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Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021): Reminiscences and a Tribute

In this tribute to Edward O. Wilson, Frank J. Sulloway recounts how the Harvard evolutionary biologist had a profound and enduring influence on his own life and academic career. Wilson, says Sulloway, was the model of a mentor who cared deeply about his students and collaborators. By sharing his infectious love of the wonders of evolutionary biology, Wilson inspired countless others with his impassioned vision about the need to safeguard biological diversity.

Remembering Edward O. Wilson

To honor the legendary evolutionary theorist and biologist Edward O. Wilson, who passed away on December 26 at the age of 92, his former student Mark Moffett, pays tribute to his mentor in this deeply moving memoir of his time working with the great scientist.

Mytho-history: The “Evolution” of Adam and Eve

One of the most influential conservative Christian theologians goes all-in for evolutionary science and finds room for a Paleolithic Adam and Eve. This has left some schools of Christian orthodoxy scrambling to find a way forward. With any luck, they may start to reevaluate their opposition to evolution altogether.

The Ionian Instauration—An Interview with E.O. Wilson on His Latest Controversial Book: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

In Memoriam: Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021) — entomologist, evolutionary theorist, and unifier of all knowledge. Read an extensive and intimate interview we published in Skeptic in 1998, Vol. 6, No. 1, conducted by our editor Frank Miele, upon the occasion at the time of the publication of Wilson’s game-changing book Consilience.

Havana Syndrome Hysteria and the Great Wild Goose Chase: Classified documents reveal skepticism of foreign actors & bolster the role of psychogenic illness

Have foreign agents been committing nefarious deeds, targeting dozens of American and Canadian diplomats and their families with an energy weapon, or is Havana Syndrome a social panic aided by sensational journalism, dubious science, and social media conspiracy theories? The contents of a U.S. Government investigation into “Havana Syndrome” released under the Freedom of Information Act, concluded that mass psychogenic illness likely played a major role.

Inequality: Why Women? A Plausible Sociocultural Explanation for the Persistence & Universality of Gender Inequality Over Thousands of Years

Illustration of a woman carrying a man on her back (by Pat Linse)

Do you believe that men have greater power and privilege because they are stronger, more aggressive, and smarter than women (and don’t have babies)? Think again. Dolores Newton & Jefferson Fish present a plausible sociocultural explanation for the persistence and universality of gender inequality over thousands of years.

Osteopathy Then and Now

osteopath with patient

What is osteopathy? What is the difference between an MD, a DO, and an osteopath in the US? Why do students choose a DO school? Should the DO degree be abolished? Find out what Harriet Hall, M.D. says in this column from Skeptic magazine 26.1 (2021).

Mark Twain and Alternative Medicine

In this column from Skeptic magazine 26.2 (2021), Harriet Hall, M.D. recounts that Mark Twain was an enthusiastic proponent of “alternative medicine” long before the term was coined — and much of it remains the same as in his time.

Trans Science: A review of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters

Detail of cover of Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier

A review by Dr. Harriet Hall of Abigail Shrier’s 2020 book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters was originally published on Science-Based Medicine’s website and later removed and put under review by SBM’s Editors “due to concerns expressed over its scientific accuracy and completeness.” Skeptic is publishing here because, if skepticism means anything, there are no sacred cows, no political sensitivities of topics to prohibit open discussion and review, no censorship of ideas that don’t toe a political line.

US Government Says UFOs are “Real”: An Analysis of the 60 Minutes Investigation

Has the US government admitted that UFOs are “real” and that the military is investigating them? Mick West presents an analysis of the 60 Minutes episode that aired May 16, 2021.

Metaphors & Mindsets: How to ‘Update’ Beliefs

Admitting our beliefs are false can feel like a failure, a sign of weakness. Instead, we should look at changing our mind as an ‘update.’ The following is a review by Michael Shermer of The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t by Julia Galef (Portfolio).

Red Alert: Anti-Vaccination in the Age of COVID-19

Raymond Barglow and Margret Schaefer discuss the anti-vaccination movement in the age of COVID-19.

The Skeptic’s Chaplain: Richard Dawkins as a Fountainhead of Skepticism

A tribute to Richard Dawkins by Michael Shermer. The following essay was commissioned by Oxford University Press to be included in a volume entitled Richard Dawkins. How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think: Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers, edited by Alan Grafen and Mark Ridley (biologists and former graduate students of Dawkins) and published in 2006 to mark the 30th anniversary of the publication in 1976 of Dawkins’ influential book, The Selfish Gene.

Was Cleopatra Black?

John Henrik Clarke Says Yes From African Warrior Queens “More nonsense has been written about Cleopatra than about any other African queen, mainly because it has been the desire of many writers to paint her white. She was not a white woman until the emergence of the doctrine of white superiority, Cleopatra was generally pictured […]

Afrocentric Pseudoscience & Pseudohistory

There is a lot of high-quality, constructive Afrocentric scholarship. As in most fields, however, there are fringe groups and extraordinary claims that grab our attention because of their extremism, and, occasionally, their absurdity. Since it is our job at Skeptic magazine to track these groups and claims, we bring them to our reader’s attention. This is not to imply that all or most African-American scientists and historians believe such claims. The recent surge of these beliefs, however, especially when supported by such recognizable names as Louis Farrakhan, is alarming. Here are just a few quotes emblematic of this extreme.

Beyond Race: Fallacies of Reactive Afrocentrism

Since one of the themes of Skeptic is the study of the power of belief systems to shape our interpretation of nature and history, the Afrocentric paradigm should be treated no different from others. That is, a healthy dollop of skepticism and critical thinking is appropriate.

Stolen Legacy (or Mythical History?) Did the Greeks Steal Philosophy From the Egyptians?

“It is of course possible to sympathize with James, and with his anger at a society that has paid little tribute to real African achievement. Unfortunately Stolen Legacy not only does not help the Afrocentric cause, it hinders it.” Since its publication in 1954 Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James, has been a best-seller […]

QAnon Is Just a Warmed Over Witch Panic — and It’s Also Very Dangerous

In this cover story article (written in October 2020) for Skeptic magazine 25.4 (December 2020), Daniel Loxton considers the unsavory origins and rising threat of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Written prior to the deadly QAnon-led occupation of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021, this analysis exposes the conspiracy theory as baseless, unoriginal, and harmful for believers and society at large.

Lizard People, 5G and the Nashville Bomber

Perhaps one of the most bizarre beliefs rampant in modern times is that malign, shape-shifting reptilian extraterrestrial invaders, disguised as human beings, secretly control the governments of the world. It is possible that we recently experienced a violent consequence of that belief.

Psychological Risks with COVID-19 Vaccines

Reports about allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines will undoubtedly cause anxiety in people. Robert E. Bartholomew & Kate MacKrill remind us that, if history is a guide — and given the large number of people to be vaccinated — a mass anxiety event is not improbable.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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!

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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.

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