Pseudoscience runs rampant in much of the popular media, reducing science to stereotypes of evil mad scientists. With the recent reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos documentary, we see the return of science popularization in a manner that inspires people (especially children) to be fascinated by science, to think about careers in science, and to pass Sagan’s mantle on to another generation. In this week’s eSkeptic, scientist and educator Donald Prothero reviews the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which premiered March 9, 2014.
The PBS broadcast of Carl Sagan’s 13-part documentary, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, was one of the most watched series in the history of American public television. The soon-to-be-released sequel, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey (see above), written, executively produced and directed by Ann Druyan, premieres Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 9pm/10pm ET/PT on FOX. In light of the rebirth of this stellar production, we present to you, in this week’s eSkeptic, an interview with Ann Druyan conducted by Michael Shermer in 2007, which appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 13.1—our tribute issue to Carl Sagan.
In this week’s eSkeptic, three skeptics join a crowd of about 2500 people at a seminar with renowned psychic, John Edward, and relay their experience in the following piece. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 10.2 (2003).
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer asks whether a scientific utopia can succeed; Daniel Loxton shares some thoughts from Carl Sagan about the value of scientific confrontation of pseudoscientific ideas; and Skepticality interview Robert Blaskiewicz and Guy Harrison about critical thinking.
When the story came out that Bigfoot DNA had been found, everyone was talking about it—and some of us were skeptical. In this week’s eSkeptic, Donald R. Prothero reports on what happened when an independent lab checked the samples. This post first appeared on Skepticblog.org.
We are surrounded by information: on TV, the Internet, in magazines, books, and emails from friends, family, commercial advertisers, politicians and other advocates making extraordinary claims. In this week’s eSkeptic, Donna L. Halper discusses some examples of how society has been duped, and shares some media literacy rules (skepticism and critical thinking) that will help you evaluate and assess claims for accuracy. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 17.4 (2012).
In this week’s eSkeptic, 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.
In this week’s eSkeptic, Daniel Loxton shares a story about Joseph F. Rinn—a leading media skeptic from the early 20th century— whose classic volume Sixty Years of Psychical Research, though rarely consulted today, remains the deepest and most important sources of skeptical literature on paranormal investigation from about 1890–1950.
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer remembers Paul Kurtz, who died October 20, 2012 at the age of 86. Kurtz was one of the founders of the modern skeptical movement, and he embodied the principle of skepticism as thoughtful inquiry.
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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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?
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…