Posts Tagged skeptic

The QED Skeptics in the Pub forum – topics wanted!

At every QED there has been a Skeptics in the Pub Forum – an open forum to discuss issues around the starting, running and expanding of a local Skeptics in the Pub group.

Whether you are a current organiser looking to share your successes, or want tips on how to expand, or are looking to set up a new group in your hometown, this is the place to be.

This year the forum will be moderated by:

  • Ian Scott – Ian is the founder of Glasgow Skeptics, who in 2014 hosted the largest public debate on Scottish independence of any non-aligned organisation. Ian is also the Acting Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, and Events Manager at the British Humanist Association.
  • Kash Farooq – Kash is an organiser of Nottingham Skeptics in the Pub and the co-founder of the popular PubhD network.
  • Alice Howarth – Alice is a PhD cancer researcher, co-host of the Skeptics with a K podcast and Secretary of the Merseyside Skeptics Society.

The forum will mainly be an open Q&A session, but if you have any topic that you’d particularly like to be covered, please leave a comment below and we’ll try to make sure it’s included during the discussion.

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A List of Skeptical Things…

People are always asking me what skepticism is. As this is a notoriously difficult question to answer accurately in a few words, I tend to mumble something incoherent and run away. The same goes for questions about what happens at Skeptics in The Pub events. Trying to dispel the notion that we simply get together for a few drinks and slag things off is difficult to do in casual conversation. Especially as Skeptics in The Pub does occasionally fit that description. I would rather never have to answer these sorts of questions at all. The problem is that at the same time, I do want to convey to people outside of our strange little world what it is exactly that we do, and why it interests me. Why do I go to skeptical events at all? What first grabbed  me and pulled me into this world that so many of my friends and family think is some kind of science cult for the culturally depressed? Read the rest of this entry »

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Derren Brown Investigates… Joe Power

Sometimes, just sometimes, I could almost be convinced that there’s someone up there listening. Not all the time, of course, and only half-heartedly – I’m not about to go all Goddy on you guys – but who could blame me, when things like this happen:

Derren Brown – beardy mind-meddler and generally top fella – investigates those who claim to have psychic powers… starting with my old mate Joe Power. I’ll come to Joe in a moment (we’ve a bit of a history), but first I’d like to say well done to Derren. I remember after his ‘Messiah’ show, it looked like he was heading into a more publicly skeptical position. While that hasn’t happened quite as far as we’d have liked (the lottery show for example), this latest show, coupled with his role in ‘Science of Scams’ suggests that skepticism is something Derren’s focusing on a little more. If that’s the case, this is excellent news – where Randi has been a major figurehead for decades (possibly even centuries, he seems to always have existed), he needs somebody to help shoulder the weight and take up the slack. With his public persona, showmanship, reputation and expertise, I really think Derren can play that role, should he desire to.

One person who certainly can’t play that role, is Mr Joe Power. For those of you not aware, Joe and the Merseyside Skeptics Society (and myself in particular) have something of a past – in fact, long before the 10:23 Campaign, taking on Joe Power was one of the first pieces of skeptical activism I got involved in. Having criticised his appearance in a local paper, blindly promoting him as ‘The Man Who Sees Dead People’, I decided to meet Joe Power at his Liverpool book signing, and invited him to take the million dollar challenge. What I got wasn’t polite declination, but bizarre insults – with Joe genuinely comparing all skeptics to paedophilesYou can read the whole account here, and I recommend you do, to really get a feel for the kind of man Joe Power is. It was during this conversation that I heard Joe had been investigated for a prominent TV show, and at the time I put two and two together and predicted it was Derren Brown who he was referring to.

I can’t wait to see the show on May 10th.

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Atheism: Those Who Know Do Not Say, Those Who Say Do Not Know

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With the coming of a very low-key, very gentle pro-atheism awareness campaign on facebook in ‘A’ week (http://www.aweekonfacebook.com/, Facebook event, #aweek Twittertag ), I’ve been reminded of the hesitation that many atheists feel towards the promotion of atheism in any way. Talking about any type of promotion or advocacy in favour of atheism as annoying because “this is the sort of thing that X-, Y- or Z-ians/-ists/ers do” may not be exactly how the majority of atheists feel, but I’d say, and only from my own feeling (not very skeptical, but still), that a large majority of atheists either couldn’t care less in trying to spread ideas and grow our mostly merry, but sometimes quite grumpy band of disbelievers, or are very uncomfortable with the thought of trying to actively or passively win people over to the idea that, maybe, they should give up the idea of an invisible Daddy In The Sky who grants wishes a little less frequently than you see the evil evidence of His Divine, or more humanly – if not humanely – divined, Will

But when you see the damage that religion does, and the toxic effect that a supreme, unquestionable authority and unquestioned afterlife can bring – from the banality and stupidity of the penny candle, crap wine and drain-filtering devices (pieces of The Christ’s Holy, suspiciously bread-like, Flesh must be saved from the insult of the sewers) of Catholicism (though after 2000 years on a bread and wine diet, I’m certain Jesus could make excellent use of modern facilities) to the horrendous tradition of wife-burning in Hindu ‘Sati’, thankfully both illegal and much reduced in modern India, or the unholy union of extreme Christianity in demonising a contraceptive layer of latex that could do so much to help the AIDS crisis – doesn’t this, shouldn’t this drive anyone with a rational bent and compassion for humanity towards doing what we can to reduce the influence of The Beast, even to simply kick the giant’s toe? Read the rest of this entry »

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Question of The Week: What Nonsense Facts Can You Ascribe To A Skeptic?

Chuck Norris doesn’t read books: he stares them down till they give him the information he wants. Oh, and Rome? He did build that in a day. And you know what’s underneath that beard? Another FIST!

These are just a few of the nonsense ‘facts’ ascribed to martial-arts yeti Chuck Norris that fly about the internet. Fortunately for him, none of them touch on his acting ability. If you listened to our podcast, Skeptics With a K, yesterday, you will have heard Mike ‘The Health Ranger’ Adams’ completely un-ironic list of facts about Skeptics. You know the score:  Skeptics don’t believe in anything, we work for Big Pharma, kill babies, that kind of thing… So for this week’s Question of the Week, we thought he’d give a Chuck Norris inspired response to Adams’ drivel.

The Question of The Week is this: What kind of Chuck Norris style nonsense facts can you ascribe to Skeptics that Mike Adams missed?

The funniest answer won’t recieve anything except our undying admiration, but if that’s good enough for Chuck Norris then it’s good enough for us!

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Skeptics in the Pub: Anniversary Special (formerly Andy Lewis)

Anniversary Bonanza

When: Thu, Feb 18, 2010 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines (aka the Big House), 81 Lime Street, Liverpool

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances our booked guest speaker Andy Lewis is unable to make this event. However, all is not lost – in honour of the first anniversary of the Merseyside Skeptics Society we’ve decided to replace Andy’s talk with a number of short talks on a variety of topics:

  • Emotional Freedom Technique, by Allan Callister – a look at the latest craze for face-tapping therapy
  • Bad Logic, Mike Hall – examining logical failures, with examples from the world of religion
  • PR and the Media, Michael Marshall – how PR gained control of journalism, and where we go from here
  • How Science Works, Tom Williamson – what is science, how do we do it and how do we know it works?

Plus, a live recording of the Skeptics with a K show.

Read the rest of this entry »

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