Posts Tagged Skeptics in the Pub

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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Lifting The Lid: Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

Since joining the Good Thinking Society, I’ve been extensively touring my Skeptics in the Pub talk on the topic of hands-on skepticism, and the fun that can be had from exploring the pseudoscience around you.

I’d like to do as many talks as possible, so if you’d like me to talk for your Skeptics in the Pub, university group, humanist group or other, let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate you. To book my talk, visit the Good Thinking Society’s website.

Lifting The Lid: Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

by Michael MarshallMichael Marshall: Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

(Alternative photos – Image 1, Image 2Image 3)

Requirements: projector, screen, audio playback (this talk involves some short video clips with sound).

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Guest Post: Pondering Evidence-Based Policy and the Geek Manifesto

Dr Benedict Michael is a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow (DRF). He trained in Medicine in Liverpool, and has helped set up the NHS Northwest Neurological Infectious Diseases Research Network and Brain Infections UK and is a main author for the ABN/BIA National Encephalitis Guideline. Here, he shares his take on our recent guest speaker Mark Henderson’s ‘Geek Manifesto’:

I recently attended an interesting talk hosted by the Merseyside Skeptics Society and given by Mark Henderson, author of the “Geek Manifesto”, and one main thing struck me: Why are so many of the greatest proponents of evidence-based approaches not scientists?! As a physician, NIHR PhD Fellow, author of over 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications and active author in the Cochrane Collaboration, arguably the most widely respected evidence-based institution, I can claim at least some interest in this!

Although I commend Mark’s efforts, the non-scientific authors and proponents, if I can call them that (and by which I mean authors not regularly engaged in peer-reviewed scientific research publications and nothing pejorative), are not always in line with the scientific community.

In fact, many scientists and doctors oppose a fully evidence-based approach to guiding policy and practice, and some have gone so far as to raise the alarm against a cryptofacist evidence-based hegemony in which they find their practice constrained.

Now before you grab the pitch forks and tie me to a stake, let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics in the Pub: John Walliss

It’s (Not) the End of the World As We Know It

John Walliss: It's (Not) the End of the World As We Know Itby John Walliss
When: Thursday, October 20th, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool

On 21st May 2011 the end of the world should have begun. This prophecy, from evangelical Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, however, did not come to pass. Christians all over the world were not raptured, the Tribulation period did not begin, and Camping, who has subsequently suffered a stroke, and his followers are having to come to terms with the apparent failure, or at least delay, of the prophesied events to occur.

Camping however, is not unique in religious history. Numerous other prophets and religious leaders have made claims that the world will end on a specific date with events subsequently proving them wrong.

John will examine the phenomenon of prophetic failure, drawing on the wealth of literature that we have developed in the social sciences over the last 60 or so years. In doing so he will hope to answer such questions as what happens when prophecy fails and does prophecy ever really fail?

John Walliss is the senior lecturer in the sociology of religion and Director of the Centre for Millennialism Studies within the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University..

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Skeptics in the Pub: Stuart Ritchie

The Science of Pornography and Anti-Porn Campaigners: A Skeptical Look At The Debate

Stuart Ritchie by Stuart Ritchie

When: Thursday, September 15th, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool

Is pornography turning us all into sex offenders? What effect does it have on societal attitudes towards women? Is porn taking over the internet? If certain recent books – such as ‘Pornland’ by Professor Gail Dines – are to be believed, pornography is having all these effects and more, and is a hugely detrimental force in our society.

But what does the best scientific evidence say? Stuart Ritchie, a PhD Psychology student at The University of Edinburgh, takes a skeptical look at the arguments for and against pornography.

NOTE: This is a replacement talk for “How to be a Psychic Con-man” by Ash Pryce, which has been postponed until further notice.

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Skeptics in the Pub: David Aaronovitch

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

by David Aaronovitch
When: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines (aka the Big House), 81 Lime Street, Liverpool


Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere – from Pearl Harbour to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana.

In his book Voodoo Histories, writer David Aaronovitch entertainingly demolishes the absurd and sinister conspiracy theories of the last 100 years. Aaronovitch reveals why people are so ready to believe in them and the dangers of this credulity.

Meticulous in its research, forensic in its reasoning, hilarious in its debunking, Voodoo Histories will arm anyone who has found themselves at the wrong end of a conversation about moon landings or the twin towers.

David will examine the need, when iconic figures such as Kennedy, Monroe or Princess Diana are killed, to construct an overarching explanation that mitigates the pain and anxiety of their loss – showing what happens when, as in the case of Diana, conspiracy theories actually make it as far as a court of law.

Read the rest of this entry »

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