It's been a busy time for Bay Area Skeptics. There was a large San Francisco Bay Area skeptics contingent at the recent The Amaz!ng Meeting. This is the critical thinking conference hosted by the James Randi Educational Foundation held annually in Las Vegas. We have also revived our SF Bay Area Skeptics lecture series. This commenced with "Are We Alone?", a fascinating talk by Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist of the SETI@home project at the University of California, Berkeley. We've also been holding regular Skeptics in the Pub events throughout the Bay Area; including a night with Skeptics' Guide to the Universe's Jay Novella, and Skeptical Inquirer's Ben Radford. We're planning some exciting guests for our future events. Visit this site and check out our Facebook group for upcoming talks and pub nights. See you at one of our lectures or Skeptics in the Pub events soon!
There are still signs posted on telegraph poles throughout the Bay Area, seeking information about missing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu who disappeared from outside her home in Tracy, CA, on March, 27. Tragically, we now know that the little girl was murdered. As reported in Inside Bay Area, Los Angeles-based psychic Dani Pedlow claims that she assisted Tracy police in solving the case. Pedlow asserts that she predicted the location where the little girl's body would be found. For this supposed assistance, she believes she is entitled to a portion of a $30,000 reward. Pedlow sent a letter to the Tracy Police Department, telling them so. However, Tracy Police deny that Pedlow contacted them for anything more than the reward, "We never reviewed or utilized any information from a psychic during this investigation," Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said. This is fortunate, since there is no historical evidence to suggest that psychic detectives
armers are turning to water witching during the long Californian drought. The drought has lasted for two years so far, and desperate farmers are seeking assistance from dowsers in Firebaugh, near Fresno. Water witching, better known as water divining or water dowsing, is the practice of locating water, metal, lost objects or people using sticks, wires, rods, pendulums or other instruments. By any name, with any device, it has never been proven to work. The supposed success rate of dowsers is "100%", but the evidence is anecdotal. Not what I would want to rely on before spending thousands of dollars digging the earth on a "hunch". The dowser's responses are best explained scientifically as the Ideomotor Effect. Water Diving tests have been the staple claim of the James Randi Educational Foundation's
Happy 200th (posthumous) Birthday to Charles Darwin. He doesn't look a day over 190... This year marks the 200th year since Darwin was born, on February 12, 1809. Celebrating this date, known as Darwin Day, is celebrating science, skepticism and humanity; and most of all, our better understanding of the way the world works. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the evolutionary biologist's seminal work, On the Origin of Species. To celebrate these two anniversaries, there are festivities throughout the world, and of course, across the Bay Area. The festivities have already begun, with a lecture by our own Dr Genie Scott at the University of California Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley. The event was extremely popular! On Sunday 8, 2009 the tireless Genie will be also be speaking at Evolutionpalooza!, a Darwin Day celebration to be held at San Francisco Main Branch Public Library. There will be other speakers, guests, games, drinks, and cake! On Darwin Day itself, there will be an informal lecture at the California Academy of Sciences
We're on Facebook! We've started a Bay Area Skeptics page on Facebook so we can connect with more Bay Area skeptics, and you can interact with us. Joining our group is another way that you can find out about our upcoming events; our Skeptics in the Pub gatherings, our lectures, and other activities. It's also a great way to meet other skeptics, both local, and global. See you there!
I recently trekked up north to Bigfoot Country. This prompted Genie Scott to request that if I should encounter Bigfoot, "Get an interview for my talk!" I traveled the Bigfoot Highway, visited Bluff Creek where the infamous Patterson-Gimlinfootage was filmed, and stopped by the Willow Creek - China Flat Museum, a center dedicated to local history, and Bigfoot lore. Unfortunately for Genie's talk, and cryptozoologist's worldwide, I encountered some fascinating anecdotal evidence, but I didn't encounter any historical evidence, or Bigfoot... California claims more Bigfoot sightings than anywhere else in the world. (Other cultures have different variants, such as the Yowie of my native Australia.) But does Bigfoot call the San Francisco Bay Area "home"? Like the USGS earthquake map, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) have a Bigfoot map that pinpoints sightings reported throughout the country. According to this database, Big
Last weekend I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to interview Ben Radford, Managing Editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, for the Skeptic Zone Podcast. Radford, an intrepid scientific paranormal investigator, got his revenge when he sprung an interview on me! Representing the Bay Area Skeptics, I appeared on Science Watch, the weekly live show and podcast of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason. We discussed issues of paranormal and pseudoscience in the Bay Area, including failed psychic political predictions and the recent Bigfoot hoax. We also mentioned Bay Area Skeptic's own Genie Scott, and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). With alien-plagued Roswell, New Age Santa Fe and a slew of local ghost stories, New Mexico could quite possibly rival California as America's most supposedly 'supernatural' state!
Wonderfest is the San Francisco Bay Area Festival of Science. This is a fun and informative weekend of seminars, discussions, debates, competitions, comedy and much more. Tucker Hiatt, a member of our Board of Directors, is also the Director of Wonderfest 2008! As a part of Wonderfest's Bay Area Science Expo, the Bay Area Skeptics will be in attendance. As a fellow Board member, I'll be representing our organization, so stop by and say "hi"! We'll have flyers, copies of our BASIS newsletter, a sign-up list for you to receive our newsletter, access to our website, and a selection of skeptical magazines that illustrate our interests and objectives. Where will the Bay Area Skeptics be? Saturday, November 1, 4-7 PM Stanford University Hewlett Teaching Center Sunday, November 2, 11.30-2.30 PM University of California, Berkeley Bank of America Forum (Next to the Anderson Auditorium in the Haas School of Business) See you there!