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Skeptics Society News and Site Highlights

Discover INSIGHT at Skeptic.com Skeptic Presents: Michael Shermer Interviews Pope Francis Skeptic Magazine Summer Sale: Save up to 70% off, now thru Sept. 21, 2014 Big names. Even Bigger Ideas. The Skeptics Society’s Disintinguished Science Lecture Series. Now available for rent on Vimeo On Demand. Plesiosaur Peril: Book 3 in the Tales of Prehistoric Life series, available March 1, 2014. Order your copy today for $16.95.

Skeptic Science Lectures: on Vimeo On Demand

Skeptic Presents…

Follow Michael Shermer on Twitter

The Baloney Detection Kit

Upcoming Lecture

Dr. Gregory Hickok

The Myth of
Mirror Neurons

lecture by Dr. Gregory Hickok
Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 2 pm

IN THIS MYTH-BUSTING TALK based on his new book, U.C. Irvine cognitive scientist Dr. Gregory Hickok calls for an essential reconsideration of one of the most far-reaching theories in modern neuroscience and psychology. Ever since the discovery of mirror neurons in macaque monkeys in 1992 there has been a stream of scientific studies implicating mirror neurons in everything from schizophrenia and drug abuse to sexual orientation and contagious yawning. Drawing on a broad range of observations from work on animal behavior, modern neuroimaging, neurological disorders, and more, Dr. Hickok argues that the foundational assumptions fall flat in light of the facts. He then explores alternative explanations of mirror neuron function while illuminating crucial questions about human cognition and brain function: Why do humans imitate so prodigiously? How different are the left and right hemispheres of the brain? Why do we have two visual systems? Do we need to be able to talk to understand speech? What’s going wrong in autism? Dr. Hickok provides deep insights into the organization and function of the human brain and the nature of communication and cognition. Order The Myth of Mirror Neurons from Amazon. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Free PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this free PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society…

our podcasts

Skepticality— the official podcast of Skeptic magazine

Skepticality — the pioneering original skeptics podcast — is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews.

MonsterTalk— presented by Skeptic magazine

MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.

Skepticism 101

Skeptical Resources Freely Available to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

The Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource Center is a comprehensive, free repository of resources for teaching students how to think skeptically. This Center contains an ever-growing selection of books, reading lists, course syllabi, in-class exercises, PowerPoint presentations, student projects, papers, and videos that you may download and use in your own classes.

The Skeptical Movement

Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?

We’re pleased to present Daniel Loxton’s challenging and provocative new project, “Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?”. Almost two years in the writing, these two meticulously-researched chapter-length explorations dig deeply into the roots, founding principles, and purpose of scientific skepticism. Arguing that it is essential for skeptics to “appreciate that we’re caretakers for the work of those who have come before,” Loxton carries forward the discussion about the scope and limits of scientific skepticism.

geology tours

Grand Canyon,
Zion & Bryce

June 13-20, 2014
SOLD OUT

JOIN US AS WE TRAVEL through an iconic landscape that reveals one of the most studied sequences of layered rock on earth! We will spend a day and and two nights at the less-visited North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a day to explore majestic Zion Canyon, a day visit to Bryce Canyon, plus additional stops at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Museum, Calico Ghost Town, Virgin River Gorge, the Dinosaur Museum in St. George, Utah, and two nights in Las Vegas. Through the entire trip, we will learn about the geology and natural history of the majestic scenery, making this a tour you could get nowhere else!

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geology tours!

Interested in participating on future Scientific Exploration Geology and Science Tours? Enter your email address here to get priority notification of future events (we will not share your address with any other parties).



global warming

How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused

Donald R. Prothero addresses climate change denialism head on, demolishing deniers’ arguments and rebuttals, and clearly demonstrating how we know global warming is real and human caused.

Junior Skeptic # 52

Junior Skeptic issue 52 (detail of cover)

Photographing Phantoms—Part Two

Shortly after it was invented by the slippery Mr. Mumler and his wife, other photographers said they too could capture ghosts on film. Why did so many people believe these claims? If any spirit photographs were genuine—could we tell? And with tricksters trying to fool people, how could folks detect photographic fakery?

Science Lectures
For Rent Online

Big names. Even Bigger Ideas. The Skeptics Society's Disintinguished Science Lecture Series. Now available for rent on Vimeo On Demand.

Since 1992, the Skeptics Society has sponsored the Distinguished Science Lecture Series, hosting 350 of the biggest names in science. This series of lectures has covered the most cutting edge discoveries and controversial topics in all of science, and enabled students, educators, and the general public to hear what’s new in science and skepticism. You can watch some of our most popular science lectures online, on demand, around the world, at prices we think you’ll really like!

Science Education ≠ Skepticism

Science Education is
No Guarantee of Skepticism

Despite the best efforts of skeptics and teachers to advance scientific thinking, paranormal beliefs and pseudoscientific thinking continue to be commonplace. It is a common popular stereotype that knowledge of science and belief in the paranormal are like opposite ends of a teeter totter: with one tending to rise as the other falls. However, the landscape of belief is considerably more complicated than that. Science education may not be enough when we lack the ability to critically evaluate the evidence for claims. In this article from Skeptic 9.3 we examine the relationship between science knowledge and paranormal beliefs.

this week’s eSkeptic

Atheist Spirituality

“Is there a happiness that does not depend upon having one’s favorite foods available, or friends and loved ones within arm’s reach, or good books to read, or something to look forward to on the weekend? Is it possible to be happy before anything happens…in spite of life’s difficulties, in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease and death?… [M]ost of us are living as though the answer were ‘no.’” says Sam Harris in his new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, reviewed by Sigfried Gold in this week’s eSkeptic. The book is available in stores on September 9, 2014.

last week’s eSkeptic

Skeptic 19.3
The Multiverse

In this week’s eSkeptic, we announce Skeptic magazine issue 19.3 on The Multiverse; Michael Shermer discusses how the survivor bias distorts reality in his Scientific American column for September; Daniel Loxton gets shortlisted as a Finalist for a National Literary Prize; and Chris Impey lectures on the intersection between science and Tibetan Buddhism.

Latest INSIGHTS

INSIGHT at Skeptic.com brings together a variety of accomplished voices for a broad-ranging but focussed discussion of science and skepticism. INSIGHT will shed light, offer critical perspective, and serve as a broadly accessible, evidence-based resource on mysteries of science, paranormal claims, and the wild, woolly, wonderful weirdness of the fringe.

What is organized skepticism good for, and does it matter?

Jim Lippard discusses the birth of the modern skeptical movement, and introduces some of the questions he plans to ask about the successes, shortcomings, and conceptual foundations for that ongoing project.

Welcome to INSIGHT at Skeptic.com

Daniel Loxton introduces the Skeptics Society's brand new group blog, INSIGHT at Skeptic.com, and invites people from all walks of life to share in the spirit of curiosity.

INSIGHT at Skeptic.com: Comment Policy

Daniel Loxton explains the Comment Policy for the Skeptic Society's new group blog, INSIGHT at Skeptic.com.

Skeptic Presents:
Humour & Skepticism

Skeptic Presents is a series of videos that promote science and critical thinking through the use of humor, wit, and satire. With your support, we hope to produce these instructional, educational, and entertaining videos regularly throughout the year for free viewing for everyone, everywhere, to spread the message of the power of science and skepticism to make the world a saner, safer place.

Skeptic Magazine App

Get the Skeptic Magazine App

Get the free Skeptic Magazine App and enjoy digital subscriptions and back issues on your iOS and Android devices, PC, Mac, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Windows 8 devices!

The Vaccine Debate

Engaging the
Anti-vaxxers

Vaccines are one of science’s greatest achievements. Yet, fears and anxieties about immunization persist. In this article, Christian Orlic reviews Mark A. Largent’s new book Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America (2012, John Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-1421406077).

latest additions to
the reading room

Closer To Truth: Does the Cosmos Have a Reason?

What remarkable discoveries are being made in cosmology! Cosmologists now develop credible theories about the beginning and end of our universe and theory-based speculations about vast numbers of multiple universes. But does the cosmos have a reason? Could revolutionary ideas support some kind of 'universal reason'? The bar is set high, and it is OK to say no. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.

Closer To Truth: Does Evil Refute God’s Existence?

Evil is a high hurdle for theists. Given the savagery of moral evil (what humans do to humans) and the horrors of natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis, disease), how could an all-powerful and all-good God exist? Philosophers offer defenses (evil and God do not contradict) and theodicies (reasons why God allows evil). The problem is the sheer amount of evil. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.

Closer To Truth: Atheism’s Arguments Against God?

Let's understand the arguments of atheism. Let's examine both kinds of anti-God arguments: those that refute the existence of God and those that promote the veracity of atheism. There are many diverse arguments in both categories. Which are the best? What is the prosecution by atheists? What is the defense by theists? Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.

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our free newsletter

Science in your inbox every Wednesday!

eSkeptic is our free email newsletter, delivered once a week. In it, you’ll receive: fascinating articles, announcements, podcasts, book reviews, and more…


Popular Articles
on skeptic.com

Here are the articles that people have been sharing over the last few days.

Carbon Comic

Carbon Comic (by Kyle Sanders)

Carbon Comic, which appears in Skeptic magazine, is created by Kyle Sanders: a pilot and founder of Little Rock, Arkansas’ Skeptics in The Pub. He is also a cartoonist who authors Carbon Dating: a skeptical comic strip about science, pseudoscience, and relationships. It can be found at carboncomic.com.

Help the
Skeptics Society
at no cost to you!

Planning on shopping at Amazon? By clicking on our Amazon affiliate link, which will open the Amazon Store in your Internet browser, the Skeptics Society will receive a small commission on your purchase. Your prices for all products remain the same, yet you’ll provide essential financial support for the work of the nonprofit Skeptics Society.

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See our affiliate links page for Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble links.

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

Reality Check

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future

The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country—all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine

Topics include: chiropractic, the placebo effect, homeopathy, acupuncture, and the questionable benefits of organic food, detoxification, and ‘natural’ remedies.

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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