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.
In 2014, Skeptical Briefs Editor Benjamin Radford attended a caricature conference in Reno, Nevada. Inside a hotel ballroom full of ridiculously talented artists from around the world, he happened to meet Celestia Ward, a caricaturist who’s also a skeptic. Naturally, he had questions for her.
by Joe Nickell
Having long observed that many Bigfoot sightings seem consistent with bears, I have for some time been expounding on the subject—showing that, when bears stand upright on their hind legs, they become North America’s foremost Bigfoot lookalikes.
Now, in the age of the Internet, Bohler has decided to put his research on these fascinating topics online in the form of a blog and a podcast titled A Skeptic’s Guide to Conspiracy. Since 2011, he’s been putting all his exhaustive and thorough research to good use by providing a valuable resource for anybody looking for skeptical information about conspiracy theories.
“Give a person an answer, they will know Bigfoot isn’t real. Teach a person skepticism, and they’ll think Bigfoot isn’t real, aliens aren’t visiting from Venus, and they’ll vaccinate their children.”
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.