Skeptics, welcome back!

CSICon 2022

Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

October 20–23

with optional preconference workshops

Register

Speakers


Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson, a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, is an astrophysicist, planetary scientist, and science communicator. A former advisor to NASA and author of fifteen books, Tyson is host and narrator of the Emmy-winning series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and Cosmos: Possible Worlds and hosts the StarTalk podcast and television series. Tyson is the director of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and is a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller are perhaps magic’s most legendary duo. In their humble beginnings they were busking on the streets of Philadelphia. Today, they have hosted acclaimed sold-out runs on Broadway and are the longest running—and one of the most-beloved—resident headline acts in Las Vegas history. Penn & Teller continue to defy labels—and at times physics and good taste—by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own very distinct niche in comedy. The duo has its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The controversial Showtime series Penn & Teller: BS! was nominated for thirteen Emmys and was the longest-running series in the history of the network. The show highlighted the pair’s ardent skepticism by tackling the fakes and frauds behind such topics as alien abduction, psychics, and bottled water.

Naomi Oreskes

Naomi Oreskes is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science and affiliated professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. She is an internationally renowned earth scientist, historian, and author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including, most recently, Why Trust Science? (2019) and Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean (2021).

Timothy Caulfield

Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. Caulfield is also the host and coproducer of the award-winning documentary TV show A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which has been shown in over sixty countries, including streaming on Netflix in North America.

Seema Yasmin

Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award—winning journalist, medical doctor, author, and director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative.

See the Full Lineup

Join us at CSICon 2022

They think the pandemic is a hoax. They think the vaccines have microchips and magnets. They think the aliens are here. They think magic potions cure diseases. They think the Earth is flat.

They think that forest fires are started by Jewish space lasers.

We're not even kidding.

This is the infodemic, when misinformation and conspiracy theories are overwhelming every aspect of society, from the media and education to Congress and the courts. To fight this infection of alternative facts, we need a boost to our immune system. We need to bring the brightest minds in science and reason together to fight back against the nonsense.

We need to do this in Vegas.

It's finally time. Join us October 20–23 at the Flamingo Resort in Las Vegas for CSICon 2022, and let's get real.

Schedule


Thursday, October 20

8:00 AM | Registration

“It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

—– Pierre-Marc-Gaston, duc de Lévis (1764-1830)

We like answers. We like to know them and to give them. Sometimes we want others to think we are smart or knowledgeable, so we jump to give answers rather than ask questions. And the questions we do ask are sometimes based more on our personal assumptions and biases than they are about getting to the real answer.

Skeptical thinking is more about asking good questions than knowing good answers. In this interactive workshop, we will practice methods for posing questions that lead to better understanding and possibly rethinking ideas.

This expands the workshop from CSICon 2019 with a new section on questioning assumptions, theirs and your own.


Event Location

Laughlin 1

Presented by

Chip Denman
Grace Denman

We can't know everything, so we need to know who we can trust. In this workshop, two veteran college instructors will share techniques on teaching critical thinking skills and describe what student learning outcomes we place at highest priority. One we will emphasize at this workshop is the skill of discerning real and trustworthy expertise from that offered by the many successful posers and fraudsters of the world.


Event Location

Laughlin 1

Presented by

Kathleen Dyer
Raymond Edward Hall

Join us for CSICon's opening reception


Event Location

Scenic Ballroom

Presented by

Robyn Blumner
Kendrick Frazier
George Hrab
Eddie Tabash

Bringing his cosmic perspective down to Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson shines new light on the crucial fault lines of our time—war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, and race—in a way that stimulates a deeper sense of unity for us all.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Friday, October 21

8:00 AM | Registration & Bookstore

8:45 AM | Opening Remarks

From magic to ghosts and telepathy to illusions, skeptics have long been fascinated by the seemingly impossible. In this talk, I will describe some of my adventures investigating these strange phenomena and explore how an openness to the extraordinary underpins some of humanity's greatest achievements.


Event Location

Laughlin 1

Presented by

Richard Wiseman

With the religious Right having a 6 to 3 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, we are in danger of an ever expanding religious tyranny in which only religious claimants will be exempt from complying with laws that apply to the rest of us. This also involves allowing the irrational rejection of basic human rights and scientific evidence. From the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, the Court super majority can prevent government from using empirically based data to respond to threats to our health, freedom, and safety.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Eddie Tabash

It is sometimes claimed that trying to convince a science denier with facts will only backfire. The latest research, however, shows that this is mistaken and that there ARE effective techniques that can be used to keep someone from becoming a science denier or even help them to overturn mistaken beliefs once they are formed. The secret lies in recognizing that even empirical beliefs may be held for non-evidential, such as personal values, trust, ideology, and group identity. The best way to convince someone in this case is not to insult them—or clobber them with facts—but to engage in calm, respectful, patient conversation that simultaneously builds trust and encourages them to reflect not just on what they believe but the (flawed) reasoning strategy that brought them to believe it.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Lee McIntyre

10:30 AM | Break / Book Signing

From bandages to eyeglasses, humans have been using tools and ingenuity to enhance our body functions well beyond their biological constraints. As often happens when cultural evolution supplants genetic evolution, the pace of this advancement is ever-accelerating and technologies that were previously in the realm of science fiction may soon become reality. In this presentation, Professor Lents will discuss the current state of research on gene therapy and genetic engineering, aging and immortality, human-machine interfaces, and other ways that we are hacking and enhancing our bodies and minds.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Nathan H. Lents

It seems a big claim, but knowing how to think clearly and critically has literally helped save the world. In September 1983, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s early warning system showed five U.S. missiles heading toward the country. Stanislaw Petrov knew his duty: to inform Moscow that nuclear war had begun, so that they could launch an immediate and devastating response. Thankfully for all of us alive today, he instead assessed the situation and reasoned—correctly—that an error was more likely than a limited attack. We may not have to save the planet from nuclear annihilation, of course, but our ability to think critically has never been more important. In a world where fake news, mistrust of experts, prejudice, and ignorance all too often hold sway, we can all too easily be misled over issues such as vaccinations, climate change, or conspiracy theories. We live in an era where access to all the knowledge in the world is at our fingertips, yet that also means misinformation and falsehoods can spread further and faster than ever before. David Robert Grimes shows how we can be lured into making critical mistakes or drawing false conclusions, and how to avoid such errors. Given the power of modern science and the way that movements can unite to protest a cause via social media, we are in dangerous times. But fortunately, we can learn from our mistakes, and by critical thinking and scientific method we can discover how to apply these techniques to everything from deciding what insurance to buy to averting global disaster.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

David Robert Grimes

Many people believe that science is in crisis. In fact, the weight of evidence suggests that the scientific enterprise in America is alive and well and thriving. However, in recent years, public debates about the validity of scientific findings and the value of science have intensified, as some Americans have actively resisted and even denied the legitimacy of scientific guidance about how to address the disease. What are the social and psychological drivers of public skepticism about science? How can skeptics be convinced otherwise? How do we evaluate the role of facts, of political affinity, and of personal identity in the rejection of scientific advice? According to Naomi Oreskes, Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, most people who reject science won’t be persuaded with more technical facts. They deny scientific findings because they do not like the implications of their veracity—what Oreskes terms implicatory denial. However, addressing those perceived implications—and answering the concerns or fear involved—can help us to make progress. This holds true in a range of domains, from COVID-19 denial to climate change.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Naomi Oreskes

Come join us for this VIP Luncheon featuring special guests Richard Dawkins, Naomi Oreskes, Julia Sweeney, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Be sure to choose it when registering if interested. Seating is limited.


Event Location

Laughlin 3

Presented by

Richard Dawkins
Naomi Oreskes
Julia Sweeney
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Herding Cats with Susan Gerbic: A romp through the past twenty-four months with Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and the grief vampire investigations: Operation Lemon Meringue and Operation Onion Ring. Gerbic’s mission is to keep the community active and growing with SkeptiCamps, interviews, and a social trivia group that has not missed a Thursday night since May 28, 2020.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Susan Gerbic

The global health and wellness industry is worth an estimated USD $4 trillion. Profits derived from health club memberships, diets, supplements, alternative “therapies,” and thousands of other products and services. The industry has expanded rapidly, far outstripping the capacity of federal bodies to regulate the market. As a result, marketing regulations are disturbingly lax, and many products are sold on baseless claims, pseudoscience, and questionable evidence of safety and efficacy. In this talk, Dr. Nick Tiller reframes the health and wellness industry through the critical lens of scientific skepticism, covering health biases, decision making, social media, and the many legitimate medical practices that have been misappropriated for the commercial world.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Nick Tiller

When it comes to fringe topics such as ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, and the like, there's usually two sides: believers and skeptics. Both sides usually clash when mixed together, while also finding comfort in "preaching" to their like-minded circles. Rather than avoiding confrontation, I not only attend paranormal-themed events, I participate whenever possible. I'll talk about why building bridges is better than burning them ... metaphorically


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Kenny Biddle

In November 2020, Piff was the first headliner back on the Las Vegas Strip, upgraded from his cozy little cave into the main Flamingo Showroom. Piff along with his trusty sidekick Mr Piffles - The World’s Only Magic Performing Chihuahua™, and Las Vegas Showgirl, Jade Simone, perform a one-of-a-kind comedy and magic show suitable for eight to eighty year olds. And now Piff presents a show especially for CSICOn 2022!!


Event Location

Piff's Theatre

Presented by

Piff the Magic Dragon

5:30 PM–5:45 PM | Break / Book Signing

CSI awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking each year. The $2,500 award is given to the "creator of the published work that best exemplifies healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science." Robert P. Balles, "a practicing Christian," established this permanent endowment through a Memorial Fund. Center for Inquiry's "established criteria for the prize include use of the most parsimonious theory to fit data or to explain apparently preternatural phenomena.”


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Paul Fidalgo

The Center for Inquiry presents the Richard Dawkins Award annually to a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment, who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Richard Dawkins
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, October 22

8:00 AM | Registration & Bookstore

8:45 AM | Opening Remarks

From wellness gurus to antivaxxers, there has always been a close connection between the embrace of bunk and personal identity. But the role of ideology as an engine of science-free misinformation seems to be intensifying, especially in the health sphere. For example, could you have guessed that the embrace of an antiparasitic drug, ivermectin, would become an ideological flag on par with, well, flags? That QAnon supporters and yoga instructors would be part of the same posse? In this provocative presentation, Professor Caulfield will explore what the available evidence says about how and why ideology is used to spread health misinformation and what we can, if anything, do about it.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Timothy Caulfield

As a child, you realized that completing a science project adds an extra sparkle to your eyes and sets your soul on fire. It was at that moment you decided you WILL pursue a career in STEM. You assume this means complete grade school, attend college to major in STEM, decide on post-grad education, and enter an amazing STEM career. Easy right? Wrong. For many who are coming from underserved and under-resourced backgrounds and communities, this seemingly simple path quickly turns into mountainous terrain. Navigating a path in STEM through the COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional layer of hardship to the already existing barriers.

We will discuss how COVID-19 shined a light on a broken system, with special emphasis on education in New York City, the largest public school district in the United States. We will also quickly highlight how socioeconomic status, a determinant of health, has led to the disparities seen in COVID-19 infection rates and how it ties to certain racial/ethnic groups. Can we fix the broken system and how can we work to support students who decide to pursue STEM?


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Odaelys Walwyn-Pollard

Our beliefs, what we believe to be true, are the most fundamental things to our decisions. Why then are so many beliefs based on bullshit rather than on truth, facts, data, evidence, or established knowledge? The discussion focuses on how lying and bullshitting are distinct behaviors with unique antecedents and unique consequences for beliefs. With a particular focus on memory, discussion centers on why it is imperative to understand how bullshit can be more persuasive than lies.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

John Petrocelli

10:30 AM | Break / Book Signing

It’s been two years already since James Randi left us. In this special afternoon, in the company of some of the people that were closest to him, we will remember his work as one of the giants of skepticism and rationality, as a legendary magician and, above all, as a generous and wonderful human being. Through selected clips from the movie An Honest Liar and including conversations and remembrances from Randi's partner, Deyvi Pena, film director Tyler Measom, Richard Wiseman, and Banachek, and hosted by Massimo Polidoro, we will discuss Randi’s role in the world of magicians and his special expertise in detecting fakers and deceivers of all sorts.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Banachek
Tyler Measom
Deyvi Orangel Peña Arteaga
Massimo Polidoro
Richard Wiseman

12:30 PM | Lunch On Your Own

Can your zip code predict when you will die? Will testosterone supplements boost your libido? Should you space out childhood vaccines? Does talcum powder cause cancer? Why do some doctors recommend e-cigarettes while other doctors recommend you stay away from them? Health information―and misinformation―is all around us, and it can be hard to separate the two. A long history of unethical medical experiments and medical mistakes, along with a host of celebrities spewing anti-science beliefs, has left many wary of science and the scientists who say they should be trusted. How do we stay sane while unraveling the knots of fact and fiction to find out what we should really be concerned about, and what we can laugh off?


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Seema Yasmin

Conspiracy theories have become a topic of much concern given their involvement in political violence and other recent events. But what do we know about these things we call “conspiracy theories”?

Are beliefs in them increasing? Are conspiracy theories driving deleterious political and medical behaviors? Who is to blame for our current state of affairs and what should we do about it?


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Joseph Uscinski

Pseudoscience is rife throughout society, from ghost hunters on TV to horoscopes in magazines to "alternative medicine" on the shelves of retail stores. While it is represented as anything from harmless fun to a valid alternative to dependence on "Big Pharma," pseudoscience hurts people. It takes their money, makes false promises, and discourages them from seeking real, science based solutions. So why does it seem like the government stands back and gives pseudoscience free rein? Nick will discuss where the government does act and what the limits of such action are. With particular focus on his lawsuits on behalf of the population of Washington, D.C., against Walmart and CVS for their retailing of homeopathy and Boiron on multiple grounds in its manufacture and sale of homeopathic products, he will show how there may be an opportunity for skeptical organizations to use consumer protection laws to fight back against pseudoscience.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Nick Little

3:30 PM | Break / Book Signing

Penn & Teller in conversation with Julia Sweeney will discuss their careers in magic and also their efforts to combat pseudoscience and misinformation.


Event Location

Vista Ballroom

Presented by

Penn & Teller
Julia Sweeney

This year's costume party theme is Tropical Paradise, so bring your Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts and come join us for an evening of fun, food, dancing, singing, and a chance to relax and unwind after a long hard day at the CSICon events. Features prizes for Best Costumes, hosted by Jim Underdown.


Event Location

Scenic Ballroom

Presented by

Jim Underdown

Sunday, October 23

8:00 AM | Registration & Bookstore

8:45 AM | Opening Remarks

It is almost trivial to say that science is based on ignorance—on the unknown. But this idea that we all agree with implicitly is harder to see explicitly in practice. One issue is the word itself and its many layers of meaning. There is all sorts of ignorance—low quality ignorance and high quality ignorance. Distinguishing between them is one of the things we mean by critical thinking. The main purpose of gaining knowledge is to use it to pose better, more sophisticated questions. But this is not what is taught or publicized as science. Rather, we believe it to be a pile of facts and formulas and rules—from the scientific method to Newton’s formulas. How do we alter education and mass media to concentrate on questions rather than facts. Only science poses questions—pseudoscience and other charlatan practices always have the answers.


Event Location

Presented by

Stuart Firestein

Paper Session - Ray Hall Moderator Natalia Pasternick


Event Location

Presented by

Raymond Edward Hall
Natalia Pasternak

Info


Hotel Information

We have discounted rooms available for the conference at the Flamingo ($99—139/night). Links are located below to complete your reservation. We recommend booking early as our conference rooms have sold out in the past.

Accessibility

The Center for Inquiry values full participation at all its events, including participation from individuals with disabilities. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting Barry Karr at (716) 636-4869 ext. 217 or bkarr@centerforinquiry.org.

Policies

Policy on Hostile Conduct / Harassment at Conferences: View Harassment Policy

Stay at the Flamingo

Book by Phone & More Info

Other Info

Call for Papers

The Sunday Morning Papers session will recognize new voices and new ideas and showcase them in the spotlight of the CSICon stage. If you have had success in communicating scientific skepticism, teaching critical thinking, combating pseudoscience, or furthering the mission of CSI in some new and significant way, we want to hear from you!

Volunteer Information

CSICon Las Vegas needs your help! We are seeking a number of volunteers to help support the event, whether with speaker support, registration, event management, PR, merchandising, outreach, tabling, or other opportunities.

Submit a Paper Volunteer

Donate

Help bring local high school students to CSICon! Your donation goes directly toward student registrations for a field trip for a lucky high school in Las Vegas. Donors to this great cause do not need to attend CSICon themselves.

Donate