Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism
For up to date information the Centre for Inquiry’s Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism, please visit the CFI CASS Site
The Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS) is a national Centre for Inquiry body with the following mandate:
The Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS) is a national team which critically examines scientific, technological and medical claims in public discourse. Working with our expert advisers we address factual inaccuracies and misinformation in public debates by promoting evidence-based science. To achieve these ends CASS will work within the infrastructure of CFI to co-ordinate campaigns with them and other interested parties.
Meetings are held every first and third Monday of each month at CFI Ontario headquarters and via the internet.
Biographies of CASS members
Ian Martel is slowly joining the real world after two decades in the ivory tower as a student and teacher of philosophy. His philosophical research was in the metaphysics of physics, focusing on theories of causation and time in the context of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. He is a British citizen, but did his graduate work in Colorado, where he first experienced the horrors of the religious right: Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, and the 40% of Americans who believe the Earth is only 6000 years old. He’s been teaching on and off at the University of Toronto for the last six years, including classes in logic, critical thinking, philosophy of science, and a class entitled “science and pseudoscience”.
Justin Trottier is the National Communications Director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada and Past President of the Freethought Association of Canada and the Canadian Secular Alliance. As an outspoken advocate of freedom of expression and inquiry, science education, church-state separation, and equality rights for non-believers, he has represented freethinkers regularly on the Michael Coren Show on CTS TV as well as in the National Post’s Holy Post. He also contributes to Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines.
Andre Lachance has been a Professor of Biology at Western since 1979. His research specialty is microbiology with a focus on yeast biology, but he teaches courses on various aspects of evolution, including population genetics, phylogenetics, systematics, and general developments in evolution. He has always been fascinated by scams and deceivers, and in recent years, has followed the creation-evolution debate quite closely. He serves as advisor to a recently formed Atheist and Agnostic Student group on campus.
Viktoriya Baydina is a first year student at the University of Toronto, currently studying commerce but making a switch to the Astronomy and Physics program starting next fall. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine and moved to Toronto with her family in 2001. Besides English, she can speak Russian and Ukrainian, and is presently learning Norwegian. She is interested in how cultural traditions and religious beliefs influence people’s interpretations of scientific findings. She has been passionate about promoting critical thinking and skepticism in her social circles and hopes to continue to do so through CASS and CFI.
Larry Moran graduated from Carleton University then went on to do a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Princeton University. After a post-doctoral stint in Switzerland, he became a professor in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Toronto. Larry currently teaches courses in molecular evolution and scientific controversies and is the author of a leading biochemistry textbook for undergraduates. He has been involved in the creation/evolution debates and the relationship between science and religion for over two decades. He blogs at sandwalk.blogspot.com. Professor Moran is an advisory fellow at CFI Canada and faculty advisor for the University of Toronto Secular Alliance.
Claire Trottier has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, and is currently working in biomedical science education as a Postdoctoral Fellow. She is a CFI science adviser and lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Behzad Elahi grew up in Iran in an intellectual family of skeptics and physicians. He received his M.D. degree from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran in 2005. Since 2008 he has been working on his PhD in University of Toronto, department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. The main aim of his thesis revolve around motor learning and brain plasticity using trascranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS). Behzad Elahi holds Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) scholarship in the field of dystonia and has grown special interest in brain plasticity and movement disorders especially Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. he is a reviewer in several peer-reviewed medical journals and, he wishes to become an influential neurosurgeon-scientist in the years to come. Behzad Elahi lives in Toronto, Canada and enjoys swimming, tennis andlatino dancing. He is an active member of Center for inquiries, Ontario and Committee for advancement of science and skepticism Canada. List of his scholarly publications can be found here.
Mitchell Gerskup is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Economics & Philosophy. An avid atheist and skeptic, he currently serves as President of the University of Toronto Secular Alliance, helping to promote science, reason and critical thinking on campus and abroad. Mitchell is also an accomplished competitive debater, having debated all across Canada. He is currently a member of the Executive of the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate. In addition to issues of economics and philosophy, Mitchell is interested in the fields of science and technology.
Clifford W. Beninger
Clifford Beninger grew up in Sudbury, Ontario and completed high school there. He also completed a H.B,Sc. and M.Sc. in biology at Carleton University and in 1990 began his Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa, but conducted the research at the Canadian Forestry Service natural products lab in Sault Ste Marie Ontario. Since completion of his Ph.D. he has worked for the USDA and University of Guelph on a variety of research projects. He has 31 publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Chemical Ecology, Biochemical Systematics and Ecology and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (PDFs of his publications are available on request at his website: http://beninger-consulting.com).
Gabriel Devenyi is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Physics at McMaster University. He also holds a B. Eng. in Engineering Physics from McMaster. Engineering Physics is the study and use of modern physics theories such as Quantum Mechanics to produce and improve electrical and light based devices. Gabriel is studying the formation and interaction of nano-scale metal particles with light, and he is a founding organizer of the McMaster Association of Secular Humanists and actively involved in current running of the club. Gabriel is married to his wife, Diana, also a Ph.D. student in Medical Physics at McMaster.
Jeff is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He has degrees in mathematics from Waterloo and UBC, and got his PhD in computing science from Simon Fraser University in 2003. Jeff is an athiest with a passion for skepticism, critical thinking, and science outreach. His research centres on computational neuroscience and image processing. He is also interested in evolution and emergent behaviour in other complex systems. Jeff is a contributor to the blog Skeptic North and also has his own blog, Intelligent Falling.
Edwin is a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, where he is pursuing a masters degree in Political Science. His research focus is on religious expression within North American white supremacist groups. Edwin has given public lectures on the importance of critical thinking in public discourse, as well as talks discussing American white supremacist organizations. In his spare time, he keeps a skeptic-themed blog where he examines the claims of cult-archaeologists, medic al con-men, and conspiracy theorists.
Dr. Bill McMartin, PhD, Expert on Avian Ecology
Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, Professor emeritus of economics at the Université de Montréal.
Dr. Marc-Andre Lachance, Professor, Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario
Dr. Amanda Peet, Professor of Physics, University of Toronto.
Dan Falk, Science Author and Journalist.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Professor, Department of Statistics, University of Toronto.
All current executives of CFI Canada and its branchs are also members of CASS.