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eSkeptic for April 27, 2022

Was the great scientist E. O. Wilson a racist? No! Because Wilson corresponded with the notorious race differences psychologist Phillippe Rushton, critics claim it proves Wilson was a racist. Here’s why the critics are wrong, dangerously wrong.

A reply to Bert Hölldobler on the Matter of Edward O. Wilson, Race, Racism, and Race Science

In this letter to Bert Hölldobler, following up on his defense of his long-time colleague E. O. Wilson, who has been falsely accused of racism and knowingly promoting race science, Mel Konner, who also knew and worked with Wilson, reinforces the point that Wilson’s defense of Philippe Rushton was done out of concerns about academic freedom; in fact, Konner notes that there are other reasons for critiquing Wilson, primarily for his ultimate rejection of kin selection — one of the key tenets of evolutionary theory.

eSkeptic for April 12, 2022

Mel Konner, in response to Bert Hölldobler’s defense of E. O. Wilson, reinforces the point that Wilson’s defense of Philippe Rushton was done out of concerns about academic freedom; PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with Oliver Stone about Ukraine, Putin, and the military-industrial complex.

Self-Righteous Vigilantism in Science: The Case of Edward O. Wilson

Is there vigilantism in science? Was the renowned Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson wrongly convicted of racism and promoting race science in the court of public opinion? Yes, says his long-time collaborator and world-class scientist Bert Hölldobler.

Johnjoe McFadden on simplicity in science, based on his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of Molecular Genetics, Johnjoe McFadden, about: our medieval ancestors • science and religion • how pre-modern theologians thought about the nature of reality • Ptolemaic vs. Tychonic vs. Copernican world systems • simplicity in math, physics, biology, medicine, and the social sciences • quantum physics and simplicity •  Postmodernism and the search for Truth • Is science more Bayesian than Popperian? • the anthropic cosmological principle • the hard problem of consciousness.

eSkeptic for January 25, 2022

Social psychologist Carol Tavris thoughtfully explores and questions “affirmative trans medicine,” the latest dangerous medical practices bubble. Few question the mystifying explosion of cases of gender dysphoria among adolescents and the proliferation of clinics to treat them. Vulnerable teens and baffled parents resort to internet misinformation and succumb to biased media influence, while experts spurn exploratory therapies and promote untested treatments that have long-term effects. Dissenters are vilified and silenced as being transphobic. PLUS: Michael Shermer Speaks with Johnjoe McFadden about his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe.

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.

eSkeptic for May 12, 2020

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

Matthew Cobb — The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

What is Mental Illness, Anyway?

Peter Barglow, MD reviews Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness by Anne Harrington.

David Quammen — The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

In Science Salon # 33, Michael Shermer talks with David Quammen, one of the best nature and science writers of our generation, about his new book on the history of one of the most exciting revolutions in evolution and genetics that is unfolding before our eyes.

eSkeptic for August 15, 2018

In Science Salon # 33, Michael Shermer talks with with David Quammen, one of the best nature and science writers of our generation, about his new book on the history of one of the most exciting revolutions in evolution and genetics that is unfolding before our eyes.

eSkeptic for May 2, 2018

Nathan H. Lents and Lila Kazemian discuss evidence from a variety of disciplines as disparate as animal behavior and moral theology that point toward more humane, efficient, and effective responses to crime and punishment that work in concert, rather than in conflict, with our evolutionary psychology.

What Biology Can Teach Us About Crime and Justice

Nathan H. Lents and Lila Kazemian discuss evidence from a variety of disciplines as disparate as animal behavior and moral theology that point toward more humane, efficient, and effective responses to crime and punishment that work in concert, rather than in conflict, with our evolutionary psychology.

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 3): The Twilight of Vitalism

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 3 of 3.)

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 2): Vital Thinking

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 2 of 3.)

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 1): Fire and Gods

Haeckel's asteridea drawing.

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 1 of 3.)

14-10-29

Horror is both the human emotion, and the artistic genre designed to produce that emotion. What is it really, and why do we regularly seek out such an unpleasant experience? In this week’s Halloween edition of eSkeptic, Stephen T. Asma discusses “horror” and our fascination with it.

Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

In this lectures, based on his book Here on Earth, Tim Flannery presents a captivating and dramatic narrative about the origins of life and the history of our planet.

11-01-26

J. S. Snelson discusses how our biological immune system protects our bodies from an invasion of foreign agents and pathogens, and, in the context of the historical discovery and treatment of malaria, how our ideological immune system protects our minds from an invasion of foreign ideas and doctrines.

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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.

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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?

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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