Race and Biology: Skeptical Inquirer Surveys a Scientific Minefield

Race and Biology: Skeptical Inquirer Surveys a Scientific Minefield

Press Releases
February 10, 2016

The scientific study of biological race is riddled with controversy, both academic and political, such that the topic can seem untouchable. But what scientific truth might there be, if any, to the concept of race, which many experts deem a purely social construct? The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer wades deep into the debate, with the arguments for and against the idea of race, and

The Charlie Charlie Challenge

The Charlie Charlie Challenge

by Massimo Polidoro
Skeptical Inquirer · Notes on a Strange World · Volume 39.6

This is the latest web craze known as the “Charlie Charlie Challenge,” perhaps dating back to an ancient Mexican tradition, an experience that intrigues kids and scares adults. Through a sort of séance, some claim people can ask questions to some unseen entity that should be able to reply.

Nudging People to Save the Planet

Nudging People to Save the Planet

by Stuart Vyse
Special Articles · Behavior & Belief
January 29, 2016

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.

Understanding Evolution—Naming Matters but Not That Much

Understanding Evolution—Naming Matters but Not That Much

by Penny Higgins
Special Articles · Use and Abuse of the Fossil Record
January 28, 2016

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.

Poltergeist Scribbler: The Bizarre Case of Matthew Manning

Poltergeist Scribbler: The Bizarre Case of Matthew Manning

by Joe Nickell
Skeptical Inquirer · Investigative Files · Volume 39.6

What has been called “one of the most extraordinary outbreaks of poltergeist phenomena” of the twentieth century began with an English schoolboy, aged eleven and a half years, Matthew Manning.

Screening Tests and Primum non nocere

Screening Tests and Primum non nocere

by Harriet Hall
Special Articles · SkepDoc's Corner
January 22, 2016

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.