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"Cause & Effect" Newsletter: CSICon 2018 levels up, science marches on, and more

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Issue #104 — May 2, 2018

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

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The Top Stories

Register Now for CSICon 2018 with Stephen Fry, Steven Pinker, and More


CSICon has firmly established itself as one of the planet’s premier skeptics conferences, where hundreds of critical thinkers experience the brilliance of skepticism’s leading lights, connect with friends new and old, and have a hell of a lot of fun. And it all happens in Las Vegas, the city of illusions.

Now, having exceeded expectations for two years in a row, CSICon is about to level up.

CSICon 2018 will feature luminaries such as Stephen Fry, beloved writer, performer, and filmmaker; Steven Pinker, one of the world’s most revered intellectuals; Richard Dawkins, the scientist who opened up the wonders of evolution to the world and helped lead a movement for science and reason; and the amazing James Randi, a founding father of the skeptic movement making his triumphant return.

And that’s not all. Not by a long shot. Register now, and click the link below to learn more.




Marches for Science and Arts for Science


Harnessing the excitement and momentum of last year’s international event, the 2018 Marches for Science took a turn toward the local, with each march having an approach and emphasis specific to its location.

Naturally, Center for Inquiry branches were on hand for many of them, with CFI West taking a starring role with a demonstration of pseudoscientific gadgets.





TIES Update: Interviews + New Workshops and Webinars


The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) gives middle school teachers the tools they need to effectively teach evolution and answer its critics. Last week, TIES Director Bertha Vazquez was interviewed by Catherine Giordano for HubPages, where she discussed all of TIES’s great work and how others can get involved.

TIES will hold its next online workshop on May 9, featuring Stephanie Keep of the National Center for Science Education discussing misconceptions about the science classroom. Teachers (and everyone else) can register now.

There are also two new in-person TIES workshops scheduled:

  • July 19, 2018: Perhaps the most acronym-heavy event ever produced: Set SAIL (Succeed, Achieve, Innovate, Lead): 2018 A+PEL (Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana) Summer Conference in Baton Rouge, presented by Blake Touchet.

  • November 16, 2018: Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) Professional Development Institute in Williamsburg, Virginia, presented by Christopher Moran.



See Richard Dawkins with Carolyn Porco on Tour


Our own Richard Dawkins will be appearing at two very special live events: October 28 in Dallas and October 30 in Nashville. At both events, Richard will be joined live onstage for a conversation with the brilliant Carolyn Porco.

A world-renowned planetary scientist and science communicator, Carolyn Porco led the imaging science team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, a mission that provided humanity with some of the most awe-inspiring images ever seen. It ended only last year when the spacecraft made several passes through the rings of Saturn, completing its thirteen-year mission by burning up in Saturn’s atmosphere. She was also part of the imaging teams for the Voyager missions of the 1980s and the recent New Horizons mission to Pluto.

Don’t miss this meeting of these great minds. Tickets are available now.




Reasonable Talk from CSICon Las Vegas

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The latest episodes of the Center for Inquiry’s video series present the best talks from CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas:

  • The brilliant and hilarious Richard Wiseman interviews Richard Dawkins live onstage at CSICon, discussing the success of Dawkins’s books, atheism, evolutionary science, and natural selection, along with a great question-and-answer session in which Dawkins demonstrates his insights on religion, science, and life itself.

  • “Wikipediatrician” Susan Gerbic gives an overview of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project, explaining why Wikipedia is such a crucial institution and repository, such that skeptics must take its maintenance seriously and as a call to duty.


Latest Hot Takes and Longreads


In the news:

  • NBC News cites the work of Skeptical Inquirer contributor Robert J. Blaskiewicz in its coverage of YouTube’s problems with recommending conspiracy-theory videos.

  • CFI Communications Director Paul Fidalgo is the guest on the somewhat absurd current events podcast The Whiparound, in which he discusses the work of CFI and takes part in a cult-inventing contest.

From Skeptical Inquirer and

  • Kenny Biddle investigates claims of a “ghostly black monk” that haunts Eynsford Castle in Kent. Just like the druids of Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge,” no one knows who it is or what he is doing. Chances are, however, it’s neither ghostly nor a monk.

  • Harriet Hall makes us aware of a very novel form of “alternative” medical treatment in Indonesia: Train track therapy, where one lies down on a track before and after a train goes by to feel its electricity and cure ailments.

  • Susan Gerbic takes to task TV legal pundit Nancy Grace for discarding her skepticism of the paranormal and feeding the celebrity of “Hollywood medium” Tyler Henry.

Spinello_Aretino_Exorcism_of_St_Benedict.jpgFrom Free Inquiry and the Free Thinking blog:

  • At the “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” event in Rome, conservative Catholics blamed a rise in demonic activity on atheism and the internet. Joe Nickell keeps it real, writing, “The Internet can help dispel [reports of possession], and so it is not a cause but a remedy; atheism is not a consequence but, coupled with humanist values, a salvation.”

  • Ophelia Benson at Free Inquiry wonders why the movement to curb sexual harassment in the workplace is being resisted as though it is an ideological debate. “It’s a bit like saying we can have rules [for toddlers] against biting and kicking, but hitting and pushing are acceptable.”

  • Benjamin Radford weighs in on a recent book about the skeptic-assaulting “demon” Popobawa of Zanzibar, which he says is valuable for its new information but troublesome for its disdain for skeptics.

  • Ben also considers the new film A Quiet Place but is less than thrilled. “The first rule of world-building (whether fantasy, science fiction, horror, or any other genre) is that you need to have logically internally consistent premises.” Not so much here.

Don’t forget to keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars, peppered with dumb jokes, every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Upcoming CFI Events


CFI Austin

CFI Indiana

CFI Michigan

  • May 8: 2018 CFI Michigan Civics Day, with advocacy trainings and meetings with lawmakers, featuring CFI Director of Governmental Affairs Jason Lemieux and the Secular Coalition for Michigan’s Andrew Franks.

CFI Northeast Ohio

  • May 9: Mano Singham presents “Is the Distance from Earth to Jupiter the Same as the Distance from Jupiter to Earth? The Strange Behavior of Rulers and Clocks.”

CFI Tampa Bay

  • May 6: The Evolutionary Film Festival presents its first annual Sigmund Freud Film Challenge with ten-minute films on the theme of Freud.

CFI Western New York


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let's keep working together for science, reason, and secular values. Donate today!

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director. 

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at 

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