*Calendar of Events*

Earlier Meetings


(Description to follow)
Given the higher-than-normal interest in the results of the election this time, it seemed likely that our turnout would be small. (Besides, we didn’t want to give anyone an excuse for not going to vote!) So we skipped the meeting this month.
At our October meeting, we viewed two episodes of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!". Well-known magicians and skeptics Penn & Teller recently hosted “Bullshit!” on Showtime. (No, they’re not subtle.) In this series, they cast a skeptical eye on such topics as talking to the dead, alternative medicine, creationism, and alien abduction, as well as some less-expected topics such as second-hand smoke, bottled water, and environmental hysteria.
(Description to follow)
(Description to follow)
Wally Hartshorn, one of the co-founders of REALL and its newsletter editor, presented Medieval Dogma and the Shape of the World, an explanation of how beliefs and preconceived notions made mapping the world a particularly difficult process during the Middle Ages, with some analogies to today’s clashes over science.
Picnic! No meeting at the library in June, due to their annual book sale. Instead, we met at the home of REALL Vice-Chairman Jim Rosenthal for a potluck picnic! A small amount of light rain threatened to put a damper on things (pun!), but quit without getting too serious, leaving us to chat -- and eat -- for hours.
At our May meeting, we viewed part 2 of a video of a Nova program on superstring theory featuring Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, with a general discussion following.
At our April meeting, we viewed part 1 of a video of a Nova program on superstring theory featuring Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, with a general discussion following.
At our March meeting, we had an open forum for general discussion.
February 13 fell on a Friday this year, so we skipped the usual meeting at the library and had a party, a "Friday the 13th Superstition Bash"! Those attending participated in such death-defying feats as breaking mirrors, walking under ladders, and engaging in all manner of 13-related activities! Highlights included breaking mirrors, ladder limbo, superstition jeopardy, a belated Darwin Day birthday cake, food, and door prizes. The event was held at the "Just Off Route 66" diner.
At our January meeting ("Attention E.T.! -- Phone Earth Now!"), REALL presented the final video lecture in the Search for Intelligent Life in Space series: "If We Find E.T., What Then?"


December 2003
At our December meeting ("The Ultimate Reality Show — Finding Space Aliens"), REALL presented two more video lectures in the Search for Intelligent Life in Space series: "Searching for E.T. — Modern Techniques" and "Estimating the Number of Civilizations (The Drake Equation)".
November 2003
At our November meeting (titled "Taking up Space: News and Views"), astronomy enthusiast and REALL board member Jim Rosenthal reviewed the latest developments in astronomy and presented two more video lectures in the Search for Intelligent Life series: "What's E.T. Made Of?" and "Alien Appearance and Motivation: Can Science Tell Us Anything?"
October 2003
At our October meeting, Bob Ladendorf presented "The Mad Gasser of Mattoon: Myth and Reality." One of the most famous terror episodes in US history happened in Central Illinois in 1944. Bob examined what frightened Mattoon residents during a two-week period during World War II.
September 2003
(Description to follow)
August 2003
Due to the timing of the July meeting, there was no August meeting.
July 2003 - Picnic in the Park
In July, we held a cookout/potluck in Douglas Park. (We had planned a little bit of stargazing after it got dark, but the weather prevented that.) Everyone brought a side dish or dessert and REALL provided the main dish from the grill.
June 2003 - No Meeting
Due to the annual book sale at the library, there was no June meeting.
May 2003 - Life on Other Planets
In a continuation of a series of video lectures started in April, we looked closer at the prospects for life on planets in our solar system and in other galaxies. As taught by astronomer Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, the lectures that we watched this time were The Prospects for Life in the Solar System — Mars, Europa, Titan and Other Worlds? The Search for Habitable Planets.
April 2003 - The Search for Space Aliens
For our special April Fools' Day meeting, we began the search for creatures from outer space. This is a fascinating, multi-meeting journey into the history and science of these elusive extraterrestrial life forms. As part of a series of lectures on video by astronomer Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, we watched and discussed the first two lectures in the series, Our Place in the Cosmos and Aliens in the Neighborhood — Fiction and Fact.
March 2003 - REALL: The Next Ten Years
We had a roundtable discussion on REALL: The Next Ten Years, discussing the future of critical thinking in Illinois.
Febuary 2003 - Tenth Anniversary & Darwin Day
February was REALL's tenth anniversary! February 12 is "Darwin Day", celebrated each year on the birthday of Charles Darwin. We gathered the night before to celebrate both! We had newsletters, videos, and memorabilia there. More importantly, we had free finger food, snacks, and soft drinks, as well as our Darwin Day Primordial Soup — It's nutritious, it's delicious, it's educational, it's primordial! Last but not least, we had an anniversary cake and door prizes! All of this took place at the "Just Off Route 66" Diner.
January 2003 - Dateline NBC on Faith Healer Benny Hinn
At our Tuesday, January 7, meeting, we will be showed an hour-long Dateline NBC investigative documentary examining the popularity of faith healer Benny Hinn, who reportedly rakes in $100 million a year in donations from people seeking medical miracles. The video included interviews with former Hinn Ministries employees who are critical of Hinn and his group. The showing was followed by discussion of faith healing.


December 2002 - Evolution and Intelligent Design (Part 2)
Evolution and Intelligent Design (Part 2): We viewed the second half of a new video featuring the lively debate from the 4th World Skeptics Congress in June in Burbank, California, between evolution defenders Kenneth Miller and Wesley Elsberry and ID proponents William Dembski and Paul Nelson. Moderator Massimo Pigliucci developed the format that included short presentations by the speakers, discussion among the speakers, and a question-and-answer session.
November 2002 - Evolution and Intelligent Design (Part 2)
Evolution and Intelligent Design (Part 1): We viewed the first half of a new video featuring the lively debate from the 4th World Skeptics Congress in June in Burbank, California, between evolution defenders Kenneth Miller and Wesley Elsberry and ID proponents William Dembski and Paul Nelson. Moderator Massimo Pigliucci developed the format that included short presentations by the speakers, discussion among the speakers, and a question-and-answer session.
October 2002 - Second Annual Potluck
Our October 6 meeting was our second annual potluck, held at the home of REALL Board member Dave McMaster.
September 2002 - Prof. Karen Bartelt on The Evolution of Intelligent Design
The Evolution of Intelligent Design, presented by Prof. Karen Bartelt: Starting in the 1980s, the case was put forth for "intelligent design" as an alternative to naturalistic processes such as evolution. Since that time, the ID proponents have focused their attention on the general public, and to this day have not published a peer-reviewed paper that supports intelligent design. This presentation will address some of the main arguments proposed by ID, and the evolution of these arguments in the last 20 years. Among those topics will be some of the tactics used by the "Big Four" of the ID movement, and the responses from the scientific community.
August 2002 - No Meeting
There was no meeting in August. Everyone stayed home and tried to stay cool -- again.
July 2002 - No Meeting
There was no meeting in July. Everyone stayed home and tried to stay cool.
June 2002 - No Meeting
Our June 8 meeting was supposed to be our second annual potluck, but due to numerous scheduling problems, it was cancelled.
May 2002 - Springfield Public Schools Foundation's Science Kit Fundraising Effort
To help in the goal of promoting science and education, REALL hosted representatives from the Springfield school district and the Springfield Public Schools Foundation to discuss science standards and fundraising efforts to buy science kits for elementary schoolchildren. We heard how science is taught in our schools and why science kits are important to that learning.
April 2002 - Elections and Roundtable Discussion
At our April 2 meeting, we held our annual elections (always an event at least as exciting as the Bush/Gore vote), then continued talking about the future of REALL, how we could get more involvement, and how we could reach more people.
March 2002 - Roundtable Discussion
Our March 5 meeting was open for any topics people wanted to talk about or questions they wanted to ask.
February 2002 - Evolution: "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"
Since February 12 is Charles Darwin's birthday, our February 5 meeting featured a videotape of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," the first episode of the Evolution series. "Why does Charles Darwin's 'dangerous idea' matter more today than ever, and how does it explain the past and predict the future of life on Earth? The first show interweaves the drama of Darwin's life with current documentary sequences, introducing key concepts of evolution."
January 2002 - Responding to Springfield's Creationists
A creationism club was being formed in Springfield and a recent creationist talk at Lincoln Library drew 100 people. At our January 8 meeting, we discussed what should REALL do to prepare to respond to the creationists.


December 2001 - Psychic Parasites
David had collected a great deal of information on how various "psychics" have behaved since the September 11 attacks. At our December 4 meeting, he presented information about cases beyond what he has already discussed in The REALL News and also expanded greatly on the cases he'd already discussed. David noted, "I hope to have a good turnout because I think the way these people have acted is simply despicable, and I have all the evidence to prove it."
November 2001 - PBS' Evolution
At our November 6 meeting, we viewed a videotape of the final episode of the recent seven-part PBS series. Evolution dealt with, among other things, creationism. "Of all species, we alone attempt to explain who we are and how we came to be. This final show explores the struggle between science and religion. Through the personal stories of students and teachers, it offers the view that they are compatible."
October 2001 - PBS' Food Poisoning as a Cause of Hallucinations in History
Our October 2 meeting featured a PBS videotape, Food Poisoning as a Cause of Hallucinations in History. Could food poisoning have caused the bizarre behavior experienced in Salem, Massachussetts during the witchcraft trials? Through microbiology, agriculture history, and detective techniques, we may have an answer. Ergot poisoning of rye bread, which produces LSD-like substances, may have caused the fits and visions that many people attributed to witches. Indeed, it seems that many episodes of bizarre behavior in history may have been similarly caused. The discussion led by Bob Ladendorf, who has been looking into this interesting theory.
September 2001 - Skeptic Jeopardy!
Skeptic Jeopardy!: Our September 4 meeting was a change of pace as we enjoyed some good food while testing our knowledge of skeptic facts and trivia. We split up into teams, hands on buzzers, and showed what we knew!
August 2001 - Massimo Polidoro on Houdini: A Magician Among the Spirits
This meeting was held on Saturday, August 11, to accomodate the schedule of Massimo Polidoro, one of today's leading skeptics on the paranormal and fringe sciences, and co-founder and Executive Director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. His presentation was Houdini: A Magician Among the Spirits, which discussed the life and times of Harry Houdini, through anecdotes and exciting adventures. The author of two books on Houdini (one just published in the US: Final Seance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle -- Prometheus Books), Massimo told the story of Houdini's life and of his battle against psychic fakery making use of rare footage and audio clips.
July 2001 - Potluck Dinner
Instead of our July meeting, we gathered for a potluck picnic at Dave McMaster's house. Everyone was invited to bring their families for some food, fun and relaxation! (Pictures to follow soon!)
June 2001 - No Meeting
Due to the annual book sale at the library, there was no June meeting.
May 2001
Our May 1 meeting featured a talk by chairman David Bloomberg, who recently attended a conference hosted by CSICOP at which the various local skeptics groups met to discuss ways to improve what we do. David talked a bit about what went on at the conference, and sought input from the members about what REALL should do in the coming months. In addition, changes to the bylaws were voted on and elections were held.
April 2001
At our April 3 meeting, we discussed some proposed changes to our bylaws. In addition, David requested suggestions for issues to raise at the upcoming gathering of the local skeptic group leaders in New York.
March 2001
Our March 6 meeting featured a video, Releasing the Bonds: Combating Cult Mind Control and Empowering People to Think for Themselves, by Steven Hassan. Steven Hassan, a former cult member himself, has been involved in educating the public about mind control and destructive cults for 23 years. A licensed Mental Health Counselor, he holds a Master's Degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College.
February 2001
Our February 6 meeting was "Creationist Goals and Objectives; or, How to Prepare to Give a Lecture to a Creationist Organization". Professor Malcolm Levin discussed, in part, the presentation he recently gave to the Creation Club at Lincoln Land Community College.
January 2001
Our January meeting was a round table discussion about Quantum Physics, led by Richard Walker, Ph.D. This was an informal discussion about some of the stranger discoveries in quantum physics.


December 2000
Our December meeting was cancelled due to lack of a speaker.
November 2000
Our November 7 meeting was held on Election Day! It featured a roundtable discussion on any items of interest to our members. It also feature door prizes, as three issues of the newest Skeptical Inquirer (which includes a book review by REALL's very own David Bloomberg), were given away at the meeting.
October 2000
Our October 3 meeting featured a video, Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Making Contact with Extraterrestrial Life, by Dr. Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute. In this Skeptics Society video, Shostak, an astronomer and public programs scientist for the SETI Institute, discussed the latest science behind SETI, including the new optical SETI and SETI@home. Also discussed were the questions of whether we're alone in the universe, and if it's teaming with extraterrestrial life, why haven't they contacted us yet?
September 2000
Our September 5 meeting featured the video, Carl Sagan: The Measure of a Man. Not one, but two biographies about Carl Sagan came out recently. In this videotaped seminar, originally filmed for C-Span's Book-TV, both biographers, Keay Davidson and William Poundstone, discussed the life and career of Carl Sagan the scientist, social activist, and mediagenic star. They discussed everything from Sagan's pot smoking to his involvement with the SETI program.
August 2000
Our August 1 meeting featured Skeptic Jeopardy. It was a change of pace as we tested our knowledge of skeptic facts and trivia. We split up into teams, hands on buzzers, and showed what we knew!
July 2000
No meeting will be held on July 4. See you in August!
June 2000
Our June 4 meeting, held at Shakey's Pizza & Buffet due to the library being used for their annual book sale, featured elections, Skeptic Jeopardy, conversation, and food.
May 2000
At our May 2 meeting, David Gehrig presented "Holocaust Revisionism on Trial in London, Or: When Crackpots Sue Scholars, It Costs Lots of Dollars." Historical writer David Irving claims Hitler didn't order the mass murder of the Holocaust, there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, etc. Professor Deborah Lipstadt called Irving "one of the most dangerous spokesmen" for Holocaust denial in her book. In response, Irving sued. The trial went on for the first three months of 2000 and the verdict is in. Gehrig has followed the trial in detail and presented the case, its background, some Auschwitz history, and discussed the implications of the verdict.
April 2000
At our April 4 meeting, Professor Malcolm Levin presented Teaching the Differences Between Science and Religion: Creationism and Evolutionary Theory. Were Darwin's methods and processes of developing an evolutionary theory consistent with the "way of science"? Stated another way: Are Darwin's evolutionary theories good science? Professor Levin examined modern evolutionary theory and creationism in the same context -- do these theories meet the tests of good science?
March 2000
Our March 7 meeting featured the video Fighting for Evolution in America's Schools by Dr. Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). In this videotaped lecture from the 1999 Skeptics Society conference, Dr. Scott described the battle for quality science education in America's schools. Her presentation was described as "funny, frightening, and clear." She warned about the rising crowd of "intelligent-design" creationists and explains why so many people are scared enough of evolution to try to keep it out of public schools.
February 2000
At our February 1 meeting, Dr. Richard Walker and Dr. Rense Lange presented "How Nature Works: Parables Hidden in the Sands of Time." Confused by living in a culture that forces you to choose: Skepticism vs. Faith; Science vs. Religion; Objectivity vs. Subjectivity; Reductionism vs. Mysticism? Walker & Lange set forth evidence about a new model of how nature works: An inherent process of Self-Organizing Criticality. This concept is surprisingly easy to grasp, both conceptually and mathematically. Lange and Walker described, applied, and illustrated it across a broad domain of fields, from economic depressions to the size of galaxies to earthquakes, and highlighted its counterintuitive implications for science, philosophy, epistemology, and statistics. They showed a computer simulation of the sand pile model, discussed its surprising properties, and applied them directly to daily life.
January 2000
Our January 4 meeting featured a group discussion, Y2K and Millennial Madness: What Did and Didn't Happen. It was REALL's way of welcoming everyone into the year 2000. At long last, we began to hear less about "the millennium." That said, what better to talk about at our meeting than what did or didn't happen at the turn of the non-millennium? And there were even refreshments!


December 1999
At our December 7 meeting, Rense Lange, Ph.D., presented "Paranormal Experiences Out of Virtually Nothing." People are predisposed to do dumb things when they don't know what they're dealing with. More specifically, if a person thinks something odd will happen, it's more likely that they will find something odd to have happened! This type of "attentional bias" becomes apparent when looking at paranormal experiences like poltergeists, hauntings, and similar occurrences. Rense Lange discussed the role of attentional bias, addressed two mechanisms that have been found to be related to the occurrence of anomalous experiences and beliefs, and related these to ghosts, delusions, meme theory, aspects of clinical psychology, and more. Lange has a Ph.D. in psychology and a Masters degree in computer science. He has written numerous papers for refereed journals in areas ranging from psychology to artificial intelligence to catastrophe modeling to paranormal events.
November 1999
At our November 2 meeting, David Bloomberg discussed urban legends. If you have heard that tattoos laced with LSD are being passed out to kids, or that a sick little boy in England wants to get enough postcards to break the world record before he dies, you have heard urban legends. Some of these are entertaining, while others can cause serious problems. David Bloomberg, chairman of REALL, discussed some of the most common urban legends, talked about why they spread, and explained how you can identify them. He reviewed how the media has handled these stories, addressed some of the history of such legends, and showed how they merge, diverge, change, and evolve as they move from person to person.
October 1999
At our October 5 meeting, David Gehrig returned to present "Holocaust Revisionism: Honest Inquiry or Thinly Veiled Hate?" Who are the "Holocaust revisionists" — those who propose that the Nazis had no genocidal program against the Jews in World War II? What are they saying? What is their motivation? What can we do about it? David Gehrig, who has debated numerous revisionists and looked into their claims, addressed the pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and pseudologic used by revisionists in their assertions. He examined the standards of evidence they use in their work, and looked at the history of some of the organizations and people who put forth these claims.
September 1999
Our September meeting featured a videotaped presentation by David Skal of "Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture." Skal, a historian of horror and monster films and popular culture, and has written several books on the subject. We learned about the mad scientist's cultural significance, how Frankenstein spurred the invention of the cardiac pacemaker, the folklore of UFOs, and a hit parade of mad scientists, demented doctors, and assorted evil geniuses to help us catch up on our B-movie classics.
August 1999
At our August 3 meeting, David Gehrig presented "The Bible Codes: What Do the Numbers Say?" Einstein said, "God doesn't play dice with the universe." But what about Scrabble? Recent books have proclaimed that the Bible contains crossword-like encoded messages which can only be read using computer analysis. Is this true, or is it just wishful thinking? Gehrig gave the layman an introductory look at the math behind the "Bible Codes."
July 1999
At our July 6 meeting, we viewed a videotaped presentation by Susan Blackmore discussing memes.
June 1999
At our June meeting, we met at Shakey's Pizza for lunch and Skeptic Jeopardy!
May 1999
At our May 4 meeting, we held our annual Board elections, as well as discussion of what REALL is up to and plans for the future.
April 1999
For April, we had two unrelated items, both appropriately dealt with in the month of jokes. First, we had a short parody video on the Institute for Pi Research, hearing professors argue for returning to short, biblical pi instead of long, modernistic pi. (Think of the Institute for Creation Research.) Then, David Bloomberg discussed "medium" James Van Praagh's new book, and the foolishness contained therein.
March 1999
At our March 2 meeting, Wally Hartshorn presented "A Daily Dose of Skepticism," discussing the Skeptic News web site and many good sources of skeptical information on the Internet.
February 1999
Our February 15 meeting featured Matt Nisbet, Public Relations Director for CSICOP, who presented "Skeptics Versus The X-Files:
The Media and the Paranormal."

Is media promotion of the paranormal and the pseudoscientific on the rise? Can media portrayals of the paranormal influence belief? What effect does negative portrayals of science and scientists have on public attitudes towards science?

Using slides, video and overheads, Nisbet highlights recent cases of media promotion of the paranormal and tackles the very popular series The X-Files. Why is Scully's scientific explanation always wrong while Mulder's conspiracy-mongering is always on to something? Nisbet reviews some recent studies on the link between the media and belief, and highlights the latest CSICOP efforts to be bring more balanced portrayals of science to the media.

Nisbet's research interests include the communication of science and scientific literacy among twenty-somethings. A 1996 graduate of Dartmouth College, Nisbet has given recent presentations of "Skeptics Versus The X-Files" at Yale, Cornell and Harvard Universities.

January 1999
At our January 5 meeting, we watched a Dateline show about Dr. Bennett Braun, the repressed memory doctor whose license to practice memory in Illinois is currently being reviewed.


December 1998
At our December 1 meeting, we watched "The Power of Belief, with John Stossel," a recent ABC special that took a good hard look at many paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, including therapeutic touch, firewalking, voodoo, and astrology.
November 1998
Our November 3 meeting featured David Hunter, whose presentation, "Why My Daughter Hates Me," discussed his family's plight that came about as a result of repressed memory therapy.
October 1998
(Description to follow)
September 1998
At our September 1st meeting, Rense Lange talked about his investigation into poltergeists. His work was previously featured in an Australian parapsychology journal.
August 1998
At our August 4th meeting, we watched "Unmasked," an NBC show that exposed various "psychic" tricks, among other things.
July 1998
At our July 7th meeting, the topic was "The Truth about Tarot," presented by Derek Rompot, card reader and Vice Chairman of REALL. Is your future in the cards? Can readers use this mysterious tool to tell you what lies ahead? Or is it just another game of chance? Derek, a Tarot reader for many moons, examined the history and background of Tarot, told us about his methods for readings, and did some readings for audience members.
June 1998
There was no June meeting, due to the fact that our normal meeting room is used by Lincoln Library during their annual book sale.
May 1998
(Description coming soon)
April 1998
At our April 7th meeting, Prof. Alex Casella spoke about Science and Pseudoscience. He recently taught a class on that topic at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
March 1998
Our March 3 meeting featured More High Weirdness by Web. Wally Hartshorn (webmaster of this site) provided another tour of sites on the Internet that promote paranormal beliefs and pseudoscientific claims.
February 1998
Our February 3 meeting featured Prof. Steven Egger, author of The Killers Among Us, discussing myths of serial killers. An excerpt from his book appeared in the September 1997 issue of The REALL News.
January 1998
At our January 6 meeting, David Bloomberg talked about several books he has reviewed recently.


December 1997
There was no meeting held in December.
November 1997
At our November 4 meeting, we watched a video, 15 Myths of Science -- Rethinking Science Education. Dr. William McComas, Director of the Center to Advance Science Education, explains scientific myths including:
  • Hypotheses become theories which become laws
  • A hypothesis is an educated guess
  • Why many methods used to teach science are actually the antithesis of the way in which science actually operates
  • How a list adopted by textbook writers became a description of how science is done
October 1997
Prof. Steven A. Egger was originally scheduled to talk at the October 7 meeting about the myths held about serial killers, "psychic detectives," and other related topics. Unfortunately, he was unable to give his presentation that month, so we had some general discussion with our fellow REALL members.
September 1997
The September 2nd meeting featured High Weirdness by Web. Wally Hartshorn (webmaster of this site) provided a tour of sites on the Internet that promote paranormal beliefs and pseudoscientific claims.
August 1997
The August 5th meeting featured A Skeptical Look at the Illinois Lotto -- Analysis of the Winning Numbers. Rich Walker, Ph.D., used actual lottery data to help describe the dilemma of decision-making, how we decide which risks to take, correlation vs. causation, the difficulty of predicting low-risk/high-consequence outcomes, the existence of causation, governmental promotion of unearned wealth, and other related topics.
July 1997
The July 1st meeting featured Jeff Ignatious, staff writer for the weekly newspaper Illinois Times. They have featured several topics of interest to REALL, not always presenting them in the manner we would prefer, so as expected it was a very stimulating evening!
June 1997
There was no June meeting, due to the fact that our normal meeting room is used by Lincoln Library during their annual book sale.
May 1997

The May meeting was held at noon on Saturday, May 10, in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Springfield. The speaker was Dr. Michael Shermer, Director of the Skeptics Society and Publisher of Skeptic Magazine. Dr. Shermer's presentation, based on his new book Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, was filled with humorous stories and serious messages about why people do believe weird things. He also covered the difference between science and pseudoscience, and what can and should be done about this growing problem. Audiences enjoy Dr. Shermer's wit and humor, along with his insight into some of the strangest beliefs in our culture.

Dr. Shermer teaches the history of science, technology, and evolutionary thought at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is the author of Teach Your Child Science and co-author of Teach Your Child Math and Mathemagics. He has appeared on numerous talk shows and documentaries as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims.
April 1997
The April meeting was held on April 1.
March 1997
The March meeting was held on March 4. The speaker was Chicago Detective Bruce Walstad.
February 1997
The February meeting was held on February 4. The video "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So" was shown.
January 1997
The January meeting was held on January 7. The speaker was Dr. Ron Larkin, vice-chairman of REALL. The title of his talk was "UFO's Exist! And Some Extra, Terrestrial Topics as Well." There are many remarkable events about which we know very little. In the past, some have proven to be based on unsuspected phenomena. But some events and stories prove to be rubbish. How do we tell the difference? This talk described serveral ways. Also, slides and specimens of UFOs illustrated the presentation.


December 1996
The December meeting was a luncheon held on December 15 at Shakey's Pizza in Springfield. The topic was just general discussion about the paranormal.
November 1996
The November meeting was held on November 5. The topic was the A&E special, Where Are All the UFOs?, a generally skeptical look at UFOs.
October 1996
This meeting was held on October 1. The topic was Quantum Quackery: Physics, Metaphysics, and Flapdoodle. In this special video, Dr. Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy, University of Hawaii, speaks on New Agers (e.g. Deepak Chopra) exploiting the obscurity of quantum mechanics to explain the "unexplainable" -- ESP, psychic power, alternative healing, etc.
September 1996
This meeting was held on September 3. The videotape The 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time & Why People Believe Them was viewed. In this special video, investigative journalist John Whalen, author of The 50 Greatest Conspiracies, guides the viewer through the labyrinths of conspiracy theories, where fact and fiction meet. Included was discussion of UFOs, Watergate, JFK, AIDS, LSD, FEMA, etc.
August 1996
This meeting was held on August 6. (Topic description to follow later.)
July 1996
This meeting was held on July 2. Elections were held for all officers and board members. Following elections, Bob Ladendorf reported on the First World Skeptics Congress sponsored by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) from June 20-23 at the State University of New York at Buffalo Amherst Campus and the organization's Center for Inquiry. CSICOP's 20th anniversary is this year.
June 1996
This meeting was held on June 4. (Topic description to follow later.)
May 1996
This meeting was held on Thursday, May 23, in the Executive Room at the Ramada Inn. The speaker was Dr. Gerhard Eggert, head of the Conservation Department of Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany. His talk, The Enigma of the "Battery of Baghdad", critically examined claims (made by, among others, Erich von Däniken) that a 2,000-year-old object in the Iraq Museum of Baghdad is an electrical battery made either by ancient engineers or aliens.
April 1996
This meeting was held on April 2. (Topic description to follow later.)
March 1996
This meeting was held on March 5. The topic was a video and discussion featuring recent TV appearances by James "the Amazing" Randi. Randi recently appeared on two Dateline NBC segments. One featured an investigation into the Quadro Tracker, and the other focused on Randi himself and some of his past investigations.
February 1996
This meeting was held on February 6 in the Public Affairs Center at the University of Illinois in Springfield. It featured Charles Schweighausser, professor of astronomy and physics at UIS. He gave a presentation on the nature of science in relation to unscientific matters, such as astrology and UFOs. It was very well attended by members of the public and UIS students.
January 1996
This meeting was held on January 2. It featured a videotaped presentation, The Use and Abuse of Statistics in the 'Real World', by Dr. Judith Grabiner.


December 1995
This meeting was held on Saturday, December 9 at Shakey's in Springfield. This was a lunch meeting, with no particular topic scheduled, other than general discussions about what REALL should do in the coming year.
November 1995
This meeting was held on November 7. The videotape The Search for Satan was viewed. Psychological mischief? Could two women diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and satanic ritual abuse actually be victims of insurance fraud? This investigative Frontline documentary examined these cases in depth. Through extensive interviews with these women and an investigation of the treatment costs, serious doubt was cast about the diagnoses.
October 1995
This meeting was held on October 2. The videotape The Alpha Project & the Magic of Steve Shaw was viewed. Magician Steve Shaw participated in The Alpha Project -- the greatest sting operation in recent skeptics history. With the help of James Randi, Shaw became the star "psychic" at a parapsychology lab, showing that the professionals could not tell the difference between true "psychic" power and simple magic.
September 1995
This meeting was held on September 5. The topic was psychic detectives, featuring a videotape of Det. Bruce Walstad discussing "psychic" Greta Alexander's recent claims on a call-in TV talk-show. A few weeks ago, the body of a missing boy was found in Will County. Alexander claims to have psychically helped the police find the body. How valid is this claim? What about claims that she helped police solve hundreds of crimes? We looked at her most recent claims along with others who say they help the police.
August 1995
This meeting was held on August 8. The speaker was Dr. Richard Walker, who presented a dramatic reading from his book, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo. In the spirit of Orwell's Animal Farm, it is a satirical analysis of the motives, frauds, and lies of supervisors in modern bureaucracies and leaders who foster True Belief rather than free thought.

Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!