• How did Humans Evolve the Ability to Deny, Ignore, Distort or Corrupt Reality?

    How did Humans Evolve the Ability to Deny, Ignore, Distort or Corrupt Reality? (A Theory that can Explain Unusual Features of the Origin and Fate of Our Species) Please join the San Diego Skeptics in welcoming Dr. Ajit Varki of UCSD and CARTA in for the June 2019 talk. About the talk: Some abilities of the human mind appear unusual or exaggerated relative to those of other intelligent, warm-blooded, long-lived social species. One collection of such related features is our remarkable ability for ignoring or denying reality in the face of clear facts, a high capacity for self-deception and false beliefs, and irrational risk-taking behavior (collectively called “Reality Denial”). Such traits should not have been beneficial when they first appeared as consistent features in individuals of any species. Meanwhile, available data suggest that self-awareness (knowledge of one’s own personhood) and basic theory of mind (ToM, also termed mind-reading, intentionality, etc.) have evolved independently several times, particularly in the same kinds of species mentioned above. Despite a long-standing opportunity spanning tens of millions of years, only humans appear to have gone on to evolve a more advanced and extended ToM (multilevel intentionality), a trait required for optimal expression of many other unusual attributes of our species, such as advanced linguistic communication and cumulative cooperative culture. This talk will present a counterintuitive evolutionary explanation for all these unusual features of humans, a “Mind over Reality Transition” (MORT) over a proposed "psychological evolutionary barrier”. The theory has major implications for the human condition, as well as for many serious current issues, ranging all the way from lack of personal health responsibility to ignoring anthropogenic global climate disruption, which now threatens the very existence of our species. About our speaker: Ajit Varki is currently Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego; Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute; Co-Director, UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA); Co-Director, UCSD Glycobiology Research and Training Center (GRTC); Executive Editor, "Essentials of Glycobiology"; Co-author of Denial (Hachette, 2013); and member, National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served as President, Society for Glycobiology; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Clinical Investigation; and President, American Society for Clinical Investigation. His research focuses on sialic acids in biology, evolution and disease in relation to explaining human origins (anthropogeny). __________________________ The monthly lecture series sponsored by SD Skeptic Society features a presentation on a scientific or skeptical topic. The suggested donation for lecture attendance is $5. Your tax-deductible donations help support the San Diego Skeptic Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to critical and scientific thinking. If you're a frequent attendee, see the welcome desk for joining the membership. About SD Skeptics:The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring. Lectures start promptly at 7pm. If this is your first event, please come early and introduce yourself! Please note: The entrance to Joyce Beers Community Center is between two restaurants, Aladdin’s and Panera Bread. The address 3900 Vermont Street should be the most accurate for GPS directions. There is free parking available in the underground lot across the street (behind and under Ralphs / Trader Joes). Parking in the above ground lot is limited to 2 hours and cars have been ticketed / towed for infractions.

  • New Discoveries About the Changing Brain (Monthly Skeptic Lecture)

    Joyce Beers Community Center

    Abstract: Learning and memory are among the most marvelous functions of the brain. Recent advances in understanding how the brain changes to achieve these functions suggest that some of these changes may contribute to mental illness. It has long been understood that nerve cells send electrical signals to other nerve cells by releasing chemicals - called neurotransmitters - that bind to protein receptors on other nerve cells and excite or inhibit them. We discovered that nerve cells can switch their neurotransmitter - often changing the sign of the connection from excitatory to inhibitory or vice versa - and thereby change specific behaviors. I will speak about a study in which we found that seasonal changes in day length cause neurotransmitter switching that causes depression. Ongoing studies raise the possibility that neurotransmitter switching contributes to PTSD, autism and other illnesses. About our Speaker: Nicholas C. Spitzer is the Atkinson Family Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology and Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM) at the University of California, San Diego. He received his B.A. in biology from Harvard College in 1964, attended Harvard Medical School for several years and received his Ph.D in neurobiology in 1969 from Harvard University. After postdoctoral work at Harvard and University College London he joined the faculty at UC San Diego in 1972. He has been chair of the Biology Department, the Neurobiology Section and chair of the Academic Senate, and has served as a member of the NIH NINDS Council and as a Trustee of the Grass Foundation. He was founding editor-in-chief of BrainFacts.org and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. ----------------------- The monthly lecture series sponsored by SD Skeptic Society features a presentation on a scientific or skeptical topic. The suggested donation for lecture attendance is $5. Your tax-deductible donations help support the San Diego Skeptic Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to critical and scientific thinking. If you're a frequent attendee, see the welcome desk for joining the membership. About SD Skeptics: The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring. Lectures start promptly at 7pm. If this is your first event, please come early and introduce yourself! Please note: The entrance to Joyce Beers Community Center is between two restaurants, Aladdin’s and Panera Bread. The address 3900 Vermont Street should be the most accurate for GPS directions. There is free parking available in the underground lot across the street (behind and under Ralphs / Trader Joes). Parking in the above ground lot is limited to 2 hours and cars have been ticketed / towed for infractions.

    6
  • Drinking Skeptically! (Sorrento Valley / Miramar)

    Karl Strauss Brewing Co

    Join us for an evening of camaraderie and lively conversation in San Diego! Get to know your fellow skeptics over a stout on nitro or your favorite IPA. We'll be in Sorrento Valley / Miramar, with the establishment to-be-announced this week. Drinking Skeptically is an informal event designed to promote fellowship and networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, and like-minded individuals. Drinking Skeptically provides an opportunity for skeptics to talk, share ideas (and yes, drink) in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. We discuss the issues of the day and whatever else is on our minds. But most of all, we have fun while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality. Don't drink? Don't let that stop you from joining us! Some of the world's most famous skeptics abstain from drink and we are happy to have you! Visiting San Diego from out of town? Stop on by! Skeptics are a friendly bunch and there's always room for one more. This event is free to attend. However, we are meeting in a busy restaurant and we'd like to maintain a good relationship with the business. Please consider having a meal here or ordering a beer or glass of wine.

    4
  • It's Published, But is it Reproducible? (Monthly Skeptic Lecture)

    Joyce Beers Community Center

    A fundamental premise of skepticism is to rely on evidence rather than anecdote and opinion. The "gold standard" for evidence tends to be peer-reviewed, scientific publications. However, increasing evidence suggests that much of what is published is not reproducible. In some cases, the cause is fraud, but more often the problems are much more subtle. The problem of irreproducibility and possible remedies will be discussed. About our speaker: Kalichman, trained in engineering and neuropharmacology, has taught research ethics for over 25 years. He is founding director of the UC San Diego Research Ethics Program (1997)and co-founding director for the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology (2004). Kalichman has taught train-the-trainer, research ethics workshops throughout the U.S. as well as Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. With support from the Office of Research Integrity, he created one of the first online resources for the teaching of research ethics, Resources for Research Ethics Education (1999). He leads NIH- and NSF-funded research on goals, content, and methods for teaching research ethics. Internationally, he has had lead roles with representatives of Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan in setting national research ethics agendas, and is now helping to establish the Asia Pacific Research Integrity (APRI) network. ----------------------- The monthly lecture series sponsored by SD Skeptic Society features a presentation on a scientific or skeptical topic. The suggested donation for lecture attendance is $5. Your tax-deductible donations help support the San Diego Skeptic Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to critical and scientific thinking. If you're a frequent attendee, see the welcome desk for joining the membership. About SD Skeptics: The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring. Lectures start promptly at 7pm. If this is your first event, please come early and introduce yourself! Please note: The entrance to Joyce Beers Community Center is between two restaurants, Aladdin’s and Panera Bread. The address 3900 Vermont Street should be the most accurate for GPS directions. There is free parking available in the underground lot across the street (behind and under Ralphs / Trader Joes). Parking in the above ground lot is limited to 2 hours and cars have been ticketed / towed for infractions.

    1
  • A New Era in Exoplanets (Monthly Skeptic Lecture)

    Joyce Beers Community Center

    In the two decades since the discovery of the first planet orbiting a star other than the Sun, it has become clear that exoplanets are ubiquitous in our galaxy. With over 3000 exoplanetary systems known, their unexpected properties continue to surprise and confound astronomers. Most of these systems have been discovered by indirect methods. In the past few years, a host of new instruments have been built with the specific goal of directly detecting the light from extrasolar planets. This technique, called "direct imaging", is revolutionizing this rapidly changing field. Dr. Konopacky will discuss the latest discoveries with direct imaging and what these discoveries have taught us about how solar systems like our own may have formed. We will also discuss future missions that will finally achieve the ultimate goal of this field - directly detecting light from other Earth-like planets. Bio: Quinn Konopacky is an Assistant Professor of Physics in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at UC San Diego. Professor Konopacky uses high resolution techniques on large ground based telescopes to study star and planet formation. She got her Ph.D. in astronomy at UCLA in 2009 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Toronto before joining the faculty at UC San Diego in January 2015 ------------------------ The monthly lecture series sponsored by SD Skeptic Society features a presentation on a scientific or skeptical topic. The suggested donation for lecture attendance is $5. Your tax-deductible donations help support the San Diego Skeptic Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to critical and scientific thinking. If you're a frequent attendee, see the welcome desk for joining the membership. About SD Skeptics:The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring. Lectures start promptly at 7pm. If this is your first event, please come early and introduce yourself! Please note: The entrance to Joyce Beers Community Center is between two restaurants, Aladdin’s and Panera Bread. The address 3900 Vermont Street should be the most accurate for GPS directions. There is free parking available in the underground lot across the street (behind and under Ralphs / Trader Joes). Parking in the above ground lot is limited to 2 hours and cars have been ticketed / towed for infractions.

    1
  • CARTA 10th Year Symposium

    Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium

    CARTA is a local gem of intellectual discourse. Please let us know if you can attend with us by RSVPing on meetup, but you do need to RSVP on their site. Link below. https://carta.anthropogeny.org/events/carta-10th-anniversary-revisiting-agenda More than 20 years ago, a small group of La Jolla academics began periodic meetings for transdisciplinary discussions on anthropogeny (explaining the origin of humans)––an effort that blossomed into an international intellectual collaborative organized by UC San Diego and the Salk Institute as the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA). At the formal opening of CARTA just over 10 years ago a group of CARTA leaders and advisors attempted to “define the agenda”. Much additional relevant information has since emerged, and an expanded group of experts will now revisit the agenda by addressing the following questions on a broad array of selected topics: What do we know for certain? What do we think we know? What do we need to know? How do we proceed?––Effectively, a whirlwind tour of many but not all approaches to anthropogeny. Patricia Churchland, Professor Emerita of Philosophy, UC San Diego Alyssa Crittenden, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada Las Vegas Evan Eichler, HHMI Principal Investigator; Professor of Genome Sciences, University of Washington Daniel Geschwind, Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Human Genetics; Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine Kristen Hawkes, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of Utah Joseph Henrich, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology and Chair, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Jon Kaas, Distinguished Centennial Professor of Psychology, and Gertrude Conaway Chair at Vanderbilt University William Kimbel, Director and Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment, Arizona State University Institute of Human Origins Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Distinguished Professor, Institute of Advanced Study, Kyoto University James J. Moore, Associate Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, UC San Diego David M. Perlmutter, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, UC San Diego Margaret Schoeninger, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Anthropology, UC San Diego, CARTA Co-Director Terry Sejnowski, Professor and Laboratory Head, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory; Francis Crick Chair; Salk Institute Anne Stone, Regents' Professor, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change; Associate Director, ASU Center for Evolution & Medicine Sarah Tishkoff, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology, University of Pennsylvania Ajit Varki, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, UC San Diego, and Adjunct Professor, The Salk Institute, CARTA Co-Director Examples of Topics to be addressed Comparative Cognition in Primates Behavioral Ecology Paleoanthropology & Comparative Anatomy Nutrition & Paleodiet Cultural Evolution and Dual Inheritance Comparative Genomics Ancient DNA of Humans and Their Pathogens Human Population Genetics & Origins Comparative Medicine Mental Disease Hunter-Gatherers/ Life History & Reproduction Parenting & Child Development Comparative Brain Anatomy Language Computational Neuroscience Morality & Cooperation

    3
  • Drinking Skeptically!

    Waypoint Public

    Join us for an evening of camaraderie and lively conversation in North Park, San Diego! Get to know your fellow skeptics over a stout on nitro or your favorite IPA at one of my favorite tap houses. We'll meet at at Waypoint Public (http://www.waypointpublic.com/), conveniently located near the parking garage on 29th street (entrance between University and North Park Way). Drinking Skeptically is an informal event designed to promote fellowship and networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, and like-minded individuals. Drinking Skeptically provides an opportunity for skeptics to talk, share ideas (and yes, drink) in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. We discuss the issues of the day and whatever else is on our minds. But most of all, we have fun while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality. Don't drink? Don't let that stop you from joining us! Some of the world's most famous skeptics abstain from drink and we are happy to have you! Visiting San Diego from out of town? Stop on by! Skeptics are a friendly bunch and there's always room for one more. This event is free to attend. However, we are meeting in a busy restaurant and we'd like to maintain a good relationship with the business. Please consider having a meal here or ordering a beer or glass of wine. PARKING NOTES: Parking in North Park can be difficult. I recommend Uber, Lyft, or parking in the garage on 29th just south of University which has reasonable rates and is very close to our restaurant.

  • The Killer Bias with Dr. Shawn Carlson

    Joyce Beers Community Center

    The Killer Bias: How Confirmation Bias Makes Us, Breaks Us, and Takes Us to the Edge of Extinction (And What You Can Do About It.) No one prides themselves on being close minded – yet all of us are. Indeed, the tendency to eschew ideas that challenge our core beliefs is quite literally built into our DNA. In ancient times this trait promoted tribalism – a shared sense of identity within an isolated group of people – which served to foster cooperation within these tribes. Communities that worked together tended to out-compete those that didn’t, and this fact propagated confirmation bias down through the generations. Back then, the Truth of the world didn’t matter as much as beating out the competition for limited resources. But all of that has changed. Modern science and technology have created a new world; one in which the Truth matters very much. In this talk, we'll trace the evolutionary origins of confirmation bias and explore its potentially catastrophic consequences in modern times. We'll also examine ways to identify the bias in ourselves, and how to manage its effects on our beliefs and decisions. Finally, we’ll talk about how people who understand confirmation bias can help make the world a bit more rational for the benefit of us all. About the Speaker: Shawn Carlson is a physicist, a nationally known science writer and skeptic, and an award-winning educator who works to inspire people of all ages to take part in scientific adventures of all kinds. He is the author of five books, founder of the LabRats Science Education Program, a former columnist for Scientific American magazine, and a MacArthur Fellow. The suggested donation for lecture attendance is $5. Your tax-deductible donations help support the San Diego Skeptic Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to critical and scientific thinking. If you're a frequent attendee, see the welcome desk for joining the membership. About SD Skeptics:The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring. Lectures start promptly at 7pm. You are welcome to join us for a social hour prior to the event at 6pm. If this is your first event, please come early and introduce yourself! Please note: The entrance to Joyce Beers Community Center is between two restaurants, Aladdin’s and Panera Bread. The address 3900 Vermont Street should be the most accurate for GPS directions. There is free parking available in the underground lot across the street (behind and under Ralphs / Trader Joes). Parking in the above ground lot is limited to 2 hours and cars have been ticketed / towed for infractions.

    1
  • Skeptic Lectures!

    Joyce Beers Community Center

  • Skeptical Thanksgiving Recovery Dinner!

    Officine Buona Forchetta

    Join us for the SKEPTICAL THANKSGIVING RECOVERY DINNER! Exhausted from being polite to your relatives speaking earnestly to you over turkey and fixins about alternative medicine/ GMOs/ vaccines-and-autism/ psychics/ astrology/ Reiki? Yeah, us too. WE UNDERSTAND! (And we've had enough turkey!) That's why on Sunday, November 25th, we're hosting our Skeptical Thanksgiving Recovery Dinner at Officine Buona Forchetta (http://www.officinebuonaforchetta.com/) in Liberty Station. Buona Forchetta has repeatedly been voted San Diego's favorite Italian restaurant, best fresh pasta, and best pizza! And the space, staff, and hospitality are a match for the food, too! If you haven't been there (or to their original space in South Park), now's your chance to share in a great meal, great conversation, and a rational recovery from Thanksgiving dinner with your fellow Skeptics. Menu Details: We will update as we have a better idea of interest in the event. RSVP NOW! Please respond ASAP, and if you change your mind, please let us know by 11/25. We hope you join us for a fun outing to celebrate our continuing success and ever growing support for San Diego Skeptic Society. And ... Happy Thanksgiving! Parking & Directions: There is ample parking (though it does get busy on Saturday!) on the east side of the Liberty Station campus, along Historic Decatur Road. Google Map (https://www.google.com/maps/@32.736593,-117.2146605,17z) for the recommended parking lot. (Chauncey and Historic Decatur Rd on the map image below.) Buona Forchetta is located on Sims Rd, near the Sims Rd entrance for Stone Brewery and Breakfast Republic. About SD Skeptics: The San Diego Skeptic Society (formerly SDARI) is a community resource that hosts lectures on various topics (science, history, etc) and sponsors prizes in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair every spring.

    5