Skeptics Society News and Site Highlights
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INSIGHT at Skeptic.com brings together a variety of accomplished voices for a broad-ranging but focussed discussion of science and skepticism. INSIGHT will shed light, offer critical perspective, and serve as a broadly accessible, evidence-based resource on mysteries of science, paranormal claims, and the wild, woolly, wonderful weirdness of the fringe.
Vikings Exhibition at Discovery Times Square: Setting History Straight-ish
The Viking exhibition that has just opened in New York wants to bust myths, but the exhibit's spokespeople are busting myths that aren't myths.
Taking a Shot at the Boot Hill Ghost
Blake Smith presents a possible solution to a 1996 photograph of a purported phantom cowboy rising from the grave.
Good Grief, Skip! Murder, Mourning, or Anthropomorphism?
Mike McRae considers our often mistaken tendency to interpret non-human animals as exhibiting human thoughts and emotional states.
In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason and the public interest in science, the Skeptics Society hosts an intimate Science Salon featuring an “in conversation” between Dr. Michael Shermer and a prominent scientist, scholar, or intellectual. Learn more about Science Salon.
The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why
Arthur Benjamin (TED Global) The Magic of Math is the math book you wish you had in school. Using a delightful assortment of examples—from ice cream scoops and poker hands to measuring mountains and making magic squares—this book empowers you to see the beauty, simplicity, and truly magical properties behind those formulas and equations that […]
The Quotable Feynman (& His Van)
In this conversation with Michael Shermer, Michelle Feynman discusses the life and legacy of her father: Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman (1918–88).
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
In this conversation with Michael Shermer, renowned Harvard cosmologist, Dr. Lisa Randall, discusses her book in which she teaches us an enormous amount about dark matter, our Universe, our galaxy, asteroids, and comets—and the process by which scientists explore new concepts.
The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism.
On Slates and Tweets: A Reply to David Sloan Wilson on Ancient Warfare and the Blank Slate
Scientist and historian, Michael Shermer, responds to evolutionary biologist and anthropologist, David Sloan Wilson, about ancient warfare and the notion the blank slate.
The Negative Side of Positive Psychology
The oversimplified litany of alleged benefits of positive thinking is scientifically problematic. New research keeps whittling away at previously discussions of the benefits of positive psychology such that it is barely a shadow of its former hulking self. Carol Tavris examines the negative side of positive psychology.
All Sacred Cows
Most Americans continue to grow up without thinking very deeply about other religions (other than mocking them on a superficial basis), and never question the assumptions of their own faith. In this article, Donald Prothero reviews Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World, by Seth Andrews, in which he does all that, and more.
Ancient Warfare & the Blank Slate
In this week’s eSkeptic, scientist and historian, Michael Shermer, responds to evolutionary biologist and anthropologist, David Sloan Wilson, about ancient warfare and the notion the blank slate.
The Negative Side of Positive Psychology
The oversimplified litany of alleged benefits of positive thinking is scientifically problematic. New research keeps whittling away at previously discussions of the benefits of positive psychology such that it is barely a shadow of its former hulking self. In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Carol Tavris’ column, “The Gadfly,” from Skeptic magazine 19.3 (2014) in which she examines the negative side of positive psychology.
Flying Saucer “Space Brothers” from Venus!?
In this issue we’ll hear tales from a man who said he met flying saucer travellers—human beings from Venus and several other planets! Amateur astronomer George Adamski became famous in the 1950s for photographs of objects he said were alien spaceships. His stories only got wilder from there. He claimed he befriended saucer people, rode in their spaceships, and even attended a meeting on Saturn. His books about these adventures became a public sensation. But what was the truth behind Adamski’s storytelling? Find out in this issue of Junior Skeptic!
How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused
Donald R. Prothero addresses climate change denialism head on, demolishing deniers’ arguments and rebuttals, and clearly demonstrating how we know global warming is real and human caused.
Since 1992, the Skeptics Society has sponsored the Distinguished Science Lecture Series, hosting 350 of the biggest names in science. This series of lectures has covered the most cutting edge discoveries and controversial topics in all of science, and enabled students, educators, and the general public to hear what’s new in science and skepticism. You can watch some of our most popular science lectures online, on demand, around the world, at prices we think you’ll really like!
Skepticality— the official podcast of Skeptic magazine
Skepticality — the pioneering original skeptics podcast — is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews.
MonsterTalk— presented by Skeptic magazine
MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.
In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason and the public interest in science, the Skeptics Society is pleased to announce that once a month we will be hosting an intimate Science Salon featuring an “in conversation” between Dr. Michael Shermer and a prominent scientist, scholar, or intellectual (similar to the conversations we have hosted with Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, and others). Dr. Shermer will discuss the guest’s latest science book or research project in a dialogue format, followed by an intimate conversation with the audience that allows more interaction with the guest than a formal Q&A.
Skeptic Presents is a series of videos that promote science and critical thinking through the use of humor, wit, and satire. With your support, we hope to produce these instructional, educational, and entertaining videos regularly throughout the year for free viewing for everyone, everywhere, to spread the message of the power of science and skepticism to make the world a saner, safer place.
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Vaccines are one of science’s greatest achievements. Yet, fears and anxieties about immunization persist. In this article, Christian Orlic reviews Mark A. Largent’s new book Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America (2012, John Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-1421406077).
Science Education is
No Guarantee of Skepticism
Despite the best efforts of skeptics and teachers to advance scientific thinking, paranormal beliefs and pseudoscientific thinking continue to be commonplace. It is a common popular stereotype that knowledge of science and belief in the paranormal are like opposite ends of a teeter totter: with one tending to rise as the other falls. However, the landscape of belief is considerably more complicated than that. Science education may not be enough when we lack the ability to critically evaluate the evidence for claims. In this article from Skeptic 9.3 we examine the relationship between science knowledge and paranormal beliefs.
Skeptical Resources Freely Available to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
The Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource Center is a comprehensive, free repository of resources for teaching students how to think skeptically. This Center contains an ever-growing selection of books, reading lists, course syllabi, in-class exercises, PowerPoint presentations, student projects, papers, and videos that you may download and use in your own classes.
Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?
We’re pleased to present Daniel Loxton’s challenging and provocative new project, “Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?”. Almost two years in the writing, these two meticulously-researched chapter-length explorations dig deeply into the roots, founding principles, and purpose of scientific skepticism. Arguing that it is essential for skeptics to “appreciate that we’re caretakers for the work of those who have come before,” Loxton carries forward the discussion about the scope and limits of scientific skepticism.
Science in your inbox every Wednesday!
eSkeptic is our free email newsletter, delivered once a week. In it, you’ll receive: fascinating articles, announcements, podcasts, book reviews, and more…
Here are the articles that people have been sharing over the last few days.
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Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine
Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.
The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs
Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.
Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?
What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?
The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…
Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)
If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!
Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.