Science, Public Trust, And CSICon 2016
The 2016 presidential election campaign—one of the most bizarre in American history—is finally over. It preoccupied people in this country and worldwide for months. Deep healing and a return to some semblance of civility are essential. Whether or not that can be achieved, there are now other issues demanding our attention. One that deserved discussion …
Buzz Aldrin: What That Apollo 11 ‘UFO’ Really Was, And Why He Punched That Moon-Landing Denier
Buzz Aldrin is an American hero. The Apollo 11 astronaut walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong, the first two humans to do so. Now in his mid eighties and still full of that just-get-it-done spirit, he has become a tireless advocate of space exploration, especially a future manned mission to Mars. (He proudly sports …
The Legacy Of Fake Bomb Detectors In Iraq
After years of equipping important security checkpoints throughout Iraq with nonfunctioning bomb detectors, the Iraqi government has finally banned their use. According to an ABC News story (http://tinyurl.com/js5zyyb): For nearly a decade, anyone driving through one of Baghdad’s many checkpoints was subjected to a search by a soldier pointing a security wand at their vehicle …
Return Of the Phantom Clowns
In August 2016, creepy clowns were reported in Greenville, South Carolina, allegedly luring children into the woods behind a block of apartments. It’s scary and alarming—but whether they’re real or rumor is another matter. Most of the handful of reports were from children. No one was actually harmed by the menacing clowns, who children believe …
Philosopher And CSI Fellow Robert Carroll, Creator Of Skeptics Dictionary, Dies At Seventy-One
Robert Carroll, philosopher, CSI fellow, and prominent skeptic widely known for his online (and print) Skeptics Dictionary, died from pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer August 25, 2016. He was seventy-one. In his last hours, he was surrounded by family and Bob Dylan songs. His legacy lives on through his work, his writings, his inspiration, and in the …
Psychic Arrested In Exorcism Scam
In September 2016, a New York–based psychic was arrested for convincing a client that her failing marriage was caused by an evil spirit that could be driven out only by an expensive exorcism. According to a September 13, 2016, story in The Gothamist: An Upper East Side fortune teller was arrested this weekend after she …
Cómo superar a un Maestro de Tai Chi
Tai chi es una abreviatura de taiji quan, “boxeo máximo supremo”. Concebido hace siglos como un arte marcial, ahora también se practica —“Tai chi taoísta”— como técnica de ejercicios.
Claims of Chi: Besting a Tai Chi Master
Tai chi is a shortened form of taiji quan, “Supreme ultimate boxing.” Conceived centuries ago as a martial art, it is now also practiced—as “Taoist tai chi”—as an exercise technique…
‘Mirage Men’—Disinformation Agents Or Just A Mirage?
In UFOlogy today, the term Mirage Men is understood to signify supposed shadowy government agents who, for inscrutable reasons, are allegedly tricking the public—not by “debunking” UFOs but creating belief in UFOs and the like. The title comes from a 2010 book by the British author Mark Pilkington, Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, …
Ten Practical Tactics to Unravel the Uncanny
The plural of anecdote is not evidence.
The Superbug Crisis: False Beliefs about Antibiotics Are a Global Threat
Each year at least 2 million Americans battle serious bacterial infections that are resistant to one or more antibiotics, and at least 23,000 die annually as a direct result of those infections.
Consensus: Could Two Hundred Scientists Be Wrong?
In August of 2016, publication of a book about neuroscience’s most famous amnesia patient—known for decades only as H.M.—stirred up a controversy in the world of science. On August 3, the New York Times Magazine released an article adapted from Luke Dittrich’s book, Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets (Dittrich 2016a; 2016b). Two days later, …
Ghost Hunters in the Dark
Why do ghost hunters look for ghosts at night with the lights off?
Stem Cell Research: Still Embattled after All These Years
Had stem-cell research received the political support that it merits, it would probably have arrived by now at effective treatments for a number of severe chronic diseases.
Public Debate, Scientific Skepticism, and Science Denial
How can scientists navigate highly polarized public controversies and how can the public’s legitimate demand for involvement be accommodated without compromising the integrity of science?
Science vs. Silliness for Parents: Debunking the Myths of Child Psychology
Parents and students struggle to distinguish between pseudoscience and evidence-based ideas in child psychology. This study sampled the beliefs of 163 students and 205 parents on topics related to parenting and development.
Creationism In Europe
Many people regard creationism as a North American phenomenon. Indeed, polls over the past three decades have invariably shown that creationism is immensely popular in the United States. Between 40 and 50 percent of the American population endorses the belief that God created the Earth (and life on it) more or less as it is …
Project Greenglow: How Horizon Lost The Message In The Medium
Introduction Several years ago, I acquired a recording of Sibelius’s fifth symphony. This is one of his best-known works, but the version I received was the original 1915 one rather than the revised 1919 version, which until fairly recently was the only recording ever heard. What I expected were minor changes in orchestration, with perhaps …
No Time For Certainty
It has been said that a person with one wristwatch always knows what time it is. A person with two is never quite certain. The person with two watches is tormented if each displays a different time. A passerby asking for the time of day will induce a semi-painful mental dissonance. Most science and public …
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.
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.
Notable Articles About The Creation Of CSICop And Skeptical Inquirer
Susan Gerbic, founder of the Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia Project, contacted CSI to provide pictures and other information for an update to the Wikipedia article about Skeptical Inquirer. Several of us were involved in making content available for this endeavor, and Kendrick Frazier, the magazine’s editor, created a bibliography of important articles concerning the origin …
Letters To The Editor
Spread the Word Bill Nye’s “Promote Reason, Prevent Climate Catastrophes: Let’s Get ’Er Done” (September/October 2016) was a great article on critical thinking, but it misses the mark on two points. First, you are, as they say, “preaching to the choir” (sorry about the theistic reference). Send this to The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, …
The Last Laugh
© Quirkology Comics by Richard Worth & Jordan Collver Home Itch Remedies
The Story Of The Gene
The Gene: An Intimate History. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, New York, 2016. ISBN 978-1476733500. 592 pp. Hardcover, $32.00. Nearly six years ago, I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (SI, May/June 2011). It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. …