The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Top 10 Most Shared Articles of 2013

1.  The Spark and the Hype

Dr. Chris Edwards examines some of the claims made by Kristine Barnett about her autistic savant son, James, in her book entitled The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.

2.  What Science Really Says About the Soul

The majority of Americans believe that the soul lives on after the body dies. How can we know whether consciousness can survive bodily death? In this article, Stephen Cave takes a look at the belief that souls exist, and reminds us that modern brain imaging technology provides scientific evidence to strengthen the case against such fuzzy notions.

3.  Food For Thought

Seventy percent of American calories now come from industrially processed foods, an $850 billion per year venture. In this article, Kenneth W. Krause reviews Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner.

4.  The Progressive War on Science

Are Republicans more anti-science than Democrats? In this article, Kenneth W. Krause reviews Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left.

5.  How To Be a Skeptical News Consumer

We are surrounded by information: on TV, the Internet, in magazines, books, and emails from friends, family, commercial advertisers, politicians and other advocates making extraordinary claims. In this article, Donna L. Halper discusses some examples of how society has been duped, and shares some media literacy rules (skepticism and critical thinking) that will help you evaluate and assess claims for accuracy.

6.  Evolution vs. God. Guess Who Wins.

Could it be that geneticists, biochemists, zoologists, biologists, geologists, paleontologists, ecologists, comparative anatomists, physiologists, and cosmologists are all wrong about evolution? In this article, Ingrid Hansen Smythe reviews a documentary film by Ray Comfort called Evolution vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith. The film makes the audacious claim that “there is no evidence for Darwinian evolution; that it’s not scientific.” Watch the trailer and then read the review.

7.  JFK Conspiracy Theories at 50:
How the Skeptics Got it Wrong and Why it Matters

Since late 1964, when The Warren Commission announced its conclusions that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and that there was no evidence of a conspiracy, skepticism of its findings has become a persistent obsession that has lasted 50 years. In this article, David Reitzes recounts some of the most durable myths and conspiracy theories, and reminds us that the job of a skeptic is to use critical thinking to properly assess the evidence, and to use our critical faculties to distinguish verifiable evidence from idle speculation, not to merely doubt for the sake of doubting.

8.  The Reality Distortion Field: Steve Jobs’s Modus Operandi of Ignoring Reality is a Double-edged Sword

Apple Founder, Steve Jobs, had more than a knack for convincing anyone that seemingly unrealistic things were possible. In this article, Michael Shermer discusses how self-deception and a pervasive optimistic bias—Jobs’s “reality distortion field”—contributed both to his success and his demise.

9.  Why Is There A Skeptical Movement?

When did the tradition of scientific skepticism begin? How did it blossom into a modern movement? What ought the skeptical movement to become? And, perhaps most importantly, why does it exist in the first place? In this article, Daniel Loxton meticulously explores the roots, founding principles, and purpose of scientific skepticism.

10.  Sylvia Browne Takes The Case!

On April 21, 2003, the day before her 17th birthday, Amanda Berry was kidnapped in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2004, on an episode of the Montel Williams show, “psychic” Sylvia Browne told Amanda’s mother that Amanda was dead. Sylvia Browne’s “psychic powers” failed miserably that day. Amanda Berry is alive today, having escaped from the house where she had been held for 10 years. In this article, Ingrid Hansen Smythe reviews Sylvia Browne’s last book Past Lives of the Rich and Famous in order to glean some insight into the mind of the “great psychic.”

This article was published on December 31, 2013.

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