Look, Up There – What Are UFOs?

February 2005 by Steven Novella, MD I once saw a UFO. That is, I saw an object in the sky I couldn’t identify. Chances are you have too, probably more than once. What I saw were lights in a large “V” shape, moving silently, too slow to be a plane, moving out of view after [...]

Reflections on Skeptical Parenting

July 1998 by Merriol Almond If it’s important to us to be skeptics, it’s probably also important to those of us who are parents to rear skeptical kids. Looking back, I was brought up by my parents to be skeptical, and my husband and I tried to bring up our children along similar lines. It [...]

Blind Spots

July 1999 Jon Blumenfeld A married couple spend much of their free time investigating various Conspiracy theories, with a particular concentration on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Having reached the conclusion that there was some kind of conspiracy and a massive government cover-up, they brook no disagreement, accusing their opponents of being either complicit [...]

Photographic Fakery

January 1998 by Robert Novella Tales of ghosts and spirits can be quite compelling and convincing but many people view photographs of these ghostly phenomena as better evidence or even proof of their existence. They have been proffered as evidence ever since the development of modern photography in 1839. Images generally range from bright spots [...]

Stock Market Pseudoscience

July 1997 by Jon Blumenfeld Do big fund managers and Wall Street experts use pseudoscience to make trading decisions? If you have any mutual funds, insurance policies, or any other managed investment, chances are that the managers use a pseudoscientific principle known as technical analysis to decide when to buy and sell your investments. Technical [...]

A Brief Analysis of Mysticism

January 2001 by Hamed Vahidi Eastern Mysticism is an interesting concept. For many, it is synonymous with the supremacy of wisdom over knowledge, elevation to higher states of consciousness, feelings of oneness with the universe, and the realization of the ultimate nature of reality. Scientifically speaking, the concept of mysticism has no definite theoretical framework, [...]

Quantum Confusion

July 1997 by Robert Novella Quantum Mechanics is undoubtedly one of the most significant scientific achievements of the twentieth century. Its descriptions of the behavior of atoms and light have been substantiated in countless experiments for the past seventy years. It has elucidated diverse phenomena from the shining of stars to the order of the [...]

The Razor in the Toolbox

April 2001 by Robert Novella The history, use, and abuse of Occam’s Razor. There is something very weird in the sky. It’s moving bizarrely at right angles and emits no sound at all. I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s got to be an extraterrestrial spaceship, right? I wake up in the middle of the [...]

Creationists, Mechanical Engineers, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

April 2001 by Steven Novella, MD Creationists are my favorite pseudoscientists. They toil endlessly to explore new ways to distort logic and misrepresent both the process and the findings of science. In so doing they provide a textbook example of why starting with a desired conclusion, then working backwards to fit evidence and logic into [...]

Sightings: UFOs and Visual Perception

July 1998 by Mark B. Fineman, PhD PENDELTON, Ore. June 25 [1947] (AP) – Nine bright saucer-like objects flying at “incredible speed” at 10,000 feet altitude were reported here today by Kenneth Arnold, Boise, Idaho, [a] pilot who said he could not hazard a guess as to what they were (cited by Peebles, 1994). In [...]