The Lighthouse: A Fog of Madness and Superstition
November 12, 2019 by

The new genre-bending film The Lighthouse is hard to describe. I’ve seen it mentioned as everything from a horror film to a dark comedy to a psychological thriller. I can’t really tell you what it is, but I can tell you what it’s about, and why you should see it. The basics are pretty straightforward: …

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 …

Nazis, the KKK, and The Angriest Yoga Master: Another Day at the Office
July 24, 2019 by

Now hold on. Am I a Nazi or a Klansman? Make up your mind.

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, …

New Case of Lycanthropy From an Accused Man-Beast
April 30, 2019 by

According to a psychiatric report released in March 2019, a South Florida man, accused of murdering a couple and chewing on the face of one, suffered from “clinical lycanthropy delusions.” This is a psychiatric syndrome in which a person believes he can transform into a non-human animal—in this instance the killer believing he was “half-dog, …

Magical Thinking and Conspiracy in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’
April 17, 2019 by

The new horror film Us begins in 1986 as a little girl named Adelaide visits a Santa Cruz boardwalk theme park at night with her parents. She wanders off toward the beach (carrying a curiously un-nibbled candied apple) and eventually finds a spooky house of mirrors. Nobody’s around—a teenager presumably supposed to charge admission is …

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 …

Spontaneous Human Combustion? Coroner Solves London Mystery
February 15, 2019 by

Under the heading, “Man spontaneously combusts in streets of London,” Fate magazine in late 2018 resurrected the fiery bogeyman of spontaneous human combustion. That is a pseudoscientific term for an unexplained fire injury or death. I have since followed the case to its final resolution at a coroner’s inquest, and have here placed it in …

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. …