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e Skeptic Archives for 2017

December 20th: Watch Science Salon 15 and 16, online now
In this week’s eSkeptic Seth Andrews recounts how he became a card-carrying skeptic; Science Salons 15 and 16 are now available to watch for free online; Sam Harris and Michael Shermer will dialogie live in Austin, TX, in March.
December 13th: Why Freud Matters: Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and the Skeptical Humanist Tradition
In this week’s eSkeptic, Raymond Barlow discusses how the psychoanalytic tradition inaugurated by Sigmund Freud casts light on the mainsprings of human motivation and helps to explain human irrationality and encourage recovery.
December 6th: Campus Craziness: The New War on Science
In this week’s eSkeptic, campus craziness brings a new war on science in the latest issue of Skeptic magazine (22.4) available now in print and digital editions; Blake Smith talks about UFOs, chemtrails, and aliens with Don Prothero and Tim Callahan; and Dr. Robert Trivers discusses the evolutionary genetics of honor killings.
November 29th: Take The Pro-Truth Pledge
In a time when the Oxford English Dictionary has named “post-truth” as its word of the year (2016), Dr. Gleb Tsipursky avers that we can create a mechanism for differentiating the liars from the truth-tellers, ensuring the veracity of public information.
November 28th: 25 Years Strong: Ensuring Sound Scientific Viewpoints Are Heard Worldwide
You play a vital role in our mission to promote science and reason. November 28th is #GivingTuesday. Please download and read the letter from Executive Director, Michael Shermer, and support our mission by donating to the Skeptics Society, your 501(c)(3) non-profit science education organization.
November 22nd: Our Best Sale of the Year
Now through Cyber Monday, SAVE 25% on subscriptions, books, DVDs, swag, and gift certificates. PLUS, SAVE OVER 80% on Skeptic magazine back issues in print. (Shipping not included, while supplies last. Sale ends at 23:59:59 Sunday, November 27, 2017, PST.)
November 15th: The Wizardry of Freud
In this week’s eSkeptic, Margret Schaefer reviews Freud: The Making of an Illusion, in which its author, Frederick Crews, convincingly argues that Freud constructed psychoanalysis on an entirely fraudulent foundation, and explains how Freud convinced so many people of the correctness and the profundity of his theory.
November 8th: Why We Should Be Concerned About Artificial Superintelligence
It’s possible that artificially intelligent systems might end up far more intelligent than any human. In this week’s eSkeptic, Matthew Graves warns that the same general problem-solving ability that makes artificial superintelligence a uniquely valuable ally may make it a uniquely risky adversary. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.2 (2017).
November 1st: Are You An Unconscious Racist?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Carol Tavris examines whether the Implicit Association Test (IAT) can really capture unconscious prejudices and predict if people will actually behave in a biased or discriminatory way. This column appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 22.2 (2017).
October 25th: “Sonic Attack” or Mass Hysteria?
Could a sonic weapon have focused a wave of energy with pinpoint accuracy on American diplomats in Cuba? In this week’s eSkeptic, Robert E. Bartholomew presents a plausible explanation for the illness cluster reported by State Department officials: mass psychogenic illness.
October 18th: Tell Us Your Story. Become a Card-Carrying Skeptic!
We skeptics can all remember that one moment when we began to think like skeptics. We’d like for you to join us in celebrating our 25th anniversary by telling us your story of when you knew that you were a Card-Carrying Skeptic.
October 11th: What is Spirituality, Anyway?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. David Speed examines why the definitional ambiguity of the word “spirituality” is problematic for researchers who seek to explore the relationship between it and other constructs.
October 4th: Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism
This week, we present a recording of Michael Shermer’s article, “Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism,” originally published in the journal Theology and Science in July 2017, being read by the author, and introduced by David Smalley.
September 27th: Conjuring a Lost Civilization: Analysis of Graham Hancock’s Claims
In this week’s eSkeptic, Professor of Geology at the University of South Florida, Dr. Marc J. Defant, provides an analysis of the claims made by Graham Hancock in his book Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization.
September 20th: Patreon: A New Way to Support the Things SKEPTIC Creates
If it weren’t for patrons, we might not have had Mozart, Shakespeare, or Leonardo da Vinci. They all had patrons! That’s why Skeptic has created a Patreon page, which provides a new way for you to support the things we create that promote science and reason!
September 13th: Radically Wrong in Berkeley
Is Antifa an enemy of free speech? In this week’s eSkeptic, Raymond Barglow discusses the recent violent demonstrations in Berkeley, which purported to “fight fascism,” while fueling it instead.
September 6th: Grand Irish Odyssey 2018
In this week’s eSkeptic: Tour of the Emerald Isle in our 2018 Grand Irish Odyssey; Science Salon # 14: Dr. Nancy Segal on Twin Mythconceptions; Sept. 15 Debate: Is God a Figment of Our Imagination? Shermer v. McGrath; Promotional Offer: Save 25% off the Reasons to Believe film on Vimeo; Oct. 19 Debate: Solving Moral Dilemmas: How Do We Know What’s Right?.
August 30th: The Multi-headed Hydra of Prejudice
In this week’s eSkeptic, social psychologist (and regular columnist for Skeptic magazine, Carol Tavris, discusses the hydra of prejudice and the psychological predictors that lead to it rearing its ugly heads.
August 23rd: Ultraterrestrials: A Review of How UFOs Conquered the World
How useful are eyewitness reports and “investigations” by UFO proponents? In this week’s eSkeptic, psychology professor Dr. Terence Hines reviews How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth, by David Clarke.
August 16th: Functional Medicine: Pseudoscientific Silliness
In this week’s eSkeptic Harriet Hall, M.D. (the SkepDoc) examines the latest flavor of integrative medicine called “functional medicine” (FM) — a Trojan horse designed to sneak non-science-based medicine into conventional medical practice.
August 9th: Life’s Score
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer reviews Knowing the Score: What sports can teach us about philosophy (and what philosophy can teach us about sports), by King’s College philosopher David Papineau.
August 2nd: ET v. Earth Pathogens: Will ETs Kill Us or Vice Versa?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Tim Callahan explores the question of whether microbes from any given planet will be brutally harmful to the inhabitants of another planet who have no immunity to the alien pathogens.
July 26th: Provocateur: A Review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous
In this week’s eSkeptic, George Michael reviews Milo Yiannopoulos’s self-published book Dangerous, which has reached #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, and, at the time of this writing, is near the top of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
July 19th: Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism
In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Michael Shermer’s article, “Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism,” from Theology and Science, 14 July, 2017.
July 12th: Who Are You? Memories, Points of View and the Self
In this week’s eSkeptic, Janna Levin Discusses the Edge of the Universe; Michael Shermer looks at Memories, Points of View and the Self; MonsterTalk interviews Ben Frable about Naming Monsters.
July 5th: I am Not Living in a Computer Simulation, and Neither Are You
In this week’s eSkeptic, Peter Kassan examines the idea that we are all just computer simulations living in a computer simulation.
June 28th: An Outbreak of Mass Hallucinations and Shoddy Journalism: Why We Need Skepticism More Than Ever
“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?
June 21st: 3 Shades of Atheism: How Atheists Differ in Their Views on God
In this week’s eSkeptic, based on a sample of hundreds of respondents to a survey distributed through social media, California State University, Fullerton psychologists Brittany Page and Douglas J. Navarick explain the differences they found in how atheists view God.
June 14th: A Reply to 10 Popular Criticisms of the “Conceptual Penis” Hoax
In this week’s eSkeptic, James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian offer a point-by-point reply to 10 popular criticisms of their parody-style hoax paper, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” that they published in an academic journal called Cogent Social Sciences.
June 7th: Alan Sokal on the “Conceptual Penis” Hoax
In this week’s eSkeptic, we present a thoughtful reflection by Alan Sokal on the latest academic hoax perpetrated by James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, who managed to get published in the peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences their nonsensical paper “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.”
May 31st: The Reincarnation of a Particular Kind of Irrationality
Since the death of William Peter Blatty—the author best known for his novel turned blockbuster film The Exorcist— exorcism is, once again, showing a robust presence in contemporary life, this time among millennials. In this week’s eSkeptic, Kathy Schultheis warns that this resurgence of interest in exorcism is a sign of how far reason has fallen.
May 24th: Paradoxology: If It Doesn’t Make Sense, It Must Be True
Can paradoxes that seem to undermine belief in the God of Christianity actually support a belief in Him? In this week’s eSkeptic, Skeptic magazine’s religion editor, Tim Callahan, reviews Paradoxology: Why Christianity Was Never Meant To Be Simple, by Krish Kandiah.
May 19th: The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct
In this special Friday eSkeptic, we present “The conceptual penis as a social construct” — a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies by @peterboghossian and @GodDoesnt.
May 17th: On Witches and Terrorists
In this week’s eSkeptic: Michael Shermer explains why torture as a tool to obtain useful information doesn’t work. Skepticality speaks with Bob Loomis about the history of stage illusion. MonsterTalk interviews Sharon Hill about The Stone Tape theory.
May 10th: Big News on Homo naledi
In huge announcements on May 9th, a team of scientists, led by Dr. Lee Berger, confirmed rumors that a second cave had been found harboring more Homo naledi skeletal remains, and revealed that the fossils are much younger than previously thought — a mere 300,000 years old. In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. Nathan H. Lents catches up with Dr. Lee Berger to ask him about the astounding and far-reaching implications of these announcements.
May 3rd: What Would it Take to Change Your Mind?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Peter Boghossian says that students taught to formulate beliefs on the basis of evidence may, ironically, be digging themselves into cognitive sinkholes — and, the more intelligent they are, the deeper the hole…
April 26th: In Defense of the Bell Curve
As promised last week, this week, we present anthropologist Dr. Vincent M. Sarich’s defense of the bell curve. See last week’s eSkeptic for the critique of the bell curve by Diane Halpern.
April 19th: The Skewed Logic of the Bell-Shaped Curve
In light of recent events in which Charles Murray has been booed off stage at two academic institutions for lecturing on ideas from his book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, we think it’s worth revisiting an article from Skeptic magazine from 1995 in which cognitive psychologist Diane Halpern critiques the book.
April 12th: What Really Happened to Jesus?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Tim Callahan reviews the documentary film The Last Days of Jesus, produced by Blink Films, Associated Producers Ltd., PBS, Channel Five Television, LTD., SBS Television Australia and ZoomerMedia Limited. Aired on PBS affiliates in the U.S. April 4, 2017.
April 5th: What is Truth, Anyway? How to Think About Claims
In his April 2017 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael Shermer discusses the principle of proportionality: that we should prefer the more probable explanation over the less probable. Also in this week’s eSkeptic, MonsterTalk interviews folklorist and author Mark Norman to discuss legends of black hounds.
March 29th: What the Heaven’s Gate Suicides Teach Us About Islamic Martyrdom
It was 20 years ago this week, March 20–26, 1997, that 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult “graduated” from this life to ascend to the UFO mothership that they believed would take them to an extraterrestrial paradise.
March 22nd: How Accurate is the “Cycle of Abuse”?
Are abused children doomed to repeat the crimes of their abusers? In this week’s eSkeptic, Carol Tavris examines our intuition about the “cycle of abuse.” This column was originally published in Skeptic magazine 21.2 (2016).
March 15th: What is Sexual Orientation?
When it comes to understanding sexual orientation “nobody knows anything” is a pretty close assessment. In this week’s eSkeptic, Carol Tavris explores various notions and definitions of sexual orientation.
March 8th: AI, Poltergeists, and Bill Nye
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer discusses the question of whether artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to human beings; MonsterTalk interviews Guy Lyon Playfair about The Enfield Poltergeist; and Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix and in the latest issue of Skeptic magazine 22.1!
March 1st: Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth is Still Only a Legend
The media love to hype “Fountain of Youth” claims. Many diverse treatments being promoted as “anti-aging” remedies are not grounded in science, are misleading, and sometimes even illegal. In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. discusses some of the those treatments. This column was originally published in Skeptic magazine 21.4 (2016).
February 22nd: Climate Cold Reading: Meteorological Myths of Farmer’s Almanacs
In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. Karen Stollznow discusses the awkward mix of science and superstition found in almanacs. This article originally appeared in Skeptic magazine 18.1 (2013).
February 15th: How Science & Reason Make the World Better
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer argues that science and reason have bent the moral arc of society towards justice and freedom; also, for Scientific American, Shermer compiles several responses from a number of sources on the incomprehensible topic of “nothing”.
February 8th: Cosmic Consciousness and the Ptolemaic Principle
In this week’s eSkeptic, Leonard Mlodinow and Michael Shermer review You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters, by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos, 2017. (New York: Harmony Books, 288 pages)
February 1st: The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America
Although Donald Trump’s presidential campaign mobilized the movement that has come be known as the alt-right, it was not he who created it. In this week’s eSkeptic, George Michael explores how the alt-right movement in America has gained traction in recent years, and examines whether it could change the American political landscape, now that Donald Trump is president.
January 25th: Announcing Upcoming Science Salons
In this week’s eSkeptic, we announce our next three Science Salons featuring Dr. Carol Tavris, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, and Dr. Andrew Shtulman. Purchase tickets in advance by calling 1-626-794-3119 now. Seating is limited. Don’t wait!
January 18th: What Scientific Term Ought to be More Widely Known?
In this week’s eSkeptic: Scientific American: Why Worldview Threats Undermine Evidence; Edge Question: What Scientific Term Ought to be More Widely Known?; Science Salon This Sunday: Gary Taubes—The Case Against Sugar
January 11th: The Stealth Determinism of the HBO Series Westworld
Stephen Beckner reviews season one of HBO’s most-watched TV series Westworld, and considers some of the concepts presented in the first ten episodes: creation, evolution, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, self-awareness, free will, and suffering. WARNING: This review contains spoiler alerts.
January 4th: The Case Against Sugar
In this week’s eSkeptic: The Case Against Sugar (by Gary Taubes); Changing the World Through Skepticism and Critical Thinking; British Natural History and Zoology (a 17-day tour); Skeptic Magazine Current Issue (21.4).
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