Ottawa Skeptics Turns 2

November 4th marks the second birthday of the Ottawa Skeptics. It’s time to celebrate!

Now that you’ve finished celebrating, let’s look back to see if we met the goals laid out by Barry and Jon on our 1st anniversary.

So how did we do?

Write more articles for the website
:  Just shy of 100 news items were submitted over the last year however, I think everyone would agree that we could always use more articles from a larger group of authors.  Sharpen your pencils!

Get published in other media/increase our local public profile:  We get a thumbs up on these two!  Seanna was quoted in a Toronto Star article regarding our investigation of Thane Heins’ “perepiteia machine.” After the investigation into the installation of EMF balancers in two area schools, Barry appeared on CFRA’s Ron Colbert Unscripted. Jon has been a regular contributor to Skeptic North, and has appeared on Maritime Mornings speaking about Sylvia Browne. In addition, Ottawa Magazine and the Ottawa Citizen did pieces about Jon and the Ottawa Skeptics. The Ottawa Sun quoted Jon for their article about the Ottawa River “Incident”.

Get The Reality Check on a local university radio:  While The Reality Check has gone to radio only once, the show is at episode 62 and continues to go strong.   The show is now being downloaded by over a thousand people each week, and continues to grow.  Reality Check is mentioned in the November/December 2009 issue of Skeptical Inquirer.  In an article by D.J. Grothe, “A Skeptic’s Guide to Podcasts.” He says that the podcast “is a great example of what independent skeptical groups can accomplish even if they lack the resources of a national skeptical organization.”  We also have started to receive fan email on a regular basis from around the world.  We haven’t given up on local radio just yet.

Bring skeptical speakers to Ottawa: The monthly meeting was changed to a speaker/presentation format.  Excellent presentation were given by Jon Abrams, Barry Green, Lee Graham, Xander Miller, Tim Golding and Elan Dubrofsky.  We also brought in a live feed of Michael Shermer’s lecture in Toronto and have started to put video of some of these lectures online. Now that we have a regular crowd showing up to talks, we can begin work on getting people from out of town to give talks too.

Establish a paid fellowship for Barry:  While well deserved, this continues to be a “work in progress”.

Continue to investigate unscientific, unsupported, uncritical and misleading claims that harm the public:  Over and above regular articles and a weekly podcast that both cover a wide range of topics, the investigation into the installation of EMF balancers in area schools was a big win.  Ottawa Skeptics also crashed Sylvia Browne’s appearance at the NAC handing out flyers explaining how to do a cold reading.

Continue to confront C-51 misinformation as the Bill proceeds through Parliament:  Bill C-51 died when the last election was called, however, the shift of nonsense moved to Bill C-6 and Barry continued to write articles setting the record straight.

Get more serious about the group’s membership and organization  Work continues behind the scenes to develop a constitution/charter. This would give us a fixed organizational structure with clearly defined roles for executive members. It will also allow us to open a bank account and allow us to start collecting nominal membership fees which will allow us to provide more and better programming.

Organize group outings and activities/Drink even more skeptically:  Skeptical movie nights have been a success, but more are needed. Attendance at monthly meetings continues to grow and drinking skeptically events have been well attended. The new idea of meeting at a local pub after the monthly meetings seems to be a hit as well.

In summary
The Ottawa Skeptics are in a better position than last year. Local involvement is up. The forums have been lively and informative. We’re working closely with a growing Canadian skepticism movement. And finally, our media presence has grown immensely.  

For Next Year
For the upcoming year it’s probably a good idea to keep plugging away at our goals from last year. More media presence, more articles, more local presentations, more outreach, etc.  If you have any other ideas for us, drop us a line!

03. November 2009 by patandjon
Categories: About_Us, Organization | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. About Thane Heins:
    Seanna Watson is quoted by the newspaper:

    ” Yes, she admitted, the electrical motor does speed up without any increase in input power, but increased speed does not automatically mean an increase in mechanical work.”

    My comment: Probably not, but increased speed means increased momentum (angular in this case). Change in momentum requires force, and force is somewhat linked to energy.
    I would like to know if you analysed the device from the angle of momentum. If we can’t identify a force responsible for a change in angular momentum (and the reaction force that should occur), that’s a pretty big hole.
    P. Asselin, Qc City

  2. “Change in momentum requires force”

    Not quite, it requires a change in the net force. It could be that a resistive force was removed, which allowed it to speed up.

    In the end, the machine was still not outputting more energy than was going in, that we could tell. Thane still hasn’t measured the output energy, for some reason.