Sunday, March 17, 2019

April 6 - Houdini and the Spiritualists

Presented by Ken Trombly

Much of the life of Harry Houdini was intertwined with episodes and personalities involving spiritualism and its practitioners. In his early days, he sometimes blurred the line between conjuring and the spirit world.  During his meteoric career, many of his conjuring feats were ascribed by some to be aided by unseen forces.  But he was very much the face of skepticism in the USA regarding the spiritualism movement.  His friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle came to an end over the latter’s belief in spiritualism.  He testified before a congressional committee in support of a bill to prohibit fortune telling in Washington, DC.  His work against fake mediums continued up until his death.

In this talk, Ken will share his thoughts concerning Houdini’s relationship with spiritualism and its adherents, and will illustrate this fascinating story with original items from his collection of Houdini ephemera.


Ken Trombly, a lifelong magic enthusiast, has given presentations about the life of Houdini for a variety of groups. In the 1980’s Ken began collecting original letters, photos and other ephemera dealing with Houdini’s amazing career.  Pieces from Ken's collection have been displayed at the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, and, most recently, as part of an exhibit on the life of Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, in Baltimore. Recently Ken was interviewed on a mini-series aired on the Science Channel entitled “Houdini’s Last Secrets.”

A Boston native, Ken is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Magic Circle of London and the Magic Collectors Association. When he is not hunting down original Houdini artifacts and magic posters, he is a full time trial lawyer - another role that requires a heightened sense of skepticism.

Saturday, April 6, 2019
1:30 pm

Connie Morella Library
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

March 16 - Suggestible You: You can't believe everything you think

Presented by Erik Vance, author of the book Suggestible You



The human brain is a miracle of nature - one of the fastest computing machines on Earth, adept at finding patterns, recognizing faces, and making predictions of the future. It's also a dirty liar, a deceitful trickster and occasionally an unlicensed pharmacist. It all comes down to one of the most important concepts in psychology today - expectation.

Join Erik Vance, author of the book Suggestible You as he explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds.

Once you understand the role expectation plays in the brain, you can see why thousands of generations of humans have used superstition to heal their bodies. Faith healing, homeopathy, snake oil, shamans, late night commercials for overpriced miracle cures - all of them make sense when viewed through the lens of expectation and the brain.

Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance will take you on a fascinating adventure from Harvard's research labs to a witch doctor's office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing to your own local pharmacy. Along with his talk he will show slides from his 2016 National Geographic cover story and discuss why your Aunt Ethel swears by ginseng tea for her arthritis.

Erik Vance is an award-winning science journalist based in Baltimore. Before becoming a writer he was, at turns, a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator. He graduated in 2006 from the UC Santa Cruz science writing program and became a magazine freelancer soon after.

His work focuses on the human element of science – the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets. He lived in Mexico City for seven years and has worked extensively in Latin America and Asia, covering the environment and its effect on humans.


Saturday, March 16, 2019
1:30 pm
B-CC Regional Services Center (Note change)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD


Directions: http://tinyurl.com/bcccenter

Poster for talk

Shadow of a Doubt - February 2019

February 2019
  • February 9 - Mind Control and other things DARPA has never done - Presented by Jared B. Adams, Chief of Communications and Public Affairs, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • March 9 lecture - Journalist Erik Vance will discuss his book, Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal.
  • NCAS Call for Elections
  • HISTORY (channel)'s Project Blue Book
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Member renewals
Click to see Shadow.

Monday, January 28, 2019

February 9 - Mind Control and other things DARPA has never done

Presented by Jared B. Adams
Chief of Communications and Public Affairs,
U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Saturday, February 9, 2019
1:30 pm 

Since its founding during the Eisenhower presidency, DARPA has been the rightful recipient of scorn and praise for investing in and developing military technologies as varied as Agent Orange and the ARPAnet, a precursor to today’s internet. And while much of the agency’s key contributions to science and national security have been well documented in books such as "The Pentagon’s Brain," "The Imagineers of War," and "The Department of Mad Scientists," myths about DARPA’s work still abound on social media and in the mainstream press. 

In this talk, you will hear from Jared Adams, DARPA’s chief of communications, about some of the popular and humorous myths regarding the agency’s research, including how it controls the world’s weather, is building AI-equipped super soldiers, and is actively managing Facebook to read people’s thoughts. Also, Adams will discuss the importance of transparency in government public affairs and how, when dealing with contentious areas of scientific research, the best tack is often to be open, honest, and direct.

Jared Adams joined the DARPA Public Affairs Office in 2014, first serving as the agency’s press secretary for three years before becoming the chief of communications in July 2017. Prior to DARPA, Adams served in senior public affairs positions in the Washington, D.C. area with Harris, SAIC, and Raytheon. In addition to his in-house communications experience, Adams has provided public relations counsel to several high-profile organizations, including Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, U. S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and U.S. Northern Command.

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD