with Michael Shermer
Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 2 pm
WE ARE LIVING in the most moral period of our species’ history. Ever since the Enlightenment, thinkers have consciously applied the methods of science to solve social and moral problems, and in the process created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights, equal justice, open political and economic borders, and prosperity the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed. More people in more places have greater rights, freedoms, liberties, literacy, education, and prosperity—the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed. In this provocative and compelling talk—that includes brief histories of freedom rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, along with considerations of the nature of evil and moral regress—Shermer explains how scientific ways of thinking have moved us ever closer to a more just world.
A book signing will follow the lecture. We will have copies of the book, The Moral Arc: How Science Leads Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, available for purchase. Can’t attend the lecture? Order The Moral Arc online.
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience like the examples that we list in this free PDF booklet? If so, you know how compelling they can be. A life can be changed or an entire religion founded on the basis of a single brain-generated hallucination. These phenomena are so powerful that throughout history seekers of knowledge have sought to induce them. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be more than a waste of time and energy. It can be dangerous for both the individual and larger society…
Skepticality — the pioneering original skeptics podcast — is a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to skeptical topics and interviews.
MonsterTalk critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.
The Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource Center is a comprehensive, free repository of resources for teaching students how to think skeptically. This Center contains an ever-growing selection of books, reading lists, course syllabi, in-class exercises, PowerPoint presentations, student projects, papers, and videos that you may download and use in your own classes.
We’re pleased to present Daniel Loxton’s challenging and provocative new project, “Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?”. Almost two years in the writing, these two meticulously-researched chapter-length explorations dig deeply into the roots, founding principles, and purpose of scientific skepticism. Arguing that it is essential for skeptics to “appreciate that we’re caretakers for the work of those who have come before,” Loxton carries forward the discussion about the scope and limits of scientific skepticism.
January 17–19, 2015
JOIN US FOR A WONDERFUL THREE-DAY TOUR of the highlights of the central California coast. We will take the Grand Rooms Tour of Hearst Castle, a tour of La Purisima Mission, see hundreds of elephant seals at a rookery on the beach including huge bulls weighing up to 2½ tons, massive clusters of monarch butterflies sheltering in the eucalyptus trees, and sea otters in Morro Bay. We will visit the San Andreas fault zone at the iconic Wallace Creek site on the Carrizo Plain (weather permitting), the oil fields of the southwestern San Joaquin Valley (including the outstanding West Kern Oil Museum), and tour the spectacular geology of the Coast Ranges. Each night we will stay at the Best Western Shorecliffs Hotel in Pismo Beach, where you can walk down to the beach or stroll through this quaint resort town.
Interested in participating on future Scientific Exploration Geology and Science Tours? Enter your email address here to get priority notification of future events (we will not share your address with any other parties).
Donald R. Prothero addresses climate change denialism head on, demolishing deniers’ arguments and rebuttals, and clearly demonstrating how we know global warming is real and human caused.
Imagine if someone were to ask you, “What shape is the Earth?” It’s likely you’d answer “round,” or describe our world as a ball (or globe or sphere) in space. I would too! But what if you met someone who insisted that the Earth is nothing like a ball, but instead is as flat as a pancake? How could they possibly defend such a peculiar notion? And are there really people who believe this?
Since 1992, the Skeptics Society has sponsored the Distinguished Science Lecture Series, hosting 350 of the biggest names in science. This series of lectures has covered the most cutting edge discoveries and controversial topics in all of science, and enabled students, educators, and the general public to hear what’s new in science and skepticism. You can watch some of our most popular science lectures online, on demand, around the world, at prices we think you’ll really like!
Despite the best efforts of skeptics and teachers to advance scientific thinking, paranormal beliefs and pseudoscientific thinking continue to be commonplace. It is a common popular stereotype that knowledge of science and belief in the paranormal are like opposite ends of a teeter totter: with one tending to rise as the other falls. However, the landscape of belief is considerably more complicated than that. Science education may not be enough when we lack the ability to critically evaluate the evidence for claims. In this article from Skeptic 9.3 we examine the relationship between science knowledge and paranormal beliefs.
In this week’s eSkeptic, Gary Whittenberger examines Miklos Jako’s “Soft Theism" God postulated in Jako’s article “In Defense of Soft Theism,” which appeared in Skeptic Magazine 19.2 (2014). Whittenberger argues that, when considering the origins of existence, we don’t need to step outside the boundaries of science.
ABOVE: A screenshot from January 12, 2015 of the Charlie Hebdo website. The Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) slogan has quickly became an endorsement of freedom of speech and press, with the hashtag #jesuischarlie having reached about 5 million tweets since last week’s shooting, when two gunmen opened fire in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve.
Some might characterize the faith-inspired murder of satirical cartoonists as shocking. But the prospect of violent reprisal for religious criticism was hardly inconceivable to the now-deceased artists of Charlie Hebdo. In this week’s eSkeptic, Kenneth Krause describes potential relationships between religion and violence, and questions whether these murders would seem possible in the absence of religious devotion to an allegedly all-powerful god.
INSIGHT at Skeptic.com brings together a variety of accomplished voices for a broad-ranging but focussed discussion of science and skepticism. INSIGHT will shed light, offer critical perspective, and serve as a broadly accessible, evidence-based resource on mysteries of science, paranormal claims, and the wild, woolly, wonderful weirdness of the fringe.
Daniel Loxton reviews a colorful nonfiction dinosaur book for children.
Daniel Loxton shares the Skeptics Society's congratulations to past Skeptic magazine cover story author David Morrison, named this month as the recipient of the 2015 Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society.
Donald Prothero observes the 10-year anniversary of a deadly landslide in a coastal California town, and warns that such geologic catastrophes are sure to be repeated in the future.
Daniel Loxton shares some very old skeptical discussions of some very modern psychological concepts.
Donald Prothero commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, reflecting upon its horrifying power and resulting loss of life.
Skeptic Presents is a series of videos that promote science and critical thinking through the use of humor, wit, and satire. With your support, we hope to produce these instructional, educational, and entertaining videos regularly throughout the year for free viewing for everyone, everywhere, to spread the message of the power of science and skepticism to make the world a saner, safer place.
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Vaccines are one of science’s greatest achievements. Yet, fears and anxieties about immunization persist. In this article, Christian Orlic reviews Mark A. Largent’s new book Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America (2012, John Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-1421406077).
What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one? For the answers, download this free booklet, created by Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, the founders of Skeptic magazine and your Skeptics Society.
What remarkable discoveries are being made in cosmology! Cosmologists now develop credible theories about the beginning and end of our universe and theory-based speculations about vast numbers of multiple universes. But does the cosmos have a reason? Could revolutionary ideas support some kind of 'universal reason'? The bar is set high, and it is OK to say no. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.
Evil is a high hurdle for theists. Given the savagery of moral evil (what humans do to humans) and the horrors of natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis, disease), how could an all-powerful and all-good God exist? Philosophers offer defenses (evil and God do not contradict) and theodicies (reasons why God allows evil). The problem is the sheer amount of evil. Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviews Michael Shermer, for CloserToTruth.com.
eSkeptic is our free email newsletter, delivered once a week. In it, you’ll receive: fascinating articles, announcements, podcasts, book reviews, and more…
Here are the articles that people have been sharing over the last few days.
Carbon Comic, which appears in Skeptic magazine, is created by Kyle Sanders: a pilot and founder of Little Rock, Arkansas’ Skeptics in The Pub. He is also a cartoonist who authors Carbon Dating: a skeptical comic strip about science, pseudoscience, and relationships. It can be found at carboncomic.com.
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What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…
If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!
Topics include: chiropractic, the placebo effect, homeopathy, acupuncture, and the questionable benefits of organic food, detoxification, and ‘natural’ remedies.
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.