The intent of Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite is to provide scientific explanations for various monsters found in historical legend and literature up through the monsters of today as seen, mostly, in film. Had Kaplan succeeded in this task, he would have produced an exciting and interesting book.
Cognitive science research on belief in the 2012 “apocalypse” demonstrates that dissociative processes contribute directly to this belief through reduction of the “feature-intensive” cognitive processing that would engender appropriate skepticism.
Appeals to righteous indignation or sanctity—which attempt to shield ideas from contemplation, discussion, investigation, or criticism—are common, impede rational discourse, and should be recognized as logical fallacies.
There is no field of inquiry that young-Earth creationists can’t distort. In the area of literary and linguistic studies, they misinterpret, misrepresent, and mistranslate Beowulf to fit their agenda.
According to legend, the astronomer J. Allen Hynek was a skeptic before becoming an outspoken UFOlogist, but is the legend true? This article takes a look at Hynek’s unusual life and career.
El Santuariò de Chimayó in New Mexico is a place of pilgrimages. Scores visit the little adobe church daily, while thousands walk miles to worship there on Good Friday. Many come seeking a cure for their afflictions, scooping from a small pit in the church floor a reddish soil that they rub on afflicted areas of their bodies or even sprinkle on their food or brew in tea.
“Searching for Hitler’s DNA in Antarctica.” This is the bizarre headline that made the news a few months ago, launched by Russian news agency Ria Novosti and picked up by the world media after scientists were able to successfully drill into Antarctica’s Lake Vostok.
A review of Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come by Whitley Strieber.
A review of Twenty-Two Faces by Judy Byington.
In the nineteenth century, phrenology was hugely influential despite being totally invalid. Its history shows why we must be skeptical of any belief based solely on experience.
An evaluation of the clinical research by the group that has published most of the papers in homeopathy, 2005–2010, finds numerous flaws in the design, conduct, and reporting along with a tendency to overinterpret weak data.
Of the many aspects of alternative medicine, one of the most bizarre is live blood cell analysis. This unapproved blood test supposedly identifies nutritional deficiencies and other nebulous conditions.
With the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, the country not only has to protect people from fraudulent healers but also has the challenge of protecting these fraudsters from violence.
There we sat, listening, scanning, searching, and adjusting. While Alec worked with the equipment, I kept a watchful eye for anyone who might interfere. The time dragged. Now the service inside the auditorium was about to start; we had searched for more than an hour, and we still hadn't found what we were looking for.
Following an investigation published by journalists Kostas Vaxevanis and Stefanos Gogos, the General Consumer Secretariat (GCS), a Greek government agency, ordered the immediate removal of key health and product claims by Viotech Ltd., makers of the Nanobionic clothing line.
Together, as we shall see, these cases illustrate that UFOlogy continues its long tradition of mystery mongering and the implicit reliance on a logical fallacy called “arguing from ignorance”: “We don’t know what was seen in the sky; therefore, it must have been an extraterrestrial craft.”
Paranormal legends about paintings have always existed. Some think that a picture falling off the wall represents a bad omen for the person depicted or photographed in it. Others feel watched by some portraits whose eyes seem to follow onlookers as they move through a room. And still others claim that paintings can come alive...
A review of A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss.
A review of Encyclopedia of Urban Legends: Updated and Expanded Edition by Jan Harold Brunvand.
A review of You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney.
A review of Handling Truth by William Gardner.
A review of The Aztec Incident by Scott Ramsey, Suzanne Ramsey, Frank Thayer, and Frank Warren.
Skepticism is not just books and talks anymore. With the popularity of social media services, skeptical discussion and inquiry has moved beyond the written word and the podium. If you like your critical thinking in the form of a quick demonstration that can be as short as a music video, YouTube has you covered.
For as long as there have been people claiming to be mediums, there have been people like composer Damon Martin to call them out. His latest Traumatosis album, Cold Reading, takes the listener on a journey that details the deceptive techniques used by people who claim an ability to talk with the dead.
In my books and workshops on scientific paranormal investigation, I discuss how best to conceptualize a mystery: basically, an event out of context. A live dolphin lying on a Manhattan sidewalk is a mystery; that same dolphin in a tank at an aquarium is not.
I design jewelry that advocates education and science and that celebrates the brave, emerging society of freethinkers that I find myself a part of. It’s nice to be able to carry around a small piece of art that represents skepticism and the rational ideals that are helping to make this world a better place.
The skeptical community’s growth has led to many unanticipated creative projects, particularly online. One such project is Skeptic Top Trumps, a virtual deck of playing cards featuring caricatures of popular skeptics.
Art and skepticism do complement each other wonderfully in her work, but Call has slightly a different perspective: “In the end, I feel I’m firmly on the skeptic side, I believe. But I don’t see picking a side as my role as an artist. I see communication as my role.” Kylie Sturgess interviewed Call about her music and where skepticism harmonizes with art.
A conversation with award-winning cartoonist, fine artist, and stand-up comedian Dan Piraro.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) will award its 2011 Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking to psychologist Richard Wiseman for his book Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There.
The conference, held in Berlin from May 18–20, 2012, was a lively mixed gathering of people with a great number of countries represented both on the stage and in the audience.
Once you take out those plainly fake and the more suspicious looking ones all you are left with are about ten photos. These are, essentially, “mug shots” of wanted extraterrestrials. Here is my personal list of the best (or worst) photos of aliens.
A review of The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality by Chris Mooney
A review of Power and Illusion: Religion and Human Need by David W. Wilbur
A review of The Three Failures of Creationism: Logic, Rhetoric, and Science by Walter M. Fitch
Six cases were reported, then twelve, then fifteen and counting as the story captured attention across the United States and beyond. I twice visited Le Roy on behalf of the Skeptical Inquirer, to talk with parents and others involved, visit relevant sites, and otherwise investigate this strange outbreak.
AIDS denialism has proved socially resilient because dissident “hero scientists” provide legitimacy, “cultropreneurs” offer fake cures in the place of antiretroviral treatment, and HIV-positive “living icons” seem to provide proof of concept.
Research in experimental psychology has shown that many paranormal sightings fall directly within the realm of eyewitness memory. Experiments reveal that such “sightings” derive from the psychology of the observers rather than from supernatural sources. Experiments show these proclivities.
In August 1977, a series of disturbances that were soon characterized as a case of poltergeist phenomena or even demonic possession began in Enfield, a northern suburb of London.
The “mystery illness” has become a Rorschach test of sorts: people see in the illness a diagnosis that fits their worldview or pet cause. But now that the dust has settled somewhat on this outbreak, what can we reliably say about it?
A review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
The recent outbreak of twitching, facial tics, and garbled speech—symptoms of a form of conversion disorder—at a school in Western New York may signal a growing trend in the United States.
An analysis of four classic flying-saucer incidents reveals how debunking can send a mundane case underground, where it is transformed by mythologizing processes, then reemerges—like a virulent strain of a virus—as a vast conspiracy tale. Defined by the Roswell Incident (1947), this syndrome is repeated at Flatwoods (1952), Kecksburg (1965), and Rendlesham Forest (1980).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a diagnosis fully accepted by the U.S. Veterans Administration, psychiatrists, and the American public. But PTSD does not meet the criteria for a real psychiatric-medical disease.
The inexorably growing impact of science is our most significant tool discrediting religion.
Among reports of extraterrestrial encounters, the 1973 claim of two Mississippi men to have been taken aboard a flying saucer remains controversial. Was it a real encounter or a hoax? Or is that a false dichotomy?
A review of Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! by Robert Todd Carroll.
Pearl Lenore (Pollard) Curran (1883–1937), wife of John H. Curran of St. Louis, began in 1913 to receive poems and novels, via Ouija board, from a seventeenth-century Puritan english woman named “Patience Worth.”
The group Friends of Science in Medicine has recently formed in Australia, and they now have over 400 professional members. They felt the need to come together over a disturbing trend—the infiltration of rank pseudoscience into once respected universities.
A review of War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow
A review of The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins