Personality is Not Destiny

Saturday, August 15, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

Personality tests are everywhere, from job applications to Buzzfeed. Do they provide any accurate information, or just random feedback that sounds believable? Chris Long will present a simple, tested tool that can dramatically improve the way you communicate with yourself and others.

Chris is an optimist who cheerfully overestimates the abilities and positive intentions of others. She works as an IT Director and believes that good management is a noble goal. She lives in Lincoln Square with her husband and two awesome cats.

Skeptical Salon: Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality by Patricia S. Churchland

DATE TBD, 2015
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

(This will be the book to read, we’re just not sure about the date yet.)

from Amazon.com:
“What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior. The result is a provocative genealogy of morals that asks us to reevaluate the priority given to religion, absolute rules, and pure reason in accounting for the basis of morality.”

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

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

Skeptical Salon: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thursday, May 28, 2015
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

Bring a snack to share and/or a beverage of your choice, Jennifer and Jeff are hosting yet another Skeptical Salon!

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From Amazon:
“In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation–each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives–and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.”

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Next month’s book will be announced on the Monday evening after the previous Salon. Go vote for your next book here. (You can change your previous votes!)

OF INTEREST: Chicago Science Fest Panel w/ Congressman Bill Foster, Physics PhD

Thursday, May 28, 2015
6:30 PM

Location: Chase Auditorium

Illinois Science Council (ISC) celebrates the 2600th anniversary of the founding of the field of science with a 3-day Chicago Science Fest of brain-stretching programs May 28-30, 2015. All programs are open to the public, located in downtown venues and suitable for adults and high school students. The opening night panel discussion, May 28, will feature Congressman Bill Foster, PhD, and focus on the role of science & tech research in innovation in the region and nation.

Science & Technology Research in Chicago – Challenges, Economic Impact and Future Prospects” – a panel discussion with:

• Congressman Bill Foster, PhD, Physics

• Terry Howerton, CEO TechNexus

• Catherine Woolley, PhD, Neurobiology, Northwestern

• Moderator – Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune

6:30-8:00pm (discussion); 8–9:00pm (reception)

Tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at door. Available at http://IllinoisScience.org

ABOUT THE ILLINOIS SCIENCE FEST:
In 585 B.C., the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus correctly predicted a solar eclipse. His rigorous thinking and advocacy that phenomena are due to natural causes, rather than angry gods, made Thales incredibly influential and dubbed the “father of science.” The day of the eclipse, May 28, can thus be commemorated as the “birthday” of science. Chicago is home to an extraordinary amount of science and technology and so ISC decided to offer a celebration of this significant milestone.

Be a Speaker at Skepticamp!

Is there something skeptic-y that you love so very, very much that you just love talking about it? Perhaps for ten minutes or so? You can be a speaker at this year’s Skepticamp!

You don’t have to be a pro, just willing to present your favorite skeptical topic to the Skepticamp crowd. First-timers are encouraged to apply!

Your talk/topic should be research-able with scientific and empirical data (no pseudo-science, homeopathy, or conspiracy theories, please), and related to skepticism and critical thinking. We’ll ask you for a draft of your presentation two weeks before the event, so you’ve got some time to prepare your best talk.

Your talk should be approximately 10 minutes, and there will be a few minutes for Q&A after each talk. Priority will be given to new speakers with unique topics.

Indicate your interest here by May 1.

The Central Science: The Failure of Chemists to Engage the Public

Saturday, May 16, 2015
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

Why does chemistry seems to lag so far behind the great traditions of public engagement like those in astrophysics, physics, and biology? Chemistry is the keystone of scientific literacy, however there remain cultural and technological challenges in meeting this need. Given its great importance, the resulting public ignorance and disinterest in chemistry yields broad and pervasive pseudoscientific ideas including homeopathy, GMO-phobia, crystal healing, and “organic” foods.

Ben Zalisko is a scientist, atheist activist, and musician from rural, southern Illinois. Primarily focused on the wellbeing of students, he founded chapters of the Secular Student Alliance at Elmhurst College and the University of Chicago. He has enjoyed public debates about religion at U of C, where he is currently finishing his PhD in biochemistry. For the past year, Ben has been producing Sunday Assembly Chicago. He will continue to dedicate his life and career to the broad teaching of science and skeptical values.
You can find him on Twitter @BenZalisko.

Skeptical Salon: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Thursday, April 23, 2015
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

From amazon.com:

“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.”

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

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

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.