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.
Recent activities, events, and appearances from CFI/Argentina.
Paranormal investigators playing the role of “experts” and pretending to be scientific is not going to fly when the lack of deep knowledge is evident and there are actual scientists in the audience.
The question here is about the origin of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, who comprise around three-quarters of the global Jewish population, a large percentage of American Jewry, and about half of the Jews in modern Israel.
On the last day of May, a bevy of west-coast skeptics gathered to discuss scammers, science, psychology, and public awareness above the hurry and fuss of Chinatown in Oakland, California.
All I had to do to perfect my pearly whites was swish a tablespoon of oil (sunflower or sesame is preferred) around my mouth for twenty minutes a day, pulling toxins out of my teeth and gums and “improving my overall oral health.”
According to the animal rights group PETA, childhood autism may be diminished with a dairy-free diet. In fact, any such correlation has been roundly debunked.
Some say the case for psychic ability has been made, others say it hasn’t. Yet others say someday it will be, or will never be. In 130 years, has there been progress in psychical research?
Based on exciting new research, mass-participation experiments, and the world’s largest archive of dream reports, Richard Wiseman’s new book, Night School, reveals the truth about sleep and dreaming.
Iba a empezar mi charla hablando del azar y la causalidad que solemos buscarle, recordando otra sorprendente de coincidencia que me había ocurrido mes y medio antes.
Attending events outside your own frame of reference involves getting into a suitable frame of mind. It’s often helpful to suspend judgement and just listen.
I am a Reiki practitioner, but I don’t believe in Reiki. That may sound like a contradiction, but apparently it isn’t.
This recent Point of Inquiry interview with Ann Druyan has now been transcribed and is available to read.
Homeopathy is an alternative system of medicine that was invented by a German doctor at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Scientific knowledge about chemistry, physics, and biology tells us it should not work; careful testing has shown that it does not work.
From cradles to graves, everyone’s a customer – and we have the right not to remain silent. Each week, The Checkout takes a no-holds-barred, irreverent and entertaining approach to explaining and exposing the ways that all of us are being ripped off.
It wasn’t selling snake oil that put Kevin in the slammer. In fact, it wasn’t even the “natural cures” books for which he became so famous. It was his relatively forgotten book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.
This classic Point of Inquiry interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson has now been transcribed and is available to read.
El Arca de Noé es una de las obsesiones de los literalistas bíblicos, que creen que lo narrado en las Sagradas Escrituras cristianas son hechos históricos.
Question: How does an avid ghost hunter and true believer in paranormal phenomena turn into an avowed skeptical commentator?
Recently a video has been making the rounds on the internet showing security camera video of a glass plate flying off the shelf of a store in New Hampshire.
Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, writer, and performer and the creator of “The Rap Guide to Evolution,” a hip-hop exploration of modern evolutionary biology, natural selection and evolutionary psychology.
Kevin Trudeau doesn’t have very good taste. I know because I just got back from his house in Ojai, California. Or rather, the house he once owned.
Are you a human? Do you have access to the internet? Then you may already know about Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist” who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it.
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.