The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Fossil Fuels: The Past and the Future

Donald R. Prothero | September 15, 2023

How were coal and petroleum produced? (NOT from dinosaurs!) How much is left? Can or when will we run out? The end of “cheap oil” will happen soon but we will probably not realize it until oil-producing countries can no longer keep up with demand, no matter how high the price. If we don’t phase out fossil fuels, climate change will become even more intense and oil will get too expensive for all but the most essential uses.

Skeptic Interviews Steven Koonin

Skeptic | September 8, 2023

Skeptic: How did you get interested in energy? Koonin: I was educated in New York City public schools and grew up in a middle-class household. I went to Caltech as an undergrad, MIT for my PhD, and then returned to Caltech as faculty for 30 years. I was the Provost for the last nine. I […]

Ranking American Presidents: Does It Make Any Sense?

John D. Van Dyke | September 1, 2023

U.S. Presidents have been ranked since Schlesinger’s 1948 list in Life magazine. Others have since done likewise; Siena College Research Institute’s being the standard. Problems include: interpreting the past in terms of the present; the evolving role of the Presidency; and the unique circumstances facing each President. Rather than one overall rank, it is more accurate to score on a set of attributes, including: Experience, Integrity, Imagination, Intelligence, Risk Taking, Communication, Accomplishments, Appointments, Ability to Compromise; and Avoiding Big Mistakes.

The Case for Nuclear Power

Robert Zubrin | August 25, 2023

The world faces two energy crises: (1) too much, because we are changing the Earth’s climate and chemistry and so inviting global catastrophe; and (2) too little, because the bulk of humanity still lives in poverty, without enough for a decent standard of living. The answer to both is to go nuclear. Upon examination, the arguments made against nuclear energy, including: emissions, waste disposal, accidents, and proliferation are shown to be exaggerated, unfounded, or soluble using even currently available technology.

The Future of Energy and Our Climate: Fracking, Renewables, or Nuclear?

Marc J. Defant | August 18, 2023

The Paris Accords have been a failure in reducing global warming. Solar and wind energy have not been the panacea environmentalists promised. To avoid catastrophic economic impacts, the United States needs to keep producing oil and gas until other ways of mitigating global warming can be found. Fracking has helped turn the United States into the world’s leading oil and gas producer. But the health of future Earth relies on keeping a strong economy while we transition away from oil…

It’s Always Sunny in Space: Why Space-Based Solar Power Is a Viable Source of Energy

Rob Mahan | August 11, 2023

Advances in civilization are driven by the availability of excess energy. As the human population has exploded over the past two centuries, the global consumption of energy has also drastically expanded. But the current economic model is unsustainable without the development of a clean, unlimited source of energy. Space-based solar power (SBSP) can directly access the power of the Sun, and has the potential to be that clean, unlimited baseload power source of energy for the entire planet.

The Gift of Bias: How My Wrongful Conviction Helped Me Become a Better Thinker

Amanda Knox | August 4, 2023

After her wrongful conviction for murder in 2007, Amanda Knox was haunted by one question: why? Why did this happen? How could the pursuit of justice have gone so far off course? Corruption and evil were not satisfactory answers for her. Instead, she found understanding through the study of motivated reasoning and cognitive bias, which led her see how well-intentioned people could have arrived at such false conclusions, and how she herself could become a better thinker.

Not So Hopeful Monsters

Douglas R. Warrick | July 28, 2023

I’m a Monster Biologist. No — that’s not a self-aggrandizing professional description. I actually think about the biology of monsters. Twenty years ago, when I first conceived of Biology 485 as a rigorous treatment of “Why Things Aren’t,” I figured that it was already nearing obsolescence. Surely the speed of information through this new-fangled Internet, […]

Standardized Admission Tests Are Not Biased. In Fact, They’re Fairer Than Other Measures

April Bleske-Rechek & Daniel Robinson | July 17, 2023

Media coverage often claims scholastic admissions tests (e.g., SAT, GRE) are inaccurate, inequitable, and ineffective because: (1) any racial/ethnic differences are caused by test bias; (2) tests don’t predict anything important; (3) tests merely reflect wealth not acquired skills or academic potential; so (4) admissions would be fairer without them. This article presents mainstream scientific evidence that each claim is false. Since admission test scores are the most resistant to bias, getting rid of them would make admissions less fair.

Visits to and From Extraterrestrials: Why They Never Occurred, and Probably Never Will

Morton Tavel | June 30, 2023

Despite much ballyhoo in the media, all efforts thus far have failed to provide substantive evidence that might link the appearance of UFOs, now called UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena), with aliens from other planets. This failure results from limitations imposed by both biology and distance. As Morton Tavel explains, when these factors are combined, they render any such contacts virtually impossible.

Alternative Civilization and Its Discontents: An Analysis of the Alternative Archaeologist Graham Hancock’s Claim That an Ancient Apocalypse Erased the Lost Civilization of Atlantis

Michael Shermer | June 16, 2023

Alternative archaeologist Graham Hancock has for 40 years been writing bestselling books about the possibility of a lost ancient civilization that existed long before the Egyptians, Hittites, and Babylonians, and now he hosts a wildly popular Netflix documentary series called Ancient Apocalypse in which he presents his theories about what destroyed this lost civilization, which he suggests is described in the legend and myth of Atlantis, in stunning cinematographic beauty. But is it true? In this analysis of the documentary…

Alternative Histories That Really Aren’t: A review of Graham Hancock’s Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse

Marc J. Defant | June 9, 2023

Who are the “magicians of the gods,” in Graham Hancock’s alternative history series Ancient Apocalype on Netflix, and where did they come from? Professor of geology, Marc Defant, applies critical thinking to Hancock’s historical and literary research to identify the erroneous conclusions in both his series and in his many books, which have been highly influential in presenting Hancock’s alternative theory of history to those less prepared to evaluate the evidence (or lack thereof).

Skeptic Interviews Alan S. Blinder

Skeptic | June 2, 2023

In this interview with Alan S. Blinder, one of the world’s most influential economists and one of the best writers in the field, the former Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board draws on his deep firsthand experience to share insights on “economic matters” with readers of Skeptic.

Second Sight

Skeptic | May 26, 2023

How can people appear telepathic, and what is the history of duos demonstrating this type of mindreading as entertainment? Two-person theatrical mindreading acts have been popular in the U.S. and Europe since the mid-1800s, with even earlier roots. Regular Skeptic magazine contributor, Michelle Ainsworth, reviews A First Look at Second Sight by Bob Loomis, and Cues: Variations on the Second Sight Act by Leo Behnke.

The Rise of Lies and the Demise of Shame

Carol Tavris | May 19, 2023

We are fascinated and enraged by pathological liars like George Santos, who lie with every breath. But everybody lies, out of courtesy, self-protection, or self-advancement. Toddlers start lying as soon as they start speaking, suggesting that deception evolved right along with language as an adaptive strategy. The social danger is not that people lie, but the obliteration of the line between a lie and its consequences. Once, anyone lying as blatantly as Santos would have been shamed or laughed out…

The Economics of Life Made Simple

Mark Skousen | May 9, 2023

What is money, what is it based on without a gold standard, and can cryptocurrency ever replace it? Why are young people so attracted to democratic socialism, and is there a better alternative? Should valuable goods and services such as college education, medical services, and transportation be made available to the public for free? What is the secret to the success of capitalist nations? Do economists offer any solution to the global warming threat? “America’s Economist,” Mark Skousen, helps make…

A Critical Analysis of America’s Homeless Crisis

Ned Resnikoff | May 5, 2023

The reason why America has so much homelessness is simple: our big cities have extraordinary high housing costs, and a growing number of city dwellers can’t afford even the most basic accommodations. But if a lack of cheap housing is the cause of mass homelessness, then its solution is equally simple. Overwhelming evidence shows that building more homes will drive housing costs down to manageable levels, and getting unhoused people into housing — along with supportive services, as needed —…

The Final Take-Down of Doyle’s Defense of Libertarian Free Will

Gary J. Whittenberger | April 28, 2023

In their debate on free will, Doyle and Whittenberger present, explain, and defend contrasting, inconsistent, and in some ways contradictory models of human decision making. Whittenberger believes that the free will model is far inferior to the hard determinism model in so many ways, including conceptual clarity, the reasonableness of premises, and evidential support. Read Whittenberger’s response to Doyle.

How Science Really Works

Charles S. Reichardt |

If you search the web or look in introductory science textbooks, you will find the hypothetico-deductive (H-D) method often depicted as the scientific method. However, the H-D method is inadequate as a description of the scientific method, especially when it comes to assessing pseudoscientific or other dubious claims. An alternative to the H-D method more […]

Apocalypse! Why Graham Hancock’s Use of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis in His Netflix Series Ancient Apocalypse Is All Wet

Mark Boslough | April 21, 2023

A major theme running throughout Ancient Apocalypse is Graham Hancock‘s persecution complex. Archaeologists are picking on him, he says, because “I am trying to overthrow the paradigm of history.” Hancock fails to understand that “just asking questions” is unlikely to create a scientific revolution. Especially when he appeals to a hypothetical comet catastrophe that violates the laws of physics, contradicts astronomical data, ignores the geological record, and defies logic. When scientists ask to see data, it’s not persecution. It’s science.

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