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human behavior

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.

Jesse Singal on Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills 

Michael Shermer and Jesse Singal discuss: how social scientists determine causality • cognitive priming • The Malcolm Gladwell-effect • self-help movements • power posing • positive psychology • Implicit Association Test • racism, gender, class, misogyny, bigotry • replication crisis • choice architecture • I.Q. • free will and determinism • nature/nurture and how lives turn out • abortion • and U.S. foreign policy.

eSkeptic for April 26, 2022

Michael Shermer speaks with Jesse Singal about this new book: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills.

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.

eSkeptic for April 9, 2022

Mark W. Moffett remind us that breakthroughs in science often come about by exploring points of similarity between things that are normally seen as very different. PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with quantum physicist, Jim Al-Khalili, who reveals how 8 lessons from the heart of science can help us all get the most out of our lives. PLUS: In SRC Report PCIS-005, we take a look at Conspiracy Theory Endorsement by Generation.

Apples and Oranges, Ants and Humans: The Misunderstood Art of Making Comparisons

Mark W. Moffett describes how comparing identical things is extremely boring; breakthroughs in science often come about by exploring points of similarity between things that are normally seen as very different—in his own research, and that of his mentor, Edward O. Wilson, ants and humans.

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.

eSkeptic for December 28, 2021

Michael Shermer speaks with Brian Klass about power and corruption, based on his book Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us. PLUS: In Memoriam: Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021) — entomologist, evolutionary theorist, and unifier of all knowledge. Read the interview from Skeptic 6.1 (1998).

The Ionian Instauration—An Interview with E.O. Wilson on His Latest Controversial Book: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

In Memoriam: Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021) — entomologist, evolutionary theorist, and unifier of all knowledge. Read an extensive and intimate interview we published in Skeptic in 1998, Vol. 6, No. 1, conducted by our editor Frank Miele, upon the occasion at the time of the publication of Wilson’s game-changing book Consilience.

Antonio Damasio — Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious

In episode 221, Michael Shermer speaks with Antonio Damasio about recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines that have given rise to new understandings of consciousness.

eSkeptic for October 26, 2021

In episode 221, Michael Shermer speaks with Antonio Damasio about recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines that have given rise to new understandings of consciousness.

Charles Foster on Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness

In episode 220, Michael Shermer speaks with Charles Foster about his book Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history.

eSkeptic for October 23, 2021

In episode 220, Michael Shermer speaks with Charles Foster about his book Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history.

Steven Pinker on Rationality: What it is, Why it Seems Scarce, Why it Matters

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

eSkeptic for October 19, 2021

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

Leidy Klotz on doing more with less, based on his book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less

We pile on “to-dos” but don’t consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. We collect new-and-improved ideas, but don’t prune the outdated ones. Every day, across challenges big and small, we neglect a basic way to make things better: we don’t subtract. In episode 210, Michael Shermer speaks with Leidy Klotz about his book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less.

eSkeptic for September 18, 2021

We pile on “to-dos” but don’t consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. In episode 210, Michael Shermer speaks with Leidy Klotz about his book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less. PLUS Do you believe that men have greater power and privilege because they are stronger, more aggressive, and smarter than women (and don’t have babies)? Think again.

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein on evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century

We are living through the most prosperous age in all of human history, yet people are more listless, divided and miserable than ever. In episode 209 Michael Shermer speaks with Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein about evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century.

eSkeptic for September 14, 2021

In episode 209 Michael Shermer speaks with Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein about evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century. PLUS, new Skeptic digital subscriptions are on sale for only $6.99 for 4 issues until Sept. 26, 2021!

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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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