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Announcing the New Season of Lectures at Caltech

Mark your calendar! The Skeptics Society is pleased to announce its new season of the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech. This continues the seventeen-year-long series, presenting over 225 lectures by some of the most distinguished experts in the world. Unless otherwise stated, all lectures take place in Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech, Pasadena, CA. Book signings will follow all lectures.

Ticket Information

Tickets are first come first served at the door (unless otherwise noted below). Seating is limited. $8. for Skeptics Society members and the JPL/Caltech community, $10. for nonmembers. Your admission fee is a donation that pays for our lecture expenses.


36 Arguments for
the Existence of God:
A Work of Fiction

with Dr. Rebecca Goldstein

Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 2 pm

MACARTHUR “GENIUS” FELLOW Rebecca Goldstein (Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton and author of The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, and studies of Kurt Gödel and Baruch Spinoza) reads from her new novel and speaks about how she uses her characters to explore the tension between belief and skepticism. These positions cannot be understood through rational argument alone—they also must be explored from the point of view of individual people caught in the raptures and torments of religious experience in all their variety. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God plunges into the great debate of our day: the clash between faith and reason. World events are being shaped by fervent believers at home and abroad, while a new atheism is asserting itself in the public sphere. On purely intellectual grounds the skeptics would seem to have everything on their side. Yet people refuse to accept their seemingly irrefutable arguments and continue to embrace faith in God as their source of meaning, purpose, and comfort. Why? Goldstein gives us her answer through fiction and philosophy.

Natural Experiments of History (cover)

Natural Experiments
of History

with Dr. Jared Diamond

Beckman Auditorium
Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 2 pm
Come early for our $5–$10 book sale!

SOME CENTRAL QUESTIONS in the natural and social sciences can’t be answered by controlled laboratory experiments, often considered to be the hallmark of the scientific method. This impossibility holds for any science concerned with the past. In addition, many manipulative experiments, while possible, would be considered immoral or illegal. One has to devise other methods of observing, describing, and explaining the world.
READ about this lecture…

Special Pricing for Diamond’s lecture

$12 Skeptics Society members/Caltech/JPL community; $18 everyone else. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the Caltech ticket office at 626-395-4652 or at the door. Ordering ahead of time is recommended. The Caltech ticket office asks that you do not leave a message. Instead call between 12:00 and 5:00 Monday through Friday.

left to right: Chopra, Houston, Shermer, and Harris

Does God have a Future?
A Great Debate Filmed by ABC’s Nightline

Deepak Chopra & Jean Houston v. Michael Shermer & Sam Harris

Beckman Auditorium
Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 2 pm

This is a free event that you absolutely will not want to miss! Since we expect to fill the hall, you must reserve tickets in advance to attend (maximum of 10) through the Caltech ticket office at 626-395-4652. The Caltech ticket office asks that you do not leave a message. Instead call between 12:00 and 5:00 Monday through Friday. If you are too late to reserve a ticket you can come the day of the event in case there are cancellations or no-shows.

This debate will be filmed and appear in a 30-minute edited version on ABC Nightline approximately two weeks after the event. A complete version of the debate will also be available on the show’s website around the same time.

This event is now SOLD OUT. You can still come on the day of the event in case there are cancellations or no-shows. There is a possibility that the lecture will be broadcast over speakers outside the venue. So, you can listen from outside if you cannot get into the lecture. READ about the speakers…

The Drunkard's Walk (cover)

The Drunkard’s Walk:
How Randomness Rules Our Lives

with Dr. Leonard Mlodinow

Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 2 pm

A DRUNKARD’S WALK is a type of random statistical distribution with important applications in scientific studies ranging from biology to astronomy. Mlodinow, a visiting lecturer at Caltech and coauthor with Stephen Hawking of A Briefer History of Time, takes us on a walk through the hills and valleys of randomness and how it directs our lives more than we realize. READ about this lecture…

On Fact and Fraud (cover)

On Fact & Fraud:
Cautionary Tales from
the Front Lines of Science

with Dr. David Goodstein

Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 2 pm

FRAUD IN SCIENCE is not as easy to identify as one might think. When accusations of scientific misconduct occur, truth can often be elusive, and the cause of a scientist’s ethical misstep isn’t always clear. In his lecture based on his new book, On Fact and Fraud, Caltech physicist David Goodstein looks at actual cases in which fraud was committed or alleged, explaining what constitutes scientific misconduct and what doesn’t, and outlines some ethical foundations needed to discern and avoid fraud wherever it may arise. READ about this lecture…

How the Economy Works (cover)

How the Economy Works:
Confidence, Crashes
& Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

with Dr. Roger E. A. Farmer

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2 pm

In this lecture based on his new book, How the Economy Works, one of our leading economists, the UCLA professor Roger Farmer, provides a jargon-free exploration of the current crisis, offering a powerful argument for how economics must change to get us out of it. READ about this lecture…

Mark Moffett (photo by Frank J. Sulloway)

Adventures Among the Ants:
A Global Safari with
a Cast of Trillions

with Dr. Mark Moffett

Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 2 pm

INTREPID INTERNATIONAL EXPLORER, biologist, and National Geographic photographer Mark W. Moffett, “the Indiana Jones of entomology,” takes us around the globe on a strange and colorful journey in search of the hidden world of ants. In tales from Nigeria, Indonesia, the Amazon, Australia, California, and elsewhere, Moffett recounts his entomological exploits and provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors, yet at a different scale and a faster tempo. READ about this lecture…

Dr. John Long

Death, Sex & Evolution

with Dr. John Long

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 2 pm

IN THIS RIVETING STORY about his remarkable discoveries from the Gogo fossil site in the Kimberly district of Western Australia, the Australian paleontologist John Long, now Vice President of Research and Collections at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County, takes us beyond just reconstructing animal morphology and into the realm of restoring ancient behavior. READ about this lecture…

8 Comments »

8 Comments

  1. Ed Oleen says:

    Gee – it’s great that you have all these interesting lectures at CalTech. UNFORTUNATELY!!! I live on the “other” coast – the Eastern one, and there is close to zero chance of my attending any of them. I really wouldn’t mind paying a modest sum for a “hardcopy” of the lecture and q-and-a session, if any, afterwards.

    By “hardcopy” I mean a DVD of the event. It can’t be all that difficult to create one, and evan easier to make copies.

    What say, guys? Can you really justify keeping all the good stuff to yourselves>

  2. John Shepherd says:

    An outstanding series! I am very glad I live close enough to attend them all. I endorse Ed’s suggestion. It would be nice to go back later and catch what I missed during the lecture and share it with friends that could not attend.

  3. Brian says:

    I second the earlier comment by Ed Oleen. Making Hard copies available along with the Q and-A would be ideal; or simply posting the lectures on-line would be nice, but probably not feasible.

    bda

  4. Jim Sabiston says:

    I recently purchased my first iPod (32gb Touch) and quickly learned of all the wonderful offerings in the iTunes U libraries – available for free. I’m presently working my way thru the MIT photography lectures – I’m a fairly accomplished amateur photographer – http://www.essentiallightphotography.com . Some are offered as videos (such as the MIT series) others as audio lectures. What an outstanding resource in either form!

    The vast majority of us will never have the opportunity to attend these fascinating lectures and an online offering in some form would be an enormous boon to the majority of interested Skeptics out here!

  5. Neil Jacobs says:

    Re Dr. Rebacca Goldstein’s talk ” 36 Arguments for the Existence of God : A Work of Fiction ”
    The reviewer laments that people won’t accept rational,irrefutable arguments related to the existence of God . I, too, share that despair .
    To see what we are up against , a “must read ” is “What’s so wrong with being absolutely right : the dangerous nature of dogmatic belief. ” by Prof. Judy J. Johnson [ Mount Royal College , Calgary ] — Clinical Psychologist .
    The book explores the development & nature of dogmatic belief including religious beliefs . Rational arguments don’t get a “look-in” with a thoroughly entrenched dogmatic view on life .
    Not prepared to ” let sleeping dogmatics lie ” ,the author provides realistic courses of action to open people’s minds .

  6. brian snyder says:

    Is skeptic magazine available for the sony reader?

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