The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Skeptic Magazine, Volume 22 Number 2
Table of Contents

Skeptic magazine, vol 22, no 2 (cover)

Special Section: Artificial Intelligence Danger

Why We Should Be Concerned About Artificial Superintelligence
by Matthew Graves
Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat?
by Michael Shermer
Artificial Intelligence: Simulation, Not Synthesis
by Peter Kassan


Think Again
A Review of Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas, by Steven Poole
reviewed by Michael Shermer
The Ultimate Trade Off
A Review of How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality, by Richard G. Bribiescas
reviewed by Michael Shermer
Playing Whack-a-Mole with Science Deniers
A Review of Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science, by Dave Levitan
reviewed by Glenn Branch
Frauds and Cons
Four books on the art of deception: Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and and Swindles in American History, by Nate Hendley; Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff, by Edward J. Balliesen; Houdini’s ‘Girl Detective’, compiled by Tony Wolf; The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For it…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova
reviewed by Michelle Ainsworth
Any Sufficiently Advanced Human is Indistinguishable from God
A Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari
reviewed by Michael Shermer


The SkepDoc
pH Mythology: Separating pHacts from pHiction
by Harriet Hall, M.D.
The Gadfly
Are You An Unconscious Racist?
by Carol Tavris


The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America
by George Michael
Delusions of the Imagination
How an Early 19th Century Medical Quack Device—The “Tractor”—Was Debunked by One of the Earliest Single Blind Placebo Studies
by Terence Hines
Area 51: What is Really Going on There?
UFOs and U-2s, Aliens and A-12s
by Donald R. Prothero
Is Race a Useful Concept?
by Razib Khan and Brian B. Boutwell
The Three Shades of Atheism
How Atheists Differ in Their Views
by Brittany Page and Douglas J. Navarick

Junior Skeptic


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!

By Daniel Loxton. This issue’s cover features a digital painting by Daniel Loxton.

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