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Skeptic Magazine, Volume 22 Number 2
Table of Contents

Skeptic magazine, vol 22, no 2 (cover)

Special Section: Artificial Intelligence Danger

Why We Should Be Concerned About Artificial Superintelligence
by Matthew Graves
Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat?
by Michael Shermer
Artificial Intelligence: Simulation, Not Synthesis
by Peter Kassan

Reviews

Think Again
A Review of Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas, by Steven Poole
reviewed by Michael Shermer
The Ultimate Trade Off
A Review of How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality, by Richard G. Bribiescas
reviewed by Michael Shermer
Playing Whack-a-Mole with Science Deniers
A Review of Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science, by Dave Levitan
reviewed by Glenn Branch
Frauds and Cons
Four books on the art of deception: Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and and Swindles in American History, by Nate Hendley; Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff, by Edward J. Balliesen; Houdini’s ‘Girl Detective’, compiled by Tony Wolf; The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For it…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova
reviewed by Michelle Ainsworth
Any Sufficiently Advanced Human is Indistinguishable from God
A Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari
reviewed by Michael Shermer

Columns

The SkepDoc
pH Mythology: Separating pHacts from pHiction
by Harriet Hall, M.D.
The Gadfly
Are You An Unconscious Racist?
by Carol Tavris

Articles

The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America
by George Michael
Delusions of the Imagination
How an Early 19th Century Medical Quack Device—The “Tractor”—Was Debunked by One of the Earliest Single Blind Placebo Studies
by Terence Hines
Area 51: What is Really Going on There?
UFOs and U-2s, Aliens and A-12s
by Donald R. Prothero
Is Race a Useful Concept?
by Razib Khan and Brian B. Boutwell
The Three Shades of Atheism
How Atheists Differ in Their Views
by Brittany Page and Douglas J. Navarick

Junior Skeptic

Chemtrails

We’ve all heard the story of Chicken Little—a fanciful tale about panic and jumping to conclusions (“The sky is falling!”). But how would it feel to truly believe that the sky is out to get you? For believers in one strange conspiracy theory, it’s scary to see a blue sky crossed by wispy white contrail lines from passing jet planes. They claim some of those contrails are not clouds or exhaust from jet engines as they appear, but sinister “chemtrails.” Supposedly, an evil government conspiracy uses jet planes to secretly spread poison across skies worldwide. Is there any possibility this paranoid claim could be true? Let’s find out!

By Daniel Loxton. This issue’s cover features a digital painting by Daniel Loxton.

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Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

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.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

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.

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

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.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

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.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

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?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

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…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

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!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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