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Skeptical Briefs — Reality Check

A column currently written by emeritus professor of physics and astronomy Victor Stenger

The Problem with the Cosmological Constant

The Problem with the Cosmological Constant

by Victor Stenger
Volume 21.1, Spring 2011

Reality Check

Einstein had inserted into his gravitational equation a factor called the cosmological constant that provided a repulsive force to counteract the gravitational attraction that otherwise would make the universe collapse. Although the cosmological constant is often referred to as a “fudge factor,” that is a misnomer.

Did the Universe Come from Nothing?

Did the Universe Come from Nothing?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 20.4, December 2010

Reality Check

They will tell you that they intuitively feel that something must be “out there,” some power that is responsible for the universe and the laws that govern it. After all, they ask, “How can something come from nothing?”

Is Carbon Production in Stars Fine-Tuned for Life?

Is Carbon Production in Stars Fine-Tuned for Life?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 20.1, March 2010

Reality Check

For years theists have claimed that the constants of physics had to have been finely tuned by God for life in the universe to be possible...

Thoughts and Matter

by Victor Stenger
Volume 19.4, December 2009

Reality Check

In his book God and the New Atheism, theologian John Haught calls naturalism "deeply self-contradictory."

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Is Science Based on Faith?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 19.3, September 2009

Reality Check

Christian apologists argue that evidence in religion is no less credible than evidence in science...

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The Fallacy of Fine Tuning

by Victor Stenger
Volume 19.2, June 2009

Reality Check

Fine-tuning by design is a God-of-the-Gaps argument.

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A Singular Error

by Victor Stenger
Volume 19.1, March 2009

Reality Check

In recent years Christian apologists have blatantly misled the public by claiming that no conflict exists between science and...

Will the LHC Destroy Earth?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 18.2, June 2008

Reality Check

In 2008, a suit was filed asking for a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from turning on the Large Hadron Collider.

Is the Brain a Quantum Device?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 18.1, March 2008

Reality Check

In 1989, the Oxford mathematician and cosmologist Roger Penrose published a bestselling tome called The Emperor's New Mind...

ESP and Religion

by Victor Stenger
Volume 17.4, December 2007

Reality Check

In one example, I argue that almost all religions posit an immaterial spirit or soul separate from the body...

The Mindless Quantum

by Victor Stenger
Volume 17.3, September 2007

Reality Check

Two recent films tell us that we can change our lives, heal our ills, and become rich and famous just by thinking we can do so.

God and Rev. Bayes

God and Rev. Bayes

by Victor Stenger
Volume 17.2, June 2007

Reality Check

Bayes' theorem provides a means for calculating the probability of a statement being true based on the available evidence.

Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 16.2, June 2006

Reality Check

The last resort of the theist who seeks to argue for the existence of God from science and finds all his other arguments fail.

Free Energy and Teleportation: Numbers Don’t Lie

by Victor Stenger
Volume 15.4, December 2005

Reality Check

One sure way to unmask pseudoscientific arguments is to check the numbers.

The Privileged Planet

by Victor Stenger
Volume 15.3, September 2005

Reality Check

A few months ago, the Smithsonian Institution agreed to cosponsor a film called The Privileged Planet...

Marooned on Spaceship Earth

by Victor Stenger
Volume 14.4, December 2004

Reality Check

Over a hundred planets beyond our solar system have been identified, with more being found every day.

The Evolution of Creationism

The Evolution of Creationism

by Victor Stenger
Volume 14.2, June 2004

Reality Check

The species of religious thought called creationism continues to evolve by a process of natural selection.

Can Prayer Change the Past?

Can Prayer Change the Past?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 14.1, March 2004

Reality Check

The notion that human consciousness can supervene the material principles of physics is often found in the literature on...

Darwinism and the Age of Earth

by Victor Stenger
Volume 13.2, June 2003

Reality Check

Evolution is often attacked as not being “good science.”

Meta-Analysis and the Filedrawer Effect

by Victor Stenger
Volume 12.4, December 2002

Reality Check

An extraordinary phenomenon is normally not considered to be even tentatively established until it has been observed...

Has the Second Law Been Falsified?

Has the Second Law Been Falsified?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 12.3, September 2002

Reality Check

"One of the most important principles of physics, that disorder, or entropy, always increases, has been shown to be untrue."

The Science of Prayer

by Victor Stenger
Volume 11.4, December 2001

Reality Check

Praying for yourself may help you. Or it may harm you. Or it may do nothing at all. Each of these is possible...

The Emperor’s New Designer Clothes

by Victor Stenger
Volume 10.4, December 2000

Reality Check

Intelligent Design is the latest buzzword in the so-called dialogue between science and religion...

Buddy Can You Paradigm?

Buddy Can You Paradigm?

by Victor Stenger
Volume 10.3, September 2000

Reality Check

A common view is that science progresses as new theories replace old ones that are "proven wrong."

The Energy Fields of Life

by Victor Stenger
Volume 8.2, June 1998

Reality Check

The principle behind almost all of alternative medicine is that some ëlan vital infuses organisms with life.

Questioning Truth and Reality

Questioning Truth and Reality

by Victor Stenger
Volume 8.1, March 1998

Reality Check

Recent trends in some academic circles have called into question conventional notions of truth and reality.

Sci-Fi Art, the Levitron, and Collapsing Atoms

by Milton Rothman
Volume 7.4, December 1997

Reality Check

One of the results of a long and checkered career is the accumulation of assorted information, most of which does me no good.

Pseudoscience on the Internet

by Milton Rothman
Volume 6.4, December 1996

Reality Check

Pseudoscience has become more sophisticated and, perhaps, more mainstream than it used to be.

On the Internet

by Milton Rothman
Volume 6.3, September 1996

Reality Check

Some time ago, I subscribed to Prodigy and spent many bemused hours corresponding with denizens of their physics bulletin board.

Psychics, Physics and Magnets

by Milton Rothman
Volume 6.1, March 1996

Reality Check

A wonderful document has wafted its way across my desk. It is either a press release or a scientific abstract...

EMFs Again

by Milton Rothman
Volume 5.4, December 1995

Reality Check

My last column had a few things to say about claims of cancer risk produced by low frequency electromagnetic fields.

Bad Science, Phony Science and Pseudoscience

by Milton Rothman
Volume 5.3, September 1995

Reality Check

Sometimes the difference between real science and pseudoscience is so small that it is hard to tell which side you're looking at

No More Mister Nice Guy

No More Mister Nice Guy

by Milton Rothman
Volume 5.2, June 1995

Reality Check

One of the disadvantages of modern technology is that now anybody can publish his/her own book.

Scientific Illiteracy in the Press

by Milton Rothman
Volume 5.1, March 1995

Reality Check

I’m the first to admit it: I have not made a scientific, double-blind study of this phenomenon.

Foibles and Fallacies

by Milton Rothman
Volume 4.4, December 1994

Reality Check

Recently I pulled myself kicking and screaming into the nineties by subscribing to the Prodigy information service.

Tachyons and Other Nonentities

by Milton Rothman
Volume 4.3, September 1994

Reality Check

Sliding across my desk recently came a copy of a full-page ad that had appeared in a journal called Pacific Spirit...