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Skeptic’s Café

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Mass Hysteria: From Dance Floors to Factory Floors

Throughout the years, people’s minds have played tricks on them, but oftentimes their bodies react for real.

 

Linguistic Myths and Adventures in Etymology

The folk wisdom built up around common English expressions is often wrong, but it can be fun ferreting out the real origins.

 

Presidents’ Day: Just Another Presidential Fable

A number of folk stories and a few divisive rumors have surrounded the office of the U.S. presidency, and skeptical folks like us check a few of them out.

 

Numerology Doesn’t Know the Score

Various ways of assigning numbers to events, people, and actions is an ancient parlor game, but let’s not take it beyond that.

 

Full Moon Myths Leave Skeptics Howling

Full moons appeal to our imaginations and contribute to our mythologies, but ascribing too much power to them appears to be a continuing form of lunacy.

 

Dr. Placebo — Half Quack and Half Savant

The placebo effect’s ability to influence human healing and human behavior is well documented, but we must be careful to make sure this fakery does no harm.

 

Critical Thinker Explains Skepticism vs. Cynicism

Professional skeptic D.J. Grothe explores the difference between skepticism and cynicism and describes how fooling some of the people some of the time is a bad idea all of the time.

 

Conversion Therapy Fails to ‘Pray Away the Gay’

Reparative or conversion therapy’s efforts to “pray away the gay” come a cropper when examined with a skeptical eye.

 

Psychic Detectives Have a Perfect Record

The idea that legions of psychics are helping police solve crimes around the world is based on, well, nothing.

 

Applying Healthy Skepticism to Healthy Foods

When superfoods like blueberries, pomegranates, açai, green tea sound a little too amazing, it might be time to take a closer look.

 

Scamming Grandma Sadly Common

Scams targeting the elderly are among the most common, but a little skepticism can keep their years golden.

 

It’s the (Alleged) End of the World as We Know It

A couple of prominent end-of-the-world predictions may or may not come to pass, but lots of people promoting them are betting your bottom dollar they won’t.

 

What Do Osama bin Laden and Paul McCartney Have in Common?

Conspiracy theorists have already emerged from the woodwork asking if bin Laden is really dead, or if he was dead already. Don’t be fooled.

 

Understanding Popular Uses of Percentages

While “figures lie and liars figure,” that’s no reason not to pay attention to some basic facts about common numerical comparisons.

 

Homeopathy Not All It’s Quacked Up to Be

Professional skeptic James Randi’s offer to pay a million dollars to the maker of any homeopathic remedy that actually works points out the logical fallacies in this branch of ‘medicine.’

 

Magical Elixirs and Beneficial Bracelets

Surely wrapping a hologram around my wrist in a neoprene band has got to allow me to maximize my greatest potential.

 

Let’s Resolve to Be Less Superstitious

Every January we’re treated to a display of superstitious rites that lie forgotten the rest of the year.

 

All I Want for Christmas Is the Truth

Our resident skeptic takes a look at some of the mythologizing that has arisen around the West’s winter holidays, from poison plants to phantom Der Bingles.

 

Horoscopes — Fun But Utterly Fallible

Miller-McCune.com’s resident skeptic, just as you might expect of a Scorpio, will have no truck with horoscopes or astrology.

 

Halloween Horrors and Common Sense

Mythology aside, not everyone who listened to that famous ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast went bonkers.

 

Sample This: Making Sense of Surveys

There are a lot of shoddy polls out there. Some are frank about their shortcomings and some aren’t. Here are some ideas for getting an accurate picture of what a poll can tell you.

 

Moral Panics and Rumors

When the world turns its mean side to the public, rumors amplified in the Internet/cable news age often slip past our critical thinking skills.

 

Pyramid Power, or Pennies for a Pony

Whether chain letters or Bernie Madoff, scams that rely on ever-greater numbers of gullible people eventually founder.

 

Logically Absurd and Contradictory

In honing your home logic skills, try reducing any argument to its basic premise at the extremes of its subject.

 

Questioning Questions in Evaluating Polls

How you ask, what you ask and when you ask can all affect what you get in conducting polls.

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How Wildlife Declines Are Leading to Slavery and Terrorism

As wildlife numbers dwindle, wildlife crimes are rising—and that's fueling a raft of heinous crimes committed against humans.

How a CEO’s Fiery Battle Speeches Can Shape Ethical Behavior

CEO war speech might inspire ethical decisions internally and unethical ones among competing companies.

Modern Technology Still Doesn’t Protect Americans From Deadly Landslides

No landslide monitoring or warning systems are being used to protect vulnerable communities.

The Link Between Carbs, Gut Microbes, and Colon Cancer

Reduced carb intake among mice protected them from colon cancer.

The New Weapon Against Disease-Spreading Insects Is Big Data

Computer models that pinpoint the likely locations of mosquitoes and tsetse flies are helping officials target vector control efforts.

The Big One

Today, the United States produces less than two percent of the clothing purchased by Americans. In 1990, it produced nearly 50 percent. July/August 2014

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