chicago SkepticampThis year’s event will be on May 31, 2015
at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
in Chicago!

Eventbrite - Chicago Skepticamp 2015

What is a Skepticamp?

Skepticamp Chicago is a free, all-day event consisting of a series of short lectures on topics of skeptical interest. Speakers are everyday local folks sharing their knowledge, and we invite all attendees to ask questions. This informal “unconference” is now in its fourth year, promoting critical thinking and skeptical inquiry in and around Chicago.

Talks at Skepticamp are 10 minutes, with a few minutes for Q&A after each one. Many of our speakers are first-timers, be good to them! We encourage attendees to ask questions after each talk, and ask that speakers be prepared to provide a source for any claim that may be challenged.

This year’s schedule:

(still subject to change)

10:00 Hello! Doors are open, come on in!
10:30 Welcome!
10:40 Benjamin Zalisko
Building Communities: Atheism, Skepticism, Now What?
Doubting gods, debunking nonsense, and calling out BS are important and even fun, but they are not what society and relationships are built on. Though fundamentally flawed, churches have long provided crucial social, moral, and intellectual roles in all sorts of communities. Superseding the positive aspects of religious institutions is not trivial. Building such communities is especially critical for those who need support networks: the impoverished, displaced, students, kids, and even average heathens like us.
11:00 Jairus Durnett
I’m Not Sure That I Believe Your Numbers
Corporate America uses uses data driven decision making to ensure that they are making decisions based on facts and not intuition. So, why doesn’t it work?
11:20 Francis Lawrence
Bid on Truth: What Drives (and Derails) Our Thinking

Our bodies aren’t omniscient Truth detectors and therefore may be less reliable than we (often unwittingly) presume. Follow me through a sample of cognitive research, while I offer a model for how to view ourselves and the errors we make (and deny). The Bid-Ego-Sid Thinking model may serve as a starting point for your friends to question the intellectual abilities, reactions, and axioms they take for granted at the expense of their pursuits of truths.

11:40 Ashley Hamer
Fitness Myths
What really causes post-workout soreness? How do Vibrams Five Fingers shoes compare to standard running shoes? Should women lift weights? This talk delves into common misconceptions about exercise to separate the real science from the bro science.
12:00 Jose Alvarado
Skeptical Diversity – Latino/Hispanic Culture as a Vehicle for Change
Why do we self segregate? Is there value or purpose to treating others differently due to ethnic, social or cultural differences? Why should we embrace diversity and different cultures as vehicles for change? In organizations both large and small, diversity is valued for introducing resiliency yet push back can still be felt. In an increasingly complex world where “every mind is a separate world,” familiarity eases change and brings us back to shared values and a vision of what a secular world might look like.
12:20 LUNCH – The Döner Men food truck
1:40 Jonathan Pritchard
A Mind Reader’s Guide to Critical Thinking
Having studied with James “The Amazing” Randi, Jonny Zavant tours the world as a professional Mentalist. A life-long student of understanding “why we do what we do”, Jonny explains why our thinking sometimes goes awry- and how he leverages this phenomenon during his stage show. Join him for an exploration of the human mind, complete with magical demonstrations. He’s a great speaker, disarmingly funny, and guarantees you’ll be learning AND laughing!
2:00 Brian Edward
From Ordinary to Extraordinary
History would be a wonderful thing – if only it were true.”  This phrase, often attributed to Leo Tolstoy, finds new life in a presentation by Mythicist Milwaukee.  This talk, meant to be as entertaining as it is informative, delves into the lives and legacies of several historical figures.  Have their narratives been exaggerated?  Or did these people even exist at all?  Enjoy some storytelling and a skeptical examination of history — it’s interactive, so be prepared to shout out your guesses!
2:20 Chanell Davis
The Beyoncé Trial: The Basics of Understanding Clinical Data
Does listening to Beyoncé prevent diseases of the mind and body? Its efficacy has been called into question after so-called Beyoncé fans were found to have diseases. Let’s examine.
2:40 Doug McCarthy
“Why, That’s Terrible!”
How To Sell Your Activism (Or At Least Sell Me On It)
It feels like it should be enough to provide the facts of a situation for anyone to agree with your position, but oftentimes that’s not enough. Doug uses his experience as a policy debater to show what five steps are necessary to get buy-in from a reasonable, open-minded benefactor.
3:00 LaVada Luening
Women in Secularism: the Challenges We Face and How We Can Overcome Them Together.
What does the fairer sex bring to the table? Is gender discrimination in the secular movement real? Influential secular women at the local, state, and national level and how they achieved success.
3:40 Arthur Wawrzyczek
The Weak Evidence for Getting Strong
Why do so many brilliant people subscribe to preposterous theories?There seems to be a lack of skepticism in much of the sports world, and weightlifting is no exception. This is most evident in the 5 billion dollar Sports Nutrition market; every week there seems to be a new product claiming to help you lift heavier, recover faster, or increase your endurance. How much evidence is there to support the claims of popular supplements?
4:00 Amaan Laheri
Skepticism within Islam: A Look at the Scientific Miracles of the Quran
The Holy Quran is viewed as a miracle by Muslims because it is filled with information that could not have been known during the time of its revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. The purpose of this presentation is to focus specifically on the scientific information described in the Quran, which was revealed centuries before the scientific method was even put into practice.
4:20 Jamie Bernstein
Bad Infographics
The internet is full of terrible infographics that look beautiful but fail to actually provide useful information. We’ll go over a couple examples of bad infographics and address their flaws.
4:40 Aubrey Henretty
Our Dumb Emotions
Do you think you’re a rational, reasonable person who never lets your emotions influence your carefully constructed arguments? If so, you’re wrong! Come find out why your arguments are not as airtight as you think and how feeling the most important emotion of all — empathy — can help you make those arguments stronger.
5:00 Mark Graunke
The Skeptics Guide to the Friend Zone
You know what it’s about.

Skepticamp is an opportunity for us to get together to learn about different areas of skepticism from our fellow group members. These talks give an opportunity for individuals to delve into particular areas of skepticism…both the tried and true topics as well as those that may not get as much attention in the regular blogs and articles we read. Skepticamps encourage as many people as possible to give a talk…and certainly encourages first-time speakers to try their hand at presenting in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

Skepticamp is FREE – you ‘pay’ by helping to organize the event, by giving a short talk on a topic of skeptical interest demonstrating critical thinking, or simply by offering your help on the day of the event. Since Skepticamp is almost here the planning’s just about done, but interested parties can still help by setting up chairs in the morning, keeping things tidy during lunch, being available as a ‘runner’ during the day, or even just by sharing our posts on Facebook and Twitter!  (Nobody will be turned away because they don’t have a specific job.) Watch our Events pageFacebook and Meetup, shoot us an emailTweet at us, just let us know you’re interested and we’ll find the best way for you to participate.

And since Skepticamp is FREE, it is entirely a participant-supported event. If you’d like to help offset some of the financial costs incurred by the organizers, please consider making a donation below. We’ll also be accepting donations at the event.

If you’d like to help with your wallet, please do!
Donate to Chicago Skeptics!Buy some stuff!

What should you expect at Skepticamp?
Check out videos of some of our previous talks here.
For more info on skepticamps in general, visit:

Questions? Comments? Want to volunteer? Email us here!