A Cancer Nurse Examines Alternative Medicine
“Oh my gosh, Carrie. I just had a shady experience with an alternative cancer treatment hospital, thirty minutes south of the California/Mexican border.” Those were the first words of an email I received from a cancer nurse recently. Nurse K, as I’ll call him, had been in touch here and there as he helped me …
Tijuana’s Alternative Cancer Treatments: Warnings and Side Effects
It is not hard to imagine that the empty hope offered in Tijuana will creep over the border soon, and that without the regulatory assurance of a strong FDA, ordinary Americans will not be able to tell an effective treatment from an ineffective one.
A Mentalist and a Paranormal Investigator in Vienna
“He believed he could hear voices in his head,” I said, and the audience burst into a roar of laughter. Perplexed, I coughed, “That wasn’t a laugh line!” and smiled. They laughed, uncomfortably…
Survey Shows Americans Fear Ghosts, the Government, and Each Other
The issues of paranormal and conspiracy claims, which have long been the focus of our work at Skeptical Inquirer, are finding new, interesting connections with these broader issues of how fear—especially irrational fear—works.
Myth Check: Was Hitler a Vegetarian?
Why are we still talking about Hitler at the dinner table?
“That Doesn’t Mean It Really Happened”: An Interview with Elizabeth Loftus
This kind of work can help us appreciate a lot of the things that the skeptic community cares about. How is it people think that they saw UFOs? How is it that people can think they were abducted by aliens? Or, how is it that people see Jesus in toast?
Skeptics Can Be Conned Too: An Interview with Maria Konnikova
I think I’m fighting against overconfidence, right? This belief that all you need to do is be cynical and skeptical to avoid being conned… And what I say to that, and this is a point that I may or may not make in my actual talk, is that con artists get conned all the time—the best con artists in the world!
Dream Meditation Is a Bit of a Snore
Whatever Dream Reality Cinema is offering me, it isn’t science. It is a pleasant experience—the first time, anyway—but a costly one.
Giving Nootropics a New Try
Nootropics, by definition, certainly exist. But when we talk about nootropics anecdotally, we often mean something else: drugs that exist on the fringe, not yet completely acknowledged by science, or outright sidelined by it.
The question remains: If I get a coffee at my local takeout or make tea from my kettle is it typically hot enough to raise my cancer risk?
Is the Scientology Personality Test Scientific?
We just wanted to see whether the OCA would give us any special insight that other personality tests, such as the famed Myers Briggs Type Indicator, didn’t offer… As we explained that we were there to take the personality test, voluntarily, rather than being prompted on the street, her eyes grew wider.
Online Harassment: Citation Needed
No study is perfect, and any study will face its limitations. This is why we rely on reporters to analyze and accurately report on research, going beneath the headlines and press releases.
10 Astounding Moments in a Creationist Textbook: Revisting Of Pandas and People
There’s a tricky thing about science. If you base your theory on gaps in scientific knowledge, your theory will only last until science closes those gaps.
The Woman Who Took On Popoff: The Hidden Story of Crystal Sanchez, the Peter Popoff Whistleblower
Peter Popoff says he’s a healer and a prophet of God. His former employee says he’s something quite different.
I’m an ENFP: We’re Confused by Personality Tests
As far as confirmation bias goes, it had been working against Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs had won. I was impressed. But is impressive enough to make it useful?
What’s Wrong with Dr. Phil
I went to visit Dr. Phil myself last week. The show is taped just a mile from my home in Los Angeles. Obtaining tickets was one website visit and a phone call away. In no time, I had two tickets to be in the audience the very next week.
“Gorgeouspil” Didn’t Make Me More Gorgeous
Starting to feel age tugging at your jaw line? Does your doctor tell you that you have a case of the uglies? You need a little Alex Chiu.
Does a New Documentary Prove Shaken Baby Syndrome Doesn’t Exist?
The Syndrome Sabotages Its Credibility.
My Ninety Seconds of Cryotherapy
The emails were adamant. Everyone wanted me to undergo cryotherapy: step into a -260°F stall, alone and naked, for three minutes, and feel the toxins flutter away into the ether.
Do Essential Oils Cure Everything?
My understanding of essentially oils was essentially (sorry) that they were concentrated versions of various smelly things: lavender, eucalyptus, rose. And that aromatherapy enthusiasts used different smells to evoke different emotions or mental states. But aromatherapy turns out to be only a small part of the essential oils movement.
Will This New Study Help End Schizophrenia?
This fall’s announcement that schizophrenia is likely not one, but as many as eight disorders, could impact treatment for almost as many Americans as there are people in Los Angeles.
I Oil Pulled for a Month and All I Got Was This Sore Tongue
All I had to do to perfect my pearly whites was swish a tablespoon of oil (sunflower or sesame is preferred) around my mouth for twenty minutes a day, pulling toxins out of my teeth and gums and “improving my overall oral health.”
Milk Doesn’t Aggravate Autism: How PETA and Jenny McCarthy Became Unwitting Bedfellows
According to the animal rights group PETA, childhood autism may be diminished with a dairy-free diet. In fact, any such correlation has been roundly debunked.
The Weekend I Became a Reiki Healer
I am a Reiki practitioner, but I don’t believe in Reiki. That may sound like a contradiction, but apparently it isn’t.
Kevin Trudeau’s $18,000 Weight Loss Plan: A Book Review
It wasn’t selling snake oil that put Kevin in the slammer. In fact, it wasn’t even the “natural cures” books for which he became so famous. It was his relatively forgotten book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.
Not a Saint: How I Bought Con Man Kevin Trudeau’s Belongings
Kevin Trudeau doesn’t have very good taste. I know because I just got back from his house in Ojai, California. Or rather, the house he once owned.
A Grain of Truth: Recreating Dr. Emoto’s Rice Experiment
Are you a human? Do you have access to the internet? Then you may already know about Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist” who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it.
My First Trance
I sat with the older members of a group of twenty-eight people. Twenty were standing. I was the only guest. This was my second meeting with them. They often get together to pray, lay hands on the sick, and communicate with spirits. The spirits don’t talk back, but that doesn’t stop them.
Will Psychics “Cure” Cancer?
The online psychic industry is a seemingly bottomless collection of clairvoyants, tarot card readers, psychic healers, and other people in purple outfits.
Be Happy if You Want To: How I Became a Raëlian (Part Two)
The Raëlian Happiness Academy was the culmination of our five months undercover with the UFO-believing group. During those five months, we spent many hours in one Raëlian sister’s apartment, cross-legged and staring sublimely into one another’s eyes.
Be Happy If You Want To: How I Became a Raëlian (Part One)
Ross and I scurry into the Raëlian Happiness Academy four days late. The whole thing is supposed to last six days, but we will only be there two. They are the most important two—the final meditations and the baptism, which occurs on the last day.
Another Tower Fell: My Months with the 9/11 Truthers
Here in Los Angeles, there are two prominent Truther groups seemingly in competition. We have been attending the biggest and most active one. About twenty-five people attend each meeting. Each one is four to five hours long and mostly consists of Abel showing us YouTube videos and steamrolling conversations.
Hodag: The Legendary, Ugly, Smelly Beast of Wisconsin
Three things can kill a hodag: dynamite, chloroform, and lemons. If you see one, you are advised to keep any all-white bulldogs away (that’s all a hodag eats) and call your local fire department or animal control. If you decide to try to kill a hodag yourself, the risk is all on you.
Blowfish Hangover Remedy: Scam or Savior?
We each downed two tablets, the recommended dosage. Ross, having had a lot more to drink (he’s part-Irish, you know) considered taking extra, but the recommended dosage seemed advisable. We flipped the box over to see how much of each active ingredient was going into our systems.
Can a Brain Scan Tell You if Your Husband Loves You?
How Being in Love Made My Skin Look Great
Is Marijuana Medical? Part Two: My First Time
When I get my first bag of marijuana home, I have no idea what to do with it. Unlike most medicine, cannabis doesn’t come in a “dosage” so much as in “servings.”
Is Marijuana Medical? Part One: How I Got a Cannabis Prescription from a Porn Star
He looks a lot like a doctor from a soap opera: chiseled jaw and yellow-blonde hair. You’d definitely think his name was Keith, which it isn’t. Dr. Keith is going to decide if I can get a prescription for medical marijuana under California’s Proposition 215, the California Compassionate Care Act.
Bath and a Nap: Sound Bathing at the Integratron
Packed with forty or fifty people into a small, domed room in the California desert—a room supposedly blueprinted by aliens—listening to a middle-aged nurse play quartz singing bowls, a person might think they were supposed to stay awake. Not so. At the Integratron, falling asleep is a given.
Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose: My 30 Minutes at an Oxygen Bar
They will deliver us pure oxygen—double the amount we usually get in the air! It helps cure hangovers. It ends fatigue. It helps with muscle pain and weakness. It curbs jet lag. It dissolves headaches. Some places make even loftier claims about oxygen bars, like that they can help halt cancer or aid chi flow.