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Skeptics Society News and Site Highlights

  • Watch The Moral Arc lecture, recorded at Caltech, February 8 at 2pm PST
  • Registration is now open for the 2015 Skeptics Society Conference, at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium (May 29-31 2015).
  • Watch Bill Nye, in conversation with Michael Shermer, broadcast live from Caltech on January 25
  • When you shop at Amazon, donate to Skeptic at no cost to you
  • Big names. Even Bigger Ideas. The Skeptics Society’s Disintinguished Science Lecture Series. Now available for rent on Vimeo On Demand.

Skeptic Science Lectures: on Vimeo On Demand

Skeptic Presents…

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The Baloney Detection Kit

Upcoming Lecture

The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter

with Dr. Susan Pinker
Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2 pm

IN THIS ENTERTAINING AND PERSUASIVE LECTURE based on her new book, psychologist Susan Pinker shows how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience, and longevity. From birth to death, human beings are hardwired to connect to other human beings. Face-to-face contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives, and make us happy. Looser in-person bonds matter, too, combining with our close relationships to form a personal “village” around us. Not just any social networks will do: we need the real, in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends, and communities together. Marrying the findings of the new field of social neuroscience with gripping human stories, Susan Pinker explores the impact of face-to-face contact from cradle to grave, from city to Sardinian mountain village, from classroom to workplace, from love to marriage to divorce. Creating our own “village effect” makes us happier. It can also save our lives.

A book signing will follow the lecture. We will have copies of the book, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter , available for purchase. Can’t attend the lecture? Order The Village Effect online.

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.

Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on the App Store
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available at Amazon for Android
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on Windows Store

MonsterTalk— presented by Skeptic magazine

MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.

MonsterTalk Podcast App (presented by Skeptic Magazine) is available on the App Store
MonsterTalk Podcast App (presented by Skeptic Magazine) is available at Amazon for Android
MonsterTalk Podcast App (presented by Skeptic Magazine) is available on Windows Store

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 # 53

Junior Skeptic issue 53 (detail of cover)

Flat Earth?! The Convoluted Story of a Flatly Mistaken Idea

Imagine if someone were to ask you, “What shape is the Earth?” It’s likely you’d answer “round,” or describe our world as a ball (or globe or sphere) in space. I would too! But what if you met someone who insisted that the Earth is nothing like a ball, but instead is as flat as a pancake? How could they possibly defend such a peculiar notion? And are there really people who believe this?

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

Hang out with Lawrence Krauss May 29–31, 2015

Hang out with Lawrence Krauss at the Skeptics Society’s conference, May 29–31, 2015; On The Moral Progress Blog: “Why Islam?” by Michael Shermer; The Daily Beast’s Jake Whitney Reviews The Moral Arc; “Poes, Trolls, and Dinosaur Deniers,” by Donald Prothero; “Gotcha! Thinking About Skeptical ‘Stings’,” by Daniel Loxton; “Considering a Complaint About Skeptical Tactics,” by Daniel Loxton; io9 interviews Daniel Loxton

last week’s eSkeptic

Richard Dawkins Speaking at Skeptics Society’s Annual Conference in May

We are thrilled to announce that the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and atheist activist Richard Dawkins will be participating in the Skeptics Society’s annual conference at Caltech Friday–Sunday May 29–31, joining our galaxy of science stars Jared Diamond, Lawrence Krauss, Esther Dyson, John McWhorter, Ian Morris, Carol Tavris, Greg Benford, David Brin, & Donald Prothero.

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.

Poes, Trolls, and Dinosaur Deniers

Donald Prothero considers the Christians Against Dinosaurs website, and reflects on the problem described by "Poe's Law": it is often impossible to tell the difference between parody and sincere extremism.

Gotcha! Thinking About Skeptical “Stings”

Daniel Loxton considers the long, valuable, and ethically complicated history of skeptical undercover investigations and debunking traps.

Considering a Complaint About Skeptical Tactics

Daniel Loxton describes a recent recurrence of the very old controversy about skeptical use of undercover investigation and "sting " tactics.

A Tale of Two Debaters

Donald Prothero considers the diverging fortunes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham in the wake of their "Great Debate."

Newsrooms Building Online Tools Skeptics Can Use

Tim Farley takes a look at a perhaps unexpected source of online tools of use for skeptics—the newspaper industry.

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

The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism.

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.

CONFERENCE 2015

Richard Dawkins has been added to an already outstanding lineup of speakers for the May 29–31 Skeptics Society Conference!

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eSkeptic is our free email newsletter, delivered once a week. In it, you’ll receive: fascinating articles, announcements, podcasts, book reviews, and more…


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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Skeptics Society
at no cost to you!

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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