August 8–11, 2013

Eugene, Oregon

Using Probabilistically Challenged Minds to Cope with Uncertainty

We live in an inherently probabilistic world. From quantum mechanics to medical diagnoses to everyday life, we have to cope with uncertainty.

Unfortunately, psychologists have demonstrated that the human brain, an otherwise fantastic instrument for enabling us to adapt, is severely handicapped when it comes to working with probability.

This handicap is demonstrated by a multitude of problems and puzzles that consistently tease us into wrong answers. This handicap causes us to make bad choices in more serious realms of behavior.

These include decisions and actions involving medical, financial, vocational, and other important matters. This year’s Toolbox will deal with medical decisions, the cognitive limitations in dealing with chance, the use and misuse of significance tests in deciding which treatments, methods and actions work and do not work, and the role of the media in disseminating false information about nutrition.

collage with dice in front and scientific professionals in the background

NEW: Harriet Hall’s presentation “Uncertainty in Medicine” is now available for download.
Download presentation (5 MB, .PPTX) »

About the Skeptic’s Toolbox

A creation of Ray Hyman, the Skeptic’s Toolbox began in 1989 with a workshop in Buffalo, New York, titled “Skeptical Inquiry: The Role of the Skeptic.” In subsequent years the workshop became anchored at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where Hyman taught psychology. Each summer, people from all over the country gather in Eugene for an intense weekend of skeptical investigation.

Unlike many of the conferences held by CSI, the Skeptic’s Toolbox is a much more intimate and informal affair during which participants get an opportunity to put the tools of science and skepticism directly to work on many paranormal or pseudoscientific claims and ideas. Along with fascinating case studies and experiences presented by a wonderfully engaging faculty, attendees break up into small groups and tackle a case study of their own under the guidance of a faculty member.

We hope to provide more information on Ray Hyman’s vision of the Skeptic’s Toolbox, as well as the fabulous experiences he has had over the years, on our website. We also hope to continue working on the archives area of the site to provide a sense of the great breadth and depth covered during the past two decades. Please keep an eye on these areas in the future.

Where is the Event?

University of Oregon
Living Learning Center
1475 East 15th Avenue
Eugene, Oregon 97403

Registration: Living Learning Center Performance Hall

Workshop Sessions: Living Learning Center Performance Hall

Accommodations: Living Learning Center Residence Hall

Meals: Carson Cafeteria (except Saturday dinner, which is at the Living Learning Center Performance Hall).

map of the University of Oregon campus showing the Living Learning Center

For an interactive campus map, visit »


University of Oregon is making rooms available in Living Learning Center Residence Hall. Room and board includes Thursday dinner; Friday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch; and Sunday breakfast and lunch. All meals except Saturday dinner will be held in the Carson cafeteria. Saturday dinner is in the LLC Performance Hall.

Cafeteria Hours
Breakfast: 7:00am – 9:30am
Lunch: 11:00am – 2:00pm
Dinner: 5:00pm – 7:00pm


To learn more about the history of the Skeptic’s Toolbox, please visit the web site of last year’s workshop:

The Skeptic’s Toolbox 2012 - Evaluating Evidence: Garbage In, Garbage Out