233 Articles

Volume 24 Issue 3: Prof. Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Prof. Francesca Stavrakopoulou TV's Biblical Scholar talks Bibles and beliefs Who won the 'Ockhams'? Award Night at QED 2013 The Sleep Paralysis Project The quintessential uncanny experience, rendered into art Uncertainty A GP explores certainty and statistics in medicine Crispian Jago's Conspiracy Theory Flowchart Behaving Like Animals? Frans de Waal on the origins of human ethics Reflections of the Divine The human mind and the seeds of spirituality Plus all the regular features, reviews and columns from Chris French, Wendy Grossman, Michael Heap, Mark Duwe and Mark Williams.

Volume 24 Issue 4: Prof. Elizabeth Loftus

Features Prof. Elizabeth Loftus Malleable memories and misinformation's ground-breaking psychologist The 'Mystical-Type' Experience What about when it happens to an atheist? Infant Circumcision Revisited: now, the case 'for' Crispian Jago's Venn diagram of irrational nonsense Saint-Making Nelson Jones finds the raw materials UFOs Cognitive Dissonance and Belief Plus all the regular features, reviews and columns from Chris French, Wendy Grossman, Michael Heap, Mark Duwe and Mark Williams.

Okhams 2012: winners quotes.

Following the second Ockhams awards presentations at QED 2013, the winners of each category provided the feedback below.

Volume 24 Issue 2: Patrick Moore

Flying Saucers From Moore’s? Was our most famous TV astronomer also a practical joker? On the cover, Steuart Campbell and Christopher Allan mark the recent passing of Patrick Moore. Is your myth up for renewal this month? Use the handy chart to sign up for your new one with Crispian Jago's latest centrefold. Beautiful Science Danny Rees looks at the doomed historical attempts to quantify human allure. The App-aritions are Coming Hayley Stevens goes ghost-hunting with a smartphone. The First Cut Marianne Baker examines our attitudes to circumcision and wonders if we have a blind spot with male genital mutilation. Sett Theory Philip Stott tells us how culling badgers is nearly impossible. Does stress make you fat? Alexandra Johnstone and John Menzies pick out the science from the tabloid headlines. The Psychology of Ghosts and Hauntings In the latest in our Science of the Supernatural series Prof Chris French looks at Factors that might lead people to believe they had seen a ghost.

The Uncontested Word: Why do Some Historians Treat Religious Texts as Sacred?

Richard Firth-Godbehere contemplates the historical provenance and value of religious texts.
Published for The Skeptic online on 17th April 2013.

Photograph: Kevin Peters

There are a great many historians who practice religions of all flavours. Some historians jump headlong into the history of their particular faith, blending it with apologetics and philosophy. Others simply ignore their religious predilections and concentrate on other areas of history, sealing their faith in a mental box with a sign huge on the lid reading ‘do not enter while studying’. I am sure this arrangement or something similar to it is found throughout all walks of academic life, but I find it particularly puzzling when I find it amongst historians. I know of many good historians who take their collection of fables as absolutely true; it is one of the most fascinating and puzzling examples of cognitive dissonance I know of.

After all, a historian is, by definition, someone who is deeply sceptical about old texts and artefacts. It is a historian’s job to dust off manuscripts, wade through archives, dig things out of dark corners and not believe a word of it (unless there is some good supporting evidence, of course). Even when a historian does believe a word of it, he tempers this with a deep analysis of the text or object at hand, stripping it down in order to work out what the narrative really is, as opposed to what the text or object claims it is. In short, we historians are deeply sceptical pedants: each and every one of us. So why does pedantry, suspicion and obsessive checking, cross-checking, double checking and rechecking disappear so often in the face of a religious text? Here, I’ll take a lightly meandering journey through the peripheries of the philosophy of history in order to find out if there is any validity in accepting a religious text as good source of history.

Shortlist for The Ockhams 2013

Welcome to the Shortlist for The Ockhams 2013. This list was created from your votes, so thanks so much for being a part of...

Volume 24 Issue 1: Jane Goldman

Jane Goldman: the skeptic and writer shares her love of skepticism and the supernatural with editor Deborah Hyde. Nelson Jones: looks at the big-game sightings on the savannahs of England in 'Catflap'. Phillip Stott and Toby Murcott delve into scientific philosophy, to discover the sceptical thinking that isn’t in 'Scepticism and Science'. Kathryn Harkup kicks off a new 'science of the supernatural series' with 'Zombies are People Too'. Dean Burnett ponders the fashionable misuse of neuroscience in 'Neuropseudoscience'. Gijsbert Stoet and David Geary review the stereotype threat theory in 'Why Are There Fewer Women Working in Science & Technology?' We have a brilliant four page pull-out poster, Crispian Jago's 'Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense' Plus all the regular features, reviews and columns from Chris French, Wendy Grossman, Michael Heap, Mark Duwe and Mark Williams.

Paul Kurtz, Father of Secular Humanism, dies aged 86

The following article is a press release from Prometheus Books, of which Kurtz was founder. Are more personal article was published by Kurtz' former colleague ,...

Latest news

Conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and alt-med quackery put our pets in harm’s way

Vet Danny Chambers highlights how the aggressive promotion of alternative therapies to prevent and treat animal diseases has become widespread.

‘Mask Mouth’: A real dental phenomenon, or merely a confection?

Dentist Shaun Sellars looks at recent reports of facemasks causing a new dental phenomenon known as 'mask mouth'.

The Ockham Awards 2020: recognising the best in skepticism, and the worst in pseudoscience

Nominations for the 2020 Ockham Awards are now open, with our annual award for Skeptical Activism and our Rusty Razor award for pseudoscience.

Don’t believe what you think!

What follows is a slightly modified and abbreviated version of the introduction to Professor Edzard Ernst's recently published book, Don't Believe What...

Ethics for Skeptics: why compassion and reason go hand in hand

Philosophy lecturer Aaron Rabinowitz outlines the ethical core of skepticism, and explains why a compassionate understanding of morality must underpin the skeptical worldview.
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