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Philosopher Aaron Rabinowitz on moral luck: How good can you really be?

When: Sunday, October 20 @ 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: Shetler Studios, Room Sh 6, 244 West 54th Street, Manhattan

"Moral luck" addresses the pervasive problem that arises when we admit that everything is ultimately beyond our control. Aaron hopes to work through the natural anxiety that comes with acknowledging we lack control and therefore free will, in a robust sense. Does this view fit best with current scientific and philosophical understanding? Would quality of life improve after adopting this initially unnerving perspective?

 Aaron Rabinowitz currently serves as the Philosopher in Residence for the Rutgers Honors College, and teaches through the Rutgers philosophy department on various topics in ethics, metaethics, and personhood. His research interests include developing a robust, secular moral realism that allows for a satisfying sense of moral responsibility and a life of flourishing. He co-hosts the "Philosophers in Space" and "Embrace the Void" podcasts, which attempt to make philosophy accessible for everyone, through the lenses of science fiction and existential horror. Aaron appeared at this year's NECSS - Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism on the "Science and Philosophy of X-Men Biology" panel.

Please note our new location! We are in room SH 6 of Shetler Studios, near 54th St. and 8th Ave.!

Limited to only 30 people, so RSVP early!

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The Radiometric Revolution: John F. Marra on his book "Hot Carbon"

When: Sunday, August 18 @ 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

In Hot Carbon: Carbon-14 and a Revolution in Science, John F. Marra tells the story of the radioactive isotope used to date organic materials, with research applications ranging from archeology to oceanography to climatology.

Marra weaves together the workings of the many disciplines that employ carbon-14 dating with gripping tales of the individuals who pioneered its possibilities, and describes the concrete applications of carbon-14 to the study of all the stuff of life on earth, from climate science’s understanding of change over time to his own work on oceanic photosynthesis with microscopic phytoplankton. His engaging narrative encompasses nuclear testing, the peopling of the Americas, elephant poaching, and the flax plants used for the linen in the Shroud of Turin.

This will be a hybrid presentation, mixing slides with readings from the book! Copies of Hot Carbon will be available for purchase!

John F. Marra is professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center at Brooklyn College. He was previously a research scientist and associate director of the Division of Biology and Paleoenvironment at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Brooklyn Commons features a wide selection of coffee, food, desserts, beer, and wine.

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Better Know a Dictator: Dean A. Haycock on his book "Tyrannical Minds"

When: Sunday, June 23 @ 4:00 to 6:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Though men like Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Qaddafi lived in different times and places, and came from vastly different backgrounds, they shared many “dark” personality traits, but only in rare cases did they show signs of mental disorders. “Getting inside the heads” of foreign leaders and terrorists is one way governments try to understand, predict, and influence their actions. Psychological profiles can help us understand the urges of tyrants to dominate, subjugate, torture and slaughter.

Dean A. Haycock's new book, "Tyrannical Minds: Psychological Profiling, Narcissism, and Dictatorship," reveals how recognizing their psychological traits can provide insight into the motivations and actions of dangerous leaders, potentially allowing to us predict their behavior and maybe even teaching us how to stop them. As strongmen and authoritarian leaders around the world increase in number, understanding the most extreme examples of tyrannical behavior should serve as a warning to anyone indifferent to the threats posed by political extremism.

Dr. Haycock will discuss the book with us, and he will have copies available for purchase!

Dean A. Haycock is a science and medical writer with a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Brown University, and a fellowship at The Rockefeller University. The results of his research, conducted in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry, have been published in a variety of peer-reviewed academic journals. He is the author of several books and many articles written for the general public.

Brooklyn Commons features a wide selection of coffee, food, desserts, beer, and wine.

Event Links


NECSS 2019 - Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism



Register Now for NECSS 2019!

The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism (pronounced “nexus”) is a science and critical thinking conference held annually in New York City. NECSS welcomes leading scientists, educators, activists, and artists who educate and engage conference attendees through individual presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and performance pieces. NECSS is as much a meeting of minds as it is a conference, and social events and mixers are organized throughout the weekend to allow attendees the opportunity to mix and mingle in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Join us as we welcome science writer Carl Zimmer as our keynote speaker! Back by popular demand, Leighann Lord will be returning as conference MC. We will also be greeting popular science author Mary Roach as our special guest, and over two-dozen speakers, panelists, and workshop presenters.

NECSS 2019 will have four full days of presentations, panels, workshops, and other events featuring dozens of speakers from the worlds of both science and skepticism.

Early bird pricing ends June 14th, after which prices will rise significantly. Don't wait to register, secure your tickets today!

Presale Registration

Registration is now open for a Presale Premium Pass! Premium passes include:

  • Registration for all three main conference days
  • All Thursday workshops
  • The SGU Private Show
  • All ancillary events
  • Backstage lunch with speakers
  • Preferred seating
  • Special NECSS swag
  • And more to be announced!

Space is limited, so secure your Premium Pass now!

Discount Registration Available

NECSS is co-sponsored by the New England Skeptical Society, the Society for Science-Based Medicine, and New York City Skeptics. Members of all organizations will enjoy discounted registration at the conference, so please consider joining!

Hotel Information

We have secure discounted room rates for NECSS attendees at two local hotels: the Hilton Fashion District (located on 26th Street, across the street from FIT) and the Hilton Garden Inn (located on 37th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

  • To book at the Hilton Garden Inn follow this booking link. Discounted rooms start at $219 (+ taxes and fees) and will be available until June 20, 2019 or until sold out.
  • To book at the Hilton Fashion District follow this booking link. Discounted rooms start at $229 (+ taxes and fees) and will be available until June 11, 2019 or until sold out.

These room blocks will sell out quickly, so we encourage everyone to book your room as soon as possible!

Stay Informed

You can stay updated about conference news by liking the NECSS Facebook page, following NECSS on Twitter, and signing up for NECSS email updates.

See you in July!


"Behind the Curve" viewing and discussion. How does this happen?

When: Sunday, April 14. 2019 @ 4:00 to 6:30 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Everyone's heard about it. Some of you have even held your noses and watched it by now. If so, you know there's more in this documentary on the flat Earth movement than there at first seems to be.

We're taking a break from lectures this month, so instead we'll be meeting at our regular location (please note change in date and time!) for entertainment and discussion.

What really causes flat Earth belief? Can anything be done about it? Are we partially responsible??? We'll address these questions, as well as the very future of the New York City Skeptics!

Brooklyn Commons features a wide selection of coffee, food, beer and wine.

Event Links


Carylanna Taylor Presents the Science & Fiction of ANYA

When: Sunday, March 17. 2019 @ 1:30 to 4:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

 Carylanna Taylor, co-creator of the movie ANYA discuss how a casual thought experiment with her writing/producing partner Jacob Okada developed into a feature film. ANYA is a love story and genetics mystery coming in 2019. The film began in 2014 with Jacob's seemingly random question: how do species diverge? ANYA's story about a couple and the evolutionary geneticist who discovered the unusual source of their infertility was born.

To come up with a concrete, plausible source of speciation, we reached out to the National Academy of Science's Science & Entertainment Exchange. They connected us with two amazing geneticists at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ting Wu and Dr. Ruth McCole lent their research on ultra-conserved elements of DNA to the film and became our science advisors. Our collaboration led to a movie that is far richer than our original script: ANYA tackles contemporary issues in genetics such as diversity in the scientific community, research ethics, DNA testing among vulnerable populations, and gene-editing.

Because of the research that went into making the film, ANYA has already scooped headlines and is likely to scoop more. In November 2018 news broke that a Chinese scientist appeared to have successfully created a "CRISPR baby." We filmed a similar plot point in summer 2017!

In addition of the overview of ANYA's development, the lecture will include the film trailer, a sneak peak scene highlighting the knowledge gap between researchers and participants, and pre-recorded comments for The New York Skeptics Society by ANYA's science advisor, Dr. Ruth McCole.

Dr. Carylanna Taylor is an anthropologist and filmmaker. She spent over twenty years teaching and researching in Latin America and the US with a focus on migration, environment, and development. Her research received recognition through National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, and Fulbright grants. An applied cultural anthropologist by training (PhD University of South Florida), Carylanna is passionate about sharing her appreciation for human diversity and scientific understanding. In 2012, she partnered with Jacob Okada in First Encounter Productions to apply her anthropology through film. Their work together includes a feature documentary about a NASA mathematician/painter (PAINTING THE WAY TO THE MOON, 2015) and their first narrative feature, a love story and genetics mystery (ANYA, 2019).

We encourage all attendees to register at