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67 MIN READ TIME

Just Asking Questions

Q: “I enjoyed your recent investigation into the 2016 Mall of America’s black Santa outrage, and I have a question regarding ‘asking questions.’ How do you tell the difference between someone with a genuine inquiry about something and an ideologue attempting to steer the debate in a specific direction?”

—Al C.

A: I received this query in response to my research into an ugly episode of racial hatred that tainted the 2016 holiday season. The Mall of America hired a jolly bearded man named Larry Jefferson as one of its Santas. Jefferson, a retired Army veteran, was the mall’s first African American Santa, and the local newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, carried a story about it on December 1. Later that night an editorial page editor for the Tribune, Scott Gillespie, tweeted: “Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America’s first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!”

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - Skeptical Inquirer March/April 2018
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About Skeptical Inquirer

The War on Science, Anti-Intellectualism, and ‘Alternative Ways of Knowing’ in 21st-Century America

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Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
When CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer were founded, in 1976,
NEWS AND COMMENT
A staple of science fiction has always been aliens from
In December 2017, The New York Times reported on the
It resembles a scene from a James Bond film. Between
A committee of twenty Cuban scientists tasked with examining the
Six new fellows have been elected to the Committee for
It’s finally happened. Homeopathic remedies are going to come under
Julie Payette is far from your usual bureaucratic official. Even
New Mexico has a vibrant scientific co mmunity, with two
COMMENTARY
I have often written in the Skeptical Inquirer about how
CONFERENCE REPORT
A Festival of Scientific Skepticism or a Theme Park for Science and Reason? CSICon Las Vegas 2017 Had It All
Center for Inquiry (CFI) Communications Director Paul Fidalgo covered CSICon 2017 “live” for CFI Live in a series of brief reports on CFI’s website. Here are a few selections. (For others, go to centerforinquiry.live/2017.)
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
David Dominé is author of a series of three books
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Harnessing the Power of Opinion-Leaders across Communities
BEHAVIOR & BELIEF
Let us stipulate that there is no magic. Sleight-of-hand, deception,
FEATURES
The decades-long academic assault on science has bewildered the American public about the role and function of science, promoted anti-intellectualism, and politically empowered purveyors of supernaturalism and paranormal beliefs
There are several flagrant examples of hype from cancer and cardiac therapy. The drugs Avastin and Opdivo, which have serious problems, have been greatly overhyped. Statins, which are effective in saving lives from heart attacks and stroke, have been subjected to negative hype meant to discourage their use
Here’s a geologist’s critical analysis of false perceptions held by many creationists about the origin of the Grand Canyon and the age of the Earth
Rather than creating a glorious new literature of positive art, Colin Wilson delivered an odd mix of dodgy philosophy, pulp novels, and paranormal studies—the latter often downright silly
REVIEWS
For most of human history, people have assumed that some
When odd birds sing their strange songs, does it change
NEW AND NOTABLE
Listing does not preclude future review
You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In Jeffrey Debies-Carl’s conspiracy legends article in the November/December 2017
THE LAST LAUGH
I’m not sure I get the point of the story