If the Secret Really Worked…

I've written in the past about the Secret, more properly called the Law of Attraction, the perenially popular New Age idea which says that merely thinking about something draws it to you and causes it to appear in your life. One consistent aspect of this idea is that its advocates claim it's an invariable natural law, as certain and predictable in its operation as gravity - although they never seem to explain what happens if two people both wish for incompatible things, like the outcome of an … [Read more...]

The Harm Psychics Do, Continued

You know, I was going to write about the Pastafarian who won the right to wear a metal colander on his head for his driver's license photo - but by the time I got home from work yesterday, half a dozen other atheist bloggers had already posted about it, so never mind. Here's something a little heavier instead.I wrote a post in 2008, The Harm Psychics Do, about a self-proclaimed psychic who announced on the basis of no evidence that a local woman's autistic daughter was being molested. … [Read more...]

I Am An Atom of Atheism

The blog Ungodly News has created a whimsical periodic table of atheism, and I was surprised and pleased to find out that I'm on it:(click for larger version)I'm an actinide, if you can't find me - one of the green rows on the bottom, labeled as "The Wicked of the Web". I'd never have counted myself as one of the basic and indivisible elements of atheism, but given the distinguished company I'm listed among, this is a true honor! You may now commence the jokes about making compounds … [Read more...]

News Flash: Psychics Still Useless

You may have heard about this bizarre story out of Texas this week, where a self-proclaimed psychic called police with a tip that a certain home was the site of a mass grave containing dozens of dismembered bodies, including the bodies of children. A swarm of reporters, FBI agents and Texas Rangers promptly converged on the address, bringing cameras, news helicopters and cadaver-sniffing dogs.At first they found spots of blood on the porch, seemingly proving that the psychic tip-off was good … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I noticed a few stories this week that I haven't had time to write more about, but wanted to mention briefly:• So-called "psychics" defraud their gullible customers out of thousands of dollars, usually through laughably obvious ploys in which they claim the client's money needs to be "cleansed". Can we please regulate these con artists already? Or should we even try - do the suckers deserve what they get?• And proving that corruption and hypocrisy crosses denominational lines, a … [Read more...]

Swimming in a Sea of Pseudoscience

This past weekend, I was out at brunch when I saw a rack of free magazines in the restaurant's foyer. I picked out one of them, which as it turned out was a promotional brochure and schedule for something called the New Life Expo to be held in New York City this coming weekend.I read on, and the further into it I got, the more appalled I was. If you thought that humanity was entering a new and enlightened age, this magazine will force you to reconsider. If you took your impressions of the … [Read more...]

Weekend Link Miscellany

I've got a couple of links this weekend, some atheism-related, some not:• Lost a digital camera lately? It made me smile to find out about I Found Your Camera, a website helping to reunite lost cameras with their owners.• After the terrible and entirely preventable deaths of three people during a "sweat lodge" ceremony last year, the New Age community in Sedona is suffering a tourist backlash. Is this what it takes to make people realize that pseudoscientific gibberish is not … [Read more...]

An Opportunity Suggests Itself

On the flight back from my honeymoon, I noticed an ad on my airplane promoting this sweepstakes - and my attention was drawn to the grand prize:Win a one-on-one meeting with the renowned author and mind-body expert, Deepak Chopra, M.D. and rejuvenate your spirit with his Seduction of Spirit Retreat at the Chopra Center. Dr. Chopra is a global force in the field of human empowerment and the prolific author of fourteen bestsellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace. … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions: Out-of-Body Experiences

Most religious people believe in the soul, an ethereal locus of consciousness that separates from the body upon physical death and travels elsewhere to receive its reward. To people who hold this belief, it's a natural next step to guess that the soul or spirit could sometimes leave a person's body while they're still alive and travel to distant places on its own initiative. Such is the belief in out-of-body experiences, the subject of today's Popular Delusions post.Belief in OBEs is probably … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions X: Crystal Power

To mark the tenth installment of Popular Delusions, I'm turning my attention to one of the most common and enduring superstitions among the New Age set: the belief that naturally occurring crystals have some sort of special power to store, concentrate, or focus vaguely defined "energies".A web search readily brings up hundreds of sites discussing the magical potencies of various crystals, most of which have to do with their supposed healing powers. Here's an entirely typical … [Read more...]


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