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Skeptical Briefs

The Skeptical Briefs newsletter is only available to Associate Members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 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.

Messages from ‘Star Families’—in the ET Language

by Joe Nickell
Volume 23.1, Spring 2013

Investigative Files

Cassandra Vanzant’s claims are legion. At one time or another she has acted as a tarot-card reader and instructor, ghost hunter, spiritualist medium, angel communicant, ordained minister, professional psychic, and of course, telepathic “Master Alien Communicator.”

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

by Sharon Hill
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.

The Myth of the Rain Dance

by Noah Nez
Volume 23.1, Spring 2013

Native Skeptic

There are many myths and misconceptions found in every culture around the world. Some are more fanciful and colorful than others.

Uncovering Secret Messages

Uncovering Secret Messages

by Joe Nickell
Volume 22.4, Winter 2012/2013

Investigative Files

Among my many interests as a boy was cryptography—the study of codes, ciphers, and other secret writings. I sent and received nighttime Morse code messages by flashlight between neighbors’ houses and mine, made and solved cryptograms, used my forensic chemistry lab to make various invisible inks and developers, and even compiled a treatise on the subject.

The Gore Orphanage Hauntings

by Josh Hunt
Volume 22.3, Fall 2012

According to legend, a place called Gore Orphanage housed a hundred or so orphans. One night, either by malicious intent or by a tragic accident, the orphanage burned to the ground. I was told this story when I was a kid growing up in Ohio and thought that it was time to find out if there was any truth to it.

The Wisdom of Not Understanding

The Wisdom of Not Understanding

by Ben Radford
Volume 22.3, Fall 2012

When people don’t understand something they are told, there are three possibilities or root causes.

A Fiery Death: Murder or ‘Spontaneous Combustion’?

A Fiery Death: Murder or ‘Spontaneous Combustion’?

by Joe Nickell
Volume 22.3, Fall 2012

Investigative Files

This is the story of a fiery death that became a cold case—a mystery unsolved since 1847. It begins with an elderly Frenchman, whose badly burned body suggested to authorities that it may have been set afire to conceal evidence of foul play.

Wisdom from the Origins Conference

by Noah Nez
Volume 22.3, Fall 2012

Native Skeptic

A quick search on the background of some of the speakers and sponsors reveals much of the same brand of pseudoscience that is found permeating through the entire institute, its offered programs, and the Wisdoms of the Origins conference.

Ghosts at a Shaker Village

Ghosts at a Shaker Village

by Joe Nickell
Volume 22.2, Summer 2012

Investigative Files

In 1774 a “visionary” named Ann Lee—as charismatic as she was uneducated—sailed from Manchester, England, to New York to spread her new faith. In time “Mother Ann’s” United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming would found nineteen utopian communal villages.

Ask an Astrobiologist

by David Morrison
Volume 22.2, Summer 2012

Ask an Astrobiologist

What is the history behind Astrobiology? How could we find life on other planets? Why is the U.S. government building bunkers to house the elite in case of a global disaster? Are we headed for another ice age?

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