A New Urgency for ‘Cosmos’: Ann Druyan’s Possible Worlds in ‘Skeptical Inquirer’
June 17, 2020 by

The third season of the landmark television series Cosmos is set to debut this fall, an ode to “the twin engines of skepticism and wonder” that comes not a moment too soon. The soul of Cosmos: Possible Worlds is cocreator, writer, and director Ann Druyan, who brings her wisdom and insight to the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer. “I was …

Satan at CFI? Save your Dime…
May 12, 2020 by

Jim Underdown: Hello?

Caller: Hi, how you doin’?

JU: Good, what can I do for you?

Caller: Well I wanted to know exactly what area you guys were in, because I had been in the area and I had heard you guys were going to turn the place into a Satanic Temple. Is that true?

JU: No.

CALLER: Oh it’s not true?

JU: Nope.

El Cine Chupacabra! The Hispanic Vampire in Film
May 6, 2020 by

Of all the world’s cryptozoological curiosities I like the chupacabra the most. I’ve researched Bigfoot, Champ (the lake monster in Lake Champlain), along with Mothman, Lizard Man, the Kraken, and myriad monsters over my career. But the chupacabra is my favorite; I spent five years investigating and writing a book on the beast (Tracking the …

Some Notes on ‘Silliness’
April 20, 2020 by

With the COVID-19 outbreak and its requisite closures, I have had time to do some catching up on the blogs, articles, etc., that always seem to be put off when there are other things to be done. While catching up, I noted that some recent writings have once again raised the issue of “silliness” and …

Browne 2004 covid excerpt
Sylvia Browne’s Bogus Coronavirus Prophecies
March 24, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been many rumors, myths, and misinformation about the current coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. One of the most curious is the recent resurrection of a posthumous prediction by psychic Sylvia Browne. In her 2008 book End of Days, Browne predicted that “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, …

Sylvia Browne’s Non-Psychic, Non-Coronavirus Prediction
March 12, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been plenty of rumors, myths, and misinformation about the newest coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. I’ve written several pieces on the topic, tackling both intentional and accidental bogus information. Some of the most pernicious, of course, involves misinformation about healthcare decisions (such as fake cures), but there are others. One of the most …

Crackpots, Serial Killers and Flat Earthers
November 6, 2019 by

Things are a bit different now. Any crackpot with a 6th grader’s knowledge of computers can design and launch a website, shoot, edit and post a You Tube video that is wrong in every sense of the word, and search the world for people who share their same fetishes, dopey ideas, or sick fantasies.

My Psychic Scam Letter to CSICon: Presenting the Balles Prize for Critical Thinking
October 23, 2019 by

On Friday night at CSICon 2019 in Las Vegas, I presented the Balles Prize in Critical Thinking to reporters Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken for their book A Deal with the Devil, which was about the infamous “Maria Duval scam,” in which a fake psychic scammed people out of millions of dollars through very personal-seeming …

The Belief Barrier: Moving an Immovable Object at CSICon
October 19, 2019 by

After his presentation at CSICon 2019, the great actor John de Lancie referred to Q, the cosmic superbeing he played in the Star Trek franchise, as “a god with clay feet,” an entity of incredible power but lacking the character to use it in any meaningful way.  It’s a telling observation on de Lancie’s part, as I …

CSICon 2019 versus the Fantasy-Industrial Complex
October 18, 2019 by

In Post-Truth America, at a time when “modern secular government is in greater jeopardy than ever before,” as CFI board chair Eddie Tabash put it at the CSICon 2019 opening reception, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kickoff of this year’s CSICon was a kind of diagnosis of …