“Suffragette”: A Nickell-odeon Review

November 25, 2015

Suffragette is the story of oppressed women seeking the right to vote in early twentieth-century Britain.

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“He Named Me Malala”: A Nickell-odeon Review

November 13, 2015

The documentary He Named Me Malala is of course the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who fought for girls to be educated just like boys, and refused to be intimidated by the fascistic Taliban who in 2012 shot her in the head.

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Pueblo Kachina Dolls

November 02, 2015

The Kachinas are powerful supernatural beings in the spiritual life of the Native American Hopi and Zuni Pueblo peoples. Kachina wooden dolls are given to children, not as playthings but as treasured objects to help them identify the many different kachinas. (Shown here are Hopi dolls from the author’s collection, made by Indian craftmen.)

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Beware Urgent “IRS” Calls

October 23, 2015

At 12:09 p.m., Thursday, September 18, 2015, my answering machine recorded an urgent message from the IRS:

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From Lily Dale: A Report on the Spirits

October 20, 2015

On Saturday, September 5, 2015, my wife Diana and I attended yet another open-air séance at the village of Lily Dale, on Cassadaga Lake, New York. Lily Dale advertises that it is “The World’s Largest Center for the Religion of Spiritualism.”

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Junipero Serra: Pope Francis’ U.S. Saint

October 09, 2015

During his first visit to the United States, Pope Francis I canonized a Spanish Catholic Franciscan friar, Junipero Serra y Ferrer (1713–1784). With only one “miracle” to his credit (though not for the church’s lack of trying!) he became Saint Junipero Serra, but the act provoked anger from many Native Americans and his statue at one mission was vandalized.

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Turin “Shroud” Still a Fake

October 02, 2015

In 2005, Turin Shroud proponent Ray Rogers claimed that earlier carbon-14 tests of the shroud linen—showing it to date from between 1260 and 1390 and to thus be a fake—were invalid because, he hypothesized, the samples must have been taken from a “medieval patch.” Rogers and I had an exchange of arguments in the Skeptical Inquirer. But a new paper by three Italian chemists, in the same journal in which Rogers published, shows who was right.

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Quack Fighter Wallace Sampson

September 23, 2015

Wallace Sampson, who died May 25, 2015, was an oncologist, a professor emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine, anti-quackery activist, a colleague, and friend, who once helped me prepare for an undercover role as a dying patient seeking out a bogus cancer cure in Mexico. Please read Harriet Hall’s tribute to Wally—her mentor—in the September/October 2015 Skeptical Inquirer. Had he done nothing more than inspired her—“the Skepdoc”—to follow in his footsteps, he would have left an indelible mark, but he did much, much more.

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Psychic Scams

September 10, 2015

They didn’t foresee their arrests—no surprise there—but some New York City fortunetellers have been revealed as, some frankly admitting that they were nothing more than, scam artists engaging in grand larceny. Here, from a New York Times article by reporter Michael Wilson (reprinted in The Buffalo News, August 29, 2015), are some of their stories.

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August 31, 2015

More funny riddles with a science/critical-thinking angle.

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