The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


belief

John Petrocelli — The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

In episode # 207, Michael Shermer speaks with experimental social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, John Petrocelli about his research that examines the causes and consequences of bullshit and bullshitting in the way of better understanding and improving bullshit detection and disposal.

eSkeptic for September 7, 2021

In episode # 207, Michael Shermer speaks with experimental social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, John Petrocelli about his research that examines the causes and consequences of bullshit and bullshitting in the way of better understanding and improving bullshit detection and disposal. PLUS, the newest issue of Skeptic magazine (26.3: UFOs and UAPs) is now available in print and digital formats.

Julia Galef — The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t

In episode 202, Michael Shermer speaks with Julia Galef about why some people see things clearly and others don’t. She distinguishes a “soldier” mindset from a “scout” mindset. Galef and Shermer explore why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think.

eSkeptic for August 21, 2021

In episode 202, Michael Shermer speaks with Julia Galef about why some people see things clearly and others don’t. She distinguishes a “soldier” mindset from a “scout” mindset. Galef and Shermer explore why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think.

eSkeptic for August 10, 2021

In episode 199, Michael Shermer and David Potter take a deep dive into disruptions. What are the conditions in which radical change happens? Is democracy in trouble? Not all radical groups are the same, and all the groups that the book explores take advantage of mistakes that have challenged belief in the competence of existing institutions to be effective.

David Potter — Disruption: Why Things Change

In episode 199, Michael Shermer and David Potter take a deep dive into disruptions. What are the conditions in which radical change happens? Is democracy in trouble? Not all radical groups are the same, and all the groups that the book explores take advantage of mistakes that have challenged belief in the competence of existing institutions to be effective.

Jamy Ian Swiss — The Conjuror’s Conundrum

In episode 195, Michael speaks with internationally acclaimed sleight-of-hand artist and 35-year activist for scientific skepticism, Jamy Ian Swiss, about his lively, personal book, The Conjuror’s Conundrum, that takes readers on a magical mystery tour of the longstanding connection between magic and skepticism.

eSkeptic for July 27, 2021

In episode 195, Michael speaks with internationally acclaimed sleight-of-hand artist and 35-year activist for scientific skepticism, Jamy Ian Swiss, about his lively, personal book, The Conjuror’s Conundrum, that takes readers on a magical mystery tour of the longstanding connection between magic and skepticism.

eSkeptic for July 5, 2021

Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty. This lecture from our archives was recorded in July 2005 as part of The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series.

eSkeptic for June 19, 2021

In episode 189, Michael speaks with Nobel Prize winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman about the detrimental effects of noise and what we can do to reduce both noise and bias, and make better decisions in: medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. PLUS: We present 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.”

Daniel Kahneman — Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

In episode 189, Michael speaks with Nobel Prize winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman about the detrimental effects of noise and what we can do to reduce both noise and bias, and make better decisions in: medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection.

eSkeptic for June 12, 2021

Given the latest wave of apparent UFO/UAP sightings Michael Shermer reminds us that the residue problem in UFOlogy is instructive because it enables skeptics to find common ground with believers and allows us to live comfortably with the fact that we can’t explain everything.

eSkeptic for May 11, 2021

Astonishingly irrational ideas are spreading. Why? More importantly, what can we do about it? In episode 180 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Andy Norman about his book Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think.

Andy Norman — Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think

Astonishingly irrational ideas are spreading. Why? More importantly, what can we do about it? Michael Shermer and Andy Norman discuss: the plague of ideologies • memes and viruses • bad ideas as parasites • cognitive immunology • cultural immune systems • epistemology • gullibility • beliefs and values • evidence vs. faith • how to regulate beliefs, and impediments to curiosity.

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).

eSkeptic for March 27, 2021

In this eSkeptic, we present a tribute to Richard Dawkins by Michael Shermer, plus a short film spoof on the creation of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

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.

eSkeptic for January 15, 2021

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.

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.

Agustín Fuentes — Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being

Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Fuentes employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief — the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea — is central to the human way of being in the world.

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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.

FREE PDF Download

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.

FREE PDF Download

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.

FREE PDF Download

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?

FREE PDF Download

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…

FREE PDF Download

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!

FREE PDF Download

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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