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NCAS Monthly Lecture Topics                                                                            HOME

The following table lists all public NCAS lectures from the most recent back to the origins of NCAS in March of 1987.  There are generally no lectures during July and August each year.

January 2005 Neil Inglis discussed the life of Michael Servetus, a physician by day and a fanatic sectarian by night who was burned at the stake in 1553.
December 2004 Professor Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University discusses "Crazy ideas in science"
November 2004 Dr. Walter Rowe of George Washington University discussed the Salem witch trials of 1692-93.
October 2004 Toronto science journalist Dan Falk gave a talk on "The universe on a T-shirt: The quest for the theory of everything," which describes the current quest in physics to unify the theories of electro-magnetism, nuclear forces, quantum mechanics and gravity into one encompassing theory of physics.
September 2004 Trauma Society: Meaning and Uses of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Sally Satel, M.D.
June 2004 A pleasant NCAS social on Lake Barcroft in Falls Church, VA at the home of NCAS member Curtis Haymore.
May 2004 Dr. Roger Bates, a Fellow of the International Policy Network, spoke on "Malaria and AIDS: Countermeasures in the developing world." (Mostly on what is the science surrounding the banishment of DDT for malaria control.)
April 2004 Good news and bad news: What the public knows and believes about science -- Melissa Pollak, National Science Foundation
March 2004 2004 Annual NCAS Spring Weekend Workshop: Art becomes Reality, Leesburg, VA
February 2004 University of Maryland Honors Presentations: Heather Keels -- "Pseudoscience & Skepticism in Journalism", John Mularski -- "Cold Fusion"
January 2004 Prof. Jim Starr spoke on "Exhumations: the good, the bad, and the ugly."
December 2003 Susan R. Paisner spoke on "A hard look at the DC sniper inivestigation" - the series of random murders that occurred in the Washington DC area in 2002.
November 2003 Marvin Zelkowitz spoke on "Understanding Biblical (In)Accuracy," which explained a theory based on current archaeological evidence that the bible is incorrect and that kings David and Solomon never existed.
October 2003 Walter Rowe discussed "The case of the Tichborne Heir," an interesting case study in the persistence of a false belief system in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence.
June 2003 Lucky Day: National Capital Area Skeptics Friday the 13th Superstition-Free Celebration Featuring close-up magic by Brian "The Lies of Brian" Morton. Informal get together from 6-8pm at the Mayorga coffee bar in Silver Spring, Maryland.
May 2003 Chris Wanjek, Science Journalist, spoke on "Bad Medicine: Health Myths and Quack Alternative Medicine"
April 2003 Tom Napier of the Philadelphia Association of Critical Thinkers (PhACT) spoke on "How to convince a skeptic."
March 2003 Dr. Ray Hyman presented a full-day workshop on "The Psychology of "Psychic" Readings: Theory, Practice and Showbiz of Talking to the Dead."
February 2003 Dr. Stephen Groft, Executive Director and Geraldine Pollen, Senior Program Analyst spoke on "A report on recently-concluded work by the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (WHCCAM)"
January, 2003 "Dead Cats in the Science Classroom" by Jim Giglio, Former science teacher and NCAS Board Member. How should teachers use time productively when an enthusiastic student drags an oddball pseudoscientific notion through the classroom door and wants to take up class time with it?
December,2002 Dr. Stuart Jordan, NASA solar physicist, spoke on "Hot Topics: Global warming, Solar physics & Political choices."
November, 2002 Conflicts of interest in alternative medicine by Chris Mooney, journalist
October, 2002 Walter Rowe talked about crime on TV: What the networks get right and what they get wrong.
September, 2002 Friday the 13th Bash at the Denmans - a superstition-free informal get-together.
May, 2002 Fred Kourmadas spoke on Science and Chiropractic
April, 2002 Skepticism 2002: Beyond the basics -- Weekend workshop in Harpers Ferry WV (Special speakers James Randi and Bob Park)
March, 2002 A survey of questionable medical devices by Mark Banash
February, 2002 The complexity of applying evidence-based principles in implausible domains by Dr. Wayne Jonas, former director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at NIH. (Slides from talk)
November, 2001 Arthur Allen talked about the childhood vaccine controversy.
October, 2001 Dr. David Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service discussed the role of his organization as an interface between the media (principally newspapers), policy makers in government and science. He discussed his book "It ain't necessarily so."
June, 2001 NCAS Social
May, 2001 NCAS Weekend - "Understanding belief" at the Hampton Inn, Winchester, VA.
April, 2001 Mark Banash spoke on pseudoscience and the U.S. patent process.
March, 2001 Unfortunately meeting was cancelled. Speaker ill.
February, 2001 Skepticism and Citizenship - Professor Steve Frantzich, Department of Political Science, U.S. Naval Academy, discussed his book "Citizen Democracy: Political participants in a cynical age."
January, 2001 "Eating Candy for Longevity and other Toxic Sciences" by Dave Cragin and R. Jeff Lewis discusses how a reasonable person makes sense of the constantly conflicting news stories on health.
December, 2000 Joel Achenbach, reporter for the Washington Post, spoke about his book "Captured by aliens."
November, 2000 Howard Fishman talked on "Junk Science and the Munchausen by Proxy empidemic."
October, 2000 Chip Denman spoke on "Post Mortem Statistics: When the data arrives DOA."
September, 2000 Carol Diament talked on "In the counsel of the wicked" - her suit against two recovered memory therapists in Pennsylvania
June, 2000 NCAS spring picnic at the Denmans'.
May, 2000 Physicist Bob Park of the University of Maryland talked on the topic of voodoo science.
April, 2000 Paul Sledzik, Curator of the National Museum of Health and Medicine spoke on VAMPIRES: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LEGEND
March, 2000 Dr. Bruce A. Fuchs, an immunologist at NIH, will talk on "From Tabloids to Textbooks: How Americans learn about science."
February, 2000 Sue Taylor of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation talked on "Child Abuse: Pseudoscience, false memory, and false accusations."
January, 2000 William McDonald, National Science Foundation Elementary School Science Project Coordinator discussed how public school science curricula are developed.
December, 2000 Y2K Finally arrives - Marvin Zelkowitz of the University of Maryland discussed the Y2K bug and other probably events on 01/01/00 with respect to society, cults, religion and the media. (PDF slides of talk)
November, 1999 Allison Willcox from the National Museum of Natural History explored the religious and cultural motivations for mummification in ancient Egypt.
October, 1999 Best Western, Leesburg, VA. -- The National Capital Area Skeptics presented a full-day program that examined investigations of the spirit realm, from the 19th century to present day. (Ghostbusting 101)
September, 1999 Special meeting on September 25: "Mathemagics - The Art of Mental Calculating" -- Dr. Arthur Benjamin, Professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and professional magician, is faster than a speeding calculator!
September, 1999 Inquiry Or Inquisition? The Religious Right's War on American Values, Intellectual Freedom and Common Sense by Rob Boston, Assistant Director of Communications, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
June, 1999 Spring cookout social
May, 1999 The 1999 NCAS Weekend "Millennium Madness" was held May 8-9 at the Sheraton Inn, Fredericksburg, VA
April, 1999 Sean O'Neill, a certified psychotherapist, discussed Hypnosis: Myths and Science.
March, 1999 Jim Giglio discussed how simply checking the facts resulted in a case of repressed memories to be discounted as false.
February, 1999 "UFOs are real...Flying Saucers are not!" - Prof. Dave Theison (University of Maryland Department of Astronomy) gave a brief look at the UFO phenomenon and its impact on American culture.
January, 1999 Meeting cancelled due to ice storm. Talk rescheduled for March 1999
December, 1998 Portions of a recent ABC TV news special "The Power of Belief" were shown to illustrate differing approaches of skeptics and to stimulate discussion of the merits and drawbacks of these approaches.
November, 1998 Hon. Durke G. Thompson, Associate Judge, Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland talked on historical and modern standards used in federal and state courts for the admissibility of scientific evidence.
October, 1998 Mike Epstein from the Department of Chemistry at Hood College talked on "Soul Searching: The Scientific Quest for Life After Death"
September, 1998 Stephanie Hall from the Library of Congress talked on "Ghostly Legends" from Maryland's Eastern Shore.
May, 1998 Professor Owen Thompson of the University of Maryland discussed critical thinking and the public confusion surrounding the science and rhetoric of global warming.
April, 1998 On April 6, at 8pm WDCA/UPN (Channel 20 in Washington) aired: "Danger in Our Skies: The New UFO Threat." The meeting discussed how to protest such credulous mass media broadcasts and publications.
March, 1998 Weekend Workshop -- How to be a citizen Skeptic, Solomons, MD.
February, 1998 Dr. David Murray presented a talk exploring Native American creation stories, their value, their limitations, and the challenge these alternate cultural forms pose to Western empirical disciplines, such as history.
January, 1998 Eugene Ossa discussed the history and use of Tarot cards in Europe.
December, 1997 Walter Rowe talked on the "Star in the East," giving various explanations for the Star of Bethlehem as described in the Gospel of Matthew.
November, 1997 Laura Slaughter talked on "Selecting the best information sources (on the web): How to judge credibility."
October, 1997 Marv Zelkowitz from the University of Maryland discussed the "Bible Codes," hidden messages that predict the future that are "hidden" in the Bible.
June, 1997 Spring cookout social at the Denmans
May, 1997 "Freudulent" follies and manipulated memories -- Howard Fishman will discuss the case against satanic social work and pseudoscientific psychology. He will address the parallel phenomena of child abuse hysteria, revealing impotent leadership in the fields of mental health and child protection.
April, 1997 Video of the recent A&E show: "Scams, Schemes & Scoundrels" hosted by James "The Amazing" Randi. Randi takes us on a tour of famous scams and con-artists.
March, 1997 Fake! Walter F. Rowe, Dept. of Forensic Sciences, GW University, discusses how photographs can be analyzed and identified as fakes. What manipulations in front of the lens (rather than computer manipulation later) are used to create fake pictures.
February, 1997 Dr. David Wyndham Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) will discuss "Difficult Conception: The Confusing Story of Breast Cancer Risk and Induced Abortion."
January, 1997 Todd Robbins (the master of ceremonies/medicine show pitchman for The Big Apple Circus) will be speaking on "From the Bally to the Blowoff: The Facts and Frauds of the American Sideshow."
November, 1996 Put a skeptic to work -- a general work session to prepare a mailing and a discussion of NCAS goals. The video "Cane Toads" is also being shown.
October, 1996 Complementary and Alternative Medicine -- William D. Wurzel, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, D.C., will present an overview and lead audience discussion of complementary and alternative medicine.
September, 1996 Expecting the unexpected, Chip Denman, University of Maryland Statistician -- Ever have a weird coincidence that seemed so unlikely that you were tempted to call it psychic? University of Maryland statistician Chip Denman will discuss the way we perceive and misperceive chance events, and the role of mathematical thinking in the scientific process.
June, 1996 Karate: Reality versus Hollywood, Ed Garrasi, Sensei: The lecture will examine the differences between traditional karate, self-defense and Hollywood karate while focusing on how magical thinking, common misconceptions, qualified reciprocation and systemic inbreeding have brought the public to a general misinterpretation of karate.
April, 1996 Illusions & confusions: Magic, Science and Why We Get Fooled: -- Chip Denman -- (A special program for Children ages 8-12 and their Parents) How can you encourage a child's natural curiosity while fostering a healthy skepticism? How can kids be challenged to think critically about weird science, superstitions and magical beliefs?
March, 1996 Here We Go Again: The Campaign to Include Creationism in the Public School Science Curriculum, Deanna Duby, Director of Education Policy Research, People For the American Way
February, 1996 The Science Fiction of UFOs -- Robert P. Swiatek, Fund for UFO Research; The reaction of most scientists and academicians to the subject of UFOs has been strikingly consistent for almost 50 years. Condescension tempered with disgust, of the type once levelled against Orville and Wilbur Wright when it came to flying. A remark noting the ignorance of the populace with regard to meteorological and astronomical phenomena may be thrown in for good measure. Yet the facts seem to belie a casual dismissal of the UFO puzzle and to argue for the existence of unknown flying objects in this nation's skies.
January, 1996 History is flawed: Exhumations Prove It -- James Stars, George Washington University; This talk will discuss how forensic examinations of exhumed bodies of famous people have changed our understanding of history.
December, 1995 Panel discussion on creationist challenge to teaching scientific evolution in the schools. Joint meeting with Washington Area Secular Humanists. Panelists -- Doug Barylski, Richard Laterell, Jim Giglio, and Doug McNeil
October, 1995 Who wrote the Bible's "5 Books of Moses?" -- A linguistic and historical investigation -- Marvin V. Zelkowitz, University of Maryland
September, 1995 Common Creationism Arguments and How Scientist Counters Them -- Dr. Edward Max, Molecular Biologist
August 1995 Maharishi Effect Claim -- Barry Markovsky, Dept. of Sociology, U. of Iowa, Discussion of claims by researchers at Maharishi International University of extensive evidence for the claim that groups practicing advanced TM techniques have profound, direct, and only beneficial effects on societies -- lowering crime, diminishing wars, reducing auto accidents, and making people feel better in general.
June 1995 Facilitated Communications
May 1995 Annual Meeting. Discussion of plans for 1995-96
April 1995 The Rosicrucians: Our Secret Masters? -- Richard Dengrove, Librarian for the Food and Consumer Service of the Department of Agriculture.
March 1995 When Scientists fool themselves -- Robert L. Park, Dept. of Physics, University of Maryland
January 1995 Exploding planets and non-exploding universes (a multimedia presentation) -- Tom Van Flandern
November, 1994 Cult Awareness Week at the University of Maryland, co-sponsorship of NCAS. Meetings (free and open to the public) on November 15 (7-8pm) and November 17 (2-4pm) in the Hoff Theather of the Stamp Student Union on the College Park campus.
November 1994 Steffi Rausch, University of Maryland- College Park: "Cult Awareness" -- Educating the community on mind-control techniques used by cults.
October 1994 Lee R. Abramson, Nuclear Regulatory Agency: The Challenger accident and quantitative literacy: A challenge for the schools
September 1994 Walter F. Rowe, Department of Forensic Sciences, G W University School daze: Looking Critically at the (Portland OR) African American baselline essays
June 1994 Annual meeting: Discussion of 1994-1995 plans
May 1994 William Corliss: Cataloging Anomalies
April 1994 John Spencer: Office of Alternative Medicine, NIH (Role of the Office of Alternative Medicine)
March 1994 Roger Nelson: Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (Research on anomalous physical effects on sensitive engineering devices and anomalous information transfer in communication experiments)
February 1994 Communicating Skepticism: 2nd annual NCAS weekend workshop (How to communicate science and rational thinking, from lunchtime conversations to calls from the press)
January 1994 James Alcock and James Randi: Investigating Extraordinary Medical Claims (Investigating Qi-Gong and more)
December 1993 Jon Weber: What are the Creationists Saying? (How should skeptics react to creationist claims?)
November 1993 Joe Himes: A Walk on the Wild Side (A look at past and present claims of the paranormal)
October 1993 Chip Denman: Illusion, Delusion and Data (A statistician looks at the way we look at data)
September 1993 Arthur Yellin: Quacking UP (Health Fraud)
June 1993 Walter Rowe: Psychic Detectives: Without a Clue (Investigating Psychic Detectives)
May 1993 Greg Barr: Contact: Cultures of the Imagination (An academic simulation of contact between humans and extraterrestrials)
March 1993 Chip Denman: If the Sprit is Willing. A brief history of spiritualism (a look at the attempts to scientifically validate the claims of life-after-death offered by the seances of the 19th century)
February 1993 Within Reason: Tools and Applications of Critical Thinking - 1st annual NCAS weekend workshop.
January 1993 Stephen Braude: Taking Physical Mediums Seriously (Presenting the case that reports of the Spiritualist mediums at the turn of the century represent some of the best evidence in support of the existence of psychokinesis and psychic phenomena)
November 1992 Harold Sharlin: The Emeritus Foundation (Improving science education)
October 1992 Bob Fellows: Mind Control and the Cults (How to resist manipulators from cult leaders to pesky salespeople)
September 1992 Joe Himes: Secrets of Skeptical Thinking (A critical tour through tabloid tales and juicy journalism)
July 1992 Mike Epstein: Blood, Shroud, and Tears: Science Investigates Miracles (What does science make of saintly blood that liquifies, of holy burial shrouds, and of tears that fall from icons?)
June 1992 Walter Stewart and Ned Feder: The Baltimore Fiasco: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud (Investigating scientific fraud)
May 1992 Weston Kosova: Crocodile Tears (A newspaper journalist investigates weeping statues in a Virginia church)
April 1992 Curtis Mailloux: Transcendental Meditation -- TM or BS (The former chairman of the Washington Transcendental Meditation Center gives an insider's view of mind control)
March 1992 Jim Filliben: Basketballs, Funnels and Better Mousetraps (A statistician looks at the art and science of experimental design)
January 1992 Chuck Shepherd, John Kohut, and Roland Sweet: News of the Weird (Stranger than fiction news from the experts)
December 1991 James Randi: Science, Magic and the Paranormal
November 1991 Dorothy Knowlton: Experimental Design: The Arlington Approach to Better Thinking (Tence Schools)
October 1991 Robert Hicks and Randy Lockwood: Satanic Panic: Demonic Cults, Animal Sacrifice, Kidnapping, and Ritual Murder (Two experts present skeptical views)
September 1991 Joel Achenbach: Why Things Are (A Washington Post staff writer talks about reporting science to a lay audience)
June 1991 Mark Chartrand: Cranks in Science (Science author and lecturer talks about the characteristics of crank science)
April 1991 Steve Shore - Theory is Not a Four Letter Word (A critique of all kinds of theories, from evolution and creation to astronomy, chemistry, physics, and paranormal subjects like PK and economics)
January 1991 Sean O'Neill: Hypnosis and Past Lives (A registered hypnotherapist talks about the questionable validity of past life regression)
December 1990 Phil Klass: UFOs Brought Down to Earth (The UFO expert talks about his investigations)
November, 1990 ESP and the Paranormal - ESP or ESD? (A magician talks about the conjurer's role in evaluating paranormal claims)
October 1990 Ray Hyman: The Psychology of Deception (A professor of psychology and CSICOP executive committee member talks about his investigations of the paranormal)
September 1990 Edith Irvin and Mark Sedway: Science Education and Creationism - More Monkey Business for the 90's (Spokespersons for People for the American Way discuss science education in the public schools)
June 1990 James Randi on exposing the paranormal
June 1990 Kim Long: Predicting the Future for REAL (A professional forecaster talks about his view of the near future, methods of predicting, and the role of the media)
April 1990 Chip Denman: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics - Skeptical Thinking by the Numbers (A statistician talks about coincidences)
February 1990 Randy Lockwood and Guy Hodge: Animal Quackers- Purveying Pseudoscience for Pets (Humane Society speakers talk about quack products for pets)
January 1990 Ray Hyman: Why are we fooled? (Examining parapsychological claims and techniques - taped by CBS TV's 48 Hours for broadcast)
November 1989 David Schwartzman: Is the Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence (SETI) Science?
July 1989 James Randi, Penn and Teller: Science and the Paranormal
April 1989 Lee Rickard: Trying to Think About Astrology (An astronomer offers his thoughts about this ancient practice)
February 1989 B. Premanand: Miracles and Magic of the God-Men of India (An Indian skeptic talks about the real nature of guru's and god-men)
January 1989 Jamy Ian Swiss: An Evening with an Honest Liar (A magician talks about the paranormal)
March 1987 First NCAS meeting. Details from these early meetings until 1990 are incomplete.