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

From Abracadabra to Zombies - 783 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.

Also posted are over 20 years of reader comments.

Click here for Index of all Reader Comments

Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary

young Earth creationists

Young Earth creationists (YEers) believe that Earth and everything living and non-living on the planet was created a few thousand years ago by the god featured in the mythology of the ancient Jews (Abraham's god or AG). The stories told in Genesis 1 and 2 (among other biblical stories) are taken by YEers to be the inerrant word of AG, which they understand to say that he created the planet and all species in unique acts less than 10,000 years ago. All current geological formations were brought about by a great flood that Noah and those on his ark survived. This view requires the YEers to deny many important scientific discoveries in geology, archaeology, physics, and biology. Furthermore, many YEers feel an obligation to oppose science itself as an evil. This is most apparent in the work of anti-evolution creationists who blame all the world's ills on the acceptance of evolution and who actively work toward the elimination of secular society.>>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)

gods

In a nutshell: Gods are beings with unnatural powers who never die. Some are believed to be the controllers or creators of various parts of nature. Many are thought to require worship and obedience from humans. These gods reward or punish us depending on whether we please them. 

Stories of gods have been told in most societies that we know of going back at least 10,000 years. Gods are portrayed as beings who never die, with mighty powers, able to make nature do what they want. Most gods are pictured as being born and having parents. Some stories show gods as being able to change the weather and cause mighty storms, floods, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions. For the most part, scientists have replaced stories about gods with scientific explanations of how the universe was formed and how humans and other living creatures evolved.>>more

a blast from the past

What Darwin Means to Me
by Robert Todd Carroll

I wish I could say that my parents named me after Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) because they wanted to connect their firstborn, even if only through his middle name, to one of the greatest scientific minds who ever lived. Alas, my parents had many good qualities but love of science was not one of them. I think that of all things on earth my father loved baseball more than anything else and my mother loved serving God, which for her meant serving her church and trying to live a Jesus-like existence. How much more fortunate could I get? My dad took me to my first major league baseball game on May 26, 1953. I can still see the ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field [though this memory may be false] and I have the souvenir program (cost 10¢) that tells me that we played the Cardinals and that Red Schoendienst hit a home run in the first inning and Stan Musial got a double in the fourth. Hank Sauer hit a homer in the seventh for us, but it wasn't enough. We lost 6-3. Later that season, the Cubs would bring up Ernie Banks to play shortstop and hit home runs. Banks was myfirst and last baseball hero. To Ernie Banks, every day was a nice day for a double-header. To a young kid from Illinois on his way to California the legend of Ernie Banks was something I could take with me wherever I went for the rest of my life.>>more

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