The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Testicle Tanning and Perineal Sunning

Harriet Hall, M.D. examines the evidence that “testicle tanning” or red light therapy increases testosterone levels. She also discusses a related fad: butthole tanning, also known as butt-chugging, but better described as perineal sunning. Why do people fall for these fads? The answer is complex.

Published November 24, 2022 by Harriet Hall, M.D.

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: On Race and Jane Elliott’s Famous Experiment on Prejudice

One of the most famous experiments in education — Jane Elliott’s “blue eyes, brown eyes” separation of her third grade students to teach them about prejudice — was very different from what the public was told, as revealed in this excerpt from the in-depth story about what really happened in that classroom.

Published November 22, 2022 by Stephen G. Bloom

Race & Medicine

If race is a social construct with no meaningful biological foundation, then why do medical doctors and researchers collect information about a patient’s race, along with gender and other characteristics? Harriet Hall considers the concept of race from a medical perspective: what we know, what we don’t know, and what difference it makes.

Published November 15, 2022 by Harriet Hall, M.D.

Why Race Matters

Michael Shermer introduces the theme of Skeptic magazine volume 27, number 3: Race Matters.

Published November 10, 2022 by Michael Shermer

What Chiropractic Research Teaches Us About the Replication Crisis in Science

For nearly 20 years, Michael Menke was an influential chiropractor. In this column, he describes a meta-analysis he conducted to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic, which ultimately led him to abandon the practice and pursue a career in quantitative research.

Published November 7, 2022 by J. Michael Menke

Not Rigged! How We Know Recent Elections Are Not Fraudulent

Over the last six years, allegations of stolen elections and massive election fraud have proliferated in the United States. The significance of claims that the results of one election—let alone several—were fraudulent, cannot be overstated. When citizens believe an election has been stolen, chaos, riots, and the potential collapse of political systems ensue. That means the question of whether an election was stolen or rigged should demand the highest level of scrutiny and the highest degree of skepticism. In this Skeptic exclusive, published one week before the 2022 midterm elections, Isaac Saul investigates the most serious claims of election fraud.

Published November 1, 2022 by Isaac Saul

Meta Ethics: Toward a Universal Ethics — How Science & Reason Can Give Us Objective Moral Truths Without God

Ever since the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume outlined the “Is-Ought” problem—that we cannot derive an ought from an is, or we cannot determine the way something ought to be morally based on the way things are in nature (the classic example being slavery—because ants practice slavery that doesn’t make it natural and therefore acceptable for humans to practice slavery)—people have struggled to figure out on what basis should moral values be grounded. Of course, theists argue that God is that grounding, but what if you don’t believe in God? Is everything relative, including murder? In this article psychologist Gary Whittenberger offers an argument grounded in science and reason for determining objective moral truths.

Published October 4, 2022 by Gary J. Whittenberger

Anti-Abortion: The Case for Life

Abortion is one of the most relevant issues of our time. As with many other subjects capable of arousing strong emotion, people tend to assume that the U.S. public is evenly divided, in this case between the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” positions. And some frequently cited polling would lead you to believe that it is indeed […]

Published September 27, 2022 by Danielle d’Souza Gill

The Discoverie of Magic

In this review of the new David Copperfield book on the history of magic our Skeptic magic historian and reviewer Michelle Ainsworth offers a concise history of the profession through the lens of the photographer who provided the illustrious photographs for the volume, based on Copperfield’s own museum and collection, including and most noteworthy artifacts from the most famous magician in history, Harry Houdini. Enjoy this gorgeous production through our review.

Published September 20, 2022 review by Michelle Ainsworth

Holy Relics, Holy Places, Wholly Fiction

Holy relics like the Ark of the Covenant, Moses’s Ten Commandment stone tablets, the Holy Grail, the chalice from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, The Spear of Destiny, and the like, are the stuff of myth, legend, Hollywood movies, and even Nazi villains, but what is the real story behind the myths? In this insightful analysis Skeptic magazine religion editor Tim Callahan reveals what we know and don’t know about these legendary icons.

Published September 13, 2022 by Tim Callahan

Abortion: The Case for Choice

The Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice positions on the contentious abortion issue outline the terms of the debate. In this article Michael Shermer defends the position of choice and women’s reproductive rights as the most moral and rational position, even while acknowledging that Pro-Life proponents have good arguments. Ultimately this issues comes down to conflicting rights, namely those of the unborn fetus to live and those of the mother to choose what is best for her life. As in most matters in life, there are no perfect solutions, only compromises.

Published September 6, 2022 by Michael Shermer

Deepfake: How to Determine if a Doctored Photograph, Video, or Audio Recording is Real

As computer’s grow ever more powerful and computer programs—especially those involved in voice and image manipulation—the threat of “deepfakes” grows, and with it the problem of both personal and national crisis looms. Personally, someone could created a deepfake sex tape of someone and blackmail them; nationally, a foreign power could create a video of a President or Prime Minister making remarks of a threatening nature, that could then be used as an excuse for military action (a “false flag” operation). In this article tools are provided for how to detect deepfakes.

Published August 30, 2022 by Tim Redmond

The Science of Abortion 

The issue of abortion has never been more polarizing and much of the controversy surrounds medical claims about the procedure which Harriet Hall, MD (aka the SkepDoc) addresses in this article for our special issue on Abortion Matters. What does medical science say about when life begins? When can a fetus survive outside the body of the mother? When does the fetal heartbeat become detectable? What are the short-term and long-term consequences of undergoing an abortion? What are the risks of not undergoing an abortion and carrying to term a fetus? These and other such crucial questions are answered to the best of science’s knowledge.

Published August 23, 2022 by Harriet Hall, M.D.

Big Pharma’s Cynical Search for a Female Sex Drug

Ever since the invention of Viagra for ED, there has been a scramble to find the female equivalent, whatever that would be, often described as “female sexual dysfunction.” In this article, the renowned social psychologist Carol Tavris reviews the many claims by pharmaceutical companies that they had created such a drug, and why the problem is so much more challenging than initially thought.

Published August 16, 2022 by Carol Tavris

Inequality & Rejection: A Data-Driven Look Into Men’s Attitudes Toward Abortion

Although abortion is often framed as a women’s issue, men make up half of the electorate and are more often pro-life. In this study the Skeptic Research Center report on men’s attitudes toward abortion is considered in the larger context of the national abortion debate, which has intensified since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women a Constitutional right to choose abortion.

Published August 9, 2022 by Kevin Mccaffree & Anondah Saide

The Gimbal Video: Genuine UFO or Camera Artifact?

In recent years the UFO phenomena has reached a new fever pitch over a handful of grainy videos and blurry photographs under the rubric of UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. What are those objects in the videos and photographs? Alien spacecraft? Russian or Chinese spy drones? In this masterclass in analytical reasoning based on what little there is to assess, Mick West argues that the most famous of the UAPs, the Gimbal video, is most likely an artifact of the camera used to film it.

Published August 2, 2022 by Mick West

ESP Debate: Is Belief in ESP Irrational?

A three-part debate between Steven Pinker and Brian D. Josephson, initiated from a private email exchange in which Josephson challenged Pinker’s claims in a BBC radio program that there is no rational reason to believe in ESP. Here, Pinker first makes his case, followed by Josephson’s critique, and then Pinker’s response to that critique. As is our custom, we prefer to steel-man a position someone else holds, especially with a controversial subject like ESP, but better still is to have a proponent of it make the case for believing in it.

Published July 26, 2022 by Steven Pinker vs. Brian D. Josephson

Upending Civilization

One of the surprise bestselling books of 2022 is David Graeber’s and David Wengrow’s book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, in which they attempt to upend the standard and widely accepted model of how Hunter-Gatherer bands and tribes developed into chiefdoms and states. How accurate is their alternative history of humanity? In this review essay, Chris Edwards considers the evidence as presented in this compelling book.

Published July 19, 2022 by Chris Edwards

WiFi Woes: The Rollout of 5G Reawakens Wireless Fear

With the widespread use of cell phone towers and internet technology, concerns have arisen over health effects of wireless energy, most notably with the recent introduction of Fifth Generation (5G) wireless network technology. Public health expert Raymond Barglow reviews the epidemiological data and science behind these concerns and shows that there is, in fact, nothing to worry about.

Published July 12, 2022 by Raymond Barglow

Trans Athletes and Conflicting Rights: Male-to-Female transgender swimmer Lia Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania is crushing the female competition. Is that her right? Is it right? No. Here’s why.

Trans rights are human rights, but rights do not mean that any of us can do anything we like any time. There are restrictions on our actions, and when there are conflicting rights something must give. In this article on trans athletes, Michael Shermer explains why Male-to-Female trans athletes competing in women’s sports is unfair and a threat to the hard-earned rights of women to compete in their own athletic divisions, and why biological males that have gone through puberty cannot be considered equal to women with just a year of hormone suppression therapy.

Published July 5, 2022 by Michael Shermer
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