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Skeptical Briefs

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.

Five Myths about Airport Security

by Richard E. Wackrow
Volume 24.2, Summer 2014

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.

The Yukon’s Bigfoot Bears

by Joe Nickell
Volume 24.2, Summer 2014

Investigative Files

Despite a lack of convincing evidence for Bigfoot, belief persists, and Bigfoot buffs are active almost everywhere, including the sparsely populated Yukon.

Soul Theft through Photography

by Matt Crowley
Volume 24.1, Spring 2014

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.

The Lake Monster That Predates Nessie

The Lake Monster That Predates Nessie

by Terence Hines
Volume 24.1, Spring 2014

Book Review

A review of The Untold Story of Champ: A Social History of America’s Loch Ness Monster, by Robert E. Bartholomew.

Song of a Siren:
 A Study in Fakelore

by Joe Nickell
Volume 24.1, Spring 2014

Investigative Files

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?

Skeptical Activism Online

Skeptical Activism Online

by Amanda Devaus
Volume 24.1, Spring 2014

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.

Maria Monk: A Nun’s ‘Secrets’ Revealed

Maria Monk: A Nun’s ‘Secrets’ Revealed

by Joe Nickell
Volume 23.4, Winter 2013–2014

Investigative Files

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.

He Is Kenny Biddle

He Is Kenny Biddle

by Gurmukh Mongia
Volume 23.4, Winter 2013–2014

Skeptical Podcasts

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.

Fifty Popular Mistaken Beliefs

Fifty Popular Mistaken Beliefs

by Leo Igwe
Volume 23.4, Winter 2013–2014

Book Review

“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. . . .”

Carl Sagan, Cosmos,
 and Everything

Carl Sagan, Cosmos,
 and Everything

by Barbara Mervine
Volume 23.4, Winter 2013–2014

I consider an archive like a dark, still pool. I like to give it a stir and see what pops up to the surface.

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