Visiting the Fringe

“Hello, Ms. Hill,” said the man at the registration desk before I had a chance to give my name. “We’re glad to have you here.” So much for flying under the radar. I’m the skeptical one at the Fringe New Jersey one-day conference. I’m used to this, though, having gone to several paranormal-themed events. Why…

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…

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…

True Monsters show basically true to useless formula with one small exception

True Monsters debuted on History Channel on Friday night. The show was promoted to be a somewhat different take on “monsters” (cryptids, legends and myths). “True Monsters sorts the fiction from the often-muddled facts about the most terrifying monsters, awe-inspiring myths, and timeless legends in history. From monstrous creatures to wrathful gods, this series tells…

You say closed, I say open with reason

I get emails. People tell me I should be more “open-minded”. There is that clichéd saying regarding open-mindedness: “Keep an open mind — but not so open that your brain falls out”. This piece of advice is most often said to come from physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988), but also a slew of other more or less…

Book reviews: Fall 2014

Since my last book review, I’ve downed a couple more. I can’t manage to review everything but here is a rundown: Ghosts, E. Russell (1970) This book was recommended to me by a long-time ghost researcher. I enjoyed it, mostly. It was confusing in parts, uneven. But some excellent points. Harder to get but worth…

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…

Paranormal politicking

My interests are in paranormal topics, coalition building, policy, and problem solving. Having visited the paranormal side on several occasions, I’m one of those skeptics that is not hated or despised by those that disagree with the “skeptical” scene. Distilled rom those interests, one of my goals is to find a way to interact effectively…

Your friendly neighborhood mon$ter

In a recent post on Skeptoid blog, I suggest that paranormal-based tourism, such as ghost tours and monster festivals, which are growing in popularity, border on fraud. “Even if there are long-standing legends of strange events occurring at some location, to suggest that a place is haunted just to freak people out is contemptible.” “Ghost…

Scientific or Scientifical?

About half of all amateur research and investigation groups (ARIGs – those self-forming groups that do ghost hunting, Bigfoot searches, cataloging of UFO sightings, and other paranormalia) on the Internet say they use scientific methods and equipment and/or their field is based in science. [1] As one who actually did scientific work in a lab…

Pop descent into low quality

As a follow up to my last post on why cryptozoology may or may not be called a pseudoscience (depending on your criteria), I was reminding of the idea of “deviant” science as discussed by Dolby. When a “deviant” science, or what might be labeled pejoratively as “pseudoscience” by mainstream scientists or commentators, appeals to…

Brain dump and more stuff

Busy busy busy… My task list on Google got so long I had to break it up into 4 different lists. All of us after-hours skeptics are constantly coming up with new project ideas and getting jazzed about new topics and avenues to explore. Some days I have so many ideas, I think my head…