The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

eSkeptic Archives 2006–2010

2010

December 29th: Pseudo-Psychotherapy: UFOs, Cloudbusters, Conspiracies, and Paranoia in Wilhelm Reich’s Pyschotherapy

Richard Morrock discusses psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s development of pseudoscientific psychotherapy, sensational claims and extreme theories. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine, volume 2, number 3 (1994). This is a follow-up article to Epigones of Orgonomy, which appeared two weeks ago in eSkeptic.

December 22nd: The Trial of the (New) Century: Dover and the 5th Anniversary of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

On November 4, 2005, the first ever Evolution-Intelligent Design trial of the 21st century drew to a close in Federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District. On December 20th, 2005, a judgement was made against the teaching of Intelligent Design. (We reported on that important decision in eSkeptic that day.) In this week’s eSkeptic, two days after the fifth anniversary of that judgment, Andrew Williams discusses some of the details from the trial as well as the current state of affairs in the ongoing creationism-evolution debate.

December 15th: Epigones of Orgonomy: The Incredible History of Wilhelm Reich and his Followers

In this week’s eSkeptic, Joel Carlinsky recounts psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s developement of pseudoscientific psychotherapy, sensational claims and extreme theories and their effect on the scientific world. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine volume 2, number 3 in 1994.

December 8th: Cell Phones and Cancer

Ever since the publication of physicist Dr. Bernard Leikind’s article in Skeptic (see eSkeptic for June 9, 2010) and Michael Shermer’s subsequent column in Scientific American in which I cited Leikind’s arguments (both of which were skeptical of claims that cell phone use causes brain cancer), we have been inundated with letters disputing our skepticism. The letters come in a variety of flavors, so what follows are Dr. Leikind’s responses to the critics that he identifies by their email names. As well, the SkepDoc Harriet Hall, M.D. chimes in along with oncologist Dr. David Gorski (both of whom blog at ScienceBasedMedicine.org which covers the ongoing controversy over cell phones and cancer).

December 1st: Inevitable Humans? Or Hidden Agendas?

In this critical review of paleontologist Simon Conway Morris’s book Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, paleontologist Dr. Donald Prothero deconstructs the myth of progress and evolution. Morris argues that convergent evolution means certain features will inevitably arise in nature such as eyes and ears, limbs and brains, and therefore these solutions become unavoidable and thus predictable. This book review appeared in Skeptic magazine volume 10, number 3 in 2003.

November 24th: Skeptic 5-day sale

Save 25% off everything in our store from November 24–28, 2010. Sale ends at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

November 17th: The “Emily Event”: Emily Rosa and the Therapeutic Touch Wars

In 1998, at eleven years of age, a young girl named Emily Rosa published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Emily had conceived and executed an experiment that challenged the basis of one of the most accepted “alternative” healing procedures known: Therapeutic Touch (TT). She became the youngest person ever to have a research paper published in a peer reviewed medical journal. In this week’s feature article, Larry Sarner (chairman of the National Therapeutic Touch Study Group) discusses Emily Rosa’s investigation.

November 10th: We the People? Jerry Brown on Money, Politics, and Who Really Runs America

The election of Jerry Brown as the Governor of California in 2010 reminded us that back in 1996 Skeptic magazine (vol. 4, no. 3) Senior Editor Frank Miele conducted an in-depth interview with Brown, who was in between political positions and thus willing to speak quite frankly and openly about “money, politics, and who really runs America” (as the subtitle of the article states). Given the fact that Jerry Brown was Governor of California for two terms, ran for Senate in 1982 (where he lost to California Governor Pete Wilson), and ran for President twice (even giving Bill Clinton a run for his money), there are few people more qualified by experience to speak skeptically about American politics. With the mid-term elections still fresh on our minds, enjoy this candid and skeptical look into the inner workings of a modern democracy.

November 3rd: Realism & Religion: Examining the Basis for Belief

Physicist Milton Rothman examines the relationship between science and religion and the extent to which a scientist should apply his belief in realism to all aspects of our knowledge of the universe. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine vol. 2, no. 2 (1993).

October 27th: Darwin’s Dangerous Disciple

Frank Miele interviews Richard Dawkins on the triumphs, limitations, uses and abuses of Darwinism. This interview was first published in the sold out issue of Skeptic magazine volume 3, number 4 (1995).

October 20th: The End of the World & the New World Order

We present an excerpt from Tim Callahan’s book Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? (1997). The book covers all the major biblical prophecies (especially those concerned with the end times) and examines the paranoid style of conspiratorial thinking that has lead to a cornucopia of theories about who is really running the world, determining the fate of nations, establishing the power of economies and everything from assassinating world leaders to controlling Snapple. In this excerpt from the final chapter of his book, Callahan links biblical prophecies of the end times (the “mark of the beast” and all that) with modern global conspiracy theories that involve black helicopters, Hong Kong Gurkhas, militia, and the so-called “New World Order” which are supposed to signal that the end is nigh. (This excerpt can also be found in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 3 from 1996.)

October 13th: What Ever Happened to n-Rays?

We present the third in a series of classic historical pieces in skeptical and pseudoscience literature. Last week we presented William Jennings Bryan’s never-delivered Address to the Jury in the Scopes Case. A couple weeks before that, we republished Benjamin Franklin’s and Antoine Lavoisier’s investigation of Mesmerism for King Louis XVI of France. And, this week, we present Robert W. Wood’s famous letter that blew apart the chimerical search for n-rays, with an introduction by psychologist and skeptical investigator Terence Hines. A classic from skeptical history, this letter first appeared in Nature in 1904, republished here and in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 4.

October 6th: Mr. Bryan’s Address to the Jury in the Scopes’ Case:
The Speech Which Was Never Delivered

William Jennings Bryan’s last speech (never delivered) for the Scopes’ Monkey Trial in 1925 was reprinted the next year as a pamphlet: a tool for believers to combat what they perceived to be a cultural threat — the theory of evolution. He deemed it “the most powerful argument against evolution ever made.” In this week’s eSkeptic, we present the speech which we also printed in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 2 in 1996.

September 29th: Living within Limits & Limits on Living

In this week’s eSkeptic, Frank Miele interviews ecologist and social activist Garrett Hardin (1915–2003) about his views on the economy, abortion, overpopulation and assisted suicide. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 2 in 1996.

September 22nd: Testing the Claims of Mesmerism

In this week’s eSkeptic, we present the first-ever, 18th-century, scientific investigation of an extraordinary claim — mesmerism — commissioned by King Louis XVI of France, designed and conducted by scientific luminaries Benjamin Franklin, Antoine Lavoisier and others, translated by Charles and Danielle Salas, with an introduction by Michael Shermer about its importance in the history of skepticism.

Gould called the report “an enduring testimony to the power and beauty of reason,” a “key document in the history of human reason,” and said that “it should be rescued from its current obscurity, translated into all languages, and reprinted by organizations dedicated to the unmasking of quackery and the defense of rational thought.” Well, here it is, from the archives of Skeptic magazine volume 4 number 3.

September 15th: The Mattoon Phantom Gasser
What really happened in Mattoon, Illinois in September, 1944? In this week’s eSkeptic, we present an article culled from a 1994 issue of Skeptic magazine (volume 3, number 1) which marked the 50th Anniversary of the Mattoon Phantom Gassing. In one of the most poignant examples of social influence and mass hysteria in history, the story of the Phantom gasser of Mattoon Illinois reveals what happens when people come to believe something for which there is no proof.
September 8th: The Origin of Superstition, Magical Thinking, and Paranormal Beliefs
We present an article from the archives of Skeptic magazine, volume 13, number 1 in which Marjaana Lindeman & Kia Aarnio offer a new and integrative model that aims to explain superstition, magical thinking, and paranormal beliefs.
September 1st: The Top Ten Myths of Popular Psychology
We present an excerpt from 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Nature, by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). This excerpt appears in the sold out issue of Skeptic magazine volume 15, number 3 and has been published by permission of the publisher and authors.
August 25th: Wiccans v. Creationists: An Empirical Study
Raymond A. Eve discusses an empirical study of the difference between the beliefs of wiccans versus those of creationists.
August 18th: A Cornucopia of Darwinian Gems
Dr. Donald. R Prothero reviews Darwin’s Universe: Evolution from A to Z by Richard Milner.
August 11th: Broadcasting from the Great Beyond
Donna Harris reviews Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, by Pim van Lommel. Donna Harris is a skeptic and the editor of the Manitoba Humanist newsletter.
August 4th: Distorting Darwin
Jonathan Lowe reviews the film Darwin: The Voyage that Shook the World, produced by Creation Ministries International and Fathom Media, 2009.
July 28th: Was Hypatia of Alexandria a Scientist?
S. James Killings reviews the film AGORA, distributed by Focus Features, produced by Fernando Bovaira and Álvaro Augustin, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil, starring Rachel Weisz.
July 21st: Waterworld
James N. Gardner reviews The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps, by Peter D. Ward.
July 14th: How Much Does Being Right Matter?
Dr. David H. Voelker reviews Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us — And How to Know When Not to Trust Them, by David H. Freedman.
July 7th: If you don’t understand evolutionary biology,
don’t write a book about it!
Dr. Donald R. Prothero reviews What Darwin Got Wrong, by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini.
June 30th: Macroevolution & Microcreationism
We present David Eller’s article from the archives of Skeptic magazine Volume 10, Number 3 in which he argues that Intelligent Design Creationism’s concept of microcreation fails to strengthen the case for macrocreation nor weaken the case for macroevolution.
June 23rd: Hamlet Revisited: How Evolution Really Works
We present William Stansfield’s article from the archives of Skeptic magazine Volume 10, Number 4 in which he critiques the typing monkeys metaphor generated by Richard Hardison and Richard Dawkins as being too unlike the biological realities of natural selection.
June 16th: Flashbulb Memories
We present Daniel Greenburg’s article from the archives of Skeptic magazine Volume 11, Number 3 in which he discusses how psychological research shows that our most powerful memories may be untrustworthy.
June 9th: Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
We present the shortened, non-technical companion essay to physicist Bernard Leikind’s article of the same title that appears in the printed edition of Skeptic magazine Vol. 15, no. 4. Leikind describes what all physicists know to be true about what happens when human tissue absorbs microwave radiation from cell phones.
June 2nd: Science in the Spirit of Mythbusters
Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) reviews The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists by Sean Connelly.
May 26th: Martin Gardner 1914–2010
In light of the death of Martin Gardner (1914–2010) we present an interview between Martin Gardner and Michael Shermer that appeared in Skeptic magazine Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997). Also, in response to last week’s feature article in eSkeptic, author Frank S. Robinson responds to Victoria Bekiempis’ review of his book The Case for Rational Optimism.
May 19th: Optimism v. Realism
Victoria Bekiempis reviews The Case for Rational Optimism by Frank S. Robinson.
May 12th: Meaning-Making Neurons
Dr. Michael Shermer’s reviews The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard. This review appeared in Science magazine (May 7, 2010, Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 693–694).
May 5th: Golden Fleeced: The Misuse of the Argonaut Myth in Robert Temple’s Sirius Mystery
Robert Temple is lauded and often cited by the New Age and alternative archaeology movements for his excellent scholarship and broad understanding of mythology and ancient history. In this week’s eSkeptic, Jason Colavito explores Temple‘s use of the Greek myth of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece to see if it stands up to scrutiny.
April 28th: Motorcycle Maintenance Without the Zen
Chris Edwards provides some much-need maintenance on the fallacious reasoning found in Robert Persig’s ever-popular Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
April 21st: The Remarkable Story of Professor Antony Flew 1923–2010
On April 8, 2010, the British philosopher Antony Flew (one of the world’s most outspoken and prominent atheists) passed away after a long life in academic philosophy. Flew changed his mind in the closing years of his life, apparently impressed by the arguments from Intelligent Design creationists. In this week’s eSkeptic, we present an article by Kenneth Grubbs, which was written before Antony Flew died and aims to get at the truth of his conversion.
April 14th: The Good News … Again?
Kenneth Grubbs reviews The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller. Kenneth Grubbs is a long-time skeptic and freelance writer living with his family in Southeast Michigan.
April 7th: The Tea Leaves of Sports Talk
Andrew Bernardin discusses the tendency to find meaning in random patterns. in particular, he discusses sports talk notions such as the “hot hand” and being “in the zone.” Bernardin endeavors to deconstruct the zone and plunge the hot hand in a bucket of ice water. Skeptic magazine, volume 11, number 2.
March 31st: Homeopathy: A Position Statement by the NCAHF
Culled from the archives of Skeptic magazine Volume 3, Number 1: Pseudomedicine, we reprint the position statement on homeopathy of the National Council Against Health Fraud. More than 15 years since its publication homeopathics are still widely available, reminding skeptics that our jobs are never done.
March 24th: The Ten Percent Solution: Anatomy of an Education Myth
Dr. Jeremy E.C. Genovese examines an educational urban legend that suggests a willingness to accept assertions about instructional strategies without empirical support. This article appeared in a SOLD OUT issue of Skeptic magazine Volume 10 Number 4 (2004).
March 17th: Is There Not Grandeur in this View?
Kenneth Grubbs reviews The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins as well as and The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Kenneth Grubbs is a freelance writer living in Michigan.
March 10th: The Place of Science
Massimo Pigliucci examines the alleged parallels that religious scholar, Huston Smith, draws between science and religion.
March 3rd: Is Baked Alaska Half-Baked?
David Naiditch looks at why Alaska’s High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is such an attractive target for conspiracy theorists.
February 24th: The Mythbusters of Psychology
Dr Harriet Hall, MD, (aka the Skepdoc) reviews 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein.
February 17th: Superfreakonomics
P.J. Rooks reviews SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
February 10th: Animal Prognosticators
William D. Stansfield asks whether groundhogs and swallows are really able to predict the arrival of spring as accurately as reported in the popular press. Stansfield is Emeritus Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at the California Polytechnic State University.
February 3rd: Why Do Women Have Sex? Here’s Why.
Victoria Bekiempis reviews Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between) by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss.
January 27th: The View from Nowhere or Somewhere?
Maia Caron reviews 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.
January 20th: Announcing the New Season of Lectures at Caltech
Mark your calendar! The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its new season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech with lectures by: Rebecca Goldstein, Jared Diamond, Deepak Chopra, Sam Harris, Jean Houston, Leonard Mlodinow, David Goodstein, Roger Farmer, Mark Moffett and John Long.
January 13th: Legends of the Dogon: Mystery Resurfaces
Could a remote African people have gained esoteric knowledge about the sky without having telescopes? Were aliens, lost technology or something else entirely involved? In this week’s eSkeptic, Liam McDaid examines these claims.
January 6th: Pseudoscience in Consumer Audio Engineering
Ethan Winer (an audio engineer, musician, and skeptic), reveals that the worlds of audio engineering and consumer electronics are filled with pseudoscience.

2009

December 30th: Why Skeptics Should Embrace the Supernatural on TV
Do depictions of the supernatural on television and in movies lead to belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal? Or, is there something more subtle happening within these shows that we should pay attention to? In this week’s eSkeptic, Jason Colavito tells us why skeptics should embrace the supernatural on television.
December 23rd: The Case Against Ball Lightning
Steuart Campbell discusses the evidence (or lack thereof) of the phenomenon known as ball lightning.
December 16th: How Derek Freeman Fooled Us All
In this week’s eSkeptic we present an excerpt from The Trashing of Margaret Mead: Anatomy of an Anthropological Controversy by Paul Shankman.
December 9th: God is Love
P.J. Rooks reviews Robert Wright’s book The Evolution of God and Shop Skeptic has 15% off all Lectures at Caltech for a limited time.
December 2nd: A Death Valley Adventure
In this week’s eclectic eSkeptic we announce a Death Valley Adventure (our next geology tour), two super deals at Shop Skeptic, and a new feature for telling a friend you want a subscription to Skeptic magazine for Christmas!
November 25th: Skeptic Five-Day Sale
Spread a little skeptic cheer this year! Now thru Sunday, you can save 25% off everything in our store, including subscriptions! Sale ends November 29, 2009 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.
November 18th: Teaching by Doing
Clark Lindgren recounts the birth of Bio 150 — An Introduction to Biological Inquiry. By turning the curriculum on its head, the Biology Department at Grinnell College has created opportunities for students to perform actual scientific research from the get-go. Results suggest that students are getting just what they need to confirm their interest in biology and get an early start developing their skills as young scientists.
November 11th: Will Physicists Destroy the World?
Lloyd B. Lueptow asserts that the Large Hadron Collider experiments should be delayed or stopped while the risk/cost-benefit equation is sorted out in debates the public can comprehend. In the rebuttal to this piece, Lawrence Krauss asserts that to cease performing experiments whose results we are not certain about beforehand is a recipe for ending scientific discovery.
November 4th: Celebrating Carl Sagan
Few celebrities in science have done more for the promotion of science, reason, rationality, and critical thinking than Carl Sagan, whom we remember this week upon the impending occasion of his birthday on November 9. Carl would have been 75 years old. Happy Birthday Carl!
October 28th: Skeptic welcomes new podcast: MonsterTalk
Just in time for Halloween, we’re proud to welcome MonsterTalk to the growing Skeptic media family. Dedicated to focussed critical examination of cryptozoological mysteries, this second audio talk show presented by Skeptic magazine is a natural complement to Skepticality (our flagship general interest skeptical program). Plus, we present an article from an early Halloween issue of Junior Skeptic describing how to make your very own alien autopsy cake.
October 26th: Farewell to Norman Jay Levitt (1943–2009)
It is with much sadness that we report the death of Norman Jay Levitt who died of heart failure on Saturday, October 23, 2009. In this special eSkeptic, in tribute to one of the finest writers ever to grace the pages of Skeptic magazine, we present Norman Levitt’s review of Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara.
October 21st: Fatal Adjustments — How Chiropractic Kills
J. D. Haines, MD reminds us that chiropractic is a dangerous threat to public health and remains a holdover from the days of the snake oil salesmen.
October 14th: Science & Morality
Dr Harriet Hall, MD, (aka the Skepdoc) reviews Render Unto Darwin: Philosophical Aspects of the Christian Right’s Crusade against Science, by James H. Fetzer.
October 7th: Drowning Toads by 20-something Naturalists
Darryl E. Brock reviews Darwin Slept Here: Discovery, Adventure, and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin’s South America, by Eric Simons.
September 30th: Paranormal Wall Street
Karen Stollznow wonders whether psychics are cashing in on the current economic climate.
September 23rd: Swine Flu Vaccine Fearmongering
Dr Harriet Hall, MD, (aka the Skepdoc) explains why fearmongering about the swine flu vaccine is both wrong and dangerous.
September 16th: A Tale of Two Sci-Fi Conventions
Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton reports from Dragon*Con 2009 in Atlanta, where he spoke last week as a guest of the giant science fiction convention’s Skeptrack.
September 9th: LogiComix: An Epic Search for Truth
David Cowan reviews Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, a graphic novel about the life and ideas of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou.
September 2nd: Criminal Injustice
We bring you a very controversial article on the criminal justice system by investigative journalist Steve Salerno, who previously debunked the self-esteem and self-help movements for Skeptic.
August 26th: War, Columbine, UFOs…
Download a free chapter of War: History, Causes & Solutions from Michael Shermer’s lectures at Glendale College in 1996; hear Dave Cullen on Skepticality delve deep into the psyches of the killers, the victims, and their families of the Columbine massacre; read Michael Shermer’s SkepticBlog post on how to talk to UFOlogists (if you must).
August 19th: An Empirical Analysis of a Supernatural Claim
Gary J. Whittenberger investigates whether the prayer of Georgia State Governor Sonny Perdue correlates to an increase in precipitation and how likely it was to have actually caused the increase.
August 12th: Philosophers, Creationists & Serious Brainiacs
Glenn Branch reviews But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy. (Updated edition, edited by Robert T. Pennock and Michael Ruse).
August 8th: The Gullible Instructing the Gullible
Michael E. O’Reilly reviews Stephen Greenspan’s Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid it.
July 29th: Epic Creatures, Remarkable Species
James N. Gardner reviews Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species by Sean B. Carroll. James N. Gardner is an Oregon attorney and the author, most recently, of The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos.
July 22nd: Fix Wikipedia
Daniel Loxton, Editor of Junior Skeptic (and the organizer behind What Do I Do Next? 105 Practical Ways to Promote Skepticism and Advance Science) addresses the importance of Wikipedia. Find out how grassroots skeptics can help ensure that Wikipedia is a science-based public resource.
July 15th: Complexity Redux
James N. Gardner reviews Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell.
July 8th: Linked: How Everything is Connected
Andrew Shaindlin reviews Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.
July 1st: Robert Richard responds to Daniel Gasman
Robert Richard responds to Daniel Gasman’s review of The Tragic Sense of Life which ran in eSkeptic (June 10th, 2009). Robert J. Richards is a Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science at the University of Chicago.
June 24th: Help Skeptic at No Cost to You!
Do you shop at Amazon.com? What if there were a way for the Skeptics Society to make a commission off every Amazon purchase you make — all without costing you a penny? There is, and it’s easy…
June 17th: The Emergence of God
Darren Iammarino reviews Adventures in the Spirit: God, World, Divine Action, by Philip Clayton. Darren Iammarino is a Ph.D. candidate in his final semester of coursework at Claremont Graduate University. He is currently working on his own constructive theology known as Cosmosyntheism.
June 10th: From Haeckel to Hitler: The Anatomy of a Controversy
In the documentary film Expelled, Ben Stein attempted to link Darwin to Hitler and thereby condemn the scientific theory of evolution by association with the political theory of National Socialism. The film failed, but was there a historical connection between the social Darwinists of the 19th century with the National Socialists of the 20th century? Yes, through the personage of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; but a new biography claims to rehabilitate Haeckel by disconnecting him from German social Darwinism. Historian of science Daniel Gasman disputes this new Haeckel biography and in the process demonstrates how the Nazis used social Darwinism to justify their racial policies.
June 3rd: Vaccines & Autism: A Deadly Manufactroversy
In 2007 Skeptic magazine ran an article debunking the myth of the connection between vaccines and autism, and we were hoping that by now this sad tale of pseudoscience would have died a slow death as researchers continue to find no link whatsoever between the two. Sadly that is not the case. In fact, thanks to Playboy model Jenny McCarthy, mother of an autistic child, the myth has gained cultural traction as never before, as she and her partner, the comedian Jim Carrey, make the media rounds and appeal to the heart strings of the public, burying the science in a tsunami of emotion. So we return again to the topic with our SkepDoc, Harriet Hall, M.D., demolishing the myth once and for all.
May 27th: Optimism is Good for Your Brain
In our latest issue of Skeptic magazine (Vol. 14, No. 4), we published a skeptical analysis of the self-esteem and positive-thinking movement by investigative journalist Steve Salerno (which also appeared this eSkeptic), demonstrating that it is not enough to just say positive things, you actually have to do positive things. In response, Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Newberg have written the following critique of Salerno’s critique, arguing that there is evidence for how thoughts influence actions. Steve Salerno’s responds.
May 20th: The Placebo Effect
So much has been written and said about the placebo effect that we thought we should put our SkepDoc on the trail of finding out what is fact and what is myth about placebos and their effects. You will be surprised by some of Dr. Hall’s findings.
May 13th: Why Gay Marriage Does Not Decrease Straight Marriage
In the midst of the gay marriage controversy sweeping across the nation (as individual states are changing their constitutional minds about what constitutes marriage), we present an interesting article by Barrett Brown that demolishes the silly notion proffered by some conservatives that gay marriage decreases straight marriage rates.
May 6th: New Features Added to eSkeptic
Beginning this week, you can share your thoughts using the new comment field at the end of every eSkeptic. PLUS, you can share eSkeptic with friends and family using the SHARE button that appears at the top and bottom of each issue.
April 29th: The Evolution of God
Robert Wright, the author of Nonzero and The Moral Animal has been added as a new lecturer in June as part of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. He will discuss ideas from his latest book The Evolution of God.
April 22nd: Sensed Presences in Extreme Contexts
James Allan Cheyne reviews The Third Man Factor: The Secret of Survival in Extreme Environments, by John Geiger.
April 15th: Myths & Mistakes of the Positive Thinking Movement
Investigative journalist Steve Salerno reveals what the science says about the positive thinking and self-esteem movement, and it isn’t very positive and will not raise the self-esteem of all those self-help gurus who have been telling us for decades that we just need to think more positively about life to make things better.
April 8th: Confessions of an Alien Hunter
Why do we think aliens are out there? Is Earth really being visited? Will aliens really be short, gray, and hairless? What happens if we pick up a signal from another world? These are just a few of the questions this week’s guest tackles regularly, in his role as the senior astronomer for the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute. Dr. Seth Shostak talks with Swoopy about the ongoing search for life in the universe, as chronicled in his new book Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
April 1st: How We Staged the Morristown UFO Hoax
We reveal the behind the scenes workings of that UFO hoax that captured headlines earlier this year. People in and around the Morristown, New Jersey area saw unidentified flying objects, with many of them naturally assuming that these UFOs represented extraterrestrial space craft. As you shall see, there was a rather more terrestrial explanation. In fact, they were helium balloons with flares attached to them, lofted into the sky by Chris Russo and Joe Rudy, in their social experiment on how to create your own media event surrounding UFO sightings.
March 25th: What Do I Do Next?
Skepticality and Skeptic.com are pleased to release “What Do I Do Next?: Leading Skeptics Discuss 105 Practical Ways to Promote Science and Advance Skepticism.” — the follow-up project to last year’s essay entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?”, which called for renewed focus on classical skeptical activism.
March 18th: A Skeptic in Creation Land
Michael Shermer visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, run by Answers in Genesis, and interviewed Dr. Georgia Purdom, the museum’s “research scientist” who explained what type of research one can do at a young-earth creationist organization, and why she thinks Francis Collins is wrong in his evolutionary understanding of the human genome.
March 11th: 27 Ways to Honor Charles Darwin
As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, the Skeptics Society put together a list of 27 items from our catalogue to help you honor the Sage of Down with books, DVDs, CDs, and back issues of Skeptic magazine devoted to Darwin and evolution.
March 4th: “Reasons to Believe” … or Not
Gary J. Whittenberger shares his analysis of the debate between Michael Shermer and Hugh Ross/Fazale Rana, on whether or not creationism can be a testable science.
February 25th: The Greatest Story Ever Garbled
Tim Callahan critiques the movie Zeitgeist — The Greatest Story Ever Told.
February 18th: A Skeptic Goes Inside Noah’s Ark
Michael Shermer goes into the belly of the beast for creationists — Noah’s Ark — during his lecture tour of England during the Darwin celebrations the first two weeks of February, taking in Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, a zoo dedicated to teaching the school children of England that the biblical story of creation is supported by science, or at least the science according to the zoo’s curator.
February 11th: Evolution Rocks!
On this, the 200th anniversary week of Charles Darwin’s birthday (12 February, 1809), in an article for Forbes magazine, Shermer sets the record straight on whether Charles Darwin stole the idea of natural selection. PLUS, the first Junior Skeptic book is released to Portuguese School Kids!
February 4th: Fire in the Sky
Jeff Medkeff and Martin Rundkvist review A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels Impact Event by Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell.
January 28th: Doubting Altruism
Kenneth Krause reviews the latest research on altruism, most notably that of primate research in controlled experiments in which both monkeys and apes are given choices to cooperate or compete against game partners in exchange scenarios, with implications for human research in this area.
January 21st: Telephone to the Dead
Michael Shermer reminds us how easy it is for our brains to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.
January 14th: Homeopathy — Still Crazy After All These Years
Harriet Hall, MD explains why “homeopathy is about as silly as it gets. Silly wouldn’t matter if it worked, but it doesn’t. People think it works because they get placebo effects and the homeopath keeps them entertained while they get better on their own.”
January 7th: How to Bend a Spoon with Just Your Mind
In a new video, Michael Shermer bends spoons and forks and give you just enough information so that you can figure how how to do it yourself (without actually providing a full reveal of the trick).

2008

December 23rd: Fooled by Ponzi (and Madoff)
We present an insider’s look at Ponzi schemes by an expert on human gullibility who not only just wrote a book on the subject, but with considerable irony just lost a good chunk of his retirement savings in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. This is one of the most insightful articles we’ve ever published that puts the lie to the belief that intelligent and educated skeptics and scientists can’t be fooled.
December 17th: How to Be Psychic in Ten Easy Steps
For our annual fundraising drive at the Skeptics Society, this year’s premium give-away is a PDF booklet on how to do your own psychic readings, in exchange for which we respectfully ask you to show your support for your Skeptics Society by making a donation to our annual fundraising campaign.
December 10th: Regulation Schmegulation
Michael Shermer debunks the myth of deregulation as the cause of the current economic crisis; Skeptic.com offers rare Pyramid Power resources from Junior Skeptic # 23; and Michael Shermer and Karl Giberson debates how best to “save Darwin.”
December 3rd: Newtonmas is here again (almost)
It’s that time of year once again. Giving gifts on December 25, Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday (he’s 366 this year!), has long been a tradition amongst skeptics, so here are a few gems we plucked out of our catalogue that we think your friends and family members will enjoy receiving as gifts (and it’s okay to buy yourself a gift as well!).
November 26th: The Powerful Pull of Belief
Michael Shermer discusses the confirmation bias — the powerful compulsion to seek out confirmatory evidence for our beliefs, in the context of the film Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.
November 19th: Oppenheimer the Opera
Michael Shermer reviews the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Doctor Atomic, the story of the building of the atomic bomb and the brilliant but enigmatic J. Robert Oppenheimer.
November 12th: Just What is the Consensus on Global Warming?
Gary J. Whittenberger Ph.D. discusses how a global warming petition project has misled the public by indicating there is a consensus that the evidence is weak or nonexistent for anthropogenic global warming.
November 5th: Does God Exist?
Dr Michael Shermer takes on Dr John Lennox, who holds three doctorates in the fields of science and mathematics (Ph.D., D.Phil., D.Sc.) and is a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green College, University of Oxford.
October 29th: Introducing SkepticBlog
Steven Novella introduces SkepticBlog — a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism, featuring the cast and producers of The Skeptologists, a pilot skeptical reality show.
October 22nd: Thank God for Evolution
Michael J. Booker, Ph.D reviews Michael Dowd’s book entitled Thank God for Evolution! How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World; Michael Dowd responds.
October 15th: From Science Fiction to Science Fact
Tauriq Moosa reviews Michio Kaku’s book entitled Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel.
October 8th: Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth
Skeptic magazine’s very own Skepdoc, Harriet Hall M.D., punctures the acupuncture myth and tells you why “almost everything you’ve heard about acupuncture is wrong.”
October 1st: Was Vanity Fair Hoaxed?
Mark Bellinghaus, a first rate skeptical investigator of all things Marilyn, sheds some light on how a recent Marilyn Monroe hoax fooled Vanity Fair magazine.
September 24th: How to Resolve the War between Science & Religion
Shawn K. Stover, an associate professor of biology at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, discusses how to resolve the war between science and religion.
September 17th: What Makes People Vote Republican?
We link to Jonathan Haidt’s article on science and politics entitled What Makes People Vote Republican? on Edge.org, with commentaries on it by Michael Shermer and others.
September 10th: Shermer in Australia
Michael Shermer shares his stories after a two-week tour of Australia sponsored by the Australian government for their annual National Science Week.
September 3rd: Announcing the Fall Season of Lectures at Caltech
The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its Fall season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. This continues the fifteen-year-long series, presenting over 200 lectures by some of the most distinguished experts in the world.
August 27th: Money, Markets & Morality
We present ABC Radio National’s show All in the Mind, a debate recorded for National Science Week in Australia, between Dr. Michael Shermer and shareholder activist and Crikey founder, Stephen Mayne.
August 20th: Flagella Myths
Mark Perakh discusses how Intelligent Design proponents created the myth that bacterial flagella look like man-made machines.
August 15th: Proof of Bigfoot?
Michael Shermer responds to the recently claimed Bigfoot find. Plus, we present a brief history of Bigfoot summarized from Daniel Loxton’s two Junior Skeptic issues bound into Skeptic magazines Vol 11 No 2 and Vol 11 No 3.
August 13th: Redefining Near Death Experiences
Sebastian Dieguez presents a rejoinder to Mark Crislip’s “Near Death Experiences & the Medical Literature” (eSkeptic June 18th, 2008), calling for a redefinition of NDEs.
August 6th: Does science make belief in God obsolete?
This is the third in a series of conversations presented by the John Templeton Foundation. The conversation explores the BIG Questions (the theme of this year’s Skeptics Society Conference at Caltech), among which is “Does science make belief in God obsolete?”.
July 30th: Toward a Type 1 Civilization
Michael Shermer postulates a “Type 1” civilization in which exists a “globalism that includes worldwide wireless Internet access, with all knowledge digitized and available to everyone…
July 23rd: announcing our 2008 Conference
The Skeptics Society announces its 2008 Conference at Caltech: ORIGINS — The BIG Questions.
July 16th: Lying for God
Paul Gross reviews Lauri Lebo’s The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America.
July 9th: Charlatan: Quackery Then & Now
Harriet Hall, MD reviews Pope Brock’s Charlatan. America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam.
July 2nd: The Real Evolution Anniversary
Michael Shermer celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 1858 discovery of natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
June 25th: Socratic Skepticism
Priscilla Sakezles discusses the famous words most often attributed to Socrates, “All I know is that I know nothing.” claiming that it is indeed a misquote.
June 18th: Mostly Dead or All Dead?
Infectious Disease doctor Mark Crislip dissects some medical research on near death experiences.
June 11th: Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?
We present a link to a free, beautifully produced booklet on the question “Does science make belief in God obsolete?” published by the Templeton Foundation and edited by Michael Shermer.
June 4th: How Skeptics Confronted 9/11 Denialism
John Ray celebrates the triumph of skepticism over 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
May 28th: Grassroots protest turns out to be “astroturf”
Daniel Loxton digs into a protest campaign that is fighting to block enforcement of Canada’s purity, safety, and labeling laws for natural health products — and discovers a shadowy business interest behind the faux consumer watchdog site organizing those protests.
May 21st: The Phoenix Lights Explained (Again)
Tony Ortega debunks the Phoenix Lights: the mysterious “vee” configuration that people reported seeing flying over the state of Arizona in March 1997.
May 14th: Gimme that Old-Time Irreligion
Norman Levitt reviews John Alan Paulos’ book entitled Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up; we ask eSkeptic readers to take our reader survey.
May 7th: How We Know Global Warming is Real
We present two free articles from the current issue of Skeptic magazine on global warming: Patrick Frank’s A Climate of Belief and the other by Tapio Schneider’s How We Know Global Warming is Real.
April 30th: new issue of Skeptic magazine
The Skeptic Society announces the new issue of Skeptic magazine, Volume 14, Number 1 on Global Warming.
April 23rd: Expelled Exposed, Part 2
We present the third and fourth of four articles debunking claims made in Ben Stein’s new documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The first article is by Carrie Sager and Andrea Bottaro. The second article is by Lauri Lebo.
April 17th: Expelled Exposed, Part 1
We present the first two of four articles debunking claims made in Ben Stein’s new documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The first article is by Michael Shermer and the second article is by Ed Brayton.
April 9th: Fundamental Truths
Tim Callahan reviews R. D. Gold’s book entitled Bondage of the Mind: How Old Testament Fundamentalism Shackles the Mind and Enslaves the Spirit.
April 2nd: The Doping Dilemma
Michael Shermer presents extensive research on doping in sports and discusses how game theory helps to explain the pervasive abuse of drugs in cycling, baseball and other sports.
March 27th: Faith Healing
Michael Shermer reviews Pope Brock’s Charlatan. America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam.
March 19th: Snake Oil Science
Harriet Hall, M.D, a.k.a. “the SkepDoc”, reviews R. Barker Bausell’s book entitled Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
March 12th: The Hydrogen Economy
Alice Friedemann examines the science and pseudoscience behind a hydrogen economy. Is it worth the energy?
March 5th: A Leap Beyond Faith
We present Michael Shermer’s Los Angeles Times opinion editorial on Scientology, followed by several Letters to the Editor that ran in response. And then, we present, in part, Jean E. Rosenfeld’s Los Angeles Times op-ed rebuttal to Michael’s piece.
February 27th: Consciousness is Nothing but a Word
We present Henry D. Schlinger’s revised version of an invited talk presented at our annual conference, “Brain, Mind and Consciousness,” at Caltech in May 2005. This article is also available in Skeptic magazine Volume 13, Number 4.
February 20th: Ultrasound Screening, Fish Oil & Ear Candles
Harriet Hall, M.D. applies her usual skeptical lens to ultrasound screening, fish oil, and ear candles. Surprisingly there is something positive to be found in one of the subjects that may actually be good for you.
February 13th: How Broadcast Journalism is Flawed
Steve Salerno discusses the fundamental flaws of broadcast journalism as a tool for informing viewers.
February 6th: The Myth of the Mozart Effect
Will Dowd takes a look at what science really says about The Mozart Effect.
January 30th: What Have You Changed Your Mind About?
Michael Shermer answers the Annual Edge.org Question “What Have You Changed Your Mind About?”.
January 23rd: Markets, Monkeys & Medicine
Michael Shermer explains Why People Believe Weird Things About Money in an LA Times op-ed; Norman Levitt responds to Steve Fuller’s response to Norman Levitt’s review of Science vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution; and Skeptic magazine’s resident medical expert, Dr. Harriet Hall starts blogging.
January 16th: Science versus Religion
Steve Fuller Responds to Norman Levitt’s review of his book entitled Science vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution.
January 8th: The Mind of the Market
Michael Shermer announces his new website (MichaelShermer.com), his new book, The Mind of the Market, and his touring schedule for the book.

2007

December 19th: Deconstructing a Postmodernist Critique of Evolution
Dr. Norman Levitt reviews Steve Fuller’s book entitled Science vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution.
December 12th: The Immortal Lily the Pink
Daniel Loxton comments on the history (and future) of patent medicine in light of 2007’s status as the 100th anniversary of active Federal regulation of food and drugs.
December 5th: You Can Prove a Negative
Steven D. Hales says “you can prove a negative” and that skeptics need not concede this point in debates.
November 28th: Newtonmas Holiday Sales Bonanza!
The Skeptics Society is having a Holiday Sales Bonanza in celebration of Newtonmas (a tradition amongst skeptics) in recognition of Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday (he’s 365 this year!) on December 25.
November 20th: The Matrix of the Brain
David Ludden reviews by Cordelia Fine‘s book entitled A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives.
November 14th: Answering Questions on UFOs and Aliens
Dr. David Morrison, a Senior Scientist of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, answers questions about astrobiology sent to “Ask an Astrobiologist”. Read on to find out how Dr. Morrison handles queries like “where are you hiding the alien bodies?” and other such matters.
November 7th: Crystals for Skeptics!
The Skeptics Society presents Crystals for Skeptics!, a geology trip to the Oceanview Mine in Pala, California. Also, in this eSkeptic, Michael Shermer talks about God in New York.
October 31st: Is there nonhuman primate language?
Dr. Clive Wynne, a psychology professor at the University of Florida and the author of the authoritative textbook on the subject of animal cognition, revisits the debate about whether animals have language.
October 24th: How the Medical Mind Works
Harriet Hall, M.D. (Skeptic magazine’s resident expert on all matters medical) reviews Jerome Groopman’s book How Doctors Think. PLUS, Shermer appears on CNN’s Glenn Beck show to discuss 9/11 conspiracy theories; Dinesh D’Souza and Michael Shermer debate “Is Christianity Good for the World?”.
October 17th: new issue of Skeptic on Medical Controversies
A new issue of Skeptic magazine (volume 13, number 3) hits the news stands with a special section on Medical Controversies; Shop Skeptic gets three new Richard Dawkins DVDs; and Michael Shermer shares The Real Secret.
October 10th: Two Views, One Reality
Jason Rosenhouse reviews two books: Francisco Ayala’s Darwin and Intelligent Design and Philip Kitcher’s Living With Darwin: Evolution, Design and the Future of Faith.
October 3rd: Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography
James N. Gardner reviews Janet Browne’s book Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography.
September 26th: Paranormal Claims: A Critical Analysis
Angelo Stagnaro reviews Bryan Farha’s book Paranormal Claims: A Critical Analysis.
September 19th: The Trickster and the Paranormal
Robert R. Lavieri reviews George P. Hansen’s book entitled The Trickster and the Paranormal.
September 12th: Announcing the Fall Season of Lectures at Caltech
The Skeptics Society announces its fall season of lectures at Caltech.
September 5th: A Fond Farewell to Jerry Andrus & Paul MacCready
Michael Shermer shares his personal remembrances of his good friends Jerry Andrus and Paul MacCready, who recently passed away.
August 29th: Burn Down the Thinkeries!
Jonathan Gottschall reviews Frederick Crews’ book Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays.
August 22nd: How Doctors Think They Think
Charles Lambdin reviews Jerome Groopman’s book: How Doctors Think.
August 15th: Bioidentical Hormones
Dr. Harriet Hall, Skeptic’s resident expert on all matters medical, examines the evidence surrounding bioidentical hormone treatment.
August 8th: Primate Politics Heats Up Again
World-renowned primateologist Frans de Waal, responds to a recent New Yorker article on bonobos, in which primate politics, both left and right, once again muddled the science.
August 1st: Blinded by Science?
We present two reviews of Frank Tipler’s book The Physics of Christianity — the first review by Lawrence Krauss and the second by Tim Callahan.
July 25th: Testing Tenure
Michael Shermer proposes a market solution to the problem of tenure in this invited open peer commentary on an article entitled “Is Tenure Justified? An Experimental Study of Faculty Beliefs About Tenure, Promotion, and Academic Freedom” by Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Katrin Mueller-Johnson, published in a 2006 issue of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, volume 29, pages 553–569.
July 18th: Michael Shermer on Larry King Live
Michael Shermer shares some of the more amusing (and nasty) letters he received after his appearaance on the UFO episode of Larry King Live. Also, David Sloan Wilson responds to Dawkins; and Shermer tries remote viewing.
July 11th: DNA as Evolution’s Proof
Kenneth K. Krause reviews Sean B. Carroll’s book entitled The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Record of Evolution.
July 4th: Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong About Religion
David Sloan Wilson shares with us his analysis of Dawkins’ theory of religion, which he feels is wide of the mark based on the evidence.
June 27th: Why This Universe?
Robert Lawrence Kuhn, creator and host of the PBS television series Closer To Truth provides a brilliant summation and classification of the numerous answers to the question “Why This Universe?”; PLUS, Michael Shermer experiments with the “God Helmet” and recounts his out of body experience.
June 20th: the Vaccine-Autism Myth
Matthew P. Normand and Jesse Dallery, Ph.D. address one of the hottest topics in the news this week: vaccination and autism, considering the best scientific evidence to date on the possible connection. As you shall see, the scientists considering the link, Matthew P. Normand and Jesse Dallery, provide an excellent summary of what we know and do not know.
June 13th: Loch Ness and other Lake Monsters
Daniel Loxton provides a skeptical commentary on Gordon T. Holmes Loch Ness Monster video and reviews Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures, by Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell.
June 6th: Who Designed That?
Tom McIver discusses “the faith that dare not say its name” (a.k.a. Creationism) and suggests that although Evolution can be accepted with or without belief in God or the Bible, teaching creationism, including ID creationism, requires the unnecessary entanglement of religion with science.
May 30th: And God Created Lenin
Paul Gabel discusses the Soviet failed attempt to eradicate religion by fiat out of the Russian people. The historical experiment carries an important lesson for those who study belief systems in general and religion in particular: you cannot legislate beliefs and faith.
May 23rd: the New Creation Museum in Kentucky
A review of the new young-earth creationism museum in Kentucky, visited by our colleague and correspondent Stephen Asma.
May 16th: Flock of Dodos
Donald R. Prothero reviews Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny, by Barrett Brown and Jon P. Alston.
May 9th: Hitchens and God
Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens.
May 2nd: Science Will Never Explain Everything
Robert Ehrlich addresses one of the standard myths about science: that the gaps in scientific knowledge mean that there is something wrong with science and that the scientific method is inherently deeply flawed. Ehrlich notes that the exact opposite is the case: where gaps exist is where science flourishes.
April 25th: Ancient Astronauts, Lost Civilizations
Skeptic magazine’s Religion Editor Tim Callahan shows how classic myths of ancient astronauts and other legends have grown into practically religious beliefs for many New Age spiritualists who have grown disenchanted with mainstream religion and have turned to these legends to find mythic meaning.
April 18th: The Problem of Evil in a Darwinian World
Dr. Norman Levitt reviews by George Levine’s book entitled Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World.
April 11th: Bad Apples or Bad Barrels?
Jennifer McKevitt reviews by Philip Zimbardo’s book entitled The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.
April 4th: God — the Failed Hypothesis
David Ludden reviews Victor J. Stenger’s book entitled God: The Failed Hypothesis — How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist.
March 28th: Measuring the Deity
Warren Allmon reviews two books: The Measure of God. Our Century-Long Struggle to Reconcile Science & Religion. The Story of the Gifford Lectures, by Larry Witham; and Before Darwin. Reconciling God and Nature, by Keith Stewart Thomson.
March 21st: Dr Zimbardo; Mind of the Market
Michael Shermer tries out some new ideas at a free lecture on evolutionary economics; and Dr. Philip Zimbardo lectures at Caltech on the topic of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.
March 14th: The Legacy of Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was a man ahead of his time. On the 10th anniversary of his death we celebrate Carl Sagan’s remarkable legacy in Skeptic magazine volume 13, number 1.
March 7th: The Secret
Ingrid Hansen Smythe gives us her skeptical analysis of the movie The Secret.
February 28th: Dawkins v. Collins
Gary J. Whittenberger gives us a skeptical analysis of the “spirited debate between atheist biologist Richard Dawkins and Christian geneticist Francis Collins” which appeared in Time magazine on November 13, 2006.
February 21st: a Mammoth in the Garden
In a review essay, Paul R. Gross discusses: The Creationist Debate: The Encounter Between the Bible & the Historical Mind, by Arthur McCalla; Creatures of Accident: The Rise of the Animal Kingdom, by Wallace Arthur; and The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, by Francis S. Collins.
February 16th: Before the Dawn
Kenneth Krause reviews Nicholas Wade’s book, Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors.
February 12th: Darwin Day
Today, the Skeptics Society celebrates one of the greatest thinkers in history, Charles Darwin, on what would be his 198th birthday.
February 7th: New season of Lectures at Caltech
The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its Spring 2007 season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech.
January 31st: two reviews of Richard Dawkins’ latest
Norman Levitt and Michael Shermer offer two different reviews of Richard Dakwins’ book, The God Delusion.
January 24th: Mr. Deity & Letter to a Christian Nation
Mr. Deity explores the lighter side of religion through His humorous short films and Kenneth W. Krause reviews Sam Harris’ book Letter to a Christian Nation.
January 17th: Fact Checking 101
Michael Shermer issues a correction to the Grand Canyon Story, Creationism in Our National Parks, that we ran in last week’s eSkeptic.
January 10th: Creationism in Our National Parks
Geologist and paleontologist Dr. Donald Prothero discusses the latest creationist challenge to science in the form of banning park rangers at the Grand Canyon from telling people how old it is!
January 4th: an Afterlife Debate with Deepak Chopra
Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra debate about science, spirituality, the afterlife, and the meaning of life; Skepticality presents the Sam Harris Caltech lecture.

2006

December 20th: You can make a difference
Michael Shermer reviews Sharon Weinberger’s book Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon’s Scientific Underworld.
December 13th: The Bible Against Itself
The Skeptics Society announces a new publication: The Bible Against Itself, by Randel Helms. On Skepticality this week, David Federlein interviews the MythBusters (recorded at The Amazing Meeting 4).
December 6th: Cheesecake (and Beefcake!) in Support of Critical Thinking?
On Skepticality, correspondent David Federlein interviews Skepchick founder (and head volunteer) Rebecca Watson, and Derek & Swoopy talk to Bad Astronomy’s Dr. Phil Plait about his revealing 2007 Skepdude calendar photo. Also, the 9/11 issue of Skeptic magazine hits the stands, the Why Darwin Matters lecture is now on DVD, and Roy Zimmerman sings satire at Shop Skeptic.
November 29th: Julia Sweeney, TAM5 & Michael Richards
We announce: Julia Sweeney’s new CD Letting Go of God, now available at shop skeptic; James Randi compiles a remarkable line-up of speakers for The Amazing Meeting 5; and Michael Shermer sheds some light on Kramer’s Conundrum, in an LA Times op-ed on racism.
November 22nd: Bigfoot Returns!
Michael Shermer receives a press release from Jon-Erik Beckjord, a long-time Bigfoot hunter, along with four photographs of the mysterious creature. Maybe Shermer is just a lousy pattern-seeking primate, but he just can’t see Bigfoot at all, even when he squints and uses his imagination.
November 15th: Why Christians Should Accept Evolution
Michael Shermer shares with us several letters to the editor of Scientific American commenting on his recent article entitled “Darwin on the Right” about how and why conservatives and Christians can and should accept the theory of evolution.
November 8th: Dawkins DVD; Ann Druyan interview; 6 Basic Mistakes
The Skeptics Society announces its exclusive release of Dawkins’ controversial documentary DVD The Root of All Evil? in North America; on Skepticality, Michael Shermer interviews Ann Druyan, wife and collaborator of the late Dr. Carl Sagan; and David Lidden reviews Thomas Kida’s Don’t Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking.
November 3rd: Theatre of Science in NYC; this week’s Shermer lectures
Six foot long bolts of million-volt lightning are created for the first time on a New York stage by British scientists Richard Wiseman and Simon Singh as part of their show, The Theatre of Science; Michael Shermer’s next touring schedule is announced; PLUS, Shermer shares his three-tiered model for reconciling the relationship between science and religion.
October 31st: Halloween 1926 death of Harry Houdini
On the 80th anniversary of the Halloween 1926 death of Harry Houdini, we commemorate his legacy with an all-Houdini Halloween Special bonus episode of Skepticality (featuring an interview with escape artist James “The Amazing” Randi), and, a brief selection from poet Steven Price’s critically acclaimed poetic biography of Houdini, Anatomy of Keys.
October 25th: Simon Singh on Skepticality; American Scientist interviews Shermer
Fraser Cain interviews particle physicist Simon Singh about the dodgy topic of homeopathy and Amos Esty of American Scientist interviews Michael Shermer about debating advocates of intelligent design, the importance of understanding evolution, and why Americans, in particular, are troubled by this fundamental tenet of science.
October 18th: Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins’ upcoming Caltech lecture, The God Delusion, is featured along with an announcement about the website launch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Also, watch Michael Shermer on his East Coast Book Tour in streaming video.
October 11th: Skepticism in Comic Books!
WHAM! POW! KA-BLAM! A Skepticality double header! Derek & Swoopy interview not one, but two authors of comic books and graphic novels dealing with the themes of science and skepticism: Chris Wisnia (creator of the irrepressible Dr. DeBunko) and Jim Ottaviani (creator of graphic novels about scientists from Niels Bohr to Othniel Marsh).
October 3rd: Shermer Book Tour (pt2); Language of God
Michael Shermer speaks at various venues across the east coast and signs copies of his latest book Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design; Robert K. Eberle reviews Francis S. Collins’s book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
September 27th: Shermer Speaks with Randi on Skepticality
Skeptics Society founder Dr. Michael Shermer sits down for a special, one-hour, one-on-one interview with James “the Amazing” Randi! This remarkable conversation was recorded for Skepticality while at sea during the James Randi Educational Foundation’s recent Amazing Adventure cruise — in the midst of the eerie Bermuda Triangle!
September 21st: Godless: The Church of Liberalism
Matthew Provonsha reviews Ann Coulter’s book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum, 2006, ISBN 1400054206).
September 14th: New season of Lectures at Caltech
Another fabulous season of lectures at Caltech begins. Dr. Michael Shermer kicks off the season, followed by Dr. Owen Gingerich, Dr. Richard Sloan, Dr. Sam Harris, Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Bart Kosko, and Jonathan Kirsh. Also, Skepticality interviews Dr. Shermer about the new book as well as recaps the whirlwind weekend that was Dragon* Con 2006.
September 11th: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
On the 5th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, Phil Molé takes a look at the “9/11 Truth Movement” and shares with us his experience attending a weekend conference held in Chicago, organized by 911truth.org.
September 6th: Shermer Book Tour; Environmental Wars
Michael Shermer speaks at various bookstores across the west coast and signs copies of his latest book Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design; The Environmental Wars Conference 2006 is launched at Shop Skeptic.
August 30th: new book Why Darwin Matters
Dr. Michael Shermer announces his latest book Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design.
August 25th: The Futile Quest for A.I.
In this penetrating skeptical critique of Artificial Intelligence, computer scientist Peter Kassan reviews the numerous reasons why this problem is harder than anyone anticipated.
August 14th: Announcing Skepticality
Michael Shermer announces Skepticality — the offical podcast of Skeptic magazine. Skepticality is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews. On this premiere episode of the re-launched Skepticality, Shermer joins hosts Derek & Swoopy to celebrate our exciting new creative partnership.
August 10th: Debunking TV’s “Ghost Hunters”
Alison Smith, the founder of Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society (SAPS), an investigative team devoted to re-creating and debunking popular paranormal video footage shown on television, debunks “Ghost Hunters” — a Sci-Fi Network TV show by one of the most famous paranormal investigation groups in the world (TAPS — The Atlantic Paranormal Society). Smith is a licensed private investigator, armed security officer, and is also a psychology major at the University of Texas at Arlington.
August 3rd: Secrets of Mental Math
We announce your last chance to sign up for Shermer’s Science & Spirituality seminar at the Esalen institute, Secrets of Mental Math (formerly Mathemagics) arrives at Shop Skeptic, and Dr. Dino gets arrested for tax fraud.
July 28th: Is Lonesome George Really Lonesome?
Dr. Frank J. Sulloway explores the question of whether Lonesome George — the only known giant tortoise from the island of Pinta in the Galápagos — is the last survivor of his race.
July 21st: Strip Mall Psychics
Amanda Mitchell interviews Michael Shermer about the paranormal in “Strip Mall Psychics,” we announce Mark Edward’s new book Sense and Séance and link to Laura Marble’s review of Why People Believe Weird Things.
July 13th: Science, Spirituality & the Search for Meaning
Michael Shermer announces his workshop “Science, Spirituality & the Search for Meaning” at the Esalen Institute this August; also, James N. Gardner, the author if Biocosm, reviews Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett.
July 7th: Stephen Hawking & the Pope
Stephen Hawking says that the Pope told him not to study the beginning of the universe; David Ludden reviews The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism by Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Peter C. Hill, and W. Paul Williamson.
June 29th: The Last Animal on Earth
Michael Shermer reviews Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of a Conservation Icon by Henry Nicholls.
June 20th: What Galileo Wrought
John C. Snider reviews Galileo’s Children: Tales of Science vs. Superstition (edited by Gardner Dozois).
June 12th: Post-Conference Report
As a follow-up to our annual conference, we link to a couple of independent blogs that have reported on and summarized the events of the weekend.
June 1st: Neuroscience & Morality
Kenneth W. Krause reviews Laurence R. Tancredi’s book, Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals About Morality.
May 25th: Facilitated Communication; Flipping on Climate Change
Dr. Lawrence Norton reviews a recent Time magazine article that touted the virtues of Facilitated Communication, and Michael Shermer shares with us the evidence for anthropogenic global warming.
May 18th: Peak Oil & the Skeptical Environmentalist
We present a link to a Reason magazine article by Ronald Bailey, called “Peak Oil Panic.” We also remind readers about a Skeptic magazine back issue in which Frank Miele debunks Bjørn Lomborg’s book, The Skeptical Environmentalist.
May 12th: Scientology & SHAM
Michael Shermer presents a Rolling Stone article on Scientology that he calls “one of the most thoughtful, reasoned, and highly-readable pieces on the Church.” Also, Shermer explores the “Sham Scam,” based on Steve Salerno’s book SHAM: The Self-Help & Actualization Movement.
May 3rd: “One of You Will Betray Me”
Tim Callahan reviews The Gospel of Judas, National Geographic Channel, Sunday, April 9, 2006; and The Gospel of Judas (National Geographic, 2006, ISBN 1426200420), by Bart Ehrman (Commentary), Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst (Eds).
April 27th: The Memory of Marilyn Monroe
Mark Bellinghaus critiques the Marilyn Monroe Exhibit (and briefly debunks the psychic James Van Praagh) that opened in Long Beach, California in November 2005.
April 20th: A Skeptic’s Defense of Supernatural Television
Jason Colavito comes to the rescue of fiction with a skeptical defense of television shows that incorporate the supernatural.
April 13th: Random Thoughts in Kentucky
Jeff Prewitt shares with us his report on the debate between William Dembski and Michael Shermer that took place on March 23rd at the Discovery Institute, University of Kentucky.
April 5th: Prayer & Healng
Michael Shermer reports on the findings of a recent scientific study that tested the efficacy of intercessory prayer.
March 30th: The Skeptic Forum
Jim Dominic, administrator of the Skeptic Forum shares with us his notes on running a skeptic discussion board.
March 24th: Science on a Sweatshirt
David Ludden reviews Moti Ben-Ari’s book Just a Theory: Exploring the Nature of Science.
March 16th: “The Environmental Wars” 2006 conference
The Skeptics Society announces its 2006 Caltech conference called, “The Environmental Wars”.
March 9th: Deities for Atheists — The Science Without a Subject
Michael Shermer reviews George Basalla’s book Civilized Life in the Universe: Scientists on Intelligent Extraterrestrials.
March 2nd: Giving the Devil His Due
Michael Shermer asserts that David Irving’s three-year prison sentence for denying the Holocaust “is an assault on the civil liberties of us all.”
February 23rd: Daniel Dennett – Believing in Belief
Michael Shermer reviews Daniel C. Dennett’s book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
February 16th: Intelligent Design and SETI
Robert Camp explores the validity of William Dembski’s argument from analogy for Intelligent Design.
February 9th: Keep Religion Out of the Science Classroom
The Skeptics Society launches its 2006 public relations campaign to stop religion from being taught in schools.
February 2nd: The Soul of Science; Darwin Day in NYC
We announce Michael Shermer’s new pocket-book The Soul of Science and Darwin Day events in New York City with Richard Milner.
January 23rd: Coast to Coast; annual conference; 9/11
Michael Shermer debates Dr. Gary Schwartz, Russell Targ, and Dean Radin; the Skeptics Society announces its 2006 annual conference; Richard Morrock reviews The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, by David Ray Griffin.
January 19th: Spring 2006 Lecture Series
Michael Shermer announces a new season of lectures and conferences sponsored by the Skeptics Society.
January 9th: The Privileged Planet
Charles G. Lambdin reviews the film “The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe.”
January 5th: Einstein & the Church
William C. Waterhouse investigates a statement, attributed to Albert Einstein, ostensibly praising the Church.
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Retrospective

Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

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

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

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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

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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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