Sunday, October 07, 2012

Shadow of a Doubt - October 2012

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • NCAS Public Lecture Series - 2012 Apocalypse and the Maya Calendar, John B. Carlson, Ph.D.
  • Annual Meeting of the Membership
  • James Randi at University of Maryland!
  • "World Won't End in 2012" Lifetime Membership!
  • November NCAS Lecture
  • CSICon 2012
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically - October 10
  • New Postal Address

NCAS Public Lecture Series
2012 Apocalypse and the Maya Calendar
John B. Carlson, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Archaeoastronomy

Saturday, October 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

What started the torrent of books, magazine articles, television documentaries, and web sites claiming that the world will end on December 21, 2012?  (Peter Gersten of Arizona goes so far as to say that he's going to jump off of a cliff in Sedona that day, enter a portal to the Galactic center, and "[neutralize] the silicon-based memetic virus that has corrupted this simulation.")  How did this "mash-up" of the Maya calendar and astronomical events (or non-events) come about?

Archaeoastronomer John B. Carlson, Ph.D. will discuss the "2012 Phenomenon," separate fact from fiction about the Maya calendar, and critically examine the apocalypse claims.

Dr. Carlson is Director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy and Senior Lecturer at University Honors College, University of Maryland, College Park.  He is also editor of the journal Archaeoastronomy.

Volume XXIV of the journal is a special issue devoted to "The Maya Calendar and 2012 Phenomenon Studies."  Information on obtaining individual copies of the issue will be available at the event.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

Annual Meeting of the Membership
The annual meeting of the NCAS membership will be convened following the October 13 lecture.  President Marv Zelkowitz will lead a discussion of recent accomplishments and future plans, with an emphasis on membership participation.

James Randi at University of Maryland!
Tuesday, October 16 at 7:30 PM, Bioscience Research Building, room 1101

This Halloween season, spend an evening with a REAL ghostbuster.

The Society of Inquiry at UMD presents an evening with James Randi, in conversation with Todd Robbins.

James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world's most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Randi has pursued "psychic" spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic "water with a memory," and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public's eyes in the name of the supernatural. In 1996, The James Randi Education Foundation was established to further Randi's work. Randi's long-standing challenge to psychics now stands as a $1,000,000 prize administered by the Foundation. It remains unclaimed.

Todd Robbins is a magician, sideshow performer and expert on all forms of deception and con games.

In conversation format, Randi and Robbins will talk about Randi's long history as an investigator of all things spooky.

Book signing and Q&A will follow.

Presented by the Society of Inquiry at UMD and "Science, Discovery & The Universe," a Scholar Program of College Park Scholars.

"World Won't End in 2012" Lifetime Membership!
Proudly demonstrate your skepticism of the 2012 doomsayers' a lifetime membership in NCAS before December 21, 2012, when the cost will increase by $100.

When December 22 comes around without even a tiny apocalypse, the long list of failed prophecies over the course of human history will get a little longer.  But, verily, our prophecy of membership fee increase will indeed come to pass after many years of keeping costs down.

Use the online membership form to upgrade your membership.

November NCAS Lecture
Washington Post science writer Marc Kaufman will talk about his book First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth on Saturday, November 10 at 1:30 pm at National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.

CSICon 2012
CSICon Nashville, sponsored by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry / Center for Inquiry / Skeptical Inquirer magazine will be held October 25-28 at the Sheraton Music City Hotel.  Speakers include Richard Wiseman, Lawrence Krauss, Eugenie Scott, and many others.  Register at

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 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

Drinking Skeptically, now in MD and  VA!
On Wednesday, October 10 at 7:00 p.m., please join fellow NCASers at either of our simultaneous DC-area Drinking Skeptically events:

Jackie'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.

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 Postal Address
As of June 2012, NCAS has switched post office boxes, from 8428 to 8461:
National Capital Area Skeptics
P.O. Box 8461
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8461

Time to Renew?
Be sure to check your renewal date above your postal address on the Shadow Light postcard. Send any queries to  Use the online membership form to renew.