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Back Issues 51–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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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.

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.

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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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