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Tim Farley

Tim Farley is a computer security analyst in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a writer, podcaster and lecturer. He is known for his website What’s the Harm?, which catalogs the real-world consequences of irrational beliefs. He also writes on technology issues for skeptics at his Skeptical Software Tools blog, where he advocates for skeptic online best practices and explores crowdsourcing as a skeptical technique. Read Tim’s full bio or his other posts on this blog.

Newsrooms Building Online Tools Skeptics Can Use

Posted on Feb. 09, 2015 by | Comments (4)
A modern newsroom in Berlin. By Thomas Schmidt (NetAction)  via Wikimedia Commons.

A modern newsroom in Berlin. By Thomas Schmidt (NetAction) via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve long advocated the construction of customized online tools (websites, apps and more) to advance the cause of skepticism.  In the last two years I’ve noticed a distinct trend where these tools are in being built in increasing numbers—but not just by skeptics! One major source of these tools might surprise you: the newspaper industry.


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Obituaries of Skepticism in 2014

Posted on Dec. 23, 2014 by | Comments (13)

The end of the year is a time for looking back, and that includes remembering who we have lost. For the last few years I’ve tried to do this for the skeptical community via blog posts and my segment on the Skepticality podcast. I also produce a visual presentation that is seen each year at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) in Las Vegas—this year’s was designed by Cheryl Hebert and INSIGHT blog editor Daniel Loxton.

Whenever I compile these lists, I try to include not only famous skeptics but also rank and file skeptics who have made contributions. I also attempt to include pseudoscientists and paranormalists of note, as well as others who have played a role in important incidents relevant to skepticism. Here are a few of the most notable, followed by a list of all the names I was able to find. (Please point out any omissions in the comments).


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A Skeptical Maxim (May) Turn 75 This Week

Posted on Nov. 04, 2014 by | Comments (6)

Six Possible Sources of the Quote“Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out” is a popular skeptic maxim because it summarizes key elements of skepticism in a pithy, humorous way. But who is the original source for this advice? Some attribute it to Carl Sagan, whose birthday is being celebrated this week as Carl Sagan Day in several locations. It turns out the phrase may in fact have a birthday this week—but that birthday has nothing to do with Sagan!

Tidbits from history like this are one of my skeptical interests. I indulge this interest by collecting dates for such things and posting them daily on social media. (You can find where to read them at the Skeptic History page on my blog). I’ve collected these dates over several years from all sorts of sources. As I find them, I add each one to my file for the next time that date rolls around.

Sometimes you can find anniversary dates for surprising things. For instance, did you know that the word “bunkum” (original root of the term “debunk”) is actually derived from a specific incident in the U.S. Congress?


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Challenging Psychics is Deadly Serious Business

Posted on Oct. 10, 2014 by | Comments (20)

UK-based Sally Morgan, known by her moniker “Psychic Sally,” has become embroiled this week in another dispute with skeptics. Earlier today an undercover video was released showing rather disturbing threats being made against a skeptic from people who apparently work for the psychic performer.

— “Right, so I’m gonna hit you in a minute, I’m gonna knock you out.”
— “I don’t want any trouble.”

The video is below, but first some background is in order. A skeptic named Mark Tilbrook has been handing out leaflets outside Ms. Morgan’s appearances as a form of skeptical activism since earlier this year. These leaflets offer some questions for attendees to consider to make “sure you are not tricked or misled into something that may not be real” along with some hyperlinks to skeptical resources online.

Ms. Morgan’s team took a dim view of this campaigning and have threatened Mr. Tilbrook with legal action, according to his account in The Guardian on Tuesday. He subsequently reached out to the Good Thinking Society, a skeptical UK non-profit run by Simon Singh for help. They are offering him legal assistance, but are also taking Tilbrook’s campaign to the next level, which I will also detail below.


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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.

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