A new documentary film opens this weekend titled Merchants of Doubt, about the nature of pseudo-skepticism and climate denial and the link to the tobacco industry, featuring Skeptic publisher Michael Shermer and magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, among others. In addition to the many climate deniers and their industrial lobbyists featured and interviewed in the film, Jamy Ian Swiss plays a key role in demonstrating, through card magic, how easy it is to be deceived and how, through his principle “once revealed, never concealed,” the exposure of the tricks employed by industrial lobbyists to deny science means that they cannot use them again (just like knowing the secret behind a magic trick makes it hard to be fooled again). Forewarned is forearmed. Michael Shermer is featured as a one-time climate skeptic, who flipped his position (famously in the pages of Scientific American) after reading the primary scientific literature on the subject. One of the more entertaining moments in the film is when a camera crew follows Shermer around FreedomFest in Las Vegas, a libertarian gathering where conspiracy theories about global warming abound, including a debate he participated in with a climate denier that was most colorful. Watch the trailer below, and find links to reviews and a list of theaters where you can see the film.
It’s easy to identify history’s evil geniuses—the Hitlers and Stalins—but who are the moral geniuses among us? And what does it take to be one? How can science and religion help us do great work in the world—and stop us from using our singular human intelligence for ill? Get to the very heart of right and wrong when Professor Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine and author of The Moral Arc, joins in conversation with Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, founding director of Sinai and Synapses. MORE INFO
COUNTER REFUTATION Shermer responds to book reviews
The initial reviews of The Moral Arc are in and the author has completed his U.S. book tour, and in this article Michael Shermer replies to the criticisms and commentaries thus far leveled against his thesis that we are living in the most moral time in our species history and that one of the primary drivers bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice is science and reason. You will be astounded to learn that not only religious people, but some scientists and secularists themselves object to using science and reason to determine human values. Shermer challenges them to explain what they use, if not their rational brains, to solve moral issues!
Get the MonsterTalk Podcast App (presented by Skeptic Magazine) and enjoy the science show about monsters on your handheld devices! Available for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 devices. Subscribe to MonsterTalk for free on iTunes. Follow the RSS feed.
EPISODE 95 El D20ablo — The Satanic Panic & Role-Playing Games
The late 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of a new kind of game. Dungeons & Dragons and its many competitors captivated many high-school and college students, but many parents and authority figures feared that these new games were a gateway to Satanic ritual and perhaps even murder. Author Joseph Laycock returns to discuss his new book: Dangerous Games.
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.
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. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.
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…