Skip to content

Skeptic Chat With

The MISkeptics November Get Together: Evolution Is As Complicated As 1-2-3

Zachary BlountOur next Get Together will be Saturday, November 10th, at 1:00 PM. This month we will have a special guest. Joining us will be Dr. Zachary Blount.

Dr. Blount is a post-doctoral researcher at the Beacon Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. He is also the lead author on a new paper in the latest edition of Nature.

His paper details how he and his team documented the step-by-step process in which organisms evolve new functions. Blount and his teammates analyzed 29 genomes from different generations to find the mutational pieces of the puzzle. They uncovered a three-step process in which the bacteria developed new abilities.

“It’s pretty nifty to see a new biological function evolve,” said Zachary Blount, postdoctoral researcher in MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. “The first citrate-eaters were just barely able to grow on the citrate, but they got much better over time. We wanted to understand the changes that allowed the bacteria to evolve this new ability. We were lucky to have a system that allowed us to do so.”

Dr. Blount will join us for food, drinks and discussion in what will be a very entertaining and informative event.

I have a feeling this will fill up fast so the sooner you RSVP the better your chance to attend. You can RSVP at our Meetup event, our Facebook event or our Google Plus event.

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 take part.

I hope to see you all there!

An Evening with “Brother Sam” creator Roger Scott Jackson. RSVP now!

Publicity shot for Brother Sam Singleton

Brother Sam singleton is putting on a show in Maumee, OH on the 1st. But on the 31st he will be meeting with us.

Roger Scott “RoSco” Jackson, the creator and actor behind Brother Sam Singleton will be visiting Michigan for one evening only. Michigan Skeptics has the honor of hosting a dinner with the famous “Atheist Evangelist”. On the 1sy he will be putting on a show in Maumee, OH, but on the 31st he will be having dinner with us.

This is a last-minute event so if you can, please try to make it out. It’s a rare event to meet a national entertainer so intimately. This will be a casual, informal event to gather and meet RoSco in a way that not many else can.

If you are not familiar with RoSco Jackson or Brother Sam, check out our post about him from June.

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 take part.

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

I look forward to seeing you all there!

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.

Continue reading

A Skeptical Chat With…Peter Sinclair of ‘Climate Denial Crock of the Week’

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

Today I speak with Peter Sinclair about his website at Climate Crocks, and he answers my questions regarding his interest in Global Warming. 

Peter Sinclair will be attending the Michigan Skeptics Association's meet-up on Saturday, December 11th - and will provide a formal presentation on global warming with Q & A afterwards

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about the ClimateCrocks.com website. Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association website, please, about who you are, what got you interested in the issue of climate change, and what led you to inform the public about it?

I grew up in a family that was very active in issues of environment, particularly around the siting of a nuclear plant very close to downtown Midland, where I live.  I learned a lot about the economic and political forces shaping energy decisions, and how important energy was going to be to whether we survive as a civilization. I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about environment and climate change for some 30 years, but only in the last 3 or so have I actually been interacting intensely with top level climate scientists to understand the big picture in some detail.

I believe climate change is the most critical issue facing humanity, and I have kids.  There’s simply no way I could remain silent about it.

Continue reading

A Skeptical Chat With…Jack Scanlan of ‘Homologous Legs’

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

Today I speak with Jack Scanlan about his website called Homologous Legs, his podcast “The PseudoScientists” and he answers my questions regarding his interest in Evolution, rebutting Intelligent Design articles, and skepticism.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your blog Homologous Legs and the Pseudo Scientists podcast.  Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association, please, about who you are, what made you create the Homologous Legs blog, and the circumstances that led to the Pseudo Scientists podcast? 

I’m Jack Scanlan, an Australian biology student, and I write under the name Naon Tiotami about evolution and its pseudoscientific critics – namely intelligent design proponents and creationists – on my blog Homologous Legs. I started the blog in April of 2008 to compliment the YouTube videos I was making at the time, responding to fundamentalist Christians who had a very poor understanding of evolutionary theory. Over time I stopped making those types of videos, but my blogging remained and became broader in scope, focusing not just on Biblical creationists but also on the influential intelligent design movement, as well as general skepticism and science communication.I’m heavily involved in the skeptical and secular communities and I’m one of the founding members of the slightly niche Young Australian Skeptics (YAS) group blog and community, which was created in late 2008 as a place for the younger people in the Australian skeptical movement to have a voice and meet like-minded people. Its official podcast is The Pseudo Scientists, which caters to the podcasting needs of the YAS’s members, needs that are often voracious. Continue reading

A Skeptical Chat With…Dan Moutal of ‘Irregular Climate’

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

Today I speak with Dan Moutal about his website and podcast www.IrregularClimate.com, and he answers my questions regarding his approach to providing information on global warming.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about the Irregular Climate podcast and blog.  Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association website, please, about who you are, what got you interested in the issue of climate change, and what led you to create the Irregular Climate podcast?

What can I say? Well I guess I can start by saying that I am not a climate expert. My formal education ends at a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Forestry. Because I am not an expert I try to convey, not my opinion, but that of the mainstream scientific community; it is this opinion that has authority. This is the bedrock of reasoning as to why I accept global warming. I accept mainstream science, even when I don’t fully understand it.

But the great thing about climate is that much of the science can be understood ( at least qualitatively) by laypeople. Unfortunately in order to understand climate as a layperson one needs to be very good at weeding out bad sources. There exists a co-ordinated and well funded misinformation campaign and many well intentioned people have been mislead by it. No one wants to receive bad news after all.

I started blogging (http://mind.ofdan.ca/) many years ago as a way to catalogue interesting stuff I found on the internet. Slowly my blog grew, as did my readership (not that I have ever had many readers). I dabbled in political blogging (I have strong opinions on many political issues), but got tired of the predictable partisan nature of the political blog landscape. So overtime I drifted away from politics and moved slowly towards science. Having always been fascinated by science I preferred this subject even if my readership declined. One specific topic that has always both intrigued and worried me is the issue of sustainability. This inevitably lead to dealing with the climate. And I was astonished to see the gulf of opinion between the public and the scientific community. I was even more astonished by those why claimed to be experts but were peddling obviously flawed talking points. So I focused my efforts on climate. The issue is too important for the public to have such a poor understanding of it.

The Irregular Climate podcast began because I couldn’t find a climate podcast that covered all the topics I wanted covered. So I bought I microphone and started recording without really knowing what I was doing. I’ve learnt a lot since the first episode, but also realized how much more there is for me to learn.

Continue reading

A Skeptical Chat With…The Healthy Fellow

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

Today I speak with JP Fanton about his website www.HealthyFellow.com and he answers my questions regarding his approach to providing information on natural health and holistic remedies.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about natural health consultation, research, and writing.  Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association website, please, about who you are, your interests in natural health consulting and research, and what led you to create the HealthyFellow.com website?


Thank you for having me as a guest on your site, Chris. I’m very happy to be here. A little bit about me: My name is JP Fanton and I’m the content provider for HealthyFellow.com – a website that provides evidence-based information pertaining to natural health issues. My ultimate goal is to assist health care consumers and providers to select the best possible treatment options available. As you mentioned in your introduction, I also offer consultations to individuals and companies that may benefit from my knowledge.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: