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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society… DOWNLOAD the free PDF

13-07-17

In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D reviews Richard Burton’s book A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.

Thinking: Fast and Slow

THE IDEAS OF THE PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PSYCHOLOGIST DANIEL KAHNEMAN, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, have had a profound and widely regarded impact on psychology, economics, business, law and philosophy. Until now, however, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book. In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman introduces the “machinery of the mind.”

Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

WHAT IS MORALITY AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain: Moral values are rooted in family values displayed by all mammals — the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes, and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves — first offspring, then mates, kin, and so on, in wider and wider “caring” circles.

10-09-01

In this week’s eSkeptic, we present an excerpt from 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Nature, by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). This excerpt appears in the sold out issue of Skeptic magazine volume 15, number 3 and has been published by permission of the publisher and authors.

10-05-12

In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Dr. Michael Shermer’s review of The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard.

Does God have a Future? A Great Debate Filmed by ABC’s Nightline

Does God Have a Future? Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston debate the question with Michael Shermer and Sam Harris.

The Great Afterlife

This debate between Deepak Chopra and Michael Shermer came about after the widely read and referenced debate the two had last year on the virtues and value of skepticism. Deepak and Michael thought it would be stimulating to have a debate on the topic. Michael read Deepak’s book and goes first in the debate, offering his assessment of the “proofs” presented in Deepak’s book, then Deepak responds.

In Sagan’s Own Words: In Memory of Carl Sagan 1934–1996

Culled from the expansive work of Carl Sagan, we present some of his own words on the cosmos, ETs, childhood, genes, brains, pseudoscience, science literacy, nonsense, uncertainty, biology, history and God.

Origins & the Big Questions: Our 2008 Conference at Caltech

Our 2008 conference at Caltech, on the question of origins, featured lectures by Leonard Susskind, Paul Davies, Sean Carroll, Donald Prothero, Christof Koch, Stuart Kauffman, Kenneth Miller, Nancey Murphy, Michael Shermer, Hugh Ross, Victor Stenger, and a performance by Mr. Deity.

07-11-20

In this week’s eSkeptic, David Ludden reviews by Cordelia Fine‘s book entitled A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives.

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Dr. Steven Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best — language and human nature — into his new book on how words can help explain our nature (for example, what swearing reveals about our emotions or what innuendo discloses about relationships). The author of the bestselling books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works and Blank Slate, Pinker reveals how our use of prepositions and tenses taps into peculiarly human concepts of space and time, and how our nouns and verbs speak to our notions of matter…

07-07-25

In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer proposes a market solution to the problem of tenure in this invited open peer commentary on an article entitled “Is Tenure Justified? An Experimental Study of Faculty Beliefs About Tenure, Promotion, and Academic Freedom” by Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Katrin Mueller-Johnson, published in a 2006 issue of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, volume 29, pages 553–569.

05-05-27

In this week’s eSkeptic, Lee Traynor reports on the Skeptics Society’s 2005 Conference at Caltech.

Brain, Mind & Consciousness Conference 2005

The Brain, Mind & Consciousness conference, on what Nobel Laureate Francis Crick called “the greatest unsolved problem in biology,” was held over the weekend of May 13–15, 2005 at Caltech. Watch the entire conference for free in three sessions (approximately 7.5 hours over 3 videos).

05-03-29

In this week’s eSkeptic, Susan Carol Losh, Ph.D. responds to an earlier eSkeptic (“Sex, Brains & Hands — Gender Differences in Cognitive Abilities” by Diane Halpern, Tuesday, March 15th, 2005) with a letter titled “Mr. Summers’ Hidden Agenda: Women, Men & the 80-Hour Work Week.”

05-03-15

In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr. Diane Halpern delves into the science of gender differences in her article “Sex, Brains & Hands — Gender Differences in Cognitive Abilities.”

When They Severed Earth From Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don’t exist? Strange though they sound, however, these “myths” did not begin as fiction…

04-11-12

In this week’s eSkeptic, David Voron reviews Eric Baum’s book, What is Thought?

04-10-01

In this week’s eSkeptic, John Olmsted reviews the fantasy docudrama and cult hit What the #$*! Do We Know?.

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