SkeptiCal 2021 – Online
SOMETHING SKEPTICAL THIS WAY COMES…
WHAT: Who’s Making All Those Scam Calls?
Everyone has experienced the call. “This is Alex from the credit card company. We have a refund we want to give you that has to be deposited directly into your bank account. What is your bank account number?” or words to that effect. Or maybe “Alex” (or “Vicki”, or “Josh”) has bad news: your credit rating will plummet if you don’t send his/her company $200 immediately. What’s your credit card number? Calls like this bilk tens of thousands of people – many of them elderly – out of billions of dollars every year. What happens when a reporter traces one of these calls back to its source – in this case, to an Indian boiler room – with the assistance of a Brit hacker. Who is making all those scam calls, anyway, and what’s their story?
WHO: Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is a prize-winning reporter who worked for Science magazine until 2014. A contributing writer to the New York Times, the New Yorker, National Geographic, The Guardian, and other publications. A one-time crime reporter, he has long been interested in scams and frauds. His best-selling spy thriller, The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell, was described as “telling a story that would make a kickass movie”. It has, in fact, been optioned by Hollywood.
WHEN: Thursday 11 November 7:30PM
Where: Online. Details to come.
WHAT: Dangers of the “Lost Civilization” Trope
Archaeological finds are often interpreted in popular science through the ‘lost civilization’ trope: once great metropolises and their people that mysteriously vanished in history. Although ruins suggest the abandonment of a specific location at a point in time, they do not suggest that its occupants and their culture disappeared; most often people simply moved somewhere else for a variety of reasons and their descendants and culture exist to this day in some form. By labelling a people as ‘lost’ in the past we erase or minimize their descendants and culture in the present. This talk focuses on Cahokia, one of the most frequently mentioned ‘lost civilizations’ in the world, and its post-abandonment history.
WHO: A.J. White is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. He holds a M.S. in geology from Long Beach State University and is chiefly interested in intersections of climate change and cultural change in the past. His methodological focus is the use of human fecal biomarkers to link archaeological and paleoclimatic data. He enjoys walking with his wife, son, and dog and making videos about local history and science.
WHEN: Thursday 12 December 7:30PM