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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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Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #6

Posted on : 25-04-2010 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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Yesterday, the BSBC met at Borders to discuss Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish. We found that the book is a good read, both for scientists and non-scientists, because it provides a narrative to Evolution and Common Descent.

I appreciated the author’s use of humor and anecdotes to describe the origins of our bodies. Some interesting facts that I didn’t know before reading this book:

  • It took single-celled organisms 40 million years to start to group together and form “bodies” of cells, because even though cell-groupings provided an advantage in the predator-prey environment with regards to size, the Earth’s atmosphere did not have a lot of oxygen and life could not support multi-celled organisms (until the oxygen levels changed).
  • Two of the bones in our inner ear evolved from a common ancestor of reptiles, when the back of the reptile jaw started to shrink and move back towards the ear.
  • If you take a section of a mouse embryo responsible for eye development and you graft it onto a fruit fly embryo, the fly will grow an eye in that spot and it will be a fruit fly eye (although it won’t work exactly the same because not all the nerve endings line up).

This book also illustrates how un-intelligently designed the human body is, so it provides a good rebuttal to anyone who thinks that bananas evolved to point towards our faces

Our next book is The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science by Julie Des Jardins. From the Amazon.com description:

Why are the fields of science and technology still considered to be predominantly male professions? The Madame Curie Complex moves beyond the most common explanations—limited access to professional training, lack of resources, exclusion from social networks of men—to give historical context and unexpected revelations about women’s contributions to the sciences. Exploring the lives of Jane Goodall, Rosalind Franklin, Rosalyn Yalow, Barbara McClintock, Rachel Carson, and the women of the Manhattan Project, Julie Des Jardins considers their personal and professional stories in relation to their male counterparts—Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi—to demonstrate how the gendered culture of science molds the methods, structure, and experience of the work. With lively anecdotes and vivid detail, The Madame Curie Complex reveals how women scientists have often asked different questions, used different methods, come up with different explanations for phenomena in the natural world, and how they have forever transformed a scientist’s role.

Our next meeting is at 3 pm on Saturday, May 22, and the location is TBD. Since the weather is so nice, we’re thinking of having the meeting in a park, so if anyone has any park suggestions, please leave them in the comments! I’ll keep everyone posted, and if it looks like it’s going to rain, we’ll meet back in our new location at the Borders on Boylston Ave.

Reminder: Book Club Tomorrow!

Posted on : 23-04-2010 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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Just a quick reminder that the Boston Skeptics’ Book Club is meeting tomorrow, Saturday, April 24 at 3 pm at the Borders bookstore on Boylston Ave, up in the cafe on the second floor.

Everyone is welcome, whether or not you’ve read Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish. Come to discuss evolutionary science and eat delicious muffins! Also, if you have any book suggestions, bring those and I’ll add them to the master list.

For anyone who can’t make it, if you really want to come but Saturdays are always bad for you, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to find a date that works for everyone.

See you tomorrow!

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club #5

Posted on : 03-04-2010 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

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It’s a beautiful day out, my cats are sitting around melting away in the sunbeam, and I know you all have one thing on your mind: What happened at last week’s BSBC meeting?

Last Saturday, we met at the cafe in Borders to discuss Jonathan Goldstein’s Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible!. I picked it because it was short, funny, and irreverent, and who doesn’t need a bit of a mental break every now and then? The stories of the book were all modern reinterpretations of stories from the Old Testament, and being raised a Lutheran I honestly wasn’t as familiar with the Old Testament mythology, so I enjoyed this book. Goldstein wrote most of the characters in such a way that I felt sympathy for the traditionally evil ones and got irked at the traditionally good ones. God is portrayed as a voice in one’s head, and most of the time he either asks rhetorical questions or is a tad passive-aggressive.

Next BSBC book is: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin (credit goes to Liz for selecting it). Shubin is a paleontologist who describes how various parts of humans evolved. If you know anyone who says that there is no beauty in evolution, point them to this book. Shubin not only uses the fossil record to show readers how evolution works, but his writing style keeps the reader interested and you don’t have to be an expert to understand his concepts.

Our next meeting is at 3 p.m. at Borders on Saturday, April 24th, 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. Be there, or be somewhere else that isn’t nearly as fun!

In the future, since the weather is so great, we may plan a BSBC outing in the park instead. Keep your eyes open and if you have any suggestions, state them in the comments!

:)