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SitP: Heina Dadabhoy from Islam to Atheism. [caption id="attachment_2139" align="alignright" width="239"] A ninja warrior welcomes guests to Convergence/Skepchickcon[/caption]Boston Skeptics welcomes our January guest speaker, atheist feminist secular...

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Book Club: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha... [caption id="attachment_2131" align="alignright" width="197"] The Emperor of All Maladies[/caption]This month's book is The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, an oncologist...

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SitP: David Ropeik and the Risk Perception Gap Update! Thanks to Andrea and Francois, we now have a video of David Ropeik's talk available on our

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SitP: Larry Gilbertson on GMOs and Biotech [caption id="attachment_2117" align="alignright" width="300"] Feeding the world[/caption]The population of the earth will exceed 9 billion people by 2050. Arable land is decreasing, dietary preferences...

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How to Have More Sex with Richard Wiseman

Posted on : 23-12-2009 | By : Rebecca | In : Event

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Friday, January 8
10pm
How to Have More Sex with Richard Wiseman
The Boston Skeptics present an evening with Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, magician, and author of books such as The Luck Factor, Quirkology, and 59 Seconds.
The Brattle Theatre
$10 (Buy Online Now!)
Facebook Event Page

Tell your friends, and some of your enemies as well!

Skeptics in the Pub: Holiday Party Edition! 12/21/09

Posted on : 16-12-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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UPDATE: Rebecca and Sid sent along a special holiday message wishing everyone well and… explaining how a Yankee Swap works.

Hey, gang! Sorry for the late notice, but there will be a Skeptics in the Pub event this month. We won’t have a speaker, though. Apparently, some skeptics have “lives” and “families” they want to “spend time with”. Weird.

Instead, we’ll meet at the same Skep-time, same Skep-drinkery on Monday, December 21, for some fun holiday shenanigans. (Remember: every time you don’t say the Ch-word, a fundie has an aneurysm.) Mostly, we’re just going to hang out and drink, but Rebecca informs me that there’s a holiday tradition called the “Yankee Swap”. Given the name, I assume all of you native New Englanders are already familiar with the concept, but I’ll explain it for the rest of us.

  • Bring a present.
  • Give your present to someone else.
  • Take their present.
  • ???
  • Profit.

We’ll have detailed rules for the swap at the event, but the important part is to bring a present. This is the perfect time to get rid of that ugly-ass sweater your grandma bought you last year, but only if you’re an asshole (like me). Seriously, though, don’t bring anything huge. It’s just a fun little swappy thing. You know, warm fuzzy kindergarten stuff.

There may also be a special bonus that we’re preparing for you. You won’t find out what it is unless you show up, so show up!

Remember, folks, that’s Monday, December 21, 7 pm, at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. Be seeing you!

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #2

Posted on : 13-12-2009 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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Our second BSBC meeting was a week ago and it was really good to see everyone again. For anyone who wasn’t there and is still interested in reading Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes, here are some of the discussion points that were brought up:

  • How different Western culture is from the Pirahã (pronounced pee-da-HAN) culture in that they have no social words like “hello” or “sorry” for “thanks” but instead they let their actions speak for them. (And we talked about the politics of saying hello in the hallway to everyone you pass by, with some bringing up interesting social algorithms related to when you say hi or whether to make eye contact, etc.)
  • The concept that the tribe has no specific word for color or numbers, but rather use a comparative system. (This point of the book is actually very hotly debated in the linguistics community.)
  • Whether or not the Noble Savage stereotype affects what the author is trying to say about the tribe.
  • How much parts of language of the tribe reminded us of the Star Trek: TNG episode entitled “Darmok”, where the aliens speak entirely in metaphor. (Yes, we are geeks.)
  • The reason that missionaries have been unable to convert the Pirahãs for the past 300  years is because the people do not speak about events that they have not personally witnessed or know the person who witnessed the event.  They live totally in the present.
  • However, the Pirahãs do believe in spirits, similar to the way that some people in Western culture believe in ghosts and séances.
  • The idea of inserting yourself into a tribe where not only do you not speak the language or know the grammar but also you have to figure out how to translate the language with minimal help.

We also added a few books to our master book list:

If you have any books to add to the list, please make a comment on this thread or at the forum on our Facebook group.

The next book that we’ll be reading is Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach (a fellow New Englander). This is a humorous book that explores various experiments that have been conducted on concepts such as ensoulment, reincarnation, etc. So far it’s a very enjoyable read (especially for those who found the last book hard to get through). I do have a related podcast extra: This FFRF podcast featuring nonreligious folk singers Lou and Peter Berryman has an interesting song called “After Life Goes By” (at the 21:28 mark). Lyrics sample: The trouble with my praying/Is I find it so dismaying/That no one may hear me saying what I say. and I believe there’s nothing after life goes by/I believe it’s over when we die die die. (Just imagine that set to a folksy accordion and guitar–who says irreverent music isn’t upbeat?)

Due to the holidays and MLK weekend, our next BSBC meeting will be on Saturday, January 23, at 2 pm, in the Clear Conscience Cafe (same as always). Please join our Facebook group to get our book club invites. (Also, if anyone has a good idea for our BSBC Facebook avatar, I’d love to hear about it!)

Vague Hintings of Something or Other

Posted on : 11-12-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Event

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Hey, guys! You all free on January 8th? Just askin’. No reason. No, really, I was just curious…

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club: Media Extras!

Posted on : 30-11-2009 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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Our next book club meeting is going to be on Saturday, December 5th, at 2 pm in the Clear Conscience Cafe. Come for the lively discussion, stay for the tea and sandwiches.

While doing some research on our current book (Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes), I came across some media extras that add to the content of the book. The first is an interview conducted with the author Daniel Everett on the Freedom From Religion Foundation podcast on August 22, 2009. From the website: “In an amazing adventure, Everett–a missionary to the Pirahas dedicated to learning their language in order to proselytize them–left the Amazon free of religion.” The interview is pretty interesting and he discusses a little bit more about his own background.

The other media extras I found were some videos produced by Current TV about the struggles of the native Amazonians:

The Amazon Frontier

Slaves of the Amazon

Laura Ling Reports on Amazon Tribe

Only one more week to finish up the book! I have a lot of notes and I imagine there will be a lot of discussion about this book. But don’t be intimidated–everyone is welcome, whether you haven’t finished the book yet or even if you really didn’t like the book. We have a big list of other books to decide on for our next BSBC meeting, so come if you would like to add to the book list or choose our next book.

Check out our new Facebook page. I’ve started a forum for our book list and everyone who has a book suggestion should list it there as well.

Video: George Hrab Live 11/23/09

Posted on : 28-11-2009 | By : maggie | In : video

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Our November Skeptics in the Pub with George Hrab was incredible. And if you missed it (or just want to watch it all again), you’re in luck. Here it is in two parts (the man entertained us for two hours!). We’d like to thank George and remind everyone that his new CD ‘Trebuchet’ is due out soon (and you should buy it!). Without further yackity-yack, here he is. The man-shaped music machine that is… George Hrab!
UPDATE: Bonus! An added bonus. Just watch it… I can’t easily explain. Dapper Ladies

And don’t forget to check out George’s podcast, buy his music (at CDbaby, iTunes or GeologicRecords) and visit his website.

Part 1

Boston Skeptics in the Pub – George Hrab Part 1 – Nov 23rd, 2009 from Maggie McFee on Vimeo.

Part 2

Boston Skeptics in the Pub – George Hrab Part 2- Nov 23rd, 2009 from Maggie McFee on Vimeo.

Q&A

Boston Skeptics in the Pub – George Hrab QnA – Nov 23rd, 09 from Maggie McFee on Vimeo.

Or watch on our Vimeo channel.

Creationists? In My University? It’s More Likely Than You Think!

Posted on : 18-11-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post

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I’m sure most people reading this will have heard about Ray Comfort’s doctored copy of The Origin of Species, which includes an all-new, all-stupid 50-page introduction as well. But did you know that Comfort’s group will be on college campuses passing out free copies? Did you know that they’ll be doing so tomorrow, in Boston and Cambridge?

One can hope that students at some of the best schools in the nation will be too smart to fall for Comfort’s malarkey, but let’s not forget also that not everyone has to take college biology. Please, think of the poor English majors and even the assholes getting their MBAs.

Fortunately for us, the NCSE does have those people in mind. They’ve set up a site, Don’t Diss Darwin, with information about the doctored books, a list of targeted schools, and printable handouts and bookmarks for those with the time (surely there are students reading this!) to hang out on college campuses and counter-protest.

According to the Don’t Diss Darwin site, these Boston-area schools are known to be targeted by Comfort’s cronies:

  • Harvard
  • MIT
  • Tufts
  • Brandeis
  • Boston College

Boston University is conspicuously absent from the confirmed target list, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Comfort Crew shows up there as well. If you attend any of these schools, or if you can take some time out to drop by them with handouts tomorrow, please consider taking some time out of your day to fight back against the Bananaman’s dishonesty.

Boston Skeptics in the Pub: George Hrab

Posted on : 16-11-2009 | By : Jared | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Skeptics in the Pub: Thanksgiving Special

with GEORGE HRAB!!

WHEN
Monday, November 23, 2009
7:00pm – 10:00pm

WHERE
Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square (top floor)
96 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA

Facebook event page

Before you head off to visit your family and gorge on turkey (tofurkey and turducken are also acceptable) join your friends in the Boston Skeptics for this month’s Skeptics in the Pub event!

We’re about as thrilled as can be about this month’s guest. Many of you will know George Hrab from his appearances at TAM, TAM London, NECSS, Dragon*Con, and just about every other skeptical event under the sun. But for those of you who don’t, Geo is one talented guy! He’s a skeptical singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist whose music is available on iTunes or here at CD Baby. He also puts out the always-amusing Geologic Podcast, which just hit its 140th episode!

If that’s not enough, George is an incredible humorist and raconteur. When he joins us on Monday, Nov. 23rd, be sure to wear your laughing pants. And if you don’t own laughing pants a) what’s wrong with you? and b) you’d better buy some! Geo will be at our usual location, Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square, from 7-10 PM. He will be singing some songs, telling some stories, and hanging out to answer your questions!

So once again, join your host Liz Gaston and the rest of the Boston Skeptics for what we HOPE will be a rocking, fun filled way to kick off the holiday season! We hope to see you ALL there!

BS Brunch!

Posted on : 09-11-2009 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post

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Hey everyone, our next brunch will be happening this weekend! We will be meeting up Saturday, November 14th at 11am at The Asgard in Central Square, Cambridge.  I know we always hype the pancakes, but I for one am looking forward to some delicious eggs benedict! Does that make me a traitor? Check out our Facebook event page to rsvp.

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #1

Posted on : 08-11-2009 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post, Event

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Saturday was the first meeting of the Boston Skeptics’ Book Club. We managed to grab a couch and some decent chairs at the Clear Conscience Cafe in Central Square, and we all had a decent discussion about what books and authors we want to add to the reading queue. Some of the books mentioned:

The first book we’re going to start reading is Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett. From what I’ve read about the book, it’s half memoir about living in the Amazon and half about the science of linguistics and the unusual language of the people. One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is that there is also a storyline about how he came to the Amazon as a Christian missionary to convert a tribe of the Pirahã (pronounced pee-da-HAN) Indians, but instead ended up being converted himself into an atheist.

Our first meeting went well, and in addition to discussing which books we want to read, we also geeked out for a while (Star Trek, Science, and Games, oh my!) and sampled some of the food and beverages at the cafe (from what I hear, the Apple Cider is awesome). Our next meeting will be on Saturday, December 5th at 2 pm, also at the Clear Conscience Cafe (so far, we plan on meeting once a month around the aforementioned time). If anyone has any book suggestions, please email me [mary.brock (at) gmail.com] and I’ll add it to our discussion list for next time. I enjoyed meeting everyone, and I hope I will see everyone back (and maybe a few new faces) next month to discuss our latest book!