• Skeptics Trivia!

    Babe's Restaurant & Cocktails

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Babe's in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:00pm sharp, but we'll start to arrive by 6:00pm. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Game runs until about 9:00pm. Babe's has very large tables. Plenty of room. Feel free to attend if you're on the waiting list.

  • Book Discussion: Escaping the Rabbit Hole, by Mick West

    Martin O'Grady's Irish Pub

    CHANGE OF VENUE — The discussion will occur in the front alcove of Martin O'Grady's Pub and Grille, not in the organizers' living room as first announced. The book is Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect, by Mick West. Here’s a blurb from Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Escaping_the_Rabbit_Hole.html The Earth is flat, the World Trade Center collapse was a controlled demolition, planes are spraying poison to control the weather, and actors faked the Sandy Hook massacre…. All these claims are bunk: falsehoods, mistakes, and in some cases, outright lies. But many people passionately believe one or more of these conspiracy theories. They consume countless books and videos, join like-minded online communities, try to convert those around them, and even, on occasion, alienate their own friends and family. Why is this, and how can you help people, especially those closest to you, break free from the downward spiral of conspiracy thinking? In Escaping the Rabbit Hole, author Mick West shares over a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience investigating and debunking false conspiracy theories through his forum, MetaBunk.org, and sets forth a practical guide to helping friends and loved ones recognize these theories for what they really are. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the most successful approaches to helping individuals escape a rabbit hole aren’t comprised of simply explaining why they are wrong; rather, West’s tried-and-tested approach emphasizes clear communication based on mutual respect, honesty, openness, and patience. West puts his debunking techniques and best practices to the test with four of the most popular false conspiracy theories today (Chemtrails, 9/11 Controlled Demolition, False Flags, and Flat Earth) — providing road maps to help you to understand your friend and help them escape the rabbit hole. These are accompanied by real-life case studies of individuals who, with help, were able to break free from conspiracism. With sections on: • the wide spectrum of conspiracy theories • avoiding the “shill” label • psychological factors and other complications • (and concluding with) a look at the future of debunking Mick West has put forth a conclusive, well-researched, practical reference on why people fall down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole and how you can help them escape.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.

  • A Global Hoax: Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act

    Porta Bella Restaurant Cellar

    A presentation by Susan Pfeiffer: Who Is Bill Browder and What Is the Magnitsky Act? On 2018 July 16, following a private meeting with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin made an extraordinary statement in response to a reporter’s question about Russian meddling in our election: Putin offered to facilitate an interrogation of the 12 newly indicted Russians by US authorities if, in return, US authorities would facilitate Russia’s interrogation of Bill Browder. Putin alleges that Browder is implicated in crimes in Russia, including a scam involving a $230 million fraudulent refund in taxes due to the Russian Federation. Because I am a skeptic, as well as a Russia/news junkie, I had to investigate. My research took me on a fascinating journey about greed, crime, corruption, and a massive hoax that led to the passage of the US Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky Act was undisputedly the main topic of discussion at the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting initiated by the Russians in June 2016. I would like to share my findings and offer internet pathways to a film and a book which have been effectively suppressed in the US and elsewhere. The Atheist Lounge will tackle this subject on, as usual, the last Thursday of the month. Order food and drink at 7 PM, with short presentation starting about 30-45 minutes thereafter, and plenty of open discussion after that.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.

  • Book Discussion: Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker

    Abigail and Richard's Casa de Puertas (Private House)

    The book is Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker. We'll have a free-form discussion of this book in our living room. Snacks and light refreshments will be provided. This event is FREE, but we want to know how many to plan for, because there's a limit to our capacity, so RSVPs are required! If you RSVP that you're coming and then decide that you can't, please change your RSVP to "No", so we can make room for someone else and/or stock up on the goodies accordingly. Here’s a blurb about the from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_Now A commonly-held lay public perception holds that the world is in terrible shape; for some, 2016 was the "worst year ever" and the death of liberalism. In contrast, Pinker argues that life has been getting better for most people. He sets out 15 different measures of human wellbeing to support this argument, with the most obvious being the uncontroversial fact that, statistically, people live longer and healthier lives on average than ever before. As another example, while fears of terrorism are often voiced in US opinion polls, Pinker shows that an American is 3,000 times more likely to die in an accident than in a terrorist attack. As in Pinker's previous The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker ascribes modern improvements to trends of liberal humanism and scientific rationality that first took root in Europe around the 17th and 18th centuries. Pinker argues that economic inequality "is not itself a dimension of human wellbeing" and cites a study that finds inequality is not linked to unhappiness, at least in poorer societies. He also points out that the world as a whole is becoming more equal, and states that even within increasingly unequal areas, the poor are still getting wealth and benefit from technological innovations. For example, it is clear to Pinker that an innovation that makes the poor slightly richer and the rich massively richer is a positive rather than a negative achievement. In contrast, critics hold that enhancing social mobility and combating "inequality as a result of unfairness" are important legitimate ends in and of themselves, beyond any effects of reducing poverty. On topics such as nuclear weaponry, Pinker places the blame on anti-Enlightenment forces. Scientists working on the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear weapons did so because they needed to beat Hitler; Pinker states "Quite possibly, had there been no Nazis, there would be no nukes." In contrast, critics point out that science lacks any ethical logic of its own. They argue that scientific progress is liberating but also threatening, and can present dangers precisely because of how hugely it expands human power. Pinker expresses concerns about potential human extinction from nuclear weapons or from global warming, but categorizes existential risks overall as a "useless category", stating that "Sowing fear about hypothetical disasters, far from safeguarding the future of humanity, can endanger it". In particular, Pinker departs from scholars such as Nick Bostrom regarding the possibility of accidental existential risk from artificial general intelligence, and makes a controversial reductio ad absurdum argument that self-driving cars provide evidence that artificial general intelligence will pose no accidental existential risk. The book concludes with three chapters defending what Pinker sees as Enlightenment values: reason, science, and humanism. Pinker argues that these values are under threat from modern trends such as religious fundamentalism, political correctness, and postmodernism. In an interview about the book published in Scientific American, Pinker has clarified that his book is not merely an expression of hope, it is a documentation of how much we have gained as a result of Enlightenment values, and how much we have to lose if those values are abandoned.

  • Skeptics Trivia!

    Rockhound Brewing Company

    Join Skeptics for "Premiere Trivia" at Rockhound Brewing in Madison! Everyone is invited, new and old! The game starts at 7:30pm sharp, but I'll be there by 6:30pm with a Madison Skeptics sign. Feel free to show up early for skeptical conversation. Rockhound serves good beer and decent food.