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Monday, May 23, 2016

NECSS 2016

Last week, we attended the eighth annual Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) held in New York City sponsored by the  New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society.  We met interesting people and engaged in many conversations about science and critical thinking.

The meeting kicked-off with a day of talks about science-based medicine, including critical examination of functional medicine and chronic Lyme disease. Clay Jones showed a video of a baby getting a chiropractic adjustment that made us cringe.

Highlights of the conference included a live podcast of Skeptics Guide to the Universe, featuring guest rogue Bill Nye (the Science Guy), and an entertaining keynote speech by Richard Wiseman.  Wiseman ended the second day of talks at the meeting with an experimental "speaker-less" presentation that involved the audience self-performing magic tricks and other tomfoolery.  

The conference ended with a provocative speech by John Horgan, who declared himself an outsider skeptic, with a lowercase 's',  and proceeded to bash the audience and all-things Skeptical, with a capital 'S'.  While Horgan had a potentially useful point to make, that skeptics should put more effort in tackling more challenging topics, it was mostly lost in a sea of straw man arguments and contrarianism.  Other folks (Novella, Coyne, Gorski) have done a good job of deconstructing the talk, so we won't duplicate the effort here.

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