The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear four of the world’s leading Skeptics discuss their experiences fighting irrationality & promoting science, and what you can do to help!

The Skeptics Society Presents
Science Symposium
Friday–Sunday, June 24–26, 2011

with Dr. Michael Shermer and James “The Amazing” Randi
and special guests: Bill Nye the Science Guy® and Mr. Deity (Brian Dalton)

FRIDAY night party (buffet dinner included, cash bar), 6:00pm to 10:00pm at Burger Continental in Pasadena, featuring Shermer and Randi as well as a world-class Magic Castle magician performing close-up magic and a stage show.

SATURDAY all day lectures and workshops at the California Institute of Technology’s Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena, includes catered buffet continental breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a special appearance of the Deity (Mr. Deity that is) plus an “in conversation” with “The Amazing” Randi and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

SUNDAY exclusively for Symposium attendees only, we are offering two optional tours of either: (A) a tour of the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory telescopes with boxed picnic lunch on the mountain, hosted by Dr. Michael Shermer and observatory docents. (Tour and picnic lunch $20; transportation on your own to the observatory, a one-hour drive from Pasadena); OR (B) Geology Tour of the San Gabriel mountains and San Andreas fault hosted by Dr. Donald Prothero. Tour includes charter bus, picnic lunch, snacks and water, lectures, park admissions, and a guide booklet. Your trip fee of $99 also includes a tax deductible $32 donation to the Skeptics Society. Space is limited on both tours. More details.

Symposium Summary

Dr. Michael Shermer presents his “greatest hits” from 20 years of adventures in science and pseudoscience, skepticism and critical thinking. Dr. Shermer will include his very best material from his books, popular talks, college courses, television shows, Scientific American column, and investigations conducted for Skeptic magazine, plus showcases new material from his just-published book, The Believing Brain.

Topics include: science and pseudoscience • the psychology and neuroscience of belief • evolution and intelligent design • science and religion • the evolutionary origins of morality • how to be good without God • the Baloney Detection Kit • how beliefs can be changed • how to get people to stop believing weird things.

The day will also feature special appearances and presentations by James “The Amazing” Randi from his forthcoming book, A Magician in the Laboratory, in which he will explain how to test paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, as well as by Bill Nye the Science Guy on the future of science, technology, and education. The evening includes a unique appearance of the Deity (Mr. Deity that is) who will at long last answer Stephen Hawking’s question of why the universe goes to all the bother of existing.

Ticket Information
  • $175 nonmembers/general public (includes 1-year Skeptics Society membership/Skeptic subscription)
  • $150 Skeptics Society members
  • $99 students
  • student scholarship (learn more and apply)

Prices includes:

  • Friday night buffet dinner party with magic show (cash bar) at Burger Continental
  • All Saturday lectures and workshops with continental breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening entertainment
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FRIDAY JUNE 24, 2011
  • Friday Evening 6:00pm to 10:00pm dinner party (and cash bar) with close up and stage magic show
  • Burger Continental, 535 South Lake Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
  • 7:00–8:30: Registration, book table, continental breakfast
  • 8:30–10:30: The Believing Brain: From Ghosts & Gods to Politics & Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths (with Michael Shermer)
  • 10:30–11:00: Break
  • 11:00–12:00: Evolution & Creation, Science & Religion — How to Debate a Creationist or a Theist (with Michael Shermer)
  • 12:00–1:30: Lunch (catered at Caltech)
  • 1:30–2:00: The Future of Science, Technology and Education (with Bill Nye)
  • 2:00–3:00: The Science of Good and Evil — The Evolutionary Origins of Morality
    and How to Be Good Without God
    (with Michael Shermer)
  • 3:00–3:30: Break
  • 3:30–4:00: A Magician in the Laboratory (with James Randi)
  • 4:00–4:30: The Belief Changing Kit — How to Win Skeptical Friends
    and Influence People’s Opinions
    (with James Randi and Michael Shermer)
  • 4:30–5:00: Break
  • 5:00–6:00: Audience discussion and Q & A
    (with Michael Shermer, Bill Nye, and James Randi )
  • 6:00–7:30: Dinner (catered at Caltech)
  • 7:30–9:30: The Mr. Deity Show and an “in conversation”
    (with James Randi, Bill Nye, and Michael Shermer)

EXCLUSIVELY for Symposium attendees only, we are offering two optional field trips. You may only participate in one of these Sunday field trips and space is limited. Click the appropriate button at the top of the order page to add a tour to your Symposium ticket when placing your order.

Mt. Wilson map

click to enlarge map

Mt. Wilson Observatory Tour ($20)
(led by Dr. Michael Shermer)
A guided tour of the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory telescopes with Dr. Michael Shermer and observatory docents. $20 includes the tour and a boxed picnic lunch on the mountain after the tour. Transportation is on your own. One hour drive from Pasadena, directions provided. OR


Moonscape to Fault Zone ($99) (led by Dr. Donald Prothero)
JOIN US AS WE TRAVEL through the recently opened portions of the Big Tujunga Canyon and Angeles Crest Highway to see the area burned by the 2009 Station Fire, and explore the geology of the San Gabriel Mountains. We will see the oldest rocks in the southwestern U.S. (over 1.7 billion years old), plus the evidence of billion-year-old magma chambers that have the same composition as the moon rocks, and other huge magma intrusions that cooled during the age of dinosaurs. In the eastern San Gabriels, we will see rocks that were crushed and transformed when the western part of the range was pushed up and over the eastern part. We will come down off the summit to follow the valley of the San Andreas Fault to the west, and see the huge landslides at Wrightwood, the sandstones of the Devil’s Punchbowl folded due to the immense pressures of the San Andreas Fault, the sag pond of Jackson Lake which filled the valley with water trapped along the fault, and the spectacular cliffs (and famous movie location) of Vasquez Rocks, which is over 20,000 feet thick and tilted and rotated over the past 20 million years. Tour includes charter bus, picnic lunch, snacks and water, lectures, park admissions, and a guide booklet. Your trip fee of $99 also includes a tax deductible $32 donation to the Skeptics Society.

About the speakers
James Randi

JAMES “THE AMAZING” RANDI is the founding director of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a professional magician, investigator of paranormal claims, science educator, writer, researcher, and the author of Flim-Flam, The Faith Healers, The Mask of Nostradamus, The Truth About Uri Geller, and The Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes. As one of the founders of the modern skeptical movement, Randi has been a public spokesperson for skepticism for over 40 years and has appeared on all the top television and radio talk shows and series, including 38 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, on which he famously exposed the trickery of faith healers.

Michael Shermer

DR. MICHAEL SHERMER is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Executive Directors of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of numerous bestselling books including: The Mind of the Market, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, and Why People Believe Weird Things. Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine he has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!). Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.

Bill Nye

SPECIAL GUEST BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY® is best known for his hit PBS television series Bill Nye the Science Guy, which ran from 1992–1998 and won Emmy Awards for Best Performer, Best Writing, Best Producing, and Best Show. He was the host of the Science Channel’s 100 Greatest Discoveries in Science, and the popular series The Eyes of Nye. He is the author of Bill Nye’s Big Blast of Science, Bill Nye’s Consider the Following, and Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Great Big Dinosaur Dig. He is also an inventor, with patents for a baseball retrieval device, a ball throwing technique training gizmo, and an improved ballet toe shoe. As part of the Mars Athena Exploration Team, he played a key role in the design of the MarsDials, the sundials on Mars. Today Bill is the Executive Director of The Planetary Society.

Mr. Deity (aka Brian Keith Dalton)

Mr. Deity

SPECIAL GUEST BRIAN DALTON is the creator of Mr. Deity, a web show that began as an iTunes podcast and shortly thereafter became a YouTube sensation garnering hundreds of thousands of views and the attention of Sony Pictures Entertainment. After signing with Sony, Mr. Deity aired exclusively on Sony’s “Crackle” website where the episodes were viewed by millions of fans and lauded by likes of Michael Shermer, Julia Sweeney, and Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller). Brian writes, directs, produces, stars in, edits, and composes the music for the show.

Brian is (as he likes to say) a “Formon” — a former Mormon. In his late teens, Brian got religion — “with a vengeance” — and began studying theology, philosophy, and psychology day and night. In the 1980s, he wrote and performed an album of religious music with partner Paul Steenhoek, and toured the Western United States, singing and lecturing about the importance of faith. He ultimately ended up working with Jewish theologian, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Dennis Prager. But in his mid-twenties, he began to question his devotion to both Mormonism and religion in general. This questioning lead him to a life of skepticism and a deep reverence for science, the scientific method, and the value of free thought and critical thinking.

Brian has an extensive background in Mormonism, Christianity, and Judaism. He is well-versed in skepticism, science, critical thinking, and is extremely passionate about the importance, and governing role of reason in our lives and in our society. He is an award-winning writer, director, editor, composer, and producer and has shot, produced, and edited video for Disney, Clear Channel, Cap Cities, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Jon Armstrong

SPECIAL GUEST JON ARMSTRONG, acclaimed for both his close-up magic and his stage show was named the Magic Castle’s “Close Up Performer of the Year.”


click to enlarge map

191 North Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Special Conference Rate: $169.00
There are a limited number of rooms available at our special conference rate. Ask for the “Skeptics Society 2011 rate” when you call 800-937-8461 for reservations. Cut-off date for the special rate is May 22, 2011.

THE WESTIN is an exceptionally elegant 4-Star Hotel, located just a little over one mile from the Caltech campus, and within easy walking distance of Old Town Pasadena with dozens of fine restaurants, the Playhouse District with bookstores, theatres, and restaurants, and a short drive to Huntington Gardens, the Rose Bowl, and other Southern California attractions. All guest rooms are very plush and feature The Heavenly Bed, The Heavenly Bath, dual-line telephones with voice messaging, in-room internet service, complimentary Starbucks coffee. The Westin provides complimentary transportation within a 15-minute radius (includes Caltech but not airports).

ON A BUDGET? Stay at one of the following in Pasadena:

Within walking distance of Caltech
  • Vagabond Inn: 626-449-3170, 1203 E. Colorado Blvd.
  • Westway Inn: 626-304-9678, 1599 E. Colorado Blvd.
  • Saga Motor Inn: 626-795-0431, 1633 E. Colorado Blvd.
About 2 miles east of Caltech on Colorado Blvd.
  • Comfort Inn: 626-404-0811, 2462 E. Colorado Blvd.
  • Best Western Pasadena Inn: 626-796-9100, 3570 E. Colorado Blvd.
  • Best Western Pasadena Royale Hotel: 626-793-0950, 3600 E. Colorado Blvd.
Airports & Transportation

BURBANK AIRPORT is just 20 minutes from Pasadena and is serviced by Alaska, Aloha, American, American West, United, and Southwest Airlines.

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (LAX) is 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (depending on traffic) from Pasadena, but it is serviced by all airlines and offers greater travel flexibility.

SHUTTLE SERVICE from both airports to The Westin Hotel:

Least expensive:

  • Prime Time Shuttle: 800-733-8267
  • Super Shuttle: 800-258-3826
  • Xpress Shuttle: 800-427-7483

More expensive:

  • Taxi Services: 800-750-4400
  • People’s Taxi: 800-505-2227

More expensive:

  • Limousine: Fleetwood: 800-283-5893
  • ITS: 800-487-4255
Driving Directions

TO CALTECH: Off the 210 Freeway in Pasadena, exit Lake Ave and go south. Left on Del Mar, right on Michigan, which terminates at Caltech. Park in the faculty parking lot to the left, or in the student parking lots to the right. Beckman Auditorium is the large white round building at the south end of the faculty parking lot. Off the 110 Freeway, follow to the end and continue north on Arroyo Parkway, right on Del Mar, right on Michigan, follow parking instructions above.

TO WESTIN HOTEL: Off the 210 Freeway, exit Lake Ave and go south. Right on Walnut, left on Los Robles, hotel is on the SW corner (191 N. Los Robles Ave). Off the 110 Freeway, follow to the end and continue north on Arroyo Parkway, right on Colorado Blvd., left on Los Robles, hotel is two blocks north on the left side. From Burbank Airport, take the 5 South to the 134 East (Pasadena) to the 210 East, follow instructions above. From LAX, take the 105 freeway east, to the 110 North, follow instructions above.

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