‘SF Weekly’ ‘Helps’ Readers Tell Real from Fake Psychics
October 1, 2020 by

Skeptics are known for warning the public about the perils of psychics (ranging from exploitation to fraud), but it may surprise to know that “real” psychics sometimes join in as well, offering advice about how to avoid those “fake psychics.” Sometimes they do it directly in books or during interviews; other times they do it …

George Cherrie and the Venezuelan Dancing Devil
September 17, 2020 by

One of the most celebrated American naturalist/explorers was George K. Cherrie (1865–1948), who in his 1930 book Dark Trails: Adventures of a Naturalist (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) wrote about his adventures, primarily in Central and South America. Cherrie engaged in many expeditions, perhaps most famously accompanying Theodore Roosevelt on his nearly-disastrous 1913–1914 jungle descent of Brazil’s …

‘Extra Ordinary’: Fantastic Phantasm Fun
June 5, 2020 by

Extra Ordinary, a gloriously amusing Irish romantic comedy about the supernatural, begins with the obligatory, winking tagline “Based on a true story.” The ghost hunting genre is both ripe for satire and difficult to satirize effectively because it’s so self-evidently silly. From Ghostbusters to the Wayans brothers’ A Haunted House (2013) to the Scary Movie …

El Cine Chupacabra! The Hispanic Vampire in Film
May 6, 2020 by

Of all the world’s cryptozoological curiosities I like the chupacabra the most. I’ve researched Bigfoot, Champ (the lake monster in Lake Champlain), along with Mothman, Lizard Man, the Kraken, and myriad monsters over my career. But the chupacabra is my favorite; I spent five years investigating and writing a book on the beast (Tracking the …

Browne 2004 covid excerpt
Sylvia Browne’s Bogus Coronavirus Prophecies
March 24, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been many rumors, myths, and misinformation about the current coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. One of the most curious is the recent resurrection of a posthumous prediction by psychic Sylvia Browne. In her 2008 book End of Days, Browne predicted that “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, …

Sylvia Browne’s Non-Psychic, Non-Coronavirus Prediction
March 12, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been plenty of rumors, myths, and misinformation about the newest coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. I’ve written several pieces on the topic, tackling both intentional and accidental bogus information. Some of the most pernicious, of course, involves misinformation about healthcare decisions (such as fake cures), but there are others. One of the most …

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.