I sat with the older members of a group of twenty-eight people. Twenty were standing. I was the only guest. This was my second meeting with them. They often get together to pray, lay hands on the sick, and communicate with spirits. The spirits don’t talk back, but that doesn’t stop them.
A popular gambit in cryptozoology is to say that a cryptid is a real animal that was presumed long extinct but has lived on undetected. Here is why that sounds sciencey, but is bad reasoning.
The schedule ran from noon until 6:15pm and was packed with talks like, “Bigfoot Eyeshine—What Is It?” and “What Would Sasquatch Do?” which I imagined as a lecture on top-down morality and ethics as espoused by a shy, possibly fictional woodland creature.
The online psychic industry is a seemingly bottomless collection of clairvoyants, tarot card readers, psychic healers, and other people in purple outfits.
Street magic is nothing new on our television screens. What makes Breaking Magic different is the discussion of scientific concepts and the use of physics, chemistry and psychology in making magic fun and intellectually stimulating.
Creationism is the idea that some supernatural power is responsible for the diversity of life on Earth. This is in contradiction to the scientific theory of Evolution, which holds that the diversity of life on Earth today can be tracked back to a single common, unicellular, ancestor, and that the diversity is due to the accumulation of minute changes along lineages over billions of years.
I'm very fortunate to live in a great part of the world, near Fremantle in Western Australia. I'm also very fortunate that there's proactive people here who are very concerned about vaccination rates—and are willing to try outreach in a number of different ways. For this interview, I talked to Dr. Katie Attwell, of "I Immunise."
As CSI’s Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell continued his work—now in the middle of his fifth decade—of investigating the world’s paranormal, historical, and forensic mysteries.
A course on critical thinking, lecture at ARTECH, article in Newsweek Argentina, and more.
Looking back on 2013, what was the most flawed sciencey story of the year? I pick antineoplastons—touted as a miracle cancer cure with little to no proof.
With years of experience in investigating paranormal claims and teaching critical thinking, the combined powers of Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero present the arguments for and against the existence of the most famous (and debated) monsters in history.
The Raëlian Happiness Academy was the culmination of our five months undercover with the UFO-believing group. During those five months, we spent many hours in one Raëlian sister’s apartment, cross-legged and staring sublimely into one another’s eyes.
When it comes to curiosity, The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome is here to help—as a different kind of guide to modern thoughts on why we are as we are and why the Universe is as it is.
One of the world’s most popular alleged psychics and spiritual mediums in history, Sylvia Browne, died on November 20, 2013 at age 77 (although she predicted on CNN that she would live to age 88).
There is a small, elite group of skeptics who know their Bigfootery. That’s right, the Bigfoot skeptics.
Ross and I scurry into the Raëlian Happiness Academy four days late. The whole thing is supposed to last six days, but we will only be there two. They are the most important two—the final meditations and the baptism, which occurs on the last day.
Here in Los Angeles, there are two prominent Truther groups seemingly in competition. We have been attending the biggest and most active one. About twenty-five people attend each meeting. Each one is four to five hours long and mostly consists of Abel showing us YouTube videos and steamrolling conversations.
If aliens really did visit Earth, we would quickly confirm their presence with the most distributed evidence in the history of human sharing. “Viral” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.
First, it was found in Danish waters. And then France. Then in New Jersey. A fish, normally found in the Amazon, was scaring the pants ON fishermen around the world. Why be scared of a pacu? Teeth and what it was rumored to eat.
When crystals really do generate happiness, health, and well-being, diamonds are everyone’s best friend.
He is the United Kingdom’s, and perhaps the world’s, foremost communicator of all things scientific. Professor Cox is best known as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, boosting the popularity of subjects such as astronomy and physics.
Why do paranormal investigations use EMF meters? Turns out, they don't even know why. This is what happens when the paranormal gets sciencey. It isn't pretty but there is beeping and flashing lights.
Three things can kill a hodag: dynamite, chloroform, and lemons. If you see one, you are advised to keep any all-white bulldogs away (that’s all a hodag eats) and call your local fire department or animal control. If you decide to try to kill a hodag yourself, the risk is all on you.
Dick Van Dyke’s home had terrible feng shui. Improper positioning had him stumbling, fumbling, and tumbling all over the house. The futon in the living room had a particularly negative qi about it. To think of all the slapstick sitcoms we would be deprived of if feng shui were true…
Twelve years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, conspiracy theorists are still searching for evidence that confirms their suspicions that what really happened on 9/11 was not what appeared in the 9/11 Commission Report.
We each downed two tablets, the recommended dosage. Ross, having had a lot more to drink (he’s part-Irish, you know) considered taking extra, but the recommended dosage seemed advisable. We flipped the box over to see how much of each active ingredient was going into our systems.
It awards the Nobel Prizes in science and proudly portrays not a political figure but one of its most eminent scientists on its ubiquitous 100-kronor note (about $16). So it is hardly surprising that Sweden is the home of a large and vibrant skeptics group and was the able host of the 2013 European Skeptics Congress (ESC), August 23–25, in Stockholm.
You are not special, the stars and planets decided that at your birth. In fact, all your complexities and quirks, your desires and passions, everything you have done or will do fits neatly into what looks like a twelve-slice pie chart laden with calligraphy.
How Being in Love Made My Skin Look Great
A few months back, a British anomaly investigation organization announced the possible death of UFOlogy. “No way! It's alive and well here,” said the U.S. UFOlogists. So it is. But what is the real status of the study of UFOs?
Algunos ufólogos llevan décadas acusándonos a los escépticos de estar pagados por los servicios de inteligencia para ocultar la realidad sobre el fenómeno ovni.
Wikipedia has become the default initial source of research for many students, teachers and the general public who want answers. It's important and becoming more important daily. Editing Wikipedia is a passion for the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia team.
Millions of planes criss-cross the skies, dumbing down the populace with secret and powerful chemical agents. Every time you board a plane, you can’t look out a window without seeing one of these jet-powered poisoners. There is always danger overhead when chemtrails really do cover the sky.
Recently, the claim that the phrase “conspiracy theory” was popularized in the 1960s by the CIA to discredit those who dared to question the Warren Commission has been popping up in the conspiracy-o-sphere.
When I get my first bag of marijuana home, I have no idea what to do with it. Unlike most medicine, cannabis doesn’t come in a “dosage” so much as in “servings.”
He looks a lot like a doctor from a soap opera: chiseled jaw and yellow-blonde hair. You’d definitely think his name was Keith, which it isn’t. Dr. Keith is going to decide if I can get a prescription for medical marijuana under California’s Proposition 215, the California Compassionate Care Act.
Our moon has about as much gravitational effect on the body of any one person as a mosquito sitting on someone’s arm. If the amount of gravity the moon commands really did affect rates of crime, suicide, homicide, depression, and accidents, any swarm of the pests would be a flying disaster waiting to happen.
Science is great, one of the best processes humans have come up with. It has everything to do with how we live long, productive, healthy lives. It is not, however, the be-all and end-all method of how to solve every problem.
In Do You Believe in Magic? he criticizes the negative impact that celebrities like Jenny McCarthy can have on the public understanding and support of good health and science. In addition, he offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry.
Peeking at the hand fate dealt you is commonplace in a world where psychics actually exist. For them, the future is as clear as the past, though abilities would range from Spidey sense to Oracle at Delphi.
It should be a surprise to no one when skeptics congregate at conferences, the conversations and talks are nothing short of extraordinary with one-liners that cannot be found anywhere else. Not convinced? Keep reading. SkeptiCal 2013 will serve as our case study.
Elise Andrew is a U.K. blogger, social media specialist, science communicator, and webmaster. She is the founder and maintainer of the Facebook page “I F****** Love Science,” which as of June 2013, has 5.6 million likes.
If brain waves could really make it out of the head and into some cosmic crucible of creation, neurology would be radically transformed (not to mention that it would become the most groundbreaking science in history).
It was an election year, 1996, the end of Clinton’s first term. I was not a Clinton fan. During one of my calls back home, I talked to a family member whose client was an executive at TWA, which was based in my hometown of St. Louis. And my family member told me that this client said that after the election it was going to come out that a training missile had taken down TWA Flight 800.
I recently uncovered rampant plagiarism in a HarperCollins title The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires: An A–Z of the Undead, “written” (more accurately “cut-and-pasted-from-the-Internet”) by Theresa Cheung.
More humans have died than you will ever meet, see, or learn about. Since our split from the apes, Earth has been littered with the detritus of human demise—nearly 110 billion bodies. If spirits did live on after death, most of the people you meet will have already met their end. Every single house on Earth would be haunted by default.
Packed with forty or fifty people into a small, domed room in the California desert—a room supposedly blueprinted by aliens—listening to a middle-aged nurse play quartz singing bowls, a person might think they were supposed to stay awake. Not so. At the Integratron, falling asleep is a given.
Australian Media and Politicians Taking Steps to Stamp Out Pseudoscience
The germ theory of disease allowed modern science to dissipate the harmful miasma that pre-modern medicine sought to remedy. But the organisms that can make us sick are nowhere near as dangerous as a world where every particle might be poison. It’s a world where homeopathy works.
I'm taking a step beyond sciencey with the following topic. What happens when science doesn't cooperate with your subject area? Researchers of unexplained events may get frustrated and disenchanted with the scientific process when the eyewitness accounts they collect are too weird to explain via conventional means. They go unconventional.
They will deliver us pure oxygen—double the amount we usually get in the air! It helps cure hangovers. It ends fatigue. It helps with muscle pain and weakness. It curbs jet lag. It dissolves headaches. Some places make even loftier claims about oxygen bars, like that they can help halt cancer or aid chi flow.
The first in a hopefully fun and informative series of columns, I want to kick-off Reductio ad Absurdum with a look at so-called “magnetic people.” As will be the case for all the columns, never mind that there is no evidence for these gaussy guys and gals, what would the world be like if people really did generate a noticeable or even intense magnetic field?
I became the “skeptic” member of the local Bigfoot group almost by chance. I owe the offer to join to the reality TV show “Finding Bigfoot” (they never actually do). The show, featuring perennial Bigfoot personality Matt Moneymaker, has a skeptic, Ranae Holland.
Every day in Indonesia you will hear or see psychics, paranormalists, parapsychologists, and pseudoscientists spreading, scaring, and scamming the nation with irrational beliefs and pseudoscience through the media. You will be able to see them planting thoughts into peoples’ heads so that they can offer solutions and take people's money.
When paranormal investigators give up on sciencey stuff, what's the alternative? The spiritual. I take you on a tour of a recent paranormal convention.
There are many ways a science news story can hit the mainstream media and become a viral hit: does it involve an adorable, terrifying, or adorably terrifying new species of animal? Did a politician say something hilariously ignorant about it? And perhaps more importantly, does it involve breasts?
La historia del ahora famoso extraterrestre comenzó hace unos diez años, cuando el huaquero -saqueador de yacimientos- Óscar Muñoz desenterró el cuerpo en un cementerio en el pueblo abandonado de La Noria, en el desierto de Atacama (Chile). El ser estaba envuelto en una tela blanca.
“The goal for Pterosaur Trouble and the other Tales of Prehistoric Life series books is persuasive photorealism—or heightened realism, anyway. I want it to look like I just popped back in time with my camera and took some nature photographs. That concept constrains every aspect of the creation of the illustrations.”
In the lore of conspiracism, few religious groups, with the exception of Jews, are more feared or thought to be more powerful than the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). As I write, it was only yesterday that the College of Cardinals elected the first Jesuit pontiff, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), which makes you wonder: If they were so powerful, what took them so long to ascend to power?
The Skeptic is the unwanted visitor to the paranormal-themed discussion. Questions are unwelcome; they spoil the fun. “Why do you bother nagging on the ghost hunters, the Bigfoot believers, and the UFOlogists,” they ask, “Why not go do something to stop real harm?”
From March 8 – 12, 2013, I attended and spoke at ConDor XX, a sci/fi and fantasy conference at the Town and Country Hotel in San Diego.
The Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project was started in May 2010 as an effort to unite editors to become more skilled at adding skeptical content to the fifth most popular Internet site in the world. I discovered that there are people in our community that have been looking for a way to become more involved but need more structure, support, and training.
Does “skeptic” equal nasty, obnoxious and shouty? No? Then why do we get automatically tagged with those characteristics even when we are not? The word carries some connotations. But that ought not bar an exchange between skeptics and believers. We have some bridges to build.
Dr. Ben Goldacre is a best-selling author, broadcaster, medical doctor and academic who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims from drug companies, newspapers, government reports, PR people and quacks. For this interview, we discuss the extent of the problems that face the medical establishment and what we can do to solve these problems.
The Conspiracy Theory Roundup is an ongoing series of news items from around the web relevant to connoisseurs of conspiracism.
The IIG is—we believe—the largest paranormal investigations team in the world. With affiliate groups in several states and a Canadian province, we are in the process of creating an international network of trained investigators who will not only look into paranormal, fringe science, and extraordinary claims in their own regions, but also administer the IIG $50,000 Challenge.
From January 7 to 11, our current Director of International Programs at CFI, Bill Cooke, visited Kenya to have a look at the expansive programs CFI-Kenya has been undertaking.
On January 23, the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients delivered a birthday present to Houston cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and the Burzynski Clinic: a donation of around $13,000 raised in his name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – with a request that the clinic match those funds for the hospital.
Pseudoscience is what one might call a two-dollar word. Skeptics often throw it around because of its weightiness and the values it transmits. We need to talk about this word, where it came from, and why we should be cautious about using it.
Ever wonder what the love child of the British version of The Office and an overheard conversation about science between two reasonably informed guys would grow up to be? Ok, maybe not, but Stuff You Should Know will answer the question anyway.
El humor es una magnífica herramienta no sólo para la divulgación del conocimiento, sino también en la lucha contra la pseudociencia, donde tan importante es tener razón como que parezca que uno la tiene.
A review of Science & Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, by Chris Carter.
When I became a senior in high school, I finally recognized that no one had launched a repeal of the LSEA and no one was going to. For my high school senior project, I decided I had to stand up and take on creationism in Louisiana. I partnered with Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who has now sponsored two bills to repeal the LSEA.
CSI’s Senior Research Fellow, Joe Nickell, continued his work investigating the world’s strangest mysteries.
Humanists in Africa have put anti-superstition campaigns as one of their top priorities. Not only has superstition caused people to lose property and given the youths a bleak future, but it has also made people lose their lives.
New media, especially YouTube, has changed the public’s relationship to news and information in a way that has made conspiracy theories not only more prevalent but also a much more participatory pursuit. For this reason, it is vital that any student of conspiracy theory attain some degree of media literacy. A good place to start is with the information cycle.
Magician and skeptic Robert A. Steiner died on January 4, 2013 in a nursing home in Concord, California, at age 78. A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay area, Steiner was a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and spoke at several CSI(COP) conferences.
Cara Santa Maria – Huffington Post’s senior science correspondent and host of the “Talk Nerdy to Me” series. Her published research has spanned various topics, including clinical psychological assessment, the neuropsychology of blindness, neuronal cell culture techniques, and computational neurophysiology.
Why such hate for an otherwise boring, uncontroversial medical formula?
A Discussion With Science Teacher Laurie Tarr.
Members of the public don’t know much about science, and they seem fine to leave science to the scientists. That’s Trouble.
An Interview with Quackometer’s Andy Lewis
Although we are on opposite sides of the planet, we have the same problems that you face in United States: psychics, astrologers, conspiracy theorists, doomsayers, alternative medicine "therapists,” fundamentalist preachers, creationists, and a host of charlatans who prey on the ignorance of people in the streets, either on television or privately.
A report on the wide variety of activities of CFI/Argentina in 2012, including lectures, television appearances, online organizing, and more.
An Interview with Science Television Creator Sonya Pemberton.
A review of 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True by Guy Harrison.
My name is Uiwon, Hwang, 35 years old. I majored in railroad engineering at university and worked as a rolling stock driver after graduating. I always had some interest in the global scientific skepticism movement, a rare case in Korea. This is how I started to work in the field of scientific journalism.
Last fall, it was brought to my attention that John Edward was scheduled to appear in downtown Oklahoma City for two seminars on March 9, 2012. I brought this information to the campus group that I advise, the UCO Skeptics, and suggested we plan a protest to help educate people on exactly what John Edward would be doing, and that it was in no way related to supernatural abilities.
The Twin Fallacies of Appeal to Righteous Indignation and Appeal to Sanctity.
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.
The Merseyside Skeptics recently launched a video called Testing the Shuzi Sports Band. In order to find out more about its creation, I spoke to Mike Hall of the Merseyside Skeptics.
The last month has seen a disturbing number of high-profile mass shootings, and these events, when filtered through the conspiratorial worldview, become distorted and magnified in strange and interesting ways.
Inspired by her upcoming presentation at CSICon 2 in Nashville next month, CFI’s Paul Fidalgo talked to Sharon about what makes her tick, how we can process the implausible claims made in the modern news media, and how to talk about it with friends and family when they seem to be buying the hype.
Every day, I scour the Internet for news. Not just any news. Weird news. What bizarre thing was seen, heard, or found today?
Robin Ince is a comedian you might recognise as the co-presenter of BBC Radio’s The Infinite Monkey Cage with physicist Brian Cox—he’s also the creator of stage-show and author of The Bad Book Club: One Man’s Quest to Uncover the Books That Taste Forgot and the creator of the Australian feature movie Razzle Dazzle.
Skeptics are excellent at using their brains, but all that thinking can be exhausting. Luckily, at this year’s CSICon -- the conference dedicated to science and skeptical inquiry -- there’s going to be a way for the doubters to let their hair down, and win some truly excellent prizes.
An approachable and interesting man, Drake isn’t above a joke about his work or the people with whom he interacts. While at SETIcon II in Santa Clara, California, Drake took a few minutes to answer questions about his research, the future of SETI Institute, and aliens.
An Interview with SETI Researcher Jill Tarter
Ariel Waldman Tells Us How to Hack Space Exploration and Get Involved
Prof. Pratkanis will be among the incredible team of speakers at CSICon in Nashville this October, and CFI’s Paul Fidalgo talked to him about what led him to the main topic of his presentation at CSICon: how and why we get bamboozled by con artists.