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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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Predicting The Exchange of Money – Psychic Fairs

Posted on : 20-08-2009 | By : maggie | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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It’s time once again, ladies and gents, for the truth to set you free, for the dead to speak, the bones to talk and for you to peer into the spirit world and thwart its dastardly interference in your day-to-day dealings. That’s right, it’s psychic fair time in Bridgewater, MA. Or at least it was a couple of Saturdays ago and will be again the second Saturday of next month when the whole charade is played out again for the curious, gullible and/or those mired in something akin to false hope syndrome.

Throughout the year, events such as this entice people to pay a fee (the Bridgewater fair at Uplifting Connections is $1 per minute and runs for 7 hours) to sit and have someone tell you what you what they think you want to hear and, by way of some vague generalities, make you feel that they truly know the secrets to make your life better. And sometimes, to keep it mysterious and interesting, maybe giving you a little spook. For while these fairs, which resemble speed-dating more than anything, may be a recent phenomenon, the tricks of the trade have changed little from the hokey carnival mediums of old who were just as adept at taking your money.

The Woo Around Us: Dahn Yoga

Posted on : 18-08-2009 | By : Jared | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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Continuing our tour of local purveyors of woo, we come next to Dahn Yoga.  Now, aside from the fact that it often pushes certain woo-ish ideas, yoga can be a valid form of exercise. I’ve generally forgiven it for its excesses because of this, and would have done the same for the Dahn Yoga centers I see both near my job (in the Back Bay) and my home (in Cambridge), too.

But back in February, we were fortunate enough to get the inimitable Tim Farley, of WhatsTheHarm.net, as our speaker for Boston Skeptics in the Pub. Amongst other things, Tim talked about a woman named Julia Siverls who died during a Dahn-sponsored course. This piqued my curiosity and prompted me to look into things a bit more deeply.

Creationist in Boston: Recap!

Posted on : 17-08-2009 | By : Rebecca | In : Blog Post, Event, skepticism

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How does one adequately sum up a lecture delivered by a grown man who believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, and who in an attempt to validate his absurd belief discounts centuries of astronomical and geological evidence with one Powerpoint slide each?

Such is the challenge I face this morning in attempting to describe for you the idiocy I and my fellow Boston Skeptics and Boston Atheists witnessed last night. Luckily, creationist and recent Harvard PhD Nathaniel Jeanson delivered identical lectures yesterday morning and evening, and Jeff Eyges, who attended the morning lecture, did a wonderful job of summing up the basics over on Pharyngula. There’s also a very nice overview from a member of Boston Atheists, and Boston Skeptic Andy Clayman gave a recap in the comments here. Read those, and in the meantime I’ll give you my own quickie recap:

So Tell Me About Your Mother

Posted on : 15-08-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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If there’s one thing the world needs more of, apart from free baklava dispensers on every corner, it’s cheap Freudian pop psychoanalysis. Thankfully, Dr. Stephen Bergman, evidently a local author of some note, is here with precisely that.

I’m not about to question Dr. Bergman’s credentials. He got his MD from Harvard Medical School, where he’s now a professor, and was a Rhodes Scholar. I’m willing to grant that the dude knows what he’s talking about.

But credentials only get you so far, and they certainly don’t excuse you from writing crap op-eds. Even if the claims is based on the strongest of scientific evidence, what Dr. Bergman gives us are just anecdotes. Well, anecdotes and an off-hand reference to “work leading gender dialogues between thousands of men and women, boys and girls”. I bet there’s interesting research to be done there, but you won’t hear about it in this article. No, the methods here come straight from the “Austrian witch-doctor”, as Nabokov called him.

Step one: Take an anecdote from a patient.

When he was 6, he had been beaten up at school. He wasn’t hurt physically, but felt terrible. He walked home up the railroad tracks through the woods so no one would see him crying, and couldn’t wait to tell his mother. […] She turned around, saw the tears, and with concern asked, “What’s wrong, dear?’’ Despite wanting to tell her, he said, “Nothing,’’ turned away and walked back out.

Step two: Generalise like a motherfucker.

Although we all – boys and girls – come into the world with a primary desire for connection, there is an early fork in the path.

Step three: Find a way to work mothers in somehow.

Many boys are pushed by the culture to disconnect from their relationship with mother in order to grow, and become less valued for their relationships and more valued for themselves […]

Step four: ???

Step five: Profit! By which I mean collect a paycheck from the Boston Globe.

This is a guy who has, in his fiction books and in other op-eds, stressed the idea that patients are individuals and much be approached as such. Yet here he is painting with a broad brush and declaring that men — all men — have difficulty opening up in relationships because boys — all boys — are pushed by some magical force to not develop deep connections with their mothers. And you should trust him when he says so, because he has a story from a patient to prove it.

The Woo Around Us: The Lydian Center

Posted on : 10-08-2009 | By : Jared | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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Sometimes, living here in the Boston area and spending so much time with the Boston Skeptics can have an insulating effect, to the point where you almost forget that weeds of woo might be growing in your own back yard.

A few months back, I was riding the T when I noticed ads for something called The Lydian Center just down the road in Cambridge. At first glance, these ads (promoting information sessions about health issues) seemed innocuous enough. My BS detector started to go off when I saw that one particular session advocated natural medicine’s role in pregnancy and childbirth. Once I dug a little bit deeper, it became clear to me that the Lydian Center was far worse than those seemingly-benign ads let on.

Thinking Critically About Fun and Games

Posted on : 07-08-2009 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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Games are meant to be fun. I am a teacher (and therefore am constantly on the lookout for so-called “teachable moments”), but even I know that not all kids’ games need to have some underlying educational goal.  Socialization and entertainment are perfectly legitimate goals.  However, when an educational theme is introduced into a game, some measure of intellectual responsibility must be accepted. I have been thinking about this subject frequently during my time working as an aide for children with special needs at a summer recreation camp in Brookline (a town known for quality education), particularly after one bizarre experience.

Sports are always difficult for my children, so imagine my delight when the sports teacher at the recreation camp announced the name of our next game: Evolution. Evolution?! My skepdar gave a momentary squee—until I realized that the odds of this game being a scientifically accurate portrayal of evolution were about the same as the odds of a homeopathic cure for…well, anything besides thirst. I expected inaccuracy.  What I got was a truly spectacular display of ridiculousness.

Abortion, Skepticism, and the Importance of Standing Firm

Posted on : 05-08-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post, skepticism

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So, apparently, an abortion clinic run by Women’s Health Services is moving into an empty building in Brookline, which used to house a Hollywood Video. Some asshats brought up a lawsuit to prevent them from doing so. What may surprise you is the justification:

“If you ever have observed protesters at an abortion clinic, they carry signs, which are alarming in their graphic detail of aborted fetuses. They have life-sized statues of the Virgin Mary, and they usually have somebody dressed as the grim reaper,” said May. “I don’t know how the town could have overlooked the emotional harm that could come to children by allowing the clinic to operate at that location.”

Yes, that’s right. Women’s Health Services can’t put their clinic there because ZOMG ABORTION PROTESTERS ARE SCARY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

New on Bostonist: BS in the Metro

Posted on : 05-02-2009 | By : Rebecca | In : skepticism

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Readers of the free daily Boston Metro (slogan: “you get what you pay for!”) may enjoy my most recent Bostonist post, which begins:

Times are tough for magazines and newspapers in need of advertising dollars. That may be why the Boston Metro is raking in the bucks by devoting full two-page spreads to the printed version of the infomercial, cleverly disguised as actual articles with the word “advertisement” printed in tiny font above them.

Though not as endearing as the ShamWow or the ubiquitous Snuggie, the Metro’s ads do have a certain amount of cheesiness. Last month, commuters were treated to HeatSurge’s miracle Amish electric fireplaces. These really are a miracle, considering that the Amish completely reject technology like, oh, electricity. The ads came complete with Photoshop-ilicious pics of Amishy-looking people in a barn, putting the finishing touches on blazing electric fireplaces. “Call this 1-800 number in the next 48 hours only! Hurry!” Sure. As it happens, the Amish only made the mantles and the Better Business Bureau received dozens of complains about the company, which has advertised the heaters as “free”—with the purchase of a $300 Amish-made mantle.

>>read more on Bostonist