The Fires of Creationists, and Rallying for Science
You have to hand it to the creationists, especially the “young-Earth” variety. They are endlessly creative in concocting new rationales for their worldviews. Even when they have to twist into mental contortions, they manage to say it all with a straight face. For example, if, as they contend, the Earth is only six thousand years …
Academies Report Urges Bolstered Efforts to Protect Integrity of Science
The scientific enterprise places high value on honesty and openness. These and other values serve it well. Nevertheless, a variety of challenges to the integrity of scientific research have been cause for much recent soul-searching. There is growing concern, for example, that substantial percentages of published results in some fields, biomedicine and psychology in particular, …
A Scientist Pushes Psychology Journals toward Open Data
The March 9 Nature reported some disturbing news: “An editor on the board of a journal published by the prestigious American Psychological Association (APA) has been asked to resign in a controversy over data sharing in peer review.” The controversy arose when psychologist Gert Storm declared that he would review only papers whose data he …
Burzynski Sanctioned by Texas Medical Board
On March 3, 2017, the Texas Medical Board sanctioned Houston internist Stanislaw Burzynski for over a hundred violations related to his cancer clinic. However, despite these sanctions, Burzynski will be allowed to keep his medical license and continue to practice on patients. For decades, Burzynski has peddled a chemotherapy he calls “antineoplastons” (ANP) under the …
Hans Rosling Brought Data to Life, Showed Our Misconceptions about the World
Many skeptics outside Sweden first encountered Professor Hans Rosling at the European Skeptics Congress 2013 in Stockholm. That was a day engraved in our memories. Rosling had enthralled us with his fascinating presentation of the world’s data. How wrong we were about so many things that we believed about the world. Years earlier, in 2006, …
Humanities, Too: In New Study, History Courses in Critical Thinking Reduce Pseudoscientific Beliefs
We often think of the need for critical thinking in the context of nonscientific approaches to extraordinary claims about the natural world. We call that pseudoscience, and as an antidote we often prescribe more science courses, especially those focusing on skeptical thinking. But critical thinking is not unique to the sciences. A study by two …
Murder by Darkness: Does Mammoth Cave’s Specter Harbor a Secret?
Joe Nickell solves the case of an unlikely ghost, hidden in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave
The Farce Known as ‘FC’
James Randi addresses the sham of ‘Facilitated Communication’
The Monster of Florence: Case Closed? The Terrifying Story of the Most Infamous Ritual Murders inItalian History, Part 1
Fernando Pucci recently died at age eighty-six. He was the last of the serial killers collectively known as the “Mostro di Firenze,” the Monster of Florence, or “i compagni di merende,” the “picknicking friends,” as they started to be called during trials after one of the convicted killers, Mario Vanni, described his relationship with the …
The March for Science
Partisan protests put public trust in scientists at risk.
Can Anything Save Us fromUnintended Consequences?
Quick quiz: What caused the Great Recession of 2008? OK, I admit it. That’s an unfair question. It was complicated. If you’ve done some homework, you might be able to mumble something about a housing bubble, subprime lending, mortgage-backed securities, credit-default swaps, big banks, irresponsible borrowers, George W. Bush, Barack Obama…. But there is one …
The Phoenix Driveway Ghost
Ben Radford explains a strange mist found in a Phoenix woman’s driveway.
Letters to The Editor
Enthusiastic Response Your March/April 2017 issue has provoked me to make an enthusiastic response. I’m a longtime subscriber since the early ’80s. I had seen your journal mentioned in an article and was very curious. I actually had to write to the publisher to get a subscription. First, Lindsay’s “Why Skepticism?” spoke to my own …
Fire-Breathing Dinosaurs? Physics, Fossils, and Functional Morphology vs. Pseudoscience
To support their claim that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, numerous antievolution publications—including grade-school science textbooks—assert that dragon legends were inspired by human encounters with fire-breathing dinosaurs. Here’s why that’s unrealistic.
Did Australia’s Aborigines See Plesiosaurs? Yes-in a Children’s Book
According to the young-Earth creationist (YEC) worldview, God created the Earth and the rest of the universe during a single week about 6,000 years ago, and he created humans and other kinds of organisms independently during the same week, as described in Genesis. This view rejects the abundant physical evidence that the Earth is over …
JonBenet Murder Mystery Solved? (Not by Psychics)
The death of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey went unsolved for two decades. Psychics were worse than useless, but the author’s proposed solution resulted from evaluating the best evidence.
‘Psychic Detective’ Noreen Renier: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas from a Grieving Family
Newly obtained recordings provide a unique opportunity to assess the sessions of a genuine “psychic detective” police case.
The Danger of Chromotherapy
Chromotherapy, also known as color therapy, is a pseudomedicine based on a holistic approach and on a mixture of esoteric and scientific concepts. In a nutshell, it is the use of colored light applied on the skin or eyes to heal various health disorders, assuming some (scientifically undescribed) beneficial effects of color on body and …
An Investigation of the Missing411 Conspiracy
In his “Missing411” series of books, author David Paulides claims that people are going missing from U.S. national parks under unusual circumstances and the National Park Service is obstructing attempts to investigate. What are the facts?
Maria Konnikova Wins CSI’s Balles Prize in Critical Thinking for The Confidence Game
In her acclaimed bestselling book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time, New Yorker staff writer Maria Konnikova reveals the nefarious tricks of the con artist’s trade, showing us how frauds and charlatans manipulate us by playing on our vulnerabilities and what we perceive to be our best qualities. She does so with …
Why We Often Get Risks Wrong
Geoffrey Kabat debunks elusive health risks in his new book.
A Good Analysis of Bad UFO Information
Robert Sheaffer is one of the—if not the—world’s top experts on the subject of unidentified flying objects and claims of extraterrestrials, and he shares that knowledge in his new book Bad UFOs.
The Bigfoot Obsession
Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot. By Joe Gisondi. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-8032-4994-3. 278 pp. Softcover, $18.95. With Joe Gisondi’s Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot, the subtitle says it all. Gisondi, an outsider, traveled with Bigfooters—those credulous folk motivated to search for the fabled creature despite zero scientific …