March 2014 Meeting

Photo of Dan Curewitz

Investigating our history of inquiry: My scientific, atheistic view on the value of religious texts and religious creeds

Presentation by Dan Curewitz, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 7:00 PM
Dewitt Community Library, Friends Room

About the presentation

Daniel Curewitz, Ph.D., is a secular humanist and atheist but still finds great value in the religious writings, stories, myths, and belief systems we humans have invented. When he looks at the history of the human quest for knowledge, he finds that the basic questions that still drive our inquiry remain vibrant and in many cases have been articulated in the religious writings of many theistic traditions. These questions include: How does the world work and why? What is our place in that world? How can we best organize ourselves and our behavior to survive and thrive in the world?

Asking the first question, even knowing beforehand that the answers will most likely be wrong, is the entry point into scientific inquiry. How do religious stories shed light on our attempts to extract knowledge from our surroundings and to use that knowledge to our direct benefit? In our contemporary world, how did those stories stop being gateways to inquiry and start being impediments to progress?

About the speaker

Daniel Curewitz was born in coastal Maine, and grew up physically poor (but intellectually rich) in a back-to-the-land hippie community. He attended Wesleyan University on a scholarship, and stumbled into earth and environmental science as a result of needing to fill a basic science distribution requirement. He received his Ph.D from Duke University and has spent most of his career living and working in nearly 30 countries around the world, including a nearly 10-year stint in Japan, working as a project manager on the deep sea scientific drilling vessel “Chikyu.” He is now a lecturer/instructor at the Department of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University.

January 2014 Meeting

Person lying on table getting acupuncture

Alternative medicine: Alternative to What?

Presentation by Mahlon Wagner

Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 7:00 PM
Dewitt Community Library, Friends Room

About the presentation

After receiving a Ph.D in experimental psychology, Mahlon Wagner taught statistics and research design in a university setting. With his experience in these two areas it became natural for him to look at alternative medicine and the claims made for alternative treatments in the light of existing experimental evidence.

In his talk, Mahlon Wagner will look at the abundance of alternative medicine in Central New York and discuss how to detect the code words that can suggest if a treatment is “alternative” medicine. He will also discuss some of the main types of alternative medicine (such as chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, and therapeutic touch) and examine what, if any, evidence exists for their claims of effectively treating medical conditions.

About the speaker

Mahlon Wagner is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at SUNY Oswego. He has been a long-time member of CNY Skeptics, and has given several presentations in Germany and the UK on various skeptical topics. He has written on and lectured about the effectiveness various forms of “alternative” medicine.

Photo credit: NYCTCM on Flickr

2013 Solstice Party

Celebrate Solstice with CNY Skeptics

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It’s almost time for the annual CNY Skeptics Solstice Party. Our hosts are the always gracious Bryce and Judy Hand. The date of the party is December 21, and the time is 6 pm.

The Hands will provide turkey and stuffing, a vegetarian dish, and hot spiced cider. The rest is up to you. Email the Hands with your dinner contribution.

Bryce and Judy Hand
132 Lynn Circle
Syracuse, NY 13205

November 2013 Meeting

Onondaga Lake Cleanup Sign

An Inside Look at the Onondaga Lake Cleanup

Go on a field trip with CNY Skeptics!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 7:00 PM
Onondaga Lake Visitors Center
280 Restoration Way
Geddes, NY 13209

The Onondaga Lake Visitors Center gives the community a chance to experience and learn about the lake cleanup firsthand. The center was designed and built by Honeywell to provide public access to the significant work taking place by hundreds of scientists, engineers, and skilled craft laborers from this region.

Presenter Bio: John McAuliffe is Honeywell’s Syracuse program director with responsibility for Honeywell activities being conducted on Onondaga Lake and associated sites. He is a lifelong resident of Central New York.

Please join us for an inside look at the cleanup process.

This even is free and open to the public.

September 2013 Meeting

“Let’s Be Friends: A Skeptic Embraces the Paranormal,” a presentation by Kitty Mervine

Kitty can’t make it to the September meeting, but we will reschedule her visit to later in our program year.

Instead, come see Bryce Hand on

The “Magic” of Crystals

Bryce Hand at Bald Mt. Tower in 2006

Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 7:00 PM
Community Room at the Manlius Library
1 Arkie Albanese Ave.
Manlius, NY 13104

About Bryce’s presentation, in his own words:

“Sorry, folks, but I won’t offer to cure your arthritis, rheumatism, or athlete’s foot, align your chakras, or tune the vibrational rates of your auras.

“Such amazing mystical and magical properties that get ascribed to crystals would be more amusing if they weren’t actually believed by so many people. But these I’ll pass quickly — however disappointingly — because there’s so much to be said and shown about the real world of real crystals.

“Those strikingly beautiful forms we call “crystals” owe practically all of what we admire to the regular arrangement of their component atoms, yet only a hundred years have passed since this became known with certainty. We’ll explore some of the mechanisms by which crystals self-assemble, ways we determine their atomic arrangements, methods for identifying different minerals, and why it is that we’re able to use a particular chemical substance (like carbon) for such astoundingly different purposes, depending entirely on its structural form.”

Bryce Hand, Ph.D., is emeritus professor of Geology at Syracuse University and a long-time member of CNY Skeptics.