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.
Bigfoot Versus the Quest for World Peace?
Daniel Loxton considers a recent Scientific American blog post which argues that skeptics should "bash homeopathy and bigfoot less" and concentrate on "harder targets" such as an end to war.
The Discovery of Richard III’s Grave and the Fallibility of Memory
Richard III grave was excavated in 2012. The story of the discovery is incredible, particularly the account of Philippa Langley's extraordinary flash of intuition while visiting an ordinary parking lot in 2004, but was this intuition real or is it a case of faulty memory?
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.
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.
Dr. Stephon Alexander — The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe (Science Salon # 6)
A recording of this event will be made available for free viewing right here in about two weeks. Please check back. Photo by Lendel Marshal In The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe, physicist and jazz saxophonist Dr. Stephon Alexander revisits the ancient realm where music, physics, […]
Dr. Janna Levin — Gravitational Waves, Black Holes and the Nature of the Cosmos (Science Salon # 5)
In this Science Salon based on her new book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, astrophysicist and award-winning writer Dr. Janna Levin tells the epic story of the scientific campaign to record gravitational waves—the holy grail of modern cosmology.
Dr. Sean B. Carroll — The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters (Science Salon # 4)
How does life work? How does nature produce the right numbers of zebras and lions on the African savanna, or fish in the ocean? How do our bodies produce the right numbers of cells in our organs and bloodstream? In The Serengeti Rules, award-winning biologist and author Sean Carroll tells the stories of the pioneering scientists who sought the answers to such simple yet profoundly important questions, and shows how their discoveries matter for our health and the health of the planet we depend upon.
The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism.
Why are we so bad at spotting deception? Read this excerpt from The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Maria Konnikova. This excerpt appeared in Skeptic magazine 21.1 (2016).
Winning the Vaccination War in California
Raymond Barglow & Margret Schaefer discuss the issue of vaccination of school children, the subject in California of a prolonged and bitter debate which led to California Senate Bill 277 which eliminated the personal belief exemption that allowed unvaccinated children to attend school. The bill became law in California on the last day of June 2015.
Evidence: “It Worked for My Aunt Tillie” Is Not Enough
There is no such thing as alternative medicine. In this article from Skeptic magazine 20.3, Dr. Harriet Hall, aka the SkepDoc, distinguishes between science-based medicine and CAM.
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eSkeptic for May 25, 2016
Why are we so bad at spotting deception? In this week’s eSkeptic, we present an excerpt from The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Maria Konnikova. This excerpt appeared in Skeptic magazine 21.1 (2016).
eSkeptic for May 18, 2016
In this week’s eSkeptic, Raymond Barglow & Margret Schaefer discuss the issue of vaccination of school children, the subject in California of a prolonged and bitter debate which led to California Senate Bill 277 which eliminated the personal belief exemption that allowed unvaccinated children to attend school. The bill became law in California on the last day of June 2015.
eSkeptic for May 11, 2016
There is no such thing as alternative medicine. In this week's eSkeptic, Dr. Harriet Hall, aka the SkepDoc, distinguishes between science-based medicine and CAM.
In this issue we’ll summon our courage, light a candle, and venture inside the ancient horror of haunted houses. Imagine walking dark hallways, peering into abandoned rooms. We strain to recognize unfamiliar shapes in the shadows. A cold draft stirs the cobwebs; outside, wind moans through the trees. We climb creaking stairs up into the unknown. Ahead of us, we — wait, did you hear something? Were those…footsteps? Our skin prickles with fear and tension. Breathless, trembling, we call into the darkness, “Is somebody there?”
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!
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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.
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.
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.
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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.