How to Know What’s Really Real

Review of book: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake, by Steven Novella et al. There are many classics of skeptical literature. We often hear how someone became a skeptic because they read a book by Carl Sagan, James Randi, Michael Shermer, or some

Barefoot In Sedona: Bogus Claims About Grounding Your Feet to Earth Promote Medical Pseudoscience

There is a website that reveals “The world’s most dangerous invention.” Care to speculate what that invention might be? I might have guessed nuclear weapons. Others have incriminated guns, cigarettes, genetic engineering, religion, The Web, The Large Hadron Collider, and automobiles. But this website was not talking about any of those, but about a far

Recent Developments in “Eastern” Science

An email correspondent occasionally sends me items of interest from the Indian press. He recently sent me two clippings about initiatives to solve all of India’s problems by studying the Vedas (for Hindus) and the Qu’ran (for Muslims). The Vedas The headline read, “For diabetes, cancer cure, Raj institute to study the Vedas.” The article

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

Zombie Criticisms of Conventional Medicine

Alternative medicine, by definition, is medicine that is not supported by good enough evidence to have earned it a place in mainstream medicine. Some people insist that modern medicine is not evidence-based either! Not long ago I got an email from a man who said that and tried to prove it with a series of

Music Hath Charms But “Sound Healing” Hath Nonsense

There is no doubt that music has effects, both pleasant and unpleasant. We respond to music with emotion and with foot-tapping. As Congreve famously said, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.” Cows produce more milk when music is played in the barn. Infants respond to lullabies. But music can be annoying, too. Many

Gender Differences and Why They Don’t Matter So Much

Several incidents have recently created divisions within the skeptical community.  The latest one was over a casual comment Michael Shermer made in an online talk show. He was asked why the gender split in atheism was not 50/50, “as it should be.” He said he thought it probably was 50/50, and suggested that the perception of unequal

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