Archive for the ‘skeptical community’ Category
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 23, 2013
In honor of the epic 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, I am going to re-post a recent post I made this past summer: SkepchickCON-CONvergence 2013 Day Two – Physics of the TARDIS…
On my second day at SkepchickCON-CONvergence 2013, I participated in two panels. The second panel was titled “The Physics of the TARDIS” and since the con had a “British Invasion” theme to it, Doctor Who was a big hit this year. And that meant that this panel was very well attended, so well attended in fact that it ended up being standing (and sitting) room only! In this panel we got into all manner of questions regarding the physics, realistic and speculative, regarding time travel, the TARDIS being bigger-on-the-inside, and more.
My co-panelists for this discussion were Steve Manfred, Renate Fiora, and Katherine Krantz. Check out the audio of the panel below, and enjoy! :)
[**Note: the audio is embedded in a PowerPoint file - just click the link to download the file]
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: 11th Doctor, 50 years, 50th anniversary, anniversary, BBC, bigger on the inside, convention, Convergence, Day of the Doctor, discussion, Doctor Who, fantasy, Fourth of July, July 4th, Minneapolis, Minnesota, panel, physics, relativity, science, Skepchick, SkepchickCon, Skepchicon, skeptic, skeptic track, space, TARDIS, television, The Doctor, time, Time and Relative Dimension in Space, time travel, TV | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 12, 2013
In an effort to continue lighting candles in the darkness, I wanted to pass along the following announcement from SHARE, the Skeptics and Humanist Aid and Relief Effort – please consider helping out…
Please Donate Now for Philippines Typhoon Relief
Typhoon Haiyan has killed thousands of people in the Philippines, and the toll is rising. Of those who have thus far survived, 4 million people are estimated to be directly affected, right now. They need clean water, food, and shelter, right now.
We at the Center for Inquiry are asking you to help by donating to the S.H.A.R.E. (Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Efforts) program to assist secular aid organizations to provide immediate and desperately needed relief and services. 100% of money raised goes directly to the relief efforts of Oxfam.
Click here to donate.
At CFI, all of our work is grounded in the values of secular humanism, values that consider every human life equal in dignity and respect. In the aftermath of this typhoon, there are millions of human beings in danger, millions in need. We’re asking you to please put your values into action, and help those affected by one of the most devastating storms in recent history, right now.
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: assist, Center For Inquiry, CFI, charity, damage, danger, disaster, donate, effort, food, Haiyan, help, hurricane, medicine, Oxfam, Philippines, Red Cross, relief, science, secular, SHARE, shelter, skeptics, Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort, storm, typhoon, weather, Yolanda | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 17, 2013
This past Sunday evening, I was interviewed on The Pink Atheist podcast/radio show. The topics of discussion were the vaccine survey research I was involved with and the importance of promoting a good pro-vaccine message, as well as talking about some of the physics behind various crazy demonstrations I perform both in and out of the classroom.
Click the link below for the full audio of my interview, which starts at the 20:25 mark. Enjoy!
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, atheism, atheist, bed of nails, children, data, discussion, God, immunization, information, interview, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, martial arts, medicine, miracle, misconceptions, mysticism, myth, opinion, parents, physics, podcast, pressure, radio, religion, research, science, show, skepticism, survey, talk, TAM7, The Amazing Meeting, The Pink Atheist, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 13, 2013
Over the last few years, one of the things I’ve done is to work on the Educational Advisory Board of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). One of this board’s functions is to help assemble a variety of lesson plans and modules which emphasize skepticism and critical thinking that can be distributed to teachers everywhere.
I am happy to pass along to you some of the latest lessons from our work at the JREF. Please feel free to share these as you see fit
New “JREF in The Classroom” Lesson Plans!
The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the release of four new additions to our JREF in the Classroom offerings:
Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?
Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]
Illusions: Our Visual System
Teacher Edition [PDF]
Cognition: Are You Rational?
Teacher Edition [PDF]
Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?
Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]
These are downloadable lesson plans for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that use topics in pseudoscience and the paranormal to teach critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. Each lesson is designed to expose students to concepts identified in the National Science Content Standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks.
These free lesson plans for teachers (and parents) are additions to JREF’s growing catalog of grade-specific standards-focused resources including lesson plans, activity guides, multimedia materials, and more. JREF’s aim with these free resources is to inspire an investigative spirit in the next generation of critical thinkers, providing the intellectual toolkit needed to navigate a life full of difficult decisions, confusing information, and conflicting claims.
Teachers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a free printed classroom kit for any of the eight topics available so far, and to get more information on ways to incorporate JREF’s critical thinking materials into their classrooms.
More information on these and other classroom resources can be found here ≫
And don’t miss JREF President D.J. Grothe’s appearance on the syndicated radio show America Weekend where he discusses JREF’s new free classroom resources. Listen now ≫
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: advisory, board, classroom, content, critical thinking, education, educators, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, lesson plans, modules, school, skepticism, standards, student, teacher | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 18, 2013
I am very pleased to announce that a ground-breaking survey conducted on the issue of people’s opinions regarding vaccines and vaccination has been published; the work was a joint project of the James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. and it gets to the heart of how those of us who support good science-based medicine can communicate a more positive message on vaccines.
In addition, I am happy to say that I took a personal role in this research during my time with the Women Thinking, Inc. organization
[**Addendum: My skeptical colleague, Jamie Bernstein, wrote a wonderful piece on this survey research over at Skepchick, and she outlines there just how many people were involved in this process over the last few years. Check it out!]
So, without further ado, I would like to link to the JREF’s press-release on the survey; please note that you can download the full paper at this link, so please share it!
The James Randi Educational Foundation and Women Thinking, Inc. have come together for an opinion survey aimed at better understanding the spread of the unfounded “vaccine panic” that prevents some parents from getting important immunizations for their children. The project, Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation, explores better ways to communicate a “vaccine-positive” message.
“Vaccine misconceptions have been running rampant, which should not only be concerning to science advocates but to parents and the greater public,” said WTinc President Louise Kellar. “Previously it had been unclear which misconceptions had been taking a toll on parents. Through this survey that the JREF funded, we hope that that science advocates and educators will be able to focus their outreach efforts, thereby helping children have the best start in life and hopefully saving some lives in the process.”
The joint project is an opinion survey that includes data from hundreds of parents of young children. The survey data was collected by volunteers at events where parents may be especially vulnerable to “anti-vaccine” messages. The JREF and Women Thinking, Inc. is happy to make the results freely available to public health and science advocates to help inform their efforts to support childhood immunity.
“There are some provocative conclusions that may be drawn from the survey data,” said JREF President D.J. Grothe. “Although the scientific community has done a good job refuting the misinformation of the most vocal anti-scientific anti-vaccine campaigners, the survey data suggests that most parents do understand the importance of ‘herd immunity,’ but just consider this a greater risk than possible harm to their children coming from vaccination. We hope the information from the survey will help science educators and activists better understand parents’ concerns in order to help them make the healthiest choices regarding childhood immunity from dangerous diseases.”
The JREF-WTinc survey, conducted over the last two years and released to the public today, aims to help science advocates fill gaps in the public’s understanding of the vaccine panic. The opinion survey asked specific questions about parents’ beliefs and fears about immunization, their media consumption, and their conversations with friends, family, and doctors. From the report: “The most effective anti-vaccination arguments are those that induce fear in parents by naming frightening ingredients and by greatly exaggerating the risks of vaccinations. The best pro-vaccination arguments were those that focused on a good-parenting message, such as suggesting that not immunizing your child is equivalent to putting them in a car without a car seat.”
You may download a copy of Immunization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation here.
Click here to read the rest of the press-release
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: anti-vaccination, anti-vax, children, data, immunization, information, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, medicine, misconceptions, myth, opinion, parents, research, science, survey, vaccination, vaccines, vax, Women Thinking, WT, WT Inc | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 6, 2013
The second panel in which I participated this past Labor Day weekend at DragonCon was a Skeptrack panel titled “Limits of Skepticism”. I served as the moderator of the panel, which included philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci, astronomer Pamela Gay, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) DJ Grothe, Center For Inquiry activist Debbie Goddard, freethought activist Margaret Downey, and author of “What’s the Harm?” website Tim Farley. In this discussion we ranged far and wide on the question of what is skepticism, what are the tools of skepticism, what are the limits of skepticism, and how skepticism can apply beyond the so-called “traditional” topics (UFOs, Bigfoot, creationism, etc). I recorded the audio of the panel and share it with you below – enjoy!
Posted in philosophy, religion, scientific method, skeptical community | Tagged: belief, DC, Debbie Goddard, discussion, DJ Grothe, Dragon*Con, evidence, faith, God, limits, Margaret Downey, Massimo Pigliucci, method, methodological naturalism, methodology, Pamela Gay, panel, philosophy, philosophy of science, religion, science, skepticism, Skeptrack, Tim Farley | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 5, 2013
While at DragonCon this past Labor Day weekend, I had the good fortune to participate in two wonderful panels in the Skeptrack. The first panel was titled “Creationism and Intelligent Design”, and it featured me as the moderator, philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci, and science blogger Jon Voisey. We had a wide ranging conversation on the topic of creationism, the tactics employed by creationists in their attempts to undermine science education, and related issues. I recorded the audio of the panel and share it with you below – enjoy!
Posted in creationism, education, skeptical community | Tagged: biology, creation, creationism, DC, Discovery Institute, discussion, Dragon*Con, education, evolution, God, ID, intelligent design, Jon Voisey, Massimo Pigliucci, panel, religion, science, skepticism, Skeptrack | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 31, 2013
I don’t often make posts about this particular topic, though I have definite feelings on the issue. If you call yourself a skeptic and/or atheist and you’re involved in the movement, you would have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of years to have missed how the issue of misogyny, sexual harassment, and assault has come to the front of much discussion in our community.
What follows is a video made by a very brave woman whom I know, named Ashley Paramore. I’ve known her for a few years through our mutual involvement in the skeptic/atheist movement. She is a smart, beautiful, and talented woman who is quite passionate about skepticism/atheism, much like many of the women (such as those ladies at Skepchick and the Women Thinking, Inc) whom I have had the honor of meeting and working with these last few years.
**Please note: what is described in this video may be disturbing to some**
It saddens me to say that I personally know of at least two other women (as well as one man) who were similarly harassed and/or assaulted at skeptic cons in recent years. In one situation, I actually had to get physically involved to stop the assault and eject the perpetrator from the venue.
Ashley is right: this sort of thing happens a LOT more often than many people might think. And while I applaud the efforts of various cons to set up methods of dealing with such situations as they arise (and yes, I also have my criticisms of other cons for not doing so), the best thing to do is to create an environment where such harassment and/or assault doesn’t occur at all. And for that, it takes all of us to be more aware of what is going on around us; it requires us to be willing to call out inappropriate behavior; it requires us to be willing to listen more and treat the experiences of women (and men, too) like Ashley seriously and in a non-judgmental manner; and it means that we need to provide support, either in public or private, for those who are willing to make a stand against such reprehensible behavior.
**On a personal note: I have found, as a man, that my experiences with women like Ashley over the years and their willingness to share their thoughts and experiences (as well as my willingness to listen to them) has served to deepen my love and respect for the women in my life who are closest to me. It has made me a better husband, brother, son, teacher, and colleague, and I want to say to all of those women something I should have said long ago: Thank you
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: Ashley Paramore, assault, atheism, atheist, con, conference, convention, flirting, harassment, men, misogyny, rape, respect, sex, sexual, Skepchick, skeptic, skepticism, TAM, testimony, The Amazing Meeting, women, Women Thinking Inc | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 26, 2013
I just watched the following video by Dr. Eugenie Scott, formerly of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), wherein she goes over a variety of stories in an entertaining and enlightening SkeptiCal talk about urban legends, science frauds (like Piltdown Man), out-and-out silliness (like Australia’s Drop Bear), and more. It is at times funny, serious, and challenging, even for die-hard skeptics. Enjoy! :)
Posted in humor, internet, skeptical community | Tagged: 2013, Eugenie Scott, fraud, funny, Genie Scott, hoax, humor, lecture, legend, narratives, National Center for Science Edcuation, NCSE, prank, science, skeptical, stories, story, talk, urban legend, youtube | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 19, 2013
On my third and final day at SkepchickCON-CONvergence 2013, I participated in the “Ask A Scientist” panel. This was a general Q & A between the audience and expert scientists from a variety of fields.
I moderated the panel, and my co-panelists for this discussion were Laura Okagaki, Lori Fischer, Tom Mahle, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers, Indre Viskontas, Nicole Gugliucci, Bridget Landry, and Bug Girl. Check out the audio of the panel below, and enjoy! :)
Posted in scientific method, skeptical community | Tagged: answer, Ask a Scientist, convention, Convergence, discussion, fantasy, Fourth of July, July 4th, Minneapolis, Minnesota, panel, physics, Q&A, question, science, scientist, Skepchick, SkepchickCon, Skepchicon, skeptic, skeptic track | Leave a Comment »