CFI-Argentina Report 2011
February 8, 2012
As we do every year, we held our “Beliefs, Pseudoscience, and Critical Thinking” course at the Scientific Society of Argentina in Buenos Aires during August and September 2011.
In May and September, I took part in a series of television shows that dealt with several pseudoscientific and supernatural subjects: miracles, predictions, faith healing, sects, haunted houses, apocalypses, UFOs, and subliminal perception. Here are some links to watch these shows:
These shows had a huge impact on the audience and garnered other media for us. After these episodes aired, the number of fans of our newly launched Facebook page, “Pasan Cosas Raras” (“Weird Things Happen”), increased from 300 to more than 1300. Available at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pasan-Cosas-Raras/215145385185602, the page keeps our fans informed about pseudoscience, charlatans, and the activities of CFI–Argentina.
On July 20, we organized Thinking Friends Day, where attendants enjoyed talking about skepticism and pseudoscience, taking part in “Ouija board sessions,” and watching demonstrations of “spoon bending” that caught the attention of the many skeptics in attendance. It was a very amusing meeting.
September 9–11, the Third National Congress on Atheism in Argentina was held in Mar del Plata. I had the honor of representing CFI–Argentina during this event and I also had the chance to say some words about our main goal of combating pseudoscience: the battle is going to be carried on in the media. So we must train people, especially young people, about how to best meet that goal.
After the Third National Congress on Atheism, CFI–Argentina organized a lecture by philosopher and CSI Fellow Mario Bunge, titled “Pseudoscience and Pseudophilosophy.” On September 15, more than 100 attendants had the chance to ask Bunge questions after the lecture. Many audience members asked questions that Mario Bunge answered with his usual spontaneous style. For example, to the question “What is your main challenge in life?” he answered, “To live!” Bunge answered questions on democracy, politics, religion, psychology, philosophy, and other issues.
During November 2011, another event organized by CFI–Argentina with two more lectures was held at the Scientific Society of Argentina. Círculo Escéptico Argentino (Argentinian Skeptical Circle) and ArgAtea (an atheist national organization in Argentina) cosponsored the event, “Charlatanism and Science.” I had the honor of giving the first talk titled “Astrology, Parapsychology and Alternative Medicine: Plain Charlatanism.” The second lecture was given by Mariana Bentosela, who discussed myths about the communication between dogs and humans.
Finally, on December 4 and 5, I had the honor of attending the First International Symposium on Critical Thinking, organized by the Rationalist Association of Paraguay (APRA). I represented CFI–Argentina with the presentation “Magical Thinking, Common Sense, and Critical Thinking: From Superstition to Reason.” There were so many interesting presentations, among them the lecture held by Alberto de la Torre, physicist and researcher at the University of Mar del Plata, who talked about how physics is evolving to explain that the universe can exist without a “creator.” Alejandro Agostinelli carried on another presentation about Argentina’s skeptical movement. Agostinelli is a cofounding member of the first skeptical group in Argentina, Argentine Center for Investigation and Refutation of Pseudoscience (CAIRP). On behalf of CFI–Argentina, I want to express my gratitude to Jorge Alfonso Ramírez, cofounder of APRA, and the rest of the staff.
Our next step is to publish an online magazine about pseudoscience and the supernatural titled Pasan Cosas Raras (Weird Things Happen). We hope it will be online in April 2012.
We will continue with our associated members campaign as well.