Sunday, November 05, 2017

December 9 - Skepticism and the Law: Or, How to Earn Billions With Your Birth Certificate AND Make Bernie Sanders President Using this ONE WEIRD TRICK

Presented by P. Andrew Torrez

Skeptics are well-versed in applying the tools of critical thinking to a variety of claims we see in everyday life, from quack medicine to religion to agriculture. But for some reason, skeptics tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to equally preposterous claims about the law. As the co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, Andrew Torrez shares some of the most preposterous and unbelievable real-life questions that he's gotten from skeptics just like you about the law. Is there really a shadowy cabal of international bankers to whom your entire life has been pledged as collateral from birth? Did a watchdog group really file a petition before the Supreme Court to undo the 2016 Presidential Election? Do criminals frequently escape justice due to technicalities? This talk will equip you with the tools to help separate legal fact from legal fiction -- without having to earn a law degree of your own.

After nearly 20 years in big firms, P. Andrew Torrez founded his own law firm in 2015 to serve start-up and small businesses in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In 2016, he started the podcast Opening Arguments to explain legal concepts in the news to non-lawyers; today, the show is one of the most popular news & politics podcasts with nearly 2.5 million downloads to date.Andrew Torrez is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School with honors, is a member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland chapter of the Federal Bar Association, has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and has been repeatedly honored as one of Maryland's top lawyers by Benchmark since 2011.


Saturday, December 9, 2017
1:30 pm

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD
Directions: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bcc/directions.html

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • November 4 lecture - Professor Daniele Podini - Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Investigations
  • December 9 lecture - Andrew Torrez - Skepticism and the Law
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals


NCAS Public Lecture Series

Familial DNA Searching:
An Investigative Tool that Increases Public Safety?
Or an Illegitimate Practice of Genetic Surveillance?

Daniele Podini, PhD

Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences
The George Washington University

Saturday, November 4, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Argosy University
1550 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 712
Arlington, VA [map] [directions]
(Near Rosslyn Metro stop)
Enter parking garage from N Pierce Street.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members
Please arrive before 1:30 so we can provide passage through the building access control system.

Conventional forensic DNA analysis is an effective approach for human individual identification as long as the profile of the perpetrator is already available to the investigators, but fails if not. In such “suspect-less” cases familial DNA searching can be used as a tool to identify potential suspects. In familial DNA searching, a profile from the crime scene, likely belonging to the perpetrator, is searched against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Partial hits are used by investigators to focus on close family members of the persons whose DNA profile is in CODIS. Familial DNA searching has been one of the most controversial aspects of DNA technology. It has been used in California and other states but was forbidden in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Dr. Podini will be presenting two conflicting perspectives: is familial searching a tool that can be used to generate investigative leads and that can result in identifying the culprit or is it a practice with profound racial justice implications, that effectively puts under genetic surveillance innocent families and primarily certain minorities?

Daniele Podini is Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He previously served as the Assistant Chief of the Biology Section of the Scientific Department of the Carabinieri - Italian military Armed Force. Later he created and directed the Forensic Section of Genoma, a private molecular biology laboratory in Rome. He consulted with laboratories in Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia, and Algeria to aid in the establishment of Molecular Genetic Sections, and the development of specific forensic capabilities. The research conducted in his lab ranges from developing assays to infer biogeographic ancestry and physical traits, to working on high throughput detection of sperm cells from sexual assault evidence, and from obtaining DNA from fired cartridge cases to developing methods to enhance DNA mixture deconvolution with the most recent DNA sequencing technology available.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/10/november-4-familial-dna-searching.html

Shadow of a Doubt - October 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


  • October 14 lecture- Bruce Press - The Science of Fake News
  • November 4 lecture - Professor Daniele Podini - Familial DNA Searching in Criminal Investigations
  • Happy Friday the 13th!
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals


NCAS Public Lecture Series

The Science of Fake News

Bruce Press

Saturday, October 14, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
2nd Floor (West Room)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

Fake News comes in many guises. Propaganda, mistakes, overly broad generalizations, conspiracy theories, counter-intelligence, politically motivated reasoning, outright lies and more...  Like you, Bruce Press has recognized the existence of "Fake News" for a long time but his comprehension of the serious impact it has on society began to crystallize while researching conspiracy theories a few years ago.

"Fake News" has, seemingly, become a fundamental part of the U.S. media landscape in just the last couple of years. However, as many of you know, it has been there with less fanfare for a very long time. Examples come from both obvious and surprising sources with new ones every day. This talk will attempt to go beyond the recognition of specific instances to the science of how they impact individuals and society.

Lightly touching on a broad range of subjects from memory and cognition to biases and social media will set up a discussion on how we can better interact with the modern media landscape.

While currently in a second career as a photographer, Bruce Press spent almost thirty years as an engineer and software developer. His involvement with the skeptical community began more than a decade ago. Since then he has helped to organize investigative groups, skeptical conferences and co-created a skeptical monthly meetup in Baltimore for years. He has researched and spoken on various topics of interest to skeptics in a number of public venues.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/09/october-14-science-of-fake-news.html

Saturday, October 14, 2017

November 4 - Familial DNA Searching

An investigative tool that increases public safety, Or an illegitimate practice of genetic surveillance?

Presented by Daniele Podini, PhD
Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences
The George Washington University

Conventional forensic DNA analysis is an effective approach for human individual identification as long as the profile of the perpetrator is already available to the investigators, but fails if not. In such “suspect-less” cases familial DNA searching can be used as a tool identify potential suspects. In familial DNA searching a profile from the crime scene, likely belonging to the perpetrator, is searched against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Partial hits are used by investigators to focus on close family members of the persons whose DNA profile is in CODIS. Familial DNA searching has been one of the most controversial aspects of DNA technology. It has been used in California and other states but was forbidden in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Dr. Podini will be presenting two conflicting perspectives: is familial searching a tool that can be used to generate investigative leads and that can result in identifying the culprit or is it a practice with profound racial justice implications, that effectively puts under genetic surveillance innocent families and primarily certain minorities?

Prof. Podini is Associate Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He previously served as the Assistant Chief of the Biology Section of the Scientific Department of the Carabinieri - Italian military Armed Force. Later he created and directed the Forensic Section of Genoma, a private molecular biology laboratory in Rome. He consulted with laboratories in Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia, and Algeria to aid in the establishment of Molecular Genetic Sections, and the development of specific forensic capabilities. The research conducted in his lab ranges from developing assays to infer biogeographic ancestry and physical traits, to working on high throughput detection of sperm cells from sexual assault evidence, and from obtaining DNA from fired cartridge cases to developing methods to enhance DNA mixture deconvolution with the most recent DNA sequencing technology available.

Saturday, November 4, 2017
1:30 pm


Argosy University
1550 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 712
Arlington, VA

Near Rosslyn Metro. Parking garage accessible from N. Pierce Street.
There is controlled building access so please arrive on time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

October 14 - The Science of Fake News

Presented by Bruce Press

Fake News comes in many guises. Propaganda, mistakes, overly broad generalizations, conspiracy theories, counter-intelligence, politically motivated reasoning, outright lies and more...  Like you, Mr. Press has recognized the existence of "Fake News" for a long time but his comprehension of the serious impact it has on society began to crystallize while researching conspiracy theories a few years ago.

"Fake News" has, seemingly, become a fundamental part of the U.S. media landscape in just the last couple of years. However, as many of you know, it has been there with less fanfare for a very long time. Examples come from both obvious and surprising sources with new ones every day. This talk will attempt to go beyond the recognition of specific instances to the science of how they impact individuals and society.



Lightly touching on a broad range of subjects from memory and cognition to biases and social media will set up a discussion on how we can better interact with the modern media landscape.

While currently in a second career as a photographer, Bruce Press spent almost thirty years as an engineer and software developer. His involvement with the skeptical community began more than a decade ago. Since then he has helped to organize investigative groups, skeptical conferences and co-created a skeptical monthly meetup in Baltimore for years. He has researched and spoken on various topics of interest to skeptics in a number of public venues.


Saturday, October 14, 2017
1:30 pm

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD
Directions: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bcc/directions.html
(Note that this is a return to a Bethesda location for our fall talks that we used over 10 years ago.)

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - September 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


  • September 9 lecture- Brian Inglis: Advocate for Psi, and Mortal Enemy of CSICOP -
    Neil Inglis
  • October 14 Lecture - The science of fake news - Bruce Press
  • NCAS Board of Directors Elections
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals


NCAS Public Lecture Series

Brian Inglis: Advocate for Psi, and Mortal Enemy of CSICOP

Neil Inglis

Saturday, September 9, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
2nd Floor (West Room)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

As an instantly recognizable figure in the UK, known for his serious manner and credibility as a historian, Brian Inglis (1916-1993) combined television with writing books and journalism to great effect. He halted his TV career in the early 1970s to enter the world of the paranormal, becoming friends with psychic celebrities (including Uri Geller), and then embarking upon full-length studies intended to publicize what he viewed as the major story of his age, the psi force. Yet Brian did not have the debating podium to himself--and a bitter war of words with CSICOP and with other skeptical authors and organizations was soon to follow..

Brian's son Neil Inglis has been an NCAS veteran since 1988, and spoke on Michael Servetus during our 2005-2006 lecture season. A staff translator/reviser with a local international organization, Neil edits a Reformation history magazine in his spare time. In recent years, Neil has assisted in preparing new, electronic editions of his father's books, including Brian's classic psi histories. Neil's talk will be given from his intensely personal perspective as an Inglis family member; his presentation is certain to be of interest to those who follow the history of fringe belief systems and of CSICOP itself (now CSI). Furthermore, Neil will ask the question that we all ponder: why do intelligent people continue to believe bizarre things?

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/08/september-9-brian-inglis-advocate-for.html



October NCAS Lecture
Bruce Press will present "The Science of Fake News."  This talk will attempt to go beyond the recognition of specific instances, to the science of how they impact individuals and society. Saturday, October 14 at 1:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

September 9 - Brian Inglis: Advocate for Psi, and Mortal Enemy of CSICOP

Presented by Neil Inglis

As an instantly recognizable figure, known for his serious manner and credibility as a historian, Brian combined television with writing books and journalism to great effect. He halted his TV career in the early 1970s to enter the world of the paranormal, becoming friends with psychic celebrities (including Uri Geller), and then embarking upon full-length studies intended to publicize what he viewed as the major story of his age, the psi force. Yet Brian did not have the debating podium to himself--and a bitter war of words with CSICOP and with other skeptical authors and organizations was soon to follow.

Brian's son Neil Inglis has been an NCAS veteran since 1988, and spoke on Michael Servetus during our 2005-2006 lecture season. A staff translator/reviser with a local international organization, Neil edits a Reformation history magazine in his spare time. In recent years, Neil has assisted in preparing new, electronic editions of his father's books, including Brian's classic psi histories. Neil's talk will be given from his intensely personal perspective as an Inglis family member; his presentation is certain to be of interest to those who follow the history of fringe belief systems and of CSICOP itself (now CSI). Furthermore, Neil will ask the question that we all ponder: why do intelligent people continue to believe bizarre things?

Saturday, September 9, 2017
1:30 pm

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD
Directions: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bcc/directions.html
(Note that this is a return to a Bethesda location for our fall talks that we used over 10 years ago.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Verizon changing its email service

Verizon is ending its support of email and is telling verizon.net customers to switch to either AOL or another email server. If you were previously served by Verizon, you may no longer be getting email from NCAS. If you haven't gotten any meeting announcements recently, click on "Contact NCAS" on the right column of this page and send us a message saying you are no longer getting email from us.

--- If you are a member of NCAS, send a message to ncas@ncas.org.

--- If you are on our announcements list, sign up again.

If you recently got a message from us, no need to do anything.

If you aren't on our email distribution list and want to get notices of upcoming events, you also should click on "Contact NCAS".

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - May 2017

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


  • May 20 lecture - Susan Gerbic - Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia
  • NCAS Board ERlections: Electronic Voting
  • Torn from today's headlines
  • NCAS Board Elections
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals

May 2017

NCAS Public Lecture Series

Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

Susan Gerbic

Saturday, May 20, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
NEW LOCATION
Chevy Chase Library
Downstairs Meeting Room
8005 Connecticut Ave
Chevy Chase, MD [map] [directions]
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members


Susan Gerbic will be speaking to us about the work of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. You learn much about what happens behind the scenes of the 10th most popular website. The mission of the GSoW is to rewrite all Wikipedia pages concerning scientific skepticism, and to do so in all languages possible. They work to support the people and organizations that do the research, write the books, organize the conferences and take the heat from the anti-science and paranormal world.  GSoW gives them the best possible Wikipedia pages possible, while following all the rules of Wikipedia. The GSoW has had a large impact on education around the world since 2010. The GSoW has written and rewritten hundreds of Wikipedia pages, including Spontaneous Human Combustion, Facilitated Communication, Perry DeAngelis, Genetic Literacy Project, Jerry Andrus, Grandmother Fish and many more.

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a frequent contributor to Skeptical Inquirer and Skepticality Podcast.  She is the winner of the CSI In the Trenches Award from 2012, James Randi Award for Skepticism in the Public Interest 2013 and a Scientific and Technical Consultant for CSI.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/04/may-20-guerrilla-skepticism-on-wikipedia.html

Sunday, April 30, 2017

NCAS 2017 Elections

NCAS will be having its annual election for Board of Director positions. Members will shortly receive information in how to vote. Candidates for the Board are given here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

May 20 - Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

Presented by Susan Gerbic

Note different location (below) from our usual meeting place.

Susan Gerbic will be speaking to us about the work of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. You learn much about what happens behind the scenes of the 10th most popular website. The mission of the GSoW is to rewrite all Wikipedia pages concerning scientific skepticism, and to do so in all languages possible. They work to support the people and organizations that do the research, write the books, organize the conferences and take the heat from the anti-science and paranormal world.  GSoW gives them the best possible Wikipedia pages possible, while following all the rules of Wikipedia. The GSoW has had a large impact on education around the world since 2010. The GSoW has written and rewritten hundreds of Wikipedia pages, including Spontaneous Human Combustion, Facilitated Communication, Perry DeAngelis, Genetic Literacy Project, Jerry Andrus, "Grandmother Fish" and many more.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - April 2017

 The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • April 1 - DDT Wars - Charles F. Wurster, PhD
  • May 20 lecture - Susan Gerbic - Guerilla Skeptics of Wikipedia
  • Happy 30th Birthday NCAS!
  • NCAS YouTube Channel's Most Popular Video
  • Torn from today's headlines
  • NCAS Board Elections
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  •  Shadow Light
  •  Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals

 
April 2017

NCAS Public Lecture Series

DDT Wars:
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Mythology of the DDT Issue

Charles F. Wurster, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook

Saturday, April 1, 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


DDT Wars is the inside story of the decade-long scientific, legal and strategic campaign that culminated in the national ban of the insecticide DDT in 1972. DDT contamination had become worldwide, concentrating up food chains and causing birds to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke in the nests. Populations of many species of predatory and fish-eating birds collapsed. Their numbers recovered spectacularly in the decades following the ban. This campaign to ban DDT was led by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), founded in 1967 by ten citizens, most of them scientists and volunteers without special political connections or financial resources. Their strategy was to take environmental problems to court. There were many setbacks along the way in this exciting and entertaining story. Author Charles Wurster was one of the leaders of the campaign. The first six years of EDF history will be described as it struggled to survive.

Copies of Dr. Wurster's book will be available.

Charles F. Wurster is a founding member of the Environmental Defense Fund and a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the Marine Sciences Research Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received his Bachelor of Science degree at Haverford College. He earned a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University. Subsequently Wurster spent a year in Innsbruck, Austria, as a Fulbright Fellow. From 1959 to 1962, he worked as a research chemist at the Monsanto Research Corporation.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/03/april-1-ddt-wars-misinformation.html

Sunday, March 12, 2017

April 1 - DDT WARS: Misinformation, Disinformation and Mythology of the DDT Issue


Presented by Charles F. Wurster, Ph.D.



DDT Wars is the inside story of the decade-long scientific, legal and strategic campaign that culminated in the national ban of the insecticide DDT in 1972. DDT contamination had become worldwide, concentrating up food chains and causing birds to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke in the nests. Populations of many species of predatory and fish-eating birds collapsed. Their numbers recovered spectacularly in the decades following the ban. This campaign to ban DDT was led by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), founded in 1967 by ten citizens, most of them scientists and volunteers without special political connections or financial resources. Their strategy was to take environmental problems to court. There were many setbacks along the way in this exciting and entertaining story. Author Charles Wurster was one of the leaders of the campaign. The first six years of EDF history will be described as it struggled to survive.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - March 2017

 The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


  • March 11 - Earth in human hands - David Grinspoon
  • April 1 lecture - Charles Wurster will talk on the DDT wars
  • Happy 30th Birthday NCAS!
  • Torn from today's headlines
  •  NCAS Board Elections
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  •  Shadow Light
  •  Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals

 
March 2017

NCAS Public Lecture Series

Earth In Human Hands:
Shaping Our Planet's Future

David Grinspoon, PhD
Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute

Saturday, March 11, 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

David Grinspoon will be talking about his new book, Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future.   Among the topics to be discussed is the merits and demerits of "activating" the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) by transitioning from passive listening to deliberate sending of messages to targeted star systems.  This has become something of a hot topic again with the publication of the end-note in a recent Communications of the ACM by Seth Shostak, wherein SETI's senior astronomer takes an uncharacteristically pessimistic view of the possible consequences of reaching out to our interstellar neighbors. Can science fiction serve as a Gedankenexperiment for possible outcomes in advance of the actuality?

Copies of Dr. Grinspoon's book will be available.

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. He is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and adjunct professor of astrophysical and planetary science at the University of Colorado. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural chair of astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth systems and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization.  Dr. Grinspoon has been recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal for Public Communication of Planetary Science by the American Astronomical Society and has been honored with the title "Alpha Geek" by "Wired Magazine."

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/02/march-11-earth-in-human-hands-shaping.html

Monday, February 20, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - February 2017

 The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • February 11 - The original sleep paralysis and the paranormal - Brian Sharpless
  • February 15 - A rational approach to oral history and Stonehenge - Lynne Kelly
  • March 11 Lecture
  • Coming soon - A brief survey
  • Torn from today's headlines
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals
NCAS Public Lecture Series

TWO LECTURES!
VIRGINIA: FEBRUARY 11
MARYLAND: FEBRUARY 15

LECTURE #1
The Original Nightmare Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

Brian A. Sharpless, PhD
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
American School of Professional Psychology
Argosy University - Northern Virginia

Saturday, February 11, 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

Humans throughout history have described a peculiar state between sleep and wakefulness characterized by paralysis, conscious awareness of one’s surroundings, and terrifying hallucinations. We currently term this phenomenon "sleep paralysis," but it has gone by many other names depending upon time, place, and culture (e.g., kanashibari, the "old hag", nocturnal alien abductions, the Mara).  Although it is a very scary experience not well-known to the lay public, it is actually a fairly well-understood sleep disorder.  After first discussing the history of sleep paralysis in myth/folklore and its many connections to paranormal beliefs, the current medical and psychological literatures will be summarized. Finally, the many interesting attempts to "treat" these episodes across the ages will be described.

Brian A. Sharpless, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) at Argosy University - Northern Virginia. After completing his graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, he completed his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Sharpless has broad research interests in psychopathology, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and the history/philosophy of clinical psychology. He (along with Karl Doghrmaji, MD) is author of Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives and editor of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research.  Both volumes are currently available through Oxford University Press.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/01/february-11-original-nightmare-sleep.html

LECTURE #2
A Rational Approach to Oral Tradition and Stonehenge

Lynne Kelly, PhD
Writer, researcher, science educator and
Foundation member of the Australian Skeptics

Wednesday, February 15, 7:30pm - 9:00pm
2nd Floor Meeting Room
Rockville Memorial Library
21 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD [map]
(Rockville Metro station)
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

Indigenous cultures are usually represented as living in a fog of superstition. A rational glimpse says that they simply wouldn’t have survived if that were the case. We need to be skeptical of simplistic explanations of indigenous cultures that talk only about child-like stories and exotic religious rituals. They needed field guides to all the plants, all the animals, geology and astronomy. They needed navigational charts to travel great distances for trade, and genealogies to ensure they didn’t interbreed. They needed a legal system and ethical rules … but they had no writing. How did they memorize so much stuff?

This talk will explain the tricks of their memory trade and how we can use these methods in contemporary society. Mobile hunter-gatherers, such as Australian Indigenous cultures, embedded a highly pragmatic knowledge system in the landscape. What happens in the transition to farming? That question explains the detailed archaeological record of a vast range of prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines and the statues of Easter Island.

Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator, as well as being a foundation member of the Australian Skeptics. Her academic work focuses on the way indigenous cultures memorize vast amounts of rational information through the mnemonic devices used by ancient and modern oral cultures from around the world. In applying that research to archaeology, she has proposed a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge and ancient monuments the world over.  Her new book, The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments (Pegasus Books, 2017), has already gone into reprint in Australia.

http://www.ncas.org/2017/01/february-15-rational-approach-to-oral.html

About Rockville Memorial Library Parking:
Library customers can get 2 hours of free parking when they park in one of the Rockville Town Square garages, which are clearly labeled Garage A (letter A in green - accessible from Maryland Avenue entrance near Beall Avenue and from Hungerford Drive), Garage B (letter B in blue - accessible from the driveway between Gold's Gym and American Tap Room), and Garage C.

Please note that there are two garages accessible from the driveway between Gold's Gym and American Tap Room.  The first garage to the left after driving between the buildings does not have validated parking.  Please continue past the first parking entrance on the left and down the hill under the blue sign that says Garage B to access the garage for which parking can be validated.

To validate your parking when visiting the Rockville Memorial Library building, use the machine to the left as you enter the first floor internal doors of the Library. The validation machine is next to the Internet Sign In Station.

The first two hours with validated parking are free.  Thereafter, the rates are:
2-3 Hours: $2
3-6 Hours $3

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

March 11 - Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future

Presented by David Grinspoon, Ph.D.
Senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute



David Grinspoon will be talking about his new book Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future.   Among the topics to be discussed is the merits and demerits of “activating” the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) by transitioning from passive listening to deliberate sending of messages to targeted star systems.  This has become something of a hot topic again with the publication of the end-note in a recent Communications of the ACM by Seth Shostak, wherein SETI’s senior astronomer takes an uncharacteristically pessimistic view of the possible consequences of reaching out to our interstellar neighbors. Can science fiction serve as a Gedankenexperiment for possible outcomes in advance of the actuality? 

Copies of Dr. Grinspoon’s book will be available.

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. He is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and adjunct professor of astrophysical and planetary science at the University of Colorado. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural chair of astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth systems and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization.  Dr. Grinspoon has been recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal for Public Communication of Planetary Science by the American Astronomical Society and has been honored with the title “Alpha Geek” by “Wired Magazine.”

Saturday, March 11, 2017
1:30 pm


National Science Foundation, Room 110
4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
(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.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

February 15 - A Rational Approach to Oral Tradition and Stonehenge

 Special Wednesday Evening Event


Presented by Lynne Kelly, Ph.D.
Writer, researcher, science educator and
Foundation member of the Australian Skeptics


Indigenous cultures are usually represented as living in a fog of superstition. A rational glimpse says that they simply wouldn’t have survived if that were the case. We need to be skeptical of simplistic explanations of indigenous cultures that talk only about child-like stories and exotic religious rituals. They needed field guides to all the plants, all the animals, geology and astronomy. They needed navigational charts to travel great distances for trade, and genealogies to ensure they didn’t interbreed. They needed a legal system and ethical rules … but they had no writing. How did they memorize so much stuff?

This talk will explain the tricks of their memory trade and how we can use these methods in contemporary society. Mobile hunter-gatherers, such as Australian Indigenous cultures, embedded a highly pragmatic knowledge system in the landscape. What happens in the transition to farming? That question explains the detailed archaeological record of a vast range of prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines and the statues of Easter Island.

Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator, as well as being a foundation member of the Australian Skeptics. Her academic work focuses on the way indigenous cultures memorize vast amounts of rational information through the mnemonic devices used by ancient and modern oral cultures from around the world. In applying that research to archaeology, she has proposed a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge and ancient monuments the world over. Her most recent book The Memory Code (Allen & Unwin) has already gone into reprint in Australia and will be published in the USA and UK in February 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


7:30 pm
Note new location
2nd Floor Meeting Room
Rockville Memorial Library
21 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD


FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members


February 11 - The Original Nightmare Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal


Presented by Brian A. Sharpless, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology 
American School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) 
Argosy University, Washington DC.

Humans throughout history have described a peculiar state between sleep and wakefulness characterized by paralysis, conscious awareness of one’s surroundings, and terrifying hallucinations. We currently term this phenomenon sleep paralysis, but it has gone by many other names depending upon time, place, and culture (e.g., kanashibari, the "old hag", nocturnal alien abductions, the Mara).  Although it is a very scary experience not well-known to the lay public, it is actually a fairly well-understood sleep disorder.  After first discussing the history of sleep paralysis in myth/folklore and its many connections to paranormal beliefs, the current medical and psychological literatures will be summarized. Finally, the many interesting attempts to "treat" these episodes across the ages will be described.

Brian A. Sharpless, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) at Argosy University, Washington DC. After completing his graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, he completed his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Sharpless has broad research interests in psychopathology, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and the history/philosophy of clinical psychology. He (along with Karl Doghrmaji, MD) is author of Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives and editor of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research.  Both volumes are currently available through Oxford University Press.

Saturday, February 11, 2017
1:30 pm


National Science Foundation, Room 110
4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
(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