When Environmentalism Clashes with Science
Protecting the environment is a worthy goal. The quality of our lives depends on the quality of the environment. We all need clean air, clean drinking water, and healthy food to have a healthy life. Poor air quality increases the risks of respiratory illnesses. Degrading soil health and warming global temperatures challenge continued food production. …
Aliens There but Not Here
Despite the beliefs of many people, scientists have yet to find any compelling evidence for life beyond Earth. But that doesn’t mean we’re alone. If our world is the only place where biology exists, then life isn’t a frequent product of natural processes; it’s a miracle. The support for this daring statement is simple. In …
How to Win the New Climate War
“There is general scientific agreement that … mankind is influencing the global climate … through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels. … There are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered. … Man has a time window of five to ten years before … hard decisions regarding … energy strategies might …
Witch Hunting Requires an International Response
Cover Image: A “witch” shelter in Ghana. Photo from Vice News. One of the state’s overarching obligations is protection of its citizens. Accordingly, a modern state must fulfill—or be made to fulfill—this duty. The state is supposed to ensure the security of lives and property. Discussions on the responsibility to protect human lives have …
What We Get Wrong When We Talk about UFOs
If you’re reluctant to believe the latest round of media claims that alien spacecraft are lurking around our airspace and surprising Navy pilots, well, you are not alone. The New York Times leaned toward aliens as the reason Navy pilots have seen unexplained flying objects,1 and the Washington Post made a similar case in its news coverage …
Massless Is Not Nonmaterial
Pseudoscientists and Eastern mystagogues have been propagating the myth that only objects that have mass are material. Their efforts have been so successful that even some physicists adhere to that myth. Here is an astrophysicist describing the myth to a gleeful Dalai Lama: “You can see [energy transforming into mass] happening in elementary particle processes. …
Flat-Earth School Board Presentation Intelligently Designed
The turf war over science education recently took a new turn. Marilyn Teed told the Methacton School District, outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that it was teaching what could be an outright lie: that Earth is a sphere. She then explained, in all seriousness, her case that Earth is actually flat. I’m going to defend Teed, but …
You Can’t Fit What We Skeptics Do into a Neat Box
We scientific skeptics, we skeptical inquirers, do it all. I am sure one of us somewhere is right now going after some extraordinary claim none of us has even heard of yet, studying it in depth and critiquing it with all the tools of science and skepticism. She—or he—will soon let the rest of us …
Embracing Option D: Knowing When You Don’t Know
I am often asked to examine seemingly mysterious and inherently ambiguous photos. Usually the person asking has already settled—sometimes tentatively, more often strongly—on a specific interpretation. They know what the photo shows and want my independent confirmation that their favored interpretation is correct. That shadowy blur in the distant forest is a Bigfoot; that weird …
The Salton Sea Flat Earth Test: When Skeptics Meet Deniers
Today, skeptics fight not only false assertions and misinterpretation of facts but also a fundamental distrust of science and a deep-seated paranoia about reputable institutions lying to the entire culture.
Thoughts on Visiting Darwin’s Home, Down House
I am always interested in seeing how countries and cultures honor their scientists, thinkers, and innovators. Today, entertainers and athletes get the bulk of popular acclaim. I don’t begrudge their fame—it is well deserved—but it is always nice to see when people who have advanced our understanding of the world in profound ways get their …
We Need a Paradigm Shift in Science Advocacy
As an illustrative example, a 1982 Gallup poll asked a question regarding opinions on human evolution. At the time, 44 percent said they believed God made man supernaturally in our current form. In a 2014 poll, 42 percent still answered the same (Gallup 2015). The future does not hold promise of rapid improvement. Michael B. …
Why Did We Call Prince Charles Foolish and Immoral?
Charles’s foolishness in respect to the promotion of quackery has, in my opinion, been demonstrated multiple times.
Flat-Earth Anxieties Reflect Misplaced Priorities
The potential and kinetic energy devoted to counter the flat-earth movement is wasteful and misguided. It reveals a broad naiveté about which forms of pseudoscience have real gravitas.
In Troubled Times, This Is What We Do
We all must support critical inquiry and evidence-based thinking. We must honor those who do it, often at some considerable sacrifice to themselves.
Why Pseudoscience Should Be Taught in College
The academic community doesn’t seem to take the spread of pseudoscience seriously. This is a serious problem that skeptics must face. Three facts made me aware of the necessity of teaching pseudoscience at colleges and universities. The first was the visit of a doctor—a friend of the family—who, when I started to debunk pseudoscience, replied: …
Skepticism, at Heart, Is Not Partisan
Skeptics cannot support political claims that are simply at odds with reasonable interpretations of the existing evidence. However, they should, when speaking as skeptics, stop short of denigrating an entire political viewpoint.
Illusions of Memory
These are remarks by psychologist and CSI Fellow Elizabeth Loftus accepting an honorary doctorate at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Homeopathy ‘Unsupported, Ineffective, Dangerous’: CFI Testimony to FDA
The full text of invited testimony by the Center for Inquiry at the April 20, 2015, hearing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on “Homeopathic Product Regulation: Evaluating the FDA’s Regulatory Framework After a Quarter-Century.”
Organized Skepticism: Four Decades … and Today
Just over forty years ago, the world was awash in unexamined paranormalism. But a scientific response to all the nonsense was beginning to brew.
Reduce Greenhouse Emissions and Make a Profit: My Forty-Year Focus on Climate Change
My experience suggests a contrarian view on the climate change debate that may be worth sharing with my fellow skeptics, including those of you skeptical of climate science.
Why We Do This: Revisiting the Higher Values of Skeptical Inquiry
I want to give some brief historical perspective about the skeptical movement, take a look at some new trends, and revisit a theme I’ve emphasized before, reminding ourselves why we do this: the higher values of skeptical inquiry.