Posts Tagged ‘JREF’
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 17, 2013
This past Sunday evening, I was interviewed on The Pink Atheist podcast/radio show. The topics of discussion were the vaccine survey research I was involved with and the importance of promoting a good pro-vaccine message, as well as talking about some of the physics behind various crazy demonstrations I perform both in and out of the classroom.
Click the link below for the full audio of my interview, which starts at the 20:25 mark. Enjoy!
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, atheism, atheist, bed of nails, children, data, discussion, God, immunization, information, interview, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, martial arts, medicine, miracle, misconceptions, mysticism, myth, opinion, parents, physics, podcast, pressure, radio, religion, research, science, show, skepticism, survey, talk, TAM7, The Amazing Meeting, The Pink Atheist, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 13, 2013
Over the last few years, one of the things I’ve done is to work on the Educational Advisory Board of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). One of this board’s functions is to help assemble a variety of lesson plans and modules which emphasize skepticism and critical thinking that can be distributed to teachers everywhere.
I am happy to pass along to you some of the latest lessons from our work at the JREF. Please feel free to share these as you see fit
New “JREF in The Classroom” Lesson Plans!
The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the release of four new additions to our JREF in the Classroom offerings:
Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?
Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]
Illusions: Our Visual System
Teacher Edition [PDF]
Cognition: Are You Rational?
Teacher Edition [PDF]
Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?
Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]
These are downloadable lesson plans for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that use topics in pseudoscience and the paranormal to teach critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. Each lesson is designed to expose students to concepts identified in the National Science Content Standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks.
These free lesson plans for teachers (and parents) are additions to JREF’s growing catalog of grade-specific standards-focused resources including lesson plans, activity guides, multimedia materials, and more. JREF’s aim with these free resources is to inspire an investigative spirit in the next generation of critical thinkers, providing the intellectual toolkit needed to navigate a life full of difficult decisions, confusing information, and conflicting claims.
Teachers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a free printed classroom kit for any of the eight topics available so far, and to get more information on ways to incorporate JREF’s critical thinking materials into their classrooms.
More information on these and other classroom resources can be found here ≫
And don’t miss JREF President D.J. Grothe’s appearance on the syndicated radio show America Weekend where he discusses JREF’s new free classroom resources. Listen now ≫
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: advisory, board, classroom, content, critical thinking, education, educators, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, lesson plans, modules, school, skepticism, standards, student, teacher | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 18, 2013
I am very pleased to announce that a ground-breaking survey conducted on the issue of people’s opinions regarding vaccines and vaccination has been published; the work was a joint project of the James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. and it gets to the heart of how those of us who support good science-based medicine can communicate a more positive message on vaccines.
In addition, I am happy to say that I took a personal role in this research during my time with the Women Thinking, Inc. organization
[**Addendum: My skeptical colleague, Jamie Bernstein, wrote a wonderful piece on this survey research over at Skepchick, and she outlines there just how many people were involved in this process over the last few years. Check it out!]
So, without further ado, I would like to link to the JREF’s press-release on the survey; please note that you can download the full paper at this link, so please share it!
The James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. have come together for an opinion survey aimed at better understanding the spread of the unfounded “vaccine panic” that prevents some parents from getting important immunizations for their children. The project, Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation, explores better ways to communicate a “vaccine-positive” message.
“Vaccine misconceptions have been running rampant, which should not only be concerning to science advocates but to parents and the greater public,” said WTinc President Louise Kellar. “Previously it had been unclear which misconceptions had been taking a toll on parents. Through this survey that the JREF funded, we hope that that science advocates and educators will be able to focus their outreach efforts, thereby helping children have the best start in life and hopefully saving some lives in the process.”
The joint project is an opinion survey that includes data from hundreds of parents of young children. The survey data was collected by volunteers at events where parents may be especially vulnerable to “anti-vaccine” messages. The JREF and Women Thinking, Inc. is happy to make the results freely available to public health and science advocates to help inform their efforts to support childhood immunity.
“There are some provocative conclusions that may be drawn from the survey data,” said JREF President D.J. Grothe. “Although the scientific community has done a good job refuting the misinformation of the most vocal anti-scientific anti-vaccine campaigners, the survey data suggests that most parents do understand the importance of ‘herd immunity,’ but just consider this a greater risk than possible harm to their children coming from vaccination. We hope the information from the survey will help science educators and activists better understand parents’ concerns in order to help them make the healthiest choices regarding childhood immunity from dangerous diseases.”
The JREF-WTinc survey, conducted over the last two years and released to the public today, aims to help science advocates fill gaps in the public’s understanding of the vaccine panic. The opinion survey asked specific questions about parents’ beliefs and fears about immunization, their media consumption, and their conversations with friends, family, and doctors. From the report: “The most effective anti-vaccination arguments are those that induce fear in parents by naming frightening ingredients and by greatly exaggerating the risks of vaccinations. The best pro-vaccination arguments were those that focused on a good-parenting message, such as suggesting that not immunizing your child is equivalent to putting them in a car without a car seat.”
You may download a copy of Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation here.
Click here to read the rest of the press-release
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, children, data, immunization, information, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, medicine, misconceptions, myth, opinion, parents, research, science, survey, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 24, 2013
I am very pleased to announce that the James Randi Educational Foundation is now accepting applications for educators to attend The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013 in Las Vegas this summer. I have been involved in many previous TAMs on the educational outreach side, and one thing I can say is that we need to get more teachers, at all levels and from both science and non-science backgrounds, to events like this as much as possible. So, if you are interested or know someone who is, please spread the word and take a look at the information below; alternately, you could also consider donating to the educator grant fund.
TAM 2013 EDUCATOR GRANTS
Are you an educator who would like to bring more skepticism and critical thinking into your classroom? Would you like to be inspired, energized, and informed? The Amazing Meeting is a great place to meet and network with other educators, get educational resources (including printed copies of the JREF’s education modules for classroom use), pick up tips, and be inspired.
In addition to three days of superb talks and panel discussions, TAM 2013 offers a full day of workshops, including one which will focus on incorporating skeptical thinking lessons into non-science classes.
The Amaz!ng Meeting is attended by people from all walks of life and all over the globe. Speakers include scientists, philosophers, journalists, educators, activists, and even entertainers. Simply put, TAM is the James Randi Educational Foundation’s yearly celebration of science, education, and critical thinking.
Veteran TAM goers know the feeling of community and inspiration that a weekend with skeptics provides. The yearly meeting recharges our batteries and sparks new ideas for projects to promote skepticism and scientific thinking.
Educators are in a unique position to reach our target audience, but they need good resources, the opportunity to discuss methods, and the kind of inspiration that events like The Amaz!ng Meeting provide. Educators who attend TAM will be able to bring what they have learned into their classrooms.
Click here for more information
Donate to the Educator Fund here
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: 2013, conference, convention, education, educator, grant, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, meeting, money, science, skeptic, skepticism, TAM, TAM2013, teachers, teaching, The Amaz!ng Meeting, The Amazing Meeting | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 25, 2013
Wow, sometimes the good guys win one. In case you didn’t know, there has been a long-running skeptical campaign against a pseudoscientific fraudster, James McCormick, who sold bomb dowsing kits to the Iraqi military. Yes, you read that correctly, dowsing kits – as in “water witching”! And no, dowsing doesn’t work. And yes, it resulted in a lot of people getting killed, because these things didn’t do squat to detect bombs. And yes, it pleases me greatly to see this criminal finally receive justice…
McCormick’s fake bomb detectors were used at Iraqi checkpoints staffed by the British military
A millionaire businessman who sold fake bomb detectors to countries including Iraq and Georgia, knowing they did not work, has been convicted of fraud.
James McCormick, 56, of Langport, Somerset, is said to have made £50m from sales and sold more than 6,000 in Iraq, the Old Bailey heard.
Police said the devices, modelled on a novelty golf ball finder, are still in use at some checkpoints.
One Iraqi bomb victim described him to the BBC as a “morally bankrupt” man.
During Tuesday’s hearing at the Old Bailey in London, the court was told McCormick’s detectors, which cost up to $40,000 (£27,000) each, were completely ineffectual and lacked any grounding in science.
Richard Whittam QC, for the prosecution, said: “The devices did not work and he knew they did not work.”
McCormick had claimed the devices could bypass “all forms of concealment”, detecting drugs and people along with explosives, the court heard.
He claimed they would work under water and from the air, and would track an object up to 1km (3280ft) below the ground.
The bomb detectors came with cards which were “programmed” to detect a wide array of substances, from ivory to $100 banknotes.
Other substances could be detected, it was claimed, if put in a jar with a sticker which would absorb its “vapours” and was then stuck on a card that would be read by the machine.
In reality, McCormick’s device was based on $20 (£13) golf ball finders which he had purchased from the US and which had no working electronics.
Police said McCormick showed a complete disregard for the safety of those who used and relied upon the device for their own security and protection. …
Serves this scumbag right. I hope they throw the book at him, not only for his crimes but also to send a clear message to the other fraudsters and charlatans out there: we’re watching you. Skepticism matters.
Posted in ghosts & paranormal | Tagged: ADE651, ATSC Ltd, bomb, conviction, corruption, court, crime, criminal, detection, detector, dowsing, dowsing rods, explosive, fake, FBI, fraud, Iraq, Iraqi, James McCormick, James Randi, James Randi Educational Foundation, Jim McCormick, JREF, justice, military, pseudoscience, Quadro, Randi, security, terrorism, trial, UK, United Kingdom | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 27, 2013
One of my biggest skeptical heroes is James Randi. He is a small man with a big laugh, an even bigger heart, and an even bigger love for the pursuit of skeptical analysis into all manner of paranormal, mystical, or odd-ball claims. For Randi, no questions are off limits and skepticism knows no bounds; he and his legacy are one of the primary reasons why I am here, doing what I do on this blog and in my daily life as a skeptic and teacher, and I know his work (through the James Randi Educational Foundation) has reached and inspired countless others. Now there is a movie being made about him, called “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story”.
However, such an undertaking requires money, so please consider donating at the Kickstarter page to help get this movie made. Click the picture below for more information, and please spread the word…
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: An Honest Liar, biography, campaign, contribute, debunking, documentary, donation, film, fraud, fundraising, investigation, James Randi, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Kickstarter, lies, life, magic, magicians, money, movie, paranormal, Randi, science, skepticism, story, The Amazing One, The Amazing Randi Story, trickery | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 21, 2012
One of the most rewarding things I did at TAM2012, which was full of rewarding things, was to help run and staff the Hug Me! vaccination clinic. Hug Me! is a campaign by the Women Thinking, Inc to educate women and parents (and pretty much anyone else) on the importance of vaccinating their children and themselves. While at TAM2012, we gave 161 free TDaP – that’s Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough) – booster shots to attendees of the conference. If you are interested in learning more and possibly supporting our work, by donating or buying a Hug Me! shirt, click here :)
**Update: if you want to buy a Hug Me! shirt (as pictured below) send an email to marsmattus [at] yahoo [dot] com
The volunteers from the Women Thinking, Inc posing with James “The Amazing One” Randi (note our mascot, the sloth)
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, anti-vaxxers, astronomy, booster shot, CDC, Centers for Disease Control, clinic, conference, convention, diptheria, hug, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, medicine, meeting, pertussis, public health, science, Skepchick, skeptic, skepticism, space, TAM, TAM2012, Tdap, tetanus, The Amaz!ng Meeting, The Amazing Meeting, vaccination, vaccines, vax, whooping cough, Women Thinking, Women Thinking Free, Women Thinking Free Foundation, Women Thinking Inc, WT Inc, WTFF | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 3, 2012
Some of you might be aware that in addition to all the work I do regarding skepticism and education, I am also proud to declare that I’m on the board of the Women Thinking Free Foundation… except that the WTFF no longer exists. But that’s just because it’s now even MORE awesome, and it has been renamed to Women Thinking, Inc.
We’ve been really busy behind the scenes with our rebranding and some amazing stuff we’ve been working on for the last year-and-a-half regarding vaccine survey research in conjunction with the James Randi Educational Foundation. This research is REALLY a big deal, and there’s no doubt you’ll be hearing all about it in the weeks and months to come – stay tuned for that.
But rather than tease you anymore, I’ll refer you to this post over at Skepchick where our fearless mofo leader, Elyse Anders, has dished out all the info on our big switchover. Check it out…
When we started this organization back in 2010, we never dreamed that we’d be presenting ourselves far outside of the skeptical movement. Our goal was always to bring more women into organized skepticism, if not just to encourage women to think more critically. The Women Thinking Free, or WTF, was a name that said that we were free thinking women who didn’t take ourselves too seriously and that we had a sense of humor in our mission. As an organization with roots deep in the Skepchick community, I felt that the WTF was a name that expressed a lot of my persona, and reflected the tone of the community.
But the Women Thinking Free is growing. And we’re growing up. We’re doing more work on a national level and putting ourselves out to organizations who are less or maybe totally un-familiar with skepticism and the skeptical community. We do great work, and we intend to keep on doing that great work. And while I loathe to take myself seriously, it is time to take my organization seriously. We have a hardworking core of board members and volunteers who work tirelessly, and they deserve to be taken seriously. And we need to tell those who don’t know us that we are an organization worth investing in and believing in. We’re not a dopey bunch of girls who don’t know what WTF means… and we’re not a group who doesn’t care how your organization will look being affiliated with “WTF”.
So we’re changing our name.
We’re still a fun group. We still don’t take ourselves too seriously. The only thing that’s changed is that we’ve realized we’ve created something good enough to present in a way that won’t be dismissed out of hand… and without having to argue over adverbs.
We are now Women Thinking, inc. See? Not a lot has changed. Just a couple of words. We’re still women. We’re still thinking. We’re just a little classier.
We also still need your help in raising funds to do all the great stuff we have planned over the next year.
Oh yeah, and one last thing… we still have our groovy Hug Me I’m Vaccinated! campaign where we promote vaccination and help to run free vaccine clinics, but our mascot is no longer a cute n’ cuddly teddy bear. Our new mascot is a cute n’ cuddly sloth, because sloths love to hug and hang on… but only if you’re vaccinated
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: clinic, donate, Elyse Anders, hug, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jame Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, mascot, research, Skepchick, sloth, survey, vaccination, vaccines, Women Thinking, Women Thinking Free, Women Thinking Free Foundation, WT Inc, WTFF, WTI, WTInc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 13, 2012
Well, we’re ramping up again for another summer of skeptical awesomeness (including SkepchickCon at CONvergence, The Amazing Meeting 10, and Dragon*Con), and as in years past I am assisting with vaccine promotion. Along these lines, I wanted to pass along to you a recent blog post over at Skepchick by my colleague, Elyse Anders. Read on and please consider donating to help support this worthy cause:
From the Vaccine Clinic at TAM9: Who’s that handsome guy next to me? Oh yeah, it’s just Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer
Right now, we are in the middle of a severe pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic. In Washington state alone, cases over tentupled (which is a word that I made up for up more than times) since last year. In 2011, there were 146 confirmed pertusis cases through the first 20 weeks of the year. This year? 1738. That’s really bad, people. Really bad. And Washington, frankly, I’m a little disappointed in you.
Pertussis is a disease that, if contracted, often kills infants. And once they contract the disease, the only treatment they receive is to stop them form spreading it. There is no shortening of the illness. There is no medicine to help the body fight it. There’s just medication to stop you from spreading it.
And that “whoop” that gives whooping cough it’s name? That’s the sound of the sufferer struggling for air, being suffocated from inside their own body.
But worst of all, where they usually catch it is from an adult who hasn’t been vaccinated against pertussis.
So over here, in my little corner of the internet, with my tiny organization, we’re trying to fix this in every way we can… which is the only way we can, and that’s by vaccinating people against pertussis. If you can’t get infected with it, you can’t spread it.
The Women Thinking Free and the Hug Me! I’m Vaccinated campaign have partnered with the JREF and will be bringing yet another Tdap clinic to TAM2012. …
Read the rest of Elyse’s post at http://skepchick.org/2012/05/how-to-help-vaccinate-everyone/
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: 2012, activism, clinic, Convergence, DC, Dragon*Con, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Skepchick, SkepchickCon, skeptic, skepticism, TAM, The Amazing Meeting, vaccination, vaccine, Women Thinking Free, Woment Thinking Free Foundation, WTF, WTFF | 1 Comment »