Skeptic » eSkeptic » October 1, 2014

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine



Steven Pinker lecture moved to Caltech’s larger hall. Tickets now available in advance!

Is this the first writing style guide based on science, instead of anecdote and tradition? Will it replace all style guides that came before because it is based on how the brain works instead of historical accident?

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Persons Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (book cover)
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
PLEASE NOTE: This lecture is on a different day than usual: a Saturday.

SATURDAY, Oct. 4 at 2 pm
Beckman Auditorium, Caltech

On Saturday, October 4, 2:00pm, in Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, Harvard University professor Steven Pinker will be speaking about his new book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, followed by an “in conversation” with Michael Shermer on the topic of human nature, then a Q&A with your questions and a book signing after. The book addresses the topic of literature and writing from the perspective of the science of linguistics and cognitive psychology, so we thought you would be interested. We invite you to attend, and encourage you to bring your friends, colleagues, and students as well.
Get directions, and a map to the campus, and see ticket information below. Call our office if you have questions: 1-626-794-3119. We look forward to seeing you there!

— Michael Shermer, Executive Director, The Skeptics Society
     a Science Education Organization

For your convenience, download and share with your friends, colleagues, and students this one-page PDF with details about the event:

Download and share
Info Sheet (PDF)

Tickets

Tickets are $10 for Skeptics Society members/Caltech/JPL Community, and $15 for nonmembers, and $5 for Caltech students. Ordering tickets in advance is strongly recommended! Tickets may be purchased in advance in 5 ways:

Order tickets online

  • OR, by calling 626-395-4652 between 9am and 4pm Monday–Friday
    (Do not leave a message.);
  • in person, by visiting the Caltech ticket office in 101 Winnett (MAP) between 9am and 4pm Monday–Friday;
  • by faxing the Caltech Ticket Office at 626-395-1721; or
  • at the door on the day of the event.

Service Charge on Phone/Fax Ticket Orders

For all tickets purchased by phone or fax for Beckman Auditorium, Caltech will add an $8 service charge per ticket order (no matter how many tickets are ordered). No service charge will be added to tickets purchased at the door on the day of the event or in person at the Caltech ticket office in advance.


Dinner Evening & Wine Tasting Event
Join Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer & Special Guests

Michael Shermer's dining room

After the lecture by Steven Pinker, and in conjunction with the annual fundraising drive for the Skeptics Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science education organization, Michael and Jennifer Shermer are hosting a dinner, wine tasting, and star party at their home in the mountains of Altadena, just up the hill from Caltech. Cost is $600/plate. $550 of the $600 donation is deductible. Your donation guarantees you a front-row seat in Beckman Auditorium for Pinker’s 2pm talk (see lecture details in the lecture announcement below), plus a signed copy of his new book, A Sense of Style. You will have a spectacular sunset view of all of Southern California from their cliffside home, and enjoy viewing Mars, Saturn, and the moon through their 8-inch Meade telescope that night. Good cause, good fun. Reserve your seat online with a minimum $600 donation and join us! For more information, please call our office at 1-626-794-3119.

Donate now to reserve
for the dinner event

LECTURE-ONLY TICKETS FOR STEVEN PINKER: First come, first served at the door. Seating is limited. $10 for Skeptics Society members and the JPL/Caltech community, $15 for nonmembers. Your admission fee is a donation that pays for our lecture expenses. For a front row seat, an autographed book, and the dinner event at Michael Shermer’s home, the cost is $600, and should be reserved online in advance via the donation link above.

LECTURE, BOOK, AND DINNER EVENT TICKETS FOR STEVEN PINKER: For a front row seat, an autographed book, and the dinner event at Michael Shermer’s home, the cost is $600, and should be reserved online in advance.


Marcelo Gleiser (credit: Gil Inoue)

Don’t Miss Dr. Marcelo Gleiser
on Sunday, October 5

Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science
and the Search for Meaning

SUNDAY, Oct. 5 at 2 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech

DO ALL QUESTIONS HAVE ANSWERS? How much can we know about the world? Is there such a thing as an ultimate truth? To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” In The Island of Knowledge, Dartmouth College astronomer and physicist Dr. Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of existence. In so doing, he reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited. These limits to our knowledge arise both from our tools of exploration and from the nature of physical reality: the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem, and our own limitations as an intelligent species. Recognizing limits in this way, Gleiser argues, is not a deterrent to progress or a surrendering to religion. Rather, it frees us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it. Science can and must go on, but recognizing its limits reveals its true mission: to know the universe is to know ourselves. Order The Island of Knowledge from Amazon. A book signing will follow the lecture.

TICKETS FOR MARCELO GLEISER: First come, first served at the door. Seating is limited. $10 for Skeptics Society members and the JPL/Caltech community, $15 for nonmembers. Your admission fee is a donation that pays for our lecture expenses.


Weekly Highlights

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:

Eve Siebert
History Channel’s Vikings and the Mystical Land of England

Eve Siebert explains how the History Channel’s Vikings depicts both the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons in a stereotypical and pseudohistorical manner, getting some things about Norse raiders right—and some things weirdly wrong.
READ THE POST

Daniel Loxton
Video: TAM 2013 Panel on the Scope and Mission of Scientific Skepticism

Daniel Loxton introduces video from The Amazing Meeting 2013, featuring a panel discussion on the scope of scientific skepticism. READ THE POST

From the Skeptical Literature: Thomas Ady on the Role of Mental Illness in Witchcraft Confessions (1655)

Daniel Loxton shares and discusses a quote from a skeptical volume which was written three and a half centuries ago as an urgent effort to curb the bloodthirsty witch hunting mania. READ THE POST

Some of My Work in Skeptical History (Updated)

Daniel Loxton provides links to many of his pieces which touch upon skeptical history. (Updated from a piece published previously at the now-retired Skepticblog.) READ THE POST


Ian Harris
Critical and Thinking
SKEPTICALITY EPISODE 240

In this episode of Skepticality, Derek sits down with previous Skepticality guest Ian Harris, a working comedian whose material focuses on topics around critical thought and skepticism. Ian recently released a new video special, and comes on Skepticality to talk a bit more about the climate of humor when performing stand up comedy in front of wildly varied crowds across the United States.

Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on the App Store
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available at Amazon for Android
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on Windows Store

Get the Skepticality App — the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine and the Skeptics Society, so you can enjoy your science fix and engaging interviews on the go! Available for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 devices.


The Latest Episode of Mr. Deity: Mr. Deity and The Help

Lucy talks with Mr. Deity about all the help he’s been giving people in the wealthier countries of the world.

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