Popular Delusions

  • Popular Delusions I: Astrology (June 5, 2006)
    The arbitrary nature of the constellations and the blatant reliance on magic to explain the stars’ influence on human beings make the claims of astrology utterly implausible.
  • Popular Delusions II: Talking to the Dead (June 25, 2006)
    The hit-or-miss quality and extreme vagueness of so-called psychic mediums indicates that their claims of supernatural power are in actuality just the old magician’s technique of cold reading.
  • Popular Delusions III: Faith Healing (September 26, 2006)
    Well-designed scientific studies have routinely found that intercessory prayer has no effect on healing, and tent-revival ministers who claim otherwise are exploiting the desires of desperate people in order to enrich themselves.
  • Popular Delusions IV: Hauntings (October 31, 2006)
    Beliefs that the dead can return to haunt their former places of residence are far better explained by human psychology and natural phenomena.
  • Popular Delusions V: Santa Claus (December 27, 2006)
    Though not believed in by adults, Santa Claus and other seasonal gift-givers are taught to children using many of the same arguments used to defend other popular superstitions.
  • Popular Delusions VI: Homeopathy (June 30, 2007)
    The facetious belief that water “remembers” what used to be dissolved in it was probably inspired by a misunderstanding of the placebo effect.
  • Popular Delusions VII: Alien Abduction (October 21, 2007)
    Belief in UFOs and alien abductions has become a modern-day religion, with ETs and flying saucers taking the place of gods and angels.
  • Popular Delusions VIII: Anti-Vaccine Hysteria (January 25, 2008)
    The fear-mongering pseudoscience that has led many people to reject vaccines is causing a return of deadly diseases that had long been under control.
  • Popular Delusions IX: Numerology (April 7, 2008)
    Numeric coincidences are still believed by the credulous to have magical significance.
  • Popular Delusions X: Crystal Power (July 4, 2008)
    New Agers and other advocates of pseudoscience ascribe magical powers to crystals, but cannot agree about how they work or what they are supposed to do.
  • Popular Delusions XI: Satanic Ritual Abuse (November 2, 2008)
    Hysterical claims about secret diabolical cults abusing innocents arise from paranoid believers and the malleability of memory, more than from any physical evidence.
  • Popular Delusions XII: Qi (January 22, 2009)
    Eastern and New Age believers in a mysterious life force are simply rehashing the long-debunked notion of vitalism.
  • Popular Delusions XIII: Out-of-Body Experiences (June 29, 2009)
    The sensation of leaving one’s body is caused by a trick of the brain, and cannot be used to obtain any information not accessible through ordinary sensory channels.