The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

e Skeptic Archives for 2018

December 26th: Sir Martin Rees — On the Future: Prospects for Humanity
In Science Salon # 48, Michael Shermer has a wide-ranging dialogue with Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees — a leading astrophysicist as well as a senior figure in UK science and a public intellectual in England and America.
December 19th: Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
There have been many arguments for the existence of God. In this cover story from our just-released issue Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018), Michael Shermer delves into the question that underlies all the arguments: Why is there something rather than nothing?
December 12th: Kids These Days: How to Avert a Looming Crisis
In his December 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American Michael Shermer discusses how to avert a looming crisis among today’s youth.
December 5th: Dr. Susan Blackmore — Altered States and Conscious Beings
In Science Salon # 47, Dr. Michael Shermer speaks with Dr. Susan Blackmore about: how science can test subjective mystical experiences; memes and tremes; free will and determinism; the hard problem of consciousness, out of body experiences, near-death experiences, and God.
November 28th: Finding Meaning and Morality in Life Without God
Psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Lewis answers the following question for religious believers facing adversity: “You’re an atheist?! How do you find meaning and morality in life if there is no God?”
November 21st: Enormous Savings — Now Thru Nov 28
For a one week only — now through November 28 — SAVE 40% on new digital subscriptions at (reg $14.99. now only $8.99 for 4 digital issues), and SAVE 25% on everything at including: print subscriptions, print back issues, books, DVDs, audiobooks, hoodies, stickers, Skeptic lapel pins, and gift certificates. nd how to find meaning and purpose in a humanistic nontheist worldview.
November 14th: Sleep Paralysis: A Personal Odyssey into an Apparently Paranormal Experience
Sleep paralysis is a type of hallucination that occurs in the fuzzy borderlands between wakefulness and sleep. Former tripping-hippie-conspiracy-theorist-turned-skeptic Heidi Love shares first-hand accounts of her experiences lucid dreaming under sleep paralysis.
November 7th: Pangburn Philosophy: Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer in Conversation
Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer discuss morality and science, morality and politics, good and evil, moral progress in an era of Populism and Nationalism, the negativity bias and how to put into perspective all the bad news reported daily by the media, and how to find meaning and purpose in a humanistic nontheist worldview.
October 31st: Thought Crimes: Jordan Peterson & the Meaning of the Meaning of Life
The New York Times calls him “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.” He inspires heartfelt admiration or abject loathing, and very little in between. In these uncertain times it seems essential to have an opinion about Jordan Peterson. But Skeptic contributor Stephen Beckner can’t quite make up his mind.
October 24th: Download selected issues of Junior Skeptic for $1.99 in PDF format
For 20 years, Junior Skeptic has been organized skepticism’s premier effort to inform and inspire younger readers. Bound into every new issue of Skeptic magazine, Junior Skeptic is proudly included in every digital and print subscription. Now, for the first time, select issues of Junior Skeptic are also available to download as standalone products in PDF format for just $1.99.
October 17th: Dr. Clay Routledge — The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything
Science Salon Podcast # 42: The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. A dialogue between Michael Shermer and psychologist Clay Routledge (Supernatural: Death, Meaning, and the Power of the Invisible World) on life’s deepest and most meaningful issues.
October 10th: Dr. Debra Lieberman — That’s Disgusting! Objection: Disgust, Morality and the Law
In Science Salon # 41, Dr. Lieberman considers disgust and its impact on the legal system to show why the things that we find stomach-turning so often become the things that we render unlawful.
October 3rd: Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah — Who Am I? Who Are You? The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity
In Science Salon # 40 Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Dr. Michael Shermer review the 5 “Cs” of identity—Creed, Country, Color, Class, and Culture—and what they tell us about who we are, based on Dr. Appiah’s new book The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity explores the nature and history of the identities that define us.
September 26th: Have Archetype—Will Travel: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon
Have Archetype—Will Travel by Michael Shermer attempts to explain the startling phenomenon of Jordan Peterson; not the man’s ideas so much as his message and following, which has grown astronomically in the past two years, from obscure Canadian professor of psychology to international man of mystery: mysterious to nearly everyone, that is, on exactly what it is he believes.
September 19th: Dr. Yuval Noah Harari — 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
In Science Salon # 38, Michael Shermer and Hebrew University historian and best-selling author (Sapiens, Homo Deus), Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, discuss the central ideas of his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
September 12th: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson — Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
In Science Salon # 37, Michael Shermer and Neil deGrasse Tyson take a deep dive into the history of science and war, and the strange but productive alliances that have been formed over the centuries—particularly those between astrophysicists and politicians, governments, military, and corporations.
September 5th: Dr. Jonathan Haidt — The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
Available Now: Skeptic Magazine 23.3 — Science and Moral Values; Plus Dr. Jonathan Haidt — The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Science Salon # 36)
August 29th: Dr. Tali Sharot — The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others (Science Salon # 35)
In Science Salon # 35, Michael Shermer talks with neuroscientist Dr. Tali Sharot about her new book The Influential Mind in which she takes readers on a thrilling exploration of the nature of influence.
August 22nd: Colin McGinn — Paradoxes, Puzzles, and Philosophy (Science Salon # 34)
In their second Science Salon conversation Michael Shermer and Colin McGinn discuss paradoxes and puzzles of philosophy, pseudo-questions, realism v. antirealism, how to deal with unknown unknowns, immortality and the nature of the self and soul.
August 15th: David Quammen — The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life (Science Salon # 33)
In Science Salon # 33, Michael Shermer talks with with David Quammen, one of the best nature and science writers of our generation, about his new book on the history of one of the most exciting revolutions in evolution and genetics that is unfolding before our eyes.
August 8th: Nina Teicholz — The Big Fat Surprise About Diet and Nutrition (Science Salon # 32)
In Science Salon # 32, Michael Shermer talks with investigative journalist Nina Teicholz about the scientific literature on diet and nutrition, the link (or lack thereof) between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, the history of the government’s recommendation of what constitutes a healthy diet and why they got it so wrong, statins and heart disease, exercise and nutrition, and much more…
August 1st: Amy Alkon—Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence (Science Salon # 31)
In Science Salon # 31, Michael Shermer talks with the science writer and weekly advice columnist Amy Alkon about her new book, Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence.
July 25th: Falling Into Infinity
In Science Salon # 30, Michael Shermer talks with University of Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Lewis about helping cancer patients cope without religion; Harriet Hall, M.D. reviews SCAM: So-Called Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst; MonsterTalk host Blake Smith looks back at the career and impact of radio-host Art Bell who passed away on April 13, 2018 at the age of 72.
July 18th: Falling Into Infinity
Does a scientific understanding of the world erase its emotional impact or spiritual power? Michael Shermer reviews Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman. This review was originally published online in the New York Times on June 25, 2018 under the title “Must Science Conflict With Spirituality?”
July 16th: Mysterianism, Consciousness, Free Will, and God
In Science Salon # 29, Michael Shermer talks with philosopher Colin McGinn about his public criticism of Shermer’s latest Scientific American column on the mysteries of consciousness, free will, and God.
July 14th: MonsterTalk Episode 161: The Call of Tut-Thulhu
In this eSkeptic, MonsterTalk interviews Jeb Card about Spooky Archaeology. Don’t forget to shop at Amazon Smile on July 16 and support your Skeptics Society! Lastly, we still have a few titles left in our Distinguished Science Lecture Series Closeout Sale.
July 11th: Dr. Michael Shermer — Ask Me Anything # 1
Watch or listen to the first Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Dr. Michael Shermer, the host of the Science Salon: a series of conversations between Michael and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.
July 9th: Now Playing at a Cartesian Theater Near You: Dualism Returns
Software programmer and technical writer Peter Kassan avers that a return to dualism is not justified. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.4 (2017).
July 7th: Are consciousness, free will, and God insoluble mysteries?
In his July 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael Shermer ponders how, for millennia, the greatest minds of our species have grappled to gain purchase on the vertiginous ontological cliffs of three great mysteries—consciousness, free will and God—without as­cending anywhere near the thin air of their peaks.
July 4th: 70–90% off Distinguished Science Lecture DVDs
It’s the 4th of July, and we are selling off all of our Distinguished Science Lecture Series DVDs at incredible savings. The more you buy, the bigger the discount! Shop now.
July 2nd: Edward J. Larson — On Faith and Science
In Science Salon # 28, Dr. Michael Shermer talks with Edward J. Larson, University Professor of History and Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University.
June 27th: Charles Cockell—Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution
In Science Salon # 27, Dr. Michael Shermer talks with Charles S. Cockell, Professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and the director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology.
June 23rd: Dr. Stephen T. Asma — Why We Need Religion
In Science Salon # 26, Dr. Michael Shermer talks with philosopher Dr. Stephen T. Asma, a Professor of Philosophy and Founding Fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture at Columbia College, Chicago.
June 20th: Exodus Matters: Did the Exodus really happen, and why does it matter if it did?
Tim Callahan reviews The Exodus: How It Happened and Why it Matters, by Richard Elliott Friedman (2017. New York: Harper One ISBN: 978-0062565242).
June 18th: Science Salon # 23: Dr. Kenneth R. Miller — The Human Instinct
Did you miss Science Salon # 23 with Dr. Ken Miller last month? The recording is now available for free viewing on Or, if you prefer to listen on your commute, download the podcast audio via iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Soundcloud.
June 15th: Conspiracy Theorists, and the Harm They Do
No event in the twentieth century did more to popularize conspiracy theories and confuse the general public than the assassination of President Kennedy. By educating people about what actually happened to JFK, and how conspiracy theorists have deliberately lied about it, James K. Lambert hopes that we can also get the general public to better see the lies (aka “fake news”) of today.
June 13th: I Am Not a Racist, And So Are You
In what sense could a man like Bret Weinstein be a racist? If he is racist, surely anyone (maybe even everyone) could be racist. Perhaps this is precisely the point. Screenwriter and filmmaker, Stephen Beckner, ponders privilege and parity in a postmodern world, weighing in on the many Grand American Shaming Experiments taking place right now, and their potentially enormous personal, political, and cultural opportunity costs.
June 11th: No, Being Religious Will Not Save You from Suicide
Jesse Bering responds to Bill Donohue’s claim that if Anthony Bourdain had been a religious man, he wouldn’t have taken his own life.
June 8th: Soul-Searching: Google as a window into our private thoughts
In his June 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael Shermer discusses Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s idea that Google searches may act as a “digital truth serum” for our deeper and darker thoughts.
June 6th: Skeptic Magazine 23.2: The Rise of the Nones and the Decline of Religion
Available Now: Skeptic Magazine 23.2 — The Rise of the Nones and the Decline of Religion; Feature: Jordan Peterson’s Evidence-Based Endeavor; MonsterTalk # 158: An interview with Richard Hatem (Part II).
May 30th: Richard Rhodes — Energy: A Human History
Listen to Science Salon # 25: a remarkable conversation between Michael Shermer and Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes as they discuss nuclear weapons, North Korea, Iran, and Russia, the psychology of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), human violence and its causes, the socialization of violence, and his new book Energy: A Human History.
May 23rd: Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science
In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) reviews Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science by Allison B. Kaufman and James C. Kaufman.
May 16th: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear
Michael Shermer reviews It’s Better Than it Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook; On MonsterTalk, Blake Smith interviews City of the Dead tour-guide Fred Fogarty about the Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Mackenzie Poltergeist.
May 9th: Five Questions about Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design
This week’s feature is an excerpt from Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, From Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, by Nathan H. Lents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2018. ISBN 9781474608343).
May 2nd: What Biology Can Teach Us About Crime and Justice
Nathan H. Lents and Lila Kazemian discuss evidence from a variety of disciplines as disparate as animal behavior and moral theology that point toward more humane, efficient, and effective responses to crime and punishment that work in concert, rather than in conflict, with our evolutionary psychology. This column appeared in Skeptic 22.4 (2017).
April 25th: Horoscopes: Reality or Trickery?
In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) reviews Horoscopes: Reality or Trickery? by Kimberly Blaker (Green Grove Press. 2018. 78 pages.), a delightful new book for children age 9–13 that encourages readers to ask questions and gives them the tools to find the answers for themselves.
April 18th: Diet Sodas: Are the Dangers in the Chemicals or the Headlines?
Headlines about recent scientific studies are notoriously unreliable. In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) examines a study that caused alarming headlines last year about the dangers of drinking diet soda. This column appeared in Skeptic 22.4 (2017).
April 11th: Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer interviews Dr. Leonard Mlodinow about his new book: Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change; and Daniel Loxton reflects on the value of listening in order to first understand paranormal beliefs and then communicate effectively with those who hold them.
April 4th: Hope and Hype for Alzheimer’s
In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) clarifies what we know and don’t know about Alzheimer’s.
March 28th: Nuclear Deterrence and its Discontents
There are skeletons in the closet of nuclear deterrence. Advocates of nuclear deterrence say nuclear weapons are not only justified, their existence seems to have worked, and to be working, right now. In this week’s eSkeptic, David Barash avers that skepticism of nuclear deterrence is long overdue.
March 21st: Skeptics Investigates: Is the Earth Flat?
There is growing conspiracy theory belief that the Earth is not a globe, but a flat disc. According to believers, government forces promote a completely fictitious model of the cosmos in order to conceal the true nature of the Earth. Daniel Loxton examines whether these claims are true.
March 14th: Hear Hear! Announcing the Science Salon Podcast. Listen Everywhere! 📻
We are pleased to announce the release of the Science Salon Podcast for your listening pleasure. Listen to Science Salon via iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and Soundcloud.
March 7th: Skeptic 23.1—Meaning & morality in a life without god
In this week’s eSkeptic: “You’re an atheist?! How do you find meaning and morality in life if there is no god?; Are we living in a post-truth world? Michael Shermer discusses congnitive and emotional biases in pursuit of the truth.
February 28th: Juicing for Health or Torture
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.
February 21st: Trouble in the Multiverse
The notion that there can be more than one universe at first seems oxymoronic. In this week’s eSkeptic, Peter Kassan discusses the problematic notion of a multiverse arising from a highly speculative interpretation of quantum mechanics. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.1 (2017). Buy this issue.
February 14th: Honor, Dignity, Victim: A Tale of Three Moral Cultures
In this week’s eSkeptic, Kevin McCaffree reviews the forthcoming book The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars (March 21, 2018) in which sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning have produced the first systematic theoretical analysis of the moral culture of “victimhood” emerging on university campuses.
February 7th: Virtual Violence
Do “violent” video games pose “as big a health risk as alcohol and drug abuse” and are they “ruining the youth of America”? In this week’s eSkeptic, Terence Hines reviews Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong, by Patrick M. Markey and Christopher J. Ferguson.
January 31st: pH Mythology: Separating pHacts from pHiction
pH diets, alkaline water, urine pH tests, pseudoscience and bogus cancer cures abound. In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. combats the plague of pH misinformation by distinguishing pHacts from pHiction. (This column appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 22.2 in 2017.)
January 17th: Unsubstantiated: A new Netflix documentary purporting to provide proof of alien visitation fails to deliver
In this week’s eSkeptic, Tim Callahan reviews Unacknowledged: An Exposé of the World’s Greatest Secret, a new Netflix documentary, purporting to provide proof of alien visitation, that fails to deliver.
January 10th: Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopiam the New book by New York Times Bestselling Author, Michael Shermer, is available now!
In his most ambitious work yet—a scientific exploration into humanity’s obsession with the afterlife and quest for immortality—bestselling author and skeptic, Michael Shermer, sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality along with utopian attempts to create heaven on earth.
January 3rd: Trial by Therapy: The Jerry Sandusky Case Revisited
In this week’s eSkeptic, Frederick Crews reviews Mark Pendergrast’s book The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment: a sustained, comprehensive case—based on detailed evidence and reasoning—that Jerry Sandusky (found guilty on 45 counts of child molestation) was, in fact, blameless.
Patreon: a new way to support the things skeptic creates

Get eSkeptic

Be in the know.

eSkeptic delivers great articles, videos, podcasts, reviews, event announcements, and more to your inbox.

Sign me up!

Donate to Skeptic

Please support the work of the Skeptics Society. Make the world a more rational place and help us defend the role of science in society.

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.

FREE PDF Download

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?

FREE PDF Download

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!

FREE PDF Download

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.

FREE PDF Download

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.

Copyright © 1992–2020. All rights reserved. The Skeptics Society | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. Privacy Policy.