Sheldon Helms's blog

Ex-gay Ministry Exodus Int'l Shuts Down...or Do They?

In the past several days, I have received numerous emails and Facebook messages from people asking if I have heard the latestAlan ChambersAlan Chambers developments in the ongoing saga over the work of Exodus International, the world’s largest “ex-gay” organization. This is, in large part, due to the talk I gave last September on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) in which I highlighted the dangers posed by this pseudoscience, and told the history of Exodus’ failed attempts to change people from gay to straight.

Can a Marshmallow Predict Your Future?

I See...A MarshmallowI See...A MarshmallowSome 40 years ago, in the early 1970s, Stanford University psychology professor Walter Mischel published a groundbreaking study testing children’s self-control and delayed gratification. In the study, children were presented with a treat (sometimes a marshmallow, but pretzels and chocolate were also used) and told that they could eat the treat now, or wait until the adult returned, at which point they would be given two treats. The original purpose of the study was to determine the age at which children develop the ability to delay gratification, but follow-up studies revealed something much more meaningful and shocking.

Can Vinegar Save Thousands from Cervical Cancer?

When skeptics read a headline like “Vinegar Saves Thousands from Cancer Death,” their defenses are doubtless on red alert. After Vinegar vs PapVinegar vs Papall, a new quack medicine or procedure for cancer treatment seems to appear in the media every other week. But when I clicked on a link today reporting this very connection between household vinegar and cervical cancer, what I found amazed me.

Sylvia Browne Wrong Again...

Earlier this month, on May 6th, 2013, three young women were rescued from captivity after 9 to 11 years as kidnap victims. Louwana Berry / Sylvia BrowneLouwana Berry / Sylvia BrowneAmanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were living in a house owned by Ariel Castro, one of three men charged with abducting the girls and holding them as sex slaves. Also released was a 6-year old girl, Berry's daughter, whom DNA results have shown to be Castro's biological child.

What makes this story particularly interesting and frustrating for those of us in the Skeptical Community?...

Another take on the Florida "Science Experiment" Arrest...

Thousands were shocked in recent days to read of a 16 year old girl, Keira Wilmot, who was reportedly arrested for a failed science experiment which caused a small explosion and ended with the young girl being Kiera WilmotKiera Wilmotarrested and charged with “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property.” A conviction could have meant a five-year prison term, triggering Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of blogs to virtually explode with comments and requests to write to school and law enforcement officials to complain. An online crowdfund even netted an $8,000 legal defense fund, and a petition on Change.org that attracted over 195,000 signators.

But could there be more to this story than meets the eye?

Top 5 Lessons from Psychology for Critical Thinkers - Part 3...

Your Common Sense Can Fail You

JREF LogoJREF LogoMy third article for the James Randi Educational Foundation's "Education Initiative," whose purpose is to promote teaching of critical thinking and skepticism, has been posted. Please take a look if you get a moment.

Ohlone Psychology Club presents Bryan & Baxter, Paranormal Claims Investigators!

Please join me on Monday, April 1st at 7 pm for the Ohlone College Psychology Club Speaker Series' presentation of "Bryan & Baxter: What THEY Don't Want You to Know," a fun-filled one hour romp Bryan & BaxterBryan & Baxterthrough some of Bryan & Baxter's investigations of paranormal claims.

A Request to Help Fund "An Honest Liar," a Documentary About James Randi...

As some of you may recall, I recently hosted James Randi at Ohlone College, where he delivered a wonderfully entertaining An Honest LiarAn Honest Liartalk on “Prophecy, Divination, and Faith Healing” to an adoring overflow crowd.

That weekend, I was lucky to also spend time with a film crew who were making a documentary about Randi’s life entitled “An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story.” Heading up this endeavor are Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, both talented and accomplished documentary filmmakers. Since that time, Tyler and Justin have kept in touch, and they recently wrote to ask that I help spread the word about their new approach toward completing this important, and no doubt entertaining, work.

Top 5 Lessons from Psychology for Critical Thinkers - Part 2...

Your Beliefs Are Malleable

As some of you may recall, I was recently asked to join the James Randi Educational Foundation's "Education Initiative," JREF LogoJREF Logowhose purpose is to promote teaching of critical thinking and skepticism.

My second article, entitled "Your Beliefs are Malleable," was recently posted. Its topic is cognitive dissonance, and it focuses on how it can be applied to teaching students to evaluate their beliefs in a more rational way.

"Dr. Oz" Takes Heat for Episode on "Ex-Gay" Therapy...

Dr. Mehmet Oz's November 28th, 2012 episode is bringing him Dr. Mehmet OzDr. Mehmet Ozgrief due to its investigation of so-called "Ex-Gay" therapies, techniques designed to help someone change his or her sexual orientation from gay to straight.

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