Junkfood Science: Skeptical minds want to know....

April 22, 2007

Skeptical minds want to know....

The James Randi Educational Foundation has just announced that the entire text of An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural has been made available online. In it, Mr. Randi debunks some of the most popular and entertaining forms of quackery.

The encyclopedia takes us from Abaris to Zombie. Abaris, for those unfamiliar with him, was a magician from an ancient culture near the Black Sea who was said to have possessed special powers and lived without eating or drinking — much as it seems many think we should all do today. :)

As Mr. Randi writes:

At this writing, quackery is becoming more and more popular worldwide, particularly in the United States, and threatens to supersede much of modern medicine. Political and legal considerations have prevented open discussion or even the questioning of procedures that are clearly without merit. The highly litigious nature of American society has effectively provided the quacks with protection, and the public suffers because it cannot afford to defend itself, and politicians fear censure.

Whenever we hear something that sounds too good — or too scarily bad — to be true, it’s time to put on our critical thinking caps and look at the science. This resource can be a good primer to learn the typical mischievious tricks and claims seen among the wackiest stuff.

And when the doom and gloom of the scare mongers becomes overwhelming and you’re tempted to believe that the end of the world is near, then you’ll want to check out the Forty-Four End-of-the-World Prophecies that, luckily for us, failed.

Happy weekend reading!

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