Skeptical Inquirer — Article
by Matthew J. Sharps, Schuyler W. Liao, and Megan R. Herrera
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.
by Gary Longsine and Peter Boghossian
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.
by Eve Siebert
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.
by John Franch
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.
Mystics, Mycobacterium, and the Gospel of Matthew
by C.A. Porter
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.
by Edzard Ernst
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.
by Ryan Shaffer
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.
A Golden Age of Harmony? Misrepresenting Science and History in the 1001 Inventions Exhibit
by Taner Edis and Sonja Brentjes
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.
by Ben Radford
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.
by Tim Farley
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.
by Ben Radford
A conversation with award-winning cartoonist, fine artist, and stand-up comedian Dan Piraro.
Art and Skepticism Introduction
by Ben Radford
Nighthawks State of Mind
by Jeremiah Moss
Science and Art: Complementary Disciplines
by Joe Nickell
Confirmation Bias and Art
by Samuel McNerney
XKCD: A Perfect Marriage of Snark and Skepticism
by CSI Staff
by Joe Nickell
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.
by Matthew J. Sharps
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.
‘Mystery Illness’ in Western New York: Is Social Networking Spreading Mass Hysteria?
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.
The Top 20 Logical Fallacies
by Jesse Richardson
Political Myths that Influence Voters
by Jeffrey S. Victor
Dinodang: The Melon Rex Myth
by Phil Senter
by Joe Nickell and James McGaha
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.
The Trouble with Pseudoskepticism
by Lawrence Torcello
Entertainment—whether in the form of books, television, film, music, or graphic novels—can be a powerful way to convey a message, including the promotion of science-based thinking.
by John Eades
Claims that antimatter annihilation can generate limitless power or lead to unbelievably destructive bombs are greatly exaggerated, as can easily be shown by running a few numbers.
by Sharon Hill
A study of 1,000 websites shows how amateur groups use technical jargon and equipment as symbols of what is “scientific” while actually promoting the paranormal and not adhering to any real scientific principles of investigation.
by Deborah A. Bolnick, Kenneth L. Feder, Bradley T. Lepper, and Terry A. Barnhart
The Lost Civilizations of North America documentary suggests that there is genetic evidence for a pre-Columbian migration of Israelites to the Americas. However, DNA studies provide no support for this hypothesis.
by Manfred Cuntz
In May 2009 a meteorite impact was reported just thirty miles south of Fort Worth, Texas, but the mysterious object was of a very unusual composition for a meteorite. Had an impact occurred, it would have caused widespread devastation-yet nothing of the sort happened.
Measuring Mythology: Startling Concepts in NCCAM Grants
by Eugenie V. Mielczarek and Brian D. Engler
Laughing Goats and Scowling Sheep: Humor in Paranormal Discourse
by Jonathan C. Smith
Information Literacy and Conspiracy Theories
by Kristin E. Harley
by Joe Nickell
Anti-Stratfordians start with the answer they want and work backward to the evidence—the opposite of good science and scholarship. They reverse the standards of objective inquiry, replacing them with pseudoscience and pseudohistory.
by Bradley T. Lepper, Kenneth L. Feder, Terry A. Barnhart, and Deborah A. Bolnick
The documentary Lost Civilizations of North America presents a distorted picture of American prehistory. The archaeological evidence presented to support notions of ancient pre-Columbian contact consists of long-discredited frauds.
Paranormal Misinterpretations of Vision Phenomena
by Michael Mauser
by Kenneth Feder, Bradley T. Lepper, Terry A. Barnhart, and Deborah A. Bolnick
The Lost Civilizations of North America documentary is one in a long line of failed attempts to populate America’s ancient past with the denizens of lost tribes, lost cities, and, as its title indicates, lost civilizations.
Reports of alleged ghostly activity tell us a great deal about the innermost workings of our brains.
How to make a perpetual motion device and live to tell about it.
by Dave Thomas
After ten years, the pesky 9/11 Truth movement has refined its arguments but still hasn’t proved the attacks were an inside job. Their key claims are refuted on multiple grounds.
by Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller
Two social scientists describe their experience confronting the 9/11 Truth movement in the United Kingdom after they published a paper linking conspiracy theories with extremist ideology.
Dave Thomas vs. Jesse Ventura: The Skeptical Smackdown
by Ben Radford
‘Messages’ from the 9/11 Dead
by Joe Nickell
by Harald Merckelbach, Thomas Merten, and Scott O. Lilienfeld
Extraordinary Symptoms, Weak Evidence, and a Breakdown in Peer Review
by Eugenie V. Mielczarek and Derek C. Araujo1
The 1990s fear that background magnetic fields—hundreds of times weaker than Earth’s magnetic field—could cause cancer has been replaced.
Slaying the Vampire: Solving the Chupacabra Mystery
by Ben Radford
The Numerology of 23
by Mark Benecke
by James Alcock
Psychologist Daryl Bem has reported data suggesting that future experiences can influence responses in the present. Careful scrutiny of his report reveals ...
Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: Cure-All or Just One More Unproven Therapy?
by Clifford W. Beninger
Intravenous nutrient therapy is increasingly popular as a treatment for multiple ailments. But the evidence for the efficacy of IV nutrient treatments is...
Seven Deadly Medical Hypotheses
Many medical hypotheses have been ill-conceived and/or inadequately tested. As a consequence, billions of dollars have been wasted and the public harmed.
Parents should be made aware of possible risks associated with chiropractic treatment of children, particularly the services offered by “pediatric chirop...
by Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok
The most extensive study of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne’s predictions about missing persons and murder cases reveals a strange discrepancy: despite her...
The Psychic and the Serial Killer: Examining the ‘Best Case’ for Psychic Detectives
by Ben Radford
An examination of the 'best case' of psychic detective abilities offers insight into how extraordinary claims are made, exaggerated, and clung to despite...
Encounters with Aliens (the Local Kind)
A strange army of paranormalists has infested the Internet and mail system. We need and understanding of the ethics and practicalities of dealing with people...
Most arguments from global warming disputers don’t make scientific sense or are based on distorted or obsolete information. Here are short answers to ten of...
Faith in the Power of Witchcraft
Believing that there are witches with malevolent power can have numerous social and psychological benefits for a community. This helps explains why...
There are two Oprah Winfreys. One is the African-American woman who struggled against incredible odds in abject poverty to become the wealthiest, most...
“When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”
by Gary Posner
The September/October 2009 Skeptical Inquirer carried the commentary piece "Can a Reasonable Skeptic Support Climate Change Legislation?" by...
Coral Castle: Fact and Folklore
How a diminutive, frail, uneducated, unskilled man built Coral Castle without modern machinery has supposedly "baffled scientists, engineers, and scholars."
Parapsychologists have tended to view positive results as supportive of the psi hypothesis while ensuring that null results don't count as evidence against it.
by Harriet Hall
Alternative practitioners constantly claim that conventional medicine treats only symptoms while they treat underlying causes. They’ve got it backwards.
Religious Fundamentalism and Same-Sex Marriage
Americans' attitudes toward same-sex marriage have rapidly changed, defining it now as a civil-rights issue. Nearly all the remaining determined opposition...
Although there has been some progress in the war on cancer initiated by President Nixon in 1971, the gains have been limited.
Wedge Strategy Update: Intelligent Design Creationism Since the Dover Trial
The creationist havens of Louisiana and Texas are doing all they can--which is considerable--to flout the law and inject intelligent design into public schools.
Like many skeptics, I'm preoccupied by one question: "How do we take this thing to the next level?" I have an answer to propose.
Reinventing the Skeptic Conference
by Reed Esau
SkeptiCamps are informal, community-organized events borne of a desire to share and learn in an open environment.
There comes a moment in every parent's life when your child asks you the question you most feared hearing from your dear one...
by D.J. Grothe
When Carl Sagan, James Randi, Paul Kurtz, Martin Gardner, Ray Hyman, and others came together in the mid-1970s to form CSICOP...
Skepticism and Blogging
Blogs first appeared in the late 1990s as "web logs," In the form of journals or diaries. Blog has become a generic...
Skepticism: New Paths Ahead
by Jeff Wagg
I just returned from Dragon*Con, the "convention of conventions" that is held over Labor Day weekend each year in Atlanta.
by Tim Farley
In the summer of 2008, Georgians Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claimed to have found a Bigfoot carcass...
by D.J. Grothe
As most of the readers of the Skeptical Inquirer probably know, podcasts are audio shows...
by Owen Hammer and James Underdown
The Independent Investigations Group investigates pseudoscience particularly therapeutic touch in professional nursing.
Surfing for Skeptics
by Blake Smith
Whether you are looking for data on a particular type of questionable claim, trying to find some like-minded friends...
If anyone ever wonders just what impression a skeptic's words, stories, explanations, and arguments have, there's no better...
I was asked to write a bibliography of youth-oriented skeptical books not only because I am the director of libraries at CFI...
Does Subliminal Persuasion Work? It Depends on Your Motivation and Awareness.
by Brandon Randolph-Seng and Robert D. Mather
Recent psychological research provides more answers about why and when subliminal information can influence...
Angry citizens' groups in hundreds of different communities across the United States protest against the location of new...
Modern-Day DaVinci’s ROM: Range of Motion or Rip Off Machine?
by Ben Radford
A supposedly revolutionary (and remarkably expensive) exercise machine called the ROM makes amazing claims in advertisements.
Anecdotal reports of people having paranormal perceptions during near-death experiences are widespread, and it has been...
What is the physics that underlies any possible linkage between mobile phones, power lines, and cancer?
Violent Video Games: Dogma, Fear, and Pseudoscience
Video games are at the center of a modern media-based moral panic. Too often, social scientists have fueled the flames...
Careful Phrasing: A Matter of Life and Death
by Danny Helman
Many people believe one is more likely to die from a shark attack than from falling airplane parts. This finding has been...
Chiropractic Neck Manipulation and Informed Consent
Although there is evidence to indicate that neck manipulation can cause stroke by damaging vertebral or carotid arteries...
Obama on Science, Discovery, and Open Inquiry
by The Editors
Excerpts from a talk by President Barack Obama to the National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., April 27, 2009.
On Evolution, Abortion, and Astrology
Survey research about the kinds of people who read horoscopes shows the effects of religious and scientific beliefs.
Pathology or Paradigm Shift? Human Evolution, Ad Hominem Science and the Anomolous Hobbits of Flores
A pint-sized Hobbit recently shook the science world's foundations and set anthropologists at one another's throats.
The Indigo children are touted as the next evolutionary stage in human development, and their supporters boast that these...
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese oracle that many believe mysteriously offers clear advice on important questions.
by Ben Radford
A careful investigation into one of the most famous haunted theaters in the Southwest.