Yeti FingerYeti FingerPhysical evidence, scientifically analyzed, reveals reality far better than anecdotes, story-telling, and wishful thinking. Proponents of the "Yeti" (Himalayan "abominable snowman") touted a finger taken from a "Yeti" hand displayed at the Pangboche Temple's monastery in Nepal in 1958. If the Yeti is a real species, that wouldn't contradict Science, but it would add a fascinating complication to the complex story of humanity's heritage. The finger's DNA has now been analyzed. It's human. The news report pointedly doesn't state *which* finger it is, but I have my suspicions.

Castlewood Treatment CenterCastlewood Treatment Center A psychologist accused of hypnotizing a woman into believing she possessed multiple personalities and participated in satanic rituals may be sued by several others who say they were also told they had been a part of a satanic cult, according to a Missouri attorney. Lisa Nasseff, 41, of Saint Paul, Minn., is suing her former therapist, Mark Schwartz, and the Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Mo., where she received 15 months of treatment for anorexia, according to the complaint. Read the full story here:

Dr. Anthony Pratkanis, UC Santa Cruz psychology professor and social psychology researcher, held hundreds of students, employees, and community members in raptAnthony PratkanisAnthony Pratkanis attention last Friday at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. Entitled “Selling FlimFlam,” Pratkanis' talk began with a loud admonition to “leave your conscience at the door.” It then delivered a powerful 1½ hour lesson that masqueraded as a guide to selling flimflam, but which was actually designed to teach us the signs that we’re being conned, duped, sold a bill of goods, and presented with empty promises. Pratkanis' talk began with background information that showed how widespread and costly flimflam can be. In the U.S., more money is spent on medical quackery than on hospitalization. Con criminals rake in over $100 billion each year, promising everything from free food, to sex,

As our family story goes, when my parents left eastern Oklahoma for California (the first in their Don ProtheroDon Protherofamilies to move that far away in generations), many of their relatives bid them farewell with a sense of foreboding, quite certain that they would someday soon perish in a terrible earthquake. This may seem odd coming from people who dealt regularly with tornadoes, but it’s an opinion that persists to this day in many parts of the country, and demonstrates a sentiment which is returned with alacrity by people who can’t imagine living with the seemingly constant threat of deadly twisters known all too well by Oklahomans. Last night’s talk by Dr. Don Prothero, professor of Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology at Occidental College, brought this family lore back to me. His talk, entitled “Catastrophes” and given at Café Valparaiso in Berkeley, assured me that my relatives were not alone in their tendency to oversimplify their threat evaluation of natural disasters. Prothero provided many detailed examples of death and destruction caused by a wide variety of na

 photo by Jay DiamondChris DiCarlo: photo by Jay Diamond San Francisco-based skeptic group Reason4Reason ( hosted a talk on August 13th by Dr. Christopher DiCarlo, promoted with the not-so-subtle moniker "How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass," the title of DiCarlo's latest book. The talk was attended by several dozen eager skeptic-minded folks. Looking around the room, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Are these people all here because they want to be a pain in the ass?" Although I doubt that was the case, it wouldn't have mattered. The content of Dr. DiCarlo's talk was better described by his book's subtitle, "A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions." In both the talk and the book, DiCarlo covered such topics as how to formulate strong, logical arguments (and how to recognize when they are flawed), a brief history of Socrates and his brilliant method of examining reality, as well as the definitions and importance of answering "The Big Five" questions (What can I know? Why

Dan WerthimerDan Werthimerby Tucker Hiatt UC Berkeley astronomer Dan Werthimer delivered a seductive break-out session at SkeptiCal 2011 entitled "XXX Astronomy: Exoplanets, Exobiology, and Extraterrestrials." On that May 29th date at Berkeley's Double Tree Hotel, some 50 eager space cadets heard Werthimer talk about all aspects of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Werthimer is the chief scientist of the SETI@home project, Earth's most popular search for ET. SETI@home gathers data from the planet's most sensitive radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and then shares those data with some five million participants worldwide. The participants' personal computers analyze the data for any trace of unnatural radio signals. Collectively, SETI@home computers constitute the most powerful parallel processor ever created. Werthimer's presentation covered the past, present, and future of SETI: from the Giordano Bruno's heretical -- and fatal -- 16th-century assertion that other inhabited worlds exist, to the latest high-tech search for optical laser beacons between the stars.

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