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.

Halloween Scary Phantoms and Phantom Scares
October 31, 2019 by

Today is Halloween, and amid the make-believe witches, ghouls, and goblins, there are supposedly real-life villains who hope to harm children every October 31. News reports and scary stories on social media leave many parents concerned about protecting children from Halloween threats. But are they real or myth? Here are five scary myths and legends …

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 …

How to Live Your Best Life, No Pseudoscience Required, in ‘Skeptical Inquirer’
October 23, 2019 by

Self-help gurus are unavoidable on bookstore shelves, daytime talk show panels, and sometimes even presidential debate stages, and each promises to help you “live your best life,” as long as you buy their pseudoscience-saturated books, supplements, videos, and power crystals.  The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine for science and reason, offers a reality-based alternative …

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 …

Skeptics of CSICon: A Tight and Clever Pack
October 19, 2019 by

Many skeptics know what it is to feel alone. If you’re the only parent in your social circle who accepts the science of vaccines, or you’re an atheist in a deeply religious family, or you’re the bubble-burster to refuses to concede that your friend spoke to their dead relative through a psychic medium, a skeptic …

Flaws, Courage, and Conviction at CSICon
October 19, 2019 by

If nothing else, to be a skeptic is to be willing to accept the universe as it is. That’s not the same as being apathetic or content with the status quo, but it does mean that we have to start with the facts as they are, not as we would have them be. So if …

Don’t Blame Yourself: Exposing Deflection and Shame at CSICon
October 18, 2019 by

Did you know that it’s all your fault? For women, if they’re not living their best life, it’s because they’re buying unwholesome, unnatural products. Also, any hardships their children face are because they didn’t breastfeed them enough. Oh, and climate change? That’s also your fault because you took a plane to get to CSICon. On …

Who is Doing the Pointing? CSICon Watches the Watchers
October 18, 2019 by

Who watches the watchers? The morning session for CSICon 2019 featured three speakers who all, in their own ways, asked us to consider where the information we take in is actually coming from and what it is we’re doing with that information once we’ve got it. The implications are incredibly significant.  Behavioral scientist Gordon Pennycook …

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 …