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.
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?
by Amanda Devaus
The “woo” crowd—the psychics, the charlatans, the “healers” and others—are out there in the public; they are writing the books, setting up conferences, and getting themselves extensive media coverage. We need to match their exposure with our own and be there to give the counterpoints.
by Joe Nickell
It turns out that the fantastic assertions she made were investigated thoroughly at the time by Protestant clergymen who were permitted to inspect the actual convent, discovering that its interior was incompatible with Monk’s descriptions.
Since July of 2012, Kenny Biddle has been releasing episodes of a video blog titled I Am Kenny Biddle. His videos, which range between six and fifty minutes, feature Mr. Biddle's rants about such topics as paranormal fraud, ghost investigations, orbs, and the ways that people can be fooled.
by Leo Igwe
“Harrison doesn’t use a condescending approach, something skeptics are often accused of using in addressing irrational believers and in challenging and debunking paranormal claims. Instead Harrison humbly acknowledges the cultural universality of unreason. . . .”