A Pseudoscience Fair with James Randi

The Auraria Campus Atheists are putting together a Pseudoscience Fair.

Instead of displays featuring volcanos and plants, participants will exhibit various forms of flim flam, explain why they are wrong, and show judges how to prevent getting scammed. It’s an excellent way to promote critical thinking.

The icing on the cake? The event will be judged by James Randi :)

The event takes place at the St. Cajetan Church (yep) on Monday, April 2nd and it’s free to the public. The Fair goes from 10:00a – 4:00p. Randi will give a talk at 5:00p. More information is right here.

(Thanks to Joel for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Amanda Tetz

    aw man! no fair!! I totally went to CU Denver and James Randi never spoke while *I* was there! just like when Sam Harris spoke at CU a year after my husband graduated. :’(

  • http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/ Liz Heywood

    Yeah. Notice how Christian Science testimonies fit the bill as pseudoscience. I dare anyone to contest that. A house of cards.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    A Facebook friend had a thread on analogies for how unlikely it is that you’ll win the Powerball Lottery.  I went the other way.  You’re far more likely to win the lottery with a single ticket than to find a single molecule of active ingredient in a bottle of 30C homeopathic ‘medication’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Beau-Quilter/100003469356571 Beau Quilter

    “Intelligent Design” as sold by the Discovery Institute, fits perfectly in the pseudo-science column.

  • Drakk

    In a church? Please, someone do faith “healing”, ID or YEC.

  • Anonymous

    Peer review should not be on a list for a criteria of science vs. non-science. Religious organizations were doing “peer” review to suppress descent and confirm bias long before science arose. Anyone should be allowed to challenge dogma in science without going through some politically controlled gatekeeping process. Darwin’s origin of species was not peer reviewed and many an Intelligent Design paper has been “peer” reviewed. Just because certain “peers” like some hypothesis doesn’t make it scientific.

    • Anonymous

      “As an example of why “peer” review is bad even in the sciences look no further than the Sokal Affair.”

      Except that the Sokal Affair was a result of a Journal not peer reviewing…..

      • Anonymous

        Except that the article itself was a collection of ridiculous quotes from other peer reviewed papers rife in the field from peer reviewed journals like “Social Studies in Science”. Sokal’s purpose was not to show that the journal “Postmodern Cultural Studies” had problems with peer review peer. Peer review wasn’t helping these journals because what they needed was outside expert review, and non-peer review. PCS later became “peer” reviewed and still published nonsense articles because that is the nature of this field.

        Postmodernists defend their field by claiming the publishing of the article was a fluke due to the lack of peer review at PCS. In effect making the laughable claim that all their other journals are not publishing a bunch of turgid nonsense.

        • Anonymous

          “Sokal’s purpose was not to show that the journal “Postmodern Cultural Studies” had problems with peer review peer.”

          That’s probably because it didn’t, you know, peer review.

          “Peer review wasn’t helping these journals because what they needed was outside expert review, and non-peer review.”

          You do know what peer-review is?  Right?  Let’s just take a line from Wikipedia on the process. 

          >In the case of proposed publications, an editor sends
          >advance copies of an author’s work or ideas to researchers
          >or scholars who are experts
          in the field (known as “referees”
          > or “reviewers”), nowadays normally by
          e-mail or through a
          > web-based manuscript processing system.

          The process of peer review is GETTING AN OUTSIDE EXPERT review.  It’s the whole friggin purpose.

          The claim that it wouldn’t have been published with proper peer-review is valid.  Since you know..it wouldn’t have been published.

          Geeze…turgid nonsense indeed.

          • Anonymous

            Peer review is often a rubber stamp used to legitimize bad science via argument from authority. Peer review does NOT include necessarily include skeptical review by outside experts and is actually a corrupt practice in many fields of science from sociology, to climatology, and economics. Just because a paper is published in some journal that is peer reviewed does not guarantee that it is good science. It is all the other criteria that matter. I thought the scare quotes and the sentences of my original post that you failed to quote might clue people in to what I was talking about with the Sokal affair, the sentence after the one you quoted. These “peer” reviewed journals are not acting as skeptical testers of the quality of papers and instead as gatekeepers for ideologically driven positions, not science.

            A perfect example being the IPCC and the “peer reviewed” nonsense that comes out of their mouths, like the claim that the Himalayan glaciers were going to melt by 2035. That was in their “peer reviewed” report.

            • Anonymous

              Your talking in circles. 

              Peer review isn’t perfect, ut it IS the process of getting an outside expert to review before publishing.

              • Anonymous

                I’m repeating myself for someone who seems incredibly dense.

                • Anonymous

                  Let me get this straight.

                  Peer review sucks because it doesn’t get an outside expert to reveiw papers prior to publishing.

                  Peer-review is the process of getting outside expert review before publishing.

                  Profit?

                • brianmacker

                  Peer review sucks when you define “peer” to be your friends, and ideological bedmates, then use what amounts to rubber stamping to silence, via argument from authority, true skeptical reviewers.

                • sunburned

                  LOL.  Now your citing IPCC AR4?

                  So tell us, where is your report detailing the flaws in their methods?

                • brianmacker

                  Do you always refer to yourself as us? Ignoramus someone lost their job over this. You don’t always need a report. Go look up Hymalayan glacier hoax, or some such and get educated. You want a “peer” reviewed report? You exactly the type of person I’m talking about.

                • sunburned

                  Us, as in the readers of your inane comments.

                  It’s funny because your example is a *summary* report…lol

                • brianmacker

                  … And yet you want a report to refute what is claimed to be a peer reviewed document which is used as a basis for calls to cripple the world economy. For a very long time this report was used as peer reviewed dogma to quash the obvious criticisms instead of dealing properly as a skeptical scientist would. This isn’t the only example. climatology is rife with papers that get their basic math wrong, splice data inappropriately, and all sorts of other nonsense. All reviewed by a bunch of their cronies, which they have interpreted peer to mean. Even when skeptics manage to get themselves into the process the cronies find ways to game the system. This really has little difference than the peer review that goes on in religious groups to maintain a dogma. I love science and I hate what the climatologist have done to the process.

                • sunburned

                  LOL. You would have made more sense if you started out with the disclaimer “I’m in Climate change denial”. That way your objections can be put into *context*:)

          • Anonymous

            I suggest you reread my original comment with a little more care with regard to reading comprehension. I wrote, “Sociologists for a long time were dismissing non-”peer” reviewed criticism (just as the religious dismiss criticism from those who do not hold religious degrees). “. That “long time” obviously does not refer to the single event of the Sokal hoax paper. The Sokal hoax paper wasn’t a criticism of postmodernism, plus it was accepted into a journal. It couldn’t possibly be what I was referring to. I happen to be the person who wrote the comment so I know (unlike you) what I was referring to. I was referring to the situation at the time, which was that there were “peer” reviewed (meaning ideologically reviewed) postmodernist (a school of sociology so you don’t have to go to wiki) journals that were publishing turgid nonsense over a period of time that were defending that nonsense on the basis that it was peer reviewed.

            How you could possibly think that was a reference to Sokals actual hoax article, I haven’t a clue. Especially after I explained in detail exactly why I object to using peer review as a criteria. Any group of ideologues can organize a journal that has peer review.

            Hypothesis and theories are scientific independently from whether they are ever peer reviewed. There is NO requirement in science that criticism of any hypothesis or theory needs to come from peers. Any valid criticism no matter the source must be taken seriously. My position on this is in the scientific spirit of Feynman.

            I wouldn’t have a problem with the phrase “peer review” if there weren’t an issue with ideologues perverting science by turning it into “peer” review, with the emphasis on the word peer. I think it is an irresponsible coinage of term specifically for this reason. The goal shoudn’t be “peer” review but “skeptical” review.

    • Pureone

      There is no bias or dogma in science. Your eyes must have glazed over reading the “willingness to change with new evidence” definition of science. Darwin was not peer reviewed, the hundreds of thousands if not millions of papers across disciplines that show evidence for evolution have been. 

      How can ID be peer reviewed? There is no theory, no mechanism, no science.  Can you state exactly what the theory is? 

      Good thing the religious criticism is coming from those that have religious degrees now. Like it matters. Logic doesn’t require a degree. 

      Your ignorance of peer review doesn’t invalidate it.

      • Anonymous

        The paper are published in peer reviewed journals, that’s how. It all depends on how one selects the peers.

        • Pureone

          Which papers? Those had little to do with actual science. One or two papers that slip through the cracks versus the hundreds of thousands? 

          It doesn’t matter how one selects peers. If there was anything valid in a paper, it would be accepted by mainstream science. 

          • Anonymous

            I’m not saying that ID is true. I’m using it as a example to show why one cannot use peer review to distinguish between science and non science.

            I think you are also confused as to what counts a science. A hypothesis or theory can be completely false and still be science. It can also fail peer review and yet be scientific.

            ID isn’t science because it makes no falsifiable claim.

            There a many examples of scientific theories that do not pass peer review, yet they are still science, and regardless of any popularity contest with regards to the number of peer reviewed papers that are contradictory they can also represent more accurate theories and go on to be widely accepted themselves.

            Please don’t call me ignorant when you are not aware of such basic facts.

    • Anonymous

      Also the much more important crieria of falsifiablity is completely missing from this list.

  • MissingNo

    Hello, I am a MSCD student and ‘d like to mention that St. Cajetan’s is not a church. The parish relocated in 1973 and since then the building been used by the campus as an auditorium – there’s even a dinosaur footprint museum in the basement.