From the Chairman

David Bloomberg

Well, Skeptic Jeopardy was a hit! While turnout wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped (it turned out to be a bad day for several regular attendees), we had enough people to play with two 3-player teams, a scorekeeper, and a host (that would be me).

And what a battle it was! In the end, the scores seemed, well, a bit lopsided, but it was fairly close for most of the game. The final score was: Wally, Dave, & Harry: 9000; Jim, Rich, & Ken: -600.

I should note that Wally is not just REALL’s editor and webmaster, but also the webmaster of Skeptic News (, and thus had somewhat of an advantage in that he is rather immersed in the topics of skepticism almost every day. In other words, even though two of the opposing team members had Ph.D.’s, it may still have been an unfair fight. [Note to myself: I must get a life. — Ed.]

Those of us who attended enjoyed it so much that we will probably play again next year. So study up on your skepticism and pay attention to the articles in this newsletter – you never know when you might need that information!

I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Dave McMaster, who put together a button system with lights to show who "buzzed in" first to answer the questions. (He didn’t have buzzers on it yet, but might add them later.) Previous local skeptics groups who played a similar game didn’t have such a system and encountered some play problems in trying to do things differently. Dave’s creation made it that much more fun!

July Meeting

On July 6 (back to our normal first-Tuesday schedule), we will be featuring a videotaped presentation that Susan Blackmore gave to the Skeptics Society on her new book, The Meme Machine.

You may have seen my review of this book in the State Journal-Register (if not, shame on you). To summarize, Blackmore has taken the concept of "memes" – originally proposed by Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene, and greatly expanded on it. A meme is, according to this theory, a replicator like a gene, except it copies ideas and behaviors, not DNA. Blackmore has proposed the use of memes to explain things like the development of language and the expansion of pre-human brain size. In her book she talks about meme-gene co-evolution and also times when the interests of memes might fight the interests of genes. I found it an interesting discussion, and I’m sure you will too.

(For those who find Blackmore’s name familiar, she used to be more involved with studying near-death and out-of-body experiences; we featured an article on her back in October 1993 and a review of her book on near-death experiences in June 1994.)

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