The Riddle of Consciousness

For most of human history, people have assumed that some kind of vitalistic essence had to be added to matter to produce life. The belief in an immaterial soul was pervasive. At one point, scientists even tried to weigh the soul by weighing a body right before and after death, expecting to find a decrease

Answering Vaccine Skeptics

The anti-vaccine movement is full of conspiracy theorists who deny the evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines, call vaccines “poisons,” think doctors and manufacturers (in collusion with the government) only promote vaccines to boost their incomes, and blame vaccines for all manner of adverse events. These vaccine denialists must not be confused with vaccine skeptics,

Statin Denialism

When Richard Dawkins was asked to justify his belief in the scientific method, he answered, “It works, bitches!”1 When the scientific evidence is compelling, one would have to be willfully perverse to reject it. But some people do; they reject findings that don’t fit with their ideology. We call them denialists. We have climate change

My Personal Odyssey in Skepticism

I discovered the Skeptical Inquirer shortly after its name change from The Zetetic. It changed my life. I had already rejected religion after reading atheist writings, but I was still open to belief in UFOs, ESP, and all sorts of other weird things, simply because I had never come across anyone who questioned those beliefs.

The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said

Stick It In Your Ear! How Not To Do Science

Have a sore throat? No worries! No need for lozenges, medicines, or home remedies. All you need to do is let someone stick needles in your ear! According to a recent study, ear acupuncture relieves sore throats. Do you believe that? I don’t. That’s one of those extraordinary claims that would require extraordinary evidence, but

Hallucination or Revelation?

A review of the book God: An Autobiography by Jerry Martin. Caladium Publishing Company, Doylestown PA, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9967253-1-6. 362 pages.  Jerry Martin was raised as a Christian but he had been an agnostic ever since college. Then one day God spoke to him. He was in the throes of new love with the woman

Clear Thinking About Cancer

Book Review of This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer. By Gideon Burrows. 
NGO media, 2015. ISBN 978-0955369599. 212 pp. 
Paperback. $15.79. Gideon Burrows has inoperable brain cancer that is slow growing but is inevitably going to kill him. He has written a remarkable book about his experience, This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer. He is a

Physician Wallace Sampson, Expert on False Medical Claims, Dies at Eighty-Five

The skeptical community has lost a shining star. On May 25, 2015, Wallace Sampson, MD, died in California at the age of eighty-five from complications of heart surgery; he had been in the hospital since February. He is survived by his wife of fifty-nine years, five sons, and nine grandchildren. Wally was an oncologist and

Psychology and Psychotherapy: How Much Is Evidence-Based?

Despite all those Polish jokes, Poland has its share of good scientists and critical thinkers. A superb new book illustrates that fact in spades: Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Side of Science and Therapy, by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski, http://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Gone-Wrong-Science-Therapy/dp/1627345280  Witkowski is a psychologist, science writer, and founder of the  Polish Skeptics Club; Zatonski