Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day


Posted in JREF by Skepdude on January 25, 2010


Concerning the current ADE-651 dowsing-rod brouhaha in which the “inventor” and manufacturer James McCormick was arrested and then released on bail, BBC news has just quoted a senior Iraqi interior ministry official, Assistant Deputy Minister General Tareq al-Asl, as stating:

The reason the director of the company [James MCormick] was arrested was not because the device doesn’t work, but because he refused to divulge the secret of how it works to the British authorities, and the Americans before them.

Well, I don’t think so.

It was because UK agencies finally looked into this farce and found that the ADE-561 is one example of the widespread delusion so many people have that they can use sticks, twigs, wires, rods, or pendulums to detect people, explosives, lost dogs, gold, oil, or almost anything else. Ah, but Iraqi Assistant Deputy Minister General Tareq al-Asl is now eligible to win the JREF million-dollar prize, folks!


Forget Nessie, Israel’s got a mermaid!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 13, 2009

And a Million Dollar Challenge to go with it! The other day I wondered how deep the well of human gullability is.  Today, I learn it was a bit deeper than I thought!

According to numerous eyewitnesses, the mythical sea creature looks like a cross between a little girl and a dolphin, and only comes out at sunset. “People are telling us they are sure they have seen the mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” said Natti Zilberman, a local council spokesman.

They’re independent of each other. Well that settles it! A creature out of a Hollywood cartoon must therefore really exist!

Whatever the truth of the tale, it has done wonders for the tourist economy.

Oh ABC when will you learn the abc’s or critical thinking? “Whatever the truth“? Here’s the trugh in simple terms: People are stupid! Period!

Local officials are now offering a cash prize of $1 million for the first tourist to take a photograph of the mermaid.

Heh, local officials are slick. They are guaranteed the price will never be collected and the extra tourist money won’t hurt either. I make a prediction:  Just like the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge, this million dollar challenge will also go uncollected for a long, long, long…..long time!

Connie Sonne Preliminary Challenge Test at TAM 7

Posted in JREF by Skepdude on July 17, 2009


At the Amaz!ng Meeting 7, we conducted a Preliminary Challenge Test for the JREF million-dollar prize – the first time we’ve ever done this in front of a live audience. It was done with total transparency.  We invited all TAMgoers, as well as media representatives and famous skeptics and magicians, to attend a preliminary Challenge test of Ms. Connie Sonne.

For those who weren’t able to attend in person, we streamed the test live so those at home could watch from their computers. We had six hundred people watching from the audience, and 1,600 watching from home. The in-person audience included people like Penn and Teller, Mac King, Jamy Ian Swiss, Dr. Joe Albietz, and, of course, Randi. The video was viewed by people from all over the world, just as it happened in real time.

Connie Sonne had designed the parameters for her own test. She chose to dowse for the contents of double-enveloped playing cards on stage with the supervision of famous skeptic and mentalist, Banachek. She needed to identify three cards using her dowsing ability in order to pass to the Formal Challenge. She failed: she did not correctly identify any of the three cards, and her Challenge file has been closed – though she will be free to re-apply one year from the date of her test, assuming that she qualifies under the rules governing the Challenge at that time.

Sonne had agreed to give interviews and to participate in an exclusive press conference to discuss the procedure, following the test. Many in the audience were impressed at how gracefully she conducted herself despite having failed her test, while maintaining a firm belief in her dowsing abilities. The audience attending both the test and the press conference applauded her courage in appearing before so many people.

That opinion has since changed.

Sonne now claims that Banachek, who she agreed to accept as the official tester, had cheated her out of passing the preliminary test. As it happens, many individuals on both the JREF forums and attending the in-person press conference wondered aloud at our willingness to allow a “magician” to run the test, so I want to set the record straight.

Firstly, Banachek is a mentalist, not a magician. My response to the dissent in the press conference was pretty simple – Banachek simply did not have the opportunity to cheat in any way whatsoever. Even if you call him a “magician,” he is not actually magical. If I give a magician a top hat that I bought and searched, and never gave the magician any information on it before putting it in his hands, and then demanded that he make a rabbit appear from inside it, he would most probably be unable to do so. Magic seems unfathomable to an audience, but let’s face it, there is an explanation for each illusion that fits the laws of physics.


Sore Million Dollar Challenge Loser

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 14, 2009

Why are they such predictable sore loosers? Why Connie Sonne? If I had to make one psychic prediction I would bet everything that the MDC losers will inevitably claim that either they were cheated or that they did in fact pass the test with flying colors, even when they fall flat on their face.

Hi out there…now I know why Banacheck was “the card handler”. I have been cheated. I did find the right cards. And there is one more thing. At the stage, Banacheck said to me BEFORE he even looked in the envelope I had cut…and here is spade ace, the one you looked for!!!! I first hit me now about that ….but maybe you can see it yourself if someone get the video. I don`t care about the money, that wasn`t the reason why I came. So no matter what you think out there……I was CHEATED!!!!!

She capitalized the word cheated, so that settles that! Of course you were cheated dear Connie! Of course you did not do it for the money, dear Connie! May I suggest that next time you take the challenge and don’t do it for the money, that you arrange with the JREF to have the money donated, should you win, to the Red Cross or some other charity?

Amazing News

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 10, 2009

Via @krelnick on Twitter we get this bit of Amazing News:

BREAKING NEWS: @BadAstronomer announced at Amazing Meeting that the @JREF Million Dollar Challenge will continue!


A skeptic proves to be a better psychic than most psychics!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 10, 2009

A little while back I linked to the JREF entry about the failed Million Dollare Challenge test of  a certain Patricia Putt, who failed miserably with a score of 0!  Back then the good people at the JREF were giving her credit for being fair about the outcome of the test. As was reported:

According to the testers, Mrs. Putt took this failure well, and did not blame the test or the testers but rather her own powers for failing.

But I knew something was amiss. I knew that that could not last. So your good, friendly, and now psychic, Skepdude made the following prediction (at the bottom of my above referenced entry):

Skepdude predicts that even though she took the failure well and blamed her powers, this symptom is only temporary and within a short period of time, less than a full month, she will rationalize it away and keep on doing exactly what she was doing before she failed the test.

Was I right or what? JREF contacted the “psychic” to see what she thought of the failure, after she had had time to think it over. This is what she, unsurprisingly came back with:

“I’m not in the least disappointed that the results did not go my way.  I was stunned at first but when normal thought re-entered my head I realised that I was never going to win the barriers presented in the protocol were too much even for me to surmount,” Putt said in an e-mail on 8 May 2009.

Putt continued, “”With them [the volunteers] being bound from head to foot like black mummies, they themselves felt tied so were not really free to link with Spirit making my work a great deal more difficult,” Putt said.

I WAS RIGHT! She did rationalize it away! Of course it wasn’t her fault, she’s psychic no? So what were these insurmountable barriers that she had to face?

During the test, the volunteers were safeguarded from potentially giving information away with subconscious cues by donning a graduation gown and ski mask for the duration of their reading. They also faced away from Putt, and Putt was not permitted to see them enter the testing room.

She wasn’t allowed to cold read them! I’d say that pretty much wraps it up for all psychic “abilities”. Take away cold reading and they all strike out, swinging mind you, but they all strike out nevertheless. Looks like I’ve got a little bit of the cosmic power in me as well.

Patricia Putt Million Dollar Challenge Test Results In!

Posted in JREF by Skepdude on May 6, 2009

Patricia Putt, who claims she is psychic, took the preliminary test for the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge today. The test was conducted by Professor Richard Wiseman and Professor Christopher French. In order to pass her challenge test, Mrs. Putt was required to pen psychic readings for ten volunteers who were then asked to identify their own readings from the group. At least five volunteers would have had to correctly identify their own reading.

None did. Mrs. Putt’s readings were correctly identified by zero out of ten volunteers.

According to the testers, Mrs. Putt took this failure well, and did not blame the test or the testers but rather her own powers for failing.


Skepdude predicts that even though she took the failure well and blamed her powers, this symptom is only temporary and within a short period of time, less than a full month, she will rationalize it away and keep on doing exactly what she was doing before she failed the test.