Junkfood Science: International edition of Skeptic’s Circle

December 06, 2007

International edition of Skeptic’s Circle

The 75th Anniversary edition of Skeptics’ Circle has just been released from Copenhagen, Denmark, with host Kristjan Wager. This issue brings an interesting diversity of articles from skeptics around the world.

There’s a report from the Swedish Skeptics Society and a fascinating depiction of Marabouts from Western Africa. Skeptic writers have been busy investigating internet chain-letter scams, FBI criminal profiling, and the news story claiming Santa Claus cannot say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

Blake Stacey at Science After Sunclipse wrote an interesting, albeit technical, article on the phenomenon called binocular rivalry. This is when we see conflicting information in each of our eyes and the brain has to cope with contradiction. He goes on to an enlightening discussion of quantum mechanics.

And Michael Meadon at Ionian Enchantment wrote a thought-provoking article on hypnopompic hallucinations and how researching the neuroscience and his own experiences with it led him to stop belittling true believers. As he wrote:

Hypnogogia and hypnopompia are hallucinations that occur as you’re falling asleep or waking up, respectively, and are accompanied by sleep paralysis. In other words, they’re hallucinations that occur between sleep and wakefulness (or vice versa) and, while you’re hallucinating, you can’t move because you’re paralyzed....For me, having this experience has really driven home the argument, made most forcefully by Carl Sagan and Joe Nickell, that it's a false dichotomy to think people who have paranormal experiences are either lying or crazy. There's a third alternative: they're having genuine experiences but then interpret the experiences incorrectly. That is, people really do experience what looks for all the world like an alien standing over their bed — but it's not really an alien, it's a phantom in the brain. And that's why I've learnt to love skepticism (even more)...

Yes, Kristjan, this edition was “All in all, a great haul.” Thank you for hosting.

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