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1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Eric Cline, PhD)
 
01:10:18
From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society. Considered for a Pulitzer Prize for his recent book 1177 BC, Dr. Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics and Anthropology and the current Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at The George Washington University. He is a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright scholar, an NEH Public Scholar, and an award-winning teacher and author. He has degrees in archaeology and ancient history from Dartmouth, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania; in May 2015, he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree (honoris causa) from Muhlenberg College. Dr. Cline is an active field archaeologist with 30 seasons of excavation and survey experience. The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 3033048 NCASVideo
Terminator Pigs, Walking Whales & Demon Ducks: Wonders of the World After the Dinosaurs
 
47:38
Presented by Thomas Holtz, PhD at Balticon 51 as part of their Skeptical Thinking track. May 29, 2017. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 248867 NCASVideo
Nuclear Accidents: Lessons Learned (Dr. Brian Sheron)
 
01:08:51
Nuclear Accidents: Lessons Learned from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Presented by Dr. Brian Sheron, Director (Retired) Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research In this talk, Dr. Sheron provides a brief description of the three reactors (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima), and what caused each accident, along with a brief description of the consequences. He concludes with a discussion of a recent analytical study done by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that estimates the consequences of a core melt accident at a U.S. nuclear plant, if one were to occur today. Brian W. Sheron recently retired, after over 42 years of Federal service, as the Director of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research. He was appointed to that position on May 1st, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Sheron held numerous technical management positions at the NRC in both the research and regulatory areas. He is the author of over 22 papers on various subjects pertaining to commercial nuclear power safety. He recently served as Chairman of the Committee for the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI). Dr. Sheron received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Duke University in 1969 and Masters and Doctorate degrees in 1971 and 1975 respectively from The Catholic University of America under a full scholarship from the Atomic Energy Commission. Dr. Sheron was actively involved with the U.S. Government’s response to the accident at the Three Mile Island Unit Two nuclear plant in March of 1979, the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, and most recently the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants in Japan in 2011. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 192748 NCASVideo
The Decline (and Probable Fall) of the Scientology Empire - Jim Lippard
 
01:34:14
Jim Lippard spoke on the history of the Church of Scientology, how it has collided with the Internet and lost control of its secrets and its membership, and is now seeing an accelerating decline as its top members leave for new alternatives. Jim Lippard founded the Phoenix Skeptics in 1985, and co-founded the Phoenix Area Skeptics Society in 2011. He's written articles and book chapters on skeptical topics, including two articles in Skeptic magazine on Scientology, "Scientology vs. the Internet" in 1995 (co-authored with Jeff Jacobsen) and "The Decline (and Probable Fall) of the Scientology Empire" in 2012. He also contributed to Gordon Stein's Encyclopedia of the Paranormal and Joe Nickell's Psychic Sleuths. Video notes starting at 13:50: The Fraser Mansion, though referred to by Scientology as the "founding church" from the 1970s to 2010, wasn't the original building. The original building, at 1812 19th St. NW, is now a museum called the L. Ron Hubbard House (though his house was across the street), which the church acquired in 2004. The Fraser Mansion is now Scientology's National Affairs Office. The first use of the name "Church of Scientology" was by the Church of Scientology founded in Camden, N.J. in Dec. 1953; the first Church of Scientology corporation was in Los Angeles (Feb. 1954, which became the Church of Scientology of California in 1956), the Church of Scientology of Arizona was incorporated that same year. Hubbard's organization while he lived in Phoenix was the Hubbard Association of Scientologists, International (HASI), founded in Sep. 1952. All HASI assets were folded into the Church of Scientology of California in 1966. (Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.)
Views: 349466 NCASVideo
Life Beyond Earth: The Search is On, and the Results are Tantalizing (Marc Kaufman)
 
01:04:47
Since the earliest days, humans have looked up to the skies and thought they saw life. It may have been in the form of gods and angels, djinns and flying saucers, but virtually all societies have projected life onto the heavens. Those understandings were grounded in belief, but now science is taking the search for extraterrestrial life to a new level. The science of astrobiology is booming, and scientists from disciplines ranging from microbiology to chemistry, astronomy to cosmology are involved in what some have called the biggest scientific prize (and challenge) of the century. Marc Kaufman, a science writer for The Washington Post, will explore the many ways that researchers are trying to understand what life beyond Earth might be like, where it might be found, how it might be found, and whether intelligent life is even possible (likely?). Kaufman is currently researching his upcoming National Geographic book, covering the first year and a half of the travels of the Mars rover Curiosity. His most recent book is "First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth." Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 1908 NCASVideo
The Calculus of Calories: Quantitative Obesity Research
 
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Presented by Kevin Hall, PhD. (NIH) In this talk, Dr. Hall describes a mathematical approach to understanding the causes and treatment of obesity. Along the way, he debunks many weight loss myths and introduces useful tools to better understand the relationships between diet, physical activity, and body weight. Dr. Kevin Hall is a Senior Investigator at the NIH where he studies body weight regulation. His laboratory develops mathematical models to help design, predict, and interpret the results of clinical research studies. Dr. Hall has been the recipient of the NIH Director's Award, the NIDDK Director's Award, the Lilly Scientific Achievement Award from The Obesity Society, the Guyton Award for Excellence in Integrative Physiology from the American Society of Physiology, and his award-winning Body Weight Simulator (http://bwsimulator.niddk.nih.gov) has been used by more than a million people to help predict how diet and physical activity dynamically interact to affect human body weight. The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 23281 NCASVideo
Sagan's Toolkit: Weird Science, Pseudoscience, and Skepticism (Thomas Holtz)
 
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Presented at BaltiCon, May 25, 2014. Dr. Thomas Holtz is a vertebrate paleontologist who teaches at the University of Maryland. In this talk, Dr. Holtz discusses the elements that make up Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit from Sagan's book "The Demon Haunted World." The views presented in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 3939 NCASVideo
1. Who Invented Beauty -- Madison Avenue or Charles Darwin?
 
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Presented by Elisabeth Cornwell, Ph.D. Executive Director of the U.S. branch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) Part 1 of a 2-part talk. Is beauty created by Madison Avenue ad men (and women), or is beauty a human universal as evolutionary psychologists argue? If it is a human universal — why? What are the adaptive advantages to clear skin, a shapely figure. Are there signals specific to what women want as opposed to what men want? Why do men and women differ in what they find attractive? What do they find similarly attractive? By looking at humans through the Darwinian lens of sexual selection, you will never look at another advertisement the same way again. Dr. R. Elisabeth 'Liz' Cornwell, Ph.D., is the first Executive Director of the U.S. branch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS). She also has years of experience as a businesswoman, working in marketing and sales in the semiconductor industry in California. She decided, in her forties, to go back to university to do a doctorate in psychology, at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. An evolutionary psychologist, her research has examined the underlying mechanisms of human mate selection, looking at such factors as hormones, pheromones, aging, asymmetry, and facial features. More recently she has been doing research at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, exploring the relationship of various psychological traits to religious belief, across the spectrum from strong theism to strong non-theism. www.ncas.org
Views: 11963 NCASVideo
Ghosts, Elves, & the Man from Mars: 2 Decades (Skeptically) Investigating the Paranormal
 
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Presented by Jerry Drake. You can’t turn on your television today without seeing a group of “Ghost Adventurers” or someone “Finding Bigfoot,” but investigating the so-called “paranormal” is not just a passion for the credulous and uncritical. In this talk Jerry Drake cracks open his casebook of investigations to illustrate that some of our greatest unsolved “mysteries” have a perfectly rational explanation. You will learn the “tricks of the trade” to conducting a skeptical investigation of claims of the paranormal. From the Aurora, Texas Martian, the Elves of Iceland, and the Bell Witch of Tennessee to the Loch Ness Monster, the Ghosts of Gettysburg, and the Screaming Woman of Niagara Falls, Jerry will take you on a globe-trotting tour of his first-hand exploration of these fascinating phenomena. When not chasing ghosts and monsters, Jerry Drake is a professional researcher, currently working as an archivist and analyst for the federal government. Previously Jerry has served as a Professor of History at Concordia University and as Deputy Land Commissioner of Texas for Archives & Records. Jerry’s area of professional interest is in designing innovative electronic solutions to facilitate research. Jerry is currently adapting his “paranormal casebook” into a series of articles and a book.
Views: 10846 NCASVideo
1. Neuroscience -- Brains, Minds, and Selves: What is it like to be a bat, and what does it matter?
 
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This is part 1 of a 7-part talk Presented by James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA. The field of neuroscience has achieved considerable insight to the workings of the brain. While the most essential question how brains produce consciousness and mind remains enigmatic, what is becoming increasingly evident is that even simple brains enable a variety of complex functions including the capacity to think, feel pain and be self-aware. Thus, it appears that if an organism has the neurological wetware that is, a brain of some sort it is likely, if not probable that they will be able to run a program that produces a mind. In this lecture, Dr. James Giordano, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist, argues that the cornerstone question is not if other organisms have a mind, but what kind of mind they have. He discusses whether neuroscience and technology can provide some insight to philosopher Thomas Nagels metaphorical query, what is it like to be a bat? In other words, now that science has privileged a realization that non-human minds can exist, will technology allow us to know what it is like to be another being, and what can we -or perhaps more importantly, should we do with such knowledge? Dr. Giordano discusses key questions and issues that have arisen in, and from modern neuroscience, including: Do all brains give rise to minds?; Do all minds give rise to a self?; How much brain is required to evoke and sustain a mind or self?and How much brain must be changed to change a mind or self? He discusses how both these questions and their potential answers really do matter, as they force us to confront long-held, somewhat dogmatic views about the nature of consciousness, what it means to be, the uniqueness of humans, the ubiquity of pain, and the moral implications and consequences of our regard and actions. Giordano addresses how things neuro can be misinterpreted, misperceived and misused by the public, market and socio-political agendas. In cautioning against such misdirection, he argues for a neuroethics that enables science and society to use current knowledge in ways that prudently inform and guide our treatment of both human and non-human selves. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., is Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA, and is Senior Research Associate of the Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics, and Uehiro Centre for Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford, UK. He is IGERT Professor of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Neuroscience and Neuroethics at Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität, Bonn, Germany, and is Chair of the Capital Consortium on Neuroscience, Ethics, Legal and Social Issues (www.ccnelsi.org). Dr. Giordanos most recent books include Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics (with Bert Gordijn, Cambridge University Press); Pain, Mind, Meaning and Medicine (PPM Press), and Pain Medicine: Philosophy, Ethics, and Policy (with Mark Boswell; Linton Atlantic Books). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journals Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, and Synesis: A Journal of Sceince, Technology, Ethics and Policy; Associate Editor of the international journal Neuroethics, and Series Editor of Advances in Neurotechnology: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, published by CRC Press. The author of over 130 papers on neuroscience, neurotechnology, and neuroethics, Dr. Giordanos ongoing research is focused upon the neuropathology of chronic pain, and the moral, ethical and social issues evoked by the use of novel neurotechnologies in the study and treatment of pain. He and his wife Sherry, a naturalist, writer, and artist, commute between Old Town Alexandria, VA and Oxford, UK. (For further information, please see: www.neurobioethics.org
Views: 10890 NCASVideo
Skeptical Journal Club: How To Read A Medical Study
 
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For best viewing experience, please download the following .pdf files of the studies discussed in Dr. Cmar's talk: http://files.ncas.org/2014-12-02/NCAS-mefloquine-HIV-plos-2014.pdf http://files.ncas.org/2014-12-02/NCAS-homeopathy-PMS-2014.pdf One of the most important aspects of being a healthy skeptic is knowing that just because a scientific study was done on a topic does not mean the study was done well, or that the conclusion the authors reach is supported by what they actually did. But when someone states that a particular study has major flaws or was well-done, what precisely does that mean? In this video, Dr. John Cmar analyzes two different journal articles in detail, focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly of how studies are done and interpreted. John Cmar, MD, has been long enthralled with horrible infections that could spell doom for humankind, as well as sanity and skepticism in the practice of medicine. He is currently an Instructor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Assistant Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He is the lead physician in Sinai's Ryan White initiative, which provides medical care and social assistance to patients with HIV infection who are without medical insurance. In his role as Program Director for the Internal Medicine residency program at Sinai, he teaches an annual course series in Evidence-Based Medicine, among many other duties. He also does Infectious Diseases outreach in Baltimore television and print media, and is the guest-in-residence on the monthly Midday on Health show with Dan Rodricks on 88.1 WYPR radio in Baltimore. John is a science fiction and fantasy fan, avid gamer, and podcast enthusiast. He currently blogs and podcasts on skeptical, medical, and geeky topics as Saint Nickanuck of the Tundra at johncmar.com
Views: 19973 NCASVideo
9: How Statistics Are Misunderstood in the Media and Society
 
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This is part 9 of a 9 part talk given by Dr. Rebecca Goldin at an event sponsored by the National Capital Area Skeptics on January 10, 2009. Dr. Goldin is Director of Research for the Statistical Assessment Service (stats.org), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization affiliated with George Mason University. STATS mission is to improve the quality of scientific and statistical information in public discourse and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on scientific issues and controversies. STATS' work has been featured on NBC Nightly News, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and ABC's 20/20 - and in print by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, US News & World Report, New Scientist, New England Journal of Medicine, and many other publications. The views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. For more information about the National Capital Area Skeptics, and to learn about our upcoming events, visit www.ncas.org. This is a re-upload of this video.
Views: 535 NCASVideo
A Rational Approach to Oral Tradition and Stonehenge (Lynne Kelly)
 
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Presented by Lynne Kelly, Ph.D. Indigenous cultures are usually represented as living in a fog of superstition. A rational glimpse says that they simply wouldn’t have survived if that were the case. We need to be skeptical of simplistic explanations of indigenous cultures that talk only about child-like stories and exotic religious rituals. They needed field guides to all the plants, all the animals, geology and astronomy. They needed navigational charts to travel great distances for trade, and genealogies to ensure they didn’t interbreed. They needed a legal system and ethical rules … but they had no writing. How did they memorize so much stuff? This talk will explain the tricks of their memory trade and how we can use these methods in contemporary society. Mobile hunter-gatherers, such as Australian Indigenous cultures, embedded a highly pragmatic knowledge system in the landscape. What happens in the transition to farming? That question explains the detailed archaeological record of a vast range of prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines and the statues of Easter Island. Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator, as well as being a foundation member of the Australian Skeptics. Her academic work focuses on the way indigenous cultures memorize vast amounts of rational information through the mnemonic devices used by ancient and modern oral cultures from around the world. In applying that research to archaeology, she has proposed a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge and ancient monuments the world over. Her most recent book The Memory Code (Allen & Unwin) has already gone into reprint in Australia and will be published in the USA and UK in February 2017. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 8167 NCASVideo
Skepticism and the Law (P. Andrew Torrez)
 
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Skepticism and the Law: Or, How to Earn Billions With Your Birth Certificate AND Make Bernie Sanders President Using this ONE WEIRD TRICK Presented by P. Andrew Torrez, Law Offices of P. Andrew Torrez Video contains strong language and adult content which may not be suitable for children. Skeptics are well-versed in applying the tools of critical thinking to a variety of claims we see in everyday life, from quack medicine to religion to agriculture. But for some reason, skeptics tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to equally preposterous claims about the law. As the co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, Andrew Torrez shares some of the most preposterous and unbelievable real-life questions that he's gotten from skeptics just like you about the law. Is there really a shadowy cabal of international bankers to whom your entire life has been pledged as collateral from birth? Did a watchdog group really file a petition before the Supreme Court to undo the 2016 Presidential Election? Do criminals frequently escape justice due to technicalities? This talk will equip you with the tools to help separate legal fact from legal fiction -- without having to earn a law degree of your own. After nearly 20 years in big firms, P. Andrew Torrez founded his own law firm in 2015 to serve start-up and small businesses in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In 2016, he started the podcast Opening Arguments to explain legal concepts in the news to non-lawyers; today, the show is one of the most popular news & politics podcasts with nearly 2.5 million downloads to date. Andrew Torrez is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School with honors, is a member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland chapter of the Federal Bar Association, has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and has been repeatedly honored as one of Maryland's top lawyers by Benchmark since 2011. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 1809 NCASVideo
The Secrets of Alchemy: Rethinking the Scientific Revolution (Walter F. Rowe, PhD)
 
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Alchemy is commonly viewed as the quintessential pseudo-science. Historians of science have derided it as mystical science, a pathology of thought and the greatest hindrance to the development of chemistry. Its practitioners have been viewed as cranks and charlatans obsessed with finding the Philosopher’s Stone – that magic “something” that would transmute base metals into gold. However, since the 1970s scholars of the history of science have come to re-assess alchemy. This re-evaluation began with the publication of alchemical writings from the papers of Isaac Newton. Scholarly interest has expanded to take in the alchemical work of Newton’s contemporaries and his immediate predecessors. By the time of Newton and the Scientific Revolution, alchemists had produced an impressive number of laboratory processes and a corpuscular theory of matter. This talk will present an overview of alchemy and its contribution to the Scientific Revolution. Professor Walter F. Rowe is a Professor of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University, where he has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Forensic Sciences for more than 30 years. Professor Rowe has a B.S. in chemistry from Emory University and a Master’s and Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University. He served two years in the U.S. Army crime laboratory system as a forensic drug chemist and a forensic serologist. During his military service Rowe was also a credentialed criminal investigator and participated in processing crime scenes (including the scene of the Fort Bragg murders, for which Dr. Jeffrey McDonald is now serving multiple life prison terms). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a former member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Professor Rowe is also a member of ASTM Committee E30, which sets standards (including educational standards) for a variety of forensic science disciplines. He is also a member of the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners. Professor Rowe is president-elect of the Council of Forensic Science Educators. He has been a consultant forensic scientist to law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices and defense attorneys; Professor Rowe has worked closely with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project.
Views: 5009 NCASVideo
Where Did We All Come From? Tracing Human Migration Using Genetic Markers
 
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Presented by Professor Moses Schanfield. Of all species on the face of the earth, humans are the most disperse, in that they occupy the most diverse eco-systems present on all large land masses and most large islands. In recent time, much work has been done using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA, and non-recombinant Y (NRY) chromosome markers to map human migration and ancestry. In addition, large numbers of other DNA based markers have been used for similar purposes. However, anthropological geneticists have been looking at human migration and ancestry for as long as there have been genetic markers, starting with the ABO blood groups. This talk reviews some of the realities and unrealities of ancestry testing, as done by commercial laboratories such as Ancestry.com, as well as the overall patterns of human migration and conclusions that can be made about modern humans in the last 100,000 years. Professor Schanfield is a world authority on the genetic markers on antibodies, and has applied genetic marker testing, both protein- and DNA-based, to the study of anthropologic and forensic genetics. He was involved in some of the earliest forensic DNA cases, and has been involved in some famous forensic cases including the OJ Simpson case and the JonBenét Ramsey case. Professor Schanfield is a co-editor of the book Forensic DNA Applications: An Interdisciplinary Perspective with Professor Dragan Primorac which will be released in February 2014 by Taylor and Francis. He is currently Professor of Forensic Science and Anthropology at George Washington University. Professor Schanfield has undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota and Harvard University, respectively and a Ph.D in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 250269 NCASVideo
2.Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science
 
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This is part 2 of a 7-part talk. From uttering a prayer before boarding a plane, to exploring past lives through hypnosis, has superstition become pervasive in contemporary culture? Robert Park, the best-selling author of "Voodoo Science", argues that it has. In "Superstition," Park asks why people persist in superstitious convictions long after science has shown them to be ill-founded. He takes on supernatural beliefs from religion and the afterlife to New Age spiritualism and faith-based medical claims. He examines recent controversies and concludes that science is the only way we have of understanding the world. Park sides with the forces of reason in a world of continuing and, he fears, increasing superstition. Chapter by chapter, he explains how people too easily mistake pseudoscience for science. He discusses parapsychology, homeopathy, and acupuncture; he questions the existence of souls, the foundations of intelligent design, and the power of prayer; he asks for evidence of reincarnation and astral projections; and he challenges the idea of heaven. Throughout, he demonstrates how people's blind faith, and their confidence in suspect phenomena and remedies, are manipulated for political ends. Park shows that science prevails when people stop fooling themselves. Compelling and precise, "Superstition" takes no hostages in its quest to provoke. In shedding light on some very sensitive--and Park would say scientifically dubious--issues, the book is sure to spark discussion and controversy. Robert L. Park is professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He is the author of "Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud." Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 1304 NCASVideo
Popular Science Fiction and the Genesis of Paranormal Claims (Thomas Holtz)
 
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Presented at Balticon 2015 by Thomas R. Holtz Jr. PhD. People don't always appreciate the impact that popular science fiction (particular TV shows and movies) has on public consciousness. A great example of this is the folklore of claims of the paranormal. Investigation of classic stories of paranormal encounters reveal how the early versions of these stories begin as recitations of then-recent mass media SF productions, unlike the later refined and retold versions.
Views: 6460 NCASVideo
How Statistics Are Misunderstood in the Media and Society (Full Video Re-Upload)
 
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This is a re-upload of the full video which had previously been uploaded as 9 segments. Presented by Dr. Rebecca Goldin at the National Science Foundation on January 10, 2009. Dr. Goldin is Director of Research for the Statistical Assessment Service (stats.org), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization affiliated with George Mason University. STATS mission is to improve the quality of scientific and statistical information in public discourse and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on scientific issues and controversies. STATS' work has been featured on NBC Nightly News, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and ABC's 20/20 - and in print by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, US News & World Report, New Scientist, New England Journal of Medicine, and many other publications. The views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. For more information about the National Capital Area Skeptics, and to learn about our upcoming events, visit www.ncas.org.
Views: 2124 NCASVideo
Hollow Earth, Sunken Continents & A Universe Made of Plankton?  A Look at "Paranormal" Geology
 
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Full title: "Hollow Earth, Sunken Continents & A Universe Made of Plankton? A Look at 'Paranormal' Geology." Presented by Thomas Holtz as part of the Skeptical Thinking Track at Balticon 50 on May 30, 2016. The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 25204 NCASVideo
1: Autism & Vaccines: How Bad Science Confuses the Press & Harms the Public
 
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This is part 1 of a 5-part talk given by Dr. Steven Salzberg at an event sponsored by the National Capital Area Skeptics on November 8, 2008. In the words of Dr. Salzberg's description of the talk, "Scientists and skeptics need to act to quell the rumors and educate the public, so that vaccines, one of the greatest medical successes in history, remain an effective tool in our fight against disease." The presentation was edited and omits video clips of Larry King and 60 Minutes and references to individual practitioners. The views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. For more information about the National Capital Area Skeptics, and to learn about our upcoming events, visit www.ncas.org. For more info about Dr. Salzberg and this talk, visit http://ncas.org/2008/10/autism-vaccines-how-bad-science.html
Views: 8271 NCASVideo
The Original Nightmare: Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal (Brian Sharpless)
 
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Humans throughout history have described a peculiar state between sleep and wakefulness characterized by paralysis, conscious awareness of one’s surroundings, and terrifying hallucinations. We currently term this phenomenon sleep paralysis, but it has gone by many other names depending upon time, place, and culture (e.g., kanashibari, the "old hag", nocturnal alien abductions, the Mara). Although it is a very scary experience not well-known to the lay public, it is actually a fairly well-understood sleep disorder. After first discussing the history of sleep paralysis in myth/folklore and its many connections to paranormal beliefs, the current medical and psychological literatures are summarized. Finally, the many interesting attempts to "treat" these episodes across the ages are described. Brian A. Sharpless, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) at Argosy University, Washington DC. After completing his graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, he completed his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sharpless has broad research interests in psychopathology, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and the history/philosophy of clinical psychology. He (along with Karl Doghrmaji, MD) is author of Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives and editor of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research. Both volumes are currently available through Oxford University Press. Viewers of this video who wish to purchase either or both of these books may do so at www.oup.com/academic and use promo code ASPROMP8 to save 30%. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do no necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 5952 NCASVideo
Threats to Validity: What You Should Know to Interpret Research Findings
 
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Presented by Fran Featherston, Ph.D. Our lives are full of findings from research results. Not all of the claims they make are valid. Some studies use samples that are not representative. Other studies make claims when they have no comparison group. The question wording or even question order can bias survey results. How do you know when you can trust the research claims? What do you need to look for? This talk will give you tips to judge the research you read. Dr. Featherston looks at examples from the current news and discuss what you need to know to judge whether the research finding can be trusted. She also discusses the threats to validity for each study and whether the research meets the standard of reproducibility. That is, could another researcher possibly reproduce this finding? Fran Featherston is retired from the U.S. federal government where she worked 27 years as a researcher at the National Science Foundation (10 years) and the Governmental Accountability Office (17 years). Her areas of expertise are survey research, research design, and designing methods that are user friendly. She also worked for the State of Washington’s court systems so that she has experienced the challenges of designing high quality research for all three branches of government.
Views: 7400 NCASVideo
Quantum Mechanics & Spooky Action at a Distance
 
01:07:48
This video was previously uploaded in several segments. It now will play as one continuous video. Nothing is different about the content this video from the original upload. Presented by Prof. Allen Stairs, University of Maryland, Philosophy Department, Associate Chair. Einstein and Schrödinger both worried that quantum mechanics posits "spooky action at a distance." This was Einstein's phrase, and it referred to the fact that quantum mechanics seems to allow that what an experimenter does in one location can instantaneously affect things elsewhere. While Einstein and Schrödinger found this worrisome, others (mostly non-scientists) have embraced the idea, seeing it as evidence for some sort of hyper-connected reality. This talk will look at the underlying theoretical and experimental situation. In this talk, Prof. Stairs examines the notion of "quantum entanglement" and ask whether it's as spooky as it's sometimes cracked up to be. Prof. Stair's research centers on issues in the foundations of quantum mechanics. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 9160 NCASVideo
Humans to Mars: How and Why
 
01:34:17
Presented by Douglas Gage, Ph.D. on October 15, 2011. Now that the space shuttle program has ended, what should be the next step for human space flight? There appears to be broad agreement that Mars should be our ultimate goal, but some say that first we should go back to the moon or to an asteroid, and many question whether we should be spending our scarce resources to send humans anywhere beyond Low Earth Orbit any time soon. While the focus of the current debate reflects the "center of gravity" of the NASA budget -- building and launching rockets and spacecraft -- orbital physics dictates that human travelers to Mars will spend more time on the ground there than in space en route, and this ground segment is where the real challenges lie. The Apollo program demonstrated that NASA can design, build, and fly big rockets in a decade or so, but the real challenges lie in developing the technologies, systems, and operational processes that will keep our explorers safe, secure, productive, and happy on the surface of Mars. We need to provide shelter, energy, air, water, food, health care, communications, IT support, ground transportation, and much more. - The initial development of these technologies is much less expensive that designing and building rockets. - The more time we spend preparing to support humans on the surface of Mars, the more successful our mission is likely to be. - Most of the technologies required can be used or adapted for use on Earth. So, regardless of when we decide to actually go to Mars, we should be preparing now to live on Mars. It's not rocket science! Douglas Gage is an independent technology consultant based in Arlington, Virginia. In the early 2000s, he served as a Program Manager at DARPA, managing programs in robotic software. He served as a reviewer for the NASA's Mars Technology Program for several years, and in 2005 he served as External Cochair for NASA's Capabilities Roadmapping Team for Autonomous Systems and Robotics.
Views: 1183 NCASVideo
Question False Truths in Astronomy - Dr. Pamela Gay
 
51:50
Astronomer Pamela Gay discusses the some of the false information we might encounter in popular astronomy information. Presented as part of the Balticon 2012 Skeptics Track.
Views: 27864 NCASVideo
6. Neuroscience -- Brains, Minds, and Selves: What is it like to be a bat, and what does it matter?
 
10:05
This is part 6 of a 7-part talk Presented by James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA. The field of neuroscience has achieved considerable insight to the workings of the brain. While the most essential question how brains produce consciousness and mind remains enigmatic, what is becoming increasingly evident is that even simple brains enable a variety of complex functions including the capacity to think, feel pain and be self-aware. Thus, it appears that if an organism has the neurological wetware that is, a brain of some sort it is likely, if not probable that they will be able to run a program that produces a mind. In this lecture, Dr. James Giordano, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist, argues that the cornerstone question is not if other organisms have a mind, but what kind of mind they have. He discusses whether neuroscience and technology can provide some insight to philosopher Thomas Nagels metaphorical query, what is it like to be a bat? In other words, now that science has privileged a realization that non-human minds can exist, will technology allow us to know what it is like to be another being, and what can we -or perhaps more importantly, should we do with such knowledge? Dr. Giordano discusses key questions and issues that have arisen in, and from modern neuroscience, including: Do all brains give rise to minds?; Do all minds give rise to a self?; How much brain is required to evoke and sustain a mind or self?and How much brain must be changed to change a mind or self? He discusses how both these questions and their potential answers really do matter, as they force us to confront long-held, somewhat dogmatic views about the nature of consciousness, what it means to be, the uniqueness of humans, the ubiquity of pain, and the moral implications and consequences of our regard and actions. Giordano addresses how things neuro can be misinterpreted, misperceived and misused by the public, market and socio-political agendas. In cautioning against such misdirection, he argues for a neuroethics that enables science and society to use current knowledge in ways that prudently inform and guide our treatment of both human and non-human selves. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., is Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA, and is Senior Research Associate of the Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics, and Uehiro Centre for Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford, UK. He is IGERT Professor of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Neuroscience and Neuroethics at Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität, Bonn, Germany, and is Chair of the Capital Consortium on Neuroscience, Ethics, Legal and Social Issues (www.ccnelsi.org). Dr. Giordanos most recent books include Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics (with Bert Gordijn, Cambridge University Press); Pain, Mind, Meaning and Medicine (PPM Press), and Pain Medicine: Philosophy, Ethics, and Policy (with Mark Boswell; Linton Atlantic Books). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journals Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, and Synesis: A Journal of Sceince, Technology, Ethics and Policy; Associate Editor of the international journal Neuroethics, and Series Editor of Advances in Neurotechnology: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, published by CRC Press. The author of over 130 papers on neuroscience, neurotechnology, and neuroethics, Dr. Giordanos ongoing research is focused upon the neuropathology of chronic pain, and the moral, ethical and social issues evoked by the use of novel neurotechnologies in the study and treatment of pain. He and his wife Sherry, a naturalist, writer, and artist, commute between Old Town Alexandria, VA and Oxford, UK. (For further information, please see: www.neurobioethics.org
Views: 1075 NCASVideo
John Mather: Big Bang, Webb Space Telescope & Alien Life
 
01:07:58
This video was previously uploaded in several segments. It now will play as one continuous video. Nothing is different about the content this video from the original upload. The history of the universe in a nutshell, from the Big Bang to now, and on to the future -- John Mather will tell the story of how we got here, how the Universe began with a Big Bang, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings can live, and how those beings are discovering their history. He will explain Einstein's biggest mistake, show how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe, how the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission was built, and how its data support the Big Bang theory. He will also show NASA's plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope. It will look even farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will peer inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today. Using the stellar transit technique, the JWST is capable of examining Earth-like exoplanets, where follow-on missions may find signs of life. Currently planned for launch in 2014, the JWST may lead to another Nobel Prize for some lucky observer. Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. As a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mather led the proposal efforts for COBE (1974-76), and came to GSFC to be Study Scientist (1976-88), Project Scientist (1988-98), and also the Principal Investigator for COBE's Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS). Presently he is Senior Project Scientist for the JWST. Mather earned his B.A. in Physics from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006, Mather shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with George F. Smoot of the University of California, Berkeley for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 4076 NCASVideo
Forensic Follies: The Dark Side of CSI (Walter Rowe, PhD)
 
01:17:11
Presented December 12, 2015. Forensic science enjoys an excellent reputation on television. TV shows such as "Forensic Files," "CSI" and "Bones" laud the science and the scientists. However, in the real world forensic science is facing an existential crisis. Cases continue to come to light in which convictions were obtained by pseudo-science, by faked science or by science incorrectly applied. The victims of these miscarriages of justice have often languished in prison for decades. In one case an innocent man was executed because a fire investigator erroneously concluded an accidental fire was the result of arson. This presentation will explore examples of bad forensic science in order to identify the causes of these miscarriages of justice. It will also examine current efforts at the federal level to improve forensic science. Professor Walter F. Rowe is currently full professor in the Department of Forensic Sciences at The George Washington University. He has been a member of the faculty of this department since 1975. Prof. Rowe received his bachelors of science degree in chemistry from Emory University and his masters and doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University. He received his forensic training in the US Army where he served in the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (then located at Ft. Gordon, Georgia) and in the US Army Europe Crime Laboratory in Frankfurt-am-Main. Prof. Rowe was a forensic drug chemist and a forensic serologist. He also graduated with honors from the US Army Military Police School’s criminal investigator course and was a credentialed Army CID agent. Prof. Rowe is a Fellow of the Criminalistics Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a member of ASTM subcommittee 30.01. He is the president of the Council of Forensic Science Educators. Dr. Rowe participated in the recent OSAC meeting as a guest of the trace subcommittee. He has published extensively in the "Journal of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Science International." Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 4590 NCASVideo
Public Perception of Science: Lessons from a Dead Sheep (Adam Ruben)
 
44:43
Recorded at Balticon, May 23, 2015. In 1997, the public learned that a sheep named Dolly had been cloned, and as it is wont to do, the public went nuts. In this humorous and informative talk, Dr. Adam Ruben, from the Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science, discusses the fervor that accompanied Dolly's arrival - and how unashamed people are to form opinions about scientific advances that they don't understand.
Views: 1163 NCASVideo
Predictive Neuroscience: Facts, Fictions, and Fears of Scanning Brains and Reading Minds
 
01:32:47
Presented by James Giordano, PhD. In this lecture, neuroscientist and neuroethicist Professor James Giordano PhD, addressed the provocative current - and near future - capacities and limitations of neuroscience, and argues for analyses and guidelines to establish how to engage brain research in ways that are scientifically and technically rigorous, and ethically and legally sound. Neuroscience is increasingly viewed as having potential to identify predispositions to types of cognition, emotion and behavior. Could it be employed to allow preemptive interventions to deter the commission of crimes? For sure, this has overtones of the science fictional film Minority Report. But as distasteful as this seems at face value, the recent shootings in Connecticut, Oslo, Phoenix, and Columbine, and instances of international terrorism have prompted calls to use neuroscience to "do something" to ensure that such events do not happen again. A crucial question is, how to maximize the benefit of the tools we possess, while not over-stepping the boundaries of science or corrupting ethico-legal probity? Just because we may not currently have the neuroscientific capabilities to predict thoughts or behaviors doesn't mean we're not on a path toward doing so - or at least trying. Therefore, it's important to understand exactly "where we really are" and estimate the validity and value of both our current position and the destinations we seek. We must be aware of agendas to employ neuroscience in a variety of ways, and must be prepared to confront these realities. James Giordano, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist, is Professor of Integrative Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry, and Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program in the Center for Clinical Bioethics, at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA, and CL Clark Fellow in Neurosciences and Ethics on the faculty of the Human Science Center of Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany. (Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.)
Views: 2933 NCASVideo
1. Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science
 
09:07
This is part 1 of a 7-part talk. From uttering a prayer before boarding a plane, to exploring past lives through hypnosis, has superstition become pervasive in contemporary culture? Robert Park, the best-selling author of "Voodoo Science", argues that it has. In "Superstition," Park asks why people persist in superstitious convictions long after science has shown them to be ill-founded. He takes on supernatural beliefs from religion and the afterlife to New Age spiritualism and faith-based medical claims. He examines recent controversies and concludes that science is the only way we have of understanding the world. Park sides with the forces of reason in a world of continuing and, he fears, increasing superstition. Chapter by chapter, he explains how people too easily mistake pseudoscience for science. He discusses parapsychology, homeopathy, and acupuncture; he questions the existence of souls, the foundations of intelligent design, and the power of prayer; he asks for evidence of reincarnation and astral projections; and he challenges the idea of heaven. Throughout, he demonstrates how people's blind faith, and their confidence in suspect phenomena and remedies, are manipulated for political ends. Park shows that science prevails when people stop fooling themselves. Compelling and precise, "Superstition" takes no hostages in its quest to provoke. In shedding light on some very sensitive--and Park would say scientifically dubious--issues, the book is sure to spark discussion and controversy. Robert L. Park is professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He is the author of "Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud." Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 4431 NCASVideo
Champions of Illusion (Stephen Macknik)
 
01:06:16
Champions of Illusion: The Science Behind Mind-Boggling Images and Mystifying Brain Puzzles" - presented by co-author Stephen Macknik. For the best viewing experience, set to full screen and HD. Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik have studied the neuroscience of sensory and cognitive illusions in their laboratories for almost two decades, and promoted those illusions to general audiences as an exciting and spectacular tool to confront our wider misperceptions and sharpen our critical thinking skills in our so-called ‘post-truth’ era. In "Champions of Illusion," Profs. Martinez-Conde and Macknik present a smorgasbord of mystifying images, many selected from their Best Illusion of the Year Contest. If you have ever found yourself face-to-face with an utterly bewildering illusion, you know the powerful effect such images have on the mind. The question we often ask ourselves is, How is that possible? Stephen Macknik, who studies the intersection of neuroscience, illusions, and stage magic, explains just why we think we see the things we see. The Best Illusion of the Year Contest draws entries from vision scientists, artists, magicians, and mathematicians. "Champions of Illusion" features the contest’s most bizarre effects and unbelievable mind tricks, along with classic illusions and illuminating descriptions of what is actually going on in your brain when you are deceived by visuals on the page. "Champions of Illusion" is an electrifying mix of science and magic that you will not soon forget. Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are award-winning neuroscientists and professors at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. They are the authors of the international bestseller Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions, and have written for publications such as Scientific American, The New York Times, The Sunday Times (London), and How It Works. Their Scientific American contributions include three special editions of Scientific American: Mind dedicated to their work. Their research has been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, NPR, PBS's NOVA, and more. They produce the Best Illusion of the Year Contest. They live in Brooklyn. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 3251 NCASVideo
1. The Art of Science: Scientific Methods vs Pseudoscience (Marvin Zelkowitz)
 
09:31
This is part 1 of a 6-part talk. Everyone has been exposed to the scientific method in grade school: Develop an hypothesis; Develop an experiment to test that hypothesis; Collect relevant data; Evaluate the data; Modify the hypothesis to account for differences in the observed and predicted results; and Repeat the process to improve your theory. However, is this the way science works in practice? Do working scientists follow this method? Using computer science as a sample domain, the answer is "Sometimes." Looking at science in general, the differences between good and bad science and what levels of validation various experimental methods produce is discussed. Understanding when scientists do science and when they are venturing into the realm of pseudoscience is the focus of this talk. Marvin Zelkowitz is a Professor Emeritus and Research Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland. He has been studying software development issues and technology transfer for the past 40 years. He is also on the Board of Directors of NCAS and is currently the Treasurer. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 1269 NCASVideo
UFOs, the Air Force, and the Colorado Study (Ret. USAF Col. David Shea)
 
58:41
The US Air Force investigated UFO reports for more than two decades (1947-1969). By the time the final investigations project (called “Blue Book”) ended, over 12,000 reports had been investigated, and 701 remained unidentified. During the final years of Project Blue Book, the University of Colorado was contracted by the USAF to conduct a scientific study of UFOs “in more detail and depth than [had] been possible to date.” USAF Captain David J. Shea was the Pentagon press spokesman for Project Blue Book from 1967 to its termination in December 1969. Now a retired Colonel, he provides a first-hand account of the USAF's work with the University of Colorado and physicist Edward U. Condon, the director of the study. Note: the "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects," also known as the "Condon Report," can be read at http://files.ncas.org/condon/index.html The views expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. About the speaker: David J. Shea received a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Fordham University. He was designated a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program there and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the regular Air Force. He earned his master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Denver and wrote his thesis on “The UFO Phenomenon: A Study in Public Relations,” based in part on his interview of Dr. Condon. Shea concluded his military career as the director of Defense Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the Pentagon, in October 1988. He joined Hughes Aircraft Company in its Washington DC office, which merged with Raytheon Company in December 1997 where he was the director of media relations. Shea is a co-author of "Media Isn’t A Four Letter Word," a guidebook providing tips and techniques for executives on how to deal with the press. Originally published in 1994, the book is now in its fifth edition.
Views: 3873 NCASVideo
1 - Darwin at 200, Human Nature at a Few Million, and A Myth Dispelled
 
08:04
This is part 1 of an 8-part talk given by Dr. Dennis McBride at an event sponsored by the National Capital Area Skeptics on February 14, 2009. This talk first reviews some of the least known but important elements of Charles Darwins portfolio as he published Origins in 1859, and Descent of Man in 1871. (For example, Darwin was, fortunately for us, very prone to sea sickness.) Focusing on the evolution of humanity and on natural selections counterpart, sexual selection, Darwins 1871 book re-fueled a firestorm, one that still burns today. Poll numbers show that a significant proportion of todays population does not accept Darwinism as applied to humans. Darwin foresaw and actually embraced this resistance. More importantly, a significant proportion of adults, including academics, accept human evolution but eschew the idea of a DNA-supported (i.e., not genetically determined) human nature. At least three evolved characteristics of human evolution make the species very different from its closest relatives: the opposable thumb, bipedalism, and the encephalized brain (which increased in size by a factor of 3 over the past few million years). Dr. McBride will touch on interesting examples of evolved human nature, including pregnancy sickness and male preference for mates with certain waist/hip ratios. With these, we will examine the way in which the realities of bipedalism and encephalization explain birth-related injury, and how this consideration undermines one of the most troublesome socio-legal myths of our time: the myth of shaken baby syndrome. Dennis K. McBride, Ph.D. is Academic President of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington area think tank dedicated to the provision of science and technology policy expertise to the administration, congress, and the judiciary. Members of the Institute remain actively engaged in the scientific disciplines for which they provide expertise. McBride is an evolutionary psychologist with an extensive background in the science of human evolution. His most recent book, Quantifying Human Information Processing (Rowman & Littlefield) is followed by a soon to be released, co-authored treatment of Best Available Science. As an active adjunct faculty member at Georgetown Universitys medical school and Public Policy Institute, he has also held appointments as professor in colleges of engineering and arts and sciences. The views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. For more information about the National Capital Area Skeptics, and to learn about our upcoming events, visit www.ncas.org.
Views: 804 NCASVideo
You Mean They’re Not True? Busting Media Myths (W. Joseph Campbell)
 
01:04:33
Communications professor, author, and blogger W. Joseph Campbell debunks prominent media-driven myths — those well-known stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold but which, under scrutiny, dissolve as apocryphal or wildly exaggerated. These myths include the role of Woodward and Bernstein in the downfall of Richard Nixon, the photo of “Napalm girl” from the Vietnam War and the panic surrounding the 1938 broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” some of which are addressed in Campbell's book, "Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism" (University of California Press, 2010). W. Joseph Campbell is a tenured full professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC. He joined the University’s faculty in 1997 after more than 20 years as a newspaper and wire service journalist. Dr. Campbell is the author of several books. His most recent works include: "Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism" (2010) and "1995: The Year the Future Began" (2015). "Getting It Wrong" won the Society of Professional Journalists’ national Sigma Delta Chi Award for “Research about Journalism.” Dr. Campbell is a past winner of the American University student government’s “faculty member of the year” award. Dr. Campbell has taught 17 different courses at American University, including “Myths of the Media” and “Decisive Moments in Communication.” The views expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 7250 NCASVideo
5. Neuroscience -- Brains, Minds, and Selves: What is it like to be a bat, and what does it matter?
 
09:44
This is part 5 of a 7-part talk Presented by James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA. The field of neuroscience has achieved considerable insight to the workings of the brain. While the most essential question how brains produce consciousness and mind remains enigmatic, what is becoming increasingly evident is that even simple brains enable a variety of complex functions including the capacity to think, feel pain and be self-aware. Thus, it appears that if an organism has the neurological wetware that is, a brain of some sort it is likely, if not probable that they will be able to run a program that produces a mind. In this lecture, Dr. James Giordano, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist, argues that the cornerstone question is not if other organisms have a mind, but what kind of mind they have. He discusses whether neuroscience and technology can provide some insight to philosopher Thomas Nagels metaphorical query, what is it like to be a bat? In other words, now that science has privileged a realization that non-human minds can exist, will technology allow us to know what it is like to be another being, and what can we -or perhaps more importantly, should we do with such knowledge? Dr. Giordano discusses key questions and issues that have arisen in, and from modern neuroscience, including: Do all brains give rise to minds?; Do all minds give rise to a self?; How much brain is required to evoke and sustain a mind or self?and How much brain must be changed to change a mind or self? He discusses how both these questions and their potential answers really do matter, as they force us to confront long-held, somewhat dogmatic views about the nature of consciousness, what it means to be, the uniqueness of humans, the ubiquity of pain, and the moral implications and consequences of our regard and actions. Giordano addresses how things neuro can be misinterpreted, misperceived and misused by the public, market and socio-political agendas. In cautioning against such misdirection, he argues for a neuroethics that enables science and society to use current knowledge in ways that prudently inform and guide our treatment of both human and non-human selves. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics James Giordano Ph.D, M.Phil., is Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies, and Chair of Academic Programs at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA, and is Senior Research Associate of the Wellcome Centre for Neuroethics, and Uehiro Centre for Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford, UK. He is IGERT Professor of Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Neuroscience and Neuroethics at Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität, Bonn, Germany, and is Chair of the Capital Consortium on Neuroscience, Ethics, Legal and Social Issues (www.ccnelsi.org). Dr. Giordanos most recent books include Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics (with Bert Gordijn, Cambridge University Press); Pain, Mind, Meaning and Medicine (PPM Press), and Pain Medicine: Philosophy, Ethics, and Policy (with Mark Boswell; Linton Atlantic Books). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journals Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, and Synesis: A Journal of Sceince, Technology, Ethics and Policy; Associate Editor of the international journal Neuroethics, and Series Editor of Advances in Neurotechnology: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, published by CRC Press. The author of over 130 papers on neuroscience, neurotechnology, and neuroethics, Dr. Giordanos ongoing research is focused upon the neuropathology of chronic pain, and the moral, ethical and social issues evoked by the use of novel neurotechnologies in the study and treatment of pain. He and his wife Sherry, a naturalist, writer, and artist, commute between Old Town Alexandria, VA and Oxford, UK. (For further information, please see: www.neurobioethics.org
Views: 1156 NCASVideo
Understanding Eyewitness Evidence in Criminal Cases: A Sensitive Skeptic’s Guide
 
01:15:04
Presented by Martin A. Safer, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, The Catholic University of America Inaccurate eyewitness testimony and false confessions are two of the most common reasons for wrongful convictions in criminal cases. Using an actual case, Dr. Safer illustrates why eyewitnesses may be inaccurate. However, it is wrong to presume that all eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Dr. Safer presents research on how to improve the quality of eyewitness evidence. Legal professionals around the world, as well as ordinary citizens, are relatively unaware of both the flaws and potential strengths of eyewitness evidence. Dr. Safer describes the Interview-Identification-Eyewitness Factors (I-I-Eye) educational aid which helps sensitize individuals to judge more appropriately what is likely to be accurate versus inaccurate eyewitness evidence. Professor Safer is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the Catholic University of America, where he taught for more than 35 years. He has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications, primarily in the areas of emotions and memory, including publications on eyewitness evidence and confession evidence. He has also served as an expert consultant on eyewitness evidence in criminal cases. Views presented in this video are those of the apeaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 1950 NCASVideo
Confirmation Bias and Other Ways to Be Wrong (Andrew E. Love)
 
25:50
Presented at Balticon May 26, 2018
Views: 1848 NCASVideo
The World of Weird News: Bigfoot, UFOs and Other Questionable Claims (Sharon Hill)
 
01:05:39
Weird news is its own niche on the web and in print. The more sensational the story, the more eyeballs it gets. Topics include Bigfoot and UFO sightings, hauntings, exorcism, witchcraft, mysteries, miracles, psychic predictions and conspiracies. We are barraged with claims that are seriously questionable. While entertaining, many people actually believe this stuff. This is a fun tour through weird and wonderful news stories and an examination of how we think about doubtful news and the impact it has on society. The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the view so f the National Capital Area Skeptics. Sharon Hill is a writer, researcher, and consultant specializing in Science and Society issues. As creator and editor of the unique news and commentary site, DoubtfulNews.com, she advocates for a genuine skeptical take on alternative medicine, the paranormal, anomalous natural phenomena, cryptozoology and other weird news as well as promoting a rational, scientific outlook on these topics. With the help of other prominent skeptics, she spearheaded the "Media Guide to Skepticism" to explain the core of the philosophy and method of skepticism. Her current focus is on the "sham inquiry" of amateur paranormal investigators and their use of scientific language and activities to appear credible to the public. She is a licensed geologist in Pennsylvania and has 20 years experience in environmental regulations and policy. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 11233 NCASVideo
Debunking the Nanobot (Quinn Spadola, PhD)
 
01:14:52
Links mentioned in this talk have been added to the presentation and are listed below: Self-replicating, sentient, consuming, or creating, nanobots are a popular tool in science fiction to explain fantastical abilities or threats worse than death. But what is the reality? What is a nanobot? What might they be able to do? Scientists and engineers can’t even agree on a definition for a nanobot–does the entire robot need to fit at the nanoscale or does it just have nanoscale components? Does that make your smart phone a nanobot? Artistic renditions of nanobots feed into ideas of spidery machines patrolling (or, perhaps, controlling) our bodies. Some scientists envision nanobots safeguarding our environment, removing pollutants, and monitoring exposure. Others are trying to harness nature’s nanobots and use viruses to do our bidding. The hype around nanobots and the natural inclination to assign them agency can lead to outlandish ideas about what nanotechnology will be capable of delivering, but does it hurt to dream of manufactured nanobots? Quinn Spadola is a biophysicist who discovered her love of science education and outreach while completing her PhD. After receiving her doctorate, Dr. Spadola entered the Science and Natural History Filmmaking program at Montana State University. She was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office from 2014 to 2016 and joined the contract staff in September 2016. There she works to build community around the National Nanotechnology Initiative, create engaging nanotechnology-themed content, and share the awesomeness of nanotechnology. Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics. Links mentioned in this talk: Do You Know What Nano Means? By E*D Films https://vimeo.com/29511081 http://www.complex.com/art-design/2012/07/ucla-researchers-develop-window-glass-that-collects-solar-energy Invisibility - http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=41348.php Hierarchical design of architectected materials - http://www.jrgreer.caltech.edu/research.php lowest density structure ever made – maybe Artificial muscle - http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/artificial-muscle-can-heal-itself Rice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCKyMn-2edo Nanosponges soak up oil again and again http://phys.org/news/2012-04-nanosponges-oil.html Chlorination-less, Abelardo Colon and Jennifer Gill, University of Puerto Rico CNN: Will Nanotechnology Allow You to "Swallow the Doctor?" http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/29/tech/mci-nanobots-eth/index.html Universal flu vaccine - https://www.wired.com/2015/08/scientists-get-one-step-closer-universal-flu-vaccine/ http://ideastations.org/science-matters/hot-shots/hot-jobs/hot-jobs-biomechanical-engineering-nano-tattoo http://openwetware.org/wiki/Biomod/2014/Braunschweig phys.org/news/2016-10-nano-decoy-lures-human-influenza-virus.html www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Respirocytes.html www.nanotech-now.com/utility-fog.htm
Views: 5327 NCASVideo
2012 Philip J. Klass Award Presented to Penn & Teller
 
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In 2012, NCAS gave its annual Philip J. Klass award to magicians and skeptics Penn & Teller. Penn & Teller were not able to come to the Washington, D.C. area to accept the award, so a recording of the presentation and acceptance was made backstage at Harrah's in Atlantic City where they were performing. The presentation was made by NCAS board member Chip Denman. This video is preceded by a short segment highlighting the past Klass Award winners.
Views: 793 NCASVideo
4. The Art of Science: Scientific Methods vs Pseudoscience (Marvin Zelkowitz)
 
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This is part 4 of a 6-part talk Everyone has been exposed to the scientific method in grade school: Develop an hypothesis; Develop an experiment to test that hypothesis; Collect relevant data; Evaluate the data; Modify the hypothesis to account for differences in the observed and predicted results; and Repeat the process to improve your theory. However, is this the way science works in practice? Do working scientists follow this method? Using computer science as a sample domain, the answer is "Sometimes." Looking at science in general, the differences between good and bad science and what levels of validation various experimental methods produce is discussed. Understanding when scientists do science and when they are venturing into the realm of pseudoscience is the focus of this talk. Marvin Zelkowitz is a Professor Emeritus and Research Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland. He has been studying software development issues and technology transfer for the past 40 years. He is also on the Board of Directors of NCAS and is currently the Treasurer. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 314 NCASVideo
The Skeptical Life of Martin Gardner (Dana Richards, Ph.D.)
 
01:09:25
Martin Gardner is well-known as the progenitor of the modern skeptical movement. How did he come to be the skeptic we know today? In this talk, original letters, interviews and early writings are discussed. Dana Richards received his PhD in Computer Science from the Univ. of Illinois and has taught at the Univ. of Virginia and George Mason Univ. He is Martin Gardner’s official bibliographer and is working on a biography. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 744 NCASVideo
Shield Maidens: Are They Real  (Eve Siebert, PhD) Balticon 2016
 
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The History Channel's popular series Vikings features several female warriors, most notably the shield maiden Lagertha. Every few years, articles appear that claim that female Viking warriors actually existed but are often ignored by historians and archaeologists. Certainly shield maidens and valkyries appear in some medieval Scandinavian literature, but do these stories reflect the reality of the Viking Age or are they the product of Viking-Age male fantasies? Presented as part of the Balticon 2016 Skeptical Thinking Track. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Views: 3242 NCASVideo
It Came From the Genetics Lab: DNA, the Monster That Ate Forensic Science
 
01:21:40
Presented by Walter F. Rowe, PhD., Professor, Department of Forensic Sciences The George Washington University A PDF of the slides in this presentation can be downloaded at http://www.ncas.org/It-Came-From-the-Genetics-Lab.pdf (right-click to save). In the 1980s all was serene in the field of forensic science. Fingerprinting and dental records were the accepted methods of personal identification. Forensic serologists could identify a number of genetic markers in dried blood and body fluids. The identification sciences (questioned documents, firearm and tool mark identification, shoe and tire track identification) were readily accepted by courts. Few scientists envisioned that it would be possible to isolate human DNA from dried stains that were months or years old. However, within less than a quarter of a century forensic DNA profiling had become the gold standard against which all other forensic disciplines are measured (and not always to their benefit). This talk will examine the current state of forensic DNA profiling and ongoing research in this area. It will also explore the profound impact of DNA profiling on the criminal justice system, crime scene processing, the criminal investigative process and other branches of forensic science. The talk will also address some myths about DNA profiling and the personal information that it supposedly discloses. (Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.)
Views: 1803 NCASVideo
The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (Jesse Walker)
 
01:01:00
Conspiracy theories aren't just a feature of the fringe. They've been a potent force across the political spectrum, at the center as well as the extremes, from the colonial era to the present. In The United States of Paranoia, Jesse Walker explores this rich history, arguing that conspiracy stories should be read not just as claims to be believed or debunked but as folklore. When a tale takes hold, it reveals something true about the anxieties and experiences of those who embrace it, even if the story says nothing true about the objects of the theory itself. In his talk, Walker will lay out five conspiracy narratives that keep recurring in American politics and popular culture. Jesse Walker is an editor at Reason magazine and the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and many other venues. He lives in Towson with his wife and two daughters. Jesse's book "The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory" is available at amazon.com. View expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of NCAS.
Views: 6590 NCASVideo
1. U.S. Science Education and Global Competitiveness Part 1 of 2
 
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Presented by Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D. Director of the NIH Office of Science Education In December of last year the results of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released and, once again, U.S. students performed poorly in science and math compared to students from many other countries. We are going to look at some of the international student data and talk about what we can, and cannot, conclude from these types of studies. Some of the common questions addressed will be ... * Are these results "real"? * Aren't we comparing "all" our kids to a tiny elite in the nations that outperform us? * There can't be anything to really worry about, right? * After all, if we are so dumb then why are we so rich? Oops! Dr. Fuchs is responsible for monitoring a range of science education policy issues and providing advice to NIH leadership. He also directs the creation of a series of K-12 science education curriculum supplements that highlight the medical research findings of the NIH. The NIH Curriculum Supplement Series is designed to meet teacher's educational goals as outlined in the National Science Education Standards and is available free to teachers across the nation. Teachers have requested the seventeen titles currently in the series more than 380,000 times. The office also actively creates innovative science and career education Web resources, such as the LifeWorks career exploration site, accessible to teachers and students across the nation. These resources are available at http://science.education.nih.gov
Views: 632 NCASVideo
07  THE TRUTH ABOUT PSYCHIC DETECTIVES
 
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This is part 7 of an 11-part talk given by Benjamin Radford at an event sponsored by the National Capital Area Skeptics on April 14, 2009. Psychic detectives seem to be everywhere on TV. Many of them claim to find missing persons, and solve cases for police and the FBI. But how good is the evidence for their claims? Drawing on a decade of personal investigations and case studies, Benjamin Radford will reveal a side of psychic detectives that you won't see on Medium or Larry King Live. This segment contains discussion about an episode of Psychic Investigators entitled Vision of Murder. For copyright reasons, we cannot include clips from the show. Benjamin Radford is the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine.
Views: 1024 NCASVideo