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The Skeptics Society Presents:
Crystals for Skeptics!

a Geology Trip to the Oceanview Mine in Pala, California.
Collect your own gems at the world-famous Pala Mining District!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

giant crystal

A hefty crystal removed from the Oceanview mine. Screening tables are shown in the background.

Riding chartered mini-coaches, we will leave the Westin Hotel (Pasadena) at 8:00 a.m. to travel to the Oceanview Mine in the Pala mining district of northern San Diego County. This is the last operating mine from a region that once had 73 mines, producing beautiful tourmalines (some with “watermelon” colors of green and pink), lavender lepidolite mica, plus beautiful crystals of quartz, morganite, beryl, kunzite, garnet, spodumene, and many other rare gems.

The trip includes a lecture by Dr. Donald Prothero on the area geology and how crystals are formed and a tour the mine in small groups. The mine will provide work stations consisting of a table, screen, and bucket. Screen as many buckets of fresh material from the mine as you like and keep any gems you find. This activity takes place in the parking lot outdoors so be sure to dress for the weather. Boxed lunches and drinks will be provided. $20 of your fee is a tax-deductible donation to the Skeptics Society.

What to Bring
  • Gloves, sun hat, sunscreen, good walking shoes or boots (no sandals),
  • “Ziplock” bags, a backpack or bucket to bring home your rocks and a prospecting spirit!
Schedule and Fees

We will be at the mine site from approximately 10:30 am until 3:00 pm and will return to Pasadena at approximately 5:30 pm. Space is VERY limited as there are only 48 screens. You may wish to share your screen with someone, or for an additional fee, have your own. The total price for the tour if you share a screen is $145 per person. The total price for the tour for a single screen is $170 per person. Children are welcome at $135 per child for a shared screen.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation after November 15 will not be refunded.

Mail completed registration to:

Skeptics Society
Attention Geo Tour
PO Box 338
Altadena, CA 91001

Or call our office with your information at 626-794-3119.

In addition to the registration form, two liability forms will be required.

  • an oceanview mine liability form
  • and Skeptics Society liability form will finalize your registration.

DOWNLOAD the registration form


Michael Shermer to Speak About God in New York

Thursday, November 15th, 7pm
Metro 53, 307 E. 53rd Street
New York

photo of Michael Shermer

On Thursday evening, November 15, Dr. Michael Shermer will be speaking on “The God Question”. The evening begins at 7pm. Additional information and tickets for the event, which includes other speakers, entertainment, and food, can be found at: www.thegreatamericangodout.com/9.html. Dr. Shermer will expand upon his research on why people believe in God and why we are moral, originally presented in his books How We Believe and The Science of Good and Evil, to discuss the resurgence of both theism and atheism in America since 9/11.


Dr. Donald Prothero

lecture reminder …

The Breathtaking Inanity of Flood Geology:
Geology, Creationism & Evolution

with Dr. Donald Prothero

Sunday, November 11th, 2pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech

Have you ever had to deal with a Creationist who takes the Genesis accounts literally, and who insists that the biblical story of Noah’s flood can account for all the geologic features of the earth, as well as all the creatures that survived on the ark? In this lecture, Dr. Prothero will not only discuss the biblical and logistical problems with “flood geology … READ more about this lecture >

Important ticket information

Tickets are first come first served at the door. Sorry, no advance ticket sales for this lecture. Seating is limited. Notice to our regular lecture goers: we have raised our prices for the first time in 15 years. $8 Skeptics Society members & Caltech/JPL Community; $10 General Public.


The Future of Skepticism
by Daniel Loxton, Editor, Junior Skeptic

On October 16th, 2007, Skepticality released an episode featuring my audio op-ed essay on the future of skepticism (which you can download here as a 47 MB MP3 file, or as a text-only PDF). It brought an immediate response from listeners.

Between emails, Facebook messages, forum comments, and blog entries, the response has been (to my delighted surprise!) extremely high in both quantity and thoughtfulness — and very positive. Derek tells me, “Dan, honestly, this was the most ‘real’ feedback we have had since our first shows … This has been a great week for me, I love when people get excited.”

I hoped this might get people chatting a little bit, but it seems to have really struck a nerve. There definitely is a discernible current of opinion among these many comments, which is an illuminating bit of informal market research. For example, respondents generally agree that skepticism should be apolitical. They also agree that atheism is a separate issue, from which organized skepticism should keep its distance.

I’m particularly encouraged by the groundswell of support for my central thesis: that skepticism should renew its focus on its traditional core concerns regarding the investigation and criticism of paranormal claims.

Finally, another common theme quite caught me off guard. Many people wrote to say they felt moved to help, to contribute, to become skeptical activists! I’m tremendously grateful to these people for their inspiring enthusiasm. Many of them asked the natural next questions: What do we do from here? How do we do effective skeptical activism? How can individual skeptics help, exactly?

Those are big questions, which we’ll be addressing soon on an upcoming episode of Skepticality.

In the meantime, we’re pleased to share a selection from the responses in the writers’ own words.


Responses to Daniel Loxton’s
“Where Do We Go From Here?”

Positive Feedback
  • “Wow, what a fantastic episode! I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Loxton before, but that was both a moving and well thought out essay and such a good post-essay interview that this comes across as one of your best episodes. I really like the fact that your podcast is tackling not just coverage of skeptical issues, but starting to encourage activism from what I’m sure are a large number of people who are new to organized skepticism (like me).”
  • “I was really inspired by this week’s Skepticality Podcast, (specifically Daniel Loxton’s call to re-arm) and I think it’s time I threw my hat into the ring. I’m a mentalist and magician with a skeptical show … Anyways, I’ve been toying with doing a skeptical blog for awhile now, Daniel’s essay was just what I needed to get started for real … Thank you so much, and keep slaying the dragons.”
  • “I really agreed with the point that the old-school skeptical topics still have a place. There’s a whole new generation of people out there who’ve never heard the skeptical perspective. I used to work at a camp, and the hardest thing was teaching the summer staff that even though you’ve done archery 100 times this summer, it’s probably the kid’s first time doing it. I feel the same way about the skeptical message.”
  • “I loved that episode and what Daniel had to say — and I have ADHD!”
  • “I started formulating my forum post as soon as I heard the Buffy reference. When I successfully predicted the connected Angel reference, I shuddered. Daniel Loxton hit the nail on the head. It’s all I can do not to quote him word for word and repeat everything he just said in a poor emulation of my own … I cannot agree with him more, that to expand the role of skepticism to begin taking positions on politics, philosophy, and religion is to dilute it.”
  • “As an atheist and a libertarian I wholly support the notion to keep the skeptic movement away from religion and politics. If we try to direct efforts into these areas I believe it will only lead to divisive infighting, and we simply CANNOT afford this. As skeptics, we can have legitimate differences of opinion on these subjects (at least to some degree) and still be united in our “skeptical battles”. The best thing we can do is to provide support for each other and encourage each other to also be active in the political and/or religious groups of our choosing and bring a skeptical voice of reason to them.”
  • “I am currently a stay-at-home mom, with a second grade girl and a kindergarten boy, and I have to deal regularly with how to raise the kids to be rational, logically-minded and skeptical … I was inspired by Daniel’s great essay and callout to propose some way to reach [these much] younger potential skeptics …”
  • “Just wanted to let you know I listened to the show at work tonight. It is one of the best Skepticality podcasts. Fellow Canadian Daniel Loxton had an extremely interesting and well-written essay, and the follow up conversation went back to some of the early podcasts when the whole show had a more relaxed feel.”
  • “Well done indeed. I was impressed. I’ll say for now that I do in fact slay dragons … little dragons every time I perform for school kids. Some of those dragons will undoubtedly will come back to life, but some will never get the chance to grow.”
  • “Daniel Loxton’s “Where do we go from here?” gives a lot of good points in terms of constantly attacking the paranormal. No matter how tiring it may become, skeptics cannot become complacent. Skeptics should slow the rise and speed the fall of blatant fallacies to help people avoid bad decisions.”
  • “I just listened to the podcast and really enjoyed it. It was very motivational. Identifying yourself as part of a skeptical movement is doing something positive for the community. I’ll have to find some niche in the critical thinking community that I can be more proactive in. It was a great pep talk.”
  • “Thought provoking and moving indeed. Well worth the read, (or listen). I’m still digesting the article, and have a feeling I’ll be thinking about it for a bit, I just wanted to say thank you for posting this.”
  • “Help me be one of those pesky kids. I’d like to be one of those who help along from here … I’ve done the whole Christian thing from church and Sunday school to youth group to deacon to priest … I’m one of the people I hear you and other skeptics say cannot be swayed … As Daniel said, new faces are needed. Some don’t know where or how to start, like me.”
Negative Feedback

[One libertarian listener was generally supportive of my argument, but felt I should have left libertarianism out of it:]

  • “I would like to comment on one relatively minor point you made … where you railed against libertarianism. First, I thought it was odd to have this small political stumping sticking out in the middle of a piece about science … I interpreted — possibly incorrectly — that your true intent (which was left well hidden between the lines) was to deride libertarianism as merely an excuse for those who do not go as far to the extreme left as you would like them to.”

[One atheist listener felt I was wrong to exclude god as a target for skeptics:]

  • “The so-called skeptical movement targets “the sharks” … we take the fight to the scammers, professing ignorance of the underlying cause. Oh sure; we talk the good game. Educate the masses; promote critical thinking skills; promote science literacy. But we draw the line at addressing the most blatant case of non-critical thinking here in the US and the world at large. Religion … If you are looking for dragons to slay, that is the big one.”

[This is my favorite! One Buffy fan never even gave my essay a chance:]

  • “Hey, I’m a skeptic, and I tried listening to the podcast. My word for it — yawn? How about double yawn, with a side of ‘zzzzz.’ If he had a point to make, I missed it, ‘cause I gave up after about five minutes. Even when writing scholarly articles, please, get to the point. Don’t bore the reader … er, um, listener. Don’t make me sleepy by citing a litany of scholarly references. Put those at the end, if you must have them at all. The catch was Buffy singing, but even that didn’t make me want to keep listening until he wound his way around to whatever point he was snaking up to. As Dark Willow would say, ‘blah, blah, blah.’”
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