Rebeccca Watson: Women and Skepticism

NYC Skeptics Public Lecture 3
Feb. 16, 2008, with Lower East Side culinary photo tour, followed by booze,
babies stabbed for soft drinks, and "presenting behavior."
Hosted by NYC Skeptics at the University Settlement in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Rebecca is the creator of Skepchick.org, co-host of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, and creator of the new NPR radio show Curiosity, Aroused. The house was full: it was the best attended of the NYC Skeptics' three public lectures so far. The emcee was NYC Skeptics member Jamy Ian Swiss, one of the world's top sleight of hand magicians. Hear Jamy discuss how magicians contribute to skeptical activism in this Point of Inquiry podcast.

Rebecca wore one of her self-designed (and now for sale) "Don't High-Hat the Monkey" T-shirts, inspired by "The Godless Girl," a nearly-hallucinogenic Cecil B. DeMille anti-atheism movie short.

These results are obviously skewed.

After the excellent presentation about 27 of us went out to eat. When it appeared that there wouldn't be space for all of us in the room we'd reserved, I scoured the neighborhood for other choices. And, not being a fool, I ate. Here's a sampling of the delicacies of the Lower East Side and NOLITA.

My first stop was a German beer hall and restaurant that's managed by a friend of mine. But he wasn't in and there wasn't room enough anyway.

Below: Katz's Delicatessan, since 1888. Seen here are knishes, kielbasa, and frankfurters, but Katz's is best known for its pastrami. Just visible at top center is the circular sign "Send a salami to your boy in the Army," which has been exhorting diners since WWII. Another sign directs patrons to the table where Meg Ryan's character conspicuously faked an orgasm in the movie "When Harry Met Sally."

Jonah Schimmel Bakery, famous for its knishes. That's blueberry at center.


Since 1914, Russ & Daughters has been run by four generations of the Russ family. It is justly famous for its smoked and cured fish. This woman has made the mimimum order: 1/16 ounce, which costs $6.50.

That was a joke. She's tasting a sample.

Another Lower East Side institution: Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse. The yellow sign is the color of the schmaltz – chicken fat – that's served in bottles to be poured over your steak.


Rice to Riches serves only rice pudding. I had peach. Across the street is Lombardis, America's first pizzeria and still one of the best.

It's damn easy to make delicious cheesecake. Eileen makes sublime cheesecake. And that's hard.


Back at Essex Restaurant, the crowd has settled in. Rebecca's childhood friend Debbie is at her right. Or that's a paid actor: we weren't sure. Matt, aka "Kookbreaker," is at Rebecca's left. He came with four others all the way from Philadelphia.

Below: NYC Skeptics president Michael Feldman, at far right, looks on in horror as Rebecca chugs $50 worth of mango margarita.

Just kidding. She shared.

Afterwards we went across the street to a bar called Magician. I forgot to ask why it was called that. Rebecca told us a sweet story: on the bus trip down from Boston, she told a childcare worker that she would stab a baby for a Diet Coke.

Although she was wearing it, somehow Rebecca's new NYC Skeptics shirt didn't make it home with her.

New Skepchicks were recruited...

...although after a few drinks some of them became rather unskeptical, to the point of exhibiting what is known in zoological circles as "presenting behavior."

On my way home: East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan. Ain't New York grand?


As with all her NYC visits, Rebecca's ended here...

...where she met a kindly captain who sailed her home!


Rebecca's wardrobe accessories provided by: