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eSkeptic for 14-11-19

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by lone-gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. Yet, about three-quarters of Americans believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a multi-shooter conspiracy. In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer discusses several psychological factors at work that allow conspiracy theories to persist.

eSkeptic for 14-11-12

Since 1992, the Skeptics Society has sponsored over 350 of the biggest names in science in our Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, covering the most advanced, leading-edge discoveries, and controversial topics in all of science. Now we want to take it to a whole new level, and aim to reach millions of people around the world following the TED model. Find out more…

Reading Room
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.

eSkeptic for 14-10-15

Among the strangest of all bizarre pseudoscientific notions is the idea that ordinary contrails formed by high-flying aircraft are somehow a government conspiracy to spray us with toxic chemicals. In this week’s eSkeptic, Donald R. Prothero discusses how “chemtrail” conspiracy thinking fails the science literacy test.

Carbon Comic by Kyle Sanders
“Look Up!” Find Your Path Towards Blue Skies Ahead

“Look Up!” Find Your Path Towards Blue Skies Ahead, a Carbon Comic by Kyle Sanders, appeared in Skeptic magazine 19.2 (2014).

eSkeptic for 14-06-04

In this week’s eSkeptic: The latest issue of Skeptic magazine (19.2): Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories; Shermer asks whether deterrence prohibits the total abolishment of nuclear weapons; MonsterTalk discusses the legends and facts behind the Mongolian Death Worm; and Loxton reflects on monster hoaxes—and Discovery Channel’s tarnished reputation.

eSkeptic for 13-12-04

In this week’s eSkeptic, we present a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times from a reader in response to this op-ed written by Michael Shermer, followed by Shermer’s reply.

Reading Room
JFK Conspiracy Theories at 50:
How the Skeptics Got It Wrong and Why It Matters

In this article from Skeptic Magazine issue 18.3 (2013), David Reitzes recounts some of the most durable myths and conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s assassination, and reminds us that the job of a skeptic is to use critical thinking to properly assess the evidence, and to use our critical faculties to distinguish verifiable evidence from idle speculation, not to merely doubt for the sake of doubting.

Reading Room
Why People Believe Weird Things (Elon U)

Michael Shermer delivers a 1.5-hour lecture on why people believe weird things at Elon University, October 22, 2013.

eSkeptic for 13-06-19

For some obsessed fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining, there exists hidden meaning in the film. Are these fans suffering from confirmation bias, or did Stanley Kubrick intend to leave clues, like a riddle to be solved? In this week’s eSkeptic, Will Dowd conspiracy thinking in this review of Room 237, a documentary directed by Rodney Ascher, produced by Tim Kirk, and distributed by IFC Films (released January, 2012, 102 minutes).

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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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