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Book Club: “Because I Said So” by Ken Jennings

Posted on : 09-02-2013 | By : John | In : Book Club, Event

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Our next book is Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, by former all time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.

It is a skeptical examination of all the things our parents told us. Hundreds of tiny chapters examine such things as swimming 59 minutes after a meal (a complete myth) and running with scissors (generally a bad idea) and a lollipop in your mouth (injuries are extremely rare. Running with a pair of scissors in your mouth, straight into crocodile-infested waters, right after a heavy meal, well you work it out! The book seems to be fun, well written, well researched, and quite a quick read (I read about a third of it at one sitting.)

We will be meeting at our usual location in the Northwest Science Building at Harvard at 3 PM on Saturday, February 23. RSVP on Facebook, if that’s your thing.

SitP: Julia Wilson

Posted on : 09-02-2013 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Skeptics in the Pub

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In April of 1775, William Dawes rode through Harvard Square on his way to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and the Concord Militia that the Redcoats were coming. They’re BACK!!

On Saturday afternoon, Feb 16, 2013, we will be holding a special Skeptics in the Pub with Julia Wilson of the UK science education organization Sense About Science. She is here in Cambridge to help organize a new campaign, Ask For Evidence USA. The goals of the campaign, along the lines of a similar campaign in the UK, are to encourage people* to ask for the evidence behind scientific claims made by scientists, politicians, public officials, the press and random people on the Internet, to teach the basics, such as critical thinking and how the peer review process works, so that they (i.e. we) can ask intelligent questions, and to teach scientists how to communicate with non-specialists and the general public. One of her first events is a Boot Camp** for PhD students, post-docs, and other young scientists, to be held this week at MIT, to teach communications skills. She may well inspire the next Carl Sagan or Eugenie Scott.

This promises to be an important and fascinating talk.

We will be meeting at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square, our usual spot, at 2PM on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013. You can RSVP on our Facebook event page if you want, so we can get an idea of how many people will be attending.

[*] Including the general public as well as scientists, politicians, public officials, the press and random people on the Internet.

[**] Sorry, it’s too late to register for the Boot Camp. :-(