Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Shadow of a Doubt - September 2014

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Sep 13 NCAS Lecture: The Secrets of Alchemy: Rethinking the Scientific Revolution. Walter F. Rowe, PhD Professor, Department of Forensic Sciences, The George Washington University
  • October NCAS Lecture: Not your Parents' Gospels: Historicity, Literary License, and the Crafting of the Gospels.  Natalie K. Houghtby-Haddon, PhD, Associate Director of The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, and an Associate Professor in the GW College of Professional Studies
  • Amazon Smile
  • Shadow Light
  • Sep 10 Drinking Skeptically in MD and VA!
  • Skeptic Line Number
  • Time to Renew?
NCAS Public Lecture Series

The Secrets of Alchemy: Rethinking the Scientific Revolution
Walter F. Rowe, PhD, Professor, Department of Forensic Sciences, The George Washington University
Saturday, September 13, 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

Alchemy is commonly viewed as the quintessential pseudo-science. Historians of science have derided it as mystical science, a pathology of thought and the greatest hindrance to the development of chemistry. Its practitioners have been viewed as cranks and charlatans obsessed with finding the Philosopher’s Stone – that magic “something” that would transmute base metals into gold. However, since the 1970s scholars of the history of science have come to re-assess alchemy. This re-evaluation began with the publication of alchemical writings from the papers of Isaac Newton. Scholarly interest has expanded to take in the alchemical work of Newton’s contemporaries and his immediate predecessors. By the time of Newton and the Scientific Revolution, alchemists had produced an impressive number of laboratory processes and a corpuscular theory of matter. This talk will present an overview of alchemy and its contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

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 president-elect of the Council of Forensic Science Educators.

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

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.


October 11 NCAS Lecture
Natalie K. Houghtby-Haddon, PhD, Associate Director of The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, and an Associate Professor in the GW College of Professional Studies will present "Not your Parents' Gospels: Historicity, Literary License, and the Crafting of the Gospels."  This talk explores how the Christian gospels came to be written, what their purpose might have been, and how ancient communities may have understood the "truth" of the gospels, in comparison to modern audiences. For example, how might the first followers of Jesus have understood his role as “miracle-worker”?  We will also consider how myth-making and social formation go together, as a way to create new or alternative communities of interest. Saturday, October 11 at 1:30 pm at Bethesda Library.

In October 2013, Amazon launched the AmazonSmile Foundation, which allows customers to support their favorite charitable organizations when shopping at Amazon.com, at no added cost.  The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the customer's designated 501(c)(3) public charitable organization. NCAS has registered as a participating organization. Please consider designating NCAS as your supported charity when shopping at smile.amazon.com.

For more information:

Shadow Light
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/shadowNCAS 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 ncas@ncas.org.

Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and  VA!
On Wednesday, September 10 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 to ncas@ncas.org.  Use the online membership form to renew.

This and back issues of the Shadow of a Doubt are available at ncas.org/shadow