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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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Events Reminder

Posted on : 06-11-2009 | By : Jared | In : Blog Post, Event

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Hi folks! Just thought I’d pop in here to remind you all of a few upcoming events!

First, a few Boston Skeptics will be getting together (as was suggested on our Twitter feed, which you SHOULD be following) to watch The Men Who Stare at Goats. This is the film adaptation of skeptic (and super best friend of our own Rebecca Watson) Jon Ronson‘s book of the same name. We’re going to the 8:30PM screening at the AMC Boston Common theatre (across from the Boylston stop on the Green Line). This is a very informal get-together, so if you’d like to meet up, get there early and look for us in the lobby. At the very least, let us know you’ll be there in the comments section and maybe we can all grab a drink and discuss the film afterwards!

Second, the inaugural meeting of the Boston Skeptics Book Club will be taking place this Saturday, Nov. 7th at 2:00 PM at the Clear Conscience Cafe in Central Square. Join Mary Brock and Liz Gaston in kicking off what (we hope) will be a great forum for reading and discussing the vast canon of skeptical and scientific literature!

Finally, don’t forget about this month’s AWESOME Boston Skeptics in the Pub event featuring the amazing George Hrab! That’s coming up on Monday,  Nov. 23rd (the Monday before Thanksgiving), at our usual place and time. We’ll put up a full post about that soon, but for now you should head over to the Facebook Event page and RSVP so we can give Tommy Doyle’s a rough head count.

That’s it for now, but if you have any ideas for events or speakers, feel free to let us know in the comments! Hope to see you all soon :)

Book Club is coming!

Posted on : 31-10-2009 | By : Liz | In : Event

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Another new Boston Skeptics event is coming up soon! Mary Brock and I will be holding our first book club meeting on Saturday, November 7th at 2pm. We will be meeting at the Clear Conscience Cafe in Central Square.  Mary and I are hoping to get to know everyone and find out what you are looking for in the book club!

We are very excited to get this club up and running. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or email Mary at mary.brock@gmail.com.

Video: Neil Marsh – Oct. 19, 2009

Posted on : 25-10-2009 | By : maggie | In : Skeptics in the Pub, video

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Boston Skeptics in the Pub – Neil Marsh – Oct 19th, 2009 from Maggie McFee on Vimeo.

Video: Halloween Special with Neil Marsh – Martian Invasion!: War of the Worlds 1938 Panic

Posted on : 24-10-2009 | By : maggie | In : Blog Post

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Video from the last BSitP is up! In it, Neil Marsh talks to us about the panic of 1938 when Orson Wells’s radio production and putting on that same production today (Oct. 29-31 at the Somerville Theatre, tickets are on sale now).

Also, Travis announces more details of a Halloween live haunted site investigation by Granite State Skeptics. On Twitter as @GSSkeptics

And we let the cat out of the bag about our very very special guest next month… George Hrab! That’s right, folks. The skeptical singer/songwriter/humorist and dapper dresser himself will be joining us for November’s BSitP. If you didn’t get to TAM or NECSS to see him (or if you did), don’t miss it!

Now, on to the video:

Or watch on our Vimeo channel.

For their annual Halloween show, the Post-Meridian Radio Players will be putting on The Big Broadcast of 1938, (Oct 29-31 at Somerville Theatre) part of which will be a Boston-based adaptation of the classic Orson Welles radio drama, The War of the Worlds. Neil Marsh talks about both Welles’s controversial, panic-inspiring broadcast as well as the PMRP’s adaptation. (BS’s own Josh Nicholson is in the production, so don’t miss it!)

Quick Reminder: SitP and SitY

Posted on : 19-10-2009 | By : Jared | In : Blog Post

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UPDATE: Saturday’s Skeptics in the Yard will have to be postponed as the weather doesn’t appear to be cooperating. Liz will update the Facebook event page and we’ll let you know as soon as we can reschedule. Fortunately, the dig runs for some time to come. Tentatively, we’re thinking in 2 weeks but we’ll firm up details soon. Sorry for the late notice.

Just a reminder for those of you with attention spans as bad as my own:

Tonight is the Halloween edition of Boston Skeptics in the Pub, where our special guest Neil Marsh will be talking about the War of the Worlds. It looks like an entertaining and informative presentation, so I think you should all BE THERE! The event kicks off at or around 7pm at Tommy Doyle’s, Harvard Sq! Plus, we’ll be airing a fun announcement from the Granite State Skeptics, and revealing the BIG NEWS about next month’s SitP event, so you won’t want to miss this!

(POSTPONED!) And, for those of you with (or without!) kids, Boston Skeptic Liz Gaston has set up a fun event called Skeptics in the Yard. This Saturday, the Harvard Yard Family Archaeology program will be excavating the historic Harvard Yard and giving kids a chance to get in on the fun. Plus, Liz will be more than happy to babysit the kids if everyone wants to have lunch afterwards! This cool event runs from 9:30 to 12:30 in Harvard Yard!

Both events are totally FREE, so please join in and tell your friends. We hope to see you there!

5 Minute Debunk – Ghost Lab, Tombstone AZ ‘shadow person’

Posted on : 17-10-2009 | By : maggie | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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5 minute debunkDiscovery Channel has unleashed yet another ghost chasing show into the, apparently ghost-filled, wilds of television. The supposed twist in this show is that the two leads, the brothers Klinge, have a mobile ‘lab’ and are touted as being ‘scientific’ in their methods. Boy did that notion fall apart mere minutes into the show… The only science on this show seems to be that which went into creating the gadgets they fill their mobile lab with. Gadgets they then go on to use poorly including, sadly, what’s probably the most potentially useful of all their tools and one whose properties are so very well understood, the camera.

One of the shows most excited moments involved a ‘hit’ from an image they captured during the night in Tombstone, Arizona. The image, according to their gleeful cries, contains what they call a “shadow person”. Before I go on, I want to point out something that, had truly scientific methods been employed, would have been important but, given how sloppy this was, is now only marginally interesting. That is the fact that the original shot and the recreation were done with different cameras with different focal lengths. As I said, this doesn’t matter in the end as you’ll see, but it will help you understand why the original image looks so ‘flat’ and how far away objects look so much closer. (A quick primer on focal length at Wikipedia.)

But now, let’s let the pictures do the talking (click each image to open larger version). The 5 Minute Debunk of the Ghost Lab shadow person:


What Are You Reading?

Posted on : 17-10-2009 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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I’ve been thinking a lot about reading lately, in part because of a really cool new Boston Skeptics meetup that is currently in development.  I’m new to active Skepticism, so for the past few months I have been avidly reading books related to science and skepticism.  I’m fairly certain I’ve finished more books since January than I did in all four years of college (unless you count Agatha Raisin mysteries).  Right now I’m in the middle of God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (that one gets some funny looks on the bus), and while it is a good read and very interesting, I won’t lie:  I can’t wait to finish so I can start Simon Singh’s Trick or Treatment.  I often find myself in a conundrum at the bookstore, trying to decide what topic to read about next. Atheism? Evolution? Quantum mechanics? Quackery? Gaaaa!

Help me out: What are you currently reading, how do you decide what to read next, and what are your recommendations for fellow skeptics?

Interview: Roy Zimmerman

Posted on : 16-10-2009 | By : maggie | In : interview, video

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Political satirist/singer/songwriter and “that Creation Science 101 guy” (or maybe you know him from Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual) Roy Zimmerman sat down with us for an interview yesterday. If you haven’t heard his songs before, head on over to RoyZimmerman.com and check out his site and his YouTube videos. And then go check him out live this Saturday afternoon at the anti-war rally in Copley Square or his full show in Worcester that evening with the Worcester Humanists. Or, if you’re down in Marblehead, he’ll be playing there Friday night.

And without further ado… Roy Zimmerman:

Boston Skeptics – Roy Zimmerman interview

Black Helicopter/Swine Flu Follow-Up: Massachusetts’ Health Emergency & Pandemic Preparedness Bill

Posted on : 14-10-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post

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Some of you may remember the post I made a few weeks ago mocking overreactions to the passage of a bill in the Mass State Senate enumerating powers of the state’s public health commissioner during declared public health emergencies. The Somerville Journal has a very thorough article today reporting on the passage of the House version of the public health emergency bill.

The Somerville Journal article does a nice job of describing the differences between the two bills and what, exactly, the point of this whole thing is. Newsflash: it’s not to enable government redtrucks to socialise the fire departments and spray H1N1 on you from their firehoses.

What I also find interesting is the related motion to delay voting on the public health emergency bill. What, exactly, was the point of that, if not pure and simple obstructionism? Oh. Well, I guess I have my answer.

While we’re discussing the State Legislature, there’s another interesting bill up: Allow Students To Express Religious Views (H 376). To quote:

The Education Committee’s hearing also includes a bill that would require local school districts to implement a policy that would allow for a “limited public forum and voluntary student expression of religious views at school events, graduation ceremonies, in class assignments and non-curricular school groups and activities.” The measure also prohibits schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of his or her expressed religious views.

Any thoughts on this? To me, the key word is “voluntary”, which I don’t have a problem with, but do we need a law for that?

Skeptics in the Yard

Posted on : 09-10-2009 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post, Event

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Our first Boston Skeptics family event is here! Our friend Kerry turned me on to the Harvard Peabody Museum, which is having its Harvard Yard Archaeology family program on Saturday, October 24th from 9:30 am-12:30 pm (RSVP on Facebook).  From what I read here, we will get to meet the archaeologists involved with the excavation of 17th Century Harvard.  The event is free, and takes place right in Harvard Yard.  Bring your skeptical children! Plus, check out this bonus…