Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Magazine promoting scientific method, critical thinking and the skepticism of the paranormal and superstition.

Articles from Vol. 11, No. 4, Spring

Blind Men with an Elephant: Nature and Nurture Revisited
As a former behaviorist trained by a protege (Jim Dinsmoor) of Skinner's best friend in the field (Fred Keller), I am provisionally ready to accept Schlinger's recent claim at the conclusion of his article, "The Almost Blank Slate". "One can only hope...
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Close Encounters of the Facial Kind: Are UFO Alien Faces an Inborn Facial Recognition Template?
THE DESCRIPTIONS OF ALIEN FACES historically reported by UFO abductees are almost boringly uniform. Long before "close encounters" became a catchword in the ufologist's vocabulary, self-proclaimed UFO abductees described their abductors as bulbous-headed...
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Creationism's Holy Grail: The Intelligent Design of a Peer-Reviewed Paper
LIKE THE MEDIEVAL PRINCE who forfeited his kingdom in a quest for the Holy Graft, Intelligent Design creationists (IDers) have embarked on the equally quixotic quest to place a peer-reviewed article in a bona fide scientific journal. This 21st-century...
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Democratizing Darwin: A Review of a Conference on "Darwin, Design, and Democracy"
On September 24-25, 2004, proponents of "Intelligent Design" convened at the University of New Mexico for the fifth annual Darwin, Design, and Democracy conference. The highlight of the event came on the second night when two of the three most influential...
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Dr. Summers' Hidden Agenda Women, Men, and the 80-Hour Work Week
HAVING BEEN INVOLVED WITH gender research for some 30 years I want to comment on Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' observations on gender differences in the sciences. In a book chapter I wrote 18 years ago (S. Losh-Hesselbart, "Development...
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Ernst Mayr, 1904-2005 Remembrances and Tribute
ERNST MAYR WAS, WITHOUT A doubt, the most important intellectual figure in my life. He was my closest mentor and a towering model for anyone to try to live up to. He was always remarkably generous with his time to younger scholars and scientists....
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Genetic Preparedness Does Not Equal Genetic Determinism
In a recent SKEPTIC article (Vol. 11, No. 2), Henry Schlinger suggested that popular sentiment seemed to be leaning toward a genetic explanation for human behavior. In doing so, Schlinger argued that learning (nurture) was a much more powerful and...
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God Offers Human Race on eBay
GOLDENPALACE, HEAVEN--The creator of the cosmos put the entire human race up for sale last week on eBay. God, who created the species just 6,000 years ago, says he never thought he'd sell what many consider to be the pinnacle of his creation. "I...
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How the Human Got Its Mind: Debunking the Last Great Myth in Psychology
DESPITE THE FACT THAT "MIND" is a pre-scientific concept that dates back at least to the ancient Greek philosophies of Aristotle and Plato, it still occupies a central place as the subject matter of modern psychology and philosophy. Consider the titles...
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John of God: ABC's Primetime Live Special about a Brazilian "Healer" Falls Far Short of Investigative Journalism
On February 10th, 2005, ABC's Primetime Live aired an hour-long special on a man called "John of God" who works out of Brazil. This was a major show that could have been a useful, productive, and informative program, but failed to reach that standard....
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Krider Responds
Thanks for taking the time to read the article and to respond. I did realize people would fault the article if I relied solely on the UCS. That is why I listed only a few of the examples noted in their report, and independently validated those with...
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Race and Sex: The Difference in Theory and the Difference It Makes
Race and Sexual Selection I thoroughly enjoyed the recent eSkeptic reviews of Vince Sarich's and Frank Miele's book Race, but I was somewhat surprised that none of the writers, neither of the book nor the reviews, mentioned Darwin's convincing argument...
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Testing Prayer
Testing prayer has been much in the news of late. I would like to point out that Sir Francis Galton devised an almost flawless experiment in 1872. (1) Galton used Guy's data (2) on the longevity of 6,473 persons in the following classes: Royalty, Clergy,...
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The Da Vinci Code Cult: A Critical Look at Dan Brown's the Da Vinci Code
MUCH HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN decoding, deconstructing, and debunking Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, including Tim Callahan's critical review in SKEPTIC. But since then the book has become a cult hit, having sold over 25 million copies in 44 languages,...
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The Death of Philosophy: Jacques Derrida 1930-2004
WHEN PHILOSOPHER JACQUES DERRIDA DIED IN PARIS at the age of 74 last year, French President Chirac said "France has given the world one of its greatest contemporary philosophers, one of the major figures of intellectual life of our time." On this side...
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The Dream World of William Dembski's Creationism
THE INORDINATELY WELL-FUNDED Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute of Seattle is home to a new anti-evolution movement. Their goal is to add creationism to school curricula as an alternative to evolution. This they euphemistically...
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The Madman of Magic Bob Friedhoffer Presents Six Slick Tricks and the Science Behind Them
THE ANTIGRAVITY TUBE Effect: A 24-inch long aluminum or copper tube with an inside diameter of about 1/2-inch is shown to the audience. A 3/8-inch ball bearing is displayed. The performer holds the tube vertically in one hand, inserts the...
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The Truth Is out There ... Way out There: Three Major Patterns of Conspiratorial Thinking
THE PEAK POPULARITY of the television series The X-Files, and the initial Internet-boosted acceleration of the Information Revolution are behind us, but their legacies live on, in the pervasive familiarity of the conspiracy theory. Indeed, the trust-no-one...
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Tilting Pictures and Fruitless Pursuits: How to Test for a Supernatural Occurrence
DURING A RECENT DISCUSSION WITH A colleague about the possibility of the existence of the supernatural it soon became apparent to both of us that the descriptive term "supernatural" is an oxymoron, because if such activity does exist, its description...
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