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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.

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.


Why People Believe Conspiracy Theories

Jul 17, 2020 by Michael Shermer

What is a conspiracy, and how does it differ from a conspiracy theory? Michael Shermer explains who believes conspiracy theories and why they believe them in the following essay, derived from Lecture 1 of his 12-lecture Audible Original course titled “Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories: What We Should Believe and Why.”


Wear a Mask, But Act as If It Doesn’t Work

Jun 29, 2020 by Harriet Hall, M.D.

Masks have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but instead of believing the evidence and following public health guidelines, many people have turned mask wearing into a political statement. They are refusing to wear masks for reasons that are laughable. Rejecting masks is selfish: it means they don’t care if other people get sick and die. Here’s what Harriet Hall, M.D., The SkepDoc, has to say about it.


The Truth About Post-Truth Truthiness

Jun 25, 2020 by Michael Shermer

Is post-truth the political subordination of reality? Is truth itself any more under threat today that in the past? Have the populists & postmodernists won the day? In response to Dr. Lee McIntyre’s essay, Dr. Michael Shermer asserts that people are not nearly as gullible as some believe.


Why We Are Living in a Post-Truth Era

Jun 25, 2020 by Lee McIntyre

Are we living in a Post-Truth era of fake news and alternative facts? Dr. Lee McIntyre avers that we must take seriously the threat to truth posed both by those who would subvert the truth for political gain, and also by those who would deny that such a threat actually exists.


The Mystery of Göbekli Tepe
A New Chapter in History

Jun 09, 2020 by Robert Adam Schneiker
View of Göbekli Tepe excavation

Archaeologists believed that construction of megalithic monuments were beyond the capabilities of hunter-gatherers until they discovered Göbekli Tepe, a 12,000 year old site in Turkey. Is it proof of a lost civilization, or is there another answer?


Travels Within the Feminist Divide

Jun 02, 2020 by Carol Tavris

In this column social psychologist Carol Tavris discusses two new books whose authors separate what’s right in the pursuit of justice from what’s self-righteous. As skeptics, they repudiate received wisdom and party loyalty, showing that by separating what we wish for from wishful thinking, we can find better, more creative, more flexible routes to attaining the former.


Wicked Games
Lance Armstrong, Forgiveness and Redemption, and a Game Theory of Doping

May 31, 2020 by Michael Shermer

Part 2 of the documentary film “Lance” airs tonight on ESPN and served as a catalyst for this article that employs game theory to understand why athletes dope even when they don’t want to, as well as thoughts on forgiveness and redemption. The article is a follow up to and extension of Dr. Shermer’s article in the April 2008 issue of Scientific American.


Woke Gone Wild

May 05, 2020 by Frank S. Robinson

Frank S. Robinson reviews The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies by Robert Boyers.


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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

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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