A Quick Example of Quick Debunking
January 28, 2020 by

I’ve investigated hundreds—probably thousands—of things in my career as a skeptic and researcher, from misleading polls to chupacabra vampire legends. Some investigations take hours or days; others take weeks or months, and a rare few take years. It all depends on the scope of the investigation and how much information you have to analyze. In …

Watching as the Supreme Court Vandalizes the Wall of Separation
January 22, 2020 by

The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, marking what seems likely to be the next stage in the brick by brick dismantling Thomas Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. While waiting for the transcript of the oral arguments (and it seems possible that may …

Misleading Polls and Bad Statistics: Do Republicans Think Education is Bad?
January 9, 2020 by

A June 6, 2018, article from ChurchandState.org titled “Propaganda Works – 58 Percent of Republicans Believe Education Is Bad” was shared on social media by liberals and Democrats, gleeful that their assumptions about conservative anti-intellectualism had been borne out in objective, quantifiable data from a respected polling organization. The widely-shared article states that “Fox News, …

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.

Astrology and Racism
September 17, 2019 by

There are many scientific and skeptical objections to astrology, including the fact that the constellations have shifted since astrology was devised, that many real-world tests have failed to find statistically meaningful patterns in the lives of people born under certain zodiac signs, and that there are multiple—and in fact contradictory—versions of astrology that adherents fervently …

Are 1 in 4 Americans Going Into Debt Buying Food?
June 5, 2019 by

It’s a scary, dismaying headline that made the social media rounds over the past few weeks: “Nearly 25% of Americans are going into debt trying to pay for necessities like food.”   The piece, which appeared on CNBC, began with the following: “American have an average of $6,506 in credit card debt, according to a …

A Look at Aladdin’s Genie—and Its Jinn Origins
May 24, 2019 by

With the much-hyped release of the new version of Disney’s Aladdin, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief folkloric look at genies and jinn. Jinn (or djinn) refers to creatures that appeared in medieval Arabic folklore; they were usually depicted as threatening and free-willed—so dangerous in fact that rituals and amulets are …

Telling ‘Real’ from ‘Fake’ Psychics
May 3, 2019 by

Skeptics are known for warning the public about the perils of psychics (ranging from exploitation to fraud), but it may surprise you to know that “real” psychics sometimes join in as well, offering advice about how to avoid those “fake psychics.” A recent article explained, “Every day thousands of people look to psychics for advice, …

Do 60% of People Misgender Trans People to Insult Them?
March 21, 2019 by

Recent news reports claimed that most people intentionally disrespect transgendered individuals by calling them by something other than their preferred gender pronoun. For example one piece began: “Three in five people internationally report that they would intentionally misgender a transgender person, according to a recent survey. Ipsos found that only two out of five people …

‘HS Teacher Tells Students to Vote Republican’: Case Study of a Social Media Outrage Cycle
March 1, 2019 by

Last month an indignant Florida mother named Barbara took to Twitter seeking advice for a problem: “I’m really PISSED; my daughter who is in the 12th grade recently registered to vote through her high school. Her teacher told the class that they all must register as Republicans or else they would not be allowed to …