Contributions

The Curious Case of the ‘Destination Truth’ Yeti Track
September 13, 2018


The Yeti—formerly known as the Abominable Snowman—is the Himalayan version of the American Bigfoot. Like Bigfoot, it is large, powerful, leaves strange tracks, and has never been proven to exist outside of folklore and myth. Interest in the supposed creature is fueled by occasional sighting reports and odd footprints. In 2007, Josh Gates, host of …

When Mistaken Eyewitness Testimony Leads to Death
September 5, 2018


Skeptics and psychologists often point out the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, though the general public continues to put great stock in it. It seems so self-evident that personal experience is a reliable guide to the world that when something “unexplained” happens, people often assume that the event must truly be mysterious. There’s nothing wrong with …

Emo’s Fundamentalist Heretic Or, Turning Allies to Enemies in a Few Easy Mistakes
August 22, 2018


I’m always fascinated by how thinking goes wrong. Sometimes it’s the result of intentional deception or obfuscation, such as is often found in advertising or political speech. But more often it’s the result of critical thinking lapses, logical errors, or simply misunderstanding. It’s errors of interpretation, often of substituting what someone actually says for what …

Happy Belated Anniversary, History Channel!
August 9, 2018


It’s always a little embarrassing to miss an important birthday or anniversary, and I confess that I’ve been especially busy over the past month and overlooked an important date. That date was about a month ago, when The History Channel suffered one of the highest-profile blows to its credibility in, well, the history of the …

Post-Mortem on a Misunderstood Post: Online Misunderstandings and How to Avoid Them
August 3, 2018


I’m always fascinated by how thinking goes wrong. Given an Event A or a Factual Statement/Observation B, what are the ways in which people come to misunderstand the nature of that event or statement? Sometimes it’s the result of intentional deception or obfuscation, such as is often found in advertising or political speech. But more …

Physicist Summits Everest for Girls in STEM
July 19, 2018


I interviewed physicist Dr. Melanie Windridge, author of Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights, last year for a Special Report on the CFI website. No armchair-ridden ivory tower egghead, Windridge is a veteran of days-long treks and wilderness expeditions. Her website features photos of her summits, and her book contains many compelling first-person adventures in Iceland, …

Sarah Ann, Fort George’s Most Famous Ghost
July 12, 2018


Located a short walk from the picturesque Canadian town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Fort George is an impressive hidden little gem of history. Comprising about a dozen wooden buildings scattered around a roughly coffin-shaped outer wall supported by six blocky bastions, the fort is a popular attraction for tourists and history buffs alike. Replica cannons appear …

Dangers of Rumors: Faked Walmart ‘Abduction’ Goes Viral
June 25, 2018


It was a scary if common social media warning, an example of what folklorists call “scarelore.” On June 9, 2018, Joshua Hatley, a Kansas man, posted a message on Facebook with information claiming a woman attempted to abduct his child at a local Walmart. The post, since deleted, read: “I’m posting this as a warning …

Solo: A Star Wars Story
May 30, 2018


Despite a loud and clunky middle third, Solo is an enjoyable Grade-B popcorn muncher.

Why People Burn Themselves Alive: A Look at Immolation Suicides
May 14, 2018


The recent self-immolation suicide of a prominent lawyer raises questions about the motives for such acts.