Audio of Talks

Scroll down this page to find links to audio recordings of presentations given to CNY Skeptics. A description of the talk and a short bio of each speaker can be found below along with the link.

“Ethan Kocak: Fartist of Science Twitter or, How to fall backwards into an illustration career by tweeting about science until someone gives you a job”

Listen to Ethan Kocak’s talk. The file is large (60 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY. About the talk The artist recounts his path from relatively unknown animator and web cartoonist to slightly more well-known illustrator of scientist portraits, science books, and a New York Times best-selling book about flatulence that started out as a Twitter joke. About the presenter Ethan Kocak is an artist and illustrator best known for the online comic series “Black Mudpuppy” and various science-related art projects including the New York Times best seller, Does It Fart? and TV presenter and biologist Ben Garrod’s dinosaur series, “So You Think You Know About Dinosaurs?” He lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, son, and collection of rare salamanders.

“The Science of Change: Evidence-Based Methods for Effective Activism”

Listen to Debbie Goddard’s talk. The file is large (75 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, November 14, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, One Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY. Download Skeptical Activism Campaign Manual, mentioned by Debbie in her presentation. About the talk The goal of activism is to change things, but how do we know what works? In a challenging political climate ripe for protests and petitions, it’s important to consider the effectiveness of our actions. Drawing from the experience of seasoned activists and organizers, Center for Inquiry outreach director Debbie Goddard will outline evidence-based methods for building campaigns and developing functional goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, and messaging so that our activism actually works. About the presenter Debbie Goddard is the director of campus and community programs and the director of African Americans for Humanism at the Center for Inquiry (CFI), where she has worked for 12 years. She facilitates workshops and gives presentations on group organizing, campaign-building and activism, diversity and outreach, student activism, the secular movement, and other topics for local groups and national conferences across North America. She has also been the lead organizer for conferences including Women in Secularism 4 and the annual CFI Leadership Conference. In 2012, she led a notable billboard campaign featuring black atheists, and in 2009, she helped coordinate an international campaign highlighting blasphemy laws and free expression.Before working for CFI, Debbie participated in freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with LGBTQ issues and progressive activism.

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

Listen to George Stadalski’s talk. The file is large (67 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 PM, at the 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.

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

Listen to Sharon Hill’s talk. The file is large (67 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 PM, at the 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,, 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 This presentation was given via Skype.

Tsunamis in Syracuse?

Longtime CNY Skeptics member Bryce Hand, returned to tell us about his investigations into the possibility of tsunamis in Central New York. Listen to Bryce Hand’s talk. The file is large (43 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, Manlius, NY About the speaker 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.

Facts, Fake Facts, and Alternative Facts

CNY Skeptics welcome back Donald Siegel, the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor in the Department Earth Sciences at Syracuse University to talk about the hot topic of facts and fake facts. Listen to Don Siegel’s talk. The file is large (43 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, Manlius, NY About the talk Professor Don Siegel (Syracuse University, Earth Sciences) will discuss why facts and reasonably rational discourse no longer is in vogue in America because of a return to regional and social tribalism of the past, coupled to prominence of digital media and entertainment and a decline of traditional American education. To avoid sounding like an older guy crying for the past, Siegel will offer one possible way to try and ameliorate this state of affairs, with the hope that over time things might change. About the speaker Professor Emeritus Donald Siegel’s science career spans over 45 years doing research, consulting and teaching on problems related the aqueous geochemistry and hydrogeology of natural and contaminated waters. He earned his BS in Geology from the University of Rhode Island, an MS in Geology at Penn State University and PhD in Hydrogeology from the University of Minnesota. Siegel joined Syracuse University in 1982 where he was employed from 1982-2017. Professor Siegel is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served on numerous scientific panels of the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences and also as its Chair of the Water Science and Technology Board.

Orbs or Dust: Demystifying Alleged Paranormal Photography

Kenny Biddle

Listen to Kenny Biddle’s talk. The file is large (38 MB); please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, September 20, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library, 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.

“Wikipediatrician” Susan Gerbic

Listen to Susan Gerbic’s talk (34 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on May 18, 2017, 7:00 PM, at the Manlius Library Watch a very similar presentation that Susan gave to the National Capitol Area Skeptics on May 20, 2017. 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. About the presenter 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.

A Ghost Hunter turned Skeptic: One Paranormal Investigator’s Story

Carolyn Dougherty

Listen to Carolyn Dougherty’s talk (47 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on January 18, 2017, 7:00 PM, at the Dewitt Community Library About the talk From an early age Carolyn Dougherty was interested in the paranormal. As an adult she has spent much of her life exploring ghost stories and claims of haunting. In her presentation for CNY Skeptics she will talk about her journey from believing to applying critical thinking to investigations. About the presenter Carolyn Dougherty was a writer and assistant editor for MyPara Paranormal Magazine, a writer for The Bent Spoon Magazine, and is the author of the book Creepy Corners: Searching for Truth in Paranormal Claims. She is the writer of Carolyn’s Creepy Corner, a blog promoting critical thinking in paranormal research. Dougherty earned a BA in music and English from The University of the Pacific and taught language arts for many years.

Bryce Hand, Ph.D. “A Geologist Looks at the Great Flood . . . or, Noah? No-ah Way!”

Listen to Bryce Hand’s talk (57 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 7:00 PM at the Dewitt Community Library Bryce Hand, Ph.D., is emeritus professor of Geology at Syracuse University and a long-time member of CNY Skeptics.

Professor Reverend Dr(s) Jason R. Wiles, Ph.D., D.Div(x3), D.B.E., D.F.S., FRSB, “Trust Me, I’m a ‘Doctor'”

Listen to Jason Wiles’s talk (54 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 7:00 PM, at the Onondaga Free Library, 4840 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse. About the talk Chances are, when an author or speaker prominently displays the title Dr. on the front covers of their books or in promotional materials, they are relying on the honorific to convey some sense of expertise in a particular area, or, in some cases, a general sense of authority. However, most serious academics rarely if ever include their degrees in their bylines. Good skeptics ought to beware prominent displays of credentials, as they are often “earned” in dubious fashion. This talk will highlight unaccredited and spurious “doctorates” offered by diploma mills and profiteering scam schools often operating under curious loopholes in state regulations on religious and other organizations offering honorary “degrees.” About the presenter Jason Wiles is a professor in the Biology Department at Syracuse University with additional appointments in the Departments of Earth Sciences and Science Teaching. He does hold earned degrees in biology, geosciences, and science education, but he has also amassed a stack of questionable honorary degrees, which were shockingly easy to obtain. He is usually willing to talk to people who want to learn about evolution, creationism, science policy and pedagogy, and now he offers advice on how in 20 minutes or less, for $30 or less, you too can lay claim to the authority of the title “doctor” without having to learn a single thing!

Lauren Quattrochi, “Fixing our Medicine: Why All Clinical Trials Need to be Published”

Listen to Lauren Quattrochi’s talk (62 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at Onondaga Community College. This talk was co-sponsored by TACNY. Download Lauren Quattrochi’s presentation (26 MB). About the talk Only half of all clinical trials globally have reported results. Dr. Quattrochi will describe the current landscape for publication bias and how this lack of clinical trial transparency has shaped our medicine. She will dive into why withheld clinical trial data may hold valuable insight into progressing our medical system by touching on cases where unpublished or poorly published clinical trial data has negatively impacted patients, the medical community and/or fellow pharmaceutical researchers. Thereafter, she will detail how the AllTrials campaign aims to address and rejuvenate scientific data sharing on a global level. About the presenter Dr. Lauren Quattrochi is a neuroscientist who guides the campaign for AllTrials USA at Sense About Science USA, a non-profit focused on equipping the public with tools and knowhow to navigate evidence-based research. She specializes in educating the public on breakthrough science, correcting popularized pseudoscience and bringing about awareness on clinical trial transparency in the USA. She earned her doctorate from Brown University in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, where she discovered a novel third subtype of photoreceptor. Sense About Science is on Facebook and Twitter.

Damian Allis, “A Big Year For Dwarf Planets: Highlights Of The NASA Missions To Ceres & Pluto”

Listen to Damian Allis’s talk (55 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, at the Dewitt Community Library. You can also download a PDF version of Damian’s presentation. About the talk Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet status suddenly made more people aware of its fellow dwarf planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt. With Ceres a snapshot of a planet that might have been, and Pluto the most famous member of the Kuiper Belt, both are of special interest to scientists studying the history and complexity of our own Solar System as a way to better understand the many extra-Solar Systems now being discovered by professional and amateur astronomers. This lecture will feature some historical background and as-recent-as-the-web-will-allow views and findings from both the New Horizons and Dawn NASA missions About the presenter Damian G. Allis Ph.D. is a Research Professor of Chemistry, Research Fellow with the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute, bioinformaticist with Aptamatrix, Inc., and High Performance Computing Evangelist, all at Syracuse University. A crazy/overly-optimistic local amateur astronomer, he is a NASA Solar System Ambassador, long-time member of many CNY amateur astronomy clubs, and a founding member and webmaster of CNY Observers ( When/because it’s cloudy, he’s also the drummer for a half-dozen local bands. He is always happy to talk shop and can be found and contacted at

Len Sharp, “The Puzzling Moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)”

Listen to Len Sharp’s talk (58 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, at the Dewitt Community Library. About the talk Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is generally accepted as the most remote permanently populated land area on Earth. It was due to the isolation of Rapa Nui that created the unique culture that developed, especially the 900 giant stone statues called Moai found along its rugged coastlines and Rano Raraku quarries. This lecture will seek to answer the following questions: What were the source and type of rock used to construct the Moai; what kind of tools was used to sculpture the giant statues; how were the statues moved form Rano Raraku to their distant platforms (Ahu); how were the statues placed in their upright positions; and, of course, what purpose did they serve? About the presenter Len Sharp had almost 40 years of experience as an earth science teacher in NY public high schools. He is the past president of the Science Teachers Association of NY and National Earth Science Teachers Association. He is the co-author of a national textbook used for high school earth science. He is a past National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Teacher and received a teaching award from then President Bill Clinton in 1995. He currently is involved with continuing science education for adults and seniors.

Penny Higgins, “Women, Science, and Love: No One Cries in the Laboratory (Do They?)”

Listen to Penny Higgins’s talk (37 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, at the Manlius Library. About the presentation On June 9th of this year, Nobel Prize winner Sir Tim Hunt explained to the World Conference of Science Journalists what he felt was the problem with women in science. “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.” Hunt’s comments are just one example of challenges that women face in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Even the dominance of men in typical STEM classrooms perpetuates a culture of “Stereotype Threat” which continues to discourage women from pursuing STEM careers. The challenge ahead is to accept that this as a real problem, and then work toward practical solutions where women and men are treated equally within the sciences. ​ About the speaker Penny Higgins is a Vertebrate Paleontologist and Geochemist at the University of Rochester. She divides her time among managing the Stable Isotope Ratios in the Environment Analytical Laboratory (SIREAL), teaching, and doing research on ancient episodes of rapid climate change.

Michael Giannattasio on 3-D Printers

Listen to Michael Giannattasio’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at the Dewitt Community Library. About the presentation Michael Giannattasio will be covering what additive manufacturing techniques mean to the new inventor/entrepreneur. We now are becoming aware of what 3D printing is and how to make something from our own desk but, what are we really making? How can we turn these new tools into something productive and meaningful? ​ About the speaker Michael Giannattasio is the founder and director of SALT Makerspace. He grew up in California just south of San Francisco. where he experienced a very diverse population which influenced his outlook and goals in life. Michael received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from California State College Chico. While there he worked with glass, bronze, aluminum, wood, and ceramics refining his process and knowledge of various mediums. Once his degree was completed he worked as a studio assistant, independent fabricator, and professional artist. In 2009 Michael moved to Syracuse, NY, to go to Syracuse University and began working in the Sculpture Masters in Fine Arts program in VPA. During this time he focused on experiences relating to location specifically developed through digital installations. In 2012 he began working with 40 Below specifically with the Public Arts Task-force creating collaborative permanent public art works in the City of Syracuse. During this time SALT Makerspace started to develop. During the last two years he has worked with a group of artists, engineers, fabricators, and business experts to develop a business plan that outlined how the Makerspace would sustain itself and what it would offer the community.

Susan W. S. Millar on The End of Snow

Listen to Susan Millar’s talk (50 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, at the Manlius Library. About the presentation Temperature records indicate that Earth has warmed an average of 0.85°C during the period 1880 to 2012. That increase, however, has been experienced most significantly at middle and high latitudes, regions that have witnessed as much as 2 degrees Celsius of warming. As New York still reels at the memory of last month’s mammoth snow storm in Buffalo, dumping unprecedented totals in excess of two meters in places, one has to question exactly how anthropogenic warming could possibly be connected. In this presentation, I will explore the atmospheric processes responsible for “snow events”, how snow fall has changed globally, and here in New York, why these changes may well be related to climate change, and what it means for the future of the Golden Snowfall Award. About the speaker Susan W. S. Millar is an Associate Professor of Geography at Syracuse University. Professor Millar is originally from Scotland, and hiking the Munros and Corbetts fueled her research interest in periglacial slope processes in both Quaternary and modern contexts. She has conducted NSF-sponsored research in Alaska, Colorado and New York State, examining connections between microclimate, freezing depth, and soil sedimentological characteristics. An on-going project explores relations between changing snow patterns in Central New York and how these affect soil thermal conditions.

Ethan Kocak on Cartoon Science and Skepticism

Listen to Ethan Kocak’s talk (30 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, at the Dewitt Community Library. About the presentation Comics and cartoons are usually considered within the domain of entertainment, but at their core is the goal of communication. This discussion is about how that conversation can be about science, skepticism, and critical thinking and what form of comics and cartooning best suits communicating these topics. Since the Internet and comics are now so intertwined, we’ll also have to consider how that changes the discussion, for better or worse, and there will be some live demonstration of what digital comics creation looks like. About the speaker Ethan Kocak is an animator and illustrator who lives in Syracuse, NY. He is primarily known for drawing the webcomic “The Black Mudpuppy,” but has also been involved in the animation project “The Darwin Finches,” the all-science “Tetrapod Zoology Comic,” which is written by paleontologist Darren Naish, and “Al the Anoma Llama” with Doubtful News’s Sharon Hill. When not drawing, he’s writing, tweeting, or being a dad.

Damian Schofield on “Why Doesn’t it Look Like it Does on Television? The Presentation of Forensic Evidence Using Digital Technologies”

Listen to Damian Schofield’s talk (49 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at the Manlius Library. About Damian’s talk Courtroom environments have traditionally relied on an oral presentation of information, however they are now changing into cinematic display environments. CGI technology from the movies and the computer game industries are increasingly being used to create compelling visual media displays presenting a range of digital evidence in a convincing and credible manner. Recently, a number of courtrooms around the world have seen the presentation of forensic evidence within reconstructed virtual environments powered by ‘real-time’, interactive game engines. There are a number of problems inherent in the shift from oral to visual communication and a number of facets of this modern evidence presentation technology need to be examined. At first glance, these graphical reconstructions may be seen as potentially useful in many courtroom situations, and they are often treated like any other form of digital evidence regarding their admissibility. However, perhaps this specific form of digital media warrants special care and attention due to its inherently persuasive nature, and the undue reliance that the viewer may place on the evidence presented through such a visualization medium. This talk will introduce a range of examples of where evidence has been presented in courtrooms using video games technology (particularly forensic animation and virtual crime scene reconstructions). The talk will conclude with a discussion of the potential benefits and problems of implementing this technology in courtroom settings. Dr. Damian Schofield is the Director of Human Computer Interaction at SUNY-Oswego. Dr. Schofield has been involved in research examining the use of digital evidence in courtrooms, particularly virtual reconstructions, for many years. He is specifically interested in the representation and understanding of visual evidentiary information (especially using computer game technology) in the courtroom environment. Much of this academic research in the forensic area has concentrated on the investigation of the prejudicial effect of digital evidence, validation and verification procedures, admissibility of digital evidence and the mathematical uncertainty concerned with digital evidence. Dr. Schofield is regularly used as an expert witness in courts all over the world and has worked on many high profile cases – he has been involved in forensic casework in the UK, Australia, the USA and Malaysia. A few years ago, he was involved with the facial reconstruction of an Egyptian mummy for a documentary called “Nefertiti Reserected” shown on the Discovery Channel. He has also worked on research projects for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the USA.

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

Listen to Dan Curewitz’s talk (37 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 3, 2014, at the Dewitt Community Library. About Dan’s talk 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?

Mahlon Wagner on “Alternative medicine: Alternative to What?”

Listen to Mahlon Wagner’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, at the Manlius Public Library. In his talk, Mahlon spoke about abundance of alternative medicine in Central New York and discussed how to detect the code words that can suggest if a treatment is “alternative” medicine. He also discussed some of the main types of alternative medicine (such as chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, and therapeutic touch) and examined what, if any, evidence exists for their claims of effectively treating medical conditions. 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.

Byrce Hand on “The ‘Magic’ of Crystals”

Listen to Bryce Hand’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, September 18, 2013, at the Manlius Public Library. 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.

Karen Schwarz on “The Myths and Magic of Hypnosis”

Listen to Karen Schwarz’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at the DeWitt Library at Shoppingtown Mall. Karen Schwarz spoke about the myths and magic of hypnosis and hypnotherapy including the issues for which hypnosis is useful as well as those for which it is not, what makes someone a good – or bad – candidate for hypnosis, the history of hypnosis, why hypnosis has a “bad rap”, and more. Karen Schwarz is a practicing psychotherapist with twenty-eight years of experience in the private and public sector. She received 210 hours in hypnosis training at the American Hypnosis Training Academy in Maryland, is a National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and has been using hypnosis in her practice, along with traditional therapy, since 2006. She is also a recipient of hypnosis and credits it with helping her win a 1987 National Powerlifting Championship.

David Cay Johnston on “The Fine Print: Your Pay Shrinks As Monopolies Prosper”

Listen to David Cay Johnston’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded Monday, January 14, 2013, at the DeWitt Library at Shoppingtown Mall. The average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans has fallen back to the level of 1966 while the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent has seen their incomes grow more than five fold. David Cay Johnston will explain how government policies make this happen while destroying jobs, fostering monopolies, and risking massive disasters from crumbling pipelines, bridges and dams. David Cay Boyle Johnston is an American investigative journalist and author, a specialist in economics and tax issues, and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting. Since 2009 he has been a distinguished visiting lecturer who teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management. From July 2011 until September 2012 he was a columnist for Reuters, writing, and producing video commentaries, on worldwide issues of tax, accounting, economics, public finance and business. Johnston has been board president of Investigative Reporters and Editors since June 2012.

Damian Allis on “A Most Unlikely Obvious Molecule: DNA And Its Consequences,” November 2012

Listen to Damian Allis’s talk (40 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at the DeWitt Community Library at Shoppingtown Mall. DNA is Nature’s medium of digital information storage and access from which cellular machinery produces life itself. The 60 years of advances in our understanding of DNA have run in parallel with advances in computer technology and information science, and we are now entering an age of whole-genome maps, customized diagnoses, medicines, and dosages from genetic testing, and genetic modification that may eradicate some disorders completely. From super crops to super humans, the genetic information age offers humanity many different possible outcomes. This lecture will cover some of the history, machinery, possibilities, and consequences of DNA life. Dr. Damian Allis is a research professor in the Department of Chemistry at Syracuse University, esearch fellow with the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute, and bioinformaticist for Aptamatrix, Inc. He contains approximately 20 billion miles of DNA.

Kitty Mervine on “Alien Abduction: Betty and Barney Hill,” September 2012

Listen to Kitty Mervine’s talk (34 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at the DeWitt Community Library at Shoppingtown Mall. Kitty Mervine shares with us her insights as an alien abduction specialist and her recent research into the Betty and Barney Hill abduction using the archival material at the University of New Hampshire. Kitty is a professional artist and teacher. Her artwork has appeared in shows and galleries in both the US and Europe. She is also a long time skeptic and has attended every TAM (The Amazing Meeting, a skeptic conference put on by the James Randi Educational Foundation) that has been held in the US. Kitty is currently is in charge of investigations for the Granite State Skeptics and has lectured on aliens and UFOs at several JREF events and on podcasts. She also appears as the “Alien Expert” on Maxim satellite radio on occasion. For the past eight years she has served as a UFO/Alien expert on many web sites, answering questions using her back-up team of experts. She runs the web site which is geared toward people who believe that they have been abducted by aliens. offers alternative explanations for the abduction experience and a place where abductees can share their experiences without the fear of being ridiculed.

Damian Allis on “Controversy in Science,” January 2012

Listen to Damian Allis’s talk (35 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. The infinite unknown that is our universe is being studied by a finite number of people with finite budgets and a finite number of hours in the day, many of them with real jobs to boot. Opinion and intuition have served as double-edged swords throughout the practical application of the scientific method, often weighing down now-famous great leaps forward for reasons having nothing to do with science itself. Damian will spend his time being both antagonistic and defensive as he discusses some of the history of now-obvious-but-previously-insane truths and facts gleaned from the scientific method, then will briefly describe his own work in the field of molecular manufacturing, an area of research previously seen as profoundly forward, then game-changing, then heretical, then highly suspect, and now increasingly academic, all without strong experimental evidence for or against for most of its history. Damian Allis is research assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Syracuse University.

Mike Affleck on “How Christians Got It All Wrong,” November 2011

Listen to Mike Affleck’s talk (46 MB). The file is large; please be patient while it loads. Recorded Wednesday, November 16, 2011, at the DeWitt Community Library at Shoppingtown Mall. Our November 2011 meeting featured a talk by Mike Affleck. In his talk he discusses the following: “Two Jewish teachers emerged at the same time and in the same place: first century Judea. They offered two very different perspectives on the same catastrophic situation: Rome’s assault on the life of the Jews. The difference in their perspective has largely been lost in the surprising embrace of the teachings of John by followers of Jesus. “John looked at Rome’s occupation of the Jewish Homeland and made a bold prediction: God is coming, soon, to make things right. Jesus looked at the same situation and concluded that John was very nearly right, but his timing was wrong. God is not coming soon. God’s kingdom is already here. Yet the followers of Jesus nearly universally side with John. How did it happen?”

David Cay Johnston on “Taxes: Not What You Think,” October 2012

Listen to David Cay Johnston’s talk (61 MB). The file is large, so please be patient while it loads. Across the political spectrum people fervently hold many views on taxes, but few of them understand the principles underlying taxes and their role in this, the second American Republic, including who bears the burdens of paying the price of civilization. Born in San Francisco in 1948, David Cay Johnston began his journalism career in 1968 by talking his way into becoming the youngest reporter at the San Jose Mercury and News, where he covered local governments, student radicals, and land use. After a three-year stint as an investigative reporter with the Detroit Free Press, Johnston spent twelve years with the Los Angeles Times reporting national news, entertainment news, the Los Angeles Police Department and sundry other topics. Beginning in 1988, he reported on the casino industry for the Philadelphia Enquirer and briefly served as assistant business editor before joining the New York Times to cover taxes, tax evasion, and the Internal Revenue Service. Johnston won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting “for his penetrating and enterprising reporting that exposed loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code, which was instrumental in bringing about reforms.” He had previously been nominated in 2000 and in 2003 was again nominated both for Beat Reporting and National Reporting. That year, he also received recognition by Investigative Reporters and Editors with a Book of The Year award for Perfectly Legal. In addition to his reporting, David Cay Johnston studied economics at the University of Chicago graduate school and at six other institutions, earning several years of college credits but no degree because he enrolled primarily in upper level and graduate level courses. Johnston teaches at Syracuse University and lives in Rochester.