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.
I Had a Skeptic "Win"
Guest author John Rael discusses his criticism of claims by comic and actor Patton Oswalt, and Oswalt's unexpectedly gracious response.
Tony Ortega’s Scientology Book Tour
Jim Lippard reports on the ongoing book tour of a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology.
The “Mandela Effect”
Are subtle individual memory differences evidence of alternate universes? Michael Shermer considers the claim.
SINCE 1992, the Skeptics Society has sponsored the Distinguished Science Lecture Series, hosting over 350 lectures, covering the most cutting edge discoveries and controversial topics in all of science.
The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
This lecture is an account of scientific discovery from the invention of stone tools to theories of quantum physics. In this fascinating and illuminating work, Leonard Mlodinow guides us through the critical eras and events in the development of science, all of which were propelled forward by humankind’s collective struggle to know.
How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? According to evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro, the science says yes. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used to resurrect the past.
Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions
Drawing on innovative sociological research, Dr. Zuckerman—a Pitzer College professor who founded a Department of Secular Studies, the first of its kind—illuminates this demographic shift with the moral convictions that govern secular individuals, offering crucial information for the religious and nonreligious alike. Living the Secular Life reveals that, despite opinions to the contrary, nonreligious Americans possess a unique moral code that allows them to effectively navigate the complexities of modern life.
The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism.
The “God” Construct: A Testable Hypothesis for Unifying Science and Theology
In this article from Skeptic magazine 20.3 (2015), California State University, Fullerton Psychology Professor Douglas J. Navarick presents the case that the current pattern of evidence for the origin of life is consistent with the interpretation that life started just once in one place and was not the result of random processes.
Fine-Tuning and the Multiverse
In this essay, as a follow-up to his book, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us (in which he showed that, based on our knowledge of this universe alone, divine fine-tuning claims are without merit), Victor J. Stenger brings the arguments up-to-date with a discussion of the eternal multiverse hypothesis. This article was published in Skeptic magazine issue 19.3 in 2014. Order this back issue.
Cow Tipping: The Most Urban of all Urban Legends
In this article, written for children and first published in Junior Skeptic no. 5 (1999), Pat Linse discusses cow tipping: the most urban of all urban legends.
The Battle in Seattle
On September 30, 2015, Michael Shermer and Larry Taunton debated the question “Do We Need God?”. The debate will eventually be posted online for viewing. In the meantime, in this week’s eSkeptic, we present Michael Shermer’s notes for the debate. Michael did not have time to cover the morality of the New Testament (compared to the Old) but we include his notes here nonetheless in case readers would like to use this material. Much of it comes from his book The Moral Arc.
Debating The “God” Construct
In this week’s eSkeptic, Dave E. Matson critiques Douglas J. Navarick’s article “The ‘God’ Construct: A Testable Hypothesis for Unifying Science and Theology.” Following Matson’s challenge, Navarick responds.
Bat-People on the Moon!
In this issue we’ll be talking about bat-people. And sheep. And unicorns. On the Moon! What’s that you say? The Moon obviously can’t have unicorns because it doesn’t even have air to breathe? Well, sure, that’s a good point. But what if I told you the world’s most popular newspaper once announced the discovery of these and many other fantastical lunar lifeforms? Moreover, people believed those claims. How on Earth were New York City newspaper readers taken in by a far-fetched fantasy about flying Moon-bats? 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.
Learn about the future of life on our blue planet
Join us October 11, 2015 from 9am–6pm for a 2-hour cruise out of Long Beach Harbor, led by experienced and knowledgeable Aquarium of the Pacific educators to look for whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and other marine life. Hear Dr. Donald R. Prothero lecture on “The Sixth Extinction in the Oceans” about the future of life on the Blue Planet, and Dr. Michael Shermer lecture on “Why Darwin Matters: Evolution, Creationism, and Ben Carson’s Scientific Illiteracy.” Explore incredible exhibits of marine life at the Aquarium of the Pacific. See fish and other marine life from all over the Pacific, as well as a shark lagoon, penguins, seals, sea lions, sea otters, a pool where you can pet a ray, an aviary where you can feed lorikeets, and see a life-sized replica of a blue whale. We hope to see you all for a wonderful day by the ocean!
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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…
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Carbon Comic, which appears in Skeptic magazine, is created by Kyle Sanders: a pilot and founder of Little Rock, Arkansas’ Skeptics in The Pub. He is also a cartoonist who authors Carbon Dating: a skeptical comic strip about science, pseudoscience, and relationships. It can be found at carboncomic.com.
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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!
Top 10 Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine
Topics include: chiropractic, the placebo effect, homeopathy, acupuncture, and the questionable benefits of organic food, detoxification, and ‘natural’ remedies.
Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.