Latest News + Announcements / QED 2018/news The latest news, updates and announcements about the QED science and skepticism conference, 13th-14th October 2018. Sat, 06 Oct 2018 10:00:00 +0100 en hourly 1 Schedule released, Book Shambles update, and a bonus speaker!/news/2018/schedule-released-book-shambles-update-and-a-bonus-speaker Mon, 08 Oct 2018 10:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=schedule-released-book-shambles-update-and-a-bonus-speaker The full QED schedule is now available, for you to start planning your weekend!

Unfortunately, Wally Funk will no longer be able to join us for the Book Shambles podcast, which will go ahead with her co-author Sue Nelson. Wally will be replaced by broadcaster Dallas Campbell. But we are pleased to add one further main-stage speaker to the QED line-up, on top of those already announced: Deborah Hyde, on the history of Poltergeists.

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The full QED schedule is now available, for you to start planning your weekend!

Also, we regret to announce that Wally Funk will no longer be able to join us for the Book Shambles podcast. Unfortunately, Wally has been advised against transatlantic flight by her doctor, but the Book Shambles interview will go ahead, with her co-author Sue Nelson joined by broadcaster Dallas Campbell.

Also, we are pleased to be able to add one further main-stage speaker to the QED line-up, on top of those already announced:

When the Spirit Moves You: a History of Poltergeists

Deborah Hyde, editor of the UK's Skeptic magazine, has an unfortunate fixation on the malign macabre. As a consequence, she knows more about vampires, werewolves and exorcisms than any well-adjusted person.

For QED 2018 Deborah is revealing the quirky and troublesome “life” of the poltergeist. Not content with mere visual manifestation, poltergeists are presences which interact with their environments. Making noises, hurling objects and causing levitation is sometimes just the start.

Deborah will go over the history of this potent supernatural phenomenon and discuss the theories behind it illustrated with her signature blend of research and anecdotes.

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Truth Hertz/news/2018/truth-hertz Sat, 06 Oct 2018 10:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=truth-hertz In our Truth Hertz panel, we'll reflect some of the wisdom of science on the mystics of music, the audiophiles and the numerologists who would otherwise run amok.

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Sound is usually invisible, and in common with some other invisible things tends to attract superstitions and folk-wisdom. Science and art fuse in music, where technology has long inspired musicians, and musicians and music lovers have in turn driven new advances in technology, while mathematics is closely related to musical composition and theory.

So let’s take a moment to reflect some of the wisdom of science on the mystics of music, the audiophiles and the numerologists who would otherwise run amok.

Our host Rick Owen is joined by panel of experts to engage in a harmonious discussion and drown out the discord:

Professor Sophie Scott is a neuroscientist and head of the Speech Communication Group at University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Her work has focused on the cognitive neuroscience of language and laughter. In 2017, Sophie gave the prestigious Royal Institution’s Christmas Lecture series, on the science of communication and laughter.

Dr Milton Mermikides is Senior Lecturer of Music at the University of Surrey, Professor of Jazz Guitar at the Royal College of Music. Milton is a composer, guitarist and educator who lectures internationally at a variety of music and science institutions. He has been featured in the Times Higher Education and on BBC Radio 4, and has won awards for writing, teaching, research and charity work.

Anne-Marie Cundy is took up the violin at age 6 and studied at Junior Trinity where she won the performance prize and went on to earn a BMus and LRAM at the Royal Academy of Music. She has performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, RTE Radio and Concert Prchestra and Guildford Philharmonic, gigs with Muse, Lightning Seeds, Madness, Bette Midler, and more.

Carmen D'Cruz has been the part of the London Skeptics in the Pub team since 2009 and has worked with critical thinking groups around the world to promote the rational application of evidence in as many areas as possible. Outside of work & skepticism she also dabbles in stand up comedy and music.

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Announcing... God Awful Movies/news/2018/announcing-god-awful-movies Fri, 05 Oct 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-god-awful-movies If there were really a god, would he inspire such god awful cinema? Join Noah Lugheons, Heath Enwright and Eli Bosnick as they tackle the 2001 moon landing denial masterpiece A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon.

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If there were really a god, would he inspire such god awful cinema? Join Noah Lugeons, Heath Enwright and Eli Bosnick as they tackle a ‘classic’ of pseudoscientific movie-making.

The trio, who also produce The Scathing Atheist and The Skepticrat, have tackled some of the very worst offerings from Christian cinema, and this time around they'll be looking at the moon landing denial masterpiece A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon.

The film's creator, Bart Sibrel, was most famously the recipient of a right hook from astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Join Noah, Heath and Eli to find out whether Bart's film also packs a punch.

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Announcing... Serious Inquiries Only/news/2018/announcing-serious-inquiries-only Thu, 04 Oct 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-serious-inquiries-only On this special live recording of Serious Inquiries Only, Thomas will speak with prison and public law solicitor Emma McClure about her experiences dealing with the justice system, the ethics of incarceration, and the extent to which compassion and empathy play a role when dealing with people who have committed even abhorrent crimes.

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Serious Inquiries Only is a podcast about science, philosophy, politics, atheism and skepticism, hosted by Thomas Smith.

On this special live recording, Thomas will speak with prison and public law solicitor and past QED speaker Emma McClure about her experiences dealing with the justice system, the ethics of incarceration, and the extent to which compassion and empathy play a role when dealing with people who have committed even abhorrent crimes. They'll also explore the role of religion in how society treats offenders and how atheism might inspire seeing criminal justice through a different lens.

Thomas Smith began podcasting in 2010 with a quest to read the entire Bible while providing critical commentary and humour along the way. That project soon led to many others, including Opening Arguments, a legal podcast that takes complex legal issues in the news and breaks them down in an accessible and entertaining way, and Philosophers in Space, which uncovers and explains the philosophy behind your favourite works of sci-fi.

Emma McClure is a solicitor specialising in prison and public law whose work sees her regularly representing prisoners during parole hearings and bringing judicial reviews against public bodies. She has given talks around the country on the way in which over-confidence in the veracity of forensic science can lead to miscarriages of justice and has gone undercover to investigate psychics, faith healers and Mind Body Spirit fairs.

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Game Over: Video Games as the New Moral Panic/news/2018/game-over-video-games-as-the-new-moral-panic Wed, 03 Oct 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=game-over-video-games-as-the-new-moral-panic Twenty years after Columbine, ‘violent video games’ are still a hot-button topic. Despite studies failing to show any clear link between gaming and violence, the moral panic continues. Joining host Lana Donaghy to ask "Won’t anyone think of the children?!" will be Elle Osili-Wood, Ash Webster, and Dr Steve Novella.

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Since the 1980s, video games have moved from bedrooms and arcades, into mainstream culture. But as gaming has risen, so it has become a convenient source of blame for all manner of societal ills.

Twenty years after Columbine, ‘violent video games’ are still a hot-button topic, despite studies failing to show any clear link between gaming and violence. And yet, the moral panic continues.

With advances in immersive new technologies like Virtual Reality, can video games do us real harm? And won’t anyone think of the children?! Our panel will be:

  • Elle Osili-Wood is a video gaming and culture presenter, with over a decade of experience in journalism. Having started her career as a political reporter for the BBC, she quickly gravitated toward her life long passion for video games, appearing on air to cover gaming for outlets including BBC Breakfast, Channel 4's Gadget Man, Sky News and The Guardian.

  • Ash Webster is a games designer with over a decade of industry experience. Previously working at studios like Travellers Tales and Sony Interactive Entertainment: today he is Game Designer at SimBin Studios UK, currently working on a revival of the popular GTR series.

  • Dr Steve Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, and the primary host and the producer of the ‘Skepticsʼs Guide to the Universe’ podcast. He authors the NeuroLogica blog, is senior editor of the group health blog, Science Based Medicine.

  • Lana Donaghy is a former games developer and professional video gamer: spending years questing through Azeroth, competing with some of the world’s top World of Warcraft players. These days Lana works in software development and is still a devoted gamer who loves esports.

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Socialising with Slack/news/2018/socialising-with-slack Tue, 02 Oct 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=socialising-with-slack QED has its own Slack team, to offer another way of chatting to fellow QED attendees, making plans and sharing your thoughts about the event.

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For the past two years, QED has had its own Slack team, to offer another way of chatting to fellow QED attendees, making plans and sharing your thoughts about the event.

Slack is a real-time messaging and team collaboration tool, launched in 2013. Though initially designed to allow teams within a company to collaborate, it has proven increasingly popular with conferences as a way for attendees to communicate, socialise, and self-organise by related interests.

Slack is free to join (and optional, of course), and since its introduction it’s helped improve the QED experience for those using it. You can sign up for our Slack team by requesting an invitation at qedcon.herokuapp.com.

Once you’ve signed up through your browser, you can download Slack for iOS and Android through their respective App Stores, or you can just use your web browser by visiting qedcon.slack.com.

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Getting Started with Stargazing/news/2018/getting-started-with-stargazing Mon, 01 Oct 2018 11:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=getting-started-with-stargazing Anthony Holloway looks at how you can get started in stargazing, what you can do with the naked eye or binoculars and what the options are for moving on to using telescopes and the new objects you can observe.

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In this workshop, Anthony Holloway from Jodrell Bank will look at how you can get started in stargazing, what you can do with the naked eye or binoculars and what the options are for moving on to using telescopes and the new objects you can observe.

We'll show some of the results and techniques for capturing the skies with astrophotography. Finally we'll look at what you can do from your armchair on cloudy nights, with remote observing using 'rental telescopes' and getting involved in astronomical citizen science projects.

Anthony Holloway started out as an amateur astronomer and went on to use some of the largest telescopes around the world as part of his work towards a PhD in astrophysics. He is now the Head of Computing for the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and maintain interests in practical astronomy and astrophotography.

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Announcing... InKredulous/news/2018/announcing-inkredulous Sat, 29 Sep 2018 11:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-inkredulous Episodes of the InKredulous podcast are as rare as hen’s teeth so don’t miss your opportunity to laugh along with our panel at some of your favourite/least favourite topics

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InKredulous takes to the stage in a live version of this satirical, skeptically themed podcast.

Join QED Co-organiser Andy Wilson and his guests in a comedy panel show designed for the curious.

The panellists will find the funny in recent news stories, castigate the perpetrators of pseudo science and marvel at how they get away with it.

InKredulous episodes are as rare as hen’s teeth so don’t miss your opportunity to laugh along with our panel at some of your favourite/least favourite topics

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Reuse or Refuse: the Facts on Single-Use Plastics/news/2018/reuse-or-refuse-the-facts-on-single-use-plastics Fri, 28 Sep 2018 11:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=reuse-or-refuse-the-facts-on-single-use-plastics What are the risks posed by plastic waste in our oceans? Are single-use plastic straws merely a convenient media scapegoat, or will eliminating them really help? What practical steps can people take to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce? Joining Nicola Throp to discuss these issues at QED will be Dr Sarah Clement, Dr Helen Czerski and Dr Matt Winning.

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Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, with an estimated 50% being used once and thrown away. Eight million tons of waste plastic ends up in our oceans each year, where it breaks down into ever-smaller pieces before being ingested by wildlife. And that’s to say nothing of the millions of tons of plastic waste going into landfill, which will take hundreds of years to degrade.

What are the risks posed by plastic waste in our oceans? Are single-use plastic straws merely a convenient media scapegoat, or will eliminating them really help? What practical steps can people take to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce? Our panel to discuss these issues at QED will be:

  • Dr Sarah Clement is an Environmental Scientist whose research focuses on the role of policy and decision making to solve environmental problems. She lectures in Environmental Management at the University of Liverpool. She has worked as an environmental consultant, researcher, and environmental policy advisor for sixteen years in the UK, USA, and Australia. She is also a director of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and recently appeared on the Skeptics with a K podcast.

  • Dr Helen Czerski is a physicist and oceanographer who has worked on several projects for TV and radio, including the documentary Operation Iceberg and Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club. She is a accomplished science communicator, and also serves as Honorary President of Winchester Skeptics.

  • Dr Matt Winning is both an environmental economist, in the Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College London, and a stand-up comedian. His research focuses on topics such as climate change, energy transitions and the circular economy, and his 2018 Edinburgh Fringe show, the “funny yet educational” Climate Strange, was critically acclaimed.

  • Nicola Throp is co-organiser of QED and has worked in the energy industry as an energy analyst for almost a decade, helping businesses understand carbon reporting mechanisms, manage Climate Change Agreements and implement energy consumption reduction measures.

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Announcing... The European Skeptics Podcast/news/2018/announcing-the-european-skeptics-podcast Thu, 27 Sep 2018 20:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-the-european-skeptics-podcast The European Skeptics Podcast, a weekly podcast hosted by members from several European skeptic organisations, will be doing a live show in the podcast room at QED.

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The European Skeptics Podcast (The ESP) is a weekly podcast hosted by members from several European skeptic organisations: András Gábor Pintér from Hungary, Jelena Levin from Latvia and Pontus Böckman from Sweden.

The podcast, which aims to support European-level actions within the skeptical movement, started following the Board meeting of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations during the 16th European Skeptics Congress in London in September 2015. At QED, Claire Klingenberg from the Czech Republic and Brian Eggo from Scotland will join the team for their live recording. The ESP take a wide view of scepticism and the continent wide perspective is always interesting in an engaging and informative format.

András Pintér is the vice president of the Hungarian Skeptic Society. He received the James Randi Skeptic Award for an essay he wrote for the journal Természet Világa in 1999, and has been a guest on TV and radio shows in Hungary. András has been part of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia since 2014 and in his talks he focuses on the falsehoods and misinformation circulating in the tourism industry.

Pontus Böckman discovered skepticism in 2010 and soon thereafter became deeply involved in local activism, such as organising Skeptics in the Pub and giving lectures on skepticism in local schools. In 2013 he co-founded and became president of the local south branch of the national Swedish Skeptics Society (“Vetenskap och Folkbildning” or VoF). In 2014 he was also elected to the national board of VoF where he currently acts as President.

Claire Klingenberg is the president of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations. She has been involved in the skeptic movement since 2013 as co-organiser of the Czech Paranormal Challenge. Since then, she has consulted on various projects, where woo & belief meets science. Claire has spoken at multiple science&skepticism conferences and events worldwide. She also organised the European Skeptics Congress 2017, and both years of the Czech March for Science.

Brian Eggo is the benevolent dictator of Glasgow Skeptics. He took over the reins in 2015, and shortly after made the naive decision to try and fill every single Monday night with some Science & Skepticism. They now host approximately forty talks a year, plus visits to other groups' talks, field trips to 'alternative' events, and other fun activities.

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Evidence-Based Mental Wellbeing/news/2018/evidence-based-mental-wellbeing Wed, 26 Sep 2018 18:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=evidence-based-mental-wellbeing According to MIND, the mental health charity, each year an estimated one in four people will suffer from some kind of mental health issue. With public awareness of mental health issues seemingly growing, there are plenty of treatment options available – but how many of them are backed by evidence, and how can we know what is effective? Discussing mental health at QED will be Robin Ince, Ariane Sherine, Navneet Kapur, and Thomas Smith

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According to MIND, the mental health charity, each year an estimated one in four people will suffer from some kind of mental health issue, including relatively-common conditions such as depression and anxiety. Yet, despite such prevalence in the general public, sufferers continue to face social stigma while the often-invisible nature of their condition can lead people to feel they have to manage their wellbeing alone. With public awareness of mental health issues seemingly growing, there are plenty of treatment options available – but how many of them are backed by evidence, and how can we know what is effective? And when things are more serious, how does one manage the instinct to cause oneself harm?

Our panel to discuss mental health experiences and what constitutes effective treatment will be:

  • Robin Ince is a multi-award winning comedian, writer and broadcaster. One of the UK’s most respected stand-ups, Robin is also co-host of the Rose D’Or winning Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox and Book Shambles with Josie Long. His new book I’m a Joke and So Are You uses the life of the stand-up and reflections on his own mental health as a way of exploring some of the biggest questions we all face, including: Where does anxiety come from?

  • Ariane Sherine is a comedy writer and journalist. Her work has appeared in, among others, the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Independent, and she has worked as a scriptwriter for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. Her latest book Talk Yourself Better looks at the benefits of talk therapy in improving mental health and dealing with psychological or emotional problems.

  • Navneet Kapur trained in medicine and psychiatry in Leeds and these days spends his time as professor of psychiatry and population health at the University of Manchester. He carries out research into the causes and prevention of suicidal behaviour and has done quite a bit of work with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) developing guidelines to help clinicians better manage mental illness.

  • Thomas Smith is the host of a number of podcasts, including Serious Inquiries Only - a show about science, philosophy, politics and scepticism – and Philosophers in Space, which uncovers and explains the philosophy behind your favourite works of sci-fi.


Attendees should note that this panel is likely to include talk of issues regarding suicide.

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Video: Tim O'Brien—The Invisible Universe/news/2018/video-tim-obrien-the-invisible-universe Mon, 24 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=video-tim-obrien-the-invisible-universe From the archive! Physicist Tim O’Brien tells the story of how technology has allowed us to extend our senses to see beyond the visible and reveal a universe stranger than we ever imagined at QED 2017.

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Physicist Tim O’Brien tells the story of how technology has allowed us to extend our senses to see beyond the visible and reveal a universe stranger than we ever imagined. Tim is a Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. He is also President of the Society for Popular Astronomy, and appears regularly on Stargazing Live.

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Join us for the QED Fringe/news/2018/join-us-for-the-qed-fringe Sat, 22 Sep 2018 12:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=join-us-for-the-qed-fringe It’s three weeks until QED, and we hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are! While the official QED programme starts at 9am on Saturday 13th October, over the years a fun and varied series of fringe events have grown up around the QED weekend, which this year offers a little something for everyone.

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It’s three weeks until QED, and we hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are! If you’ve been keeping an eye on our website, you’ll have seen new additions to the line up appearing over the last few weeks, including: - Main stage talks from Pixie Turner, Michael Marshall, Heather Ellis, and Claire Benson - Panel sessions on Mormonism, Social Media, Podcasting, and a look at the Skepticism under the Microscope - A workshop for Skeptics in the Pub groups, a comedy show about medieval sieges, and a discussion between Robin Ince and aviation pioneer Wally Funk

And we still have lots more to announce!

The QED Fringe

While the official QED programme starts at 9am on Saturday 13th October, over the years a fun and varied series of fringe events have grown up around the QED weekend, which this year offers a little something for everyone:

Thursday 11th October

  • A Skeptical Extravaganze of Special Significance The Skeptics Guide to the Universe are hosting their own live evening show, A Skeptical Extravaganza of Special Significance, hosted by George Hrab. The event is co-organised by the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society, and it will take place at The Stoller Hall in Manchester from 7pm to 9pm. Tickets for their show can be bought from the SGU via their Eventbrite page.
  • Elsewhere, the Greater Manchester Humanists are hosting an evening with American atheist and YouTuber Aron Ra. The event will take place at the University of Manchester from 7pm to 9pm, and is free to attend, though registering attendance is preferred – you can do so via their Eventbrite page.
  • Rounding out a fun-packed Thursday evening is the QED Fringe Gathering and Social, organised by the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society. The event will take place at Kro Bar on Oxford Road, is free to attend, and officially starts at 9pm… though we imagine a few skeptics may be gathering there even earlier to hang out and chat. Details are available on the Facebook event page.

Friday 12th October

  • Starting at 1pm will be the fifth annual Skepticamp, the free event that sees volunteer speakers giving fifteen minute presentations on the subject of their choice. The event takes place in the QED venue, and is free for anyone to attend, whether they're coming to QED or not.
  • From 6pm will be the annual QED pub quiz – graciously and expertly hosted once again by the lovely folk at Cosmic Shambles. Themed this year as “Space Shambles”, the quiz will cover everything from moon landings and nonsense conspiracy theories to science fiction and space stations. There are still a handful of spaces left for the quiz, so you can still register a team and take part.
  • Starting in the bar of the QED venue at 7pm will be the QED Mixer – our ever-popular social session where people can meet, chat and get to know their fellow QED attendees.

Saturday 13th October

  • For those not attending the charity dinner, Oxford Skeptics in the Pub have once again arranged the Rebel Dinner. This year, the Rebel Dinner will be at TOPS Restaurant for their all-you-can-eat buffet, which will cost is £16.99 pp plus drinks and tips. There'll be a sign-up sheet available during Saturday for people to sign-up, and they’ve very charitably decided to organise a whip-round on the night, with proceeds going to the Good Thinking Society.

Keep an eye on the QED website for further schedule announcements, and we’ll see you in a few weeks!

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My Brother is a Mormon!/news/2018/my-brother-is-a-mormon Thu, 20 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=my-brother-is-a-mormon When QED organiser Andy Wilson was a young teenager, his brother converted to Mormonism, a world Andy realised he knew very little about. In this panel we’ll explore The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a historical perspective as well as how it stands up to modern societal values. Featuring Cara Santa Maria, Bryce Blankenagel, Greg Rattey, and chair Andy Wilson.

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When QED organiser Andy Wilson was a young teenager, his brother converted to Mormonism - a world Andy realised he knew very little about. Despite being a religion with nearly 200,000 followers in the UK, relatively few people in this country really know much about the beliefs and practices of Mormonism, or the incredible origin story of the religion.

In this panel we’ll explore The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a historical perspective as well as how it stands up to modern societal values. We’ll look at their record and hear from former members to get their unique perspectives.

Exploring the church from the perspective of former members, as well as a family member affected by his brother’s conversion, promises a lively conversation about a little-understood religion which has its fair share of skeletons in the cupboard.

Joining Andy to arm you for your next encounter with a missionary on the street or the doorstep will be:

  • Cara Santa Maria - Skeptics Guide to the Universe co-host Cara was raised Mormon but, confused by certain aspects and unmotivated by others, as a fifteen year old she eventually realised she was atheist, told her parents and began investigating the world through fresh, scientific, eyes.
  • Greg Rattey – Greg is an LGBTQ activist who converted to Mormonism when he was nineteen. Thirteen years later, when he told the church he thought he was gay, the advice was as cruel as it was astonishing. Needless to say he is no longer Mormon and is now assists people in getting out of Mormonism.
  • Bryce Blankenagel - Bryce is the host of the Naked Mormonism podcast. An American ex-Mormon he now identifies as atheist and is an encyclopaedia of Mormon history. In his podcast Bryce casts an evidential eye on the claims of the church and what it is to be Mormon.
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Skeptics in the Pub Workshop: Social Media, Outreach, and Activism/news/2018/skeptics-in-the-pub-workshop-social-media-outreach-and-activism Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=skeptics-in-the-pub-workshop-social-media-outreach-and-activism In this year‘s Skeptics in the Pub Workshop we aim to score a glorious hat-trick of Skeptics in the Pub fundamentals. The spirit, as always, will be one of interaction and participation as the facilitators will be relying on you to put some flesh on the bones of information that they‘re laying out for you. Come along, share your expertise, get involved!

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In this year‘s workshop we aim to score a glorious hat-trick of Skeptics in the Pub fundamentals. The spirit, as always, will be one of interaction and participation as the facilitators will be relying on you to put some flesh on the bones of information that they‘re laying out for you. Come along, share your expertise, get involved!

Social Media

Glasgow Skeptics’ Brian Eggo will take a look at promoting events in the big three (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), but will also explore some other avenues for spreading the word about your talks. Also included, a bold attempt to demystify Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups. Risky!

Outreach

With a relatively limited audience at talks and online, it‘s vital to spread the word of skepticism to the wider public whenever the opportunity arises. Edinburgh Skeptics’ Sean Slater will give an overview of how to run an effective stall at a public event. You'll even get a chance to play with some of the props that we use on such occasions.

Activism

There are times when hosting events and public outreach just aren't enough and action needs to be taken. It‘s surprising what can be done by one person with just a little time, and scaling up your actions can bring even greater rewards. London Skeptics in the Pub’s Carmen D’Cruz will take a journey through your options from small and local to large and international.


We would also like to encourage SITP Organisers at QED to make it known that they are involved in running a group. It would be nice for us to be able to identify each other, and other attendees at the conference may want to ask you about your group, get involved, or ask for help. To help out with this, come and see Carmen, Sean or Brian to get an ’SITP Organiser‘ sticker to put on your conference badge.

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Skepticism Under the Microscope/news/2018/skepticism-under-the-microscope Tue, 18 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=skepticism-under-the-microscope As the pseudoscience landscape continues to change, is the current skeptical movement fit for purpose? What are we doing right, and what are we doing wrong? What challenges do skeptics around the world face, and what can we learn from each other?

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As the world of pseudoscience has continually evolved, skepticism has had to adapt to keep pace. Where skepticism was once defined by lone figureheads charismatically debunking the claims of paranormal superstars, as pseudomedical claims rose to greater prominence, the skeptical world shifted its focus to alternative medicine and its harms. Lone skeptical activists were augmented by a global ecosystem of bloggers, podcasters, and amateur investigators, seeking to correct misinformation.

As the pseudoscience landscape continues to change, our panel asks: is the current skeptical movement – if it even is one single movement – fit for purpose? As we look to tackle the pseudoscience of our day, what are we doing right, and what are we doing wrong? What challenges do skeptics around the world face, and what can we learn from each other?

Representing the UK, mainland Europe, the US, and Canada, our panel exploring the state of skepticism around the world today is:

  • Jonathan Jarry – Jonathan is a science communicator with the McGill Office for Science and Society, in Montreal, Canada. He is the creator of the YouTube show Cracked Science, and with cardiologist Dr Christopher Labos he co-hosts the award-winning medical podcast The Body of Evidence.
  • Claire Klingenberg – Claire is the President of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations – a pan-European collaboration between skeptical organisations in more than fifteen countries. Claire was one of the lead organisers of the 2017 European Skeptics Congress in Poland, has put paranormal claims to the test as part of the Czech Skeptics’ Sisyfos prize.
  • Thomas Smith – Thomas is a prolific American podcaster, hosting Serious Inquiries Only, Opening Arguments, and Philosophers in Space. In his shows, he has explored some of the issues facing the current skeptical movement in America.
  • Michael Marshall – Michael is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He has been involved in skeptical activism for almost a decade, and since 2014 has been a full-time skeptical investigator and campaigner.
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Video: David Gorski—Integrative Medicine, the Best of Both Worlds?/news/2018/video-david-gorski-integrative-medicine-the-best-of-both-worlds Mon, 17 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=video-david-gorski-integrative-medicine-the-best-of-both-worlds From the archives! David Gorski, surgical oncologist and managing editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine, talks about the re-branding of quackery and existing medical lifestyle interventions, such as diet and exercise, as ‘integrative medicine’ at QED 2017.

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Over the last 25 years, academic medical centres have been embracing ‘integrative medicine,’ sold as the best of both worlds. ‘Unconventional’ medicine is ‘integrated’ with science- based medicine, for the good of the patient. In reality, integrative medicine rebrands existing medical lifestyle interventions, such as diet and exercise, as ‘alternative’ while integrating quackery into medicine, thus mainstreaming it. How did this happen, and can anything be done?

David Gorksi is a surgical oncologist and managing editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine.

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#NoFilter: Scrutinising Social Media Skepticism/news/2018/nofilter-scrutinising-social-media-skepticism Fri, 14 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=nofilter-scrutinising-social-media-skepticism Social media has become one of the most influential communication tools of our age, capable of shaping opinion, swinging elections and sparking rebellions. While the ease of access to social media platforms provides an unprecedented opportunity for science communicators and skeptics to spread evidence-based information, it also poses a serious threat. Discussing this at QED will be Jonathan Jarry, Pixie Turner, Eli Bosnick, and Michael Marshall.

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Social media has become one of the most influential communication tools of our age, capable of shaping opinion, swinging elections and sparking rebellions. While the ease of access to social media platforms provides an unprecedented opportunity for science communicators and skeptics to spread evidence-based information, it also poses a serious threat.

Publishers like Natural News and David Avocado Wolfe spew pseudoscience to their millions of followers, while the posts that point out the flaws in their arguments get a fraction of the attention. Bogus claims can go viral long before critical thinking can vaccinate against the misinformation. Meanwhile, a highly-active community of YouTubers and Redditors is defining skepticism for themselves, with seemingly little overlap with offline scepticism – either in membership or ideology.

How can we push back effectively against promoters of bad ideas and flawed arguments – from both outside and inside the skeptical movement? Our panel to discuss the upsides and downsides of skepticism on social media will be:

  • Jonathan Jarry – Jonathan is a science communicator with the McGill Office for Science and Society. He has given talks on the use of social media in getting institutions to distance themselves from pseudoscience, and his recent video on miraculous cancer claims received more than 12 million views worldwide.

  • Pixie Turner – Pixie is an evidence-based nutritionist who uses her social media platform to dispel dietary myths to over 124,000 followers on Instagram, reaching an audience who may not often encounter sceptical information.

  • Eli Bosnick – Eli is a magician and co-host of the Scathing Atheist podcasts. Away from the microphone, he has focused on social media outreach, with experienced of the good and the bad side of social media – from having a pro-immigration Facebook status go viral, to conversing and debating with infamous internet trolls.

  • Michael Marshall – Michael is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and was one of the organisers of the 10:23 Campaign, which used social media to connect activists around homeopathy and to flag up homeopathy-related topics.

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Podcasting: Entertainment, Outreach or Activism?/news/2018/podcasting-entertainment-outreach-or-activism Thu, 13 Sep 2018 18:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=podcasting-entertainment-outreach-or-activism In the last decade, podcasting has gone truly mainstream. A recent study claimed that more Americans know what a podcast is than who know the identity of the vice-president. But are these shows activism, or just echo chambers doing nothing but reinforcing existing biases?

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In the last decade, podcasting has gone truly mainstream. A recent study claimed that more Americans know what a podcast is than who know the identity of the vice-president. The same study claims twenty-six percent of people listen to podcasts monthly.

These days, there are plenty of skeptical podcasts to choose from… but are these shows activism, or just echo chambers doing nothing but reinforcing existing biases? Are they a form of outreach, helping people who are looking for answers, or is it just entertainment for the commute to and from work? Joining QED co-organiser (and occasional host of InKredulous podcast) Andy Wilson to work out the overlaps in this Venn diagram will be three podcasters with international credentials:

  • Cara Santa Maria – With a career as a science communicator, her experience hosting Talk Nerdy, and as co-host of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Cara brings experience from both inside and outside of the sceptical sphere.
  • Noah Lugeons – Co-hosting Scathing Atheist, Skepticrat and God Awful Movies from an unashamedly atheist perspective Noah’s uncompromising podcast persona mixes sarcasm, humour and indignation to entertain and inform his audience.
  • Tom Curry – As one half of Cognitive Dissonance podcast Tom sets out to entertain his audience while exposing the contradictions, absurdity and in many cases immorality of the subjects he highlights.
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Video: Kavin Senapathy—Why GMO is a Social Justice Issue/news/2018/video-kavin-senapathy-why-gmo-is-a-social-justice-issue Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=video-kavin-senapathy-why-gmo-is-a-social-justice-issue From the archives! Kavin Senapathy, science journalist and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, explores how anti-GMO sentiment hinders social justice, at QED 2017.

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The scientific consensus on the safety of genetic engineering—the process best known as “GMO”—is clear. But some consumer rights advocates argue that shoppers have a “right to know” whether their foods are GMO. Does this right actually exist, and more importantly, how does anti-GMO sentiment hinder social justice?

Kavin Senapathy is a journalist and Director of international pro-science, pro-biotech movement March Against Myths, and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House.

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Announcing... Dr Claire Benson and Dr Heather Ellis/news/2018/announcing-dr-claire-benson-and-dr-heather-ellis Fri, 07 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-dr-claire-benson-and-dr-heather-ellis We are delighted to be able to announce the final two additions to the QED main stage: fire scientist Dr Claire Benson and historian Dr Heather Ellis.

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We are delighted to be able to announce the final two additions to the QED main stage: fire scientist Claire Benson and historian Heather Ellis.

Dr Claire Benson is a fire and explosion scientist with over ten years experience researching and lecturing as part of the Explosion and Fire Research Group at London South Bank University. She has a PhD in chemical engineering, specialising in high-pressure oxygen system safety. Her research areas include fire suppression, fire and arson investigation, including work for local authority building and planning control in relation to building fire safety. She has conducted research for the London Fire Brigade, Sellafield Ltd and the Ministry of Defence.

Dr Heather Ellis is a historian and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Sheffield. Her work has focused on the history of science and the history of ideas. Her books include Masculinity and Science in Britain, 1831-1918, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Pickstone Prize. Her current work explores the role of ancient natural philosophy and classical culture in the emergence of modern science in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century Britain. She contributes regularly to radio and television programmes on the history of science and education.

Claire and Heather complete the main stage line up for QED 2018, but we've still plenty more to announce, so stay tuned!

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Book Shambles Live: With Robin Ince, Wally Funk and Sue Nelson/news/2018/book-shambles-live-with-robin-ince-wally-funk-and-sue-nelson Wed, 05 Sep 2018 12:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=book-shambles-live-with-robin-ince-wally-funk-and-sue-nelson Join award-winning comedian and bibliophile Robin Ince for a live version of the acclaimed Book Shambles podcast. The very special guests for this episode will be pioneering aviator and member of the Mercury 13, Wally Funk, and writer and broadcaster Sue Nelson, author of the new book Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer.

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Join award-winning comedian and bibliophile Robin Ince for a live version of the acclaimed Book Shambles podcast. The very special guests for this episode will be pioneering aviator and member of the Mercury 13, Wally Funk, and writer and broadcaster Sue Nelson, author of the new book Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer.

The show uses books as a springboard into shambolic, often ludicrous and always passionate conversations into literature, science, philosophy, comedy, politics and, well, everything and anything. Expect high standards of both wisdom and nonsense.

Book Shambles Live will be taking place in the QED Podcast Room, and is free to attend for all QED ticket-holders.

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Video: James Ball—Bathing in Bullshit/news/2018/video-james-ball-bathing-in-bullshit Mon, 03 Sep 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=video-james-ball-bathing-in-bullshit From the archives! In this talk from QED 2017, journalist James Ball tries to dissect what’s gone wrong with our information ecosystem, who’s to blame for fake news and misinformation (spoiler: all of us), and what we can do to fight back.

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Almost everyone agrees we’ve got a problem with fake news, misinformation, pseudoscience and conspiracy theories—but we don’t agree on what qualifies as each, who’s behind it all, or what to do about it.

In this talk from QED 2017, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Ball tries to dissect what’s gone wrong with our information ecosystem, who’s to blame (spoiler: all of us), and what we can do to fight back.

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Announcing… Pixie Turner and Michael Marshall/news/2018/announcing-pixie-turner-and-michael-marshall Fri, 31 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-pixie-turner-and-michael-marshall With QED just six weeks away, we are pleased to announce two further speakers to add to the line-up: Pixie Turner, on her journey away from food and nutrition pseudoscience, and Michael Marshall on the rise of flat earth belief.

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With QED just six weeks away, we are pleased to announce two further speakers to add to the line-up: Pixie Turner, on her journey away from food and nutrition pseudoscience, and Michael Marshall on the rise of flat earth belief.

Pixie Turner is a nutritionist (ANutr), food blogger, and science communicator. She graduated with a First Class degree in Biochemistry, and went on to complete a Masters in Nutrition with Distinction. She is the brains behind the ‘Pixie Nutrition’ blog and social media accounts, which aim to infiltrate the wellness movement and debunk nutrition misinformation online. In addition, she has been featured as a nutrition expert on BBC and Channel 5. Her first book, The Wellness Rebel was published earlier this year, with her second book due for release in 2019.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. Since 2013 he has interviewed with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast, including leaders of the Flat Earth movement; earlier this year, he attended the UK’s first ever Flat Earth conference. At QED 2015 he launched Good Thinking’s campaign to end NHS homeopathy provision, a campaign which has led to the last CCG in England ending homeopathy funding this year.

We’ve still lots more to add to the full weekend schedule, so keep your eyes peeled for further announcements, and we’ll see you in October!

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A Practical Guide to Attacking Castles: a workshop with Paul Duncan McGarrity/news/2018/a-practical-guide-to-attacking-castles-a-workshop-with-paul-duncan-mcgarrity Thu, 30 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=a-practical-guide-to-attacking-castles-a-workshop-with-paul-duncan-mcgarrity Archeologist and stand-up comedian Paul Duncan McGarrity is returning to QED to offer his very own Practical Guide to Attacking Castles. Just in case, you know, you come across any castles that really need some attacking.

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Each year at QED we like to offer workshops that teach practical, usable skills to help the would-be science communicator and skeptical activist put their enthusiasm into practice. We've had introductions to Street Epistemology, primers on investigative journalism, and training sessions on basic magic skills, to name a few.

With that in mind, we're pleased to have archeologist and stand-up comedian Paul Duncan McGarrity returning to QED to offer his very own Practical Guide to Attacking Castles. Just in case, you know, you come across any castles that really need some attacking.

From the age of sieges and chivalry comes a comedy show about medieval love, adrenaline junkies and an insane quest for glory. Join Paul as he explains how modern life could be so much better if we all take a moment and learn how to attack a castle.

Paul Duncan McGarrity is an archaeologist and comedian who got his start in comedy as part of the improv troop ‘Deadman in a box’. Since 2009 he has been performing stand-up comedy, and now balances his work as a field archaeologist with gigs at some of the UK’s top comedy clubs and hosting the Ask an Archaeologist podcast.

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Video: Caroline Rance—Frauds and Fakers From Quackery’s Colourful History/news/2018/video-caroline-rance-frauds-and-fakers-from-quackerys-colourful-history Wed, 29 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=video-caroline-rance-frauds-and-fakers-from-quackerys-colourful-history From the archives! In this talk from QED 2017, author Caroline Rance examines the colourful history of quack medicine, how patent medicine vendors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries attracted customers, and how anti-quackery campaigners attempted to put a stop to their lucrative activities.

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They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and many of the tactics used to sell miracle cures in the past are remarkably similar to the promotion of today’s unproven remedies.

In this talk from QED 2017, author Caroline Rance examines colourful history of quack medicine, how patent medicine vendors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries attracted customers, and how anti-quackery campaigners attempted to put a stop to their lucrative activities.

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Space Shambles: The QED Quiz 2018 presented by The Cosmic Shambles Network/news/2018/space-shambles-the-qed-quiz-2018-presented-by-the-cosmic-shambles-network Fri, 24 Aug 2018 16:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=space-shambles-the-qed-quiz-2018-presented-by-the-cosmic-shambles-network The Cosmic Shambles Network team are back to host another edition of the hugely popular QED Friday night quiz. The theme for this year’s quiz is space. Everything from moon landings to nonsense conspiracy theories and science fiction to space stations will be on the agenda. It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD in astrophysics or half remember seeing an episode of Star Trek once, there’ll be something for everyone.

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The Cosmic Shambles Network team are back to host another edition of the hugely popular QED Friday night quiz. The theme for this year’s quiz is space. Everything from moon landings to nonsense conspiracy theories and science fiction to space stations will be on the agenda. It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD in astrophysics or half remember seeing an episode of Star Trek once, there’ll be something for everyone. As always expect a multimedia affair with lots of amazing prizes on offer, including some donated by actual astronauts...

Taking place at the QED venue on Friday 12th October, the Space Shambles QED Quiz is part of the free QED fringe, taking place immediately after Skepticamp. Anyone is free to attend, but numbers for the quiz are limited by space, so we’re asking everyone to register up-front to avoid disappointment.

There are spaces for eighteen teams of four, and teams will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register your team of four people (no more, no fewer!) using this online form.

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Workshop: An Introduction to Critical Reasoning/news/2018/workshop-an-introduction-to-critical-reasoning Thu, 23 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=workshop-an-introduction-to-critical-reasoning As part of our QED workshop programme, Marianne Talbot from the University of Oxford will be giving a workshop on an Introduction to Critical Reasoning. The workshop will be an interactive session designed to help attendees understand how to recognise, analyse and evaluate arguments.

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As part of our QED workshop programme, Marianne Talbot from the University of Oxford will be giving a workshop on an Introduction to Critical Reasoning. The workshop will be an interactive session designed to help attendees understand how to recognise, analyse and evaluate arguments.

Marianne Talbot has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford since 2001, having lectured at Oxford for thirty years. From 1996 to 2000 Marianne chaired the National Forum for Values in Education and the Community, leading work on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils in England and Wales. The Forum produced the statement of values that underpins the National Curriculum.

Marianne has had podcasts in the top ten download places of iTunesU for the last ten years. The Nature Of Argument has been downloaded over five million times, been number one many times, and once held all top ten download positions.

The workshop will be taking place twice over the QED weekend, as part of our regular schedule.

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Calling all volunteers/news/2018/calling-all-volunteers Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=calling-all-volunteers At QED we couldn’t make our event work without the excellent help of our volunteers who help us make sure the conference runs smoothly for all our speakers and attendees. With this year’s event just two months away, we’re putting out a call to all our attendees to ask that anyone who would like to volunteer gets in touch.

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At QED we couldn’t make our event work without the excellent help of our volunteers who help us make sure the conference runs smoothly for all our speakers and attendees. With this year’s event just two months away, we’re putting out a call to all our attendees to 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, and we do everything we can to make sure you don’t miss out on your favourite speaker!

If you are already coming to QED in October and think you can spare some of your time to help out we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch at volunteering@qedcon.org and we will be in touch.

Whether you are thinking of volunteering or not we are looking forward to seeing all of you soon!

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Further additions to the QED Fringe/news/2018/further-additions-to-the-qed-fringe Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=further-additions-to-the-qed-fringe As QED has grown over the years, so too has the QED Fringe—the series of events and get-togethers which take place before QED starts on Saturday morning. In previous years, we‘ve had quizzes, social events, and unofficial fringe events from our friends at the Greater Manchester Skeptics, and QED 2018 is going to be no exception.

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As QED has grown over the years, so too has the QED Fringe—the series of events and get-togethers which take place before QED starts on Saturday morning. We’ve already announced our day-long Skepticamp event, taking place on the Friday before QED and open to everyone, not just QED attendees. In previous years, we’ve also had quizzes, social events, and even unofficial fringe events taking place on the Thursday before QED (thanks to the lovely folk at the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society). With QED 2018 set to be our biggest event to date, this year is certainly no exception, with two more events added to the unofficial fringe.

  • A Skeptical Extravaganza: co-organised with the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society, this one-off event will be hosted by George Hrab on the Thursday before QED.
  • SGU Live Show: a small, intimate recording for around forty people, taking place in the QED hotel on Friday night.

Both events are being organised by the SGU, with tickets available directly from SGU Productions on Eventbrite. And, of course, all QED ticket-holders will be able to see the live recording of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe on the QED main stage as part of their regular QED entry.

There are still further QED fringe events to be added, plus a whole host of other official QED panels, podcasts, workshops and more, so we hope you’ll be as excited by what we have in store for you as we are!

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Announcing... the QED VR experience/news/2018/announcing-the-qed-vr-experience Thu, 09 Aug 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-the-qed-vr-experience Each year at QED, we like to give our attendees the opportunity to experience something different. In previous years, we’ve had a high-end Tesla available to test drive, and we’ve had a room filled with mind-bending visual illusions courtesy of Richard Wiseman. With that in mind, this year we’ll be giving attendees the opportunity to enjoy a Virtual Reality experience.

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Each year at QED, we like to give our attendees the opportunity to experience something different. In previous years, we’ve had a high-end Tesla available to test drive, and we’ve had a room filled with mind-bending visual illusions courtesy of Richard Wiseman. With that in mind, this year we’ll be giving attendees the opportunity to enjoy a Virtual Reality experience, in partnership with VR Here.

QED attendees will be able to take part in a free fifteen-minute taster session, using state-of-the-art virtual reality hardware, allowing you to fly through the skies of a virtual city, save the world, or just scare yourself out of your wits... all without leaving the confines of the hotel.

The QED VR Experience will be totally free to QED attendees, but limited to one session per person, and will be available on Friday evening, and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

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Announcing... J Willgoose Esq./news/2018/announcing-j-willgoose-esq Fri, 03 Aug 2018 15:45:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-j-willgoose-esq We are delighted to be able to announce the latest exciting addition to the QED main stage line-up for 2018: J WiIlgoose Esq, the creative talent behind the band Public Service Broadcasting.

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We are delighted to be able to announce the latest exciting addition to the QED main stage line-up for 2018: J WiIlgoose Esq, the creative talent behind the band Public Service Broadcasting.

Public Service Broadcasting are one of the most thought-provoking and unique bands to come out of the UK in the last decade, whose albums and live shows weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around live drums, guitar, banjo and electronics. Their 2015 album The Race For Space documents the achievements of the space age, starting with the launch of the Sputnik, first ever satellite, and spanning the lifetime of the Apollo programme, culminating in the first ever moon landing in 1969. The album samples audio from NASA’s mission control, along with contemporaneous news reporting from both Soviet and American media, to celebrate the extraordinary progress made between 1962 and 1972.

As the driving force behind the band, the mysterious and corduroy-clad Willgoose has an established reputation for weaving forensic, historical research into evocative storytelling. The band’s most recent album, Every Valley, take listeners on a journey down the mine-shafts of the South Wales valleys, using the history of coal mining to shine a light on the march of progress, and the disenfranchised left behind by that progress. The critically-acclaimed album was released on Play It Again Sam in July 2015 and charted at #4 in the UK album charts.

Public Service Broadcasting have quickly built a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in the UK, with major appearances at SXSW, Glastonbury, Bestival, Latitude, Green Man plus sell major UK tours including sold out shows at Brixton Academy in 2015, Hammersmith Apollo in 2017 and the Royal Albert Hall.

J Willgoose Esq. will be speaking on the QED main stage as part of our packed weekend programme.

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Skepticamp Returns/news/2018/skepticamp-returns Mon, 30 Jul 2018 11:30:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=skepticamp-returns For the fifth year running, we are pleased to be hosting Skepticamp at QED, where the attendees are responsible for the creation and delivery of the days content, and anyone is welcome to present a talk.

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For the fifth year running, we are pleased to be hosting a Skepticamp at QED, taking place on Friday 12th October. Skepticamp is a free conference that celebrates the incredible work done by grassroots skeptics and activists, where the attendees are responsible for the creation and delivery of the days content, and anyone is welcome to present a talk. You don’t need to be a published author, famous podcaster or professional communicator to get involved.

Skepticamp is about providing an open and accessible platform for all members of the skeptical community to share their ideas, collaborate and discuss the topics they’re passionate about.

Here’s How It Works

If you’d like to present a talk, you’ll need to register ahead of time – as talks come in we’ll put together a schedule, which will be published online in the lead up to the event.

Each speaker will be allocated a fifteen-minute time slot—ten minutes to present and five minutes for questions from the audience. As with last year, we’re adopting the Ignite presentation model of “lightning talks”—presentations will be capped at ten minutes, and each slide in your presentation will be set to automatically advance after twenty seconds (you’ll need to submit your presentation roughly a week prior to the event so we can get it configured).

Ideally your talk should focus on skeptical activism, an issue that’s relevant to the community or a project that you’d like to raise awareness about. If you’re not up for getting up on stage, there’s no pressure! The audience is as crucial a part of Skepticamp as the speakers. Just come along prepared to listen, to be challenged and to meet new friends.

When & Where

SkeptiCamp will take place on Friday, October 12th at Mercure Piccadilly Hotel in Manchester. We will begin after lunch, so there’s plenty of time to travel to the event, and continue through to 5.00pm, giving you just enough time to change into your dancing shoes before the Friday evening mixer.

Tickets & Pricing

Skepticamp Manchester will be free for everyone to attend, regardless of whether you’re planning to attend QED. There’s no need to book a ticket, you’re free to wander in and out of the event throughout the day.

What Next?

If you’d like to register a talk, fill in the form at skepticamp.co.uk and someone from the Skepticamp team will be in touch with you shortly.

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Saturday night at QED 2018—with Alun Cochrane, George Hrab, The Broad Street Score, Eli Bosnick and the Ockhams/news/2018/saturday-night-at-qed-2018 Wed, 25 Jul 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=saturday-night-at-qed-2018 Saturday nights at QED are always special, and this year we are delighted to bring you the Ockham Awards, magician Eli Bosnick, comedian Alun Cochrane, and a special performance of The Broad Street Score by George Hrab.

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Saturday nights at QED are always special, and this year we are delighted to bring you music, comedy, magic, and the ever-popular Ockham Awards!

The Ockham Awards are the annual awards from The Skeptic Magazine celebrating the best of UK skepticism, and highlighting the most troublesome or prominent pseudoscientists. Nominations will be open soon, via the Skeptic Magazine’s website, and the award ceremony will be hosted by magazine editor Deborah Hyde and MC Eli Bosnick. Eli is a New York magician and comedian who co-hosts the hugely popular podcasts God Awful Movies and the Scathing Atheist.

Following the awards, we will be joined by stand-up and past QED favourite, Alun Cochrane. Alun is an award-winning stand-up comedian who has appeared on numerous TV shows including Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Russell Howard’s Good News, Mock The Week, Dave’s One Night Stand, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You and 8 Out Of 10 Cats. He was featured as series regular ‘Sam’ in the Sky Living sitcom Trying Again alongside Chris Addison, and has appeared in Coronation Street, Boomers and Russell Howard’s Christmas film A Gert Lush Christmas.

Finally, to finish the evening, we will host a special performance of The Broad Street Score, written by George Hrab and performed by a string quartet. George was our MC for the inaugural QED in 2011, and is one of the most recognisable voices in skeptical music and podcasting. This year he will be performing The Broad Street Score – a collection which weaves a narrative from George’s songbook, arranged by Slau Halatyn and Veikko Rihu, and performed by our special QED string quartet.

Our Saturday night entertainment is free to all QED ticket holders, and will take place immediately after our Charity Dinner. We look forward to seeing you all there!

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Announcing Sophie Scott... and fewer than 100 tickets left!/news/2018/announcing-sophie-scott-and-fewer-than-100-tickets-left Mon, 02 Jul 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-sophie-scott-and-fewer-than-100-tickets-left The QED team are thrilled to be able to announce our next speaker for QED 2018, head of the Speech Communication Group at University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Professor Sophie Scott.

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The QED team are thrilled to be able to announce our next speaker for QED 2018: Professor Sophie Scott.

Sophie Scott is a neuroscientist and head of the Speech Communication Group at University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Her work has focused on the cognitive neuroscience of language and laughter—work that has even seen her perform stand-up comedy. In 2017, Sophie gave the prestigious Royal Institution’s Christmas Lecture series, on the science of communication and laughter. She has been awarded a UCL Provost’s Award for Public Engagement.

Sophie will be joining a main-stage line up that includes talks from writer Massimo Polidoro, mathematician Hannah Fry, neurologist Steve Novella, science communicator Cara Santa Maria and musician and podcaster George Hrab, with other speakers still to be announced. Plus we’ll have our usual other tracks of panels, podcasts, workshops, and much more besides.

You can pick up your ticket to QED today, but you’d best be quick—there are fewer than 100 QED tickets remaining! And with QED taking a break for 2019 and returning in 2020, there aren’t many tickets left for the final QED of the decade!

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Announcing… Hannah Fry and Massimo Polidoro/news/2018/announcing-hannah-fry-and-massimo-polidoro Thu, 28 Jun 2018 12:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=announcing-hannah-fry-and-massimo-polidoro With a little over three months until QED 2018—the last QED of the decade—we’re pleased to add two more fantastic speakers to our line up: mathematician and broadcaster Hannah Fry, and co-founder of CICAP Massimo Polidoro.

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With a little over three months until QED 2018—the last QED of the decade—we’re pleased to add two more fantastic speakers to our line up: mathematician and broadcaster Hannah Fry, and co-founder of CICAP Massimo Polidoro.

  • Hannah Fry is an Associate Professor in the mathematics of cities from University College London. In her day job she uses mathematical models to study patterns in human behaviour, and has worked building algorithms used by governments, police forces, health analysts and supermarkets. Alongside her academic work, she has fronted several television documentaries for the BBC and hosts a long-running science podcast with the BBC. Her TED talks have amassed millions of views.

  • Massimo Polidoro is an internationally-recognised "mystery detective" and prolific writer, with more than thirty books to his name. He began his career as an apprentice of James Randi, and is an accomplished magician and co-founder and head of the Italian skeptics group CICAP. Massimo was also the first professor of Anomalistic Psychology in Italy, at the University of Milano. With an extensive knowledge of a wide base of skeptical topics he’s often called on TV as an expert or a host for shows related to mysteries. He is a Research Fellow for CSI and a long-time columnist for its magazine, the Skeptical Inquirer.

We still have much more to announce for QED 2018, including more main stage speakers, panel sessions, podcasts, entertainment, plus a few surprises too... however, tickets are going fast, so pick up yours today to avoid disappointment!

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QED 2018 tickets on sale now/news/2018/tickets-on-sale-now Tue, 01 May 2018 18:00:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=tickets-on-sale-now Tickets to QED 2018 are now on sale, priced £113, or £75 for students and under 18s. QED 2018 takes place on the 13th-14th October 2018, with Friday 12th October again featuring a free Skepticamp event.

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The wait is over: tickets to QED 2018 are now on sale! QED 2018 will take place on the 13h-14th of October, with tickets this year costing £113, or £75 for students and under 18s. Friday 12th of October will once again be a free Skepticamp event for all to attend, paving the way for a packed weekend of science, reason and critical thinking.

Taking place at our regular home of Manchester’s Piccadilly Hotel, QED 2018 will feature five rooms of skeptical presentations, panel discussions, podcasts, and more. Already confirmed for the line-up are:

  • Internationally-acclaimed science podcast The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, featuring
    • Dr Steven Novella
    • Cara Santa Maria
    • Jay Novella
    • Bob Novella
    • Evan Bernstein
  • Musician and podcaster George Hrab
  • Comedian, musician, self-professed nerd, and your emcee for the weekend, Helen Arney.

Every weekend ticket also gives attendees access to our Saturday evening entertainment, as well as to the annual Ockham Awards for skeptical excellence, presented by The Skeptic magazine. Also available now are tickets to our Charity Dinner, where you can help raise money for the Good Thinking Society, as well as enjoying a meal in the company of our speakers.

As ever, parents of children under 13 can take advantage of our crèche, supervised and entertained by fully-screened and registered professional childcare workers. This year, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we are delighted to announce that use of our crèche comes free of charge! Find out more about how to book a place at the crèche.

There’s still plenty for us to announce, including panel sessions, podcast recordings, evening entertainment and more speakers, plus a few extra surprises too... so be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to make sure you don’t miss anything.

So book your ticket now and we’ll see you in October!

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Charity Dinner to raise funds for Good Thinking/news/2018/charity-dinner-to-raise-funds-for-good-thinking Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:30:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=charity-dinner-to-raise-funds-for-good-thinking Each year at QED, we’ve held our Gala Dinner on Saturday evening as an opportunity for some of our attendees to enjoy a three-course meal in the company of our speakers. This year, however, rather than our normal Gala Dinner, we’re introducing the Charity Dinner, as an opportunity to raise some money for an organisation doing the kind of skeptical work our community can be proud of.

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Each year at QED, we’ve held our Gala Dinner on Saturday evening as an opportunity for some of our attendees to enjoy a three-course meal in the company of our speakers, ahead of the full evening of entertainment. As QED has grown, the number of people at our dinner has grown, to cater to those who feel comfortable paying a little extra too spend time with our speakers, and to help cover some of the other costs of the evening.

This year, however, we’ve decided to do things a little differently. Rather than our normal Gala Dinner, we’re holding a Charity Dinner, as an opportunity to raise some money for an organisation we feel is a doing the kind of skeptical work our community can be proud of: the Good Thinking Society.

Good Thinking is a skeptical charity founded by Simon Singh, whose work over the last five years has included successfully challenging and reducing NHS spending on homeopathy; supporting skeptical writers and activists who have been threatened with spurious legal claims; challenging pseudoscientific treatments in the fields of veterinary and dental medicine; investigating and challenging the misleading advertising claims of chiropractors and osteopaths; and much, much more.

In order to ensure we raise enough money for Good Thinking, the Charity Dinner will be a little more expensive this year, with tickets costing £80. However, other than the cost of the food itself, every penny will be donated to Good Thinking, to help continue their skeptical work.

We know not everybody will be able to afford to attend the Charity Dinner, but we hope those who want to attend will be happy to support a worthwhile charity. And for everyone who doesn’t attend the dinner, access to the evening’s entertainment will—as always—come as part of your regular QED weekend ticket.

You can find out more about Good Thinking’s work at goodthinkingsociety.org, and you can purchase your Charity Dinner ticket along with your QED ticket when tickets go on sale on May 1st.

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QED returns, with the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, George Hrab, and Helen Arney/news/2018/qed-returns-with-the-skeptics-guide-george-hrab-helen-arney Sat, 31 Mar 2018 10:23:00 +0100 QED http://www.qedcon.org/?d=2018&s=qed-returns-with-the-skeptics-guide-george-hrab-helen-arney QED, the UKʼs largest celebration of science, reason and critical thinking, will return for its eighth year on the 13th–14th October, with guests including performer and podcaster George Hrab, comedian and self-professed nerd Helen Arney, and the award-winning science podcast ‘The Skepticsʼ Guide to the Universe’.

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QED, the UKʼs largest celebration of science, reason and critical thinking, will return for its eighth year on the 13th–14th October, 2018—and weʼre excited to announce that tickets will go on sale at 6pm BST on May 1st, 2018.

While we are working hard on putting together our usual mix of speakers, panels, workshops and podcasts from across the skeptical world, we can already announce that this yearʼs QED will feature:

  • Award-winning science podcast ‘The Skepticsʼ Guide to the Universe’
  • Musician, performer and podcaster George Hrab
  • Comedian, musician and self-professed nerd Helen Arney as our emcee for the weekend

Tickets for QED 2018 will cost £113 for a full weekend ticket and £75 for students and under-18s. Plus weʼll have our usual free all-day fringe event taking place on Friday 12th October.

Once again, QED will be taking place at the Mercure Piccadilly in Manchester, who are already primed and ready to take room reservations for QED attendees. Our QED discount price is £110 for a single room and £120 for a double room—but please note, to get our special price bookings have to be made over the phone, so call 0844 815 9024 and quote ‘QED2018’ during booking. You may also want to shop around, as there may be better offers for the hotel on other websites.

The QED team would also like to take this opportunity to announce that we will be taking a year off in 2019. After eight years of putting together a packed, eclectic, and top-quality line up, we feel we need to take a well-earned break to recharge our collective batteries, before we begin planning QED 2020.

Weʼll be announcing more about the event soon, including guests, panels, podcasts, and much more, so keep your eyes peeled for further announcements and weʼll see you in October!

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