The JREF Forum Scholarship, and an Internet Family

The Forum Scholarship Auction and the Support of an Internet Family

I have been in charge of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF, Forum Scholarship Auction for The Amazing Meeting (aka “TAM”)  for the past few years. It’s a fun auction, with donated items, that raises money for people that can’t afford to attend TAM.

The "Amaz!ng" James Randi

TAM has often proven life changing. I know the first time I went, to the first TAM in Florida in 2003, it took me a bit to adjust to not having to watch what I said. I could openly joke about homeopathy. I could decry parents not vaccinating their children, and the fear it causes me as a teacher and parent. The luxury of just opening my mouth, and having someone nod in agreement and educate me even more about almost any topic, was something I knew I would never forget.  Since then I have attended every TAM held in the US (9 so far), and after each one I have a slight post-TAM depression. I miss hearing world class skeptic thinkers. I miss late night talks with my online (and now real life) friends.  I console myself with the books I’ve bought at TAM, and the memories and photographs.

The JREF forum is an online family for many of us. The support given by forum members over the years equates to that of any “real” family or church group.  One member has ALS, who the forum has stepped up to help purchase needed computer equipment so he can communicate. Other forum members have had help finding jobs. Forum members have lost spouses and sadly even children, and the words and comfort expressed in online threads has been sincere and touching.  Many skeptics miss the support of a church group, but through the JREF forum and through meetings like TAM, there is indeed skeptic fellowship.

Many forum members simply donate money.  The forum auction is a way for people to contribute in a fun way.  Knitted items (trust me we have some talented knitters), art work, books, food and signed items by James Randi are just some of the items that have been up for auction.  Items are listed, some for sale others for bidding, and it lasts for a few months as things are sold and new items added.  100% of the money goes to the scholarship fund.  People donate to help with shipping if they wish.

You don’t have to belong to the JREF forum to donate an item or to bid.  You can reach me here if you have any questions.  Also, scholarships are open to anyone. The forum has a valued member that has been trusted with the responsibility of dispersing the funds. High priority is given to those that have never been, students, or those with a real financial need, and people willing that perhaps just need a partial rather than full scholarship.  However, I have nothing to do with any decisions!

I hope people will check out the site over the next few months. I have a lot of signed Randi memorabilia,  up as I just got back from a visit with him. Every year Randi has to put up with me pulling out a stack of items and saying “OK, here is a pen.  Start signing!”  He rolls his eyes, but he knows I won’t stop bugging him until everything has his beautiful signature on it.  His support of the auction is very much appreciated by not only myself, but by people get bid and win a bit of skeptic history and greatness. And of course, those who are able to attend a skeptical science conference!

Future items include a Penn and TellerBacon and Donuts” party t-shirt (oh yes, I saved one), and did I mention the knitters have been busy?

Please check out the site, please bid or donate, and feel free to support skeptics going to TAM with just a donation of money if you wish.  It really does change lives


Categories: Friends, James Randi Educational Foundatioin - JREF, Skeptic

Tags: , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. I concur. I also echo your comments about being inspired by TAM. If I hadn’t attended TAM5 in 2007, the last 5 years of my life would have been very different and almost certainly less interesting. I’ve met hundreds of interesting people, spoken in several states and in other countries, created two web sites and hundreds of posts, become a podcaster and created an iPhone App, all as the result of TAM.

  2. If you haven’t been to Tim Farley’s site then you are missing out. The best site for the answer to the question all skeptics get, as in this example “but what’s the harm in homeopathic medicine if it’s just water?”. Tim in turn inspired me during a JREF sponsored cruise to get out there and find out what my best talents as a skeptic are. Because of his talk, I went out and started a web site for alien abductees and started writing skeptic books for children. Going to TAM changes lives.

  3. As a scholarship recipient a few years ago I can tell you how much this is appreciated. It not only changed my life but also saved my life. My experience at TAM is one I will hold in highest regard for the rest of my days!

    • Thanks for your comment. As someone who has contributed to the scholarship fund for many years, this confirms to me that my contributions have been well used.


  1. Content Roundup for April 2012: Flowering « Skeptical Software Tools
  2. An Amaz!ng Breakfast | Two Different Girls
  3. Richard Feynman and James Randi | Two Different Girls
  4. TAM 10, come and find your pod | Two Different Girls
  5. Fairy Tales, Fairly Told | Two Different Girls
  6. Paper Roses, from books! | Two Different Girls

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: