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CO-PUBLISHER Michael Shermer



Pat Linse is the creator of and Editor in Chief of JUNIOR SKEPTIC. She wrote many of the early issues.

Jim W. W. Smith is a cartoonist and CGI illustrator who works regularly with Daniel Loxton on JUNIOR SKEPTIC and a variety of book projects for kids.

Jacob Dewey is an illustrator based in Victoria, Canada.

Daniel Loxton is the Editor of JUNIOR SKEPTIC, and writes and illustrates most is3 sues. Daniel is the author of Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be.

This Issue’s Cover features a digital illustration by Jacob Dewey.


Have you ever wished you could ask your dog what she’s really thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a genuine twoway conversation with your cat, hamster, or turtle?

There are people who claim to have the ability to do just that. “Pet psychics”—sometimes called “animal communicators”—say that they can speak with all sorts of animals using telepathic powers. They charge money to read animals’ minds and tell the owners what those animals supposedly said. Many pet psychics also claim they can locate lost pets, heal their illnesses, and even communicate with pets who died long ago. Are these claims realistic?

Let’s find out!


Human beings evolved alongside countless other animal species. Our prehistoric ancestors were part of the natural ecosystem. Many of our early relationships with other wild creatures were unfriendly ones. We hunted animals for food. We learned to steal eggs and honey, how to catch fish, where to find the juiciest bugs to snack upon. At the same time, parasites like fleas and mosquitoes used early humans for food. So did sharp toothed larger predators like lions and bears.

Other relationships between prehistoric people and wild animals benefitted both. Ice age wolves learned to hang around human camps for scraps. As the wolves and humans got used to each other, each species got something valuable. The wolves got free food. In return their keen senses helped warn our ancestors about other predators and enemies (especially at night). Over time that relationship grew and changed. Humans raised wolves from pups, fed them, and trained them to help in the hunt. These slowly became dogs—probably the first species to be “domesticated,” or taken out of the wild to be fed and bred for human purposes.

Many other plants and animals were domesticated over thousands of years. People learned to grow crops, ride horses, and breed sheep, cattle, and pigs for wool, milk, and meat.

Humans live in groups. It’s natural for us to form social bonds—with each other, and with our domestic animals too. Dogs in particular became not only our guards and helpers, but also something more: they became pets. Ancient Greeks and Romans were wildly fond of their dogs. Some kept pampered lapdogs just as people do today!



Pets are animals that are kept for the happiness and companionship they provide to their owners. People in our modern culture form powerful emotional attachments to their pets. They play with them, care about their happiness, worry when they are hurt, and grieve for them when they pass away.

Dogs and cats are often considered “part of the family.” Some are treated almost like human children. Their owners may refer to themselves as “Mommy” and “Daddy” when talking to their “fur babies.” Some pets are even pushed around their neighborhoods in baby strollers.

When so many people feel so much love for their animals, there is a great deal of money to be made. People buy things their pets need. They may pay veterinarians many thousands of dollars to help sick or injured animals. Some pet-lovers also buy luxuries. Businesses sell fancy pet foods, pet grooming, accessories, and “doggy daycare” services. The truly rich may even buy their dog a collar made of diamonds!

Pets are big business. But not everyone in the pet business is responsible, well-informed, and honest. Some sell pet products and services that aren’t worth the money. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that some websites “sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products…and sell expired drugs.” These unscrupulous “practices could mean that the products you are buying could be unsafe or ineffective for your pet.” Other people— often well-meaning—claim that they can heal sick pets with far out treatments that scientists know to be useless.

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About Skeptic

EVIL, THEISM, and ATHEISM Answering the Hard Question “You’re an Atheist?! How Do You Find Meaning and Morality in Life if There is No God?”; God, Heaven, and Evil: A Renewed Defense of Atheism; The Devil’s Mark: The Evaluation of Evil, the Measurement of Morality, and the Statistical Significance of Sin; Whence Cometh Evil? The Concept and Mechanics of Natural Evil; Virtuous Reality: Why Right and Wrong Seem Real: a Critique of Moral Realism; Tearing Down Mr. Hume’s Wall: A Response to Moral Realism Skeptics; Brazilian Cancer Quackery; The “Sonic Attack” on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Why the State Department’s Claims Don’t Add Up; Understanding Human Skeletal Variation; Updating the Software and Hardware in Educational Practice: A Way Forward for Science and Mathematics Education; Why Freud Matters: Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and the Skeptical Humanist Tradition; Hope and Hype for Alzheimer’s; I, Too, Am Thinking About Me, Too; Junior Skeptic: The Incredible Claims of Pet Psychics…