November, 1998

Science on Trial
Hon. Durke G. Thompson
Associate Judge
Circuit Court for Montgomery County

The Hon. Durke G. Thompson, Associate Judge, Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland will talk on historical and modern standards used in federal and state courts for the admissibility of scientific evidence. The talk will cover landmark cases like the Scopes "Monkey Trial," DNA evidence, and "emerging science" on "multiple chemical sensitivity."

The talk will include the background necessary to the understanding of admissibility of evidence in court and how courts receive evidence on special subjects, generally scientifically related. Providing time permits, Judge Thompson will explore to contrasting cases involving emerging scientific concepts and how they were judged in actual court proceedings.

Topics covered will include: What is evidence? What is an expert? How is science given as evidence? What is the role of the Expert (Md Rule 5-702, Md Rule 5-703)? How is science judged to be fit for juror consumption? What is the role of the Court (Maryland Rules of Evidence, Md Rule 5-702, Frye-Reed v. Daubert in Maryland)?

Hon. Durke G. Thompson, since 1994, is Associate Judge for the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, Upper level criminal and civil trial jurisdiction. He is sponsor of "Live Your Dreams" program for education of alcohol and drug abuse, Drug and alcohol prevention program directed at Montgomery County student populations from middle to high school. For the previous 25 years he had been a lawyer in Bethesda, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Law, the University of Maryland, and B-CC High School in Bethesda. }}}

Saturday, November 14, 1998, 2:00pm -- 3:30pm
Montgomery County Library - bethesda Branch
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, Maryland

Everyone Welcome -- Members and Non-members -- No admission charge

Call the NCAS Skeptic Line at 301-587-3827 for further info.


November offers us another Friday, the Thirteenth. At 8 pm on Friday, November 13, Chip and Grace Denman again invite NCAS members and their guests to join them for movies that skeptics can laugh at. They will supply the popcorn and sodas; bring anything else you would like to share. Some suitable flick of aliens or other beings from the '50s or '60s will be on the agenda. Space is limited, so be sure to call the NCAS line by Wednesday, November 11 to reserve a spot and to obtain directions.


Well, we missed Halloween by a few days, but Glenn Sparks, professor of communications, teamed up with national celebrity and cultural analyst Dr. Will Miller to find out what people regard as the scariest movies they've ever seen. The topic was part of a larger research project to understand how media messages affect people. In a random sample telephone survey of 200 respondents in a small Midwestern city, the duo found 44 movies that people deemed particularly scary. The survey, taken last December, found that seven movies accounted for 58% of all nominations. In order of most frequent mentions, Sparks says "The Seven Deadly Films" are:
Friday the 13th
The Shining
Nightmare on Elm Street
The Exorcist
[From a CSICOP Press Release.]


The NCAS web site is now being hosted on a different computer. The slightly modified web address is now The old web address will still work, however. Email to (NCAS officers) or (NCAS discussion group) has not changed.


On Tuesday, November 17, Alan Dressler will speak on RETURN TO THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE: OUR SEARCH FOR PLACE AND PURPOSE in the CAPITAL SCIENCE LECTURES, Carnegie Institution, 1530 P Street N.W., Washington, DC 20077. As we face the 21st century, we again contemplate the question, "Where are we?" both physically and spiritually in this vast universe. NASA's "Origins" program will invite scientists from many fields to piece together the story of our cosmic beginnings and to answer a question that has preoccupied us from the beginning. All lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Call (202) 328-6988 or email Sherrill Berger at for details on attending.

Last Change: November 3, 1998