Mar 152016
 

Last month a sensational “news story” about supposedly mysterious, alien “music” heard on the dark side of the moon on the Apollo 10 mission has gone viral. HERE is the real explanation that cuts through the myths and mystery mongering…

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Mar 102016
 

Donald Trump is unique in the history of American politics in his repeated and successful endorsement of wild conspiracy theories. My new article explains why and how it works for him… you can read it HERE. 

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Feb 282016
 

For those who didn’t see it, I’m quoted in a new PBS piece on conspiracy theories: “Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of the Skeptical Inquirer science magazine, said many conspiratorial beliefs have a ‘grain of truth’ to them, such as when the high-profile revelations from Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that the government lied to the public. ‘There’s this illicit transference of belief where people assume just because the government is capable of doing bad things and being careless,’ Radford said. It provides a ‘sheen of plausibility’ that leads people to assume officials take things another step too far.”

You can read it HERE! 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Feb 152016
 

A while ago I recorded a few short (90-second) segments for an NPR station on the chemtrail conspiracy. Four of them are now on YouTube; you can see them HERE. 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Jan 272016
 

Late last year I recorded about a dozen short (1-2 minute) segments for a NPR station on various skeptical subjects. Here are five of the audio segments now available on YouTube, on the subject of the chupacabra. You can find them HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Jan 252016
 

Late last year I recorded about a dozen short (1-2 minute) segments for a NPR station on various skeptical subjects. Here are four of the audio segments now available on YouTube, on the subject of Chemtrail Conspiracies. You can find them HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Jan 182016
 

A recent study published in the “American Journal of Public Health” examined the demographics of California school students who had requested and received exemptions from mandatory vaccinations for nonmedical reasons. My recent article for Discovery News examines why many anti-vaccination parents are better educated than those who endorse vaccines. You can read it HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Nov 082015
 

Last month a bizarre photo circulated apparently depicting a flying city in the clouds. Explanations ranged from mirage to hoax to conspiracy operations; my take on it for Discovery News is HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Oct 202015
 

I and three other experts including Susan Gerbic are extensively quoted in a new story about internet hoaxes: “In today’s fast-paced news culture, misinformation and disinformation are spread with a click, often before authenticity and credibility are verified. Sometimes it’s harmless and funny, like The Onion fooling Fox News. But in other cases, this type of behavior is not only irresponsible but also incredibly dangerous. To understand this culture of deception, Hopes&Fears gathered four experts on hoaxes, falsehoods, rumors and pseudoscience…” You can read it HERE. 

Oct 122015
 

From the Radford Files archives:

 

A recent poll by Harris interactive found that 14 percent of Americans suspect that President Barack Obama may be the Antichrist. Nearly a quarter of Republicans, and 16 percent of Democrats, responded this way. Forty percent said they think Obama is a Socialist, and just under one-third believe he is Muslim.

 

If the statistics are valid, the number of people who believe that Obama is the Antichrist is alarming. For many people—especially religious fundamentalists— “the Antichrist” is not a metaphor. It’s not meant as a joke or hyperbole. They really, literally mean they believe that the President of the United States may either be evil incarnate (Satan), or the entity who fulfills Biblical prophecy as the adversary of Jesus Christ.

 

Yet a close reading of the Bible reveals an interesting discrepancy: According to Scripture, the Antichrist will try to deceive the public by claiming to work on God’s behalf. He will be a so-called wolf in sheep’s clothing, a duplicitious man of God pretending to do God’s work while instead furthering his own diabolical agenda.

 

President Obama has never implicitly nor explicitly claimed to God’s work. Though he has invoked God and religion on occasion, his presidency has been fairly secular. (Those people who believe that Obama is both a Muslim and the Antichrist have some mighty confused and contradictory theology.)

 

George W. Bush, on the other hand, repeatedly invoked God during his presidency. He was quoted in The Faith of George W. Bush as saying “I’ve heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President.” Bush also said, “The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled. This confrontation is willed by God who wants this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a new age begins,” and that “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”

 

Of course George W. Bush is no more the Antichrist than Barack Obama is. Yet if what the Bible says about the Antichrist is true, Bush is a far more likely candidate than Obama. For the majority of Americans who are pretty sure that President Obama is neither a Muslim nor the Antichrist, it’s easy to mock such outlandish beliefs. But beliefs have consequences; in early April, nine self-proclaimed paramilitary “Christian warriors” were arrested in Michigan. They had been preparing for a battle with the government—and, ultimately, perhaps the Antichrist.

 

 

This piece originally appeared in the Briefs Briefs column in the June 2010 Skeptical Briefs newsletter.

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Oct 042015
 

 

With the news last month about the discovery of a “super-Stonehenge” circling one of the world’s most famous monuments, attention has once again focused on the Wiltshire marvel. There are thousands of ancient stone circles across Europe, of which Stonehenge is by far the best known and most impressive. While there are many genuine historical mysteries about Stonehenge — such as who built it and for what purpose — there are just as many fabricated ones trading in myth and conspiracy. You can read my Discovery News piece HERE.

 

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Sep 252015
 

I spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with conspiracies and conspiracy theories. Over the years I’ve written about dozens and dozens of conspiracy theories, including the Obama birthers, the Sandy Hook shootings (for which I still receive hate e-mails), Osama bin Laden death conspiracies, claims that vaccines are attempts to poison children, 9/11 truthers, the EPA spill in the Animas river, and countless others. I’m fascinated by the psychology of conspiracy thinking, why some conspiracies gain traction while other fade away, and more. One curious and often-overlooked element of conspiracy thinking is that conspiracy theorists are for the most part completely uninterested in actual, provable conspiracies, such as the GM coverups. You can read more at my CFI blog. 

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

 

Sep 162015
 

I was recently a guest on the 16Miles2Hell show, talking about conspiracy theories, the history of conspiracy dissemination, and the psychology of conspiracies…

Put on your tinfoil hat and check it out! 

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Sep 142015
 

For those who didn’t see it last week, here’s my article on Stonehenge myths and how restoration efforts sparked conspiracy theories is now out, you can see it HERE.  

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Aug 072015
 

Police in Florida suggest that a triple murder in Pensacola late last month is connected to witches, Wiccans, and/or Satanists. My new article on why that’s almost certainly false, with a discussion of previous crimes police wrongly attributed to Satanists or witches, is HERE. 

Jul 202015
 

Amid a spate of six church fires in the South, people are concerned that the high racial tensions have played a role. While many people suspect that the fires were racially motivated–especially in light of the recent shooting spree at an African-American church in Charleston–officials have said that so far that have no evidence or reason to believe that they were racially motivated, and at least one fire that set a Florida church on fire was electrical.

Almost exactly twenty years ago there was a similar outbreak of fires involving nearly twice as many churches. In May 1996 a rash of twelve church fires was reported nationwide, five of which served mostly black congregations. The arsons were seen by many as being racially motivated, fueled in part by stories like the one that appeared in the September 2, 1996, issue of Newsweek: Below the headline, “We Live in Daily Fear” is the slug, “Greenville, Texas, thought it had outgrown its racist past. That was 41 fires ago.” The article went on to describe two recent church arsons in the town of Greenville. Curiously, the article notes that, in the case of both Greenville churches highlighted therein, “[P]olice recently charged a retarded 18-year-old black man with both church blazes.” So even though many in the public–and the Newsweek reporter–assumed that race was a factor, it apparently was not.

The following month President Clinton highlighted the problem in an address to the nation and announced that a national task force would be organized to investigate and combat the crimes. A year later the task force concluded that many of the 429 fires they examined were not racist but copycat crimes. They found no evidence of a racist conspiracy or even a clear pattern to the crimes.

Many were committed by individuals acting alone, and, of those arrested, 42 percent were juveniles. Though some of the fires were traced to racist motives, other arsons were committed for profit, vandalism, or revenge. Of the 199 people arrested in incidents dating back to 1995, 160 were white, 34 were black, and 5 were Latino.

The Insurance Information Institute, a trade group that collects data regarding insurance companies, examined the rash of fires in 1996 and concluded that: (1) most of the fires were set by serial arsonists; (2) the number of fires in white churches also increased in 1995; (3) in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Virginia, fires destroyed more white churches than black ones; and (4) in nine of fifteen black church fires, black suspects were named.

Eric Daniel Harris, former pastor of a rural Baptist church, confessed that he set his own Kentucky church on fire. Harris, who had implied that he thought the fire was either a hate crime or an act of vandalism, said he burned his church to unite his flock. In Wichita Falls, Texas, a minister and three others were accused of burning down their own church to collect $270,000 in insurance in November of 1996.

President Obama has so far not commented on the church fires specifically nor about the possible racial motives behind them, and in fact that may be for the best. The reason: copycats.

President Clinton’s announcement about the church fires actually led to more, not fewer, church arsons: Following the president’s speech, the number of incidents nearly quadrupled. Forty-seven churches were targets of fires or bombs, nineteen of which were black churches. This increase was mainly attributed to copycat crimes: Treasury Secretary James E. Johnson reported that some of those arrested said “they saw it on the news, and this became the thing to do.” Thus the news media, and all the discussions on social media about the fires, may inadvertently help perpetuate the problem.

Whether these church fires are related to each other, or related to race, remains to be seen. A motive, if any, can’t be determined until a suspect is arrested. Until then America will just have to live with the uncertainty but can take comfort that at least one previous rash of church fires wasn’t a racist conspiracy.

 

Jun 302015
 

My new article on KFC urban legends, and how a piece of chicken can look like a fried rat, is up at Discovery News, you can read it HERE.  It’s an interesting blend of psychology, folklore, and culture…

Mar 182015
 

Late-night talk shows are better known for topical comedy and celebrities plugging their new movie or CD than they are for science education. However, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” recently gave the pro-science, pro-vaccination effort a boost.. you can read about it HERE. 

 

Jan 252015
 

A viral story about how a high school allegedly used Photoshop to change their students’ yearbook photos to make them thinner started on Reddit earlier this month and has appeared on Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, PerezHilton, and elsewhere.

As it turns out, the story isn’t quite as outrageous as claimed, you can read it HERE. 

Oct 052014
 

My recent guest appearance on The Edge of the Unknown Radio Show is now up, wherein I discuss skepticism, investigations, and some mysteries covered in my new book. Check it out HERE!

Sep 262014
 

Hundreds of Colombian girls and their families are blaming HPV vaccines for mysterious symptoms. An interesting blend of anti-vaccination conspiracy and mass hysteria, you can read my article on it HERE. 

Sep 072014
 

Had a good time at Dragon*Con on the Skeptics Track last week, seeing lots of interesting people (and costumes!), seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I gave presentations on crystal skulls, organ theft urban legends, and scientific paranormal investigation, as well as appearing on a few panels including on conspiracy theories. Always nice to share my research and spread critical thinking and skepticism. Thanks to all those who came out and supported us!

Jul 042014
 

I was recently interviewed by Voice of Russia about conspiracy theories surrounding the missing Malaysian Flight 370.

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 has become the most debated issue in the recent weeks, sparking more questions than answers. The public has taken to coming up with their own theories desperately seeking a clue for the Malaysian jetliner riddle. An assortment of conspiracy theories includes terrorist attacks, supernatural intervention, and even influence of the Illuminati. Although the government of Malaysia announced that the Boeing had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, no debris from the missing aircraft has yet been found despite all efforts of the multinational search team. According to Malaysian officials, police investigation may never discover the reason of the crash, but that only poured oil on the flames.


Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_04_06/A-guide-to-MH370-conspiracy-theories-10-most-curious-versions-8123/

Jun 302014
 

In theory, it seems it should be nearly impossible to lose track of a commercial airplane in flight: with sophisticated radar and satellite tracking, it would take a catastrophic series of system failures for a flight to simply disappear without a trace. Yet Flight 370 remains missing…

Read the rest of my article HERE.

Jun 052014
 

I wrote an in-depth review and analysis of the Discovery show “Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives,” (airing June 1) in which a tongue-hungry Yeti is accused of killing 9 Russian skiers in 1959. You can read the piece exclusively on Doubtful News!

May 122014
 

Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists shut down by school board–and other conspiracy folks who taunt and harass tragedy victims. “Hounding a pioneering astronaut is one thing, but it takes a particularly callous conspiracy theorist to look the parent of a murdered child in the eye and call him a liar.”

Read the whole piece HERE. 

May 102014
 

For many years conspiracy theorists claimed the government conducts top secret chemical testing in the skies above us. As evidence they point to “chemtrails” — actually ordinary airplane contrails, or condensation trails — that, it’s claimed, have some sinister purpose….

You can read my piece HERE. 

May 012014
 

Diamonds have fascinated mankind for centuries, and it’s not surprising that folklore and superstitions have arisen involving good and bad luck associated with them. One of the most spectacular gems in the world is the Hope Diamond, a beautiful blue diamond weighing over 45 carats…. Yet it is said to be cursed! Read about it HERE-– if you dare!

Apr 122014
 

A scary update on a tragic story I wrote about a few months ago: An Asian-American couple has been found guilty of killing their daughter to sell her organs. Belief in rumors and urban legends can have very bad consequences…. You can read the story HERE. 

Apr 072014
 

Recent videos of animals fleeing Yellowstone Park have many tourists and local residents concerned that a volcanic eruption may be imminent…. I take a closer look at the story… you can read it HERE.