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

10 Feb
new Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

07 Feb
new reader comments: urine therapy

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

anomalistic psychology

"...the self is hardly a neutral observer of the world."--Daniel SchacterThe Seven Sins of Memory

Anomalistic psychology (AP) is the study of extraordinary experiences, including those that are labeled paranormal or supernatural. AP studies such things as experiences of apparent telepathy or clairvoyance, experiences of UFOs,  experiences of ghosts or angels, and experiences of healing touch. AP does not assume that a bizarre experience is paranormal or supernatural. AP attempts to explain extraordinary experiences in terms of known psychological and physical factors, including frauds and hoaxes.*>>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

Natural Morality

Humans have a natural propensity toward morality. Evidence from evolutionary biology conclusively demonstrates that humans and many social animals we share a common ancestor with instinctively promote some behaviors and discourage others. That many of these behaviors seem altruistic can't be denied. Emotions such as shame, anger, jealousy, and resentment are shared by many animals and indicate natural responses to the behaviors of other animals. Humans seem to be unique only in the attribution of intentionality to others of our kind. Whether chimps or dogs or any other animal perceives other animals as having minds, I can't say, but it doesn't appear that they do. In any case, it is clear that humans instinctively think of other humans as having minds and acting intentionally. Praising and blaming others comes naturally to us. We don't see our fellow creatures as automatons, but as persons with free will.>>more

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