move? Psychic powers, or a magnet?) – advises us to begin solving any mystery by first considering the simplest possible explanation.

Applying this to Mr. Geller’s claim would suggest that – quite simply – no one called on Mr. Geller at all.

“I have been asked by a substantial figure in Malaysia who I know…”

Uh… really? Who exactly? And why haven’t they owned up to doing so? 

Because you’re a useless self-promoting exploiter of human misery, Mr. Geller? 

Even some magicians and mentalists seem to have bought into Mr. Geller’s claim. P.T. Barnum never actually said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but some of them are apparently magicians. Who seem to see Mr. Geller as an admirable role model (they even gave him a standing ovation at an American magic convention a year or so ago. But that’s a story for a another day, and one I will eventually get to). Meanwhile: Wonders may never cease, but there’s no reason to wonder about Mr. Geller’s intentions regarding Flight 370. His entire career tells us all we need to know. Human tragedy as fuel for self-promotion. The leopard does not change its spots. 

Following the plane’s disappearance, Geller went on Twitter to crowd-source where his followers might think the plane would be. He claimed he was doing this based on his belief in remote viewing.

Seems more like a belief in cheap instant free publicity. Seems like a way to just add the noisy distraction of a self-promoting clown to a serious and tragic subject and a life-and-death investigation. I remember a Yiddish expression my grandmother used to use. “You speak, and a goose pees.”  The value being considered equivalent. 

In a radio interview, Geller says, “My gut feeling tells me that somebody either broke into the cockpit and forced the pilot to take that route – someone who had the knowledge how the instruments work, a very good knowledge, on that aircraft. But my even stronger intuitive feeling tells me that there was something to do with the pilot, and I said that almost from the beginning. And that’s … that’s all I can say. I know more information but I cannot reveal it.” 

And this an opinion that is any more useful than stopping a random passerby on the street? Well the only difference is the random passerby would leave out the part about “I know more…”  I call bullshit, Uri.

And then there’s this – the part where he has learned to pretend empathy. Like a man who smiles by reading what a smile looks like: 

“I’m optimistic but I have to be careful because it’s a sensitive issue. There are those families in distress who are hoping that their loved ones are safe and well somewhere      on the ground. So, yeah, I’m very careful what I put out now. I didn’t realize that there will also be some negative reaction to what I said. I put it on very innocently to see what the people who follow Uri Geller have to say. But I think that I did contribute something. And hopefully whoever took that information, presented it to the right sources, and they will derive accurate information from it. And my heart does go out to all those families and people who are waiting for their loved ones.”

Crawl back under a rock, Uri. When you’re out in the daylight like this, we can smell you coming a mile away.

Author: "jis@jamyianswiss.com (Jamy Ian Swiss)" Tags: "Swift"
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Hail Mary   New window
Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 16:25

Marie-PauleA few days ago, Joseph of Quebec, Canada, contacted me with a suggestion should I decide to write a sequel to God Bless America. Joseph was a former member of the Roman Catholic cult the Army of Mary. He was raised in the group before fleeing them during his twenties, although his family are still dedicated members. Joseph thanks James Randi for instilling in him a sense of skepticism that was instrumental to him leaving the group.  

The Army of Mary (Armée de Marie), also known as the Community of the Lady of All Nations (Communauté de la Dame de tous les Peuples) is a Marian sect with its headquarters at Spiri Maria, in the rural village of Lac Etchemin, Quebec. 92-year old mystic Marie-Paule Giguère founded the group in 1971. In its heyday, the Army of Mary had 25,000 followers (who call themselves “Knights of Mary”) and thousands of members can still be found across 14 countries, including France, Italy, and the United States. 

The Army of Mary is a cult of devotion to the Virgin Mary, who just happens to be Giguère. That is, the group’s charismatic leader claims she is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. They have come under fire for this claim, so they tend to reframe their beliefs for the public. As Army of Mary priest Jean-Pierre Mastropietro explains, Giguère “is fully enveloped by God. She prays every day, but her life is so attached to that of Mary’s that she isn’t Mary but she is Mary at the same time. If we try to explain it we’ll change its meaning.” Sometimes, Giguère just calls herself “Queen of the Universe”. The group doesn’t believe in the holy trinity but in the “quinternity” - the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and Mary (that is, Giguère). The maverick group formed their own church, the Church of John, and declared Lac Etchemin to be their “new Vatican”. They have their own nuns (“Daughters of Mary”), and ordain their own priests (“Sons of Mary”). They also canonize saints, while Mastropietro is known for wearing a Byzantium crown and thinking himself to be their pope.

 

Giguère reports to have received revelations from God, Jesus, and Mary since she was 12 years old. This modern-day mother of Jesus outlines her mystic experiences within fifteen volumes of her autobiography Life of Love. The books include her prophecies, including the death of Pope Pius XII and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Like the Latter Day Saints, the Army of Mary has a prophet, Marc Bosquart (who they also crowned as the “King of France”, although he’s actually Belgian). The Army of Mary believes in miracles and divine healings, and venerates the pious fraud Padre Pio. They believe in conspiracy theories and make many anti-science claims, including their denial of evolution. On a social level, the Army of Mary preaches love and community, but they are openly homophobic. They also teach that problems and misfortune are caused by a lack of faith, and insufficient donating to their church. To combat these every-day curses, followers take turns at praying around the clock.

During the late 1970’s the Army of Mary had ecclesiastical support as a “Pious Organization” of the Catholic Church. As a result of their belief in reincarnation, they experienced ongoing conflict with the Church (or the Church of Peter, as they call it, because Peter was one of the Apostles and the very first Pope). The Church revoked the group’s status as a Catholic organization, and in September 12, 2007, the Vatican issued a declaration excommunicating all members of the Army of Mary. Their writings and teachings were deemed heretical, dangerous, and “un-Catholic”. Giguère concluded that there were satanic influences at work within the Catholic Church.

The more I delved into Giguère’s predictions it seemed that they were postdictions, that is, predictions that were made after the fact. For example, soon after 9/11, Giguère claimed that she had envisioned the falling towers years earlier. In fact, followers believe that 9/11 was a direct result of their excommunication. They don’t always make postdictions; sometimes their predictions are flat out wrong. According to The Army of Mary, their founder was supposed to pass away on her birthday, September 14, 2013, the Day of the Holy Cross. Instead, the day passed by uneventfully. 

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author, skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Foundation. You can follow Karen on Twitter here.


 

References

Gareau, Paul. 2009. Unveiling the Army of Mary: A Gendered Analysis of a Conservative Catholic Marian Devotional Organization. Concordia University. 

Unam Sanctam Catholicam. http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2007/09/army-of-mary-members-excommunicated.html

World Religions & Spirituality Project. Virginia Commonwealth University. http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/profiles/ArmyOfMary.htm

Author: "kstollznow@berkeley.edu (Dr. Karen Stollznow)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 19:23

Here is a rundown of the hoaxes and questionable claims that captivated the webways this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

 

The Unsurprising Big News of the week is hoaxer Rick Dyer admitting his latest Bigfoot in a box claim was a hoax. Ho hum…

Also unsurprising is the lengths creationists will go to in order to appear credible, such as add a real scientist as an author of a paper he had nothing to do with! That's a retraction.

There was some truly bizarre news this week. This one was entertaining - Are men in North Korea forced to get the Kim Jong-Un haircut?

A grandmother claims her cable box has been hijacked by a malicious hacker.

Accusations of goblin-wrangling has cost this headmaster his job in Zimbabwe.

Some sicko actually glued razor blades on to playground equipment! This was not a hoax.

A man in search of a magical stone saves an unborn porcupine.

Can you wake up from a coma with psychic powers? Some people perceive it to be so.

In violent Central Africa, people rely on magic because they are simply desperate.

In the U.S., the final Marks clan member from a psychic roundup has been sentenced.

Is Gettysburg becoming the hub of paranormal tourism? It sure seems so, which is a shame.

Some U.S. self-proclaimed psychic detectives are making their case on a Japanese TV show.

Wikipedia founder made a popular splash this week by standing his ground on not allowing woo-woo regarding alternative medicine.

Finally, the most important is saved for last. Do your part. Sign this petition as a first step in making your voice heard in Congress regarding the Burzynski Clinic and there very problematic and unproven use of antineoplastons for cancer treatment.

Come visit Doubtfulnews.com for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to editor@doubtfulnews.com

 

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 20:41

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

 

Stanislaw Burzynski’s propaganda victory on antineoplastons: The FDA caves (David Gorski)
Cancer patients who believe Burzynski’s “antineoplastons” are their only hope of survival have put pressure on the FDA, and it has agreed to issue compassionate use exemptions within 24 hours if an independent oncologist requests it and administers the treatment. This deflects criticism from the FDA, but it remains to be seen whether any oncologist can be persuaded to administer antineoplastons; and since it would amount to an uncontrolled experiment, it is unlikely to generate any useful data about effectiveness.  

Point-of-Care Ultrasound: The Best Thing Since Stethoscopes? (Harriet Hall)
Medical students are being given hand-held ultrasound devices and are being taught to use them as part of the physical exam. They allow doctors to see into the body and learn far more than they can from just listening to sounds with a stethoscope. They have a multitude of uses and are an exciting development in applying technology to patient care – not a Star Trek tricorder yet, but a step in that direction.

More Measles Myths (Steven Novella)
 
Vaccine myths continue to mislead the public. Recently, it was claimed that 2-5% of children who get the MMR vaccine contract measles from it. The measles in MMR is a live, attenuated strain of virus that can occasionally cause a mild rash but cannot cause full-blown measles. Another persistent myth is that having measles is preferable to vaccines because measles is benign and natural infection builds the immune system.

More questions about acetaminophen: Does it cause ADHD? (Scott Gavura)
A new study found a correlation between acetaminophen in pregnancy and ADHD in children. Results may have been due to unexamined confounders, and the absolute risk was tiny. Acetaminophen remains the drug of choice for pain during pregnancy.

An Update on Water Immersion During Labor and Delivery (Clay Jones)
 
The practice of labor and delivery while immersed in water is increasingly common. Water immersion may have a small influence on the need for pain medications; but there is no evidence that it improves outcomes for mother or baby. Rare but potentially catastrophic risks have been reported, including torn umbilical cords, infections from inhalation of bacteria-contaminated water, and even deaths.

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 16:37

Here is a rundown of paranormal, skeptical and quacktastic news stories that made it into the media this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

 

Let's start out with a few paranormal events that made the news. A store owner catches some destructive activity on security camera.

A family experiences poltergeist activity and a mystery photo suddenly appears.

In not so paranormal news, psychics appear on news stations to fill time about the missing Malaysian aircraft.

A skeptical voice is respected regarding a mystery animal sighting in the U.K. It's about time!

There was considerable activity regarding questionable medical claims this week.

In disturbing news, the FDA has allowed the compassionate use of antineoplaston treatment for terminally ill cancer patients even though there is no evidence it works but may be toxic. The good news is that infamous doctor Stan Burzynski, proponent of the treatment, is not allowed to administer it. Patients are having trouble finding oncologists who will.

Acceptance of medical conspiracy theories is alive and well in the U.S.

It may be thanks to media stories like this: Mother claims MSG food additive causes autism.

Errol Denton, a practitioner of completely dubious cancer treatment claims has been reprimanded in the U.K.

 Are children in Mexico being kidnapped for their organs? This actually makes little sense but makes for a scary media story.

A paper on climate change deniers is retracted by a journal because of legal claims. It's a credibility tip off when the complainants can't argue the results, so bring in threats instead. 

Mr. Teller prevails in a magical art copyright case.

The mystery of the week is what caused this plume caught on radar in New Mexico. Military tests? Volcanic vent? The conspiracy theorists are intrigued.

Come visit Doubtfulnews.com for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to editor@doubtfulnews.com

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 24 Mar 2014 17:10

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

 

A tale of quackademic medicine at the University of  Arizona Cancer Center (David Gorski)
The father of a child with leukemia discovered that the UA Cancer Center offered reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, and other alternative treatments they claimed would “heal” and boost the immune system. His complaint to the Director went unanswered. Further investigation revealed even more nonsense like distance healing. Under the rubric of “integrative oncology,” quackery has been embraced by academic medicine, hopelessly confusing science with pseudoscience in the patient’s mind.

A bit of shameless self-promotion: Dr. Gorski interviewed by Point of Inquiry about Stanislaw Burzynski (David Gorski)
Includes a link to the interview about the notorious doctor who profits from the desperation of cancer patients.

Nature vs. Technology (Harriet Hall)
In a new book, Nathanael Johnson questions the “natural” beliefs of his hippie parents and investigates the science behind diet, childbirth, healing, and the environment. He fully accepts science-based medicine, but his understanding of the “natural” perspective provides insights about how an over-reliance on technology risks trading away the things that make life worth living. He envisions ways to integrate “natural” values with technology.

Medical Conspiracies (Steven Novella)
A recent survey of  belief in conspiracies about cancer cure cover-ups, GMO foods, vaccines, cellphones, and fluoridation found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. Conspiracy belief correlates negatively with medical behaviors: believers are more likely to turn to alternative medicine and to refuse vaccines. It is important to understand the conspiracy phenomenon and to combat it by improving public understanding of the science of medicine.

Naturopathy vs. Science: Allergy Edition (Scott Gavura)
Allergies are one of the top conditions treated by naturopaths. Along with some useful advice, they promote unvalidated and useless tests, unproven and ineffective treatments, potentially harmful practices, and arrant nonsense like homeopathy and “cleanses.” They prioritize philosophy over science, disregard scientific knowledge about allergies, and fail to offer treatments known to be effective.

Agnotology: The Study of Ignorance (Mark Crislip)
Ignorance can be overcome or embraced. It can be generated by secrecy, stupidity, apathy, censorship, disinformation, faith, and forgetfulness.  It can be the result of selective choice, and it is often used as a strategic ploy in the pseudo-medical world. One example is a naturopath’s rejection of everything science has learned about tetanus. He claims the disease is due to filth, not to a germ, that it should be treated only with fasting and hygiene, and that vaccination is unnecessary: advice that is certain to kill.

 

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 17:30

Professional con artist and pseudo-psychic Rose Marks was sentenced on March 3rd to more than ten years in prison following her conviction last September on charges of defrauding clients of more than $17 million.

The sentencing brought to a conclusion a lengthy process that began with the charging of Marks along with eight other family members in August of 2011. Eventually the eight others reached plea bargains, and have gradually been sentenced over the past six months. Rose Marks ended up going to trial as a sole defendant.

I have written previously about the various stages of the trial in a number of blog pieces. Here is the “Sun-Sentinel’s” story about the sentencing of Rose Marks:

 http://touch.sun-sentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-79503099/

It is worth taking a close look at several elements of the finale events.  The article summarizes elements of Marks’s predations, as testified to at trial by her victims, and of “how she exploited them during vulnerable times in their lives,” including how Marks victimized famed romance author Jude Devereaux and “exploited her grief after Devereaux’s 8-year-old son, Sam, died in an ATV accident…”

 

These are clearly the willful and deliberate predations of a predator, despite Marks’s claims that “I didn't realize what I was doing was wrong,” along with her attempt to blame “many of her crimes on alcohol and prescription drug abuse as well as a gambling addiction.” 

However, it bears taking a close look at remarks from the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, who barred testimony in the trial from an expert investigator.  Quoting at length from the story:

The judge said he didn't believe the fraud was sophisticated and, responding to the defense's argument that the Roma, or Gypsy, family was following a centuries-old tradition of fortune-telling, said he believed the fraud was operated more like "a family tradition."

He wondered aloud about the "outlandish" nature of the tales Marks and her family told their clients and why anyone would fall for the absurd promises and predictions they made.

"I'm certainly not a psychologist and I can't try to figure out why any rational human being would have believed any of the representations being made," Marra said. "These people, for whatever reason, wanted to believe these crazy stories that were being told to them. …There's something else in their mental makeup, their psychological make up, that caused them to want to believe in this." 

Collectively these comments address why the judge elected to sentence Marks to far less than the recommendations of the prosecutors, recommendations that ran between 22 and 27 years. There is nothing unusual about prosecutors asking for longer sentences and judges choosing not to comply, however in this case the judge’s reasoning is what is of interest. I’m not sure what is meant by whether or not the fraud was “sophisticated,” for example. It is commonly known that these Roma storefront psychic families cooperate and share information about clients, for example, in their operations in both New York City and South Florida. So what does “sophisticated” mean?

That this kind of psychic fraud is a “family tradition” in the Roma culture, where women are frequently raised to assume roles as storefront psychics in the family business, while men are often trained to become felons who practice home invasion and phony roofing scams, is certainly a fact. How this somehow reduces their responsibility is mysterious to me, however. Loan sharking, protection, drug distribution and murder for hire are all common in the mafia, another kind of organized crime which is sometimes, especially in its past origins, family based, but I never heard of this being used as a defense.

But most significantly for skeptics, note the judge’s mystification at the apparent credulity of the victims. Note that further in the story:

Though prosecutors argued that the victims were almost all particularly vulnerable because they were coping with bereavement, bad relationships, personal or family illness and other challenges, Marra pointed out that many of the victims were well-educated.

And so thus, while the victims were “well educated,” their education did no protect them from the skills of the con artists, yet somehow this demonstrates to the judge that the victims deserve to share the blame for their own destruction. This is classic blame-the-victim thinking that so often is brought on such sufferers, and another reason among many that they so often refuse to go public and press charges.

Although I was relieved to see Marks convicted at trial, it was cause for concern when the judge barred testimony from detective Bob Nygaard, an expert investigator in gypsy and psychic crime, on the grounds that the jury could make up their own minds as to whether crimes had been committed. But I have little doubt that Nygaard could have helped to shed light on the workings of these criminals, and how skilled their predator techniques and relentless their operations are. Also, perhaps Nygaard could have helped to provide insight into the many reasons these psychological techniques work on victims, and the role played by cognitive dissonance.

At least one con artist has now been taken off the streets, protecting future victims. But crimes such as these will hardly be slowed by this prosecution, successful as it was, and law enforcement professionals need to stay both informed and aggressive if we are to ever have a significant impact on such “family business.”  As I say in my 2013 TAM talk, (as well as in my next Honest Liar video), skeptics should not blame the victims – rather, we must always, credit the con man.

 

Author: "jis@jamyianswiss.com (Jamy Ian Swiss)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 14:42

Here is a rundown of strange and intellectually bankrupt news stories that made it into the media this week courtesy of Doubtful News.

We kept adding to our post on the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as new fringe ideas emerged. No psychic claimed to predict it, yet, but one particularly media-hungry so-called remote viewer got in on the act and, frankly, was completely unhelpful. It was embarrassing, actually. But what was he going to do, bend the spoons on board?

 

KEVIN TRUDEAU, serial fraudster, gets 10 years in jail! There is much rejoicing. This is excellent news.

Jenny McCarthy had an eye-opening social media fail this week thanks to all the smart and skeptical posters who pointed out that pushing dangerous misinformation is actually an important thing NOT to have in a potential mate.

The stress was too much for him a pastor drops dead during an emotional confession in front of his congregation.

Talk about faithful! The followers of this guru or godman in India will not accept that he is dead. He's just in a really deep trance. In the freezer. For six weeks.

Creationism goes to college: Indiana lawmakers are annoyed with a public university and are groaning about a decision that concludes "Intelligent Design" is not science.

We helped expose a hoax dug out by one of our U.K. readers regarding a black panther sighting in Essex.

A sure fire way to get passionate, sometimes hateful comments on your site is to talk skeptically about Morgellon's disease. All I said was "It's complicated"… 

Finally, there was very disturbing confirmation that ignorant, greedy humans are pushing the amazing pangolin ever close to extinction. Thanks to traditional chinese medicine quack treatments, these rare mammals are being killed and smuggled in huge numbers. Find out what you can do to help stop it.

Come visit Doubtfulnews.com for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to  editor@doubtfulnews.com

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Monday, 17 Mar 2014 14:33

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine. 

 

Has science-based medicine already lost to pseudoscience? (David Gorski)
A recent survey found that the majority of health care providers are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for themselves and are recommending it to their patients. Doctors are flocking to the new “integrative medicine” specialty. Has a tipping point been passed? Maybe not: much of the “CAM” use involves things like exercise, diet, and manipulative therapies that are actually part of mainstream medicine. Most physicians are actually dismissive of CAM, although many of them are “shruggies” who don’t stand up for science-based medicine.

Accused of Lying about ASEA: Not Guilty (Harriet Hall)
Dr. Hall wrote that the diet supplement water ASEA was not supported by published studies; a distributor claimed she was lying, because a PubMed search for ASEA brings up 102 studies. It does indeed, but 84 are studies by authors named Asea, and the rest are about everything from alfalfa extracts to nuclear power plants, with nary a word about the product ASEA. There is one unpublished study, and their “boatload of patents” consists of 4 patents for electrolysis.  There is still no reason to think ASEA is anything more than overpriced water.

Oil Pulling Your Leg (Steven Novella)
Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurveda method of swishing oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes to allegedly prevent cavities and provide other health benefits. It’s being promoted as a cure-all. What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouthwash for removing mouth bacteria, is useless for general health or other indications, and carries a risk of lipoid pneumonia.

When healing turns into killing: religious and philosophical exemptions from parental accountability (Jann Bellamy)
Special interest groups claim “parental rights” to choose faith healing or quack remedies for their children, and Christian Scientists are lobbying for religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act. Children deserve rational, science-based health care. There is no constitutionally protected right to harm a child via the denial of medical treatment; all laws that allow religious and philosophical exemptions should be repealed.

Nightmares, Night Terrors and Potential Implications for Pediatric Mental Health… (Clay Jones)
A study suggested a link between early childhood nightmares/night terrors and future psychotic experiences; but it missed some glaring potential confounders, and it doesn’t constitute cause for concern. Dr. Jones reviews sleep and sleep problems in children. Most nightmares and night terrors are normal, but children with mental illness do sometimes present with severe or persistent nightmares or night terrors, so doctors should keep that possibility in mind.

Author: "harriet.hall@comcast.net (Harriet Hall)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Friday, 14 Mar 2014 16:17

Almost everyday I’m contacted by someone with a paranormal claim. Sometimes they phone me. A few years ago I received a call from a stranger who blurted out gibberish as soon as I answered the phone. He was “speaking in tongues” over the phone for me in his attempt to prove that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

My most recent call of this kind was from Pete of Tucson, Arizona. “Hi. I’m a psychic medium and one of the best in the country. People tell me I’m 99% accurate and I want to prove my abilities to you. Do you want a psychic reading?” he asked. “Sure. As long as you’re not charging me by the minute!” I said. “I don’t need the money,” he replied, missing my joke. 

 

Pete proceeded to reel off information about my nationality, qualifications, and interests. Everything he said was so accurate that this appeared to be a blatant hot reading, but he denied that he’d plucked these facts from the Internet. “I’m not anywhere near a computer,” he swore. Not that this would have precluded him from researching me before the call. “How about you demonstrate your mediumship abilities?” I asked. 

Pete paused as he connected to the other side. “Did your grandmother pass?” he asked. “You tell me,” I replied. “I have your grandmother here,” he decided. “She died about 2000.” I was surprised as this was correct. Still, I thought, it could be a lucky guess. I asked for her name. “I’m getting that she has an “r” in her name somewhere.” This is correct although vague. “R” is a very common letter and Pete couldn’t expand on her name. He continued, “She’s an intelligent lady and she likes to talk. I can’t keep up with her chatter!” My grandmother was an intelligent woman and she did like to chat, but this still wasn’t evidence of a paranormal connection. 

“What else can you tell me about her?” I asked. Pete was silent for a while. “She’s showing me animals. There are many animals. I’m seeing pure bred cats but also lots of stray cats and dogs.” This was true. My grandmother was a cat fancier who used to show her purebred Siamese and Burmese cats, but she loved animals and collected strays. 

I didn’t provide any feedback to Pete but asked him if he was seeing anything else from my grandmother. There was yet another long pause. “She said something about looking behind the wardrobe.” This was an amazing “hit”! These had been among the final words spoken by my grandmother. I was admittedly impressed with Pete’s reading, but suspicious at his accuracy. “Why don’t you apply for the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge?” I suggested. “No. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone,” he said, although he’d called me with the intention to “prove” his abilities to me. He also believed the Challenge to be rigged…

Pete’s phone call ended as mysteriously as it began. I sat thinking about his reading for some time, trying to recall if I’d ever mentioned my grandmother online anywhere. A few hours later it finally dawned on me. In 2004 I had investigated a psychic medium in Australia by the name of Artemis. I wrote a report about the encounter for The Australian Skeptics’ magazine, The Skeptic. I visited the group’s website and, lo and behold, it is still available online. I reread the article, and sure enough, it mentioned my grandmother’s pets, her final words, and the year she died. 

If a psychic reading seems too good to be true, it is probably a hot reading. Using an old article of mine for his research, Pete had given me the best hot reading I’ve ever had. This incident also serves as a reminder that people can access a lot of personal information online that they can use against you, especially if you have a public profile.

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author, skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Foundation. You can follow Karen on Twitter here.

Author: "kstollznow@berkeley.edu (Dr. Karen Stollznow)" Tags: "Swift"
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 20:15

Here is a rundown of fringe news stories of the week courtesy of Doubtful News.

As usual, there are plenty of headlines this week. We start out with the sentencing phase of the criminal case against so-called "psychic" Rose Marks. She did not receive the maximum sentence as the matriarch of the family who seem to constantly be in trouble with the law, but she gets 10 years in prison.

Bobby Drinnon, a psychic who chose to be known as an "intuitive" or "sensitive," has passed away from illness.

The craziest news story last week was the linkage between a questionable archaeological find, pyramids, with the conflict in the Ukraine. Never underestimate imagination.

Amazing what you might find just walking your dog in an NYC park. Eww.

This guy claims a monster bat was attacking his dog. He looks too gleeful now that this furry fruit eater is very dead. 

A woman is surprised that not everyone can deliberately imagine themselves outside their body.

I'm surprised that anyone thought these fake arrests were a good idea.

But it's NOT a surprise that many Americans are not literate when it comes to technical terms.

The staff of Bryan College is asked to promote scientifically illiteracy by affirming the Genesis story. 

With the desperate drought situation in California, water witching is becoming more prominent. It still doesn't work no matter how hard dowsers advocate that it does.

That pesky golf-ball finder, drug dowser, bomb-detector, Aids-Hepatitis curing thingy JUST won't DIE. There is now a patent in Romania to continue to produce it.

An infamous anti-vaccination group in Australia tries to best the skeptics by picking a new, controversial name. 

Finally, there are endless questions swirling about the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Where ever missing information occurs, mystery mongers will be sure to fill the gap with some outrageous idea. Watch as we track the fringe ideas being the plane's disappearance.

Come visit Doubtfulnews.com for more stories like this every day. Check out our twitter feed @doubtfulnews and our Facebook page. Send your story tips to  editor@doubtfulnews.com

Author: "idoubtit00@gmail.com (Sharon Hill)" Tags: "Swift"
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