Upcoming speaking gigs in January (Kamloops/Kelowna)

Hey all,

Just a quick note for any folks living in the British Columbia interior – next month I will be giving a pair of presentations in Kamloops and Kelowna on the 12th and 13th of January respectively.

The Kamloops crowd will be getting some info about the HPV vaccine and how to sift through some of the myths and conspiracy theories that you find on the internet. In Kelowna, I will be giving an expanded version of my Eschaton2012 talk. After both events, there will be some kind of social event where we can hang out and talk about whatever, so if you live in the region and you’re curious what I’m like in person (spoilers: less interesting than you’d think), you should mark those days on your calendar.

Both events are organized and sponsored by the local chapters of the Center For Inquiry. I will of course post reminders and any additional information I have as details become finalized.

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Imagine No Religion 2: parte the firste

As many of you are aware, this year I attended the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops, BC. What you may not have been aware of is the fact that this was my first ever atheist conference. I’ve only been ‘out’ for a couple of years, and because nearly all of the atheist meetups I’ve ever seen are in the eastern United States, I haven’t really had much motivation to go. While it would be cool to meet some new athie folk, the fact is that I can think of quite a number of things I’d rather spend $1200 on.

This year, however, I was asked by members of CFI Vancouver and Okanogan to attend the function in Kamloops. At the time they asked, they were concerned about not being able to recoup their expenses. Seeing as I owe a great deal of my public profile to the hard work done by my fellow CFIers, and that I genuinely like them and am happy to help out when I can, I decided to pop my conference cherry and attend INR2. Overall, I am incredibly glad that I did. Not only was it a wonderful chance for me to hang out with a group of (largely) like-minded people and have fun for a weekend, but I also got a chance to meet some folks that I’ve been looking forward to crossing paths with for some time. [Read more…]

Movie Friday: All About Vaccines

So last weekend you may recall that I was in Kelowna, acting as a guest moderator for a panel on vaccines, hosted by the Centre for Inquiry. I had a great time there, and the panel was very informative. It ran loooong though. I’m not sure what it is about having a PhD and/or MD that makes you unable to tell time, but most of the presentations went twice as long as allotted. However, if you were ever looking for authoritative information about vaccines, these videos provide a valuable resource.

The rest of them can be seen here.

I really enjoyed my time in Kelowna, and am looking forward to being invited there again. There’s also the possibility of being invited to the new branch in Nelson – CFI West Kootenays. Nelson is a beautiful place, and I’d love to visit sometime. Let me know how I did in the into and Q&A sections.

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Rapidly approaching adventures in meatspace

This is a reminder that I will be traveling to Kelowna, BC this weekend to participate in a vaccine education event hosting by CFI Okanagan:

The poster for the 'All About Vaccines' event

I’m looking forward to returning to my childhood stomping grounds and finally getting to meet some of the friendly skeptics out Kelownie way.

I’ll be back in the interior next month for the Imagine No Religion 2 conference. Also in attendance will be FTB’s own Maryam Namazie, PZ Myers, and Matt Dillahunty, as well as many other fine speakers. So for any of you in the BC interior who have an itching desire to meet me in person, you have two chances this spring. Hope to see some of you there!

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I’m going to Kelowna!

I talk about CFI Vancouver often enough, since I am a volunteer (at least as much as my schedule will allow). What my Van-centricity may have obscured is the fact that there is an active CFI branch in the interior of British Columbia. Unlike Vancouver, which is besotted with a brand of woo-ishness that is more self-injurious than dangerous to others, CFI Okanagan’s umbra is spread over communities where religion (the aggressive, angry kind) runs more or less unchecked.

Thus, it is into this maelstrom of unrestrained non-skepticality that I find myself vaulting with abandon this coming April:

The poster for the 'All About Vaccines' event

That’s right, I’m returning to my childhood stomping grounds, as I’ve been invited by CFI-Okanagan to act as “celebrity”* moderator for a panel of people who actually know what they’re talking about. My job titles will include “introducing the panelist” and “shutting up” and “pointing to people in the audience so they know when it’s their turn to ask a question”. Gruelling stuff!

If you live within easy driving distance of Kelowna and are interested in learning more about vaccines, or you just want to see my shutting up skills in person, come check it out! There are rumours of a party happening on the Saturday night – if you want details you should check out the CFI-Okanagan Facebook page.

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*Said with the rollingest eyes ever

‘Couv team ASSEMBLE!

Tonight, we are once again assembling at the Billy Bishop for some skeptical imbibing and conversation. I somehow managed to miss last month’s meetup, but I am absolutely not going to miss this one. Plus I am meeting up with Natalie beforehand for some delicious Vera’s burgers. If you can’t make it tonight, make sure to check out the other events hosted by Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub – one downtown Vancouver and another in Richmond. Check out the schedule for more info, and if you can make it to Kitilsano tonight, come by and say hi!

If drinking isn’t your game, there are a lot of other fun skepty activities happening in the city, many of which are available on the Vancouver Skeptics page. Vancouver has a very active skeptical community, including associations with the UBC and SFU skeptic/atheist groups, and a number of other affiliated groups like CFI Vancouver. If you live in the Vancouver area and want to know what your fellow freethinkers are up to, check out the page!

See you tonight! Burgersburgersburgersburgers.

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CASS: Skepticism FTW

I don’t claim to understand the climate science. I am not a climatologist, I haven’t cracked the literature, and even if I did I lack the training to fully parse truth from falsehood. I am confident in accepting the scientific consensus, however, because of the advocacy by people whose opinions I have come to trust and whose credibility has been demonstrated to me. When I read the work of someone who clearly has a grasp on critiquing evidence and weighing claims based on the facts rather than elaborate conspiracy theories about a New World Order plot to ban incandescent lightbulbs, I have no difficulty accepting the fact of the human contribution to global warming. Folks like Orac, or Darksyde, or Mano – they keep my head straight when I get confused, and they’re who I refer inquisitive friends to.

There’s another group that I rely on heavily when I need some expertise outside my own background:

A group of scientists is raising alarm about “incorrect science” in a course at Ottawa’s Carleton University that was taught for three years by a climate change skeptic. “We describe a case in which noted climate change deniers have gained access to the Canadian higher education system through a course taught at Carleton University,” the Ottawa-based Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism said in a report this week.

But the course instructor, Tom Harris, denies there are any problems with the science he taught. CASS, which says its goal is to “critically [examine] scientific, technological and medical claims in public discourse,” said its audit of video lectures and course materials for the second-year course called “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective” found the course to be biased and inaccurate. [Read more…]

CFI greases your palm

So who’s looking for a little nudge to get them to attend Imagine No Religion 2? Michael Payton sends this:

Dear Members,
Imagine No Religion 2 is one of the largest and best freethought conventions in North America, bringing together voices from across the world to discuss issues in science and religion for a special three day event.
Speakers include:
– Lawrence Krauss
– Chris DiCarlo
and many others!
CFI Canada is proud to be an active sponsor to this event and to in return we are offering our Members a special discounted rate for a limited time.
CFI Canada members in good standing as of February 1, 2012 can purchase a fullregistration ($280) at a discounted price of $200.00. This gets you full access to all sessions as well as the Banquet and Comedy Show on Saturday Evening.  This is a LIMITED TIME offer for CFI Canada members only so hurry before this offer expires: http://imaginenoreligion2.com/imaginenoreligionkamloops/CFI_Members.html
If you have already signed up for the event CFI will be offering a free renewal of your existing membership as our way of saying thank you for attending the
Please spread the word and help to make this conference a success!
–Michael Payton
Interim National Executive Director | Centre for Inquiry Canada
2 College Street | Suite 214 | Toronto, Ontario M5G 1K3 | CANADA
Follow CFI Canada on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cficanada

Silly Michael forgot that I will be there too, but that’s fine. I’m not speaking; just hanging out and being awesome.

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‘Couv team… ASSEMBLE! (Jan 3rd, 2012)

Tomorrow night, we are once again having our monthly gathering of skeptic folks in Kitsilano. I’m looking forward to the evening, which is always a lot of fun. I should point out that Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub hosts other events – one downtown Vancouver and another in Richmond. Check out the schedule for more info, and if you can make it to Kitilsano tomorrow, come by and say hi!

I am also excited to help promote the new Vancouver Skeptics page. Vancouver has a very active skeptical community, including associations with the UBC and SFU skeptic/atheist groups, and a number of other affiliated groups like CFI Vancouver. If you live in the Vancouver area and want to know what your fellow freethinkers are up to, check out the page!

See you tomorrow night.

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Reminder: Victor Stenger in Vancouver this weekend!

Hey all you skeptical Vancouverites! Looking for some hot skeptic-on-skeptic action this Saturday? Have we got a treat for you!

Centre For Inquiry Vancouver is pleased to present a lecture by particle physicist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Victor Stenger, titled ‘Science and God’.

“Science is based on the objective observation of the world as presented to our senses. Religion is based on faith in the existence of a transcendent world beyond the senses. Thus, science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. This incompatibility is more than just an intellectual debate among scholars. Belief in ancient myths joins with other negative forces in our society to keep most of the world from advancing scientifically, economically, and socially at a time when a rapid advancement in these areas is absolutely essential for the survival of humanity.

It is commonly believed that science has nothing to say about God, that it can’t prove or disprove the existence of God. While that may be true for every conceivable god, it’s not the case for a god with the attributes of the God worshipped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Such a God is believed to play such an important role in the operation of the universe and in the lives of humans that his existence should have been confirmed by now.”

  Room 100, Wesbrook Building, 6174 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC
 7:00 PM Doors Open
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Lecture and Q&A
General Public: $10
Students: $7
Centre For Inquiry Members: $5


I will be there, rockin’ my CFI volunteer shirt. Should be an excellent time! Hope to see some of you there!