Investigating New Mexico’s Bottomless Lakes
June 26, 2019 by

I don’t know if the world is ready for this, but in 2015 I got to the bottom of New Mexico’s Bottomless Lakes. I mean I got to the bottom of the fanciful claims thereof. Here is what I found.1 Bottomless Lakes is a state park (New Mexico’s first, established in 1933) that encompasses a …

The ‘FBI Bigfoot Investigation’: Where’s the Beef?
June 7, 2019 by

Breathless headlines earlier this week referred to the “FBI Investigating Bigfoot,” a clickbaity phrase if ever social media saw one, along with the promise that newly-declassified FBI files shed light on the mystery. As intriguing and sensational as it sounds, it turns out to be much ado about nothing. I’ll summarize the story, but there’s …

Secrets of the Fakir of Ava
May 29, 2019 by

Isaiah Harris Hughes (born on Christmas Day, 1813, died May 24, 1891) was a conjurer’s conjurer. Almost forgotten today, Hughes was once widely known as the Fakir of Ava. Since he is buried in Buffalo’s beautiful Forest Lawn Cemetery, not far from where my wife Diana and I live, we often pay our respects at …

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, …

Columbine School Shooting Myths: 20 Years Later
April 22, 2019 by

A few days ago marked the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, in which two senior students in Colorado killed twelve students and one teacher before ultimately killing themselves. The crime received extensive news coverage and inspired many copycats and a Michael Moore film, Bowling for Columbine. Early reportage of high-profile events (and …

‘Malling While Muslim’: Man Falsely Accused of Child Abduction
April 11, 2019 by

Social and news media have unfortunately seen a rise in two distinct toxic phenomena over the past year or so. The first is a steady stream of white women calling police on minorities minding their own business in public spaces, in dozens of cases including a Starbucks, a public park, swimming pools, streetcorners, and the …

Plane Abducted by UFO?
April 2, 2019 by

I recently came across an old (March 1979) issue of Fate magazine, which promised “The World’s Mysteries Explored.” One featured story was headlined: “Did UFO Abduct Aircraft?” As I suspected, that case was one destined to become a classic of UFOlogy, one that I would eventually have a hand in solving—at the request of a …

‘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 …

The Prodigy: A Skeptical Film Review
February 18, 2019 by

The new horror film The Prodigy is about an evil child, and therefore follows a fairly predictable formula. The kid starts as a bundle of joy, then bad things happen but no one wants to believe the child did them, then the terror escalates as a parent or caregiver discovers a horrifying secret that leads …

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 …