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.
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members