Sunday, August 28, 2022

September 10 - Everyday Extraordinary: Inspiring Critical Thinking Using Paranormal Claims

Barry Markovsky
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina

Saturday, September 10, 1:30pm - 4:00pm US/Eastern 

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

 Join us for the first in-person NCAS talk this season!   And if you can't join us in person, watch the live stream at

 The presentation will include readings from a book in progress, followed by an open discussion.

With this book, Barry hopes to reach a wider audience that normally wouldn’t pick up a skeptical approach. Each chapter opens with a first-person 'Front Stage” account of a true extraordinary experience. Then it goes “Back Stage” to show how perfectly normal events can deceive us into inferring something supernatural. Chapter topics are familiar to most NCAS members—ghosts, astrology, dowsing, ESP, UFOs, etc. What I hope differentiates this book from other skeptical work is its approach: Telling the stories with heart and humor, and explaining what really happened instead of leaping to paranormal conclusions.

For the discussion, in addition to any feedback you’d like to offer, I’d like to brainstorm with you about strategies for maximizing the impact of this kind of endeavor. Given it’s aimed at non-scientists, what’s the optimal vocabulary level and pedagogical style? How “sciency” should it get without the risk of losing too many readers? Is there even a market for it? These are questions I struggle with every day as I write, so your input will be much appreciated."

Barry Markovsky's research areas include group processes, social psychology, social networks, methods of theory construction, experimental research, and computer simulations. His most recent work has addressed social status, identity, fairness perceptions, cooperation, and influence in small group contexts, and has developed online tools for building, evaluating, and disseminating sociological theories. He has taught courses in group processes, pseudoscience and paranormal beliefs, and theory construction. Prior to his position at the University of South Carolina, he was Sociology Program Director at the National Science Foundation and Assistant, Associate and Full Professor at the University of Iowa.