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50 MIN READ TIME

The Art and Science of the Scam: Implications for Skeptics

SCOTT O. LILIENFELD

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time. By Maria Konnikova. New York: Viking, 2016. ISBN: 978- 0525427414. 352 pp. Hardcover, $28.

We’re all suckers. Well, to be more precise, we’re all suckers at least some of the time. Research conducted in 1996 by social psychologist Bella DePaulo, then at the University of Virginia, demonstrates that deception is part-and-parcel of everyday life. She asked participants to keep a diary of their fibs and discovered that most people lie about twice a day; they lie in about one-fifth of brief interpersonal interactions (of course, one might be tempted to ask whether some of them were lying about their lying, but that’s another matter). No wonder the English language contains an estimated 112 words referring to lies or variants thereof: bluff, deceit, deception, exaggeration, fable, fib, fiction, jive, mendacity, misrepresentation, prevarication, spin, untruth, whopper, and so on.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

Creators of the Paranormal: A handful of twentieth-century figures “created” the modern concept of the paranormal and its leading topics, transporting fantasy, myth, or speculation into a kind of believable “reality.” Most proved to be a chimera. CRISPR-Cas9: Not Just Another Scientific Revolution Dissociation and Paranormal Beliefs Scientific Reasoning at the USAF Academy: An Examination into Titanium-Treated Necklaces Stick It In Your Ear! How Not To Do Science A Testament of Belief Masquerading as Science and much more...

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
The Paranormal’s Creators . . . and Some of Its
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
A year-long effort to find a successor to the Center
NEWS AND COMMENT
In early January the company behind Lumosity, the popular “brain
Actor Alan Alda may be most famous for his character
Eminent scientists and public intellectuals are backing the Center for
In late November 2015, the Italian Supreme Court formally and
One of the hallmarks of conspiracy theories is that those
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
Joe Nickell, PhD, is CSI’s senior research fellow. A former
PSYCHIC VIBRATIONS
Sheaffer’s “Psychic Vibrations” column has appeared in the Skeptical Inquirer
NOTES ON A STRANGE WORLD
Massimo Polidora is an investigator of the paranormal, lecturer, and
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Matthew Nisbet is associate professor of communication at Northeastern University
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Benjamin Radford is a research fellow at the Committee for
SPECIAL REPORT
Is it possible to overstate the potential of a new
FEATURES
Much of what is called “the paranormal” today has intrigued
Virtually all known human cultures possess beliefs in the paranormal
Wedding bands typically feature a particular metal such as gold,
Have a sore throat? No worries! No need for lozenges,
In a recent study funded by the John Templeton Foundation
REVIEWS
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. By
Jerry Martin was raised as a Christian but had been
THE FOLKLORESQUE: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World. Edited
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Dr. Morton Tavel has done the scientific community a great
THE LAST LAUGH
May 1, 1776: A secret society called “The Illuminati” is