March 8th, 2016: The Confidence Game

Con artists, grifters, psychics, and Ponzi schemers: what do all these masters of deception have in common? And how are they able to convince us to fall for their schemes? Join us for the Empiricist League’s seventeenth gathering, featuring presentations and a panel discussion with special guest Maria Konnikova, author of the new book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It Every Time.  Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn).

Doors at 7pm. Presentations start at 7:30pm; panel discussion at 8:15.

RSVP here.

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time

Dr. Maria Konnikova is a Russian-born American writer and journalist. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” She is a contributing writer for The New Yorker, which recently ran an excerpt from her new book,  How Stories Deceive. Her writing has appeared online and in print in numerous publications, including The New York Times, the Atlantic, WIRED, Scientific American and The New Yorker. Dr. Konnikova will be speaking to the Empiricist League about her new book The Confidence Game, and the insights she’s gleaned on the psychology of both the con man and his victims.
Forgery as Entertainment: The Role of Storytelling in Entertainment & Marketing
Mike Monello is the Chief Creative Officer at ad agency Campfire, where he’s led work that has been awarded top honors at the One Show, Clio, Mixx, ad:Tech, and Addy awards. Prior to co-founding Campfire, Mike was a co-creator of The Blair Witch Project – a movie that changed the way marketers approached the Internet. Steve Coulson is a Creative Director at Campfire and guides creative development for comprehensive transmedia and social experiences for the agency. His 14 years of experience in new media marketing includes work for Sony Entertainment, HBO, Discovery Channel, Harley-Davidson, American Eagle and Coca-Cola. Mike and Steve will speak to the Empiricist League about their experiences honing the art of persuasion in the filmmaking and agency worlds.
Designing Deception: Magic and the Art of Misdirection
Vinny DePonto is a modern day mentalist and theater artist with a undying love for the mysterious. The New York Times has said, “What distinguishes the good magician from the great is the rigor of execution and quality of artistry. Mr. DePonto’s craftsmanship consistently impresses.” His recent Off-Broadway show Charlatan, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. He will be speaking to the Empiricist League about how magicians and mentalists use storytelling and the toolkit of deception to entertain their audiences.

September 23rd, 2015: The Hidden DNA of NYC

What are the 15,000 microscopic lifeforms that live on the subway? How disgusting are the contaminants in the Gowanus Canal? Can we use technology to stop the spread of flu? Join us for the Empiricist League’s sixteenth gathering, covering the many varieties of DNA and microbes in New York City.  Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on September 23rd.

Doors at 7pm. First speaker starts at 7:30pm.

Buy your ticket here.

Going Viral: Using the Internet to Track the Flu in NYC and Beyond
Rumi Chunara is an Assistant Professor at NYU, in Computer Science & Engineering and the Global Institute of Public Health. Many important behaviors and environmental parameters that can affect our health are not captured by traditional healthcare systems. Thus, Dr. Chunara’s research investigates how we can use data from outside healthcare systems to better understand how and why infectious and noncommunicable diseases spread in populations. In order to do this she builds systems to obtain data and develop computational methods to harness the unstructured data and incorporate it into epidemiological models. She will speak about her project crowdsourcing molecular specimens from the community to validate and improve infectious disease reports.

Mapping the Subway’s DNA: Sharing Your Commute with 15,000 Other Lifeforms
Ebrahim Afshinnekoo is a project leader at PathoMap, launched in summer of 2013 by the Christopher Mason Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College. The project studied the microbiome and metagenome of the built environment of NYC, with special emphasis on the subway system. Mr. Afshinnekoo will speak to the Empiricist League about what PathoMap uncovered about about both the microbial and human diversity of New York City.

Enquête Gowanus: Invisible Life in the Gowanus Canal
Ian Quate is a designer with a penchant for microorganisms. His work expands the scope and relevance of landscape design to the varied terrain of today’s built environment, through cross-disciplinary projects with unorthodox collaborators. He is a designer at Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the co-founder with Colleen Tuite of GRNASFCK an experimental landscape studio. and creative lead of Enquête Gowanus, a partnership with Weill Cornell Medical College, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC), and GenSpace, a community biolab in downtown Brooklyn. Ian will speak to the Empiricist League about the environmental context, industrial legacy, and biological strategies to process pollution in the Gowanus Canal.

May 6th, 2015: Food

Will eating insects one day replace eating McDonald’s? Are GMO’s the last, best hope for saving mankind? Should we grow meat in a lab instead of on a factory farm? Join us for the Empiricist League’s fifteenth gathering, covering the many ways that new discoveries will change how we eat. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on May 6th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

Buy your ticket here.

Eating Insects: An argument for self-sustenance and a bug-centric cuisine
Ashley Marie Quinn is a designer and activist interested in the cross-section between art, science and technology. Through her work she bridges the gap between environmental awareness, human action, and behavior change by creating novel experiences and design interventions. Ms. Quinn will speak to the Empiricist League about the history of entomophagy, better known as the practice of eating insects, it’s current state, and how to take it to the next level.

GMOs to the Rescue: Could golden rice, arctic apples, and other genetically modified organisms save the world?
Drake P. Bennett is a staff writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. He has written on topics ranging from robotics to anarchist activism to soccer match-fixing to the airline industry. Previously, he was the staff writer for the Boston Globe Ideas section. His freelance work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Wired and Slate. Mr. Bennett will speak to the Empiricist League about the promise of genetically modified organisms, and why they inspire such controversy.

The Vegan Cheeseburger: Why lab-grown meat can (and should) be the future of protein
Isha Datar is the Executive Director of New Harvest, a non-profit research organization working to develop animal products made without animals and instead in cell culture. She has a BSc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Alberta and a M.Biotech from the University of Toronto. In 2012, she spoke at TEDxToronto about cultured meat and eating sustainably through changing one’s meat intake. Ms. Datar will speak to the Empiricist League about the technology and potential of cultured animal products.

February 4th, 2015: Free Will

Are we really in control of our own decisions? Do we have a “self” that actively makes choices, or do unseen processes within the brain make our decisions for us? Join a neuroscientist, a biologist/comedian, and a philosopher at the Empiricist League’s fourteenth gathering, covering the many ways that scientific discoveries are undermining one of our most cherished beliefs. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on February 4th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Genetic Predestination: How Our Genes Are Ruining Our Lives
Raj Sivaraman is a writer, comedian, and Ph.D. scientist. He is one of the co-hosts of the Universe City podcast, which breaks down scientific papers for mainstream audiences, and has performed in several festivals all over the country and presented his research at as many international scientific conferences. Dr. Sivaraman will speak to the Empiricist League about how our genes constrain our ability to have “free will”.

The Automaton Within: Determinism and the Philosophy of Free Will
Dr. Justin Garson is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at Hunter College. He specializes in the Philosophy of Biology, with an emphasis on the intersection between biology and mind. Dr. Garson is the author of “The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction” in which he outlines a philosophical perspective on morality and altruism, and how it unfolds in evolution. He will speak to the Empiricist League about the philosophical roots of the concept of free will.

You Are Your Brain: What Neuroscience Says About Who’s In Charge
Dr. Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She explores interactions of the human brain and mind with the goal of contributing to improved treatment and prevention of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders. Dr. Berlin is a presenter on the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown and has made numerous media appearances including the History Channel, BBC World Service, World Science Festival, StarTalk Radio, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and TEDx. Dr. Berlin will speak to the Empiricist League about recent research in neuroscience and their implications for our understanding of free will.

November 25th, 2014: Apocalypse

What’s it like to visit Chernobyl? What’s the best way to fight an Ebola outbreak? What is the FBI doing to keep the most dangerous biological threats in check? Join an FBI agent, the creator of “pollution tourism”, and a science & health journalist at the Empiricist League’s thirteenth gathering, covering some of the many ways that humanity might be extinguished. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on November 25th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Patient Zero: “Plantibodies” and the New Frontier in the Fight Against Ebola
Joshua A. Krisch is a NYC-based journalist, specializing in science, health and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Motherboard (VICE), Scientific American, The Atlantic, Popular Mechanics and Esquire. In the past, he has written about bottles lost at sea and space blimps that fly into the stratosphere. He will speak to the Empiricist League about the cutting edge measures that scientists are taking to fight the next Ebola outbreak.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places
Andrew Blackwell is a journalist and filmmaker living in New York City. His acclaimed book Visit Sunny Chernobyl is a love letter to the Earth’s most degraded and despoiled nooks and crannies, and an impassioned argument for a new kind of environmentalism. Mr. Blackwell will speak to the Empiricist League about the end of Nature, the art of pollution tourism, and reasons to be optimistic about the apocalypse.

Achieving Biosecurity: An FBI Special Agent Tells You How
Special Agent Sara Wood is an Assistant Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Coordinator assigned to the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). SA Wood has a B.S. from Yale University and a M.A. from the University of Connecticut. Her investigative responsibilities include counterterrorism investigations involving weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation networks. SA Wood will talk to the Empiricist League about threats to biosecurity, how the FBI is tackling them, and how the science community can help.

September 23rd, 2014: Creativity

Where does creativity come from? What makes someone an expert? How can we increase our ability to generate innovative ideas?  Join us for  a round panel discussion with three of the world’s foremost scientific experts on genius, expertise, and creativity at the Empiricist League’s twelfth gathering, taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on September 23rd.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Inside the Minds of Icons: Historic Geniuses and the Psychopathology That Made Them

Gail Saltz, MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, columnist, bestselling author, and television commentator. She is a contributing editor for Health magazine and hosts two series at the famed 92nd Street Y. She has appeared repeatedly on national television programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, and Dateline and is frequently featured in the national press. She is currently writing a book on genius and psychopathology.

The Role of Inspiration and Passion for Creative Achievement

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD is a psychologist, author, and popular science writer known for his research and writing on intelligence and creativity.  He is Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also co-founder of The Creativity Post and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.

Deliberate Practice: Is That All it Takes to Become an Expert? 

D. Zachary Hambrick, PhD, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, has has argued that there are limits on the effects of training for expertise and creativity, and that genetic factors also play a role. He published an opinion piece in the New York Times, “Sorry Strivers, Talent Matters”. Dr. Hambrick also does extensive work on the merits of brain training, which he shared with the Empiricist League earlier this year.

Moderator:
Polly Palumbo, PhD is a child research consultant, psychologist, and child health advocate seeking more nuance and accuracy in science reporting. She is the founder Momma Data, a blog devoted to debunking parenting advice and children’s health news.

August 19th, 2014: Love

Does marriage help or hinder love? Are men and women really all that different from each other? What does the behavior of online daters tell us about the desires of modern singles? Join a co-founder of OKCupid and experts from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology at the Empiricist League’s eleventh gathering, taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn).

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.


Sex on the Brain: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Love, Lust, and Marriage
Dr. Bianca Acevedo holds a B.A. in Psychology from New York University and a PhD in Social/Health Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a research scientist at the NYC Departmentt of Health & Mental Hygiene in New York City and teaches courses in Interpersonal Relationships and Research Methods. She has published several widely-recognized articles on the science of love which have appeared in media outlets around the globe and which she has presented both nationally and internationally. Dr. Acevedo will speak to the Empiricist League about what the latest findings in neuroscience have to say about finding lasting love.

Mating Intelligence: Evolutionary Psychology’s Advice for the Lovelorn
Dr. Glenn Geher is Professor and Chair of Psychology as well as Director of Evolutionary Studies at SUNY New Paltz. Glenn has edited or authored numerous publications, including the book Evolutionary Psychology 101, as well as the blogs Building Darwin’s Bridge and Darwin’s Subterranean World for Psychology Today. He worked to launch the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS) in 2007 and is the lead guitar player for the Hudson Valley’s only all-professor punk rock band: Questionable Authorities. Dr. Geher will speak to the Empiricist League about how evolutionary pressures have shaped our approach to mating.

OKTrends: The Math of Online Dating
Christian Rudder is one of the founders of OKCupid and the author of OKTrends, a blog featuring observations and statistics from hundreds of millions of OkCupid user interactions, all to explore the data side of the online dating. His upcoming book,Dataclysm, explains how data scientists are quantifying the formerly unquantifiable and showing with unprecedented precision how we fight, how we age, how we love, and how we change. Mr. Rudder will talk to the Empiricist League about what this new explosion of data can teach us about the search for romance.

April 29th, 2014: Evolving Evolution

Can evolution make music better? Does Darwin need to be modernized?  What does the latest research on zombie-creating parasitic wasps teach us about what makes us human? The Empiricist League’s tenth gathering will take place on Tuesday, April 29th at Over the Eight (594 Union Ave., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). First speaker starts at 8:30pm.  Please RSVP here.  Admission is FREE!

Evolution & The Creative Frontier
Maryam Zaringhalam is a Ph.D. Candidate at the F.N. Papavasiliou Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology at Rockefeller University as well as the founder of ArtLab, “an ongoing experiment at the interface of art + science”. Maryam will show the Empiricist League how evolutionary principles are being applied to creative fields in order to create new experiences in music and art.
The Modern Darwin
Daniel Duzdevich is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Professor Eric Greene at Columbia University. He studies biological molecules that function as tiny machines on strands of DNA. His interest in the relationship between science and language motivated him to pen “Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Modern Rendition”. Daniel will speak to the Empiricist League about the importance of language in science, and how Darwin struggled to describe groundbreaking ideas that lacked an existing vocabulary
The Bugs Within
Anastasia Liapis, PhD is a scientific advisor who specializes in immunology, oncology, genetics, and cardiovascular disease. Anastasia is making her second appearance at the Empiricist League. Having dazzled us with the renegade power of our immune system’s Killer T-cells, Anastasia will speak on how microbiomes are the back-seat drivers of evolution. She’ll also share new research on how our modern lives affect our microbiome.

February 11th, 2014: The Rise of the Super Brain

Does sex affect your IQ? Will shocking your brain make you smarter?  Can you train for intelligence? The Empiricist League’s ninth gathering will take place on Tuesday, February 11th at Over the Eight (594 Union Ave., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). First speaker starts at 8:00pm.  Please RSVP here.  Admission is FREE!

Inside the Science of Getting Smarter
Dan Hurley is a science journalist who has been covering the field of cognitive enhancement for the past three years. He has written for the New York Times Magazine on computer training games that increase fluid intelligence, and the use of transcranial direct-current stimulation to improve intellectual abilities. In January he published his new book, Smarter: The New Science of Building Brainpower, as well as an article in theatlantic.com about sex and IQ.  Mr. Hurley will speak to the Empiricist League about how to separate out the self-help baloney from the reliable science in this fast-evolving field.

Expanding the Mind’s Workplace
Jason Chein, PhD, is principal investigator of the Neurocognition Lab at Temple University in Philadelphia. His research has focused on the key role played by working memory, the mind’s ability to not just remember but to juggle facts and figures — what he has called the “mind’s workspace.” He has published two studies which found that people who practiced working-memory exercises improved other general abilities, including attention and reading comprehension. Dr. Chein will speak to the Empiricist League about his ongoing studies funded in part by the Office of Naval Research.

IQ Points for Sale, Cheap 
D. Zachary Hambrick, PhD, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, has argued in studies and the popular press that the promise of cognitive training has been over-hyped. In the past year, he co-authored two studies finding that working-memory training does not increase intelligence, although his latest did find that it might still have benefits. In 2012 he published an opinion piece in the New York Times urging people to regard the commercial brain training programs with caution. Dr. Hambrick will offer the Empiricist League a skeptic’s view of cognitive training.

January 14th, 2014: The Science of Morality

Ethical robots! Altruistic cavemen! Shameless cheaters! The Empiricist League’s eighth gathering will take place on Tuesday, January 14th at Over the Eight (594 Union Ave., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). Doors at 6:45pm, first speaker starts at 7:30pm.  Please RSVP at Facebook.  Admission is FREE!

Nice Guys Finish Last? The Evolutionary Basis for Morality and Altruism

Dr. Justin Garson is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at Hunter College. He specializes in the Philosophy of Biology, with an emphasis on the intersection between biology and mind. Dr. Garson is excited to be sharing a portion of material from his upcoming book, “The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction”” (Routledge, September 2014), in which he outlines a philosophical perspective on morality and altruism, and how it unfolds in evolution.

The Ethical Robot: Passing the Turing Test

Simon Pearce is a lifelong AI geek, who holds degrees in Philosophy, Psychology, Industrial Design and Manufacturing from Cambridge and Bristol Universities. He’s the founder of Fabric Branding, a brand strategy and design agency based in New York City. Mr. Pearce will discuss whether the sentient machines of our near future will resemble Asimov’s moral robots, whose existence is defined around service to their creators, or if robot self-awareness will lead inexorably to the pop culture nightmare of a robot uprising.

Calibrating the Moral Compass: The Psychology of Cheating

Dr. Maria Konnikova is a Russian-born American writer and journalist. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” Her writing has appeared online and in print in numerous publications, including The New York Times, WIRED, Scientific American and recently The New Yorker, where she shared a view Inside the Cheater’s Mind. Dr. Konnikova will be speaking to us about how we justify cheating, and why we are prompted to cheat.