Topic Editor: Steven Novella Sections: Topic Overview Index of NESS Articles and Blog Posts Index of Relevant SGU Episodes Outside Resources Summary of Key Research Topic Overview Astrology refers to a number of ancient systems of belief that relate the positions of the planets and constellations to events on Earth. In Western culture, the Zodiac […]

Evolve This – Why We Should Care About Evolution and Creationism

October 2004 by Steven Novella, M.D There are different versions of the dangerous error known as creationism. “Young earth” creationists believe the world was created ten thousand years ago in six days; others gallantly admit the earth is older. But all creationists deny one scientific fact: life on earth is the product of evolution, slow […]

Look, Up There – What Are UFOs?

February 2005 by Steven Novella, MD I once saw a UFO. That is, I saw an object in the sky I couldn’t identify. Chances are you have too, probably more than once. What I saw were lights in a large “V” shape, moving silently, too slow to be a plane, moving out of view after […]

Levitating Frogs and Free Energy

June 2005 by Steven Novella, MD When I was a child some of my favorite toys were simple magnets. I was fascinated by the way they could push or pull on each other at a distance with an invisible force. It was like magic. Energy itself, all types of energy, seems like magic. Physicists, performing […]

The Skeptic’s Diet

January 2005 (updated August 2010) by Steven Novella, MD An obese friend of mine commented on how well his new diet was going, as he absentmindedly devoured an entire low-carb cheesecake while happily engaged in his sedentary pastime. He, like many of my friends, family, and patients, truly desire to lose weight and be healthy […]

Is Magic Real?

April 2002 by Perry DeAngelis and Robert Novella Modern Attacks on Harry Potter and Roleplaying Games Here is your character on your character sheet: NAME:  Bob the Fighter RACE:            Halfling HEALTH:       10 STRENGTH:  10 SMARTS:       2 Carries a big club that does 1 to 10 points of damage. Here is your first adventure: Gamemaster (GM): […]

Being Too Open-Minded

I listened patiently as the UFO enthusiast explained how humans were transplanted to the earth from another world by our alien forebears. “Then how do you explain the fact that humans share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and a genetic code will all life on earth?” I asked. “Well, I think you have to […]

Cereal Killers

July 2005 by Steven Novella, MD Just last year, a “crop circle” (actually a crop square) appeared in Martha Bailey’s cornfield in New Milford, Conn. Her field is surrounded by a 7-foot-tall fence of chicken wire and wood. Overnight, in the middle of the field, a “perfect” square of flattened down corn appeared. According to […]

Conspiracy Theories – Out of the Matrix

March 2006 by Steven Novella, MD There are no shortage of conspiracy theories in the halls of pseudoscience and pseudohistory, not to mention pop culture mythology. According to a 1992 New York Times survey, 77 percent of Americans hold the demonstrably wrong belief that the JFK assassination was the work of a conspiracy. Others believe […]

NESS Participates in Randi Psychic Challenge

May 2004 by Steven Novella, MD Armchair skepticism is fine as far as it goes. It is helpful to be conversant with skeptical philosophy, the principle of Occam’s razor, and the many mechanisms of self-deception. It is important to be able to identify where the burden of proof for a claim properly lays, and to […]