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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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March Boston Skeptics in the Pub 3/29

Posted on : 22-03-2010 | By : maggie | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Just a quick reminder that this month’s BSitP speaker is Kimball Atwood IV! You may know him as a blogger at Science-Based Medicine or as a fellow of CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), but he’s also a practicing anesthesiologist and, we hear, a really interesting guy.

Kimball will also be a guest at next month’s NECSS con, so here’s a great opportunity for those who can’t make NECSS to at least catch one of the speakers.

So join us at Tommy Doyles (Harvard Square) on Monday, March 29th at 7PM. See you there!

Pi Day Reflections

Posted on : 14-03-2010 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post

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Pi Day is here!

As a big geek, I ought to have many memories of one of the geekiest days of the year–so why don’t I? In high school, a popular science teacher would serenade us over the intercom with a special song.  But wait, that was actually Mole Day!  I remember now that I am picturing him dancing from classroom to classroom in an adorable mole costume. OK then, I know my high school did celebrate Pi Day by offering kids extra credit for bringing in a dessert whose circumference and diameter exhibit that most tasty of ratios.  Although, now that I think about it, I don’t specifically remember bringing in any pies myself.  College was an even drier spell for my pi-thusiasm.  I can’t think of a single pi-related activity from those four years! For a math enthusiast, I don’t seem to be very good at showing my geek spirit.  I have a friend who at one point could recite more than 500 digits of pi, but I can’t seem to remember past 3.14159.

Of course, now that I’m with the Skeptics, all that has changed, right? I mean, last year we had an epic pi(e) fight in Boston Common…which I strangely didn’t attend.  I don’t remember my exact reasoning, but I suspect it had something to do with not wanting to get covered in sticky pie remnants 45 minutes away from my shower in the middle of March.

This year, I was finally gung-ho for the pie fight, and then…RAIN. I settled for a tasty circular cupcake from Sweet instead (thanks to those of you who actually braved the rain to join me!)  And now we get to postpone the fight until Pie Approximation Day in July! Two Pi Days a year = KICK ASS.

I’m sure you were all just devastated at the lack of tasty insanity in the park today, but I imagine many of you found other ways to celebrate. How did you show your Pi Day spirit?

Pi Day Update!

Posted on : 13-03-2010 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post

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I don’t know about you, but getting hit with a pie in the middle of a rainstorm doesn’t sound like much fun to me.  The pie fight WILL prevail–we haven’t forgotten Pi Approximation Day! However, you can still join us Sunday for delicious circular treats (cupcakes are just mini pies, right?) at Sweet on Mass Ave (that’s Back Bay, not Harvard Square).  Be there at 1:59!

Second Annual Boston Skeptics Pi Day Pie Fight!

Posted on : 08-03-2010 | By : Joshua | In : Event

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Hey, kids! 3.14 is coming up soon, and you know what that means. It’s Pi Day! Last year’s Pi Fight (photos here, video here) was such a huge success that we want to do it again.

So, weather permitting, join us at the Boston Common, near the bandstand, on March 14, 1:30 pm. (The festivities will start at 1:59, obviously.) Bring either a real pie for eating or a whipped cream pie for fighting!

Speaking of the weather, though, it looks like we’re forecast for rain on Friday and Saturday. If anybody has a suggestion for rainy day Pi Fight alternatives, leave your suggestion in the comments!

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #4

Posted on : 08-03-2010 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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Last week at the Boston Skeptics’ Book Club, we discussed Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot. For the uninitiated, the book was a look at how psychological studies can help people change their lives. The “59 seconds” hook is the fact that each chapter ends with a summary that will presumably take less than a minute to read, for people who just want the gist of how to change their lives. For anyone who read the book: have you tried out any of the techniques yet, and if so, have they worked or not?

There are ten chapters that cover the following topics: Happiness, Persuasion, Motivation, Creativity, Attraction, Stress, Relationships, Decision Making, Parenting, and Personality. My favorite chapter was the one about persuasion, mainly because it gives pointers on how to have a successful job interview (I’m sort of doing a little field testing lately). Overall, I found most of the advice in the book to be useful and it’s definitely a book that I’ll keep on my bookshelf to reference occasionally (mostly because I have a horrible memory and I have already forgotten most of the tips on how to change my life). There was some debate in the group about whether or not the advice in the book was obvious. Example advice: in the chapter about parenting, studies showed that if you praise a child for its intelligence, the child is more likely to stick to easier tasks; but if you praise a child for effort, the child is more likely to try harder tasks.

Here’s my own “59 seconds” of the book: holding a pencil in your teeth will make you feel happier; people will like you more if you ask them to do small favors for you; don’t be fooled by “diet packs” because you’ll eat more of those than regular food; the color green makes you more creative; people bond quicker when sharing dislikes; “active listening” doesn’t work; if you feel angry, go play with a puppy; groups make riskier decisions than individuals; Mozart will not make your child smarter; and index finger length v. ring finger length indicates how aggressive you are.

If any of the above points have intrigued you, please pick up a copy of the book to learn more (and there are tons of awesome citations in the back if you really want to dive into the research).

For our next meeting, we’ll be reading Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bible! by Jonathan Goldstein. It’s a light-hearted reimagining of some books of the Old Testament. A few lines from the back of the book:

Wouldn’t a person get bored living in a whale? How did Joseph explain Mary’s pregnancy to the guys at work? And what was Cain’s problem anyway? Meet the megalomaniac foreman who oversaw the construction of the Tower of Babel. Discover how Moses dealt with a shifty Golden Calf dealer who was more concerned with “rebranding” his wares in the wake of the whole idol-worshiping scandal than obeying his commandments.

For anyone who wants to sample the book, This American Life read the “Adam and Eve” chapter. (Actually, after doing a little searching, I found readings of most of the book here.)

Our time and venue has changed just because we want to try to find a place not too crowded where we can have a good discussion. We’ll be meeting on Saturday, March 27th, at 3 pm at the Borders bookstore on Boylston Ave in Boston (two blocks from the Arlington T-stop on the Green Line). The cafe section is up the escalators on the second floor and the back in the corner near the science books. If anyone knows of another coffee shop that we can try out, suggest it in the comments!