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Back Issues 11–present

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Junior Skeptic #64
Zombies! The Gruesome True Story

Our world has been conquered by hordes of zombies! They menace us in video games, comics, television, and movies. They lurch gruesomely down city streets in “zombie walk” events. After decades of zombie fiction, the walking dead are more popular than ever. Mindless, moaning, hungry for human flesh, zombies may be the ultimate modern monsters. They’ve spread like a virus through tales of terror and horrified imaginings. But where did the idea come from? Were zombies invented for fiction, or do they have a basis in legend—or perhaps even in reality? Could anything like fictional movie zombies actually exist in the real world? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #63
Terrible! Improbable! Chemtrails!

We’ve all heard the story of Chicken Little—a fanciful tale about panic and jumping to conclusions (“The sky is falling!”). But how would it feel to truly believe that the sky is out to get you? For believers in one strange conspiracy theory, it’s scary to see a blue sky crossed by wispy white contrail lines from passing jet planes. They claim some of those contrails are not clouds or exhaust from jet engines as they appear, but sinister “chemtrails.” Supposedly, an evil government conspiracy uses jet planes to secretly spread poison across skies worldwide. Is there any possibility this paranoid claim could be true? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #62
An Easy Guide to Baloney Detection

In this special issue of Junior Skeptic we’ll learn many valuable tricks for sorting truth from nonsense. We need them! We’re bombarded by claims every day of our lives. Friends tell us stuff. Labels and advertisements make claims about products. Books and websites make claims about the world. TV and YouTube channels show us amazing sights and tell us astonishing stories. But some of the things we hear sound too good to be true. How do we tell the difference between fact and baloney? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #61
Mammoth Mysteries! Part Two

Mammoths and mastodons were the first fossil creatures ever to be reconstructed and understood for what they were: animals that lived during a previous prehistoric age and then vanished into extinction. What did this mean for the history of life? What scientific puzzles remained to be solved? And, which mammoth myths and mysteries continue to this day? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #60
Mammoth Mysteries! Part One

In the pages of Junior Skeptic, we often look at “wild and wooly” mysteries—but today I mean that literally. In this issue we’ll explore the hidden history of mammoths and mastodons! The elephant family tree has had many oddly shaped branches. There once existed elephants with four tusks or even tusks shaped like shovels. But fossils of mammoths and mastodons weren’t just surprising—they changed science forever! Indeed, the discovery of these great shaggy prehistoric beasts overturned our understanding of the entire world. How did that happen? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #59
Man-Eating Plants

In this issue we journey into jungles, push past tangled vines, and search for something sinister: trees that are said to eat human beings! According to travellers’ tales and newspaper stories, some mysterious plants capture and consume large animals. Growing in remote regions, these bloodthirsty vegetables wait for the unwary, surrounded by the bones of their victims. Their branches stir when there is no breeze. Inviting foliage conceals thorny vines ready to seize struggling prey. Is there any truth to these tales? Could such plants truly exist? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #58
Haunted Houses

In this issue we’ll summon our courage, light a candle, and venture inside the ancient horror of haunted houses. Imagine walking dark hallways, peering into abandoned rooms. We strain to recognize unfamiliar shapes in the shadows. A cold draft stirs the cobwebs; outside, wind moans through the trees. We climb creaking stairs up into the unknown. Ahead of us, we — wait, did you hear something? Were those…footsteps? Our skin prickles with fear and tension. Breathless, trembling, we call into the darkness, “Is somebody there?”

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Junior Skeptic #57
Flying Saucer “Space Brothers” from Venus!?

In this issue we’ll hear tales from a man who said he met flying saucer travellers—human beings from Venus and several other planets! Amateur astronomer George Adamski became famous in the 1950s for photographs of objects he said were alien spaceships. His stories only got wilder from there. He claimed he befriended saucer people, rode in their spaceships, and even attended a meeting on Saturn. His books about these adventures became a public sensation. But what was the truth behind Adamski’s storytelling? Find out in this issue of Junior Skeptic!

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Junior Skeptic #56
Bat-People on the Moon!

What’s that you say? The Moon obviously can’t have unicorns because it doesn’t even have air to breathe? Well, sure, that’s a good point. But what if I told you the world’s most popular newspaper once announced the discovery of these and many other fantastical lunar lifeforms? Moreover, people believed those claims. How on Earth were New York City newspaper readers taken in by a far-fetched fantasy about flying Moon-bats? Find out in this issue of Junior Skeptic!

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Junior Skeptic #55
Journey Inside the Fantastical Hollow Earth: Part Two

In this issue of Junior Skeptic, we’ll dig down further into wild and wonderful claims that there are secret worlds inside our planet, hidden beneath our feet. We learned last issue that the “Hollow Earth” began as a quirky but serious proposal by astronomer Edmond Halley, back in the earliest dawn of the scientific age. This idea was then promoted by eccentric thinkers such as John Cleves Symmes, who believed the interior could be entered through vast holes at the unexplored North and South Poles. But what happened when exploration and increasing scientific knowledge left these speculations behind? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #54
Journey Inside the Fantastical Hollow Earth

Could unknown civilizations rule undiscovered realms deep underground? Might prehistoric beasts stalk through jungles far below our feet? These ideas have long inspired writers of science fiction and adventure stories. For example, the 2009 animated film Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was based on them. But for some people the “Hollow Earth” is more than just a make-believe story. How did people find their way into such a fantastic belief?

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Junior Skeptic #53
Flat Earth?! The Convoluted Story of a Flatly Mistaken Idea

Imagine if someone were to ask you, “What shape is the Earth?” It’s likely you’d answer “round,” or describe our world as a ball (or globe or sphere) in space. I would too! But what if you met someone who insisted that the Earth is nothing like a ball, but instead is as flat as a pancake? How could they possibly defend such a peculiar notion? And are there really people who believe this?

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Junior Skeptic #52
Photographing Phantoms—Part Two

Shortly after it was invented by the slippery Mr. Mumler and his wife, other photographers said they too could capture ghosts on film. Why did so many people believe these claims? If any spirit photographs were genuine—could we tell? And with tricksters trying to fool people, how could folks detect photographic fakery?

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Junior Skeptic #51
Photographing Phantoms—Part One

In this issue, we’ll delve into the mystery of spirit photographs! When photography was invented, it seemed almost magical. This astonishing technology could capture a moment and keep it frozen forever. Photographs also showed people things they couldn’t see in everyday life, such as faint stars and distant lands. But could the magic of photography also reveal a hidden reality—a spirit realm of invisible ghosts?

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Junior Skeptic #50
Carl Sagan

To celebrate 50 issues of Junior Skeptic, we turn to the story of one of skepticism’s most inspiring people: astronomer Carl Sagan! Sagan was a skinny kid from Brooklyn who grew up to become one of America’s most famous scientists. He dedicated his life to two astonishing projects: teaching millions of regular folks about the power and beauty of science, and searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life! But skeptics remember Sagan for something even more unusual: his passionate, lifelong pursuit of the truth about paranormal mysteries!

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Junior Skeptic #49
The Ping-Pong Planets of Dr. Velikovsky

What if everything scientists have discovered about the history of the Earth—the evolution of life, the ice ages, the movements of the continents, all of it—was completely wrong? And what if that was just the tip of the iceberg? What if the planets of our solar system had often careened out of their orbits like wrecking balls, bringing catastrophe to the cultures of the ancient world—and then humanity forgot that it happened? Could any of that be true? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #48
Mermaids

In this issue, we’ll look at the ancient legend of mermaids! For many centuries, tales have been told of fish-tailed people who live beneath the sea. Today, big-budget television specials claim that these stories are true. Could such creatures really exist? Or if these underwater beings are purely mythological, can we explain sightings of mermaids and the strange, mummified, fish-tailed bodies exhibited in museums?

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Junior Skeptic #47
Alien Invaders!

In this issue, we look at the topic of alien invasions. Where did we get our ideas about being attacked from “outside”—from other lands, or from outer space? How has this idea been expressed in stories? How do exotic species here on Earth “invade” new regions? Can life forms from one planet really invade another? And, as we look at those questions, remember: the space slugs are our friends! Obey all space slugs!

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Junior Skeptic #46
Ghostbuster Girls!

In this issue of Junior Skeptic, we look at two women who worked during the first half of the twentieth century: Mary Sullivan and Rose Mackenberg. Both did hard core skeptical investigations. Both worked in law enforcement, catching fake psychic crooks—and putting them behind bars. And yet, both women are almost completely forgotten today. Who were these skeptics—and why did they do what they did?

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Junior Skeptic #45
Dark Secrets of the Oracle-Monger

For thousands of years, unscrupulous people have tried to make easy money by pretending to have supernatural powers—and for thousands of years, skeptics have worked to expose those crooked schemes. In this issue, we travel back to the ancient Roman Empire to unravel the tangled tale of the snake god Glycon and Alexander the Oracle Monger.

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Junior Skeptic #44
Mokele Mbembe, sauropod dinosaur

According to stories, Mokele Mbembe is a type of long-necked sauropod dinosaur still living in the heart of Africa. Could dinosaurs still roam the remote regions of the Earth? This question obsessed and inspired me as a kid, just as it inspired generations before me. Could it be possible? And if it is possible—could it be true? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #43
The Mighty Moa!

In this issue, we’ll learn the story of the flightless moa birds of New Zealand who were among the largest birds ever to exist! They evolved striking similarities to other animals from other times and places, before vanishing from the Earth. But if moas are extinct, why are they (according to claims) still spotted alive in the wild?

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Junior Skeptic #42
Fossil Fakes, Part 2

In this issue, we’ll look at more famous cases, and also ask: Why are fossils that are merely out of place also considered fossil fakes? And how much long-term mischief can fakery cause for the scientists who are working to understand the history of life? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #41
Fossil Fakes, Part 1

Fossils teach scientists about life in the distant past. But there are artists and tricksters who create fake fossils. What kind of mischief can these cause? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #40
The Kraken!

We’ll look at the legend of the terrifying, tentacled monster called the Kraken. Some early scientists argued that it did — and some sailors claimed they saw it with their own eyes! Now hold onto your hats while we… “Release the Kraken!”

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Junior Skeptic #39
Skeptical Investigation

We’ll see how skepticism’s roots go back more than 2,000 years, and learn how science gave rise to specialized new scholars — experts in paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. How do investigators solve spooky mysteries? And, can kids solve mysteries on their own?

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Junior Skeptic #38
The Origin of the Griffin

Today, griffins are considered mythical, and are best known from fantasy fiction such as Harry Potter. But for a thousand years, people in Europe believed that griffins were living animals in far-off lands. Where did this idea come from — and could griffins be based on something real?

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Junior Skeptic #37
Top 10 busted Myths

Hold onto your hats for Junior Skeptic’s whirlwind tour of the “Top 10 Busted Myths.” From Roswell to homeopathy, dowsing to ghost orb photography, this issue explores some of the worst paranormal cases of all time!

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Junior Skeptic #36
The Cottingley Fairies

Like many fairy tales, it’s a story with some lessons to teach. One is that it’s foolish to underestimate kids. Another is that you shouldn’t believe everything you see! How did two girls fool the world’s greatest writer of detective stories? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic #35
The Shocking Secret of Thetis Lake

How did one of the silliest cases in the history of cryptozoology become a lasting part of monster lore? Could there really be a humanoid fish-man in tiny Thetis Lake? And, if the creature is real — why does it look exactly like a monster from a low-budget horror movie?

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Junior Skeptic #34
40 Years of Scooby-Doo

How did one of history’s purest skeptical TV shows become one of the most beloved fictional creations of all time? And, what important lessons does this kids’ cartoon hold for skeptics today? Celebrate 40 years of Scooby-Doo!

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Junior Skeptic #33
Cold Reading

How can you convince a complete stranger that you know everything about them? “Cold reading” expert Ian Rowland shows us how people can create the illusion that they can read minds. Could you be fooled by tricks like these? Yes!

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Junior Skeptic #32
Great American Skeptics

From Ben Franklin’s debunking of a magical healing scheme to the skeptical milestones Johnny Carson made possible on The Tonight Show, find out how world-famous figures from American history also helped shed light on weird paranormal mysteries!

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Junior Skeptic #31
Crystal Skulls

The mind-reading crystal skull featured in the newest Indiana Jones movie was based on mysterious real quartz crystal skulls. What are they? Where did they come from? Could they be alien or Atlantean artifacts? And what of the strange powers they are said to possess?

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Junior Skeptic #30
Dragons

Dragon mythology stretches back to our most ancient writings. Almost every culture around the globe has told tales of huge, fearsome reptile monsters. Could the many myths of dragons be based on something real?

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Junior Skeptic #29
Ancient Astronauts (Part 2 of 2)

Could the greatest monuments of the ancient world really be artifacts left by alien visitors? Who really built the pyramids, or the vast Nazca lines? Who erected the awesome statues on remote Easter Island, or mighty Stonehenge?

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Junior Skeptic #28
Ancient Astronauts (Part 1 of 2)

Could the greatest monuments of the ancient world really be artifacts left by alien visitors? According to Erich von Däniken, everything archaeologists think they know is wrong…

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Junior Skeptic #27
Evolution (Part 2 of 2)

Learn the answers to many common questions about evolution: If apes evolved into humans, why are there still apes? Has anyone ever actually seen anything evolve? And, what about religion?

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Junior Skeptic #26
Evolution (Part 1 of 2)

For thousands of years, people have been working out the history of our planet — and trying to solve the mystery of the fossils. Learn how they discovered evolution, and how we know it happened.

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Junior Skeptic #25
Alien Abduction (Part 2 of 2)

Thousands of people claim they personally were abducted by aliens. Can they all be mistaken? Probe into the strange world of alien abduction therapy, repressed memories, and hypnosis…

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Junior Skeptic #24
Alien Abduction (Part 1 of 2)

Thanks to movies and TV, we all know what the terrifying “gray” aliens look like, and why they are here: to abduct people from their beds for bizarre medical exams aboard UFOs. But where did this legend come from — and how has it changed over time?

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Junior Skeptic #23
Pyramid Power

Many people believe pyramids can harness strange supernatural energies. Some say pyramids can magically preserve fruit, or even sharpen steel razor blades. Who are the people who make these claims — and why? (Featuring MythBuster Kari Byron.)
Read background materials

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Junior Skeptic #22
Madman of Magic!

In a special all-magic issue, magician and author Bob Friedhoffer shares six slick tricks — and the science behind them!

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Junior Skeptic #21
Bigfoot (part 2 of 2)

In this issue, we examine the overall case for Bigfoot. Believers offer a staggering mountain of evidence: footprints, movies, the stories of eyewitnesses — even hair samples. Can there really be so much smoke without a fire?

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Junior Skeptic #20
Bigfoot (part 1 of 2)

Deep in the forests and mountains of the West Coast of North America, giants are said to walk. Bigfoot is an enduring cryptozoological mystery — but it wasn’t always so. Learn how the legend began — and how the “sasquatch” myth evolved over time…

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Junior Skeptic #19
The Loch Ness Monster

In Scotland, at a lake called Loch Ness, dragons are said to stir. Modern legends speak of huge, elusive, fearsome beasts lurking in the murky depths. Could the stories be true? Find out what seven decades of investigators have learned…

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Junior Skeptic #18
The Curse of King Tut

For over 3000 years, the tomb of a teenage god-king lay preserved beneath the sands of Egypt. When explorers uncovered his fabulous treasures, did they also unleash a terrifying supernatural killer?

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Junior Skeptic #17
The Bermuda Triangle

According to legend, there is a place where boats, ships, and even powerful military aircraft sometimes sail out into calm, clear weather… and then just vanish, without a trace. And here’s the thing: people do vanish in the Bermuda Triangle…

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Junior Skeptic #16
The Yeti

For 150 years, scientists and adventurers have asked: do the dizzying, frozen heights of the highest mountains on Earth conceal a shaggy, unknown beast? What is the yeti — and is it possible that we’ve had the answer all along?

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Junior Skeptic #15
Alien Life

Are we alone in the universe? It is perhaps the greatest unsolved mystery of all time. Are the imaginings of science fiction writers the only answer we’ll ever have — or can humans search out the truth?

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Junior Skeptic #14
Cadborosaurus & Sea Serpents

According to legend, a vast and awesome monster slides through the frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest, sliding undetected between green islands and through the drizzling rain. It is said to be an 80-foot predator, called Cadborosaurus. Could it really exist?

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Junior Skeptic #13
Bad Medicine

Without scalpel or anesthetic, a “psychic surgeon” reaches inside another person's body and removes cancerous tumors with his bare hands. He then shows that the incision has healed instantly, without stitches or even a scar. Is it a miracle — or a deadly scam?

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Junior Skeptic #12
Pick a Card…

This is an abbreviated, two-page issue of Junior Skeptic, comprising a card trick by “Madman of Magic” Bob Friedhoffer.

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Junior Skeptic #11
The Moon Landing “Hoax”

Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the Moon represented one of humanity’s all-time greatest achievements. Yet, there are those who say it never happened — and they claim they can prove it. Was the moon-landing a hoax created with Hollywood special effects?

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Detecting Baloney

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

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

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

FREE 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. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.

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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.

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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 why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one 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

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They 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.

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