SkeptiCal 2015 - Set Your Calendars

Saturday 6 June 2015 is the date for this immensely popular gathering of scientists, skeptoids, geeks, educators, and activists.

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SkeptiCAL 2015 will be held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center - close to BART, ethnic restaurants, open-air markets, and colorful pubs.

Join the Bay Area Skeptics (or renew) to receive a $10 discount from the full registration fee.

As per usual, we have a great lineup of speakers and workshops. As soon as the dust settles, you can find details at the SkeptiCal Conference website.


SciSchmooze Weekly Events Newsletter

It's just about that time to join the biggest science party of the year - the Bay Area Science Festival kicks off this week with dozens and dozens of events over the next two weeks. There is almost 150 public science events over the next two weeks - the busiest weeks for public science events in the Bay Area all year.

On Thursday 10/23, there will be a partial eclipse of the sun visible in the Bay Area. Andy Fraknoi has your tips for eclipse viewing below, including a list of sites to view the eclipse (use safety!). Andy is also giving a talk this Saturday night (10/25) on Mt. Tam followed by stargazing (weather permitting), presented by Wonderfest. I'm sure there will be plenty of other eclipse hunters in attendance ready to swap stories!

"A partial eclipse of the Sun, where the Moon covers only a section of the Sun, will be visible from North America the afternoon on Thursday, Oct. 23. From the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sun’s area will be about 40% covered at maximum eclipse (3:15 pm). Thus, the best time to view the eclipse will be roughly between 3 and 3:30 pm Pacific time. (Looking at the Sun for more than a glance without the proper protection or filter is dangerous to your eyes.) This eclipse will not be total anywhere on Earth. Even where a significant part of the Sun is covered by the Moon, the eclipse will not make the day look darker. Thus most people will go about their afternoon business, completely unaware that the eclipse is going on."

Operation Bumblebee stings psychic medium Chip Coffey...

One of the most annoying parts of the "world of woo" is people who claim to have psychic powers. Although none has ever actually shown evidence of this ability under strict observation, it's a multi-million dollar business, with some in the field becoming quite prominent. Chip Coffey may not be one of the biggest players, but he's had his 15 minutes of fame with A&E's "Psychic Kids" program and a few other television appearances. Operation Bumblebee (San Jose)Operation Bumblebee (San Jose) A group of us wanted to see whether we could trick him into communicating with dead people who don't actually exist. So after a lot of work and planning, we did just that.

My Magical Weekend With James Randi...

I hope that each person reading this article can, someday, have a weekend like the one I just experienced. It was, as the kids say, epic.An Honest LiarAn Honest Liar

Earlier this month, I got a message from my friend, the filmmaker Tyler Meason, letting me know that he’d be in San Francisco on Sunday, June 15th for the screening of “An Honest Liar,” the documentary he co-created with Justin Weinstein that chronicles the life of world-renowned magician and skeptic, James “The Amazing” Randi. I purchased tickets and said that I would see him there. A few weeks passed, and I got another message from Tyler, this time letting me know that James Randi himself would be attending the screening, and suggesting that I look into asking him to make an appearance for the Bay Area Skeptics.

Acts & Facts & Pacifiers

(Reprinted from the National Center for Science Education.)

Acts & Chelyabinsk meteor. © 2013 Alexandr IvanovChelyabinsk meteor. © 2013 Alexandr IvanovFacts is the monthly publication of the Institute for Creation Research, which equips “believers with evidence of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research…”

Here at NCSE, we maintain a subscription to Acts & Facts to remain informed of the ICR’s stance on various topics and as a reminder of what we face in defending science education. The May 2014 issue has an article by Dr. Jason Lisle—ICR's Director of Research—that is a case study in avoiding worry and shirking responsibility by donning blinders in adopting a human-centric view of the universe.

"I fear the coming of the Big Stupid"

Jon CarrollJon CarrollJon Carroll understands, promotes, and appreciates science, which we in the Bay Area can be grateful for.

The Psychology of the Perfect Holiday Season

Are you all "wrapped up" over the stress of the holiday season? If so, it may help to turn to science to make your holiday experience a bit less stressful...Happy HolidaysHappy Holidays

Sugar and Hyperactivity: The Most Common Halloween Myth...

After bringing home their colorful, sugar-laden bounty from a successful night of Trick or Treat, millions of AmericanHappy HalloweenHappy Halloween children will spend the coming weeks locked in a battle of wills with their parents over how much of the spoils they are allowed to enjoy, and how often they'll have access to it. One of the most common strategies parents employ, based upon a supposed connection between sugar and hyperactivity, will ensure that parents lose that least, in a scientific sense.

Left-Brained or Right-Brained?...

Although most people can provide you with scarcely more detail about the human brain than its existence and approximate location, one Left-Brained / Right-BrainedLeft-Brained / Right-Brainedof the most popular brain-related facts they often report with great certainty is that they are either Left- or Right-Brained. More specifically, "Left-Brained" people describe themselves analytical and logical, with a penchant for mathematics, while the "Right-Brained" report being creative and emotive, with more artistic and intuitive personalities. These self-reports are fraught with problems…not the least of which is the fact that the entire notion of “Left-Brained” or “Right-Brained” people is complete bunk.

Sheldon Helms talk in San Francisco

Sheldon HelmsSheldon Helms, a BAS Board Member, was featured at a gathering of the Atheist Alliance of San Francisco. The presentation title:
Gay Conversion Therapy: You Make Me Sick.

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