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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.

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.


Claims About a Government “UFO Program”
How Much is True?

May 01, 2020 by Robert Sheaffer

The media keeps making claims that the Pentagon supposedly announced that UFOs are ‘real.’ How much of that is really true? Robert Sheaffer — a leading skeptical investigator of UFOs — separates the facts from the hype.


The Fountain of Youth
& Other Anti‑Aging Myths

Mar 24, 2020 by Harriet Hall, M.D.

A spring whose waters restore the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in them is a myth that dates back to prehistoric times. Harriet Hall, M.D. reminds us that though many wines improve with age, human bodies don’t; we deteriorate.


Is a Good God Logically Possible?

Mar 03, 2020 by James P. Sterba

In this excerpt from his book Is A Good God Logically Possible? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. Pp.xi, 209.) James P. Sterba provides his answer to the question: “Is there a greater good justification for God’s permitting significant and especially horrendous evil consequences of immoral actions?”


How to Navigate Contentious Conversations

Feb 25, 2020 by Peter Boghossian & James Lindsay

An excerpt from How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide provides some tools to help people navigate contentious conversations.


How Would You Design a Code of Conduct?

Feb 18, 2020 by Carol Tavris

Carol Tavris avers that organizations’ Codes of Conduct that try to specify each and every possible behavior they wish to prohibit (or encourage), will find themselves in linguistic and psychological quicksand.


Are We Alone?
J. Allen Hynek & UFOs

Feb 11, 2020 by Michael Aisner

Michael Aisner presents a vintage slice of history, science, and skepticism about UFOs in this interview he recorded in 1966 with UFOlogist Dr. J. Allen Hynek, his photo analyst cohort Fred Beckman, and then repackaged in the early 1970s with contributions from Sherman J. Larson, of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon.


The Phantom Drone Scare
Mass Hysteria Can Be Ruled Out

Feb 04, 2020 by Robert Bartholomew

The recent spate of drone sightings in the Midwest have residents on edge. Medical sociologist Robert Bartholomew avers that one explanation can be ruled out — mass hysteria.


The Crooked Timber of Auschwitz
A brief history of how a concentration camp became an extermination center

Jan 26, 2020 by Michael Shermer & Alex Grobman

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman present a brief history of how a concentration camp became an extermination center.


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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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