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SHERMER SPEAKS OUT

Torture Doesn’t Work

In this video, based on his column on the subject in Scientific American, Michael Shermer demonstrates why torture does not work as a method of extracting useful and actionable information, primarily because people being tortured will say anything to stop the pain, including confessing to crimes they didn’t commit (like witchcraft) and giving false information (where a terrorist attack may happen next). Instead, studies show that developing a rapport with the person under interrogation produces higher quality intelligence.

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SCIENCE SALON # 17

Dr. Kip Thorne — Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, Time Travel, and Hollywood

This amazing conversation between Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Kip Thorne (February 18, 2018) is now available for viewing (and listening, in audio format!).

Dr. Thorne reflects on his life and career in theoretical physics, his pursuit of the detection of the long-elusive gravitational waves through the LIGO detector, his relationship and bet with Stephen Hawking, how he came to consult on Carl Sagan’s Contact and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, his curious work on black holes, wormholes, and time travel, and what it’s like to go to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize.

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In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka The SkepDoc) examines many of the health benefit claims for juicing, and finds them lacking scientific scrutiny. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.3 (2017). Buy this issue.

Juicing for Health or Torture

We are ingenious at finding new ways to complicate our lives and torture ourselves. One of those ways is adopting fad diets in the quest for health. Juicing is a big fad today. I find that hard to comprehend. I recently endured two interminable months on a liquid/pureed diet while my fractured jaw healed. It was miserable. If I were a prisoner being interrogated, the promise of solid food might have tempted me to tell all. It was hard to maintain a nutritious diet and find foods that could survive being blenderized and still tempt the appetite. The only “health benefit” was the loss of a few pounds that I really didn’t need to lose; it brought me down to a BMI of 18.8, close to the “underweight” range of 18.5 or less. Since that experience, I cherish the pleasures of being able to chew. We have teeth for a reason. The idea of systematically taking delicious solid fruits and vegetables and reducing them to liquid strikes me as a truly revolting idea. I don’t object to the occasional fruit juice, but celery without the crunch? No thank you.

Health Claims for Juicing: Detoxification

People juice for various reasons. One is “detoxification,” a buzzword that is a red flag for pseudoscience. My liver and kidneys do an excellent job of removing toxins from my body, thank you very much. They don’t need any help, except in the case of acute poisoning with lead or other heavy metals. And juices are useless in acute poisoning. Several companies will sell you juices for detoxification. Some examples:

Juice Served Here tells us “everyday life contributes to the congestion and buildup of harmful toxins in the body from processed foods, pollutants and stress.” They offer a Soft Cleanse, a Semi Cleanse, and a Hard Cleanse: 25% off; originally $55 a day! When a customer asked Juice Served Here to specify the toxins he’d be flushing from his system, the company answered with this lame copout: “Unfortunately, due to regulations by the FDA we are unable to specify exact health claims for our products.” Naturally.

Paleta offers a PURIFY Cleanse that will “cleanse the toxins right out of your system so you can experience a more joyful and healthful life.” Benefits? Lose weight, kick the caffeine habit, reduce or stop smoking, detoxify your liver, boost your metabolism, refresh your mind and body, curb sugar cravings, increase energy and stamina, improve skin, hair and nails, sharpen cognition and focus, reduce sensitivity to allergens, and improve moods. The full 10-day program costs $645. Gee, if it really could do all that, it might be worth that much.

Moon Juice offers “plant-sourced alchemy to nourish and elevate body, beauty and consciousness… Juice cleansing enables the body to naturally go into detox mode while flooding it with live nutrients and enzymes… Some signs that it is time to cleanse are: a weakened immune system, troubled skin, allergies, low moods or anger, sleeplessness, poor digestion, weight gain, low energy, feeling and looking blah.” (I can relate to feeling blah, but I’m not sure I understand “troubled” skin.) They offer Rainbow, Indigo, and Green cleanses that they claim will “flood your system over the course of the day with over 20 pounds of certified organic, raw produce and nuts or seeds. The only thing missing is the fiber.”

Pure Pressed offers Green Cleanse, Detox Cleanse, and Energizer Cleanse.

That’s enough examples. You get the idea. […]

Read the full article

MONSTERTALK EPISODE 150

Magic: Spiritualism and Theosophy, Part II

In this episode of MonsterTalk, we continue our discussion about Western Esotericism with John L. Crow. In part two, we talk about the origins of Theosophy, the nature of secret and occult societies in this era, and the groundwork that led to the rise of magical orders in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Theosophy figures into the modern Western conception of Tulpas, which we discussed in episode 86, and also Slenderman.

Listen to episode 150

Read the episode notes

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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.

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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…

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!

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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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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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