Sunday, November 05, 2017

December 9 - Skepticism and the Law: Or, How to Earn Billions With Your Birth Certificate AND Make Bernie Sanders President Using this ONE WEIRD TRICK

Presented by P. Andrew Torrez

Skeptics are well-versed in applying the tools of critical thinking to a variety of claims we see in everyday life, from quack medicine to religion to agriculture. But for some reason, skeptics tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to equally preposterous claims about the law. As the co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, Andrew Torrez shares some of the most preposterous and unbelievable real-life questions that he's gotten from skeptics just like you about the law. Is there really a shadowy cabal of international bankers to whom your entire life has been pledged as collateral from birth? Did a watchdog group really file a petition before the Supreme Court to undo the 2016 Presidential Election? Do criminals frequently escape justice due to technicalities? This talk will equip you with the tools to help separate legal fact from legal fiction -- without having to earn a law degree of your own.

After nearly 20 years in big firms, P. Andrew Torrez founded his own law firm in 2015 to serve start-up and small businesses in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In 2016, he started the podcast Opening Arguments to explain legal concepts in the news to non-lawyers; today, the show is one of the most popular news & politics podcasts with nearly 2.5 million downloads to date.Andrew Torrez is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School with honors, is a member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland chapter of the Federal Bar Association, has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and has been repeatedly honored as one of Maryland's top lawyers by Benchmark since 2011.


Saturday, December 9, 2017
1:30 pm

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD
Directions: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bcc/directions.html

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • November 4 lecture - Professor Daniele Podini - Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Investigations
  • December 9 lecture - Andrew Torrez - Skepticism and the Law
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals


NCAS Public Lecture Series

Familial DNA Searching:
An Investigative Tool that Increases Public Safety?
Or an Illegitimate Practice of Genetic Surveillance?

Daniele Podini, PhD

Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences
The George Washington University

Saturday, November 4, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Argosy University
1550 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 712
Arlington, VA [map] [directions]
(Near Rosslyn Metro stop)
Enter parking garage from N Pierce Street.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members
Please arrive before 1:30 so we can provide passage through the building access control system.

Conventional forensic DNA analysis is an effective approach for human individual identification as long as the profile of the perpetrator is already available to the investigators, but fails if not. In such “suspect-less” cases familial DNA searching can be used as a tool to identify potential suspects. In familial DNA searching, a profile from the crime scene, likely belonging to the perpetrator, is searched against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Partial hits are used by investigators to focus on close family members of the persons whose DNA profile is in CODIS. Familial DNA searching has been one of the most controversial aspects of DNA technology. It has been used in California and other states but was forbidden in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Dr. Podini will be presenting two conflicting perspectives: is familial searching a tool that can be used to generate investigative leads and that can result in identifying the culprit or is it a practice with profound racial justice implications, that effectively puts under genetic surveillance innocent families and primarily certain minorities?

Daniele Podini is Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He previously served as the Assistant Chief of the Biology Section of the Scientific Department of the Carabinieri - Italian military Armed Force. Later he created and directed the Forensic Section of Genoma, a private molecular biology laboratory in Rome. He consulted with laboratories in Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia, and Algeria to aid in the establishment of Molecular Genetic Sections, and the development of specific forensic capabilities. The research conducted in his lab ranges from developing assays to infer biogeographic ancestry and physical traits, to working on high throughput detection of sperm cells from sexual assault evidence, and from obtaining DNA from fired cartridge cases to developing methods to enhance DNA mixture deconvolution with the most recent DNA sequencing technology available.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/10/november-4-familial-dna-searching.html

Shadow of a Doubt - October 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


  • October 14 lecture- Bruce Press - The Science of Fake News
  • November 4 lecture - Professor Daniele Podini - Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Investigations
  • Happy Friday the 13th!
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals


NCAS Public Lecture Series

The Science of Fake News

Bruce Press

Saturday, October 14, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
2nd Floor (West Room)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

Fake News comes in many guises. Propaganda, mistakes, overly broad generalizations, conspiracy theories, counter-intelligence, politically motivated reasoning, outright lies and more...  Like you, Bruce Press has recognized the existence of "Fake News" for a long time but his comprehension of the serious impact it has on society began to crystallize while researching conspiracy theories a few years ago.

"Fake News" has, seemingly, become a fundamental part of the U.S. media landscape in just the last couple of years. However, as many of you know, it has been there with less fanfare for a very long time. Examples come from both obvious and surprising sources with new ones every day. This talk will attempt to go beyond the recognition of specific instances to the science of how they impact individuals and society.

Lightly touching on a broad range of subjects from memory and cognition to biases and social media will set up a discussion on how we can better interact with the modern media landscape.

While currently in a second career as a photographer, Bruce Press spent almost thirty years as an engineer and software developer. His involvement with the skeptical community began more than a decade ago. Since then he has helped to organize investigative groups, skeptical conferences and co-created a skeptical monthly meetup in Baltimore for years. He has researched and spoken on various topics of interest to skeptics in a number of public venues.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/09/october-14-science-of-fake-news.html

Saturday, October 14, 2017

November 4 - Familial DNA Searching

An investigative tool that increases public safety, Or an illegitimate practice of genetic surveillance?

Presented by Daniele Podini, PhD
Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences
The George Washington University

Conventional forensic DNA analysis is an effective approach for human individual identification as long as the profile of the perpetrator is already available to the investigators, but fails if not. In such “suspect-less” cases familial DNA searching can be used as a tool identify potential suspects. In familial DNA searching a profile from the crime scene, likely belonging to the perpetrator, is searched against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Partial hits are used by investigators to focus on close family members of the persons whose DNA profile is in CODIS. Familial DNA searching has been one of the most controversial aspects of DNA technology. It has been used in California and other states but was forbidden in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Dr. Podini will be presenting two conflicting perspectives: is familial searching a tool that can be used to generate investigative leads and that can result in identifying the culprit or is it a practice with profound racial justice implications, that effectively puts under genetic surveillance innocent families and primarily certain minorities?

Prof. Podini is Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He previously served as the Assistant Chief of the Biology Section of the Scientific Department of the Carabinieri - Italian military Armed Force. Later he created and directed the Forensic Section of Genoma, a private molecular biology laboratory in Rome. He consulted with laboratories in Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia, and Algeria to aid in the establishment of Molecular Genetic Sections, and the development of specific forensic capabilities. The research conducted in his lab ranges from developing assays to infer biogeographic ancestry and physical traits, to working on high throughput detection of sperm cells from sexual assault evidence, and from obtaining DNA from fired cartridge cases to developing methods to enhance DNA mixture deconvolution with the most recent DNA sequencing technology available.

Saturday, November 4, 2017
1:30 pm


Argosy University
1550 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 712
Arlington, VA

Near Rosslyn Metro. Parking garage accessible from N. Pierce Street.
There is controlled building access so please arrive on time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

October 14 - The Science of Fake News

Presented by Bruce Press

Fake News comes in many guises. Propaganda, mistakes, overly broad generalizations, conspiracy theories, counter-intelligence, politically motivated reasoning, outright lies and more...  Like you, Mr. Press has recognized the existence of "Fake News" for a long time but his comprehension of the serious impact it has on society began to crystallize while researching conspiracy theories a few years ago.

"Fake News" has, seemingly, become a fundamental part of the U.S. media landscape in just the last couple of years. However, as many of you know, it has been there with less fanfare for a very long time. Examples come from both obvious and surprising sources with new ones every day. This talk will attempt to go beyond the recognition of specific instances to the science of how they impact individuals and society.



Lightly touching on a broad range of subjects from memory and cognition to biases and social media will set up a discussion on how we can better interact with the modern media landscape.

While currently in a second career as a photographer, Bruce Press spent almost thirty years as an engineer and software developer. His involvement with the skeptical community began more than a decade ago. Since then he has helped to organize investigative groups, skeptical conferences and co-created a skeptical monthly meetup in Baltimore for years. He has researched and spoken on various topics of interest to skeptics in a number of public venues.


Saturday, October 14, 2017
1:30 pm

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD
Directions: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bcc/directions.html
(Note that this is a return to a Bethesda location for our fall talks that we used over 10 years ago.)