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Delusions of the Imagination

In 1783 King Louis XVI of France organized a royal commission to investigate whether mesmerism was a real phenomenon or a sham. It is well known that Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier were authors of the Commission’s report. The report was translated into English and published in a 1996 issue of Skeptic magazine with a commentary by Michael Shermer, who noted:

Franklin and Lavoisier devised a test whereby some subjects would be deceived into thinking they were receiving the experimental treatment (magnetism) when they really were not, while others did receive the treatment and were told that they had not. The results were clear: the effects were due to the power of suggestion only.1

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Other Articles in this Issue


COLUMNS
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Are You An Unconscious Racist?
ARTICLES
The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization
UFOs and U-2s, Aliens and A-12s
WE SEEK TO ADDRESS A SINGULAR, SIMPLE QUESTION: are
How Atheists Differ in Their Views on God
SPECIAL SECTION AI DANGER
The human brain isn’t magic; nor are the problem-solving
OVER THE YEARS EXISTENTIAL THREAT WARNINGS have been
After over 50 years of mostly empty promises and disappointments
REVIEWS
Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole
A review of How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality by Richard G. Bribiescas
A Review of Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan.
Reviews of: Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and Swindles in American History by Nate Hendley Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff by Edward J. Balliesen Houdini’s ‘Girl Detective’ compiled by Tony Wolf The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For it…Every Time by Maria Konnikova
Review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.
JUNIOR SKEPTIC
We’ve all heard the story of Chicken Little—a fanciful