The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


deception

Christopher Chabris — Why We Get Fooled 

Shermer, Simons, and Chabris discuss: • How rational vs. irrational are humans? (Daniel Kahneman vs. Gerd Gingerenzer) • Truth Default Theory, or Truth Bias • deception vs. deception detection • social proof and the influence of others on our beliefs • cults • Bernie Madoff • Harvey Weinstein • Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos • Nigerian spam scam • cheating in chess • habits of thought that can be exploited • information hooks we find especially enticing instead of triggering skepticism…

The Rise of Lies and the Demise of Shame

We are fascinated and enraged by pathological liars like George Santos, who lie with every breath. But everybody lies, out of courtesy, self-protection, or self-advancement. Toddlers start lying as soon as they start speaking, suggesting that deception evolved right along with language as an adaptive strategy. The social danger is not that people lie, but the obliteration of the line between a lie and its consequences. Once, anyone lying as blatantly as Santos would have been shamed or laughed out…

Post-Truth: The Tragedy of the Trust Commons

In our “post-truth” world, objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. In the U.S., citizens’ trust in their government is at historically low levels, and the trust gap is difficult to bridge because individuals who practice deceptive behaviors often gain. This type of situation is known as a “tragedy of the commons.” Behavioral scientist Gleb Tsipursky offers the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) as one solution to help rebuild trust in and decrease…

Moshe Hoffman and Erez Yoeli on the Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrational Human Behavior

Moshe Hoffman is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology whose research focuses on using game theory and models of learning. Erez Yoeli is a research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, whose research focuses on altruism: understanding how it works and how to promote it.

Louis Theroux on Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO Cults, and Scientology

Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism • UFO cults • Scientology • neo-Nazis • anti-Semitism • prisons, pornography, and prostitution • Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile • self-help movements and gurus • deception and self-deception • social proof and human conformity • are humans naturally rational, irrational, or both?

eSkeptic for April 30, 2022

Michael Shermer Speaks With Louis Theroux About Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO Cults, and Scientology. PLUS: In SRC Report PCIS-006, we take a look at Conspiracy Theory Endorsement by Media Viewership.

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.

David Buss — When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault

In episode 181 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with professor of psychology David Buss about sexual conflict, morality, and the double standards that flourish even in the most sexually egalitarian cultures on earth. Buss shows that this “battle of the sexes” is deeper and far more pervasive than anyone has recognized, revealing the hidden roots of sexual conflict — roots that originated over deep evolutionary time.

eSkeptic for May 15, 2021

In episode 181 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with professor of psychology David Buss about sexual conflict, morality, and the double standards that flourish even in the most sexually egalitarian cultures on earth. Buss shows that this “battle of the sexes” is deeper and far more pervasive than anyone has recognized, revealing the hidden roots of sexual conflict — roots that originated over deep evolutionary time.

eSkeptic for May 25, 2016

Why are we so bad at spotting deception? In this week’s eSkeptic, we present an excerpt from The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Maria Konnikova. This excerpt appeared in Skeptic magazine 21.1 (2016).

Cons

Why are we so bad at spotting deception? Read this excerpt from The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, by Maria Konnikova, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Maria Konnikova. This excerpt appeared in Skeptic magazine 21.1 (2016).

eSkeptic for July 15, 2015

The human tendency to organize information even where no useful information exists appears to be hardwired into our brains. In this week’s eSkeptic, we present on article from the archives of Skeptic magazine issue 5.1, from 1997 wherein professional magician Jamy Ian Swiss discusses critical thinking as a way of protecting ourselves from the threat of deception.

Gotcha! Thinking About Skeptical “Stings”

Daniel Loxton considers the long, valuable, and ethically complicated history of skeptical undercover investigations and debunking traps.

Considering a Complaint About Skeptical Tactics

Daniel Loxton describes a recent recurrence of the very old controversy about skeptical use of undercover investigation and "sting " tactics.

Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception & and the Unconscious Mind

Philosopher and evolutionary psychologist David Livingstone Smith elucidates the essential role that deception and self-deception have played in human — and animal — evolution and shows that the very structure of our minds has been shaped from our earliest beginnings by the need to deceive…

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