Skeptic » eSkeptic » July 21, 2006

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

The Psychic Lair, image by Daniel Loxton

William, one of Skeptic magazine’s website coders (and the Skeptic Society’s resident psychic), depicted above reading your mind right now in “The Psychic Lair” (digital image created by Daniel Loxton, Editor of Junior Skeptic magazine)

Strip Mall Psychics

In this week’s eSkeptic we have a little fun with the theme of psychics and the paranormal. Here, we link to an article by Amanda Mitchell on (an independent, weekly newspaper highlighting arts, entertainment and social justice). Find out if you’re cursed, learn how to get the best deal on a reading and hear a skeptic’s viewpoint on this “world of wisdom” as Michael Shermer recounts his experience with James Van Praagh as well as pretending to be a psychic for a day.

READ the article >

Séance for Skeptics
How to Talk to the Dead

Since the earliest days of the Skeptics Society my friend and colleague Mark Edward has been consulting us on how to explain psychics and mediums to the media and public. Mark should know; although he is not a psychic, he plays one on TV, and at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and even at Caltech for the Skeptics Society. It was Mark who first explained to me the methods of cold reading employed by psychics and mediums, and he was our resident psychic for the Fox Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown, on which he appeared several times, including conducting a séance (which he also once did at Caltech, on the occasion of the anniversary of Houdini’s death, in which the great magician appeared to make an appearance at that august institute of science). Now Mark is making available to non-magicians his book Sense and Séance, which I highly recommend. The information on the book follows… —Michael Shermer

Sense and Seance, cover

“A masterpiece … a collector’s item.”

Sense and Séance

What are the carefully hidden secrets of today’s psychics and mediums? If you have ever wanted to conduct a séance for fun or profit, now you can tap into little known methods from the past as well as access three fully-scripted portable séance productions from a book designed to teach anyone how to speak to the dead—or at least pretend to.

Sense and Séance is a signed and numbered hardbound limited edition of 500 copies that has received rave reviews from working magicians and mentalists around the world.

For full details on ordering this and other books and CDs on magic and mentalism, visit:

ORDER the book >

Why People Believe
Weird Things, cover

Why People Believe
Weird Things

Here is a link to a recent review of Michael Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird Things. The article, entitled Field Trips: Engaging a skeptic who considers me strange was written by Laura Marble and appeared on on July 5th, 2006.

The article is a well-written essay about a blogger’s first encounter with “skepticism,” in the form of my book Why People Believe Weird Things, and her reconfiguration of what it means to be skeptical — thoughtful inquiry, not dogmatic denial. Far too many people still equate skepticism with cynicism or mean-spirited disbelief, or skepticism for its own sake, which is certainly not how it is used in science. In science, skepticism is more of a verb than a noun, it is an approach to claims, not a position one holds. One can be skeptical of a claim, or skeptical of the skeptics of a claim. For example, I am skeptical of the Holocaust skeptics, the HIV-AIDS skeptics, the 9/11 skeptics, and the global warming skeptics; I suppose that makes me a “believer” in these claims, but “belief” is not a good word to employ when doing science. Scientists do not “believe” in facts of nature and history; these facts just are. We no more “believe in evolution” than we “believe in gravity.” Evolution and gravity simply are facts of nature. They exist whether we believe in them or not. —Michael Shermer

READ the review >

ORDER the book >

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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.

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 can you 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

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.

FREE PDF Download

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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