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!
Daniel Loxton of "Junior Skeptic" fame (http://www.skeptic.com/junior_skeptic/) with the assistance of 13 prominent skeptics, has prepared a document intended to encourage skeptics to become "skeptical activists", sharing their ideas about science, skepticism, evaluations of the paranormal, etc. Skeptical activism, in the opinion of the authors, is something all of us can engage in, with positive results for critical thinking, and the appreciation of science. A "bulleted list" of the points can be found on the Skeptics site at http://www.skeptic.com/?article=WhatDoIDoNext To see the full document, go to another link on the Skeptics site http://www.skeptic.com/downloads/WhatDoIDoNext.pdf Feedback is solicited at the Skeptic forum
"Wonderfest" is an annual Bay Area science festival featuring talks and discussions about science. Held in the fall on adjacent days at Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley, the 2008 Wonderfest was particularly well attended. For those of you who were unable to attend, you now can see three of the discussions online. Go to www.wonderfest.org to see Does Anything Happen at Random? A discussion between Persi Diaconis, Prof. of Statistics & Mathematics, Stanford and Daniel Fisher, Prof. of Applied Physics, Stanford Will Genetics Allow Us to Revive Extinct Species? A discussion between Ronald Davis, Prof. of Biochemistry & Genetics, Stanford and David Haussler, Prof. of Biomolecular Engineering, UC Santa Cruz Are Dreams Psychologically Significant? A discussion between William Dement, Prof. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science, Stanford and Sharon Keenan, Founder, School of Sleep Medicine, Palo Alto
Couldn't make it to Tuesday's Ask a Scientist lecture on Bigfoot? Well, eventually you'll be able to watch it on fora.tv, but until then, here's a bit of blog coverage to tide you over: The Snitch (SF Weekly): Ask a Scientist: Sorry, Bigfoot Probably Doesn't Exist. But If He Did, He Would Be Taller Than a Bear Metousiosis: Science Cafe: Eugenie Scott — Bigfoot and Other Wild Men of the Forest There was also a negative post from someone who didn't actually attend, and it makes for a glorious game of Conservative Bingo: -San Francisco bashing -insulting a woman's appearance -confusing separation of church and state with anti-religiousness -assuming morality requires religion -invoking
BAS member and skeptical satirist, Paul DesOrmeaux, has published a new article, "The Evolution of Intelligent Design," in the Skeptical Briefs newsletter. He presents a concise, chronological, and arbitrary timeline that more or less accurately presents the history and ???facts??? behind the development of creationism, creation, science, intelligent design, and more importantly, scientific illiteracy. He claims that the article???s contents have been painstakingly researched, and for all intents and purposes, the information provided is ???hysterically??? correct. You be the judge. The article is available at cnyskeptics.org with permission from the Editor of Skeptical Briefs.
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!
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!
--- Wednesday November 19, at 4 pm: "Your Fiction Science Defense Kit: Dealing with Astrology, UFO's, and Other Astronomical Pseudo-sciences" A non-technical talk by Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College Harney Science Center, Room 127 University of San Francisco Physics and Astronomy Department Colloquium; free and open to educators and students. For a campus map, see: http://www.usfca.edu/online/gen_info/map_c.html (Please allow yourself time to park and find the room. Street parking around campus is not always easy to find.) An enormous amount of media attention has been given to some pretty amazing claims on the fringes of astronomy. These include the idea that your life path and romantic destiny are determined by the position of objects in the sky at the moment of your birth; that extraterrestrial space-craft have regularly landed on our planet (and kidnapped innocent citizens without being noticed); and that an ancient race left us a message on the planet Mars in the shape of a human face. In this illustrated talk, astronomer and popular lecturer Andrew Fraknoi will discuss the most famous "fiction science" claims related to astronomy, and provide the background and analysis needed to appreciate them properly. He will share some rece
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!
BAS member and BASIS contributor Paul DesOrmeaux has an article in the November/December Skeptical Inquirer titled "More Cool Careers for Dummies: Ghost Hunter". Gotta admit, Paul sure has that Halloween vibe. BASIS readers will recall Paul's acupuncture article, available at http://www.baskeptics.org/category/medicine/acupuncture . An earlier SI Forum article by Paul was published in the March/April SI and was titled "Cool Careers for Dummies: Psychic Detective". It is available online at http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-34419223_ITM. If you're not familiar with accessmylibrary.com, it is a truly cool site. You need to have a library card to access the full article -- but you should support your local library anyway.