Critical thinking

15 Credibility Street #5: UFOs over Turkey and I ain’t too surprised

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We’re back with another news chat episode. The news is weird, as usual. Strange days indeed… Mothman reappears close to the 50th anniversary. Howard suspects pecuniary interests might be involved in the promotion of these local legends. The same can be suggested for the many YouTubers and websites that promote “weird news” like anomalies, natural…

15 Credibility Street #4: A virtual flood of news – bad, good, real, fake and otherwise

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In this episode, after a disheartening election result, we spend time catching up on other questionable claims reviewing all the news stories posted since last time. Alaska river monster Canadian ping Quack loses license in Florida American eagles down the drain Earthquake lights over New Zealand Nostradamus and others “predicting” election results Fake News never…

Continue, we must: US needs critical thinking advocates to step up and be heard

The gates have opened.

The DN/15 Credibility Street crew took a break yesterday because writing and talking about most things besides the election results seemed frivolous. We postponed our scheduled recording of the podcast because we weren’t in the right frame of mind, but by the end of the day, I saw many of the dejected pick themselves up,…

It’s the season for the word “skeptic” to be overly used and abused

Oh, dear. Every Halloween-themed story out this week about ghosts and monsters and the people who seek them will invariably have the term “skeptic” in it. This person is the group’s “skeptic” or this person “was a skeptic until…” Most egregious are those who are completely gullible and pooh-pooh the skeptical process as being “closed-minded”…

Creator of gadgets for Ghost Adventures show says he does not believe in ghosts

Ovilus 5 ITC device that "translates environmental energy into words".

Ghost hunters have been played by promoters of pricey ghost tech gadgets. Out in Popular Mechanics is a detailed article on the dubious history of ghost hunting gadgets. Three skeptics and a seasoned paranormal scholar chime in on the pseudoscientific basis behind these instruments but, in a revealing twist, two well-known “gadgeteers” of Ghost Adventures refused to talk. And…

Robert Todd Carroll of The Skeptic’s Dictionary has died

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Skeptical Inquirer Facebook page announced just yesterday that uber-Skeptic Bob Carroll passed away on August 25 of pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. He was 71. A former professor teaching Philosophy and Critical Thinking at Sacramento City College for over 30 years Bob shared his knowledge in the form of the HUGE compendium of skepticism, The Skeptic’s Dictionary. From…

Facts may no longer matter in this election but fact-checking and skeptical activism works

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It’s the day after the big debate and media outlets like Politifact, Factcheck.org, AP, and NPR have their fact-checking (FC) machines churning at full speed since 9PM last evening. As a Skeptic who values solid evidence and empirical facts, I deeply appreciate FC but I strongly suspect that facts and examinations of truthfulness and accuracy…

Big snake loose in Maine or is Wessie a hoax?

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Cross posted from DOUBTFUL. Back in June, locals of Westbrook, Maine said they saw a large snake slithering around. After no sign of the beast a week later, a Westbrook police officer witnessed it eating something near Riverbank Park on the Presumpscot River. A second officer called in also saw it. From their Facebook page: On…

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

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Cross posted from Doubtful by Sharon Hill 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…

Preaching to the Choir: Social media sharing in “echo chambers” reinforces belief

We may eschew sensationalism and ads but are not above emotional tugs and trendy memes. :-)

Doubtful News would be useless if people weren’t interested in finding out what might or might not be true and correct. This site appeals to people who are willing to listen to a narrative framed in that way. But, SURPRISE (not), most people consult the internet guided by beliefs they hold dear – whether those tend towards…

Swords and sophistry: Questionable archaeology to the hilt (UPDATE: Not a Roman sword)

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Welcome to 2016! I predict that this year we will continue to see the popularity of pseudo archaeology – a cracked spinoff of a science-based field that studies human long-past history. Yes, more out-of-place artifacts, ancient alien astronauts, Atlantis, etc. Today, we bring you the continuing saga of SwordGate and a heretic historian who is attempting to prove…

Are people really this dumb to be scared of solar panels? (Update)

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So, the top story shared on my social media today is a point-and-LOL chortle-fest at a North Carolina town who has rejected a solar panel farm project. There are DOZENS of stories that make fun of the people who provided public comment against the rezoning decision in Woodland, NC because of their apparent ignorance of…

YouTube-Google lends a welcome hand to UFO debunkers

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It’s happened to lots of websites: criticism (or just a mention) of a product or a person results in an overreaction with an inappropriate claim of copyright infringement. How can you soundly explain the reasoning for why you think a certain photo is a bear, not a Bigfoot or that a UFO video is a hoax unless…

Change starts with Sheriff Hanlin

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin listens to a reporters question during a news conference Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore., concerning the deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College.  Armed with multiple guns, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, walked in a classroom at the community college the day before and opened fire, killing several and wounding several others. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The shooting at Umpqua Community College was Oregon’s deadliest shooting in history. Nine people were killed. Many more injured. The gunman’s death was declared a suicide. As with every mass shooting in the U.S., which come at an astonishingly alarming rate (Shooting in Oregon: So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass…

Recovery water healing claim sounds like snake oil

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NFL player makes claim regarding the healing properties of fancy, “sciencey” nano-bubble water. Russell Wilson Says Recovery Water Healed His Head Injury from NFC Title Game  At one point in the story, Rodrick mentions a moment where Wilson claimed Reliant Recovery Water—a sports recovery drink in which he is a personal investor—helped him recover from…

September asteroid impact lie results in NASA statement

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Many media sites as well as mystery mongering rubbish sites are hyping the prediction that an asteroid will hit earth in September prompting NASA to issue a statement. What good will that do? None. Crap news reigns on the internet. NASA has denied viral internet claims that an asteroid will strike Earth next month wreaking…

Dear John Oliver: Preach it, brother

Praise Legal and Loopholes.

John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight takes it to greedy televangelists and those preaching the “prosperity Gospel” and “seeding”. Give money (seed) to get money. And people give… But it gets worse, some preachers push faith healing and collect money for their claims that God will heal. And people give… Oliver exposes the bizarre legality…

Sorry Charlie: Nobody DIED from the demon-summoning challenge

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Fake news sites are a menace. They hide their disclaimers well, but even if they had disclaimers right up front, you could bet many readers would not notice them and still believe the crazy stories and pass them on as real. Especially if the stories appear shocking and fit with the person’s personal beliefs. The…

Shoddy evidence for “haunted” Liverpool property

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A HAUNTED house has gone up for rent with the incredible disclaimer that its former occupants experienced “paranormal activity”. Haunted house: Rightmove list property where ‘paranormal activity’ happened The terraced three-bedroom home in Toxteth, Liverpool, is allegedly haunted by a 135-year-old spectre called the Pickwick Poltergeist. The poltergeist supposedly once lifted a former tenant out…