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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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SitP: Pub Hangout

Posted on : 06-07-2013 | By : John | In : Blog Post, local, Skeptics in the Pub

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This month we don’t have a formal program or speaker, so we can get down to the serious business of being skeptical about drinking. Is beer a drink or a food? If (for fans of Mary Roach), you run your shepherd’s pie through a blender, fletcherizing it, does it become a drink? Should you chew Guinness?

Answers to all these questions, or anything else you care to discuss, can be had at the July Boston Skeptics in the Pub, Monday, July 15 at 7:00 PM in Tommy Doyle’s Pub, 65 Winthrop St (Harvard Square) in Cambridge. You can RSVP or comment on Facebook if you wish.

SitP: Shelley Segal

Posted on : 29-04-2013 | By : John | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Australian atheist singer/songwriter Shelley Segal will be appearing at Tommy Doyles’s On Monday, May 6th at 7PM. Come listen to her music, the samples I’ve heard and and the reviews I’ve read sound fantastic!

There are lyrics and short snippets of several of her songs on her web site and a few videos of complete songs. They are clever and imaginative, with some great metaphors (House With No Walls, for example.) Musically, she has a diversity of styles ranging from straight-up folk to jazzy New Wave (Saved reminds me of Joe Jackson’s first album.) I Don’t Believe in Fairies would make a great Halloween song, especially if played on a carnival-style calliope!

As Apocalyptic Love Song says,

“And yes I understand that my whole life is just a blink of an eye
in the history of the earth”

so don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Shelley perform!

And her logo has a lizard…Logo with lizard What’s not to love?

Shelley will be performing at our next Skeptics in the Pub at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square on Monday May 6 (note the date, not our usual last Monday), at 7 PM. You can RSVP on our Facebook event page if you wish.

P.S. I must confess I haven’t actually heard her perform in person, but did get to meet her last time she was in town, when she attended a previous SitP, and she was a great person to hang out and drink skeptically with.

SitP: Seth Mnookin

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

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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.

Skeptics in the Pub: Caroline Fiennes

Posted on : 02-10-2012 | By : John | In : Event, local

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Fiennes' book coverLate breaking news! The October SitP will be 3 weeks early! All contributions will be matched 2 for one, up to a total of zero dollars! Don’t let this opportunity slip by! Think of the Childrens!
Our guest speaker, Caroline Fiennes, has written a new book about using the principles of skepticism to evaluate the effectiveness of charities. It Ain’t What You Give, It’s the Way That You Give It: Making Charitable Donations That Get Results appears to be “terrific and timely”, to quote one of the 2 Amazon reviews (both 5 stars.)

‘Caroline Fiennes explains how to balance heart and mind for serious philanthropy. She emphasises with clarity the importance of evidence and economics for to maximise good deeds per dollar‘ – Simon Singh, science writer

Caroline will have some copies of her book available.

We will be meeting downstairs, in the lounge, at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square on Wednesday, Oct 10 at 7 PM.

RSVP on FaceBook.

Skeptics in the Pub: Trivia

Posted on : 18-09-2012 | By : John | In : Skeptics in the Pub

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This month’s SitP topic is serious. Deadly serious. It is devoted to the fifth, sixth and seventh most important subjects of proper medieval education: Trivia!

We’ll be meeting in the lounge at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. (Question 1: where is “the lounge?” Hint: it is the nice name for the basement.) We’ll be meeting at our usual time of 7PM on the last Monday of September, the 24th. (Question 2: What movie won the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Cinematography for 2007? Hint: At the SitP, There Will Be Beer.)

Sign up on our Facebook event page if you do the FB thing. (Question 3: Where can you find a link to a map showing the location of a major skeptical event in the Boston area? Hint: Check the Facebook page.)

Skeptics in the Pub with Maggie Koerth-Baker

Posted on : 01-03-2012 | By : John | In : Skeptics in the Pub

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Maggie Koerth-Baker recently wrote “The trouble with making these kind of decisions, though, is that there’s lots of room for reasonable people to disagree.” She sounds like a reasonable person, so let’s all gang up on her!

Her talk will tell the story of our electric infrastructure–where it came from, how it works today, and how it will have to change to meet the needs of a new generation.

Cover of Maggie Koerth-Baker's new book Ms Koerth-Baker has written a new book called “Before the Lights Go Out” about

“some of the big-picture nuance that gets left out of the day-to-day chatter about energy. What are the big trends that will shape what we can and can’t do over the next 40 years? How does our electricity infrastructure work, and why is that infrastructure a lot more interesting (and a lot more complicated) than most laypeople realize? There’s a lot of storytelling, and some fun and funny history of how our current infrastructure came to be. There’s critical analysis explaining both why we have to solve our energy problem, and why solving it is going to be harder than many climate hawks want to believe. In general, the book is meant to make a confusing subject accessible and offer a more nuanced perspective on a topic that tends to be very ideology driven.”

The book will be published April 10. (Update: Some advanced copies will be available.)

Several of the back-cover reviews are by people who should be very familiar to members of the Boston Skeptics Book Club. Mary Roach (Stiff, Spook and Packing for Mars) called it, “a fine, cracking read.” Carl Zimmer (Parasite Rex) says, “Maggie Koerth-Baker is one of the most innovative science writers at work today. Rather than settling for cheap flash, she burrows deep into many of the biggest mysteries in science and technology and comes out with wonderfully clear explanations”.

Many of the subjects that skeptics deal with, like ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot and ESP, are amusing examples of fallacious reasoning and illuminate interesting flaws in perception and the human brain, but, except in the cases of rare individuals, have no important effect on most people’s lives. But a few subjects, such as energy generation, storage and distribution, are areas where science and technology meet society in profound and important ways. I would class it with alternative medicine and religious fundamentalism and their interference with science (particularly in their denial of biology and evolution) and AGW denialism as important topics for applying critical thinking.

When discussing these topics, it is essential to start with a firm factual basis, which is what Ms Koerth-Baker’s book promises to provide.

Please come hear this important talk.

Maggie Koerth-Baker is both a freelancer and the science editor at BoingBoing.net, one of the most widely read blogs in the U.S. Her work has appeared in print publications like Discover, Popular Science, and New Scientist, and online at websites like Scientific American and National Geographic News.

We will be meeting a week later than usual, on April 2, at 7 PM at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Tiny chameleons from Madagascar
Meanwhile, if this subject is too depressing (it shouldn’t be, since we can and will eventually solve it, the only questions being at what cost and who pays), look at the lizards!

SitP: Holiday Hooligans’ War on Christmas

Posted on : 13-12-2011 | By : John | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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In what is becoming a tradition, we’ll be fighting the good fight against the Christmas traditions by celebrating them to max. Actually, we’ll be doing a Yankee Swap and socializing.

We’re a week early this month (due to the dread “Ch” word), but at the usual time and place, Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub in Harvard Square, 7 to 9 PM on Monday, December 19, 2011. Please bring a small, geeky, nerdy, cheap (under $10) skeptical gift so you can participate in the Swap, but if you’d rather not, then just come and socialize and laugh as the participants try to strategize. (I got an awesome pirate skull mug last year.)

RSVP on Facebook, if that’s your thing.

Sex! Morality! Women! Law! Skeptics in the Pub with Sean Faircloth!

Posted on : 16-09-2010 | By : Liz | In : Skeptics in the Pub

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So, September’s Skeptics in the Pub will be a week late, and therefore…in October.  But hey, that’s because we were able to hook a super awesome speaker: Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America.  You may have caught Sean’s excellent talk at TAM this year, but don’t worry, this won’t be a repeat (so you cool kids who went to TAM should still come!).  If you aren’t familiar with Sean, check out his bio.  Awesomeness: before joining the Secular Coalition, he was doing awesome stuff in the state legislature of my home, Maine.

Here’s what you need to know:

When: Monday, Oct. 4th at 7pm
Speaker: Sean Faircloth
Title: Sex! Morality! Women! Law!
Where: Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square

If you are on facebook, don’t forget to rsvp.  See you there!

Boston Skeptics in the Pub with Jon Ronson

Posted on : 05-05-2010 | By : Jared | In : Blog Post, Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Skeptics in the Pub: Mothers’ Day Special

with Jon Ronson

Sunday, May 9, 2010
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square (top floor)
96 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA

Facebook event page

Good news, Everyone! You’re all invited to a SPECIAL Boston Skeptics in the Pub this Sunday evening, when our guest will be the FANTASTIC Jon Ronson.

Jon is probably best known as the author of the book “The Men Who Stare At Goats,” which became a movie starring George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. Jon’s written several other books, and his journalistic work has appeared widely in print in the UK and elsewhere. Additionally, Jon has appeared several times on Public Radio International’s “This American Life,” and has created documentary series for TV and radio.

Jon is a charismatic, funny, self-deprecating speaker, and while we KNOW Sunday is Mothers’ Day, you could still cap off the day by bringing your moms to Tommy Doyle’s to listen to Jon’s talk! And yes, while the event is FREE OF CHARGE, your mom doesn’t have to know that… tell her you got her a ticket as a present! BONUS!

Either way, as Jon himself said on Twitter, “[W]e’ll have just the greatest time,” so don’t miss out!

Boston Skeptics in the Pub: TIME WARP Edition!

Posted on : 11-02-2010 | By : Jared | In : Event, Skeptics in the Pub

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Skeptics in the Pub: February Edition

with Jeff Lieberman!!

Monday, February 22, 2010 (pronounced “twentington”)
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square (top floor)
96 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA

Facebook event page

Well, it’s been a few months since we’ve had a speaker here at Skeptics in the Pub, so we’re absolutely JAZZED to be able to bring you Jeff Lieberman as February’s special guest!

Jeff will no doubt be familiar to some of you as the host of Time Warp on the Discovery Channel! Time Warp uses high-speed photography to show you ordinary things in extraordinary detail. If you’ve ever noticed a strange amount of Cambridge-area content, well, that may be because Jeff is a local!

In addition to his work on Time Warp, Jeff is a renaissance man, and is well known in several fields! He’s an MIT trained scientist, with degrees in Math, Physics, Engineering, and Media. He plays electronic music in the group “gloobic,” makes his way through the art world for both photography and sculpture, and is also a roboticist who MAY be building a robot to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Well, I made up the “taking over the world” part… or did I?

At any rate, come on out for Jeff’s talk, and you can ask him questions about any and all of those things! Get there early, we’re sure this going to be a popular talk. RSVP in the comments or over on Facebook to let us know you’re coming, so we can let Tommy Doyle’s know how many people to expect. We hope to see you all there, as the material covered WILL be on your final exam! :)

NB: Don’t forget about our Brunch this Saturday! The fact that we’re bumping that post is NO excuse for slacking!