Skeptic » eSkeptic » August 26, 2009

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


a Chapter from War: History, Causes, and Solutions

War is a serious subject and serious consequences, and Dr. Michael Shermer treats it as such, bringing to bear on the topic all the tools of science and history to understand war’s history, causes, and solutions. In this free audio download of Lecture 1, Dr. Shermer introduces the course, defines what he means by war, what sorts of causes will be sought (proximate causes and ultimate causes), human nature and human culture and how they interact to cause conflict, and the ultimate consequences of war.
DOWNLOAD the sample MP3 (47MB)

Skepticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine
Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen

Columbine: True Horror
and American Myth

On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on American society when they carried out their plan to kill as many of their high school classmates as they could. The very word “Columbine” has come to represent a specific brand of unthinkable horror: when children make a calculated decision to murder their teachers and peers.

In the chaos and aftermath of that April day, legends and misinformation quickly proliferated. A great deal of what was reported about Columbine was simply not true. Author Dave Cullen has spent the last ten years of his journalistic career studying the lives of the residents of Littleton Colorado as they were before, during, and after this shattering event. Cullen’s seminal book on the subject, Columbine, delves deep into the psyches of the killers, the victims, and their families to set the record straight not only about what really happened on that fateful day, but why.

the Fall/Winter Season of Lectures at Caltech

Mark your calendar! The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its Fall/Winter season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. This continues the seventeen-year-long series, presenting over 200 lectures by some of the most distinguished experts in the world. Unless otherwise stated, all lectures take place in Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech. First up…

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer

Beyond Cosmic Dice
Moral Life in a Random World

with Dr. Jeff Schweitzer

Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Morality is our biological destiny. We each have within us the awesome power to create our own meaning in life, our own sense of purpose, our own destiny. With a natural ethic we are able to move beyond the random hand of birth to pave our own road to a better life. With the ability to choose to be good comes the obligation to make that choice; choosing to be moral is what makes us special as individuals and as a species. We are special if we choose to be, if we ourselves decide to use our big brains to manage wisely our relationships with one another and with our environment.

Dr. Schweitzer spent much of his youth underwater pursuing his lifelong fascination with marine life. He obtained his doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography through his neurobehavioral studies of sharks and rays. He has published in an eclectic range of fields, including neurobiology, marine science, international development, environmental protection and aviation, and he worked the White House as Assistant Director for International Science and Technology. Praise from Bill Maher: “This is the book that ties it all together — the problems that religion creates in solving our looming problems, and the unholy environmental mess we’re in. I’d say that someday we’re going to have to listen to this man, but the truth is, that day is NOW.”

followed by these lectures…
Alison Gopnik

The Philosophical Baby
What Children’s Minds Tell Us
About Truth, Love, and
the Meaning of Life

with Dr. Alison Gopnik

Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm
READ about this lecture

Stewart Brand

Whole Earth Discipline
An Ecopragmatist Manifesto

with Stewart Brand

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm
READ about this lecture

Carl Zimmer

The Tangled Bank
An Introduction to Evolution

with Carl Zimmer

Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm
READ about this lecture

Barbara Ehrenreich

Bright Sided
How the Relentless Promotion
of Positive Thinking has
Undermined America

with Barbara Ehrenreich

Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm
READ about this lecture

Donald Prothero

Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs
Evolution, Extinction, and the Future of Our Planet

with Dr. Donald Prothero

Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm
READ about this lecture

The latest additions to and

How to Talk to a UFOlogist (if you must)

Michael reviews Confessions of An Alien Hunter by Seth Shostak.
READ the blog post




  1. Paul Watson says:

    It is a shame these great lectures (and the Alliance Convention info) is not availabe to us hicks in the hinterland who love their guns and country but don’t carry a Bible.

  2. Ed Oleen says:

    It is also a shame – make that SHAME – that these lectures aren’t available to these non-hicks in the non-hinterland who don’t own guns and/or carry a bible but who happen to live on the other coast, albeit in a Big City (New York) and don’t have the budget to fly to CalTech at the drop of a hat, or idea, or whatever…

    Can’t they be recorded and put up on YouTube, or something….

  3. Chelsea says:

    I concur with Paul and Ed–I’d love to have access to these lectures. I would be willing to pay to be able to watch and listen to all of the convention lectures remotely.

  4. William says:

    Lectures at Caltech are available for purchase on DVD from our online store. You can see which ones are currently available by browsing our past lectures starting on page 3 with Stuart Koffman’s Reinventing the Sacred. Just look for the “BUY this lecture” link to order the DVD. The newer lectures will eventually be available on DVD.

    You can also browse our Lectures at Caltech by subject at Shop Skeptic.

  5. Bjørn Østman says:

    And it’s a shame that registration ($249) is so expensive that the students living close by Caltech cannot afford to go.

  6. GM Davis says:

    On Nov. 21, 2008, the Harris and Klebold parents were sent the same letter requesting cooperation. “Your stories have yet to be fully told, and I view your help as an issue of historical significance,” it said. “In 10 years, there have been no major, mainstream books on Columbine. This will be the first, and it may be the only one.” The letter came not from Mr. Cullen but from Jeff Kass, whose Columbine: A True Crime Story, published by the small Ghost Road Press, preceded Columbine by a couple of weeks.

    “Mr. Kass, whose tough account is made even sadder by the demise of The Rocky Mountain News in which his Columbine coverage appeared, has also delivered an intensive Columbine overview. Some of the issues he raises and information he digs up go unnoticed by Mr. Cullen.” –Janet Maslin, New York Times

    “A decade after the most dramatic school massacre in American history, Jeff Kass applies his considerable reporting talents to exploring the mystery of how two teens could have planned and carried out such gruesome acts without their own family and best friends knowing about it. Actually, there were important clues, but they were missed or downgraded both by those who knew the boys best and by public officials who came in contact with them. An engrossing and cautionary tale for everyone who cares about how to prevent kids from going bad.” —–Ted Gest, President, Criminal Justice Journalists

  7. DAG says:

    I wish you would have nothing to do with Bill Maher.
    He called the American Military Cowards.

Patreon: a new way to support the things skeptic creates

Get eSkeptic

Science in your inbox every Wednesday!

eSkeptic delivers great articles, videos, podcasts, reviews, event announcements, and more to your inbox once a week.

Sign me up!

Donate to Skeptic

Please support the work of the Skeptics Society. Make the world a more rational place and help us defend the role of science in society.

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.

Copyright © 1992–2018. All rights reserved. The Skeptics Society | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. Privacy Policy.