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Bob Friedhoffer, science historian, award-winning author and professional magician, kicks off "Investigating Modern Pseudoscience," the 2000 Old Dominion University College of Sciences Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series, at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Mills Godwin Life Sciences Building.

Friedhoffer will highlight scientific phenomena presented as a magic show during his talk, "Magic Tricks--Science Facts" Thursday. Friday, he'll discuss "The Deception of Perception."

The series examines topics in pseudoscience -- theories, methods or activities advanced as scientific -- and runs through April.

Thursday presentations are at 8 p.m. in Room 102 of the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building. The March 16 presentation will be in Room 104 of the Batten Arts and Letters Building. Friday presentations will be at 3 p.m. in Room 200 of the Oceanography/Physics Building. Refreshments are served at 2:30 p.m.

Through the evolution of science and the scientific method, "humanity has learned more about itself and its place in the universe in the last 1,000 years than in all of the years prior," said Old Dominion associate professor of physics Larry Weinstein, one of the series' organizers. "As the millennium changes, what are the marvels that continue to capture the public's attention? Astrology, ESP, hidden codes in the Bible, ghosts, and UFOs."

Speakers for the 2000 College of Sciences Dean's Distinguished Visitors Lecture Series and their lecture titles for each day are:

Feb. 3 and 4 -- Wallace Sampson, editor of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and a board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud Inc., "Alternative Medicine: Factors and Forces Behind an Ideologically Correct Social Delusion" and "Errors, Misinterpretations and Academic Legends: Alternativism and the Science Literature."

Feb. 10 and 11 -- Robert Park, professor of physics at the University of Maryland and director of the Washington office of the American Physical Society, "Placebos Have Side Effects" and "The Road from Foolishness to Fraud."

Feb. 24 and 25 -- Joe Nickell, senior research fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, editorial board member of The Skeptical Inquirer magazine and a former professional magician, "Investigating Strange Mysteries" and "Investigating Miracle Claims."

March 16 and 17 -- Howard van Till, professor emeritus of physics at Calvin College, takes on "Scientific Creationism: Science, Pseudoscience or Folk-Science?" and "The Legend of the Shrinking Sun: A Case Study Comparing Professional Science and Scientific Creationism."

April 13 and 14 -- Dave Thomas, president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, delivers "What Really Landed at Roswell?" and "The Bible Code: A Skeptical Investigation."

April 20 -- Philip A. Ianna, professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia, wraps up the series with a discussion, "Astrology? Today?"

For more information, visit the series' Web site at http://www.physics.odu.edu/htmlstuf/sue/cal-lec-99.htm or call 683-3468.

This article was posted on: January 5, 2000

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