Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

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

Articles from Vol. 7, No. 4, Fall

A Defeat for Creationism
According to a report filed by Michael Janofsky on October 9, 1999, bucking recent changes in Kansas and other states that allow public schools to teach alternative views of human development, the New Mexico Board of Education voted overwhelmingly...
Anatomy of Nonsense
CAROLINE MYSS AND HOLISTIC MEDICINE EVALUATED PHILOSOPHER PAUL KURTZ, in his masterful book The Transcendental Temptation, identified two traits common to all types of supernormal thinking: (1) All varieties of magical thinking thrive when there...
"Bible Code" Debunked by Journal That Introduced It
THE FOLLOWING REPORT WAS RELEASED on September 10 by Richard Ostling, AP Religion Writer. NEW YORK (AP) An international team of statisticians is debunking the controversial "Bible code," which claims the Old Testament has hidden references to 20th...
Can We Make a Deal, John Hartung?
Innuendo ad hominem has no place in a discussion as important as one that concerns the evolutionary roots of human nature. I hope that SKEPTIC readers will disregard Hartung when he implies that his opponents are misguided do-gooders trying to put"...'Full...
Cloning Forum
IN DEFENSE OF SEED Michael Shermer's editorial, "Only God Can Do That?" in Vol. 7, no. 2, was refreshingly positive in contrast to the sea of negative views of human cloning in the press. I agree with all his substantive positions, but, having read...
Colorado a Victory for Science
By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Board of Education of the Poudre School District (Fort Collins, Colorado) Monday night, October 25, 1999, declared that Liberty Common School (LCS) had breached its contract as a charter school when the latter adopted a...
ETs MAY BE OUT THERE... BUT HE SAYS THEY'RE NOT HERE
AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILIP J. KLASS, THE WORLD'S LEADING UFO SKEPTIC Invited to take part in an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) panel discussion on UFOs some 33 years ago, Washington aerospace journalist Philip J. Klass needed...
Extrasensory Powers or Simple Probabilities?
IDENTIFYING PHOTOS IN OPAQUE ENVELOPES If three photographs showing common situations or items are sealed in opaque envelopes, and if 25 people gathered in the same room can see the sealed envelopes but have no idea what the photos depict, does...
Eye Movement Magic
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING A DECADE LATER WHILE STROLLING THROUGH A PARK ONE DAY, Francine Shapiro noticed that certain of her troubling thoughts suddenly lost their distressing qualities. Curious about what had happened, Shapiro...
Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded at Harvard
SOCIOLOGY: Steve Penfold, of York University in Toronto, for doing his Ph.D. thesis on the sociology of Canadian donut shops. REFERENCE: http://www.yorku.ca/dept/histarts/grad_cv/penfold.htm[less than]spen fold@yorku.ca[greater than] PHYSICS: Awarded...
Million Dollar Madness
EVER SINCE THE JREF began offering the million-dollar prize to any and all of the wonder-workers out there who think they have special powers, or would like us to think they do, there appears to have been a concerted effort to avoid that reward by...
Penis Panics
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PENISSHRINKING MASS HYSTERIAS IT SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING from a poor B movie. It might even make the 1978 cult film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes seem plausible. I'm referring to scares where communities are swept up in the fear...
Professors Fight Back against Creationists
The following article about scientists in Michigan fighting back against Creationists includes quotes from SKEPTIC magazine advisory board member Dr. Greg Forbes, who notes the proper place for religion in schools. Friday, October 22, 1999. From...
Real Life X-Files Research
SHUT DOWN According to Andrew Brownstein of the Albany Times Union, August 25, 1999, the University at Albany has shut down the research of a psychology professor probing the "X-Files" world of government surveillance and mind control. At conferences,...
Sagan and Skepticism
A REVIEW OF TWO RECENT SAGAN BIOGRAPHIES DURING THE FINAL QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY, Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was the world's most prominent scientist. He well deserves the two long, narrative biographies that have just appeared by well-known science...
Skeptics' Forum
PERSPECTIVES "My wife and I were recently traveling by train to Los Angeles. We each brought a magazine or two to peruse on the way. She noted with amusement that our publication choices were from considerably different perspectives, as you will...
Society as Organism
A GROUP SELECTION PRIMER AND REPLY TO HARTUNG Readers whose knowledge of group selection is confined to the pages of SKEPTIC must be amazed at the bits of information and misinformation, flying like shrapnel amidst insults and allusions to World...
Testing Psi & Psi-Missing
WHEN INVESTIGATING group results of extrasensory performance, most researchers find chance results (Kurtz, 1985, 508-9). However, a discrepancy exists, as some parapsychologists consistently find results that statistically vary from chance. Consistent...
The 9th First Annual Ig Nobel Awards Serve Up Science-Flavored Fun
THE IG NOBEL COMMITTEE MUST HAVE BEEN HUNGRY when they picked their list of 1999 winners. Consider these finalists: Optimal cookie-dunking techniques; a sociological study of Canadian doughnut shops; tea-brewing instructions. Why, there's a tasty little...
The Godman of India
SEX, LIES AND VIDEO TAPE IN THE SATYA SAI BABA STORY WHEN A LUMINESCENT BALL OF LIGHT ENTERED Easwaramma while she was bathing, little did she, or Pedda Venkappa Raju, her illiterate husband, realize that the Lord had chosen her surrogate womb for...
The Group Selection Chimera
"It is necessary to affix right ideas to words."--Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794 Sisyphus' boulder has rolled back down the hill. Legislators in Kansas have promoted Creationism and authors in SKEPTIC have promoted Group Selection (Sober...
The Mad Casser of Botetouri County
PHANTOM ASSAILANTS & THE MADNESS OF CROWDS HISTORY IS REPLETE WITH EPISODES of collective delusion, during which substantial numbers of the members of a community are convinced that they have been attacked by a nonexistent assailant. These assailants...
The Measure of a Life
CARL SAGAN AND THE SCIENCE OF BIOGRAPHY WHAT IS THE MEASURE OF A LIFE WHEN IT IS GONE? A newspaper obit? A magazine story? A potted television biography? How shall we capture the essence of that life? A list of accomplishments? Highlights and lowlights?...
Thought Field Therapy
STILL SEARCHING FOR THE QUICK FIX "IT IS BEYOND AMAZING. I have never seen any treatment so powerful.... It is extraordinarily powerful, in that clients receive nearly immediate relief from their suffering and the treatment appears to be permanent."...
Waco: The Rules of Reporting
Dan Gifford (SomFord@worldnet.att.net), Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated documentary film Waco: The Rules of Engagement, and a speaker at the Skeptics Society Caltech debate on Waco, made this observation with regard to the latest reporting...
When Satan Came to Texas
A Study in a Satanic Panic Witch Craze SOME FOLKS IN THE SMALL BUSTLING TOWN OF GILMER, TX, county seat of Upshur, say that Satan came to town in 1992 and wreaked his havoc. Others say that it was not Satan, but only a mix of lust, superstition,...