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eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

eSkeptic Archives for 2008

December 23rd: Fooled by Ponzi (and Madoff)
We present an insider’s look at Ponzi schemes by an expert on human gullibility who not only just wrote a book on the subject, but with considerable irony just lost a good chunk of his retirement savings in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. This is one of the most insightful articles we’ve ever published that puts the lie to the belief that intelligent and educated skeptics and scientists can’t be fooled.
December 17th: How to Be Psychic in Ten Easy Steps
For our annual fundraising drive at the Skeptics Society, this year’s premium give-away is a PDF booklet on how to do your own psychic readings, in exchange for which we respectfully ask you to show your support for your Skeptics Society by making a donation to our annual fundraising campaign.
December 10th: Regulation Schmegulation
Michael Shermer debunks the myth of deregulation as the cause of the current economic crisis; Skeptic.com offers rare Pyramid Power resources from Junior Skeptic # 23; and Michael Shermer and Karl Giberson debates how best to “save Darwin.”
December 3rd: Newtonmas is here again (almost)
It’s that time of year once again. Giving gifts on December 25, Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday (he’s 366 this year!), has long been a tradition amongst skeptics, so here are a few gems we plucked out of our catalogue that we think your friends and family members will enjoy receiving as gifts (and it’s okay to buy yourself a gift as well!).
November 26th: The Powerful Pull of Belief
Michael Shermer discusses the confirmation bias — the powerful compulsion to seek out confirmatory evidence for our beliefs, in the context of the film Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.
November 19th: Oppenheimer the Opera
Michael Shermer reviews the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Doctor Atomic, the story of the building of the atomic bomb and the brilliant but enigmatic J. Robert Oppenheimer.
November 12th: Just What is the Consensus on Global Warming?
Gary J. Whittenberger Ph.D. discusses how a global warming petition project has misled the public by indicating there is a consensus that the evidence is weak or nonexistent for anthropogenic global warming.
November 5th: Does God Exist?
Dr Michael Shermer takes on Dr John Lennox, who holds three doctorates in the fields of science and mathematics (Ph.D., D.Phil., D.Sc.) and is a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green College, University of Oxford.
October 29th: Introducing SkepticBlog
Steven Novella introduces SkepticBlog — a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism, featuring the cast and producers of The Skeptologists, a pilot skeptical reality show.
October 22nd: Thank God for Evolution
Michael J. Booker, Ph.D reviews Michael Dowd’s book entitled Thank God for Evolution! How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World; Michael Dowd responds.
October 15th: From Science Fiction to Science Fact
Tauriq Moosa reviews Michio Kaku’s book entitled Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel.
October 8th: Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth
Skeptic magazine’s very own Skepdoc, Harriet Hall M.D., punctures the acupuncture myth and tells you why “almost everything you’ve heard about acupuncture is wrong.”
October 1st: Was Vanity Fair Hoaxed?
Mark Bellinghaus, a first rate skeptical investigator of all things Marilyn, sheds some light on how a recent Marilyn Monroe hoax fooled Vanity Fair magazine.
September 24th: How to Resolve the War between Science & Religion
Shawn K. Stover, an associate professor of biology at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, discusses how to resolve the war between science and religion.
September 17th: What Makes People Vote Republican?
We link to Jonathan Haidt’s article on science and politics entitled What Makes People Vote Republican? on Edge.org, with commentaries on it by Michael Shermer and others.
September 10th: Shermer in Australia
Michael Shermer shares his stories after a two-week tour of Australia sponsored by the Australian government for their annual National Science Week.
September 3rd: Announcing the Fall Season of Lectures at Caltech
The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its Fall season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. This continues the fifteen-year-long series, presenting over 200 lectures by some of the most distinguished experts in the world.
August 27th: Money, Markets & Morality
We present ABC Radio National’s show All in the Mind, a debate recorded for National Science Week in Australia, between Dr. Michael Shermer and shareholder activist and Crikey founder, Stephen Mayne.
August 20th: Flagella Myths
Mark Perakh discusses how Intelligent Design proponents created the myth that bacterial flagella look like man-made machines.
August 15th: Proof of Bigfoot?
Michael Shermer responds to the recently claimed Bigfoot find. Plus, we present a brief history of Bigfoot summarized from Daniel Loxton’s two Junior Skeptic issues bound into Skeptic magazines Vol 11 No 2 and Vol 11 No 3.
August 13th: Redefining Near Death Experiences
Sebastian Dieguez presents a rejoinder to Mark Crislip’s “Near Death Experiences & the Medical Literature” (eSkeptic June 18th, 2008), calling for a redefinition of NDEs.
August 6th: Does science make belief in God obsolete?
This is the third in a series of conversations presented by the John Templeton Foundation. The conversation explores the BIG Questions (the theme of this year’s Skeptics Society Conference at Caltech), among which is “Does science make belief in God obsolete?”.
July 30th: Toward a Type 1 Civilization
Michael Shermer postulates a “Type 1” civilization in which exists a “globalism that includes worldwide wireless Internet access, with all knowledge digitized and available to everyone…
July 23rd: announcing our 2008 Conference
The Skeptics Society announces its 2008 Conference at Caltech: ORIGINS — The BIG Questions.
July 16th: Lying for God
Paul Gross reviews Lauri Lebo’s The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America.
July 9th: Charlatan: Quackery Then & Now
Harriet Hall, MD reviews Pope Brock’s Charlatan. America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam.
July 2nd: The Real Evolution Anniversary
Michael Shermer celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 1858 discovery of natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
June 25th: Socratic Skepticism
Priscilla Sakezles discusses the famous words most often attributed to Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing.” claiming that it is indeed a misquote.
June 18th: Mostly Dead or All Dead?
Infectious Disease doctor Mark Crislip dissects some medical research on near death experiences.
June 11th: Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?
We present a link to a free, beautifully produced booklet on the question “Does science make belief in God obsolete?” published by the Templeton Foundation and edited by Michael Shermer.
June 4th: How Skeptics Confronted 9/11 Denialism
John Ray celebrates the triumph of skepticism over 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
May 28th: Grassroots protest turns out to be “astroturf”
Daniel Loxton digs into a protest campaign that is fighting to block enforcement of Canada’s purity, safety, and labeling laws for natural health products — and discovers a shadowy business interest behind the faux consumer watchdog site organizing those protests.
May 21st: The Phoenix Lights Explained (Again)
Tony Ortega debunks the Phoenix Lights: the mysterious “vee” configuration that people reported seeing flying over the state of Arizona in March 1997.
May 14th: Gimme that Old-Time Irreligion
Norman Levitt reviews John Alan Paulos’ book entitled Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up; we ask eSkeptic readers to take our reader survey.
May 7th: How We Know Global Warming is Real
We present two free articles from the current issue of Skeptic magazine on global warming: Patrick Frank’s A Climate of Belief and the other by Tapio Schneider’s How We Know Global Warming is Real.
April 30th: new issue of Skeptic magazine
The Skeptic Society announces the new issue of Skeptic magazine, Volume 14, Number 1 on Global Warming.
April 23rd: Expelled Exposed, Part 2
We present the third and fourth of four articles debunking claims made in Ben Stein’s new documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The first article is by Carrie Sager and Andrea Bottaro. The second article is by Lauri Lebo.
April 17th: Expelled Exposed, Part 1
We present the first two of four articles debunking claims made in Ben Stein’s new documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The first article is by Michael Shermer and the second article is by Ed Brayton.
April 9th: Fundamental Truths
Tim Callahan reviews R. D. Gold’s book entitled Bondage of the Mind: How Old Testament Fundamentalism Shackles the Mind and Enslaves the Spirit.
April 2nd: The Doping Dilemma
Michael Shermer presents extensive research on doping in sports and discusses how game theory helps to explain the pervasive abuse of drugs in cycling, baseball and other sports.
March 27th: Faith Healing
Michael Shermer reviews Pope Brock’s Charlatan. America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam.
March 19th: Snake Oil Science
Harriet Hall, M.D, a.k.a. “the SkepDoc”, reviews R. Barker Bausell’s book entitled Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
March 12th: The Hydrogen Economy
Alice Friedemann examines the science and pseudoscience behind a hydrogen economy. Is it worth the energy?
March 5th: A Leap Beyond Faith
We present Michael Shermer’s Los Angeles Times opinion editorial on Scientology, followed by several Letters to the Editor that ran in response. And then, we present, in part, Jean E. Rosenfeld’s Los Angeles Times op-ed rebuttal to Michael’s piece.
February 27th: Consciousness is Nothing but a Word
We present Henry D. Schlinger’s revised version of an invited talk presented at our annual conference, “Brain, Mind and Consciousness,” at Caltech in May 2005. This article is also available in Skeptic magazine Volume 13, Number 4.
February 20th: Ultrasound Screening, Fish Oil & Ear Candles
Harriet Hall, M.D. applies her usual skeptical lens to ultrasound screening, fish oil, and ear candles. Surprisingly there is something positive to be found in one of the subjects that may actually be good for you.
February 13th: How Broadcast Journalism is Flawed
Steve Salerno discusses the fundamental flaws of broadcast journalism as a tool for informing viewers.
February 6th: The Myth of the Mozart Effect
Will Dowd takes a look at what science really says about The Mozart Effect.
January 30th: What Have You Changed Your Mind About?
Michael Shermer answers the Annual Edge.org Question “What Have You Changed Your Mind About?”.
January 23rd: Markets, Monkeys & Medicine
Michael Shermer explains Why People Believe Weird Things About Money in an LA Times op-ed; Norman Levitt responds to Steve Fuller’s response to Norman Levitt’s review of Science vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution; and Skeptic magazine’s resident medical expert, Dr. Harriet Hall starts blogging.
January 16th: Science versus Religion
Steve Fuller Responds to Norman Levitt’s review of his book entitled Science vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution.
January 8th: The Mind of the Market
Michael Shermer announces his new website (www.MichaelShermer.com), his new book, The Mind of the Market, and his touring schedule for the book.

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