A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

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From Abracadabra to Zombies - 765 entries | View All

The Skeptic's Dictionary features definitions, arguments, and essays on hundreds of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. It also features dozens of entries on logical fallacies, cognitive biases, perception, science, and philosophy.


Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary

psychic "surgery"

Psychic "surgery" is a type of non-surgery performed by a non-medical healer. The healer fakes an incision by running a finger along the patient's body, apparently going through the skin without using any surgical instruments. The healer pretends to dig his hands into the patient's innards and pretends to pull out 'tumors'. Using trickery, the healer squirts animal blood from a hand-held balloon while discarding items such as chicken livers and hearts. The patient then goes home to die, if he or she was really dying, or to live if there was nothing seriously wrong in the first place.>>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)

psychic animals

In a nutshell: Psychic animals are animals that some scientists think have ESP. Most scientists think animals can do many great things, but ESP isn't one of them.

One of the more curious claims made by those who study ESP is that they've found animals they claim are psychic. Here we'll mention just four: a dog named Jaytee, a parrot named N'kisi, a cat named Oscar, and a horse named Lady Wonder.>>more

a blast from the past

Deadly Delusions

4 August 2009. The headline is simple enough: Man pleads guilty to fatal sword attack, bound for mental hospital. The story of a mentally ill person who kills a stranger and the fear such stories evoke are not so simple. On one level, the killer's delusions don't seem particularly radical, given what billions of people believe about gods, virgin births, miracles, psychic communications, etc. Zachary Schams, 25, claims to be the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian priest named Okhoman the Third. Billions of people think they are the reincarnation of everything from ancient priests to crickets and kumquats. The belief in reincarnation wasn't Schams's only delusion, however. Schams believed his "psychic energy" was being stolen by a neighbor in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, a neighbor he had never met. Anthony Edlbeck, 31, had no idea that his neighbor thought he was stealing psychic energy because of his jealousy of the deranged man's musical talents. Mr. Edlbeck had no idea that his neighbor thought of himself as an ancient Egyptian priest with great musical ability, much less that there is such a thing as psychic energy that can be stolen.>>more


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