SkeptiCal 2018 - Save the date

Look up. It's science with the SciSchmooze 4.16.18

Greetings Fans of Science,

It seems like the week has gone pretty quick and there are some cool opportunities to see the best of what science has to offer coming up. But first I want to share a couple of articles about good, or in this case bad, science. We really do need to be able to recognize both. I think though that it might be slightly more important to recognize bad science. If we can't recognize it we might just be tricked into something dangerous to our understanding of life and this amazing universe we share with X number of life forms here and on other planets. (Of course that is assuming that life can only occur on a planet!) For instance, that old standby that just won't go away, vaccinations. Bad Science Episode 1 – Why Size Matters to be able to recognize bad research one clue is study size. Consider Bad Science Episode 2 – What Is A Study And Why We Care. There are threats to us and science in high places!

There's a lot going on with space these days. TESS is leaving very soon on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. Launch is set for 3:32:07-3:32:37 p.m. PDT on Monday. InSight will be launched from Vandenberg on May, 5 4:05-6:05 a.m. PDT. We won't see much but the folks in SoCal will have some great views of the launch. Be sure to watch for news on TESS. More great science is going to space both with TESS and InSight. InSight is on the road right now as the InSight Mars Roadshow. The great news is that the roadshow will be stopping in San Francisco at the...

The Human Drive to Explain

(a SkepTalk by TaniaTania Lombrozo, PhdTania Lombrozo, Phd Lombrozo, PhD, presented 8 February)

Stephen J. Gould described humans as “the primates who tell stories.” Psychologist Robyn Dawes took it one step further, arguing that we’re “the primates whose cognitive capacity shuts down in the absence of a story.” At BAS’s February SkepTalk, Dr. Tania Lombrozo, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley, asked: Why are we so...

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Neuroscience and the Great Questions

(Any errors in this accountRansom StephensRansom Stephens are solely my fault - David Almandsmith)

SkepTalk by Ransom Stephens PhD on 14 January 2018

This SkepTalk combined science, mirth, and intellectual acumen; a genuine treat. Dr. Stephens brought the audience up to date with fruits of neuroscience research and melded them with an evolutionary perspective.

Dr. Stephens began by pointing out that neuroscience in some sense is self-referential - a case of the brain trying to understand itself.

He then warned against over-simplified ideas such as strict roles for the left brain versus roles for the right brain. There are indeed some differences in roles but...

Fundraising Campaign for Skeptic Britt Hermes

Britt Hermes is an Britt HermesBritt HermesAmerican, a former naturopath, a noted skeptical campaigner, and a PhD student studying in Germany. She has spent much time and effort lately in campaigning against naturopathic practices. She is the author of the blog Naturopathic Diaries.

She has now been taken to court in Germany by U.S.A.-based naturopath ‘Dr’ Colleen Huber, who is claiming that Britt has defamed her. Huber is an outspoken critic of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in cancer treatment. Instead, she uses ‘natural’ therapies that include intravenous infusions of vitamin C and baking soda.

For this reason, Australian Skeptics Inc is managing a fundraising campaign to assist Britt in her current legal action.

[Editor: To consider helping Ms. Hermes, please read Fundraising Campaign for Britt Hermes.]

Top Ten Myths of Homelessness

A SkepTalk by Carrie Ellen Sager, J.D., Homelessness Program Coordinator, Marin County
14 December 2017Carrie Ellen Sager

An upbeat talk on homelessness? Well, the problem of homelessness in the Bay Area may border on intractability and underscores the failures of United States' political economics, but Ms. Sager's message, pace, tone, and even her smile made this a lively, enjoyable SkepTalk.

She organized her description of the challenges and successes of Marin County's homeless program by...

Just One Drop of Pseudoscience

On Thursday, October 11, 2017, Dr. Eugenie Scott and I scoped out the pro-Homeopathy movie "Just One Drop" at the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF). There was another showing on the following Saturday and one of our goals was to determine whether a public protest was warranted. We’d previously crafted and sent a letter (via both e-mail and snail mail) to the Executive Director of the film festival expressing our concern but did not receive a response.

Revising My Opinion of the Erin Brokavich Case...

If you're over 30, the name Erin Brokavich likely conjures up images of a working-class hero, fighting for the cancer-ridden little guys against a Erin Brokavich (2000)Erin Brokavich (2000)corrupt multi-billion dollar corporation and winning millions for them.

Anyone who saw the eponymous film starring Julia Roberts and Albert Finny was likely wiping away joyful tears by the end, satisfied that the little guys had gotten justice because of this brave woman (who wasn't even a lawyer!). I count myself among the acolytes in those early years after the film's release. Since then, I've gotten new data. As a result, I've changed my mind....

SkeptiCal 2017

Special Report by Susan Gerbic

(Repinted with permission from  The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)

Race, Pornography, Fake News, Eclipse, Brain Myths, Popular Assumptions, and the Magic of Science: those terms sum up the content of the eighth annual SkeptiCal conference held in the Shattuck Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday June 11, 2017. SkeptiCal is a one-day skeptic conference brought to us by the Bay Area Skeptics and the Sacramento Area Skeptics.

Photo by Susan GerbicPhoto by Susan Gerbic

This is the first time being held at the Shattuck, but the event has floated between Berkeley and Oakland, California, over the last eight years,. This time because of the location, the organizers decided to only meet in one room with no breakout sessions running concurrently as it had in the past. I have attended all eight conferences as it is only a two-hour drive from my home in Salinas. Each one has its own flavor, this one seemed...

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