Thursday, September 3, 2015

JREF steps out of the limelight

If you read this blog you likely already are aware the James Randi Educational Foundation has changed course and is going to take a more low profile approach. You can read it here from the JREF site.  The JREF is going to be a secret Santa or a skeptic's sugar daddy in a manner of speaking. Of note, there is no mention of future The Amazing Meetings or some type of successor to it connected with the JREF.  I have only been to one TAM, but I had hoped to attend another.  I count myself lucky that I at least had the pleasure and the privilege for that one event.

I suspect one or more conferences will step in to fill the void left open with the lack of a TAM.  Maybe something better will come of it, or perhaps not.   I suspect as the years progress skeptics to some extent will be divided by those who went to TAM and those who either did not or became active after TAM ceased.  Those poor non-TAM attendees will likely get sick of "well I remember that one time at TAM" stories.  



The JREF will be handing out grants for various worthy projects up to a total of $100,000.00 per year.  This is fine.  Seed money for the generally cash-strapped skeptical activist makes sense, but I do have a suggestion to the JREF.  They ought to consider funding a legal fund to help out skeptics who are threatened with a libel suit, or other legal means to help skeptical view points from being persecuted.  I am sure if you have 100 skeptics in a room, there will be 200 suggestions on how to spend the grant money.  Fair enough, but this is mine.
Never had a Moscow Meet (JREF)

I think the active JREF, despite some of the recent difficulties within skeptical community, did an awful lot of good.  For a decade, it hosted the premier skeptical conference in the English-speaking world.  It gave voice to James Randi who instead of fading away after his active performance years gave renewed vigor for skeptical outreach.  The million dollar challenge, which will continue in altered form, was a stark example of the hollowness of a lot of woo woo claims.  The challenge is a wonderful talking point. The JREF brought together skeptics from Australia to Norway.  People mixed.  People mingled.  New ideas were born, and projects begun.  What a wonderful platform to provide.

George Harrison once sang famously “All things must pass.”  Indeed, this is true.  I just cannot help but think four or five years ago, this is not how the JREF leadership planned things to windup after James Randi retired.  Sure all things must pass, but sometimes the passing occurs sooner and in a less than desired manner than one might wish.  I am very glad for the active JREF contributions, and I hope the more background JREF continues to push forward. They just might wind down and disappear.  I dunno.  

The JREF is no longer accepting money from what I can see, so one might as well donate that money to another worthy skeptical site or cause.  I suggest Doubtful News among others.  



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