Mar 252014
 

A woman in Germany claims she was hypnotized outside of a supermarket, put into a trance, and later woke up at home having been robbed. There’s a certain creepy Gothic allure to the idea that a mesmerizing stranger can ask you to stare deeply into his eyes, or ask you to follow a pocketwatch swaying seductively to and fro and listen to him count backwards into a hypnotic trance. But is it real?

You can read my article HERE.

Feb 262014
 

In some countries selling one’s organs is perfectly legal. In the United States, it is against the law, although many people have suggested that legalizing the trade would save lives and offer real social benefits. Others find it an ethically dubious proposition.

You can read my two-part essay on this question at my CFI blog HERE.

Feb 092014
 

Over the past few months, dozens of environmentalists in Iceland have staged a high-profile protest against a road scheduled to cut through an area of volcanic rock on the Álftanes peninsula, not far from the capital of Reykjavik. It is only one of countless eco-protests in the world, but the campaign has made international news, because some of the protesters claim the proposed road would disturb the habitat of elves who live among the rocks…

You can read the whole curious story HERE.

 

Feb 082014
 

People who have stigmata exhibit wounds that duplicate or represent those that Jesus is said to have endured during his crucifixion. The wounds typically appear on the stigmatic’s hands and feet (as from crucifixion spikes) and also sometimes on the side (as from a spear) and hairline (as from a crown of thorns).

I researched the topic and wrote about it for LiveScience.com; you can read it HERE.

Nov 292013
 

An article in the Arizona Star newspaper about the chupacabra gives a decent summary and credits my book “Tracking the Chupacabra” with solving the mystery!  It’s also a pretty good read, check it out HERE .

 

For a thorough treatment of the chupacabras, its history, and its probable explanations, read Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore by Benjamin Radford (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 2011.)

Oct 222013
 

In a recent interview in New York magazine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged his belief in Satan:

Scalia said that “I even believe in the Devil…..Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that…. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore…. What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.”
Why, in 2013, do people still believe in the Devil? Here’s some reasons from my Discovery News piece, you can read it HERE.
Oct 182013
 

The second-largest hospital in the Southern African country of Swaziland may be operating a black market in human body parts used in magic spells, according to claims made by a reverend and others.

Weird, creepy, and not really surprising if you understand the magical beliefs in the region. You can read my piece on LiveScience.com HERE.

Oct 072013
 

Olivia Newton-John recently asked a priest to perform an exorcism on her home in Jupiter, Fla., in hopes of selling it. Following the suicide of a contractor in the home last month, the actress and singer is concerned about the social and spiritual stigma now associated with the residence, and the ceremony was an attempt to assure potential buyers that the place is not cursed or haunted.

My recent Discovery News article on home exorcisms and other realty-related magic rituals… You can read it HERE.

Sep 032013
 

Most people have heard of alchemy, but many don’t know much about it… Alchemy is an ancient practice shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Its practitioners mainly sought to turn lead into gold, a quest that has captured the imaginations of people for thousands of years. However, the goals of alchemy went far beyond simply creating some golden nuggets. Read more HERE.

Apr 262013
 

Forest Preserve police in Cook County, Ill., found a grisly discovery last week: a decapitated white goat tied to a tree near the Indian Boundary Golf Course. That was strange enough, but last Wednesday an unknown man delivered a smelly box addressed to Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Inside was a decaying goat’s head.

I wrote about this for LiveScience.com; you can read it HERE.

Apr 052013
 

I recently wrote about penis-theft panics for LiveScience.com. I’d written about it before, for example in the book I co-authored with Bob Bartholomew, “Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking,” and I included it in a talk I gave last year on mass hysterias at a skeptics conference. It’s an interesting subject that always gets people tittering…

You can read my recent story HERE.

Apr 022013
 

In many countries throughout the world belief in witches is common, and black magic is considered part of everyday life. A 2010 poll of 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that over half of the population believe in magic. Witch doctors are consulted not only for healing diseases, but also for placing, or removing, curses or bringing luck….

I recently wrote a piece about this for Discovery News; you can read it HERE.

Mar 232013
 

The belief that demons exist and can possess people is of course the stuff of fiction and horror films — but it is also one of the most widely-held religious beliefs in the world. Most religions claim that humans can be possessed by demonic spirits (the Bible, for example, recounts six instances of Jesus casting out demons), and offer exorcisms to remedy this threat.

 

I recently wrote an article on this topic for LiveScience.com, you can read it HERE. 

Oct 312012
 

I’ve been writing a lot recently, especially for the great web site LiveScience.com, discussing the truths, myths, history and lore of some of the world’s most famous monsters. Below are recent pieces about vampires, zombies, and werewolves… Enjoy!

 

Vampires: The Real History

http://www.livescience.com/24374-vampires-real-history.html

 

Werewolves: Lore, Legend, and Lycanthropy

http://www.livescience.com/24412-werewolves.html

 

Zombies: The Real Story of the Undead

http://www.livescience.com/23892-zombies-real-facts.html

Oct 232012
 

I was recently interviewed by the guys on the Project:Archivist podcast, discussing sex demons in world folklore.

You can hear the interview HERE. 

Oct 032012
 

Albuquerque author and investigator Benjamin Radford (me) will be presenting a free talk on The Mysterious Crystal Skulls. Crystal skulls are among the strangest and most mysterious artifacts in the world. They have been seen in the world’s finest museums, inspired Indiana Jones, and, according to legend, have even been used to see the future—or kill with terrible supernatural power. What do we make of these objects, whose origins are shrouded in the mists of mystery? Come hear the bizarre true story of this strange modern mystery!

The talk begins at 7 PM. The event is sponsored by New Mexicans for Science and Reason and is FREE and open to the public.

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science 1801 Mountain Road NW, 87104. For more information click HERE. 

 

 

Aug 162012
 

FOR DECADES, legends of a giant sexually-assaulting bat-creature have trickled out of Zanzibar. In this episode of MonsterTalk Drs. Stollznow and Atlantis interview me about my investigation of the creature and the role that the monster called Popabawa has played in culture and politics in the United States.

 

You can read the show notes and listen to the episode HERE.  

Jul 232012
 

Last week a federal judge in Alexandria, Louisiana, overturned a law banning fortunetelling on the basis that it is free speech protected by the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Dee Drell struck down an ordinance outlawing fortunetelling, astrology, palm reading, tarot, and other forms of divination on the grounds that the practices are fraudulent and inherently deceptive. This curious case raises issues about the boundary between freedom of speech and fraudulent (or at least unproven) claims; you can read more HERE.

Mar 272012
 

There’s been something wacky with the weather this winter, and many forecasters never saw it coming. Among them was The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the quirky, centuries-old mix of historical data, prognostications and folk wisdom. Millions of people consult the almanac, which uses a secret formula to come up with its annual, yearlong weather forecasts, even though meteorologists say it has a dubious track record.

What does it have to do with prophecy and skepticism? Read it and find out HERE!

Mar 152012
 

Maura Judkis of the Washington Post quoted me on superstitions:

“People will come to believe a date is ‘bad’ or unlucky and will focus on anything that goes wrong on that day,” wrote Benjamin Radford… “In that way, it becomes kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy: You assume you’re going to have a bad day, and so you do.”

You can see the full story HERE.

Feb 012012
 

In the latest episode of MonsterTalk, Blake Smith and I interview witch Emily Carlin about her book Defense Against the Dark, on how to protect yourself from evil spirits. It’s an interesting and respectful skeptic-versus-believer discussion; you can listen to it HERE.

Jan 082012
 

What’s scarier than Rick Santorum as president?

The orang minyak (Malay for “oily man”), a bizarre monster said to abduct young women by night throughout Malaysia. The creature has been occasionally sighted for decades, but never captured…. My article on this monster appeared on MSNBC; you can read it HERE.

Dec 312011
 

As we head inexorably toward 2012, I wrote a piece for Discovery News looking back at some of the strangest mysteries of this past year, and some of the mysteries that remain with us as we enter the new year.

What’s behind, and what’s ahead?  You can read the story HERE.