Phrenology: History of a Pseudoscience

March 2000 by Steven Novella, MD When first introduced in 1796, phrenology was the latest advancement in the field of neurology. It was widely accepted, even welcomed, by many practicing neurologists as a powerful diagnostic tool. Phrenologists were even on the winning side of an important scientific debate concerning a central concept of brain anatomy [...]

Baby Remember My Name

January 2001 by Sheila Gibson Paul Dickson’s book, What’s in a Name? Reflections of an Irrepressible Name Collector (Merriam-Webster, $14.95),  is a series of comprehensive compilations of baseball players’ nicknames, car model monikers and popular babies’ names of the last 100 years, anagrams, punny handles for actual stores and businesses, and selections from the largest [...]

A History of Skeptical Philosophy

April 1998 by Jon Blumenfeld Part I Can science survive the current cultural, academic, and philosophical trend towards a postmodernistic world in which truth has no objective meaning? For those who follow a philosophy of reason and critical thinking, no idea is more important than the Scientific Method. It is the tool we use to [...]

Enter the Snake Oil Zone

January 1997 by Steven Novella, MD Every half decade or so another fad diet makes an appearance. Such diets rise in popularity, win converts, make a great deal of money for their authors, and then eventually fade to obscurity. Added to this is the endless stream of supermarket tabloid claims for new breakthroughs which promise [...]

About Face for Mars

March 1998 By Robert Novella Early this April, Mars turned the other cheek and its face disappeared. More detailed and differently illuminated pictures of “The Face on Mars” now show no face at all. What appears instead is what skeptics have suspected all along, an eroded butte or mesa. It’s even been compared to a [...]

UFO Conference in North Haven, CT

October 1996 by Steven Novella, MD & Perry DeAngelis On the weekend of October 12th, the CSS board had the opportunity to attend the National UFO Congress, presented by Omega Communications, at the North Haven Holiday Inn. What we found has confirmed our suspicion that the realms of the paranormal are as intermingled as is [...]

Unidentified Flying Objections

October 1997 By Perry DeAngelis Our modern era of technological wonder and scientific achievement is once again usurped by extraordinary claims of a more advanced race of interstellar visitors. Our puny science and terrestrial achievement is dwarfed by these alien travelers, or so the credulous legions tell us – endlessly. I am speaking of the [...]

UFOs: The Psychocultural Hypothesis

October 2000 by Steven Novella, MD Millions of Americans believe that we are being visited by a spacefaring alien race. These aliens allegedly fly in saucer-shaped ships, they routinely abduct humans for some experimental purpose we can only guess, some believe they are responsible for such phenomena as cattle mutilations and crop circles, our government [...]

Homeopathy

July 1996 by Steven Novella, MD Alternative medicines come in many forms and philosophies, their only shared characteristic is that they are not adequately science-based. Some are thinly veiled religious beliefs, others new-age fantasies, and still others untested or disproved remedies. The growing practice of homeopathy, rather, is an excellent example of pure pseudoscience. Homeopathy [...]

Ghostbusting in Hamden

July 1996 by Robert Novella Tales of ghosts and apparitions have fascinated people for uncounted generations. They have a universal appeal that cuts across all social and cultural boundaries. A trip to any library or video store reveals a plethora of books and movies to choose from on the topic. The newly proliferating paranormal tv [...]