My recent Discovery News article examines the history of anti-vaccination campaigns and explains some reasons why they’re still with us, and probably always will be; you can find it HERE.
Earlier this month an infographic circulated on social media comparing the number of people killed by different animals. By far the highest of the group was mosquitoes, and that’s not only misleading, it’s simply wrong. I’ve traveled extensively in South America and Africa and am very aware of the dangers of malaria and the need to fight it. But mosquitoes (specifically female mosquitoes) do not kill humans through malaria; a different organism, a protozoan called Plasmodium, does. Some infected mosquitoes can transmit Plasmodium to humans, but they don’t “kill people” in the same way as the other animals listed. I’m all for education, but get your facts right.
If the argument is that any animal that can spread a disease is responsible for the deaths caused by the virus or disease they spread: Since humans spread countless deadly contagious diseases including flu, tuberculosis, HIV, plague, Ebola, etc. they should also be in that category. We don’t consider humans (as a species) to be the threat that kills others, we recognize that it’s the protozoan/bacteria/virus that kills. So why the different category for mosquitoes?
My new article on the link between oxygen deprivation and near-death experiences is now up at Discovery News, you can read it HERE!
A Connecticut teenager forced by the Supreme Court to accept cancer treatments is in remission…. You can read more HERE.
The Attorneys General of several states recently announced a crackdown on unsafe herbal supplements…. you can read more HERE.
Last month I wrote an article for Discovery News about how the Toronto Star had published a prominent article scaremongering about the HPV vaccine Gardasil, promoting scary anecdotes over sound science. Well, last week the newspaper finally and formally removed the article from their website, as close to a retraction as is likely to happen. I can’t take credit for it, of course–there were many people writing about the irresponsible journalism–but I’m pleased to have helped in some small way.
The respected PBS television series “Nova” has won multiple Peabody and Emmy awards. So how did it manage to so badly bungle an episode on anorexia, spreading myths and misinformation about the dangerous disease? Here’s a piece of investigative journalism I did, adapted from my Masters thesis on the subject of eating disorder misinformation in the media. You can read it HERE.
In the next issue of Skeptical Inquirer I name one of the most under-appreciated or unrecognized skeptics of the past few decades… There were many I could go with, but I thought I’d choose a woman who popularized one of the best-known skeptical quotes in history: Clara Peller!
Pick up the new issue of Skeptical Inquirer for more!
Last month what looked like a human finger was found on a beach in northern Australia; police were called but in the end scientists solved the mystery… you can read my article about this displaced digit HERE.
My recent CFI blog:
In early November 2014 a map of Africa went viral, spread widely through social media at time when Ebola fears dominated the news. The map showed an outline of Africa, the bulk of it in light brown and labeled “NO EBOLA,” with the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia highlighted and colored. I saw it several times in my Twitter feed, forwarded to me by various skeptical colleagues. Sadly, it was also wrong…
You can read the rest HERE.
Do those “brain games” and brain training programs really work? My article on Discovery News takes a closer look, you can read it HERE.
The “rain of frogs” is a classic historical mystery, and various skeptical explanations have been offered.
My piece on it, in which I address counter-arguments, is HERE.
The parents of a four-year-old boy think that he had a past life as Marine killed in 1983.
I don’t, and you can read why in my new Discovery News article HERE.
Much to my surprise, I’m quoted in a news story about “magnetic children.” You can read it HERE.
For those who didn’t see it, here’s my blog on the importance of fact-checking statistics and claims–including those made by people whose causes you support.
You can read it HERE.
The Oujia board, also known as a witch board or spirit board, is simple and elegant. The board itself is printed with letters and numbers, while a roughly heart-shaped device called a planchette slides over the board. The game was created in the 1890s and sold to Hasbro in 1966. It began as a parlor game with no association with ghosts until much later, and today many people believe it can contact spirits… You can read my article HERE.
I have a recent blog on the importance of fact-checking statistics and claims–including those made by people whose causes you support. You can read it HERE.
L.A. based comic Ian Harris has a show premiering August 12, full of critical thought and hilarity.
Here’s what Ian wrote: “Please folks note, that you have at least 2 whole months to watch this at your own leisure, from the comfort of you own house, iPad, laptop, xbox, phone, whatever. You don’t need to subscribe to a newsletter, or join a cult, or come to my house, or have your asshole uncle Bob over to watch, or buy drinks, or change your sexual orientation or anything. All you need to do is go to your TV or iTunes or AmazonInstant or GooglePlay and find this show (It is easy as it has my name in it) then hit “order” and 71 hilarious and hopefully thought-provoking minutes later you will have made both of us incredibly happy!”
You can get the link HERE.
In the new action thriller “Lucy” from writer and director Luc Besson, Scarlett Johansson plays a drug mule whose body is implanted with a substance that begins to seep into her bloodstream and affect her body — most importantly her brain. And therein lies the rub–and the pseudoscience; you can read it HERE.
My recent article on water dowsing was quoted by Southern California Public Radio… You can see the story HERE.
My article on a hidden danger of acupuncture: It can spread tuberculosis–and why the cost vs. benefit analysis suggests acupuncture should not be used…
You can read the piece HERE.
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.
My new piece reflecting on the 3 month, $40 million futile search for Flight 370 can be seen HERE.
What monsters may lurk deep in our oceans? We feel fairly safe on dry, familiar land, where dangerous animals can usually be seen and avoided. But since men first took to sea thousands of years ago, legends and stories have been told of fearsome marine monsters that awaited those who ventured too far from shore.
My article on the marine mystery of globsters is now up at LiveScience.com!
There is a long history of folklore and legends about magical mirrors, ranging from the Bloody Mary urban legends to the sycophantic mirror in Snow White to the centuries-old practice of covering mirrors in the room of a dying person lest either Death or the Devil be seen in them. The new horror film Oculus plays with these ideas, and paranormal investigation. You can read my piece HERE.
My article on a recent “Texas chupacabra” recently made the front page of Yahoo! News… You can read the story HERE.
Cell-phone shields may do little to protect you — and scientists say they’re unnecessary. My brief investigation into a company that took out a full page ad in the New York Times Science(!) section can be read HERE.
The latest health fad making the rounds is something called “oil pulling,” an ancient Indian practice in which people cleanse their mouths (and bodies) of toxins by swishing a vegetable oil (such as olive, coconut, or sunflower) in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spitting it out.
You can read my piece for Discovery News HERE.
A huge solar flare belched a cloud of charged particles into Earth’s path. But other than frying telegraph lines, the electromagnetic collision caused little stir in the world. But how real is the danger of another massive sunburst?
I add my two cents in this story, which you can read HERE.
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.
An interesting and insightful overview of the values of skepticism, from the editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, you can read it HERE.
Long discussed in eyewitness reports and folklore, proving the presence of mysterious lights associated with earthquakes was difficult. But it seems they’re rare-but-real. According to Sharon Hill of Doubtful News, “As a geologist who has studied anomalous phenomena connected to earthquakes, this is an excellent step forward to understanding earthquake lights. This will be of interest to Forteans, anomalists, geophysicists and even UFO chasers!”
Read the Doubtful News piece HERE!
Got a response from Congressman Ben Lujan’s office to my letter requesting that the FDA investigate quack cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. My information was passed along to a FDA Legislation Commissioner for a response. Please join us in contacting your elected officials to stop this man from preying on the sick.
You can help by going to http://thehoustoncancerquack.com/.
My new CFI blog on the solving of a strange mystery, the theories behind it, and why investigation matters… You can read it HERE.
A hunter stumbled upon a bizarre sight on a 75,000-acre ranch north of Las Vegas, N.M., on Aug. 27: the remains of more than 100 dead elk. Wildlife officials were puzzled and wild theories ran wild, but in the end science found an answer; you can read my LiveScience.com article about it HERE.