For more than 20 years, the Skeptics Society's Distinguished Science Lecture Series has featured thought-provoking, even trailblazing ideas at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, where such big guns as Jared Diamond, Leonard Mlodinow and Sam Harris discuss everything from how modern society can learn from pre-industrial traditional societies to the inherent conceptual flaws of free will. Minds are always blown. Michael Shermer, the Skeptics Society's executive director, even brought in Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton to explain how being a “functional psychopath” helps some people to excel in certain fields. Tackling issues involving the paranormal, fringe science and pseudo-science, the Skeptics Society and its lecture series take a special pride in blowing up conventional wisdom with vigorous critical thinking. 332 S. Michigan Ave., Pasadena. (626) 794-3119, —Patrick Range McDonald

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