The Internet and World Wide Web are relatively young,
operate with glacial slowness over phone lines, and
mainly allow access, not to information, but to a
terrifying flood of non-sane drivel. However, with
patience, you can sift out useful material.
USEFUL URLs AND
A good search engine, such as Google, will turn up
sites on almost any topic. However, you will find that
99.999% of the pages you turn up are crackpot material,
rather than factual reference material, so use caution.
Quick Surveys of
See the on-line version of the skeptic's
The New England Skeptical Society's on-line
Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience.
pages on many pseudosciences from Bill Latura.
Famous article by Willy Ley on
pseudoscience in Nazi Germany.
Magazine on how to spot pseudoscience.
An inconveniently huge list of links from
psychologist J. C. Smith, covering all aspects of
pseudoscience, is here. Note
the many videos.
An interesting collection of links.
and video resources on identification of
A history of pseudoscience:
Another survey of pseudoscience indicators is
Another survey of pseudoscience and symptoms:
Transcripts of a weekly podcast devoted to
confronting pseudoscience with facts are here. Yet another is
And yet another,
from Australia. And still another is
For Skeptical Inquirer articles on-line, see SI
Latest (June 2005)
Gallup Poll results on belief in pseudoscience
and the paranormal.
A collection of survey results on a huge variety of
topics, including pseudoscience and medical quackery,
Many of the results on "current events" are of course
woefully outdated. I have extracted out the poll
results relevant to our course
here. Does science education innoculate students
against belief in at least the more preposterous
pseudosciences? The evidence of many studies,
including the one here,
is: NO! More recent surveys summarized here.
Wiseman is a British professor of psychology and
magican, who has done much research into the
psychology of deception, public misconceptions of luck
and probabilities, and pseudoscience. Prof. Wiseman's
Jim Loy's page offering a variety of short
discussions of a variety of pseudosciences--- Loy
Links to a collection of on-line articles on
pseudoscience and academic antiscience-----
Discussions by Prof. Steve Dutch-- Dutch
Andrew Skolnick's website on pseudsocience
of links to pages debunking various pseudosciences.
A brief article on 1800s and 1900s
Richard Feynman's famous commencement address,
General discussion of pseudoscience by Prof. Stephen
A non-scientist's thoughts about pseudoscience and
bad science-- Pseudoscience
Institute of Biological Research Pseudoscience pages:
An on-line magazine with many good articles about
pseudoscience, complete with video clips:
How to spot a pseudoscience.
A series of articles on pseudoscience by senior
See a pseudoscience fact sheet on line at
See also pseudoscience in psychology--
A British newspaper weekly
column on “bad science” and pseudoscience, as
promoted by the British news media. Most of the
comments also apply to US news media.
The innocent and inexperienced frequently ask, “What
harm does pseudoscience do to anyone? Surely it is
harmless entertainment.” Here's a
whole website to answer this question!
Beware of all Wikipedia
entries on topics in pseudoscience, and most Wikipedia
entries on various scientific topics. Also, what might
have been an accurate entry on some or any topic 5
minutes ago could by the time you see it have been
completely vandalized by a mentally-retarded
11-year-old. However, you might try
SkepticWiki, a supposedly fact-based
An amusing parody
that demonstrates just about everything that is wrong
with Wikipedia entries on pseudoscience topics.
A Blog devoted to collecting information debunking
pseudoscience and quackery is here.
Dope is a long-running weekly column that often
deals with pseudoscience, fraud and misinformation.
An MD and Stanford professor who performs
Mentalism; Coker is not alone!
in Oklahoma... epidemic!
A good discussion of hoax photos of
all kinds, UFOs, ghosts, monsters, religious figures,
Pseudoscience? There's a huge amount of it!
A radio broadcast
"Paranormal Investigator" Andrew
on the cultural and political forces that encourage
and support pseudoscience.
Famous magicians Penn and Teller have a cable TV
series debunking pseudoscience and weird beliefs of
all kinds. Here's the
official website for the series. Beware that the
lads at times appear to be uninformed, on some topics,
A view of pseudoscience from New
And why is it that the news media no
longer report news? Some speculations.
I have no idea what this
is; seems to be a one-man (or -woman) operation
centered around Austin Community College.
The very wide variety of distorted sensory perceptions
that accompany migraine
headaches is fortunately unknown to me, as I have
never had a headache, migraine or otherwise. But just
reading over the list of reported symptoms, it occurs to
me that most of the strange or paranormal perceptions
various people claim to feel, from auras to ghosts, from
out-of-body experiences to near-death experiences, share
most if not all of the features of perceptions that
routinely accompany migraine headaches!
Hunters is apparently a Discovery Channel
TV series aimed at kids, which seeks to encourage
logical and rational thinking about weird claims...
how successfully I don't know.
Mythbusters is a similar series aimed at
"adults," if that's the word we want.
Seen it rain
P. Blavatsky and Theosophy:
Surveys of Pseudoscience:
Articles (usually in PDF format) on a variety of
James Randi: http://www.randi.org/
Home page of James Randi and his "James Randi
Educational Foundation," which battles
"misinformation, pseudoscience and fraud." [In
early February 2006, Randi suffered a heart
attack; in mid-April he returned to work at
and the full text of Blavatsky's magnum opus,
The Secret Doctrine. Blavatsky's first
and completely incomprehensible Theosophical work, Isis
SkepDic on Blavatsky
sympathetic appreciation of Blavatsky.
collection of articles presenting a factual
perspective on Theosophy's creators, claims, and
and the New Age.
successors and competitors.
A. Bailey claimed to be a follower and successor
of Blavatsky, but actually seems to have been a
Age, conceptually associated with Bailey far
more closely than with Blavatsky. More
on the New Age.
One of Blavatsky's more infamous
Atlantis and Cult Archaeology:
Atlantis, and a typical internet entry, a mixture
of fact, speculation and total crap.
A web course on
Pseudoarchaeology. The Bad
Irrational Archaeology, an article by
on Mars as a “teachable moment.”
"lost continents," see animations of
continental drift over more than half a billion years,
here. For detailed maps of the continents in
each geological era, click here.
Pyramids and Tombs of
Pyramids 3 |
Pyramids 4 | Pyramids
5 | Pyramids
6 | Theban
Mapping Project |
Mummies! | The completely imaginary
Curse of the Pharaohs! | Pyramidiocy
Pyramidiocy 2. |
Pyramidiocy 3 |
Pyramidiots 4. | A good
summary and analysis of Pyramidiocy. | Urban
legends about Pyramids and Egypt!
Since the early 1980s there have appeared in
many large cities in the US, and overseas, local
organizations which investigate pseudoscientific claims
in a factual, objective way. These organizations have,
by and large, done an excellent and valuable job over
these past two decades. Most of them used to publish a
short monthly newsletter. Over the past decade, most
have gone on-line. Here is a convenient set of links to
the newsletters of many of these local
organizations active in countering pseudoscience.
Science | Astrology
and Astronomy | A
succinct analysis of Astrology.
and very direct test of astrology, with excellent
short but effective analysis of astrology.
view of astrology.
I can't think of any other topic that
better illustrates the essentially hopeless
state of public scientific literacy than the
theme of flying saucers and UFOs. Google
searches on any other topic will turn up a few
factual pages among at least the first hundred
crazy sites. But in the case of UFOs and
saucers, there are almost no factual
sites whatsoever. Even Skepdic
is somewhat of a letdown. There is precisely one
otherwise, out of the many millions of
completely crazy sites. British science writer
Ian Ridpath has a
page. And here is an amateur
astronomer's page on the growth of UFO
mythology. Here are also a few posted articles
by aerospace writer
A brief history of the evolution of the
UFO myth. Another
summary of the evolution of UFO mythology.
astronomer's personal collection of UFOs
that were actually easy to identify. Here is an
older article on UFO-based
religious cults. A good site covering
so-called UFOs in Renaissance European art
is here. HRvD didn't notice these! A good
discussion of the famous Fermi
Question, "Where is everybody?" and
possible answers to that question.
Connecticut | Dowsing
archeology | Testing
dowsers and psychic canines
Home page of the National Council Against Health Fraud,
an up-to-date and very reliable source concerning
questionable health practices, scams and cons.
See also http://www.quackwatch.com/
which contains a huge amount of information about
quack "healing arts," and see also http://acsh.org/healthissues/
A summary of a large number of studies of homeopathy;
surprise, surprise, it's utterly worthless.
Quacks as deniers
of science-based health-care.
A good site on diet scams and fad diets can be found
Recent evaluation of "fad"
For more medical and veterinary quackery, see
Canadian quackery; Introduction
A funny writeup on faith-healer, evangelist and
spirit communicator Peter
One of the most shameless
promoters of medical quackery in the US has
recently introduced his own line of cosmetics!
Pseudonymous teenage quack "Adam
Dreamhealer," shamelessly promoted by the media,
especially in Canada. A discussion of Dreamhealer's
antics within the general context of claims of
"medical miracles" will be found
A gallery of infamous
Articles on the many dangers posed by “dietary
supplements,” which since 1994 have been exempt from
all regulation and certification and testing: Supplements;
circulatory system dangers of supplements. Supplements
heart patients. Unwanted
effects of supplements.
One of the most disturbing epidemics in the US
currently is the
epidemic of obesity. Here's a long, detailed
Nonsense 1, Quantum
Nonsense 2, Quantum
Quantum Nonsense 4,
Quantum Nonsense 5, Quantum
Nonsense 6. The in-context-meaningless buzzword
“quantum” is a strong competitor in the early 21st
Century, threatening to replace the earlier,
still-popular meaningless-in-context buzzword “energy.”
The majority of these links are on-line demonstrations
of change blindness.
Rensink (discussion), and
Newspaper writeup with links.
The Myth of
One of very, very few good articles on
Hypnosis | Court
status of the myth of repressed memories |
A more concise article on theories
hypnosis. | Recently "researchers" have
used so-called "functional magnetic resonance
imaging" (fMRI) to try to explore the
"realities" of hypnosis, but such imaging itself
has been denounced as pseudoscientific, almost
equivalent to phrenology.
See a discussion here.
Evidence that fMRI is at least being grossly
oversold is the recent appearance on the market
of a fMRI lie
detector!! | British mentalist Derren
Brown in this interview
gives the reality behind "hypnosis," as it is
indeed understood by every stage hypnotist known
A brief entry on Muscle
Reading, aka Hellstromism, aka Contact
Mind Reading, aka Cumberlandism.
A typical manifestation of modern-day Spiritualism!
The earliest Spiritualism-themed stage act was the
Davenport Brothers. Here's a good on-line
article about their feats and act.
A computerized, searchable bibliography of books and
articles on pseudoscience and related topics.
Astronomical Pseudoscience Bibliography
"Skeptic's Dictionary" link again: http://skepdic.com/
A dictionary of terms common in occult, paranormal,
supernatural and pseudoscientific literature.
this crucial topic. And
A simple ESP
code as a teaching tool!
Magicians are quite willing to help construct valid ESP
experiments, but almost never get asked by so-called
"parapsychologists" for any expert help. Wonder
why? Here is Jamy
Ian Swiss's offer.
Psychic Supermen (and
James Hydrick was Uri Geller's strong
American competitor in the early 1980s. His downfall
came quickly because he basically knew only one trick.
inside look at various famous Russian psychics of
the 1970s and 1980s.
writeup on long-forgotten 1960s "Thoughtographer" Ted
Baba, Indian superman and cult leader, is
famous for doing very simple magic tricks for his
about ice crystals.
Planets and Other Crackpot Geology and Astronomy:
A university astronomy professor's page on
Velikovsky and his bizarre astrophysical
biologist's summary of the Velikovskian mythos.
A typical scholarly
examination of some of Velikovsky's claims, and
use of ancient sources.
Cyrus Teed's Inside-Out
Other crazy ideas in
Society, of Dowie and Voliva.
The more recent Flat Earth Society active in the 1980s
died out with the death of its founder in 2001. This site
reproduces the original flyer used in publicizing the
society during its heyday. However, over the past 10
years some genuine flat earth believers have emerged
as reported here, but don't seem to have any
formal organization, and no head count is currently
Well, the earth isn't flat, but surely it is at the center of the
Intelligent Design, and "Godly Science" in general:
Home page of the National Center for Science Education,
a watchdog organization that keeps track of the
continued attack against high school biology by various
extremist, science-hating individuals, cults and sects.
See also: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/gish.html
Design movement is actually fractured into a huge number
of competing cults and sects, whose beliefs split
virtually every Fundamentalist hair! Here's a web
page that offers a brief discussion and summary
of the various anti-science cults and their beliefs, as
well as links to the websites of each crackpot
organization. See also Creationism
and Cult Archaeology
science survive Fundamentalism?
The historical origins of the
Bible Science movement which spun off Creationism
and Intelligent Design.
background on the origins of the pseudosciences of
Creationism and Intelligent Design.
A website devoted to religious tolerance has an
interesting page on Creationism.
An article by
Paul R. Gross on the Intelligent Design
movement. (PDF format)
Frequently Asked Questions about Creationism. And
here is the latest
battleground, far from the last.
A UFO religious cult, the Raëllians,
has borrowed almost all the rhetoric and arguments of
the Intelligent Design movement.
Falling” is an amusing Onion parody of
article in which advocates of Intelligent Design
state their case and then biologists reply with the
geologist on Intelligent Design pseudoscience.
An example of a critique
of Intelligent Design and Creationism by a religious
organization, the ADL.
aspects of the latest attempts to put religion
into public school biology.
A useful review of legal
aspects and precedents in the saga of ignorant
Fundamentalism versus high school biology.
four-part article on the threat the Intelligent
Design movement poses to science itself, science
education, and public support of scientific research.
News summaries concerning new ID battlefronts are found
An apparently randomly assembled clump of creationism
Bible Codes, Holy
Codes, General Prophecy:
There are a number of good sites developed by
computer scientists and mathematicians which demonstrate
the non-existence of "secret codes" in various Holy
Books... and find them in WAR AND PEACE, and MOBY
DICK! Here is one
such site, and here is
another; all have links to other similar sites.
Prophecy for Dummies? Learn this useful and profitable
A direct reading of the Bible doesn't present a history
success in prognostications.
This very useful site
randomly generates Nostradamus-style prophecies, in
Reading and Fortune
A very good, two-part on-line article on cold reading,
using a transcript of James Van Praag sessions to
illustrate the various techniques. This is a three-part
article. The much longer second part is linked from the
pages containing the first part. A third part, on Sylvia
Browne has recently been added.
A short article on cold
reading. And another.
An essay on "hot" and "cold"
of reading methods used by modern TV personalities.
A discussion of
reading methods used in a college class, with
links to video examples.
brief survey of fortune-telling and fortune
A good example of a made-up
look up table for "list reading" in fortune
telling with ordinary playing cards. Another such table
Many fortune tellers use a variety of scams
to steal large sums of money from exceptionally gullible
customers. More information on typical scams.
Still more on scams.
take in a single scam, incredible!
Guard this secret closely: the
Oracle of Batboy!
The Internet has become the medium of choice
for all sorts of cranks. Here is a website that
specializes in the appreciation of the creme de la
hyperweird among CRANK
SITES on the WWW.
story of the week.
A guide to Internet documents on this largest
and most frightening of pseudoscience cults.
Look particularly for "The Road to Xenu," some
of the ultimate secret revelations of the
cult, as well as the TIME cover story on
Scientology (May 6, 1991), and "Social Control
in Scientology," etc.
See also Ultimate
Because of the secretive, paranoid nature of
the cult of Scientology, the most damning
information about it comes from very
high-level followers who later left the cult.
Here's a recent article on one such former
follower and his inside information: “The
Apostate,” by Lawrence Wright, The New
Yorker, Feb. 14 and 21, 2011.
SOUTH PARK on Scientology, aka the Super
good discussion of destructive cults in
Specific Destructive Cults:
Church, one of the most notorious of
all destructive cults.
Some general characteristics
of cults and cult leaders, listed by a former
Cults Web Site.
Useful summaries of the various religious
cults that are based on the cult leader's
contact with UFOs and Space Aliens and Alien
Civilizations will be found
Indian cult leader
End of the World
Predictions, mainly from cult leaders.
website generates completely meaningless
postmodern essays at random. They're a bit short and not
under the viewer's control, otherwise they would pass as
essays students could turn in as completed assignments
in courses in various humanities departments at almost
any university. To generate a new essay, just hit
"return" on your browser.
Lists of Logical Fallacies, with many
examples drawn from pseudoscience and politics:
Allan Sokal's home
Allan Sokal's Social Text hoax. The skepdic.com
entry on the Sokal hoax.
historian Gerald Holton on antiscience, and
postmodernist attacks on science.
on postmodernism pollution of universities.
of Richard Rorty, the de-facto current leader (until his
death in 2007) of postmodern anti-science
philosophers. A nearly-incomprehensible summary of
Rorty's nearly-incomprehensible ideas about science is here.
geologist on postmodern anti-science.
Postmodernism grew in part out of the rabidly antiscience
stance exhibited by all Hippies in good standing,
in the 1960s, as remembered, summarized and examined
euphemisms for Postmodern thought.
look at the impact of postmodernism on science
An April, 2005 "postmodern"
A classic of postmodern attacks on science is
Paul Feyerabend's lecture (1975) in which he
reveals that science is "nothing but a religion in
is NOT "faith-based." Righto!
really good list of fallacies.
aka Mass Sociogenic Illness:
Definitely! A recent
case, the extreme repressive environment is
typical. Reverse audio in ``Stairway to Heaven,"
here. The Toxic
Meteorite of September 2007. Some other cases and
a review article,
School case, Review
Typical school case,
a good-quality video of the part of the Pokemon episode
that supposedly triggered fits in Japanese children.
top ten list of Conversion Disorder Incidents
Probability Stumpers 2 |
Probability Stumpers 3 | An interactive version of
one of the most famous probability questions is here.
version of the traditional Rhine Zener-card ESP
tests. Another version of some standard probability
riddles. One reason we all have trouble with
probabilties is the almost irresistable confusion
between specific outcomes, and specific categories of
outcomes. A good discussion is here.
textbook on simple concepts of probability.
The famous Monty Hall problem is discussed at length by
S. Lucas, J. Rosenhouse and A. Schepler in Mathematics
Magazine, Vol. 82, No. 5, December 2009, pp. 332 -
NSF Surveys of Public
Science Literacy and Attitudes:
for updates, see:
How did we get into this fix? Read Richard Feynman on
public school science textbooks. Because many (up
to 50%) of K-12 science teachers are scientifically
illiterate, their lectures are riddled with errors and
misconceptions, and the texts they use generally are
too. Here is a page devoted to tabulating some of the
Science illiteracy is part of a larger and much more
frightening problem: adult
illiteracy. Federal reports have tended to
minimize the severity of this situation, but the best
guess is that currently about 50% of the
adult US population is functionally illiterate, meaning
for example that they cannot pick the correct bus from a
simple bus route schedule, or determine the percent of
some ingredient from a simple "nutritional facts" table
on a food item label. As a college teacher since about
1964, I personally have seen a sharp and steady
deterioration in the literacy of upper-division college
students. The expected and easily documented resulting decline in
the number of adults who read books and newspapers
is tied in directly with a decline in the fraction of
the population who attend concerts, lectures and similar
public events, who do community service, and who
actively seek information about world, national, state
and local conditions and situations. In short, the
decline in adult readership corresponds to a decline in
the current level of human civilization.
The larger view, The
on Science in America.
Cultural and scientific illiteracy is epidemic in the
Why can't Americans learn science? Here's
one proposed explanation.
International Math and Science Study:
The U.S. educational system has been in a
perpetual state of crisis since 1957, and each year sees
further deterioration. U.S. schools have placed dead
last or tied for dead last among many dozens of randomly
selected countries, in a number of separate studies, up
to 2003. Here is an overview,
for 12th graders. [These studies were originally called
the First, Second and Third International Math and
Science Surveys.] Also included is an independent
international study covering the same questions.
of current results 2003
Study, results announced in 2005.
international study from 2003
And some news items:
Who cares? What,
Grades keep going up, knowledge
keeps dwindling down.
Who'd have believed that one of the major foes of
effective K-12 education in math and science would be
the National Science Foundation itself? The problem
seems to have been the takeover of the funding for math
and science educational initiatives by education-college
quacks, a decade or more ago. The result has been a
flood of NSF-approved K-12 textbooks and "teaching
packages" that teach basic math either incorrectly or
not at all. Here are some links to organizations that
have grown up in response to what amounts to a total
destruction of math (and science) K-12 instruction in
many states and municipalities:
Mathematically Correct dot com, HOLD National, Where's the Math
dot com. Science education has suffered even more,
but few if any seem to care. A Presidential
Commission agrees that math education is in
crisis, and offers some excellent suggestions.
A big part of the problem:
And another aspect:
And still another:
They just don't get it?
Physics would be the most unpopular
subject, except nobody has to take it.
since the 1960s and who cares?
Of course politicians
possess perfect understanding
of our problems.
The Polygraph &
Summary of National
Academy of Sciences Report
More on the Polygraph.
So-called “functional magnetic resonance imaging” seems
to be becoming a bogus validator of all kinds of
nonsensical claims, roughly one new one per month. A
survey of the claims and problems of this highly
non-quantitative and equally highly questionable
techology can be found in an article by Laura Sanders, Science
News, “Trawling the Brain,” December 15, 2009, pp.
16 – 20. A pdf
Short and generally correct answers to frequently asked
questions about physics. See also http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/
and also http://whyfiles.news.wisc.edu
and also http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/
which is the home page of a physics professor interested
in the history of science, and in distinguishing science
A collection of articles on the widespread
“denial of fact” seen all over the world today:
“State of Denial,” The New Scientist, 15 May
2010, pp. 35-45.
Free Formula Reading:
Save yer money, get yer fortune told here.
Legends, Modern Myths and Internet Hoaxes:
Fun Things to Do and to
There is what might almost be considered a religion,
based on nonsensical mythology about Nikola
Tesla. Another Tesla
How many of these "Science
did you think were true? Few actually are factual.
How about “Spontaneous
Make Nifty and Unique UFO photos, kids!
Just follow these simple instructions.
It's also neato-keen to modify existing photos,
especially from NASA, like
But the simplest approach is usually the best, as seen
here. Billy-Meier-style photos are particularly
easy to imitate precisely, using the exact methods
adopted by Billy and Kalliope, as discussed here,
You can also make make your own
Mystery Spot, but this is harder...
you'll have to get Dad and your friendly neigborhood
construction company to help you.
You can also make really nifty crop circles!
The folks who know how are rightly called circlemakers.org
here is how to do the simplest circles.
You can also make ghost photos, and no ghost
is needed. The folks at the link
here have not even begun to scratch the
surface of making ghost photos to order.
Now how about some space alien photos? The
aliens are right in our neighborhood, walking around
in our back yard! Find inspiration
You too can create your own mysterious
Nazca Markings! Evidence for Space Aliens?
And what about making your own Mummy??
Just a mummy of an orange slice, but the principle is
the same! As for real mummies, find some accurate
A tongue-in-cheek "official" website devoted to the
Loch Ness Monster can be found here. Using
their "live webcam" you can take a photo of the
monster yourself, sitting at home at your computer!
[Hint: the word "pseudoscience" is "hidden"
prominently on this site.] If you get tired of looking
for a Loch Ness monster, see if you can spot a
Giant Panda. No luck? Try
here. And, never get discouraged, even if you
search for Bigfoot for
40 years without one sniff. Keep the faith,
baby! Waiting for Bigfoot, prepare for a long
Jib-Jab's legendary Oddities
How about a
quiz testing your knowledge of the Old
Testament? Believe it or not, the instructor scored
100% on this, and has made 100% on many previous
quizzes, due to his familiarity with Leviticus.
How low can a human sink? Find out
Cranky on religion in general.
Ten Signs you're a fundamentalist Christian!
Washed-out Blue Dot...
It has not been possible to
test all these links recently. A search
engine can usually find a "lost" site if
it has simply been moved. I recommend google,
about the only search engine around that
actually works. You can reach me by
e-mail with questions, etc., at email@example.com
Or at: RoryCoker@gmail.com