Skeptics Society News and Site Highlights
Michael Shermer Slams Conservative Dennis Prager’s Attack on Atheism
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eSkeptic for April 19, 2017
In light of recent events in which Charles Murray has been booed off stage at two academic institutions for lecturing on ideas from his book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, we think it’s worth revisiting an article from Skeptic magazine from 1995 in which cognitive psychologist Diane Halpern’s critiques the book.
eSkeptic for April 12, 2017
In this week’s eSkeptic, Tim Callahan reviews the documentary film The Last Days of Jesus, produced by Blink Films, Associated Producers Ltd., PBS, Channel Five Television, LTD., SBS Television Australia and ZoomerMedia Limited. Aired on PBS affiliates in the U.S. April 4, 2017.
eSkeptic for April 5, 2017
In his April 2017 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael Shermer discusses the principle of proportionality: that we should prefer the more probable explanation over the less probable. Also in this week’s eSkeptic, MonsterTalk interviews folklorist and author Mark Norman to discuss legends of black hounds.
eSkeptic for March 29, 2017
It was 20 years ago this week, March 20–26, 1997, that 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult “graduated” from this life to ascend to the UFO mothership that they believed would take them to an extraterrestrial paradise.
eSkeptic for March 22, 2017
Are abused children doomed to repeat the crimes of their abusers? In this week’s eSkeptic, Carol Tavris examines our intuition about the “cycle of abuse.”
The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism.
What Would it Take to Change Your Mind?
On a scale from 1–10, how confident are you in a belief that you hold? What evidence could you encounter that would undermine your confidence? What would it take to lower your confidence from 9 to 8, or even 6?
The Skewed Logic of the Bell-Shaped Curve
In light of recent events in which Charles Murray has been booed off stage at two academic institutions for lecturing on ideas from his book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, we think it’s worth revisiting an article from Skeptic magazine from 1995 in which cognitive psychologist Diane Halpern critiques the book.
What Really Happened to Jesus?
Tim Callahan reviews the PBS documentary film ‘The Last Days of Jesus,’ which aired on PBS affiliates in the U.S. April 4, 2017.
How Accurate is the “Cycle of Abuse”?
Are abused children doomed to repeat the crimes of their abusers? In this column, Carol Tavris examines our intuition about the “cycle of abuse.”
What is Sexual Orientation?
When it comes to understanding sexual orientation “nobody knows anything” is a pretty close assessment. In this column from Skeptic magazine 21.3, Carol Tavris explores various notions and definitions of sexual orientation.
Skeptic’s Science Dialogue with Bill Nye the Science Guy
In this Science Dialogue, Michael Shermer interviews Bill Nye the Science Guy about his new Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World.
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. Andrew Shtulman — Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong
Why do we catch colds? What causes seasons to change? And if you fire a bullet from a gun and drop one from your hand, which bullet hits the ground first? In a pinch why do we almost always get these questions wrong?
Dr. Lawrence Krauss — The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far: Why Are We Here?
Internationally renowned theoretical physicist and passionate advocate for reason, Lawrence Krauss, tells the dramatic story of the discovery of the hidden world of reality and how we find our place within it.
Dr. Carol Tavris — Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)
Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it? Social psychologist Dr. Carol Tavris, one of the most influential thinkers and writers of our time, explores in dialogue with Michael Shermer cognitive dissonance and what happens when we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people—we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth.
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.
Confessions of a Skeptical Marketer
Guest writer Steve Cuno shares an insider's view on the ethics of advertising in a world full of false claims.
The Century-Long Fight Against American Quackery
Guest writer Robert Blaskiewicz reports on the early days of the ongoing battle to protect American patients from cynically fraudulent quack "medicine."
The Complexity of Alien Abduction and the Multidisciplinary Nature of Fringe Claims
Daniel Loxton explains that skepticism attracts mixed groups of people with complementary expertise because fringe claims require a multidisciplinary approach.
An Easy Guide to Baloney Detection
In this special issue of Junior Skeptic we’ll learn many valuable tricks for sorting truth from nonsense. We need them! We’re bombarded by claims every day of our lives. Friends tell us stuff. Labels and advertisements make claims about products. Books and websites make claims about the world. TV and YouTube channels show us amazing sights and tell us astonishing stories. But some of the things we hear sound too good to be true. How do we tell the difference between fact and baloney? Let’s find out!
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.
New York Times bestselling author, Michael Shermer, blogs at michaelshermer.com. Quickly access his three most recent blog posts below.
Science Makes America Great
In this March for Science speech, Michael Shermer urges President Donald Trump to consider the vital role science plays in our lives.
How Might a Scientist Think about the Resurrection?
Did Jesus die and come back to life? In the parlance of current events, is this a fake news story, an alternative fact invented by the followers of Jesus, or did it really happen?
If There is No God, is Murder Wrong?
Michael Shermer strikes back against the attack on atheism made by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager, in the recent video ‘If There Is No God, Murder Isn’t Wrong’.
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 Dr. Michael Shermer in a dialogue with a prominent scientist, scholar, or intellectual.
Read Skeptic Magazine on Your Favorite Device!
Read Skeptic magazine on your Apple, Android, and Kindle devices using the FREE Skeptic Magazine App. Read it on Windows devices using the PocketMags App, or read on your PC or Mac via PocketMags.com.
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).
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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The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)
For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.
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.
Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?
This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.
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.