CSICon in Limelight, The Selfish Gene Revisited
In this space last time I promised coverage in this issue of our CSICon 2016 Las Vegas conference. And here it is. We have an extended conference section. In addition, the feature articles by Ron Lindsay (“Why Skepticism?”), Carol Tavris (“Why We Believe—Long After We Shouldn’t”), and Paul A. Offit (“God’s Own Medicine”) are derived …
Center for Inquiry and Richard Dawkins Foundation Now Formally Merged
At the beginning of 2016, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDFRS) began a partnership combining the people, programs, and resources of these two extraordinary organizations to better advance our shared mission for reason, science, and secularism. Throughout the year, CFI and RDFRS have worked with passion …
FTC Will Regulate Marketing of Homeopathic Drugs
An agency of the federal government is finally taking systematic action to regulate marketing claims made for homeopathic products. On November 15, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an enforcement policy statement providing that over-the-counter homeopathic products must substantiate any claims of effectiveness with competent and reliable scientific evidence. If no such evidence exists—and …
Elizabeth Loftus Wins 2016 John Maddox Prize for Standing Up for Science
Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, an expert on the malleability of memory, has been awarded the 2016 John Maddox Prize for standing up for science. Loftus, a CSI fellow and member of CSI’s Executive Council, is Distinguished Professor of psychology and social behavior and criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine. Best known for …
Miracle Tableau: Knock, Ireland, 1879
The ability to see pictures in random forms—as in clouds, tea leaves, and inkblots—is known as pareidolia… Some publicized examples I have made pilgrimages to examine include the face of Jesus in the skillet burns of a tortilla…
The Dangerous Delusion about Vaccines and Autism
We’re already seeing a comeback of measles due to drops in vaccination rates.
‘UFO Disclosure’ Fizzles Again in 2016
We recently reported (“‘UFO Disclosure’ Happening Again This Year,” September/October 2016) about the excitement being generated by rumors of imminent “UFO Disclosure.” John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, is widely known to be a believer in UFOs and aliens. With the expectation of Clinton’s victory, lobbyist Steven Bassett of Paradigm Research Group (PRG) proclaimed that …
The Delectable Myths of Healthy and Healthier Obesity
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. —The Queen to Alice in Through the Looking Glass Wouldn’t it be splendid to have our cakes and eat them too? Arguably, both ideology and popular culture allow their followers to do just that. Until they don’t, of course. At that point, when …
Mystery of the Paulding Light
Of course, it’s more fun to imagine the distant glimmer is a ghostly railroad brakeman’s phantom lantern than the headlights of a 2005 Honda Civic.
The Selfish Gene Revisited
On the fortieth anniversary of the book that made him a scientific celebrity, biologist Richard Dawkins looks back at this “gene’s eye view” of evolution and finds it even more relevant today.
God’s Own Medicine
History’s unlearned lesson about pain relievers and addiction.
The issues we address are only “soft” targets in the sense that there may be little scientific support for some of these claims. But these claims actually can be very resilient because of ideological support or commercial interests.
Why We Believe —Long After We Shouldn’t
Our brains are wired for self-justification and dissonance-reduction. We can override that impulse by learning how to admit our mistakes and separate them from our self-esteem.
The Virtuous Skeptic
Shouldn’t Skeptics Know What They Are Talking about When They Are Talking about It?
Still ‘Amazing’: A Conversation with James Randi
I took up being Harry Houdini, though I never claimed to be him. As a matter of fact, during my career I broke a couple of his records.
The John Maddox Prize Nomination for Elizabeth Loftus
Here are extended excerpts from Goldsmiths College (University of London) psychology professor Chris French’s letter nominating Elizabeth Loftus for the 2016 John Maddox Prize (see News and Comment, p. 7): I would like to nominate Professor Elizabeth Loftus for the John Maddox Prize. She is an outstanding candidate with respect to all of the listed …
Let Your Questioning Start with Wikipedia
Do you remember January 18, 2012? That was the day many websites protested the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were proposed laws in the U.S. Congress. Wikipedia for a whole day blacked out their site, instead displaying the message “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge” and asking people to …
Letters To The Editor
Nuclear Power and Risk Psychology In his excellent article on nuclear power (“Nuclear Power and the Psychology of Evaluating Risk,” November/December 2016), Daniel Vogel compares nuclear power to a hypothetical perfect alternative that is completely risk free. In spite of doing so, he makes an excellent case for why nuclear power is not the dirty …
The Scientist and the Philosopher
To review the 500-page memoirs of a ninety-seven-year-old, internationally renowned philosopher-scientist is at once an inspiring and challenging task. One cannot help but be inspired by the story of a young boy with an inquiring mind who escapes the intellectual shackles of the fascist society in which he is reared to become a highly respected …
What Ghosts Mean
“I have to admit that I’ve come to envy the people who reported having poltergeists in their home; they have a ready explanation for anything amiss in their household”