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Reading Room
Wicked Games
Lance Armstrong, Forgiveness and Redemption, and a Game Theory of Doping

Part 2 of the documentary film “Lance” airs tonight on ESPN and served as a catalyst for this article that employs game theory to understand why athletes dope even when they don’t want to, as well as thoughts on forgiveness and redemption. The article is a follow up to and extension of Dr. Shermer’s article in the April 2008 issue of Scientific American.

eSkeptic for May 31, 2020

Part 2 of the documentary film “Lance” airs tonight on ESPN and served as a catalyst for this article that employs game theory to understand why athletes dope even when they don’t want to, as well as thoughts on forgiveness and redemption. The article is a follow up to and extension of Dr. Shermer’s article in the April 2008 issue of Scientific American.

INSIGHT
Gotcha! Thinking About Skeptical “Stings”

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

INSIGHT
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.

11-06-22

What is the right approach to dealing with people who believe in the paranormal or some particular idea we could call pseudoscience? Naturally no one considers their beliefs to be pseudoscience or faith-based nonsense, so saying something along those lines to a believer’s face is likely to close off conversation. In this remarkable article, our own Daniel Loxton tackles the matter head on. Daniel shows that a controversy that erupted at last year’s The Amazing Meeting conference was just the latest in a very long history of skeptical debates about the “tone” of our criticism and educational outreach. (Please note: this is a long article, running over 4500 words.)

11-02-02

In this week’s eSkeptic Massimo Pigliucci reviews Sam Harris’ latest book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.

Distinguished Science Lecture
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine
Human Values

Most people believe that science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. In this lecture, based on his explosive new book, The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge.

10-09-29

In this week’s eSkeptic, Frank Miele interviews ecologist and social activist Garrett Hardin about his views on the economy, abortion, overpopulation and assisted suicide. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 2 in 1996.

Distinguished Science Lecture
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

In this Caltech lecture, Conway tells an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the risks of smoking to the reality of global warming. He names names, documenting their involvement in such issues as acid rain, the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the banning of DDT.

Distinguished Science Lecture
On Fact & Fraud:
Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science

FRAUD IN SCIENCE is not as easy to identify as one might think. When accusations of scientific misconduct occur, truth can often be elusive, and the cause of a scientist’s ethical misstep isn’t always clear. In his lecture based on his new book, On Fact and Fraud, Caltech physicist David Goodstein looks at actual cases in which fraud was committed or alleged, explaining what constitutes scientific misconduct and what doesn’t, and outlines some ethical foundations needed to discern and avoid fraud wherever it may arise.

09-10-14

In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr Harriet Hall, MD, (aka the Skepdoc) reviews Render Unto Darwin: Philosophical Aspects of the Christian Right’s Crusade against Science, by James H. Fetzer.

Distinguished Science Lecture
Beyond Cosmic Dice
Moral Life in a Random World

Morality is our biological destiny. We each have within us the awesome power to create our own meaning in life, our own sense of purpose, our own destiny. With a natural ethic we are able to move beyond the random hand of birth to pave our own road to a better life. With the ability to choose to be good comes the obligation to make that choice; choosing to be moral is what makes us special as individuals and as a species…

09-01-28

In this week’s eSkeptic, our regular contributor Kenneth Krause reviews the latest research on altruism, most notably that of primate research in controlled experiments in which both monkeys and apes are given choices to cooperate or compete against game partners in exchange scenarios, with implications for human research in this area.

Distinguished Science Lecture
The Grand Inquisitor’s Handbook:
A History of Terror in the Name of God

In this lecture based on his new book, Jonathan Kirsch delivers a sweeping and provocative history that explores how the Inquisition was honed to perfection and brought to bear on an ever-widening circle of victims by authoritarians in both church and state for over 600 years…

Distinguished Science Lecture
Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason & Religion

In this controversial lecture based on his new book, the world-renowned complexity theorist Dr. Stuart Kauffman argues that people who do not believe in God have largely lost their sense of the sacred and the deep human legitimacy of our inherited spirituality, and that those who do believe in a Creator God, no science will ever disprove that belief…

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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

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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.

FREE PDF Download

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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