Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

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

Articles from Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer

Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008): Visionary Science-Fiction Author
LUCKY PROPHETS BECOME vindicated sages in their own lifetimes. Arthur C. Clarke, who died on March 19, 2008, was the luckiest of men, becoming the most famous of science fiction authors by writing of wonder when many were writing of despair. Clarke...
Ben Stein's Blunder: In a Recent Documentary Film-Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed-Actor, Game Show Host and Financial Columnist Ben Stein Falls for the Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design
IN 1974 I MATRICULATED AT PEPPERDINE University as a born-again Christian who rejected Darwinism and evolutionary theory, not because I knew anything about it (I didn't) but because I thought that in order to believe in God and accept the Bible as...
Criminal Profiling: Granfalloons and Gobbledygook
READING THE CLAIMS OF CRIMINAL PROFILERS and watching popular television programs like Criminal Minds can leave one with the impression that Criminal Profiling (CP)--the task of inferring demographic and personality details of an offender from his...
Expelled, and the Trouble Ahead for American Science
AMERICAN SCIENCE IS IN TROUBLE, AND IF you'd like to see one of the reasons why, all you have to do is to go to the movies. The popular culture of this great nation, which has led the world in research, is gradually turning against science. I can think...
How Skeptics Confronted 9/11 Conspiracy Advocates
SKEPTICS TODAY BEMOAN THE overwhelming proportion of people who claim to believe in all manner of conspiracy theories for anything from the JFK assassination to the origins of HIV-AIDS. For that reason, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to stop...
More Words on Consciousness
A Response to Henry D. Schlinger's "Consciousness Is Nothing But a Word" In his article "Consciousness Is Nothing But a Word" (Vol. 13, No. 4) Henry D. Schlinger rejects two prominent attempts to solve the problem of consciousness: biological reductionism,...
Near Death Experiences and the Medical Literature
Miracle Max: See, there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive. All dead, well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do. Inigo: What's that? Miracle Max: Go through his...
Popular Medical Fallacies: Ancient Wisdom * It Works for Me * Natural Is Good
ADVOCATES OF SO-CALLED alternative medicine (i.e., unproven treatments) don't always use the best critical thinking skills. False assumptions and logical fallacies abound. Three that I encounter regularly are (1) "ancient wisdom," (2) "it works for...
Prayer and Pregnancy; Shooting UFO Photos
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Prayer and Pregnancy WE HAVE WELCOME NEWS FROM Dr. Bruce L. Flamm, M.D., who for the last eight years has been battling the ridiculous report that prayers intoned for infertility patients in Korea could result in a 100%...
Predicting Evolution: How Likely Is It That Human-Level Intelligence Will Evolve Again?
"The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game." --Jacques Monod Chance and Necessity, 1971. IF YOU ARE EVEN VAGUELY FAMILIAR WITH science fiction, especially in film, you know...
Socratic Skepticism
IT IS FREQUENTLY CLAIMED THAT Socrates said, "All I know is that I know nothing." SKEPTIC magazine itself makes this claim in its self-defining article at the front matter of the magazine, "What is a Skeptic?" It uses this quote to justify a long historical...
The Chain of Accidents and the Rule of Law: The Role of Contingency and Necessity in the Evolution of Higher Intelligence
HUMANS ARE PATTERN-SEEKING, STORY-telling animals. We look for and find patterns in our world and in our lives, then weave narratives around those patterns to bring them to life and give them meaning. Such is the stuff of which myth, religion, history,...
The Crystal Skulls
"PROVENANCE" There's an idea used in the fine art business that will help us solve the mystery of the crystal skulls: it's called "provenance." This word comes from French, and means "to come from." The provenance of a painting or artifact is...
The Crystal Skulls
HELLO! I'm Daniel, the Editor of JUNIOR SKEPTIC. I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite mysteries from when I was growing up: the crystal skulls! Beautiful and mysterious-even, some would say, cursed-these glittering quartz crystal objects...
The Curious Case of Freeman Dyson and the Paranormal
IN A 2007 ARTICLE POSTED ON EDGE (www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07_index.html), a prestigious web page where scientists debate controversial issues, the famous theoretical physicist and raconteur Freeman Dyson stated once again that he is proud to...
The Facts about the "Expelled" Scientists in Expelled
The intelligent design (ID) movement has long labored to inculcate two mutually exclusive falsehoods in the minds of the public: (A) that ID is a purely scientific theory that has nothing to do with religion; and (B) that any objection to ID is evidence...
The Myth of the Stages of Dying, Death and Grief
IN 1969 THE PSYCHIATRIST ELIZABETH KUBLER-ROSS wrote one of the most influential books in the history of psychology, On Death and Dying. It exposed the heartless treatment of terminally-ill patients prevalent at the time. On the positive side, it altered...
The Phoenix Lights Explained (Again): NBC's Dateline Misleads Public on UFO Footage
UFOS MAKE GREAT RATINGS, SO IT isn't surprising that NBC'S Dateline aired a special on Sunday, May 18, entitled 10 Close Encounters Caught on Tape. To its credit, the NBC program at least made an attempt to provide prosaic explanations for each of...
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...