Saturday, January 29, 2011

KCS Meetup for Feb 2, 2011

In preparation for the 10:23 Campaign on Saturday, Feb 5 at 10:23 am, we're going to cover the Placebo Effect in more detail. We still haven't chosen a location for the event and for that I apologize, but we will have all the details set in place by the meetup. As it stands I haven't heard from the organizer of the Seattle Skeptics regarding this so I'm going to assume that our location will be in Kitsap County. I believe we'll be setting up some kind of information table in a legal public space in front of somewhere that sells homeopathy. We may have cups of homeopathic vodka for people to try. Bryan and I will try to hammer out the details this weekend and have a plan of attack at the meetup.

So, Placebo Effect. It is real and its what demonstrates the difference between a medicine's efficacy or lack thereof. Those on the alt-med side, having had no success whatsoever in proving the efficacy of accupuncture, homeopathy, crystals, Reiki or any other form of bullshit, are now trying to say that even if alt-med is only as effective as placebo, it is worth something if it has any effect. Is this a valid point? I urge everyone to listen to Ben Goldacre's (of course) radio programs on the Placebo Effect because I think this is an important debate to have - and we need everyone to be up to speed on what the Placebo Effect is for the 10:23 campaign. There will be people with questions and we should be able to answer them.

More info to come - hope everyone who got that nasty bug has recovered and we'll see you all Wednesday night. Oh another thing...we're going to try and do Silver City again so PLEASE RSVP. I need a solid ten people to get a reservation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My turn on Just Skeptics...

If I haven't emailed, tweeted, FB'd or texted you about this yet, please check out Just Skeptics podcast #16 where the Greater Manchester Skeptics society organizers Janis Bennion, Gavin Schofield and Alex Dennerly kindly invited me to guest host and blather on about something that pisses me off. As you all know that's quite a long list - but I chose the latest object of my irritation - Oprah Winfrey. Please join me in contacting Oprah to let her know that women aren't stupid and don't deserve to have woo-based programming be the only option on her new 24 hour WIN network. Let's help score one for all of the women in science and the skeptical movement.

At this time I'd like to give a big thanks to Gav, Janis and Alex for allowing me to join the podcast. It was truly the most fun I've ever had on a Friday before noon. In fact, possibly the most fun I've had on a Friday period, those with a better memory of the 90's than I have may be able to confirm that. I had a wonderful time and would do it again in a second...hint, hint....

Update for next Skeptics meetup to be posted asap - we're doing the placebo effect, expect Ben Goldacre to be a major part of this one.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conciousness....Skeptics Meetup for January 19, 2010

Great topic chosen by Skeptic and CO-ORGANIZER Bryan which I'm going to say every time I mention him from now on cause I'm pretty sure I forgot to mention him on the podcast. Watch this space for more details about that later.

Anyway episode 67 of the Brain Science podcast is the topic for this week The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self fascinating stuff so do please try and take the time to listen to it, or if it's easier download and read the pdf transcript.

So, there's a new campaign starting soon arising with Kitsap County Skeptics and as well I'm trying to get someone from Seattle Skeptics to get back to me about the 10:23 Campaign - I will have more details at the meetup. Remember its Saturday, Feb 5 @ 10:23am, place to be determined.

PS Dues for the Skeptics Meetup site are coming up soon, if everyone can bring a couple bucks to donate to the cause at the next meetup it would help us out.

Thank you kindly!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Conspiracy Theory, Pt. 1.

Oh dearie, dearie me I am so late with this one. If nobody does the homework I don't care. I'm just so happy to be HOME!!!! Meanwhile, though we're going to cover conspiracy theory in general and how to critique it at a later date, we'll take a trip down 9/11 Truther Lane this week. Kelly suggested I watch the film "Loose Change" which I did. It was fascinating. Two years ago had I watched this film I wouldn't have known what to think. Now with a critical thinking toolbelt and a logical fallacy toolbox, I was able to sit down and watch this film and spot what was wrong with it. It's an exercise in Critical Thinking 101. Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to watch one of the three versions of Loose Change with a pen and paper (or I guess laptop?) and write down when you think the filmmaker is off-track. You'll need a lot of paper.  

There are several other places to go to help yourself out. Penn and Teller did a Bullshit about it. There are several critiques by skeptics here and I guess this is a video critique? haven't watched, it's long. Also of course there is the Popular Mechanics debunking.

As we all know the internet is chock full of information, the vast majority of it false. In this technological era, those of us with two brain cells to rub together are obligated to be able to sift through information, recognize the signs of bullshit and somehow derive the truth. Then we're obligated to spread the truth to our friends and family who may not have as many brain cells. American Idol does that to you. Anyway the next few skeptics meetups will be dedicated to recognizing bullshit. Bring your stories, your logical fallacies, your bullshit. This will culminate on Feb 5 in a mass homeopathy overdose in solidarity with the Merseyside Skeptics 10:23 Campaign.
"...we're announcing the 10:23 Challenge for 2011 - we want to show global unity by gathering protesters from more than 10 countries, and more than 23 cities. Our aim is to have more than 1023 activists publicly gathering over the weekend of 5th-6th February, to make a statement: Homeopathy - There's Nothing In It."

I've already committed our group to this campaign - place to be determined, time 10:23am. Another mass overdose and wasn't the last one fun??? Please join us to do so, every body counts and I'll video the event for posterity. Or Bryan will. 
Again, I must say, so happy to be home amongst my skeptics/heathens. I just spoke to my 83 year old grandmother for over an hour. She's the coolest person on the planet. She said she can feel it in her bones that this is going to be a great year for me. (Ha ha, I realize this is unsubstantiated prediction, but it's my GRANDMA!) I think she's right. Not just for me but for everyone involved in this group. 2011 is going to rock. My goal is to get as many of us as possible to TAM 9 in Vegas. The Save the Date is July 14-17. Mark your calendars and start planning. Kitsap County Skeptics are going to represent this year! W00T!