Chinese Ape-Men: In Science and Myth
The term ape-man is used in two major ways. As CFI’s visiting scholar in China during October 2010, I encountered—so to speak—an example of each of these two types of ape man, which some believe are related. As we shall see, each has proved elusive in its own way.
Some attempt to correlate the various stories from different tribes of indigenous people into modern Thunderbird sightings. However, when one looks a little more critically at these legends, it is clear they serve a much different purpose.
Cryptozoology and Pseudoscience
When I was a kid, cryptozoology books repeatedly advocated the existence of creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster using the same dramatic stories. At first, I was swayed by these stories, but eventually I got bored with them. Something was missing. Stories only got me so far. . .
Psychic Mary Occhino Doesn’t Know Best
Over the years, Occhino has claimed to assist in missing persons cases, talk to the dead, and peer into the futures of celebrity lives. This article delves into Occhino’s predictions and activities, revealing that while Occhino is short on claims, her claims are short on independent proof. . .
On a Wing and a Prayer: The Search for Guardian Angels
Are these experiences really supernatural? Or are they only natural, the result of misperceptions and even misreporting? A look into the phenomenon of claimed guardian-angel encounters is illuminating.
Return of the Living Dead: The Final Chapter
Although most of us haven’t had the exhilarating and life-affirming experience of nearly dying, a lucky few have returned from being “living challenged” to report their near-death experiences (NDE).
The Doctor’s Ghostly Visitor: Tracking ‘The Girl in the Snow’
Although skeptics insist ghosts are unreal, there are many ghostly encounters that seem to present startling evidence to the contrary. One such incident is presented in the book The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales by Ruth Ann Musick.
Heralding the End of Discovery?
A review of The End of Discovery by Russell Stannard.
The Atlanta Child Murders: Evidence vs. Psychics
While television often offers pseudoscience and fantasy instead of lessons in critical thinking (consider shows like The Ghost Whisperer), there are noteworthy exceptions. One is Soledad O’Brien’s CNN special Atlanta Child Murders (2010).
Tripping on the Trebuchet: An Interview with George Hrab
Musician and skeptic George Hrab recently sat down with Skeptical Briefs to discuss his latest album, Trebuchet, his Geologic Show at Dragon*Con, and why bald guys are just plain smarter than everyone else.
The Problem with the Cosmological Constant
Einstein had inserted into his gravitational equation a factor called the cosmological constant that provided a repulsive force to counteract the gravitational attraction that otherwise would make the universe collapse. Although the cosmological constant is often referred to as a “fudge factor,” that is a misnomer.
Shootout with Martians: In the Wake of the 1938 Broadcast Panic
A visit to an art exhibit—based on Orson Welles’s famous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast—at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo introduced me to a remarkable incident that reportedly occurred during the “panic” caused by Welles’s dramatized Martian invasion.
Did the Universe Come from Nothing?
They will tell you that they intuitively feel that something must be “out there,” some power that is responsible for the universe and the laws that govern it. After all, they ask, “How can something come from nothing?”
Alone on the Loch: One Man’s Search for Nessie
I found Feltham more or less by accident. I was at Scotland’s famous loch for about a week following a speaking engagement in London…
Scientific Investigation vs. Ghost Hunters
I have often crossed paths with The Atlantic Paranormal Society, headed by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, stars of the popular Ghost Hunters series.
How to Talk to Philosophers
A review of Philosophy Bites: 25 Philosophers on 25 Intriguing Subjects
Tijuana: Magic and Mystery
At first thought, Tijuana has little to do with the Olmecs, who lived in the rich lowlands of Mexico’s Gulf Coast and created a great civilization that was…
Is There Evidence for an Afterlife?
D’Souza claims that near-death experiences (NDE) suggest that consciousness can outlive the breakdown of the body, and they cannot be explained as the…
Close Encounter of the Secondhand Kind with ‘Psychic Medium’ George Anderson
One needs to listen to the entire recording to appreciate the endless stream of wild guesses and proffered questions that don’t offer any specific…
Shooting for The Sun
A physicist explains why the sun is a poor dumping ground for nuclear waste.
How to Talk to Philosophers
A review of “Philosophy Bites: 25 Philosophers on 25 Intriguing Subjects”
Is Carbon Production in Stars Fine-Tuned for Life?
For years theists have claimed that the constants of physics had to have been finely tuned by God for life in the universe to be possible…
A Skeptic Gets Schooled: An Introduction to Parapsychology
Within the U.K. and on the European continent, there appears to be a well-established number of parapsychology research groups situated within higher…
Paracelsus: The Magic and the Science
Among the significant European figures of the sixteenth century, Paracelsus (1493–1541) was a transitional figure in the contest between magical and…
How I Debated a 9/11 Truther and Survived
Every October, New Mexico Tech puts on an alumni reunion called “49ers.” As a Tech alumnus myself, my part of 49ers usually involves playing bass…
Thoughts and Matter
In his book God and the New Atheism, theologian John Haught calls naturalism “deeply self-contradictory.”
Elvis Lives! Investigating the Legends and Phenomena
Legendary American singer Elvis Presley is heralded not only as the major innovator, “The King,” of rock ‘n’ roll but also as a godlike figure…
There’s No Debate: Elvis Is Not Alive
“Elvis is alive.” We’ve heard this refrain for years. It is a well-traveled companion of popular culture. The notion that Elvis faked his death is…
The UFO Hunters Debacle
In early February 2009, I was sitting in my office when I received a phone call from one of the producers of the History Channel’s UFO Hunters…
A Skeptic’s Visit to Mythical Macchu Picchu
Hard-headed types like scientists and skeptical investigators are often seen as dour debunkers, devoid of magic and awe…
John Calvin and the Shroud of Turin
While writing an introduction for an edition of John Calvin’s 1543 Treatise on Relics, I became intrigued by a little mystery…
Jules Verne: The Founder of Technobabble
Every history of science fiction mentions Jules Verne (1828–1905). He wasn’t the first to write about a trip to the moon; that was done in Roman times…
Giving Up the Ghost in Gettysburg
Although we moved to a large town about twenty-five miles away from Gettysburg several years ago, I typically continue to…
The Deist Skeptic– Not a Contradiction
For a while now, I’ve been quite uncomfortable about an assumption sometimes expressed: “skepticism must equal atheism.”
The Image of Edessa Revealed
Among certain reputedly miraculous images of Jesus was the Image of Edessa, known later to the Byzantines as the Mandylion.
A Monstrous Approach to Boosting Tourism
Cayuga Lake has all the essentials: it’s long and deep (435 feet at points); it was once covered by ocean water…
Here’s Looking at You
If you hold this page up to a mirror, the mirrored image will display text that reads from right to left instead of…
Cagliostro: ‘Quack of Quacks’
While on a five-country investigative tour of Europe in 2007, I twice came upon historic residences of the master deceiver…
Think. Question. Grow.
Camp Inquiry Engages Children in Rational Skepticism
The Ballad of Jed (and the Pet Psychic)
Listen to my story ’bout a cat named Jed