September 8, 2017: The History of the Future – Steampunk, Spacesuits, and Beyond

What are the real life historical origins of steampunk? Why does the science fiction of the Victorian age appeal to us, and what are its roots in the actual discoveries and scientists of that time? How did thinkers in the past view the future and how are today’s thinkers envisioning the future?

Join us for the Empiricist League’s twentieth gathering, featuring presentations about the science of steampunk, past visions of urban futures, and designing outerwear for outer space.

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

RSVP here.


CLOCKWORK FUTURES: The Science of Steampunk 
Brandy Schillace, PhD, is a historian, author, and Senior Research Associate for the Dittrick Museum of Medical History (Case Western Reserve University). Brandy’s recent books include DEATH’S SUMMER COAT, exploring cultural approaches to death and dying (2015), and CLOCKWORK FUTURES, a social history of technology and the “steampunk” aesthetics of invention (September 2017). In all her endeavors, Brandy seeks to uncover the human stories at the center of science and medicine, proving truth is frequently stranger than fiction. Brandy will speak to the Empiricist League about her new book and the science of steampunk.

CITIES OF FUTURES PAST: Strange historical visions of the urban future
Wythe Marschall is an anthropologist of technology finishing his PhD in the History of Science Department at Harvard. He writes and teaches about future visions of biotechnology, farming, and cities. Currently, Wythe is researching how agricultural tech startups are trying to disrupt the food economy and change how we think about plants and buildings. Previously, Wythe taught at Harvard and in the English Department at Brooklyn College. He’s also curated art-and-science exhibitions and events about designing living things. Wythe will speak to the Empiricist League about how futurists have imagined utopian cities on Mars, covering the entire planet, and right here in the Five Boroughs.

THE FINAL FRONTIER OF DESIGN: Working with NASA to design the next generation of spacesuit gloves
Ted Southern is a sculptor, costume maker, and inventor from Brooklyn, New York. For the last 4 years, Ted has been developing a new generation of space suit gloves, in coordination with Nikolay Moiseev, a Russian spacesuit fabricator. In November 2009, Ted and Nik outperformed NASA’s current Phase VI spacesuit gloves, and won second place in NASA’s Astronaut Glove Challenge. Prior to space, Ted’s work focused on technical garments for movies, theatre, and television including wings for Victoria’s Secret and costumes for Cirque du Soleil. Ted will speak to the Empiricist League about his work designing garments for use in outer space.

March 22, 2017: CRISPR: The Emerging Future of Gene Editing

What makes CRISPR—Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats—such a buzzworthy technology? How could this gene editing technology be used? Designer babies? Driving mosquitos to extinction? Curing disease? Who will actually get to use CRISPR?

Join us for the Empiricist League’s nineteenth gathering, featuring presentations about the revolutionary gene editing technology CRISPR. Hear perspectives from the DIY, creative, and startup communities.

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

RSVP here.

Ellen Jorgensen, PhD
CRISPR 101: “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” Made Easy
As co-founder of Genspace, Brooklyn’s Community Biotech Lab, Ellen has developed a haven for entrepreneurship, innovation and citizen science. Her efforts have been widely chronicled, including in Science, Wired, and The New York Times, and her TED Talks (on CRISPR and BioHacking) have received millions of views. In 2014 Fast Company named Genspace one of the World’s Top 10 Innovative Companies in Education, and in 2016 ​they named Ellen as one of the top Creative Leaders in Business. ​Genspace ​has received major funding from the Simons Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Dr. Jorgensen will give to the Empiricist League a download on the basics of CRISPR.

Adam Bolt
Science and Society: Documenting the Evolution of Gene Editing
Adam Bolt is filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. He was the editor and co-writer of Inside Job (2011), which won an Academy Award winner for Best Documentary; He was editor, writer, and senior producer of Showtime’s Emmy-award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously; editor and co-producer of the The Recruiter (HBO), which won a Columbia duPont award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2010. Adam will speak to the Empiricist League about what inspired him to direct his upcoming feature length film about CRISPR.

Sarah Richardson, PhD
The Germ Wrangler: The Future of CRISPR and Gene Editing
Sarah Richardson, aka “The Germ Wrangler”, has a BS in biology from the University of Maryland and a PhD in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2015 she was awarded a L’Oréal Women in Science postdoctoral fellowship to pursue her work on cryptic CRISPR systems. As chief scientist of Ignition Genomics she is dedicated to the development of clever genetic tools for overlooked or underexploited bacteria. This past October, Richardson’s  SXSW Eco Keynote, The Planet is a Cookbook: Genetic Engineering Recipes for the Future was lauded as one of the best moments of SXSW Eco. Dr. Richardson will speak to the Empiricist League about what’s on the horizon for gene editing.

July 20, 2016: Consciousness

What is consciousness and where does it come from? How do physical processes in the brain give rise to complex thoughts and emotions – as well as our sense of experiencing the world as individuals? Can consciousness be fully explained by those physical processes, and if so can we look forward to the rise of conscious machines?

Join us for the Empiricist League’s eighteenth gathering, featuring presentations and a panel discussion on consciousness with leading thinkers from the fields of physics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.

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

RSVP here.

Consciousness and Physics
George Musser is a contributing editor for Scientific American and Nautilus magazines, where he focuses on fundamental physics and space science. His most recent book is Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time–and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything (2015). He has won many awards for his writing, including the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and as a senior editor at Scientific American for 14 years, he shared in two National Magazine Awards. Mr. Musser will talk to the Empiricist League about recent work in physics and its implications for consciousness.

Consciousness and the Brain
Dr. Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also the host of the PBS series Science Goes to the Movies, and the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown and has made numerous media appearances including on the BBC, History Channel, Netflix, StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and TEDx. Dr. Berlin will speak to the Empiricist League about recent research in neuroscience and its implications for our understanding of consciousness.

Consciousness and AI
John C. Havens is a contributing writer for Mashable, The Guardian, and Slate. He is the author of Hacking H(app)iness – Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World and has recently published his second title for Tarcher/Penguin, Heartificial Intelligence: Embracing Our Humanity to Maximize Machines. He will be speaking to the Empiricist League about what AI can teach us about consciousness, as well as the ramifications for conscious machines on our world.

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.