Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Shadow of a Doubt - December 2016

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Jan 9 Lecture - A Brief History of Creation by Bill Mesler
  • Torn From Today's Headlines by Scott Snell
    The National Geographic Society Publishes Strange But True Collectors Edition
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically in MD and  VA!
  • Time to Renew?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

Presented by David J. Linden, PhD
Department of Neuroscience
The Johns Hopkins University

From skin to nerves to brain, our body’s touch circuits are a complex and often odd system that powerfully influences our lives, affecting everything from consumer choice and sexual behavior to tool use and the deep origins of language. Millions of years of evolution have endowed us with areas of the brain that are dedicated to processing touch signals; with a series of dedicated sensors and nerve fibers that predispose us to respond to a stimulus like a caress, but only if it’s administered at the proper velocity; with receptors in our skin that make mint feel cool and chili peppers hot. When we lift the hood of the brain, though, we discover there are actually two different systems for processing touch: one to extract basic sensory information, and another to register its particular emotional context. Without the latter, an orgasm would feel more like a sneeze—convulsive, but not especially compelling. Because of the latter, a gentle caress from a lover administered during an argument might feel unwelcome as a spider crawling across your arm.

Dr. Linden’s book Touch (Viking Press, 2015) is an engaging and fascinating examination of this critical interface between our bodies and the outside world, exploring every aspect of this remarkable sense.

David J. Linden is a professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The author of The Accidental Mind (2007) and The Compass of Pleasure (2011), he served for many years as the Chief Editor of The Journal of Neurophysiology. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his two children.

Saturday, February 13, 2016, 1:30 pm
National Science Foundation, Room 110
4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA (Ballston-MU Metro stop)
Enter NSF from the corner of 9th St. N & N. Stuart Streets. 
[map] [directions]

FREE admission – 
Everyone welcome, members and non-members. 
Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

For more information: 
- Email ncas@ncas.org
- Call the 24-hour Skeptic Line at 240-670-NCAS (6227)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jan 9 - A Brief History of Creation

Science and the Search for 

the Origin of Life

Bill Mesler

Author and Journalist

Bill Mesler will be discussing his new book, A Brief History of Creation.  Described as a “rich, masterfully woven tale of our still-evolving ideas about life and how it came to be” by author and scientist Sean Carroll, A Brief History of Creation is the epic tale of the often quixotic search to understand perhaps the most important question science has ever faced.  It is a story that encompasses many of the seminal moments in the history of science, and is filled with some of its most colorful and iconoclastic thinkers – Darwin, Pasteur, Crick and Woese, to name just a few.

Mesler will examine how the scientific search has been shaped by religion, philosophy and even politics.  He will discuss how the march of scientific progress is not nearly as straightforward as we often assume.

Bill Mesler is a veteran journalist who has worked for the daily Santa Cruz Sentinel, the weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian and The Nation magazine.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

1:30 pm

* * * I M P O R T A N T * * *
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we will be unable to use the National Science Foundation for this Saturday’s NCAS talk.  Instead, the talk will be held in the atrium behind The Front Page, which is in the same building as NSF (4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA).

The Front Page
4201 Wilson Blvd
Rear Atrium
Arlington, VA 



FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Shadow of a Doubt - December 2015

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Dec 12 Lecture - Forensic Follies: The Dark Side of CSI by Prof. Walter Rowe
  • Torn From Today's Headlines by Scott Snell
    CBS News Gratuitously Highlights "Bermuda Triangle" after Freighter is Sunk by a Hurricane
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically in MD and  VA!
  • Time to Renew?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Dec 12 - Forensic Follies: The Dark Side of CSI

Walter F. Rowe, PhD
Department of Forensic Sciences
The George Washington University
Forensic science enjoys an excellent reputation on television. TV shows such as Forensic Files, CSI and Bones laud the science and the scientists. However, in the real world forensic science is facing an existential crisis. Cases continue to come to light in which convictions were obtained by pseudo-science, by faked science or by science incorrectly applied. The victims of these miscarriages of justice have often languished in prison for decades. In one case an innocent man was executed because a fire investigator erroneously concluded an accidental fire was the result of arson. This presentation will explore examples of bad forensic science in order to identify the causes of these miscarriages of justice. It will also examine current efforts at the federal level to improve forensic science.