Thursday, March 17, 2016

Shadow of a Doubt - March 2016

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics
    • March 19 Lecture: Reproducibility of Scientific Findings: Barriers and Solutions presented by April Clyburne-Sherin, MSc
    • NCAS Lecture
    • Save the date: May 3 - Philip J. Klass Award dinner
    • Concept Presented in NCAS Lecture Wins Awards at High-Level US Government Briefing
    • NCAS Elections
    • Amazon Smile: Contribute to NCAS at no cost to you
    • Shadow Light
    • Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
      NCAS Public Lecture Series

      March 19, 2016 - 1:30pm - 4:00pm

      Reproducibility of Scientific Findings:
      Barriers and Solutions
      April Clyburne-Sherin, MSc
      Reproducible Research Evangelist
      Center for Open Science

      Chevy Chase Library
      Downstairs Meeting Room
      8005 Connecticut Ave
      Chevy Chase, MD
      FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

      Science is a systematic method for accumulating knowledge with the reproducibility of a scientific finding as the highest standard of evaluating scientific evidence. Scientists do not work in isolation but build upon the research of others to incrementally advance human knowledge. 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?

      Selective reporting, publication bias, low statistical power, poor documentation, loss of research materials, and infrequent sharing all contribute to the irreproducibility of scientific findings. However, perceived norms within the scientific community, career incentives to publish more papers and novel findings, inadequate methodological training, and minimal accountability need to also be addressed if we want science to efficiently and reliably advance knowledge. Changing the behavior of scientific researchers to align with the scientific values they hold must involve a combination of new technology to enable change, better training to enact change, and new incentives to embrace change.

      April Clyburne-Sherin is an epidemiologist, methodologist, and is the Reproducible Research Evangelist at the Center for Open Science. The co-founder of the research network OOO Canada and an educator on reproducible research methodology, she advocates for transparent, reproducible, and rigorous scientific research methods. A recent immigrant from Canada, she now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

      Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

      April NCAS Lecture

      Chemist Lynn Brostoff, PhD, a preservation scientist in the Preservation Directorate at the Library of Congress, will present "Technical Studies of Cultural Heritage: The Artist as Alchemist." Saturday, April 9 at special start time 2 pm at Bethesda Library.

      Save the Date -- Klass Award Dinner on May 3

      NCAS is pleased to present its 2016 Philip J. Klass Award for outstanding contributions in critical thinking and scientific understanding to NASA astrophysicist John Mather on Tuesday, May 3 at Positano Ristorante Italiano in Bethesda.  Additional details to follow in the April Shadow of a Doubt.

      Concept Presented in NCAS Lecture Wins Awards at High-Level US Government Briefing

      On March 2, Dr. Paul Jaffe of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) presented a concept similar to the one from his 2014 NCAS lecture, "Evaluating Alternative Sources of Energy: Solar Energy from Space" before a senior government panel, including General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Eric Postel, Associate Administrator, US Agency for International Development; and Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.

      Delivered for the inaugural "D3 Innovation Summit" at the Department of State, the presentation "Space Solar –– Clean, Constant, & Global" was one of several entries in the "D3 Pitch Challenge," an interagency call for submissions on how the United States may leverage new technologies to advance its defense, diplomacy, and development ("D3") goals. Six finalist teams were selected from nearly 500 government and contractor employee submissions across the Department of State, Department of Defense, and the US Agency for International Development.

      The proposal was recognized by the panel with the "Collaboration" certificate, the "Presentation" certificate, and the "Innovation" certificate. In addition, the proposal was recognized with the "D3 People's Choice Award," selected through a vote among participants at the event.  (The remaining awards, "Feasibility," "Greatest Impact," and "Metrics" went to two other proposals.)

      In addition to his career as an electronics engineer, researcher, and integration and testing section head at the Naval Center for Space Technology at NRL, Dr. Jaffe is a lifetime member of NCAS and served as its president from 1998 to 2003.

      Dr. Jaffe's March 2014 lecture, available on the NCAS YouTube Channel:

      NCAS Board Elections: Call for Candidates

      Are you an NCAS member who wants to take a leadership role in the skeptics movement?  The NCAS annual board of directors election is fast approaching.  Send an email to by March 31 for more information.

      AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!

      When shopping at, you'll find the same low prices, vast selection, and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that a portion of the purchase price (0.5%) goes to NCAS! It's simple and automatic, and it doesn't cost you anything!

      AmazonSmile's disbursements to NCAS in the second half of 2015 came to $15.70, 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 a Montgomery County library lecture room rental: $20).

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

      For more information:

      Shadow Light

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      Drinking Skeptically

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