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Skeptic Magazine, Volume 4 Number 4
Table of Contents

Skeptic magazine, vol 4, no 4


In Memory of Carl Sagan 1934–1996
Star Stuff
by Tom McDonough
Carl Leaves Us
by James Randi
An Awful Hole.
A Wonderful Life.
by Michael Shermer
In Sagan’s Own Words
excerpts from
Carl Sagan’s work
’Twas Brillig…
How to Convince the Media You are Psychic & That They Need You: Sometimes a Scheme is Just So Delicious You Can Taste it!
by James Randi
1996: Dumbth is
the Year that Was
by Randy Cassingham
Early Ghostbusters
by David Alexander
The Millennium is Coming!
Cosmic Disaster in 2000
or Another Failed Prophecy? by John Mosley
What Ever Happened
to n-rays?
Robert Wood’s 1904 n-ray Letter in Nature — a Classic in Skeptical History by Terence Hines
Creationism: Bad Science
or Immoral Pseudoscience?
by Joyce Arthur


A Light in the Darkness; A Christian Skeptic; Atheists Decline into Oblivion; A Cultural Black Hole; Islamic Evolutionism; Impact Artifact; New Age is Not All Good News; The Best Win Out; Bravo Tipler!; Which Side Are You On?; Thank You Mr. Siano; Siano’s Fiction; Siano Not True Defender of PC; Siano Cracks on Bell Curve; Siano and Skeptic on Far Left ; My True Views on PC and IQ—Siano Responds; Religion Does Odd Things; No Morals in Morality; Ethical Inadequacies; Provisional Means Provisional


Darwinian Literary Science?
Evolution and Literary Theory, by Joseph Carroll
reviewed by Michelle Scalise Sugiyama
The Not-So-Amazing Kreskin
A review of How to Be a Fake Kreskin, by The Amazing Kreskin
reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss
Killing Clio Softly
with Their Siren Song
The Killing of History: How a Discipline is Being Murdered by Literary Critics and Social Theorists, by Keith Windschuttle
reviewed by Frank Miele


Darwin’s Debt; Pope Acquits Darwin; Militias American Style; Multiple Personalities; A Rebel With a Cause; Geller Tours America With New Book & Same Old Tricks; Relive the Civil War Through Regression Therapy; School Superintendent Glues Big Bang Pages in Science Text Together; If Glue Doesn’t Work Try Magic Markers or Razor Blades; Psychic Network Does Not Foresee Lawsuit; Pierre Salinger Becomes a Conspiracy Theorist; Taiwan Guru Busted For $70 Million in Fake Miracles; Mars Face Believers Stage Protest at JPL; Germany Squelches Scientology; Scientologist Purchases Assets of Cult Awareness Network; What is a Cult?; Another Recovered Memory Lawsuit Settled for $1 Million; Aromatherapy Smells Fishy; Errata Farrakhan; Afrocentrism Challenged in Milwaukee Schools; 1996 Ig Nobel Prizewinners; Extraterrestrial Highway
Detecting the
“Human Energy Field”
$742,000 Says Therapeutic
Touch is Bogus

Special Section:
Can History Be Science?

History at the Crossroads
Can History Be a Science?
Can it Afford Not to Be?
by Michael Shermer
Rebel With a Cause
An interview with Frank Sulloway
Can We Know What Really Happened in the Past?
Vivid Historical Examples Encourage Students to Think Critically
by Mark Leier
More Higher Superstitions: Knowledge, Knowingness & Reality
One of the Authors of Higher Superstition Answers His Critics
by Norman Levitt
Where is Knowingness
to be Found?
A Reply to Norman Levitt
by Richard Olson

Books in Brief

Auschwitz, by Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt; History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, by Edward T. Linethal and Tom Engelhardt (Eds.); The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery, by Richard Elliott Friedman; Seven Theories of Religion, by Daniel L. Pals; Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft, by Robin Briggs; Climbing Mount Improbable, by Richard Dawkins; Evolutionary Naturalism, by Michael Ruse; The Myth of the Framework: In Defense of Science and Rationality, by Karl R. Popper. M.A. Notturno (Editor); In Search of Nature, by Edward O. Wilson; Eros and Evolution: A Natural Philosophy of Sex, by Richard E. Michod; The Edge of the Unknown: 101 Things You Don’t Know About Science and No One Else Does Either, by James Trefil; This is True: Deputy Kills Man With Hammer and 500 Other Bizarre-but-True Stories and Headlines from the World’s Press, by Randy Cassingham; The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations: Cutting Comments on Burning Issues, by Charles Bufe (Editor); Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky, by Charles Ginenthal; Stephen J. Gould and Immanuel Velikovsky, by Dale Ann Pearlman (Editor)

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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.

FREE PDF Download

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…

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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