What’s on at QED?
Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian, part of the Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and an alumni of our very first QED in 2011. A former maths teacher, Matt brings his love of mathematics to his comedy, having toured the country with maths-themed stand-up shows in addition to presenting for maths-related topics on television and radio. His book ‘Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension’ was published in 2014, and he is the Public Engagement in Mathematics Fellow at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Mathematical Sciences. Matt will be our Master of Ceremonies for 2016.
Susan Blackmore is Visiting Professor in psychology at the University of Plymouth and one of the most prominent early figures of the modern UK skepticism. Her personal encounters with perceived out of body experiences while studying at university led Susan to study the phenomena fully. She researched parapsychology, conducting studies for both the Parapsychology Foundation and the Society for Psychical Research covering topics such as out-of-body experiences and psychic twin phenomena.
Michael Blastland is a freelance writer and broadcaster, who created the popular BBC radio series ‘More or Less’, examining statistical errors in the news. His books ‘The Tiger That Isn’t’ and ‘The Norm Chronicles’ quantify the role of chance in our lives, issues with the public misunderstanding of risk, and the cognitive biases which often inhibit our understanding of probability. He currently presents ‘The Human Zoo’ for BBC Radio 4.
Petra Boynton is a Social Psychologist working in International Health Research; where she offers training and support to individuals, charities, universities, politicians and NGOs on finding, critiquing and using evidence in practice. Her research focuses on sex and relationships during pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and parenthood. She has been an Agony Aunt for the past 14 years, the last three of which have been at The Telegraph.
Alan Melikdjanian, better known as his superhero alter-ego Captain Disillusion, is an independent filmmaker who examines viral videos and paranormal reports to identify and expose signs of hoaxes and special effects. With over 100,000 YouTube subscribers and over 8,000,000 cumulative views, Captain Disillusion has debunked some of the most widely spread hoax viral videos, demonstrating precisely the techniques involved in producing each hoax. Photo by Susan Gerbic
Timandra Harkness is a comedian, writer and presenter whose work for the BBC has seen her presenting documentaries on the psychology of ideology, the role of technology in future-proofing our lives, and the challenges and opportunities of Big Data. Timandra has appeared at Edinburgh Fringe with QED alumni Matt Parker, and at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Her first book ‘Big Data: Does Size Matter’ will be out later this year.
Britt Hermes is a former naturopath whose investigation of the evidence in her field led her to abandon naturopathy and become a science communicator and biomedical researcher. Having realized she had fallen prey to the misinformation machine of alternative medicine, Britt gave up her naturopathic practice in the United States and began vocally criticizing her former profession. She writes about her experiences on her blog, Naturopathic Diaries, as well as contributing to Science 2.0, KevinMD, and Science-Based Medicine.
Meirion Jones was a BBC producer who is in the unusual position of winning the 2013 Scoop of the Year award for a programme which was never broadcast: his exposure of Jimmy Savile as a paedophile. He also won the Daniel Pearl International Award for Investigative Journalism in 2010 for his reports on toxic waste dumping by Trafigura in Africa. He has exposed everything from the fixing of the 2000 US election, to how Britain helped Israel get the atom bomb, from corrupt politicians to the affair of Mark Stone and the undercover cops, as well as homeopaths and healers.
Karl Kruszelnicki, better known as Dr Karl, is one of Australia’s most recognisable broadcasters and science communicators. His weekly appearances on 5 Live’s ‘Up All Night’ see him answering science questions from listeners on almost any topic, with particular focus on his specialisms of physics, medicine, surgery, and engineering. In 2002 he won an Ignobel prize for his research on the colour of belly button fluff, and in 2007 he named ‘Skeptic of the Year’ by the Australian Skeptics. Strange but true: the first recorded use of the word “selfie” was on Dr Karl’s website.
Sally Le Page
Sally Le Page is the host of ‘Shed Science’, a YouTube series exploring the world of biology, from genetics to behaviour, produced from her garden shed. Her video ‘Without Evolution’, won the national The Guardian and Oxford University Press Very Short Film Competition in 2013. Outside of the Shed, Sally regularly teaches life science to children at the Oxford Museum of Natural History and presented the pilot for a natural history programme for CBeebies.
Cara Santa Maria
Cara Santa Maria is a broadcaster, podcaster and science communicator whose podcast ‘Talk Nerdy’ features an in-depth interview each week with a figure from the world of science. She has written on science-related topics for the Huffington Post, contributes to ‘TechKnow’ for Al-Jazeera America, and co-hosts the Saturday morning television show ‘Fablab’ on Fox. In July 2015 Cara joined the cast of ‘rogues’ on the hugely-popular ‘Skeptics Guide to the Universe’ podcast.
Mark Stevenson is a writer and comedian whose book ‘The Optimist’s Tour of the Future’ took him in search of the technological breakthroughs which could help tackle the biggest threats of our age, from climate change and disease to energy and food security. Mark is an advisor to The Virgin Earth Challenge and the Trillion Fund, and runs the League of Pragmatic Optimists. His second book ‘We Do Things Differently’ is scheduled for release in September 2016.
In a career spanning three decades, Paul Zenon has performed for audiences in around forty countries and made hundreds of TV appearances as performer, presenter, and pundit. He was the UK pioneer of the Street Magic genre and in recent years was involved in high-profile investigations into stage psychics.
Saturday Night Entertainment
Dave Alnwick is a mentalist whose shows Mind Wizard and the Cult of Dave have sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has performed for Skeptics in the Pub audiences around the country, including discussing some of the psychology behind his performance. Dave will be performing as part of QED‘s Saturday Night Cabaret.
Tiernan Douieb has performed all over the world, including supporting Frankie Boyle on his latest UK tour. He hosts the Partly Political Broadcast podcast, has appeared on Channel 4’s Fresh Meat, had his back shaved by Gillian Anderson for Comic Relief, and wrote for and performed with a fully operational joke telling robot. Tiernan will be performing as part of QED’s Saturday Night Cabaret.
Grace Petrie is a folk singer, songwriter, and activist who exploded onto the national protest scene in 2010 with the emotive anthem Farewell to Welfare, which captured perfectly the spirit of the new wave of dissent in austerity Britain. Since then, she has written, recorded and toured relentlessly, with her unique takes on life, love and politics.
Salima Budhani is a solicitor in Bindmans’ Public Law and Human Rights team, whose work has seen her defend people’s right to protest, represent the rights of trans people and victims of human trafficking, and challenge the lawfulness of immigration detention for people with health conditions. Working with the Good Thinking Society, Salima brought a successful legal challenge against NHS Liverpool CCG for the provision of homeopathy using NHS funds and has investigated and challenged NHS funding for homeopathy around the country. Salima will be appearing on the ‘Skeptical Activism Under the Microscope’ panel.
Trent Burton is the co-director and founder of Trunkman Productions, a multimedia and live events production company focused on science entertainment. His work includes The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome, Book Shambles, The Infinite Monkey Cage, the upcoming Moncure Conway documentary, The Empty Niche and most recently the children’s web series The Quest For Wonder starring Robin Ince and Professor Brian Cox. Trent will be appearing on the Engaging Kids with the Wonder of Science Panel.
Hugo Dixon is a journalist and an entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of CommonGround, which is ‘fighting to pull Britain together at a time when other forces are pulling it apart’. He is chairman and editor-in-chief of InFacts, a journalistic enterprise making the fact-based case for Britain to stay in the EU. He also founded Breakingviews. He writes for The FT, The Guardian and other publications. His most recent book is The In/Out Question: Why Britain should stay in the EU and fight to make it better.
Michael Dougan is a Professor of European Law at the University of Liverpool, specialising in EU constitutional law, the Single Market and EU welfare law. He has published widely on the EU's constitutional framework after the Lisbon Treaty, on the principle of direct effect of Union law in national courts, and on the enforcement of Union law. Ahead of the EU referendum his video on the facts behind the rhetoric went viral, gaining almost two million views.
Sarah Farmer is a dentist working in an oral and maxillofacial surgery unit in Liverpool. With a background in biomedical research, she is passionate about providing evidence based dentistry, with a particular interest in antimicrobial prescribing. She is also a member of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. Sarah will be appearing on the ‘Dental Pseudoscience’ panel.
Max Goldman joined Sense about Science in 2013 and works specifically on their ‘Ask for Evidence’ campaign. He has an MRes from the London Consortium, a cross-disciplinary group of museums, galleries and academic institutions designed to bridge the gap between public and academic discussion, and a BA in philosophy and theology from the University of Oxford. Max will be appearing on the ‘March of Unreason?‘ panel.
Deborah Hyde is the editor of The Skeptic magazine and a full-time film-industry production manager, so she is no stranger to how people can be fooled. She writes about belief in the malign macabre at jourdemayne.com. Deborah will be chairing the Team Spirit panel.
Martin Law runs a private practice in Portsmouth where he is an active member of Portsmouth Skeptics In The Pub and a fierce opponent of pseudoscience in dental practice. He has made ASA complaints regarding untruthful advertising and marketing in the dental industry, and has helped to eliminate favourable reporting of the Burzynski Clinic in his local paper. Martin will be appearing on the ‘Dental Pseudoscience’ panel.
Andy Lewis has been blogging and campaigning about Alternative Medicine and Alternative Education for ten years at the Quackometer. He was a co-founder of the successful Stop The Saatchi Bill campaign which was set up to oppose Lord Saatchi's 'Quacks' Charter' Private Member's Bill becoming law. Andy will be appearing on the ‘Skeptical Activism Under the Microscope’ panel.
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. Emma will be appearing on the Legal Name Fraud: The Truth panel.
Jamie Potter is a Partner in Bindmans’ Public Law and Human Rights team, specialising in judicial review, human rights, freedom of information, parliamentary practice and procedure, public policy and public procurement. Working with the Good Thinking Society, Jamie brought successful legal challenges against the Department of Health and NHS Liverpool CCG for the provision of homeopathy using NHS funds, resulting in the high-profile agreement by the Department of Health to consider blacklisting homeopathy from NHS prescriptions. Jamie will be appearing on the ‘Skeptical Activism Under the Microscope’ panel.
Grant Ritchey has been a staunch science based dentist for thirty years and has attend the American Dental Association’s Centre for Evidence Based Dentistry conference as both a participant and a speaker. Moreover, he writes for the Science Based Medicine blog, hosts The Prism Podcast and recently spoke at NECSS and the American College of Dentists about the hazards of alternative dentistry. Grant will be appearing on the ‘Dental Pseudoscience’ panel.
Emma Runswick is a medical student and NHS campaigner. She sits on the BMA Medical Students Committee and has been involved in the Junior Doctors dispute and the professional responses to government health policies such as the 7 Day NHS, the Five Year Forward View and compulsory NHS service for doctors. She has particular interest in public health and behaviour change strategies.
Shaun Sellars is a dentist and co-organiser of Lincoln Skeptics in the Pub, Lincoln PubhD and Nerd Nite Lincoln. He has has written in critique of alternative dental health claims made in blogs and magazines like What Doctors Don’t Tell You including questionable health claims regarding amalgam removal. Shaun will be appearing on the ‘Dental Pseudoscience’ panel.
Simon Singh is a best-selling science writer and journalist, whose skeptical writing on chiropractic was famously the subject of an unsuccessful legal action by the British Chiropractic Association. As a result of this, he was at the forefront of the successful Libel Reform Campaign. In 2006, he worked with Newsnight and Sense About Science to expose common claims by homeopaths to be able to prevent malaria. In 2012 Simon founded the Good Thinking Society, where as Chairman he has overseen projects investigating faith healers and psychics, reporting misleading claims by chiropractors and osteopaths, and challenging the NHS funding of homeopathy. Simon will be appearing on the ‘Skeptical Activism Under the Microscope’ panel.
Ginny Smith is a science communicator who has performed science shows about the brain at many a science festival including Cheltenham, Blue Dot, Cambridge and Manchester as well as to school groups around the country. She presents science and technology TV and radio shows for groups including The Naked Scientists and Cambridge TV, interviewing experts on topics ranging from consciousness to graphene. Ginny will be appearing on the Engaging Kids with the Wonder of Science Panel.
Hayley Stevens is a skeptic paranormal researcher. Believer-turned-skeptic, with over a decade of ghost research under her belt, she examines strange sightings, photos, videos, sound recordings and more to determine their rational causes. She is often sought for an expert opinion on weird stuff—from ghosts to monsters and fairies by a range of media outlets and other researchers. Hayley will be appearing on the Team Spirit panel.
Justin Stoneman is a news journalist and broadcaster specialising in undercover investigations. He has written for every national British newspaper. His recent work has uncovered Amazon marketing fake cancer cures, charities being given tax breaks for promoting homeopathy to AIDS patients, chiropractors treating newborn babies, promoters of Miracle Mineral Solution as a cure for autism, and more. Throughout the last two years he has investigated the Freeman of the Land movement and its links to alternative cancer cures. Justin will be appearing on the Legal Name Fraud: The Truth panel.
Laura Thomason’s work as Project Leader for the Good Thinking Society has seen her investigating and reporting dentists who scaremonger over mercury amalgam fillings, and working with the GDC to have guidance issued on what claims can be made in dental advertising. Beyond dentistry, Laura has been responsible in the last year for over 500 complaints about misleading claims made by chiropractors, osteopaths, homeopathic vets and more. Laura will be appearing on the ‘Dental Pseudoscience’ panel.
Caroline Watt is a founder member of Edinburgh University’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit who earlier this year was appointed to the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology. Caroline is a past President of the Parapsychological Association, runs a popular online parapsychology course that includes skeptical perspectives on the topic, and in 2016 her latest book Parapsychology: A Beginner's Guide was published. Caroline will be appearing on the Team Spirit panel.
Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He has written several best-selling books including The Luck Factor, Quirkology, and 59 Seconds. Richard has also acted as a creative consultant to Derren Brown, Mythbusters, and Heston Blumenthal. He can turn a tea towel into a chicken, but doesn’t like to brag about it.
Eli Bosnick is a comedian, magician, and podcaster in New York, New York. As co-host of God Awful Movies, The Scathing Atheist, and The Skepticrat he’s managed to turn high school bullying into a life long career which is exactly the OPPOSITE of what the guidance counsellor told him. As a magician he is the founder and producer of New York City’s best rated magic show “A Taste of Magic”. He has been featured in the New York Times, performed for two U.S. Presidents, and is the head of the largest independent group of magicians in the United States. Eli will be recording an episode of God Awful Movies on the QED podcast track.
Cecil Cicirello is the co-creator of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast. He’s also the editor, website administrator, marketing manager, guest relations specialist, creative director, sound engineer, IT support, head writer, HR specialist, accounts payable, accounts receivable, security, craft service, gaffer, key grip, and best boy. He enjoys long walks in the park, a glass of bourbon by the fireplace, and pizza you eat with a fork. Cecil will be appearing in a live edition of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast at QED.
Tom Curry is the co-creator of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast. Unlike other podcasters, Tom doesn't have a laundry list of other accomplishments and accolades because he has a real job with actual medical benefits and a retirement plan. When he's not driving Cecil crazy, he's probably sleeping. Tom will be appearing in a live edition of the Cognitive Dissonance podcast at QED.
Heath Enwright is the co-creator of the Podcast Award winning Scathing Atheist podcast, and the co-host of God Awful Movies; a Christian movie review podcast that lambastes the very worst Christian cinema has to offer. In his spare time, Heath enjoys being constitutionally protected from self-incrimination. Heath will be recording an episode of God Awful Movies on the QED podcast track.
Mike Hall is the President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and host of the Skeptics with a K podcast. He was one of the driving forces behind the 2010 10:23 Campaign and has helped expose the sham “Shuzi band” sports bracelet. Mike once appeared on the Sky One gameshow “Are You Smarter Than A 10 Year Old”. He wasn’t. Mike will be recording an episode of Skeptics with a K on the QED podcast track.
Alice Howarth is a cancer research PhD student at the University of Liverpool and secretary of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. She is part of the Skeptics with a K team, has investigated psychic shows and cancer quackery events, and has written for The Guardian. Alice will be recording an episode of Skeptics with a K on the QED podcast track.
Noah Lugeons is the co-creator of the Podcast Award winning Scathing Atheist podcast, and the host of the Podcast Award eligible God Awful Movies podcast. He is the author of Diatribes Volume One: 50 Essays From a Godless Misanthrope, and a proud vertebrate. In his spare time, he enjoys writing bios in the third person. Noah will be recording Lugeons episode of God Awful Movies on the QED podcast track.
Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. ‘Marsh’ regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests, and lecturing on journalism and PR at a number of universities. He has written for The Guardian, The Times and New Statesman. Michael will be recording an episode of Skeptics with a K on the QED podcast track.
Andy Wilson is co-organiser of the QED conference and host of perennial QED-favourite InKredulous. As a former board member of the Merseyside Skeptics Society he was one of the driving forces behind the 2010 10:23 overdose campaign, and he took the role of MC at QED 2012. Andy will be hosting the InKredulous podcast.
Cognitive Dissonance is a foul-mouthed, irreverent skeptical, atheist podcast featuring a couple of American goofballs who thought someone might enjoy eavesdropping on their friendship. It is a news opinion show with lots of obscene and inappropriate humour and very few filters. Cognitive Dissonance has been referred to as the “Car Talk” of Atheist Podcasts. Then again, Peter Popoff has been referred to as a human being. We remain skeptical. So should you.
God Awful Movies
If there were really a god, would he inspire such god awful cinema? Noah Lugheons, Heath Enwright, and Eli Bosnick tackle some of the very worst offerings from Christian cinema, and will be appearing in their first ever live show outside of the US to pull apart yet another piece of pious propaganda.
What would QED be without our stalwart and much-loved InKredulous? See the satirical skeptical panel show that brought you Brian Thompson’s racist cat, Natalie Haynes live broadcast of the Murder She Wrote them tune, Andy Wilson’s trusty saxophone, Jon Ronson’s dog poo dilemma and Marsh’s Very Hungry Caterpillar pun.
Skeptics with a K
Skeptics with a K is the flagship podcast of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, where QED co-organisers Mike Hall and Michael Marshall are joined by cancer researcher Alice Howarth to dissect stories of a skeptical interest, pick through badly-conducted and misreported studies, highlight dodgy PR in the news and analyse outrageous pseudoscientific claims. First published in August 2009, Skeptics with a K is the longest-running skeptical podcast in the UK, and their appearance at QED will be only the second full episode recorded in front of a live audience.
Talk Nerdy is a place for conversations with interesting people about interesting topics. Each episode features Cara Santa Maria speaking with fascinating people from the worlds of science, politics, atheism and beyond, for a in-depth and candid conversation. Joining Cara Santa Maria for a live Talk Nerdy at QED will be Professor Susan Blackmore.
Paul Duncan McGarrity
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. Photo by Vikki Ellis.
Stevyn Colgan is a writer and former police officer, who proved to be one of the most popular speakers at QED 2013, following his talk on the innovative crime-prevention tactics he helped devise while part of the London Metropolitan Police Problem Solving Unit. He is also a writer and researcher for QI. Stevyn will be the host and quizmaster for the QED Quiz on Friday night.