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.
Botanist Makes “Literary Discovery of the Century”
A botanist claims to have discovered the only portrait of Shakespeare completed during his lifetime. Can plants be used to identify Shakespeare's appearance and work?
Carl Sagan and the Dangers of Skepticism
Daniel Loxton shares an excerpt from Junior Skeptic 50 (released in print format in 2014).
Celebrating an Unbelievable Decade of Skepticality
Daniel Loxton raises a toast to the first 10 years of skepticism's pioneering first podcast—and hopes for many years more!
Is “Brontosaurus” Back? Not So Fast!
Donald Prothero discusses strengths and criticisms of a new study of diplodocine sauropod dinosaurs, and considers the puzzling picture it paints of the lives and relationships of these gigantic animals.
Double-Exposure in the Back Seat
Blake Smith turns to face a mysterious figure in the back seat.
The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
with Dr. Leonard Mlodinow
Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 2 pm
FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR of The Drunkard’s Walk and Subliminal, and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking): 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. From the birth of reasoning and culture to the formation of the studies of physics, chemistry, biology, and modern-day quantum physics, we come to see that much of our progress can be attributed to simple questions—why? how?—bravely asked. Mlodinow shows that just as science has played a key role in shaping the patterns of human thought, human subjectivity has played a key role in the evolution of science. At once authoritative and accessible, and infused with the author’s trademark wit, this deeply insightful book is a stunning tribute to humanity’s intellectual curiosity.
A book signing will follow the lecture. We will have copies of the book, The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos, available for purchase. Can’t attend the lecture? Order The Upright Thinkers from Amazon.
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.
Food Faiths & Diet Religions
In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. Harriet Hall, M.D., the SkepDoc, reviews The Gluten Lie: and other myths about what you eat, by Alan Levinovitz.
The Truth is Out There and Ray Hyman Wants to Find it
In this week’s eSkeptic, we present a skeptical classic: an interview with a co-founder of modern skepticism: Ray Hyman. This interview first appeared in Skeptic magazine 6.2, back in 1998.
Journey Inside the Fantastical Hollow Earth
Could unknown civilizations rule undiscovered realms deep underground? Might prehistoric beasts stalk through jungles far below our feet? These ideas have long inspired writers of science fiction and adventure stories. For example, the 2009 animated film Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was based on them. But for some people the “Hollow Earth” is more than just a make-believe story. How did people find their way into such a fantastic belief?
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.
Great Britain: Science & Skepticism
July 14–31, 2016
Join us in the summer of 2016 for a once-in-a-lifetime 17-day tour of Great Britain including England, Scotland, and Wales. Led by geologist/paleontologist/author Dr. Donald Prothero, we will explore the geology and natural history of Great Britain from the White Cliffs to the North Sea coast of Scotland. Our tour will focus on sites of scientific and skeptical interest, including famous fossil beds and geologic sites, behind-the-scenes tours of natural history museums, historic places associated with scientists such Charles Darwin, A.R. Wallace, Isaac Newton, geologist James Hutton, and skeptic philosopher David Hume, plus a boat tour of Loch Ness, a visit to Stonehenge, tours of a Cornish tin mine and a Welsh coal mine and slate quarry, guided tours of London and Edinburgh, as well as visits to castles, battlefields, and other fascinating places. Also coming on the trip and lecturing on the history of science and evolutionary theory, especially Darwin and Wallace, is Dr. Michael Shermer.
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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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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!
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.
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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Browse by Topic
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.