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From Abracadabra to Zombies - 767 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.

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Date           Status* Entry

31 July
revised self-deception

26 July
update the Trivedi effect

25 July
revised 9/11 conspiracies

21 July
revised dowsing

12 July
new Natural Thinking: (another) case study

09 July
New Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter


Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary


"...it elevates publication bias to an art form." --R. Barker Bausell

A meta-analysis is a type of data analysis in which the results of several studies, none of which need find anything of statistical significance, are lumped together and analyzed as if they were the results of one large study.

For example, the results of ganzfeld experiments have varied wildly, indicating that the results depend greatly on who is doing the experiment. Between 1974 and 1981, some 42 ganzfeld experiments reported or published results. It is unknown how many experiments were done but not reported or published. Charles Honorton claimed that 55% of these reported studies found positive evidence for the existence of something interesting if not paranormal. That is, slightly more than half of the studies produced statistical results that were not likely due to chance. The data could be due to psi, but they could also be due to sensory leakage or some other methodological weakness.>>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)

therapeutic touch

In a nutshell: Therapeutic touch is a kind of energy medicine. Those who do therapeutic touch wave their hands over a patient's body to fix their subtle energy. The science says there is no such subtle energy.

Therapeutic touch is a kind of energy healing. Some people believe that health and sickness are caused by some sort of magical energy being blocked or out of whack in some way. There is no scientific support for this magical energy. It can't be measured by any of our very high tech machines. Yet, many people swear it exists and that they can move it around or transfer some of their energy into another person.>>more

a blast from the past

A Short History of Psi Research


Robert Todd Carroll

"The concrete evidence for most of the 'psychic' phenomena under discussion is good enough to hang a man 20 times over." --William James

"Many brilliant men have investigated the paranormal but they have yet to find a single person who can, without trickery, send or receive even a three-letter word under test conditions." --Milbourne Christopher

Interest in the scientific study of psychical phenomena—as they were called in the 19th century—began with a movement known as spiritism or spiritualism in upstate New York in 1848 with the Fox Sisters: Kate, Margaretta, and Leah. Kate (age 12) and Margaretta (15) claimed to hear strange rapping noises in their bedroom. They convinced a few folks that they were getting messages from spirits. Soon they hit the road, managed by big sister Leah, who was in her mid-30s. They went on tour performing séances, which became the rage in both the U.S. and Europe.>>more

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