Featured Posts

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

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

Read more

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...

Read more

  • Prev
  • Next

SitP: Seth Mnookin

Posted on : 01-12-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Event, Skeptics in the Pub

Tags: , , ,

0

Our speaker at the December Skeptics in the Pub is science writer Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus:A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear as well as books about the Red Sox and journalistic ethics. He teaches science writing right down the river at MIT. Seth has been embedded in the front lines of the Vaxx Wars, and will share his experiences with us on Monday, Dec 10 at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square, upstairs at 7 PM as usual.

If, like me, you believe one of the most important things skeptics can do is combat pseudoscience in medicine, don’t miss this event. In The Panic Virus (see a review by our own Todd W.), Mnookin has thoroughly researched the modern vaccine/autism controversy and its history from Wakefield’s 1998 paper through his eventual disgrace and loss of his medical license. He has looked at the issue from all sides and reaches the conclusion that, like many manufactured scientific controversies, there aren’t two equally valid sides to every issue, as conventional journalist wisdom would hold, but one side with evidence, logic and science and another side with a mix of economic interests (the cynical purveyors of alternative, untested or disproven medical theories and practices) and wishful or magical thinking (the desperate people who turn to them for help and the enablers who truly believe they are fighting for the little guys against powerful vested interests.)

In the end, the problems tackled by the book, like so much skeptical literature, also leads to a deeper understanding of why people believe false and ultimate harmful ideas:

In The Panic Virus, Seth Mnookin draws on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists to tackle a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? The fascinating answer helps explain everything from the persistence of conspiracy theories about 9/11 to the appeal of talk-show hosts who demand that President Obama “prove” he was born in America.

This promises to be a fascinating and important discussion.

See our Facebook event page for more information.

Book Club: “Bonk” by Mary Roach

Posted on : 19-11-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Book Club

Tags: , ,

0

Book coverWhen my nephew was 5, his favorite board game was Trouble. (If you aren’t familiar with the game, each player has several peg-like markers that they move around the holes on the edge of the board. The winner is the first player to move all their markers completely around the board. If a player’s marker lands on a hole occupied by another player’s marker, the second marker is sent back to the start. In my family, traditionally when this happens, the player says “Bonky Bonk Bonk” and chortles maniacally.) My nephew loved getting bonked, and always played to lose. In contrast, his sister, then six, was ferociously competitive and always won, mostly due to the obscure rules she would make up on the spur of the moment that would guarantee her victory.

Mary Roach has written a book on Trouble, getting into it, staying out of it, game strategies, the history of the game, famous matches and so forth. At least, that’s what I assume is the topic of her book, Bonk, which is our next Book Club selection.

Oh, wait, never mind…

The actual subject of Bonk is “The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.” So, I was almost right.

In this book, Roach tackles yet another staid and boring scientific subject with “her outrageous curiosity and infectious wit” (according to the back cover.) I’m sure it will live up her three previous books we’ve read, Spook, Stiff and Packing For Mars.

We will be meeting at our usual location in the Northwest Science Building at Harvard at 3 PM on Saturday, December 8. RSVP on Facebook, if that’s your thing.

Skeptics in the Pub: Eric Schwartz

Posted on : 09-11-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Event, Skeptics in the Pub

Tags: , , ,

1

Eric Schwartz is a biologist from Tufts with an obsession for Monica and Bill. Since we are a very sciency group, he will be singing funny, not exactly G-rated songs about practical aspects of biology, including (maybe) Cialis, Prozac, the aforesaid Bill and Monica, the influence of 2000 year old dead guys on the male reproductive organ, and other songs his mother hates.

Eric will be our special guest at our next Skeptics in the Pub on Monday, November 19, 7 PM upstairs at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square.

RSVP on our Facebook event page (or here if you aren’t a Boston Skeptics member.)

Skeptics in the Pub: Trivia

Posted on : 21-02-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post, Skeptics in the Pub

Tags: , ,

0

Everyone knows Skeptics are a bunch of overeducated know-it-alls. Here’s your chance to prove it with objective data. Join us for a fun evening of discussion, dinner, drinking and knowing more and more about less and less until we know everything about nothing. All answers are final, and remember, this will count on your final grade.

The Seventh Doctor

Who is this person?


This month, we’ll be meeting in the luxurious main level at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square at 7:00 PM on Monday, Feb 27th. RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Book Club Today!

Posted on : 11-02-2012 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

0

Don't let the snow get you down, come to Book Club!

Don’t let the weather keep you cooped up, come over and socialize with the Boston Skeptics as we discuss Richard Wiseman’s Paranormality. We are meeting at 3pm today in Conference Room 169 in the Northwest Building at Harvard (see last month’s post for directions). Bring a snack if you wish (I’m bringing home-brewed beer and freshly-baked chocolate chip muffins). See you soon!

Book Club: Richard Wiseman’s “Paranormality”

Posted on : 15-01-2012 | By : John | In : Blog Post

0

Our next book will be Richard Wiseman’s “Paranormality”. We will be meeting at the same Book Time, same Book Place, on Saturday, February 11. I’ll be updating this post with more details shortly.

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club Today!

Posted on : 14-01-2012 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

0

How do HeLas keep in touch? ... Cell Phones. OK, I know that was really bad, but did you know there are a dearth of jokes about HeLa cells?

 

Today we’re meeting in our usual conference room (#169 in the Northwest Building, 52 Oxford St, Harvard Campus, directions here) at 3pm to discuss HeLa cells and the life of Henrietta Lacks.
I don’t have any cell-themed treats to bring, but I will be making some yummy chocolate chip scones to go with John’s coffee! Everyone is welcome, and please bring a snack if you can. Skeptics away!

The Path of Autism Causation Research

Posted on : 09-12-2011 | By : Todd W. | In : Blog Post, Member Post, skepticism

0

Boston Skeptics’ Book Club Today!

Posted on : 03-12-2011 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

2

Come join us at 3pm in the Northwest Building at the Harvard Campus (52 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA). We’re booked in Conference Room 169 and if you ask the guards in the front of the building they will let you know where to go. Or you can just follow the directions here.

Come and listen to the various (and true) ways in which the Earth may meet its end as we discuss Phil Plait’s Death from the Skies. Fortunately, the End Isn’t Near! (Now, who’s going to correct all those people with the signs?) Bring a snack if you want and come join us this afternoon.

 

Book Club Today: Update on the Meeting Spot

Posted on : 05-11-2011 | By : Mary | In : Blog Post

0

Hey everyone, just an update on Book Club at 3pm: We’re meeting at the same place we met for the last meeting, Conference Room 169 in the Northwest Building at Harvard (52 Oxford St). Directions are here. Andy and I shall be there early to let people in the building.

We’re meeting to discuss Stiff by Mary Roach. Bring a snack if you want (you may want to avoid anything that resembles organs and blood, so save the kidney pie for next time). You shan’t be disappointed!