In 2004, I attended my first Amaz!ng Meeting at the Tuscany Hotel in Las Vegas. It was an event that changed my life. Hungry for more, I subscribed to Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, and it was there that I found an advertisement for something called "The Skeptic's Toolbox."
This event has been held for the last twenty years at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Led by skeptic, scholar and magician Ray Hyman, The Skeptic's Toolbox is an intense weekend devoted to a single aspect of skepticism. This year's topic: "The Scientific Method." August 6-9 is going to be an interesting weekend in Eugene.
From the site:
Skeptics believe that unusual claims should be backed by evidence which is supported by sound scientific method. However the status of science and the existence of scientific method are currently highly controversial issues. Cynics argue that scientific method does not, and cannot, yield objective outcomes. Indeed, they argue that all scientific knowledge is relative to a given culture or social group.
“When you run your hands through your hair like that it makes me think you’re flirting with me,” a colleague said recently.
I replied, “Maybe I’m not flirting, but I’m getting my hair out of my eyes, or detangling my hair, or it’s a nervous habit, or I have dandruff, or I’m readjusting my wig.”
Someone’s been reading those self-help books about so-called “Body Language”…
Linguistics, kinesics and semiotics are among the disciplines that attempt to observe and describe gesture and other forms of non-verbal communication.
On the other hand (excuse the pun), Body Language “experts” claim they can “read” posture, facial expressions, and other body movements. But people try to conceal their thoughts and emotions, and our own bodies reveal too much. It’s a conspiracy.
One of my good friends in Switzerland is Michael Bloch, from whom I received this note:
Randi: I regularly receive recommendations from Amazon.com advertising esoteric books. They send these since I have bought books written by you!
Michael attached this recommendation that he'd received:
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
As someone who has purchased or rated "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural" by James Randi, you might like to know that "Immortality And Our Employments Hereafter With What A Hundred Spirits, Good And Evil, Say Of Their Dwelling Place" is now available. You can order yours for just $29.95 by following the link below.
Michael complained to Amazon.com on May 10th with the following e-mail
Penn Jillette -- the louder, bigger 2/3 of Penn & Teller, friend of the JREF, and perennial TAM speaker -- has made a short video talking about the live preliminary testing of the Million Dollar Challenge we'll be holding at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 in Vegas; the meeting is from July 9 - 12, with the live test being on Sunday the 12th.