Author Archives: Travis Roy

About Travis Roy

co-founder and president of Granite State Skeptics

Science and Critical Thinking On Tap at The Barley House

skepticamp-new-hampshire-2012-73

Concord, NH – The local critical thinking/science literacy promotion group Granite State Skeptics has announced they are hosting their 2nd annual Skepticamp Conference on October 27th 11:30am – 4:30pm at The Barley House on Main Street, Concord NH.

Skepticamp is a free informal conference, open to the public, but does require registration, as space is limited. The purpose of this conference is to promote science, education, and critical thinking through speaker/audience exchange in a relaxed atmosphere.

In the past Skepticamp event we have had a wide variety of topics. Some topics we have talked about at our last skepticam were: Magicians as honest liars, Sugar myth, Science based medicine, Starting a science/skepticism pod cast, statistics, and math as magic.

Speakers are encouraged to answer audience members question and provide reputable sources for their topic on requested. Anyone knowledgeable on a topic related to science and skepticism are welcome to sign on as a speaker. Our speakers have a wide range of experiences: Magicians, Doctors, Middle School aged mathematician, and others who have a topic of special interest in science or skepticism and have made it their hobby.

This type of event has been gaining in popularity and is held in at least 50 other locations in the United States and around the world.

About Granite State Skeptics:

Granite State Skeptics are a local group based out of Manchester NH and is run by the husband and wife team Travis and Dale Roy. The goal of this group is to promote science and critical thinking to the public. One way to do this is through monthly meetings at The Farm Restaurant on Elm Street, Manchester NH, held on the second Monday of every month. Anyone interested is welcome to join us.

Links:

To sign up and for more info: http://skepticamp.org/wiki/SkeptiCamp_New_Hampshire_2012

NHPR’s Story on the 1st Skepticamp:

http://nhpr.org/post/indigenous-and-incredulous#.UAb21AD1UL8.facebook

Granite State Skeptics Page:

http://www.granitestateskeptics.org/

Contact Information:

Dale Roy
Email: dale@granitestateskeptics.org

Travis Roy
Email: travis@granitestateskeptics.org

Marian Call – October 8th!

Photo by Brian Adams (http://baphotos.com)

We’re happy to finally be announcing that the fabulous Marian Call will be entertaining us for our October meeting. This will be slightly different than our normal meeting. It will be at The Farm Bar and Grille as usual, but we will be in the atrium space. This event will also be open to anybody and everybody.

So please join us on October 8th, 7pm at The Farm Bar and Grille!

More info about Marian Call can be found at the following locations:

http://mariancall.com – (official website)
http://youtube.com/mariancall – (performance videos)
http://mariancall.bandcamp.com/ – (listen for free or purchase)
http://twitter.com/mariancall – (twitter)
http://facebook.com/mariancallmusic – (Facebook musician page)

(Our Facebook event for this is at https://www.facebook.com/events/100451446777773/)

TAM2012 – Granite State Skeptics in Vegas

Granite State Skeptics had a great turnout at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, especially for such a small group. Formed shortly before TAM7, we became energized to make it work. Our success comes out of regular meetings, having great speakers, and the support of other organizations like the James Randi Educational Foundation.


(Photo Courtesy of Susan Gerbic)
Our TAM representation ranged from Kitty, who’s been to every American TAM, to some first TAMers. Some of them shared their experiences here. Click through to read their experiences.
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Brian Dunning at New England College

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of the podcast Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena, applying critical thinking to urban legends and popular pseudoscientific subjects promoted by the mass media. Skeptoid has a weekly audience of 190,000 listeners. Brian is also the author of three books based on the podcast. A computer scientist by trade, Brian uses new media to showcase the rewards of science and critical thinking. He has appeared on numerous radio shows and television documentaries, and also hosts the science video series inFact with Brian Dunning. He is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

Brian will be presenting his talk “Sounds from Beyond!” Monday, March 26th in the New England College Simon Center at 7pm in Henniker, NH

SkeptiCamp New Hampshire

UPDATE: Please see below, and the link to the SkeptiCamp Wiki for new details about this event.

SkeptiCamp New Hampshire is just over a month away! Please join us for the first such event in New England. Based off of the unconference model of BarCamp, SkeptiCamp is a dynamic event with lots of participation and interaction.

We will be holding SkeptiCamp at The Barley House in Concord, NH on Saturday, October 22nd from 11am-4pm. For those coming from Boston please look at Concord Coach Lines for the South Station <-> Concord bus line. It’s a easy alternative for those coming from the Boston area, especially if you don’t have a car.

Please note that due to the limited space, registration is required to attent. Registration can be done at our EventBright page. If you want to cancel your registration please let us know so that we can release the seat to others. Speaking slots are even more limited, so if you have a topic you’re interested in presenting please contact our event coordinator, Dale Roy.

This event is made possible by the co-sponsorship of the James Randi Education Foundation.

September Skeptics in the Pub

This month we welcome our first return speaker. Bart Center, writer of “The Atheist Camel Chronicles” is joining us to talk about his new book “The Atheist Camel Rants Again!

Bart is also the operator of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, a website for post-rapture pet care.

So please join us, 7pm at The Shaskeen in Manchester on September 12th. More information can be found at the event facebook page. Please RSVP there or here in the comments.

John Edward Protest – A Recap

On June 21st, The Granite State Skeptics put together a quiet protest outside the John Edward show. Our goal was modest: Make aware and Inform.  For those that may be interested in doing something similar, I thought a full run down of our story from the very beginning to the end would be helpful.

Back in October, 2010. One of the founders (Andrew Cramb) sent me an email stating psychic John Edward would be performing at The Palace Theatre in June. I thought it would be a good idea to put something together, but till I had a good idea best to put it on the back burner. After all, there was plenty of time to do something.  However, what I did do in the mean time, was come up with a pamphlet called “Rational Guide to Psychics”.

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April Skeptics in the Pub with ParaTom

For our April meeting we’ll be doing something slightly different. Our speaker will be Tom Lynch of ParaTom.Com. From his website:

“Tom Lynch is an internationally known and well respected freelance Paranormal Investigator based in New England and travels across the country to help his clients uncover the truth about what they believe to be paranormal activity”

His promo video can be seen here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pztn8Cz5cmw

Power Balance Against the Ropes

By now you’ve all heard about the ACCC’s ruling against Power Balance, and the statement they had to put on the Australian Power Balance website.

This of course generated tons of buzz around the world. It’s caused enough of an issue that the US Power Balance website posted this statement.

Power Balance products work. The existing reports out there are fundamentally incorrect. Power Balance did not make any claims that our product does not perform.

We are committed to bringing our performance technologies to every athlete in the world from professional to amateur to recreational. Our community of believers continues to grow each week. While our previous claims in marketing ads are not up to Australia’s ACCC standards – we stand behind our products. The belief of thousands of consumers and athletes who wear our products are not wrong.

A preliminary study recently conducted on the product’s performance variables was commissioned and the findings have determined that the product does in fact provide a “statistically significant” result on the wearer’s performance. We are committed to further evaluating the product’s performance parameters so that we can continue to provide products that enhance the wearer’s lifestyle.

Numerous actual consumer testimonies supporting the wristbands’ performance were provided to the ACCC by Power Balance. Despite that, they requested Power Balance remove marketing claims until it could provide them with their narrow criteria of randomized, double-blind scientific studies that supports the use of those marketing phrases.

Power Balance voluntarily agreed to stop using those phrases. Power Balance believes and wants users to believe that we will do whatever it takes to appropriately, and with honor and integrity make our products available to every consumer in every market in the world.

Hrm, a study? I ended up emailing the company asking them for more information about this study. The reply was filled with lots of marking talk and skating the law about what they can actually claim, but here’s the important bit in the email I got from Power Balance.

Currently the only scientific studies that have been done were measuring lead content and also measuring radiation to insure there are no harmful effects. One done by a Professor at Yale Testing for radiation and the other by a Texas based 3rd party organization called Intertek. Both studies came back with no harmful effects.

So, the official website says they’ve done studies on the effectiveness, but when you email them about the studies, none exist. Only studies on safety have been done.


Power Balance products work. The existing reports out there are fundamentally incorrect. Power Balance did not make any claims that our product does not perform.

We are committed to bringing our performance technologies to every athlete in the world from professional to amateur to recreational. Our community of believers continues to grow each week. While our previous claims in marketing ads are not up to Australia’s ACCC standards – we stand behind our products. The belief of thousands of consumers and athletes who wear our products are not wrong.

A preliminary study recently conducted on the product’s performance variables was commissioned and the findings have determined that the product does in fact provide a “statistically significant” result on the wearer’s performance. We are committed to further evaluating the product’s performance parameters so that we can continue to provide products that enhance the wearer’s lifestyle.

Numerous actual consumer testimonies supporting the wristbands’ performance were provided to the ACCC by Power Balance. Despite that, they requested Power Balance remove marketing claims until it could provide them with their narrow criteria of randomized, double-blind scientific studies that supports the use of those marketing phrases.

Power Balance voluntarily agreed to stop using those phrases. Power Balance believes and wants users to believe that we will do whatever it takes to appropriately, and with honor and integrity make our products available to every consumer in every market in the world.

FDA Warnings – A Skeptical Tool

Over the past few months I’ve been using a new tool in my skeptical toolbox. The FDA Warnings Website. This website is a wealth of information and can help the average skeptic in a number of interesting ways.

The first, and of course the most obvious is to get a feel for what’s going on and what the FDA seems to be cracking down on. It does seem to come in waves, recently there was a large amount of “detox” items getting letters, this week it seems to be chelation therapies.

Another thing is to see what can be reported. You can see who crossed the line and how. You can use this information to find other people in violation and report them to the FDA.

But the real power with this tool is awareness. Using the website you can sign up for email alerts and you will get 1-2 emails a week telling you that the list of offenders is updated. You can then send this information out to friends that may use the products or post them on a blog. What I do is post them on Google SideWiki. You don’t need to have Google toolbar to use this Google product, they also have a bookmarklet.

While Google Sidewiki is not in widespread use, it is helpful just to keep track. There have been more than a few cases where I’ve gone to put in a new FDA Warning to find out that they already had one or two. If they’re the same complaint I will usually shoot the FDA an email to remind them that they have already notified these people for the same offense.

In closing, the FDA Warning website is an easy tool to use and another to throw in your skeptical toolbox in order to combat pseudoscience on the web.