lecture by Dr. Steven Pinker
Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 2 pm
WHY IS SO MUCH WRITING SO BAD, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do people write badly on purpose, to obfuscate and impress? Have dictionaries abandoned their responsibility to safeguard correct usage? Do kids today even care about good writing? In his latest book the Harvard linguist, cognitive scientist, bestselling author (The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature) and chair of the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, Dr. Steven Pinker, answers these questions and more. Pinker applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose. Filled with examples of great and gruesome modern prose, The Sense of Style shows how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right, that is also informed by science. Order The Sense of Style from Amazon. A book signing will follow the lecture.
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…
Skepticality — the pioneering original skeptics podcast — is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews.
MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.
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.
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.
June 13-20, 2014
JOIN US AS WE TRAVEL through an iconic landscape that reveals one of the most studied sequences of layered rock on earth! We will spend a day and and two nights at the less-visited North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a day to explore majestic Zion Canyon, a day visit to Bryce Canyon, plus additional stops at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Museum, Calico Ghost Town, Virgin River Gorge, the Dinosaur Museum in St. George, Utah, and two nights in Las Vegas. Through the entire trip, we will learn about the geology and natural history of the majestic scenery, making this a tour you could get nowhere else!
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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.
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?
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!
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.
“Is there a happiness that does not depend upon having one’s favorite foods available, or friends and loved ones within arm’s reach, or good books to read, or something to look forward to on the weekend? Is it possible to be happy before anything happens…in spite of life’s difficulties, in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease and death?… [M]ost of us are living as though the answer were ‘no.’” says Sam Harris in his new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, reviewed by Sigfried Gold in this week’s eSkeptic. The book is available in stores on September 9, 2014.
In this week’s eSkeptic, we announce Skeptic magazine issue 19.3 on The Multiverse; Michael Shermer discusses how the survivor bias distorts reality in his Scientific American column for September; Daniel Loxton gets shortlisted as a Finalist for a National Literary Prize; and Chris Impey lectures on the intersection between science and Tibetan Buddhism.
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.
Jim Lippard remembers University of Southern California religion and gerontology professor emeritus Gerald A. Larue, who passed away last Wednesday.
Ani Aharonian wonders where the heck her passport might have gone—and reflects on the psychology of misplacing objects as a result of intentional placement.
Barbara Drescher tells the story of a very smart man who made a very stupid decision, and digs into the difference between "intelligence" and "rationality."
Michael Shermer reflects on the life and skepticism of physicist Victor Stenger.
Donald Prothero explains that while Dr. Eben Alexander claims that he visited heaven while in a coma, awkward details cast serious doubt on his story.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Let's understand the arguments of atheism. Let's examine both kinds of anti-God arguments: those that refute the existence of God and those that promote the veracity of atheism. There are many diverse arguments in both categories. Which are the best? What is the prosecution by atheists? What is the defense by theists? Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.
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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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…
The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country—all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line…
If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!
Topics include: chiropractic, the placebo effect, homeopathy, acupuncture, and the questionable benefits of organic food, detoxification, and ‘natural’ remedies.
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.