SDARI Event Archives 2003
- November 23, 2003 -- Keith Taylor on Don't ask/Don't tell/Don't even pretend it is working
What is this law? Where did it come from? How does it serve our national security? Keith Taylor recently returned from a conference on Don't Ask Don't Tell at Hofstra University. He discussed the drawbacks and irrationalities of this policy.
- October 26, 2003 -- Meeting cancelled because of San Diego County wildfires.
- September 28, 2003 -- Robert Sheaffer on The Case for the Existence of UFOs
After more than five decades filled with UFO reports, books, TV programs, magazines, and conferences, what is the case for the existence of UFOs? Is there any solid evidence for claims of extraterrestrial visitors? Communications engineer, columnist, author, and CSICOP fellow Robert Sheaffer examined numerous 'classic' sightings including the 'abduction' of Betty and Barney Hill, the Jimmy Carter UFO sighting, and claims about the 'Roswell crash.' The reliability of witnesses as well as the role of the media in reporting UFO events was explored.
- August 24, 2003 -- Randy Gibson on Forensic Document Examination and Graphology: Which is Which and Does it Matter?
Suppose you have an overwhelming impulse to pilfer things from a department store, can a trained analyst determine that from your handwriting? Or, a person has been kiting checks, can she disguise her handwriting and fool the cops? Randy Gibson has been working for local crime laboratories since 1979. For the past 12 years he has been a Forensic Document Examiner with the San Diego Police Department Crime Lab. Randy has been certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners since 1998, and is currently serving as a director on that board, as well as maintaining their web site. He is also a director of the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
- July 27, 2003 -- The Honorable Victor Ramirez on Truth is Not the Enemy. It is the essence of Freedom.
On September 11, 2001, we watched in horror as some 3,000 of our fellow citizens died and as two of the proudest buildings crashed to the ground. We were angry, and we were frightened. We were at war and wanted to be protected. Now the questions are: How much should we cede to our government in the name of security? Is there a point where we will become our own worst enemy? Where does the Constitution lie in all this? Only an informed public, armed with the truth, can decide. The Honorable Victor Ramirez addressed these questions and more. Judge Ramirez served 23 years in judicial service in both Superior and Municipal Courts. He was twice the highest rated Municipal Court Judge in the county according to a newspaper poll. He was a four-time recipient of the Trial Judge of the Year award given by the Consumer Lawyers Association.
- June 22, 2003 -- Dr. Barbara Hemmingsen, on The facts about pollution of our local ocean area
Huge numbers of humans live along sea coasts. Inevitably their wastes end up in the sea. While it is obvious that untreated sewage dumped into coastal seawater would be hazardous to recreational users, how much treatment is needed to reduce the risk? What about bacteria, viruses, and chemicals that enter the sea in untreated storm water from cars, industrial and building sites, and the feces of wild and domesticated animals? Barbara Hemmingsen, Professor of Microbiology at SDSU, critically evaluated both the evidence that recreational exposure to polluted coastal seawater can lead to human disease and the techniques currently used to detect microbial pollution. As with so many other environmental issues, this one is far more complex than some special interests would like us to believe.
- May 25, 2003 -- James Underdown, on They Talk to the Dead, or Do They?
What if SDARI held a seance? It would be a great fund raiser. Nonsense trumps rational thought every time when there's money to be had. A few "mediums" are raking in huge amounts of money, but how do they do it? James Underdown, Executive director of the Center for Inquiry-West and the Independent Investigations Group (which he heads) sat in on tapings of John Edward and James Van Praagh last Fall and found out more than the mediums want you to know. Underdown is a native of Chicago, and a 1982 graduate of DePauw University. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Penn and Teller's Bullshit on Showtime, the Roseanne Show, History's Mysteries on the History Channel, Hannity and Colmes on the Fox News Channel, and dozens of news and radio shows.
- April 27, 2003 -- Gina Green, PhD, on Autism
Autism, a disorder of brain development, has been surrounded by mystery and controversy since it was first identified more than 50 years ago. Although there is no universal cure, either behavioral or biomedical for the disorder, there are many therapies and practices in autism that have the earmarks of "voodoo science;" that is, they derive from junk science, pseudoscience, pathological science, and even outright fraud. Dr, Green's presentation described some of those therapies and practices, and explored reasons for the continued - and perhaps increasing - popularity of voodoo science in autism treatment. Dr. Green is currently the Director of Professional Training and Research for The Institute for Effective Education in San Diego, CA and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Behavior Analysis, University of North Texas. She has authored numerous publications on the treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities and brain injuries, as well as the experimental analysis of behavior. Dr. Green co-edited the books Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism and Making a Difference: Behavioral Intervention for Autism.
- March 23, 2003 -- Alex Boese on "Hoaxes"
Hoaxes give purpose to skeptics, especially organized skeptics. Still, our involvement pales beside that of Alex Boese. Alex is curator of an online museum devoted to hoaxes. Some of them are wonders. Many have a tenuous string to reality, but have the ability to deceive, usually evoke a belly laugh. Alex Boese tied in many hoaxes with the annual spate of them on April. He is the author of The Museum of Hoaxes (Dutton, 2002), based on the popular website of the same name: Museum of Hoaxes. When not researching hoaxes, he is completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, San Diego. In his capacity as a "hoaxpert" (hoax expert) Alex has been interviewed by numerous radio stations and newspapers including USA Today and The New York Times and has appeared as a guest on CNN and MSNBC.
- February 23, 2003 -- Wesley R. Elsberry on "Intelligent Design. What is science? What purports to be science?"
While evolution is now widely accepted, some insist it isn't enough to explain the history and diversity of life. Two technical-sounding arguments, Michael Behe's "irreducible complexity" and William Dembski's "specified complexity," form the philosophical underpinnings of the modern "intelligent design" movement. Is this a matter rational thinkers should be concerned about? Should schools teach their arguments alongside that of Darwin? SDARI's own Wesley R. Elsberry examined the arguments of the ID movement. Elsberry received his B.S. in Zoology at the University of Florida in 1982 and is completing his Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries at Texas A&M University this year. He is co-author on peer-reviewed papers in the "Journal of Experimental Biology" and in "Biology and Philosophy". He has given invited talks for the "Center for Theology and Natural Sciences" (2001) and to CSICOP last year. For more information see Elsberry's Antievolution web site.
- January 26, 2003 -- Elie A. Shneour on "Terrorism: What We Are Really Up Against"
What on earth does mass destruction mean to us personally? We hear about it in the news daily. We're poised to go to war to avoid it. Mr. Shneour presented a no-holds-barred frank unclassified analysis of the perceived vs. the real risks of the major biological, chemical and nuclear technologies that could be used by terrorists. What precautions can the citizen take to increase his/her chances of surviving an attack? What criteria should we use to assess the hype of government and media in the crisis atmosphere of the day? Elie A. Shneour is a founding member of SDARI, head of the Biosystems Research Institute, former chair of the SD County Science Advisory Board, member of its Disaster Preparedness Council and Specialist in Biological/Chemical/Nuclear risks.
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