Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jan 11 - Professor Moses Schanfield - Where Did We All Come From? Tracing Human Migration using Genetic Markers

Of all species on the face of the earth, humans are the most disperse, in that they occupy the most diverse eco-systems present on all large land masses and most large islands.
In recent time, much work has been done using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA, and non-recombinant Y (NRY) chromosome markers to map human migration and ancestry.  In addition, large numbers of other DNA based markers have been used for similar purposes.  However, anthropological geneticists have been looking at human migration and ancestry for as long as there have been genetic markers, starting with the ABO blood groups.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - December 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • Dec 14 NCAS Lecture: Martin Gardner: Skeptic SupremeColm Mulcahy, PhD Department of Mathematics Spelman College
  • Torn From Today's Headlines: Sylvia Browne (1936-2013)
  • Jan 11 NCAS Lecture: Tracing Human Migration using Genetic Markers, Dr. Moses S. Schanfield, professor of forensic science at The George Washington University
  • Dec 11 Drinking Skeptically in MD & VA
  • Shadow Light
  • New Skeptic Line Number

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dec 14 - Colm Mulcahy - The Legacy of Martin Gardner, Skeptic Supreme

Join us for personal reminiscences and survey of the legacy of puzzle expert and rationality champion Martin Gardner (1914-2010) who wrote the book "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" over sixty years ago and later played a major role in the founding of CSICOP and Skeptical Inquirer.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Nov 9 NCAS Lecture: The World of Weird News: Bigfoot, UFOs and other Questionable Claims
  • Nov 13 Drinking Skeptically in MD & VA
  • Shadow Light
  • New Skeptic Line Number

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nov 9 - Sharon Hill - The World of Weird News: Bigfoot, UFOs and Other Questionable Claims

Weird news is its own niche on the web and in print. The more sensational the story, the more eyeballs it gets. Topics include Bigfoot and UFO sightings, hauntings, exorcism, witchcraft, mysteries, miracles, psychic predictions and conspiracies. We are barraged with claims that are seriously questionable. While entertaining, many people actually believe this stuff.  This is a fun tour through weird and wonderful news stories and an examination of how we think about doubtful news and the impact it has on society.

Sharon Hill is a writer, researcher, and consultant specializing in Science and Society issues. As creator and editor of the unique news and commentary site, DoubtfulNews.com, she advocates for a genuine skeptical take on alternative medicine, the paranormal, anomalous natural phenomena, cryptozoology and other weird news as well as promoting a rational, scientific outlook on these topics. With the help of other prominent skeptics, she spearheaded the "Media Guide to Skepticism" to explain the core of the philosophy and method of skepticism. Her current focus is on the "sham inquiry" of amateur paranormal investigators and their use of scientific language and activities to appear credible to the public. She is a licensed geologist in Pennsylvania and has 20 years experience in environmental regulations and policy.

Saturday, November 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

National Science Foundation
Room 110
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA (Map)
(One block south of the Ballston-MU Metro stop)
Enter NSF from the corner of 9th St. N. & N. Stuart Streets.
www.nsf.gov/about/visit

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

For more information, call the 24-hour Skeptic Line, 240-670-NCAS (6227)
ncas@ncas.org
www.ncas.org

Monday, October 07, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - October 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Oct 9 Drinking Skeptically in MD & VA
  • Oct 12 NCAS Lecture: Mysterious Delusions of Satan: Witchcraft at Salem
  • Nov 9 NCAS Lecture: The World of Weird News: Bigfoot, UFOs and other Questionable Claims
  • Dec 14 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award presentation to Phil Plait
  • Shadow Light
  • New Skeptic Line Number

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oct 12 - Prof. Walter F. Rowe - Mysterious Delusions of Satan: Witchcraft at Salem

In keeping with the approach of Halloween, Professor Rowe’s talk will examine the best known outbreak of witchcraft in the United States. He will discuss the events in Massachusetts in 1692-1693 that resulted in nineteen executions and one pressing to death. He will also critically evaluate the various attempts to provide naturalistic explanations for this witchcraft outbreak (lying, ergotism, epidemica lethargica, village factionalism, ‘uppity women,’ and the stresses of protracted warfare). Professor Rowe will also present the impact of the Salem Witchcraft Trials on popular culture.

Professor Walter F. Rowe is a Professor of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University, where he has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Forensic Sciences for more than 30 years. Professor Rowe has a B.S. in chemistry from Emory University and a Master’s and Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University.

He served two years in the U.S. Army crime laboratory system as a forensic drug chemist and a forensic serologist. During his military service Rowe was also a credentialed criminal investigator and participated in processing crime scenes (including the scene of the Fort Bragg murders, for which Dr. Jeffrey McDonald is now serving multiple life prison terms).

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a former member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Professor Rowe is also a member of ASTM Committee E30, which sets standards (including educational standards) for a variety of forensic science disciplines. He is also a member of the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners. Professor Rowe is a member of the Council of Forensic Educators and is a past president of that organization.

He has been a consultant forensic scientist to law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices and defense attorneys; Professor Rowe has worked closely with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project.

He has contributed chapters to monographs and textbooks in forensic science, including one of the two main textbooks used for undergraduate instruction in the field of forensic science.

Saturday, October 12, 2013
1:30 pm
Bethesda Regional Library
7400 Arlington Rd
Bethesda, MD (map)

FREE admission.
Everyone welcome, members and non-members.
Refreshments and socializing after the talk.
Weekend parking at the library is free.

For more information, call the 24-hour Skeptic Line at 240-670-NCAS (6227).
ncas@ncas.org
www.ncas.org

Monday, September 09, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - September 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Sep 21 NCAS Lecture: The Investigative Process: Solving a 1947 Mystery
  • Oct 12 NCAS Lecture: Mysterious Delusions of Satan: Witchcraft at Salem
  • Well Wishes to Bob Park
  • Shadow Light
  • Sep 13 Drinking Skeptically: Special Anti-Paraskevidekatriaphobia Edition
  • New Skeptic Line Number

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sep 21 - The Investigative Process: Solving a 1947 Mystery Antonio Paris

In the summer of 1947, according to local lore, a spacecraft of extraterrestrial origin allegedly crashed near Horse Springs, NM. Legend has it that several witnesses, including a local official, found the crashed disk – along with four aliens scattered among the debris. For decades, an army of armchair UFO investigators have attempted to find the crash site and some have even claimed to have found it – along with debris that was allegedly “not from this world.” In an effort to put the legend to rest, in 2013 the Aerial Phenomenon Investigations Team (API) embarked on an expedition to find the crash site. After a successful expedition, coupled with a thorough investigative process, the API Team is strongly convinced they have finally solved the mystery.

Antonio Paris, the Founder and Director of the organization Aerial Phenomena, is a former US Army Counterintelligence Officer and Department of Defense Counterintelligence Special Agent. He was awarded a Bronze Star for combat operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, Antonio works for the science, technology and engineering firm Science Applications International Corp. (ISR & Space Solutions Operation) in the Washington, DC area. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from The City University of New York and a Master of Science in Planetary Science from the American Public University. Antonio, moreover, is the Director and Founder of the Center for Planetary Science – an online science program bringing astronomy, planetary science, and astrophysics to the next generation of space explorers. 

Antonio is also a member of the Washington Academy of Sciences, the National Capital Astronomers, and is a certified STAR Team Field Investigator, Dive Team member, and Assistant State Director for MUFON. He has appeared in dozens of radio shows, webcasts, and cable TV interviews, including consulting work for the popular TV series Unsealed: The Alien Files. He is the author of Aerial Phenomena: Reviving Ufology for the 21st Century; and the director and producer for the popular documentary Area 51: A History of this Reclusive Base.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 (Note: This is the third Saturday)
1:30 pm
Bethesda Regional Library
7400 Arlington Rd
Bethesda, MD

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

For more information, call the 24-hour Skeptic Line at 240-670-NCAS (6227).
ncas@ncas.org
www.ncas.org

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30 - How To Be a Psychic! (A Free, Interactive Event)

A “Celebration” of the Techniques of Sylvia Browne and other Psychic Entertainers

Presented by the Independent Investigations Group of D.C., the National Capital Area Skeptics and Center for Inquiry D.C.

On Thursday, May 30, “psychic” Sylvia Browne will be appearing at The Birchmere to present “An Evening of Insights and Live Readings.” The IIG, NCAS and CFI will also be presenting an evening of insights and live readings that same night at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington, VA from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (4251 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, Virginia [map]). Sylvia's show costs $55 to observe and $99 if you want to ask her a question. Our event is even easier to get to than Sylvia’s, within walking distance of the Shirlington Village Bus Station, and best of all it’s FREE! Sound intriguing? Read on!

"How to Be a Psychic" will be two hours of fun and amazing (to some) social interactions where you might discover that you have hitherto unknown psychic powers - or that you're just reasonably OK at cold reading. Learn from a completely non-professional psychic instructor some of the same techniques that have given certain high profile entertainers lengthy careers and SERIOUS incomes. After a brief period of instruction, you'll have a chance to try out our new-found talents on others at the event. Then they'll have a chance to read you! And all for $99 less than what Sylvia Browne would charge you!

We also plan to show some video clips "honoring" Sylvia Browne and others like her, plus give every attendee their own "Psychic Bingo Card." And of course, you may enjoy whatever libations Busboys and Poets has available (not included in the cost of the event - which, did I mention, is FREE?).

Space for this event is limited, so if you plan on attending, PLEASE let us know by sending a message to rsvp@ncas.org.

For more information about cold reading, including our Psychic Reading Bingo Card, visit
http://www.ncas.org/p/psychic-reading-bingo-psychic-reading.html

IMPORTANT!: We don't want this event just to be "preaching to the choir." If you have a friend who is genuinely curious about those who claim to have psychic or clairvoyant powers, PLEASE bring them with you! (We promise we won't preach at them.)

Facebook event page
Meetup event page

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - May 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • How to be a Psychic - A “Celebration” of the Techniques of Sylvia Browne and Other Psychic Entertainers
  • Torn From Today's Headlines 
    By Scott Snell - 
    Browne Responds to Critics
  • NCAS SkepTour Recap
  • New Board Members Elected, Officers Chosen
  • "Skeptical Thinking" Talks at Balticon 47
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically
  • New Postal Address
  • New Skeptic Line Number

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11 - SkepTour! (A Skeptic's Walking Tour of D.C.)

Have you ever ...
-visited the former DC residence of "psychic" Jeanne Dixon?
-stood on the sidewalk where Houdini escaped from a straitjacket while suspended upside down 100 feet in the air?
-paid your respects to the remains of the world's leading academic Bigfoot researcher?

On Saturday, May 11, you can!

The National Capital Area Skeptics is compiling a skeptic's guide to the area. This isn't JUST the DC edition of Tobin's Spirit Guide; it includes landmarks of scientific, pseudo-scientific and cultural significance to skeptics. On Saturday, May 11, we will publish the first edition of the online guide, and celebrate by taking it to the streets for a leisurely 2.5 mile walk featuring highlights from the guide.

We will meet at Dupont Circle Metro north entrance (Connecticut Ave. and Q St, NW) at 1:30 pm (Look for Chip and Grace Denman, who should be holding something with our Skeptical Eye logo). Approximately 90 minutes later, we will end at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on the Mall. Along the way, we will point out locations corresponding to famous, infamous and just plain weird goings-on in the nation's capital.

The tour is free, and all are welcome. We encourage you to take Metro -- we start and end near Metro stops. PLEASE RSVP BY EMAIL SO WE HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW MANY ARE COMING.

The guide is an ongoing project for the National Capital Area Skeptics, and will include locations across the VA-MD-DC area. If you'd like to contribute suggestions, please write to SkepTour@ncas.org.


If you're coming to SkepTour! by Metro, be sure to check this page for any service disruptions:
http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/rail_Bus.cfm

SkepTour is still a GO, but you may want to bring an umbrella.

Facebook event notice.
Meetup event notice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Apr 13 - Steve Gimbel - Einstein's Jewish Science? Looking at Physics, Politics, and Religion

Saturday, Apr 13, 2013, 1:30pm
Bethesda Regional Library
7400 Arlington Rd Bethesda, MD [map]

Presented by Steve Gimbel, Chair, Department of Philosophy, Gettysburg College

Between the world wars, Nazi sympathizers tried to denigrate the theory of relativity by calling it "Jewish science." The Nazis, of course, were wrong. The notion of "religious science" usually brings to mind creationism, but our two best theories of gravitation before Einstein, those of Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton, bore indelible marks of their founders' theology. How did science change in the time leading up to Einstein to remove theological influence from physics?

Dr. Steve Gimbel is author of Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Edwin T. and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Chair for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Gettysburg College.

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

Free limited parking is available. The Bethesda Library is Metro accessible.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - April 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Einstein's Jewish Science?:  Looking at Physics, Politics, and Religion - Steve Gimbel
  • SkepTour -- A Skeptic's Field Guide to the National Capital Area: Saturday, May 11
  • Save the Date -- Thursday, May 30 Event
  • NCAS Board Elections: Electronic Voting
  • Feel The Power of the Dork Side - A Review by W.T. Bridgman
  • Drinking Skeptically, April 10
  • New Postal Address, New Phone Number

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Mar 9 - David H. Gorski - Quackademic Medicine

Saturday, March 9, 2013, 1:00 pm
National Science Foundation
Room 110
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA [map]

"Complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) or, as it is increasingly called, "integrative medicine," is infiltrating our medical schools and academic medical centers, not to mention even the NIH itself. Acupuncture, reiki, healing touch, herbalism, and even homeopathy are less and less being viewed as quackery and more and more tolerated if not accepted in what should be bastions of science-based medicine. Dr. Gorski will discuss how this sad state of affairs came about, where we are now, and, hopefully, what can be done about it.

David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is the managing editor of the sciencebasedmedicine.org blog, as well as a contributor both under his own name and the pseudonym "Orac." He is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the Medical Director of the Alexander J. Walt Comprehensive Breast Center and Cancer Liaison Physician for the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer. Academically, he is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, where he serves as Chief of the Section of Breast Surgery, and is a member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology. Additionally, he serves as Treasurer for the Institute for Science in Medicine. An investigator whose primary research interests include tumor angiogenesis and the role of glutamate receptors in promoting the growth and metastasis of breast cancer, Dr. Gorski also runs an active research laboratory and has recently taken an active interest in the problems of breast cancer overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

NOTE: THIS TALK BEGINS AT 1:00 PM INSTEAD OF THE USUAL 1:30 PM.

This talk is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served after the talk.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - March 2013

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  •  NCAS Public Lecture Series - Quackademic Medicine - David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS
  •  NCAS Board Elections: Call for Candidates
  •  NCAS Board Elections: Electronic Voting
  •  Your Email is Requested
  •  Drinking Skeptically
  •  New Postal Address
  •  New Skeptic Line Number

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Feb 9 - Prof. James Giordano PhD - Predictive Neuroscience: Facts, Fictions, and Fears of Scanning Brains and Reading Minds

Saturday, February 9, 2013, 1:30 pm
National Science Foundation
Room 110
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA [map]

In this lecture, neuroscientist and neuroethicist Professor James Giordano PhD, addresses the provocative current - and near future - capacities and limitations of neuroscience, and argues for analyses and guidelines to establish how to engage brain research in ways that are scientifically and technically rigorous, and ethically and legally sound.

Neuroscience is increasingly viewed as having potential to identify predispositions to types of cognition, emotion and behavior.  Could it be employed to allow preemptive interventions to deter the commission of crimes? For sure, this has overtones of the science fictional film Minority Report. But as distasteful as this seems at face value, the recent shootings in Connecticut, Oslo, Phoenix, and Columbine, and instances of international terrorism have prompted calls to use neuroscience to “do something” to ensure that such events do not happen again.

A crucial question is, how to maximize the benefit of the tools we possess, while not over-stepping the boundaries of science or corrupting ethico-legal probity?  Just because we may not currently have the neuroscientific capabilities to predict thoughts or behaviors doesn’t mean we’re not on a path toward doing so - or at least trying. Therefore, it’s important to understand exactly “where we really are” and estimate the validity and value of both our current position and the destinations we seek. We must be aware of agendas to employ neuroscience in a variety of ways, and must be prepared to confront these realities.

James Giordano, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist, is Professor of Integrative Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry, and Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program in the Center for Clinical Bioethics, at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA, and Gryphon Fellow on the faculty of the Human Science Center of Ludwig-Maximilians Universit├Ąt, Munich, Germany.

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


Friday, February 01, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - February 2013


The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • NCAS Public Lecture Series - Neuroscience: Facts, Fictions, and Fears of Scanning Brains and Reading Minds - Professor James Giordano, PhD
  • NCAS Board Elections: Call for Candidates
  • NCAS Board Elections: Electronic Voting
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and VA! - Feb 13
  • New Postal Address

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jan 19 - Jim Lippard - The Decline (and Probable Fall) of the Scientology Empire


Saturday, Jan 19, 2013, 1:30pm
Bethesda Regional Library
7400 Arlington Rd Bethesda, MD [map]

Jim Lippard will be speaking on the history of the Church of Scientology, how it has collided with the Internet and lost control of its secrets and its membership, and is now seeing an accelerating decline as its top members leave for new alternatives.

Jim Lippard founded the Phoenix Skeptics in 1985, and co-founded the Phoenix Area Skeptics Society in 2011. He’s written articles and book chapters on skeptical topics, including two articles in Skeptic magazine on Scientology, “Scientology vs. the Internet” in 1995 (co-authored with Jeff Jacobsen) and “The Decline (and Probable Fall) of the Scientology Empire” in 2012. He also contributed to Gordon Stein’s Encyclopedia of the Paranormal and Joe Nickell’s Psychic Sleuths.

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

Free limited parking is available. The Bethesda Library is Metro accessible.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Shadow of a Doubt - January 2013


The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • NCAS Public Lecture Series: The Decline (and Probable Fall) of the Scientology Empire - Jim Lippard
  • Prez Sez
  • Torn From Today's Headlines By Scott Snell: Coincidences and the Search for Meaning
  • Eugene Ossa at Library of Congress on January 29