Quantum Nonsense with Matt Lowry, the Skeptical Teacher

Saturday, April 18, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

Have you ever been talking to a friend who starts going on about how great a movie “What the Bleep?!” was because it proved water has feelings? Or perhaps a family member saw a show where Deepak Chopra explained that they could balance their checkbook and achieve financial security using quantum jumping? Let’s face it, quantum physics is both fascinating and confusing, and many pseudoscientists and charlatans play upon this fascination and confusion to peddle all manner of nonsense to the unwary. Come to this talk in order to learn more to help your family and friends separate quantum fact from fiction.

Matt is a high school and college physics teacher professor with a strong interest in promoting science education and critical thinking among his students and the population in general. He is someone who believes in Carl Sagan’s adage that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

If you are interested in reading him expound upon various topics related to skepticism, science, and education, check out his blog, The Skeptical Teacher.

Skeptical Salon: Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox by Gareth Williams

Thursday, March 26, 2015
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

From amazon.com:

Angel of Death is a lively and powerful account of our battle against smallpox, the only disease that mankind has successfully eradicated from the planet. By weaving previously unrecorded voices in with the personal experiences of colourful historical figures such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Edward Jenner, Gareth Williams brings alive one of the most exciting success stories in the history of medicine. His book also gives original and engaging insights into the anti-vaccination campaigns which remain active today, and into the many unlearned lessons of smallpox. Angel of Death will appeal to all those moved by the excitement of discovery and stories of people fighting against adversity, and to anyone interested in history or medicine.”

As usual, please feel free to bring snacks and/or beverages to share.

(Vote here for NEXT month’s Salon book!)

Skepticamp Planning Meeting

Saturday, March 7, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

Do you want to help plan this year’s Skepticamp? The correct answer is “yes!” We’re still early in the planning stages (we still need a venue!), so come on down and help make a great event!

Tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in June, we’re looking for speakers, planners, and attendees with opinions. Bring yours along to Black Rock on the 7th, and we’ll make this year’s Skepticamp great. (What’s a Skepticamp, you ask? Click this way…)

The spirit of Skepticamp is that everyone contributes in some way. Since we know that not everyone is able to give a talk or run the show or help move chairs, “help” can also include making suggestions, offering opinions, joining the planning committee, providing feedback, or even just making a donation to help offset the costs involved in an event of this size.

If you can’t make it but still want to help, let us know and we’ll keep you in the loop.

Skepticamp Planning and Ideas Day

Saturday, February 21, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

Do you want to be a part of this year’s Skepticamp? Of course you do! Tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in June, we’re looking for speakers, planners, and attendees with opinions. Bring yours along to Black Rock on the 21st, and we’ll make this year’s Skepticamp even more amazing than before. (What’s a Skepticamp, you ask? Click this way…)

…and if you don’t want to help with Skepticamp, Jairus will still be presenting Skeptic News for your edification and entertainment so you should come hang out anyway.

Since Skepticamp is FREE, it is entirely a participant-supported event. The spirit of Skepticamp is that everyone contributes in some way. Since we know that not everyone is able to give a talk or run the show or help move chairs, “help” can also include making suggestions, offering opinions, joining the planning committee, providing feedback, or even just making a donation to help offset the costs involved in an event of this size.

So how can you help? I’m glad you asked! Here’s just a few of the roles we’ll be looking to fill:
Clever opinion havers: A very important position. We need to know what you like! What you don’t like! How we can improve from last year!
Logical planning committee members: Do you want to help with the event but not in public? We have space for you! There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into Skepticamp for helpful folks who don’t necessarily want to be in any spotlight, ever.
Connected venue suggestors: While the IAHC has been great to us over the last couple of Camps, we’ve outgrown their Fifth Province space and had to waitlist people last year. Sadness! We’re looking for something similar to what we had there, but BIGGER.
Smart speakers: The bread and butter of Skepticamp! We need knowledgeable folks to present their expertise in a series of short, 10-to-15-minute talks.
Helpful setup and teardown crew: Interested in helping out on the day of the event? That’s super important, and we appreciate you taking the time out of your day to “work.” Just basic stuff like setting up for lunch and keeping things organized, we generally have so many offers of help that everyone’s job is small enough to enjoy the whole day.
Amazing speaker wrangler(s): The essential stage manager of the whole show, our speaker wranglers keep things running smoothly (and on time!) throughout the day.
Super-crucial A/V team: Make sure that the speakers are heard, slideshows are displayed, and there’s a recording of the day for posterity! Some equipment may be available depending on the venue.
Go-getting publicity/fundraising: We don’t seem to have much trouble generating interest, but we gotta make sure people KNOW about Skepticamp so they come! And fundraising may come up since we’re growing.

I’m sure there’s some crucial job that’s missing from this list… so yes, we need your help! Even if you think we’ve got things covered, we can always use more input. If you’re interested, come help kick off our Skepticamp planning, shoot us an emailTweet at us, send smoke signals, whatever’s clever.

Help make a great Skepticamp. We have the technology. We can make it even better than it was. Better, stronger…okay, maybe not faster, but you get the gist.

OF INTEREST: Spirits of the Midway – The History and Science of the Carnival

Friday, February 13, 2015
9:00 PM

Location: Salvage One


Step right up for an event like no other! Experience new sensations! Try your hands at feats of skill! See a man defy steel, glass, and even fire! Or just sit back and watch as our performers contort their bodies for your viewing pleasure!

Celebrate the launch of the Illinois Obscura Society and discover the science behind the sideshow as we come together to toast Illinois’ curiously wonderful past and present. Illinois has a rich and storied history – what better way to explore than with our take on a classic Carnival Midway, like the very one that was invented just a few miles from our event location? In conjunction with Enjoy Illinois we are proud to present an evening of fun and frivolity highlighting the science and history behind the carnival and the many wonders that make Illinois such a uniquely special place to be.

Our Midway will feature side-show attractions, live music, a frightening dark ride, displays of local curiosities and culture, and so much more. Headlining the evening will be the unique and talented Thom Britton of FreakShow & Tell. Not only will he defy razor sharp glass, steel spikes, fire and electricity, he’ll explain how it’s done and show how YOU can perform these wonders yourself.

Open Bar by Frankfort Spirits - In a nod to Illinois’ reaction to prohibition, our special selection of locally produced beverages will flow freely as part of your admission fee!

This event is strictly 21+

Questions? Email jeff@atlasobscura.com

ADVANCE TICKETS REQUIRED. Purchase tickets here.

Friday, February 13, 9:00 – Midnight
Prices will rise, so buy your tickets now!
Price includes all activities and drinks.
Location: Salvage One
1840 West Hubbard St
Chicago IL 60622
This event is 21+; please bring your I.D.

OF INTEREST: How the Body Knows Its Mind

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
6:00 PM

Location: National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago

Illinois Science Council is hosting Dr. Sian Beilock, of University of Chicago, for its first program of 2015 at a cool new science museum. Dr. Beilock will talk about her research in psychology and her new book, “How the Body Knows Its Mind” about how our body and our surroundings affect how we think, learn, and behave. Simple actions can have big effects on our ability to learn, perform and feel our best – we just have to know what they are.

Dr. Beilock’s talk will be at the new National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago, a unique space in the Loop that enhances access to scientific data through large-scale digitization projects.

This program is free but seating is limited so registration is required at http://BrainScience.eventbrite.com.

Skeptical Salon Suggestion Soiree

Thursday January 22, 2015
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

Since we’ve all been busy reading the new books we’ve been given as holiday gifts, we haven’t chosen a book for the January salon! We’re still having our party, though, and we want your ideas. Audience participation!

Bring your suggestions for interesting, skeptically-related books we could read in the coming months, and we’ll see what we can (at least sort of) agree on. There will, of course, be snacks and drinks and interesting conversation; your contributions to all three are very welcome.

First Meetup of the New Year!

Saturday, January 17, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

As a member of our Meetup group, you know that we like to ask new members if they’re alarmed by the state of scientific knowledge among the general population in America. Well, are you? And do you want to know how you can help fix that? Join us on Saturday when Monica Metzler of the Illinois Science Council will tell us all about how WE can do more… FOR SCIENCE!

Although her formal science training ended with high school chemistry, Monica Metzler is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Illinois Science Council. She is a huge proponent, and consumer, of science in Chicago. Her legal education and experience in the public policy sector has convinced her that anyone can be a successful advocate for a cause and influencer of social policy.

Monica will talk about the explosion of science options in the U.S. and in Chicago in recent years and share a variety of ways in which non-scientists can have a positive influence on science and public policy.

Before Monica’s talk, Jairus will be presenting Skeptic News to update you on everything you might have missed while you were busy drinking eggnog over the holidays.

Chicago Skeptics’ Annual Festivus Party

Saturday, December 20, 2014
7:00 PM

Location: Union Park Lounge

It’s Festivus for the rest of us!

There will be appetizers, an aluminum pole, and of course, the mandatory airing of grievances. Come for the holiday spirit, stay for the [mental] feats of strength, because Festivus isn’t over until someone gets pinned!

We will also be accepting donations to The Human Fund aka Skepticamp 2015. The technicolor donation bucket will be making its appearance.

Please RSVP on our Meetup page by December 18, 2014, so Union Park can accommodate us as efficiently as possible.


Marcus, our Master of The Mental Feats of Strength, will be coming up with trivia challenges for all those daring to participate! Your cheat sheet can be found here. Trivia will start around 8:00 p.m. Come prepared, come rational!