Archive for category Skepticism

Merseyside Skeptics Society Charity Riverside Walk 2018

The annual, Merseyside Skeptics Society Charity Walk is upon us. This year it will take place on Sunday May 20th and will follow our usual route from Otterspool Promenade alongside the river Mersey ending at the beautiful Liverpool Waterfront. Here’s the fundraising link.

You can find details of the event on Facebook and Meetup.

Last year we raised £336.54 with Gift Aid for MerseyAid refugee support which we matched with a donation to The Whitechapel Centre supporting homeless people in the Liverpool area.

Previously we have raised £487 for Mind the Mental Health Charity, £929 for Alzheimer’s Society and £343 for North West Cancer Research.

Each year, selecting a worthy charity to donate to is difficult. We want to donate to a worthy cause but we also want to see the money we raise being used as productively as possible. So, this year, we have selected a charity that considers multiple factors then uses the evidence to decide where donations are most useful.

GiveWell are a charity who undertake in-depth charity analysis and identify top charities which are “evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted and underfunded”. GiveWell are completely transparent and make all of their research available to the public. Their criteria include selecting charities whose work have evidence of effectiveness, charities who use donations to support the best outcomes in the most effective way and charities who won’t be overwhelmed by an increase in funding. GiveWell also follow their top charities and publish reports on how they are doing transparently and are continually striving to improve their own charity through regular transparent reporting on their strengths, weaknesses and aims for improvement.

Some of GiveWell’s current top charities include:

  • Malaria Consortium – treatment to prevent malaria in children in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Sightsavers – Supporting deworming programs in low-income countries.
  • Helen Keller International – Vitamin supplementation to prevent child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • GiveDirectly – Distributing cash to very poor individuals in Kenya and Uganda.

You can find out more about GiveWell on their website where you can read all about the charities they recommend and the research that they do.

You can donate to our event fundraising page here.

We look forward to seeing you at the walk!


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Britt Hermes Legal Costs Fundraising Campaign

You may know that Britt Hermes, who is an international skeptical campaigner about naturopathy, and former speaker at our QED conference. You may not be aware, however, that Britt is currently being sued for defamation.

Britt used to be a naturopath herself, but she now spends a lot of time and effort exposing naturopathic practices, including on her blog “Naturopathic Diaries”.

She’s been taken to court in Germany by US-based naturopath ‘Dr’ Colleen Huber, who is claiming that Britt has defamed her on her blog. Huber is a critic of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in cancer treatment. Instead, she uses ‘natural’ therapies that include intravenous infusions of vitamin C and baking soda.

The international skeptical community is concerned that the case against Britt may have the effect of silencing a major campaigner against unproven and disproven ‘medical’ practices, through the imposition of considerable legal costs.

For this reason, the Australian Skeptics have set up a fund-raising campaign to help cover Britt’s legal costs.

If you would like to contribute to the fund, or want more information, then go to

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Merseyside Skeptics Society raises £260 for Young Legal Aid Lawyers Liverpool

Emma McClure, on the subject of forensic faux pas (Photo Credit: Chris Malburn)

Emma McClure, on forensic faux pas

Last night, Merseyside Skeptics Society member and prison lawyer Emma McClure gave a fascinating, funny and frightening talk on the way forensics can be misused or mishandled by police investigations, and the terrible miscarriages of justice that can occur as a result. It was a brilliant talk, in front of a packed audience, and a hugely enjoyable evening.

Given that Emma is one of our own members, and therefore had minimal expenses, we decided to use our normal collection as an opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause: Young Legal Aid Lawyers Liverpool.

Young Legal Aid Lawyers Liverpool is an organisation close to Emma’s heart, campaigning to ensure justice is accessible for all, not just for those who can afford it. Due to the generosity of our members and attendees at last night’s event, we are able to donate £260 to the group.

We are delighted to support this important cause, and would like to thank once again everyone who donated last night.

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PLANTED WATER LEAF GREEN: Peter Popoff and the Blue Peter letters

Do you know who likes a bit of arts and crafts? Why, God does, of course.

At least the impression you get from some of Reverend Peter ‘Petey’ Popoff’s letters to me and my merry-and-increasing band of animals and imaginary friends.

When I left you last (and apologies that the gaps in this series are becoming as bad as the intervals between Inkredulous episodes…) I’d been sent many ‘interesting’ and MIRACULOUS miracle items from Petey that I had to drink or anoint myself with or wear for a specific period of time, but there were some letters that needed a little more creativity from everyone involved in order to release the blessings. It goes without saying by this point I was also supposed to send money along with all of my creations (although he did say as much, an awful lot of times).

This arts and crafts club was called the ‘112 Team of God’s Potential Millionaires’ and it’s a club I, my dog Evie and some other acquaintances have been made members of:


The 112 millionaires club! (click to expand)

Petey seemed to be having funny dreams about me again where he had seen me shouting words like PLANTED, WATER LEAF GREEN with Satan’s henchmen shouting DRY PARCHED DESERT LAND whilst we all ran up and down a golden staircase like some sort of exploitative pantomime:


Popoff describes his operatic dream about me. (click to expand)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics in the Pub: QUIZ

3556012779_ecfda0e592_oWhen:  Thursday, July 30th, 2015, 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines, 81 Lime St, Liverpool

We’re hosting a Pub Quiz!

On this rare 5th “Phantom” Thursday in July we’re organising a general knowledge, science and rational thought themed pub quiz. Come and be tested and enjoy a drink with us in The Vines! It’ll be fun..

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Peter Popoff: All that glitters isn’t gold

So when we left off, Reverend ‘Petey’ Popoff had been writing to me and sending me various miracle liquids in exchange for ‘seed’ money. However Petey’s miracles also came in solid form. As time went by all kinds of weird and rubbish wonderful things came through my letter box. Example: What would you say this is?


One of Petey’s shiny gifts (click to expand)

If you said cheap ribbon from an unwanted present, I understand where you are coming from but I’m afraid you would be wrong. It is in fact a SILVER AND GOLD BRACELET that God (through Petey) wanted me to borrow as it holds the SECRET for amassing great wealth:


(click to expand)

It seems that the Lord has quite a penchant for shiny things and bracelets in particular, as Petey has sent me a fair few over the years.

If you have been following this series of posts the format of the shiny-stuff letters was the same as all of the others:

  1. Do something silly with a miracle item
  2. Send it back to Petey with cash
  3. ???
  4. All your problems go away!!!

Another thing common to all of the letters was that I was supposed to return not just the miracle ‘bracelet’, oil, water, pomegranate seeds (seriously, actual pomegranate seeds, watch this space…) and so on, but I was also supposed to return the whole letter in the self-addressed envelope provided each time. Or at least the portion of the letter specifically asking for money.

I can’t imagine why someone acting on God’s behalf who was repeatedly asking potentially vulnerable people for large amounts of money would need those responding to send back *all* evidence of the requests but hey ho, God works in mysterious ways and all that.

But im getting off track, this blog is about shiny things.

The cheap ribbon GOLD AND SILVER BRACELET had to be worn for one night and then once I sent it back (with a £30 seed gift) I would get Petey’s personal telephone number so he could say magic words to me, and then all my problems would be solved and… get an even better bracelet! I presume that Petey wouldn’t dream of charging premium rate for any calls made to this number. That would be a completely unfair asserton. He has only been caught committing fraud/ exploiting people for money like, what, twice now? And it was ages ago. Give the guy a break.


The instructions for the GOLD AND SILVER BRACELET (click to expand)

But this fondness for shiny things wasn’t and isn’t limited to shonky jewellery. Check out this extremely fetching silver faith slipper. Only one, you’ll notice (though I actually have enough of them to start a small shonky silver slipper shop at this point, but I hope to tell you all about that later).


The slipper letter also contained a second envelope containing a “RIBBON WITH A GOLDEN COIN”.


Personally, I’d say it a cheap plastic medal, a bit like what you might find in a child’s party bag, but you know, I say potato you say RIBBON WITH A GOLDEN COIN. Anyone who came to my QED Skepticamp talk back in April will have seen me sporting my amazing ‘coin’. As with a few of the other letters from Petey this one seemed to think that I would appreciate the colours because, as the letter explained, they are a reference to the USA:

I’ve placed one more thing in this MIRACLE MONEY BREAKTHROUGH PROPHETIC WORD LETTER- your very own GOLDEN COIN attached to a Red, White & Blue Ribbon. Red, White and Blue represent the USA…

A cynical person might think this is because these are form letters that have been poorly and hurriedly amended for a UK audience but, you know, the same colours are in the Union Jack so it still totally works. The coin was a particularly amusing letter as it invoked an image of Petey running around the world on my (and also my dog’s) behalf:

Evie, I must then cast your coin into the SEA OF GALILEE in ISRAEL where the Apostle Peter caught the FISH WITH GOLD IN ITS MOUTH… This act of faith will release your DOUBLE PORTION anointing upon your life.

I will RUSH THE DOLLAR OF SILVER upon my prayer altar TO YOU for I truly believe it will be the FIRST DOLLAR OF MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS COMING TO YOU. You will receive good news by phone as well as in your mailbox. LACK WILL FLEE AND INCREASE WILL COME!

As with the bracelet swap, Petey was promising I would get an even better coin or ‘dollar’ as long as I was an obedient girl and sent back the gold coin. And some money. And any evidence of Petey having asked me for any of this.

Now it’s unfair to say that the letters always asked for money. There was one occasion when Petey seemed to be tapping into the recession, and rather than asking me for a monetary seed gift God wanted me instead to fill a little bag with gold and send it to Petey.


The ‘cash my gold’ bag. (click to expand)

One of the bracelet letters, in addition for asking for £20.00, also asked me for bank details, so I could make a credit card payment to set up a regular ‘seed’ gift. I decided against sending Petey my bank details, for some reason.


The request for bank details with miracle bracelet strip. (click to expand)

By this point in my Petey penpal escapades I had received 10 letters, and the requests showed no signs of stopping…

Popoff’s Plush Pad Pot: £500 + a bag of gold + my bank details (from 10 letter)

Next time: PLANT, WATER, LEAF, GREEN – The Blue Peter Letters

Postscript: The cascade of letters for Evie has continued as have letters to some her imaginary (my imaginary) friends. This has included some very interesting Popoff post recently along with some adventures that I hope to tell you all about soon. Watch this space.