CFI-NYC eBulletin

May 1, 2008

Upcoming Lectures

Barbara Oakley on "Evil Genes": Wed., June 4

Join us for a special presentation by Professor Barbara Oakley on her new book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hilter Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend.   Oakley explores human evil from a scientific perspective, detailing recent advances in brain imaging and genetics that have implications for traditional views of evil.  Evil Genes discusses why a scientific understanding of evil is important. 

Barbara Oakley has been dubbed a "female Indiana Jones." Her writing combines worldwide adventure with solid research expertise. Among other adventures, she has worked as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea, served as radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, and rose from private to regular army captain in the U.S. Army. Currently an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, Oakley is a recent vice president of the world's largest bioengineering society and holds a doctorate in the integrative discipline of systems engineering.

Wednesday, June 4, 6:30 p.m.
Shetler Studio Annex
939 8th Avenue (between 55-56th Sts), 2nd Floor (wheelchair accessible)

FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  (Suggested donation: $5.)  Co-sponsored with the Scular Humanist Society of New York.

"TRUTH UNCORKED: Where Wine Flows Like Conversation": Wine & Dinner with author/film producer and director Matthew Chapman, Thurs., June 12

CFI-NYC's Truth Uncorked series continues on Thursday, June 12 with Matthew Chapman, the acclaimed author, Hollywood screenwriter, director, and producer, and the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.  Join us for an intimate evening of fine dining, exquisite wine, and intelligent conversation. 

Matthew is the author of 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities On Trial in Pennsylvania, an account of the 2005 Intelligent Design trial in Dover, PA, and Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir , a personal memoir centered on a trip to Dayton, TN to witness a reenactment of the Scopes trial and see how -- or if -- attitudes towards evolution have changed.  Matthew's produced screenplays include Runaway Jury (starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and John Cusack ) and Color of Night (starring Bruce Willis ).  He has written and directed multiple films, including Slow Burn (starring Johnny Depp, Eric Roberts,  and Beverly D'Angelo ) and Hussy (starring Helen Mirren ).  He is currently writing and directing a philosophical thriller, The Ledge , co-produced by Mark Damon, Michael Mailer, and Matthias Visser.

Thursday, June 12, 6:00 p.m.
Gascogne (
158 8th Avenue (at 18th Street)

SPACE IS LIMITED. RSVP REQUIRED.  $80 admission includes dinner and wine tasting.  For reservations or more information, contact nyc [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net, or call (212) 504-2935.

Future Truth Uncorked guests include John Rennie (chief editor, Scientific American ); mathematician and author John Allen Paulos; and poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht.  Visit for updates.

Meet the Author: Carol Tarvis, Monday, May 5

NYC Skeptics' Meet the Author series presents CSI Fellow Carol Tavris, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.   Why is it often so hard to admit mistakes, change our minds, or give up a wrong belief? What blocks us from even being aware that we are wrong and might need to change? Our cognitive biases and blind spots help us sleep at night, but they can also have disastrous consequences.  Carol Tarvis is a social psychologist, lecturer, and writer. Her books include Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion and The Mismeasure of Woman . She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, a member of the editorial board of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Monday, May 5, 7:00 p.m.
SLC Conference Center (352 7th Ave 16th Fl.)

Sponsored by NYC Skeptics.

Save The Date: Freethinkers Tour of New York City, Sept. 6

Save the date!  Back by popular demand, CFI-NYC's Freethinkers Tour of New York City will take place again on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 6.  Keep an eye on for more information.

CANCELATION NOTICE: Voices of Reason Bonus Lecture, May 14

Due to the speakers' scheduling conflicts, the Voices of Reason bonus lecture originally scheduled on Wednesday, May 14 has been canceled.  Please join us again this September when the Voices of Reason lecture series will continue with an exploration of issues of Science and Secularism in the 2008 election.

Community Events

NEW! CFI-NYC Theatre Club:  Sam Eaton's "The Quantum Eye," Sat., May 17

Join us for the inaugural event of the new CFI-NYC / SHSNY Theatre Club: a performance of famed magician and skeptic Sam Eaton's Off-Broadway show, The Quantum Eye: Magic Deceptions .  Discount tickets are available for $30 (regular price $45). The Quantum Eye is an amazing evening of intimate magic and mind-reading exploits brought into the 21st century as he performs the impossible.  Running time: 90 minutes.  See for more.  Critics are saying:

  • "Amazing feats of memory, mental agility and apparent mental telepathy . . . Dazzling!  Undeniably impressive!" - Frank Scheck, New York Post
  • "A smart, fast-paced mental magic show that is suitable for the entire family."  -Will McKinley, The Villager
  • "Sure, David Copperfield can walk through the Great Wall of China . . . but can he read your mind?  Sam Eaton can." - Switzer, Village Voice
  • "Chillingly weird and so real you might want to have your cardiologist on hand, but still family friendly." - David Crohn, New York Press

SPACE IS LIMITED.  To reserve tickets, call (212) 504-2935.  Payment by check or by credit card is accepted.  Let us know if you would be interested in joining us for an after-show dinner with Sam Eaton (place and time to be determined).

Seating is unreserved.  We recommend arriving at the theater by 4:30 p.m. at the latest to ensure good seating.

Saturday, May 17, 5:00 p.m.
Snapple Theater Center, 1627 Broadway (50th Street)

Movie Night, Monday, May 12: Article VI: Faith, Politics, America

This month's Movie Night features ARTICLE VI: Faith, Politics, America . Article VI of the Constitution forbids any religious test of a candidate for public trust or office, and thus ignites the film's exploration of the current political environment, religious bigotry, and intolerance in America. Filmmakers Hall and Donaldson criss-cross the country, interviewing religious leaders, politicians, pundits and ordinary citizens about religion and politics in America in this important film that will be released theatrically in fall, 2008. For a preview, go to .

Monday, May 12, 7:00 p.m
Stone Creek Bar & Lounge
140 E 27th St. (Lex-3rd Aves)

There is no room-rental charge at Stone Creek Lounge, but management expects us each to spend the equivalent of a "one drink minimum." Check out the menu and prices at .

Coming Attractions: June: Brazil ; July: Point of Order: The Army-McCarthy Hearings ; August: What do you want to see? Come to Movie Night and tell us.

Book Club, Thurs., May 22: "American Creation" by Joseph Ellis

The jointly sponsored Center for Inquiry / Secular Humanist Society of New York Book Club will meet on Thursday, May 22, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in the Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (at 7th Ave.) to discuss Joseph Ellis's American Creation : Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic . From the first shots fired at Lexington to the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, Ellis guides us through the decisive issues of the nation's founding, and illuminates the emerging philosophies, shifting alliances, and personal and political foibles of our now iconic leaders. He casts an incisive eye on their achievements, arguing that the Revolution was, paradoxically, an evolution—and that part of what made it so extraordinary was the gradual pace at which it occurred. Join us even if you haven't finished reading.

Join us even if you haven't finished reading.  The CFI/SHSNY Book Club is open to all ... and free! Every CFI/SHSNY Book Club Meet is a Book Swap, too. Bring the books gathering dust on your shelves and take your pick of other readers' castaways. The leftovers? Donated to the Muhlenberg.

Directions to the Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (at 7th Ave.): 1 train to 23rd St. & 7th Ave., F or V to 23rd & 6th, C or E to 23rd & 8th; #23 or #20 bus to 23rd & 7th. Parking garages at 170 and 101 West 23rd. The library has an elevator to the 3rd floor Community Room

Monthly Brunch: Sun., May 25

This month's jointly-sponsored Center for Inquiry and Secular Humanist Society of New York brunch gathering will take place again at Fusia Asian Cuisine, 677C Lexington Ave (on 56th St. just east of Lex), at 12:30 p.m. Everyone interested in getting together with like-minded humanists and rationalists for good food, lively talk and humanist camaraderie is welcome.

Fusia is midtown-located, inexpensive and good pan-Asian. Order off the menu; individual checks. For the menu and prices, go to


Susan Jacoby on "The Colbert Report"!

CFI-NYC Program Director Susan Jacoby appeared in a hilarious interview on Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report on Tuesday, April 22, where she discussed her bestselling book, The Age of American Unreason .   Visit the Colbert Report web site to watch.  Congratulations, Susan!

CFI Explorers Club Sails the Amazon

Experience Brazil's Beauty! Join the Center for Inquiry Explorers Club on our next unique travel adventure to Brazil. Be on board as the Club savors (for the third time) a UNESCO World Heritage site, May 20 - 30, 2008. Featured speakers include Steven Pinker, Rebecca Goldstein, Paul Kurtz, DJ Grothe, and Austin Dacey. For reservations, contact CFI travel director Toni Van Pelt at (800) 398-7571 or cruise [at] cfiflorida [dot] org. All times, itinerary, and pricing are subject to change at any time.

CFI Institute Summer Session: The Journey from Religion to Science, July 20 - August 10

Contemporary society challenges us to understand our world in ways unimaginable a century ago. Scientific and technological advances, although beneficial and intellectually exciting, are also frequently anxiety-provoking, disrupting the placid certainty of the past: our comforting mythologies are regularly challenged by the realities of modern science and the unforeseen capabilities of modern technology. How can we embrace this intellectual excitement without provoking the anxiety created by, to borrow Lippmann's phrase, the "acids of modernity"? How can those of us committed to a fully secular, rational, science-based understanding of the world respond to majority views shaped by different commitments and loyalties? How do we chart a course from the "disenchantment of the world" to the "re-enchantment of the world."

The CFI Institute's Summer Session 2008 examines such questions as, "What are the origins of religion?", "How do we assess the truth claims made by major religions on the basis of their sacred writings?", "Is it possible to be good without God?" and "What is modern science telling us about how we come to know ourselves and the world beyond us?" The courses offered in 2008, organized around the theme From Religion to Science , examine the "future" of the Enlightenment, secular and religious dominion in public policy, the new atheism, and other topics of vital concern for humanists and non-humanists alike.

To register or for more information, call (716) 636-4869 ext. 408, e-mail sdornfeld [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net, or visit

Camp Inquiry: Holland, NY, July 13-19

Camp Inquiry invites campers from 7-16 years to think, question, and grow in a week-long camping experience in beautiful Holland, NY. Through inquiry-based, hands-on experiments, activities, and discussions, campers will experience just how challenging, fascinating, and fun exploring the world and expanding the mind can be. Contact Courtney Hannity at channity [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net for a brochure.

CFI-NYC Launches Capital Campaign

CFI-NYC's current rented space at Rockefeller Center has many limitations. We have barely enough room for staff to function efficiently. We have no room for skeptics and secular humanists to gather. The next step of CFI-NYC's development is to take its place as a leading cultural institution. To this end, we are seeking to purchase a 5,000+ square-foot property in Manhattan (hopefully with room for expansion) to serve as the headquarters for our growing staff and to become a permanent home for reason, science, and secular values in New York.

We are challenging our friends - humanists, skeptics, and freethinkers in the New York area - to help us exceed our goal of raising $6.25 million. Our goal is based on the amount considered necessary to purchase and renovate a building that will suit our needs.

Our capital campaign brochure is available for download on our website at .To request a hard copy of our brochure, or to inquire about making a contribution, call Sherry Rook, Vice President of Development, at (800) 818-7071.

Show Your Commitment to Reason, Science and Secular Values

In the contemporary marketplace of ideas, one can find responsible, objective, and evidence-based information on everything from foreign policy to hormone replacement therapy. Yet when it comes to some of our most fundamental questions--about human values, the transcendent, or the borderlands of science--one often only hears from partisans of traditional religion, New Age practitioners, or anti-science movements.

With its network of scientists and other thinkers, its grassroots advocacy and public education organizations, and its popular and scholarly publications, the Center for Inquiry fills this gap, lending a credible voice to critical inquiry and the scientific outlook.

Help CFI promote and defend science, reason, and freedom of inquiry by becoming a Friend of the Center. Friends of the Center receive:

  • Free or discounted admission to CFI events
  • 10% discount for national events sponsored by CFI and its affiliates CSH and CSI
  • 15% discount on selected Prometheus Books titles
  • A colorful CFI vinyl decal
  • An enamel CFI lapel pin (Contributor level or higher)
  • Invitations to special events and private receptions (Benefactor level and donors of $1000 or higher)

Join the Center for Inquiry by becoming a Friend of the Center.