The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Urban Legends
(issue #5)

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Junior Skeptic can also be found within this issue of Skeptic magazine.

on the cover

Dr. Brunvand is one of America’s leading folklorists, and his specialty is the Urban Legend. He has written a number of fascinating and funny books of collections and explanations of Urban Legends including: The Vanishing Hitchhiker; The Choking Doberman; The Mexican Pet; Curses, Broiled Again; and The Baby Train.


From alligators in the sewers to spiders nesting in our hair, urban legends have a life of their own. Learn how they work, how they spread, and why people believe them. And, learn the truth about the what may be the most “urban” legend of them all — cow-tipping.

in this issue

Urban Legends
  • how to spot an urban legend
  • famous phony stories
  • how urban legends change to fit new circumstances
  • fake warnings —┬áthe sky is falling!
  • the most urban legend of all: cow-tipping
  • how to create an urban legend
  • Bob Friedhoffer’s Madman of Magic: The Magic of Stephen Hawking


Amanda Chesworth, John Coulter, Bob Friedhoffer, Michael Gilmore, Andrew Harter, Pat Linse, and Dr. Thomas McDonough


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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 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

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?

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…

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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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