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Curiosity Club: Live at the Hollywood Theatre

Fun with Factual Failures

Website: Hollywood Theatre

The first ever Curiosity Club off-site is coming! On June 22nd, 2015, we take over the Hollywood Theatre and try out an experimental new format. As our slogan goes, "We admit that it is impossible to know everything about anything and thus we remain perpetually curious and perpetually novice.” Part of good noviceship is asking questions, and we’re taking our questions to the stage! 

Throughout life human beings are presented with de facto “truths” that are actually totally erroneous. These untrue “truths” may come from pervasive misunderstandings within culture, they may be handed down through institutional systems like education, government or religion, and sometime they come straight from a trusted authority figure like a parent. Big or small, they deserve to be questioned! 

We've asked a power panel of Curiosity Club alumni to share some of the best and worst “facts" that they've ever come across. They will discuss the historical situations that led to these misconceptions, the proof that these “truths" are actually false, and their thoughts and feelings on living these lies.

Confirmed Speakers:

Chris Higgins - Author
"Trust Tylenol"

In 1982, seven people in Chicago died after taking cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules.  In the years since, Johnson & Johnson’s response to the crisis has been lauded as a public relations triumph…but what really happened?

Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides, and his work has appeared in This American Life, mental_floss, and The Atlantic. Primarily a magazine writer, Higgins’s latest piece is the cover story for Oregon Business Magazine, entitled The Good Hacker.


Nora Wendl - Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University
"The Fiction of Architecture"

One woman's journey through the lie that buildings tell the truth. 

Nora Wendl questions the composition of architecture—seeking to expand the perception of what the discipline’s built forms and histories are (and could be). Her compositions exist on a spectrum between the written artifact and the built artifact, aligning architecture and its histories with the adjacent fields of fiction, poetry, contemporary art and literature. She is Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University. She has co-edited a book with Isabelle Loring Wallace, of Contemporary Art about Architecture: A Strange Utility (Ashgate, 2013). Her research has been featured in various academic and literary publications including Journal of Architectural Education, Architecture and Culture, On Site: Review, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, 306090, and Invisible City and presented, performed and exhibited at various international and national venues.


Ethan Siegel - Theoretical Astrophysicist and Professor, Lewis & Clark College
Website: Starts With a Bang
"Accepting the Fate of the Universe"

It's relatively common knowledge that the Universe began from a hot, dense state known as the Big Bang, but the scientific answer for how the Universe will end was only uncovered in 1998. It flew in the face of our sensibilities and expectations, but here's the story of how one scientist overcame his objections and biases to accept it.

Ethan Siegel fell in love with the Universe at a young age, and has spent his life trying to understand the mysteries of space, time, and everything that exists. He's a theoretical astrophysicist, professor and science communicator, who writes for NASA, Forbes, and the award-winning science blog Starts With A Bang!


Coleman Stevenson - Faculty, Art Institute of Portland
Website: Jaws of Hell
"Moths | Rust | Thieves"

From her mother's haunting personal "wisdoms," to the question of Pluto's planethood, Stevenson's talk (part poem, part essay) looks at ways we encourage children to believe our existence is fixed and absolute.

Coleman Stevenson's first collection of poems, The Accidental Rarefication of Pattern #5609, was published by bedouin books in 2012. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a variety of publications such as Paper Darts, Seattle Review, E-ratio, Laurel Review, Osiris, Louisiana Literature, and Mid-American Review, and the anthology Motionless from the Iron Bridge. She was a featured writer for the FA/WI 2014 Poetry Press Week. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches poetry and design communication.


Charles Boardman - Assistant Clinical Professor
Website: Oregon Health Sciences University
"Unknown Unknowns, or, What The Bears Saw"

Charles will talk about how Goodnight Moon is actually a post-human meditation on the enslavement of carnivores to an all-powerful herbivore master race, and the permanent, matryoshka-esque expansion of the unknown.

Charles Boardman is a medical practitioner, scientist, teacher, father, untrained male dancer, and failed extremist.



Nial McGaughey - Proprietor
Website: HoverCraft Amps
"Perfect' is the Enemy of 'the Good"

Perfection is extremely expensive, subjective, and time consuming. While good, just isn't. I want to share my new way of thinking that can help when you are making something completely new, while keeping a sane perspective.

After building several guitar amplifiers on his kitchen counter out of 'dumpster gold', Nial McGaughey melded his inner mad scientist to his previous life as a touring musician to create new sonic works of art based on rare or extremely expensive vintage gear using obsolete materials destined for landfills. Skills learned from re-creating vintage motorcycles, and a bit of film and TV set design have inspired McGaughey to create bespoke sound equipment for musicians all over the world.


Mike Merrill - Publicly Traded Person
"Investing in the Stock Market is a Terrible Idea"

The stock market is a sucker's bet. The game is rigged and the house always wins. What options are left for the non-professional investor?

K. Mike Merrill is best known for being a publicly-traded person who has his shareholders to make his decisions. This includes everything from his political party to who he dates to where he works to what he eats. In 2013 his shareholders forced him to quit his job of ten years and start Chroma, which is working to allow anyone to "IPO anything". 

Earlier Event: June 16
Geoffrey Hiller: Hiller Photo
Later Event: July 7
Josh Hydeman: Cave Photographer