“He believed he could hear voices in his head,” I said, and the audience burst into a roar of laughter. Perplexed, I coughed, “That wasn’t a laugh line!” and smiled. They laughed, uncomfortably…
I’m not advocating for the conference organizers to lower their costs to students, but for the community to step up and help fund getting new people to the conference.
Some things sound too good to be true, and on closer examination, they are—even in science.
The lineup of speakers was some of the stars of science and skepticism, making this a must-do conference.
Every year, thousands of Australians are suffering and dying prematurely because of alternative cancer treatments
The idea that we can take control of our destiny and can prevent or cure illness with our thoughts alone is a seductive one. Wouldn’t that be nice? I wish it were true.
Notable skeptics were remembered for their deeds in a short presentation shown during the conference.
Why are we still talking about Hitler at the dinner table?
Just because you can screen for a disease doesn’t mean you should.
It would probably be more fashionable to go out with a bang rather than with a whimper, but at this time, this is as good as it is going to get.
Bob Carroll was exceptional to his family and friends, and I want everyone to know that he was very special to the skeptic community as well.
Most medical meta-studies are either unnecessary, misleading, or wrong
No way am I ever going to put one in my ear. Call me prejudiced… in favor of science and reality.
I went on a journey from the worst shape of my life to vastly exceeding my fitness goals and had to wade through mounds of questionable claims to understand which claims were valid.
Any other time reports of threatening clowns would likely have been ignored or dismissed, but these copycat clown incidents come at a time when very real terroristic threats and school shootings are in the news.
Ray and I have started evaluating the effects of educational interventions on pseudoscience belief. This interest seems shared by skeptics who wonder how to educate others, whether formally or informally.
Tyler Henry’s skill lies in his ability to nod in agreement to every statement as if he already knew that. His repertoire of facial expressions is wonderfully entertaining.
Scientists and their champions are leveraging Periscope as a tool for making the ravine between scientific ignorance and scientific knowledge narrower in an effort to improve public understanding.
People don’t understand that genetic engineering can provide tremendous solutions to contemporary problems and help people and the environment. The average citizen needs to realize that we spend tons of public money to solve problems
This kind of work can help us appreciate a lot of the things that the skeptic community cares about. How is it people think that they saw UFOs? How is it that people can think they were abducted by aliens? Or, how is it that people see Jesus in toast?
Scientists have a unique and important role in the public dialogue. They are trusted—or should be—to have special skills of analysis achieved after long study and practice. There are many important social issues to which scientists can and should contribute. Unfortunately, when it comes to evolution, climate change, and the benefits of vaccination, scientists are too often ignored.
I think I’m fighting against overconfidence, right? This belief that all you need to do is be cynical and skeptical to avoid being conned… And what I say to that, and this is a point that I may or may not make in my actual talk, is that con artists get conned all the time—the best con artists in the world!
Si no es algo nuevo, ¿por qué resulta preocupante lo que pasa en el programa de televisión del que hablo? Ir a un programa de radio y televisión hoy es otra cosa y más cuando es de sobra conocido que se trata de un espacio dedicado al misterio.
What, in a given instance, causes people to think they are experiencing spirits? The debunkers—with their smarter-than-them attitude—speak only to their fellow doubters. They would apparently rather be right than effective.
“Put simply, it is magic!” In my opinion, the only thing magical about it is the magical thinking required to believe the claims for it.
¿Cuántas veces se probó que era falsa la “detección de mentiras por una máquina”?
So the sorts of “weird life” considered by the NAS in their 2007 report “The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems” could in fact exist on Earth today or on distant real estate orbiting other stars. Now that we know that real estate is there, extremophiles suggest we should investigate worlds unlike Earth as well as looking for Earth 2.0.
Tara Moss is an author, journalist, TV presenter, and an outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children. Since 1999, she has written eleven bestselling books, which have been published in nineteen countries and thirteen languages.
Not only can we teach young scientists how to function in the increasingly hostile environment they may find themselves, we must teach them to do so.
Setting up the Humanist Orphan Center was a response to irrationality, to empower abandoned children, and to educate the community about HIV/AIDS.
El ‘cupping’ es una de las pseudoterapias más estúpidas. Forma parte de la llamada medicina tradicional china y, según el Papiro Ebers, uno de los tratados médicos más antiguos, se practicaba ya en Egipto hace unos 3.500 años.
Every year before the measles vaccine was first introduced in 1963, about 50,000 people, mostly previously healthy children, would be hospitalized with the disease and 500 would die. Sadly, I think it is going to take some of these diseases coming back to some extent in order for us to realize their importance. Vaccines have been a victim of their own success.
The Perseid meteors are cosmic “garbage” left over from a regularly returning comet, called Swift-Tuttle (after the two astronomers who first discovered it). The comet itself returns to the inner solar system every 130 years or so; it was last here in 1992.
Whatever Dream Reality Cinema is offering me, it isn’t science. It is a pleasant experience—the first time, anyway—but a costly one.
So when someone asks me “Does flossing work?”, my response is “It doesn’t not work.”
While I recognize that City of Hope offers cutting-edge cancer treatments and is a leader in making significant multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary scientific research advances, to claim that it works miracles is disgraceful hype.
For me, it’s all about opposing injustice, and sometimes that requires targeting religion, and sometimes it requires fighting anti-science interests—they’re all forms of fundamentalism when you peel back a few layers.
Nootropics, by definition, certainly exist. But when we talk about nootropics anecdotally, we often mean something else: drugs that exist on the fringe, not yet completely acknowledged by science, or outright sidelined by it.
George Hrab is a professional musician, author, and popular podcaster. The Geologic podcast is an intersection between music and scientific skepticism. George will also be our emcee at CSICon this year.
There have been anti-vaccine protests as long as there have been vaccines. And there have been doctor-bashers as long as there have been doctors. Before we had science-based medicine, all we had was “alternative” medicine: folk medicine and superstition. It’s sad that people are encouraging each other to return to that pre-scientific world.
The Kitty Genovese case became a troubling symbol of bystander apathy in the United States. According to the Times report, thirty-seven people witnessed Genovese being stabbed to death in three separate attacks over a period of thirty minutes, and none of them called the police or attempted to intervene.
Captain D’s catch phrase is “Love with your heart: use your brain for everything else.” I think it’s about time the community learned more about the man behind the makeup.
People want to believe in G/C, and they can easily find reasons to disregard the evidence. Hope springs eternal.
Cuando comencé mi trabajo sobre las ilusiones de la memoria no me imaginaba que se iba a transformar en un tema tan relevante socialmente y tan políticamente explosivo.
The question remains: If I get a coffee at my local takeout or make tea from my kettle is it typically hot enough to raise my cancer risk?
I attend as many skeptic conferences as I can, and each one has its own “flavor” and style. SkeptiCal differs from others by being a no-frills event, but without you noticing that those frills are missing.
In one sense it might actually make you smarter: if you can understand why its claims are questionable and can apply those lessons to other marketing claims.
A look at the history, influence, mysteries, and misconceptions about the field of genetics.
We just wanted to see whether the OCA would give us any special insight that other personality tests, such as the famed Myers Briggs Type Indicator, didn’t offer… As we explained that we were there to take the personality test, voluntarily, rather than being prompted on the street, her eyes grew wider.
Another reason why we don’t fact-check math: there’s a tendency to ascribe truthiness to a claim with numbers in it.
You might guess there wouldn’t be much psychological research on belief in fate, destiny, or purpose, but you’d be wrong.
This is a story about the wonder of science and the power of connection.
“It’s why the skeptics’ movement was founded—to tackle the issues people think important but that mainstream science considers too ridiculous to bother with.”
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].”