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Fire-Breathing Dinosaurs? Paleontologist Tests Creationists’ Claims for “Skeptical Inquirer”

June 8, 2017

Plus: Investigator Joe Nickell Reopens the JonBenet Ramsey Case

Young-Earth creationists not only insist that the world is about 6000 years old, but that humans once lived alongside fire-breathing dinosaurs! In the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine of science and reason, one paleontologist seeks plausible scientific explanations as to how these ancient beasts might have breathed fire without killing themselves in the process. (It doesn’t go well for the dinosaurs.)

Biblical literalists maintain, and even teach in school textbooks, that humans and dinosaurs coexisted before Noah’s flood, and that legends of fire-breathing dragons were inspired by humans’ encounters with such creatures. To bolster this claim, anti-evolution academics have gone to incredibly novel and creative lengths to explain by what physical and biological means dinosaurs could have accomplished this.

Fayetteville University paleontologist Philip J. Senter takes the creationists’ claims on their own merits, working through each possible explanation. Could dinosaurs have belched and then ignited methane? Did their nostrils emit “pyrophoric gas”? Were they electrified like eels? In each case, the realities of physics don’t turn out well for the reptiles, often resulting in the animal’s head being consumed by a fireball.

PLUS: World-renowned investigator Joe Nickell reopens the unsolved JonBenet Ramsey murder case, going back over the evidence and drawing some startling new conclusions. Nickell also reveals just how useless the nearly endless input and interference in the case from alleged “psychics” proved to be.

Also in the July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer: “The Amazing” James Randi exposes the sham autism therapy of “facilitated communication”; Sébastian Point reveals the dangers of pseudoscientific “chromotherapy”; Matthew Nisbet critiques the politicization of the March for Science; and so much more.

The July/August issue is available on newsstands and in mobile app stores. For more information, visit

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Skeptical Inquirer is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a scientific and educational program of the Center for Inquiry. CSI encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view. Learn more about CSI and SI at

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at