Saturday, April 01, 2017

Shadow of a Doubt - April 2017

 The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

  • April 1 - DDT Wars - Charles F. Wurster, PhD
  • May 20 lecture - Susan Gerbic - Guerilla Skeptics of Wikipedia
  • Happy 30th Birthday NCAS!
  • NCAS YouTube Channel's Most Popular Video
  • Torn from today's headlines
  • NCAS Board Elections
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  •  Shadow Light
  •  Drinking Skeptically on hiatus
  • Member renewals

April 2017

NCAS Public Lecture Series

DDT Wars:
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Mythology of the DDT Issue

Charles F. Wurster, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook

Saturday, April 1, 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

DDT Wars is the inside story of the decade-long scientific, legal and strategic campaign that culminated in the national ban of the insecticide DDT in 1972. DDT contamination had become worldwide, concentrating up food chains and causing birds to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke in the nests. Populations of many species of predatory and fish-eating birds collapsed. Their numbers recovered spectacularly in the decades following the ban. This campaign to ban DDT was led by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), founded in 1967 by ten citizens, most of them scientists and volunteers without special political connections or financial resources. Their strategy was to take environmental problems to court. There were many setbacks along the way in this exciting and entertaining story. Author Charles Wurster was one of the leaders of the campaign. The first six years of EDF history will be described as it struggled to survive.

Copies of Dr. Wurster's book will be available.

Charles F. Wurster is a founding member of the Environmental Defense Fund and a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the Marine Sciences Research Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received his Bachelor of Science degree at Haverford College. He earned a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University. Subsequently Wurster spent a year in Innsbruck, Austria, as a Fulbright Fellow. From 1959 to 1962, he worked as a research chemist at the Monsanto Research Corporation.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.

May NCAS Lecture
Susan Gerbic, co-founder of Monterey County Skeptics, will discuss "Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia."  Saturday, May 20 at 1:30 PM at Montgomery County's Chevy Chase Library.

Happy 30th Birthday, NCAS!
On the very pleasant Sunday afternoon of March 29, 1987, at the outdoor amphitheater of the Edmund Burke School in northwest Washington, DC, more than a hundred enthusiastic people attended the inaugural meeting to found the National Capital Area Skeptics.  Among them were meeting organizers Jamy Ian Swiss and current board members Chip and Grace Denman.  Current board members Nelson Davis Jr, Walter Rowe, and Scott Snell were also in attendance.  Chip, Jamy, Stan Bigman (who became the first NCAS president), and Philip J. Klass, the noted aerospace journalist, skeptical UFO investigator, and executive committee member of CSICOP (now called CSI, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) spoke to the audience about the purpose and aims of the fledgling organization, and the way forward.

(The story of the founding of NCAS is told in Volume 20, Number 1 of The Skeptical Eye.)

NCAS YouTube Channel's Most Popular Video
Eric H. Cline's October 2016 lecture – "1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed" – has skyrocketed into first place in popularity among the many lectures available at the NCAS YouTube Channel:

"Skyrocketed" may be an understatement.  Within the past week or two, the number of views increased from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand, surpassing Jim Lippard's January 2013 lecture on Scientology.

Torn From Today's Headlines
By Scott Snell
Nothing torn this month.  But check out Sharon Hill's skeptically-themed news site, Doubtful News (, as well as the blog ( for her book reviews and other writings.

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 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 fourth quarter of 2016 came to $21.24, meaning that over $4000 of purchases were designated in support of NCAS.  (As an example of how NCAS can put that money to good use, it's more than enough to cover an hour of a Montgomery County library lecture room rental.)

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

For more information:

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

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

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.