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  • Skeptic Magazine 27.2: Abortion Matters

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latest additions to
the reading room

The Reading Room is an ever-growing library of articles offering in-depth, science-based examinations of myriad skeptical topics, written by leading experts in their fields.

Nature’s God: Why Christians Should Accept the Theory of Evolution

If you give Christians a choice between Jesus and Darwin by telling them that the theory of evolution means you have to be an atheist, they’re going to pick Jesus every time. In this article, Larry Arnhart argues that Christians should accept the theory of evolution not only because it’s true but also that it does not mean they have to give up their religion.

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A Transgender Controversy

In this important analysis of the medical issues involving trans people, Dr. Harriet Hall reviews what medical science knows about puberty blockers, vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, rapid onset gender dysphoria, detransitioners, and why “watchful waiting” is probably the best strategy at the moment given the considerable uncertainties.

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Wild Psychotherapy: Untested and Questionable Methods of Psychological Advice and Treatment

Scientifically trained psychologists and social scientists have long been skeptical of clinical psychotherapy techniques because they are so dependent on anecdotes instead of data. In response, clinicians with scientific training have developed data-based techniques, like Cognitive Behavior Therapy. But these new techniques have not trickled down to pop psychologists like Laura Schlessinger (Dr. Laura) and Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil), along with self-help gurus like Tony Robbins. This article critiques these pop psych nostrums.

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Trans Matters: An Overview of the Debate, Research, and Policies

In this overview of the debate, research, and policies related to various trans matters, Lisa Selin Davis has written what is arguably the best and most balanced treatment of the culturally radioactive topic that incites passioned opinions on both sides of the political aisle. The trans movement is relatively new and science has just begun intensive study of the various issues, so opinions could change with changing evidence, but for the time being read this article for the most comprehensive analysis to date.

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Eyewitness Testimony: How to engage with people and accounts of extraordinary claims without evoking anger

Human perception and memory are notoriously inaccurate. Preconceptions and biases shape both our perceptions of events and how we recall them later. Mick West considers how to think about eyewitness testimony so that it does not become emotional and swiftly evolve into an overly polarized argument.

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Listen to the Podcast

The Michael Shermer Show (portrait of Michael Shermer by Jeremy Danger)

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time. Listen via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

Yoram Hazony on Traditional Conservatism vs. Enlightenment Liberalism

Political theorist Yoram Hazony argues that the best hope for Western democracy is a return to the empiricist, religious, and nationalist traditions of America and Britain. Shermer makes the case for Enlightenment liberalism, with its focus on science and reason, as the primary driver of moral progress over the centuries.

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Michael Strevens — The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

Shermer and Strevens discuss: irrationality and how it drives science • the knowledge machine • the replication crisis, what caused it, and what to do about it • verification vs. falsification • the iron rule of explanation • Bayesian reasoning vs. falsification • climate/evolution skeptics • model dependent realism • humanism • theistic arguments for: God, origin of life, morality, consciousness • known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns • how to evaluate media sources of science.

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Anil Seth on the Hard Problem of Consciousness, the Self, and the Essence of Volition

Shermer and Seth discuss: consciousness • controlled hallucinations • the self and other minds • Where does consciousness go during general anaesthesia? After death? • Are we living in a simulation that itself is inside a simulation? • Does Deep Blue know that it beat the great Gary Kasparov in chess? • Does Watson know that it beat the great Ken Jennings in Jeopardy!? • Is Data on Star Trek sentient, conscious, and with feelings? • Can AI systems be conscious? • free will, determinism, compatibilism, and panpsychism.

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Moneyball For Your Life: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on Using Data to Get What You Really Want

Most people rely on their gut instinct to decide how to date, who to marry, where to live, what career path to take, how to find happiness, but what if our gut is wrong? Biased, unpredictable, and misinformed, our gut, it turns out, is not all that reliable. Michael Shermer speaks with economist and former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on using data to get what you really want in life.

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Skepticism 101

Watch lectures from Dr. Michael Shermer’s Chapman University course called Skepticism 101: How to Think Like a Scientist.

The Moral Arc: How Thinking Like a Scientist Makes the World More Moral

In this, the final lecture of his Chapman University Skepticism 101 course, Dr. Michael Shermer pulls back to take a bigger picture look at what science and reason have done for humanity in the realm of moral progress. Watch The Moral Arc: How Thinking Like a Scientist Makes the World More Moral.

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What is Truth, Anyway?

In this lecture Dr. Michael Shermer addresses one of the deepest questions of all: what is truth? How do we know what is true, untrue, or uncertain?

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Research Center

The Skeptic Research Center (SRC) is a collaboration with qualified researchers to release digestible single-topic analyses of proprietary polling and survey data, detailing peoples’ attitudes about the important concerns of our time. Our data is open-source for full transparency. Our goal is to empower you with an understanding of what your fellow citizens really believe and how they really behave.

Paranormal & Conspiratorial Ideation Study (PCIS)

In the Paranormal & Conspiratorial Ideation Study (PCIS), we took a snapshot of Americans’ paranormal and conspiratorial beliefs. We surveyed people about all sorts of topics (e.g., QAnon, election conspiracies, the Loch Ness monster, astrology). As usual, we also have a host of variables that might be related in interesting ways to such beliefs, things like trust in media, emotional stress, and social belonging. Across a dozen research reports, we will delve into our most surprising results about who believes what and (perhaps) why.

Explore this study

Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

In the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES), we take a deeper look at the political issues that most divide people. Specifically, we examine peoples’ political and social attitudes as they relate to the George Floyd protests, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the presidential election.

Explore this study

Junior Skeptic # 76

Junior Skeptic 76 (detail of cover)

Pandemics Throughout History

In this issue of Junior Skeptic we’ll confront one of humanity’s scariest enemies: epidemic disease. Are we brave enough to face this horror? You bet we are! We’ve done it every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID is new. Other diseases have plagued our ancestors since ancient times. Mighty civilizations have been devastated by the invisible invaders we call “germs.” But people are not helpless! Over centuries, we learned how to fight back against disease. Our strongest weapons are science and critical thinking. However, germs have a powerful ally: misinformation! How do ignorance and bad ideas help the germs win—and what can we do about that? Let’s find out!

Skeptic Magazine App

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Skeptic Presents:
Humour & Skepticism

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.

Skepticism 101

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: books, reading lists, course syllabi, in-class exercises, presentations, student projects, and videos that you may download and use in your own classes.

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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 PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

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.

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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.

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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 can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences 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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