On Miracles 

Is there such a thing as a miracle? Miracles are defined as unusual events that are not explicable by scientific or natural laws and that are assumed to be the result of supernatural intervention. The very concept is so fuzzy that it borders on the unintelligible. Religious believers refer to many things as miracles: the

Thinking: An Unnatural Act

Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! By Robert Todd Carroll. James Randi Educational Foundation, 2011. Available through Amazon.com and other electronic outlets exclusively in e-book format, $9.99. Robert Todd Carroll, the author of the invaluable Skeptic’s Dictionary, has written an e-book that makes a perfect complement to his Dictionary. Titled Unnatural Acts: Critical

Acupuncture, the Navy, and Faulty Thinking

A Navy neurologist, Capt. Elwood Hopkins, has posted a 3-part article on  “The Power of Acupuncture” on Navy Medicine Live, the official blog of Navy and Marine Corps Health Care. It can serve as a useful lesson in how not to think about medicine. It is a prime example of how an intelligent, educated doctor

Lessons Learned

I just returned from a trip to Montreal where I spoke at the Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium, an annual event that David Gorski spoke at a year ago. My topic was “Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth” and the other speakers were Paul Offit, Edzard Ernst, and Bob Park. I was honored to be in such august

Kudos to Steven Novella

It has just been announced, in the July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, that our own Steven Novella has been awarded the 2010 Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking. It will be formally presented at the CSIcon conference in New Orleans on October 28, 2011. The Prize is a $1500 award given to the author of the

Cognitive Traps

In my recent review of Peter Palmieri’s book Suffer the Children I said I would later try to cover some of the many other important issues he brings up. One of the themes in the book is the process of critical thinking and the various cognitive traps doctors fall into. I will address some of

Setting the Record Straight about Science and Longevity

Severe calorie restriction has been shown to effectively prolong life in almost every species that has been studied so far. Science hasn’t yet shown whether it will work for humans, but preliminary evidence suggests that it might. Human calorie restrictors have lower weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Despite those indicators, Marshall Deutsch apparently thinks

Scientific Verification of a Message from Another Continuum?

A correspondent recently wrote to tell me that the TV series “Lost” isn’t as unrealistic as we might have thought. He says the subplot about the coincidences and “meanings” of the lottery numbers reflects something that has happened in reality. He explained that “a series of numbers drawn in the NY lottery game, has been

Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough

I recently wrote an article for a community newspaper attempting to explain to scientifically naive readers why testimonial “evidence” is unreliable; unfortunately, they decided not to print it. I considered using it here, but I thought it was too elementary for this audience. I have changed my mind and I am offering it below (with