“Why do we find polar bears only in the Arctic and penguins only in the Antarctic? Why are marsupials found only in Australia and South America? In a book that Science News called “fascinating and revelatory,” Dennis McCarthy tells a story that encompasses two great, insightful theories that together explain the strange patterns of life across the world–evolution and plate tectonics. We find animals and plants where we do because, over time, the continents have moved, separating and uniting in a long, slow dance; because sea levels have risen, cutting off one bit of land from another; because new and barren volcanic islands have risen up from the sea; and because animals and plants vary greatly in their ability to travel, and separation causes the formation of new species. This is the story of how life has responded to, and has in turn altered, the ever-changing Earth. And it includes many fascinating tales–of pygmy mammoths and elephant birds and of radical ideas by bold young scientists.”
(Please note: there is another book titled Here Be Dragons, it’s by David Koerner and about extraterrestrial life. That’s NOT the book we’re reading this month, so make sure you get the one by Dennis McCarthy.)
Most of us want to make a difference. We donate our time and money to charities and causes we deem worthy. Americans give over $350 billion to charity every year. Unfortunately, our best intentions often lead to ineffective outcomes. How can we maximize the positive impact of our resources? Eric Friedman, author of the book “Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving,” challenges common views on charitable giving and offers practical strategies to improve it, including the best ways to identify high performance nonprofits and the most important criteria for selecting causes to support.
This lecture is free and open to the general public. Paid for by the Unitarian Church of Evanston Endowment Fund and sponsored by Doing the Most Good Group.
From the book’s website:
“If you had to choose between saving one person’s life or lifting a hundred from extreme poverty, which would you pick? What if your choice was between saving a hundred lives or lifting only one person from extreme poverty? How do you compare empowering people through education to reducing suffering from illness or protecting the environment? These are the types of questions many thoughtful donors ask, and they have both moral and practical implications.
“When choosing where to give, it isn’t enough to demonstrate that a nonprofit does good things. Donors interested in improving the world must consider the benefits relative to other giving options, even those that are very different. This is a challenging task, requiring a significant amount of knowledge based on information that is not easily available and controversial judgments. Though many people in philanthropy ignore difficult issues surrounding how to prioritize among multiple good causes, Reinventing Philanthropy puts them front-and-center.
“Readers shouldn’t expect a feel-good book that praises every donor and paints a picture of all charitable giving as equally good, nor should they expect simple answers to difficult questions. Instead, Reinventing Philanthropy is a hard-nosed, critical analysis of the difficult issues that donors must address to make the most of their giving. It will make readers more thoughtful about their giving, and ultimately more effective.”
For February’s Skeptical Salon, we’ll be reading The Knife Man by Wendy Moore. Bring a snack or drink to share as we discuss John Hunter’s legacy.
From Google Books:
“In an era when bloodletting was considered a cure for everything from colds to smallpox, surgeon John Hunter was a medical innovator, an eccentric, and the person to whom anyone who has ever had surgery probably owes his or her life. In this sensational and macabre story, we meet the surgeon who counted not only luminaries Benjamin Franklin, Lord Byron, Adam Smith, and Thomas Gainsborough among his patients but also “resurrection men” among his close acquaintances. A captivating portrait of his ruthless devotion to uncovering the secrets of the human body, and the extraordinary lengths to which he went to do so—including body snatching, performing pioneering medical experiments, and infecting himself with venereal disease—this rich historical narrative at last acknowledges this fascinating man and the debt we owe him today.”
We have an author in our midst! Bill will join us again in February to talk about his newly-published book, The Arrogance of Religious Thought.
“[A] provocative, challenging, and irreverent expose’ of the obnoxious arrogance inherent in all religious thinking: condemning one another to eternal torment, relegating women and gays to second class citizenship, dividing humanity into arbitrary factions, sexual repression, denial of knowledge, promoting delusions of god and the afterlife, upholding phony patriarchal authority, claiming eternal truth without evidence, and child indoctrination. Religion is not good for the human race. We would be better off dropping these bad habits on which we give religion a free pass. We must stop lying to our children that religions are true. Information kills religion and this book is a call for more secular activism to increase the already considerable success of our 21st century New Enlightenment.”
About our speaker: William A. Zingrone is a PhD. Lecturer in Developmental Psychology with passionate research interests in Consciousness and Cognitive Evolution. My driving motivation is to dispel outdated religious based ideas about human nature that are ingrained in the folk beliefs of our modern culture. Father of four, in his 62nd year, hockey fan, information sponge, music lover, out to give religion the drubbing it deserves. Founder, faculty advisor and member of various campus and meetup secular organizations, Illinois chairman of the Secular Coalition for America.
From amazon.com: “Many of our society’s most cherished traditions are actually based on historical accident, the proﬁt motives of a few companies, or the agenda of someone who died long ago. A lot of what we believe and do is bullshit, yet we walk around thinking our way of doing things is inherently correct. Why do we exchange diamond engagement rings? Why is wine so expensive? How does art become “art”? Why do so many non-proﬁts want us to donate cars to them? Why does college cost so much? Why do so many pets die in animal shelters? Why is the world the way it is? Everything is Bullshit, by Priceonomics, is an investigation to ﬁnd the answers.”
Bring your favorite snacks or beverages to share along with your opinions for discussion. See you then!
Our first Meetup of 2017! Same bat time, same bat channel, only Black Rock has completed its metamorphosis into The Rugby Club so things look a bit different. We’re still looking for a speaker… could it be you? Send us a message if you’re interested and available, or know someone who might be.
Location: Wise Owl Drinkery and Cookhouse 324 S. Racine Ave.
It’s Festivus…for the rest of us!
Join Chicago Skeptics in December for our annual Festivus party! The appropriately unadorned Festivus Pole will be prominently featured.* The traditional Airing of Grievances** will be held whenever we think it’s a good time to start.*** Acceptable Feats of Strength**** include thumb wars, staring contests, Rock Paper Scissors tournaments and displays of mental fortitude.***** We may also recount tales of Festivus Miracles.******
Festivus is FREE to attend, but we will be accepting donations to The Human Fund throughout the evening to help cover the costs of this and other great Chicago Skeptics events. Hope to see you there!
If you’d like to support Festivus RIGHT NOW, you can either donate or buy yourself some skeptical swag:
(Unfortunately, donations are not tax-deductible at this time. But they help us keep being able to host great events!)
*Festivus pole is not for dancing, nor for jousting during Feats of Strength.
**Grievances may also be conveyed via Post-It(s) attached to the Festivus Pole. BYOPI.
***Probably sometime between 8 and 9.
****Feats of actual strength are unsanctioned by Chicago Skeptics, the Wise Owl, and probably CPD depending on your level of enthusiasm.
*****Smartphones are disallowed in contests of mental strength. Dumbphones are hilarious.
Kavin Senapathy and Dave Sutherland co-founded March Against Myths (MAMyths) in 2015 with Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel to wield science activism in the name of social justice, especially when it comes to “GMOs.” For too long, myth mongers have saturated minds with pseudoscience myths that instill unfounded fear, and fuel a lobby that keeps technologies out the hands of those who need them. This hurts farmers, the needy, consumers, and the environment. Senapathy and Sutherland will discuss GMOs, MAMyths, and where they go from here.
about our speakers: Kavin Senapathy is a freelance writer, science communicator, and mother of two young children living in Madison, Wisconsin. She believes that critical thinking is key in raising well-rounded children, and that embracing biotechnology is imperative to this objective.
David Sutherland is a Chicago-based artist by profession, vegan & animal rights activist in his free time. As part of his early activism he contributed efforts to anti-GMO causes. With a discovered interest in science and critical thinking he had a change of heart and mind. Now he has a mission and passion to undo those wrongs and demystify the issues surrounding GMOs and biotech. http://www.mamyths.org/