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Wednesday
Sep192018

Skepticamp NYC 2018

When: Saturday, December 8th, 2018 @ 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

REGISTER AT http://www.skepticampnyc.org/  

Admission is FREE of charge!

SkeptiCamp is like a science conference, except that its content is provided by the attendees themselves! Anyone can be a presenter, as long as your topic has something to do with science and/or skepticism.

It is based on the successful "unconference" model that originated with "BarCamp". (No, it has nothing to do with bars. The name has its own rich history, which you can read about on our Etymology page.) While BarCamp has primarily focused on software and technology, SkeptiCamp will focus on topics related to science, critical thinking, and other notions that appeal to a skeptical crowd.

Conventional conferences tend to follow a standard pattern of linear presentation, followed by Q&A. We hope the sessions and presentations given at SkeptiCamp NYC are more like lively discussions, than straight seminars. Perhaps even a few workshops will be sprinkled in. Presenters should try to welcome the bombardment of questions, after their initial introduction to the topic is made. Though, some may still choose to err on the side of convention.

SkeptiCamp is intended for adults and college students. Youth can also join us, if they'd like, as long as they have their parents' or guardians' permission.

You MUST register on the Skepticamp website. RSVPing on Meetup.com is not enough. Make FREE reservations at http://www.skepticampNYC.org

Anyone who can be in the New York City area, at the given date and time is invited to join and... perhaps even lead a session of your own!

 Event Links

Wednesday
Aug292018

Race and Genetics: Rob DeSalle on his book "Troublesome Science"

When: Saturday, September 15, 2018 @ 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

It's well established that all humans today, wherever they live, belong to one single species. Yet even many people who claim to abhor racism take for granted that human “races” have a biological reality.

Rob DeSalle will speak to us about his book "Troublesome Science:  The Misuse of Genetics and Genomics in Understanding Race," which aims to provide a forceful critique of how scientific tools have been misused to uphold misguided racial categorizations.


Rob DeSalle is a Curator at the American Museum of Natural History. He is affiliated with the AMNH Division of Invertebrate Zoology and the Division of Anthropology and works at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, where he leads a group of researchers working on molecular systematics, molecular evolution, population and conservation genetics, and evolutionary genomics of a wide array of life forms ranging from viruses, bacteria, corals, and plants, to all kinds of insects, reptiles, mammals and humans.

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

Event Links

Monday
Aug062018

Your body is a mess: Nathan Lents on his book "Human Errors"

When: Sunday, August 19, 2018 @ 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures, but if we are supposedly evolution’s greatest creation, why do we have such bad knees? Why do we catch head colds so often—two hundred times more often than a dog does? How come our wrists have so many useless bones? Why is the vast majority of our genetic code pointless? And are we really supposed to swallow and breathe through the same narrow tube? Surely there’s been some kind of mistake.

Through his book Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, biology professor Nathan H. Lents explains how our evolutionary history is nothing if not a litany of mistakes, a big pile of compromises. But that's also a testament to our greatness -- humans have so many design flaws precisely because we are very, very good at getting around them.

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

Event Links

Tuesday
Jul172018

The NIH’s HerbList App: Helping or Hurting?

 

In June 2018, the National Institute of Health (NIH) launched an app available for download on iPhone and Android. The “HerbList” app aims to provide users with “information about the science of popular herbs and herbal supplements” and is published by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The Center conducts research into complementary and alternative medicine, which, not surprisingly, often shows no benefits.

HerbList has been downloaded about 1,000 times since its release last month, including by me. It’s a list of popular and widely available herbal supplements, and when an herb is selected, the user receives a short background about the plant and its proposed uses, a section describing whether the currently available science supports those claims, and some safety information.

 

www.nih.govTo the credit of the NIH, the first 10 supplements I’ve looked through, including Acai, Asian Ginseng, Butterbur, and Green Tea,  were reported as having insufficient evidence to warrant the health claims they advertise, and HerbList does provide potential drug interactions and links to primary studies of the supplements’ efficacy.

 

This makes HerbList something of a double-edged sword. It does not guarantee that the product listed on a bottle of supplements is actually in there, or is at the labeled dosage --it doesn't evaluate any specific manufacturer of supplements. Further, the very existence of HerbList and the fact that an NIH institute took the time to develop this app may lend credibility to a business already fraught with data manipulation, fabrication, and exaggeration.


But it may also prove to be a valuable resource for people who otherwise would have never examined their own beliefs about supplements. In the best case, it might avert harmful drug/supplement interaction, in the worst, it will be disingenuously used to support use of needless supplements.

 

By Yelena Bernadskya

Monday
Apr302018

Introducing SpeedyCamp NYC 2018!

When: Sunday, June 10th, 2018 @ 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlatic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

SpeedyCamp is a fast-paced open conference on science and skepticism. Six people will give ten minute long presentations, along with 5 minutes of Q&A, and YOU can be one of them! If you are familiar with the older SkeptiCamp and BarCamp events, this like that, but speedier!

(No, this is NOT replacing SkeptiCamp. We are still planning to hold our larger SkeptiCamp NYC 2018 event towards the end of the year.)

Visit this site to see the latest speaker list.

Contact MitchLampert42@gmail.com if you would like to be on the speaker list. No credentials required, but your topic must have something to do with science and/or skepticism. But, do it fast!! The first 6 to request a slot will get them!

For insights on how to prepare, you can read our SkeptiCamp Session Leader's Guide

(But, remember: You only get 10 minutes, NOT 25!)

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

Event Links

Monday
Apr232018

Massimo Pigliucci on "Science Unlimited? The Challenges of Scientism"

When: Sunday, May 20th, 2018 @ 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Where: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlatic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

This month, Massimo Pigliucciphilosopher Massimo Pigliucci returns to talk about his latest book, Science Unlimited? The Challenges of Scientism.

All too often in contemporary discourse, we hear about science overstepping its proper limits—about its brazenness, arrogance, and intellectual imperialism. The problem, critics say, is scientism: the privileging of science over all other ways of knowing. Science, they warn, cannot do or explain everything, no matter what some enthusiasts believe. In Science Unlimited?, noted philosophers of science Maarten Boudry and Massimo Pigliucci gather a diverse group of scientists, science communicators, and philosophers of science to explore the limits of science and this alleged threat of scientism.

In this wide-ranging collection, contributors ask whether the term scientism in fact (or in belief) captures an interesting and important intellectual stance, and whether it is something that should alarm us. Is scientism a well-developed position about the superiority of science over all other modes of human inquiry? Or is it more a form of excessive confidence, an uncritical attitude of glowing admiration? What, if any, are its dangers? Are fears that science will marginalize the humanities and eradicate the human subject—that it will explain away emotion, free will, consciousness, and the mystery of existence—justified? Does science need to be reined in before it drives out all other disciplines and ways of knowing? Both rigorous and balanced, Science Unlimited? interrogates our use of a term that is now all but ubiquitous in a wide variety of contexts and debates. Bringing together scientists and philosophers, both friends and foes of scientism, it is a conversation long overdue.

Prof. Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism.

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

Event Links