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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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Skeptics in the Pub with Kimball Atwood and Mark Crislip

Posted on : 03-10-2011 | By : John | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Our next SitP features two special guests (Mark Crislip and Kimball Atwood of Science Based Medicine) at a special time (8 PM) on a special day (Wednesday, October 19 instead of our usual Monday evening), and in a special place (the cozy, intimate basement of Tommy Doyle’s.) Aren’t we special?

Kimball and Mark will make a brief presentation followed by lots of hanging out and talking. For some ideas of the discussion topics, be sure to check out Mark’s podcast QuackCast and Kimball’s Naturowatch site, as well as SBM.

(Be forewarned! Tommy Doyle’s basement doesn’t have the state-of-the-art multimedia recording facilities of their upstairs room, so this may be your only chance to see this dynamic duo. Don’t miss it!)

Video: Amanda Knief – Travails of a Godless Lobbyist – Sept. 26th, 2011

Posted on : 01-10-2011 | By : maggie | In : Skeptics in the Pub, video

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http://secular.org
http://skather.us/kniefobama

Book Club: Mary Roach’s Stiff

Posted on : 24-09-2011 | By : John | In : Book Club, Event

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Important Update! Note date and time change.

Our next book club meeting will be on Saturday, November 5 at 5 PM at one of the usual places. (Today, we met indoors in a nice conference room with left-over bagels at the far end of our usual building, due to scheduling conflicts and iffy weather.) Stay tuned for updates.

We decided to change the time to 5 PM date to November 5 so that people could attend both the Granite State Skeptics Skepticamp and the Book Club meeting.

Our book is going to be 3-time winner Mary Roach’s Stiff, in honor of Halloween. Monty Python "dead" person

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club Tomorrow: Rain or shine…but mostly just rain.

Posted on : 23-09-2011 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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"Everyone was doing it...I just wanted to be popular!"

Come join us tomorrow (Saturday, Sep. 23, at 3pm) for an irreverent discussion on Christopher Moore’s book Lamb and the story of Biff, Jesus’s BFF.

Unfortunately, we can’t meet outside, because as of tonight the forecast is 80% chance of rain. Also, there is some sort of event happening in our normal spot in the Cafeteria of the Northwest building, so Andy, my faithful book club cohort and husband, has booked a conference room in a different spot in the building. (For the regulars, you can just go to the doors of our indoor spot and follow the outdoor path–directions posted below.) I swear it’s easy to get to!

DIRECTIONS TO OUR MEETING SPOT (PDF with pretty pictures)

Don’t let the weather deter you from coming. We always welcome new members, and if you have a biblically-related opinion you’d like to share but haven’t read the book, we welcome you too. As usual, bring a snack if you’re so inclined (most people do, you want to be cool, right?).

Skeptics in the Pub with Amanda Knief: Travails of a Godless Lobbyist

Posted on : 15-09-2011 | By : John | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Our guest speaker this month is Amanda Knief, Government Relations Manager of the Secular Coalition for America. Amanda will tell us “true tales of working as an atheist on Capitol Hill and with the Obama administration, and also how we need everyone to get involved.”

Could there be a better lead-in to Zombie and Vampire Season than the inside scoop on working in Washington?

We will be meeting at our regular time and place, at 7 PM on Monday, September 26. 2011, upstairs at Tommy Doyle’s, 96 Winthrop St in Harvard Square.

Video: Jonathan McDowell – Elegy for a Spaceplane

Posted on : 27-08-2011 | By : maggie | In : Skeptics in the Pub, video

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Before I post another word, don’t miss this Monday’s Skeptics in the Pub with Dave Niose (see two posts down for details).

And now – better late than never – video of Jonathan McDowell and last month’s BSitP of those who missed it (or want to see it again). Sorry for the delay. It’s not exactly as I’d intended, but… oh, I’ll shut up now. Here’s Jonathan!

Next Book Club: Lamb

Posted on : 17-08-2011 | By : Mary | In : Book Club

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Since John wrote a nice summary last week about the last book we read (The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensics), I’m just going to amend that with information for our next meeting.

We are reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore, and we are meeting again on September 24th at 3pm. If it’s nice weather, we’ll meet in our usual spot on Harvard Yard, and if not I’ll give details on our colder weather location.

Book Club: Douglas Starr’s “The Killer of Little Shepherds”

Posted on : 11-08-2011 | By : John | In : Book Club, Event

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Our book club meeting this month is again at the usual place and time, 3 PM Saturday August 13 on the lawn just north of Harvard Yard, between Memorial Hall (the big ugly pseudo gothic building) and the Science Center (the big ugly modern building that looks like a flight of giant stairs to nowhere.) It’s supposed to be warm and sunny, but if it rains, we’ll move indoors to the cafeteria of the Northwest building up Oxford Street just past the museum.

The book is about the birth of forensic science (CSI: Lyon, as in Lyon, France, circa 1894.) I’m about 1/2 way through, the prime suspect is about to go to trial, and is attempting an insanity defense. It’s a pretty compelling story, all the more so because it’s true. The author alternates chapters between the story of the criminal, Joesph Vacher, and the history of forensics, mostly focusing on Professor Lacassagne of the Lyon Medical School, who was the leading forensic scientist of the time.

Skeptics in the Pub with Dave Niose: Secularity as a Movement

Posted on : 01-08-2011 | By : John | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Dave is the president of the American Humanist Association.. Skeptical activism was a major theme at TAM 9 a few weeks ago and Dave will fill us in on the broad strategic issues facing the AHA and other secular groups, as well as the status of a recent lawsuit involving the AHA and the pledge of allegiance.

Agree or disagree with the proposition the the Skeptical and Secular Movements should be more involved in social activism[*], this promises to be an extremely interesting talk.

Date: Monday, August 29
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Upstairs at Tommy Doyle’s
96 Winthrop St (Harvard Square)
Cambridge, MA

[*] If you disagree, you’re wrong :-)

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #19: The Psychopath Test

Posted on : 19-07-2011 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post, Book Club

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Quit telling me to do things!

Last Boston Skeptics’ Book Club Meeting, we met up to discuss Jon Ronson’s latest book The Psychopath Test. Personally, this book has been one of my most favorite non-fiction books that I’ve read this summer.

The beginning is a little strange and non-psychopathic in that it explores the curious case of Being or Nothingness, a book penned by an unknown weird person and sent out to various scientists. While he’s researching that subject, he walks by the office of a psychologist who specializes in psychopaths, and that’s what starts his odyssey with Broadmoor (a famous psychopath facility in the UK) and “Tony”, a man who says he faked mental illness to escape prison, but in fact he has been incarcerated longer at Broadmoor than his original sentence. When Jon confronts the psychiatrists about Tony’s fake mental illness, they tell Jon that they know Tony faked it, but in fact that is exactly what a psychopath would do, which is why he’s been locked up in Broadmoor so long. I won’t say what happens to Tony, but Jon finishes up his tale in the book.

Jon also writes about the book’s namesake, the Psychopath Test developed by psychiatrist Bob Hare. Before the ‘70s, Bob worked in a prison and used electric shocks and disturbing images to discern the psychopaths from the regular criminals. However, ethics reforms forbade this inhumane treatment, so he developed a non-violent checklist instead. Jon ends up getting trained on how to use the checklist and tries it out on a CEO known for his ruthless boardroom behavior. The CEO ends up twisting almost every point and reframing it as a leadership quality. (Funnily enough, he gives this interview in his mansion, which is filled with stuffed or gilded predators and giant oil paintings of himself.)

Jon also covers 9/11 and 7/7 conspiracy theorists, a mistaken profiler, and the abundance of misdiagnoses of childhood bipolar disorder (which is under hot debate as to whether it actually exists) and the preventable death of one child who died at age 4 of an overdose of her bipolar meds because her parents would give her some when she would get “annoying”.

If you’re looking for a quick, intriguing summer read, pick up this book. Jon always has an excellent skeptical eye and a knack for presenting his subjects in a sympathetic light. (At one point I was even feeling good that the scientologists exposed a bad psychiatrist! Not for long though.)

The book we’re reading now is The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science. Our next meeting is Saturday, August 13 at 3pm, hopefully out in Harvard Yard if the weather is nice, but stay tuned for details!

Also, if you have any suggestions for books, please leave them in the comments. (And if you were at the last meeting and suggested a book, write that in the comments too, because I forgot to write down the excellent books that everyone suggested!)