The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


The Reading Room

The Reading Room is a comprehensive, free resource of articles relating to science and skepticism. The Library contains an ever-growing index of articles, reviews and opinion editorials culled from our extensive archives, offering an in depth look into the myriad of subjects the Skeptics Society has explored over the years. You can help us continue to expand on the Reading Room by donating to the Skeptics Society.

Was Cleopatra Black?

Feb 11, 2021

John Henrik Clarke Says Yes From African Warrior Queens “More nonsense has been written about Cleopatra than about any other African queen, mainly because it has been the desire of many writers to paint her white. She was not a white woman until the emergence of the doctrine of white superiority, Cleopatra was generally pictured […]


Afrocentric Pseudoscience & Pseudohistory

Feb 11, 2021

There is a lot of high-quality, constructive Afrocentric scholarship. As in most fields, however, there are fringe groups and extraordinary claims that grab our attention because of their extremism, and, occasionally, their absurdity. Since it is our job at Skeptic magazine to track these groups and claims, we bring them to our reader’s attention. This is not to imply that all or most African-American scientists and historians believe such claims. The recent surge of these beliefs, however, especially when supported by such recognizable names as Louis Farrakhan, is alarming. Here are just a few quotes emblematic of this extreme.


Beyond Race
Fallacies of Reactive Afrocentrism

Feb 11, 2021 by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Since one of the themes of Skeptic is the study of the power of belief systems to shape our interpretation of nature and history, the Afrocentric paradigm should be treated no different from others. That is, a healthy dollop of skepticism and critical thinking is appropriate.


Stolen Legacy (or Mythical History?)
Did the Greeks Steal Philosophy From the Egyptians?

Feb 11, 2021 by Mary Lefkowitz

“It is of course possible to sympathize with James, and with his anger at a society that has paid little tribute to real African achievement. Unfortunately Stolen Legacy not only does not help the Afrocentric cause, it hinders it.” Since its publication in 1954 Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James, has been a best-seller […]


QAnon Is Just a Warmed Over Witch Panic — and It’s Also Very Dangerous

Jan 14, 2021 by Daniel Loxton

In this cover story article (written in October 2020) for Skeptic magazine 25.4 (December 2020), Daniel Loxton considers the unsavory origins and rising threat of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Written prior to the deadly QAnon-led occupation of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021, this analysis exposes the conspiracy theory as baseless, unoriginal, and harmful for believers and society at large.


Lizard People, 5G and the Nashville Bomber

Jan 05, 2021 by Tim Callahan

Perhaps one of the most bizarre beliefs rampant in modern times is that malign, shape-shifting reptilian extraterrestrial invaders, disguised as human beings, secretly control the governments of the world. It is possible that we recently experienced a violent consequence of that belief.


Psychological Risks with COVID-19 Vaccines

Dec 21, 2020 by Robert E. Bartholomew & Kate MacKrill

Reports about allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines will undoubtedly cause anxiety in people. Robert E. Bartholomew & Kate MacKrill remind us that, if history is a guide — and given the large number of people to be vaccinated — a mass anxiety event is not improbable.


Havana Syndrome Skepticism

Dec 10, 2020 by Robert E. Bartholomew

A report by the National Academy of Sciences says microwaves caused an array of mysterious health complaints at the American embassy in Cuba. Robert E. Bartholomew reminds us why we should be skeptical. It was probably psychogenic.


Respecting Nature, Respecting People
A Naturalist Model for Reducing Speciesism, Racism, and Bigotry

Oct 27, 2020 by Mark W. Moffett

During a time when racism, bigotry, and even speciesism has become a topic of national conversation, evolutionary biologist and National Geographic photographer Mark Moffett @DoctorBugs considers how we might reduce them through what we’ve learned about how individual organisms within a species came to develop these characteristic.


A Report from the Paranormal Trenches

Oct 24, 2020 by James “The Amazing” Randi

A classic lecture on skepticism was given by James Randi on March 22, 1992 at the inaugural session of the Distinguished Science Lecture Series hosted by Michael Shermer and presented by The Skeptics Society in California (1992–2015). With wit and wonderfully illustrative examples, Randi teaches us several lessons on the scientific investigation of unusual claims.


Replicating Milgram
A Study on Why People Commit Evil Deeds

Oct 02, 2020 by Michael Shermer

Dr. Michael Shermer, working with Chris Hansen and Dateline NBC producers in 2010, replicated a number of classic psychology experiments, including Stanley Milgram’s famous shock experiments. Here’s a summary of that research along with the two-part video from the Dateline NBC show, called “What Were You Thinking?”


Do Diversity Training Programs Work?
Creating a Culture of Inclusion through Scientific Reasoning

Sep 25, 2020 by Mona Sue Weissmark

Agenda-driven diversity and antiracism training programs are everywhere, but do they work in creating an inclusive culture? In our current climate of high racial tensions and deadlocked civil discourse, Dr. Mona Sue Weissmark asks “Is there a more effective way to break down these conversation barriers in order to answer some of the most difficult, polarizing questions that we face today?”


Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS)
Is It Real?

Aug 21, 2020 by Harriet Hall, M.D.
child wearing VR headset

Is Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS) real? Is it a disease? An addiction? Do violent video games cause aggression? Can playing video games have positive effects? In this column from Skeptic magazine 25.2 (2020), Harriet Hall, M.D. examines ESS and shares the science.


Suffrage & Success
Celebrating the Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote

Aug 18, 2020 by Michael Shermer

Today, August 18, marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing women the right to vote. We honor that momentous event with an excerpt adapted from the chapter on women’s rights in Dr. Shermer’s 2015 book The Moral Arc.


Fat Man & Little Boy

Aug 07, 2020 by Michael Shermer

On the 75th anniversary of nuclear weapons, Dr. Michael Shermer presents a moral case for their use in ending WWII and the deterrence of Great Power wars since, and a call to eventually eliminate them.


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Retrospective

Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

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

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.

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.

FREE PDF Download

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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