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CSICON LAS VEGAS 2017

KENDRICK FRAZIER PHOTOS BY BRIAN ENGLER

You might have known things were going to be different when Center for Inquiry CEO Robyn Blumner in her opening remarks impersonated a certain president of the United States mocking the assembled skeptics for their “reality-based” view of the world and their love of facts, evidence, science, and reason. Good luck with that, said the confident U.S. leader, who in this case seems to know what he’s talking about.

Robyn Blumner opens as our U.S. President.

That disquieting theme resonated for a time throughout the conference, but it quickly got on to science with another of physicist Lawrence Krauss’s “isn’t science mind-boggling?” talks. This time he chose mysteries of the sun as his starting point. He soon got to the 1939 discovery of fusion as the sun’s energy source, then went on to the neutrinos that whiz unnoticed through our bodies, our homes, indeed our entire planet by the trillions every second, and then to the discovery that they can change forms en route. And that took him to deep mysteries of the universe, cosmic inflation, and dark matter and energy. Then the discovery just two weeks earlier of gravitational waves from the collision of two orbiting neutron stars. It led astronomers to turn their telescopes to that point in space and observe gamma rays, X-rays, radio waves, visible light, and other stuff from this gargantuan collision. And out of that discovery, already, has come the realization (or confirmation) that vast amounts of gold (perhaps one Earth mass worth) are created in each such event. Our precious metals originate in the collisions of orbiting neutron stars. “Isn’t it amazing!” he exclaimed. We could only agree.

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Skeptical Inquirer March/April 2018
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Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
When CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer were founded, in 1976,
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COMMENTARY
I have often written in the Skeptical Inquirer about how
CONFERENCE REPORT
Center for Inquiry (CFI) Communications Director Paul Fidalgo covered CSICon 2017 “live” for CFI Live in a series of brief reports on CFI’s website. Here are a few selections. (For others, go to centerforinquiry.live/2017.)
INVESTIGATIVE FILES
David Dominé is author of a series of three books
THE SCIENCE OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
Harnessing the Power of Opinion-Leaders across Communities
BEHAVIOR & BELIEF
Let us stipulate that there is no magic. Sleight-of-hand, deception,
SKEPTICAL INQUIREE
Q: “I enjoyed your recent investigation into the 2016 Mall
FEATURES
The decades-long academic assault on science has bewildered the American public about the role and function of science, promoted anti-intellectualism, and politically empowered purveyors of supernaturalism and paranormal beliefs
There are several flagrant examples of hype from cancer and cardiac therapy. The drugs Avastin and Opdivo, which have serious problems, have been greatly overhyped. Statins, which are effective in saving lives from heart attacks and stroke, have been subjected to negative hype meant to discourage their use
Here’s a geologist’s critical analysis of false perceptions held by many creationists about the origin of the Grand Canyon and the age of the Earth
Rather than creating a glorious new literature of positive art, Colin Wilson delivered an odd mix of dodgy philosophy, pulp novels, and paranormal studies—the latter often downright silly
REVIEWS
For most of human history, people have assumed that some
When odd birds sing their strange songs, does it change
NEW AND NOTABLE
Listing does not preclude future review
You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In Jeffrey Debies-Carl’s conspiracy legends article in the November/December 2017
THE LAST LAUGH
I’m not sure I get the point of the story