The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Framed? How Sensationalism Keeps New York City’s Most Controversial Defendants Innocent in the Eyes of the Public

John D. Van Dyke | July 19, 2024

Despite popular conspiracy theories, the evidence strongly supports the guilt of Bruno Richard Hauptmann in the Lindbergh kidnapping and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in espionage. Sensationalism and conspiracy theories persistently promote their innocence, but these narratives often ignore or distort substantial evidence against them.

Chatbots and the Pursuit of Artificial General Intelligence

Peter Kassan | July 12, 2024

Peter Kassan examines the hype and limitations of artificial intelligence chatbots and the pursuit of artificial general intelligence (AGI).

AI Will Not Replace Artists. It Will Devalue Them.

Kate Brunotts | July 5, 2024

Brooklyn-based avant-pop music producer, Kate Brunotts, discusses the potential impact of artificial intelligence on artists and the need for stronger protections for their intellectual property rights.

Are Governments Prepared to Keep AI Safe?

Skeptic | June 28, 2024

A conversation between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding the risks and safety of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the need for governments to collaborate and develop expertise in managing these risks.

Lessons About the Human Mind from Artificial Intelligence

Russell T. Warne | June 21, 2024

Russell T. Warne discusses lessons learned from artificial intelligence regarding the human mind, including discussions on sentience, errors made by AI programs, creativity, and the propensity for AI programs to fabricate information.

Human v. Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Come Back to Outsmart, Sting, or Assist Us?

Frank Miele, Senior Editor | June 14, 2024

Skeptic’s Senior Editor, Frank Miele, discusses the differences between human intelligence and artificial intelligence, including their capabilities, limitations, and potential applications.

Undercover at the Woo Festival

Laith Al-Shawaf | June 7, 2024

Laith Al-Shawaf shares his experience attending a New Age festival undercover and exploring the beliefs and practices of the attendees.

Can We Trust AI to Make Decisions?

Urs Gasser & Viktor Mayer-Schönberger | May 31, 2024

A discussion of the evolution of AI from rule-based systems to data-driven machine learning, highlighting its advantages in adaptability and efficiency. Over-reliance on AI may stifle innovation and diversity in decision-making, leading to a rigid and less adaptive system. The authors emphasize the importance of human imagination and experimentation in driving progress and avoiding a decisional monoculture.

Is AI a Threat?

Marc Defant | May 24, 2024

Marc Defant discusses the potential threats and capabilities of artificial intelligence, particularly focusing on OpenAI’s GPT-4 and its advanced abilities.

Why Should We Pursue Human Intelligence With AI?

Rudy van Belkom | May 17, 2024

In the quest for intelligent machines, approaching, or even surpassing human intelligence, has been a prominent dot on the horizon since the 1950s. Aside from the various technological challenges, I believe this quest is enormously difficult for three reasons: We don’t have a clear picture of exactly how intelligence works in humans. We have no […]

Climate and the Energy Transition: Current Status and Challenges

Lorne Trottier & Jean-Patrick Toussaint | May 10, 2024

Lorne Trottier and Jean-Patrick Toussaint discuss the current status and challenges of climate change and the energy transition, focusing on the need for renewable energy and electrification to mitigate climate change.

AI and Uncertainty

Maggie Jackson | May 3, 2024

Maggie Jackson discusses the importance of uncertainty in artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can lead to more collaborative and adaptable systems. Openly uncertain AI models are being developed to improve transparency and allow for better human-AI interaction. By constructing AI that admits its uncertainty, AI can work with humans to achieve complex goals and align with human preferences.

Bedbug Bedlam: Real Infestation or Social Panic in Paris?

Robert E. Bartholomew | April 26, 2024

Bedbugs. Just mention of the word is enough to give people the heebie-jeebies and send shivers down their spines—or start scratching. Beginning in early fall of 2023 and coinciding with Paris Fashion Week from September 25 to October 3, fear of the unhealthy vermin swept across Paris. There does not appear to be one incident […]

Bayesian Balance: How a Tool for Bayesian Thinking Can Guide Us Between Relativism and the Truth Trap

Ed Gibney & Zafir Ivanov | April 19, 2024

This article explores the concept of truthiness, introduced by Stephen Colbert, and its implications in today’s discourse, where subjective truths often overshadow objective reality. It discusses the dangers of absolute certainty in beliefs, exemplified by a Young Earth creationist. Through Bayesian reasoning, it suggests adjusting beliefs based on evidence and introduces a model called Bayesian Balance, which helps in evaluating evidence without succumbing to absolute certainty.

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 […]

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