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

  • Recent Entries or Modifications

for last month's changes see current Newsletter

Date           Status* Entry

21 Jan
update Supplements: neither safe nor effective; update: Top Ten Worst Beliefs of 2015

19 Jan
new SD Newsletter; update natural cancer cures: the Cancer Control Society scam

Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary

soothsayer's delusion

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. - John Kenneth Galbraith

A soothsayer is one who practices divination (fortune telling), i.e., one who claims to be able to foresee events through special means (supernatural or paranormal) rather than through the ordinary powers of inductive reasoning. The sacred books of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam condemn fortune tellers as false prophets and evil. These religions make it clear: only their god knows the future and only their god can reveal the future to prophets. Anyone who practices soothsaying or consults soothsayers is evil and deluded. The scriptures of these religions are right in seeing soothsaying as a delusion. The soothsayer can no more divine the future than you or I. But these scriptures were right for the wrong reason. The soothsayer cannot divine the future because the future cannot be divined (except, of course, by using ordinary powers of inductive or deductive reasoning). There is nothing special about predicting that a glass will break when you hit it with a hammer or that a mighty king will be victorious when two mighty kings send their armies to the battlefield to wage war until the enemy surrenders.>>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)

remote viewing

In a nutshell: Remote viewing is a kind of ESP where a person in one place "sees" what another person in another place is looking at. Remote viewing is another name for clairvoyance or telepathy.

Remote viewing (also called clairvoyance or telepathy) is seeing things at a distance using the mind alone. A remote viewer may claim to read the mind of a person in a distant place to see what that person is looking at (telepathy). A remote viewer may claim to somehow directly see the place where another person is located (clairvoyance). Or, a remote viewer may claim to see a distant place even if nobody else is looking at it (clairvoyance).>>more

a blast from the past

Diets, Supplements, and Health: It's Complicated

19 November 2010. A recently published meta-analysis of RCTs involving vitamin E and strokes advises caution in the use of vitamin E supplements. The researchers considered two kinds of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. In an ischemic stroke, blood supply to part of the brain is decreased, leading to dysfunction of the brain tissue in that area. In a hemorrhagic stroke, blood accumulates due to hemorrhaging. The meta-analysis revealed that vitamin E increased the risk for hemorrhagic stroke by 22% and reduced the risk of ischemic stroke by 10%. "This differential risk pattern is obscured when looking at total stroke." (The study reviewed nine trials that had a total of 118,765 participants.)>>more

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