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The Belief Trilogy

by Michael Shermer, Mar 26 2009

This is a brief video introduction to the power of belief through the three books of my trilogy: Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, The Science of Good and Evil, and (pace Douglas Adams) volume 4 of the trilogy, The Mind of the Market. The first volume is on science and pseudoscience and, as the title says, why people believe weird things. Vol. 2, How We Believe, is on why people believe in God (but the publisher didn’t want to call it that so they went with the more generic title on belief). Vol. 3 is on why we are moral, but since the book deals more than with the evolutionary origins of morality, they once again went with the broader title. Vol. 4, then, expands on the theme of belief in the realm of economics, and why people believe weird things about money and why markets seem to have a mind of their own.

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A Skeptic Christmas

by Ryan Johnson, Dec 23 2008

It’s a very weird time of year for the non-religious skeptic.  Everyone is going to church, talk of Jesus and God abound and the holiday discussion is centered around whether we should say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas.

I didn’t grow up in a very religious home.  My parents allowed me to make my own decision about religion.  I went to bible school a few times when I was a child during summer.  I even attended a Christian private school from pre-school to 1st grade.  My only recollection of that experience is that the staff was scary and that I had to memorize verses every week.  How that relates to a good education, I still have no idea.  My parents, thankfully, figured this out quickly and put me into public school, where I really learned a lot and could grow up to be a well-rounded, healthy person.

Religion is such a sensitive subject, I even thought twice about whether I wanted to write anything on the net that talks about religion, and my views of it. I know there are friends that I have that are very religious, that may read this.  Generally, I just avoid that subject with them, because most of the time, I have no desire to discuss or quarrel with them on my religious views. My friendship is more important that one aspect of their lives not aligning with mine.

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Skeptic – The Name Thing Again

by Steven Novella, Nov 17 2008

OK – we all know that the name “skeptic” is sub-optimal. Probably, if someone paid a great deal of money to a top-notch marketing team they would come up with something better. But we don’t always get to choose such things. Names take root and have cultural inertia. Attempts at imposing a new name on the modern skeptical movement have failed (cough…”brights”…cough!).

Rather than fight history, inertia, and etymology most of us have just decided to embrace it and make the best out of it. Michael took the plunge with the Skeptic Society, I signed on with the New England Skeptical Society, then the Skeptics’ Guide. Brian came to acceptance with Skeptoid. (Of course, the Skeptical Inquirer blazed the trail for all of us.)

And then, of course, Ryan and Brian chose the name The Skeptologists for the first skeptical reality TV show (hopefully).

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Kombucha – Healthy Elixer Or Not?

by Kirsten Sanford, Nov 14 2008

I’ve watched over the past year as a drink called Kombucha has become more and more popular within my group of friends. Most of them drink it because the bottle tells a story that all but promises freedom from sickness of any kind. They also say that it makes them feel better.

From the GTS Kombucha website:

“In 1995, founder GT Dave’s mom, Laraine Dave, had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer with a trajectory of illness known to move quickly to the lymph and bones. When she was diagnosed, doctors held out little hope for her given the aggressive type of cancer and its advanced stage. But to the surprise of everyone, her cancerous cells were found to be dormant with no metastasis. Her physicians were baffled and asked what she was doing that others in her situation were perhaps not doing. The only thing she could think of was that she had been drinking homemade Kombucha every day for the last couple of years.”

Anecdotal evidence is never convincing to a skeptic, so I’ve remained skeptical about Kombucha’s health providing properties even though several of them profess its wonders.

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Introducing SkepticBlog

by Steven Novella, Oct 24 2008

The internet, and now Web 2.0, has transformed the skeptical community. For one, it has made it into much more of an actual community (albeit largely a virtual one). Blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, Youtube videos, and websites have brought a new generation of skeptics into skepticism.

It has also fostered a collaboration among existing skeptics that simply did not exist before. Prior to Web 2.0 my skeptical activism was largely confined to a small local group, a print newsletter, and the very occasional national meeting. There were three national groups all doing their own thing, and about 60 local groups toiling away in relative isolation.

Now skepticism is a vibrant and growing international virtual community.
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