Un-phenomenal Phenomena (Book Review)

Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis by Annie Jacobsen Phenomena is about the decades-long dance of the US military with the idea of anomalous mental phenomena and the psychics who say they have these skills. Much is made of the author, Jacobsen, being a Pulitzer prize nominee.…

Scottish poltergeist story is highly questionable, even if the police say they saw something

A story about a family in Rutherglen, Scotland, who called in police to report paranormal phenomena, rode the media wave yesterday into today. The original source was the local Rutherglen Reformer paper that appears digitally on the Daily Record (UK) website. Here is the main story: Rutherglen family call in police after witnessing paranormal activity A desperate Rutherglen…

Add science then stir

A ubiquitous, overly-simplistic idea about science should be put to death. It is that of the public as an empty vessel that awaits filling with scientific facts. Then education will be achieved (level up!) and we can all make smart and informed decisions. That’s utter tosh (as the British say). Nonsense. As much as we…

Psychical Research President states scientific disbelief in psi is “pathological”

What a very strange “President’s Letter” is in Issue 77 of the Paranormal Review published by the Society of Psychical Research (Winter 2016). I read and re-read it trying to make heads or tales out of Dr. Poynton’s meaning and assertions. He seems to despise the application of reason and questioning, wishing the stodgy “pathological” scientists and…

John Oliver f**king skewers media science

John Oliver skewered pop media “science” coverage on his recent show. It wasn’t all that funny but it was true. And depressing. What has our society become? So smart, we get stupid. As an observer of the relationship between science and the public, he’s totally right for pointing out disturbing trends of morning news shows…

Paranormal investigators and Velikovsky sound similarly sciencey

In January 2013, I wrote about Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, and pseudoscience, referencing Michael Gordin’s excellent book The Pseudoscience Wars (2012). Well, I’m writing about it again, to be included in a book about amateur investigation groups “sounding sciencey” and fooling the public. I went back to some of my old sources and found a good one. It’s…

I used to be a skeptic, but then…

Arm yourself against narrative devices that draw you to the dark side Here is something to keep in mind when listening to EVERY PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR EVER (it seems) who is telling you his favorite “It happened to me” story. They will insert the phrase “I used to be a skeptic” in order to elevate the…

Defending the faith of cryptozoology

My latest post, regarding the rational vs non-rational response to the new cryptozoology book by Loxton and Prothero, Abominable Science, went live on Huffington Post yesterday. Cryptozoology Gets Respect While Bigfooters Behave Badly. When critical thinkers approach the subject of Bigfoot (or cryptozoology in general) with a focus on the evidence, they are met with…