Latest News & Announcements
Due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, we regret to announce that Ben Goldacre is unable to speak at this year's conference. We hope to see him at a future event.
Fortunately, we're never ones to leave our attendees in the lurch, and with short notice Ben's skeptical shoes will be amply filled by Australian skeptic Richard Saunders. Richard was a huge hit at last year's event, and he'll be sharing with us tales from his many adventures in pseudoscience over the years.
The subject of religion is one that sparks a great deal of debate amongst skeptics. As advocates of reason and evidence-based thinking it can almost be too easy to assume that if you are a skeptic you are also an atheist.
Following on from the successful ‘Question of God’ panel at last years QED, we hope to explore the overlap between skepticism and atheism. Does skepticism necessarily lead to atheism? Or should skeptics only address empirical claims and avoid "untestable" claims like the existence of God? Should we avoid tackling tackling god claims so we don’t offend otherwise-skeptical theistic people?
This year we bring together three noted experts in the field of alternative medicine for the first panel session of 2013.
We have been keeping it under wraps, but now QED is only a week-and-a-half away (gulp!) we are very excited to announce our excellent entertainment for Saturday evening, sponsored by our friends at the British Humanist Association.
As you already know we have the Skeptic Magazine’s Ockham Awards hosted by the ever entertaining Richard Wiseman, to kick off proceedings from 8.30pm. After that we have three great acts for your delectation...
QED is a great place to meet new people. Whether you're coming alone or with a few friends, you're bound to leave with a few friends more. And there is no better opportunity for that than our Mixer event on Friday night.
With the Good Thinking society having announced not one but two grants to be given away at QED, be sure to join us to explore the winning ideas from Horsham Skeptics in the Pub and the Edinburgh Skeptics.
There is no better introduction to this debate than a couple of quotes from articles written by our panellists. Here is Brendan O’Neill writing in the Telegraph:
There is a burning question few seem willing to ask: why should policy-making be based on evidence? Why should something like the right of people to take drugs, which touches upon amorphous, evidence-free things like liberty, morality and responsibility, be determined by the lab tests of men in white coats? Why is it any more right for a man of science to say “Yes, this drug may be permitted, but this one may not” than it is for a man of the cloth to say “Thou shalt not smoke dope”? The former’s pontification might be based in science, while the latter’s is based in religious considerations, but the end result of both are the same: tiny cliques of people conspire to deny everyday people the right to choose their vices on the basis that those vices might harm them either physically or spiritually.
If you are coming to QED this year and are wondering where to go for an evening meal, Oxford Skeptics in the Pub are organising a 'Rebel Dinner' at The Red Hot World Buffet on Deansgate.
A £5 deposit will be required to be paid during the day at QED to confirm your place for the evening.
The Rebel Dinner is open to any QED attendees so get in touch with Oxford SITP, but remember to be back in time for the evening's entertainment!
Note: this is an entirely unofficial event and is not affiliated with QED in any way. Questions or queries should be directed to Oxford Skeptics in the Pub
More than anything else, here at QED we want our event to feel like it's your event - it belongs to the skeptical community, and that our attendees are at the heart of everything we do. With that in mind, we're pleased to announce the return of our most interactive and audience-led session of all: the Skeptics in the Pub forum.
For the past two years, our forum has given SitP organisers the chance to meet, swap tips, share challenges, offer solutions and wallow in each others' frustrations (although thankfully very little of the latter). If you have a particularly thorny problem and you want it solved, who better to ask than our roomful of enthusiastic SitP-ers? If you've unearthed a fantastic speaker and you want to tell the world, who better to tell than the rest of the SitP organisers? Or perhaps you're looking to set up a SitP of your own - if so, here's the perfect room to find yourself in.
For 2013, the forum will be ably handled by Sid Rodrigues (SitP London), Tannice Pendegrass (SitP Guildford) and Michael Marshall (SitP Liverpool). So, if you're part of a Skeptics in the Pub group - or even if you're not - come along to our forum and let us know what you think!
The QED Team (and Andy in particular) are delighted to announce the return of InKredulous LIVE at QED 2013.
We will recruit some esteemed QED guests to the panel and bombard them with ridiculous questions about ridiculous topics for the entertainment of any QED goers who show up. In the last two years there has been standing room only, a marriage proposal, Joe Nickell accused of being wrong when he was right, Paul Zenon dancing around the law suit fire and Jon Ronson revealing that the best way to filter guests for a Jerry Springer type show is to check their medications!
Who knows what this year will bring. InKredulous will once again be recorded with a live audience in one of the many excellent break out sessions.
Skeptics have enthusiastically embraced social media in all of its forms, whether it be blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, podcasting, redditing or adopting whatever new media lies just around the corner. No longer is there a need for printing and distributing of an idea, everyone can publish their point of view to the wider world with the click of a mouse and an internet connection. Some of those views are contentious, some libellous, and in a few notable cases, even criminal.
Where does the law draw the line? Where for example does trolling overstep the mark and become criminal? What implications are there for freedom of expression given the plethora of recent prosecutions for offensive tweeting and perhaps more pertinently for skeptics, tweeting a harmless, if not very funny, joke? In the light of the Paul Chambers cases how do the police and the CPS now approach complaints of online behaviour? What activity is likely to result in a 6am knock at the door from a constable? Does the law have the balance right or is freedom of expression being gradually eroded?
All these questions and more will be discussed by our panel, Australian blogger and now Scottish Lawyer, Helen Dale; Nazir Afzal, the North West Chief Crown Prosecutor; science writer Simon Singh; and the moderator, QED's Geoff Whelan, a criminal barrister with experience of both prosecuting and defending offences committed over social media.
Paula Kirby of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is joined by Ophelia Benson, D.J. Grothe and Maryam Namazie for a panel discussion on God and religion at QED 2012.
Theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili talks about time and time travel at the first QED in 2011.
More from the QED archives! Simon Perry of Leicester Skeptics in the Pub and Michael Marshall of the the Merseyside Skeptics Society talk about their experiences running a Skeptics in the Pub.
We are delighted to reveal our final main stage speaker for QED this year is Helen Czerski.
Helen is a physicist and oceanographer where her current research at the University of Southampton is looking into the influence of ocean bubbles on the atmosphere.
At QED we couldn’t make our event work without the excellent help of our volunteers who have for two years guaranteed the conference has run smoothly and assisted all those who attended.
We are now putting the final touches to this year’s event and would like to put the call out to all our attendees and ask that anyone who would like to volunteer gets in touch.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and make new friends whether you are already coming with someone you know or by yourself. We only ever ask for a couple of hours of your time over the course of the weekend so there is no chance you would miss out on the event or your favourite speaker!
So if you are already coming to QED in April and think you can spare some of your time to help out we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
Whether you are thinking of volunteering or not we are looking forward to seeing all of you in April - not long to go now!
D.J. Grothe of the James Randi Educational Foundation talks about how to be a “rad” skeptic, at QED 2012. Or does he?
For those who attended last year’s event, we're sure you’ll agree the Ockham Awards were a resounding success. Presented by Richard Wiseman (whose performance was such that he is now surely on the shortlist to present the Oscars) the awards recognized the best in UK and International skepticism. Last year’s winners included The Pod Delusion, Tim Minchin, Robin Ince and more.
This year’s ceremony promises to be even bigger (or being properly skeptical, roughly the same size and at least equally entertaining). Nominations are now open for the Ockhams in the following categories: Best Skeptical/Science Video, Best Blog, Best Event/Campaign and Best Podcast. The field of worthy nominees is wide open and competition is bound to be even greater this year. Pop on over to our friends at The Skeptic and lodge your nominations, but be quick as they close on February 14th!
Here at QED, we're happy to have supported some excellent charities in the few years we've been around, with every penny above costs to date having gone straight to charity.
After a successful first two years, we were able to donate more than £5,600 each to Sense About Science and the National Autistic Society. This year, we'll be donating to the Good Thinking Society - a relatively new charity which aims to help kick-start skeptical activism.
In 2013, the group will be offering five small grants of around £1,000 each, to allow grassroots skeptical and science groups to make their projects and ideas come to life.
More from the archive - Janis Callister (née Bennion) is joined by Eugenie Scott, David Kirby, Síle Lane and Kylie Sturgess to discuss outreach within skepticism.
From the QED archives, Dr Steven Novella, Director of General Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine, talks about Why Your Brain Sucks at the first QED in 2011.
QED is excited to announce that once again, The Pod Delusion will be recording a special episode directly from QED.
This is the third year in a row that James O’Malley, Liz Lutgendorff and their rag tag crew of citizen reporters will shine their enquiring lights into an assortment of topics, some of which you will not have known you were even interested in.
As you all know QED in 2013 has now sold out and we are extremely grateful to everyone who has bought a ticket.
We now have a bulging waiting list of people who would still love to attend and it’s growing by the day! To help get as many people to QED who want to come as possible, if you are no longer able to attend next year’s event, please let us know so we can re-allocate your ticket.
QED are delighted to announce our the next addition to our line up - Carrie Poppy.
Carrie is co-host of the ‘Oh No, Ross and Carrie’ podcast with Ross Blocher. In each episode they not only report on fringe science, paranormal and the all-together weird, but experience first hand the claims or beliefs of those they investigate. In past shows they have gone undercover to become Mormons, tried and tested alternative therapies such as acupuncture and cupping, and met a team of teenage exorcists!
We have had an amazing response to QED 2013 and are delighted to announce we have now sold out! Thank you to everyone who has bought a ticket, and sorry if you have missed out this time round.
We can't wait to host what promises to be an exciting event and look forward to seeing you all in April.
If you want to be considered in the event of a cancellation, please email email@example.com. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that any places will become available.
We've been telling you constantly that if you want to come to QED 2013 you'll have to act fast.
Well things are moving even faster than predicted. After a rush of sales it transpires there are literally ONLY 30 TICKETS LEFT for QED 2013.
As we have already announced, QED are offering crèche facilities at next year's event. In order for us to arrange the appropriate child care with our providers, we will need to have all childcare places booked by the 31st December 2012.
If you are planning on coming to QED and use the crèche facilities but haven't already contacted us to arrange a crèche place, please contact us before 31st December. Unfortunately we won't be able to accept requests after this date.
The crèche costs £99 per child which provides child care between 8am - 5pm on the Saturday and Sunday during the event. We can accommodate children up to the age of 12 and children with special needs/disabilities
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your child's place now!
The QED team would like to thank Hayley Stevens for her efforts once again in raising money to 'get people to QED' in 2013.
As Hayley said in her guest post, this personal project was borne out of trying to get one of her friends to QED in 2012 - but was overwhelmed by the generosity of the skeptic community in continuing to donate money.
The QED team is excited to announce a further two speakers to our line up in April.
A guest post by Hayley Stevens
In March 2012 the "Get People to QEDcon Fund" got seven people to the conference who would not had been able to attend otherwise. The fund was created when a friend of mine who is a huge fan of Joe Nickell couldn't afford a ticket to QED in March. Missing what would be a once in a life time opportunity to meet his idol simply wasn't good enough, so I shamelessly took to my blog and begged people to donate money to get my friend to the conference. What happened next took me very much by surprise because within hours I'd had enough money donated to get two people to QED, and more money was still being sent. My friend, whose ticket I had begged for in the first place, suggested I 'pay the kindness forward to help other people' and that's exactly what happened.
We're pleased to announce that as of 10:23am this morning, QED tickets are available to purchase. For 2013, weekend tickets cost just £99, with a new, lower, concession rate of £59 for full-time students (with any recognised student ID).
Flying over from the US to take to the mic as our MC for 2013 will be comedy podcaster and JREF field coordinator Brian Thompson. Brian will be residing over an extensive, exciting and all-round excellent line-up of speakers, including:
The QED team is delighted to announce that QED tickets will be available at qedcon.org/tickets from, yes you guessed it, 10:23am on Thursday 20th September 2012.
If the attendees, speakers and volunteers of QED 2012 haven't been adequately thanked already, the QED organisers would like to take the opportunity to do so again. It is only down to the attendance and enthusiasm of all involved that events like this can take place.
It has always been the aim of the QED organisers to create a skeptical conference which is affordable and outside of London (which while awesome, seems to get all the fun). And it is heartening that there is a demand for a conference like QED and this year the attendance exceeded the first event's at over 400.