Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 390+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 32000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at $14.99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade for $1.48
Then just $14.99 / month. Cancel anytime.
Learn more
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
AU
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Read anywhere Read anywhere
Ways to pay Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
At Pocketmags you get
Secure Billing
Great Offers
Web & App Reader
Gifting Options
Loyalty Points
75 MIN READ TIME

Superstition Masquerading as Science

RACHEL AMMIRATI, SCOTT O. LILIENFELD, AND DEAN MCKAY

An essay by Dr. Richard Gallagher, a psychiatrist who purports to be “a man of science,” was featured in the July 1, 2016, online Opinions section of the Washington Post. The essay elicited strong reactions from many quarters; for example, it has drawn over 2,800 online responses as of this writing. Although the title of Gallagher’s essay is alarming enough—“As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession”—his grasp of science is even more troubling. In his essay, Gallagher claims to be able to identify individuals who are demonically possessed and to help exorcists distinguish them from people suffering from genuine mental illnesses. As clinical psychologists, two of whom are members of the Public Education and Media Committee of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP), we are deeply concerned that his approach to explaining human behavior has the potential to damage the profession and contribute to harmful mental health practices.

At the outset, Gallagher tries to persuade readers that he is a skeptic. He describes himself as “inclined to skepticism” and notes that he once told an exorcist, “I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus pocus.” He argues that “respect for evidence,” among other virtues, guides his approach to psychiatry, teaching, and evaluating claims concerning demonic possession. Further, he asserts, reasonably, that in most cases behaviors attributed to possession can be accounted for by “more prosaic problems” such as “a medical disorder; mental illnesses,” suggestibility, or “fraud.”

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - Nov Dec 2016
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Digital Issue
Nov Dec 2016
$4.49
This issue and other back issues are not included in a new Skeptical Inquirer subscription. Subscriptions include the latest regular issue and new issues released during your subscription.
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.33 per issue
SAVE
4%
$25.99

View Issues

About Skeptical Inquirer

40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION PART II ODYSSEYS SCIENTIFIC SKEPTICISM NUCLEAR POWER and the Psychology of Evaluating Risk MICHAEL MANN and the Climate Wars Superstition Masquerading as Science

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
We conclude our fortieth anniversary celebration of the Skeptical Inquirer
NEWS AND COMMENT
August 2016 saw the end of arguments in the administrative
The news undoubtedly won’t faze committed “chemtrail” believers who long
Belief in magic is connected to a lack of economic
A visitor to a famous—and famously haunted—hotel in Colorado claimed
On August 5, 2015, contractors working for the U.S. Environmental
A young woman was killed in April 2016 outside of
A show that aired in February claimed that the Apollo
INTERVIEW
Physicist and CSI Fellow Mark Boslough interviewed noted climatologist and geophysicist Michael Mann, who will be speaking at CSICon Las Vegas
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
Joe Nickell, PhD, is a skeptical demonologist. His many books
PSYCHIC VIBRATIONS
Sheaffer’s “Psychic Vibrations” column has appeared in the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Focus on Community-Based Strategies and Avoid Denigrating Parents
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Benjamin Radford is a research fellow at the Committee for
NOTES ON A STRANGE WORLD
Massimo Polidoro is an investigator of the paranormal, lecturer, and
ODYSSEYS IN SCIENTIFIC SKEPTICISM
I needed a work-study job, and the new physical anthropologist
I discovered the Skeptical Inquirer shortly after its name change
I was delighted to be invited to contribute to this
Recently, the science writer John Horgan took skeptics to task
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer are celebrating
Growing up in Salinas, California, during the 1970s, if you
When I was twelve years old, UFOs were real. More
For someone who may well be the only full-time skeptical
For the twenty-fifth anniversary observance of CSICOP (now CSI) and
ARTICLE
Could it be that opponents of nuclear energy contribute to worsening global warming by failing to evaluate its risk rationally?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Geoffrey Dean’s SI article “Does Astrology Need to Be True?
THE LAST LAUGH
November 4, 1936: After Richard S. Lambert was said to