Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2014

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Nov 15 NCAS Lecture: Skeptical Journal Club: How to Read a Medical Study, John Cmar, MD
  • 2014 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award Presentation
  • December NCAS Lecture
  • Nov 12 American University Panel Discussion on Unidentified Flying Objects
  • Nov 19 Bill Nye at Lisner Auditorium 
  • Amazon Smile
  • Shadow Light
  • Nov 12 Drinking Skeptically in MD and VA!
  • Skeptic Line Number
  • Time to Renew?
NCAS Public Lecture Series

Skeptical Journal Club: How To Read A Medical Study, John Cmar, MD 

Saturday, November 15, 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

One of the most important aspects of being a healthy skeptic is knowing that just because a scientific study was done on a topic does not mean the study was done well, or that the conclusion the authors reach is supported by what they actually did. But when someone states that a particular study has major flaws or was well-done, what precisely does that mean?  Join us as we analyze two different journal articles in detail, focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly of how studies are done and interpreted.

John Cmar

John Cmar, MD, has been long enthralled with horrible infections that could spell doom for humankind, as well as sanity and skepticism in the practice of medicine. He is currently an Instructor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Assistant Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He is the lead physician in Sinai's Ryan White initiative, which provides medical care and social assistance to patients with HIV infection who are without medical insurance.

In his role as Program Director for the Internal Medicine residency program at Sinai, he teaches an annual course series in Evidence-Based Medicine, among many other duties.  He also does Infectious Diseases outreach in Baltimore television and print media, and is the guest-in-residence on the monthly Midday on Health show with Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM in Baltimore. John is a science fiction and fantasy fan, avid gamer, and podcast enthusiast. He currently blogs and podcasts on skeptical, medical, and geeky topics as "Saint Nickanuck of the Tundra" at johncmar.com.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

2014 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award Presentation Preceding Dr. Cmar's lecture, the 2014 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award for outstanding contributions in promoting critical thinking and scientific understanding will be presented to Steven Salzberg, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics in the Institute of Genetic Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

December NCAS Lecture
December's lecture will continue the focus on evaluation of research studies, specifically survey research.  Fran Featherston, PhD, formerly of NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS), will speak on "Threats to Validity: What You Should Know to Interpret Research Findings."  Her areas of expertise are survey research, research design, and designing methods that are user friendly. Saturday, December 13 at 1:30 pm at National Science Foundation.

Nov 12 American University Panel Discussion on Unidentified Flying Objects
On Wednesday, November 12, from 7:30 to 10 PM, American University will host a panel discussion on UFOs in the Abramson Family Recital Hall of the Katzen Arts Center, located north of nearby Ward Circle NW.  Entitled "UFOs: Encounters by Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials," apparently the panel will entirely comprise speakers who believe that some UFOs may be the handiwork of extraterrestrials:
  • Leslie Kean, journalist and author of the 2010 bestselling book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record.
  • Richard Haines, PhD, an experimental psychologist and former visual perception researcher at NASA-Ames Research Center.
  • Colonel Charles Halt (USAF, retired), who claims to have seen extraordinary UFOs in 1980 near Royal Air Force Station Bentwaters (UK), where he was deputy base commander.  (This case, known as the "Rendlesham Forest Incident," appears to be the central topic of the panel.)
  • Thomas Carey, coauthor of the 2007 book, Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-Year Cover-Up, which asserts that an extraterrestrial craft crashed near Roswell, NM in 1947.
The event, free and open to the public, is part of an American University Fall 2014 Honors Colloquium, "Alien Contact: Science and Science Fiction," taught by John Weiskopf, Adjunct Professor at American University.  (Previously, Weiskopf has taught courses on film and screenwriting at AU.)

Thanks go to Tim Printy and "ChrLzs" of Queensland, Australia for informing NCAS about this event.

For a skeptical perspective:
Robert Sheaffer's Skeptical Inquirer review of Kean's book:

Ian Ridpath's investigation of the Rendlesham Forest Incident:

Nov 19 Bill Nye at Lisner Auditorium 
The Smithsonian Resident Associates is hosting a lecture and book signing by Bill Nye at Lisner Auditorium on Wednesday, November 19 at 7 PM. Nye grabbed headlines in February by participating in a live debate with Ken Ham, curator of the Creation Museum. Sparked by the controversial and widely watched event, Nye set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives.

In his new book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (St. Martin's Press), he expands on his points, and claims that this issue is not so much about religion versus science as about the nature of science itself.

With the holiday season fast approaching, please consider designating NCAS as your supported charity when shopping atsmile.amazon.com.

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.

For more information:

Shadow Light
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Drinking Skeptically in MD and  VA!

On Wednesday, November 12 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, Arlington, VA
                                  Across from Ballston Common Mall
                                   (703) 248-9990

The most recent Washingtonian magazine list of the best DC-area bars (2013) includes Jackie's Sidebar: "Insider tip: Sop up the spirits with some of the best bar snacks around. We love the Chicago-style dog and grilled-seaweed-sprinkled popcorn."

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.

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 theonline membership form to renew.