Friday, February 12, 2016

Feb 13 - Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
  • Feb 13 Lecture - Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind by David. J. Linden 
  • Amazon Smile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • March NCAS Lecture
  • Shadow Light
  • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Time to renew?

February 2016

NCAS Public Lecture Series

David J. Linden, PhD
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
The Johns Hopkins University

Saturday, February 13, 1:30pm - 4:00pm

National Science Foundation, Room 110
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington VA
(Ballston-Marymount University Metro stop)
Enter NSF from the corner of 9th N & N Stuart Streets.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

From skin to nerves to brain, our body's touch circuits are a complex and often odd system that powerfully influences our lives, affecting everything from consumer choice and sexual behavior to tool use and the deep origins of language. Millions of years of evolution have endowed us with areas of the brain that are dedicated to processing touch signals; with a series of dedicated sensors and nerve fibers that predispose us to respond to a stimulus like a caress, but only if it's administered at the proper velocity; with receptors in our skin that make mint feel cool and chili peppers hot. When we lift the hood of the brain, though, we discover there are actually two different systems for processing touch: one to extract basic sensory information, and another to register its particular emotional context. Without the latter, an orgasm would feel more like a sneeze—convulsive, but not especially compelling. Because of the latter, a gentle caress from a lover administered during an argument might feel unwelcome as a spider crawling across your arm.

Dr. Linden’s book Touch (Viking Press, 2015) examines this critical interface between our bodies and the outside world, exploring every aspect of this remarkable sense.

David J. Linden is a professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The author of The Accidental Mind (2007) and The Compass of Pleasure (2011), he served for many years as the Chief Editor of The Journal of Neurophysiology. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his two children.

Copies of Touch will be available for sale (book: $15, audio CD: $20) before (and for any time remaining after) the program, so Dr. Linden can depart by 3 PM to keep his travel schedule.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

March NCAS Lecture
Epidemiologist April Clyburne-Sherin of the Center for Open Science ( will present "Reproducibility of Scientific Findings: Barriers and Solutions." The reproducibility of a scientific finding is the highest standard of evaluating scientific evidence. However, attempts to reproduce published scientific findings are failing at high rates across many scientific disciplines. Individual scientists now must face two questions: (1) are my findings reproducible?; and (2) do I really know what I thought I knew based on the published findings in my field? The scientific community has to face two larger questions: (1) what is going on?; (2) how do we fix it?  Saturday, March 19 at 1:30 pm.  The event location will be announced at and in the March Shadow of a Doubt.

AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
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AmazonSmile's disbursements to NCAS in the first half of 2015 came to $15.40, meaning that over $3000 of purchases were designated in support of NCAS.  (As an example of how NCAS can put that money to good use, it's almost enough to cover one hour of the Bethesda Library lecture room rental: $20).

Thanks again to our members who have chosen to support NCAS!

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Shadow Light
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Drinking Skeptically

NCAS Drinking Skeptically is on indefinite hiatus at our Maryland and Virginia locations.

Time to Renew?
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