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Skeptics Society News and Site Highlights

Skeptic Six-Day Sale: Save 25% on everything at shop.skeptic.com, including print subscriptions (excluding digital), now through Cyber Monday, Dec 1, 2014 (PST) Get Skeptic Magazine issue 19.3: THE MULTIVERSE Big names. Even Bigger Ideas. The Skeptics Society’s Disintinguished Science Lecture Series. Now available for rent on Vimeo On Demand. Discover INSIGHT at Skeptic.com Watch Steven Pinker's lecture from October 4, 2014 Skeptic Presents: Michael Shermer Interviews Pope Francis

Skeptic Science Lectures: on Vimeo On Demand

Skeptic Presents…

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The Baloney Detection Kit

Upcoming Lecture

Alan Turing: The Enigma

lecture by Dr. Andrew Hodges
Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 2 pm

IT IS ONLY A SLIGHT EXAGGERATION to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912–1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades—all before his suicide at age 41. In November a major motion picture starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing will be released, based on the classic biography Dr. Andrew Hodges, who teaches mathematics at Wadham College, University of Oxford (he is also an active contributor to the mathematics of fundamental physics). Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936—the concept of a universal machine—laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. Hodges also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program—all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime. Order Alan Turing: The Enigma from Amazon. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Free PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this free PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society…

our podcasts

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.

Skepticism 101

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.

The Skeptical Movement

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.

geology tours

Central California Classics

January 17–19, 2015

JOIN US FOR A WONDERFUL THREE-DAY TOUR of the highlights of the central California coast. We will take the Grand Rooms Tour of Hearst Castle, a tour of La Purisima Mission, see hundreds of elephant seals at a rookery on the beach including huge bulls weighing up to 2½ tons, massive clusters of monarch butterflies sheltering in the eucalyptus trees, and sea otters in Morro Bay. We will visit the San Andreas fault zone at the iconic Wallace Creek site on the Carrizo Plain (weather permitting), the oil fields of the southwestern San Joaquin Valley (including the outstanding West Kern Oil Museum), and tour the spectacular geology of the Coast Ranges. Each night we will stay at the Best Western Shorecliffs Hotel in Pismo Beach, where you can walk down to the beach or stroll through this quaint resort town.

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geology tours!

Interested in participating on future Scientific Exploration Geology and Science Tours? Enter your email address here to get priority notification of future events (we will not share your address with any other parties).



global warming

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.

Junior Skeptic # 52

Junior Skeptic issue 52 (detail of cover)

Photographing Phantoms—Part Two

Shortly after it was invented by the slippery Mr. Mumler and his wife, other photographers said they too could capture ghosts on film. Why did so many people believe these claims? If any spirit photographs were genuine—could we tell? And with tricksters trying to fool people, how could folks detect photographic fakery?

Science Lectures
For Rent Online

Big names. Even Bigger Ideas. The Skeptics Society's Disintinguished Science Lecture Series. Now available for rent on Vimeo On Demand.

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!

Science Education ≠ Skepticism

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.

this week’s eSkeptic

Skeptic Six-Day Sale
SHOP NOW. SAVE 25%

It’s our best sale of the year, on now through Cyber Monday, December 1. Save 25% on everything at Shop Skeptic, including: books, DVDs, print subscriptions, hoodies, t-shirts (and other cool swag), as well as printed back issues of Skeptic magazine. (Digital excluded) SHOP NOW, SAVE 25%

this week’s eSkeptic

Why Kennedy-Assassination Conspiracy Theories Endure

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by lone-gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet, about three-quarters of Americans believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a multi-shooter conspiracy. In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer discusses several psychological factors at work that allow conspiracy theories to persist.

Latest INSIGHTS

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.

Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets

Donald Prothero considers the marginal story of the "ropen"—an allegedly pterosaur-like cryptid—and the man who has led a one-man crusade to promote it using an army of sock-puppets.

Eine andere Welt

Donald Prothero visits Berlin to attend the 74th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and reflects on differences he perceives in social and political trends and scientific understanding between Germany and the United States.

Next Gen Dr Karl? Not Me

Mike McRae considers the ever-changing fashions of the public face of science presenters—fatherly and professional, wacky and fun, and so on—and reflects on the necessarily varied audiences such tropes seek to reach.

A Skeptical Maxim (May) Turn 75 This Week

Tim Farley looks into the origin of the saying "keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out," and finds it is older than most skeptics may think.

Monsters & Science

Just in time for Halloween, Blake Smith recommends some of the spookiest episodes of MonsterTalk, The Science Show About Monsters.

Skeptic Presents:
Humour & Skepticism

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.

Skeptic Magazine App

Get the Skeptic Magazine App

Get the free Skeptic Magazine App and enjoy digital subscriptions and back issues on your iOS and Android devices, PC, Mac, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Windows 8 devices!

The Vaccine Debate

Engaging the
Anti-vaxxers

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).

latest additions to
the reading room

Conspiracy Theories Who Believes Them, and Why? How Can You Determine if They are True or False?

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? For the answers, download this free booklet, created by Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, the founders of Skeptic magazine and your Skeptics Society.

Closer To Truth: Does the Cosmos Have a Reason?

What remarkable discoveries are being made in cosmology! Cosmologists now develop credible theories about the beginning and end of our universe and theory-based speculations about vast numbers of multiple universes. But does the cosmos have a reason? Could revolutionary ideas support some kind of 'universal reason'? The bar is set high, and it is OK to say no. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.

Closer To Truth: Does Evil Refute God’s Existence?

Evil is a high hurdle for theists. Given the savagery of moral evil (what humans do to humans) and the horrors of natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis, disease), how could an all-powerful and all-good God exist? Philosophers offer defenses (evil and God do not contradict) and theodicies (reasons why God allows evil). The problem is the sheer amount of evil. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.

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Popular Articles
on skeptic.com

Here are the articles that people have been sharing over the last few days.

Carbon Comic

Carbon Comic (by Kyle Sanders)

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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Planning on shopping at Amazon? By clicking on our Amazon affiliate link, which will open the Amazon Store in your Internet browser, the Skeptics Society will receive a small commission on your purchase. Your prices for all products remain the same, yet you’ll provide essential financial support for the work of the nonprofit Skeptics Society.

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FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

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?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

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…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

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!

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine

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.

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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