Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

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

Articles from Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter

Ancient Aliens: Part Two of Two
HELLO! I'm Daniel, the Editor of JUNIOR SKEPTIC. Welcome to Part Two of our look into the claim that aliens built the great monument of the ancient world. Last time we saw how this idea became popular in the 1960s and 70s, through the books of...
A New Mythology: Ancient Astronauts, Lost Civilizations, and the New Age Paradigm
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I GAVE A PRESENTATION on my book Secret Origins of the Bible at a convention in the Sacramento, CA area. During the subsequent dinner we were treated to a lecture by a scientist on the extraterrestrial...
Aping Language: A Skeptical Analysis of the Evidence for Nonhuman Primate Language
OCTOBER 30TH SAW THE DEATH OF AN individual who had made a greater contribution to science than she ever knew. Washoe, a forty-two year old female chimpanzee, was the first member of another species to converse with a human being. When this result...
Are the Textbook Wars Over?
AUSTIN, TX -- In 2004, Lisa Morano and I reported on the quarrels about evolution and creationism as they have played out in Texas public education policy debates ("The Texas Textbook Wars," SKEPTIC Vol. 11, No. 1, 18-20). At the time, creationists...
Beyond Demonic Memes: Why Richard Dawkins Is Wrong about Religion
RICHARD DAWKINS AND I SHARE MUCH IN common. We are both biologists by training who have written widely about evolutionary theory. We share an interest in culture as an evolutionary process in its own right. We are both atheists in our personal convictions...
Consciousness Is Nothing but a Word
IN 1991, DANIEL DENNETT PUBLISHED HIS tome, Consciousness Explained. (1) Yet, ten years later he penned an article titled "Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet?" (2) If he had to ask the question, the answer seems obvious. English-speaking philosophers...
First-Hand Opinion on Second Hand Smoke
Regarding the article on second hand smoke by Sidney Zion in Vol. 13 No. 3, as I compose this letter here in Long Beach, California the annual fires of October are raging and it occurred to me that the discussion focuses on the wrong part of the debate....
Franklin's Electric Kite Experiment: Did Benjamin Franklin Really Fly a Kite to Prove That Lightning and Static Electricity Were One and the Same or Was It All Just a Hoax?
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] AS A YOUTH, I LEARNED THAT BENJAMIN Franklin (1706-1790) flew a kite in a thunderstorm and drew lightning from the sky. I doubt that I ever knew why he did it, but I thought even then that he must have been crazy to do such...
Hope Springs Eternal: Science, the Afterlife, and the Meaning of Life
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] I ONCE SAW A BUMPER STICKER THAT READ: MILITANT AGNOSTIC: I DON'T KNOW AND YOU DON'T Either. This is my position on the afterlife. If we knew for certain that there is an afterlife, we would not fear death as we do, we would...
How the Medical Mind Works
A Review of How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 320 pp., $26. ISBN-10: 061-861-0030 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] JEROME GROOPMAN'S BOOK HOW Doctors Think is a superb commentary on the intersection between medical science,...
No Child Left Behind
A review of The Case Perfections: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering by Michael J. Sandel. Belknap (Harvard University Press) 2007, 162pp, hardback, $18.95, ISBN-13. 978-0-674-01927-0) [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] What apiece of work is man!...
Phenomenon Examined
ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, NBC aired the first of a series called Phenomenon, the latest so-called reality television in the American Idol tradition of performers on stage who are assessed by expert judges. In this case the judges were two magicians:...
Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things
THE SAVOY HOTEL IN LONDON IS FAMOUS for fine dining, attentive service, grandiose interiors, and, of course, a three-foot high wooden black cat called Kaspar. In 1898, a South African businessman named Woolf Joel booked a table for fourteen at the...
Richard Dawkins Replies to David Sloan Wilson
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] IN HIS SKEPTIC ARTICLE ENTITLED "WHY Richard Dawkins is Wrong About Religion" (initially published online in eSkeptic and www.skeptic.com), David Sloan Wilson writes: "When Dawkins' The God Delusion was published I naturally...
Skeptical of the Autism-Vaccination Skeptics
As an Asperger's Syndrome patient, the proposed connection between autism (of which Asperger's is "on the spectrum"), and mercury toxicity, including the proposed thimerosal toxicity, has been of considerable personal interest for some time. I have...
Skepticism Loses Two Stars Farewell to Paul MacCready and Jerry Andrus
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The last week of August we lost two good friends: Jerry Andrus and Paul MacCready. Instead of repeating formal facts from published obituaries, we provide links to two such obits, along with my personal remembrances for each...
Taking the Afterlife Seriously
"The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mysterious. It is the power of all true science."--Albert Einstein I have put Michael Shermer at a disadvantage by writing a book that bases the afterlife on the...
The Animal Research Wars
The article in the last issue, "Animals and Medicine: Do Animal Experiments Predict Human Responses?' teeter-totters between faulty logic and one-sided referencing. Either way it is neither a fair nor balanced critique of animals in research. Its central...
The Myth of the Mozart Effect
WHENEVER STALLED ON AN INTRACTABLE problem, Einstein reportedly reached for his violin. He played to disentangle his brain and clarify the question at hand. Mozart especially did the trick. Einstein loved Mozart's highly organized, intensely patterned...
The Shape of the Earth-Flat or Hollow?
Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood. Macmillian, 2007. 400 pp., 20.00 [pounds sterling] ISBN: 978-1-4050-4702-9 [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Hollow Earth: The Long and Curious History of imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical...
Two Views, One Reality
Darwin and intelligent Design by Francisco Ayala, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2006. 116 pp., 87. ISBN-10: 0800638026 Living With Darwin: Evolution, Design and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher. Oxford University Press, New York, 2007. 192 pp.,...
Ultrasound, Fish Oil, and Ear Candles
Ultrasound Screening: Is Ignorance Bliss? I never thought I'd be promoting ignorance! I've always thought the more information, the better; but there are exceptions. I'm going to explain something that is very counterintuitive and grates against...