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
NCAS Public Lecture:  
Mysterious Delusions of Satan: Witchcraft at Salem
Walter F. Rowe, PhD, 
Professor, Department of Forensic Sciences, 
The George Washington University

Saturday, October 12, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
Bethesda Regional Library
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
(Bethesda Metro station)
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

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.

Walter RoweProfessor Walter Rowe has a PhD in chemistry from Harvard University. He has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University since 1975. He was introduced to forensic science when he spent two years as a forensic chemistry specialist in the United States Criminal Investigation Laboratory system. Professor Rowe is a Fellow of the Criminalistics Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  He was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences for twenty years, and has authored over fifty research articles and book chapters in the field of forensic science.

Professor Rowe is a founding member of NCAS and serves on its board of directors as secretary. He has published skeptical articles in Skeptical Inquirer and NCAS's Skeptical Eye.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

November NCAS Lecture
Sharon Hill will present "The World of Weird News: Bigfoot, UFOs and other Questionable Claims," 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.  Hill is a writer, researcher, and consultant specializing in Science and Society issues.  As creator and editor of the unique news and commentary site, Doubtful News (, 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. Saturday, November 9 at 1:30 pm at National Science Foundation in Arlington.

Mark Your Calendars: Phil Plait 
Be sure to join us on Saturday, December 14 at the National Science Foundation when NCAS presents its 2013 Philip J. Klass Award for outstanding contributions in critical thinking and scientific understanding to Phil Plait, astronomer, lecturer, and author.  Plait is best known for his long-running "Bad Astronomy" blog, which "discusses astronomy that is bad," clearing up public misconceptions about astronomy and space science in movies, the news, print, and on the Internet.  He is the author of two books, Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" andDeath from the Skies!: These are the Ways the World Will End, and served as president of the James Randi Educational Foundation (2008-2009).  Dr. Plait will participate by two-way video from Boulder, Colorado.

Shadow Light
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Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and  VA!

On Wednesday, October 9 at 7:00 p.m., please join fellow NCASers at either of our simultaneous DC-area Drinking Skeptically events:
Drinking Skeptically Bottle
                          Cap LogoJackie's Sidebar
8081 Georgia Avenue (entrance on Sligo Avenue) in Silver Spring, MD

The Front Page Arlington
Rear patio / National Science Foundation atrium
4201 Wilson Blvd (across from Ballston Common Mall) in Arlington, VA
(703) 248-9990

The February 2011 issue of Washingtonian magazine features the Sidebar on its cover, for a story on the best bars in the DC area.  (And you'll find the area's best hot dogs there, according to the June 2012 issue.)

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 Skeptic Line Number
As of March 2013, NCAS has switched telephone numbers, from 301-587-3827 to 240-670-NCAS (6227).

Time to Renew?
Be sure to check your renewal date above your postal address on the Shadow Light postcard. Send any queries  Use the online membership form to renew.