Co-Opting Black History Month with Conspiracy
February 8, 2019 by

Several friends of mine recently posted a meme on social media that read, “Did you know the real LONE RANGER was a BLACK MAN name BASS REEVES and yes he did live among the INDIANS, The Lone Ranger ‘could not be cast in that era as a black man, so he was made into a …

New Mexico Naturopath Bill Risks Patients’ Health and Legitimizes Fake Medicine
January 31, 2019 by

A bill granting naturopaths the authority to practice primary care medicine risks the health of New Mexicans and legitimizes fake medicine, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) warned the New Mexico State Senate. The Naturopathic Doctors’ Practice Act (SB 135) would grant licensure to practitioners of pseudoscientific treatments despite the lack of evidence for their effectiveness …

Point of Inquiry is back with new hosts and new episodes!
January 28, 2019 by

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry’s flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time engage in deep conversation about the big questions in science, religion, politics, and culture. Launched in 2005, when podcasts were still a new phenomenon, Point of Inquiry pioneered the medium with engaging, long-form conversation, featuring an incredible variety …

Another Abducted Girl, Another Psychic Fail
January 16, 2019 by

Psychics and fortunetellers are often seen as relatively harmless, dispensing shopworn advice about tall handsome strangers, a brighter future, and reassurances that departed loved ones are indeed watching over us. For $100 or less we can gain a temporary feeling of control over our destinies, armed with the foreknowledge (foreguessing?) of what will (might?) happen. …

Holocaust Denial Headlines: Hatred, Ignorance, or Innumeracy?
January 7, 2019 by

In the wake of racial incidents such as the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, it’s natural for the public and pundits to wonder just how common anti-Semitism is. Deadly attacks on Jewish houses of worship are thankfully rare, but what about anti-Jewish belief among the general public? One often-used metric is public …

Canadian Psychics Arrested While Journalist Fail
December 21, 2018 by

In October 2018 Dorie Stevenson of Milton, Ontario, who goes by the name Madeena, was arrested by police and formally charged with witchcraft. Stevenson was not arrested for practicing magic per se; charges were laid under Section 365 of Canada’s Criminal Code, “Witchcraft—Fortune Telling,” as a form of fraud: “Every one who pretends to practise …

Stonehenge Assumptions
December 17, 2018 by

In my years of media and science literacy I’ve repeatedly encountered cases where people have failed to question their premises and simply forged ahead without bothering to make sure that the assumptions were grounded in fact. Premises often seem self-evident—and who wants to waste time verifying or fact-checking something that’s obvious? About six or seven …

National Geographic TV Taps CFI’s Independent Investigations Group to Rebut Flat-Earthers
December 12, 2018 by

Axial tilt is the reason for the season, but for far, far too many Americans, our Pale Blue Dot is a two-dimensional one. This week, National Geographic Explorer covered the flabbergasting (and to skeptics, deeply frustrating) phenomenon of the Flat Earth movement. “We’re not monkeys floating on a ball in space,” asserted one flat-Earth believer. And to …

The ‘Growing’ and ‘Common’ Threat of Something We Have Little Data On
December 5, 2018 by

In a recent article in The New York Times, Sharon Otterman describes cyber flashing, in which objectionable images are shared anonymously to random available mobile devices using the AirDrop platform, as “a growing trend of technology-enabled sexual harassment,” though she later notes that “Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the University of Maryland and …

Wolf-like Mystery Creature in Montana
November 12, 2018 by

In mid-2018 a strange-looking critter was shot and killed in Central Montana. Armchair monster hunters rushed to opine as to its true nature: possibly a jackal, wolf/dog, coydog, coyote, German Shepherd hybrid, Scottish Deerhound, or even a surviving dire wolf (that became extinct over 10,000 years ago) or a “dogman” (a supposed upright-walking cryptid, at …