The first issue of "Swift"

James Randi --- Wizard (
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 01:48:53 -0500

We're working day and night to get together the first issue of
"Swift," the newsletter of the JREF. I've been given permission to
print a translation of the account appearing in the January 1991 issue
of "Skeptiker," the journal of the GWUP (Gesellschaft zur
wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften), the very
strong and active German skeptics' group. It is the account of the
most complete, definitive, testing of the dowsing claim, ever carried
out. A classic.

Swift will be going through growing pains, so please be patient. I've
been offered all sorts of technical and design assistance, and part of
that talent will be directed into creating a Virtual Reality tour of
the JREF head office. All in the works.

Some of you may have noticed the chortling going on in the "psychics"
camp, concerning my dreadful "criminal record." 'Way back when, in
Middletown, New Jersey, I was involved in demonstrating against the
Middletown cops, who were conducting car searches without "probable
cause." I had extensive support, particularly from the young people
of the area. Quite a few parents, whose kids had been harrassed and
abused by the cops, were angry enough to hold meetings at my house and
at a local Unitarian Church, whereupon the cops showed up in force to
write down license numbers of those who attended. It got me in the
papers, including the New York Times, where the writer referred to
the M'town police as "Keystone Cops." That did not please the cops at
all. During all this, I had the opportunity of stopping at the scene
of a roadside cop-stop, to advise the kids of their rights. The cop
present ordered me away, and I complied. The next day, I was arrested
at my home and charged with "interfering with a polioce officer in the
performance of his duties. I was convicted (a surprise!) and fined

Years after that, Carl Sagan and I had the opportunity of reminiscing
over our respective "criminal records," both earned while defending
free speech and constitutional rights. We were both proud of our
civil disobedience. Very proud. I still am. The additional
satisfaction is that, in both cases, the causes were rewarded with
victory. The Middletown cops got theirs, and Star Wars went bye-bye.

Like they say, "Hodie tibi, cras mihi." Well, they used to say.

James Randi.