The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Pamela Gay’

“The Limits of Skepticism?” Panel from Dragon*Con 2013

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 19, 2014

In honor of the upcoming Skeptrack at Dragon*Con 2014, I wanted to share the video of my favorite panel from last year’s Skeptrack, titled “The Limits of Skepticism?”  In this panel, we discussed a variety of heady topics related to skepticism, philosophy, religion, God, politics, cultural issues and how far skepticism can and cannot go.  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.

And, with that, here’s the video.  Enjoy! 🙂

The Limits of Skepticism?

The Limits of Skepticism 2 - DragonCon 2013

 

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DragonCon 2013 Skeptrack Panel – Limits of Skepticism

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!

Skeptrack
DragonCon 2013 Skeptrack – Limits of Skepticism

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Physics Demo Show @ Dragon*Con 2011

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 9, 2011

In this quick post, I wanted to share the footage from the physics demonstration show I did at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA over Labor Day weekend, 2011. Working with me on the show was Dr. Pamela Gay (of Astronomy Cast fame) and Jerry Hester (physics demo expert at Clemson University). We had a really fun time doing all of these demonstrations, and I think you can see the show was quite a hit!  So sit back and enjoy the show 🙂

It should be noted that at one point in the show, right before the final bed-of-nails demo, the audience is watching a video off to the side. To see what they were watching and why they were laughing so hard at the end of it, see my “Bed of Nails Blooper” video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9RLfUmju2A (start at the 3 minute 45 sec mark).

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Galaxy Zoo and Citizen Astronomy

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 7, 2011

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to do some really awesome educational outreach work with Dr. Pamela Gay: skeptic, astronomer and co-host of the popular Astronomy Cast podcast (and one of the most awesome people I know).  During the outreach event, Pamela made use of a wonderful online tool called Galaxy Zoo to emphasize that in today’s age of the Internet, ordinary people can engage in “citizen astronomy” quite easily.  Since there are a limited number of professional astronomers in the world, and there is far too much astronomical data for them to comb through easily, what is needed is fresh eyes… lots of fresh eyes.

By allowing everyday citizens – teachers, students, and just plain old curious folks – to have access to the vast databases of galactic imagery (from the Hubble Space Telescope) and some simple protocols for classification, people can have a great impact on the science of astronomy.  In fact, sometimes this leads to some pretty amazing discoveries, such as the anomaly called Hanny’s Voorwerp…

The object, now referred to as a “voorwerp”, is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy and has a huge central hole over 16,000 light years across. The voorwerp is false colored green, a standard color to represent the presence of several luminous emission lines of glowing oxygen. It has been shown to be at the same distance from Earth as the adjacent galaxy, both about 650 million light-years away. Image source: Wikipedia

If you’re interested, check out Galaxy Zoo or any of the related “citizen astronomy” tools available at the Zooniverse Project, and pass it along! 🙂

Posted in education, space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Skeptical Educators Should Speak Up in Favor of New PBS Show

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 24, 2010

I just wanted to take a moment to pass along a request from Dr. Pamela Gay for help from teachers regarding a new skeptically-oriented show she & Brian Dunning are attempting to get started for public television.  For more details, I’ll refer you to Dr. Steve Novella’s post on this…

Help Launching New Show

You may remember The Skeptologists – a TV pilot featuring a group of skeptical investigators taking on a range of pseudoscientific claims. Well – that project is not over, although it has morphed a bit. The working title of the show is now The Edge. And, rather than try to get a commercial TV executive to bite on the idea, the producers (Brian Dunning and Ryan Johnson) are trying to get a grant to produce a season for public television. It’s still an uphill battle, but they are making progress. Phil Plait has moved on with his Discovery Channel contract, including Phil Plait’s Bad Universe. So, Pamela Gay has stepped in to fill his role on the show.

Pamela is also helping with the grant – and she has asked for help. She needs to show that there is demand for the kind of content we aim to produce, and this is where you (potentially) come in.

So, if you are a teacher and you would use content like The Edge – essentially scientists exploring critical thinking and the evidence as it pertains to specific claims – then send an e-mail to Pamela Gay (starstryder@gmail.com) with a letter, addressed to her and Brian Dunning, that says you would use the content in your class. …

Click here for the rest of the post – and please consider passing this along to all of the teachers whom you know who could use the content provided by this new show 🙂

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“Skeptics Under the Stars” Event in October!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 19, 2010

If you happen to be in the upper Midwest in early October, I invite you to attend an event hosted by the Women Thinking Free Foundation: it’s called Skeptics Under the Stars! Here’s more information…


Skeptics Under the Stars!

Saturday, October 2nd

McIntyre’s Resort

N 6471 Milwaukee Road

Delavan, WI 53115

Come join the Women Thinking Free Foundation for a night of astronomy and outdoor camping.  After setting up camp at McIntyre’s Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin, we’ll have an outdoor BBQ with burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers complemented by a talk by skeptical astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay of the popular Astronomy Cast podcast.  After dinner, we’ll make our way to the world-famous Yerkes Observatory for a private tour and chance to take a peek through their historic 40 inch refracting telescope!

After our stint at the observatory, we will head back to the campground for a late night of stargazing, more short talks by our illustrious, skeptical astronomer, and of course roasting marshmallows and generally having fun camping outdoors.

Timeline:

3-5pm – set up camp at McIntyre’s Resort

5-7:15pm – eat and talk with Dr. Pamela Gay

8-11pm – tour of Yerkes Observatory

11pm-???am – stargazing (weather permitting), food, and fun

Cost: $75/person + children under 10 free (so bring the kids!)

What is included in the trip cost:

Tour of Yerkes

Campground Costs

Burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers for BBQ

Lighter Fluid & Charcoal

Snacks

Limited Beer and Wine

What to Bring:

Bug spray

Boots (if hiking)

Jacket/Rain gear

Tents

Sleeping bags/Blankets

Warm Clothes & Boots

Matches/Lighter

Flashlight

Pocket Knife

Telescopes (we have a couple already, but if you have your own, be sure to bring it!)

We’ll have some limited beer and wine until we run out, but you may want to BYOB if you plan on drinking into the night. Same goes for any other food or snacks you want to bring.

We understand that many people may not own all the needed supplies or may not have a car for traveling from Chicago. Please visit the message board at the Skeptics Under the Stars Facebook page if you need or have extra tents/sleeping bags or want to take part in a carpool. We don’t want to leave one skeptic behind just because you don’t own your own sleeping bag.

Additionally, some of us skeptics might want to head up to the campground early to enjoy some hiking and boating prior to the start of the official event. This can all be worked out at the message boards as well.

If you’re on Facebook, check out our event page. If you get lost or have a problem on the way up, make sure to take these phone numbers with you and don’t be shy in calling one of us.

Jamie Bernstein: 858-442-4415
Matt Lowry: 847-533-5717

If you have any other questions or problems, send us an email at marsmattus@yahoo.com and/or jamiebb@uchicago.edu

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Convergence/Skepchicon Day 3: Women as Skeptical Activists

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 5, 2010

On the third day of Convergence/Skepchicon, I attended the “Women as Skeptical Activists” panel discussion.  On the panel were Rebecca Watson (moderator), Maria Walters, Jennifer Newport, Debbie Goddard, Carrie Iwan, and Pamela Gay.  Especially since I’m a board member of the newly-formed Women Thinking Free Foundation (WTFF), I found the discussion especially interesting.  Read on…

Women as Skeptical Activists

What does it mean to be a woman as a skeptical activist?  What does it mean to be a woman in a subculture which is predominantly male?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Convergence/Skepchicon Day 2: “Physics or Fantasy?” Panel

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 5, 2010

At the end of day two at Convergence/Skepchicon, I had the privilege of being on the “Physics or Fantasy?” panel with Jennifer Ouellette, Stephanie Zvan, Lois Schadewald, Jim Kakalios, G. David Nordley, and Pamela Gay.  We discussed a lot of questions & ideas regarding modern physics and the reality and/or myths associated with it.  It was a very lively discussion that we had with a packed room (on Friday night, even!), and I was very happy to be included.  Unfortunately, since I was on the panel, I couldn’t transcribe the discussion – but I did record it for you.  Just click this link to go to the audio (it will open a PowerPoint file with audio embedded)… Skepchicon-Physics or Fantasy

Posted in physics denial/woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Convergence/Skepchicon Day 1: Skepticism 101 Panel

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 2, 2010

I said in my previous post that I would live blog various panels I attended here at Convergence 2010, but that was before I figured out I couldn’t get wireless Internet access because I’m staying in a different hotel.  Oh bugger – that’s okay, I’ll just pseudo-live blog 🙂

My first evening at Skepchicon consisted of getting checked into my hotel, running into PZ Myers in the lobby, meeting up with some of the lovely Skepchicks in a restaurant, taking copious notes at the Skepticism 101 panel discussion tonight in the Science & Technology track, and partying with the Skepchicks (btw, “Buzzed Aldrins” kick a lot of ass!).  While I could go on and on about it all, I will only elaborate on the Skepticism 101 panel – what follows below is my accounting (as best as I could do it) of the discussion.  Enjoy…


Day One of Skepchicon @ Convergence, 2010

Skepticism 101 Panel

with Steve Thoms (editor of SkepticNorth.com – a Canadian skeptic blog), Pamela Gay (from the Astronomy Cast podcast), Lois Schadewald (chemistry college instructor), Greg Laden (paleontologist)

Pamela Gay is introducing the panel and saying hello, and since we have no moderator at the moment, she’s taking over.  The panelists are introducing themselves now.

Pamela Gay says the real universe is far more awesome than the shit some people make up.

Pamela: How do you inflict skeptical thinking upon others?

Greg: Why are the skeptics in the room here?  I never really thought of skepticism as a movement until recently, by interacting with people via the blogosphere.  People engaging in this movement have to understand that this is not a highly monolithic thing.  Some people invited to panels like Skepchick panels are actually offended, because not all skeptics are like the Skepchicks.  It is an important community, but it isn’t necessarily a warm & fuzzy “welcoming” movement.

Pamela: At least skeptics are much more polite than people who tell you that you’re going to hell.

Read the rest of this entry »

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