General & Unsorted
December 27, 2011 Each year brings new puzzles and mysteries to challenge skeptics and put our wits to the test. Sometimes mysteries take weeks, months, or even years or decades to solve, and while most of the public's attention naturally focuses on the still-mysterious, it's always worth reflecting on former mysteries. This past year saw two high-profile cryptozoological (monster) mysteries finally solved, that of the Puerto Rican chupacabra and the French Beast of Gévaudan. Five Solved ‘Unexplained Mysteries’ of 2011
I am a skeptic. I will accept any claim, regardless of how insane it might initially sound, if it is supported by robust and valid evidence. And for that reason, I am also an atheist. I have access to the internet and I am fairly outspoken. All of these facts together mean that I occasionally get into discussions and debates with theists on various topics. Why I Celebrate Death
Stupid Sceptic Tricks Sceptics using unfair arguments? Surely not!Published in The Skeptic, Volume 16, Issue 3 (2003)
Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science Robert L. Park, Ph.D The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is investing close to a million dollars in an obscure Russian scientist's antigravity machine, although it has failed every test and would violate the most fundamental laws of nature. The Patent and Trademark Office recently issued Patent 6,362,718 for a physically impossible motionless electromagnetic generator, which is supposed to snatch free energy from a vacuum. And major power companies have sunk tens of millions of dollars into a scheme to produce energy by putting hydrogen atoms into a state below their ground state, a feat equivalent to mounting an expedition to explore the region south of the South Pole. There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it.
Structure of a Logical Argument Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, our arguments all follow a certain basic structure. They begin with one or more premises, which are facts that the argument takes for granted as the starting point. Then a principle of logic is applied in order to come to a conclusion.
A faulty generalization is a conclusion about all or many instances of a phenomenon that has been reached on the basis of just one or just a few instances of that phenomenon. It is an example of jumping to conclusions. For example, we may generalize about all people, or all members of a group, based on what we know about just one or just a few people. If we meet an angry person from a given country X, we may suspect that most people in country X are often angry. If we meet a lazy recipient of social welfare benefits, we may suspect that all welfare recipients are lazy. Faulty generalizations may lead to further incorrect conclusions. Faulty generalization
Project Alpha Project Alpha was an elaborate hoax that began in 1979 and ended with its disclosure in 1981. It was orchestrated by the stage magician and skeptic James Randi. It involved planting two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (now better known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project. During the initial stages of the investigation, the researchers came to believe that the pair's psychic powers were real. However, more formal experiments, as well as criticism from both the parapsychology community and Randi himself, led them to dismiss their initial trust. The hoax was later revealed publicly. Following Project Alpha, Randi went on to use variations of the technique on several other occasions.
The Skeptical Inquirer Summer 1983 The Project Alpha Experiment: Part one. The First Two Years Project Alpha
Good evening. Food for The Eagle - Adam Savage's speech to Harvard Humanism Society