Skeptic (U.S. magazine)
Premiere issue of Skeptic,
featuring a tribute to Isaac Asimov.
|Publisher||The Skeptics Society|
|First issue||Spring 1992|
Skeptic, colloquially known as Skeptic magazine, is a quarterly science education and science advocacy magazine published internationally by The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. Founded by Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, the magazine was first published in the spring of 1992 and is published through Millennium Press.
Shermer remains the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and the magazine’s Co-publisher and Art Director is Pat Linse. Other noteworthy members of its editorial board include Oxford University evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond, magician and escape artist-turned educator James “The Amazing” Randi, and actor, comedian, and Saturday Night Live alumna Julia Sweeney.
History, format and structure
The cover story of the magazine's very first issue paid tribute to scientist and science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov.  As Asimov wrote a number of stories featuring robots and coined the term "robotics", the cover of volume 12, #2 (2006), which is devoted to the topic of artificial intelligence, depicts a robot sitting on a park bench reading that first issue.
Every issue of the magazine opens with a description of The Skeptics Society and its mission statement, which is to explore subjects such as creationism, pyramid power, Bigfoot, pseudohistorical claims (as in the examples of Holocaust denial and extreme Afrocentrism), the use or misuse of theory and statistics, conspiracy theories, urban myths, witch-hunts, mass hysterias, genius and intelligence, and cultural influences on science, as well as controversies involving protosciences at the leading edge of established science, and even fads like cryonics and low-carb diets. In addition to publishing the magazine, the Society also:
- sponsors lecture series at the California Institute of Technology
- produces and sells tapes of the lectures, as well as other books on pertinent subjects
- holds field trips to investigate and research such subjects
- conducts social events to promote good-will
- provides resources for the public, skeptic organizations (such as SkeptiCamp) and the media, with which they may approach controversial subjects from a skeptical viewpoint
The magazine's page count was between approximately 100 and 110 pages until the 2010s. It was reduced to approximately 80 pages with Vol. 16 No. 3 (2011).
Each issue features an editorial by James Randi, often a reaction to stories from mainstream news media, such as the 2005 story by the ABC newsmagazine Primetime Live on a Brazilian faith healer, João Teixeira. Other times Randi examines other topics that he has investigated in the past, such as alleged dowsers, alleged psychics like Sylvia Browne, and UFOs.
The magazine also features a large correspondence section called "Forum". This includes not only letters from lay readers but also in-depth comments and rebuttals from professionals, contributing to extended academic debate across issues raised in past editions.
The bulk of the magazine treats a variety of topics. Cover stories have ranged from examination of alleged UFOs in religious icons and theories of the likelihood of artificial intelligence to tributes to luminaries such as Isaac Asimov and Ernst Mayr. Some editions feature special sections devoted to a particular topic or theme that is examined through multiple articles by different authors, such as intelligent design - a frequently recurring topic in the magazine, given the ongoing creation vs. evolution controversy.
Bound into most issues is a 10-page young-readers' section called Junior Skeptic. Heralded by a cover printed on glossy paper (the rest of the magazine is printed on non-glossy stock), Junior Skeptic focuses on one topic, or provides practical instruction written and illustrated in a style more appealing to children.
Daniel Loxton is the Editor of Junior Skeptic. He writes and illustrates most issues.
The first edition of Junior Skeptic appeared in volume 6, #2 of Skeptic (2000).
- Emily Rosa vs Therapeutic Touch (volume 6, #2)
- Bigfoot (volume 6, #3)
- Aliens Among Us? (volume 6, #4)
- Fortune telling (volume 7, #1)
- Urban legends (volume 7, #2)
- Halloween (volume 7, #3)
- Television psychics (volume 7, #4)
- Charles Darwin (volume 8, #1)
- Pyramids (volume 8, #2)
- Atlantis (volume 8, #4)
- Moon landing hoax (volume 9, #1)
- Magician’s Force (with instruction by magician Bob Friedhoffer) (volume 9, #2)
- Psychic surgery & snake oil (volume 9, #3)
- Sea monsters (volume 9, #4)
- Extraterrestrial life (volume 10, #1)
- Yeti (volume 10, #2)
- Bermuda Triangle (volume 10, #3)
- King Tut’s Curse (volume 10, #4)
- Loch Ness Monster (volume 11, #1)
- Sasquatch Part 1 of 2 (volume 11, #2)
- Sasquatch Part 2 of 2 (volume 11, #3)
- Madman of Magic (volume 11, #4)
- Pyramid power (volume 12, #2)
- Alien abduction Part 1 (volume 12, #3)
- Alien Abduction Part 2 (volume 12, #4)
- Evolution Part 1 (volume 13, #1)
- Evolution Part 2 (volume 13, #2)
- Ancient astronauts Part 1 (volume 13, #3)
- Ancient astronauts Part 2 (volume 13, #4)
- Dragons (volume 14, #1)
- Crystal skulls (volume 14, #2)
In 2006, an independent, skeptical talk program called Skepticality was relaunched as Skepticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine. New episodes of the show are released on a biweekly basis. The show is produced by the original, continuing show hosts (Robynn McCarthy and Derek Colanduno) in collaboration with staff of Skeptic magazine.
In 2009, a second official podcast was added. MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological and legendary creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and werewolves. Monster Talk is hosted by Blake Smith, Ben Radford and Dr. Karen Stollznow. Blake Smith produces the show.
- Paranormal Claims: A Critical Analysis, 2007, edited by Bryan Farha, University Press of America, ISBN 978-0-7618-3772-5. Several of the chapters are reprints of Skeptic articles.
- The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, a collection of articles that discuss the Skeptics Society's scientific findings of investigations into popular pseudoscientific and supernatural claims.
- Critical thinking
- Scientific skepticism
- Skeptical Inquirer
- The Freethinker (journal)
- The Skeptic's Dictionary
- The Skeptic (UK magazine)
- The Straight Dope
- "Contribution Guidelines". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "What We Do". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Meet Michael Shermer". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Masthead, Skeptic Magazine.". Retrieved 1 December 2008.
- "Making a living of bullshit detecting". VUE Weekly. August 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- "Vol. 1 No.1 (Premiere Issue) Tribute to Isaac Asimov". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Vol. 12 No. 2 Artificial Intelligence". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Skepticamp". Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- "Table of Contents". Skeptic. 16 (2). Skeptics Society. Retrieved July 10, 2011
- "Table of Contents". Skeptic. 16 (1). Skeptics Society. Retrieved July 10, 2011
- "Table of Contents". Skeptic. 15 (4). Skeptics Society. Retrieved July 10, 2011
- Randi, James (August 31, 2011). "A Report from the Paranormal Trenches". Skeptic.
- Sulloway, Frank J. (February 2005). "Ernst Mayr, 1904–2005Remembrances & Tribute". Skeptic.
- Campling, Chris (August 9, 2008). "Podcast of the week: Skepticality offers the 'truth'". The Times. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
- "About MonsterTalk". Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- "About the Hosts of MonsterTalk". Skeptic. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Skeptic Magazine's Official site
- The Skeptics Society's Official site
- An Interview with Michael Shermer. Free Market Mojo