Nov 302011

A scene in the latest installment of the Twilight franchise has reportedly been causing viewers across the country to have seizures. I investigated the “original” and best known case of photosensitive epilepsy in 2001. You can read the story HERE.

Nov 042011

In a Halloween article on, writer Tracy Clark-Florey wrote a very good piece on the panic over sex offenders at Halloween (coincidentally, the subject of Chapter 29 in my new book The Martians Have Landed!). In it she referenced some of my work on the topic; you can read the piece HERE.

Nov 032011

I’m pleased to announce that my sixth book, The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes, is now available.

The book is co-authored with sociologist Robert Bartholomew (who also co-authored my first book back in 2003, Hoaxes Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking). Bob and I also co-authored a report on the Pokemon Panic which solved the mystery and was published in the prestigious Southern Medical Journal.

The Martians Have Landed! surveys a wide breadth of social panics and scares that were fueled by the mass media, from classics like the 1938 War of the Worlds scare by Orson Welles and the Halley’s Comet panic of 1910, to recent panics like murders following Hurricane Katrina and anti-vaccination fears. Other topics include Morgellons disease; the Ghost Slasher of Taipei; radio disc jockey hoaxes; the bird flu panic; the Bat-men on the Moon hoax; shark attack panics; urban legends; the Curse of the Crying Boy paintings; e-mail virus panics, mass hysterias, and much more. In all there are nearly 40 chapters by experts around the world. Some are hoaxes; others are merely misunderstandings that got out of control. Some are now largely forgotten, while others still have a clear effect on us today and will shape society into the future.

I contributed about half the chapters, including on phantom clowns, contrails, Satanic scares, predator panics, kidney theft, and how the Puerto Rican media fueled concern over a certain blood-sucking beast you may have heard of….

Autographed copies of the book can be purchased from me at my Web site for $36 (includes free shipping), or at your local independent bookstore, or at and elsewhere. The cover price is $40.

Oct 202011

Harold Camping, the leader of the ministry Family Radio Worldwide, who concluded after careful study of the Bible that the world would end (or begin to end) on May 21, 2011, says the world will end in the next few days… While End Times believers scour the Bible for evidence supporting their beliefs, perhaps they should re-read Proverbs 16:18 (“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”).

You can read the full story HERE.

Sep 282011

In an article on mass hysteria, a Time magazine article referenced my investigation of the 1997 Pokemon Panic (which appears as a chapter in my book Scientific Paranormal Investigation). My co-author Bob Bartholomew, with whom I wrote up the case for the Southern Medical Journal in 2001, is quoted. Read the story HERE. 

Sep 262011

Researchers from the United Nations recently met in Cambodia to solve the mystery of why large numbers of female workers in that nation have succumbed to an unknown (and temporary) illness. But rather than a physical illness as the source, the scientists may want to look at the mind as the root cause. Read more HERE.