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Sharon Hill

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Sharon Hill specializes in issues of science and the public and runs the Doubtful News website. Sharon can be reached at shill@centerforinquiry.net.

Faking Science Cred at a Sci-Fi Con: Not Smart

Sounds Sciencey
August 14, 2014
Faking Science Cred at a Sci-Fi Con: Not Smart

Paranormal investigators playing the role of “experts” and pretending to be scientific is not going to fly when the lack of deep knowledge is evident and there are actual scientists in the audience.

Psi, Sci. (Sigh!)

Sounds Sciencey
June 11, 2014
Psi, Sci. (Sigh!)

Some say the case for psychic ability has been made, others say it hasn’t. Yet others say someday it will be, or will never be. In 130 years, has there been progress in psychical research?

The Excluded Middle: A Skeptic Explores the Extraordinary

Sounds Sciencey
May 20, 2014
The Excluded Middle: A Skeptic Explores the Extraordinary

Attending events outside your own frame of reference involves getting into a suitable frame of mind. It’s often helpful to suspend judgement and just listen.

Giving up the Ghosts: Formerly Known as “Ghost Hunters”

Sounds Sciencey
April 4, 2014
Giving up the Ghosts: Formerly Known as “Ghost Hunters”

Question: How does an avid ghost hunter and true believer in paranormal phenomena turn into an avowed skeptical commentator?

Prehistoric Survivors? They Are Really Most Sincerely Dead

Sounds Sciencey
February 28, 2014
Prehistoric Survivors? They Are Really Most Sincerely Dead

A popular gambit in cryptozoology is to say that a cryptid is a real animal that was presumed long extinct but has lived on undetected. Here is why that sounds sciencey, but is bad reasoning.

Burzynski Clinic: A Scientifical Year Of Fail

Sounds Sciencey
January 10, 2014
Burzynski Clinic: A Scientifical Year Of Fail

Looking back on 2013, what was the most flawed sciencey story of the year? I pick antineoplastons—touted as a miracle cancer cure with little to no proof.

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Scholarly Cryptozoology: Now, There’s Something You Don’t See Every Day

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Book Review

A review of Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero.

Bigfoot Files: Science, Skepticism and the True Believers

Sounds Sciencey
November 22, 2013
Bigfoot Files: Science, Skepticism and the True Believers

There is a small, elite group of skeptics who know their Bigfootery. That’s right, the Bigfoot skeptics.

Pacu Panic: Swallowed Hook, Line, and Sinker

Sounds Sciencey
October 25, 2013
Pacu Panic: Swallowed Hook, Line, and Sinker

First, it was found in Danish waters. And then France. Then in New Jersey. A fish, normally found in the Amazon, was scaring the pants ON fishermen around the world. Why be scared of a pacu? Teeth and what it was rumored to eat.

Ghost Meters: I Can Name that Ghost in 5 Milligauss

Sounds Sciencey
October 1, 2013
Ghost Meters: I Can Name that Ghost in 5 Milligauss

Why do paranormal investigations use EMF meters? Turns out, they don't even know why. This is what happens when the paranormal gets sciencey. It isn't pretty but there is beeping and flashing lights.

The Ketchum Project: What to Believe about Bigfoot DNA ‘Science’

Skeptical Briefs Volume 23.1, Spring 2013

Science by press release is an unprofessional form and often is a bust upon peer review. Melba Ketchum asked the public directly to buy into an extraordinary claim: that she has categorized Bigfoot DNA and understands its origin, proposing not one but two unknowns—Sasquatch and an unknown ancestor of Sasquatch.

UFO research is up in the air: Can it be scientific?

Sounds Sciencey
August 28, 2013
UFO research is up in the air: Can it be scientific?

A few months back, a British anomaly investigation organization announced the possible death of UFOlogy. “No way! It's alive and well here,” said the U.S. UFOlogists. So it is. But what is the real status of the study of UFOs?

Over-reliance on Science

Sounds Sciencey
July 26, 2013
Over-reliance on Science

Science is great, one of the best processes humans have come up with. It has everything to do with how we live long, productive, healthy lives. It is not, however, the be-all and end-all method of how to solve every problem.

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Bigfoot DNA Study: Making an End Run Around Science

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Special Report

Supernatural Creep: The Slippery Slope to Unfalsifiability

Sounds Sciencey
May 29, 2013
Supernatural Creep: The Slippery Slope to Unfalsifiability

I'm taking a step beyond sciencey with the following topic. What happens when science doesn't cooperate with your subject area? Researchers of unexplained events may get frustrated and disenchanted with the scientific process when the eyewitness accounts they collect are too weird to explain via conventional means. They go unconventional.

“Phenomenology” Paranormal Conference Shows Shift from Sciencey to Spiritual

Sounds Sciencey
April 24, 2013
“Phenomenology” Paranormal Conference Shows Shift from Sciencey to Spiritual

When paranormal investigators give up on sciencey stuff, what's the alternative? The spiritual. I take you on a tour of a recent paranormal convention.

Leave Us Alone, You’re Spoiling Things

Sounds Sciencey
March 29, 2013
Leave Us Alone, You’re Spoiling Things

The Skeptic is the unwanted visitor to the paranormal-themed discussion. Questions are unwelcome; they spoil the fun. “Why do you bother nagging on the ghost hunters, the Bigfoot believers, and the UFOlogists,” they ask, “Why not go do something to stop real harm?”

Burning the Mean and Disparaging Skeptic Straw Man

Sounds Sciencey
March 1, 2013
Burning the Mean and Disparaging Skeptic Straw Man

Does “skeptic” equal nasty, obnoxious and shouty? No? Then why do we get automatically tagged with those characteristics even when we are not? The word carries some connotations. But that ought not bar an exchange between skeptics and believers. We have some bridges to build.

The Trouble with Pseudoscience—It Can Be a Catastrophe

Sounds Sciencey
January 30, 2013
The Trouble with Pseudoscience—It Can Be a Catastrophe

Pseudoscience is what one might call a two-dollar word. Skeptics often throw it around because of its weightiness and the values it transmits. We need to talk about this word, where it came from, and why we should be cautious about using it.

Appreciating Science: A New Approach to Science in our World

Sounds Sciencey
November 14, 2012
Appreciating Science: A New Approach to Science in our World

Members of the public don’t know much about science, and they seem fine to leave science to the scientists. That’s Trouble.

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

Interviewing Indre Viskontas

Skeptical Briefs Volume 22.1, Spring 2012

Interviews

Weird news: Believe it? Or not?

Sounds Sciencey
September 13, 2012
Weird news: Believe it? Or not?

Every day, I scour the Internet for news. Not just any news. Weird news. What bizarre thing was seen, heard, or found today?

Astrology: More like Religion Than Science

Sounds Sciencey
July 25, 2012
Astrology: More like Religion Than Science

Proponents have no plausible explanation for how astrology might work. Whenever you have to resort to “insert supernatural here,” your concept is no longer a scientifically testable hypothesis.

Decisions, Decisions: The Problem with “You Decide.”

Sounds Sciencey
July 2, 2012
Decisions, Decisions: The Problem with “You Decide.”

My memory may be biased, but doesn’t it seem like every unsolved mystery television program has ended with the proposition “you decide?”

Amateur Paranormal Research and Investigation Groups Doing ‘Sciencey’ Things

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 36.2, March/April 2012

Article
Amateur Paranormal Research and Investigation Groups Doing ‘Sciencey’ Things

A study of 1,000 websites shows how amateur groups use technical jargon and equipment as symbols of what is “scientific” while actually promoting the paranormal and not adhering to any real scientific principles of investigation.

Bad Reaction: The Toxicity of Chemical-Free Claims

Sounds Sciencey
May 25, 2012
Bad Reaction: The Toxicity of Chemical-Free Claims

I had a startling realization a few years ago: I discovered that not everyone thinks science is good for humanity. How can that be? Scientific discovery makes our lives better, richer, longer, and healthier.

Cryptozoology and Pseudoscience

Skeptical Briefs Volume 21.3, Fall 2011

Cryptozoology and Pseudoscience

When I was a kid, cryptozoology books repeatedly advocated the existence of creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster using the same dramatic stories. At first, I was swayed by these stories, but eventually I got bored with them. Something was missing. Stories only got me so far. . .

“You are Not Entitled to Your Own Bigfoot Facts”

Sounds Sciencey
April 25, 2012
“You are Not Entitled to Your Own Bigfoot Facts”

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I came across a website that provided “Bigfoot Facts” for kids. The site didn't say from where these facts were derived but they were commonly circulated in various books and all over the web.

Black(water) Market: Digging Up the Dirt about Slick Designer Beverages

Sounds Sciencey
April 2, 2012
Black(water) Market: Digging Up the Dirt about Slick Designer Beverages

On my regular stop to see the newest beverages one day, I noticed a slick, thin black bottle. The label read “Spring water enriched with Fulvic Acid.” Intrigued, I bought the 16.9 ounce bottle for $1.89.

Apocalyptic January and the Portents of Doom

Sounds Sciencey
March 7, 2012
Apocalyptic January and the Portents of Doom

They were science-based Doomsday agents, effective in scaring the bejeezus out of generally rational people. And the arrival of 2012—heavily weighted with (very commercially exploited) “End of the World” overtones—serves to popularize these stories even more.

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