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SDARI Event Archives

Event Archives 2007:

  • November 25, 2007  Attorney Jim McElroy on The Cross, the Constitution, and San Diego.

    Just about a year ago one of SDARI’s best known and most controversial members died. Philip Paulson stood in the stead of many of us when he stood his ground in the face of an unrelenting assault. Without legal representation, he won his lawsuit to remove a sectarian symbol from public property. Then each victory was appealed. Jim McElroy surely knows more about both the legal issues and the man behind them than anybody. He represented Phil from 2002 until Phil died last year, and continues with new plaintiffs to this day. He has voted by his peers as San Diego’s outstanding Attorney of the Year in 2004.

  • October 28, 2007  Dr. Ray Ashley on Local science history.

    In October we will welcomed back Dr. Ray Ashley, history professor at the University of San Diego and the Executive Director of the San Diego Maritime Museum. The museum is also one of our city’s great historical treasures. Dr. Ashley gave us a bit of the local history of science combined with the romance of exploration. The museum is building a full scale replica of the San Salvador. That’s the ship Juan Cabrillo himself sailed into our harbor at the very start of what is considered the scientific revolution.

  • September 23, 2007  Professor Annalisa Berta on Missing links.

    San Diego State Biology Professor Annalisa Berta received a Bachelor's degree magna cum laude from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She states that thousands of pieces of evidence for evolution abound. Anatomical studies of well preserved hind limbs of fossil whales 50 million years ago leave no doubt that whales had feet and walked on land. And the evidence keeps mounting. Fossils of a ~24 million year old whale have been discovered which confirms that baleen whales went through a stage in which both teeth and baleen were present in adults.

  • August 26, 2007 Professor Christopher Wills on Human evolution.

    Where will this evolution lead mankind? What will we look like or act like a few millennia from now, in case we find a way to live that long? Likely few of us will survive that long, but Dr. Wills, if anybody, can make a prognostication. The future looks interesting and the method of trying to determine what is it fascinating. Even the rate of HIV proliferation seems to offer clues. Are we not interested in learning what lies ahead for mankind whether we'll be there to witness it or not?

  • July 22, 2007 Mark Sauer of the San Diego Union-Tribune on The Diocese, the Crimes, and the Cover-up.

    After being caught red-handed committing heinous crimes people will often repent, ask forgiveness, and resolve that they will not do it again. If only the repentance and resolve came before the crime, but something is better than nothing. Institutions, not having to answer to any sort of conscience, hold themselves above repentance. That is nowhere illustrated better than when churches or the clergy get caught red-handed, not even if it is the most heinous crime of all, child molestation. The ongoing story of the San Diego diocese and its cover up, then obfuscation of a series of crimes by priests over decades has been the subject of many stories in the San Diego Union-Tribune over the past several months. July’s SDARI program featured the lead writer on the series.

    Mark Sauer has many friends in SDARI for his work on cases which screamed for rational thought: the outlandish charges against Dale Akiki, the nearly impossible story of Stephanie Crowe’s murder, the charges of rape of his six-year-old daughter against Chief Petty Officer Jim Wade. He also worked on the first newspaper series in the nation in the early 1990s to expose the hoax of repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by a cadre of true-believers in the psychotherapy profession. All were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. Mark worked on every one.

    Mark Sauer is a graduate of Michigan State and has been with the Union-Trib for 27 years. He has been our speaker and has written extensively about SDARI on several occasions.

  • June 24, 2007 Dr. Richard Wiseman on DVD discussed luck, ESP and magic: How Science Tests the Unusual

    SDARI presented a Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series DVD.

    Dr. Richard Wiseman has established and international reputation for research into the scientific examination of unusual areas within the psychology of magic, eyewitness testimony, the psychology of the paranormal, and experimenter bias in ESP research. In the video that was shown, his presentation is funny, entertaining, and informative. The DVD shown is available for loan to SDARI members. See our Library page.

    Dr. Wiseman heads the psychology lab at the University of Hertfordshire, but he started his working life as a award-winning professional magician. His work has been reported in over 40 academic journal articles, including in Nature, Science, and Psychological Bulletin. In addition, he has co-authored 6 books and presented over 50 papers at both national and international conferences. His latest book is Magic in Theory: An Introduction to the Theoretical and Psychological Elements of Conjuring.

  • May 27, 2007 Phil Gay on Fostering Science and Technology in Our Future Citizens Via Science Fair Experiences

    Every year we honor junior and senior high school students for the quality of their projects exhibited at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. the SDARI awards are given for critical thinking — the sort of thinking that marks a scientist and makes her different from just another curious person. Participation in the science fair fosters excellence in students and encourages their development as problem solvers rather than as problems. This takes a tremendous amount of commitment on the part of a lot of adults.

    Who are they? What do they do? Who pays for all this? What happens to the winners?

    Phil Gay, our May Speaker has as many answers as anybody. Mr. Gay has been involved in the program for many years as a high school science teacher, as a parent of two youngsters who took part in the program, as the manager of the science programs for the San Diego Unified School District, and now as president of the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair.

  • April 22, 2007  Annual presentation of prizes to the winners of SDARI's San Diego Science and Engineering Fair judging.

    April’s program once again featured young scientists from San Diego’s school who are winners of our science fair awards for rational thinking. We at SDARI insist that rational thinking more than anything else is our best hope for the country. The program was moderated by one of our own, Elie Shneour, President and Research Director of The Biosystems Research Institute in La Jolla.

    This year SDARI's judges chose seven young scientists. One even qualified for the Ernie Ernissee Award, reserved only for an exceptional project. Michael Vredenburgh and his six co-winners demonstrated what so few of our country’s leaders can do, look for the truth no matter where or what it is.

  • March 25, 2007  Keith Taylor on Protecting the Innocent: Shouldn't We Do It?

    Nothing can make a person feel more important than to have someone trust him without question. When it happens it’s generally from a person who is the most vulnerable, one of our kids or grandkids. Sadly so many of us abrogate that responsibility and turn it over to institutions who tell us they have all the answers. Far too often, the result is one of the saddest stories in today’s America. SDARI has looked at the question of religiously inspired child abuse a couple of times. At our March 2007 meeting, with papers heralding the news daily, it was time to revisit this important topic. Nothing could be more antithetical to SDARI’s announced mission, DARE TO THINK, than blind faith.

    Keith Taylor is a retired Navy officer, a columnist and freelance author, a former president and current program chair of SDARI, and a general agitator to correct things he perceives as wrong. He has appeared on both local and national broadcast media touting skepticism and urging folks to apply rational thought to wild claims of all sorts.

  • February 25, 2007  Professor Tom English on Global Warming and the Biosphere.


    Scarcely a day goes by without seeing a headline like "No Stopping Climate Shift." Eleven of the last twelve years rank among the warmest years since 1850. By the end of this century, temperatures are projected to further increase by 3.2 to 7.8°F. It is expected that a 3.2°F increase will "commit to extinction" about a quarter of the Earth's current species.

    Global Warming and the Biosphere Global Warming and the Biosphere Global Warming and the Biosphere

    The biological impacts of global warming were compared with the impacts caused by tropical rainforest destruction and over-harvesting of the oceans. Desirable options for avoiding these disasters were discussed.

    Dr. English is the President of the TESSI Endangered Species Institute, and an adjunct Professor at Palomar College. He is president of the San Diego Chapter of Reasons to Believe, and a member of the Advisory Board of the IDEA Center. He co-led the campaign to have the Presbyterian Church adopt a new policy "On Preserving Biodiversity and Halting Mass Extinction." Dr. English advised President Carter's Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Government of Sweden on high-level nuclear waste disposal. At the U.S. EPA, he directed an $80 million per year Energy & Environment Program; and also directed an epidemiological study of 40,000 people to determine the human health effects of air pollutants. He received a Presidential Award for leading the recovery program to fix the F-111 fighter/bomber after the wings fell off the aircraft.

  • January 28, 2007  Donald Albright on What is Geothermal Energy, and can it help our energy problems?

    Just imagine if could tap into a nearby energy source and find enough energy to replace about half of the electricity we’re now using. Let’s take it a step further and say the energy would not be depleted. It’s renewable. Perhaps best of all we would not need to throw more pollutants into the atmosphere. Down some 4000 feet below the surface near the border area near Imperial County lay thermal springs of excessively hot water. Brought to the surfaced it can be converted to steam. But can such energy be tapped? It can and it is. Three plants in Imperial County and one across the border in Mexico are now running. Our January meeting was on this subject and a history of geology in San Diego.

    Donald Albright is a veteran of 28 years as a science teacher in the San Diego school system. He is currently an educational specialist for the San Diego History Museum. Mr Albright not only conducts lectures at the museum in Balboa Park, he conducts field trips. Upcoming, a trip to the geothermal sites in Imperial County.

Past SDARI Events and Presentations

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