The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


It’s Real and Human Caused…Still!

Michael Shermer debunks skeptics of anthropogenic global warming using graphs of things both natural and industrial (from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) to see what effect they have had on global temperatures over time. What is really warming the world? Earth’s orbit changes, the sun, volcanoes, deforestation, ozone pollution, aerosol pollution? NO. It really is greenhouse gases!

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Michael Shermer on Alternative Facts

What do you call alternative facts with evidence? You call them facts! Michael Shermer reminds us that the fight against science denialism (i.e. climate change denial, Holocaust denial, denial of evolution, vaccine efficacy denial) and alternative facts is ongoing and that we must always be vigilant and continue the march for science. He reminds us that our religious and political worldviews bias us against evidence that counters our deeply held beliefs.

This Moment is from Science Salon # 11, with Andrew Shtulman: Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong, which you can watch for free online.

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“Doctors Left Stumped as Bizarre Hallucination-causing Illness Seemingly Spread by Touch.”

In this week’s eSkeptic, medical sociologist Dr. Robert E. Bartholomew, examines a “baffling epidemic of hallucinations” that was reported to have broken out in Oregon in October of 2016. Was it an outbreak of mass suggestion, or simply an surge of shoddy journalism?

An Outbreak of Mass Hallucinations and Shoddy Journalism: Why We Need Skepticism More Than Ever

by Robert E. Bartholomew

When a mysterious epidemic of hallucinations was reported to have broken out in Oregon in October of 2016, media outlets around the world portrayed the story as a baffling medical mystery. There’s only one problem: it never happened. The case of the hallucinating Oregonians serves as a stark reminder of the threat posed by an uncritical media, and the need for skepticism and critical thinking.

“Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.” —W. S. Gilbert

Skeptic 22.1 (cover)

This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.1 (2017)
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During the early morning hours of Wednesday October 12th, 2016, an extraordinary story began unfolding in the community of North Bend, a small picturesque suburb of Coos Bay nestled along the Pacific Ocean in southwest Oregon. At about 3 am, police responded to a 9-1-1 call of vandalism. The complainant was a 57-year-old woman who was a live-in caregiver for an elderly resident. The caller claimed that several people were trying to remove the roof of her car. When police arrived, they could find no evidence of any crime and soon left. Two and a half hours later, the same woman again called to report that the vandals were back and trying to remove her car roof. Once again police rushed to the scene but could find nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the responding deputies, Doug Miller and David Blalack, could find no evidence that any crime had been committed. Given the unusual nature of her claims, police grew suspicious that the woman may have hallucinated the episodes. She was taken to the nearby Coos Bay Area Hospital where she was examined by medical personnel, “appeared fine, and returned home.”1 […]

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England’s Most Haunted Village

Is the little village of Pluckley truly the most haunted village in England? We interview skeptical ghost hunter Hayley Stevens (The Spooktater) about the curious little town more famous for its dead than its living.

St. Nicholas Church, Pluckley (photo by Stephen Nunney [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the many haunted buildings in Pluckley — St. Nicholas Church — is said to be haunted by two ghosts of the same woman who died in the 1100s (or at least the ghosts appear to be the same person) who have come to be known as the “White Lady Dering” and the “Red Lady Dering.” (photo by Stephen Nunney [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

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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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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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!

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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.

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