Skeptical Salon: Here Be Dragons by Dennis McCarthy

Thursday, April 27, 2017
7:30 PM

Location: South Loop (address on Meetup)

Our Salon is back in the South Loop for April! We’ll be reading Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth by Dennis McCarthy.

From Goodreads:
“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.)

Lecture: Reinventing Philanthropy

Saturday, April 5, 2017
7:00 PM

Location: Unitarian Church of Evanston

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.

Skeptical Salon: Reinventing Philanthropy

Thursday, March 23
7:30 PM

Location: Edgewater (address on Meetup)

Before the author lecture on April 5, we’ll be reading Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving by Eric Freidman.

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.”

Bring a snack or drink to share!

Skeptical Salon: The Knife Man

Thursday, February 23
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer and Jeff’s Place

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.”