Category Archives: Lectures

September 2018 Meeting on Pseudo to Science

Portrait of George Stadalski

“The Evolution from Pseudo to Science: The Disenchantment of a Ghost Hunter”

George Stadalski

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 7:00 PM

Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY

About the talk
This month’s discussion will be about the state (or better said, lack) of science awareness in society and how the para-entertainment culture misinforms people about the paranormal and what scientific research into the paranormal should look like. There is a movement within the paranormal hobby toward more of a scientific approach and away from the entertainment aspect. George will talk about some of the things that are being done to make the shift towards science.

About the presenter
George Stadalski dislikes the term ghost hunter and feels it cheapens the hobby. Growing up, he was drawn to reading books like “Carnacki: The Ghost-Finder,” “Chariots of The Gods,” and “Phone Calls from the Dead,” watching shows like “In Search Of . . .” with Leonard Nimoy and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” The one thing that left a lasting impression on him was a scene from the movie Poltergeist where a team from UC Irvine studies the alleged phenomena.

George does not claim to be a scientist, but he has always loved learning about science. His goal is to look at the theories that paranormal investigators work with and try to determine where they came from and if they are based on fact or based in belief. Many groups claim to perform scientific investigations, using hi-tech, expensive equipment, but it is not enough to own the equipment; you must also know how to use it. The science is in the process, not the technology.

May 2018 Meeting with Sharon Hill

“Scientifical Americans: Paranormal researchers and the public understanding of science”

Sharon A. Hill, creator of DoubtfulNews

Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 PM

Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY

About the talk
In the 21st century, reality television and the Internet have fed public interest in ghosts, UFOs, cryptozoology and other unusual phenomena. By 2010, roughly 2000 amateur research and investigation groups formed in the U.S.– ghost hunters, bigfoot chasers, and UFO researchers, using an array of (supposedly) scientific equipment and methods with an aim of proving the existence of the paranormal. American culture’s honorific regard for science, coupled with the public’s unfamiliarity with scientific methods, created a niche for self-styled paranormal experts to achieve a measure of respect and authority without scientific training or credentials. These groups of amateurs serve as a surrogate for scientists in examining strange claims. And, they provide a unique lens by which we can examine the wider public understanding of science and research.

About the presenter
Sharon A. Hill is an advocate for science appreciation, critical thinking, and evidence-based inquiry, specializing in pop culture discourse on ghosts, monsters, mysteries, anomalies, and oddities. She is the creator of DoubtfulNews.com, SpookyGeology.com, and the host of the podcast 15 Credibility Street. She has degrees in Geosciences and Education with a focus on science and the public. Her personal website is SharonAHill.com.

Sharon Hill will be giving her presentation via Skype.

March 2018

Illustration of ocean waves

“Tsunamis in Syracuse?”

Bryce Hand, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 PM

Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY

About the talk
Geologists tend to use “catastrophic” events like meteorite impacts only as a last resort (and Professor Emeritus Bryce Hand is one of them). However, in his presentation Professor Hand will argue that the signature of just such an event can be found right here in Onondaga County! The six-foot-thick layer we call the Clark Reservation Limestone seemed like an anomaly from the moment he met it in 1969. Over the next couple decades he became convinced that this limestone must have been emplaced by a tsunami, but one caused by an event so special that the usual triggers—earthquakes, submarine landslides, extreme weather events—wouldn’t suffice. Then, in 1993 when he attended the Geological Society of America meeting where Yngvar Isachsen (distinguished geologist with the NY State Geological Survey) argued that that the seven-mile-diameter circular structure at Panther Mountain, in the Catskills, was an astrobleme—the signature of a buried impact crater.

About the presenter
Bryce Hand received his Ph.D in geology from Pennsylvania State University in 1964, and taught geology first at Antioch College, and then at Syracuse University for 35 years. His research focus was sedimentology. Bryce is now a professor emeritus of geology at Syracuse University, and has been a member of CNY Skeptics for 15 years.

September 2017

Photo of Kenny Biddle

Orbs or Dust: Demystifying Alleged Paranormal Photography

Kenny Biddle

Wednesday, September 20, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY

About the talk
This presentation goes into the most popular forms of “ghost & spirits” that are allegedly caught on camera & video. We’ll take a look at examples from ghost hunting groups and famous ghost photos, and compare them to recreations. We’ll break down how the camera—both still and video—capture these anomalies and ghost hunters misinterpret the images.

About the presenter
Kenny Biddle is a science enthusiast and skeptical investigator of paranormal claims. He applies his knowledge, experience, and critical thinking skills to analyzing alleged paranormal photographs. His work has been featured in Skeptical Briefs (newsletter of Skeptical Inquirer magazine), books by Ben Radford, and several skeptical magazines overseas. He is a photography consultant for MUFON, and does a video series that tackles paranormal topics from a skeptical point of view.

May 2017

Susan Gerbic, founder of Guerrilla Skepticism of Wikipedia

“Wikipediatrician” Susan Gerbic

Wednesday, May 17, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY

It’s CNY Skeptics’ 15th birthday, and we’re celebrating by bringing in the Wikipediatrician all the way from Salinas, California! Join us for what’s sure to be a stimulating presentation; we’ll have pizza and birthday cake as well!

About the talk

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic, founder of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW), will give a presentation on the work done by her team of skeptical activists.

At this presentation you will find out how anyone with access to a computer can improve Wikipedia articles.

The Guerrilla Skepticism editing team enhances the skeptical content of Wikipedia by improving the pages of skeptic spokespeople, providing noteworthy citations, and removing the unsourced claims from paranormal and pseudoscientific pages.

Gerbic is the co-founder of Monterey County Skeptics and is also known for her activism against psychics, who she calls “grief vampires.” See more on Wikipedia.