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Fringe Claims: Unified by Neglect, Structural Similarity, and Direct Interconnection

Daniel Loxton considers some of the commonalities that unite the broad portfolio of fringe topics studied by scientific skepticism.

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The Complexity of Alien Abduction: the Multidisciplinary Nature of Fringe Claims

Daniel Loxton explains that skepticism attracts mixed groups of people with complementary expertise because fringe claims require a multidisciplinary approach.

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What the Fouke? The Beast of Boggy Creek

Lyle Blackburn is a musician, actor, and cryptid researcher who explores the US in search of creatures in swamplands and backwoods. He is the author of The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster and Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster. Lyle is a staff writer for the horror magazine Rue Morgue, he has been featured on Coast to Coast AM, and on numerous TV shows on Discovery, Animal Planet and more. Lyle joins us to discuss the history and impact of “the Boggy Creek Monster” on the small town of Fouke, Arkansas.

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Depending on who you listen to, aspartame is either a safe aid to weight loss and diabetes control or it is evil incarnate—a deadly poison that is devastating the health of consumers. In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. examines the claims and explains how we know that aspartame is safe for almost everyone. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 16.3 (2011). Read Harriet Hall’s bio at the end of this article.

Aspartame: Safe Sweetener or Perilous Poison?

by Harriet Hall, M.D.

Aspartame is a low calorie sugar substitute marketed under brand names such as Equal and NutraSweet. It is a combination of two amino acids: L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. It is available as individual packets for adding to foods and it is a component of many diet soft drinks and other reduced- calorie foods. Depending on who you listen to, it is either a safe aid to weight loss and diabetes control or it is evil incarnate, a deadly poison that is devastating the health of consumers. A reader sent me an ad from his local newspaper that recommended using Stevia instead of aspartame, and made these startling claims about aspartame:

Skeptic magazine 16.3 (Islam)

This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 16.3 (2011)
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  1. It is derived from the excrement of genetically modified E. coli bacteria.
  2. Upon ingestion, it breaks down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, formaldehyde, and formic acid.
  3. It accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA each year including seizures, migraines, dizzinesss, nausea, muscle spasms, weight gain, depression, fatigue, irritability, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety, tinnitus, schizophrenia and death.

Let’s look at those claims one by one […]

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