FRIDAY KEYNOTE – Susan Jacoby is the author of The Age of American Unreason, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, and many other books. She has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including those from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001-2002, she was named a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Book World, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsday, Harper’s, The Nation, Vogue, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the AARP Magazine, among other publications. She also writes a weekly column at the On Faith website published by The Washington Post.
James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world’s most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Randi has pursued “psychic” spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water “with a memory,” and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural. He is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim-Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.
George Hrab has gained international notoriety in the skeptic community with his award-winning weekly show The Geologic Podcast. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and heliocentrist, Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs; performed for President Clinton; shared the stage with Elton John, Bernie Worrell, and many others; and has traveled across the country both as a drummer for the nationally recognized Philadelphia Funk Authority and as defacto President for Life of The Geologic Orchestra.
Dan Ariely is the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is the author of a number of books, including Predictably Irrational and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.
Sue Blackmore is a psychologist and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She is the is author of a number of books, including The Meme Machine and Zen and the Art of Consciousness.
Russell Blackford is an Australian attorney, philosopher, science fiction writer, and critic. He is the author of a number of books, including Freedom of Religion and the Secular State and 50 Voices of Disbelief.
Bob Blaskiewicz is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where he specializes in extraordinary claims (especially conspiracy theories), among other topic. He co-edits the blog skepticalhumanities.com, edits a series about skepticism in education for randi.org, and appears on the weekly live web show The Virtual Skeptics.
Peter Boghossian is a Philosophy professor at Portland State College, where his main focus is bringing the tools of professional philosophers to people in a wide variety of contexts. Dr. Boghossian’s primary research areas are critical thinking and moral reasoning. His is the author of the forthcoming book A Manual for Creating Atheists.
Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell is Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (US). In addition to her work with the Foundation, she is an evolutionary psychologist whose research includes examining the underlying mechanisms of human mate selection.
Jerry Coyne, Ph.D is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and a member of both the Committee on Genetics and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. His work is focused on understanding the origin of species: the evolutionary process that produces discrete groups in nature.
Barbara Drescher taught cognitive psychology and quantitative research methods, primarily at California State University, Northridge, for a decade. She developed award-winning material and text for teaching science and critical thinking. As a National Science Foundation Fellow and Phi Kappa Phi Scholar, Barbara studied visual attention, perception, learning, and reasoning.
Sanal Edamaruku is an Indian skeptic and founder of Rationalist International. He is the acting president of both Rationalist International and the Indian Rationalist Association, as well as editor of the internet publication Rationalist International. He has exposed numerous frauds, mystics and superstitions in India. In 2012, the Catholic Church filed a complaint against Edamaruku and he was criminally charged with hurting religious sentiments after he debunked a weeping Jesus statue in Mumbai. He has been forced into exile until the charges are dropped.
Faye Flam is a science journalist who has spent years in the trenches battling intelligent design, global warming denial and pseudoscience of all stripes. She has also challenged questionable claims emanating from the scientific community – from “arsenic bacteria” to “fine tuning as evidence for God”. She has a degree in geophysics from Caltech and has written for The Economist, Science, New Scientist and the Washington Post. She is currently a journalism critic for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, a writer-in-residence at Ursinus College, and the voice of Higgs the Science Cat for Parade.com.
David Gorski is an academic surgeon at Wayne State University School of Medicine, where he specializes in breast cancer surgery and serves as the Medical Director of the Alexander J. Walt Comprehensive Breast Center at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. When not actively engaged in breast cancer research or taking care of patients, he is also the managing editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog.
D. J. Grothe
D. J. Grothe is President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Formerly a “mind-reader” and magician, he studies the processes of deception and self-deception. He lectures and debates frequently on topics surrounding science and central beliefs at colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Susan Haack is professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami. She is the author of Putting Philosophy to Work: Inquiry and Its Place in Culture, and Defending Science: Within Reason Between Scientism and Cynicism, among many other books.
Harriet Hall, MD, aka “The SkepDoc,” is a retired family physician and former Air Force flight surgeon who writes prolifically about science, critical thinking, alternative medicine, and quackery. She is a CSI fellow, a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, an editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog, an adviser to the Quackwatch website, a founding fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine, and is on the editorial review board of the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
Sharon Hill is a geologist and policy specialist. She has a Masters degree in education, specializing in Science and the Public, and runs the popular critical thinking newsblog, Doubtful News. She writes on topics relating to the paranormal, pseudoscience, cryptozoology, anomalous natural phenomena, and skepticism.
Dr. Marty Klein has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 31 years. He has aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals, among them, telling the truth about sexuality and debunking widely held sex myths. He has written a number of books on human sexuality, and speaks frequently on the psychology, science and pseudoscience of human sexuality.
Michael E. Mann
Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann is author of more than 160 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published two books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.
The great movie director Orson Welles wrote that Max Maven has “the most creative mind in magic.” He has published more than 2,000 articles and has been a consultant to the California ScienCenter, numerous universities, and to the magicians David Copperfield, Doug Henning, and Penn & Teller. In addition, he is the author of The Book of Fortunetelling.
Sara E. Mayhew
Sara E. Mayhew, is a writer and illustrator that the prestigious Applied Arts magazine called “young blood commanding our attention”. The world renowned TED conference accepted Sara into their TED Fellowship program, a class of young world-changers on the cutting edge of their fields, for her work to promote science education through manga.
Founder and currently Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine, Steve Novella is a JREF senior fellow and academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and the author of the NeuroLogicaBlog. He is the author of two courses by The Teaching Company, including Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills.
Massimo Pigliucci is the chair of the Department of Philosophy at the City University of New York. He is also the editor in chief for the journal Philosophy & Theory in Biology. An outspoken skeptic and critic of creationism and advocate of science education, his most recent books are Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk.
Massimo Polidoro is an Italian psychologist, writer, journalist, television personality, and the co-founder and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CICAP). He is the editor of Scienza & Paranormale, and has investigated and tested numerous alleged psychics, astrologers, clairvoyants, dowsers, mediums, prophets, psychic detectives, psychic healers, psychic photographers, telepaths and many others, and has been the host of a number of Italian television shows. He is the author of numerous books, including Final Séance, and Secrets of the Psychics.
Edwina Rogers is Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. She has spent two decades on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist and attorney, including roles as General Counsel for several high profile politicians. Rogers has extensive experience as a public policy expert and has worked for two Presidents and four Senators, and speaks about the role of nonbelievers and skeptics in our society.
Cara Santa Maria
Cara Santa Maria is not your typical science journalist. From cheerleader to jazz vocalist, model to tattoo enthusiast, she traveled many paths before pursuing her interest in all things related to the brain. Currently, Cara works as the Senior Science Correspondent for The Huffington Post, where she produces and hosts a science web series called “Talk Nerdy To Me.”
Richard Saunders is the producer of The Skeptic Zone podcast and can be seen on national TV in Australia as the Skeptical Judge on THE ONE. Richard is also President of Australian Skeptics. In 2009 Richard exposed the trickery behind the PowerBalance wrist band fad.
Joe Schwarcz is the Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society and teaches a variety of courses in McGill’s Chemistry Department and in the Faculty of Medicine with emphasis on health issues, including aspects of “Alternative Medicine”. Using stage magic to make scientific points is one of his specialties. Professor Schwarcz has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public, including Royal Society of Canada’s McNeil Award and the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Science, Sense and Nonsense.
Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University. Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, The Mind of the Market, Why Darwin Matters, and Why People Believe Weird Things among others.
Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, Bad Language columnist for Skeptic magazine, and author of the forthcoming books Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic, and Red, White and (True) Blue. She is a long-term investigator of paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs and practices, a co-host of Monster Talk, and is a Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation.
Jamy Ian Swiss
Jamy Ian Swiss is a senior JREF Fellow. He has appeared internationally for presenters ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of books including The Art of Magic, and two collections of essays, the most recent is Devious Standards. His U.S. television appearances include CBS’ 48 Hours, PBS’ Nova, The Today Show, and repeat appearances on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Banachek is without a doubt the world’s leading mentalist, performing over 200 college shows a year. He is also the director of the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge.
Joshie Berger is the Season 2 Worst Cooks in America winner. He hosted the TAM Poker Tournament last year, and joins us in the same capacity this year.
Evan Bernstein is a co-host of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe radio show, as well as a co-cost of The Skeptics’ Guide 5×5 podcast. He serves as the chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the New England Skeptical Society.
Bryan & Baxter
Bryan & Baxter have done countless investigations covering all manner of paranormal claims, executed several different approaches of skeptical outreach, and have worked very hard to expose frauds within the paranormal community.
Edward Clint co-created Skeptic Ink with John Loftus and writes about Evolutionary Psychcology, critical thinking and more at his blog Incredulous. He is a bioanthropology graduate student at UCLA studying evolutionary psychology.
Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, since 1990. He is responsible for the Quackcast, a skeptical review of supplements and complementary and alternative medicine (SCAM); The Persiflagers Annotated Compendium of Infectious Disease Facts, Dogma and Opinion, a guide to infectious diseases; the Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast, a podcast review of infectious diseases, and Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor, an Infectious Disease blog.
Chip Denman is a Director and former Senior Lecturer in the Division of Information Technology at the University of Maryland, where he created the course “Science & Pseudoscience” in which ESP, astrology and other extraordinary claims provide a context for understanding the way the scientific method is supposed to work. He is a founder of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
Grace Denman has been a leader in the arena of skeptical activism since cofounding the National Capital Area Skeptics in 1987, a national education nonprofit promoting critical thinking and scientific understanding. She has had the privilege of serving on the board of directors since its inception and is the current president. Denman is a member of the JREF advisory board and proud to be a friend of her hero James Randi
Mark Edward is a professional mentalist who specializes in magic of the mind. He has spent over twenty five years in world class venues from high-end night clubs and theaters to hundreds of private party and corporate events. As one of only five specially chosen and trained mediums in the history of Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle, he has performed fifteen years of seances that helped him perfect the role of spirit medium and psychic entertainer. During this time he wrote several books on these subjects and appeared on television as both primary consultant and on-air performer in such diverse programming as A & E’s Biography: “Houdini, the Great Escape,” NBC’s “The Other Side” and “Psychic Secrets Revealed,” The Sci-Fi Channel’s “Mysteries, Magic and Miracles,” The Discovery Channel’s “Forces Beyond,” and most recently on two episodes of The Learning Channel’s “Exploring the Unknown.” His featured segment as a spirit medium on the pilot episode of Showtime’s “Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!” series entitled “Speaking with the Dead” helped secure an Emmy Award nomination for that episode in 2002. He continues to be consulted by the media for his knowledge of spiritualism, psychic fraud and ghost lore.
Tim Farley is a computer application security analyst and software developer who has over 25 years of experience in the software industry. He is a Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) specializing in electronic media.
Susan Gerbic began the “Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia” project in 2011, and the project now has 80 volunteers editing in 17 languages. Gerbic is a co-founder of the Monterey County Skeptics and a steering member of the Independent Investigations Group.
Miranda Celeste Hale
Miranda Celeste Hale is a college English instructor who focuses on rhetoric, rhetoric/composition pedagogy, the intersection of rhetoric and skeptical activism, and the relationship between clear and precise writing and the effective dissemination of knowledge.
Kyle Hill is a fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation. A graduate student in science communication at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his research is focused on how personal motivations and website characteristics affect the use of critical thinking.
Leo Igwe is the founder of the Nigerian Humanist Movement and the Nigerian Skeptics Society. He was the Western and Southern African representative to IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a former director of the Center for Inquiry in Nigeria and a former member of the Atheist Alliance International Council and Board of Directors He has bravely worked to end a variety of human rights violations, including anti-gay hate, sorcery, witchcraft, ritual killing, human sacrifice, “untouchability”, caste discrimination, “child witch” superstition, and anti-blasphemy laws. He is presently enrolled in a research programme on “Witchcraft accusations in Africa” at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany.
Penn Jillette is a cultural phenomenon as a solo personality and as half of the world-famous Emmy Award winning magic duo Penn & Teller. He cohosts the series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! and the Discovery Channel’s Penn & Teller Tell A Lie.
David Jones is the host of ‘Hiyaa!’, a martial arts podcast dedicated to critical analysis of the world of martial arts. A lifelong practitioner of martial arts, he began at 12 years old with Okinawan Karate he trained in many traditional systems over the years before settling down and specializing in the Chinese ‘internal’ styles of Bagua and Xingyi. He has worked in law enforcement, teaching, and animal care and currently lives and teaches in Atlanta, GA with his growing family.
Reed Kuhn holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Washington and Lee University, a master’s degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where he specialized in strategy and decision sciences. He is the author of the upcoming book “Fightnomics: The Hidden Numbers and Science of Mixed Martial Arts.”
Caleb W. Lack
Caleb W. Lack, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Counseling Practicum Coordinator in the Department of Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. A clinical psychologist licensed to practice in both Oklahoma and Arkansas, Dr. Lack is the author of more than thirty scientific publications relating to the assessment and treatment of psychological problems such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, pediatric mood disorders, and posttraumatic stress. In addition, Dr. Lack has presented nationwide and internationally at conferences on a variety of topics, including children’s reactions to natural disasters, computer-based treatment of substance abuse, innovative teaching and training methods, and more. He is on the editorial board of several respected scientific journals as well as a peer-reviewer and a grant reviewer for national agencies.
John W. Loftus
John W. Loftus is a former Christian minister and apologist with M.A., M.Div., and Th.M. degrees in Philosophy, Theology, and the Philosophy of Religion, the last of which was earned under William Lane Craig. John also studied in a Ph.D. program at Marquette University for a year and a half in the area of Theology and Ethics. He is the author of “Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity,” and “The Outsider Test for Faith.” He edited “The Christian Delusion,” and “The End of Christianity.” He has also co-authored, with Dr. Randal Rauser, “God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.”
Jay has been a skeptical activist for 15 years who serves as a co-host and producer of The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe. Jay also is a regular contributor to The Rogues Gallery, a popular science and skepticism blog.
Jennifer Ouellette is the author of four popular science books for the general public, most recently ‘Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self’ (winter 2014) and ‘The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse’ (2010). Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Discover, Slate, Salon, Mental Floss, Nature, and New Scientist, among other venues, and she maintains a blog called Cocktail Party Physics at Scientific American. From November 2008 to October 2010, she was the founding director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a Los Angeles-based initiative of the National Academy of Sciences aimed at fostering creative collaborations between scientists and entertainment industry professionals.
Donald R. Prothero has taught geology and paleontology for 34 years, most recently at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and Pierce College in Woodland Hills. He is the author of over 30 books, including “Abominable Science” (about cryptozoology), “Reality Check” (about science denialism), and “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters.”
Paul Provenza is an actor, comedian and filmmaker, a self-professed skeptic currently based in Los Angeles. He is the host of the Showtime’s The Green Room, and co-author of ¡SATIRISTAS!
John Rennie served as editor in chief of Scientific American (including the monthly magazine, Scientific American Mind, ScientificAmerican.com and other publications) between 1994 and 2009. This past spring, John hosted The Weather Channel’s popular mini-series “Hacking The Planet”. Rennie’s numerous television and radio appearances include PBS’s Newshour, ABC World News, The CBS Early Show, NPR’s Science Friday, and many other programs. Since 2009, he has been an adjunct instructor in the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University. His 2002 article, “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense,” is one of the most read and downloaded articles in the history of ScientificAmerican.com. In 2000, Rennie was the recipient of the Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science, bestowed by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.
Stuart J. Robbins
Stuart J. Robbins is a postdoctoral student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the first recipient of the Baruch Blumberg Citizen Science postdoctoral fellowship through the NASA Lunar Science Institute.
Jacques Rousseau is the founder and current chairperson of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit established to promote secularism and science in South Africa. He lectures critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, where he has been on the academic staff since 1996.
Robert Sheaffer is a freelance writer and a prominent investigator of unidentified flying objects and many other subjects. He is an outspoken skeptic and critic of the above topics, and has written numerous critiques of the theory that UFOs may be alien spacecraft or some other unknown phenomena and not simply hoaxes or misidentifications of known phenomena. His book Psychic Vibrations is available as a JREF ebook.
Eve Siebert has a Ph.D. in English literature from Saint Louis University. She taught college composition and literature classes for many years and is co-authoring a book called Was Shakespeare an Alien? Skepticism and the Humanities.
Nakul Shenoy is ‘The Mind Reader’ – a leading corporate speaker and entertainer for Fortune 500 companies and other premier events, based in Bangalore (India). This professional magician & hypnotist holds a Master of Science degree in Communication and remains an active proponent of critical thinking.
Brent Weedman is a professional MMA competitor who has competed in several Bellator tournaments, including: Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament and the Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament. He reps for the JREF.