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.
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.