The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
- NCAS Public Lecture Series - Life Beyond Earth: The Search is On, and the Results are Tantalizing - Marc Kaufman
- Torn From Today's Headlines By Scott Snell - Who Will be the Next US President? Look Not to the Crystal Ball or Tea Leaves, but to the Redskins Box Score
- "World Won't End in 2012" Lifetime Membership!
- Artpocalypse 2012
- Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and VA! - Wednesday, November 14
NCAS Public Lecture Series
Life Beyond Earth: The Search is On, and the Results are Tantalizing
Science Writer, Washington Post
Saturday, November 10, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
National Science Foundation, Room 110
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA [map] [directions]
(Ballston-Marymount University Metro stop)
Enter NSF from the corner of 9th N & N Stuart Streets.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members
Since the earliest days, humans have looked up to the skies and thought they saw life. It may have been in the form of gods and angels, djinns and flying saucers, but virtually all societies have projected life onto the heavens.
Those understandings were grounded in belief, but now science is taking the search for extraterrestrial life to a new level. The science of astrobiology is booming, and scientists from disciplines ranging from microbiology to chemistry, astronomy to cosmology are involved in what some have called the biggest scientific prize (and challenge) of the century.
Kaufman is currently researching his upcoming National Geographic book, covering the first year and a half of the travels of the Mars rover Curiosity. His most recent book, First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth, will be available for sale and signing after the lecture.
Refreshments and socializing after the talk.
Torn From Today's Headlines
By Scott Snell
Who Will be the Next US President? Look Not to the Crystal Ball or Tea Leaves, but to the Redskins Box Score
It's just a coincidence, and no one is claiming otherwise, but the "Redskins Rule" has held true for 17 (or 18) of the 18 US presidential elections since the Redskins moved to DC from Boston in 1937.
The "rule," as originally developed, states that "if the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the political party that won the previous presidential election wins the next election and that if the Redskins lose, the challenging party's candidate wins."
Steve Hirdt, the executive vice-president of Elias Sports Bureau, noticed this pattern in 2000 while preparing for the October 30 broadcast of a Redskins home game on ABC-TV's Monday Night Football. Searching for an election-related fact that commentator Dennis Miller could use, Hirdt made "a list of the last home game before the election because that was the game we were covering. I tried to align it with the Democrats or the Republicans and then looked at the incumbents. I was shocked to see it lined up exactly right, that whenever the Redskins won their last home game prior to the presidential election, the incumbent party retained the White House, and whenever the Redskins lost their last home game prior to the election, the out-of-power party won the White House."
Producer Don Ohlmeyer decided to use the information on-air that night as a two-page, full-screen graphic, and the rule has been roaming the memetic wilderness ever since.
Four years later, popular interest in the Redskins Rule was revived prior to the final home game before the election. The Redskins lost, but the incumbent party won the election, breaking the pattern of 16 consecutive correlations. Hirdt then devised "Redskins Rule 2.0," noting the unusual outcome of the 2000 election, for which Al Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College: "If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the political party that won the popular vote in the previous presidential election wins the next election and that if the Redskins lose, the challenging party's candidate wins."
The rule, in both forms, held true in 2008.
For skeptics, the rule can serve as a somewhat well-known and uncontroversial example of coincidences to share with the lay public. To date, apparently none of the mystical "everything happens for a reason, there are no coincidences" crowd is embracing this as a portent of the nation's destiny.
ESPN Front Row, blog post by Bill Hofheimer: "'Redskins Rule': MNF’s Hirdt on intersection of football & politics," October 30, 2012:
Wikipedia, "Redskins Rule"
"World Won't End in 2012" Lifetime Membership!
Proudly demonstrate your skepticism of the 2012 doomsayers' claims...buy a lifetime membership in NCAS before December 21, 2012, when the cost will increase by $100.
When December 22 comes around without even a tiny apocalypse, the long list of failed prophecies over the course of human history will get a little longer. But, verily, our prophecy of membership fee increase will indeed come to pass after many years of keeping costs down.
Use the online membership form to upgrade your membership.
The Maya 5125-year 13 Bak'tun Long Count cycle happens to end on a Friday. The timing couldn't be better for a party:
"Beginning at 7pm on the 21st of December, the general public is invited to come to The Dunes gallery in Columbia Heights (1402 Meridian Place NW) to help celebrate and party away our final moments on Earth. Come sample the unique paintings and sculpture while enjoying inspired music and drink as we all wait for 'the end' together. Because, if the end of the world is coming, we might as well enjoy it and be with friends."
"Artpocalypse" is the brain-child of Washington, DC professional visual artist Dana Ellyn, who wants to "create something special to celebrate the end of humanity."
Some members and contacts of NCAS receive a postal notification of this and every new monthly Shadow of a Doubt. The Shadow Light postcard announces the monthly lecture and highlights of the electronic Shadow of a Doubt, which is available online at ncas.org/shadow. NCAS thereby reduces Shadow production and postage costs. To further reduce costs, members and contacts can opt out of postal notification altogether, while continuing to receive Shadow of a Doubt via e-mail. To opt out, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and VA!
On Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m., please join fellow NCASers at either of our simultaneous DC-area Drinking Skeptically events:
8081 Georgia Avenue (entrance on Sligo Avenue) in Silver Spring, MD
The February 2011 issue of Washingtonian magazine features the Sidebar on its cover, for a story on the best bars in the DC area.
The Front Page Arlington
Rear patio / National Science Foundation atrium
4201 Wilson Blvd (across from Ballston Common Mall) in Arlington, VA
Drinking Skeptically is an informal social event designed to promote fellowship and networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, and like-minded individuals. There's no cover charge and all are welcome. Don't drink? Don't let that stop you from joining us! Some of the world's most famous skeptics are teetotalers, and we are happy to have you! Remember that drinking skeptically means drinking responsibly. If there's one thing science has taught us, it's the effects of alcohol on the human body.
New Postal Address
As of June 2012, NCAS has switched post office boxes, from 8428 to 8461:
National Capital Area Skeptics
P.O. Box 8461
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8461
Time to Renew?
Be sure to check your renewal date above your postal address on the Shadow Light postcard. Send any queries to email@example.com. Use the online membership form to renew.