Skeptic (U.S. magazine)

Skeptic (U.S. magazine)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Skeptic (U.S. magazine)'
Start a new discussion about 'Skeptic (U.S. magazine)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Skeptic is a quarterly science education
Science education
Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises...

 and science advocacy magazine
Magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

 published internationally by The Skeptics Society
The Skeptics Society
The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit, member-supported organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. The Skeptics Society was originally founded as a Los Angeles-area skeptical group to replace the defunct...

, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

 and resisting the spread of pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

, superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

, and irrational
Irrationality
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate reasoning, emotional distress, or cognitive deficiency...

 beliefs. Founded by Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer
Michael Brant Shermer is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members...

, founder of the Skeptics Society, the magazine was first published in the spring of 1992 and is published through Millennium Press.

Shermer remains the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and the magazine’s Co-publisher and Art Director
Art director
The art director is a person who supervise the creative process of a design.The term 'art director' is a blanket title for a variety of similar job functions in advertising, publishing, film and television, the Internet, and video games....

 is Pat Linse. Other noteworthy members of its editorial board include Oxford University evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

, Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning scientist Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

, magician and escape artist-turned educator James “The Amazing” Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, and actor, comedian, and Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

 
alumna Julia Sweeney
Julia Sweeney
Julia Anne Sweeney is an American actress, comedian and author best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for her autobiographical solo shows.-Personal life:...

.

Skeptic has an international circulation with over 50,000 subscriptions and is on major newsstands in the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, Australia, and other foreign countries.

History, format and structure


The cover story of the magazine’s very first issue was a tribute to scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

 and science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 writer Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

. The robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

 on the cover of volume 12, #2 (2006) is depicted sitting on a park bench reading that issue. (Asimov wrote a number of stories featuring robots and coined the term robotics
Robotics
Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots...

.)

Every issue of the magazine opens with a description of The Skeptics Society and its mission statement, which is to explore subjects such as creationism
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

, pyramid power
Pyramid power
Pyramid power refers to alleged supernatural or paranormal properties of the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape. With this power, model pyramids are said to preserve foods, sharpen or maintain the sharpneses of razor blades, improve health , function "as a...

, Bigfoot
Bigfoot
Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is an ape-like cryptid that purportedly inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid...

, pseudohistorical claims
Pseudohistory
Pseudohistory is a pejorative term applied to a type of historical revisionism, often involving sensational claims whose acceptance would require rewriting a significant amount of commonly accepted history, and based on methods that depart from standard historiographical conventions.Cryptohistory...

 (as in the examples of Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 and extreme Afrocentrism
Afrocentrism
Afrocentrism is cultural ideology mostly limited to the United States, dedicated to the history of Black people a response to global racist attitudes about African people and their historical contributions by revisiting this history with an African cultural and ideological center...

), the use or misuse of theory and statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

, conspiracy theories, urban myths, witch-hunts
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

, mass hysterias, genius
Genius
Genius is something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight....

 and intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

, and cultural influences on science, as well as controversies involving protoscience
Protoscience
In the philosophy of science, a protoscience is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming established. Protoscience is distinguished from pseudoscience by its standard practices of good science, such as a willingness to be disproven by new evidence, or to be replaced by a...

s at the leading edge of established science, and even fads like cryonics
Cryonics
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology...

 and low-carb diets. In addition to publishing the magazine, the Society also sponsors lecture series at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

, produces and sells tapes of the lectures, as well as other books on pertinent subjects, holds field trips to investigate and research such subjects, conducts social events to promote good-will, and provides resources for the public and the media, with which they may approach controversial subjects from a skeptical viewpoint.

In 2011 the magazine has three regular columnists. James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

 writes "’Twas Brillig…," Harriet A. Hall
Harriet A. Hall
Harriet A. Hall is a retired family physician, former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and skeptic who writes about alternative medicine and quackery for Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer.-Career:...

 writes "The Skep Doc" and Karen Stollznow
Karen Stollznow
Karen Stollznow is an Australian writer, linguist, podcaster and skeptic. She is a columnist for both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines and is host on two different skeptic podcasts...

 writes "Bad Language."

The magazine’s page count varies from 104 – 114 pages.

Typical topics


The first text piece in each issue is an editorial
Editorial
An opinion piece is an article, published in a newspaper or magazine, that mainly reflects the author's opinion about the subject. Opinion pieces are featured in many periodicals.-Editorials:...

 by James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, often made in reaction to stories from the mainstream news media, such as the 2005 story by the ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 newsmagazine
Newsmagazine
A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published piece of paper, magazine or a radio or television program, usually weekly, featuring articles or segments on current events...

 Primetime Live on a Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian faith healer
Faith Healer
Faith Healer is a play by Brian Friel about the life of faith healer Francis Hardy as monologued through the shifting memories of Hardy, his wife, Grace, and stage manager, Teddy.-Synopsis:...

, João Teixeira
João de Deus (medium)
João Teixeira de Faria , known also as João de Deus , is a self-described medium and "psychic surgeon" from Brazil. He is based in Abadiânia, a small town in the state of Goiás, southwest of Brasília.-Early life:...

. Other times he will examine other topics that he has investigated in the past, such as alleged dowsers, alleged psychic
Psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

s like Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne is an American author who describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium...

, and UFOs.

The magazine also features a large correspondence section called "Forum" that includes not only letters from lay readers but also in-depth comments and rebuttals from professionals for extended academic debate across issues from past editions.

The bulk of the magazine is devoted to a variety of topics. Its cover stories have ranged from examination of alleged UFOs in religious icons and theories of the likelihood of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 to tributes to luminaries such as Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

 and Ernst Mayr
Ernst Mayr
Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist...

. Some editions feature special sections devoted to a particular topic or theme that is examined through multiple articles by different authors, such as Intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

, a frequently recurring topic in the magazine, given the ongoing creation vs. evolution controversy.

Junior Skeptic


Bound into most issues is also a 10-page young readers section called Junior Skeptic. Heralded by a cover printed on glossy paper (the rest of the magazine is printed on non-glossy stock), Junior Skeptic focuses on one topic, or practical instruction that is written and illustrated in a style more appealing to children.

Daniel Loxton
Daniel Loxton
Daniel Loxton is a Canadian writer, illustrator, and skeptic. He is the Editor of Junior Skeptic magazine, a kids’ science section bound into the Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine...

 is the Editor of Junior Skeptic. He writes and illustrates most issues.

The first edition of Junior Skeptic appeared in volume 6, #2 of Skeptic (2000).
  1. Emily Rosa
    Emily Rosa
    Emily Rosa is the youngest person to have a research paper published in a peer reviewed medical journal. At age nine Rosa conceived and executed a scientific study of therapeutic touch which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998...

     vs Therapeutic Touch
    Therapeutic touch
    Therapeutic touch , also known as Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch , is an energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. Practitioners of therapeutic touch state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the...

     (volume 6, #2)
  2. Bigfoot
    Bigfoot
    Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is an ape-like cryptid that purportedly inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid...

     (volume 6, #3)
  3. Aliens Among Us? (volume 6, #4)
  4. Fortune telling (volume 7, #1)
  5. Urban legends (volume 7, #2)
  6. Halloween
    Halloween
    Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

     (volume 7, #3)
  7. Television psychics (volume 7, #4)
  8. Charles Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

     (volume 8, #1)
  9. Pyramids (volume 8, #2)
  10. Atlantis
    Atlantis
    Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

     (volume 8, #4)
  11. Moon landing hoax (volume 9, #1)
  12. Magician’s Force (Magic instruction by magician Bob Friedhoffer.) (volume 9, #2)
  13. (volume 9, #3)
  14. Sea monsters
    Sea Monsters
    Sea Monsters was a BBC television trilogy which used computer-generated imagery to show past life in Earth's seas. In the U.S. it was known as Chased by Sea Monsters. It was made by Impossible Pictures, the creators of Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Beasts and Walking with Monsters...

     (volume 9, #4)
  15. Extraterrestrial life
    Extraterrestrial life
    Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

     ( volume 10, #1)
  16. Yeti
    Yeti
    The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, and Tibet. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region, and are part of their history and mythology...

     (volume 10, #2)
  17. Bermuda Triangle
    Bermuda Triangle
    The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances....

     ( volume 10, #3)
  18. King Tut’s Curse
    Curse of the Pharaohs
    The curse of the pharaohs refers to the belief that any person who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh is placed under a curse.There are occasional instances of curses appearing inside or on the facade of a tomb as in the case of the mastaba of Khentika Ikhekhi of the 6th dynasty at...

     (volume 10, #4)
  19. Loch Ness Monster
    Loch Ness Monster
    The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next....

     (volume 11, #1)
  20. Sasquatch Part 1 of 2 (volume 11, #2)
  21. Sasquatch Part 2 of 2 (volume 11, #3)
  22. Madman of Magic (volume 11, #4)
  23. Pyramid power
    Pyramid power
    Pyramid power refers to alleged supernatural or paranormal properties of the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape. With this power, model pyramids are said to preserve foods, sharpen or maintain the sharpneses of razor blades, improve health , function "as a...

     ( volume 12, #2)
  24. Alien abduction Part 1 (volume 12, #3)
  25. Alien Abduction Part 2 (volume 12, #4)
  26. Evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

     Part 1 (volume 13, #1)
  27. Evolution Part 2 (volume 13, #2)
  28. Ancient astronauts Part 1 (volume 13, #3)
  29. Ancient astronauts Part 2 (volume 13, #4)
  30. Dragons (volume 14, #1)
  31. Crystal skulls
    Crystal skull
    The crystal skulls are a number of human skull hardstone carvings made of clear or milky quartz rock, known in art history as "rock crystal", claimed to be pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifacts by their alleged finders. However, none of the specimens made available for scientific study have been...

     (volume 14, #2)

Official podcasts


In 2006, an independent, skeptical talk program called Skepticality was relaunched as Skepticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine
Skepticality
Skepticality is the official biweekly podcast of The Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine. It explores rational thought, skeptical ideas, and famous myths from around the world and throughout history...

. New episodes of the show are released on a biweekly basis. The show is produced by the original, continuing show hosts (Robynn McCarthy
Robynn McCarthy
Robynn "Swoopy" McCarthy is an American skeptic and podcaster. She is the producer and co-host, with Derek Colanduno, of the talk show Skepticality, the official biweekly podcast of The Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine...

 and Derek Colanduno
Derek Colanduno
Derek Colanduno is an American skeptic and podcaster. He is the creator and co-host, with Robynn "Swoopy" McCarthy, of the talk show Skepticality, the official biweekly podcast of The Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine....

) in collaboration with staff of Skeptic magazine.

In 2009 a second official podcast was added. MonsterTalk
MonsterTalk
MonsterTalk is an audio podcast presented by the Skeptics Society’s Skeptic magazine. The show critically examines the science behind cryptozoological creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and werewolves. It is hosted by Blake Smith, Benjamin Radford, and Dr Karen Stollznow...

critically examines the science behind cryptozoological
Cryptozoology
Cryptozoology refers to the search for animals whose existence has not been proven...

 and legendary creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next....

 and
werewolves. Monster Talk is hosted by Blake Smith, Ben Radford and Dr. Karen Stollznow
Karen Stollznow
Karen Stollznow is an Australian writer, linguist, podcaster and skeptic. She is a columnist for both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines and is host on two different skeptic podcasts...

. Blake Smith produces the show.

Collections

  • Paranormal Claims: A Critical Analysis, 2007, edited by Bryan Farha, University Press of America
    University Press of America
    University Press of America is an academic book publisher based in the United States. Part of the independent Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, it was founded in 1975 and boasts of having published "more than 10,000 academic, scholarly, and biographical titles in many disciplines"...

    , ISBN 978-0-7618-3772-5. Several of the chapters are reprints of Skeptic articles.

  • The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience
    The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience
    The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience is a collection of articles that discuss the Skeptics Society's scientific findings of investigations into popular pseudoscientific and supernatural claims...

    , a collection of articles that discuss the Skeptics Society's scientific findings of investigations into popular pseudoscientific and supernatural
    Supernatural
    The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

     claims.

See also

  • Critical thinking
    Critical thinking
    Critical thinking is the process or method of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false, or partly true and partly false. The origins of critical thinking can be traced in Western thought to the Socratic...

  • FactCheck
    FactCheck
    FactCheck.org is a non-partisan, nonprofit website that describes itself as a consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University...

  • Freethought
    Freethought
    Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

  • Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

  • Scientific skepticism
    Scientific skepticism
    Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

  • Skeptical Inquirer
    Skeptical Inquirer
    The Skeptical Inquirer is a bimonthly American magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with the subtitle: The magazine for science and reason....

  • Skepticism
    Skepticism
    Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

  • Snopes.com
  • The Freethinker (journal)
    The Freethinker (journal)
    The Freethinker is a British secular humanist magazine, founded by G.W. Foote in 1881. It is the world's oldest surviving freethought publication.It has always taken an unapologetically atheist, anti-religious stance...

  • The Skeptic's Dictionary
  • The Skeptic (UK magazine)
    The Skeptic (UK magazine)
    The Skeptic is a British magazine and is billed as "the UK’s longest running and foremost sceptical magazine, which examines science, scepticism, secularism, critical thinking and claims of the paranormal."-History, format and structure:...

  • The Straight Dope

External links