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   Northern Illinois University Chapter

2012 Sigma Xi Initiation Banquet

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Place: The Sky Room, Holmes Student Center
Time: Reception (cash bar) 5:30 p.m., Dinner 6:30 p.m.
Please see this flyer for reservations.

Please come to honor our newly elected Full and Associate Members and to hear our speaker Dr. Suzanne E. Willis.

Dr. Suzanne E. Willis

Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Physics, NIU
Science, Pseudoscience, and Nonsense: Why I Care if You Waste Your Money
At the AAAS meeting in February, scientists warned of increasing attacks on science and scientific research, at a time when the tools of science are ever more needed to cope with an increasingly technological, warming, and ever more populated world.
Meanwhile, a stroll through your local mall will reveal bracelets that promise to increase your strength and endurance, and dietary supplements that promise the same, and more. There are outbreaks of whooping cough and measles due, at least in part, to a growing unvaccinated population; almost everyone knows their astrological sign but one American in five still thinks the sun revolves around the Earth. And more than half of Americans believe that the US will not be the world leader in science, technology, and health care in the year 2020.
Pseudoscience masquerades as science but is not; it may use some of the language of science but not the tools. As scientists, we can usually spot pseudoscience in our own fields, but outside our area of expertise it may not be so simple.
Once, when lecturing on pseudoscience in my class, one of my students asked, “Why do you care if we waste our money?” This talk is my answer to that question.

Dr. Willis received her BA in physics from Mount Holyoke College, and MPhil and PhD from Yale University. Her dissertation experiment was the first detection of the neutrinos emitted during muon decay. She did postdoctoral work at Fermilab, and was on the faculty at the University of Oklahoma before coming to NIU. She has done research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fermilab, the late SSC, and CERN. More recently, she has become committed to increasing public science literacy, and has given talks on physics, pseudoscience, and global warming at various non-academic venues in the Chicago area.

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