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Michigan Atheist Convention (12/07) in Ann Arbor

MichiganAtheists-150x150On Saturday, December 7th, the annual Michigan Atheists convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in Ann Arbor.  There will be a series of speakers/presentations starting at 10am.  Registration is $30, plus $16.50 for a private lunch.  However, the registration is  free for any organizers and student members of high school, college and university on-site campus secular organizations.

You can register by printing out this form (27TH ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION) and mail it in with your fee.  There is also a free reception on Friday evening from 7pm to 11pm for those who register.

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

The Michigan Atheists are a group that fights for the separation of church and state.  When policy-makers overstep, the Michigan Atheists try to inform the secular community so that an appropriate reaction can take place.ClarionHotel-150x150

Michigan Atheist Convention (12/01) in Ann Arbor

On December 1st, the annual Michigan Atheists convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in Ann Arbor.  There will be a series of speakers/presentations starting at 10am and ending at 5pm.  Registration is $30, plus $16.50 for a private lunch.  However, the registration is only $5 for students, and it’s free for any organizers and student members of high school, college and university on site campus secular organizations.

You can register by printing out this form (pdf) and mail it in with your fee.  There is also a free reception on Friday evening from 7pm to 10pm for those who register.

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

The Michigan Atheists are a group that fights for the separation of church and state.  When policy-makers overstep, the Michigan Atheists try to inform the secular community so that an appropriate reaction can take place.

Announcing: Cafe Inquiry (sponsored by Center for Inquiry)

Beginning on Sunday, March 25th, and regularly occuring on the fourth Sunday of each month, there will be a Cafe Inquiry (sponsored by Center For Inquiry).  It will be held at CJ’s Brewing Company, 14900 Beck Rd., Plymouth, MI, from 1:00 – 3:00pm.

A Cafe Inquiry get-together consists of everyone participating in a discussion about several predetermined topics in a casual, thought-provoking way.  You can find out more about the event over at CFI’s website.  Jennifer Keller Baker is the organizer.  Hope to see some of you there!

Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics Debate with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

On Saturday, December 17th, the Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics invited Stanley Beattie from the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth to provide a presentation and participate in a follow-up Q & A, regarding their arguments on why they would like a new independent investigation on the events that happened on 9/11.  You can find a compilation of their arguments here and skeptical counter-arguments here and here.

The group recorded the audio of the Q & A, and you can listen or download it on the Ann Arbor Science & Skeptic website, or through their iTunes podcast feed.   

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CFI Michigan’s Solstice Dinner in Ann Arbor ~ Dec. 18th

On Sunday, December 18th, the Center For Inquiry (Michigan) is having their annual solstice dinner at Conor O’Neills in Ann Arbor, from 5pm to 8pm in the Celtic Room.  Tickets range from $35 (for students) to $45.  You can also receive a discount if you become a ‘Friend to the Center.’

You can register online here.

Michigan Atheist Convention (12/03) in Ann Arbor

On December 3rd, the annual Michigan Atheists convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in Ann Arbor.  There will be a series of speakers/presentations starting at 10am and ending at 6pm.  Registration is $30, plus $16.50 for a private lunch.  However, if you register by November 26th, then it’s only a combined cost of $40.

You can register here at the Michigan Atheists website or print out the pdf and mail it in with your fee.  There is also a reception on Friday evening from 6pm to 10pm for those who register.

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

The Michigan Atheists are a group that fights for the separation of church and state.  When policy-makers overstep, the Michigan Atheists try to inform the secular community so that an appropriate reaction can take place.

Tim Minchin ~ St. Andrews Hall on Friday, September 30th

Tim Minchin is an iconoclast.  He’s a secular comedian and musician, and a favorite entertainer amongst skeptics due to his way of ridiculing religious and tradition dogma, and elevating science and reason.  If you’re not familiar with his work, there is an extensive catalog of his various comedic routines on youtube.  Inflatable You, If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out, and Religion are just a few bits that I particularly enjoy.

Minchin will be playing at St. Andrews Hall on Friday, September 30th.  You can purchase tickets here at LiveNation.com.  Tickets are about $45 each.

Donald Trump and the “Birther” Conspiracy

Donald Trump has been publicly making claims that not only question whether President Obama was born in Hawaii, but insist that he was born in Kenya.  These claims are part of an overall belief that’s been termed “birtherism” – which is a conspiracy theory that asserts the media is suppressing the knowledge that Obama’s presidency is unconstitutional.

Donald Trump wrote in a New York Times editorial defending his position.  He claims that there is an audio tape of Obama’s grandmother stating that he was born in Kenya.  He also states that Obama has not produced an original birth certificate to prove that he is indeed a US citizen.  He then concludes that the entire media is “in on it” else why wouldn’t a journalist uncover this story and receive fame and awards?

What distinguishes a conspiracy theory from fact are many elements.  Let’s look three of them.

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A Skeptic Chat With…Michael Rosch of ‘Skepacabra’

This is a blog series where I interview writers, bloggers, podcasters, etc. about topics relevant to science, skepticism, and critical thinking.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your blog, Skepacabra.  Can you please start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics, about who you are, what got you interested into skepticism, and what led you to blog about it?

I’m 30 years old and I’ve recently become a certified paralegal. I received my BA from New York University , where I had a kind of interdisciplinary curriculum, and have an MA in Media Studies from New School University. In addition to Skepacabra, I am the co-founder of stopjenny.com, a website devoted to dispelling the myths and misconceptions about vaccines and autism perpetuated in the popular media.  I also was a writer for the Gotham Skeptic, the official blog of the NYC Skeptics, until we decided to end that blog last month. I also occasionally blog on Examiner.com as the NYC Atheist and Skepticism Examiner. That blog tends to be more deliberately provocative because it generates revenue based on the number of visitors.

I’ve been an atheist since I was about 14, but I didn’t really discover the broader skeptical movement until about three years ago. Before then, I believed in a lot of what James Randi would call “woo”, from psychics to UFOs and acupuncture, etc. I grew up watching shows like Sightings; In Search Of; and Mysteries, Magic, and Miracles, etc. And while I always figured the vast majority of paranormal reports were either hoaxes or delusion, I kept thinking these phenomena had to have some legitimate basis.

So I’d been an outspoken atheist for some time, but it was autumn, 2007 that I first discovered James Randi. Randi was being interviewed by an internet atheist radio show I listened to and on their website, they’d linked to some videos of Randi on YouTube. One of those videos was a lecture Randi gave to, I think, Yale University. It was the standard Randi lecture but it was the first time I’d seen it. Randi’s Yale lecture pushed me one step closer to renouncing my woo woo beliefs.

Around that same time I discovered YouTube videos of Michael Shermer and I found myself liking a lot of what he had to say. Around the same time I caught Shermer debating the evidence for alien visitation on The Larry King Show, and I realized I completely agreed with Shermer that the evidence just wasn’t there. Shermer’s opponent in that debate were Stanton Friedman, a long-time hero of mine. It was during that debate though that I realized my hero Stanton Friedman was a complete nut.

In November, 2007, I attended an atheist event in NYC where Michael Shermer was in attendance. I remember we briefly talked about a reality show on TV at the time featuring Criss Angel and Uri Geller. As I was leaving that night I took a flier for other upcoming lecture hosted by a group called the New York City Skeptics. The speaker was someone I’d never heard of by the name of Steven Novella. It sounded interesting enough, so I attended. And I was so impressed by Dr. Novella’s lecture that when he mentioned that he hosted a podcast, I decided to check it out. Since that lecture, Novella and the other skeptical rogues on the SGU have become my biggest skeptical influences and were the biggest reason I’m part of this movement today. So I’ve always been fairly obsessed with the supernatural and paranormal; only now I approach that interest from a different philosophical position.

The blog came about because I had a Myspace page originally devoted to promoting atheism that gradually shifted to broader skeptical issues. Because I became a regular reader of about a dozen skeptical blogs at that point, I started posting bulletins where I’d link my Myspace friends to several different interesting news items in one post, sort of a newsletter, which I began titling “News From Around The Blogosphere.” I posted lots of these bulletins and would occasionally use the Myspace blog feature. But I realized Myspace wasn’t going to be around, or at least popular, forever and wanted to spread skeptical news stories and my editorials as part of a more legitimate blog. That eventually brought me to WordPress.

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