Skeptical Briefs is the quarterly newsletter of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. It is available by subscription. A subscription to Skeptical Briefs is independent of your subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer. It is published four times per year (in March, June, September, and December), and includes articles; news from skeptical groups across the country and around the world; and regular columnists Joe Nickell ("Investigative Files"), Lewis Jones ("Inklings"), Victor Stenger ("Reality Check"), Henry Huber ("Group News"); and Benjamin Radford ("Briefs Briefs"). It also includes a Hidden Messages puzzle in each issue by New Mexico physicist and skeptic David E. Thomas.
by Joe Nickell
Bitters bottles are a window into an earlier era of quackery (although sometimes perhaps well-intentioned), as well as into the related worlds of unbridled advertising, liquor sales and consumption, and, of course, the very human need for relief from myriad ailments.
As a PhD student in medical sciences, people often ask me questions about diet and nutrition. The problem is that several bogus claims have spread and are widely believed.
Paul McCartney was twenty years old when the Beatles came to fame, and only twenty-four when, as legend has it, he was killed in a car accident in 1966 and replaced with a lookalike.
The most likely explanation for how small frogs get up into the sky in the first place is meteorological: a whirlwind, tornado, or other natural phenomenon.
by Joe Nickell
In the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, alleged cures for “female weakness” were among the nostrums marketed by quacks.
The drive from my apartment to the haunted house was about twenty minutes, but I found myself wishing it would take longer. I wanted more time to get a handle on what I was going to say, how I was going to tell the family that their house was not haunted by a demon or angry ghost.
The building of Harper’s Mansion began in 1834 by James Harper, a wealthy landowner in the town of Berrima, New South Wales. It has had many occupants since then and many claims of paranormal activities.
by Joe Nickell
On December 18, 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into a six-bedroom Dutch colonial home in Amityville, New York. But soon they were driven out, they claimed, by horrific supernatural forces. Ghosts? A poltergeist? Demons? Let’s take a look, as new claims continue to surface.
Jerry Coyne is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago and an important popularizer of evolution and science in general.
On May 26, 1828 (Easter Monday), two men were talking together in the Unschlittplatz near Nuremberg’s New Gate when they were approached by a teenage boy. By all accounts, he was a fresh-complexioned boy of about seventeen years of age dressed like a peasant.