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McGill Mini-Science 2010

From Quirks to Quacks

Wednesday evenings,
April 7 - May 19, 2010


April 7

Science and the paranormal

History is peppered with accounts of psychics predicting the future, mediums conversing with the dead, and aliens abducting earthlings. Today, "psychic surgeons" claim to remove tumours without making incisions and "paranormalists" bend spoons with the power of their minds. What does science say about these claims?

Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D.,
Director, Office for Science and Society
April 14

What is the role of climate scientists in the climate change debate?

Why is climate change in doubt, even denied by some? While the scientific understanding of climate change is firm, public opinion concerning the impact of human activities on the observed changes is much less certain. This lecture focuses on the necessity of curbing the damage of climate change, as opposed to simply exposing the facts and letting people form their own conclusions.

Bruno Tremblay, Ph.D.,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
April 21

The science and fad of hypnosis and other psychological phenomena

Shattering widespread misconceptions about human behaviour is difficult, but science must begin with myths and with their criticism. Dr. Raz, a renowned neuroscientist, will use hypnosis as a lens into some of these myths, while touching on other great fables.

Amir Raz, Ph.D.,
April 28

Vaccines: panaceas or poisons?

Vaccines are among the crowning achievements of medical science yet many are convinced that vaccination can cause autism and autoimmune diseases – even death. The most virulent opponents believe that vaccines are the sharp end of a global conspiracy. How did we get to this polarized state?

Brian Ward, M.D.,
Microbiology (Montreal General Hospital)
May 5

Creationism, evolution, and God

Shockingly, half of the continent thinks biological evolution is false. Evolution deniers rarely base their rejection solely on religious rationales but almost always point to forms of pseudoscience that bolster their anti-evolution sentiments and arguments. We will explore the storm.

Brian Alters, Ph.D.,
Tomlinson Chair in Science Education
May 12

Homeopathy: dilution or delusion?

The basis of homeopathy is that substances, diluted to such an extent that there is essentially nothing left in solution, can be used to treat a variety of medical problems. This lecture critically examines the principles, the history, and the reasons for the enduring popularity of homeopathy.

Ariel Fenster, Ph.D.,
Office for Science and Society
May 19

Are cell phones and WiFi harmful to your health?

There is growing public alarm about the possible harmful health effects caused by cell phones, microwaves, WiFi, etc. This concern has been fed by a wide array of misleading information on the Internet as well as various reports in the media. What does the real scientific evidence show?

Lorne M. Trottier, D.Sc.,
Co-founder of Matrox, CM (2006)
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