Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

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

Articles from Vol. 9, No. 3, Fall

2002 Emily Rosa Award
Awarded by SKEPTICS and JR. SKEPTIC magazines, and organized and judged by Larry Samer and Linda Rosa, the Emily Rosa Award is given in recognition demonstrating the best critical thinking skills, and challenging or exposing pseudoscience claims by...
A.I. and the Return of the Krell Machine: Nanotechnology, the Singularity, and the Empty Planet Syndrome
IN 1956, THE FRED MCLEOD WILCOX FILM Forbidden Planet became the second memorable science fiction movie of the 1950's (the first being Robert Wise's The Day The Earth Stood Still). Forbidden Planet has become a classic because it was among the first...
Angel Beliefs on the Rise. (News)
Americans overwhelmingly believe in angels and think they still walk the Earth today. According to a survey of 1,127 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University, one out of every five Americans...
Atlantis in Fantasyland a Mickey Mouse Documentary about the Lost Continent. (News)
ON APRIL 9 OF LAST YEAR I received an e-mail from a colleague concerning a television documentary focusing on the Lost Continent of Atlantis. My colleague informed me that the independent production company putting the show together had contacted him...
Bad Theories about What Caused Disease Slowed the Progress of Medical Science
In the early 1800s it was often a fatal mistake to call a doctor. Many medical treatments were so extreme they weakened the patient and often led to their deaths. The problem was that medicine was based on concepts of illness that were wrong, and there...
Be Part of Our Next Ten Years. (the Skeptics Society)
We need your help to get the word out. Pseudoscience and other nonsense continues to flourish in the hothouse climate of media sensationalism. To counteract these powerful forces we have launched a major fund-raising drive not to construct a building,...
Bob Friedhoffer Madman of Magic
SLEIGHT OF HAND Sleight of hand is any sneaky move a magician makes that is not seen by the audience. The audience does not miss the move because the magician's hands are moving so fast they can't be seen. They miss the move because it doesn't seem...
Classic Sleight of Hand: The Coin Vanish Practice, Practice and More Practice
If you really want to foal people it is vital that you leave no clue about how you are deceiving them. The coin vanish trick requires that you practice the two movements below until you can make them both appear completely natural. MOVEMENT #1:...
Cognitive Catastrophes: How Smart People Sabotage Their Thinking
AS A LIFELONG SKEPTIC, I often find myself squirming uncomfortably during lunch conversations with my professional colleagues. Only so much time passes before someone asks me if I've heard about the astounding new evidence for the fulfillment of biblical...
Forum
The Mysterians The existence of mysterian issues--ones raising questions that we have no reliable means of answering--is a cornerstone of agnosticism. The view that "consciousness" (in the sense of "sentience") is such an issue is seldom expressed...
Fund for Science Literacy: Because Skepticism Is Essential in a Democratic Society. (the Skeptics Society)
The false hopes, unrealistic expectations, and irrational fears created by the public's growing belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal chip away at the soundness of our social order. The attraction of belief systems that provide easy answers to...
How a Skeptic Achieved "Enlightenment" (and How This Phenomenon Is Explained). (News)
THIS ARTICLE DESCRIBES HOW I, AN ORDINARY MORTAL incidentally achieved "higher consciousness." No regimens of meditation, mortification of the body, physical isolation or devotion were needed to achieve a glimpse of the "ineffable." No drugs, travels...
How to Talk to the Dead. (I Was Brillig)
On the subject of "cold reading," as used by such "psychics/sensitives" as John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and James Van Praagh--the three currently popular "readers"--I recall very well the work of the late Doris Stokes, who was very big in the UK and...
Magician James Randi Demonstrates How the Illusion of Psychic Surgery Is Created
The psychic surgery effect is created by a magician's technique known as "sleight of hand" which combines skilled movements of the hands with knowledge about how people misinterpret things that they see. (Check out pages 103 to 105 to learn more about...
Neo-Confederates at the Gate: The Rehabilitation of the Confederate Cause and the Distortion of History
PUBLIC CONTROVERSY OVER SEVERAL southern state flags incorporating the Confederate battle flag has made much of America aware of Neo-Confederates. To many, the Neo-Confederates' arguments supporting the flag must seem obscure and quaint. To others,...
Pseudoscience at 30,000 Feet: Suggestology, Suggestopedia and Accelerated Language Learning
THE NEXT TIME you're in an impressionable state of mind during a long flight, check out the SkyMall[TM] catalog in the seat pocket in front of you. (1) There you will find a dazzling array of ultra-slick, ultra-pricey, and not-necessarily-ultra-practical...
Science Education Is No Guarantee of Skepticism
MANY SKEPTICS TAKE A MEASURED AMOUNT of pleasure in the kinds of tasks often set before them: evaluating blurry photographs, conducting laboratory experiments that reduce or eliminate trickery, critiquing flawed science and pseudo-science, and countering...
Social Influence and the Power of the Pyramid
MORE THAN 90% OF ADULT AMERICANS report holding at least one paranormal belief, and the rates for some specific beliefs have risen steeply in recent years. (1-5) Skeptics often bemoan such numbers, knowing as they do that the overwhelming majority...
The Attorney and the Shrink: Clarence Darrow, Sigmund Freud, and the Leopold and Loeb Trial
CLARENCE DARROW and William Jennings Bryan are historically linked by their participation in the Scopes Monkey Trial. Over the years, Bryan has been rightly evaluated by skeptics for his (a) dogmatic views (e.g., he would not entertain the possibility...
The Pigasus "Flying Pig" Awards for 2001. (I Was Brillig)
The Pigasus "Flying Pig" Awards On April 1st of each year, the James Randi Educational Foundation proclaims the yearned-for Pigasus "Flying Pig" awards in four categories, for accomplishments in the year previous. We allow the Academy Awards to...
The Skeptics Society
The Skeptics Society is a member-supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, that does the following: ...
What Is a Skeptic?
What does it mean to be a skeptic? Some people believe that skepticism is rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse "skeptic" with "cynic" and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges...
What's Really Behind Psychic Surgery
How do we test a claim like psychic surgery? Since no one in Western medicine is able to reach through skin and have it heal instantly when their hand is withdrawn, our first hunch might be that its some kind of trick. Similar healing rituals have...
When There Was Really Coke in Coca-Cola! (Snake Oil!)
Coca-Cola was invented in the turbulent years following the American Civil War when the train and telegraph speeded up people's lives, and many people moved from quiet rural villages to noisy overcrowded cities. Coca-Cola was first sold at drugstore...
Why Is It So Hard for People to Tell What Works?
How do we know what medical cures work? The answer to this question should be simple: try it and see. But its not that easy to figure out what really works. The history of medicine is full of worthless and dangerous cures. Our stories about psychic...