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Skeptical Inquirer —
The ‘Bell Witch’ Poltergeist

The ‘Bell Witch’ Poltergeist

by Joe Nickell
Volume 38.1, January/February 2014

Investigative Files

Called “America’s best-known poltergeist case,” Tennessee’s sensational “Bell Witch” affair of ca. 1817–1821 has gone unexplained, it is said, for two centuries.

Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate

Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate

by Bill Nye
Volume 38.3, May/June 2014

Article

In this Special Pre-Issue Release, Bill Nye gives his own first-person view of this much-watched and much-discussed debate, the circumstances surrounding it, his preparations and strategy, and the reasons he decided to take part.

Demarcation and Pseudoscience

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 38.1, January/February 2014

Thinking About Science

The demarcation problem is a serious one because science has extraordinary social cachet and commands huge sums of public financing, as well as because pseudoscience maims and even kills people.

Stanislaw Burzynski: Four Decades of an Unproven Cancer Cure

Stanislaw Burzynski: Four Decades of an Unproven Cancer Cure

by David H. Gorski
Volume 38.2, March/April 2014

Article

The Houston doctor Stanislaw Burzynski has been using an unproven cancer cure, “antineoplastons,” for decades, but despite its lack of proven anticancer activity, he has still not been shut down. Here is a primer for skeptics on his career and claims.

Skeptic Activists Fighting for Burzynski’s Cancer Patients

Skeptic Activists Fighting for Burzynski’s Cancer Patients

by Robert Blaskiewicz
Volume 38.2, March/April 2014

Article

A group of skeptical activists has been aggressively investigating and challenging the false claims of the Burzynski clinic and its dubious cancer treatments, presenting reliable information about them online. They even raised funds for a legitimate research hospital.

Curse of the Evil Eye

Curse of the Evil Eye

by Massimo Polidoro
Volume 38.1, January/February 2014

Notes on a Strange World

The evil eye is a lucrative business for many psychics and charlatans. However, the risks run by those who decide to rely on these frauds are often much worse than just a bloodletting to their pocketbooks.

Losing Our Minds in the Age of Brain Science

Losing Our Minds in the Age of Brain Science

by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Article

Neuroscience and its new brain imaging tools are great achievements of modern science. But they are vulnerable to being oversold by the media, some overzealous scientists, and neuroentrepreneurs.

Why Being Human Makes Evolution Hard to Understand

Why Being Human Makes Evolution Hard to Understand

by Cameron M. Smith
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Article

Our difficulty accepting evolution isn’t just because some religions oppose it or that it is complicated—it isn’t. The problem may be a result of how our minds work.

The Valentich Disappearance: Another UFO Cold Case Solved

The Valentich Disappearance: Another UFO Cold Case Solved

by James McGaha and Joe Nickell
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Article

What did he see? The missing piece of the puzzle in a strange ‘UFO’ case involving the crash of a young pilot off Australia has been identified.

The Jersey Devil: The Real Story

The Jersey Devil: The Real Story

by Brian Regal
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Article

The story of the Jersey Devil has become layered with myths and variations, obscuring the original events that gave rise to it. Not surprising considering the story comes from colonial-era political intrigue, Quaker religious infighting, and a future Founding Father.

Why We Do This: Revisiting the Higher Values of Skeptical Inquiry

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Commentary

I want to give some brief historical perspective about the skeptical movement, take a look at some new trends, and revisit a theme I’ve emphasized before, reminding ourselves why we do this: the higher values of skeptical inquiry.

Where Is the Science in Electronic Voice Phenomena?

Where Is the Science in Electronic Voice Phenomena?

by Everett A. Themer
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Forum

While the evidence they provide is scientifically debated, some tools such as audio recorders have become popular mainstays of the paranormal investigator.

UFO Hoaxes? There’s an App for That!

UFO Hoaxes? There’s an App for That!

by Robert Sheaffer
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Psychic Vibrations

I knew that it was possible to create all manner of digital UFOs in photographs. What I did not realize was just how easy it has become.

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Six Signs of Scientism: Part 1

by Susan Haack
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Article

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The Future of High Energy Physics in the United States

by Kevin T. Pitts
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Special Report

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Psychic Successes or Memory Failures?

by Theodore E. Parks
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Forum

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Cautions and Enthusiasms

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

From the Editor

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Detective: Uncovering the Mysteries of a Word

by Joe Nickell
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Investigative Files

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Truth, Part II

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Thinking About Science

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Taking Our Medicine: What Hope for Skepticism in Healthcare?

by Kenneth W. Krause
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Science Watch

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Paranormal Qualifications

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Skeptical Inquiree

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An Inside Look at a ‘Psychic’s’ World

by Ray Hyman
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Book Review

A review of Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium by Mark Edward.

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Scholarly Cryptozoology: Now, There’s Something You Don’t See Every Day

by Sharon Hill
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Book Review

A review of Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero.

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A Serious Look at Psychiatry’s Madness Model

by Peter Barglow
Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

Book Review

A review of Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs by Stuart A. Kirk, Tomi Gomory, and David Cohen.

Stardust, Smoke, and Mirrors: The Myth of the Mad Genius

Stardust, Smoke, and Mirrors: The Myth of the Mad Genius

by Judith Schlesinger
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Article

The myth of the mad genius began with a misinterpretation of Plato’s “divine madness” and has since gathered support and credibility because of public fascination, media distortion, and enthusiastic pseudoscience.

The Psychic Defective Revisited: Years Later, Sylvia Browne’s Accuracy Remains Dismal

The Psychic Defective Revisited: Years Later, Sylvia Browne’s Accuracy Remains Dismal

by Ryan Shaffer
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Article

An update of our “Psychic Defective” analysis examines developments in eleven cases Sylvia Browne made predictions about, explores a new reading, and scrutinizes her other failed predictions about the papacy and American politics.

Lost Lessons of the Strangling Angel

Lost Lessons of the Strangling Angel

by LaRae Meadows
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Article

Europe’s diphtheria outbreaks in the 1940s provide a sobering context for modern anti-vaccination claims.

Has Global Warming Stopped?

Has Global Warming Stopped?

by David Morrison, John R. Mashey, and Mark Boslough
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Special Report

The latest public confusion about climate change involves an apparent slowing of the rise of global temperatures. What is the reality concerning this putative temperature ‘plateau’?

Dr. Oz’s Questionable Wizardry

Dr. Oz’s Questionable Wizardry

by Joe Schwarcz
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Forum

Miracles are pretty rare events. Except on television’s Dr. Oz Show, where they appear with astonishing frequency.

Bigfoot Lookalikes: Tracking Hairy Man-Beasts

Bigfoot Lookalikes: Tracking Hairy Man-Beasts

by Joe Nickell
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Investigative Files

Over my years as a skeptical cryptozoologist, I have looked for real, natural lookalikes to explain various reported “monsters.” Are there animals that might be mistaken for Bigfoot?

The Mysteries of Leonardo

The Mysteries of Leonardo

by Massimo Polidoro
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Notes on a Strange World

Leonardo da Vinci not only epitomizes genius and creativity, but he is also one of the most sought-after sources of mysteries, both real and invented.

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How News about ESP Research Shapes Audience Beliefs

by Paul R. Brewer
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Article

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Electrocuting Parasites: Cutting Edge Pseudoscientific Technology

by Thomas Patterson
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Article

The Chelyabinsk Event of February 15, 2013

The Chelyabinsk Event of February 15, 2013

by David Morrison, Alan Harris, and Mark Boslough
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Article

On February 15, 2013, the million inhabitants of the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk experienced a half-megaton explosion from a disintegrating space rock. What happened, and how did the people of Chelyabinsk react?

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NCCAM Responds to ‘Nurturing Non-Science’ Article

by Alyssa Cotler
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Follow-up

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Authors Reply to NCCAM Response

by Eugenie V. Mielczarek and Brian D. Engler
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Follow-up

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Wildly Wrong, Psychics Shouldn’t Get a Free Pass

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

From the Editor

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Truth, Part I

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Thinking About Science

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You Can’t Possibly Be Sirius!

by Robert Sheaffer
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Psychic Vibrations

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Obesity Redux: A Response to Readers

by Kenneth W. Krause
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Science Watch

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Did Psychic Visions Locate Missing California Boy?

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Skeptical Inquiree

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The Wonder of Creation Astronomy

by Pierre Stromberg
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Book Review

A review of Wonders Without Number: Created with Purpose or Conceived in Chaos? by David Rives

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A Dangerous Blending of Nazi Fact and Fiction

by Peter Huston
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Book Review

A review of The Nazi Occult by Kenneth Hite

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A Fundamental, Costly Error

by Peter Lamal
Volume 37.5, September/October 2013

Book Review

A review of The Marvelous Learning Animal: What Makes Human Nature Unique by Arthur W. Staats

Down the Garden Path: Faulty Thinking and Self-Delusion

by Harriet Hall
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Article

A Navy neurologist’s credulous venture into acupuncture advocacy serves as a useful case study. Here are twelve mistakes he made rambling down the garden path of self-delusion.

Steven Pinker on Violence

Steven Pinker on Violence

by Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Interview

Acclaimed Harvard psychologist and best-selling author Steven Pinker was interviewed by Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney in a rare live edition of Point of Inquiry, the flagship podcast of our Center for Inquiry. Here is the majority of that interview.

The Queen Mary Is Not Haunted (But I Understand Why You Think She Is)

The Queen Mary Is Not Haunted (But I Understand Why You Think She Is)

by John Champion
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Article

The RMS Queen Mary, a ship of enormous historical import, has been transformed into a roadside attraction whose owners profit off the allure of “ghosts.” Her glorious factual history has been brushed aside in a bid to pander to eager ghost-hunting tourists who aren’t thinking critically about the claims.

Mind Over Metal

Mind Over Metal

by Joe Nickell
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Investigative Files

Can people move or alter physical objects simply by using a hidden power of the mind called psychokinesis? I have encountered many claims of such powers in the course of my work (since 1969) as a paranormal investigator.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?

by Harriet Hall
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Book Review

A review of Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul Offit, MD.

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Investigating Plagiarism in New Age Books

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Article

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The ‘Psychology Is Science, Not Witchcraft’ Campaign

by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Article

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Grumble Grumble

by Keith Taylor
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Forum

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Vindication of My Notorious ‘Insulting’ Letter to UFOlogist J. Allen Hynek

by Gary Posner
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Follow-up

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Violence, Here and Above

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

From the Editor

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News and Comment

by Kendrick Frazier / Benjamin Radford
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

News & Comment

Do You Believe That? Poll Zeroes in on Conspiracy Beliefs/Goat Sacrificed for Chicago Cubs Curse/Sylvia Browne Blunders Again, Telling Mother of Kidnap Victim Amanda Barry She Was Dead/British Businessman Sentenced in Bogus ‘Bomb Detector’ Scam

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Psychic Failure and the Boston Marathon Bombing

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Skeptical Inquiree

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Mathematical Explanations and Degrees of Impossibility

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Thinking About Science

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The Mystery of the Sicilian Avengers

by Massimo Polidoro
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Notes on a Strange World

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UFOs in the Desert, 2013

by Robert Sheaffer
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Psychic Vibrations

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Why Gay and Lesbian? A New Proposal

by Kenneth W. Krause
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Science Watch

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Bringing Bayes into Predictions

by Paul G. Brown
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Book Review

A review of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t by Nate Silver

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The Biography of America’s Lake Monster

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.4, July/August 2013

Book Review

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

Oliver Sacks on Hallucinations

Oliver Sacks on Hallucinations

by Indre Viskontas
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Interview

What causes the startling, unbidden perception of something that seems very real but has no material existence outside of our own minds? The “poet-laureate of medicine,” Oliver Sacks, takes us through the looking glass and into the fascinating world of hallucinations.

New Information Surfaces on ‘World’s Best Lake Monster Photo,’ Raising Questions

New Information Surfaces on ‘World’s Best Lake Monster Photo,’ Raising Questions

by Robert E. Bartholomew
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Article

The famous “Mansi photo” of the Lake Champlain monster has been held up for decades as strong proof for cryptozoology—the so-called best evidence for the existence of a hidden animal. Yet, newly uncovered documents reveal troubling questions about the photo and the circumstances surrounding it.

Valuing Science with Differing Values: Let’s Broaden the Debate in the Skeptical Movement

by Barry Fagin
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Forum

What do you do when your heart says one thing and the data says another? When science conflicts with values, which wins the battle for your soul? Which, for that matter, gets your vote?

Recent Miracles You May Have Missed

by Lawrence Rifkin
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Forum

What a privilege to be living through a time of such miracles. These are not literal miracles, of course, in the sense of divine intervention, and so miracles is not the correct word.

Scotland Mysteries—Part II: Ghosts, Fairies, and Witches

Scotland Mysteries—Part II: Ghosts, Fairies, and Witches

by Joe Nickell
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Investigative Files

Joe Nickell continues his investigation of Scottish enigmas—based in part on his excursion following the 2012 skeptics QED conference in England, with intrepid skeptical investigator Hayley Stevens and her father Andy, who is a photographer and professional guide.

Sandy Hook School Shooting: The Adam Lanza Death Certificate Conspiracy

Sandy Hook School Shooting: The Adam Lanza Death Certificate Conspiracy

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Skeptical Inquiree

"Is there any chance you could put my mind at ease and explain why the Social Security Death Index would list [Sandy Hook shooter] Adam Lanza as having died on December 13, 2012, the day before the Sandy Hook shooting?"

Clear and Fear: Scientology Under Review

Clear and Fear: Scientology Under Review

by Wendy M. Grossman
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Book Review

We very likely have Katie Holmes to thank for the timing of this latest crop of books on Scientology, the belief system so notably promoted by her ex-husband, Tom Cruise. Yes, at least two of these authors have been researching their books for many years, but for promotional opportunities you can’t beat a good celebrity crack-up.

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Nurturing Non-Science: Startling Concepts in the Education of Physicians

by Eugenie V. Mielczarek and Brian D. Engler
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Article

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Climate Change Denial in the Classroom

by Christopher Hassall, Chris A. Hebbern, and Carley J. Centen
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Article

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Bigfoot DNA Study: Making an End Run Around Science

by Sharon Hill
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Special Report

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Admiration and Disapprobation

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

From the Editor

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Whose Burden of Proof?

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Thinking About Science

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The Thought Reader Craze

by Massimo Polidoro
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Notes on a Strange World

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Is Interstellar Travel ‘Preposterous’?

by Robert Sheaffer
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Psychic Vibrations

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Obesity: What Does the Science Really Say?

by Kenneth W. Krause
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Science Watch

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No News Is Good News, but Bad News Is Deadly

by Kitty Mervine
Volume 37.3, May/June 2013

Book Review

A review of The Martians Have Landed!: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes by Robert E. Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford

Treatise on Invisible Beings

Treatise on Invisible Beings

by Joe Nickell and James McGaha
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Article

Allegedly invisible entities—popular belief notwithstanding—are indistinguishable from imaginary beings.

An Indian Test of Indian Astrology

An Indian Test of Indian Astrology

by Jayant V. Narlikar
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Article

Indian astrologers claim they can tell a person’s intelligence from his or her horoscope. But twenty-seven astrologers failed to perform better than chance when given forty horoscopes of intellectually bright subjects and mentally handicapped subjects.

Failure to Replicate Results of Bem Parapsychology Experiments Published by Same Journal

Failure to Replicate Results of Bem Parapsychology Experiments Published by Same Journal

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

News & Comment

Experiments attempting to replicate Bem’s results were quickly conducted at various universities, but none were accepted for publication by Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Now the journal has had an apparent change of heart.

Ideas and Insights, Inquiries and Investigations

Ideas and Insights, Inquiries and Investigations

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Conference Report

A Lively CSICon 2012 Nashville Eyes Latest Trends in Science, Pseudoscience, and Belief

Help! I’m Being Followed by Ancient Aliens!

Help! I’m Being Followed by Ancient Aliens!

by Kenneth L. Feder
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Forum

The archaeological record shows clearly that our human ancestors were enormously intelligent and resourceful. They were more than capable of developing sophisticated technologies on their own.

Herbs Are Drugs

by Steven Novella
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

The Science of Medicine

Herbal supplements are big business. The industry has managed to maintain a “mom and pop” image to the public, the righteous underdog constantly under attack by Big Pharma. In reality, the herbal product industry is just another drug industry, one selling products that are poorly regulated and likely don’t work for their claimed indications.

The Parameters of Pseudoscience

The Parameters of Pseudoscience

by David Morrison
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Book Review

Skeptics often say they are trying to expose pseudoscience, but in reality we tend to use this term loosely. Creationism, homeopathy, alternative medicine, and cold fusion are clearly pseudoscientific, but what about ancient aliens, UFOs, alien abductions, Bigfoot, crystals, the Moon hoax, and many other claims investigated in the pages of the Skeptical Inquirer?

Flawed Look at Monsters

Flawed Look at Monsters

by Terence Hines
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Book Review

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.

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The Elberfeld Horses

by Stefano Vezzani
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Article

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Understanding Believers’ Cognitive Dissonance

by James Walker
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Article

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Closing the Book on ‘Open-Mindedness’

by Katja Petrovic
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Forum

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Perpetual Discussion!

by Mark Levy
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Forum

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A Good Look at Invisibility

by Kendrick Frazier
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

From the Editor

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Scotland Mysteries—Part I: The Silly Ness Monster

by Joe Nickell
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Investigative Files

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The Proper Role of Sociology of Science

by Massimo Pigliucci
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Thinking About Science

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UFOs Infest Denver, Says Fox TV Affiliate

by Robert Sheaffer
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Psychic Vibrations

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Innate Morality? Babies Weigh In

by Kenneth W. Krause
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Science Watch

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Lessons from a Denver Fly

by Ben Radford
Volume 37.2, March/April 2013

Skeptical Inquiree

It’s the End of the World and They Don’t Feel Fine: The Psychology of December 21, 2012

It’s the End of the World and They Don’t Feel Fine: The Psychology of December 21, 2012

by Matthew J. Sharps, Schuyler W. Liao, and Megan R. Herrera
Volume 37.1, January/February 2013

Article

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.

Indignation Is Not Righteous

by Gary Longsine and Peter Boghossian
Volume 37.1, January/February 2013

Article

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.

Monsters and Dragons and Dinosaurs, Oh My: Creationist Interpretations of Beowulf

Monsters and Dragons and Dinosaurs, Oh My: Creationist Interpretations of Beowulf

by Eve Siebert
Volume 37.1, January/February 2013

Article

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.

The Secret Life of J. Allen Hynek

The Secret Life of J. Allen Hynek

by John Franch
Volume 37.1, January/February 2013

Article

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.