My flabber was thoroughly gasted. Apparently you sit in the jar and put water and maybe Chinese herbs into it and it is connected to 220-volt electricity.
A collection of early articles about CSICOP, compiled for our readers.
Whereas Barkun looks at the history and development of specific conspiracist narratives, Brotherton focuses on why such narratives arise in the first place and looks to psychology for those answers.
Can puppetry encourage a love of science?
No study is perfect, and any study will face its limitations. This is why we rely on reporters to analyze and accurately report on research, going beneath the headlines and press releases.
April is Autism Acceptance Month, and as it turns out it is the occasion for Apple Inc. to align itself with pseudoscience.
Do you think that you are not going to be surprised taking a look at the paranormal world? You're probably wrong!
Una versión en español también está disponible
There’s a tricky thing about science. If you base your theory on gaps in scientific knowledge, your theory will only last until science closes those gaps.
As a so-called “psychic,” you can’t repeat the same readings over and over or fall back on old lines and platitudes. You have to seem fresh and appear to be picking up rapid-fire thoughts on a very personal basis. It has to look spontaneous.
I actually find it flattering when someone attacks me so stupidly. It means what I wrote was so accurate that they were unable to find anything they could legitimately criticize.
Peter Popoff says he's a healer and a prophet of God. His former employee says he's something quite different.
Operation Tater Tot is a project I and others are working on to educate television viewers about the alleged accuracy and endorsements from celebrities of Tyler Henry on the E! Network.
Any attempt to address climate change, we are told, plays into the hands of an inexplicably vast and powerful network of conspiratorial climatologists. Lost somewhere in the mix is the science that should inform and largely settle the discussion.
If you're on a beach drinking delicious cocktails on your four week holiday, that's a very nice sensation. You see someone walk past with a broken leg then you might think, 'Poor thing,' but you won't give up your holiday to go and help them.
It's a commonly known fact that skeptics are nerds, so we might as well embrace it and use it to our advantage.
Why on Earth do people buy a medicine with no medicine in it? The back of the box clearly says “Active ingredient Anas barbariae, 200 CK HPUS.” I suspect most customers don’t bother to read that, and if they do, they don’t know what it means.
Bill emphasized that quackery (also called health fraud) is not merely the use of false and unproven medical procedures. The key is their deceptive promotion in the marketplace as “alternatives” or “complements” to standard medicine—whether the deception is deliberate or done without adequate knowledge or understanding.
El 2 de marzo, la Universidad de Barcelona anunció la supresión de su máster en homeopatía, que ofrecía desde mediados de los años 90, porque 'no hay una evidencia científica clara'.
Being an atheist does not by default make you a skeptic. And the reverse is also true; being a skeptic does not make you an atheist.
“Newsweek published my feature about the cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski, who’s facing potential license revocation... And I got a reminder of how hard it is to write about controversial health issues.”
The pursuit of happiness is one of the inalienable rights established in the Declaration of Independence, and in recent decades an enormous happiness industry has risen up to help you succeed in your personal pursuit.
What people need to understand is that it is NOT my responsibility to disprove Tyler Henry or any other psychic. The burden of proof lies in the person who is making the extraordinary claim to prove they have the ability they claim to have.
So babies don’t have sex, abuse drugs, or share razors. And mothers can be tested for the virus; if they don’t have it, there is no risk of them transmitting it to their babies. So are there any valid reasons to vaccinate newborns?
Mucha gente cree que la Tierra ha recibido visitas de extraterrestres. ¿Es posible? Para empezar, no hablemos de avistamientos de platillos volantes ni de cosas parecidas, sino de dónde vivimos, desde cuándo y de cómo somos.
If you're a skeptic and you want to talk to people about conspiracy theories and talk them out of being conspiracy theorists, you've got to find them. You've got to know who they are and where they're coming from, and that really requires a personal face to face conversation. The idea of a 'conspiracy cruise' is great because it makes that easy and it makes it fun.
Chiropractors often present themselves as addressing the underlying cause or causes of health problems while suggesting that medical doctors only treat symptoms.
It is difficult enough to get people to cut back on French fries, floss their teeth, or stop smoking—all of which have more direct effects on their lives—and much harder still to convince people to take immediate action for the benefit of other people in the murky future.
One of the first things I teach in any of my paleontology classes is that taxonomy underpins nearly every subdiscipline of paleontology. I then go on to explain that taxonomy is also very subjective and, at times, even seemingly arbitrary.
Nonmaleficence says don’t harm the patient; beneficence says help the patient. There’s a trade-off, since almost every treatment carries some small degree of risk. Not treating may do more harm than treating.
These people come and go fame-wise. His flame might be bright for the moment, but it could quickly fade into obscurity, or it could ignite a fire that will burn the memories and interrupt and corrupt the grieving process for parents who go to him in desperation and loss.
While many skeptics may deride conspiracy theories and the paranormal, you cannot deny the creative inspiration such claims provide to shows like Welcome to Night Vale.
I encourage everyone to not just visit a place but use social media to find our community. Skeptic groups in areas all over the world have Meetup.com and Facebook pages; reach out to them and make your own mini-tour. I’m sure that they are as interested in meeting you as you are in meeting them.
As far as confirmation bias goes, it had been working against Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs had won. I was impressed. But is impressive enough to make it useful?
The solution is not to seek some Platonic ideal of pure rationality, which is neither achievable nor desirable. Anger, managed correctly, can drive ethical action. The key is to focus on the informational content of those anger states and find the most effective ways to fashion and spread correctives.
Dr. Burzynski and his witnesses will describe the frontier of science as a place where the end justifies the means. The frontiers may be the range of true pioneers such as Dr. Farber, Dr. Frei, and Dr. Freireich, but it is not the Wild West.
The medical community is not aware of the scope of use of these particular compounds, and then at the same time when things go wrong people often don’t go to their GP or they don’t fully disclose what has potentially caused the adverse reaction, so we also have considerable under reporting of these adverse reactions.
Critics of modern medicine would do well to follow my “SkepDoc’s Rule:” Before you accept a claim, try to understand who disagrees with it and why.
Sadly, buying a gun does not make you safer. To the contrary, the evidence suggests that bringing a gun into your home increases the chances you will be killed.
The Australian federal government’s no-jab-no-pay laws will remove childcare benefits, rebates, and the end-of-year Family Tax Benefit A supplement from parents who don’t immunize their children.
Poor psychology. Times have been tough lately for both psychological science and for the profession of clinical psychology.
In a television interview, a practitioner of biomagnetic therapy claimed she had cured her own breast lump and the metastatic cancer of another person. I wonder how many viewers believed her.
I went to visit Dr. Phil myself last week. The show is taped just a mile from my home in Los Angeles. Obtaining tickets was one website visit and a phone call away. In no time, I had two tickets to be in the audience the very next week.
Why do journalists insist on trumpeting the findings of the latest, anomalous study-ignoring the weight of all the evidence that came before?
Some of my friends, including the very editor of this article, felt vindicated recently when mainstream news outlets reported "Your cat might actually want to kill you." It brings me no joy to report that they are wrong. Okay: a little joy.
The Cancer Control Society (CCS) describes itself on its website as “a non-profit organization, dependent upon donations for its mission: to prevent and control cancer and other diseases through Nutrition [sic] and Non-Toxic [sic] Therapies [sic].”
Starting to feel age tugging at your jaw line? Does your doctor tell you that you have a case of the uglies? You need a little Alex Chiu.
So you might have heard about this awesome website called Wikipedia. It’s the sixth most viewed website worldwide. It is where most people find out information about the weird in the world. I’m going to explain a Wikipedia editing technique that I call Backwards Editing and how you can help out without joining my Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project.
The Syndrome Sabotages Its Credibility.
Tu Youyou, a Chinese researcher, was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of artemisininin, a malaria drug. This has been touted as a victory for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbalism. It is anything but.
Good science requires good data, and to get valid results scientists must consider all of the evidence. If a researcher chooses to exclude some of the information available in an experiment, for example, he or she should offer a rationale for doing so. When researchers present to the public or their peers data that only supports their conclusions, that’s called bad science (at best) or outri
The 2016 Presidential campaign is well underway, and perhaps because fear mongering is such a popular political strategy (see Donald Trump on immigration), conspiracy theories are back in season. Coincidently, several new studies have emerged to shed more light on why people endorse conspiracy theories.
A documentary about Scientology is now distributed worldwide, after successfully screening on HBO in the USA. Written and directed by Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney and based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology and the Religion of Belief
The Naked Scientist podcast is a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials and promote it to the general public. They’ve been around since the early 2000s—making them one of the very first podcasts.
Someone is always trying to tell us what to eat. It's like religions: they can't all be right, and they might all be wrong.
Fact sheet about the lunar eclipse on September 27th, 2015.
The emails were adamant. Everyone wanted me to undergo cryotherapy: step into a -260°F stall, alone and naked, for three minutes, and feel the toxins flutter away into the ether.
Whereas Chris Mooney’s 2005 book detailed an organized conservative campaign against science, my California experience was something quite different—a fairly coherent culture that includes both pro- and anti-science viewpoints.
While we’re arguably awash in more misinformation than ever before, online media have also enabled tools and sources that help us evaluate dubious claims.
My understanding of essentially oils was essentially (sorry) that they were concentrated versions of various smelly things: lavender, eucalyptus, rose. And that aromatherapy enthusiasts used different smells to evoke different emotions or mental states. But aromatherapy turns out to be only a small part of the essential oils movement.
As the population ages, concerns about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have created a demand for anything that might stave off the course of mental decline. Brain training programs have a kind of simple plausibility. They sound scientific, and the analogy to physical exercise makes intuitive sense.
When Skeptical Inquirer asked me to report on a skeptical conference happening in my backyard of San Francisco, I was, well, skeptical. I’ve been attending and occasionally speaking at skeptics’ conferences for the past decade, and with that investment of time in a relatively tiny subculture, one tends to see the same “big ticket” speakers over and over again.
For over a month now, I have read over Belle Gibson’s The Whole Pantry–a book that reportedly has been removed from the shelves, but is readily available at my local bookstore and the local library–and find myself repeatedly going back to the disclaimer on the back of the title page.
The Skepsis Congres is the best example of a skeptical conference in the Dutch-speaking world: it is accessible for lay people, there is a lot of interaction with the audience, and they address any and all skeptical issues without specialization.
For science to stand as a shining alternative to the unending waves of irrationality, its reputation must be strong. Unfortunately, science’s reputation has taken a bewildering number of blows in recent years.
Although there were other “public enemies” of the Depression Era, John Dillinger had daring and style to spare. But so did a tenacious G-man named Melvin Purvis, an agent so effective and so adored by the public and press that his boss, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, seethed with jealousy.
The skeptical community has lost a shining star. On May 25, 2015, Wallace Sampson, MD, died in California at the age of eighty-five from complications of heart surgery; he had been in the hospital since February.
Many readers will remember facilitated communication (FC). Back in the early 1990s, a new treatment came rushing onto the scene making promises that were enormously attractive to parents of children with autism.
New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) has been proudly on its own for twenty-five years. But it had its origin in a national and even international movement to help spread science-based skepticism around the country and the world.
It might seem odd to choose a hotel full of skeptics to be the subject of a test of psychic ability, but then again, who’s to say that skeptics themselves aren’t endowed with such talent—one perhaps they would themselves be loath to acknowledge?
Science—and truth—have come under attack by an online article that bears the imprimatur of National Geographic.
Skepticism is at the heart of the scientific method. Genuine skeptics don’t come to conclusions until they’ve considered the full body of evidence. In contrast, people who deny well-established science come to conclusions first, and then reject any evidence that conflicts with their beliefs.
Sometimes we become so embroiled in our own affairs that we forget there are skeptic and humanist allies all over the world and things to see that underscore our causes. And so I was reminded on a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa via London, England.
Indiana has been in the news lately, and most of what we’re hearing isn’t good.
“You Are Smart,” a daily feature for commercial radio, made its national debut recently with host, Jim Underdown, executive director of CFI–LA and founder of the Independent Investigations Group (IIG).
This fall’s announcement that schizophrenia is likely not one, but as many as eight disorders, could impact treatment for almost as many Americans as there are people in Los Angeles.
At first glance, you might think that Australian artist Alexia Sinclair has produced a photo for a glossy fashion magazine. The glamorous, fantasy-like image is of three people – but one of them is being inoculated.
Many people believe the answer is to do everything in our power to teach people the facts that demonstrate the safety and efficacy of vaccines as well as the dangers of avoiding them. The problem with this is that facts may not be as compelling as we want them to be.
Anna Maltese, an artist, digital painter and archer, joined forces with long-time skeptical filmmaker John Rael, to produce A Response to Lars Andersen: a New Level of Archery.
Or: What Do Bill Maher, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rand Paul, and Chris Christie Have In Common?
Professor Ernst’s reverence for the pursuit of truth through the application of scientific methods led to an appointment as the world’s first chair in alternative medicine.
My goal is two-fold: first to catch a psychic in a hot-read and second to report back in detail to the skeptical community in order to train and encourage others to continue where we left off.
“I had the idea if I could prove a hot read, then we might just be able to expose that medium with incontrovertible proof.”
What successes and failures have we encountered in the decade since Controversial Therapies first came out? It seems to me that the results have been decidedly mixed.
“Let me share a few thoughts on how we Hungarians are doing nowadays with our skeptical movement and what I see our greatest challenges to be.”
Erre az alapgondolatra építve hadd osszam meg a tisztelt olvasóval néhány észrevételemet arról, hogyan is áll jelenleg a magyar szkeptikus mozgalom, és miben látom a legnagyobb kihívást.
Yvette Guinevere has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in forensic science. She’s been a chemistry professor, explosives chemist, toxicology chemist, analytical chemist—and has recently taken up running the Science Babe site full time.
In the middle of his fifth decade of investigating the world’s strangest mysteries, CSI’s Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell continued to address paranormal, historical, and forensic mysteries—both in new investigations and media appearances.
A “kind” is the basic division of organisms according to Creationists, in much the same way that “species” is the fundamental division of organisms to evolutionary biologists.
What happens when the Independent Investigations Group and CSI go after “the mother of all extraordinary claims”?
Public discussion of scientific topics such as global warming is confused by misuse of the term "skeptic."
The emotional benefits that accompany many superstitious, paranormal, and supernatural beliefs undoubtedly make them more difficult to discard.
Most vertebrate paleontologists agree that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. Many, including me, refer to birds as dinosaurs.
On November 13, 2014, a few representatives from the Independent Investigations Group (IIG) in Los Angeles visited Culver City, California, one of the three U.S. locations for the International Academy of Consciousness (IAC).
Each August at the University of Oregon, Eugene, you will find a devoted group of conference attendees learning a critical thinking skill to bring back for use in their everyday lives.
In 2012, documentary filmmakers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom began work on An Honest Liar, a profile of the life of “The Amazing” Randi, as he embarks on a series of public crusades to expose America’s beloved psychics, mentalists, preachers, and faith healers with religious fervor.
In March of this year, the UK charity Good Thinking was contacted by Mark Tilbrook. Mark is a skeptical activist who had been planning to hand out leaflets to people on their way to attend a range of psychic shows.
Jean Dommanget died on October 1, 2014 at the age of 90. He was an astronomer and head of the Département “Astrométrie et Dynamique des corps célestes” at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. He was an internationally acknowledged specialist in the domain of double stars.
To commemorate the centennial of the birth of one of the greatest figures in modern scientific skepticism, we have decided to republish a selection of his “Notes of a Psi-Watcher” and “Notes of a Fringe-Watcher” columns from the Skeptical Inquirer on our website.
The promotion of science and reason is not without its challenges. The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) are being sued by the wealthy evangelical preacher and “witch hunter” Helen Ukpabio who has dubbed herself a “Lady Apostle.”
Alom Shaha was born in Bangladesh but grew up in London. A teacher, science writer, and filmmaker, he has spent most of his professional life sharing his passion for science and education with the public.