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 Ben Radford
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.
An estimated $57 billion has been spent on airport security since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Yet, since its inception in November 2001, the Transportation Security Administration has neither prevented nor failed to prevent a terrorist from hijacking or taking down a passenger plane.
by Joe Nickell
Despite a lack of convincing evidence for Bigfoot, belief persists, and Bigfoot buffs are active almost everywhere, including the sparsely populated Yukon.
by Matt Crowley
Consider the notion that taking a photograph of a person “steals his or her soul.” It’s an easy concept to dismiss, as it seems so simplistic and overtly fallacious. But I claim there is value in actually considering this notion more carefully.
A review of The Untold Story of Champ: A Social History of America’s Loch Ness Monster, by Robert E. Bartholomew.
by Joe Nickell
Lorelei is described variously as a “sorceress,” “siren,” “water nymph,” “mermaid,” and even, in the plural, “mermaids.” In any case, at least she represents a romantic legend of the Rhine—or does she?