Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Shadow of a Doubt - January 2015

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Jan 10 Ghosts, Elves, and the Man from Mars: Two Decades (Skeptically) Investigating the Paranormal, Jerry Drake 
  • Jan 11 NCAS Movie Meetup!
    • About the Movie: THE IMITATION GAME
  • Jan 21 Michael Shermer in DC
  • Amazon Smile
  • Shadow Light
  • Wed Jan 14 Drinking Skeptically in MD and VA!
  • Skeptic Line Number
  • Time to Renew?
NCAS Public Lecture Series

Ghosts, Elves, and the Man from Mars: Two Decades (Skeptically) Investigating the Paranormal, Jerry Drake 

Saturday, January 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

You can't turn on your television today without seeing a group of "Ghost Adventurers" or someone "Finding Bigfoot," but investigating the so-called "paranormal" is not just a passion for the credulous and uncritical.  In this talk, Jerry Drake cracks open his casebook of investigations to illustrate that some of our greatest "unsolved mysteries" have a perfectly rational explanation.  You will learn the "tricks of the trade" to conducting a skeptical investigation of claims of the paranormal.  From the Aurora, Texas Martian, the Elves of Iceland, and the Bell Witch of Tennessee to the Loch Ness Monster, the Ghosts of Gettysburg, and the Screaming Woman of Niagara Falls, Jerry will take you on a globe-trotting tour of his first-hand exploration of these fascinating phenomena.

When not chasing ghosts and monsters, Jerry Drake is a professional researcher, currently working as an archivist and analyst for the federal government.  Previously Jerry has served as a Professor of History at Concordia University and as Deputy Land Commissioner of Texas for Archives & Records.  Jerry's area of professional interest is in designing innovative electronic solutions to facilitate research.

Jerry is currently adapting his "paranormal casebook" into a series of articles and a book.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

NCAS Movie Meetup! Mark your calendars for Sunday, January 11 and join your fellow skeptics and science lovers at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring for a late afternoon screening of "The Imitation Game."  This will be followed by drinks/food/discussion at a local watering hole to be determined.

AFI has not yet announced showtimes for January 11, so keep your eyes open for a follow-up e-mail with the time, where to meet, etc.  All attendees will be responsible for purchasing their own ticket(s), either online or at the theater.

Behind every code is an enigma.
People's Choice Award, 2014 Toronto Film Festival
During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch, in a stirring performance) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of "gross indecency," an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality — little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, this film follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives. With Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear and Tuppence Middleton. Directed by Morten Tyldum (HEADHUNTERS).
114 min, DCP. RATED PG-13

Movie trailer:

Michael Shermer in DC
Author Michael Shermer will discuss his new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom at The Cato Institute's Book Forum on Wednesday, January 21 at noon.  Register to attend, or obtain instructions to watch online, at the following link:

At the Institute's Hayek Auditorium, 1000 Massachusetts Ave NW.

In October 2013, Amazon launched the AmazonSmile Foundation, which allows customers to support their favorite charitable organizations when shopping at, 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
Some members and contacts of NCAS receive a postal notification of this and every new monthlyShadow 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 thereby reducesShadow 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

Drinking Skeptically in MD and  VA!

On Wednesday, January 14 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 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?
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