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Event Schedule

We have several parallel tracks of content, spread across four floors of the hotel.

Headline talks take place on the Main Stage, which is located in the International Suite on the third floor.

On the fourth floor we have the Panel Room in the Park Suite, featuring in-depth discussions on skeptical topics. You will also find our Quiet Spaces in case you need a time out.

On the second floor is the Workshop in the Senate Suite.

And finally, in the Portland Suite on the first floor (next to the lobby) are the Live Podcasts.

There are also events on the QED Fringe, which are not part of our programme, but may be of special interest to QED attendees.

Thursday 27th October

19:30

How to Effectively Push Back Against Misinformation

QED Fringe FREE TO ATTEND. Are we living in a post-truth world where facts no longer matter? Scientific research into “debunking” misinformation shows that there is still a place for facts. But when facts are not enough, what can we do? Canadian science commuicator Jonathan Jarry will address fears of the backfire effect, as well as provide evidence-based recommendations on how best to push back against misinformation. . More information is available at the GMSS website.

The King’s Arms, Salford

Note: This event does not take place at the QED Venue


Friday 28th October

11:00 - 16:00

Skepticamp

QED Fringe FREE TO ATTEND. Lightning talks, provided by you. No ticket required, just turn up! The schedule is available now.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

18:00 - 20:00

The Big Skeptic Quiz with Heath Enwright

QED Fringe FREE TO ATTEND. Wet your whistle and sharpen your wits at the QED pub trivia night, hosted by Heath Enwright. Join your fellow power-nerds and forge new alliances in a pitched battle for trivial dominance as you test your knowledge across space, time, and possibly other dimensions.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

19:00 - LATE

The Mixer

QED Fringe FREE TO ATTEND. Whether you're new to QED, attending on your own, or even if you're a QED veteran, the Mixer is the perfect opportunity to get the QED party started early, meet new friends, and introduce yourself to a guest speaker or two. Youʼll also be able to pick up your name badge, saving valuable time on Saturday morning.

Level 3 Bar, Third Floor

Saturday 29th October

08:00 - 09:00

Registration

Pick up your name badge and take your seats, ready for a prompt event start. Doors open 08:30.

Outside the Level 3 Bar, Third Floor

09:00 - 09:10

Opening Ceremony

Main Stage Featuring Paul Duncan McGarrity.

International Suite, Third Floor

09:10 - 10:00

The UK Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic: the brilliant science, the vicious cycles, and where science was not enough

Main Stage Prof. Christina Pagel will discuss how the fundamental nature of Covid-19 transmission and illness led to a vicious cycle of repeating waves of infection, disproportionately affecting deprived communities. She will highlight how there was brilliant science to tackle

International Suite, Third Floor

10:10 - 11:00

Eugenics, and the misuse of Mendel

Main Stage Throughout history, people have sought to improve society by reducing suffering, eliminating disease or enhancing desired qualities in their children. But this wish goes hand-in-hand with the desire to impose control over who can marry, who can procreate and who is permitted to live. Dr Adam Rutherford will discuss the history of attempts regulate the interface of breeding and society.

International Suite, Third Floor

Raising Objections: Parenting Skeptically

Panel Room Parenting can be a minefield of misleading claims - from pregnancy pseudoscience and maternity misinformation, to navigating schooling and avoiding indoctrination, to a near-constant barrage of regressive stereotypes and cultural clichés. In a society that has no end of ideas about how children should be raised, how can parents hope to steer clear of the pitfalls to engender a sense of curiosity, compassion and skepticism in their children? Featuring Ruth Abbott, Eli Bosnick, Britt Hermes, Thomas Smith, and chair Lana Donaghy.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

11:10 - 12:00

How to Lie with Facts: Disinformation Tactics after the Pandemic

Main Stage When Covid-19, hit the world was suddenly faced with a daily slew of data to explain what was happening. At the same time, online communities began to develop alternative narratives, often using the same data to tell a very different story. While microchips and 5G have featured, probably the most widespread misinformation narratives have been those that manipulate real data to create a very convincing world of alternative facts. Rachel Schraer will discuss the challenge that poses, and ask if it gives us clues to a solution?

International Suite, Third Floor

Who's Your Daddy? A panel on genealogy

Panel Room The companies behind at-home DNA testing claim health conditions can be diagnosed, dietary requirements can be finessed, prescriptions can be targeted, and long lost relatives can be identified. But how accurate are these tests, what are the risks involved with them? Chairing our genealogy panel at QED will be Andy Wilson, who has been on his own four year journey to identify his previously unidentified father. Featuring Jonathan Jarry, Adam Rutherford, and Penny Walters.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

Science Shambles

Live Podcast Science Shambles is the podcast where world leading scientists just chat about scientific things like physics and biology and sometimes less scientific things like the Sharknado films. From cutting edge research and big ideas to popular science books and documentaries, everything is open for discussion. For QED, physicist Helen Czerski will discuss the future of sustainable automotive engineering with MacLaren engineer Ella Podmore.

Portland Suite, First Floor

The Skeptics in the Pub Forum

Workshop When the pandemic hit, many Skeptics in the Pub groups collaborated to produce the highly-successful Skeptics in the Pub Online series. Now that real-world, in-person events are back, skeptics are venturing back into their pub habitats, picking back up where we all left off - meeting new challenges along the way, as well as encountering familiar old issues, too. So whether you’re a veteran of the Skeptics in the Pub scene, or you’re looking to set up a new group in your hometown, our workshop is for you. Featuring Clio Bellenis, Pontus Böckman, Brian Eggo, Kat Ford, and David Glass.

Senate Suite, Second Floor

12:00 - 13:00

Lunch


13:00 - 13:50

Prevent cancer by detecting and eliminating The First Cell

Main Stage The mortality rates for common cancers diagnosed in advanced stages haven’t changed since 1930. The issue is not a lack understanding, but why we seem unable to use the advances reported in around five million scientific publications to benefit patients. This disconnect between bench and bedside suggests a profound failure to appreciate the complexity of the malignant process. Dr Azra Raza will discuss how the best approach for the future is to diagnose cancer early and make The First Cell its last, if the right intellectual and financial resources are invested.

International Suite, Third Floor

Neurodiversity: The Real Superpower

Panel Room Step aside Captain Marvel, buzz off Ant-Man. The real superheroes are here. Neurodiversity is on the rise, and with it come a legion of superpowered savants with enhanced memories, superior problem solving abilities, and debilitating anxiety disorders. Though initially coined by the autistic community itself, the narrative of ‘neurodiversity as a superpower` is now pushed onto neurodiverse individuals by well-meaning allies. This leaves many who struggle with the experience of being socially ostracised, patronised, or compared to heartless robots, wondering ‘what superpowers?’ Featuring Lindsey Osterman, Lana Donaghy, Alice Howarth and chair Mike Hall.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

InKredulous

Live Podcast 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 pseudoscience and marvel at how they get away with it. Featuring Kat Ford, Michael Marshall, Noah Lugeons, and Jonathan Jarry.

Portland Suite, First Floor

14:00 - 14:50

The Geological Record of Climate Change

Main Stage The Earth is warming and changes in our climate are of global concern. However, it’s important to understand that before humans inhabited the Earth, the climate varied from ice sheets extending to low-latitudes, to water at the equator being the temperature of bath water. These dramatic changes were driven by a range of natural processes, controlling the habitability of our planet and its associated biodiversity. In this talk Dr Chris Jackson will look at the geological record of climate change, and how it helps us understand our present and future climate.

International Suite, Third Floor

Rabbitholes and radicalisation: the growth of the conspiracy theory ecosystem

Panel Room From the flat earth, to QAnon, to pandemic denialism, recent years have seen an astonishing rise of grand, all-encompassing conspiracy theories. How do so many people come to believe in such dark and sinister versions of reality, and what are the factors - social, psychological and technological - that draw them deeper and deeper into their delusions? Our panel to discuss why people fall into conspiracy theory rabbitholes, and how to help them back out, will be Aaron Rabinowitz, Rachel Schraer, Ema Sullivan-Bissett and chair Michael Marshall.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor
15:00 - 15:50

Rogue Scientists and the Elephant(s) in the Room

Main Stage It’s increasingly challenging to keep developments in biotechnology in order. From experimental stem cell therapies to the CRISPR babies scandal, it seems that regardless of public education, desperate patients still fall into the hands of rogue scientists. Instead of simply being ‘bad scientists duping the public’, the human stories behind rogue science often point to more unsettling questions about what we expect of each other and of science. In this talk, Dr Joy Y Zhang will discuss the elephants in the room that rogue experimentation point to and what it says about science and us.

International Suite, Third Floor

Empowerment or Exploitation: The Wellness Industry

Panel Room In a world where chronic illnesses go undiagnosed for years and access to medical support for mental health illnesses is either prohibitively expensive or subject to gargantuan wait times, it’s easy to see how there is a gap in provision for people with medical needs. Stepping enthusiastically forward to fill that gap is the wellness industry, with its claims to give patients control over their health, to empower them to make medical choices that suit their needs, and to give them the gentle ear of a practitioner who’s always willing to listen. But is ‘wellness’ truly empowering patients? Or is it exploiting their need for answers in difficult times, support in the face of challenging symptoms, and certainty when they’re exhausted by understanding the complexities of their health issues? Featuring Alice Howarth, Britt Hermes, Jonathan Jarry, and chair Nicola Throp.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

Serious Inquiries Only

Live Podcast Serious Inquiries Only digs deep on the science behind viral headlines, right-wing talking points, and other public misconceptions! Running for over 300 shows since 2016, when it took over from its predecessor Atheistically Speaking, SIO is hosted by Thomas Smith and Lindsey Osterman.

Portland Suite, First Floor
16:00 - 16:50

God Awful Movies: Vaxxed II

Main Stage Vaxxed II: The People’s Truth is the anti-vaccine propaganda film produced by Robert F. Kennedy, and starring Del Bigtree. Released as a sequel to the 2016 original, it furthers dangerous myths around vaccines and autism. Join Noah Lugeons, Heath Enwright, and Eli Bosnick as they tackle this ‘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 will be appearing for the first time on the QED main stage.

International Suite, Third Floor

17:00 - 18:30

Break


18:30 - 20:30

The Charity Dinner

In support of FareShare. FareShare work to alleviate food poverty by redirecting edible food that would otherwise go to waste towards charities who provide food for the most vulnerable. Doors open at 18:15.

International Suite, Third Floor

20:30 - LATE

Saturday Night at QED

Main Stage Featuring the Ockham Awards, followed by comedy with Rachel Fairburn, Tiff Stevenson, and magic from Paul Zenon. Presented by Eli Bosnick.

International Suite, Third Floor

Sunday 30th October

10:00 - 10:10

Welcome Back

Main Stage Featuring Paul Duncan McGarrity. Doors open at 9:30.

International Suite, Third Floor

10:10 - 11:00

The Placebo Myth

Main Stage The placebo effect is one of the most powerful medical responses there is. It can cure your knee pain, relieve your asthma, or even help you lose weight. This isn’t wishy-washy alternative New Age nonsense; it works in animals, it works in children, and it even works if you think it won’t. There seems to be no end to it’s amazing healing power. So why, asks Mike Hall, does the best evidence tell us that none of this is true? Why does the data show placebos perform no better than doing nothing? And how is this myth so deeply ingrained and unquestioned in modern medicine?

International Suite, Third Floor

11:10 - 12:00

The rights and wrongs of pre-natal screening

Main Stage In this talk, Prof. Tom Shakespeare will give a personal view, informed by disability research and bioethics thinking, tempering support for testing and termination with a disability equality perspective. He will cover NIPT and other Down syndrome screening, as well as the difficult dilemmas when families know they are affected by a genetic anomaly. Tom is professor of disability research at LSHTM and has published over 100 papers and chapters about disability as a qualitative sociologist.

International Suite, Third Floor

Human Rights - human, right?

Panel Room Is torture ever acceptable? Was David Cameron reasonable in feeling ‘physically ill’ at the idea of giving prisoners the vote? For which crimes should we be able to strip someone of their citizenship? And on what basis should we consider deporting asylum seekers to a third state? T The declarations and conventions which have emerged as a response to the second-world war are frequently being assailed with national security concerns and issues of sovereignty. Featuring Emma McClure, Qays Sediqi, and chair Rick Owen.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

Skeptics with a K

Live Podcast Produced by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, Skeptics with a K is the longest-running skeptical podcast in the UK. Each episode features skeptical breakdowns of credulous newspaper stories, the latest health fads, myths and misconceptions, and reports on skeptical activism and investigations. Featuring Mike Hall, Alice Howarth, and Michael Marshall.

Portland Suite, First Floor

12:00 - 13:00

Lunch


13:00 - 13:50

It’s Normal to be Delusional

Main Stage We’re usually pretty good at explaining why people believe things. Why does John believe the film starts at 8? Because he read the listings. Why does Carol believe the Earth is flat? She was persuaded by her friends. Both beliefs may be false, but we have no trouble explaining them. Things seem different with delusion, where beliefs seem to elude explanation. It’s natural to try to identify errors in the way people form beliefs, to understand why things have gone wrong. Ema Sullivan-Bissett will explain why this is a mistake, and why it’s normal to be delusional.

International Suite, Third Floor

Let's Actually Talk About Sex

Panel Room Sex - everyone’s doing it, and if you’re not; is there something wrong with you? Everyone’s talking about it, but are the conversations actually including everyone? The media is saturated with coverage of sex and relationships, but how much of that coverage is responsible, accurate, inclusive and positive? In this panel we’ll examine the discourse around sex and sexuality, and how it can overlook the needs, desires and pleasures of almost everyone. From the pseudoscientific and potentially dangerous products that pop up to fill needs created by media distortions and misconceptions, to the myths and misguided beliefs that persist across society, there’s certainly plenty for our panel of sex experts to grapple with. Featuring Justin Hancock, Tom Shakespeare, and Alice Howarth with chair Lana Donaghy.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

The European Skeptics Podcast

Live Podcast Brought to life in 2015, the European Skeptics Podcast has a clear mission to serve the international community of skeptics as an information and networking hub, focusing on Europe. With almost 350 episodes and 170 interviews with a wide range of skeptics representing all kinds of projects and organisations spread across dozens of countries, this award-winning weekly show is also a celebration of the diversity of the European skeptic movement. Featuring Pontus Böckman, Annika Harrison, and András Pintér with guests Brian Eggo, and Claire Klingenberg.

Portland Suite, First Floor

14:00 - 14:50

Sharp Focus: The continuing journey to a safer Scotland

Main Stage In 2005, Glasgow was the ‘murder capital of Europe’ but a decade later homicide rates had fallen by 60%. Dr Tom Berry will look at what has changed in recent years including the nature of violent crime in Scotland, the prevention initiatives introduced (especially by Medics Against Violence), and what has been learned. As a director of MAV, he is passionate about advocating and promoting a public health approach to violence reduction. His campaign work has seen him appear on BBC News, Channel 4, and BBC Radio 4.

International Suite, Third Floor

Are we winning?

Panel Room Looking around at a world awash with misinformation, it’s easy for the even the most optimistic skeptic to feel disheartened. Across the world, we’ve watched on as viral pseudoscience has exacerbated a viral pandemic, as patients have put their trust and their health in the hands of would-be gurus and healers, and as conspiracy theories have inspired thousands to take to the streets in order to fight back against one moral panic or another. Yet, that isn’t to say that we ought to pessimistic. Recent years have seen significant advances in fight against alternative medicine, particularly in Europe; the community of people who reject religious dogma appears to be growing year-on-year; and the pandemic itself demonstrated to the public the importance of evidence-based policy and the life-saving nature of scientific ingenuity. So, are we winning? Featuring Diana Barbosa, Noah Lugeons, Claire Klingenberg and chair Michael Marshall.

Park Suite, Fourth Floor

15:00 - 15:50

Sunrise and sunset through exoplanet atmospheres

Main Stage The study of exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars, is a fascinating new field of discovery. The question of how stars and planetary systems form and evolve is one of the biggest in Astronomy and is at the root of one of the most important questions we’ve had since we looked up at the stars: ‘How did we get here?’. Dr Hannah Wakeford will take us on a journey to explore how we measure and understand the nature these strange new worlds, and dive into the atmospheres of alien planets to discover the truly wild nature of the other planets in our universe

International Suite, Third Floor

15:50 - 16:00

Closing Ceremony


This information may be subject to change, though we will endeavour to keep this page up to date.