SkeptiCamp NYC 2010: Share the apple of knowledge

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The "Final" Schedule for SkeptiCamp NYC 2010

The event is over for 2010. Please check the home page for information about our next event.

If you spot any errors, please let us know!

The opinions of SkeptiCamp's presenters do not necessarily reflect those of its organizers.

Time Session Host Title Description Category
10:00 AM to 10:10 AM Opening Remarks  
10:10 AM to 10:30 AM Gregory Lopez Lost In Translation: Problems in Converting English Into Logic While many skeptics consider themselves as "logical" people, ACTUALLY being logical, in the strictest sense, is very difficult. The goals of this presentation are fourfold:
1) to demonstrate some elementary principles of how to translate English arguments into formal logic;
2) to explore some of the reasons why one would want to translate arguments into formal logic in the first place;
3) to examine some metalogical issues that arise in translation;
4) to provide some resources for further practicing this skill.
The Skeptic's Toolbox
10:30 AM to 11:00 AM Lisa Bauer Skeptics and their Non-Skeptical Friends The goal of this session would be to facilitate a discussion with event participants on the topic of balancing relationships with skepticism. The facilitator would pose questions and participants would share examples of situations they found themselves in where someone they cared for (family, friend, etc.) made a very non-skeptical statement or expressed a non-skeptical position (ranging from the mild, like a friend suggesting Airborne for a cold, to the more extreme, like a family member expressing concern over vaccinating a child with worries of autism). My guess is something like this has happened to nearly every participant in the room, and it would be healing and insightful to share these stories and discuss strategies people use for maintaining the relationship (presuming that is a goal) while still promoting skeptical, critical thought.
11:00 AM to 11:20 AM Yalena Bernadskaya Double-Blinding in Basic Research: Why Does None of Our Data Match? Randomized double-blind studies are the gold standard for clinical research. But what about basic research? Are basic scientific studies that will eventually inform clinical research falling short of the gold standard? Learn how basic science works and what scientists can do to improve it.
11:20 AM to 11:30 AM Stretch Break #1
11:30 AM to 12:00 PM Jacob Dickerman How To Write An Essay How can an idea be presented clearly? How can one be dissected? An essay is as close to a logical proof as you can get within standard English writing forms. Understanding how they are constructed can help a skeptic think through an idea and make sure it is presented in the clearest manner possible.
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Lunch Break  
1:00 PM to 1:20 PM Joshie "This Ex Rabbi is Skeptical of Anyone Who isn't an Anti Semite" A new comedy piece by one of last year's most memorable presenters. Fun, Part 1
1:20 PM to 1:50 PM John Rennie Science and Nonsense in the Martial Arts Training in traditional Eastern martial arts can be highly rewarding, but it is often clouded by mystical, unscientific ideas about "chi," "death touches" and the like. Let a fourth-degree black belt in Japanese karate dispel the woo with a look at the physics and biomechanics that really put the power behind the punches, and a demonstration of breaking. Applied Skepticism
1:50 PM to 2:10 PM Spyridon Condos Mercury and Dental Fillings; Safer than You Think Dental amalgam has come under attack for it's supposed mercury toxicity. Is this concern warranted? It is in actuality one of the safest, longest lasting and most cost effective treatments dentistry provides. It's history, chemistry and future will be discussed.
2:10 PM to 2:20 PM Stretch Break #2
2:20 PM to 2:40 PM Amy Frushour Kelly The Autism-Vaccine NON-Connection A brief overview of the anti-vax movement and the history of pseudoscientific claims about autism.
2:40 PM to 3:00 PM Liz Gaston Skepticism on TV An interactive discussion about the presence (and absence) of skepticism and science in popular television. Discussion topics will include notable examples of the appearance of skepticism and credulity on TV, portrayal of scientific characters, and whether skepticism really matters in the context of entertainment. In the Media
3:00 PM to 3:20 PM Michael Rosch Skepticism and YouTube Skeptics have established a very strong presence on social networking sites, blogs, and podcasts. And yet there are some major undeniable gaps we're seeing on YouTube. Even when you scroll through the text comments of particularly egregious videos on some of these topics, informed challenges to the videos' content can be scarce. I intend to briefly discuss why YouTube is an important battleground in the fight against pseudoscience, particularly for those skeptics who wish to get more involved but haven't figured out yet how best to help the movement.
3:20 PM to 3:40 PM Stretch Break #3
3:40 PM to 4:00 PM Trevor Perry "Flatulence as a cause for evolution!" To become an evolved human being, we are told that we must undergo physical, mental and emotional change. Trevor will tell a story of how he learned he was ready for the next stage of human evolution when his flatulence was pointed out by those who would seek to guide him to his future. Not true, but quite hilarious...
(Editor's Note: This is actually a performance piece about a real-life cult.)
Fun, Part 2
4:00 PM to 4:30 PM Michael De Dora What Science Can -- And Cannot -- Say About Religion The centuries-old relationship between science and religion has been a tenuous one, at best. Many people – religious and non-religious – think science and religion are compatible, and try to find intellectual space in-between the two. Others argue that science and religion represent two conflicting approaches to belief and knowledge, and more generally, life. In this discussion, Michael De Dora will weigh such questions as: What is science? What can it say about religion? Does science demand atheism? Or make atheism at least seem more reasonable? And what are the limitations of science. What can't science say about religion? Michael De Dora is executive director at the thinktank Center for Inquiry in New York City. Beyond the Empirical
4:30 PM to 5:00 PM Scott Berjot-Stafiej Skeptuality - A Skeptical Spirituality As a skeptic and a secularist, I have always been bothered by the fact that those who believe in a supernatural seem to have a monopoly on the so-called "spiritual" experience. While the word "spiritual" does typically infer other-worldliness, spiritual experience - when stripped of woo and ideology - falls directly in the realm of the natural (what, after-all, does not?). I have often had the feeling that there is an entire ocean of experience from which skeptics are precluded based on arbitrary definition and our own fear of fuzzy-thinking. This presentation will attempt to dive into those subjective spiritual waters through, what I hope will be, rational, unambiguous discourse.
5:00 PM to 5:10 PM Stretch Break #4
5:10 PM to 5:30 PM Drew Hermann Atheism and Meaning of Life Given that we are all in a place where we dedicate ourselves to Atheism, we are left godless and with no afterlife or goals to achieve this afterlife. I'm often thinking about what I'm "REALLY" doing with my life and get lost in thought; I'd love to get other peoples candid opinions on this issue and others such as: How do we find meaning in everyday life? Do we feel there EVEN IS meaning? How do we strive to live/learn/work when the ultimate conclusion is death? I would like to moderate a casual discussion with some ideas from out educated brethren to help spur discussion. I always found that this is a great conversation to have with Atheists while being in a forum of intelligent conversation. This is also a great change of pace from the normal "Insert Witty Titled Science" presentation that I have come across throughout the skeptic world.
5:30 PM to 5:50 PM Mitchell S. Lampert Fun with Boolean Logic Boolean logic sounds like it might fly in the face of skepticism: It posits that values are either completely "true" or "false", with no "gray areas" in between. But, it can be fun to work with! If you pile enough Boolean logic gates together, in the right way, you can solve just about any problem! (The evidence is in the computer you are using, right now!) Though, it often takes surprisingly few of them to solve certain seemingly complex challenges. Perhaps we can gain some exercise in finding out how, after an introduction to the topic and some tools that we can play with.

NOTE: Since Mitchell is the lead organizer for SkeptiCamp NYC, his session will be scheduled for last, and will only go on if there is time left for it. If the day runs late, his presentation might get cut out entirely. He doesn't really mind, though.
Extra Credit
5:50 PM to 6:00 PM Closing Remarks  

We might have a short trivia contest take place after all the sessions, if there happens to be time for it.
Also, if time allows, we will have a few musical interludes by Hai-Ting Chinn, before or after some of the breaks.

Due to personal matters, Anwar Harper had to cancel his session.

Contact us with questions or comments: