Join us January 17–19, 2015 for a Tour of the Central California Coast
ON THIS WONDERFUL THREE-DAY TOUR highlighting 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.
Sign up soon! This tour is already over half full!
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Click to download a 4000 pixel-wide panorama of the 9 Sisters.
Tour package includes: charter bus, all hotel accommodations, breakfast and lunch each day, guided tour narration and guidebook, all admission fees, and a tax-deductible contribution to the Skeptics Society of $100. Seats are limited to about 52 people on a single tour bus, so the tour should fill up fast.
Email us or call 1-626-794-3119 with a credit card to secure your spot.
WITH THEIR ENDLESS WANDERING, lumbering gait, insatiable hunger, antisocial behavior, and apparently memory-less existence, zombies are the walking nightmares of our deepest fears. What do these characteristic behaviors reveal about the inner workings of the zombie mind? Could we diagnose zombism as a neurological condition by studying their behavior? In Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, Dr. Bradley Voytek, a professor of computational cognitive science and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, applies neuro-know-how to dissect the puzzle of what has happened to the zombie brain to make the undead act differently than their human prey. Combining tongue-in-cheek analysis with modern neuroscientific principles, Voytek shows how zombism can be understood in terms of current knowledge regarding how the brain works. Voytek draws on zombie popular culture and identifies a characteristic zombie behavior that can be explained using neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and brain-behavior relationships. Through this exploration he sheds light on fundamental neuroscientific questions such as: How does the brain function during sleeping and waking? What neural systems control movement? What is the nature of sensory perception? Order Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? from Amazon. A book signing will follow the lecture.
Missed Dr. Steven Pinker’s lecture? Watch it free online (for a limited time)
WHY IS SO MUCH WRITING SO BAD, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do people write badly on purpose, to obfuscate and impress? Have dictionaries abandoned their responsibility to safeguard correct usage? Do kids today even care about good writing? In his latest book the Harvard linguist, cognitive scientist, bestselling author (The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature) and chair of the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, Dr. Steven Pinker, answers these questions and more… Continue Reading.
INSIGHT at Skeptic.com sheds light, offers critical perspective, and serves as a broadly accessible, evidence-based resource on mysteries of science, paranormal claims, and the wild, woolly, wonderful weirdness of the fringe. This week’s highlights are:
The Logic of Causal Conclusions: How we know that fire burns, fertilizer helps plants grow, and vaccines prevent disease
Barbara Drescher explains in detail that while it is true that “correlation does not (always) imply causation,” correlation does nevertheless play an important and complex role in causal inference (inferring that X causes Y).
Blake Smith examines the history of pasteurization as a case study in the accretive process of invention—and reflects on the extraordinary interconnectedness necessary to push the boundaries of human accomplishment forward.
NEW SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN COLUMN ON MICHAELSHERMER.COM Infrequencies
Michael Shermer is often asked if he has ever encountered something that he could not explain. In his October 2014 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael recounts an unexplained experience so mysterious (which one might call the supernatural or paranormal) that it shook his skepticism.
When the robots take over, will we all be forced to speak bocce? Author and robotics engineer Daniel H. Wilson visits MonsterTalk to discuss the nature of robots and the risk of a robot apocalypse. Steven Spielberg has purchased the rights to produce a film version of his New York Times bestseller, Robopocalypse.
For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.
Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.
Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?
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…