Monthly LecturesMonthly lectures are held on the third Saturday of each month (except in the summer).
Unless otherwise noted below, all meetings are held at 2:00 PM at the Community College of Philadelphia's Main campus in Center City Philadelphia, PA.
We usually use one of these meeting rooms:
The March, 2014, meeting will be in room C2-28. The location for the April meeting has not yet been determined. Please check back later.
Click here for a campus map.
Click here for a street map of the area.
Free parking is available in the college parking lot on 17th St, across the street from the parking garage. The lot is open from 1 to 6 PM.
PhACT thanks Dr. David Cattell and the Philadelphia Community College for providing us with an excellent meeting space.
The general public is more than welcome to attend our lectures. You do not need to be a PhACT member to attend.
For information, contact Bob Glickman at email@example.com
Executive MeetingsExecutive meetings are held prior to the monthly lectures, at 1:00 p.m. Any member may attend.
Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Bigfoot and CryptozoologyMonster hunting, or Cryptozoology, is often consigned to the realm of pseudoscience, and pursued by amateurs such as those on the television series Finding Bigfoot. There is, however, a long history of mainstream scientists and naturalists who engaged with monsters as a way to understand human heredity, biological diversity, and evolution. In this lecture, Dr. Brian Regal will look at the history of academic monster hunting and how it became marginalized. He will use the life of the controversial paleoanthropologist Grover Krantz as a vehicle to examine this topic.
Dr. Brian Regal teaches the history of science at Kean University. He is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, and has lectured and presented papers to scholarly conferences and popular presentations across the US, the UK, and Germany. In addition to scholarly works on the history of evolutionary biology, he has written Op-Ed pieces for The Star-Ledger and The Guardian, and has appeared in USA Today, Science, the Times of India, and the Wall Street Journal. His most recent book is Searchingfor Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads, and Cryptozoology (2013).
Monday, April 28, 2014 - Michael Shermer on The Believing BrainTime: TBD, but in the evening.
Place: Community College of Philadelphia, room TBD
The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies -- How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
Synthesizing thirty years of research, Michael Shermer upends traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first, and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. Using sensory data that flow in through the senses, the brain naturally looks for and finds patterns -— and then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed, our brains subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, accelerating the process of reinforcing them —- and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop. Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. And ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not our beliefs match reality.
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University, and the author of The Believing Brain.
NOTE: Since this lecture is held during the Philadelphia Science Fesstivel, it will not be at the usual meeting location or time.
Saturday, May 17, 2014 - PhACT Ghostbusting Expedition to Ridley Creek State ParkGhosts seem to prefer certain types of places such as cemeteries, where their mortal remains lie, and battlefields and old houses, the locations where they died. And situated in the woods at Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County are ruins of colonial houses just waiting to be investigated. It was once thought that we had two distinct bodies, a solid corporeal body and a spiritual one composed of breath, the latter animating the former. A ghost was believed to be a manifestation of a disembodied spirit; spirit, from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath.
Our guide, Don Nigroni, will discuss the history of ghostly apparitions and of this Piedmont site. Accompanying the expedition will be Jeff Cooney and Robb Kerr, Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Weed Warrior trainers, who will be providing zoological and botanical information about the park. Photo-documenting the day's activities will be Kim Sheridan. We will meet at Picnic Area #17 in Ridley Creek State Park at 10:00 AM and take a roughly three mile loop past the ruins of the colonial Mullen dwelling house and the Mosser dwelling house, summer kitchen, and barn. After lunching at Picnic Area #17, we will proceed to the remains of the historically significant Jacob Minshall House (1711), about one mile each way.
Although we might not find many ghosts along the way, we will surely learn about the rich history of the area and the natural history of this park which covers over 2,606 acres. Bring insect repellent, sturdy shoes, lunch, binoculars, and a camera. The event is free and open to the public. For more information see http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ridleycreek
Saturday, June 21, 2014 - PhACT Picnic10:00 to 2:00 Mondauk Common Park (our usual location)
We always have fun visiting, eating, and playing sports. Bring your own food, you can cook on the grill. And bring stuff to throw. We have reserved the pavilion in the woods on the Southeast corner of Mondauk Common park in Upper Dublin. This is good fun for the whole family.
We will again have a book swap - it can be a great free way to build up a science/skeptic book collection - or help someone else do so.
Broad street runs between Susquehanna and Limekiln roads. From the PA turnpike, go to the Fort Washington exit and take Rt 309 north, take the second exit and turn right onto Susquehanna. Make a left at the second light onto Broad Street, park in the second parking lot on the left, and follow the little sand path up to the pavilion.
For those with a GPS unit, program it for the intersection of Broad Street and Twin Pond Drive in Fort Washington, PA.