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New! Boston Skeptics Slack Chat Room We're taking Boston Skeptics to the next level by introducing a Slack chat room for Boston Skeptics to keep and touch, share ideas, and be skeptical in near-real time with each other! Don't have...

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New! Boston Skeptics Slack Chat Room We're taking Boston Skeptics to the next level by introducing a Slack chat room for Boston Skeptics to keep and touch, share ideas, and be skeptical in near-real time with each other! Don't have...

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Boston Skeptics in the Theater & Pub | Bill Nye: Science... Come join the Boston Skeptics at the Brattle Theatre on December 3, where we’ll be attending a screening of a new film about Bill Nye, aptly named “Bill Nye: Science Guy.” We’ll go somewhere nearby...

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October 2017 Organizational Meeting Updates Thanks again to everyone who attended our October 2017 organizational meeting. There were a few items we had drafted and captured more ideas around that we would love to open up for comment and feedback...

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Support a fellow skeptic–being sued for speaking out

Posted on : Jan-14-2018 | By : Mary Mangan | In : Blog Post, Member Post, skepticism

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Many of you probably know Britt Marie Hermes. She was trained as a naturopath but had a Damascene conversion when she began to practice and realized what was actually going on. Her story has been told a number of times, but her own words are the most remarkable to read. You can read more about the revelations she had at Science Based Medicine in this post: ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out.

She has continued to make science-based noise about the issues of the training of naturopaths, as well as shine a spotlight on harmful treatments. In fact, she tried to warn us here in Massachusetts that we were about to be beset by that terrible naturopathic licensing that gives a veneer of legitimacy to these bad practices.

I really did think that the legislation had died a natural death at the end of the previous session in the summer. Out of nowhere the zombie had returned. She was right. But I wasn’t able to figure out how to combat it. I wrote to the Governor’s office, implored him not to sign it, but over the Christmas holidays it went under the radar and became real. Alas. We need to organize better on policy issues and learn to influence these things.

Still, I was really glad she was trying to help us. And it’s time to return the favor. Britt has been sued by one of the bad actors that she has called out. A woman who runs a cancer clinic offering baking soda treatments (!!!) seems to dislike the spotlight on these practices. She has sued Britt for defamation. You can hear from Britt here. She describes the situation and provides the background for you as well.

A legal defense fundraiser on her behalf is being held by Australian Skeptics. You can see their description of it, and you can donate to the effort: BRITT HERMES LEGAL COSTS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN.

If you can, please consider donating to this fund. Britt’s voice is important on this issue, and we need to ensure that she is not silenced. But there’s a larger issue as well–all of us skeptics who call out bad actors are at risk from legal harassment by cranks and quacks. This happened to Steven Novella not long ago.

Cancer quackery gets on my last nerve–misleading vulnerable people in harmful ways and taking their money at this perilous time for them. Spend some of your money to stop them from getting away with it.

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Edit to add: There are other folks describing more details of Britt’s story or other related issues. I’ll link them here for further context.

Orac includes a good section about other lawsuits by quacks to hit the skeptic community: Defend Britt Hermes from a naturopathic cancer quack trying to silence her through legal thuggery

Kevin Folta delivers the bat signal: Nerd Shield Activate! Defend Britt from Fake-Medicine-Industry Intimidation

Pharmacist Scott Gavura adds: Naturopathy’s fiercest and most-knowledgeable critic is being sued by a naturopath

New! Boston Skeptics Slack Chat Room

Posted on : Dec-17-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post

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We’re taking Boston Skeptics to the next level by introducing a Slack chat room for Boston Skeptics to keep and touch, share ideas, and be skeptical in near-real time with each other!

Don’t have a Boston Skeptics Slack account yet? Don’t worry! You can sign up for one here. (Note: this account will only work for the Boston Skeptics Slack chat room, not any other Slack chat room)

 

Boston Skeptics in the Theater & Pub | Bill Nye: Science Guy Movie Screening

Posted on : Nov-20-2017 | By : Mary Mangan | In : movie, Skeptics in the Pub

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Come join the Boston Skeptics at the Brattle Theatre on December 3, where we’ll be attending a screening of a new film about Bill Nye, aptly named “Bill Nye: Science Guy.” We’ll go somewhere nearby in Harvard Square afterwards to grab some food and drinks, talk about the film, and just hangout!

General admission costs $11, student/member admission costs $9, and senior/child admission costs $8. You can buy tickets for the December 3 5:00 PM showing here.

Here’s a blurb about the film from its promotional site:

“Bill Nye is a man on a mission: to stop the spread of anti-scientific thinking across the world. The former star of the popular kids show “Bill Nye The Science Guy” is now the CEO of The Planetary Society, an organization founded by Bill’s mentor Carl Sagan, where he’s launching a solar propelled spacecraft into the cosmos and advocating for the importance of science, research, and discovery in public life. With intimate and exclusive access —as well as plenty of wonder and whimsy — this behind-the-scenes portrait of Nye follows him as he takes off his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution, and a science-based world view. The film features Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and many others.”

Watch the trailer here!

BILL NYE SCIENCE GUY Official Theatrical Trailer from jason sussberg on Vimeo.

October 2017 Organizational Meeting Updates

Posted on : Nov-19-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post

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Thanks again to everyone who attended our October 2017 organizational meeting. There were a few items we had drafted and captured more ideas around that we would love to open up for comment and feedback from folks who weren’t able to attend. Specifically, we started drafting a charter, roles & responsibilities document, and a brainstorm of topics/activities of interests.

Please take a look at them below and let us know what you think via comments in each Google Doc! For roles & responsibilities, we’re more than happy to have folks volunteer to take on different ones if they’re interested :)

Boston Skeptics Organizational Meeting

Posted on : Oct-22-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post

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When: Monday, October 30 @ 7 PM

Where: Cambridge Public Library Community Room

RSVP here

Attention Boston Skeptics members, old and new! We’re holding an organizational meeting for all of us to regroup and brainstorm ideas for the future of Boston Skeptics. This meeting is open to anyone who is interested in Boston Skeptics, whether or not you’ve been to past meetups. Here’s draft the agenda for the meeting, but bring your ideas for events and locations!

We’ll be meeting at the Cambridge Public Library Community Room, which is located on the library’s L2 second floor underground (as shown below). The Cambridge Public Library is a ~9 minute walk from the Harvard Square T station.

Since we’re allowed to have refreshments in the Community Room, we’re encouraging anyone who attends to bring along a snack or (non-alcoholic) drink to share (anything Halloween-themed is a plus!).

Cambridge Public Library Community Room map

Cambridge Public Library Community Room map

 

 

Food EvolutionFilm Screening and Panel Discussion

Posted on : Sep-07-2017 | By : Dave Thomas | In : Event, movie

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Food Evolution is a new documentary film about the science of, and controversies around, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The film is narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and follows scientists and opponents of GMOs as they confront policy issues and each other. Farmers explain their experiences with the technology, and with lack of technology. 

With only 37% of U.S. adults believing GMOs are safe compared to 88% of scientists, there is clearly a misinformation problem. But who is misinformed and why? [Pew Survey]. Food Evolution seeks to explore this topic by challenging popular beliefs about GMOs, and asking viewers to think about how they evaluate the information and the sources they rely on.

This is the first Boston-area theater viewing opportunity. A post-film discussion panel, moderated by Christopher Lydon of WBUR’s Open Source program, will allow attendees to further discuss the issues of science, the role of filmmaking and media in shaping beliefs, and more, with local scientists and food activists.
Tickets: $14 general / $10 Coolidge members. 

They can be pre-ordered online or purchased in advance at the box office. http://www.coolidge.org/films/food-evolution 

This Food Evolution screening and discussion panel is co-sponsored by MIT Technology Review, Boston Skeptics, The Long Now Boston group, and the Coolidge Corner Theater

SitP: Dr. Clay Jones on Folklore in Modern Pediatric Medicine

Posted on : Jul-23-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post

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Clay Jones, M.D. is a pediatrician practicing at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA, and a regular contributor to the Science-Based Medicine (SBM) blog. He primarily cares for healthy newborns and hospitalized children, and devotes his full time to educating pediatric residents and medical students.

Dr. Jones first became aware of and interested in the incursion of pseudoscience into his chosen profession while completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital a decade ago. He has since focused his efforts on teaching the application of critical thinking and scientific skepticism to the practice of pediatric medicine. Dr. Jones can be found on Twitter as @skepticpedi and is the co-host of The Prism Podcast with SBM contributor Grant Ritchey.

Come join us from 7-9pm on Monday, August 21st at the Sunset Cantina at 916 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 as Dr. Jones presents his speech from the 2017 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism about the role of ancient folklore in modern beliefs about health and medicine, especially in pediatrics.

How to RSVP

On Facebook

OR

On Meetup

 

Gauging interest in “Food Evolution” screening in Boston area

Posted on : Jul-15-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post

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Food Evolution is a new documentary that explores the science around GMOs as well as the public debate/perception about them. Boston Skeptics is looking to setup a screening of the film in the Boston area (Cambridge/Somerville/Boston), but we need at least 50 people with confirmed attendance to do so.

If you’re interested, please fill out this survey so we can get a rough headcount of people who would like attend (also share with anyone you think would also be interested!):

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8LM2BSM

SitP: Heina Dadabhoy from Islam to Atheism.

Posted on : Jan-14-2016 | By : John | In : Event, local, Skeptics in the Pub

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Heina Dadabhoy

A ninja warrior welcomes guests to Convergence/Skepchickcon

Boston Skeptics welcomes our January guest speaker, atheist feminist secular humanist (and many other positive adjectives) blogger Heina Dadabhoy.

Heina will be speaking about her path from Islam to atheism. She is currently writing a book called A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam, which will be published in March and is available for preorder on Amazon.

Book Cover

A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam



Location: We will be meeting at 7PM on Monday, January 25, 2016 on the third floor of The Hong Kong Restaurant, 1238 Mass Ave in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Please come a little early if possible to order dinner, a snack or drinks and chat with your fellow Skeptics.

RSVP if that’s your thing on our Facebook event page. (It’s not required, but does give us some idea how many people are planning to attend.)

Photo courtesy Jamie Bernstein.

Book Club: “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Posted on : Jul-17-2015 | By : John | In : Book Club

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The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies

This month’s book is The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, an oncologist at the CU/NYU Presbytarian Hospital and a wonderful writer. He is also assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University A former Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford (where he received a PhD studying cancer-causing viruses) and from Harvard Medical School.[*]

This is quite a long and deep book, as it must be for such a vast subject. Cancer is not one disease, but hundreds of related diseases, with disparate causes, and the story of how it afflicts humanity and the long search for prevention, treatment and cures requires in depth discussion. Fortunately, we’ve had two months to read it, but if you’re just starting it now, you’re really going to have to cram for the examdiscussion! Still more fortunately, Dr. Mukherjee is a wonderful writer, able to explain complicated scientific concepts with great facility, explore history without getting bogged down in tedious lists of names and dates, and always keeping his deep sympathy for the doctors and researchers struggling to treat a disease that was once invariably fatal, and most especially their and his patients and their families.