A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies - 785 entries | View All

The Skeptic's Dictionary features definitions, arguments, and essays on hundreds of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. It also features dozens of entries on logical fallacies, cognitive biases, perception, science, and philosophy.

Also posted are over 20 years of reader comments.

Click here for Index of all Reader Comments

  • Recent Entries or Modifications

Date           Status* Entry

25 June
updated firewalking

15 June
revised confirmation bias

14 June
new In Memoriam: William Jarvis

11 June
new Trump University

06 June
new reader comments: Joel Wallach, the Mineral Doctor

04 June
update Trivedi's lawsuit against journalist thrown out of court

02 June
new reader comments: energy

Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary


"Birthers" is a term used mainly in a derogatory way to describe people who claim that Barack Obama, elected president of the United States in 2008, was not born in the United States and hence was ineligible (by Article Two of the US Constitution) to become president of the United States. Furthermore, Obama knows he is not a U.S. citizen and is part of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the American people that he was elected in violation of the Constitution. (A similar term is "troofer," used as a term of derision to describe those who call themselves 9/11 Truthers and claim that 9/11 was a conspiracy of the Bush administration.) Some birthers, like Orly Taitz, go even further and claim that Obama wouldn't be eligible for the presidency even if he were born in the U.S. because one of his parents wasn't born in the U.S. So what, you might say. But you probably don't know that Swiss philosopher Emerich de Vatte defined a "natural born citizen" in The Law of Nations (1758) as someone whose parents were both born in the country or both citizens of the country or some such important thing. Yes, this is the same Orly Taitz who produced a forged birth certificate that said Obama was born in Kenya. She is the one who calls herself the queen of the birthers.>>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)

ghost hunters

In a nutshell: Ghost hunters are people who use lots of scientific equipment when they look for ghosts. Scientists don't think the equipment will do them much good.

Ghost hunters look for ghosts or evil spirits (demons) in haunted houses, graveyards, old hotels, and other places. It's likely that some of the first stories cavemen and cavewomen told their little cavechildren were stories about ghosts and demons. It seems just about everybody loves a good ghost story or a scary tale about some wicked demon's nasty tricks.>>more

a blast from the past

Anti-vaccine propaganda from CBS

1 April 2011. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS.com has posted an article Sharyl Attkisson of CBSwhose headline seems to promote the speculation of a vaccine/autism link by Helen Ratajczak, described as "a former senior scientist at a pharmaceutical firm" and the focus of Attkisson's article. The headline over the CBS article is disturbingly misleading and may lead to another media circus similar to that set off by the publication in the Lancet of a paper by Andrew Wakefield that has been discredited as fraudulent:Vaccines and autism: a new scientific review. (For a taste of how the vaccines-cause-autism folks view the CBS article, see the Age of Autism's [AoA] post and comments.)>>more

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