If you have seen the dreadful History Channel series on “Ancient Aliens,” in which any artifact whatsoever is twisted into “evidence” for visitation by extra-terrestrial intelligences in our ancient past, you’ve probably been wondering where the rebuttal is to all these claims. Well, thanks to the erstwhile efforts of skeptic and Christian Chris White, this video is a complete analysis that will give you all the ammo you need to respond to people who breathlessly proclaim that they saw this “documentary” on the History Channel that offers “proof” of alien visitation. You can say, “not so fast!” And then tell them what we actually know about ancient history and aliens (and the lack thereof). If you’d like to contact Chris White, the producer of this debunking film, he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit ancientaliensdebunked.com.
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.
lecture by Dr. Adam Grant
Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 2 pm
WHILE WE JOKE that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can’t compare to those of other animals. For instance: the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than 50 times his size. Female cichlids must guard their eggs and larvae—even from the hungry appetites of their own partners. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist? This lecture, based on her book, explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world. From the fields of Spain to the deep oceans, evolutionary biologist Daphne Fairbairn uncovers the unique and bizarre characteristics that exist in these remarkable species and the special strategies they use to maximize reproductive success. Fairbairn also considers humans and explains that although we are keenly aware of our own sexual differences, they are unexceptional within the vast animal world.
Skepticality — the pioneering original skeptics podcast — is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews.
MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.
SkepticBlog is a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism including. Regular bloggers include: Brian Dunning, Daniel Loxton, Donald Prothero, Mark Edward, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella.$errorCode = 9
In this 14-minute introduction to skepticism, Dr. Michael Shermer (Executive Director of the Skeptics Society) discusses why people believe weird things and elaborates on the power of belief systems. This lecture was delivered at the 2006 TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in Monterey, California.
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.
In this issue of Junior Skeptic, we’ll look at two women, Mary Sullivan and Rose Mackenberg, who did hard core skeptical investigations during the first half of the twentieth century. Both worked in law enforcement, catching fake psychic crooks—and putting them behind bars. And yet, both women are almost completely forgotten today. Who were these skeptics—and why did they do what they did?
Led by paleontologist/geologist Dr. Donald R. Prothero, our often multi-day excursions tour some of the best geologic wonders in the United States. Visit some of the richest dinosaur-bearing deposits in the world, and collect amazing trilobites. Decipher the geologic story behind the amazing scenery at Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef National Parks, Death Valley, Kelso Dunes, the Great Basin, Redrock Canyon and more.
January 19–21, 2013
A fun three-day trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley to Red Rock Canyon this coming MLK weekend! We will reprise part of our popular Death Valley trip, but reverse the direction and go to some new stops. We will focus on the north half of Death Valley this time, with stops at Scotty’s Castle, Ubehebe Crater, and Rhyolite ghost town in Nevada. We will also revisit our popular stop at Calico ghost town, visit the gigantic Kelso Dunes, and on the way home see Pinnacles National Natural Landmark and Red Rock Canyon.
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Dr. Michael Shermer presented his “greatest hits” from 20 years of adventures in science and pseudoscience, skepticism and critical thinking.
Topics included: science and pseudoscience • the psychology and neuroscience of belief • evolution and intelligent design • science and religion • the evolutionary origins of morality • how to be good without God • the Baloney Detection Kit • how beliefs can be changed • how to get people to stop believing weird things.
The event also featured special appearances and presentations by James “The Amazing” Randi, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and a unique appearance of Mr. Deity who at long last answered Stephen Hawking’s question of why the universe goes to all the bother of existing.
Deepak and Shermer debate the question of life after death.
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On April 21, 2003, the day before her 17th birthday, Amanda Berry was kidnapped in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2004, on an episode of the Montel Williams show, “psychic” Sylvia Browne told Amanda’s mother that Amanda was dead. Sylvia Browne’s “psychic powers” failed miserably that day. Amanda Berry is alive today, having escaped from the house where she had been held for 10 years. In this week’s eSkeptic, in light of these recent events, Ingrid Hansen Smythe reviews Sylvia Browne’s latest book Past Lives of the Rich and Famous in order to glean some insight into the mind of the “great psychic.”
In this eSkeptic, Trevor Fehrman reviews Eric Walter’s documentary film My Amityville Horror (IFC Films 2012), in which, for the first time ever, Daniel Lutz delivers his perspective on perhaps the most famous ghost story in America: the 1975 Amityville haunting.
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).
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.
Is there any scientific validity to the claims of 9/11 controlled demolition conspiracists about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings? This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center Buildings. 9/11 conspiracists such as Richard Gage (a member of the American Institute of Architects and founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth) continue to assert that WTC7 was brought down by controlled demolition. In this eSkeptic, we present Chris Mohr’s thorough analysis of the controlled demolition theory, based on his debate with Richard Gage earlier this year.
Michael Shermer discusses the belief in life after death.
On December 14, 2012, 20-year old Adam Lanza broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, killing 20 children and six adults—and then himself—after first slaying his mother Nancy Lanza in their home. In this article from Skeptic magazine issue 18.1 (2013), Michael Shermer takes a look at why preventing highly improbable mass murders like that at Sandy Hook Elementary School is impossible, and discusses what social science research shows are the most reliable means to decreasing violence overall.
Oklahoma City, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. The list of mass murders in America grows and grows. Why? And what can we do about it? In this article, David Hillshafer has aggregated large amounts of data from reputable sources with an aim toward providing evidence-based suggestions for possible solutions.
Daniel Loxton, Editor of Junior Skeptic (and the organizer behind What Do I Do Next? 105 Practical Ways to Promote Skepticism and Advance Science) addresses the importance of Wikipedia. Find out how grassroots skeptics can help ensure that Wikipedia is a science-based public resource.
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Can’t make it to Caltech for a Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture? Watch the live stream of our lectures for free online, right here, broadcast live from Caltech!
Here are the articles that people have been sharing over the last few days.
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In this, his magnum opus, Dr. Michael Shermer presents his comprehensive theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. Sam Harris calls The Believing Brain “a wonderfully lucid, accessible, and wide-ranging account of the boundary between justified and unjustified belief.” Leonard Mlodinow calls it “a tour de force integrating neuroscience and the social sciences.”
This concise pamphlet provides answers to common objections to evolution, such as: If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans?; Only an intelligent designer could have made something as complex as an eye; The second law of thermo-dynamics proves that evolution is impossible; Evolution can’t account for morality; and more…
Harriet Hall, MD (aka the SkepDoc), shares her wit and wisdom about alternative medicine including: chiropractic, the placebo effect, homeopathy, acupuncture, and the questionable benefits of organic food, detoxification, and ‘natural’ remedies.
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation. While some psychics are known to cheat and acquire information ahead of time, these ten tips focus on what is known as “cold reading” — reading someone “cold” without any prior knowledge about them.