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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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[Alliance Event] March for our lives, Boston

Posted on : 17-03-2018 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


We are partnering with the Humanist Hub in Harvard Square to meet beforehand. That way we can go as a group–it’s hard to find everyone on the Common in the throng of people. Humanist Hub details: https://www.facebook.com/events/271574740046045/

Meet at the Hub at 11 if you want to come with us as a group.

As members of the skeptics community, we want to see legislation and public health decisions made using science-based methods and evidence. One area this hasn’t played out enough is with the causes of and solutions for gun violence. Due to the tragic mass shooting that happened in Parkland, Florida, this conversation has erupted into a national discussion. The survivors in Parkland have taken a stand to discuss this pressing problem and policy solutions for it, and this includes a March for Our Lives that they and other students across the country have established. With local allied groups, we will attend the upcoming March for Our Lives in Boston on March 24. We’re going to support calls for bolstering science-based research and policies for reducing gun violence that are based on the best evidence we can uncover, including, but not limited to, calling for the removal of restrictions on the CDC’s ability to do such research. Details to come, but please save the date if you’d like to march with us. We will meet beforehand to go over as a group, and potentially have a discussion afterwards. Start working on some sign ideas!

Save the date, full details to come.
Location: Boston Common eventually, we may meet earlier elsewhere to go over together.
Time: 11am–?

Official March info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1607397545975790/

Save the Date: March for Science 2018 will be April 14. #MarchForScience

Posted on : 30-01-2018 | By : Mary Mangan | In : Blog Post, Member Post, news

Tags: ,


Hey skeptics: Science Marches On.

The national organization sent around an announcement email yesterday, and they provided the date for this year’s March for Science: April 14 2018. Put it on your calendars now, but it’s too early to set up a formal meetup of any sort. We don’t have the details on the local organization yet.

We could also discuss if we wanted to have a more formal relationship with the organizers–helping out in some way?

March for Science (National)https://www.marchforscience.com/2018

Boston division

FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1283459638410385/
Twitter: @Mrch4ScienceBOS
Website: www.marchforscienceboston.com

[Alliance Event] Why Darwin? Stephen Matheson muses on the role of Darwin as a humanist icon

Posted on : 20-01-2018 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


**RSVP here: https://www.meetup.com/BostonSkeptics/events/247137902/

One aspect of the Boston Skeptics group that we’ve been working on is creating alliances with other local groups that have overlapping interests with the skeptics community. We recently reached out to the Humanist Hub to explore ideas and interests both groups might share. To begin exploring an alliance between us, we’d like to invite the Boston Skeptics members (new and existing!) to meet up at the Humanist Hub’s upcoming Sunday Speakers Series talk “Why Darwin?” by Stephen Matheson. Here’s the abstract for this talk: 

Charles Darwin, one of the most important scientists of the 19th century, is also a very misunderstood figure of history.“Charles Darwin is a humanist icon, or at least enough of an icon that International Darwin Day, celebrated every year on or about February 12, was first established by the American Humanist Association. We love to celebrate Darwin Day at the Hub, and this year is no exception.

But why? Why Darwin? Why not Newton or Galileo or Copernicus? Why not Curie or Lovelace or Franklin?

We will discuss these questions together: 1) Why is Darwin a humanist icon? In other words, why Darwin Day? and 2) Should Darwin be a humanist icon? In other words, should we celebrate Darwin Day? If so, how? If not, then what?”

Stephen Matheson is a biologist and a scientific editor working in Cambridge. He is also the Director of the Board of Directors of the Humanist Hub. You can learn more about the Humanist Hub team here.

This will be part of the regular Sunday events at the Humanist Hub. The Sunday Speakers Program is a weekly community meeting where the Humanist Hub gathers to reconnect with one another. The program often consists of a welcome, a song or poem, a talk by an invited speaker or a community member, questions-and-answers, and small group discussion, followed by refreshments and socializing. You can look for upcoming Humanist Hub events on their website and on their Meetup page. Note: this is not their Darwin Day event, which will occur in February.

We hope you’ll join us. And we’d like to hear what you think about alliances and ideas for other groups in the area to connect with.

Support a fellow skeptic–being sued for speaking out

Posted on : 14-01-2018 | By : Mary Mangan | In : Blog Post, Member Post, skepticism

Tags: ,


Many of you probably know Britt Marie Hermes. She was trained as a naturopath but had a Damascene conversion when she began to practice and realized what was actually going on. Her story has been told a number of times, but her own words are the most remarkable to read. You can read more about the revelations she had at Science Based Medicine in this post: ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out.

She has continued to make science-based noise about the issues of the training of naturopaths, as well as shine a spotlight on harmful treatments. In fact, she tried to warn us here in Massachusetts that we were about to be beset by that terrible naturopathic licensing that gives a veneer of legitimacy to these bad practices.

I really did think that the legislation had died a natural death at the end of the previous session in the summer. Out of nowhere the zombie had returned. She was right. But I wasn’t able to figure out how to combat it. I wrote to the Governor’s office, implored him not to sign it, but over the Christmas holidays it went under the radar and became real. Alas. We need to organize better on policy issues and learn to influence these things.

Still, I was really glad she was trying to help us. And it’s time to return the favor. Britt has been sued by one of the bad actors that she has called out. A woman who runs a cancer clinic offering baking soda treatments (!!!) seems to dislike the spotlight on these practices. She has sued Britt for defamation. You can hear from Britt here. She describes the situation and provides the background for you as well.

A legal defense fundraiser on her behalf is being held by Australian Skeptics. You can see their description of it, and you can donate to the effort: BRITT HERMES LEGAL COSTS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN.

If you can, please consider donating to this fund. Britt’s voice is important on this issue, and we need to ensure that she is not silenced. But there’s a larger issue as well–all of us skeptics who call out bad actors are at risk from legal harassment by cranks and quacks. This happened to Steven Novella not long ago.

Cancer quackery gets on my last nerve–misleading vulnerable people in harmful ways and taking their money at this perilous time for them. Spend some of your money to stop them from getting away with it.


Edit to add: There are other folks describing more details of Britt’s story or other related issues. I’ll link them here for further context.

Orac includes a good section about other lawsuits by quacks to hit the skeptic community: Defend Britt Hermes from a naturopathic cancer quack trying to silence her through legal thuggery

Kevin Folta delivers the bat signal: Nerd Shield Activate! Defend Britt from Fake-Medicine-Industry Intimidation

Pharmacist Scott Gavura adds: Naturopathy’s fiercest and most-knowledgeable critic is being sued by a naturopath

New! Boston Skeptics Slack Chat Room

Posted on : 17-12-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


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 a Boston Skeptics Slack account yet? Don’t worry! You can sign up for one here. (Note: this account will only work for the Boston Skeptics Slack chat room, not any other Slack chat room)


October 2017 Organizational Meeting Updates

Posted on : 19-11-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


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 from folks who weren’t able to attend. Specifically, we started drafting a charter, roles & responsibilities document, and a brainstorm of topics/activities of interests.

Please take a look at them below and let us know what you think via comments in each Google Doc! For roles & responsibilities, we’re more than happy to have folks volunteer to take on different ones if they’re interested :)

Boston Skeptics Organizational Meeting

Posted on : 22-10-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


When: Monday, October 30 @ 7 PM

Where: Cambridge Public Library Community Room

RSVP here

Attention Boston Skeptics members, old and new! We’re holding an organizational meeting for all of us to regroup and brainstorm ideas for the future of Boston Skeptics. This meeting is open to anyone who is interested in Boston Skeptics, whether or not you’ve been to past meetups. Here’s draft the agenda for the meeting, but bring your ideas for events and locations!

We’ll be meeting at the Cambridge Public Library Community Room, which is located on the library’s L2 second floor underground (as shown below). The Cambridge Public Library is a ~9 minute walk from the Harvard Square T station.

Since we’re allowed to have refreshments in the Community Room, we’re encouraging anyone who attends to bring along a snack or (non-alcoholic) drink to share (anything Halloween-themed is a plus!).

Cambridge Public Library Community Room map

Cambridge Public Library Community Room map



SitP: Dr. Clay Jones on Folklore in Modern Pediatric Medicine

Posted on : 23-07-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


Clay Jones, M.D. is a pediatrician practicing at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA, and a regular contributor to the Science-Based Medicine (SBM) blog. He primarily cares for healthy newborns and hospitalized children, and devotes his full time to educating pediatric residents and medical students.

Dr. Jones first became aware of and interested in the incursion of pseudoscience into his chosen profession while completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital a decade ago. He has since focused his efforts on teaching the application of critical thinking and scientific skepticism to the practice of pediatric medicine. Dr. Jones can be found on Twitter as @skepticpedi and is the co-host of The Prism Podcast with SBM contributor Grant Ritchey.

Come join us from 7-9pm on Monday, August 21st at the Sunset Cantina at 916 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 as Dr. Jones presents his speech from the 2017 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism about the role of ancient folklore in modern beliefs about health and medicine, especially in pediatrics.

How to RSVP

On Facebook


On Meetup


Gauging interest in “Food Evolution” screening in Boston area

Posted on : 15-07-2017 | By : Justin | In : Blog Post


Food Evolution is a new documentary that explores the science around GMOs as well as the public debate/perception about them. Boston Skeptics is looking to setup a screening of the film in the Boston area (Cambridge/Somerville/Boston), but we need at least 50 people with confirmed attendance to do so.

If you’re interested, please fill out this survey so we can get a rough headcount of people who would like attend (also share with anyone you think would also be interested!):


SitP: David Ropeik and the Risk Perception Gap

Posted on : 20-05-2015 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Event, Skeptics in the Pub

Tags: , , , ,


Update! Thanks to Andrea and Francois, we now have a video of David Ropeik’s talk available on our Vimeo channel.

This month's speaker, Davic Ropeik

David Ropeik will be speaking on the gap between risk and risk perception

Our guest this month is David Ropeik, a writer, teacher, investigative journalist and consultant. Formerly a reporter for WCVB-TV, Channel 5 in Boston, he has taught journalism and the psychology of risk perception, communication and management for many years.

Mr. Ropeik is an Instructor at Harvard University, author, and consultant on the psychology of risk perception, risk communication, and risk management. He is author of How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match The Facts and co-author of RISK: A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World Around You.

He is a widely cited expert on risk perception in the general press and he blogs for BigThink.com, Psychology Today, Nature, Scientific American, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, and The Huffington Post.

Mr. Ropeik was a television reporter in Boston from 1978 – 2000, where he twice won the DuPont Columbia Award, often referred to as the Pulitzer Prize of broadcast journalism, along many other awards. He wrote a science column for The Boston Globe 1998-2000. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT 1994-95.

He is creator and director of the program “Improving Media Coverage of Risk”, a training program for journalists.

He has taught journalism at Boston University, Tufts University, MIT, and Northwestern University.

Risk perception is a topic close to many skeptics, as we see our friends, neighbors, families and, despite our best intentions, ourselves, make poor self-destructive choices about vaccinations, health care, the environment, diet, consumer purchases, politics and many other avenues of life. David Ropeik has written and talked extensively on how to communicate an accurate assessment of risk to people, helping them better understand why their instincts and fears and doubts might be doing them more harm than good.


Why we worry too much about some things, not enough about others, the danger that poses, and what we can do about it.

As scientifically as many risks have been studied, so have the cognitive processes of risk perception. Research has revealed that risk perception is a fascinating, complex, and ultimately subjective system influenced more by instinct and feeling than intellect and fact. As a result it produces perceptions that sometimes fly in the face of the evidence and lead to judgments and behaviors that may feel right, but actually create risks all by themselves.

This presentation will summarize how subjective risk perception works and why the Risk Perception Gap occurs, which is the first step toward minimizing the risks our risk MISperceptions can cause.

New Location: We will be meeting at 7PM on Monday, May 25, 2015 in the third floor of The Hong Kong Restaurant, 1238 Mass Ave in Harvard Square, Cambridge. RSVP on our Facebook event page. This is our first meeting at the Hong Kong, so it is important that people register in advance so the restaurant will know what to expect and will have adequate staffing. Also, it would be good to arrive a little early if you possibly can to allow time for ordering dinner and/or drinks before the talk begins.

Note: links to Amazon are for informational purposes only. Please feel free to patronize your local library or bricks-and-mortar book store!