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Happy Birthday Carl Sagan!

November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. Carl Sagan

FEW CELEBRITIES IN SCIENCE have done more for the promotion of science, reason, rationality, and critical thinking than Carl Sagan, whom we remember today upon the occasion of his birthday: November 9, 1934. Carl would have been 77 years old today. Happy Birthday Carl!

3rd Annual Carl Sagan Day

This Saturday, November 12, 2011, marks the third annual Carl Sagan Day, which takes place at Broward College: North Campus in Coconut Creek, Florida. This free event is a celebration of the life and teachings of Carl Sagan, whose many books, television appearances (most notably Cosmos), and NASA projects influenced a generation of thinkers. For more information, go to carlsaganday.com.

The Measure of a Man

In celebration of Carl Sagan Day, we would like to share with you a free lecture from our Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech: Carl Sagan: The Measure of a Man. In this lecture, Michael Shermer, William Poundstone and Keay Davidson take an illuminating look back over the life and legacy of one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated astronomers.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR FREE

Dr. SETI: “Cosmic Carl”

Back in 2009, Daniel Loxton put together a free, downloadable Skeptics Mix Tape, comprised of a selection of songs of science and skepticism. In one of the songs, Cosmic Carl, folk singer Dr. SETI leads a live audience in a fond shout-out to the late, great astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan. Have a listen and feel free to download ALL the songs in MP3 format for non-commercial use at home or in your classroom.

DOWNLOAD “COSMIC CARL” FOR FREE

Carl Sagan Tribute Articles

Skeptic.com has a compendium of articles on Carl Sagan that you can read for free on on our website. Several of them are tribute articles from various back issues of Skeptic magazine.

BROWSE AND READ FREE
ARTICLES ON CARL SAGAN

Items of Interest at Shop Skeptic (limited availability)


Lecture Sunday: Robert Trivers

The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and
Self-Deception in Human Life

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 2 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall

WHETHER IT’S IN A COCKPIT AT TAKEOFF OR THE PLANNING OF AN OFFENSIVE WAR, a romantic relationship or a dispute at the office, there are many opportunities to lie and self-deceive—but deceit and self-deception carry the costs of being alienated from reality and can lead to disaster. So why does deception play such a prominent role in our everyday lives? In his bold new work, Rutgers University evolutionary theorist Robert Trivers unflinchingly argues that self-deception evolved in the service of deceit—the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons—in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS LECTURE

Tickets are first come, first served at the door. 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.


Skepticism 101: 2nd Call for Course Syllabuses
from Those Teaching Skeptical Courses

A few weeks ago, I sent out a call for all teachers and professors who are teaching courses in skepticism, critical thinking, science and pseudoscience, science and the paranormal, science studies, history or philosophy of science, the psychology of paranormal beliefs, religious studies, and the like…

Thank you very much to those of you who have already contributed. We appreciate your efforts and your support. For those of you would like to contribute, please EMAIL Anondah Saide
(one of my graduate students) with your:

  • course syllabuses,
  • lectures,
  • Powerpoint presentations,
  • reading lists,
  • YouTube videos,
  • classroom demonstration ideas,
  • student projects and experiments,
  • research project ideas, and the like.

I want to add them to my own Course Syllabus on Skepticism 101, and create an online Skeptical Studies Program at Skeptic.com for teachers and professors everywhere to go to in a creative commons/open source system so that we can build a new academic field going forward with skepticism into academia.

To start the process off I share with you my own Course Syllabus for Skepticism 101, which I am teaching this semester at Chapman University on Tuesdays from 4–7pm with 36 freshman, the future of the skeptical movement!

DOWNLOAD SHERMER’S COURSE SYLLABUS FOR SKEPTICISM 101

EMAIL US YOUR IDEAS

FOLLOW MICHAEL SHERMER ON TWITTER Facebook SKEPTICBLOG

Skepticality

A.J. Mass
Interview with A.J. Mass

This week on Skepticality, Derek interviews A.J. Mass (a staff writer for ESPN, and card dealer in Atlantic City) to discuss his new book How Fantasy Sports Explains the World: What Pujols and Peyton Can Teach Us About Wookiees and Wall Street. From the Last Supper to Star Wars, winning advice about almost any facet of life can be found almost anywhere, especially when you pay attention to reality and the current known odds.

MonsterTalk

Paranormality (book cover)
Paranormality: Psychic Dogs, Ghosts and Silly Voices—an Interview with Richard Wiseman

While at TAM9, the hosts of MonsterTalk sat down to talk with psychologist Richard Wiseman about his new book Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there. It was supposed to be a chat about the paranormal, ghosts and Wiseman’s findings. But a conversation with Richard Wiseman is rarely so simple as that.


NEW ON SKEPTICBLOG.ORG
Kitchen Table Cryptozoology

As part of the research for his upcoming book on cryptozoology with Donald Prothero, Daniel spends a few minutes playing with playdough at the kitchen table—and demonstrates a simple but under-appreciated principle behind false positive sea serpent sightings.

READ THE POST

FOLLOW DANIEL LOXTON ON TWITTERFACEBOOKSKEPTICBLOG

Some spaces available on our
Upcoming Geology Tours

Whale Watching, Geology and Tide Pools

November 12, 2011

tide pools

We have a few spots left on our 1-day whale watching tour coming up on November 12, 2011. Questions? Email us. To register, call 1-626-794-3119 with a credit card to secure your spot.

LEARN MORE, AND REGISTER

Viva Mojave!

January 14–16, 2012

Mojave

We still have space available for this tour from January 14–16, 2012 which highlights the Mojave Desert and the Las Vegas area, Calico, Afton Gorge where Ice Age floods drained Lake Manix, Red Rock Canyon, and the Hoover Dam. Explore the Las Vegas Strip on your own in the evening.

LEARN MORE, AND REGISTER

3 Comments »

3 Comments

  1. BaronP says:

    All creatures use deception continually to deal with others, but not necessarily to fool them when the social culture accepts and promotes the rules and means. To call culturally and or socially required deception self-deception completely misses the biological means to its ends.

  2. Rudi says:

    Hi!

    would like to add another perspective to the ’10 myths about evolution’ piece….

    particularly point 3….that no one has observed evolution….well actually we have and we as humans played a role in it…..domestication.

    We know that domestic dogs are direct decendants from the wolves our ancestors kept company with. Their bodies, temperament and some behaviour was altered by selective breeding. according to some experts, this was observable in as little as ten generations. Given the lifespan of a dog, those breeding them would have observed several distinct ‘evolutions’ in their lifetime as a breeder.

    Surely this is the only form of intelligent design that is quantifiable, and given the number of inherited medical conditions pure breed dogs have, we can also conclude that, while intelligent, the design is not without its shortcomings :-)

  3. dufas duck says:

    While I believe in evolution, I have a problem with the missing link synopsis. If evolution is a gradual process, there should be hundreds, maybe even thousands of missing links between excepted hominid plateaus or everything else for that matter.

    In the case of evolution from quad to bipedal, the hip joints have rotated to support the upright stance. If these bones gradually evolved towards the biped position, shouldn’t there be examples showing varying degrees of rotation to that end, eventually leading to an eventual separation of sub-species.

    Even with ‘survival of the fittest’ in play, the gradual bone displacement should be observed.

    The other option is that each new sub-species is really a mutation of those that came before but this is somewhat problematic in that there would have to be a mass mutation. There could have been interbreeding between a mutant and the previous species whose offspring may or may not have the upright hip bones. In this case, there is the possibility that the mixing of genes could produce a ‘half breed’ whose hips show a partial directional shift. Again, even in this case, fossil records should show the gradual change.

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