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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.

Schmoozing in Upcoming Festivity 10.16.17

Hello Sci-Schmoozers,

I had sincerely hoped after my last Schmooze that I would not have to write about more tragedies. Yet here I am hoping that we get through the North Bay wildfires soon. It's sad that so many people are out of their homes, while some missing or have lost their lives. As the firefighters go on tirelessly, all we can do is hope for everyone's safety and maybe help in small ways. I saw some very kind posts on Twitter with  people opening up their homes to those who were looking for help. The California Academy of Sciences and San Francisco Zoo have also taken an initiative in opening their doors to provide relief to those affected.

Secondly, I absolutely cannot move on before I address the other tragic incident this month — the loss of more than 50 innocent lives in Las Vegas on Oct 1. While the incident itself was devastating, it is sad that all we will do is pray and move on, hoping things to change without changing any policies. While we try to steer away from politics in the Schmooze, I will just let the  statistics speak for the need of stricter gun laws.

Moving on to cheerful topics, I attended the...

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...

Beyond the Choir - Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

A SkepTalk by Susan Gerbic on 11 May 2017GSoW

We should all applaud Susan Gerbic's impossible mission: to keep Wikipedia free from promotions of pseudoscience. Amazingly, she has been remarkably successful due to her methods. She recruits volunteers to help in this mission, puts them through 'boot camp' so they know what to do and how to do it, and tracks everything that is accomplished.

Her cadre of recruits living around the world is the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, a.k.a. GSoW.

Because anybody can edit Wikipedia pages, making a change can...

An Invisible Plague: the Growing Threat of Tuberculosis

A SkepTalk by Dr. Lauren Popov on 13 April 2017

Dr. Popov’s cheerful voice contrasted strangely with the horror of tuberculosis; indeed, she commented on that herself. However, her upbeat delivery and highly informative details kept me and the rest of the audience captivated throughout her presentation.

She began by pointing out that:

  • Although the ebola virus outbreak that began in 2014 in West Africa killed about 9,000 people, a similar number of people die from tuberculosis every 44 hours

Report From SkeptiCal, the Northern California Science and Skepticism Conference

(The following is unabashedly stolen from The Center For Inquiry.)

Susan GerbicSkeptiCal2016
June 27, 2016

The seventh SkeptiCal was held Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the Oakland, CA, Asian Cultural Center. I’ve attended all seven, each is unique and I always leave feeling that I’ve had a great experience. This is billed as the Northern California Science and Skepticism Conference, and as usual for this specific event, is heavy on the science. The speakers are varied enough to keep the audience interested as you will soon see. The hosts are the Bay Area Skeptics led by Eugenie Scott and Sacramento Area Skeptics, Frank Mosher.

I attend as many skeptic conferences as I can, and each one has its own “flavor” and style. SkeptiCal differs from others by being a no-frills event, but without you noticing that those frills are missing. Many of the speakers are working scientists talking about their...

"Doing Good in the World - Prosocial Behavior" - Ep. 19 of ShelShocked...

During the holiday season, we usually start receiving messages about good cheer, Belinda CarlisleBelinda Carlislehope for the future, and volunteering to help those less fortunate. Even for those of us who are non-believers, it's a wonderful time of year.

Have you ever wondered what makes people "do good"?

A New Group: Silicon Valley Skeptics

...and our board president is giving a talk there!!!Eugenie Scott, PhD

Please welcome the Silicon Valley Skeptics to our extended community. They have a Meetup page HERE. If possible, attend the talk on December 4th by Dr. Eugenie Scott, board president of the Bay Area Skeptics.

What if 'Intelligent Design' Had Won? Reflecting on 10 Years Since Kitzmiller v. Dover

Ten years ago, the decision in Kitzmiller v Dover determined that

SkeptiCal-15 Speakers on Youtube!

New BAS Channel Announced

Ann Reid at SkeptiCal-15Ann Reid at SkeptiCal-15

Good news for SkeptiCal fans! (Of course you know SkeptiCal – it’s the northern California conference of science and critical thinking, sponsored by the Bay Area Skeptics and the Sacramento Skeptics. You knew that, didn’t you? Good).

BAS now has a Youtube channel and the first PLAYLIST presents...

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