The next Saskatoon skeptics is the pub is Saturday Jan. 29 from 4:00 to 7:00 at the Hose Brew Pub, 612 11th St E, Saskatoon.
The next Saskatoon skeptics is the pub is Saturday Jan. 29 from 4:00 to 7:00 at the Hose Brew Pub, 612 11th St E, Saskatoon.
The Regina freethinkers group (now CFI Regina) has set its next meeting.
As a reminder, our next meet-up is set to take place at 7:00 PM on Thursday, December 16 at the Saskatchewan Science Centre. I look forward to seeing you and your friends there.
This will be the second meeting of our group. We hope to further gauge interest, as well get to know one another.
As a topic, I hope to discuss some of the challenges of the holidays, no matter the extent that we participate. We can share strategies for dealing with this time of year and the common assumption that everyone in Regina is a Christian.
If you’re interested, check out any Point of Inquiry podcast (free on iTunes) recorded just before Christmas any year – especially the ones with Tom Flynn describing his “War on Christmas.”
In related, exciting news, you’ll notice our name as “CFI Regina” at both locations. Despite being a young and unproven group, representatives from CFI Saskatoon and CFI Canada have placed trust in our potential and kindly volunteered their experience and resources in helping us get off the ground. I’m thankful for the assistance they’ve already provided, and I look forward to fruitful relationships with them in the future.
The Regina Freethinker/Skeptic/Atheist/Whatevertheycallit Group meet for the first time Nov. 11. They reported the following from the meeting:
So, in case you weren’t there, we have good news to share:
- Eighteen people showed up to our initial meeting; each one has been invited to this group
- We’ve decided to meet monthly, though a location remains to be determined
- Possible venues include the Unitarian Hall, Abstractions Cafe, and the Saskatchewan Science Centre
- Next meeting is 16 December (we’re going to see how the third Thursday of each month works)
- Activities suggested include films, lectures, and literature discussion
Birth control pills come with a long list of risk factors. This has been a concern for many women. The Star Phoenix recently has a report on a major longitudinal study into the effects of birth control pills. Instead of being harmful, the study indicates that oral contraceptives may actually be beneficial, resulting in a decreased incidence of death and cancer.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal on Friday, followed 46,000 women for nearly 40 years, creating “more than a million woman-years” of observation, according to Philip Hannaford from Aberdeen University, who led the study.
The results showed that in the longer term, women who used oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause, including heart disease and all cancers, compared with women who had never taken it.
But the scientists said their findings may only be true for women who have taken older-style pills rather than those on more modern types of drugs, since their study began in 1968.
Since the study began in 1968 and modern contraceptives are generally considered safer, does that mean that they are even more beneficial? Alternately they generally have lower levels of hormones and thus may be less active and provide less of a benefit. Maybe we will find out in another 20 years.
I went to TAM last year and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps it was a transition year. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) had recently taken over as president of the JREF and Randi had recently been diagnosed with a “serious” illness. The event ran smoothly but seemed to lack energy.
For me, there was far too much emphasis on celebrity and magic and not enough on science and skepticism. Many of the talks were scheduled to be too short for the topic. I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. Perhapse they listened to feedback and have a fantastic lineup this year.
Scheduled to appear:
The God Delusion’s Richard Dawkins (Keynote event)
JREF Founder James Randi
Bad Astronomer Phil Plait
Doubt’s Jennifer Michael Hecht
Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show Head Writer David Javerbaum
Skeptic Society’s Michael Shermer
Center for Inquiry Founder Paul Kurtz
Bullshit!’s Penn & Teller
Mythbuster Adam Savage
Skeptical Inquirer Editor Ken Frazier
Social Scientist and Author Carol Tavris
JREF President D.J. Grothe
Trick or Treatment’s Simon Singh
Renowned Geologist Donald Prothero
Mathematical Gamester Martin Gardner (by Video)
Paranormal Investigator Joe Nickell
Master Magician and “Honest Liar” Jamy Ian Swiss
Mentalist and Alpha Kid Banachek
Evolutionary Scientist and Skeptic Massimo Pigliucci
Steve, Jay, Bob, Rebecca and Evan: The Skeptics Guide to the Universe
Secular Coaltion of America’s Sean Faircloth
UFO Expert James McGaha
Skeptic’s Toolbox host and CSI Fellow Ray Hyman
Point of Inquiry’s Karen Stollznow
Skepticzone’s Own Richard Saunders
Grassroots Skeptics Founder KO Myers
Masala Skeptic Maria Walters
Granite State Skeptics Co-Founder and President Travis Roy
Boston Skeptics’ Maggie McFee
CFI’s Campus Organizer Debbie Goddard
JREF Communications and Outreach Coordinator Jeff Wagg
JREF Program Assistant and Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Founder Alison Smith
Juggler and Bullshit! Producer Michael Goudeau
Wonder-Worker Michael Weber
Skeptical Songster Roy Zimmerman
Perennial TAM Master of Ceremonies Hal Bidlack
CSI Director Barry Karr
Brain Science Podcasts’ Ginger Campbell
Fab Four Live’s John Lennon Steve Craig
Comedian and Magician Mac King
Junior Skeptic’s Daniel Loxton
Penn & Teller’s Pianist Mike “Jonesy” Jones
[Update: a group formed is now CFI Regina, join their meetup http://www.meetup.com/CFI-Regina/]
As far as I know there are no atheist, skeptic or freethinker groups in Regina.
I also know from one or two contacts and the internal blog stats that people are looking for such a group. WordPress lists the search terms people used to get to this blog. Terms like “atheist regina saskatchewan” are a pretty good indication of intent.
If anyone in Regina wants to start a group, or is interested in joining such a group, post a comment. Any post will send me your email address. When I get a few I can put you in contact with each other.
Some of the members of the Saskatoon groups may be able to suggest friends or relatives in Regina and Moose Jaw who would be interested in joining.
It is really easy to get a group started. Someone just has to do it.
The following is an account of PZ Myers lecture at the University of Calgary, according to my fallible memory. I did take copious notes, which upon later inspection turned out to be completely illegible, as is the norm. Oh well …
The friendly free thinkers were out in force at the University of Calgary, quickly filling the large theatre to capacity. There was a woman handing out flyers promoting young earth creationist (YEC) propaganda and misinformation, unfortunately she did not feel the need to actually attend the lecture.
The talk open with some disturbing news from the province of Alberta. Alberta public schools are required to follow the provincial curriculum, however schools are allocated 15% of the day which can be used in any manner. Some schools are using this time to teach creationism nonsense. They are abusing their authority and the minds of the students unfortunate enough to be sent to these schools. PZ’s talk entitled “Science Education: Caught in the Middle in the War Between Science and Religion”, could not be more timely.
PZ started his talk with the important message that science must be secular. Constitutional considerations on the separation of church and state (explicit in the US, Canada not so much) should not be employed to protect the science classroom. If they are employed, then this is a last ditch effort. Rather the focus should be on increasing the public understanding and appreciation of science. As the woman handing out the YEC pamphlets neatly demonstrated, scientific illiteracy is correlated with creationism.
Creationists are masters at swaying public opinion with bogus science, even to the point of earning academic degrees without ever intending to use the knowledge they gained. This wall of shame includes Jonathan Wells, Marcus Ross, Nathaniel Abraham to name a few. And why are these men so passionate? PZ can explain it in one word: religion.
Religion has many advantages in the area of ideas. It is often, falsely, considered as just one more way of understanding the world. It is completely unfalsifiable, always an advantage, and is given undue deference by most of society. This is despite the sheer absurdity of its claims.
People can be moved to violence if this unspoken rule of respect for religion is broken. One gentleman stormed out of the talk after a loud outburst. This kind of passion can lead to quite a distorted morality, as the 18,000 letters PZ received, after desecrating the Eucharist, demonstrate.
Religion needs to be moved back into the private arena. PZ has a wonderful analogy; religion ought to be compared to masturbation, a very private personal practice.
The previous slides may seem disrespectful, and it would be unfortunate if they were interpreted as a gratuitous slap at religion; they are not. They may shock some but hopefully they will also generate new ideas and discussion.
We can and should fight back against the encroachment of organised religion into the public area (case in point the attack on science in Alberta). PZ Myers has these suggestions:
Come out as an atheist, secular humanist, sceptic, or whatever …
Question the role of religion in our society
Blaspheme: my personal favourite. I don’t go out of my way to blaspheme but it is so hard not to. I move a lot of switches on the Sabbath.
There are other ideas such as, volunteering to teach evolution in high school or joining sceptic societies in an effort to increase the public understanding of science.
The first step could be coming out to celebrate Darwin Day Thursday, February 12, 2009 6:30pm – 9:30pm at Rusty Macdonald Branch Library – Auditorium 225 Primrose Drive in Saskatoon.
Hope to see you there.
February 12, 2009 will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin; scientists and educators have been pushing for this day to be known as “Darwin Day”. So why all fuss? Quantum Theory, General Relativity, Germ Theory of Disease, etc. … have both revolutionised our understanding of the universe, and overturned old dogma. But none have received quite as much abuse as Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection. This idea, the most fundamental concept of biology, has been the target of a well organised and unscientific attack, since its inception 150 years ago.
Darwin expected criticism, and did his best, with the knowledge available at the time, to address every conceivable objection, in his remarkable abstract “On the Origins of Species”. Much of the so called weakness of Darwin’s theory, as proposed by creationists, evolution’s most persistent nemesis, are those very same objections Darwin demolished in his abstract. Darwin did invite the reader to review the evidence for his or herself, and the scientific community did exactly that, and they, eventually, agreed that Darwin’s theory had met the burden of proof. It explained the diversity of life better than other competing hypothesis, and more important made solid predictions that could be tested. However the attacks continued, not the reasoned criticism backed by evidence, rather misinformed, deceptive attacks. Now Darwin’s theory stands at the heart the battle between reason and superstition.
Understanding evolution and its critics is to learn the difference between good science and pseudo-science, evidence and conjecture, reason and bias. It was my introduction into the world of scepticism. To celebrate Darwin Day is to acknowledge the man who though years of painstaking observations managed to solve nature’s most notorious puzzle; the origins of new species.
Raise your glass on February 12th to Charles Darwin surely the greatest student of nature that ever lived.
The Antichrist lives among us, preparing for the battle of Armageddon. Sunken stones off the coast of Florida point the way to the lost city of Atlantis. Mayan priests used mysterious crystal skulls to communicate with the spirit world. And the great buildings of Washington, D.C. conceal the symbols of a Masonic master plan.
Crazy ideas? Maybe. But a surprising number of North Americans believe in these and other manifestations of the paranormal – from reincarnation and remote viewing to astrology and alien abduction.
. . .
Produced for VisionTV by some of Canada’s leading independent production companies, the Supernatural Investigator documentaries bring rigorous real-life scrutiny to the murky world of paranormal phenomena. Each half-hour episode follows an expert investigator as he or she searches for the truth behind so-called supernatural happenings.
These investigators – among them futurist Mac Tonnies, archaeologist Joel Palka, science writer and adventurer Jeff Warren, magician Jeremy Bennett, and musician Tara Slone – confront unearthly mysteries with a clear and critical eye: Have extraterrestrials visited this planet? Did vengeful demons hound a Canadian journalist to his death? Why did the U.S. government experiment with ESP during the Cold War? And did the world’s greatest escape artist somehow slip the bonds of death?
The first show is “The Antichrist” Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT
Other than wondering why is this on the predominantly religion based VisionTV, I think this is great. I have seen the Naked Anthropologist on Vision so they have some science. I can not imagine this happening on a US religious channel.