The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe

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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is a weekly podcast produced by the New England Skeptical Society. The podcast deals with topics of interest to skeptics, such as intelligent design, homeopathy, and other pseudoscience staples. The podcast is hosted by Steven Novella, president of the New England Skeptical Society. The regular panelists are Bob Novella, Jay Novella, Evan Berstein, and Cara Santa Maria. Each show follows a regular format, starting with a discussion of news items. Other features include a weekly interview and a "Science or Fiction" quiz for the panelists.

The podcast hosts have also written a book by the same name.[1] The book, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, provides a high-quality and readable introduction to skepticism, providing examples for some of the same core ideas behind RationalWiki.

To prepare readers, Novella first shows the ways in which our memories are faulty and our perceptions fallible, the glitches in our brains that trip us up, and the many logical fallacies that screw up our thinking. In lively, highly accessible prose, he helps readers understand these peculiarities and limitations and learn how to recognize deceptive claims.
Kirkus Reviews

The organization of the book is as follows (corresponding pages from RationalWiki are in parentheses):

Section 1: Core Concepts Every Skeptic Should Know
1. Scientific Skepticism (Skepticism)
Neuropsychological Humility and Mechanisms of Deception
2. Memory Fallibility and False Memory Syndrome (Confabulation)
3. Fallibility of Perception
4. Pareidolia (Pareidolia)
5. Hyperactive Agency Detection
6. Hypnagogia (Sleep paralysis, Alien abduction)
7. Ideomotor Effect (Ideomotor effect)
8. Dunning-Kruger Effect (Dunning–Kruger effect)
9. Motivated Reasoning (Confirmation bias)
10. Arguments and Logical Fallacies (Argument, Logical fallacy)
11. Cognitive Biases and Heuristics (List of cognitive biases, Heuristic)
12. Confirmation Bias (Confirmation bias)
13. Appeal to Antiquity (Appeal to tradition)
14. Appeal to Nature (Appeal to nature)
15. Fundamental Attribution Error
16. Anomaly Hunting
17. Data Mining (Cherry picking)
18. Coincidence (Coincidence)
Science and Pseudoscience
19. Methodological Naturalism and Its Critics (Methodological naturalism)
20. Postmodernism (Postmodernism)
21. Occam's Razor (Occam's razor)
22. Pseudoscience and the Demarcation Problem (Pseudoscience], Demarcation problem)
23. Denialism (Denialism)
24. P-Hacking and Other Research Foibles (Statistical significance)
25. Conspiracy Theories (Conspiracy theory)
26. Witch Hunts (European witch-hunts)
27. Placebo Effects (Placebo effect)
28. Anecdote (Anecdotal evidence)
Iconic Cautionary Tales from History
29. The "Clever Hans" Effect (Ideomotor effect)
30. The Hawthorne Effect (Hawthorne effect)
31. Cold Reading (Cold reading)
32. Free Energy (Free energy)
33. Quantum Woo (Quantum woo)
34. Homunculus Theory (Infinite regress)
35. Intelligent Design (Intelligent design)
36. Vitalism and Dualism (Vitalism, Dualism)
37. N-Rays (N-rays)
38. Positive Thinking (Law of attraction)
39. Pyramid Scheme (Pyramid scheme)

Section 2: Adventures in Skepticism

40. Motivated Reasoning About Genetically Modified Organisms
41. Dennis Lee and Free Energy (Dennis Lee)
42. Holly-woo
43. The Singularity (Singularity)
44. The Warrens and Ghost Hunting (Ed and Lorraine Warren, Ghost hunting TV shows)
45. Loose Thinking About Loose Change (Ghost hunting TV shows)

Section 3: Skepticism and the Media

46. Fake News (Fake news)
47. False Balance (Balance fallacy)
48. Science Journalism
49. Enter the Matrix
50. Microbiomania
51. Reporting Epigenetics

Section 4: Death by Pseudosicence

52. Death by Naturopathy (Naturopathy)
53. Exorcism: Medieval Beliefs Yield Medieval Results (Exorcism)
54. Death by Denial
55. Suffer the Children

Section 5: Changing Yourself and the World

56. Being Skeptical

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake by Steven Novella et al. (2018) Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9781538760536.