Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Time to recharge

 At NCAS we take the summer to recharge our skeptical batteries. We hope that you enjoyed our programs this past year - both live and on YouTube. As the world starts to recover from the chaos that enveloped us these past two years, more and more events are starting to become live. However, we learned a lot about communicating during this period. Tools like zoom and other streaming services are becoming part of our technological lives, yet we cannot get away from having live meetings for effective communication. Both formats will be around for years to come.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, September 10 at 1:30pm in the B-CC Services Center in Bethesda. Come back to our website by mid-August when we should start to announce our fall 2022 schedule.

Enjoy your summer, stay safe, and if you can, join us as a member. We are a low budget operation, but low budget does not mean no budget.

See you in September!

Shadow of a Doubt - June 2022


  • June 4 NCAS lecture - Stuart Vyse: The uses of delusion

  • NCAS Board elections - Upcoming NCAS election via electronic voting
  • Torn from Today's Headlines - Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon
  • Turn from Today's Headline - The joke that got away (from last month)
  • Amazon Smile - Donate to NCAS for free
  • Shadow Lite
  • Time to Renew? 
Read Shadow here

Shadow of a Doubt - June 2022


June 2022

NCAS Public Lecture Series

The Uses of Delusion:
Why It’s Not Always Rational to Be Rational

Stuart Vyse, PhD
Contributing Editor, Skeptical Inquirer

Saturday, June 4, 1:30pm - 4:00pm US/Eastern (UTC-04:00)
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
2nd Floor (West Room)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
(Bethesda Metro station)
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

 Also a YouTube Live Event with Q and A 

NCASVideo YouTube Channel:

Although reason and rationality are our friends in almost all contexts, in some cases people are better off putting reason aside. In a number of very important situations, we benefit by not seeing the world as it is, and by not behaving like logic-driven machines. Sometimes we know we aren’t making sense, and yet we are compelled to act against reason; in other cases, our delusions are so much a part of normal human experience that we are unaware of them. As intelligent as we are, much of what has helped humans succeed as a species is not our prodigious brain power but something much more basic.

In behavioral scientist Stuart Vyse’s new book, The Uses of Delusion: Why It’s Not Always Rational to be Rational, he looks at the aspects of human nature that are not altogether rational but, nonetheless, help us achieve our social and personal goals.

Stuart Vyse is a behavioral scientist, teacher, and writer. He taught at Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Connecticut College. Vyse’s book Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition won the 1999 William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association. He is a contributing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, where he writes the “Behavior & Belief” column, and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Refreshments and socializing after the talk.


NCAS Board Elections: Electronic Voting
The 2022 NCAS election is underway.  In mid-May, your e-mail inbox should've received a single-cast secret ballot from "elections@ncas.org via SurveyMonkey <member@surveymonkeyuser.com>".  (NCAS will receive information indicating who voted, but nothing to indicate who cast each ballot.)  Please vote by June 15, 2022.

Note that voters will not be at risk for spamming as a result of participating...SurveyMonkey has a zero-tolerance spam policy:

Torn From Today's Headlines
By Scott Snell
Congressional Hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena"
On May 17, 2022, the "C3" Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing on UFOs (also called UAPs, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.")  Following the open portion of the hearing, the C3 (Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation) Subcommittee held a closed, classified briefing.  Testifying were Ronald S. Moultrie, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, and Scott W. Bray, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.

Video of the open portion of the hearing is available here:

Moultrie was tasked in 2021 by US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks to "establish the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG [pronounced "aim sog"]) to synchronize efforts across the [Defense] Department and the broader U.S. government to detect, identify and attribute objects of interests [sic] in Special Use Airspace (SUA), and to assess and mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security."

In addition to Moultrie and Bray providing status on the establishment of AOIMSG and answering questions from House members, Bray showed a UAP video:

(Right-click the video and select "Speed" of 0.5x for best results.  Pause the video to find the three frames showing a UAP.)

Later, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Fellow Mick West commented on the video:

West also participated in a discussion about the hearing:

Perhaps the closed, classified hearing was more interesting, but of course we can only speculate.  It's also worth noting that AOIMSG (which Moultrie said will likely be renamed) is just getting started.  But as of now, nothing very interesting has emerged publicly.

Notably, this was the first Congressional hearing about UFOs since July 29, 1968, when the US House Committee on Science and Astronautics held its "Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects."

The ncas.org site hosts an online edition of the 1968 symposium record, created and proofread by a team of NCAS volunteers:

Torn From Last Month's Headlines
By Scott Snell
The Joke that Got Away
The previous Shadow of a Doubt displayed the 1950 Census listing for L. Ron Hubbard...

...but I neglected to make a joke about the entry for Hubbard on "What was this person doing most of last week - working, keeping house, or something else?"  ("Wk" = working, "H" = keeping house, "U" = unable to work, "Ot" = other)

"I wonder if Scientologists would interpret 'OT' as 'Operating Thetan?'"


(Hubbard's "Operating Thetan" concept didn't exist, at least not publicly, until he debuted Scientology in 1952.)

Speaking of Hubbard, here's an interesting 1968 episode of a UK investigative journalism TV series, World in Action, entitled "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard," which includes interviews with him:

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 fourth quarter of 2021 came to $44.68, meaning that nearly $9000 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 two hours of a Montgomery County lecture room rental.)

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

For more information:

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