Announcing the Spring 2013 Season
of Our Distinguished Lectures at Caltech
MARK YOUR CALENDAR! The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce another season of our Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. All lectures will take place in Baxter Lecture Hall on a Sunday at 2 pm. Events include an author book signing. First up…
Louder Than Words:
The New Science of How
the Mind Makes Meaning
with Dr. Benjamin K. Bergen
Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 2 pm
IN THIS LECTURE, based on his book, U.C. San Diego cognitive psychologist Benjamin K. Bergen draws together research in psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to offer a new theory of how our minds make meaning. When we hear words and sentences, we engage the parts of our brain that we use for perception and action—repurposing evolutionarily older networks—to create mental simulations. Embodied simulation, as it’s called, is the reason why it takes time to travel over distance, even in our mind’s eye; why it’s possible for us to become better baseball players by imagining a well-executed swing; and why it’s so hard to talk on cell phones while we’re driving on the highway. Rather than merely calling up abstract ideas to understand language, as others previously argued, our brains engage in a creative act to construct rich mental worlds in which we see, hear, and feel.
- To Boldly Go…Well, You Know:
NASA’s Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt
with Dr. Marc Rayman
Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 2 pm
- Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success
with Dr. Adam Grant
Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 2 pm
- Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes
in the Animal Kingdom
with Dr. Daphne J. Fairbairn
Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 2 pm
New Admission Policy and Prices
Please note there are important policy and pricing changes for this season of lectures at Caltech. Please review these changes now.
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Why Is There A Skeptical Movement?
For over twenty years, the Skeptics Society and Skeptic magazine have labored at the forefront of the skeptical movement—constantly experimenting, often pushing the boundaries, but always circling back to the heart of the skeptical tradition.
Scientific skepticism is rare and precious, a thing of beauty and value. We’re proud to specialize in the subtle and difficult work of studying testable paranormal and fringe science claims through the lens of science and critical scholarship, and then telling the public what we have learned. It’s work that matters in the lives of real people, every day—an ancient and noble public service tradition. We’re proud to have your help in carrying that tradition forward.
But when did the tradition of scientific skepticism begin? How did it blossom into a modern movement? What happened before there was a Skeptics Society—before any of us were even born? When top hats or Roman togas were the latest fashions, who spoke then for the victims of paranormal fraud?
This week, we’re pleased to present Daniel Loxton’s challenging and provocative new project, “Why Is There a Skeptical Movement?” (PDF). 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 that has been raised again in recent days, and which Loxton addressed previously in his 2007 op-ed “Where Do We Go From Here?”
What ought the skeptical movement to become? According to Loxton, the more important question is why it exists in the first place.