Grassroots Skeptics is pleased to announce that we’re partnering with the James Randi Educational Foundation to present a workshop on grassroots skeptical organizing at The Amazing Meeting 8. We’re assembling a fantastic group of skeptical organizers and activists, who will share their experiences, and offer lots of practical tips. If you’re looking for advice about starting a local skeptics group, how to grow the membership of your existing group, or ideas for events you can plan to help spread critical thinking in your community, then we’ll have something for you.
Deirdre Barrett talks about supernormal stimuli, which are exaggerated versions of natural stimuli to which there are existing instinctual responses. She discusses how our evolved instincts are overwhelmed by technological advances and other facets of modern society. She explores how pornography, unhealthy diets, and even the quest for nuclear energy as opposed to wind or solar energy are supernormal stimuli. And she explains how undue credulity in the supernatural and the paranormal may be a function of our natural instincts to believe becoming overrun by supernormal stimuli.
Also, in this week’s edition of the Honest Liar, we consider the similarities between a streetside scam artist and a billion dollar Ponzi schemer.
“Europe is closed,” I told my eight year old daughter that Sunday morning, letting her know that I wouldn’t be flying there that night. When she asked why it was closed, I told her that volcano ash is dangerous to airplanes. In her best smart-alecky voice, she threw right back at me what I’ve been trying to teach her about skepticism: “Are you sure, Dad, or is it just a guess? Well? I mean, do we have e-vi-dence?” With those words I realized that the skeptic movement missed an opportunity to show people how valuable — literally valuable — a skeptical approach can be.
Summary: A recent study in India by the Defense Research and Development Organization observed a holy man who claims that he has lived for decades without food or water. A team of 30 medics are reported to have been in attendance during a 14 day observation of the man.
Can a person survive on just air? Perhaps, as a professor in the study says, "If he does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one."
There have been many claimants over the years for the Million Dollar Challenge who say that they have survived for years without ingesting any food or water. When put to the test, they fail.
The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce that it will be offering events in Louisville and Chicago in the upcoming months. The workshop Divination with Pendulums and Dowsing Rods is a comprehensive 3-hour, hands-on program covering the history, current application, and construction of divination devices, presented from a skeptical perspective, and featuring the research of James Randi on the topic. The workshop will emphasize how paranormal beliefs like dowsing are not trivial, and have real-world implications. Participants will make both pendulums and dowsing rods, and devise randomized, double-blinded trials to test their effectiveness. All tools, materials, and handouts are included in registration fee.
The workshops will be led by Dr. Christina L. Stephens, a science writer and biomechanics researcher who writes for the JREF and at www.ziztur.com. She is chair of the Fringe Science Investigations Committee of the Skeptical Society of Saint Louis. Joining her will be Zi Teng Wang, a scientist and amateur magician, and long-time skeptic with special interest in evolutionary biology and the American educational system.
Our event in Louisville is on June 12th, 2010 and is being hosted by the Louisville Area Skeptics. Our Chicago workshop is July 31st, 2010 and is being hosted by the Chicago Skeptics. Workshop registration is free for JREF members and $45 for non-members. You will find links to online registration below.
For more information about regional workshops or to find out how to bring a JREF event to your city, email email@example.com. Watch for new workshops coming soon, including Skepticism 101, Psychics and Skeptics, and Junior Skepticism, a 1/2-day skepticism camp for children and families, featuring resources from Junior Skepticmagazine, the illustrated kids’ critical thinking periodical bound into every issue of Skeptic magazine.