Mr. Eccles Presents | Skepticism and the Law (P. Andrew Torrez)


“Skepticism and the Law: Or, How to Earn Billions With Your Birth Certificate AND Make Bernie Sanders President Using this ONE WEIRD TRICK” 🙂

“Presented by P. Andrew Torrez, Law Offices of P. Andrew Torrez “

“Video contains strong language and adult content which may not be suitable for children. Skeptics are well-versed in applying the tools of critical thinking to a variety of claims we see in everyday life, from quack medicine to religion to agriculture.”

“But for some reason, skeptics tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to equally preposterous claims about the law. As the co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, Andrew Torrez shares some of the most preposterous and unbelievable real-life questions that he’s gotten from skeptics just like you about the law. Is there really a shadowy cabal of international bankers to whom your entire life has been pledged as collateral from birth? Did a watchdog group really file a petition before the Supreme Court to undo the 2016 Presidential Election? Do criminals frequently escape justice due to technicalities? “

“This talk will equip you with the tools to help separate legal fact from legal fiction — without having to earn a law degree of your own.”

“After nearly 20 years in big firms, P. Andrew Torrez founded his own law firm in 2015 to serve start-up and small businesses in Maryland and the District of Columbia. In 2016, he started the podcast Opening Arguments to explain legal concepts in the news to non-lawyers; today, the show is one of the most popular news & politics podcasts with nearly 2.5 million downloads to date.”

“Andrew Torrez is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School with honors, is a member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland chapter of the Federal Bar Association, has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and has been repeatedly honored as one of Maryland’s top lawyers by Benchmark since 2011.”

“Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.”

Ricky’s Quick Picks | Inaugural Post


Vanakkam. This is a new column on the Call, and it not only features the handsome face of Ricky the Maine Coon, but will link in further installments to a variety of pro-science sources on various topics, including but not limited to scientific claims, paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, medical controversies, in any event the full range of topics addressed in skeptical and science communication circles.

I will not address purely political or religious claims, only when politics or religion intersect with science, skepticism, or critical thinking. It is not my aim to ruffle feathers, stir the pot, or mix any masala.

Here, I will generally refrain from linking to scientifically and medically questionable sources, only doing so when that’s done in an ethical and effective manner in a way that does not benefit those sources from being linked to from this blog.

This is a roundup of some 5-10 links, presented in a way that allows a snapshot of a given claim in each entry with the best public sources online at the time of publishing. Further entries in this column on the topic will contain corrections and updates as more detailed knowledge on the topic advances and errors in the research are uncovered through peer-review, better science journalism, and replication attempts.

Do not expect any one entry to have final say on any matter, as that’s not how science and skepticism work. All conclusions are provisional, pending newer and better evidence.

This post is featured weekly or biweekly on any one of Tuesday, Thursday or Caturday from here on.

I hope to see you then!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Mr. Eccles Presents | Man on the Moon: the sounds of Apollo 11 remixed


“For the 50th anniversary of the ancient dream being realized, I took the sights and sounds of Apollo, all the beeps, squeaks, booms, and sound bites, and wove them into this spaced-out funky tribute.”

“Support my work on Patreon: patreon.com/melodysheep Get the mp3: https://melodysheep.bandcamp.com/trac…

Footage culled from the following excellent documentaries:

Footprints on the Moon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Kbh…

Apollo 11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpLrp…

When We Left Earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu6Ur…

In the Shadow of the Moon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIEwb…

MetaCognitions | Skeptic: a Promise as Well as a Label


Vanakkam. Last week, I posted my decision to let go of the word “skeptic” as a personal descriptor. Not just because of bad skeptics who’ve tarnished the brand, there’s that, but also out of respect for the good skeptics, and I mean bad and good not necessarily in the ethical sense, that too, but in terms of the methods and thinking used by either.

It should be apparent by now that I have always had deep issues with labels. To me, labels should mean something. And there are those with definable criteria.

“Skeptic” is one of those. It has an implied rhetorical power even recognized by the enemies of science and skepticism. It has force. That’s why even science rejectionists try to cloak themselves in the mantle of “scientific skepticism” of well established scientific or historical findings using wholly dishonest means to deceive the rhetorically vulnerable.

But it’s not just because of a few bad apples, science deniers, and conspiracy cranks. It’s also why I left Twitter some months ago, likely for good, barring some unforeseen future need to use the platform. That, and some poor personal decisions that weigh heavily on me, even without lasting and serious consequences.

No TMI though. I’ll spare you that.

Here’s the thing: the word “skeptic” is more than just a label: it’s also a promise, implying the adoption, and the striving for, a definable set of intellectual values, intellectual strategies, and an approach to evaluating testable claims of fact, the “Three Faces of Skepticism.”

When you call yourself a skeptic, you are telling others something about yourself, intended or not, to different people, things positive and negative, and what general sort of intellectual strategies you might be expected to use. On the positive side, some level of intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, and intellectual humility is implied, individual thinking styles aside.

This ties into my leaving Twitter on December 4 of 2018.

Since starting on Twitter in March of 2010, up until the end, I had far too often experienced the loss of those no longer with us from various causes, ranging from those leaving organized skepticism for less community drama, harassment, and fractiousness, to the actual passing of good people from a number of causes, usually illness, but some few by their own hand. The last nine years have not been kind in that regard.

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t take that kind of personal loss well, even with a fair degree of resilience when problems are my own, when striving for equanimity in the face of losing those I care for, when knowing them mostly or solely online. Empathy and the loss of others has been brutal on me, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ll take my lumps as they come, thank you very much.

In the meantime, I won’t call myself a skeptic, not in the near future, but also won’t take it as an insult even if and when it’s intended as such. I’ve gotten much better at meeting things like that with humor, and again, there are those I greatly respect who do the skeptic-thingy well indeed, with and without the label.

So from now until then, still skeptical in outlook, just not a self-described skeptic,

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Cat Thursday | The Riccle-Man Cometh


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It’s all for the love of cats! Enjoy! This meme is hosted by the True Book Addict!

MetaCognitions | Skeptic: A Problematic Label


I have something to tell you: I’ll no longer refer to myself as a skeptic, though I remain skeptical in outlook and practice. I will no longer use the label. I don’t need it.

2006 was a momentous time. I had come far during the twenty years prior, since the time between my late teens to my early twenties when my mind pretty much fell apart. It took the two decades in between then and 2006 to reassemble the pieces, remaking that mind and sense of identity with the help of a lot of good people, and on occasion, the unwitting “help” of some pretty awful people as well. Lots of life lessons from both, good and bad. In rebuilding a shattered self, there’s a certain amount of resilience that’s acquired, as you do. I don’t believe that’s at all exceptional or especially meritorious.

Yes, you can learn things from awful people too.

But 2006 was the first time I had enough understanding of modern scientific skepticism to adopt it as an adjunct to my treatment plan, to be followed in the 2010s by the addition of mindfulness and other meditative exercises.

And I still use these, with full intention to keep all for the foreseeable future. But the “me” that existed up until the 1980s and early 1990s is gone, replaced by the “me” from the late 1990s and early 2000s, to again be replaced by the current iteration, with a better sense of purpose and priorities, and enough of the mental toolkit needed to realize both.

Lately, some prominent leading skeptics have been behaving in less than reputable ways, associating with less than intellectually reputable company, and promoting a lot of alarmist sociopolitical nonsense as figures in the so-called Intellectual Dark Web.

Once good skeptics who’ve done valuable work in the past have gone to the Dark Side. “Why Darwin Matters: the case against intelligent design” informed my very first forays into scientific skepticism. I considered “The End of Faith” a masterwork of the writer’s craft. What the hell happened? But I’m much better informed now than then as to what happened along the way. It’s no longer any great mystery.

I no longer use the label “skeptic” for myself – it’s become tiresome to over and over explain what I mean by it, and that I’m not like those “other” guys who commit free speech hypocrisy and seem woefully unaware of their own biases while showing the same – forever whining about how persecuted and victimized they are, or how “naughty” or “forbidden” their “ideas.”

For those who are more headstrong than I am about using the label, those resolute enough to keep it despite its tainting by disrepute, then all the more power to you. I salute you and remain alongside you in the ongoing fight against woo, scams, hoaxes, and nonsense disguised as “alternative facts.” You have my support and my respect.

Tf. Tk. Tts.