Monday, January 14, 2019

January 20 - Special NCAS "Led Zeppelin" MeetUp

Real or Imaginary? Led Zeppelin in Wheaton, January 1969:
Rock band Led Zeppelin released their first album and were on their first North American tour...Denver, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Spokane, L.A., San Francisco, Iowa City, Detroit, Wheaton, Boston, New York.  Wait a minute--Wheaton?!?!  As in, Wheaton, Maryland?

Yes.  At least, some people say so, that they were at the show.

Filmmaker Jeff Krulik will present his take on this enduring local legend, on the 50th anniversary of the very night the concert was alleged to have taken place, January 20, 1969.

"Led Zeppelin Played Here"
AFI Silver Theatre
8633 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD

Sunday, January 20, 2019
8 PM

The showing of this movie is not an official NCAS event, but we thought it might be of interest to our members, so we're promoting this as a Meetup.  Advance tickets for this movie may be purchased at https://silver.afi.com/Browsing/Movies/Details/f-0100002297
Film trailer: https://youtu.be/f0Oe__0j0AU

Before the show, join fellow skeptics for Drinking Skeptically at 5:30 PM at McGinty's Public House (911 Ellsworth Dr, Silver Spring), a very short walk from the AFI Silver Theatre.

After the show, enjoy a total eclipse of the Moon starting at 10:34 PM!  (No ticket required, only clear skies.  Totality will occur from 11:41 PM to 12:43 AM.)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

February 9 - Mind Control and other things DARPA has never done

Presented by Jared B. Adams
Chief of Communications and Public Affairs,
U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Saturday, February 9, 2019
1:30 pm 

Since its founding during the Eisenhower presidency, DARPA has been the rightful recipient of scorn and praise for investing in and developing military technologies as varied as Agent Orange and the ARPAnet, a precursor to today’s internet. And while much of the agency’s key contributions to science and national security have been well documented in books such as "The Pentagon’s Brain," "The Imagineers of War," and "The Department of Mad Scientists," myths about DARPA’s work still abound on social media and in the mainstream press. 

In this talk, you will hear from Jared Adams, DARPA’s chief of communications, about some of the popular and humorous myths regarding the agency’s research, including how it controls the world’s weather, is building AI-equipped super soldiers, and is actively managing Facebook to read people’s thoughts. Also, Adams will discuss the importance of transparency in government public affairs and how, when dealing with contentious areas of scientific research, the best tack is often to be open, honest, and direct.

Jared Adams joined the DARPA Public Affairs Office in 2014, first serving as the agency’s press secretary for three years before becoming the chief of communications in July 2017. Prior to DARPA, Adams served in senior public affairs positions in the Washington, D.C. area with Harris, SAIC, and Raytheon. In addition to his in-house communications experience, Adams has provided public relations counsel to several high-profile organizations, including Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, U. S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and U.S. Northern Command.

B-CC Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
2nd Floor (West Room)
Bethesda, MD

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 12 - Science Education and Storytelling: Combatting Denialism With Better (and True!) Stories


Presented by Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D
Dept. of Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


From Dr. Seuss to Disney, Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, we grow up and live in a world teeming with stories. In all forms of media - books, films, television, radio, and the internet, stories are the currency of everyday life. Yet they are strangely absent from the science classroom.

Despite a universal appreciation and thirst for stories, and considerable evidence for their pedagogical power, stories are underutilized in formal education, and in learning science in particular. One of my main goals as a scientist, educator, and storyteller is to encourage the use of stories in science education.  I will discuss why stories have an important place in the science classroom, and how they can help further the inroads being made in the teaching and acceptance of contentious subjects such as evolution.

Sean B. Carroll is an award-winning evolutionary biologist, author, educator, and film producer. He leads the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private supporter of science education activities in the US, is the Executive Director of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and is the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland. He is also Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin.

A prominent science communicator in print and on film, Carroll is the author of eight books, and has served as an executive producer of nearly thirty feature or short documentary films including The Farthest: Voyager in Space which recently won the Emmy for Outstanding Science Documentary. Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.  http://seanbcarroll.com/

Saturday, January 12, 2019
1:30 pm

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
7584 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 

(Note: New Location.)

Shadow of a Doubt - January 2019

The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

January 2019
  • January 12 lecture - Science Education and Storytelling:Combatting Denialism With Better (and True!) Stories by Sean B. Carroll, PhD
  • Weather cancellations
  • NCAS Meetup - Led Zeppelin
  • February 9 lecture - Jared Adams, Director of Public Affairs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will debunk DARPA myths.
  • 50th Anniversary of the Condon Report
  • HISTORY's "Project Blue Book" Premieres
  • Science Channel's New Houdini Docuseries
  • Drinking Skeptically - January 20
  • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
  • Shadow Light
  • Member renewals

Click to see Shadow.

    Shadow of a Doubt - January 2019

    The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics


    • January 12 lecture - Science Education and Storytelling:Combatting Denialism With Better (and True!) Stories by Sean B. Carroll, PhD
    • Weather cancellations
    • NCAS Meetup - Led Zeppelin
    • February 9 lecture - Jared Adams, Director of Public Affairs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will debunk DARPA myths.
    • 50th Anniversary of the Condon Report
    • HISTORY's "Project Blue Book" Premieres
    • Science Channel's New Houdini Docuseries
    • Drinking Skeptically - January 20
    • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
    • Shadow Light
    • Member renewals


    January 2019


    NCAS Public Lecture Series

    Science Education and Storytelling:
    Combatting Denialism With Better (and True!) Stories

    Sean B. Carroll, PhD
    Department of Science Education
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute

    Saturday, January 12, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
    NEW LOCATION
    Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
    7584 Leesburg Pike
    Falls Church, VA [map] [directions]
    (Near West Falls Church Metro stop)
    FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

    From Dr. Seuss to Disney, Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, we grow up and live in a world teeming with stories. In all forms of media - books, films, television, radio, and the internet, stories are the currency of everyday life. Yet they are strangely absent from the science classroom.

    Despite a universal appreciation and thirst for stories, and considerable evidence for their pedagogical power, stories are underutilized in formal education, and in learning science in particular. One of my main goals as a scientist, educator, and storyteller is to encourage the use of stories in science education.  I will discuss why stories have an important place in the science classroom, and how they can help further the inroads being made in the teaching and acceptance of contentious subjects such as evolution.

    Sean B. Carroll is an award-winning evolutionary biologist, author, educator, and film producer. He leads the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private supporter of science education activities in the US, is the Executive Director of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and is the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland. He is also Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin.

    A prominent science communicator in print and on film, Carroll is the author of eight books, and has served as an executive producer of nearly thirty feature or short documentary films including The Farthest: Voyager in Space which recently won the Emmy for Outstanding Science Documentary. Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  http://seanbcarroll.com/

    https://www.ncas.org/2018/12/january-12-science-education-and.html



    WEATHER CANCELLATION STATUS:
    The Falls Church weather forecast for Saturday indicates a chance of snow after 1 PM.  Chance of precipitation is 60%.  The Capital Weather Gang forecast, as of January 9, is, "Models generally agree that Sunday morning into the afternoon is the period during which the steadiest accumulating snow may fall — which could make roads and sidewalks slick."

    Check http://www.ncas.org, the NCAS Facebook and Meetup sites (and your inbox, if you received the Shadow by email) to see if the event is still on.  The status will be announced no later than 10 AM on Saturday.  You can also phone the 24-hour Skeptic Line at 240-670-NCAS (6227).


    NCAS Meetup:
    Real or Imaginary? Led Zeppelin in Wheaton January 1969:
    Rock band Led Zeppelin released their first album and were on their first North American tour...Denver, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Spokane, L.A., San Francisco, Iowa City, Detroit, Wheaton, Boston, New York.  Wait a minute--Wheaton?!?!  As in, Wheaton, Maryland?

    Yes.  At least, some people say so, that they were at the show.

    Filmmaker Jeff Krulik will present his take on this enduring local legend, on the 50th anniversary of the very night the concert was alleged to have taken place, January 20, 1969.

    "Led Zeppelin Played Here"
    AFI Silver Theatre
    8633 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD
    Sunday, January 20, 2019
    8 PM

    The showing of this movie is not an official NCAS event, but we thought it might be of interest to our members, so we're promoting this as a Meetup.  Advance tickets for this movie may be purchased at https://silver.afi.com/Browsing/Movies/Details/f-0100002297
    Film trailer: https://youtu.be/f0Oe__0j0AU

    Before the show, join fellow skeptics for Drinking Skeptically at 5:30 PM at McGinty's Public House (911 Ellsworth Dr, Silver Spring), a very short walk from the AFI Silver Theatre.

    After the show, enjoy a total eclipse of the Moon starting at 10:34 PM!  (No ticket required, only clear skies.  Totality will occur from 11:41 PM to 12:43 AM.)


    February NCAS Lecture Jared Adams, Director of Public Affairs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will debunk DARPA myths.  Saturday, February 9 at 1:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.


    The 50th Anniversary of the Release of the Condon UFO Report
    On January 9, 1969, the US Air Force released its Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (also known as "The Condon Report"). The report concluded, "...nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."

    USAF Captain David J. Shea was the Pentagon press spokesman for Project Blue Book.  See his recollections of that day from his September 2018 NCAS lecture, available on the NCAS YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2wfUiUodpM .

    In 1999, the report was transcribed for the Internet by NCAS and hosted at ncas.org by permission of The Regents of the University of Colorado:


    HISTORY's "Project Blue Book" Premieres
    by Scott Snell

    HISTORY (formerly the History Channel) premiered its new scripted drama series, "Project Blue Book," on Tuesday, January 8 at 10 PM ET (pardon the pun) and is rerunning it frequently.


    The following was shown at the beginning of the episode: "This series is inspired by Dr. J. Allen Hynek's investigations for the U.S. Air Force into the existence of UFOs.  The cases depicted are based on real events."

    As the show's promotional trailer showed, this is a 1950s period-piece version of "The X Files."  A scientist and an Air Force captain are partners in UFO investigations.  The scientist character is astrophysicist J. Allen Hynek, the real-life scientific consultant to Blue Book.  (His partner is Captain Quinn, an entirely fictional character.)

    I'm glad the program is airing at 10 PM.  That way, young people are less likely to see it and be misled by its distortions and outright fictions, such as:  1) A major element of the story is government surveillance of Hynek and his family;  2) There's an absurd sequence when Quinn takes Hynek in an Air Force plane to replicate the flight path of a UFO witness, and ends up crashing (with both men suffering only minor injuries, of course);  3) The UFO witness's plane is mysteriously radioactive, though Hynek says that planes flying above the troposphere "can acquire a temporary radioactive charge."  (The writer should've changed it to "can become very slightly radioactive for a time," due to                 interactions with cosmic rays at high altitudes.)  Hynek goes on to say that the plane's radioactivity is too high to be explained this way, contrary to the actual incident on which the story is based.

    Those problems aside, the episode does look good.  Perhaps there are trivial errors in the classic cars or clothing of the time, but I wouldn't know.  Though I did spot one flub that somehow slipped through the production team...the UFO witness flies over a football game (which is actually an historically correct detail from the October 1, 1948 incident).  But later in the program, the date of the incident is given as March 3rd...not a good fit for football season.

    After the episode concludes, there's a brief summary of the "real events" on which it was based, presented uncritically, leaving viewers with the impression that the incident is genuinely mysterious.

    The incident is typically referred to as the "Gorman Dogfight," here discussed by USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former head of Project Blue Book, in his 1955 book, The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects:

    The Condon Report also mentions it:

    "Project Blue Book" episodes are available online at


    Science Channel's New Houdini Docuseries
    Science Channel premiered Houdini's Last Secrets, a four-part series, on Sunday, January 6 at 10 PM ET.  "Each episode will be centered around one of Houdini's most daring stunts. The premiere look[ed] at Houdini's famous water torture cell escape to unmask the potential methods he may have used, and what the dangers involved could have been. He performed this feat many times in Washington D.C..."
    The episodes will also be available online at

    Note: an upcoming NCAS lecture (April 6 in Bethesda) will feature Ken Trombly discussing Houdini's crusade against fraudulent spiritualists.

    Drinking Skeptically!

    On Sunday, January 20 at 5:30 p.m., please join fellow NCASers at our Drinking Skeptically event:

    Location: McGinty's Public House
    911 Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring, MD
    www.mcgintyspublichouse.com


    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.

    AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
    When shopping at smile.amazon.com, you'll find the same low prices, vast selection, and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, 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 third quarter of 2018 came to $21.25, meaning that over $4200 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 lecture room rental.)

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

    For more information:
    http://smile.amazon.com/about
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1870185

    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.org/shadow.  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 ncas@ncas.org.

    Time to Renew?
    Be sure to check your renewal date above your postal address on the Shadow Light postcard. Send any queries to ncas@ncas.org.  Use the online membership form to renew.
    http://ncas.org/shadow

    Shadow of a Doubt - December 2018

    The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

    • December 8 lecture - Genomic Medicine: Today and Tomorrow by Anastasia Wise, PhD
    • Special NCAS Meetup with Skeptics Guide podcasters
    • January 12 lecture on  Challenges of teaching evolution in public schools
    • A Report on CSICon 2018
    • Noted Critiques of Astrology Are Now Available at ResearchGate
    • Science Channel's New Houdini Docuseries
    • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
    • Shadow Light
    • Member renewals

    Click to see Shadow.

      Shadow of a Doubt - December 2018

      The Monthly Calendar of the National Capital Area Skeptics

      • December 8 lecture - Genomic Medicine: Today and Tomorrow by Anastasia Wise, PhD
      • Special NCAS Meetup with Skeptics Guide podcasters
      • January 12 lecture on  Challenges of teaching evolution in public schools
      • A Report on CSICon 2018
      • Noted Critiques of Astrology Are Now Available at ResearchGate
      • Science Channel's New Houdini Docuseries
      • AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
      • Shadow Light
      • Member renewals

      December 2018

      NCAS Public Lecture Series

      Genomic Medicine: Today and Tomorrow

      Anastasia Wise, PhD
      Division of Genomic Medicine
      National Human Genome Research Institute

      Saturday, December 8, 1:30pm - 4:00pm
      NEW LOCATION
      Argosy University
      1550 Wilson Blvd.
      Suite 712
      Arlington, VA [map] [directions]
      (Near Rosslyn Metro stop)
      Enter parking garage from N Pierce Street.
      FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members
      Please arrive before 1:30 so we can provide passage through the building access control system.



      Genomic medicine, utilizing genomic information in clinical care, aims to improve clinical management, prevent complications, and promote health.  With many names often used interchangeably, including genomic medicine, precision medicine, and personalized medicine, we'll discuss what genomic medicine is and the clinical testing that is available today to improve diagnosis and therapy. We'll explore common misconceptions as well as success stories regarding genomic medicine implementation, particularly disease diagnosis, and conclude with what may be possible in the future.

      Anastasia Wise is a program director in the Division of Genomic Medicine at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). She received her Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Duke University and joined NHGRI in 2010. At NHGRI she serves as project officer for programs advancing the application of genomics to medical science and clinical care with a focus on perinatal sequencing, undiagnosed and rare disease genomic medicine, and sex chromosome analysis and association methods. Dr. Wise is also a project scientist for the Newborn Sequencing in Genomic Medicine and Public Health (NSIGHT) program, which aims to explore the potential implications, challenges and opportunities associated with the possible use of genomic sequence information in the newborn period. Her other research interests include gene environment interactions in complex disease, pharmaco/toxicogenomics, and ethical, legal, and social issues related to the use of genetic information.

      https://www.ncas.org/2018/11/december-8-genomic-medicine-today-and.html