The Selective Skepticism of Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an author and leading alternative health proponent who was the foil for my first ever Neuroskeptic post, nearly 10 years ago. Ever since then I have occasionally been following McTaggart's output. McTaggart is believer in things like a "Zero Point Field (ZPF), a sea of energy that reconciles mind with matter", an opponent of vaccines, and someone who thinks that spiritual and psychological change can cure advanced cancer. Since my first post, I haven't written mo

Eleven Deaf Men Helped NASA Leave Earth

In the late 1950s when NASA was a brand new agency, the list of spaceflight unknowns was significantly larger than any list of knowns. And addressing that list called for some real creativity. When it came to dealing with space sickness, NASA turned to 11 deaf men for a baseline, and these men ultimately played a significant role in getting the first astronauts off the ground. [embed][/embed] This specific run of tests was done in the 1960

Your Weekly Attenborough: Blakea attenboroughii

Plants, they're just like us. We begin our lives as, really, parasites. A baby may bring some joy into the world, but it's not contributing much beyond that. It takes feeding, cleaning, protecting, teaching and money to polish a human being into something approaching societal worth. After all, David Attenborough wouldn't have been Sir David Attenborough without Frederick and Mary.Blakea attenboroughi shares at least one thing with its namesake — they both needed a bit of help to get off t

Worn-Down Tusks Show Most African Elephants Are Righties

You don't need hands to be right- or left-handed. Many kinds of animals have shown a preference for using one side of their body or the other. They include apes, whales, dogs, cats, cows, toads, fish and even honeybees. Now, with data from a rather unsavory source, researchers have found evidence for "tuskedness" in elephants. Although humans aren't alone in having handedness, we do seem to have the most extreme bias as a species. Other animals seem more evenly divided between righties an

Flashback Friday: Finally, science answers the question “Are blondes really dumb?”

We've featured so many studies that reinforce stereotypes on this blog that we have a whole category full of them. So it was refreshing to find this study, which set out to test whether blondes are actually dumber than people with brown, red, or black hair. More specifically, the author crunched data from a large survey of young baby boomers, which conveniently included both hair color and IQ information for most respondents. He found that not only are blonde women not dumb--they're actually

This Optical Illusion Could Help to Diagnose Autism

You probably see a cylinder when you look at the illusion above. But how our brains translate two intersecting sheets of moving dots into a 3D image reveals telling differences in visual perception that could perhaps help diagnose autism spectrum disorder. It's been shown that people with autism are better at picking out the details of complex images, at the cost of understanding what all those details mean when put together. This can mean seeing the trees, but not the forest, or the stro

Radical Revision To Timeline Of Human Behavior Evolution

Three papers, published together in Science today, add up to a paradigm-shoving conclusion: Key aspects of what we think of as modern human behavior evolved more than 300,000 years ago, a radical revision to the evolutionary timeline. To understand the significance of the trio of studies, let's take a brisk walk through recent changes in our understanding of human evolution. For decades, the consensus was that Homo sapiens evolved around 200,000 years ago in Africa, with anatomically mo

Interbreeding Surprise! More Denisovans In Our Family Tree

Hey, sex happens. And apparently, whenever our ancestors met up with other members of the genus Homo, it happened a lot. New genetic analysis published today reveals previously unidentified evidence of interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Denisovans, a branch of our family tree not even known to science until a decade ago. You remember the Denisovans, right? Researchers uncovered a piece of pinky finger and a few other fossil fragments in Denisova Cave, in the Altai Mountains of Siber

The First Black Hole Close-Up

An Earth-sized telescope will capture the unseeable.

The Great Aztec Temple

Archaeologists analyze ruins in the heart of Mexico City.

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