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The MISkeptics Get Together: Will we be the Borg?

Author Jonathan Stars

Jonathan Stars is a writer, database consultant, musician, comedian, and songwriter. He has written over 100 articles on computers, music, and software. His latest novel is the techno-thriller “N-hanced.”

This month we are talking about the future of technology. Our featured speaker will be Jonathan Stars.

In this talk Jonathan will tell us about the promise and peril of our coming relationship with computers.  According to inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil (among others), in the next few years our lives will be dramatically changed by advances in robotics, genetics and nanotechnology.  Kurzweil predicts a technological singularity that will arrive around 2045, where people will need to have their intellects mechanically enhanced in order to keep up with the accelerating changes.

You may be surprised to find the future is closer than you think.

Jonathan Stars is a writer, database consultant, musician, comedian, and songwriter. He has written over 100 articles on computers, music, and software.  His latest novel is the techno-thriller “N-hanced.” (Learn more at www.N-hanced.com).

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

We are meeting at 4:00 PM on Saturday, June 14th in Plymouth, Michigan. Details are in the RSVP Links.

You can RSVP via our Meetup Page, Our Facebook Page, or our Google Plus Page.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming.

MISkeptics is accepting donations! You can contribute to our future endeavors by following this link, or in person at any Get Together. You can donate with your credit card or drop money into the donation jar.

I look forward to seeing you there!

MISkeptics April Get Together: The Idea of a Basic Income

What is Basic Income? Proponents tie it to Humanism and Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Logo

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 as a direct result of World War 2.

According to Article 25, Section 1 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Basic Income is a concept where the state would provide a regular income payment to every adult citizen, with no conditions attached. Such a payment would be enough to meet basic needs for a frugal lifestyle, and would largely replace welfare, food stamps, and public pensions. It would also augment the income of poorly paid employed people, and provide a safety net for those with irregular incomes.

Is this a system that could work in the United States? How would it be implemented? How is it different and is it better or worse than our current welfare system?

Basic Income posters on a wall.

The concept of Basic Income goes back to the 16th Century.

Our special guest this month is MISkeptics member and contributor Marc Stemmer. Marc has extensively studied the philosophy and practice of a Basic Income and will present his research. We will learn the positives, the negatives and clear away the hype associated with it.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting Skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

We’re meeting on April 12th at 1:00 PM. The details are in the RSVP links below.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary.

You can RSVP at our Meetup Group, our Facebook Event Page, or our Google Plus Event.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

The End of the World is Coming! (again) Let’s Have a Party

The end of the world was signalled in York last night as a horn was blown to herald the beginning of the apocalypse

On November 14th, the Norse God Heimdallr blew the Gjallerhorn to warn of the Viking apocalypse. Actually, Heimdallr was unavailable. This is just some guy in eyeliner.

On November 14th, 2013 the Mythic Gjallerhorn was blown. Which is a sign that the world will end 100 days later. Traditionally it was supposed to be blown by the Norse God Heimdallr, but he was otherwise occupied. Nevertheless, the horn was blown and it means one thing. THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING!

Ragnarök

The blowing of the horn is a calling of the gods (the Norse ones) to a great battle. According to the Edda, a Norse Epic Poem, the great battle will cause the deaths of the great gods. Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki will all be slain. Ragnarök, which literally means “Twilight of the Gods” will cause natural disasters, the Sun will turn black, wolves will increase in numbers, and the world will be plunged into the sea. But don’t worry! The gods will fix it all when they come back to life and the world will be born again.

How do we know Ragnarök is at hand? Let’s look at this handy checklist of signs:

How to know the world is ending: Continue reading

Nelson Mandela for our January Get Together

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008.

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008.

On December 5th 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died. He was South Africa’s first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. He also served over 27 years in prison for his activism prior to that. The end of Apartheid in South Africa is credited largely to him. He was called a lot of things when he died, a hero, a savior, a great leader, a terrorist, a communist, and a murderer. But what was he really?

On Saturday, January 18 at 1:00 PM, we’re teaming up with Minority Atheists of Michigan to talk about Nelson Mandela. We will cut through the hype and hyperbole and learn the facts of his life and work. We will learn about the good and the bad and decide for ourselves who he was.

Our guest speaker will be Jamon Jordan. He is the Co-Founder and Facilitator of the Black Scroll Study Group. A local organization that researches any and all phenomena related to Black people.

Jamon Jordan Image

Jamon Jordan is the Co-Founder and Facilitator of the Black Scroll Study Group

They present their findings through educational materials for institutions to use in order to present data on Black/African history and culture that is frequently overlooked.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting Skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

You can RSVP for the event at our Meetup Page, our Facebook Page, or our Google Plus Page.

Tomorrow: The Michigan Skeptics Get Together!

Conzilla; the Mascot of ConClave

Conzilla; the Mascot of ConClave

This month we had to delay our regular monthly meeting by one week due to MISkeptics was requested to host two panels for the ConClave SciFi/Fantasy convention. Which was a huge success. Special thanks to Bria Crutchfield, Chris Clayton and Howard Scrimgour for their help speaking on the panels. We had lots of fun, and many new members joined. As an added bonus, we have been tapped to provide skeptic content to the up and coming North American Science Fiction Convention next year. The entire weekend was amazing. Thanks to everyone that came out for the convention and also those who came out for the SitP afterwards.

Kumare Poster

Winner of South by Southwest’s Audience Award, Kumare is an insightful look at faith and belief.

For tomorrow, Saturday October 19th at 1:00 PM we are going to watch Kumaré.

A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, Kumaré follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith. Instead, he finds himself forging profound connections with people from all walks of life — and wondering if and when to reveal his true self. Will his followers accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth? Winner of South by Southwest’s Audience Award, Kumare is an insightful look at faith and belief.

Kumaré received fair reviews upon release. Many movie reviewers criticized Gandhi’s deception as immoral, but partially forgave Gandhi for realizing that the experiment had grown out of his control. Many compared the character of Kumaré and the deception by Gandhi to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character and film. Those who liked the movie, like Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, praised the film’s message of “finding the guru within.”

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

Admission is free. Donations are helpful. You are responsible for your drinks and food.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. You can RSVP via our Meetup Page or our Facebook Page.

I Look forward to seeing you all there!

Skeptics in the Pub: Conclave!

This artwork by Jael has been the official logo of ConClave since 1996.

This artwork by Jael has been the official logo of ConClave since 1996.

We are moving our normal second Saturday Get Together back in a week to host a special event. This Saturday come join us for a special Skeptics in the Pub at ConClave!

Last month, we were contacted by the ConClave Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention to host discussion panels about skepticism. After a lot of work and back and forth with the Organizer, it has finally come time to host our panels! This Saturday, October 12th at 3:00 and 4:00 PM Michigan Skeptics will host two panels.

The first is “DON’T PANIC!”

There is a great deal of alarming and some down-right scary stories in the media these day. Many of them directly conflicting with each other. How can we sort through the pseudo-science, the snake oil and the media myths? This panel will give you some suggestions so you can figure out for yourself what is really worth its weight.

During this panel we will be teaching the audience about sensationalism, scams, snake-oil, media hype and scare tactics and most of all, arming them with the tools they need to figure out for themselves what is real and what is not.

The second panel is “The Skeptics Movement.”

The Skeptics are a group that entreats us to use critical thinking and evidence when dealing with every day life. They use these tools when dealing with Conspiracy Theories like the supposed faking of the moon landing or with the likelihood of psychics and mind-readers. What are their positions, and how does one join?

Here is where we get to shine and talk about us. Our goal is to well, talk about the skeptics movement. Who we are, what we do, and what makes us so great. And why we think more people need to be skeptics.

I know, it’s an uphill battle, right? It’s tough for people to change their way of life. It’s even harder to convince someone to do it. I think the important thing is to talk to people and tell them there is something they can do about the world around them. This is the way to do it.

If you have never been to a SciFi/Fantasy Convention before then you are definitely missing out. You will find a bit of everything there. From cosplay to  Con-Suites. There are all kinds of people there and all kinds of Woo. Which makes it a great place to talk skepticism.

Lyle of our sister group Yooper Skeptics. (he even looks like a yooper, doesn't he?)

Lyle of our sister group Yooper Skeptics. (he even looks like a yooper, doesn’t he?)

We would love for you to come and join us during the panels and help support skepticism in the community. A Saturday only day pass will run you $35, while a full three-day pass will cost $50. If you can make it we would love to see you there. If you can’t, we are hosting an event that evening where you don’t have to pay an admission fee.

We are hosting one last event for the Convention. We’re having a Skeptics in the Pub in the hotel bar at 7:00 PM! This event is open to the public so come on out and support skepticism! We will even have a special guest. Nathan Lyle of our sister group Yooper Skeptics, (and his son, mini-guest Ray) from all the way up in Marquette, Michigan will be in town and joining us for drinks and fun conversations.

Tickets for ConClave, both the Saturday only ticket and the full three-day pass are available at the door. Remember you don’t need to purchase a ticket for Skeptics in the Pub. You only need to pay for your food and drinks.

You can register for Skeptics in the Pub: Conclave at our Meetup site or on our Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Energy Is Not a Solved Problem: The MISkeptics Get Together

This month we are looking at energy storage and production.

Ludington Pumped Storage

The Pumped Storage Facility in Ludington Michigan Stores water in an elevated pond and releases it through turbines when there is heightened need for electricity.

Several months ago, Peter Sinclair joined us to talk about climate change, future energy production and energy storage. One of the energy storage solutions he referenced was the Ludington Pumped Storage facility on the West side of the state.

This inspired our very own John Dreystadt to research energy storage and he is presenting his findings to us.

The presentation will have three parts, why is storage important for the grid, why is it hard, and what the future may hold.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary. You can RSVP via Meetup, Facebook or by Google Plus.

I hope to see you all there!

The Michigan Skeptics Association Third Anniversary

Jo Randall

Jo Randall is an amazing singer/songwriter and member of the group.

It’s our third birthday!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been going strong for three long years. It’s even harder to believe that we have such a great and diverse group of members as you.

This month we celebrate!

We will look back at the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to plans for the next.

As a special bonus, Jo Randall is coming back to perform for us! This amazing lady has a wonderful voice and a repertoire of her own music. Her first live performance in front of an audience was for us two years ago. She now has more songs and is looking forward to seeing us again.

So come on out and join the party!

Who knows… There may be cake…

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary. You can RSVP via Meetup, Facebook,or Google Plus.

I hope to see you all there!

The MISkeptics May Get Together: 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men Movie Poster

12 Angry Men Movie Poster

The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the jurors’ prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.

This month we are going to watch a classic in critical thinking and a classic in its own right, 12 Angry Men. We’re going to see the movie then review the logical problems in it.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

Remember! We are using our summer hours now. We start at 4:00 PM. We will go back to fall/winter hours in September.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary.

You can RSVP on our Meetup page, our Facebook page, or our Google Plus page.

Don’t forget to follow us on Meetup, Facebook, and Google+ for further events, news articles and interesting ideas.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Our April Get Together is This Saturday!

MISkeptics Get Together

We sell these at our MISkeptics store.

This Saturday, April 13th at 1:00 PM is our April Get Together.

This is a social gathering. There’s a lot that has happened so be ready for good food lots of talk and great conversation!

Please RSVP at one of the following pages:

Our Meetup Page, our Facebook Page, or our Google Plus Page.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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