Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics – ending meetups


Meetup_Logo_2015The Ann Arbor Science and Skeptics is ending its formal meetups.  The account will be closed, but not immediately cancelled.  If existing members are interested in taking over the account, they should have an opportunity to do so within a week or two after the meetup is closed.  An email from the site will be sent out with the specific details, such as costs, to those members who are subscribed to updates.

This website will remain active for the purpose of providing science and critical-thinking news and information for its subscribers.

For similar-related groups in the area, please consider checking out the Michigan Skeptics Association, Nerd Nite Ann Arbor, Center For Inquiry’s Skeptics in the Pub (Ypsilanti), University of Michigan’s Science Cafés, and University of Michigan’s Saturday Morning Physics.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send an email.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed and supported our science club for the past several years, as well as to all the guests and speakers who have helped lead some great discussions about their field of study and their research.

New Perspectives on Circumcision

Guest Post by Norm Cohen

Did you know that Michigan has one of the highest rates of non-religious circumcision in the world? 83% of newborn boys are circumcised (48,000 annually) at a cost exceeding $10 million per year.  Only West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky have a higher circumcision rate than Michigan.

The state of Michigan spends $3 million a year of taxpayers’ money providing 19,000 of these elective surgeries through Medicaid. Meanwhile in California, the circumcision rate has fallen to 23%.

Circumcision is the world’s oldest routine surgery, but still the most common one. It is the only routine surgery performed without a diagnosis, and the only routine surgery claimed to prevent disease. Long before it was claimed that circumcision prevents AIDS, urinary tract infections, or cervical cancer, the majority of American boys were already being circumcised. In every decade since 1860, American doctors claimed that circumcision prevents yet another disease caused by the nasty foreskin. Over 29 diseases were once blamed on it.

The tainted history of American foreskin removal and the growing anti-circumcision movement should prompt skeptical people to take a closer look at America’s foreskin aversion. It’s time to widen our perspectives and put this American tradition into its greater context.

70% of the world does not practice circumcision. This includes all of Europe, Central and South America, Japan, China, India and the rest of Asia, except among Muslims and Jews. The practice of routine circumcision died out in Britain and New Zealand, and it is dying out in Australia and Canada.

Europeans don’t take seriously claims for the health benefits of circumcision. In October 2013 a resolution calling male circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” was passed overwhelmingly by the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization. The month before, a multi-national children’s rights group, the Nordic Council for Children, passed a resolution asking Nordic countries to ban the practice for minors.

In March 2013, a letter by 38 top pediatricians from 16 European countries and Canada was published in the journal Pediatrics. It refuted the alleged benefits of circumcision and declared, “Physical integrity is one of the most fundamental and inalienable rights a child has.”

The practice of circumcision around the world raises many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public. There is a need to educate the public about this ancient practice that is generating modern controversy worldwide.

On Sunday, December 7thNOCIRC of Michigan will present, “New Perspectives on Circumcision,” a free event featuring national experts who will share the historical, religious, medical, legal, ethical, and cultural aspects of the unique and controversial practice.

The December 7th event will be held from 1:00 to 4:30 pm in the Michigan League building on the U of M campus (911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI), in the Michigan Room on the 2nd floor.

“New Perspectives on Circumcision”

The benefits and risks of learning the uncovered truth about history’s most unusual surgery—and why it really matters.

This free presentation features the foremost experts on circumcision discussing many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public that are raised by the world’s oldest routine surgery, which is also the most common one. This poorly understood practice is generating controversy worldwide

Speakers include:

Robert Van Howe, MD, MS, FAAP, Professor and Interim Chairman of Pediatrics at the Central Michigan University College of Medicine. He has lectured and been published internationally on the topic of circumcision and has been a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

John V. Geisheker, JD, LL.M, has practiced medico-legal law as an arbitrator, mediator, litigator, and law lecturer for over 30 years. He is the full-time Director and General Counsel for Doctors Opposing Circumcision, a nonprofit physicians’ organization based in Seattle.

Location: Michigan League Building

  • Michigan Room, 2nd Floor
    911 N. University Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI
    View map

A flyer about the event may be downloaded here:

The Facebook event page is here:

This event is sponsored by NOCIRC of Michigan.  The state chapter of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) informs Michigan residents about routine infant circumcision. NOCIRC is internationally recognized as the center of expertise on circumcision. It is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization of health care professionals and children’s health activists.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Norm Cohen

Director of NOCIRC of Michigan

Saturday Morning Physics Fall 2014 Schedule

Beginning on Saturday, October 11th, the University of Michigan Physics department will begin hosting their weekly Saturday Morning Physics lectures.  The lectures will be held Saturday mornings, 10:30-11:30 AM in 170 Dennison on central campus. These events are free and refreshments will be served from 10:00 to 10:30 AM prior to the lecture.

Designed for general audiences, the lectures are an opportunity to hear physicists discuss their work in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms. The multimedia presentations include hands-on demonstrations of the principles discussed, along with slides, video, and computer simulations.

You can find out more information by clicking here, including parking suggestions and seminar guidelines.

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Camelopardalis – Meteor Shower on May 24th


Courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

“In the early morning hours of May 24, we have an opportunity to observe a brand new meteor shower, the “Camelopardalids,” named after the constellation (Camelopardalis) they will radiate from. The origin of the meteoritic debris is a comet called 209P. It has been around for a while, shedding debris as it goes, and this debris has been stacking up in the inner solar system for a long time.


Between about 1:40 AM and 4:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time on the morning of May 24, the Earth will pass through some of this debris. Forecasts range from 1000 “shooting stars” per hour to 100 per hour. Here in North America, we will be in a pretty good place to observe them. The downside has to do with where the radiant is located.


The radiant is about one third of the distance between the North Star and the nose of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. During the prime event time, this point will be fairly low on the northern horizon, meaning that tall trees and close-by houses could block your view. It may be necessary to find a location with a clear horizon in the north.


Of interest with this shower is that the objects are moving relatively slowly, about 40,000 miles per hour, or about half as fast as many “shooting stars.” While fast by our standards, it means a better chance to spot and follow one as it streaks across the sky.


A new meteor shower is rare and worth the effort to observe. The peak duration is short, and it isn’t sub-zero outside! There are a number of websites with information and history related to this event, but be sure to convert the Universal Time to Eastern Daylight Time. Subtract four hours.”


For more information you can visit these websites.



“Scientists Fair 2014” (Saturday, May 31st)

A2 S&S Logo - for Blog

On Saturday May 31st, the Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics are hosting the third annual “Scientists Fair,” a science fair where the exhibits are actual scientists.  The event will take place from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. This will be free and open to both Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics members and the public.

Located in the Multi-Purpose room (in the lower level of the main branch), there will be several professors and researchers from the University of Michigan with expertise in general fields of knowledge, available to answer your questions. Some of the topics will include: Astrochemistry, Geology & Earth Science, Exploring Mars, Climate Science, Medical Research, Nuclear Power, and more

You can watch a short video about the Scientists Fair here (video)

The purpose of this event is two-fold:

  1. For our members and the public to not only acquaint people to scientific knowledge, but also to how that knowledge is obtained.
  2. For the scientists and professors to talk about their research with you, and to share with you their excitement and passion.

There is no reservation limit for this meet-up. And we are encouraging you to invite as many of your family and friends who enjoy science. This year the library is sponsoring our event, and we’d really like to get a big turnout.

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013

Ann Arbor Maker Fair 2013On Saturday June 8th, A2geeks is hosting the 5th annual Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire, a community-scale version of the big Maker Faires in Detroit, San Francisco, and New York City. The mini faire is free to attend and will feature exhibits and demonstrations by local builders, artists, students and Makers.

From the website:

Maker Faire is the World’s Largest Show (and Tell) festival—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, science clubs, students, authors, and commercial exhibitors. They are of all ages and backgrounds. Maker Faire’s mission is to entertain, inform, connect and inspire these thousands of Makers and aspiring Makers.


  • Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire
  • Saturday June, 8
  • 10 am – 5 pm
  • Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College

Get there early and you’ll have plenty of time to head out to our Meet-Up at 4pm.