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SKEPTIC 26.4: HAVANA SYNDROME HYSTERIA

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Here’s what you’ll find in Skeptic Magazine 26.4 (2021): Havana Syndrome Hysteria and the Great Wild Goose Chase • Stupid Videos and Marketing Ploys • Environmental Conspiracies: Why do conspiracy theorists believe natural events are intentionally manipulated? • “You Can’t Say That!” Corporate Policing of Language • Excerpt from The Conjurer’s Conundrum: My Life in Magic & Skepticism • Vexed by the Un-Vaxxed • Misunderstanding Vaccines • Why Would God Create the Universe? • Distorting Darwinism • Electro-hypersensitivity as a New Psychological Disorder • Reviews of Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity; Mysteries and Secrets Revealed; The Conjurer’s Conundrum; The Century of Deception • Special Investigation: Penguin Paradox — Serious Skeptical Lessons from an Apparently Silly Story

The print edition will begin shipping mid-December. Pre-order the print edition, or download the digital edition today.

Havana Syndrome Hysteria and the Great Wild Goose Chase (2-page spread from issue 26.4)

Color spread from the digital edition viewed in the PocketMags.com Reader. Cover and Cover Story illustrations by Izhar Cohen.

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If you downloaded issue 26.4 before Dec 9, there is an updated version available. Delete issue 26.4 from your digital library and redownload it to get the latest version.

EPISODE # 234

Matt Ridley on the Search for the Origin of COVID-19: zoonotic spillover from nature or accidental lab leak?

A new virus descended on the human species in 2019 wreaking unprecedented havoc. Finding out where it came from and how it first jumped into people is an urgent priority, but early expectations that this would prove an easy question to answer have been dashed. Nearly two years into the pandemic, the crucial mystery of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is not only unresolved but has deepened.

In this conversation based on the uniquely insightful book, Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19, Matt Ridley reviews how he and his co-author Alina Chan have tried to get to the bottom of how a virus whose closest relations live in bats in subtropical southern China somehow managed to begin spreading among people more than 1,500 kilometers away in the city of Wuhan. They grapple with the baffling fact that the virus left none of the expected traces that such outbreaks usually create: no infected market animals or wildlife, no chains of early cases in travelers to the city, no smoldering epidemic in a rural area, no rapid adaptation of the virus to its new host — human beings.

To try to solve this pressing mystery, Ridley delves deep into the events of 2019 leading up to 2021, the details of what went on in animal markets and virology laboratories, the records and data hidden from sight within archived Chinese theses and websites, and the clues that can be coaxed from the very text of the virus’s own genetic code.

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SUBSTACK RECAP

Trans Athletes and Conflicting Rights

MTF transgender swimmer Lia Thomas from Penn is crushing the female competition. Is that her right? Is it right? No. Here’s why.

Abortion: The Case for Choice

Part 1 of a 3-part series on binary thinking, conflicting rights, bodily autonomy, potential life, and how to reduce unwanted pregnancies

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Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

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Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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