Skeptical Salon Movie Night!

Thursday, May 29, 2014
7:00 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

We’re slowing it down a bit for this month’s salon, since we haven’t had a movie night in a while. Please note that we will be starting Skeptical Salon at 7:00 p.m. in case we have a movie that runs over 2 hours so we have ample discussion time.

Right now the Organizers are sorting through a number of movies that would be great for Skeptical Salon; however, if you have any suggestions, we would be more than happy to here them. Please leave the suggestions in the comment thread and please tell us how your suggestion is skeptically relevant. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

Vaccine-preventable­ diseases: Outbreaks, Updates, Antis and Pros

Doses of oral polio vaccine are added to sugar cubes for use in a 1967 vaccination campaign in Bonn, West Germany. "Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F025952-0015, Bonn, Gesundheitsamt, Schutzimpfung" by Gathmann, Jens - This image was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project. The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic representation only using the originals (negative and/or positive), resp. the digitalization of the originals as provided by the Digital Image Archive.. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-de via Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, June 21, 2014
12:30 PM

Location: Black Rock

What’s new in vaccine preventable diseases? The country is currently seeing pockets of measles, mumps and whooping cough. We’ll discuss the medical implications of these diseases that, happily, most people in this meetup have likely never personally experienced.

Additionally, who are the big players in the anti-vaccine movement? What are their arguments and how does science refute them? All this plus anecdotes from the front-line of educating parents about vaccines by our pediatrician-in-residence, Jennifer Newport

Marijuana, Microbes & Milk: Science and Public Health Policy

Saturday, June 14, 2014
10:00 AM

Location: Chicago Cultural Center

The Illinois Science Council is partnering with the Illinois Humanities Council to offer a free public program addressing science topics in the news. Drs. Jack Herrmann and Yvette Johnson-Walker from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne College of Veterinary Medicine will shine a bright scientific light on topics we see in headlines. The goal is to provide “news you can use” by presenting evidence based on the current scientific consensus – which may not jibe with current public health policy. There will be plenty of time for audience questions. (Samples of the discussed products will not be provided.)

Event is FREE and open to the public, but seats are limited, so registration is recommended at

• What are the broad health implications of legalizing marijuana?
• What does the chemical THC in marijuana really do? Is there more or less of it than in the plants of decades ago?
• Are there health benefits and/or risks from consuming raw milk?
• What about risks from exposure to antimicrobials in processed milk?
• What microbes should we be concerned about in our food supply and what can we do about it?

In this lively talk Drs. Herrmann and Johnson-Walker will challenge audience members to abandon common misconceptions related to real-life health issues and be critical thinkers who pay attention to the science. Dr. Jack Herrmann, a veterinarian with a master’s in public health degree, was recently named the 2014 recipient of the Leadership in Public Policy Award from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges for his 20+ years of policy work at the local, state, and federal levels. Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker has a veterinary degree and PhD and leads epidemiological investigations of infectious disease outbreaks on farms as well as training programs to prevent or respond to such outbreaks.

Both speakers are part of the Center for One Health Illinois, a program of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana developed to inform and improve public policy and public health. The philosophy of “one health” recognizes the interdependence of the health and well being of the human population, wild and domestic animals, and the natural environment.

Illinois Science Council is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes science and technology for the adult public through engaging events. ISC develops programs that highlight the research and practitioners of Chicago-area institutions. Public science events – ISC’s and others – are available at

The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, tax exempt, nonprofit organization that has been bringing people together to reflect, think critically, and actively exchange ideas since its founding in 1973. The IHC is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.

No Cosmos this week :(

Okay, guys, so Cosmos isn’t showing this week, but it is Towel Day! If you’re a fan of Douglas Adams and/or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Towel Day is for you. If you know where your towel is, you can celebrate!

Most of us organizer-types are busy for the Memorial Day weekend, but we’d like to remind you that our members are welcome to use our Meetup group to help organize their own event(s). If you’ve got something you’d like to promote, do, or set up, contact us and we’ll see about making you the contact and host for events of interest you’d like to plan. (We do reserve the right to evaluate its skepticality, though.)

Dr. Richard Saul: ADHD Does Not Exist

Monday, May 19, 2014
6:00 PM

Location: Harold Washington Library

Kashush suggested this one, so he’s hosting! Look for him at the library.

Dr. Richard Saul discusses his new book titled ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.

Description straight from the library’s website promoting the event. So!

In this groundbreaking and controversial book, behavioral neurologist Dr. Richard Saul draws on five decades of experience treating thousands of patients labeled with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder—one of the fastest growing and widely diagnosed conditions today—to argue that ADHD is actually a cluster of symptoms stemming from over 20 other conditions and disorders.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 6.4 million children between the ages of four and seventeen have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While many skeptics believe that ADHD is a fabrication of drug companies and the medical establishment, the symptoms of attention-deficit and hyperactivity are all too real for millions of individuals who often cannot function without treatment. If ADHD does not exist, then what is causing these debilitating symptoms?

Dr. Richard Saul is a professor, clinician, researcher, and radio personality. For more than fifty years Dr. Saul has incorporated his clinical and academic experience into the practice of behavioral neurology and development. He served as the chairman of the department of pediatrics at Highland Park Hospital, and the medical director of an HMO in North Suburban Chicago. He has been a Castle and Connolly Best Doctor in Chicago for the past ten years. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Neurology, and the Society for Behavior and Development. He earned his M.D. at Chicago Medical School.

Seating available first come, first served, 385 max. Books may be purchased and the author will sign books at the program’s conclusion.

Over on the Book of Faces, Jamie points out that “Dr. Saul’s theories are not well-accepted by the psychology community and in many circles considered pseudoscientific….Just wanted to make sure everyone was aware going into it. As someone who knows little about psychology and classification of mental illness, I thought his theories sounded plausible the first time I heard them, but I later was assured by actual experts in the field and read articles by experts warning that his theories are not well-accepted in the psych community.

I’m not sure this guy is truly a pseudoscientist but it does seem as though he’s skirting the edge a bit. I think it’s totally fine and fair to hear him out and hear him speak (and may be a good skeptical exercise!) but just want to make sure everyone is aware going in to keep their skeptical glasses on.

Skeptical Salon – The Sober Truth by Lance Dodes, M.D.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

The 12-step Program has become an indoctrinated part of American society, but Dr. Dodes, an addiction specialist, has dared to question its validity using science, so shall we.


AA has become so infused in our society that it is practically synonymous with addiction recovery. Yet the evidence shows that AA has only a 5–10 percent success rate—hardly better than no treatment at all. Despite this, doctors, employers, and judges regularly refer addicted people to treatment programs and rehab facilities based on the 12-step model. 

In The Sober Truth, acclaimed addiction specialist Dr. Lance Dodes exposes the deeply flawed science that the 12-step industry has used to support its programs. Dr. Dodes analyzes dozens of studies to reveal a startling pattern of errors, misjudgments, and biases. He also pores over the research to highlight the best peer-reviewed studies available and discovers that they reach a grim consensus on the program’s overall success. 

But The Sober Truth is more than a book about addiction. It is also a book about science and how and why AA and rehab became so popular, despite the discouraging data. Dr. Dodes explores the entire story of AA’s rise, from its origins in early fundamentalist religious and mystical beliefs to its present-day place of privilege in politics and media. 

The Sober Truth includes true stories from Dr. Dodes’s thirty-five years of clinical practice, as well as firsthand accounts submitted by addicts through an open invitation on the Psychology Today website. These stories vividly reveal the experience of walking the steps and attending some of the nation’s most famous rehabilitation centers. 

The Sober Truth builds a powerful response to the monopoly of the 12-step program and explodes the myth that these programs offer an acceptable or universal solution to the deeply personal problem of addiction. This book offers new and actionable information for addicts, their families, and medical providers, and lays out better ways to understand addiction for those seeking a more effective and compassionate approach to this treatable problem.

Smarter Every Day at the Field Museum

Saturday, May 10, 2014
12:00 PM

Location: Chicago Dawgs/Field Museum

Martin’s hosting this one!

Destin from Smarter Every Day will be holding a meetup near The Field Museum on Saturday at noon. He makes really good science education videos on YouTube. And I figured skeptics would be interested.

The Facebook Event Page

His YouTube Channel

From his Facebook post:

Let’s meet at Chicago Dawgs, a little hotdog stand outside the Field Museum on the same side of the Field Museum as Lake Michigan. We’ll meet at 12:00 Noon, eat a hot dog, and hangout outside for a few minutes. If you’re down with it, I’d like to take some pictures with you guys out front (group pic, selfies, etc). I also brought about a dozen butterfly wing photos that I took. If anyone is interested in going into the museum after that, there is an admission fee of $18 for adults $13 for kids.DINOSAURS AND STUFF! I will be able to walk around with you guys until 1:58 PM, because I have a 2PM meeting with someone at the meeting.

Skeptical Salon: Member’s Choice – Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

Thursday, April 24, 2014
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer’s Place

It’s Member’s Choice this month at Skeptical Salon. This month, we’ll be exploring the latest psychological and neuroscientific research regarding gender.


It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.

There is a WAITLIST for Skepticamp!

Holy foo, everyone! We’re full up!

Skepticamp is going to FILL the Irish American Heritage Center full to bursting next weekend! (or at least to the official capacity of the space.) And there are still more skeptics waiting to get in. So please, please, let us know if you realize you won’t be able to join us next Saturday, and give another interested skeptic the chance to participate.

PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE REGISTERED BUT CANNOT ATTEND, and another skeptic will be very grateful.

If you’re one of those interested skeptics that would still like a spot if it becomes available, we DO have a waitlist, first-come, first-served. Contact us to be added to the waitlist and we’ll release any spots that become available in the order in which you signed up.

If you’re not able to join us, don’t fret! We will be recording the talks, and our videographer has promised as swift a turnaround as he is able so we can share those videos with you.

We’ll see you next week!