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 …

The Tragedy of Jazmine Barnes: Phantom Serial Killers and Eyewitness Errors
January 23, 2019 by

On December 30, 2018, a seven-year-old Houston girl named Jazmine Barnes was killed when a gunman drove up next to the vehicle she was in and opened fire on its occupants. Her mother, LaPorsha Washington, was wounded; Jazmine was struck in the head and died on the way to the hospital. As the New Year’s …

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. …

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 …

Stop Misusing Science To Bolster Religious Fables
December 6, 2018 by

Christmas season is upon us. (I recognize I’m late in noting this. For retailers it started immediately after Halloween.) This season brings forth many familiar experiences—familiar because they recur every year: festive decorations, foraging for parking spots, Tom Flynn at work on Christmas Day, and an essay in a newspaper/on the internet attempting to explain …

Haunted Drummond Hill Cemetery
October 15, 2018 by

The fiercest and the bloodiest battle of the so-called War of 1812 took place on July 25, 1814, and is known as the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Part of that battlefield in Niagara Falls, Canada, is occupied by Drummond Hill Cemetery—an allegedly haunted place I investigated in 2002 for a local TV channel. According to …

Secrets of Oak Island Map
Secrets at Oak Island
September 24, 2018 by

Among great “unsolved” enigmas is that of a supposed treasure, often called the Money Pit mystery. The site is a shaft or shafts on Oak Island in Nova Scotia’s Mahone Bay, allegedly dating to before 1795. I dared to trespass there in 1999 (ironically after speaking at a forensic conference in New Brunswick), talking my …

The Curious Case of the ‘Destination Truth’ Yeti Track
September 13, 2018 by

The Yeti—formerly known as the Abominable Snowman—is the Himalayan version of the American Bigfoot. Like Bigfoot, it is large, powerful, leaves strange tracks, and has never been proven to exist outside of folklore and myth. Interest in the supposed creature is fueled by occasional sighting reports and odd footprints. In 2007, Josh Gates, host of …

When Mistaken Eyewitness Testimony Leads to Death
September 5, 2018 by

Skeptics and psychologists often point out the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, though the general public continues to put great stock in it. It seems so self-evident that personal experience is a reliable guide to the world that when something “unexplained” happens, people often assume that the event must truly be mysterious. There’s nothing wrong with …