The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Pain & Profit: Who’s Responsible for the Opioid Crisis?

Gerald Posner | April 12, 2024

Gerald Posner discusses the opioid crisis, highlighting the history of opioids, the role of the pharmaceutical industry, and the marketing tactics used to promote drugs like OxyContin. Posner emphasizes the greed, poor government regulation, and missed opportunities that contributed to the crisis. He also mentions the legal actions taken against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, who profited from the epidemic. The article provides a comprehensive overview of the opioid crisis and its devastating impact on American society.

It’s The Russians! The Latest 60 Minutes Episode on Havana Syndrome Engages in Tabloid Journalism

Robert E. Bartholomew | April 2, 2024

In a special double segment that is reminiscent of The National Enquirer in its heyday, 60 Minutes has aired another dramatic story on Havana Syndrome. If it had been a sporting event, the score would have been 8-0: eight people interviewed and not a single skeptic. Billed by CBS News as a “breakthrough” in their […]

Revisiting Colorblindness

Michael H. Bernstein | March 30, 2024

Michael H. Bernstein reviews The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America by Coleman Hughes, discussing the author’s analysis of neoracism and the need for a middle ground in discussions of racism.

The Game is Up: New Study Finds No Evidence for Havana Syndrome

Robert E. Bartholomew | March 26, 2024

On March 18, 2024, the National Institutes of Health released two studies that failed to find any evidence of brain or inner ear damage in victims of Havana Syndrome—a mysterious array of ailments that have befallen U.S. Government personnel in Havana, Cuba, since 2016. The results were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and are in stark contrast with two earlier studies published in the same journal in 2018 and 2019 that purported to uncover…

How Evolution Matters To Our Health: A Practicing Physician Explores How We Evolved to Be Healthy

William Meller, M.D. | March 22, 2024

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” —Theodosius Dobzhansky Why can one person smoke and drink heavily into their 90s while another dies from cancer in their 40s? Why are we fat? Why does a suntan look and feel so good if it is bad for us? Why is alternative medicine […]

Psychotherapy Redeemed: A Response to Harriet Hall’s “Psychotherapy Reconsidered”

Vivan Baruch | March 15, 2024

While not going so far as arguing, as some have, that psychotherapy is always effective, I’d like to present some data and offer some contrasting considerations to Harriet Hall’s article: “Psychotherapy Reconsidered” (in Skeptic 28.1). Probably no other area within social science practice has been so inordinately and unfortunately praised and damned. Many of us […]

The Future of Medicine & Wellness

Skeptic | March 8, 2024

Skeptic: Let’s start with the big questions. What is the problem to be solved? And why is systems biology the right method to find the answer? Leroy Hood: The problem is this great complexity. Reductionism is the approach where you take an element of a complex system and study that element in enormous detail. However, […]

Sex, Mental Health, and the Culture Wars

Marty Klein | March 1, 2024

What happens when sex is more about identity than pleasure, intimacy, or interaction? And what happens when culture warriors gang up on sexuality—and from several directions? And has this affected our mental health? After over 40 years and 40,000 sessions with individuals and couples as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist, […]

Legalization of Marijuana and Violent Crime in the Nicest Place in America

John D. Van Dyke | February 23, 2024

In 2019, Alex Berenson of the New York Times published Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. In it, Berenson warned that paranoia, one of the established side effects of marijuana consumption, is likely to trigger violence in those suffering from psychosis. The book was predictably lauded by those pundits who saw it as a revelatory argument against legalization…

Who Should You Trust? Why Appeals to Scientific Consensus Are Often Uncompelling

Anthony Fowler | February 15, 2024

Consumers of scientific information should be skeptical of an apparent scientific consensus. Consider: How politicized is this topic? What are the career incentives for the scientists? How easy would it be for scientists to selectively report only the favorable results? Would a study have been published if it had found the opposite result or a null result? The answers to these questions will not definitively tell us whether the scientific consensus is right or wrong, but they should help us…

Autism’s Cult of Redemption: My Adventure Searching for Help for My Son’s Autism Diagnosis in the World of Alternative Medicine & Anti-Vaxxers

John Summers | February 8, 2024

A pediatric neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital diagnosed my son, Misha, with autism spectrum disorder at age three. At Massachusetts General Hospital, another pediatric neurologist answered my call for a second opinion only to rebuff my hope for a different one. “I did not find him to be very receptive to testing,” the expert sighed. […]

Your Microbiome & Your Health:Prebiotics and Postbiotics — The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly

Michael Greger, M.D. | February 1, 2024

The human colon may represent the most biodense ecosystem in the world. Though many may believe that our stool is primarily made up of undigested food, about 75 percent is pure bacteria—trillions and trillions, in fact, about half a trillion bacteria per teaspoon. Do we get anything from these trillions of tenants taking up residence […]

Leonardo da Vinci & Albert Einstein: Could the Renaissance Genius Have Grasped the Foundational Concepts of General Relativity?

José María González Ondina | January 25, 2024

The article “Leonardo da Vinci’s Visualization of Gravity as a Form of Acceleration,” published in the aptly named journal Leonardo (peer-reviewed, MIT Press Direct), has gained some fame, as it has appeared in many news articles. The authors claim that Leonardo understood gravity almost as well as Newton, and even suggest that he anticipated Einstein’s equivalence principle. José María González Ondina presents a more likely interpretation, based on Leonardo’s own manuscripts, that negates these incredible claims.

Educational Testing and the War on Reality & Common Sense

Craig Frisby | January 18, 2024

The practice of discussing educational testing in the same sentence with the term “war” is not necessarily new or original.1 What may be new to readers, however, is to characterize current debates involving educational testing as involving a war against: (1) accurate perceptions about the way things really are (reality), and (2) sound judgment in […]

How American Schools of Education Burked* Education in America’s Schools

Robert Maranto | January 11, 2024

Institutionalized experiments take a while to fail so fully as to be discredited. The 1917 Russian Revolution put its people “seventy years on the road to nowhere,” three generations of poverty, fear, and violence (as the news media, quoting protesters, declared in the regime’s last year).1 Poles who survived communism dismissed it as something that […]

Why Education Policy and Practice Have Become Research-Free Zones

Jonathan Wai | January 4, 2024

When you drive past any American school, you’ll see signs telling you to reduce your speed and declaring the area to be a “drug-free zone,” with draconian penalties for violators. While we can all agree on keeping drugs away from school children, drugs are not the only thing we keep out of schools. Unfortunately, when […]

Quantifying Privilege: What Research on Social Mobility Tells Us About Fairness in America

Robert Lynch | December 27, 2023

Is it more of a disadvantage to be born poor or Black? Is it worse to be brought up by rich parents in a poor neighborhood, or by poor parents in a rich neighborhood? The answers to these questions lie at the very core of what constitutes a fair society. So how do we know […]

A Vision for Comprehensive Educational Reform: Where Learners Control Their Own Education

Skeptic | December 20, 2023

Everyone knows the problems with American education; there is no point in rehashing them. Identifying the source of those problems, however, is essential to any meaningful reform. At every level, educational innovation is choked off by bureaucratic administrators who benefit from the current structure’s inefficiencies. Let’s be clear, there is no grand administrative conspiracy— both […]

The Kill Your Brother Game: Playful Dramas & Unintended Consequences of Censorship

Dennis Junk | December 13, 2023

In the controversies surrounding campaigns to ban books from school libraries and publishers’ new policy of removing offensive words from classic books, most commenters focus on the nature of the books’ content and whether it’s appropriate for children of a certain age. In contrast, this essay focuses on the nature of stories and how concerned parents should think about them in the context of their children’s moral and social development.

Education Matters in the Culture Wars: Can We Separate Bias From Ideology?

Carol Tavris | December 6, 2023

Instead of liberal-conservative bias in education we should think about biases and orthodoxies by topic. Each side values truth and cites facts, but only if they confirm what they already believe. Ideological and Political Bias in Psychology (edited by Frisby, Redding, O’Donohue, & Scott Lilienfeld) details the harm to psychological science, academia, and society from today’s very illiberal ‘woke’ ideology.

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