The First Skeptic Conference of the year!
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Schedule and speakers’ topics
All times Pacific – Speaking times are flexible – bear with us (Česká republika je o 9 hodin napřed!)
9:46am – Welcome from Susan Gerbic, founder of Monterey County Skeptics and Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW).
10:30am – Facepalm – the absurdities of the Truth Movement – Claus Larsen & Steen Svanholm
About: As editors of 911facts.dk, an independent medium which aims to investigate the core claims of the Truth Movement, Steen Svanholm and Claus Larsen have investigated conspiracy theories for more than a decade.
Summary: Conspiracy theorists present their alternative explanations as far better supported than “the official accounts”. In reality, the theories are not only lacking in evidence, they are also absurd and often contradict each other. The lecture will also explain the thinking behind these problems and how the Truth Movement handles the absurdities in an Orwellian manner.
11:00am – Linda Rosa – Attachment Therapy: the most cruel quackery
11:45am – Rob Palmer Critical Thinking 101: Inoculating Yourself Against False Beliefs
Summary: Our brains evolved on the African savannah well enough to allow survival in that unforgiving environment. But our thinking is far from perfect. We are primed to trust the opinions and anecdotes of people we know. We conclude that something is true based on inadequate personal experience, less-than-perfect memory, faulty logic, and a host of cognitive biases. All of this can lead us to believe in things which do not comport with reality, and often results in bad decisions and even harm. In this talk, Rob Palmer will discuss these topics from a skeptical perspective, because understanding our innate cognitive shortcomings can help us think more rationally, better avoid errors, and live better lives.
Rob Palmer is affectionally called The Well-Known Skeptic – find his column for Skeptical Inquirer here.
12:15pm – Kyle Polich – Cryopreservation: a skeptical survey
Summary: Cryogenics are a speculative technology aimed at preserving a dying human body in a way that enables thawing and revival once medical science has discovered a cure. To date, no such revivals have been achieved in human beings. Should we be calling cryogenics “woo”? If I can afford it, what are my odds? Where is Walt Disney’s head? These questions and more will be explored.
Bio: Kyle is the host of the popular podcast Data Skeptic – find more here.
12:45pm – Adrienne Hill – Tic Tok Tics with Teens and the Pandemic
Summary: Since the second wave of the pandemic, a surge of patients with “acute onset tic-like behaviors” have been seen in Calgary and around the world. The headlines in the news have blamed Tik Tok, social media and even the teens themselves for being attention-seeking. Adrienne will discuss what is currently known about these unusual cases.
Bio: Galactic overlord of both time and space within the boundaries of Calgary, Alberta – she is the giver of talks on moose and the superiority of Canadian maple syrup vs Australian maple syrup.
1:30pm – Lunch – hang around and socialize with attendees and speakers
2:00pm – Richard Saunders – International Skepticism in Action – The Great Australian Psychic Prediction Project
Summary: Richard Saunders gives us an overview of the largest survey every undertaken into the question of whether it is possible to see into the future using paranormal powers.
2:30pm– Mano Singham – Why the age of the Earth has oscillated wildly over time
Summary: The age of the Earth seems to be a settled question in the scientific community, But estimates of its age have oscillated wildly in the past, starting with it being considered really old (even infinitely old) to becoming very young (of the order of thousands of years) to becoming sort of old (hundreds of millions of years) to younger again (tens of millions of years) to the current view of it being really old (of the order of billions of years). This talk will look at the interplay of scientific and religious thinking that was driving this fluctuation.
Bio: Mano Singham is a theoretical physicist and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His recent research interests are in theories of knowledge and physics and philosophy. He is the author of four books, the most recent of which is titled The Great Paradox of Science: Why Its Conclusions Can Be Relied Upon Even Though They Cannot Be Proven that was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
3:15pm – Craig Good – Eating Sceptically
Summary: A lot of people worry about eating the “wrong” food. Well-funded campaigns have spent years convincing you that some foods are good, some are bad, and some are downright evil. It doesn’t have to be that way. Craig Good’s book, “Relax and Enjoy Your Food”, uses science and a little common sense to take away all that anxiety. In this talk Craig will discuss persistent myths about food, how to apply science to nutritional decisions, how to identify trustworthy sources of diet information, and how to eat fearlessly and guiltlessly.
Bio: Craig Good spent thirty one years at Pixar (and Lucasfilm before that), and is now an Assistant Professor at the California College of the Arts. He’s guest-hosted and written for the Skeptoid podcast, and has been a guest on The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He has wide-ranging interests that include food and science. When his daughter was diagnosed with anorexia he got an up close look at how important it is to have a healthy relationship with food. As the author of Relax and Enjoy Your Food he’s put on his science communicator hat to untangle the myths that keep us anxious and less healthy than we could be.
3:45pm – Allison Long – Maine Vaccines and GSoW
Summary: Allison will be expanding on her involvement with the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia project – mainly focusing on Maine, USA.
4:15pm – JD Sword – Operation Onion Ring – Or, How to Fool a Grief Vampire
Summary: JD will be speaking about his involvement with the April 2021 sting that caught medium Thomas John hot-reading a group of children 5-12 years old.
JD is a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer focusing on demonic topics