Embedded below is Sharene Gilchrist’s talk from SkeptiCamp Winnipeg 2014. Sharene likes to make things out of other things and she has cats. She likes to read and ride her bike. She has been a Christian, a Pagan, a vague New-Agey type and finally feels better not having any religion at all.
SkeptiCamp Winnipeg is a conference for the sharing of ideas. It is free and open to the public: anyone can attend and participate! Presentations and discussions focus on science and free inquiry, and the audience is encouraged to challenge presenters to defend their ideas. You can visit our SkeptiCamp page for information about upcoming events and links to past SkeptiCamp talks.
In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Donna Harris and Greg Christensen discuss near-death experiences (NDEs) and some of the possible psychological, physiological, and transcendental explanations for them.
Note: Shortly after this episode was recorded, we learned that Steven Novella and Sean Carroll would be participating in an Intelligence Squared debate on the resolution “Death Is Not Final”. Arguing for the resolution was Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, who was mentioned in this episode. We link to a video of the debate in the show notes.
In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn Noble discusses the life and times of recently deceased “psychic medium” Sylvia Browne with Donna Harris and Gem Newman, and Gem hosts a game of Psychic Fact or Psychic Fiction!
In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman talks about the evidence (or lack thereof) for ghosts with Greg Christensen, Ian Leung, and Mark Forkheim. Also on this episode, Gem chats with Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist.
Warning: In the first few minutes of the podcast, Greg asks Gem to give a primer on Bayes’ Theorem and conditional probability (and why this is at all relevant to ghosts). It involves a little bit of math, so brace yourself.
The probability that it is raining, given the fact that it is cloudy: P(Raining|Cloudy) = P(Cloudy|Raining) • P(Raining) / P(Cloudy)
The probability that ghosts exist, given the fact that you heard a weird noise: P(Ghosts|Noise) = P(Noise|Ghosts) • P(Ghosts) / P(Noise)
In this instance, P(Noise|Ghosts) is the probability that you’d hear a weird noise, assuming ghosts exist, P(Ghosts) is the prior probability that ghosts exist, and P(Noise) is the probability that you’ll hear weird noises (generally speaking).
The example numbers plugged in during the podcast: P(Ghosts|Noise) = 0.95 • 0.05 / 0.60 = 0.08
So in this case, hearing a strange noise might increase your belief in ghosts from 5% to 8%; definitely not a smoking gun.
In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman swaps ghost stories with Greg Christensen, Ian Leung, and Mark Forkheim. Also on this episode, Gem chats with PZ Myers about religion, skepticism, and the supernatural.