Jun 112015
 

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 the11425848_10205625736136981_277207288052384716_n 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?

Apr 012015
 

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.

Mar 032015
 

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. 

Feb 222015
 

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!

Jan 292015
 

Following consumer complaints and a June 2014 congressional hearing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against the manufacturer of a green coffee bean extract heavily promoted by Dr. Oz on his popular television show. You can read more HERE. 

Dec 182014
 

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.

Oct 272014
 

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.

Sep 092014
 

I will be appearing Weds the 10th speaking for the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) at 7 PM about my investigation into the miracle of Santa Fe’s Loretto Staircase.  I will also be signing copies of my new book Mysterious New Mexico! 

You can find more about it HERE and HERE. 

Aug 112014
 

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. 

Jul 262014
 

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. 

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.

May 272014
 

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!

Apr 282014
 

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.

Mar 222014
 

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.

Feb 282014
 

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.

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.

Jan 052014
 

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!

 

Dec 282013
 

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/.