Fortunetelling AutomataJune 8, 2018
In my collection is an old piece of ephemera, a small card folder reading, “Princess Doraldina’s Prophecies.” I’ve had it for several years, stashed with some fortune-telling items. I finally decided to find out more about it. Here’s where my search led. Princess Doraldina was an arcade automaton fortune teller. Made by the Doraldina Corp., …
“Píso’s [Non-] Cure for Consumption”May 23, 2018
Among the most notorious quack nostrums for consumption (tuberculosis), was “Píso’s Cure,” dating from the Civil War. It was no cure at all, and was cynically promoted by a trio of partners whom one writer terms, “a marketeer, a medic and a moneybags.”
On Demon SchoolingApril 27, 2018
As a “skeptical demonologist” for nearly half a century, I would have had much to say at the course on “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” held in Rome April 16–21, 2018. I know there are those who would say that—because I have never found a single demon in all that time—I appear to be too skeptical. I beg to differ.
Being Needled by AcupuncturistsApril 16, 2018
The Buffalo News (Feb. 16, 2018) reported on the prestigious local Roswell Park Cancer Center’s having embraced so-called “alternative” therapies. My letter to the editor (Feb. 28) stated, in part: “Calling therapies like Reiki, healing touch, and acupuncture ‘unconventional’ or ‘integrative’ or ‘complementary’ does not make them any less pseudoscientific.”
UFO over Arizona Likely IFOApril 5, 2018
In March 2018, a month after the fact, the FAA released a radio broadcast of what CBS News called an “out-of-this-world incident.” Actually, the UFO, seen by two separate civil aviation pilots flying over Arizona, has a very, very likely real-world explanation.
Following Martin Luther King in Life and DeathApril 3, 2018
America’s greatest civil rights, anti-poverty, and anti-war leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated half a century ago, on April 4, 1968. His was a profound influence on countless others in that tripartite revolution which he came to lead and still inspires. I speak here as one non-violent foot soldier who followed Dr. King’s lead in all three of those movements.
“Legend Tripping” at Graves of “Witches” and “Vampires”March 29, 2018
Increasingly, “legend tripping” (a term used by folklorists) is becoming popular. A “legend trip” is a visit to a site having a legend—typically about uncanny events there—the purpose being to test the legend or to otherwise engage it (Brunvand 1996, 437–440).
CBS “Sunday Morning” Seers Don’t See So WellMarch 20, 2018
On March 18, 2018, CBS “Sunday Morning” featured an insufficiently skeptical segment, “ESP: Inside the government’s secret program on psychic spies.”
Zanzibar’s Popobawa Demon Still Attacking SkepticsMarch 15, 2018
In 1995 I published a short article titled “The Skeptic-raping Demon of Zanzibar,” telling of a bat-winged, cyclopean dwarf that reportedly swept into bedrooms and attacked men—especially those who disbelieved in the creature. The phenomenon had occurred in previous decades but had returned. A colleague handed me an article on the phenomenon and joked, “Here’s a case for you to solve.” Reading a few paragraphs, I replied, “I have solved it.”
The Haunting of Boone TavernFebruary 22, 2018
Boone Tavern is a historic inn for travelers in Berea, Kentucky, named for famous frontier explorer Daniel Boone. It is also, allegedly, a very haunted place, but you couldn’t prove it by me.