Thanks, CASH!

Last night I spoke at Coffman Memorial for the Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH) meeting. If you’re in the Twin Cities area and want to learn about atheist and skeptic events, you need to join CASH’s Facebook group. They’ve hosted some truly awesome speakers like Michael Shermer, Banachek, JT Eberhard, Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, and some guy named Richard Dawkins(?). And now moi!

This was my first talk that I’ve given about atheism and blogging, and my first “full length” presentation to an atheist/skeptics group (I spoke for an hour and 15 minutes, not exactly a fillibuster, but long enough for me prattling on). You know how in Rainman Dustin Hoffman’s character was able to look at a bunch of objects and instantly know how many there were in the pile? I’m the opposite of that. I think there were maybe 20-30 people in the audience, but I could be really, really off.

Continue reading “Thanks, CASH!”

Thanks, CASH!
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Skepticon 5 T-Shirts are (almost) here!

You know you want one.

Just click on the image below. And if you enter FtBFtW in the Special Code section you get a free gift. No, I don’t know what it is. But I’m going to find out!

T-shirts will go into production by July or whenever they reach 75 shirts ordered. So the sooner everyone orders, the sooner we all get our shirts. And FYI – last year they sold out of almost every size long before the event.

Continue reading “Skepticon 5 T-Shirts are (almost) here!”

Skepticon 5 T-Shirts are (almost) here!

The Secret of the Gypsy Queen

Skeptoid Podcast just made their 300th episode, and to celebrate they produced something special. Rachel Bloom does the vocals, and if the name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you’ll recognize her as the voice behind Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury. The illustrations are also very fun to watch.

Skepticism and musical theather – I couldn’t be happier!

The Secret of the Gypsy Queen

Minnesota Skeptics Meetup TONIGHT

Tonight I’m hosting the Minnesota Skeptics “Drinking Skeptically” meetup. Now, this group has been around for years longer than I’ve involved, and the regulars would show up even if I didn’t, so what makes me the host? Because I have the free T-Shirts!

I’m going to be sharing some photos and talking about my experiences at Chicago Skepticamp, which I attended two weekends ago. As The Official Host In Charge Of Talking About Skepticamp And Handing Out Free T-Shirts, I invite you to join us if you’ll be in the area (or if own a molecular transporter. Actually, if you own one of these, contact me even if you don’t feel like coming to Drinking Skeptically, okay?)

You can get more details of the event at the Drinking Skeptically event page, but here’s the skinny: People start gathering at Be’Wiched Deli (the food, OMFSM, the food!) in Minneapolis at 5pm. At about 7:30, some of the group members wander across the street to Jager to continue our discussions. Here’s what our group is all about:

Had enough of astrologers, psychics, homeopaths, ghost hunters, aliens, conspiracy theorists, creationists, and snake oil salesmen? Yearning to talk with someone rational for a while? Skeptics are interested in critical thinking, science, and the psychologies of belief and perception. Come meet with local skeptics for some refreshing and sane conversation.

If you can make it, I’ll see you there!

Minnesota Skeptics Meetup TONIGHT

Fallacies, Fallacies, Everywhere!

Sometimes I get stuck in a conversation with someone who is making piss-poor arguments, and I just want to shoot ’em all down. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to do this because I can’t get a word in edge-wise, or because I’m not quick enough on my feet that day to identify the particular BS being spouted. I have a lot of respect for people who can dissect an argument into its components and separate the bogus from the the valid points. This is a skill – a learnable skill – that can take discussions to the next level and allow topics to be examined rationally.

Evan Bernstein from the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe recently responded to a fabulously fallacious and nonsensical email from a listener on the SGU blog, The Rogue’s Gallery. First Evan presents the email in its entirety, then proceeds to break it down one sentence at a time. This is an epic response, and I wanted to share with all of you.

“I don’t like your attitude on the show. You said the Chem-trails are not real. I have seen them myself and have taken many pictures. I have also seen footage of a weatherman in Oregon saying that the military was doing experiments and laying the chem-trails. Why would you be so sure that they are not real. Who are you?? A bunch of snotty punks that never leave your office? I bet the whole show is there to make real people who seek real truth; look stupid. The “experts” like you claim to be, lie all the fucking time; and so do the people on your show. Thats why you dont have the guts to put up a phone number for calls. I bet you are funded by the goverment, or drug companies or something. No normal people are so arrogant. You are not the “experts” of anything, except lies.”

Wow, that’s quite an email.  Allow me to reply one sentence at a time.

 “I don’t like your attitude on the show.” 

Unsubscribe.

“You said the Chem-trails are not real.”

Yes.

“I have seen them myself and have taken many pictures.” 

 You saw contrails, not “chem-trails”.

“I have also seen footage of a weatherman in Oregon saying that the military was doing experiments and laying the chem-trails.” 

Argument From Authority (a very poor one, to boot) 

“Why would you be so sure that they are not real.” 

Evidence, lack thereof.

Who are you??

I see where the question mark from the prior “question” went.  

 A bunch of snotty punks that never leave your office?”

Ad Hominem.

“I bet the whole show is there to make real people who seek real truth; look stupid.”

Only those who regularly botch their punctuation.

The “experts” like you claim to be, lie all the fucking time; and so do the people on your show.

Asshole Fallacy.

“Thats why you dont have the guts to put up a phone number for calls.”

(212) 384-1000

“I bet you are funded by the goverment, or drug companies or something.”

Something.

“No normal people are so arrogant.”

(Fill in your own thought, I really have no idea what this means.)

“You are not the “experts” of anything, except lies.”

Lies indeed, especially exposing the people who spout and regurgitate them.

See? EPIC. Not that this response would make any difference to the listener, but sometimes it’s enough to examine the message, deconstruct it, realize that there’s nothing you could say to make a difference, and move on with your life.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe was my gateway drug into skepticism back in late 2009. My sister recommended the SGU podcast for its laid-back presentation of science and critical thought. And it is laid-back. This isn’t a hard-core science podcast; there is a sharp focus on skepticism and rationality (of which science and evidence play a huge part).

Listening to SGU renewed my interest in recognizing logical fallacies, and has even pushed me outside of my normal biology and medicine comfort zones to explore cosmology, physics and robotics. Each show has several regular weekly sections and the rest is a bunch of unscripted bantering between the five hosts. I describe it to newbies as a nerdier version of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! If this sounds like your gig, check it out The Skeptics Guide to the Universe on iTunes.

Fallacies, Fallacies, Everywhere!

Happy Friday the 13th!

I have a new post up at Minnesota Skeptics about Friday the 13th! Here’s an excerpt:

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”).

Try saying either of those 13 times in row.

To read the rest of my article, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics blog.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Banachek Visits University of Minnesota

I have a new post up at Minnesota Skeptics about Banachek’s recent mentalism show at the U of MN! Here’s an excerpt:

The opening bit was a card/”body language reading” trick.  Before I tell you the audience’s perspective, I have to go back to when the Hubby and I walked into the auditorium. When Banachek greeted us, he had a deck of cards in his hands. He shuffled the deck and had the Hubby and I flip the middle of the deck up halfway so that we could see one card, but so that Banachek couldn’t. We were told to think very hard about the card, to remember it because he might call on us during the show to try and guess our card. He told us that he was going to use our body language to guess which cards we had drawn.

Banachek helps an audience member bend a spoon with “the power of her mind”!

To read the rest of my article, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics blog.

Banachek Visits University of Minnesota

Inner Dimensional Sound Chamber

I have a new blog post up at the MN Skeptics Blog!

I’d never heard of an inner dimensional sound chamber. To the interwebs!

I found a website called soundheal.com and these are a few of the things that they have to say about the principles of the magic music box:

Inner Dimensional Sound Chamber is a blending of science and metaphysics in vibrational technology. It provides a low level oscillating energy field which assists with the restoration of cellular integrity.

The sound chamber honors the body’s natural geometric ability to heal itself at the cellular level. It sends specialized music or sound through the structure creating interference patterns.

I do not think these words “geometric” and “interference patterns” mean what you think they mean.

To read the rest of my article, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics blog.

Inner Dimensional Sound Chamber

Back to Reality and Rumpology

Okay, it’s been about two weeks of awesomeness and now it’s time to get back to work. I had a great time at Dragon*Con. I arrived home at about 11:30pm last night, and spent today unpacking, watching TV, doing a few light chores and in general just getting back into the everyday routine mindset. I’m not loving the fact that there’s an everyday routine mindset, but it is good to be home.

I’ve got a few blog posts in draft that I’m pretty excited to finish and get up on the blog, but I figured today I would tell you about my favorite new word and woo, and a then share a few final Dragon*Con photos.

Okay, first the new (to me) woo: RUMPOLOGY

I first heard this word from Tim Farley during a skeptics panel at Dragon*Con. The woman next to me leaned over and whispered, “What’s rumpology? It sounds like it has something to do with butts.” Friends, there is no gentle way to put this: Rumpology is butt reading. You’ve heard of palm reading? Apply that same idea to the ass and you’ve grasped the subject. Jackie Stallone is a self-described astrologer, psychic and rumpologist. If you send her a photo of your bottom she will tell you about your past, your future and your “natural personality characteristics”, whatever that means. And all for the LOW, LOW PRICE of $600! The website claims are embarrassing – there are no references or anything that looks like supporting evidence for the supposed history of rumpology, or the claims that one butt cheek tells you about your past, the other about your future and the gluteal cleft (Read: hairy ass crack) tells you about your personality.

Seems legit. Let me get my checkbook.

Butt while I’m doing that, enjoy a few final Dragon*Con costumes (click on any photo for the making bigger):

This is probably my favorite “I was at Dragon*Con” souvenir photo. In my opinion, the weeping angels are one of the creepiest Doctor Who characters that I’ve seen, and this was the best angel costume at the con.

A very well done Blade. The weapons are dead on – the sword, the fictional gun, the silver spikes and EDTA darts. Bravo to the detail!

The Vision

Captain America

Back to Reality and Rumpology