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The Only Miracle Jesus' Mother Asked For Was Wine

How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’ He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 16, 2014 - 11 comments

Médecins Sans Medicine

Homeopathy awareness can make the world a healthier, happier place
posted by figurant on Apr 11, 2014 - 78 comments

Sexual harassment, conferences, and you

How well do you know (American) sexual harassment law as it relates to conferences? Attorney and Popehat blogger Ken White has created a short quiz to find out. [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea on Feb 8, 2014 - 31 comments

"I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE"

Between 1989 and 2003 journalist and UFO researcher Philip J. Klass published 76 volumes of his Skeptic's UFO Newsletter. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry has posted them all (as pdfs) on their website. Klass died in 2005
posted by IvoShandor on Nov 8, 2013 - 9 comments

Setting the record straight on the flu vaccine

Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 30, 2013 - 79 comments

Scientists Confirm Sheeple Safe to Eat

With 2000+ global studies confirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed "Environmental impact studies are predominant in the body of GM research, making up 68% of the 1,783 studies. These studies investigated environmental impact on the crop-level, farm-level and landscape-level. Nicolia and his team found “little to no evidence” that GM crops have a negative environmental impact on their surroundings." [more inside]
posted by Knigel on Oct 8, 2013 - 169 comments

"We perceive the world through metaphors"

Why I Am No Longer A Skeptic
That's right: the nerds won, decades ago, and they're now as thoroughly established as any other part of the establishment. And while nerds a relatively new elite, they're overwhelmingly the same as the old: rich, white, male, and desperate to hang onto what they've got. And I have come to realise that skepticism, in their hands, is just another tool to secure and advance their privileged position, and beat down their inferiors. As a skeptic, I was not shoring up the revolutionary barricades: instead, I was cheering on the Tsar's cavalry.
Referenced in The Cult Of Bayes' Theorem [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 16, 2013 - 205 comments

Pinterest Skeptics Board

"I don't think the pronoun "it" can have "whoever you want to be" as an antecedent." The Pinterest Skeptics Board mocks widely shared inspirational quotes.
posted by escabeche on May 26, 2013 - 120 comments

How I Learned to Stop Debunking and Love My Inner Psychic Ability

Amaze your friends! Befuddle your enemies! Impress the miserly old woman you've been crushing on! Ray Hyman's 1977 Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Apr 2, 2013 - 21 comments

Recursive Fury

"A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs. So, a paper about a tendency among this group to believe in conspiracy theories was met by … a conspiracy theory." - Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Feb 21, 2013 - 61 comments

The Plough and Potato have had a football team since Roman times, so they must be better at it than modern teams!

A primer in the rhetorical tactics of pseudoscience advocates in the form of an inane pub argument about football.
posted by acb on Nov 29, 2012 - 60 comments

A Woman's Place

"A Woman’s Place? The Dearth of Women in the Secular Movement" by Susan Jacoby
posted by brundlefly on Aug 26, 2012 - 121 comments

The Debunking Handbook

"Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there's no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation." Direct PDF link.
posted by brundlefly on Jan 3, 2012 - 33 comments

"Mr. Cortex, We Love You!"

In the early 1960s, actor/comedian/writer/composer/TV-star Steve Allen recorded How to Think, an educational album about the brain and the mind. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Sep 6, 2011 - 12 comments

The nonexistent epidemic

The Guardian speaks to suffers of Morgellons, a disorder that, depending on whom you ask,is a delusional psychosis, an epidemic that's whitewashed out of medical research, or for conspiracists, alien nanotechnology. (Previously.)
posted by mippy on May 9, 2011 - 127 comments

Cold Reading

Cold Reading - A rationalist ghost story by Alan Moore.
posted by Artw on Jan 21, 2011 - 50 comments

Hey, Atheists!

Don't be a dick, you're speaking with God's voice!
posted by jtron on Aug 17, 2010 - 186 comments

Bridging the Chasm Between Two Cultures

"How did a card-carrying, aura-wearing, chakra-toting leader of the New Age become able to understand and eventually embrace the skeptical culture? Well, it took quite a while, so let me start at the beginning. "
posted by Pope Guilty on Aug 9, 2010 - 411 comments

Faith in tables

Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense
posted by fish tick on Jul 17, 2010 - 61 comments

Trebuchet by George Hrab

Podcaster, musician, atheist, skeptic and comic raconteur George Hrab is releasing his latest solo album Trebuchet through CD Baby and free mp3 download [65MB].* Hrab talks about Trebuchet with Swoopy and Derek on the Skepticality podcast, on the Token Skeptic podcast [46MB MP3], and with Karen Stollznow on the Point of Inquiry podcast. [more inside]
posted by McLir on Jul 1, 2010 - 4 comments

At least we know what we don't know

An Agnostic Manifesto.
posted by homunculus on Jun 28, 2010 - 350 comments

"No matter what ideas the human mind generates, they must never be quashed."

New Scientist Special Report: Living in Denial. Includes articles by Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 28, 2010 - 37 comments

Friel vs Lomborg

Bjørn Lomborg is well known as the author of Cool It and The Skeptical Environmentalist, books which challenge the scientific consensus on climate change and global warming. Howard Friel, previously known for his book The Record of the Paper, a critical look at the New York Times' coverage of American foreign policy, has a book coming out in March which asserts that Lomborg's Cool It lies constantly, citing sources which contradict or are irrelevant to his points. Lomborg, in response, has posted a rebuttal to Friel (PDF).
posted by Pope Guilty on Feb 23, 2010 - 52 comments

The science behind spook hills

""Anti-Gravity Hills" (also known as "Gravity Hills", "Spook Hills", or "Magnetic Hills") are natural places where cars put into neutral are seen to move uphill on a slightly sloping road, apparently defying the law of gravity. Typically, the "spooky" stretch of road is rather short (50-90 m), only a few meters wide, and surrounded by a natural hill landscape, without nearby buildings. Such places are found in several countries all around the world, and have been tourist attractions for decades. They should not be confused with the "Mystery Spots" [previously] found in amusement parks. These are generally tilted cabins, purposely built as such; a person walking inside feels disoriented, getting a very strong impression of standing at an angle in a perfectly normal room." CSICOP and Discovery News explain the phenomenon, and here's the paper on which the CSICOP article was based (PDF).
posted by cog_nate on Oct 29, 2009 - 41 comments

Baloney Detection Kit

The Baloney Detection Kit. "With a sea of information coming at us from all directions, how do we sift out the misinformation and bogus claims, and get to the truth? Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, lays out a 'Baloney Detection Kit' — ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim."
posted by homunculus on Jun 25, 2009 - 52 comments

Carvaka

Atheistic Materialism in Ancient India. Interesting piece on the ancient Indian philosophical school of Carvaka.
posted by homunculus on May 25, 2009 - 12 comments

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

"The Jedi Knights are known for their supposed ability to perform "miracles." They can influence others' thoughts with a wave of their hand, use a slender light saber to deflect blaster bolts with their eyes closed, jump great heights in full gravity, move objects without touching them, see into the future, and do many other things that normal people can't. Or so they claim."
posted by Pope Guilty on Mar 3, 2009 - 42 comments

Spooky Action At A Distance: $245

The newest Wholphin DVD contains the instructions for an experiment called "Select Your Intention," created by a company called Psyleron. Psyleron is the result of efforts by former research scientists at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory— (1979-2007) an interdisciplinary group of physicists, psychologists, engineers, and humanists, that explored the ability of the human mind to interact directly with the physical world. (VIDEO) "Now anyone with a home computer can explore the direct impact of consciousness with the portable, adaptable, and responsive Psyleron REG-1." And now, try new Pocket Reg! [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 6, 2008 - 15 comments

Greetings, Children...

Captain Disillusion has created a series of videos that provide a skeptical analysis of sensational viral videos. One in particular, “Gas Station Ghost RECUT” addresses an unusual image caught on a gas station surveillance camera.
posted by Tube on Mar 9, 2008 - 33 comments

Uri Geller on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show

Nostalgia and skepticism collide in this short video of Uri Geller's legendary failure on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, introduced by frequent MeFi subject James Randi. More context and nostalgia in this longer version, which features Geller with a young Barbara Walters, and on The Mike Douglas Show, along with Randi's expose of "healing evangelist" Peter Popoff. If you want to waste even more time, just start clicking on these YouTube search results.
posted by The Deej on Aug 5, 2007 - 93 comments

Won't get not-fooled again

Garbage + illumination = art? Various artists carefully pile rubbish on a gallery floor, or meticulously assemble a collection of ordinary items, plug in a light source, and create incredibly detailed and surprising shadows on the wall. Meanwhile, blog commenters cry "Fake!" and "Photoshop!". I guess they didn't see any of the Quicktime movies of Shigeo Fukuda linked here.
posted by maudlin on Jun 20, 2007 - 14 comments

Support your local Reptoid

Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena was born in October, 2006 to help fight the good fight against the overwhelming majority of noise in the media supporting useless alternative medicine systems, psychics preying upon the vulnerable, the erosion of science education in the classroom, xenophobia of advanced energy and food production methods, and generally anything that distracts attention and public funding from scientific advancement. Episodes feature such prominent MeFi discussion material as organic food myths, blood for oil, chiropractics, and SUVs. Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
posted by arcticwoman on May 24, 2007 - 38 comments

Science, skepticism, and critical thinking are all about admitting when you’re wrong, and taking action to correct them.”

Bad Astronomer and skeptic Phil Plait posted a rant last week about a supposed miracle – a woman, who survived a car accident against all odds. After being deluged by comments from irate readers, including the accident victim, he issued an apology, contacted her directly and is collecting donations to fund her medical bills. Phil writes, “Science, skepticism, and critical thinking are all about admitting when you’re wrong, and taking action to correct them.”
posted by grateful on May 17, 2007 - 44 comments

616, 666 and other Bible math

That, as previously reported, a newly deciphered fragment of the Book of Revelations shows 616 is the true Number of the Beast, rather than the popular 666, is nothing new in the world of those obsessed with codes in the Bible. However, one Bible code in particular -- Theomatics -- has sparked debate among believers and non-believers alike.
posted by me3dia on May 10, 2005 - 25 comments

Dowsing for love and money.

Dowsing can be used to find water, find caves, find landmines, heal yourself and others, and clear your house of bad energy. There are several studies that purport to prove that dowsing works (one ten year study found a 96% success rate among dowsers in arid regions). There are online lessons for how to dowse, from the Digital Dowsers Society. The Journal of Christian Research thinks it might be a tool of the devil. But the scientific evidence is at best equivocal (as you might expect.) Scroll down on this page for more experiment debunking. Also always check The Skeptics Dictionary.
posted by OmieWise on Jan 7, 2005 - 66 comments

Dyson On The Paranormal or Expect A Miracle

Expect a miracle? Freeman Dyson on Littlewood's Law of Miracles: "...the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. ...The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month." From his review of book debunking the paranormal (whose views he isn't entirely willing to accept). Via Marginal Revolution
posted by Jos Bleau on Jul 14, 2004 - 33 comments

not stick

Stigmata fraud. A mostly skeptical look.
posted by four panels on Jun 10, 2004 - 4 comments

The Skeptic's Dictionary

The Skeptic's Dictionary is a wonderful resource for all sentient individuals: 'A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions (and how to think critically about them)'. It's where I send people when they start telling me nonsense. It is also a jolly good read: try the entry for natural, for example. And some entries, like the entry for IQ and race, verge on the profound. There is a print edition, but the extensive internal and external site linkage makes reading the collection online a particular joy. While The Skeptic's Dictionary has been referred to before on MeFi, the link made the site out to be a cornucopia of Urban legend-style oddities, like Snopes. Which I thought was a shame: not dissing Snopes, but the Skeptic's Dictionary delivers a firm grounding in critical thinking as well. This post is dedicated to all of my relatives who chipped in to buy shark cartilage tablets and several fifty-dollar pamphlets full of testimonials after my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and who probably still think the worse of me for not contributing to their folly.
posted by chrisgregory on Feb 6, 2004 - 28 comments

More Q & A on Terror and War

More Q & A on Terror and War
"A number of folks feel that current events -- particularly in the last few days -- have dramatically changed the logic and morality of what has been done in Afghanistan, calling into question much of the analysis and assessment that has been offered by critics of the war. Here are some of the questions we have been asked, and our brief replies."
posted by mapalm on Nov 18, 2001 - 60 comments

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